How to listen to a podcast

Two questions I’m often asked these days are “What’s a podcast?” and “How do you listen to a podcast?” I love these questions because they give me the opportunity to open up the world of podcasts to other people.

When podcasts first became a ‘thing’ I had no idea what they were. I took little interest in them because they sounded very ‘technical’ and that meant a bit ….. scary! My daughter at university mentioned something about podcasts and I just let it drop into the ‘too hard basket’.

At some point the lack of selection of radio shows and lack of availability of radio stations on my rural jaunts led me to delve into the possibility of podcasts.

What is a podcast?

It was explained to me that listening to a podcast is a bit like selecting a radio show you’d like to listen into, but you can choose to listen any time and in any place. I was also told that there is a very wide selection of podcast shows to listen into and that no matter what you’re interested in, there’s bound to be a podcast show about it. And that, I believe, is a pretty good explanation for the newbie podcast listener.

Basically, most podcast shows are hosted on platforms. The podcaster records and uploads their episodes to the platform which then sends them out to directories such as Google Podcasts, Podcast Addict, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, Spotify and so on. These directories then enable you to listen in to your selected shows or episodes.

Why should you listen to a podcast?

Once I’d worked out what a podcast actually is and how I could listen in, I’ve never turned back. I love podcasts for adding great value to my long rural drives creating an open theatre of education, entertainment and inspiration according to my preferences. The scary sounding technology was definitely not scary at all.

In fact I’ve gained so much from tuning in to podcasts, I decided to start my own podcast in early 2020, and later that year I sourced funding from the Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN to create an educational community podcast for my region as it recovered from severe bushfires.

How do you listen to a podcast?

There are a few different ways to listen to a podcast. The two main ways are on the web or through a podcast player app on a smart phone or tablet.

1. How do you listen to a podcast on the web?

  • The easiest method if you are new to podcasts is to listen in on the web if the podcast is available there. For example, the Speak Out Loud: Stories of Strength from the Southern Downs podcast can be found on my website. You can listen to the Outdoors is my Therapy podcast there too. If you go to my website, you can find these podcasts by clicking on the Podcasts Tab. To listen to the Speak Out Loud podcast, simply click on that in the drop down list.
  • You will see a description of the podcast at the top of the page and below that is a podcast player.
  • Scroll through the list of episodes and click on the one you want to listen to. Read the show notes (that’s a brief description of the episode) by clicking on the “i” icon in the bottom right corner of the episode in the player.
  • Click the play arrow (it looks like a triangle) to listen to your selected episode.
  • You can also download and / or print the handout that goes with each of these episodes by clicking the links below the podcast player towards the bottom of the page.

speak out loud: stories of strength from the southern downs

2. How do you listen to a podcast using a podcast player app?

If you’re a regular listener of podcasts, you might like to listen to your favourite podcasts through your smart phone or tablet while you’re out and about. For Apple Devices you’ve probably already got the Apple Podcast app installed on your device. For Android Devices you may need to install a podcast app. Either way you can choose which app to use.

  • Make sure you have access to the Internet by checking your device is connected to wi-fi or that you have sufficient data to access and download from the Internet.
  • Search the Google Play Store or Apple Store for “podcast apps”. There are many different apps available including Podcast Addict, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify. You can read about the apps including user reviews to help you decide which one to use. You can also ask your friends, family and colleagues what podcast apps they prefer and why. Most podcast apps are free or have a free version which may include advertising played as an audio ad at some point during the podcast episodes, or there may be written ads on the screen of your device.
  • Once you’ve selected a podcast app, download and install it on your device. You can always uninstall it later and try a different one if it doesn’t work out for you.
  • You can use the app’s search function to look for a podcast show, episode, topic, or a person. For example, you can search for the podcast “Speak Out Loud: Stories of Strength from the Southern Downs”.
  • You can view a list of the podcast’s episodes in the app as well as a description for each episode. These descriptions are sometimes called Show Notes and more detailed Show Notes are sometimes made available for you to read by clicking on a link.
  • Use the control features in the app to download and play your selected episodes.
  • If you ‘subscribe’ to a podcast, you will either receive a notification when new episodes are available to listen to, or new episodes may automatically download onto your device. If you choose not to subscribe you can check back regularly for new episodes.
  • Most podcast apps allow you to download episodes while you have access to the Internet so that you can listen to them later (even if you don’t have an Internet connection later).

outdoors is my therapy podcast logo

Do you need headphones to listen to podcasts?

Sound quality is at its best if you listen to your podcast shows through a good quality speaker which may or may not include your phone’s speaker, or you can use headphones. Check with your device’s manufacturer about using speakers, headphones, hands-free technology and Bluetooth technology to enhance your experience of listening to podcasts. Of course using headphones enables you to enjoy your podcasts without imposing your tastes on others around you.

Sooooo….. what are you waiting for? Time to get listening!

daisy spoke blogDiscovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Seasons in Life

In the same way that there are seasons in nature, so too there are seasons in life as a human living on Earth today. As I write this blog post, we’re in between climatic seasons. The days are still warm but not as hot as they were a few weeks ago. Some of the nights have a distinct chill in the air so there are whispers that winter is on its way.

seasons in life - autumn leavesThe season of autumn is on its way!

