Steve’s Hiking: 2014
Della & I (combined age then 120)
heading off from Freney Lagoon on the second day of our walk across
I have been hiking/hunting now for over sixty years, and am still doing so – though a little more slowly than I once did.
I have spent very many years walking in the Victorian
This is a ‘work in progress’. I will be adding to it on a regular basis until I am ‘satisfied’ with it, when I will mostly be just adding new photos, adventures, product/ideas, suggestions, etc. I have collected here some things I have written the last couple of years about hiking/camping etc. First (as in the links above) there is some advice (HIKING) then a section of gear advice for my son written in 2011 (WORLD TRAVEL KIT FOR SON), then blog posts in reverse order, then our current ‘Gear List’ - with explanations. You can also see my older postS here: Hiking 2013 & Earlier. Hope you find something interesting here:
Ps: UPPER YARRA TRACK: I have recently created this site The Australia’s oldest (& best), an approx. 10-14 day walk with numerous resupply points, plentiful water and camping spots now extending from Moe railway Station @ 150 kilometres up the Latrobe, Tyers & Thomson River valleys, via Yallourn North, Erica & Walhalla, across the Baw Baw Plateau, along the Upper Thomson River, past the Yarra Falls & Mt Horsefall, along the Little Ada, Ada and Yarra valleys via Warburton to Lilydale Railway Station. Now, complete with Track Instructions
31/12/2014: We will have to find people to be ridiculously generous more often (as our son Bryn was with his Xmas gift of two return tickets to London Town), as the related posts have garnered 200 likes and comments! This has now wholly eclipsed our recent ‘crayfish’ post (c 8/11/2014). Oh, so many friends. Thank you Bryn, and ALL!
30/12/2014: ROADKILL: It always saddens me to see birds (and other critters killed (or horridly injured) on the road. Today on the way to the shop, there was a Songbird (thrush) near the Junction. Near Billy's Creek, a mynah had been hit and his friends were holding a wake. ..One thing that CAN be done about this carnage is if people would drive (as we were taught many years ago in NSW) so that we would be able to STOP for anything within our field of vision. If you cannot then you are ipso facto driving DANGEROUSLY. The person following you has also to be able to stop if you brake suddenly, so hang back a car length for every 10km plus one (was a sound rule). We were also taught NOT to swerve to avoid things (as this often results in out-of-control cars and accidents). Many birds, possums and other creatures (people?) COULD be saved...It is tragic that automobiles are today THE major predator.
29/12/2014: I was talking to a chap yesterday about undertaking a thousand mile canoe trip down the Kazan River in the Canadian Arctic, an area inhabited only by moose, wolves, caribou, bears, musk oxen salmon etc - and he opined I was too old! Oh dear! But surely, if Ray Jardine can do it (and much more) I can, so long as my back comes good: http://www.rayjardine.com/adventures/2001-Kazan-River/index.htm
28/12/2014: OHBOYOBOY: We had a wonderful family Xmas yesterday: (mayhap even too much of) Della Jones’s delicious food, loving company, lots of generous and thoughtful gifts, etc, etc…but as you may no doubt already have read, our son Bryn Jones quite bowled us over with the gift of free return tickets to LONDON! As one of my friends remarked, this pretty much reduced me to speechlessness (NOW, you know how to shut me up!) I had thought today to be playing with my new mobile phone, my new chainsaw attachment, my new hiking solar charger, my new hiking poles…but instead I find myself fraught with (planning) thoughts about what needs to be done before we can go, where we will go, what we will see. Will we be doing much hiking/camping out in ‘Blighty’ & etc. (No CITIES for me – but Della’s ancestors/mother were Londoners, so I guess that’s de rigueur). I’d guess we will end up doing one of our usual self-drive, take-it-as-it-comes, ignore-the-tourist-brochures types of holidays. I imagine I will check out some old ancestral addresses, so I can bore others speechless with slideshows of where great great great grandmother lived & etc. And of course, must visit Laugharne (see yesterday’s post)…I confess, I had always believed that when my great great grandfather was sent out here in 1828 (for some minor property transgressions) we could never return…
28/12/2014: WAR ON CAMPERS: As we returned from our foray to the Upper Yarra Track on Xmas Day we cut down through a long sub-continental-shaped ‘tongue’ of forest which hangs down East of Noojee pointing towards Trafalgar along the Upper Latrobe River (Note to self to investigate canoeing that particular stretch of river). We passed through/by the ‘Hawthorn Bridge Camping Area’ which had recently been laid waste by our (DSE/ParksVic) lords and mistresses using excavators to turn the previously beautiful camp grounds on the river flats into something resembling the surface of the moon (so there is now no level spot to erect a tent or drive a car) and now designated with signs as a ‘Revegetation’ area, (presumably largely by blackberries) etc. It still shocks and saddens me to see further evidence of this green totalitarianism. I know it began immediately emerald folks gained control (c 1983) of what were (then) Depts of Lands, Forestry, Mining etc and morphed them into Depts of Conservation, Environment, Sustainability etc. I recall (eg) areas along the Mitta (between the ‘Blue Duck & Glen Valley) where thousands could placidly camp in almost solitary bliss) which were closed off with bulldozers by these eager ‘saviours’ of nature back then. Since then they have laboured mightily to EXCLUDE the public from their OWN lands, declaring them to be the provenance (only) of ‘future generation,’ (there being clearly something inherently unworthy in the current one) as regards the enjoyment of such natural wonders. We have since seen thousands of kilometres of closed tracks (and the consequent hapless destruction by wildfire of MILLIONS of hectares), a plethora of rules banning hunting, fishing, camping, fossicking, gem & wildflower collection, etc…There is as yet no end to this TYRANNY, though it must as a duty to freedom be decried, resisted, disobeyed, overturned…Once there were only ten 'laws', then we had The Eleventh Commandment, 'Thou Shalt Not Get Caught'!
27/12/2014: The FIRST (and my personal favourite) Dylan’s Christmas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HoxycLmMOk A Child’s Christmas in Wales. If you are a Dylan fan, you WILL also like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BirV7uvZCTo Quite Early One Morning.
26/12/2014: The things you see when you haven’t got a shovel! We ventured off yesterday on an exploratory trip to see the ‘lost’ Yarra Falls. On the way we saw these wonderful bulbs (alstroemerias). NOW I am on a promise to return for a collecting trip. We figured there would be no (quasi) cops to apprehend us for trespassing on the Yarra Catchment, which was more than so – not a soul about, yet lots of lovely legal campsites along the Forty Mile Break Road. We walked around quite a bit (it was warmer than we expected) and have worked out the best point of approach and a possible loop walk taking in both the upper falls, the main falls the ruins/site of the Upper Yarra Hut, and returning via Track 12. It would have been better if I had had ALL the relevant maps with me. There will be quite a bit of machete work to get Della there, so an overnight trip in the New Year (when we have finished working in Merrin & Matt’s shop), I think. The Mt Whitelaw overnight will have to wait for a couple of cool days then too. I WILL have a shovel then. Must put one in EVERY car. Such collecting is a MUST. For example, we brought back a wealth of beautiful daffodils from the Tyers ‘Glass House’ last year which are now ‘doing’ wonderfully in Della’s garden.
24/12/2014: ROMAN concrete was better than ours: time we learned why: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2877547/Why-Colosseum-hasn-t-collapsed-Roman-concrete-used-secret-ingredient-stand-test-time-engineers-want-copy-it.htmlv
23/12/2014: RAILGUNS may have their shortcomings, but they also have their positives (eg they could deliver cargo to space cheaply). We were working on these at Maribyrnong, but when Hawke (?) was elected the project was cancelled. Defence has never been a Labor strong point : (Has it been anyone’s in Oz?): http://www.nationalreview.com/article/394715/railguns-next-big-pentagon-boondoggle-mike-fredenburg
22/12/2014: I WAS feeling a little down (due to some internet bullying), then a young friend rang to wish us 'Seasons Gretings' from Washington, which really brightened up my day! FYO: He is a young American (29) I met on the Dusky Track, Fiordland NZ in 2012. At the time I had such a bad back I really did not think I could walk a step of the track, but wanted to re-visit Supper Cove one (last?) time. We spent a several days there fishing, talking, exploring; learning from each other. Then I walked out the 50 km with him. Lots of Panadeine Forte; also lots of good company. He later visited us here (twice) and we have been in contact many times since. I hope to do more hiking with him in the future: perhaps the Pacific Crest Trail? Who knows? I have since had a back operation which has returned some of my functionality. And I have been back to Dusky again (in April), and also walked the South Coast Track there. It is GREAT to be able to make new friendships and renew old ones. I write these comments to recall my (small) adventures, offer (I hope) useful practical advice, and stimulate thought and discussion. I thank you ALL for your support. I never have expected others to think as I think, just as I do not think as others do. That is all part of the great adventure of life - as is long distance hiking in the wild places of the world...I have a few adventures in mind yet, if I am able, such as the Upper Yarra Track which I have been discussing lately. Any who want to join me are welcome. I also met a young Israeli on the 2012 Dusky walk. He also visited us twice, and I keep in touch with him. Neither of these people is on Facebook for one reason or another. It may surprise you that much of my discussion with the Israeli chap during the several days of our walk was an attempt to convince him of the essential goodness of human beings, and that this applied just as much to Moslems. It may surprise you more that I have had, and still have Moslem friends - who read my posts. Replies to comments: I intend many of my posts to be absurd - life often IS. Jesus WAS a much nicer man than Mohammed but not half such a good man as Socrates in my opinion, (or Buddha for that matter). Still, I do not respect religion and would rather see it gone from the earth. If there was something that could be put in the water supply to achieve this I think I would be in favour of it! Thank you also X, Y Z, etc for your comments and others for your support. I know that there are others who have been reading this without comment too who are with me in my endeavours. I will try to continue to post interesting, thoughtful things. Hope you continue to enjoy them.
22/12/2014: A friend of mine’s daughter is concerned that she is not ‘pretty’. ‘A frog’s pretty in a cat’s eye’ my mother used to opine…Most of us are NOT beautiful. Quite the reverse. 'Beauty' is quite fleeting (and unimportant) anyway. I have been 'ugly' all my life but I can't say I have given a moment's thought to it. Doesn't matter. Can't do anything about it anyway. More important things to think about. 'If it don't rain the roof don't leak; if it do, can't fix it anyway', or words to that effect.
22/12/2014: UNBROKEN: a fantastic story; what Zamperini and his comrades went through was astounding. DO read the book. For one thing you will understand why the Allies had to drop the atomic bombs: the Japs were going to execute all POWs in a matter of DAYS (anyway in August 1945). Unfortunately Jolie’s film omits an important (to him at least, and many others) 60 YEARS of Louie’s life: after he became a Christian in 1949. Interesting…
20/12/2014: What a wonderful ‘new’ discovery: 500,000 year old ‘writing’ on a shell by homo erectus. Clearly too the letter ‘m’ (or ‘w’!) begins the spelling out (I’m sure) of ‘man’ (or possibly ‘woman’ or ‘Adam’ – more shells needed). The Neanderthals (also) seem to have ‘invented’ the ‘hash-tag.’ How wondrous it must have been to have shared the earth with OTHER truly human ‘races’: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22429983.200-shell-art-made-300000-years-before-humans-evolved.html
20/12/2014: Spotted Pardalote: This morning walking down to the creek to check on the pump I spied a young pair of these which have obviously taken up residence in our roadside plantation. It is so encouraging to see such birds taking advantage of all our work:
19/12/2014: Whilst you may have jocularly described some acquaintance as a ‘vegie’, TRUTH is stranger than fiction, and genes have a few tricks up their sleeves to teach Darwin. A huge chunk of our DNA arrived by THIS strange mechanism: http://aeon.co/magazine/science/how-horizontal-gene-transfer-changes-evolutionary-theory/
19/12/2014: Cable ties are just GREAT…so MANY uses: http://topclosure.com/ Incidentally, have you TRIED handcuffing yourself with one to see whether you really CAN get the wretched thing off? They are not SO chewable, let me tell you! Always lots of fun (& games) happening around here, you see! I think everyone should be wearing the Leatherdos hair clip just in case they DO get handcuffed with cable ties: http://www.animicausa.com/shop/Best-sellers/Leatherdos-Mini-tools-clip/tpflypage.tpl.html
18/12/2014: HOBBITS: Looking forward to Jackson’s last film, or hoping that it will all soon be over and you can go back to reading your favourite Tolkien without Peter’s interpretation? Some thoughts on Middle Earth: http://acculturated.com/the-first-man-to-read-the-hobbit/ & http://acculturated.com/the-blessed-end-of-middle-earth-on…/
18/12/2014: SELF-DEFENCE: I understand the fate of most ‘Cassandras’ (that though they see the future correctly, their prognostications will not be believed), but I think the market must nearly be at bottom (there are some GREAT buys out there). Even if this is not the case, including some security firms and product suppliers in your portfolio would have to be a good bet: we can surely ALL understand from the Sydney ‘siege’ that the need to protect ourselves is paramount. It is palpably absurd that Australians should be mere victims; that the only ‘defence’ available to us is to wait passively whilst evildoers ‘have their way’ with us until the police arrive to ‘save’ us (good luck with THAT – as you SAW!) or indeed to SHOOT us (!) This is an entirely unsatisfactory situation. You may NOT own a firearm for self-defence, (but you may own one for hunting or for stock protection (for example) and it has to be stored securely ‘when not in use’, but it CAN be standing in the kitchen corner LOADED when it IS in use, eg when you are about to go hunting, or to shoot a fox – which is just about ALL the time, surely? I once again recommend the Rossi ‘Circuit Judge’ (Avail Walmart : http://www.walmart.com/…/Rossi-Curcuit-Judge-Shotg…/17200849 as you can see) loaded with five .410 SSG cartridges 3x .30 cal slugs ea). Just squeezing the trigger five times in rapid succession will send five .30 calibre projectiles into the vitals of your chosen target (which, at close range) will surely cause them to give up interest quite promptly! A great gun for smaller folk too such as ladies, perhaps as a Xmas present?
15/12/2014: Della’s new Xmas sleeping bag has arrived. I used to be such an advocate of Montbell’s Ultralight Superstretch Down Hugger #3, a minus 1C bag - mine (recently) washed weighs 738 grams in its compression bag on my scales; still a GREAT bag. Della’s new Zpacks Medium, Regular, -7C weighs 499 grams in its compression sack – and it is 6C warmer - as well as being 240 grams lighter! Astonishing: http://www.zpacks.com/quilts/sleepingbag.shtml
14/12/2014: Velikovsky it ain’t (which is probably just as well), but we need a reminder every now and then that civilisation CAN simply collapse: http://www.amazon.com/1177-B-C-Civilization-Collapsed-Turning/dp/0691140898
14/12/2014: These tiny luminous line locks (.7 gram ea) are just great http://www.clamcleat.com/cleats/cleat_details.asp?theid2=95 as is ultra light 1.25 high viz spectra cord (eg avail http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/spectra_cord.shtml ) which (together) makes for a perfect guy line for a hiking tent/tarp.
13/12/2014: Moonlight casts shadows; sometimes you forget…most places there is so much ambient light, you see nothing, know nothing. Last night during one of my elderly nightly sojourns to the bathroom I glanced out the back window and was surprised to see several small black creatures sitting on the new steps in the moonlight. I had to go fetch my glasses to see what they were as I was curious as to what critters had so early claimed this structure as their own. Alas, they were but moon shadows. I did notice yesterday however whilst working on the steps that a colony of ants had already claimed the vertical rails as a highway, so no doubt it won’t be long before others follow! Nature has a way of seizing every opportunity as its own.
12/12/2014: How does your garden grow? Ours is pushing out to about 2 ACRES, and we don’t plan to stop there: When we have planted out our remaining 25 (plus out roadside plantations), we MAY ease off a little. Did you see the post the other day by some IPCC hippie lunatic who calculated the ‘value’ of a tree to be somewheres about $193K? Holy Cow! By his reckoning the 2-300 trees we planted this year ALONE makes us worth over $50 MILLION! And then there’s the hundreds (nay thousands) of trees we have planted/caused to grow during our lifetimes. Della and I may be (tree) billionaires! Where DO we COLLECT? This is just my guess…but I reckon (just maybe) more gardens, more trees have been planted by Conservatives than will ever be planted by our left-wing or emerald brethren – I suspect the latter have never, WILL never plant a single thing: inner Melbourne’s concrete resists seeds so vigorously - you would need to create a Government Department, THEN hire public servants, and then…the latte calls!
11/12/2014: I have been building a set of steps for Della at the back of the house (you may have noticed her post). Still not finished. They would have been such a boon for me all those @ 25 years of winter’s nights as I led hounds down that wet, slippery slope (and back) to take them hunting the majestic sambar in our wonderful Gippsland mountains. Now (I am old), the hounds are gone and a garden is taking their place with over 100 trees already planted in their yards, and Della will need safe access to them! When we have finished the steps (and tidied up the yards a bit more) you may be taken on a tour! Meanwhile the grevilleas with which we planted out the back slope (and which Della has been busily mulching today) are attracting lots of honey-eaters & etc. Yesterday while working on the steps in the heat, I counted four species of honey-eaters and a fantail enjoying them, as well as our usual resident wrens, wagtails, etc!
11/12/2014: Upper Yarra Track: A Rare Treat: in digital form a facsimile of Annie Hoffa’s 1929 book, ‘The Real Thing, Adventures in the Australian Bush’ detailing her 1928 solo walk from Walhalla to Warburton. Sadly, Dr Yoffa was murdered by a madman (whose name weirdly enough was also Jones – NO relation!) in 1959: http://www.yarrarangesbushcamp.com/dr-annie-yoffas-1928-walk-from-warburton-to-walhalla.html
10/12/2014: Upper Yarra Track: The ‘Lost’ Yarra Falls allegedly Victoria’s largest (6-700 ft , ie 200 metres!). They are just 800 metres off the Forty Mile Break Rd about 1km East of its junction with Toorongo No 3 Rd – but I think it would be best to try and find the old track (see yesterday’s map) which skirts South around the top of the Falls Creek and then follows it down a ridge on the East side. Visiting them is a ‘must see’, I think even if there is a $200 fine – you pay that much for many tourist attractions though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUZwDjiO-sk
09/12/2014: Upper Yarra Track: Zoomable map of 1907 Route: http://www.nla.gov.au/apps/cdview/?pi=nla.map-rm2301-sd&rgn=0.1647354460,0.0000000000,0.8348457350,0.9991673605&width=1200&cmd=zoomout You could, I suspect trespass your way much of the ‘route’ if you didn’t mind a tad of ‘bush-bashing.’ One thing you could certainly do would be to walk the 800 metres down off the ‘Forty Mile Break Road’ to have a look at the quite spectacular ‘Yarra Falls’ (as this guy did: http://archive.bigben.id.au/victoria/melb/yarra_falls.html) :
08/12/2014: FIRELIGHTING TIP: You know how when you are trying to light a fire (or Brasslite Stove – as pictured) with a cigarette lighter how you burn your fingers? A strip of bicycle inner tube will hold a Mini Bic (such as I carry – in a snap lock bag to keep it dry) in the On position and prevent this, and can be used as an excellent firelighter itself when kindling is very wet:
06/12/2014: You’ve probably watched this fabulous documentary, or at least seen stills from it (http://www.ifcfilms.com/films/cave-of-forgotten-dreams) – if you haven’t you should! The cave lions still haunt me, as do the horses, the three dimensionality and the sense of movement. Ancestral man was wondrously clever - as evidenced by this astonishing 32,000 year old statuette of a (cave) lion-man: http://theinquisition.eu/wordpress/2011/history/the-lion-man/
05/12/2014: Upper Yarra Walking Track: update 2: I suggest you spend a weekend first checking it out, as follows: Drive to Walhalla; after you have looked around there, go back to Rawson, then North to the Mt Erica/Mushroom Rocks Rd (off the Thompson Valley Rd North of Rawson). Take a walk all the way to Talbot Peak (about .5 km past Mt Erica - return @ 3 hours). Drive to the lovely little village of Tanjil Bren via the South Face Rd (you will have already passed it (sign says ‘Baw Baw thataway). On the way you can check out Mt Baw Baw & hike across to St Gwinear or at least to the top (intersection with the Australian Alps Walking Track) if you like. Go through Tanjil Bren, take the Link Rd (right) to Toorongo @ 5km along. Turn left into Toorongo Rd then right onto the Forty Mile Break Rd. Turn left down Boundary Rd, right onto McCarthy Rd, left onto Big Creek Rd, left (follow the signs) to the Ada Tree. Take a 3.5km walk there. Go home down the New Turkey Spur Rd until it joins the Powelltown-Noojee Rd or follow Big Creek Rd, Brahams Rd and Mississippi Rd back to Big Pat’s Creek & Warburton. These are ALL 2WD roads. Rooftop’s ‘Yarra Valley – West Gippsland Adventure Map is excellent ($12). I have some advice and gear recommendations @ ‘Hiking doc’ on my blog (http://www.finnsheep.com/Ultralight%20Hiking.htm) but I see the link is broken (I will try to fix it tomorrow).
