Sunday, 16 January 2022
With a perfect weather forecast it would have been a crime to not make the most my last day of holidays before going back into the coal mines tomorrow.
Jon and I did Mt Field East a few weeks ago and it was fantastic - I had never done it before. This time I decided to do Mt Field West and the Tarn Shelf. I did this exact walk back in 1989 as a training overnight hike for the overland track. I remember it was pretty tough going over the boulders of the Rodway Range with a full pack. It was certainly a lot easier today with just a day pack!
The walk starts with a steepish climb up from Lake Dobson.
Then there's a nice stretch of boardwalk (which was rare on today's walk) which heads towards the Rodway Range.
After climbing then traversing the range it was down and then up and up again onto the surprisingly flat plateau which hosts Mt Field West (the rocky peak in the image below).
It took me about 3 hours of hiking and resting to get there. The views over to Lake Pedder where Jon and I had been just a few weeks earlier were pretty good, although a low band of cloud kept lifting and then dropping again, so the views changed every few minutes.
I had already decided to go the long way back via the Tarn shelf which made the trip pretty long (it ended up being 24k), but it would have been a bit boring otherwise - Mt Field West is ok I guess, but as a day walk I think Mt Field East is much more interesting as it passes through more variety of vegetation (and amazing flowers) and the last 5k isn't such a slog! So that meant I retraced about 4km of track then took another route over the Rodway Ranges (less boulders this time) before dropping down to the end of the Tarn Shelf where I had my second lunch on the little platform.
From here it was little ups and downs until the final descent back to the Pandani Grove and Lake Dobson.
It was definitely swimming weather, so I had a delightful dip in Lake Dobson before driving home with just one last stop..
Friday, 14 January 2022
I reckon it's been at least 3 years since I went to Maria Island, possibly even 4, so when an orienteering friend mentioned in our facebook group she was going for a night this week I leapt on board and rounded up the kids for a quick trip to the island. I wasn't the only one in our group tempted, and in the end we were a group of 10 despite Zali pulling out at the last minute due to blueberry picking induced soreness.
The first thing I noticed in Triabunna was that the ferry has been upgraded. Instead of the smallish boat with a very manual method of loading the bags on and off, the new boat had a very clever bin & crane system, so we just had to dump our bags in the bin and it was all taken care of. No more chaotic human chains of bag passing with some poor sucker down in the stuffy and hot baggage hold at the very front of the boat trying to place all the bags. It was all a bit calmer and more orderly. There is even a cafe on board now!
After a smooth and speedy trip to the island it was good to see what hadn't changed - the trolleys! - they save us lugging our gear the 500m or so to the campsite.
We found a good spot to set up tents, had some lunch, then most of us set off on the Bishop and Clerk hike. I've been up before when it's been cold and windy but this time it was beautiful and calm, and the rocks were delightfully warm under-butt - we spent a while on the summit enjoying the views as a result.
On our way back to the campsite we took the long route around the headland and as usual spotted a zillion wallabys, wombats and Cape Barron geese.
It wasn't all that hot but we even went for a quick swim as well.
After a bbq dinner we sat around and played a hilarious game of cards until another camper came over to tell us we were being too loud and keeping the campsite awake! Who'd have thought we'd be the hooligans at the campsite?! In our defence it was still light (and only just after 9) when this happened, so we felt a bit hard done by, but we still finished up quickly and were all tucked into bed by 9.30.
The next morning we set off to climb Mt Maria. The weather seemed fine at the start..
but by the time we were around 1k from the top we were immersed in cloud.
so the views were not that great.
Still it was nice to be at the top after quite an arduous rock scramble.
Back below the cloud it was nice again and I took myself on an extra loop on my way home.
I made it back in time for a late lunch and swim then had to pack up my gear quickly to join everyone the 4.15 ferry home.
All up a fantastic mini-break with lots of great views, laughter and fun!
