Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Tip.

Troopie loaded ready for the tip

Having received some emails from friends asking me what I did on the weekend, I thought I would blog about the "dull bits." Saturday I worked ( yawn), and Sunday I went to the tip. Where I live is right next to a National Park, and our home has large turpentine trees, tree ferns and a large garden. Every 4 weeks I have to clean the gutters, trim, rake, and take a trailer load of clippings to the tip. The garden produces SO much clippings I have run out of space to mulch.

The garden

One of the things I enjoy about the garden and this time of year are the birds. We have a new pied Butcher bird in the area and watching them fight is amazing. Exactly like eagles! They lock talons and fall to the earth! The new one is a rusty colour and quite a personality.

Mr Kookaburra looks on with disgust as I clean the gutter!

Anyway, after working all day, I load the trailer and we are off to the tip. The trip is uneventful, but is is VERY important when you arrive at the tip that you can reverse a trailer properly. Of course we did so....

The tip face.

After unloading, its thumbs up and we are off back home.... where I spent 2 hours cleaning the BBQ. So, it's 10 hours all wonder I feel rooted.

Dave gives the thumbs up....

Anyway, the BBQ looked SO clean and new but it was TOO cold &I did not use it!


And thats all

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Coolah Tops National Park

One of the most pleasant parks in NSW is Coolah Tops. Gazetted as a park in 1996 it was once logged for its timbers. A pleasant 3-4 hour drive via Mudgee/Gulgong and the township of Coolah, it sits high in the ranges west of Barrington Tops. For others, a drive north to Singleton/Merriwa is ideal and again the country side is stunning. A rich sheep grazing region and either direction will take you through wonderful wine making regions of Mudgee or the Hunter.

The road in and feral goats!

The park itself is well sign posted, and the road is easy and pleasant. Dirt, and well maintained, a standard family sedan will do it easy in the dry.
The road climbs steadily through farmland. Here we were greeted by fox, rabbit, goats, (in fact they were huge!), sheep and a variety of Wallaby and Wallaroos. Wallaroos are not a Kangaroo nor a Wallaby. In fact they are black and very heavy set..More like a rugby hooker in dimensions!
A wedge tailed eagle was spotted swooping into the goat population. Clearly chasing a meal, and using the thermals to glide effortlessly above them.

Heavy timbered areas.

Bird life abounds- Turquoise parrot, Eastern Rosella, as well as Wood Ducks and the usual Australian Magpies were abundant.
After a few km you reach the top and enter the park itself. Heavily timbered, it is like an oasis in the middle of farmland. Sulphur Crested Cockatoos screeched overhead in response to Black Kites also rising on thermals.

The nice thing about this park is the camping areas. An abundance of fireplaces and fire wood PLUS the fact that you can park your vehicle right were you camp makes it fantastic. Most national parks have fencing, preventing the vehicles being parked in the camping areas...

Setting up!

We chose Coxes Creek campsite, and we had it all to ourselves. But there are plenty of other campsites to chose from.
We soon had a fire started and David and I cooked a meal of baked beans, frankfurters and grated cheese- camp food at its best! For desert, plum pudding with a cup of tea.

Plenty of fire wood and a warm fire!

As the sun set wallabies began to graze around us, and sugar gliders leaped from tree to tree. Frankly the bush was very noisy!
By 8.30 the temperature plummeted and even though the fire was roaring, its was not long before we got into our accommodation.

Wallabies abound! (get it?? a-bound)

At dawn and awakened by the parrots, we had breakfast and set out on the mountain bikes north to the lookout. A pleasant easy grade ride through tall timber, and tall grass tree forests.. These seemed a reminder of years gone by.
After a few km, we are greeted by one of the best views. David certainly said he added it to his list of "Best Ever." On returning we spotted White Browed Tree creeper, Eastern Yellow Robin and Yellow Thornbill.

David and the incredible views to the north!

On the other side of the park is a superb water fall, again an easy walk to the viewing platforms, we spotted White Throated Tree Creeper and Hooded Robin as well as hearing the sounds of tree frogs.
One of the other nice things about this park is that it is a clear example of just how well managed our State Forest regions are. A distinct lack of weeds and pests, well maintained roads plus all the wildlife is proof to me that they are in better shape than many of the parks under lock and key of NSW National Parks. However, Mudgee National Parks office continues to maintian the park to a high standard. My only concern was the feral goats right up against the parks fence line.. I phoned the office and they admitted that some of the local farmers were a bit of a problem.

Incredible Grass trees.

Later that day we returned to the troopie, packed and drove home, reflecting on a great weekend. I cannot stress too highly just how enjoyable this park really is, for walking, riding, birding and reflecting...

The falls.

Both bikes performed really well. Davids Giant Iguanna equipped with Judy front forks and the Cannondale Prophet were both reliable, fast and fun!

