Nice of you to drop in

 

Baz and Janet, AMP Building, Sydney, Australia
Baz and Janet-Planet, AMP Building, Sydney, Australia

Putting in a couple of leave applications the other day to cover my two climbing expeditions to Nepal in 2015 turned out to be a lot of fun…

My boss, let’s just call him Wayne, he’s a keeper, can’t afford to lose him!

“Baz”

“Yeah Wayne”

“Might be nice if you could drop into the office and do some work occasionally Baz, but don’t let it get in the way of your endless holidays, and how about you call me boss, just for once”

“Sure Wayne, I’ll make some arrangements”

“Janet?”

“Yes Baz?”

“You doing anything, the boss wants me to drop into the office”

“Just lattes with the girls”

“Meet me at the office, and um, bring the ropes”

“Ooo, we playing those games again, you naughty boy”

“No, well yes, if you like, but not just now”

“Hey Wayne, I mean, Boss, I thought I’d just drop in to see if you’ve signed those leave forms yet”.

These photographs show Janet-Planet (isn’t she awesome!) and me abseiling down the AMP Building, Sydney, Australia, in support of a charity fund raising day!

 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! 😉

Adventure and Youth (How good is this)

Adventure and Youth (TomO the Trailblazer)

Adventure and youth, what a great mix!

TomO lead the way today heading off for his first scuba dive which he did at Clifton Gardens, on beautiful Sydney Harbour…

scuba diving

 Despite Janet and I quite comfortably diving out of airplanes and loving water sports, we’ve never harboured the desire to scuba dive! So TomO has set a first for our family!

Crikey, adventure hey, good on you mate.

Bravo TomO!

Photos: Janet Planet

A Seedpod (In the Australian Bush)

A Seedpod (In the Australian Bush)

There are some wonderful things to see when Out and About in the Australian Bush.

There are landscapes that stretch from horizon to horizon under a never-ending blue sky, some unique animals, and some things you need to go searching for, or you just happen to come across.

A couple of weeks ago I was bush-walking up in Yengo National Park and the lovely contrast in this little seedpod caught my eye…

How good is it!

Crikey, you wouldn’t be dead for quids, hey?

Photo: Baz, The Landy

Dope on a Rope (Over Australia)

How good is this… just hanging out, a dope on a rope…

Sublime Point, Blue Mountains, Australia
Sublime Point, Blue Mountains, Australia
(Big Bad) Baz on  Sweet Dream, Blue Mountains, Australia
(Big Bad) Baz on Sweet Dream, Blue Mountains, Australia
Just hanging out - On Sweet Dreams
Just hanging out – On Sweet Dreams

 

Ever played Twister? It helps!
Ever played Twister? It helps!

Strewth I’ve got to get back to some climbing, and what better place than a climb on Sweet Dreams in the Blue Mountains just to the west of Sydney…now there’s a thought!

And hey, remember, if all else fails, just take a running leap at life, see what develops and live to the motto…

“Those that don’t think it can be done shouldn’t bother the person doing it”…

If all else fails, just take a running leap at life...
If all else fails, just take a running leap at life…

(Big Bad) Baz…

In search of Gold and Ghouls (In the Australian Bush)

Hill End
“The Landy” mobbed by locals

We spent the past weekend touring through the Hill End region nearby to Sydney in our new Outback Touring vehicle, a Toyota 79 Series Dual Cab.

Dare I call it “The Landy”.

And it proved to be popular with the locals who mobbed it as we neared the historic gold mining town.

This was a Gold and Ghouls weekend, for it was in the early 1850s that the discovery of gold at Ophir, not too far from Hill End in the State’s Central West, that created Australia’s first gold rush.

It was almost over as quickly as it began and very few found the fortune that they came in search of, and of course those that prospered most were the people who ran the stores, supplying equipment and provisions to the miners, and the many hotels that quenched the thirst of those who were looking for the “big strike”.

Hill End, Australia
Hill End, Australia

Hill End is a historic town administered by the New South Wales National Parks. There is a pub, a store, and plenty of old buildings that give a glimpse into how life might have been in those heady gold fever days. For the more energetic, there is a walk to Bald Hill where there was a lot of mining activity.

And the Royal Hotel is a great place to have a beer, or two, and a meal in the bistro.

