Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cattai National Park

The Hawkesbury River. From the wharf.

Highlights: "The Cattai Farm area, originally a land grant to First Fleet assistant surgeon Thomas Arndell, features Arndell's 1821 cottage, historic grain silos and ruins of a windmill believed to be the oldest industrial building in NSW. In a separate section, nearby Mitchell Park features a variety of plant communities, including rare riverine rainforest."

So says the National Parks and Wildlife information site. Its a beautiful park, with lots of domestic facilities and runs right beside the Hawkesbury River. I had last visited this park when Maalie was in Australia back in 2004. This visit was a little different as I was there the cheer on my son who was in the zone (area) cross country races.

The Troopie hiding behind one of the superb BBQ facilities.

Having come 3rd in his age group in the school, (with no training I might add), he was selected to represent his school in this highly organized event..

As I have said in previous posts, the Hawkesbury region was the First Fleets food basket and remained so for many many years, supplying the Sydney markets with fresh fruit and vegies. The area is a a flood plain, and as such soils are rich and fertile.

David in amongst it! 

The drive to Cattai National park is easy- Head west from Sydney towards Windsor, and take a right hand turn to Pitt Town. About 12km from this town is the park- clearly marked. Because if its historical significance, the park is well maintained, with shelters suitable for big groups, toilet amenities and pre booked camp sites are available. Bird life is immense, with Long Lagoon nearby, its a regular haunt for avid birders...

One of the many water birds. ( not my  photo)

However today I was focused on David, who despite a very bad cold ran about 45th out of 125 boys.

Well done David!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Valley of the waters

Yellow Tufted Honey Eater.

This weekends walk is perhaps the most spectacular of all the walks in the Blue Mountains. It would take me along the nature trail and into the Valley of the Waters. It commenced in West Street, Wentworth Falls, passed Edinburgh Castle rock and along the cliffs. What is different about this walk is- most walks in the Blue Mountains are either on top of the cliffs or, down into the valleys. This walk places you in between with some of the trail cut into the side of the cliff. This give the walker incredible views and aspects. From intimate water falls to views across the Jammison Valley.

New steel walkways across swamp areas

Spectacular waterfalls, rain forests and distant views are part of the package. What surprises me though, is the number of walkers ill prepared. YOU MUST ALWAYS CARRY WATER and a FIRST AID KIT. There were a number of tourists and walkers asking me how much further to go, looking stressed and uncertain because, whilst not difficult, you must be fit. Seven km does not sound far until you are finding yourself climbing ladders and stairs that seem to go on "for ever". The best way to enjoy a walk like this is to plan, take plenty of fluid (you cannot drink from the streams as one fellow was), take lots of snacks and rest when you feel the need. Getting too focused on the walk and placing each foot in front of the other can ruin what even Charles Darwin walked and commented on. Places such as Lodard Falls and Vera Falls are truly spectacular and an ideal place for lunch or a swim ( weather permitting).

Some of the cliff faces I would walk along.

Its important to note- that there are 2 trails in this area, one that even the inexperienced ( though well equipped) can enjoy, and the other that which the national parks suggests more experienced walkers only try. All tracks are clearly sign posted.
On this walk I spotted Lewins Honey Eater, Regent Honey Eater, New Holland Honey Eater, and Grey Shrike Thrush. I was very pleased to identify one I had not seen before-Yellow Tufted Honey Eater. A striking bird with very yellow markings and a distinct black eye mask. Yellow Rumped Thorn Bill were always a welcome sight too.

Vera Falls

After lunch I chose to return the way I came- all up hill. After a few hours walking I had returned to the car- the only evidence of the walk- a HUGE blood blister on my big toe. I did not notice this until the following day!

Walking in the Blue Mountains is fun and beautiful but cannot stress just how important it is to be prepared- carry plenty of water, know your limitations, and plan. Frankly there were just too many people asking my advise and looking stressed. If the day was hotter, some may have been in serious trouble.


Birds seen:- Australian Magpie, Pee Wee, grey Butcher Bird, Currawong, Bell Minor, Masked Lapwing, Lewins Honey Eater, New Holland Honey Eater, Regent Honey Eater, Yellow Tufted Honey Eater, Rosella, Yellow Rumped Thornbill, Grey Shrike Thrush, Satin Bower Bird.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Oil Cans, Roast Duck, Bird watching..

The humble oil can

Do you know how hard it is to find a humble oil can? You dont? Well I can tell you they don't make 'em anymore! Not in general spare parts anyway. Such is the change in the way we see things- going from those items we repair and service, to items that we throw away.
The jeep has many grease nipples, steering box, clutch brake pedals, transfer box, there is even a small hole in the distributor where you have to put 2 drops of oil every 1000miles.

Front diff, and steering grease nipples

So this weekend- thats exactly what I did- lay under the jeep, in the rain, and greased it up and added oil the the dissy. Doesn't the oil can look grand? Found at a market...

Oiling the distributor- to be done every 1000miles..

After finishing this, and cleaning the pool, I decided to go for a walk along a local fire trail. I spotted Yellow Robin, Eastern Spinebill, and New Holland Honey Eater. These are all very striking birds, with distinct markings and bright splashes of yellow (on the Robin and Nhhe)

New Holland Honey Eater

Whilst observing these ( and there were many) amongst the low growth I spotted an Eastern Whipbird, not just a glimpse,(as is often the case), but a real good look. He seemed preoccupied in catching his food than me.

Eastern Whip Bird

When I got home I cooked duck- which I basted in a marinade of olive oil, soy sauce, honey, garlic, white wine and lemongrass. This I cooked slowly on the open spit of the bbq until golden brown and crisp....

And thats all I did on my only day off......

Saturday, May 2, 2009

WW2 Jeep Update.

American Soldier in a Jeep

Well, its running, but there is still a lot to do and I broke down whilst climbing the mountain. Some of the oil leaks have gone, others have sprung up. I am going to convert the electric fuel pump back to the original mechanical one. I think fuel starvation was the cause of the trouble. I also flattened the battery, and have bought a trickle charger to keep it in tip top shape.

Australian Soldiers on patrol in Jeeps

The Jeep makes the garage smell like old leather and canvas which I enjoy. It has a new shovel as the one on it was not the correct shape.

Landcruiser- the gearbox is repaired but the mechanic forgot to tighten the drain plug so I ended up with oil all over the driveway, and had to finish the job for him.
US soldiers with French guides 1944 France
Oh! I discovered a really useful blog about Jeeps.. What Bob does not know does not seem to be worth knowing. I placed a link to it. Check it out!

Frankly its very pleasant to put a CD on, and get the spanners out for a tinker.