I can't remember how many times I have been to the Wilsons Promontory Light Station, but it's still is one of my favorite trips. My first trips there where with "Uncle Reg" on his old cray boat in the 70's. At that stage the Light was still a manned light station and you where only permitted to visit on a prearranged trip. The light was on open Tuesdays and Thursdays, ten till two. A crusty old light keeper would begrudgingly show you around the place after opening the gate at the bottom of the hill. If you where lucky you got a ride up the last hill to the light in his land rover. As I got older we walked in, and camped at Roaring Meg Creek. You'd get up in the morning and race off for the hours walk to meet the Light keeper, and trudge back to the campsite for another night of sleeping on rocks and dehydrated food. My aunties once walked all the way there and back in one day. Not a bad effort as the walk in is 19km, 38 return, Lanie said she was a wee tired after that one. It would of killed me, but they made them tougher back then.
When I organize a bike ride I generally Plan the route, get the food, supply the transport,cook the food and drive the support vehicle. When Mick organizes one he plans the route, and I do the others. Don't know how this happens, good delegation Mick ! There is a election on the horizon so my brother though he would do the right thing and have a bit of charity fundraising for his favorite political party. A weekend riding along the Grand Ridge Road from Ellen Bank to the Tarra Vally Guest House, Total distance 80km over 2 days. Throw in a bit of food and luxury camping in the bush, small donation for costs, profits to the party, whats not to love. 6000 emails later, and no takers we decided to do it anyway.
The Strzelecki ranges are a low lying group of hills in between the Latrobe Vally and the coast. They contain towering mountain ash trees, a temperate climate, matching rain forest, and winding dirt roads.Even though they are only a short way from Melbourne, most people don't even know they exist. Once populated by hill farmers, and remote saw millers, they are now mostly State parks and forestry reserves. Through the center of all this runs the Grand ridge road, Victoria's only (mostly) dirt highway.
Wave goodbye to the dogs (no car space), and four starters packed into the wagon for the hour long trip up the hill. The forecast all week had been rain,rain,rain, not unusual for this area, so we where pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a sunny day when we pulled the bikes off the carrier at Ellenbank. The next couple of hours where spent gliding along the rambling road, past farms and old sheds,to Mirboo North and lunch. It's market day, and the center of town is full of people selling eveything from old tools to healing crystals. Lunch consisted of a snag in bread from the CWA van, followed by a couple of beers at the Mirboo North Pub, and cake n coffee at the bakery. A diet designed to keep those calories up for the strenuous riding ahead. A couple more hours meandering through the hills and we arrived at Turtons Creek our stop for the night.
Set up the bedding, Light the fire, nibblies, a couple of heart starters, send Frank off to clear the track, right, lets hit the pub for dinner. I can recommend the Exchange Hotel Foster. Eye Fillet on the menu, Footy on the telly, Frosties on the Bar. Next day after, a fine nights sleep, a shower, and, the breakfast smorgasbord, we head back to the hills. To day is much less rural. We ride through the high mountain ash forests, with sweeping views appearing now and again through the trees. Every now and again there is a sign to a community long gone. A school here, a hall there, all that's left is impenetrable bush. No pubs or Markets today, so we stop at Ryton Junction for a break. We see three cars along the road all day, and one of them is stuck in the bush after taking the corner to fast. Finally we come to the end point Balook and the Tara Vally Guest House. Hot Coffee and a Sunday Roast before 3pm. Whats the time, 3.30, Oh we well Settle for the Scones and Cream. We pack ourselves into the car,and head down the hill towards town. It starts to rain, got away with that one.
more pics here
Click here for the route it's also good drive if you don't want to ride it.
We started off at the center and worked our way out. Mick had agreed to orginize a bike ride route for the Greens senetor elect, to tour her new terrtory, on the way to her new job. I got the job of driver. Keep off the main roads and see the real people was the brief. We got lost, almost bogged, had plenty of small town coffee stops, and we saw a lot of nada. Shep to Benella is going to be a ripper. There is still time to jump onboard ride leaves 15/6/14.
Bendigo Advertiser Click the pic to read the story
A few more pics from the Great White Hell. Spent most of the arvo scanning old relly pics. I found a box of random stuff from my time at Casey. Every thing from the Donga Bar, Jolly's and even a bit of work. It did happen somtime when Wensday night and being "in the field" didn't get in the way.
It's back, Bigger than Texas and, Crazier than a paranoid schizophrenic with a megaphone hollering at a manic depressive with a chain gun. Thirty years ago the inaugural 5 iron comp was played by a band of brave golfer warriors on the royal and ancient Morack course. These brave path finders pioneered the modern game of golf as we know it today.
In honour of these great men a game of golf using the historic original 5 iron rules will be played. True lovers of the game are invited to take place in this grand reenactment which will be followed by a awards presentation ceremony and BBQ.
