A day in the Australian bush – Scottsdale Reserve

Bush Heritage Australia

Last week we spent a few days at a Bush Heritage Australia conservation property, Scottsdale Reserve, which is located approximately 70-kilometres south of Canberra on the Monaro Highway.

And the weather was much warmer than the last time Baz was there in August when temperatures plummeted to minus 10 degrees.  This time around the days were warm and the nights balmy…

Our assigned task was weed control, spraying fields of St John’s Wort that are now starting to flower. However, sporadic rain showers slowed this job down.

Mind you rain is most welcome on Scottsdale as it has been in drought for sometime.

Conservation

So while Baz was out in the Polaris spraying weeds, I got to have a Master-class in propagating two types of Eucalyptus trees (Eucalyptus Bridge Siana and forgot the other one…oops)!

The propagation process entails looking under a microscope to see how many seeds are mixed in with the chaff, which in turn determines how big a scoop of seeds/chaff go into the potting tray.

I had no idea the seeds would be that microscopic, so it was a very small scoop…!

The trees will be planted on the property sometime over the next couple of years…

Late in the day, just around dusk, we made our way to a beautiful spot on the Murrumbidgee River, which the property fronts, to see if we could spot a Platypus, or two, but to no avail on this occasion, they didn’t want to come out and play. But we saw turtles, water rats and some big Murray Cod!

A great and fun time to spend a few days helping out the environment!

And hey, you can read some more about the work Bush Heritage Australia does, here.

Photos: Janet-Planet & Baz – The Landy, in Australia’s Alpine Region…

Janet-Planet

 

Achievement and Happiness…

Clairview, Queensland

 

“Achievement leads nowhere; makes no difference at all…

Just be happy now, release your struggle, let go of your mind, throw away your concerns and relax into the world.

No need to resist life, open your eyes and see that you are far more than you think,

You are already free…!”

I’ve been reflecting on this statement as I head to North Queensland, especially given there has been some endless driving following the white line on the bitumen road, affording plenty of “thinking time”.

And yes, for sure, I will get off the bitumen eventually and back out into the bush, the outback and some “red dusty roads”.

Mind you, it is quite pleasant travelling the coastal route and I’ve managed to spend time sitting back with a book gazing out across the water as I make my way towards Hinchinbrook Island for a few days of hiking, followed by a trip to Cape Melville, halfway up to the tip of Cape York.

Back to that statement though…

As many will recall, I recently “graduated from work” having decided there was more to life than joining the traffic jam on my way to work, only to do the same thing some (too many) hours later to get home.

Did it truly make me happy?

Perhaps the security of a weekly pay-cheque provides an illusion of happiness, but now that I have let that go and started to focus on “living in the moment” I’ve discovered far greater riches than a financial outcome can ever provide.

Yep, I have concluded that there is far more to life than work…

And hey, let me tell you Janet-Planet and I will be putting the “more to life than work” theory to the test as much as we possibly can.

Perhaps some will disagree with the proposition achievement leads nowhere; makes no difference at all, but as we all take our last breathe in this lifetime, we’ll all be equal, what we’ve achieved will mean little at that point – but being happy to that last moment will be priceless.

Well, at least that is my take on it, but whatever your view, just be happy now – strewth, that is my motto these days…!

Photo: Baz – The Landy, on the beach at Clairview, Queensland.

Ps: Yes, the last you heard from me I was in England, but I am back travelling the country I love. And don’t be alarmed if you don’t hear from me from time-to-time, the beauty of where I am travelling to be is no communications!

Miss Redhead – My burning desire…

Red heads

The Australian Outback, an ancient land where the red-parched soil is touched by an endless blue sky and where confetti flutters on the breeze.

 

Hang-on, since when was confetti part of our outback landscape…?

On a recent foray into the outback we thought we were travelling behind a bus full of Japanese newly-weds…

You know, the ones you see down at the Historic Rocks precinct in Sydney on a Saturday morning.

Lots of smiling faces, nodding as only the Japanese can in their most polite way, married in large groups on the steps of Mrs Macquarie’s Chair overlooking the magnificent Sydney Harbour, and more confetti than you could poke-a-stick at.

Strewth, and just to be clear, lest I be accused of casting a racial slur…

I love the Japanese people.