As I was walking last week I passed a tree which had some leaves that had begun yellow. This sign never fails to trigger a sense of joy and anticipation for me. Until I was in my mid to late twenties and had two young children, I’d always lived in temperate coastal regions. Sure, I’d travelled the country a bit, but had never lived anywhere that experienced all four seasons.

From two seasons to four!

When I moved from Brisbane to the Southern Downs region in southern Queensland on the lands of the Gidhabal people, it was mid winter. There was a thick layer of frost on the ground each morning, sometimes till mid-morning and it was such a thrill to see it and feel it underfoot. I’d never seen thick frost before and this white coating on the ground and the cars and the windows was completely foreign to me. When I looked up close I could see the intricate patterns that combined together to form the frosty coating that gave everything an icy cold look. I simply loved it!

My first autumn was equally as exciting as my senses were captivated by the colours and textures of the leaves changing from green to yellow, red, orange and brown. And then slowly the leaves fell away, covering the ground with a striking layer of shapes that scrunched and crunched underfoot. One of my favourite autumn experiences still is to drive down one of the wide suburban streets in my town as the cold southerly wind funnels along the road, picking up the leaves that are delicately hanging onto the trees, and billowing them up into the air, swirling and whirling in a topsy turvy whirlwind until they slowly settle down onto the road and footpath, then scuttling along in waves as the south wind continues to breathe the first of winter.

All these sights, sounds, smells, textures and movements come back to me every autumn, so you can imagine how my body responded last week when I saw the very first signs of some leaves changing colour.

As my heart beat with excitement, I amused myself thinking about how here in Australia we call the coming season autumn, but in many other countries it’s known as fall. In my childhood I really didn’t ‘get’ it. After all, I wasn’t familiar with the leaf fall at the end of summer.

We all have internal seasons

Last week as I walked, I made a connection in my mind which resonated very strongly with me. We all have seasons in life, just as the climate has seasons.

Recently I’ve been working at letting go of some aspects of my life that I no longer need – projects that have completed, services that are no longer part of my core business, belongings that are unnecessarily taking up space. I’ve been in the season of autumn (or fall) and it feels so much lighter! Allowing things to fall away and making a conscious effort to seek out things I can declutter will give me more time and space to hunker down, conserve energy and focus on what matters most at this time in my life.

In the same way that you can’t really see what’s happening below ground or under the bark of the tree once it’s shed its leaves, I too am working away on projects that may not be obvious to anyone else but me. I know that this behind-the-scenes work is invisible but it’s vital. As I come out of my autumn and winter seasons and move into my season of spring, you’ll finally be able to see the new growth, the fruits I’m creating at the moment.

What season in life are you in?

Seasons are a normal and natural part of the outdoors life no matter where you live – whether you have the four seasons of summer, autumn, winter and spring, or perhaps the wet and dry seasons of the tropical regions, or perhaps you have the light and dark seasons if you live closer to the poles.

I wonder, what season are you living in right now? I mean, literally, what climatic season are you in ………..…..

………. and what season in life you are in?

Nature reminds us that seasons in life come and go

Literally or metaphorically, we all experience seasons in life, and connecting with nature all year round is a good reminder that seasons come and go and they each have a purpose. Where there’s an ending or a completion, there’s also a beginning, a renewal. And that means there’s always the opportunity for hope.

connect with nature - connect to self

Send me an email: I’d love to hear your thoughts about seasons in nature and which season in life you’re in right now. I always love to hear from my readers and podcast listeners!

Listen to the audio version of this post in the Outdoors is my Therapy Podcast Episode 26!

Daisy Spoke logoDiscovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

The Adventure Therapy Project for Women

Adventure activities inspire healthy choices

The Adventure Therapy Project has been inspiring and skilling women to make healthy choices for themselves by valuing self-care, spending time outdoors, challenging themselves in new ways, and being physically active. We’ve had amazing fun and free activities on the go throughout 2019 and 2020 including:

  • bushwalks
  • gentle nature walks
  • birdwatching
  • trail yoga (outdoors yoga)
  • mountain biking
  • canoeing
  • bouldering
  • nature craft workshops
  • camping

The Adventure Therapy Project

The evolution of The Adventure Therapy Project

It’s been super fun to be a part of this Project from identifying the gap in women’s outdoor activities in the community, to developing the concept, applying for funding, organising and implementing the activities, and seeing the women enthusiastically getting involved. The Project has been funded with a grant through the Empowering Our Communities initiative which supports communities adversely impacted by severe drought. The funds were made available through the Darling Downs West Moreton PHN.

The Project has hosted about fifty different events for a few hundred women mostly from the Southern Downs Region of southern Queensland. Six small businesses provided instruction in their speciality activities, and numerous community groups and individuals shared information about the activities. Many men and women have told me that although they haven’t participated, they’ve been inspired to get outdoors and get active simply by hearing and seeing the Project in action. How awesome is that!

