Sometimes I walk with music playing in my ears, sometimes I walk reading a book or editing parts of my own writings, and sometimes I walk with no phone, no music, no book – nothing. The later is my favourite – that’s where I get my most inspiring thoughts.

Sometimes when I walk with nothing, I pay conscious attention to sounds, to the music of the streets. To the cars that drive passed, to the birds in the sky, to the machinery and hammering – to the fact that at times you can walk for hours through fairly busy streets and hear almost zero human voices. Yesterday the only voice I heard was my own – when I complimented someone’s teddy-bear-faced dog. Another day it was just a woman siting in a car talking on her phone.

I hear plenty of music – from other people’s ipods – and I do tend to wonder how such a volume will affect their hearing. I even notice that couples walking together don’t say much – at least not as they pass another person. Sometimes you see lips moving from afar, but as you approach they close them tight – I’m not quite sure why. Some people walk with a smile, some people walk with a frown, some people seem happy, some angry, some sad. I throw a smile when it feels appropriate, or some positive energy their way when it doesn’t. Sometimes I get it wrong and I smile and get a frown in return – as if they have never seen a person smile before. And sometimes after the first initial shock, they smile back.

And again this morning, with nothing in my hands and nothing in my ears I walked to a nearby park – one I hadn’t heard of till my friend recommended it yesterday.

A park? Hmmm… a tropical rainforest seems more appropriate. Somehow as you walk through Cooper Park, your eyes able to look at nothing but tall trees, large caves, a small prehistoric creek, green moss and sunshine filtering through in between. It makes you wonder how it can be possible that this is, in fact, in the middle of a busy buzzing city. It’s like a half-a-square-kilometre of the Daintree has miraculously been uprooted and replanted, capturing the history and the energy with it. It will definitely be one of my regulars – and there seem to be many different little paths you can choose – today I took the Rosewood Walk, and maybe tomorrow I can do the Peppermint Walk. There’s even the cutest little bridge called Moon Bridge that goes over Cooper Creek, a trickle of water that is said to follow ‘the line of a volcanic dyke of Jurassic age.’ Sounds pretty cool, even if I’m not quite sure what a volcanic “dyke” is.

Someone told me that the park used to be a secret sanctuary for women – no men allowed. I like this idea – men have it with their Free Masons and secret mens clubs – so power to the women I say. Whoever came up with the secret female facebook status the other day was pretty brilliant – did you notice it? It took the boys I know a while to catch on to the meaning. (We all put a colour as our status. It was for breast cancer awareness, so take a guess what those colours meant.) A few boys had colours as their status too – I wonder if they figured it out yet…

Anyway I did some research about Cooper Park, and I can’t find anything about secret women’s clubs. I did learn on the Woollahra Council website that the original owners were two Aboriginal clans, the Cadigal and the Birrabirralah, who during 1789 half the populations was killed by disease brought by European settlers. The website also talked about an Aboriginal rock engraving of a fish and one of ship and men, so I’ll have to hunt them out next time I’m there.

The best thing about this park is that dogs are allowed (they are forbidden from the bush walk I used to do in Frenchs Forest)… and they are even allowed of the leash in certain areas. Now all I need is a dog.

Oh, and there are some tennis courts inside this little haven too. Anyone up for a hit?

Note – there are disadvantages when it comes to choosing not to take a phone on a long walk… no phone = no phone calls and no photos. So the picture above is one a took two years ago in Queenstown, New Zealand.