05/12/2014: Upper Yarra Walking Track: update 1: I reckon the best approach to this track for most people would be to catch a train to Moe, then a taxi to Erica. If there are four hikers this should not cost more than @ $30 ea. Walk along the old railway line to Walhalla. Maybe catch the train from the station at the Thompson River bridge if it is running that day. Spend the rest of the day (or two) exploring Walhalla and surrounds. Camp at Walhalla that night. Then head off past the Long Tunnel Mine towards Poverty Point, heading for Warburton where there is public transport back to Melbourne. There is secure water (and good camps) at O’Shea’s Mill, along the Baw Baw Plateau, from the Thompson River in Newlands Rd and at the Link Rd Recreation grounds on the corner of Toorongo Rd. You should have the maps and App I recommended in my post on 29/11. It will probably take you 3-4 days to get to the camp at the secure water on the Forty Mile Break Rd about 5km short of Mt Horsefall. The next day you would aim to get the the Ada Tree. There is running water 1 km down the Lock North Track, at a dam 1 km before the 15M track & running water at the corner of Lashos Track; afterwards PLENTY. DO IT! This will be just about the best week of your life!
04/12/2014: The Upper Yarra Walking Track (82 km) which extends from Warburton to Walhalla is Australia’s oldest walking track (1907). It has been neglected for a long time. There are no Government brochures or websites dedicated to it. There is a track description in the Siseman Book ‘The Australian Alps Walking Track’ (1988) which is quite out of date, eg some of the tracks, water points, campsites mentioned no longer exist. Curiously it appears (here and there) on the current 25K Vicmaps (ie Neerim North 25k_T8022-2-N, Noojee North 25k_T8122-3-N, Walhalla North 25k_T8122-2-N & Walhalla South 25k_T8122-2-S). Information about camping spots/water is missing/outdated. We have spent three days rectifying this (for our own purposes). I will make all this information available on my hiking website (http://www.finnsheep.com/Ultralight%20Hiking.htm) when I have it tidied up. You can email me for a copy of the maps. From what I have seen it far excels those iconic ‘Great Walks’ in Tasmania and the Prom, and CERTAINLY rivals those in NZ! We need to walk the section from Block 10 Rd to Mushroom Rocks (three days) to see if we can locate the section which goes up a ridge from Frangipani Saddle on Newlands Rd to Mt Whitelaw - which is almost certainly overgrown. It will take a bit of machete work there, I imagine. Later we will walk the section from Warburton to the Ada Tree to establish times and campsites, after which we will be able to walk the whole track in one go so as to make final recommendations. The walk follows a tramline from Big Pat’s Creek to Starlings Gap (labelled ‘Walk into History’), thence to Federal Crossing on the Ada River, thence along the Little Ada River to Federal Mill and the Ada Tree. Thence: New Turkey Spur Rd, Lashos Track, McCarthy Spur, Boundary Rd, (Whitelaws) Forty Mile Break Rd, Toorongo Rd, Block 10 Rd, Newlands Rd, thence across the Baw Baw Plateau to Mushroom Rocks, O’Shea’s Mill Site on the Eastern Tyers, Poverty Point Bridge across the Thompson, then to Walhalla. If you simply followed Siseman’s instructions after @ 10km (from New Turkey Spur Rd) without water you would come to a DRY water point at the 21km post on Boundary Track and would not know that there is a (muddy) water hole a further 6km ahead, so would almost certainly, sensibly give up! Personally I prefer clear running water with grassy campsites nearby. I envisage we will produce track instructions for a leisurely @ 6 day hike. Stay posted:
03/12/2014: Della: Day 3 of our reconnaissance of the Upper Yarra walking track: We cannot believe that such an outstandingly beautiful area lies so close to home and, even more amazingly, so close to Melbourne. In the 3 days we saw only 3 other vehicles, none of which was recreational. We sorted out the available streams for when we walk the track seriously and had a superbly relaxing 3 days. The ents, incidentally, were out in force, as my pictures will show. Peter Weir, eat your heart out!
02/12/2014: Della: Checking out the Upper Yarra walking track with a view to doing the 82km walk from Warburton to Walhalla. We are trying to locate water sources as the information on the track is a couple of decades old. Scenery is just beautiful, and tonight we are camped on top of Mt Horsefall (1130 metres). The view from my outdoor shower tonight was hard to beat!
01/12/2014: A VERY interesting blog; bookmark it: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/ I particularly liked the story of Alonzo Cushing awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour 151 years after his death (http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/33522) & of the excavation of Alexander’s boyhood friend and soul-mate Hephaestion’s tomb (http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/33333)...
29/11/2014: These 25K Vicmaps are GREAT and value @ $8 ea: http://services.land.vic.gov.au/maps/content/topo30wizard They can be viewed with full georeferenceing functionality (ie GPS, etc) with this great App on your phone, tablet etc: http://www.avenza.com/pdf-maps You need never get lost and can safely plan your next adventure, eg to walk the ‘Upper Yarra Trail’ from Warburton to Walhalla 82 km (in which case you would need Neerim North 25k_T8022-2-N, Noojee North 25k_T8122-3-N, Walhalla North 25k_T8122-2-N & Walhalla South 25k_T8122-2-S). This trail should be a great treat in the warmer weather if you have 4-6 days, but you can do it in @ two day sections: eg the Baw Baw Plateau is magnificent (and @ 10C cooler than Melbourne).
28/11/2014: Cleaning Down Bags: Thanks to my friend Brett for his advice about washing/treating (down) sleeping bags. I have now used Nikwax’s Down Wash & Down Proof products (sent from England in 1 litre containers via eBay - cheaper than 300ml avail locally: 150ml of each needed per sleeping bag) on my ‘worst’ Montbell Ultralight Super Stretch Down Hugger #3 bag. During the drying cycle I stopped every few minutes after some drying had occurred to separate out the clumps of down. Gradually I teased them out until I had achieved pretty much the loft of a new bag (if not better). I think next time I will try six tennis balls in the drier (they come in packs of three). They really do the job! I am really pleased with the result. I had substantially ruined this bag by having it saturated during a flood (twice) and having to sleep in it in any case. Then leaving it neglected for a couple of years. I will now try the products out on a bag which is mainly just dirty, and has not been allowed to re-loft enough.
27/11/2014: While you’re looking at ‘ruta locura’s’ web-site (Sp = crazy journey; I like!) you might notice their Tenkara trout fly rod conversion for a hiking pole. Now that’s a good idea if you’re a keen fly fisher (as you ought be!): http://www.rutalocura.com/Tenkara.html
26/11/2014: Thinking about Xmas presents? I notice these folks have nice (light 113 grams) three-piece carbon fibre poles which telescope to 50cm thus fitting in your pack when not in use. I managed to lose one of my two-piece poles pushing through thick bush on the Mt Darling Track last week. I was carrying it on the outside of my pack in case my crook knee gave out on me (in which case I could take down my rifle and swap it for a pair of poles). Being longer than the pack, a fork in some regrowth must have fished it out without my noticing, so that now I need to replace it. (Note to self: TIE them in!) I looked carefully on the way back, but did not sight it (probably whipped away off the line of track, I guess): http://www.rutalocura.com/trekking_poles3.html
26/11/2014: Greens are a STRANGE lot: you would think if they really CARED for the bush, you would occasionally run into them hiking, hunting, fishing etc – or that country electorates might well be represented by Greens members. As it is you never find them elsewhere than the inner city creating crazy hazards on bicycles! The clearly care NOTHING for the REAL bush: it is some imaginary world they wish to SAVE. It is strange also that areas they have (successfully?) ‘saved’ (for ‘future generations’) such as the Mt Darling-Snowy Bluff wilderness where I was last week (legally – though Spot wasn’t!) are closed to everyone EXCEPT deer hunters. No-one else may legally venture there (off track) - and they have closed all the tracks! (making any ‘management’ impossible. Just when it will become legal for ‘future generations’ to enjoy the ‘wilderness’ so protected is a mystery to me.
25/11/2014: Work Time: It is astonishing to me how many grumble about how much of a drag on their time work IS. Methinks: overmuch. I guess the ‘average’ Oz works @ 38 hours/week @ 48 weeks/year ie 1824 hours out of total hours per year of 8764 ie 20.8%. They do this for @ 50 of 80 years of their life (.625 of their time) resulting in a total of only 13% of their ‘allotted span’, giving them 87% of their time to be doing something else (worthwhile?) - And I am not counting: sick leave, maternity leave, long service leave…Maybe 90%?
24/11/2014: It’s been a bad year: I have not spent (much) more than a month sleeping outdoors, away from home this year – still, there are nearly six weeks to go! But I have been HERE (and many other beautiful places) - and you have a solid day’s WALK to get there:
23/11/2014: Hard to BELIEVE a third of a century has wafted by since we last watched the excellent movie, ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ waiting for our first-born to arrive. Della would rather have hurried to the hospital and miss the end of the movie (Unthinkable!), AND she could not believe I also had to wash my feet before I drove her there. She can still be as impatient and I as eccentric, but all three of us are still here together today. Wonderful!
22/11/2014: SUPPORT Peter Spencer! We were among the thousands of Australian farmers who were ROBBED of hundreds of thousands of dollars by this tyranny. Read the full article and maybe DONATE, as we have done: http://joannenova.com.au/2014/11/peter-spencer-versus-the-commonwealth-starts-monday-in-the-federal-court-help-needed/
21/11/2014: WILDERNESS: Just spent a couple of days with Spot in the heart of the Snowy Bluff-Mt Darling Wilderness (@1500 metres). The ‘easy’ way in is to follow the old ‘Carey Rd’ (closed 20 years ago) 200 metres on the right before Dimmicks lookout (off the Howitt Rd above Licola). It deteriorates to (virtually) impenetrable thickets occasioned by wildfire regrowth (especially after the Mt Darling Gap – which would make a reasonable day walk), but it represents a reasonable ‘line’ to take. There is an old hunter’s camp at the first crossing of that Mount Darling Creek (which is a tributary of the Carey), but it has been unvisited for a long time (just too thick to hunt) and still very short on wildlife after that devastating fire event. Just before the second crossing of the creek you break out onto a pleasant snowgrass plain/valley which is the last water on the ‘track’ to Mt Darling. We camped here but did not have a fire due to the flammability of the poa tussock. Spent hours trying to fight our way up the ridge towards Mt Darling. I guess we turned back just before the Billabong (mountain - weird name). Just so many dead-falls of fire-killed snow gums and heath regrowth which wear you out stepping over them. I was not carrying enough water to camp at Mt Darling. It was a hot day (despite BOM predictions – yet they know what it will be like in a century!) and I turned back when we had consumed half the three litres I was carrying. WARNING: water could be a problem. There was one small trickle on the side of the track @ half way to the first crossing of Mt Darling Creek (3 hours). I’d guess water is pretty reliable there but might dry up at the head (another hour) in the summer. After that: nothing!
18/11/2014: If I ever think to feel sorry for folks in wheelchairs it is because they can no longer CHOOSE to pursue a path other than one already laid down by others. Some WHERE a wheel can go. Where a wheel can go is necessarily more constrained (less free) than where a foot can go. Most less (physically) constrained folk do NOT CHOOSE to travel farther than their ‘handicapped’ brethren. Though they may be quite peripatetic (and clock up many thousands of kilometres annually on their personal odometers), such migrations are almost exclusively on ways already prepared by others: defined routes: roads, rail, airplanes…So little of most people’s life journeys are where muscle and sinew alone will take them, through wilderness: on foot or by canoe, for example. My feeling is that NOTHING ELSE (except mayhap IMAGINATION) comprises a JOURNEY at all! Journey’s end is maybe a peak somewhere (Mt Darling?) or a shady spot by a river. Beyond EVERY such ‘end’ is another journey: other peaks extend over the horizon; around the river’s bend fresh vistas beckon, there remains yet another remote beach…all such travel is very simple: place ONE foot firmly in front of another. Repeat.
16/11/2014: Baggage: Most folks (seem to) like nothing better than lugging vast chunks of stuff around. They require huge boxes (buildings) to cram it into, and huge wheeled thingummies to cart it all around in, all of which usually means they WASTE vast chunks of time acquiring, paying for and maintaining it all (worrying about whether someone will steal it & etc) and very little time actually going places, doing things or even just ‘smelling the roses,’ all of which is just kind of SAD. All of this largesse is supposed to be better than a gunyah! Maybe not. The two LIGHTEST shelters I have encountered are Six Moon Designs ‘Gatewood Cape http://www.sixmoondesigns.com/tarps/GatewoodCape.html [named after Emma Gatewood the first (67 year old) woman to through-hike the entire Appalacian trail] (313 grams) which DOUBLES as a raincoat & Zpacks ‘Solo Plus Tarp’ 210 grams = http://www.zpacks.com/shelter/hexamid_plus.shtml) . Both require a floor (which adds @ 100 grams) which in Zpack’s case could be http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/groundsheet_poncho.shtml (@ 144-177 grams) which also doubles as a raincoat. Either of these does away with that EXCESS BAGGAGE and makes a most satisfactory ‘gunyah’, all you really need to sit out a wet day/night in and watch the passing parade (of wildlife/wild flowers etc) from…
16/11/2014: Life Expectancy: For many years we have had the (companion) books ‘Man’s (and Woman’s) Body/ies’ (1976). Though they have dated somewhat (as have WE!) over the four decades we have owned them, they still contain many fascinating titbits: This, for example, the ‘Life Expectancy’ charts (at B01-04). Here you can see (that in 1976) the ‘average 25 year old’s (me then) ‘life expectancy was 70 (men) or 77 (women). For comparison the average 65 year old’s (me now) was 78 (men) and 82 (woman). We are told now that (in the ensuing 40 years) average life expectancy has increased by @ one year per decade. QUALITY of life might NOT have! Surprisingly now (at 65) I am likely to live 8 more years than I was likely to (live) when I was 25! Eight more years than my 25 year old daughter even – which seems counter-intuitive! How is this so? Well, I have (so far) avoided) all the things which killed my peers who did not survive (as I have) to 65. The gloomy aspect of such forecasts (as ‘life expectancy’) is that they are AVERAGES. The average 65 year old man (in 1976) was like to live to 78. Obviously half would not (else it would not be an average). What you hope (mayhap foolishly!) is that you will be in the former 50%! (and not spend the few years gained slumped on a chair in some corner dribbling and soiling yourself.) It is worth remembering that Cecil Rhodes died in his forties, having achieved massive wealth and renown, eg having had TWO whole COUNTRIES (NOW Zambia = Northern and Zimbabwe = Southern Rhodesia – how FLEETING fame IS) named after himself, the only person in all history to my knowledge who achieved THAT! It is worth remembering, that it is not how LONG you live but how WELL you live which COUNTS!
16/11/2014: Gerber Knives: For lightness (and cheapness) I recommend: http://au.gerbergear.com/Essentials/Knives/LST-Knife_46009 @ 34 grams, blade = 6.7cm (2¼”) & http://au.gerbergear.com/Essentials/Knives/Ultralight-LST-Knife_460502 @ 17 grams, blade = 5cm (1.9”) and their Pocket Sharpener http://www.knifecenter.com/item/GB4307/Gerber-Ceramic-Pocket-Sharpener @ 14 grams. Both knives PLUS the sharpener shouldn’t set you back more than @ $25!
14/11/2014: The Leatherman Micra is the greatest mini-tool I have encountered so far (@51 grams). I always have one in my pocket AND in my hiking pack. NOTHING I have discovered is as good for cutting one’s toe-nails – a vital safety precaution on multi-day hikes when toe-nail problems can lead to disaster! http://www.leatherman.com/20.html If you want to skip a few features you might go for their skeletonised version: http://www.leatherman.com/24.html#start=21
14/11/2014: INTERNET: We have been struggling for three weeks plus with a dying connection/service and have finally bitten the bullet and signed up for the (Fixed Wireless) NBN with Aussie Broadband (a local Australian company with local Australian employees and support – what a great PLUS THAT is!) who installed it yesterday. Such a change. For example I have finally been able to update my various web pages which had become corrupted/stalled (eg http://www.finnsheep.com/Ultralight%20Hiking.htm which SEEMS to be working again this morning). We are receiving a little under 20 megs, which is a long way up on the 6 megs which was the best we achieved with ADSL2+ and a lot up on the ZERO our DSL is delivering right now. We will still fight (the Philippines!) to have our DSL service repaired (as an emergency backup) as the NBN have mysteriously sited their tower in the bush behind us (which NEARLY burned in the 2009 fires). As we have a persistent arsonist in the area who must be really chuffed with his success with the Hazelwood Mine Fire last summer, we can EXPECT him to strike again, so our internet service IS vulnerable.
13/11/2014: I bought these watch bands on eBay for $1.99. I think they are great because you don’t lose the watch if you snag it on some brush or a vine and tear out one of the pins (which happens). I also added a wrist compass ($3.99) which makes this Seiko auto-winder ($49.99) set-up just about perfect:
11/11/2014: IMMORTALITY and HAPPINESS: I read the other day that (at Age 65 = ME) having plans reduces your chance of dying by X + 10%, on which reckoning I should live forever: because I will NEVER get all the things done I PLAN to do! Here’s some other good advice: 22 Habits of Unhappy People: Chronic Complaining, Retail Therapy, Binge Drinking, Worrying About the Future, Waiting for the Future, Lack of Hobbies, Eating Poorly, Talking Poorly of Others, Holding Grudges, Stopping Learning, Not Following Through, Hating Your Job, Loneliness (How you Choose to Socialize), Letting Negative Thoughts Enter Your Mind, Jumping to Conclusions, Magnification, Minimization, Self Labelling, Not Having a Goal, Worrying What Others Think, Letting Strangers Affect Your Mood, Wanting More Money, Stuff You Should Read: http://www.infobarrel.com/22_Habits_of_Unhappy_People
10/11/2014: Two reasons some people don’t like camping: it is wet AND cold, and uncomfortable. This does not have to BE. A properly positioned tarp and a fire will take care of the former: the usual 1m tall hiking tent which you are forced to retreat to in the event of rain will make your trip unpleasant (wet & cold). For many years I have employed a square tarp (2.4 x 2.4 metres is sufficient) pitched diagonally against (eg) a tree with a fire out in front. I have added ‘wings’ to such a tarp to improve the shelter. You will have seen this in some of my previous posts. Scroll back through (http://www.finnsheep.com/Ultralight%20Hiking.htm) to see what I mean. As to the second: you need an inflatable INSULATED pad (a good ultralight pillow will also help) at least 2 ½” thick. I have found the Thermarest womens-neoair-xlite (http://www.cascadedesigns.com/therm-a-rest/mattresses/fast-and-light/womens-neoair-xlite/product) to be superb (R=3.9, 340 grams) but it IS expensive. If you are a bit shorter of cash (AND Stronger) Big Agnes’ pads @ R= 4.1 (eg the petite @ 499 grams) http://www.moontrail.com/bigagnes-insulatedaircorepads-78-mummy.php are quite wonderful! I would couple either with an Exped UL pillow (@ 45 grams) eg http://www.moontrail.com/exped-airpillow-ul-m.php ) and a good quality down bag for a delightful night’s sleep in the outdoors.
09/11/2014: Western Tyers is beautiful. Victoria (yet) has many other lovely rivers/streams where you can camp undisturbed (especially weekdays!) Some other examples: Latrobe (above Moe), Mitta (above Blue Duck), Avon (above Wombat Crossing), Haunted Stream, Nicholson (above Deptford), Snowy (above Orbost), Tambo (above Bruthen), Wellington (above Licola), Macalister (above Licola), Moroka (above Licola), Caledonia, Ben Cruachan Creek, Valencia Creek, Wonnangatta (above Waterford), Dargo (above Dargo), Freestone Creek (above Briagalaong), Goulburn (above Woods Point), etc, etc…
08/11/2014: Escaping the heat: The Western Tyers is the BEST place I know to spend a couple of hot days: nestled under the South face of Mt Baw Baw, enclosed by Antarctic Beech and majestic Mountain Ash, it is always a lovely spot on such a day. You can brave the icy water (if you dare) or just lounge around in the shade on a folding chair, betimes catching the odd spinyback crayfish or mountain trout - or a platypus if your fancy so takes you: the dogs bark at them but have so far failed to bag one. I have wondered how platypus tails would GO with lobster tails! To get there you head up the main road to Erica from Moe, take the Tanjil Bren turn-off just after Wild Cow Track, travel 13 km and turn right at the first track after the 13 km post (Palmers Track, not signposted) shortly after Beynons Creek Rd. Palmers Track is fine (but not after rain) for light SULs such as Subarus down to the river at the old Palmers Mill/Bridge sites where there are two campsites. The Western Tyers ROAD (!) along the river is now only suitable for real 4WDs, though 30 years ago when we discovered it lots of folks made it in Kingswoods! The Western Tyers Rd parallels the river for many kms usually less than 10 metres away. There are a number of pleasant unofficial campsites. It IS possible to canoe the river from Growlers (possibly from Christmas Creek – another fine campsite) down to the old bridge at Western Tyers and I have done so many times years ago, though I doubt anyone else ever has. There is a spectacular (@ Grade 4) chute and drop just below Growlers where the old rail line diverged from the road. It is possible to walk around it. You can walk the old rail line down to Palmers (rough going nowadays) but you will catch many trout etc in that remote stretch of river. I planned once to clear the river for canoeing all the way from eg Growlers to the Morwell Pumping Station at Wirilda Park (off the Tyers-Yallourn North Rd). I have from time to time cleared sections of it and canoed others. I estimate it would produce a trip of around a week’s duration containing some superb fishing and some wonderful campsites – and so CLOSE! I did some work on a couple of the worst bog holes on the Western Tyers Rd (to make them navigable) and will do some more next time I am there, (soon I hope). The kids will want to come NEXT time after they see the crays we brought home this time!
