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Giant Bug Found!

IMG_0805A while ago I found the remains of a discarded skin presumably from a very large bug. What giant creature was roaming my back yard I wondered?  Well, I think I may have found the culprit.

Anyone know what it might be? Had unusual markings on it’s belly.


IMG_0621Spalding is the “centre piece” of our Heysen Trail walk this weekend. Very small town, but a great Aussie pub, with fantastic people. We did this walk over two and a bit days, with a 7k stroll in the late afternoon on the first day.

There is a good reason why they put wind farms here.

A month or so, since we last trod this great trail, enduring the chill, before nearing  our Grail.  Warm weather we get, with sun beaming down. Unlike the last time, with the bitter cold so unkind.  There is a reason though, why the windmills are here, for tIMG_0593-001here is more than a zepher in this atmosphere.  The hum we could hear from the green gods standing tall, is that a headache I feel? Infrasounding and all?  The land abounds though, green fare in all shades, surrounding Canola fields, bright as, the sun’s rays.  Brings colour and contrast to the opaqueness of view, and will bring good yields to those farmers, bringing nutrition to you.   Alpaca’s on guard, with a hundred or so ewes, rush over with glee, and intent to  enthuse, themselves with a chat and attention from us, who do not bleat or baa, but know how to discuss.IMG_0702

I’m home on the Range. The “Browne Hill Range” that is.

Easy walking today, on the ridge and few hills, enduring the open, with the wind and it’s chills.  Then down off Browne’s Range, with a few roads we traversed, and out of the wind in the sun we immersed.  Our pace on the flat did quicken this day, as we strode aside the Channel, at a mighty 6k.  More green and gold in the fields all IMG_0716around, just like our sports  flag, right here on the ground.  Bundaleer is our friend, keeping near all this way, waiting for rain, for some 30 odd k, to the dam in the north, quite a feat in it’s day, heritage listed it seems, to retain it this way.  Round hills and through fields, and even over bourns, this aquaduct looks flat, but is sloped, it is sworn.

Stepping on Lizards

Our mate in the grass on the track by the creek, copped a size 10 on his head, letting IMG_0729out a faint squeak. He survived the size 10 and went back to his task, sunning himself, camouflaged in the grass. To Spalding we get, half way on the trail, and where do we stop? The Barbed Wire we hail, for a beer and a chat and to rest for a spell, looked after by Geoff, with a tall tale to tell. The beer and the wine refreshed our spent state, and the food from the boss, was honestly first rate.  The steak and the lamb, was cooked with the know, very tasty and tender to  make a man glow, and what would you expect serving beer from the bar, but a lass from the Rhineland, a Germanic superstar.

IMG_0759Bundaleer pitch

Our trek to the north took us back to the channel, on a clear sunny day, no need for the flannel, shirt or a coat, by this heritage ditch, such an easy going walk, on a Bundaleer pitch.  Winding our way through the anaesthetised land, on a rhythmic march, so hypnotic and harmonic. Catatonic we were, before being attacked.  The Cracticus, all black with patches of white, with intent on our eyes to remove our clear sight.  The stick not enough to ward off our new foe, so resorting to IMG_0782measures, small rocks did we throw, retreat it so did after diving again, as we strode on our way resuming our zen.

Gazing around this landscape, smooth and so bare, makes me wonder if the trees, were ever once there.  And what of the life  in those times of the tree, will we ever again, be privy to thee?  So the dam we did reach, and disrespectfully passed, for our legs care not, for the historical past. Bundaleer it is called and with water it so fills, for where else would a dam be, but , among those damn hills!

IMG_0786Green and Gold. Yep this is Australia

The walk now all done with spare time up our sleeve, to  pick up some wares before we pack up and leave, this wonderful land, of fields green and gold, not far from another where a valley unfolds.   Heading south now to where, the fruit from the vine, gives us the best of, Clare Valley fine wine. And today’s recommendation for those that so care, is GSM from Kilkanoon. It’s very good fare.

In Short:

Day One

The Walk : Booborowie Rd to Hacklins Corner Rd

Distance : 7.5 kms

Duration : 1 hr 16 mins

Pace : 5.8 kmh

Terrain : A climb upto the ridge on the dirt road and then a bit of up and down on  grassy/rocky/stony fields.

