It Doesn’t Have to be Fun to be Fun

4:14 AM and my phone buzzed, “If the weather is shit when you get there don’t risk it!”
…Thanks to M for the love and support but they say fortune favours the brave.

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First photo of the trip, I’d picked J, J and T up, and hit the road before this was taken.

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Even at 9:30 AM when the woman at Merimbula National Parks and Wildlife Office told me that they weren’t even going to bother opening any roads for the next 48 hours because there was so much rainfall predicted, we went for it anyway. We found a road that wasn’t closed, planned a different route and got cracking, thinking that in four days there would have to be at least a few minutes of sunshine. We were kinda right.

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Beach caves.

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J the action model.

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“Is this edible?”

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Tradition, throw wood off a cliff whenever you’re at the coast, we’ve done this since we first got our own cars and started coming down here.

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Fresh meet Salty, Salty meet Fresh.

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Nadgee is one of my favourite places to go and just disconnect for a few days, catching fish and hanging out by the campfire are just bonuses. Jack took photos when I wasn’t bothered, or wanted to be in one.

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The view.

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The swell was running through the river mouth, normally you can wade through here and you won’t get your knees wet. I’ve never seen it like this.

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Nature is your bathroom.

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Normally the water’s edge is at the sand here, it was all submerged this time.

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J the Fire Lord, he’s always in charge of the blaze.

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The swell was also the biggest I’d ever seen it here, the waves were spraying everywhere as they smashed against the cliffs.

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J and I looking for a bite to eat.

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The Heavens!

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“I’ve never been to Nadgee and not caught a fish.”

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Straight to the kitchen with his spoils.

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Prep, sometimes when we come here we catch too many fish to bother with and just let them free, this time there was a single flathead.

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J drying off, those UC socks have been everywhere.

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On the third day we just gave in and came home early, probably because these were waiting for us back at the car.

Thankful that it wasn’t hell, but just high water, we had all had a good trip. Eating as much as possible and loving every second that we had no phone reception. All of these photos were taken with the Canon 550D and link through to flickr.

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Frenchmans Cap

Convicts were known to use Frenchmans Cap as a guiding beacon when escaping their imprisonment at Macquarie Harbour Penal Station, but we just wanted to climb it. Even though it was forty two degrees in Hobart the day before, we had some of the best weather Tasmania has just about ever seen on our three day hike. Although the weather was perfect, the conditions still weren’t amazing.

Getting to the peak and back can be done in two days, the first and third of which are half spent in either waist high mud, if you have the luck of the devil, or knee high mud if no one is doing a rain dance on the island of Tasmania. The middle day was just as much of a punish, we spent around 10 hours that day walking on our return trip to the summit. Some parties we came across were doing the whole thing in 5 days, and in inclement weather it is necessary to take this long.

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Nick on the suspension bridge across the Franklin River.

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Our first sighting of the cap, brutally obvious as to where it was we were going, we were psyched.

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Dick Smith, of electronics fame has donated a lot of money to creating and maintaining tracks on the walk. Cheers Dick.

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After a long day, we sat by the hut at Lake Vera and stretched it out in the afternoon sun. Little known fact, wearing a bandanna aids stretching.

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Day two and we were headed for the cap. Here’s a taste of what morning threw at us.

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We reached this saddle and we were literally breathtaken, we didn’t say much more than “woahhhh” “dude wooooooah” “oh maaan” for a few minutes. You can see the cap on the right of the picture, ever closer.

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Ben and Nick posing on one of the steep sections, we didn’t count the stairs but I estimate about ten squillion.

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Lake Tahune! The base of the cap. Nick had a skinny dip here on the way back, but I’m going to keep it G rated.

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In a grim turn of events, Ben had some troubles with his knee and we had to slow it down. He wasn’t to be held back though, and soldiered on like a boss.

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The cap was momentus up close, this is what the view was like for about three of four hours.

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Another saddle and another lake, Tasmania has some epic scenery.

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Part time male model, part time cyclist, full time bro, Nick Wilson at the summit. Seen here wearing a shirt the wrong way, most likely delirious from the altitude.

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The view to the south, the saddle on the far left is where we were lost for words, we had come a long way, but had to head back to camp. It was me who made the predictable joke about the Lord of the Rings at this point.

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To the north and it was just mountains as far as I could see, to the west we could just see the ocean. Pretty sure Isengard was in the east.

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As a rad reward for making it to the top, there was a prize of snow for the first 1,000,000 visitors, or until climate change gets to it, whichever comes first. Tasmania has it all.

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Back to camp just in time for Couscous around the world before the sun set. Absolutely exhausted.

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The cabin at lake Vera was awesome, but full on the only two nights that we were there. It emptied out as soon as we were leaving of course, great timing.

