South Coast Track
A 94 km walk over two mountain ranges in one of the most isolated and inaccessible places on the planet for a good time? Why not!
We're about to fly from Hobart into the World Heritage Area that is the south-west of Tasmania. The pilot walks out onto the tarmac and starts spinning the propeller to prime the engines – or he's winding up the rubber bands. It's not a big plane. The packs have to be loaded just right and I have to swap seats with my girlfriend to balance the plane.
When you land at Melaleuca to start the South Coast Track something is different to the world you left.
All four of us had different theories on what this phenomenon was, but ultimately all our ideas boiled down to the fact that the rest of the world is uncontactable and that here you are on your own in the most complete definition of the term. This is not an easy thing to achieve in this day and age.
In 10 days, I saw 4% of the world's swift parrot population – two birds.
I have seen a million beaches but none like any of the six we walked along.
I found a sperm whale tooth.
I had a shower in a waterfall on a beach in 30 knots of wind and my nipples could have cut diamonds.
I fell into mud and sunk up to my chest but still didn't find the bottom of the bog.
I got a leech on my neck. Apart from my friends I saw three other people and we were all wonderful because we all wanted to be.
I discovered that two hours up a mountain has no relevance to how long it takes to get down the other side. I learned that my girlfriend has strength in abundance.
I discovered that the tune Born Free and the sound track to the Sound of Music are burned into my psyche.
I know that it hurts to walk on tree roots for three days, that cartilage in your knee is a good thing and that there's a good reason to put on clean underwear every day if you have the chance.
I grasped a new definition of ownership and didn't need a beer.
I experienced real fatigue, survived and am stronger for it. I smelt worse than I ever thought I could.
There is something undeniably cleansing and strengthening about isolation.