Ultralight Hiking:

See also:


Ultralight Hiking Advice

The Upper Yarra Walking Track

Hiking 2019

Hiking 2018

Hiking 2017

Hiking 2016

Hiking 2015

Hiking 2014.htm

Hiking 2013 & Earlier

Steve's Blog

World Travel Kit for Son



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Della & I (combined age then 120) heading off from Freney Lagoon on the second day of our walk across Tasmania in 2011. We took seven days. Between us we were carrying @ 20 kilos & enough food (& booze!) for 10 days. These zpacks ‘Blast’ packs are 52 litres including pockets and weigh around 300 grams. Today we would be carrying several kilos LESS.

All about light weight, ultra light hiking, backpacking, bushwalking, hunting, tracks, trails, adventures, gear, reviews…

I have been hiking/hunting now for over sixty years, a little more slowly than I once did, walking in the Victorian Alps & elsewhere often in winter and in all weathers. I have camped out a lot, more than two years of my life in toto. I have seen the failure of just about every type of gear, and experienced most disasters which can befall you in the wilderness, and survived. So, if you dream of doing a bit of camping/hiking, maybe I can offer some useful advice?

This is a ‘work in progress’. I will be adding to it on a regular basis adding new photos, adventures, product/ideas, suggestions, etc. You should also look at HIKING ADVICE also a section of gear advice for my son written in 2011 WORLD TRAVEL KIT FOR SON. You can also see my older posts above, eg Hiking 2017. Hope you find something interesting.

PS: UPPER YARRA TRACK: I have recently created this site The Upper Yarra Walking Track 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



01/12/2021: This may just be a problem with self-driving cars. This one does not see the camel: https://www.michaelsmithnews.com/2021/11/tesla-v-camel.html


30/11/2021: Wonnangatta #24.1: Well, I was wrong. Who can imagine how this guy made so many mistakes yet eluded police for so long. Clearly he did confess. At least the families can have some closure now and bush campers can breathe a sigh of relief: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/police-to-search-for-bodies-of-russell-hill-and-carol-clay-near-grant-historic-area-in-east-gippsland/news-story/a6cdb668f664f06263ec9b7cd8eb87be


30/11/2021: Imagine hooking into one of these next time you go fishing: https://www.michaelsmithnews.com/2021/11/hold-on-this-might-get-rough.html


27/11/2021: Wonnangatta #24: Frankly I am surprised that police can actually charge Lynn on the ‘evidence’ revealed to the public so far. I admit they may have other ‘evidence’ which they have not revealed. I agree that ‘painting’ him as a double murderer seems the most likely explanation so far but that hardly adds up to ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.


As I said in my last post about this (10/11): attempting to flee the crime scene along a route which you did not know was open (and finding that it wasn’t – and you with a car/trailer full of dead bodies you could not turn around) is colossally stupid, and yet the real murderer was able to perform the job well enough and quickly in the first instance that police were not convinced for months that there had been a murder!


All along I said that the (competent) murderer would have come out by a route which he knew was open, eg by returning the same way he entered, preferably doing both in the dark without lights, ie with night vision goggles - supposing he had targeted them and knew their location because of their radio call – as discussed in an earlier post. A friend of mine tells me he has informed police of a chap he has seen driving around that area in just this way. If you waited (off the track) until after midnight you should not encounter anyone. You would be the invisible man. As I have said many times a competent murderer would have had his phone turned off during the entire ‘operation’ such that police should be investigating people (likely linked to the couple) whose phones did not move for just such a protracted period.


If you really were the murderer and you made the mistake of finding the first route blocked you would have surely returned and exited by the Zeka Track likely how you go there in the first place instead of continuing along on a complex route which might be blocked again and again and may contain many other unexpected problems (witnesses for a start). This is more like what a tourist would do.


First police need to establish that there has been a crime – and indeed murders. For nearly six months they refused to admit that such an explanation ‘fitted’ the case. So, there was clearly nothing from the ‘crime scene’ which could undeniably establish that. There has been no subsequent revelation of any bodies or even DNA which might indicate bodies. Only a couple of weeks ago police were still asking about the elderly couple/s seen at Black Snake Creek and elsewhere subsequent to the ‘disappearance’ so they still believed then there remained a possibility the couple may have still been alive.


The highly unlikely possibility still exists that there is another explanation (other than murder) even something as unlikely as this: that one of the people who disappeared killed the other, transported their body to a hiding place (eg a hollow tree) off the road some distance away, returned, set the camp on fire then returned to the hollow tree, immured themselves also therein, then took their own life so that they would never be found.


Of course that never happened but there are many other possibilities. Suspicions have almost exclusively concentrated on folks entering and leaving the valley by vehicle. Many people I know or know of (including myself) have entered or exited (or both) in other ways eg on foot, by bicycle, horse, canoe/pack raft, even by ultralight aircraft…They might have left no more sign of their presence than a ghost.


That era of (Nissan) 4WD are very ‘collectable’ so people frequently spend more than the (new) purchase price doing them up and modifying them. It is no surprise that it might have been innocuously repainted (around a year later). If all they have is a photo of him and his trailer on the Great Alpine Rd 80 km away and 12 hours later I think they have too little and he certainly can't be found guilty even if it was him.


They may have a couple of other phone ‘logs’ consistent with the route they say he took from the Wonnangatta, but he has (evidently) admitted to being camped in there (like many other people) and been interviewed about it in 2020.


Of course not being able to locate the trailer as well doesn’t look good (for him) but when you dispose of a rusty trailer (as I have) frequently there would be no reason to keep a record of where it is now especially if was just taken to the tip (for example). It is also clear (from photographs) that he has replaced that earlier camping trailer with a more dedicated model as we can see it in photographs in his driveway. That too is perfectly normal behaviour and a reasonable explanation for having disposed of the first trailer. Of course 2-3 such things taken together look bad. But that is still purely circumstantial, unless he lies about them (which might be that extra piece of ‘evidence’ I mentioned at the beginning).


If he transported the bodies in the trailer and the car has been resprayed and detailed there will very likely be no DNA in the car. We should remember though that the Falconio murderer has been convicted on the basis if a microscopic speck of blood on an item of clothing. If the trailer has gone to scrap there will be none to be had there either. Even if it has not and is eventually located but he had gurneyed it thoroughly and it has subsequently been left outdoors (as most of us do) for nearly two years it is unlikely there will be any evidence left. So even if he did it (and there are no witnesses) and he did not keep anything (eg the phones/drones etc) then there may be no evidence. He would have to ‘walk’ even if it was him.


Even the bodies if found might not provide anything pointing to a potential culprit. Unless you shot them and failed to extract and dispose of the bullets it is unlikely that there would be anything in their remains after two years to ‘point’ to a particular culprit. Even if a hair from the culprit’s head had fallen near the bodies what is the chance that it would still be there (birds’ nesting material) or would not be too degraded to be useful for identification purposes – or that a single hair could be found?


The single biggest mistake would be if he left them in the sleeping bags he is suggested sometimes to have taken them away in. It is all too likely that in the process of getting them into those bags some minuscule piece of one’s own DNA gets into the bag which might well keep it contained and preserved for a very long while. I have seen sleeping bags, pillow cases and the like left for years outdoors which preserved their integrity and contents. After all scientists have extracted ‘useable’ DNA from creatures as ancient as dinosaurs.


If he chose to continue up the Wonnangatta Track, which was presumably gated at Van Damme’s Helipad to head for Myrtleford etc that is hardly surprising. One of the few (destination) signs in the Wonnangatta valley I remember is the one at that intersection at the top of the valley, so lots of people who come in elsewhere would think to drive through and exit that way. Clearly he did not come in that way. The fact that he was apprehended at Doolans Plain suggests familiarity with the Howitt Plains area though, suggesting he came in via Zeka Track - or perhaps the Eaglevale Track (as most people do one or the other).


Frankly I am astonished that the (lazy) Parks people had not placed a sign at the beginning of that track saying that the exit was closed. No-one would expect it to be closed on a long weekend. By the time the vehicle tracks turning around at the gate were viewed at least a week later (and after some rain had ensued) they could surely have been made by a number of different vehicles over that time.


There has been some odd speculation by police/journalists about his route after being turned back at that gate. Some suggest he exited via the Blue Rag Track which is (famously) one of the longest and steepest dead-end tracks in Victoria – and so cannot have been used. The mention of ‘Blue Rag’ might simply mean that his phone was logged in the vicinity of Mt Blue Rag, which seems fairly likely as it is one of the highest points on the High Plains Rd.


If he traveled down Rileys Creek Track and finally out past Grant rather than going back into the valley he would have risked passing many other campers (as there are lots and lots of campsites along that route). A ‘guilty party’ would more likely have returned to the Wonnangatta then exited via the Zeka Track where he would (likely) be seen by many fewer campers, if any – as he would have known too if he entered from there. Of course people do behave quite irrationaly at times - not least by murdering complete strangers!


I do find taking a station wagon and a well-loaded trailer into the Wonnangatta rather strange – especially if you were by yourself! I just can’t imagine what you would need with all that gear – or what the strange flat object (approx 1.5 x 1.5 metres) is tied on top of the trailer in the roadside camera snap. Is it a folded table tennis table? It is as weirdly distinctive as the strange black 4-6” pipe on the right hand side of his roof rack and the four ‘rod holders’ (?) on the left hand side of the bull-bar. If you were intent on disguising the vehicle you would get rid of those strange objects long before two years had passed – or never have had them in the first place.


Having all that gear indicates (to me) that he had other/s with him. It also suggests that neither they nor he is saying anything much about who was there or about the trip in general. Saying nought is not in itself suspicious either. Surely many of us who have lawyer fiends have been long-since counseled by them to say nothing to the police. They have a long, sordid history after all of ‘fitting up’ people for hard-to-solve crimes especially. The case of Timothy Evans (wrongfully hanged for his wife’s murder – by another man) is an important reminder about the awful consequences which can arise in cases of miscarriages of justice.


I think it likely if he said anything much during those three trying days of questioning that the police would seem to know more than they obviously do. For example they would know pretty much exactly where the bodies are – and the trailer. It seems unlikely that his wife or son or anyone else has told police anything more either – or there would be some indication from the media. Police ‘evidence’ seems pretty thin on the ground at this point. It may also be the case that he said very little because he knew very little – as the murderer is not him.


If there was a double murder, something which I concluded as the most likely scenario (ie 90%+) at the outset, the perpetrator had extraordinary good luck in his getaway eg with no-one reporting the burned-out campsite for nearly a week even though it must have been seen by many people in that time – and was indeed discovered at 2:00 pm on the day after. This ‘withering’ of evidence may make the perpetrator seem much cleverer than he in fact was, but the fact that the (expert) police did not conclude for many months that there had indeed been ‘misadventure’ is rather telling  too. It does not indicate a stupid person likely to make obvious mistakes – like driving up closed tracks or past lots of campers or having one’s phone on. The last seems particularly unlikely of you are a (guilty) airline pilot used to sophisticated electronics and the importance of turning them off.


I have never been so lucky. When I leave my car unattended up the bush (to go hunting/canoeing etc) I always now leave a note on the dash because too many times the car has been reported to police on the same day I left it by ‘helpful’ folks. This has happened to others I know as  well. A friend had some embarrassing explaining to do to his work when he took a day off to go hunting once and had his car reported as ‘abandoned’ in the bush.


Lynn has clearly been able to employ one of the best lawyers in Victoria – so he is well advised. Police will need to come up with rather more evidence than they seem to have at this juncture if they expect to secure a conviction – even if he is the perpetrator.


26/11/2021: Today I’m going to dissolve my weiner in acid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO9rvqp49qg


24/11/2021: A Hawk in the Hand: You've heard the saying, "A cat among the pigeons"? Della keeps a whole cage of these white homing pigeons just because she likes them. Unfortunately so do hawks. They sometimes catch and kill one but sometimes too they foolishly find their way into the loft and become trapped. Then they get a trip in a pigeon carrier cage to a distant spot from where hopefully they aren't 'homing hawks'. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/11/23/a-hawk-in-the-hand/


24/11/2021: The very last C19th person dies at 124 years old: https://www.the-sun.com/news/4125578/oldest-ever-human-francisca-susano-dies/

23/11/2021: Setting Free the Turtles: There has been a veritable 'plague' of Long-Necked Turtles on the roads around here lately. Perhaps it is 'nesting' season. Yesterday I 'rescued' a couple for liberation in our dam to join a couple of local denizens who after all may be same-sex. It would be nice to have them breeding here.

We plan an extension to our water features on our farm over time so that we have over a dozen inter-connected dams/ponds with overhanging trees, nesting boxes & etc. Together with our fox-proof fences this should create a wonderful wetland wildlife haven for water birds and water creatures: turtles, eels crays, fish - who knows we may even attract some water rats? See More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/11/23/setting-free-the-turtles/

21/11/2021: Olympus Mons –three times the height of Everest. Mankind’s next big step: https://mars.nasa.gov/gallery/atlas/olympus-mons.html


21/11/2021: Hunting for CO2 on the moon: https://www.popsci.com/science/moon-carbon-dioxide-cold-traps/


19/11/2021: DIY 20 Gram Rechargeable Head Torch + Tent Lantern: I will be using the Nano A5 (glow in the dark) 14.8 gram 650 lumen rechargeable torch for this mod though the pictures here are for the A1 which I already own (which is a whole gram heavier and does not glow- alas!) I have often added a simple O-ring,  a length of 1mm dyneema cord and a micro-cord lock to make a small torch into a head torch as I did with the Nitecore Tube in this post 11 Gram Rechargeable Head Torch.This is quite a satisfactory arrangement unless you wear glasses (as I do now – though I did not need them for over fifty years). The torch then tends to reflect annoyingly off the back of the glasses.To avoid this I have just thought to add another piece of cord and a mitten hook so I can sit the torch above my neanderthal brows. This will work quite satisfactorily around the camp. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/11/18/diy-20-gram-rechargeable-head-torch-tent-lantern/



19/11/2021: Are Musk’s Boring Co Tunnels Are the Future of Transportation: https://www.tesmanian.com/blogs/tesmanian-blog/the-boring-co-tunnels-are-the-future-of-transportation

18/11/2021: Cancer’s ‘magic bullet’ may be on the way: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-11-scientists-off-the-shelf-immune-cell-therapy.html


18/11/2021: Cheap Tasty Hiking Meals: I have often written about this. You should refer to the post A Hiking Food Compendium but here are a few we have been gnawing on lately. I long ago suggested you should just buy from the supermarket instead of the expensive (and largely inedible) specialist hiking meals from camping shops which even our dogs won’t eat!


You should also try out some of my own recipes put together from dry (supermarket) ingredients – particularly the dahl soups. I have also suggested before you should ‘mix and match’. Some of the (eg Contintental) dehydrated meal packs (rice, pasta etc) are a bit bland, but can be ‘spiced up’ a bit by adding some ingredients eg sachets of tuna, or salami and cheese, etc – and by adding actual spices eg simple curry powder to make them more appetising. I always carry a small snap-lock bag with some curry powder – likewise some salt and pepper similarly.


Here are some ‘for examples’ we have been eating on recent trips. None of them uses any more than approximately 20 mls of alcohol (meths) to cook (& simmer). I also think this is important. Of course they use no (weight of) fuel at all if you use a simple (DIY) twig stove like my Ultralight Titanium Hobo Stove which weighs around 20 grams and costs around $5 and ten minutes (max) to make. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/11/14/cheap-tasty-hiking-meals/



17/11/2021: Awesome Flashlight: These ‘Nano’ rechargeable (lithium) torches are quite amazing. I thought I would try the A1X (weight 16.8 grams = 650 lumens) just to see how it turned out and I must say I am delighted. I will probably buy a three pack now of the A5Xs to go in my hiking pack as my go-to torches on the trail. These tiny spotlights weigh in at only 14.8 grams and are glow in the dark which s a useful feature when sleeping in a dark tent. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/11/16/awesome-flashlight/



17/11/2021: A great era for DIY: Do-It-Yourself artificial pancreas given approval by team of experts: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-11-do-it-yourself-artificial-pancreas-team-experts.html


15/11/2021: All about Otzi: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/article/tzi-the-iceman-what-we-know-30-years-after-his-discovery?cmpid=org=ngp::mc=crm-email::src=ngp::cmp=editorial::add=SpecialEdition_Escape_20211110::rid=0BE1689690A4BEB6E8876A8F4E63485E


15/11/2021: A History of Postmortem Portraiture (as an addendum to my post of 03/11): https://www.ancient-origins.net/history-ancient-traditions/post-mortem-portraits-0016061


14/11/2021: Best Hiking Headtorch: Nitecore's NU25 rechargeable torch is very hard to beat - though no doubt it will be (by their next model). It weighs around 28 grams without the band (which weighs another 23 grams). You can save 22 of these grams (as I have done here) by fitting a piece of dyneema cord and a micro-cord lock which work just as well around camp bringing the overall weight of the torch with headband to 29.5 grams! Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/11/12/best-hiking-headtorch/



14/11/2021: The ancient ‘bull leapers of Knossos, Crete have their modern equivalents: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Q33H055G1Q


14/11/2021: Shades of Robert Heinlein – we are going to space: https://www.slashgear.com/spinlaunch-kinetic-launch-system-celebrates-a-successful-test-flight-12699130/


13/11/2021: This was a surprise to me too - Oldest preserved woven fabric made of oak, not linen or wool: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/62659


13/11/2021: Bring it on: New compound provides innovative pain relief: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-11-compound-pain-relief.html


12/11/2021: Eccentric dog breeds that vanished: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20211105-the-bizarre-dog-breeds-time-forgot?ocid=ww.social.link.email


11/11/2021: 20 Gram Raincoat: Let it be a golden rule with you that you always carry some form of shelter with you when you are out and about. You can lose heat very quickly in cold. soaking rain and soon be in desperate trouble unless you have some form of shelter. The humble garbage (or trash) bag is quite good enough to save your life, weighs only around 20 grams, only costs cents and will fit in any pocket – and you almost certainly already own some. If nothing else always have one about your person. It can be configured in a variety of ways, though as a cape rather than as a vest (particularly if you are at all wide n the shoulders) it will probably keep you driest – though you will not have as much freedom of movement as you may like for your arms and hands. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/11/08/20-gram-raincoat/



11/11/2021: The Commute: Four days paddling the Tarago River in Gippsland. This guy is inspirational. Shades of Travels in a Donkey Trap. People need to get out exploring their local area more thoroughly like this. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/11/08/the-commute/




Beau Miles: “Following two rivers, one drain, one sea and one creek, it turns out that paddling to work, which ends up being mostly a drag, over four full days, is bloody hard work.


11/11/2021: Buckley’s Chance: Or “Buckley’s or none”. These are (or used to be) two common sayings in Australia indicating that the chances of survival were pretty slim. I have posted some other remarkable survival stories here such as those of Hugh Glass, John Colter and Everts for example. William Buckley’s survival in the wilds of Victoria in the C19th shrinks them all into insignificance. 32 years alone in the wilderness! Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/11/08/buckleys-chance/



11/11/2021: Ada, What a cracker of a life. (So like our own parents’ stories). Too many people have it too easy today and appreciate life too little as a result: https://latrobevalleyexpress.com.au/news/2021/11/07/tales-of-the-valley-from-thruppence-to-thriving/


10/11/2021: Hats off to the Nimblewill Nomad: https://www.npr.org/2021/11/07/1053389943/nimblewill-nomad-oldest-hiker-appalachian-trail?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=203207


10/11/2021: Wonnangatta #23.9: Yet another 4WD ‘identified’ as the culprit. Why the change of colour I wonder? Whatever happened to the white ute whose owner was going to receive a door-knock months ago? Vicpol have long since revealed themselves to be inept and brain-dead on this case (and many others). A cursory look at the news.com photo of the 4WD will reveal that a search of the registry database and telco logs would identify the owner. That is without photo-editing revealing the number plate on the trailer (which I can read some parts of even in the 28K image in the news item with just a small amount of enhancement). If this vehicle was actually seen at Russell & Carol’s campsite that would be a big break-through (and likely not true) but (without that) there is zero evidence it was the vehicle which turned around at the Myrtleford gate and a snapshot of it on the Alpine Highway 80 kilometres away is no different than a photo of a car in the main street of say Bairnsdale or Maffra a similar distance away. If Insp. Stamper could not identify the owner of this car as soon as the image came into his hands he should no longer be in the job. How many 1990s blue Nissan Patrols (a dealer could identify the exact year) whose owner also has an unusual trailer like this do you think there are in the world – and whose owner’s phone was driving along the Alpine Hwy on that night too? Good Lord! The only possible reason for publishing it is that he is hoping for someone else to help ‘dob’. He should do his own job. Vicpol keep signaling to the real murderer that they have no idea who he is, instead of perhaps alerting him to what they really do know (supposing they want him to panic or confess – does this ever happen though?) BTW: A murderer this inept deserved to be caught on the same day. Imagine attempting to flee the scene of your crime along a route which you knew contained a gate which may be locked, or any route which you had not traveled on your way in so that you knew it was safe and clear. I suspect the real murderer was nowhere near so inept: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/truecrimeaustralia/police-courts-victoria/fourwheel-drive-clue-emerges-in-search-for-missing-campers-russell-hill-and-carol-clay/news-story/387cfbb3fc5aad63294637cc895774f4  & https://www.news.com.au/national/victoria/news/police-release-images-of-mystery-vehicle-in-case-of-missing-campers-russell-hill-carol-clay/news-story/2f9d425bdc15680158ac931ef96d4308


09/11/2021: You think you can grow potatoes: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2021/11/08/largest-potato-guinness-book-garden/


08/11/2021: One of the lesser problems of living in California: https://citizenfreepress.com/breaking/bear-breaks-into-california-house-feasts-on-bucket-of-kfc/


06/11/2021: Rewriting Shakespeare?  I Can go as far as translations in brackets or in the margins: https://assistantvillageidiot.blogspot.com/2021/10/not-understanding-shakespeare-again.html


06/11/2021: Can Feminist Robots Challenge Our Biases? https://spectrum.ieee.org/human-robot-interaction


04/11/2021: Fascinating: the real Indiana Jones: https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2021/10/how-the-fbi-discovered-a-real-life-indiana-jones-in-indiana


03/11/2021: Tips and tricks of postmortem photography: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/victorian-post-mortem-photographs


01/11/2021: Edgar Rice Burroughs phone home: https://www.space.com/earth-inner-core-mushy

27/10/2021: A River Somewhere: Spot and I have been away for a few days enjoying camping next to a lovely fishing hole along one of our remote Victorian mountain rivers. This small trip has highlighted for me more than anything else how much I need a new knee. Though it was only six trackless kilometres each way over fairly rough ground it was actually very tough going and was not undertaken without Panadeine Forte! Only a couple of years ago I would easily make 30-40 such kilometres in a day - and enjoy it, without pain. Old age is definitely not for sissies! Still, I am glad we went as from now on the weather will be too warm and it has been practically our only opportunity to get away up the mountains for months mainly because of absurd government restrictions.

I had often seen this large hole in the river from up high and canoed past it a couple of times without giving it serious investigation. There are thousands of such spots along our remote waterways which vehicle based campers will never enjoy - thank goodness! From above as well as from the river it doesn't look as if there is a suitable camping spot even though the vast width and depth of the hole would make it an excellent spot to catch a few large trout - or even a couple o crays for one's evening meal. It also appears from on high as if it could only be approached by a fairly precipitous descent - but looks can be deceptive, and as it turns out there is a modest sloping ridge which leads right down to it and underneath a steep bank there is quite a long flat bench mostly above flood level where indeed several tents could be set up (after a little 'improvement'). See More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/10/27/a-river-somewhere/


27/10/2021: Deer are definitely fighting back – they hate cyclists too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpJ2hqe08lc&t=30s


23/10/2021: Wood without trees: https://www.bambooimport.com/en/how-is-bamboo-lumber-made


21/10/2021: How to help birds avoid crashing into your windows: https://www.popsci.com/diy/prevent-bird-window-strikes/


20/10/2021: The Promise of Vagus nerve stimulation: https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/what-is-vagus-nerve-stimulation


18/10/2021: I would be sticking to my G & T myself: https://www.instyle.com/celebrity/queen-elizabeth/queen-elizabeth-give-up-drinking-recommendation?did=685318-20211015&utm_campaign=instyle-celebrity_newsletter&utm_source=instyle.com&utm_medium=email&utm_content=101521&cid=685318&mid=69497544544

17/10/2021: Too Fat? It’s all about carbs not calories folks: https://www.statnews.com/2021/09/13/how-a-fatally-tragically-flawed-paradigm-has-derailed-the-science-of-obesity/?utm_campaign=rss

16/10/2021: Steve Intent: I have been making a new floor for my Grey Flyer Tent. You should understand that this tent doubles as a hammock tarp. The roof in this 1.15 oz/yd2 material weighs around 310 grams with tie outs and guys. As you can see it is big enough for two people, two dogs and lots of gear and stays wonderfully dry inside even in heavy rain with the door open so that you can still enjoy a toasty warm fire out the front under your trusty Fire Umbrella to stop it going out in the rain. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/10/15/steve-intent/



15/10/2021: ET Call Home: https://phys.org/news/2021-10-strange-radio-emerge-galactic-centre.html


14/10/2021: Dismantling and reassembling a jeep in under 4 min: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBtYXFXa5Ig


13/10/2021: They can hold their breath a long time: https://citizenfreepress.com/breaking/deep-sea-fishermen-make-a-surprise-catch/


13/10/2021: An 100 year old aircraft saves the world: https://www.19fortyfive.com/2021/10/b-52-stratofortress-bomber-the-air-force-has-big-plans/


12/10/2021: The Ancient Fisherman: https://www.realclearscience.com/articles/2021/10/08/humans_had_advanced_fishing_technology_12000_years_ago_in_israel_797959.html


10/10/2021: “Finley, the seven-year-old pooch from Canandaigua, New York, can hold six tennis balls in his mouth at once, beating the previous record that was held for a whopping 17 years by another golden retriever in Texas who could fit five” https://notthebee.com/article/welcome-guinness-book-of-world-records-good-boy


08/10/2021: The Great Houdini – if only we could find where all those elephants went they would not be ‘endangered’: https://newcriterion.com/issues/1986/10/the-case-of-harry-houdini


08/10/2021: Columbus not the first then: https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/latin-text-america-0015901


07/10/2021: ‘Beam me up Scotty’ on the cheap – well $50K actually but who’s counting: https://spacenews.com/world-view-revives-plans-for-stratospheric-balloon-passenger-flights/


06/10/2021: Beware of the sheep. They may strike back: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu-yuQkaFRI


06/10/2021: Not an EV – Bugatti breaks the 300 mph record. Go, you beauty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuS_bXJNync


06/10/2021: The Ultimate Resource? This is an enormously important essay – potentially life-changing: “The stock of knowledge, which a community owns, grows when people are driven by curiosity or self-interest to risk exploring new ideas and concepts, individually or in co-operation with others. A social climate that favours individualism, enterprise, risk-taking, trust, independence and rivalry (competition) has always been conducive to the growth of knowledge. Where the gains from risk-taking and investigative discipline can be appropriated thanks to secure private property rights, knowledge tends to flourish”… Productive effort is no longer considered the main source of a good living standard. Instead, all must now be equal, irrespective of intelligence, effort and luck… Redistribution by the visible hand—by taxing and subsidising, intervening and regulating—has become a central function of government. Yet, egalitarianism stifles competition. Alas, many now deem the spontaneous capitalist order with its strictures and disciplines obsolete or objectionable…” Do read it: https://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2021/09/the-power-of-knowledge-and-the-forces-of-ignorance/


05/10/2021: This woman made a video to prove her dog is a vegetarian and it did NOT go as she planned: https://notthebee.com/article/this-woman-made-a-video-to-prove-her-dog-is-a-vegetarian-and-it-did-not-go-as-she-planned


03/10/2021: Where are you God? https://newatlas.com/biology/self-replicating-protocells-life-missing-link/


02/10/2021: Some pretty fair surgery 600 years ago (not by bhe Ottomans though): http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/62355


02/10/2021: Your next car the Mercedes AA +? Maybe not: https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2021/09/are-electric-vehicles-a-joke.php


01/10/2021: What a great world record Orville. Look at him go: https://www.michaelsmithnews.com/2021/10/congratulations-100-year-old-orville-rogers-on-your-new-record-60m-sprint.html


01/10/2021: Good news for lunar explorers: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2291545-oxygen-and-water-for-lunar-explorers-can-be-extracted-from-moon-rocks/


01/10/2021: The ‘new’ Land Rover Defender: https://www.carsguide.com.au/car-news/watch-out-toyota-hilux-and-ford-ranger-2023-ineos-grenadier-4x4-dual-cab-ute-confirmed-for PS: The price of old Landies has been shooting up ever since production ceased. We are sitting on a goldmine here with four of them!


30/09/2021: What a great torch. Must get one of these:  https://countycomm.com/products/ra-18650-right-angle-flood-flashlight-by-maratac?utm_source=AV_All_Users&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=AV_EMAIL%20-%20New%20Product%20FULL%209%2F29%20%28WHVkig%29&_kx=OXzQrt-IPEH7582zs4GtQqSMB7ovo6CosVZ3Em78pLRr00IogjSRt_1QwtkdMEYc.TN7xPM


30/09/2021: Interesting links at AstralCodex. I particularly liked #9 the AI Movie Posters: https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/links-for-september


29/09/2021: Della will want one of these, but where to put it: https://www.artkunight.com/products/wooden-kinetic-hummingbird-sculpture



27/09/2021: When You Thought You Had Everything - Hand-Carved Balinese Skulls: https://skullbliss.com/blogs/news/5-reasons-why-everyone-falls-in-love-with-skull-bliss-carved-animal-skulls?utm_campaign=1%20-%20TOF%20-%20WW%20-%20Conversions%20-%20PO&utm_content=5%20Resons%20why%20Post%20-%20Single%20-%20Vintage%20Mandala%20-%20LP5%20-%20Copy&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=facebook&utm_term=WW%20TOP%20-%20Frequent%20international%20travelers%3Eskull%2C%20skeleton%20%20exp.%20int.%20-%20LC%20-%20PO


27/09/2021: The Invention of Gunpowder – an interesting read: https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/medieval-gunpowder-0015865 Soon no doubt you will need a security clearance to read such stuff.


27/09/2021: Alfred Hitchcock – there has been no-one quite like him since. You can still watch hs films again and again with enjoyment, and I do. Cinematographers today mostly need to learn how to tell a story. Here’s some thoughts about his greatness, “Along with suspense, horror, and romance, Hitchcock movies depict cinematically another basic human sentiment, and do so better than any other filmmaker has done: anxiety. Donat in The 39 Steps, Grant in North by Northwest, James Stewart and Doris Day in the remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much, and other characters in Hitchcock movies find themselves in a world whose physical features are familiar but in which they are buffeted by sinister forces that they do not understand and cannot control. Their world has suddenly and unexpectedly become both baffling and frightening. They have, somehow, to navigate their way to safety in a threatening environment” : https://www.americanpurpose.com/articles/the-inescapable-alfred-hitchcock/


26/09/2021: The Human Story Gets Older and Older – and clearly these early folks had serious ocean navigation skills: https://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/fossil-footprints-show-humans-north-america-21000-years-ago-rcna2169


25/09/2021: Off-Road Power Board: https://newatlas.com/outdoors/ungoverned-powerboard-electric-vendetta/


25/09/2021: When the most exciting object you have ever encountered is a ‘mummified’ a hazelnut cake: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/62298


24/09/2021: Top 10 Totally Rad Animals God Should Have Created: https://babylonbee.com/news/top-10-totally-rad-animal-ideas-god-should-have-created


23/09/2021: Journey to the Centre of the Earth: A 676 km Long Cave: https://www.sciencealert.com/explores-have-mapped-even-more-hidden-passages-in-the-mammoth-cave-system


23/09/2021: Jericho was apparently destroyed by a meteor – maybe we do need to boost our space defences after all, a la the Bruce Willis movie ‘Armageddon’ (1998): https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/09/21/bronze-age-city-destroyed-by-bolide/


22/09/2021: Menagerie Manor : (Della): Home is often a bit of a ‘menagerie manor’ during lambing, but this little fellow takes the cake. Born prematurely to a maiden ewe a couple of weeks ago, we rescued him from a mud puddle next to his expired twin and brought him inside to see if we could save him with warmth and milk. We have tried, with limited success, to get him feeding off his mother, and thought they were getting somewhere until the ewe managed to stomp on him and break his leg a couple of days ago. Now he is hobbling about with a splint but hasn’t lost any of his sparkling little personality,  preferring to leap (3-leggedly) out of his box next to the fire and cuddle up on a lap. We have been telling him that he will need to learn to be a paddock sheep, but he just nuzzles our hands and settles down for a nap.



22/09/2021: 9:18 am Big Earthquake at Jeeralang Junction Just Now. Everything OK.


22/09/2021: Everyone loves a puppy: https://citizenfreepress.com/breaking/puppy-held-hostage-for-three-days-by-wild-monkey/


21/09/2021: Some good news for once. I need a new knee soon – hope the docs are on top of this by then: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-09-antimicrobial-coating-orthopedic-implants-dangerous.html


19/09/2021: Just a Taste of George Mackay Brown the Shakespeare of the Orkneys:


The Road Home


As I came home from Kirkwall

The ships were on the tide:

I saw the kirk of Magnus

Down by the water side:

The blesséd brave Saint Magnus

Who bowed his head and died.

His shining life was shorn away,

His kirk endureth to this day.

As I came home from Kirkwall

The ships were on the tide.


As I came home from Birsay

A sower, all in tatters,

Strode, scattering the seed, immense

Against the sunset bars,

And through his fingers, with the night,

Streamed all the silver stars.

I watched him (leaning on a gate)

Scatter the glowing seeds of fate:

As I came home from Birsay

Against the sunset bars.


As I came home from Sandwick

A star was in the sky.

The northern lights above the hill

Were streaming broad and high.

The tinkers lit their glimmering fires,

Their tents were pitched close by.

But the city of the vanished race

Lay dark and silent in that place.

As I came home from Sandwick

A star was in the sky.


19/09/2021: Interesting Idea: Purple Paint Law=Private Property No Trespassing. No Hunting. No Fishing etc. Enacted in: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas…An interesting idea for a law. No Trespassing signs often are vandalized or blow away. Painting purple on trees and fence posts is more permanent giving those trespassing no excuse.


18/09/2021: More than 90 years after starting, Maine's oldest lobster harvester is still doing it at age 101: https://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/wireStory/101-shes-hauling-lobsters-plans-stop-80051138

18/09/2021: Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0807014273/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0807014273&linkCode=as2&tag=helentag-20&linkId=ec77f79f436f10db3c27ea1cc02a8bb2&asin=0807014273&revisionId=&format=4&depth=1 Also available at PirateBay.

