More Inspiration

Getting to know: Tim Cope

It would be an understatement to say Tim Cope is an inspiring person. He has journeyed over 10,000km from Mongolia to Hungary by horse, rowed 4,500km in a leaky wooden boat down the Yenisey River from southern Siberia to the Arctic Ocean, and cycled from Moscow to Beijing by bike - a 10,000km journey that took him 14 months.

Needless to say, he's incredibly adventurous - which is why he's been named the past Australian Adventurer of the Year, Mongolian Tourism Envoy and is the recipient of the Mongolian Tourism Excellency Medal. He's also the author of one of Australia's bestselling books, "On The Trail Of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Lands of the Nomads" which won the 'Best Adventure Travel Book' and the 'Grand Prize' at the Banff International Mountain book and Film Festival 2013.

We sat down with Tim to find out what exactly he finds so fascinating about travelling the world, in particular his passion for exploring Mongolia. From finding out his most transformative travel experiences, favourite words of wisdom from the Kazakhs, and how the spirit of adventure became so deeply entwined in his way of life, be prepared to meet an extraordinary human being and find out how you can join him on his next adventure!

  1. You’ve got a pretty interesting history and have seen a lot of Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Siberia. Where was the first place you travelled? Was it off the beaten path or something touristy that inspired you to seek less packaged experiences?

I was fortunate to have a father who was an outdoor educator, so all my early journeys were in my home region of Gippsland. Hiking at Wilsons Promontory, cross-country skiing in the Victorian Alps, and surfing at Waratah Bay are some of my fondest childhood memories. However my first overseas trip, which I think influenced my path greatly, was trekking in the Annapurna region of Nepal when I was 16 years old (in 1994). I went to a small school in the town of Warragul, and the concept of travelling to Nepal was first put to students of our year level by my English teacher Rob Devling. Over two years we all had to earn our way to Nepal including raising money for the Fred Hollows Eye Foundation. The trek was actually run by World Expeditions, and the combination of physical challenge, culture and awe-inspiring landscapes that unfolded (for me particularly meeting the Nepalese people was the highlight) have remained the recipe for the kind of journeys that drive me on today.

Happy Mongolian men |  <i>Cam Cope</i>
  1. In 2004 you took off on a 10,000 km journey from Mongolia to Hungary by horse called “In The Footsteps of Genghis Khan”. That’s a pretty incredible journey – what are the biggest lessons you learned on that trip?

On a journey that ballooned from an 18-month plan to a three-and-a-half-year epic, patience was something that Nomads taught me. The Kazakhs have a saying - "If you must rush in life...rush slowly" - it is an approach to life that I have tried to carry over into my life since the journey. But perhaps the greatest lesson was the need to constantly appeal to the better side of human nature wherever I went. I had to make friends from all walks of life, and as a result both my inner and outer world expanded dramatically and I came to appreciate how important human relationships are.

Tim and Tigon |  <i>Cam Cope</i>
  1. On this journey you experienced some significant moments; including receiving your loyal dog Tigon as a gift, being invited to the Khan’s palace in Crimea, and having your horses stolen at 2 a.m., five days into your 10,000km journey. It’s a hard ask, but what’s your most memorable moment on your trip?

Ultimately I think one of the most memorable moments was riding through the high Altai Mountains of Mongolia in 2004. I remember clinging onto the mane of my horse for dear life on the edge of a gorge only for a lady leading a six-camel caravan to come casually riding down from a labyrinth of rock. When she stopped she made the lead camel kneel down, and then revealed a young baby wrapped up in a cane basket high up on the camel's humps.

It left me with the impression that these people live so closely with their animals, in camaraderie with them, that they put more trust in their animals with their precious loved ones than we might do with fellow human beings sometimes in our own society. For me, this symbolises the symbiotic and harmonious relationship that nomads have with their animals and in turn with the land.

Riding past an alpine lake in Mongolia |  <i>Cam Cope</i>
  1. Did you see a contradiction in being deliberately and geographically isolated from civilization yet technologically connected to the outside world via your sat phone and laptop?

