Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all the very best for the season and the New Year! to all my friends I wish you peace and happiness for 2010. We celebrate Christmas with many of the English traditions, but over the years a more "local" favour has become popular- seafood.

5 whole lobsters!

You see some Christmas days are very hot and cooking a Turkey leaves the chef a little worse for wear. So, King Prawns, Lobsters and oysters become a relaxing way to eat with a fine white wine or ale. This is suited for lunch and the turkey can be served in the evening.

The lobsters I did are simple. Cut the lobsters down the centre, clean/wash the shells. Add a knob of butter to each 1/2 with herbs of the provence. Add a tiny amount of black pepper. Pre heat you bbq with lid closed. Place lobsters inside.

Whilst the butter is melting mix up 150ml of double thick cream, one tea spoon of horseradish, 150ml of mayonnaise, tea spoon of french mustard. To this add ground black pepper and French course salt. squeeze 1/2 a lemon and stir until well mixed. Taste, add bits to you liking (eg more salt, more lemon juice etc.

Place in fridge for a few minutes. By now the lobsters will be ready. Serve and a spoonful of your sauce as you see fit- hey presto Quick- not hot oven running inside and Delicious ( even if I do say so myself!)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bush Fires

Fire in the Grose Valley. Photographer Will Barton.

Over the weekend we were reminded about our vulnerability to bushfires.Another fire burning in the national park approximately 3km from my home. This is the 2nd fire in as many weeks, and we seem to be experiencing them every year.

So what are we to do? It's frankly ridiculous to rely on emergency services. If you do you run the risks of serious injury, loss of assets and even death. So, you must have a plan and discuss this with the family.

The terrain of the Blue Mountains were the latest fire is.

This is what I have in place. I stress it might not save my home but.....

1. Have a plan for escape. Know the safest way to depart your home.
2. Choose to stay and fight or go. In my families case they are all to leave and I stay (unless directed by emergency services to leave).
3. Always have your home prepared.. its no use jumping on your roof, stressed, running around trying to clear gutters or leaves and debris as the fire approaches.
4. Keep your gardens clean and clear always.
5. Have the following items (this is based on having a water tank and or pool)

a. A quality fire fighting pump and hoses with reels long enough to reach the extremities of the property. These can run 2 lines and are portable. in my case if the water tank runs low I can detach and move it to the pool.

b. A quality generator. Very often the power is cut in a fire and if its not, its advisable to cut the power at the box anyway- this reduces the chance of electricity adding to your woes. The generator can run your fridge, a light and the electric pump on your tank.

c. A chain saw. Vital to cut away any trees, branches that may fall.

d. A couple of deep buckets, and domestic buckets with string mops.

e. Fire extinguisher for electrical fires.

f. A blower vac to blow/remove leaves from gutters

g. some form of plug to block your down pipes from the gutters.

h. A good ladder

A Davey fire fighting pump.

Clothing:- Wear a singlet, tee shirt, a shirt (made of cotton not synthetic), and a woolen jumper. Jeans or woolen pants, woolen socks and boots plus leather or cotton gloves. Over this some overalls if you can. These items will shield you from the radiant heat- you can soak yourself with water and wool is a great fire retardant.

B. Wear a face mask- smoke can/will choke and inhaling hot air can burn your lungs.

C. Wear goggles, for the same reason.

You must have these items all within easy access. If you are in a panic/hurry there is nothing worse than not being able to find these items.

Now what do you do? You have been advised to act:- I ensure that:-

1. The bath is full of water, Sinks are full of water, laundry tubs and all buckets are full of water.

2.String mops are in large buckets and place at front and rear of house.

3. There are a supply of towels and blankets which are WET! Theses can be placed around windows and doors and can be used to smother flames. A large wet blanket can shield you if you need to escape.

4. The fire hoses are unrolled and in place- these items are heavy when full of water, so best to have them in position.

5. Have your ladder at the roof for ease of access

6. Knowing that your gutters are clean- block the down pipes and fill the gutters with water.

7. Remove the man hole cover so you can gain access to inspect the roof cavity. many fires are buring inside your home from embers blowing under tiles.. by keeping an eye on it you can act asap.

