Tasmania and lots of other places along the way

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Our plan had been in place to go to Tasmania for the National Veteran Motorcycle rally for 12 months or more but at the last minute I crashed the car on the way to work one week before leaving and it got written off. Bugger. How are we going to get ourselves and the old Douglas to Tasmania now?
At least we have some options. Our good friends had some space in their trailer to take the old bike and we could ride our BMWs or take the Ural outfit so we would still get some camping in. The Ural option won, so it was a quick rethink on the packing and we were ready to set off for Melbourne on Friday to catch the ferry on Saturday.
Conveniently, my big brother lives in Melbourne and was able to put us up for the night.
All went well though rather slow down the Hume highway until all of a sudden the rear tyre went flat. One good thing about Ural, they provide an enormous tool kit plus grandpa had purchased a jack for just such an occasion. It didn’t take too long and we were back on the road.
One or two wrong turns the next morning and we arrived early for the Spirit of Tasmania. It was running late and was still on its way in. We left 2.5 hours late so had plenty of time to chat to other motorcyclists and hear all their stories. A crazy guy from Western Australia, a Melbourne bloke who was just going to Tassie for a week ride and an Italian woman riding her bike all over the world. We did a lap of the boat and found a few good spots to pass the time but mostly at the stern deck just watching the water. The sea was so blue, inky blue.

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We got into Ulverstone late and put up the tent we haven’t used for two years in the dark. The rally started on Sunday, out came the Douglas for the first days run and Paula and I went for a walk in Naw I want to poo National Park. I even saw a seal from up on the headland.
Monday I had a ride on the 1914 Douglas and tried to remember all the quirks like the foot clutch goes forward not down, the air lever is on top and the fuel lever below (no twist grip on this baby) and don’t stop with your foot on the clutch and the brake as you will fall over. Luckily I didn’t do that. It starts really easy, just push, push, push and let out the decompression lever and it fires and your away. I got plenty of starting practice because, even though I could put it back to neutral or low gear at intersections, it really requires a lot of time and forethought and mostly it was easier to just stop it and then get going again. By the end of the week I was getting the hang of it though.
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We had another tourist day to the Tarkine forest and saw sinkholes, walked up hills and saw lots of beautiful greenery and trees. Surrounding all of this is forestry and plantations and I find it amazing that people have to fight so long and hard to protect these beautiful, small remnants of what once covered a huge area. Given half a chance, they would rip it all out.
After the rally we set off for some camping and exploring the north east. Up Jacobs ladder on Ben Lomond to a small ski field. What a road, lots of hair pins and gravel and a really steep grade. We took some dirt back roads then the highway to Scottsdale with many many corners. We stopped by a gorgeous little creek for a cuppa because Grandpa was a bit weary by then, but he was having fun just the same. A beer and a pub dinner revived him.
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No trip to Tassie is complete without a trip to a cheese factory. We stopped at Pyeangana for some great cheddar and awesome blue cheese and watched the cows coming into the automated milking shed. Maybe we should buy some of these machines for the dairyfarmer in the family when we have a spare million or two.
There is lots of great camping on the coast from Bay of Fires heading north, so we thought we would cut across country via more forestry tracks. We had a map but the signs didn’t really match the numbers so we just followed our noses, ending up on the road slightly less travelled. No matter we only ended up about 20kms south of where we were aiming for but had a camping spot right on the beach and were lulled to sleep by the waves.
The next morning we rejoined the road and continued north to Mt William National Park, stopping at Eddystone lighthouse and checking out more red rocks. From here you can see Flinders Island in the distance and quite a few smaller islands closer, one with a lighthouse. The hills on Flinders look enticing.

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You have to come prepared here as there isn’t any water shops or fires allowed but we survived on hot cross buns, beer and cheese plus some dehydrated meals which were nowhere near as good as mine. There was plenty more coastline to explore, a walk up Mt William and a wind farm to visit but it started raining so we decided to go back to the tent and hang out with the kangaroos. Now they know how to relax.
Then it was our last day in Tassie and headed back to the ferry along the longest straight road in tassie between Gladstone and Bridport. We had breakfast at the best bakery in Bridport, a short walk around Launceston, then Port Sorrel and an amazing Soul burger in Devenport. A full moon was rising as we set sail and we were lucky to get a cabin with a porthole for our one night cruise.
The holiday continued with a visit our son’s dairy farm, said hello to the cows and had a quick visit to Blue Pool up past Briagalong where there is another walking track that I could check out another time.
Finally we were on our way home and made another detour to visit our daughter and family. Then it was home. It felt like we had done a lot of holidaying in two weeks. Grandpa was due for a rest because he had been working hard to keep the Ural on track but I was fine as I had been having lots of naps in the sidecar. The Ural proved itself to be a good camping mobile and I’m sure we will get plenty more adventures in it.
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Snowy Walk 2018

2018 wasn’t a big year for bushwalking and had been pretty stressful, especially for Grandpa with family stuff, work, grandkids etc. but I had another week long walk through the Snowy Mountains in December. This time we headed north from Kiandra and followed the Australian Alps Walking track to Bimberi Peak and then out to Blue Waterholes. I joined the same NPA group as last year camping next to lovely old and historic huts each night.

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We were to meet early on Monday morning in Cooma, so on the way down, I visited our daughter and grandkids. It was hot, so they headed off for a swim in the creek, then out to the back paddock to find a suitable Christmas tree. We spent the rest of the afternoon making decorations and playing with puppies.

