I didn’t realize it until we got there this time but I’d been here before, actually a string of bad luck in my early days as a camper involves the Wombeyan Caves. Although there were a few differences between this time and the last.
Katoomba sits right in the middle of the Blue Mountains, there are a tonne of daywalks and they’re right at your doorstep.
In visibly excited anticipation for the warmer days and longer hours that are quickly approaching, I instructed Nick to bring lunch for both of us and that I’d get him at 9AM sharp. I was driving, so it was only fair that he bring my lunch. After I managed to convince him that this was a good deal (or he gave in regardless of the quality of the deal) we were finally on the road.
Seeing this on a Saturday and dreaming about the places I’ll go when I finally own one, I made sure Sunday packed a punch.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nick wrote an awesome article and posted some rad photos about Canberra on the website for the Biodiversity Conservation course that he is doing at ANU.
Nick’s Trusty Steed.
Nick is with me on pretty much every adventure, and he really knows what he’s doing, if it wasn’t for Nick a lot of the walks and trips I dream of doing probably wouldn’t eventuate. And if they did, the meals wouldn’t be as good as they might otherwise (dude can seriously cook).
Nick on our trip to Tasmania.
Students were asked to document a part of their journey through the unit and I think Nick sums it up best with this: “I encourage all of you to go on an adventure and explore some of the beautiful and diverse landscapes around where you live, whether it be in Canberra or another town or city. And importantly, spread the word, take friends and family along, and challenge yourself to explore everything there is on offer”.
Read the rest… Here!
Car camping in Tasmania was one of the best experiences of this last summer, but in the end the smell was unbearable. Ben did most of the driving, I did a little and Nick did none. Luckily for Nick he’s a good cook, or we might have figured out he was no help to any of us. Overall Tasmania treated us pretty nicely, mind the fires and the rain and the cold and the wind and the snow.
At the beach near where we camped in Strahan. We were advised to drive down a dirt logging road until we found a campsite at the end, we thought it was a wild goose chase after a while but we eventually got there. Paid six dollars between us for the night I think, not bad.
I’d do it all again. All of these photos were taken with my iPhone 4s, and link through to Flickr.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!