Our Coach's Favourite Trek is 'Magic' and Close To Home
By Sophia Hatzis
Trek Training coach Jacqueline Conway first joined Wild Women in 2006 and she's never looked back. Jacq is a Wild Woman in every way: living, breathing and devouring adventure at every opportunity. If she's not scrambling over rocks, bashing through bush, or puffing up some hills, she's doing something in the great outdoors.
After becoming part of the community 13 years ago, Jacq has led many women on stunning treks that will stick with them for life. She's takes Trek Training sessions on Wednesday nights in Sydney's inner-west and also leads Wild Walks on the weekends.
For an adventure veteran like Jacq, it would be almost impossible to answer the question: "What's the best hike you've ever done". Her choice is one you might not expect. It isn't too far from home, it's only been discovered recently and it's one Jacq believes should be on your bucket list.
Q: What do you love most about being a Wild Woman?
I love the camaraderie and network of a such a diverse, yet cohesive, group of women. We are all looking for the next adventure in life and supporting one another in so many small and large ways. I've truly met so many incredible women, and some have become wonderful, life-long friends.
Q: What's the best hike you've ever done and what made it so epic?
It’s a difficult choice as every hike has been incredible and special in its own way. I feel privileged to have been able to visit each and every place I have been to.
I simply love exploring Australia... the Bungle Bungles in Western Australia in the East Kimberley would have to be my stand-out trek to date. It’s so remote, unique, and ancient. Incredibly, it was only recently discovered as a tourist destination and declared a National Park in 1987. Local aboriginals, stockmen, and geologists looking for minerals knew of it, but the latter thought it insignificant. It's so not!
The bee-hive rock formations and towering, twisting gorges (that are 350 million years old) are just so exquisite in their raw beauty, quirky stripes, and shapes. Walking through them makes you and your day-to-day worries feel so insignificant! Sleeping under a mozzie net to view a full moon and sky that's packed bright with stars is something everyone should do at least once. As we had to carry a full pack in, we left the tourists behind pretty quickly to have it all to ourselves. Just magic!
Q: Which hiking destination is at the top of your bucket list and why?
The Jatbula Trail in the Northern Territory is my next trip and has been on my list since I first joined Wild Women in 2006. Everyone who has been there raves about what an awesome trek it is, including the scenery, numerous waterhole and waterfall playgrounds, and warm weather! Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya and the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia are up there on my dream list. As well as some shorter New Zealand treks and Japan trails.
Q: What's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you on a hike?
I was wading through a very cold, narrow, dark canyon in the Bungles with two others girls, waist deep in water. We were relieved to see the light at the end of the tunnel (literally). Suddenly a frog, or possibly a cane toad, leapt off the rock wall and straight towards my face. Needless to say I blasted the canyon with my screams and subsequent nervous laughter, as well as the others in unison! The funniest bit was seeing him again on the return trip.
Q: What's the best hiking advice you've ever been given?
Remember to take time out to enjoy special moments by yourself on your trek. It’s fun hanging out with a team, but these 'own moments' are super special. It's your time to free your head, reflect on the beauty of Mother Nature, meditate, and recharge your batteries. All the other stuff back home will probably be there when you return so make the most of your trek, which you have trained hard for and made time for, in the busy lives that we all lead!