Best part : The views and the sunset at the end. Fantastic timing by us!

Day Two

The Walk : Hacklins Corner Rd to Spalding

Distance : 25.3 kms

Duration : 4 hrs 33 mins

Pace : 5.5 kmh

Terrain : Continued up and down on the  grassy/rocky/stony fields, but once off the ridge, dirt roads and decent track beside the channel.

Best part : Can I say the first beer at the Spalding Pub at the end? No. Definitely the Alpacas. So very cute.

Day Three

The Walk : Spalding to (just passed) Bundaleer Dam.

Distance : 14.5 kms

Duration : 2 hr 3 mins

Pace : 6 kmh

Terrain : Dirt roads, but mainly the Bundaleer linear park track. Wide and flat. Well, actually down hill, at a rate of 40mm per kilometre (roughly)

Best part : Hmmm. Again pretty country side, but not very dramatic. Maybe our pace record? Over 6km per hour! Almost running!

The rest in pictures;



Guess who left their phone on the step and had to drive back to get it?


64 types of barbed wire. Who would a thought?

64 types of barbed wire. Who would a thought?





The nasty Magpie dive bombing us for about half an hour.

The nasty Magpie dive bombing us for about half an hour.


Massage with claws

Our cat loves a massage, really!



snnow flagstaff HillMy good friend Alison took this picture of snow at Flagstaff Hill in Adelaide where she was told some were making snowmen.   Elevation is about 200 mtrs above sea level.

I don’t recall it ever snowing in Adelaide at that elevation, EVER!

I know it doesn’t look like much, but even the rarest Adelaide snowfall is always well above 500 mtrs.

Al Gore is not here somewhere, is he?



Mt Bryan with a massive cloud front looming

The forecast this weekend was pretty much the same as our last walk. Clearing showers etc. So we prepped for the same type of weather. Two layers of clothing plus our wet weather gear.  So far so good when we arrived. It was cold but the sun was shining. The wind however seemed a little stronger than the forecast of 12 km per hour.  Felt a tad more like 20+. We set off from Dust Hole Creek road heading West along Dare’s Hill Summit road.  We were nice and early this day, after our last walk mishap, we wanted plenty of day light this time. Oh and I have a new friend. A Gamin hand held GPS. I very nearly bought an EPIRB as well, but thought that was being a bit over dramatic.

IMG_0198Although the sun was shining, the wind felt like it was coming straight off the Antarctic, and the cloud front looming large over the mountain did look ominous of things to come.  No sooner had we set a good pace that we stopped for a look at the old Mt Byran school house, which is now a hut for weary travellers. Pretty well equipped, I must add. Cosy rooms with open fire places and a wood stove in the kitchen, and from the look of some of the empty bottles, some had enjoyed themselves there recently.

IMG_0207Not far from here is the house where Sir Hubert Wilkins was born and spent his early years, as well as going to the school we were just in.  Anyone know who he is?  Worth a read I suggest. The most famous unknown South Australian.


Atop of the Mountain

Another few kms on good roads saw us at the base of Mount Bryan. The wind had not yet abated as we had hoped upon reaching the leeward side. In fact it seemed to be worse. The cold air rushing down the steep slope to meet us head on. The track was narrow but good, and although we appeared to miss a trail marker, we ended up in the right place half way up at a fence.  The map said we were in the right place, but there was no steps over the fence.  Anyway, trudging on up the steeper section of Bryan didn’t seem too challenging, except for the ever present wind.   We found a bit of respite just before the peak, where we had a short break.

The summit is quite broad and had a nice little stone chair to survey “the realm before you”! But no time to waste, especially in “gale” force winds.  The trail follows the fence off the summit, and once again it is not well marked, so keep your wits about you and your map handy.

IMG_0236Pretty easy going from here heading down Bryan.  Just the bitter wind, and rain annoying us to no end, just like that last dinner guest who refuses to leave.  My trusty Gamin kept us on course though, in the thick fog with visibility down to 10 metres or so.  The landscape soon opened up to gentle slopes and broad valleys just as the weather improved. Probably because we were off the mountain and out of the clouds.  The last few kms of day one were on dirt roads heading into Hallett, and very pleasant walking.

