Larapinta

 

Day One

A 5am alarm this morning, breakfast at 6am to be in the lobby at 6.45am to start Day One.  A little delay yesterday with the storms in Sydney. A reminder that we are all connected and that there is a knock-on effect when things happen.  It was great to see the team who are all in good spirits, although Colleen has hurt her toe and Annie had some food poisoning a couple of days ago.

We had our team brief at 2.30pm yesterday. There are a few DV survivors including Simone who was on A Current Affair.  She embodies what we are doing here and why the work that White Ribbon does is so important.  Most of the team (including me!) haven’t done anything like this before – hiking for 5 days in a row. It’s inspiring that so many people would take themselves out of their comfort zone and do this.

The good news is they have changed the camp site to Glen Helen Gorge. We have showers and toilets and a spot to swim!

At 4.30pm we headed down to the Botanical Gardens to be welcomed to the country by an Aboriginal Custodian and an Aboriginal Ranger. They shared with us their passion for the land and their culture. It was humbling, tragic and interesting.

A team dinner last night to chat some more before an early finish and time to pack and have an early night.

Let Day One begin 😀

 

We headed out to Telegraph Station. This is the start of the Larapinta Track. A little chilly to start. Incredibly beautiful. Clear blue skies, red rich soil, brilliant green scrub and silence. Us city folk forget how stillness and complete silence sounds – to this country girl it is pure bliss. Our destination was Wallaby Gap, 13.5kms away, following a range of low hills towards the West MacDonnell Ranges. We had a fun moment walking over the Ghan railway line. This leads to the highest point of the day on Euro Ridge where there is a magnificent view of the south-east of Alice Springs and higher ridges towards the west.  The views were amazing, the silence deafening.

A late lunch was served in Wallaby Gap. It’s amazing that after a hard trek food tastes delicious!

From there it was all aboard the nice air-conditioned bus for the bumpy ride out to Glen Helen Gorge. The campsite is a dedicated camp site for trekking groups, so tents are set up, with an area for cooking and a fireplace. Colleen and I headed straight to our tent and then after a quick change headed to the Gorge for a swim. The Gorge is fed by an underwater spring. The most incredible surroundings with tall red cliffs and beautiful clear water. Did I mention it was cold? There was a lot of screeching and screaming…. and that was just Adrian! It was refreshing and took the heat and tension out of our aching muscles. Colleen and April took a while to get into the water, and then turned into Mermaids 🙃

The late afternoon flew by as we prepared for the evening and got ourselves organised for the next day. Dinner was served and we ate around the campfire. Our trek guide (Linz) used to be a chef. From the BBQ she served up rice, sweet and sour chicken and sweet and sour vegetables – amazing! Greg was the designated fire starter and did a fantastic job! As it got dark we sat around the fire talking and laughing about our day and our adventures. Every one has a story and everyone has a  passion for White Ribbon and making a difference.

The nights up here are extraordinary. As the light fades the stars come out. The colours are brilliant blue and then fade through to yellow, orange, pink, inky blue and dark grey. The heat from the day settles and everything goes quiet and still. Our country is truly beautiful. After dinner we had a debrief for the following day. All of a sudden one of our fellow trekkers – Ian – called out “Shooting Star”. Turns out it was a meteorite flashing across the sky. Like a rainbow it arced across from south to north taking around a minute to do so. On its path it picked up the stars along the way. Brilliant and glowing we watched with disbelief at what we were seeing. As it left the sky we felt incredible joy at seeing something so remarkable. We had a moment of complete awe. Our trek guide said it was an omen to bring us good luck. We called It the White Ribbon Meteorite.

Day Two

An early start this morning with Linz waking us at 5am with some Aboriginal music. We were on the road by 6.15am. The sunrise was spectacular. So many stars and as the sun rises and the stars dim the colours are amazing. Today our trek was Section 14 of Larapinta – 13.4 Kim’s on a hard track, climbing 460 metres. We started at Serpentine Gorge. It’s a steep climb to the crest of Heavitree Range with sweeping views of the surrounding plains and ridges. The highest point is Counts Points. We left our packs under a shady tree and climbed up for magnificent views of the mountains at the western end of the West MacDonnell Ranges. The lookout also provides a good vantage point from which to see the overall geology of the ranges. The scenery is just spectacular.

