Talk about Dinky-Di Aussie (Uniquely Australian)

Talk about Dinky-Di Aussie (Uniquely Australian)

This is a scene you will not see anywhere else in the world…

Outback Australia, you’ve gotta love it, hey!

photo: Baz – The Landy (Trilby Station, Australia)

Dig a hole and bury me (It doesn’t get any better than this!)

The Billabong, Trilby Station, Outback Australia
The Billabong, Trilby Station, Outback Australia

It is always with great anticipation heading down the driveway, waving good-bye to the urban surrounds we are so familiar with, but long to escape, steering “The Landy” towards the bush, the outback and today was no exception.

Janet had finished packing the food into “The Landy” the previous night and now there was nothing left to do but jump in and head-off.

Taking advantage of some additional time off over the easter break we decided to make a quick dash to the outback and a cattle station in western New South Wales, Trilby Station.

Joining us are our good friends Bob and Annette and “the boys”, David and Stephen.

We travel together often and as it would be a long drive ahead, 860 kilometres to be precise, we headed off in the pre-dawn hours, 2:30am on the dot, which is early even by my standards.

The drudgery of the freeway to the north-west, the escape route from suburbia, soon gave way to the foothills of the Blue Mountains and as we settled into the dawning moments of our sojourn we began to reflect on what it must have been like for the early explorers as they made their way westward, journeying on foot, horseback, and bullock dray.

These days the trek over the mountains is done mostly in the relative comfort of a modern vehicle, although Janet was heard to whisper, under hushed breathe, something about there being little difference between a bullock dray, and “The Landy”.

"The Landy" crossing the Darling River into the Australian Outback
“The Landy” crossing the Darling River into the Australian Outback

They say the journey is just as important as the destination, and we enjoyed the drive, passing many small communities we hadn’t seen for some time, arriving at Trilby Station, which is situated on one of Australia’s important river systems, the Darling River, in the early afternoon.

It didn’t take long to set up camp and the boys had the boat into the billabong and were off to explore.

The Boys out on the Billabong
The Boys out on the Billabong

Explore, isn’t that what life is all about, and fair dinkum, how good is the Australian Outback.

See you’se lot later…

Crikey – Where’s the snooze button (Turn that bloody thing off!)

Blue Winged Kookaburra, Bowthorne Station, Gulf Savannah Land

There is a lot to like about our island continent, Australia.

Our unique wildlife, kangaroos bounding across wide open plains, koalas sleeping in a lonely gum tree, and even a crocodile here and there…

Beaches that are counted among the best in the world, the brilliant red colour of the Outback set against a rich blue sky.

Mayne Ranges - North of Diamantina NP
Mayne Ranges – North of Diamantina NP

 But don’t worry, I’m not writing an advertorial for our local tourism authority, besides, I think Australia does a good job of selling itself…

No, what I am writing about is the world’s best alarm clock.

There is no need to set it, it comes in a range of colours and is mostly uniform in shape and size…

No snooze button on this model though…

It doesn’t make the usual mind-numbing BEEP…BEEP…BEEP, or gently awaken you to the sound of your favourite music.

But it will awaken you to the sounds of jovial laughter, perhaps leaving you to wonder whether you are still in that bar you were going to leave before the stroke of midnight…

The Shed
The Shed

As the first sign of light began to show in the eastern sky, I wiped the sleep from my eyes and headed for the shed, my predawn exercise workout beckoning.

And that alarm was still laughing, mocking me, seemingly taking pleasure that it had dislodged another from the dreamworld that we all try to hold onto for those extra few minutes.

Yep, natures alarm clock, Australia’s own Kookaburra – you’ve gotta love ‘em…

(The one pictured is a Blue-Winged Kookaburra photographed by Janet, my partner, on Bowthorne Station in the Gulf Savannah of Northern Australia.)

Rugged Beauty – In the Australian Bush

Rugged Beauty - In the Australian Bush

Far North-Queensland, my backyard when I was growing up

And strewth, not another soul in sight…

ps: I never grew up 😉

photo: Janet O’Malley

Parkour for Agility and Fitness (If you’re game enough)

Exercise forms part of the daily routine of a large part of the population and it can take many forms. 

