Noeline Overall shares an idiom about getting lost in the forest and finding yourself. It’s about using hiking to rediscover the fun things you hopefully did as a kid, taking those hide-and-seek games amongst the trees to a new level and enjoying the experience.
It may seem a little left field to some, but Noeline’s new business True Nature Adventures – taking groups on hiking trails through some of the most spectacular and often hidden treasures along our coastline, to Kangaroo Island and offering yoga sessions along the way – is a special means of making us feel better about one’s self.
And significantly, through hiking Noeline has developed an inner strength to meet her own challenges that life often presents, including a terrible wrist injury that for some time prevented her from running a successful hairdressing business.
The idea of offering guided hikes and yoga retreats came a few years ago after experiencing a great need to ‘get away from it all’ by going on a holiday to The Kimberley, Western Australia.
“I hiked all the gorges there, and it was a sensational experience,” Noeline said. “The Kimberleys changed my life.
“I came back, grabbed my daughter, Tess, and said, come on, we’re hiking the back of Alice (Springs). We did Kings Canyon and the Watarrka National Park, and my views on life changed.
“That’s what hiking can do. In a strange way hiking is about finding yourself. It makes the ground solid, and Tess said it changed her life too. She came back and started studying law, and now she is doing really well in life.
“Hiking is so good as far as your mental state goes, that’s for sure. It makes me feel so good, and it’s not expensive either getting a few things like a back pack and quality boots.
“A bit of yoga adds to the experience, and overall it is an incredibly simple adventure with an enormous personal sense of achievement and self-discovery.”
Noeline’s first assignment was taking a group of 12 girls on a hike from The Bluff, Victor Harbor, along the cliff trail to Waitpinga Beach. “The girls could not believe what they saw,” she said. “Taking someone to places that are not accessible by car suddenly opens up a whole new vision of where we are.”
Noeline, who also has a son, took a group of 14 to Kangaroo Island, catching the ferry and hiring cars to get to Dudley Peninsula and deep into the forest that offered amazing views and experiences. “Most of the members had either recently lost their job or suffered a setback in life, and this hike was very much about getting their heads around things. It was the escape they needed.
“I love the way hiking makes you feel. I love connecting with nature… really loving your body and bringing it back to life because that is what it does for you.
“A lot of us did hiking as kids, just running around and loving it. Sometimes in life you need to feel those great moments again, hiding in the forest and among special places like the ruins of a house in Second Valley.
“When you are going through a lot of stress relating to how we live today we tend to forget about looking after ourselves. We’re just running from one thing to another, and we need to actually stop and look at what we are doing and go back outside of ourselves. Only then can we look at life differently.
“We need to breathe in and enjoy the moment to allow us to see things clearer. Running through a forest was fun when we were young, but as you get older we really need to see it for what it is now. It is strong.
“I just think people get caught up working all week or looking after a family; having to go home home and start doing home duties very night. That’s what they have to do. That’s life, and it is special having a family or a good relationship, but sometimes we get caught up on the merry-go-round week-after-week.
“When you look outside the square and take yourself outside of the usual mundane things in life you can actually find yourself. You can find that there are other aspects of yourself that you didn’t know. You need to love being whom you are once again.
“Once you get outside and go hiking and really breathe it and see it and feel the freedom of it you experience something special. It makes you release different endorphins to make you feel so good inside.
“Fitness wise, even for that big muscle, our heart, hiking is great. It’s is a wonderful thing for your body and mind.”
Noeline has her own hidden treasures when it comes to hiking. “Along the Fleurieu there are some amazing coastal or cliff hiking trails. They are obviously well known from King’s Beach to Waitpinga, looking at the islands out there which is spectacular scenery.
“Again, that’s another adventure that makes you feel so good when you have achieved it and come back into a beautiful conservation park like Waitpinga.
“On the other side from Cape Jervis and inside Deep Creek there are so many sensational hikes that leave you in awe. You would not find anything better in the world through here.
“From the pine forest terrain to the mountains to waterfalls. You can hike to hideaway beaches. We have in our state the Flinders Ranges; so many sacred places that makes this state special.
“We have taken a ferry across to Kangaroo Island, got into a car or two amongst us all and headed to Flinders Chase where there are some amazing hidden hikes. You can do the KI wilderness trail, in sections if you wish, and there are little trails off that you cannot get to other than by foot.
“You are guided to places that you would never have believed you would see. It’s off the grid in life.
“Personally, through hiking and yoga I have found out things about myself. I got off my merry-go-round, and when I step into my hiking boots or onto my yoga mat my life changes. Taking yoga into the bush changes things again.
“It helps you see clarity, not so much where you are going but not wasting time on things that you don’t need in your life.
“I have found that a group on a hiking trip likes to share stories about different things. Friendships are formed. The environment does that, and it encourages you to just contact a friend and go on your own hike at the local nature place after work. It’s good to build your fitness up before taking on a bigger hike somewhere like the Flinders.”
But most of all, Noeline says, a great hike is not just about the physical fitness and absorbing the sensational views along the journey, but finding yourself. Only then can you see the trees for the forest.
True Nature Adventures is on facebook. M: 0404 847 938 . www.yogatherapia.com.au