8. If you have the money- a good quality sprinkler system is a boon!


The embers are falling what to do? In my home I do not have town water, so every drop counts in the fight- its no use blasting a few small spot fires with you fire hoses. Use appropriate methods and suit the attack. Eg A wet blanket is brilliant at smothering fire, or a string mop. On small embers use a bucket.

Constantly check your roof. Of course you have "safe" easy, access and your hose is there ready do put out the embers.

If the fire increases so too, should your level. eg use a garden hose and finally your fire fighting hoses, and if you have it- turn on your sprinkler system.

You need enough water for 20 minutes -30 minutes of heavy attack.

Grose Valley Fire at night. Photographer Will Barton

Know where the fire is coming from:-

If you do not you cannot plan your escape should the fire be too intense. In my case driving out my driveway is not an option as the fires are generally predicted from the south/west. for me escape is across my back yard- through my neighbours place to where my car is parked in an open area.

I stress this is absolutely LAST resort.

I am sure the Rural fire service would have better/ more advice. I have to say- looking at the lack of readiness from some I am not sure if people care or are concerned.. I just wonder how many would blame the services of failure should there house burn down?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Uni Cycle

For Davids birthday he requested a uni cycle. They say it takes twice as long to learn to ride as it does a push bike. Here is a short clip of Davids third attempt.

Pretty cool eh? I wonder if it would rate a mention in the Titchfield Cycling Associations blog?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Culgoa National Park

Sorry for so many short posts, but this is the time where the work load increases towards Christmas. Simply this- I intend to visit Culgoa National Park. The park was set up in 1996 to protect the river and the unique flood plains that stretch from Qld into NSW. Situated about 180k north east of Bourke or 120k north west of Brewarrina, This park enjoys ample bird life, semi arid conditions and with 22,000 hectares there is plenty to explore which you can literally sit under the shade of a coolibah tree!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sacred Kingfisher

Today, having just reversed out of my driveway I spotted a Sacred Kingfisher. This is the first time in 9 years I have seen one in the mountains. A very beautiful little bird, and related to the kookaburra, its about 1/2 the size.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hawkesbury River

Hawkesbury River

One of life's simple pleasures is to go fishing. Dave has developed a love of it and with a tackle box full of new and exciting lures, some instructions on fishing for Flathead and a map, we decided to head off down the Hawkesburys lower reaches.
Lets go fishing

Leaving home at 5.30am to catch the low tide and dawn the river looked stunning, with tall escarpments, native vegetation and that salt smell on the dawn breeze.

We chose to try Dinner Creek first- I mean with such a name who could resist? Wild life abounded. We saw birds such as Superb Wren, White necked Heron, Little Egret not to mention Mullet throwing themselves above the water. Evidence of fish were everywhere- except my sons fishing rod.

Dinner Creek.

After an hour we tried the river itself. To our surprise we stumbled on what appears to be a wild pig! Nothing comes as a surprise to me. I nearly ran over a deer coming to work the other day, and despite National Parks efforts, ferals seems to be getting worse not better. After a few hours of fishing and with the weather turning for the worst, it was time to pack up and head home. Dave was disappointed but still had a great morning. Next time we will take some bait and use a different approach!

Monday, October 19, 2009


North light comes uninvited,
Through the window to where you lie.
Disjointed, dust and silence,
Quite at a loss.

I feel strange, I feel changed.
I feel strange,
Overcome, Overcome by you.
I fell in too deep,
But I learned to swim.
In an undertow,
I sense I'm giving in.
I feel strange,I feel changed.
I feel strange,
Overcome, Overcome by you.

I'm a little bit wiser,
I'm a little bit sadder,
I'm a little bit less, (you might have guessed)
But if you could be staying,
Tell me now, I think I'm fading.
I swear I'll never trade your life for a lie.

Overcome by you.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pierces Pass

Blue Gum
Last week I took another route into the Blue Gum Forest. You might recall earlier posts about Perrys Lookdown, Victoria Falls, Evans Head, Lockleys Pylon, well these all lead into the Forest.
To enjoy this walk you need to travel the Bells Line of road, passing Mt Tomah, as well as Mount Banks. About a kilometre on in a National Parks sign indicating Pierces Pass. Turn onto the dirt road and travel about a 1.5kilometres to the car park. There are BBQ amenities as well as an Ablutions block. Bring your own water.

