Out & About in the wonderful English city of Bath…
Photo: Baz – The Landy
From the top of Mt Ngungun (pronounced “Noo Noo”) and from the beach on Moreton Island as the sun slipped below the western horizon, casting a wonderful golden glow over Moreton Bay and providing a beautiful silhouette to Mt Tibrogargan and Mt Beerwah…
Inhabited by Australia’s first people for thousands of years the craggy peaks that stand tall over the region are so significant that they are listed as a “landscape of national significance”…
And hey, what a wonderful backdrop for two pelicans as they glided off into the sunset.
Strewth, you wouldn’t be dead for quids, hey…!
Photos: Baz – The Landy, South-East Queensland, Australia…
This week I had great pleasure from that feeling when I finally visited Moreton Island, nestled just off the Queensland coast and a 90 minute ferry ride from the Port of Brisbane.
Long sandy beaches, an endless blue sky, and beautiful clear waters to swim in – what a great way for us Aussies’ to welcome winter…!
I made my camp, a simple ‘swag’ under my hiking tarp, in the dunes behind the beach at Comboyuro Point on the northern end of the island.
And all within view of the Glasshouse Mountains, that were wonderfully silhouetted against a setting sun…
But hey, I’ll let the photographs tell the story of this Island Jewel, they do it far more justice than words…
Photos: Baz – The Landy, Moreton Island, Australia
Your mind’s eye is a wonderful gift that enables you to indulge your own thoughts, to pause and reflect…
Sitting around the fire later that evening, embers glowing a soft orange and providing warmth against the chill, I wondered, what thread did the tailor weave in this once thriving bush community…?
I’ll leave you to reflect…
Photo: Baz – The Landy, Yerranderie, Australia…
In reality it is about a six-hour drive, depending on the route you take.
Recently, I travelled via Oberon, the Kowmung River and along the historic Colong Stock Route. A dusty, but scenic route, and I was sure to wile away some time sitting next to the Kowmung River with a mug of steaming black tea as black cockatoos passed overhead…
With a few days up my sleeve I decided to spend a couple of them exploring, photographing, and hiking around the wonderful bush surrounds the town is situated in.
My visit was mid-week and I literally had the place to myself, apart from the caretaker who lives on-site. And the only sound one could hear was the constant chiming of the bellbirds’ call, ringing as they flittered through the trees.
The town is nestled beneath Bartlett’s Head, an impressive rock that stands proud and from its vantage point provides a wonderful panoramic view of the surrounding bush and the Kanangra Boyd Wilderness Area.
The hike to the top is well worth the effort and takes little more than an hour.
And at day’s end there is a rich golden glow as the setting sun reflects off its cliff walls before it glides below the mountain peaks, beyond the horizon, heralding in nightfall as wombats awaken from their daytime burrows…
From Bartlett’s Head you can view the Burragorang Valley and backwaters of Warragamba Dam, which provides Sydney with its water supply.
Prior to the construction of the dam in the late 1950s the Burragorang Valley was home to a small farming community and it provided a more direct access route to Yerranderie from the township of Camden to Sydney’s south-west.
On Easter Sunday a service is held in the local Catholic Church to commemorate the pioneering people of the valley and their association with the town.
An opportunity for old friends to “catch-up”…
Whilst it is a reasonable trek to get to this little gem in the Australian Bush, if you have an adventurous spirit, enjoy a freshness in the air that only the mountains can provide, and a day or two to spare, I encourage you to pack some camping gear and your favourite bottle of red wine to share with friends around the warmth of a glowing campfire – better still pack another bottle and stay one more night!
Photos: Baz – The Landy, Yerranderie, Australia…
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The more the merrier we reckon…
Cheers, Baz – The Landy and Janet-Planet…
Our touring vehicle “The Landy” is booked in for a major service tomorrow having done 100,000 kilometres of touring this great country of ours over the past three-and-a-half years.
At the end of the week I will be heading off to experience another type of sand country – Moreton Island, just off the coast of Brisbane.
