I just love to walk. It is my time for introspection, physical exercise, enjoying nature and fresh air. It makes me feel rejuvenated and peaceful.
One of my sabbatical goals this year is to do a trek. I always had this aspiration to tackle the Kokoda Trail through the Owen Stanley Ranges in Papua New Guinea. This trek claims to challenge you mentally and physically. And I have my eye on it.
The Kokoda Trail is one of the world’s great treks spanning 96kms through rugged mountainous country of rainforest and unspoilt villages where the mountain Koiari people reside. This trek was the location of the 1942 World War II battle between the Japanese and primarily Australian forces. It is a challenging trek to be pursued by the fit bush walker and takes between 4 to 12 days.
In this spirit, I have been spending time at the Dandenong Ranges. This set of low mountain ranges rising to 633 meters are approximately 35kms east of Melbourne Victoria. They are simply stunning. You are literally encased by towering forests and lush fern glades with eclectic villages scattered through that are worth visiting.
Every week, I drive to the Dandenongs and climb the Kokoda Memorial Track Walk of “1000 steps” to the top of One Tree Hill. This climb is not for the faint hearted and a moderate level of fitness is required. It is something I would not have done before and now I can! I do this climb to test and improve my fitness and meet interesting people from all walks of life. On Monday, I met a man in his 70’s who has been climbing these steps for the last 25 years. I also met a young woman who runs up and down the steps three times without stopping. Very inspiring!
When I climb, there are moments when I listen to music and other times when I pursue it in silence to engulf the beautiful forest and its magical sounds in a complete state of mindfulness. I open my arms wide and let the forest suround me for that moment and take a deep breath in and out. I feel fantastic at the end.
After my climb I drive to the beautiful village of Sassafras, just a few minutes down the road, and enjoy a coffee and a nibble at the Proserpina Bakehouse where they use freshly milled flour to bake fresh organic bread and produce a wonderful assortment of pastries, Italian pizzas, pies, salads and home cooked meals.
As you walk up the path to Proserpina you will stumble across the Emma Jennings Gallery Emma is a highly respected artist who recently opened up her studio and works of art to the general public. My love for all things ‘blue and white’ attracted me to walk in and purchase a bag that she designed for the Bianca Lorenne Fine Linens range which I use to store the tapestry that I am working on at the moment.
Across the road is the Dalcheri sustainable fashion shop. I have fallen in love with this place because of their philosophy of only providing sustainable natural fibre clothing and ethically made garments. They believe in ensuring that all their products are ‘fair trade’ and that the workers that produce these products are looked after. I purchased a selection of Micro Modal garments, which are lovely to wear, and a beautiful Merino Mink cardigan from New Zealand which is made from a combination of 50% merino wool, 40% possum (who would have thought!) and 10% silk. This is a shop worth popping in to.
You also can’t go past Geppettos Workshop which provide old fashioned toys that reflect traditional values. Great for gifts to give to young children.
In closing, I want to share with you a fantastic event that I attended last year called the Secret Gardens of the Dandenong Ranges . This program of events showcase some of the Dandenongs finest private and public spring gardens. It was a very inspiring day and left me with plenty of ideas to take back to my own garden. Tickets are on sale now.
Do you have a favourite place to walk?
Until next time.