Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category

Will I fall in love with Kimberley!   Leave a comment

Tuesday, 26 July, 2016

Kimberley Trip Day 1

The Preamble.

Unlike my usual trick of running around at the last minute like a headless chicken, I was all packed up and ready to go over the weekend and just had a couple last minute items to buy during lunch on my last day at work. It’s kinda strange packing for expected 30c heat during the day, but remembering to purchase thermal long johns and vest for the ‘chilly’ nights in the Kimberley. I hope I’ve got the mix right!

Found out one restriction for Uber last night, you can’t book in advance! So I was forced to order a taxi pickup at 5:15am this morning, so with the alarm set for 4:30, I went to bed early, especially after I had heard that the Man Utd v Man City friendly match in the Birds Nest stadium, Beijing had been cancelled due the appalling weather China has been experiencing recently.

Up, showered, shaved and my gear squared away in plenty of time before the taxi arrived on time to take me to the airport. I’ve never seen so much rain fall in Canberra and I was glad that with any luck I won’t be seeing any more for a couple weeks. I had already checked in online, so my only task at the bag drop was to endure that my bag would transit all the way to Broome without me having to check it in again at Sydney.

Canberra Airport

The first flight was packed with mostly early morning commuters, business men and women. Started chatting to the lady sat next to me and it turned out that we work in the same building, albeit for different divisions. I think she was quite jealous that I was off on my Jolly’s while she was going to be stuck in a two day ‘Women in industry’ seminar in the middle of the Sydney CBD! That’s Canberra for you, everybody knows you or where you work, lol.

Sydney airport.

Whilst queuing up to board the second flight I meet Mandy, who funnily enough was heading to Broome to join up with the same tour I’m on, small world indeed. 5 hour flight (Jesus and I’m still in the same country!), so passed the time watching a couple of movies and listened to music on the excellent Bose noise cancelling headphones I purchased last year (an excellent investment!).

Broome/Cable Beach

Bit of a mix up at the airport where I meet up and got chatting to a couple who had Adventure Wild bags and I thought I heard were staying at the same hostel as me, so when I saw a bus with the hostel name on it and they said that they were being picked I naturally thought that I could jump in with them. However, I we were walking across the car park towards the buses they walked pass the empty Beaches of Cable Beach Bus and on to the Breezes of Cable Beach one. Realising my mistake I rushed back towards the terminal looking for the driver of the other bus, but I must have walked past him/her, because after waiting around for a while I walked outside again to discover the bus had gone. So it was a taxi ride to the hostel for me! Numpty.

Even though I’m staying at a Hostel for one night before starting the tour, I decided to push the boat out a little and paid to have an ensuite double room at the Beaches of Broome Backpackers Hostel to myself. Seeing as I’m now officially on holiday grabbed a beer and sat by the pool for a while, until I realised that the beach was just down the road!

Wow, long creasent shaped beach with lifesaver patrolled area. Picked a nice spot at the back and after having a swim in the Pacific Ocean fell asleep on the sand whilst listening to the soundbox the waves. Enough of that, I need beer, so walk up the beach to the bus stop outside the Cable Beach Resort (I’m staying there when I get back form the tour). From there I jump on the bus into the shopping centre to buy a few things I need for the tour including a 24 pack of 150 lashes which I have to lug back to the hostel on the bus. On the way back from the bus stop, speak to a lady who tells me the time of the sunset that Broome is famous for and the best place to go and see it.

So, after a quick change I wonder over to the Sunset Bar and Grill and join the hundreds of others sat around waiting for the 5:35 sunset.

Of course you have to have a beer whilst watching he sunset and what a sunset. The thing is, it’s not just the sunset it’s the light show afterwards as for 30 minutes or so after the we lost the sun the sky turned an amazing spectrum of reds.

I spotted a decent looking bar/restaurant on my way down to the the beaches, so instead of paying the inflated prices of the Sunset B & G, I paid the slightly less inflated prices of the Zee Bar, washed down with another beer of course. I was contemplating having another when I realised that had been up since 4am, flown across Australia, explored the local area, taken in a magnificent sunset and still need to set out my shit ready for a 5:30am start in the morning.

