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IMG_5886Day two in the Flinders Ranges. Crisp cool morning. Clear blue sky. I noticed a couple of clouds to the west just as we drove into Mount Little Station. A reminder of the previous days weather.  A lovely spot for camping here at MLS, and Kate whom we had the pleasure to meet, greeted us with typical country hospitality. MLS is the closest accessible road to the Heysen Trail on this section, so here we are.  Mike picked us up at the end of the road near Mayo’s Gorge, returning to Leigh Creek Road for the start of our walk. Ps. Thanks Mike for both days drop off’s.

IMG_5892(Leaving the old wagon, we climbed the stile and headed off on the trail, only to take a short break at the original Wonoka homestead. Beautiful stone work with a myriad of colours, with the Yourambulla Ranges in the back ground providing a memorable connection to todays story.

The road meandered through salt and blue bush before we stumbled into the expansive Wonoka Creek. Littered with pebbles and sand, and Redgums scattered in and out of the creek. Wononka hill and the Wide Range giving us a wonderful backdrop for the day.

IMG_5894Once in the creek, we turned north, up-stream, or so we thought.  Funny how your senses can occasionally deceive. We were on the trail, but we thought we were heading up stream. Quite clearly the river bed was telling us something quite different. Dead trees and debris on the oncoming side of the river trees, and a sand bank on the trailing edge. Clearly we were heading downstream. It just did not feel like it.

IMG_5949We wandered in and out of the creek, where ever the path looked easiest. The Heysen trail follows the creek all the way to Mayo’s Gorge, so little chance of losing the trail. Except maybe for the spot that Wononka Creek takes sharp left, with a feeder creek going straight ahead. Could have ended up in the Wide Ranges.

export1Beautiful country with Gums along the river and plenty of green salt bush filling in the surrounds. Still a few skittish Emu’s and Kanga’s not being particularly sociable, heading for the hills at first sight. Did I put on deodorant this morning? Starting to wonder.

The amazing palette of colours in the river bed was stunning. Copper, Amethyst, Azure, Ochre, and Sandstone. Decorating the walls and splashed across the river bed in all manner of fashion. As if a Kindy class had gone crazy with their crayons, or a few thousand Oompa Lumpa’s had died and been sedemented.

IMG_5965Mayo Hut was well appointed, with bunks (with mattresses), a fire place, and even a “loo”. Oh what luxury!  Being at Mayo’s hut means that we are almost done. Another couple of “K’s” and we exit through Mayo’s Gorge where Grant’s car is waiting with a nice cold beer. The Gorge was lovely, although lots of jaggard rocks to walk over at the start. Once at the car, we propped up the chairs, cracked open a beer, and just took in the the majestic Elder Range in the late afternoon sun. Cheers Grant.

In Short

Leigh Creek Road to Mount Little Station.

Distance : 16.1 kms

Pace : 4.9 kms

Duration : 3 hours, 16 mins

Calories burned : 1934

Elevation : Gain = 247 mtrs. Loss 680 mtrs. (Yep going down hill along the creek)

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And, the rest…….

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Holy Crap! A huge snake rearing up! Oh. It’s ok. Just a piece of wood. Nearly soiled my pants again.

 

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Mayo Gorge

 

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The view from my beer. Elder Range.

IMG_5851We arrived early in the afternoon on a wet and windy day, with something you don’t see very often out here.  Rain, and we saw plenty of it on our way north. Hawker had received 18+mm in a couple of days, which is great for everyone in the bush. It was relatively dry when we arrived, but the wind was still gusting above 50kmh as we would realise when we got to the top of the ridge.

IMG_5841A short walk today of 9 kms, from Jarvis Hill to Leigh Creek Rd. Half of the walk was along the ridge of the Yourambulla Ranges.  Climbing the rocky ridge to the lookout, with a panoramic view opening up before us, we shifted our city brains out of gear and just allowed our minds to take in the pleasures of the Heysen trail.  A valley to the left gave rise to another ridge standing tall and keeping ours company on the journey north. To the right the flat plain stretched out with incursions of hills, peaks, and ridges seemingly placed delicately to give an interesting view.

IMG_5858The rocky ridge line jutting out at a 30+ degree angle was not the easiest to walk on, particularly when it is a little wet and the wind is trying to blow you off the mountain, repeatedly.