Walking Track
The walk is graded hard 3 hours one way and it travels through a mixture of country. The track is well defined and follows a gully which in turn leads beside a creek. The dramatic change from scrub to rainforest always catches me by surprise. The track then heads out to a more exposed cliff line. Its here that the world heritage cliff lines and escarpments take dramatic effect. The sound of Bell minors filling the air.

Termite Nest
The weather was not the best, wet yet steamy. It was not too long before I found it was easier to walk in the rain without the waterproofs on. Sadly in some of the more open areas there are dramatic weed infestations similar to those found on Mount Banks. I think a comprehensive spraying is in order.

The Creek
Continuing the decent the track follow a ridge, across a saddle before making a steep and final drop into the creek a small flat camping area is found and looks appealing. The track crosses the creek and on the other bank is the walking track to either Victoria Falls or Blue Gum. Turn right for Victoria falls or left to Blue Gum. It is not too long before you arrive in the majestic Blue Gum forest. By now it was time for lunch and to sit by the creek was very pleasurable. After sometime returning back the way I came.

The Beautiful Warratah
The climb out is steep but rewarding again with superb views. The only incident was nearly stepping on a snake which was sunning itself between the showers. I had no idea I could jump so high! I returned to the car park in just over 3 hours. I have to confess I am not as fit as I would like and this walk certainly took a bit of an effort! All in all a walk I highly recommend.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Eastern Rosella

(Not my photo)

I saw one..

In the Burralow. Whilst I have seen plenty of Chrimson Rosellas. this is the first Eastern I have seen.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Not much to tell, but for my overseas friends the video might give you an idea what the countryside looks like. All birds spotted were spotted from the car. The Superb Blue Wren was nearly a windscreen mascot! I do like Melbourne with its wide streets and bridges. Its a small model of Paris in some ways. Its about a nine hour drive door to door.

Birds spotted:-Australian Magpie, Grey Butcherbird, King Parrot, Sulpur Crested Cockatoo, Pee Wee, Galah, Straw Necked Ibis, Little Raven, Australian Raven, Silver Gull, Wedge tailed Eagle, Black Shouldered Kite, Nankeen Kestrel, Willy Wagtail, Welcome Swallow, Brown Goshawk, Black Faced Cuckoo Shrike, Australian Wood Duck, White Necked Heron, Cattle Egret, Pacific Black Duck, Black Kite, Little pied Cormorant, Superb Blue Wren, Rainbow Bee Eater, Common Bronzewing, Crested Pidgeon, Red Wattlebird, Masked Lapwing, Dusky Moorhen.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Weekend Kayak

Approaching some minor rapids.

With the weather perfect, it was time to dust off the old kayak and have a bit of a paddle. This trip was down the Grose River, into the Hawkesbury and return. All up about 3 hours. It was very enjoyable.

As you can hear in the video, there was quite a lot of bird calls.

Birds spotted:- Australian Pelican, Grey Fantail, Red Browed Firetail Finch, White Faced Heron, Dusky Moorhen, Grebe, Welcome Swallow, Galah, Pee wee, Australian Raven, Laughing Kookaburra, Pacific Black Duck, Little black Cormorant, Little Pied Cormorant,Masked Lapwing, Great Cormorant, Pied Cormorant, Australian Magpie,Rosella, King Parrot, Bell Minor, Whipbird (M&F), Crested Pigeon, Common Bronze Wing.

Wildlife spotted:- Water Dragon.

Finally returning, I decided to test the Jeep on a fire trail- its first "off road" trip in 35 years. As you can hear in the video there are more squeaks and rattles than a railway carriage. I cannot say that the trip was enjoyable as I was waiting for something to fall off (like a wheel..!!), instead smoke began to billow from the floor....Stupid me did not release the handbrake properly, and once released the jeep settled down.

The Jeep on its first run into the bush.

