Wild is Australia's longest running outdoor adventure magazine, with specialist content providing coverage and education for bushwalkers, backcountry and nordic skiiers, climbers, mountaineers and paddlers.
Lighting in the great outdoors has historically been a case of owning a stable of illuminating devices and then choosing one, or several, to take out with you on each trip depending on the outing at hand. A head lamp. A camera flash. A bike light. A multi-purpose hand-held torch. But in recent years that’s changed, a by-product of the surging popularity of digital videography. Videography—at amateur, prosumer, and pro-levels—made it apparent there was a need for an ultra-lightweight, constant-beam light source suitable for taking into the field. In response, in 2016 Litra (pronounced “light-tra”) launched its Litra Torch as a Kickstarter campaign.
The unit was originally designed as a video and DSLR camera attachment. But then, (and I can’t resist this) the light switched on (ha ha). What worked for video would actually work for a range of uses, as long as the unit was sufficiently modular. The company set about producing varied mounts, so that now the Litra Torch can not only be used for its originally intended purpose as a lightweight source of illumination for video, but then, given a different mount, it can function as a head lamp, a hand torch, a bike lamp or a portable work lantern. For outdoor photographers it can replace a camera flash (it’s waaay lighter than your average DSLR flash) and then, if on an overnighter, double up for use as a head lamp. It can be placed on a tripod, mounted to GoPros, mobile phones, even to drones. The magnetic function means it can be placed on a car while, for example, putting on snow chains at night. It can even be for used diving (as long as you don’t go too deep).
The platform on which this relies is the Litra Torch base unit. The roughly cube-shaped unit (38mm x 38mm x 42mm) is constructed of aluminium, and weighs just 90 grams. Don’t let that featherweight-ness fool you, though. It’s not fragile, and it meets MIL SPEC 810G (a multi-test process to test ruggedness developed by the US military). Litra claim the torch is waterproof to ten metres (I’ve not tested this claim, although I did have it turned for 30 minutes in a glass of water with no problems). The unit includes two standard ¼”-20 threaded camera mounts (top and back) and the unit’s back is magnetised strongly enough to stay firmly on any metal surface. The torch is charged using a micro-USB cable and can be recharged while turned on. A full recharge takes around four hours.
However, the Litra Torch’s most impressive feature is the actual light. It’s incredibly bright, especially for something this diminutive. It’s simple to use, too. A single one-touch button delivers four modes: ‘Low’, ‘Medium’, ‘High’ and ‘Strobe’. At ‘Low’, the eight LEDs give 100 lumens for four hours; ‘Medium’ delivers 450 lumens for 70 minutes; ‘High’ blasts a retina-searing 800 lumens for 35 minutes; and on ‘Strobe’ a massive 2200 lumens flash for seven hours. For photographers and videographers, the LEDs provide flicker-free lighting (no hotspots), and the beam angle matches the human eye (i.e. it’s wide-angle rather than focused).
On the downside, battery life is somewhat limiting. Even on ‘Low’, having just four hours of burn time will restrict the activities the torch can be used for. Another potential downside is that the wide-angle beam, while useful in specific circumstances, doesn’t provide the same focused beam distance of many other lights. The unit gets warm, too, even after only short periods of use. Lastly, and this isn’t necessarily a drawback—in many instances it’s actually a plus—rather than the light getting dimmer as the battery drains, the torch simply turns off. The advantage is that you’re always receiving maximum brightness. The downside is reduced battery life. There’s a workaround, though: If the torch dies after running on a more powerful mode, simply turn it back on and select a lower mode. Fortunately, a red/green LED provides a few minutes warning when the battery is low.
I’ve already mentioned many of the Litra Torch’s uses, but two accessories I particularly like are the Litra Hand Mount and Litra Handle. Also, the unit’s utility for photography/videography can be further extended when it’s paired with silicon light diffusers and coloured filters, which can break up light, or provide colour balance and variation. Belt clips and varying camera mounts are also available. And it’s been designed to quickly and easily be interchanged with existing GoPro add-ons.
While the Litra Torch does have some limitations (battery life and beam distance), as an all-purpose light source, the Litra Torch is probably brighter than any equivalent-sized light out there. Small, highly versatile and incredibly functional (especially when mounted to a camera), the Litra Torch is a winner.
Adventure travel specialist, World Expeditions, has joined the Coalition for Ethical Wildlife Tourism, to play its part in ending the suffering of wildlife for the entertainment of tourists.
The move is the newest in the company’s ongoing drive to deliver ethical wildlife experiences across its product range, following on from the 2014 removal of elephant rides from its program and the 2015 release of its industry-leading Animal Welfare Code of Conduct.
The Coalition’s main objectives are to demonstrate a strong demand and support for venues considering becoming Elephant-Friendly (observation only) and for those which already are and, secondly, to drive industry standards and government policies and legislation that better protect the welfare of animals and preservation of wildlife through tourism.
According to World Expeditions Responsible Travel Manager, Donna Lawrence, the travel industry has the potential to influence demand for wildlife entertainment by removing support of venues which treat their animals cruelly and supporting those venues that meet animal welfare standards.
