Spending a weekend hiking and camping in the Australian bush beside a waterhole was made all the more perfect by sharing it with a group of nature-loving women. The Adventure Therapy Project has guided women on bush adventures throughout 2019 and 2020 across the Southern Downs Region in southern Queensland. The funding sourced from Darling Downs West Moreton PHN was used to bolster the mental health of locals who’ve been doing it tough with severe drought for years.
The grant enabled small groups of women to experience mountain biking, canoeing, bouldering, bushwalking, birdwatching, nature walks, trail yoga, nature craft workshops and of course our Hike + Camp Weekend in the stunning Goomburra Valley in November 2020. All of these activities were fully funded so there was no added burden for the women to participate.
The time leading up to the Hike + Camp Weekend was filled with excitement as well as uncertainty as stormy weather systems that we hadn’t seen for a few years began to move through. The welcome downpour meant we needed to postpone for a few weeks to let the sticky black soil and clay dry out so we could safely access the property.
Finally the day came and we eagerly met at the hay shed just below The Grain Shed Retreat. This private property is used for bush adventure and therapy by Bel and her team from Darling Downs Wellness Therapies. Bel was our very welcoming yoga instructor and camp host for our much anticipated weekend of balanced action and relaxation.
We began with some yoga in the shade of the hay shed and I think we were all mesmerised by the sight of lush green grass around us. Awake to the beauty around us, we loaded our gear into the ute to be transported to our campsite for us and we moved into action. The uphill trek to our campsite was steep yet stunning. Even in the heat of the day we were unstoppable, pausing every few minutes for another breathtaking view of the valley around us. It was such a beautiful lesson about the value of persisting, pacing yourself and the power of group support.
Our campsite was cosily nestled among the gum trees next to the waterhole where we swam and cooled off whenever we felt like it. For some of us that was pretty special because women are so often focused on caring for others and getting things done, we don’t often prioritise our own self-care choices. The waterhole was also the perfect spot for sunset yoga and again early in the morning (we were so relaxed we didn’t quite make it for sunrise!)
Our delightful camp bathroom consisted of separate shower and toilet tents with all the mod cons you can imagine which made us feel so special despite roughing it for the weekend.
The hand built wooden deck looking over the waterhole, was perfectly positioned for us to settle in for the weekend. The tall whispering trees were like old friends standing by our sides, the trickling waterfall at our feet reminded us to bring focus to those things that revive us, and a clear night sky with the moon rising above us comforted us with its spectacular halo of light.
Exploring the dry creek bed was one of the treasures we experienced during the Hike + Camp weekend. We discovered an incredible array of rocks, some of them sparkling intensely in the sunlight, some of them purple, some of them pitted with holes from volcanic days gone by. Others were a motley combination of rock and clay artfully stuck together on display. Each of them different and special – a bit like all of us. It’s amazing how things can sparkle and shine with their true colours even in the harshest of environments.
Over the weekend Bel shared stories with us of people who had walked the land before us. It was moments like these that we were reminded of the vastness and multi-dimensional nature of our world. Slowing down for the weekend opened up opportunities for enriching, heart-felt conversations, silent reflections about life, and lighthearted moments where we laughed wholeheartedly, doubled up and breathing deeply, wiping the tears of laughter from our cheeks.
In quieter moments we read books or created with craft. We ambled, rested, shared stories and came home to that inner part of ourselves as we reset and reconnected with the important stuff of life.
The Hike + Camp weekend really was a time to practice balance. All the juggling we do in our every day lives was paused. We each chose a balance that was just right between action and relaxation, togetherness and alone time, introspection and outward expression. As we packed up camp and meandered down the mountain to our vehicles, each of us carried a sense of clarity about what it is that we need as an individual to nurture our energy levels and zest for life. For all of us that meant remaining connected with nature in some way.
I’m always inspired by the magic that happens when women come together for activities such as hiking and camping. With open hearts and minds we connect with nature, connect with each other, and most importantly we connect with our inner selves and when it’s time to go home again, we leave with a certain richness that inspires us in other areas of our lives.
INTERESTED IN HEARING ABOUT FUTURE BUSH RETREATS, CAMPING ADVENTURES AND NATURE-BASED ACTIVITIES? Sign up for my Grounded Inspiration emails so you won’t miss out!
You can also listen to the Outdoors is my Therapy podcast episode where I chat about all things to do with the Hike and Camp Weekend!
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