From there it was down……. the trail was pretty challenging as it’s very rocky so we had to take our time. From there the path heads into woodland.

It was a challenging trail and we complete it with a sense of accomplishment.

On the way back we stopped at the Ochre Pits. Amazing colours, red, yellow and white. Our legs were a little weary but we covered the 300metres there and back!

Back to the camp for a swim in the Gorge and a cold drink or two 😀

After our camp fire dinner one of tour guides (Josh) talked to us about stars. At 7.48 last night the International Space Station went over. In a sky filled with stars it was an awesome view to watch it go through the sky. The stars here are so brilliant. It’s a reminder that we are so insignificant in the big scheme of things. Those stars were there millions of years before us and hopefully they will be there for millions of years after us.

Day Three

This morning was a sleep in with a 6am wake up call. It’s amazing to wake up to the sounds of Aboriginal music. It’s so quiet and peaceful – soothing. A beautiful way to start the day. We were on the road just after 7am. It was a short drive to the Mt Sonder Lookout. Our destination was the Ormiston Gorge. Lindz had told us that the Gorge was a magnificent and refreshing water hole and the cafe sold amazing Iced Coffees and Iced Chocolates. Motivation indeed!

At the lookout we had a good view of Mt Sonder and could see what our challenge was the next day.  We started climbing up to the most amazing window in the rocks. Walking through there we started walking on a path like it was through a paddock surrounded by mountain ranges. That was the easy bit! The Finke river is one of the oldest river systems in the world. The Finke River was called “Larapinta” by the Aboriginals. This literally means ‘salt creek’, which dates back to when our land was covered by salt water – amazing!

We weaved over the dry river bed a few times over the day. Very strange walking over a dry river bed that is flooded for a couple of months of the year!

The climb went up and up. There seems to be no end to the ranges and cliff faces. The wildflowers are starting to come out. The native Hibiscus and paper Daisies are starting to come out – beautiful. An amazing sight is this diverse country. Morning tea was at the top of a peak with glorious views over the ranges. From there it was down and up again to arrive at Ormiston Gorge. The last section was HOT! It’s warming up here – which makes it even more challenging and dusty!

The swim at Ormiston Gorge was breathtaking! Literally! It was so cold but incredibly refreshing! I love our daily baths in the water holes. There’s lots of teasing and heckling as each of us hit the water. It’s a fun and inspiring group to spend time with.

The afternoon is for snoozing and relaxing. Tomorrow we conquer Mt Sonder 😀

Day Four

The alarm went off at 2am this morning and we were up and on the road at 2.20am. Pretty impressive for such a large group! At that hour of the morning it’s REALLY dark. The stars are incredible, the stillness serene. We started the climb at 3am and headed out for the 8kms to the top of Mt Sonder. If we had any idea where we were climbing our courage may not have been so strong! In the dark you literally can only take one foot in front of the other. In the dark you plod on and up. We reached the top a few minutes after 6am. The sky was starting to lighten up in hues of yellow and orange. The wind was quite strong and unbelievably enough it was cold. Linz had pre-warned us so we had carried our winter woolies with us! As the sun rose the cameras came out. The sun lifted up and over the horizon in a ball of bright orange. Spectacular!

Cheryl and Anne had taken the 3am wake up start option and climbed as high as an area called the Saddle, which is about two thirds of the way up. Their view was slightly different to us but still spectacular.!

The climb down was bizarre in the light. It felt like a completely different place! Mt Sonder is 1380 metres so the views down were wide and sweeping and truly amazing.

Our guide Linz is the most beautiful woman. Funny, strong, caring and knowledgeable. She’s a real live wire! As we board the bus she gets on and tells us that we are all legends, followed by “It’s 10am you all look like shit and you smell!”

Back to camp for showers, breakfast and a restful day.

We all have this incredible sense of achievement. For our DV survivors it’s proof that they can achieve amazing things. The team environment can only be described as beautiful 💕

Day Five

The last night in camp was party night for most of the trekkers. This boring girl went to bed early leaving the trekkers to party on.

