Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mountain Climb

The fire trail.

As some of you know I broke my arm, with it being in a fibreglass cast for six weeks I began to get restless. Without the ability to ride my bike or pitch a tent, or even drive the troopie, I thought " Heck, I can still walk".. and chose to take a walk to the top of Mt Banks. In previous posts I write about riding in the area a lot. This is on the fire trails that lead around the base of the mountain not to the top. 25 years ago the track was open to four wheel drives and I drove to the top. The drive was tricky as the track as I remembered had large rock steps. Once reaching the top the climate shifts and there were picnic tables under tall gums. I wondered if they were still there.

The view as we ascend. Note the fire trails below.

They day was warm, as we parked the car and got our packs ready. Only walking a few metres we were greeted by a brown snake. It took little interest in us, and we gave it the respect it deserves and were not bothered by it as it slithered past. Walking the track I normally ride really gives you a different perspective. Yellow thornbills, bearded dragons and bull ants made most of the warm track and small heath like shrubs. David and I spent time catching the lizards which was fun.

David with a lizard we caught.

Before too long, we reached the intersection for the ascent. Its a steady, not difficult climb, and it is exactly as I remember it, although a little more overgrown. The exposed heath gives way to tall gums and a more rain forest feel as the track winds around to the northern side of the Mtn. After an hour we were at the top and I was excited to see the old picnic table right were I had remembered it 25 years before!

The Picnic table!
The one disappointing thing- weeds. Lots of Scottish thistle, fire weed and wild tobacco. Similar to the problem on Mt Hay but more so. I sometimes find the "lock out and leave alone" approach of the National parks frustrating. In the 1970's the parks were pristine and weed free ( relatively). Yet you could light fires and even drive into the areas.

Walking track to the bottom

The decent from the top is spectacular. If you click on the photos you can see the fire trails I ride and the mountains look like the ocean. Within half an hour we were back to the car having spent a wonderful few hours.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

What is love?

'I love you".
So easy to say, but, so many times it does not mean a thing.
"I love you".
Could be everything, as long as we don't know what love means.
I think love is not a word we say, love is in what we do.
And when we say "we love", we have something to prove.

What is love?

I think love is nothing but the truth,
Something inside of me, and something inside of you.
love is faith and loyalty,
Love is sharing, love is to believe.
I think thats what love could be,
As so much more 'cause love is deep.

What is love?

I think love can be good, love can be bad,
Love can make you happy, love can make you sad.
Love can break your heart, love can heal your soul.
Love can die.
Love can roam.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mt Hay Pt 2

Pleasant views.
In a previous post I mentioned the ride to Mt Hay. Once you get to the Mt Hay car park, bikes are not permitted beyond that point and there is a walking track to the top, so last Sunday I decided to return and walk to the top. Mt Hay, like Mt Banks and Mt Tomah etc is a volcanic plug and is therefore very typical in shape to the other mountains created this way.

Distant land slides

The walk is pleasant, with spectacular views, leading along the escarpments and cliff edges before heading down a saddle and then making its ascent to the top. The vegetation varies a great deal in a short distance. With exposed heath, stunted banksia trees, then larger trees growing in the more sheltered areas. The track is a mixture of grasses and loose rock and rock ledges.
Views into the Grose Valley
We observed Welcome Swallow, Yellow Tailed Cockatoos, Magpie Lark and Currawong. In a more sheltered area there was Basian Thrush and a new sighting a Tawny Crowned Honey Eater. Quite a distinctive bird and its always nice to see something new.

The walking track
Whilst hot, it was not too long before we were pushing onto the top of the mountain. Thick cut grass (and yes, it will cut you like a razor) and a fire weed infestation made the walking a little more difficult, whilst on the look out for the broad headed snake which is particular to the area.
Tawny  Crowned Honeyeater (not my  photo)
At the top is a large rock cairn. The view at the top is filtered but there are glimpses of the Sydney basin. After a drink and some sultanas it was time to return to the troopie. Again, it was nice to observe Mt Banks for the opposite side of the Grose Valley, to observe Blue Gum forest and look towards Mt Victoria from a different perspective.

The top!
This area for me ranks as one of the most beautiful in the world. The day coincided with the first visit by Charles Darwin to Australia. His comments were similar as he observed Wentworth falls and the Jamison Valley at Katoomba. A pleasant day was had by all.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Fish River

Distant district views.

