Category Archives: Bushwalking

Mt Werong exploration (6-7 July 2024)

I’d been tipped off that the the south-western side of the Mount Werong road had not burnt in the 2019 fires. The SEED fire intensity map showed the road had been a clear barrier to the burn. When so many other places are somewhat unpleasant to walk in I find myself increasingly seeking out unburnt regions. This weekend definitely delivered.

A few us arrived on Friday night after yet another soggy week. Everything was saturated, and while we had dry wood in the car, it was all large pieces to go on an established blaze. The firelighters which had previously lived in the firewood bag were no longer there. Subsequently Tom and I spent over an hour bullying the fire into getting going. Our forearms were pumped, as if we’d been climbing, after an hour of fanning oxygen into the reluctant kindling. But eventually we succeeded and had a pleasant night around the fire.

The next morning we were joined by two others before heading off to Mt Werong. I had planned to drop a car along the fire trail at the end but with only one AWD and a very muddy section (due to needing to avoid a tree across the road) we only managed to knock off a kilometre or so instead of four.

We had our first climb immediately – the goal Mount Werong. Never was there an easier peak or trig to bag. Less than 20 minutes into the walk, having ascended 40m (maybe 50), we had achieved that goal. From there we had several kilometres of very gentle descent along a delightful ridge line. To my surprise there was even a pad most of the way. Tom’s theory was that it had been created by trailbike riders but if so it didn’t look like it had much recent use.

Tom has conquered Mt Werong (Werong Trig)

So happy with the walking conditions he’s doing a jig

The first real difficultly we encountered (excluding the boggy road) was crossing a pumping creek. It was clearly up and a dry feet crossing was looking unlikely until Tom with his long legs and long poles managed to get across. The rest of managed to follow suit keeping largely dry.

Katie crossing the raging creek

Climbing out of the creek – for once a symmetrical line!

Beautiful ridge walking

Anyone would think it’s a little chilly at lunch

We hit a rocky band above Parliament Creek. Tom was sure he could hear cascades so he went hunting them. Crossing the creek proved a little tricky – though with 5 people we managed 4 different methods to get across the creek.

Some of us headed down to the base of the waterfall which was quite impressive. I doubt that was the normal flow level though. Tom and Jon wanted to explore further as they thought there might be more cascades but with time getting away from us I said no. We’ll have to go back and explore more another time.

Tom at a rocky knoll

Looking for a way through the cliffs

Now how do I get to that side?

Waterfall in Parliament Creek

Tom and Jon on the way back from waterfall-viewing

Heading up the ridge

As it turned out the locked gate on the map, where I’d planned to leave the car, didn’t even exist. So had we got past the boggy section we would have been able to avoid walking the entire fire trail. Since we didn’t know exactly where we left the car it was a bit of a mystery. Both Jon & I kept expecting it would be ’round the next bend’, ‘over the next crest’, but were generally disappointed.

Yep, fire trail

Almost back at the car??

When we eventually got back to the car we put some effort into clearing the fallen tree that was blocking the road. It was a pretty big tree but with 3 of us putting some serious grunt into breaking off the branches we managed to clear enough of it that I was confident we could get further down the road the next day. We had a solid 8 hours out walking and so were only back at the campground at 4:30pm. Fortunately the fire was much easier to get going and we had a pleasant evening in relatively mild (4°C rather than 0) conditions.

Getting ready to settle in

We lost a couple from the previous day to sickness so that left 3 of us for Sunday’s activities.

Confident we could get further down the fire trail after our efforts the day before we set off with cautious optimism. I was hoping to get 7km down the trail and all it takes is one obstacle to put a spanner in the plan. Unfortunately less than 500m after we’d turned onto Little River F/T we came to a 20m puddle that didn’t look passable. So onto Plan B. Except I didn’t really have a Plan B.

In low cloud, in an area that had burnt, there was perhaps a little less enthusiasm for heading off compared to the day before. But I led us through wet regrowth which opened up after a couple of hundred metres. The ridge we were following is the boundary between Kanangra-Boyd National Park and the Blue Mountains National Park. The park boundary on the map obscures the narrow ridge line very effectively. It was only on the map Tom had created from the DEMS using QGIS that we could see the distinct ridge with its series of knolls.

Great views early on…

Wattle and burnt trees make a striking contrast

In my efforts to ensure we ended up on that narrow ridge and not the more obvious one on the topo I led us through a less pleasant section of wattle regrowth. It was as we popped out of that Roger realised he no longer had his phone. But he didn’t know when he last had it other than the car. Rather than go back and look, when it could have been anywhere, we kept going. The scrub eased off and we found ourselves on a typical rocky Kanangra ridge with dramatic views falling away on each side.

Tom checking out the views off Mt Moona Loombah

After morning tea on Mount Moona Loombah, we had lunch on the ‘other ridge’, perched on a cliff edge, with great views down the Kowmung. Then it was time to go phone-hunting!

Lunch views down the Kowmung

That doesn’t look that comfortable!?

Life on the edge

I was quite disappointed we had needed to go back into the wattle regrowth – it had been apparent that section had been unnecessary and we could have just stuck to the relatively clear ridge. But nevertheless if we were going to make a serious effort to find the phone we needed to retrace the whole route. I think it was to all of our amazement Tom managed to locate Roger’s phone in the midst of the wattle regrowth. Roger was very happy!

Is that a phone you’ve found!?

It was relatively short day but completed a most satisfying weekend away. A place to revisit again soon.

Carnarvon Gorge road trip (6-16 June 2024)

King’s Birthday weekend was coming up, and taking the rest of the week off seemed like a great way to get 10 days off in a row with minimal annual leave burnt. But where to go?

Carnarvon Gorge has been on my to-do list for a long time. Not sure exactly why – possibly because it’s mentioned in the back of Rick Jamieson’s Canyons Near Sydney book. (Not that Carnarvon Gorge is near Sydney!). Every time I’ve looked at it before I’ve been overwhelmed with how far away it is from everywhere, but this time it seemed like 10 days might be just enough time to make it worthwhile. Do we fly or drive? Tom convinces me that it’s probably easier just to drive since then we can take all our gear from home and not worry about weight limits on the plane. Slightly dreading the 1500km we have to drive each way I agree.

Day 1: Sydney to Quirindi (350km/4 hours)

We knock off the first 4 hours of driving on Thursday night after work. This puts us in striking distance of breakfast in Narrabri and then the opportunity to visit two areas we didn’t make it it to our on our previous visit to Mount Kaputar National Park – Sawn Rocks and Waa Gorge.

