Getting out of my comfort zone on the Holland Track
It’s taken several decades to convince me that camping could be as much fun as glamping. As my biological clock chimes mid 50’s I am more eager for the ‘road less travelled’.
Early in our married life we went on a camping trip. We borrowed a tent and set off for a long weekend away from the rat race of Melbourne city.
The elements of nature seemed to be against us that memorable weekend. It rained and rained and kept on raining. The first 24 hours in the tent were romantic however this soon wore off as the tent started leaking and there was nowhere dry to go. We decided to pack up and drive back to the comfort of our inner city dwelling early. A few miles down the road a rock smashed our windscreen, which in those days meant punching a hole in the toughened glass so that the driver could see out. It was a miserable drive home in the wind, rain and cold. If that was camping, I was over it
Later, after our children were born, I held the view that holidays were for me too, which meant running hot water and a solid roof over our heads with room for the children to play indoors if the weather meant being outdoors was uninviting.
Until……. earlier this year when a very special friend, Sally, invited us along on an adventure on the Holland Track. The Holland Track is a 260-kilometre narrow rugged 4WD track from Hyden in Western Australia’s wheat belt to Coolgardie in the Goldfields. It is part of a track originally made in 1893 as a shortcut from Albany (a port) to the Goldfields when the goldrush days were at their peak and gold fever struck many a man. It took the intrepid John Holland and his team 65 days to cut the original track through dense bush and woodlands with only horse and man power.
This track was on Sally’s bucket list and her goal was to ride it on a motorbike. This is not the first time Sally has coaxed me out of my comfort zone. She taught me to snow ski and, on another adrenaline fuelled occasion took me white water rafting over a 7-meter waterfall. I hung onto the ropes in the bottom of the raft with white knuckles, terrified of falling out into the swirling water.
The hard state borders associated with the COVID-19 virus meant that we couldn’t go on our planned trip overseas, so this adventure became more appealing. Dates were selected and lists, and preparation started. We had lots of laughs planning the menu and testing out our camping mattress on the living room floor. Once I was committed, I was determined to make the most of the experience and keep an open mind. I’ve had the privilege to do volunteer work in remote villages in India, surely a camping trip couldn’t be as confronting as that I told myself.
As a novice 4WD driver there were plenty of heart in the mouth moments. This is a narrow single lane track with countless deep muddy trenches to navigate through or around. Often there are ‘chicken tracks’, alternate pathways to the left or the right of the deep ruts, but not always. The first day I rarely got to 3rd gear. It was ‘mindful’ driving, getting through each 100 meters at a time. Steering carefully as we were the only 4WD vehicle in our team. The other 3 were all riding motorbikes which wouldn’t have helped if we had got bogged. There was no room for complacency.
Sitting around a campfire under a star-studded night sky was marvellous. Immersed in nature, far from distractions and responsibilities, no phone or internet signal was liberating. I’ll be going camping again.