”We believe we can be most effective when we partner with organisations which have the expertise to advise us on industry best practice,” Ms Lawrence said.
“Our animal welfare policy was developed in conjunction with World Animal Protection and our acceptance into the Coalition for Ethical Wildlife Tourism is a result of our collaboration with them,” she said. “More than 500,000 wild animals worldwide, including elephants, sloths, tigers and dolphins, are suffering for tourist entertainment, with unwitting tourists visiting facilities which keep these animals in captivity.”
As well as World Animal Protection, World Expeditions collaborates with other expert organisations to develop its industry leading responsible travel practices and policies. Partner organizations include ReThink Orphanages, 10 Pieces, South Pole, Leave No Trace, and the International Institute of Peace through Tourism.
World Expeditions’ sustainable travel practices are explained in its ’Thoughtful Traveller Guidebook’, which is available to download for free here
In 2010, Ian Rosenberger (fun fact, Ian also finished 3rd in 2005 Survivor Palau, and was a dolphin trainer at the time) visited Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake.He went to help, and while there he met a young man named Tassy who had a cancerous facial tumour and needed surgery to survive. Rosenberger set work, raised the necessary $50,000, brought Tassy to the US, and in short, saved his life.
“I realized that unless we stuck with Tassy until he didn’t need us anymore, this was all just a self-congratulatory exercise. That begged the question: What did it mean for him not to need us anymore?”
He spent a year or so trying to figure that question out. He realised he should provide jobs. It wasn’t just the money they needed; it was dignity, too. But Haiti was resource-poor, and work was hard to come by. Then he had a realisation, one that stemmed from an entry he made in his journal during that first trip: “If Haiti can turn trash into $ = good.” He realised that all the discarded plastic bottles that otherwise littered the streets were in fact a resource.
He founded Thread International, a company that now pays locals to take empty bottles to a collection centre where they are de-labelled and sorted and placed into collection sacks. They’re then taken to a Haitian-run manufacturing plant, where they’re cleaned and processed into plastic ‘flake’, and then those flakes are processed into yarn. That’s where Marmot comes in; they buy the yarn from Thread to create their ‘Marmot x Thread Collection’ line of T-shirts.
Each T-shirt is 50% recycled polyester. That’s 2.25 plastic bottles per shirt. The other 50% is reclaimed cotton. Marmot’s thread tees have helped create 417 jobs in Haiti, but the shirts have less environmental impact, too. The use of pesticides is reduced, carbon emissions are cut by roughly 300 grams, and water usage is decreased by approximately 435 litres (a 50% reduction compared to an ordinary cotton T-shirt).
And the T-shirts don’t just make you feel good ethically,they just feel good period. They’re super-soft.And the recycled polyester means they dry quickly. Look for them in Anaconda and other retailers around the country.
It was the middle of September when my wife and I found ourselves at the base of the Mt Brown Hut trail in New Zealand’s majestic south island. It was our third day in New Zealand and the sun was yet to make an appearance. We had been met in Christchurch by storm clouds rolling in from the south, and the following day heralded the worst snow storm in 15 years.
This made for a slow start, but once the storm began to show the first signs of lifting we eagerly packed our bags and set out.
As is the case for many photographers, New Zealand had been on my bucket list for longer than I can remember, and coming from tropical Cairns the stark contrast was a welcome one. Rainforest clad hills were replaced with towering alpine vistas, and scorching beaches with turquoise glacial lakes. The idea behind the trip was simple. Take the time to properly explore the places that tour buses don’t bother with. Sure, it was a risk. There was always a chance we would find nothing worth the journey. However, if we could leave with just one unique story to tell, just one photo which hadn’t been taken before, it would all have been worth the effort. As we found out, the risk was well worth the reward.
So, with our backpacks filled with food, water, warm clothing and of course, copious amounts of camera equipment, we began the climb. The first hour was one of constant amazement. Moss covered trees dripped with early morning dew lit by dappled light filtered through the canopy above. It felt like a movie set.
Then came the torture. A staggering 300 metre ascent over only 500 metres on the map. The path was little more than a muddy goat-trail, held together by ancient root systems providing little more than an occasional trustworthy handhold. This 500 metres alone took us over 3 hours. Every foothold had to be tested before being trusted and the lightly falling rain made even the most approachable pieces of the track slippery with fresh mud. The mountain seemed to go on forever. Every tree looked like the one before, and behind us all we could see was an unyielding blanket of grey cloud. Painfully slowly, and then all at once, we were out of the tree-line, the uneven ground now covered by thick tundra. By this time the cloud was so thick I could feel it’s moisture in my nose and mouth with every laboured breath. This new terrain continued for what felt like forever, sloping gently upwards into the white mist above.
At long last, as we rounded one final hillock, we were greeted by the first glimpse of our destination. Squat and bright orange, the Mt Brown Hut sat nestled in a cloud filled valley. The hut was a small one, containing only four thin mattresses resting on bunk beds bolted
to the walls, a tiny wood stove and two simple wooden stools. As we entered the orange shelter we both released a sigh of relief. Nothing had ever looked so welcoming.