Day 2: Quirindi to Nindigully Pub (573km/7 hours)

Sawn Rocks, Mount Kaputar National Park

Waa Gorge, Mount Kaputar National Park

Mill-Bullah Waterholes, Mount Kaputar National Park

The schedule for the second day was pretty tight, but we managed to make up some time with the overly generous national park estimates for how long Waa Gorge would take to explore. We figured that gave us time to stop for coffee in Moree… but we’d failed to note where One Ton Post in Mungindi actually was. And had no reception – rather than just drive until we found signs we tried to find it (on the wrong side of the Barwon River). Any time we’d made up in Waa Gorge was squandered, but we made it into Nindigully Pub just on 5pm. We were somewhat disappointed that the thick stands of trees surrounding the pub obscured much of what had promised to be a good sunset.

Thallon Silos

Nindigully Pub

The pub was pumping and we somewhat accidentally found ourselves in the food queue, which was just as well, as otherwise we may not have got our first choice order. Live entertainment by Adam Kilpatrick was excellent – I couldn’t have pictured a more stereotypical Queenslander! (Maroons shirt & cap, stubbies & thongs… in 6°C) We particularly enjoyed his full rendition of American Pie towards the end of his set.

Day 3: Nindigully Pub to Carnarvon Gorge (491km/5.5 hours)

The next day was an early start, our preferred way to tackle a long driving day, getting a couple of hours of driving under the belt before breakfast (in Surat). With the schedule already falling behind we didn’t do the full riverside walk but it was good to stretch the legs out.

Roma’s supermarkets seemed packed with people like us stocking up for a few days. We managed to get in and out fairly quickly before lunch at Injune, in June (never gets old I’m sure). The only option was the pub of which we were 2 of 4 patrons. It’s hard to imagine the economics work – but I assume it must get busier at night. The chips were some of the best I’ve ever had – so crunchy!

Largest bottle tree in Roma

By the time we got into the Caravan Park at Carnarvon Gorge mid-afternoon I was ready not to do much for the rest of the day. Originally we had thought we might go and do a walk, but setting up camp, and not having to think for half an hour won out. That said there was a lookout to visit for sunset and some supposed platypus viewing to be had. Sadly, we didn’t look at the map properly and so spent a good 20 minutes looking for platypus at the swimming hole instead of the platypus area. Then mistimed our arrival at the lookout for sunset. Quickly dashing back to the actual platypus pool we did get to spot one before it swam off downstream away from where we were allowed to go. Ah well, can’t have it all. With a new moon the sky was dark and clear, the stars were phenomenal. It was also good to know we didn’t have any real driving for the next 4 days.

Day 4: Carnarvon Gorge caravan park to National Park entry (Driving: 6km / 15 min)

Another relatively early start, complicated by needing to pack overnight packs for the next few nights. But we managed to be walking by 9am which was the goal. The vegetation was so lush – not really what I was expecting. It really didn’t feel like we were in Outback Queensland. We did all the side-trips as we walked up the gorge; the Moss Garden, the Amphitheatre, the Art Gallery and Cathedral Cave. Wards Canyon was closed due to flood damage.

Beautiful day in Carnarvon Gorge

Tom in the Amphitheatre

The Art Gallery – the most impressive collection of art I’ve seen in one location

All 17 crossings up the gorge were labelled – though the signs got further and further back from the creek as we went upstream

Around one of the communal fires the previous night we’d met a couple of young guys who were heading out on the Great Walk and camping at Big Bend like us that evening. We kept leap-frogging them through the day – though they were doing was more exercise than us, as we dumped our packs at the junctions, whereas they were carrying them in and out on all the side trips. We also explored up an unwritten up side creek, which ended up being quite a lovely section of gorge/canyon.

Precipice Sandstone cliffs in lovely light

Big cliffs

Dramatic gorge, small human

Epic camp cave (Cathedral/Pitjara) – you can see why this was used by the local people for thousands of years

Eventually we made it to Big Bend – the last arrivals for the day, with 6 others already set-up. As such we got the ‘worst’ pick of the campsites, but we were happy enough with it that we didn’t bother moving when everyone else cleared out the next morning.

Our camp cave not quite so epic (or is it..)

We chatted with the two young guys until it got dark and cold. They headed for their tents, and we rugged up. Another couple from Cairns shared the picnic table with us while we had dinner. The third couple barely left their tent, so we never spoke to them. It was pretty cold, and the Cairns couple headed to bed by 6pm. That left me & Tom partying until 8pm.

Day 5: No driving!

It was a chilly night, we slept really well and after all our early starts were happy to have a sleep in. Our relaxed start meant we didn’t get away from camp until almost 10am. A day of exploring up-gorge with no real goals meant timing was pretty flexible. We had a successful day poking our heads up a number of gorges, generally getting stopped by some sort of chockstone block-up.

A canyon!

Tom in the canyon

Trying to replicate a photo of me in Blarney Canyon in Utah (turns out not that similar)

Tom looking small in a mossy section

Will he hop in the water in an attempt to continue upstream?

Large log jam!

Cliffs in the main gorge

Staghorns

Starting up another side gorge

up/down climb (depending on your direction)

Handy roots provide access into this side creek

Back at camp we had a new cohort of campers. Mum & 2 young daughters who were obviously experienced campers and quite precocious, plus a couple from Mackay on their final day of the Great Walk. They spoke of how cold it had been at the higher camps of the previous few nights. It seemed slightly warmer than the night before but still pretty chilly and yet again we were the only ones up at the late hour of 8pm.

Big Bend campsite reflections

Day 6: No driving!

On day 6 we were back to an early start, aiming to get up Battleship Spur in the cooler part of the morning. Not that it had been particularly warm during the day (maybe 19°C?), but a 500m ascent is a 500m ascent. What a delightful walk – the start of Boowinda Gorge was quite impressive, the scramble up the gully onto the ridge, then the ridge walking was excellent, before traversing across the tops to the lookout. We had a perfect day for it, and it was really enjoyable.

“the Subway” of Boowinda Gorge (at least that’s what it reminded me of)

On our way up to Battleship Spur

It took us 2 hours from camp to the lookout which was great timing for morning tea.

Battleship Spur viewpoint

Eventually we decided we better head back down. Everything had a slightly different perspective going the other direction. We enjoyed watching a couple of wedge-tailed eagles soaring just overhead, and Tom got to photograph the orchids we’d rushed past on the way up.