Where The Royal Public golf course
Some times Mick has a few to many lattes at the lounge room and comes up with something out of left field, travel the Silk road, bike around Europe, Axis of evil Tour, pogo stick across the Sahara. generally as the caffeine level drops he comes to his senses. Some times they stick. Raft down the leach filled ditch in SW Tassie made famous in the 80's by the Franklin river blockade seemed to fit perfectly as another loopy idea. What's in it for me? Cold water, Bugs, and no room service, surly he would come to his senses. Allas no.
So it was on a cold March day I found myself out side a hotel in Hobart meeting my fellow condemned travelers. A few I already knew, Fitzy the property developer, Jimmy the mining engineer, myself the idle tradie and Mick the latte king. Apparently the greens where invited but they've lost interest since it's been turned into a national park.. As this is a guided trip, I put in much more perpetration than usual, reading the packing list and finding out the meeting point. This was more than Jimmy who having arrived with family from Canada the day before had assumed the start date was two days later. This gave him ten minutes to explain to his wife he was leaving her in charge of a uncompleted new house, three year old, and eighteen months worth of bills. Some people like to live on the edge. At the meetingWw tried on a couple of wetsuits and,got given a stack hat, spray jacket and rubber bag for our possessions. We where also given a luxury thermorest, two words that should not be used together, to sleep on. We then headed off to try and stuff all the rest of our gear into what space was left in the bag before our 6am start.
Back out the front of the hotel the next morning we quaffed one last latte before jumping into the bus an heading off. By this stage our party had grown to ten. Frazsi and Elias our guides, Micheal, Larrissa, and Adan, fellow rafters and the bus driver. A quick stop at Ouze for a pie, Derwent bridge for another pie and by one we where standing under a bridge in the middle of nowhere. Watching the bus drive off.
Fortunately our guides are very experienced rafters. They have done this trip many times before, and in no time we have the rafts pumped up. They are also telling us useful things , like what to do when you are floating down the river under an up turned raft bouncing of rocks. We don our wetsuits and kiss our ass's goodby. Last night there was a 150mm of rain so the Collingwood river which we start on is quite full. This is good, the last trip took 4 hours to get to the Collingwood/Franklin Junction. We jump in the rafts loaded with 300kg of gear, and 23 minutes later, after a few small drops,we are at the junction. One the way Franzi informs us there is only one driver and she is it. We only need to remember a couple of things, paddle forward, back paddle, over left, over right, get down, hang on, and paddle forward said with a really loud an anxious voice.
At the junction I relax. Floating down the river is quite pleasant, the water is not that cold, the rafts seem pretty stable even with all the gear. Its about 40 min to our first campsite. We leave the junction and drift into the first little drop. All of a sudden its dark, cold, and I seem to be bouncing off hard things with a raft on top of me. I have vague memories of some one talking about this earlier in the day. what was I meant to do. "Stick with the raft", all of a sudden this seems like good advice. After a while I surface, which is an improvement. I have still go hold of the paddle so I swim to the raft which is heading rapidly down river. Elias drags me up on top of it, good. The next rapid seems to be coming up very qiuckly. Then he tells me we are going to have to flip the raft because it is upside down, Bad. We stand on one edge holding on to straps attached to the other side, it comes, up we go down, I'm wet again, I get dragged back into the correct side of the raft,paddle forward in loud voice, and soon we are in a quite little eddie. I cough up my first taste of lovely Franklin water, Micheal and Larrissa the other evicties have been picked up by Franzi. Possibly a bit more excitement than I needed, but we all seemed to have survived. I promptly christen Elias "stunt driver".
With no more impromptu swims, we soon arrive at our first camp. It's a natural set of small caves in an overhanging cliff face surrounded by the forest. While I'm getting changed, Happy hour is called. A couple of fine Tassie cheeses, dips, and a bit of cask red to wash them down with appear. The Guy's have a couple of stoves roaring, Hot drinks appear, and stuff is chopped and tossed into the pots at regular intervals. We are informed that we all have weird dietry needs, Not one of us is Gluten intolerant, vegan, lactose allergic, dislikes the colour orange. A first. They have never catered for a bunch of freaks like us before. Shortly a green chicken curry and rice is produced, as good as any I have had on Victoria street. Over the next week we get, Penne Arrabiata, Steak, and veg, Veggie Curry, Spaghetti Carbonara, Man soup and a whole pile of deserts like Tiramsiu, and cheese cake. I'm not going to get thin. I head off to my cave and spend a pleasant evening reading a book I pinched off Jimmy,"The Wit and Wisdom of Keating". I'm soon dropping off to a sound sleep.
Over the next couple of days, the rapids get bigger and we enter the Franklin Gorge. We have a rest day and climb Frenchman's Cap. Some one needs to explain to our guides the meaning of rest. This is apparently the hardest day walk in the universe. 1400 meters of straight up/down climbing, all condensed into a short 12km trip. The weather is brilliant and the view is well worth the pain. Mick hopes to be walking again by 2017.
