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Author Archive | Kirsten Mayer

Trek 100km along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road – join Diabetes NSW & ACT’s adventure of a lifetime!

Celebrating its sixth year this year, the trek covers 100km from Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles across Victoria’s rugged coastline. Lace up your hiking boots and join Diabetes NSW & ACT for this seven day, 100km trek along the Great Ocean Road. Set yourself a challenge for fun, fitness and fundraising.

The Great Ocean Road Trek runs over five days and hikers say they take inspiration from the breathtaking scenery of Victoria’s rugged coast along the way. Connecting to nature, observing koalas in their natural habitat and discovering the full beauty of the region’s abundant flora and fauna is part of the daily experience. Participants comment on the spectacular beauty of the trek and their delight at hearing echoes of birdsong as they wind their way through forests, rocky shores, deserted beaches and windswept clifftops.

Our team took the opportunity to interview Beverley on the experience – from signing up through to conquering the five day challenge in October this year. Beverley said “I often wondered in recent years, if ever I was to be challenged, could I rise to the occasion?” Beverley went on to disclose to us the contemplation process prior to embarking on the Great Ocean Road Trek adventure. “I knew it would not be easy, as I would have my age against me (68), and type 1 diabetes to contend with. When I saw the article on the 2018 trek, I knew it was time to answer those nagging doubts I had!” Beverley recalled.

Beverley’s adventure of a lifetime – 100km across the Great Ocean Road!

Beverley said her favourite moments included witnessing the colour of the ocean shift from grey to blue, the cliff views and the comradery that comes with finishing a challenging endeavour with likeminded individuals.

“As a team, we helped each other, laughed with each other and deepened our connection, as we trudged as a group further along the length of the coastline.”

The elation didn’t stop there for Beverley and the intrepid team. Her excitement at reaching the Twelve Apostles is contagious. “As we reached the final hilltop, the summit seemed to be silhouetted against the vast, blue sky. I felt like the twelve apostles were waving to us upon our arrival. An incredibly joyful feeling!” said Beverley.

Are you ready for an adventure of a lifetime?

Expressions of interest for 2020 are open, submit your registration by 31st January and save $150 on early bird offering. Don’t miss out, simply email fundraising@diabetesnsw.com.au or head to https://diabetesnsw.com.au/great-ocean-road-trek/ to find out more

 

Alternative activities

Have park closures or extreme weather conditions cancelled your plans?

Here are oodles of awesome alternate activity ideas.

No need to do them alone! Meet the group you were planning to head outdoors with at a cafe or library instead. Have fun and feel good about these ‘indoor adventures’ together!

  1. Find and schedule the walks and activities you want to lead in the new year
  2. Not a leader yet? Call a current club leader and ask if you can buddy up to learn to lead – they are friendly folk!
  3. Read the Bushwalking Manual – a great read for everyone doing all kinds of outdoor adventure 🙂
  4. Get started on a first aid course – you can do the pre-reading online for free! https://pfa.stjohn.org.au/
  5. Meet up with a club buddy to plan a club activity together in the new year
  6. Read our Risk Management Guidelines – it is truly worthwhile
  7. Learn all about our insurance – consider becoming an insurance officer – ask us how
  8. Start planning and coordinating a risk management training session for your club. You don’t have to know it all – ask club members with each special expertise to talk on their bit.
  9. Run a navigation theory session for your club and friends
  10. Learn how you can help our suffering wildlife: WIRES & NWC
  11. Write to members of parliament to ask for a climate action leadership:
    1. Federal Ministers.
    2. NSW Members.
    3. ACT Members.
    4. Tell them you’d rather be bushwalking or hiking, healthy and active, than sitting indoors because of extreme weather events!
  12. Brainstorm how to engage more youth in your club
  13. Organise your photos and send in some great ones to us so we can share them through our newsletter and website – email to admin@bushwalkingnsw.org.au.
  14. Contribute your photos and descriptions of the great walks of NSW & the ACT to manual@bushwalkingvictoria.org.au
  15. Check out all the resources available for you on the Bushwalking NSW website
  16. Ask your club management committee if they need any help
  17. Sign up for a Bushwalking NSW working group
  18. Help Bushwalking NSW develop a Hot/Extreme Weather Policy that can help all our clubs – contact us now!
  19. Schedule club social events for the new year
  20. Look for great speakers for next year’s club meetings
  21. Call friends affected by extreme weather and learn how they are doing
  22. Prepare you home for fire as a group – going to each member’s home to clip and clear.
  23. Learn how to plan and prepare for fire
  24. Help out others affected by natural disasters
  25. If you haven’t done it yet – put your Bush fire survival plan at the top of your list!