16/09/2021: Don’t rush out and start eating sticky tape by the handful but this looks promising: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-09-fountain-youth-ageing-stem-cells.html

Making haste slowly on aging: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-09-protein-reverses-aging-skeletal-muscle.html

12/09/2021: Hang Gliding With a Flock of Wild Geese: https://twitter.com/i/status/1436504348637507587

10/09/2021: So many good things about this photo I had to share it: https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=397035308448619&set=a.205848817567270

09/09/2021: Anarchists!

08/09/2021: When animals fight back. Let's hope they don't get guns: https://www.sciencealert.com/a-complex-form-of-empathy-boars-hatch-breakout-plan-to-save-two-piglets

06/09/2021: At last a biodegradeable shoe: https://laughingsquid.com/sneature-biodegradable-shoe/

05/09/2021: The Smoke of a Candle After Blowing It Out: https://twistedsifter.com/2021/08/the-smoke-of-a-candle-after-blowing-it-out/

04/09/2021: I suspect I need this book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1735728500/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1735728500&linkCode=as2&tag=helentag-20&linkId=33e98b0643da683ee8e1de63c6b94dbe

02/09/2021: Honey & Spot's news: Four lovely Jack Russell puppies. Three girls and a boy. Here he is:: white with a fawn spot on his head. She was giving birth this morning as I did my Facebook posts about a metre from my computer. Parents and puppies doing well. We are allowed to sell them (vaccinated) in a couple of months time. PM us if you want to put your dibs on one.

02/09/2021: DIY Ultralight Camp Shoes: I get it that you might not be able to sew but I don’t get that you can’t learn and can somehow afford to buy $500+ tents and other such nonsense but you can’t buy a $200 sewing machine and make your own even better tent for <$50, but maybe I can start you on that road with a very cheap very light camp shoe.

If you have maybe tried out the 15 gram Blue Foam Flip-Flop I posted about here or the slightly better Toughened Foam Flip Flops or maybe had a go at the New-Sew Sandals or these Ultralight Thongs you might like this mod of the Toughened Foam Flip-Flops which someone is now selling. ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ they say. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/09/02/diy-ultralight-camp-shoes/


02/09/2021: Sub 100 Grams Carbon Fibre Hiking Poles: We have been using the Naturehike Carbon Fibre Poles at 128 grams for quite a while now but we admit that we would benefit from saving an ounce per arm with these little guys so we are going to try a pair out at US$88 per Pair. If you would understand why you should read these posts: A Lazy Man’s Guide to Hiking and Hunting & Ultralight Hiking #102 Mastering the Hiking Energy Budget. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/08/29/sub-100-grams-carbon-fibre-hiking-poles/

02/09/2021: Skinners 2.0 Camp Shoes: If you can’t sew yourself a pair of my Sub One Ounce Per Pair Camp Shoes you might consider buying a pair of these Skinners 2.0. They started with them on Kickstarter here. They are all over the internet at the moment. About the lowest I have seen them is around $15 a pair though that might be a Facebook type scam. They are certainly on Ebay from around A$30. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/08/28/skinners-2-0-camp-shoes/

02/09/2021: Beer drinking just has to be good for you if people have been doing it for 9.000 years: https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/926955

31/08/2021: Are mobile phones about to have a satphone feature? About time actually one did not have to carry 2-3 peieces of equipment. This will save lives: https://www.cnet.com/tech/mobile/apple-iphone-13-to-reportedly-feature-satellite-connectivity/

31/08/2021: An important post from the everythingcaravanandcamping website: “Why do people not put the toilet seats down in the caravan parks? It drives me crazy I am so scared one day a snake is going to bite my backside. After he has gone in there to get the frog that had gone in. Most parks have signs about it” Now you know the correct answer to this age-old question folks.

30/08/2021: There really are things you can do to help yourself – of course you might not want an extra decade of life: https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2021/08/28/heart-attack-get-healthy-add-years/4771630095484/

28/08/2021: Wildlife will have to learn to adapt to foxes. That is all: https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2021-08-25/rambo-fox-pilliga-forest-wildlife-conservation-/100404864?utm_medium=social&utm_content=sf248881757&utm_campaign=fb_abc_news&utm_source=m.facebook.com&sf248881757=1

26/08/2021: How soon will we return to the moon: https://www.sciencealert.com/spacex-thinks-it-can-return-humanity-to-the-moon-before-2024

25/08/2021: A New Rocket Engine: https://www.inceptivemind.com/japan-tests-rotating-detonation-engine-first-time-space/20698/

24/08/2021: India’s answer to the postie bike: https://newatlas.com/motorcycles/ola-electric-scooter-india/

23/08/2021: A useful book - The Mini Farming Bible: The Complete Guide to Self-Sufficiency on ¼ AcreGet ready preppers: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1629144908/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1629144908&linkCode=as2&tag=helentag-20&linkId=8e38f00ace7acccd2d9bf6cc64861366

21/08/2021: Honey Locust Uses: Metheglin was one of the favorite drinks of the American colonies. It was a favorite of Kentucky for over a hundred years. In Virginia, large plantations of honey locust trees were planted for the sweet beans. The beans were ground and mixed with honey, and fermented.

20/08/2021: Time to buy a copy yet? https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1493046942/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1493046942&linkCode=as2&tag=helentag-20&linkId=42f04432bd957643df9621270c110c73

18/08/2021: Back to Basics – a Complete Guide. We have oodles of books of this type in our library and have learned much from them over the years. It is why we have a home of our own built by our own hands and a self-sufficient farm, no debt, a comfortable independent retirement & etc: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1629143693/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1629143693&linkCode=as2&tag=helentag-20&linkId=d4be7379ca515706acf919e56164a809&asin=B00NS42CYW&revisionId=&format=2&depth=1

17/08/2021: You’ve seen the ad? And it was real: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9lxeGllhTQ&t=101s

16/08/2021: Cheap Ultralight Pots: Tim Tinker has  once again come through with a great idea. This time he has alerted me to where you can purchase some pretty good ultralight pots. A set costs as little as US$10 on AmazonAliexpress & Ebay. They are usually advertised as 'mixing bowls' and come with plastic lids for fridge storage etc. Of course you will have to add the (5-10 grams) weight of an Ultralight Pot Lifter to the bowl. There appear to be a number of different manufacturers. Some feedback is requested (below).

We are talking about 1 litre pots which weigh as little as 56 grams or 1.4 litre pots which weigh 63 grams. You can't beat that with any of the commercial hiking cook pots and they cost many times more. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/08/16/cheap-ultralight-pots/

15/08/2021: Now practically all we can do is hold hands while we sleep (as sea otters do) to prevent us drifting apart: https://twitter.com/i/status/1425764905983033348

14/08/2021: ‘Burning Daylight’ by Jack London. I just read this fine book. I thought I had read every Jack London book as a teenager, but not so. I’m sure you agree with me that ‘Call of the Wild’ is the greatest animal story ever written. Maybe you should try this one too. Available free here: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/746

14/08/2021: Camel Botox! A beauty pageant for camels: https://gulfnews.com/world/gulf/saudi/saudi-arabia-video-showing-camels-ruptured-lips-due-to-botox-sparks-outrage-1.1628470585656

14/08/2021: Rewilding – the future, but NB. “My point is that management is indispensable to maximising biodiversity”: https://thecritic.co.uk/issues/august-september-2021/playing-the-wild-card/

11/08/2021: You too could eat an iron age meal like the Tolund Man – perhaps before you were also hanged? I used to own a wonderful book about this, ‘The Bog People’ by P.C. Glob but someone borrowed it way back in 1974 and I have never been able to replace it. Such people deserve to be hanged!: https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/tollund-man-0015600?fbclid=IwAR2FcYcoW9kOyVtStp1iOjb9H8PzJwfA8xBGatUbnNDfJxS98sjEKQLs8v0

11/08/2021: Make way for Jurassic Park – at least the ferret version: https://earthlymission.com/black-footed-ferret-died-in-1988-cloning-science-willa-elizabeth-ann/

Welcome back mammoths – pretty soon anyway: https://earthlymission.com/28000-year-old-woolly-mammoth-cells-brought-back-to-life-by-scientists/?fbclid=IwAR23tlkrngmx9p-K1YGF8Pfin-i7kEM6rjjusjpehZGktboqKWsnh1BPzEs

09/08/2021: Louis L’Amour The Last of the Breed – I really enjoyedtis book. One of the great adventure and survival stories. Lots of his titles available free here. His complete works available on Zoogle: https://archive.org/details/Novel57LastOfTheBreed1986LouisLAmour

08/08/2021: Ringworld Discovered – Was Larry Niven Right? https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/08/06/huge-rings-around-a-black-hole/

08/08/2021: Not so long ago Preppers and other ‘Conspiracy Theorists’ looked like lunatics but they look a lot less crazy now: https://www.theepochtimes.com/mkt_morningbrief/preppers-quietly-stock-up-for-the-perfect-storm_3935935.html

05/08/2021: The Ultralight Wilderness Hut: You should read this post as an accompaniment to the posts Wilderness Hut and Debris Hut. There just can’t be too many small wilderness shelters out there in the bush. Indeed there are drastically too few – but the situation is always improving, thanks to the ingenuity and industry of many hunters fishermen, cross country skiers etc.

They are not just life-savers in the event of bad weather but they add so much to the amenity of the wilderness experience particularly as they provide a safe opportunity to take the growing family along on your modest backcountry adventures. They do not have to be elaborate or expensive. This post is not an ‘instructable’ but I hope can showcase some of the many methods you could use to construct them.

I suggest you can spend less than $500 to produce a really excellent piece of bush architecture. Most people spend that much on their pack or tent! I guess it will take two people at most two relaxing days to construct but provide them with a great facility and pleasure for many years in the future. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/08/04/the-ultralight-wilderness-hut/

05/08/2021: This looks good: Make Way for Duckling: https://www.amazon.com/Make-Way-Ducklings-Robert-McCloskey/dp/0140564349/ref=pd_bxgy_img_1/134-3053119-7312067?pd_rd_w=jlPln&pf_rd_p=c64372fa-c41c-422e-990d-9e034f73989b&pf_rd_r=2C5F7PSJJ47B7Y4Q8AF0&pd_rd_r=281ab032-9b7c-4a2c-9a57-a0592423e2f5&pd_rd_wg=E6PfY&pd_rd_i=0140564349&psc=1

04/08/2021: The Ancient Walls of Benin in Nigeria: 21,196 Kilometres. Larger than the Great Wall of China: https://thinkafrica.net/walls-of-benin/

04/08/2021: Zippo Hand Warmer as a Hot Water Bottle: A Zippo Hand Warmer costs about A$30 on Amazon. It uses about 2o mls of ligher fluid over 12 hours. If lighter fluid has about the same calorific value as kerosene then a litre produces about 9-10,000 watts so 20 mls produces 180 watts which over 12 hours equals approximately 15 watts per hour. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/08/03/zippo-hand-warmer-as-a-hot-water-bottle/

04/08/2021: Who knew – cleavers are actually good for something? My late old friend Steve Cleaver would have loved this ‘fact’: “You can make coffee from cleavers! Cleavers aka Goosegrass or ‘Sticky Weed’ is apart of the Rubiaceae family. Rubiaceae is the famous coffee family! When cleavers starts to dry in Summer those sticky seed balls that stick to our clothes can be roasted to make a wild coffee. This wild coffee tastes great & has a mild caffeinated kick! It’s fun to make you can roast it fresh over an open fire or create a large batch to enjoy through the year at home.”

02/08/2021: Tankora – yet another flavour I have not yet tried:  https://www.popsci.com/uncategorized/african-spices-meat-grill/

01/08/2021: The Fox Trap: We prefer to fence pests such as foxes, wombats, roos etc out with our Wildlife Proof Fences. If you don’t live in Victoria where practically everything is illegal you might try using a breakneck snare to kill foxes which still manage to find their way through holes in your fences. These (stainless steel) snares cost less than $5 each online (easier than making your own) and work a treat – but in Victoria there is a $60,000 fine and even gaol for using them as it is considered ‘aggravated cruelty’. What nonsense! In the US for example they are common. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/07/31/the-fox-trap/

31/07/2021: 26C degrees here at Jeeralang Junction at lunchtime. Our previous July record was 28C years ago. This is the third day this July over 20C. Global warming? No just weather. We have rain and even snow coming in tonight and tomorrow night. Have moved the lambing ewes to the closest most sheltered paddock so we can try to save frozen lambs over the next two mornings. Have already set up seven pens in the shed with heat lamps for that purpose.

31/07/2021: A Wonderful Frozen Bird from the Dinosaur Era: https://www.geologyin.com/2017/06/this-100-million-year-old-bird-trapped.html?fbclid=IwAR0xQQvptufRu6J1ANTwSjNmkeXynDWQtmbrs9NWBW4mMvJxF_jzI8bB8G0

30/07/2021: Jelly 2 Mini Smatrphone: I have been using these fob pocket sized phones now for about three years - and would never go back to a larger phone. The first one I bought was the Unihertz Atom which I carried for a couple of years. Practically all the photos I posted for the last couple of years here at TheUltralightHiker were taken with it. When an 'improved' model was announced on Kickstarter  last year I ordered two for Xmas 2020 and have been carrying one of them ever since - and it is brilliant. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/07/29/jelly-2-mini-smatrphone/

28/07/2021: Our Finnsheep - 2021 Lambing: As you may know we have the oldest and largest flock of these unique sheep in Australia. I previously posted about them here: Finnsheep. These sheep are a fine longwool type who normally raise triplets or quads in paddock conditions. Some pre-lambing photos. The ewes are expected to start lambing within about a week of these snaps. That will keep us busy. I will update this with some lamb photos in a little while.

Some pre-lambing photos. The ewes are expected to start lambing within about a week of these snaps. A group of particularly gravid ewes looking very content with life.

Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/07/28/our-finnsheep-2021-lambing/

27/07/2021: Great future movie in this news item - Man rescued after days-long battle with grizzly bear at Alaska shack: https://globalnews.ca/news/8051769/alaska-grizzly-bear-attack-rescue/?utm_medium=Facebook&utm_source=GlobalEdmonton&fbclid=IwAR0tOj88sFno7BNPRZOQ7c_CYVz5oWgU6i5DD_qr6ESAHhMhI4FtNRmDcck

23/07/2021: Why ibex are not extinct: https://citizenfreepress.com/breaking/nature-is-awesome-2/

18/07/2021: In Praise of Forestry – an important article: https://saltbushclub.com/2021/07/16/save-the-forests/#more-1920

16/07/2021: Just love cryptozoology – shades of Bernard Heuvelmans here: https://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends-antarctica/pterodactyl-0014884?fbclid=IwAR2H23-6GW7fU6NVrQ-7jzQyDxGHD_kOJeAF9-RNK08zyCEk-nOKRFKB8eM

15/07/2021: Wonnangatta Murders 23.8: The beat-up to beat all beat-ups: https://rangestrader.mailcommunity.com.au/news/2021-07-12/button-man-horror-to-hit-screens/?fbclid=IwAR0ercBL3yAis29in9RkJUjJlCv2sJy59p2rxddw8eAH4Va6h3KuCBbFUzk

15/07/2021: The Cerne Giant (and its 12 metre phallus) brought down to size by a tiny snail: https://www.sapiens.org/archaeology/cerne-abbas-giant/

12/07/2021: My Octopus Teacher: If you haven’t yet seen this enchanting documentary you are in for a wonderful treat. Available on Netflix and PirateBay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7SVpp_QO3Q

11/07/2021: Meanwhile Branson will the first of the billionaire’s going into space tomorrow: https://www.upi.com/Science_News/2021/07/09/richard-branson-virgin-galactic-flight-space/1121625768487/

10/07/2021: The slime moulds are out - at least that's what I think they are. Or maybe they are a kind of coal fungi – who knows? Millions of things have never been classified. There are some really enchanting life-forms out there in the woods though , aren't there? Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/07/10/slime-mould-beauty/

10/07/2021: The Debris Hut: A simple debris hut is not such a trial to construct and you should at least give it a go. It is a skill which also may save you one day. Anyway if you ever find yourself in such a stressful situation you will be much more relaxed if you already have the confidence to be able to do such things as make a simple shelter and light a fire in trying circumstances. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/07/10/the-debris-hut/

How To Build A Lean To Shelter For Survival | I Need That ...

10/07/2021: Birds can smell after all. They can certainly target some clues pretty quickly. Around here for example kookaburras are enormously attuned to burning off and chain-sawing. I have nearly had my hat knocked off by a kookie numerous time who swooped in while I was chain-sawing even though they normally keep their distance: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/07/textbooks-say-most-birds-cant-smell-scientists-are-proving-them-wrong

03/07/2021: The Great Ocean Walk: My friend Chris has just (02-07-2021) finished walking the Great Ocean Walk in South-West Victoria from Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles (Port Campbell). You could view this as the beginning of the Great Southern Walk which stretches a further 250 km to Nelson. (I suspect you could begin at Geelong and walk all the way through to Nelson).

He completed the (recommended) 8 day trip in four days. He is neither particularly young nor superman so this gives you a pretty fair idea of how long you may want to allow for the trip. Six days might be a pleasant amble! He went in midwinter and pretty much had the track to himself. Midwinter weather is often fine, so if you enjoy a measure of solitude this might be a good time to plan for. There are plenty of (official) campsites along the way and no doubt other places where you might unofficially camp. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/07/03/the-great-ocean-walk/

02/07/2021: Ultralight Hot Water Bottle: For winter camping warmth. This inspired idea comes from the amazing Tim Tinker, a source of so many wonderful winter warmth ideas, particularly ultralight tent stoves. See for example Mostly Perspiration. You can read all about the idea here. The entire set-up weighs around 67 grams and keeps your sleeping bag toasty warm (in the snow!) for up to 12 hours! Genius!

Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/07/02/ultralight-hot-water-bottle/

02/07/2021: The Human Species: “The ‘Out of Africa’ narrative of circa 2000 presented our own lineage as a superhuman race, the apotheosis of human evolution. The telos of two million years of encephalization, as human brains got bigger and bigger. The latest results do not fit easily into our old hero narrative. Neanderthals win the contest for largest human brains. And ‘Dragon Man’ turns out to have had a very large brain too, in line with modern cranial capacities. All human lineages were getting bigger-brained over the last few million years, not just the lineage that led up to us. . . . Today on our planet there is just one human species, but this is an exceptional moment. For most of the past few million years there were many human species. . . . Our planet was very different 100,000 years ago, and if we could survey that time, we would be astounded by the human diversity across its surface. To enumerate what little we know with certainty, there were at a minimum: modern humans, Neanderthals, at least three to four varieties of Denisovans, and two pygmy Homo populations in Southeast Asia. Likely there were still remnant Homo erectus in Southeast Asia as well, and other diverged lineages within Africa, and a new Homo in Nesher Ramla, Israel, in the Middle East with affinities to Neanderthals.”https://razib.substack.com/p/here-be-humans

01/07/2021: Richer than Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos: https://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-europe/varna-man-002798?fbclid=IwAR0UpYL20UavZDTjLDmUL_GZPvstfm_h-tvA9GAkPKmTMgY77sJKeiYDKLM

28/06/2021: Life on a River: I know Huck had the mighty Mississippi and Mark Twain to extol its virtues but the scale of that is just too vast for me. Instead I reckon one could spend much of one’s life just exploring a small river such as the Tyers, Tanjil, Latrobe, Thomson or Wonnagatta in Gippsland. I know I have but I have still only barely touched on their beauty and wonder.

We took the afternoon ff from our (fallen) tree clean-up activities to have a pleasant drive featuring parts of the Tyers River catchment and lunch at the Erica Hotel (recommended). The Moondarra dam was still overflowing nicely as in the post Moondarra Maelstrom. It should be even more spectacular after some more rain next weekend and early the week after that.  Take a look.

You turn at the Moondarra dam turn-off on the Moe-Erica Rd. It is only about 5 km on a tar road to this bridge. If you go another 300 metres to the beginning of the Wirilda Walking Track you can walk down about half a kilometre to look up ate this spectacular waterfall. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/06/27/life-on-a-river/

28/06/2021: A Complete List of Survival Documentaries – maybe this will help: https://www.shtfblog.com/complete-list-of-survival-documentaries/?fbclid=IwAR0mlGruBUzxbjQ2jeBLJlV8eK4BCTo4Y8BlN70vOC1M_xhpZfs9SEIA7Jo

26/06/2021: The Night Watch Uncroppedwish I had some of the scraps: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/61640

23/06/2021: Keeping Clean on the Trail: I have written various posts about this over time but the issue remains important and the ‘solutions’ not known by everyone. Of course it is much more vital on a longer trip. If you are an ultralight hiker by now you will have discovered that it is not that hard to keep your skin out weight below around 5 kg including perhaps even the means to hunt and fish (eg a Pack Rifle and ultralight fishing kit) to supplement your food supply and so keep you going even longer (and including important survival gear such as rope, a Sat Phone and a Sat Messenger as well as a reasonably comprehensive First Aid Kit).

I usually carry a bit under 500 grams per day in food and fuel, so adding 5 kg to the above total will give me at least an enjoyable ten day trip at approx 10 kg (22 lbs) not counting water. Most healthy people could easily start out with 10 kg more than that, so a 30 day trip is easy enough – anyway when you are young! If you are going where fish and game are plentiful (and you have the skill to take them) then you can easily shorten your rations to 250 grams per day and supplement with fresh-caught game of various sorts, so that a 60 day unsupplied trip is not exceptional, but there will be no bathrooms or laundromats along the way so you must needs shift.

If you can’t keep yourself and your clothes clean you risk a variety of problems so you should give some thought to how it is best done. I guess if you are only out of doors in the warmer months then it is fairly easy just to bathe in the rivers and streams, to wash your clothes whilst you do so and to let them dry on your body as you walk along. I confess I have used this strategy for many years even in cooler weather (say 13C days and 0C nights) though now I am over seventy I do find my courage is waning as I come to the cold daily plunge into an icy winter stream. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/06/22/keeping-clean-on-the-trail/

23/06/2021: The World's tallest tree: who would have believed that this 154 metre mountain ash felled at Healesville in 1872 was 40 metres taller than the largest Californian redwood ever recorded: http://baddevelopers.nfshost.com/Docs/talltrees.htm


22/06/2021: Good advice: How Not to fall Off a Ladder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n28tYo5T1Po&t=486s


22/06/2021: Testing Bullet Resistant Glass – here’s some advice: Don’t argue with a 12 gauge: https://www.theboxotruth.com/the-box-o-truth-6-ballistic-resistant-glass-gets-tested/

21/06/2021: 3 Years Younger in Just 8 Weeks – time to give it a go: https://www.studyfinds.org/aging-reversed-biological-age-3-years-younger-8-weeks/

20/06/2021: Welcome to Pluto: https://www.space.com/pluto-fully-illuminated-observation-suggests-active-surface?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_content=space.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=socialflow&fbclid=IwAR1I3L8X0YDoU2LY2SbewDwwxsW3kSKmkgeEs-a1j1UHZ-cPEgnEv8dTRz4

18/06/2021: 1500th Post: Quite a milestone. Who would have thought six years ago that I would have written so much – well over a million words on this blog and nearly 45,000 photos apparently! I’m sure this would have been more than a life’s achievement for many people, though for me it has been a hobby, one which has perhaps taken too much of my time away from more important jobs – but I hope you have enjoyed it so far. Judging by the considerable feedback I have had, I gather most people have, so I will try to keep it up.

Every hundred posts or so I have summarised the highlights of the previous hundred or so –  which tradition I will continue here. It has taken me a little over a year to write the last 100 posts; a bit of a slow year, the covid year, and I have only spent a bit over a couple of weeks sleeping on the ground during it instead of my more normal more than a month – but next year may be better. We will hope so though I know that most people my age are astonished that we ever sleep on the ground. Worse luck to them, I say. Of course I don’t always post about every camping trip – only if I have something new to say. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/06/18/1500th-post/

17/06/2021: $50 No Spoil Sheep Hay Feeder: The big round bales are definitely the most economic source of hay but there is much wastage if they are not feeding enthusiastically so this is the way around that problem:

I cut a 2.4 metre (8′) piece of concrete reinforcing mesh (about 6 mm or 1/4″ steel diameter and in 8″ or 20 cm squares) in half with the angle grinder or the bolt cutters – whatever is to hand. They cost around $60 each for a 6 metre or 20′ length so this gives me two feeders. I overlap the squares one or two spaces depending whether feeding out silage (which is smaller in diameter) or hay and simply join them with lots of cable ties.

As soon as it rains they get stuck into it:

I source used pallets for free from behind local stores (asking first of course) to sit the bale on, then I cut down a 6′ diameter (if I can get it) beach umbrella to use as a roof and cable tie the ribs to the outside rim of the weldmesh feeder so that the hay does not spoil from rain if the sheep are not feeding very enthusiastically. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/06/17/50-no-spoil-sheep-hay-feeder/

17/06/2021: Droughts and Flooding Rains: Only a couple of days ago ‘Facebook Memories’ reminded me that on this day in 2012 (and again in 2013 – would you believe it?) we had more than a month of rain in a single day – a pretty good fall – but ‘Hughie’ excelled himself yesterday with 7.5 inches, nearly double that in a day, and another 3 the next day. Over 10″ or 250mm mostly within 24 hours.

About the same as an event we had a couple of years after we settled here (in 1993) when our gentle creek turned into a colossal monster, blew out all our dams and fences and deposited over half a metre of debris along the bottom of our property. (We had to replace the creek fence). Yesterday was much the same, though the dams and fences survived (though hardly unscathed) this time.

We have lots of work ahead of us to fix the damage but we are still ‘weathering the storm’ really. we have spent days beginning to chain saw fallen trees/branches off fences and repairing pumps and generators etc. We have had no electricity (out nearly a week – thank goodness for the generator we installed over summer!), patchy mobile phone coverage, no internet. Our radio reception here is internet based and our TV reception is never good. Of course there has been no mail – or visitors!

Just to add insult to injury we have had (main) generator problems (fixed this afternoon) and the main water pump decided to fuse (again fixed this afternoon) – so now we have both just had our first hot shower in two days (bliss!).

Fortunately we have a wood heater so we have been warm and the secondary generator has provided us with lighting and we have even been able to watch a (recorded) series on TV at night – so hardly a miserable time really. And, as always we have each other – what a blessing that is! Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/06/17/droughts-and-flooding-rains/

14/06/2021: Seeing through camouflage – training hunters need: https://www.sciencealert.com/people-can-be-trained-to-see-through-camouflage-and-it-works-better-than-we-thought

13/06/2021: Stay away from whales: https://nypost.com/2021/06/11/lobster-diver-swallowed-by-humpback-whale-near-cape-cod/

10/06/2021: Della: 24 hours without power now and flood damage to our creek and fencing, but we are nevertheless warm and comfortable, enjoying the benefits of our generator and wood fire. The flood damage will be restored with time and a bit of hard yakka and hopefully our power will be restored in a couple of days. Life has its ups and downs, but this is still our piece of paradise. Hope you are all faring as well as possible!

03/06/2021: 102-year-old spends birthday morning walking up Hawke's Bay's Sugar Loaf Hill: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/125307685/102yearold-spends-birthday-morning-walking-up-hawkes-bays-sugar-loaf-hill?fbclid=IwAR1TZ1EMB-1MV-On6Aa1D7rsiiP_CaCxOdKVwUnON9v6MqnFW9wF9Y_Xg2A

02/06/2021: Such an earth-like planet. Musk may be right to want to go there. Let’s hope Kim Stanley Robinson’s predictions of it terraformability in his Mars Trilogy come to pass: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/05/30/nasas-curiosity-rover-captures-shining-clouds-on-mars/

02/06/2021: At last a real chocolate frog: https://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/31466/20210531/surprising-discovery-harry-potter-chocolate-frog-species-new-guinea-stuns.htm

31/05/2021: Wonnangatta 23.6: A couple more ignorant reporters trying to beat something out of nothing –rehashing the most egregious rubbish and exposing thereby there complete ignorance of the bush: https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/we-don-t-jump-at-ghosts-here-what-happened-in-wonnangatta-valley-20210520-p57tn5.html

31/05/2021: Why ‘science’ doesn’t work, ‘the finest candlemakers in the world could not come up with electric lights’ (NB Allan Savory has done more good in the world than another 100 scientists – BTW We sare building more and more paddocks): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_Savory) : https://www.michaelsmithnews.com/2021/05/on-science.html

31/05/2021: Sounds of Nepal: We were lucky enough to hike the EBC in November 2019 before Covid locked us all away from the world. We expected to have returned for other adventures before now and still hope to do so later this year or maybe next year.

When Della was in Namche she bought this yak bell as a ‘souvenir’ something which would make the place ‘come again’ which can only work if you carried it from there in your pack – which she did (the not so ultralight hiker).

Of course in the absence of yaks it fails to ring out around our hills as the bells did in Nepal, and whilst I guess we could tie it around the neck of one of our sheep they may not appreciate it – preferring as they do to go au naturelle. I have been wondering how I could make it sound for Della, and today in between working on tractor implements I have a device which works quite well – in Tyvek of course!

Naturally this is a prototype and will be further refined in silnylon. The bell itself has started to rust so it will need to be treated with something to preserve it – however I thought you  might like to hear the wind gently blow the striker and ring the bell. It sounds very like the yak trains which I have added below as well for comparison. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/05/30/sounds-of-nepal/

30/05/2021: If something as slow and obvious as a giant tortoise can be out there what else is yet to be discovered: https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2021/05/27/galapagos-giant-tortoise-discovery-extinct/9421622129838/

28/05/2021: The Importance of Landmarks: I meant to add a bit (to ‘Ultralight Hiking #102’) – actually quite a bit – about identifying and using ‘landmarks’. A ‘sense of direction’ needs to be learned and cultivated. I have spent so much of my life deep in the bush it seems to be almost unconscious to me, but it can be learned.

It is as important as just always keeping in mind the position of the sun. (I guess people may not be in the habit of doing this). And identifying the overall direction of ‘down’ – what I call ‘the lie of the land’.

As regards the last, so many times eg some novice hunter I have taken out has called me on the radio to say something like this, ‘I am at a/the creek but I don’t know which way to go’ ie to get back to the car etc. My first question is always ‘which direction is the water flowing?’ (eg from the right or the left when you are facing towards the sun).

From this simple piece of information I am instantly able to orient the misplaced hiker/hunter in my mind to the overall topography and sun position, then say something like, ‘OK, turn around so your back is to the stream (and the sun), then walk straight up the ridge which will be in front of you.’ It is always easier to walk up a ridge to arrive at a given point than to walk down one (as they tend to split going downwards).

You just can’t walk so very far in a single day as to get a long way off course. It really should be quite obvious to you at all times during the day almost exactly where your point of origin and destination are. If it is not, practice till it is! Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/05/27/the-importance-of-landmarks/

27/05/2021: Ultralight Hiking #102: First you figure out how to get your pack weight down to a sensible level say <5 kg skin out including your pack, mat sleeping bag, sat phone, sat messenger, shelter, first aid, cookset, clothes, pack rifle, ultralight fishing kit & etc – and hopefully you are able to do this without breaking the budget, ie for under $1,000 all up (sat phones etc are expensive but vital – how much is your life worth?) . You will find many suggestions, budget and DIY ideas on this page to help with those issues.

Then you must figure out how to ration your food and fuel (for less than 500 grams but over 2,000 calories per day) so that you can comfortably undertake say a ten day (unsupplied) hike beginning with a total pack weight of <10 kg (22 lbs). This is also not so hard. Some food ideas here.

I hope that you will have first learned a few things about bush survival and navigation before you go too far though, and that you continue to learn bushcraft skills which will enable you to live off the land and to provide yourself with water, food, warmth and shelter in any eventuality. These eventualities do arrive with alarming regularity. Thousands of people (needlessly) lose their lives every year in the backcountry for the lack of them! Don’t let it be you. As I earlier said, ‘How much is your life worth?’ read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/05/26/ultralight-hiking-102/

 26/05/2021: Happy Sixth Birthday Ultralight Hiker: Lately I have been working on a new website and facebook page for my dad Steve's incredible Hiking Blog "The Ultralight Hiker". If you or someone you know is interested in hiking, canoeing, camping, hunting etc in Gippsland, Australia and New Zealand you might like to take a look or spread the word. The content has been years in the making so you will find hundreds of posts on everything from places to go, the best light weight equipment, inspiring explorers, wildlife and more. Visit: www.theultralighthiker.com for more! Thank you. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/05/26/happy-sixth-birthday-ultralight-hiker/

24/05/2021: When Paddington attacks: https://nypost.com/2021/05/21/alaska-man-survives-horrific-bear-attack-while-on-the-job/

21/05/2021: “The love of hunting is almost a physiological characteristic. A man may not care for golf and still be human, but the man who does not like to see, hunt, photograph, or otherwise outwit birds and animals is hardly normal. He is supercivilised, and I for one do not know how to deal with him. Babes do not tremble when they are shown a golf ball, but I should not like to own the boy whose hair does not lift his hat when he sees his first deer”  Aldo Leopold 1887-1948

20/05/2021: Maybe why your heart blocks up sometimes: https://www.cnet.com/news/nikola-tesla-invention-from-100-years-ago-suddenly-makes-more-sense-today/ The blockages occur because the flow is wrong there and detritus builds up, like a sandbar in a river where the flow is sometimes even reversed, something every canoeist has observed! The flow is wrong because the geometry is wrong. Now however they are forbidding placing stents unless the ‘blockage’ is major when they could prevent the blockage occurring by altering the geometry (with eg stents). I have found all this myself playing around with irrigation systems (and helped ‘fix’ Della’s heart problem in the process), but NB the problem is always worse on the suction side. Cardiologists have yet to ‘discover’ that the heart has a ‘suction’ side. They are a long way behind plumbers!

18/05/2021: A Hiker’s Breakfast: A couple of new (to me) things I have been trying out which are delicious and super-simple. Continental Soup Sensations ‘Moroccan Vegetable Medley’ and Uncle Toby’s ‘Breakfast Bakes’.

The Moroccan Soup is without a doubt the best cupasoup I have ever eaten. I have always sworn by their Lakhsa and Dutch Curry varieties – both of which go well to add flavouring to a pack of two minute noodles (delete the normal flavour sachet) for a more substantial meal by the way. I haven’t yet tried out the new one like that but I ‘m sure it will go splendidly too. I keep buying out my local supermarket (of it) I like it so much. It is 117 calories for a sachet weight of 34 grams (3.4 calories per gram).