05/11/2014: The FUTURE: what WILL it be like? First of all we will (soon) have virtually free, virtually unlimited energy from nuclear fusion with generators sized according to need: ones maybe as big as a railway engine or two to power a fair sized city to ones the size of a shoebox to power a homestead. With such abundant energy we will be able to do and have anything we wish. We will not have to chase rich lodes of ore in inaccessible places to harness the resources we need. Any piece of rock, earth or water will be able to be broken down easily into its component elements to provide whatever resource we need, whenever we need it. Such unlimited energy will make growing food completely independent of seasons, indeed independent of available light, water and nutrients as we will easily be able to provide all these. There will be no shortage of food, and most of the land now used to produce it will be returned to nature. Indeed, we will rework photosynthesis. It is dependent on rubisco, the best that nature has evolved, but we will re-engineer photosynthesis with more efficient processes so that plants will yield many times what they are capable of now. Both these things will happen in YOUR lifetime, possibly within a decade. Poverty and want will completely vanish. And this is only the beginning: we WILL have habitats at the L5 points and on the moon and Mars in the next twenty years. Life expectations will soon soar by 20-50 years! The future will be MUCH better than the past…
05/11/2014: There is a drug you can take (one of the mescalin derivatives I think) which will give ANYONE a ‘religious experience’ – I won’t be taking it though! Conversely, there ought to be a drug (surely soon?) which will reverse (such) delusions, so that folks of a religious bent will be completely cured of their insanity. There will be much contention about whether THAT should be added to the water supply!
04/11/2014: Of COURSE, to be a tad over-weight (or even gloriously so) is a delicious and sensible life-choice: As one watches one’s avoirdupois friends slipping quietly and painlessly away (in a heartbeat, so to speak) at the breakfast table over a large plate of pancakes piled high with butter, cream and jam, and compares that to the suffering of one’s thin, ‘fit’ friends’ suffering horribly (usually in denial) from some nasty, incurable cancer, one naturally reaches for another can of condensed milk, another croissant, another delightful can of beer, another incomparable Lindt chocolate & etc. Who WOULD want to suffer needlessly, when there is SO MUCH life to be enjoyed?
04/11/2014: It is bizarre that folks can view a glacier ‘calving’ and see this as evidence of global warming when it is the weight of ice above which causes the calving; ie if the glacier was warming, there would be LESS ice ( ie less snow) above, so it would NOT calve…and so on…
02/11/2014: I guess one of the great pleasures of canoeing is that you so rarely see anyone else canoeing. In 25 years canoeing (various sections) of the Macalister (for example) we ran into other canoeists just once. On that occasion one of them STOLE my spare paddle, which would have left me quite literally ‘up the creek…’ except I had another. I could NOT persuade police to CHARGE this piece of slime (eg with ‘conduct endangering life’), but I did succeed in having him sacked from his job as he was driving a company car with a prominent (Japanese Co) logo (whom when I rang them) they did not want to have associated with such conduct. The further you get away from people, the more civilised it gets (in my experience). I am all FOR bad roads (or NO roads at all!) Mind you this morning I AM feeling for the (fellow) hiker who offered me a lift on Friday when we were canoeing the Macalister. He was heading for a multi-day hike in the Bryce’s Gorge area (I suggested a few interesting side trips he might take and pointed out to him the location of an abandoned hut he might seek shelter in in the event of bad weather. Mind you, whilst I knew the weekend might bring some RAIN, I did not realise then that there would be (lots of) snow down to 1200 metres, so he will be VERY cold this morning, and hopefully he found shelter. You DO have to remember that BLIZZARD conditions can occur at any time of the year (quite unexpectedly) in the Victorian Alps! It PAYS to be prepared which is why I ALWAYS carry a spare paddle – and various other aids to survival…a .308 comes in handy betimes too!
01/11/2014: MACALISTER RIVER: We have been canoeing various sections of this river for over 25 years. Our favourite section has been: Basin Flat to Cheynes Bridge. This is one of the few rivers you can canoe with one vehicle by hitch hiking as the road parallels and comes back to the river . I guess you could do the same on sections of the Wonnangatta, Mitta etc. We normally drop the boats off on the river bank at Basin Flat and drive the car back to Cheynes Bridge, park conspicuously on the road, then put the thumb out. The first car usually figures you have broken down, so you are back at Basin Flat within about 40 minutes of dropping the boats off. We did this trip again yesterday (30C). This is getting to be a trip which we would (probably) enjoy more as a two dayer (we ARE getting older) but also the wider river (following fires, floods, willow removal, etc) has slowed the trip down somewhat, so that what used to take 4 hours has crept up to nearer 5-6. The dogs and portages slowed us down a lot. If I did a bit of work on some of the timber down, and cleared some of the trickier rapids a bit, it would speed it up. I did this years ago when we used to run it regularly in four hours. This MAY happen, but there are so many other things to do…There are some nice places to camp, so it should best be considered as a weekend trip. There are lots of fish to catch, and numerous deer, so the extra day can be well-spent! The river height on the Licola gauge yesterday was 1.68, quite adequate water. 1.7 is really nice. I feel you could still have an enjoyable trip with some more portages 50mm lower than this, say a minimum of 1.63. I would say it would be a bit too dangerous over 1.8 metres.
01/11/2014: Tin Canoes: I have been canoeing for a long time now…nearly sixty years: when we were primary school age we used to make tin canoes out of a sheet of corrugated iron, usually tacked to a plank front and stern, tar-sealed, the side edges folded and hammered flat so we didn’t cut ourselves to pieces. Paddles made from a straight tree branch with a couple of pieces of flat plank nailed on. We had to wait till the creek was running a ‘banker’ before we could try it out. It is a wonder really we are still alive (well, most of us). It was a different childhood to the cosseted suburban video-game ‘heaven’ most youngsters ‘endure today. Thank goodness our own children got to spend a lot of their childhood in the forest, on our wild rivers, growing up on a farm & etc.
31/10/2014: I recently posted about the BCB Fishing Kit (10.5 grams). The ‘Speedhook/s’ might be a useful addition to (a couple of) these. Pack of six US$20.95. Nothing like a set line overnight to provide for the hungry, lazy hiker that fish breakfast (or maybe platypus?) in paradise: http://www.speedhook.com/servlet/the-1/Speedhook/Detail
30/10/2014: One of my (remote) French ancestors (a Sanlaville) won a Legion of Honour in Napoleon’s wars. It is interesting to see these photos of Napoleonic War veterans. Retronaut is AMAZING: http://mashable.com/2014/10/27/napoleonic-wars-veterans/?utm_cid=mash-com-fb-main-link
30/10/2014: In the States lots of people are contracting Lyme disease (http://sectionhiker.com/hiking-and-lyme-disease-revised-estimates-from-the-cdc-indicate-us-infection-rate-is-10-times-more-prevalent-than-previously-reported/) from infected ticks when hiking. The disease is not yet here, but we have plenty of ticks/leeches which can be unpleasant. Usually I just tuck the ends of my trousers into my socks, but a gaiter will also help prevent things from falling into the tops of your shoes. Trouble is, most gaiters are far too heavy and increase the energy needed for hiking enormously. There ARE a couple of ultra-light gaiters available however, which weigh less than two ounces per pair such as: http://sectionhiker.com/montbell-stretch-semi-long-spats-in-other-words-gaiters/ & http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=37&products_id=114
29/10/2014: Why ARE people POOR? I think there are a lot of people who would benefit from this advice (if they were willing to TAKE it!). Every day I see folks around me making the most spectacularly BAD financial decisions (only later to lament them as a form of victimhood - eg ‘Why/Poor me?’). The decision to not be poor can be as simple as deciding to grow/cook your own food (instead of take-aways/restaurants) or realising you don’t need a new shirt/pair of shoes; you don’t need to buy a new car, when yours has only done (eg) 150K, ie it is NEWER than any car I have bought in the last 30 years! You don’t need that large house; you don’t need someone ELSE to build it; you don’t need that expensive overseas holiday when you have not even seen 1% of Victoria’s Alps or rivers. And etc, etc: http://pjmedia.com/drhelen/2014/09/29/how-not-to-be-poor/?repeat=w3tc
27/10/2014: Mobile Phones: so many things to know…When buying one you really need to check out the frequencies covered, eg it must have 3G = 850 to function on Telstra’s nextG network, which offers superior connectivity in rural areas. Nearly ALL Samsung phones have an external antenna connection point under the back cover (you MAY have to drill, or the antenna/patch lead suppliers may supply a pre-drilled cover, eg http://telcoantennas.com.au/site/samsung-galaxy-s4-patch-lead-and-back-cover-combo ). You also need to really check all the phone features (eg here: http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_i9190_galaxy_s4_mini-5375.php) BEWARE: most of the dual SIM phones do NOT offer nextG connectivity. Bizarrely, some (quite high-end) phones do not have wi-fi, GPS or a radio & etc. To utilise the excellent Avenza Pdf maps app, you will need a phone above Android @ 4.1 (some are upgradeable) AND a certain amount of (internal) memory. This IS an excellent App for bushwalking, 4WDriving & etc as it allows you to download (eg) Vicmaps & utilise GPS on them. It IS also possible to convert other maps to GPS AND to ‘geo-reference’ maps which aren’t (More about this later). DUAL SIM is useful particularly if you want pre-paid DATA, but don’t want to lug around an additional device (which you have to charge separately). These folk (http://www.magic-sim.com.au/) have an add-on dual Sim gadget which fits most phones (for less than $50) which will allow you to do this (or have two providers eg Telstr a AND Optus). Very few phones fit in your pocket nowadays (ie are less than 5”/125mm long) ; rare exceptions are the Samsung Galaxy Y, Ace, and S4 Mini.
26/10/2014: Surprise news from our Jeeralang menagerie! Yesterday Steve attached a new flight to the aviary inhabited by our pair of delightful dusky lorikeets. Today he went to replace their old, dilapidated nest box with a new model in the hope that they might breed this season (their first spring outdoors). He took the old nest-box down and noticed funny noises within (Yes, despite his deafness!)...and lo and behold: a downy chick! It must be about 2 weeks old according to my lorikeet book. Who knew! Secretive Rusty and Goldie! Steve suggested "Rufus" for a name - sounds perfect to me! I have attached a pic of proud dad, Rusty, (not a recent pic) for those who don't know how beautiful dusky lorikeets are! The aviary extension was clearly well-timed!
26/10/2014: Touch-feely lefties are just too hard to take: http://patch.com/michigan/royaloak/death-threats-aimed-boy-11-who-bagged-rare-albino-deer Maybe should be read in conjunction with this: http://clashdaily.com/2014/07/hunting-conserves-study-says-deer-hunting-helps-replenish-forests/
26/10/2014: Things to worry about: Solar flares: ‘NOAA forecasters estimate an 85% chance of M-class flares and a 45% chance of X-flares on Oct. 24th.’ Missed, I guess. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/10/24/massive-x-class-flare-erupts-from-the-sunspot-2192/
26/10/2014: It is important to KNOW THIS: ‘Natural’ gas is NOT (necessarily) a ‘fossil’ fuel (This MAY mean that it is virtually unlimited. NB No ‘fracking’ produced these flames). These flames have been burning for 2500 YEARS: ‘Abiotic methane ordinarily only forms at temperatures much higher than those that occur in the rocks at Yanartaş. However ruthenium, is present in the igneous rocks under the flames, and is believed to act as a catalyst, permitting the formation of methane at the lower temperatures (i.e., below 100 °C) that occur at Yanartaş…These vents represent the biggest emission of abiogenic methane discovered on land so far. The emissions do not have a volcanic origin, since methane is not related to mantle or magma degassing...’
25/10/2014: Wisdom…There's More to Life Than Being Happy…Meaning comes from the pursuit of more complex things than happiness: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/01/theres-more-to-life-than-being-happy/266805/?single_page=true
“The pessimist resembles a man who observes with fear and sadness that his wall calendar, from which he daily tears a sheet, grows thinner with each passing day. On the other hand, the person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a man who removes each successive leaf from his calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after first having jotted down a few diary notes on the back. He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on all the life he has already lived to the fullest. What will it matter to him if he notices that he is growing old? Has he any reason to envy the young people whom he sees, or wax nostalgic over his own lost youth? What reasons has he to envy a young person? For the possibilities that a young person has, the future which is in store for him?
More great quotes here: http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/2782.Viktor_E_Frankl You can get a free copy here: http://new-free-pdf.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/man-search-for-meaning-by-viktor-frankl.html
25/10/2014: What sort of weird place is New Hampshire – where you are ALLOWED to go fishing on a bicycle. Really? SUVs should surely be compulsory: http://www.surflandbt.com/october-17-sams-first-keeper-and-the-fish-bicycle/
24/10/2014: Spent a couple of nights camped by the Moroka River, one at Horseyard Flat. Beautiful weather. Great mid-week company. No-one but Della and the two JRs, who were born in Australia, pay their taxes on dog food, vet supplies & etc, so are entitled to share our beautiful National Parks with us! A.B.Guthrie on the ereader! Walked in to the lovely Moroka Falls in the Snowy Bluff Wilderness. Della’s ankle is improving all the time, but is not yet up to multi-day 5-8 hour walks over rough country. Soon, perhaps. Will need to be cooler weather (than today), high up (temperature decreases by @ 1C per 100 metres elevation) or further South. Baw Baw Plateau or the Sealers Cove Circuit (on Wilsons Prom) are short-term possibilities. The South Coast Walk in Fiordland is still on the agenda (maybe early autumn next year, rather than late summer this year because of the ankle). Soon we will be off canoeing (Macalister, Wonnangatta, etc). Today (32C) would be a great day, but Della has declared it a ‘rest’ day – presumably more suitable for working in the heat!
21/10/2014: Hiking Food: There are quite a few suggestions and recipes here. I admit I hadn’t thought of using bulgur as an alternative to rice, pasta, couscous, etc, but it does have a different taste, so I will try it out. This guy has a ready-made recipe. Not sure whether it would be to my taste or not: http://sectionhiker.com/apricot-lovers-quick-cooking-bulgur-wheat/
20/10/2014: BCB Fishing Kit: I reckon this is about as good as it gets for a lightweight hiking hand caster @ 10 grams (inc. line). It has a handy notch for holding the line from unravelling when not in use. The kits are available from the UK for @$7 delivered if you buy half a dozen. Good stocking fillers! Once you have caught ONE 200 gram trout or blue cod you will think it was worth carrying one in your pack. The Eneloop AA battery is shown for contrast, but if you haven’t yet made the switch to these rechargeable batteries which retain almost full charge for over a year(!), you should! http://www.bcbin.com/products/product_details.php?category=marine&product=Survival%20Food%20and%E2%80%88Water
20/10/2014: Della: ‘Ankle sprain close to mended now. We went for a therapeutic trial walk along the lovely George Bass Coastal Walk yesterday and completed around 8km without ankle pain. Might be able to attempt something more uneven next week! The dogs had a lovely time too, as verified by Tiny's big grin on the sand of Half Moon Bay!’
19/10/2014: You would think Himalayan trekkers would all carry something like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=al4UUSAd5yQ ‘Live and learn or you won’t live long’! http://www.lifesystems.co.uk/products/outdoor-survival/4-person-survival-shelter.html The new breathable ‘Escape Bivy’ (http://www.adventuremedicalkits.com/survival/survive-outdoors-longer-escape-litetm-bivvy-1.html) @ 157 grams is surely a must in your day pack along with (eg) something like this to keep your dry and warm (http://www.adventuremedicalkits.com/survival/survive-outdoors-longer-survival-poncho.html) @ 65 grams. Surely a small price to pay (both in weight and dollars) to save your life.
19/10/2014: Before James Harrison (Geelong) invented refrigeration meat in Australia was effectively free as sheep and cows could only be killed for their skins and fat. At one point four MILLION sheep carcasses were thrown into the Murray river annually at Echuca (thus creating giant cod). Some other interesting Australian inventions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Australian_inventions
18/10/2014: I LIKE this guy…read the whole article; it will make your day, ‘And I neither dismiss nor fail to appreciate the advances of the modern era. They have improved the lives of Americans in immeasurable ways. But what such arguments fail to acknowledge is that I am actually pining for the missing element of those bygone days; that sense of self-reliance and a belief that no matter how bad things get, the individual and the family can persevere and find a way through. That’s what’s missing. Were you able to combine that survival driven spirit with the multitudinous advantages offered by current technology, you might indeed see paradise just over the horizon. But you’ll never arrive at that horizon on the back of technology and government insistence alone’ : http://hotair.com/archives/2014/10/14/the-end-of-the-era-of-personal-responsibility/
17/10/2014: WOW! If these guys really have CRACKED it, this discovery will change the world more quickly and more profoundly than anything which has happened in the last 200 years. Just watch Greens get behind it too – I don’t think! http://directorblue.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/a-compact-fusion-reactor-that-could.html#more
17/10/2014: What It’s Like to Carry Your Nobel Prize through Airport Security: “They’re like, ‘Sir, there’s something in your bag.’ I said, ‘Yes, I think it’s this box.’ They said, ‘What’s in the box?’ I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does. So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’ I said, ‘gold.’ And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’ ‘The King of Sweden.’ ‘Why did he give this to you?’ ‘Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’ At which point, they were beginning to lose their sense of humour. I explained to them it was a Nobel Prize, and their main question was, ‘Why were you in Fargo?’”http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2014/10/10/nobel-prize-airport-security/
17/10/2014: GREAT questions of our time: Is pepper aphrodisiacal? Can we bear to be without it? LOVE pepper myself. There was a time when it was very much more valuable (when the term, ‘peppercorn rent’ meant EXPENSIVE). At the height of this trade you could send out a dozen ships (to the Indies, aka Indonesia) and if only ONE returned turn a 1,000% profit! Medieval food was SO bland (months of salted/smoked/dried meat/stuff) that you would pay anything to spice it up a bit. Of course pepper’s value fell dramatically after the British captured India making many interesting spices available, and especially after the Australians invented refrigeration, making ‘fresh’ food available year round!
16/10/2014: On January 20, 1961, Robert Frost spoke at John F. Kennedy's inauguration. The snow-glare made it impossible for him to read his new poem for the occasion (he was 87 years old), so he recited a better poem, ‘The Gift Outright’, from memory:
15/10/2014: Always loved Bruegels’ dogs (and Thurber’s!). An interesting analysis of their breeds: I think the hound in the right foreground could be taken right out of the painting and used (as a bloodhound) to hunt sambar deer in Victoria today. http://neveryetmelted.com/2014/10/11/bruegels-hunting-dogs/
13/10/2014: We have many wonderful ‘wilderness areas’ in Victoria, defined by both their remoteness and there not being any tracks or roads in an area of @ 100 square Km. I have been studying my maps. Mt Darling-Snowy Bluff Wilderness, here I come! Several interesting days hiking to come. I think I will walk up the ridge at the Moroka-Wonnangatta Junction (or the Mt Darling Creek junction) to @ Dimmicks (anyway Mount Creek – there is apparently a hut there @ 832705), then on to Mt Darling, then walk down the other ridge to the Mt Darling Creek Junction thus circumnavigating (most of) Mt Darling Creek. Very weather dependent though. Along the river bottoms the Wonnangatta-Moroka is about 3-5C warmer than here, but along the tops is probably 10C colder. Then there is the 1” of rain today and half an inch tomorrow…I HOPE this trip doesn’t have to wait until autumn.
12/10/2014: TAMARILLOS: What a great fruit they are, even if short-lived – you MAY need to plant a couple every other year to keep yourself in fresh fruit, but they take up very little space (@ 2 metre circle) and have delicious fresh fruit all through August, September, October – just when there IS a bit of a shortage (apart from citrus) and greenhouse strawberries, etc. We both love them and reckon we could consume the produce of 3-4 trees. We have three now, but will add a couple more when I see them in the nursery. They usually cost under $10 a tree too. Of course you could grow them from seed too I imagine.
11/10/2014: ANTS are fascinating. Here’s E.O. Wilson: ‘The Trailhead Queen was dead. At first, there was no overt sign that her long life was ending: no fever, no spasms, no farewells. She simply sat on the floor of the royal chamber and died. As in life, her body was prone and immobile, her legs and antennae relaxed. Her stillness alone failed to give warning to her daughters that a catastrophe had occurred for all of them. She lay there, in fact, as though nothing had happened. She had become a perfect statue of herself. While humans and other vertebrates have an internal skeleton surrounded by soft tissue that quickly rots away, ants are encased in an external skeleton; their soft tissues shrivel into dry threads and lumps, but their exoskeletons remain, a knight’s armor fully intact long after the knight is gone. Hence the workers were at first unaware of their mother’s death. Her quietude said nothing, and the odors of her life, still rising from her, signalled, I remain among you. She smelled alive…’ Read on here: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/01/25/trailhead
10/10/2014: Camera Phones: I see Lumia (1020) has now included a 41 Megapixel camera on its latest phone (compare Samsung Galaxy K with 20Mp & 10x zoom: http://www.samsung.com/au/consumer/mobile-phone/smartphone/smartphone/SM-C1150ZKAXSA & Samsung-Galaxy-S4-Zoom with 16 Mp & 10x zoom) ). It won’t be long before the equivalent of 100 Megs is exceeded. The days of the camera ARE numbered. Likewise most other devices. Samsung Galaxy S5 ‘Active’ is waterproof to 3’. The Xolo Win Q900s is set to break the 100 gram barrier, & etc, etc. I need to reappraise my use of such devices. I was turned off by a 7” Samsung Galaxy Tab I bought which I NOW believe has a number of weird faults (I HAD thought that there was some incompatibility between me and touch screens, but I have been playing with Della’s Galaxy Note 1 - and it WORKS). She tried my Tab and encountered the self-same problems I have with it. When hiking (for eg) if there IS no service (or wifi) these features can be turned off. The screen can be set to black and white for ebook reading (to save power). You can turn the GPS off (and on when you need a fix) and just carry the phone as a camera in ‘sleep’ mode. I need to see how long the battery will last in these circumstances. I see I can buy (spare) batteries for her Note (43 grams ea) from eBay for $6ea (delivered!), and an external charger. If one can scale back power usage when hiking and carry a few spare batteries, (and/or figure a lightweight way to recharge them) it might be a viable alternative to a whole host of other devices. You can also now buy waterproof cases for a song! I am (also) playing with loading some topo maps (and the GPS feature) to see how this goes. It is hard to find them for Victoria, but I HAVE found a set,and an android programme which will use them and a way of adding georeferencing so that they work with GPS (mre later about maps) http://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/smartphones/nokia-lumia-1020
09/10/2014: Hard to understand: whilst the SURFACE of the SUN is @ 5700 Kelvin, its corona (outer atmosphere @ 1 million km out) is MILLIONS of degrees Kelvin. When you get THAT conundrum of atmospheric physics sorted out, come back to me about your quaint beliefs about global warming!
