A Termite Mound – You’re kidding me?

 

Strewth, how big is that termite mound, hey, and what about the spectacular colours of our parched southern land…!

Photo: Baz – The Landy, Plenty Highway, Outback 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

Everyone has a plan (Until they get punched in the face)

Outback Australia

Rest assured I am not about to start throwing punches, but I came across this quote recently.

And it is quite sobering, especially given it was from Mike Tyson.

Remember Mike?

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

Seasons Greetings from the Australian Outback

Western Deserts

 Crikey, it is Christmas day in Australia…

Janet, TomO and I would like to wish all our friends around the world a happy festive season however you may celebrate it.

And if it isn’t something you usually celebrate, that’s okay, just give your family and friends a big hug, or something like that and have a little sing-a-long with us anyway…

Jingle Bells – The Aussie Way

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Shed…

The Shed…a place where tall stories can be told, a few laughs had, where you can grab a “coldie” out of the fridge to share with mates and if you are motivated it can double as a training gym.

Since arriving home from the Outback a few weeks back I have been heading up the driveway to “The Shed” in the pre-dawn darkness to exercise on my rowing machine and lift a few weights.

Don’t worry, I’m an early morning person…

Over the coming months my exercise regime in “The Shed” will involve high intensity workouts on the rowing machine and weight resistance training in preparation for my expedition to Papua New Guinea early next year.

And rest assured, there will be plenty of hill climbing with a 20 kilogram backpack and I could never go a week without getting in a couple of paddles on the surf ski.

And this weekend’s weather in the harbour city is set to be perfect for all kinds of outdoor pursuits…

Crikey, bring it on!

Baz – The Landy

(Photos: Janet-Planet)

 

 

 

 

 

Such is the life of a desert dweller…

Wow, 7-weeks in the Australian Outback, travelling this wonderful country of ours in a customised four-wheel drive may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but hey, for the adventurous, you’d love it…

And for the less adventurous amongst us, crikey, come on get on board, it is about time you got out of your comfort zone and gave it a go.

My recent adventure into the deserts of Western Australia involved a return journey of over 10,000 kilometres into some of the world’s most inhospitable country, crossing vibrant red sand dunes where no roads or tracks exist…

Sand Dune Crossing

But don’t be put off by the remoteness and harshness of the Australian Outback as the rewards for the traveller, the adventurer, is a landscape more bio-diverse and fragile than the Amazon rainforest.

The contrasting beauty of a rugged landscape, the colours that you will see can never be replicated in a painting or photograph, but the memory of a setting sun, the golden hue it creates as it gently slips below the distant horizon will imprint a lasting memory that will have you longing to return to this place…

Outback Australia

 

My journey took me across Australia’s interior on a quest to assist a group of like minded people construct a shelter and other buildings for the Birriliburu people, the Traditional Owners of the Little Sandy Desert and Gibson Desert region of Australia…

Mind you, it is also about the journey and there was plenty of opportunity for me to explore and photograph other parts of the Australian Outback as I made my way westward…

Now let me say, shovelling sand and gravel into a cement mixer, on a clay pan and under a scorching sun is hard work and won’t necessarily count as a highlight of the trip. But the opportunity to spend time with the elders of the Birriliburu mob in their country, on their lands, was well worth the discomfort – it will leave a lasting impact on my life!

Crikey, don’t get me wrong, it was a pleasure to assist, I’m just complaining about those aching muscles that were antagonised in the process…

Amongst the aboriginal people I spent time with were a number of elders who were born to nomadic parents in the desert, first generation desert people who lived, hunted and sheltered on the very lands we were on and without any contact with Australian’s of European descent.

One of the elders, Geoffrey Stewart, was born to parents Warri and Yatungka, a couple who engaged in forbidden love under tribal laws and whose story is recounted in the book “Last of the Nomads”.

Another, Georgina “Dadina” Brown, took us to the place where she and her family were discovered by  Stan Gratte, an historical enthusiast, in 1976. At the time Stan was retracing the route of a 19th century explorer.

Georgina is an accomplished artist with work on display in the Australian National Gallery and her story is recounted in the book Born in the Desert – The Land and travels of a last Australian Nomad. 

All were willing to share their country with us, showing where they roamed the desert with their families and explaining how they captured food and travelled from rock-hole to rock-hole to find water.

Geoffrey shared some “Dreamtime Stories” and permitted us to view some magnificent rock art located in a gorge not too far from where we were based in the desert.

I have been travelling Australia’s vast outback region for many years and have always recognised it has a “spiritual beauty” to it.  But this trip has been special in a way that I never thought possible and has helped me view life through a different lens, putting a different perspective on life…

We live in a society that insists we plan our lives away, where we have an insatiable appetite for instant gratification, and need the latest gadgets, where we are able to visit a supermarket for our daily food needs with little thought as to how it arrived there…

It was refreshing to observe another perspective on life from people whose ancestors’ have inhabited our sunburnt country for over 40,000 years – a people whose philosophy of living in harmony with the environment is the pathway to ensuring a sustainable existence.

No, not necessarily an easy one, that’s for sure!

Most importantly, this trip and time spent on country with the Birriliburu mob has reinforced something that modern day living often has us overlook and that is the only moment you can live in is the one you are in.