What would lunchtime be without sashimi – Nikon camera’s weren’t the only thing they shared with the world.  And hey, I’m not suggesting there were busloads of them in the outback throwing confetti everywhere either.

I was speaking metaphorically…(okay?)

But crikey – somebody must have been.

There was so much of it you could be forgiven for thinking that it must have come from a mass wedding.

Now I get it, it isn’t the most popular dinner party topic, but thanks to the hilarious 2006 movie “Kenny” we have at least got a little more comfortable discussing the issue around the camp fire these days.

And let’s not beat around the bush here, we are talking about “Poo Tickets”

Crikey, I thought everyone has watched that movie?

Toilet paper, you dill…!

Oh, stop cringing and shuffling in your seat…

And spare us the protest, Kenny dispelled many of those urban myths about…

Mine doesn’t smell and I always clean the bowel…

As a kid I used to visit my grandmother’s home in a small country town and she had an outhouse down the backyard. Anyone from the bush will know what an outhouse is and without doubt they’ve been the butt of many jokes for time eternity.

In Nan’s outhouse there was always a small box of matches sitting behind the door and she insisted one be lit each and every time you arose from the throne!

I thought this was normal and I don’t recall anyone ever complaining about the need to do it, it was just part of the routine…

Although, Uncle Bluey did complain about it once, but that was when my cousin accidently set alight to his prized Playboy Mag he had tucked down the back of the seat that us kids never knew about.

And mum’s still the word on that one..!

So why a box of matches?

Well nothing beats a freshly lit match to kill all other lingering smells …

Come-on,  you’re not still cringing, surely?

Needless to say, caution should always be exercised when playing with matches and there was the time Bluey sent the outhouse door over the back fence after a brekkie of Heinz baked beans…(thank God for flushing toilet’s these days, hey)

I’m not sure what was funniest, Bluey sitting there in his navy singlet with his Y-Fronts around his ankles, or the dunny door in the neighbour’s mango tree.

He had that “eyes rolled-up, embarrassed” look that dogs get when your eyes meet as they do their business.

Dog owners will know what I mean…

But, here is the thing, we’ve always carried a little box of redheads when we are Out and About.

In one bold strike you fill the air with the smell of a freshly burning match after a squat, removing the need to protest yours doesn’t smell, and importantly, you can use it to burn your poo tickets…

So, for those of you that head bush please take “Miss Redhead” with you.  

She may not ignite your passion, but in the least, she will put a flame to your “poo tickets” and spare our wonderful country the indignity of the unwanted and unsightly “confetti” that has increasingly become part of the landscape…

Baz – The Landy

Ps: Seriously, this is a major problem these days!

Adventure – On a retiree’s budget…

Walking

Hey, just a week or so ago I hung-up my business suit following a “graduation from work”.

And one of the reasons for doing so was that work was just getting in the way of having fun and adventure – something had to give, right?

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

Heat wave hits Australia (How to survive…)

Keep the fluids up…

Okay, yes Janet-Planet, I will put up the disclaimer

…”Please drink responsibly”

Crikey!

Photos: Baz – The Landy, and Janet-Planet, Out and About toasting Australia!

Breakfast, in the Australian Bush…

Campfire cooking

An egg poached in an orange over a coal fire with bacon on the side. Seriously, it’s gotta be the best thing since sliced bread, hey!

Photo: Baz – The Landy

Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun!

 

The Camp Fire

One of the best things about camping is sitting around the fire cooking camp food…

And with a long-weekend on offer we are heading bush to escape the bounds of modern urban living, well for 48-hours at least!

On our travels we always cook on an open fire using our cast-iron camp oven. What better way is there to bring everyone together, hey?

Rest assured there is no shortage of laughter and friendly banter as we raise a glass to friendship, the setting sun projecting a montage of ever changing colour on a ruggedly beautiful landscape…

And what better way to greet the warming rays of the sun as it reaches out on a brisk spring morning than devouring a batch of scones with lashings of butter and jam, expertly prepared and cooked by my wonderful partner, Janet…

Camp food and fun in the bush with family and friends, you’ve gotta love it…hey?