IMG_0257Day two started out very wet, very cold, and generally miserable. The rain looked like it had set in for the day, so we opted for a slightly shorter walk, stopping just short of the Brown Hill ranges.


Cold, wet and miserable

The Hallett Railway Station, which has been converted to a cottage was well maintained. In fact all of the huts we have encountered have been more than adequate for a stay.  We have however, opted for more comfortable lodgings with comfortable beds and hot showers so far. Burra has become our home away from home over the last half dozen walks. Gonna miss the Black Sheep and the Burra pub, but we must press on to new pastures.

Not a lot to see in the rain and the fog today and the landscape is quite benign, so pictures are few.  It did clear up towards the end of this walk. Just in time for us to finish up and head back through the Barossa to pick up some supplies at Kalleske Wines in Greenock. Not enough time though, to drop into  MSV (Murray Street Vineyards) to say hello. Last time we spent quite a few hours there. Some really nice Shiraz, I have to say.

Anyway see what pictures I did take below. Ciao for now.

In Short :

First Day

The Walk :Cnr of Dust Hole Creek rd and Dare’s Hill Summit rd to the Old Hallett Railway station.

Distance : 20 kms

Duration : 4 hours

Pace : 5 km per hour

Terrain : Gentle slopes on roads and tracks. Oh yes and a fricken big mountain.

Best Bit : (and the worst) Mount Bryan of course!

Second Day

The Walk : Old Hallett Railway station to Parker road near Booborowie.

Distance : 18.4 kms

Duration : 3 hours 18 minutes

Pace : 5.6 km per hour

Terrain : Mostly roads and a couple of fields. Pretty flat with easy slopes.

Best Bit : Great view of the windmills at the end of the walk

The rest in Pictures


Looks fine, but bitterly cold.


Looking out amongst the clouds




Hallett Railway Station


How unlucky can a lizard get. No one travels on this road,








In a world full of uncertainty, one good decision can be the difference between success and failure.IMG_4887

It is approaching midday, as we once again step into the world of the Heysen Trail. The chilled mist caresses our faces with icy fingers.  The sun briefly warms our souls as it streams through a longed for patch of blue.  The morning coolness, still hanging in the air, treats us without kindness or reserve, but a freshness that leaves you in no doubt that you are indeed, alive. The landscape, brimming green from the recent rains, and the grey skies threatening more this day. Today however, the weather will smile upon us this afternoon, with breaking clouds revealing the vast Aussie blue and the life giving sun. Mount Bryan, still a way off in the distance, looms large, intimidating with it’s sheer presence, silently, but pervasively, dominating our view. Shrouded with stormy clouds every bit the “evil” movie type mountain.

IMG_4885Our walk today though, takes us from Dust Hole Creek Road, to Dust Hole Creek road, and no, we are not walking in circles, but almost. An arc with radius of about 4 kms taking us through the proposed Caroona Creek Conservation Park. 20 odd kms will bring us in direct view of Mount Bryan, with the arduous climb up the mountain to be attempted the following day.

The morning is cold. just the way we like it. Walking at pace gets us warm very quickly, so sub 16°C is just fine by us.  Our walk did not start out well though. We IMG_4900had calculated this stretch at 21kms, but our kindly local driver did not feel confident travelling on the somewhat challenging Dusthole Creek road. So he dropped us on the trail, some 4.5 kms away from our start point.  The distance now became 26+kms. More about this later. Oh yes, all of the photo’s are thanks to Grant. Seems I left my camera at home with an array of other things like the map etc.

We re-traced our steps over the 4.5 kms from the last walk.  Beautiful green rolling hills with great vistas.  We made good time, knowing full well we would have to be quite assertive with our walk today, given the extra distance. Little did we realize how important that would end up being.

IMG_4918We wound our way through scrub and over gentle hill tracks. Quite a few Euros and stumbled across a herd of wild goats. Pity it is frowned upon to carry a gun these days. Fresh goat for dinner would have gone down a treat. Came across a fantastic little gorge in the middle of nowhere. Large smoothed rocks sitting between clear cool pools begging us to strip down and go for a dip.   This part of the trail treks through the proposed Caroona Conservation Park. Smooth creeks beds carve through the hard dry rocky landscape.

picture178The landscape soon changed to a flat plain with dirt roads and tracks. We made good time and soon turned west toward the sun on the final leg of the trek. The sun had just disappeared from view, as we entered the Tourille Gorge. The gorge wound it’s way through steep cliffs and hills in what seemed like an endless journey, in the creek, out of the creek, and into the creek again, with the trail markers getting a harder and harder to find amongst the scrub. The trail is very rough and overgrown in this section, and the area is very inaccessible.