One afternoon last week I encountered Jett looking through our smoothie recipe book (an impulse buy years ago from Kmart I think). 'Lets make smoothies tomorrow' he said. This sounded like a good idea to me, so - imaging a delicious breakfast banana-choc smoothie made in our blender - I advised him to make me a shopping list, and I would go out and get the ingredients in the morning.
The next morning came and I was presented with a list that included watermelon, pineapple, strawberries & lemons. Hmm, I thought to myself, there's no bananas or vanilla yoghurt on this list. Oh well, thinking that there was no harm in blended fruit I went out to get the items. It turns out there is economic harm in fruit, at least in watermelons that cost 3.90 a kg and are only being sold whole. Consoling myself that at least it was a healthy and one-off holiday expense, I forked out around $30 (ouch) and took it all home.
With the fruit at home, Jett consulted the recipe book again and decided that he now needed a juicer. Unfortunately, Jon was in earshot as Jett mentioned this and enthusiastically became his partner in this juice (officially not a smoothie anymore) project. Twenty minutes later they had done their internet research, decided that a Nutribullet was the best juicer, and they headed off together to Harvey Norman. Thinking they would return with one of those water bottle sized appliances I didn't grumble too much at the prospect of more juice-based expense (although I did grumble a bit).
40 minutes later they returned, lugging into the house a box the size of a suitcase. It turns out that Nutribullet don't just make the water-bottle sized appliances, they make the bigger-than-a-food-processor sized appliances, specifically for making a mess on the bench top.
The bill for my smoothie dream had now risen to well over $200, and my banana chocolate smoothie was no closer to reality. In fact, as Jon read the instructions for the new appliance, my dream was futher away - it turns out that this nutribullet can't make smoothies, only juice. Sigh.
So after a lot of washing and chopping, the very fruity juice was eventually made. Although it was nice Jon decided it would be better with some crushed ice, which of course couldn't be crushed in the new juicer. Sure enough the old blender had to come out for that task. The blender that makes a very nice smoothie as it happens. sigh.
Just a day after Bruny Island I met Jo for a late afternoon stroll on the mountain. I was thinking we might be out for up to two hours but we ended up walking for over 3 hours and did 16+k with 650m+ elevation. It really didn't feel that long as we were exploring some new (to us) trails on the way up. It was really nice to take some new routes.
I'm really conscious of making the most of good weather and the remainder of my holidays so just a few days after Lake Rhona I jumped on the early morning ferry to Bruny Island so I could do one of my favourite jog-hikes - the Labillardiere Peninsula loop. It's a nice distance and lovely and soft underfoot, which is great for sore feet!
The trail is about 17k long, with only a few easy hills which I walk up anyway. It's a pretty cruisy adventure.
Normally when I do this loop I have a break for lunch then do the Fluted Cape hike to make the trip fully worthwhile (given the reasonably high cost of the ferry). This time I was finished by 11ish, so I decided to take my lunch roll with me on the Cape Queen Elizabeth hike. The last time I was on Bruny Island was right at the start of the pandemic in 2020, I remember there were signs up in the Adventure Bay Store (where I usually got a toasted sandwich from), stating that they would only sell toilet paper to locals. Unlike that trip, it was very busy with tourists this time, and I actually had trouble finding a parking spot near the start of the hike. Just as I finally pulled over I got a text from Paul, asking me if I wanted to join him and Dani for wood fired pizza at Dennes Point, the northern tip of the island. So I had to make the difficult decision of whether to take my tired body on a 12k hike, OR, sit on a sunny deck and consume pizza.
20 minutes later I was enjoying a delicious pizza in the sunshine. I wish I had taken a photo of the pizza and the location as it was simply lovely. After lunch I went for a short walk along the beach - I've only been to Dennes Point a couple of times.
With lunch and the secondary stroll complete I hightailed it onto the 2:20 ferry so as to miss the Sunday afternoon rush. What a lovely day.
Saturday, 8 January 2022
Lake Rhona has been on my to-do list for a while now, but it's always been a bit hard to schedule as it's a 3 day trip (one day to walk in, one day to walk around the ridge, one day to walk out). We're normally orienteering or away on long weekends and holidays - in fact we would have been in New Zealand if everything had gone to plan. Not this year though!
