Lotsafreshair Blog is Moving!

I’ve been having a blast working on what the new look for the blog should be and the great news is that it is going live THIS MONDAY!

What this means is that if you’ve subscribed via the standard WordPress Follow Me button, you will (sorry about this) need to subscribe again.

The awesome thing is, that it’s super easy to do… just follow this link!

[It is a 2 step process, but hey… nobody likes spam, eh? I certainly don’t take it hiking and I don’t like it online either.]

If you’ve subscribed by email already, you don’t need to do anything… you’ve automatically been migrated across. Isn’t my developer a smart cookie?!

Lotsafreshair.com - New Design Sneak Peek!

Lotsafreshair.com – New Design Sneak Peek!

Well, here goes team… I hope you’ll join me on all the exciting new adventures ahead in Lotsafreshair (Mark II) – see you on the other side!

Cheers

Caro

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The Mysterious Lindeman Pass

I love a good story. And the story of The Lindeman Pass in the Blue Mountains is a cracker.

Today I was reminded of this quote by Thomas Edison, which I found inside my daily Happy Pills.

Thomas Edison: A man obsessed

Thomas Edison: A man obsessed

So, Edison was obviously passionate, focussed, single-minded and one could argue,  obsessive. So too, was Charles Lindeman. A council alderman in the Blue Mountains and a man on a mission to build a walking track that would link Wentworth Falls and Katoomba, along the base of the cliff line, at the top of the Talus slope.

nb: Please tweak your YouTube playback settings to 1080p or 720p before watching this video!

If you’ve ever been to The Blue Mountains, you’ll know that one of the most popular tourist hiking tracks is the Federal Pass. It snakes along the base of the cliff line from Mt Solitary’s western flank, past the Ruined Castle and the Golden Stairs, scooting along across the Scenic Railway and into the lush Leura Forest, where it finishes abruptly at a stunning waterfall. [It’s got it’s own interesting modern history, wrapped up in coal shale mining, but that’s another story.]

Mt Solitary at the south of the Jamison Valley

Mt Solitary at the south of the Jamison Valley

Then, just to the east in the same Jamison/Kedumba Valley area, you can walk at roughly the same height along the jaw-droppingly gorgeous National Pass and Wentworth Pass, around Wentworth Falls and even link up onto Kings Tableland at the far east of the valley.

Kedumba Walls/Kings Tableland to the east (as seen from Lindeman Pass)

Kedumba Walls/Kings Tableland to the east (as seen from Lindeman Pass)

Logic and foresight is a great thing and poor old Charles Lindeman seemed to have lots of that, thinking that a track to join the east and west sections of the Federal Pass together, would make good sense. However, what he didn’t foresee was how vocal and political the Katoomba shop owners of the time would be in their lobbying of the Katoomba Council to ensure that the last 200 metres of the track were never completed. They were scared that all the Sydney tourists of the time (the trains were packed on Friday nights) would all walk away from Katoomba to Wentworth Falls and take all their custom with them. The somewhat darker side to the story is rumours of ill-feeling and anti German sentiment towards Herr Lindeman at this time prior to WWI.

Some of Lindeman's original retaining walls seen in a 'good' section.

Some of Lindeman’s original retaining walls seen in a ‘good’ section.

An article, from the Blue Mountain Echo, 5 September 1913, sums up the case succinctly. Those with an eye for place names, will recognise Dash and Copeland in this article, as they relate to Dashs Cave (see video) and Copeland Pass, being the name given to the somewhat airy pass on Sublime Point above Lindeman Pass. Again, in January 1927, another push was on to finish the track, with the journalist seeing the need for co-operation between the rival Katoomba and Wentworth Falls councils.

Beautiful waterfalls, pounding after storms. (Sadly, the old Water Board ladders are no more, so the trip isn't finished yet).

Beautiful waterfalls, pounding after storms. (Sadly, the old Water Board ladders are no more, so the trip isn’t finished yet).

