The sign as you reach Bowtells Swing Bridge on the Six Foot Track

Crossing Bowtells Swing Bridge over the Coxs River

The History of Bowtells Swing Bridge on the Six Foot Track.

Many people have walked the 45km historic Six Foot Track and crossed the famous Bowtells Swing Bridge that spans the Coxs River, but very few people perhaps know the history of the suspension bridge and how its name came about.

Crossing Bowtells Swing Bridge on our popular Six Foot Track trek for many is a challenge in itself, perhaps it’s the fear of highest for some, or just the instability of the bridge while crossing it ensures a laser focus and determination getting from point A to point B. The bridge is an alternative route that was built for when the Coxs River is flooded but has now become a feature of the Six Foot Track traverse and is now part of completing the adventure challenge.

Once successfully crossed, there is a sense of achievement, the positive emotion of overcoming our fears. It is at this point that we ask people to reflect on the history of Bowtells Swing Bridge and the ultimate sacrifice and the history behind it.

The offical opening plaque on Bowtells Swing Bridge

Built and named in memory of one of our war heroes

Bowtells Swing Bridge was built by 3 Troop, the ‘Tunnel Rats’ of the 1st Field Squadron of the Royal Australian Engineers based at Holsworthy Army Barracks in 1991 and was officially opened on the 23rd April 1992. The bridge is named after a fellow soldier of the builders, Corporal Bob Bowtell, who suffocated and died on the 11th of January 1966 in foul air while attempting to clear a tunnel of the Viet Cong (VC) during the Vietnam war. Bob was the first member of the unit killed in the Vietnam War.

Corporal Bob Bowtell was born on 25th April 1932 and grew up in the Blue Mountains before joining the Army on the 10th July 1959. Bob served initially as an infantry rifleman with 3RAR and then 4RAR  before transferring and becoming a combat engineer. On the 2nd July 2016 with the assistance of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia and as part of one of Australia’s largest war repatriations, Bob’s remains, as well as the remains of other Vietnam Veterans in Malaysia and Singapore, were returned to Australia for final burial.

So next time you are crossing Bowtells Swing Bridge over Coxs River, please take a moment to reflect on the sacrifice of not just Bob Bowtell, but of all the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting for the freedom of our great nation. It’s these sacrifices that allow us the freedom and privilege to enjoy the great outdoors and adventures like the Six Foot Track.

If you would like to learn more about Bob Bowtell and his exemplary service to our nation, you can read it here at the Australian War Memorial.

Photo of Bob Bowtell in Vietnam

Photo used with approval from the Bowtell family

The Official Opening of Bowtells Swing Bridge

We have lots of people now walk across Bowtells Swing Bridge as part of our Six Foot Track trek, so we were truly honoured to have received these rare photos of Bowtells Swing Bridge officially being opened on the 23rd of April 1992. John Roberts, the Troop Commander of 3 Troop, the ‘Tunnel Rats’ of the 1st Field Squadron of the Royal Australian Engineers and who built the bridge in 1991/92, kindly provided us with these rare photos.

Corporal John Bowtell, the first Army Engineer killed in Vietnam and whom the bridge was built in honour of, Grandson, was the first to walk across the bridge during the official opening. The grandson later followed in his grandfather’s footsteps, becoming a Royal Australian Engineer himself and serving with the Australian Army in Afghanistan.

Bowtells Swing Bridge official opening

Photo used with the approval of John Roberts – Former Troop Commander 3 Troop

How to cross Bowtells Swing Bridge safely

It’s best to cross Bowtells Swing Bridge with two hands on the top cable guides, so it’s recommended to put walking poles or walking stick in your pack, so both hands are free. The bridge swings less if you take it slowly and move in a slow, steady forward movement. This is more important if carrying a large full pack because you will be more top-heavy. If you have a fear of heights, focus on the other side and try not to look down, and before you know it, you will be on the other side. If your fear of heights is uncontrollable and overwhelming, we suggest that you take the alternative route over the rocks below, but we can assure you, that you will feel much better and have a sense of achievement for trying and overcoming your emotions.

