Climbing Suburban Mountains: Part 2 – Mt Gravatt Outlook


In every walk with nature, one receives far more than one seeks.       John Muir

At four thirty it was still dark but the birds were singing. Loudly. Realising there was no chance of more sleep I decided to make the most of my day and begin it with a hike up a nearby suburban mountain.

Mt Gravatt Outlook Reserve is a quartz peak within the Toohey Forest Conservation Park  in Brisbane. As with my previous hike/climb (Mt Coolum) I doubt it would even rank on a sliding scale of world mountains. Nevertheless, it is a significant landmark in an otherwise flat suburban landscape, just 10 kilometers south east of Brisbane city center. The “hill” and surrounding suburb was named after Lieutenant George Gravatt who commanded the Moreton Bay settlement for a short time many years ago, in 1843.


The luxury of hiking this mountain, for me, is there is no travel involved. I simply have to walk out my backdoor and into the forest that winds its way up the little hillock. The lookout affords stunning views of Brisbane city as well as clear views of the Moreton Bay Islands, the D’Aguilar Range, Mt Coottha and the Glass House Mountains. The walk is quite interesting too.


Toohey Forest is named after an Irishman, James Toohey, who made his home in the forest in 1872. Interestingly, his family maintained ownership of the lands until 1945 when Brisbane City Council acquired them. The park spans 260 hectares. Its vastness is matched by its variety. This is a Eucalypt forest replete with vines, closed scrub, an abundant understory of acacias, sheoaks and banksias as well as our very distinctive Australian grass trees. Wildlife is abundant too. Walkers can enjoy the songs of kookaburras, thrushes, lorikeets, honey eaters, currawongs and magpies, to name a few. Of course there are possums and bats as evidenced by their fecal remains. Large ant nests provide food for echidnas. I’ve seen lizards, skinks and geckos but not a goanna yet.

As with life, there are many paths that can be taken to get to the top. There are sealed bike paths, dirt tracks and even smaller ‘goat’ tracks, created by mountain bike riders, one can follow. The forest is so dense and beautifully populated with flora and fauna that one is quite shocked when the sounds of urban traffic encroach on the peace and tranquility. Toohey Forest straddles a major freeway and nature lovers wander under it by way of a pedestrian tunnel. On the other side one is required to wander through the grounds of a university, another surreal experience, before diving back into the cocoon of the forest.


After a gentle undulating wander the final section, a steep incline, requires a little push but nothing too tough or taxing before emerging at the outlook. There is a little café at the top. Which sadly was not open when I arrived just after dawn.


For me the journey is approximately a three hour return hike. This is a pretty decent way to decompress, get into nature and enjoy moving. What I love about suburban forests is that there are so many entry points and people can enjoy tramps of their own design based on time and energy levels.

The beauty of having a forest in your backyard is that you can go off on a hike in the relative wilderness and still return home in time for breakfast.

Next stop: Hmmm, should it be Mt Tambourine, Mt Barney, Mt Tibrogargan, Maroon perhaps? I’ll meet you on the next peak.

Happy wandering,



Giving up to get it right.

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance. Life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated. Confucius

Image by Flickr.

Image by Flickr.

I was discussing health and wellness with friends recently and we agreed that there are so many conflicting articles, studies and recommendations regarding health, lifestyle and fitness that it really was no wonder people were confused.

For example: should you subscribe to the three meals a day camp or should you enjoy three meals and two snacks or is intermittent fasting, where you skip breakfast and consume your calories between the hours of 11 am and 7 pm, the better option?

Similarly, is low carb high fat, Paleo, raw food, grain free, sugar free, high carb low fat, Aitkens, blood type, Mediterranean the way to go with diet and food choices?

Let’s not even start with exercise and supplements because the list goes on.

I like to educate myself on healthy choices, new research and the latest discoveries in the health and wellness field. Not everything I read resonates and I’ve come to understand that certain protocols do not fit everyone’s lifestyle, budget, personal taste or health requirements. I’ve been alarmed, intrigued and tempted to try some of the tips I’ve learnt about.

Recently, in the face of some health hiccups, I’ve been overwhelmed by the latest and greatest offerings, by well meant advice and practitioner recommendations. I’ve tried and tested, I’ve followed and dabbled and been left wanting.

In the end, I’ve come back to what I knew all along but ignored. I’ve just got to do what’s best for me. But how?

Like a lightening bolt it struck me. You’ve got to give up what you know and listen to what you need instead.  Simple, but not easy. We are not used to tuning in and listening to what our bodies require.  Our bodies know how to heal. Our bodies can tell us what nutrients we need. We just need to observe carefully and pay attention.

imageSo this week I’ve made a food plan based on what really resonates with me and resisted the temptation to swing toward popular opinion. I’ve stopped thinking and engaged my intuition instead.  I’ve created a list of meals that delight my senses, appeal to my taste buds and contain healthy, fresh food that will energise and heal my body. I stocked up at the markets, my health food store and supplemented with a few items from the grocery store. I’ve left behind my “regular” eating plan and I’m actually really enjoying the change. I feel really different about food, I feel vital energy seeping into my body, my mind is more alert and I am not fussing over calories. The most interesting offshoot is that I’m not thinking about food all day long which is something I’ve always done.

I reckon Henry Ford was right; “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”

What do you know that’s not working for you? Is there an area in your life where you need to give up what you know and listen to what you need instead?


Pilates. A pushover? Think again!

If it doesn’t challenge you. It doesn’t change you.

Fred DeVito

Image courtesy of A Balanced Life.

Image courtesy of A Balanced Life.

I attended my first ever Pilates class this week thinking it would be a walk in the park compared to an Ashtanga yoga class. Wasn’t I in for a shock!

I have a regular yoga practice and while I attend a weekly two hour class my home practice isn’t as conscientiously consistent as I’d like it to be. I rarely practice for two hours at home, instead carving out between thirty minutes and an hour most days. So I’m not exactly a yoga master but all things considered I thought a Pilates class would not be as demanding as my yoga practice. Well, I was wrong about that!

Talk about being floored. Almost immediately my bravado and smugness were shattered. I was surprised by how intense some moves were and how strong one’s core had to be to hold others. I was confused by the breathing, which appeared to be opposite to what I’m used to in yoga, and I wasn’t prepared for the weird sensation and lack of coordination when, lying face down, I was asked to move my leg in a circle. My brain and limb seemed disconnected.

Not wanting to admit defeat I soldiered on and my ‘grin and bear it don’t let anyone know how hard you are finding this’ attitude dissolved into a pleasant challenge. Once I settled into being out of my comfort zone I began to really enjoy the demands of the class as well as the mental and physical hurdles being presented. Before I knew it the class was over, I was walking out the door, thanking the instructor and telling her I’d see her next week.

Yes, I’m going back for more.

My greatest hope is that Fred DeVito is right, I expect to see some fantastic changes in my resilience, my resolve and my abs as a result of this new Pilates challenge I’ve undertaken.

What small challenge are you willing to undertake to see changes in your life?