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Scott-Kilvert Hut [11 Aug 2009|11:52pm]

[ mood | tired ]

While things are in winter hibernation, I'll post about some older walks: I can't believe I neglected to write about this walk ...

Scott-Kilvert Hut
Scott-Kilvert memorial hut is about 5km south from Cradle Mountain, by Lake Rodway, a glacial cirque in the shadow nestled under the soaring dolerite spires of the Little Horn and Weindorfer's Tower peaks of Cradle Mountain. The hut was built as a memorial to a teacher and student who died in 1965, when their school group got caught in a blizzard in the area.

The hut is on the eastern side of the Cradle Mountain park, which is much less visited than the western (Overland Track) side. Once we left the main track, near Ranger Hut, we didn't see anybody until we were returning the next day. Which meant that we had the whole, big, two-room hut to ourselves!

First, of course, we had to get there. From the Dove Lake car park, we followed the Dove Lake circuit on the eastern side of the lake until about 500m along, just past Glacier Rock, where the track branches; follow the track to the left, which climbs diagonally across the face of Mount Campbell, until it reaches a saddle at the north side of Hanson's Peak.

Here, there are two options - the short way, involving a steep scramble over Hanson's Peak - a bit over a 200m climb - or the longer, "easier" way, circling around the glacial lake at the base of Hanson's Peak. Which, as we discovered, isn't as easy as it looks on the map, although probably decidedly more scenic.

The track descends almost to the shore of Lake Hanson, then follows its western shore to the pretty Twisted Lakes, before crossing its outlet creek and climbing up again. The lower track is quite rough: although planking has been laid down at some stage, most of it had deteriorated quite considerably, and even in summer the track was wet and muddy, and quite overgrown in places. After climbing to the ridge, it meets the other route over the steep, bare Hanson's Peak.

Walk south along the ridge to a junction; the track on the right is the Face Track, head left towards Lake Rodway and Scott Kilvert Hut. Next to this junction is the Ranger Hut. This is an emergency only hut, but it is a good spot to stop for a rest or lunch break, under the towering peak of the Little Horn.

Past Ranger Hut, the Lake Rodway track enters some beautiful alpine countryside of Pencil Pines and tarns, with the soaring crags of Cradle Mountain behind. Tarns in the area include Artists Pool and Flynns Tarn: here you are requested to keep to the track, so as not to trample the fragile alpine vegetation. The track descends gently to Lake Rodway and Scott Kilvert Hut.

The hut itself is a sizeable A-frame, with a roomy kitchen below, equipped with a coal heater (the supply of coal and kindling is variable, depending on how recently rangers have been able to visit the hut), and a large dormitory area upstairs. Tank water is available, and a composting toilet is discreetly located 100 metres or so away.

The views around the hut are magnificent, and, judging by the Visitor's Book entries, it is visited by maybe two or three people at a time. We had the hut to ourselves that night, apart from some visiting wallabies and pademelons.

Returning the next day, we returned the way we had come, to the Ranger Hut junction, where we opted to cut across the Face Track, and thence down to Dove Lake Circuit and the carpark. Oh, Lord.

I had no idea the Face Track was so high up on the mountain! We were numb with exhaustion and terror most of the way, but by the time we reached the junction to take the short way down to Dove Lake, we had found our "mountain legs", and were really quite enjoying the view.

The climb down, using chains to make our way down almost-cliffs of bare quartzite, should have been the most terrifying of all, but we actually enjoyed it immensely, as you can see in this short video diary.

Excuse the shaky camera work: my professional camera is too heavy to carry on long walks, and it's pretty hard to hold a palmcorder steady when you're gasping and wheezing after a long climb!

