Planning a new style of Adventure


I have bushwalked, cycle toured, canyoned, canoe toured, lived out of a 4WD and a whole lot of other things but this January I have committed myself to a new style of adventure. It isn’t new technique-wise but this adventure means gear weight and equipment generally will be more of a consideration than my previous trips. What am I do? I am going to walk a section of the Te Araroa!

The section I have selected to do is at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, from Ship Cove to St Arnaud.

Now the walking doesn’t inherently worry me, nor does 18 days tramping by myself (though if anyone wants to come you are more than welcome to join me!)

What worries me is the fatigue of carrying a pack and knowing that weight will have a significant impact on how my body handles a long walk, and then combining that with the fact that New Zealand’s weather is notoriously variable and wet. I think basically my inner gear freak is having a field day worrying about what gear to carry!

I am torn between taking a tarp, bivvy and bug net or a small one man tent (which I don’t own currently).

I am sure I will write more on this, but any thoughts or ideas would be more than welcome!



Corang Peak – Burrumbeet – Corang Lagoon

Canberrans are lucky enough to have two long weekends in a row over the end of September start of October. For the Family and Communities Day weekend Alex, Rose and I decided to head out into the Budawangs for a Bushwalk. Originally we’d planned on heading into the eastern side of the Budawangs but luckily laziness intervened when I decided I couldn’t be bothered leaving on Friday night, or even particularly early on Saturday. As a result we headed to Wog Wog camping area early on Saturday morning (via the Braidwood bakery) packed for a 3 day walk.

The walk we’d chosen was described in a few blog posts but didn’t seem to be in anything  more formal. Heading out Wog Wog we aimed to climb Corang Peak, check out Corang Arch, camp at Burumbeet and then find a way through to Corang Lagoon which was described as having  a vague and difficult to follow foot pad before heading back to the car.

From the car park the track crossed a small stream (where Rose got her new shoes wet for the first time) and started the leisurely stroll along ridge lines. Our path took us around the south of Goodsell Basin, along the edge of Korra Hill and then to Corang Peak. We initially missed the turn that would have lead straight over the Peak, instead walking past to the junction and then heading back up without packs.

Following a little bit of a photo session at the top we headed off towards Corang Arch and then the Conglomerate Slope. Somehow we managed to miss the Arch itself, I guess that will have to be an adventure for next time, but had a great time wandering down the fun and fascinating rock formation to the bottom of the hill. Alex did a great job with a tricky decent which she never particularly enjoys.

At the bottom of the hill we found a large group of some what elderly bushwalkers set up at the Canowrie Brook campsites. Luckily we were headed to Burrumbeet Brook with its camp caves and drop toilets. The girls hadn’t quite believed me when I said we were going to be sleeping in a rock overhang without tents – luckily once we’d picked a spot they were more than just a little excited.

The next morning after a lovely nights sleep, a few minor wildlife sightings and such we wandered back to Canowrie Brook and then we’re pleasantly surprised to find a well formed footpad heading in the direction we wanted to go. This footpad, marked by cairns and pink spray paint, lead all the way to the Rock Ribs and then on to Corang Lagoon.

The Rock Ribs were spectacular, though the walk back out was similar to a canyon exit really.


The Rock Ribs!

Corang Lagoon was astonishingly beautiful, and luckily it was our campsite for the night. A brief storm and showers didn’t stop Alex and I going for a swim, but did almost drown the tent .

Our final day should have been a fairly leisurely stroll out along a well formed track, but about half way I decided to walk up a hill and we ended up somewhat off track which was an excellent idea as we came across a whole series of extremely large pagodas to explore with some absolutely stunning views!

Once back at the car we headed to the Braidwood Bakery again for a snack before finishing the drive home.

Rams Head Snowshoe Trip

On Saturday Tol (of SmilingLeaf fame) and I headed into the Snow for an end of season adventure. Her amazing write up of our adventure – with awesome photos of yours truly can be found below!



Reunited with my outdoors buddy the Graceful Cyclist, after too many months apart, we headed to the Snowys. My plan for months had been to do an overnight snowshoe trip. However, the forecast for t…

Source: Rams Head Snowshoe Trip

Blue Lake Adventures


Last week three mates and I headed out to Blue Lake in Kosciusko National Park for a five days of snowshoeing, igloo building, relaxation and for Dom and Stu some ice climbing.