Birds spotted :- Australian Magpie, Kookaburra, Pee Wee, Pied Butcher Bird, Wedge Tailed Eagle, Wood Duck, Nankeen Kestrel, Grey Butcher Bird, Galah, Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, White Winged Chuffs, Eastern Rosella, Turquoise Parrot, King Parrot, Crested Pidgeon, Eastern Yellow Robin, Brown Tree Creeper (black backed form), Yellow Rumped Thornbill, Brown Thornbill, White Throated Tree Creeper, Hooded Robin (female), Welcome Swallow, Black Kite, Black Shouldered Kite, Straw Necked Ibis, Australian Pelican, Willy Wagtail, Noisey Miner, Bell Miner, Common Starling, Black Currawong, Australian Raven.

Wildlife spotted:- Sugar Gliders, Red-backed Wallabies, Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Wallaroos, Red fox, Rabbits, Feral Goats, Feral sheep.

Road kill spotted:- Wombat, Kangaroo, Australian Magpie, Kookaburra, Rabbit, Fox, Hare, Sheep.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wild Boar

Blogger Merisi was walking the the Vienna woods when she came across a wild boar ( see her blog), So I thought I would show you a couple of photos of australian wild boar.... these are not fake photos....

But do not worry... they cannot get away from the crocs.....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Newnes. Part Two

The beautiful valley from the top.

Last year I walked the Newnes railway track via the Coach road and Glow Worm Tunnel. Today I thought I would share the beautiful Wolgan Valley and the Newnes ruins with you from another direction.
I chose to ride my bike along the Wolgan River, which would take me from the remains of the Newnes industrial town, downstream along the Wolgan river. Distance I am unsure about, but a ride of about three hours return seemed right.

The Wogan Valley is a short drive about 35k from from Lithgow and the Wollemi National Park, of which Newnes is now a part. Take the Mudgee exit from Lithgow and follow the signs- its that simple.

Easy dirt road and stunning views

The valley itself is beautiful. Tall cliffs and escarpments on either side, gums, and farmlets only give you a taste of a by gone era. The road itself is tar from Lithgow until you reach the valley itself. It may well not be. Patched and poorly maintained by the Lithgow council, frankly it's a disgrace. However more on politics later, (and you will love it!).

Once you have descended the road becomes dirt, and easy. However don't be fooled inot a false sense of security. There are some pretty interesting bends ready to catch out the unwary. Kangaroos, Wedge Tailed Eagles and Nankeen Kestrels are just a some of the wildlife that you will find. After 30 odd km the road begins to narrow and if you look to your right,(south), you can see just where the Coach road, and Newnes railway (as well as tunnels) exist.

Not much remains of Newnes. The hotel, ( removed from the banks of the river as it was at risk of falling in), is in private hands, and a few railway carriages. After a small river crossing I encounter the old railway platform.

Easy crossing.
A drive of 2km leads me to the parking lot and I get ready for my ride. There is plenty of good quality camp sites, and the road follows the railway so it's an easy grade. In dry weather an average sedan would do it easy.

Troopie at the old Newnes railway platform
After a few minutes I am ready to ride. A slight climb up to the coking ovens is easy and I pause to reflect on the history of this place. At the turn of the 20th century, governments were looking for ways to produce oil,(sound familiar??), here the mines extracted shale oil, which was converted into paraffin, candles and oil.

David, on a previous trip, at a coking oven

Sadly (or fortunately, if you look at old photos), Newnes never really made a profit. The rail was built and was a true achievement, but crude oil ( the type we use today), was discovered, and the rest is history.
Some chimneys remain as well as retaining walls. Much of the structures were removed during the depression to build other towns. But if yuo look hard enough under the bush growth life and history can still be found. History shows that the government of the day considered damming the Wolgan River and to use it as a source for electricity. Some of the machines can be found that were used to measure the flow of the river.

The Cannondale resting against an old abandoned tractor
The ride itself is pleasant. Past old mine shafts, the track follows the river for hours. Farm shacks and old equipment can be found. Tall gums and the sounds of King Parrot, Bell minor, and Yellow Thornbill were very evident. Becoming almost "ho hum" a Lyre Bird made its way across the track.

Chimneys are just about all that remain.

Some sections were very steep and in one case, I had the bike locked up on both wheels and only just made it to the bottom.

Very steep section of track
After a few hours I returned to the troopie. A great ride in fresh air. The river looks clean and is flowing beautifully. It ultimately joins the Colo river and then the Hawkesbury. The Wollemi is just SO important and vital to the health of Sydney and NSW.

But I wonder- Driving back I noticed a huge sign. Arab Emirates are developing the valley. Placing a "resort" right in its middle. I know this might sound odd but- a number of years ago the Lithgow council suggested STRONGLY that an international airport be built in this beautiful place. It seemed a bizarre idea. Recently, there has been talk of a 6 lane freeway being built over the top of the Bells Line of Road to cut the one hour trip from Richmond by half. COINCIDENTALLY here we have one of the wealthiest airlines building in the middle of NO WHERE.

Is it me? Or does money talk more than the environment? Why do the Arabs want to build here? Why suddenly are we all being "force fed the idea that development is good?

