I’m three days shy of a two-week holiday. The first week I’ll spend with my wife exploring our options in lieu of the exotic beachside luxury hotel Noosa holiday we just cancelled because the borders are still closed. Stupid COVID-19! I guess Queensland don’t want my tourist dollars — their loss — but that will be a post unto itself. My wife then returns to work, leaving me to my own devices for the second week, so I’m going to hike into the remote Abercrombie River National Park where I’ll photograph and prospect the course of a wild river. Pretty tame compared to many walks I’ve done, but I’m still looking forward to the physical challenges, not dying, and keeping my own company for a couple of nights.

What’s different about this walk is the logistics. I’m only three hours from home, and I’ll have my car jammed with every option I may need. What a luxury, to be able to react to the weather and still maximise my experience: if I stumble across the perfect creekside campsite, for example, then the Hilleberg Akto will get a run. If not, then I’ll be looking for some well-spaced trees to hook up my hammock. I’ll endure very unpleasant weather before executing my third option: sleeping in the car. It’s not going to be an endurance event. Even the gold prospecting is secondary to the simple joys of being alone in the bush with my thoughts and the labour of my hands. The only thing that will send me home early is a bushfire or a bunyip.

I will be making a video of this adventure. I will be looking for a ‘Thomas Heaton moment’. But the Australian bush closes in around you, and can be very claustrophobic. My 90mm macro lens will be getting a workout. Instead of panoramas, expect fungi, waterworn pebbles, riverside flotsam, crazy lines and patterns in rock faces, bark, and Australian flora. It fascinates me that a wood beetle can bore weird, beautiful channels just below the skin of a eucalyptus, revealed like a Banksy artwork only when the tree drops its outer mantle after a bushfire. I want to come home with a picture to hang over my bed. I’ll take a nugget too, but a photo journal of the things I’ve seen and done is more precious to me than gold.

Of course, you’ll be the first to see it. I like sharing these things with strangers, because I don’t actually know anybody else that cares. I don’t give a shit if you’re a taxi driver from Mumbai or London or Cairo, you’re welcome to join me. The Australian bush is honestly unlike any other ecosystem on Earth — everything here is on the cusp of prehistoric and will fuck you up if you let it. I have nothing but absolute respect for the bare-footed First Nations peoples who curated the country for 60,000 years before a bunch of white motherfuckers with guns, grog and gonorrhea turned up in a boat and stole it from them.

All of the pictures today were from a casual 14.9km stroll I did the other day. Just wanted to whet your appetite a little for the real thing.

Stand by.

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