Despite having lived in Brisbane for a number of years, Janet and I have never visited, so Janet has suggested I head off and do a “recce” of it so we can spend some time there together in the future.
Perhaps she is planning some “girlie shopping” ahead of our trip to Devon, in the South of England, during June and July and needs some space!
Moreton Island, which is reached by ferry, has around 400-kilomtetres of sand tracks to be “Xplored”, pristine waters and wrecks that you can snorkel around, and a historic Light-house built in the mid 1800’s…and they say the fishing is great – well I’ll put that to the test at some stage, but knowing my track record the fridge in “The Landy” will be stocked with a few steaks, just in case!
And I will be leaving the TVAN, our touring camper-trailer, at home in favour of swagging it – simple and easy.
The camera gear is packed, so hopefully the weather will be kind on Moreton so I can get “Out and About” and experience a different kind of sand country…
Photos: Baz – The Landy
By Baz – The Landy
“Up on the hill,
Looking over the land,
A vista so vast,
So splendid and grand,
A Bellbird sings,
It’s a familiar tune,
A lyrebird dances,
Feathers fanned in full plume,
Nearby a ‘roo bounds,
Always nimble on its feet,
Joey’s in the pouch,
It’s a prime viewing seat,
There’s the whistle of the wind,
Rustling softly through the trees,
As an eagle overhead,
Soars high, so carefree,
Now night is descending,
The sun ever so low,
There’s the crackle of a fire,
And warmth, as embers glow…”
Poem and photos: Baz – The Landy
Visitors to the Hunter Valley, which is situated two-hours drive from Sydney’s CBD, will know that Pokolbin is the epicentre of this spectacularly beautiful area.
I am never backward in coming forward when presented with the opportunity to get Out and About in the Australian Bush so I jumped at the chance!
Of course, as with most things, there was a hitch…
The week was to be spent in support of our sons and daughter’s annual Military Cadet Camp.
This entailed cooking and washing up duties and general support around the camp. Filling jerry cans with water to slack the thirst of the cadets as they went about various exercises.
Mind you, it wasn’t really a hitch, after all who would not want to do that for the cadets, their son or daughter?
But with circa 330 cadets on camp, this was no small task – it was cooking on a grand scale and certainly nothing akin to “rustling up” the family breakfast on a lazy Sunday morning!
Impressively, the camp is run entirely by the cadets under the supervision of the cadet unit’s Commanding Officer and his support team. This includes logistics co-ordination and scheduling of exercises, all within a set chain-of-command.
During my week on Singleton Army base I had the opportunity to observe our son, TomO the Crown Prince, on manoeuvres in the mountains on Broken Back Ridge, a ridge that forms a natural boundary to the region.
For anyone who has been up on Broken Back and along many of its fire-trails will attest to the spectacular views it commands over the surrounding countryside.
I spent a couple of chilly nights up there, one of them quite wet, but I was doing it in the relative comfort of my trusty and dry swag. The cadets had to build survival shelters to sleep in…!
Whilst on Broken Back myself and a couple of the other parents were part of an exercise where the cadets came across a vehicle that had been involved in an accident. They were not aware of the exercise in advance, but they quickly employed learnt skills rendering medical assistance to the injured, whilst securing the area from possible “enemy attacks”.
Red colour dye, a tin of spaghetti and a couple of skeletal bones provided the props for authenticity…!
They excelled and we lived to recount the tale.
The Cadet unit at Barker College has a great history that spans the decades from the First World War and has seen many of its cadets go on to a military career, something that TomO is intending to do.
But it wasn’t all hard work for the cadets or the parents.
The last night was marked with a parade, a bush Chapel lead by the school’s Chaplain, the Reverend Ware, who was honoured at the service for his contribution to the Cadet unit over the past 25 years.
And after a meal that would satisfy any soldier just “in from the field” there was light-hearted entertainment when the cadets and parents alike performed a variety of skits. Let’s say, some were rehearsed more than others, but that was the fun of it all…
The parent’s skit won the night, apparently the first-time ever, with an exhibition of a drill march.