A view of Bowtells Swing Bridge from a distance



The Peak Potential Adventures group photo with Megalong Valley and the Blue Mountains in the distance as they trek along the Six Foot Track
Walk across Botwtells swing bridge on the Six Foot Track Blue Mountains Walk

STORY BY: Mark Henderson

One of the best walks in the Blue Mountains.

Peak Potential Adventures invites you to join us on a journey of discovery, as we walk through some of Australia’s most historic and beautiful landscapes in the Blue Mountains on this Six Foot Track walk that only takes a weekend. This trek would be up there as one of the most popular and iconic Blue Mountains walks. On this adventure, you’ll meet so many like-minded people who love adventure and the great outdoors. Because of the support vehicle, you’ll only need to carry a daypack with the rest of your overnight gear carried in the vehicle to your eco lodge accommodation at Coxs River. This adventure is suitable for a large variety of fitness and outdoor experience levels because it’s professionally guided and the support vehicle follows the team most of the way.

Departing monthly, the Six Foot Track trek is one of Peak Potential Adventure’s most achievable, fun, and accessible treks.

The challenge, which takes place in the historic Blue Mountains, located one and a half hours from Sydney CBD, takes adventurers across a trail blazed by Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson, and William Charles Wentworth in 1813, as part of their journey across the Blue Mountains.

Peak Potential Adventure’s expedition leader, Shane Pophfer describes the trek, “We sometimes call it the JENKAT because the trek runs from the Jenolan Caves (JEN) to Katoomba (KAT), and in its entirety, and the track is around 45 kilometres long,” said Shane.

“Although it might not be just as challenging as some of our other adventures, it definitely does test your resolve. It’s also up there as one of the best Blue Mountains walks” he said.

“I like to think of the Six Foot Track Trek as a trial run for some of our bigger adventures like Mt Kilimanjaro, Overland Track or Everest Base Camp as it helps to build confidence, but it is a challenge on its own, and when you complete it, there is a real sense of achievement — it’s rewarding,” Shane said.

In total The Six Foot Track Trek runs for two days over the weekend, with the team leaving the Jenolan Caves at 8:00 AM on Saturday morning.

What to expect on this Blue Mountains walk

“With Peak Potential Adventures, we aim to start the trek leaving from Jenolan Caves at around 7:45–8:00 AM, and on the first day we walk to the eco lodge at Coxs River, with our aim to arrive between 3–3:30 PM, however, it is dependent on the team’s speed, but we like to get in there before 4:00 PM,” Shane said.

“We spend the night at the eco lodge, get the fire going and enjoy some downtime at the eco lodge. It’s usually really good fun, and a great time to just catch up and chat about how the trek is going. We put a good feed on as well.

“The next morning, we aim to leave the eco lodge around 7:30 AM, trekking to our first stop at Megalong Valley which we usually get to around 10-10:30 AM. From there we take the final leg of the journey, aiming to get to Explorers Tree between 12:30-1:30 PM, wrapping up there at Katoomba,” said Shane.

“Right at the end, we have one final challenge on this Blue Mountains walk. We call it “Dummy Spit Hill”. It’s the one part of the trek that really does test your resolve, but I think it’s a really good feature to have right at the end, as it makes people work for it and challenges them – for us, it’s a fantastic finish and you get the finished feeling.”

Unlike other Peak Potential Adventure challenges, Shane believes The Six Foot Track Trek is something that anyone who is willing can tackle.

An adventure for everybody

“One of the best things for people who want to attempt the trek is that we run a support vehicle for just about all of it, so if it does become too challenging, you are able to jump in for part of the journey. This way, we think it opens the trek up to anyone who wants to give it a go,” Shane said.

As part of Peak Potential Adventures Six Foot Track trek, teams are generally limited to 12 to allow for a more personal and enjoyable experience.

“We honestly believe we offer the best program for this trek in Australia,” said Shane. “Clients are always rewarded with great scenery on this Blue Mountains walk because it passes through so many great features and the landscape is always changing,” he said.

“As part of this, we try to make sure the trek manageable for everyone. We keep the numbers limited to 12 as we don’t want to clutter it, and we want to make sure we can be available for everyone.”