The start of the walk is about a half an hour drive from Maydena - which turned into about an hour for us as we got a bit lost on the network of forestry trails. With no internet access I only had written instructions, while Jo (in the other car that we couldn't communicate with) had map directions - which (and we didn't realise at the time) weren't the same directions that I had. This meant for some hilarious moments of me running after the other car waving my instructions and gesturing wildly to turnoffs I thought we should have taken.
We eventually found the jam packed car park and set off on the 14km hike sometime after 11. With Zali deciding not to go, the crew was me, Jon, Jett, Toby, Jo, Miriam and Lucy.
The trail was pretty nice from the start, gently descending to the Gordon River through forest and button grass. The evidence of the 2018/2019 Gell River fire was huge - it wasn't until we were finally at the lake that we could see the distinct line of where the fires stopped. I did some research and it stopped there because the fire fighters put in sprinklers from the lake up the hillside to protect the vegetation. What a save.
Anyway - after 20 minutes of easy walking we had to cross the Gordon River. There are two ways to do this - on the massive fallen tree (above), or by wading through upstream.
We elected to take the tree option - and it was pretty easy. I'm not sure how easy it would be if it was wet or slippery or partially submerged - we've heard stories of people getting stuck on the other side for days when it's raining. After crossing the river there was miles and miles of this sort of walking..
including a lunch stop at an old farm station called Gordonvale:
After 12ish kms we finally started the final climb towards the lake. It was arduous climbing the 400m elevation but quite straight forward.
And then we were there..the first glimpses of the lake were amazing:
We were met by a ranger who was doing a week long shift of advising campers where to get water and how to avoid causing further erosion to the fire affected areas. She said we were welcome to camp on the sand or back off the lake in the bushes. We chose the sand, and quickly got ourselves settled in. It was around 5pm so we didn't have to wait long before making dinner. There were about 25 other campers on the beach with us - there was plenty of room and everyone was really friendly.
After dinner we were treated to a lovely sunset back in the direction of the saddle we arrived over:
The next morning our only plan was to walk the 6km return trip up on the ridge to Mt Reid - the peak towering over the lake. Unfortunately Toby's stomach had different plans for the day so after waiting to see if he would improve for an hour or so (it didn't), we decided we needed to get him out in case he got worse - Lake Rhona wasn't the place to be with a bad stomach. So unfortunately our morning was spent packing. Luckily this didn't affect Lucy, Jo and Miriam who were able to stick to the original plan. Their photos of the trip from this point looked amazing.
Our walk out was pretty uneventful (in fact almost a bit boring after having done it the opposite way just a day before). Toby's stomach seemed to get better as we went (Lucy had supplied some good medicine as well), and by the time we got to the car he was feeling ok (phew!). Amusingly we stopped for lunch at about the same spot as the day before. We spent a bit more time at the river before making it to the car just after 3.
So while the trip wasn't quite what I was hoping for - and quite funny that after waiting ages to get 3 days free to do it, we ended up doing it in two anyway - it was still really lovely. It is a beautiful place and being able to spend the time there with my friends and family was lovely. I must say I feel great sadness that not everyone who would usually be there was there but that's just how things are.
Saturday, 1 January 2022
While Jon and I were away we spent one of the evenings planning an 18 clue treasure hunt for Zali to do for her birthday when we got home. We devised a mixture of word puzzles, rhymes, maps and other activities and I'm happy to say that it took Zali a satisfying hour or so to get through it all once we got it set up.
Along the way we had hidden the presents she'd received from family, and we used the treasure chest I made for a pirate party when the kids were very small. It was good fun (although quite complicated getting 18 clues into the right spot!).
One of the tasks:
The treasure box at the end:
On our way home from the KI ferry last week, we stopped at a place called Rapid Bay which we'd never been to before. It had a huge campground, a beach, a lot of rocks, a fenced off disused mine, a sea cave and a long jetty. I didn't think it was that great (due to the treeless hills and mostly rocky foreshore), but Zali declared it amongst the best places she had ever been and that she'd like to return there one day to camp.
