Not the Larapinta Stage Race - Day 1

Saturday, 18 August 2018

I think I have blogged about this before, but about this time last year I decided it would be a great idea for Jon and I to enter the Larapinta Stage Race which is a 4 day running race held over stretches of the famous Larapinta Trail which travels through the McDonnell ranges near Alice Springs.  My motivation wasn't to race at all, but to get to cover a fair bit of the trail without having to carry a heavy pack, and also to have all the logistics taken care of. There was a shorter version which I was going to enter (11k, 20, 22, 30km), and a longer version which Jon would have done.  

When entries finally opened 6 months later I realised to my horror that the entry fee was going to be $1700 for both of us.  That was crazy, so I immediately ditched that idea and decided instead that we should just go there at the same time and simply hire a car and do our own thing (since I'd booked leave for those dates and all).  With this new plan in mind I immediately booked flights.  Not more than 2 weeks later we received Emma and Rory's wedding invitation and had to adjust all those flights by a few days.  Anyway -the end result is that we are here in Alice Springs, not doing the Larapinta Race.   And it's been great so far. We arrived at about 1pm, went to the supermarket, then checked into our nice AirBNB accommodation.  After a late lunch (we were starving after the early start at the caravan park), we headed out to Telegraph Station and went for a run around some of the trails there.  


After being burnt by being too organised and booking the trip too early - thus having to change flights at great cost when we got the wedding invitation, I hadn't really made any more plans for this trip (which is unlike me). In fact once the new flights were sorted out the only preparation actually I did was to buy the Larapinta Trail map and to book a hire car - the cheapest hatch possible.  

So when I finally opened up the map on the plane to Alice Springs I realised that one of the destinations we'd been told not to miss was only accessible by 4wd.   Oops.  That meant or Toyota Yaris probably wasn't going to get us there.   Once off the plane we decided we'd just try our luck at the Budget counter and ask the person behind the desk if she thought we'd be able to make it there in the Yaris.  As we expected she said we'd need a full size 4wd for that trip but before we could even begin to ask how much it would cost to get one, she offered us a FREE upgrade ! Free!  yay!  So that turned out really well!  So the funny thing is, if I'd done the research before we left I would have probably booked a 4wd (at 3 times the price probably), so being un-organized has saved us money! Just like it would have if I'd been a bit less organised with booking the flights in the first place. Hmmm.  Whilst you can't rely on getting a free upgrade for being unorganized I do think I need to learn from these experiences and try NOT to lock everything in the moment I think of a great plan!


36 hours in Adelaide

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Well, technically it's probably been more like 16 hours in Adelaide, then 20 hours in the Barossa valley, 6 of those on a farm (not a winery, but an actual working farm).

After a hectic day at work trying to get things organised for my absence (on top of a busy time at home getting packed and all the kids while-we-are-away-stuff organised), Jon and mum picked me up from work just after 5 which gave us plenty of time to make the re-instituted  direct flight from Hobart to Adelaide (which was SO good compared to the usual awkward 4 hour wait in Melbourne).  We made it to Hilary & Tony's place by 10pm, where they were all still up warming themselves in front of the fire. This makes a nice change to arriving in Adelaide in midsummer, when it's impossible to imagine anything but hot hot streets and brown hills.  As evidenced by this photo from the run we went in the park the next day, Adelaide is delightfully cool & green at the moment..

After the run and a quick repack, we all headed up to the Barossa valley and to the Tanunda caravan park.  We quickly got ready then were back in the car for the 45 minute drive to the wedding of Jon's nephew Rory to his lovely fiance Emma, which was being held on Emma's parents farm.  It was a cold day but skies were clear for the ceremony which was held in quite a dramatic setting.  We were under strict instructions not to use our mobiles for photos or post any images of the ceremony to social media, but when I saw that Emma's dog was being the ring bearer, I simply couldn't abide by the rules as I had to report this to Zali who was already outraged at missing the wedding, and would have been further outraged to miss immediate news of the ring-bearing dog.  


The rest of the wedding was fun - it was a canape wedding, which can make food scarce for vegetarians but this time we were well catered for, with the waiters honing in on us when they had plates of vegetarian offerings.   This was because we had been instructed to make ourselves known to the chef at the start of the evening, who then had his wait staff take down a physical description of us all which was a bit uncomfortable at the time! I didn't get to see what the list looked like but I bet it was something like this: "Annoying person with red dress - Vegetarian", "Really annoying person with blue tie - Gluten Free", "Unbelievably annoying person in blue skirt - Gluten Free with Nut Allergy".  For me I reckon the description would have been something like "Annoying person in purple dress and boots", as it turned out I was the only female at the whole event wearing boots as opposed to strappy shoes which was surprising given the low temperatures as night fell.  


