Monday, July 24, 2006

Balquidder to Waitpinga Beach

Sand. Crashing waves. Sea mist. Salt. Yes, it was the beach. But it didn't feel like it. Something was wrong. Was it the hiking boots and backpack, amongst other hiking gear I was wearing? The cool wind? It felt odd. Nope, the shoes definately had to come off. It was the last stretch to the cars, I could clean my feet off under a tap when I got there. I had only walked about 20 metres onto the beach. Further down, Karen and Marguereta caught up with me, and with little encouragement they had their socks and shoes off too! Definately nice to get the shoes off and feel the sand beneath your toes!

Today's walk was a good one, albeit short. Oh, maybe not short, but quick. 16km, walking down from Balquidder following a dirt track, turning off into grazing land and heading down to the beach along a scenic creek. Following the cliffs, we had lunch on our first beach, with the sun on our backs! The weather was good, no, very good. Rain was forecast, and I awoke very early to the sound of the rain. But it wasn't going to put me off, I decided, as I drifted back to sleep. When we arrived in Waitpinga, the wind was cold, and the sky densely overcast. But those clouds retreated to reveal a beautifully warm sun! Only on the drive home did it rain again. After lunch we walked over another headland to Parsons Beach, and walked along the beach for a couple of kms before rising up to the lookout and carpark, then down again back onto Waitpinga Beach for the walk back to the cars. The cold wind was gone.

Lyn reminded me that it was Jeff's birthday the day before, but I never saw him, I only saw my group, being the first group, and some of the second group - both being a coachload each. <blog edited>.As Herta climbed the steps of the new boardwalk up to the carpark, those of us waiting cheered as she finished her last section of the trail. Moments later, Michelle came up. "Herta's just finished the trail," I said, "well that's a pity, because it's over there," pointing to the older boardwalk some 20 metres walk further on. A magnificent moment enjoyed by all when we held up our trekking poles, well, except me of course, because I had forgotton mine, to form an arch for her to walk through.On Waitpinga Beach stopped to take a photo of the crashing waves by some rocks. Snuck past really. This <blog edited>at Parsons Beach!A fun time back at the carpark, <blog edited>Now I've just got to write that bit I always do, as suggested by my Physio, to note the performance and condition of my knees. Like last walk, they were fantastic. As I said, I had forgotton my trekking poles, realising this when I arrived at the Waitpinga carpark and saw other people with their poles, but I knew it was going to be a fairly easy walk. They are mildly bruised. That's it. Not quite good enough to cycle to work today (Monday), but even still, there has been much improvement! I'm so surprised after the Melbourne experience, just 3 weeks ago.

Mmm. I just realised, when uploading all the finished photos and artwork, that I spelt Balquhidder wrong everywhere... with the one exception of just then...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Caroona Creek to Mt Bryan East

<blog edited>

Today we started walking with me feeling a little disorganised. I had to tape my knees after getting off the bus, because the bus was over-full, so I couldn't stretch out my legs straight to tape my knees. So everyone had to wait while I did some hasty knee taping. <blog edited> Anyway, the walk soon turned good. I had also mistakenly grabbed yesterday's map for today's walk. So I had little idea where we were, just what I could recall from the map. As you can see from the photos, this weekend's scenery was in quite some contrast from the 3 days of last weekend - the bareless hills of the mining town of Burra. This weekend was lots of saltbush interspersed with low trees. Everything looked cool, backdropped by the unknown, the unmarked on our maps, ranges off in the east. <blog edited>Tourilie Gorge was a highlight today. After many of our days of hiking had been heading north and east, after morning tea, we sharp turned westwards to enter this gorge. A gorge soaked in history. History held in time. The settlers on the westward plains, before the railways, had bullocked their produce and supplies through this gorge to the steam paddlers on the river. Their road was still there, built up retaining walls, guard rails on the edges, blasted cuttings, and even old nails from the bullock trays? All the more amazing because this area was so little visited once the railways were established. Abandoned to nature, only to be taken up years later by a hiking trail. Amazing, and it really stood the test of 100 years + of disuse. Most of it was in remarkable condition, the dry wall retaining walls supporting the track in good condition, very few collapses. Even the fence posts and some loose wire forming the guard rails still in place. Carefully routered fence posts. Amazing. Olly found the nails, and even pieces of pottery, amazing stuff! Stumbled across some lovers, and yes, they seemed to be! Their car and double swag layed out, she seemed most awkward about being seen unexpectantly by so many people. Need to do a more interesting lunch in future I think, getting a bit bored of my standard Nutella sandwich and nuts. Fruit is still good, but maybe some celery and carrot sticks with dip? Robin's certainly looked good!

So glad to walk this weekend, really missed not walking at the last End to End 3. <blog edited>

Mt Bryan East School and ruined church were special, we used the combination for the lock from the guidebook. We should have stayed here last night! We, as in Lyn and myself, had discussed it last time. But no-one seemed too enthusiastic. After the walk, which finished by 3pm, we drove off to Hallett to check the accom options there, the pub, or Hallett Railway Station which had been converted to a Heysen Trail hut. John and Julie were also there, and after talking to some locals found an art gallery that would be willing to accommodate us. We are a bit sick of staying in Burra, and if we are prepared to go down for the evening meal, it was a very viable option. Not many others were interested, but Lyn is certainly keen. Hopefully there will be a small group of us there next time! Next weekend we walk up and over Mt Bryan itself, it will be good to walk straight to our place to stay, and not drive for 1/2 an hour.