The Adventure Therapy Project canoeing

Outdoor adventures are a valuable part of mental health and self-care

Spending time outdoors can be incredibly valuable for almost every aspect of human health and wellbeing. The outdoors, and especially natural spaces, have a pretty unique advantage. They offer infinite opportunities for the development, growth and restoration of the whole self. Nature can both challenge and heal your physical body, mind, emotions and spirit. Spending time in nature also supports connection with others, connection with the inner self, and a greater understanding and connection to the world around us.

Having worked for many years as a mental health worker in the public and private sectors I believe that mental health deserves much broader attention than what the current medical model allows. There is a tendency to focus narrowly on formal diagnosis of specific mental illnesses and treatments which frequently include medication and/or talking therapies.

I believe that we need to examine and adjust ALL the systems that impact mental health at an individual, family, workplace and community level. And we need to do this not only when someone experiences distress, but most importantly to prevent and minimise problems that inevitably will occur in life. Healthy lifestyle choices are particularly relevant to preventing and managing general mood disturbances such as feeling anxious, ‘down’ or mild to moderately depressed, stressed and tiredness (where there is no other known medical condition).

The Adventure Therapy Project MTB

Mental health can thrive when the foundations are strengthened

Thriving mental health is built upon strong lifestyle foundations of:

  • physical activity including general movement, exercise and activity levels
  • sleep
  • nutrition
  • mind skills, and
  • connection with the world around us including the natural world and social connections

A strong foundation does not mean that an individual will always bounce happily and easily through life, but it does mean that they are in a better position to manage their life stresses and challenges.

Your bio-chemistry changes when you move and exercise. It also changes with the nutrition you take into your body, the quality and quantity of sleep you have, the way you think, and the connections you have with other people and even when you spend time outdoors in nature. We need to value and adjust each of these systems to truly make a difference to mental health. Outdoor adventures go a very long way towards supporting each of these foundations.

The Adventure Therapy Project Nature Walk

The success of The Adventure Therapy Project

Two years ago I felt I needed to constantly justify why I wanted to take small groups of women on outdoor adventures. For years and years I provided talking therapies in closed rooms and saw patterns repeating themselves. Occasionally you can convince someone to get outdoors and get active for their health. But to actually take them outdoors and be active with them, that’s something pretty special. That helps to overcome some of the hurdles that get in the way. With increased exercise, connection with nature, new physical and mental skills, and new friendships, you’ll tend to sleep better as well.

The Adventure Therapy Project bouldering

What’s next for The Adventure Therapy Project?

It hasn’t been completely plain sailing for the Project. The funding targeted the drought affected community but when bushfires ravaged the region and filled the air with thick smoke, we pushed the pause button for a few months. Likewise, COVID-19 has impacted in a variety of ways. Following these disruptions the Project was extended for another six months and now it is complete. When another round of the same funding was announced in 2020, the Project was no longer eligible due to new guidelines which excluded face-to-face activities.

So, for now The Adventure Therapy Project has paused. I’m spending my time and energy this summer on creating some new online resources that I’ll be excited to share with the community shortly. If you’d like to be the first to hear about new releases and new adventure activities, be sure to subscribe to my Grounded Inspiration email.

The Adventure Therapy Project camping

Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for general information only. Please always seek individual advice from a health professional or crisis centre such as Lifeline (ph 13 11 14) if you have any concerns about your own mental health and safety or the mental health and safety of another person.

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Where to Mountain Bike on the Southern Downs

I get lots of queries about where you can mountain bike on the Southern Downs. This article gives you a summary of some of my favourite places to ride close to my home. If you live further afield, you might be interested to know what’s around here so that you can bring your bike on future visits. And if you think you’re not likely to ever come to the region, keep reading anyway because you’ll get some tips on how to find out where you can mountain bike in other regions as well.

MTB Southern Downs

MTB for fun, fitness and mental health

Over the last couple of years I’ve been running some mountain biking (MTB) skills clinics for beginners/intermediates in the region through The Adventure Therapy Project for Women. This community project is an initiative of Kathryn Walton Consulting and has been supported by funding from Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN. Supporting women to ride off road is important to me because I know there are many barriers that prevent women and girls getting out and having a go or consistently being involved with adventurous activities. I’ve been riding MTB for about fifteen years recreationally. I’ve competed in a few races but my love for MTB is all about getting out there for cross country rides with my family and friends and inspiring other women to do that too. It’s all about the fun, fitness and mental health.

Where is the Southern Downs?

The Southern Downs region is 1 ½ to 2 hours south west of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia, or about 1hour south of Toowoomba. The Southern Downs stretches down to the New South Wales border through the Granite Belt district and includes the regional towns of Warwick and Stanthorpe with dozens of smaller rural towns and villages throughout. There are plenty of dirt roads connecting our farm communities and groups regularly get together to ride and enjoy a coffee stop along the way.

The best places to MTB on the Southern Downs

Across the region you’ll discover National Parks, State Forests and lots of other parks. This is not a comprehensive list or description of every spot you can take your mountain bike but it will definitely get you started! You can also check the Trailforks app or website for trail information, and you can ask people who are familiar with the region. Jump on the Southern Downs Mountain Biking Club Facebook Page and ask questions anytime.