08/10/2014: A pretty good EPITAPH: ‘Dedicated to the Memory of G. Inestine B. Roberts aged 88 years who died at the timberline after her fourteenth ascent of Pikes Peak (Colorado 14,115 ft - on a plaque at the timber line there).
08/10/2014: Hiking Music #2: Sony ICD-UX (eg) 534F digital voice recorder includes an alarm clock @ 58 grams inc one AAA battery + hundreds of hours of music! http://www.sony.co.uk/support/en/product/ICD-UX534F/downloads/soundorganizer15
07/10/2014: The Quince is SUCH a wonderful tree, particularly now when it is in bloom, but also @ Easter time when it is laden with @ one tonne of delicious fruit suitable for a vast gourmanderie of tucker (not just Della’s quince jelly which I have praised before). It can also live hundreds of years with little or no attention. This lass has even written a book entirely in praise of the quince: http://queenofquince.com/accolades/
06/10/2014: There are many wonderful hiking circuits to be ‘found’ in the Victorian mountains. Just because the route is not marked on any map or DSE brochure ought not deter you. Some are quite long and would take a fortnight or so to complete. Others are shorter. The Wonnangatta, Dry Creek, Caledonia, Wellington, Moroka form such loop. The loop can be shortened (or indeed lengthened). I am thinking to head up the ridge from Mt Darling Creek to Mt Darling Saddle (to Dimmicks). This is in the ‘Mt Darling-Snowy Bluff Wilderness’. A clear route there will create a variety of one week loops for me. It is SO much easier to find your way UP a ridge than down! It will also give me an escape route when the Wonnangatta-Moroka floods and strands me upstream for ages (as happened to me a couple of years back). There are MANY great walks already. The Upper Yarra Trail heads from Warburton to Walhalla across the Baw Baw Plateau, for example (a great warm weather walk). You can even walk all the way from Warburton to Canberra, ‘The Australian Alps walking Track which takes 50-70 days! Worth putting on your ‘Bucket List.’ You can see the maps for this here: http://theaustralianalps.wordpress.com/experience/aawt/maps/
06/10/2014: ‘It’s the sun, stupid!’ STRANGE how there are so many folk who vie to ignore this important advice. Imagine searching for water in the Victorian mountains and concentrating your efforts on the North-West slopes instead of the South-East ones. Anyone who has wandered around in the bush for just a little while (unless they are exceedingly dull) will surely have noticed that the areas which are most shaded are also cooler and moister. The very instant you venture outside your air-conditioned holt, the Sun is obviously what dominates the weather (particularly temperature!). How can folk have failed to NOTICE just how much colder it is at night than in daytime - nearly 20C difference on average? Yet such is the attraction of ‘the butterfly effect’ that folk come to believe that a tiny quantum of exhalation (gas) shakes the world!
05/10/2014: GEAR freaks might enjoy this website I just discovered…I am already thinking about the Nemo Nocturne sleeping bag, and wondering whether I can fit all my gear in a 20 litre bucket (and I am only on Page 2!): http://sectionhiker.com/
04/10/2014: Alas, one of our Mountain Paw Paws (a male) has bitten the dust (and I have had to cut it up and remove it). His ‘lady’ is just about to burst from winter dormancy and has plenty of fruit on board, so I will have to plant some seeds (as you need at least one of each). They are interesting plants giving early lemonade tasting fruit. Apparently they only last about twenty years though:
04/10/2014: More news about the Franklin expedition including some accolades for the remarkable Dr John Rae: http: //wattsupwiththat.com/2014/09/15/weather-climate-arctic-ice-and-the-franklin-expedition/
03/10/2014: ‘Shenandoah’ (1965) staring James Stewart, ever one of my favourite actors (a WW2 airman who served in the USAF 27 years! So different from the current crop!) This is one of THE great movies. Set during the Civil War, it may give you an idea of what (constructive) anarchism might be like. The hero (James) pretty much holds Mercutio’s view ‘a plague on both your houses’. He is a Virginian, yet owns no slaves and made and works his land himself (with the aid of a bevy of excellent children – the girls of whom never needed Germaine to ‘liberate’ them!) so that the concept ‘Government’ is pretty much meaningless to him. Download a copy and settle in for a VERY enjoyable night’s viewing. ‘Shenandoah’ also was ever one of my favourite songs – so much so that I was minded to name my first-born thus. She MAY be grateful I did not!
02/10/2014: ‘A Million Ways to Die in the West’ 2014. This is a seriously FUNNY movie. I didn’t think Americans COULD actually make anything funny, but these guys did. There were several occasions where I had to exit the room choking and laughing, then rewind when I recovered (always a sign you enjoyed it). It’s NOT Monty Python (live) – which I also celebrate, and the humour IS a bit patchy, (some quite vulgar), but all in all, I highly recommend this movie!
02/10/2014: Renovated the strawberry bed; pulled all the plants, added 1 metre of new soil, lime, gypsum, fertiliser, replanted them, mulched with pea straw and added a Bunning’s tent greenhouse to one end to speed some on a bit. These little guys are suddenly looking much happier. Should be heaps of strawbs soon:
30/09/2014: Ultra Light DOG LEASH (8.5 grams): Mini ‘D’ carabiner 2.8 grams + 2mm spectra cord www.zpacks.com/accessories/carabiner.shtml Sometimes we have to walk on a ‘road’ aways or keep the dogs from ‘hunting’ some other pesky hiker, particularly in NPs (where the JRs have every right to be - they are Australians TOO, and pay all their taxes on dog food, etc!) Lately, the prevalence of unexpected fox baits makes getting the dogs under control important too, so these lightweight leashes are the answer. I KNOW I could have made them lighter with (black) dyneema, but I have run out of it. Great product: there is even a flat kind, good for shoe laces too perhaps.
30/09/2014: RELATIVISM: Multiculturalism maintains that all cultures are equally valid and that all should be allowed to flourish amongst us (presumably no matter how repugnant they are to the majority of us, to common decency, to the common law, common sense & etc). ‘Multiculturalism’ though, is itself a ‘culture’, which has no more ‘validity’ than any other – so why should IT take precedence? I sense an infinite regress in their argument right there. The true fallacy of any ‘relativism’ though is that it is impossible to define anything exclusively ‘in relation to’ something else. There has to be a timeless quality against which such ‘relations’ can be measured, (eg ‘Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the world,’ as Archimedes of Syracuse said in his formulation of the principles of mechanics). ‘O no; it is an ever-fixed mark, That looks on tempests, and is never shaken; It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.’ (Shakespeare Sonnet 116) It is these ‘timeless’ values which ‘civilised’ society has ever been at pains to define eg in the American Declaration of Independence, viz: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’. Similarly, British society has ever striven to define the natures of ‘good’, ‘duty’, justice, etc in the Law and in public morals. If we cast aside the history and contribution of the English speaking peoples, we abandon ourselves to the chaos of relativism, to multiculturalism at our extreme peril…(NB Hosea 8:7: ‘they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind’)
29/09/2014: SONGBIRD: This old grey thrush has nested in a hole in our house wall for @ 25 years! It is a hole I should have filled in, but it is her home too! I wonder what age these birds live to? She has started early on her first clutch this year; odd years she raises three – one year totalling nine offspring. Birds are very productive. Her efforts over the years have filled our little valley with beautiful bird song. WHAT a treasure:
28/09/2014: Finnsheep: You may not know that for over twenty years we have been the foremost breeders of Finnsheep in Australia. This is an ancient Scandinavian (short-tailed) breed with long, fine lustrous wool and the capacity to lamb in ‘litters’ (typically 3-4) and even twice per year. In Finland (under intensive management) a Finn ewe can raise in excess of ten lambs in a single year. Here is one of our ewes with her five lambs. This is our website: http://www.finnsheep.com/index.html:
27/09/2014: Renovations to Della’s potting shed continue. It was once the original owners’ cream house. She now has shelves and hooks (and the original door back in place). She has been doing a bit of painting (as you can see). The roof renovation will have to wait until the (nearby) soil is firm enough so I won’t fall off the ladder. I also need to build a step (to forestall more sprained ankles!) Spot (as always) enjoys helping:
26/09/2014: Spent yesterday traipsing (16km) around the Upper Jordan catchment, once the richest alluvial goldfield in the world (the average 3.6 metre square 'paddock' yielded 200 ounces of gold!) with Spot and my two 'boys' Bryn & Matt. We found an old boiler surrendering itself to the forest amid a welter of other old mining equipment, as well as the ruins of two old miner's huts, one of which still enriched by mementoes of my old hunting mate, the 'legendary' (late) Arthur Meyers with whom I hunted (this area) in the 80s and 90s. This area has produced the largest sambar deer heads ever taken in Australia, some of which (eg a monster taken by George Allen, Arthur's mate) have never been measured. Many of the watercourses have become a 'sea' of blackberries since my 'time' hunting there; one gully I crossed involved a struggle of over an hour to force my way through. At one point I had to carry the plucky Spot in my backpack...
26/09/2014: You need to snap up the ‘New’ Sony ebook reader as Sony is soon to cease production. This will mean that you can only buy ‘proprietary’ ebook readers which create some difficulty if you want to load ‘borrowed’ books on them. This is a really great reader (163 grams), and is still available for @$100 new. It will take a 32 gig card. If you want an MP3 player as well you will have to source the older model second-hand (as I did). I will probably buy 2-3 of these (while they last) as I doubt anyone is going to produce a better reader in the future: they have all moved to using ‘bought’ books…
26/09/2014: I really do need to wash my down sleeping bags. I will have to buy some Nikwax Down Wash & Proof. I can waterproof the down while I am at it. The cheapest source seem to be on eBay from the UK in 1litre size. http://meaningoflite.com
26/09/2014: WALK! Don’t run. Fortunately this doesn’t happen in Oz, though Tiny and I were ‘hunted’ by packs of wild dogs last time we were in the Wonnangatta!: http://www.myfoxny.com/story/26592220/bear-suspected-of-killing-hiker-in-new-jersey
24/09/2014: Added 1 ½ tonnes of soil and renovated this vegie garden bed for Spring. I think I will put in some plants early (zucchini, squash, corn…) under 3-4 of the Bunnings pop-up greenhouses I have already talked about to get an early start this year. I did this with some tomatoes (as you will have seen) and they are already doing well.
23/09/2014: Kobo Mini: I just bought one of these for hiking. Without the snap-on decorative back it weighs 117 grams, (48 grams less than my Sony) so I will certainly choose it as a dedicated hiking book which I can leave in my pack all the time. The ‘Mini’ has a 4 gig micro SD card inside, but only uses @ 2 of this – though this too can be changed. It is possible to upgrade the storage (say to 32 gigs - worth a try) so that it will fit all your books. The Kobo Mini has wifi and a micro browser so you can surf the Net one tab at a time, check your email, Facebook, shares etc. With the wifi turned off they claim about two months battery life, so PERFECT for the trail. This model is no longer for sale, so I suggest you snap one up off eBay (which is what I did) pretty soon, before they are completely unavailable: http://blog.the-ebook-reader.com/2013/10/08/how-to-expand-internal-storage-of-kobo-ebook-readers-video/ & http://www.mobileread.mobi/forums/showthread.php?t=209122
21/09/2014: Southern Macadamias: the aftermath: testing of various methods of cracking our macadamias is now complete. The ‘Crack-a’Mac’ was Della’s preference, whereas I opted for BONK, the triangle shaped one (‘Bart’s original nut kracker’) – which is a real ‘bottler’!)
21/09/2014: Photos: most of the places I have ever been, most of the things I have ever done…there ARE no photos. Even today I cannot use a smart phone; they don’t work for me (don’t know why), AND I find them exceedingly difficult because of my arthritis. Not so long ago using film cameras, each photo cost more than a (2014) $1ea, so we didn’t take so many. Often, if you were somewhere interesting (where a modern digital camera would give you 1,000 beautiful shots for free), the 35mm we could afford would only produce rubbish. I DO have SOME old photos and I am (slowly) working my way through scanning them (but there IS life, too!), and of course, there IS Photoshop, so SOME old snaps WILL emerge. I have spent a lot of my life in some pretty amazing places (you can only get to on foot, with MUCH difficulty). Fortunately, while I last, there is memory – which usen’t to be something you could buy! Still, stay posted…
20/09/2014: This is a Trail Designs Caldera Cone with a Toaks 1100ml pot & frypan lid. The ‘cone’ plus two titanium pegs weighs 44grams. A ‘floor’ to prevent leaving a burn mark, if you care - & to facilitate lighting weighs about 12 grams. The pot (inc. lid) weighs 156 grams. This cone also fits the Evernew 900ml ultralight deep pot (123 grams inc. lid) – fine for one. I could not believe how QUICKLY it boiled @500ml of water. These pots & etc are about as good as it gets (& surprisingly cheap). You can also use the ‘cone’ as a windscreen if you are using a metho burner (which Rand also sells - also with simmer contro): http://www.traildesigns.com/stoves/toaks-1100ml-ti-pot-frying-pan-fissure-ti-tri-bundle
“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” - Harry S. Truman
“The moment you say that any idea system is sacred, whether it’s a religious belief system or a secular ideology, the moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible.” - Salman Rushdie
19/09/2014: Shoelaces: usually come undone because you are tying a Granny Knot instead of reversing the handedness between the first and second knot of a Double Knot! Flat shoelaces also stay done up better than round ones. There are many other great ways of tying shoelaces, eg: http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/secureknot.htm
17/09/2014: The Father’s Day Suluk 46 TDW titanium double wall wood stove (78 grams) in operation. (Notice how cleanly it burns). WHAT a beauty! I wonder what adventures IT will share: http://www.suluk46.com/products%20%20-%20P14%20TDW%20Stove.html
16/09/2014: Hiking Music: I had despaired that everyone had stopped making lightweight mp3 players with speakers, let alone ones which take AAA batteries, but had not considered a digital voice recorder, like this little beauty (http://www.getolympus.com/us/en/ws-802.html) @ 51 grams! They have another model which also has an FM radio. Another maker even has one with an alarm clock feature as well. More research needed. However, I mustn’t take too long deciding, as they will probably stop making these devices as well, thanks to the ubiquitous mobile phone (which is not much use when hiking due to weight, lack of connectivity and recharging issues)!
14/09/2014: The 1940 movie ‘Northwest Passage’ (Spencer Tracy http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032851/ ) which we watched a couple of nights ago, is another historic gem which loses nothing from the fact that the events depicted (Rogers’ Rangers) were actually TRUE. In another Northwest Passage update (maritime rather than land-based – as in the previous example) I see that they have found ONE of Franklin’s ships (at last – after 170 years of searching). I can only hope that it is the ‘Erebus’, Captain Francis Crozier’s ship on Ross’s Antarctic expedition (one of my own Della Crozier’s remote ancestors) who walked (poorly prepared for doing so) at least 1200 miles towards the post at Hudsons Bay only to perish (as one version has it) in the last twenty miles (his body has never been found). He started out from the wreck of his ship, ‘Terror’ with at least eighty men and was only one of FOUR still going when last seen (by Eskimos), easily spotted because of his red beard and hair (which still crops up now and again in the family). Woodman, ‘Unravelling the Franklin Mystery’ (1992) and ‘Strangers Among Us’ (1995) wrote of Inuit reports that between 1852 and 1858 Crozier and one other expedition member were seen in the Baker Lake area (further hundreds of miles) where in 1948 Farley Mowat found ‘a very ancient cairn, not of normal Eskimo construction’ inside which were shreds of a hardwood box with dovetail joints. If this is so, he was one tough dude and survived at least 13 years in the Arctic long after all the others had perished. There are (occasionally) fair children born to Inuit people in the area. It may be that he will one day be seen as the greatest Arctic voyager. One of Australia’s only active volcanoes, Mt Erebus as well as Cape Crozier in Antarctica, were named by/after him. In an interesting ‘global warming’ slant, the two ships sailed into an open lead back then (1845) which closed over with ice (trapping them) and has mostly remained closed SINCE then, ie it was warmer THAT year in the Arctic than pretty much any year since!
14/09/2014: Swingler’s ‘Portal’ on the Upper Thomson River: This is the type of weir which could be built CHEAPLY on a number of other rivers (Aberfeldy, Macalister, Barkly, Moroka, Wonnangatta, etc) to increase (Read: ‘DOUBLE’) Melbourne’s water supply by diverting some of the surplus winter flow. As you can see it takes up only about an acre! No flooding of ‘wild rivers’ etc. Of course you would need to construct ‘fish ladders’ and diversions for canoeists, as well as supply tunnels. (You have to walk in @ 2km off the Marshall Spur Rd off the Thomson Valley Rd behind Mt Baw Baw to see this weir – a worthwhile walk. (PS Ignore the ‘Keep Out’ signage). Such weirs could be easily paid for by dredging the billions of dollars of gold still along the Jordan’s alluvial flats. This might also help eradicate the dreadful blackberry menace there. They are @ 12’ high with trunks as thick as your wrist. There are few places even where deer can push through them (VERY good shooting spots if you are hound hunting)! In such a spot, as they burst through the tunnel startled by the hounds, in Poole’s Gully nearby on the Jordan, an old (departed) friend of mine Arthur Meyers, shot three trophy stags in as many minutes in 1962, (laying them down next to each other like lovers) one of which remains the largest sambar stag ever taken in Australia! Very few people have ever seen this monster trophy – I wonder what became of it after Arthur’s passing?
13/09/2014: The Thomson Dam is nearly full right now. Only a couple of years ago the river/gully was just a trickle along its bottom and I was contemplating a once-in-a-lifetime canoe trip along the length of the empty dam (I only wish I had!) I did hunt/hike it though; the photos I took of the stream at the bottom of the dam I could easily JUMP over (@150 metres below the surface today)! It is a large storage. Melbourne’s water usage (with the addition of over a million people since it was built) now requires additional CATCHMENT. Some weirs need to be built along streams higher up (eg the Aberfeldy, Macalister/Barkly, Moroka, Wonnangatta etc to channel some of the surplus winter flows INTO the storages so that at this time of the year they would all be FULL. (This would have been most preferable to building the useless, costly desal plant Labor required, as NO additional land would need to have been flooded) You can view eg the weirs at the Easton and Swingler’s ‘portals’ on the Upper Thomson to see what I had in mind. Interestingly, these weirs/tunnels COULD be built at NO cost if dredging for gold (and environmental restitution) was allowed (eg) along the Jordan River whose (blackberry buried) alluvial flats yet contain at least $10 BILLION worth of GOLD!
12/09/2014: Yesterday we spent 9 hours driving (mainly) and poking about in a (partial) circumnavigation of the Thomson and Jordan Rivers, one of my old hunting grounds. It still takes nearly 3 hours to drive each way (eg) to Mt Victor Spur Track (allegedly the site of a ‘Sweeney Todd’ hostelry during the 1860s) where I used to BEGIN hunting c7:00am, hunt till after dark, spend a few hours having a cook-up/yarning around the fire/waiting for hounds, then drive home. When we lived at Tarwin Lower it was another hour each way, so that often nearly 24 hours had gone by since I woke up. After a short rest I would be up again at 7:00am to go fox hunting all day around the Tarwin Flats. I wonder whether I will ever recover anywhere near THAT level of fitness? There IS a big difference between being 40 and 65!
12/09/2014: At @$22K a lion is probably outside my price bracket, but there are some interesting critters (impala, warthogs, etc) which seem like a reasonable bargain @ $400. $35K for an elephant seems reasonable too, but I may not be affording one any time soon (unless the stock market picks up substantially anyway!): http://www.africanskyhunting.co.za/pricelist.html
12/09/2014: Peltiers #2: I am surprised that hybrid cars do not recover electricity from waste exhaust/radiator/engine heat via peltiers/stirling cycle engines etc to recharge the battery and boost overall fuel efficiency.
11/09/2014: ENVY: A friend of mine is in Africa hunting and shooting things; sounds like he is having a wonderful time. Every day there is talk of a new successful stalk, an impala or warthog taken, etc. Wonder how much it costs…Oh well, there are plenty of sambar deer here in Vic yet. May be time for a couple of days up the bush?
