2015 – variable with a hint of nuts

What a year… I mean really… What a year!

There hasn’t been anything that has happened this year that I really expected, or planned to happen when I was thinking about what 2015 was going to hold in store. It has been a year of epic changes in life and circumstances. They’ve been almost entirely self instigated, and generally speaking I didn’t really consider the consequences of the decisions and actions I have made in advance which may in hindsight have been a mistake but that is what happens sometimes I guess.

Looking briefly ahead it seems as though 2016 may have to be a more responsible and considered year, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be lots of adventures and good times so I think I will be able to manage this. I certainly hope I will be able to.

So onto the potted summary of 2015…

To make it easier I have added a favourite photo (not the best but my favourite) from each month, and have linked each photo to a blog post I didn’t dislike.

January to March

I pretended to have a normal life, with a job, a house, a girlfriend and very occasionally a social life.

I went for some rides, a few short walks, snorkeled and did quite a few canyons. Oh and I went to Fiji!

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January – a very wet walk on Middle Head

Canyoning can be so much hard work, especially waiting around while people try to repair their lilos.

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March – Fiji and cyclones

 April to May

I stopped pretending to have a normal life, planned to go on an adventure and spent a fair bit of time in Western Australia. Continue reading

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

Tasmania – Port Arthur, Cape Huay and sinking boats

Last week my partner and I had the pleasure of visiting the lovely verdant Tasmania. Now all of you fellow Aussie out there are probably thinking why on oath would go to Tassie in the middle of bloody winter*. I could tell you that it is because of our love all things winter, or that we wanted to experience what cold actually is, or even that we really wanted to see the Cadbury factory, but in truth we went because we were luck enough to win flights from the Tassie Government “Cheeky Seats Giveaway“. This awesome campaign, with an equally awesome logo, gave us return flights to the Hobart on the proviso that we spent our tourist dollars in the relatively cash poor economy**.

Well what could we do by comply. I won’t bore you with the details of the trip except to say that you should ALL go to MONA and watch the video of two men puttering around a Loch in Scotland in a wood fired steam boat, using the boat itself as fuel!

*******  Not Details of the Trip – Start *******

Actually I will give you some details because otherwise the photos below won’t make much sense.

After spending our first day in Tassie relaxing, the second day was spent at MONA looking at some really amazing art, much of which I don’t even pretend to understand. I was impressed by the amount of interested (ready nerdy engineering) art that was there including the afore-mentioned boat, a great video of a remote control helicopter in a box, and an amazing whole of room projection showing lots of data about the galaxy as exported from somewhere that is home to smart people.  I don’t know if I can explain it in any useful way, it is quite amazing to walk around a room that strongly resembles the matrix.

Following my enlightenment at MONA we went out to Port Arthur to get some history and nature into our trip as well. Port Arthur itself is home to some amazing elements of Australian history, from early whaling and convict settlements right through the modern times with bush fires and the massacre. What really made the visit though was doing the ghost tour after dark. The passion and story-telling of the guide made it a night to remember, I don’t think I have ever jumped as much when a door slammed on queue!

From here it was off to Cape Huay and the tallest sea cliffs in the world. Growing up in Sydney, and having spent a fair bit of time on the various head lands and cliffs that bless the east coast generally I thought I was pretty well on top of how tall cliffs along the ocean could be. These sea cliffs are something else entirely!

Formed from dolomite the cliffs are sheer, angular and incredibly tall making for dramatic scenery unlike anything I’d ever seen before. To see the best of the best, and in the hope of seeing the famous Totem Pole we made our way to Fortescue Bay in the Tasman National Park and went for a stroll for a few hours our to Cape Huay. The well-formed track  took about 2.5 hours of walking to reach the cape and passed through some beautiful eucalypt forest as well as Tasmanian coastal heath zones.

Once we were the we were greeted with spectacular views, massive cliffs, tea and rainbows.

*******  Not Details of the Trip – End *******

Hope you enjoyed the photos, and not being given details of the trip!

 

* The British among your are probably thinking 8 degrees, is positively balmy still!

** The Tassie economy possibly being weak because they export delicious products like cheese, salmon, apples and seaweed instead of coal.

Practicing for Cold Rides!

Now that I live in Sydney cold weather is even more of a novelty than it was in Alice Springs. Today is a full month into winter and I am walking around town in shorts and tee-shirt because it is so warm. Now that I own an ECR I am on a mission though. These bikes were made for snow and slush and mud and all things fun.
I recently found mud of a satisfying depth and consistency while riding around Sparrow Hill and Canberra. That leaves snow.

With that in mind, I am went up to the Blue Mountains today for a practice ride with my fully loaded Surly.

The gear packed on the bike included:

  • Snow gloves (which I wore some of the time to see how easy it was to shift gears)
  • down vest
  • rain gear
  • extra thermals etc
  • 3.5 litres of water
  • stove and gas canister
  • tools
  • GPS
  • Food!
  • lots of Bike Bag Dude bags
  • k-lite dynamo lights

All in all I am pretty impressed by the amount of stuff I could fit on the bike without even trying to be efficient. I can see that with a bike seat bag or a bag on the back rack I could easily head out for a night or two without adding to much extra bulk or impacting the handling.

So…. The ride!

I had been reading the forecast all day yesterday and this morning and new that the weather had a strong potential to be miserable, which was exactly what I wanted. Unfortunately when I got to Faulconbridge in the lower Blue Mountains there was nary a cloud in sight, and the sun was bleating down.