Sunday afternoon, I set out for Cooma and fuelled up just down the road. Never before have I done this, but I put petrol into my diesel car! Ahhh! Only 5 litres but I didn’t know if this was enough to cause a problem. Blokes in the service station were not sure either and there was varying courses of advice from other customers. I would trust Grandpa’s advice but with the wonderful NBN now connected at home not working and Grandpa not having a mobile phone, I couldn’t call him. The neighbours were out, other mechanically minded friends were not answering their phones either and NRMA would just tow my car to the nearest service centre and work on it tomorrow. So I could only take the safe option and called my son-in-law to come and help. Wonderful Todd, came with jerrycans and tools and drained the tank so I could refill it with diesel.

So finally, I was on my way, much later by now. Eventually, everyone got back to me and they all said “no worries, that amount wouldn’t have caused a problem”. Next time, I will know.

One of the best parts of going for a long walk is the preparation. I like to dehydrate some of my own food as I know what is in it and it tastes just as good rehydrated. This time I tried Hommus and bananas as well as the old standby spag bol and a nice lamb curry. The hommus and flat bread was for lunch which is the trickiest meal to plan for. It was great for the last few days when cucumbers and cheese had expired.

I also like to go low tech, so we have stuck to our Trangia but it is difficult to decide on how much metho to take. I have taken 1 litre for a week long walk and had lots left over so I thought 500ml should do it. After the first night cooking and rehydrating dinner and a cup of tea, I thought, no way was this going to last the whole week. But I found that if I only put a small amount of metho in the burner it boiled the water so much quicker and noodles could just be brought to the boil and let stand to become ’al dente’. Lesson 1.

Barely had we got ourselves settled into our walk, when it was boots off for our first creek crossing, a double crossing in fact, a creek and then 20 metres to the Eucumbene River. Even though it is midsummer, the water was flowing fast and cold. The day was quite chilly and windy but the weather was meant to warm up during the week.

We walked across some wide plains and saw lots of horses and piles of horse shit. The first night was spent near Witse’s hut, there were lots of gaps between the slabs but it was a good place for a fire and chat. The clouds came over grey but there was no rain.

Day two was clear and sunny with numerous creek crossings and then Murrumbidgee River. Lots of undulations today with some bush bashing and it got much warmer. First time ever, I started to get blisters. Lesson 2 – wear boots a few times before long walk to get feet used to them again. Tonight at Miller’s hut, a mish-mash of corrugated iron, was a very pleasant spot near a creek for a wash.

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Day three started cloudy which is a good thing as my legs got sunburnt yesterday. Lesson 3, the UV rating is much higher down here and wearing shorts at home is not the same thing as wearing shorts here in the alpine area. More ‘wild horses’ today and big riding groups camped at the next campground plus road gangs doing up the roads for Snowy 2.0 exploratory work, so it was nice to turn again onto the walking track and we stopped at Hainsworth’s hut for morning tea. There were lots of wildflowers blooming, paper daisies and billy buttons and lots of others I don’t know the names of.

We spent a lot of time discussing the NSW legislation which now gives protection to the wild/feral/horses/brumbies in the Snowy Mountains National Park. In fact gives precedence to the protection of these feral animals OVER our native species. This is so mind bogglingly stupid and has given every ‘horse lover’ in the country somewhere to dump their horses. There are certainly some horses that I imagine ‘look like’ a brumby, whatever that is but there are many hundreds and maybe thousands more that look just like your very nicely bred suburban horse. And they are breeding very well too. Rant over.

We arrived at Old Currango homestead around two. I found two mushrooms growing just near my tent, so that was a gourmet treat to go with my Deb potato, tuna, dried peas and cheese for dinner. We had to walk for water but a cup of tea and a sleep was good. When I woke someone said ‘rain is coming’, so I quickly grabbed dinner makings and stove and headed to the hut. We watched the rain travel down along the valley and miss us completely. What a spectacular sight, I think we have all seen photos like these and it was magnificent. Later, I just sat and watched the sun go down and the birds from my tent, a scarlet breasted robin and gazed out over the plain. Very peaceful.

 

Day four we were ready early and left before 8.30, the day was going to be hot but most of our walking was through forest and shaded. We had lunch at Pocket’s hut, just restored and you could still smell the paint. I also tried my hommus for lunch, fantastic.

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There were gentle undulations until right at the end when it was a severe up and then down to Oldfield’s hut for two nights. I felt one blister pop on the way going down, ouch. Oldfield’s was the best hut so far, you could imagine people living here hundred years ago or more. Now it just seems too close to Canberra airport and peak flight time was rather noisy. There were lots of kangaroos and wallabies, playing, fighting, mating and generally going about their business. Everywhere so far we have been seeing so many feral horses and not a lot of kangaroos, we discussed this and don’t know if that was a real connection or just coincidence. Another reason why the horses shouldn’t be there.

Day five was a day walk up Bimberi Peak. It sounded daunting 15km and 800m ascent and descent. We could see it right in front of us from the hut and it looked big. It is the highest peak in ACT and NSW/ACT border runs right along the ridge, so when we got to the top, we had one foot in ACT and one in NSW. The walk was not rushed and so much easier without full packs on. On the way back, we stopped at the creek for another wash and felt pretty good, even me blisters were feeling better.

Day six we decided to cut short the last night and walked to Blue Waterholes where some of the cars were parked. Then it was all over and back to Kiandra and zoom, back up the freeway to home.