These thoughts swirled through my head and, as I drove out of one of the most beautiful places I realised that the road improvements were not about the locals, just money. And boy does it talk. I reflected on what will happen to our future and what lies just beneath the surface of politics and our politicians....The Wolgan Survived the industrialization of the Newnes town. Perhaps it will do it again.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My favorite things. Part 2

Aerial View of Nullabor Plains

I have a cousin and he is a great bloke. He has a lot of boyish enthusiasim which is infectious!There is nothing better than getting on the phone and talking about cars, bikes, and planes! Over the years he has bought a Cessna Aerobat, a Glasair, a twin seater Pitts Special and just now a Pitts Special single seater. There was only one problem with the purchase of the latest, and that is it was located in Western Australia. Or to put it more into perspective, over 1/10 the way around the world.

Forrest Airport Nullabor Plains

Logic would argue that it would be best to get it back to the east coast was to have it put in a shipping container and transported by ship or train. But thats not what my cousin is like. Not at all. Instead of seeing a problem, he saw an oppertunity. Col and Ryan would fly it back over the entire continent, over deserts in the middle of winter all the way from Western Australia to NSW.

The team!

Now, a Pitts is an acrobatic plane. Super light weight, slow but powerful. It is not designed to fly long distances at all. Careful planning and fuel stops were required. Not only did they fly from WA to NSW but they flew there to pick it up! Col flew his Glasair, (which is like a little spitfire), across our country with Ryan and escorted his son back.

Here are some of the photos of the trip

Glasairs! they are very pretty

As you can see the country is harsh. Many of the air strips were not suitable to the Glasair as it is a finely built plane.

Glasair landing on one of the few suitable strips.

The Pitts is a very lightweight plane. Basically canvas over timber ribs with exposed cables and a 180hp engine. It is a reminder of days gone by, judging by the look on Ryans face- regardless of distance, its a thrill to fly.

The smile says it all!

I think life is about having a passion or boyish enthusiasim for whatever comes your way.
These guys have it in bucket loads! Perhaps if you travel in country NSW you will see my cousins in their magnificent flying machines!

Why do it? Just look at this photo!

Friday, July 4, 2008

A few of my favorite things

Well, I am typing this as a thunder storm rolls in and the temperature suddenly drops. I am still riding at night and on the weekend, but rather than bore you with that, my mind began to wander to the things I really like.

As some of my friends know- I love to drive cars. Always have done even as a child. It's not about how I look to others, nor the "pose value". But it's how they make me feel when I drive one or look at it. Now in this day and age with mass hysteria of global warming taking place, cars will become anti-social ("Good"! I can hear Maalie say).

This year I tried really hard to drive a hybrid- I really did. They are AWFUL!!
I tried really hard to drive a GTi Golf- I really did! Trying to cut my carbon footprint. But I frankly cannot cope. I do 1500km a week!..... This is what I drive now and I feel better for it......

However mine is silver and like the one in the video is a "z" the last of its type. They are basically an American all alloy V8 either in a 5.7litre or 6 litre format. In the UK they are known as the Vauxall Monaro, In Germany they are known as an Opel Monaro. In America- Pontiac GTO. Australia- Holden Monaro. Monaro means "wind" in Aboriginal. ( NO- to you runcible folk- wind as in the trees......)

They are quite nice to drive. Powerful, and good on the open road. The car was designed in Australia. Australian cars are built stronger than the cars in the US or Europe, as our roads are rougher. We also like the way European cars handle and, as such, our cars are a mixture of American "muscle" with European steering and braking. This means that, although the car is "big" (the size of a 500 Merc coupe) it handles well, even in wet conditions.

Anyway, here are a few other "favorites"

Porsche 993

This is the last of the air cooled version. A strong little car with a bucket of power. Not easy to drive as the engine is in the back and as such means you either must come into a corner with the power "ON" or "OFF". A change of mind in the middle of a corner will result in a spin. I sold this car to my doctor who still drives it today.

Porsche 996

A softer car than the 993 and easier to drive too. Does not feel as well built as the 993 which has that "VW beetle" strength to it. I think they built these for the American market.

Chrysler Crossfire

This is a funny sort of thing- Designed by an Englishman for an American company, and using Mercedes running gear. I did not know whether to love it or hate it. Then I bumped my head on the roof- so I hated it....

Toyota Landcruiser 4x4 fire truck

PERFECT for summers here in the peak of the bushfire season- this one, even though over 20years old had only done 10,000km!!! drove like a "dream"......

1978 Nissan Patrol 4x4 swb wagon.

As a kid all I wanted was one of these, and I got one,and I bogged it. What theis photo does not show was the water went over the bonnet and it was never the same after that....

VW Passat Rooted!

Sometimes, when young I drove too fast. This is my VW Passat- rooted. But my friends could not stop laughing.....

And of course you all know just how much I live my Landcruiser troopcarrier!!

You see, for me- its about how I feel, the movement of the vehicle, how each one is just so different, just so pleasing. I love Riley 2 1/4 saloons, Triumph TR6, Valiants and Citroen DC Pallas too. If I could have a shed full of all these cars I would!

Global warming? Yes a real issue. But I am happy to pay carbon taxes to enjoy these vehicles.