And once you’re done. Pat yourself on the back and thank your team 🙂

Adapting to climate change

Our changing climate is bringing new risks which bushwalkers and outdoor adventure enthusiasts should keep in mind whenever planning trips, and whenever we head out on our adventures.

This page gives a quick summary of what to consider. Click through to the relevant authority for detailed information, alerts and to subscribe to alerts and news from each authority.

Extreme weather

The consequences of our changing weather are:

  • More National Park/State Forest/etc closures + more track closures – due to:
    • Threat of fire
    • Damage from fire/flood making tracks unsafe and/or impassable
  • Dehydration & heat stroke of greater concern in hot summer days
  • Increased chance of flooding
  • Poor air quality making prolonged exercise inadvisable (see below)
  • A new Fire Danger Rating

That is why it is important for you to check conditions before you head out. Also monitor conditions for rapid changes. For example, on high fire danger periods/days, or during extreme rainfall, etc.

Avoid remote areas during bushfire conditions. Look at the forward forecast fire ratings and weather before multi-day trips and err on the side of caution.

National Parks closed and damaged by fire

Air quality & health

Air pollutants, including smoke from bush fires, can be harmful to our health and so check air quality forecasts before you head out.

NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment states that we should all reduce heavy or prolonged exercise when the Air Quality Index (AQI) is >150.

However, The Climate and Health Alliance have now declared: “There is no safe level of air pollution. The higher the level of pollution, the more hazardous the risks to health. Bushfire smoke is particularly hazardous because of the high levels of tiny particles (PM2.5).”

You can check the current and forecast air quality here: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/aqms/aqi.htm

And find out what the AQI colours mean for your activity here:

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/air/Pages/aqi.aspx

Leaders should cancel activities to areas likely to be affected by poor air quality.

Fire Ratings

Note that a new Bush Fire Danger Rating exists called “Catastrophic”. If a Catastrophic warning is issued when and where you are planing to be in the bush, you should cancel your planned activities and move to a place of safety.

A “Catastrophic” rating may be issued in advance so always check the forecast if you are planning/heading out to a multi-day activity.

The current RFS advice for what you should do if the Bush Fire Danger Rating is “Catastrophic” is:

  • For your survival, leaving [the area to be affected] early is the only option.
  • Leave bush fire prone areas the night before or early in the day – do not just wait and see what happens.
  • Make a decision about when you will leave, where you will go, how you will get there and when you will return.
  • Homes are not designed to withstand fires in catastrophic conditions so you should leave early.

See the RFS for full details of Bush Fire Danger Ratings including “Catastrophic”: http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/fire-information/fdr-and-tobans?a=1421

Learn more about Bush Fire Danger Ratings and Total Fire Bans here: https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/fire-information/fdr-and-tobans

Fire damage

Every time you head out – check:

To manage these hazards always check before you head out:

Hot Spots

These new tools may indicate fire activity, however the site creators say they are “not to be used for safety of life decisions. For local updates and alerts, please refer to your state emergency or fire service.”