Advertisements

Manly to Taronga Zoo Hike   Leave a comment

Monday, 28th December, 2015

After meeting up with cheeky chops Lucy and her mother Lauren at the Circular Quay wharf terminal this morning, we took the ferry over to Manly for breakfast on the beach side cafe.

The forecast was for a coolish day with a slight chance of a bit of rain, so what better day for me to try out the Manly to Harbour Bridge walk I’ve been hearing so much about recently, WRONG. Woke up to the sound of rain pelting it down and even after consulting the weather app, which told me it was just a passing shower, it continued to rain throughout the trip across the harbour on the boat and during our breakfast. So much for our planned hour or so on the beach, so we opted for a stroll along the boardwalk in order to show Lucy the surfers in the sea.

On the way back to the ferry terminal I was still undecided as to whether or not to take on the hike, but seeing as it had stopped raining and it looked as though it was brightening up, I decided to go for it. So at around noon, a lot later than I had planned, I bode Lucy and Lauren goodbye and set off along the harbour side coastline towards Spit Bridge and Sydney CBD beyond.

This first section is around 9km in length and well signposted, even allowing for a slight detour part way through due the pathway being washed away by a high tide a few months back. Not that I needed direction or a map, as all I had to do was to keep an eye out for the steady flow of people coming towards from the other direction! It seemed that Spit Bridge to Manly is the favoured way to go.

However, once you get to Spit Bridge the numbers coming the other way dropped off massively and I found myself weaving through some very nice real estate until I hit another reserve and the coastal path again which took me into Balmoral, where j had lunch at another beach side cafe. Suitably refreshed, I struck out again to take out the next section of the hike to Taronga Zoo. Probably the best bit of the hike, as the path hogged the coastline dropping into and out of various coves along the way, with the added bonus of passing some historical sites as well.

I had planned to give myself 8 to 9 hours to complete this walk and with a planned 9am start, I would have done it no problem even with lunch, a swim and multiple stops for picture taking and chats thrown in for good measure. However, with my late start I was conscience that I wouldn’t be finishing the hike until 7 or 8 o’clock in the evening. Unfortunately I had made other plans, so I decided to end the walk after 22km at the Taronga Zoo ferry wharf and jump on a boat back over the harbour into Circular Quay, so that could sort myself out for my date at the IMAX theatre in Darling Harbour.

Posted December 28, 2015 by yermandownunder in Observations, Out and about, Travels

A Mish-Mash of a weekend!   Leave a comment

The weekend of 29-31 May, 2015

Friday

It feels like I’ve not been to Sydney for ages, so on Friday I escaped from work and drove to Sydney in the afternoon. Arrived at Barbara and Lawrence’s place to find Lawrence just back from shopping and Barbara at work till at least six o’clock, so us menfolk made the executive division to have dinner at the Revesby Workers Club when she returned. Now, I’ve been to a few working men’s clubs in my time, but Revesby Workers Club is not like any of them. They’ve recently had a massive refurbishment during which they practically knocked the place down and built an underground car park serving both the new club and a large supermarket/shops. I was here at New Year, but this is the first time I’ve seen the whole completed complex, very nice, as was the meal we had at their bistro followed by a few drinks at the bar and back at the house (we are talking about Lawrence here after all!).

Saturday

It was a bit of a late night, but I was still up early to take a walk around the corner to catch the barber shop opening. Normally I use the shears to cut my hair (No. Zero all over), but seeing that winter is just around the corner I’ve been letting it grow a little bit longer, but now it needed a cut. I’ve kind of burnt my bridges at Bentleys in Garran, where Ciara used to work and I used to get free haircuts, meaning that I would have had to Canberra prices for a ten minute job, lets face it, I don’t have too much hair on my head to start with and I bulk at being charged $25. Anyway up in the big smoke I got charged $15 and I even seen it for as low as $9 in the centre of the CBD! I mentioned to Adam (my new bestie!) that I was in town for the Tottenham Hotspur match and soon we were in deep discussion about the match, Man United, my team, Man City, his team and all things football.

After a cooked English (it always taste better when someone else cooks it!), I took the dogs for a walk around the suburbs and was surprised to see so many houses being either renovated or built, in fact there are a couple of new houses opposite Barbara and Lawrence’s which were having ‘open house’ inspections later in the day. When I returned I found that Lauren’s car was in the driveway, which meant that the lovely Lucy was in town. Sure enough there she was roost in the front room, I was surprised to find her standing at the table for support. That’s nothing, said Lauren, watch this and she lifted her and put her down in the middle of the room where we were treated to watching her first steps.