Photos: Baz – The Landy

An Orange with my Egg (Please)

 

Campfire cooking

A great part of being Out and About in this great southern land of ours is the opportunity it gives to prepare food over an open fire – campfire cooking.

 Mind you, I’m no gourmet cook, far from it and besides, Janet-Planet cooks up the best food ever.

Um, yes, you’re right, my waistline is starting to confirm that…

But let me say, there is nothing better than sitting around a fire on a lazy Sunday morning, the bacon sizzling away in the pan, coals glowing as the aroma of the smoked hickory bacon wafts on a warm and gentle breeze…

And for sure, I’m hearing ya – every morning is a lazy one in the Australian Outback…right?

By-the-way, I’ll have my eggs poached in an orange thanks!

What?

Get out of here…you’ve never tried it?

Tell you what, scoop out an orange, crack an egg into it and sit back, relax, it’ll be cooked soon enough – you’ll never look back.

Orange poached egg, its got to be the best thing since sliced bread!

Photo: Baz – The Landy

High Altitude Climbing and Acute Mountain Sickness

everest-top

 I have been researching the impact that high altitude climbing will have on my body, what I can expect, what I can do to assist my body’s ability to cope.

And importantly, to be able to recognise the onset of Acute Mountain Sickness in its more serious forms.

Acute Mountain Sickness, AMS as it is often referred to, is the effect the declining number of molecules of oxygen in the atmosphere has on our body as we ascend in altitude. It can range from a mild illness, to the more severe life-threatening forms of the illness, such as High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).

The latter two conditions require immediate attention and descent from altitude otherwise death is the most likely outcome.

I’m not intending to go into a great discussion on either, nor am I qualified to do so, but as part of my journey “To Climb a Mountain” I want to gain a better understanding of both conditions.

High altitude is defined as 5,000 to 11,500 feet, very high altitude 11,500 to 18,000, and extreme altitude as 18,000 feet and above.  At extreme altitudes physiologic function will outstrip  acclimatisation eventually.

My reading has taken me across a wide variety of topics, but the one that caught my attention was the connection between muscle and the requirement to fuel our muscles with oxygen when under exertion.

Over the years I have trained as a power-lifter for strength purposes and I have achieved results I am happy with.  As a consequence I have grown muscularly and currently weigh-in around the 95 kilogram mark.  This has given me a good power-for-weight ratio and has enhanced my speed on the kayak over the short to mid sprint distances.

Power-lifting has helped me develop strong legs, especially my quads through squatting, and dead-lifting.

Will this muscle help, or hinder me on the mountain as I trudge up the side of an 8,000 metre peak?

When exercising, the body, or more specifically the contracting muscles have an increased need for oxygen and this is usually achieved by a higher blood flow to these muscles.

And therein lies the dilemma as I see it.

Due to the less dense air at altitude the number of oxygen molecules for any given mass of air will drop. Consequently, mental and physical performance will decline, and the larger the muscles, the larger the requirement for oxygen to prevent muscular fatigue…

So what can I do?

There is not a lot that you can do to prepare for the effect of AMS, some people will adapt and perform better at altitude than others and this is hard to predict from one individual to another.

What I can do is decrease my muscle mass, and whilst that will mean a decrease in overall strength I can try and maintain the power for weight ratio balance.

The upshot of all this is that ahead of my expedition to Nepal in April I will deliberately take around 10-12 kilograms out of my frame…

The climbs in Nepal will be done without the aid of supplemental oxygen.

I won’t be changing my training routine greatly, I will maintain some weight training, rowing and kayaking, and importantly, a daily walk of around 10-kilometres with a 25-kilogram backpack at silly o’clock in the morning (that is 4:00am).

The best way to control weight change, either gaining, or losing, is via your diet and that starts in the  kitchen.

Baz – The Landy (In my home gym in the “Shed”)

 

Aussie Beach Bum…at play

Off to the beach for a paddle.

And there’ll be plenty of “sizzling” bodies down there today with the temperature pushing over 40 degrees celcius in the Harbour City…

Seeya! 😉

(Big Bad) Baz – The Landy

Feed the Rat (It’s gnawing away)

 

Baz - The Landy, Southern Alps, New Zealand
Baz – The Landy, Southern Alps, New Zealand

Since a young  age I have been fascinated by the majestic beauty of mountains, of the peaks that poke through the clouds reaching ever higher into a deep blue sky.