IMG_4915-001The sun had well and truly disappeared behind the hills, it was getting difficult to see. We kept thinking we will emerge any minute now from the gorge and onto the road, but it just never came. It was getting quite dark now, and a near mishap tripping on a protruding branch was a decent indicator how quickly situations can turn.

It must have been about 6pm (on the shortest day of the year), with visibility diminishing by the second, when we realized we had totally lost sight of the trail markers. We did a quick recon either side of the creek to find a marker, but to no avail. We pulled out the map, and with the aide of Grant’s torch, we established the fact that we had no fucking idea where we were!  Now, the thought came to mind that I may have to spend the night in the open, and  probably have to cuddle up to Grant to keep warm!  All of a sudden I became highly motivated to find our way out!

IMG_4921So it was time to take action and change tack.  The things we did know for sure was, that we were still heading west, which was correct,  and the hill on our left was very heavy with scrub.  What remained was either going back, which in the darkness would still be problematic, or going up the right side of the gorge. As well as being the easiest route, it would, we hoped, give us a few more minutes of fading light to gauge our line of sight.  Scrambling up the hill in near darkness was interesting, but we focused and kept on task, keeping the faint glow from the sunset in our sights.

IMG_4910Near the top of the hill we ran into a fence] (literally) and peering intently into the darkness, we made out the light colour of a dirt road.  Yes! We had found civilization! Or that’s what it felt like anyway.  No sooner had we started down the road when we came across a trail marker, too our great surprise and relief.  We knew the road was less than a “K” from the car on the map, so off we strode now in complete darkness, with only star light to show the way.

After about 20 minutes I was thinking this was not right. Had we missed the turn off in the darkness?  Had we emerged at the road way passed our car? I could not be sure of anything at this point.  We trudged on though, with Grant succumbing to darkness and turning on his torch which we were saving till the very last minute of visibility.  We finally came to a T junction and turning left we realized this was the actual road on the map. We had been walking on what looked like only a track on the map and in less than ten minutes we finally arrived at Grant’s car. It was now 6:45. We were tired, cold and getting a little hungry, but very relieved to not be spending the night in the open. The thought of having to cuddle up to Grant in the cold was too much to even contemplate.

IMG_4931Travelling now in the comfort of heated seats, we were only half an hour away from the Burra and our booked restaurant, although we would be a little late, we felt ok.  Our day of drama’s however, were not quite over just yet. Grant heard an intermittent noise in the back, but he just ignored it and drove on.  My skeptical, questioning mind quickly assessed that this was a problem. You see, Grant is very organized and thorough, especially securing luggage etc. I knew it was something not right with the car, so we pulled over.  Sure enough we had a flat tyre.  It was now well after 7pm, and on a dark and lonely road. We changed the tyre with Grant swearing and cursing all the while. Something about “what else could go wrong”.


The Black Sheep

The evening got better when we finally arrived at the La Pecora Nera (Black Sheep) in Burra, and although we arrived forty five minutes late, Claire was very accommodating allowing us to still order dinner. Needless to say, we decided to cancel the next days walk, instead we spent the evening with a few more drinks in at the Burra pub watching the footy. We capped off the night in front of an open fire in our Paxton Square cottage, before settling in to a soft warm bed.

So the answer to the original question is…. too many to mention, however on this day. Five, but thank goodness for that one right decision.

IMG_4922In Short :

Walk : Southern Dusthole Creek road crossing to the northern Dusthole Creek road crossing, although we actually walked from just before Black Jack’s shelter.

Distance : 25.5 kms (but we walked 31)

Duration : 6.75 hours

Pace : 5.4 km/hr

Terrain : Rolling hills through scrub and scattered rocks. The paths and tracks are mostly good, but some sections are not well marked. The Gorge is easily traversable, but tiring having to watch your footing on the loose stones. The trail markers are very easily missed especially the one that takes you out of the gorge.