I had checked into the YHA at the Rock on Saturday night, mainly due to the fact that I would be coming out of the game late and maybe going on to take a look at the Vivid Festival, as well as the possibility of watching the FA cup final in the Star casino at 2am. So when Lauren said she was headinG off past the train station I jumped the chance to get a lift in order to get an earlier train into town, where I checked into the YHA just after two in the afternoon. For the first ever, mainly due to the fact that I was there just after the official check-in time I got a lower bunk in a four man dormitory. I knew that Barry was in town for a concert at the Opera House later in the evening, so we arranged to Meet at Rubens in the Westfield Centre on Pitt Street, were we both had their world famous Rubens on Rye. However, I got but food envy when I saw someone order the Meat Lovers triple decker! (Next time).

So, what to do when you have a few hours to kill before the main event of your evening? Go to the pub of course, so Barry suggested that we have a ‘few’ pints of Guinness in Maloneys Irish pub further down Pitt Street. At the appropriate time I Headed back to YHA to change for the match and attempted to take a quick look at the Vivid lights around Circular Quay, but it was a zoo so I headed off for the train to Homebush and the ANZ Stadium, the site of the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

The stadium was nearly full for the match between Tottenham and Sydney FC, but to be honest it was a bit of a disappointment, especially in the second half where the best thing happening was watching the paper aeroplanes being thrown from the top tier of the stand in an attempt to reach the pitch. After the game I returned to Circular quay on the train to find it much more desirable and actually got to see some of the Vivid Festival. On the way round I bumped into Barry and we decided to head off into the Rocks to find the Mercantile Hotel which is located underneath the Harbour Bridge. The house band was murdering some rock classics, so we attempted to find a quiet part of the pub, not easy, but the craic and Guinness were good, so we stayed for one or two too many.

The long day caught up on me, so I decided not to head off to the Star casino to watch the FA Cup final between the Arse and Vill, much to Barry’s relief I think! We returned to the YHA with Barry to discover that they would be showing the game in the TV lounge on the top floor. Decide to have a lie down for an hour and when I mentioned my room I found out that Barry was staying in the same four man dormitory as me! Got ready for bed and suffice to say I didn’t wake up until the morning to find out the Arse won 4 nil.

Sunday

There’s a small cafe in the reception on the YHA, so I bought a coffee and toast and took it up to the on terrace on the roof, wow one of the best views in Sydney and all for $52. Later I had breakfast with Barry in a fantastic cafe hidden away in the Rocks somewhere with a courtyard that he has discovered, before heading off to see the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) 2015 Photo Journalist exhibition at the NSW State Library. Great pictures, but some of them were very confronting and were not for the squeamish. I headed back to the train station to return to Barbara and Lawrence’s via a couple of shoe shops, but couldn’t be bothered to do any shopping. However I just missed the fast train back, meaning that I have to wait for another twenty minutes and then ride the slow train that stopped at all stations to Revesby. Therefore, I only had time to have a quick cup of tea with Lawrence before driving back to Canberra, hoping to avoid driving down the Federal Highway in the dark (Remember last year and the Kangaroo that wrote my car off).

Posted June 1, 2015 by yermandownunder in Observations, Out and about, Travels

BooRoomba Rocks   Leave a comment

Sunday, 24 May, 2015

Continuing a theme I started last weekend, I decided to return to the Namadgi National Park to tackle a walk that I’ve been meaning to do for ages. Nearly 2 years ago, I went camping up at the former NASA space tracking station at Honeysuckle Creek and completed a hike from there to the other space tracking station at Orroral. This time I meant to go the opposite direction and hike up to the Booroomba rocks which are supposed to offer spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and Canberra in the distance.