Now, I’ve already said too much about this grand tale, for someone who knows so little about it. I will leave the detail and relentless research (perhaps as passionate as dear Lindeman himself), to Mr Jim Smith and his wonderful book, “Blue Mountains Mystery Track: Lindeman Pass,” who along with Wilf Hilder, worked tirelessly in the 80’s trying to get the track opened and welcomed into the family of great bushwalks of the Blue Mountains.

In all my 15 years of bushwalking, I have never seen leeches as bad as on Lindemans… epic!

In all my 15 years of bushwalking, I have never seen leeches as bad as on Lindemans… epic!

Alas, these days, after all the blood, sweat, tears and leech bites, of many passionate people, it is only the hardy and experienced navigators and route finders who can today, make their way from Wentworth Falls to Katoomba, along Lindeman’s dream.

The sign says it all - there is one of these at the east and west of the route.

The sign says it all – there is one of these at the east and west of the route.

I am sure the costs to renew the track and bring it up to a ‘manageable’ state, whereby average hikers could be able to undertake it safely, would be well over $2m. There’s simply too much to be done, not only to the track, but also cliff stabilisation above, to warrant the spend of NPWS already tight budgets. I believe that sadly, Mr Lindeman’s dream will remain just that. However, it is a dream that those passionate and experienced few, can continue on.

Encouraging signs… a small but committed work party install new signage - June 2013. [Photo credit TBC]

Encouraging signs… a small but committed work party install new signage – June 2013. [Photo credit TBC]

 

Hiking Food Review : Strive Food 24hr Ration Pack

Following on from last week’s post on Easy Hiking food for Overnight Trips, I was sent some product by the nice folk down in Tassie from Strive Food.

I was interested to read that this small, Aussie business has grown from Todd and Melanie’s basement in Hobart and from their expertise as a nutritionist (Melanie) and Outdoor Ed Instructor (Todd). What a winning combo!

Enjoying the view from Mt Solitary whilst the billy boils.

Enjoying the view from Mt Solitary whilst the billy boils.

For people who are time poor, or lacking experience in the outdoors, having someone else do the packing, prepping and planning for them is a nice weight off their mind.

For years, the market in Australia has been dominated by NZ company Backcountry and fair enough, I’ve eaten many of these in my time and their freeze dried meals are lightweight, easy and tasty. Exactly what everyone wants in the bush.

Vegetarian Laksa Weigh-in at 138 gms

Vegetarian Laksa Weigh-in at 138 gms

I’m encouraged now that there seems to be a really good local Australian competitor to this market in the form of Strive.

I took the 24hr Ration Pack out for a test and the video above shows my experience and thoughts.

Let someone else do all the work - Strive Food 24hr Ration Pack.

Let someone else do all the work – Strive Food 24hr Ration Pack.

The range of products were all known to me and were tasty. I’m not sure about the demand for this full 24hr pack, except perhaps for outdoor ed purposes, which probably is a reflection of Todd’s background. I guess it makes it super easy for a school running Duke of Ed or similar to just stack up on 50 of these packs and hand them out as necessary.

Veggie Laksa Cooking up a treat.

Veggie Laksa Cooking up a treat.

The preparation was super easy, only negative I could find was that the bags didn’t have a simple tear from corner. I needed a knife to get into the bags. Also, the cooking time needed to be about 7 mins longer than stated on the instructions as the noodles weren’t cooked at the stated time.

However, the flavour was good and the serving was ‘generously hearty’ one might say. Actually, it was huge and I struggled to eat all of it! I needed to roll back down the mountain when I’d finished, thankfully I was certainly full of carb energy to do so.

Gnocchi is heavier at 213gm

Gnocchi is heavier at 213gm

I’ve still got the bolognaise and pasta meal to try out and I’m looking forward to that on my upcoming 3 Peaks trip to Kanangra-Boyd NP (just not the traditional route!).

All up, I recommend giving Strive meals a go. Apart from feeling warm and fuzzy inside from the food, there’s also that nice feeling about supporting a local Australian small business.

Ordering online is easy through their website and if you live in Hobart, you can even pop into their shop.

Generally speaking, I think that most people will opt for the main meals when it comes to pre-packaged dehydrated or freeze dried meals. I think it’s basically pretty lazy if you can’t wrangle together breakfast, lunch and snacks from your local supermarket.

