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.

aawt.jpg

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.

day2millershut.jpg

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.

PocketsHut2

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.

Flinders adventure

Do you have a list of trips, holidays and adventures you are still to do? Not the Bucket List, just a ‘to-do’ list. Mine is really long and always changing. Ever since buying the 650GS’s we have planned a trip through the Flinders to see what we missed last time. Three years on it finally happened. We invited some friends as we always travel on our own and thought it would be good to share our experiences with others. Ian was keen to ride his Suzuki Vstrom but Paula declined riding her Harley on all that dirt. Fabulous friend that she is, she offered to drive the ute and carry some of our stuff. So we took the big tent, lots of nice water from our tank, some spare fuel and didn’t have to carry so much on the bikes.

We did a small reconnaissance ride at Easter to Hillston via the dirt roads and were shocked at how crap our tyres felt on the dirt roads, though the roads were pretty horrific with at least 6 inches of soft stuff. We met lots of other riders at Hillston and decided that really chunky tyres were needed. It’s amazing that we sometimes spend more money getting ready for a holiday than what we might spend on the actual holiday but boy was it worth the $1000 for these Heidenhau tyres.

Tyres

We set off to Hay the first day. Now between work and kids and grandkids and other stuff, I hadn’t ridden my bike since Christmas, except around the block a couple of times and away at Easter. Plus in the month before we left my wrist had become incredibly painful. You know, when it hurts to wipe your bum or pick up the kettle. I saw the doctor and had an Xray and I finally have some old age arthritis. Crap, I was really worried about how I was going to ride for 2 weeks, luckily Nurofen helps. The first day I was so excited and happy that I didn’t get sore or bored on the highway and felt great!

The next day was 200km of flat and I mean flat tar north to Ivanhoe and then 200km of dirt to Menindee Lakes. I have had visiting Menindee Lakes on my bucket list since way before there even was such a thing as a bucket list. And when I say dirt, I mean rough, hard dirt that was great to do 80kmh for the first 105km and then it turned to bulldust. Too late to turn around now, so you slow, change down a gear and go through it. This worked most of the time until in the middle of one patch, I decided it was too hard and had a lie down.

Eventually, it got better and had some well earned beers at the pub at Menindee and camped by the dry lakes. The next day we followed the tar to Broken Hill and into South Australia and Peterborough. The greatest threat then was emus, I don’t know if they are more dangerous when they are stopped in the middle of the road or hiding on the side of the road.

We saw the strange sight of the monstrous tomato factory near Port Augusta and the sea. Then on to Quorn to find that we couldn’t stay in a pub as planned. We went to Warren Gorge to look for yellow footed rock wallabies, which was one of our missions on this trip but were not quite sure what they looked like when we spotted a likely suspect. No, we didn’t see one.

Next stop was Wilpena Pound and we were beginning to think that something was not quite right, the place was empty except for multiple school groups out for their wilderness experiences. Luckily we were too early for the ‘grey nomads’. We had a few walks around in the bush and up and down hills for the views.

The next dirt road was through Bunyeroo Valley and the road was magnificent and the views were the classic Flinders views that make you want to go there.

The colours were there and the one thing that South Australia does have is an abundance of is rocks. The creek beds were all dry (which is a good thing) so you could see where the rocks were and a gorge in SA doesn’t mean a descent of hundreds of metres down a sheer rock face and up the other side, it means, this is where a creek flows now and then. But the river gums are huge and beautiful.

BrachinaGorge6

We camped at Chambers Gorge on a station property where there were hundreds and probably thousands of feral goats completely eating out all the vegetation. Walking down the gorge, there were so many dead kangaroos, at first I thought it must have been wild dogs or foxes but no, they must have just starved to death. There was some impressive aboriginal rock art there telling stories of initiation ceremonies.

Then we were off to Arkaroola and the road got even better. I suppose there are not that many roads in South Australia so they have lots of time to grade the dirt ones.

Arkaroola is a private sanctuary started by a geologist who went there to look at rocks. He was a student of Douglas Mawson of Antarctic fame and was searching for uranium during WW2 for the Manhattan project according to his grandson on the epic and scary 4WD tour to Sillers Lookout.

They were able to get rid of thousands of goats, foxes, cats and rabbits so that we saw a dozen yellow footed rock wallabies here. I had fun doing some of the walks there and the views were so good looking east to the salt Lake Frome.

It always happens that the 4WD gets the flat tyre so we went to Copley to be sure of getting the right spare and a Quandong pie.

CopleyPie

From there it was back down the Stuart highway to Parachilna for a feral burger, ‘eat more goat’, became my motto for the trip.

Parachilna Gorge is the end (or beginning) of the Heysen walking trail, all the way from the coast south of Adelaide  1000km or so away, that remains for another adventure.

A small detour to Beltana and a rough farm track south brought us back to Hawker then Orroroo and THE BEST pies in Australia. We finally got our pub night at Burra, our first ethnic cuisine of the trip, an Indonesian restaurant and Guinness.

BurraBeer

So now we were heading back home. The weather forecast was looking like rain in a couple of days at our planned camp at Yanga National park at Balranald, so we headed straight through from Burra for a relaxing night camping by the Murrumbidgee River. Too bad, it rained overnight so the tents were wet and was drizzling most of the next day, then turned to rain after Narrandera. So a motel it was at Wagga Wagga. There was more rain and cold the next day, after near perfect weather the whole trip it’s not too bad for the last day or two. We stopped at our daughter’s place near Boroowa that night and Ian and Paula continued on home. This was our opportunity to try out our tyres on mud for the first time on their drive in, they grip really well on mud too.

We did over 4000km and had so much fun, I at least feel so much more confident on any dirt roads now. That is not to say that it is easy or enjoyable, on the road to Menindee Lakes, I was screaming a myself, ”What do you think you are doing you stupid bitch??” but it’s all fun when you are finished and are telling stories….Till next time.