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Wanna go see whale rock?

What’s that?

A rock that looks like a whale. 

OK. 

While the rain held, we went off in search of whale rock. The online guide listed the usual safety precautions – water, clothing, maps. Even bush on the edges of suburbia can be dangerous. 

We walked into the bush, down a wide, cement roadway, big enough for firefighting trucks. At the bottom of a slope we could see directional signs. None listed the sought-for whale rock. “I wonder which way we need to go?” I asked Mr S. As I spoke, I turned and there was whale rock. 


For size comparison, here is s shot with a disguised Mr S (though I admit there’s not a lot of hiding one can do in a hippy tie-dyed shirt).


Definitely worth the 5 minute walk from the road! Yes, that quick. Why all the safety advice? Ridiculous! WHS gone mad. Anyway that wasn’t enough of a walk, so we ventured in further. Because of all the rain we had (thanks Cyclone Debbie) the creek was over the path. At the first flooded crossing we debated: should we turn back or just walk through? “Ah fuck it. Let’s just walk through it.” So we did. Several times on the way into the bush. And on the way back. 

At least the water was running which meant we wouldn’t get leeches. Unlike our walk the day before!

A couple of weeks earlier we had gone in search of our secret waterfall in another part of the same national park. But we were thwarted by the rain which turned a track into a pond. 

With still water and boggy ground all around, we were in leech territory. In that brief walk I scored two leeches but they mistakenly suckered onto my shoes. Mr S, who’d ventured further and made it to the waterfall, did his bit for wildlife rescue and fed a few leeches. 

A week later, and the day before Whale Rock, we went off to the waterfall again. Stocked with necessary supplies – a stash of salt to battle the leeches – my friend and I lady-stepped over the water-logged paths while Mr S schtomped through. And ended up to his knees in logs and twigs and leaves which had been washed into a pile that Mr S thought was a solid pathway. 

It doesn’t look clearer than the above shot but trust me, the path was now passable.


Mr S made a hasty recovery. We all made it to the waterfall. Our party of three in tact. 

Hard to believe that these are all within 15 minute drive from our home. (This is the designated comfort zone prescribed by my friend and endorsed by Mr S.)

At the outer reach of the 15 minute zone, is Fagan Park, developed on an old orchard site. We visited here one day in the last two months. While most people clustered around the children’s playground and the interesting “gardens of the world”, Mr S and I picnicked at the old homestead which was open for its only Sunday of the month. Maybe Mr S and I are unusual but we love old places. The homestead a host of farm sheds used for fruit packing and equipment all full of objects from the early settlement, many lovingly restored. The water pumps work. The gardens are peaceful. The actual home has been furnished from the period. 

One of the volunteers was a 90 year old whose extended family owned the farm before donating it to the council for a public park. She recalled not being allowed in the main house as a child, being forced to stay in the separate kitchen with her brother. What a connection! To talk with someone who still volunteered and worked in the garden that she played in as a child. 

Picnicking under the she oaks

Mr S impressed with the working water pump

Room of one of the single farm labourers from early last century. Vastly different from the main home.

Tractor shed

Walking into the homestead site


There weren’t many days with skies as blue as this, so we were doubly lucky to chance upon the monthly open day of the homestead. 

Still, there’s a beauty in the rain as the drops on this she oak show. This was taken in my usual lap around “the block” that passes through the edge of the national park. 



There’s a peacefulness in walking on a known path. You don’t have to concentrate and your mind can wander. You can’t think about other things. Conversely, there’s a mindfulness in walking in the new and unknown. You have to concentrate on the path, you are continually looking at the new sights, your mind is processing all the new information. This means you cannot be thinking of all the humdrum of life, you can’t be planning and strategising and going over things and conversations. This is especially true when the path is a rough bush track. 

Both types of walks are good for the mind and soul. As well as the body. And fun as well!

Camping out

Mr S was inspired by Fiona’s posts and photos on camping at Cockatoo Island that he said we have to start camping again. 

So many people have commented that they didn’t think camping was me. Even a cousin responded to Facebook photos that it looked I was having a change of life. We actually have done camping in different forms before. I’ve even done a four day hike into the wilderness. In our pre-kid life we camped for weeks, sleeping in the back of Mr S’s panel van. (No stickers of the crass kind, before you ask.)

Anyway we only went an hour or so north from home. A National Park by the sea. And we only camped out for two nights. Not really roughing it when you can walk to a town with gourmet food stores and coffee shops and a bottle shop. 