As the afternoon wore on we were given fleeting glimpses of the towering mountains peaks surrounding our tiny abode. Within minutes, however, they would disappear once more into the ever-changing blanket of cloud. It was as if they were teasing us. I’ll admit, I had all but given up on a beautiful mountain-top sunset, and had settled into the hut’s comfortable warmth, not planning to venture outside again until morning. Already in my mind I was playing over plans to make the most out of the rest of our trip. But then, as if by magic, the blanket of cloud thinned just enough to reveal a faint golden glow on the horizon far below. In a matter of minutes an ever deepening shade of yellow and orange crept across the sky.
By the time I had rushed to grab my camera the whole sky was awash with an ever strengthening orange glow. It was magnificent. Truly magnificent. I’ve photographed more sunsets than I can remember, but this one topped them all. Usually at times like this I am completely unable to contain my excitement, photographing every idea that comes to mind. This was strangely different. I was filled with an unknown peace, and my whole self was completely gripped by the unpredicted display. As if by an inaudible command, the darkening orange sky played its final card, flooding the whole valley below in a brilliant purple display. If I was awestruck before, I was now completely speechless.
Just as the sun was about to dip beneath the horizon, the faint silhouette of Lake Kaniere made its appearance 1000 meters below. This was the starting place of our hike, and for the first time we could see just how far we had come.
As a photographer, there are times where you know you’ve captured something special. This was one of them. I couldn’t get the image out of my mind. I fell asleep with the unearthly display still etched on the inside of my eyelids. The following morning was as different to the night before as could be imagined. I had only seen a handful of photos of the area surrounding Mt Brown Hut before our trip, and nothing had prepared me for the staggering view that greeted me. During the night the cloud had continued to lift and only scattered wisps were left hanging far above us. For the second time in 12 hours, I was completely taken aback. Hitherto unseen mountain tops surrounded us on all sides with the last snow of the season clinging onto the highest peaks. Shafts of brilliant morning light cut across the mountains, slowly melting the sparkling frost scattered beneath the peaks. At long last, and with hundreds of photos captured, we descended the mountain, ready to continue our adventure.
Although it is certainly worth the effort, this article is not a call to visit the Mt Brown hut. This article is a reminder of the fact that there are more beautiful places in this world than we can possibly imagine. The ones we’ve seen in photos may be the most remarkable,
but they are by no means the most memorable. The unforeseen, the unexpected and the unique is what leaves us with a story to tell.
To me the Mt Brown Hut represents the risk of the unpredictable, but also its potential reward.
Olegas Truchanas was a Lithuanian born Tasmanian wilderness explorer and photographer. Olegas was one of the first Europeans to explore deep into Tasmania’s South-West region. His solo journeys and the stories and photos from these explorations have become part of Tasmanian folk history.
Olegas in Kayak – Truchanas Family Collection
Olegas grew up in Lithuania in the 1930s, and was no stranger to hardship, having fought with the Lithuanian Resistance Movement during World War II. When the USSR occupied Lithuania after the war, he was one thousands of youths who left the country, migrating to Germany where he studied Law and the University of Munich. While Olegas always intended to return to his motherland, this never eventuated and in 1948 he migrated to Tasmania.
Like many before him, he sought solace in nature and found himself venturing deeper and deeper into the unexplored wilderness of the South-West.
In 1954, Olegas attempted an audacious trip, to paddle northwest from Lake Pedder to Macquarie Harbour. Using a specially built canvas kayak, Olegas would follow the course of the Serpentine-Gordon Rivers, out to the west coast of Tasmania.
Lake Pedder from Frankland Range – David Neilson
The original Lake Pedder had a wide and open quartzite beach on which light aircraft could land. Olegas was flown in with all of his gear, including about three weeks of rations, and the kayak, which he had designed and built himself. Travelling across the Lake and the upper Serpentine River went according to plan, but he then ran into trouble.
During the descent into the steep Serpentine Gorge, just before the Serpentine’s confluence with the Gordon River, torrential rain and rising waters made his craft difficult to manage. He got washed over a waterfall. He lost his kayak and most of his gear with it, including his pants. He saved one bag that contained his sleeping bag, tent, camera and his book – A.C Garrard’s The Worst Journey in the World. He had to find his way back to Lake Pedder on foot.
With no trousers, Olegas had only his japara jacket to provide any sort of protection. So he stepped through the arms and tied the rest of the jacket around his waist with a piece of string. In this fashion, he trekked back to Lake Pedder – a journey of many days – where he was lucky to find Lloyd Jones with his light aircraft parked on the beach. Olegas was back in Hobart that afternoon.