I was overtaken by a guy on a motor bike, and once I caught up wanted to chat about the Jeep. Jeeps are like that, always a topic of conversation and bringing smiles to people.
I returned home in one piece, although I noticed the drivers front wheel/ steering linkages need attention. I will get the mechanics to have a look and make some repairs.

A great day was had!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Come for a drive

It was such a beautiful day, and with the roof off the Jeep is a lot of fun

Monday, August 17, 2009

My favorite modes of travel

Having too much time on my hands because I am at home with the flu, I reflected on some of my favorite means of transport. Now, lets not forget previous posts, where I mention my Scarpa boots, and the Troopcarrier (sadly gone but not forgotten), the WW2 Jeep as well as an array of motor bikes, but this time I want to reflect on a few other current ones.

The Subaru WRX STi with MRT enhancements Spec C 220kw at the wheels
This car is one of the best I have driven. Fast but tractable, it has a lot of performance but is not grumpy in traffic ( unlike the Evo9). A uncompromising car yet will do less than 10 litres per hundred. Brilliant for all its performance

My Cannondale Prophet Mtn Bike. Just a brilliant bike. Happy at speed downhill, but equally as happy at "stall speed" up some steep technical hill, it's reliable and forgiving. I am not sure that Cannondale has made another bike I would replace it with.

My Australian "Whaler." Captured in the desert at Leigh Creek, South Australia. This is a sentimental one.. The "Whaler" was a horse that was bred for the Australian infantry in WW1 later being used by British forces. A horse that has all the strengths of an Arab (fast, stamina light on its feet) but all the strengths of a Thoroughbred as well. Mine was classified as an officers mount, because he had a beautiful head. Its claimed the Whaler was one of the reasons for the Australian success at Bersheeba- Shaddow (as he was called). Took me a lot of time to gain trust and for him to get used to a more "domestic" environment than his original desert home.

My Kayak. What can I say? A paddle down the river on sunset... nothing better.

The Landcruiser on a fire trail. This is the new trayback. Videos dont really show how rough the track is, but the film stops only because I could not drive and film at the same time...

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Make My Day" awards!

Last year I had the pleasure to receive a "Make My Day Award" and just this week I received a "Thank You " award from Julie at "Being Ruby". Its always nice to receive compliments and encouragement, so this is my way of saying thank you by giving Being Ruby the "Make My Day Award" too.
Julie's blog caught my eye with great photography, interesting dialogue about such topics as the Tour d France, as well as other far away places in Italy and Europe.

Another blog that receives my "Make My Day Award" is Maalie. A good friend of mine, his blog is informative and Maalie always has interesting and surprising places he seems to pop up in!

The final Blog that receives my "Make My Day Award" is Lost and Found in India. Again another interesting blog full of surprises, and I find the different lifestyle of Braja fascinating. Each has a link on my blog and I encourage you to have a peak.

The start of the fire trail

So now the awards are out of the way.... Last Sunday it was time to test the new Landcruiser out on a fire trail and to enjoy a Coopers vintage ale at the end.

Coopers Vintage Ale

I have to confess that after mowing lawns, cleaning roof gutters as well as picking up all the leaves on driveways and foot paths, the rest was well received!

I stress that the ale was drunk at room temperature as I have a wager with Maalie re the Test cricket. I love the Australian bush and the Blue Mountains, there is always something to see.

Birds seen:- Gang Gang Parrot, Rosella, King Parrot, Superb Fairy Wren, Australian Magpie, Pee Wee.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cedar Valley, Walls Pass, and the Burralow Swamp

Cedar Valley Blue Mountains.

Neither walks are related- It's only that I want to combine two walks in the one post!

Last week I walked the Narrow Neck to the fire tower, then headed east to Walls Pass, (a chain down a rock ledge), that leads into the Cedar Valley. Why? To gain another perspective of just how someone could get lost for 12 days. Why Cedar Valley? Well, it's to the west of the Ruined Castle and if you click on the photo you will see that the valley looks like and ocean. Many years ago I walked through this valley and despite the best navigation, the terrain pushes you to the South, and it's difficult to fight.

I retuned after a number of hours and 20km (approx). There are just so many walks off the Narrow Neck and I have done posts on what an enjoyable bike ride it is too- some walks require rope so you can lower your pack down but again I was equipped only with a camel back so it was not an issue.

