Saturday, July 30, 2011

Come Together...

This week's PhotoHunter theme is together.

Normally I am separated from my mother by thousands of kilometers. Fortunately, this past May she made the long journey from Oregon to Western Australia. Here is a picture of us together at the Pinnacles. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Lesson Learned

The sun was already making its descent when we arrived at Avon National Park. Even though it was the middle of winter school holidays, we had taken our time arriving at the park because we were hoping that the sun would dry up some of the puddles from the previous night's rains. We had been told that the park was visited by few and that camping wouldn't be an issue. But still, we were anxious about finding a suitable spot. Fortunately, the park boasts 5 campgrounds, so we figured we would find something. 
The dirt roads were still a bit wet, and we were glad that we had rented a 4wd.  Slowly we made our way  into the park, and it wasn't long before we came across the first campground. Unfortunately, the place was chock-full of caravans so we carried on. We decided to skip the turn-off to the second campground and headed for the one at the top of the hill. When we crested the bald hill we were greeted with plenty of sunlight. The setting looked idyllic, but upon closer inspection of the established neighbors we decided it was best to continue our search. We headed back to the campground we had passed up. The road slowly meandered towards the valley and I doubted that we would a sunny spot in the hallows. Fortunately, the track didn't reach the canyon floor and the campground was on a sunny plateau. There were only two other tents in the area, but there was no one around. There was an isolated area off to the side, so we staked our claim. 
Rather then setting up camp we decided to hit the trail. A steep single track continued from where the road ended and we were quickly taken down to the canyon bottom. The recent rains had turned to the valley into lush meadow lands. Even though our journey had been short, I felt as though I had been transported thousands of miles away to the center of Ireland--with its 40 shades of green. I wanted to continue exploring the valley, but unfortunately the marked trail ended at a waterfall. We did see several secondary trails, probably made by roo's and feral goats, but the terrain was just too rough so we decided to return to camp.

Our neighbors had not yet returned, and no one new had joined us so we had the place to ourselves. We quickly set up camp and sat out to enjoy the late afternoon sun. It wasn't long before the sun disappeared. Even though it was the middle of winter the temperature was mild enough for us to sit through several games of cards, enjoy an alfresco meal, and watch the moon begin its ascent. 
By 7:30 we were amazed that our neighbors had not yet returned. One of the campsites had a car next to it, and the other campsite consisted of a single person swag with nothing else. We began to question if the campers were a group and out and about in a second car, or if the campers were out on the trail. 
By 8:00 we decided it was time to investigate. A quick walk through the campsite assured us that no one was asleep in the tents. A meal had been cooked and everything had been left neat and tidy. It appeared that the two campsites were a group. We still had no idea if there was a second car around, or if they were out walking. We worried that since a headlight was left outside the tent, if they were walking at least one person didn't have a light. I couldn't help but be concerned, but without knowing if there was a second car all we could do was wait until morning. So we tried to put our neighbors out of mind and enjoy the rest of the evening. 
Fortunately at some point in the night they made their return by car (we slept right through their entrance). The experience has made us realize just how important it is to leave hiking details on the car windscreen if nothing else as a courtesy to your neighbors. A lesson you think we would have learned on this adventure.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Many Uses

This week's PhotoHunt theme is patch.

When attempting to climb Cradle Mountain in Tasmania I tripped and fell. The accident left me without a fingernail, and I had to patch up my finger. Unfortunately, I was a bit short on bandages in the first aid kit, but I made do with a sanitary napkin. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Christmas In July

This week's PhotoHunt theme is backwards.

Winter coats for the 4th of July and shorts for New Year's Eve. After 3 years of living Down Under I still can't get used to reversal of seasons and the calendar always feels a bit backwards

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Our start of summer had been different than other years. Rather than being faced with dry, hot campgrounds we had been faced with flooded, swampy areas. On Christmas Eve, as we sat next to the river that had exceeded its banks, we never imagined that the excess of water in the drought stricken area would carry on into the heat of summer. We expected that with the arrival of the soaring temperatures the abundance of water would quickly dissipate leaving the land in a dry and barren state.There was no way that we could predict that the multitude of storms that were besieging the northwestern part of the country, thousands of kilometers away, would keep the rivers flowing at above normal heights in our neck of the woods. As I watched the flooding in Queensland on television, cars being washed away by powerful rivers, it all seemed so far away. I never dreamed that in less than a week's time I would come in contact with the same waters.
With Australia Day on the horizon we set out for a long weekend in Melbourne. I decided to travel by the Overland train, not because it was less expensive than flying, but because the 10 hour ride would allow me to sit back and enjoy the countryside. Unfortunately, my trip was not as stress free as I had hoped. Less than 24 hours before I was to embark on my journey not only had the floodwaters from the north had arrived in the state of Victoria, but local storms were exacerbating the situation and causing travel havoc. Roads were being flooded and closed. Fortunately, the railway remained unaffected and we had an on time departure. 
Just hours into our trip the impact of the recent rains became visible, as the countryside began to green up. As we traveled westward, towards the Grampian Mountains, the bucolic scenes of the pastoral wheat-belt turned into a swampland. The flooded fields and washed out roads were the result of an excess of rain, and the water had no where to escape. 

As we approached the banks of the Wimmera River, the train was no longer surrounded by stagnant pools of water, but rather a free flowing river. As we slowed to a crawl an announcement was made that the river had begun to flow across the tracks. Thankfully the waters were relatively tame, and we were able to continue on our journey without too much drama.  However, as I looked out the window and marveled at the water disappearing below our train, I couldn't help but be awed by Mother Nature.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Not Too Near

This week's PhotoHunt theme is near.

When we came across this big guy crossing the road on Kangaroo Island I knew I didn't want to get too near, since Tiger Snakes are venomous.