11/09/2014: You could certainly learn a few lessons from Charlie White, dead at 109, eg ‘he leapt at the chance to learn anaesthesia at the Mayo Clinic. That was 1944. He later learned that his specialty had side benefits; Charlie confided to me that he rendered his kids unconscious for long drives across Kansas on their way to vacations in Colorado.’ “Because I could not stop for Death—He kindly stopped for me.” (E.D.) http://time.com/3148628/worlds-oldest-people-life-lessons/
10/09/2014: ‘The Big Trail’ (1930). DO download this old movie – one of John Wayne’s first. I guess it is the precursor to (and maybe the model for my favourite western TV series (‘Wagon Train’), but I think the earlier version has a greater verisimilitude: I particularly ‘liked’ the heavy manual work the gals were doing. Lots of early ‘feminist’ wood chopping & etc. Horses AND mules AND bullocks (dogs, cats, chickens, pigs…) Old movies are the BEST movies.
09/09/2014: Some fathers ARE spoiled! Yesterday I received this excellent gift: http://www.suluk46.com/products%20%20-%20P14%20TDW%20Stove.html It will save nearly 3 oz from my pack weight! Yesterday morning I tried boiling the billy on it…and, it is a BEAUTY. I thought NOTHING would surpass the Bushbuddy Ultra (http://bushbuddy.ca/indexs.html) but I was wrong (as usual?) The saving in weight is enough Bacardi 151 to work up quite a glow! This Suluk stove actually burns BETTER than the Bushbuddy AND is easier to ‘feed’. Thanks a million Della! We use these stoves even where (open) fires are prohibited (ie canister stoves only required) as they fulfil all the requirements really, ie the fire is contained; it ‘leaves no trace’ (you can even have it burning on the palm of your hand – so it certainly won’t scorch the ground); it is not in any way injurious to the environment, which can certainly spare a handful of twigs! Of course the (true) beauty of such a cooking system is LIGHTNESS: there is no fuel to carry: this beauty weighs less than the burners of the lightest canister stove (sans canister), so prpbably represents a saving of up to half a kilo (that’s a day’s food!) on a multi-day trip!
08/09/2014: Return of the (large) predators: Sounds like the title of a new B-rated movie, I know – but Europe is now home to @ 17,000 brown bears, 12,000 wolves and 9,000 lynx. To put that in perspective there are@ 32,000 lions in Africa and 2,000 tigers in India. These large predators have returned to areas where they had not existed for HUNDREDS of years. This transformation is NOT due to conservation, but to WESTERN AGRICULTURE which has fed/clothed an increasing population from a smaller and smaller quantity of ‘good land’, enabling the return of the more marginal land (@ one-third of the total area) to wilderness. As Western agriculture transforms the Third World too, we can expect to see huge improvements there in the future – as well as the ability to (better) feed the burgeoning human population. This is the biggest win/win for science (NOT activism – which would have had the opposite result!) in history. http://www.theguardian.com/science/animal-magic/2014/aug/08/slavc-wolf-migration-europe
08/09/2014: Cherry blossom: you might have noticed (in Merrin’s photos over the last few days) that the cherry plums are blossoming all over our little valley. I guess there are a couple of dozen of them. One is right outside our bedroom window, and though the fruit are fairly indifferent (to us) they are not so to the myriad parrots, etc who flock to devour them in early summer. It makes a very pretty display these mornings when you are dressing, combing your (scant) hair, etc. I WAS for removing/replacing it, but Della decided on a ‘good haircut’ (for it!) instead. This morning it is clearly overjoyed with (the result and) Spring!
08/09/2014: Time to have another drink: abstinence is REALLY bad for you, but quite heavy drinking is in fact MUCH better: http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/truth-wont-admit-drinking-healthy-87891/
07/09/2014: Maybe you (figure you) don’t need a walking stick (or two) but when you work out you do, (or that a couple will reduce the effort of hiking by 50%+ and reduce the chances of falls by @100%), maybe you will be ready to try the LT4s. They only weigh @ 119 grams (about HALF a conventional pole) each, yet are strong enough to support MY weight (and that is SOME recommendation!) You can usually use them as the tent poles for one or other lightweight tent too. Two poles can be added together to make quite a tent pole, eg we used the upper section and TWO lower sections (you Have to pop out the little cork circle in the handle to do this) to form a 6’+ centre pole for our Mountain Laurel Designs ‘Supermid’ (sleeps 4!) pyramid tent on our walk across Tasmania. I woud not buy the ones with straps as I would not USE straps. I usually add a loop of very lightweight spectra and a micro cord lock to each pole for those occasions when you want to hang them on your wrist eg to take a photo, or so you don’t drop them when crossing a walkwire. It is better NOT to walk with the string (or a strap) attached to your wrist: that is how Della dislocated her shoulder on the Dusky Track (thus ending our hike – apart from a rather miserable struggle to a relatively nearby spot where a helicopter could land!) As we crossed a giant boulder she slipped, and slid down its face. She would only have sustained (maybe) a couple of bruises to her bottom, but she had the loops around her wrist, and as she slid down, one of the poles caught in a tree root and hanged her by it - thus dislocating her shoulder. Sometimes too it is good to be able to let go of the poles and be able to grab a handhold such as a tree etc: http://gossamergear.com/trekking/trekking/lt4-trekking-poles-all.html
06/09/2014: My breakfast this morning is a piece of toast with Della’s quince jelly: a taste of autumn in early Spring. Quinces are great trees living @ 800 years and producing up to a tonne of fruit every year with (practically) NO care at all: drop by @ Easter time and I will give you a quince whose seeds will grow trees true to type, so that you can plant (some) yourselves.
06/09/2014: And Merrin Again: We must have gotten a bit fitter since yesterday because today we got another fifteen trees planted in record time. That brings our total to sixty trees on the block. Hooray! There'll be more to plant in the future but we have probably earned a little break. Now we just need some spring rain to water them all in. We also spotted a stray chicken in the driveway, couldn't catch it though. Thanks Della and Steve! Today's additions were: 2 English Oaks, 2 Chinese Elms, 2 Japanese Maples (acer palmatum), 3 Silver Birch, Natchez Crepe Myrtle, Forsythia, Washington Navel Orange, Lemonade Lemon, Magnolia Rustica Rubra and Plumcot (plum/apricot).
05/09/2014: Merrin again: We've now planted 45 trees so far on the block and have another 15 ready to put in tomorrow. I can't wait for them to take off! Thanks again to Della and Steve for helping me to get our future garden established. The sheep are going to love the garden we have made for them for the time being! Also thanks to Matt for being kind about me going wild with the credit card. As you can see we filled the car with only just enough room left to fit us in there with all of the trees. Hehe! Nobody can keep up with the joneses when it comes to planting trees...Today's additions were: Manzanilla Olive, Golden Rain Tree, Nettle Tree (or Hackberry - celtis australis), Yunnan Poplar, Ginkgo, Sugar Maple, Moorpark Apricot, Trevatt Apricot, Corella Pear, Granny Smith Apple, Golden Delicious Apple, Red Fuji Apple, Paradise Cocktail Pear, Santa Rosa Plum and Williams Pear.
Della: Beautiful and useful trees, mostly fruit trees with a few deciduous exotics at this stage. The surrounding hills are full of natives; Merrin and Matt are improving the landscape, not just adding more of the same. The native wildlife will no doubt find it a great place to visit, as they do our garden.
04/09/2014: Merrin: Let there be MORE TREES: Another day, another fifteen trees planted! That brings the total to around thirty on our block. And still more to go...Today's additions were: Magnolias x3 (orchid, ricki and galaxy), Peppercorn Tree, Cape Virgilia, Irish Strawberry Tree, Wattle, Andean Walnut, Pin Oak, Holm Oak, Lipstick Maple, Pink Judas Tree, Feijoa and x2 Bunya Bunya
02/09/2014: Further to my recent post about marshmallows: the nanny state gone totally MAD: http://www.theblaze.com/blog/2014/08/29/government-publishes-detailed-instructions-on-how-to-safely-roast-marshmallows/
01/09/2014: ‘Pride goeth’…etc: We THINK we are travelling well until confronted by such ‘realities’ as this. Della & I help out at our children’s store weekends to give them a break…a significant number of the customers believe Della is another of my DAUGHTERS! And here I used to kid her (since she was about 40 (that) I should trade HER in on two half her age! Seems the tables have turned. ‘Vanity thy name is man’ as the bard said: I wonder whether I should banish the white beard, but both dyeing (affectation) and shaving (emasculation) would take up some months (collectively) of what little time (seemingly) I have left…
I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
01/09/2014: Yesterday I succeeded in getting a new audiogram, so I was able to come home and readjust my hearing aids: WECOME BACK WORLD! My hearing was down another 5dB (the worst point being NOW 80) so it IS only a matter of time before I really will be ignoring everyone! For the moment though, it IS so nice to hear (eg) what Della says…except, I think she is saying I should get off the computer, and DO something useful! PS: For those who came in late, can I recommend Cosco for hearing aids (if you don’t feel able to learn to adjust your own) at @ $2500 per pair, or this guy in the States who will sell you the top of the range Siemens (eg Aquaris waterproof – which I have) for just over $3,000: http://www.thehearingcompany.com/
01/09/2014: I have been reading about the Pacific Crest Trail. Some parts of this must be SO beautiful. Maybe something for your ‘bucket list’ (At least hiking IS cheap and affordable!) http://www.cherylstrayed.com/wild_108676.htm & http://freedirtmonger.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/definitions.html
30/08/2014: More garden doings: Top: Potatoes growing in inverted pots to stop them taking over the beds and to make them easy to harvest; Below: Della’s garlic and broad beans are looking really good:
30/08/2014: I used to be a great fan of ‘The Age’, but since we stopped buying it I have slowly come to the view that the ‘Herald Sun’ lights the fire just as well, if not better; at least both are adequately full of inflammatory articles!
29/08/2014: ENVY: I WISH people would get this straight: the difference between envy and jealousy. People sometimes say things like, ‘I’m totally jealous of where you live’. THIS is envy. You are envious of something someone ELSE has; you are jealous of something YOU have (the usual culprit is your spouse – & why there are so many ‘crimes of passion’, ie you think of them as ‘mine’ – when indeed, they are ever ‘theirs’). With ‘jealousy’ you do not want others to have what you have. With ‘envy’ you wish you had what others have. ‘Covetousness’ is ‘envy’. It (and jealousy) is (rightly) one of the ‘seven deadly sins’ - which unless you conquer (them) you will fail to be ‘saved’. It is also one of the chief ‘desires’ which the Buddha tells us (that) unless we conquer (them) we will never have happiness – and he is quite right. Folks too frequently ‘covet’ one possession after another and spend their life and energy doing so, failing to appreciate (as they do so) the happiness which is (or should be) theirs already. (Most people’s ‘bucket lists’ for example, are ridiculously materialistic and unaffordable. Maybe plant an apple tree or weed that back slope, instead?) My mother used to say ‘You should be happy with what you’ve got’. She ALWAYS was. (Many of us – when young – mistake wisdom for platitudes. Some never learn. Many mistake platitudes for wisdom. Perhaps it IS a fine line?) I can remember my Uncle Basil remarking to me once (about her) that she was entirely without envy, and I think this was so. She would always tell you how her things were better than anything else one might have (as OURS are, so THERE!)…This is a good attitude to have – and now, I must be off to plant some more trees, many of which I grew from seed, but now, I cast them to the world for others to enjoy when I have departed, in the future - as I have enjoyed theirs!
29/08/2014: It is amazing to me how SO many people don’t eat fruit and vegetables (which have ever formed the bulk of our diet - and yet they are All so EASY to grow (thus so CHEAP!). It has an interesting corollary though, IF you buy. The check-out people at the supermarket can never even RECOGNISE what fruit and vegetables ARE: you can always buy persimmons (which I ADORE) as tomatoes, if you buy a kilo of them, for example.
28/08/2014: Garden doings: Greenhouses. One of our $69 Mitre 10 greenhouses is nearly finished being set up with some self-watering pots & etc – tomatoes, capsicums, strawberries and eggplants should come early this year. Also a $25 Bunnings pop-up greenhouse over one of the garden beds (the first of four) with eight ‘Sweetbite’ tomatoes ready to start fruiting @ Melbourne Cup Day: ‘Sumer Is Icumen In’: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2012/06/sumer-is-icumen-in.html
28/08/2014: I have been reading this book: ‘Unbroken’ by Laura Hillenbrand. It is an ASTONISHING story. For any one person to have survived one-tenth of what Louis endured would be a miracle, yet I see he lived to be 97! Bravo, Louis! I really recommend this book. Also watch for the film, out on December 25, 2014: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Zamperini
27/08/2014: Simple rules for training dogs and children: ‘YES’ means ‘Yes’; ‘NO’ means ‘No’; ‘Perhaps’ means ‘If you are good, and there is time and money enough’; Pestering means definitely ‘NO!’ There is ALWAYS time for a cuddle.
26/08/2014: You don’t see this quality of news so much nowadays: ‘It all began, as these things so often do, with a drink. One drink, which led to another, then more besides. Each one, generously given by a genial customer. Each one eagerly slurped by the monkey chained to the bar’: http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-28888684
26/08/2014: It certainly IS a manly art…curiously when I was a lad I learned an entirely different method which I will demonstrate for you one day (I wonder whether my arthritic fingers will still work that trick): http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/07/27/how-to-whistle-with-your-fingers-video/
24/08/2014: What a GREAT gift for a (literate & venturesome) small(ish) child (in us all!) THIS would make: http://www.amazon.com/Mini-Weapons-Mass-Destruction-Implements/dp/1556529538/ref=pd_rhf_ee_s_qp_13_NJ59?ie=UTF8&refRID=0BTEFV31KDDHHR178VK7#reader_1556529538 ot THIS: http://www.amazon.com/The-Practical-Pyromaniac-One-Candlepower-Incendiary/dp/1569767106/ref=pd_rhf_ee_s_cp_10_4EJJ?ie=UTF8&refRID=0BTEFV31KDDHHR178VK7
24/08/2014: Not everything is rosy in Iceland. If you are off somewhere, definitely take travel insurance. Remember the last one, and this one is several times bigger? Global warming? http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/08/20/bardarbunga-getting-ready-to-blow-1000-earthquakes-felt-as-magma-moves-into-ice-covered-caldera/
24/08/2014: Fortunately, despite huge Government interference before (and after) Port Arthur, Australia's hunters still represent a larger 'army' than our official army, and as demonstrated in two World Wars & etc, can be relied on to bolster its numbers with well-qualified soldiers if/when the need ever arises: http://shariaunveiled.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/a-tribute-to-the-worlds-largest-army-americas-hunters/
24/08/2014: Some interesting stuff here. I DO like AMK’s new $25 pad. I will get some of these. Good for the daypack (or an emergency night in the bush) as is their Escape Bivy. Maybe carry a piece of cuben tape in case repairs are needed. Another great emergency idea is the Blizzard Bag: (http://www.blizzardsurvival.com/product.php/100/blizzard-survival-bag) which would go really well with this new mat. The combined weight of the two items would be: Pad 185 grams + Blizzard 385 grams = 570 grams which is pretty good for an emergency and comfie night in the bush: http://southwestultralight.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/outdoor-retailer-summer-market-2014.html You could add my kitchen idea @ 97 grams (from 16/08/2014) and be able to cook a meal as well: Total: 667 grams! Minimalists would opt for just the pad (185 grams) plus the Escape Bivy Light (165) grams) = Total 350 grams + a warm fire!
24/08/2014: Back in 1941 Ford could REALLY cut it: (The B-24 ‘Liberator’ heavy bomber – built in 55 minutes!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKlt6rNciTo#t=131 Interesting fact: more than half of US bomber casualties/deaths were other than in combat eg crashes etc. Maybe Ford didn’t build them so well after all!
23/08/2014: Lamellar Vest: You have probably seen me out and about in this great vest (I have two, which has to be the minimum number!) I would prefer green, as you can imagine but it only comes in black and two versions of camo. Still a great windproof, waterproof vest with wonderful pockets. You should get one (or two!) http://www.lamellar.com.au/mantle-layer/xplorer-vest/
22/08/2014: East Gippsland has SO many beautiful places. In winter it is @18C and you have it completely to yourself: Due to an ongoing fox control programme you have to be very careful where you camp with dogs. Picnic areas are probably safest.
22/08/2014: Human beings are astonishingly long-lasting: I have carefully calculated this: the average human being owns approximately the same number dogs and cats as fridges & microwaves in a lifetime!
22/08/2014: Climb Mt Everest (without the risk): http://everestavalanchetragedy.com/mt-everest-journey.html I made it (easily): see how YOU go! PS: When you see where Mallory’s body lies (with a broken leg at the bottom of the ‘Hillary Step’) it is 50:50 likely that he IS lying on his camera with proof that HE was the first man to the top!
18/08/2014: The Internet Archive: Don’t know if you’ve seen this site but it is amazing. Just about everything ever posted on the internet is here in a searchable form. Also available is eg an amazing collection of video inc. TV and movies which are all ex-copyright and free to download (with eg Utorrent – DO download IT). I have been downloading ‘The Adventures of William Tell’ (c1958). Don’t know whether you remember that. Here is another wonderful example, ‘Things to Come’ (1936): https://archive.org/details/things_to_come_ipod PS: Many similar movies etc are also available to watch on You Tube.
17/08/2014: Last summer we planted another 100 or so new grevillias etc on the back slope behind the house. As I comb my hair & etc by the bedroom window I see they are bursting into bloom everywhere (some have already grown 2 feet!) as is the native hibiscus – a purple delight (perhaps it belies my age that I now admire mauve!). I really never thought to say anything good about native veg; perhaps age mellows me…All this free blossom has lured a ‘green army’ of freeloaders (as free stuff will): wattle birds and honey-eaters are likely to demolish all these baby plants: where DO all these critters come from?
17/08/2014: At last, THE SWALLOWS ARE BACK scything the air into long swift arcs as they herd the mayflies and mozzies into their sharp beaks: there is nothing quite like a (mud-brick) verandah they opine anywhere between here and Siberia to build a messy nest. I used to hear their sharp shrill calls to each other as they raced across the sky, but like the bats (to me at least) they have fallen silent. Fortunately (at least) we both still have eyes to follow their progress…
16/08/2014: 29 GRAM multi-fuel stove: it doesn’t get any better than this: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1080275728/critter-cr2-multifuel-backpacking-camp-stove Well, it DOES I bent three of these 1 gram titanium tent pegs (http://www.amazon.com/Terra-Nova-Titanium-Skewers-Pack/dp/B007POB8IC) carefully like this to make a cradle for this 450ml Vargo (insulated lip) cup (http://www.amazon.com/Terra-Nova-Titanium-Skewers-Pack/dp/B007POB8IC) @68 grams. All you need to add is a mini-Bic (11 grams) and a spork (eg http://www.traildesigns.com/accessories/ulv-titanium-spork @ 11 grams) & a cuben fibre bag (eg from zpacks @ 4 grams) to complete your cook set @ 97 grams!
16/08/2014: While renovating the shed wall (to add insulation for the back wall of the greenhouses) I uncovered THIS treasure. Had to quickly find a new home for him. I suspect there are many more live underneath the ‘corrie’ on the house roof. I used to delight in hearing them at dusk but that part of my hearing has long since gone South. Small children are now just as much an auditory mystery to me. I CAN still hear the other extreme frequency: the sub-sonic roar of the power station chimneys. On the ‘to do’ list: build ‘nest’ boxes atop all strainer posts for eg possums, parrots, bats, etc:
15/08/2014: The world’s oldest (authenticated) eel has died in Sweden at age 155, (clearly not enough folks EAT eel). I guess not all hail from ‘Ely’ in Cambridgeshire (as my ancestors did), a famed seat of ‘eel-lore’. We encountered some very friendly eels at Paronella Park in Qld recently. After the disastrous Alpine fires (in 2006) I was anxious to canoe the Macalister to assess the damage (and wished that I had not – the pervasive smell of death was overbearing); vast numbers of deer and wallabies lay dead everywhere; every fish was dead; there were dead eels on the river banks thicker than my robustly stout legs and long as I am tall (see photo). It may be that they had not experienced such an event in a century of living placidly there. Their existence does give me qualms about swimming in mountain rivers, I must say (at least ‘skinny-dipping’!) Some say though that they were killed by some chemical fire retardant which was sprayed on this particular fire, which may be so, as even trout survived very well the (2007) fire along the Moroka which burned right to the water’s edge in VERY hot weather. It is a fine river for trout fishing though requiring some walking. The Moroka Creek Track off Doolan’s Plain gives good access. http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/31824
14/08/2014: BIG CATS: It is enchanting to realise that there are probably more tigers and lions living in apartments in New York than there are wandering the forests and savannahs of India or Africa. Just about every week some hapless pet owning suburbanite is deliciously but spitefully consumed by one such pet. You would think that those apocalyptic movies which picture such cities drowning, being taken to pieces by invading aliens, lost in space/time & etc would portray escaped (liberated?) rampant ‘Tiddles’ & ‘Felixes’ dining demurely on the jaded denizens of just such decaying cities…
13/08/2014: My 45:70 Marlin. MANY years ago I managed to break the stock on this wonderful rifle and have been unable to acquire a new one (even though it has been on my ‘present list’ for close on 20 years). To my surprise my wonderful family managed to source one for my birthday yesterday. I’m not sure whether I am now too old for this rifle. It IS a blunderbuss (and quite heavy), but we shall see. At least Matt and/or Bryn may enjoy the use of it. Originally this was the round which wiped out the American bison. It was then (as now) .45 calibre (ie 45/100ths of an inch) and was loaded with 70 grains of black powder. NOW you can load (a modern version of the rifle) up with over 80 grains of modern chemical propellent and 500 grains (that’s half an ounce) of copper-jacketed lead. It comes out of the barrel at over 3,000 feet per second and is still going nearly as fast as a ‘baby’ .308 @ 100 yards, but with immensely more kinetic energy. When the projectile mushrooms out, you would have to see the damage to believe it: it is awesome. Small game (wallaby size) just disintegrates! Something the size of a man will have a hole you can push your whole arm through. Anything hit in the chest will be very suddenly, very dead. It is an excellent big game (eg sambar deer) rifle. During the war against the Huk in the Phillipines c1905 American marines brought it back into service as they found (surprisingly) the full metal jacket 30:06 just didn’t have the stopping power for these crazed folks who were completely hyped up on some bizarre concoction of drugs, their gonads tightly wrapped with wet greenhide so they wouldn’t feel any other pain & etc. Allegedly you could shoot them through the heart with a 30:06 solid round and they would still run a 100 yards and chop off your head with a scimitar (you can probably guess at their religion!) The old 45:70 knocked them over backwards and they just didn’t have the ‘heart’ (literally - or much else) to get up again and keep going. I can’t imagine that the current puny .223 round would stop such folks! Perhaps I will stock up on 45:70 ammo!