Country Pub
Royal Hotel, Hill End, Australia

Leaving Sydney we travelled the Great Western Highway via Bathurst and the small township of Sofala.

We camped at Glendora campground, which is located about 1.5 kilometres from the pub and is well equipped to take caravans and camper trailers, with powered and unpowered sites available and self-registration. In fact this is a good spot for larger groups with full facilities including electric barbecues and hot showers.

Hill End, Australia Glendora Campground, Hill End, Australia Glendora Campground, Hill End, Australia Glendora Campground, Hill End, Australia Toyota 79 Series Dual Cab Glendora Campground, Hill End, Australia

There is also a campground in the centre of town, which was about half full…

Leaving Hill End on Sunday we travelled back to Bathurst via Dixon’s Long Point Road, a four-wheel drive track that winds its way down to a rocky creek crossing on the Macquarie River.

Macquarie River, Australia
Macquarie River, Australia
Track Tvan
The Landy + Tvan

“The Landy” had its first workout and performed admirably, although it was hardly taxing for the big V8-engine housed under a bonnet as big as a football field.

The views are spectacular and you can camp by the river and wile away the day under a deep blue sky…

The drive down to the river takes about one hour, depending on whether you stop along the way to visit the Cornish Roasting Pits, which we didn’t do on this particular occasion.

Travelling on you eventually come to Ophir Reserve which is located in a gorge where the Summer Hill and Lewis Creeks converge, and it was from here that the gold in the gold medals presented at 2000 Sydney Olympics was mined.

A great spot for a picnic, and it didn’t take long before TomO found a rope swing.

TomO, young and carefree...
TomO –  young and carefree…

Leaving Ophir it is less than an hour drive to Bathurst and another couple of hours back to Sydney.

And what about the Ghouls I hear you ask?

The National Park Rangers do a Ghost Tour that takes in a number of properties in Hill End and can be organised with about a week’s notice. It was uncertain whether “The Landy” would be finished in time for this trip so we thought we’d keep the ghost tour up our sleeve, giving us a reason to return again soon…

Hill End, Australia
Hill End, Australia

For anyone visiting the central west of New South Wales, Hill End and a tour of the region is well worth the experience. And there is some good four-wheel driving to be done, if you are inclined. Otherwise the Dixon Long Point Road is easily traversable and will reward you with some stunning vistas of the Australian Bush…

Photos: Baz, The Landy, and Janet Planet…

Win a Classic Aussie Akubra Hat (You’ll be the envy of all!)

Coongie Lake, Desert Country, Outback Australia
Coongie Lake, Desert Country, Outback Australia

I haven’t heard too much back on the Logo design, which is good, I know you will all be hard at work on it…

Strewth, you haven’t forgotten about it already, seriously…

Here, read about how you can win a classic, Aussie,  Akubra Outback Hat by designing a logo!

I tell you what, here is something that might help some of those with an artistic flair.

Our new touring vehicle will travel over the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge each day.

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Opera House in full view and the spectacular Sydney Harbour as a backdrop…

Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House
Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House

A week later it could be crossing a thousand red sand dunes in the Simpson Desert, Outback Australia…

Simpson Desert, disappearing into the horizon
Simpson Desert, a thousand sand dunes ahead

So maybe something that reflects this might be a reasonable idea…

And when I say Logo, hey, it could be blown up mural style and placed on the gull-wing doors of the canopy…that is what I have in mind!

Okay, get cracking, and yes, you can go and make yourself a cocktail first!

The Crew - Always smiling
The Crew – Always smiling

 

Winter by the beach (In Australia)

Coalcliff Beach, Australia

How is this for a glorious winter’s day by the beach.

Strewth, you might just be left wondering is it really winter?

Janet, TomO, and I packed “The Landy” with some picnic goodies and headed down to the Royal National Park, just to the south of Sydney.

And we stopped by the spectacular Coalcliff Beach for a cup of tea, expertly brewed by the Queen of the tea pot, Janet. 

What a great place for a cuppa, hey?

Photo: Baz, The Landy

Sydney Harbour and the Coat Hangar (Life Down-under)

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge

This week marked the passing of another year in the history of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it turned 81 years old.

 It was officially opened on 19 March, 1932.

Southern Approach - Sydney Harbour Bridge
Southern Approach – Sydney Harbour Bridge

An icon around the world, in more recent times it has become a focal point for New Year celebrations as Sydney-siders herald in another year with the bridge festooned in colourful fireworks.