Normally I like to try to start these things pretty early in the morning, but this morning it was fecking freezing in Canberra and I opted to stay in bed for an extra hour until the sun had burnt off the early-morning frost before leaving for the National Park and the car park at Honeysuckle Creek. Upon arrival, I bumped into a large group of older hikers (I must be careful when I say ‘older’ these days, as I’m getting that way myself!), who were planning on doing the same thing as me. After a quick chat with them, I was off and was soon following the clearly signposted track out of the bottom of the campsite area and into the woods. Around 400m in, the track intersected with the Australian Alps Walking Track which runs from the Namadgi Visitors Centre all the way down through the high peaks of the NSW and Victorian mountains to somewhere near Melbourne. I followed this track to the Booroomba Rocks car park and then took the track which leads up the steep ravine towards the rocks themselves.

There’s a sign just back from the rocks warning people to be careful of the cliff edge, but it should also warn of breathtaking views from the top! The early morning mist/frost had given way to the most spectacular sunny day which afforded me clear views of the surround country side and the city of Canberra in the distance. It’s only a 20/30 minute walk up from the car park, so lots of people had taken the opportunity to come up and take in the view. I hung around for an half hour or so watching rock climbers tackling the sheer granite cliff face, taking pictures and exploring the pathway along the top of the rocks.

I retraced my steps back to Honeysuckle Creek, checking out the route of the Australian Alps Walking Track up towards Mt. Tennent along the way (a future hike me thinks), where I had to good look around the, now demolished, site of the former NASA Space Tracking Station which was built by the Americans to track the Apollo moon missions, Skylab and early Space Shuttle flights. In fact, Honeysuckle Creek’s main claim is that it’s the place where the TV pictures from the Neal Armstrong’s first steps on the moon where received on earth and then broadcast around the world to an awestruck audience.

Posted May 28, 2015 by yermandownunder in Observations, Out and about, Travels

Big Hike 26   Leave a comment

Saturday, 11 April, 2015

The 26th in the edition of Phil’s Big Hike series saw a record number of hikers turn up for an attempt on the Main Range Trail from Charlottes Pass in the Koscuizco National Park. I love this hike (I’ve done it three times previously) and it never fails to impress me with both the scenery it offers from all around the route and the the improved level of fitness I seem to have every time I do it. The last time I was up here was only a few weeks ago, as the final part of my training for the CBR100, when I skipped around the 22km in a shade over six hours. 

There was a bit of confusion first thing this morning as to who was picking up who, but finally it was sorted that Glenn and I were driving up and meeting the James, Nick and Patrick at the breakfast stop in the alpine town of Jindabyne, then the five of us squeezing into one car to drive into the Koscuizco National Park ($16 charge per car, tight bastards I know, but every penny counts!). Also joining us today was Phil, who organises these Big Hikes, Tony, Sankalp (new to our little gang), and Simon with his son David.

Earlier in the week there had been a massive amount of snow fall in the region, but today’s forecast was for clear skies and little wind, with a maximum temperature of 9C. prefect for hiking. However, when we arrived at Charlotte Pass the wind was howling at around 45kpm and we started the hike wondering what we had let ourselves in for. Obviously with a circular route, there are two ways you can tackle it, clockwise and anti-clockwise and before we started there was a huge debate as to which was the best route to take. 

Finally after a vote was taken we were on our way on the clockwise route (not my choice!) and we made good time up to Seaman’s hut, in which we took a well-earned rest. By the time we emerged the wind had died down and the assault on the summit was done in very pleasure weather and at the top we were rewarded with some fantastic views of the surrounding NSW and Victoria countryside laid out below us. On the way around the ridge-line we bumped into an abandoned campsite where apparently earlier in the week, during the snowstorm, a group of hikers had to be rescued after a couple of their tents had failed in the wind. 

Lunch was taken a spot overlooking Lake Albina, one of the best views in NSW OMHO, before we tackled the climb up to Mt. Carruthers where young David began to feel the pace. From the summit you can trace the route all the way back down to the Snowy River, with the emphasise on the down and this meant a pleasurable hike down to Blue Lake, where we resisted the urge to take a dip in the icy looking water and onto the banks of the river.

Fortunately, the melting snows hadn’t caused the river to swell to much and we managed to cross it using the large rocks and boulders spanning its width without too much trouble. I would have been well pissed, if we were forced to turn back because the river was impassable! We took another rest on the far side, not wanting to look up at the fearsome climb up out of the valley back to Charlottes Pass that awaited us. The last time I took this route round, this climb took me 45 minutes to complete, but with a big push and no stops, I was done in under 15 minutes. By the time the last of the group made it back to the start point, I made it that the hike was completed in just over 6 hours 30 minutes.