Birds seen:- Lewins Honey Eater, Eastern Spinebill, New Holland Honey Eater, Yellow Rumped Thornbill, Wattlebird, Australian Magpie, Bell Minor, Rosella, King Parrot. White Plumed Honey Eater.

The beginning of the trail beside the swamp.

The Burralow swamp is in my  back yard, no not literally!  I mean its a short ride, or 4wd drive into this magical place.  This was Australia's first  rice farm and may years ago I could ride my  horse passed the ruins of the old homestead. It has long gone and in fact the trails are becoming overgrown and its a literal bush bash to even walk where I could once ride even a bike. I am  not sure why the national parks do this. I  can  understand stopping vehicles, but this is such a great  walk.. There are even convict ruins- so much a part of our history, yet  there is no information about it provided anywhere.
Where once the Homestead stood. 

However, the day was perfect- golden sun 18c, the wattles perfumed the air, and it was not too long before we spotted a Glossy Black Cockatoo! These birds are on the "scarce" list, potentially endangered, so we have to report the sighting to National parks.

Birds nest! A Wren or Honey eater ( not sure)

Soon we spotted Yellow Robin, Superb Fairy  Wren, Whip Bird, both  male and female and of course a Kookaburra. The woods were full of brown flitty  things, but they  were so quick I could not get a good spot. I will say  they  looked like thornbills etc, but what  type I  do  not know.

The bush began to thicken and in some parts we were almost  on our hands and knees. In one spot the dew had frozen to the grass creating a magical environment.

Frozen dew!

After 4 hours we returned, tired but satisfied we had explored further this wonderful valley.

PS. It  appears that  David may  have been bitten by a snake.. He seems fine but has 2 distinct Puncture marks on his lower leg. We will monitor this and see how he goes. Not all snakes inject as it takes so much out of them.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Claustral Canyon

Sound advise!

Mt Tomah is situated along the Bells Line of Road, and is famous for its beautiful botanical gardens. Yet some of the most difficult terrain lies just to its south and is renowned for its spectacular canyons. This area is really for the experienced walkers only and venturing into the canyons requires abseiling equipment combined with the right skills and weather conditions.

Lightly timbered walking track.

I would recommend going with guides who have done the canyons before and have an understanding of them.
David and I chose to explore the terrain, and learn the tracks and trails surrounding these beautiful yet potentially dangerous places.
The walk commences at the end of Charley's Road. Here there is a stile over the fence and a well defined walking track which becomes a fire trail. Spectacular views back towards Sydney or west towards Mt Banks can be enjoyed. This is private property and it is important to remain on the track.

Another superb view of Mt Banks.

After 800 metres the track forks- take the track to the right which descends into a thicker section of forest. A small National Park sign on the left is the only indication that you should leave the fire trail.

Heavily timbered walking trail

Follow the walking track which is less defined, being careful to remain on the single track. Unlike other walking tracks, (which English tourists get lost on), this track is not as well defined so careful observation of key points is required.

After about 800 metres you come to Camels saddle and, after crossing a rocky "causeway" you then come to a fork. The main track on the right will take you to the start of Claustral creek which soon becomes the start of the canyon

The Camels Hump

For walkers it is better to take the left fork onto Camels Hump. If you continue on the eastern side of the hump you will soon enter Rainbow Ravine through a ferny chasm. Carmarthan Brook has a 6 metre drop and caution is advised. It was at this point we chose to return. If you chose to climb down there are fascinating glow worm caves, fall s and numerous other interesting features. How far into the canyons you go is up to you.

To return simply retrace your steps. We enjoyed our walk , exploring new country, but we also know our limitations. With my arthritis sore I did not want to risk failing to climb back to the top. David felt this was a "good walk" but not the best as a result. To enjoy this area fully, maps, compass, wet weather gear and abseiling equipment should be taken. I would strongly advise going with an experienced group and guide.

Total distance 5km.

Birds seen:- Rosellas, King Parrots, Wedge Tailed Eagles, Grey Butcher Bird, Yellow Rumped Thornbill, Common Bronzewing, Wattlebird, Superb Fairy Wren, Brown Tree Creeper, Bell Minor, Willy Wag Tail, Pee Wee, Australian Magpie.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Flame trees

This reminds me SO much  of my  teenage years and the place I grew up in..

