I was invited to speak at the Pechakucha Night Townsville VOL. 30. and here's the talk:
Hi, I'm Luen Warneke, an avid adventurer and the creator of Wanderstories, but before I get into what Wanderstories is all about, I need to rewind a little bit and tell you my own wander stories.
Born and raised in Townsville, I feel quite lucky to have parents who taught me about nature and the great outdoors. My parents regularly took us hiking, biking, kayaking, and running and also had a hobby farm located at the base of Paluma Range at the junction of Big Crystal Creek and Little Crystal Creek. Every weekend we would drive up to the farm which gave us the opportunity to explore and get dirty.
The benefits of early childhood experiences
Many of you would have had similar experiences. I learnt about plants, trees, insects and other animals and cooled off in the creek with my sisters or float down the streams. On our many family adventures, some of which were over to Magnetic Island, we developed an understanding of rock hopping and scrambling.
Little did I know as a kid back then the importance of National Parks and how critical they are to not only my own happiness and joy but also to my community, the economy, and the natural spaces of this part of Australia.
Adventures to be had
These days, I love to get outdoors no matter what the weather is like and what activity is involved in the expedition. Whether it's hiking off-track to remote, rarely-seen waterfalls or rock climbing up rock faces in the nearby vicinity. Townsville has a lot to offer for those who seek adventure.
National Parks in every cardinal direction
Why Townsville is one of the best places to live if you want remote nature? Well, we're extremely very lucky in Townsville. We're surrounded by national parks and state forests in every cardinal direction (North, East, South, West) within 30 minutes of the CBD.
Townsville is uniquely located, bordering the Heritage-listed Wet Tropics to the north, the Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef to the east, the dry bushlands to the south, and the arid lands of the west.
This is where the website, Wanderstories, comes in.
Wanderstories is an online resource that helps showcase all the adventures that can be done nearby. With over 30,000 unique IP addresses every month and growing, Wanderstories inspires people to get outdoors while educating people on sustainable practices. We also love looking at trends and have seen our local outdoor community grow, especially since COVID.
Seasons of Townsville
We have myriad adventures to be had where you can easily escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. To be in a remote setting where not many people have been before. Townsville has a wide range of activities that depends on the seasons and the weather. Maybe we don't have the four traditional seasons, but we do have the wet and dry.
Summer, as it is now, is perfect for high land hikes in the Paluma Range rainforest, exploring creeks that are usually dry or white water paddling, packrafting and/or bikerafting creeks that wouldn't otherwise be possible.
Creek walking basically all year round but Autumn is probably the better season to do so. The hottest part of the year is over and there’s still plenty of water to create amazing waterfalls and it’s not too hot. Perfect for a casual swim.
Winter is perfect for those dry, open bushland areas to the south and west. These places are usually sunny and very hot. Activities include rock climbing and bike packing.
Spring is perfect for canyoning & first descents. Canyoning before the wet season when water levels are low means safer water levels in terms of hydrology. But also it's a good time of year when it's not too cold or too hot - being in the shade of the canyon and wet all day.
What are “micro-adventures”
Now, these adventures don’t need to be big expeditions. Alastair Humphreys came up with the term "micro-adventures". A microadventure is an adventure that is short, simple, local, and cheap – yet still fun, exciting, challenging, refreshing and rewarding. These micro-adventures don't have to be weekend-long trips or even multi-week trips, they can be short escapes after work.
Here are four spectacular adventures to be had:
Northwest - Canyoning/Hiking - Wall of Waterfalls
There's something special about this place. It's a wall of waterfalls where you can see six waterfalls cascading down the cliff line in one spot with the capacity to host several more falls in the wet season. Located north near Wallaman Falls. This one can be found by canyoning Garrawalt Creek or rock up upstream from Yaminie/Hentretta points near Aborgiewie, Ingham.
Northeast - Kayaking to or around Magnetic Island
Paddling can be so rewarding for the mind and body, allowing us yet another way to connect with nature, and we are lucky to have such a gem of a kayaking destination that is perfectly located right next to Townsville. Many locals will opt to surf ski across to Picnic Bay in the mornings before work or have a relaxing paddle around the island on the weekend. Coffee at Picnic or breakie in Nelly. Pick your perfect paddle!
Southeast - The Terraces
Located in Bowling Green Bay National Park, The Terraces is another natural wonder close to home! It is considered to be one of the best walks in North Queensland by many. This stunning creek line is home to waterfall after waterfall and to top it off, a view across the valley and out to the ocean from a monolithic boulder towards the top.
Southwest - White Mountains
White Mountains is home to a beautifully unique landscape. This gorge system is an unreal labyrinth of adventures to be had. A great one to start out with is Canns Camp Creek Canyon. This trip is a one-way hike that showcases the natural beauty of the land.
What do national parks do for us?
National parks provide a variety of benefits for society, including:
- Conservation of natural resources: National parks protect unique and diverse ecosystems and wildlife, preserving them for future generations.
- Recreational opportunities: National parks offer recreational activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing for people to enjoy and connect with nature.
- Educational experiences: National parks provide opportunities for learning about the natural world, history, and culture.
- Economic benefits: National parks drive tourism and create jobs, supporting local economies.
- Health benefits: Spending time in nature has been shown to have positive effects on mental and physical health.
- Cultural preservation: National parks often protect cultural sites, artifacts, and traditional practices, helping to preserve cultural heritage.
How to get out there
There are council-supported clubs, like Townsville Bushwalking Club, Rockwheelers, and Rock Climbers Association of North Queensland. There are also social groups like Tonwsivlle Alive! and Let's Walk Townsville.
Leave No Trace // Protect what we love
Through inspiration, we foster a love for nature and the great outdoors. We believe getting people outdoors and into nature, they fall in love with mother earth. People want to protect what they love.
The phrase 'Leave No Trace' (LNT) defines modern outdoor philosophy. It represents a set of guidelines based on minimising your impact. As environmental knowledge and awareness have grown, the focus is now on education & conservation.
How to do our part for the environment
Here are some quick points:
- Shop local and avoid packaging.
- Remove packing, when possible from your food items.
- Pick up after others - a top-notch example of this is TIDY Townsville Dadley
- For example, if you see plastic on The Strand/beach, pick it up and dispose of it correctly.
See the Leave No Trace article for more ideas and information on this topic.
Wrapping up, nature is truly amazing and there's never been a better time to get in touch with mother earth once again. The more people who get to experience its brilliance, the louder the voice of conservation grows.
This article, and all other articles, are for entertainment purposes only and are not to be used as a guide. Please see our Disclaimer for more information.