Written by David Everett
I’ve turned to face the dawn on top of a mountain and swam naked in a lake high in the remains of a long dormant volcano.
I’ve hunted for my own dinner and drank the sweet water of a hidden spring. I must confess to using a bit of poetic licence in these claims.
It wasn’t a mountain, only it’s juvenile cousin – Mount Warning in Northern NSW.
I wasn’t naked in the volcanic lake but I have briefly skinny dipped in a creek.
Hunting is accurate but was for rabbits on a farm when I was 8, and which, by the way, tasted really good in a stew.
Actually the sweet water bit is entirely accurate and occurred on multiple occasions.
We weren’t a sporting family but we were always encouraged to be outside playing. My brothers and I grew up participating in Cubs then graduating to Scouts. I still know my dib dib dibs and dob dob dobs. I have my leather waggle stashed away somewhere with a few other childhood bits’n’pieces that I’m not prepared to let go.
The scouting movement was, and I’m sure still is, a great educator of outside activities. I learnt how to make a fire without petrol. I learnt how to navigate through the bush and tie knots that I’m still using to this day. And even if it rained every, single, damn time you went on a Scout camp, you still had a lot of fun. Sometimes it was a light shower, other times flooding downpours. I can only ever recall one Scout camp when there wasn’t some form of precipitation falling on us.
It wasn’t just formal activities where the outside happened. I remember sneaking out of the house for early morning bike rides through the suburbs. Looking for mushrooms and being taught how to fish for yabbies by my Dad. Spending days, countless days, exploring all the creeks of The Gap catching turtles and tickling lung fish, and then just all the other semi-adventurous kidstuff.
It carried on past that though as I went on to work as a Ranger with the Brisbane Forest Park. Also I spent a few years in the Australian Army Reserve which was in itself a great environment. However, I wasn’t mature enough to make it work – at that time at least. I would consider it now though.
I’ve now got an indoors job and really like the environmental stability that comes with air-conditioning.
Still I feel most at peace when I’m outside – especially if there is water or a rainforest involved.
If I had a spiritual centre it could well be the Jenolan Caves.
Given that it’s underground and enclosed I wonder if it still counts as ‘outside’ though?