A Crucifix Almost Cut It

How to build a Christmas tree that means something

The definition of a Christmas tree has always been pretty loose in my household. Often it meant propping a dead branch we’d found on the ground against the wall. Before they bought into the fibre-optic revolution, my grandparents had one of those metallic red plastic ones. And once, when I was little, Dad went out and felled a huge pine tree from the back paddock of the farm.

A Timms Trap and a Bag of Apples

Man versus possum

My wife and I just bought a house. Mum has taken responsibility for the garden. Our place backs onto a neighbour’s overgrown section. Beyond that is a stand of blue gums. We have possums. At night they cross the wasteland and eat the new roses and strawberries.

Set a Course for Adventure

The banana boat

Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/anotherpintplease/3690169500/lightbox/

Like the Love Boat before it, the banana boat has connotations of romance and wistful luxury. Yet you can achieve this in the wilderness with nothing more than a piece of fruit, chocolate, tinfoil and a campfire.

All 10-Speeds

Cycling State Highway One

Always a day dreamer, rarely a doer. I was not an untypical teenager in preferring the gloomy sanctuary of my bedroom and the blue glow of the TV to the world beyond. I knew that adventure and experience were out there, but those were things other people did. They meant taking risks or looking foolish.

I Was Afraid of a Lot of Things in There

Ashleigh Young revisits the dense bushland of her childhood


The bush that grew over the hills above our house wasn’t pretty, and it didn’t make an easy sense. It was grubby and damp, a muddle of tree roots, rotted tree trunks, supplejack, and periwinkle – a scrambling, hairless weed with tubular flowers. None of the trees were conducive to treehut building. They were too spindly, too tall, or too difficult, their trunks lathered in moss.

The Swiss

Some thoughts on pocket knife ownership

I was nine when I was given my first pocket knife. It was a dainty penknife, forgotten in a bag of old pencils, pens and other desk junk. Sleek and stainless with Teachers Whiskey engraved along one side. Within minutes of finding it, I carved a nice deep notch out of my thumb. The knife was taken off me.

The Art of the Hut

Drawing New Zealand’s backcountry huts

Our backcountry huts are made for shelter and not much else. They’re humble in contrast to the bush and mountains - rectangles of plywood, corrugated iron and tanalised pine. But like many utilitarian things these same qualities give them a beauty of their own, and few trampers would deny the appeal of a hut after a long day of hiking.

The Backcountry of the Mind

Pat White encounters a wildly disorientated man

Come evening in a hut when strangers meet. Quiet surveys made of the appearance of packs, each tramper’s clothing, how a person moves into and around the hut, allow that first and often superficial impression to be drawn. How do we treat our new company?

First Catch Your Pie

Post tramp decisions

As we come down to flat land and the trail is near an end our thoughts turn to food and our decision making skills are put to the test yet again. What will be our first meal now the menu is no longer limited to the freeze dried or portable?

Hell, That Cloud Seems to be Moving in Pretty Fast

The National Film Unit vs. Hypothermia

Moody electronic soundtrack, genre blurring, jump cuts and abrupt edits - the experimental classic of 1971 is a warning on the dangers of hypothermia. The year of A Clockwork Orange and The Last Picture Show, was also the year of the National Film Unit’s What a Stupid Way to Die.


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