Ikea makes everything better

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Jon and Zali's hotel was conveniently located near an Ikea, so after picking them up in the morning we headed over there and met the Marsh Bluetts for breakfast and a long browse.


Because I was still hobbling around I had a great time just relaxing in the lounges at the cafeteria drinking bottomless pepsi max and reading my book. The others were road testing couches..

Roadtesting the couch from Cathy McComb on Vimeo.

After 3 blissful hours and numerous unplanned purchases we headed home to Lane Cove with time for a swim before dinner. It was the first day in over a week that I hadn't had to drive hundreds of kilometres so that was also nice!


Back in Sydney..

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The last day of the carnival was good fun. Jett and I got drafted into relay teams but neither of our teams were in the top 3 - we both had good runs through the tricky terrain which was a nice way to finish up the carnival. Unfortunately I rolled my ankle in a hole with about 1k to go on my course. I finished the course but it's now pretty sore so I'm limping around and can't go for my usual favourite runs around Lane Cove.

Jon had another clean run and Zali also ran well - so they both got their relay teams some more medals. I was particularly happy for Zali's team mates as they had both missed out on being on the schools relay team - so it was awesome to see them up on the podium with great big smiles.


After a long day at the event (not helped by getting up at 6pm on Daylight Saving's morning) Jett and I drove back to Sydney, stopping in Mt Victoria to see the Marshes luxury holiday home, then follow them the rest of the way home to Lane Cove.


Jon and Zali were staying on the school bus then at the airport hotel where we would pick them up the next day. Zali was looking forward to a night in a room with a door!


Australian Champs - Day ? + 2

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Today was the Australian Long Distance Championships back in the surrounds of the Hill End township.  Jett and I were running the enter-on-the-day courses again, and we both had good runs.

Zali and Jon were properly entered in their rightful classes - and I’m happy to report that Jon won his class, and Zali was 4th - which would be her best individual result all week I reckon - just 15 seconds from third!  Clean navigation in the tricky gold mining areas paid off for both of them.


Afterwards Jett, Alexa, Lyra, Kari and I checked out the township a little, then visited one of the old gold mines.  It was a nice afternoon.



Rest Day Schmest Day

Friday, 29 September 2017

Jett and I managed to sleep in until about 8 today when we got up to the news that the house internet allocation had been used up and we were in go-slow mode for all future internet browsing.  I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I woke up at 2am and wasn’t able to get back to sleep so I watched an episode of Survivor on my computer. oops :) (who doesn’t have unlimited internet in this day and age??).   Happily my blame can be shared somewhat because Andy forgot to stop his computer from doing updates and it did a big one first thing in the morning.  

After struggling through breakfast with no internet we packed lunches and  drove down to Evans Crown to take a look at the giant granite boulders. The short walk and scramble over the rocks was fun, and we ate lunch looking over the eastern hills below us. It was delightful.


On our way back to Bathurst we stopped at a nice stream for some gold panning and contemplating. 



Back in Bathurst Alexa, Jett and I checked out the art at the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery (BRAG) while Lyra and Andy replenished their book supplies. Then we visited Zali up in the boarding school.  A bit of food shopping followed then we ended the day with a trip to the night food market. 

All in all it was a top day out. It could only have been improved if Jett hadn't beaten me for the third time running in our nightly chess game, thus bringing the overall score to 5-2.  Sigh. 

Australian Champs - Day ?

Friday, 29 September 2017

I've lost track of actual days we've been here but I know that yesterday was the last event of the schools champs - the relay day.  Due to recent solid performances (hmm... not counting the sprint I guess!), Zali got a run in the Junior Girls relay team as the 2nd leg runner.

Jett and I had a long drive to get out to the event so when we got there we were both informed that Zali had started her leg already, and had gone out in the lead due to a great run by their first leg runner Mikayla.   Zali's job was to keep that lead and ideally stretch it as much as possible in order for our third leg runner to be able to hold on against the ACTs 3rd leg runner who had been running about 5 minutes faster than everyone else in the bush events all week.  Jett and I were very relieved to see that Zali had actually managed to stretch the lead a little by the time she headed towards the murdurious spectator control - a leg that came up a long steep hill in full view of the crowd.    She headed back into the forest for the last few controls then popped out again in the finish chute, handing a solid lead to the 3rd leg runner - phew!  


Then we all had a nervous wait to see if Eleanor could hold off the ACT. Things were looking touch-and-go through the spectator control as she'd already caught up some 3 minutes and we only had a couple spare.  Sure enough, despite a good 2nd half, the ACT runner appeared in the finish chute ahead of Eleanor who still posted the one of the faster times of the day.  That meant Tasmania finished 2nd in the Junior Girls relay which is still a great result. Yay!




