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Monday, March 30, 2009

Mt Roland

Our third walk for the week really took the cake - as long as the previous two combined (at about 17kms) and probably about the combined elevation too (900m). We were both exhausted Saturday night, and a bit stiff and sore on Sunday, but once again the views were worth it. There was a great variety of vegetation, from tall timbers, to rainforested creeks, to sub-alpine plains and of course, the rocky summit. There's something about looking at mountains (including Cradle Mountain) from the top of another mountain. We even saw a few snakes. We're now camping in the shadow of Mt Roland while we get back to the real world of work (marking) for the week.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mt Amos

Camping close to Mt Amos allowed us to pick the window of opportunity for walking, setting out as the cloud was breaking and then coming down as the cloud once again began coming across. As usual it was hard work going up, but the views were certainly worth it!

Dazz has put more pics from our recent travels on the link over to the right, but none of Mt Amos yet.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Meander Falls

Meander Falls is the last of the 60 Great Short Walks on our list! We haven’t done all 60, because four are on Flinders/King Islands and one is only accessible from the train/ferry between Queenstown and Strahan. Some of the walks have been short and easy, many of them have been hard work, but all have been worthwhile. Meander Falls included a 500m ascent, but we decided that the falls at the end weren’t as nice as the ones along the way. We’re now down near Freycinet waiting for a sunny, blue sky day to climb Mt Amos for some great views of Wine Glass Bay and the surrounding areas.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A burnt toe, an encounter with the local yokels and Ben Lomond

Yes, it’s just another normal few weeks in the lives of Dazz and Leanne…

It was just another day at Lake Leake (Wednesday, a week and a half ago), nice enough to do some washing, but not nice enough to climb Mount Amos (read ‘windy’) when the kettle of hot water ended up splashing on Darren’s toes instead of heating the washing water from a chilly 10 degrees up to something more bearable. The first aid box was pulled out and thus ensued a twice daily routine of cleaning and changing dressings. That was the end of bushwalking plans for the next little while, but only the beginning of our recent adventures.

A few days later our quite little camp spot became a bit busier for the long weekend. One particular group of guys were staying in a shack and seemed to spend their days drinking and riding a motorbike up and down the road between the camp and the lake (sometimes with a helmet, and sometimes without). Apparently the police had been asked to have a drive through on the Friday night, in hope of settling them down, but we were asleep and happily oblivious.

Saturday afternoon they were back on the bike and had taken to riding in circles in the turn-around not far from our van. Although the noise was annoying, we were busying ourselves on our computers with the heater keeping us cosy. Just after dinner one of the guys, beverage in hand, strolled past our van towards the pay phone, but stopped in the middle of the road, apparently taking ‘Lake Leake’ a little too literally.

The hero of the house had just stepped outside and, feeling very protective of his bride who happened to notice what was occurring through the window, pointed out that there was a toilet just up the hill. He immediately realised the error of his way (i.e. making a comment to a drunk) but it was too late. Drunk dude took offense at someone ‘having a go’ at him. We quickly decided that the best case scenario would be that they would rock our roof once it got dark, and had no idea what the worst case scenario would be. Before long he returned to slowly walk past our van with his other mates, staring menacingly. Feeling quite intimidated, the hero of the house told his bride to call the police, while hurriedly putting kayaks on the roof and hooking up the van.

We pulled out just as they were returning from the direction of the pay phone, relieved to be on the move, but not sure if they would follow us, or if they were calling in reinforcements to meet us along the track. The turnoff from the highway was about 6kms away, and we thought we should wait for the police to explain what happened so they didn’t stop at other caravans and bring the wrath of the drunks onto innocent campers. We weren’t followed, the police woman was very understanding towards us, and we had a very restful sleep 30kms down the road at Campbell Town that night.

The toes held up admirably under the stress of packing up and driving (after having spent the previous four days up), but were still in no shape to be put in a boot. Pity, because by now the weather had cleared beautifully to cloudless blue skies…

We went to stay with some friends near Launceston on Sunday and did manage to make the most of the perfect afternoon by driving up Ben Lomond. The invalid hobbled around the village and sat in the car listening to the radio while the rest of us climbed to the summit.

