Outback Characters


Outback Characters

Leigh Creek

Two adventure motorcyclists pulled in as I filled the tank. The place was familiar from a previous trip into the desert several years before. The town looked the same. But it wasn’t. The last train loaded with thousands of tons of coal had left a month ago. Now the houses were mostly empty. Ghostly. First a large scale mechanisation of the mine had cut the population to a third. Now only one in ten houses had a car parked outside. We purchased supplies from the shop and got some cash from the Tavern. As school finished three busloads of kids were ferried back to properties and settlements in the hinterland. A bit later the regional hospital carpark filled up with visitors. Coal wasn’t needed anymore. Wind and solar were higher priority so the Port Augusta coal fired power station was closing down.

Scotty walked up slowly from his camp in a copse of low mallee trees. The door of his old caravan faced the entrance to the park and the office. Stooped. A little hunched. His red dog loped behind. Friendly. Bushman? Time for a yarn. 71. He retired a year or two ago from cattle mustering. 12 hour days on horseback had finally done him in. Now he was volunteer caretaker of the caravan park. Keeping it going until the government decided how to deal with the town. It was a very appealing picture, at least in the cool of “winter” – patches of cool watered grass, gardens well tended, mulch of small rounded river stones that copied the gardens around town, backing onto the desert flatlands against a backdrop of small rounded sheltering hills.

Later I jogged across the beautiful, lush green oval under the watchful empty eyes of the empty sports club. A whole section of suburb had already been returned to bush almost. Emus strutted up empty driveways into scrub. I wondered about the future for the town and its remaining residents. Tourism – the gateway to the outback? Solar energy arrays? Surely refugees would love the peace and safety but a lack of opportunities and the remoteness would probably wear them down. Nuclear waste storage in that monster hole in the ground? Alinta, the mining company, for a long time had a whole town on the payroll. I hoped they were doing some serious repair of the environment and not just making a profitable cut and run, dig it up, ship it out then move on.

“Have a safe trip. Come back sometime.” The twinkle in the eyes of one of our last real drovers hinted at a lifetime of tales.


Birdsville Track

It’s mostly a wide, smooth dirt road. Through flat gibber, mesa country, green plains, Cooper Creek wetlands. The Tirari Desert sand dunes on the left and Strzelecki on the right then the Sturt Stony Desert. The clay based Track would be shocking in wet conditions. It had only been reopened a few days ago after recent rain and we were racing more forecast showers. Big, big sky. Flat 360 degrees. Huge stations, an occasional fence and a few healthy cattle after the xmas and recent rains.img_0154

Half way up we reached Mungarannie. Hotel, campsite, fuel, dunnies and a hot spring from a deep bore into the Great Artesian Basin. The bar room was cool. Old akubras from local stockmen h20160702_082700ang from the roof with pony tails. The walls are packed with photos, number plates, drivers licences, bones and other “stuff”. Phil joked about us being greenies then settled in for a friendly chat – the road, the grading team, Warburton Crossing, 9 years, 2 months and 17 days at the pub, now he feels tired. “Here come some idiots” he gestured good humouredly out the window.

Two hikers strolled in from the main road. An older fellow and a young woman, his daughter. They looked pretty fresh but sat away a little to save us from their smell. Little by little their story emerged. And Phil had been expecting them. He had a food parcel stored in his back room that had arrived by post the week before. They were on a walk from Port Augusta to the Gulf – across Australia south to north. The fellow, Steve, had driven up and buried food and water every 30 – 40 km. It had taken them 18 days on the Marree road and Birdsville Track to reach Mungerannie. About 34km per day. They would get up at 4.00am to get in a couple of hours walking before the sun hit. 10km. Rest. 10 km. Rest. Then 5km rests. Jess, the daughter, was a “professional” hiker – she worked at Timbertops and other guiding ventures. With a sunny smile and friendly disposition she casually let slip that next year she plans to walk from her home in Melbourne to visit her sister at the other end of the Alpine Walking Track in Canberra. Their trek up Australia is not my cup of tea but I admired their determination and envied their time devoted to feeling the landscape that surely must seep deeply inside them. Day by many day.20160702_094138

Nullarbor Caving




15 – 27 May 2016


Road trip across Australia.