If you have it with just one of the ‘Breakfast Bakes – my personal favourite is the ‘Roasted Cashew and Vanilla’ – you will be adding it to 262 calories at 65 grams each (4.03 calories per gram) to give you a 379 calorie breakfast for 99 grams. That is about enough for me usually but I guess if you are really hungry you could have two! Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/05/17/a-hikers-breakfast/

17/05/2021: Cats are tough: https://citizenfreepress.com/breaking/cool-cat-survives-5-story-jump-from-burning-apartment/

16/05/2021: A home complete with mountain lions: https://pix11.com/news/national-news/mountain-lions-make-themselves-at-home-on-womans-porch-during-repeat-visits/

13/05/2021: The Ultralight Swagman: I just came across this interesting new poncho which doubles as a swag, the Helikon Swagman Roll Poncho. It would be lighter than the traditional wool blanket which (obviously) can be configured in much the same way (as I explained here). It weighs 1.64 pounds (743 grams). It is lined with Climashield Apex insulation. US$124 (May 2021)

Obviously you can cover it with a waterproof poncho such as Coghlans Emergency Poncho as I recommended here: If you could only carry two things in the bush what would they be? When you wrapped yourself up in it (or other space-type blanket) as a swag of a night this would make it both warmer and more waterproof. Could be very handy to have in your day or hunting pack. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/05/12/the-ultralight-swagman/

13/05/2021: Coffee Straw: Unlike so many people I am not a coffee snob. I am happy with a cup of instant coffee (black). Besides which a cup of coffee never got lighter than that, but if you are a coffee connoisseur you no doubt want to know about every possible wrinkle for making a delicious cup of java on the trail.

This solution is not the lightest I have seen (see post below = 4 grams) but I do like the originality of the idea. Materials: stainless steel & BPA free silicone Weight 2 oz (57 grams) Length 7.77″ (19.7 cm) Filter Diameter .55″ (1.4 cm) US$ 19 (May 2021) Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/05/13/coffee-straw/

13/05/2021: Do you ever wonder what 120 year old chocolate tastes like: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/61357

12/05/2021: Why we have to have a special licence to keep exotic pets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0P9B9rTVk4U&t=69s

11/05/2021: So What is Still Good and Cheap? Interesting thoughts: 15 Things That Were Made For Poor People That Rich People Ruined – so what is still good and cheap? https://www.buzzfeed.com/andyneuenschwander/things-for-poor-people-that-rich-people-ruined PS: I am loath to make suggestions unless I get priced out of life!

When I was a kid we ate a lot of prawns which were cheap because ‘toffee noses’ hadn’t discovered them yet. We also used to catch a lot of our own by moonlight around the shores of Lake Macquarie (which wasn’t surrounded by houses back then!)We used a couple of tomato stakes with a purse net suspended between which we dragged through the warm shallow waters ducking under every now and then if we thought a ‘Fisheries’ officer was about. We used to have a four gallon (20 litre) bucket which we would boil them up in over an open driftwood fire around which we would feast until we were so replete we could scarcely walk!

Fortunately you still can take prawns like this eg around the Gippsland Lakes etc – likewise crays and yabbies (in the rivers and streams) which Della simply adores. Oysters were also cheap (I used to catch ‘drift’ oysters with my feet around Lake Macquarie – just as you can take river mussels etc) though I have never liked them as much as pipis, (same method at low tide) still cheap and easy to get along our coasts. Of course Gippsland where we live is still a paradise as compared with many other places today. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/05/11/so-what-is-still-good-and-cheap/

11/05/2021: "Yachtsmen pleasuring in the 'lilies of the sea' will not think favourably of my craft," warned Joshua Slocum: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spray_(sailing_vessel)

11/05/2021: Are you growing fractal broccoli: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanesco_broccoli

09/05/2021: NASA’s Perseverance Rover Hears Ingenuity Mars Helicopter in Flight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5niGi4k9vQ&list=PLTiv_XWHnOZpzQKYC6nLf6M9AuBbng_O8&t=143s

07/05/2021: Playing with expensive toys: https://www.michaelsmithnews.com/2021/05/skills-god-only-thinks-hes-a-fighter-pilot.html

07/05/2021: Can these really be fungi on Mars: https://futurism.com/scientists-fungus-growing-mars

07/05/2021: Ah, the romance of being a castaway on a desert island for fifteen years- the fate and behaviour of these Malagasys is quite astonishing: https://www.damninteresting.com/fifteen-years-forsaken/

06/05/2021: Mars, here we come: Starship SN15 Take-off and Landing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9eoubnO-pE&t=772s

04/05/2021: Interesting thoughts: 15 Things That Were Made For Poor People That Rich People Ruined – so what is still good and cheap? https://www.buzzfeed.com/andyneuenschwander/things-for-poor-people-that-rich-people-ruined PS: I am loath to make suggestions unless I get priced out of life! Some of our ‘wrinkles’ have already been denied to others: building our own house out of earth & etc has become monstrously difficult. Thank goodness we did it long ago. (Someday we may even finish it!) Home car repairs and second-hand cars have become much more difficult. For thirty years our annual car ‘running’ costs were around $300 per car (about half of rego costs now!) But it has become so difficult to fix a modern car. I mostly stick to 20+ years old Land Rovers for that reason – but I also buy insurance write-offs and re-build and re-register them. We are about to launch into club rego for many of our older cars. Enormously cheaper if you have the garage space. We still do a lot of camping and never (absolutely never) pay for a camping spot. We also make most of our own camping gear (See: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/). Likewise we design and build a lot of our own stuff – our tray-back camper, for example. We grow a lot of our own food and almost always cook our food from raw ingredients. We hunt and fish – great savings and great fun! We still do a lot of repairs ourselves (eg clothes). We shop (carefully) often online and try to find the cheapest price for the same goods. If we can make it ourselves or make an alternative we do. Second-hand is also fine with us. By the same token we never really seem to ‘need’ a lot of the things which others ‘must have’. For example, this week I bought a second-hand pair of hearing aids for $220 and will tune them myself, a saving of several thousand dollars. I also bought new glasses from Zenni on a prescription off my phone (which is better than I can get from an optometrist). The (progressive ultralight flexible titanium frame) glasses cost around $61 delivered instead of nearer $700! I will post this advice on my website above and add to the suggestions over time. 

02/05/2021: Everlasting Pen: Even in this electronic age sometimes you need to leave a written message. It helps if you can make it waterproof (these notepads will help) but it is also important that when the time comes to write it that your pen works (and is ultralight, of course!) You could just use a cheap length of pencil. Or a space pen refill (as I have done here). Or you could investigate this idea – a pen which does not use ink and which does not wear out.

I have sometimes needed to leave a message – perhaps tied to a tree eg warning about some trail hazard ahead (a washed out bridge perhaps), or placed in someone’s tent/camp/hut or besides their trailcam, and of course we have all needed to fill out log books in huts etc. It is just on such occasions you find that your trusty biro which you have carried for endless trail miles has gone dry and =that no amount of rubbing an cajoling will bring it back to life.

Space pens are superior in this regard and have never failed me so far, and at one gram for the refill I carry (and little need, as I rarely venture where there are other folks to leave messages for anyway) I am unlikely to carry anything else, but if this description is not you then maybe an everlasting pen is your solution?

These pens would not actually last forever either as they wear away slowly by leaving a thin film of indelible soft metal as a message something like writing a message with the soft tip of a lead bullet something which f you are a hunter you have probably frequently done! Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/05/01/everlasting-pen/

01/05/2021: Oh, to have moose in the garden: https://citizenfreepress.com/breaking/mom-theres-a-cute-baby-moose-in-the-yard-taking-a-shower/

23/04/2021: Did Bigfoot murder pot growers: https://www.sfgate.com/streaming/article/hulu-true-crime-sasquatch-murder-cannabis-farmers-16104896.php

22/04/2021: Pompeii take-away menu: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/recreate-the-menu-of-pompeii-ancient-pub

20/04/2021: Ingenuity helicopter flying on Mars: https://phys.org/news/2021-04-ingenuity-helicopter-successfully-flew-mars.html

18/04/2021: New motorcycle carrier. I needed one of these for packrafting. This one is great. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/04/18/motorbike-carrier/

18/04/2021: The Prince’s Land Rover Defender hearse is my must have. Fortunately I own two of them so should not be disappointed when the time comes. (May be their first wash!) They will after all outlast me.

17/04/2021: 2.5 billion T. rex roamed Earth, but not all at once: https://www.msn.com/EN-US/news/technology/study-2-5-billion-t-rex-roamed-earth-but-not-all-at-once/ar-BB1fH8XV?ocid=BingNews Given that each of them needed to consume the mass of approximately one small boy a day, that’s a lot of small boys gone missing.

17/04/2021: Beware of bobcats: https://gutsmack.com/2021/04/husband-goes-full-rambo/

16/04/2021: Wonnangatta Revisit: ‘Calling a Spade a Bloody Shovel’ used to be one of my father’s favourite sayings. I was minded of this yesterday when Vicpol appeared completely unable to tell the difference between the two, and somehow bizarrely believed that two bricky’s spades discarded off the edge of a main highway could have been used to bury bodies in thick fire regrowth (which they seem to be mistaking for pristine wilderness!) nearly 100 km away from where the (likely) Wonnangatta murders took place – as if someone would have spent say four hours on 4WD tracks driving past hundreds of suitable spots so that they could then drive along 2WD roads for a several more hours to dispose of the bodies next to a main artery!

The man who committed this crime was not so stupid. He was quick-witted enough to commit the murders and dispose of the bodies (in the dark within a couple of hours of the couple arriving at the camp site – the camp toilet had not been used) leaving the ‘crime scene’ pristine enough that even after a year many of the police are still not willing to say that the crime actually occurred. He clearly knew he was going to commit this crime and had thoroughly planned it in his head – at least for hours. I imagine that he had them under observation for some time, waited till it went dark and they were in bed then struck. This suggests that he followed them in, or was already there. (I doubt he knew them as in that case he would have killed them on the Thursday night on the Howitt Plains when fewer people were about).

As I am unaware of any witness reports about Russell and Carol driving in then clearly no-one saw a car which followed them in then exited again in the dark either – which leaves open the possibility that it was not the ‘white ute’ that police are seeking (unless it was already there - as I said before).

In my last post about this a reader commented that ‘police’ have the ability to track phones which are switched off (or even have their batteries removed). I admit that I thought this was unlikely however I found indeed it is possible, but I can find no evidence that anyone has this ability unless they have accessed the phone prior to the desire to track it in some way (which would be unlikely in this instance). If ‘police’ had this ability they would long ago have identified where Russell, Carol and the perpetrator's phones were – and made an arrest!

Disposing of two bodies off a 4WD track in the dark involves several technical difficulties which suggest likely spots to search. I have spent over 40 years’ tracking’ along 4WD tracks looking for deer sign to start hounds on. And of course I have often found where people stop to dump dead calves, sheep carcasses and the like. You are not going to stop just anywhere – eg not on a very steep section or right next to a sharp bend ( as someone may come along unexpectedly). You want a level-ish spot with a good ‘drop-off  below where it is easy to drag/roll the bodies down and out of sight quickly.

I have stressed that word. You don’t want to be caught hanging around on a remote track disposing of dead bodies. Remember this was the Friday night of a long weekend. People will be arriving at all hours. You need to stop in a place where you can see lights coming from a long way away – so basically a long flattish section preferably with a slight downhill incline (not such a common spot if you are going uphill) so that your headlights can illuminate what you are doing. You would stop, toss the bodies on the ground then back up so that you can see where you are dragging them (a torch won’t cut it as well), then quickly drag them down 20 yards or so (2 minutes at most) and be on your way – and clearly never come back!

There are several suitable spots like that on the Zeka Spur (most likely eg if you followed them in) and on the Cynthia Range Track on the way out to Eaglevale (for example) the second most likely spot those two being the most common routes. If you are smart enough to have covered all traces at the crime scene (in a few minutes probably) you are not going to be driving out onto a 2WD road on a long weekend where there will likely be police/wildlife officers etc stopping cars eg to check gun licences etc. This is a common occurrence as anyone who frequents the Wonnangatta knows!

I have never been convinced (enough) by the quality of police searches to completely rule out that their (lost) bodies might even be in the bush in the vicinity of the campsite still, (photos show the cadaver dogs there now) but all along I thought this was a one-in-a-million chance. I have actually spoken to the people who found the burnt out camp site six days later but I do not know who found it the  next day and failed to report it. What an irresponsible person! The people six days later drove immediately up to ‘the tops’ so they could phone the police (whose response was evidently about what we are used to, eg in the case of the little lost boy they could not find at about the same time & etc!)

On the seventh day (if I had been the police) I would have been walking along the tracks I mentioned (and similar ones) with my two small Jack Russell terriers who would have immediately told me when they smelled a body (supposing my own olfactory skills were so poor as not to notice!) A year later is just about too late to be bringing out the ‘cadaver dogs’ as they have been doing, though if they look in the right place the bodies will still be there – but not buried! There is absolutely not reason to bury the bodies. The time spent doing so (an hour or more in the dark – oh sure!) would only increase the chance that someone would come along and notice.

This perpetrator is not stupid. I can see several attempts by the police (in reporting) to ‘spook’ him but they are so inconsistent and poorly thought out they would clearly not have that effect on any (evil) intelligent person. For example inconsistently stating the numbers (one/some) of people in the white ute. If you know there are two you say ‘two’ so that the one less guilty will come forward in the expectation that police are close behind. You do not say that the ‘shovels’ were found in bush ‘where no human has even walked’ (when they were obviously thrown/fallen off from a vehicle anyway). Really if no-one had ever walked there how did the shovels get there?

As a policemen you need to give some indication you are smarter than the criminal. This is not the way to do it. You can be sure the perpetrator is closely reading every word that is written about this crime. (NB I note that the reporters may be to blame for some/all of these slips. The reporting of this matter and most others has been appalling)

My own ‘hunch’ about this is that the perpetrator is an evil ‘copycat’ who decided to emulate the very similar 1916 murders in pretty much the same spot where the bodies were also removed from the scene – you would hope police searched the spots where the 1916 bodies were found - though I doubt they would be there. Some recent reports:

https://www.news.com.au/national/victoria/news/police-move-search-for-missing-campers-russell-hill-and-carol-clay-to-mount-hotham-area/news-story/dbc205908ec032aec7c2dc0195548ff3  & https://www.news.com.au/national/victoria/news/police-move-search-for-missing-campers-russell-hill-and-carol-clay-to-mount-hotham-area/news-story/dbc205908ec032aec7c2dc0195548ff3  & https://www.heraldsun.com.au/truecrimeaustralia/police-courts-victoria/detectives-pause-search-for-missing-campers-russell-hill-and-carol-clay-await-forensic-tests-for-two-shovels/news-story/c6e4f7462284832ef5cb21b4bbf31ce0  & https://www.9news.com.au/national/mysterious-disappearance-of-campers-russell-hill-carol-clay-mount-hotham-victoria/16ad67b3-d318-4cc5-ac3f-f14b6c8bdc4f &   https://www.news.com.au/national/victoria/news/criminal-psychologist-tim-watsonmunro-believes-missing-campers-russell-hill-and-carol-clay-met-with-foul-play/news-story/9679014d5dd2d4c8fc9577ecc0ed5f47  & https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9472341/Russell-Hill-Carol-Clay-Investigation-missing-campers-PAUSED-discovery-new-clues.html

15/04/2021: South Coast Track Fiordland NZ: Waitutu to Westies: I can't believe it is five years ago today we were there. Time for another trip. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/04/14/south-coast-track-fiordland-nz-waitutu-to-westies/

15/04/2021: Jack Russells fear nothing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1q63v6Dd3c&t=49s

11/04/2021: Knee Cure News: OK, so there is a new thing you can do and I had it done yesterday, so it is early days yet. But…It is called Cooled Radiofrequency Ablation. Put simply it zaps the nerves coming from the knee which are causing you the pain and turns them off for around a year, perhaps two. It’s costing me $400 plus some extra for anaesthetists, hospital expenses etc – cheap at half the price! Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/04/11/knee-cure-news/


10/04/2021: The World’s Lightest Off-Road Motorcycle (60 kg)  – must have: http://www.fxbikes.com/

10/04/2021: Fusion this decade - perhaps: https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/a36065327/nuclear-reactor-makes-fusion-viable-by-2030/

08/04/2021: A technique to produce transplantable livers in the laboratory: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-04-technique-transplantable-livers-laboratory.html

05/04/2021: Thomson Autumn Packraft: Perhaps the last lovely canoeing day of 2021's autumn. Time to spend a few hours on one of my favourite rivers. As I mentioned in this post Thomson River Packrafting Day Trip you can enjoy a number of different day trips on this beautiful river if you haven't enough time for a multi-day trip like this Only the Moon and Me or How Green was My River. But you should some time.

I have just installed a new motorbike carrier on our old Disco so I was all ready to try it out on a beautiful 26C autumn day with .21 metres of water at Coopers Creek near the minimum - though I have been down the river enjoyably albeit with many scrapes at .18!

I stopped well back Probably nearly 2 km from the end of the track as I do not fancy riding down really steep sections (old bones break too easily) or the difficulties one can encounter 4WDing back up them, so I parked my (Yamaha 225cc) motorcycle here on the Mitchell Creek Track.

This canoe trip takes about three hours. It took me about an hour to get from Cowwarr Weir to the river and about half an hour to go back from there for my bike. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/04/05/thomson-autumn-packraft/

03/04/2021: Hiking Hydro Power: A friend (thank you Bruce) sent me a link to one of these great gadgets which sent me off on a search of the possibilities, since many of us hike/hunt in mountain areas where there is often ample flowing water. Something like this would also be good for providing power to your Wilderness Hut.

What you have here is a Waterproofed DC dynamo powered by a prop (or turbine) basically with a transformer circuit which stabilises the output to 5 volts then charges a battery which can then be used to draw off power for a multitude of uses.

All these are small systems in the range 5 to around 20 watts which would be sufficient for most people's modest backcountry purposes providing they have access to a good steady flow of fast moving water with a good 'head' (ie fall).

This one is the 'Waterlily' one of the best priced units I found. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/04/03/hiking-hydro-power/

02/04/2021: The Raincoat Swag – and other mods: The humble raincoat is so often a life-saver. There is no other item so vital for your survival that you should take into the bush as some type of shelter (even if it is only the humble $2 space blanket which so easily slips in your breast pocket). For most people though that will be their raincoat, so it is important to realise just what you can do with it.

As with so many things such realisations often only come after a lifetime of failing to recognise them (hopefully this is not a fatal mistake!) I recently realised (after nearly 70 years) for example that toothpaste is a liquid. All the disputes about how to best handle toothpaste tubes come to an abrupt end after you understand this, and thenceforth always keep the tube in an upright position standing on its lid. The toothpaste always comes out easily then and keeps on doing so until the very last (unexpected you will find out) drop (or dollop)!

Of course the same is true (ie failing to recognise things) eg  when people continue to wear their raincoats when caught out for prolonged periods eg overnight in heavy freezing rain. Water strips away heat at least twenty times more efficiently than does air (why it is often used to cool things; – think car radiators for example). In such a situation as the above this becomes a life-threatening situation which must be addressed by taking your raincoat off! And holding or securing it above you to create an air gap. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/04/01/the-raincoat-swag-and-other-mods/

29/03/2021: Xiaomi to launch the world's first liquid lens smartphone camera: https://newatlas.com/mobile-technology/xiaomi-mi-mix-liquid-lens/

28/03/2021: DIY Ultralight Pipe Gun: In places where they are legal people might consider making one of these eg for protection from predators of various sorts, survival situations or to secure food for the pot. They can be stowed safely in two pieces and take up very little space and weight.

When separated in its two pieces (eg in separate bags) there is very little to tell that it is a gun at all. In the one pictured below for example, if one was to weld a wheel nut sized socket on the end of the ‘handle’ I think it would pass most people’s inspection as a tool for assisting with removing flat tyres from vehicles when traveling eg around Australia.

One made in .410 gauge (which has a number of shell options including solids) would be flexible, useful, reasonably lightweight without the obvious dangers of the bigger 12 gauge brother which in many cases would be ‘overkill’ – at least for the ultralight hiker. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/03/27/diy-ultralight-pipe-gun/

27/03/2021: Welcome to 3D Printed Houses: https://citizenfreepress.com/breaking/homeless-man-becomes-first-person-to-live-in-3d-printed-house-see-inside/

26/03/2021: Bears having fun - FF to about 1 minute in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mm8WXtrmjjg&t=184s

25/03/2021: A .30 Calibre Semi-Automatic Air Rifle – what’s not to like: https://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2021/3/21/preview-hatsan-blitz-air-rifle

24/03/2021: Ultralight Tipi Design: I came across this truly brilliant small DIY tipi design over at Quest Outfitters (where they sell a kit for it for US$77.50 – Mar 2021) when I was looking to buy some other DIY supplies. I was so impressed by it I asked Nick, its inventor for permission to reproduce it here and he kindly agreed. Nick has done rather a lot more work than I began with my post Seamless Tyvek Tipi. For example he has worked out where the centre is and a method to close it properly. His website has complete instructions for making the tarp in a variety of sizes. The 9′ wide one (pictured) weighs 23 oz (655 grams) in 1.3 oz/yd2 silnylon (add floor to that) and sets up with a 6′ (1.8 metre) pole. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/03/24/nixitarp-tipi-design/

24/03/2021: Drone Footage of Iceland Volcano: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuMeLv9_oS0&t=99s

24/03/2021: Help, I lost my body. I’ll just grow a new one: https://www.popsci.com/story/animals/slugs-organisms-photosynthesis/

23/03/2021: Meanwhile sea shanties are (deservedly) back to Number One on the charts: https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-56463078

23/03/2021: Just because we don’t understand prehistoric ‘writing’ doesn’t mean that it wasn’t: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Illustration-of-engraving-phases.jpg

19/03/2021: Moby Dick might have been quite devious after all: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/17/sperm-whales-in-19th-century-shared-ship-attack-information?fbclid=IwAR20F1LOWFBFzHKENoJ-eZmDFgpY4TJX7P8LzJjRsQUvZMY1o4j1EFIvBXQ

18/03/2021: Wilderness Hut: I am so glad there are others who are also not wholly smitten by the ‘leave no trace’ religion. In any number of unlikely places over the years I have come across ingeniously constructed huts and fishing/hunting camps sprinkled (without eg Government or Parks Vic’s blessing or knowledge) throughout our wonderful Victorian mountains.

These are not the (official) huts that ‘everyone’ knows about – and which even appear on maps – like the one at Black Snake Creek on the Wonnangatta River which is nearly a hundred years old now (constructed by the last resident of that 1930’s gold mining town, Harry Gee).

The huts I am speaking of were constructed with great effort and skill away from vehicular access, and usually well camouflaged so that they are not readily found by aerial searches. If a hut is only around 10′ x 10′ (or less) – adequate for comfy shelter for (say) four people on a winter’s night, and has been blotch-painted, it is extremely hard to find on Google Earth – even when you know exactly where it is. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/03/18/wilderness-hut/

15/03/2021: My Octopus Teacher – worth a look: https://www.netflix.com/au/title/81045007

14/03/2021: Windy Old Weather: 'Windy Old Weather'. I guess you have all heard the old sea shanty at one time or another and you know the refrain, 'When the wind blows, We'll all go together'.

If you are high on some solitary mountain top in the Victorian Alps and a 'Southerly Buster' comes rolling in off the Bight, or you are hiking the South Coast Track on the bottom of Tassie in the 'Roaring Forties' it is all too likely your tent will disappear into the night like the Cheshire Cat's smile. There are ways to avoid this. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/03/14/windy-old-weather/

14/03/2021: Awesome Arrow Penetration: https://www.facebook.com/precisioncrafted/ & https://fb.watch/4cXhTOuHwG/

13/03/2021: Ancient Greek Antikythera ‘computer’ decoded: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/mar/12/scientists-move-closer-to-solving-mystery-of-antikythera-mechanism?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

12/03/2021: An Ultralight Hammock: You can now make a hammock which weighs (well) under 150 grams including suspensions system! Given that you can also make a hammock tarp which weighs less than this (too) including tie-outs and pegs, (so a total carry weight of sub 300 grams!) you should seriously consider hammocking as an option, or at least as an alternative choice to your tent when you fail to find a suitable tent site at the end of a long day.

This is particularly apposite (in forested areas obviously) when you can expect very wet conditions (as in Fiordland). If you are unable to camp on the ground, you will be in very serious trouble indeed (there) if you only have a ten or tarp. People die. Be warned. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/03/12/an-ultralight-hammock/

08/03/2021: Trouble With Water Filters: I have learned this about water filters. When your need is greatest they do not filter water! This is a serious problem!

My late uncle Ken Jones used always to wear a felt hat (as did his father George – and so on no doubt into the mists of time). This  was a certainly sound practice and I may have Della making me some to my own design (she is a master/mistress feltmaker).

He used always to place his hat upside down into a muddy puddle using it to filter the worst of the muck then drink from the inside of the hat. At least you get a drink.

A water filter blocks almost immediately if the water is at all muddy – so if it is really only good for filtering tap water, what good is it really?

You need to make use of some sort of garment like this as my uncle/grandfather used to do. Perhaps collecting the water then pouring it though the garment filter a number of times until it is suitable for the water filter (or just for drinking)! Mind you I have drunk black water many times and I am not dead (yet)!'

Yes, this is absolutely true, your 'wonderful' Sawyer Mini or Katahdin etc water filter will block up almost instantly if you are in dire need and must filter really muddy water such as that from a sambar wallow, animal soak, or roadside puddle etc and you will gain no drinkable water at all from it.

It will work well in filtering crystal clear tap or stream water should you think you need to. Many people do not, including myself. It could be useful in removing eg viruses from questionable water sources in rural Nepal or somewhere but in most mountain areas in Australia the water filter will be almost completely unnecessary and largely useless.

A (wool) felt beret or beanie on the other hand will keep you head nice and warm on a cold night and also make a rather nasty puddle into something which is fit to drink. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/03/08/trouble-with-water-filters/





08/03/2021: Wonnangatta Breakthrough? https://7news.com.au/news/missing-person/drone-found-during-search-for-missing-campers-russell-hill-and-carol-clay-in-victoria-c-2307626?fbclid=IwAR37JPvYQDaKzztKBi-cQfC4kus0Kk9WT_uXlKhw3n8DQk8A3coLxI2wAjY


07/03/2021: The perfect bank robber's getaway vehicle - a 75 mph scooter: https://escooternerds.com/fastest-electric-scooters/?fbclid=IwAR1Nb6G4ZiGh7lIS9bUAbswKXcZglhOF2oGMXR9IB6ENsmxsDnqa_nA9wBM


06/03/2021: Wonnangatta Murder Update: A reader has alerted me to this new ‘documentary’ which you my or may not have caught. You can watch it for free by creating an account at the link/s: https://9now.nine.com.au/60-minutes/60-minutes-under-investigation-where-are-carol-clay-and-russell-hill/dfcacbb3-7507-4cd6-aa43-078d242c94a0  & https://www.9now.com.au/under-investigation/2021/episode-1  


As with much of the earlier reporting this one also illustrates the poor quality of journalism in Australia. It is completely unclear whether any of the ‘evidence’ which it presents is at all dependable. The only ‘new’ item to me (which I am willing to accept) concerns the location of the campsite which it now appears was not in a large clearing (as I previously thought).


This does re-introduce the possibility of one of them having been accidentally shot by ‘yahoo’’ spotlighters who then shot the other one to conceal their crime then disposed of the bodies and burned their camp (for like reason). As I said earlier, for this to have happened there would have to have been two perpetrators (one driving the car, handling the lights, the other with the gun).


If only one person, then the person would have realised they were seeing a human in the time between seeing the ‘eyes’ and stopping the car/picking up the gun. Two people would also make it easier to heft the bodies (so a tray truck could be involved).


I still think this is unlikely as surely there were other people within heaing of gunshot/s who would have by now reported same to police so that we would have heard of shooting/s.


The programme makes much of a ‘cowboy figure’ who was involved in the search (wearing a Stetson and leather soled boots no less!) This person reports having found a beheaded deer carcass within 50 metres of Russell’s camp (and ‘many’ others) which was ‘less than two days old’


But ‘his’ search took place a week after their disappearance! If it was shot after the couple disappeared that would be a surprise! If before, then it would not have been ‘fresh’ and would have been thoroughly eaten by wild dogs etc.


This person also claims to have talked to ‘a blackberry sprayer’ who ‘saw’ Russell’s drone flying over their own camp on the Friday ‘night’. This would be interesting ‘new’ evidence if true, but it is highly questionable. For a start police would have certainly mentioned this ‘fact’ much earlier.


Mind you, if it is true it might indicate that Russell realised he had been followed and wanted to get a look at his follower. Suspicion might re-focus on the ‘Button Man’ if this were the case, but I suspect the ‘evidence’ is pretty thin.


The programme also claimed that Russell had camped at ths spot ‘a week before’ and had intimate knowledge of the valley (even having built the Zeka track) but earlier reporting explained how Russell had radioed his friend before he drove into the valley for instructions about how to get there, and claimed that he had (likely) camped at the Crossroads the week before and also the night before.


The ‘cowboy’ further claimed that Russell and Carol’s cards (not credit cards or money) had been taken out of their wallets and scattered around in the car and that the car was left locked and that the keys were missing. Earlier reporting however said that the keys were in the vehicle.


This report claimed that Russell’s elastic-sided boots and both ‘sleeping bags’ were missing as well as the previously mentioned phones and drone. This would be new and interesting/puzzling ‘evidence’ if it had the slightest chance of being true. Goodness only knows.


The ‘forensic fire’ expert and the ex-detective were absolutely hopeless. For example, the former claimed to have examined the flammability of the tent etc and claimed that it would not have continued burning unless there was an accelerant (something police had already given an opinion about), but he missed the obvious fact that the fly had burned away completely in the air even scorching the side of the car where it was tied but not the ground beneath – clearly without an accelerant!

As for the detective, he let the ‘cowboy’ tell of a nearby camper who was allegedly overflown by a drone, then speculate about the couple having been shot by deer hunters though the ‘neighbour’ failed to notice that fairly obvious (loud) fact! Really, the people who put this show together were simply idiots. They do not even seem to have bothered to have read previous accounts and police reports about the incident. They have just decided to try to create something out of nothing.


Unfortunately I do not think the programme adds anything to our knowledge of this mystery. I sill think a careful search (on foot) of the strip of bush within fifty yards of all the tracks leading out of the valley needs to be undertaken (if it has not been already). This might find items of clothing which would lead to scattered remains. It is unlikely though that even finding the bodies now would point us to the perpetrator/s.


This double murder may go down in history as just as unsolved as the two which took place at (nearly) the same spot a hundred years before. The previous murder may even be the biggest clue to this particular mystery. Five police are apparently still working full-time on the case. Older, more baffling cases than this have eventually been solved. People often slip up or blab for example.


06/03/2021: Most of the human story is underneath the sea – like these amazing caves: https://notesonliberty.com/2021/03/04/cave-paintings-and-elementary-science-2/

05/03/2021: A longship twice as long as Colombus’s tub Santa Maria - the Vikings really knew how to travel: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/60885


05/03/2021: Starship X: All that success, and then disaster: https://citizenfreepress.com/breaking/breaking-space-x-starship-10-sticks-the-landing/


04/03/2021: New techniques will continue to open ‘boxes’ which are closed to us now (eg the ‘animated faces’ I posted about a couple of days ago), and now this: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/60881


04/03/2021: Back from the Dead. I never thought I would see my father (who died when I was 13, long before there were videos) ever smile again, but here he is. The world is an amazing place. Try it yourself: https://blog.myheritage.com/2021/02/new-animate-the-faces-in-your-family-photos/

Original Photo for comparison:


PS: I have had to turn this into a small GIF to post it here, but on my home computer it is a beautifully clear full screen moving picture. Utterly astonishing.


See Also: https://newatlas.com/computers/deepfake-nostalgia-myheritage-animate-deceased-relatives/ & https://www.deidentification.co/reenactment/#live-portrait


03/03/2021: 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/

02/03/2021: Double the Fun – no licence required (in the US): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUB4apRcsek&feature=emb_title

02/03/2021: You worry about the redback on the toilet seat – this woman was bitten on the arse by a bear in the dunny: https://www.wtxl.com/news/national-news/alaska-woman-using-outhouse-attacked-by-bear-from-below

29/02/2021: Happy Trails: Thanks to reader Normand for this suggestion: People often ask when I am going to start making versions of my DIY tents for sale, and the answer remains, ‘How long is a piece of string?’

It is hard to get into a completely new enterprise post-70. If there is someone out there who wants to partner with me in the development and marketing of some of my ‘inventions’ (and take the lion’s share of the rewards) please get in contact.

Meanwhile, Normand’s suggestion for a similar tent to some of mine is the excellent firm  Appy Trails Lightweight Tents who offer some very economical lightweight shelters though these do not double as hammock shelters as my Deer Hunter’s tent #2, Grey Flyer and 10 x 10 Tarp do.

However, they are available right now from US$39.95 (tarp tent) & US$99/95 3 Person Tent. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/02/28/happy-trails/

29/02/2021: Wow! Haircut Using Chainsaw: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fToKIr0RAY&feature=emb_title

28/02/2021:Wonnangatta Proof Testing: My Kevlar skid pad canoe repairs on a delightful overnight trip on a couple of beautiful warm days with abundant water from Kingwill Bridge to Hut Creek. We planned for a longer trip but Della began feeling unwell (and I blew up a clutch in one of the cars) so we had to cut it short. Thanks goodness we can still hitch-hike – and thanks to Terry and Nick for giving us a lift! Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/02/27/wonnangatta-proof-testing/

27/02/2021: Gerber Folding Machete: The Gerber Folding Machete. What a brilliant idea! Length 15.1 in -38 cm  (unfolded - about half that folded) Weight 18 oz around 500 grams. You can chop, split or shave with it, and it fits comfortably and safely in your pack (or on your hip via the included pouch) US$139 (Feb 2021).

It is probably not a replacement for the World's Greatest Machete for serious track clearing (or this beauty) but it is awesome and handy. You really need to carry a fixed blade of some sort for splitting woods to Light a Fire in the Wet - a point I have made many times before. If you have no other source of water, you need a hatchet or similar cutting tool to get at standing wood in saplings  (See Hatchet). This may be your perfect survival tool. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/02/27/gerber-folding-machete/

25/02/2021: Kevlar Skid Pads : Our Old Town Pack Angler canoes really don’t tolerate hard knocks on rough rapids well. Bruce and I tore a couple of holes in them when we came down the Macalister in late Spring (See Carpe Diem). I ordered the Kevlar to undertake these repairs back then but of course I didn’t get around to doing them until the day we wanted to use them again on a couple of lovely warm days with enough water on the Wonnangatta this week.

Just like everyone else my only experience of fibreglassing is in filling a few rust holes in old bomb cars over the years, but I was ‘willing to give it a go’.  The result works even if it is not pretty. I can see ways that I can improve, and with fibreglass you can always come back and add another layer, or more resin, which this job needs. It also encourages me to try a bigger project some time (such as a complete canoe – who knows? Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/02/25/kevlar-skid-pads/

24/02/2021: On Horseback Among the Eagle Hunters and Herders of the Mongolian Altai: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/22/travel/mongolia-eagle-hunters.html?referringSource=articleShare

22/02/2021: Khoresh: foods I have never tasted: https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/food/articles/khoresh-stew-unites-iranian-jewish-expatriates

20/02/2021: Prunes: (Della) Our lovely prune tree which we planted over 30 years ago has had its last crop. It has been sickly for the past decade or more and its crops of purple skinned, yellow-fleshed prunes had been steadily diminishing until a couple of weeks ago a wind bought down half of the tree, leaving only a small portion of rotted trunk and associated limbs behind.

