Who climbs an eight hundred and seventy five metre high mountain on their honeymoon? Well we did! It was 1991 and we were newly-weds, full of energy and idealism. We set out at 7am on day three of our ten day honeymoon on Lord Howe Island, naively eager to climb the looming Mount Gower.
'Standing tall at 875 metres, Mt. Gower is Lord Howe’s highest mountain. Rated as one of Australia’s best day walks, the Mt. Gower hike is a challenging eight hour return trek, complete with rope-assisted climbs and dizzying drops. Walkers traverse around 14 kilometres across the mountain's rugged terrain, encountering some of the islands rarest plants and wildlife along the way. Standing atop Gower's iconic peak, amongst its misty forest inhabited by the island's famous woodhens, walkers experience breathtaking views of the island and its crystal blue waters.'
One of my convictions is that great friendships can only be sustained with the sharing of common ground. Whether it be love of family, food, faith, gardening, tennis, camping, art, travel, hiking, sailing, painting, cooking, baking, farmers markets, fine wine, exercising, shopping, reading and so on, each of us do have our own unique list of interests. The doing of these things are best done and shared together cementing friendships. Mr G and I are married and we are also best friends. One of the shared loves we have is adventuring in the outdoors. Clearly this has been the case for us since day one, otherwise would it be likely that either one would have dragged the other up a mountain three days into our honeymoon?
Truth be told we had never actually done a hike like that before, which unearths another commonality we share; the 'how hard can it be?' approach we seem to have with adventure and life.
A few years back now we forfeited the idea of visiting the same seaside town on the north coast of NSW for every family holiday. Some dear friends had re-located to Darwin and we decided on a twelve day holiday to the Northern Territory to see them. We had never been to Darwin before, we threw in a seven night road trip through Kakadu National Park for the whole family, travelling in a not so spacious RV. We discovered the freedom that road tripping offers, however also appreciated the relative largeness of our small home in Sydney, once we returned home and were out of the confines of the RV!
Gradually we have become more and more adventurous. On one road trip down the NSW South Coast we heard about a day walk, a chance to climb another big mountain, this time with the kids in tow. Pigeon House Mountain was an arduous climb, ending in a series of staircases, not for the faint hearted or those suffering acrophobia (fear of heights). However, the magnificent view of the Budawang Range and the expansive Morton National Park was a just reward. Our interest for climbing mountains seemed to be growing and not long after the Pigeon House Mountain walk we found a most inspiring book, that would serve to fuel the idea and challenge us to do more big walks!
'40 Great Walks in Australia' by Tyrone Thomas and Andrew Close (Explore Australia) you can buy it here
'The forty selected walks are a representation of rainforest, desert, coast, volcanic features, inland gorges and mountain scenery. Many of the selected walks are in the southern two thirds of Australia, as far northern Australia is often too hot for comfortable walking. Additionally in the south there is a longer seasonal window for walking. Walks are graded as easy, medium, or hard and time taken to complete walks will vary greatly, depending on the experience of individuals.'
We were able to tick the box on only two of the forty walks listed in the book;
Mount Gower, Lord Howe Island, NSW / Rated: Hard - day walk/8.5k (completed by us together in 1991)
Pigeon House Mountain, South Coast, NSW / Rated: Medium - 2.5hr walk/4.8k (completed by us together in 2010 with our kids in tow).
With the company of good friends we did our first walk in New Zealand a couple of years ago, The Tora Coastal Walk. A stunning walk of 40 kilometres over three days through coastal and farmland. You can read about the Tora Coastal walk here
.Earlier this year we turned our attention to Australia's south and headed for Tasmania to tackle another couple of walks in the book;
Wineglass Bay-Hazards Beach, TAS / Rated: Medium - 4.5hr walk/13k (completed by us together in 2015 with our kids in tow) You can read about our walk here
Cradle Mountain Circuit, TAS / Rated: Hard-2 day walk/15.2k
However, we opted for The Overland Track Walk, TAS which incorporates the Cradle Mt Circuit but is a 6 day guided walk/70k You could say we took it up a level walking seventy kilometres over six days and you would be correct.
Q.Were we prepared for such a walk?
A.No more prepared than we were when we hiked Mt.Gower three days into our honeymoon.
However twenty fours years later our 'how hard can it be?' approach is still with us, it helped us get there and begin and it carried us through until the end. So how hard was it? I'll share that with you real soon.