Central Australia – an awe inspiring kaleidoscope of colour and texture

After an evening of superb food, great company and sleeping under the stars in the riverbed in my swag, albiet with plenty of merino wool to keep me warm and not overthinking how close those dingo howls were it was time for Day Two of my Larapinta Trail experience

The full 223km of the Larapinta Trail spans between the Old Telegraph Station and Mt Sonder. Day 2 took us to the Ormiston Gorge to trek the Ormiston Pound circuit.  Regarded as one of the best walks of the Larapinta Trail it offers sensational views of the Chewings Range and Mount Giles. It can be a little challenging with some rock hopping and takes approximately four hours to complete. Setting off, the trail winds around scenic slopes, dropping into the Pound and returning along Ormiston Gorge via the main waterhole. We also took the detour to Ghost Gum Lookout.

Ormiston is also a sacred site for the Western Arrernte people. It’s name in Western Arrernte is Kwartatuma.

Ormiston Pound Walk Map

Day 2 Larapinta iPhone (3)

First port of call was the snack bar and there in the middle was my ideal weight maintenance nemesis – chocolate bullets. I wish I could say I stayed strong and resisted the temptation but I would be fibbing. You will be pleased to know I did also grab a couple of bananas.

We made it to the top of the Pound Walk savouring the beautiful weather

Day 2 Pound Walk to Ochre Pits (14) Our  wonderful guide Clare pointed out all the highlights as far as the eye can seeDay 2 Pound Walk to Ochre Pits (22)

Day 2 Pound Walk to Ochre Pits (35)

 

There were plenty of opportunities for me to practice my rock hopping

Day 2 Pound Walk to Ochre Pits (23)

I’ll bet this young lady regretted doing it in thongs. OMG

Day 2 Larapinta iPhone Rock Hopping (23)

Clare leads the way to the Ghost Gum Lookout

Day 2 Pound 3 (18)

Where the view was indeed outstanding – though I must admit I kept away from the overhanging edge

Day 2 Pound Walk to Ochre Pits (27)

then the girls (sans Lynne) braved the chilly waters and took a dip or two

Day 2 Pound Walk to Ochre Pits (29)

and at the end of the day I was smiling from ear to ear with a very sunburnt nose tip

Day 2 Pound Walk to Ochre Pits (4)

Bring on Day 3

 

Looking to put the joy back in your life – Try Larapinta it worked for me

Joy is what makes life beautiful. It’s what gets us through challenges and allows light in to illuminate the shadows. Joy heals our wounds, inspires us to greatness, and fills our souls with goodness.

I signed up for the Inner Compass 4 Day Larapinta Trail Trek to help put the joy back in my life.  And you know what my ‘Get out in Nature’ with some inspiring people beyond the agriculture sector may just be the smartest thing I have done in recent times.

Our little group of six got to see the views most tourists don’t even know exist. Trek Larapinta ( what an awesome customer service business they are) has built relationships with the traditional land owners who generously provide non-indigenous Australians ( and overseas visitors) with genuine cultural awareness experiences and access to some very special places.

Day 1 Standley Chasm Day 1 (71)

Meet Trek Larapinta Guide and Aboriginal  woman Deanella Mack. Dee took us into her world through her storylines and humour that made her people and their culture so real to me. You can find out more about Dee and her business Cultural Connections here 

Day 1 Standley Chasm Day 1 (54).jpg

Dee sees that a system that has failed Aboriginal people in Central Australia for generations has also failed non-Indigenous people in how they learn about or appreciate Aboriginal cultures, histories and concepts.
She believes cultural misunderstandings, often come with the best intentions and as being “like when you’re driving a car and you feel something’s wrong but you don’t know how to fix it. Others may not even think anything’s wrong.” Those that have had the most positive experiences in her sessions and went on to positively impact communities later were “open-minded and had the willingness to receive new info that may not sit well with their current beliefs and experiences”. Source 