Tom in dinosaur country

At the bottom of the steep gully which gives access up to the tops

Back down in Boowinda Gorge, we headed upstream. I wasn’t really feeling it so I let Tom keep going while I found a nice flat rock to lie on. The sun vanishes early from the gorge in winter, and it was pretty chilly in the gorge, so it wasn’t quite as relaxing as it could have been. Tom eventually reappeared and said he’d found a flowing canyon only 9 minutes upstream. So we headed up to that, but I decided I didn’t need to go past the section where wading was required (Tom already had).

Tom found a wet canyon!

Back in the subway

On the way back down the gorge we had an unusual encounter. Two wedge-tailed eagles were perched in a tree in the gorge – seemed unusual, but maybe they roost there for the night?

It was a lot milder that evening – I didn’t even put my down jacket on till after 7pm. We had a full party around the picnic table – Mum & her daughters were still there, plus a couple from Kingaroy on their first overnight hike, and a couple from Brisbane just starting the Great Walk. Despite the mild(er) temperatures we were still the last ones up – at 8pm!

Day 7: National Park entry to Carnarvon Gorge caravan park (Driving: 6km / 15 min)

Day 7 was another full schedule so up early again – but to be fair when you’re going to sleep by 9pm, that’s still over 9 hours sleep with a 6:30am wake-up. The first half of the walk back down Carnarvon Gorge passed very quickly. The first of the day trippers we encountered quite early – unfortunately one of them had fallen in at Creek Crossing 10. We’d seen 2 people slip in there while having lunch on our first day. So beware crossing 10! The second half dragged a bit as we both waited for the turn off for Boolimba Bluff to appear. Eventually it did. We stashed our packs and walking on air with only day packs as we headed up to the lookout. The ‘steep and rugged’ walk up the gully reminded me of the Devil’s Hole in Katoomba and was lovely as it was in the shade. Apparently we’re fitter than we thought as we overtook quite a few people on our way up.

I obviously wasn’t that impressed with the view as I didn’t see fit to include a photo!

On our way back from Boolimba Bluff lookout. The sigh says “the next 300m is very steep and rugged. Recommended only for the physically fit”. Not sure what Tom was doing up there… 🙂

We were back at the visitors centre in time for lunch. We almost lost lunch to a determined kookaburra but fortunately it didn’t manage to make off with most of our cheese.

Post lunch we still had Mickey Creek, and side creek Warrumbah Creek that doesn’t even get a mention on the map, to do so Tom said there was no time for me to have a coffee. Boo. Turned out to to be a good thing, since by the time we’d been up the upper left fork and upper right fork of Mickey Creek and then explored a long way up Warrumbah Creek there wasn’t that much time left in the afternoon.

Found us another canyon

Turns out we left the best for last. Warrumbah Creek was a stunner. I think the other canyons may have felt a bit disappointing if we’d done this one first. Tom went a bit further than me, as I wasn’t keen to have wet shoes to go back down the flimsy branch we’d balanced on to get up the canyon. He didn’t get much further though as he came to a chest deep section, followed by a tricky looking climb up. With his camera/phone/gps in his short pockets it made it an easier choice to turn around.

Slanty corridor here we come

Canyon shoes come into their own for some bridging

Don’t think he bridged that pool!

Flimsy branch provided access up-canyon

Spectacular canyon

Back at the Caravan Park we prioritised platypus viewing over sunsets. The first pool didn’t provide much, so we wandered to the second one. Almost immediately I spotted some churned up dirt and bubbles. Bingo! We ended up watching two platypus swim about for half an hour. The closest view I’ve ever got of one. It was an excellent end to the trip.

My best platypus viewing experience – it was in fact excellent, even if this photo doesn’t perhaps suggest that

Day 8: Carnarvon Gorge caravan park to Toowoomba (611km / 7 hours)

Surprisingly (not), day 8 was an early start. We had an excellent breakfast in Injune (the sole cafe is open in the mornings), before stops in Chinchilla and then Dalby to stretch our legs walking along the river. I’d left booking accom to the last minute, and lots of motels in Toowoomba were full. Eventually I found us a much nicer room than I would have normally booked – and for once I took advantage of having a spa bath to soak my legs which were feeling the 4 days of walking.

Day 9: Toowoomba to Girraween National Park (191km / 2 hours 20 min)

We had a relaxing start to the day as we only had a couple of hours of driving and a similar amount of walking. Despite being our first visit to Girraween National Park we eschewed the popular walks and instead headed to the Mt Norman side to walk into a remote bush camp site I’d booked. I don’t think I’d appreciated the walk in was entirely on fire trail, but it was, so we made quick work of the 8km. Unfortunately the blue skies we’d started the day with were now grey clouds which didn’t bode that well for photography.

Stone gate entrance, Girraween National Park

South Bald Rock remote camp

Tom directed us to a track which led around the back of South Bald Rock and eventually up to the granite. At that stage I was wondering why we hadn’t camped closer to the summit as the thought of retracing the route after dark (or before sunrise) was a bit daunting. However, once on top it looked like we might be able to walk off the front back to camp.

Looks like sunset but it’s only mid-afternoon

Can we get off the front of this?

Camp is a long way down

Unfortunately it then started raining – that was not in the forecast! I’d been so casual about the forecast I hadn’t even brought a raincoat. Fortunately there was a large overhanging boulder near by so we sheltered under that with our happy hour while the rain blew through. In the scheme of things we couldn’t have done much better.

Hiding from the rain under a convenient boulder during an un-forecast bout of rain

The rain stopped for sunset but there was a bit too much cloud for anything spectacular. We made it back to the tent before the next lot of rain came through, so I got lucky on my lack of raincoat.

Actual sunset… Putin eat your heart out

Day 10: Girraween National Park to Armidale (265km / 3 hours 10 min)

Tom’s description of the morning didn’t make me rush out of bed to join him for a pre-sunrise hike back up South Bald Rock. I enjoyed being warm in bed while he went seeking sunrise. We walked out straight after breakfast and were back at the car by 11am. A bit earlier than expected – I was a bit over the walking – the weather combined with the fire trail made the trip a bit disappointing.

Instead we turned to the other thing we often do on roadtrips – wine tasting! Only 15 minutes up the road was Queensland’s premiere (and only!) wine region. We found ourselves at a winery with a generous lunch platter and tasting flight – an excellent way to spend a couple of hours before hitting the road to Armidale.

Day 11: Armidale to Sydney (480km / 5 hours 30 min)

We decided to take Thunderbolt Way back to Sydney – looking forward to a breakfast stop at the patisserie in Gloucester. We were very nearly too late as we secured the final two vanilla slices! Though to be honest I think the sausage roll was probably more impressive. Breaking the trip up we had coffee in Stroud, before the final push back home.

