A few weeks of “normal life”

In the two weeks since P and I got back to Sydney after bring in Fiji life has been pretty close to normal. I have been in the office (yay!), been for a bush walk, spent some time at site and dropped through Canberra, Cowra, Orange and the Blue Mtns. I suppose that makes life pretty good really!

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Jeusalem Bay walking with Mike

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Mike on Brooklyn Dam wall

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Cowra Japanese gardens

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Cowra Japanese gardens. I love the contrast of native and japanese plantings

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Orange, or blue

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Mum and Dad on our little walk

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Bungendore hills. I want to go to Wales!

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Fiji’s Yasawa Islands

So we’ve just spent an exciting week and a bit in Fiji where we’ve had the opportunity. To snorkel, sleep, hang out in hammocks, get to know the locals while waiting out a cyclone.

The plan was hatched less than two weeks ago, and thursday last week saw us booking a travel package through Awesome Adventures, a Fijian tour organiser who seem to have a bit of a monopoly on the Yasawa Islands that were to be our destination. The next day we were on a plane to Fiji and I can honestly say we had no idea what we were in for during the trip.

As it turned out what we could expect was sheer bloody luxury, with Mantaray Resort and Barefoot Resorts both offering the kind of accomodation that you see in brochures but assume doesn’t actually exist. To top it off each of those resorts had spectacular snorkeling opportunities with multiple reefs to snorkel and crystal clear waters.

Among the numerous sea creatures we’ve seen we can mention a few highlights that included sharks, sea horses, sting rays, cuttlefish, sea snakes and oh so many types of fishes. I took a good hour of video so keep an eye out for coming posts.

The highlight of the trip though has to have been Safe Landings resort. My initial feelings about the place were that it was a little daggy as the accomodation is pretty basic compared the the other resorts, and the generator doesn’t run at night so there are no fans to keep you cool during the hot tropical wet seasons nights! That said though, the people have been absolutely amazing. As we arrived at the resort it was announced that the boat back to the main land wouldn’t be running for a few days due to the cyclone that very very slow cut a swathe through the ocean in between Fiji and Vanuatu.  For us this meant no boats or seaplanes as the seas were way too rough, and that we’ve spent 4 nights chilling out here with ran and coolish breezes instead of the two nights we’d planned.
We’ve been incredibly luck to have been stuck with some absolutely people from around the world to keep us company. From coconut bowling to hiking to volleyball to snorkeling to village visits to rea and cake with the locals each afternoon we’ve been kept busy despite the winds and rough seas putting a stop to some other adventures.

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Malabar Snorkeling

It is not often that I start a weekend without plans, but this weekend was a great example of just how fun a weekend in Sydney can actually be. From a picnic at Black Wattle Bay watching the city lights reflect on the water on Friday night, through to snorkeling at Malabar (formerly Long Bay) on Sunday we had a most excellent weekend!

For anyone who hasn’t been snorkelling in Sydney let this be an inspiration to you, because the beaches, bays and harbours around Sydney are absolutely packed with fish, stingrays, octopus and a whole range of other exciting things.  If you’d like a little more inspiration here is a video of some of the cool stuff we saw!

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Wollangambe 2 Canyon

Sometimes you whimp out of adventures, sometimes you take risks you shouldn’t, but sometimes you make the right call and get that combination of factors that makes for an amazing day out. Yesterday was one such day as five friends and I headed down into the Wollangambe for the second of the two main lilo sections (Wollangambe 2), having down Wollangambe 1 late last year.

Friday had seen heavy rain through parts of the Blue Mountains and although not dramatic the river level was probably about 4cm higher than normal. 4cm doesn’t sound like much, but it was enough to speed up the flow of the river and submerge just a few extra rocks so that many of the rapids could be (somewhat) comfortably run without getting off our lilos. So after a rather late start we reached the Wollangambe, suited up and started making out way down the canyon with plenty of excitement.

Three of our party had never cannoned before and had bought some less than durable lilos for the trip so as we floated, scrambled, jumped and swam our way down the canyon, not only was the the usual excitement of falling off, trying to stay warm and wondering if that ominous rumbling from the sky was coming your way, but we kept tabs as lilos became 5 and then 4. Kudos to the guys for sharing lilos and then swimming the last section of with their rather disposable lilos!

Anyway we reached the canyon just as the rain and thunder became more than just a slight concern and made our way up, and up, and up towards the cars!

Thanks everyone for joining me!

 

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Geronimo and Horseshoe Canyons

On Sunday I had the pleasure of joining Tom and a troop of six other SBW members on a pleasant and most enjoyable 11hr canyoning trip through Geronimo and Horseshoe Canyons in the Blue Mountains.

It was a rough start to get to the canyon on time after a last minute discovery that the gate to Euroka Campground doesn’t open until after 7:30am. Arriving at the canyon meeting point 20 minutes late prompted a very brisk walk down to meet the rest of the group at the Pagoda before Wollangambe 1 entrance. After joining the group we all continued down to the Wollangambe River and back up the other side towards the canyon entrance. Tom’s expert navigation meant that could just enjoy the walk and lament the lack of coffee that morning.

