Newnes Canyoning Extravaganza

In March 1913, the crowds waited anxiously for the Lady Denman to speak. The fate of the pronunciation of the new Capital of the Federation of Australia rested on her utterance, and so the Governor-General’s wife sealed its history with her two syllable word, Can-bra. Just over a century later, of course, almost nobody cares.…

Balloon Sunrise Spectacular

Early mornings and I have a civil and mutually beneficial agreement wherein we politely avoid each other, or offer only the briefest nod of acknowledgement if we are akwardly forced to meet. However, Canberra’s aptly named Balloon Spectacular is (at its 29th year) one of the longest-running hot ballooning events in the world, and so…

Impressions of Hanoi

My trip to Vietnam actually began in a most quintessentially Australian manner. It was 3am, and the alarm had ended the three hours of sleep I’d had since I’d finished packing. A few more minutes of sleep were tempting… but at 4am I was facing 21 hours of transport before Hanoi, and the temptation of…

Cat Ba: Exploring Ha Long Bay without a cruiseship

“Well, it’s definitely cheaper. Instead of being locked up on a boat we can choose a new place to have dinner every night!” The speaker gestures at the waterfront strip of restaurants with his 5,000 dong beer*. “And we get to do different things each day, like kayaking and rock climbing and motorbiking. Yeah, being…

Cocktails on the Castle: The Red Promenade

The heat was, once again, oppressive. It seems particularly unlucky that this hike, involving 800m of elevation over 6km, and packs weighing upwards of 20 and even 30kg, had coincided with a heat wave not once but twice in 2014. Still, we napped in the shade before the final ascent and then pushed to the…

Walk on the Wildside: Mulligan’s Flat and The National Zoo and Aquarium

“A cheetah just licked my arm.” As excellent as many wildlife documentaries are, there’s nothing quite the same as experiencing wildlife in person. Over the local Human Brochure weekend, we experienced two very different ways that Canberra organisations are combining a conservation philosophy with public engagement: Mulligan’s Flat Woodland Sanctuary, and the National Zoo and…

Presidential Speech

Ladies and Gentlemen of the ANU Mountaineering Club AGM of 2014: Wear Sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the outdoors, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my speech has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience, and…

Dead Horse Gap: The Brumby Debate

Ribs prominent beneath a winter coat, and hardly enough energy left to acknowledge our presence, the three brumbies stare at our group of telemark skiiers. It has been a week since the last real snowfall, and the marks on this snow tell us the whole story: the brumbies have moved less than 10 metres in…