Yesterday, Mimi Goss and I did something very brave. We went on a bushwalk, in the actual bush. For some of you, this may not seem like a challenging proposition. Indeed, I’m told people go bushwalking frequently, with overnight camping included, and return to tell the tale.
These people, though, can probably read maps. And probably have some vestigial sense of direction retained from hunter-gatherer days. I cannot read maps. I have no sense of direction. This is why bushwalking is such an adventure for me. I never know where I’ll end up. Literally.
Whenever I’ve bushwalked in the past, it’s been with school (awful, horrible scarring experiences to a one), or with the lovely Zsuzannah Verona when we holidayed in New Zealand together. Zsuzannah is one of those freakily gifted people who can take the creased and sweat-stained map from my frightened paws, turn it three times while I shriek hysterically about being lost, and magically establish the direction where we’re supposed to be headed, where the nearest toilets are, and how long it will take to arrive at them. She’s like Bear Grills without the freaky urine drinking. A big improvement.
My bushwalking companion, Mimi Goss, is one of those friends who has complete and total faith in me. It’s the loveliest thing when a friend as wonderful as Mimi believes in you, and backs your judgment 110%, on things like boys, career choices, and shoes. However, it’s a bit of a worry when Mimi places her faith in me when I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT I AM DOING. Case in point: Mimi made me her navigational co-pilot on the car trip to Namadgi National Park. Or so she thought. Due to my awesome map reading skills (in the truest sense of the word, as my capacity to completely misinterpret maps inspires awe) we found ourselves, an hour later, at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. In my confusion, I had thought Tidbinbilla and Namagdi National Park were one and the same. Note to Peggy: they aren’t. The nice thing about taking so long to get to where we were going, though, was that it gave me and Mimi ample time to coin a new phrase or two. ‘Opus of Douchery’ was Mimi’s coinage. A finer contribution to the English language has yet to be made.
When we clarified that we were not, in fact, in Namadgi National Park but at the Tidbinbilla Visitors’ Center, it became apparent that plans of taking the Yankee Hat walk (yes, I picked it because of the hilarious name) would have to change. The not-too-friendly woman at the visitors’ centre suggested a couple of other walks we could take. I think she was in awe of my map (mis)interpretation skills. One of the suggested walks was the Ashbrook Fire Trail. Described as ‘moderate’ and of two hours’ duration, Mimi and I felt that it was perfect. That is, until I was handed the map of how to get there…
After hearing about my incompetence with maps earlier in this piece, it may not surprise you that we drove past the start of the Ashbrook Fire Trail walk. Twice. In my defense, the map was rather sparse and the sign was obscured by trees, Tidbinbilla being a nature reserve and all. It was at this point that Mimi reflected she was equally responsible for our predicament as she was the one who had placed me in charge of the park map. I found myself nodding agreement.
From that point on, things became simpler. There was a path, we got on it, and followed it. I’ve decided that people who don’t like maps (like me!) like, or should like, paths. We stopped for a cup of tea, and some almonds and apples. We marveled at how few birds there were – a big plus as birds are my nemesis (nemesi?). We debated the merits of various branches of feminist theory and whether or not to get maccas for lunch on the way home as we huffed and puffed our way up some long, steady gradients.
The final navigational fail on my part was still to come, however. On the drive home, I suggested we take the Point Hut Crossing road, as it would take us out ‘right near Kambah’. For those locals who are familiar with Canberra geography (unlike myself, despite having lived here for thirteen years), you will know that Point Hut Crossing actually terminates in Gordon, about eight suburbs and twenty minutes away from Kambah. I think this was the point at which Mimi accepted that bushwalking with Peggy is about the journey, rather than the destination.
It was a fantastic bushwalk adventure, from muddled beginnings to exhausted ends. My bushwalking kit is sitting in my cupboard, prepared with rain ponchos (from Legoland and Breast Cancer Awareness), Band-Aids, Panadol, Bettadine, a picnic rug, a space blanket, and emergency chocolate, ready for the next big adventure. Except, next time, Mimi’s in charge of the map…