Anyway we were soon in the creek and preparing for our adventure by donning our wetsuits and harnesses. Given the warm weather, and my intentions to experiment with canyoning I had chosen to wear my exciting multicoloured thermals and a thin weskit top instead of the heavy weight wetsuits I normally wear. At the start of the day this was a a great idea as the canyon was relatively dry and the sun was out, but as the day cooled down the clouds came out I started to fill the chill and by the end of the day in Horseshoe Canyon I was well and truly cold. Anyone who notice how grumpy I was I apologise!

Anyway here is a selection of photos. I had actually taken my nice new helmet cam through the canyon but the outcome and photos were rather disappointing so here is the limited selection that seemed to work. For more photos see Tom’s Post on OzUltimate

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27hrs without technology, and cycling a lot of hills.

I’m not normally one to go anywhere without gathering photographic evidence and a whole lot of gadgets to keep me entertained, but this weekend I decided I needed a bit of a detox as it were and decided to head out for a bit of a cycle to try and prove my legs still worked and to return myself to a slightly more normal state.  Now for the very astute among you an observation could be made that it is only half way through a long weekend in Australia, but as my story will fail to justify I’m back on my way home. Continue reading

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A rainy Sunday walk

Sometimes a rainy day walks turns out to be awesome.  I have to admit that last Sunday I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I did and caught my ferry across to Taronga before walking very slowly around to Balmoral.

Twas pretty sweet seeing scrub turkeys and water dragons within view of the Sydney CBD.

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Playing it Safe

Having a large group of outdoorsy friends is an interesting lifestyle. With friends outside my outdoorsy life decisions on when events should go ahead are pretty arbitrary – things like was it a stressful week and do I feel like talking to “X” today. In my outdoorsy friend group the discussions and decision are generally based on much more prosaic things – do I think it will be safe, do I have access the right gear or what party size am I comfortable with?

This is I feel is a great compliment to my friends as these are all phenomenally important questions.

All the time I read about people who do things that I would consider crazy. When ever I think about people who are under prepared I think of the french guy we met once in Scotsdale (Tasmania) who had arrived in the country, made a trip to target and bought a bicycle and camping gear and set off to ride around Tassie. Now in hindsight I admire him in many ways for having the guts to arrive in another country and just run with it, but at the time the only thing I could possibly think of was that the chap was going to die. I mean really, he had a 65litre backpack full of gear he so clearly didn’t know how to use that it took him over an hour to set up a really basic dome tent.

As my thoughts move on to people more prepared but still crazy my thoughts move to a slightly over-confident man I met in Papunya who was planning on riding to Port Headland in Western Australia via the back tracks, and believe me I mean back tracks! I never heard anything more about the guy on the news, which I can only take to mean he survived (or was never missed) but he had 25 litres of water on the bike so there was a chance he’d make it.

So as this weekend came around and the weather forecast turned from damp to thundery, and the BOM flood watch site showed there being 40mm of rain in an hour during one of the storm session near were we had planned canyoning my thoughts turned to safety and whether I felt like risking flash-flooding. You might be able to guess that the answer was no so I spent today reading a book instead.

That said I know a fair few canyoners who did head out today despite to forecast, and until 6pm there really wasn’t much rain so I am sure they all made it out safely, so what is the difference in thought processes between us? I am sure my mum approves of my playing it safe, and I am sure playing it safe is why I and all my friends are still here to write blogs and consider such adventures but it is interesting to consider the risks and what it is that clicks in the back of our brains somewhere to say “hmmm, perhaps wait for another day”.

Anyway, no really point to this rant except to let my mum know I am being sensible(-ish) and maybe give you a clue why there aren’t any pretty pictures today!

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2015 – It’s off to a good start

So 2015 is here. No matter that when ever I read it in my head I say 2005, no matter that today is 5/1/15 and I got a little bit excited, the important thing is that this is a new year were new things can happen and probably will. As anyone who has been following the blog would have read last year was a jam packed year with adventures to NZ, a big move back to Sydney and a whole lot of non-cycling related adventures. I don’t really have many goals for 2015 just yet but I have a strong suspicion that a decently big cycle tour might be squeezed in there somewhere. If anyone has polite suggestions of where I should go please feel free to contribute, however for now I think the leading contender is the back roads of Iceland.

Anyway, with a new year comes other new things. The first is a little bit of digital wizardry called a VIRB, which is a nifty little sports cam I have purchased and will be playing with over the coming year. To match this new technology I am going to be trying out a few little upgrades to the blog to make it keep up with the times. So here is my first attempt at a time lapse video as recorded on my new VIRB. I apologise in advance because, well, lets just say it is a little rough around the edges!

You can also have some photos from my Christmas holiday because the 5,300 of you who looked at my blog last year have been so good that you deserve more!

 

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Year in review. ..

Well it is 2015 now. It only seems like a month or two ago I spent NYE 13-14 in a cavers hut in NZ after a day of blackwater rafting. A memory-blurred few weeks ago seems to take me back to camping out in the Namadgee national park near Canberra following one of the hardest rides I have ever done over the NYE 12-13. So with a little reflection on board here are a few favourite photos from my year. image

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image Thanks everyone for dropping in again and I hope we can share some adventures over the coming year! Oh yeah, and here are some photos from today! image image

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