Funnily enough a similar thing happened in the Senior Girls relay where Tasmania went into the last loop of the final leg in the lead only to be passed by the older sister of the ACT assassin in the junior girls - so another silver medal to Tasmania! Again a good result though.

Here's Zali's at her boarding school accommodation which we visited briefly today..


After all the excitement of the relay Jett and I went out to do our enter on the day courses which we both won. Yay us! We both had to suffer the same brutal spectator control that the school kids did - I was very glad I wasn't doing it on a relay team so I was able to allow myself to walk a bit of it!

On our way home we stopped at a fun looking park on the edge of Bathurst which we’d passed about 8 times the day before. It was nice to relax on the grass and play some frisbee golf before heading out to our house, arriving at sunset..




Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Today Jett and I were busy. Very busy. We had an orienteering sprint race in Bathurst to attend, then we had to cheer Zali on in the Schools Sprint Champs a few hours later at the same place. And just for the challenge, last night I decided we should do ALL the things on the Trip Advisor ‘what to do in Bathurst’ page.  In order of ranking that meant we had to do this:

I guess you are thinking this would be an impossible task for a regular human - but Jetty and I are self described super-tourists so we gave it a go..

First, the orienteering event..

It was held on a school campus on the outskirts of Bathurst.  Jett and I both ran the 2nd longest course - there were 28 controls in 3.3km.  It was lots of fun - unfortunately Jett mispunched one control but other than that he did well and was only a couple of minutes behind me - earning himself $5 of splits-cash along the way.

Then we collected some friends and went off to do a lap of Mt Panorama. That was really fun - even at 60k an hour. The bends were tight and the ups and downs were hair raising! Hard to imagine doing it in a race!


Next we went to the Motor Racing Museum.  All the cars were quite interesting but not really our thing, so it was easy to keep the visit quite short - we had to head back to the orienteering to watch Zali anyway.



Back at the event we threw a frisbee around whilst cheering on all the tasmanian competitors. Unfortunately Zali punched an incorrect control that was very close to the one she should have visited - in fact I had the same leg on my course and was almost tricked by it too - luckily I checked the control number before I punched though.  She was disappointed but not distraught.  

Back on the tourist trail Jett and I headed off to the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum - it was pretty good really - some of the fossils were amazing and they also had en exhibition of space rocks.  

Next on our list was a run around the city centre but as it was 30 degrees we decided to re-order our remaining activities and head out to Abercrombie House instead.  Abercrombie House is a stately heritage home from the 1870s which has been restored over the last 40 years by the family who now live in it.  If trip advisor hadn't told us to I wouldn't have bothered coming but actually it was quite fun to visit. There were a gadzillion staircases inside the house - on one landing I counted about 7 visible sets of stairs of various widths and destinations.




After 45 minutes of exploring the house and garden the place was closing so we headed back towards town.  We were still roasting despite the draughty rooms and high ceilings of Abercrombie House, so we stopped off at a stream on the way back to town and washed our dusty feet and legs.  

Back in town we still had to visit Machiette Park, which was conveniently part of the route of a new type of orienteering event which was being held around the streets the Bathurst CBD. Jett and I each had a map and 20 minutes to visit as many of the control sites as possible. We had an app on our phone which told us when we were at the correct location. It was quite fun although it was still hot and we were both getting a bit weary !

 Thankfully that was the last thing on our list ! After 2 orienteering events,  5 tourist destinations and 2  bonus non-tourist destinations (a supermarket & the river), we were ready to declare ourselves the Best Tourists Ever and head home to our nice little stone cottage, which was guaranteed to be nice and cool when we got there.

Way out west..

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

I wonder what this part of the country would look like if there hadn't been a gold rush.  We're driving all over the central west of NSW to get to orienteering and it feels like we're always near some former gold rush town. I guess I shouldn't be surprised as gold mining areas make for good complex orienteering maps - including bonus mine-shafts for a bit of extra excitement!

On our way home from the race held in the Roseberg State Forest today we stopped briefly at a town called Carcoar. This town used to be an administrative and banking centre for the area and the 2nd largest town west of the mountains.  But once gold was discovered further west almost everyone left.  So it was also a gold rush town in a way - everyone rushed to leave it!!

The Roseberg Forest was a really nice orienteering area. Jett and I are just doing enter on the day courses for the rest of the week - I did a pretty short course had a clean run. Jett did a course  that was a bit harder than he is used to so he had a few navigational issues but got around ok in the end. Zali raced in the schools championships for Tasmania and finished about halfway down the field which is really good. It was the longest and hardest course she's ever done.  Jon didn't get to compete as his coaching duties ramp up today.  Tomorrow we'll be back in Bathurst for another sprint race -  yay!