We have yet to remove the debris, but as the plums on the fallen branches were ready for picking I was able to get a reasonable harvest as the whole crop was within my reach for once! No doubt the birds felt cheated by my advantage. Usually we just eat what we can manage fresh, but this year's haul made me think of drying the prunes. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/02/22/prunes/

15/02/2021: Amazing – music from 18,000 years ago: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/60733

15/02/2021: UFOs – will we soon know what they are: https://citizenfreepress.com/breaking/pentagon-drops-ufo-bombshell/

14/02/2021: Bernard Cornwell seems to be right: Stonehenge was moved from Wales: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-56029203

13/02/2021: Forbidden Wilderness: Della and I are just back from a four day backpacking exploration of one of our greatest alpine wildernesses, the Mt Darling Snowy Bluff Wilderness created in 1983. This is a trackless mountain vastness suitable only for the most experienced outdoor adventurers. We return ‘bowed but unbroken’. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/02/13/forbidden-wilderness/

13/02/2021: Yet another reason to use Nexgard (monthly) on your pooch: https://www.portlincolntimes.com.au/story/7110764/worst-fears-realised-deadly-dog-disease-has-already-spread-south/?fbclid=IwAR1Io6Zhce6iTbfClK4SPki20sqk4Ris17qMkc2lVEnQ2DXyysyj7Sszoo8

9/02/2021: The delights of ‘environmentalism’; the Handkerchief. Who knew someone would re-invent an item I have carried in my pocket every day of my life: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/193289139/lasttissue-big-the-reusable-facial-tissue-box/?utm_term=e5e6f242-4ee8-4cf4-92d4-c6d6160e779e&utm_content=23846649217750076&utm_source=23846649217750076&utm_medium=FB&utm_campaign=TRS

9/02/2021: The ‘missing’ universe has been found: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/02/07/student-astronomer-finds-galactic-missing-matter/

7/02/2021: Where do birds sleep? Lots of places, but not in nests: https://slate.com/technology/2014/01/where-do-birds-sleep-roosting-in-nests-water-flocks-cavities.html

5/02/2021: Sub Ounce Per Pair Camp Shoes: I have been (very belatedly) making Della a pair of these using the 'pattern' I made my own with some years ago. That post says they weighed 19 grams but that was including the closed cell foam inserts. 13 without! That was in US Size 9.

Della's in US Women's Size 6 weigh just 10 grams each (without the string and cord lock which will add less than a gram). This probably saves around 300 grams' pack weight as compared with carrying the lightest 'camp shoes' available.

I have included some instructions this time so you could make your own if you have moderate sewing skills. I think you could manage well enough with hand sewing if you do not own a machine. I used the 3.6 oz Dyneema fabric available eg from RipstopbytheRoll as it is a bit lighter than the 4.8 oz. Mine have 'worn' quite well. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/02/05/sub-ounce-per-pair-camp-shoes/

5/02/2021: A Really Long Walk With You. Fifty years ago I first met Della, who has been life itself to me ever since. She was good enough to marry me 48 years ago (next week). Some people set out on a ‘through hike’ (perhaps the Alps Walk or Appalachian Trail) thinking to complete a really long walk. Fifty years with you walking beside me is the real thing. People often say they love someone ‘to the moon and back’ but we have probably walked together something rather like like that distance in our nearly 20,000 days together – anyway several times around the world. I am hoping we can toddle along together a little further yet awhile as it is the best of all possible lives.


04/02/2021: Spot’s DIY Ultralight Dog Sleeping Bag #2: Our Jack Russells, Spot and Honey need new sleeping bags. The old ones, made hastily years ago from scraps of an old poor quality down sleeping bag were never very satisfactory – and were too heavy. I searched the net for designs but could not find a satisfactory one so I started from scratch myself.

Spot is looking pleased as he thinks I got his old bed out as we are going camping – which we are soon, after I have made their new beds, and a couple of other things!

After many models (which did not work), I finally came up with this design which does. The proportions are now good as the Tyvek prototype I made to check out the appropriate size was 2″ short and 1″ too narrow for supreme doggie comfort – though I think they would actually have snuggled down aright.

When I make the final one using the proportions in the diagram it will fit just right. On the left side is a drawing showing the dog (sort of) sleeping inside Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/02/03/spots-diy-ultralight-dog-sleeping-bag-2/

01/02/2021: Useful Advice: How to survive three days in the wild: https://www.popsci.com/story/diy/how-to-survive-three-days-outdoors/

30/01/2021: A land animal as big as a blue whale:  https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-9160381/Fossils-98-million-year-old-dino-unearthed-Argentina-largest-land-animal-ever.html

28/01/2021: Handy Tool: https://www.popsci.com/story/shop/mini-circular-saws/

27/01/2021: Tooth Powder: So you have made your ultralight toothbrush spoon but are still lugging around all that heavy toothpaste or painfully drying it. You should know that tooth powder is a thing (and has been for a long time).

You can even buy your favourite brand (Colgate). Some studies even show that it is better for cleaning your teeth - as well as saving you a few grams. What's not to like? Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/01/26/tooth-powder/

26/01/2021: Instant Underpants. Just add water. Great idea: https://mcphee.com/products/instant-underpants

24/01/2021: A Bag Full of Tricks – alternative title: ‘It’s All in the Bag’ – ultralight stuff sacks, ziplocks or ditty bags for hiking. This is not just about weight saving but also about spoilage and organisation. However there are significant weight savings too.

For example the ubiquitous (Glad) Ziplock bag is really quite heavy. Try weighing a standard sandwich bag and you will see what I mean. If you just keep throwing one after another in your pack it will not be very long before you have added 100 grams in storage bags alone.

There are lighter brands if you must use them, and significant weight savings can be made by choosing smaller ones – usually not available in supermarkets.

(.5oz/yd2) Cuben fibre bags with micro cord locks are much lighter (in the same sizes) and reusable many, many times. I have found cuben tends to shred relatively quickly though compared with lightweight nylon so usually I make my own ‘ditty’ bags out of eg .7 oz/yd2 nylon. Instructions here: DIY Stuff Sacks. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/01/24/a-bag-full-of-tricks/

20/01/2021: This is a really great tip: Turn kitchen scissors into good Kevlar shears in seconds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rG6ZFA543BI Basically you roughen the edge (not the cutting edge) with a grinder so the scissors ‘catch’ the slippery Kevlar fibre. Now you can think about making your own carbon/kevlar canoe. I am: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/01/03/lightest-carbon-fibre-canadian-canoe/


19/01/2021: Relax This Morning With Dancing Birds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMFfHVGu8-0&feature=emb_title


18/01/2021: A Burial so Poignant: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/60474

15/01/2021: An Ultralight Hiker's Xmas: Many of you perhaps wonder what might be the 'dream' present for your ultralight hiker/hunter beloved. Maybe if I told you about my beloved's choice (for me) for the last two-three 'spoiling' occasions it might give you some inspiration?

For example for Xmas she bought me this beautiful little pack rifle which I have been wanting for some time. May also help me protect her from wild dogs. It is an under 500 gram .22 calibre single shot, but it should do the trick at putting the occasional bunny/duck etc in the pot. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/01/15/an-ultralight-hikers-xmas/

15/01/2021: Save This Brave Pigeon: https://abcnews.go.com/Weird/wireStory/australia-kill-pigeon-crossed-pacific-oregon-75242726

11/01/2021: A Golden Queen: Della: ‘This evening's harvest of Golden Queen peaches and apricots: How beautifully they glow in the early evening light! The wet spring and summer has given us bountiful fruit this year.The blood plums were ready over Christmas and New Year, and the bulk of that crop had either fallen or been eaten by the cockies before we knew it. We have 2 later varieties almost ready though, so we will get a second and a third chance. Meanwhile we have been munching on glorious plumcots and yellow "Simon Demon" plums. The Golden Queen peaches are my favourite yellow clingstone variety, firm and tasty for both eating and preserving. The little stunted tree has outdone itself this year, and I am wondering where I am going to find the time this week to preserve what we can't eat ...A job for another day, most certainly, but with shearing about to begin, I am not quite sure which day it might be’


8/01/2021: Super Ultralight Tent Pegs: Sometimes you just need a really, really ultralight peg. These guys will not have the same 'purchase' as a heavier, thicker diameter or longer peg bu they are super ultralight: only one or two grams each. They might suit for pegging down the edge of your ultralight titanium DIY Hobo Stove for example, or for pinning down your (small) dog sleeping bags. Maybe even for (intermediate pegs) eg on your ground sheet - anything which needs horizontal location without much 'lift' and which does not require too much strength. Probably many other uses. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/01/08/super-ultralight-tent-pegs/

6/01/2021: I have to have one (or two) of these a .50 calibre air rifle: https://www.airforceairguns.com/product-p/u2050.htm Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsSYngXbCc0 More: https://heyshooters.com/best-big-bore-air-rifle/ Wow – a 12 shot .35 calibre air rifle which will take down a deer: https://www.amazon.com/Gamo-Winchester-Bore-70-35-Rifle/dp/B079SYPL6H?tag=deeheyshooters-20

05/01/2021: Lightest Carbon Fibre Canadian Canoe: Here’s the lightest carbon fibre Canadian I could find the Hornbeck Blackjack at 11 lbs (5 kg). An interesting alternative to a packraft. You could make one yourself (say 5 kg) having first made a plywood version such as this Peasemarch 10  or Dengemarsh 10 17-18 kg version as a mould. An interesting couple of weekend’s work. You can buy the carbon fibre cloth cheaply enough from eg Aliexpress. Or: New DIY Pack Raft  – the ultralight version weighs 815 grams and costs $A$ $227.46 (Jan 2021) Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/01/03/lightest-carbon-fibre-canadian-canoe/


04/01/2021: Grand Teton National Park –all those moose: https://twitter.com/i/status/1343655037877317636 - what a hunting opportunity this must be: https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2021/01/10th-circuit-rules-nps-cant-regulate-hunting-grand-teton-inholdings

03/01/2021: Mighty Oaks: As they say 'from little acorns grow'. Yet there are those who debunk some of my modest efforts to reduce minor aspects of my pack weight (such as my recent 'Toothbrush Spoon' post -which saves at least 10 grams), or my DIY Ten Gram Pillow which probably saves you at least an ounce (or 30 grams).

I know even my own son opined that he was quite happy to carry the extra 10 grams even when I pointed out to him that to do so was the equivalent (in kilograms) of moving ten times that number (ie 100 kilograms) a distance of 1 metre. See A Lazy Man's Guide to Hiking and Hunting.

These tiny savings can add up, so that soon you have saved 100 grams or even a kilogram off your pack weight. the equivalents respectively of having moved 1 tonne or ten tonnes a distance of a metre - a considerable amount of work which I pointed out to him would involve his having had to carry quite a quantity of extra food to have performed. Itself something which also requires work, and so on, ad infinitum!

Even though I years ago thought I had pretty much completed all my major pack weight savings, nonetheless every year I seem to find the odd other wrinkle which still makes a difference. You will notice that many of these weight savings were quite cheap or DIY. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/01/03/mighty-oaks/

02/01/2021: 76 Gram Cookset: I am putting together an overnight/weekend kit which is as ultralight as I can get it. I will probably carry it in my 193 Gram Pack. It will definitely include this cook set. The pot is the Evernew EBT278R 55 gram 570 ml pot.You can find it on Amazon for example for US 22.90 (Jan 2021), possibly elsewhere cheaper.

Inside is my titanium roll-up hobo stove weighing 20 grams which you can make yourself in a few minutes using simple hand tools for a cost of US$4. I will need a couple of ultralight tent stakes (not these ones - well, the paint will burn off quickly!) and a wooden spoon (as shown) and I m good to go. I will add one of these 'Hot Lips' so I don't burn my lips. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/01/02/76-gram-cookset/

31/12/2020: The Perfect Thistle Weapon: Or brush cutter - also excellent for track clearing. As you may know we have been pretty much self-sufficient farmers most of our lives. If I can avoid it I would rather not use herbicides though this is not always possible. I doubt though there is a more effective way of eliminating blackberries from one's property for example.

Some years are 'the year of the thistle' and they just keep coming up. This year they were away in autumn and no matter how many times one tried to get around the wretched things there were still more of them.

Once you have them down to a manageable number it is easier on the back to carry around a hand tool than a backpack full of herbicide. For some years I have used an ultralight mattock I made - which I still recommend.

My spinal fusion operation makes the bent-over position needed to wield it pretty uncomfortable after a bit so I was looking for something I could use in a more upright position. I found an old fern-hook in the shed which I figured I could make a lighter handle for out of some 1 1/4" aluminium tubing.

This worked so well I went looking to see whether I could find anything better - well, to tell the truth I was looking for another one so Della could help out on this job! I found these folk Tramontina who make a range of brush cutter (sickle) heads. I bought their heavy duty (710 gram) one from eBay and attached an aluminium shaft to it. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/12/30/the-perfect-thistle-weapon/

30/12/2020: DIY 10 Gram Pillow: You can cut down the Graham Flexair pillow (which you can buy lots of places for about $2 using your home vacuum bag sealer to make a 10 gram hiking pillow (as shown). My sealer will only handle a seal of a little over 11″ so my pillow (sealed area) is approx 11″ x 7″ which I personally find quite comfortable enough for a neck pillow –  which also fits inside the hood of my sleeping bag incidentally.

Place the pillow in the sealer, close the lid, press the ‘Bag seal’ button. You have to wait for the pump timer to progress to the seal timer mode. It is automatic. When sealing here is a slightly different sound which stops when the process is done. carefully remove the sealed pillow. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/12/30/diy-10-gram-pillow/

28/12/2020: Sad really:


26/12/2020: Xmas is different here in the bush: The Fire at Ross’s Farm

The squatter saw his pastures wide
Decrease, as one by one
The farmers moving to the west
Selected on his run;
Selectors took the water up
And all the black soil round;
The best grass-land the squatter had
Was spoilt by Ross’s Ground.

Now many schemes to shift old Ross
Had racked the squatter’s brains,
But Sandy had the stubborn blood
Of Scotland in his veins;
He held the land and fenced it in,
He cleared and ploughed the soil,
And year by year a richer crop
Repaid him for his toil.

Between the homes for many years
The devil left his tracks:
The squatter pounded Ross’s stock,
And Sandy pounded Black’s.
A well upon the lower run
Was filled with earth and logs,
And Black laid baits about the farm
To poison Ross’s dogs.

It was, indeed, a deadly feud
Of class and creed and race;
But, yet, there was a Romeo
And a Juliet in the case;
And more than once across the flats,
Beneath the Southern Cross,
Young Robert Black was seen to ride
With pretty Jenny Ross.

One Christmas time, when months of drought
Had parched the western creeks,
The bush-fires started in the north
And travelled south for weeks.
At night along the river-side
The scene was grand and strange —
The hill-fires looked like lighted streets
Of cities in the range.

The cattle-tracks between the trees
Were like long dusky aisles,
And on a sudden breeze the fire
Would sweep along for miles;
Like sounds of distant musketry
It crackled through the brakes,
And o’er the flat of silver grass
It hissed like angry snakes.

It leapt across the flowing streams
And raced o’er pastures broad;
It climbed the trees and lit the boughs
And through the scrubs it roared.
The bees fell stifled in the smoke
Or perished in their hives,
And with the stock the kangaroos
Went flying for their lives.

The sun had set on Christmas Eve,
When, through the scrub-lands wide,
Young Robert Black came riding home
As only natives ride.
He galloped to the homestead door
And gave the first alarm:
`The fire is past the granite spur,
`And close to Ross’s farm.’

`Now, father, send the men at once,
They won’t be wanted here;
Poor Ross’s wheat is all he has
To pull him through the year.’
`Then let it burn,’ the squatter said;
`I’d like to see it done —
I’d bless the fire if it would clear
Selectors from the run.

`Go if you will,’ the squatter said,
`You shall not take the men —
Go out and join your precious friends,
And don’t come here again.’
`I won’t come back,’ young Robert cried,
And, reckless in his ire,
He sharply turned his horse’s head
And galloped towards the fire.

And there, for three long weary hours,
Half-blind with smoke and heat,
Old Ross and Robert fought the flames
That neared the ripened wheat.
The farmer’s hand was nerved by fears
Of danger and of loss;
And Robert fought the stubborn foe
For the love of Jenny Ross.

But serpent-like the curves and lines
Slipped past them, and between,
Until they reached the bound’ry where
The old coach-road had been.
`The track is now our only hope,
There we must stand,’ cried Ross,
`For nought on earth can stop the fire
If once it gets across.’

Then came a cruel gust of wind,
And, with a fiendish rush,
The flames leapt o’er the narrow path
And lit the fence of brush.
`The crop must burn!’ the farmer cried,
`We cannot save it now,’
And down upon the blackened ground
He dashed the ragged bough.

But wildly, in a rush of hope,
His heart began to beat,
For o’er the crackling fire he heard
The sound of horses’ feet.
`Here’s help at last,’ young Robert cried,
And even as he spoke
The squatter with a dozen men
Came racing through the smoke.

Down on the ground the stockmen jumped
And bared each brawny arm,
They tore green branches from the trees
And fought for Ross’s farm;
And when before the gallant band
The beaten flames gave way,
Two grimy hands in friendship joined —
And it was Christmas Day.

                                               — Henry Lawson (1895)


26/12/2020: A Very Big Bang 1600 Light Years Long: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/12/24/a-blazar-in-the-early-universe/


26/12/2020: More Pack Mods: You should not be afraid to ‘have a go’. No manufacturer ever made the perfect pack (for you) but there is some chance you can do so yourself – at least it is worth a try. I have hauled this old pack around now for a number of years since Joe Valesko (at Zpacks) first made it for me over a decade ago. Back then he called it his ‘Blast’ pack, and it certainly has been for me.

Back then it was half cuben fibre but that wore through fairly quickly. I should not have been surprised really as it replaced an identical totally cuben fibre one I trashed pretty darned quickly which he replaced free of charge! The parts of the pack Joe made in 4.8 oz Dyneema have worn pretty well and we have replaced other bits with pretty much the same material. Della replaced the side and back pockets long ago which had been in a kind of mesh material quite unsuitable for blackberries and the like.

Again some time back I deleted the pad holder pockets and the ‘waist’ belt as you perhaps saw in this post. This made a substantial improvement but I still had the suspension wrong, and the shoulder straps had always been too narrow I felt.

Anyway it is Xmas and no-one is here (as usual). We always have Xmas on a different day as the kids have commitments elsewhere (work, other parents in law, etc), so I decided I would make new straps for it. I also changed their position again and the position of the waist belt. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/12/25/more-pack-mods/


25/12/2020: Camp and Trail By Stewart Edward White (1907). What a gem this Project Gutenberg ebook is. Though you may be ‘ultralight’ in your hiking/hunting methodology now there is much you owe to strategies outlined here so long ago, or which you may have forgotten, and should re-learn.  Anyway it will make an excellent Xmas holiday read if you download it to your phone for free. The contents and list of illustrations may give some hint of the joys within. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/12/25/camp-and-trail/



23/12/2020: Unknown Bird Update: Nature Finds a Way. The Horsfield Bronze Cuckoo (which is what it turned out to be – first mentioned in this post) in our garden has at last attracted a mate with the calling which we were unable to identify for some weeks (al la Edward Thomas’ poem) – and here they both are:


11/12/2020: Toothbrush Spoon: The patent for this idea was filed in 1934 so it is not my idea, but it is my take on it – and at 3.3 grams it works and saves you weight on your toothbrush. Just cut the toothbrush down then add a couple of small o-rings and voila! BTW: The handle I cut off weighed 13.6 grams! Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/12/10/the-toothbrush-spoon/


07/12/2020: The Deer Hunter’s Phone: Imagine a phone that allows you to communicate with someone else several kilometres away without being connected to the phone network. Unihertz’s Atom XL is a very rugged fully waterproof dual Sim mobile phone which also takes a micro SD card with a 48 mp camera which also contains a DMR UHF walky-talky at a very handy package size of 134.5 x 65 x17.5mm  (5.29″ x 2.55″ x .69″) and 243 grams. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/12/07/the-deer-hunters-phone/

06/12/2020: Mastering the Hiking Energy Budget: I guess ‘everyone’ understands about calories per gram in choosing their hiking food requirements – if you want to save weight, and have realised that does not mean eating nothing but peanut butter – 6 calories per gram or 7 for real butter, no matter how weight-desirable that might be (I have many food tips here) – but there are many other similar considerations.

For example the post FuelFollies (and others) explains how you can save weight by carrying less fuel, alternative fuel or lighter stoves of various sorts. This line of reasoning culminates in a 20 gram titanium roll up wood burning stove which you can make for yourself for less than $4 in the post Mastery of Fire – amongst other things. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/12/06/mastering-the-hiking-energy-budget/

05/12/2020: What a neat idea – The Nomad Legless Awning: https://newatlas.com/outdoors/fast-nomad-car-camping-awning/

30/11/2020: One Cicada Doesn’t make a Summer: I was just doing some work clearing our new walking path in the bush up the creek behind our house yesterday (and again today) when this big guy suddenly turned up on my arm. I had been lopping some small branches with the machete and he must have been on one. Gave me quite a start I can tell you! He (or she) must be around3″ (75mm) long – and what a delightful green colour! Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/11/30/one-cicada-doesnt-make-a-summer/

30/11/2020: We are going back to the moon – and soon: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/11/27/artemis-i-stacks-up/

29/11/2020: Another unexplained High Country death. What is happening up there? https://www.heraldsun.com.au/truecrimeaustralia/police-courts/sam-wilsons-high-country-murder-still-an-unsolved-mystery/news-story/7578f25f6eba05d03c7401dcd41f998c

29/11/2020: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence and the Wow Signal: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/11/26/an-approximation-to-determine-the-source-of-the-wow-signal/ Extra reading Carl Sagan’s ‘Contact’ and the movie of the same name based on it.

19/11/2020: Nano Chair #2: Another version of an ultralight chair. I think this is the one I will go with – once I have refined it a little further. As you can see it weighs only two ounces (56 grams). It is slightly more comfy than my trusty Cyclone Chair i have used for many years but may not be quite so durable. I will be able to make t so. This is definitely my first prototype – made last night. It gets me about 6″ (15 cm off the ground and has reasonable and comfortable back support.

I made this entirely out of 1.25 oz/yd2 silnylon. I started with a piece of 25″ x 37″ which I hemmed all around – like so. The other strips (4 of)  are 7″ wide also hemmed all round. In future versions I will refine the pieces more. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/11/18/nano-chair-2/

19/11/2020: The Nano Chair: I first made a prototype of this chair half way through 2017, but it has waited on some fancy fasteners to come to fruition. This is #1 (of two) of my Nano Chair, a hiking chair which weighs less than 2 ounces approx 50 grams. No-one needs be without a comfy seat in the wilderness ever again. I have made it in three colours so you can remember how it goes together: Red = Rear. This is the bit nearest your bum which wraps around the inflatable mat; Black = Back, the two bits which hold the back (the rolled up mat together; and Yellow = Y, the piece which keeps the back of the chair from falling over. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/11/18/the-nano-chair/


16/11/2020: Ultralight DIY Bushcraft Chair: I have posted about this chair before but I have to admit I had never made one myself. Well now I have – and I’m sold. I made this chair out of a scrap of (approx) 2 oz/yd2 ripstop nylon from Spotlight I had left over from another project. It took less than half an hour to sew and about two minutes to construct with four sticks. Yes they are tomato stakes, not the best material as the edges tend to cut into the cord.

Round poles would be better. Cutting straight green hardwood saplings would be the surest way of getting a strong chair but if you don’t want to do that you can collect and carefully test dry dead branches found on the forest floor. The little 41 gram Sierra saw is all you need to cut them to size. The two side poles are OK at 6-7′ but the rear one would be better a bit longer. (All these are 6′ tomato stakes). I have used a piece of 1″ dowel at the front of the seat. It is about 4′ long.

The chair will be more comfortable if this is also lashed to the two side poles (about 2″ higher than you see it here). That will allow you to sink into the chair more. It will also make it a bit harder to get in and out – a factor if you are my age. If the three poles (particularity the rear one) are a bit longer you will be able to lie back and relax a little more.

I suspect you could use a piece of stout cord instead of the front crossbar. This would make the chair more hammock-like and perhaps more comfortable. You could put your inflated mat in it too if you wanted ultimate luxury. It is quite comfortable enough as it is really. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/11/15/ultralight-diy-bushcraft-chair/

14/11/2020: DIY Tripod Stool Hack: You can dismantle a cheap $20) tripod stool which you can buy just about anywhere to scavenge the top cover (which in this case weighs less than 100 grams) to make an ultralight hiking stool – with the aid of your new Pocket Serra saw I wrote about here: Ultralight Tent Poles If you are handy with a sewing machine you can make your own cover which will weigh less than 2 ounces (say 50 grams). This is a great way to get yourself from ultralight hiking furniture. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/11/14/diy-tripod-stool-hack/


13/11/2020: Ultralight Tent Poles: Tent poles can’t get any lighter than if you don’t carry any – which is what I do/don’t. This is particularly weight-saving if you are young and don’t need to carry hiking poles, something which I simply did not need until I was nearly 65! Perhaps when I finally get my new knees I will no longer need them either!

Instead of carrying poles I simply cut what I need from fallen timber on the forest floor. In Australia this is very easy as our trees are self-pruning but mostly hardwood so that there are plenty of strong sticks/poles lying around. These also make very fine fuel also for wood burning stoves such as my new tent 300 gram stove and my 20 gram roll up titanium stove.

I made my own one ounce (28 gram) for this purpose. See How to Carry a Saw

If you don’t have the tools/confidence to do this yourself, Coghlans have come to your aid with this 41 gram folding ‘Sierra Saw‘ which has a 4″ (10 cm) blade. It is a lock blade folder which like all pruning saws cuts on the pull stroke so you should not break the blade.

I picked up a couple from Aussie Disposals in Traralgon (Vic) this morning for A$22.99 each (Nov 2020). Like all their products it is well made and good value. There is a lighter pocket pruning saww (34 grams) which i wrote about here, but it is very hard to source one. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/11/13/ultralight-tent-poles/

07/11/2020: DIY Ultralight Chimney Rings: This is an update to my posts about a DIY Tent Stove and Ultralight Chimney. When you roll up the (eg .1 mm) stainless steel of titanium foil to make a chimney (which will otherwise fit in your billy - when it is rolled the other way) you need rings to hold the chimney shape.

I made my first set out of strips of foil which I joined with a pop rivet. This works, and they can be trimmed so that they don't cut your fingers (so much), but i suggested at the time this alternative: making them out of stainless steel (or titanium) wire joined with swages/ferrules/crimps.

You can source double-barrel (fishing) crimps. The ones I found at Amazon were single barrel, and in the photo I have only crimped once in the middle, though two crimps would be more secure. This method has certainly reduced the weight of the rings, made them so they will not cut your fingers and easier to fit in your billy.

This method has also brought the weight of the bands down from around 2 grams each to (as you can see) .59 grams). This is for a 40 mm diameter ring. I will be making my rings/chimney 35 mm (so that rolled up it will fit in my 5" high billy) so they will be slightly lighter than that - probably around .54 grams each. I need around 20 of then - so around 11 grams for the rings. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/11/07/diy-ultralight-chimney-rings/

05/11/2020: Mastery of Fire: For a million years (or more) this has been a defining ‘element’ of human life, indeed so  much so that certain ancients considered it as one of four primordials: earth, water, air, fire. Indeed this classification has a resonance to it still.

Early man learned that fire not only provided essential warmth (and protection from predators) it reduced food energy dependence and improved health, but that it added (energy and flavour) value to that food as well. Of course this is still the case.

For the ultralight hiker the problem is how to get fire’s many advantages at the lightest possible weight – hence this post. The 20 gram titanium roll-up stove can be used as a windscreen with an alcohol burner or as a twig stove – if you want to save fuel or have run out of fuel. This is so much better than a gas stove which might easily run out of fuel or block up and be useless See Fuel Follies. The empty gas canister alone weighs probably seven times this!

The 32 grams for this set up (the cosy weighs 12 grams) is so much lighter than any gas set-up with nothing to go wrong. I just use a couple of spare tent pegs – 5.5 grams each – (for the pot stand) I carry anyway in case I need them for tent anchor side tie-outs on particularly windy nights. It also produces a substantial warmth at the door of your tent on a cold morning when you have your first cuppa of the day. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/11/05/mastery-of-fire/

01/11/2020: 9 Days Trekking the EBC: (A Year Ago Today) Della: ‘And so we are back! 9 days trekking along the Everest Base Camp trail, Lukla to Dingboche. Our final climb above Dingboche was as high aa Everest Base Camp, but I never wanted to experience the cold and privation of the last 2 days of the trail, so we were happy to call Dingboche our goal. And it was beyond amazing: I never expected it to be the journey of a lifetime, but it was… The soaring beauty? The time, whilst walking, to contemplate my life…? I only know that I felt more energy and happiness than one small, imperfect heart can hold, and each day that heart swelled further with gratitude for all the people whose loving support put me there: my husband and lifelong guide, my family support-crew back home who kept our home base running amidst their already busy lives, my friends who cheer me from these Facebook pages daily, and my outstanding cardiologist who saved me just moments from death exactly a year ago and then solved (though not quite “cured”) my heart problem. So many people – giving so much: No wonder my heart soared. The cynic that usually inhabits my soul might suggest that all this emotion was a side-effect of the steroids that I was prescribed to help prevent altitude sickness.. Who knows?! Nepal was certainly a fitting place for such a spiritual experience, whatever the trigger, and my gratitude will be a golden nugget that I treasure for the rest of my life. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/10/30/9-days-trekking-the-ebc/

01/11/2020: Ghost Shrimp and Other Small Fry: This post is an accompaniment to my recent post Small Game. It is not so hard to supplement your hiking rations with some tasty protein after all.  A couple of hundred grams of protein will meet your daily requirements, whilst 500+ grams will be nearly enough for your total daily food needs. This is just not that hard to get. A good place to look is in the water

Of course if you are traveling along the seashore there will be shellfish aplenty on every rocky promontory, and at least in Southern Australia the ubiquitous pipi to be found in the  sand between the low and high tide points. You can feel for them with your bare feet by wriggling your toes into the sand. Where they are plentiful half an hour’s work will get you a bucket full!

There are pretty much no shellfish anywhere which are actually poisonous (if fresh) though few are as delicious as pipis (which only need to be lightly steamed open), so shellfish represent a ready food source – testified to by the huge ‘middens’ of such  scattered all along our coasts left by earlier denizens. Often these are 5-10 metres high! Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/11/01/ghost-shrimp-and-other-small-fry/

30/10/2020: Must not let Della see this or I will have to be out hunting every day: Antlers in Jackson Wyoming.

21/10/2020: Even plants have rudimentary intelligence and memory: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/how-venus-flytraps-store-short-term-memories-prey/amp?__twitter_impression=true

20/10/2020: Tent Stove Progress: I took a break from tree planting this morning to have a play with this prototype stove (and to try out my chimney). I have made this one out of two (6" dia 2' high - 15 x 5 cm) stainless steel bird feeding bowls from the local $2 store. They weighed 78 grams each.

I have joined them together with the simple expedient of drilling three holes around the rims and pushing a piece of wire through the holes and into the ground. Tent pegs would work better and would secure the stove very safely in the vestibule of the tent. The collar thing I am using for a fuel guide tube is just a $2 plumbing fitting from Bunnings. I will come up with something better/lighter.

The chimney is just sitting in the hole I drilled with the Lenox hole saw at the moment. The twigs you see in it are 1/2" to 3/4" (12-19 mm). These are easily broken over your knee and can be split (carefully by pushing a fixed blade knife through them to get at the dry heartwood. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/10/20/tent-stove-progress/

18/10/2020: My First Ultralight Chimney: I am slowly working my way through the many issues involved in constructing ultralight wood burning stoves for tent heating, cooking and electricity generation. This will take some time. The most important first step however involved whether I could construct an ultralight roll-up chimney without having to be able to weld such lighteweight metal foil materials. This is my fist attempt and though it was a success I am not completely unwounded (neither is Della) and we have learned much. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/10/18/my-first-ultralight-chimney/

11/10/2020: New Tent Pegs: I tend to buy a lot of tent pegs because I am always making new tents/tarps and I like to have them all complete against need. I have found Aliexpress to be a good source (if you can wait for delivery). The 'Tito' brand there is quite satisfactory, for example.

I favour a Shepherd's hook shape for most of my tent pegs in titanium (for lightness) and around 6" long for most uses. The plain ones are usually the cheapest/lightest but a bit of colour on them does help to prevent their loss. Of curse you can always dip the heads in some paint and wait for them to dry.

It is a good idea to always put pegs in the ground and take them out in the same order (placing them immediately in a pocket/bag) and to always count them as you do. Always go over the last night's camp-site with a fine toothed comb before you quit it as there is often some small item you missed/forgot - such as a tent peg.

There is a right (and many wrong) way/s to 'plant' tent stakes. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/10/11/new-tent-pegs/

11/10/2020: Today's garden highlights: Leeks are now into the harvest phase and tonight's asparagus pick was ample. We did justice to both in tonight's tea of an omelette with leek, garlic, asparagus, ham and cheese. The lilac is a special triumph for me. I planted it about 7? years ago and have been disappointed by it's refusal to flower. Last spring I decided that it must need more light, and so persuaded Steve to do a bit of chain-sawing in the canopy behind it. No flowers that spring,  but autumn saw a few experimental first flowers which blew me away as it was totally unseasonal. Obviously it was a trial run, because...voila!!!! The only downside? Lilacs have the most delicious scent, but somewhere between this shrub's planting and flowering I have lost most of my sense of smell (not Covid-related)  - so that little pleasure is one that I will never enjoy. Not complaining though, as their visual  beauty is quite enough!

02/10/2020: Interesting Review of the new play, ‘Wonnangatta’ about the 1916 murders there: https://theconversation.com/wonnangatta-review-australian-theatre-writing-at-its-provocative-and-powerful-best-147184

01/10/2020: Khayyam’s Table: Omar Khayyam of  Naishapur (I prefer the old spelling) was a tent -maker, as I have observed before. In the past the truly great seminal thinkers were all tradesmen of one sort or another, that is they did not expect their thinking to pay their wages, but earned their living with their hands – as you ought. It would be better by far if we had remained with this system instead of being burdened with a horde of useless quarrelsome university parasites – of enormously lesser intellectual worth too.