Total 2983km

Winburndale (25-26 May 2024)

This was my second trip to Winburndale – given how many closures and areas with unpleasant regrowth there are at the moment I’m surprised I hadn’t thought to come back here sooner. Sure the walking is a little contrived as the areas is riddled with fire trails but if you pretend they aren’t there then there is some really nice walking to be had.

Morning tea – day 1

The tourist at Winburndale Rivulet

delightful off-track walking

Getting to camp mid-afternoon I thought we had plenty of time. Most of us headed off on a water run. I blithely said I wasn’t taking a torch as we wouldn’t need them. But we got into the creek where we’d found water on my previous trip, and it was pretty algae-ridden. We kept pushing downstream until we eventually found some small pools without any algae. By the time the seven of us had filled up water there was only 20 minutes till sunset.

one of the small pools we eventually found late Saturday

‘first’ sunset on our way back from the water collection

I complained that missing sunset when we had a high camp defeated the point, but Paul assured me we’d be back in time. Silently I thought there was no chance. As we crested the first ridge on our way back we could see the sun setting through the trees. Oh well. Then we crossed the saddle and popped up on the ridge we were camping on to see the sun just about to go below the horizon. Amazing. And what a spectacular sunset it was – one of the best in many months.

second sunset from camp

sunset just kept on giving

Sunrise was pretty speccy the next morning – lots of valley cloud adding a magical touch as the sun slowly hit the ridges spread out across the valley.

sunrise wasn’t too shabby either

camp in the trees

valley cloud

One of the party had sprained their ankle the previous day so we split the group on Sunday. Tom headed out with two of the others via the fire trails that the rest of us were pretending didn’t exist. The remaining 5 of us reversed my 2020 day one route. This was really enjoyable walking along the conglomerate escarpment. I think the angle of the views and walking away from the sun made this direction the better one. We spotted 3 goats, quite a few wallabys and heard plenty of lyrebirds in the valley below.

rock strata

The fabulous five at morning tea

Winburndale Dam with a blanket of cloud behind it

mini canyon

Winburndale Rivulet

Conglomerate ridge

Fire trail back to the car

A really enjoyable weekend of walking with a great group.

Anzac LWE scrub-free! (25-27 Apr 2024)

There were a few permutations before our leader John settled on what was a significantly easier trip than the one originally posted on the Club program. We exchanged probable hours of thick bush-bashing with full packs for idyllic open ridges and a base camp meaning we only carried full packs for a day and a half. The downside – a 5 hour drive from Sydney – but something I was willing to stomach given the ANZAC day public holiday was a Thursday, giving me a four day weekend.

The temperature as we drove down from Canberra on Thursday morning started at 4°C and hovered between -1°C and 1°C most of the way. We warmed up with a free sausage sizzle (and excellent coffee) at the Courtyard Cafe in Cooma. Those that had camped at Numeralla had a pretty chilly night and I think we were all questioning whether we’d packed enough warm clothes.

Don’t think this obstacle was on the trip waiver

Our early walking was stymied early on when we found ourselves inside a very securely fenced revegetation area – but like numerous wombats before us, we escaped!

Revegetative works

Regrowth has become such a normal part of walking in most parks within 2-3 hours of Sydney that I had to keep pinching myself as we walked up open ridges where barely a bush brushed our legs. What a treat!

But where’s the scrub?!

By lunch time we had reached our proposed base camp an idyllic setting with what looked like a great swimming hole. Ha swimming. Who would do that when temperatures still felt like they were in the single digits.

River crossing

But why is no one swimming?

Post lunch most of us headed off for a upstream excursion which had some fun scrambling, river crossings and more hills. At the top of our last hill I was wondering why I was feeling so tired, but felt somewhat better when told our cumulative ascent for the day was around 700m.

Lauren attempting to negotiate a bluff

Beautiful river scenery

More open walking!

Our camp for two nights

That night, appropriately given it was ANZAC day, Tom gave us a moving rendition of “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”. A poignant reminder of the futility of war.

Fortunately it was nowhere near as cold overnight compared to the previous night and I think collectively we all slept really well. Day 2, we had a 7:30am departure from camp, for a day trip that John threatened might finish after dark. This time we headed downstream. This was mainly very quick walking apart from a wiggly section with some really picturesque rocks and an amazingly balanced tree – evidence of the previous flood.

Early morning river crossing

Serenity

Lauren taking her own route

Tom scrambling

Fun rocky river section

Chute

We had morning tea downwind of a pig carcass before taking on some more hills. Lunch was at a pleasant spot with views over the surrounding area. Before we had a wonderful ridge walk back towards camp and another scrub-free ridge descent back to camp. A wonderful day with lots of variety and very little to complain about. Especially since we were back in time to have an afternoon coffee 🙂

Less fun scenery – but better dead than alive

Climbing up a small creek

Lunch views on day 2

Despite the cool temperature on the first day Tom & I still had a swim. It was much warmer on day 2 but the water was still very chilly for our swim on the second day.

Our second night’s entertainment, a pivot from the previous night, was the story of an epic that one of the party had recently been on. The story itself was an epic and everyone was so engrossed, that dinner got pushed back to after 6pm!

Chilly swim

Day 3 brought a split in the group. One party member’s knee was not functioning well, so one contingent would take the most direct route back to the cars, while the other group would take on John’s original plan for day 3. Initially the fabulous five were going to take the longer route, but in the end it was just the three musketeers (me, Tom & Lauren). We chose to modify John’s route and just follow the ridges for our route out – these ended up being quite different from our ridge line the previous day. Getting up to 1200m we seemed to be above the main tree line so had expansive views of the surrounds. But the Allocasuarina nana covered much of the bare ridges. While it was generally only knee high it did slow things down.

Early morning views on day 3

Sort of scrub-free – at least we can see 🙂

Unusual rock

Rocky ridge walking

We had hoped for some views from our high point for the day but it was a eucalypt covered mound. Instead we headed down an old fire trail and found a couple of flat rocks poking out of the allocasuarina for great lunch views.

Lunch spot (tree-covered high point in the background)

After lunch we were mainly on fire trail and some very open ridges back to the car. We were also walking into the sun, which seemed very scorchy, and by the time got to the cars we were all feeling pretty fried and looking forward to milkshakes in Cooma!

Another open ridge back to the car

What a treat to get out in unburnt country for three days. Thanks to John for organising.

