Outback Jack

Jacqueline Hancock lives hikes and treks in the Australian Outback. She says, “It is almost like the harsh varying conditions of drought and flood makes for some “real unusual weathering” or perhaps it’s just that we grow in more isolation up here and that lets us develop some more “interesting” shapes like crystals forming quietly […]

Written By Clayton Kessler

On February 5, 2010

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Jacqueline Hancock lives hikes and treks in the Australian Outback. She says, “It is almost like the harsh varying conditions of drought and flood makes for some “real unusual weathering” or perhaps it’s just that we grow in more isolation up here and that lets us develop some more “interesting” shapes like crystals forming quietly in a “vug” or geode!”. Jacqueline is passionate about God, her country and is a teacher at heart. In here writings of the outback you will get specific information like hiker hut locations, great laughs and little of the gospel as taught at a unique outback church where the congregation seeks to be true disciples of Jesus and minister to those living in the outback of Australia. Thanks for an entertaining and informative interview outbackjack!

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

I have always been an outdoor “tomboy” kind of a person from as long as I can remember.  I grew up with my mother and Grandparents on small acreage and preferred to spend my time outside with the horses, ducks and chooks etc. I remember my Nanna always preferring to work outside in the garden instead of doing housework and I am the same. On Sunday afternoons after we had been to Church my mum would often take the “four generations” (Great grandmother, Nanna, Mum and I for Sunday drives in the country. We would take turns picking which road or turn to take and then mum had to find her way home again. We never got lost and I got to see a lot of our state this way.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?
I wouldn’t be able to choose I love so many things, gardening, fishing, photography, collecting mineral specimens and just walking through the bush. I remember when I was young I could spend ages just watching the ants and animals to see what they were doing.
Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.
Hiking in Lakeland district United Kingdom.
My first trip overseas was to the UK. I was at Tabor Bible Collage at the time and God had made it clear that he wanted me to go to the UK. There are many amazing things I could tell you about how he opened the doors and made it possible but that could take a book. Anyway after experiencing his amazing provision to get there I ended up visiting the Lakeland district. Being an outdoors girl I decided to go for a hike to see what I could see. I grabbed a map and headed off.
The green countryside was amazing to someone who grew up in the driest state in the driest continent also all the water! I made my way past the coloured pencil factory and to the other side of the lake when I came across an incredible running stream. Incredible to me cause all our creeks only run in winter and not for very long at that, but also incredible as the stream water was crystal clear. I was about 26 years old but I just had to play in that creek lol.
I took off my shoes and investigated the life of the stream tipping up rocks to see what lived there. I was so engrossed in my activities that I did not notice my map flying off in the breeze. When I got out discovered that the map was gone I suddenly realised that no-one knew my where abouts including me. In short I was lost. However England is not the Outback of Australia and I firmly believed that since Jesus had brought me here to England he was also able to get me back to my lodgings.
So I just prayed and said “which way Lord”. For the next hour or so I hiked along a trail and came to a few houses. I got some directions and found I was heading in the right direction. I made it to the edge of the town I was staying in but there were so many streets I had no idea which one to take. I prayed again and was told to turn right. This however brought me to a Church. It was now about 8.30 at night – twilight in England at the height of summer. I remember saying to God I know that in a theological sense that a Church may represent my spiritual home, but you would well know I meant where I was staying for the night”. However I got the impression that God did not bring me here randomly so I decided to investigate the area. Behind the Church was a small cemetery and sitting on a bench was a man who looked so sad. I went and spoke to him. He was desperate, down on his luck and about to give up on life. I shared with him my days journey and suggested that perhaps Jesus had orchestrated my day so that I could find him and share how much God really did love him.
I ended up taking him into town wondering what to do with him. I knew no-one in town. I prayed for direction asking God to help me find a local Christian who could watch over him for awhile. It must have been around 10pm by now and as we came around a corner I spied a Christian Bookshop and praise God the light was on. I told them what had happened and they knew this man but had not seen him for awhile. Anyway they took him in and told me how to find my way home. Moral of this story “if in doubt – pray” !
Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.
Whilst in the Army and doing a camp in Port Augusta we experience some unusual weather. The temperature went from the high thirties where we had soldiers brought in with Heat stress to extremely cold overnight temperatures which caused some to suffer hypo-thermia. I had not much experience at this time of this sort of climate and it certainly taught me that you need to be prepared for all sorts of weather when out in the bush. In Australia you will find climate extremes and our land can be harsh and sometimes unforgiving. You must always be prepared for the unexpected. You never go out on a trip or hike in the outback without water either as we don’t have nice babbling brooks dotted along the way.
Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?
Whilst working at Spud’s Roadhouse in Pimba I used to go for a daily run to keep fit. It was only about 6 kms run on the main road to Woomera and nothing about but Gibber plains. What should have been an uneventful route turned in to being a game of “look out for the emu”” . We had an emu who decided to make our area home and whilst he was generally not too dangerous you didn’t want to come across him in a tight corner or look like you were running at him. One morning about 7am I was too engrossed in my thoughts to be watching out for him and I remember suddenly looking up and there he was and I was running straight at him. I stopped and wondered if I should hit the ground as emus can disembowel you with their extremely strong legs and claws. He however to my relief just walked on by and I always after that watched out for him.
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?
Unfortunately I have never completed a thru-hike as none of my friends are into this and so had no-one to go with. We however are always off camping in the bush and outback with our 4 wheel drive. A lot of places we go are very remote and harsh and hiking would only be recommended for the extremely fit and capable hiker. The best motto whether you are hiking or 4 wheel driving is to be prepared and keep a good respect for the environment you are in.
What is your favourite outdoor website?
Don’t have a favourite but Rita’s Outback Guide and Camp oven Cook are good spots. Also I love forum sites like the 4×4 explorer as you get first hand knowledge from people who have “been there, done that”.
What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?
Army disposal stores, as I am used to Army type equipment. Lol


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