Much of the necessary gear will be provided by Peak Potential Adventures, however, it is important to wear comfortable walking shoes or boots, a jumper and warm pants, toiletries, sunglasses and sunscreen.

Morning tea, lunch, and a three-course dinner are provided on Saturday, while breakfast and morning team is provided on Sunday, as well as a variety of snacks throughout the two-day trek.

If you are interested in finding out more or joining Peak Potential Adventures on this historic Blue Mountains walk traversing the Six Foot Track, you can find more information about the trek here

Team photo on the Six Foot Track over looking Megalong Valley on the Blue Mountains walk

The Everest Base Camp sign
84 year old at Base Camp Everest

STORY BY: Ainslee Dennis

Trekking to Base Camp Everest at 84 years of age.

Today while patiently waiting to see an orthopedic surgeon, a fledgling Peak Potential ‘Adventuress’ dipped into the pile of magazines stacked on a side table.  The July 2013 edition of Prevention captured her attention with its claim to be ‘The Energy Issue’.

A quick flick and the above photo caught her eye. It was a picture of Christine Northrup MD with her mum at Base Camp Everest in 2010. Her mum was 84 years old.

Following is an extract of the article about Christine and her perspective on health and ageing.

You are never too old for adventure

“One thing I’ve learnt from my mother is that you don’t have to become feeble as you age. In 2010, when my mum was 84, she trekked to Base Camp Everest. The following year she drove her campervan across the country with her best friend, who was 87. Now she’s planning a trip to Alaska. The lesson? There are two kinds of age: chronological and biological. The first you can’t do anything about, but the second is largely under your control. Eating right and staying fit are important, but our attitude matters every bit as much. If we believe we’re going to slow down with age, we do. If we believe that aches and pains are inevitable, then we have them. Believing that you can maintain good health as you age is the secret to making it a reality.”

Yaks heading to Base Camp Everest

Be inspired by Christine’s mum – our fledgling ‘Adventuress’ loved that she found this article as she was seeking advice about her two less-than-perfect knees. The news wasn’t great but she is determined to visit Base Camp Everest before the age of 84 years!

If you’re also inspired and would like to go to Base Camp Everest join us for the Peak Potential Adventures Everest Base Camp Dawn Service Trek in April. It will be ‘An Adventure to Remember’ and the journey will embody the qualities that make-up the Anzac Spirit. Stand at Base Camp Everest on April 25 to honour the ANZAC Centenary with a team of people with whom you have shared days of trekking and during that time experienced the qualities that make-up the Anzac spirit – endurance, courage, ingenuity, good humour and mateship.

If you’d like more information on our Base Camp Everest adventure, register your interest by sending an email to

Sherpa prayer flags at Base Camp Everest

Shane Pophfer on the Overland Track in Tasmania

Hartnett Falls on the Overland Track Tasmanian Adventure

The definition of a Tasmanian adventure.

We’ve been thinking about our new awesome Tasmanian adventure. That’s not new but what is new is that we want to find out what adventure means to you.

We want your take on adventure and if you’re just beginning an adventurous journey – what do you want those choices to bring to your life?

The push is for more than a definition, we are looking for meaning, and yes, there is a difference. Today I reached for my 1979 edition Collins English Dictionary, (yep it’s old) to learn that adventure is:

  1. risky undertaking of unknown outcome.
  2. an exciting or unexpected event or course of events and
  3. a hazardous financial operation or course of events.

Yeah, that’s not how we define it. We want to get you thinking and talking about adventure to inspire you to make choices that will see treks and expeditions become part of your life story.

Peak Potential Adventures is offering three very different adventure experiences in 2015 and building momentum on the development of more treks and adventures. The Overland Track Winter Trek is our newest trek and over the Christmas/New Year period we reflected on what we took from the trek and considered what the adventure could add to your life.