Anyway - it was great to see most of the rest of the McComb clan especially as we won't be back for Christmas this year.  After talking ourselves all hoarse, and drinking & dancing ourselves into a lather (not me, but others) we made it back to the caravan park by midnight and fell to bed listening to the rain hammering down on our little cabin roof.

The next morning we had to get up pretty early to get to the airport for our flight to Alice Springs but it was all smooth going and we made the flight with plenty of time to spare. Goodbye Adelaide!



Waterpolo Finals

Sunday, 5 August 2018

We're all really happy for Jett as his waterpolo team won a nailbiter of a grand final on Friday night. His Taroona High team won the grade 7/8 boys competition.  

Zali's team also made it to the final but got beaten 3-0 in a tight contest.  

Conningham Paddle

Sunday, 5 August 2018

It's been a while since I've had my boat out from under the house, so it was really lovely to get out for a paddle before the Conningham orienteering event on Sunday.


Taroona to Kingston

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Saturday was such a nice day that I couldn't resist running home from Jett's soccer game in Taroona.  On my way I passed Jon who was running from home to his game (someone had to take him home!).  


Taroona Beach

Heading up to the Shot Tower



Down and up some steps, then in and out of ferny gullies


Looking down over Kingston Beach 


Kingston Beach was packed with dogs and dog owners.  Ok, maybe not 'packed', but it was busy! 

Finally turning onto the last bit of track towards home.  The flood damage still looks pretty bad a bit further up the track, but some restoration work had begun which was heartening.

Happy Birthday to me!

Monday, 30 July 2018

For my birthday I almost got this cake, made by Jett & Zali in the days leading up to my birthday.  


 It was inspired by the photos I took of the houseboats on the Noosa River.

I say 'almost' because they made such a great cake the entire population of ants in the Kingborough Municipality moved into the houseboat the night before the reveal. 

I bet the real houseboats don't have that problem 

Unsupervised Holiday Activities

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Zali loves school holiday days that she gets to spend at home unsupervised.  She hasn't had that many this this holidays as she had a week-long ski-trip at Mt Hotham and Jon was around for much of the first week.

She got the whole day to herself on Monday though.

In the evening Jon noticed that the bottom of Zali's feet were blue. 

Jon: Zali, why are your feet blue ?

Zali: Because I was making rainbow cheese.

(of course) 



Sunday, 1 July 2018

Today was a lovely day out at an orienteering event near Buckland - an hour or so from Hobart.

Somehow I managed to arrive at the event with 4 pairs of shoes. None of them were my orienteering shoes so I had to borrow Zali's (although I was tempted to run in the ugg boots).

Zali, Jett and I all ran the same course - a short but hard navigation course.  I made almost no mistakes and managed to squeak a win over Zali by 30 seconds.   Jett ran really well too - by the third control he was already a minute ahead of both Zali and I (I was coming third at that stage!), but some mistakes in the latter part of the course cost him 5 minutes..   I was really proud of them both for having such confident runs on a harder course than they are used to ands it's clear that my days of being faster are nearly but not quite over. This time next year I'll be reminiscing about the days when I used to beat them!

World Cup Soccer

Friday, 29 June 2018

Pinto's hectic World Cup watching schedule has taken its toll..


Or maybe it's actually our viewing schedule which has been keeping her up. That's what happens when you sleep in the living room. 


Icy Mornings

Friday, 29 June 2018

I needed two goes to get the to get the ice off the car before I went for a run this morning.  



It was worth it though -  Peter Murrell Reserve was covrered in an eerie mist and tere were lots of spider webs like this one - layers of dew making them standing out against the greens behind them.  It reminded me of how much I prefer these dainty little webs to the giant threads that would criss cross the running trails in Sydney. If you ran into one you'd just about bounce backwards, often with an angry fist sized spider on your person somewhere.  In summer when they were particularly bad I'd run with a stick, using it like a lance to sweep a clear path ahead of me.  

Going through the boxes

Thursday, 31 May 2018

While the under-house area is drying out, Jon and I have been sorting through all the boxes of stuff we brought upstairs.

Mostly it's been photos and trophies and an awful lot of Christmas decorations but amongst it all Jon has found some gems from the 80s & 90s, including his SA Junior Orienteering tracksuit..


complete with the badges he won and sewed on himself..