Horses allowed me to transcend the modern era and slip back into a timeless age, free of mechanical transport and roads. The world is still a very big and enchanting place from the back of a horse, and the needs of a horse haven't changed since they were first domesticated on the Eurasian steppe about 6,000 years ago. At the same time, I did what any nomad does today - I took with me the technologies that could help me (and in my case help share my journey) but which don't compromise that horseback, free-roaming way of life. It was a contradiction in some ways, but I would probably argue that I wasn't trying to isolate myself from civilisation - I was trying to immerse myself in a different kind of ancient civilisation, that of nomadic society.

Exploration by foot or by horse is ideal in Mongolia |  <i>Cam Cope</i>
  1. You’ve won a number of awards which commend you for your spirit of adventure. Can you tell us a bit about your passion for embarking on journeys and why they are so important to you?

Journeys allow me to pursue my curiosity, expand my horizons, and ultimately bring me a greater sense of understanding on my return home. Even in the information age of the internet, there is no substitute for that very sensory experience of adventure.


  1. Most recently, you’ve received the Mongolian Tourism Excellency Medal and have been inaugurated as tourism envoy for Mongolia. What is it about Mongolia that resonates so deeply with you?

It is the only nation on the Eurasian steppe, and perhaps the world, where nomad culture still dominates. Out on the steppe time is measured more by the seasons, the availability of grass, and water, and less by hours, days and weeks. I believe the sense of harmony and sustainability with which the nomads live with the land holds valuable lessons for us all.

Eagle Hunter |  <i>Cam Cope</i>
  1. You’ve been quoted as saying that “To live in the city, in a world of abundance and disconnection where everything is controlled at the touch of a button, for me that feels like... death." What do you think we could learn from the nomadic cultures of Mongolia?

There is a Mongolian saying that certainly transformed my own understanding of the world and rescued me time and time again out on the Eurasian steppe. When, on the fifth day of my trip my horses were stolen, and then recovered, a nomad said to me "A man on the steppe without friends is as narrow as a finger... a man on the steppe with friends is as wide as the steppe." Nomads after all embrace the reality that only by being part of a community and getting along with others from all walks of life, is life survivable let alone enjoyable.

That is one of many lessons that I have learnt and have tried to convey in my book, film, and the ongoing series of talks that I give. Beyond that, as I mentioned in my last answer, I believe that the way in which nomads acknowledge they are part of a much greater web of life and live in harmony with their environment is something that is deeply moving and that I hope resonates with the participants of my treks.


  1. As an inspirational speaker, you show people that individuals are capable of great things. Is that part of why you take on these journeys and adventures?

Writing was my first passion even before travel - when I was 14 I was determined to become an author. I've always loved digesting things for myself in words and then sharing them with others and over time this has expanded to documentary films, photography and speaking. I like the way in which storytelling can engage people and allow them to step out of the frame of their normal lives even if it is just temporarily.


  1. Can you tell us who inspired you to challenge yourself, test your limits and travel so extensively across some of the more remote countries in the world?

    Apart from my father, who I think sewed the seeds of adventure in me as a young child, I would have to say that listening to Tim Macartney-Snape speak when I was 16 years old and then later watching his film and reading his book had a big impact on me. Authors such as Wilfred Thesiger and Joe Simpson also inspired me in different ways - the former for his fascination and admiration of nomad culture, and the latter for having the courage to pursue an unconventional path in life.


Getting to know: Mike Edmondson

For over 30 years, award-winning photographer Mike Edmondson has been viewing our world’s most spectacular landscapes through the lens of a camera, capturing the beauty of the outdoors. 

Now, he’s taking travellers on their own photography journeys - so, keep reading and get to know this Jindabyne local legend.

Walls of Jerusalem |  <i>Mike Edmondson</i> Spectacular sunrise on Etheridge ridge |  <i>Mike Edmondson</i> Stargazing on Mt Kosciusczko |  <i>Mike Edmondson</i> General photos for Mike Edmondson blog |  <i>Mike Edmondson</i> General photos for Mike Edmondson blog |  <i>Mike Edmondson</i> Walls of Jerusalem trekking with Mike Edmondson |  <i>Mike Edmondson</i>

Firstly, describe yourself in five words.

  • Friendly

  • Creative

  • Outdoorsy

  • Fun

  • Passionate


What are you most proud of?

I incorporated my photography and creativity into starting and running the Paddy Pallin Jindabyne franchise outdoor shop for 23 years.