Best Part : The “oasis” we found in the middle of nowhere, and of course the pasta and the bottle of red at the Black Sheep.



IMG_0048Burra. Copper country. Once saviour of the state. Digging ore from the ground, getting a very good rate. Burra creek flowing through, but comical though, because “Burra” means creek as it happens it’s so.  So Creek creek in our modern tongue. Lack of creativity perhaps, or a satirical joke being sprung.

Believe it or not, when copper was mined, Burra had more people than Brisbane and Perth both combined. Who woulda thought?  History abounds, in this sleepy little town. Cornish and Scottish heritage, and the mines in the ground.

Our 14k hike from the Paxton of Square,  by the creek in town in the fresh country air.  The first of two days, and the first for the season.  A big test for our legs. Fit and lean, or tired and beaten.

IMG_0040The town with it’s flavour, distracts just a little.  Perusing  the old, with pack walls and odd kibble.  Missed the turn off we did and realising our state, returned to the path with quickening gait.  After getting somewhat lost a few times in last year, we are a little more disciplined and less cavalier.


Product placement? Where’s my cheque?

Once out of the town, the road wandered through, the fields of short grass, and up the steep hill. The first day a warm up, without such great challenge. Taking it easy this day, so as not to inflict damage. The quest that we face on the following day. A bit longer stroll , a “mere” 24 k.

Now, in the past , two cars did we take. One for the end and one for the start. But after my mishap with my less than “off roady”. This time we used, Ken.  The one and the only.  He went with us to the end, where we left Grant’s car, then took us off to the start point, at Paxton Square. Travelling up in one car, was the best from my view, except Grant had to bear the ramblings I spew.


“Ken of Burra”

Ken “of Burra”, knows the area quite well, and got us right up to date.  There was nothing he wouldn’t tell. Local goss, and the farms, and the wildlife too.  He promised a wombat, but all we got was kangaroo.  Our first end point was Tiliqua Reserve.  Where a a young Uni student was there to observe.  Conducting research on the Pigmy (with a) Blue Tongue.   This chicky was living in the middle of grass, and dung.  Good luck to her and her study, I do say.  Didn’t realise we had Pigmy Blue Tongues, here in this way.

IMG_0093The Morse cottage in Burra we stayed for the night, popping into the Commercial, later, for a bite. The Black Sheep unfortunately, was fully booked, but maybe next time, we’ll get in early, and a fine meal will be cooked.  It comes recommended from many I know. Looking forward to the pasta and maybe a nice red, from bordeaux.   The open fire at Morse of which Grant, (the pyromaniac) loved to poke, throwing on more wood, as the fire he stoked.

IMG_0072Second day we were up nice and early, and after a well cooked breakfast, we were off hurly burly.  Met Ken at White Hill Rd, near the end of the day’s walk. In the middle of nowhere beneath circling hawks. Dust Hole Creek Road is in a state of decay, with pot holes like canyons and the verge fading away.  It is traversable by most, perhaps in the dry, but I would not recommend it without a 4 wheel drive. Some of the creek crossings we edged close to the brink.  Grant’s all wheel drive is a bare minimum I think.

IMG_0146Ken promised a Wombat we would see on this walk. Is he right on the money? Or is it all just his talk.  A Wombat photo will add nicely to my lot, of Aussie close quarters, animal shots.  We saw rabbits and Roo’s, and a few Kites hunting too.  But try as we did over hill and in dale, my elusive quest for Wombat did fail. So Ken if you read this, we’ll see you again, and I’ll be wanting my Wombat from you on the trail.

IMG_0105My inlaw, Michael, who is well ahead on this trail, warned me of the heart breaking hills, on which we could  fail. Up and down we went, hill after hill.  Although knowing it prior, did not help us at all!

IMG_0133-001Grazing country this is, with very few trees. Grant thought of  bald heads, closely shaved if you please.  But my mind wanders off, to a sight better, I suggest, to nothing less, than a woman’s full breast.  A much better sweet vision on a 24k walk, than old men’s heads, lacking of locks!  The sun was quite warm, with a coolness of air, making for perfect weather, for walking I swear.