The trip was dreamed up during our Davies Canyon trip in January and as we all now hail from very different parts of the country there was a huge volume of messages shared in the planning and lead up to departure. However Friday night arrived and after dinner and drinks with friends I went home, loaded the car and waited for Dom and Stu to arrive from Sydney.

Saturday morning we were up at five and on our way to the snow. We picked up Josh from the bus station just after six and had a very leisurely trip down to Guthega with stops in Cooma for fuel and second breakfast and then Jindabyne for all the gear everyone had forgotten.

We eventually made it to Guthega at about 11:30 and started walking at about 12. The walk in to Blue Lake is generally upwards once you’ve crossed the swinging bridge but firm snow with a slightly icey crust actually made for fairly quick travel and we had selected a campsite but just after 4. An hour or so of digging had the platforms dug and tents set up in time for an early night. With bad weather forecast for Monday we knew we’d need to secure the camp pretty well on Sunday to get ready.

Waking up Josh and Dom generally got ready before heading of  to do some ice climbing while Stu and I spent the day building snow walls to shelter the campsite and building what was planned to be an igloo but ended up as more of a coracle. It snowed gently on and off through the day (the snow was in frequent, the wind was not) but by 5pm we’d set up a substantial snow kitchen for the evening and were pretty much knackered.

On Monday morning the weather arrived. Rain and wet snow were omnipresent and the day was pretty much tent bound as we tried to stay warm and dry despite the elements. The wind was an advantage as it meant we could actually cook in our vestibules with great care, but at various points during the day when the snow got heavier we took turns in digging out the tent on a half hourly basis.

During the evening the winds dropped, and then the temperature plummeted so that we didn’t have to dig out the tent, but we did have stiff frozen jackets in the morning!


The walk out was spectacular as the skies cleared and we ended up back in just thermals on the walk out.

All in all a spectacular and somewhat character building trip.

Camping in a 20hr weather window

The past few weeks have had some pretty unenjoyable weather, plenty of which was a strong incentive to stay warm on the couch but some friends and I had booked a camping trip and the forecast showed a window of reasonable weather in between maximums of 8 degrees with rain.
So, despite some reservations we went. And it was brilliant.

Sure the gale force wind was around until sunset Saturday and picked up again at lunchtime in Sunday but the bit in between was clear skies, sunshine and a lovely fire.

We’d managed to track down a camp oven so we packed a slab of beef for roasting plus so veggies and port. It turned out to be an excellent decision. 

In the morning we cooked bacon, eggs, toast and pancakes then went for a stroll down the Shoalhaven River and found a large amount of ice and sunshine.

Budawangs Hike:Monolith Valley and The Castle

Last weekend was the long weekend in NSW and the ACT so a group mates from high school and I decided we would head out on adventure. Despite my many years of sporadic hiking and adventures I had never made it out there before so this was set to be a great weekend.

The week prior to out adventures an east coast low had absolutely smashed the area, which was evident from flood debris lodged six metres up in trees here and there.

Anyway a rushed packing session on Friday afternoon saw me arriving at Long Gully Campground at around 11pm and I crashed in a heap to be woken at 1am by the arrival of Mike, Dom and Tim who took great care to wake me up. Thanks guys….

The hike was based on a walk described in Tyrone Thomas’ book 70n Walks in Southern NSW and A.C.T. which does an excellent job of setting out the route and points to watch out for in navigating so I won’t bother going into details. The one point I would make is that for people like me who like to sleep in, take breaks and enjoy the scenery the described two days in a full day to short.

So key points of the hike:

  • The views are more spectacular than you can possibly imagine…
  • There are hills, climbs and there is no flat ground.
  • The navigation is surprisingly tricky, there are formed tracks in places, a lot of cairns in others, but there are a some sections  (particularly off Mt Owen returning to Monolith Valley) which require very careful attention to the track description.
  • Some of the climbs are exposed (particularly on The Castle)

Rogaine Flag Collection

On Saturday I headed back out to the site of my recent rogaine to collect some of the flags still hanging out after the event. I was tasked with collecting 11 of the high scoring controls on the eastern edge of the course, which meant there were going to be hills as I skirted the edge of the escarpment.

After a late start (again) I set out across the grass plains, up the hills, down the gullies and generally where ever the map said I should go. Prior to the event I had preprogrammed the co-ordinates of each of the controls into my Garmin watch which meant that I could spend a lot of the day not counting steps and just using a compass for direction, and the watch for proximity which was very very handy.

