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Reflections IV

Still Exploring

Hello. As you can guess from the title, this is the fourth time I've written one of these biennale posts and it feels like a lifetime ago since I wrote the last one. For those that are new to the website, don't listen to the podcast or haven't seen one of the rare pictures of myself, I'm Mark, a now 37yo WA local that enjoys long walks, bike rides, snorkeling and taking tens of thousands of photos while I'm doing those pursuits. As I've said a few times over the years, having the website is a great way to catalogue some really important memories and in the process, share some amazing places with others. Over the past couple of years, avid website visitors will have noticed a few cosmetic changes to the UI and I'm pretty happy with how things are looking right now. A fun new design tweak I recently implemented was the main photo for each page being a single image that moves as you scroll down (desktop only), along with removing 99% of the ads on the website for a better user experience.

The above gallery of many photos represents one photos from each new adventure added (or eventually will be added) to the website over the past two years and seeing them all laid out certainly brings back some memories. It's been a lot of fun visiting new places, trying new things and reveling in going back to favourite trails and re-doing them with fresh photos and perspective. The website is a great catalyst for making the most of my time, whether that be on holidays or just finding time on the weekends, and I don't think I'd have lived the same life without it. With the global pandemic still continuing on, planning trips, especially anything requiring air travel was a bit of a gamble and unlike my podcast partner, I was fortunate enough to not have lockdowns interfere with the two main trips I had in 2021. In 2022, the borders opened and the little protected bubble that we'd been living in was gone. That presented new challenges and I'll speak more to that later on in the piece.

For now, I'll break it up into the two separate years again, so now would be a good time to go brew yourself a beverage if you're planning on reading the whole thing. Here goes...

2021 - An Epic Year of Adventure

New Trails - 75

Total Distance - 1,388.5km

Website Visits - 443,074 (down 17.2% on 2020)

With the world thrown into chaos in early 2020, there was meant to be a "return to normal" in 2021 that just never eventuated. For the most part, those of us living in Western Australia continued a fairly normal life apart from a few rolling lockdowns that never lasted more than a week. We could continue to travel, although it came with a degree of risk, and looking back it was a much simpler time. The early part of the year was spent on my road bike as the decision to ride an end to end of the Munda Biddi had been made in late 2020. Having enjoyed road cycling in my younger days, it was nice to get back out and put some kilometres in the legs, made easier by some of the great cycling infrastructure we have in Perth. I purchased a new mountain bike for the Munda Biddi and combined my road riding with early morning loops on the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail, a trail I always planned to add to the website after walking the full 42km but riding it is a much better experience. Along with cycling, I added a couple of new snorkeling spots to the website with Mettams Pool and the Cottesloe Eco Shark Barrier making for some nice summer fun. 

The first big trip of the year came in April as Caris and I flew to Tasmania and joined her aunt and uncle for a three week driving tour of the island. Starting in Hobart and visiting Mount Field National Park, we moved onto Lake Pedder, then Lake St Clair, followed by a tour of the west coast including Strahan, Corinna and Arthur River. With Candy and Hal being active people, I filled up the trip with hikes ranging from little ambles to mountain epics, not thinking I'd get to do everything on my list. As it turned out, there wasn't much to do but hike in the places we visited, so I ended up adding 28 trails to the website, something that kept me busy throughout the middle part of the year. This trip is one that I look back on with utter fondness and reading back through the posts and seeing all the beautiful places we visited fills me with such a comforting energy. Highlights from what was a trip of highlights include climbing Mount Field West, gazing out over the wilderness from The Needles Track, the stunning beauty of Lake Pedder and tackling the challenging Mount Sprent, hiking through snow at Lake St Clair on the Shadow Lake Circuit, driving along the Lyall Highway and experiencing all the short trails, the Western Wilderness Railway, the cosy and secluded feeling of Corinna and all the wonderful trails to explore, plus getting to experience Arthur River and a tour of what's left of the Tarkine. I'll always remember this trip with great affection and was a fantastic way to start 2021.