For goodness sake, you’re about to put yourself out in the bush for several days – if you can’t manage to pop some muesli and milk powder into a ziploc bag, there’s something wrong!

Q: What’s been your experiences with pre-packed dried foods for hiking? (The good, the bad and the inedible!)

Coming Soon – Brand New Hiking How-To Videos and New Look Blog!

Yay! I’m so excited!!

You know how they say that change is as good as a holiday? Well, I guess I’m about to feel as though I’ve had one big holiday, because there’s a whole lot of ‘change’ coming very soon.

If you follow the @Lotsafreshair Instagram or Twitter, you might have seen me and the crew oot n’ aboot (a loving nod to my Canadian friends) shooting new clips for the 2nd series of the Lotsafreshair – How To Hiking videos.

The amazing crew of Mark (Big Dog), Peter and I, spent an incredibly busy day up in the Blue Mountains at the end of 2013, putting down as many tips n’ tricks as we could in the time we had.

That's a wrap!

That’s a wrap! Big Dog & Caro – Butterbox at Sunset – near Mt Hay, Leura.

Thanks to the awesome guys at National Parks, we had some amazing locations including Pulpit Rock, overlooking the Grose Valley, and the Butterbox at sunset, out near Mt Hay.

And as they say in late night TV, ‘…But that’s not all!‘ Alas, I don’t have any steak knives to give away, but I am also working on a lovely, fresh new look for the blog. Well, actually, the lovely Cath from Phase Creative is doing all the pretty stuff and I’m super happy with it.

Lotsafreshair.com - New Design Sneak Peek!

Lotsafreshair.com – New Design Sneak Peek!

I’ve been frustrated with the existing design, as I didn’t feel the design allowed enough topics and content on the screen. So we’ve been working on moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org (the bloggers amongst you will know what that all means!), and using this renewed flexibility to come up with a layout and design that really works.

And another sneaky look...

And another sneaky look…

The great news is that the design phase is nearly complete, and now it’s just down to the developing and coding side of things… oh you amazing, mighty, Web Princess of the dark arts of < and >. I am not worthy!  So no launch date yet for the new blog design, but you will start seeing the new videos over the coming weeks… YAY!!!

I’d love to hear what you think about the teaser video and any thoughts on what types of videos you’d like to see in the future. Please drop me a line below to let me know!

Where’s your hiking home?

Following on from last week’s post about living in small spaces, I’ve been thinking about where I feel most at home.

I’ve always said, that ‘home should be your refuge’. It’s the place where you can go and shut the door, relax, truly be yourself and be at peace.

I kinda feel like I’ve got two homes… one indoors and one outdoors.

I know I do go on about them, so it’s no surprise that I’m pretty much at home in the Blue Mountains National Park, just west of Sydney. It’s got a great mix of tracked and managed areas, along with intensely wild, untracked wilderness, gorges and canyons. Lots of variety and being a massive 268,987 ha (664,681 acres) in size, there’s plenty of choice and opportunity to get away from civilisation.

So what about you? Where’s your wilderness home?

Tents as Tiny Houses

Up until a week ago, I’d never heard the term, Tiny House.

Ah, now it's fit for MY purpose at <750grams.

My tent – My ultimate Tiny House

That was until I read this blog post by Wild and Scruffy, who writes one of my favourite blogs. On the surface, she doesn’t seem to have anything in common with me. For one, she is married with kids, but that doesn’t make her a Mummy Blogger; She takes nice photos, but that doesn’t make her a photographic blogger; she writes about the bush and outdoors only occasionally, so she’s no hiking blogger. Essentially, she is a good writer with a great way of bringing me back to the simple things in life. She reminds me to reflect on what’s truly important, sometimes through the mundane of day to day life.

My tiny home tent on the Huayhuash Circuit, Peru

My tiny home tent on the Huayhuash Circuit, Peru

As I was watching the documentary by Kirsten Dirksen I was inspired to think differently about home and what constitutes it.

We’ve all thought about it at one time or another… When is enough, enough? When does the hunting-gathering drive of stuff, overtake the need that the stuff was originally fulfilling?