Always remember, that this information is only as updated when a satellite passes over the location you are viewing. IE: not that often.

https://firewatch-pro.landgate.wa.gov.au/ (seems to be more current just from our casual observation)

https://hotspots.dea.ga.gov.au/

Alerts

  • Bushwalking NSW does not pass on alerts. Instead, we recommend you sign up for alerts directly with the relevant authority
  • Bushwalking NSW periodically remind our newsletter subscribers that people and clubs should check for alerts:
    • In anticipation for activities
    • Before they head out
  • Sign up to our newsletter at the bottom of this page and here

Subscribe to updates

  • We encourage all people engaged in outdoor adventure to sign up to receive alerts from the relevant authorities.

Clubs

  • We suggest clubs consider how they are communicating with their members when conditions become hazardous or extreme.

 

We hope this brief guide helps you all to continue to enjoy safe and successful outdoor adventure in our beautiful natural places!

A bushwalker’s two day crawl before rescue

In kindly and candidly sharing a very painful and harrowing ordeal, a club leader has given us some important points to reflect upon. Every time we head out.

In mid-September, Neil Parker (54), an experienced leader for Brisbane Bushwalkers, was conducting a solo recce (reconnaissance walk) of Cabbage Tree Creek near Brisbane, Queensland.

While alone, Neil fell down a 6-metre waterfall, fracturing both his leg and wrist. He then crawled for two days, to reach a clearing, in the hope of a search team finding him. Excruciating.

He did not have a PLB*, and did not leave trip intentions.

It is rare, but sometimes things go wrong.

This article describes the incident: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-18/mt-nebo-bushwalker-crawls-to-safety-after-fracturing-leg-wrist/11522794

Neil’s personal account is well worth a listen:

https://www.facebook.com/ABCSunshineCoast/videos/2434513696831834/

We encourage you to reflect on Neil’s experiences.

 

Some of our reflections are:

  • Take a PLB*, especially when going solo. Even for short walks. Register it with AMSA.
  • Always Leave Trip Intentions with a reliable person.
    • That means telling someone your detailed trip plans, and when you are due to return. Plus it means that person calling the police if you haven’t returned at the time you said you would. Always call your responsible person on your safe return.
  • Neil is saying the right things in his interview so he is clearly very knowledgeable and experienced. This helped him save himself. So:
    • Join a bushwalking club to learn a wealth of invaluable knowledge and experience in all kinds of adventure. For a very low cost! Have a great time discovering new places. and new types of adventure activities.
  • Neil didn’t panic and had a good first aid kit.
    • He could have also included a sam splint in his kit – it is a much better for dealing with a fracture than walking poles or tree branches.
  • Neil demonstrates how important it is to take first aid kits seriously and keep them well-stocked. Even for a short, familiar walk.
  • Neil took warm clothes and a space blanket on a short, local walk, in a warm climate. And needed them.
    • Consider also a cashmere beanie – superb warmth-to-weight ratio.
    • The space blanket kept him warm and could help rescuers see him.
    • Regularly replace your space blanket – they can de-laminate over time.
  • Neil also took a head torch, his mobile phone and energy-packed snacks. He needed all of these too.

 

If you haven’t watched it yet, do watch Neil’s personal account:

https://www.facebook.com/ABCSunshineCoast/videos/2434513696831834/

Pass it on

All outdoor adventures can benefit from Neil Parker’s experience, so please pass this onto them.

For Clubs

We’d also recommend that club committees devote some time to discussing Neil Parker’s experience and insights, and the implications for each club’s risk management.

We advise all club members to put all exploratory (recce) trips on their activities program. This is the minimum requirement for an activity to be covered by our Bushwalking Australia Insurance.

We also recommend all clubs have: (1) a way of recording trip intentions for all activities, (2) a way of checking that all participants have returned from their activities when they said they would, and (3) a person who will call the police if a person/party haven’t returned when they said they would.

 

We wish you all the best out there. And we wish Neil Parker a rapid and full recovery.

 

*PLB = Personal Locator Beacon

Packing and planning for the best trip in Europe

One of the wonderful things about walking in Europe is the accommodation available to walkers.  Amazingly, this remote mountain refuge (Rifugio Pramparet), on stage 9 of the most beautiful walk in Europe, had the most interesting and delicious food of all rifugios on the trip!