From 1981 to 2005, Mike owned and managed the Paddy Pallin Outdoor Adventure shop in Jindabyne. From here, he started guiding people into the backcountry of Kosciuszko and used his photography skills to market the business. He also opened the first photographic gallery in Jindabyne - showcasing the best of his alpine photography.

Do you have a life motto? 

My life purpose is to reconnect people to nature through my photography and guided walks.

Walls of Jerusalem trekking with Mike Edmondson |  <i>Mike Edmondson</i>


What is the best travel advice someone has given you?

Be adaptable & and respectable in different cultures.

How do you define ‘adventure travel’? 

Exploring new and more isolated areas in different cultures.

Searching into the stars |  <i>Mike Edmondson</i> Sunset from Mt. Kosciuszko |  <i>Mike Edmondson</i> General photos for Mike Edmondson blog |  <i>Mike Edmondson</i>

Three items you pack for every trip:

  1. Camera – (Most of Mike’s images are taken with a Linhof Technorama 617, Nikon FE2 and F90 Film Cameras, as well as an Olympus C-8080, Nikon D700, Nikon D800E and Nikon D850 Digital Cameras)

  2. Waterproofs 

  3. Curiosity
Mike Edmondson head shot |  <i>Mike Edmondson</i>

What are the key factors you consider when selecting an adventure travel destination?

Is it a new experience? 

Is it active, in nature, with spectacular scenery? 

Will I be sharing it with good company?

I’m looking forward to exploring and sharing the Walls of Jerusalem in summer wildflower bloom and autumn colours with other excited photographers. 

Do you have any preparation tips for trekking photographers?

Try hill walking with a loaded backpack and the boots you’ll be wearing. Carefully plan out what to pack using a checklist, and practice manually focusing on stars for astrophotography in the dark before you come.

Mike Edmondson enjoying the Tasmanian wilderness |  <i>Mike Edmondson</i>
Why We Have Decided To Support The Voice To Parliament

Respecting the traditions of First Nations people, working in partnership to promote education of cultural heritage, is one of the core tenets of our Thoughtful Travel Charter. As a company, we support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

Not only by engaging with them in our operations as we currently do, thus bringing a precious perspective of the importance of connection to land, but also and on a broader level, their pursuit for equality and recognition. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people hold a unique status as the first peoples of Australia, having lived here for more than 65,000 years. We believe that it is time to acknowledge their connection to our great country. 

For almost 40 years we have worked with Traditional Landowners and local First Nations communities in order to bring to you some of Australia’s greatest adventure experiences. When the Garma Festival first allowed non-indigenous travellers to attend, the World Expeditions Travel Group were honoured to have been chosen to be the only company to assist with travel arrangements. 

Having long worked with remote and minority communities around the world, whether providing a community or Regenerative Project for our travellers, or Service Learning experience for schools, one key learning has been that only through consultation and feedback from the communities on matters relating to them can we hope to truly assist them. 

Based on our experiences, we believe what the Voice proposes is a very reasonable proposition.

Recognition: We agree that it is time our nation formally recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first people of Australia. 

Voice to Parliament: A representative body of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, sitting outside the parliament, providing advice – not a veto or decision-making capacity - on issues related to them, is a sensible way forward based on what we have learned assisting communities around the world. 

Referendum: To avoid such a policy becoming a political hot-potato, we agree that the only way for formal recognition is a permanent change in the national rule-book – the Australian Constitution. 

Since Federation, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have advocated for constitutional reform to recognise their rights as the first people of our nation. In 1967, the Australian people overwhelmingly responded to change the Constitution to count First Nations people in our census. In 2023, they seek to be formally recognised on a land that they have occupied for over 65,000 years. 

For these reasons, we support the ‘Yes’ campaign for the Voice to Parliament.

In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future. 

Uluru Statement From The Heart


In 2022, our Australian program was Triple Certified by Ecotourism Australia, which includes Respecting our Culture Certification.



What is 'Regenerative Travel'?

Regenerative Travel is a relatively new term in travel circles that aims to go beyond sustainable travel practices. While sustainable travel focuses on minimising negative impacts and returning a net neutrality on the environment and local communities, Regenerative Travel aims to have a positive and transformative effect on those environments and communities. 

Put simply, the core principle of Regenerative Travel urges travellers to have a positive impact by giving back more than they take from the destinations they visit. 

The term was born during the Covid pandemic, when locations typically overtouristed began to see improvements in key indicators like air quality, and less pollution. 