Kids out driving Saturday afternoon pass me by.
I'm just savouring familiar sights.
We share some history, this town and I,
And I can't stop that long forgotten feeling of her.
Try to book a room to stay tonight.
Number one is to find some friends to say "You're doing well!"
"After all this time you boys look just the same. "
Number two is the happy hour at one of two hotels.
Settle in to play "Do you remember so and so?"
Number three is never say her name.

Oh the flame trees will blind the weary driver.
And there's nothing else could set fire to this town.
There's no change, there's no pace, Everything within its place,
Just makes it harder to believe that she won't be around.

But Ah! Who needs that sentimental bullshit, anyway?
Takes more than just a memory to make me cry.
I'm happy just to sit here round a table with old friends,
And see which one of us can tell the biggest lies.

There's a girl falling in love near where the pianola stands.
With her young local factory out-of-worker, just holding hands.
And I'm wondering if he'll go or if he'll stay?
Do you remember, nothing stopped us on the field In our day.
Oh the flame trees will blind the weary driver.
And there's nothing else could set fire to this town.
There's no change, there's no pace, Everything within its place.
Just makes it harder to believe that she won't be around.
Oh the flame trees will blind the weary driver,
And there's nothing else could set fire to this town.
There's no change, there's no pace,
Everything within its place,
Just makes it harder to believe that she won't be around

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Victoria Falls

The trail into the National Park

With the terrible news of a British  backpacker, feared dead and missing for 8 days, after walking in the Blue Mountains,  I feel the need to stress the importance of a few basics steps that  will help prevent trouble should you  want to enjoy  this wilderness area.

1. Plan your trip.
2. Tell others where you are going, what  your time frame is.
3. Take a mobile phone. They  do work in a lot of areas e.g.  on top of Mt Solitary.
4. Research your  trip.  Many  are unaware that there are a lot of mine shafts in the Blue Mountains.
5. If possible do not travel alone. 3 is an ideal number
6. When  walking in a group only  go as fast  as the slowest member, never walk off ahead.
7. Wear appropriate clothing. Again, today I met a guy  in a suit, business shoes and no water.
8. ALWAYS carry water with a little in reserve, a first aid kit, and enough food for an emergency night stop.
9. ALWAYS take a rain jacket and something warm. Even on  a hot day. 
10 Always take a box of waterproof matches.
11. Use a map.  There are many  little tracks that  are often "blind" but can take you  away from  the correct one.
12. Take a gps and use it
13. Know your fitness level. If you are unfit- don't do it.
14. If you are in trouble- stop, think and do not panic.  Panic will only  make it worse.

David admiring the view from one of the viewing platforms.

It's just  simple stuff, but it is simple to fall over and break a leg too. These simple things can make a night out easier, and for rescuers to find you faster. Sadly I  feel society  is being "dumbed down"  and a lot of people think its the responsibility of National Parks, rangers and rescuers and that its easy  for them  to find you. Its not.   

Today David wanted to walk to Victoria Falls to look for birds and yabbies.  I  am  pleased to say we saw both.  Its a great  walk, with  spectacular views and as said in previous posts, the western end of the Grose Valley- leading into the Blue Gum forests and all those other places I have mentioned in previous posts.

Tall ancient tree fern forests.

I love the Blue Mountains, Its where I feel at ease with myself, its where I can build my  relationship  with  my  son- away from the hectic pace of city  life. Where basics are the key. I  enjoy  watching him grow, watching him become fitter, and listen to his conversations. These are true gifts.

After a few hours we returned refreshed.

The Cascades. Red yabbies live in these pools

 On this walk we spotted:- Pee Wee, Superb fairy Wren, Black faced Cuckoo Shrike, Bell Minor, Currawong, Wedge tailed Eagle, Noisy Minor, Australian MAgpie, Striated Thornbill, Grey  fantail, Whipbird, Lyrebird, Brown Tree Creeper and Willy Wagtail.