Socrates was a stonemason (sculptor, if you like). Jesus a carpenter – and Nasrudin – well there was never someone else quite like Nasrudin. ‘The Exploits of the Incomparable Nasrudin’ by Idries Shah is the best book you have never read. You can read it for free here I promise you it will have you rolling in the aisles laughing! And if you have never read the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam as you should, I have reprinted it all here: Oh Come With Old Khayyam I think it was the most important book I read as a teenager. I am so grateful that an ancient lady next door (Mrs Sewell) gifted me her copy of it – which I still treasure.

I wonder whether Khayyam had a table he worked on or whether he laid out his tents on the ground as I have done until now, but my knees do no want me to continue to do so, so I have made myself a large folding table for the purpose. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/10/01/khayyams-table/

29/09/2020: High Flying: Into Vic's high country with The Grey Flyer.  At last our draconian Covid restrictions have been eased a bit and we are able to get away hunting/hiking for a few days by ourselves. It is almost too late for this year's deer hunting season though, as soon it will be too hot. Next week looks good to start canoeing (though truth to be told, I have already been out)!

I had been yearning to get away all winter. I would like to have had better weather. It rained a lot - and even snowed. Also, unfortunately it was close to a full moon which always makes hunting less productive - or at least harder, as you have to go higher, harder for me these days with these old knees which had become sore again because of all the ploughing through mud the last month with the lambing. Because of it I have not been able to walk on my toes (as I recommended) which really helps, but I will be back to it now as the ground dries up a bit.

After a 4 1/2 hour's drive and a three hour walk, we are set up for the night. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/09/29/high-flying/

29/09/2020: FYI: I am alive. I have been walking 80 km through the trackless Gippsland bush for a few days with Honey. More info soon.

22/09/2020: The Grey Flyer: I have just finished making and erecting my new tent (‘the Grey Flyer0 – it is a very windy day!) in the garden, as you can see ahead of a trip I am planning soon. I just couldn’t resist finishing it so that I could take advantage of the 150 grams of savings compared with my Deerhunter’s Tent #2 which this is a slightly ‘shrunk’ version of (using 5′ wide material at 1.1 oz’yd2 instead of 5′ 6″ material at 1.25 oz/yd2).

I have used the ultralight groundsheet I made for the $30 Aricxi Tent but it is a little small for this tent. Its dimensions are 7′ x 4′ x 2’6″ (210 x 120 x 75 cm). I will make a larger one to fit this tent. It is going to be big enough for Della, the two dogs and myself, and still large enough to swing 1-2 hammocks underneath as well.

As you can see it weighs 476 grams including ten shepherd’s hook tent pegs (416 without). In the .93 oz/yd2 which i made the Siligloo out of it will weigh349 grams -= that’s including the groundsheet by the way, plus 62 grams for the ten pegs = 411 grams! Read more: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/09/22/the-grey-flyer/

22/09/2020: Moke: We had one in the mid 70’s, bought second-hand for $1300 (they cost about $2200 new in c1975). I think they will be a bit over-priced at $35,000 though: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/motoring/motoring-news/aussie-favourite-mini-moke-makes-surprise-return/news-story/a8d8c2e5708a3c2c97ccde63b520a82a

22/09/2020: Another Spring: (Della:)"I enjoy the spring more than the autumn now. One does, I think, as one gets older" - (Virginia Woolf). Spring in my garden today: Even 10 minutes gazing at the plants or pulling some weeds lifts my spirits. The brooding skies this afternoon created the right light and the perfect backdrop for the delicately coloured spring blossoms, and after very mixed results from the winter veggie patch this year (slugs, rabbits and early-bolting cauliflowers), I was also delighted to see the sugar-snap peas starting to produce pods and the garlic looking solid enough to rival the leeks...

..."The lark's on the wing;/ The snail's on the thorn;/God's in his heaven-/All's right with the world!" (Robert Browning, "Pippa's Song").






21/09/2020: Yet Another Use for Toilet Trowels: I have recommended that you always carry a metal trowel particularly as an aid to procuring survival water. A hatchet or machete is also vital for this if you ever travel in dry country – as who does not? Such a trowel is also a powerful tent anchor in sand or snow or other loose material.

If you have bought ultralight shoes such as my new Topos which have a tendency to fold inwards as you put them on – at least when new(ish) and if your old fingers are kind of arthritic as mine are and you have trouble fishing the bits out, then you will already know a shoe-horn presents itself as one of mankind’s greatest inventions – but who wants to carry one just for that purpose when a trowel will serve just as well – and you already have one? Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/09/20/yet-another-use-for-toilet-trowels/

21/09/2020: Alternative Fire Lighters: You will already know that I always carry a couple of Mini Bics for fire lighting. They are hard, if not impossible to beat at approximately 10 grams each. I recently added a 1.5 gram rubber Thimblette to prevent my burning my thumb especially when you need to hold the flame on for a protracted burn.

Much as I love them they do have drawbacks. They could explode for example though this is very unlikely and would probably require a welding splash or the like to cause it. They can fail (but anything can – one reason why I always carry more than one. You can probably think of others) and they are difficult to light after they become very wet eg by being submerged in a river, so that if you need to get a fire going quickly eg after you have just fallen through ice (or for some other reason you want an alternative lighter) I thought I would look into that ‘problem’. This is not an extensive survey, but just a few ideas. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/09/20/alternative-fire-lighters/

21/09/2020: Sketchers: Yet another lightweight shoe. This one the Sketcher Go walk claims to be only 206 grams in Mens US Size 9! Only A$99 (September 2020) so maybe worth giving them a try even just as ‘river crossing’ or camp shoes. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/09/20/sketchers/


20/09/2020: Simple Ultralight Groundsheet: I just made this simple groundsheet for my Aricxi tent (and for a new tent I am working on ahead of a trip I am planning next week). It is made from some 1.1oz fabric I sourced from China which I am trialing, so I will let you know how it goes.

The fabric has silicone on one side and polyester on the other. I really like the handle of it (and the dull polyester surface. It is (finished size) exactly 7′ by 4′ at one end and 2’6″ at the other (210 x 120 x 75cm) with just a reinforcing patch and tie-out at each corner (which will tension to one of the existing tent pegs).

You really don’t need sides on a groundsheet. If water is running across the ground you can lay some sticks under the uphill side to prevent its running onto the sheet. In the 1.107 per square yard (37 grams/m2) fabric it weighs 95 grams finished. It cost me less than A$10 (September 2020. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/09/20/simple-ultralight-groundsheet/

19/09/2020: Little things that prevent you getting work done in Australia: https://althouse.blogspot.com/2020/09/trying-to-get-some-work-done.html or https://twitter.com/i/status/1306135212472979457


18/09/2020: Can You Keep a Secret: I know I can so if this had been one you would not be reading this! When we were at the coast the other day I found a mysterious small oblong block of what we both took to be marble at the time but it was surprisingly heavy. We popped it into the superlight daypack to have as a keepsake as you do – even though it is no doubt like practically everything else probably illegal to do so. Read more: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/09/17/can-you-keep-a-secret/



18/09/2020: Wonnangatta Murders #16: ‘A new theory (August) has emerged in the case of missing campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay…with speculation the pair were attacked inside their tent now mounting’. At this glacial rate they will start looking for the bodies along the Zeka Track where I suggested they look at the outset in early 2021! https://www.heraldsun.com.au/truecrimeaustralia/police-courts/police-suspect-missing-high-country-campers-attacked-in-tent/news-story/e6ba88d14ab1dd1134ae135dd917afcb

But detectives have now (September) turned to ‘overseas sources’, so at least they have some lead/evidence which might solve this most puzzling case: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/truecrimeaustralia/police-courts/overseas-experts-called-in-to-help-solve-missing-campers-mystery/news-story/8f874aec4bacbf04dc808270f598363d

13/09/2020: Carpe Diem. ‘Seize the Day’. There are only a certain number of them. No-one knows how many or ever will. ‘Some days are diamonds‘ as the song says – and in my (fortunate) experience, most are. Anyway one where you keep on breathing in and out has to be a good one.

It was a beautiful spring day, 23C at Licola, wind at 9 kph NNW and river height of 1.87, absolutely perfect conditions for canoeing my beloved Macalister River again.

Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/09/13/carpe-diem/


09/11/2020: Ultralight Tyvek Wallet: Given my predilection for this wonderful material it will probably not surprise you that I have carried a Tyvek wallet for many years. I have probably worn out half a dozen over the years. I guess they usually last me 2-3 years before they look  so shabby I feel I must replace them – as I have done today, as my new ones have  arrived, at last. the post is so slow at the moment.

The ones I am using work purchased from Dynomighty and cost me US$ 16.95 each plus some delivery, so perhaps A$25 each in my hands – something like that. I think this is reasonable value. You may find them elsewhere more conveniently.

The wallets weigh between 13-14 grams empty and are wonderfully thin and well-sized. I find most wallets far too big for jeans pockets pretty much in every direction. Already i have too many cards in this one and need to cull them again. Some can go onto my phone using an App such as Stocard – which I use. I notice there are no notes at all for the two billfold sections, a tribute to the virus! Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/09/09/ultralight-tyvek-wallet/

07/09/2020: Fathers’ Day at Seal Cove: Due to the Covid lock down none of our children could visit us but Della and I could still go for a drive together. Such freedom. That’s what we all fought for!

We headed down to a secret place along the Gippsland coast where we thought we might be able to scramble down the cliffs to a private cove. I won’t say whether it is legal or not to go there. There are many things (simple pleasures) I will never live long enough to enjoy legally – likewise my tiny dogs who though they are good Australians who pay all their taxes on their dog food (and will never take a dollar of tax in return) are yet forbidden from so many parts of our beautiful country – though they are devoted ‘leave no trace’ believers!

Anyway we are always off-track walkers and really only want to go where we will find no other people anyway so what odds? It turned out we could (even in my seventies – women as is well known, do not age) though it is pretty steep and thick in places. It turned out to be a really beautiful little cove about a kilometre long. Some great fishing to be had off the rocks I would say, and with hog deer walking right down onto the beach of a night! We saw many of their tracks. A paradise all our own! Read on: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/09/06/fathers-day-at-seal-cove/

05/09/2020: Something I didn’t know - Pine Cone Preserves - Soft young cones make a sweet jam believed to have health benefits in Russia and Georgia: https://www.atlasobscura.com/foods/pine-cone-preserves


19/08/2020: The Secret of Fire: Fire lighting is a profound 'secret' which if you do not master, you might come to a time when you do not survive at all because of your ignorance. Take the time and patience to learn to be its master: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/08/19/the-secret-of-fire/



19/08/2020: DIY Unbreakable Shoe Laces: Make your own unbreakable shoe laces. That way you don’t need to carry a spare. You can buy Aglets (ie ends) cheaply enough A$3.88 per 100 plus 50 ft 2.3 mm black Kevlar line A$24.92 (pictured) to make your own unbreakable shoe laces. You just need to measure the cord accurately, to cut the Kevlar with a hot iron to seal it, crimp the aglets on – and away you go! https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/08/19/diy-unbreakable-shoe-laces/


15/08/2020: Fuel Follies: Of course you know what this is; it’s a very silly empty fuel container which weighs 5.1 oz or 147 grams. Lots of unwise hikers lug these stupid things around!

Let’s look at it another way. A lightweight bottle to carry alcohol (meths) in might weigh 10-20 grams. My lightest burner weighs 7 grams. (but I usually use one of Tinny’s Gnomes) Perhaps  I need a windscreen? That might add 7 grams too – but you will use twice as much fuel whatever you use if you don’t have a windscreen, so let’s ignore it for the sake of the exercise:

17 grams from 147 leaves 130 grams of fuel. A ml of alcohol weighs 0.7893 grams  so this 130 grams represents 164 mls I use about 7 mls to boil a cup of water, (4-5 with a cosy -but that would add weight too) so that 164 mls represents 23 cups of coffee. A meal represents 2-3 cups of coffee.

I take about 500 mls of alcohol for all my cooking for a ten day  trip, so this 164 mls is more enough for a normal long weekend’s cooking. If you consider the gas stove that I am not carrying (another 85 grams of fuel or 107 mls) you can see that switching to alcohol would equate to this one empty container representing cooked meals for about five days! If you consider the 227 grams (287 mls) of gas you would have had enough fuel (with alcohol (164 + 107 + 287 = 558) for a ten day trip!

Now do you see why I do not use a gas stove. There is also this to consider: it has happened to me (car camping): What if the jet on the gas stove should block up? Unless you are carrying a spare jet 9and a small spanner for replacing it (are you?) the you will be doing no cooking at all!

There is just no similar problem with an alcohol stove. And have you thought about how explosive a gas canister is? You could easily blow up a truck with one. Just an exploding Bic lighter will pretty much blow your hand off! I know I think of replacing mine with flint and spirit lighters (such as the peanut).

Gas just makes no sense – and when you consider its environmental impact: the fact that it is normally extracted from undersea wells miles offshore, fracking, transport, the risks of environmental disaster etc it surprises me that all the ‘leave no trace’ brigade (of which I am not one) pretty much all use it!

Of course I am getting lazier and lazier (as well as older and older) so I have decided just to carry this 20 gram stove and no fuel at all (most trips).

See Also:

Nuts to Leave No Trace

DIY 20 Gram Roll Up Hobo Stove

PS: You can make your own alcohol stove too. I have several posts about this. Try a search in the bottom left hand corner for ‘stove’

14/08/2020: Asparagus Dreaming: Della: Today’s job was the asparagus bed: This is a perennial crop, and having planted the crowns about 30 years ago, we have little to do each year other than cut off the dead fronds each winter.

Gardening guides say that you can do this once the fronds turn yellow in autumn, but that is hard work, I found, as each thick frond has to be cut by hand with secateurs. So over the years I have put the job off later and later until I discovered that August is the perfect time. By then the stems are dead enough to come away with the gentlest tug, and so the work is minimised.

So here are today’s before and after pics, along with the first taste of asparagus for the season. Another reward in leaving the bed looking untidy all through the cooler months is the early shoots that are waiting to surprise me beneath the bleak canopy. Tonight’s dinner accompaniment!

Most impressive. I wish I could do a ‘show and tell’ for my day’s work on the fence, but at the end it still just looks like a fence even though I am exhausted! An asparagus bed (like a good fence) will pretty much last a lifetime. I will not have to build either again anyway.

13/08/2020: The Best Hiking/Hunting Shoe Ever: I received my new Topo Hydraventure 2 shoes from Injinji about a month ago. The new model is even better than the old one.

Look at that tread.

310 grams in US size 9.5: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/08/13/the-best-hiking-hunting-shoe-ever/

12/08/2020: Prometheus has a lot to answer for– but Boy, have we ever been sitiing around the campfire for a long while: https://www.livescience.com/when-did-humans-discover-fire.html

11/08/2020: Aricxi $30 Tent Review: It took quite a while to get here what with Covid 19, but it came a couple of days ago. I am as pleased with it as I thought I would be when I mentioned it in this post back in April. The tent is very well made and well thought out. For most people it will be big enough for two people and will certainly be a palace for one. It really does only weigh 320 grams including the guys!

I will make a few improvements to mine. they are all things you could do with a little bit of competent hand sewing which will make the tent even better. I use the word ‘tent’. this has been the normal word for a folding ‘roof’ you sleep under for  thousands of years. I do not understand the absurd distinction between tent/tarp some wish to draw insisting that if it does not have a floor or bug protection it is somehow not a ‘tent’. You can always simply add these features, or dispense with them… https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/08/11/aricxi-30-tent-review/


06/08/2020: DIY 33 Gram Roll Up SS Hobo Stove: I am over carrying heavy stoves – and fuel. This one will do me. I will produce a version in titanium which will weigh about half what this one does in stainless steel, so under 20 grams! And no fuel to carry. Good enough? https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/08/06/diy-33-gram-roll-up-ss-hobo-stove/



05/08/2020: They keep ‘discovering’ the world’s tallest trees - and ignoring the even taller ones which used to exist in Victoria: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/04/worlds-tallest-tropical-tree-discovered-climbed-borneo/?cmpid=org=ngp::mc=crm-email::src=ngp::cmp=editorial::add=Compass_20200801&rid=401F76E6763B0B094694A8EC247EC256  & https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2015/01/20/our-largest-trees/

02/08/2020: A Moondarra Maelstrom: We took a break from building the fox-proof fence this afternoon to have a stroll on the Wirilda Track which snakes along the beautiful little Tyers River North of Morwell. For many years it has been the Latrobe Valley's principal fresh water supply. It was a lovely late afternoon deep in the Tyers Valley. Just on sunset we came to the bottom of the dam which was overflowing powerfully giving us some wonderful views of its spectacular waterfall: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/08/02/a-moondarra-maelstrom/

01/08/2020: Della: Swallows: Yesterday Steve saw some of our swallows return for the season. Sadly, one small member of the flock made it bravely across the world to our verandah home and lay down to die of exhaustion. It was small, very young and so light - no doubt not quite old and strong enough for the journey. I gently buried it next to one of my roses, to no doubt feed a host of insects that will in turn feed her family flock.
And so my mind turned to A.D.Hope's "The Death of the Bird"... and to that morning's news of the death of one of our daughter's childhood friends, and then to other recent deaths that have touched us, and so to all the suffering of those dealing with death during this pandemic.
"The Death of the Bird" has some very poignant lines: Not comforting, no sugar-coating, just some raw insight into the way things are.
It was not happy contemplation, but necessary sorting of my thoughts.
Hopefully some time in the paddock fencing with Steve today will lift my small bout of melancholy.
I recommend the poem, especially the 2nd half.


The Death of the Bird

For every bird there is this last migration:
Once more the cooling year kindles her heart;
With a warm passage to the summer station
Love pricks the course in lights across the chart.

Year after year a speck on the map, divided
By a whole hemisphere, summons her to come;
Season after season, sure and safely guided,
Going away she is also coming home.

And being home, memory becomes a passion
With which she feeds her brood and straws her nest,
Aware of ghosts that haunt the heart’s possession
And exiled love mourning within the breast.

The sands are green with a mirage of valleys;
The palm-tree casts a shadow not its own;
Down the long architrave of temple or palace
Blows a cool air from moorland scarps of stone.

And day by day the whisper of love grows stronger;
That delicate voice, more urgent with despair,
Custom and fear constraining her no longer,
Drives her at last on the waste leagues of air.

A vanishing speck in those inane dominions,
Single and frail, uncertain of her place,
Alone in the bright host of her companions,
Lost in the blue unfriendliness of space,

She feels it close now, the appointed season:
The invisible thread is broken as she flies;
Suddenly, without warning, without reason,
The guiding spark of instinct winks and dies.

Try as she will, the trackless world delivers
No way, the wilderness of light no sign,
The immense and complex map of hills and rivers
Mocks her small wisdom with its vast design.

And darkness rises from the eastern valleys,
And the winds buffet her with their hungry breath,
And the great earth, with neither grief nor malice,
Receives the tiny burden of her death.

01/08/2020: How long do butterflies and moths live? Longer than I thought anyway: https://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/faq/how-long-do-butterflies-and-moths-live

01/08/2020: A Phone in Your Fob: If you work outdoors doing physical work as I have done most of my life you will realise that most smart phones are quite unsuitable. It is just about impossible to carry them in such a way that they will not break. I used to carry my small (4″) Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini in a padded pouch suspended from my belt but I still broke screens/phones.

The fob pocket was invented just for the purpose of protecting a pocket watch in these circumstances – so you need a phone which will fit in your fob. Fortunately there are a few such.

This is my Atom in a pair of very worn farm jeans. As you can see from the attached mud in the lanyard hole it has done some pretty hard work around the farm helping build fences , deliver lambs, rebuild vehicles & etc. There is a wonderful new model. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/07/31/a-phone-in-your-fob/

27/07/2020: Just take a look at this lightning: https://www.drroyspencer.com/2020/07/lightning-strike-video-close-up/  BTW Did you realize that the longest lightning bolt yet seen was over 700 miles?

24/07/2020: Unihertz Jelly 2: I have had their Atom phone which I am delighted with for a couple of years now. It is just great to have a phone in your fob pocket. This new one has a slightly bigger screen which will be appreciated, more ROM, is still dual SIM but now expandable with a microSD card. To me this is the ultimate phone! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jellyphone/jelly-2-worlds-smallest-android-10-4g-smartphone?ref=thanks-share&fbclid=IwAR0nS9JJXF6xhPBAIXZeVjAQNKugXUbtQIPUc0X7DCs_9SAlfbsiFsFHxYs

21/07/2020: DIY Roll Up Hobo Stove or Windscreen: I made this last night out of some aluminium flashing. The aluminium will most likely not stand up to the intense heat of a fire for long, but as a prototype/proof of concept I am happy with it. Some .5mm (soft) stainless steel foil has arrived this morning in the mail so I will be able to try that soon instead.

I may even need a harder stainless steel or even titanium. It took me less than an hour to make on (a piece of plywood so as not to damage) the kitchen table after dinner.

I have made this (exactly) just wider than my 1100 ml pot so that as little heat as possible escapes and so that I can make a carbon fibre cosy to conserve heat when I am burning alcohol in it (such as with one of Tinny’s Gnomes). Preliminary results show a saving of at least a third in fuel usage! I have ordered some fire-resistant thread (aramid) to sew the cosy up with.

Because it is a cylinder it will press up against the inside of the pot (it fits completely inside) so that it takes up next to no space. It doubles as a wood stove and windscreen. This prototype weighs exactly 40 grams. I can see that the .5mm stainless steel one will weigh considerable less, probably less than an ounce (~30 grams)!

It would be easy to include a further piece of the same material in the pot to protect the ground and create a dry fire-lighting floor as the height of the is stove is greater than its diameter: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/07/20/diy-roll-up-hobo-stove-or-windscreen/

20/07/2020: Finnsheep: If you have read this blog regularly you will realise that I have been a farmer for many years. For the last few decades a sheep farmer. And more specifically Finnsheep, but not just any Finnsheep. These sheep are the result of forty years of very careful, very practical sheep breeding. I believe they are the best Finnsheep, and possibly the best sheep anywhere in the world: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/07/18/finnsheep/

Our aim has been to produce a sheep which will successfully raise 3-4 good lambs every lambing on pasture alone and in every kind of weather – and we have succeeded! At the same time we selected the sheep to produce 4 kilograms or more of soft long fine wool per shearing. This has never been done before. You can find out (much) more about our sheep on my main sheep page here: finnsheep.com

20/07/2020: Wonnangatta Murders #15: An interesting item on the ABC - Russell's reported earlier 'altercation' a year earlier with the 'Button Man' is a revelation - as is the statement that he had also camped at the button man’s camp on the trip previous to their disappearance): https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-19/how-four-people-disappeared-without-trace-in-victorian-mountains/12455124?nw=0&pfmredir=sm&fbclid=IwAR0xXWGgMKtgUixrO8VQoDgWnfiay7Hww35o-i12Dz_pk6gq-3KoAzmhLik

09/07/2020: Meanwhile, A Beautiful flight over an icy crater on Mars: https://www.sciencealert.com/new-mars-footage-let-s-you-take-a-flight-over-the-korolev-crater-on-mars/amp?fbclid=IwAR23Qtl8YwjV2w3jc5T7x5uzymrfSmCMTd2r84ndLEQIk-8lgqH1ytGZxW0

07/07/2020: Why ‘culture’ is important: https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2020/07/a-viral-new-bird-song-in-canada-is-causing-sparrows-to-change-their-tune/

4/07/2020: The Tiniest of Knives: Just as a follow-up to my recent utility knife post I have recently become aware of these two wonderful little knives, one of which must just about qualify as being the tiniest of knives at .169 oz (4.8 grams) – less than a credit card, they say in their ad! The other is a cheaper, slightly heavier version of the Dragonfly knife: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/07/03/the-tiniest-of-knives/

02/07/2020: The Carry-on Knife Problem Solved: It is such a nuisance arriving at your destination and not having your favourite knife available for those simple tasks like peeling an apple, opening a box, cutting a rope etc. It is also awkward to have to post your knife ahead for pick-up or buy one then throw it away or post it back - but there is a better way, as they say: the folding utility knife: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/07/02/the-carry-on-knife-problem-solved/

30/06/2020: What it’s like to live in a city full of moose: https://weather.com/safety/news/2020-06-12-living-in-a-city-full-of-moose

27/06/2020: Wonnangatta #14: A few more clues in today’s Herald Sun ‘interview’ with a close friend of Russell Hill: Mr Ashlin says, ‘Russell would never, ever leave his vehicle’. (So they really did not go for a walk and get lost. We can definitely discount that). He also says that during their final conversation (of Russell) ‘He was sparkling like normal, he never had a worry in the world. The way he was behaving was like he had done any other time up in the bush. He was upbeat during our last chat’.) So there was no indication (to his friend) that there was anything about what happened to Russell that he had any apprehension about). “During their final conversation Mr Hill announced he was at Wonnangatta station and soon planned to drive to Dargo, about 70km away. He had not been there before and asked for directions’. (This is a surprise to me). ‘Something that puzzles Mr Ashlin about the mystery is why Mr Hill went camping alone in the area of the King Billy and Bluff Track between March 11 and 13 before the pair’s trip. “He never said boo about it, it was a surprise,” he said… “I don’t know why he went on that trip, it was only an overnight stay, and a six-hour drive each way. There is something strange about it. Robyn can’t work it out either.”’ – Perhaps he met his murderer/s on that occasion? Did he have (unknown) business with him/them?

There is also this photo of Russell camping (on a sunny day):

Missing man Russell Hill on an earlier camping trip.

You will remember that Russell’s hat was on the dash of his car and that the car was locked and the keys missing. Russell clearly took precautions against sun exposure. This pretty clearly shows that what happened to them happened on the night of the 19th March as he would clearly have taken his hat if he went for  a walk on the 20th.

Mr Ashlin also said: ‘He’s been attacked, I believe there is more than one person involved.’ He does not explain why he thinks this. Perhaps it means nothing – but it is quite difficult for one person to lift (two) bodies into a 4WD (even moreso if it was a tray/ute) by themselves. (Two people are also more likely to be caught than one acting alone). The more people who know the more likely the truth will leak out. https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/friends-last-conversation-with-missing-high-country-camper-russell-hill-revealed/news-story/3ab69d511adaa85926918fa8f92ab088

25/06/2020: The Ultralight Hairdresser: Of course you could just go about with your hair looking like an untidy birds' nest but few girls especially would want to. I have carried the same old comb below (3 grams) for twenty years. I own that I could probably have found a slightly shorter, lighter one but there is some sentimental attachment.

The broken tooth was courtesy of my daughter Irralee when Canoeing the Seaforth on the Dusky Track (2009) as she had forgotten to bring something for her hair! Memories. https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/06/25/the-ultralight-hairdresser/

 24/06/2020: Just what you need, a Pocket Sized Bottle Rope Maker: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/grimworkshop/pocket-sized-plastic-bottle-rope-maker-turn-trash-into-rope?fbclid=IwAR1NueTgoIm6DLEh34Ov5uOovDdqK6Qkf32iL9W9UsFrp2z9DmMXn0OLlOY&ref=6teva8 When one thinks about the many wonderful uses to which used drink bottles can be put (eg bottle rockets) one wonders that any are thrown away ever.

22/06/2020: A Hobo in a Roller: If you are a really up-market hobo you can buy this ready-made Tomshoo Brand titanium (of course) hobo stove from Aliexpress for US$14.94 (June 2020). It weighs 55 grams (1.9 oz). Dimensions are : 80 mm (high) x 91 mm (dia) / 3.15 x 3.58 in – so a little smaller than mine 1250mm x 100 mm / 5″ x 4″ (height/dia) and 92 grams (but free). https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/06/22/a-hobo-in-a-roller/

21/06/2020: A Caldera Cosy: You will have seen the Jetboil and similar devices supposed to save fuel. I suppose they do but there is something wrong with the whole concept of carrying canister stoves. This ‘device’ saves fuel on an alcohol stove.

I have made one for my caldera cone which is an important component of my Cookset but soon to be upgraded my myself to an improved model. My ‘cosy’ will still fit however as I won’t be changing my pot.

I have made this truncated cone ‘cosy’ from a piece of carbon felt (because it is insulating but doesn’t burn) to see  how much fuel would be saved if all the waste heat that escapes out the top of the cone and along the sides of the pot had to be directed into the water in the pot. https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/06/20/a-caldera-cosy/

19/06/2020: A Hobo’s Breakfast: It costs nothing at all (and only a couple of minutes) to create your own safe wood burning hiking stove which will cook you up a wonderful breakfast (below) in just a few minutes without having to carry any fuel at all (or any other stove) with you into the wilderness. A big saving.

You only need a few simple hand tools such as those pictured (or similar) which I’m sure you have in your kitchen or workshop. A can opener which will cut out the side of the can (not the top). A ‘church key’ such as used to be used for opening beer cans (Remember?) and a pair of super-tough scissors (or tin snips) for completing the stove ‘door’ opening: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/06/18/a-hobos-breakfast/

18/06/2020: Mostly Perspiration: According to Thomas Edison that’s what genius is – and he should have known, with his 2,000 patents. Each took countless experiments, lots of trials and error before he got it right. Tim Tinker is the Thomas Edison of the ultralight tent stove. For years he has been working away at his miniature radiative beauties in his eternal quest for the perfect stove. I would like to showcase just two of his many creations: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/06/17/mostly-perspiration/

18/06/2020: A Lava Bomb Map. Fascinating: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/58893

17/06/2020: Small Game: Was once the bushman’s standy-by. It is usually abundant, enormously varied, relatively easily to take, involves little waste or preparation and is varied and nutritious. Of course much of it is also illegal. You will notice that in my post about the journey to Cromarty not so long ago everyone used to take a rifle to obtain extra food on the journey

It is a bizarre contradiction really that the folks (who require such bans and who mandate such poor management of public lands through ‘conservation’ strategies such as National Parks) should also be responsible thereby for the episodic vastly destructive wildfires which are so destructive of such wildlife – whilst the larger animals (deemed  pests by the same folk) such as deer and brumbies survive better.

Where (and when) game is plentiful though (and only being reserved for the next apocalyptic inferno anyway) and considering 90+% of every season’s annual production would normally only perish over the lean seasons of winter/summer through starvation also, I see no rational reason why one’s larder ought not be supplemented with it – as it always used to be… https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/06/17/small-game/ 

15/06/2020: Plumbing the Depths: You can repurpose many humble plumbing fittings into wonderful ultralight hiking tools. Take this cheap 19mm (3/4″) irrigation tee from Bunnings  for A$1.54 (June 2020) .

I have carried one to sit the sharp end of my hiking pole in so it doesn’t pierce the floor of my tent. An end joiner works well for that purpose too – and is lighter. You can set it up to start with using your cook pot, then switch after you have your tent pegs in.

They are also just excellent for driving a tent stake into hard ground without damaging the stake – or your hand! This one weighs 14 grams. https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/06/14/plumbing-the-depths/

13/06/2020: All Thumbs: Sick of burning your thumb when lighting the fire or the stove with your Mini Bic? I know I am. Here’s the ultralight (1.5 gram) solution. J. Burrows’ Thimblettes from office supplies for just 64 cents each. You can store one on the end of the lighter (as shown) so it is easy to find. One has already gone into my cookset: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/06/13/all-thumbs/



13/06/2020:  The wonders of modern technology: an entire Roman city mapped without any digging at all: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/58829

12/06/2020: Good news for those struggling with home ownership: You Can Buy Land on Mars Only US$35/acre. Great value.

11/06/2020: The Last Straw: You can bend over the end of a drinking straw then if you fold it in along the middle slightly you can slip a cut off piece (say about 1" onto it to lock it in place. It will hold liquids such as iodine or sunscreen perfectly well, as well as powders such as salt, pepper and spices, or safety equipment such as matches, strikers, fore starters etc. I'm sure many other uses could be imagined.  https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/06/11/the-last-straw/

11/06/2020: Mt Disappointment and the Wonnangatta ‘Murders’: I as stunned as you were that a two day ‘search’ by 400 people (obviously including the very same sort of ‘specialist’ police used in the Wonnangatta search) failed to find this 11 year old boy within less than 30 metres of clear going along the creek or adjacent to the Road 1. First the Herald Sun Photo. Then one taken from Google maps Satellite view, the third is also from Google maps showing the type of vegetation there.


Google Maps shows the distance from Road I to the creek to be approx 150 metres. You can’t imagine deer hunters taking more than 15 minutes to find a deer they had shot in that situation. Yet the searchers never found the boy even though he was not much more then 100 metres from his last seen location (not even the 300 metres the Herald Sun reports), barely out of sight, and you would definitely think a search would circle out from this location with the ‘known’ that lost children do not travel far and seek to hide in thick patches. Unsurprisingly he was found by a lone bushman who was not part of the official search. Well done Ben Gibbs.


This leads me to reprise Vicpol’s statement that the Wonnagatta ‘couple’ cannot be in the search area. Now while I think it is vanishingly unlikely that two older (experienced) people could both get lost and die close to a familiar camp, I can also see that Viocpol’s search protocols are absolutely hopeless. Vicpol is obviously largely headed up by and manned by complete idiots! I still think the most likely situation is that Russell and Carol were murdered and their bodies dumped, but after the finding of this child (if the gates were not now locked) I would be going up to the Wonnangatta myself for a few days to check out all the hollow trees and logs & etc in the vicinity of their campsite.


It just keeps happening, ie someone else finding the person (usually their body, alas) pretty much within sight of where they went missing - there have been several examples of this just in the last year alone. Vicpol's training and procedures need a serious shake up. I think clearly when someone goes missing Vicpol need immediately have procedures in place to to call on volunteers eg from Deer Hunting groups to search for them ie people who are used to actually being in the bush (without getting lost) and who are skilled at looking for things. Arrangements could be made for them to be paid for their loss of wages in just the same way as for volunteer fire fighters: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/bushman-hailed-a-hero-as-william-callaghan-found-on-mt-disappointment/news-story/831d6a10e6664bb954bb9f3dfbf5113c


10/06/2020: Skara Brae – What a wonder! https://archaeology-world.com/scottish-farmer-discovers-5000-year-old-lost-city/

09/06/2020: Ultralight Pot Lifter: I found this enchanting post on a chat forum this morning: ‘For the last 5 years I’ve been needlessly carrying this extra 0.40 Oz with my Evernew titanium pot. Now I can manage just fine with one handle’. – thank you Wayne Adelkopf‎. I do admire the lateral thinking here. It is just such genius which made America great! And Britain before it! Now solimpply called the ‘UK’. I do prefer ‘Great Britain’!

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And .4 of an ounce is 11.5 grams (which, if you have been following A Lazy Man’s Guide to Hiking and Hunting works out like this:  ‘A saving of 10 grams now doesn’t seem so silly does it when you see that it is the same as shifting 100 kg (200 lbs) one metre (yard)!’ In this case  115 kg – try lifting that! (or just over 250 pounds) – a not inconsiderable amount!

