Every time I get swept up in nature, I remember how blissful it can be. When standing on a hillside beneath a cloudless sky, floating in sea, or walking through bushland my body is soothed, my thoughts are caught up in the glorious present, and I feel nothing but joy.
Stepping away from our desks and into wilderness is good for the soul. I know this, and am reminded each time I’m amongst trees or beside the water. Why then do I sometimes struggle to get myself there? I am starting to wonder if it’s because the high I feel when switching off from deadlines and venturing into the wild is so exhilarating, the restoration so complete, that I keep it as a treat - a little bit of bliss amongst the buzz of the everyday.
So, with 2023 upon us and resolutions de rigger, I’ve decided that this year, the natural world will no longer be a reward. Instead, I will make it a regular ritual. Once a week I’ll lace up my hiking boots, load the polaroid camera, and seek out something beautiful. I will walk along rivers, bathe in swathes of green, and search for scenes so much bigger than myself. I shall remember that natural fixes are good for me. I’ll be in the moment. I will see these soothing getaways as the necessities they are.
Built to leave the smallest footprint possible (by using rain water, compost and solar power), Unyoked cabins slow you down, boost creativity, and leave you with a deep appreciation of place. I became acquainted with their boltholes while working on their Writer’s Anthology - a pocket-sized treasury of nature writing from brilliant Aussie wordsmiths. It was a lovely project to be part of; largely because it revealed just how many people have found solace in nature, and been compelled to put pen to paper to celebrate it.
I found my time with Unyoked equally inspiring. My first night in one of their cabins unfolded on the vine, forest and kangaroo-filled grounds of Blue Pyrenees Estate, a cool climate Victorian winery. I tired out another cabin while working on the Writer’s Anthology, using the time and space to make clearer editorial decisions and get lost in the brilliant words of others. But it was during my third visit to the Central Coast hinterland (travelling purely for fun this time), while gazing out from the wooden verandah across a sea of trees, that the seeds of my 2023 resolution were sown.
Yes, I’d been to the Central Coast before - and slumbered in cabins and drunk wine by a fire - but this getaway seemed special. When setting goals, there’s always a catalyst, and waking to the sound of cockatoos and watching the early morning sun transform the terrain was that moment for me. I remember commenting that I always felt this happy in nature, and then promptly wondering why didn’t I make these encounters happen more often? There really was nothing stopping me.
So, in 2023 I will stay with Unyoked again - their cabins in the Margaret River and Southern Highlands have my name written all over them. But I’ll also keep things simple. I will go on lazy rambles through Sydney’s Botanic Garden. I’ll swim at Camp Cove. I’ll drink in the views at the Royal National Park. I’ll make the time to watch a Freshwater sunrise.
I know time will pass and life will get busy. But my vow to keep up these regular jaunts into nature is something I’m going to stick to … because I’ve been shown time and again exactly how needed they are.
Words by Liz Schaffer & Photographs @trentandjessie