Every now and again we get to a rapid which is unnavigable. These have names like The Churn and the Calderon. Generally we walk around them, and the guides "line" the rafts down them by attaching a rope to the front and back of the raft and guiding it unmanned through the rapids. Sometimes we all have to lug the full rafts over a couple of rocks, and once we had to unload the rafts and manhandle them down through the drop. Because the water is relatively high we only have to do this half a dozen times the rest we "shoot". At first all is calm, then you hear a gentle roar. Your floating at a slow rate towards a line of water that seems to end abruptly. Franzi starts to give instructions like "paddle forward" then "Relaxxxxx" a bit more frequently while trying to get the raft lined up for the first drop. The you go over the edge, the front bounce's back as you hit the bottom, the load hits you in the back, the water splashes everywhere. Vaguely in the back ground someone is yelling "getdown,hold on,Paddle Back,stop,Paddle forward. Depending on how things are going you may be giong down the subsequent drops forward, sideways, backwards or all three. Think of a pinball and you get the general idea. At the bottom it's paddles up for a high five and you sit back to watch the next boat plow through.
As we get further down the rapids decrease and we paddle more. Our biggest day was about 30km, Every night we stop and either put up tarps or sleep in natural caves. Most of the campsites are spectacular. In the mornings we have pancakes,cereal, toast and espresso coffee, brewed in a classic Atomic coffee machine. So much for toughing it. We stop at the Rock island Bend made famous in the Peter Dombrovskis photo and indulge in a group pic. Finally we hit the Gordon river, and drift the last ten Klicks to our final campsite.
A boat ride and we're back in Straughn. The world returns, mobile phones become mobile again, money is more than worthless paper, the group goes it's separate way's. Things are the same but we've changed. Thanks Guy's.
We went with Franklin River Rafting who where Fantastic, you can check out there website here.
I had a hard choice to make. Mick was headed towards England, Ireland, cold pubs and warm beer. Spring is my favourite time of the year in England, the tourists have gone, and the weather is the same as the rest of the year. Crap. I really want to go with him but my hearts just not in it. Sorry Mick.
Who am I trying to kid. You couldn’t get me out of northern Europe fast enough. Sailing around the Greek Islands is one of those fantasies that I think everybody dreams about. Fitzy and Kate had sent their boat over on a big Freighter, and had spent the last couple of months exploring the French Riviera, Monaco, and the Italian coast line. Greece was next, “Pick Me”.
This is how I found myself on a windy afternoon in Corinth Harbour, talking to the customs bloke and looking for a dot on the Horizon. Eventually the dot turned up and that’s where I joined the Yacht "Loki" and my crew for our jaunt around the Aegean. After convincing customs that I really didn’t want to escape the country yet, we headed off through the Corinth canal, and into the sea of Islands. We spent a couple of days cruising down the coast stopping at the little towns at night for dinner, breakfast and a bit of sightseeing on the way. Then we turned east and out into the Aegean proper. Our first stop was Kythnos, and the little fishing town of Loutra. The crew did an excellent job of birthing us at the wharf while I supervised, then we headed the 20 meters into town for a coldie and a bite to eat. The next morning we caught a taxi up into the hills to check out the main town. They built them up here in the first century to deter the pirates, they where lazy bastards who couldn’t be bothered walking up the hills. There is no shortage of hills here. It’s hot, but the town’s all have a cool square with vine covered walkways and little cafes off them. After lunch, it’s a bit more sightseeing round the island with a local history lesson from the taxi driver. Back to the boat for dinner, and then off to the next island in the morning.
The Aegean can be very windy. The local breeze is called the Meltemi which sort of sounds like bad wind in Spanish but god knows what it means in Greek. It blows from May to September then vanishes. We missed it by a week, consequently we do a lot of motoring, sticking the sail up when the is the odd hint of breeze. The islands make the winds blow from all directions, and very inconstant, so by the time we get the sail up the wind is generally gone. Our taxi driver tells us this is the best time of the year, the tourists have gone, the Meltemi has gone, the weather is good, and the locals are cruising to the end of the season before packing up and heading back to Athens.
We follow the same pattern for a week, then I’ve got a plane to catch. I leave the crew to find a berth for the boat in Turkey, while I fly 2000 KM in the wrong direction to catch a plane which flies back over where I’ve just left. I tell the guys to notify me immediately if they find a Greek Island which is not, hilly, covered in houses with white walls and blue windows, has trees, or doesn’t have perfect weather. I’m still waiting for the call. Click the Pic
The Corinth Canal
It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnesian peninsula from the Greek mainland thus forming another an island because the Greeks need another island. You can also get small ships through it cutting of a couple of hundred klicks on the trip to Athens . It is known for it's steep sides, narrow width and shallow draft. This means mainly pleasure craft use it. It is also the most expensive canal to use in the world per meter. In fine Greek tradition the Emperor Nero started digging it in the first century, and it was completed relatively quickly for a Greek construction job in 1893. After a short defect rectification period it got into it's full swing in 1940 just in time for the Germans to blow it up in late 44, dumping a couple of spare locomotive in it just for good measure. The Yanks finally got it open properly in 1948. Fitzy and Kate picked me up at Corinth Town in their yacht Loki and we sailed through the canal on our way to the Greek islands. You can see some of Kate's fine photographic work here Click the pic for more
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