Dee welcomes us to country

Dee shares with us the making of hunting spear

With that new appreciation of the landscape our group became earnest learners listening and looking with new eyes

Amongst many other things we learnt to recognise the male and female cycad and the seed 

Standley Chasm is a very beautiful place

Day 1 Larapinta T (49)

You can see what the tourists see

Day 1 Standley Chasm Day 1 (44).jpg

Or you can follow Section 3 of the Larapinta Trail and go where the hikers go

Day 1 Standley Chasm Day 1 (66)

If you go with Trek Larapinta  you see and do and feel even more

Day 1 Standley Chasm Day 1 (48)

Day 1 Standley Chasm Day 1 (60)

Day 1 Standley Chasm Day 1 (55)

Day 1 Standley Chasm Day 1 (71)

Its one thing to see the beauty of Standley Chasm from the front but when you get the opportunity to come in the back door its an experience you will treasure for ever

Day 1 Standley Chasm Day 1 (41).jpg

Lynne was a very happy camper

“These days the knowledge around cross-cultural awareness is at your finger tips, so ignorance is no longer an excuse.” Dee Mack

The Rim Walk – aren’t we faaaabulous!!!

If Priscilla could do it in heels then surely Lynne could do it in her Salomon Hiking Boots. The iconic hike to the top of Kings Canyon is known as the  Rim Walk and its located in Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory. A spellbinding 6 kilometre circuit transcending down into the Garden of Eden and back to the top to wonder at the 360 views.

The start of the walk is definitely daunting with 1000 steps that go straight to the sky and if Priscilla did it in heels so there was no excuse for Lynne not to do it in the recommended footwear .

IMG_4955

However i would be very wary if I had a knee or hip replacement.  After you take in the views from the top of the stairs you continue your journey through Priscilla’s Crack made famous by one of my favourite movies Priscilla Queen of the Desert

IMG_4991
From there you will see the domes known as the Lost City due to it resembling an ancient city.

IMG_0907.jpg

IMG_4972IMG_4971

The Ghost Gum is a stand-out against the rich red gorges. It has the tenacity to find a toe-hold and endure life in the most inhospitable crevice of a rock face

IMG_0913.jpg

Next up is your choice to continue exploring the top or take the stairs down to the picturesque Garden of Eden filled with lush greenery where you can cross a bridge over the sacred watering hole. Special shoutout to all those wonderful people who installed the stairs and bridges to get to this magnificent part of the world.

IMG_0953.JPG

IMG_0933.JPG

IMG_0946.JPG

Once you have captured this iconic moment take the stairs back up to the south side of the canyon.  I did the walk  just after sunrise as the sun slowly reflects onto the sandstone turning a stunning array of oranges and reds.

IMG_4945

The Kings Canyon Rim Walk can be completed in about three to four hours depending on how often you stop to admire the extraordinary scenery. We stopped plenty of times and managed to do it in 3 hours

IMG_0924.jpg

No matter what you think or imagine you’ll find the views magical. I guarantee they will leave you spellbound. (and these are just the photos from my iPhone – wait till you see what I have on my camera)

 

 

You dont have to climb Uluru to love Uluru

In 2016 I decided it was time I experienced more of our magnificent country. At the top of the bucket list was to walk the Larapinta Trail. Getting fit was a must.  A hamstring avulsion in February 2017 meant a May 2017 Larapinta Walk was out the of the question. 12 months of rehab and here I am.

Not having been to the Northern Territory before I flew into Alice Springs early. On my first night in town I caught up with local dynamo Donna Digby who introduced me to the world most famous Vanilla Slice which we shared after dinner at Casa Nostra.

IMG_4456.jpg

The first thing I learnt about Ulura was its a popular place at this time of year and its a must to book accommodation months in advance.  not doing my research early enough I  found myself unable to find accommodation and got around my naivety by booking an AAT Kings Tour.