The question was soon posed - how can these improvements continue when travellers return? How can a destination benefit yet still incentivise the protection of natural and cultural assets AND still provide an enriching experience for the traveller? 

Enter, Regenerative Travel. 

Beach clean-up is an important part of coastal restoration and regeneration

A Regenerative Travel program involves travellers committing to activities such as actively restoring and regenerating ecosystems, supporting local economies, engaging in community lead initiatives, fostering cultural exchange and reducing their carbon footprint. 

The benefits of Regenerative Travel are seen on many levels. This type of 'slow travel' seeks to create a net positive cycle, where travellers and destinations mutually benefit from the experience, leaving a lasting positive impact on the environment, building capacities for local communities, and increasing respect for cultures encountered during the journey. 

When travellers support locally driven initiatives and businesses, the communities receive the resources they require to care for and protect their environment. 

The demand for this style of travel also drives the local communities to engage in activities supporting this regenerative approach, and the traveller, sharing more meaningful experiences during their journey, is more driven to respect and protect the land and local communities while travelling. 


Vermicomposting workshops educating Nepali farmers to build environmentally sustainable livelihoods |  <i>Trans-Himalayan Environment and Livelihood Program</i> Vermicomposting kits supplied to farmers by Trans-Himalayan Environment and Livelihood Program |  <i>Trans-Himalayan Environment and Livelihood Program</i> Vermicomposting workshops educating Nepali farmers about sustainable farming |  <i>Trans-Himalayan Environment and Livelihood Program</i>

We have teamed up with a local NGO, T-HELP, to implement a service program and help train local female farmers in the techniques of vermicomposting. This is combined with a group trek through the Annapurna Range through small farming communities and villages, into the location of the service program, gaining an understanding of the local environment and terrain, as well as gaining incomparable views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. 

Overall, Regenerative Travel offers travellers a unique opportunity to combine personal growth, cultural understanding, environmental stewardship, and community engagement. It empowers people to become responsible global citizens who actively contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive world.

The Great Tasmanian Traverse in numbers

It’s the biggest adventure you can do in the smallest state of Australia. 

The Great Tasmanian Traverse is one epic adventure, but don't take out word for it, check out these numbers to give you an idea of the challenge that awaits.

The Great Tasmanian Traverse in numbers



The height of Tasmania's tallest mountain, Mt Ossa, which features on the Overland Track section


The height of Frenchmans Cap, a side-trip that features on the Franklin River rafting section


If you were to drive from the starting point of the trip to the end point, this is how many kilometres it would be


The length of the Franklin River in kilometres


The length of the Overland Track in kilometres (without side-trips)


The number of days that it will take to complete the Great Tasmanian Traverse


The amount of trekking days, and nights spent in a tent


Approximate average weight of the pack, in kilograms, you would need to carry on the trekking section


Days it will take to raft the Franklin River


Trip grading level out of 10 (challenging, the toughest level before entering mountaineering grading levels)


Hours a day of activity


The number of classic Tasmanian adventures that link together that make up the Great Tasmanian Traverse


Number of our experienced guides that will join you on each section


Tour operator that operates this amazing Tasmanian wilderness experience

The turning of the Fagus: autumn in Tasmania

If there’s one Tasmanian plant that could be called the life of the party, it’s the fagus.

The beautiful fagus has become such a popular part of Tasmanian folklore that there are now fagus crafts and jewellery, fagus helicopter tours, fagus-infused products like gin, and even a fagus festival at Cradle Mountain.

You might call it the little tree that could.

Also known by its scientific name Nothofagus gunnii, fagus is a compact deciduous alpine beech tree with small oval-shaped leaves. It has grown in Tasmania for 40 million years.

According to Parks and Wildlife Tasmania, fagus is a paleoendemic species of a Gondwanan group, and there are similar species of beech tree in New Zealand and South America. It goes by the name fagus, but it’s also called deciduous beech and “tanglefoot”—because it grows close to the ground and gets tangled up the feet of bushwalkers.

Fagus has been called a "winter-deciduous" plant—in fact, it's one of only a handful of deciduous plants in Australia—so it comes alive with colour in late April and early May. It’s a period that Tasmanians have come to call the “Turning of the Fagus”. Its small crinkly leaves, which look a lot like potato chips, turn bright yellow then orange then red (some even become a rich claret colour), and the plant covers huge swaths of the wilderness making for quite a show. Bushwalkers have been known to come around a corner in Tasmania and be overwhelmed by the beauty the fagus cover.

