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03 February, 2015

Seven Walks: Cape Leeuwin to Bundeena

Seven Walks is an inspiring new book by artist and writer Tom Carment, with photography by Michael Wee. The pair, pictured above, covered many miles around some of the wilder parts of Australia and documented their walks with beautiful photography and watercolours. Here Tom introduces the book, and we share a few favourite images. Leave a comment for your chance to win a copy – full details are below.

Three years ago, in the Belgenny Café, Sydney, my friend the photographer Michael Wee, announced that he had a 'good idea'. A week earlier, over morning coffee, I had amused him with stories about the misadventures of our recently-completed family trek along the Overland Track in Tasmania.

Michael's idea was this: that we do a book together, about walks, longer than just a day, in wild parts of Australia, quite different to a guide book. He would take photos, organise the business side of it, and I would write the essays and make drawings and watercolours of things I saw along the way. I was immediately enthused.

We approached this project as a pair of amateurs. Our previous experience of bushwalking had been day excursions, for family picnics, photography, and painting. I had done a fair bit of camping, on school holidays with our children, but mainly out of the boot of a car. For a city dweller I had also spent a lot of time in the bush, walking, painting and drawing, but felt myself in no way a bushman or naturalist. As a plein air landscape painter, my main concern was usually to find a good spot to sit and make a picture, rather than walking very far, or naming the plants and animals I saw.

The discipline of preparing for a three- or four-day walk, where you have to carry your own food and a tent, was new to me. An inn or guest house, lights twinkling, is an uncommon sight at the end of a day's tramp in Australia. You have to plan carefully, allow enough time to arrive at each destination before dark, carry enough clean water, and tell people where you've gone.

We had a lot to learn.

Morning at Wilpena Pound, on the 1200km Heysen Trail in South Australia. Wilpena Pound is at the edge of a circular flat valley surrounded by sharp-edged hills, and is not, as is often assumed, the crater of an old volcano.

Scenes from The Coast Walk between Otford and Bundeena, NSW. Gymea lilies were 'sticking out from the low heath like arrows shot randomly from the sky, into the ground'.

Evening at St Mary Peak, also on the Heysen Trail. Tom walked parts of the trail with his friend Tanya and her ten-year-old daughter Eloise. The distance they covered depended on how Eloise's 'walking legs' felt.

Tom painting at Bobs Hollow, along the Cape to Cape walk from Cape Leeuwin to Cape Naturaliste in WA. Cape Leeuwin is the most southwestern place in Australia, a narrow windswept isthmus of granite. Many ships were wrecked off here before they built a lighthouse, completed in 1896.

Leave a comment about your favourite Australian walk below before 5pm (AEDT) Monday 2 February 2015 for your chance to win Seven Walks by Tom Carment / Michael Wee. You must be a member of Temple & Webster to enter, and you may only enter once. We'll pick our favourite comments and contact the winners via Facebook or email by Friday 6 February 2015. If we are unable to contact the winner(s) within 30 days we'll pick an alternative winner(s). Good luck! Competition closed. 

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