IMG_0136The smooth bald terrain soon turned into scrub, and after resting at Black Jack’s, we set off, on the last leg. Passing red creeks and flora, and homesteads long gone. Mount Bryan looming large, while we currently push on.  Emerging round a bend, down the valley below,  was the beauty of Grant’s car, shining  in the sun’s glow.  Tired legs and sore feet, as we unclip our gear, flip open the eski, for a well deserved beer.   So our first walk for Forteen, has been done in two days, seeing off Burra’s bald hills, over 37 k’s.

In Short :

Day One :

Distance : 15.1 kms

Duration : 3 hours 1 min

Pace : 5.0 kph

Day Two :

Distance : 21.9 kms

Duration : 4 hours 10 mins

Pace : 5.3 kph

Terrain : Rolling hills through grazing land, and good dirt roads. Hills are not huge but are many with one section, hill after hill after hill.

Best Part :  Meeting the legend, Ken of Burra.  Heading into more interesting countryside with natural bush, creeks and Mount Bryan in distance. Also seeing some Kites circling for dinner. Not quite close enough to get a good photo, and yet to identify it, Black, Square tailed, or Whistling Kite. Any suggestions? (see photo below).

The rest in pictures.









Which Kite is this?

Which Kite is this?



Another Heysen victim?





I made my very own climate hockey stick.

I am an aspiring climate scientist, and as such I thought I might learn from the most famous climate scientist in the world.  Michael Mann. Professor Mann’s methodology seemed pretty straight forward. Take tree ring data as a proxy for temperatures over thousands of years and add the measured temperatures on to the end. Simple!

It just so happens some very nice people here in Australia did a tree ring temperature reconstruction that I could use.  Awesome!

Some Huon Pine trees from Mount Read in Tasmania were used for the tree ring data. Mount Read also has a weather recording station so the data should match up pretty well.

So here it is, but it looks a little different from Professor Mann’s graph. Did I do something wrong?



Tasmanian Temperature Reconstruction

/Sarc off


Please note:  All data is real (except for the years 1992 to 1996. No data available, so just joined the “dots”). Months used were November to April. “The warm months”.

Tasmanian Temperature Reconstruction, 1600BC to 1991 AD.  Cook E.R., D’Arrigo R.D., Buckley B.M., and Peterson M.J.

Temperature data Mount Read 1997 to 2011 – Bom


Kirbati is going to drown! Or maybe not.

Kiribati, just like many other small islands, is frequently used to illustrate the “devastation” that sea level rise is causing (or will cause) from climate change. The only problem is that the data doesn’t support the rhetoric.

I’ve  been tracking Kiribati sea level for a while now, but this time when updating my data, I thought I would check  all stations available from Bom and from PSMSL for Kiribati. I down loaded the mean sea level data from 5 separate stations with good overlap stretching back to 1949. Using the most consistent data, I have adjusted each data set for differing locations using 1804 station as my base, and using the average difference on the overlaps to recalculate a long record.

Here are the five original data sets from Kiribati

Kiribati Sea Level 5 stations 1949 to 2013


The trends of each tide gauge is interesting too. Some going up, some going down, and the longest two of the five, are as flat as the Hay Plain.

Kiribati Sea Level 5 stations 1949 to 2013 with trend

Once the other stations are normalised to the 1804 station, we get a better picture of what has happened over the entire record.  Although there are many variables in comparing different locations, this at least gives a decent indication of what is going on over a longer time frame.

Kiribati Sea Level 5 stations 1949 to 2013 normalised to 1804

So here it is. A composite reconstruction from the various tide gauges around the Kiribati Island group with the indicated trend.

Kiribati Sea Level 5 stations 1949 to 2013 final with trend

So we get a positive trend over this period, and yes, the ocean level has risen, but not by very much. Less than 1mm per year (0.8mm). This is a much reduced rate compared to what I calculated a year ago (1.52mm).  So the long term rate has reduced dramatically, and will continue to fall if the current 12 year negative trend continues. It will be interesting to watch as a possible El Nino develops this year.  They tend to produce very low sea levels around the west Pacific Islands.


kiribati sea level 2001 to 2014 10 mm neg trend v2

Of course no one really knows where it will head next, however one thing is for sure, there is absolutely no correlation to atmospheric carbon dioxide, and particularly the human contribution.


To all you pessimists and gloom and doomers.

Hans Rosling Dont Panic with title

Hans Rosling presents.



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