(X-posted to my personal journal, and a couple of communities)

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Valley of the singing gold [19 Apr 2009|11:31pm]

[ mood | accomplished ]

Land of the Valley of Singing Gold, that was it, once upon a time. ~ The Lord of the Rings

Nothofagus Gunnii, also known as the Tanglefoot Beech, or most commonly as "Fagus", to Tasmanians, is a small (usually 1-2m) deciduous tree endemic to Tasmania, and the only native deciduous tree in Australia.

the autumn colours of the fagus are a pilgrimage for Tasmanian walkersCollapse )

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Useful Recycling [14 Apr 2009|11:29pm]

[ mood | cold ]

I've noticed a lot of outdoors shops selling small plastic bottles, for storing those sort of liquid supplies like cooking oil, sunscreen, maybe some sauces, etc. They're not that expensive, but it still seems like a bit of a waste to me when you're probably throwing away a perfectly good substitute.

Plastic pill and medicine bottles are fantastic for reusing for walking. They're waterproof, and the perfect size for carrying small amounts of whatever.

I just wash mine thoroughly with detergent, and soak the labels off. I usually have to use a bit of eucalyptus oil to get the labels off properly.

Here's some of the small collection that I'm using:

An old-school trick used to be to re-use plastic film canisters for keeping matches dry, but the advent of digital cameras has put paid to that one. Luckily I've still got a few that I've kept for years - it came in handy just over Easter, actually, when the box of matches got wet.

**** EDIT ****

In response to some concerns properly raised about the safety of reusing materials as food containers, I have found some relevant information.

The plastics concerned are HDPE (high-density polyethylene), which is used for anything from medicines, to detergents and milk. Material I found on the web suggested that the primary danger with reusing these plastic bottles is from not washing them properly, leading to bacterial contamination.

Leaching of potentially toxic or carcinogenic chemicals didn't seem to be a problem.

According to one report:

Additives in LDPE (low-density polyethylene) & HDPE (high-density polyethylene) are primarily antioxidants, such as Irganox or BHT2. There is little information on the toxicity (inluding endocrine disruption) of these compounds, but we could find no evidence of toxicity. There is some evidence that they are not endocrine disruptors or estrogen mimics.

"polyalkylated, hindered phenols like BHT and Irganox 1640 (Ciba-Geigy, Basel, Switzerland) are not estrogenic, while being effective antioxidants..."

Interestingly, there is some recent work developing tocopherols (Vitamin E) as antioxidants for HDPE & LDPE.

Migration into water and food substances have been measured for these antioxidants, generally at higher temperatures than experienced in normal use. At high temperatures, and especially with fatty or oily foods, there is considerable loss of antioxidants. These plastics should thus be used primarily with cold water, to reduce migration to a minimum. Washing agents and other substances used in the manufacture of the polymer may be present, but can be removed with thorough washing of the new plastic product. HDPE generally exhibits the least migration of antioxidants.

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Bushwalking and bushfires [30 Mar 2009|11:53pm]

[ mood | sick ]

This post is mostly culled from a thread on the bushwalk Tasmania forum. Some of the material was from me, some from others; I’ve distilled both into a single post.

In her famous poem, A sunburnt country, Dorothea McKellar spoke of the Australian landscape, and “her beauty and her terror”. Anyone who’s ever confronted a bushfire will know exactly what she meant.

The extraordinary beauty of the Australian bush is what drives us to pursue this strange pursuit, bushwalking, but when it erupts in bushfire, then we truly witness her terror. To be confronted by bushfire when out walking, far from roads or communication, then the fear would be paralysing.
What should a walker do, when confronted with a raging bushfire?Collapse )
Thanks to red tag, Wet, the_camera_poser, tastrax, woka, Son of a Beach and Robbo, who all contributed to the original bushwalk Tasmania thread that inspired this post.

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The Land Of Smoke [31 Mar 2008|09:48pm]

[ mood | sad ]

As I write this, everything around me is blanketed by a pall of smoke. Three hours drive west of my home, the Tarkine wilderness is burning.

Tasmanian politics being what they are, official communications are still calling it the “Savage River fire”, which in its strictest sense is true: The fire is burning in the area of the Savage River. Everyone in Tasmania, though, knows that area as the Tarkine.

