I am enjoying an all too rare solo bushwalk. It’s a trail that’s becoming my favourite, not only for it’s natural beauty but also it’s convenience – a slice of heaven nestled in Sydney’s northern suburbs. During those moments where a plane’s not flying overhead or there are no echoes of an especially feisty picnic, I imagine that I’m all alone. Just me, the birds and unseen critters scurrying through the undergrowth. But, inevitably, I hear a plane or a picnic or pass other bushwalkers and the spell is broken. I reflect on my attraction towards solitariness and a memory drifts into focus. I am fifteen and working with my Dad in Canada’s vast North West Territories. Although we are there to dig and prod the earth in search of ancient artifacts, I am fascinated with the ruins of an old cabin, possibly less than a hundred years old. It is literally in the middle of nowhere – nothing but trees and water for miles and miles. We are there in summer and, apart from the never receding sunshine and mosquitoes the size of birds, it’s a stunning location. But in winter, when the sun has well and truly retired, the snow is piled high and the temperature’s never above minus twenty, it’d be one hell of a place to live. But, once upon a time, someone did. Probably a trapper. Just him and a magnificent but unyielding wilderness. I am envious. I imagine what it must be like to survive in such a place with no one but yourself to get you through. What happened to this recluse? Did he go mad in the end? Did he freeze? Starve? Who knows. The bits of broken plates and rusted pots don’t reveal much – even to my archeologist father (who’s not much interested in anything less than a thousand years old). And although I’ve always lived in cities, there still remains that urge to one day go bush and fend for myself. If anything, it’s growing stronger as the years slip away. But who knows if I’ll ever get the chance. In the meantime, going on solo bushwalks might be the only way to indulge my inner hermit.