Tag Archives: mt warning

Winter update: books, mountains and Archie

We don’t bother too much with winter in Queensland, but this year it feels like we’ve overlooked it entirely. A couple of chilly mornings and that was it, which might explain why my photo gallery is looking so much more impressive than my word count. It’s been too glorious to be indoors at my desk. And who can resist pointing a camera at a bright blue winter sky or a perfect sunrise.

Certainly not me.

Unfortunately my propensity for posting winter snaps has prompted a few awkward questions, like: Are you still writing?

Well, yes, of course. (Social media counts, right?)

In truth I’m working on a project that is proving a little trickier than I had hoped. Some stories just fly off the keyboard, others need to be prodded and poked and considered from every angle. They reveal themselves slowly. Unfortunately the latter seems to be the case for this one. Hopefully the finished product will be worth the wait!

I can’t offer too much detail, but I can give you a taste of what I’ve been up to these past few months, when I haven’t been prodding my story.


Book Week always puts a spring in my step.  This year I was invited to be part of the Ashgrove Literature Festival and also joined the celebrations at Faith Lutheran College, Redlands, sharing stories with an amazing bunch of kids who obviously really love reading. And what an inspirational group of  librarians, teachers and staff I worked with during the week. Three cheers for you all. I don’t know how you do that every day!


Mt Warning (above): The remains of a volcanic plug in the Tweed River region of NSW. Magnificent tropical rainforest and stunning views over Cape Byron and the Border Range. A four hour return walk if you keep up the pace. The final stretch is steep and rocky. Make sure you wear appropriate footwear and watch your step!

Nothing beats writer’s block like a good walk in the bush on a glorious winter’s day!

Mt Cooroora (below): Best known as the venue for the annual Pomona King and Queen of the Mountain race. It’s a steep climb but the views over the Sunshine Coast hinterland are definitely worth the trek. Race winners get up and back in less than 30 minutes, but I’d allow one to two hours.


It’s Archibald Prize time!

A visit to the Art Gallery of NSW to see the finalists in Australia’s most prestigious portrait prize is a must, but getting the chance to frock up, admire the portraits and meet a few of the artists is a very special treat. I was lucky enough to be mingling with celebs of the art world last week: getting the low down from Prize winner Mitch Cairns on the vibrant portrait of his artist-partner, Agatha Gothe-Snape, and gleaning some insight into  the work of super-talented, Kim Leutwyler, who painted football star, Michelle Heyman, to secure a place in the Archibald exhibition.


Loved your work and your stories, and thank you for making me look cooler than I actually am!

Thanks also to my ever-glam book-group buddy, Elizabeth Blackwood for keeping me company while my hubby shared sartorial notes with iconic comedian Barry Humphries. Magenta rules!


You come across the most surprising characters at the Archibald Prize Exhibition.

So, that was my winter. Now, back to some proper work!









Climbing Mt Warning

A Spa isn’t the only option for a girls’ weekend away.

Try this simple test. Tell your husband you need a weekend away at a spa and you’re likely to get a disdainful look in response. Suggest you’re planning to climb a mountain with some like-minded fitness enthusiasts and your partner will probably offer to pack your bags. Add a bit of a challenge to a girls’ weekend away and everyone is a winner. You get a break from the family and he gets the prospect (more imagined than real) of a more mentally and physically toned wife.

Climbing Mt Warning
Climbing Mt Warning

Mt Warning, in the Tweed Valley of northern NSW, is the perfect diversion for many reasons. It is relatively easy to climb. It stands out on the horizon, making it a perfect focus for boasting on the way to Byron Bay. And it is not far from the luxurious Peppers Salt Resort beach house suites at Kingscliff.

No summit attempt should be made without adequate preparation. And ours was rigorous. Hours were spent discussing how many days away from home would be needed for a five hour mountain walk. Transport arrangements were discussed over tapas and logistics were analysed over mezze. My training peaked with a walk to the summit of Mt Tinbeerwah in the Noosa hinterland (a fifteen minute walk from the car park that is suitable for wheel chairs). Mostly we relied on the rumour that the 4.4 kilometre trail to the summit of Mount Warning was just a bush walk. It is. But it’s a very steep one.

Mt Warning stands at 1157 metres and is the plug of a once massive volcano that erupted some 20 million years. Wind and rain carved out a huge bowl around the magna chamber of the volcano forming the Tweed Valley, leaving the much harder rock of Mt Warning in tact.

The summit of Mt Warning is the first place on the Australian mainland to feel the sun. Reaching the summit at day break is apparently a very rewarding experience with the  Cape Byron headland and the ocean stretching away to the east and the ridges of the Border Ranges out to the west. Of course, scrambling up a mountain in darkness can be a bit risky. Setting off after breakfast, before the sun gets too hot and the crowds arrive, is a more practical start time.

The trail begins with a testing incline through magnificent rainforest. Then the well-maintained path winds ever upwards for almost four kilometres, until the trees thin out. The sea breaks into view and the real challenge begins. The rocky summit of the mountain looms just ahead. As I size up the final phase of the climb, I wonder if perhaps I should have dedicated a bit more time to the physical aspect of my preparation.

A comfortable rest stop with seats and plenty of shade marks the end of the bush walk and the start of a vertical rock climb. Fortunately a chain has been bolted into the bare rock face to assist climbers up the final few hundred metres of the mountain. Conveniently located trees are also a welcome aid. Their branches have been worn smooth from countless hands clutching them for assistance on the way up and gripping them for support on the way down.

On this morning, Mt Warning has drawn hikers of all ages and fitness levels. Children as young as eight, appear to be effortlessly gliding up to the summit. An elderly lady with a walking cane is pressing on to the top. A stream of sweaty men in racing singlets weave their way through the line of climbers as part of an all day  challenge that looks certain to shorten the life of some of the participants.

Taking in the view from the summit of Mt Warning
Taking in the view from the summit of Mt Warning

As I reach the summit, the relief is overwhelming. There is much to admire from the viewing platforms. The sky is clear and the view of Australia’s eastern most point is perfect.  I’m almost certain I can see a whale breaching off Cape Byron. But the sun loungers of Salt are beckoning me. Just 4.4 kilometres of downhill terrain (and a 40 minute drive) stands between me and total relaxation. I endure knee pain and potential ankle injury and dodge out of control sweaty sportsmen before at last the car park comes into view. Never has a line up of vehicles looked so welcoming. The rainforest is magnificent but a glimpse of a shiny bonnet is truly a sight to behold.

By mid afternoon we are tucking into massive plates of seafood at the spacious Saltbar. The food tastes unfeasibly good after our strenuous morning.  Then it’s a therapeutic thrashing in the Kingscliff surf and a wallow in the resort pool before we retire to our beach house suites. We are way too comfortable in our luxurious abode and way too  exhausted to make the most of any more dining options in Salt village. Dolphins are playing in the surf outside. The sun disappears behind Mt Warning. I am left with a sense of deep satisfaction and extremely sore thighs. Is it too late to book just a short massage at the Golden Door Spa?