MT Buffalo – DAY 2

We woke up after our freezing night and could see it was going to be a glorious day. We got the fire going in the morning to get rid of the chill, but by around 11am the sun was kicked in, it was about 25 (top of 28 I think) and we were ready for our first walk.

Brad had selected a nice easy and short walk for us to do. It said that we had to walk through a canyon, okay we imagined when they said ‘walk’ they meant it literally. We walked towards the top of the ridge stopping regularly for the pregnant wife, and perhaps a reluctant child every now and again. And when we made it to the canyon we were a bit surprised. There was some serious climbing involved! Probably not for me and Brad, and certainly not for Maddie who seemed to be the perfect size to scamper up and down, but for Claire and Isla it proved a bit challenging. Claire said she was up to the task, and with great care we slowly made our way down.


That small hole of light in the ceiling of the ridge is where we came from

Now she will tell the story that I made my poor pregnant wife go canyoning against her will and therefore I can never complain about what she does or eats again while pregnant, but that is just not true!

We got back after a great walk and I saw that the weirdo hiker had not left Nick’s campsite. It was quite frustrating to Brad and I that we didn’t have this area to ourselves. As we had lunch I was waiting for him to arrive so we could have a chat. Eventually he came and I asked if he was leaving, he said he wasn’t. I explained that Nick was coming and he could take an hour or two, but he would need to leave as we had booked that site. He said no worries, he would just move to the one next to us, that the two people had just left. I took a deep breath. Yes you can, if you really want to, but since we have a lot of children we are a bit aware of them and the noise and how they are running around. Since the whole place is empty and there are forty campsites available, we would prefer for you to stay elsewhere. He immediately said ‘yes yes I’m sorry I will move’.

So Brad and Ains (and later Nicko) thought this was expertly handled and very well done. Claire, who as Brad observed “actually genuinely likes people” was not happy with me. Apparently he was just a misunderstood guy with no friends who is holidaying by himself and probably just wanted a bit of company.

Now the only negative thing about Lake Catani campsite (where we were) is that
a) they have communal campfires
b) you have to pay for your wood
Which makes for a really odd dynamic. People who don’t want to pay for wood can literally walk up to the fires of those that do. And I predicted that he would come to our site, since he was a weirdo. The way I looked at it, if he came to our site I would know he was a weirdo and that I handled things well. If he kept to himself I would figure Claire was right and feel bad.

(Place bets now)

After lunch we headed up to the horn, which is the highest place you can get to. The views were amazing on such a clear day, we could see to the horizon and it was very blue.


On the trail

Views from the top

When we got back Nick wasn’t far away. Baxter was very excited, especially about cooking on the portable stove. Maddie really wanted to go fishing so we went for a walk. It was a beautiful day and it was surprisingly a lot of fun to teach them. I didn’t really know what I was doing when it came to trout fishing, so we didn’t get anything. Maddie was great at casts, Baxter thought that the lure was a small fish and was excited each time it was wound in, but I think the person who enjoyed it the most was Isla.


Afterwards we set up the fire and as soon as it was burning our friend the weirdo showed up to get warm. Despite Claire’s attempts at conversations he only answered in single words. The only time I saw any expression from him was a smile when Baxter asked Claire how the baby was going to get out of her belly. In fairness to him, on the walk back to camp we noticed where he had set up at lunch had recently become host to 7 female campers whose level of noise (i.e. squawking) indicated they were very happy to be there.

The kids toasted the marshmallows and then they went to bed, we all sat up and watched the cloud race over us. The benefit was that it was going to be a very warm night – I made a hot water bottle but couldn’t use it. However the forecast was for the rain the next day for most of the morning, so we were likely going to have to say goodbye to the blue skies.

Mt Buffalo – Day 1

We arrived at Lake Catani Thursday afternoon, later than I would have liked. I never seem to be able to get away when I want, but this poor even by our standards. Brad and the girls were already there when we arrived.

Nevertheless we set up and were pretty happy with the place. Great campground, good facilities, nice spot by the lake. We had booked 3 of the 4 camp sites in a cluster together that shared a fireplace, only 2 for tonight as Nick and Baxter was getting there the next day. So the issue was that the entire park was nearly empty (sub-alpine country in November) and yet we had someone camping right next to us. We chatted to them and it turned out it was their last night. Then some lone hiker decided to camp in the fourth one, meaning there were six camp sites occupied out of around 50, and 4 of them in a small cluster around us!

But anyway, you make the most of it, especially if it is just for one night. We went for a walk, and as it got darker we went unsuccessfully wombat spotting. There were loads of burrows and droppings but we failed to find them all trip!