Mt Marlay MTB Bike Park, Stanthorpe

Trail head: Foxton Street, Stanthorpe
Trails: Green, blue and black cross country and downhill trails
Length: Currently total of 6-7kms of purpose-built single track with new trails under construction (as at December 2020)
Facilities: Picnic table, signage
Features: Lots of granite rock with short ascents and descents; naturally occurring rock obstacles; views; tank mural/artwork; close to CBD and accommodation
Best suited to: Riders with some prior experience riding off road who enjoy a variety of short loops
Club: Southern Downs Mountain Biking Club

Mt Marlay MTB

Broadwater State Forest / National Park

Entrance: via Glenlyon Drive or Plant Lane
Trails: Mostly green / blue level of difficulty; cross-country
Length: Currently approximately 15 kms of multi-use cross country trails, double track and dirt roads for walkers and MTB
Facilities: Limited facilities – be self-sufficient
Features: Sandy, rocky terrain only a few minutes from Stanthorpe CBD; old-style trails; close to Granite Belt Brewery and accommodation
Best suited to: Riders of all levels; can be very hot in summer

Passchendaele State Forest

Entrance: Multiple entry points off Amiens Road
Level of Difficulty: All levels of difficulty catered for. You are permitted to ride only on formed management roads and you may require a permit if you are organising a group ride or an event.
Length: You could easily ride all day in Passchendaele!
Facilities: Limited facilities – be self-sufficient
Features: Sandy, rocky and granite terrain with some steep sections; dries out quickly after rain; 20-25kms from Stanthorpe
Best suited to: Riders of all levels especially beginners and intermediate cross-country riders

Women's MTB Ride Passchendaele

Girraween National Park – Peak and Creek Trails

Northern Entrance: Mt Norman Road – approx 5-6kms east of the Bald Rock Creek Day Use Area

Southern Entrance: Mt Norman Day Use Area, Mt Norman Road
Level of Difficulty: Green, blue
Length: The Peak Trail is 10.6kms return and can be combined with the Creek Trail which is a 3.5km loop.
Facilities: Toilet at Mt Norman Day Use Area; signage on the trails
Features: Granite terrain with some sandy sections; spectacular wildflowers in spring; amazing views of Mt Norman and other parts of Girraween; 20-25kms from Stanthorpe; car-based camping at Castle Rock and Bald Rock Creek Camp Grounds; bush camping at designated sites along the Peak Trail (permit required); accommodation nearby
Best suited to: Beginners and intermediate cross-country riders

MTB at Girraween, Mt Norman

Other parklands

There are several other State Forests and regional parks suitable for MTB in the Southern Downs Region. Remember to check for alerts (closures, bushfires, harvesting etc) and whether you need a permit to access. Locations include:

  • Leyburn State Forest
  • Durakai State Forest
  • Gambubal State Forest
  • Condamine Gorge
Maryland National Park

Maryland is not technically part of the Southern Downs Region but it’s very close and runs along the border in New South Wales. You can access Maryland National Park from Cullendore Road by turning west into Maryland Cullendore Road and following this dirt road into the park. There are no facilities and you must be careful to leave all gates as you find them. Ride the length of Maryland National Park along the dirt road from Cullendore towards Dalveen. It’s a great ride for beginner and intermediate riders through beautiful forest.

Cullendore High Country

Cullendore High Country Camping is a privately owned establishment next to Maryland National Park right next to the Queensland border. This is a working farm with beautiful camp sites and dirt roads and tracks suitable for beginner riders including children. The owners are continuing to develop on-site MTB trails with direct access to Maryland National Park.

Safety first

For a fun day out, prepare and research your mountain bike adventure before leaving home.

  • Check the National Parks and State Forest alerts, Southern Downs Mountain Biking Club and Southern Downs Regional Council notifications
  • Take plenty of water and some food as many of these places do not have water or shops close by
  • Make sure your bike is suitable for the terrain that you’re going to ride
  • Be sun safe
  • Follow signage and advice from the authorities including COVID-19 regulations
  • Be First Aid aware and know how to manage snake risk and other injuries
  • Mobile phone service may not be reliable in all areas
  • Let someone know where you are going and what time you expect to be back

For more information go to:

You can also listen to this article via the Outdoors is my Therapy Podcast using the link below or via your favourite podcast player / app. Subscribe so you’ll always know when the latest episode is up!

Till next time, enjoy your outdoor adventures!

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Where to go walking in the Southern Downs

Whether you’re a visitor or a local, there are plenty of choices when it comes to walking in the Southern Downs. The region is about 1 ½ to 2 hours south west of Brisbane in Queensland. The two main urban centres are Warwick and Stanthorpe, with dozens of smaller rural towns and villages across the region.

This post is an overview of just some of the many walks you can choose from. Keep an eye out for future posts that will give you heaps more detail on a selection of the bushwalks and mountain bike trails in the region like the one I wrote last year on Bushwalking in Goomburra, Main Range National Park.

Thinking about taking up hiking? My blog post How To Get Started Bushwalking will get you going!