A classic rock overhang gave us some brief respite before battled those gales again. Our pace on the 4.5 km ridge was pretty pedestrian, and although the views were fantastic, we focussed mainly on keeping our footing. I only slipped 4 or 5 times. Thank goodness for sturdy boots.

IMG_5862We shared the trail with a few Wallabies and a couple of hairy goats, all of which were very shy, and disappeared down the slopes as soon as we came into view.

After coming off the ridge we meandered through the scratchy, thorny, stony scrub on a gentle slope before pacing it out along the fence line to finish at the old wagon adjacent the road with many names. Leigh Creek Road/Outback Highway/Barndioota Road/Parachilna Road(all dependant on which map you look at).

One of four walks done.  This trip will take in four days of walking with one day break (to rest the sore feet).  Today was a easy “break-in” walk of 9 kms, just to get us back in the swing of things. Tomorrow we will up the anti with 15kms, before we tackle the 30+ kms  on walk three. Last day will see us do another 15 kms walking into Wilpena Pound. 75 kms in all for the week. We are staying in a comfortable cabin at Hawker Caravan Park for two nights and the rest of the week will be at Rawnsley Park.

In Short:

Jarvis Hill to Leigh Creek Road

Distance : 9.8 kms

Duration : 2 hours 18 minutes

Pace : 4.2 kph

Terrain: Rocky and prickly

Elevation : Gain = 189 mtrs. Loss = 215 mtrs

Calories burned : 1351

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And the rest in pictures.

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Kiribati – Sinking Yet?

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the seas around Kiribati are rising at 3.1mm per year and they expect this will continue until the end of the century. Making the total rise from 2003, to be over half a metre. Really?  The info they used is from the IPCC 2007 report which used data from 1993 to 2003 to get this projection (and it is a global projection btw). Cherry picking anyone?  Tide gauge data for Kiribati is available all the way back to 1949, and clearly contradicts the information on display from the UoCS.

Kiribati sea level 2016The combined tide gauges sea level rate around Kiribati (raw data is publically available) is 1mm per year (my calculation 1949 to 2016).

Here is what the UoCS are suggesting is going to happen, compared to the reality of the data.

Kiribati SL Actual vs Projected 2016

And they call themselves scientists.

For reference, here is the updated graph with all the individual tide gauges for Kiribati. Normalised to the Bom 1804 station.

Kiribati Spliced Sea Level 1949 to 2016

 

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While it may seem obvious that a good hike through a forest or up a mountain can cleanse your mind, body, and soul, science is now discovering that hiking can actually change your brain… for the better!

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Hiking In Nature Can Stop Negative, Obsessive Thoughts

Read more…..

 

IMG_4521This will be our sixth year of walking the Heysen trail.  It does’nt seem to be that long ago, although, in another way it seems like a life time ago. That cool day in 2011, heading off from Cape Jervis (so long ago it was in B+W).

Well seasoned we now are on the vagaries of the trail. The challenges and the pitfalls that beget a walker from time to time.  From blisters, to minor injuries, to getting lost and walking in the dark. Not bringing enough water, mis-calculating the distance (both too short and too long), and missing trail markers (again and again). Getting my car bogged, and  oh, there was also the time I left my car keys in Grant’s car (at the start of the walk with my car at the end). No mobile coverage to ring a taxi until we climbed the nearest hill.  A number “two” accident with insufficient loo paper, and having to go “commando” for the rest of the walk was less that ideal (albeit very refreshing).

IMG_0702Amidst all of these very human frailties though, lies the beauty of the Australian landscape.  The Jurassic cliff views of the un-ending southern ocean while keeping company with Roos and Echidna’s. The ever inquisitive cows and the communal sheep, often looked over by protector alpacas.  The rolling hills of wheat and canola. The heavily wooded  forests, every bit of the Hollywood scary movie, complete with fog and creepy stillness. The temperate micro climates of the gullies and valleys.  With birds and lizards and all other manner of creatures filling in the spaces among the grass trees and the native flowers. The old Gums, engraving themselves relentlessly into the vista, defying time and dominating an all too often harsh environment.  The unspoken history on show in the bleached homes of the fading past. Often the only clue as to the harshness of our colonial past.