Hay Plains. Cotton bales, rounded up in yellow plastic, stretched away off in lines to the flat horizon.

Emus, black shouldered kite.

The Mallee. Multi-stemmed mini eucalypts in woodland forests, small stature and scale invited exploration. Twin tyre tracks twisting off into red dirt from the highway tried to beckon us from the main journey ahead.

Morning light on the stubble fields between lakes of mist.

Foothills of the Flinders Ranges. Port Pirie heavy industry smoked beside Spencer Gulf. Then Iron Knob, a massive hole in a huge hill and mountains of black and brown and orange ore.

Vast country. Miles float by.

Flat plains. Saltbush.

A big shared adventure.


At Ceduna we jogged out along the whole length of the jetty into the bay in a frenzy of movement borne of 2 days couped up in the vehicles.

Next day the Great Australian Bight.

Then The Nullarbor. Just flat. Saltbush. 360 degrees.

Another isolated roadhouse. Fresh food, diesel.

Finally into the scrub. Limestoney, two wheeled tyre tracks.

Red kangaroos flew across the landscape. A camel in the distance.

Dirt road, complex navigation, dry dust. The weather forecast seemed ok.

Cave. Underground. A big day. Stunning white lake. Coffee and cream section and into a breathtaking area of salt formations.



A perfect camp. Still, stars, fire. Sunset, moonlight, sunrise.

Out to the main road. Homestead. Water and access onto the property. The remote outback lifestyle had been in their family for generations.img_0072

Another perfect camp in open scrub.

img_0047Abseiled down through a blowhole into the cave system. Crawled over rubble, down a tube past fossil walls, up past a rock pile then into the main chamber. Immaculate gypsum formations.




Sunrise. We settled into a daily rhythm of breaking and setting camp, travelling slowly, caving, cooking and eating. Spending time together. Safe. In our own little adventure world. Far from social media, pressures of home and work. Time to think. And be in the landscape. And to share.

Dust masks were necessary to enter the next cave in this arid environment. Formations were everywhere. Amazing diversity. Crystalline hair – fragile as perfect snowflakes – grew in cracks and covered the ceiling in the furthest reaches of the cave where the air never moves. We trod carefully and made our way slowly to limit disturbance of the air.img_0058

Then north where stunted trees gave way to low saltbush on the flat Plain to an old abandoned homestead. Wind picked up and blasted so we sheltered in the cavers hut and pitched our tents behind the vehicles and trailers. We then had shade, water and a break from the wind in this extreme flat land.

Underground more ropework. Very complex navigation, Boxwork and eggshells and fossils and crystal hair. We followed the tunnel for kilometers. Above ground a group of camels passed close by.img_0112

For two weeks we sung out together, laughed continuously, assisted each other, slept under the stars, were genuinely affected by nature’s beauty and fragility, watched camels, lizards and dingoes. Our companion the constant dust. Seven days without a proper wash. Everyone had a job and every job was important.

Our biggest cave chamber inspired awe, felt tiny in the immense double chamber.

In the last cave we snorkeled in immaculate clear cold water with a sense of vertigo looking down into the depths and enticing darkness the preserve of cave divers.img_0150

Fire, dust storm, showers overnight.

We made it out next morning back onto the main road towards home.


Big trips take us out of our day to day environment and give us time in beautiful natural world landscapes. Into exercise, self reliance, real teamwork. The best expeditions give us opportunities to make real contributions to our group, to synergise. To have leadership responsibilities and develop our skills in collaboration and communication. To have time out. To reflect on the big picture of our lives.img_0117

Platypus Flat


IMG_0926Nymboida River – Platypus Flat

Camping by the river

23 – 24/3/16

We camped here on a whim. Platypus Flat. On the Nymboida River. We made sightings in the long quiet pool on dusk. Like a stick it moved then disappeared below the surface.

