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.