 

Local communities and mountaineers have been walking these routes for generations. So to make it all a lot easier, they have built places to stay called rifugios (refuges). Rifugios provide bunkbed accommodation, a cooked breakfast and dinner, alcoholic beverages, cakes, and a packed lunch. To top it off you can often even get a shower … though some of them are cold!

 

All this in a cozy hut, high in the mountains surrounded by amazing beauty. The speck in the middle of this incredibly steep forest is Rifugio Vassoler:

All of these luxuries can reduce the weight of your pack to a sleeping sheet, towel, your walking snacks, toiletries, and the gear you will need for the wide range of weather and track conditions you can encounter in the mountains. But don’t forget your walking sticks – they are essential equipment for the Alta Via 1 walk which is unbelievable steep in places:

The best way to learn how to lighten your pack is by joining a bushwalking club like the Coast and Mountain Walkers (CMW) and heading out on some overnight walks with them. Super-experienced bushwalking club members, like those from CMW, have so many tips and tricks for keeping you comfortable and happy in all conditions out in nature 🙂

 

Having that kind of experience behind you means you’ll enjoy your trip so much more.  Nothing beats knowing how to thrive in the wild. It’s like opening a door way to a world of adventure.
The other thing you can learn in a bushwalking club, is how to pack a light meal and save yourself some money for more trips like this! Then lunch can be a picnic spread out in the middle of all that beauty!

 

On stage 8 of the most beautiful walk in Europe, we ate our lunch at a pass called Forcella del Camp. As we ate, we watched a tiny speck of colour moving up the impressive face of Cima della Busazza in front of us – some rock climbers!
Here is where you can find a club near you that will help you discover the most beautiful places to walk in NSW, the ACT and the world: our clubs.

The most beautiful walk in Europe

For me one of the awesome aspects of being a member of a bushwalking club is discovering new places to walk and knowing what are the most beautiful and amazing places to explore. By joining a club walk, you often save yourself weeks of time researching destinations, maps, routes, access logistics, weather conditions and all other trip details. Amazingly, the trip leaders do this mountain of work for you – for free!

 

 

When I joined the Coast and Mountain Walkers (CMW), a Sydney-based bushwalking club specialising in overnight walks, I was looking forward to discovering fabulous new adventures within NSW. The CMW certainly didn’t let me down. They took me on stunning walks in NSW and across Australia. I was amazed and impressed. I learnt so much about how to walk, how to camp with the lightest-weight gear, as well as, of course, where to walk!

 

 

But my amazement didn’t end there, because what I wasn’t counting on was the CMW members’ amazing knowledge of walks in Europe. CMW members have walked in so many places in Europe and can tell you so much about the walks, how to get there, and how to have the best time while you are there.

 

 

Of all those fabulous walks in Europe their trips to the Dolomites, in northern Italy always seemed the most stunning. So, when I finally got the chance to go to Europe last (European) summer, a walk in the Dolomites was a must. But knowing the region doesn’t necessarily make it easier to be sure you’re going to get the absolute best walk for those precious few days you have in Europe.

 

 

To start my planning for this very special trip, I called a friend from CMW!  I asked him for walks he would recommend and he kindly shared loads of knowledge with me. He told me the best guide book to use, how to get around there using local transport, when was the best time to go, what the accommodation and food was like, what I needed to pack (and not pack), and what it was actually like being there.

 

I took his guidance and planned our walk. I choose to do the last six days of the Alta Via 1. These photos give you just a peek of that stunningly beautiful walk.
 

 

On the walk I ran into an old neighbour from Tasmania who had done the full Alta Via 1.  She exclaimed how the scenery just keep getting better every day.  I was delighted with yet more confirmation that my CMW guidance had paid off!
 

 

Stay tuned for more details of this amazing walk in our next newsletter! And in the meantime, find a club near you that will help you discover the most beautiful places to walk in NSW, the ACT and the world in our map of our clubs.