I woke up around 5.30am and headed outside to see the stars. It’s amazing how many there are which we can’t see in the city! Before sunrise the dingoes started howling. The echo throughout the valley was soulful and eerie. As the sky became lighter the stars seemed to disappear – a reminder that they are always there, just hidden to us.

The birds woke up and started their morning calls. It sounded beautiful in the cold morning air. The sky turned from orange to yellow to light blue to bright blue, the stars disappeared from sight and my fellow trekkers started stirring.

Behind our camp was this magnificent cliff. Watching the colours change on the cliff as the sun rose is a memory I will have forever.

We left camp at 8.15am and headed back to Ormiston Gorge. The hike today was short – to the Ghost Gum and back via the Gorge. The ghost gums are amazing. Hanging on the edge of the cliff, somehow they grow and actually flourish. One of our DV survivors said that it was a reminder that anything is possible.

After an early lunch it was back to Alice Springs for our project visit.

The first presentation was by the Women’s Family Safety Group. This is a group of women who support each other. The women who form the group are mostly DV survivors. They are passionate about connecting and sharing. About having an impact on women, the family, the community and the land that they belong to. Their message is one of hope. To not have violence normalised, to have a voice, to be visible, for the media to get the facts straight.

These women share their stories and encourage other women to share their story, to listen and to be understood. Together they are strong, strong enough to stand together against women’s domestic violence. They want something different for their children and grand children. Their goal is to heal, be happy and have respect for each other.

We then heard from a man who manages mens behavioural change programs. In the Aboriginal community women are 35 times more likely to be victims of domestic violence. YES! 35 more times! Despite that horrendous statistic things are changing. Fatalities are down. More importantly the feelings of shame are diminishing. That’s when real change is possible.

Next up was a man who manages female rangers. They are out in the community. educating and spreading the word. The word of hope – that there is a choice.

Back to our hotel to quickly wash off some red dust before we head out to our farewell dinner with the team. It’s been a life-changing experience…..

Blisters

Spinifex

Dry eyes

Dirt up the nose

Dust everywhere

Snoring symphonies in stereo

Price of beers at the pub

Opportuni-trees

Cold showers

5 hours in Alice Springs Hospital

Sneezing

Dirty fingernails

Fake tan that washes off!

Rocks

Bruises

Wind

Hiking boots

ish……

lost toe nails

Bus bumps

Bumpy roads

Swollen feet

Canklles

Cuts and scrapes

Standing on rocks on rocks

Adrian

Sonder Shituation

Lost sunglasses

Brutal

Fellow trekkers

Lindz our guide leader

Wayoutback

Josh our guide

Brandon the driver

Beautiful landscape

Sunrises and Sunsets

Swag sleeping

Planets shine and stars twinkle

Meteorite

UFO’s

Coffee

Campfire toasted marshmallows

International Space Stations

Cliff faces

Cathartic experience

Healing

Ghost gums

Dingoes howl and dogs bark

Refreshing swims in water holes

Eating by a camp fire

Building a camp fire

Campfire conversation

Ian finding love

Damper

Adrian

Giggling girls

Wild flowers

Empty river beds

Freedom

Evening drinks

Stunning rock formations

Ancient geology

Delicate flora

Mixed terrain from slate to forest

Change in sand from white to red

DV Survivors

Delicious food

Climbing Mt Sonder

Friendships

Encouragement

Entertaining antics

Dingo tracks

Team  Commraderie

Perseverance

…..ish

Jade from Inspired Adventures

Nicky from White Ribbon

Track signage

Adrian screeching

Epic super nova bruise

Wake up music

Side splitting laughter

Cohesive supportive group

Dirt Dancing

Rock wallabies

Buns of steel

Trek Ted

Lots of food

Finger moments

Courage, connection and care

 

Thank you to the Larapinta trekkers

With love 💜

 

 

White Ribbon

It’s taken 12 months and hundreds of hours for our team to meet our goal and raise $30,000 for White Ribbon. I am so grateful and proud to have this team around me and to everyone who has supported my fund-raising goal for White Ribbon.

The domestic violence statistics are dreadful. The statistics show the numbers behind the physical, sexual and emotional tragedy’s that happen to the victim’s, the perpetrator’s, their friends and their families, which of course includes the local and wider community.

