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IMG_4021 The cool air bites, as the early morning sun pierces through the bright blue sky, with a promise of the warmth to come. The silence pervades the land and seems to dominate and inhabit every perceivable space without, and within. The moment you exit your bubble within known time and space, you embrace the world as it is, just at the moment, that it is. This is, the Aussie bush. Welcome to the Heysen Trail.

We arrived late in the afternoon at Georgetown, just as the friendly general store owners were IMG_4078packing away the signs and cafe chairs.  We had just enough time to warm up our legs with a 5km stroll from Noonans Rd through the town and onto the end of Slaughterhouse Road.  I did wonder whether there was a “slaughter house”, or perhaps there had been some unfortunate mass crime in the distant past. As Grant mentioned at the time, “well, still waters do run deep in S.A”. Hmmm Indeed.

I did laugh, however at the (obviously) poor photo I took of the street sign, which turned a morbid IMG_3953place into a place of cheer. If only I really did have that power!

Day two saw us head off into the rolling hills between Georgetown and Crystal Brook. Pretty easy going this walk and although not as interesting once we hit the roads, Rocky River and the ruins gave us a nice spot to take a break.

The trail runs through the caravan park at Crystal Brook and would have been an ideal place to stay as this was one of our start/finish points. We did however stay in a neat little cottage in Gladstone for the two nights. Conyningham cottage. Well appointed for most, including families with a mini play park in the back yard, and some very interesting old stuff inside. Very comfortable warm beds which we did appreciate. after a days walk.

IMG_4098Be wary along the caravan park as the Heysen signs seem to be rather sparse in this section, and as we would find out on the following day, the golf course as well.

The actual “Crystal Brook” we followed for quite a way, was quite a surprise. Beautiful river scenes from Bowman Park onwards. One of the original settlements in the area, Bowman Park is a little gem in this often sparse landscape. Great place for picnic or BBQ.

IMG_4119We found a bar “Haps Hoochie” in the middle of the bush adjacent the “Brook”. Pity the pub had run dry, and the publican was absent. Oh well, onwards we marched, onto Wilkins Highway and turning north again onto more dirt roads. Going to need a bit more padding in the shoes soon. These hard limestone roads are giving my feet a pounding.

After climbing up a few hills to the top of the ridge, we followed Youngs  road all the way to Mills road. It got a bit cold and windy on the ridge so I got to try out my new hat. No more cold ears for me.

IMG_4088In Short :

Walk : Noonans Rd near Georgetown to Mills rd near Beetaloo.

Distance : Day One, 5.7kms. Day Two, 22.3kms. Day Three, 22.5kms.

Duration : Day One, 64 mins. Day Two, 3hrs 50mins. Day Three, 4hrs 2mins.

Pace : Day One, 6.1kph. Day Two, 5.7kph. Day Three, 5.6kph.

Best Part : Bowman Park to Wilkins Hwy.

And the rest…..

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Two old men on the porch.

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Always looks good at the end of a walk. Especially good this day. Anyone wanna buy? Gonna need a 4wd soon.

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Rocky Creek ruins

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IMG_3809The Australian azure, filled our view, dissolving all thought. Chilled mid north air welcomed us to reality. The simplicity of the Aussie country side, rescuing my spirit from the 21st century sarcoma on my soul.

The soil has been tilled with it’s richness on display. The recent rains have tinged the remaining land with green.  New life and old, basking in the Autumn sun, while echo’s of the past still resist the inevitability of time. Walking the less traveled road along fields of hope and creeks of promise.  Wandering the ancient valley amidst a brood of Blackboys.  We once again immerse ourselves, in the Heysen trail.

The first walk for 2015 saw us just north of Bundaleer Dam. A beautiful sunny day with a cool breeze.  20 K’s for the first day to Neindorf rd adjacent Bundaleer IMG_3782Forest.   The original route through Bundaleer Forest Reserve is still closed due to the fire a few years back, and it has not yet been re-opened. So it is a re-route with extra K’s for this, our first walk.  A fairly easy walk though, with few hills on the first day, and with another new year, Grant also has another new pair of boots.   I’m sure he has every brand of hiking boot available by now I would be guessing.

IMG_3811One of the valleys we walked through was filled with thousands of Blackboys (Grasstrees).  This was a bit eerie, especially with one watching us as we passed by. “Invasion of the body snatchers” anyone?

The walking on this stretch was fairly easy. Gentle slopes on dirt roads and  tracks through valleys and rolling hills. We ended up adjacent Bundaleer Forest at Neindorf Rd at the end of the first day. As is customary on our walks, we celebrated with a nice cold beer back at the pub.  The Barbed Wire Hotel in Spalding had the best tasting beer, I swear. Funny how it always tastes so good after a walk.  A big shout out to John, Anne and Margaret, who we had dinner with that night. Three of the End to End group walkers on the trail that weekend. Thanks for a great chat.

Day two was a little more challenging with a few hills and ridge walking. Great views though of the surrounding plains and valleys. One of the valleys had a fair few Heysen markers down on this walk, so I was pleased we had the GPS.

We pushed on passed all of the cars parked at this section’s end to end point to finish up a few K’s out of Georgetown.   A quiet little place with a pub and a general store, and plenty of history.

In Short

Day One

The Walk: The Old School (near Bundaleer Dam) to Neindorf Rd Bundaleer Gardens

Duration: 3 hrs 48 mins (walking time)

Distance: 22 kms

Pace: 5.8 kms per hr

Terrain: Gentle slopes. Roads and (at times) narrow tracks

Best Part: “Blackboy Valley”

Day Two

The Walk: Neindorf Rd Bundaleer Gardens to Noonans Rd

Duration: 4 hrs 17 mins (walking time)

Distance: 24 kms

Pace: 5.6

Terrain: Roads and paddocks along ridges and in vallleys.