Growing up in Australia has had mountaineering limitations given our highest is Mt Kosciuszko, a mere 2,228 metres high.

So I contented myself with walking through and over the hills and mountains, developing a love of the Australian Bush, the magnificent Australian Bush…

Like an unsatisfied lover, in recent years I started to look further afield with a desire to experience more from my affair with the mountains…

Three years ago I commenced training designed to assist and enable me to contemplate  climbing an 8,000 metre peak in the Himalayan Mountain Range.  The mountain of choice Cho Oyu borders Tibet and Nepal and is the world’s sixth highest mountain peak and possibly the most accessible of the world’s fourteen 8,000 metre peaks.

The fun is in the journey, right?

I have had some great times developing my rope skills climbing in the Blue Mountains not far from Sydney as well as undertaking an extreme fitness regime.

And talk about a good laugh here and there, strewth, I can’t even tie my shoelaces properly (it’s a long story) but here I am tying myself off on vertical rock-faces!

 

Unfortunately injuries over the past year or more proved to be a significant setback and at times had me questioning whether I should continue!  But the injuries are now behind me and a solid fitness regime is under way to get me on track!

My head is back in the right place, the switch has been flicked once again…

And crikey, the “rat” is gnawing away and it needs to be fed – that’s a good sign, for me anyway, as Janet rolls her eyes with a wry smile breaking through ever so slyly.

Janet knows the rat well, it has led us on many wonderful adventures…

And how good is New Zealand’s Southern Alps playground – truly a mountaineer’s playground.

After a reasonably steep multi-pitch climb I crossed this snow covered Arête in the cover photo on the way to the summit of Auroa.

Whenever I view this photograph it reminds me that “standing back from the edge is safe, but the view is never as good” – it reminds me what I love so much about the mountains, it inspires me to pursue my goal…

So, one step at a time, let’s do this together!

Baz – The Landy

Calling all Aussie Beach Bums

You’ve just got to love this time of the year in Australia, winter is well and truly past, the warmth of an Australian fast summer approaching…

And some of the best water-ways and beaches in the world…

I’m heading down to one of my favourite spots on Sydney’s northern beaches, Narrabeen Lake, with Janet and TomO.

The lake opens to the ocean at north Narrabeen, which has one of the best surf breaks on the east coast of Australia.

It is a tidal saltwater lake and a haven for all kinds of water birds.

 Hey sleepy-head get out of bed and jump on, I’ll take you around the lake on my Epic V10 – it goes fast just sitting there!

Crikey, how good are lazy Sunday mornings down under!

Baz…

 

Standing back from the edge is safe (But the view is never as good)

 

Baz - The Landy, Southern Alps, New Zealand
Baz – The Landy, Southern Alps, New Zealand

After a reasonably steep multi-pitch climb I crossed this snow covered Arête on the way to the summit of Auroa Peak in New Zealand’s Southern Alps.

What a great playground, hey?

Baz – The Landy

Beware of Trojan Horses (“The Kiwi” strikes again)

Heatons Gap, AustraliaI have a couple of things to say about this photo.

Firstly, it is Heatons Gap in the Watagan Mountains to the north of Sydney. It starts off steep and then it really gets steep. This photograph of me was taken on a training run with a backpack loaded with a 20-kilo sand bag.

Yeah I know it seemed like a good idea down in the car park, hindsight is a marvellous thing…

Secondly, if you are wondering what I’m saying, I’ll give you the sanitized version – if I ever catch up to “The Kiwi” he’ll be plucked…

“The Kiwi” is my brother-in-law.

The Kiwi - I often wondered how he arrived "Across the Ditch"
The Kiwi – I’ve often wondered how he arrived “Across the Ditch”
Baz - Mountain Run, Coast to Coast Race, New Zealand
Baz – Mountain Run, Coast to Coast Race, New Zealand

Yeah that’s right, the bloke that had me signed up for a run, cycle, and kayak, from the West Coast of New Zealand to the East Coast in less than 24 hours, a couple of years back…

Now I will admit there was beer involved in the lead-up to being “pressed ganged” by “The Kiwi” to the start line on that occasion. Come to think about it my skydiving career had its genesis in the bottom of a beer glass in the early 1980s during a session with Bluey and the boys at the Breakfast Creek hotel in Brisbane.