Today when we got home, Zali showed us the cake she'd been working on for a few days...
It was immediately clear that it was Rapid Bay! The colours were strikingly similar, the cliffs, sea-cave, roads around the campground, beach and rocks were all there!
The detail in the cliffs was particularly impressive.
Tonight we are eating it.
On our way home to Hobart we stopped to do the hike up to The Needles, starting from the highest point of the Gordon River Road. The route is missing from brochures, and unsignposted from the road, but it's a taped and cairned route to the top of pointy jagged rocks that loom high above the car park below.
Once again it was straight up from the start through the twisted remains of the shrub that was burnt in fires of late 2018.
In fact the signs of the fire were visible from the very bottom all the way to the top - twisted and burnt bushes were just metres from the trig point. It's sad but the area was definitely recovering and the lack of low scrub seemed to be giving the opportunity to a huge range of flowers this year - popping out of the ground to create flowery meadows as we got closer to the top. Unlike yesterday's hike we had views all the way up.
It took about an hour to get to the top.
We crossed paths with a few people along the way - (certainly more than yesterday when we saw absolutely no-one and the log book showed that Mt Wedge got about 1 hiking group every 2 days). Impressive given it seems to be a word-of-mouth (or word-of-blog) hike.
On our way home to Hobart I promised Jon he'd get to see a platypus at Westerway, and sure enough the Tyenna river did not let me down - after just a few minutes of watching while we ate our lunch a big platypus appeared and spent the next 20 minutes ducking above and below the water and zooming up and down the river bank.
This is starting to feel a bit like a hiking bootcamp, but at least when we start our 3 day hike in a few days time we'll be able to say we prepared well!
Our second day at Strathgordon started with clearing skies and a warm wind. We planned to walk up Mt Wedge which was a 15 minute drive from the lodge. Almost all the walks around here go straight up from the road to a peak, then straight down again - Mt Wedge was no different.
After a short nature trail type path, the track turned steeply uphill for the next 3kms- it was pretty hard and very sweaty work! We stopped a couple of times to gulp down water but generally just continued going up, slowly and steadily. The first 2/3 of the journey was through a mossy forest, so we didn't see many views, but after a while we finally passed through some scrubby scratchy bushes and emerged high up in the sky.
We weren't done yet though - the path was filled with false summits - we were sure we were nearly there only to get to the top and see a taller peak off in the distance.
We eventually made it up to the trig point and conveniently placed helipad.
where we spent half an hour having lunch and recovering. It was windy at the top but the helipad was warmed by the sun.
The trip down was uneventful, but as always, as the path descends so steeply you always wonder how you possibly made it up at all.
Back at the car we headed back to Strathgordon, stopping to admire some wilderness art - this is called Bitumen Bones - and that's the Sentinel Range behind Jon - it was all very dramatic!
We also stopped for a quick swim at Ted's Beach in Lake Pedder. The water wasn't too bad. After a rest and a shower we went for a stroll around the lodge area - today it looked like the most amazing place ever that everyone should visit but the informational signs reminded us that it rains 250 days of the year, and I do remember it being wet and cold the last time we came (12 years ago) - so we are certainly lucky with this visit.
We had dinner in the restaurant which was nice, then we went down to the lake shore to watch the sun set. What a lovely way to end a year that has had some ups, but also some sadness and disapointments.
Thursday, 30 December 2021
Zali turns 18 in a few days and our gift to her (by her own request), is the house to herself for two nights. Actually she asked for more nights, but we settled on two as it was a bit hard to book anywhere else around this time of year.
So we are staying at Lake Pedder Lodge in Strathgordon for the next two nights which means lots more hikes and exploring of the south west wilderness for us.
Today we hiked up Mt Field East which was sensational. It was 10ish k all up and included quite a few little tarns, plenty of rocky scrambles, some delightful forest, amazing views and many many stunning flowers.
above - at the top. Below - so many flowers..