Watch the landscape change colours when you trek the Overland Track in autumn |  <i>Jason Charles Hill</i>

The best places to see fagus are on the flanks of Cradle Mountain, around Lake St Clair, in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, in Mount Field National Park, and in Southwest National Park. It’s worth a visit to any of these places for one of the great colour displays in Australia.

To be sure Tasmania is home to some stupendous vegetation. The state is also home to some of the most ancient plant species on earth, including King's Holly (estimated to be at least 43,000 years old), the world's tallest flowering tree, the giant ash, and many beautiful small plants such as terrestrial orchids.

And while fagus isn’t as famous as its Tasmanian cousins like the Huon pine or the King Billy pine, it’s far more colorful and will brighten up any journey in the Tasmanian bush, especially one that’s required an all-day, thigh-busting tramp.

What’s in a title? How the Walls of Jerusalem got its name

Humans like to name things. Psychologists have known for years that it’s a part of our psyche, part of our humanness—we want to label everything we can.

Including the wilderness.

In 1849, Scottish-born surveyor James Scott did just that when he surveyed an area of wilderness south of Mole Creek in north central Tasmania. On his charts, he dubbed the area the Walls of Jerusalem because the mountains and crags of the area reminded him of the actual walls of the city of Jerusalem.

Surveyor Scott might’ve gotten the ball rolling, but it was another adventurer who kept it moving.

Reginald George “Reg” Hall (1907–81) was a Launceston lawyer who had a huge passion for the wild areas of Tasmania and spent many days bushwalking in them. In fact, he preferred bushwalking to almost everything else.

“Hall had no interest in conveyancing, a solicitor’s bread-and-butter, preferring to work as a civil and criminal lawyer, mounting court defences for clients who sometimes paid him in kind including potatoes, fruit, and fresh-water crayfish, rather than in cash,” according to Heritage Tasmania.

“His repudiation of conveyancing left him time to pursue his real passions of hiking, skiing and designing buildings, watercraft and bush gear such as tents, rucksacks and waterproof clothing. At a time when there was little specialised hiking gear, Hall compared designs with the work of Paddy Pallin in Sydney, who regarded him as a peer and even sent him new equipment to trial.”

Hall invented a bamboo framed backpack, homemade snow goggles, and a folding kayak, and he developed a handful of huts in various Tasmanian wildernesses, notably Halls Hut on an island in Lake Malbena.

During his 1849 survey, Scott named the Walls and Lake Ball, but nothing else. So, when Hall first visited the Walls in December 1928, he had a blank slate. During his many trips to the area during the following two decades Hall named most of the biblically named features that we know today.

Hall was responsible for such fanciful names as The Temple, King Davids Peak, Herods Gate, Solomons Throne, Mount Jerusalem, Golden Gate, Zion Vale, Lake Salome, and the Pool of Bethesda. He named the imposing dolerite Gate of Damascus, and the sparkling tarns of Solomons Jewels.

In 1954, about 20 of the names Hall suggested were accepted by the Nomenclature Board.

Hall wasn’t the only one interested in the solace he found in the soon-to-be Walls of Jerusalem National Park.

According to Heritage Tasmania, hiking in the Western Lakes/Walls of Jerusalem area had begun by 1886 and many anglers and graziers were visiting the area by the start of the twentieth century.

Some of these early visitors built huts, which you’ll visit on our Walls of Jerusalem trips.

Top 5 Walks on Flinders Island

Some of Tasmania’s classic walks can get pretty tough, especially when the weather gets bad. A mild forest walk can become a mud-clogged slog that takes days, and simple jaunts up peaks can become slick balancing acts. 

If you’re looking for moderate walking in a drier region of Tasmania then a walking trip on Flinders Island might be for you.

Flinders Island boasts more than 30 conservation areas, including a national park. To say the landscape is unspoilled is an understatement. The island is well known for its white granite boulders with blazing Caloplaca orange lichens and rolling mountain ranges, which make it one of the prettiest places in Tasmania for walking.

So it's no surprise that when Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service put together its list of Tasmania's “60 Great Short Walks”, three of those walks were on Flinders Island.