Surface of Lake Pedder – Graham Wooton
Olegas waited three years before he made his second attempt. He learned from his previous experience and disassembled his kayak for portages through difficult sections. He was also equipped with his new twin blade aluminium paddle which helped him negotiate the rapids. At times he had to dismantle his kayak to climb the canyon walls and shuffle loads– first with pack, then with the kayak. He eventually reached Macquarie Habour, becoming the first person to ever navigate the Serpentine-Gordon Rivers. He presented memorable slides of his journeys to Hobart audiences. With his stories, he awakened love and respect for the rugged beauty of South-West Tasmania, which previously was known only as the ‘empty quarter’. What he didn’t know was that only a few years later, the course of these wild rivers would be altered and Lake Pedder would be transformed to become a water impoundment for a hydro-electric power scheme.
Overcast weather over Lake Pedder – Elspeth Vaughan
In 1964, there was an exploratory road bulldozed into the South-West, as part of the Hydro Electric Commission’s Gordon Power Scheme. A year later, Premier Eric Reece announced plans for the ‘modification’ of Lake Pedder National Park (declared in 1955). Despite public outcries, the Tasmanian government revoked the status of this National Park in 1967, to allow for the hydroelectric development proposed by Tasmania’s Hydro Electric Commission.
Olegas understood the value of what would be lost with flooding Lake Pedder. A beautiful and unique lake was about to disappear. He understood the value of the experience that would be lost to future generations of people. He made plans to show the Tasmanian public what they were about to lose.
With help from a friend, Ralph Hope-Johnstone, Olegas organised audio-visual presentations to be shown at the Hobart Town Hall and other places around Tasmania. The Lake’s beauty and rugged charm captured people’s imagination, and to some it became unthinkable that this splendid beauty could be destroyed in the name of progress.
The movement to prevent the flooding of Lake Pedder gained momentum, and in the early 1970s, thousands of people visited the lake before it was set to disappear. But at this point in Tasmania’s history there was no stopping the HEC and construction of the dams went ahead as planned. In 1972 Lake Pedder’s beach was submerged.
At this stage of his life, Olegas had become an admired conservationist. In addition to this Lake Pedder activism, Olegas also fought to help permanently protect a stand of Huon Pines by the Denison River. In this, he was successful and the Truchanas Huon Pine Forest stands protected to this day. He was often called on to make public presentations where he would share stories of his trips and his photographs. In November, 1971, at the opening of an exhibition themed on Lake Pedder, Olegas delivered a plea for the conservation of the natural world.
“Is there any reason why Tasmania should not be more beautiful on the day we leave it, than on the day we came?… If we can revise our attitudes towards the land under our feet; if we can accept a role of steward and depart from the role of the conqueror, if we can accept that man and nature are inseparable parts of the unified whole, then Tasmania can be a shining beacon in a dull, uniform and largely artificial world.”
Portrait of Olegas – Ralph Hope-Johnstone
In 1967, Tasmania was scorched by raging bushfires. Olegas and his family lost their home to the fires. Fourteen years of photographic slides was burned to ash.
In 1972 with the HEC’S next phase of the Gordon Power Scheme imminent, Olegas decided to paddle the mighty Gordon River one last time, to recapture the river’s wild beauty before it too, was flooded. This trip would turn out to be Olegas’ last. As he stepped out of his kayak to make a landing he slipped on a rock. He was washed down a waterfall and disappeared. His death was witnessed by a young Kevin Kiernan, who put the call out for a search to commence. Olegas’ body was found later.
Olegas had drowned in the river he sought to save.
Ten years later, a powerful environmental movement inspired by the loss of Lake Pedder prevented a tributary of the Gordon, – the Franklin River – from being flooded.
Written by: Andy Szollosi, Hobart, April 2019
A special thanks to Melva Truchanas for collaborating on this article.
There are times in our lives when momentous events occur and you remember where you were and how you felt at the time and the feeling never leaves you. I was an eighteen year old University student when I learned that the Tasmanian Government had approved the drowning of Lake Pedder, the globally renowned jewel of our South West Wilderness. I couldn’t believe it would disappear under the impoundment created by the damming of the Gordon, Serpentine and upper Huon Rivers, but it did. I decided then and there that I would never stand by and allow the excesses of hydro industrialisation to destroy our wilderness again and that is why I joined the blockade to save the Franklin River. The flooding of Lake Pedder led to the formation of the world’s first Green party, The United Tasmania Group and inspired a global movement to protect nature. Now is the time for the restoration of Lake Pedder to inspire the world again as a beacon of 21st Century Ecological Restoration.
Lake Pedder is where it all began…
The original Lake Pedder is where it all began… from inspiring formation of the world’s first Green party to fuelling a global movement to protect nature and our planet’s wild places Photograph by Les Southwell from the Frankland Ranges in 1972 – just prior to its flooding
The beauty of the original Lake Pedder, declared a national park in 1955, was an inspiration to a generation of adventurers, conservationists and artists who felt a deep connection with the wild places of Tasmania. From the famed photographers Olegas Truchanas and his protege Peter Dombromvski to the Sunday Painters including Elspeth Hope-Johnstone, Max Angus, Patricia Giles, Harry Buckie to political leaders such as Dick Jones and many that followed him, it was a place to be treasured and defended.