08/06/2020: A Cure for Knee Pain? (Preliminary observations)‘Always listen to the experts – and then do something else’, as the old saying goes. I thought I had about tried just about everything with my knee/s (as with my back (in retrospect) and had about bitten the bullet that there was nothing for it but once again the dreaded knife – though I know that too is a solution replete with unsatisfactory outcomes, except for the surgeon’s new Porsche! The cold laser seemed to bring some relief, and an exercise cycle which I have not been as religious with using as I should (I’m sure an unsurprising revelation) had not been the ultimate panacea either, but a couple of scraps of information/wisdom niggled at the back of my mind. The orthopedic surgeon commented (aside) that they had no explanation why some folks were ‘bone on bone’ and yet free of pain (and disfunction) yet others not.. The same has been noticed about backs, and on autopsy of many other things besides. The body (and even more the mind) remains a great mystery still. Another person (referring to the benefits to be obtained from the cold laser device) said that I would (probably) have to learn to walk all over again. Like many simple truths such as ‘Give it time to heal’ one tends to ignore - when you begin to see some sort of benefit from something (such as the cold laser), and ‘less is more’ ie don’t overdo something which seems to have benefit. That is not necessarily how things work. Anyway I decided to have a go at learning to walk again. This is something (strangely enough) which I have emphasized again and again in my hunting advice – but one tends not always to listen to one’s own advice, or anyone else’s! Strange! About ten days ago I decided to try it out though. Now, particularly my left knee has hurt for the last seven years every time I put it down, so I thought, ‘What if I am putting it down wrongly?’ & ‘Can I walk without pain?’ So I decided to experiment. Like the hunting walking I always advocate, ‘Softly, softly’ is the way to go. Can I just glide ahead with as little impact as possible, taking small steps and walking on my‘toes’ (at least the balls of my feet) instead of clumping down with my heels as people are wont to do – with no pain. The answer is that I can. It may be (is) slower, and it may look strange. I have never been over-much concerned about what odd ideas others may have anyway. I long ago eschewed the common throng anyway – as Horace advised long ago (‘Odi profanum vulgus et arceo’). I have now switched to my Topo walking shoes (because they have no heels and so facilitate this odd method of locomotion), but…So far I have walked completely without pain for ten days! This is good! Try it! PS: Something I failed to mention: Never straighten your knee, or 'lock' it backwards. People often do this when they are standing. Always maintain the bent shape of the knee. Stand on your muscles, ligaments etc, not on your joints. They were never 'designed' to stand this sort of mistreatment. So too back. I have learned (now) that the chief cause of back pain is poor stance and weakening of core body muscles. PPS: Read also my previous ‘report about cold lasers here: I Kneed You Knee arthritis is ‘associated’ with inflamation. Evidently ‘no-one knows’ whether the inflamation is the cause of the arthritis or vice-versa or whether they just occur together. The pain however in my experience does not seem to be doing me ‘any good’. I endure it because I either value the aciviuty that brings it on (hiking, hunting etc) or need to do the thing that seems to bring it on eg work, for some other reason. But if I can go about my business whatever it is without the pain I would choose to do it. I only did not know that I could avoid the pain whilst remaining active. (Too much sitting has its negatives too). But this ‘creeping about’ I am doing at present allows me to do things I want or need to do without endureing the pain so to me it is a win-win – whether it is actually ‘doing me any good’ – whaterer that may mean I leave to the philosophers and the shamans.

07/06/2020: Ultralight Ultracheap Deer Hunting & Some Ripping Yarns: I am often approached by prospective deer hunters for advice, particularly about what they need to acquire before beginning hunting. How little both in weight and dollars do you need to spend (supposing you already actually own nothing – unlikely)? I have put together here some suggestions (with links to previous posts).

Here is a photo from many years ago (c1990) of me with a young stag taken off my foxhounds at the bottom of Deep Creek near Walhalla, Gippsland. Note ex-army boots, woolen trousers (patched), Aussie Disposals shirt & hat. The deer would have been shot with my old SMLE. One shot. Thirty yards. It is dead right where it was running. (More about this at bottom of page). Lesson: You don’t need to spend a fortune to (successfully) hunt deer: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/06/06/ultralight-ultracheap-deer-hunting/

06/06/2020: A Hiking Food Compendium: Folks are always asking me, ‘What do you eat on the trail?’ I have posted about this again and again, but I just thought I would bring all my posts about this together as one compendium. When you get tired of eating all these you could just quit life or hiking I guess. These are mostly our own recipes (tried and true). I have freshened this post up a lot (04/06/2020)

A couple of these are to enjoy at home, but most are from dry ingredients which make the meal as light as possible (calories per gram is all!) and use supermarket bought rather than specialty hiking meals as they are both cheaper and tastier in my opinion: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/06/05/a-hiking-food-compendium/

04/06/2020: Born With a Wooden Spoon in My Mouth: If your wife loses your ultralight titanium/aluminium hiking spoon whilst doing the washing up (while you are folding up the tent) in the Franklin-Gordon wilderness (as my lovely wife, Della did - and she will never be allowed to forget it, poor thing!) or a similar disaster strikes, then it might be a good idea to be carrying a spare...but one can hardly be expected to heft the extra enormous weight of another 9 grams, so here is a lovely 2 gram hiking spoon. https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/06/04/born-with-a-wooden-spoon-in-my-mouth/

04/06/2020: Wonderful objects out there waiting: an Einstein Ring. What next a Dyson Sphere? https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/06/03/astronomers-find-cosmic-golden-needle-buried-for-two-decades/

04/06/2020: The Genius of Mathematics: Just hard to believe how brilliant some people are: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Srinivasa_Ramanujan & https://www.popularmechanics.com/…/conway-knot-problem-sol…/ See (Stephen Fry) film: The Man Who Knew Infinity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlXHwMgS06c Something to watch tonight when there is nothing worthwhile on TV!  

03/06/2020: A 9 kg Rabbit – and I did not even know you could house-train a coney: https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/home/pets/giant-pet-rabbit-cocoa-puff-almost-as-big-as-kids-photo/news-story/42c54a8d677a820bc37a98f99d3b990d

01/06/2020: A Lazy Man’s Guide to Hiking and Hunting: Work equals force by distance, where a single newton of force represents the amount of force needed to move one kilogram one meter. The equivalent imperial unit is the foot-pound which is self-explanatory.

Image: Sisyphus: ‘In Greek mythology Sisyphus or Sisyphos was the king of Ephyra. He was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll down every time it neared the top, repeating this action for eternity.’ Wikipedia

An example, if you chose a pair of shoes which each weighs 100 grams (1/10th of a kilogram) more (than another shoe) and you walk 20,000 half metre steps in a day, you have moved the equivalent of an extra tonne (1,000kg) during the course of the day (.1 x .5 x 20,000) a distance of one metre.

That is a lot of extra effort. If I asked you to shovel a tonne of manure from this pile here to that one a metre away there you would think it was a lot of work, and maybe wouldn’t want to do much else for the rest of the day! (It would be a pile approximately a cubic metre/yard say 3′ x3′ x 3′). But that’s just what 100 grams in each of a pair of shoes adds up to, yet you are likely carrying several kilogramss extra somewhere in your kit! How many tonnes of s—t is that? https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/05/31/a-lazy-mans-guide-to-hiking-and-hunting/

01/06/2020: Mars Here We Come. Go Dragon. (thirty seconds in): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZolorqY2AM

01/06/2020: ‘New’ Games With Irving Finkel: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/58766

31/05/2020: 1400 Posts: My daughter Merrin started this blog for me four years ago on 26 May 2016 so I am surprised I/we have been so busy, but today this is my 1400th post! Just thought I would take a few lines to highlight the last 100 posts which have occurred over the last six months or so: I guess the highlight in our memories of the last 100 was our walk on the Everest Base Camp Trail back in November 2019. Now read on: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/05/30/1400-posts/


31/05/2020: Wonnagatta Murders (cont): A tiny bit of new information in the Herald-Sun this morning: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/truecrimeaustralia/police-courts/missing-campers-time-frame-narrowed-to-18hour-window/news-story/f14372ce134482e3ae4c265c01284d82


Police have narrowed the time frame a little. ‘Mr Hill talked via his radio with a friend at about 6.30pm on March 20…He spoke only briefly because darkness was descending and he wanted to set up the camp site. The next day, other High Country visitors came across their camp at about 2pm. They saw fire had destroyed a tent and camp furniture and had also scorched the side of Mr Hill’s Toyota LandCruiser. Those passers-by believe it had been out long enough to have gone cold. It was not smoking at that point... search and rescue squad officers, who have run major operations in the surrounding area, were convinced they would have found some trace of the friends if they were still there… it was possible something had gone wrong while the pair were out exploring the bush. But both getting into the kind of trouble which led to death was less likely… Investigators are now trying to track every person who was in the area.. there were a lot of people in the High Country that weekend… Mr Hill had been in the King Billy and Bluff Track area from March 13 to 16 on a separate solo visit with his new drone. He also took the drone on the trip with Ms Clay the next week… Anyone with any other information on the disappearance or who has any CCTV or dashcam footage can call Crime Stoppers.’


Sunset occurred on March 20 at Mt Hotham Vic at 7:22pm Twilight at 7:48pm https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/australia/melbourne?month=3&year=2020  Deep in the Wonnangatta Valley (which runs roughly North-South) and close up against the Western side in the narrow Dry Creek Valley, sunset/twilight would occur much earlier, at least an hour. When Russell said it was ‘getting dark’ so he could not talk for long that was right. After setting up camp there was definitely no time to fly, lose and search for a drone. If he had lost it before he would have mentioned that fact in his radio call and that he was about to go look for it (as well as setting up camp – impossible). If he had done so early in the morning they would never have been ‘lost’. They were not ‘lost. They were murdered and dumped.


‘The fire was cold…it was not smoking.’ The people who found the camp would have seen or smelled smoke/burning plastic (at the campsite) if the fire had occurred soon before 2pm, say since 10-11am. There is usually very little wind in the Wonnangatta valley The wind almost always blows from the West (when it does) but it reverses direction for a brief time around about dawn. A morning fire (quite a lot of black smoke from burning poly, vinyl canvas, sleeping bags etc) would hang low in the air all morning. (It takes quite while for the fog to lift (not until after 10 am usually) so even a fire at 8-9 should still have smoke hanging around at 1 pm as the people who found the camp were driving up or down the valley on their way in. I think it unlikely the fire occurred in the morning.


‘Search and rescue squad officers…were convinced they would have found some trace of the friends if they were still there’ exactly. They have been removed from the scene.


I suspect the murder and the fire occurred the night before in the tent probably after they had gone to bed and that their bodies were removed that night probably back up the Zeka Spur (the most likely place to dump them). Lots of people (almost all) arrive in the Wonnangatta on Saturday morning. Most people come up the Howitt Road and turn off at the Zeka Spur or they come in from Eaglevale. The couple came down the Zeka Spur (They came through Licola). Morning would be the worst time to (successfully) murder someone. If you did it under cover of darkness though and because you were already in the valley before dark and knew there were no other campers about (or who would see a fire) that is another matter.


You had followed them in from where they had camped on the night of the 19th probably the King Billy ‘Crossroads’ as Russell had camped there only a week before when he was planning this trip – Where they camped, moved (ie the couple’s movements on the 19th and 20th) is a crucial bit of information which there may be evidence for. The couple drove down the Zeka Spur in daylight with this person following (at a distance) behind them. Someone camped on the tops (eg at Howitt or Guy’s Hut) might have seen these two vehicles (or even have dashcam footage’ – which the police are seeking). They were either followed down the Howitt Rd to the Zeka Spur turn off (probably by a stranger) or up it (by someone known to them).


Once it was dark you could be sure of that no other campers were about ie no lights) and make your move. Approach on foot using the red light on your head torch. It would be easy to hit two elderly people over the heads with eg the back of an axe when they were lying in their swags. Easy enough to bring your ute up, drag them into the back, smooth over your tracks with a branch, set fire to the tent, make sure every trace was burned away (five minutes) - and be off up the Zeka Spur having already selected somewhere you could safely dump the bodies ie somewhere you can safely stop – there are lots of steep pinches where this would not be easy. You would also want to be able to see lights approaching, so not near a ‘blind’ bend. Possibly there is even a spot where you can get a vehicle off the road? Safer. I haven’t paid that much attention when I have driven up/down it (only a couple of times). I almost always drive in from Eaglevale (canoeing) or I walk in from the Moroka.


You could not afford to take the bodies downriver (too much chance of running into other campers) or out onto the Howitt Rd - ditto, clear country and a chance of a police/DELWP roadblock checking cars and hunting licences. So, the Zeka Spur almost certainly.


Clearly though (then) their bodies were also dumped (probably) on the Zeka Spur in the dark possibly using infra red lights (again) for concealment, as to do so in the early morning would invite discovery – as this is when ‘everyone’ arrives. (This is a fairly ‘professional’ job. Planned). It would be a tricky thing to conceal two bodies fairly quickly and well in the dark. If they are buried they will not have been buried deeply – and wild dogs may have scattered the site, somewhat making it easier to find now A careful search along the sides of that track may pay big dividends. The murderer should really go back and move them or check that they are well concealed, as when they are found lots of new evidence will be available to police.


PS: Russell's (though patchy) phone records and the drone footage on his home computer should confirm where he camped. From there it is an easy step to forensically examine the campsite for DNA traces (eg buried faeces) to confirm the spot - and whether anyone else's DNA is there too! Then police can recontruct the events precisely and the likely timing. I find it surprising that they did not arrive at Dry Creek until nearly dark on the 20th given that they left Pakenham at 7:30 am on the 19th - and presumably passed through Licola that day. (Talking t someone?)


The Howitt Road is much busier though than around King Billy etc. Whenever I have been up there someone comes by every few minutes so there ought to be lots of people who saw two cars (the first Russell's distinctive white Landcruiser) the second the murderer's) passing by clearly in daylight hours. From the time they arrived at Russell's (clearly planned) camp (say 6:00pm) you can guess they must have turned down the Zeka Track around 4:00pm, meaning they passed the Howitt Hut or Dimmick's Lookout just before then. There are so often people about up there. You would think someone must have seen them.


As well, the patchy phone records should show a 'handshake with Russell - and Carol's phone simultaneously. Likely the very next phone is the murderer, providing he had a phone. (When I had my CDMA phone it used to say what tower you were connected to - up there it would likely be the Hotham one). So, unless the police are exceedingly dim-witted (not impossible) they should know who the murderer is. His phone will also have 'shaken hands' with the transmitter sometime perhaps around midnight on the way out (when no-one else would be moving about)! The phone record is not enough (as we saw in the Ristevski case even when the murderer was the husband) but once they have the bodies and some other DNA evidence, he will be sprung - and we can all take to going back to the Wonnangatta camping safely!

30/05/2020: Keweisi USB Amp Tester: This is a really handy piece of gear (18 grams). After you have bought it/them you are going to be throwing out a heap of other things! It measures the voltage and amperage through itself when plugged into a USB outlet and can time and add the total so that you can see how long it took to attain a certain number of milliamp hours of storage. https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/05/30/keweisi-usb-amp-tester/

29/05/2020: Cookset Solutions: Today I am using the Gnomatic alcohol simmer stove below. It is available for US$25 (May 2020) plus freight and weighs 19 grams with the simmer ring. It is just about the best alcohol stove and simmer stove I have ever owned, and you do not have to worry about accidents because it is virtually spill-proof (because of the carbon felt inside) and wonderfully easy to light from the top (first time every time) without burning your fingers. Just make a flat level space on the ground with your thumb.

I have is set up inside a Trail Designs Caldera Cone (31 grams in this size). It fits either of my two pots the Evernew deep pot with frypan lid 900 ml at 123 grams (for one) or the Toaks Titanium 1100 ml at 156  grams (for two – big enough for us anyway. Both weights are including the lid. BTW If you need a second plate these are the cheapest and lightest I have found).

You also need two eg titanium shepherd’s hook tent pegs (total about 11 grams). https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/05/29/cookset-solutions/

28/05/2020: Astonishing: A Loon With the Heart of an Eagle: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52779727


28/05/2020: Wonnangatta again: Vicpol seems to believe in fairies, alien abductions and such. Evidently they are seeking to eliminate the possibility that Russell and Carol won several million in the lottery, decided to run off together yet instead of simply doing just that, changed their bank accounts and identities, Russell planted another 4WD (by himself?) somewhere in the Wonnangatta then they drove out via Eaglevale and Black Snake Creek. Just possibly this was quite another ‘elderly couple’ who (like us) do not consider themselves particularly ‘elderly’ and so would not necessarily come forward even in the (likely) scenario that they had taken a quiet drive up the Wonnangatta Rd on March 22nd. Apparently (unsurprisingly) they were not seen in the Wonnangatta Valley. Of course Vicpol does have to eliminate all the possibilities (however remote). It is very revealing though how interested they are in the doings in the Mt Howitt-Zeka Track area and in exactly when the fire occurred – as am I: https://www.police.vic.gov.au/appeal-visitors-wonnangatta-area-contact-police-investigation-missing-campers-continues?fbclid=IwAR3gSY2K87_AWOo96lV3d2Etltue8e1QbFjH6dV61TJwn2c2gWOWe0QcniE

27/05/2020: Neat Ultralight USB Light: These are an interesting emergency light at just a couple of grams each . They plug straight in to your ultralight power bank. Some of them have a touch switch. They are not as energy efficient as these 11 gram rechargeables but would make a good spare. You can buy them from Jaycar for A$9.95 for three: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/05/26/neat-ultralight-usb-light/

27/05/2020: Wonnangatta Murders: The Plot thickens: ‘Detectives have been able to confirm Mr Hill was camping alone in the area of the King Billy and Bluff Track between March 11 and 13. He was in his white Toyota LandCruiser and had his DJI Mavic drone with him on that trip.’ https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/fresh-clues-in-missing-camper-search/news-story/32245606102ef8be1505315f434bb8b9 This is indeed ‘The Crossroads’ the Button Man’s haunt mentioned in the earlier Age article where he was the last person to see missing lone hiker Niels Becker . What did Russell discover with that drone (or possibly discover) that led someone to stalk and kill them both? A marijuana plantation perhaps? (on top of a mountain?) Seems unlikely. Illegal wildlife trapping/trafficking? Something more sinister? I hope police are having a good look around that area. And looking for the dumped bodies adjacent to the tracks leading to/from the Wonnangatta where deer hunters or others are unlikely/forbidden to venture. PS: I have probably mentioned this before, but the only place they could be (and not be found) is in a hollow tree. It is vaguely possible that if they were sitting up (dead) inside a such a tree the wild dogs would not have approached them and scattered their bodies/clothing. However surely professional search teams are told to particularly check (look back when passing) such trees. I still think the chance of this being innocent is less than in a million. I wonder where they camped on he way up there? Did Russell go back to the Crossroads? NB: Button Man clearly has a 'thing' about people taking pictures. remember the story in the original Age story about his taking photographs of the photographer with his own camera while he slept.

Thanks for the link to your photos. (https://www.facebook.com/gerard.white.7/media_set?set=a.828773063845809&type=3&hc_location=ufi). I do intend to do posts about your trip in the future (and indeed have made a beginning - it is an enormous task!) The photos give something of an idea of the type of country where the Button Man has his camp and why someone might fly a drone there - just great scenic footage - nothing illegal needs to have been discovered. Just that the photography (twice perhaps) irrationally annoyed him - of course the murderer could also be a third person. I think the post March 20th 'sightings' are certainly of someone else - unless she 'hitched' out of there to Black Snake - but then she would have turned up at home! A murder/suicide is indeed possible, but you have to think of the unlikelihood of neither of their bodies being found in a search. it is one thing to hide someone else's body; much harder to hide your own.

I certainly think the fire was deliberate. However, the scenarios you envisage of she and Russell separating up there are very unlikely for elderly people who are good friends. If she 'wandered off' she would surely have followed a track and would have been picked up on the 20th. Either Russell has done this - but no bodies - or someone else. The link to the 'Crossroads' is very suspicious at the moment. I would like to know whether when the campsite was found burned out (2pm on the 20th it seems) whether people saw smoke in the sky ('Plastic' smoke hangs around quite a while - as does the smell) or if it was still warm/smouldering etc. Knowing whether the fire occurred that day or the night before is so crucial. Also was the drone controller at the campsite? Anything else interesting missing/present? One of Oz's great mysteries...

"The Crossroads" looking north from Mt Clear Track...King Billy Track to the right, Brocks Rd to the left. Bluff Track straight. There's a weather station somewhere to the right apparently that's where Button Man camps. The AAWT heads up just to the right of Bluff Track. This is at the base of King Billy No.2 straight ahead.

Police are seeking information: https://www.police.vic.gov.au/appeal-visitors-wonnangatta-area-contact-police-investigation-missing-campers-continues?fbclid=IwAR3gSY2K87_AWOo96lV3d2Etltue8e1QbFjH6dV61TJwn2c2gWOWe0QcniE

Crime Writer Andrew Rule Gives Some Details On The Mystery “Button Man” In The Victorian High Country On the Hot Breakfast: https://www.triplem.com.au/story/crime-writer-andrew-rule-gives-some-details-on-the-mystery-button-man-in-the-victorian-high-country-161688?fbclid=IwAR1WjxgbCVlctkaZWSZNR8VKVKFrftye2w7D03ZVgm4LxM8cvgmLtnbL47c

26/05/2020: Better Seam Sealing: You have probably used Silnett and similar products to DIY seal the seams in your tents, tarps etc. You can mix up this mixture which is also good for increasing the waterproofness of your floors too but both these methods are fairly messy. Or you can buy some PU seam sealing tape which just irons on. Use a piece of baking paper between the tape and the iron so it doesn’t stick to your iron, and be careful not to have the temperature too high (‘Woolens’ is a good setting), be careful and patient and you will get a professional result. The tape weighs .77grams/foot or 2.5 grams per metre. I doubt whether you cold seam seal any lighter than that anyway and this will give a much neater job on a new tarp: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/05/25/better-seam-sealing/

26/05/2020: Snow Peak Titanium Sierra Cup: Something ultralight to make your cup of java below with. Just 39.5 grams and 322 mls (10.9 fl oz) D 4.8″ H 1.75″ May also make a useful small billy lid eg for something like this. US 19.95 May 2020 on Amazon or SnowPeak : https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/05/24/snow-peak-titanium-sierra-cup/

25/05/2020: Hard to believe Bob Dylan is 79 today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeP4FFr88SQ (At Newport 1964: introduced by Pete Seeger).

24/05/2020: Real Coffee Never Got Lighter: The Montbell 4 gram coffee dripper (US$19 May 2020):

‘Lightweight, packable, portable, washable, economical, and ecological! This convenient coffee filter utilizes a 60 micrometer mesh to let you enjoy the “true” aroma and flavor of your favorite bean in the backcountry: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/05/24/real-coffee-never-got-lighter/

23/05/2020: Wonnangatta Murders (cont): Human remains are being investigated at Moondarra (between Moe and Thomson Dam). If this turns out to be Russell & Carol then ‘Button Man’ is probably not involved but likely someone who knew them – and where they would be – as I said weeks ago. However I also said weeks ago (10/5) that whoever took them from their camp site would likely dump them where they would never be found: https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/missing-persons-squad-combs-bushland-in-victoria-s-high-country-20200523-p54vsi.html 

Timeline: ‘March 19: Russell Hill leaves his home in Drouin with plans to visit various campsites along the Dargo River. He is seen by neighbours picking up Carol Clay from her home in Pakenham at 7.30am. Phone tracking shows the pair travelled through Heyfield and Licola to get to Wonnangatta Valley.

March 20: Mr Hill was last heard from via HF radio where he told a friend in the amateur radio community he was at Wonnangatta Station in the Victorian Alps setting up camp before dark.

March 21: Campers find Mr Hill's white Toyota Landcruiser with signs of minor fire damage, and their tent and some belongings torched near the Dry River Creek Track in the Wonnangatta Valley around 2 pm. A search begins.’ NB I got this useful piece of information from the Facebook Police page last night: ‘Their Wonnangatta campsite was located unattended on 21 March, 2020’ Most of the reports said that the car had been found six days later. If it was found when the police say then they were gone and the camp burned within twelve hours of their arriving, so it was clearly never a case of an elderly couple getting lost and this an someone else’s involvement should have been obvious to an astute observer at the very outset.

‘Local cattleman Bruce McCormack, who has assisted in many searches over the years, said the valley they were camping in was up to 1000 acres of "clear country".

"It's sort of a great open area in the middle of the Alpine National Park."

He said around one kilometre away from the campsite, the area turned into dense bushland where you would "never find them". https://9now.nine.com.au/a-current-affair/new-evidence-including-drone-linked-to-victorian-missing-persons-carol-clay-and-russell-hill/4ea2f0a8-07da-4978-8b01-d23abacecf03 

Clearly they camped somewhere along the way if Russell was ‘’setting up camp before dark’ on the night of the 20th. Clearly they did not go looking for a drone that night and would not have taken (both) their phones with them if they had. We do not know whether those who found their camp saw smoke or observed smouldering, however the couple were unlikely to have gone for a walk and failed to return during the day as they would have seen the smoke known it was their camp and had it to guide them. The area where they were camped is largely in a huge area of clear country with bush beginning about a kilometer away. They would have been unlikely in the extreme to have gone for a walk in the dark in the bush at night off track or looking for a lost drone. Besides a lady of that age almost invariably carries her mobile phone (which would not work there) in her handbag which would have been left at camp for a short walk as was the phone charger. Someone who was looking for them (and knew the general area they would be in) or someone who was following them or their tracks would have spotted them at a considerable distance in daylight. We can surely add several more layers of improbability to their disappearance being natural considering this additional evidence. For example, both phones taken: 1/5?, went for a walk in daylight and failed to return to burning camp: 1/10+? Or went for a walk at night in distant bush: 1/100,000.

No. They were stalked, murdered and their bodies taken away within hours of their arriving there probably under cover of darkness. Clearly intent and someone who knew they would be there. So many false leads in the reporting of this. It cannot have helped the police and it certainly did not help me understand what was going on. The standard of journalism in Australia is abysmal. BTW: The crime scene was clearly substantially ruined by the time police arrived or they would never have been conducting a search for ‘lost’ people. There ought to have been clear evidence of another vehicle, another person.

PS: Turns out the body was another hapless ‘victim’ from Moe.


PS: Turns out the body was another hapless ‘victim’ from Moe.

23/05/2020: Wonnagatta Mystery again: ‘What has not been revealed is that Hill was in the area a week before, flying his drone near the Button-Man’s campsite.’ https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/the-button-man-could-be-key-to-mounting-mountain-mystery-20200521-p54v4p.html & https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/andrew-rule/oddball-loner-talk-of-victorian-alps-amid-string-of-disappearances/news-story/c44a9ca93b98936a4742e0161892e39a Of course this 'Button Man' is a good enough bushman he wil have made the bodies unfindable (unlike the yokel spotlighters I speculated about). This (and his extreme vigilance and cleverness) may make him well-nigh uncatchable. PS: I also missed this piece of crucial evidence: ‘Police have not found either of their mobile phones’: https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/grandmother-missing-with-man-bought-new-home-days-before-camping-trip-20200422-p54m7y.html NB. When I speculated about spotlighters accidentally shooting them I was thinking they were camped in bushland, but apparently the area is in the middle of a large cleared area so the spotlighters would have had to be particularly inept (not impossible). Surely we do come back down to someone who knew them or a (strong) lone murderer.

22/05/2020: I’ve never understood why a bird would want to lose the ability to fly, but this one extinct for 100,000 years is back from extinction. Now that’s something: https://www.esquireme.com/content/46133-an-extinct-bird-just-evolved-itself-back-into-existence

21/05/2020: The restorative power of the elk on a million acres of strip-mining: https://www.yesmagazine.org/issue/dirt/2019/04/13/land-recovery-elk-wildlife-habitat-appalachia/

20/05/2020: Fun in the Mud

There was an old man who bogged a tractor.

What a quacker he bogged a tractor!

He bogged the tractor trying to rescue the truck.

How’s that for luck to bog a truck?

He bogged the truck trying to save the ute.

What an old coot, he bogged the ute……..

What a story.

To be continued… https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/05/20/fun-in-the-mud/ 

20/05/2020: Australian native finger limes: (Della) I bought one of these plants several years ago whilst indulging in a little garden-centre impulse buying. Since then I have sporadically noticed 3 or 4 of the fruit deposited at the base of the shrub during autumn and picked them up as a novelty. Today, however, I discovered that the shrub has become a little more serious about its mission and was able to carefully pick a little bowl full of the fruit.(I say "carefully" because of the vicious spines liberally sprinkled through the branches). They were perfectly ripe, and the jewelled fruit within had a sharp lime flavour. So, what to use them for? Experiment 1: G&T garnish. Result: looked impressive and a great flavour burst, but a tiny bit would have tasted better than the contents of one whole fruit. Undeterred, I used another to dollop some little flavour balls on our salmon patties at dinner time. That was really good: tiny bursts of limey flavour enhanced the fish beautifully. Apparently they only last for a few days once picked but freeze successfully for future use. Will check that out: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/05/20/australian-native-finger-limes/

17/05/2020: Deer Hunter's Tent Goes Bush: I will not confess I broke the lockdown rule against 'camping' and took my Deer Hunter's Tent up the bush for a trial run. It is always possible at my age to have walked so far (and with this trick knee, back etc) that I could not safely make it back to my vehicle before dark: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/05/17/deer-hunters-tent-goes-bush/


14/05/2020: Thomson River Packrafting Day Trip: You can have some really wonderful single day packrafting adventures on Gippsland’s wonderful Thomson River.  I promised to post this ages ago, but the summer fires and the coronavirus lock-down has meant I have not had the opportunity to go take a look – and I need to take a couple of more looks in the future, so I will be updating this.

Nevertheless yesterday on the first day restrictions were eased took a drive to check out whether they had finished clearing the Mitchell Creek Track. We would have checked out the marble Quarry Track too but they were still working nearby, so we went around to the other side and drove up the Stoney Creek Rd to see whether the T8-10 had been re-opened.

The good news is the Mitchell Creek Track has been cleared pretty much all the way to the river. The last half a kilometre of very steep going is really only suitable for $WDs (probably equipped with a winch – be warned). However you could drive along with a normal SUV as far as the drop-off pictured then walk from there. At the moment there is a deep puddle about 100 metres further back where you should probably stop.

The last 300 metres is suicidally steep.

14/05/2020: Teddy Roosevelt: We will probably not see his like again: https://time.com/5259995/theodore-roosevelt-portrait-conservation-hunting/

10/05/2020: Wonnangatta Mystery Continues: I suspect police will be looking for another Wonnangatta murderer. (You will remember that the original 1912 murders were never solved). Today’s ‘new’ information is that the missing man’s friends say it is most unlikely he would have walked far from his campsite. To me this is crucial: if he had been a hunter, canoeist etc it might have been otherwise. Now we have these ‘probabilities’ which can be multiplied together. Chance of he being far from his campsite: Alone 1/5? In company 1/10? – probably much less. Chance of a fire starting (in the absence of a campfire) in a temporarily deserted campsite (in the late autumn): 1/100? Chance of an experienced bushman becoming lost and never found (1/20?) Chance of two people becoming lost together and not being found (1/100?) Chance of a thorough search of the immediate vicinity turning up no sign at all 1/10? – probably more like 1/100. As I say these chances are cumulative: 1/10 x 1/100 x 1/100 x 1/10 = ie less than 1/1,000,000. Therefore, it is more than 99.99% certain someone else was involved, killed them in the tent, took the bodies away in their ute to be disposed of where they would not be found and set fire to the tent to remove DNA, fingerprints, blood-stains, etc. The person (almost certainly a man – I have seen very few women in there and never alone) was very likely familiar (at least) with the male deceased and certainly with the area – eg knew where he would camp! May not have realised the woman would be with him (his wife claims not to have known, etc), but unlikely. She may have been killed because she would otherwise have been a witness. More likely: the person knew both of them., but also is very familiar with the area and knows to dump the bodies where deer hunters etc are unlikely to find them (eg a Reference Area like Mount McAdam on the way out to Eaglevale. If their bodies were in the search area (after the first week, before the search began) wild dogs would have devoured and torn them to pieces (in the extremely unlikely event they both became lost) and scattered their clothing (relatively easily spotted from drone footage surely?) But they would also still have smelled (to a search party) out to at least 50 metres say. You figure the area searched unsuccessfully on foot in a week in that event. Missing garments collectively: socks, shoes, trousers, underpants, bra, tops, jumpers/coats, hat/s, glasses – say 20 items altogether spread out (by dingoes) over perhaps 2500 square metres - as well as their bones! ie They are not there! Police definitely need to hear from anyone who was in the Wonnangatta at the same time even if they were not involved but perhaps there for illegal purposes (eg spotlight hunting – there is also the possibility one was shot accidentally and the other to remove a witness after all). Remember the guy near Woods Point who was struck and killed by presumably spotlighters a couple of years back. Police should offer an indemnity to such folk, or a reward to anyone who knows someone who was there at that time. There is also a better than 50% chance the person was not there alone – I have been there lots of times. Few people travel there alone as I do, but (if you wonder) I have been home all this time, actually longing to go hunting/hiking in the Woonnangatta, and elsewhere – though I do not relish finding a couple of corpses: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/search-for-missing-campers-on-secret-rendezvous-continues/news-story/a09f612e46c0bc13210515ddc9ba0162

PS: Some other thoughts: I said the perpetrator almost certainly used a ‘ute’ to take the bodies away (or possibly a station wagon) indicating that it was unlikely to have been a tray – as if he were alone it would be practically impossible to load two bodies onto a tray. A station wagon would also be very difficult as it is quite a dead-lift. You could use eg a dual cab ute’s tail-gate to facilitate dragging the bodies up the incline formed when you drop it down onto the tow-bar for example, or propped against a piece of wood maybe. It would require quite a lot of strength. I know I have had to move dead sheep from the paddock, and a person would be a longer more difficult object to move than a sheep. (In the same way people who try to display their ‘hunting prowess’ by posting photos of stags on the backs of their tray vehicles obviously give themselves away as poachers in this way. You cannot drag a dead deer far, nor get it up onto the tray by yourself without throwing the winch rope over an overhanging tree – ie it was obviously shot on the road under the lights. Not much of a trophy!) It is extremely unlikely that a woman or a diminutive man could have done this. Then when ‘he’ was dumping the bodies he would have had to drag them off into the bush. This implies bush that is not too thick for walking more or less upright, and it is really unlikely you would/could drag two bodies more than 50 metres, if even that far. The police drones have not found the bodies where they are not, but they might find them where they are by searching along the (main three) tracks in and out of the Wonnangatta either on foot or using their drones - as the bodies clearly have to be dumped before you return to ‘civilisation’. If they find the bodies there might be some ballistic evidence still if they were shot – though if they were shot (clearly with a hunting round – otherwise the bullets would have passed through them and be found by police metal detectors) surely you would hack the bullets out of them where you dumped them. Either a single perpetrator (some lone, crazed opportunistic killer – so unlikely) is involved or someone who knew at least one of the victims, or spotlighters killed them – in which case there were likely two, as it is difficult to drive and hold a spotlight at the same time, and if you had to stop to take a shot you would have most likely noticed you weren’t shooting a deer! Police should be able to get one of the two spotlighters to dob the other in for a sufficient enticement. If it was someone known to them, then it would most likely be some other paramour of the woman, as the man’s wife is clearly elderly too and unlikely to be able to drag an lift the bodies etc. There should be very few suspects and the police ought to have apprehended one by now.