Stop Press:- I did not announce that my  favorite car- the Landcruiser Troopcarrier was sold a few weeks ago, (photos of her to the right). Sadly, on the last  major trip she had some mechanical failures and I felt it was appropriate to find another vehicle. It carried Maalie and myself though the outback, and my  family  on numerous trips into the desert. It was the topic of conversation at pubs too (  Jim  will verify this) because it was so COOL! It  will be sadly  missed. But! I  have bought a Landcruiser tray back turbo diesel which I  will make into a camper.  It went on trial today, and pulled through with  flying colours. Better fuel economy, better in difficult situations, and more comfortable with  its later model suspension. It's a welcome addition to  the family!  I am sure Maalie cannot wait to get on a plane and trial it!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Memories of Shetland

Maalie and "yours truly" leaving Aberdeen

Maalie recently blogged about Shetland, and it evoked some very fond memories that I wanted to share with you.
In 2002 I was in the UK for a number of reasons. I had a singing career that had potential, and with the help of Cathay Pacific, Sylvie Guillem , London Review magazine I was to have an audition with the Royal Opera.

The hut which was home for those days.
Sadly a health issue arose in 2001 and I had to concentrate on it, the doctors telling me I might have cancer, and so the audition was cancelled. Yet against doctors advise, I went ahead with the trip.
Frankly I did not know what to expect. Jim had helped me with a number of things and I thought it would be nice to meet.

Heading out in the Zodiac, Maalie at the helm!
So , after 38 plus hours in the plane, and a trip to Aberdeen I meet Jim for the first time.

 I am going to say this- Shetland was, and still is, the most memorable experience of my life. With like minded people, who loved birds, opera , ballet, beer.. it was a mix of the most amazing experiences that I shall take with me wherever I go. Jim became an instant friend. A deep friendship, not formed in just trivial things, but across a range of issues, and shared experiences.
The Rumble. I am  a member!

With my time spent there, I discovered the world, opened my mind to other feelings and tastes, of ideas and attitudes- it was incredible. When I left I shed a tear. The doctors told me I may not make it to 50 years of age, my singing fell in a heap, yet I had something more valuable, more precious happened when I was there- I formed friendships. The most valuable gift on earth.
Big Dave and Maalie heading out for research.

There is too much to write here. I hope you will enjoy the photos, and if you want to share more, there will be further posts.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls.

Another attractive area in the Blue Mountains is Wentworth Falls. As an extension of the Valleys of the Waters walk I did a month ago, and with the weather quite ordinary, I was determined to get out of the house and explore the varieties of tracks that this area has to offer.

Red Browed Firetail Finch

Commencing at the West Street, I took the Short Cut Track, which is a fire trail, to the Conservation Hut. The weather was foul yet I still spotted Red Browed Firetail Finch and White Throated Tree Creeper as well as Yellow Rumped Thornbill and Wattlebird.

From the Conservation Hut to the falls themselves is a short, brisk walk with spectacular views across the Jamison Valley. Wentworth Falls is in two sections with superb views from the top, the centre and the bottom.

Steep Stairs

The track then crosses the falls and a well defined, steep, rock staircase takes you to the middle section of the falls. These steps again remind me of a Tolkien adventure. Further along you can turn left and walk to the bottom of the falls- the advise from National Parks is only if you are experienced. Whilst I feel that its not too difficult, there are plenty of tourists who could find themselves stressed by being inappropriately equipped- I saw one guy in UGG boots...

Mt Solitary above the clouds.

Its a fantastic walk, as the track follows the cliff line, under waterfalls, over bridges and ladders. Following the track which hugs the cliff face until it reaches Vera falls as mentioned in a previous post. There are quiet dark forests, exposed rocks and cliffs all within easy reach.

More water falls.

There are many tracks and diversions, however follow the advise of the National Parks signs, Avoid the tracks that are marked "Exerienced Walkers Only", and you can get fresh air, great views, exercise regardless of the conditions! Walk distance about 8km.

Birds seen:- New Holland Honey eater, Eastern Spinebill,Red Browed Firetail Finch, White Throated Tree Creeper, Wattlebird, Yellow Tufted Honey Eater, Currawong, Grey Butcherbird, King Parrot, Bell Minor,