The threat to flood Pedder saw adventurers become activists and politically engaged citizens. The campaigns that followed saw the Franklin River saved and Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area declared and later expanded to incorporate magnificent old growth forests and the valuable wild places that define the Tasmania we know today. The emerging visionary and activist, Petra Kelly, visited Tasmania and saw the achievement of the United Tasmania Group, the world’s first Green Party. Inspired, she returned to Germany and founded the German Greens.
The loss of Pedder divided and polarised the Tasmanian community. It pitched a battle over the false paradigm of conservation versus growth, of “greenies” versus jobs and profit. It was a moment where the Government of the day took a decision against the pleas of the community from left and right, young and old, and against the recommendations of scientists and international bodies. Michael Hodgman (father of the current Premier of Tasmania and then MLC) presented a petition by 184 scientists to the Legislative Council urging postponement of the flooding.
The day has come…
The day has come to Restore Pedder!
The singular pursuit of economic growth and domination of nature has led to the collapse of ecosystems, accelerated species loss, and caused climate changes and global warming to the point where we are tracking toward ecological collapse.
Barrister Edward St John (Sydney Liberal MHR, 1974) famously stated in response to the flooding of Lake Pedder, “The day will come when our children will undo what we so foolishly have done.” That day has come.
Our children are rallying together and marching on the streets demanding climate action and protection the precious ecosystems that support life on Earth. It is our children who see the natural interconnection of the impacts of our society on nature and the planet. It is our children who are setting the agenda of this Century to restore and build resilience in Nature so that it can sustain itself and humanity with it.
The campaign to save Lake Pedder in the 1960’s and 70’s inspired a global conservation movement. Its restoration could be the global symbol that we can restore our invaluable ecosystems, degraded landscapes and protect our wild places. It can also be a symbol that our values have changed. That we can live in balance with nature. That we can unite and bridge the divisions in our community and take the large scale action needed to ensure a sustainable future.
Let’s make the summer of 2021-22 another momentous moment in global conservation history. It will be fifty years since the water of the Serpentine impoundment swallowed Lake Pedder and it coincides with the United Nations declaring 2021-2030 the UN Decade for Ecological Restoration. It is time to ‘pull the plug’ on Pedder.
The Lake Pedder Restoration Committee plans to have an Ecological Management Plan to restore the original Lake Pedder and surrounding iconic ecosystems ready to go to Governments by 2021. We need your help to restore this magnificent landscape and to give the world hope that ecological restoration is not a pipe dream but the positive life giving force critical in the face of the extinction and climate emergencies we face.
Join us to provide the symbol of hope we need to inspire global change.
@Restore Pedder is coordinated by the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee Co-Convened by Christine Milne and Todd Dudley, Bob Brown is Secretary and Chris Holliday is Treasurer.
Restore Pedder is supported by: Bob Brown Foundation, Keep Tassie Wild, State Cinema, Tasmanian Conservation Trust, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and The Wilderness Society.
Email: email@example.com for more info.
The challenging Hannels Spur walking track in the NSW Snowy Mountains is now cleared from the base to the top of the spur, opening its full length to adventurous hikers and experienced trail runners. The lower 5.5 kilometres of the trail was cleared by a group of volunteers working with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in March, linking up with work on the upper section of the track completed by the group in 2018.
The 15.5km track, which leads to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko from near Geehi Flat on the Alpine Way, is unique in offering the greatest elevation gain (1800m) of any single walk in Australia. It takes in the entire western fall of the Snowy Mountains, climbing through the full range of vegetation from heavily-forested slopes above the Geehi and Swampy Plain Rivers to sub-alpine and alpine tracts on the top of the Main Range.
The trail is also historic in following the spur ascended by Polish explorer Paul Strzelecki, James McArthur and two Aboriginal guides when Strzelecki became the first European to ascend, and to name, Mt Kosciuszko in 1840.
As previously reported by Wild Australia, including in a feature piece in the September-October 2017 edition of the magazine, the track had almost disappeared as a result of regrowth after the 2003 bushfires and was in danger of being lost.
Following on from last year’s work (during which around 4km and 500 vertical metres of track from Byatts Camp to below Moiras Flat was cleared), the March 2019 work party cleared around 850 vertical metres of trail from the sign at the base of the track southeast of Dr Forbes Hut. The team of seven volunteers, including mountaineer and Wild Australia contributor Tim Macartney-Snape, and a NPWS staffer, based operations at Dr Forbes Hut on the Swampy Plain River. It worked over four days with chainsaws, brush cutters and hand tools to reveal the existing footpad created over decades by cattlemen (in the 1920s and 30s), walkers, and Australian mountaineers in training. Macartney-Snape and several others in the group (including the author) had used the spur in the past as a training walk for climbing expeditions to the Himalayas.
Although the trail is now clear all the way to the top of the spur itself, it is recommended for experienced walkers/trail runners and navigation skills are still required. After the 1350m ascent (approx.) from the base to Byatts Camp, walkers need to follow 3-4km of uncleared footpad through alpine heath above the tree line. This part of the trail – south from Byatts Camp and then east around Abbott Ridge to Wilkinson Creek valley before intersecting with a well-made path between Mueller Peak and Mt Kosciuszko – is marked by occasional stone cairns, but needs to be followed carefully and walkers need to be well-prepared, including for rapidly-changing and severe weather on the main range. A map and compass and/or GPS, an emergency locator beacon (mobile reception is not always possible), good clothing and emergency bivvy gear is highly recommended. If the walk is done over two days rather than one, Moiras Flat at around 1520m in elevation (where water is usually available from a nearby creek) is a logical campsite.