09/05/2020: Tyvek Solar Reflector: The wonders of Tyvek once again! This device boosts the electrical output of my solar panels by approximately X+  times (and weighs approx 28 grams). Tyvek reflectivity is just about as good as it gets: 97% eg as compared with white titanium dioxide paint at 95.5% so it is perfectly suitable for this application.

The reflector has approx 6 times the surface area of the panel, so I am hopeful I will get a significant boost. I may not get such a good result out of this prototype because the output of the panel may be amperage limited – so too the batteries I am trying to charge. If I get significant improvement I will be trying a larger version whose solar panel has two outlets, and I will move on from there: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/05/09/tyvek-solar-reflector/

03/05/2020: The Creek #1: We have a lovely unnamed creek here at Jeeralang Junction (I like to call it ‘Sawyer’s Gully’ after the original selectors here) which rises high in the forest valley behind and winds through the bottom of our farm. Not long after we came here nearly thirty years ago I hacked a path through the blackberries along the roadside from our front gate down to where the road crosses it. Slowly I gnawed away at the brambles and rubbish till I reached our rear boundary. Each day’s work was a revelation. There has been a lot of clearing, dam maintenance and tree planting since then. Years ago I made a 3 km loop trail through the fern gullies behind our house. Over the years it has been neglected but I recently thought I would use some of the enforced time of the the corona lock-down to re-establish it.: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/05/03/the-creek-1/

01/05/2020: Superlight Hunting Pack, 193 Grams: You don’t have to spend a fortune or carry around a tonne of bricks to secure a wonderful hunting/hiking backpack. I recently bought three of these Clever Lees 35 Litre Backpacks from Aliexpress. They cost me around US$14 each (April 2020) about twice what I would have paid had I lived in the US! As you can see from the Specs they weigh a mere 305 grams. I intended to cut one down but then add an extension collar and pad holder. After I cut it down it weighed 184 grams and after I added the 8 litre extension collar it now weighs 193 grams – not too bad for a (approx) 40 litre hiking pack. This will suit Della well and will be fine for me as a hunting day or weekend pack. Well, fine for 3-4 days surely?

30/04/2020: Do You Need a Bug Net or a Tent Floor: If you have been following this blog and particularly my DIY tent/shelters etc you will realise I don’t think you do. I have slept under the stars collectively for several years of my life  – more than enough for a dozens of  ‘through-hikes’ which are things I would probably never do, as I dislike tracks and crowds. https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/04/30/do-you-need-a-bug-net-or-a-tent-floor/

29/04/2020: Ultralight Ultracheap Rain Fly: Can’t make your own? How about this one? 310 grams US$30.25. You couldn’t make it for this. Of course you can’t use it as a hammock tarp as well like mine but it is the beginning of a good cheap hiking kit. You can pair it with a bathtub floor and mosquito net set-up very cheaply too, but I think you can get by with a 50 gram space blanket for a groundsheet, and they cost around $2 each (on eBay etc). https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/04/26/ultralight-ultracheap-rain-fly/


29/04/2020: 250 Years (Tomorrow) since Captain Cook landed at Botany nay. 50 years ago (in 1970) even the Queen was here to celebrate this momentous event in Australia’s history; one of the greatest journeys of discovery of all time, and probably the most awesome feat of navigation, and cool-headedness – yet this year, nothing. How shameful is that? The rewriters of our history have had an awful impact.

28/04/2020: Cheap Ultralight Bathtub Floor: I was thinking of making one of these for my new Deer Hunter’s Tent but at US$27 and a quite reasonable weight of  180 grams single ( 31 1/2″ x 7′ ie 80 x 210 cm) or 227 grams double (7′ x 4′ ie 210 x 120 cm) I might not bother. https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/04/26/cheap-ultralight-bathtub-floor/

25/04/2020: Deer Hunter’s Tent #2: A tent that is also a tarp and a hammock shelter. This tent has been evolving in my head for a number of years and I realise that some of you are impatient that you have not been able to buy one or other of its iterations. However your wait might soon be over. Be that as it may here is my latest and I believe best version of it: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/04/25/deer-hunters-tent-2/

25/04/2020: Two reasons I may never visit Machu Picchu:

23/04/2020: Te Araroa: The Longest (NZ) Walk. When the crisis is over you might spend a few months less enjoyably than this: https://www.nzgeo.com/stories/the-longest-walk/

21/04/2020: An C18th .50 calibre air rifle which could punch 30 rounds through a target over 100 yards away: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/04/20/merewether-lewiss-air-rifle/

19/04/2020: Vale Westie, a Real Fiordland Legend: You have probably seen my posts about Westies Hut and about that section of the South Coast Track. We have stayed in the remarkable hut in a sea cave at Price’s harbour – and hope to do so again, next time for a slightly longer period, despite the sandflies. I doubt we will be staying for 8 years though, as Owen West its eponymous ‘creator’ who has recently died did. Though the hut was begun by Southland fisherman ‘Slack’ Dawson much of the final construction was done by Westie and more recently much work has been done by Cliff and Ann McDermott of Invercargill and others.

Once the lockdown ends and  we can go to NZ again we will be heading for the South Coast Track again or the Dusky, moose hunting.

Some Westie’s Hut eye candy:


18/04/2020: A Folding Plastic Kayak at around US$300 and 13 kg. Just great if you are short of storage space: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/04/18/tucktek-folding-kayak/


14/04/2020: The new Deer Hunter's Tent. Just about finished. See post: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/04/11/miniature-whelen-hammock-tent/

13/04/2020: South Coast Track: Two ‘I wish’(s) this morning in my facebook memories. This one from 2015: ‘The next hiking adventure begins! Heading off today to conquer the South Coast Track of New Zealand for 6 days with only our backpacks and stamina. Stay tuned for pics and reports when we return to civilization. (NB this pic is an old one of Steve and I attempting to conquer the south coast track in Tasmania (same name, different island!) a few years ago; now we are older and wiser, ...will that help??? :) ) The weather forecast is not particularly auspicious, with a reasonable dose of rain expected, but what are raincoats for?! Wish us luck! http://www.doc.govt.nz/…/things-t…/tracks/south-coast-track/’ and this one from 2016: ‘South Coast Track, Fiordland, NZ: Finally finding time to go through the pix. Internet availability being what it is in wilderness areas, I missed the chances to post pix on a daily basis, so I will do a daily selection now we are home to mirror the days on the track.
Day one was totally passive, involving a jet boat ride over the beautiful Lake Hauroko and then helter-skelter down the fast-running Wairaurahiri River to the sea. There we stayed overnight in lovely wilderness accommodation and prepared our packs for the big walk ahead.’ Catch up with them here: South Coast Track, Fiordland, NZ: Finally finding time to go through the pix. Internet availability being what it is in wilderness areas, I missed the chances to post pix on a daily basis, so I will do a daily selection now we are home to mirror the days on the track.’ Catch up with them here: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2016/04/25/south-coast-track-fiordland-nz-dellas-version/

13/04/2020: Wild Dogs in the Wonnangatta: I agree with Andrew Rule that sooner or later the lost campers  would have been eaten by wild dogs: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/andrew-rule/andrew-rule-missing-high-country-campers-revive-centuryold-tragedy/news-story/22c177ddb2f89cfe558e8e87e621715e I have been hunted by packs of them in there myself – and would never camp in the Victorian mountains without a gun! They were much worse before last year’s fires which seemed to have thinned them down a but. I expect to encounter several packs of them in there every trip, like this one back in 2013 with my old dog Tiny: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2013/09/29/hunting-the-wonnangatta-moroka/ More about Tiny here: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/02/23/a-tiny-life/ For many weeks this was my most popular post. People love dogs. I know I do. But not wild dogs.

12/04/2020: I am spending my Easter lock down making a new Whelen tent. Stay tuned here: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/04/11/miniature-whelen-hammock-tent/

11/04/2020: I have come up with a seam which is easier to make than a flat-felled seam when you are making a tarp or tent: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2016/09/04/hammock-hunting-till-dark/

09/04/2020: Another Wonnangatta Mystery. I have been there so often - up to half a dozen trips a year for the last nearly twenty years. I know the area well where these two have disappeared. The torched tent is the worst distraction. It may mean nothing, just an odd co-incidence. One hopes there is not another murderer on the loose there (as in 1912 – I always suspected Harry Smith myself, but we are unlikely to ever know). I suspect a sequence of unfortunate accidents this time: a fall perhaps followed by the inability to return to camp, then exposure, but the fire is weird and may indicate foul play I suppose. It is also astonishing that the police search failed to find anything – how far would an elderly couple have travelled on foot from their camp? They could not have canoed from where they were. It is unlikely to be the same murderer as in 1912 in any case. Normally the area would be alive with campers and deer hunters at Easter but it would have been very quiet there over the last month and will remain so. It is the most remote spot in Victoria yet I can usually walk from where they disappeared down to ‘civilisation’ in a very busy 2-3 days. If you were lost and still a smoker – or anyway had matches, you should survive, and following the river out would seem a reasonable choice to become ‘un-lost’. Strangely though people do not behave at all rationally when they are lost, so it is hard to predict where you will find them: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-06/search-ends-for-wonnangatta-campers-missing-since-march-20/12123290 Lost person behaviour here: https://profoundjourney.com/13-facts-lost-person-behaviour/ PS: I like that the guy's wife has come out and accused him of being a 'silly bugger' as she thought he was camping alone! Oh, what a tangled web...

29/03/2020: Instructions for making an ultralight stuff sack: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/03/29/diy-stuff-sacks/

27/03/2020: My new DIY tent. Something to keep your mind off things. It is the silnylon version of my recent 10 x 10 tarp. It can be used (two ways) as a tent and two ways as a hammock tarp as well - and weighs under 600 grams. It cost me less than $20: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/03/27/silnylon-hammock-tent/

26/03/2020: I wish. My post from this day in 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.’ See my posts about it here: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/03/05/from-dawn-to-dusky/ It will be a welcome relief even if we can’t be there at thre moment, perhaps ever again.

17/03/2020: How to Make a Tent Pole: I made a sub one ounce hand saw for this purpose, but this is even easier than sawing a branch to length: You can cut approx 10″ (25 cm) of 1″ (25mm) poly pipe to join two hiking poles like this. I used standard ‘rural C’ grade poly pipe  https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/03/16/how-to-make-a-tent-pole/

16/03/2020: Lighting a Fire in the Wet #2: It is no trouble to light a fire with a large magnifying glass when the sun is shining in a clear sky, but it is a different matter if the lens is small or if only brief, occasional gleams of sun come through gaps in the clouds. It can be done quite easily, however, by taking into account elementary physics. White or light-coloured surfaces reflect heat, so with a very small lens or under poor conditions it is useless to try to light a piece of paper, a leaf, or dry grass. But black absorbs heat and therein lies the whole secret of success.

This can be demonstrated in a striking way by using a prospector's lens, no larger than a 2-cent piece, or the almost as small eyepiece from .a pocket telescope or pair of binoculars. Wait until the lower rim of the sun is just touching the horizon—the time when least heat is received from it—and then focus the rays on a piece of black tinder made from cotton cloth. Within 2 or 3 seconds the tinder will start to glow. The same thing happens when the sun gleams for a second or two through a gap in driving clouds.

If no tinder is available, use a tiny ball of cotton thread taken from the clothing, or some very fine threads of grass leaf or inner fibrous bark, bone dry and blackened by thorough rubbing between the finger and thumb with a scrap of old, soft charcoal.

Lighting a "fire in wet weather is another art which must be mastered. The worst conditions are those under which so many of our troops lived, ate, slept, fought, and died in the jungles of New Guinea. Through the steamy green gloom of the rain forest the tall columns of the trees rise to a thick ceiling of leaves. Their trunks are festooned with a tangle of lianas and canes. Underfoot is a mat of sodden leaves and all the fallen timber is like a wet and rotten sponge. Only too often, especially in the afternoon, the rain streams down, hour after hour. To get a fire going to cook some food or make tea under these conditions might seem impossible, but it can be done by those who know what to do.

In the rain forests of Queensland there is a tree whose wood burns when green. It is the 'kerosene tree' or ghittoe (Hal-fordia) whose heartwood is filled with minute specks of resin. It is identified by the absence of root buttresses, and by large, yellow-barked roots which twist about on the surface of the surrounding soil. The leaves are small, dark green, and resemble the fruit of a fig tree in outline.

A slab is split off the trunk of a ghittoe—a tough job, for it is one of the hardest timbers in the world and it cannot be done without an axe. Some of the saffron-yellow heartwood must be included. Little splinters of this heartwood are stuck in the ground in a circle with their tops touching, like the framework of an Indian tepee. Larger splinters are added, then pieces of wood the size of a pencil. The match is applied to the fine inner splinters through a gap left for the purpose.

It should be laid in a sheltered spot among the root buttresses of a big tree, as a little puff of wind will extinguish it when first lit. It is also necessary to stick the splinters firmly into the ground, because it will not burn if laid flat in the ordinary way. Although ghittoe wood is the best of them, there are other woods in the rain forests of Queensland, as well as in New Guinea, New Britain, and other tropical countries, which will burn green if the fire is laid in the way described.

They can be identified by asking natives to point them out, or by experimenting with splinters of the heartwood.

Another method in the Queensland rain forests is to look for the blue kauri pine, Agatbis palmerstonii. It can be distinguished from the brown kauri, Agathis robusta, because the trunk of the former is mottled with bluish patches, while the latter is a dull brown. When one of these trees is found, see if it has a broken limb—most kauris have one or two. Stand directly under the end of a broken branch and scrape away the leaves. Lumps of hard, glassy resin which have dripped from the stump will be found; they range in size from a walnut to a football. Even when wet, a chip of this gum will light with a single match and bum with a hot but smoky flame like that of rubber. A few chips will boil a billy of water.

In the rain forests of other tropical countries, members of the pine family of trees will be found which yield inflammable gum in the same way.

In the forests of southern Australia, look for trees such as the jarrah of Western Australia or the stringybark of the south and east of South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales. Tear off strips of bark and rub the inner layer into bull's wool. Wherever the blackboy, yacca, or grasstree grows, dry kindling can be obtained in wet weather by breaking off the dry, dead leaves which have been sheltered by the overhanging green ones. Porcupine grass (Triodia) burns green.

In very wet weather, little can be done with dead sticks gathered from the ground, as they are usually sodden. Break dead sticks off she-oaks or other casuarinas, from some of the wattles, particularly the blackwood, Acacia melanoxylon, or almost any of the gumtrees. If they are very wet, split them down the centre. The gidgee (Acacia cambagei) of the northwest of New South Wales and western Queensland, or any of the mulgas of the inland, are particularly good in this way.

Fire-lighting under adverse conditions is one of the most important of all things to the bushcraft student.

To bank up a fire in wet weather, so as to have hot coals for the morning, obtain some big banksia cones if possible. These were known as mangait (mahn-gah-eet) to the Aborigines of the south-west of Western Australia. Place some in the centre of the fire, fan until well alight, let them burn for a time, then cover completely with ashes and place a sheet of bark on the top to shield from the rain. In the morning, fan away the ashes and the mangaits will start to glow.

The same thing can be done with the chunky ends of hardwood logs. If gidgee wood is obtainable, it is merely necessary to put one end of a small log in the fire. It will smoulder away through the rest of the night without bursting into flame, burning only on the underside if it is raining heavily.

To carry fire from one spot to another some distance away, it is useless to try to do it with a single stick, unless it is a dry water-root from a gumtree or a stick of gidgee. Use two sticks with the burning ends together, as shown in the sketch. This is the Aboriginal method. It also helps to keep one warm when walking on a bitterly cold day. The sticks should be waved to and fro by swinging the arm while walking, to fan the burning ends. The drawback to it is the way in which the flying sparks burn holes in the clothing.

Carrying fire-sticks

I have seen Aborigines in central Australia with the skin of their upper arms, chests, and abdomens pitted with marks similar to smallpox scars, caused by the burns inflicted by sparks from their pairs of firesticks.

15/03/2020: Backpack Tips and Tricks. Most everyone's backpack is hopeless as well as too heavy. There is a better way: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/03/15/backpack-tips-and-tricks/


14/03/2020: Lay Flat Kettle and Pudding Bowl Stove: Some more great ideas from 'Tim the Tinker'. 'Winter is coming' as they say, so it is time to sharpen up your winter tent and tipis designs and complete your experiments in how to heat them effectively: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/03/11/lay-flat-kettle-and-pudding-bowl-stove/

14/03/2020: Lay Flat Kettle and Pudding Bowl Stove: Some more great ideas from ‘Tim the Tinker‘. ‘Winter is coming’ as they say, so it is time to sharpen up your winter tent and tipis designs and complete your experiments in how to heat them effectively.

It is a pure delight to be out and about in our wonderful Victorian fastnesses, (for example) chasing the wily sambar in the clear cold days of winter, but it is even more delightful at the end of the day to be able to dry off  clothes and self, to have a hot meal and any number of hot drinks and gather around a toasty fire out of the wind to yarn about the day’s adventures, times past, absent friends – and sort out all the problems of the world! First though you must perfect the art of lighting a fire in the wet and making tinder.

I was already mightily impressed by Tim’s wonderful ‘lay-flat’ kettle which weighs a mere 31 grams for a 700 ml capacity. It is an ingenious idea which I have known would work since I saw the astonishing Prof Sumner-Miller on TV when I was a lad demonstrating that you could boil water in a paper cup, but I had not thought to actually make one for myself. Tim has – well done Tim. Here is how he made it out of copper foil, silylon and silicone: https://timtinker.com/lay-flat-kettle/  and here it is boiling 2-3 cups of water:

Della and I used to see and talk to Prof Sumner-Miller practically every day when we were students at Sydney Uni back in the early 70s. What an enchanting man he was. His TV show ‘Why Is It So?’ has never been bettered. You can still catch some of the episodes on Youtube.

Here is the kettle lying flat:

Here is a delightful little video of water boiling in the lay-flat kettle over the pudding bowl stove:

Tim also has his Instagram page (above) with lots of illustrations of his DIY ideas. You should check it out: https://www.instagram.com/telemarktim/

In his post linked above he considers the various features of the Pudding Bowl Stove and his new Miniature Dome Stove. Like his stove I described before (see links below) all these stoves are very light. He is concentrating on stoves which will weigh .5-1.0 kg such that the whole thing including chimney can easily be carried on or in your backpack for winter (snow) camping.

The stoves are intended for both cooking and providing enough warmth for convivial evenings in the tent/tipi. They output around 1,000 watts of heat which is surprising for such a small stove using only 400 grams of twigs an hour.

They certainly convince me to have a DIY attempt at a small stainless steel stove which can maybe stoked and shut down enough to only need refueling every 3-4 hours. Stay posted.

Here is his Miniature Dome Stove hard at work:

The Instagram video (below) https://www.instagram.com/p/B8nkT_AhlQn/  shows how it can be used as a tent stove, blower stove or alcohol; stove all in the one little package:

These stoves are made from easily purchased stainless steel cookware or lunch tins etc. The chimneys he makes himself from Titanium foil. They are ingenious and extremely light.

He will make one for you for a fee, so you should contact him if your are interested. The chimney would be especially attractive as it is difficult to obtain the titanium foil to make it anyway.

The temperature of the stove can be higher than 350C but the temperature at the top of the short chimney is only around 100C so that a DIY Peltier electric generator would work there with one side in the near freezing air. This would be good for providing illumination and charging your various devices just as a by-product of eating and staying warm. More about that later…

See how hot they get here:

He also has instructions for making a ‘Tent Flue Gland‘ to prevent the tent from being melted by the chimney, and many other wonderful things such as Lay-Flat Handles, for example. You can spend many hours of enchantment exploring his site.

Lay flat handle laid flat in backpacking position.

You should remember that this man has journeyed (likely for longer than you have been alive) easily on skis in winter and camped out safely and comfortably for many days in the snows on our mountain tops, something which would be the death of less experienced or foolish folk – so there is much to learn from him, particularly  perhaps if you think about harvesting a sambar stag above the snowline one beautiful winter’s day in the future…

Here you can see one of his winter camps in one of his DIY tents. Note the chimney:

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I don’t usually camp in the snow so I find it safer and easier to have an open fire outside my tent. I have been fiddling with my tarps  https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2019/09/06/two-great-poly-tarp-configurations/ & especially https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2019/09/24/10-by-10-tarp-update/over the last few days in preparation for a trip to Mt Darling (we hope), but I will get back to a tent stove as I develop my tipis (https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2019/05/25/seamless-tyvek-tipi/) I have added some additional tie-outs and am now up to the point of making the 10 x 10 out of silnylon which will save me 200 grams.

I should have a very roomy tent for two (with a floor), the ability to have a fire out the front and to fasten it down completely if rain comes from all directions which will weigh all up (ie guys and pegs too) under 500 grams. It can also be a much larger shelter (if pitched diagonally) and a fully enclosed hammock tarp for one or an open hammock tarp for two.

You must certainly avoid this:


09/03/2020: Enchanting tricks you can use weather radar for: https://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2020/03/weather-radar-shows-spring-bird.html

07/03/2020: A stupendous photo but not exactly the ‘green hills of earth’ is it: https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/figures/PIA23623_fig1.jpg


06/03/2020: New Evidence of Fiordland Moose: New Sighting Below: Some time back I was contacted by a young journalist, Charlie Mitchell from Stuff, New Zealand. I helped him out as much as I could from my experiences. Over the last two days I have been thrilled to read and see what he has put together of the continued existence of this wonderful herd. There are other moose hunters out there as well. That is good news.

Les Murrrell’s two bulls in the Seaforth River, 1927.

There have been two authentic DNA confirmations of the NZ moose this century. Only last year (May 2017) I encountered fresh browse and fresh moose scent in the Hauroko Burn.

Eventually someone’s hard work will pay off with authenticated footage of one of these ‘gentle giants’. Of course everyone involved hopes it will be their photos which reveal this strange carry-over from an ancient era lurking in the primeval forests of New Zealand. I will be having another crack at finding them myself if my fitness and finances hold up. I will keep you posted.

Meanwhile you can find Charlie’s two fine articles here:



See also my posts, eg here:




PS: Here is the link to the 2020 sighting Alex Gale (below comments) refers to today (05 March 2020). It sounds pretty genuine to me too:.

04/03/2020: DIY Ultralight Pillow: 27 grams as pictured. I have been using this pillow every night now for months. It has been the most comfortable pillow I have ever used.

It started its life like this:

You should have a go at cutting down a pillow or mat to size yourself. Unfortunately the valve on this cheap pillow was not very satisfactory. It had a bad habit of separating into three (easily lost) pieces, so I have been casting around for an alternative.

Della had busted the insides of her Exped ultralight pillow (since replaced with a new one) by sitting on it in the canoe for days on end. Not made for that! Although up to now it has been the best hiking pillow I have ever owned.

Her trashing hers  gave me the raw materials to try something else. So I cut it down to a very similar shape, as you can see, and sealed it up with a very hot iron.

It now looks like this. It has a much better valve:

You only need a very small amount of air in it:  

It weighs a mere 27 grams now (down from its exorbitant 45!) There’s another 19 grams off my pack weight. As I said recently it will be carrying me soon. The way I’m going it will probably have to!

And is as comfy as anything. Though it may not look so on the floor. A better model might also help! I always thought I needed a bigger pillow too. I was wrong. So are you.

I have found one or two cheaper pillows with  more satisfactory valves on Amazon though (for around US$17 – Mar 2020). They won’t be anywhere near as light as this one. They will give you something to play with though. Give it a try!

Here’s one of them

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Lots of Other DIY Hiking Ideas

 29/02/2020: About (that plague) of cute koalas. We live hard up against the Strzelecki forest outlined in the article. There really are plagues of koalas (wombats, swamp wallabies and foxes) here: https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/doomed-planet/2020/02/bushfires-and-koalas-its-not-that-simple/

29/02/2020: Listen: The Sound Of The Hagia Sophia, More Than 500 Years Ago – you can really understand why some folks go to church: https://www.npr.org/2020/02/22/808404928/listen-the-sound-of-the-hagia-sophia-more-than-500-years-ago

28/02/2020: Tinder: This is a gem from yesteryear. So much useful survival knowledge is all-but lost: ‘Fire Without Matches: More nonsense has been said and written on the subject of lighting fires without matches than on any other—except, of course, the birth of the kangaroo. How can one tell, by reading what a man has written about it, that he couldn’t make it work if challenged to give a demonstration? Quite easily, and it can be summed up in six words.- ‘The age of miracles is past”.

It would be nothing short of a miracle if a fire could be lit by some of the methods described. This is an example: ‘Sparks struck off the flint by the steel are caught on dry grass or cotton threads and are then blown into flame’. It is incorrect in two ways. The spark comes from the steel, not the flint. It is a speck of metal, heated to incandescence by some of the energy expended in the blow of the steel against a stone even harder than itself.

Further, no matter how many of these sparks are rained on to dry grass, cotton, bark, and similar stuff, they will never ignite it. Apart from gunpowder, never used nowadays in the Army, and highly inflammable vapours such as those from petrol and alcohol, those sparks will ignite nothing except tinder.

When bushcraft training began in the Army, we were faced with the problem of making tinder from a substance which a serviceman would have with him, or could find in the bush. This ruled out the use of chemicals such as saltpetre or chlorate of potash. A round was made of technical schools and the university; old text-books from public library vaults were consulted without success. Tinder-making without chemicals seemed to be a lost art. Then a senior officer, who held an arts and not a science degree, hit upon a simple solution.

‘No use going to orthodox schools and universities,’ he said, smiling. ‘Try a different kind of educational establishment— the jail.’

‘We’ve got the man you want locked up now,” said the jail superintendent. ‘No matter how thoroughly we search him, he can always light a smoke in his cell. Mandrake’s got nothing on him. I’ll get him for you.’

Old Bob was suspicious at first but when told why the information was required he took me out of sight and hearing of the warders and parted with all his secrets. He did more than talk about it; he demonstrated everything as he went along. That old man had been in custody for most of his life, but he did more for the troops than many of those who have never seen the inside of a jail. Thousands of soldiers had reason to bless him when the matches gave out.

If flint is unobtainable, any hard rock will do; quartz, chert, chalcedony, etc. For the striker, carbon steel must be used, such as the back of a knife, a safety razor blade, or a piece of a file. Alloy steels such as a hacksaw blade will not do, neither will soft iron. The only substitute which occurs naturally is iron pyrites, the hard and brassy ore sometimes mistaken for gold by amateur prospectors. Best results in this case are achieved by striking one piece of pyrites against another, but even so the sparks are dull red instead of at white heat and it is often necessary to do a great deal of hammering before the tinder catches.

An airtight, waterproof container is necessary for the tinder. The ordinary boot polish tin is the easiest to obtain, but if cut off from all the resources of civilisation a substitute must be found. Prehistoric man in Europe used a hollow bone fitted with a wooden plug. A member of the A.I.F., cut off by the Japanese advance, used a short length of bamboo fitted with a stopper.

The best tinder is made from a piece of cotton cloth, washed to remove dirt, sweat, and grease, then dried thoroughly. First scour the tin with sand, dry earth, or ashes to remove any traces of polish. Place it on the ground with the lid beside it. Light a small fire, take a piece of the cotton cloth about the size of a handkerchief, place it across a couple of sticks and hold it over the fire, out of contact with the flames. This makes sure that it is dry.

As soon as it starts to scorch, let it take fire. It will flare up. As the last of the flame is dying out, lower it into the tin, pack it down with two sticks and at once put on the lid. When it has cooled, remove the lid and the tinder is revealed as black, fragile flakes. If cotton cloth is not available, substitutes can be found in wild cotton, taken from the ripe pods, thistledown, the silky threads from the fruits of the kapok tree, or the brown fluff from the base of the leaves of the palm-like Macrozamia, but this last-named substance must be first boiled to remove the gum and then dried.

Tease any of these substances into a large ball, light it, and at once pack into the tin and put the lid on, as they burn very rapidly. Another substitute is the large, white, bread-like fungus (punk) found growing on trees, or the pith found inside some species of reeds. Break both into little chips, then heat on a piece of tin held over a fire or on a hot stone. As soon as they are glowing, rake into the tinderbox and put on the lid.

All these forms of tinder ignite at the touch of a spark because the cellulose in them has been reduced to a mass of carbon filaments, through excluding the air at the critical point in the initial combustion.

To light a fire with tinderbox, flint, and steel, have ready what the bushman calls ‘bull’s wool’—dry grass or bark rubbed to fluff, coconut fibre, or anything else of the kind, as well as a heap of kindling sticks. Place the tinder-box on the ground with the lid off, hold the piece of stone between the thumb and finger of the left hand and about 8 centimetres above the tinder. Take the steel between the thumb and forefinger of the right hand and strike a light, quick blow with the edge of the steel across a sharp angle of the stone. Move the steel parallel to the ground; do not strike downward, as this is likely to hit the tin and scatter the contents, with unfortunate results if the ground is wet and the tinder becomes damp.

Flint and steel outfit

A shower of sparks will fly off if the blow is struck in the right way and the tinder will glow where any touch it. Pick out a burning piece of tinder and put the lid on the tin at once, for otherwise the rest of the tinder will burn to ash within half a minute. Put the burning tinder in the middle of a small bunch of bull’s wool, blow on it gently until it takes fire, and poke it under the heap of sticks.

In passing: I first introduced these boot polish tin, piece of quartz, and safety razor blade outfits in Western Australia in 1942. A few months later, in Queensland, I found them in general use, as soldiers had sent samples and instructions home to their families. They definitely helped to overcome the wartime shortage of matches for civilian use. It furnishes a modern example of the spread of knowledge known as culture diffusion to anthropologists’.

From, ‘The Bushman’s Handbook’ by H.A. Lindsay. Harold Lindsay was a survival instructor with the Australian and American troops during World war 2.

PS: I always carry something to help start a fire: a couple of esbits and a scrap of bicycle inner tube and of course I use a metho stove so I always have a bit of that too. You should read the post How to Light a Fire in the Wet.

PPS These lightweight aluminium cans would be excellent for your tinder.

23/02/2020: Another Cheap Hiking Mat: The Vertex Mattress (which includes a pillow) at 450 grams, generously sized 74.8” x 22.8” with a reasonable R-rating for warmer weather of R 4.2 and an excellent price of US$39.99 (Feb 2020) would have to be good value. If you are shorter like  Della and I are you could easily cut this down to 5’6″ (397 grams) or even 5′ (360 grams) to save some weight – yet you still have that generous extra 2.8″ of width. This would be good practice for other DIY heat sealing projects such as pillows and pack rafts. You even get a free fire starter! I cannot spot the height – looks to be about 2″. If you are on a budget this could be for you. In the colder months you could pair it with a cheap closed cell foam mat to add a couple of R-points. Lots of folks at the bottom of Vertex’s page seem happy with it. You might pair it with these cheap down sleeping bags and coats.

PS: You may be eligible for a 10% discount right now (Feb 2020).

This post continues a series about budget hiking. Here are some of the others:







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PS: The pillow I made has become my favourite. I have slept on it every night since i made it around a year ago.

21/02/2020: Amps are Everything: It’s hard to find a solar panel which fits on top of a backpack nd can reliably charge eg an 18650 battery/powerbank. This one from Aliexpress looks pretty good.



It is 275 x 150 mm  (10 ¾” x 6”) and weighs:141 grams. so it should just fit on top of your pack. It puts out 2 amps at 5 volts (10 watts) so it should technically just about charge a single 18650 in an hour supposing you can find a 2 amp charger and cord to go with it. It might be safer to charge two 18650s together at 1 amp through a 2-3 amp charging cord but if hooked up to a 1 amp charger it should do the job safely in just over two hours.


Even on the top of your backpack you should get the equivalent of two hours of bright sunshine dut=ring the course eg of an eight hour hiking day. The 3700 milliamp hours available from a single 1860 battery ought to be enough to charge a small phone, camera battery and torch each day. Given that most of these will only need charging at mst every second day that should be quite enough to keep them topped up and any other electrical gadgets such as an emergency sat phone/communicator and emergency radio text messager such as the Go tenna. At US$12.90 delivered (Feb 2019) it is worth a try.


The diameter of the charging cord is vital to successful charging. Wires are measured in AWG (gauges) the lwer the number being the thicker, as seen below


https://ae01.alicdn.com/kf/H4dcbd861c0be4d5fa7ce94fac98682f8n.jpg https://ae01.alicdn.com/kf/H4dcbd861c0be4d5fa7ce94fac98682f8n.jpg



https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/wire-gauges-d_419.html Here are some cheap 3 amp charging cables (pictured above 5 for US 6.99).


You need to check what amperage your (eg 18650) batteries can handle and how many amps your charger delivers to each battery. Many such batteries can handle around 1.7 amps (each) so that a power bank/charger) which contains two such batteries and can take 3 amps should be fine. I am using the 18650GA flat tops in mine.


Such a charger should charge the two batteries, approximately 12 watts each  (at 5 watts times 1.5 amps each = 7.5 watts per hour) in a bit over an hour and a half. It is quite difficult to find a power bank/charger which delivers more than 1 amp each to the contained batteries. The batteries are always wired in parallel so the current is divided between the batteries.


Indeed it it diffcult enough to find one which delivers 1 amp each (.5 amp is more typical) Now perhaps you see why your device/s take so long to charge. Practically all my charging cables proved to be 28AWG wire and so delivered at most .5 amps. As you can see the one above is 20 awg wire and will deliver 3 amps plus to the power bank/charger. There are other cables which promise to deliver 5 amps. Of course length/weight is also a factor.


18/02/2020: The Sleeping Bag Re-Imagined: The wild idea races far ahead of the imagined object. For many years (for me) I tossed up between hammock and tent camping using a 7' x 7' and a 169 gram (including suspension rope) Nano hammock tarp for hammocking, then I started rigging my 8' X 8' cuben tarp for either purpose, but it was only really good for one person as a ground shelter -  sometimes the only choice because of the absence of suitable trees - though I attached 'wings' to it so we could use it for either in a pinch.

You can see here how we used to use it here - and it only weighs 200 grams! I am swinging back to silnylon and silpoly instead of cuben fibre though for various reasons, cost (!) for one, but durability also. Now that Tenacious Tape can be used for repairs and waterproof sinylon fabrics are available in 1 oz/yd2 and even .77 oz/yd2 and are much more durable I just don't see the point. I am sick and tired of my cuben fibre stuff sacks shredding just as I tired of my cuben fibre packs doing the same a few years back and am making new silnylon ones.

