The Overland Track

Let’s do the Overland he said (with a certificate in outdoor education & minimal experience in snow adventuring.)

Great idea she responded (having not been on an overnight hike since high school, a long time ago).

And so on Wednesday the 27th of September 2017, after one of Tasmania’s coldest winters and during a freezing spring, we started our Overland journey.

The Overland track runs from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clare in Tasmania. It is a 65km walk, with multiple day hikes. There are huts along the way, camping is encouraged where possible. The highest point is 1250m at the plateau between Marion’s lookout and Kitchen hut. The lowest point is at the Forth River crossing at 720m. During the peak hiking season (October 1 to May 31) walkers must travel North to South, however outside of peak season hikers can walk the track whichever way their Gortex boots fancy.

On arrival at the visitor center at Cradle Mountain, we were told in no uncertain terms that A. we were ill equipped for the weather, B. too late to complete the planned day 1 walk to Waterfall valley and C. without an emergency response beacon we were asking for trouble. We were shown a picture of Kitchen hut, which was practically inaccessible due to the amount of snow blocking the entrances.

So, we swiftly shoved an emergency beacon into our already overfilled bags, changed the night one hut plan from Waterfall to Scott Killvert and held hands while whispering ‘crazy cats.’ We have excellent thermal and ski gear and had enough food to last approximately 47 days and feed 6. We also (thankfully) had no understanding of what we were up against, shrugging our shoulders in TYPICAL tourist fashion “how hard CAN it be?”

An hour later, and practically vertical on a rock face with a cliff behind and no view to be seen thanks to the very dark and rain filled clouds with our heavy packs nearly turning us upside down and inside out and I declared my first “I’m not designed for this, not at all. My back isn’t designed for this bag, my feet aren’t designed to be soggy and my fear of any form of danger or injury is really not that useful. Richie, (in an almost rehearsed response…) assured me we could turn back at ANY point, and that it would be fine if we needed to. But that I was quite capable of this and that it would be OK. (Between us we have the stubbornness of a rhinoceros, and turning back was never an option).

Arriving at Scott Killvert hut was a warm welcome, it was incredibly dark with only an hour of sunlight left, but the coal heater had been transformed to a wood fire and we gobbled soup while relishing our sensible ‘dry clothes.’ The sign at the door identified importance hut etiquette ‘the last to arrive are as welcome as the first.’ And just before sunset, the gorgeous group of 6 Irish arrived; they had trekked around the lake (as opposed to up and over and vertical) in mud and snow but still came in laughing, like they did each time we found them.

We snoozed among the top snorers in Australia that night, giggling at the absurdity of 25 grown adults who have never met all lined up as if a dedicated day care nap post the most exhausting bed time story of all.

A hike up a steep incline (1100m at the summit) on day 2 and we found ourselves being blown over by snow and ice filled winds that stung our cheeks and buckled our knees.

I let Richie know I didn’t think his snow experience was up to this, and that he should have listened to my hourly pre trip weather forecasting. I felt an inner fury at my inability to cope, and questioned my toughness. Richie clearly and calmly (while turning his awful shade of anxiety) stated we should probably turn back the way we came, where we knew that whilst there was thigh deep powder snow, there was also shelter and a path that would lead us back to the hut.

Just as it came to crunch time, the Irish stumbled up the snow banks, and we all joined forces to find the path together. The friends we had known for approximately 22 hours turned back often to make sure we were still with them, and offered precious commodities of nuts and chocolate.

Throughout the next five days, we hiked through a snow filled rain forest whilst waiting for Aslan and Mr Tumnus to appear, adored incredible and ancient trees. Marveled at cold clear streams. Cried at the challenge, and swore at wet socks and heavy packs. Occasionally we would get a glimpse of mountains surrounding us, and would feel protected by their enormity. The famous button grass was a snowfield, but we would walk all day without seeing a soul and it was magic. We laughed together, and forgot the woes of the world as we focused on arriving safely and keeping it together whilst staying together.

Each night, we would scramble into the hut to find our people. Slowly but surely we found our army along the way; and with the weather entirely unappealing to sleeping outdoors in tents, we would sit and share soup stories and games of cards with people who quickly felt very important, very precious and very true.

Our little tribe at the end of the trip included two 12 year old kids. These absolute heroes talked us through the map each night and morning, identifying areas that would be challenging and the highest and lowest climbs for the day. Playing cheat was a giggle feast (their poker faces beautifully innocent).

These raw and new friendships, where there were no phones, no computers, no brands, no cars, no houses, no news, no trump, no terrorism, no guns, no nonsense.

Extra water was boiled for tea, and teabags were shared when supplies were running low. Lives were talked about, and dreams discovered. There was a kindness and a friendliness that equaled the expansive forests and curious wallabies of the beautiful Tasmanian wilderness.

