Thursday, 30 November 2017

ACT retirement adventure road trip-day 1 and 2

First stop -the traditional Tailem Bend bakery stop.  by the time we were there at about 1330 they were out of pasties and we had to settle for pies.  Still very good.
We hadn't noticed the "Tailem Bend Uneek Animals" display before (just by the train line , a little west of the bakery) and had fun picking the locals that we knew and didn't know and checking the interesting facts in the brochure supplied. Simple relaxing fun at the start of a journey.

Next stop was Keith, where we stopped by the landrover on the pole.  we've driven past here plenty of times before, but this time we read the info and it made more sense.
This memorial commemorates the AMP scheme to open up the 90 mile desert for farming.they dragged chains around to clear the desert.
The huts nearby are called Wiles huts and are formed from 2 garages joined together with a verandah.  one room is living, the other divided into bedrooms spaces.  there were around 50 of these Wiles huts across the area developed, between 1950 and 1960

Along the Dukes highway there are lots of crops looking ready to reap, and many gone already.  
We only saw one harvester at work , but this was to change.

Calling in to visit some special relatives in Bordertown was wonderful, and having worn out the oldies, we moved to some younger ones, who kindly shared a BBQ tea with us and caught up some more.  This is exactly how our retirement should be used... Seeing those we have been missing out on seeing due to being too busy.
We camped out on the back lawn and enjoyed the balmy night and the stars, if not the very short sleep.

We were up by 7.30 and heading on our way.

First stop just outside Serviceton, where we again caught up with relatives for a couple of hours, before we headed on our way the slow way.  

Being someone amused by small things, I enjoyed the garlic wearing a hat.

There was lots of action with headers today.  Lots of loads travelling to nearby silos on the roads too. 

We took a very convoluted route via back roads, via Miriam East historic school site  to the historic RAAF base near Nhill where we found an RV PARKING site complete with dump point, a walking track and many signs telling of the huge RAAF base built in the space of 10 weeks, which housed 2000 at a time who took part in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.  This scheme trained 10000 over the space of 5 years in Avro Anson planes (fondly known as Faithful Annies).  We had no idea of this.  It was one of 34 bases doing similar training across Australia in an attempt to train enough air crews to keep the upper hand.  

Then and now

We followed many tracks and minor roads, to Lake Hindmarsh (via some black smelling mud areas in the Park)  where we stopped at the Schulze Beach campsite for our lunch. Here the long drop dunnies still stand, but the water is a bit lower that it used to be, with the end of the boat ramp well short of water (another 200m would probably do it) and some incongruous looking skiing and boating instructions.

We made a point of stopping at the Lascelles Lake in Hopetuon where we found grassy sites with beautiful Lake frontage, free bbqs, free warm showers (much appreciated) but decided to stay in the air conditioned car and travel onwards in the heat of the day instead of setting up camp early.  
The nearby Mallee Bush campsite,  also owned by the council, looked intriguing.  Here you also have virtually lake frontage but can stay in a modern wheat silo, cow shed etc complete with air conditioning.

It just happened that we continued on via Lascelles and chanced upon another of the silo art projects-this one a little more subtle than the others we have seen.  

We drove on past Piangil, crossing the Murray at Tooleybuc and on to a spot by the Wakool river near Kyalite  (thanks for the tip Al and Zita) , where we finally witnessed a collapse of a blue camping chair (purchased for $5 17 years ago).  We still have a hot sun, but it is starting to cool off a little as I write this at 7.30pm.   

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Garden Island kayaking 18th October 2017

We have talked about kayaking in the mangroves in this area and heard it was good, but have never done it.
We had been given a voucher by a friend last Christmas which we had not used, and saw that this activity could be subsidized with the voucher so decided to do it.

Adventure Kayaking SA are the only commercial group allowed in this area. We started the tour at 1000, so had to be out at the Garden Island boat ramp before then. After a number of traffic snarls on the way across town we managed it with about four minutes to spare. (A bit close for comfort when you are not really sure where you are going). There are basic toilet facilities at the boat ramp which were open for use.

Phil (the guide) was already unloading kayaks for our group when we arrived.  You could opt for self guided or guided tour and also single or double kayak.
We opted for guided (Why not make use of an expert to add to the experience? ) along with three other couples.
Apparently you can also hire a hobie canoe like the one Phil was using for a bit more (they pedal as well as paddle).  You can see the pedals in this picture,and he has his arm resting on the wheels, which travel with it.

Phil is an ex-teacher, having turned his PE/outdoor ed knowledge from hobby to small business, and now employs a team of others to assist him with the business. After many years he has had both shoulders operated on, and protects them where he can, by using the pedal canoe. It can really move along.

The day was quite hot with a strong north wind blowing, with the possibility of dropping later, so, once we completed the briefings, set up our kayaks and got them into the water (using a mat at the bottom of the boat ramp so you didn't even have to get your feet wet) we headed west using the shelter of the mangroves. 

Even the old Torrens Island power stations looked great from the water. 

Phil seems to be very mindful of using both wind and tide to best advantage to make it easy for his paddlers. He certainly worked it out well this day.

We hadn't gone far at all before we sighted our first dolphin.  There is a group of about 40 in this area, and apparently it is very rare not to see them on these tours.  The dolphins are protected.  You are not allowed to paddle to closer than 50 metres of them, but sometimes they decide to come and check you out, and you get lucky, as we did later on this trip.

Garden Island is also a sanctuary for birds.  This one was sporting an interesting hairstyle.
The mud flats are also a sanctuary for birds, who stop off on their migratory paths.