Walks in and around Warwick

Queen’s Park River Walk

Condamine River winds through parkland
Walking in the Southern Downs – the beautiful River Walk in Warwick

The Southern Downs region promotes 5 different urban walks close to the Warwick CBD which you can follow along on this map. The popular River Walk at Queen’s Park has recently been extended past Hamilton Oval in the direction of Gillam Park. The River Walk is also suitable for bicycles, scooters, prams and wheelchairs with easy access to toilet facilities and picnic tables. There’s plenty of shade and a fenced off-leash area for dogs.

Walks in and around Stanthorpe

Quart Pot Creek

Quart Pot Creek is an absolute gem in the centre of Stanthorpe flanked by parklands on both banks with extensive walking and cycling paths, gardens, picnic tables, toilets and play equipment. You can access this beautiful green belt from many points along its length including Apex Park, Lions Park, Heritage Park and from the Stanthorpe Visitor Information Centre.

Mt Marlay

Mt Marlay is a small bushland reserve in the middle of Stanthorpe, popular for many years with locals on their regular walking routes. There are a couple of short, marked walking tracks on Mt Marlay which you can see on the map below. The regional council and the Southern Downs Mountain Bike Club have recently begun developing a small network of mountain bike trails here which are clearly marked so that you don’t accidentally wander off the dedicated walking tracks onto the mountain bike tracks.

walking in the southern downs - Mt Marlay map
Walking and MTB trails at Mt Marlay, Stanthorpe

Donnelly’s Castle

Donnelly’s Castle  is about a 20km drive to the north west of Stanthorpe. Access is from Castle Lane which comes off Donnelly’s Castle Road at Pozieres. Donnelly’s Castle is a natural formation of the locally occurring granite rocks and boulders which apparently served as a fabulous hideout for the bushranger known as Thunderbolt. You can really imagine the truth of this legend when you scramble up, around and through the rocks and peer into the distance from the lookout at the top. Kids and adults alike are bound to have a heap of fun here exploring the ‘castle’. I’d recommend close supervision of young children and keeping a keen eye out for snakes. Toilet facilities and picnic tables are available.

Girraween National Park

Rocky expanse of Girraween National Park
Walking in the Southern Downs is stunning at Girraween National Park

Girraween is about a half hour drive south of Stanthorpe. This unique national park is a landscape of stark contrasts. Girraween is famous for its abundant wildflowers and its rugged granite outcrops. The national park is also home to an extensive variety of birds, kangaroos, frogs, reptiles and other wildlife and is a popular place for day visitors and campers. As I write this article in January 2020, the camp grounds have been closed for some time due to ongoing drought, and the area has suffered from recent bushfires. As with all natural environments, Girraween changes with the seasons and I’ve loved watching the cycles of regeneration here over many years. There are signed bushwalks at Girraween ranging from 280metres to 11kms. Or simply explore the granite rock pools near the day use area. Toilet facilities, picnic tables and BBQs available.

You can read more about Girraween in my Great Backpacking Adventures series.

Sundown National Park

Sundown National Park rocky gorge
A rocky gorge at Sundown National Park

Sundown National Park can be accessed by most conventional vehicles from the south near Glenlyon Dam, or from the north off Texas Road and onto Nundubbermere Road. A third access point is along Sundown Road via Ballandean however once at the National Park the tracks become rough and steep so a 4WD is recommended along here. Sundown has several walks of varying lengths and difficulty as well as some camping areas. Look at the Sundown National Park website to plan your trip before heading out there as it is more remote than other regional parks with fewer facilities.

Walks in and around Allora and Goomburra

Dalrymple Creek Park

Dalrymple Creek Park is a shady park along the banks of Dalrymple Creek in Allora. The walking trail leads you along the banks of the creek with toilet facilities, picnic tables, BBQs, and play equipment along the way.

Goomburra Section, Main Range National Park

Waterhole in Goomburra National park
The Cascades walk in Goomburra National Park

The Goomburra section of Main Range National Park is about 40kms east of Allora. Sections of the road into the National Park are unpaved and at times can be difficult for low clearance vehicles to navigate. After rain there can be several water crossings into the entrance of the park. A day use area and camping sites are available within the National Park as well as toilets and a variety of walking tracks that begin at the camping and day use areas, as well as other walking tracks that can be accessed from Lookout Road. Goomburra walks range from less than a kilometre to 12 kilometres long. All the walks are on unpaved surfaces and can include steep sections, natural obstacles (eg tree roots) and creek crossings. Spectacular views of the surrounding valleys and ranges can be seen from the high points of some of the walks.

Walks in and around Killarney

Queen Mary Falls, Main Range National Park

Queen Mary Falls
Queen Mary Falls in Main Range National Park

Queen Mary Falls is about 45kms east of Warwick. It offers a beautiful day use area with car parking, picnic tables, toilets, water and BBQs as well as a small kiosk across the road.  The walk to The Falls is a 2 km circuit through the forest to the bottom of the Falls and back up again. The walk is steep in places, has stairs and is not suitable for prams or wheelchairs. The causeway at the bottom can be slippery.

