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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tahune Airwalk

The Airwalk and Swinging Bridges were amazing. The day we went was Ellie’s birthday and she pronounced it 'my best birthday in my entire life' (she is now 6). The swinging bridge was her favourite, but she also braved the cantilever by herself a second time for Uncle Dazza and Pa to take photos.

Mt Wellington

We gave Anita & Paul a taste of bushwalking in Tassie by doing the Organ Pipe walk on Mt Wellington. Mum & Dad had taken the kids for the day, but we both happened to be at the top of the mountain at the same time!

Port Arthur

We collected some mussels and oysters off the rocks at Bruny Island the day we left, and they proved to be a big hit with everyone after a hard day of sightseeing on the Tasman Peninsula the following day.

We did the historic site in our wet weather gear. Nathan’s favourite thing was the leg irons, and Ellie liked the flowers and the two-headed stuffed Tassie Devil at the gift shop (she thought we were

at a zoo!).

Bruny Island

We had enough fine weather for a couple of walks on Bruny Island, and enjoyed the coastal walks and variety of wildlife and wildflowers. Here are some highlights…

Monday, December 8, 2008

Catching Up

Since our walk up to Hartz Peak we’ve had more rain and cloud and wind… funny how one beautiful day every couple of weeks seems normal now. Mum & Dad met us at Mt Field last Monday and we’ve enjoyed seeing them. We went for a drive up to Lake Dobson (in the Mt Field NP) one afternoon and by the time we got to the top it was snowing! We went for a walk around the Lake and it was very pretty. The boys hadn’t brought their cameras (because it was wet), but when we got back to the car the rain/snow had stopped so decided to go back and take photos. While they were gone there was another blustery snow storm.

A few days after that we drove out to Lake Pedder and the Gordon Dam. It was overcast for most of the day, but there was a sunny spot in the middle of the day that the photographers made the most of.

We’re at Bruny Island at now, but no walks or photos yet. Dazz, Mum & Dad have gone out on the boat tour today, but I’ve had too many bad, sea-sick boat experiences to even want to go. Hopefully they bring back some good photos.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hartz Peak

After two weeks in the Huon Valley we finally had a clear, sunny day on Wednesday for our planned walk to Hartz Peak… and what a beauty it was! National Parks have done a lot of track work, and the kilometres of boardwalks made this one of the ‘easiest’ walks we’ve done, even though there was 400m of vertical ascent. We had stunning views in all directions - out to the Southwest National Park, along the south coast, Bruny Island, the Tasman Peninsula in the distance, the Huon Valley and Mt Wellington. It was definitely worth waiting for the perfect day.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More wet pants, and recognising the fish whistle

There are few sights more pitiful than a man standing outside the caravan holding his track pants demanding dry undies… except maybe noticing said man talking to the neighbours holding aforementioned track pants in hand… yes, unfortunately this is a new story, and not a repeat of a previously regaled episode.

On this occasion the protagonist was going kayaking. The weather was cloudy, but calm, and there were no signs of the impending disaster. Of course, there was the usual back and forth and in and out of the van associated with such a venture. ‘Where’s such and such?’ or ‘Have you seen the thingy whatsit?’ The kayak had been taken across the road (i.e. dirt track through the camp ground) to the little beach about 20 metres from where we’re camped, and as he put it in the water it splashed up inside. Being a cooler day, and wanting to minimise wetness to his posterior, he popped back to the car to get a rag to wipe it up.

Being happily oblivious to the happenings outside I glanced out the window and was greeted by the baffling sight mentioned earlier. ‘How odd’ I thought to myself, coming to the conclusion that he must be now ready to set out, and had decided to take off his long pants (usually worn as sun protection) and wear shorts. Still, he would normally change closer to the van, rather than stand pant-less talking to neighbours… I returned to whatever it was I was doing until the van door suddenly burst open.

I need dry undies!

What? (Is this déjà vu???)

Do I have to explain?


I fell in.


I came back to get a rag, and then the people were yelling, and then when I got back the tide had come in really quickly and the boat was on its way to Antarctica…

So he did what is apparently done in an emergency and whipped his pants off, retrieving the boat and only managing to wet the bottom half of his shirt and inside fleece vest. (What was he doing wearing his inside fleece in the boat? ‘I couldn’t be bothered changing.’)