It is much nicer to have my lovely wife Della's company but sometimes we are forced to take to the trees as the ground is so wet, so how to do this in the lightest way possible? Lightweight hammocks and suspensions for one thing.  My new tent/tarp coupled with my double bunking hammock swing solves all these problems - and I daresay we can also use the tarp as the skin of an emergency boat to get ourselves across swollen rivers in our path if the need arises. Multiple use is what it's all about.

I chose my current sleeping bag (that's it above) because it shape-shifts to fit and has plenty of room for my shoulders and arms - and of course it's light, around 550 grams for -2C. I am quite fond of it but it does not thermo -regulate as I imagine future materials might (and be just as comfy from minus to plus 40C) though we have added down to one of mine to make it suitable for trips to Everest. Nor (I think) can it be used to catch fish (as I think future sleeping bags might) or fit in your breast pocket (as they did in Heinlein's 'Tunnel in the Sky' What a great book - download it here).

What other wonders might future sleeping bags have? Could they be waterproof enough so that you could lie in a pool in the rain yet breathable enough so they were bone-dry inside? Could they catch your perspiration, and re-purify it as drinking water like the stillsuits in Frank Herbert's 'Dune'? Could you use one as a parachute? Could they double as clothing? There are already some interesting make-overs to have this happen. I know it is a no-brainer that you can wrap yourself in it  of a cold evening before bed. It would be excellent if they were fire-proof so that you did not either melt holes in them around the campfire or when cooking and you could roll yourself in one to save yourself during a wildfire.

In the meantime I am surprised that 1000 fill power down bags are not available yet. This is an obvious weight saving. You should be able to get a zipperless bag made of lightweight materials suitable for around 0C at a weight under 400 grams I would have thought.

13/02/2020: Paper Maps App: This is a great App I have just discovered. It opens Pdf Maps and many other types.

 If you are tired of Avenza’s version of Pdf Maps only allowing you to open three maps before you hand over cash to them every year – and taking forever to open every map into the bargain (I am). I have a new phone and the trick I used before didn’t want to work, so I went hunting for another App to open Vicmaps Topographical maps in Geopdf format. I found this wonderful App.

This is Della’s favourite place (Hawick Scotland – where her ancestors resided). She won’t get lost there now. I will have to take her there again soon.

Here she is enjoying every minute of it:

It opens a map much more quickly. I guess in less than 30 seconds. Avenza maps used to take minutes, but was much faster if they were already open. It will open: GeoPDF, Geospatial PDF, GeoTIFF, JPEG, KML, KMZ and Shapefile.

You can record GPS tracks, add placemarks and photos, add data layers with schemas, Import your own maps or from Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive. 600,000 maps are available in Paper Maps App catalog including 400,000 US Topo maps, US Forest Maps, and Historic Soviet topo maps. Once you have loaded the map it works off-line – and the GPS is very fast and accurate.

Have your own map? Just use it!

Need a map for your journey? Just use one of 600,000 maps available in Paper Maps App! Add placemarks and photos. One map? Or 1,000 maps? Load and use all of them. You can also Organize data in layers or add schemas and styles.

It takes only seconds to get the hang of it. I am sold on this App: https://www.paper-maps.com/

You can download Geoscience Australia’s maps for your particular area and never get lost.

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10/02/2020: Della: 47 years married to this wonderful man, and still relishing the great adventure of our lives shared. Happy wedding anniversary, Steve Jones!

Della: 47th Wedding Anniversary dinner: I tried doing a selfie shot with both of us in it, but my smart-phone-selfie savvy is well below par, so we had to settle with recording the event in a quick shuffle of turns in the seat without the light washout. The menu was immensely exciting, but all the dishes were sadly eclipsed by the salt-shaker. Fortunately the company and the prosecco were reliably top-notch, as always!

10/02/2020: Light, Lighter, Lightest: If things keep going on like this my backpack will have negative mass and will be carrying me! ‘Lead balloons’ will soon actually exist! In fact they were first imagined ‘in 1670 by the Jesuit Father Francesco Lana de Terzi, sometimes referred to as the “Father of Aeronautics“, who published a description of an “Aerial Ship” supported by four copper spheres from which the air was evacuated’. Neat idea: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airship

Of course in reality the spheres would collapse, but we are almost ready to make spheres using graphene scaffolding which is strong enough that they can be evacuated (and refilled) to control lift – so the same may well occur with backpacks, ie backpacks with lift! It’s a wonder you cannot buy a helium lift-assist kit for heavy backpacks already. Of course they might be a bit bulky!

PS: It is somewhat of a surprise that helium actually exists anywhere on earth in that it is light and energetic enough to escape earth’s gravity – and so what does exist should be conserved for more serious purposes than party balloons! The truth is that it is created by radioactive processes deep in the earth and is trapped in certain structures in the crust (such as a few Texas oil wells whence most of the earth’s supply comes). Given that it is a super-conductor at low temperatures and may have all sorts of other strange properties (eg as a solid!) we probably should conserve it somewhat more than koala bears (which are as common as wombats around here)!

Gossammer Gear have long been pioneers in ways to reduce your pack weight. I have posted about various of their products over the years including their carbon fibre hiking poles, backpacks, Airflow Sitlight Seats Polycro Ground Sheets and so forth.

Here are some really nice lightweight ideas I found there today in their Accessories section:

These micro dripper bottles are even smaller and lighter than their earlier ones. These little guys only weigh 1.95 grams each and hold 3 mls so they are ideal for eg a small quantity of iodine or insect repellent. You should add them to your collection of small is beautiful ideas such as this and this.

This ultralight (3.5 grams) toothbrush for only a dollar deserves to join your war on weight: https://www.gossamergear.com/collections/accessories/products/toothbrush

Some natural silk floss sachets at US3.99 have to be a ‘must’ – and you could use them for fishing.

This hands-free umbrella clamp has to be a great idea at US$5.99. A  pity ‘Rambling Hemlock’ didn’t patent hers – perhaps she did.

See Also:









10/02/2020: Do you tell your children wild camping is illegal? I think this is such a good title for a post. It is up there with my post title Nuts to Leave No Trace. The Nanny State wowsers would ban all fun if they could. The author is from the UK. One thing which surprised me during our trip around Scotland last year was how much freer hikers and campers had it there than here. Scotland is 17% forest (more than Victoria) and you may walk and/or camp anywhere on it. You may also walk across private land anywhere ‘as of right’. England is more crowded and more rule-bound apparently. I am not especially looking forward to our trip there – but I guess we have to go and see where the ‘ancestors’ came from sometime.

The author has some tips about encouraging children in the worthy civil disobedience of ‘free or stealth camping’. I couldn’t agree more.

One of my all-time favourite books is Thoreau’s Walden and On the Duty of Civil Disobedience which you can download and read for free from the link. The alternative title might be more evocative for you: ‘Life in the Woods’.

Thoreau retired (c1820) to a tiny remote cabin in the woods (near Walden Pond) where he chose to live a life of simple self-sufficiency – an inspiration now to many generations of us who have essayed to emulate him. it is a great read and always on my phone when I venture into the trackless wilderness which  I often do, thank goodness.

Tom Smallwood discusses the delicate chore of telling your children that what you are doing ie camping on someone else’s land is illegal, but alright to do nonetheless. The idea of raising a tribe of such young anarchists strikes a chord with me. Here in Victoria much of our camping (eg in National Parks, & even perhaps on waterways may be technically illegal, but should be encouraged nonetheless – so long as you don’t leave a mess or spook the sheep!

See Also:






10/02/2020: 1000 FP Down Vest: Just 150 grams and US$49.92 this little guy would make the perfect partner to its big brother the Naturehike 1000 FP Down Jacket which was on sale last week, sold out (at $60!) but is back again this week for US$ 67.43 – just in case you missed out!

It has both hand warmer pockets outside and generous storage pockets inside.

These two garments with a combined weight of 324 grams will allow you to get out in really cold sub-zero weather. Get one now at Aliexpress.

See Also:



10/02/2019: 2,000 years: Seeds can last a long time: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/57817

28/01/2019: Australia Day 2019: Latrobe River near Rosedale:

25/01/2019: Della: ‘This little sweetheart was out to welcome us home as we approached our driveway this evening. We had just encountered a goanna on our afternoon walk in the local pine plantation along with a couple of echidnas and the usual handful of wallabies and roos, and I am currently listening to one of our resident possums galloping thunderously across our iron roof.
"There's no place like home," Dorothy...’


23/01/2019: Nitecore 550 Lumen Head Torch: What a great new head torch I managed to pick up from Deal Extreme  for under US$30! Equipped with a CREE XP-G3 S3 LED, the NU32 emits a bright 550 lumens extending out to 125 metres/408 feet. In addition to this primary LED, which offers four different brightness modes, the NU32 also features high-CRI auxiliary LEDs that can be activated for close-range tasks, like reading and repairs. It weighs just 98 gram/3.5 ounces including its comfortable headband. Engineered with a 1800mAh/50-hour rechargeable battery, it won’t stop during critical tasks either.

  • Maximum brightness: 550 lumens
  • Peak beam distance: 408 ft (124.4 m)
  • Peak beam intensity: 3900 cd
  • IP rating: IP67
  • Impact resistance: 3.3 ft (1 m)
  • Dimensions: 2.5 x 1.7 x 1.7 in (6.3 x 4.3 x 4.3 cm)
  • Weight: 3.51 oz (99.5 g)

Brightness Outputs

  • Turbo mode: 550 lumens, 1 hour runtime
  • High mode: 190 lumens, 17 hour runtime
  • Mid mode: 33 lumens, 50 hour runtime
  • Ultra low mode: 1 lumen, 330 hour runtime
  • Auxiliary high CRI mode: 19 lumens, 25 hour runtime
  • Red mode: 9 lumens, 38 hour runtime
  • Flashing red illumination mode: 9 lumens, 45 hour runtime
  • Beacon mode: 550 lumens
  • SOS mode: 550 lumens

Looks good with a ripe Plumcot from or garden too doesn't it? I've modelled it below:

That beard needs a trim!

They seem to have sold out at dx.com but they are incorrectly listed. They still have 10,000 of them! They also have the Nitecore HC60 Cree XM - L2 U2 1000LM LED Headlamp for US$47.95. I also picked up the new Nitecore Concept 1 1800 lumen single 18650 battery (61.9 gram) torch for US$54 - more about that later! They also have the Tube, Tiny Thumb and Tip mini rechargeable torches I wrote about before at a very reasonable price.

See Also:



I use the Tube all the time when I am hiking:


22/01/2019: Fourteen Days of White Water: The Wonnangatta-Mitchell is Victoria greatest river. It rises deep in a wonderful remote wilderness that is the heart of Gippsland and finally finishes (weeks later) at the amazing ‘Silt Jetties’ where it enters Lake King. It can be canoed (when there is sufficient water, ie approx 1.8 metres on the Waterford Gauge) from the Humffray River confluence at the base of the Wombat Spur, the beginning of the ‘Wonnangatta Station’ deep in the Alpine National Park. There are 14 easy days of delightful white water canoeing from there to the Glenaladale Bridge near Lindenow. From that bridge there is still an excellent week’s paddling  on flat water to Lake King. Along its whole length there are vast opportunities for memorable camping – and other adventures.

This weekend there will be enough water to canoe it. You need to keep a ‘weather eye’ on the rainfall patterns and river heights. This post Canoeing the Wonnangatta, Catching the Wave will help you decide.

We have canoed most sections of it many times and I have previously posted about all of the white water sections. These posts begin with a pack rafting trip from the Humffray confluence to Eaglevale. We have also been down this section in Canadian canoes a number of times. That trip mostly through a serene remote forest far from tracks, roads, habitations etc takes at least two days but would be better enjoyed over three (or more). Here are my two posts about it:

Pack Rafting the Remote Wonnangatta

The Remote Wonnangatta Day Two

We have had other adventures in there such as:

Pack Raft Saves the Day

and Home Made Pack Raft

You can easily spend three days on the section from eaglevale to the Kingwill Bridge. One recent summer we did There are also a number of opportunities to explore shorter sections of this part.

A Wonnangatta Spring

Wonnangatta Spring Day Two

Wonnangatta Spring Day Three

We have canoed the section downstream from the Kingwill Bridge to Black Snake Creek, thence to Hut Creek (Scorpion Track), and thence to the Rock of Gibraltar and Waterford numerous times beginning when our children were tiny tots over thirty years ago – and we are still enjoying it.

Kingwill Bridge to Meyers Flat

Pack Rafting the Wonnangatta

Canoe Wonnangatta

Kingwill Bridge to Black Snake Creek

Black Snake Creek to Hut Creek

Hut Creek to Waterford Bridge

The section downstream from Waterford is much more committing. You could do the run down to Angusvale in two long days but it is better over three. On the third day you encounter a few grade Three rapids including first the Surprise rapid. You will find it at the end of a long, still pool (as most such disasters occur. We portaged around it. there are a couple of others further down where discretion is the better part of valor. there is not much sense in a serious injury so far from help.

Waterford to Angusvale Day One

Ther are plenty of lovely spots to camp.

Waterford to Angusvale Day Two

Waterford to Angusvale Day Three

Again the section downstream from Angusvale is quite committing. You can take two days to the Den of Nargun (if you are pack rafting) but it would be a long way to carry canoes out. It is better to continue on for the third day and exit gracefully at the Glenaladale Bridge.

Marvellous Mitchell Day One

Marvellous Mitchell Day Two

Marvellous Mitchell Day Three

three whole weeks on a crystal clear river wholly within Victoria is pretty special. You would think it would be swarming with canoeists, but though we have canoed it many times we have never encountered another party. Perhaps we are just fortunate. I hope you enjoy your trips on it as much as we have enjoyed ours. I know that if you are there this weekend you may well see us.

21/01/2019: Impact of Bushfires on Wildlife. This is a very distressing video showing how a handful of deer have survived the fire (though far from unscathed) in a tiny area of Vic’s High Country. Just remember there are literally millions of hectares burned just like this. I have witnessed this time and time again, sometimes finding a deep pool in a stream with a dozen dead deer crowded into it by the relentless inferno. There is so little other life which has survived the fire. Even these few deer have a traumatic and difficult time ahead. They have to heal (if they can) and find enough to eat until the bush vegetation springs back into life. Being so big and so tall they have a better chance than most of the native wildlife if it survived this calamity. In the future their greater numbers will cause them to be blamed for the situation the bush will be in instead of forest ‘managers’ who failed to protect it with fire breaks and routine fuel reduction eg by cool burning, logging and cattle grazing, hunting etc: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DegZjlzjYww&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR2GgHs7hgsEXv-sXlwRhq0sX8ylsEsmuSpfqAx1Auu5j5kD92YiL5FfVZY

21/01/2019: Just Wow! Crossing the Atlantic from Greenland to Iceland in a Cessna: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcdbA1kjpPo&feature=emb_title

21/01/2019: Mark Twain – ‘A Dog’s Tale’. I always thought Jack London’s ‘White Fang’ and ‘Call of the Wild’ were the ‘be all and end all’ of dog books but Twain blows them away. This is the saddest animal story I have ever read. What a writer he was! If you do not burst into tears at least four times in the few minutes needed to read it you have a heart of stone! https://www.gutenberg.org/files/3174/3174-h/3174-h.htm


20/01/2019: Beam me up Scotty:  https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-manage-quantum-teleportation-between-computer-chips-for-the-first-time

20/01/2019: Platypuses are on the 'brink of extinction' - and experts say they'll be almost gone in just 50 years: This could be a little like the 'experts' who 'predicted' that Bumble bees can't fly! I took these photos of a very happy platy during a long walk far up the Wonnangatta-Mitchell River last winter: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2019/07/30/the-seventieth-birthday-platypus/  This was despite the awful fires there in 2009 which I thought had killed practically everything, and the fires last autumn (2019) which again burned right down to the water's edge (and wiped out four of my camps there) but which seemed to be much less destructive of wildlife (less to burn perhaps). The next fires will oddly have more to burn as last autumn's fires have felled most of the fire-killed trees from 2009 but not been able to burn them as the forest floor fuel had already burned by the time they fell. My thinking is that a 'cool' fire there soonish eg next autumn might rid the forest floor of these logs and make it safer for the surviving wildlife. Birdlife has been coming back (from a low of 6 birds seen in 40 km in 2009). I even saw possums at night last winter near two spots I camped. I haunt this river on which you can have three weeks of wonderful canoeing (a la Huck Finn) beginning at the Humffray confluence: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2017/11/20/pack-rafting-the-remote-wonnangatta/  My latest foray there was just as these awful Gippsland fires were beginning (before Xmas) and so was a bit of a smoky affair: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2019/12/23/marvelous-mitchell-river-day-1/  PS: I often see platypodes: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7904763/UNSW-researchers-say-platypuses-brink-extinction.html?fbclid=IwAR32ViL7qTIUIOPx7NovUJYCBGfCeMhOmq2_cg908Cs7O6kJWnffh5syh0c BTW: Despite the fires a visit to Gippsland is extremely worthwhile!

Upper Yarra Track Adventures: Warburton to Bairnsdale Ride courtesy of Gerard White. There are many adventures you can have starting in Melbourne and utilising the wonders of the marvelous Upper Yarra Track. As you can see Gerard has just ridden his bicycle all the way to Bairnsdale. You can see the route he used here: Bundoora to Bairnsdale Route.

He has ridden along the Upper Yarra Track from Warburton all the way to Myrrhee then looped around the North side of the Baw Baw Plateau utilising the Thomson Valley Way, then the Tyers-Rawson Rd, then the Cowarr-Rawson Rd. From Cowwarr he was able to utilise the Rail Trail pretty much all the way to Bairnsdale (and indeed Orbost -if he had had time).

An allternative would have been to utilise my Upper Yarra Track Winter Route (search for posts in the search box below) via Tanjil Bren and the Western Tyers to Collins Siding, and Jacobs Creek thence onto the Rawson-Cowarr Rd. This would have been a little less busy – but the Upper Thomson Rd is one of the most scenic anywhere in the world and coasting down it and then down the Tyers Rawson Rd must have been a delight.

Just after Myrrhee (on Gerard’s route) you pass the Block 10 Rd. A km or so down it is the junction with Newlands Rd. The Upper Yarra Track (walking) takes this route. (Here are my instructions for the Upper Yarra Track including camping spots and water availability. Here is a map). It would probably be possible to take a mountain bike this way to Stronach’s Camp but the track is very overgrown from Franjipani saddle to the junction with the Alps track which is a pity as Newlands Rd is perhaps the most beautiful road in Victoria. Anyway as you are going past it anyway you could go take a look. It will never be cleared by public servants so if you have a bit of energy to spare feel free to lend a hand. There ia a delightful camp about a km into Newlands Rd . There is a short side track on your left which leads to a delightful dam with many resident trout.

Day 1 – Warburton to Ada Tree 

Day 2 – Ada Tree to Stronach’s Camp.

NB The photos that follow for quite a while of Boundary Rd and the Forty Mile Break Rds show they are absolute scenic delights. They are closed to cars from May to November but a bike should be no problem. There are numerous delightful campsites along the way.

This is Mt Horsefall (around 1300 metres) with a five acre clearing on top and 360 degree views of some of Gippsland’s finest forests.

The photos have jumped here from the Forty Mile Break Rd (near Toorongo) to the Thomson valley Way.

Day 3 – Stronach’s Camp to Heyfield

There used to be a hut at Little Boys Creek up the side track but it may have been removed.

Day 4 – Heyfield to Bairnsdale

PS: With his kind permission I have already brought you Gerard’s account of his Warburton-Walhalla walk along the Upper Yarra Track. (You can find my instructions here and a map here). I will soon be posting sections of his and his friend’s walk along the Alps Walk from Mt Baw Baw to Canberra.

See Also: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2019/05/31/upper-yarra-walking-track-2/



Some other adventures you can have in Gippsland:




19/01/2019: Ultralight Titanium Cards: These little guys are only US$13.95 each from CountyComm (or sometimes available from Drop for US$26 per pair.  They weigh only 8 grams each. It is easy to think of a circumstance that you might need one of these. All you would need would be some line (eg from your repair kit) and you will soon have fresh fish for breakfast! Usually I use my own DIY fishing kit which weighs just one ounce (30 grams).

Then again you might have locked yourself out of your house and need a handy set of lock picks!





See Also:



15/01/2019: "For real people, if something works in theory, but not in practice, it doesn't work. For academics, if something works in practice, but not in theory, it doesn't exist." Nassim Nicholas Taleb

15/01/2019: Wrote this on this day back in 2013 in response to the fires we were having then – have had all this century. Once we used to have (short) holidays on the river over summer, but we are always on ‘fire-watch’ now – and the fires have stolen all the water from the rivers. I would not change a single word of it still, but the urgency has become greater: You would hope that the fires would teach people that the tourism, mining, timber, farming, grazing etc industries know better how to manage the land so that there are commercial livelihoods, needed products and much better protection for wildlife and nature in general. I am totally opposed to National Parks (so too 'aboriginal' land) and would like to see them eliminated - as they produce exactly the opposite result to what is intended: rather than protecting fauna and flora, they are responsible for its widespread destruction. They are intended to ‘save’ that which had already been better saved by many years of the previous management. The land needs to be managed piecemeal, not wholesale. There is no one answer. Drawing vast imaginary lines around an area does nothing to protect it; the reverse is true. Instead, a diversity of land uses produces a diversity of opportunities for nature and leads to no such wholesale destruction as we see happening now, again - to my great sorrow. I would like to see every Greens voter having to go out and deal with fires and the rotting bodies of all the sheep, wallabies, etc which their obsessive policies have killed - much as the Americans forced Germans to deal with the dead and dying of the Death Camps at the end of WW2.

15/01/2019: The rain predicted nearly a fortnight ago (by the GFS) is finally beginning today. Here is another interesting long-range service which seems to have a pretty good track record (Weatherbell). We willl be hearing more about the MJO in future I suspect. It looks like 1-2” all along the East Coast so the fire danger will be mitigated – and the canoeing opportunities may resume (for a short while). See for example my post: Canoeing the Wonnangatta: Catching the Wave (https://www.weatherbell.com/register/pre &  http://joannenova.com.au/2020/01/the-cloudless-nw-indian-ocean-may-drive-australian-storms-and-us-cold-weather-in-the-next-month/ & https://www.theultralighthiker.com/?s=catching+the+wave)

14/01/2019: Sleeping Pad News: New pads, new valves from Thermares and a new R-value standard. If It Works, Don’t Fix It – Thermarest’s WingLock™ and TwinLock™ Valve: https://www.thermarest.com/blog/crafting-a-better-valve/ Time to buy a mat while you can still opt for the ‘Classic’ valve perhaps . Extra weight and extra complexity for what? Who found it so difficult to pinch the material behind the valve during inflation to create a one-way valve. Who had difficulty letting a little air out of their mat in the past? The Classic valve is simple and pretty much bullet-proof (though replaceable anyway). Why would you seek to improve perfection?

A few days ago when Thermarest updated the valves across their entire range of of mattress, at the same time they have also increased the R-values for the entire NeoAir range. The new value for our old favourite the Neoair X-Lite Womens at 5.4 is a bit of a surprise . There is now not so much of a jump to the X-Therm (at 6.9) as there was, but it is still almost 2 warmer.

My new Exped SynMat HL Winter M  (Now 5.2 rather than 5) doesn't look so good as it did when I bought it - but it is mighty comfortable! If I needed more warmth I should try Exped Ul Downmat Winter M at 480 grams and R = 7.1.  You should also look at thickness, width and 'feel' before you make a final choice. Klymit hasn't yet listed their pads' values.

Some Pads and R-values The first figure is the Pre-2020: R-Value the second figure is the new 2020 'ASTM F3340 Standard' R-Value.
Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core SLX N/A 3.5
Big Agnes Insulated Q Core Deluxe N/A 4.2
Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air N/A 3.4
Big Agnes Insulated AXL Trail Boss N/A 5
Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra N/A 3.3
Big Agnes Air Core Ultra N/A 1
Big Agnes Hinman N/A N/A
Big Agnes Two Track N/A N/A.

Exped FlexMat New 1.5
Exped FlexMat Plus New Pad 2.2
Exped Sit Pad Flex New Pad 1.5
Exped DownMat XP 9 (all sizes) 8 7.8
Exped DownMat UL Winter (all sizes) 7 7.1
Exped SynMat UL Winter 5 5.2
Exped SynMat HL Duo Winter 5 5.2
Exped SynMat UL 3.3 2.9
Exped SynMat HL 3.3 2.9
Exped SynMat HL Duo 3.3 2.9
Exped SynMat UL Lite 2.5 2.3
Exped AirMat UL Lite 1.7 1.3
Exped AirMat HL 1.9 1.3
Exped SIM UL 3.8 3.2 3.1
Exped SIM UL 5 New Pad 4
Exped DownMat 7 5.9 5.8
Exped DownMat XP 7 5.9 5.8
Exped SynMat 9 6 5.2
Exped SynMat XP 9 6 5.2
Exped MegaMat Lite 12 5.3 5.2
Exped SynMat 7 4.9 4.8
Exped SynMat XP 7 4.9 4.8
Exped SynMat 3-D 7 4.9 4.8
Exped SynMat Duo 4.9 4.8
Exped DownMat Lite 5 4.1 3.8
Exped SynMat Lite 5 2.5 3.4
Exped AirMat Lite 5 1.7 1.3
Exped AirMat Lite Plus 5 1.7 1.3
Exped SIM 2.5 New Pad 2.8
Exped SIM 3.8 4 4.6
Exped SIM 5 4.6 6.1
Exped SIM Lite 3.8 3.2 3.1
Exped SIM Comfort 5 4.6 4.3
Exped SIM Comfort Duo 5 4.6 4.3
Exped SIM Comfort 7.5 6.4 Incomplete
Exped SIM Comfort Duo 7.5 6.4 Incomplete
Exped SIM Comfort 10 9.5 8.1
Exped MegaMat 10 9.5 8.1
Exped MegaMat Max 15 New Pad 10.6
Exped MegaMat Max Duo 15 New Pad 10.6
Exped MegaMat Duo 10 9.5 8.1
Exped DeepSleep Mat 7.5 New Pad 8.5
Exped DeepSleep Mat Duo 7.5 New Pad 8.5
Exped MultiMat 1.4 1.4

NEMO Switchback UL N/A 2
NEMO Tensor Alpine UL N/A 4.8
NEMO Tensor Insulated N/A 3.5
NEMO Cosmo 3D N/A 3.3
NEMO Roamer SI NA 6
NEMO Nomad Camping N/A N/A
NEMO Vector UL N/A 3.5
NEMO Astro NA 2.6
NEMO Astro Lite N/A 2.6Sea-to-Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Air 3.8 3.2

Sea-to-Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Air Women's 4.2 3.5
Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Insulated Air Women's 3.8 3.5
Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Insulated Air N/A 3.1
Sea-to-Summit Comfort Light Insulated Women's N/A 3.8
Sea-to-Summit Comfort Light Insulated Air 4.2 3.7

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite 3.2 4.2
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Women's 3.9 5.4
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm 5.7 6.9
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Max 5.7 6.9
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite 2 2.3
Therm-a-Rest Basecamp 5.8 6
Therm-a-Rest LuxuryMap 6.8 6
Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D 11.4 7
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Camper Duo 2.2 2.5
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Venture 1.9 2.2
Therm-a-Rest Original Z Lite N/A 2
Therm-a-Rest ProLite 2.4 2.4
Therm-a-Rest ProLite Apex 4 3.8
Therm-a-Rest ProLite Plus 3.4 3.2
Therm-a-Rest ProLite Plus Women's 4.2 3.9
Therm-a-Rest ProLite Women's 3 2.7
Therm-a-Rest Ridegrest Classic 2.6 2
Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite 2.8 2.1
Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite 3.4 3.2
Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite Women's 4 4.5
Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro 4 4.4
Therm-a-Rest Trail Scout 4.8 3.1
Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol 2.6 2

See Also:



14/01/2019: The Beauty of Volcanoes -Taal eruption in the Phillipines:



14/01/2019: Orange Origami. Astonishing, but don’t make a rod for your own back by showing this to your kids. Toast soldiers are bad enough: http://staff.ustc.edu.cn/~fuxm/projects/Peeling/ & https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/orange-peel-art-japan & https://www.pinterest.com.au/misakobeads/orange-peel-art/?autologin=true & https://ecobnb.com/blog/2013/12/10-ideas-reuse-orange-peels/  A peeled prawn from the artist Yoshihiro Okada.


14/01/2019: Make Way for Tomorrow (1937). What a magnificent film! ‘Orson Welles famously said about Make Way for Tomorrow, "My God! I watched it four times and cried my eyes out every time! That movie would make a stone cry!"’ I did too. Read Mark Steyn’s review here: https://www.steynonline.com/9970/make-way-for-tomorrow then download it from Pirate Bay. Motto: Be sure you own your own home and have enough super!

13/01/2019: Henry Lawson: ‘The Bushfire’ – a true master of words; if it does not have you in tears before the end I will be surprised: https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/doomed-planet/2020/01/henry-lawson-the-bushfire/

13/01/2019: Automatic Chicken Door Opener: What a great idea this is - and only A$34.99 on eBay. I will certainly be getting and installing one. Of course foxes can strike during the day too - but so often it is because you are late home or have forgotten to lock the chooks up. I will be teaming this up with my fox-proof fences to try and ensure that we can have a few hens again in a soon-to-be-restored poultry facility.

There is some debate about what type of chooks we should get. the traditional chooks on this farm (for the century before we owned it were White Sussex, do that is tempting. then there are Australorps, the only authentic Australian breed. Araucanas with their coloured eggs are a temptation too, but we have had Rhode Island Reds before and would like to have them again. They are a charming breed with lovely brown eggs. I think we already have names for them. My grandson is going to really enjoy going up to the chook house to collect the eggs. I can hardly wait either - but back to the door opener...

‘Automatic Chicken Coop Door Opener - Light Sensitive or Timer Operation.
Never forget to lock the chooks up again and losing your flock to foxes!
Easy to install and set and forget.
Has four modes for you to choose from:
1/ Set time to open and Set time to close.
2/ Set time to open and Automatically close at Sunset
3/ Automatically open with the morning light and set time to close
4/ Open Automatically at sunrise and Automatically close at sunset
Flexibility to suit every need.
Operates on light sensitivity or Timer
Will lift a door .03kg to 1kg
Weather Proof
Runs up to 1 year on 4AA Batteries (included)
Comes with Aluminium Door and Rails
Four operating modes
Comes with instructions
Australian Made
Comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, just return it within 30 days if you are not completely satisfied’

I will probably try to include a solar charger to the battery set-up so that they never run flat - and I will afford some quality batteries to run it - like these Enerloops.

I will also probably add another idea to my new chook house, a 'fox-proof ladder' just as a further safeguard. I am so over having my beloved hens (and other critters - especially lambs!) destroyed by Brer Fox.

I will have the chickens entering and leaving their house higher up than a fox can reach. The chooks will have to hop up a wobbly 'ladder' made of a single length of 2" plastic pipe with 1" plastic pipe rungs pushed through it about every foot. A hen will easily learn to hop along up it, but a fox ought not be able to climb it! Photo to follow.

Door Opener available on Ebay here.

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A PS: The Ring-Tailed Possum have moved into the Macadamia trees with a much larger nest - boy how they will boom when I get that vermin-proof fence finished this summer!

PPS: I have borrowed the pics. I hope the seller doesn't mind. I hope to help them sell a few more openers after all!

12/01/2019: Naturehike 1000fp down 174 gram jacket with 70 grams of down fill, only US$65: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/01/12/how-good-is-this/

08/01/2019: Hundreds of Millions of Animals Have been Killed by the Fires So Far: This is the result of the sort of ‘conservation’ which promotes locking land up and creating ‘national parks’ etc. It is a dismal failure as I have explained again and again. ‘All flesh is grass’ is an old adage. What it means is that a given area of vegetation can sustain a certain mass of animal flesh. It doesn’t matter whether the animals are elephants or mice, the total mass is about the same. Of course adding phosphorus and other nutrients increases the land’s carrying capacity, so that for eg the dry ridges can carry less than the lush river valleys. If animals have nowhere else to go and unless fuel is reduced ahead of the summer fire danger season vast numbers will be wiped out. I have been observing this for many years in the Australian bush where I have spent most of my life. For example, along my beloved Wonnangatta Valley when I used to hunt/canoe/walk eg there in the 90s and 00s my secluded camps were overwhelmed by the almost deafening morning and evening chorus which rang way up every side gully. After the fires in 2009 there were about six birds along a 30 kilometre stretch of this wonderful valley. Most other native animals (kangaroos, possums etc) were wiped out. Animals which could shelter underground (like the surviving birds which were all bank nesters: kingfishers, wood swallows etc) such as wombats and echidnas (and of course rabbits) hung on, as did some larger animals such as sambar deer which were strong enough to flee ahead of the fire to deep pools and which could take advantage of every scrap of surviving or emerging vegetation up to 6’ above ground also survived – but it was an enormously reduced biota. Yet the same folks who brought us this disaster and now calling for the remaining forest to be locked up: https://www.news.com.au/technology/science/animals/half-a-billion-animals-perish-in-bushfires/news-story/b316adb4f3af7b1c8464cf186ab9f52c I was in the Wonnangatta checking out the 2018 fire damage over winter. This time because of reduced fuel the fires burned a lot cooler and more slowly so that a larger percentage of the remaining animals survived. There are spots along the river where there are fair numbers of birds (though it will be many years before the marvelous dawn and dusk chorus returns). There were even some possums. However, the 2018 fires have felled most of the fire-killed trees from the 2009 fire but have not burned their wood (as they fell on burned ground). There is a huge amount of ground wood and no doubt many plants will spring up from the ashes which will struggle for water over the summer and die. Another cool burn sooner rather than later would help, eg 2021. There is a better way. Read my post Nuts to Leave No Trace.

Before 2018 fire

After 2018 fire:

31/12/2019: Cheap Down: These folks have ultra-cheap down sleeping bags, pants, jackets, socks etc on Aliexpress for unbeatable prices. What’s not to like about an 800 fill power ultradry down jacket for US$76.76 (Jan 2019) including delivery, or down pants for US46.41, socks for US$16.24, balaclavas for US$24.85 or  480 grams +5C sleeping bags for US 75.88! Certainly worth a look – they seem to have plenty of positive reviews.

If you needed a bit more warmth you could easily add some more yourself, as we did here: Adding Down to a Sleeping Bag

You can buy the down quite cheaply from eg Aliexpress Just be sure to buy eg 800 ‘fill power’ down. The fill power means eg the amount 1 ounce of down will expand to fill  (in this case 800 cubic inches). So around four ounces (or around $20 worth of such down added to a bag will make it OK to say -10C. $100 is pretty cheap for a sub zero bag which weighs around 600 grams.Think about partnering it with one of these cheap backpacks and some other budget items


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Budget Pack Mods

Ultralight hiking on a Budget