If you’re looking for a shorter walk that’s suitable for prams, wander along to the two lookouts on either side of the Falls just a couple of hundred metres from the car park.

Browns Falls

Browns Falls is accessed from Spring Creek Road as you travel from Killarney towards Queen Mary Falls. Park your vehicle at Brown Falls Park where there is play equipment, picnic tables, BBQs and toilet facilities. Follow the track under the road and along the watercourse in an easterly direction for about 600 metres. The track is not well defined in places and you will need to scramble or rock hop along the watercourse. Take care as it can be very slippery when wet. The falls plunge into a beautiful waterhole surrounded by rock.

Walks near Maryvale

Cunningham’s Gap Section, Main Range National Park

Cunningham’s Gap is at the top of the Range on the Cunningham Highway about 90 minutes south west of Brisbane or 45 minutes east of Warwick. The closest town in the region is Maryvale only 15 minutes on the western side of the range.

There are two main access point to the walks in this section of the National park. At the top of the range known as “The Gap” there is a small car park and toilet facilities on the northern side of the highway with additional limited parking along the southern side of the highway. If you are crossing the highway to access the facilities or the walks on the other side, take great care and follow any signage that has been placed there for your safety as this is a very busy highway. Most of the walks are accessed from the northern side of the highway.

Kathryn looks amazed and wide-eyed at the rainforest in Main Range National Park
The rainforest in the Cunningham’s Gap section of Main Range National Park is stunning!

The alternative place to access The Gap walking tracks (and my personal favourite because it’s off the highway!) is via the West Gap Creek picnic area on the western side of The Gap. From Warwick, West Gap Creek picnic area is on your left just past “Stacey’s at the Gap” a couple of kilometres before you reach the The Gap. There are two small car parking areas, an extensive grassy picnic area, toilets, water, picnic tables and access to the Box Forest Walking Track which takes you about 2.5 kilometres through rainforest uphill to The Gap and the other walks. Walks here range from 1.6 kms to 12 kms long with varying levels of difficulty. Once again, check the National Parks site if you intend visiting as there were extensive bushfires through the Park in late 2019 resulting in closures of most walks throughout Main Range.

Some things to remember when walking in the Southern Downs!

There are simply SO MANY wonderful choices when it comes to walking in the Southern Downs. With so much natural beauty surrounded by a rural landscape, it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind. But safety always comes first! Here are a few reminders to help you have a truly fabulous time whilst minimising risks:

  • Always prepare by doing your research before leaving home
  • Check the National Parks ALERTS web page for closures and other advice, or contact the Rangers at the Park you plan to visit
  • Take plenty of drinking water and food for everyone in your walking group as drinking water may not be available
  • Wear comfortable closed shoes suitable for the terrain
  • Protect yourself from the sun
  • Follow signage and advice from authorities such as staying on track and taking all your rubbish with you
  • Be First Aid aware and be well prepared including knowing how to manage snake risk and other injuries
  • Mobile service may not be reliable in all areas
  • Let someone know where you are going and what time you expect to be back
  • Make sure you have plenty of fuel in your vehicle – some parks like Sundown National Park are a long way from fuel stations

For more information about walking in the Southern Downs

For more information about the parklands across the Southern Downs region, go to the Southern Downs Regional Council website or check with the Visitor Information Centres or the many tourism operators.

Let me know your favourite places and spaces for walking in the Southern Downs and further afield! And join us over on our community Facebook Group Outdoors is my Therapy where you can share ideas and inspiration no matter where you live or how you love to spend your time outside!

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

On Your Bikes: Our First Women and Girls MTB Ride

Women in sport is a vital part of the success and growth of any club, and so last Sunday we invited women and girls along for a ‘women-only’ ride at Passchendaele State Forest. We had nine women along for the ride and I can safely say that every one of them was very brave for simply turning up to the fresh and frosty start at only 7 degrees Celsius! This was simply the beginning of our inspiring adventure into the forest.

We were heralded by shrieks of awesomeness as some of the women ventured onto single track for the first time; laughs of newly formed friendships as we warmed up and peeled off the layers; and words of encouragement and advice as the newbies mixed it with the more experienced riders in the bunch. We climbed the hilly and rocky terrain of the forest, notching up the miles and the skill level, and enjoyed the relative ease of the gentle downhill sections. We marvelled at the winter weather which provided perfect conditions for the ride despite the chilly start! The bright blue sky, the cheeky breeze, the green forest, the red toadstools, the black cockatoos, the lively kangaroos and the stunning view from “the little big rock” were all there to show off what an amazing world we share (and how far we’d ridden throughout the morning!)

There were a couple of ‘offs’ and a few sore butts by the end of the ride, but so many treasured moments of fun, laughter and togetherness. Bring on the next ride, I say!

The recently formed Southern Downs Mountain Biking Club is gathering momentum. Membership is expanding and the community is supporting its efforts to provide safe and fun riding opportunities in the local area. With plans for MTB trails to be built right in the heart of Stanthorpe on Mt Marlay, club members have been regularly gathering for social rides further afield.