For experienced and adventurous folk up for a challenge, this is an iconic walk, worth it for the challenging ascent and/or descent and still off-the-beaten-track experience.
The completion of the clearing works stands as a testament to carefully-managed cooperation between the NPWS and a well-organised group of volunteers working within established environmental and other guidelines on a priority project in a national park.
All volunteers involved in the project ask that fellow travellers on the spur respect the beauty and fragility of the mountain environment (as well as other walkers) and leave no trace beyond your footprints on the trail.
(Photos: Keith Scott, Andrew Stanger, Tim Macartney-Snape, Ken Baldwin)
 Pre-clearance track notes on Hannels Spur appeared in the September-October 2017 edition of Wild Australia magazine. There is also a description of the route in Snowy Mountains Walks, 2001 (8th edition), Geehi Bushwalking Club.
The Grid GV and Space GV are both designed for light hiking, being a super breathable shoe for all day hiking, overnight trips and walking on mixed trail conditions.
The Grid GV is constructed of a Polyerster and microfiber upper, Gore-Tex® Extended Comfort Footwear lining which is waterproof and breathable. The mono density EVA midsole guarantees the perfect support, comfort and cushioning. Asolo®/Vibram® Megagrip highly technical sole. The balance of the outsole has self-cleaning lugs designed for optimum performance on varying types of terrain. Traditional lacing system. Tpu toe cap.
The Space GV is constructed from a one-piece water-resistant mm 1,4-1,6 suede upper. Gore-Tex® Extended Comfort Footwear lining which is waterproof and breathable. The mono density EVA midsole guarantees the perfect support, comfort and cushioning. Asolo®/Vibram® Megagrip highly technical sole. The balance of the outsole has self-cleaning lugs designed for optimum performance on varying types of terrain. Traditional lacing system. Tpu toe cap.
The first time that I went camping, I was introduced to the somewhat confronting practice of bush toileting in true 1950’s style.
I was faced with a rickety hessian enclosure and inside was a scarily unstable large trench surmounted by a stout stick suspended between two ‘Y’ shaped wobbly supporting sticks. We were instructed to place our juvenile privates on one side of the stout stick and our tiny bottoms on the other side, then to do our business and cover our deposit with a clod of soil or sand. Such shared facilities were referred to as the ‘Latrine’ or the weird acronym: ‘KYBO’ (= Keep your Bowels Open).
Needless to say, the easier option was to ‘put it on hold’ for the rest of the weekend until back home and the comfort and convenience of a stable seat on a flush toilet in a nice shiny tiled private bathroom!
Now, many years older with a much bigger bottom, a little wiser and somewhat more aware, I have engaged in bush toileting in many Australian bush places and in several other countries and am glad to see there is more than one solution to the very basic need to perform these very basic, but essential, human functions.
The traditional and simplest method is to dig a small hole (often called a ‘cat hole’), squat, and leave both your personal deposits and paper deposits in the hole, cover them with soil and then maybe add some leaves so as to neatly disguise the location of your business. Sounds easy but there are a number of options and aspects that should be considered:
Location of your proposed hole: ideally well away from campsites or walking tracks and at least 100m from the nearest watercourse. Also, despite the convenience of good friable soil or sand, avoid all watercourses, even dry ones, because when the inevitable torrent does come downstream it can unearth everything that you so tidily hid and thus contaminate the water. If available, choose a spot with soft moist soil, preferably away from bothersome tree roots, etc. The bacteria necessary for efficient decomposition are generally found only in the top 10 to 30cm of soil and are almost completely absent in arid soils and very slow-working in very cold climates or in cold seasons. The hole needs to be wide enough and deep enough to accommodate your ‘ahem’, deposit. You also need to be out of sight of fellow campers or passersby so that you can just relax and let it all fall out. Now is not the right time to be the object of that old game: ‘Spot the piddler’!
Bush toileting needs to be private when you are standing up as well as when you are squatting down!
Digging implement: take a handy, lightweight orange/green/yellow/blue/black plastic cat-hole trowel or a more sophisticated and stronger steel/aluminium/titanium model. Even a good stick, pointy rock or the heel of your boot can suffice so long as your excavation is to the necessary depth and width. A normal garden shovel or entrenching tool (but not an axe!) would be fine if you are travelling by 4WD.
Three types of bush toilet trowels or cat-hole trowels
Before you squat, think about your clothing. Pants or shorts can be dropped to just around knee level to keep them right out of the firing line. Down around the ankles can be disastrous! So if you find it more convenient (and your location is sufficiently private), clothing below the waist can be removed altogether and placed conveniently aside. Alternatively, loose skirts can be gathered around the waist or decoratively flounced out wide to maintain female modesty.
