While there were other options at Glenworth Valley aside from the Bear Grylls Survival Academy course I volunteered for, like kayaking or quad biking, I really felt learning to survive when you’re lost was something I might need if I ever go anywhere near a tree.
I recently had to write out a list of my phobias. Here’s a copy and paste:
Recently I decided it was time to do something about all this angst and these days I’m happily facing my fears when an opportunity presents itself.
Shortly after entering the huge central NSW property, we met our guide, Andy – sort of a Bear Grylls‘ Aussie cousin type bloke. He was awesome: friendly, informative and a great sense of humour.
It turns out, Andy was warned (I don’t think that’s a stretch) there was a blogger coming along on today’s outing.
“I thought you’d be wearing skin tight three quarter capri pants,” he told me.
“He’s not a fashion blogger,” Tracey assured him.
“Oh, I can tell,” he grinned, giving me another look over. And here I was wearing my favourite Dangermouse t-shirt too.
Our biggest concern was the bit on the website which said we’d be navigating through a thin crevice. Clearly it had been playing on Tracey’s mind too.
“Will he need butter? Olive oil?” she asked.
“We’ve had a guy bigger than him,” he assured her.
A guy. One. Thanks, you bugger.
My concerns were not allayed when I struggled to get through the gap in the fence as we left.
“Bye,” Tracey called as Andy lead our six strong group off towards the bush. I say called, I mean she was pissing herself at my expense. “Have fun. I’ll keep an eye out for the rescue chopper.”
Heading into the scrub, I deliberately didn’t ask the names of the other hikers along for the survival course, for the same reason you don’t name livestock. Name them and you run the risk of forming an attachment, which makes the decision to eat them that much harder. I take my survival lessons seriously. Plus, because teachers were allowed to traumatize students when I was a kid, I had Alive: The Story Of The Andes Survivors read out to me when I was in primary school, so I knew it might come to this.
Andy had read a few good survival books too. One thing I was super impressed with was his ability to dance around icky topics, like the way Aron Ralston survived, because there was a young boy of 10 years in the group. Personally, I was happy about this because I didn’t want to hear the details either.
Then we got down to it and our guide gave us some great survival tips, such as prioritising what you need to do if you ever find yourself lost. Disappointingly, food was way at the bottom of that list. We even learnt how to start a fire from scratch (using a nifty flintstone tool, so that was sort of a pun).
As Andy explained, “Campfires make us feel good. They’re great for keeping spirits up. You think, ‘Yes, I made a fire. I’m not completely useless!'”
“That’s exactly how I feel every time I start the BBQ,” I assured him.
Speaking of which, I’m getting one of these flintstone things to start our next mid-winter fire pit in the backyard because it is super impressive to watch and I actually managed to do it (!!!). Usually, I struggle to start our pit with matches and firestarters. But don’t tell Tracey. I want to surprise her so she demands sexxy time with me.
While I think of it though, I would just like to offer any future participants of this course a little advice. If your guide asks, “Do you want to go the easy way or the fun way?” he doesn’t mean fun in the way you and I mean fun. He means steeper, harder and faster. I think the fun bit is him getting to watch us city folk gasping for air when we arrive.
So there. I did it. And I’m seriously super friggin happy I did….because I’ll now be able to write a book on the experience. I’m calling it I Survived Three Hours Lost In The Aussie Bush. All fact took too, because despite being probably 500 to 1000 meters from the base where a mere 200 horses were being ridden, I was soooo lost up there. Every now and then we could hear a very distant sounding quad bike group heading somewhere, but that was it. You can really get a sense of why this sort of thing keeps popping up on the news.
Having climbed and done a John McClane off a cliff, am I still scared of heights? Oh, yeah. I don’t think that’ll ever change. But I now know I can push this particular fear aside and do what I need to do.
Which is important.
Because as we all know, one of the best ways to escape from zombies is to be where they can’t get to.
“Raising a family on little more than laughs”
Sharing. It really does make a difference. Thanks.
Not exactly a sponsored post, but Destination NSW were lovely enough to organise for me to take this adventure