Volcanic lakes in Aus

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.

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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.

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Dreaming again

So I am chilling out near Canberra tonight and dreaming of rides I could be doing.  I won’t be doing these rides in the immediate future, but I can dream!

1) Iceland…

http://www.vegagerdin.is/media/upplysingar-og-utgafa/Cycling-map.pdf

I admit this isn’t a particularly detailed idea, but the map appears to outline hundreds of kilometres of riding which one could do with options for highlands, fjordlands and large sections of the maps listed as “Loose sand possibly causing difficulties in biking”. Who wouldn’t be inspired.

2)  Remote Australian Cycle Tours

http://ozbikerouteproject.cycletraveller.com.au/

I have a lot of respect for people who commit to serious cycle touring, and Alia and Simon appear to have committed to scouting two massive new cycle routes in Australia. The proposed routes through Central Australia and along the Great Dividing Range are epic and should be awesome once they are developed!

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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.

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T.O.W.S sufferers unite!

I have an admission to make. I sufferer from a disease. Okay it isn’t life threatening^, and probably isn’t going to cause any loss of livelihood unless someone at works notices that I am a victim of this horrific disease. I have contracted T.O.W.S.

Since I have been diagnosed I have come to wondering how long I have suffered this condition. Living in central Australia was I think quite good for me, and may have remedied many of the symptoms for a few years but with hindsight I can recognise many of the symptoms in my behaviour during my previous life in Sydney. Speaking of which, the symptoms. Oh the symptoms can be horrible. It can make working life a daily challenge as the T.O.W.S. influences the very way I view the world. I can’t really explain what it is like, but I will list some of the symptoms I experience and perhaps you’ll recognise my disease. I hear it is most common amongst outdoorsy people so you never know, you might be suffering from T.O.W.S and not even have recognised it.

The symptoms:

  • Loss of concentration and day-dreaming
  • Intermittent bouts of intense concentration, often manifesting in unconscious staring at objects more than five metres away*
  • Irritability**
  • Inability to look professional, especially pertaining to the failure to remove days worth of stubble or deeply ingrained grease stains.
  • Complete and utter failure to hear anything that might be construed to be an alarm by a reasonable person and inability to tell the time correctly – strangely this symptom is most evident on Monday morning and Friday afternoons, though not exclusively.

I don’t know if this sounds familiar to you, but I seem to live this every week. I am a suffered of T.O.W.S. – Tempting Office Window Syndrome.

^ only occasionally in the ways I find to reduce the symptoms…

* With the exception of maps, from which it can be almost impossible to distract oneself.

** Often directed at those people on social media detailing their excellent adventures when mine and less fantastical. (Yes that can mean you the reader, and I hope that my adventures are occasionally worthy of causing such irritability.)

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Camp Cave Bliss – Pindar Cave

The clouds are darkening, falling towards the ground. The sky, earlier so bright and promising, is fading towards twilight many hours ahead of its celestial scheduled. Panic sets in about finding a dry, warm place to spend the night out in bush, away from everything except for the dulcet tones of the Pacific Highway.

The thoughts of how to stay dry and warm starting creeping into my head early on Saturday afternoon as the first showers of what the BOM promised would be a night when the heavens would fall down upon the earth. These thoughts plagued my mind as we ambled happily towards Pindar Cave on Saturday afternoon. Pindar Cave is a very large overhang just 6km walk from Wondabyne Train Station, and even with the weather forecast as bad as it was the night was set to be a whole lot of fun as some good mates and I strolled through the bush laden with copious quantities of food.

Now before we go to far, I’d like you to think about the last meal you cooked while hiking. I am going to hazard there was probably only one course, and that the best selling point was that it was nutritious. Got that in mind? Well here is our menu for four for this weekends walk.

Saturday Lunch:- Rare roast beef and humous sandwiches on soy and linseed bread.
Nibbles:- Salami, spinach dip and humous with an option of three breads/crackers
Dinner:- Freshly handmade meatballs in a tomato sauce with a chorizo, capsicum and green bean cous-cous
Dessert:- A selection of chocolates, tea, biscuits and a most excellent bottle of port that taste like maple syrup
Breakfast, course 1:- Museli with cinnamon oat milk and banana
Breakfast, course 2: thick cut bacon on fresh bread
Breakfast, course 3:-  home made waffles with rhubarb compote

You get the idea, we ate well.

Now back to talking about weather. As we arrived to camp the slight mist that had been gracing us with its presence intensified into a persistent drizzle. Dropping packs we scampered into the bush collecting what kindling and firewood we could collect without depriving the surround bush of habitat or any of the ample fire-load that has built up over the past few years.

As we pulled in the last branches  the skies opened in earnest, with rain failing as if it meant business. Watching around us the track we had walking in on became a flowing stream, and the slow drips along the overhang edge became streams, then torrents of water cascading down in front of us and closing in our little overhang as a true cave.

After a very pleasant night of eating and pretending it wasn’t raining in our comfortable living room, we woke up to find the skies clearing and walking out in bright blue sunshine!

All up I think we have to thank the weather gods for looking after us so well this week, we couldn’t have asked for better weather. The rain really emphasised the value of camp caves and why they have formed such an important part of hiking culture around the Sydney basin.

 

 

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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.

Posted in Australia, Life and Daily Interest, Tasmania | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment