1. Please introduce yourself.
Hi there; My name is Ben and I am a hiker, a brewer, a blacksmith, a runner, and finally; a salesman.
I come from a job that has me in front of a computer for most of my day, like most of you no doubt, and this has pushed me back to the bush.
I have a great love for making things from scratch, and all my hobbies are about getting far as I can from technology.
2. What is the story behind you site? How did it come to be?
I started Hike Australia because I went looking for some info on overnight hiking in Victoria and couldn’t find anything with real content.
It grew from there for a few years, I’ve since focused a lot less time on the blog, I still get out but I don’t find myself writing about it any more.
I still believe that I’ll circle around back to it eventuall, but right now homebrewing and Blacksmithing take up a lot of my time.
3. What is your preferred hiking gear?
Its a horses for courses situation for me, I’ll use a day pack for a day, a 40L pack for up to two days and usually a 75L for longer than that. Ill always carry a rain jacket, This is victoria after all, where it can bucket down with rain 12 hours after a 45 degree day (Thats a 113F for the american readers).
I am pretty agnostic when it comes to most gear, I find that I always seem to end up buying a lot Macpac though, I guess its because their designers seem to have the same sensibilities as me.
I try to make sure that I’ve made as much of my own gear as possible, even if its not the version I use, its great to understand the gear that intimately so that should I need to make a stove out of two coke cans or a knife from a glass bottle, I can.
4. Do you use a multi tool? What other tools do you use?
I cross pack a lot with Liz, so she will generally carry a generic version of a leatherman and I’ll carry a fixed blade knife. I always carry a GPS, Map and Compass. Funnily enough Maps never run out of batteries. I am an advocate of leaving most gadgets at home, because to carry too many flies in the face of why Im out in the bush to begin with!
I sometimes carry a hatchet, but it really depends on where I’m going, It would only be when I am able to process some firewood, so any national park hiking I leave this hefty bit of weight at home. I have been rolling around the idea of forging a new tomahawk style hatchet, but there is only so much time in the day.
5. What products do you most often review on your site?
I don’t do a lot of product reviews, I have had a few organisations ask me to look at different things over the years, but its rare. I will happily look at a product and give it my honest feedback.
I guess the answer is, gear that I’ve bought myself mostly!
6. Please give us 5 tips on how to make the most of a hike?
- Slow down, Im guilty of charging along and not truly enjoying the surroundings stop more regularly and take it all in; there generally aren’t any awards for getting to campsite first.
- Read a little about the local fauna and flora before you go. Its a lot more fun if you manage to see some interesting animals, the best short walk I’ve ever done I was followed along by a cast of Peregrine falcons. knowing a bit about their habits makes it much easier to spot them.
- Sometimes its nice to take a luxury food item. I love to take pudding, I really love pudding after a long hike. I know some people who even take frozen cider (which defrosts a lot better than beer).
- Try not talking for a while; Agree with your hiking partner a timeframe and say nothing. Its quite beautiful to be surrounded by silence for a few hours.
- Every time go you; try take something out of your pack that you dont absolutely need, there are a lot of things that you probably think are mandatory; you can do without, the lighter your pack, the nicer the hike.
7. What was your best hike?
I recently hiked up Kedarkantha, India; a smaller peak in the Himalayas, it was awful cold (-16 degrees), I woke up at 4am to get to the summit before the snow started to melt, it was waist deep in portions and was seriously slow going in some spots. We nearly had to turn back twice due to safety concerns, but each time just before we decided that the summit wasn’t an option, the weather would change and we could keep going.
I don’t think I’ll ever have best hike; I dont even have a favourite food; but I like to look back on that because it was incredibly difficult to put my feet in frozen shoes full of ice just to warm them up, but the pain is gone, and the achievement remains and I can always apply that to the next challenge.
8. Who is your favorite hiker and explorer?
I guess I’d have to say I am a fan of Major Mitchell, though I couldn’t say that i know that many. He was the primary surveyor of most of Victoria my home state. A lot of tracks, roads, even a cockatoo is named after him.
Though my interest in him is more of a passing one than anything exceptional.
9. A message to your readers.
Dont say you don’t have time for hiking, or anything to be honest. There is plenty of time in a day, its just about what we prioritise, you always have time to go bush, to hike, to run, to go to the gym, you just need to prioritise those over something else. Work to Live, don’t live to work.