After embarking on a mission to get more Australian hiking information for Tracks And Trails, I soon discovered an aptly named blog, “Our Hiking Blog”. Our Hiking Blog is an incredible journal of an Australian couples hiking trips with the main focus on multiday hikes with preferred location in Tasmania. You will not only find Australia hiking and trekking information on the blog but much much more! After speaking with Frank via email, I even received a hilarious lesson in Aussie outdoor terminology. In December 2008 Frank and Sue decided to publish “Guide to Hiking the Overland Track“ – it is an eBook that can be read on your computer or you can print it off and study it at your leisure. I downloaded the first few chapters for free and was very impressed. One of the readers stated “Hi Frank and Sue Yes I have purchased your excellent ebook and it’s really been fantastic to have such a resource to plan my trip next month. It’s enabled me to arrange all bookings (Tassielink bus, Centennial hotel, Jetstar, ferry) and of course the permit and pass to undertake the walk… Bruce” Without further adieu we will get right into an interview with Frank Wall. How and where were you introduced to the outdoors? I was an the Scouts for many years. Started off as a 6 year old and ended up as a Queen’s Scout (think it is an Australian / British thing) when I was about 16. We had a great time camping, hiking and a whole lot of other outdoor activities. The best part was being out in “the bush” with your mates from school. Then when I met my wife Sue, we started camping together and as the kids came along we took them. About 6 years ago a mate and I started hiking together and it really awoke my passion again
for getting into wilderness places. After a couple of shorter practice walks here in Victoria, he and I headed off and did the Overland Track in Tasmania for the first time. We were HOPELESSLY over prepared and carried a huge weight each (33kg or 73pounds) We both ended up with black toes, blisters and sore backs! The actual trip and scenery were fantastic and I vowed to return. I talked Sue into doing the Overland Track and we did it with our eldest daughter a few months later. We had a great time and then Sue and I did it again a couple of months later. Each time we do it we enjoy it because the weather, conditions, people we meet or the people we hike with are different. Sue and I now try and get away together and do a trip or we might go with a group. Either way it is always fun. What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area? Even though we live in Victoria, Australia (known as the “mainland”) my absolute favourite spot to hike (or bushwalk as we call it in Australia) is Tasmania, the “little island” at the south of Australia. We try and fly down there three or four times a year and can be bushwalking in some pristine wilderness within 5 hours of leaving home. Special spots are in the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. There is a famous multi day trek there called the Overland Track. I have done the complete track and parts of it about 8 times in the last 5 years!
There are many other areas in Tasmania where we like to hike, that place is covered in wilderness. There are many fantastic hiking tracks that are real wilderness and you can go on a trip and not see anyone else for days. Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas. Recently we were hiking in the South Coast area of Tasmania after having been “out bush” for a few days at a beautiful, isolated bay. We had not seen another person for three days and were heading out to civilisation. We camped between two small creeks and retired to our tent early because of the rain. We had a heavy thunderstorm and rain overnight and ended up stuck between 2 rivers that had risen 3 metres (12 feet) overnight. We were stuck for around 10 hours and a bit stressed we would miss our flights home etc. This blog post South Coast Track – Louisa and Faraway Creek flood has the full story. Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned. Never lost but “geographically challenged” a few times. I like to plan our trips quite thoroughly and usually have a track set up on our GPS or at least a few important waypoints. As regards injuries I have had a few. The worse one was hiking in the Australian Alps and I slipped on some gravel on a track and fell down the edge of the track about 2.5 metres (8 foot) only to be
stopped by some trees. We were in the middle of our trip and 2 days walking out, so I just kept on going. Ended up with a large flap of skin on my knee 2″ x 2″ (down to the patella) , multiple grazes on both legs, lost a couple of finger nails etc. Was a “tad uncomfortable” and took about four weeks to heal with special dressings etc. Not fun. Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals? We don’t really have “wild” animals like bears in Australia. We do have lots of tiger snakes that can kill you. In Tasmania they are quite common and you learn to keep an eye out for them. They love to lie along the side of trail and bask in the sun. I always keep my eyes out for them and wear gaiters to at least protect my legs. The snakes, fortunately, are more scared of us then we are of them and usually disappear quickly. Bites are usually caused when someone (i.e. an idiot) tries to catch or kill one, which is illegal as they are protected species. If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it? Yes, lots of multiday trips. Because we usually travel to Tasmania from our home state of Victoria (southern Australia) it requires a short flight or overnight ferry trip. We usually head out for 5-7 nights, 3-4 times a year. The Tasmania trips have included the Overland Track many times, the “Walls of Jerusalum” and the South Coast Track.
Closer to home there is a great 4-7 night trip called the Great Ocean Walk. I really enjoy hiking it in the spring or autumn (less crowds and snakes!) It is a spectacular coastal walk with only 8 tent sites at each camp site and a permit system. Highly recommended for anyone who likes a great coastal walk with spectacular scenery. Nuggetts of wisdom. Go as light as you can manage, try and chose your gear with multiple purposes in mind and always go with someone you get on with (like I say, I love bushwalking with my wife, Sue) Finally, if your footwear is not right, throw em out and get a pair that works! What is your favourite outdoor website? Bushwalk Tasmania Forum wins hands down. It is a really well moderated forum that has just expanded to include the whole of Australia. There are a lot of really experienced bushwalkers that hang out there so the advice is spot on if you are planning a trip anywhere in Australia. They also have a monthly photo competition that generates a lot of great entries from across Australia. Nik, the founder has just released a new iPhone application called Bit Map – which allows you to store and view specialised topographic maps offline on your iPhone. Pretty smart I reckon! What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store? We have a great Mountain Designs store in Geelong , our home town. I think Mountain Designs is an Australian only company and they don’t sell online. Our store is terrific. It is owned by a young couple who really know their stuff and are very active in the Outdoors. Their staff, particularly Fiona, are great, and they always let us know when sales or good items are due. I reckon we should all support our specialist outdoors gear stores, here in Australia big chains are trying to chew them up but their gear is never as good and their product knowledge is usually hopeless. If you are a website administrator please add your url here. http://ourhikingblog.com.au/ Frank & Sue’s Guide to planning the Overland Track eBook information page.
Any recommendations on where a beginner should hike while traveling through Australia? I hope to make it there sometime in the next year or two!