Great day out with the boys, especially with Sankalp, Glenn and David completing their first Main Range Hike. Well done everybody!

Posted April 11, 2015 by yermandownunder in Observations, Out and about, Travels

What a Folly!   Leave a comment

Saturday, 04 April, 2015

After a lot of deliberation during the week, mainly down to the state of the weekend, I decided to bite the bullet and hit the coast for a two night Easter camping trip down in Eden, NSW. My original plan was finish work at lunchtime on Thursday, drive down to Eden for a night or twos camping and then make my way up the coast to finish up at Narooma on the Sunday night before returning to Canberra on Easter Monday. However, at the start of the week the Easter weekend weather forecast for most of the South Coast was shocking, with heavy rain predicted from Sydney all the way down to just north of Eden. As the week progressed the forecast for Eden at least was looking favourable for Friday, Saturday and maybe Sunday, so that how I found myself leaving home early of Good Friday morning and driving the 3 ½ hours to the South Coast Holiday Park, Eden into which I booked a two night un-powered site for my tent and I.

The campsite was pretty busy with most if not all the powered sites taken, but I as allocated an excellent site not too far away from one of the toilet blocks and camp kitchens. In fact I was surprised to see how big the site was, as I easily got my tent and car on the pitch with lots of room to spare. Once I had set up camp, something that is taking longer and longer as I seem to have accumulated quite a lot of gear these days, I went over to the lakeside and unpacked the SUP so that I could take it out for a spin. It was a beautiful evening, a bit grey, but little or no wind and quite warm and I was having a ball paddling across towards the other when I noticed what I thought was a plastic bag just below the surface. SHIT! Not a plastic bag, I fecking great big Jelly Fish! Then another and another, jesus there was hundreds of them. All of a sudden I lost my confidence and it seemed my ability to stand up on the board, something that is fundamental on a SUP, was gone as I froze not wanting to fall in. Somehow I managed to paddle through to the other side and all I had to do then was work out how I could get back without encountering them again!

This morning I woke up early, something to do with being in bed by ten and the sound of all those sodding birds at dawn. My plan was to go for a swim in the sea, have breakfast and then go for a hike in the Ben Boyd National Park just down the road. Being the lazy git that I am I decided to drive the few hundred metres to the beach and I was glad that I did, as I realised that the sea was dead calm and having the SUP in the boot I couldn’t miss an opportunity like this, so I unpacked the gear, set everything and dashed into the sea. The first time I stood up I fell off within a few seconds, mmmm I’ll have another go… same thing and again and again. Bloody hell, what’s going on, I had no problem last night on the lake, but today on flat, calm sea I can’t stay on the board for more than a few seconds. Finally after an half an hour or so I was able to stand up and paddle for a while before the very slight swell had me off. However, the longer I was out there, the better I got and although I wasn’t fully confident at the end, I felt that I had had a great work-out and had learnt a lot.

Back at the campsite I used the excellently equipped camp kitchen to cook up a full English for breakfast. Then it was off in the car to drive 30 minutes or so down the coast deep into the Ben Boyd National Park to Boyd’s Tower which is at the northern end of a 30km hike along the coastline known as the ‘Light to Light’ (the Green Cape Lighthouse is at the Southern end and Boyd’s Tower is at the other). Working out that I had around five hours of daylight left, I clearly couldn’t do the whole lot so decided to walk to Mowarry Point, which was around 7km away and then return to the tower. Just in case I was in a bit of a rush later, I took a quick look around the tower before I left. Turns out that Mr Ben Boyd was a bit of a dreamer back in the day, as he envisaged this area to be a major whaling and fishing region, which is why he had this massive tower which seemed to serve no purpose other than being a lookout point for spot the migrating whales as they passed up and down the coast on their bi-annual migration to and from their breeding grounds.