But that is what made it all the more entertaining for “the troops”.
This was truly a great experience for me and I am sure I am not alone in that sentiment…
Forged by the adverse conditions they faced it was a highlight to witness the camaraderie amongst the cadets as they were taken outside of their comfort zones. Young men and women from Barker College, our sons and daughters taking leadership roles, following orders, working together towards a common goal and ideal.
Along the Kokoda Track at Isaravu in Papua New Guinea there are four stone monuments inscripted with the following…
“Courage, Endurance, Mateship, Sacrifice”
For those who have had the opportunity to stand there and reflect it is a moving experience…
During my week at camp I observed examples of all four of these qualities amongst the cadets and any parent who had a son or daughter on parade should be extremely proud of them.
I certainly was,
Bravo, Corporal Tom O’Malley
Photos: Baz – The Landy
After weeks of rain in Sydney, Baz and I managed to find a sunny day to walk through a favourite spot of ours in the Kuringai National Park in the northern suburbs of Sydney. The rain had washed the bush clean and the colours in this banksia were glorious!
Photo: Janet Planet – Kuringai National Park, Sydney
And I use the word haunt literally, as it is rumoured the upstairs guest rooms are haunted.
The pub is now owned by former Wallaby Bill Young and if you are visiting on a weekend be sure to take a look upstairs as it has a small museum and the accommodation rooms do look inviting, even if you might be sharing with a ghost from the past…
And if you ever stay there, let me know how you get on!
The village stands alongside the Hawkesbury River, which travels further upstream towards Windsor and downstream to an opening at the sea near Barenjoey. A car ferry transports you to the other side where you can travel towards either Spencer or the small Hamlet of St Alban’s, either of which are a very pleasant drive.
We are frequent visitor’s to the area and have spent many hours wiling away time in the park next to the river.
On a recent visit we took the ferry to the other side and walked up Devine’s Hill to a place called “Hangman’s Rock”.
It sounds ominous and folklore suggests that in the early days of settlement and at the time the Great North Road was being built, that convicts were hanged at this rock. But history does not point to this ever occurring.
But it isn’t hard to see why the folklore surrounding the rock evolved…
What makes the walk worthwhile, apart from being Out and About in the Australian bush, is the opportunity to view the magnificent work done by convicts on the road that was built northwards towards the Hunter Valley. In fact, it is along this walk that you can best observe the Great North Road as this part is now closed to vehicle traffic and has been preserved.
So if a bit of a hike up a small mountain, some history and a magnificent steak washed down with a cold beer is your thing, then head out to Wiseman’s Ferry for a day – I guarantee your first visit won’t be your last
Photo’s: Baz – The Landy & Janet-Planet
Anyway, I caught up with a fellow adventurer at the weekend, as it happens, my brother-in-law the Kiwi, and after some kayaking around the beautiful Newcastle coastline and over a couple of beers he tossed out the line…
“So what are you doing now that you have retired graduated from work…?”
“Well, it’s only been less than a week, but I am working on some ideas”…I said, twisting the top off another brown bottle.
“I’ve got a great idea for an adventure just suited to you retired blokes on a shoestring budget…” he said, barely containing a wry smile..
It’s a familiar line I’ve heard many times before and usually pitched after the third beer. And like accepting the “King’s Shilling” taking the fourth beer signifies you’ve signed up for some kind of adventure.
“Okay, Baz I’ve got a bush hike in mind, the Great North Walk, we’ll start the walk early next week so get your pack ready”…
“Can’t I just think about it” I suggested trying to conceal we were on our fourth beer.
It could have been worse, I guess.