Hiking in Marshall Bay, near Castle Rock 

1. Castle Rock Walk.

This wonderful trail starts near the Furneaux Museum in Emita and is a 7km out-and-back trail. It’s considered a moderately challenging route (grade 3), and it takes about an hour and a half to complete.

This trail is great for walking and bird watching and you'll likely not encounter many other people while walking. Castle Rock is one of Tasmania's Great Short Walks, and Tasmania Parks & Wildlife call it “a wonderful beach walk”.

2. Mount Strzelecki Climb

Mount Strzelecki is an impressive sight from below, but what’s more impressive is the sight of everything from the summit. Hiking up this rugged granite mountain, you’ll be impressed with the diverse flora and fauna, including many rare orchids, blue gum forests, tea tree forests, Bennetts wallabies, wombats, Tasmanian Pademelons, potoroos, and over 100 species of birdlife.

Mount Strzelecki is one of Tasmania's Great Short Walks, and Tasmania Parks & Wildlife noted, “The large granite massifs of Strzelecki Peaks dominate the southern part of Flinders Island and offer amazing views”. It’s 4 to 5 hours return (roughly 2.8km one way).

3. Trousers Point Coastal Track

Yet another of Tasmania’s Great Short Walks, the Trousers Point Coastal Track is a 4.7-km out-and-back trail on the east coast of Flinders Island. Like the Castle Rock trail, this trail is excellent for birding and wildlife watching. Did you know that experts have suggested that there’s about 400 per cent more wildlife on Flinders Island compared to mainland Tasmania? This lovely track takes about an hour to complete, and you're likely to see some critters on the way.

In its write-up of the Trousers Point Track, Tasmania Parks & Wildlife suggests, “Take a weekend or, better still, a whole week to visit Flinders Island to enjoy the beaches, walks and wildlife. The Trousers Point walk includes unusual rock features, views to off-shore islands and two beautiful beaches”.

Walking along the pristine sands of a Flinders Island beach

4. Climb Mount Killiecrankie

Climbing Mount Killiecrankie is another rewarding experience on Flinders Island. The trail starts at the end of Killiecrankie Road and skirts the edge of a small bay to its north then begins in earnest up the 316m peak. There is some rock-hopping and you’ll want to follow cairns if you’re unsure of the route.

The views from the top are sensational. The trail takes one back down to sea level and then travels a short distance to the northwest and Stacky's Bight with its intriguing rock formations. Many people opt for a swim here.

While it’s not on the list of 60 Great Short Walks, many consider the trek to the summit as good as the climb of Mount Strzelecki. It’s about 12km out and back.

Enjoying the coastal views on Mt Killikrankie

5. North East River Walk

North East River is an area at the northernmost point of Flinders Island and its known for its remoteness.

This is Flinders Island at its best—pristine and at the full mercy of the elements. The trail follows the coastline and visits the impressive Palana sand dunes. There are memerising views to the north of the Sister Islands and terrarium-like rock pools scattered between knobbly granite outcrops.

The walk eventually reaches the tiny settlement of Palana, where many people opt for a swim before jumping aboard a support vehicle to return to a hotel for the evening. The walk is 8-9km.

Experience these walks on our Flinders Island walking adventures.

Preparing for the Great Tasmanian Traverse

The Great Tasmanian Traverse is Tasmania's most challenging multi-day adventure.

This epic 39-day odyssey will see those tough enough to sign up for it traverse the length of the Island State from the quiet, rural communities of the North to the wild and isolated South. 

So, how does one prepare for such an experience? We spoke to two people about to embark on this Tasmanian adventure of a lifetime, Sue Farley from Australia and Canadian Don Schell.

What inspired you to want to be part of the Great Tasmanian Traverse?

Sue: I remember watching a CD about the Tasmanian wilderness that came with Australian Geographic magazine, and I was mesmerised by the landscape. It whet my appetite to walk in Tasmania, and I signed up to do my first multi-day walk there with Tasmanian Expeditions in 2009. It was the South Coast Track and I absolutely loved everything about it—the landscape, the history and just being immersed in wild nature.

Don: Long distance travel can be onerous and expensive, so I often link together a couple of expedition-style treks. Tasmania had risen to the top of my bucket list, and it offered so many trekking options, but the logistics such as transportation and accommodations would have been a handful. The Great Tasmanian Traverse was an elegant solution that maximised the adventure and transferred the logistical arrangements to local specialists.

