Apr 8, 2013

Feeding the Muse

I’m thrilled to be a new LoveCat and am excited about doing my first LoveCat blog.

Today is the deadline for my third Destiny Romance book. It’s meant lots of early morning starts and late night edits. But it’s done. The final spell check has been run. All the edits have been made. The End has been typed. And the story is now in the ether on its way to my editor.  To say my mood is one of elation is a massive understatement.

But I’m also feeling emotionally wrung dry. My characters have stolen all my creative energy.  It’s time to nourish the muse, recondition the spirit, fill the well. So I’m going to give myself a few days off. Ah bliss.

Whenever I have time off, I love to travel. I gave the muse a massive feast recently by hiking the Tasmanian Overland Track. It is a place of extraordinary beauty and a wonderful way to escape the everyday.

Now I love hiking, but camping and I go together like Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Collins. The Mr Darcy of this tale takes the form of Cradle Mountain Huts Walk. The company has been running guided walks for over twenty-years and of course, they have huts.  Huts mean hot meals, hot showers, warm cabins and chilled wine. All this delivered by young, fit guides who take care of everything. Food tastes oh, so much better when you’ve walked at least twelve kilometers and someone else has cooked.

There is some work involved in this hike.  I had to carry my own clothes and personal items.  My pack weighed about seven kilos which was very manageable. If you wanted clean clothes you washed them in the shower each night for which you pumped your own water.

Each day was a delightful routine of waking to the sounds of the bush, which are very different to those of my northern-NSW bush.  I’m used to waking to a chorus of birds singing their hearts out at the crack of dawn. On the Overland Track there were very few birds, which seemed unnatural. A hot breakfast was on the table by the time I’d made it down the stairs from my twin-share room. A lovely array of food was laid out for me to choose from to pack for lunch. Then packs on for the all-day walk usually between seven and twelve kilometers.  Upon arrival at the hut in the afternoon, one of the guides (we had two for the ten of us) had cooked fresh scones or some other tasty treats which were washed down with freshly brewed coffee or tea.

There were so many highlights, but for me the best experience was climbing Tasmania’s highest peek, Mt Ossa. It stands at 1,617 metres in the middle of the national park. Making it to the top does involve a lot of scrambling over huge boulders. The view is worth it even if you are little intimidated by the climb (could all those boulders slide further down the mountain as I’m trying to climb up?!?!?). This three-hour detour from the main track is not to be missed. You can see a quarter of Tasmania from the top and not one man-made thing (well there is an old disused mining road to be east, but we ignored that).
Our guides were lovely, knowledgeable and fit. They were passionate about conservation and taught us lots of interesting ecological facts.  We visited a myriad of beautiful waterfalls; a disused mine shaft featuring one lonely spider and lots of cave crickets (ugly little critters); held Fairy’s Aprons, sweet little purple flowers; splashed in freezing rivers and lakes and learned about the wonderful array of native fauna and flora. Around every bend was another incredible vista.

Of course I, being a total snake-a-phobe, was the only one to see a snake up way too close. I nearly stepped on it when I rounded the corner of our first hut at Barn Bluff.  Our guide told me how lucky I was. I just met Tigger, the highly toxic local Tiger snake. 

By the end of the trip my creative cup runneth over. I now have a wonderful new setting for my next book.

Is there somewhere you love to go to recharge? Or somewhere you’re dreaming about visiting?  I’d love to hear.


  1. Jennifer, thanks so much for sharing your experience. It brought back lovely, lovely memories. I walked that track years ago, but in the days when there were no guides ready to cook for you, or hot showers or twin share cabins. Yet, despite carrying all my food and gear, and staying in drafty old cabins, it was a wonderful experience. It's a magical place. You've made me wonder about doing it again, but in comfort this time. Now, wouldn't that be nice?

  2. Sounds such a great trip Jennifer! Thanks for sharing about it all!

    And congratulations for meeting the deadline!

  3. Wow Annie, I'm impressed! The walk was so lovely, but I don't know if I could have done it without a warm shower at the end of the day. But then, I'm a bit of a wimp. Highly recommend the cabin version, complete with cooks!

  4. Thanks Nas. Meeting that deadline feels oh so good!

  5. Jennifer, what a wonderful experience! I was in Tasmania last October and the place is extraordinarily beautiful. Your picture reminds me of the landscape near Lakes Pedder and Gordon -- so picturesque. I think you've found the perfect place to unwind and refill the well.

    As for me, I'm dreaming dreams of London (as always) and Munich. And it looks like that might become a reality in August. :-)

  6. Jen, I've only been to Tasmania once and I loved it - we went to Bruny Island for a writing retreat. Can't wait to go back to Tas. And after seeing your photos, maybe the Tasmanian Overland Track should be on my list!

  7. I love, love, love London too, Michelle. I lived there for nearly seven years back in in 90s.

    Very excited for you that you're off OS.