Colo Pass 5 & 1 (20-21 Apr 2024)

James wanted to go canyoning for the weekend. Woohoo! But his suggestions were far more energetic than either Tom or I were capable of, and the weather forecast was not overly enticing for wet canyoning. But why work out plans more than 48 hours in advance? Eventually we settled on a trip into the Upper Colo since James had never been there, and I was hoping it would mean we wouldn’t be away the *entire* weekend.

About 20 minutes after leaving home on Saturday morning Tom started swearing. His phone and wallet are still on the table at home. “Am I taking the next exit?”… “Running out of time for a decision?”… I assured him it would be like going bush in the old days before Lidar maps existed and we had to just use our experience. I’m not sure he was convinced.

We continued on; but without Tom’s drivers licence I ended up doing most of the driving. Well, until we got to the boggy sections on the Culoul Range Fire Trail. I got us through a few puddles but as we started swinging about I decided I’d had enough. And Tom, licence or not, could be responsible for getting us through the remainder. We made it to the end of the road intact and were soon fairly saturated as we started walking along the overgrown trail. The forecast rain seemed to have come through before we arrived that morning and everything was sodden.

Eventually we dropped off the track, where apparently it hadn’t rained given how dry it was, and headed down to our creek. It was slow going, with plenty of young lawyer vine ready to leave its mark.

Between a petrol stop, a coffee/banh mi/pastry stop, the wet road in and then the overgrown approach, it was almost midday by the time we got to the first abseil. The banh mi had been smelling alluring the whole drive up, but were slowly getting soggy and squashed in our packs. The others weren’t keen for an early lunch so we kept going to the further detriment of the banh mi.

Tom on the first abseil

After the reasonable gap between the first and second abseils I got James to read out Tom’s notes from previous visits. I think both him & I were a little surprised (horrified) to find the base of second abseil was going to have a waist deep pool and the base of the third a chest deep pool! Slightly concerned at my lack of water proofing I was happy to let the others go first.

James on the second abseil, Tom at the base

I convinced them we should have lunch before getting into a chest deep pool and we were lucky to have a calm period on the ledge so we didn’t get cold while we ate our soggy banh mi.

As per our usual practice I took my shirt off for the third abseil, which prompted the others also to do so. I was not unhappy to find it was unnecessary as the pool was only waist deep (maybe even shallower than the previous one).

All smiles that a chest-deep pool didn’t exist (just a waist deep one)

Somewhere around this part of the day Tom objected to my efforts to increase our (his) efficiency getting down the drops. I was labelled the ‘fun police’ and then he started imitating Blackboard from the children’s program Mr Squiggle. “Hurry up” then became his catch-phrase for the rest of the weekend – even though he was really the only one that directive needed to be applied to! 🙂

James with an awkward sit-start for the 4th abseil

Tom on the 5th abseil

James on the 5th abseil

James on the 6th abseil

James on the 7th abseil, Tom on the ledge

Tom in the Colo (as well as two of our ropes!)

James on our 8th and final abseil

We had afternoon tea on the Colo before heading upstream. The river, unsurprisingly given the recent rainfall, had a lot more flow in it than on previous visits. There was no way we were going to be able to just wade up the middle of it.

Looking back up where we came

Tom above the Colo

We had a very pleasant night in our cave, particularly with it drizzling very lightly on and off most of the night. We woke the next morning to sections of blue sky which became full sun and blue sky later in the day. Such a contrast to the very grey day we’d had on Saturday.

It was pretty easy going to the base of Crawfords Lookout – truly spectacular country.

James and Tom enjoy a log walk

James crossing Wollemi Creek, but where is Tom going?

Colo horseshoe bend from Crawfords Lookout

We made it to Hollow Rock!

I won the 3 (or more?) time guessing games against Tom over the course of the weekend. Each time only by a couple of minutes which was highly satisfying.

Back at the car at 2:14pm (beat him again), we had a late afternoon tea stop in Windsor on the way home. A very enjoyable weekend in remote country, even if I’m still not fit enough to carry an overnight canyoning pack and enjoy it.

Wanganderry Wanderings (13-14 Apr 2024)

Morning tea views

Wanganderry Walls

Jo taking in Bonnum pic

A welcome respite from the sun

After last weekend’s deluge (200mm+) there was plenty of water about

5 star happy hour views

Sunrise unfortunately was basically non-existent

Walking in low cloud on day 2

Bonnum Pic suddenly appears out of the cloud

Tom on the edge

Beautiful Bonnum Pic Creek

Some how we got out of the creek through that

Views from Bonnum Pic (a very full Warragamba Dam)

Waterhole on the way back

Mt Carrialoo (16 Mar 2024)

Despite visiting Kangaroo Valley several times over the years I’d never been up Mt Carrialoo. Time to rectify things this year. I decided to combine it with a visit to the Promised Land Lookout for a fuller day. There’s definitely no mucking around the ascent starts immediately and is relentless as you ascend 400m with only a few flat-ish sections to catch your breath.

If only there were more signs like this!

I was chatting a lot which is never good for my navigation and we over shot the turn off for the lookout (not that it was marked) by a couple of hundred metres – no particular harm done. The track marked on the map was largely imaginary but it was pretty easy going through the bush and we just followed the high voltage cable signs out to the lookout. The cloud which had covered the valley was still lifting as we enjoyed the lovely views over morning tea.

We followed the signs to the Promised Land Lookout (and didn’t dig up the high voltage cable)

Not a bad morning tea spot

Views over Kangaroo Valley

After morning tea we headed back down the fire trail. McPhails fire trail is quite lovely – if I had to walk on fire trails (which I generally avoid) then give me one like McPhails any day of the week. Having missed the turn off earlier I was then hyper sensitive for our turn off onto Mt Carrialoo with a couple of false stops before plunging off into the bush.

This was another climb with nowhere to hide – just straight up the ridge.

Getting off track

Tom had picked out some attractive looking cliffs on the aerials as a good lunch spot. But going on the top wasn’t particularly quick and so I decided rather than have a very late lunch we’d make do with the cliff views we had.

Permanent orienteering course marker

Post lunch things we seemed to move quicker – maybe because we’d had some food. A few hundred metres out from the trig we picked up a solid foot pad that had been visible on the aerials. The same pad took us out to the ‘lunch’ cliffs for some pretty good views. We had a bit of time here taking photos and exploring the pass off.

Carrialoo Trig

Speccy views

Views from the other side of Mt Carrialoo

Once we’d had our fill of views we headed back across Mt Carrialoo picking a different route off, which had some interesting scrambling, before rejoining the fire trail back to the cars.

