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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.

Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden

The photos speak for themselves…