  8. Hmm, a writing retreat in Tas. Now that sounds like a fantastic idea, Rachel.

  9. Well done on being a new LoveCat - meow! - and your third book. Loved the post!

  10. What a great adventure, Jen! I've been on a couple of hiking holidays - the Routeburn Track in New Zealand and a 10 day trek in Nepal. Both fabulous and the Nepal one was really challenging - being fitter at the start would have been a huge improvement!

    I've been to Tassie a few times now and it's gorgeous! Once was to the Bruny Island lighthouse accommodation for the writing retreat with Rachel and Nikki! Awesome!

  11. That sounds amazing, Jen. And what a way to hike :)

  12. Thanks Carla. It's fun being a LoveCat!

  13. I'd love to hike in New Zealand, Sharon. I don't know about Nepal. Don't think I'm tough enough for that. I'm liking the idea of a writing retreat in Tas!!!

  14. I know, Kez. Five-star hiking is my kind of hiking!!

  15. It sounds exhausting, but wonderful.

  16. Actually Mary, it wasn't too exhausting. Some days I wished we could have walked further to justify all the lovely food we were eating in the evenings.

  17. Hi Jen, Super Congratulations meeting your deadline and for being a new LoveCat:)
    Your hiking trip sounds wonderful! All that fresh air and exercise. What a fabulous way to refill the well. Yep, bet you've guessed where I'm going to say. I'd love to go back to Scotland. The castles, beautiful scenery, the history *sigh*

  18. Firstly - so excited to be joining the Love Cats with you and Yvonne!

    Secondly...looks like I'm going to be the only party pooper here and say that your wilderness adventure sounds utterly torturous. Sooo not a nature girl! Dont get me wrong, I like to look at it
    but have absolutely no desire to rattle around in it - so kudos to you!

    I think I'll go to London with Michelle - that's more my style!

  19. Hi Jen, Congrats on meeting the deadline for your third book. Thanks for sharing your latest recharge.

  20. Hi Jen! So fabulous to have you join the lovecat family! Tasmania was looking wonderful and the hike amazing, until the s word was mentioned. I'm not a big fan of snakes, to say the least.

    Me and my hubby have managed to offload....ahem...encourage our boys to go away (to rellies in Sydney) in the next school holidays so we've planned our first getaway on our own in 17 years! We're going to Waiheke Island which is not far from where we live, but a ferry ride away (so we can say we're going overseas!) and I'm so looking forward to cycling around the local vineyards, eating too much, doing a bit of walking and generally chilling out with lots of books to read. Have to admit this last year writing books has been wild and fun, but it'll be so great to take time out and recharge.

  21. Hi Jen and congrats on handing your third book in!

    I absolutely love to hike (we call it tramping over here). I think your next adventure should be with me in the incredible Marlborough Sounds. We have a track named after Queen Charlotte and you walk over four days. It's by the sea all the way and is stunning. You can do the hut thing or you can stay in five star hotels and have your bag shipped between each place. What's more, we could stop in and have morning tea with Sue Mackay as she actually LIVES in the bush.

    Love the idea of recharging the batteries.

  22. Ah lovely Scotland, Allison. What a fabulous destination. I'd love to visit Scotland again.

  23. Yes, it's lovely to be a LoveCat with you, Amy and all the other fabulous LoveCats.

    Yes, nature, it's a acquired taste. I'm definitely not into the things that can poison (snakes, spiders etc) - that's why I like being in a nice cozy cabin at night. None of this tent business for me.

    I love London too. But, it was so great getting away from it all in the Aussie bush.

  24. Cycling around the local vineyards on a beautiful island sounds like pure bliss, Louisa.

    I'm with you, I'm terrified of snakes. That's why I think I'll do my next hiking trip in NZ. No chance of stepping on something that can kill you (is there?).

  25. Oh, I love the sound of the Marlborough Sounds tramp, Barb. Would be great to drop in on Sue! Tramping with five-star hotels is a very, very attractive option!

  26. The recharge was fantastic, Bernadette. There must be some lovely walks up your way.

  27. Hey Jen

    #1 - Yeah to see you on LoveCats!!!!!!!

    #2 - Yipeee on book 3 - you awesome lady!!!

    #3 - Your hike looks amazing - but then like you I'm a total snake-a-phobe so wouldn't want to meet Mr Tigger in person ... no matter how pretty he might be. But the scenery looks amazing... have yet to get to Tazzie.

    So glad your cup is filled again...

    I'm a gypsie by heart so would actually sneak into anyones destination be it London with AA and Michelle or Scotland with Allison, or even NZ with Barb or Nepal with Sharon (still have to get there too..) but I still always love to return to Africa for my battery top up.

    Waving hello like a mad women!

    Bye 4 now

  28. Waving like a crazy woman back at you, Tina.

    I loved it when I visited Africa but have to admit being just a little bit terrified!! Things that can kill you are everywhere! My safari was surrounded by elephants at one point and even the guy with the gun sitting up front was scared. Being chased by hippos in a canoe wasn't much fun either. But as previously stated, I am a wimp.

    But Africa is such an amazing, beautiful place. Victoria Falls, wow, what can I say, magnificent. And being just a few metres from a pride of lions, incredible. Watching a waterhole at dusk, one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.