So stay tuned….. We’re planning lots more rides and activities for everyone – beginners, families, and all abilities. We’ll be exploring various locations across the Darling Downs and everyone is invited to join us.

If you would like more information, check out Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/520911538119350/

….. or contact me – your women’s ride co-ordinator 🙂

 

 

Warwick Women Mentors: The Challenge, The Passion, and Why It Is Important

Warwick Women Mentors: The Challenge, The Passion, and Why It Is Important” is a ‘dinner and speaker’ event celebrating Queensland Women’s Week on the Southern Darling Downs. 

Catherine Travers from Condamine Headwaters Landcare Group was successful in accessing funding through the Queensland Government to co-ordinate and host an event during Queensland Women’s Week 2017 with this year’s theme “Be involved. Lead the way.” Kathryn Walton Consulting is assisting Catherine Travers with the project.

As one of the organisers of this wonderful event, I have to say I’m really looking forward to the evening especially hearing from our guest speakers who are all Warwick women in leadership positions. Our speakers will be sharing their stories on a professional challenge they have overcome related to their gender; their motivation, drive and commitment to their roles; and their perspectives on why having women in leadership roles is important.

Our speakers include:

  • Mayor Tracy Dobie, Mayor of Southern Downs Regional Council
  • Julia Keogh, President of Warwick Chamber of Commerce
  • Debb Stevens, Store Manager Bunnings
  • Jessica Carey, President of Warwick Rotaract Club, Business Owner
  • Kaitlin Matthews, Engineer

Table conversations, laughs, and inspiration will abound throughout the evening. There will be some special give-aways, and everyone will take home some new ideas to challenge gender stereotypes and expand opportunities for women in our community. This will be a great night for young women who are considering their future career paths and life choices, however we have now opened ticket sales up to all ages. Men and women are welcome.

Your $10 ticket gives you a seat at a table in one of Warwick’s favourite cafes, a scrumptious meal followed by sweets, tea / coffee, a cool drink AND a fabulous night of socialising with new and old friends AND you get to share the unique stories from our guest speakers about the challenges and joys of women in leadership.

WHO WILL JOIN ME?

Date: Friday 10th March 2017

Time: 5:45pm for 6pm start; Finish 9pm

Venue: Belle Vue Cafe, Warwick

Cost: $10 per person

Online ticketing: https://www.trybooking.com/ORDG

This event is supported by YWCA Queensland and the Queensland Government.

 

Women Empowered: Life Without Limits

“Life Without Limits” is the first Women Empowered retreat for 2017 being held in Warwick on the Southern Darling Downs on Saturday 25th February.

This tranquil day of RETREAT will have Kathryn Walton guiding a small group of women through reflections, discussions and creative activities as we explore the perceptions and experiences of  barriers, obstacles, restrictions and limitations in our lives. Identifying and acknowledging these issues is a step towards EMPOWERING ourselves to step into the LIFE we want to live, the ATTITUDE we want to be living with, and the very real POSSIBILITIES this opens up for us. We want to do more than survive – WE WANT TO THRIVE!

By taking time for your own self-care, you will be modelling effective life strategies to your family, colleagues and the wider community of women AND men AND children. Remember, you can claim a 10% DISCOUNT when you register with a friend!

Refreshments, a delicious morning tea, and workshop materials will be supplied for participants. In order to keep costs as low as possible, please BYO lunch. Refrigeration is available, as well as crockery and cutlery.

So ….. are you ready to LIVE a LIFE without limits? Information and registration is available on the link below, or email me for more information 🙂

https://www.trybooking.com/ONZJ

kwalton@condamineassist.com.au

Summer Riding: learning from the flies, mozzies, heat, and snakes

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SUMMER ….. for many of my friends summer means beaches, swimming, ice creams and holidays. But for me, I associate summer with something different – flies, heat, mozzies, heat rash, snakes ….. did I mention the heat? And so far this summer there’s been an abundance of all the above!

MTB Bike Trail Fatigued from the heat of the day and the associated sleep disturbance through the night, I struggle to enjoy my mountain bike riding as usual. There’s a narrow time frame to get outside in order to avoid the oppressive heat. Yet even then it seems too hot, there are too many flies and mozzies, I still get heat rash all over (just like a baby, yes, including ….. well ….. including everywhere!) and there is the ever-present foreboding possibility of [GASP] snakes. Not just any snakes though. The snakes round this part of the world (Australia) are the deadliest on the planet, and in my little corner of the globe (Darling Downs, Queensland) they are more likely to be deadly than not!

So many worries, so many stresses, so many obstacles to keeping active in my summer time, so many internal voices directing me away from summer MTB and exercise in general. Too hot to eat. Too hot to sleep. Too hot to play. Too hot to be sociable. Bah humbug!

treeSitting down at home after a particularly hot day (it’s still over 30deg C at 7:30pm), I feel the faint breeze starting to work its magic, gently wafting through the windows, sharing its spirit and energy with me, re-energising and refreshing my body, mind and soul.

The sunset painted across the sky in pink and purple and orange reminds me of the varied and colourful world we share with billions of others on this planet, and that I am privileged for having shelter, clothing, food and clean water to drink.