Skydiving at Picton, Australia
Skydiving at Picton, Australia

Yes, I heard you saying there’s a bit of a pattern developing here…

But hey, in my defence, I was young and stupid back then.

At least I can say that I have moved forward over the years, now I’m only stupid!

I didn’t know “The Kiwi” back then, he was too busy jumping off cliffs with a parachute on his back, paragliding around New Zealand’s north island.

Anyway, “The Kiwi” calls me up a little while back…

“Baz, I’m turning 50-years young on 13 September and I thought we could have a few beers”.

Now you’ve got to be very cautious of Kiwi’s offering to buy you a beer, especially if you’re an Aussie. It’s a long story, but there was an under-arm bowling incident in a cricket game way back in 1981 from which they cannot move on. So if they are being nice, there is bound to be a catch, if you’ll pardon the pun…

“What is the catch”, I asked…

“None”, he said, “but I thought we might walk to the pub”.

“That’s sounds sensible”

Alarm bells were ringing inside my head, after all this is months away, but his shout, so why not?

“Walk” I said,

“We’ll, walk and run, after all the quicker we get there the more time we get before the girls come looking for us”.

Um, that would be Leah and Janet.

Leah and Janet (You boy's don't know how lucky you are!)
Leah and Janet (You boy’s don’t know how lucky you are!)

Strewth, I’m thinking “The Kiwi” is actually talking sense for a change!

“Yep, sign me up” I said without further delay…

Well sign me up he did…

Today our entries for the Great North Walk 100, a 100-kilometre run through the Australian bush on September 13, up and down a mountain range that will take us around 18-20 hours to complete, was accepted.

Fortunately we are no strangers to the area and we’ll be doing a training run up Heatons Gap this weekend, the first of many…

Strewth, I’m starting to feel thirsty just thinking about it…

Wish us luck; we’ll need it that’s for sure!

Anyway, the moral of the story (if there needs to be one) is if you are going to drink beer with a Kiwi, The Kiwi, then accept all may not be what it seems – so just gulp it down and enjoy the experience!

 Footnote (for the uninitiated):

“Kiwi” is the name given to a small flightless bird that is native to New Zealand, and New Zealander’s are usually referred to as Kiwi’s…

And where is New Zealand I hear you ask?

Well, it is not too far across “The Ditch” – The Tasman Sea; just think of it as an outpost of Sydney’s Bondi Beach! 😉

Those who don’t think it can be done (shouldn’t bother the person doing it)

 DSCN0576“But there are men for whom the unattainable has a special attraction. Usually they are not experts: their ambitions and fantasies are strong enough to brush aside the doubts which more cautious men might have.” Walt Unsworth.

Walt must have had me in mind when he penned that!

I’m gearing back up, slowly but surely and aiming for a Himalayan trip to climb three 6,000 metre peaks in the not too distant future

And of course, Cho Oyu, the world’s sixth highest and one of fourteen 8,000 metre peaks, still beckons…

DSCN0282

This has been my goal for sometime and you might be left wondering when is Baz going to get around to doing it…and I must say I’m a bit behind schedule after the injuries and personal setbacks of the past twelve months – but I’m getting it back on track, slowly, but surely!

In the meantime I’ll be travelling in Australia’s wonderful outback in June and July, including a crossing of Australia’s Great Victoria Desert and a visit to the site of the Atomic Bomb testing from the 1950s– so be sure to stay in touch!

Welford NP Sand Dune 1

And crikey, just remember, if all else fails, remain out of control and see what develops…

Photos: Baz, The Landy, and Janet Planet

Living the Dream (You have imagined)

Southern Alps, New Zealand

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined…”

Henry David Thoreau

Sound advice Henry!

Photo: Baz, Climbing on Fox Glacier, Southern Alps, New Zealand

Happy Australia Day (However you celebrate it)

I kicked-off the day with a 20-kilometre row and workout up in the shed to the sounds of Siouxsie and the Banshees and loving it!

Crikey, you just got to love Australia, hey!

Enjoy the day…

Big Bad Baz 😉