The Tarkine is a wilderness that dare not speak its name in Tasmania. A name that is so deeply rooted in the heated environmental politics of this state, that our forestry-dependent government simply cannot bring itself to utter it.

The name “Tarkine” was coined by environmentalists in the 1980s, named after the aboriginal people of the area. It is a renowned area of wilderness encompassing a great deal of the north-west quadrant of Tasmania, home to extensive tracts of rare temperate rainforest as well as stands of the famous, and heavily protected, Huon pine.

The campaign to protect the Tarkine began in the 1960s, and intensified over the ensuing decades, arguably peaking in 1995 when the state government constructed the infamous “road to nowhere”. Construction of the road was supposed to open the area to tourism, but environmentalists claimed a more sinister agenda; to lay the infrastructure for forestry and mining. It was also argued that building the road would subject the Tarkine to an unacceptably greater risk of bushfire, from vehicle emissions and increased human activity.

Environmentalists’ dire predictions have, alas, been borne out.

The Tarkine fire was started by an SUV driver who had crashed his vehicle and was unable to decide in which direction the road led out. In what would seem to be an appalling act of environmental vandalism, he then deliberately lit a bushfire to attract attention.

The entire state was at the time under a total fire ban.

Days later, the fire has mostly been contained, but it is as yet unknown how much damage has been done to the Tarkine.

Official reports have been relatively upbeat, but environmental groups haven’t yet made their own assessment. Roads are still closed to the public.

It is known that the fire burnt out huge areas of buttongrass plain, which should recover quickly. If, however, the fire has destroyed large areas of rainforest or Huon pine, the damage could take decades, if not centuries, to be repaired.

The role of fire in environmental management is a contentious issue in Australia. As someone who cares deeply about the Australian environment, and also as a volunteer firefighter, I have mixed feelings about fire. I do not believe that fire, and so-called “fuel reduction burns” are a blanket solution, but I also do not believe that we should bend all our efforts to preventing fire at all costs.

It is a difficult concept to embrace, but it is indisputable that much of Australia’s environment is truly a man-made artifact. From very soon after their arrival on this continent, humans set in train a pattern of burning that altered the very ecology of the land. Vast areas of rainforest gave way to much drier, open forests and plains. Many plants became deeply dependent on fire as part of their life cycle.

Captain Cook in 1770 made repeated references to sighting smoke and fires during his 1770 exploration of Australia’s east coast,

The arrival of Europeans in 1788 began another seismic shift in the role of fire in the Australian environment. The millennia-old aboriginal practices of “fire stick farming” quickly vanished, and the ecology altered accordingly.

Areas that Cook had described as looking like an English park - great grasslands dotted sparsely with trees - became densely forested, and the pattern of frequent, small and relatively cool fires altered to one of occasional, massive and destructively hot fires.

“Fuel reduction burning” is now the favourite topic of tub-thumping media commentators, with mendacious “greenies” blamed for allowing “the bush” to overgrow, causing the massive fires of the past decade.

The truth, as always, is much more complex. In some environments, fuel reduction burning is appropriate; in others, it is not. Some environments rely on fire. As Country Fire Authority (CFA) captain Billy Bubb, a veteran of the notorious Ash Wednesday fires and a near-legend among CFA volunteers, once said to me: “The bush loves a burn”.

He was, however, talking of the forests around his home in the Otway Ranges of south-eastern Australia. In this case, he was entirely correct. But in other environments, even ones adjoining the Otways, the use of fire is not always an appropriate tool of land management.

Even in areas where it is appropriate, managing fire is still a difficult and challenging task – one that is not made easy by the encroachment of suburbia into bushland.

As Jared Diamond has noted in his book “Collapse”, the efforts of the US Forestry Service are frequently hampered by often city-based property owners distressed at seeing forest fires burning around their weekend country retreats. Lawsuits over any property damage are quick to follow.