Long Nights

Monday, 25 September 2017

Organising these big events is hard work, as Jon and I know too well from helping with the big races in Tasmania.  This year Andy’s club doing a lot of the work for the Championships and Andy has been working hard on some clever start clocks & a start robot which calls out people’s names as it’s time for them to come forward and enter the starting gates.  Things don’t always go smoothly though - this was Andy at 11pm the night before the first race..

All went well on the day though..

Australian Champs - Day 4

Monday, 25 September 2017

Today was an official rest day.  But everyone knows that resting is for the wicked, so we headed over to Mt Canobolos near the town of Orange and did a lovely bushwalk around there.

The terrain was quite steep but really lovely - there were lots of snow gums and tussocky grasses and it was a nice contrast to the very dry and rocky landscapes around our house.  It was a lot colder up there than it has been in recent days - we were lucky to be mostly on the sheltered side of the mountain as we walked.



While we were hiking we crossed paths with a scout group of about 15 young teenagers who were starting out on an overnight hike completely unsupervised except for 3 adults who were shadowing them from a distance of about 500 metres. The adults explained to us that they weren’t intervening in anything except in case of emergency - the kids were to be completely self sufficient.

A few hours later we finished our walk at the same campground where the scouts were setting up their tents - Andy happened to have another brief chat with the adults and it turned out that just two hours into the hike the kids had managed to lose a member of their party, and not only that but they didn’t even realise it until the leaders happened across the abandoned party member some time later. Oops - I guess that’s a fail for that badge then!!

Once we finished we warmed up with a quick trip to the shops in Orange for further supplies (and oranges of course), then we made delicious pizzas back at home. Tomorrow is an early start and the first day of Zali’s schools championships campaign.

Australian Champs - Day 3

Monday, 25 September 2017

Day 3 was the Australian Middle Distance Champs which were held in the hills surrounding the old mining village of Hill End. This meant the map was littered with lots of mineshafts, some marked on the map, and some not (!!!). All competitors were required to carry a whistle in case they ended up like the koala from a few posts ago.

The area was tricky to navigate but heaps of fun. Jett had a really good run, finishing 5th in the M14 class. Zali lost a bit of time near the end of her course and was about 13th, Jon made mistakes but was running fast so finished 3rd anyway, and I had a bit of a messy run with no big mistakes. I was happy with 2nd place.

I failed to take any nice photos of the picturesque township of Hill End, so I’ll do that when we are back out there at the end of the week. In the meantime here’s the animation of my route with a few other people who have also uploaded their GPS track (click on the picture, then press play)


Australian Champs - Day 2

Monday, 25 September 2017

The sprint event was on the 2nd day of our trip. The starts weren’t until the afternoon so we had time to explore the area around the cottage in the morning before heading into Bathurst for the races.  


The campus at Charles Sturt University made for a great area for the fast and furious orienteering and despite the throat burning heat (30 degrees!) I had a good run and was stoked to get a win in my class.  Zali ran well to be about 7th in a large class, and Jett was respectable in his class (actually not his class as I’ve entered him in the age group above his real one - so he’s running against some pretty fast looking 14 year olds).  Jon made a few mistakes which had him floundering towards the middle of his field in his class.

We headed back to our house for a lovely bbq, then Jett and I continued our nightly chess tradition. Unfortunately he learnt how to play chess when he was in grade 2, so he’s no easy beat. After 4 days it’s 2 wins all.

Australian Champs - Day 1

Monday, 25 September 2017

We’re all in Bathurst at the moment for the Australian Championships Carnival which is a 9 day event featuring the Sprint, Middle, Long and Relay Champs as well as the schools championships events during the week. Jett and I were originally only going to go for the first weekend but since I'm still not working I decided to change our flights and come and stay for the whole time. Zali and Jon were always going to be participating in the entire week as Zali is on the schools team and Jon is assisting with the coaching.

The trip to Bathurst was pretty uneventful - we had time for a stop at Wentworth Falls where we went to the quirky german bakery which sells orange poppyseed cake. This cake holds happy memories as someone pulled one out at the end of an arduous canyoning trip once, and all we ate it while warming up in the sun and looking at the amazing views across the canyon. It was almost as delicious without the canyoning part. As were the pretzels and other yummy items. We arrived in Bathurst around 4pm and had a look around the city before dropping Zali and Jon off at the boarding school where they were staying.


It looks very grand from the outside - I wouldn’t describe it as grand or luxurious on the inside. In fact the dorm boarding school accommodation looked a bit like a cross between a call centre (with low partitions), and a juvenile detention centre (or the accommodation on Orange is the New Black) - but perhaps I am being a bit harsh - I’ve never really seen a boarding school in real life - and regardless of the conditions, Zali and all the other team members will have a great time hanging out with their friends for a week. They are staying in town with the rest of the teams while we are staying 1/2 an hour outside town in a nice stone cottage with the extended Simpson-Troedson family.