Home for the night in 100 Man Cave, Kanangra-Boyd NP.

Home for the night in 100 Man Cave, Kanangra-Boyd NP.

Wild & Scruffy’s post and the doco got me thinking about my own tiny house (which only met the bank’s criteria for granting a mortgage whereby it had to be >50m2, because it has a parking space and a storeroom) and my even tinier house, my tent, fly and other shelters that I sleep under in wild places.

Various shelters on the Colo River, NSW. Walrus optional for floating down river!

Various shelters on the Colo River, NSW. Blue walrus optional for floating down river!

I’ve been living in the same place for over 10 years now, and over the past few years I’ve been tossing around the concept of stepping up in size. From one bedroom to two and a balcony would be nice. There seems to be this cultural drive, a momentum to be continually seeking ‘the next thing’, which invariably means, the next ‘bigger’ thing. Where improvement is measured by a change of status, perceived from your home, which apparently… is meant to bring happiness.

Having watched the doco and done some thinking, all that the endless striving seems to bring is debt. Debt which means your life is controlled by the necessity to earn a certain income, work a certain job and debt that brings incalculable fear and anxiety if you lose that job.

Sunset on the Huayhuash Circuit, Peru.

Sunset on the Huayhuash Circuit, Peru.

Are we designed to live in that cycle of control and fear?

One of the very basic things that draws me to wild places, especially overnight and extended walks, is the ability to be self sufficient. To know that when I leave the carpark, I have everything I need to eat, sleep, drink and be happy for x number of days. This isn’t about chest-beating, hunter-gatherer, knife-carrying, beast-killing, Bear Grylls urine-drinking survival style techniques. My friends and I don’t belong to that style of wilderness living, sorry.

Sleeping in an overhang

Sleeping in an overhang

But the comfort that the few items I carry comfortably on my back all have a purpose and that everything will be used – although hopefully not the first aid kit or PLB!

Essentially, our shelters that we build for ourselves, whether they be tents, fly-only, hammocks or even under an over-hang or cave, are tiny houses in the extreme. How can you describe the feeling you get when you look around your shelter by head torch and realise that you have everything you need?

Turtle like, we carry what we need and live simply for those few days that we venture out. The challenge to myself (maybe to you to?) is how can we bring this philosophy into our everyday lives?

This rethink stopped me in my tracks. I’ve discovered a new joy for my existing tiny house and rather than looking to the unknown of the bigger and better, (more debt, more control, more fear), I’m excited and refreshed about living in the now, living deliberately with what I have and continuing a practice I started in 2013, which was the ‘Urge to Purge’… but more on that another time!

Q:  What tips do you have for finding and maintaining simplicity in your life?

Leeches – That slimy, slippery, itchy, sinking feeling

Can you feel it? Nah, you probably can’t. If you’re anything like me, sometimes the first thing you feel is the damp trousers against your calf as your blue blood oozes, unrestrained, into the fresh wilderness air. Last Monday, Australia Day (Invasion Day), I set out to walk a historic, somewhat invisible, track in the Blue Mountains.

Around a waterfall is a prime spot to find leeches

Around a waterfall is a prime spot to find leeches

Although the day started grey, it wasn’t long before the blue sky broke through and my companion and I were bathed in beautiful sunshine. However, down at ground level, under the lush canopy, the mystery of the disappearing track and recent downpours had the earth beneath our feet become the unmistakable home sweet home of Euhirudinea – the Leech.

Lush and ferny - a perfect home for leeches

Lush and ferny – a perfect home for leeches

Like something from Alien, the Australian version of these hermaphrodite little darlings have 2 toothy jaws, (3 in other countries) and seek out a tasty dinner which can keep them going for up to 3 months. They do this by producing a secretion called Hirudin, which stops the blood from clotting… hence the unstoppable flood of our precious, red stuff.

A leech can go without eating for 3 months!

A leech can go without eating for 3 months!

Like most people, I used to get pretty grossed out by these little critters, however, over the years I’ve come to admire their tenacity, patience and curiosity and am happy to reward them with my ample B positive. I’m no Buddhist, but find it quite unnecessary to smother them in salt, which causes them to sizzle, froth and die – surely a bit over the top. I simply get my finger nail under them and flick them off, making sure not to flick them in the direction of my friends.