Of course it is more than that, it is a life-line to those travelling from the north of Sydney to the south and whilst many years ago the Sydney Harbour tunnel was built, taking vehicular traffic under the harbour, it still doesn’t match a trip over the Coat-Hangar.

Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House
Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House

And New Yorkers’ might be just left wondering where you had seen our bridge before. The design of the bridge was heavily influenced by the Hell Gate Bridge in New York.

I drive over the bridge each day on my way to work in Sydney’s central business district and I always take in the view it gives of the harbour and marvel at the engineering feat.

Northern Approach, Sydney Harbour Bridge
Northern Approach, Sydney Harbour Bridge

 Of course, for those who are inclined, make sure you take the bridge climb if you ever visit Sydney – the views of Sydney Harbour are spectacular…

Crikey, you’ve just got to love Sydney, hey?

photos: Baz, The Landy

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!

Dropping into the office (sure beats taking the lift)

Baz and Janet on the AMP Building, Sydney
Baz and Janet on the AMP Building, Sydney

Speaking about returning to work after my sojurn in New Zealand, there is no truth in the rumour that I abseil in each day.

 But it would be fun!

 Janet and I abseiled off the AMP Building in Sydney’s Central Business District to raise money and aid in the awareness of the Sir David Martin Foundation, an organisation committed to helping young people in crisis.

A very worthwhile cause…

Baz on the AMP Building, Sydney
Baz on the AMP Building, Sydney

And yes, Janet beat me to the bottom, who said she wasn’t competitive!

Janet on the AMP Building, Sydney
Janet on the AMP Building, Sydney

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!

Jump on board – I’ll take you for a paddle (Narrabeen Lake)

Baz - Terrigal Beach, Australia
Baz – Terrigal Beach, Australia

Narrabeen Lake, situated on the northern beaches of Sydney, Australia, is a beautiful sun-drenched oasis situated right on the ocean.

 It is a mecca for kayakers, windsurfers, and paddle board riders alike, a place where you can spend a lazy afternoon with family and friends under a shady tree just wiling away time…

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

 The lake, which is 10-kilometres in circumference, is my choice for kayaking as it has very few power boats on it and it makes for a great change from the daily rows on my static C2 rowing machine.

 Without fail, a pelican will glide by whilst out on the lake and how majestic are they to watch, something you don’t get to see on the rowing machine up in “The Shed“.

Rowing in the Shed
Baz on the C2 Rower

 Crikey, as much as I love climbing and mountaineering, and let’s face it you’d have to if you intend to climb Mt Everest, the other past-time I enjoy equally is just being out in one of my kayaks. Whether it is a training session, or just more of a laid-back paddle with friends…

 These days, I mostly find myself paddling my 6.5 metre long Epic kayak, a beautifully crafted and sleek boat which is quite fast, well in the right set of hands it is – but I’m working on that!

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

Next year this will be my choice of racing boat in the winter marathon series, a series of 20-kilmetre races run monthly for about nine-months.

And no, our winter doesn’t go for nine-months, so I’m not sure how that works out!

 Over the Christmas break I’ll be hanging up my climbing gear and heading for the lake with family, friends and the kayaks, to get some training in, and to simply enjoy the smell of the fresh sea air…

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

 Now, I’ll let you in on a little secret, so don’t tell TomO, but he’s got a paddle-board coming for Christmas, so maybe he’ll get it a day or two early, just so he can get Out and About on it this weekend coming. After all, it’s pretty hard to hide it up in “The Shed” with him seeing it…

TomO, The Haven, Terrigal, Australia
TomO, The Haven, Terrigal, Australia

 And after a lap or two of the lake there is nothing better than kicking back and watching the sun cast a golden hue over the water as it sinks into the western horizon…

Anyway, jump on board, I’ll take you for a spin around the Lake!

I’m Excited, Very Excited – More tales of a dope on a rope

Baz – Boar’s Head, Blue Mountains, Australia

I spent today spent in the wonderful Blue Mountains, just to the west of Sydney, doing a multi-pitch abseil and hike out. And what a wonderful playground to develop a high level of rope handling proficiency.

 Over the past two weekends I have concentrated on multi-pitch abseils of at least 250 metres done in sections (pitches) of around 40-50 metres each. And I’ve had my fair share of self-rescues thrown in without warning to ensure I have the necessary skills to do just that, rescue myself, or someone else, with confidence!

