“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” William Shakespeare
In July this year, I spent a long weekend in the Grampians, along with my sister and her children. We did a couple of short walks to Venus Baths and the Pinnacle, saw heaps of kangaroos, and, in general, felt the stress of everyday living evaporate because we’d found time to get out into nature.
So, when my niece – who lives in Pomonal, near the tourist town of Halls Gap – suggested that she and her partner host Christmas this year, I was thrilled.
The Grampians are situated in western Victoria, Australia, about a three hour drive from Melbourne – and I love going there. Like the Great Ocean Road and Wilsons Promontory, it’s a destination that is firmly entrenched in my heart.
“Are there any mythical beasts which aren’t simple pastiches of nature? Centaurs, minotaurs, unicorns, griffons, chimeras, sphinxes, manticores, and the like don’t speak well for the human imagination. None is as novel as a kangaroo or starfish.” William Poundstone, Labyrinths of Reason
If there’s one place in Australia where you’re pretty much guaranteed to see a kangaroo in the wild, it’s the Grampians National Park. I’ve been there dozens of times and seen kangaroos on every occasion. On my most recent visit, in July this year, we set off on a short hike to Venus Baths – cutting through the Halls Gap camping ground – and immediately saw kangaroos hanging around. On our return, there were even more of them foraging in the grass.
“The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for.” Louis L’Amour 1908 – 1988
A procession of hikers winding their way up to Dead Woman’s Pass
I took this photograph when I was almost at the top of Dead Woman’s Pass (Warmiwanusqa), which is the highest point on the Inca Trail (at 4215 metres above sea level). You can see the procession of hikers winding their way slowly up the mountain. The air is thin, it’s difficult to breathe, it’s fairly steep, and you feel like you’re never going to make it.
But for me, this was such a memorable moment, because I’d contemplated quitting at 3000 metres above sea level. I had been struggling with the altitude, to the point where our porter gave me oxygen. So, those last hundred or so steps to the top of the pass gave me a great sense of satisfaction and it was one of the happiest moments of my life; standing with my sister at the top of Dead Woman’s Pass.
Reaching the highest point of the Inca Trail in Peru
If you’d like to read the full story on my Inca Trail trek, click on the links below:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Machu Picchu
“The only way to save a rhinoceros is to save the environment in which it lives, because there’s a mutual dependency between it and millions of other species of both animals and plants.” David Attenborough
For the last couple of months I’ve been struggling to write. Fortunately, this has given me the extra time to de-clutter my life and, as a result, I’ve inadvertently re-discovered old books; random scribblings on paper and cards; and so many pre-digital photographs.
In particular, the photographic prints bring back so many memories. It’s not that I’ve forgotten them; it’s just that, these days, I rarely look at old photographs.
And while those memories remain tucked away in my heart, I’ve decided to share them on my blog. I think this might also be the inspiration I need to get writing again. After all, photography was always my first love …