Scrambly descent back to the track

This was my first full day walk in weeks, with an excellent group, one of the most enjoyable days I’d had out for a long time.

Caving & Jungle Trekking in Central Vietnam (19-21 Dec 2023)

The start of a month-long SE Asia trip had us in Central Vietnam. As I now know the Province of Quảng Bình lays claim to the largest cave in the world, along with many other caves. I didn’t realise quite how famous the area was for caving when we booked the trip – I was just looking for things to do that aligned with our interests. We didn’t visit the largest cave – there’s a several year waiting list and it costs a lot – but the Hang Tien caves we visited were pretty big! When most people think of caving they think of squeezing through narrow passageways – there was none of that on this trip – it was more akin to underground canyoning.

To get to the start of the tour we flew to Saigon, then took a domestic flight to Đồng Hới. It was a bit of shock to arrive, after a steamy November/early-December in Sydney, we were rugged up for sub-20°C temperatures and rain. We were collected at Đồng Hới and had a night at the Phong Nha Lake House Resort. Despite a SMH article claiming Vietnam was the #1 place to avoid Christmas the Lake House had multiple Christmas trees and a single Christmas Album running on repeat for all hours. We managed to blow a bit of the jet lag away with a paddle around the lake the resort fronts on to.

Kayaking at Phong Nha Lake House Resort

Early the next morning, in the rain, we were the first in a lengthy collection process by bus of the 11 members of our caving tour and our head guide. Once everyone had been collected we had a long, windy bus trip through the hills to the Oxalis base at Tu Lan Lodge. During this time everyone introduced themselves and I of course was judging everyone based on what they said, and their appearance.

We’d had to go through an extensive vetting process to be accepted on this trip, supplying a full resume of activities for the last 12 months, providing photos, height and weight, as well as individual phone interviews. It was a diverse group; 3 Maltese, an Irish/English couple (en route to moving to Melbourne), 4 Vietnamese (though 2 based in Melbourne and 1 in Austria) plus me & Tom. Our head guide, Anetta, was the only Oxalis female guide, with 10 years experience and a slightly sardonic sense of humour. Assisting her was Quyen, along with 3 safety assistants, porters and a cook. I think we had almost a 1:1 staff to client ratio!

Pre-trip briefing/packing

We only had to carry our gear for the day, the rest was transported by porters who we never really saw. The rain hadn’t abated and I think we were all a bit morose with the conditions when we eventually started walking just after 11am (after a 7:30am pickup).

The initial paved road, led onto a muddy fire trail, where the guides laughed as we all sought to keep our feet from becoming too muddy. The Oxalis staff were all wearing plastic sandals and socks – so they weren’t too worried about shoes getting muddy. The plastic sandals are cheap and help prevent footroot apparently.

Easy walking to start (note lodges up to the right where we will stay on our final night)

It wasn’t long before we reached our first river crossing. We were shuttled across in a boat that had a fixed rope to assist with guiding across the river. Not long after that we wound our way up through muddy tracks to have lunch in a wonderful dry cave. As we well know, outdoor activities in wet conditions are made far more bearable if you can get out of the rain for breaks!

First river crossing – this one in a boat

Dry lunch spot

We entered the pretty, but short, Secret Cave after lunch. This was our first experience with queuing for photos – the best spots were well-known to the guides and bright lights were set up provide back-light while we all waited for our chance to pose in the same spot. Secret Cave, in retrospect, was probably the prettiest of the caves but I didn’t take many photos.

Tom in Secret Cave

Then it was back into the rain and mud to get to the entrance of Hung Ton Cave. This was our first technical section. We had to harness up before descending a 15m ladder. I ended up at the back of the group and by the time we were all down everyone had been shepherded along to the river. In warmer times (and maybe lower water) the group would swim the river, but given it was low-teens and flowing very swiftly we were taken across in a boat.

Descending into Hung Ton Cave

In warmer weather this river gets swum, but we got the boat

Anetta had been warning we were likely to get to camp late, and it seemed we were now on a deadline, so there wasn’t any time to linger in the cave or at the swimming area at the mouth of it.

Jungle trekking in the rain

I think many of us were probably dreading camp, the rain had continued all day, the tracks were muddy, and it really felt like the weather had settled in. It was such a good surprise to arrive to a very well set-up camp. The tents were all under cover, communal dining area under cover, the ground compacted so it was just wet rather than muddy. Amazing.

Well set-up camp!

We had an excellent time and were exceedingly well-fed that night. The camp mattresses were pretty hard and I had to sleep with the minuscule pillow under my hips. It wasn’t to be the last time on the trip I wished for my thermarest.

It had sounded like it had poured overnight, I was having visions of having to walk out the way we came because the rivers were too high. Turned out the roof over the tents made the rain sound much worse than it had been, so we continued on our way. The morning started on much flatter ground which was less muddy and we made much better time than the previous afternoon.

Not very jungle-like!

Even though it didn’t pour, there was still enough rain to bring the water levels up. We had lunch on the bank of this river and then needed to cross it. It looked pretty dodgy to me and I started a trend by stripping off my clothes and putting them in my drum rather than getting completely saturated. The crossing wasn’t too bad in the end only being waist deep.

Another river crossing – looked sketchy but ended up being about waist-deep

Later in the day crossing many small streams

We made it into camp mid-afternoon. The rain had eased to very light drizzle and it had warmed up enough that we were keen to swim. We had been promised a beautiful natural infinity pool – but with the water levels up it had a bit of a dangerous undertow near the outflow. Anetta would only let us swim with life jackets on, while she stood guard with a life ring near the outflow. It was still good to get the mud & sweat off.

Camp night 2 – it’s almost stopped raining

Swimming hole – flow was high out of the pool on the left so we had to wear life jackets and keep right

Our diverse group included some members who were keen for photos for the ‘Gram (which of course they did full make-up for). Quyen was a keen photographer and assisted with photo shoots and directing the best shots. Tom & I found this quite amusing and couldn’t resist some parody shots.

Tom the model. Water came up a fair bit overnight – the next morning the seat of the chair would have been underwater.

The highlight of the trip came on day 3 when we explored Hang Tien 1. An enormous opening was awe-inspiring, but even better was going through it.

Approaching Hang Tien 1

Looking back out of Hang Tien 1. Approx 100m vertical entrance.

Entering Hang Tien 1

Anetta knew Tom & I were keen to take photos, and I assume she’d decided we were competent enough to negotiate our way through the rocky banks of the underground river. We took up the rear and I proudly kept my feet dry the whole way through.

