…I absolutely love navigation!
I can spend entire days and nights studying maps and charts, imagining walking or sailing through them as my head intuitively interprets every feature.
I’m old school and will always choose paper maps and a compass over devices. I need the bigger picture, a tiny screen in my palm doesn’t cut it. Believe me, I tried, even bought a $700 GPS when planning the Tassie lap. My awesome geocaching sister now happily uses it.
Last week I read “Wild by Nature” by Sarah Marquis about her epic solo unaccompanied walk across the world. There is a lot in this book I understand because I have also lived it including Sarah’s inner compass, “I always navigate by instinctively finding my position in the landscape. For reasons I don’t really understand, I can find north without a compass or GPS.”
I still have a very clear recollection of the day I discovered the same ability. I was 9 and we were having a family picnic in the Mt Sugarloaf State Conservation Area near Newcastle. My grandpa brought a compass on our bushwalk and asked if I could find north. Without looking or thinking I pointed straight to north. We tested this a few times with different points of the compass and I was accurate within deviation every time. Grandpa and I kept this little discovery a secret, our last secret, understanding that it was going to be a significant part of my future. It often feels like he is with me when I look to the north. Grandpa knew I was different and had a unique intuitive set of skills, including navigation.
But I am going off track a little…
With each section of this walk around Australia I have tried planning an itinerary but this always changes. This is the part of the walk which never happens as planned because I prefer to rest without time limits and take detours and side trips to beautiful and special places. Now I just make a plan of the towns I will pass through or rest in, when I arrive remains flexible and I won’t know until days before whether I walk in via the beach, bush, mountains or road.
There will be no more walking beside the highway this year so I am looking at every walking alternative like back roads, 4WD tracks, established walking trails, occasionally leaving the tracks altogether and many long sweeping beaches down the magnificent east coast and Great Dividing Range of Australia.
Between Gladstone and Canberra there are many walking tracks I hope to explore between the hinterlands and coastal national parks, over escarpments and through the high country. Some will be in new country, others I look forward to walking again.
Other people’s fear and doubts never get in my way. I have been ignoring them all my life which is probably why I have achieved so much. But I take safety seriously so I spend a lot of time studying maps for terrain, water supplies, food and services, shelter, stealth camping, alternative paths and distances between my resupplies and supporting hosts.
There is only so much information I can glean from maps. Much more useful information comes from locals and grey nomads so I regularly indulge in long roadside and campfire conversations, storing away as many valuable pieces of information as my memory can absorb.
Although I may not be able to set an itinerary it is helpful to have a rough idea of where I’ll be and when and hopefully a friendly face to meet me on arrival.
Below is a list, from north to south, of the towns and tracks I will probably walk through. I will rest for a day or two each week or accumulate a few rest days each fortnight. If you would like to meet or can help out in some way please don’t hesitate to let me know.
Leaving Gladstone on the 25th June
South West Rocks
To be continued…