As we head into what we all hope will be a better bushwalking year than 2020, I expect some of you are spending non-walking time pouring over maps, websites, books … making plans of hikes and trips that might or might not happen. There is a great joy in reading, thinking and planning about bushwalking and travelling, a joy only surpassed by actually getting out there and doing it!
I was recently browsing in my local bookshop when I stumbled (not a good bushwalker trait) upon a new book, The Ways of the Bushwalker. Something new, I pondered. No, I discovered, as I expect you already knew, that this is a 2020 update of the original 2007 book. Author Melissa Harper has done a marvellous job of updating her history of bushwalking in Australia. She helps us understand how bushwalking is the most popular way for Australians to engage with the bush. The book is a good reminder as to why so many people join bushwalking clubs and maintain their connection with the land. The core of this book, of course, are the people who make bushwalking what it is.
Also on my about-to-read pile is Kindred—A Cradle Mountain Love Story. Kate Legge’s account is of two early 20th century unconventional adventurers who, standing on top of Cradle Mountain, imagined a national park for all. They pioneered eco-tourism, probably long before such a word could even be conceived of, but never saw the vision completed. Their legacy is important, if for no more reason than the inspiration for generations after them to stand up and defend wilderness.
Talking of inspiration, anyone with an historic bent will delight in a book I got lost in last year. Dead Reckoning—Tales of the Great Explorers 1800-1900 brings the reader into the remarkable world of 19th century exploration and travel. Populated with characters undertaking truly mad enterprises, with varying degrees of success, the book reminds us just how unforgiving the world can be. Although our own bushwalking may seem rather tame in comparison to the travels of these explorers, any bushwalking reader will understand the drive behind these tales.
And to close, one final book to comment on, picked at random from my bookshelf: Barry Stone’s The 50 Greatest Walks of the World. This might be useful if you are heading to Britain to walk—fat chance this year—where it seems that most of the world’s greatest walks reside. Curiously, there are only two such walks in Australia: the Uluru Circuit and the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb! At least New Zealand gets a true hike, the Milford Sound. All seems a bit minimalist compared to the seven-moth Appalachian Way and the thirty-five day Camino de Santiago. But then again, why complain when we all know that there are some of the greatest walks and hikes right here on our doorstep in New South Wales. Maybe we just keep the knowledge to ourselves?
Bushwalking NSW Inc.
Keep exploring, be amazed!