Du Cane Hut on the Overland Track in Tasmania

A real Tasmanian adventure during winter

The Overland Track is a real Tasmanian adventure if you complete it during the winter period and would be considered a tough adventure challenge; you have got to work for it. It’s designed to be a back-to-basics wilderness trek which means you carry everything, cook everything, clean everything and contribute to a team environment. It’s an adventure that offers the opportunity to learn how to operate effectively in the Tasmanian wilderness and is 70km of mental and physical challenges in a wilderness environment of remarkable beauty and diverse weather conditions. Big adventure!

Our experience of The Overland Track and our Tasmanian adventure involved a really big push from the Nicholls Hut through to Cynthia Bay. It was around 27 kilometres and we had too much weight in our packs. That daily distance is not on the cards for the or Tasmanian adventure, what the adventure gave us in the wake of the challenges of that final day was this: life’s damn good and we are so lucky.

That feeling, that meaning, came as we sat in The Cynthia Bay Resort Cafe and ate a hamburger that was just magic, we thought it was the best hamburger we had ever eaten – now it probably wasn’t – but at that moment, after our six days on The Overland Track, it was magic. Every sense was heightened and our appreciation of the simple things was so much greater. We had clarity of thought, we felt that life’s damn good and we are so lucky.

The experience of pushing yourself in challenging environments will make you see the world differently and appreciate the good in your life – even when times are tough. That is a little of what adventure adds to our lives and our take from our Overland Track winter Tasmanian adventure.

So we’ve shared – now let’s hear from you!

Please contact the Peak Potential Adventures team at if you would like to receive a full information brochure on this amazing Tasmanian Adventure.

Peak Potential Adventures is an authorised operator on the Overland Track Track issued a licence by the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service.

Shane Pophfer hold up a sheet of ice on our Tasmanian Adventure through the Overland Track

Happy time on thecharity adventure to Mt Kilimanajro
Kristen Forbes on our charity adventure to climb Mt Kilimanajro

STORY BY: Kristen Forbes

I’ve got one less thing on the bucket list after completing my charity adventure.

It’s midnight, it’s below zero degrees, and I’m about to trek for several hours towards the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world for a charity adventure. Why? Why not!

I’m on my way to the “Roof of Africa” for this Mt Kilimanjaro charity adventure. For a week I have slept on the ground, once with a rock digging straight into my back. I’ve been trekking with six other teammates, one of which is my close friend who asked me to join her for this Mt Kilimanjaro charity adventure in support of Make-A-Wish Australia.

I’m looking good – I haven’t brushed my hair for a week, my face is burnt, I have dirt under my fingernails that I’m pretty sure will have to be removed at the doctors and deodorant is no longer hiding the smell.

Before I went to bed I put on four pairs of pants, four shirts, three jackets, a beanie, a buff, two pairs of gloves and three pairs of socks.

Am I comfortable?  Not even close. Physically the altitude has sucked all my energy and as we make our way up the mountain I feel like I have nothing to give. Mentally I’m battling; all I can allow myself to think is left foot, pause, right foot, pause, left foot, pause, right foot, pause. The slowest I have ever moved yet we are moving way to fast.

Sizing up Mt Kilimanajro on the charity adventure

Summiting Mt Kilimanjaro will be a moment I will always remember

We have exceptional guides. They know when to stop and check on us, when it’s time to drink, when it’s time to eat and they know when it’s ok to push that little bit harder. They even realise when the team needs a boost, my story will always include the moment a song and dance was busted out on the side of a mountain in Africa.

As we gradually make our way up the steep terrain, (something that wasn’t in the brochure I definitely signed up for a more gradual rise), my head is pounding and waves of nausea hit me.

This is the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro and I would want it any other way!

I’m one of the lucky ones, I made it to the top with feeling in my fingers and toes, although coming down is a totally different story and there may have been tears.

When people use the cliché “a trip of a lifetime” their absolutely right, and I was able to experience the trip with the ‘A team’. Our motto “Failure is not an option” guided us through some tough times but thankfully it didn’t really need to be said too often.

Kristen standing on the summit of Mt Kilimanajro

We were in the best hands-on this adventure

Shane Pophfer from Peak Potential Adventures gave us an all hands on deck approach before the trip and were just a phone call away when we needed advice.

On the mountain, Shane lead the way or yelled encouragement from the back of the pack.