Best Part: The views from the ridge.

 

Scene’s along the way:

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Echo's of the past

Echo’s of the past

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Valley of the Blackboys

 

How Aussie can you get!

How Aussie can you get!

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Barbed Wire pub

 

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Going long on whiskers.

For all those fans of the “bearded market analysist”. Tom Piotrowski.

Going long on whiskers

“It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas”. The latest creepy crawly in my back yard. Too cool.

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Christmas Beetle

 

 

Inspired on the Aussie road.

We traveled north through the Adelaide hills, with a Eucalypt guard of honour opening our eyes to the paradise within.

Travelling in Between

 

IMG_1182I had a phone call the other night on our home phone, which could only mean one of two things. My mum is calling, or it’s a canvasser or scammer.  In my usual manner to ward off “cold callers”, I answered the phone with “Bon jour, ca va”.  Answering in another language works most of the time. I just get a delay and then they hang up. Not sure that all my friends are aware of my habit, but hey, it keeps the call centres and scammers at bay, so I’m stickin with it.

This particular caller however, either ignored my greeting in french, or was so nervous that he didn’t even hear what I said. He must have been concentrating so hard on what he was supposed to say, he was not remotely aware of my apparent “Parisian” background. So, he ignored my french fluency and got straight to the point of his call. It was if he could not contain himself any longer and with the briefest of greetings, got down to business.

So, this young gentleman, whom I will call “John”,  identified the candidate he was representing right off the bat, and asked if I had any concerns regarding local issues. Our previous long standing member (Bob Such) was very much dedicated to the local community and much loved. A decent fellow (RIP).  Anyway, “John”, represents Nat Cook, a brand new Labor candidate, who stands on an anti violence platform. “John”, then went on to ask what were my concerns in the local or wider community. Well, I felt like asking him if he had enough time this fine evening, because I had much to say, but knowing full well, he probably would not be too interested in my slightly right leaning/Libertarian views, I picked just a couple of issues to niggle at his socialist heart.

“Not so much local issues” I said, “but more macro issues are my concern”, sounding very knowledgeable with my politico economic speak. “The recent bungle with our soon to be moth balled Desal plant and water rates hike, as well as electricity prices, (which incidentally here in SA are among the highest in the developed world) are my biggest bug bear!  These two, along with our emergency services levy which has increased this year, up to 400 odd percent (average is supposed to be 62%), is sapping all of our “hard earned” before we have the chance to support the local economy by spending it at the businesses that employ our kids etc.

I then could not help my self but have a dig about extra costs associated with renewables of which we all end up paying more for, with absolutely no benefit at all!  John, I have to say stayed composed throughout our conversation, however, he did still appear quite nervous and unsure of how to answer my questions. His standard response to many of my comments was, ” I will pass on your concerns to Nat”.  His nervousness was more obvious by now, (was it me?) and feeling his awkwardness, I helped him finish up the conversation. ” I have a pressing engagement and have to go now”, I said. He seemed happy to leave the conversation there and proceeded to make his two closing statements.  “You can call Nat any time to discuss any of your concerns”, and, then he asked whether I had decided who I was going to vote for. I am sure if he had considered any part of what I had just said (mostly issues with labor policy) he would have realized that it would not be in Nat’s favor. We parted company cordially, and I am sure he was thankful that this call was over.

I do wonder now whether I had been just one more non Labor supporter (Labor are not strong in this electorate) he had rung that night, and was nervous about the possibility of being abused or being asked difficult questions “again”.

I do have to add though in spite of the fact that I probably will not vote for Labor, at least they made the time to call. I have not heard anything from any other candidate as yet. I may have to harangue the other candidates at the local shopping centre over the coming weeks.

Not sure who to vote for though.  Is the Marijuana Party running in this election?

JTF62

Seems there is not much regulation regarding fireworks in Thailand. While holidaying in Phuket, we were entertained  each night to a fireworks display, until…..   Here is what happens when things do not go exactly to plan.

JTF62

Colors of Afghanistan

justthefacts62:

Wonderful images from Afganistan

Originally posted on Steve McCurry's Blog:

  “A landscape might be denuded, a human settlement abandoned or lost,
but always, just beneath the ground lies history of preposterous grandeur. . .
They are everywhere, these individuals of undaunted humankind,
irrepressibly optimistic and proud.
– The Carpet Wars, Christopher Kremmer

AFGHN-12074NF Band-e-Amir

AFGHN-10149 Kabul

If my heart trembles
for Kabul,
it’s for the slow step of summer noons,
siestas in my father’s house which,
heavy with mid-day sleep,
still weighs on my ribs…

It’s for the hawker’s cry
of the vegetable seller doing his rounds,
lost in my neighbours’ troubled dreams,
that my heart’s trembling.
– Shakila Azizzda

AFGHN-12772 Bamiyan

AFGHN-12348Pul-e-Khumri

 Yet even at their most turbulent, the Afghans have tended to impress
travellers with
their dignity and hospitality as much as their fierce independence.
– William Dalrymple,  author of Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan 1839–42

AFGHN-10135 Kabul

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 Mazar-e-Sharif

AFGHN-12373NFBamiyan

AFGHN-12883Afghanistan/Pakistan border

AFGHN-12819, Qala-e-Sabzi, Afghanistan, 2007. Donkeys grazing in fields. Qala-e-Sabzi

AFGHN-10124Herat

In Afghanistan, you…

View original 137 more words

Your Inner Lotus

 

 

The Lotus flower is a prominent symbol in Budhism. Here is my take on that connection. Photo is from Phuket, Thailand. Taken in April 2013.

Inner Lotus

Losing Sight

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