Anyway it was a big day, but was rewarded with an awesome sunset and sunrise in my comfy little campsite. In fact the sunrise views from my hammock were simply spectacular.

ACT Rogaining Champs – A leisurely stroll

So this weekend I joined two new friends from the ANU Mountaineering Club (ANUMC) for the 8 hour category of the ACT Rogaining Association’s annual championships. For a little bit of background, I have moved to Canberra since my last post a few months ago and am now in the process of setting up life in a new city so everything has been a little slow on the adventure front.

But back to the main story. Following a few facebook messages I met my new team mates at 6:45am on Saturday morning after a late night feeling very very disorganised. Mel and Izzy rocked up and off we set, with confidence someone had the directions and we’d make it there with plenty of time. As it turns out we weren’t doing the best job of paying attention and I missed two or three turn-offs trying to get out of Canberra. However we got there, and immediately Mel starting picking out other ANUMC people to introduce and chat to while we checked out the maps.

The team wasn’t planning on taking it to hard, in fact Izzy was on her first  rogaine and off track bushwalk so we spent the first few hours of the adventure explaining carefully how to navigate, what we we’re looking at and getting very very confused about whether we should be looking for a gully or a spur.

The event provided a perfect route for a leisurely 8hr stroll and navigation lesson. Despite a few scratchy sections of scrub, some very wet feet in the many creek crossings and swamp sections, and some breaks in lovely sunny glades we made good time and worked really well as a team.


The start crowd. All of these people are planning and wandering around the bush for 8-24hrs. Impressive hey?


Izzy’s first ever control! Well done team!


The sunset was pretty amazing. I am keen to go and check out Deua National Park again sometime soon!


Undergrowth! The choice between thick undergrowth or swamp made for slow growing sometimes


Lights on. Eyes protected.


20metres from the Hash House. Not a nice final moment, but Izzy smiled the whole way!


Weather for Canyoners


 Disclaimer: Make your own decisions when you’re deciding whether to head out on a trip. There are so many more factors than just these to consider!

Sydney has been wet recently. I mean really wet. I mean crazy thunderstorms dumping 30-90mm of rain in an hour wet. With all of this weather the facebook group OzCanyons has been buzzing with discussions about whether it is safe to canyon and what canyons are best. While I can’t help with that info – as a few people like Tom mentioned it really is a decision for the group to make based on experience – I thought I would share a few thoughts on weather resources to help make decisions about whether or not to head out. Like all meteorological discussions remember that ‘the forecast is always correct, just a day or month out’ so take everything with a grain of salt and remember there is no substitute for knowledge or experience.

In summary my process for making a decisions would be the dot points below – the rest of the post will explain some of the resources I use in consideration.

  • Check the forecast –if it is crazy I’ll call it.
  • Check the radar – because I like the image and it is useful (but only at the last minute I guess)
  • Check recent weather data – work out what has been happening recently in the area I am going to – if there has been a lot of rain or storms recently I’ll make a call.
  • Check individual rain gauge data – because the popular weather stations aren’t always close by.
  • Check the forecast maps and forecasts again with the background knowledge of what conditions are likely to be at the moment.
  • If I still haven’t made a decision – check with an expert (like the OzCanyons Crew)

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Davies Canyon

Davies Canyon is located deep in the Kanangra Boyd National Park a few hours west of Sydney. Hard to access, hard to do, and exceedingly hard to walk out of it isn’t a canyon to be undertaken lightly. It is easily the hardest canyon any of us had ever done.

Setting out at 7am Dom, Josh and I walked out along the Thurat Tops Plateau and followed the ridge out to the turn off described in the OzUltimate guide. Walking along the ridges was fairly easy but as soon as we started our descent into Sally Camp Creek the steep shale slope made going hard, and the chance of falling and damaging an ankle feel ever present. As it had rain a lot in the past week we knew the water levels were going to be fairly high, but hearing the river from a few hundred meters above the valley floor gave us some reason to be concerned.




As it turned out the water level was only an inch or two above the normal water line (based on moss and Creek algae guesses) and we decided to head on down through the canyon. The canyon is hard, I might have mentioned that already but was we passed through we encountered the most exposed canyon abseil I’ve ever done suspended from a narrow arete to the side of a massive waterfall and another shorter abseil were the anchor sling was set inside a small torrent of water!

Abseil 1. Photo by Dom

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