Squatting on your heels, like many of my Nepalese friends do for hours on end, can be a very painful or unstable position for some Westerners, particularly those of a certain age like me. Carrying and erecting a small folding stool with a standard toilet seat on top can provide the necessary level of comfort and familiarity when you are car-camping but with lightweight camping there are other innovative strategies that might help. Try leaning your back against a rock or log, or even sitting on a narrow log with legs on one side and bum on the other (thus harking back to my traumatised youth!). Or just try holding onto a a low branch or the trunk of a small tree to take some of the weight off your knees. Some people even find that sitting on two rocks that are just the right distance apart to be very productive.
Obviously, you need to position yourself correctly to get the deposit into the hole. Not to worry, any misalignments can be easily corrected if there is a handy stick within reach.
Regardless of whether you are a ‘folder’ or a ‘scruncher’, I would expect your toilet paper (TP) to follow into the hole. Recycled biodegradable paper will decompose more quickly than highly perfumed, embossed, printed and bleached white paper. At all costs, do not use and leave ‘Toilet Wipes’. Even those that are labelled ‘flushable’ have a range of unnecessary biochemicals and have been made to be more durable than standard TP. Some authors will recommend burning the TP which would only be acceptable when there is no fire ban. A better alternative is to pack it out and take it with you, along with any used tampons or sanitary pads. A clip-seal bag inside another bag will be a suitable container — but more of that later! In the unfortunate event that you find yourself without the necessary TP, you can easily (especially when there is no other alternative) resort to the more environmentally conservative practice of using available natural materials such as leaves, sticks, sand, rocks or even gravel. You may want to try this out once or twice before it becomes the only available option!
Once everything has been deposited in the hole, you could just cover it with soil, tamp it down and then sprinkle leaves around to disguise the location. But there is one more thing that you might consider doing to assist the natural composting process. That is, to stir some of the soil into your poo pile before you fill and cover the whole hole! The composting bacteria work best when they are in full contact with the raw material. A handy stick will be an effective stirrer. It is important to finally cover the hole deeply with soil to reduce the likelihood of it being dug up and TP scattered by animals. The deeper the cover, the better.
I have to confess I can see two points of view about the recommendation to disguise your personal and intensely private spot. Clearly, leaving as little trace as possible is a very good thing but if suitable locations are in short supply and other happy campers will be out searching, it might be good to leave (X) crossed sticks standing upright in the ground as a warning that no further digging is recommended just there! Over time the stick will rot or fall over and by then the warning may not be needed.
The final stage of the process is to observe good hygiene practice by washing hands with soap away from any lakes or streams or, as a minimum, use some hand sanitiser solution. You can buy it in small plastic bottles which are light enough to carry when hiking and they can easily be packed together in a bag with your TP and toilet trowel.
‘But surely’ I can hear you say ‘you don’t expect us to dig a hole every time we need to just do a pee?’
‘No I do not’ I reply. As you all would certainly know, there are many differences in Toilet Talk between a Number One and a Number Two.
Now, contrary to popular belief, the urine of healthy people actually does still contain low levels of bacteria, so please think twice about using it for something such as washing a wound in an emergency waterless situation! Letting the wound bleed is a better way to flush out any dirt and it allows the wound to be bathed in good infection-fighting white blood cells.
So, wound washing aside, it is tempting to think that it is OK to pee anywhere in the outdoors because urine is mostly just water and will soak into the soil and leave no trace?
The urine smell can still attract animals that will sometimes dig up the area or eat the plants on which you gaily splashed your pee. It will also, over time, begin to oxidise and, in large concentrations, make a popular pee-spot or campsite very smelly. It will also add unwanted salts to our natural fertiliser-hating Australian vegetation. So the best place to do your pees is on bare rocky or gravelly ground (without mosses, etc that will be killed by urine) or one covered with a thick layer of something like pine needles and to move to a different spot each time to avoid the buildup of the salts and the ammonia smell.
That is all very well for men and boys of all ages who have spent their whole lives knowing that they can just stand and deliver whenever the urge takes them. But for young school-age girls who have never enjoyed the blissful relief of relieving themselves in the bush, it can still be a messy and traumatic experience. I can remember a female teacher supervising a primary school bush walk, and passing the contents of a whole box of tissues to a young girl behind a bush who did not know that, without a toilet to sit on, she would have to squat to prevent the pee running down her legs and into her shoes.
Some agile ladies are able to pull their panties to one side, stand or squat with feet wide apart and direct their pee very easily and conveniently with the minimum of stress, followed by a quick shake and a drip dry. This is not a 21st century development associated with the growth of suburban keep-fit gyms but has been known to be practised by early Greek prostitutes nearly 2500 years ago and was still common practise in certain cultures and situations in 19th Century Europe. On the other hand, the enviable female ability to ‘hover’ over a conventional shared toilet is still in practice today.
But for the likes of female firefighters dressed in protective overalls or females in military uniform, undressing sufficiently to squat and take a leak while at the fire-front or while in combat conditions or on convoy can be a time consuming and vulnerable process.