Still, it was peaceful. Away from Sydney traffic and pollution. Away from household tasks demanding attention or skilful ignoring and procrastination. The sound of waves. The glorious sun set. The full moon rising.

The moon was so bright and the sky clear, that I didn’t need a torch to visit the loo


Mr S bought a new tent. His criteria is you must be able to stand up in a tent. Which is great for getting dressed, stretching, sitting comfortably, especially in the rain. And you can stay in longer in the morning. In tents you have to crawl into, as soon as the sun is up, it is hot and stuffy inside. 

The new tent is a six man tent. For two. But see we take camp stretchers. So there is really only room for us two. The tent has two verandahs built into the fly. We kept one up and put the gas stove there. There are also two side rooms in the fly. We stashed our esky and stuff. On the second morning, when it was raining, Mr S set up the dining room there. (I ate breakfast in bed.) 

Yes, we camp in style of which  Poirot would be proud. No bodies or mysteries to solve. And no one to turn down our sheets. 😦


Without electric light and television, I got sleepy quite early and fell asleep instantly. 

We did a six kilometre walk along the coast. The walk is a mixture of board walk along cliffs, sand, steps and bush track. Sweeping vistas of the sea, boiling waves, amazing rock formations, and unexpectedly for this time of year, a variety of wild flowers. It rained on our return trip which brought different sounds alive – the birds definitely enjoyed the rain. 

(Confession: following photos are taken from the Internet. Some from the Narional Parks Service website on Bouddi National Park and some from blogs. I didn’t take my camera on the walk but knew there’d be plenty of shots on the web. If perchance one of these is yours and you want it cited or removed, let me know.)

Australia – the land of deadly animals

Snakes, spiders, sharks, crocs. We have them all. And to outsiders we maintain, naay relish in, an air of nonchalance in our acceptance of these things. In fact we revel in our apparent disregard of them. 

Danger?  I laugh in the face of danger. 

Except not really. 

 On a recent bushwalk with a friend in our suburb, we faced a new creature. Our screams, well my screams, were ear-piercing. 

The  fear and terror of its massive claws cannot be underestimated. It barred our way across a creek. 

Behold what stopped my friend and me in our tracks. 

  
The three billy goats gruff did not face a meaner guardian of the crossing. 

Perhaps our fear was compounded by the novelty of seeing a yabbie in our suburban creek? First one I’ve  seen in greater Sydney. 

Now to calm your beating heart, here’s some flowers we saw along the track. 

  
And to make you smile at the unusual beauty of the bush, here’s some shots of Scribbly gums. They always make me smile. Such a fun tree. All that childish scribble.  

  
 

Step back into Steptember

With all my travelling and iPad difficulties and general busyness, I realise I haven’t updated you all on my Steptember.

Now I know you’ve all been waiting to cheer me on with my success but thought maybe I’d let this little goal slide (like the Year of the Garden) and you were all too polite to bring the topic up, lest I have to say, “Oh, I just couldn’t keep it up. Work. Stuff. Busyness. Life. You know!”

Well, don’t worry. I walked and walked and stepped and stepped.

I am actually quite chuffed with the steps I took. My target was 10,000 steps a day but would be very happy if I made it to 8,000. I made it to 10,000 steps on 12 out of the 30 days, and I broke 8,000 steps on 24 of the days. One day I was really sick and spent the day in bed. No prizes for guessing what day that was from the graph. My daily average was 9,745 steps. As this little graph shows, with my highest stepping day in a pop-out.

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Cute graph, hey?

I didn’t monitor my sleep. Now, that would make you cry. And tell me to get some more.

Nearly half way through October, but I will share my goal for that month soon. (And I’m still stepping out!)

Yay for the Fitbit!!!

Fitbitting for the Technologically Challenged

So, I’ve worked out (with help from Fiona and from a colleague at work) that you can do a screen shot on an iPad.

And the belittling response from my eldest offspring? “Will I be as hopeless with technology when I am your age?”

But I digress. This is about Steptember. Here is the graph of my daily stepping out for the past week as recorded by my Purposeful Thing.

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You can see the two green days – I reached my goal of 10,000 steps. And it calculates my average. Even shows it with the dashed line. If I touch any of the columns, the exact number of steps are displayed.

(And for those interested in a Purposeful Thing of their own, you can change steps to calories, distance or active minutes. Groovy, hey?)