One comment that I have heard time and time again over the last 12 months is that men are also victims. Yes, they are – there is no denying that, the statistics show that to be true. Ultimately all violence is wrong and it is NOT A COMPETITION. Change needs to start somewhere so creating change around the biggest problem can create a ripple effect.  If there was a road intersection that had a fatality every single week and another intersection that had a fatality once a month which intersection would you spend the money on to make it safe?

The money has been raised, trekking Larapinta starts in a few weeks. Moving forward we need to show more kindness to each other, be loving and understanding towards the victim’s. Allow the victims to speak freely and openly about what is going on, what has happened. Provide them with a non-judgemental safe place to talk so they can move forward and live a life without fear of violence.

Remember the White Ribbon oath but more importantly live it every single day.

The Victorian Elevation award for 2017 has my name on it….

It was presented at our State Conference last weekend and I have done nothing with it…

It’s really a Most Improved Award. I won the Most Improved at Calisthenics when I was 15. In that year I had discovered exercise and realised that I could go without food. I had lost a lot of weight and was just incredibly ashamed by the award. 

Last year the business had dropped to an all time low. My self confidence and self worth was plummeting. I came back from our National Conference and realised that I had to tell myself a different story. So I did. 

After 12 years of running the business I changed some things, adapted, modified my behaviour. Most importantly I changed my mindset. 

Five days after receiving this award I am now proud of it. 

It’s proof that I can change, grow, learn, modify, adapt. 

That when you put your mind to it anything is possible. 

So Matt and Lisa – thank you 😊 

 

Jane Hall

Yesterday our little Step family was shocked and saddened by the news that our beautiful, blonde, curly haired Jane had been taken from us – so quickly and so suddenly. 

It is a reminder that life is a fragile gift and we must treasure every moment. These are some of my Jane moments 💕

 

Jane became a member 7 years ago. Her and Rosemary signed up around the same time and quickly became good friends.  I remember the first conversation I had with Jane. She asked if I would give her exercises to do or if I would give her exercises and also explain why we were doing them and what impact they would have. She told me that she liked to know and understand her “why”. That was Jane – always curious and interested in the world around her. She came along to do a trial session and made it clear that if I didn’t explain “why” then she would not be signing up. Half way through the session she told me that she would be staying. That was Jane – very straight forward, communicating honestly and openly. 

 Last Monday morning she turned up to boxkick early – as she often did. As soon as Jane arrived she would come over and offer to help me set up. We would talk about all sorts of things – she was always interesting and interested. On Monday I said that I was good and that Rosemary was walking on the netball courts if she wanted to head over to her. “Oh Ro is here” she said and off she went to catch up with her training buddy and dear friend – with that bounce in her step that I loved so much. At 66 she was always full of energy. She would often say that she can do so much more, live her life more fully, thanks to me and her Step Training. She was kind like that – full of praise and gratitude. She has always been very active, would try every exercise that I gave her, give everything a go and always with a smile on her face or gritted determination.  Her sense of humour always made me laugh. During her first cardio session, she told me that she was struggling with her bum bag. I was so confused until I realised that she was laughing at herself and her own “bum bag”. She would often give me an update during cardio sessions about how her bum bag felt 😁

 Most Monday and Wednesday mornings through winter Jane would turn up and complain about the cold.

Most Monday and Wednesday mornings through winter I would ask her how many layers did she have on?

I always knew the answer – it was always the same.

“Only 2, as I know you will have us warmed up in no time.”

Any opportunity she had she would turn her back to the sun and warm up her “solar panels” as she called them.

It made me smile on Monday when the sun came out and Rosemary gently turned Jane around so her back could face the sun. She loved the feeling of heat on her back. 

 Over the last few years Jane’s memory hasn’t been great. I took this on as a challenge to ensure she was always carefully guided through the sessions. Not once did she get snarly or annoyed. That was never her way. She always communicated from a kind and generous place, that was firm and strong. 