The start of the track was back at the car park and I was soon walking south along the coastline, stopping every now and then to take a picture or two. I was expecting to see a few other hikers along the way, especially as there were so many cars back at the car park, but the first people I came across were at Leather Jacket Bay, about 4.4km down the track. Now, let me paint you a picture! about a km from the bay I started to pick up some sort of beat, at first I thought it was the sea crashing against the rocks in one of the bays I was walking past, but then it became more distinct and I could tell it was defiantly music. As I got closer I could make out an Aboriginal groove to the beat and it was bloody loud. Gradually I could make out the shape of a few beat-up cars, min and camper vans with various bodies hanging out in or around them. Finally, as I came out of the tree to cross the creek into Leather Jacket Bay I was greeted by a group of three young men who offered me a beer and we were soon chatting away like old friends as they told me all about the three day camp they were having and all about the Light to Light hike I was on.

Upon leaving the camp, I continued along the track till I got to the beach at Mowarry Point where I had lunch sat on the rocks with only a couple of seagulls for company, fantastic! By this time I thought it best to head back to the car as the light was fading and I didn’t want to be caught out walking the last few Ks in the dark. All up I walk around 14kms in a little over 4 hours, I bit slower than normal, but I did stop quite a few times to take in the views and have a chat with a few people along the way. I can see why the guide says to give yourself two days to complete the full Light to Light hike.

Posted April 4, 2015 by yermandownunder in Observations, Out and about, Travels

Main Range – That was Easy!   Leave a comment

Saturday, 07 March, 2015

This weekend I’m staying up in the winter Ski Resort of Thredbo in the Snowy Mountains. I have been invited to stay at the ski lodge of my work friend Katrina and her partner David, also with us are Katrina’s friends Bernadette and Carole and Bernadette’s partner Les. We all drove up from Canberra yesterday afternoon and spent the evening drinking champagne, red wine and beer whilst consuming large quantities of nibbles and pizzas purchased from the local pizzeria.

The main reason I’m here is to hike the anti-clockwise circuit of the Main Range trail from Charlottes Pass and this morning we all rose from bed at some ridiculous hour, had breakfast, made our lunches for the day and drove back down the valley that Thredbo is located and round into Perisher Valley where the ski resort of Perisher is located and onto the end of the road and Charlottes Pass. Those avid readers on my blog will note that I’ve already ‘done’ the Main Range trail twice before, with the first one being an absolute nightmare due to the fact that I was around 25kg heavier and was wearing brand new boots which hadn’t been broken in, thus resulting in me developing the biggest blisters ever. Today’s 22km hike is also my last long hike before I start tapering down my training for the 50km option of the Canberra 100 (CBR100) in a few weeks’ time. Carole and Bernadette are also doing the CBR100 (25km option) as a team of three with their friend Rosemary, who could Not make it this weekend.

So at around 9am, we started on our way down the steep slope that leads to the first of our two crossings of the Snowy River and the start of the nightmarish climb up to the Blue Lake and beyond that to Mt. Carruthers. At the lookout overlooking the Blue Lake, we all had a well earned rest and I took a few pictures of the others with the lake in the background. The rest of the way up to the summit of Mt. Carruthers was a breeze compared to the slog that we had just endured. Here we had another break whilst surveying the spectacular mountain ranges spread out below us. All to soon, it was time to move on and head for our planned lunch time stop on the ridge-line overlooking Lake Albina. This part of the day was pretty easy and we soon reached a great spot where we could stop,  eat and enjoy the view. And how we were rewarded, with some fantastic views of the lake and the clouds rushing in over it from the valley below.

At this time, we started to notice that there were quite a lot of people coming along the track from the direction that we were heading. We were speculating that these people had taken the ‘easy’ option of taking the chair lift up from Thredbo and hiking across the moorland and this was confirmed when we reached the junction of the Main Range Track and Rawson’s Pass that leads up to the top of Mt. Kosciuszko where we saw hordes of people heading up from the chair life. This couple of Ks that leads up to the top of the mountain isn’t officially part of the Main Range Trail, but the majority of us couldn’t pass up on the chance of stand on the highest point in Australia.

After meeting up with those of us who didn’t go for the top (Bernadette and Les) at the toilet block at the head of the Summit Road, we knew that we only had a 7.2km decent down the old road past Seamans Hut and the second Snowy River crossing, this time over a bridge back to Charlottes Pass. All up we travelled 22.4km in a tad over six hours and I must say that I felt pretty good at the end, although I did fall asleep on the drive back to base.

Posted March 7, 2015 by yermandownunder in Observations, Out and about, Travels

yermandownunder

A Blog about Mario's life down under!