Adventure Day: Crosslands Walk

I’ve gotten out of the habit of thinking to blog about our Adventure Days. We still have them and we’re planning a lot more. We recently went on a bush walk at Crosslands in Hornsby. This small walk is part of a much larger walk called The Great North Walk which is a 250km walk connecting Sydney to Newcastle. One day we’d love to walk the whole thing but for now, micro-adventures like this one are more our style.

Crosslands is located at the end of Sommerville Road in Hornsby Heights. To get to the start of this walk you need to travel down quite a windy road and then park at the far north end of the carpark. It’s free parking (and entry) with gates opening at sunrise and setting at sunset (there’s a call out fee if you’re locked in so make sure you’re on time!). You can even camp overnight at the reserve but there is a fee involved for this and for more information you can check out Hornsby Council’s website.

At 2km it was our longest Bushwalk, however, as the kids walked the whole way I think I’ll actually take that as a matter of pride. I left the walk thinking that there’s a good business opportunity for someone to teach parents how to bush walk with their kids. I felt I was a bit out of my depth with the “don’t touch that tree – see the spiders” and “let’s not put our fingers down the holes we see, little things live in there that might bite you” and knowing when to let them scramble over rocks and when not to… On the whole I want to be a stand off parent and let the kids adventure/find their limits, however, I also think there’s a responsibility to know how to educate properly and be prepared for what might happen. I’ll be brushing up on my knowledge in these areas before my next walk.
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Pregnancy Rating:
 5 – Until we turned around (we walked up until the track got a little less toddler friendly and then turned around) it was a lovely walk with very little incline
. You could push a pram along the first kilometre or so and getting out in nature like this and the ability to sit by the water is lovely.

Toddler Rating: 4 – Adventure Girl and Dash both really enjoyed their outing and felt a great deal of pride in being able to do it. The walk does go along water though and, as it’s a bush walk there are hazards and creepy crawlies… this is why it got a 4
not a 5.

Older Kid Rating: 5 – You can hike for as long as you want and afterwards even go for a swim!

Thank God it’s Friday Adventures: #1 Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden

For some time now, Adventure Girl and I have been celebrating the end of the week by going somewhere new, having lunch and an explore. While we’ve been to the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden before for an hour’s walk around the paved loop track, I really wasn’t up for pushing her pram up the quite steep hills (come to think of it, I wasn’t up for it the first time either!). We decided instead to check out the playground we passed on our walk the time before and had a wonderful time looking at the swamp wallaby (and her joey) along with enjoying the outdoors.

The Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Gardens are located on Mona Vale road, quite close to St Ives. There’s ample parking 3 minutes walk from the playground marked as Lambert’s Clearing Picnic Area. There’s bathroom and BBQ facilities along with a covered seating area that can be booked for parties.

Ku-ring-gai Wildflower GardenPregnancy Rating: 3.5 – The play area isn’t enclosed so there is the possibility for needing to run after children, but there’s also plenty to children entertained and tables to sit at. The walk from the car park isn’t too strenuous and can easily be accomplished while pushing a pram.

*warning: please be aware that the loop track (taking about an hour) is considered wheelchair friendly and is marked easy. When I did this in the early stages of pregnancy I was exhausted by the steep bits and did find the walk much harder than anticipated. It was doable but only just.

Toddler Rating: 3.5 – Adventure Girl rather enjoyed her outing but the bark chip playground was used a bit like a sandpit (sigh) and the play equipment soon got crowded with bigger kids. There is quite a lot to explore though and given a carer with more energy she could have stayed much longer.

Older Kid Rating: 5 – The bike paths are great, along with quite a lot to explore and enjoy.

How we eat cheap meat that’s ethically produced

I’ve been very impacted by Philip Lymbery’s book Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat and reading it cemented and refined my desire to be careful about what our family consumes when it comes to animal products. On a limited budget though, eating only pasture fed, chemical free and sustainable produce can be difficult – for all types of food, meat, dairy or otherwise. It’s a challenge though that I relish in and finding produce we can afford that fits our mindset is one of the things I like about being a stay-at-home-mum and having more time on my hands to find the bargains. Most of the time when it comes to meat I’ll shop at the gourmet supermarkets and only buy something when it’s marked down due to soon reaching it’s use by date. Often I’ll be able to pick up incredible (mostly organic) products at 1/3 or 1/4 of the price – into the freezer they go! We hardly ever eat steak though and mostly feed on “secondary cuts” or mince largely supplemented by beans, legumes and vegetables. Belted Galloway Beef BoxFor a long time I’ve been on Feather and Bone‘s mailing list, waiting for the time when available finances, freezer space and suitable product collide. A fortnight ago they did and today, on return from our Thank God it’s Friday Adventure, a courier was waiting to deliver our Ashrose Belted Galloway Beef Box. Dry aged for 4 weeks, pasture fed and chemical free, this sustainably raised beef would usually be way out of our budget. The beauty of shopping around though has meant that we can afford 10KG of this meat and feed off it for the next 3 months. What Mr Incredible is excited about is that we get steak!! The box was filled with both “prime” and “secondary” cuts that will make both of us happy, along with knowing where our meat has come from and how it’s been produced. In the future we’d like to buy direct from a farmer for all our meat, and buy more of the whole animal, but until we can afford a deep freezer 10kg is our maximum purchase. Making intentional choices about what we consume can be hard to follow through with. When we manage to fulfil those intentions with actual buying decisions however, and can see consistent success with living a certain way, the satisfaction can be immense. That’s how it is with me at least, and I look forward to brining our steak to BBQs in the near future – just in time for summer! Why we buy pasture / grass fed animal products:

  1. It’s better for you. For both milk and meat, the research indicates that grass fed animals have a higher concentration of Omega 3 content and in meat, lower levels of saturated fats than grain fed cattle. http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/7905466  http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/15023647 http://www.pariscreekbeef.com.au/did_you_know02.php
  2. It’s better for the animal. There’s a lot of research on this one (and it’s also covered convincingly in Farmageddon) but it doesn’t take a lot of research to tell you what’s obvious to anyone observing the animals.
  3. It’s better for the environment. As Feather and Bone write: “For these producers, whose holy grail is the achievement of a perfectly balanced, harmonious orchestra of soil, plants and animals in the patch over which they have custodianship, the name of their farm is shorthand for their entire approach to life. Because farming for the long term, without the habitual use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other artificial inputs, requires a level of acute observation, responsiveness and agility that many farmers either aren’t prepared to give or feel would compromise their short term productivity too seriously to be viable.” To read something directly from a farmer go to : http://www.blackwoodvalleybeef.com.au/index.php/our-philosophy
  4. It tastes better.

Research each of these points yourself though – there’s a lot of information on the www and differing views. At the end of the day we all need to make our own choices.