Not that it is an ordeal, after all this is a walk that is quite familiar to me and I have walked it in the opposite direction, coincidently, with the Kiwi, and have spent a lot of time on sections of it over the years…
It is worth knowing, just in case you ever have an inclination to walk from Newcastle to Sydney, it is 240-kilometres in distance over rugged mountain terrain; the road trip is no more than 140-kilometres on the freeway; and the price of a one-way rail ticket is $18 for a journey that takes approximately two hours…
…Yes, I’m hearing you Janet-Planet, you’re right, that fourth beer is always forged in blood, sweat, and usually some tears – I should have heeded your advice and stopped at the third!
Mind you, The Great North Walk is a spectacular way to get between these two harbour cities and worth highlighting it was constructed as a celebration of Australia’s Bicentenary in 1988…
There’ll be no luxury, just a simple bivvy bag under a tarp as we progress south towards our destination, Sydney’s Circular Quay where there is an Obelisk that marks the finish.
Coincidently, the Obelisk is right next to a well known Sydney watering hole, the Customs House. We might even have a beer there in amongst “The Suits” to celebrate the end of this adventure…
Yes, Janet-Planet, I’ll limit myself to three beers, maybe…
Photos: Baz – The Landy
Perhaps it is a word for another age, one long past – for me retirement means I have set a different course with my life, reclaiming some of those dreams I have long-held.
After all, you can’t just keep laying “railroad tracks” in the same direction and simply hope you don’t run out of tracks. It is empowering and invigorating to seize control of your life; to make changes as you look to new horizons.
Speaking of which, the Australian Outback beckons and perhaps there are still some mountains that I can climb and plenty of our wonderful coastline left to kayak…
Without doubt this change in my life affords me a better opportunity to claim back my fitness, something that has been lacking over these past couple of years!
It is 42-years since I commenced work with the Bank of New South Wales at age 15-years in 1975. “The Wales” as it was affectionately known was renamed Westpac Banking Corporation following a merger with the Commercial Bank of Australia in 1982.
“Dear Mr and Mrs O’Malley, it is now 6 months since your son entered on probation with the bank.
During that time, Barry has settled into his new surroundings and applied himself to his various duties to the extent he has shown himself suited to bank work…”
And whilst I have left the building today, my official finishing date will be 10 April 2017 and following a significant milestone in the history of the bank.
The 8th of April marks the date 200-years ago in 1817 that the Bank of New South Wales opened its doors to business for the very first time. And those that do the maths will see I have been with the bank for over one-fifth of the time since it took those first deposits from customers.
Coincidently, it was on 10 April 1989 that I commenced working in the bank’s 60 Martin Place Financial Markets dealing room after my return from a secondment to the bank’s operations in Papua New Guinea.
The bank has given my family and me a wonderful life, one that has been filled with the opportunity to develop professionally and personally…
“I am proud of the contribution I have made to the bank and today as I walk out the front doors of Head Office in Sydney, perhaps with moistened eyes, I will look back at the mosaic that is the Bank.
I will remember fondly the people I have worked with over the years, the challenges we faced, the successes we achieved, and, importantly, the laughter and banter we have shared.
I will wish those who remain all the best for their future as they continue to weave the living tapestry that is the bank; as they continue to make their own impression on that mosaic…”
People have asked me, what will you do?
Well, TomO, the Crown Prince, has just started Year-11 at school and I’m looking forward to simply “being around” for him as he navigates his way through these two important remaining years of his high schooling.
And the future, how do I see that taking shape…?
My answer is simple, to spend it with the love of my life, Janet-Planet.
All who know this wonderfully kind person will attest, she is an absolute angel – I was so lucky to marry the girl next door thirty-three years ago.
Yes literally, next-door neighbours making eyes over the back-fence!
Together we plan to enjoy the next chapter in our lives and look forward to watching our TomO make his mark on the world as he paints his own picture on life’s canvas…
A romantic notion?
For sure it is, but Janet-Planet and I are romantics to the core and loving every minute of that, it has kept us young at heart…!
And who knows where those “railroad tracks” will takes us, but sometimes you just need to walk to the edge and not be afraid to peer over it.
We truly believe the world becomes your oyster when you are willing to put your fears aside and simply…
“Live in the moment”
After all, that is the only moment that we can ever truly live…
“Thanks for your friendship and the memories, Big Bad Baz…!”