Our trip was well organised and I felt spoilt on the mountain, with popcorn and afternoon tea waiting for us when trekking wrapped up each day. And the best surprise was having our very own toilet. It’s all about the simple things.

The guys at Peak Potential Adventures really know how to organise an adventure, all bases were covered and it was evident on the mountain when comparing ourselves to other teams.

I’m proud to say I reached the “Roof of Africa” and Peak Potential Adventures helped me get there to complete this charity adventure and tick another awesome adventure experience off my bucket list.

Receiving her Mt Kilimanajro summit certificate

Mitchell Morley and Shane Pophfer at the charity event

Mitchell Morley running on a treadmill to raise money for charity

Mitchell Morley making wishes come true.

Mitchell Morley brought it home strongly with an awesome effort of walking 12 hours on a treadmill to fundraise for Make-A-Wish Australia and to also make his wishes come true. Mitch is part of the 2014 Mt Kilimanjaro Charity Challenge Team. The fundraising event was held on the 23rd September 2014 at the Doylo RSL Club on the Central Coast and was well supported by the Doylo staff as well as the local community. It was a long event, and to walk on a treadmill for 12 hours is no easy feat, but Mitch hung in there the whole day and even managed to sprint home the last 30 seconds. There is no doubt that this was also great training for Mitch as he gears up for his climb of Mt Kilimanjaro in the coming weeks. Staff members and the patrons of the Doylo RSL Club were generous throughout the day which was absolutely fantastic. Mitch was getting pretty tired towards the end of his “Wishes Through Walking” challenge, but Shane Pophfer who is the Managing Director of Peak Potential Adventures and who is also leading this year’s Mt Kilimanjaro Charity Challenge said “climbing Mt Kilimanjaro is much easier if you get comfortable with being uncomfortable” which is one of Shane’s favourite motivational sayings.

Days before leaving on his adventure of a lifetime, Mitch had raised $11,273 for Make-Wish Australia, which is an outstanding effort. The funds he raised will go a long way in making the wishes come true for the children who need it most.

We wish Mitchell Morley all the best of luck on his climb and will be following the team’s progress closely over the 7 days as they make their way up the Machame Route of Mt Kilimanjaro. We are confident with all the pre-training we have done with Mitch and the team; we will follow on with our 100% summit success rate that we achieved with the 2013 Mt Kilimanjaro Charity Challenge. With only a 60% summit success rate on Mt Kilimanjaro, we would be over the moon if we achieved 100% success on the 2014 climb.

Standing on the summit of Mt Kilimanajro for charity

Emma Harrison on the summit of Mt Kilimanajro

STORY BY: Emma Harrison

Mega Life Lessons and an Adventure of a Lifetime.

It was mental strength, rather than physicality that Emma Harrison gained from scaling a mountain

This is a wonderful story from Emma Harrison who was a team member on the inaugural 2013 Peak Potential Adventures Mt Kilimanjaro Charity Challenge in support of Make-A-Wish Australia. Feeling very unwell at 4,600m just as we were about to head off on summit night, Emma overcomes the odds to successfully summit Mt Kilimanjaro using raw courage and determination and along the way, learnt some mega life lessons that she shares below.

These are the mega life lessons I learnt climbing Mt Kilimanjaro

Spending seven days sleeping in a tent in sub-zero temperatures, without showers. Relentlessly climbing in the same dirty and dusty clothes every day. Using a bucket as a toilet or squatting behind a rock. When climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, I found a resilience I honestly didn’t know I had. With decreasing oxygen causing headaches, nausea, vomiting and delirium, I realised pretty quickly that this charity-climb isn’t for the faint-hearted. Or for the well-manicured (it wasn’t going to be pretty). But here’s what mega life lessons I learnt along the way.

Emma Harrison learnt some mega life lessons heading to the summit of Mt Kilimanajro

“I get by with a little help from my friends”  John Lennon

I started the mountain with 16 strangers.  We had no phones, laptops, TV’s or distractions of the western world so we talked, laughed, cried and shared our stories as we slowly made our way up the mountain. United in an experience that tested our endurance, strength, and will power, we formed a bond that I think has surprised us all.

