This guest post, possibly the first in a series, comes from Glyn the bike packer. Now most bike packers seem to be a little on the crazy, but Glyn’s adventure seems to be positively enjoyable, and I can’t wait to try out his route myself when time permits.
I really like the type of work I do. It brings me in to contact with the most dedicated Australians. But every now and then I like to get away on my own. My chosen method is bike-packing. Even with a minimalist approach I can be self-sufficient for three days with water being the limiting factor.
My latest trip around the NSW South Coast took in Nowra, Shoalhaven Heads, Gerroa, Gerringong, Berry and the hills beyond. The frequency of towns and villages along this route made resupply of water easy as well as providing numerous quality café stops. All up the trip was about 200km with a good combination of flat coastal plain and some challenging hills. The roads offered bike lanes or wide shoulders. When the shoulder was tight the cars gave me plenty of room. I think the 1m passing campaign is having an effect.
This was my first decent trip for about 12 months so I used day one as a shake out, sort out weight distribution and some new kit. Rather pleased that I did as it made the rest of the trip that much better. I have taken on loads of advice and tips from the Bike-packing Australia Face Book Page and this has paid dividends.
While I can live comfortably with what I carry and sleeping in the bush doesn’t bother me at all I use caravan parks when the opportunity arises. On this trip I had really good weather and really bad. Peddling 20km into a 33 knot head wind made me question what I was doing and the thunderstorm that came with the wind made life a little uncomfortable. Seeing a caravan park sign before the rain got to heavy was a relief. Staying in a caravan park also offers the opportunity to meet new and interesting people.
Some of the stretches I road along where remote and nice and quiet which gave me time to contemplate. Here are three random thoughts that I had.
- 9 times out of 10 the most boring person at a meeting will win an argument. This person has the ability to suck any innovation out of inspired people. They care so little for progress they are prepared to out wait everyone else.
- Message to marketing agencies: there is no need to put the letter ‘I’ in front of anything. Just because one company was successful with this gimmick doesn’t mean every other product in the future need start with an ‘I’.
- Who decided to change signs from ‘For Sale’ to ‘Selling’? All I can think of is that it is a cost saving exercise to save the printing cost between seven and six letters and a space.
Some people do this sort of traveling far harder than I do by staying right away from civilisation. But I like seeing different things and this includes a variety of settled areas. Each town seems to offer something new in terms of food, coffee, drink or other produce. So I choose to explore these options.
I was in no hurry on this trip and came home feeling very relaxed.
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.
Stromatolites actually aren’t that impressive.
Stromatalites at Lake Thetis
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.
Pinnacle shadows. It is really worth being there early in the morning for the shadows!
I think I found my likeness!
The cross section was quite a lot like that of a stalagmite
I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the perks of my job is being able to stop in at interesting locations near my work sites. At the moment I am spending a little time based out of Geraldton in Western Australia, and instead of heading straight home from the office today I decided to turn off the main drag at the big brown sign to Ellendale Pool. Not having a clue what I was heading towards, or how far down the road it might be is always a little worrying but today it worked out when I noticed the trees thickening and a few reeds starting to survive in the creek lines.
Soon I was driving parallel to what looked like a rather health swamp, but after taking another turn off I started to see glimpses of water. Ellendale Pool turned out to be a large spring fed billabong at the bend in a big cliff line. A few slightly worrying signs (not sure if I want meningitis) stopped me from swimming, or at least until I have spoken to some locals in the know.
On Saturday a rather large collection of rather motley friends assembled at Mt Wilson fire station for a moderately adventurous adventure. Despite my best intentions of planning and being organised we arrived well caffeinated about 45minutes after we had intended, and hence set out for the canyon proper a tad later than 9am. In our crew of 11 were friends from scouts, friends from Alice, friends of friends and well friends. The rather splendid weather meant for an enjoyable and meander-ful trip down the Wollangambe at a not particularly rushed pace, though I must concede there were surprisingly few food stops for one of my trips!
Anyway enjoy the photos. A massive thank you to Tallia, Ez and Alison for playing photographers!
