Why did I do it?
Just over two years ago, I was unhealthy, unfit and struggling with overwhelm. My husband was FIFO and I had three young children. I had been pouring my time, money and heart into a business I loved but that was not thriving.
Then, my sister, founder and owner of ALF Health, dragged me up a mountain. Tabletop Mountain in Toowoomba, to be exact. It was muddy, rocky, slippery, steep and so, so flippin’ hard.
I was the slowest. I wanted to quit. I told myself I couldn’t do it.
But then I did.
And I loved it.
And I wanted more.
I found my “thing.”
I found self-care, fitness and the beauty of nature, all in one.
From that point on, I went hiking whenever I could. I climbed that mountain multiple times, as well as countless other local hikes.
When we decided to pack up and live in a caravan, and I knew we were planning on going to Tasmania, I decided I wanted to challenge myself even more. The Overland Track went on my bucket list, as one of Australia’s iconic multi-day walks.
I knew without a doubt that I was capable (what a change from that woman who was dragged up the mountain!), and that even if it was hard, I would just keep going one step at a time.
When did I do it?
I did the track in January 2018.
Who did I do it with?
I had planned to do the track with one of my dearest friends, but it wasn’t to be. Another friend I had been hiking with offered to come with me, but then she got pregnant!
I was left with what I thought was the only option – going alone. The thought terrified me, but excited me.
Then, Luke (my husband) joked about how I hadn’t asked him. There were two main reasons why – one, because he was going to be looking after the kids, and two, while he had been on a couple of hikes with me, I didn’t think it was something he would want to do for six days!
Anyway, in the end, we did go together. I feel like it was meant to be that way. It transformed our relationship, and it was amazing to spend time together, just the two of us (even if we barely spoke, because we were concentrating on making it to the next camp!)
We flew his parents down to look after the kids, which was a win-win for everyone. We got to do the hike, the grandparents got a holiday and were able to see their beloved grandkids, and our kids were excited to spend the week with granny and grandpa!
How much did my pack weigh?
We were able to share some gear which was great, but our packs still exceeded 20kg (we aren’t sure of exact weight as we didn’t have scales, but thinking 22-23kg each). It was way too much, but by day three we were getting used to it. Ideally, they would have been 15-17kg each, and if I ever do it again, that’s what I would aim for.
What did we pack?
We shared gear, so for two of us, here’s our list.
– 3 person tent (so we could store our packs inside with us)
– 2 x Black Wolf sleeping bags
– 2 x Sea to Summit sleeping mats
– Jetboil Flash stove
– Jetboil pot
– 2 x 470g gas cylinders for the stove
– 2 x collapsible silicone mugs
– 2 x collapsible silicone bowls
– 2 x cutlery sets (spoon, fork, knife)
– Toilet paper
– Toothbrush and Toothpaste
– Duct Tape and Zip Ties
– Food (and coffee)
– 2 x 3L water bladders
– DSLR camera + extra lens + extra battery + 2 filters + filter holder + tripod
– Journal and pen
– Deck of cards
– 2 x pairs of hiking poles
– First Aid kit
– Water treatment tablets (plus dissolvable vitamin C which made the water taste nicer)
– Ziplock bags for rubbish
– 2 x Torches
– 2 x Headlamps
– 2 x iPhones
– Spare batteries
– Battery pack for phone charging
– ID and credit card
– Satellite phone
– Hiking boots
– Small stuffed Yoda toy (#takeyodatravelling)
What clothing did we pack?
We each packed…
– 2 Hiking shirts (mine were both long sleeves, sometimes rolled up)
– 2 Pairs of zip-off pants
– Underwear (I packed 5 pairs)
– 1 Bra (plus one I was wearing)
– 2 Pairs of socks
– Fleece jumper
What food did we pack?
Firstly, let me just say we didn’t pack enough. I really recommend creating ration packs for each day, as well as having an extra bag of nuts/dried fruit/trail mix to snack on. We were far too haphazard and just threw stuff in and thought oh, that’s heaps. Not recommended. At the end of day three, I did a stocktake and rationed the rest. We had enough, but more would have given us more energy and less grumbly tummies. We were hanging out for a real meal, that’s for sure!
Anyway, here’s our food list (what I can remember of it):
– 5 x Back Country (2 serve) dehydrated dinners
– 1 x Dehydrated rice pack
– 3 x Salmon pouches
– Salami sticks
– Brown rice crackers
– 4 Bread rolls (eaten day one and two)
– Protein bars
– Muesli bars
– Condensed milk tubes (almost made up for lack of chocolate)
– Dried apricots and mangoes
– Cream cheese mini tubs
– Coffee sachets
– Half a block of chocolate (not enough) that was in the fridge and my mother law insisted I take so she didn’t eat it)
We usually had protein bars/trail mix for breakfast (wish I had porridge!!), bread rolls and cream cheese or salmon and crackers for lunch, plus rice one day (that was fine but wish we had more), a dehydrated dinner (wish we had some soup, too) and then just random snacks.