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Day three was rough with Ben’s knee and his pack, but we soldiered back through the mud to the Franklin River for a bath. When we got there of course there was a party of seven retirees using the bridge one at a time, they couldn’t believe their eyes when three sweaty, muddy boys emerged out of the bush like wild animals. They took roughly twenty eight years to finish crossing the bridge before we could race across it all at once, rip our packs and shoes off faster than the speed of light, and jump straight in. It was so so so good, and I won the skipping stones comp.

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We had an excellent time and met some interesting people along the way. In this case interesting meant a naked bearded man, neck deep in mud and filth, kilometers away from the nearest clean water source. He was later referred by another group as “Oh was it that crazy dude with the red beard? Yeah him and his mate were so weird”. I think our swim was nicer, if only because we came out cleaner than when we went in.

Tasmania is unreal, we had no idea what we were getting into when we took the HMAS Grimboat, aka the Spirit of Tasmania, but in the end we were blown away. Photos were taken with my iPhone 4s and click through to Flickr!

Where am I?

This trip was going to be tough but we didn’t know just how tough… Of course Nick was chief planner and navigator, Ben was sick (of health and of overwhelming uni work) and Jack needed to work more than he did go camping so the party was down to two. The plan was to camp at the Wog Wog carpark, then set off bright and early to Yurnga Lookout the next day. Day two was going to be Yurnga to The Castle return. Because we were doing a return walk, day three was the same as the first.

Lets just say that we got 2/3 days right, and as Meatloaf said: “Don’t be sad, two out of three ain’t bad”


(The perfect accompaniment for this post)

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Heading down to Bungendore.

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Caravaners enjoying all the luxuries of home life, their generator was noisy a gift from the devil for the rest of us. What’s the point?

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The list is always a work in progress.

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Endless #summerofgingerbeer.

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Campfire enthusiast.

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Daybreak.

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A common morning scene, Muesli with Peaches & Coffee.

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My friends Karla & Jake turned up at the same carpark, to do a similar walk! Crazy timing to meet up in the middle of nowhere.

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Mr. Agility.

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The first of many good views.

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Rock formations that were once riverbeds.

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Nice enough day for it.

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Arches.

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Pensive Wilson at our camp, day one was a success.

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The view from dinner with long shadows.

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Chick Peas & Zucchini (Cous cous not pictured).

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Male Model enjoying dinner.

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Daybreak on the big day, we needed to get cracking.

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From the tent door, peeking into Nick’s, wondering where my coffee is.

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The kitchen hung out to dry.

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The peak on the left of the saddle is where our tents were, not a bad spot.

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Back into the forest.

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Caves!

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At this point we missed a turn that we needed to take. The plan was to go on a known path between Mt Owen and Mt Cole but instead we missed this path and ended up finding ourselves on one of the four pillars of Donjon Mountain. They weren’t as tall as the other mountains, and were easy enough to summit, the trick was getting down.

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The view was good but we soon realized that this was not the pass that we were looking for. We scouted out the area for a way around to find the trail that we were after, which led between those two cliffs in this picture. We had climbed the mountain on the westward side but wanted to descend on the east, to meet the trail again.

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What we found however was an abandoned set of packs and a torn shelter, we were pretty spooked but we decided to rummage through the belongings. They had been out in the elements for 15 months, the pack on the right went from green to white. These were absolutely RIDDLED with spiders and ants and other stuff that isn’t your mate.

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I found this note saying that they had been rescued by chopper, crazy! I got in contact with Malcolm when I got home, he had been with a mate and his mate’s son and a friend of the son. These guys also got lost, but similarly to us figured out pretty quickly where they were, however the friend of the son couldn’t handle the heat and they had to pull the plug and use their emergency beacon. Humbling stuff. He had even tried to return to the spot to find his bags and recover his camera (which we didn’t find) but said he failed due to the weather, but is going again soon!

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On the way down from the (wrong) mountain, Nick and I found this nest of eggs, Happy Easter indeed! We found the path after about 4 or 5 hours of extreme struggle in the dense bush. All of the area that we were navigating had no tracks and we wouldn’t have covered more than a kilometer in those hours. A lot of the time we thought we had found a way, but it was a dead end and we had to retrace our steps and find another route. Eventually we reached the trail and were elated but decided to call it quits and head back to camp. We didn’t get to see The Castle in the end, but there’s always next time, at this point we were just happy to be safe.

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Daybreak on the final day and it was a bit gloomy. Time to head home.

Just like last time, we drove back to Braidwood for the bakery, and then cruised home to Canberra. This trip was an eye opener for us, we were almost in deep water but we pulled through, full credit to Nick for his awesome navigation skills. Both of us agreed that this would have been way worse if we had another hiker with us who was any less experienced. Photos were taken with my iPhone 4s and click through to Flickr!