13/08/2014: I did not know you COULD grow sweet potatoes in Southern Victoria, but clearly you CAN! Should have dug these fellas up long since, but they might still make a pleasant soup. PS: We also grew a few peanuts this year (always pushing the limits!):
12/08/2014: Empty Drums: My beloved son, Bryn gifted me some empty 200 litre drums for my birthday. What an exciting gift, so fraught with possibilities! I may be dithering with what to do with them for ages. My ‘next’ empty drum project involves empty 20 litre black or blue drums (which don’t degrade in sunlight, ever). The kind with a 2” cap. I am going to acquire 100 or so of these (probably from a cleaning company) and cut them in half vertically (they make great shed tidiers just like that), but there is more…I am going to ‘tile’ them along the back slope behind our house in such a way as to make a STREAM (maybe with several forks, including waterfalls) which will cascade from one to the other via the half spouts remaining (I hope you can picture that). A small pond pump and some poly will return the water from the bottom one to the top one. Once they are ‘disguised’ with mulch (see previous post: ‘Della’s New Toy’) and planted out with shrubs, ferns etc they will make an excellent refuge for birds, lizards, frogs, mozzies & etc - & hopefully ‘beautify’ the back garden. Pictures to follow, MUCH later!
12/08/2014: DEATHS and entrances: It is interesting that in a contest between an eagle and a fox over the carcass of a dead ewe on the hill, the fox wins quickly. Eats his fill, then lies down in the sun to survey the farm. A very cheeky soldier bird comes along to suicidally menace him. She was a fine old ewe (3331), mother of many lambs, who died (of old age) a couple of days ago, which is what our sheep get to do nowadays (since we are retired shepherds) and one day we will too…The eagle waits in a roadside tree for the fox to continue home to bed, so it can complete its interrupted breakfast…
11/08/2014: I KNOW most of us wear pull-on boots (perhaps because we can’t tie our laces), but there have been some advances in shoe laces, eg Aramid Shoe Laces http://www.moontrail.com/accessrs/a-misc/aramid_laces.html and Dyneema: https://www.rhinolaces.com/ And, if you need help tying them: http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/tying.htm
10/08/2014: 65! Thanks to all for your kind birthday wishes. It sure happens quickly! I remember when we were at school we used to speculate about what the world would be like in 2000, when we would be the unimaginable old age of 50! Flying cars, holidays on the moon, space habitats, colonies on Mars…the world would be a VERY different place. Mostly though, it isn’t. Sure, we have a host of ‘clever’ gadgets, but when did we not? Just different gadgets really. Way back c1900 they had electric cars which could do nearly 100mph. They haven’t really taken off! ALL my great-grandparents lived to be around 85 back then, about the average age of death now. Boy, if I thought the last 65 years went pretty quickly, the looming LAST 20 will surely skip by! I have a personal conundrum. Now I qualify (perhaps) for the Age Pension. Loth as I am to steal from my friends and neighbours (which is what doing so represents to me), I wonder whether (since my kids will be paying the taxes anyway) I should take it and bank it FOR them, so they get some of their taxes back? Someone I know also just ‘benefited’ by qualifying for an expensive drug (on the pension c$6,000/dose) which was unavailable for folks on private health! Unimaginable. You would really think it would be the other way around! Mostly though we have enough to live on, and are still spry enough to do a bit of gardening, hiking, white water canoeing (not today though!) & etc. I think I will resume my weekly bush trips as I have grown inclined to leave too many gaps between them, but the jobs around the place really CAN wait. Must also postpone the caravan trips a little less. I have promised Della a week’s hiking on the South Coast Track, Fiordland late Nov-early Dec. Must also have a week’s canoeing with the dogs on the Wonnangatta (Humphrey Confluence to Angusvale) when the weather warms up before Xmas. Lots to do yet...
10/08/2014: Must Buy moments: Had one of those yesterday when I saw these excellent (6'6x6'6x4') greenhouses at the local Mitre 10 for $69ea, so I bought TWO. I figure I can fit @ 32 x 15l water-well type pots in them all plumbed together with spaghetti tubing, & that I can sit them on sheets of polystyrene insulation and apply bottom heat to them via @ 10-20 watt/metre reptile heating cable to keep the root zone @15-20C with a thermostat. During a winter's day here it rarely gets below 11C (today!) so the air temperature should always be above 16C and usually above 20C, so that we should be able to have cherry tomatoes and strawberries year round and peppers, chillies, baby watermelons, cucumbers etc for at least an additional three months (with no weeding). I'll let you know how it works out.
09/08/2014: Mt Useful: Spot’s Second Snow Trip. Still plenty of snow for you snow bunnies to enjoy. Mt Useful is about 1450m, so there ought to be good fun @ Baw Baw etc. Much of the snowgum forest there (and elsewhere) has been dreadfully ruined by bushfire. Large areas have not regenerated. All areas contain huge quantities of dead timber which is beginning to fall which will create a worse fire next time which will certainly kill the snow gums. I wonder whether this succession is what created the ‘High Plains’ in the past, which are definitely not above the tree line really. In any case routine fuel reduction fires would have prevented this destruction.
07/08/2014: Sandals are well named (if not well-spelled). They certainly DO fill up with sand and grit so that you have to stop frequently to empty them out (a more arduous task for me these days because of my arthritis) but they ARE much cooler for walking in hot weather. My personal choice are these Keen Newport H2s. (Della seems happy with her couple of pairs too): http://www.keenfootwear.com/us/en/product/shoes/men/waterfront/newport%20h2
07/08/2014: Midwinter Fruits: Even here in Southern Vic you can enjoy a variety of seasonal fruits/nuts still even in the coldest weather (which no doubt belies the cost to transport unseasonal fresh produce to us). Here are some examples from our garden today. Of course some things have just finished (medlars, pomegranates) and some are swelling already: eg berry fruit inc. mulberries, loquats, etc) At all times of the year we can have a bewildering variety of fresh fruit straight from our own gardens:
06/08/2014: This guy has some interesting Peltiers (and circuits). It seems to me that with them one ought to be able to construct a USB (or just a AA) battery charger warmed by one’s fire, and cooled by a Platypus bottle (which you every so often refill with fresh, cooler water) instead of a fan (the ‘normal’ set-up – and much heavier and more elaborate). You could simply attach the Peltier to the bottle with a couple of rubber bands. As I almost always have a fire when camping out, (even in those tiresome, trendy ‘National Parks’ where such wickedness is verboten), this should enable me to recharge electrical devices (with minimal weight) when out in the bush. PS I always in addition, just for the insouciant wickedness of it camp anywhere else than in the ‘designated camping areas’: http://www.customthermoelectric.com/powergen.html?gclid=CLTl4JPpxrMCFchbpQodszYAow
06/08/2014: Deafness: one thing you can say in favour of it is that it presents a whole range of new poetic experiences. Dozens of examples present themselves every day, but just now I heard Della say, ‘My drawer is open again’, when she said ‘My jaw is aching again’. It often gets much more hilarious than that without being quite so painful! If many more people were deaf (as clearly the current generation of pop song writers are) we would end up with vast swathes of literature and music which was incomprehensible to those of ‘normal’ hearing, just as most of what ‘normal’ people say is incomprehensible to me (even when I have my hearing aids in actually)!
05/08/2014: Green Island: Like everyone else, I found the Buff-banded rails there quite enchanting, esp. as I had spotted a pair of their relies (Lewin’s Rail) crossing Monash Way, Churchill not so long ago. A little commented aspect of the island is the coral ‘beach’ about 2’ higher than the high-tide mark on the western (onshore) side of the island. Hundreds of thousands of people who (otherwise) believe passionately in global warming and sea level RISE, (and who are doing their level best to accelerate it by flying there each year) must have walked this ‘beach’ without noticing it. Coral is quite soft and easily eroded even with the weak wave action of the inner reef, so this 2’ above high tide reef must have been formed quite recently when the sea level was at least 3’ HIGHER than it is now! Oh dear!
04/08/2014: Cairns mid-winter break. July14-21 – absolutely the best time for this. Temperature average 23-27C and (relatively low humidity); so a pleasant change from 11-13C. It is still nicer on the Atherton Tableland. I would recommend you get all the tourist brochures, colour all those places in on the map, then religiously avoid them. The old brown tourist attraction signs are a better guide, and there will be fewer folk there. Traffic Tully-Cape Tribulation is almost Melbourne suburban with average speed @ 50kph. If you need to pull over for a pit stop go into a vacant private driveway, because if you pull up on the side of the road anywhere else, 26 tourists will immediately pull up behind you. There ARE some nice places, but they aren’t Mission Beach, Cairns, Kuranda, Port Douglas, Daintree, Cape Tribulation or etc. Don’t waste your money on Paronella Park. Green Island especially reminds us that the Japanese WON WW2! The Tablelands are nice. If I went again I would book overnight van accommodation eg at Atherton & explore up there further. The Crystal cave has to be seen to be believed. There remain some lovely rivers, lakes and forests up there. The Daintree-Cape Trib area might as well be transformed into an open-cut mine as it is all degraded farmland, logged out second-growth rubbish, overrun with weeds and tourist traps. There ARE beaches up there but they are dreary, devoid of waves and impossible to swim at. Compared to NSW-Vic beaches they are an enormous disappointment. We enjoyed the Boulders & Josephine Falls South of Cairns, and as I say lots of nice places on the Tablelands (and you CAN swim), eg Yungaburra Pit Stop, the Curtain & Cathedral Fig, Moho Creek Crater, Hastie’s Swamp, Mt Hypipamee Crater…
04/08/2014: As long as you don’t find jewellery a tad effete, you MIGHT say, choose this eg for your wedding ring, (if you are a gear junkie anyway)…Will multi-tools get any smaller than this? Danger swallowing warning! (I should probably recommend that THIS ring is not to be used for any other ‘playful’ purposes – the risk of self harm is just too great). You CAN imagine though, it might get you out of some tight spots, say if you are captured by terrorists, or find your arm stuck between two rocks & etc: https://www.etsy.com/au/listing/115928701/the-man-ring-titanium-utility-ring
04/08/2014: What a lot of rot THIS is. Shameful that it was headlined on news.com. The ‘argument’ is that because (OR, let’s say, ‘If’) .0064% of species vanished in the last 600 years (mainly on islands being colonised by foxes, rats, cats, people etc for the very first time) that doom is just around the corner. On continents (other than Australia, which counts as an island for this particular phenomenon) in that time only about half a dozen species have vanished (IF they are indeed gone for good – the ‘Aurochs’, previously an extinction icon, for example is well on the way to return – and may soon find its way onto the menu of classy restaurants such as tree-huggers frequent). Given that this ‘decline’ paralleled the Industrial revolution and the greatest population explosion (of humans) in history, it is no surprise there was some (very minor) collateral damage. What is happening NOW though, is that wilderness area worldwide (and particularly in developed countries) is INCREASING, and that rare or endangered (even extinct) creatures are being re-introduced or are on the increase. It is all GOOD news really, not this eschatological crap! http://www.perthnow.com.au/technology/earth-is-in-the-early-stages-of-a-sixth-mass-extinction-says-the-journal-science/story-fnjww8p0-1227005464142?nk=d20ace337f888e4427617dd66a824e1f
03/08/2014: We have had a solitary wagtail in the garden now for at least four years. There ARE other wagtails about which mate and raise young, but not this guy. Is s/he gay? Does s/he suffer from the avian equivalent of misanthropy? Is s/he just completely unco in his dealings with his kind (as some people are), or does s/he suffer from the flycatcher version of shocking halitosis? There are SO many mysteries all about us…
03/08/2014: I have been re-reading Jack London. Such a wonderful writer. What a tragedy he was taken so early (41) with kidney stones. ‘Call of the Wild’ has got to be just about the best animal story ever written, though I still love ‘Tarka the Otter’!
01/08/2014: Unless I’m wrong wasn’t LIGHT the first creation in Genesis? So, it IS most surprising to me that astronomers have found that there is about five times more of it than there ought to be (adding up all the light sources). Similarly there is only about one fifth of the visible mass out there that gravity informs us exists. The universe remains a dazzlingly mysterious place: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22329782.700-strange-dark-stuff-is-making-the-universe-too-bright.html#.U9mqwGO-KGg
01/08/2014: And does it ever get any weirder than this: there are MANY bacteria whose diet is pure electricity, which simply ‘eat’ and ‘excrete’ the stuff. Someone will soon figure a way to get these little guys to do useful work: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25894-meet-the-electric-life-forms-that-live-on-pure-energy.html#.U9mrrWO-KGg
01/08/2014: Critters so often seem to be smarter than WE are. There was a simply terrible wind blowing yesterday (from the NW). Going round the lambs in the morning on our steep NW facing slope in many paces you were like to take off. Other spots which LOOK identical were completely still and @10C warmer – which is where the sheep chose to lamb. I have noticed this before on the dreadfully exposed flats we had at Yinnar and Kyabram where a shockingly cold, wet westerly wind swept all before it. The sheep/goats would nonetheless find that invisible spot amid the maelstrom which was dead calm to bed down. Of course they live outdoors in all weathers so it’s no surprise really they KNOW the best spots. When you are out in the wild looking for a good place to camp, take off your coat so you can FEEL the wind and warm, and seek out just that calmer, warmer, drier spot where your tent won’t blow away in the hurricane.
30/07/2014: What a great little tool/hairclip for your beloved! S/he might have to be a tad careful using it AS a hairclip, but it might come in handy in any other James Bond type situations s/he might encounter. (I wonder would you be allowed to board a plane wearing it...) WARNING: this site has SO many other ‘must haves’, it just makes your mouth water: http://www.animicausa.com/shop/Gifts-for-Him/Leatherdos-Mini-tools-clip/tpflypage.tpl.html
29/07/2014: I think I will try one of these. I KNOW it’s only 80 grams lighter than my Bushbuddy, but you have to score something for birthdays and Xmas, surely? Anyway, that’s nearly 3 oz of Bacardi 151, enough for a fair buzz around the campfire one night at least: http://www.suluk46.com/products%20%20-%20P14%20TDW%20Stove.html
28/07/2014: I have just discovered this section on eBay (Home & Gardening> Gardening> Plants, Seeds & Bulbs) where you can (eg) buy Moreton Bay Fig seedlings for $4.00 ea. Now YOU might not have enough room for a few more of these beauties, but WE do! We are working quietly away at converting our remaining @ 25 acres into a sort of (agro) forest of interesting and beautiful trees. There will even be SOME natives (though NO wattles or gums - as we consider them noxious weeds). We have a couple of dozen Bunyas (the seeds came from Palmgrove Crematorium (where we said farewell to Della’s parents), we already have one Moreton Bay @ 30’ high and will add more, as well as some Port Jackson figs, Kurrajongs, bottle trees (brachychitons), lillypillies, macadamias, etc. Mostly though our trees come from all over: a mix of beautiful (eg holm oaks), edible, useful etc. Yesterday we visited ‘Botanic Arc’ nursery at Warragul and came away with about three dozen trees which will just about complete our restoration of the old ‘dog yards’ at the back of the house (with an additional @ 100 trees). There we saw some interesting ‘warm climate’ trees happily growing (which we would not have suspected) so we will be adding some Queensland Kauris, some Cinnamon Trees, Black Bean, & etc. It would be well worth a visit (if only for the owners wonderfully eccentric repartee!) Beautiful day today for planting…
26/07/2014: Just bought a great new pair of wet weather pull-on boots, Otway Ranger Lo Soft (Toe) @ $75 from Scotts, Traralgon. I have just been around the lambs on the (steep) hill and can report that they have excellent grip on wet, clayey grass and are totally waterproof in 2” deep puddles. These are a (very comfortable) rubber boot with neoprene lining (for winter insulation). Recommended so far: http://www.otwayfootwear.com.au/mens_boots.html
24/07/2014: DUST! I know it gathers in OUR house. We have always blamed it on living in a mud brick house (never our lassitude as cleaners!) Still, who would have believed that it accumulates at 4” a century and WILL bury us all one day? Some days it feels a bit like that day might be quite imminent around here, (especially in winter when the JRs bring in SO much mud). THEN we get ‘Alexander’ (our domestic robot) humming. He may reverse entropy yet! http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/07/22/science-of-dust-picasso/
21/07/2014: It is interesting the way bower birds love blue things: their bowers are always decorated with them, yet it is almost impossible to find anything blue in the bush; indeed if you want to avoid losing bushwalking equipment always buy blue torches, tent pegs, pocket knives, etc. The bluest thing you CAN find (if you look closely) is the incredibly blue eyes bower birds have!
09/07/2014: The ‘young folks’ at ‘Ancestry’ sure are naïve about the number and kind of life skills the average ‘modern’ has lost; I could add a solid double handful before I even draw breath (eg the Cobb & Co hitch, the Spanish windlass, knitting, crochet, food preservation,…): http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/13/skills-your-great-grandparents-had-that-you-dont/?utm_source=taboola&utm_medium=referral&o_xid=60678&o_lid=60678&o_sch=Content+Marketing
07/07/2014: I was pretty happy with the ‘Declaration’, bifocals & pot-belly stoves actually, but this guy was responsible for SO much more: http://mentalfloss.com/article/29762/10-ben-franklins-lesser-known-feats-awesomeness
06/07/2014: Back in 1955 Emma 'Grandma' Gatewood (67 - mother of eleven and grandmother of twenty-three) was the first person to solo hike the (3,000km = 5 million steps ) Appalachian trail using her own home-made gear...She stood five foot two and weighed 150 pounds and the only survival training she had were lessons learned earning calluses on her farm. She had a mouth full of false teeth and bunions the size of prize marbles. She had no map, no sleeping bag, no tent. She was blind without her glasses, and she was utterly unprepared if she faced the wrath of a snowstorm, not all that rare on the trail. Five years before, a freezing Thanksgiving downpour killed more than three hundred in Appalachia, and most of them had houses....And she walked it THREE times...so what's STOPPING you: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/pick-up-your-feet-montgomery.html#.U7iX3rHm5dk Ebook here @ $16.95: https://books.jbhifi.com.au/Book/grandma-gatewoods-walk-the-inspiring-story-of-ben-montgomery/426687?gclid=CMy87qTJr78CFcIIvAodOaUA1Q
04/07/2014: Hiking food again: Ainsley Harriott ‘Creamy Vegetable Spelt’: THIS was quite delicious (so long as you have eg a Brasslite stove to simmer it on for @ 20 minutes). 150 GRAMS = 568 calories (3.78:1). If you feel you might need more protein, a sachet of tuna, 100 gram can of ham etc might be stirred in at the end:
02/07/2014: VERY touching eulogy: ‘Minds me of our old Maremma, Brandy who died two years ago at 14 (of prostate cancer). Even as he became weaker and weaker, he refused to forsake his duty: he slowly followed the sheep each day to pasture even though it took most of his day to make it there, and back again. The moment he had any suffering, I rescued him immediately with my .22. You can guarantee that my end will be the same. He was a GREAT dog and saved many thousands of lambs from an awful death. As I have said before, often I prefer dogs to people: http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/14/0214/020314.html
18/06/2014: If you have difficulty buying stuff online, check out http://www.shipito.com/ You can (for example) buy that stuff on Amazon (which has free US shipping but which they won’t send to Oz) and have shipito forward it. Some sites won’t (eg http://www.montbell.us/ who have wonderful ultralight clothing, sleeping bags, etc) even let you buy, but you can get a ‘virtual’ US debit card from shipito which will allow you to do so. THIS is the best sleeping bag: http://www.moontrail.com/montbell-ul-spiral-down-hugger-3-reg.php
15/06/2014: Naming Nebulae: I don’t think it is a COYOTE’S head at all. It is clearly an image of our beloved JR, Spot: http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/images/5824-sig14-009-Coyote-Head-Nebula-Does-Not-Approve
13/06/2014: The importance of hunting: ‘The report shows that hunting contributes $417 million annually to the Victorian economy, making us second only to the Spring Racing Carnival in importance to the state.’ http://gallery.mailchimp.com/e126ff12cbbcb8d3dfa71147b/files/7606e35c-a6a4-4da9-9775-acffc04f8211.pdf
13/06/2014: Human excrescences are not much in use any more. Once a vast industry revolved around the collection and preparation of human urine (for the chemical industry, dyeing, tanning, fellmongering, etc), but it has, alas fallen by the wayside; more artificial chemicals have replaced it. You would think that the ‘back to nature’ brigade would be ‘up in arms’ about this. There is also huge potential to collect human dung for recycling as nutrients. Millions of tonnes are simply swept into the seas (for the benefit of undeserving fishies alone) which could be spread on our fields to make them fertile, or used as some other raw material, perhaps in the building industry: I’m sure it could be formed into perfectly serviceable and natural house bricks. Why then you could properly say you live in a s—t house! A few die-hard recyclers yet collect navel fluff for stuffing small cushions. The odd carpenter mayhap still runs a nail (to be driven into a difficult piece of wood) through his hair to lubricate it (though no doubt the fashion to avoid Macassar – and the prevalence of nail guns has diminished this too, alas). As a hiker, you may like to know that when you burn the tips of your fingers on your billy, for example, they can be soothed by the oily excrescences of your ears. There’s a useful ultralight hiking tip for you! I learned it from this wonderful old fellow Richard Graves, The Bushcraft Books: http://chrismolloy.com/page.php?u=p131
11/06/2014: Toilet rolls should be BANNED. I wonder really that our emerald agitators have not hit on this particular remedy for the woes of our troubled forests. Why when we are hiking we manage to get by with (at most) 2-3 Kleenex tissues a day, which saves a lot on pack weight – and the handy purse-sized dispensers prevent the tissues from becoming saturated and unusable in the rain (which would happen to a toilet roll). But, think of the vast forests to be saved if everyone was FORCED to do this EVERY day. Why, we should never resile from the ability to use force on the citizenry – to make them better, of course!