Underground canyoning 🙂

Team along side a raging underground river

In lower flows I think groups just walk across the river but it was raging when we came through so we got hauled across on a Tyrolean Traverse.

Using a Tyrolean Traverse to get across the river

Tom on the Tyrolean Traverse

Climbing out of Hang Tien 1

The top entrance

Hang Tien 2 was a very different cave. Unfortunately Tom didn’t get the best advice about whether to take his camera gear in (we left our bags as it was an out-and-back exploration). As it turned out there was one easy scramble and then it was flat walking, with lots of opportunities for tripod shots. The size of the cave and the formations were impressive. The shot below without a person in it doesn’t give a true sense of scale – I guess the height of the cave at that point is approx 20-25m?

Impressive formations in Hang Tien 2

Lunch in the cave

After our morning of caving we had to walk out to the road for a pick-up. This was quite enjoyable walking from my perspective – a much steeper ascent on mainly rock and then a similarly steep descent on rock before a flattish trail. Our group was pretty competent, everyone handling the conditions far better than I would have expected from my judging on the bus on day 1. So on that evidence the Oxalis screening process was effective.

Muddy trekking

Trekking over limestone

We got picked up on the road mid-afternoon and driven back to the lodge. We had a night in luxury at Tu Lan Lodges. That evening we were taken into the local village, by truck (no one was keen to cycle given it was still raining!). Dinner was at one of the Oxalis staff members houses. It was really interesting to see the houses, including the floating house which gets used when the valley floods a few times each year.

View from our lodge

Dinner in the local village

The group, with our host for dinner at the head of the table

Unfortunately for us our flight had been cancelled the following afternoon and we had to get a morning flight. This meant a pre-dawn departure so we didn’t get to fully enjoy the lodge.

Despite the unseasonable rain (it’s meant to stop raining late November) we had a great time. The Oxalis camp set-up meant the conditions were almost enjoyable. The highlight was Hang Tien 1 – not sure I really needed the day 2 of jungle trekking – we do enough rough walking of that nature in our own time without needing to pay for the experience of ‘jungle-trekking’. It was hard to tell how contrived the route was or whether a more cave-intensive itinerary was possible. It’s somewhat a moot point as Oxalis is the only company with permission to run trips in the area!

Katoomba abseiling (14-15 Oct 23)

The cold which I’d had at the Aus Rogaine Champs had lingered, to the point that I cancelled the club trip I was meant to be leading this weekend. I was starting to feel a bit better by Thursday and a house stay in Katoomba seemed a good option. If need be I could just curl up on the couch and read my book.

Saturday was sunny and very windy. “Where is the rope bag?” I asked Tom as we prepared – wind and loose 60m ropes sounded like a recipe for entanglement. Rope bag was at home in the garage, so we’d just have to deal with it.

Jon getting us started

I was a bit apprehensive about the high traverse – it was one of the few details I remembered from this trip. Not having done a lot of scrambling of late I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. Having got there I declared we didn’t need to set a safety and then promptly ushered Jon through to set the ropes. The strong wind definitely added an extra level of mental challenge.

High bridging!

Glimpses of the view

Jon abseiling

For the final and longest abseil we turned my pack into a rope bag. While setting it all up took a bit of time it was definitely worth it – no rope issues and a very smooth abseil for me.

Jon on the final abseil

By the time we were down I was feeling a bit tired so didn’t have any enthusiasm for another abseil trip. We had a long lunch on the tops before heading back to the car. Later that afternoon Jon & Tom went off and did another trip and I curled up on the couch with my book.

Relaxed lunch spot

Having been pretty wiped out by Saturday’s easy trip I wasn’t sure that I had enough in me for Castle Head. But the last (only) time I’d done it was in 2008, which was a long time ago. It looked pretty spectacular so I figured I could at least walk out along Narrow Neck and see how I was feeling. Sunday was notable for its almost complete lack of wind – particularly contrasted with the day before.

On the way to Castle Head

Castle Cliff Trig looking to Mt Solitary

Getting to the top of the first abseil was a bit exposed in places and it was good to actually get on rope and start heading down. Jon and I had a long wait at the top of the first abseil as we didn’t hear Tom’s whistle.

Tom on the first abseil

Slowly picking our way down

Cunningham’s Skink??

Looking back at our route – we started at the top of that pinnacle

Beatific Tom

Once through the abseils we had lunch in an overhang out of the sun. With no wind it was a warm day. Then Tom insisted we visit Ruined Castle on “the way” back to the Golden Stairs.

Jon & Tom on the Ruined Castle

Having overtaken a group of tourists not long before the base of the Golden Stairs Jon was adamant they weren’t going to overtake us on the way up. Not relevant that we were carrying far more gear than them, so it was a quick march up back to Narrow Neck.

Racing tourists to the top of the Golden Stairs

A great weekend out in nature.

Aus Rogaining Champs – Goobang (30 Sep-1 Oct 23)

The 2023 Australian Rogaining Championships – the pinnacle of the sport in Australia. This year the Champs were held in Goobang National Park and surrounding private properties. Goobang National Park is near Parkes in Western NSW. It was set in the southern part of the National Park which is not normally accessible due to being surrounded by private property. It was only my third long (>12hr) Rogaine.

Lauren & I had done NavShield and the Lake Macquarie Rogaines together in the last few months and our low key approach to the Aus Champs started from this initial conversation:
“Just thought I’d check whether you had any interest in doing the National Champs in Goobang on the Oct long weekend? I have been umming and aahing over whether I want to spend my Oct long weekend doing that or not. Still not sure!”
“I do have some interest … yet to have made any other plans for the long weekend partly as I had been thinking about the opportunity to see Goobang NP.”
(2 days later..) “So does that mean we have agreed we’re doing it…. ?”
“I think it might mean that!”

Our relaxed approach meant we hadn’t discussed whether we were sleeping or any other strategy for the event. On the drive up we confirmed that we both expected to sleep at some point – but would need to see the map to decide if it was going to be on the course or back at the Hash House. It took all of 2 minutes looking at the very large A1 map to decide sleeping at the Hash House was the go.

All the trophies

A1 Map!

I think the heat may have already been affecting our thinking as we did our planning. With so many unknowns: vegetation, terrain, how the heat was going to affect us; the course plan seemed like a nebulous concept. We didn’t even bother planning how we would finish our initial loop back to the Hash House. And why we would we need to work out how many km we had planned!? This was going to come back to bite us many hours later, but blissfully unaware of this, we made our plans while hiding in the shade of the bus.