Keeping it interesting, fun, and relevant is the challenge for most of us…

In our household, TomO spends a lot of his waking hours on our Olympic Standard trampoline and I usually get a bounce in most days as it is great for core strength and stability.

TomO - Urban Tramp
TomO – Urban Tramp
TomO -  In full flight
TomO – Just Hanging 

And Janet is out walking the MilO every day in between pilates classes and is our chief gardener, pushing the lawn mower over the yard regularly. This makes for a solid workout, especially given how fast our lawn grows during the warmer months.

Yes, I know lawn mowing is typically a man’s domain, but strewth, if I was to ever touch that lawn mower I’d be in strife, that’s for sure.

And of course, most days I can be found up in The Shed in the pre-dawn hours, or in the mountains and on the lake in my kayak most weekends.

The Shed
The Shed

But we are always on the lookout for new ways to exercise and of course, it has to be enjoyable.

Recently, TomO decided he wanted to give Parkour a go.

Par what I hear you say…

Don’t worry, I said the same thing!

It roughly translates to “the art of displacement” and like many training disciplines it was borne out of a military background.

The idea is that you move, jump, run, and tumble between and over obstacles of various shapes and sizes, even scaling walls.

We did a search to see if anyone was teaching Parkour in Sydney and found a group of young people at Jump Squad HQ teaching it on Sydney’s northern beaches, not too far from Narrabeen Lake where I train on my kayak.

Baz - kayaking Narrabeen Lake, Sydney, Australia
Baz – kayaking Narrabeen Lake, Sydney, Australia

This weekend TomO commenced his basic training and all I can say it was awesome, well TomO said that as well.  I was watching from the sidelines, but wishing I was in amongst it.

This is a discipline that teaches balance, agility, core strength, and judgement.  All the things I need to focus on as I head to the world’s highest mountains…

Balancing on top of a mountain with a severe drop either side with crampons on is quite an art! Self-preservation helps mind you…

Baz, Southern Alps, New Zealand
Baz, Southern Alps, New Zealand – All a balancing act

What really took my interest was an old round trampoline frame that they had the kids walking around for balance and agility.  I have been racking my brains as to how I could improve this skill myself, and there it was.

And we have a large trampoline in our backyard.

Now I might just look a little conspicuous and out of place joining TomO’s class, but I’ve already spoken to them about private lessons, and I might even be able to rope my partner in all things outdoors and adventurous, brother-in-law, Ray, into a session.

He’d be up for it no doubting…

So if you are looking for something to liven up your training you could always give Parkour a go…

And remember, if all else fails, just remain out of control and enjoy yourself…

We're always out of control - and loving it!
We’re always out of control – and loving it!
photos: Janet, Baz, and TomO…
YouTube: Jump Squad HQ, Sydney

Boar’s Head, Blue Mountains (And a dope on a rope)

Boar's Head, Blue Mountains, Australia

Boar’s Head is a beautiful part of the Blue Mountains situated very close to the villages of Katoomba and Leura.

And only a two-hour drive to the west of Sydney

You can abseil about 150 metres towards the valley floor and then climb back out, or abseil another 100 metres and walk out…

The wall to the right of the Boar’s Head, highlighted by the different colouring, is the climb out and there are a couple of different routes you can take. 

And crikey, how special is that view of “Narrow Neck” the plateau visible in the background…

Baz - Climbing out Boar's Head, Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz – Climbing out Boar’s Head, Blue Mountains, Australia

Cox’s River (Out and About in the Australian Bush)

Cox's River on the Six Foot Track

I could never tire of this part of the Blue Mountains.

This section is on the six-foot walking track, which winds its way from Katoomba to the Jenolan Caves.

I often do the 45 kilometre walk in a day, a long day given the mountainous terrain!

And I’ll be doing this walk frequently over the next few months, lucky me!

You’ve just got to love the Blue Mountains…

Date Palms in the Australian Outback (Dalhousie Ruins)

Date Palms in the Australian Outback
Dalhousie Ruins, Central Australia…

It is not unusal to find date palms in the remote Australian Outback, particularly in the centre of Australia.