But managing even a “controlled burn” is not an easy task, something I know from personal experience. Having participated in even relatively small-scale burns around my home town, I have seen not only the numerous delays as Incident Controllers anxiously wait for exactly the right weather conditions, but also just how easily fires can escape control efforts even under optimal conditions.

Fire is undoubtably an essential land management tool in many parts of Australia. Establishing just which Australian environments are suitable for “firestick farming”, and just how to go about it, is one of the many environmental challenges that Australia faces, with increasing urgency, in the coming decades.

To quote a National Parks officer overseeing the introduction of fire management in Queensland: “Even with satellite surveillance and modern fire-fighting technology, we’re only just beginning to approach the expertise the Aborigines had with just bare feet and firesticks”.

X-posted to my journal and a couple of communities

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Reccomendations? [07 Jan 2008|09:35pm]

I'm planning a hike in the Blue Mountains (NSW) for a few days, and I'm wondering if anyone can give me some trails that they've done or heard of? Easy-moderate would be preferable.

Also, I've created a community called trek_rec if anyone has any trails to recommend, stories to tell, advice to give...

Thanks guys!

~ Sapph.
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Drys Bluff, Tasmania [23 Oct 2007|11:34am]

[ mood | accomplished ]

Looking down for miles
Through high still air.

Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout
~ Gary Snyder

This is the start of the walk to the top of Drys Bluff, in the Western Tiers of Tasmania. At the top, shown by the arrow, is the amazing cascade in the second photo.

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New member - new journal [11 Sep 2007|11:04pm]

Hi Everyone,

I've just joined this community, and also started up a new blog dedicated to me and my family's adventures in the wilds of beautiful Tasmania. It's pretty threadbare right now, but I'll be filling it up with not just a journal of our bushwalking exploits, but also track notes, advice, and lots of photos!

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Looking for 200-300 km hikes... [22 May 2007|07:22pm]

Hello, I'm an American trying to plan a two week or so through hike in Australia. I'm going to be studying abroad in Byron Bay starting August 31 but want to do a hike on my own. I know next to nothing about trails in Australia so if anyone could recommend any good ones, I'd appreciate it. I'm a pretty experienced hiker so I was thinking 200-300 km over two weeks. I'm pretty open to location, just so long as I can somehow make my way to Byron Bay by August 31.

Also, I thought about maybe hiking in New Zealand. Any good hikes there?

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New Victorian Community [17 Feb 2006|12:31am]

I just created a new community for outdoors activities in Victoria, join if your interested.

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Photos from Mt Cook National Park, New Zealand [19 Jan 2006|11:14am]

Photos from Ball Pass trekCollapse )
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Tali Karng [27 Dec 2005|11:04pm]

Photos from my trip with my sister last week to lake Tali KarngCollapse )
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New Member. [06 Dec 2005|10:33am]

Hi there. I'm a Melburnian with a great love of the outdoors. Pleased to join your community.

I'm also a huge dog (and animal) lover. For this reason I have created two communities: dogs_australia and pets_australia. Please feel free to join, even if you don't have a dog/pet and are simply interested in photos.

Anyway. I have a question for you all.

I'm constantly trying to find different places to walk my dog in Melbourne/Victoria. I'd prefer not to have to leash her, but will if neccessary and am looking for something with a bush feel. Anyone have any ideas?


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Partner in Climb!!! [06 Dec 2005|04:07pm]

I am new to this community....
I did a small bit of rock climbing a few years ago...and loved it so much I bought a bit of gear...shoes, ropes, harness...unfortunately it doent get used anymore as I dont really know anyone to go climbing with...
If there are some patient peoples out there who would be willing to go on a trip around vic and give me some lessons in climbing in exchange for a happy camper co. and much adoration for your expertise I would be most graciously greatful!!!!
I am a woman and pref groups....no funny stuff in da bush mate!
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Mt Franklin Gorge [06 Sep 2005|03:01pm]

Mt Franklin GorgeCollapse )
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Any Sea Kayakers here? [02 Sep 2005|08:20pm]

Anyone here into Sea Kayaking? I'm really keen to try this out over summer and have been scouring the 'net trying to find a good weekend course. These guys look OK so far.