I found this old article. Imagine a time when an ankle injury to a junior orienteer could make it into the newspaper..clearly they had too many sports reporters back in those days!


Basically the article was about me being worried that my stress fracture would jeopardise my chances of making the Australian Team for the Junior World Championships. I notice even dad got a quote... 


Spoiler Alert - I made the team.  But as dad suspected, due to limited preparation and a lot of cadbury's fundraising chocolate I wasn't that fit in Sweden . Nethertheless it was great fun and changed my life as I met a) Jon and b) the au pair of Harald and Linda.

Clare was also mentioned in relation to the 'intensive' training camp held just after the selection trials..


Although the only intensive part of the camp I remember (just) was the intensive night of celebratory drinking on the first night. (kids i hope you aren't reading this).

Anyway - Jon found the glasses he wore to a party back in the 90s.. very cool.  We also found a photo of the actual event but he's living it up in Stockholm at the moment so I'm not sure where that picture ended up.


I also found evidence of my short lived sailing career. This was the pocket of the expensive blazer we had to wear in the Tasmanian team that travelled to nationals in Glenelg. I also remember that we had to wear blue wooden clogs, skirts and white shirts.  Very fancy.  


I was a forward hand rather than the skipper of the boats I went to nationals with. I did end up with my own boat - a tired old thing called 'Birubi' but it was impossible to compete against all the people with new sails every year (mine were 10 years old), so in about 1986 I sold the boat and used the money to go to my first interstate orienteering event in SA. Hmm.. maybe Jon was at that event sporting his fancy new red tracksuit !  

Snow days are more fun

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Last Thursday night Jon and I were just turning off the heater and lights and preparing to go to bed when Jon stuck his head out the front door to take a look at the rain which was pelting down noisily on the roof and windows.

The Bureau had forecast thunderstorms for the evening, and I'd been down at Clare's earlier where massive sheets of lightening were illuminating the night. The BOM had also told us to expect a lot of rain and by 11:45pm it sounded like the weather bureau was again true to its word.

“That’s not good”  Jon said as he peered out into the darkness. Thinking he just meant the rain generally I thought about arguing that the farmers would be happy (after all it had been really dry out at Lovely Banks farm the previous weekend), but before I got a chance, Jon had disappeared out the front door.  I had a quick look out the door to see what he was talking about and I could immediately see that the water was starting to pool around the long drain that sits at the bottom of the drive.  Thinking he had it in hand (surely a bit of clearing of leaf litter would fix the problem), I went to check the situation out the back of the house. I opened the back door and was almost completely saturated by the splashback from the curtain of water overflowing the gutters and hitting the back deck.  I decided I should tell Jon about this so I headed back to the front door, poking my head out and finding him almost knee deep in water. 

‘I need you out here!’ he yelled!  By this stage the water was surging both down the drive and down over the grass. Jon was attempting to sweep it away from the sliding doors and around the side of the house with a cricket bat, but he was fighting a losing battle and it was quickly building up and up against the glass doors. I  quickly pulled on my gum-boots and grabbed a couple of buckets which were also by the door (we’d been using them for a running drill a few weeks earlier) and rushed out.  For the next 20 minutes or so we ushered litres and litres of water from the overflowing drain around to the side of the house.  When it started to look like we were winning the battle I gathered some pine sleepers and we built a makeshift flood bank on the drive so that we could divert some of the water before it reached the bottom of the drive.  With that, and the rain easing off, we were soon able to take a break and go inside and get dry.  By this point a lot of houses had lost their power but we were pretty lucky to not lose it (or internet) at all.

With the rain easing and the drain able to keep up with the flow we decided to go to bed.   Our break was shortlived though and 15 minutes later we heard the rain get heavier again so we had to get up. This time we had a chance to put on rain trousers and rain coats before going outside to check the situation.  Our pine sleepers were doing their diversion job and the drain was coping much better but there was still a lot of water around.   We didn't need to bail so I decided to check how things were going under the house.  

As I walked around to the back garden I could hear what sounded like a raging torrent from the lower corner of the garden. This turned out to be the big concrete stormwater drain that straddles ours and our neighbours fences.  The concrete top was being pushed upwards from the force of the water and the water was gushing out down into our back neighbours houses.  There wasn’t much I could do about that (except feel sorry for the neighbours) so I headed under the house.  Unfortunately it wasn’t great under there - water had found it’s way through the hill of dirt and we had 2 muddy springs with flowing brown muddy water right at the back of the Oslo room.  There was also another large puddle forming near the door to the Oslo room where water was somehow flowing into the room through vents into the external brick wall.  Jon and I spent the next hour carrying out buckets full of muddy water and also moving as much stuff as we could out of the way or off the floor.  Luckily we had tarps and plastic sheets we could put down to protect the floor from both the muddy water, and our mud caked feet as we tramped across it with our buckets.