Often planted by Afghan Camel Traders.

 The Australian Outback…If you can survive the flies, you’ll love it!

Cooper Creek, Outback Australia (An oasis in a barren land)

Cooper Creek, Outback Australia

The Cooper Creek winds its way through the Australian Outback after the rains from Northern Australia swell the creeks and river systems and move slowly down into the wonderful area they call the “Channel Country” providing a haven for water birds and bringing life to the surrounding country…

TomO, Janet and I travelled in our inflatable boat to this remote spot, sat back and enjoyed the solitude that the Australian Outback brings, and not another soul in sight…!

And lucky for us, Janet rustled up one of those great dampers of hers in the camp oven for us to devour, how good is that…

photo: Baz, The Landy

Click go the shears’ boys…click,click,click (The Woolshed)

The Woolshed - Currawinya, Outback Australia

Taken as the sun was dawning on a new day in the outback, the woolshed is located within Currawinya National Park, near Hungerford, in far western Queensland.

Nearby is the beautiful Ourimperee Water-Hole…

Click go the shears’ boys, click, click, click….

photo: Baz, The Landy

Talk about Cute (Characters you meet – Out and About)

Ta-Ta Lizard
Ta-Ta Lizard

Geez, how cute is this little bloke?

 It is affectionately known as the Ta-Ta Lizard due to its peculiar habit of waving its front leg before running away, oddly enough almost in an upright position.  The waving is possibly due to standing on hot surfaces, as they do reside in the northern and hotter parts of Australia.

Its actual name is the Gilbert’s Dragon, Amphibolurus Gilbert.

But that’s a bit like calling Baz – The Landy, Barry Thomas O’Malley, so let’s just stick with Ta-Ta Lizard…

And checkout the size of its tail and back feet!

We took this photograph whilst Out and About in one of our favourite outback places, Lawn Hill Gorge, a spectacular oasis in a barren land…

And okay, I get it, not everyone likes reptiles, and we’ve got plenty of them over here, many that are best avoided, but crikey, he is cute, don’t you think so?

Lawn Hill Gorge, Gulf Savannah, Australia
Lawn Hill Gorge, Gulf Savannah, Australia
photos by: Baz, Janet, and TomO

Blooming Fantastic (Wildflowers in the Outback)

Water Lilly's, Lawn Hill Gorge, Gulf Savvanah, Australia
Water Lilly’s, Lawn Hill Gorge, Gulf Savannah, Australia

Recently I’ve been sharing some of the photographs we have taken whilst travelling this fantastic country of ours, Australia.

 Whether it is a climber’s perspective of the mountains that I frequently get to view, or perhaps some of the dunes in that part of the country we call The Outback, Australia is a contrast of spectacular colour amongst what is often a harsh and barren land…

Coongie Lake, Outback Australia
Coongie Lake, Outback Australia

But there is a delicate beauty to be found, everywhere, you just need to look.

Wildflowers, Lawn Hill Gorge, Gulf Savvanh, Australia
Wildflowers, Lawn Hill Gorge, Gulf Savannah, Australia

Janet will spend countless hours searching for, observing, and photographing our wonderful wildflowers, of which there are countless numbers, she never tires of it, saying just one more, another five minutes and I’ll be finished…

 Yes, Janet, she does stand out like a beautiful wild flower, in full bloom!

Janet - she's wonderful!
Janet, a beautiful flower in full bloom
 Photos: Baz, Janet & TomO

Mayne Hotel Ruins – Australian Outback (The Cellar)

The Cellar - Mayne Hotel Ruins, Channel Country, Outback Australia
The Cellar – Mayne Hotel Ruins, Channel Country, Outback Australia

With no fridges novel ways had to be found to keep the beer cold!

Outback Australia, it will give you a thirst!

Pre-dawn Fun (Out and About, Northern Beaches, Sydney)

Wow, what a great morning down on the lake, on the water before the dawn and watching the sun rise was awesome!

How good are Saturday mornings!

