Stromatolites and Pinacles

This weekend I had some spare time to fill in Western Australia so I thought I would take a little drive and check out some of the amazing natural phenomena that abound the ‘Coral Coast’ as this area has been dubbed. With a massively long coastline with warm tropical waters flowing down from the northern Indian Ocean there is a massive variety of sea life including whales (in season), sea lions and so many varieties of sea grass that the coast line is quite putridly fascinating.

So, what is it that I actually went to see? Well an example of the oldest type of living creatures of the world (well slime) which despite being more then 1, 300 million years old can actually be found in quite a few locations around Australia and the world. In one of my little nerding out periods it is interesting to know that Stromatolites and Thromatolites (their very close relative) are communities of bacteria that form large accretions which over time become large rock like structures. These living fossils really don’t look exciting, but when you consider almost identical fossils are the oldest known fossils that is cool.

 

The second part of my adventure was to visit the Pinnacles, which are fascinating limestone structures sticking out of the sand in a desert like part of the coastline. The pinnacles can be best describes as stalamites that have formed in rock by limestone perculating through fissures instead of through the conventional dripping process. But that is enough science I think.

SBW Training Walk – Lawson Ridge

I spent this weekend on my second Sydney Bush Walkers walk. The training walk was designed to give new bushwalkers an introduction to the wide range of skills necessary to hike around the country. Covering navigation, bushcraft and first aid the whole gambit of other things our instructor Brendon covered the basics of well everything and I was quite happy wandering along for the adventure and getting back into swing of off-track bushwalking. I have to admit that although I consider myself to be reasonably fit I was struggling with the pace of the group up some of the rather hilly hills we climbed.

Bluebird snowshoe wonderment!

Glistening fields of snow, icey cornices hundreds of meters long near the peak of Australia’s tallest mountain, camping on snow with mountains and granite the only things in sight and walking across the snow river. This weekend was excellent in a way that I can only struggle to describe.

Early on Saturday I awoke to the dulcet tones of my alarm phone, quickly joined by the sound of my cousins dog wanting desperately to take its place in the bed I was about the vacate (that dog is a firm believer in energy efficiency). The early morning gremlins tried to convince me that after water bottle leaks, missing gear and generally shambolic packing methods the night before – going snowshoeing for the weekend wasn’t a good idea. Luckily common sense vacated the area and I picked up my gear and waited patiently for my lift to arrive. Nicole, Ellen and I were heading up into the backcountry near Mt Kosciusko to explore the snow fields before they melted and hiking started to resemble hard work.

Tumbling into the car I resumed my stupor until coffee made its way I to my blood stream somewhere near Thredbo. After much consultation on the various merits of thermals, ski pants, shorts and over pants our little gang was permitted upon the suspended skyward chariots that form the Kosciusko Express and found ourselves deposited at Thredbo Topstation with almost as much ceremony as the unveiling of my goggles.

From there we marched upwards. Not that Nicole (who loves going up hill) forced us to march for more than the 35 minutes. Why 35 minutes? Lunch! This walk was to become the sort of adventure I love where food takes priority  over walking.

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Anyway as we regained our body temperature after a long break we made our way through the pass and saw our first goal in the distance, the precipit-less Mt Kosciusko.  The peak itself is not deserving of the term, but it is put on a great display with a massive cornice and spectacular ice formations on the summit.

On the peak we were told that the trail we’d intended taking towards Seamans Hut was getting a bit sloppy as the late season snow started to melt. This advice turned out to be the best we could have received as we turned away from the snow poles and up onto the ridgeline where few other people had been recently. Away from the touristy tracks the snow was crisp and clear of tracks and before long we found ourselves a campsite on the ridge too good to pass up so we set up our tents, gawked at the astounding beauty of the location we were to call home for the night and before long found ourselves waist deep in the snow with shovels and saws in an impromptu igloo making lesson before retiring very early to bed.

The morning brought even more outdoor bliss as the clear blue skies continued and the chilly temperatures overnight had refrozen all the snow that had started to melt the night before. So, after a morning so luxurious we almost forgot we had to go anywhere, we traipsed down the off the ridge and across the snowy river (we assume. It wasn’t quite clear where it was) and up a hill. Well a big hill. Well up onto the Ramshead Range. Anyway we had lunch on a hill and then made our way back to Thredbo circuitously along the flattest but possible least direct route available.

Kingscote, nearly done…

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I haven’t put up an update on the trip because it has been rather busy and reception free, but I’m chilling this afternoon in Kingscote so here is a pvot fron the beach. Three more part days of riding and I will be back in the big smoke for a while. Can’t say I’m particularly looking forward to it!