By about 2.30am the rain had almost stopped and we figured we had done all we could that night. After hot shower we went to bed again. We were pretty exhausted but we were SO glad that Jon poked his head out to see what was happening before we went to bed (the first time). If he hadn’t see the problem we would have woken up to the games room and jon’s office being completely destroyed, and the damage to the Oslo room would have also been catastrophic. Phew.

The next morning we awoke to see some amazing footage of the flash floods in other parts of Hobart, cars were floating down the streets and the shopping centre in Kingston was completely flooded.  Most of the schools were closed as were many work places (including my own).  Clare’s brother’s place was flooded as well as many houses near the whitewater creek area. It turned out we'd received almost a years worth of rain in just a few hours.

The next day - the drain is the black strip across the front of the sliding doors, and that's our makeshift pine-sleeper flood diversion system! 

Once we’d all had a bit of a sleep-in we got stuck into cleaning up the mess and moving everything out of the Oslo Room.  Zali worked for a few hours filling in the deep erosion trenches with the gravel that had been washed down the lawn, while Jett helped us move every last thing from the storage and Oslo Room area up to the games room so that it didn’t go mouldy while the mud dries out. 



By the end of the next day we had sorted through the bulk of the stuff and put everything that we were keeping into new plastic tubs. We’d also taken a load of wet carpet (which we had on the dirt floor in the storage area) and other flood damaged stuff to the tip.  

All that was just over a week ago, and although I’ve driven by some damaged areas on my way to work,  today was the first time I had a good look at the damage around the Whitewater Creek area (which was my cycling route to work).  It was a mess.  Since we moved here 10 years ago the council has been steadily improving the creek and surrounds with plantings and landscaping and general track improvements. All of that is gone. As are people’s fences and landscaping and in one case a garden shed had even found its way downstream.  The bike path is completely destroyed in some areas and I can’t see things being back to normal for a long long while.


Amongst the trees are tents, BBQs fences, wheelie bins.. 


The house that owned this section of fence is 50 metres up the track. I wonder if they can just replant their fence?


The bikepath now has some obstructions..


and where it isn't obstructed, it's a foot deep in mud..


I also noticed that the house that would have been getting our run-off had all their carpet out on their lawn, so as we expected they got hit pretty bad!  I think nearly everyone who lives on a hillside in kingston had some water damage, particularly to their under house areas.  The creek area is littered with things that have come out of garages and basements, including this trophy which had come at least 300m down the creek from the nearest house.

In my entire time living in Hobart I've never experienced rain like that - it's interesting that kids have had a day off school for snow just a few years ago, and now they've had one for flooding as well. We used to think that Sydney got all the exciting weather - I wonder what's next? 

Anyway - we appreciate that we have had minimal losses from this major event. There is some damage to the Oslo room floor but not even enough to make an insurance claim  - it would have been a completely different case if we'd slept through it as lots of people did.  Although the fact that we evaded serious damage doesn't really make up for the fact that the local environment is all but destroyed - I'd have happily given up the Oslo room for Whitewater Creek!  Hopefully time (and cash from the local council) will heal.

Queensland Day 7

Monday, 30 April 2018

The above photos looks like they could have been taken on a touristy rainforest walk but in fact I took them it at the Queensland Sprint Orienteering Championships we attended on Saturday.

By fortunate happenstance the event was being held in a suburb of Brisbane on the exact same day that we had a few hours to kill before flying home from Brisbane Airport in the late afternoon.   The map was brand new, the courses were excellent and the area looked fun. The only thing which would have made it better would have been if I hadn't been too sick to actually run it.

I'm not sure how I got sick, but I woke up early on Saturday morning with the intention of going for a final walk along our local beach. However after a few minutes of being awake I felt so nauseous I could only lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling for the next few hours.  I returned to bed when Jon got up, leaving him to pack up everything and load it into the car. Luckily I'd packed up my stuff the night before so I was able to stay in bed until the last moment before we left, when I dragged myself downstairs to the car park (only to drag myself straight back upstairs again to use the facilities).  