Anyway, the sun is up now, so jump in and I’ll take you for a paddle around the lake…

Sunrise over Currawinya National Park (Outback Australia)

Sunset, Currawinya National Park, Outback Australia
Sunrise, Currawinya National Park, Outback Australia

Sunrise at Ourimperee Waterhole, Currawinya National Park, Outback Australia…

A beautiful part of the Australian Outback, not to be missed!

Jungle Life – Papua New Guinea (Alola Village)

Jungle Life - Papua New Guinea

Alola village, remotely located deep in the steamy jungle of Papua New Guinea.

The only way in is to walk for a couple of days…

Janet and I lived in Papua New Guinea for three years, working and exploring…

A wonderful country, full of wonderful people and teeming with spectacular wildlife.

No ordinary moments, no ordinary people, no ordinary lives!

photo: Baz

The Bread-Knife, Warrumbungles, Australia

The Bread-Knife, Warrumbungles, Australia

This is a wonderful place to visit, to sit and just listen to the sounds of the Australian bush

Where the wildlife abounds and the flora is spectacular. We took this photograph in the Warrumbungles on one of our trips…

The Australian Bush, it speaks for itself…

Out and About on the Lake (Talk about having fun)

Heron Class Sailboats - Narrabeen Lake, Sydney
Heron Class Sailboats – Narrabeen Lake, Sydney

It has been quite a week “Down under”.  

TomO was settling into his second week at high school, I was getting back into the swing of things at work and Janet was working on upcoming school functions and of course, looking after “her boys”…

 So when the weekend hit it was time to unwind and relax and we kicked it off with TomO’s first game of basketball, and after only two training sessions he was playing like a pro, well almost…

TomO's first basketball match
TomO’s first basketball match

 And with blue skies and perfect weather we headed to Narrabeen Lake on both Saturday and Sunday as it is our favoured weekend haunt when we are not in the mountains…

Baz - Narrabeen Lake, Northern Beaches, Sydney
Baz – Narrabeen Lake, Northern Beaches, Sydney

And what a day down on the lake, it was literally a sea of colour with plenty of paddle boards, kayaks, and with the wind getting up later, the wind surfers, and the delightful Heron Class sailboats that race most Sunday’s.

Windsurfing, Narrabeen Lake, Sydney, Australia
Windsurfing, Narrabeen Lake, Sydney, Australia

It was great to get reacquainted with my Epic Kayak, TomO was back on his stand up paddleboard, and Janet was catching up on all the gossip with friends who joined us.

Looks like mischief in the making
Looks like mischief in the making

 Life… you’ve got to love it, truly, no ordinary moments, no ordinary people, no ordinary moments, ever!

The Australian Dingo (In the outback)

The Australian Dingo

The Australian Dingo, at home in the Australian Outback

We took this photograph in the Channel Country, far Western Queensland.

You’ve just got to love the landscape, the flora and fauna, that makes the Australian Outback what it is!

Don’t use the “F” word – Failure is Success (If we learn from it)

The Buttress - Mt Aspiring
The Buttress – Mt Aspiring

January was such a whirlwind of fun, mountaineering in the Southern Alps of one of the best countries in the world, New Zealand.

 Of course, it wasn’t all mountaineering and there was plenty of family time doing some crazy things together.

 Now I do have this rather audacious plan to climb some of the world’s highest mountains, heaven forbid, Mt Everest does beckon, but of course even contemplating that is some time off just at the moment.

My next major expedition will be to Nepal in November of this year. It sounds so far away doesn’t it?

Baz - Pack-walk up Heaton's Gap
Baz – Pack-walk up Heaton’s Gap

I have much preparation to do ahead of it and I suspect time will fly past very quickly. I need to increase my fitness with plenty of long-distance pack walking, as well as hone my climbing and rope handling skills; after all as they say practice makes us perfect.

Baz - Boar's Head, Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz – Boar’s Head, Blue Mountains, Australia

And of course, climbing to altitudes in excess of 6,000 metres will require some new equipment, so plenty of gear reviews and shopping lie in the months ahead.

Shoosh, I might just not let on to Janet about that just yet!

But anyway, I’m starting to rabbit on a bit now, so I’ll get to my point…

Many people have asked about how the trip went and did I get to the summit of Mt Aspiring.