Luckily for us the weather was warm enough swimming was necessary in our wetsuits or it got a tad warm!
It was a hard life floating down the river.
The crew. Thanks everyone for an amazing day out!
My happy place!
Walking in looking decidedly spritely. It is almost always downhill to a canyon which helped!
Question – How do you tell a silver green snake apart from a silvery green rope?
Answer – ummmmm…. Continue reading
I’m not usual one for fundraising, or asking people to support charities or any such thing. I like to make donations that I can myself, and I don’t really like to harp on about causes but I am about to contradict that ethos by informing you I have signed up for Movember.
During November I will be cultivating the embarrassingly sparse patch of hair that assembles itself ludicrously slowly between the latitudes of my nostrils and my upper lip. Apparently by doing so I am encouraging people to thing about some very important men’s health and well-being issues, which is important. I can’t help but think of the last time I decided to shave my beard and leave a moustache, a period of time when women with children crossed the road and people made comments like “who is that barefoot hippy with a seedy seedy mo” so if you can donate that would make my appearance feel less anti-social.
Anyway I shall stop rambling at this point and say that there are a number of awesome cause out there to support. If you want to support my Movember campaign (entitled “Mos in Movember Only!”) click here.
Otherwise I would encourage you to consider these other worthy causes that unfortunately seem eminently relevant to friends and family at the moment.
The Cancer Council
The Royal Flying Doctor Association
On Sunday I re-entered the most fascinating world of canyoning. Chris, Nicole and I headed off bright and early in the morning towards the Blue Mountains and the Mt Wilson Cathedral of Ferns.
After several stops for second breakfast and coffee we arrived respectable time, loaded our packs and wandered up and down hills to get to where we thought the canyon should be. Ferocious bush fires last year, along with big storms over the past month meant that almost all sign of the once clearly defined track has disappeared and the bush was full of the sound of groups wandering aimlessly towards the creek line hoping to find the traditional abseil entry point. Having reached a creek, and working on the principle that all creeks lead down hill, we walked straight down into the water and bypassed what should have been the biggest abseil of our trip.
Once wandering down the side creek into Whungee Wheengee it dawned on Nicole that so far the trip was no different to hiking. After some discussion it was decided that really it is called a canyon when you got wet intentionally. Eventually though the water started getting deeper, and colder and we decided it was time to don wet suits and starting treating the canyon like we meant it. Scrambling through lots of fallen logs and branches would become a theme for the trip as traditionally easy walks around some pools were choked with debris, but all in all the canyon was still pretty clear and easy to navigate with the right gear etc.
The highlight of the trip was of course the glow worms. Glow worms are cool! There isn’t anything else to be said about it, and in several sections of this canyon the displays were absolutely beautiful as we swam through dark tunnels. I am told canyoning at night can be spectacular for this reason, and I have to say this canyon made me want to find out!
Thanks to Chris for leading our little party through the canyon, and thanks for Tom from OzUltimate for making his notes available on the canyons. It is a nice comfort for the slightly out of practice to have a reliable source of info!
Nicole in the green. Spot the track!
Side Creek, we kinda missed the abseil entrance by a bit…
Nicole and Chris in the canyon.
No matter where you are there is always time for tea and hot chocolate!
Volcanoes are pretty cool. I don’t really want to come across on that is angry because I hear that can be bad for your health, but I do like to find out about how quickly the geology of a landscape can change.
I am currently in Mt Gambier for work and after several trips to the town I have made it to the lakes on the edge of town. In general the local terrain is flat with lots of limestone (caving anyone?) but just on the edge of town there is a rather large hill with three rather large holes in it. The hill is a dormant volcano, and the rather large holes are three craters are the remains of where the volcano has decided to be less dormant at various points in time, most recently 4200 years ago which is pretty recent really.
Almost more interesting than the big holes is the water which fills one of the lakes. It is bright blue in summer, decidedly grey in winter and spectacular all the time.
So, with my little geek out done – here are the photos.
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.