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The magic of hiking with Dr Kate Grarock

Based in Canberra, Australia, Dr Kate Grarock (pronouns: she/her) is an ecologist with Bush Blitz and a hiking enthusiast who has created a YouTube channel dedicated to this passion of hers. From a young age, hiking has always been a massive part of Kate’s life – as both a place to direct her energy as well as a mindful practice that immerses her in the natural world. We caught up to talk all about hiking is and how important it can be as an activity that helps people connect with nature around them.

The magic of hiking with Dr Kate Grarock | #itsawildlife

KATE’S JOURNEY

Kate took an unlikely path towards her career in science. She grew up in a small country town, and after she wasn’t able to finish year 12 due to illness, Kate joined the navy. After 5 years, her love of nature and environmental science won out and she enrolled in an environmental science degree at Wollongong University. Landing her first job in the industry with the Department of Environment was both a blessing and a curse – although she was happy to work in the industry, the role was largely office-based and she had no interaction with the field.

Fueled by her passion for the great outdoors. Kate left the job and took on a PhD, investigating the potential for competition between introduced Indian Mynas with native hollow-dependent fauna. And with all the field work – Kate loved it!

“Someone said to me right at the start of my PhD: enjoy this moment because never again in your life, will you have this absolute focus on one area, one project – and I’m so glad they did!”

Kate now works for a program called Bush Blitz, a species discovery program based in Canberra but which travels all around Australia, looking for new species of plants and animals. The idea behind it is to discover species and their ecology because after all, if we don’t know (where) a species exists, it’s hard to protect it.

“It’s all been trial and error, and although I love my current role and I’m 40-odd, I’m still asking myself, what will I be when I grow up!?”   

THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Kate has always loved hiking and getting outdoors, something she started doing with her family from a very young age. When she was 19 years old, Kate’s Mum passed away and Kate found comfort in long hikes in nature –

“When she died, it was obviously really hard and sad, but I came to find that nature was a huge safety net, allowing me to process the sadness of losing my mom, but also feel connected to her.”

Throughout her life hiking has been a massive part of Kate’s life! On one hand, it serves as an energetic outlet and physical challenge, while on the other hand, as amindful and grounding practice that enhances her connection with nature. It has also given her perspective – that is, perspective when it comes to taking time off, following your passions and not sweating the small stuff! For example, when asked about taking time off to complete extreme multi-day hikes, Kate said –

“Life’s short – sometimes you’ve just gotta do it!”

HIKING UP THE YOUTUBE CHARTS

It was during the first COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020 that Kate started to get itchy feet – stuck inside, she started looking through photos and videos from previous hikes. Splicing the videos together, Kate started creating videos which she uploaded to YouTube – to huge success!  

“I was always a bit scared to do that, of negative comments I could receive – but the response has been overwhelmingly positive – it gave me this joy for sharing my hiking experiences with people!”

“The positive feedback from my videos has really spurred me on just to keep making more videos!”

Kate now creates videos of hikes she does all around Australia, as well as how-to guides, pack checklists, ultralight hiking gear reviews and other informative videos which you can check out on her YouTube channel. And while she’s done a lot of hiking already, Kate has a whole bucket list of other hikes she’d like to tackle into the future – so plenty more videos to look forwards to!

Watching Kate’s videos, its hard not to fall in love with the beautiful natural landscapes she traverses on her hiking adventures. And who knows, as you watch them, you might even feel inspired to get out for a hike this weekend!?

KEEP IN TOUCH

Want to hear more from Kate? Tune into the podcast to listen to our conversation. Kate also shares her adventures on Instagram @kategrarock as well as hiking video uploads on her YouTube channel.

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