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January 2020 Issue
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16-year-old Bernadette Barrett: What the outdoors means to me

Bernadette Barrett has been tramping since she was a toddler. Photo: Pat Barrett
Bernadette Barrett, aged 16, says tramping is one of the most beneficial pastimes she has.

Tramping and the outdoors have been significant parts of my life since I was still in nappies. As the youngest in our family, I was regularly stuffed into a child carrier as my family headed to the outdoors for yet another picnic or tramp. By the time I was five, I was carrying a small backpack during our tramps. Inevitably, a stuffed toy would always find its way along and together we would raid the marshmallows.

But because for my sister Dominique most tramps would have been too tiring, it was usually just dad, my oldest sister and I who would head away.

As I grew older – and grew longer legs – I was able to tramp longer distances and over harder terrain. I can look back and thank those experiences for increasing my mental strength and resilience from an early age.

Unlike dad, I have always enjoyed finding other trampers in the hut at the end of a day’s tramp. He argues that it spoils the solitude, while I argue that I simply enjoy the company. But like dad, I love tramping up on the tops, and in subalpine areas. The only thing I dislike is having to come down again!

The thing I love most about tramping is that I can take myself to places, under my own steam, that I’d never get to otherwise.

One of my favourite tramps would undoubtedly be the Kepler Track Great Walk. Although the first day is something of a slog, the second day is spent entirely on the tops and is a most enjoyable tramping experience.

Tramping is easily one of the most beneficial things I do – it has given me near-unrivalled experiences and skills. Importantly, it’s given me a love and respect for the outdoors.

It’s something I don’t think will ever slip out of my life, and I intend to keep it that way.

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