21.07.2023 | Updates from the Illawarra & our chat with the Backyard goat 🌿🐐

Jul 21, 2023 1:31 am

We protect what we love


FRIDAY 21.07.2023.

Hello and happy Friday, wonderful humans.

As per usual, the FWP crew have been out and about exploring the natural wonders of our world. After the major Feb 2022 floods that caused landslides around Mt Nardi, National Parks have been working overtime to clear the tracks, and two trails have recently been reopened. Zac ran them both last weekend, and said it “was heaven to be back in the big scrub. Hilary is still exploring the beautiful NSW Central Coast, and is sampling the recently opened Tomaree Coastal Walk, a 20km track that connects Tomaree Head with Birubi Beach just north of Port Stevens. Meanwhile, I've finally built up the strength and endurance to start running my Surry-Bondi-Surry loop, and it's always well worth the early alarm (and have been enjoying my Mango Ice Tea and Raspberry Trail Brew).


Bondi sunrise, Gadigal land.

In this week's newsletter, Will provides an update on the nngaraba-aan trail, as part of Illawarra Escarpment FWP focus area, including the impact of mining in the area and the cultural significance of Hill 60 for Indigenous Australians. We also provide a summary of Trail Chat #15 with Phil Gore, where we spoke about his experience in Backyard Ultra racing, as well as his recent world record in the Dead Cow Gully. You can also now catch Hilary's recent TEDx talk on YouTube, where she tells the story for For Wild Places and the Pilliga Ultra. You can watch it here. We hope you enjoy the read, or watch! 👀


The nngaraba-aan trail, Dharawal country (by Will)

The Illawarra escarpment is an absolute treasure for trail runners. If you live in and around Wollongong, you only need to head west, up the escarpment, and you’re in paradise. But there are other pockets around the Illawarra of interest to trail lovers too.


From left to right: (1) Ngaraba-aan Trail, heading up Hill 60; (2) Ngaraba-aan Trail, just south of Boilers Point at base of Hill 60 and; (3) view from a Ngaraba-aan side-trail, looking out over Big Island and Rocky Islet.

The Ngaraba-aan Trail, in Port Kembla, is one such place. Ngaraba-aan, a local Dharawal word, means ‘Past, present and future’. The trail constructs a connection between historically significant places for Aboriginal people and represents a return to home. Part of the trail starts at the northern end of MM Beach, runs up and over Hill 60, across the hind dunes of Port Kembla beach, to the beautiful lagoon at Coomaditchie.

As mining and manufacturing took hold in the Illawarra, Aboriginal communities were forced off their land. MM Beach (named after local company Metal Manufacturers) is a significant traditional Aboriginal site and a long-term occupied, sustainable coastal community and gathering place. The ancient middens along the length of the beach - some of the biggest on the coastline - are testament to the thousands of years of sustainable occupation. As World War I loomed, the local Aboriginal community faced intense pressure to leave the area to make way for heavy industry. Many left for Coomaditchie lagoon.

Hill 60 (Illowra) is a site of immense cultural and spiritual significance to the Aboriginal people of the Illawarra region. Occupied and made use of for thousands of years, it is dotted with middens and burial sites, tangible evidence of its role in the everyday life of the local people. It is also a site of storytelling and ceremony.


North end of MM Beach, looking south to Hill 60.

Just before WWI, the Australian government acquired Hill 60 for defence purposes. Coastal defences were constructed to defend Port Kembla including tunnels, gun emplacements and an air raid shelter. During this time the Public Works Department tried numerous times to force the local community off the land. By WWII, all remaining Aboriginal people were forcibly moved to other locations such as Coomaditchie lagoon or the hind dunes. Houses were burnt down or demolished so people couldn't return, but they always did.


View from Hill 60 lookout, looking out over Martin Islet, Big Island and Rocky Islet

The Ngaraba-aan represents the trail made by Aboriginal people making their way from Coomaditchie back to gathering and other important places at Hill 60 and MM Beach. It’s not the longest trail but definitely one of the most interesting given its history. Weeds have taken their toll but there’s still plenty of native vegetation including banksia and coastal heath on the trail.

It’s a trail in need of some love. For Wild Places is in talks with the local Aboriginal community to organise a TRACTION event in the coming months.

Stay tuned for details!

🙌🏽 🌿 🏃‍♂️


Tuning in from the outskirts of Perth in WA, Phil Gore talked about his experience of Backyard Ultras, including mindset, key learnings, end-of-race goal setting, gear and much more.

In case you didn’t know, earlier this year, Phil broke the world record for the longest distance in a backyard ultra - running 600kms (373 miles) in four days on a cattle farm (known as Dead Cow Gully) in southern Queensland.


Dead Cow Gully backyard ultra race course.

Phil explains that the idea was to get all the top runners from Australia, a few from NZ and a contender, Harvey Lewis, from the USA to give the event the opportunity to go a really long distance. The backyard ultra format requires runners to complete a loop of 6.7kms (4.1 miles) every hour, with the race continuing until one runner remains. That final runner only completes one more lap after the second last person drops out, so the stronger the field, the longer an event is likely to go. So whilst Phil didn’t go into the event with the goal to break the world record, with the elite field, knew that it was a possibility (and was excited about this).

To get through the backyard ultra format, Phil doesn’t overwhelm himself with the big distance, but instead focuses on each lap, knowing that he might be there for a while. And each lap is planned to a ‘T’ - he knows the pace he will run at, what he’ll eat, whether he’ll sleep or not etc. If you approach it this way, “stay in the present, go lap by lap and let the miles come to you”, you’ll do well.

You'll have to tune in to watch the full chat here to learn more.

🐐 🐐 🐐


In next week's newsletter, we introduce our next guest on Trail Chat #16, the legendary runner who is currently half way through his 14,400km run around Australia, Pat Farmer.

And as always, thank you for taking the time, for wild places.

Elanor (she/her) & the For Wild Places team



We acknowledge the the First Nations people who have been custodians of land, waters and culture for tens of thousands of years. We pay respects to First Nations Elders past, present and emerging.

This email was written on Dharawal and Gadigal lands. To these people, we pay our respects.

Always was, always will be.