11/06/2014: The gratitude of dogs: It really is less likely that dogs will bite the hand that feeds them than is the case with two-legged ‘pets’. I am minded of this each morning by the looks of adoring gratitude from our two, as I restoke the pot belly they are lying adjacent to or underneath. The effort spent caring for dogs is always handsomely rewarded, yet efforts to help our fellow humans is too often returned with spite and recriminations: is it any wonder really so many of people PREFER dogs?
08/06/2014: Invisible worlds: the archway: Straight outside our front door we have this archway: you’ve probably seen it before in family photos, as it makes an interesting backdrop. Around here we have often been too busy to notice things, but as we are slowing down we maybe have more time for noticing and less for doing…anyway, we were sitting in front of it the other night watching the pigeons fly…And hearing them too: since a have had my new Siemens waterproof hearing aids I can once again HEAR the wondrous ‘woosh’ of pigeon flight…we noticed a fair sized flock of starlings circling as well. It was just on dusk. We were wondering what they were doing. Well, Della put the pigeon food in the loft and opened the trap. The pigeons dropped into the loft like stones. A chill was creeping in, so we turned to go in the front door. Suddenly, literally in the blink of an eye I guess, 100 starlings fell out of the sky into that archway. They must have done this several thousand times since I built it many years ago, but we had never caught them doing so. They are quiet neighbours, obviously up at sunrise and off about their business, returning swiftly at dusk, and making no outward noise to advertise their presence. I am sure the potato vine has benefited enormously from their residence over the years though. So much in nature is virtually invisible to us even if it is right before our eyes. The arch was very simple to construct, and we do need more of them, one leading down to the shed, for example – a job for another day...I marked it out, drove 3’ lengths of ¾ gal water pipe into the ground vertically to half their length, then slipped the required length of concrete reo inside them (to form a hoop), and lengths of 1 ½ inch poly water pipe over them, Surprisingly each arch is strong enough like this for a large person like me to swing on. Having made a row of them, we simply clad them with light gal weldmesh (attached with cable ties), planted the potato vine/s, and voila! You used to be able to walk up pavers through it from the ‘guest’ parking below to our front door, but over the years Della has so cluttered it with interesting decorations this may no longer be possible…
02/06/2014: Della: A perfect Sunday! I couldn't have had a better day: 4 hours at the shop, a couple of hours (finally found) setting up and playing with my new Mother's Day toy (vintage Bernina sewing machine), then a drive down to the coast and a couple of hours walking with the dogs along the George Bass Coastal Walk (near Kilcunda). The weather was warm and dry (albeit overcast) and the only regret was that there was insufficient light to walk further. Spot was dazzled by the feel of running on sand, and did many excited high speed circuits just for the hell of it! How lovely it is to see the pure joy of a young dog! Tiny enjoyed herself too, but in a more dignified manner! Finally we topped it off with a splendid meal at McCartins Hotel in Leongatha (the Seniors' menu is to be recommended, if you qualify!). Spot and Tiny had to wait longer for their left-over store pies when they got home, but they opined that they, too, were delicious!
02/06/2014: Spent a couple of pleasant hours yesterday (as Della says) walking on the George Bass Coastal Walk http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/352803/Park-note-George-Bass-Coastal-Walk.pdf This can be combined with the Bass Coast Rail Trail http://www.railtrails.org.au/trail-descriptions/victoria/gippsland?view=trail&id=203 to make a walk from @ San Remo to Wonthaggi. It would be nice if a little more work/instruction could be implemented to take it all the way to Wilsons Prom. For example, there is no real problem with walking from Point Smyth Reserve (Venus Bay) to Bear Gully (Walkerville South) - though you have to climb up and around Cape Lipptrap. You would hope that eventually you could walk ALL of Victortia’s coast. There is a well-marked walk all the way from the South Australian border to Geelong. There is no obstacle to walking the ninety mile beach (except availability of water!). There is a walk from @ Bemm River to Eden called the Wilderness Coast Walk (19 days!) http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/croajingolong-national-park/things-to-do/walking-the-wilderness-coast Here and there a packraft might be handy to get yourself across the odd river or coastal inlet.
02/06/2014: Touchy-feely kiss the earth ‘nature lovers’ are always posting photos of some scrap of bush they want ‘saved,’ but I misdoubt any of them has spent a fraction of the time actually IN the wilds that I have. Every year for at least the last 30 years I have walked AT LEAST 1,000km/year through our wild places (and probably driven 5-10,000km); I have slept out on the ground probably 6-8 weeks in toto every year, (meaning that I have literally spent YEARS of my life LIVING in the wild places!) I am appalled at the consequences of the MISMANAGEMENT THEY advocate, especially the vast areas utterly destroyed by wildfires, destruction which COULD have been prevented but for their mismanagement: vast contiguous areas not been ‘locked up’, their (fire) access tracks closed; the absence of forestry clearing, grazing, mining, tourist facilities, fuel reduction burns etc meaning that there was NO refuge left for creatures to escape a horrible death from wild fires. Such management is NOT conservation; it is EVIL GREENIE MADNESS!
01/06/2014: There is a story going around on the net about a chap who has (so far) succeeded in shooting 13 LIONS (or elephants; anyway the article is always accompanied by a photo of him with various grisly remains!) And GOOD FOR HIM! Alas, we cannot ALL have the opportunity to bag innumerable elephants, pandas, platypodes, blue whales, etc - though I am sure we have all read all Teddy Roosevelt’s hunting books, etc but, here is an interesting book about a chap who satisfied his venality with the pursuit of RATS, ‘Tales of a Rat-Hunting Man’ (by Brian Plummer – I see he wrote many other fascinating books too, and was, like me a devotee of the Jack Russell terrier. Well DONE, Brian: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Plummer) This fascinating adventure story contains many riveting accounts of his pursuit of the wily rodent through the maggot factories and rubbish tips of England. Why he even (once) pursued his prey through the decomposing body of a circus elephant, which recalls my own adventures hunting foxes out of the carcass of a large beached whale many years ago! I note Roald Dahl ‘stole’ one of his excellent (Claud) bar stories about rat hunting from Brian. (http://www.roalddahlfans.com/shortstories/ratc.php ) Lo, how the mighty are fallen! Here is a review of this excellent tome: ‘After the initial shock of even considering a rat-catching professional, the title and content of this book are intriguing. The rat is "the unheralded game-animal of Great Britain," so much so that its proponents are feared and reviled as not quite "right." But from the time D. Brian Plummer received his first rat terrier at the age of 10, he dedicated himself to the sport of rat-catching using either dogs or ferrets. He actually enjoys killing rats and is pleased to share his techniques. Thank goodness for Plummer's wit and charm, which make the experience of reading about such nasty creatures a delight.’ It IS available here: http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Hunting-David-Brian-Plummer/dp/1906486271 Here’s Roald: ‘he tries to make amends with the men by showing them some rat tricks. He pulls a rat out of his pockets ("Always got a rat or two about me somewhere.") and drops it down the neck of his shirt. Then he drops in a ferret he pulled out of another pocket. A frantic chase and fight ensue in the shirt, and eventually the ratcatcher pulls out the dead rat and the bloody ferret. After that performance, he claims he can do something even more amazing: he can kill a rat himself without using his hands or arms or legs or feet. He gets Claud to bet him a shilling that he can't. He produces another live rat and they tie it to a car antenna. The ratcatcher begins to stare at the rat, moving closer and closer, until finally he strikes like a snake with his mouth open and his yellow teeth biting. The narrator closes his eyes, and when he opens them the ratcatcher is collecting his money and spitting out blood.’ I DO like THAT line, ‘Always got a rat or two about me somewhere’. I WANT it for my VERY own! I remember when I was a child most times having a ferret about my person (eg inside my shirt) too. This is a sadly neglected foible nowadays.
30/05/2014: Clancy: One great thing about camping out in an open shelter (such as I posted about 27 May) you have this all your own: ‘And at night the wond’rous glory of the everlasting stars.’ Here is the whole poem, just in case you have forgotten it, or were so MUCH poorer, and never learned it: Clancy of the Overflow (Banjo Paterson)
29/05/2014: THIS is simply the world’s greatest machete. If you don’t already own one, you MUST. It will make easy work even of removing blackberries: http://www.amazon.com/Fiskars-7860-Brush-Axe/dp/B000F99IEU/ref=pd_sim_hi_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0FZ0KWXB63ZCG1ZHF906 I have the Gerber version (http://www.amazon.com/Gerber-31-000083-Gator-Brush-Trimmer/dp/B0025VKMI2) which is probably much the same.
28/05/2014: I notice the author(s) of the wikipedia article continually want to comment on the ‘unexplained decline’ of moose numbers, perhaps so they can later blame it on that universal bogey, ‘climate change’, yet the self-same article mentions numerous instances of ‘unexplained increases’ in moose numbers in various (often Southern) areas. In some areas of the US ‘Lyme Disease’ has become quite a problem amongst deer - and hikers – I have met a number of young people who have contracted the dreadful thing – previously mainly a problem amongst C19th rat-catchers! In the Scandinavian countries (especially) moose numbers have been boosted enormously by sensible deer management (for hunting!)
27/05/2014: Matt intent: We always camp in an open shelter (something like this) with an open fire out the front. SO warm and cozy even on cold,wet days. This shelter is very easy to make. It consists of a square of Tyvek ‘Homewrap’ (available Bunnings in 30 metre rolls) 8’ x 8’ square. The ‘wings’ consist of another square the same size cut in half. One of these can be cut right off the roll; the other has to be sewn or stuck on (using Tyvek tape). (You end up with an isosceles triangle @ 16' x 23' x 16'on which you pitch like this. You can bring the 'wings' in towards the tree if rain/wind moves around to that direction - which it almost never does!) The tie-outs are tarp holders from Aussie’s.
27/05/2014: Our kitchen sink: the last few days. Matt and I jut spent four days hiking/hunting a day’s walk away from the car in the Wonnangatta-Moroka NP. Never have competition for who does the washing up at home, but this setting/plumbing makes a difference I guess…
07/05/2014: Some young folk are BORED with life. Others do THIS. I found myself holding my breath just watching Alex…There are also many OTHER interesting things to DO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Phl82D57P58
07/05/2014: Another 30 yesterday! I estimate there is space for at least another hundred trees in the (extended) garden alone before we move into areas where the trees will require fairly elaborate stock protection. Deciduous trees which can be grown from (large) cuttings, such as willows (there is an EVERGREEN variety) and poplars can be planted (@ 45cm deep and 1.5-2 metres high) in a plastic tube supported by a section of 19mm electrical conduit. As the 'guards are VERY flexible the sheep do not rub against them or climb on them to get at the shoots which grow out the top. By the time the plastic has decayed away the bark is hard enough the sheep will not trouble the trees...at least THAT is the theory!
06/05/2014: Della’s (latest batch of) green tomato pickles certainly passes the taste test. It is a condiment SUPREME. Thanks to Yinnar General Store for the tomatoes. She made MANY jars, enough for a multitude of breakfasts such as I am now savouring, but definitely NOT enough for YOU to have even ONE!
06/05/2014: We have a ‘pair’ of young pallid cuckoos in the garden. Our suspicion is they were raised by the blackbirds (as they seem keen to hang around with them). We wonder whether this pair (of siblings?) will mate and do the same thing next year, and so on…Eventually this hand-out cuckoo strategy (of paying others to breed for them) will exhaust the numbers of blackbirds and others (willing?) to raise their offspring for them. It is self-limiting really. Though they ARE attractive creatures (and the same MIGHT be said of other welfare hangers-on?) it REALLY would be better all round if they shifted for themselves…
05/05/2014: Trees, trees, trees. Della has had me busy planting them. (This may have reduced her value somewhat!) We will have to be careful to leap out of the way before they are springing up everywhere. We plan (I have this on GOOD authority) to have 25 acres of GARDEN. In the paddocks they will mostly be deciduous trees, as these should increase the available sheep feed whilst keeping the paddocks greener in the hot weather. Mostly yesterday’s 60 odd were grevilleas (as she has fallen in love with honeyeaters) – though the ‘strange’ bird in the garden she pointed out to me yesterday was a pallid cuckoo! It is anyway a harmless eccentricity and WILL keep us off the streets! I guess we have around 1,000-1,500 to go. This MAY take some time. It IS a good feeling though. I guess we already have @500+. Mostly I incline to things which produce useful fruit and nuts. Already I am a sort of god among the local parrots, currawongs and possums who come from miles away to check out our ‘dining table’. I am UTTERLY opposed to gums and wattles which I see as a dreadful invasive pest created by thousands of years of awful aboriginal mismanagement of our land which saw eg phosphorus levels drop to under 3ppm, barely enough to sustain ANY life (except such horrible things) – and which is the principal cause of our destructive bushfires. Around here, we will have damp and green – which doesn’t burn! We WILL have SOME natives (NOTE the grevilleas!); I am particularly fond of Moreton Bay Figs, and Araucarias for example.
29/04/2014: It is THAT time of year again (Time to remember that a ‘keat’ is a baby guinea fowl and that tuberculosis is a dreadful disease, best extinct – even if the Greens wouldn’t like that!): To Autumn :John Keats 1795-1821 To Autumn
SEASON of mists and mellow
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
21/04/2014: We have been watching old episodes of ‘Wagon Train’ (Series 1 & 2 1958-9) which then starred Ward Bond and Robert Horton. The scripting is very good. These were excellent stories, dealing with important issues well ahead of their time and were universally morally uplifting – something which is so often wanting in today’s shows.
24/04/2014: At first I thought this might replace my old hiking (booze) standby ‘Bacardi 151 (= 75% alcohol) but on further investigation I see it would weigh more - & likely taste crap to boot: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_powder
24/04/2014: In other hiking news, I am going to try THIS out as my new hiking alarm clock (http://www.invisibleclock.com/) @ 1.5 ounces. My increasing deafness makes it impossible for me to hear most lightweight alarm clocks, so if I have to get up early (eg to catch the tide for a walk along the beach - which I did on the South Coast Track) I can easily sleep in. I hope I NEVER need THIS one (which weighs over 5 ounces but @ 120 decibels it might even wake me up! http://www.screamingmeanie.com/
18/04/2014: The natural world still holds many great mysteries: for example there is something which is smarter and tougher than crows or (sulphur crested) cockatoos - else their numbers would be infinite. Yet you pretty much never see one killed on the road or its feathers scattered in the paddock by a predator. You can’t blame foxes, cats or motor cars, as something kept them in check long before these ‘pests’ were introduced, before even aborigines I imagine…What can it possibly be?
10/04/2014: On the wall of the Port Craig Schoolhouse was a photo of the last class there (c1928). Very poignant I felt. I wonder whether one of these bright youngsters still survives somewhere, still remembering her far-off schooldays?
09/04/2014: The South Coast Track, Fiordland NZ: is SO much better than the similarly named South Coast Track in Tasmania. You can have a number of different trips there. What will best suit most is a jet boat ride down the Wairaurahiri River staying either at the Wairaurahiri Hut or at the Waitutu Lodge ($30/night + hot showers). From the Lodge you can spend a few days exploring the bush and the sea, perhaps venturing on to the Waitutu or Big Rivers. Then you can walk back staying perhaps at the Percy Burn Hut (where there is an enormous timber viaduct built from Australian hardwood c1920!) or at the Port Craig Hut, or the (new) Port Craig Village - where you can enjoy hot showers and BOOZE for twin share $100/night. It is 6 ½ hours walk back to the Rarakau carpark just out of Tuatapere (you can arrange with the jet boat people to be picked up from the car park). It is 5 ½ hours walk along the beach only if the tide is low with some scrambling over rocks. You can break your walk with a camp on the grassy edge of Blowholes Beach (approximately half way). You can (if you are very intrepid) push on along the beach or through the bush after Westies Hut (in a sea cave after Big River) all the way to Puysegur Point lighthouse on Preservation inlet. There is a hut there at Te Oneroa from which you can explore the C19th ruins of the gold mining town of Cromarty. You can fly out by float plane from here (or stay at luxury resort Kisbee Lodge there – if you are exceptionally well-heeled!) After the Waitutu River you can push on up the Waitutu River to the hut on the Slaughter Burn and onwards to Lake Poteriteri, thence to Teal Bay on Lake Hauroko and on to the lake Hauroko car park where again you can be picked up by the jet boat operators.
26/03/2014: Expect a break from me: tomorrow I am off for ten days’ hiking in Fiordland. In the unlikely event that I capture a photo of a live moose, I will come back $100,000 richer as there is a prize offered. I HAVE seen one, and have seen much sign over the years: tracks, browse, fewmets…so I am in with a chance. Wish me luck. In any case, be assured I WILL enjoy myself in that vast wilderness.
20/03/2014: A great hunting story; a reminder that there ARE still many wild places: http://standpointmag.co.uk/dispatches-january-february-2014-hunting-lynx-with-the-old-believers-ben-judah-tuva-siberia
17/03/2014: Things you may not know:'...with the advent of the railroad, bags were about to experience a revolution. In 1843, there were nearly 2000 miles of railway lines in Great Britain. As more people travelled by train and more women became more mobile, professional luggage makers turned the skills of horse travel into those for train travel, and soon the term “handbag” emerged to describe these new hand-held luggage bags. Indeed, many of the top names of today's handbags got their start as luggage makers (in contrast to the previously made purses and pouches which were made by dressmakers). For example, Hermes bags were founded in 1837 by Thierry Hermes, a harness and saddle maker, while Louis Vuitton was a luggage packer for the Parisian rich. Modern handbags still allude to luggage with their pockets, fastenings, frames, locks, and keys.' http://www.randomhistory.com/2008/10/01_handbag.html
11/03/2014: 400 tigers today! Gee, thirty years ago I watched a documentary about some natives hunting a Sumatran tiger (this was back when there were only 200 of them!). They had to make their own guns out of car shockers, powered by match-heads (gunpowder being banned from civ hands in Indo), the lead bullets cast from fishing sinkers (only ONE shot). The guy had to keep a cigar burning in his mouth so he could 'touch off'’ the round. AND he bagged his tiger. Not a wink of it was wasted, not even the 'smile on the face of the tiger'! Magnificent achievement. THAT conservation has doubled the number of tigers, I see. Well done hunters!
10/03/2014: Someone quipped to me just yesterday. ‘Old age is NOT for sissies!’ Boy, you’re not just ‘whistling Dixie’! The young just wouldn’t be up to this shit! But their turn WILL come. Most of my (old) friends are either already dead or might as well be, creeping SAFELY towards the grave as they have been doing for yonks. Most have decided long ago that wilderness treks, hunting, white-water canoeing are not for them, at least not for THIS life. ‘What if you die out there?’ is an oft-repeated homily. ‘What if you don’t?’ is a fine reply - as what sort of life would you have had THEN, really? My grandad, George Jones used to opine, ‘Most folks die in bed, therefore bed is a dangerous pace and should be avoided!’ I remember going around to his shack AFTER he had just died and seeing a brace of hares hanging on his back verandah (as was his wont), hares he had shot out hunting a few days before in his late eighties. They will have to drag ME kicking and screaming out of this place!
10/03/2014: I think today is the last day here we will all be on 'FireWatch'. 1-2" of rain is on the way in two events in the next week following up on some rain we already had (albeit very locally) at Jeeralang Junction over the past ten days. I thought then, 'THIS is the autumn break' (ever an optimist!) but seems I was right! If it is, it is now safe to go away - perhaps to Dusky Sound! Also, the Hazelwood Open-cut fire is now 'under control' and should be out soon.
09/03/2014: Rechargeable angle grinders are such a boon for DIYers and civil disobedience in general. We have troublesome druggy greenies live further up the road who have 'organised' their leftie bureacrat mates on the local Council (as such folks DO!) to have our road signposted @ 60 klicks. We live 1km up this road which goes for another 33km before it meets the next one - through either farmland or forest. This is the only public road outside a built-up area as far as I know which has anything other than a 100km speed limit. Lots of my neighbours must have rechargeable angle grinders too, as the signs disappear even before I get to them - I was hoping to acquire a collection of them, rather than speeding tickets!