As the days passed we became a true team, all looking out for each other. From sharing water when I ran out, lacing up my boots when I couldn’t, giving me those all-important words of encouragement when I faltered, these guys had my back and the value of this was priceless. It hits me as I climb this feeling of being so blessed in my life with friends and family. I vow never to underestimate their value again.

Shira Camp on Mt Kilimanajro

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Climbing this mountain becomes a metaphor of how we live our lives and on Kilimanjaro that manifested as a reminder: STOP HURRYING! Our guides constantly remind us to take things ‘pole, pole’ – slowly, slowly. On average, 40% of people who start the climb don’t make the summit of Kilimanjaro with altitude sickness being the biggest factor. A slow walk allows the blood more time to acclimatise to the increase in altitude and more chance of success, but it also allowed more time to look around, appreciate, and just to be present in the moment. Reaching the summit was the goal, but the challenge and the journey is what it’s all about. We all know this, but I never thought I’d be living it quite so literally.

This adventure to climb Mt Kilimanajro had some mega life lessons

“It’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”  Sir Edmund Hilary

Four hours before we were leaving base camp on our final climb to the summit, Kilimanjaro brought me to my knees. I was so sick I couldn’t keep water down. Failure loomed, and I did what I had to do. I talked to God. No, I am not bringing religion into my darkest hour: God was the rather apt name of our head guide. He’d seen all this before and told me with brutal honesty and much kindness that my chance of reaching the summit did not look good. As my team made their final preparations I sat in my tent and cried big fat silent tears, coming to terms with impending failure. And then I made a decision. I was not going to give up. I put my boots on. And then I shuffled into my jacket. And then I stepped outside. And under the light of the full moon, I put one foot in front of the other and I walked through the pain and beyond.

Ontop of the Barranco wall on Mt Kilimanajro

I found an inner strength. Who knew? There was exhaustion and freezing cold (despite six layers of clothes). There was breathlessness because the air was so thin. There was the pain of trying to find energy just to swallow much-needed food and sips of water. And focus, so I wouldn’t fall asleep between steps. It was punishing on every level and exceeding every limit I had. And then, after eight gruelling hours the sun rose, and with frozen tears rolling down my face I took the final steps to the top of the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. Shaking with disbelief and pride and oxygen deprivation, I took in the jaw-dropping beauty all around me.  I still feel emotional when I remember that life-changing moment.

I overcame – well, everything – to reach the summit that night. Including my self-doubts and fears, which if I’m honest, I think I have carried with me for the last 37 years. And somehow I have left them there on that mountain. Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro has opened my eyes to a whole new reality where anything is possible.  I am a better, stronger version of myself and there is no going back.

Emma on the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro reflecting on the adventure journey

“It doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full, be thankful that you have a glass and grateful there is something in it.” – Unknown

While we complained about the cold in our new fleeces and fancy Gortex jackets, about the weight of our backpacks  and our sore feet in reassuringly expensive boots, our Tanzanian porters and guides raced without complaint up the mountain ahead of us, carrying our water, food, tents and equipment, as well as their own minimal amount. Many wore shoes that were clearly not designed to climb a mountain (Ugg boots anyone?) and single layers of clothes. They pushed themselves to the limit daily, risking their own lives (for as little as $10 per day) so that we could have this experience. They also suffer from the altitude and the cold, and yet they line up to do it over and over again week after week. They have families to feed and this is their livelihood. Humbling does not begin to describe it. Whilst we were celebrating our summit success we heard the terrible news that two porters had died on Kilimanjaro that day. The mountain takes no prisoners and the reality of this is brutal.

And here I am – back in my comfortable life, with my comfortable bed, a wardrobe spilling with clothes, and shelves brimming with beauty products. Everything I thought I could want or need, I have at my fingertips. And yet somehow it’s lost some of its appeal and shine. I think daily about the porters who have probably climbed the mountain five times since I was there last month. And I am eternally grateful for everything I have in my life and the mega life lessons that I learnt on this amazing adventure.

Emma receiving her Kilimanajro summit certificate and learnt some mega life lessons along the way