After practicing stopping suddenly, and turning in one spot, Phil decided that we were up to a little close manouvering, and took us into a mangrove creek, where the water was clear and shallow enough to see the fingerling fish, just newly hatched, and the larger fish and crabs going about their business.  On quite a warm day, the shade of the mangroves hanging out over the creek was beautiful, and the tide and wind were left behind, meaning that we could just relax in the kayak and enjoy the moments of tranquility.

When we emerged from the mangroves the wind had dropped, so the paddle around to the ships graveyard under the power lines was much easier than it might have been.

The hulk of the old Santiago (one of the first iron ships, built in 1856 in Liverpool) is one of many which were discarded in this area.  We were able to paddle up to it (after a brief stop to watch a mum and baby dolphin who cruised by)  and see the flaking rusty iron, and the clear green water inside the iron surrounds.

Thanks Phil for this and the next photo.

Then we allowed ourselves to be swept back with the current, retracing our track towards the boat ramp.

We stopped to admire the power lines silhouetted against the beautiful sky.

Not long afterwards there was a loud "smack" . Turning to see what the noise was, there was a motionless duck on the water. It must have flown into the power line and knocked itself unconscious. I've never seen that happen before. Phil paddled over, picked up the lifeless body, and placed it on the mangrove lined shore. The tide will be high enough in an hour to float the duck. Maybe he will be up to a swim by then.

Speaking of swimming, what should come back around and under our kayak, but a pod of 5 dolphins, who must have been checking us out. This was the biggest group we saw together today and they were happy to hang around a little near us and give us a really good chance to look at them,  before heading off again.

Thanks to "findingtheamazing" who were also in our group and uploaded this much better picture of the dolphin group near us.

Despite the fact that it was well after 1300 (our planned finish time), Phil was not in rush, and we casually paddled back to the boat ramp. 

It was an extraordinary experience,and a real treat.  Something we might never have splurged on if it wasn't for the voucher.  It really made us think again that owning a kayak would be a great thing. Must investigate this option further. In the meantime maybe we should take up the offers we have to borrow from friends and family.  It's a lovely way to spend some time.

The Birkenhead Tavern was a great choice to sit, and relax over a late lunch and a cider after the morning activity.  We sat and watched the tugs and the activity on the water nearby, and people watched from the deck.

We would recommend Phil's  Adventure Kayaking SA as a tour.  He was a really interesting guide and made sure we were all safe and knew all the basics of paddling. We thought taking the guided tour option was worth the slight increase in cost. They do school and corporate groups as well, and go sea kayaking down South as well as out at St Kilda.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Bathurst Oct 1st-starting the trip home.

We were heading out of Bathurst with a full tank of fuel just before 1100, having completed the house clean up to our satisfaction.

Between Mandurah and Cowra we suddenly came across about 30 cars all stopped on the side of the road with people everywhere.  An accident? No... lots of tourists taking photos of a lovely canola crop !!! We should have taken a photo of the people taking photos.

We decided to pull in at the Cowra Japanese garden and parked right behind a very familiar A-van.  Sure enough Al and Zita had had the same idea.  On an idyllic sunny day just at the start of spring it was just about the ideal time to visit, and despite a lot of tourists (mostly Asian) there was plenty of space for everyone to enjoy the tranquility of the garden.

Lots of beautiful blossom,  water and sculpted plantings. It was well worth 2 hours of our time.

Japanese Maple

Accidental twins for the day

We gave up on the idea of lunch at the gardens due to slow service and snacked our way along the road after a cuppa with Al and Zita.

We took a short break at Rankine Springs for a cuppa and a cache under the turntable just to break up the trip a bit

before continuing on our way.  Just about 20km short of Hay we turned in to the Murrumbidgee river road, and then south towards the river and the Meriola reserve. Winding our way down towards the river we found a small flat campsite beside a sandy beach with a fire place just waiting or us and good spots for our swags.

The Garmin thought it was a cute idea to suggest that, instead of following our track in (the blue line) when we headed out the next day, we could just ford the river and pick up a track on the other side (pink line is suggested route) .  We thought not.

 We sat beside our lovely fire, cooked ourselves some tea, enjoyed some lovely wine and watched the coals die down, thinking that this wonderful peaceful evening would be the last like this for a while.

Bathurst 30th September -Long distance and grand final day

Today was the long distance champs. The map was Tambaroora, which is just out of Hill end.

Trevor did a consistently good effort, though slow.
I did made an abysmal mash of my course. I took 58  minutes between control 5 and 6, only then figuring out where I was because I accidentally found number 9 and navigated back from that.

My mess

Trev's course

My course

This photos,though not of an SA orienteer gives a good idea of what the tricky terrain area was like. (Thanks OA facebook site) 

Once we were allowed to collect our maps we hopped in the car and headed back to town,  arriving just in time to catch the start of the AFL grand final.

Sadly the Crows lost despite strong support at our place.  They saved us the stress of a close game and we were able to relax over too much wine with Al and Zita before heading off to our beds for a final night. Tomorrow the big trip home starts.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Bathurst Sept 29 rest day -our house

Today a much needed rest day.

We thought it might be good to use the time to share about the place where we are staying.

This house is an airbnb place that we booked months ago. With 3 bedrooms and a decent amount of living space , along with laundry facilities we thought it  might fit our needs well.

They had said that it was close to Mt Panorama but we hadn't realised how close it was.  Our house is at the blue dot on the map below.

You can see the "supercheap" signage up the road from our front footpath
We have a lovely small backyard with space to sit, a bird feeder,  a BBQ and a lovely weeping pink blossomed tree at the side. The bright pink blossoms are stunning.

It's always hard to take inside pictures  I gave up on the bedrooms and bathroom.

It is the little things like a welcome note and bottle of wine, good quality kitchen gear like the kitchen aid mixer and good crockery that make a difference.

It's good to have a place to be warm and comfortable, a chance at a good sleep (never a strength of ours) and somewhere to wash up.