January 2019 | Tara Ulbrich
THERE ARE TWO kinds of bushwalkers in the world, forest folk and peak people. Regular readers of this column will probably make a good guess which category this writer belongs to.
I’ve been instructed that excursions into the wild are best done in groups of four, one to stay with the injured and two to go for help. I’ve generally aimed for this protocol but a recent climb to the summit of Quamby Bluff was different. It became a twoway challenge, going it alone and pushing physical effort.
The walk is promoted as a 4-5 hour return and though well marked, I appreciated the directions of previous walkers. They’ve laid branches on false tracks explaining no, not this way. Mostly though my internal dialogue was about the forest scenery, particularly the changes from wet tea tree, to dogwood to myrtle and then sassafras. Approaching the saddle, I savoured a clump of pepperberry like I have never seen before. But there I go, reverting to type, forest fancier.
Others have told me that solo hiking tunes your senses in to making smart choices with each footfall. You only have yourself to rely on. A prerequisite for safety is humility for your environment and the two sections of vertical rock face generate such respect. The top one on the western edge is particularly challenging – steep and slippery. Don’t be distracted by the view back down into Jackeys Marsh.
On the top you’ll continue northeast across spectacular open alpine terrain to the 360 degree viewing position. On a clear day the lowlands and Kooparoona Niara will offer themselves up. If weather has moved in they won’t. On the day I climbed, this is exactly what happened but I didn’t mind. Exhilarated, I had climbed as high as one possibly could, challenging a few ideas about myself in the process.
Photo | Jade Hallam