 In the early years – having Rosemary as her training buddy – Jane would help guide me through Rosemary’s pain threshold. As we know Rosemary has had her share of trauma and has a grit and determination that seems infinite. She would often push her boundaries. It would be Jane that would tell me that Rosemary needed an option. Despite Rosemary’s protests that she was fine Jane would always encourage her to the option and somehow make it ok for Rosemary. Instinctively Jane knew Rosemary’s boundaries. It’s not unusual to hear her say to Rosemary – “Come on Ro hit harder! They made a good boxing partnership and I know it will be hard for Rosemary over the coming weeks. “

 The coming weeks will be challenging for the 9.15am team. We have faced many challenges together over the years and this will be one of our biggest. I just know that together we are strong and resilient. Together we will support each other, help each other through the grief. 

It’s important to remember the beautiful soul that Jane was, is and will always be. I just know she will be there at Le Page Park encouraging us to face each day with a smile and an enormous amount of gratitude – as that is how she lived her life. 

 

Happy Winter Solstice!

I do love today and what it means!

We should celebrate like it’s New Years Eve and drink mulled wine, decorate with fairy lights!

So what does it mean?
Today is the day with the fewest amount of daylight hours – only 9 hours and 32 minutes.
It’s the 172nd day of the year with 193 days of the year to go.

What happens after today is quite amazing!

Every year, come August I hear “It’s suddenly lighter”.
Well actually it’s not suddenly and I would encourage you to pay attention to what is happening – it is quite extraordinary…..in a geeky kind of way!

The days gradually start getting longer.  It’s slow to start off with and then all of a sudden it gets quicker and quicker – AND BOOM! It feels like it’s suddenly lighter!

By the end of July we have 10 hours and 10 minutes of daylight.
By the end of August it’s 11 hours and 14 minutes (told you it was geeky!).
Come September it’s 12 hours and 25 minutes – AWESOME!

Mother Nature is amazing. Pay attention to it and you will be SO impressed! This is my 13th Winter training outdoors. Every year I am impressed and amazed by how spectacular the next few months are.

Today always feels like a turning point for me. It’s the deepest darkest day of Winter and from here it’s slip and slide into Spring – WOO HOO!!

Happy Winter Solstice!

Why are the 1000 steps so popular?

As I did my second lap today I couldn’t help but wonder. 

Is it the amazing scenery? The stillness? The chance to be outdoors? The fitness challenge? 

Judging by the amount of chatter, running, headphone wearing, puffing and panting hikers then it’s probably more than that. 

Is it the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of those amazing men who were on the Kokoda track? Possibly. 

Our grandparents, great grand parents didn’t have our luxurious, decadent (??) life style. They didn’t have Master Chef, food photos on FB, a chance to complain about the weather, to be offended by what someone else said to us that hurt our feelings. They lived their lives everyday with true grit, determination, courage, tenacity and brave hearts. For a moment today I felt my DNA tingle at the challenge. I felt the threads of my heritage weave their way into my heart. 

I dug deep on my will-power, felt gratitude to those generations before me, thanked them for what I have, knowing that I have it because of them. It’s rewarding to feel the  true essence of who you are. To allow the true me to experience a few moments of life, embracing all that we are, all that we were and all that we can be – powerful 💕

Listen to your gut….

“What does your gut tell you?”  “What’s your gut reaction?”

Typical questions you hear when you make a decision.  Unfortunately, the belief is that if it doesn’t feel right than it’s not a good decision. Or is it?

As a child, I would always have an upset stomach before I did just about anything! First day of school every single year and every single term and I would feel sick. If by some miracle, I was actually invited to a birthday party or any other social event I would feel sick. Thankfully my mother is not the nurturing type and she would yell at me and push me out the door. Looking back that was the response I needed. It taught me that my action or behaviour wasn’t governed by my gut as my gut was always upset! It was not an indicator to be trusted!!

Three years ago, I had the privilege of attending a weekend seminar with Dr Joe Dispenza. I walked away from that seminar embracing my gut instinct. An upset stomach may be a symptom when you create change. It’s not that it’s a bad decision – it’s just stepping into the unknown.

“Crossing the river of change requires that you leave the same familiar predictable self – connected to the same thoughts, same choices, same behaviours, and same feelings – and step into a void or the unknown. The gap between the old self and the new self is the biological death of your old personality. If the old self must die, then you have to create a new self with new thoughts, new choices, new behaviours, and new emotions. Entering this river is stepping toward a new unpredictable, unfamiliar self. The unknown is the only place where you can create – you cannot create anything new from the known.” Page 64 ‘You are the Placebo’

So, next time you make a decision and decide to stay as you are because of your gut instinct. Think again – is the gut upset by the decision or is it excited about creating something new?