IMG_4655Life and death is on display without judgement or care. There are no humanistic emotions at play in the bush.  It brings life into sharp focus, without the subtleties of relational or competitive politics which forever cloud one’s mind living in the city.  The simplicity of survival clears out the irrelevant and redundant, giving clarity of mind and spirit.  Oh yea!

Then there is the delightful cafe’s, bakeries and restaurants serving the most delicious Aussie country cooking. Beef steak pies, Calamari, or Roo fillets with Quongdong sauce. Do I need to go on?  To accompany such fine food, there is always a fine beverage to elevate the meal to truly memoral. Mclaren Vale and the Fleurieu Peninsula. The Barossa Valley and the Clare Valley, will delight the fussiest of wine taste buds.  All this and more, on, or very near the trail.

IMG_4077The mostly unseen beauty of SA is revealed when you walk the Heysen Trail. Much of which is hidden from the more well travelled roads. Plenty of characters on the way too. In the pubs cafe’s and the camping spots, as well as other walkers on the trail. Plenty of country hospitality and friendliness, and they always love a chat. Seems everyone out there has a story, and I love to hearing their history.

The mostly unseen beauty of SA is revealed when you walk the Heysen Trail. Much of which is hidden from the more well travelled roads. So if you have moderate fitness, or are willing to “step up” your training, the Heysen trail is such a joy to experience. Come and see the beauty of South Australia.

2011 – 107.5 kms

2012 – 185.2 kms

2013 – 208.8 kms

2014 – 148.2 kms

2015 – 264 kms

2016 – About to be done.

IMG_54042016 will see us completing the final leg of this amazing journey.  Dutchman’s Stern to Parachilna Gorge. Although the logistics are getting a little more challenging, we are looking forward to seeing the ancient geology on show in the Northern Flinders Ranges. I am also treating myself to a new camera lens to help capture the raw beauty we are about to experience. Our first walk will be Hawker(Jarvis Hill) through to Wilpena Pound over 5 days from May 8th.

I have been really happy to share our experiences and hope it has been an enjoyable read so far. Here I go for another year of looking at the back of Grant’s head.

See you on the trail maybe?

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Long Time Dead

With the passing of a friend, a timely reminder to write your own story. Colin’s story was of a craftsman, loving husband and father. RIP Colin.

Long time dead

We often take the common freedoms we have for granted, and it is so lovely that we can. However things do not always stay the same, and there are some in the world that are hell bent on taking our precious freedoms away to serve their own deluded and self centred needs. The following video, although USA centric, still applies to all those living in a democracy.  Beware of those wanting to trade your freedom for safety and security, and those who use the ism’s to divide and disrupt. Our current “hate” speech laws are a prime example.

Evil can only prosper when good men do nothing.

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IMG_5323As it goes once again this year, we had to suspend our walking program in September/October. It seems unimportant things like work, family, birthdays, illness, charity work etc, seemed to get in the way of our scheduled Heysen walks around this time.

We did however manage to squeeze in one more trip (motivation high) for the season in mid October, in-spite of the warming weather. To allow for our now lack of fitness and for the increasing temperatures, we have only two short walks to fill in the gaps before tackling the more (logistically) challenging treks north of Dutchman’s Stern.

IMG_5331Walk one is the catch up walk leading into Melrose. Just under 15 kms over gentle slopes and along meandering trails and roads. Walk two is the Quorn to Dutchman’s Stern trail. A 10 km stroll through fields and park trails, finishing up in the shadow of the Stern itself.

Walk One : Wild Dog Creek to Melrose

The land has changed in the last 7 weeks. We had left a green paradise at the end of August, brimming with promise of a bountiful harvest. Now only scattered patches of moisture remain  in the washed out landscape.  IMG_5371This also reminded me of what hazards the trail presents us with, once the land is parched and cracked, and a few billion grass seeds of all descriptions wait for an unsuspecting sock to brush past.  Last year my “porcupine” socks were finally “de-seeded” only after four separate sessions over the following week. Gators were deployed from the outset to battle the hoards this time. Just as well too, as my boots as hardy as they are, still managed to pick up a few dozen hitch-hikers in the grass, but my socks, remained as socks, and not hedgehogs this time.

IMG_5326The memories of the flies also live large in my mind, and although this day would not be quite as warm as our last walk in 2014, it could still turn into a miniature winged nightmare. It is no fun sucking in a fly up your nose and having it end up in your mouth. The insect netting we purchased earlier in the year would finally put an end to that unsavoury event. And that it did.

