I moved to Sydney two years ago after having lived in Queensland for 8½ years: about 2½ years on the Gold Coast and six years in Brisbane. The move to the Sunshine State was not necessarily planned. After I finished my degree in Melbourne, I applied for a Masters degree at two universities- one Sydney and one on the Gold Coast. Not really having a preference between the two, my decision was ultimately made because the course on the Gold Coast had a mid-year start; giving me a six month sabbatical to travel.
Having planned to return to Melbourne after the 18 month course, fate had me stay in Queensland after a job offer straight after uni and subsequent jobs that gave me the fortune explore some regional corners of the state.
Queensland will always hold a special place in my heart. So much of who I am today came from that experience of moving out of home to a place some 1700km from my family. It brought me independence, forced me to learn how to cook and gave me experiences in places I never knew existed- all of which laid foundations to The Nutrition Nomad.
I still travel back to Queensland regularly to catch up with friends and see their lives evolve through travel, new jobs, new homes, marriages and children.
A couple of weeks ago I was back on the Gold Coast to celebrate a friend’s hens night and also to visit my friend Colin, who had recently moved back to Australia after a stint in France. Colin, a friend I met over eight years ago when we were studying in the same building, has been a great travelling, hiking and climbing buddy throughout the years despite the fact we often annoy the hell out of each other.
We decided to head to the Gold Coast Hinterland to hike the Coomera Circuit in Lamington National Park (Binna Burra section)- which is up there as one of my all-time favourite National Parks in the world . Named after Lord Lamington, the Governor of Queensland from 1896-1902, the spot has a diverse range of walks, lush rainforest, amazing waterfalls and rivers and some fabulous lookouts. Even David Attenborough recognised this unique beauty, having visited in the ‘70s to film beech trees and bowerbirds in his Life on Earth series.
I have a lot of history with Lamington National Park. It was the place where I became initiated to independent hiking, being the place where I went on my first solo day walk (on the very Coomera Circuit that we recently hiked) and my first solo overnight hike (O’Reilly’s to Binna Burra- return).
Over the years, I have completed every walk in the Binna Burra section of the National Park multiple times and have rich mix of memories from my times there. There was the time when a possum snuck into my tent and I woke up to him drinking my soy milk (who knew possums were lactose-intolerant?), the time when Colin forgot his shoes and walked 20km in thongs, the time I came across some topless hikers (not just men!) and the countless times I ran through the forest in the rain to try to stop leeches from latching onto my legs and feet.
Walking the Coomera Circuit was like being at home again. There was the familiarity of the trees, the waterfalls, little streams and the bush turkeys but also of the smells and sounds of the rainforest. Being in nature can expose a simplicity that is often muffled when you live in a city as big as Sydney.
To really live the simplicity, Colin and I decided to take some basic, lightweight cooking equipment so I could prepare a simple lunch near the Coomera Falls. Armed with a hikers stove, gas can, aluminium pan and a couple of forks, I was able to prepare some simple flour tortillas and make a pizza-like sandwich filled with tomato, basil pesto and cheese. It was simple, satisfying and delicious (if I do say so myself). You can find the recipe for my Flour Tortillas here.
There is really nothing like Lamington National Park and this year, in July, it will celebrate it’s 100th birthday of being established. I hope to head back there during that month to celebrate with a couple of walks and of course, keep re-visiting in many years to come. I just cannot get enough of that place. But hey, I guess I will always be Lady Lamington…