Ulura is a cultural experience not to be missed. Everyone I met was inspired by the natural beauty and power of the land. It will open your hearts and minds to the enduring culture of the Anangu people who have inhabited this part of the world for 30,000 plus years

IMG_4610

Sunrise at Uluru – The size of the rock let alone its beauty has to be seen to be believed

IMG_4649

Kata Tjuta means “many heads”  and with mine there were 37 the day I visited. It is a sacred men’s site for the Anangu people under their traditional law 

IMG_4682

I loved the diversity of the native vegetation –  special favourites were the red river gums and the spinifex grass.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Kuniya Walk is a short track to the Mutitjula Waterhole, home of the Wanampi, an ancestral watersnake. In the special times of rain, you will expereince magical waterfalls

IMG_4709

Mutitjulu Waterhole-  on my visit is was the awe inspiring colour mix of the rock formation that caught my eye. This truly is a special place

IMG_4748

When travelling alone it helps to master the selfie – this is me and Mt Olga

IMG_4842.jpg

My last night at Ulura was spent under the stars feasting on kangaroo and other delicacies at the Cultural Centre. The evening included a tour of the night sky. The weather didnt disappoint, nor did the Southern Cross and Milky Way 

Climbing the Rock

 Please don’t climb  Uluru – its a heartfelt plea many people ignore 

What visitors call ‘the climb’ is of great spiritual significance to the Anangu people. As a guest on their land they ask us to choose to respect their law and culture by not climbing

‘This is a really important sacred thing you are climbing…. You shouldn’t climb. Its not the real thing about this place. The real thing is listening to everything. We hope the tourists will brighten up and say “Oh I see. This is the right way. This is the proper way: no climbing.”

I understand it has been decided for us by the government. NO CLIMBING – will also become Non-indigenous law in 2019.

The Kata Tjuta National Park is one of the great wonders of the world. Next time I will seek out a tour guided by the indigenous people and get a greater understanding of the Anangu people and rejoice that their culture is strong and alive.

Mental health – making hope the cornerstone of life

I live in a very beautiful part of the world on a farm on the side of a mountain with rich volcanic soil and an average rainfall of 2000 mm.  Yes that’s almost 80 inches of rain per year. With Australia experiencing the driest and warmest winter in 15 years we haven’t had “real’ rain here for months. We are in the midst of a green drought as the highly moisture stressed ryegrass does its best to hang on and provide the cows with the  rich energy source that sustains them and the milk they produce.

AYOF  (4).jpg

My little piece of paradise hasn’t looked like this for quite a while 

Rural Australian life is very rewarding in many ways, however, farming has many challenges including the long term impacts of climate change and extreme weather events and can be a stressful occupation.

Mental health and maintaining optimism in the face of adversity is very close to my heart

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Helen Keller

I believe through  The Archibull Prize we are selling hope to young people. Putting them at the centre of the learning experience . Using farmers as examples of dealing with the daily challenges of providing quality food and fibre and Young Farming Champions  as leaders in creating the change we want to see.

Helping young people make ‘hope’ a cornerstone in their lives is the driving force behind The Cottage Mental Health program 

Archie at the Cottage

The Cottage helps about  forty, 12 to 18-year-olds experiencing a mental health condition every year. Days are split between schooling and therapy, with counselling,  rehabilitation, creative arts sessions, education and individual clinical management on offer to help students achieve their recovery goals. Source 

 Well done to all the business who have come together to make The Cottage a true story
of hope
“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.” Robert Schuller

If you know some-one who is struggling with stress an excellent resource can be found here

 

 

Do our politicians care about us?

Its pretty easy  to think about the world and be cynical. I know at my age I can certainly write a list of the people who have let me down.

But we all know selling despair, ruminating  on the people you wished hadn’t crossed your path and on what could have been gets us nowhere. On the other hand selling hope and focusing on a bright future by engaging and working with the people who share your vision keeps the fire burning in our bellies

I keep the fire burning in my belly by surrounding myself with exciting young people. Young people in schools, young farmers and young activists for social and environmental justice .