Mt Aspiring viewed from Bevan Col
Mt Aspiring viewed from Bevan Col

Unfortunately the answer was no. The weather conspired against us about halfway up and  we decided to turn back, to continue on would have been dangerous…

But none-the-less, it was a successful climb.

It would be easy to think of it as a failure…but I had a great smile on my face!

Not hard to smile in this spectacular place!
Not hard to smile in this spectacular place!

Failure is a word I’ve never been comfortable with and I’m sure it doesn’t sit well with many others. But for many, not achieving a goal you’ve set out to achieve often leads to despair, feelings of not succeeding – of failure.

 It can be deflating…

For me, not getting to the summit of Mt Aspiring was not a failure; in fact I found it a great learning experience.  Turning back involved taking account of many factors; of course the most important was weather, which was pretty much a no-brainer as the wind was raging in excess of 100 kilometres per hour over the summit.

Weather closing in
Weather closing in

Assessing the situation, making the correct decision at the appropriate time, and of course acting on it was an important lesson in human factors” especially as we stood on the mountain, exposed to the elements; to the increasing wind and sleet…

All too often it has been found that people have identified that a new course of action needs to be taken and whilst they’ve understood what it was they needed to do they’ve failed to implement the new plan until it was too late.

The experience highlighted the importance of being efficient and proficient whilst remaining safe, especially at a time when external factors were having an adverse affect on the undertaking.

Baz - upwards and onwards
Baz – upwards and onwards

A very important lesson, especially given my rather audacious plan of climbing high mountains!

So should we get rid of “failure” from our vocabulary?

No, I think it has a place.

After all, Janet did highlight to me the other day that I had failed to take out the garbage, and for sure it could count as a learning experience, but failure summed it up perfectly…

The garbage truck had just passed our home and wouldn’t be back for another week and those words “you failed a very simple task” are still ringing in my ears…

So next time you haven’t achieved your goal will you use the “F word?”

I know you won’t…  Just think of it has a learning experience on your way to success…

But mind you, if all else does fail,  just feel free to remain out of control and see what develops…

Baz and TomO - Just remain out of control...!
Baz and TomO – Just remain out of control…!

Jet-Boating on the Matukituki – Awesome Fun (Jump Aboard)

Whilst we were holidaying and climbing in New Zealand’s Southern Alps, we took time to skim across the Matukituki River with Wanaka River Journeys.

It was a great trip and as well as journeying the river we took a walk through a fantastic Beech Tree Forest and marveled at the many waterfalls and cold mountain streams.

Anyway, grab a life-vest and jump aboard…if you’re game!

Cabin Fever High on the Mountain – Shelter from the storm

Pioneer Hut, Fox Glacier, New Zealand
Pioneer Hut, Fox Glacier, New Zealand

It is often said that too much of a good thing, is not such a good thing.

 And after three weeks in the spectacular South Island of New Zealand, mountaineering, climbing, jet-boating, taking to the skies in a Tiger Moth, and leaping 100 metres into a canyon screaming at the top of my lungs, seemingly a good thing came to an abrupt end this week.

Baz traversing Mt Aurora
Baz traversing Mt Aurora

 It was back to work…

Yes I do work, although my colleagues have often said, with a wink, that at times there is too much day dreaming going on and not enough work.

 But putting that aside…

My usual daily routine starts around 4am each day up in the shed with a row, a weight session, or perhaps even a bit of both. Other days it is a walk with a 25 or 30-kilogram backpack for company.

But I must say it was a little tough getting motivated these past few days, not so much because of the early start, after all, I had a few alpine starts these past three weeks where you rise around 3am in the morning to ready for a day of climbing.

Jet-boating with Janet & TomO, New Zealand
Jet-boating with Janet & TomO, New Zealand

Initially I put it down to a change in routine, let’s face it, it is pretty easy to get out of bed for a day of climbing in the spectacular Southern Alps; the walk to the shed just didn’t cut it.

Maybe it was cabin fever I thought, after all “the shed” is about the size of some of the alpine huts.

Baz over Wanaka
Baz over Wanaka

Now let me say the alpine huts dotted throughout the alpine regions are basic, but comfortable and what you would expect of this type of shelter and accommodation.