Photo: Baz – The Landy, Paroo River, Outback Australia
In 1956 the British Government built an atomic bomb testing site in the South Australian outback with assistance from the Australian Government of the day…
We discovered these beautiful flowers growing at “ground zero”… Don’t they demonstrate the tenacity of nature by defiantly shining through in spite of the brutal treatment this wonderful landscape was subjected to?
You can read more about the area in our blog titled “An Atomic Blast (In the Outback)”.
Photos: Janet Planet – Maralinga, South Australia
Photo: Janet-Planet, along the Anne Beadell Highway, Outback Australia…
Could there be anything worse than being on the receiving end of a Mike Tyson punch?
Mind, you I suspect he is correct in the assessment he makes about plans and it got me thinking about the topic and how it might relate to remote area travel.
And can I confess upfront, I’m a “planning nutter”…
Many of you will be aware we spend plenty of time Out and About in the great Southern Land, Australia, exploring its natural beauty and wonders and much of this is done in very remote locations.
And if it isn’t the Outback we might be on the side of a mountain somewhere in the world…
So what about planning and what considerations should be taken into account?
Whilst the degree of planning may vary from one person to another, I am sure that almost all of us have one in mind, whether committed to memory or in written form…
Mind you, everything has risk attached to it, right?
The question is whether the risk can be managed to a level that is acceptable, firstly to you and secondly, broadly acceptable to those who may be called upon to provide assistance if something goes wrong.
And I use the word broadly because it is subjective to make a judgment on what others might find acceptable.
To get around this, I use the reasonable test and ask myself the question – would, on average, reasonable people find this a reasonable assumption to make?
In my view planning is one of the most important aspects of any trip and should be approached as a risk management exercise. I put planning at the top of my list…
Whilst in the stress free environment of your living room at home you can assess all aspects of the expedition without the pressure of things crumbling around you out in the field and for which you have not developed a response.
When it comes to remote travel in Australia I find many place a lot of focus on equipment, and vehicles, communications; how much food and water needs to be taken along with the required fuel.
And for sure these are all important aspects to any trip planning, falling under the heading of trip logistics.
But what about your health and fitness and that of your travelling companions?
Are you in suitable shape both mentally and physically for this specific expedition?
What about expected weather conditions and how will you respond to changing conditions?
At what point do you call the trip off – what decision criteria have you established for this both in the time prior to departure and once it is underway?
This is an important one; more than one person has died from the “press-on-regardless” mentality.
We’ve planned this trip and we’ll complete it at all costs…regardless!
How can this type of thought trap be avoided?
…Establish criteria to prevent it from happening!
No one wants to call off a trip once under way, but it might be the best decision despite the disappointment. Having guidelines decided and agreed upon in advance takes much of the angst away from this type of decision making it easier to arrive at if faced with a particular circumstance.
And what about a point of no return decision?
How many people consider this when travelling from point A to point B in remote and arid countryside, crossing the Simpson Desert, for example or other remote areas?
Prior to arriving at this equi-distance point consideration should be given to whether the destination can still be reached, or might it be wiser to return to the previous checkpoint whilst you still have sufficient fuel and supplies to do so.
There could be any number of reasons that might affect your decision; weather would be an important one for example. But there could be many others that should be assessed at this critical point before continuing on your journey.
Once the point of no return is crossed the decision has been made and you are now committed to it regardless, possibly with dire consequences if not well thought out, or even considered.
Planning for a trip begins and ends at home…
By the time you head down through the front-gate you should be confident in your endeavours and that you have thought out potential issues and how you will deal with them. By now you and your travelling companions should have committed to some form of template as to how you will respond to specific and non-specific situations.
Once under way the expedition progress should be evaluated against what you expected and anticipated in your planning – and if it doesn’t align consider the impact it will have on your objective and how you should response to these changes…
And for sure, there may be issues that crop up that you didn’t have a specific plan for, but you can still have a response for these situations along the lines of how it might affect the successful completion of the trip and what is the implication of continuing or not continuing?
