• As a family we've enjoyed bushwalks in lockdown (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
I am a city kid through and through. But living near a nature reserve has allowed me and my family to discover the magic of the bush.
By
Saman Shad

26 Jul 2021 - 10:02 AM  UPDATED 26 Jul 2021 - 10:41 AM

Last year when the world fell into the depths of lockdown, including us here in Sydney, the thing we did a lot as a family were walks. Walks around the neighbourhood, around the park, and through the many bush walks that we are lucky to have near us. It helped us keep our sanity.

More than a year has gone past and now that we are in lockdown again here in Sydney, we are less enthusiastic about the walks. The kids have done all of them and know what to expect. There’s nothing exciting or different to discover.

It was easy to fall into a trap of being stuck at home and not doing much, and for a little while we were getting caught in something I quickly realised was unhealthy.

It was easy to fall into a trap of being stuck at home and not doing much, and for a little while we were getting caught in something I quickly realised was unhealthy. Our family needed to rediscover our love of the outdoors because ultimately it would be that among a number of other things, keeping us mentally healthy in the long term - especially because at this stage we don’t know how long we will be in lockdown.

One of the things I love about where we live is that we have access to a number of bush walks around us. At the bottom of our hill is a nature reserve that has a track which winds its way around rocks and shrubbery to a small waterfall. Our proximity to the city means that the water is never clean enough to swim in, but it’s wonderful to listen to. It’s not just this walk but the many others around where we are that has begun to make me appreciate nature, and more than that, has allowed me and my family to maintain our sanity in lockdown. 

I’m a city kid through and through. The closest I got to nature was interacting with urban pests like pigeons and mice.

My whole life I’ve lived in the middle of large urban centres. I'm a city kid through and through. The closest I got to nature was interacting with urban pests like pigeons and mice. Growing up in a traditionally immigrant household, we never went for walks in the bush, it seemed pointless I suppose. Instead we visited friends and relatives in their homes. If we were going for a walk, it would be around the shops at the mall. And then, there was the noise. I was always surrounded by people and the hum of traffic.

When I first moved to the part of Sydney I live in now, I was struck by how quiet it was. I needed to have a fan on just for background noise so I could sleep at night. The lack of noise perhaps standing out even more for me because I had come back from spending almost a decade living in central London.

My kids however have grown up in the area where we now live. They are at ease with nature in a way I could never be. When I finally persuaded them of the importance of leaving the house every day for a walk, I watched how easily they made their way through various bush tracks. While I hesitated and took my time around rocky or overgrown paths, they’d slip through them with the delicious ease for whom this came naturally.

Today we had to made our way across a series of wet stones in order to cross a wide stream. I took my time making sure I had sure footing on the wobbly stones. Ahead of me, my children however, skipped across them so fast I couldn’t help but be impressed. It made me happy that they had learnt this skill. At the same time I was surprised that this was a skill that even needed to be learned. After all, I was only discovering bushwalks deep into adulthood. But now that I had, I have fallen in love.

I love the sounds of nature, of birds singing and unseen animals rustling in the shrubs. I love the way the wind casts its way through the leaves in the trees that hang overhead. I love the smells of the bush, especially of petrichor – the smell of earthiness being unleashed after rainfall. I love how I feel refreshed even after a small wander in a space that makes me forget I’m living inside a large city. My children love it too. Despite their occasional protests when we suggest it’s time for our daily walk, as soon as they are out they are captivated by the magic of the bush. And it is magic, I can say that now.

Whenever lockdown ends, I’m sure we will quickly go back to the life that has been our norm. The bushwalks will decrease and perhaps even cease altogether. But for this city girl, I like knowing that the bush is there, close by waiting for me when I need some time out from a life that at times feels out of control. And a reminder that pandemic or not, nature will always be there for you. You just need to go out and find it.

Saman Shad is a freelance writer.

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