White headed pidgeon. Dove. Yellow fronted robin pair.

The Nymboida is probably Australia’s premier white water river. Nearby there’s a white water centre offering rafting and kayaking trips with gorges and big rapids. Water levels are consistent.

Synchronicity. I had just finished reading “The Emerald Mile”. This is probably one of the best adventure landscape books I have ever read. It’s an absolute thriller about white water guiding on the Colarado River through the Grand Canyon. To connect that story with this Australian wild river landscape is very special. I listen to the shwoooshing water through the afternoon and the night – a constant backdrop. The water always moving. In the evening a big easter moonlight silvered the small waves and downriver wash. Trees by the camp were festooned with flood debris way higher than us.IMG_0469Red firetails dropped to the ground nearby then flitted off over breakfast.

On the journey out we explored rainforests of massive trees.IMG_0929 IMG_0928 IMG_0923

To be a millionaire by the sea


Point Plommer


17 – 22/3/16


Sounds of the swell at night.

Starscape. The Emu in the Sky.

Moonrise through the Norfolk Island pines


Cameraderie out in the take-off zone.

I surf with Kim. We’d brought numerous college groups together up the 10 hour drive from Canberra to learn to surf close by near Crescent Head for the time of their lives, warm water, good company, good surf, good times. Past. Now we are rich in time like millionaires in hours and days.

Catch a wave, ride it in, walk back out, hang out in the take-off zone.

I take off and play the green face of the first bigger section, slow cutback off the translucent wall then cruise up to the lip and back down, ride the nose and hold speed through the rebuild then crouch along the beach break and ride the power as it breaks in a rolling barrel behind and I accelerate right across the close out to dive over the back of the wave just short of the sand. 200m rides. Walk back out along the beach to the rocks. Jump in and paddle 20m. 3 in a row all better than the last. I’ve dreamed of this.

Ocean swim training. Cath and I do 30 minute sessions of laps with and against the current in front of the sandbar.

We cycle along the beach. And to the lotus flower lily billabong 2km south.

Run along the beach.

Drink more tea. Chat. Laugh. Read. Then surf again.

Paddle the waveski.

Like an exercise health body and soul retreat.

Asleep in bed by 8.30pm each night.


We watch, contemplate, observe the everchanging scene and the ocean life from the viewing seat at the front of the pavilion. Pelicans. Surfers. Kids learning how to ride a board. People watching. Chatting with passers by. Seaguls and crested terns. Big groups of dolphins. Goannas. Echidna.

Point Plomer is a special one of the dozens of north facing points up the NSW coast. We camp with million dollar views and waves for everyone.IMG_0448


The best young teachers you could find anywhere

56, 57, 60

Training Outdoor Education Teachers

60 – Bushwalking guide training

Honeysuckle Creek Campground to Bushfold Flats camp to Summit of Mt Tennant then down to finish at Namadgi Visitors Centre – 2 days

5 up and coming stars of the Canberra outdoor education fraternity hiked out of Honeysuckle Creek Campground and made our way along the Alpine Walking Track to Booroomba Rocks. The shocking weather forecast didn’t quite eventuate. Mist rose  through the cliffs at Booroomba Rocks. We pushed off track to the open rock shelves on the mountain top to south. Desperate scrambling provided perfect navigation and extension of skills in a direct line back to the Booroomba Rocks Carpark. By afternoon we made Bushfold Flats and set up camp on the meadows.

The evening was beautifully clear and still. We cloth filtered and purified water from the dam.

Overnight rained and blew then miraculously cleared over breakfast.

Mount Tennant’s summit was windswept.

The sat phone, first aid kit and decision making skills got a workout through scenarios.


57 – Top Rope Climbing Guide training

Thompsons Point Nowra


Among an army adventurous training group we sweated up climbs, sorted the safest setups and consolidated procedures.

Santas Little Helper, Lucifer, Hang On, Big Dreams, Woderwick and more.

Top belay, bottom belay, bottom anchors, top anchors, bolts, trees, boulders, slings, quick draws, biners, safety top and bottom, knots, belay systems.


