The Notepad is a monthly column written by @rubyclaireee exploring what it means to be a guest on this wild and abundant planet. Most of these thoughts have been scribbled, in some way, in the notepad she carries in her backpack (or pannier).


Last Saturday I woke up hungover. I wrapped myself in a fitted sheet and cursed the stretched elastic that caused it to peel off my mattress.

I cursed the sun and cursed the empty glass of water beside my bed. The light burned my eyes. The sound of traffic burned my ears. Everything hurt. I had organised a bushwalk with some mates, but I bailed at 6am, sending the group chat a ‘Sorry, I literally can’t move’ text before going back to sleep.

Drinking enough to earn myself a hangover the next morning is not common for me. I grew up mildly allergic to most wines and beers, and after one too many side-of-the-road sharts I decided that maybe it wasn’t for me. While I indulge in the few that I can tolerate, namely tequila and amaretto sours, I don’t feel the impetus to close off the week by getting on the piss.

As someone who’s bound to a 9-5, my weekends hold immense value. Come Friday I stare down the barrel of two consecutive days of sheer, unbridled freedom and I weep with joy.

48 hours to do with what I wish!! Or, if I can wrap up at 3pm on a Friday, 57 hours. That’s HEAPS.



I have done a lot with such weekends:

Fly to Tassie, pick up a hire car, hike up to Lake Rhona, sleep on the sky-high beach and make my way back, stopping for a pub feed and a bevvy on the way. Fly in Monday morning and head straight to the office.

Drive out to the Warrumbungles (yes, a 6-ish hour drive from Sydney for a humble weekend!) to hike the Breadknife on my own. Camp in the national park, befriend the grey nomads and share a bite to eat.  

Drive out to Kosciuszko to do the Main Range track – driving into the night and pitching tents in the dark, right at the start of the walk, before ascending into the clouds.

Bikepack through Namadgi National Park, camping by the river and by a hut and playing allll the rounds of Monopoly Deal over chai lattes. 


A tent in a body of water


These are things that a hangover definitely inhibits. Landscapes left to remain as images in your Google Search while your brain keeps your head firmly planted on the pillow.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to haul my body across a dance floor in a tirade of energy, kicking my shoes off and throwing my head around. I love drinking a cocktail in a back-alley bar or cracking a tinny on a milk crate in a mate’s backyard.

I don’t want to give off the impression that there’s a hierarchy with leisure time, that spending it outdoors suddenly makes you a Much Better Person. This is more for the folk who find themselves in a cycle that they don’t want to be in anymore. Who want to tap out of the just-for-the-helluvit drinking. Who are experiencing the negative aspects of drinking in more ways than one.

The pressure to drink can be relentless, especially if your relationships are fostered in pubs and bars. It can be difficult to unpeel yourself from the stickiness of that lifestyle, as you feel the tug of a different kind of leisure. Setting boundaries, communicating them and sticking to them is hard, and beginning that journey can take a while.

Here are a few things that have helped myself and friends I’ve spoken to navigate this journey:

🏕 If you’re on socials, fill your feeds with people living more of the life you want to live. If that’s outdoors, follow people who hike and bike and camp. This will serve as a passive reminder and a source of inspiration.

🏕 Plan a trip. Just one. Get your mates psyched about it. A lifestyle change doesn’t happen overnight.

🏕 Tell someone you trust that you want to cut back your drinking. Ask them to help you. This help can take many forms, but knowing you’ve got someone on side is important.

🏕 Try some non-alcoholic options. Get some alcohol-free beers in the fridge or take knockoffs to somewhere they’re available.

A lot of us like to drink to wind down from the hard yakka of the week (how many times does this accidentally become a 6-beers-deep wind UP?). But I assure you, getting the blood pumping and moving your body outside does the same thing. It takes your mind off the chaos back home and gives you a bit of awe, which does wonders for your body and your mental health.


If you or someone you know is struggling with their relationship with alcohol, there are a number of free support services available. 

Alcohol and Drug Foundation Helpline: 1300 858 584 (9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday)

Alcohol Drug Information Service (ADIS): 1800 250 015 (24 hours/day, 7 days/week) – ADIS webchat is available Monday to Friday 8.30am – 5pm (including public holidays).

Alcoholics Anonymous: 1300 222 222 (24 hours/day, 7 days/week)

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 (24 hours/day, 7 days/week).  You can also chat online with the Beyond Blue Support Service every day from 3pm until 12am.

Lifeline: 13 11 14 (24 hours/day, 7 days/week)