The evidence of Hirudin, the anti clotting agent

The evidence of Hirudin, the anti clotting agent

Sure, I bleed. Big deal. And for the next 5 days I am scratching into the wee hours of the night, whilst reaching for my trusty spray of Stingose, but I kinda think of it as being part of the Circle of Life, like something from The Lion King.

Leeches? Just smile and get over it.

Leeches? Just smile and get over it.

Not to get too sentimental about these suckers, as they can cause infections such as cellulitis, but for me I don’t give them a second thought. Get over it… move on – oh, unless of course you’ve got one on your eyeball!

Oh and with gonads in their heads, I should probably start calling them Dickheads, instead of my usual expletive… bastard (as per the video)!

Q:  What’s your favourite method of dealing with leeches?

The Quintessential Australian Travel Bucket-list : Uluru-Kata Tjuta NP

How many times have you met tourists who’ve seen more of your country than you have?

Even though I felt like I’ve done quite a bit of travelling around this vast ol’ Aussie continent, much of it has been during roadtrips with my family in childhood (#AreWeThereYet #MumImBored) or as an adult, to places that are hiking Meccas as I heed the call to bushwalking prayer.

A few years back I realised that there’s a whole chunk of the tourist destination market (mostly iconic overseas images of Australia) that I’d simply never been to. These are the ones that I had to admit to never seeing, feeling somewhat embarrassed, whenever overseas visitors raved about them.

So, I set about forming a list of places in my own country, that I’d like to see. I call it the, “DRUANTH” list or Down-Right-un-Australian-Not-To-Have, list. It is made up of two rough types, being 1) tourist icons and 2) bushwalking/hiking friendly. The nice thing is finding ones that can be on both lists!

Uluru at Sunrise (Pic: Caro Ryan)

Uluru at Sunset (Pic: Caro Ryan)

The video above is my visual reflection of my first visit to Uluru Kata-Tjuta NP visit. I felt like I needed to experience this place for myself, feel it and listen to the sounds of it, learn what it has to teach me.

_MG_6405

Windswept tree at Uluru (pic: Caro Ryan)

My feelings were that I found Uluru to be an immensely sad place, it had a heaviness about it. I was astounded that people still felt that they needed to climb to the top given the gentle requests of the local traditional owners. I took part in the free interpretative guided walk with the ranger and then walked the easy 9.4 km around the base as well as spent a good amount of time at the Discovery Centre trying to learn what I could.

Walking track around Uluru (pic: Caro Ryan)

Walking track around Uluru (pic: Caro Ryan)

The feelings at Kata Tjuta were in stark contrast to those that I felt at Uluru. As I set off along the Valley of the Winds Circuit (7.4km – they say 4 hrs, I did it in 1hr 45min) I felt a welcoming, a warmth (that wasn’t just the 33 degree temps!) and a sense of laughter.

Kata Tjuta Valley of the Winds walk (pic: Caro Ryan)

Moon over Kata Tjuta – Valley of the Winds walk (pic: Caro Ryan)

Although I was alone, like at Uluru, this time I felt welcomed in this place. Hard to describe and probably sounds a bit wacky, but this was my experience.

Kata Tjuta - Valley of the Winds walk (pic: Caro Ryan)

Kata Tjuta – Valley of the Winds walk (pic: Caro Ryan)

On the third day of my trip, I travelled out to Kings Canyon which is a 652km round trip from Yulara (the accommodation village at Uluru), which means that if you’re going to do it alone, in a day, then snoozing on a tour bus that departs before dawn with a breakfast stop on the way, is definitely the best way to go.

Kings Canyon (pic: Caro Ryan)

Kings Canyon (pic: Caro Ryan)

Although I enjoyed the easy 6km loop track around the rim of the canyon, it really is only a taster for much more adventurous trips in the area. I kept wishing I was with some hiking friends, with our gear and could runaway from the tour group!

I’m super keen to return and do the Giles Track and Kathleen Springs walks that my bushwalking friends Tom Brennan and Rachel Grindley documented in their great website with amazing photos that I’ve linked to here.