Such is the life of a desert dweller…

Baz – The Landy

As a footnote:

The Birriliburu Lands are an Indigenous Protected Area not open to the general public. I visited at the kind invitation of the Elders of the Birriliburu People. 

How far would you drive for a milkshake?

Who remembers the days of real milk bars and real milkshakes – milkshakes made with malt and filled to the brim with real milk and dispensed in the traditional metal tumbler?

As a young lad growing up in Far North Queensland, FNQ to the initiated, I can remember my father taking me on a Saturday morning ritual to check the mail at the post office followed by a milkshake at our favourite milk bar.

I suspect Dad was never interested in what the mail brought, in fact I don’t ever recall him opening it, but boy did we savour those milkshakes.

So it was to my great surprise that I discovered Bell’s Milk Bar in our iconic Outback town of Broken Hill.  Now I have written often about the rich history of “The Hill” and on sojourns to and from the Outback we always take the time to stop over, if only to stand on the western edge of this great town as the sun cast its last rays on a red ochre coloured landscape.

But somehow I had overlooked this gem that is caught in a 1950s time warp.

Needless to say I wasted no time in ordering a chocolate malted milk which I savoured with great pleasure as Janet and I wandered around looking at the memorabilia that has been collected over the years…

Plastic tables, plenty of chrome, even the old heavy black phones!

Without a doubt it is now on our must-do things when passing through “The Hill” in fact we’ve made a mental note to ensure it is the first thing we do as “The Landy” heads into town…

Crikey, I’d drive the 1,200-kilometres from Sydney any day to fill-up at Bell’s; to reminisce of days long-gone, of those moments with the “Old Man” in downtown Townsville drinking our liquid gold through a paper straw, the silence punctuated only be the slurping sounds of a quickly disappearing shake.

So take my tip and be sure to include Bell’s on the itinerary next time you are passing that way, you won’t be disappointed!

Photo Baz – The Landy

A Yarn Around the Camp Fire

The Camp Fire

“A Yarn Around the Camp Fire” is an opportunity for you to take a front-seat ride in “The Landy” as it heads into some of the most remote parts of Australia, for that matter – the world.

After all, Australia’s remote location on the globe is matched equally by the remoteness of its sparsely  populated outback…

It will be a journey that will take us across our sunburnt land towards Uluru and beyond to the Central Deserts of Western Australia…

We’ll travel to a place where time has forgotten, where the hot scorching sun parches a landscape that is as beautiful as it is rugged. A country inhabited over the millennia by Australian Aborigines and crossed in more contemporary times by explorers’ who challenged themselves to discover what was in the Australian interior.

You will get a camp fire view of the setting sun as it slips gently below an orange tainted horizon, and if you are an early bird, watch a rising sun cast its first rays of light over the windswept land, a mug of piping hot tea in hand.

But for sure, you’ll get to experience the teeth shattering corrugations of the Great Central Road as “The Landy” makes its way westward, and at day’s end, quietly slip into a deep slumber under “The Milky Way”.

During the next few weeks “The Landy” will cover over 10,000-kilometres across a landscape that will transport me from the urban living of Australia’s largest city, Sydney, across the Australian Bush and into the vibrant and colourful Australian Outback.

Now perhaps there will be some who are thinking, is this city slicker meets the outback?

Crikey, who knows…

Mind you, I’m as comfortable in the outback as I am crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the daily commute to the office, having travelled to many remote parts over the years flying light aircraft or driving “The Landy” – our mode of transport that has morphed as time advanced.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Okay, I do agree, the good old ‘Fender hasn’t changed much in the past 50 years, seemingly, so we’ll just say I use the term “morphed” sparingly.

And despite the opportunity to view the magnificent Sydney Harbour each day, I won’t miss that daily dodgem car run!

But I am digressing…

Along the way I will be travelling with a group of like-minded people, sharing a few laughs around the camp fire and I’m sure, fixing almost as many punctured tyres as there are flies buzzing around.  Importantly, I will be spending time with the Traditional Owners and Elders of the Birriliburu Country to assist them in building some “back to country” infrastructure.

Our travel will be along remote tracks that are covered in spinifex grass and frequently travelling where no tracks exist, where a never ending blue sky caresses the ochre-red earth on a faraway horizon.

And don’t go worrying if you haven’t heard from me for a while, rest assured, I’ll be around the camp fire at day’s end, recounting, laughing, and dreaming!

Whilst we live in a modern society with plenty of gadgets to keep us all in contact, sometimes they just don’t work in the Australian Outback – well that is what I told my boss anyway, so best I continue to run with that story…

I’ll welcome your company in the front seat of “The Landy” as the journey unfolds and don’t worry about long lapses of silence, it’s okay –  the sounds of the Australian Outback will more than compensate for the lack of chatter!

And if you are stuck at home in-the-armchair, be sure to drop by every so often, I’ll be updating the blog as the journey unfolds and you can check out where I am as “The Landy” rolls along the bulldust by simply clicking on the “Map – Where is The Landy” tab at the top of the page.

Anyway it is almost time to get under way, so buckle yourself in and give Mrs Landy and the Crown Prince, TomO, a wave good-bye…

Photos: Baz – The Landy