We stopped off at the Gaslight Tearooms in Burra on the way home, a regular little Burra end-of-walk thing to do now! The scones, which had looked so good, were just too sweet. The drive home was cool, <blog edited> Took a few photos out the car window, oh the shame of it. Well, my cd has ended, and my typing isn't so accurate now, so I shall sign off. <blog edited>

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Black Jack's Shelter to Caroona Creek

I'm didn't expect this. Knee pain, yes. Mild, YES!! No limping! None! Not one step! Melbourne last weekend, I just thought my whole knee thing was hopeless. But now? Woah. True, <blog edited> Now, to the important stuff, my Heysen walk weekend. Day 1.

So, the best day in months for knee pain. That we have already established. To be honest, I really can't remember today much. Looking at the map doesn't help. Let me just load up Photoshop and thumbnail the photos to prompt my memory...

Actually, while that's loading, I do remember some details... this weekend's walk were on the edge of no-where. Literally. Look at a road map of the state, and notice something remarkable about east of Burra. White space. No road. No features. Nothing. Just 100km's of white space. What's there? Nothing, I presume? No dirt tracks, no 4WD tracks, no homesteads, nothing. Dead space. We walked the edge of this space this weekend. Roads where few and far between. Homesteads, water tanks and bores, cattle, even fences, all few and far between on this weekend. It really was the edge of nowhere! But, testament to the original settler's determination, or ignorance, Goyder would say, there were still stone ruins. Some remarkably close together. Far too optimistic, these people! We had morning tea at a ruined one roomed house, within close distance to a similar but more standing house. And aloe vera plants. They survived. Nothing else did though!

This weekend's walk were gentle, Saturday being the hilliest, but nothing compared to last weekend up here. Sunday was certainly gentle up then down. Lunch today was at the top of one of the early hills. We had spent almost two hours driving again. Those bus drivers really aren't concerned about the roads they drive down, or should I say tracks? Newikie Creek was something. The first sign of civilisation since the bus drop off and it's associated sigting of the red sheds of Caroona Homestead (it didn't even really looked lived in, like many homestead out this way - all looked 1950's lived in). A shack. First impression through the distant trees - a bomb shelter. No seriously, that was it's shape! It's almost liked we stumbled across someone's Maurijuana crop!! A little tin shanty, nestled in a man-made hollow in the creek walls, a creek with water in it! A rusty old water tank nearby, very old school, like 1880's style. Not round, but square. Small. We peered through the cracks in the roof (enough cracks for everyone to have a look, should they wish to). Normally, I wouldn't have entered, but there was a sign that said "enter at own risk", it rather assumes people enter! So I did. I was rewarded with a sign, something to the effect that it had been here for 20 years + and to respect other people's property. Almost an invitation to camp here! Certainly a very, very, isolated spot, apart from the odd Heysen Trail walker of course!

I had done my usual map thing. Scanned and colour printed a map from my map book. Why carry 1200km of maps for just 20km of walking? Lucky that. Did a copy for Bev too, she coyly asked for one last time! Lucky that. These were the only two maps present from the current map book. Everyone else, yes, even the leaders (Jerry and Gavin) had the old strip maps, well, Jerry had his map book (secure in his car boot!). So Bev's copy was comandeered for the leaders to use! Apparently there had been many re-routes since the strip map was printed. Phew. Lucky for my maps! Although we did have GPS, and some of the sections today were remarkably well maintained, clearly signposted at regular intervals, branches trimmed, almost like the path had been swept. I think the leaders could have done with that maps this morning though, we parked and were picked up 1 point something kms off the trail, beyond Caroona's Creek. Nice camping set-up there. So super isolated.

The drive back to Burra was like 40 odd kms, some 40 odd minutes. Dirt roads, some not even marked on the map. Some maps showed the Caroona Creek Conservation Park, obviously from the signs and other facilities quite a new set-up.

Saturday night, walking to the pub, it was obvious that me knees were so much better than any other time for months and months. I wasn't cautious when showering, I didn't stiffly limp from the showers back to the tent, I didn't limp to the pub for tea! Tea, what a screw up. Our third time here, and the reservation, despite so many people staying in the hotel, booked for Sunday night, not Saturday. Oh my goodness, did this stress out the staff or what? They gave us so much attitude, despite the fact that they obviously coped with it quite well. We had to be seated in the front lounge, the dining room was closed for a wedding reception or something. They got so grumpy by the many different meals we ordered! But we were, unlike previous times, served very qucikly. And the guy, unlike the women, was much more accommodating and was still nice, not with attitude! Overall though, felt like a bit a rushed meal, having to order and be served so quickly.

Jim, perhaps better known as Olly or Oliver, and Ken, with his pink cheap tent (a mate's pink tent that was cheap!) were in the caravan park in tents. Ah good, some company. Jeff had taken to the pub for his accommodation. We, as in Lyn, had picked up Jeff, from his Modbury North home. Rhonda, Bev and Hilary, despite leaving home earlier than us, got totally lost, going from Wattle Park (to pick up Hilary) to Golden Grove (so not on the way!). When we got to Burra, they weren't there, much a concern for Lyn. How could they not be there when they left home before us? Ah, they went a totally stupid way out of Adelaide! But their extra time still meant they got to Burra at five to nine.