After we finished we visited Russell and Horseshoe Falls with all the other tourists..
Then we continued on to Strathgordon. We've booked the restaurant for tomorrow night but tonight our plan was to save some money and cook with our camping stuff, so once we checked into the lodge (into our pretty basic room) we drove to nearby Ted's Beach and after taking a stroll around the little boardwalk, we cooked a delicious dinner while admiring the lake views. It was still t-shirt weather at 7pm which was pretty amazing.
For some reason (something to do with Jett who used it last) our camping cutlery bag only contained 2 giant stirring spoons - it added to the novelty of the lovely evening.
We're now resting our legs and watching Netflix. What a great day!
Wednesday, 29 December 2021
After a day of useful chores including finally fixing our clunky wardrobe doors which had been almost as annoying as the screeching shower head which we finally changed over this year (after suffering for 5 years), I was ready for another day out.
I had thought I'd be by myself but much to my surprise Jett and Jon were keen to join me on a trip to Hartz Mountains and Duck Hole Lake.
We've done this walk heaps of times but it's always worth another trip. At this time of year the waratahs are still just flowering and all the other flowers look lovely.
It took us about 1:10 to get to the top. We were lucky to have it almost to ourselves as I reckon we passed about 50 people heading up as we descended.
On our way out of the park we stopped for lunch and some short side trips to some falls and a lookout.
The we set off on the fairly arduous 45 minute gravel road drive across to Duck Hole Lake carpark. It shouldn't have been quite so long but (in hindsight) Google was making fools of us. The walk into the lake was lovely and flat.
By this point in the day Jett had had more than enough time with his parents so he was keen to get home. Unfortunately Google was still playing games with us and sent us on a 20 minute detour before we decided to over-rule it and follow our noses back to the highway (which we should have done in the first place of course!). We made it home by five.
It was a big day for us. And also for Zali who took advantage of having the house to herself to make a 2 tier birthday cake (for herself), and 20 novelty cupcakes. She was nearly as exhausted as we were!
After a mostly uneventful trip back to Tassie I had the pleasure of taking a friend down to Port Arthur to do the Three Capes Track. Since I was down there I took the opportunity to do one of my favourite jog-hikes - the 18k Fortescue Bay loop.
Some sections of the trail smelt like honey from the nearby native flowers.
The loop takes me about 3 hours. Because I left late (11:15ish) I had the first 13kms pretty much to myself as the hikers were well ahead of me. Once I got to the Cape Huay turnoff it was very very busy with the daytrippers and the exhausted multi-day hikers finishing off their big adventure. It's great to see so many people out and about enjoying Tasmania.
Friday, 24 December 2021
I went for another walk/run first thing in the morning (to avoid the heat) in the nearby Belair National Park - one of my favourite things to do in Adelaide:
Then we left for Ikea. We were intending to get breakfast from there but we were disappointed to discover that they only did breakfast on weekends (at least that's what their excuse was today). So it was chicken nuggets and chips for breakfast!
After a leisurely stroll through the store, buying absolutely nothing functional...
... we went for a swim at nearby West Beach with Jon's old schoolfriend Damien and his family. Surprisingly the water felt a lot warmer than at Kangaroo Island (which was an OK temperature anyway), but I didn't enjoy being nipped on the feet by the blue swimmer crabs! By the time we were out of the water and ready to head home it was after 3, which didn't really leave Jon enough time to make the trifle he'd been talking about making for days. I think the last time he made trifle was in the days before Zali was born, and she's just about to turn 18, so he's a bit out of practise.
After more swimming and dinner Jett and I settled down to decorate a gingerbread house with various members of the Moffa clan.
I started our last day on Kangaroo Island with a nice loop run that took in the usual farming sights.
Then it was the usual flurry of tidying, packing, washing sheets and scoffing lunch before strolling onto the 1pm ferry back to the mainland. There was no rush to return to Adelaide, so we took in a few brand new sights on our way including Rapid Bay:
and the odd lookout.
Then we were back in Belair in time for a supermarket trip, a swim and a delicious dinner.