Waterfall Hunting

Although Uni was only just around the corner, Nick came up with a final trip before the holidays were over. Nick wanted to go back to a waterfall that his brother had taken him to “oh like when I was twelve or something”. I borrowed the Mazda off Mum and Dad for the day and we headed East. 13 kilometers east of Braidwood is the town of Mongarlowe, and taking a right turn after the Mongarlowe Bridge will lead you into the private properties that sit on the edge of the Budawang Ranges. After a bit of searching for the start of the walk, we Parked the car kinda near someone’s house and jumped into the forest, in search of an epic waterfall.

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Nick kinda knew where we were going.

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Lush undergrowth.

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The roads out here are extremely picturesque, “maybe this is the way?”

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First leech of the day (that we knew about).

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I saw an eel in this pool but it was much too slippery to photograph.

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The yabbies however, slow enough.

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This was the kind of terrain that we were dealing with.

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Slippery, but far from unappealing.

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Another section of creek.

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Nick is probably knee deep in it here, spirits were still up!

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The mist rolled in at this point and it started to get wet.

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But what a view.

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After about four hours of absolutely treacherous terrain, we made it to this misty view. Hard to say exactly but it was a long way down the canyon floor and even further across.

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Because we were at the top of the waterfall there wasn’t a chance to get ‘the’ waterfall photo.

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We sat around and had some lunch, before the inevitable leech patrol!

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We were stuffed, the walk was actually in a huge loop so all we had to do was climb back out up and over the ridge to get back to the car. This took about an hour and we were spent by the end of it. We took our shoes off and found this kind of surprise in a few places. We would have pulled off at least fifty between us, but there were two that evaded capture. This is Nick’s foot, and I’m not posting a photo of where I got my surprise leech.

We drove back to Braidwood for the bakery, and then hot footed it home to Canberra. Two extremely sopping dudes returned home safe and all in time for dinner. Photos were taken with my iPhone 4s and click through to Flickr!

Been to Bimberi?

This was one of my favorite weekends last year. Tired of the drudgery that comes with half a semester of university, Nick, Ben, Lachy, Henry and I set off to conquer the highest peak in the ACT, Mt Bimberi. Sitting at 1912 metres high, we took three days to complete the return journey. Bimberi Peak sits right at the border of NSW and ACT on the western side of the territory. The NSW portion belongs to the Kosciuszko National Park and the ACT section belongs to Namadgi National Park. Climbing this mountain doesn’t require any specialized equipment or knowledge, just a set of legs.

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Like a lot of our trips, Ben’s Subaru Outback was the go to mode of transport to the trail.

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Straight into the thick of things, Lachy exhibited the grace of a swan crossing this stream. All four of us did manage to have a splash free start to the trip.

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Lunch! Relatively early into the journey, it was still all smiles.

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Nearing the end of day one, Nick did some dance walking to keep the spirits up.

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Made it! The Cotter Hut sits alongside the Cotter river at the Base of the ridge that Bimberi occupies. Sadly for us camping out here isn’t luxury, and the hut is only for the Rangers. Nice to look at but that’s about all it could offer us.

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By mid April it is cold out here at night, once the sun sets, it hits. Luckily man discovered fire.

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Ben chows down under the light of his home made torch.

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The three tents are dwarfed by the hut here on the morning of day two. An amazing still day with no clouds in sight.

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After about 500 vertical metres, we reached Murray’s Gap, the base of Bimberi. This is covered in snow for months of the year, and was soggy as it gets underfoot in places. The clouds had turned up at this point.

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The hard work was getting to us…

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Well some of us, Lachy seemed to have a stash of positive energy in his back pocket.

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…Which he was sharing with Ben.

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There’s no actual route to the summit, a mixture of dumb luck and bush bashing provided a negotiable path.

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Once we got to the top the view was pretty amazing, the water there is the Corin Dam.

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Unfortunately for us the wind at 1912 metres was unbearable. We had climbed around 1000 of those this day and were exhausted. We just kinda hid behind some rocks and ate what we had and complained about the wind. It was almost anticlimactic to just huddle around and shelter ourselves from the elements. Ben brought the most clothing to the top, and jealousy was running rampant.

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The descent was just as rough as the ascent, but when we reached camp again, we had some visitors. Nick seemed to be extremely excited about it, as is shown here. It’s worth mentioning that Nick found that hat on the climb, score.

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At the end of the day we braved the Cotter river to wash our feet. It was icy and I think I lasted about 10 seconds before I’d had enough.

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Nick had a friend round for dinner on the final night and soon after we all hit the hay extremely heavily.

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Daybreak on the final day and it was pouring rain. Great. We packed up our belongings, I put my camera away and we struggled home.

We got home soaked from head to toe, but it was worth it. I’d like to go back one day but via a different route, maybe even riding out to the hut would be a good one nighter. These photos were taken with my iPhone 4s and jump through to Flickr.