56 – Abseil guide training

Wee Jasper


Devil’s Punchbowl – small, medium and large abseils. Daylight entry to Dip Series 2.

We looked for safer ways to do things – sitting and easing over the edge when the anchor is at foot level.

Managing heat and fatigue as the last group arrives for the day.

What is the ultimate system setup and why?

Belays – self, bottom, top.

Anchor systems.

Is it worth the extra time to set up a releasable abseil line and top belay?

The knife?


Days of time, weekends …… they’ve given up to learn the ropes …….. so they can take students on adventures, provide the experiences that will stay with them for years.


Some of the best young teachers you could find anywhere. Would you have the legs and the heart for this?

What Young People Crave

54 and 55

What Young People Crave

22 – 23/2/16

Blue Mountains



Bowens Creek

Down through the rainforest.

A twisted ankle slows us up.

Waiting for abseils beside waterfalls we get a little cold.

Shafts of sunlight.

Students lead and take responsibility – navigation, belaying.

We see no other people all day which adds to the remote wilderness atmosphere.

Talk of other college trips. “The Reef was the best thing in my whole life. Arapiles. Snowboarding in Japan”.

The students were marvellous – sociable and friendly, they pushed themselves on the long walk up and out, supportive of each other, volunteered to help out.  The culture was wonderful.  Facilitated by the staff they had fun, enthused, were willing to give things a go. It was healthy exercise for a whole day. No social media.

Empress next day

The valley was full of cloud.

Fast and furious action was interspersed with slow walking downstream.

Abseil down in the waterfall. Excitement and a little fear.

Sparkling light rainbowed by the tumbling water and glistening the rock.Leap

Amazing surrounds – noise, rushing water, trembling, cold, adrenaline.

I think that this is what many teenagers crave – excitement, action, extreme environments, surrounded by caring and skilled adults and supportive buddies.

What a privilege it is to be able to accompany them as they live these experiences.

I can imagine them all singing out on the bus on the way home, “Summer of 69” or some other new classic as Dan get goose bumps while driving thinking about all the good he’s just brought about for these lucky “go get” students.

An American president from the distant past said that young people have a void inside them that is aching to be filled with adventure and excitement and if we don’t help them fill it with something meaningful and wholesome they will find other ways to fill it.


Canyon Family Legend


Canyon Family Legend


Blue Mountains



This was a response to a request from my niece, Elouise, to go canyoning for her birthday. As part of family legend her Mum and my brother and his wife had taken our 65 year old mother canyoning. One of my other brothers, William, had explored pretty much all known canyons in the Blue Mountains in the 70s and published a book of photographs. From that time Mum had harboured a desire to go canyoning and had an adventurous spirit. The length and difficulty of the Bell Creek Canyon had been underestimated. One thing led to another and two of them stayed overnight with her on a sandy beach, keeping her awake and warm, while the other one went out to call the rescue. William and a friend arrived with the SES in the morning to find Mum walking up the exit track wondering what the fuss was about. My nephew, Tom, then a little tacker proudly told everyone that his Gran was stuck down a canyon.

The legend lived on for decades in family lore and is oft recalled.

So seven of us headed into Rocky Creek.Light 2

Jump in from the ledge to start.

Scramble down the chute.

Balance along slippery walls.

Cold water.

We all stayed warm in long wetsuits – William for first time wore a wetsuit and surprised himself how warm a canyon could be.

Stunningly beautiful canyon scenery at every turn. Sunlight shafted between green walls and vapour rose in steamy clouds from breathing and evaporation off wetsuits.

David, “Just back there I felt in the right scale – very small in such a grand place.”

The new dark grey executive volleys were the fashion item of appropriate footwear.


A birthday cake after the canyon proper on a sunny beach.


Long hot 38 degrees walk out. Climb up with a rope belay.

Matt, “This is turning out be a long expedition.”