It was so unfortunate the weather had turned out as it did. Had the event been a couple of days earlier we would have had far more reasonable temperatures, but Saturday’s forecast high was 30°C, overnight low in the mid-teens and then Sunday’s high was to be 34°C. I said to Lauren just before we started “What are we doing here? If this was the forecast for a bushwalking weekend I would be in a canyon or creek, not ridge walking all day!”.

Looking clean and excited before we start

Nevertheless, we were here, and at 11am we were off. Just to add to complications the daylight savings change was mid-event, so we were starting at 11am AEST and finishing 24 hours later at 12pm AEDT*. Not that anyone needed to worry about auto-updating devices since the rules of rogaining ban those – just ‘dumb’ watches and compasses allowed.

Walking farm roads at the start [on way #45]

Our initial controls all went well. We were excited to get into the rocky gorge country, I was less excited with the climb up on to the ridge. The views were spectacular but I needed a rest. I had a cold. Between that and the heat, I wasn’t feeling the best on anything involving a climb. With some food and water into me I was feeling more human so we were off again.

Gorge country [approaching #60]

Views to Lake Endeavour (and Hash House) [near #100]

Vegetation change ahead!

If we’d been excited to get into the gorge near 60 it was nothing compared to the excitement of the walking up Gulf Creek. The organisers had warned us all water courses were going to be dry – but in reality we saw quite a bit of water on the course. This was great for keeping hats and shirts wet. This was a spot I’d happily come bushwalking again – perhaps evidenced by the number of photos in this section!

Lovely creek walking

More great creek walking

Spectacular #91

We enjoyed scrambling down the creek from 91 – ignoring the course setter notes that seemed to imply you had to climb around. No climbing around for us, thank you!

Downstream from #91

Climbing out of the creek

#87 and three teams resting!

At the base of the next dryfall at #87 I was a bit surprised to see 3 teams resting. In retrospect, we should have added to their number, as it was shady and relatively cool. But it was only once we’d finished the big climb out (with spectacular views of a couple of low-flying wedge-tailed eagles) and were looking at the map at the top that we realised there were better options to what we’d just done. (For anyone playing along with the map we should have gone to #101 from #87).

One of many wildflowers (only one I photographed though)

We had a bit of trouble with #99, but found it eventually. Lauren was out of water by this point (and had been conserving for some time). We elected to continue with our plan rather than go directly to the water drop. This paid off fairly well as the walking to #101 was straight-forward, and #62 was visible from a fair way off so easy to locate.

Late afternoon light. I mainly took this photo to remind me this was spinifex country

Expansive views from #101

Heading to #62

“The most visible from far away” control. You can’t see it at this resolution but blown up #62 is in the middle of the shot.

Last control before a blessed, blessed water drop

I was also out of water by the time we hit the water drop. I’d been thankful for the fruit I’d brought along – apple and mandarin both went down very well in the conditions. I heard later that (fortunately) the water refilling team had been at this control when 15 teams had arrived concurrently. Something like 120 litres had been doled out in short time.

WATER!!! (#14)

We did a bit of a replan here, but that only involved dropping off a couple of controls, not working out how long it would likely take us to get back to the Hash House. Our stated intention had been to bed around midnight so we could get 5-6 hours sleep before heading out for a decent loop the next morning.

I think the A1 map contributed to our difficulty in realising how far we still had to go in our loop. It was cumbersome to have the whole thing visible at any one point, so when you just focussed on any given folded section you couldn’t see the big picture. And as there were no horizontal gridlines, coupled with the (angled) magnetic north lines, I had more difficulty doing estimates of distance than usual.

Last of the light

So off we went. Our first 3 night controls were out and backs from the road and went very well. These 3 were all quite subtle control placements so I think we did well in locating them as efficiently as we did.

Full moon rise (yes, it’s blurry… but to remind me that we had a spectacular full moon)

I think it was around now that we started to realise how far we were from the Hash House and how the chances of being back by midnight were non-existent. However, we persisted, and the next 2 controls were also no issue.

Unfortunately our only real navigational blunder of the course came after this. We were meant to follow a creek north to a saddle and then drop over the other side and hit an indistinct trail. However we couldn’t locate the trail and the landscape didn’t match the map. Eventually we decided just to head west as we didn’t know what was going on (our team name “Strategically Bearing West” seemed somewhat apt at that point). Of course, shortly after that decision, we hit the trail. Looking at the trace afterwards we came up a side creek instead of the main creek (obviously not watching the compass), and hence were in completely the wrong place to find the trail.

From there we had no problems with the next 2 controls. A very long descent west brought us close to #102. By this stage Lauren declared she didn’t care – she just wanted to get to her tent (which was still a good 8km away). I convinced her we had to be pretty close, and 5 minutes later we had another hundred points – at exactly midnight (13 hours in).

It was evidence of our exhaustion that we didn’t get any points from there back to the Hash House. It wasn’t until 3:45am I was in my tent. 3h 45m seems a long time to do 8.5km – given we were predominantly on track. But that did include half an hour “sleeping” on the side of the track at from 1:45-2:15am. The next day looking at the map we walked past 44, 84, 54 that would have have been relatively straight-forward to get. But we weren’t thinking about points at that point, we just wanted sleep.

Given we were so late back we agreed on being ready to go again at 8am. I was awake before 7am, hearing other teams head out. I was a little jealous as the early morning light (and temperatures) are a wonderful time to be walking. I was thrilled to find a bacon and egg roll and a coffee; heard some war stories from other teams; before checking in on Lauren. Her feet were in similar shape to mine so it was a fairly gingerly-treading team which set out at 8am. With only 3 hours we didn’t have a lot of time, particularly given the state of our feet.

Walking the shores of Lake Endeavour

We had hoped to pick up some of the higher point controls in the south west but it became clear after taking 45 minutes on easy tracks to #41 that we weren’t moving quick enough.

Below the dam wall

One of many fence crossings

Last control of the event for us

We settled for being 45 minutes early as we both just happy to get our of our shoes.

We’ve finished!

With this being the Australian Championships, and also an reasonable effort to get to, the people who were at the event really wanted to be there. It wasn’t like a lot of rogaines were there are people just ‘giving it a go’. It was a highly competitive field, and made us realise just how much we could improve when we came in 39th out of 80-odd teams. Our score total (1560) was under half of what the overall winners got (3580)! Other than the one navigational blunder which I mentioned above our nav was pretty good – it was the planning that let us down.

Final course statistics
11am – 3:45am – 44.53km
8am – 11:15am – 8.09km
Overall ascent/descent 2,466m

Our course

*all times mentioned in this report are AEST

1 2 3 15