How will you be training for the 39-day trip?

Sue: I'm an active person and a regular gym goer, so I have good baseline fitness. My main preparation for the trip will be just getting used to carrying the extra weight of a backpack over different terrain. I want to get used to the routine of putting my backpack on first thing in the morning and doing a couple of kilometres walking. Gradually, I’ll introduce longer walks of 6 or 7 kms on the weekends and will then start including some hills and go from there.

Don: During the Covid-19 lockdown, my local fitness centre closed and I expanded my home gym to include a treadmill, stationary cycle, rower and free weights. Having fitness equipment close at hand allows me to spend a couple of hours a day on cardio, strength, and stretching. Two or three times a week, I hike on the treadmill at high incline with a 15kg weight vest.   

With mountains at my doorstep, I hike at least once a week with a 15kg pack in a variety of terrain to give the ankles and balance a good workout by walking off camber, which a treadmill can’t do. As a Search and Rescue volunteer, I occasionally get a second daily workout in, carrying 25kg of medical and rope rescue gear up a mountain side to aid an injured or lost hiker.

Don Schell

What is it about the Great Tasmania Traverse that most appeals to you?

Sue: Hmmm – lots! I’m really looking forward to being in Tasmania for an extended stretch of time. I love the idea of getting into a rhythm of being active in nature and taking a complete break from my normal routine. I’m really looking forward to walking the South Coast and the Overland Tracks again. I’m probably most excited to raft the Franklin River.

Don: Tasmania is known for some of the best scenery, unique wildlife, and friendly people, so this makes Tasmania a must-visit. Solo hiking was an option, but hiking with like-minded people always make the experience much richer. The Great Tasmanian Traverse Tasmania neatly combines some of Tasmania’s best hikes, and when rafting is thrown in it makes for an awesome adventure.             

What do you think will be the biggest challenge?

Sue: I’m not looking forward to walking in driving rain, but I know it will happen. I know there’ll be times I’ll be cold, uncomfortable, footsore and tired, but it's like anything: you just start and keep going. It’s about breaking it down—about taking one step at a time. I know we’ll have everything we need in our packs. One of the guides will be cooking dinner and I’ll have a lovely sleeping bag to crawl into at night.

Don: Dealing with jet lag will be the initial challenge, but I know from experience that it will quickly pass.

I have spent several years preparing for physical challenges such as this, but one never knows when the body can’t adjust to the rigors of the adventure, or a poorly placed footstep. In that case, I trust my mental fortitude, analgesics, and the support of the group members and leaders will surmount any of those challenges.

Have you always been an active adventurer?

Sue: I’ve always been an active person and have enjoyed being outdoors and bushwalking, but I’ve never done anything as long as the Great Tasmanian Traverse before. 

Don: I grew up playing in the woods, and during 33 years in the Canadian military, I continued to “play” in the woods, although it wasn’t as enjoyable when you do it for work. The military experience instilled a curiosity of the world’s places and people, and a desire for adventure and a wanderlust which has carried over into my later years and retirement. 

I have had the benefit of doing some fairly extreme treks with inspirational people who remain active and adventurous into their late 70s. I hope to follow their lead and to spend many more years chiseling away at my travel bucket list, which seems to grow longer after every trip.

Sue on the South Coast Track

What other multi-day walks have you done?

Sue: I got the chance to do the South Coast Track with Tasmanian Expeditions a second time a couple of years after the first time and I jumped at it. In the following years, I also walked the Overland Track with TasEx. I love having all the logistical planning taken care of and I really love going with professional guides because the experience is so much richer because you learn so much from them.

Don: Expedition-style treks have comprised the majority of my travels over the past dozen years. Often, the best scenery is well off the beaten path and the effort getting there makes the experience sweeter.

Over the past 12 years, I have completed 17 expedition-style treks over five continents, ranging from 8 to 27 days in length. Some examples are: Kilimanjaro, Patagonia, Huayhuash Circuit, Annapurna Circuit, K2 Base Camp, Everest Basecamp, Tour de Mont Blanc/Haute Route/Alta Via 1 in the Alps and the Snowman Trek in Bhutan. I liked the Snowman so much I am going back to do it again in a couple of weeks.