And just so you don’t get a shock when you get there…

You know how you always see lovely photographs of Uluru at sunrise or sunset – the classic picture postcard shot that give a sense of isolation?…

_MG_6495

Uluru sunset on grass (Pic: Caro Ryan)

… this is what you are surrounded by whilst trying to find your sense of wonder and isolation, witnessing the colours changing on Uluru.

Hoards of tourists, wining and dining, jostling for position to the sound of camera snaps… but it's worth it!

Hoards of tourists, wining and dining, jostling for position to the sound of camera snaps… but it’s worth it!

So, if you’re coming as a private traveller, BYO otherwise you’ll start salivating for all the goodies that people around you are enjoying.

What destinations are on your DRUANTH list (for the Aussies) or the DRU*NTH list (for everyone else)?

How Places get their Names

I love maps.

As a young kid, I used to lie on the lounge room floor and plan imaginary trips across the vast continent of Australia. In the internal conversation (that only makes sense to an 8 year old), I was an intrepid explorer, explaining the route to a curious journalist about a far flung adventure to link up curious names on the map of my homeland.

Planning adventures on the lounge room floor with Foxie's Katoomba 1:25,000

Planning adventures on the lounge room floor with Foxie’s Katoomba 1:25,000

These days, the picture is still the same. I lie on the floor of my grown up lounge room, muttering to myself about distances and how close those contour lines seem to be at a particular point, but instead of an imaginary journalist, I’m trying to sell an exploratory adventure to myself… and then hopefully, to my friends!

One of my favourite sketch maps - the wonderful Dunphy Maps

One of my favourite sketch maps – the wonderful Dunphy Maps

Maps truly are amazing things and inspired by last week’s post about place names that inspire fear, I decided to look at just how places get their names. Officially.

In the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of walking a few times with Brian (I call him “Foxie”) Fox. Not only is he an incredibly experienced bushwalker, with a superb ability to climb/shimmy/scale and slide his way up or down seemingly unsurpassable cliff lines, revealing themselves to be, in fact, old Aboriginal passes, he’s a very nice bloke!

Apart from this, although now retired (yeah, right) he previously spent 40 years working for the Lands Department of New South Wales, which due to several name changes along the way, included the Central Mapping Authority. The majority of his time there was spent in the compilation of topographical maps, with a key project being the Katoomba 1:25,000 for which he played a major role on the “new” digital series – the first to include the aerial photograph on the reverse side – which we’re now familiar with.

Brian Fox (Pic: Jeanette Holdsworth)

Brian Fox (Pic: Jeanette Holdsworth)

He is the perfect person to ask about maps and how they come about, so he kindly agreed to this interview:

Brian, where did your love of mapping and bushwalking come from?

From 8 to 21 years old, I was involved in the Boy’s Brigade. From a young boy I rose through the ranks to be a leader and part of this organisation involved outdoor activities such as bushwalking and camping. At school my love of Geography also led me to the mapping side of things.

If I come across a significant feature (ridge, knoll, creek, river, etc) that doesn’t have a name on a topo map, can I name it? What is the process of a place getting an “official name”?

Yes! Anyone can submit a name for approval. Check the Geographical Names Board website and download a naming proposal form. There are a few naming conventions, i.e. if you are naming a place after a person, that person cannot be in the land of the living, do not use apostrophes, have good solid evidence, primary evidence to support your case, make sure the feature did not have a previous name and was there an older Aboriginal name for that feature?

The name you submit will also be passed on to the local LGA area, council for their designated officer to make comments. If in a National Park, then a copy is sent to the NPWS for their approval. Following that, your proposal goes to the Geographical Names Board (GNB), if approved then the name is advertised in the local paper for 30 days for public comment. If all goes well the name is then gazetted.

You can download the handy fact sheet about How to Name a place.

Brian, not to be out foxed! (Pic: Brian Graetz)

Brian, not to be out foxed! (Pic: Brian Graetz)

How do you approach the detective work of finding out the history behind a place name? Where do you start and how does the journey feel, especially when you find out the answer?