Listening to the kookaburras calling to each other I can only imagine what stories they are sharing about their day. What story might I share from my day? A story of grumpiness and resentment? Or a story of gratitude and celebration of life?

The cicadas amplify their tune as darkness falls and I remember that there is so much more to this world than what I see at first glance and experience directly. Remember the little people, the little creatures, the unseen and unsong heroes, those without a voice in our society.

The stars and the moon come out to play as the evening cools off. Maybe this is my time to play too. How can I use the cool of the day better? And how can I make better make use of my time during the searing heat?

I hear a menagerie of other wildlife settling down for the night, or beginning their nightly rounds. How would it be to organise my life more in tune with the natural systems and patterns of the world around me?

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I remind myself I have so much more to learn about life and myself. By tuning into my personal experience of summer, I can find lessons that will teach me patience, tolerance, acceptance and compassion.

I can acknowledge my internal voices that convincingly tell me I ‘should’ be able to control my environment and my reactions better, that I haven’t achieved anything worthwhile today, and that my level of frustration and annoyance reflects the injustice of the summer conditions.

Summer riding (or not riding as the case may be) gives me the opportunity to learn about what matters most, what I can legitimately control and influence, the importance of pacing myself and being in tune with my inner and outer worlds, and learning to choose more wisely which of my inner voices I’ll listen to today.

farmsceneathoughtisathought

Logo 2 shorter hairSo tomorrow, with temperatures forecast at 37deg C (again), I choose something different. I choose to stay indoors to do core strength training (something I tend to neglect anyway!) instead of riding outdoors. I’ll have the fans on and a bottle of icy water beside me. No snakes. No mozzies. No flies. And the heat …. well there isn’t much I can do to control the weather, but some of my choices can make that somewhat less of a problem. I choose to be grateful for the choices I DO have, and to make the most of them. BUT ….. I expect that sometimes I’ll need reminding about that again! 

Uncovering ‘FUN’ in the midst of the seriousness of life

whitedaisies

Last year I participated in ‘Uplift Women’s Wellness Day 2015’ in Warwick. It was the culmination of months of hard work by the Community Network of Warwick team, its many co-opted members, and dozens of supporters. All the planning, negotiating, advocating, collaborating, promoting and presenting saw 80 women actively engaged in seminars and mini-workshops that promoted health and wellness. I presented a seminar near the tail end of the day titled “Navigating the Next Stage of Your Journey”. This article is based on my presentation.

upliftheader

The smiling faces I was surrounded by were having a contagious effect on everyone in the room, including me. Life can be SO serious, and for me, the women around me were providing that incredibly important reminder to have fun.

Earlier in the day I had participated in a workshop session on personality. As the facilitator posed a series of questions, we were required to navigate to various parts of the room which indicated our responses. Lo and behold I found myself sharing space with like-minded “conscientious” women. One of the things we discovered we had in common was the deep and serious attitude we bring to many aspects of our lives: parenting, relationships, work and study, health and sickness, paying the bills, the state of the world – it’s all serious business! And in our serious attitude to life, we also recognised we had an appreciation for organisation and planning.

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As the wellness day continued, I heard and saw so many other inspiring ideas about women’s health and wellness that I found myself seriously [over]thinking what it is that I needed to do to take better care of me. And there is a certain pressure in this that can be counter-productive – there is a tendency to try to fit yet another activity into our already hectic lives.

On reflection, the real souvenir I picked up at the wellness day was the plain simple idea of making space for fun. Fun is not something that I HAVE to schedule in, just ANOTHER thing I have to fit into my day. Fun is an attitude that I can choose, and I can allow it to permeate the seriousness of life, bringing an experience of joy and relaxation to many things I do.

Following this moment of insight, I’ve been focusing on allowing a sense of fun to permeate my day. You could say I’ve been on a pursuit to discover more about fun!

dklhelmetsA few years ago I began mountain biking, so obviously I already know a bit about fun! But even mountain biking risks crossing the line into the territory of ‘serious business’ for those of us with the conscientious and perfectionist personality types!

Some days I need to work really hard at focusing my attitude of ‘fun’ on my inner compass. Fun can look different on different days.

Some days the best fun is simply rolling along wherever we happen to go and soaking up as much of nature as I possibly can; having a picnic in the middle of nowhere and lying back staring up into the tall trees to the blue sky and clouds that seem infinitely far away.

Some days fun can be found in the competitiveness of a spontaneous sprint up a hill to dlrockrestsee who can make it to the top first, puffing and laughing so hard that talking just isn’t going to happen!

Other days the riding is the sort that absolutely scares the pants off me and I’m holding on for dear life, storm clouds going through my mind “What the heck am I doing here? Exercise is supposed to make happy hormones, right? Then why am I so terrified!” And then when it’s all over, there’s that electric feeling of elation, knowing I conquered a fear, knowing that I’m out there having a go and living life as fully as I can while I can. And that’s fun!

Logo 2 shorter hair

So seriously people, point your attitude towards fun. Let it take you an a journey that will colour your life with joy and contentment, friendship and fellowship, lightness and balance. There is always time and space for an attitude of fun.