By Monday evening the toes were beginning to get a different sort of pain, so we decided to go to the hospital and have it checked out to make sure it wasn’t getting infected. As we took off up the driveway the fan belt started screaming at us! Back down the driveway we went and jumped in our friends’ car and off again. A few hours later we arrived home with some antibiotics and instructions to go to the beach because paddling in sea water was going to be the best thing for it.

Our friend Deb was arriving on Wednesday, so we decided to slightly adjust our plans and head for Port Sorell. We can happily report that the fanbelt hasn’t even whispered since that night, we’ve had a few nice drives (including to Cradle Mountain), a lot of good food (afternoon tea at Anvers chocolate factory was a particular highlight), Deb’s tent didn’t leak even though we had torrential rain, there have been no drunks to pick a fight with, and the toe is healing well.

Stay tuned for our next adventures, which we are hoping will be a lot more boring and may even include a walk after next week!

Oh, and for the record, no edible fish were caught at Lake Leake, but there were no ‘pant related incidents’ either, so all in all, not a bad result.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Maria Island

Maria Island has been on our to-do list for a while. The walks we wanted to do would have been very hard to fit in with just a day trip on the ferry, so we decided it would be an overnight camp. Two days of sunny weather in a row is hard to plan for in Tassie, but we’ve been watching the weather carefully and made a ferry booking to go over on Thursday and come back Friday.

Thursday morning started off overcast as we began our hour and a half drive from Lake Leake to Triabunna. There were occasional peeks of sun through the clouds out to the east, and we were hopeful. It was a still morning and the ferry crossing was calm. The cloud seemed to thin as the day went on, and by mid afternoon it was lovely and sunny.

We set up camp, had lunch and wandered down to the Painted Cliffs. It was quite spectacular, but we wanted to hang around until the sun was lower in the sky and there were less shadows. As we were about to settle down for a nice sit-down for an hour or two the school group who were camped on the island began wandering down the beach for an afternoon of snorkelling and footy on the sand… we decided to walk a bit further down the track to find ourselves a quieter spot for the afternoon.

A couple of hours later we decided to have a look and see if the shadows had retreated – they had a little, but there were kids all in front of the cliffs – so much for photos! We dawdled along the beach back towards Darlington and at one point turned around and noticed that there seemed to be a general movement of kids around the cliffs. Sure enough, as we stood and watched they began to pack up and walk up the beach in small groups. We were in no rush to get back so one of us sat on the beach while the other took photos (what a surprise!) waiting for kids to catch up and pass us, then we wandered back down to the cliffs.

Unfortunately, by this time a bit of cloud had developed out to the west, and so the colours on the rocks weren’t as good as earlier. At least there were less shadows and the kids had gone.

Next morning the big walk was on the agenda – Bishop and Clerk, at about 600m elevation (and we were at sea level). We started off at a moderate pace, but he soon slowed down for photos, and then she slowed even further as the gradient grew steeper. It had been decided long ago that she has a small, old diesel engine that blows a lot of smoke going up hills, but put in first gear low range will eventually get to the top. She did eventually make it all the way to the top after a scramble up over some boulders that were almost as big as her dainty frame.

The views from the top were spectacular, but would have been even better with clear blue sky and less haze. Although it was windy at times on the way up it was lovely and calm at the top. Even though we didn’t get the photos we wanted (with clear blue sky in the background) we were thankful that it was fine and that the mountain wasn’t covered in cloud as it had been the previous afternoon.

On our way back to Darlington we did the loop via the Fossil Cliffs and some of the other historical sites on the island. It has a varied history – convicts, vineyards, cement factory – and this is reflected in the various buildings and ruins that remain. Although the history is interesting we take more pleasure in enjoying God’s creation – the stunning scenery, rock pools full of shells and different types of sea weed, the colour of the sun on the landscape at various times of the day, and the Cape Barren geese, wombats, wallabies and Tasmanian native hens that roamed around the camp ground.

Just as we were leaving the sun came out and the sky was blue… but the wind also came up! Let’s just say it wasn’t a pleasant ferry trip home, but no one lost their lunch.