Consideration should also be given to the well-being of the group or others that may be called upon for assistance especially if things are going as planned.
Problems often arise not because of a primary occurrence, but the impact it has as it cascades down through a number of scenarios and usually we receive plenty of opportunity to address these before they manifest into a much larger issue.
Have a plan, have a plan, and have a plan – that is my pre-trip mantra regardless of the undertaking or where in the world I am planning an adventure…!
It is one thing to be confronted with an issue and making the incorrect assessment or choice, but it is almost unforgiveable to not act and make any decision at all when something goes wrong…
…History is littered with the deaths of people who simply failed to act, having a plan is a good way to avoid being in such a predicament!
And hey, planning needn’t rob you of the spontaneity that travelling can bring, to the contrary, hopefully it enhances the experience by giving comfort that you have considered how you will respond to adverse and changing conditions as the trip progresses.
How much time do you put into trip planning and would yours withstand that…
“Punch in the face”…?
Photo, Baz – The Landy
Even with the advancement of GPS technology I still haven’t been able to give-up my paper maps and compass.
Mind you, “The Landy” our Toyota 79 Series Dual Cab is fitted with a VMS In-Dash GPS running Oziexplorer mapping software. Although, I find the VMS lacking in functionality as it only runs a “light” version of the full Oziexplorer program and the screen size challenges even those with 20/20 vision.
On an outback expedition to the Gibson and Little Sandy Deserts I was able to review a Panasonic Toughbook in action. A robust laptop, the Toughbook has its genesis in the US Military and could survive almost anything thrown at it, especially the bone-jarring corrugations found on many of our outback tracks.
Rest assured, this sort of toughness comes at a hefty price for a brand new unit, but on my return from the expedition I purchased a reconditioned unit from a Melbourne based dealer for a fraction of its new cost.
It can be turned into a “tablet” and I use it with a wireless keyboard and it has a solid-state hard-drive, which makes loading up extremely fast.
The challenge was where to locate the unit so it would be accessible to both driver and navigator in the front seat, but without comprising comfort and safety, especially if air-bags were activated.
I reviewed a variety of over-the-counter products, but concluded none were likely to survive the corrugations of our outback roads and a custom made mount was the only way to go.
I settled on working with the team at Industrial Evolution, a Sydney based company specialising in making computer mounts for police vehicles.
The owner, Brett Franzi, was pleased I made contact as he had not had access to the more recent batch of Toyota 76, 78, and 79 series vehicles and my request provided the opportunity for a design template to be made.
Why go with the in-dash mount?
It is centrally located and securely attached to the dashboard and whilst it does take up some real estate in the central dash location, the alternatives would have done so also.
Importantly, it meets ADR Standards and fitting is a straightforward process and is easily achieved by the most basic of handymen.
Mind you, the proof is always “in the pudding” and tests on all types of road surfaces covering in excess of 30,000 kilometres over the past couple of years has proven the Panasonic Toughbook, combined with the in-dash mount from Industrial Evolution, to be a great partnership…
A great solution that gets my vote, but hey, don’t leave home without a map and a basic compass – they have never been known to fail…!
The cost, well it will depend on what items you purchase, but don’t expect too much change out of $500.
Photos: Baz – The Landy
And whilst we both like to capture the “big picture” framing our wonderful red landscape against a never ending blue sky, I like to put the macro-lens on the camera and photograph…
With so many species of trees in the Australian Bush and Outback I have a never-ending supply of material to frame that special shot.
And I look forward to sharing many of them with you, Janet-Planet…!
Photograph: Janet-Planet, Anne Beadell Highway, Outback Australia
I photographed this wonderful little fella on a recent trip to Kangaroo Island, just off Australia’s southern coastline.
This small bird, affectionally referred to as a “Hoodie”, is on the endangered list with numbers estimated at around 200 on the island…
Photo: Baz – The Landy