Brent spent a weekend with a friend on the fringe of Girraween National Park to experience nature and friendship without distraction. The Cabin Series is all about disconnecting from the modern world and connecting with yourself and others, thanks to the escape artists at Unyoked.
It seems a bit counter-intuitive, but after we were asked to write about disconnecting from the modern world and what it means for us to enjoy nature, I immediately sought some inspiration online… I think most of us will admit we probably spend a little bit too much time glued to a screen. If it’s not a computer screen, it’s most likely our phone.
I’m sure it’s no surprise, but I found myself endlessly scrolling through my phone looking at various locations that would allow us to do the exact opposite. After considering numerous cabins online, the Girraween Environmental Lodge seemed like the perfect choice. We prepared our things and took off on a Friday afternoon, ready to appreciate what Girraween had to offer.
The Girraween Environmental Lodge is located just outside Girraween National Park, around 3 hours south-west of Brisbane. The drive is quite enjoyable, apart from a couple of construction delays. As we drive we notice the change in the landscape; our journey begins in typical Gold Coast Hinterland, but we cross over Cunningham’s Gap into a wide range of agricultural land until we enter the Granite Belt on the border of Queensland and New South Wales.
After cruising down some winding gravel roads surrounded by a rocky landscape, we reach the lodge and settle into our cabin mid-afternoon. We notice that we are out of service, and we aren’t too worried. The location was an excellent place to unwind and explore without the constant need to check our phones. The cabins provided a full-size kitchen that made making meals a breeze, and it was hard to beat the warmth provided by the wood stove, electric blankets, and an outdoor spa after a long day of hiking. Seeing as most of my adventures involve me camping in the back of my Holden wagon, these are luxuries I’m not used to, but take full advantage of.
Beating The Sunrise
We take the opportunity to get a fresh start on our days (and I mean fresh, it’s 1°C on our first morning) by waking up at 4:50am. Our mission is to beat the 6:50am sunrise to the top of The Pyramid. As we are walking through the car park, we can see our breath, and notice frost on top of some of the signposts. By beating the sun, we provide ourselves with the opportunity to appreciate the crisp golden light as it shines over the hills. We couldn’t have asked for better weather; there isn’t a cloud in sight.
As we anticipated, we beat the sun and our legs are burning from the climb. We decide to make ourselves a cup of hot chocolate. It goes cold while we climb around the rocks, eager to see what other views we can find, as well as an ideal place to hide from the wind. The golden light hits the top of the Pyramid, bringing a very welcomed source of warmth and endless photo opportunities. Between enjoying our cold chocolate, a quick snack and some photos, we appreciate how unique the landscape is. And how beautiful the contrast of the sunrise is on the dry rocky landscape. I also can’t help but notice the birds beginning to chirp around the same time we get excited about how good the warmth of the sun feels.
Taking It All In
If there is one thing we take from our first morning, it’s uniqueness. We’ve always been outdoorsy people, we love spending our free time hiking and exploring. But never in our lives did we expect to be in this particular spot, appreciating this particular sunrise. Needless to say, we are grateful, and undoubtedly relaxed, as we take it all in.
We spend our days roaming the kilometres of trails within the National Park, as well as a select number of private tracks available at the Lodge. Highlights include sunrise at The Pyramid, the Sunset at Cathedral Rock, and the size of the boulders — they seem to be balancing on a pedestal after being placed delicately by giants.
When we aren’t out exploring, I find myself napping by the fire, while my friend Celina knits outside in the sun. After each sunset we make our way back to the cabin a little bit cold, and spend time together making a simple meal to maximise our time relaxing in front of the fire while we flip through the day’s photos or hash out our plans for the next day. What I start to gather from our experience is how enjoyable the little things are, particularly moments when we’re not worried about work or study. I don’t think we could ever get sick of the sounds or smell of a wood stove, or the sound of Kookaburras enjoying the sun. I genuinely think there are too many things we enjoy for us to list.
Spending a weekend disconnecting from our busy lives provided us with so many small moments that allowed us to appreciate the outdoors and put our work and uni lives on the backburner. Throughout the weekend we found ourselves appreciating everything from the struggle of maintaining a fire to keep our cabin warm, the crystal-clear views at sunrise and sunset, the satisfaction of hot chocolate and coffee (that almost always went cold before we could finish them), all amongst the cool winds, fresh air, and quiet surroundings. We also got a few good laughs from me screaming as a small wallaby jumped out of the bush and ran across the path. I swear they’ll get you every time.
Between all life’s commitments it can be hard to find the time to reset yourself and appreciate the little things. Sometimes it feels like the worlds throwing a million different things at you from every direction, and it can be a little overwhelming. For me it’s not necessarily about “getting away” but it’s about taking the time to appreciate everything nature has to offer before I have to go back to reality. I think an essential element to enjoying my time outdoors is taking it all in while amongst good company. The satisfaction from something as simple as a cup of coffee seems 10-fold compared to at work or uni. I think everything’s better in nature.
Making The Time
What I gained from this experience was a much-needed reminder that at times we all need to slow down and be mindful of what’s around us, particularly in nature. By taking the time to explore, and appreciate kilometres of hiking trails, we noticed the joy in the moment. When life gets hectic, it can be hard for us to make the time for the things we love, and for us that would be time spent in the great outdoors. Ultimately this experience allowed us to appreciate those unique moments before they were gone.
We’d like to encourage you to set aside some time to disconnect from your everyday life and spend some time amongst nature. Notice the sounds, smells and the amazing views and don’t forget to bring some good people! Learn to appreciate that the timing of every moment is unique. As cliché as it seems, I think the famous John Muir put it best: “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean”.
Disconnect, Unwind, Reboot