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).


It’s something we lack in the modern world. but maybe it has the potential to save the planet. Ruby says that finding awe can change your life and the world for the better.


I saw Tim Winton speak in Sydney recently, promoting his new three-part docu-series on ABC iView called Ningaloo Nyinggulu. At the end of the discussion, he made an off-hand comment that really stuck with me.

‘Awe is spiritual food.’

As I sat there cupping empty cans of ginger beer, resting my arms on the brown vest I’d just finished knitting, I thought about awe. About the feeling it inspires in you. About the guttural noises that come out of you when you’re awestruck.

I hiked around the Warrumbungles a couple of months ago, but I don’t remember standing on the top of that craggy mountain and sinking into the feeling of awe and wonder.


The Wonders of Warrumbungle National Park (NSW), Eve Baker, mountains, rocks, cliffs, lookout

The volcanic formations of Warrumbungle National Park | Photo by @beingeve_


I remember laughing with friends and taking photos, and scrambling on and on and on, down and around the track. Where were the moments of peace and solitude just to admire the landscape? A wasted opportunity.

I’m undernourished in awe. Sure, I could blame the city, and the 9-5 job and the BUSY, but they are just excuses. You can inhabit a sense of awe quite easily when you just stop and think about it.


Victoria's High Country Bursts With Adventure All Year Round, Ben Savage, aerial shot, river, kayak, friends, forest

Paddling in Victoria’s High Country | @ben.savage

The secret to saving the planet lies in awe. If every single person, particularly the investors and directors in some of our biggest pollutants, spent a month in nature on their own with no technology and none of life’s comforts, they might find a bit of magic in the natural world and think, ‘Shit, this is pretty spectacular, isn’t it?’.

Awe happens when you look at a tree in the local park for long enough, or even the bright red capsicum when you take it out of the fridge. Awe requires intention.

I think about the times I’m drawn to serving those I love, and it’s often when I’m most in awe of them. Watching my partner absorbed in his hobby or laughing with friends, watching a friend soothe her crying child while she throws a ball to her six-year-old.

Watching my mum fall asleep on the couch. It makes my heart go WOOOSHHHHHH and suddenly I want to clean the house or give them millions of kisses or bake them a cake with icing that says ‘I love you so much?!’.

And so how to cultivate this sense of awe in our own lives?


The Thorsborne Trails Offers 4 Days of Tropical Island Trekking, Andrew Boyle, Hinchinbrook Island, Zoe Falls, drone shot, waterfall, forest

Zoe Falls on Hinchinbrook Island | Photo by @explore_with_ab

Humble reminders serve me well. Putting a poem as the background of my phone screen. Putting a post-it directive on my computer screen.

‘Find awe. Bask in it.’ Going for a bushwalk and, before pulling out my phone to take a snap, telling myself to capture it in my soul first (sounds trite, I know, but awe is magic and sometimes you have to lean into the woo woo to appreciate things). 

Our capacity to love mirrors our capacity to feel pain. The more we love our planet, the more we grieve its degradation. And, most importantly, the more we seek to serve it. 

When was the last time you felt unbridled awe? 


Feature image by @michael.heritage