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers

 

I love this book! I first read it around 2002/2003 and it was EPIC!  I lent it to someone and never got it back – cannot remember who! When that happens I always just think that the other person needed it more than I did.

Up to that point a lot of what I was reading was talking about banishing fear. That fear was not an emotion you wanted as it would only be debilitating. That courage was all about being brave and moving forward and that was what you wanted.  So how come I was still feeling fearful? Was the fear I felt really that bad? In 2004 when I started Step Cheltenham the fear that I felt was enormous! However – as this book shows you – fear can be a good thing and it was certainly what I discovered.

Fear is quite a natural emotion to have. The more you care about something the more fear you will probably have. HOWEVER you can use that fear to halt what you are doing or you can harness that fear to propel you forward. A good bit of fear can take you out of your comfort zone and take you to places you never thought possible. In 2004/2005 I harnessed the fear of business failure and used it in a positive way to propel me forward.

Courage is about knowing what you fear and moving forward regardless, planning the fear into your decision and using it in a positive way.

Think about how many times you have not done something because of fear. Perhaps next time you can feel the fear and do it anyway?

Grief….

We all experience death in different ways. We all grieve in different ways.

We do have a choice. I choose to remember and honour the person that was.

Grandpa 15 Nov 1900 to 31 Dec 1986

On the last day of 1986 we received a call to say that my Dad’s Dad (Grandpa) had died. It was my first experience with death and I wasn’t sure how to respond. It was really the grief that my Dad was feeling which turned my world upside down – leaving little room for me to initially experience my own grief. Dad never shed a tear. He did, however, chop a lot of wood that day and remained quiet. Us girls stayed out of his way. I watched him all day from a distance to make sure he was ok.

We had had very little religion in our upbringing, very little faith, so there were no boundaries or expectations on how to cope with this. So pretty much I made it up as I went along. Yes, I felt a sadness in my heart – both for the loss of my beloved Grandpa and to see my Dad in so much pain.

My Grandpa had been a sick man for a long, long time. He was also quite an active man. He loved pottering around in his garden, telling yarns about his life, hugging his grand-children with an abundance of love that would leave us breathless from its power.  In the last couple of years of his life he was unable to do any of that. He had become a shell. At 16 I sensed quite deeply that he was happier in his new place or home. I had no idea where that was but I felt him in my heart quite strongly for many days afterwards and I still do today. For that I am so grateful.

At the time I had recently discovered and was avidly reading Henry Lawson. Grandpa was an Adam Lindsay Gordon fan. We had never discussed Australian author’s but I am sure Grandpa would have read and listened to Henry Lawson stories, as he was a sheep shearer for most of his life. On the day of his funeral we were driving slowly towards the cemetery. I used to sit on the right hand side of the car behind the driver. I watched a petrol truck slow down when he saw our funeral possession. He pulled over to the side of the road and switched his lights on. By the time our car passed the truck driver was sitting with his head bowed. It was such a sign of respect he made to a family and a man he didn’t even know. It was straight out of a Henry Lawson story called The Union Buries It’s Dead. I felt that Grandpa knew that. I smelt him with me and I felt his hug.

Decades later I still feel choked up by that experience and it fills my heart with an abundance of Grandpa love.

 “Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone,
Kindness in another’s trouble,
Courage in your own.”

Ye Wearie Wayfarer – Poem by Adam Lindsay Gordon

 

 

You attract into your life what you focus on

You attract into your life what you focus on.

This week there has been a lot of stress, anxiety, disbelief and fear. 

All generated by a presidential election on the other side of the planet. 

Focus on what you can control and forget about the rest. 

The sun will rise and we will be blessed with another day. 

Treat your body with respect and kindness. 

Practice gratitude. 

Have love in your heart. 

Learn something new. 

Make someone laugh.

If we can live in our global community from this place our world will be filled with joy, happiness and abundance. 

Have a beautiful day xx