Mind you, heating is limited to clothing and a warm sleeping bag.

Franz Joseph Glacier - Centennial Hut
Franz Joseph Glacier – Centennial Hut

And given there is one big refrigerator outside, keeping perishable food is no great problem, just bury it in the snow and hope the Keas’ don’t find it before you eat it. So you can actually eat very well, which is great given the mountains tend to give you a solid appetite.

Good food - Colin Todd Hutt
Good food – Colin Todd Hutt

But back to this cabin fever thing, the weather turned particularly bad, and I mean badass bad, during the week I was attempting to climb Mt Aspiring.

We had two quite reasonable days before it all went pear-shaped and the wind howled gusting at up to 180 kilometres an hour at times, sleet, snow and rain, pounded Colin Todd Hutt relentlessly for almost three days and nights.

Practicing rope rescue techniques
Practicing rope rescue techniques

The lightening was striking all around the hut, but its flashes struck silently because you couldn’t hear the thunder over the roar of the wind.

We did keep ourselves occupied during the storm with plenty of knot tying, practicing rescue techniques, cups of sweet tea, and book reading tucked up in a warm down sleeping bag.

Relaxing during the storm, Colin Todd Hut
Relaxing during the storm, Colin Todd Hut

 But there was some floor pacing as well…

Actually, it was a great experience, if you had to have it, as it demonstrated what nature will toss at you in the mountains, a good lesson in patience.

I’ve just given myself a bit of a slap…

 C’mon Baz, you’re not suffering cabin fever, you love the shed, and after all it is a sanctuary, the font of all knowledge and some tall tales.

The Shed - Font of all knowledge
The Shed – Font of all knowledge

And besides you have plenty of training ahead of that climbing you are going to do in Nepal later this year.

Best you get reacquainted with the shed sooner, rather than later…

Hey, and remember, if all else fails, remain out of control and see what develops…

Baz climbing Sweet Dreams, Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz climbing Sweet Dreams, Blue Mountains, Australia

Barcoo River, Outback Australia

Barcoo River, Outback Australia

Late afternoon on the Barcoo River, Welford National Park, Queensland, Australia.

I’ve been looking back over some photographs taken on our four-wheel drive touring trips to the Australian Outback.

The Australian Outback, you’ve got to love it!

Strewth – You wouldn’t be dead for quids (Out on the Lake)

Baz - Narrabeen Lake, Sydney
Baz – Narrabeen Lake, Sydney

With less than one week to go before I head off to climb in New Zealand I spent Saturday morning preparing my gear and getting it all packed away.

 It is hard to imagine that most of it will find its way into a 65-litre backpack.

Snow shoes, crampons, my best pair of Italian Leather boots, climbing hardware in the form of carabineers, devices and ropes, and plenty of thermals to keep warm up on the glacier and in the mountains…

Climbing gear
Climbing gear

But once that was out of the way we headed straight for Narrabeen Lake on Sydney’s northern beach’s, our second home, for a paddle with long-time paddling partner, Bob.

Bob, Narrabeen Lake, Sydney
Bob, Narrabeen Lake, Sydney

Janet, Annette, Bob’s partner, and Debbie, my sister chatted on the lake’s edge, while the younger “boys” were out on the lake in various watercraft.

TomO even had a paddle in one of the bigger boats, which resulted in a couple of “swims” for him!

TomO paddling "The Fenn"
TomO paddling “The Fenn”
TomO "Swims"
TomO “Swims”

And crikey, how good is the sun setting over the lake – you wouldn’t want to be dead for quids!

Dope on a Rope (An ongoing saga of a mountaineering journey)

Jamison Valley & the Three Sisters, Katoomba
Jamison Valley and The Three Sisters, Katoomba, Australia

Yesterday promised so much and I can happily say, it delivered.

 I have been itching to get out and about in the mountains since returning from my climb in New Zealand about one month ago and there is little that will beat a beautiful spring day in the mountains.

 I packed The Landy and was on the road by 7am heading to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, about a 90 minute drive to the west of Sydney.