Perhaps this was a small new addition to the family story.



photograph by William Blunt


I’ve learned over the year that when I open myself up to taking note of deeper meaning in experiences and looking for connections they tumble forth with reflection onto the page. The added richness to life and adventures has been surprising and wonderful.

This journey has taken me into the ocean, canyons, rivers, caves, cliffs, forests, deserts and to sacred mountains.

“52adventuresblog.com” has given me the structure to write and photograph and film regularly.

Along the way I have tried to minimise the self-indulgence and self-focus inherent in a blog and attempted to give attention to those alongside. By far the most popular entries have been about “others”.

THANKYOU for your interest, for reading, mostly for sharing being out there in the bush. Your company has been a treasure. Thankyou for letting me write about you. With your help and support I was able to complete the 52nd adventure on the 365th day of the year following completion of the first adventure. More importantly I was privileged to be able to share time with very special people. THANKYOU.

The future

I might explore a very small print run self-published book of the highlights (let me know if you are interested). The blog will remain live. The adventures will continue and the writing will happen at opportune times. But I won’t try to keep to 52 in the year. Other writing will take precedence – Africa Stories, contributing to a mythopoetic book on outdoor education, working on films and who knows what else. Maybe a small charity initiative taking shape – “Save the Planet, Save the World – One Day at a Time”.




52 adventures list

95 days in the bush for the year

Trips from ½ a day to 10 days duration

Canberra area, Blue Mountains, Snowy Mountains, Tasmania, Central Australia

Activities – rockclimbing, caving, cross country skiing, cycling, hiking, surfing, canyoning, ocean swimming, vertical rescue, abseiling, whitewater kayaking, ski touring



52        Bowens Creek Canyon

7/2/16 Canyoning – Blue Mountains  Lower Bowens Creek North

51        Serendipity

6/2/16 Canyoning – Blue Mountains  Serendipity and Wollangambe 2 Canyons

50        Edge – Night Climb   

4/2/16 Booroomba Rocks       Rock climbing

49        Gibraltar Creek

11/1/16           Natural world immersion

48        Bogong Moth Frenzy NYE

31/12/15 – 1/1/16      Brindabellas mountain peak

47        Settlers Track

28/12/15         Hiking

46        Bold and the Beautiful

Ocean swimming        Manly to Shelley Beach return           23,24,25/12/15

45        Surfing Manly with Royalty

Surfing – Manly Beach           20 – 24/12/15

44        Drawing the line

14/12/15         Bungonia – Cooee Point         Abseiling

43        Big Wall Roped Solo Booroomba

10-11/12/15    Booroomba Rocks       Rockclimbing

42        Underestimated and Under threat – The Best of the Snowies on Foot

5-6/12/15        Snowy Mountains        Hiking

41        Volunteer

3/12/15           Budawang Ranges      Hiking

40        Respect, Admiration and Gratitude

2/12/15           Booroomba Rocks       Rockclimbing – with Neil Montgomery

39        Friends Fab Fun on the river

14/11/15         Cotter to Urriara Crossing      1.43 on guage at Mt. McDonald

38        Fog

11/11/15         Camels Hump and Pierce Trig            Hiking             18km

37        Fields of flowers

4/11/15           Short Wednesday walk – Tuggeranong Hill. 8km. 2 ¼ hours.

36        Vertical Rescue

29/10 – 1/11/15          White Rocks, Snake Rock, artificial environment, Legoland

35        Rope Guiding

20/10/15         Jindabyne Rock           Abseil guiding

34        Hero At The Seaside

16 – 19/10/15 Cycling and bodysurfing – Illawarra coast

33        Snakes and Lizards

15/10/15         Western Foreshores Walk – Googong Dam carpark to Tin Hut return – 21 km  Hiking

32        Riverplay

23/9/15           Point Hut to Pine Island – Murrumbidgee River        Whitewater kayaking

