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.

Hill End, Katoomba and other places

I was lucky enough to spend last week out at Hill End, a small historic town about an hour out of Bathurst, which is about 2.5hrs out of Sydney, which is about 20 hours out of somewhere else.

The week itself requires very little explanation because it was just a splendid time of awesomeness, chilling, delicious food, and general niceness. So given I don’t intend to say much more than that I’d like to share some photos of places these lovely places. Oh and go there!

Awesome Magazine – Bunyan Velo

Bunyan Velo

This new web-based magazine is officially the best magazine there is. Quite simply, the photography is amazing, and trips are inspiring, and it is now a life goal to have an article worth of submission for an edition.

Enjoy it people!

http://bunyanvelo.com/

p.s. I’ve set up a feed for their posts at the bottom of the page, so keep an eye out.

Ormiston Gorge Day Out

All photos courtesy of the lovely Josie.

Guest Cooking Posts

Hi Guys!

As many of you know I like to cook, almost as much as I like to eat in fact! A good friend (with whom I have shared many cups of delicious tea) has started up a cooking blog called Caitlicious Cooking.

So in the theme of sharing I am going to be adding some of my favourite recipes to the site. I will be adding lots of dairy free recipes that I have worked out over time, as well as recipes that are just awesome.

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Drunken Devonshire Pasties

So awesome. Three types of stout went into these!

The most delicious pasties around.

The most delicious pasties around.

So we did make these up as we went along, but roughly the process was…

  1. Slow cook 6 lamb shanks in a mix of Amber Ale and Stout for 4 hours. We used 1x Squires Amber Ale and 1/3 of a Kilkenny at this stage. We recommend testing the mix of beers prior to adding to the shanks.
  2. Make a sour-cream based semi-short pastry, about 3-4 cups of flour worth.
  3. Remove lamb meat from shank. Add remaining Kilkenny, 6 potatoes, and 1 bottle of dark stout (Paddy’stout from Ireland). Transfer mixture to a pressure cooked for 30 minutes.
  4. Eat remaining meat off the lamb shanks in a way reminiscent of Neanderthals.
  5. Cut pastry into four lots, roll each one out and layer as per puff pastry using olive oil and spices to layers. Return to fridge.
  6. Steam carrots, swede, fennel, turnip until cooked. Transfer to a bowl and then season and butter to taste.
  7. Shred pressure cooked lamb and potatoes muscle strands are broken down.
  8. Eat remaining meat of any remaining lamb shanks. Test all products thoroughly.
  9. Assemble pasties.
  10. Bake at 180C until delicious.

Simpsons Gap Evening with Gregor and Mikey

Simpsons Gap from a distance.

Gregor walking down the river bed under the branches of a river red gum.

A Black Footed Wallaby through the trees at Simpsons Gap.

This wallaby decided to give us an example of how it climbs.

The Pinnacle at Simpsons Gap.

Mikey my fellow photographer.

The waterhole at Simpsons Gap still has water in it 8 months after the last decent rain.

The colour of the pinnacle at Simpsons Gap is amazing as the sunsets. It is impossible to do the view justice.

The view of the West MacDonnell Ranges through the trees.

What is there to say?

Chilling at Simpson Gap car park having a drink before dinner.

Stradbroke Island Cycling

On Sunday we braved the early morning cold and got up at 6am for an adventure out to North Stradbroke Island, the largest of the many islands which form the barrier between Moreton Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The crisp morning air demanded jumpers to be worn with our shorts so it was hard to raise the motivation to throw our bikes in the car, rummage through the cupboards for food and drive out to Cleveland where the car ferry begins the 45minute journey across to the Island.

Having parked the car and assembled my bike (seriously one day I am going to buy a bike that fits in a car or even a standard bike box) we bought our tickets just as the ferry started loading. The calm and beautiful conditions on the crossing confirmed to us that it had been worth getting up, and that we weren’t mad.

Our early morning ferry trip confirmed that today would be a good day!

Arriving on the island we were immediately in the shade of the sand hills the dominate the island. Panic filled me as my ideas of riding around on a perfectly flat island with lots of beautiful bays was shattered, but a coffee from the bakery restored my earlier optimism and we started riding towards Point Lookout at the northern tip or the island. The riding is easy, with good roads that seem well thought out and aren’t steep.

The hills are relatively large (80m maybe), the the slopes are gentle making them easy enough to ride. Continue reading

Long Weekend Cycle Tour – Rosewood – Lake Moogerah – Ipswich

It was a wet and windy weekend and all through the house chilly drafts filled every corner. The alarm stirred two sleepy figures who opened their eyes, mumbled a few words about how terrible it was and rolled over to go back to sleep. 
Ten minutes later one figure sat bolt upright and declared that it was time to go riding!

Our plans for the weekend we’re fairly simple. We would catch a train to Rosewood, run an undefined distance and following an undefined route as far as we could be bothered which would hopefully be Lake Moogerah. We would then turn around and come back if we had sufficient energy. Amazingly it worked out quite well and to plan, though that was never going to be hard.

Our route for the June long weekend cycle tour and the vertical profile. Click on the image for an interactive version.

So on Sunday morning we rode to the station and headed off to Rosewood with little or no plan, but a good supply of food and some shelter in case it all got to hard. One of the best things about Brisbane is that it is really easy and cheap to get out of it by public transport. From Rosewood we turned south along the Rosewood-Warrill View Rd into a head wind that made riding like riding on sand, every spin of the pedals was harder than the one before and progress was slow averaging only 16km/h.

Anyway the ride improved after a stop for hot chips in Rosevale and the afternoon saw us riding along the nicest road we’ve ridden. The road ran between Rosevale and Aratula and was well graded gravel winding up a beautiful wooded valley with a creek next to the road. If anyone is in the area take the time to ride it!

After a late lunch we rode the last 12 kilometres to Lake Moogerah Caravan Park which is situated right beside the lake. We didn’t take any photos because we were tired and it was far to nice to lie on the grass. Instead I have provided some photos from their website to entice you!

On Monday morning we packed up in record time and started heading north. With sore legs and hills to contend with he first few kilometres nearly made us weep, but once we crested the last hill it was downhill for kilometres with rapid descents and very little pedalling to be done. The joy on our faces going down the hill would have looked amazing, but it was good enough to declare it our second best ride (after the day before of course). To top it off we finished the morning riding at brilliant cafe in Kalbar called the Art Cafe Du Kalbar, you all know I get pretty excited about coffee but this place is up there with the best. It has arm chairs in the wind, with books and magazines discreetly placed on the table and is wonderful. Also they now know how to temper soy well after yours truly educated them as part of my quest to enlighten the masses.

After coffee we rode on into the rain and wind, stopping only to put on rain coats, overshoes and play with historic water pumps.

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