And the Blue Mountains is a great adventure playground. The area is an internationally recognised World Heritage Area where you can bush walk, mountain bike, abseil, climb and canyon in any number of spectacular locations.

As part of my mountaineering training I want to do plenty of multi-pitch abseiling to ensure I can do it quickly, safely, and with a high level of proficiency.

Malatia Wall, Katoomba
Malatia Wall, Katoomba

Our choice was Malatia Wall, which is not too far from the main street of Katoomba and close to the scenic railway, a very popular tourist destination.

The plan was to abseil into the Jamison Valley and walk back out via the Furber Stairs, a short, but very spectacular bush-walk which starts at the base of the scenic railway.

Bushwalking Katoomba
Katoomba Falls, Blue Mountains

The descent is around 230 metres in total requiring five abseils on two 60-metre ropes. On average each abseil was around 40-50 metres. On the first pitch I just had to stop on the wall and take in the view over the Jamison Valley and The Three Sisters. In the valley below cockatoos and lorikeets flew amongst the tall standing trees.

Overlooking the Three Sisters, Katomba
Malatia Wall, Multi-pitch Abseil
Three Sisters
Malatia Wall over looking the Jamison Valley

I marveled at the view as I hung in my harness.

 And if everything goes to plan I’ll be back up in the mountains next weekend to multi-pitch off of Boar’s Head, with a climb back out…

 And speaking of a Dope on a Rope, if the hat fits wear it I say – I forgot to charge my Go-Pro battery, so I had limited footage!

A Kayaking encounter with a Crocodile – (I survived the deadly Puk-Puk)

It isn’t too often that you get to have one up on a crocodile and live to recount the experience, let’s face it, they are one of nature’s most efficient hunters.

And it will always be the one that you didn’t see that will get you…

 A few years ago, Janet, my partner, and I lived in Papua New Guinea, an independent Nation just to the north of Australia. During our time there we tried to experience much that the country has to offer, and we travelled as much as we could.

Each day I paddled the coastline on my surf ski, a sit-on-top kayak measuring around 6 metres in length.  At the time there were no other craft like mine in this area, if not the country, and it always caught the interest of the villagers’. It was sleek and glided effortlessly through the water…

There was much to explore and the local villages I passed were always friendly and welcoming.

The tropical waters of the Papuan Coast are full of marine life, large stingrays, and majestic turtles, some of the most colourful reef fish you will ever see and of course sharks of many varieties.

I’m pleased to be able to say that the most common sharks I encountered where the black tip reef sharks which are mostly harmless if left alone. And I was often told they are well fed… Just on what and how often seemingly was an unanswered question.

Of course, the tropical waters are also home to the more menacing and much larger tiger shark.

From a hill top vantage point near Port Moresby, the capital city, I once observed the largest tiger shark I have ever seen.

It was following a pod of dolphins heading towards Local Island, which is situated about 3-kilometres offshore from the local beach, Ela beach.

We lived within a stone’s throw of this beach and it was a paddle I did regularly and after this encounter I was left wondering how many times I may have been stalked as I crossed to the island.

Papua New Guinea is also home to the saltwater crocodile, or Puk-Puk as it is known in the local language. I was always alert for the possibility of one of these creatures being present in the waterways I paddled. Realistically, I’m not sure what I would have done if I encountered one, and it is unlikely there would ever have been any forewarning before encountering the “death roll”.

The sight of local villagers’ fishing in the water from the shore was always a comforting sign, as they are also alert for the Puk-Puk’s presence. And normally there are telltale signs they may be present.

Recently, a friend and I were discussing paddling in Papua New Guinea and an encounter I did have with one of these creatures.

It was in the mountains about 40 kilometres from Port Moresby at a place not to far from the start of the Kokoda Trail, a place immortalised in Australian Military history.

I had decided to take my kayak into the mountains for a paddle down one of the rivers just for a change to the coastal paddling I was more accustomed to. During a two-hour paddle I was rewarded with magnificent scenery and a couple of friendly villages along the way.

I had Janet drop me off and I was to meet her at the Kokoda Trail Motel, a small pub, after negotiating my way along the river. I was a little nervous at first and any bump underneath the kayak left me wondering if these were to be my final moments before the jaws of one of these pre-historic creatures crushed the kayak, or worse!