31        A walk to the creek with Mum

30/8/15           Pennant Hills Park

30        Making the Most

25 – 27 Aug 2015        Perisher Valley Nordic trails   Cross country skiing

29        Jagungal –  Journey to the sacred mountain

17 – 20/8/15   Kosciuszko National Park – Jagungal Wilderness       Ski touring

28        Cross country ski trails with novices and winter Olympians.

14/8/15           Nordic Ski Trails – Perisher Valley     Cross country skiing

27        Mount Twynam – A Day in a Life

26        Larapinta – Part 2 Ellery Creek to Simpsons Gap – 9 days

8/7 – 15/7/15              Western Macdonald Ranges – Northern Territory – Central Australia     Hiking

25        Larapinta Trail – Part 1 Mount Sonder – Day walk

7/7/15 Western Macdonald Ranges – Northern Territory – Central Australia         Hiking

24        A chilly swim in the local river

30 June            Murrumbidgee River  Whitewater kayaking

23        A walk in the old country – Gibraltar Peak

26 June            Gibraltar Peak – Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Hiking

22        Cliffcare

21 June            Honeysuckle Crag – Namadgi            Rockclimbing

21        Outlaws, bushrangers and hidden treasure

12 June            Canberra Nature Park – Rob Roy       Hiking

20        If we could read this landscape

6 – 8 June        Budawang Range        Hiking

19        Bucket List

4 June Googong          Hiking

18        The Good the Bad and the Ugly

1 – 2 June 2015           Wee Jasper again – days 8 and 9 working underground       Caving

17        Caving Connections

26 – 27/5/15   Wee Jasper again       Caving

16        The Outdoor Education Teacher Underground

18 – 20/5/15    Wee Jasper     Caving

15        Walking with Dad

9 – 10/5/15      Blue Mountains – Blue Gum Forest    Bushwalking

14        Conversations while Walking for Pleasure

7/5/15 Canberra Centenary Trail       Walking

13        Club day at the local

3/5/15 Booroomba Rocks       Rockclimbing

12        Back at school – On the river

30/4 – 1/5/15  Clyde River      Canoeing and kayaking two day tour between Nelligen and Anglers Reach.

Notes on Falling

11        Ethics and Retreat

Secret spot #2 14 – 16 April    Rockclimbing – more new routes

Interlude        Run

Canberra half marathon         April 12

10        Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Maria Island – Tasmania        March 30 – April 1      Bush cycling

9          Test of the toughest

Freycinet – east coast Tasmania         March 26 – 28            Hiking

7 and 8            Pine Valley

March 17 – 20            Tasmania – Lake St Clair area            Hiking

The Labyrinth, Cephissus Falls

6          Rocky Cape

March 16        Tasmania north coast Day walk

5          Adventure climbing

March 10 – 12            Secret spot in the Blue Mountains – no clues given   Rockclimbing new routes

4          Eighteen

March 8          Booroomba Rocks       Multi pitch rockclimbing

3          “The biggest abseil you could do on a school trip”

March 5          Blue Mountains           Abseiling

2          Back on Rock

Feb 15 Booroomba Rocks       Rockclimbing

1          Surfing in the Lucky Country

2 – 8 Feb 2015 Point Plomer – mid north coast NSW  Surfing

Bowens Creek Canyon


Bowens Creek Canyon


Canyoning – Blue Mountains

Lower Bowens Creek North


A narrow foot track led us down into a land of deep green, damp, tree ferns, moss, mud, huge  trees. Near the bottom a monster trunk had fallen diagonally across the gully.Piper 3


This canyon offered “bang for your buck”. Lots of action in a small distance.

Jumps in, balances across logs, swims, scrambles through blockups, walks through wondrous narrows, passings beneath dripping ferns. We kept moving to stay warm, abseiled beside waterfalls into cold swirling water, laughed, marvelled at the grandeur of it all.

Breon abseilingAt a quiet sojourn Piper asked “How are your 52 adventures going Pete?” “When’s the last day?”

“This is 52. And today’s the last day of the year!” My face was just one big grin. We high fived then continue on.

Breon 1


Admired the stunning beauty, smiled and wowed as midday sunlight beamed down on us between the high walls. We awed at the power in floods, the tangled log jams and massive chockstones above.