 The journey down to Brisbane was thankfully uneventful, but rather tedious as there was a lot of traffic heading into the city. As we still had an extra hour to kill before the event started so we visited the Brisbane Lookout at Mt Coot-tha.  This is the view from where I sat.


By the time we arrived at the event I was feeling slightly better, and for a few moments I even thought I would compete. but after taping my ankle and going for a short walk I realised I couldn't possibly run anywhere - apart from not eaten any food or drunk any fluid for almost a day, it was also pretty hot in the sun.  By this time Jon was starting to feel decidedly dodgy himself, so although he managed to run, he did so feeling pretty ill.   

The kids seemed to miss out on the virus completely and both enjoyed good runs - coming 2nd in their classes.   I went for a short walk to the creek crossing and took some photos.


By the time we left the event for the airport I felt ok enough to drive which was good as Jon was now in posession of my emergency empty icecream container and was threatening to use it. Luckily it didn't come to that and our journey home was pretty uneventful. We were also fortunate that mum was able to pick us up in Hobart so we all got home to bed as quickly as possible. 

So it wasn't the ideal way to end our Queensland holiday, but it doesn't take away from the fact that we had a great time. The weather was pretty perfect the whole time, the water was warm and the fun was plentiful. 

Queensland Day 6

Friday, 27 April 2018

My last full day in Noosa began like all the others - with a run.  I wanted to do some of the tracks in the National Park that I hadn’t been on yet this trip, but I also had tired legs, so I allowed myself to walk up the hills and take lots of photos! 


When I finally made it home (I got a bit lost near the end), I found that Jett and Jon were already up which was a good sign. In fact we managed to get everyone out the door for a quick trip to our local beach at 10am!


Unfortunately despite the fact it was so early :)  the wind was already up, so we only had a brief swim in the unstable conditions.  Have I mentioned that the water is incredibly warm here ?

At home we had some early lunch then Jon and the kids dropped me off at the surf-ski rental place where I had a 2 hour self-guided paddle booked.  Despite it being a bit windy in patches it was great!  I did a loop around the Noosa canal area to begin with, where I could admire the 4 million dollar houses with infinity pools and private jetties. Then I went further up the river to circumnavigate Goat Island reserve.

Up the river wasn't quite as posh as the canals, and I came across all manner of houseboats - from the very normal, to the amazing..the one on the right was by far the cutest..



The one on the left below was clad in bamboo.. and the one on the right had a sofa on the deck which I thought was hilarious..


I finished my paddle and relaxed by the river with my book while I waited for the family to pick me up again. While I was paddling, they had been having their own trail riding adventure down at Weyba Lake..




 It looked like they had heaps of fun.

Back together again we relaxed at the apartment until it was time to back to Noosa Main beach to  get our only takeaway dinner of the entire trip (we've been taking packed lunches everywhere and cooking at home until now). We ate burgers on the beach watching the waves dump on the shore and the fire twirlers doing their thing further down the beach. A very nice last holiday evening.



Queensland Day 5

Thursday, 26 April 2018

This morning Jon and I ran the 10k loop around Noosa National Park that I ran yesterday. Once again it was lovely - although my legs were getting a bit weary by the end of the run.

Back at home we had breakfast then waited and waited until the kids were ready to leave - I’m sure they’d spend the entire holiday inside the apartment if we let them. A consequence of leaving the house so late each day has been having to battle with thousands of others to find a car park near Noosa Main Beach - you don’t have to pay for parking but it can be pretty tricky to actually get a spot! 

 Anyway- with the kids finally loaded into the car we drove around to the National Park main entrance and took the kids for a hike on essentially the same loop we had just run - just a slightly shorter version.  It was pretty hot and my legs were really tired by this stage, but it was nice to walk at a leisurely pace and really take in all the views.  



Afterwards we hit the beach for an hour to cool off which was great, then headed home for a very late lunch.

After a bit of a rest, Zali and I drove down to Maroochydore to go to the large shopping centre with aim of buying some things to replace some of the more weathered and outdated nick-necks at Paul’s apartment. We had good success at the shops (more on this later) but the real excitement was on the way home, when we got a flat tyre. I was able to find a side street so we could change it safely - and I was also able to teach Zali how to do it which was actually really cool - whilst a flat tyre is never convenient I’m really glad I got this opportunity to show Zali how to deal with it.


The funny thing was that just 20 minutes earlier I had impulse bought some wet-wipes from Target, so not only were we able to change the tyres like pros (ok, more like competent amateurs), but we were able to get our hands nice and clean afterwards! 


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