In today’s Meet the Merinoer convo we chat with Yvonne Everett, publisher of CoffsTrails.com and author of the new guidebook 'Best Walks of the NSW Mid North Coast'. Yvonne is an experienced hiker and adventure motorcyclist, and naturally she wears merino will (Ottie Merino, of course!) for all her activities.
Ottie Merino (OM): Thanks for joining us! What started you hiking and adventuring?
Yvonne Everett (YE): I grew up in South Africa, and my father loved the outdoors. He took me up the Drakensberg when I was a young child, wearing a home-knitted jumper and feeding me sardines on biscuits for our lunch stops. I still love eating sardines on hikes.
OM: Can you share some memorable hiking experiences with us?
YE: In early 2020, I spent seven nights hiking the sublime Travers-Sabine with a group of awesome women. On the last day, we walked along Roberts Ridge in a state of relaxed bliss, above the clouds with the lake sparkling below. And into the carpark, where all our phones started beeping at once as we came back into contact with the world. While we’d been out, a pandemic had been declared, the stock market had dropped 30%, and the borders were closing. Pop went the bliss bubble.
Lunch on the last day at Travers-Sabine
A few years back I returned to South Africa to hike the Northern Drakensberg Traverse with some brave Australian friends. We had a massive amount of rain, our tents were waterbeds, the path was a river, and there were cascades down every gully. Once we got over being wet, the power of nature was a glorious, joyous thing.
But every walk is memorable in its own way. Close to home, I love repeating walks such as Coffs Creek—there is always something new in nature to observe.
OM: Ah, hearing about your Travers Sabine experience makes my heart swell. That track, and Nelson Lakes National Park, is my favourite place on earth. I kid you not!
You’ve written a walking guidebook, tell us what you learnt from that?
YE: We moved from Sydney to Coffs Harbour, NSW in late 2019, and the most recent guidebook I could find dated from last century. As a lockdown hobby in 2020, I started documenting my local hikes on a website. That grew and led to a contract with Woodslane to write a guidebook of walks from Port Macquarie and the Coffs Coast, to the Clarence Valley.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed going deep, researching different walks and their stories. This area of NSW is remarkably bio-diverse, with coastal walks, escarpment climbs, waterfalls and World Heritage rainforest. It’s been wonderful to have time to focus on exploring locally, learning more about the rich culture, plants and wildlife, and the interesting geology.
OM: You recently completed a motorcycle trip through Chile and Argentina, south to “Fin del Mundo” (the end of the world) in Tierra del Fuego. What does adventure bike riding have in common with hiking?
YE: Quite a lot! Both hiking and riding are outdoors, fully immersed in the weather and nature, and 100% focussed on living in the moment! Both make physical demands on you that require courage and stamina.
We travel minimally, as there are limits on how much luggage you can carry on a motorcycle. While the outer layers for riding are technical and very different, the base layer is exactly the same as for hiking: merino that we wear continuously for days in a row.
I especially love my Ottie Merino shirt for motorcycling due to the long length which keeps it nicely tucked in while riding, even for tall people like me. Ottie Merino is breathable, dries quickly overnight when we rinse it out, and the relaxed fit is forgiving for those of us who with cuddly physiques. And the shirts don’t reveal too much skin—I’m fair and burn easily.
Yvonne in Women's Merino Tee in Otway Fern
Unfortunately adventure bike boots are taller, something like ski-boots, so most hiking socks are too short. If only Ottie offered longer socks!
A merino buff is essential riding gear to protect your neck from sun, wind and chafing. On cold days I might wear two buffs, one to cover my head and keep my ears and face warm under the helmet, and another around the neck. Wet, a buff is an evaporative cooler for riding on hot days.
Our technical motorcycle riding gear is designed to keep us safe, but is no good for hiking. It’s hot and heavy and too valuable to leave behind unattended on the bike. So although we visited magical hiking destinations including El Chalten (Mount Fitzroy) and Torres del Paine on our South American adventure, we were only able to manage a few short walks.
Yvonne at Paso Sico and Salar Aqua Calientes in Chile
OM: Every day we hear from people who are adventuring with our gear in different ways. Great to hear you've found our merino t-shirts so suitable for motorcycle touring.
You are also helped found a local hiking group, and are a regular walk leader?
YE: Coffs Hikers was founded late 2021, and is affiliated with Bushwalking NSW. We follow in a long tradition of those who have walked this area before us, including other local groups and of course the Gumbaynggir, Bundjalung and Dunghutti people.
We have been thinking about some group gear - any tips for how we can add a logo to a bulk order of Ottie Merino shirts?
OM: What’s next for you, and the top 5 hikes on your bucket list?
YE: Locally, I’m hoping to plan some multi-day walks with my hiking club: down into the Guy Fawkes River wilderness, and another up Kunderang Brook from Georges Junction on the Macleay River to Mooraback Campground in Werrikimbe National Park. I’m looking north at two iconic Queensland multi day walks, the Scenic Rim and Cooloola Great Walk. Across the ditch, Queen Charlotte is on my list for a fun family walk.
I’m also putting the finishing touches to a second book, and have another project on the horizon.
OM: Any final tips?
YE: Pack light, layer up, go outside and just do it, whether you are hiking or biking. Gotta love merino! Its like a hug from your favourite grandma. Soft, cosy and totally dependable.
And come visit us in north east NSW to hike our uncrowded, beautiful, and diverse hiking trails. Check out coffstrails.com and our guidebook for some inspiration!