Central Australian Adventure 3 – walks around Willow Springs

Central Australian Adventure 3 – walks around Willow Springs

Only 5 weeks or so back there had been flash flooding around the station as 85mm of rain fell inn30 minutes.

This had closed a number of trails and left other badly rutted challenging for walking.

But the view from Yacca lookout was worth the walk. Named after the Yacca grass trees that are endemic to Australia and can be seen in the middle photo above

The walk was very steep in places and the foothold very loose.

Further along the trail there are petroglyphs – aboriginal engravings.

These are thousands of years old.

I had read the last time I was here back in 2014 that there engraving were often sign posts. Showing where water or food can be found.

The circle symbol meant a permanent water source and the arrows the direction to find it

So I followed the dry creek bed in the direction of the arrows

After a kilometer or so there seeping from a rock, life giving water

Enough to make a string of little water holes on the creek bed

Its been a beautiful couple on nights camped here

Sitting by the camp fire

Walking the amazing gorges amongst the gum trees and native conifers

Next stop is the Wilpena Pound National Park before heading north toward the Oodnadatta Track.

Central Australian Adventure 2 – into the Flinders Ranges

Central Australian Adventure 2 – into the Flinders Ranges

The Flinders Ranges or Ikara in aboriginal language run from the southern end of Lake Eyre ( Kati Thanda to the sea at Port Augusta

I’m many ways the Ranges are a set of steps, a staircase leading from the south to the the red centre of Australia.

Willow Springs Staion provided the site for a couple nights camp.

As sunset loomed I couldn’t help but climb the rim on the gorge the station is in to see the colours.

Then back to camp to set the camp fire and prepare dinner.

Great place to camp and the dawn gave a beautiful welcome to the new day.

There are special colours when you get to the edge of the desert.

Central Australia adventure 1 -the coastal run

Central Australia adventure 1 -the coastal run

Coming over the top of the Otway Ranges from Forest

The view from Beacon Lookout over Apollo Bay is a must stop before making the final descent to the Great Ocean Road

I’ve written about this iconic roadway.

But on a windy day the sea around the monoliths at Port Campbell is foaming white.

Crossing the border into South Australia, the pretty fishing town of Beachport provided a pleasant stop

The Coorong is for me one of the most beautiful and mystical parts of Australia

A string of saline lakes separated from the Southern Ocean by huge sand dunes.

At the southern end the lakes are dry salt pans which gather water as one travels north toward the mouth of the Murray River

Crossing the Murray River near where it forms its estuary and the Coorong connects back to the Southern Ocean

At Cape Jervis which overlooks Kangaroo Island it was time to turn in land

And to night the Flinders Ranges are within striking distance and the vista has turned from sea blue to straw yellow

And the buildings in the small towns are of hard stones

And the sunset starting to gain a desert hue

Tomorrow its further inland to the Flinders Ranges!

The Steinbock ready for the outback

The Steinbock ready for the outback

It has been an anxious wait to start this trip.

A covid 19 5 day lock down in Melbourne meant state borders closed and my Central Australian adventure not possible.

Life during the 5 day lockdown was not too arduous as I live near the beach

And it was only 5 days till I could catch up with mates again

And undertake preparation for the trip ahead.

In the days of GPS I still love a good map

The 5 day lockdown turned out a godsend.

The outbreak was quickly bought under control and there are no more new cases in Victoria

I recieve my permit to enter South Australia on Friday and today I complete my annual medical tests

Problem of being 63 with some heart disease.

But will soon be off on the adventure which will take in

The Great Ocean Road;

The Coorong;

The Adelaide Hills,

The Flinders Ranges,

The Oodnadatta track and surrounds,

The Red Centre of Australia made most famous by Uluru and the amazing county around it

Into Queensland and down to Longreach,

The fossil area finds around Winton,

Carnarvon Gorge.

0ver 8,000 km to get to my friends eldest daughters wedding near Brisbane.

Wouldn’t do it any other way!

Time to test and set up the new bike – 2

Time to test and set up the new bike – 2

A mob of sheep being hearded along the road side to confirm you are in rural Austratralia

That you are in the mid west of NSW

I waited till it was clear to skirt around the outside of the mob and the sheep dogs and farmer skilfully hearded the sheep into the selected paddock

You also know you are in mid west NSW when you set up tent in the back of the Premer Hotel and enjoy the hospitality and a few Schooners of Old.

But the purpose of the trip north was not to enjoy the mustering of sheep or the taste of a Tooheys old but to test the Steinbock’s comfort for long touring and to test its ability on some of my favourite riding roads. Also to test it on trails I had been reluctant on which to ride the mighty breva.

The Steinbock handled the beautiful roads of the Coffs Coast area of NSW with aplomb taking the beautiful Waterfall Way and its surrounding roads in its stride. AA full tick of approval indeed

But the real test was the Armidale to Kempsey back road that included 127 km of varying road surfaces through national parks and beautiful farming land. (see map above)

What a ride! I also became very aware of how tiring riding on trails iy is compares to road riding.