Example of a Female Urinary Diversion Device (FUDD)
Military research has shown that the dangers for females to take the time to undress and pee has led to cases of dehydration (through not drinking enough so as to reduce the need to pee) and increased risk of urinary tract infections (from saving it up til later!). Some women still suffer similar disincentives when bushwalking and camping today. Fortunately, there is now a Female Urinary Diversion Device (FUDD – catchy name isn’t it?) being introduced by the military to improve the health of the increasing number of females joining the armed forces. There are also several devices with more appealing names (eg ‘Shewee’ and ‘GoGirl’) to enable civilian women to pee while standing up. Again, not such new technology – the first was patented back in 1922! Nowadays they are also becoming useful devices for use by transgender people. Just put ‘Female Urinary Device’ into your favourite search engine and read the reviews, directions and descriptions of more than 25 varieties, worldwide.
Used toilet paper near a popular tourist track
For all the ‘folders’, ’scrunchers’ and ‘dabbers’, there is still the issue of TP (or tissues) of which to to dispose appropriately. How disappointing it is to come across such litter, in such quantities, in such otherwise idyllic hidden and not-so-hidden spots along the popular tracks and trails in our bush. Ladies (and gentlemen too), please … the TP and/or the tissues need to be disposed of properly! As a minimum, scrape away the natural leaves, sticks and stuff and then reposition it all to hide your paperwork and to assist it all to decompose quickly and out of sight.
So for all those who love to commune with nature in the Australian Bush, please go prepared, develop good practices and leave as little trace as possible. The followiong Toilet Talks will cover the development of on-site disposal facilities and the pack-it-out possibilities and practices.
No one answered. No one dared to. For an hour—well, perhaps minutes—not a word, not a murmur passed our lips. Instead, at three in the morning, we huddled together in quaking fear, drew close to the campfire, and listened.
It was out there.
What it was, though, no one knew, except for the fact we could hear it—in the bushes, thrashing around, prowling through the impenetrable darkness.
Our heads filled with fearful thoughts we dared not utter, and raced with beastly images we struggled not to imagine. Little was certain in my mind, save this one insight, crystal clear in its import: We were being stalked.
But as the group’s leader, I couldn’t share that horrendous fact with the others. Instead, I bravely motioned we move nearer the fire. When the noise died, I dug deep into reserves of courage I never knew existed and tip-toed away to investigate. That was when things turned worse. The creature stirred. It began thundering towards me, ripping the limbs off trees, cleaving their trunks in two. Death seemed imminent.
I had also, it must be said, just turned fourteen years old; this was my first unsupervised overnight bushwalking trip. But as the party’s eldest member—the others ranged between ten and twelve—it was my honour–bound duty to show no fear. We’d set off earlier that day, hiking a mighty three kilometres from my mother’s place—not far from Orange in rural NSW—into nearby bush where we set up camp. And in the early, still-dark morning, with a wild pig scrounging around nearby, I wished I’d never left. Not just home, but the comforting warmth, many years ago, of my mother’s bosom.
Sleep was impossible. Never leaving the fire’s safety, we stayed up all night smoking faux-cigarettes of eucalyptus leaves hand-rolled in newspaper; this, we believed, was how tough guys taunted death. In the morning, we tailed it outta there.
But I was energised. I’d tasted real adventure; now I was hooked. Over the coming months I began, time and again, wandering at length the cramped aisles of the local army disposal store—the only place in Orange back then selling outdoor gear—dreaming of equipment I might one day buy. Usually, though, being an impoverished teen, all I could afford were free catalogues, of packs and tents and sleeping bags, which I took home and pored over at length.
Soon after, I was in a newsagency with a little money in my pocket I’d made from collecting aluminium cans. Until then, my magazine purchases had consisted entirely of comic books, but I was finding they no longer caught my interest as they once had, and it wasn’t merely that I was growing up. No, what I craved now was adventure. And wandering the aisles, I saw a magazine that not only that day became the first real magazine I ever bought, it was a magazine that would change my destiny, a magazine that would fill my young and impressionable mind with dreams I’ve since spent so much of my life chasing: Wild.
Returning as editor now to Australia’s oldest adventure magazine is an incredible arc, and a humbling one. I feel I’m treading in the footsteps of giants, of not just founding editor Chris Baxter but all that followed: Megan, Ross, Belinda, Carlie and Campbell. To them all, I say thank you.
And to all our readers, too, I say thank you. You’re what makes Wild wild. That’s why I want to ensure that Wild’s readers continue—as they have through the years—to feel they’re part of the magazine, and that they’ll keep on telling their stories of adventure in these pages. In this issue, we have Ben Lans, a subscriber since 1981’s Issue #1, responding to Issue #168’s ‘Crocs and Waterfalls on the Herbert River’ story with his own tale of the river’s first descent. It’s a cracking read; I hope you enjoy it.
There will be some changes, of course—each editor brings their own vision—but they’ll be minor, either largely cosmetic or more simply just us striving to bring you our best writing and photography ever. For the most part, the magazine will stay the same. And our core values—adventure, conservation, community—will remain with Wild forever.