Rachel 1


And then we broke out into warm sunshine. A large orange yabbie welcomed us to a sandy lunch spot where we rested before the hike and climb out.Group






Canyoning – Blue Mountains

Serendipity and Wollangambe 2 Canyons



Summers for more than a decade I had dreamed of spending time exploring new canyons in the Blue Mountains.

Hot weather, too hot for other activities. Canyon water is cold. The perfect time of year.

Time now. Invitations to a variety of friends turned into a team of five.

Heavy rain two days before limited our options. Serendipity Canyon has a small catchment and so we could be reasonably confident most of the rain would have passed through.


None of us had done it before. Perfect.

Serendipity means a “fortunate happenstance” or “pleasant surprise”. It was coined by Horace Walpole in 1754. In a letter he wrote to a friend, Walpole explained an unexpected discovery he had made by reference to a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. The princes, he told his correspondent, were “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of”. (Wikipedia)

The first abseils went smoothly and took us deeper into the green, narrow chasm. Sandstone walls towered above. We walked downstream, in the water, balanced on logs, over boulders, at our own pace, taking it all in, staying in touch with each other. Sprinkling rain – light and not a bother.

People serendip into our lives.           I’ve been luckier than most.               Kathy descended first down into a twisted gulch beside a waterfall then yelled up that there was a stance below. She was generous, committed, insightful, creative, optimistic and incredibly hard working. She had been crucial to many of the biggest parts of my career – the local Outdoor Ed. Association, professional development, training programs for adults, a national teaching award, post grad research and an unpaid staff person on most of the “Big Trips” – The Reef, The Nullarbor, Point Perp. She’s just a remarkable person. Canyoning. This was our first personal trip together through 20 years of collaborative effort.

More gorgeous creek walking, drizzle and swims.

The trick is to be awake to the fortunate happenstance. To realise that something special is going on. To take note and appreciate.           Piper scrambled down out of sight then reappeared swimming through the rift way below.             Almost a decade prior she had sat at the back of the classroom. The absolute ideal student – keen as mustard for everything, patient, intelligent, capable, sensitive to those in the team, a born leader. She had aced the course and then uni as well. And been there as a volunteer on more college trips than I could count or remember. Now standing as the ace herself at the front of the class in that very same room, in her very own program. I can only hope she gains as much from it all as I did and has similar occasional happenstances appear in her world from time to time.

The final abseil was a tricky one. Down through a narrow slot. Breon hadn’t done much roping. The rope lowered across his foot as his body descended underneath. His weight pulled it down tighter and then water started falling on his upturned face. He had spent days guiding us round the ski runs in Japan in his own time. Carefully he had inspired and managed the safety of high spirited snowboarders in my college groups as they made jumps in the backcountry snow miles out from the Perisher ski patrol.     He deserved better from me. Somehow as I eased the rope up slightly and Kathy belayed he wiggled his foot loose bit by bit. Then free. Relief. He disconnected from the rope in the deep pool at the bottom and swam to the other end.

We lunched at the intersection with the Wollangambe. A commercial canyoning group came in behind us. Another group floated by on air mattresses. We inflated our lilos and paddled downstream through long pools separated by boulder chokes and logs.

Lying back I could watch the sculptured walls above.

Another canyon, Whungee Wheengee, joined our stream from the left.  We left our gear on a mud bank and explored up into it. The water was much colder. I followed Rachel upstream into the narrowest part of the chasm. The light, the green, the scene, was sublime.           Rachel is a star. Some people just have a knack of lighting up the world. Of making things around them sparkle. Like singing up goodness out of the earth.

Just past the Waterfall of Moss Canyon was our exit beach. Another group and then another with a person with signs of hypothermia. After making sure he was ok we started the long, hot, steep climb out of the gorge. Out of my own Persian fairy tale with a prince and the three princesses of Serendip.

Capture 2


52 Adventures. That's the aim. One each week. Like any real adventure the outcome is unknown. The journey, the comrades, the solitude, the challenges, the special places are what matters. And this is the record – writing, images and video. Enjoy.