Friday, May 22, 2015


I can remember the feeling of my first fall break. The teacher of my first grade class had announced we would be having a four day weekend! And to my little six year old ears, this sounded like the most beautiful creation since chicken-fried steak. My gut was full of anticipation as I rode the bus home like I was returning to the homeland from my academic prisoner of war camp which was first grade school. I sprinted down our drive way hailing the good news to the world, proclaiming my freedom at the tops of my lungs.
Well, I haven't changed much in 15 years and I still relish every extended break from school. Here is Australia, they call it lecture recess, and during lecture recess, my mate Harrison and I planned to explore the wonder land of Magnetic Island.
As we meet in the dinning hall this morning, we stuff our bags with extra food rations and then hop the bus over to the ferry terminal. A 20 minute ferry ride, and a 15 minute bus ride landed us right smack on Horse Shoe bay. I walk up to the beach life guard and ask him where the best hiking on the island is, and he replies, "Yeah, the trails on the East side get a fair bit of hiking, but the west side is pretty narly. Not many people hike there." And at those words, Harrison and I undoubtedly agreed to head West. It's not that we didn't want to seek the other friendly hikers. It's more the matter that we want to see things other people have never seen.
So we advance across the "narly" shore line, which consisted of gigantic boulders covered in barnacles near the water. And after a few hours of our rock scrambling travels, I am struck with the brilliant idea to bush wack. "Hey, let's bush wack just over this ridge, mate."
To which, Harrison replies, "Okay, I'm keen for a bit of that"
So with our 10 kg (that's 22lb) backpacks, we climb the cliffs which separate the boulder shore line from the up land of spinifex grass and small Eucalypt saplings and scrub bushes. It really looked quite easy and agreeable to hike from down below, but this territory was quite possibly the fourth most diabolical places I've ever have to hike through.
If you don't know spinifex grass personally, just think of a chilla pet which is made of needles. This grass  blankets the landscape of large jagged rocks with a quilt of leaves and stems build to puncture the epidermis of your legs on contact, which is inevitable whilst wearing shorts. Every step was a gamble, because the spinifex hid every rock crevice, and I even fell chest deep into a hidden rock crack. Surprisingly, the spinifex feels soft, in a twisted suffering sorta way, when you fall on your back into a hidden rock crack. But despite the fun we were having frolicking through the rock and spinifex wonderland, whilst the green ants invaded our entire presence, we decided to head back to the shore line. Rock hopping was a cake walk compared to scaling the 60 degree incline of Mordor.
We decided to wash our battle scars in the ocean on a quick snorkel through the boulders, which actually produce a fair few micro reefs around the island.
We saunter on over to the East side of the island to join the normal hikers, and to my pleasant surprise, the trails over here are beautiful, and well maintained through a fantastic landscape with excellent views and enjoyable hiking. My inner, childish, fall break excitement has been satiated for another break.