Last Friday night  I attended the NSW ACT Young Achiever Awards to support Young Farming Champions Anika Molesworth and Joshua Gilbert who were both finalists in the Environment and Sustainability Category   

Anika Molesworth

Anika Molesworth Winner of  the Environment and Sustainability Award

Millennials and the generation before them don’t exactly  get the best wrap and are often described as self absorbed .  Reading the bios of the finalists in all categories  certainly drew everyone’s attention to a group of young people and their support networks who are turning  the self absorbed label on its head.

Why theses young people do what they do  and how they do it is both fascinating and inspiring.   Last year’s winner in the opening speech said something that gave me food for serious reflection. This young lady is a very passionate member of AYCC who lobbied their peers to sign up and vote at the last election. She quoted some phenomenal numbers as a testimony to their success.

She expressed her motivation by saying  something along the lines of “politicians don’t care about young people and young people don’t care about politicians”. She went on to say part of the mission of AYCC is to show young people how important it is to care about politicians and what they do and don’t stand for and to vote for the one’s that align with their values

Do politicians care about young people.? Do they care about us?  I think they do but I can certainly understand why people in general wonder what they do stand for. How do we fix a system where it appears that too many of our politicians only care about the needs of big business and the powerful people and not enough about the quality of life and well being of everyday Australians?.

AYCC have got it right. It’s up to everyday Australians to hold our politicians accountable and that starts with making sure we have the right politicians in office and support fiercely the one’s who align with our values.

Congratulations to Anika Molesworth, a fierce campaigner for #youthinag and the viability  and resilience of Australian farmers and social and environmental justice

Anika’s acceptance speech – its easy to see why she is in demand as a keynote speaker 

 

 

Young people in agriculture lobby for action on stuff that matters to them

run

I am a very different person to the person I was when I began my mission ten years ago to have my fellow farmers proud and loud of what they do and the industries they produce food and food and fibre for

I credit that change in the way I think and act to the young people I have met on my journey

I sell hope, they sell hope, together we have started a movement to create a new era of communication and transparency from the agricultural sector between farmers and the community. This allows farmers to raise awareness of the challenges they face to provide Australian families with safe, affordable and healthy food now and in the future.

Our programs and activities open the door for the community to ask questions and receive answers to questions on stuff that matters to them.

We do this because deep down our farmers feel unloved loved and undervalued. Our programs and activities provide matchmaking opportunities – a dating service if you like for farmers to connect with, and partner with the people in the community who love and appreciate them and people in the community who will love and appreciate them when they meet them

We do this by

  • designing and delivering events and activities through partnerships between young people in the agriculture sector and young people in schools using art and technology and two way conversations.
  • building capacity and the confidence of young people in the agriculture sector to share their story and deploy them using innovative vehicles such as The Archibull Prize to deliver agriculture’s key messages in a way that resonates with the audiences they reach with the mantra “People don’t care what you know until they know you care”

Whilst  I am very proud of this legacy, deep down its these young people that light my fire. On their journey they have developed the confidence and courage to share their story and lobby for action on stuff that matters to them

Let me introduce to Anika Molesworth and Kirsty McCormack – two young women in agriculture with a high profile in the media blazing a trail for us all

Farmers believe in climate change, so why don’t the politicians who say they represent them? 

“Anyone sitting in Parliament saying they represent rural and regional Australia should be figuring out how the decisions they make today are going to determine whether our farms are profitable in the years to come.”

“If we want something done about this then we need to do more than whisper across the back fence. It’s time to start shouting, and if our politicians fail to listen and catch up with the times then they risk being left behind.”  Anika Molesworth

anika-molesworth

Social Media for the future 

“We’re a generation who don’t want to sit down and read facts and figures, we want to hear from individual people, and hear their stories,” Kirsty McCormack

kirsty-mc

#youthinag #stuffthatmatters #YFC #ArchiullPrize