Kel loves adventuring after dark, and he reckons you will too.
This one goes out to my pale skinned brothers and sisters who, in genetic terms, should be running around the high mountains in Europe somewhere.
If you’re someone who’s suffering a serious case of Ginger-vitus (like me) or you simply want to try a different style of adventure, then this is the article for you! It’s time to branch out and see how Mother Nature looks after the sun disappears behind the horizon.
Nighttime adventures? Sounds like nope to me!
Why expose yourself to the denizens of the dark? Well, truth be told, there’s a lot to be said for nighttime adventures. The world around you constricts to the beam of bright light radiating from your forehead, and you’re subsequently forced to focus on Mother Nature’s minutiae. For me, this is where the true beauty exists and it’s how I spent a lot of evenings when I was a kid.
I was regularly running around in the dark gardens of Mum and Dad’s house with a torch in hand, poking and prodding whatever I could find. The excitement of finding my first Banjo frog as a little lad still shines bright in my memory banks. I also collected a lot of cane toads to deposit in the bottom of the freezer for their permanent winter sleeps. Admittedly that didn’t go down so well with the oldies!
So what can I see in the dark?
There are so many opportunities to see creatures (and other odd things) that you wouldn’t normally see during the day. An alien looking slug slithering along a gnarled tree root; a trapdoor spider scurrying to pull its lid shut when it feels the vibration from your footsteps; or a microbat whizzing over the top of a creek to nab a juicy hawk moth.
And while you might not be sweating, you may get to see some fungi sweating or weeping which is a process called guttation. It’s all there and I can guarantee that once you get your eye in, there’s a visual feast on display. You’ll be down on your hands and knees hoping that the macro camera setting on your smartphone is up to the challenge.
It gets dark every night, but when should I go?
If you want some peaceful adventure then you can basically go any old night of the year, but if you want to see oodles of critters then hit the forests in spring or summer after it’s rained. That’s when the action really heats up!
You can take a stroll along a wet rainforest track or, if you’re feeling game and have grippy shoes, you can do some rock hopping along a burbling little creek to check out the critters in and around the water. (This one’s not a good idea after or during heavy rainfall due to the risks of rapidly rising water.)
Sounds great, but I’m a little reluctant. Sell me the good stuff.
These are just some of the advantages to nighttime adventures:
- It’s typically very quiet due to the distinct lack of other people
- There’s significantly more wildlife to spy on (so many animals are nocturnal)
- It’s cooler, a big win in summer
- It’s as sun safe as you can get, a win for the individuals like me who are nearly see-through! I’m pretty sure the Cancer Council endorses nighttime adventures
Ok, sold! But what do I need to take, wear, eat, put on my feet?
There are a few important things you’ll need to think about when planning a nighttime escapade:
- Let someone know your route, departure, and estimated return times. If you decide midway to change your plans it’s a good idea to let those who love you know about your revised route
- Take a fully charged mobile and if lack of signal is a potential issue (and even if not) take a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)
- Know your route and stick to the track unless you’re very experienced in off-track nighttime navigation
- Take a couple of litres of water and snacks (let’s be honest that’s the most important element of any adventure)
- Insect repellent and/or a long sleeved shirt and pants are also a good way to ward off any biting critters
- Garlic (in case vampires are actually real – refer also to the point above regarding biting critters)
- A head torch with fresh batteries and a spare set of batteries. Ideally you should have a good 300 or so lumens of light radiating from your third eye to see all the critters (and to help spot incoming vampires)
- Clothes to suit the temperature/weather you’re likely to encounter, including a rain jacket or warm layers – it can get cold quickly at night
- Sturdy, grippy shoes
- Check the weather forecast before you go so you know what to expect and pack accordingly. Don’t let pride get in the way (lads take note), if conditions deteriorate while you’re out there then get cracking back to the car
Read more: Packing List for a Day Hike
Where can I go to find a nighttime adventure destination that will fill my IG followers with envy?
There’s a veritable feast of beautiful locations suited to nighttime adventures. Check out the We Are Explorers Adventure Map and get searching!
Some of our favourites include Mungo National Park for its dark starry skies, Glow Worm Glen south west of Sydney, and the Mt Tibrogargan circuit in the Glasshouse Mountains. The best tracks are not too rough, easy to navigate and densely packed with foliage. It’s best to walk a trail during the day first and not attempt anything too tricky or dangerous (this would also make it harder to focus on the critters).
Note: If you’re looking at glow worms don’t point your torch at them! It won’t help you see them and can hurt them too.
I’m still scared, any tips?
It’s a really good idea to start off small. Grab a couple of mates then find a little bush track that’s easy to get to. Get out just for half an hour or so to see if you enjoy this sort of thing.
You might need to control your childhood fears, they can surface when it’s dark all around!
A little adventure like this will give you a nice taste of what it’s like. Then the next time you can stay out for longer and pick a more adventurous route if you’re up for it!
Remember to be safe out there and enjoy the dark night!