I had decided to give up my hot chocolate addiction on the hike – and I bitterly regretted it ha! I’ve since decided that it is absolutely okay to have hot chocolate on a cold evening/chilly morning, and not to deprive myself of that pleasure. I never used to drink tea or coffee either, so I had no hot drinks! I’ve since discovered Chai, so would take some of that, too!
Is there anything I wish I took, but didn’t?
Hot chocolate/tea and more food, and a proper PILLOW! Oh, and the proper blister bandaids, which we didn’t have in our first aid kit. I would also consider a small, lightweight dress or something to wear around camp. I had filthy hiking clothes or thermals, nothing in between.
Is there anything I took, that I wouldn’t take next time?
Not reeeally. Probably my camera filters and book (would just load up on e-books). Not so many torches and spare batteries etc. We also didn’t need the extra Jetboil pot as the little one that comes standard was big enough. I have also since culled my first aid kit a bit, as we had multiple of many items and it was probably a bit unnecessary.
What am I glad I took?
Definitely my camera, and both lenses, even though it was noticeably heavy. Also, my hiking poles were a lifesaver and I’m not sure I’d have survived without them!! I’m glad I took my journal, even though I had considered taking it out before we left.
Which day was the hardest?
It was all pretty hard for me, to be honest. Not impossibly hard, but every day pushes me out of my comfort zone, mentally and physically.
Day one was long, steep and heavy. I had done some pack training, but not heaps. I was in good spirits, though. I did feel hot spots starting on my feet, and by the time we finally reached camp I collapsed, exhausted. My pack was rubbing on my shoulders, which improved when I came up with the idea of stuffing my gloves under the straps.
Day two I don’t recall as being particularly difficult, at least not compared to day one!
Day three was easier. I was a bit more used to my pack, and even though it was a long day, the terrain didn’t seem quite as tough as some of the others.
Day four was mountain day, which of course presents its challenges, but it can’t have been too bad, because we did a side trip up an extra mountain!
Day five was probably the hardest, physically. I did okay until we got to the ridge climb towards the end. It felt like it would NEVER end. On the way back down my legs were so incredibly fatigued, it took everything I had to plod along slowly to make it to camp. Apparently it was quite an amusing sight…(as seen in the following video hubby took in efforts to cheer me up).
Day six was a breeze in comparison, and Luke tells me I found another gear. It must have been the lure of the finish line and the promise of a good feed! We got the ferry back, although I feel like I’ve got unfinished business now, and would have loved to walk the last leg along Lake St Clair, but we were restricted with time.
We then celebrated with fish and chips/burger and milkshake/coffee before heading back to Cradle Mountain where the grandparents and kids had been staying.
What were the highlights?
There were so many! The wildlife (especially our first time seeing wombats, echidnas and snakes in the wild), the amazing flowers and plants, the epic views, the people…
The wildness of the landscape, being out there, away from the modern, busy world and the to-do list.
Drinking straight from an icy cold waterfall (otherwise drank only treated water, just in case – but it was the most delicious water ever). Then sitting in the creek with the water washing over me!
The fact that there was little to no rubbish, and that the human footprint was minimal (which I believe is incredibly important). We were very conscious of packing out all our rubbish and staying on the track, as well as keeping back from wildlife and not feeding or touching them.
The chance to spend time as a couple, not “Mum and Dad.
I think more than anything, though, it was the incredible sense of personal accomplishment and strength I gained through it. The fact that I went out and did something so huge, for myself, helped me unpack and break through a lot of limiting beliefs that I’ve subconsciously held tight for so long.
I came out of the six days with more clarity of what I want from this one beautiful life, a stronger sense of self, a deep appreciation of our world and my place in it, and more love towards myself and my body.
The Overland Track has been a big part of the transformation I’ve been undergoing since we hit the road seven months ago. It is a process, and there is still a way to go, but I can feel the shifts happening within, as I shed the burdens of long-held beliefs that do not serve me, and learn to trade “stuff” and “busy-ness” for meaningful moments, contentment and joy.
I feel like my next step is to go solo. To be truly alone, for even just a few days.
I don’t want to do life on my own. I think that too often, we are all encouraged to carry the load alone. We are detached, from each other, from the earth, and even from ourselves. As a society, we are encouraged to be “busy” whether we want to be or not. The opposite of being seems not to be content, but lazy. I believe in the “village,” in sharing the load, and that many hands make light work. But somehow, it feels important for me to spend some time alone, as a way of learning to let go and ALLOW others to take some of the load (while still knowing that I am capable) and to stop being BUSY.
I’m thinking maybe the Northern Territory will do just fine for that!
Here’s a few more photos from our epic six day adventure!