Class Play

Friday, 15 September 2017

This is Jett playing the golf-playing patriach of the Hare family in the combined class production of Zoom (an unusual take on the Hare and Tortoise story).  The play was an epic production, featuring a whole lot of catchy songs and going for a whopping 90 minutes.  The class managed 4 performances in 2 days, including performing for 3 other schools who were bussed in.  Very impressive.


Queens Domain

Friday, 15 September 2017

The Queens Domain is a big area of parkland and bush right next to the city.  Normally the only time I run there is when we're doing an orienteering race, so I must admit my head is down and I rarely take the time to enjoy the view.  

Today the kids did a refereeing introductory course at the Aquatic Centre, adding 1.5 hours to the already long night we had planned, so despite having a bit of a cold, I went out for a run and it was really lovely.  



The Great Koala Rescue of '93

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

In 1993 I was living in Melbourne and in the first year of my IT degree at Swinburne.  One weekend my brother Paul, friends Andy and Rob, and I, decided to drive out of town to do some orienteering training in the beautiful gold mining terrain that Ballarat had in abundance.   I was carrying some sort of injury, so my plan was to just walk around the area while the others did their own training course.

Being from Tasmania, I wasn’t very familiar with gold mining terrain and I certainly wasn't used to being in areas with mine shafts all over the place. I found them really interesting and after walking past a whole lot I couldn’t resist getting close and peering down into one of them to see how deep it was. It was surprisingly deep - almost 3 metres I reckon - but that wasn’t the most surprising thing about it - there was also the bumper bar of an old car down in there too. That would have been surprising enough, but it still wasn't even the most surprising thing about it.   The fact that there was a koala down there looking up at me was the most surprising thing of all.

How crazy was that.  I had walked past heaps of mine-shafts that day, and I only stopped to look in one, and that one happened to contain a bumper bar AND a koala.  Crazy.

I couldn’t see any way that the koala could get out of the mineshaft - the walls were vertical dirt.  but there wasn’t anything I could do about it so I continued on with my course and met everyone back at the car as planned.  Once I explained what I’d seen we decided to drive out to the area in Rob’s 4wd to investigate further.   We gathered at the spot and agreed the koala was in a predicament - it had maybe climbed or fallen down there and was stuck. The question was how we were going to get it out again.

This was all pre mobile phones but Andy happened to have a camera with him, so we actually have photographic evidence of what happened next.  I must have been the one taking the pictures as I’m not in any of them.  

Or first plan was to find something to put down into the hole so the koala had something to climb out on.  Luckily there was a long branch lying on the ground not too far away so we carried it over and gently lowered it down.  


The koala just looked at it, and up at us, as if we were stupid.   It was a narrow branch, so we were afraid that it was too thin for the koala to use.  We needed another plan.  

Without thinking it through too much we decided to lower Rob down into the hole. Incredibly we managed to do that without injury but we now had Rob and the Koala looking up at us as if we were idiots.  We suggested to Rob that he just pass up the koala to us but he wasn’t game to just lift it up without protection so we tossed down a towel that he could use to wrap it with first.  I must mention that everytime anyone came close to the edge of the shaft, a shower of dirt and small rocks were rained down onto the occupants below, making them increasingly agitated. 

After enduring several rock showers, Rob tossed the towel over the koala.  It was quite a small towel, and quite a large koala, so the end result was a bewildered koala with a towel on its head.  It was a this point that the koala obviously decided that the thought of spending the rest of its days stuck in a mineshaft with Rob and a bunch of morons kicking stones onto its head was too much, so it threw off the towel and proceeded to climb up the branch we’d put in there first.  Rob isn't visible in these photos but that is who the koala is looking at..

The branch was so flimsy that Paul had to hold onto it to keep from swinging around like a pole vault.

For a moment I was afraid it was going to keep climbing to the top of the branch and then gouge out Paul's eyes - luckily it decided to leap onto the ground as soon as it possibly could then head for the nearest tree.


 Once safely ensconced high in the branches it embarked on an arial assault of sticks and scary sounding growls.


Meanwhile our heros hauled Rob out of the ground and we all drove back to Melbourne hardly able to believe the surreal events of the day.  I'm not sure how long the life-span of a koala is, but I'd hazard a guess that it still hates us now, almost 25 years later - it certainly hasn't sent us a thank you card. 

It's good to finally have this story written down - thank you to Andy for scanning and emailing the photos to me today, prompted by my bird rescue story.
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