There was an element of excitement about it…

As I made my way with the flow of the river I was observing the muddy banks for any telltale signs of a slide. Places where a crocodile may have slipped into the water from its resting point.

Crikey, in an instant my heart skipped a beat…

There was no doubting what I saw heading my way.

Isn’t it funny how sometimes every thing around you can go into slow motion?

Strewth, this was a moment suspended in time.

Was it to be my one and only encounter with a crocodile?

The final scorecard reading, Puk-Puk, one; Baz, nil…

I’m pleased to say it wasn’t…

Upon sighting my arrival on the banks of the river beside the motel, Janet ordered me a Puk-Puk steak for lunch and it was heading my way, suitably seasoned, and on a plate…

And to this day, the sight of Janet always makes my heart skip a beat!

I had many more visits to the mountains where I enjoyed a paddle, a Puk-Puk steak, and a couple of ice-cold beers with Janet…

And if you have never tried Puk-Puk, do yourself a favour, it is delicious; just make sure it is on a plate…

Here’s a recipe, just in case you’re tempted…

Neighbour’s – Love them or hate them (Just don’t mess with this one)

Ever had a next door neighbour that you wish would just go away? You’ll know the ones I’m talking about, loud, unruly, parties until all hours, beer bottles chiming to the sounds of another cheers! Mind you, it almost sounds fun when put it that way, but it does wear thin after a while.

 And then there are the silent ones, no noise, no parties, pretty much keep to themselves, but shikes, they sure can give you the creeps.

Strewth, we’ve had our fair share of them over the years, but we are lucky to have great neighbours all around us these days!

But I’ll share a yarn about one neighbour that we had not so long ago.

We were out touring in Far North-Queensland, FNQ (pronounced ef-fen-Q), up in the Gulf Savannah Country where Janet, my partner, has her roots.  Mott’s are still grazing sheep and cattle in that region to this day, and for me, growing up in Townsville, this region was my backyard.

Over the past few years we have made the 7,000 kilometre round-trip to one of our most favourite spots in the Australian bush, Lawn Hill Gorge.

Now let me tell you, this is one heck of a beautiful spot that we first visited back in the 1990s. It was literally a flying visit in an aircraft we owned, a Piper Arrow, call sign Foxtrot-Tango-Hotel. This was before the little tacka, TomO  came along, and we flew it extensively over the Australian outback before selling it some years back.

These days we enjoy the drive north through the outback in The Landy just as much as we did flying over it.

The Aussie Outback, it’s a great place to just stand still and take it all in, a place where the barren land and ochre red soil meets the deep blue of the never-ending sky…

Anyway…

Last year when we were up there we had no problem securing a great spot beside the creek, which surprised us as there were a few others around at Adel’s Grove, a small tourist resort that caters for travellers just nearby to the main gorge.

It was our neighbour, a magnificent Olive Python that measured about 5 metres in length.  A beautiful specimen it was. Apparently, only known to eat small children…

Just kiddin’…

It had taken up residence just on the bank where we had set up camp.  These are not an aggressive snake, despite their size, and not venomous. And we have our fair share of those venomous ones.

Crikey, we’ve got a bagful of the world’s most deadly snakes, and none of those “rattling” things that they have elsewhere, just hard-core mean and downright dangerous ones!

Okay, fair’s fair, the North American rattle snake does make it into the top ten…I don’t want to turn this into a “mine’s bigger than your’s thing”

Most passing by our camp were totally oblivious to it being there, many who saw it thought they were about to be eaten alive, others were curious at a seemingly chance encounter with something so wonderful.

Late in the day, as the sun drifted low into the western horizon and shadows started to cast long, it would move on, returning first thing the next morning to take up its position once again.

Yep, neighbours, they come in all shapes and sizes, some you love to bits, others you’d be happy to see the back of, but for sure, we’d be happy to have this bloke as our neighbour anytime – best “guard dog” we’ve ever had…

Ps. For those who might be wondering, Janet loved it, she was the photographer. Um, I must’ve been busy with something…