And the PT tracks sleep. Last night I didn’t sleep well. I kept waking up and felt a little unwell. So what does that look like?

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A less restless night (but bad in its own way for how late I went to bed) looks like this:

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Yes, you can tell if you’re tired in the morning, that you didn’t sleep well. But it is interesting to see what it looks like. Don’t know if I can do much about it! Except it is making me more conscious of getting to bed on time (so much so that if I go to bed too late I don’t switch my Purposeful Thing to monitoring sleep mode.) And you can fool the thing by staying still. One night I couldn’t sleep so I got up, and lay very still on the lounge. The PT thought I had fallen back to sleep. But all in all, I’m a convert, with the zealotry of a convert.

Sorry if my photos are too big but with the upgrade of my iPad, I can’t work out how to resize images from my iPad into WordPress. Win some, lose some when it comes to technology. Look I called my iPod a Walkman today. Don’t expect too much from me.

Steptember – Week 1.

There’s been a cycle in my journey to health and fitness. I start a program of exercise, keen and eager, and then, well, umm, it kinda tails off.

So right now I’m in the up cycle. My Fitbit has given my walking a little boost.

Love the instant feedback. Love the motivation with the flashing lights. Love the graphs. Love how my iPad gets the data from somewhere. (Don’t love how I can’t save the graph as a picture so I can post it here. 😦 And don’t love how I can’t upload graphs straight to WordPress. I was wong on that little matter.

My Week 1 daily average is 9,579. Just short of my goal of 10,000. But better than the weeks before when I first got the Fitbit and my goal was 8,000. (I kept quiet lest the gadget was a dud or I didn’t stick with it.)

Monday: 11,605
Tuesday: 9,671
Wednesday: 10,263
Thursday: 8,749
Friday: 7,612
Saturday: 8,383
Sunday: 10,773

Key to getting my goal: going for a walk AND doing lots of incidental walking during the day. Walk to the printer. Walk around work. Walk to speak with people rather than phone or email.

Either on their own is not sufficient to reach the goal. So free hint: get your incidental walking up. It’s good for you. And if you can’t go for a walk (too dark, too cold, too wet, uneven footpaths and low branches make it too dangerous) the steps taken for incidental walking all count!

Stepping out in Steptember

You know how I like alliteration or a play on the name of the month to tie in with my goals? Well, here I was thinking I’d been slightly original.

Let me preface my tale of minimal disappointment with my latest toy.

A couple of weeks ago I got one of these:

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Where, how, how cheaply are details for another time.

Oh, what is it you ask? This little black strap is a Fitbit. It measures my steps and sleep. (I’ll write about sleep tracking another time too.) Data is synced with my computer and uploads to some cloud somewhere and then automatically/immediately/scarily goes to my iPad – by email, by message and on the app.

Ok, ok, I’ve had other gadgets before. A GPS watch thingy with a heart rate monitor, and a plain pedometre. And I loved each initially but soon dropped them. The heart rare strap was annoying and restrictive and the GPS always took too long to find satellites. And the pedometre’s battery went flat. I had discarded it earlier as I didn’t like the way it clipped on.

So then I got this one. And I have all the fervour of a new convert. I love my fit bit.

Apparently “they” say you are meant to do 10,000 steps. Don’t know who they are because my problem is trying to get my head around the number of steps. For the past two weeks my goal had been 8,000 steps. Most times I achieved my goal, it has been a conscious effort. Occasionally I achieved or exceeded the goal without a deliberate plan, just did a lot of walking. What I’ve realised is how sedentary my life is. If I don’t make an effort, I don’t even get to 8,000 steps. Last Saturday, for example, I only got to 2,677 steps. Drive to hairdressers, sister-in-law’s place for lunch, post-lunch nap and then off to a work event meant I had no time to go for a walk.

Anyway I thought I would try for 10,000 steps in September. It will be a challenge. One to which I will rise.

Which brings me to my mild disappointment. I was going to call it Steptember. But, of course, I find I am not original. And in the era of every charity having a gimmick, one charity has taken on Steptember. So if I say I am doing Steptember, people will think I am doing the charity thing. I’m not. I just like giving my goals and plans a name. So then I will have to explain that I am not walking for charity, just for my health.

So does anyone want to join me and track their walking in Steptember? Apparently this groovy little ting also uploads to WordPress. More scary tracking things!