In the highlands south west of Kempsey are the beautiful Ellenborough Falls. The longest single drop falls in NSW

From to falls east there is there is the Flying Fox Refuge in Wingham on the Manning River

Not far from the coast and its beautiful beaches

The Motorcycle Museum at Nabiac is emblematic of the biker culture in this part Australia

And a travelling piecemeal adventurer can find like souls – lovers of bikes and boats

The test was complete and the ride back to Melbourne was direct and purposeful

As I write Melbourne and Victoria are in a circuit breaking lockdown.

Hopefully, these actions curtail the current outbreak of Covid 19 and I will soon be on my adventure to Central Australia via the Oodnadatta Track.

Stay tuned for updates!

Time to test and set up the new bike

Time to test and set up the new bike

I’ve christened the new bike The Steinbock

The name of a Bavarian Ibex

Im sure you can see the resemblance!

So the best place to test the Steinbock is in the trails of the mountains

Close to home on the trails of Otway ranges of Victoria

Where just of the Mount Sabine Trail is the beautiful Lake Elisabeth

But the real test for the Steinbock was on the high planes of the Mount Kosciusko National Park

Amongst the kangaroos and the wild horses

I was so glad to see that my favourite high country camp ground had been spared the 2019 bushfires

The Ghost Gully campsite is named by the stands of beautiful Ghost Gums that ring the campground

A couple of families with their horses were also sharing the campsite and we soon got to talking and sharing a cup of tea around the camp fire

Bushfires are such fickle things

While the Ghost Gully campground and the rest of the Long Plane were untouched by the fires

Just across the Snowy Mountains Highway the Yarrangobilly Caves reserve was badly burnt

But it was heartening to see the forest regeneration down at the thermal pool

And the caves totally spectacular

I was starting to feel the power and agility of the Steinbock both on the tarmac and on the loose and gravelly roads.

It’s a bike that asks to be ridden so I couldn’t stop here.

but that is for the next post!

A little walk in an old wild place

A little walk in an old wild place

There is something about escaping to an old growth forest

A wild place

On a hot summers day and the beaches are crowded

There is something special about the cool air of a mountain

and a shade walk in an old growth forest

The view from the look out at the summit Mount Donnna Buang is a panorama across the top of Melbourne’s Yarra Ranges.

The summit walks are amongst alpine forests

Ghost gums and snow gums well spaced with low ferns and scrub

Even the remnants of an old alpine hut can be found.

Half way down the mountain the transition from alpine forest to temperate rain forest is complete

Giant mountain ash dominate the forest, along with myrtle beech

Along the gullies and waterways the tree ferns spread the wing like fronds

Parks Victoria provide some fantastic interpretation in Victoria’s parks. These two pieces I particularly liked.

There is something about being all at sea

There is something about being all at sea

The phrase ‘all at sea’

Comes from a time past, where ship navigation was much less certain

No GPS or accurate weather forecasts

I learnt to sail in the pre GPS days

In days of dead reckoning, bearing compases, cocked hats, noon sights, star sights and sextant

And you best friend was a lighthouse

At the entrance to ports, like the Point Lonsdale Light at the entrance to Port Phillip

Or looming large over dangerous headlands

Like at Cape Liptrap

Or at Cape Schank

While at sea

Companions at sea are the sea birds, terns, shearwaters and gannets

And of course the playful dolphins

Then finding that safe harbour

Or the sheltered cove

Birds Rocks Anchorage, Waratah Bay, Victoria Australia

Its good to be all at sea again.

A new year and a time to revisit an old past time

A new year and a time to revisit an old past time

March last year the yacht Futura after 30 years ownership, past into anothers hands.

I thought my sailing days were over

But a chance to crew with friends means that the 2021 adventures start on the bright blue sea.

Sailing down the channels Port Phillip

Past ships waiting at anchor

Keeping a weather eye

Before entering into Queenscliff the beautiful small boat harbour near Port Phillip Heads.

After a beautiful seaside sunset it a day for some final checks then out into Bass Strait.

Grenfell, NSW and the run home through the mid west

Grenfell, NSW and the run home through the mid west

The little town of Grenfell is famous for a couple of things

The birthplace of Henry Lawson

And of my mother

Its a pretty town in the mid west on NSW

I only stayed a night

Just wanted to touch my mothers spirit

Its 27 years since her passing

The during the pandemic I have heard here voice a lot

She was born just before the 1918/1919 pandemic and was a stickler for hygiene

Michael, wash your hands, have you got a hanky, always cover your mouth when you cough

Probably the teaching of her mother

There was a beautiful dawn the next morning as I looked out from the balcony of the hotel.

And I was soon heading back through the NSW mid west plains back Melbourne.