Boar’s Head, Multi-Pitch Abseil

I want to achieve an extremely high standard to ensure that when I am in Nepal next year, and eventually on an 8,000 peak, that my rope handling skills are completely second nature and can be done, quickly, safely, and confidently…

Under the watchful eye of the Shane and the fantastic team from the Australian School of Mountaineering I am well on my way to achieving this standard.

Mt Aspiring, Southern Alps, New Zealand

In less then two months I will be back in New Zealand for an attempt on the summit of Mt Aspiring, and without wanting to wish my life away – I can’t wait! But the journey can only be made one day at a time, and what a day it was.

There is nothing better than putting yourself in a position where you must simply trust the set-up you have built and locked yourself onto it…

The confidence to do this comes from practice, and the rewards are great. Simply lying back “into thin air”  and going over the edge is exhilarating.

Shane, Boar's Head, Blue Mountains, Australia
Shane, Boar’s Head, Blue Mountains, Australia

The Blue Mountains provides such a wonderful natural backdrop to pursue this activity.

 Boar’s Head, a natural rock formation was our abseiling destination of choice today.  It is a short walk-in from the main cliff-drive not too far from downtown Katoomba. And the vista at the start of it is spectacular, overlooking Narrow Neck, a prominent plateau that stretches to the south…

The total abseil is around 250 metres and we used two 60 metre ropes to drop to the valley floor in five pitches. The walk-out required some “scrub bashing” to join up with the main Devil’s Hole track, that took us back up to our transport.

Multi-pitch Abseil, Boar’s Head, Blue Mountains, Australia

The thick undergrowth made for a humid traverse of the gullies, before we started our climb up through Devil’s Hole.

I’ve tried to capture the beauty of the day in photos…hopefully it gives you a glimpse of our wonderful backyard and the fun we had, just being “Out and About”

Strewth Mate, you gotta love Tough Mudder

Sydney had its first Tough Mudder event today, and geez how good is it! I lined up with my brother-in-law, and usual partner in crime, Ray Tong, and man did we have a good time of it.

We laughed our way through it…

Mind you, my sister, who turned up yesterday to look after the dogs while we are in Fiji, snapped this shot at the start line.

It kinda has that look about it that suggests I was saying what the (insert naughty words) are we doing here!

It was run just to the north of Sydney on a rural property, and crikey, I don’t know where they found all that mud, but let me tell you, there was lot’s of it over the 20 kilometre obstacle course…

Anyway, I’ll leave you with a couple of photos of the event, ’cause I’m heading for the showers, you know, to clean myself up…

P.S. Note to self, suggest to Janet that I’ve found the perfect beauty treatment that only costs about a hundred bucks. The last time I saw the bill for the day spa, and mud pack, it cost a multiple of this…

Slicing the water – with a blade

Narrabeen Lake, situated on the northern beaches of Sydney, Australia, is a beautiful spot by the ocean.

It is mecca for kayakers, windsurfers, and paddle board riders, a place where you can spend a lazy Sunday afternoon with family and friends under a shady tree…

 With very few power-boats on the lake, which is about 10 kilometres in circumference, it is my choice for kayaking and makes for a great change from the daily rows on my C2 rowing machine, although I did get a rowing session in earlier in the day – just call me a creature of habit.

Today started on the chilly side, but warmed into a beautiful day full of sunshine and a cloudless blue sky. A day to good to waste so Janet, my partner, packed a picnic lunch into ‘The Landy’ and we headed to the lake for a training session, a bit of fun, and quite a few laughs with our friends.

TomO, our 12 year-old son, was waiting in ambush, as usual, at the end of my paddle, ready to toss me out of the kayak, but he was a bit slow off the mark and missed his chance today. Just as well, as the water is still quite cold…

Narrabeen Lake, Sydney, Australia

Be sure to stop by the lake if you are visiting Sydney, and if you want to get out on the lake, drop in to see Matt Blundell, a world class kayaker, at his boat shed, Prokayaks. Matt will hire you a kayak, or paddle board and get you underway…

There is nothing better than kicking back and watching the sun settle behind the hills casting a golden hue over the lake, pure magic!

 

I hope you enjoy the clip of today’s paddle!!

 What did you do today?