Judith White - Moonrise. Image courtesy Defiance Gallery.
Sixteen artists, a trailer and a trek on the 233km Larapinta Trail through the heart of Australia, west from Alice Springs.
Each year celebrated painter Leo Robba takes groups of artists, some established professionals, others enthusiastic amateurs, out to the Larapinta for a week of walking and working.
An exhibition their results is in Sydney’s Defiance Galleries in Paddington and Newtown. Continue reading
It’s pretty simple really. Lots of places have great hiking, but Nepal has the greatest treks of them all. I was privileged to be invited on this trip, and ‘voluntourism’ was an excellent way to start. I can’t gush about this enough!
As we gasp for breath in the thin air above his village, Ang Tshering Sherpa tells us a story. When he was a little boy, his mother sent him up this mountain to tend the family yak. It was cold, so Ang sneaked some matches and lit a fire to keep warm. But the wind sent the blaze racing out of control, burning the whole hillside and bringing all the neighbours running to save their livestock.
Thirty years later, Ang has more than repaid his village for the trouble he caused them. At thirteen he became a mountain guide. Then when a grateful Australian client asked what his village most needed, Ang explained that the nearest medical help for many Sherpas was a gruelling 2-day walk away. Not only are there no roads here, there are no wheels. Sick or injured patients have to be carried on the back of man or beast.
Kushudebu Medical Centre. Photo - Rebecca Thornton
So funds were raised, and in 2006 the Kushudebu Medical Centre
opened, with Ang Tshering as its president, and support from organisations including Australian schools, travel company World Expeditions
and many individuals. It now treats over 10,000 patients a year, and pays for the medical training of young Nepalis who will be its future staff. We’ve just visited it, and we’re starting to realise we’re in an extraordinary place with a remarkable man.
Ten Australians and three Britons have come to Nepal to work on Ang Tshering’s next initiative, building incinerators to dispose of the garbage polluting land and waterways. Then he’s taking us on a nine-day trek. Continue reading
The yeti scalp in its place of honour.
I’ve been sorting out photos of my recent expedition to Nepal, for publication with an article I wrote for the Sun-Herald newspaper – coming soon, don’t miss it.
I found some curious photos I’d almost forgotten in the excitement.
…about as exciting as watching yak dung drying.
The air is thin in Khumjung village, altitude 3790 metres, just off the main ‘Everest Highway’ which leads trekkers like us towards the top of the world. There’s little between the Khumjung houses but stone walls and little fields, with juniper berries and yak dung drying on sheets of plastic.
Khumjung Village, Nepal
But the Khumjung Gomba buddhist monastery has one irresistible tourist attraction – a yeti scalp, which they acquired in a curious way… Continue reading
Due to bad weather, flights to Lukla have been cancelled for the three days. We’re only going to Phaphlu, but there’s a such a backlog at Kathmandu Airport that we’re unlikely to get a plane there for another two days. ‘Two possibilities,’ says our guide Ang, ‘we could take a helicopter tomorrow, which will cost an extra $450 each. Or we could take a bus and walk to Phaphlu from there.’
Our group discusses this for a while, before someone asks, ‘Just how long is the bus ride?’
Ang considers this for a while. ‘Maybe eleven-twelve hours.’
‘And we can walk from there?’
‘We can walk, yes.’
More thought, then, ‘Maybe four days walking.’
‘We’ll take the helicopter please.’
It turns out to be money very well spent. A forty minute flight, with views of the Himalayas that we’ll remember forever.
The writer was the guest of World Expeditions.
I leave for Nepal today. The scenery should be spectacular, the physical challenge should be good for me (“that which doesn’t kill me makes me strong”), the cultural exchange with the Sherpas and buddhist monks should be fascinating. But I may need some stuff to play with. Continue reading