In his words, ‘I’ve spent our whole time away initiating with people, and the one time people actually initiate with me I’m in wet undies holding my pants! They wanted to know about the kayaks – how much they cost, do we like them, etc, so I just tried to pretend that nothing out of the ordinary was happening [Ed. - The sad thing is, this is becoming ‘not out of the ordinary’.] and just chatted…’

I am very pleased to report that the following day we both went kayaking without any pant-removing incidents (although there was a minor emergency when he thought he had a big stinging ant in his dacks, and they were briefly half removed...).

Yesterday he went out fishing and when he came home whistling my first thought was ‘sounds like a happy whistle – maybe he caught something’. That was closely followed by another ‘I hope he’s not holding his pants and pretending that nothing’s wrong’ thought… I cautiously peered out the window to be greeted by two fish – barracuda. I’m sure I ordered salmon. He did have another big fish on apparently, but it was so big it snapped his line… another lost lure in the line of duty. At least now I know what the ‘I’ve caught a fish’ whistle sounds like.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We’re finally back walking... and feeling it!

It’s been exactly three weeks since our Mt Field NP adventure walk, and today we’re feeling the effects of three weeks of sitting at computers and then doing a 15km walk. We’re both stiff and sore today, even though the walk to South Cape Bay was an enjoyable stroll with no steep bits or boulders to clamber over.

We spent most of our time marking at Bothwell, which was a friendly, quiet little town. Last week we stayed in Franklin for a few nights, and did some drives around the area. It was beautiful and green, in contrast to Bothwell, which was quite dry. The Huon River beckoned, but it was too windy to bother with the kayaks.

We’re now camped at Cockle Creek and are a stone’s throw from the water of Recherche Bay, with the calm, clear waters of Cockle Creek a few hundred metres away. Yesterday was sunny so we did the walk to South Cape Bay (nothing between us and Antarctica - and yes, the water was icy), knowing that rain was forecast for the next few days. It’s such a pretty spot that we’ll probably stay here a while, and try to do some kayaking and fishing.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Mt Field

We realised when we arrived at Meadowbank Lake that we were quite close to Mt Field, and because it was too windy to get out the kayaks, and because the car batteries needed charging, and because Thursday was forecast to be fine (with a great big high over the whole state!) we decided to go for a drive over there on Wednesday to see what day walks there were. The Ranger told us that there were good views on the K Col – Tarn Shelf walk, and even though there was some rock hopping it was no worse than Marion’s Lookout (at Cradle Mountain)…

Yes, the “…” are there for good reason. This was the most tiring walk we’ve done so far. Starting with about 1km of gravel road that ascended over 200m was not a great way to ease into the day. A scramble up and around a rocky path for 700-800m did bring us out to a boardwalk, though, so we were settling in for a nice walk, with another climb up to K Col. It didn't last long, though, and then there were boulder, boulders and more boulders!

The first snow drift we came across was over medium sized boulders. It was melting in places, and we had no idea where there might be cracks and crevices under the snow, or how soft it would be. The intrepid leader did his best to skirt most of the snow and carefully stomp out a path across the narrowest section. It was slow going, but really pretty (he kept stopping in the middle of drifts to take photos!).

We had lunch at a fairly high point that looked south and west – Mt Weld, Mt Anne, Federation Peak in the far distance along with the Frankland Range, Lake Gordon and even Frenchmans Cap. We suddenly realised that we were less than one third of the way around the walk, but were presuming that it would be mostly downhill and not so much rock hopping, so ambled on. The back third of the walk was along spongy heath and was really pretty (although a bit soggy in places).

Then we started going up again… and came across more rocks, and then more snow. It was slow going (especially for the little lady, because when her legs get tired they slip really easy and she didn’t fancy wet boots, or a foot down a crack in the rocks).

One snow drift looked nice and fun to slide down, but we didn’t want to use our raincoats and then have to carry them wet. As we walked down it, though, the track marker seemed to disappear below us. Then we noticed that there were some cracks in the snow where it had started to slide and we realised that the drift just suddenly dropped almost vertically! We backtracked and went along some rocks and then came down and around a bit further down.

Nine hours, innumerable rocks, quite a few snow drifts, 800 metres of total ascent, almost 19 kilometres, and a platypus planning in the lake later, we arrived back at the car, exhilarated but exhausted!

