Four or so months ago, I would have rated myself a four out of ten on the adventurous scale. A nice long walk or run with minimal inclines, sure. Kayaking even, sure. But rock climbing, abseiling, bungee jumping, scuba diving will always be a big no, no, no, no, no, no!
Being a city slicker, my type of adventure was heading out to the Mornington Peninsula to hit some wineries and the hot springs, or perhaps the odd fun run. To take part in any kind of adventure sport required equipment or money to rent particular equipment, lessons, time. Too much to fuss over in the short expanse of time that is the weekend – that is if I got a full weekend that didn’t require some kind of school work.
Now we are in outback Australia, and just being here alone is an adventure. But wait, there is even more adventure to be had around the corner! We have put away our wallets (except for one very expensive whale shark swim), our wine stocks are diminishing as well as our gourmet produce from the Southern Forests region. We we have bought a slab of the local brew, ‘Emu Export’, otherwise known as ‘Bush Chook’ to the locals, and are embracing nature and the adventures within, even though they have been somewhat shambolic, such as going to a cave at Stockyard Gully and not thinking to take a torch.
We then went for a snorkel at one of the beautiful beaches at Francois Peron, the only problem being that I am a very inexperienced snorkeller and we had no idea that we were entering a drift snorkel where the current takes you along the Reef to view the marine life. I did not cope well with this and was out of the water and feeling dejected about my snorkeling ability pretty quickly. Let’s not even mention the fact that the area is called Shark Bay!
You see, I’m a worrier. Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but I’m always thinking about what could go wrong, what are the risks in undertaking this activity? And there is easily a risk that any number of things could go wrong out in this adventurer’s wonderland and one of us could wind up seriously hurt.
So, instead of wrapping myself up in bubble wrap and sitting out on the shore missing out on all the fun, I made a deal with myself to be more adventurous, but start slow and mitigate the risks where they arise. This is why you will see me in all of my snorkeling photos in a rash vest, as there was a alert on the Ningaloo Reef regarding the presence of jellyfish that could cause Irukandji syndrome, and I figured that was better than nothing (fortunately it seems the jellyfish had left the week before we got there). I looked up some good spots for beginner snorkellers and we went there, where I could practice being comfortable swimming in calm, clear waters with the snorkel on. By the end of our week snorkeling on the Ningaloo, I had attempted another drift snorkel with much more confidence and swam out in the deeper ocean with a whale shark! I am much more confident snorkeling now and love it, was as previously I have been way too nervous in the water to enjoy it.
With renewed confidence, we headed out to Karijini National Park in the Pilbara, where there are lots of walks that you can do throughout the beautiful gorges there. Most of these walks are a ‘Class 4’ or ‘Class 5’ walk, and if you want to get to the best pools, you can bet that’s a ‘Class 5’ walk, described as being for ‘very experienced bushwalkers, a high degree of fitness and agility is required’. Now I would say I’m of average fitness and not particularly agile, but I decided I was going to give it a go and if it got too hard I could just turn back.
My favourite Gorge was Hancock Gorge. Beautiful green pools contrasted against the red cliffs were stunning, but to completing the walk meant walking through these cold pools to get to the other side.
We almost lost the bag when the water got a little bit too deep, but managed it successfully. But that was not all. To reach ‘Kermit’s Pool’ at the end you had to complete the ‘Spider Walk’ where you are supposed to walk along a stretch of the narrow gorge with one foot on either side of the gorge wall with a trickling stream below. Most people were not doing that and just walking along the slippery rock surface below, and I figured I could do the same. But soon upon entering a slipped on the slimy rock and fell hard on my bum. I persevered, only for Jason to take an impressive stack further down.
We were okay though, and it was worth it, Kermit’s Pool was lovely.
After enjoying that fun little walk, we decided to tackle the next one ‘Handrail Pool’. This was a similar walk to the Hancock Gorge walk, but this time you were met with a large round pool, with a handrail to help you traverse down the jutting cliff wall. Even though there were people who looked almost twice my age doing this with relative ease, all I could think of was slipping on that Gorge wall as I went down and meeting an untimely death. So even though I was once again disappointed in myself, I accepted my limitations and went back while Jason headed down for a look.
I’ve had a wonderful time the last few weeks getting out and doing things that I’ve been too scared to do previously. Rather than sitting out altogether and feeling like a weakling I’ve come to realize if I mitigate the risks involved in doing something and recognize and accept my limitations when I can’t, then I can still experience so much of what this incredible land has to offer in way of adventure.