With a two week break, it was time to dust off the fishing rods and head out for some trout fishing. Dave and I packed the troopcarrier with the essentials, (well it was me actually), and headed off. Our destination- a farm at Tarana. Located between Lithgow and Bathurst, the property has fantastic access to the Fish River, aptly named after the explorers of the area caught a fish there. So, armed with this knowledge, there was a certain chance we might get lucky.

Magpie Hollow Road.

Following the Bells Line of road to Lithgow, you turn left onto the Great Western Highway and right into Magpie Hollow Road. Follow this until you get to a small town called Sodwalls, then follow the Tarana road. Turn right then left into Mutton Falls road, and travel about 20k. (I have really only given you this instruction because the names are so fantastic!).

As we travelled we spotted-Australian Pelican, Little Pied Cormorant, Australian Magpie and Wood Ducks. We soon arrived at the farm. Without having any real expectation we were delighted with the spot. The owners had mowed a strip along the river for the camp site, as the grass was about a metre high. The river too was wide and fast flowing with small rapids and cool pools of water. The farmer advised us to watch out for tiger snakes and eastern browns- "prolific" he said....

One of the best camp sites.

It did not take us long before we were set up and the fishing rods came out. We had two types of rods and gear, One for lure fishing the other for fly fishing. My Shakespeare Ugly Stik is ideal for bass and trout on the lure and the fly rod with hand crafted flies is also an ideal combination. The flies are simply amazing- imitating those insects and small bugs that often drop into the water.

As we inspected the river 3 fisherman came along the bank and advised us that they had bites but no luck as well as advising us that there was a large eastern brown snake about 100m upstream on the opposite bank. Caution was advised. Soon we were out fishing. I had not been fly fishing for about ten years and it took me a few attempts to get the rhythm of the casting, however I soon got back into it, although my ability to land the fly in exactly the "spot" was a bit wayward. David stuck to lures and was excited at a few nibbles.

Dave lure fishing.

The day was soon spent, and we cooked up a nice camping nosh of sausages, mashed potato and green peas. A few cold beers as well as a leisurely chat to the farmer and night was soon upon us. With an abundance of stars above it was time to call it a day.

At dawn we were greeted by a symphony of bird calls. We spotted Little Ravens, Grey Fantail, Brown Tree Creeper, Yellow Faced Honey Eater, Superb Blue Wren, Galah, Masked Wood Swallow and Leaden Flycatcher. Dave became very excited when he spotted a Platypus in the river. This is very rare and perhaps something he will see only once in his life. It is pleasing to know that the river is healthy despite all the farming and grazing close to its banks. The bird life was astounding.

Birding Essentials.

We headed up stream for a spot of fishing and birding. Our progress was made difficult by the height of the grass, up to our armpits in spots and the seeds constantly fell into our boots and clothing. With sharp burrs they were quite uncomfortable and had to be pulled out at every opportunity. After a short time we headed back mindful of just how difficult it would be to spot a snake. In fact this is how people get bitten- most snakes will not attack you but they will bite if you get too close. Short grass is not a problem.


We decided to travel into Bathurst and visit the airport where the farmer was keen to show us his airplanes and his Formula 5000 race car. David was very excited to sit behind the wheel and controls.

1963 Model "Experimental??!!

After some time we headed back and prepared to head down stream for more fishing and birding. Just as we began to head off, David noticed a large snake swimming across the river directly towards the rocks only a few metres from the camp. The birds were going crazy as the snake arrived and it seemed that it was content to remain very close. We both decided that the risk of being bitten was too great and we made an orderly retreat.

A bit more birding was in order and we spotted Golden Whistler, Wedge Tailed Eagle, Welcome Swallow, Noisy Friar bird, Noisy Minor, Dusky Moorhen as well as Whistling Kite. It was not long before we had to return home. It was a great way to spend a couple of days.

Birds Spotted-Australian Pelican, Australian Magpie, Little Raven, Wood Duck, Grey Fantail, Brown Tree Creeper, Yellow Faced Honey Eater, Superb Blue Wren, Galah, Masked Wood Swallow, Leaden Fly Catcher, Golden Whistler, Wedge Tailed Eagle, Welcome Swallow, Noisy Friarbird, Dusky Moorhen, Kookaburra, Grey Currawong, Willy Wagtail, Noisy Minor, Buff Rumped Thornbill, Yellow Thornbill, Red Rumped Parrot, Rosella, Crested Pigeon, Red Robin, White Necked Heron, Pee Wee, Whistling Kite, Black Faced Cuckoo Shrike, Nankeen Kestrel, King Parrot, Little Pied Cormorant.

Wildlife:- Eastern Brown Snake, Platypus.