Many treks have been long distance, high altitude; some with a full pack, some with a day pack. The pandemic slowed my adventures a little, but Vancouver Island has some awesome coastal treks such as the West Coast Trail, so I wasn’t just sitting around.

What's the reaction of your friends and family to you taking on this adventure?

Sue: They know how much I love this kind of thing, so they’ve all been very supportive. In fact, my husband and daughter thought it sounded like so much fun that they’ll be joining me to raft the Franklin midway through the journey. I’m absolutely thrilled because 39 days is a long time away from family and I know we’ll get to reconnect and share an amazing adventure.

Don: Some are envious, some think I should be committed. Some just don’t understand why I would fly halfway around the world to hike all day and sleep in a tent when I could take a cruise in comfort.

Regardless of their reactions, my travels enrich my life and hopefully they serve as an example of how an active retirement can be lived. Adventures such as the Great Tasmanian Traverse will yield photos and stories I can relate to my friends, but my memories will be much more vibrant. To get the full picture, they will have to experience it for themselves!

Think you have what it takes to traverse Tasmania? Check out the full Great Tasmanian Traverse trip details.
How To Fit Your Backpack: a short guide

The two most important pieces of trekking equipment—your footwear and your pack—are also the hardest to select and adjust. In a previous blog we offered some advice on selecting and buying footwear. Today, we’re going to look at backpacks.

These days, backpacks come in hundreds of shapes and sizes, but there are a few basics for getting one that fits correctly. Number one is fitting your torso (and not your height).

The Waistbelt

The key consideration when fitting a pack is that the weight-bearing waist straps need to rest comfortably on your iliac crest (the top of your hip bones). When trying on a pack, put the waistbelt on and set the top edge of the waistbelt so it sits about an inch above the iliac crest. This is where you’ll be carrying the load.

Tighten the waist belt. The waistbelt should feel snug but not tight. It certainly shouldn’t pinch the hips. Make sure that the padded sections of the waistbelt sit on top of your iliac crest. You might have to adjust both the waistbelt and the shoulder straps several (or more) times to get the correct fit. That’s okay. The more you adjust the pack, the more familiar with it you’ll become, and you definitely want to become good friends with your pack.

To make sure that the waistbelt is long enough, the padding should reach a point in front of your iliac crest. If the padding doesn’t extend at least a couple of inches in front of your hips, the waistbelt is too short.

Also check that the centre buckle at the front has room to be adjusted. If it doesn’t, you might need to try a pack with a larger waistbelt.

The Shoulder Straps

With the pack on and sitting on your hips, tighten (pull down on) the shoulder straps. The shoulder straps should be snug, but they should not bear much weight. Shoulder straps that carry a lot of weight can create neck, shoulder and back problems.

When the pack is on, the shoulder straps wrap over your shoulders and should meet the pack about 1 to 2 inches below the top of your shoulders—essentially at the top of your shoulder blades.

If they wrap over your shoulders and down your back for more than a few inches the pack is probably too small. Play with your shoulder straps (play with everything!). It’s really important that get used to your pack as something that can be adjusted, not something whose shape and positioning are set in stone.

Load Lifter Straps

Load lifter straps connect the top of the shoulder straps to the top of the pack. When they are tightened to the optimum amount, they should angle back to the pack at roughly 45 degrees. These straps are designed to balance the load. Don’t over tighten them.

Sternum Straps

The sternum straps should lie across your chest about an inch below your collar bone. Tighten them. When they are adjusted correctly, you should have ample room to move your arms.

Don’t tighten the sternum straps too much. This can make other parts of the suspension system be out of balance, and it can affect your chest and breathing.

Constantly Check Adjustments

Once you are on the trail (hopefully for training before your big trip), play with all your straps. Start with the waistbelt and shoulder straps. You should try a variety of positions and adjustments. If you adjusted your pack in the store or at home, there might be some tweaks you can do on the trail that make it fit better—and thus be more comfortable—as you move.

Many higher-end packs nowadays offer adjustable torsos, which is a great idea if you’re going to be sharing the pack or if you’re buying a pack for a young person who’s still growing. Also, seek help at your gear shop. The staff are there to help you find the right size pack.

And remember, women-specific packs are available. These have small torsos and are often good for young trekkers as well.

The most important characteristic is to have a pack you can snug against your back. The goal is to have your cargo not jostling around.

View our Full Pack treks in Tasmania

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