So I loaded up and off I went along the lovely fire trail I had found described on the NSW Mtb forum last night. It was almost as flat as described, and gave me a good chance to play with the loaded bike. Just like my Long Haul Trucker the bike feels more stable and fun once it has a bit of load on it, and I couldn’t resist riding over every sand patch on the trail just to see if I could make the thing wobble. I couldn’t!

As I reached the point of the ridge, and the nice little lookout situated there, the wind dropped, the sun came out and everything was just spiffy for a spot of lunch and some chill time. Riding back to the car the wind picked up and the clouds came out. Looks like  picked my window perfectly if I hadn’t have been looking for the bad weather!

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SBW Abseil and Explorer Days

I’ve recently started getting involved with the Sydney Bush Walkers group as a way to extend my adventures in and around Sydney. SBW as it shall hereafter be referred to is quite an amazing club for the diversity of its membership, and the openness it appears to have regarding its experience. I haven’t been to many things yet other than a few social nights and the two single day activities listed below, but everyone has been extremely welcoming and willing to share their experiences. So for anyone wishing to get involved in outdoors adventures look up the website, alternatively just read the following….

Abseil Beginners Day

I am not a beginner when it comes to abseiling, or other rock sports for that matter, but I went along to the SBW introduction to abseil day a week or so ago to check it out and spend some time on ropes after a fairly long period of boring-ness.

The course was excellently run, though why they encourage people to use figure-8 descenders I still can’t fathom. Anyway it was great to watch the way the instructor (Tom) and the co-awesome people who helped (Terry and Sue) introduced everyone progressively and safely without getting bogged down in the nitty-gritty detail or scaring anyone. As it turned out I did remember what to do, could play around enough to readjust to using a rap rack etc. Happy days!

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Garigal National Park Exploration

Today’s adventure was all together different. As part of qualifying to become a full member of SBW you have to do a certain number of walks consisting of off track walking. Today I joined an “exploration walk” which was planned as follows. Pick a national park, pick a car park, find a point on the other side of the park, get there via the wettest least direct path possible.

Now Garigal National Park is a coastal national park not far from the beach, and is the kind of place that experience lots of weather including wind and rain, so the natural environment includes a lot of water down low, and tough wind swept scrub up high. Basically it was a most excellent day, that involved getting mud, leeches, scratches and all things good.

A big thank you to Shahram for being our intrepid leader and navigator! I look forward to many more walks exploring, ambling and squelching through national parks!

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Sunset on Alice Springs

Tomorrow is my last day in Alice Springs. As it turns out the world around me wanted to say goodbye on Wednesday by offering an amazing day of rain followed by on of the best sunsets I have ever seen, and living out here that is a big call.

Sitting at the first saddle of the Mt Gillen walk I was treated to rainbows, glowing mountains in the distance, golden valleys and red red rocks at the sunset around me.

Thanks Alice Springs. You’ve been amazing!

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Palm Valley

Yesterday I had a mid-week adventure to rival all others. Central Australia has received vast amounts of rain recently (20-60mm) and as a result all of the gorges have been filling up, and as anyone who has been following the blog would know I have been making the most of it!

Yesterday’s mid week adventure was to Palm Valley, an isolated valley full of cycads and palm trees an hour and a half from Alice Springs. Normally dry, our experience of the valley required wading through water holes and rock hoping around others. The creeks are full of tadpoles, frogs and fish. The air was full of cicadas and dragonflies, and generally it was a pretty amazing day.

New Zealand South Island

The South Island of NZ is so different to the North that it is almost hard to fathom. The North was almost like Australia with rolling hills and green among the odd patch of golden paddock and a surprising number of gumtrees.

The South Island is tall! It has mountains, those things they tell you about as a kid growing up in Australia but never quite develop an understanding of living in a country were things just aren’t tall.

Anyway out itinerary for the South Island was pretty packed and as it turned out pretty limited. There is just so much to see that in the 9 days available we saw some of what we assumed were going to be the highlights and some other places that actually were.

For those interested it is well worth looking into the DOC (department of conservation) campsites on the south island because not only are they amazing but they are almost all near water and close to some point of interest you’d want to stop at anyway. We picked up one of their free maps and put it to very good use!

Our itinerary was something like this.

Christchurch – Akaroa – Mt Cook –  Queenstown – Milford Sound – Wanaka – Franz Joseph – Greymouth – Arthurs Pass – Christchurch.

You can guess that there could be a whole lot more detail included in that but I don’t want to use words when there are photos to be seen.

New Zealand North Island

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Hi Everyone!

Welcome to our photo collection from the North Island of New Zealand. Over the two and a half weeks we were in NZ we took about 1700 photos so you’ll only be getting a snap shot of the trip, but I’ve picked out some of the good ones for a little selection of highlights. There are so many more, some of them even good, but here are some favourites.

For anyone who likes words as well as photos the itinerary for our trip was roughly as follows:

  1. Auckland and Mt Eden
  2. Waitomo Caves
  3. Waitomo and drive to Taupo
  4. Taupo, kayaking and fairy garden then drive to Rotorua
  5. Rafting and louge in Rotorua
  6. Geyser, hot springs, Cultural show
  7. Drive to Bay of Islands
  8. Dolphin watching tour
  9. Drive back to Auckland

Happy Christmas to you and me!

Hi All,

The blog has been a little quiet for the past few months, but it is Christmas time and I thought it time to join the cheeriness. So have two photos! One in my christmas present to myself for the next few years, the other is a strange likeness of me that I just happened to find on the internet!

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