Our last morning was full of ‘congratulations, good luck and thank you’. We all beamed with pride, not of ourselves – but of one another. The suns had cleared to fully expose the mountains surrounding us their true enormity only becoming clear.

In a time where the world is tough, where people are fragile and where we live so very quickly this walk reminded me of the beauty of humanity, of the potential we have and how the environment brings out the best of this in us. How life really is simple, but that our extra additions complicate it. How the silence of snow allows for a still and clear head and how being in the real forest is far more therapeutic than any forest Apple has to offer.

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear Trashy Mags,

From grade six, my proudly earnt babysitting pay was spent on the weekly edition of TV hits. I would quickly flick through the glossy and colorful Jonathon Taylor Thomas filled pages to the important middle section and feel relieved and pleased that “YES!” there was one more Hanson poster.

It’s been a while since grade six. But my love for magazines remains resilient.

We are a magazine family, my family and I. Dad says it’s important to support the industry, mum buys beautiful piles of magazines according to whom her guest is and where they are in their life, she puts them in neat colour coordinated stacks with freshly cut roses.

This year, I made myself a New Years resolution. I decided, that the trashy mags had to go.  Of course, Frankie and Peppermint and Donna Hay and Delicious and Gourmet Traveller (you get the idea) could stay. But the New Ideas, and the OK of my life no longer had a place.

Perhaps this rather drastic move (in a first world kind of way) stemmed from my relocation to the Northern Territory, where it is really not relevant if I know who is wearing what to which party and how much weight they lost on the way to the party. It’s such a world from here it may as well be a series of photographs compiled by ET, (the alien.) Wherever the idea came from, I have to say; not having these magazines in my life is good, really darn good.

I don’t look at girls who have enjoyed their lunch only to be headlined ‘six months PREGNANT!’ I’m not comparing myself to Bingle looking ah-ma-zing in a bikini alongside the boldly titled“6 kilo weight GAIN.” I obsessed over Kate Middleton’s beautiful leaving hospital dress through my lovely instagram community where people fondly commented on how beautiful and normal she looked. I didn’t worry myself with the important trash mag issue of how she was planning to lose her baby weight. I saw Mylie make a fool of herself on you tube, as advised by my sister who assured me given Mylies influence on young girls it was important to see, I’m glad it was the video, and not a glossy page. It was glaringly obvious, how not quite right, and sick her behaviour was. I think I would have thought differently had I seen still pictures.

Now don’t go getting me all wrong, my coffee table is still covered in the beautiful magazines that I really do love. It’s just that now, they are good for me (something I claim often to Richie as he remains wide eyed studying the newsagent receipts). These magazines give me menus, and pictures of pasta I dream of, they tell tales of strong and fit and healthy women. I’m still up to date with the best skis of the year, and the alpine bars worth having a schnapps in. I ogle over beautiful furniture and paintings in Vogue interior and attempt to keep an eye on what’s in fashion (says she in her sarong and singlet…) in Elle and trusty Harpers Bazaar.

It has to be said trashy mags, you really are big trashy bags, and although it’s been twenty years, I’m a lot more comfortable in a bikini without you.

Josef Chromy

It’s a lucky girl who spent her childhood summers by the beach on the North East Coast of Tasmania. School teachers didn’t believe it was where you had really been when you came back to term one as brown as a berry, and the water may indeed be a little chilly but we missed Tasmania and it’s treats, eats, green grasses and driftwood when Territory living.

So a week between nursey-pursey career pathways (I’m swapping private hospital vests for public hospital scrubs) and school holidays for R meant that there are seven whole days for Tasmanian Time! (Yipppppeeeeeeee.)

The itinerary is very food, family, friend, food and wine focused.

When we landed on Sunday, after a beautiful wedding at Trunk the night before (the mineral water on the Jetstar flight was guzzled.) We were taken to lunch at the Josef Chromy restaurant. What a TREAT.

The space is beautiful, looking out to the vines I felt that I was in one of the beautiful Margaret River wineries, the sun was shining and the water off the lake was absolutely sparkling, people were wandering around the gardens and there were people with small people picnicking on the lawns.

The wait staff made us feel welcome and balanced formality and chill exceptionally.

We shared a bottle of the Josef Chromy Pinot Gris, which was dry, crisp and reasonably priced (but I won’t pretend to be a wine guru just yet.)

I had three Angassi oysters, which I really do think were the best oysters I have ever had. They were perfectly shucked, freezing cold, juicy and plump and served on a bet of salt with thyme and lemon. The walnut bread with unsalted house made butter was simple and beautiful.

I had the baked market fish, which was Trevally. It was served with a warm cider emulsion, mussels, leeks, apple, hazelnut, ginger and pearl barley. It was so perfect and a fresh and satisfying combination of flavours, the pickled ginger was the ingredient that brought the flavours together.