The short answer is I leave no stone unturned and examine every possible source of material I can lay my hands on. I ascertain what does the name imply, i.e. does the named text indicate it is named after a person, event or time frame? I first check my own records (as I have built up a reasonably good collection of books and maps), looking for primary sources (birth, death certificates, electoral rolls etc) and secondary sources (newspapers, tourist directories) of information. If the name is of a person, then there are a number of ways to track it down, e.g. genealogy web sites, Election Rolls, probate, newspapers, Public Servant lists, railway employees, Blue Book, Council Minutes and cemetery records to name just a few.

It goes without saying it is a very time consuming occupation, at times with plenty of dead ends, but when you start to unravel the mystery it feels like a “Eureka” moment. The time and effort than becomes worthwhile.

Tell me about your book, “Blue Mountains Geographical Dictionary”. How did this come about and what has the response been?

It was a combination of mapping, i.e. establishing the correct position and naming of text on the Katoomba Topo Map, plus my love for the bush and bushwalking that led me to research place names within the Blue Mountains. I soon realised that only a few of the common names had been investigated and a lot of the generation of people which held the oral history were passing on. This made me realise the need to record our Australian Blue Mountain Place Names before further information was lost.

Just a small selection of some of Brian and Michael's books

Just a small selection of some of Brian and Michael’s books (Pic: Caro Ryan)

Since that book, you’ve been working tirelessly with bushwalker Michael Keats on a series of other bushwalking books. How did the relationship come about and what is the aim of those books? What types of info is in them?

In 2005 (whilst working for the Lands Department) I took a telephone call from the Geographical Names Board and was transferred to a person (Michael Keats) who was seeking information on a name on the Jenolan Topo map. From this simple request we soon established that we held a number of things in common, our love of the bush, our desire not just explore, but to understand the origins behind the place names on the map.

Each book in the series has as it’s core, bushwalking track notes with plenty of photos. But the aim of this series is to include as much as the physical and cultural aspects as possible. Such as,

  • geology
  • climate
  • historical maps
  • river catchments
  • place names
  • flora
  • fauna
  • European settlement
  • forestry
  • mining
  • threatened species, etc.
Brian in the Gardens of Stone NP (Pic: Yuri Bolotin)

Brian in the Gardens of Stone NP (Pic: Yuri Bolotin)

You’re about to launch book 5 of the Gardens of Stone series, for such a relatively unknown National Park, that’s a prolific work. Why did you embark on this series?

One of our main reasons is that this huge area has never been fully documented, just small segments. Our researched books do not just cover the Gardens of Stone National Park and beyond series, but also a large slice of the adjoining Wollemi and Blue Mountains National Parks. Apart from highlighting this unique area to the general public, we wish to be able to focus the attention of the policy makers in protecting the fragile environment and to direct those such people to change the status of the State Forests which adjoin these national parks either by adding to or as State Conservation Areas. Our secondary aim is to leave a lasting legacy for the following generations.

Check out this video with cameos and explanations by Foxie taken during a walk/climb up Pantoney’s Crown in the Gardens of Stone National Park!

What’s next, after the GOS series?

While the Gardens of Stone National Park and beyond series continues, so also is my various history articles being researched for Blue Mountains History Journal, articles are submitted to various places including The Sydney Speleological Society.  While GOS continues Michael Keats and I are storing researched information on Capertee National Park,  Passes within the Jamison Valley, and we would also like to revise our book on the Passes of Narrow Neck with new information which has come to hand since it was published. Never a dull moment.

Walking in Gardens of Stone NP (Pic: Caro Ryan)

Walking in Gardens of Stone NP (Pic: Caro Ryan)

 

In summary, Brian stresses the importance of authentic documentation. Keep your records up to date, write on the back of photographs (or in the metadata of digital images). Things like dates, events, location (some camera’s include GPS data already) and people are essential.

I’ve personally found Brian and Michael to be very generous in their knowledge and expertise. They have done immense amounts of research through their books and they are passing this on. Together, they truly are leaving a lasting, positive legacy for all.

You can find out more about these two Bush Explorers at their website, as well as purchasing their books! You seriously will not find a more detailed account of these locations in any other book.