08/03/2014: Spent a couple of days at our old campsite on the Western Tyers (haven’t camped there for years). Still as beautiful as ever. We will be going back for a longer stay. So many beautiful places in Victoria. This tree has had thirty years to fall on us. Just have to give it another chance. Lots of trout and crays we haven’t eaten from this excellent stream:
08/03/2014: I love this poem (much as I hate the war that stole the poet from us!) I so agree with the sentiment. It is the small acts of conservation count most. We have an archway I constructed 20+ years ago harbours many fine birds who are maybe our friends. The wrens and antechinus love the blackberries I labour to destroy. The pardalotes find a home in a raw bulldozer cut on the hillside. The sea eagles nest in the open cut, finding the cliffs to their liking. The peregrine sees the Station stacks as merely an eyrie. The whistling kites hunt the ‘pest’ tilapia in the Pondage. Marsh warblers sing from the cumbungi in the roadside drains. The thornbills love spiders in our old sheds. Many birds collect our sheep’s cast wool for their nests…life WILL find a way: we do not need vast National Parks to destroy with vicious wildfire. SUCH ‘conservation’ is folly:
they stand, on their ends, the fifty faggots
That once were underwood of hazel and ash
In Jenny Pink's copse. Now, by the hedge
Close packed, they make a thicket fancy alone
Can creep through with the mouse and wren. Next spring
A blackbird or robin will nest there,
Accustomed to them, thinking they will remain
Whatever is for ever to a bird:
This Spring it is too late; the swift has come.
'Twas a hot day for carrying them up:
Better they will never warm me, though they must
Light several Winters' fires. Before they are done
The war will have ended, many other things
Have ended, maybe, that I can no more
Foresee or more control than robin and wren.
04/03/2014: My ‘Clearviewers’ arrived and they certainly ARE the solution to having difficulty taking photos with digital cameras. I think they make a better viewfinder than conventional cameras. http://www.clearviewer.com/Products.html
03/03/2014: Hiking food, an occasional series: if you are an omnivore like me, you probably have at least occasional lusts for venal delights (hiking food, folks!) The trick to satisfying these is to do so without spoilage/food poisoning…’Hans Twiggies’ are a staple with us (eg chopped & added to ‘Four Cheeses’ pasta) as they require no refrigeration. We have become concerned about the salamis issue since the Tibaldi & etc episodes. Sachets of tuna are good also, as is jerky. We have recently ‘discovered’ ‘Chinese Sausage’ which is vacuum packed and needs no refrigeration until it is opened. It is also fatty enough you can fry it without oil which is a handy trick in the wilderness. Adding it to various dehydrated meals makes them much tastier. I recommend them with Ainsley Harriot’s Lentil Dahl with a side of Continental Mash (with onions) and Surprise Peas, for example. PS Continental ‘Tuna Mornay’ dehydrated packet sauce goes well with a sachet of tuna, two minute noodles & Surprise Peas’. There you are: THREE fine hiking dinners, enough for a four day trip. Enjoy!
03/03/2014: Indeed! I have long advocated for the introduction of beavers (and the promotion of willows and aspens) for the self-same reason: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/29/beavers-dam-flooding-owen-paterson
26/02/2014: Windfall winners: all sorts of critters come to our larder (orchard) most times of the year. Lots of native critters (possums, parrots, currawongs, etc) have quite insufficient fear and loathing of ‘introduced’ plants such as apple/pear trees; they are like to leave US nothing. Here a kitten rabbit just outside our bedroom window fattens himself for the pot (!) on an apple, and our aged JR, Tiny has been gorging on a windfall pear. Evidently pears too are soporific:
25/02/2014: Worth knowing: T-rex would need to consume @ one ten year old child per day in order to survive. I'm sure we have all known at least one of the latter who would best be utilised in this way (Think: little brother/sister!) Alternatively each T-rex would need about 80 Big Macs, so even a small town could support a few: http://what-if.xkcd.com/78/
25/02/2014: Little known fact: Cedara Agricultural Development Institute's Applied Ruminant Nutrition for Dairy Cows: 'Cows on a typical dairy ration can produce 80 to 100 litres of saliva per day.' You NEEDED to know that!
25/02/2014: HOW THINGS WORK: the 1911 .45 – you’ve probably seen thousands of these fired on movies over the years, but have you ever wondered what makes it tick? Also see ‘How a Car Engine Works’: http://animagraffs.com/how-a-handgun-works-1911-45/
24/02/2014: Michael Marshall, New Scientist a5/02/2014: ‘Female preying mantises are famous for devouring their lovers…Males are large compared with other food items, so they’re nutritious. The females often go for the male’s head first…removing the male’s sexual inhibitions and causing him to mate for longer…’ Girls, these mantids might just be on to something here!
24/02/2014: Sadly, James Delingpole will blog no more. His final post was a beauty though: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100259000/watching-lions-eat-a-giraffe-is-a-family-day-out/
22/02/2014: It IS astonishing that these ‘Green’ folks have managed to arrange a (Virtual ban) on wood stoves. They have succeeded here and in NZ too at least insofar as you are not allowed to install a chimney damper which is what makes the stove conserve wood and put out lots of heat. If you have a stove which is really churning through the wood (Read: several times as much) and not even warm enough to boil the billy on (like all the new stoves they have installed in the hiking huts in Fiordland!) get on to eBay and buy a damper (from England) for less than $20. You will be astonished at the difference: http://www.newsmax.com/newswidget/heat-energy-wood-stoves/2014/02/18/id/553372?promo_code=EB8D-1&utm_source=National_Review&utm_medium=nmwidget&utm_campaign=widgetphase1
20/02/2014: Interesting facts about whales: ‘There are bowhead whales still alive in arctic that were born long before Moby Dick was written in 1851…Thirty four years ago, scientists counted 1,200 (bowhead) whales. Today there are about 14,000 of the mammals out there.’ http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/there-are-whales-alive-today-who-were-born-before-moby-dick-was-written-660944/#.UwFWUVflt8s.twitter
18/02/2014: Many examples of undecyphered runes exist in Greenland and North America, for example. The past has many lessons to teach us yet: http://sciencenordic.com/mysterious-code-viking-runes-cracked
Two men, Sigurd and Lavrans, carved their names both in code and in standard runes on this stick, dated from the 13th century and found at the Bergen Wharf. This helped researcher Jonas Nordby crack the jötunvillur code.
17/02/2014: There ARE other kinds of heroes: Saving one’s country is all very well, but saving your wife’s garden has to rate too! I have just spent most of two days in the heat devising & implementing a method which rescued the water that was leaking from our dam: enough to run sprinklers for over an hour per day. Also connected the top dam (which is on a spring) to the downstream pump providing perhaps another hour of watering - just when we thought the garden was certain to die!
17/02/2014: The view from the front gate our old farm (Dobbins Hill sold 2003) yesterday afternoon on our way back from our walk. We always used to have to nudge people out of the way to get in: the view across the valley to the Baw Baws was so spectacular. The fire in the open cut has clearly become even bigger. It must now stretch for kilometres around the whole Eastern end. Firefighters have been prevented from doing much down there because of the CO risk (there was even a ‘Stay Inside!’ alert issued to all Morwell West End residents yesterday because of this risk). I suspect it will not be possible to extinguish this fire until there are several inches of heavy rain on it – perhaps not even then, as coal seams can burn in the absence of oxygen. These TWO open cut fires certainly rank as National Disasters. THREE generators are at risk from it (Hazelwood, Yallourn , Morwell) representing nearly half of Vic’s electricity supply! The longer it burns the more difficult it will be to put out as it will undermine the surfaces and burrow deeper in to the seams. Mt Wingen near Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley has a coal seam which has been burning for THOUSANDS of years. (There are over 30,000 such fires world-wide whose collective CO2 output is greater than all mankind’s!)
17/02/2014: 850,000 year old footprints discovered on a beach in England: human prehistory is replete with mysteries: http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/science-discovers-new-ignorance-about-the-past.aspx
15/02/2014: Human DNA has some interesting stories to tell. Previously historians believed the Bushmen were one of the most isolated human populations. DNA NOW tells us that they received an infusion of European and Neanderthal DNA (together) between 900-3,000 years ago. This would indicate a previously unknown Viking or Greco-Roman colony in Southern Africa which WILL one day be found and excavated. The ancient Greek historian, Herodotus tells of the voyage of Necho, who reported "as they sailed on a westerly course round the southern end of Libya (Africa), they had the sun on their right - to northward of them" (The Histories 4.42) which indicated that they HAD sailed from the Red Sea to the mouth of the Nile right around Africa somewhere between 610 and 594BC…
10/02/2014: In Vic we employ 15-20,000 ‘green’ folk in our Dept of ‘Sustainability’ & Parks Vic, and heaps more in Metropolitan Fire Brigades all on huge salaries, with weekends (like this) off and enormous superannuation. Why, many will be on leave at a time each year when fire is most likely to strike. Meanwhile Vic burns! And VOLUNTEERS and farmers like us are pretty much all that stands between our lives and horrible death. All around US there are ‘good’ green folk on ‘environmental living’ blocks let run to weeds and tinder (none of whom is in the CFA it goes without saying!) Next door two greenies have ‘conserved’ dozens of acres of grass all summer. Others behind us have ‘conserved’ hundreds of acres of vermin and weed infested rubbishy regrowth, a vast powder keg, leaving us to fight the conflagration that threatens to explode any minute from their (subsidised) green madness. O, how I hate the Greens!
09/02/2014: I asked several people today whether they thought the moon was bigger when it first appears on the horizon or whether it was an optical illusion. Without wanting to spoil the answer for you, I should like to report that a number of people were sure that it WAS closer when it was near the horizon. These flat-earth advocates no doubt also eat organic food because it contains no chemicals and totally eschew di-hydrogen monoxide!
08/02/2014: This is something you can do if you’ve got tank water and it is 40C+ outside. I installed these sprinklers on the roofline mainly for ember attack on fire days. They are doing double duty dragging the temperature in the house down this afternoon. You would not believe how warm the water is coming off the roof at the front of the house:
08/02/2014: What about that: you probably thought I WAS a primitive type, and you were likely right, ‘Hairiness, blonde hair, and thick body hair are all thought to have been inherited from Neanderthals…Researchers believe that darker skin and hair colour came from the human gene lines, whereas genes yielding red or blonde hair and lighter skin complexion came from Neanderthals. Perhaps that explains like regions such as Scotland and Scandinavia where Neanderthals are believed to have survived the longest have the highest rates of red or blond hair and fair skin.’: http://www.dailytech.com/NeanderthalHuman+Breeding+Was+Hard+But+Yielded+Benefits/article34236.htm
04/02/2014: Could this possibly be TRUE? Apparently it IS! In some of KS Robinson’s novels (eg ‘2312’) the ‘terminator’ on Mercury moves slowly enough that a walker can keep ahead of it (unlike on Earth – where you need a VERY quick plane @ 1,000 kph). Though on the ‘day’ side Mercury is hot enough to melt lead or something, on the ‘night’ side it has a ‘habitable’ temperature? There is even some speculation (amongst astronomers, etc) that there MAY be dark craters on Mercury where sunlight never falls (as has been proven on our moon) and where ice may linger, indeed where it may be possible to ski! The universe certainly IS a fascinating place! http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/qa/index.php?faq=1&ca=34#qn408 & (GREAT website) http://intergalactictravelbureau.com/mercury/
03/02/2014: Whether to selectively kill man-eating great white sharks? These are nasty beasties at the best of times – just ask the seals and penguins, people. Their behaviour has been made so much worse by tourist operators training them to associate people with food by encouraging them to come take lamb legs & etc from sight-seers' hands just so they get an interesting photo-shoot. This is called ‘eco tourism’! Then there are the innumerable surfers DISGUISING themselves as seals (their ‘natural’ prey) in black wet-suits to also add encouragement to the sharks’ excessively unpleasant predilection for vicious carnivorous pranks! No-one seems to mind when hunters risk their lives to cull the odd man-eating tiger, lion, polar bear, crocodile…or when council officers put down a brutal dog which has just squaffled some innocent babe! Most folks think that child molesters should entertain us at the end of a rope! What is it about the odd very nasty great white shark that belies the same treatment for them? It is the SAME thing folks!
02/02/2014: Sharks are fish. I had a can of tuna for lunch. Ergo, I am a monster! I would MUCH rather eat a fish than have it eat me. While I am on this non-PC topic, I also doubt dolphins and whales are much smarter than sheep or cows. Indeed, neither of the above is known for mass suicide such as cetaceans seem to enjoy. They are (in the wild) also generally harder to catch than ‘Flipper’. If we don’t kill and eat the latter, they will breed up until there ARE no fish in the sea. All this crazy neo-Buddhist stuff: Save the everything. What do you think you were raised on, people: meat pies and Birds Eyes. What do you imagine was in the fish fingers? Get over it people, WE are the mega-predator. Quit the guilt and enjoy. Fillet of Moby Dick tonight, please Della! http://quadrant.org.au/opinion/doomed-planet/2014/01/sharks-taste-greenies/
27/01/2014: It is almost THIS difficult already in Oz to deal with things which want to eat your lambs. Traps? Snares? Both banned. $60,000 fine PLUS other penalties (eg loss of shooter’s licence, placed on register etc, etc) Try putting out poison baits. Licences, course/s, permits, paperwork…Shooting? Perhaps your farm NOW resides in a ‘Environmental Living Zone’, then it’s NO GO!…Of course this is only when it is just FOXES. If it is someone else’s dog, WELL! What if it is, Hush! Wait for it! A wedged-tailed eagle? – which it commonly is. (Curiously the ‘Farm Chemical User’s’ course I was COMPELLED to attend [TWICE now!] to get my ‘permit’- I still have to apply to buy FOX baits and then fill in lots of paperwork etc if I want to use them) informed me that the lethal dose (of 10:80) for eagles is EIGHT TIMES that for foxes – a useful piece of info! ‘Shoot, Shovel and Shut Up’ is MUCH quicker and more effective: http://neveryetmelted.com/2014/01/23/just-a-few-years-down-the-road/
27/01/2014: Some wonderful hiking ‘goodies’ here. I liked the ‘Grip Socks, the mylar survival poncho and the new Vasque shoes, for example: http://gossamergear.com/wp/buzz-blog/outdoor-retailer-delivers-again-loads-of-new-updated-lighter-better-and-outrageous-gear-and-some-items-you-didnt-know-you-needed-or-not
26/01/2014: NEVER have to sharpen your knife again: GREAT for hunting; these made useful gifts for myself and the two ‘boys’ @ US$34.95 on Amazon (105 grams): http://www.outdooredge.com/Razor-Blaze-p/razor-blaze.htm These little guys, the Gerber ‘E.A.B. Lite’ utilising a standard ‘Stanley’ knife blade (@67 grams) are very handy for everyday use: http://www.amazon.com/Gerber-31-000345-E-A-B-Pocket-Knife/dp/B002RILCLY
24/01/2014: Already a lightweight hiker, I have nonetheless managed to shave off nearly 2kg from my pack weight in prep for our next foray into the Fiordland wilderness. These were amongst the savings: http://www.zpacks.com/ cuben raincoat (save 334 grams), https://goosefeetgear.com/ waterproof over booties (save 365 grams), http://www.montbell.com/ Ex Light Down Jacket (save 200 grams), new pot & stove combo http://www.traildesigns.com/stoves/toaks-1100ml-ti-pot-frying-pan-fissure-ti-tri-bundle (save 165 grams), new waterproof camera Sony Cyber Shot DSC-TX200V ( Save 170 grams), lightweight dry clothes eg Tachyon wind jacket (@ 1.6oz & Dynamo pants @2.6oz by Montbell (save 498 grams)…compared to our South Coast walk in Tasmania in 2011 my pack weight is down OVER 4.5 kg. I should be carrying UNDER 10kg at the beginning of our Fiordland walk (including 10 days’ food (& rum!)
23/01/2014: No finer epitaph could I have than‘, He ate what was set before him,’ Robert Heinlein, ‘Starman Jones’, p. 234. (GREAT title!) The prevailing sense of ‘entitlement’ is SO wrong. We have only THIS life, not some yearned for fairy-tale. Grab life with both hands. Carpe that old Diem. ie ‘Seize the day’. Enjoy!
22/01/2014: 22/01/2014: My new raincoat. 154 grams (in my size) in waterproof, 40,000ml breathable cuben fibre from http://www.zpacks.com/ It IS spectacular. Rolls up to the size of a pack of cigs. It comes in this attractive white colour only. Can hardly wait for some rain so I can try it out! It has Spot’s seal of approval , as you can see.
21/01/2014: If you wonder WHY I return again & again to Fiordland (& the Dusky Track) maybe this excerpt from ‘Shadowland’ will whet your appetite. (Della’s favourite part, the kakapo @ 37secs in). You MAY have to BUY the complete vid as no-one seems to have uploaded it, but it WILL be worth it. Even more worthwhile is to tramp the Fiordland wilderness. If you feel you are not as fit as we geriatrics, treat yourself to a heli or plane tour out of Te Anau. Ah, back again in Feb/Mar 2014: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jF4ugISWMT8
20/01/2014: Dogs just can’t be made to speak clearly (and they are not alone there, as my advancing geriatric deafness attests!) After our two Westies died our remaining ancient Jack Russell, Tiny showed every evidence of wanting to learn to talk. I spent many hours training her until (I thought) she could quite clearly say, ‘Food’! However, immediately we bought her a new puppy (Spot) she ceased all attempts at oral communication. This was clearly because she had been trying to say, ‘Puppy’ when I just thought she said, ‘food’. It is surprising how few animals have learned how to speak English (or any other language for that matter). What s even more surprising is how many fewer humans have learned to speak ‘Animal’ considering that we consider ourselves to be the smartest animal! This man is perhaps the only exception: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xvccpd_my-life-as-a-turkey-hd_shortfilms
19/01/2014: THIS would be a pretty neat gadget if he can make it work: there may be some difficulty extracting sufficient dissolved oxygen from the available water quickly enough – large animals like humans DO require quite a bit, but you must have all seen those vids of underwater rabbits & etc, so the concept might work. (Thanks to Kathryn Graham for the link): http://inhabitat.com/triton-scuba-mask-transforms-divers-into-human-fish/
09/01/2014: Ah, the rush to publish…Della has beaten me hands down on this one – I blame a nasty episode of Meniere’s. Foxbaits laid on our intended route, we ventured instead into the Baw Baw Nat Park (of course not telling the dogs; they were doing anything wrong – you wouldn’t want to fill them with guilt; they were enjoying themselves too much). I used to hunt over that whole area with hounds before it was declared a nat park (in 1983?) and indeed until we were ourselves hunted out of there by police in helicopters one Queen’s Birthday weekend in the mid 80’s! Della was there then too. There is still a hunter’s hut no more than a km from the Mushroom rocks (NOT the scout hut!) where once I warmed Della’s frozen feet on a snowy morn about five years ago. I have been wanting to take Della on the full Warburton to Walhalla walk (four days – and GREAT in hot weather because temp drops by @1C per 100metres elevation). I think I may persuade her now. We walked past the Mushroom Rocks, climbed Mt Erica and went on to the ruins of the Talbot Hut and the extraordinary stream nearby right on the top of the mountain. There are many such streams right across the Baw Baw plateau so that water is never a problem. Beautiful clear, & icy-cold too. The plateau is well-named as there are @ two days of quite flat walking from Mt Erica on until you begin your descent after Mt Whitelaw amid beautiful snow gums and other interesting alpine veg such as prostrate conifers and many mountain flowers.
06/01/2014: Exped ultralight pillow (@45 grams http://www.moontrail.com/exped-airpillow-ul-m.php). Received one of these for Xmas and tried it out last night. VERY comfortable. I have been seeking a new hiking pillow since Graham Medical stopped making their dual chamber ‘Flexair’ pillow. This could well be IT. Unlike Bonnie Prince Charlie who famously used a rock for a pillow (and was taunted as a sissy for needing one - in the snow during the raising of the Highlands), I NEED a comfortable pillow. This one allows you to sleep either on your back or your side, and is lower on one side (so supporting your neck and preventing nasty ‘cricks’). I recommend this product, but I would also like to try Thermarest’s new offering in the same category before I decide which is best. (http://www.cascadedesigns.com/therm-a-rest/pillows-and-bedding/neoair-pillow/product @ 55 grams!)
04/01/2014: Spot’s birthday trip: Amazing really how (too) busy you can be. THIS lovely waterfall (one of a series of three!) is just around the corner from us (on the Morwell River), yet having lived nearby for 22 years we had never visited it until Wednesday. Spot (as you can see) enjoyed it too. I hope my new (Xmas) camera, a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX200V Waterproof (114 grams) will get lots of work this year:
03/01/2014: I have been really enjoying this website about Mawson’s expeditions (especially with the AGW ship stuck in the summer ice 75 km off-shore!). If I had been Mawson I would have fed the dead Mertz to the dogs in order to maximise the distance the dogs could pull me on the return journey before they were all ‘used up’. Mathematics ought to be able to prove whether he did so. Other things mathematics OUGHT to be able to establish: the correct batting order for the Australian cricket team (eg Do you really get the best overall score by having your best batters batting when the bowler is freshest?) http://mawsonshuts.antarctica.gov.au/cape-denison