The wonderful weather of the Apple Emirate

We had five or six weeks of rainy, cold weather so when it snowed last week we weren’t really that surprised. Over the course of the afternoon we had strong wind blowing rain, small hail, sleet and snow against our van. Being camped beside a lake with no power we just had to keep cooking things to stay warm. Dinner was great that night, and even included a hot dessert!

Fast forward five days, and move a few hundred metres lower in altitude and 70kms south west. Add a warm front of air blown down from the mainland, and what do you get? A maximum temperate of 32 degrees!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Our favourite walk so far

Yes, this is a big call, but we have both come to the conclusion that Mount Rufus has been our favourite walk so far. The walk is about 19 km, and rises 680 metres above the visitor centre at Lake St Clair, to a height of 1416m. There are a range of forest types, from fairly dry sclerophyll, to mossy wet gullies, to snow gums, to alpine heath above the tree line. On the way back down are pandani (like ‘bromeliad trees’) and scoparia plants, which are another variety of heath. There was still quite a bit of snow around with a few drifts across the path. That only added to the walk as well as the views. A combination of the great variety of landscapes, and the magnificent views from the top (and on the way up and down) made this an excellent walk.

Since our last blog we also did a walk to Kelly Basin, at the north western end of Macquarie Harbour. It involved a drive along the old train line, which was often cut through rock or clung to the side of a hill, with a steep drop to the valley below. It was only wide enough for one car, and there weren’t many turnouts for passing, so we’re glad we didn’t meet anyone coming the other way! The track itself was mostly level, and was a very pleasant walk through wet forest along the Bird River. In a few places there had been landslip, and it looked like it wouldn’t take much for the track to slip further, into the river. At the end of the walk were the remains of an old township. We were amazed at how the forest had regenerated so much in less than 100 years.

We haven’t had many fine and sunny days over the last six weeks, but we have used them well. Mt Rufus was one, and the day we drove between Queenstown and Derwent Bridge was another. We did a number of short walks along the way, including one that looked out over Frenchmans Cap.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fishing... if only there were photos!

A fishing licence is required for inland waters, and now that the season has started, and we were headed inland, Dazz became the proud owner of a full season fishing licence last week. Camping just a hop, skip and a jump from the edge of Lake Mackintosh provided the perfect opportunity for him to have his first attempt at trout fishing.

First, the preparation...
Find the fishing rod and reel (buried in various black holes in the car).
Get spinner lure out of the box.
Come inside van.
Go back outside.
Come inside again.
Go outside.
Find 'lost' spinner between pant leg and gum boot (missed the pocket).
Come back inside to get swivel.
Discover a whole box of fishing tackle that's been in the cupboard.
Go back outside.
Come back inside to get the other swivel thingy.
Go back outside.
Come back inside to get some snacks to take fishing.

Then the code...
"If I come back whistling this [whistles a made up tune] I've caught something."
"If I come back whistling this [whistles a different made up tune] I haven't caught anything."

Then ensued a period of peace and quiet with a crossword, to be rudely interupted by:
Stomp, stomp, stomp up the hill and bursting into the caravan - note there was no whistle - there he stood in the kitchen with half his clothes in hand.

What happened?
"I got a snag and fell in."
[At this point the observer started laughing, and laughed so hard she could hardly breathe.]
"It's not funny."
[More gasps, trying to breathe.] "But how...?"
"It's NOT funny."
"I need dry underwear."
[More laughter.]

This went on for what seemed an eternity before the truth emerged. He got a snag, took off his long pants to wade into the water to try to unhook it. Decided it was getting too slippery and deep (and cold), but slipped anyway as he came out.

The spinner was lost, and there were no fish that day.

In spite of this shaky start he has been fishing again, but I am still yet to hear the whistle for 'I've caught one'... not that I can remember how it goes, or how to distinguish it from the other whistle... I always jsut assume the whistle I hear is the negative one.

Montezuma Falls – Rosebery

We’ve continued to have rain almost every day and are still coping quite well (although Dazz did have to get the silicone out today and have a go at the corner of the four seasons…). The other day we even went for a 10km walk in the rain to Montezuma Falls. There were many beautiful moments as rain – sometimes misty and sometimes quite heavy – fell through the trees. Unfortunately the camera is not waterproof. It did stop raining for a while why we were at the waterfall, though, so you can share with us the beauty of the falls, and the suspension bridge. And, yes, cable ties would be the obvious choice for attaching something to a cable.