Maddie and Isla were loving it.

Very sunny, but absolutely freezing!

Some of the great scenery around the lake

We got the fire ready for the night and stayed up late with the neighbours. They were all a bit odd. The middle aged daughter screamed at her Dad all night “stop snoring” which woke everyone up. The hiker refused to say anything. We also decided to skip the hot water bottles. That was really silly… it was cold that night, colder than I have slept in before. With thermals and a -5 sleeping bad I wasn’t too bad but my nose was sore because it was so cold. Claire also struggled. When Brad woke up at 6am he looked at his car thermometer and it was 1 degree. Except that is as low as his gauge would go, plus it was 6am, so not really when the low point hits. My guess is it was around -5 as that was the predicted low for the night before. We didn’t make the mistake with the hot water bottles again, but it was never as cold as that again.

 

Gorges a the MacDonnell ranges

Two things you need to know about this trip

1) After the Alice trip I got a bit sunburnt on my neck. I decided to get a better hat, and when I realised I could match my hero Russell Coight (youtube him!) well it was an easy decision. You are unlikely to see camping trips of me on here without that glorious hat

2) Claire was supposed to book us on a tour of these ranges. She didn’t. Initially we were really dissapointed when it was booked out… but it turned out to be the best thing ever! We hired a landcruiser and had a lot more fun together than we ever would have in a group of stranges. Amazingly, the cost including everything was about $10 more… extremely good value. I recommend Hertz in Alice Springs, nice people.

I didn’t expect much of this trip. You go to Alice to see the rock, right? Wrong!


I don’t know what is better, the gorge or the hat

Simpson’s Gap was first and it was reasonable, sort of what I expected. A very striking Gap.
Standley Chasm was next, again an interesting walk, very nice and I was having fun.
Ellery Creek Big Hole was pictured. Amazing. One of the best gorges I have ever seen. The water was ice cold. But I could not believe how amazing it was.

We then drove to Redbank Gorge. It was a short distance walk across the riverbed. But so many massive rocks that it took for ages. Worth it, but we realised we wouldn’t have time for Serpentine Gorge, which was apparently very similar.


The exception to the hat rule – when my hat is being used as the stand for the self-timed camera

Then we went to Ormiston Gorge which was again beautiful. We then backtracked to Glen Helen Gorge which was accessible by the public and again just as nice as anything I’d seen.


Seriously how good is the hat?

We then moved on to the Orchre pits which was very interesting, before seeing the sunset back at Ellery Creek Big Hole, which I thought was the most exceptional.

Overall an amazing and unexpected day! Australia is beautiful.

 


Relaxing for lunch under a gumtree at Ormiston Gorge

Paradise Valley 2016

Every Easter a group of us head down to Paradise Valley for a camping trip. It is so refined now that we take a kitchen sink. It really does make the dishes easier to do. Anyway this trip has been going on before I was born, I really look forward to it each year.

This might be the last year, though we have been saying that for a while. The people who own it are getting older and having trouble putting it on. And so it goes.

Got down there Thursday a bit later than we planned. Claire and I put there tent up and we were right on the river.

Friday & Saturday were gloriously sunny days, we made the most of it. I went for a swim each day except Thursday, which is really rare. Although when we were kids we used to swim for hours at a time, never getting colder.

Very happy after the Kangaroos had a win!

Otherwise it is a lot of food, beers and laughs. “What is like a sheep but black and white” Claire asked in a game of articulate. The answer is cow of course. These are always the longest and most fun trips, but the hardest to write about. The weather really made this trip, it was the first since I moved back to Melbourne. Definitely a lot of fun. Hope we get to do it again.

Long Weekend in Lake Tyres

So I have officially moved to Victoria. We had a few days off so we asked my parents what their plans were. They were camping at Lake Tyres for several nights, so we decided to head down. I even managed to get my sister and her partner down as well, it was sort of an impromptu family camping trip.

We got down there Saturday and set up. Quite an amusing moment when we realised that we had never set up the outer on our tent before! You don’t really need it when camping in the dry season of Kakadu. Summer in Victoria is a bit different, you never know when it might rain. I have to say the tent looked rather new.

Had some fun on the beach the first day. It has been a long time since I have swum in the surf, something I really love. It was great to be among the waves again.

The next day Dad and I decided to do some land based fishing in the hopes of getting a flathead or two. He used bait, I tried my smaller soft plastics. He got a few bites, but we didn’t get anything. It was a shame we didn’t have more time, as we mostly spent it driving around and finding a few really cool locations.