IMG_5345The walk itself was fairly easy and benign.  Just under 15 kms and ending at the Mount Remarkable pub in Melrose (how did that happen?)  No wild life today, and the only life we saw were a few sheep hugging the sparse shade, a very fine white horse who came to say hello, and two riders on the Mawson trail, whom we met again at the pub.

IMG_5349Coming into Melrose, a road sign was giving up more meaning than it probably intended, I’m sure. I think it is the perfect advice when coming to a place like Melrose.

After two of the best tasting beers ever, (they always are after a walk), we had the pleasure of being picked up by our mid north taxi service, Judy and Nigel. Great service and it only cost us a couple of bottles of wine (albeit very nice Killakanoon wine), which we donated to their  “anti sobriety” social club.

IMG_5382Day Two : Altman Road Quorn to Dutchman’s Stern

Leaving early today to beat the heat, we set off crossing the main road about a half hour after sunrise. The air was cool, but the sun was already making it’s presence felt.  A few steeper hills today as we walk beneath the imposing ridge to our left and Willochra plain stretching out to our right, with Devil’s Peake at our back dominating the southern view, standing alone and proud in the landscape. We wandered through fields along the fence line until crossing into the park, continuing along tracks, meandering through the bush from bow to Stern. The Dutchman’s Stern of course.

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Ruth does have eyes. she just decided to close them exactly at the wrong moment. Good one Ruth!

We don’t get to meet many people on the trail, but today just as we crossed the Dutchman’s Stern summit trail, I heard voices (again?) and thought my insanity may be returning, but to my surprise, it was just a friendly trail walker keen for a chat. It would seem she also does not see many others on the trail. A lovely Australian lady with the hint of a German accent. Very chatty about her exploits and very inquisitive about our Heysen trail journey.  Ruth, as we found out, had travelled extensively around Australia and walked many a trail on her own. Even driving the Simpson Desert. Nice job Ruth. Her task today however, was the Dutchman’s Stern loop walk. IMG_5404Not a gentle stroll on such a warm day, and 800 odd metres up as well.  Thanks for stopping for a chat Ruth. We love to hear tales of exploration and adventure. (Ps Ruth. if you want to add your own thoughts, please comment below).

We had some extra time today to take in an extra sight, so our mid north taxi service ferried us up the road a bit to Warren Gorge. The narrow entrance opens up to a wider space, Perfect for camping. The locals were a bit camera shy though, but I did manage a glimpse of two of the Yellow Footed Rock Wallabies. Amazing how in contrast, the big muscly Grey Kanga’s not far away were just lazing around with the family.  Looking tough enough not to care about any human wandering by.

Warren Gorge is definitely worth a visit for the Wallabies. Very cute. Best times are early and late for the Wallabies, and I am guessing the colours through the Gorge would be pretty dramatic as well.

With that diversion done it was off to lunch at Emily’s in Quorn as recommended by our tour guides. Who were we to argue?  Always trust the locals, I say. Sundays at Emily’s is “spit roast” day apparently.  Awesome!  Roast lamb and veggies with mint sauce and damper. Accompanied by a regulation two beers of course. Very tasty. Thanks Sally for the service, and Rob for the cooking and the carving. Nice job.

After paying our dues to our hosts (hope you enjoy the wine and the bubbles Judy and Nige), we headed south back into the “Matrix”, to toil away earning enough credits to hopefully return to the Heysen in the coming year.

In Short:

Day One : Wild Dog Creek to Melrose

Distance : 14.7 kms

Duration : 2 hours 40 mins

Pace : 5.5 kph

Best Bit : The two beers at the Mount Remarkable pub.

Day Two : Altman Rd Quorn to Dutchman’s Stern

Distance : 10 kms

Duration : 2 hrs 5 mins

Pace : 4.9 kph

Best Bit : The Stern

Another year on the trail completed.  264 kms over 6 trips this year, which is most consistent effort yet. Not bad considering our work and family commitments. It definitely helped doing a bit more “pre season” training and keeping up our fitness in between walks.

Grant, I have seen enough of the back of your head this year on the trail, so until next year, see you later my friend.

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A few extra’s

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I keep finding the remains of Heysen walkers that didn’t quite make it! It’s a tough trail!

