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.

A New Farm Celebration – Vegetarian alert!!!!

We have three kids, Grandpa and I, two farmers and an arty type who is a wannabe farmer.

The eldest lives in Victoria with his wife on their dairyfarm, with a couple of dogs, lots of horses and a herd of cows. The middle  one, lives in the city, in a house, with a fully mulched front yard turned into a food forest and a backyard with a little space for the kids to play in and a space for her hubby to light fires and cook sometimes. And then there is the youngest who, with her hubby has bought a farm in Rugby to carry on what was left when the old family farm died.

It was to Rugby that we went to help celebrate the first anniversary of them owning their own farm. They raise free-range Berkshire pigs and prize winning pigs they are too. They also have three very free-range kids, some beef cows, a Jersey cow, Wiltshire sheep and numerous chooks. Money might not be plentiful, but there is always something to eat.

They give their pigs an incredibly spoilt existence until they have their “one bad day”. This includes, sleeping in the shed with the new born litter to make sure the sow doesn’t squash her babies, feeding them warm mash during the day and ensuring their last trip is as stress free as possible. There are lots of dramas along the way and it can be difficult to decide the best way to deal with animals that are not able to be productive in an economic sense but still have a place in your heart.

I could get into a very philosophical post about ours and animals places in the world but that can wait for another time. One thing I have wanted to do for a very long time is to make sausages. It was a real revelation to me to find out that traditionally, sausages were made from pork! I was brought up to think that sausages were filled with the scrapings from the butchers floor and filled with anything goes and that was why they were so cheap(?). But now I had an excuse to buy a mincer and sausage stuffer and work on some fancy sausage flavours.

When an older sow with an injured leg could not be sent to the abattoir, there was a decision to be made as to what would be the best outcome for her. Rather than disposing of an unwanted animal we could make sausages from her.

A butcher was not available to do the deed, so they were brave enough to do it. There was nothing left to do then but marvel at the size of a pig and how many sausages we were going to be making that weekend. It was the middle of winter so we didn’t have to worry about keeping meat cold, the forecast was for a maximum of 10⁰c, in the shade it was very chilly. We had a repertoire of recipes, some sharp knives and hopefully enough garlic. The butcher must have thought I was a bit crazy buying so many sausage casings and I must admit I didn’t really know what I was getting us into. But, then I thought, this is Lisa and Todd we are talking about, the couple who have accomplished and overcome so much in their young lives.

Friday, we drove down and we were early enough the get to the school to see the kids at their assembly to see Tyler receive an award and Reuben perform with his Kindergarten class. If you knew these two boys you would understand what a marvel and an achievement these simple things are. Then it was back to the farm to get on with the work. Of course, the kids joined in and we started sectioning off the meat and cutting into manageable chunks for mincing and preparing for the two days ahead.

There was crushed fennel seed; dried apple and sage and white wine; plum sauce and ginger; porcini mushrooms, dried tomato and red wine; Toulouse; turmeric; paprika and lots of beer and more wine. All up, nearly 100kg of sausages, enough to keep the family fed for a year or so. We tasted each recipe on the BBQ and had Pork sausage rolls and ribs for dinner so by the end of the weekend, I felt as though I had been on one of those fancy high protein, low carb diets and didn’t feel too bad for it.

Sunday afternoon, all of our backs were sore from working at a too low table and we wearily made our way home to go back to work on Monday. It is great to have a break from everything in a place removed from the rest of your life, the internet, phone and are only doing what you want and what is important, like, feeding your family. One day we may get to do this in our own way….now that will be an adventure!!!!