Down Under

Yarrangobilly CavesSo the blog is back, and the whole Canberra thing is out, back to your regular scheduled worldwide programming… It’s been a while. Continue reading

Advertisements

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.

IMG_7532
First photo of the trip, I’d picked J, J and T up, and hit the road before this was taken.

IMG_7587
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.

IMG_7647
Beach caves.

IMG_7652
J the action model.

IMG_7668
“Is this edible?”

IMG_7670
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.

IMG_7692
Fresh meet Salty, Salty meet Fresh.

IMG_7702
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.

IMG_7707
The view.

IMG_7709
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.

IMG_7713
Nature is your bathroom.

IMG_7724
Normally the water’s edge is at the sand here, it was all submerged this time.

IMG_7802
J the Fire Lord, he’s always in charge of the blaze.

IMG_7823
The swell was also the biggest I’d ever seen it here, the waves were spraying everywhere as they smashed against the cliffs.

IMG_7848
J and I looking for a bite to eat.

IMG_7903
The Heavens!

IMG_7914
“I’ve never been to Nadgee and not caught a fish.”

IMG_7933
Straight to the kitchen with his spoils.

IMG_7973
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.

IMG_7987
J drying off, those UC socks have been everywhere.

IMG_8052
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.

Biodiversity

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.

Photo: Nick Wilson
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).

IMG_4505
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!

Tasmania

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.

IMG_4256
First sighting of land from the Spirit of Tasmania. That boat was a mental game, and I was close to cracking.

IMG_4297
Rainbow in Hobart.

IMG_4323
Awesome truck at the Taste Festival in Hobart.

IMG_4324
A big boat and a little boat in Hobart.

IMG_4326
Livin’

IMG_4370
Fires in forty two degree heat. This was a little uncomfortable and we came across some closed roads.

IMG_4374
Camping at Lake St Clair.

IMG_4375
The Lake.

IMG_4386
Breakfast of champions, I have eaten this so so many times.

IMG_4539
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.

IMG_4550
Ferry crossing in the northwest.

IMG_4563
Routine coffee.

IMG_4571
Old seaweed farm.

IMG_4582
A lonely house on the west coast.

IMG_4611
Empty roads.

IMG_4627
Portrait of Ben and I, middle of nowhere if I recall. This is what we were wearing in the middle of summer.

IMG_4649
Summer of Ginger Beer.

IMG_4660
The steed and the quarters.

IMG_4662
The north coast.

IMG_4664
Fires over a pulp mill.

IMG_4721
Celebrating the end of an awesome trip.

I’d do it all again. All of these photos were taken with my iPhone 4s, and link through to Flickr.

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.

IMG_4396
Nick on the suspension bridge across the Franklin River.

IMG_4403
Our first sighting of the cap, brutally obvious as to where it was we were going, we were psyched.

IMG_4406
Dick Smith, of electronics fame has donated a lot of money to creating and maintaining tracks on the walk. Cheers Dick.

IMG_4415
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.

IMG_4426
Day two and we were headed for the cap. Here’s a taste of what morning threw at us.

IMG_4435
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.

IMG_4449
Ben and Nick posing on one of the steep sections, we didn’t count the stairs but I estimate about ten squillion.

IMG_4457
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.

IMG_4463
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.

IMG_4466
The cap was momentus up close, this is what the view was like for about three of four hours.

IMG_4470
Another saddle and another lake, Tasmania has some epic scenery.

IMG_4477
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.

IMG_4488
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.

IMG_4490
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.

IMG_4498
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.

IMG_4505
Back to camp just in time for Couscous around the world before the sun set. Absolutely exhausted.

IMG_4527
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.

IMG_4535
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.

IMG_4537
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)

IMG_6244
Heading down to Bungendore.

IMG_6248
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?

IMG_6256
The list is always a work in progress.

IMG_6267
Endless #summerofgingerbeer.

IMG_6278
Campfire enthusiast.

IMG_6283
Daybreak.

IMG_6284
A common morning scene, Muesli with Peaches & Coffee.

IMG_6286
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.

IMG_6294
Mr. Agility.

IMG_6298
The first of many good views.

IMG_6303
Rock formations that were once riverbeds.

IMG_6315
Nice enough day for it.

IMG_6320
Arches.

IMG_6333
Pensive Wilson at our camp, day one was a success.

IMG_6337
The view from dinner with long shadows.

IMG_6343
Chick Peas & Zucchini (Cous cous not pictured).

IMG_6346
Male Model enjoying dinner.

IMG_6352
Daybreak on the big day, we needed to get cracking.

IMG_6353
From the tent door, peeking into Nick’s, wondering where my coffee is.

IMG_6358
The kitchen hung out to dry.

IMG_6359
The peak on the left of the saddle is where our tents were, not a bad spot.

IMG_6364
Back into the forest.

IMG_6366
Caves!

IMG_6368
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.

IMG_6377
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.

IMG_6380
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.

IMG_6384
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!

IMG_6385
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.

IMG_6388
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.

IMG_4997
Nick kinda knew where we were going.

IMG_4999
Lush undergrowth.

IMG_5003
The roads out here are extremely picturesque, “maybe this is the way?”

IMG_5014
First leech of the day (that we knew about).

IMG_5020
I saw an eel in this pool but it was much too slippery to photograph.

IMG_5023
The yabbies however, slow enough.

IMG_5024
This was the kind of terrain that we were dealing with.

IMG_5028
Slippery, but far from unappealing.

IMG_5029
Another section of creek.

IMG_5030
Nick is probably knee deep in it here, spirits were still up!

IMG_5033
The mist rolled in at this point and it started to get wet.

IMG_5034
But what a view.

IMG_5042
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.

IMG_5043
Because we were at the top of the waterfall there wasn’t a chance to get ‘the’ waterfall photo.

IMG_5045
We sat around and had some lunch, before the inevitable leech patrol!

IMG_5050
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!