R had the Miso glazed Trout, which was served with autumn roots, a slow egg, forbidden rice and chicken broth, when asked he states it “was delicious” when asked to elaborate he informs me it was “clean and simple.”

We shared the warm carrot cake, which was served with warm butter sauce, leatherwood honey, white chocolate and orange marmalade. It was also exceptional. The coffee was the only thing that wasn’t perfect, but that’s ok because we are Melbourne coffee creeps so all soy lattes and short blacks served outside Victoria are under what is probably too harsh scrutiny.

This amazing lunch started a beautiful week of eating and treating in my mother’s motherland and I think may have sparked a dangerous (but delightful) ritual of lunch at Josef Chromy when you land in Launceston after what seems to be a 45 second flight from Melbourne.

Josef Chromy: 370 Relbia Road. Relbia Tasmania. www.josefchromey.com.au

*There are no photos because I was far too busy gobbling and guzzling. I solemnly swear to improve on this rather crucial element to food blogging…*

Ruffy Produce Store

The seasons are something that take on different meanings between Territory living and Southern styling. Whilst the beautiful Territory offers wet season storms and dry season sunshine that is almost as blissful as they come, the changing leaves, green grass and snow capped mountains of the Victorian High Country always make me glad I’m home.

Driving through the glorious greens between Mansfield and Ruffy on the weekend, up and down the rolling hills we couldn’t help but ooo and aaa at the beautiful calves (whilst also rapidly repressing memories of Vitello Tonnato) and marvel at the blossom when suddenly, and as if by magic, we found ourselves at the The Ruffy Produce Store.

Beneath the protective branches of the Oak Trees we sat and had a really delicious breakfast. The Ruffy Produce Store is at 26 Nolans Road Ruffy; you’ll see the cars.

I had the Spicy Eggs, avocado and chili on house made ciabatta which was absolutely (and must admit, a little surprisingly) perfect with poached eggs and spices. My pals ordered corn and zucchini fritters (that didn’t taste as if they had one teeny itty bitty of flour) with haloumi and poached eggs that were fresh, flavorsome and wholesome. The soy latte hit the spot.

There were beautiful looking sweet treats (like green tea sponge with green tea cream, lemon slice, rosewater and pistachio meringues) on display, and perfect looking take home treats bottled and ready for the road.

Eating and treating at the Ruffy Produce Store was a Sunday delight, made even better with the whiffs of fresh air and cold crisp sunshine.

Selfie Sunday

Once upon a time, whilst perusing (stalking) Instagram instead of reading my sensible and far more interesting book (My Brilliant Friend) I stumbled across a mask that intrigued that instagram out of me.

The Blackout mask is produced in Brisbane (which I love because some people I love live in Brisbane too) and is 100% natural, so when you’re having a detox Lola Berry type day, in between chicken nuggets and diet coke it suits your little pores down to a teeny weeny tee. It’s got all hipster requirements covered; being made of: activated charcoal, Aloe Vera and of course Coconut Oil.

I first tried my Blackout mask in a teeny tiny bathroom in Calabria that I was sharing with my mama. I was skin prepping for a special girls wedding where I was spoilt enough to be a bridesmaid, I didn’t tell mum (but I’m sure she knew anyway, thanks to that secret motherly intuition) but I did have a 30 second: “I-have-travelled-to-Italy-to-be-a-bridesmaid-and-my-face-is-died-black-from-the-charcoal-mask-I-brought-from-Australia.” But don’t you fear sweet thing, all you have to do is scrub your face with a washer and some water and even the little bits of coal from the charcoal comes out of the little lines and lumps and bumps of your little face and you really will not be left with residual grey shading for important events like WEDDINGS.

The most fun feature of this round bundle of black is the dear little brush. It makes you feel that when applying this cleansing and purifying charcoal creature you’re pretty much the Banksy of face masks. And then, voila- when it’s dried and removed your skin really is a little bit clearer and sparklier and you really are a little bit more Cara.

You can buy it online, and my friend the little brush comes included. It’s only $15.00 online, and my order arrived the following day. I’m absolutely certain that when you’re having a green smoothie and bliss ball Sunday you’ll really enjoy having this little fella in your bathroom cupboard for #selfiesunday.

O. X

Pane di Matteo

There’s a little Porter Avenue in Highton that’s home to a cool new and deserving ‘word on the street’  bakery.

Pane di Matteo has a beautiful but industrial feel to it and the show is stolen most certainly by edible goods. There’s a wall of great looking breads, a match for every meal. Cannoli is made to order with fresh Ricotta filling and the coffee (organic Vittoria) looked like a more than suitable accompaniment to both the Cannoli and the beautiful Italian Biscotti.

I took a Baguette home (which was excellent) but in hindsight should have been more adventurous as the olive bread really did look marvelous. I’ll be back though, and feeling more and more pleased trips down the highway for good food and produce are become less and less needed.

Pane di Matteo: 12 Porter Avenue Highton

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