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Grant finally found his perfect country “getaway”. I’m sure the missus will be impressed.

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Warren Gorge

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Our taxi service providers (hehe) Thanks J&N.

IMG_1011.CR2Looking back on my previous blogs, I seemed to have lost a day’s trek. My Inman valley to Myponga trail is nowhere to be seen. Maybe it never existed!  Although I am sure we actually walked it. Anyway off to my photo folders to find the “evidence”.

Sure enough, there they were, exactly where they were supposed to be. What the hell was I doing after that walk that distracted me so easily, that I would completely forget to write it up? Must have been good whatever it was. The previous walk to Inman Valley was only published on Nov 19( month+ after the walk), so clearly I must have been busy with other “stuff”.

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The road leading out of Inman Valley

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The missed trail marker.

It was the last  trek for 2011, and it was (according to my photo info) walked on the 30th of October.  Anyway, from what I remember, it was a warm day with a bit of sunshine. We had a few hills to climb, walking on roads, through fields and a couple of trails. I do remember we were in deep conversation on one road and missed the trail marker totally. No blaming a hidden or not well placed marker on this occasion. In plain site it was, as I realised when we got back to it.  So we walked an extra couple of K’s this day. Grant was not happy cursing and spluttering. It would not be our worst mistake though, as we would find out later.

Grant, once again tried to step on stumpy’s. He is certainly making a habit of it. Just like having lizard magnets on the soles of his boots.

While taking a break in the bush, a very surprised kanga stumbled across us, stopping dead in his tracks. Stopped just long enough to snap his photo too.

IMG_0998.CR2-KangarooSaw a grey/purplish cow as well. Did not know they came in that colour.

We walked on past the End to End Point at Myponga, and half  a K up the hill to the end of the dirt road near. this will give us a good start point for next year heading into Yulte conservation Park,

So there it is. The lost is now found and the trail record now a little more complete.

Funny how you cannot see what is not there

In Short :

Inman Valley to Myponga

Distance : 17.5 kms

Duration : 5 hours?

And the rest….

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A grey cow?

A grey cow?

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Grant’s friends

DSCF0338From Kookaburra’s to Koala’s, to Christmas beetles and spiders. Even the occasional Brown snake. We only have to walk out our back door to see nature at it’s best.  Quite an ecosystem in my back yard.

We have a “camera shy” Blue Tongue lizard. Dozens of skinks, “FluffyBum” the Koala, who visits regularly, and all manner of parrots, Galah’s, Yellow Tailed Black, and Sulphur Crested White, Cockatoo’s, as well as our resident New Holland Honey Eaters. Inspite of the fact IMG_1341-001that Pancakes, (our feline family member) is an excellent hunter, their numbers have quadrupled in the last five years. Then there is the myriad of insects and spiders, both small and large. It’s a “veritable jungle” out there! Welcome to my back yard.

Take a walk in my yard, the plants you all see, but on closer inspection, there’s a world just beneath.  Animals you’ll see and insects abound.  Entomophibic I’m not , IMG_1274with these crawly’s around.  Red Back’s and Orb’s, Centapede’s with their legs. How do they all fit, is the question that begs.  Sparrows and magpies, black Birds and the Crows. And a myriad of others I am still yet to know. Kookaburra’s that cackle in the morning and night, with the spidey’s building webs for a juicy fresh bite.  Three types of ants from what I can see, Jump’ers, Inch’ers and the millions that climb trees. Bees and the beetles, giant moths and flutterby’s, all flitting and buzzing with hundreds of eyes. IMG_9335 The Mozzies, the worst though, even worse than the flys. Mostly at night, but do attack in the light.

A Red Back or two underneath the the settee. It’s good that they’re timid, and afraid of you ‘n’ me.  The Gecko’s are cute with there friendly big eyes. But they’re not so friendly to the bugs and the flys.

Anthropods, the large and the small, crawling their way across the ground and up walls. Brown snakes abound, according my wife. But the only three times, surely, cannot be called rife.

So instead of an Attenborough viewed on TV, stroll in my garden, and the wildlife you’ll see. No Bell Amie’s or Nutkins are of need on this block.  Not even an Irwin to poke and to prod.  A cold beer you may get when you visit our patch, to accent your visit to our very Aussie Batch.

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