So anyone else ever gone? Any thoughts, ideas, horror stories, etc...
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Impulse buying [01 Sep 2005|03:39pm]

This morning I went in to Paddy Pallin's to buy this

and walked out with this

Now I have to go camping :)
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Going solo... [14 Jul 2005|05:54pm]

Anyone gone bushwalking by themselves, alone? How was it? Any thoughts?
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Caving at bungonia [13 Jul 2005|08:02pm]

10 hours of last weekend for me was spent in a cave at Bungonia (near Goulburn). Interesting activity to undertake, seeing as it had been raining for about a week straight. We didnt expect to meet a river!!!

The first abseil took us down 150ft, shortly followed by another 30ft pitch which we trailed hand ladders down. At the 100ft mark the water started dripping on us from the roof so we were almost drenched from the start. I got to see a solitary bentwing bat, which satisfied my intention of the cave in the first place, although i really did have to try very hard to stop myself from prying it off the wall and squeezing it! So very cute! After the first chamber we met the river. It wasnt very powerful, but possessed the ability to make the ensuing hours very uncomfortable. The squeeze was my favourite, though i cheated and used kneepads :) I find claustrophobia is so much easier to deal with if you know that the narrow parts eventually open up.

A few more abseils and we were as far as we could go without submerging ourselves into the last wet squeeze. By this time i realised it was about 6:00pm and it would be getting mighty cold soon. I wasn't really dressed for dying of hypothermia (a drenched cotton hoodie CAN in fact kill you). So as we made our way back it became evident to me that getting out of the cave would not be pleasant. The first ascent back was about 10m, which we used ascenders for (i dont know their real name, something like Dugong?). I had never used them before, which added ot the difficulty of climbing back up a waterfall!!! Then we decided to do a nice underground climb up the next pitch (another waterfall, very refreshing!). I spent an hour or so sitting at the bottom of the epic pitch of 150ft, looking straight up at the ladder that disappeared into the black, watching the experienced team members climb it with difficulty. I realised it must have been raining outside as there was a dribble coming down the ladder over the rock. That climb took soooo much out of me. So much that my arms still hurt, 4 days later. I got out of the cave into the (very) fresh air, and waited for the second to come up the last stretch of ladder. I was ordered to go back to the car before i died but i wasnt allowed to get in it because the dude wanted to protect his upholstery and i was covered in mud blah blah blah...
I got back to the car, took all my clothes off and sat i the emergency blanket with the heater on full blast til my feet almost burned. Then everyone came back and we all sat in the car, half clothed, and drank green ginger wine and ate chips for an hour :) most fun caving trip ever! I didnt have it in me to do another cave the next day tho, i really would've loved to, but i had to go to work all munted from such a great trip!
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Hiking at the Grampians - Mt Rosea [21 Jun 2005|01:37pm]

On Friday I went on a hike with the RMIT Outdoors club to the Grampians again. This time it was meant to be a proper hike with packs and all. We left on friday night stopping at Ballarat for pizza and garlic butter covered chips invented by Billy and James. We camped at Burrough huts .it was a freezing cold night but I was still able to sleep most of the time. It doesn't get really cold until about 4am then you freeze, mostly your face. The next morning we got up at about 9am and packed everything up. We took one car to the wonderland carpark and headed off from there. First we went up to the pinnacle which is a 2.1km walk but it took us 2 hours because it all up hill and over rocks. As we walked up we were surrounded by mist, which make for some very nice photos. At the top it was completely clouded over when we got there but we hung around for a while and did the nerve test.


Billy was the first one up there, even he took it slowly at first and sat down the whole way. James did it easily then Madi and the other two girls did it. Since the I was the only one left, I had to do it. The hardest thing when you are up there is just taking a step. On either side you have a 10 meter drop, and you just have to force yourself to go forward. I made it about half way and had to sit down for the rest of it. If you fell you would break something for sure and you would probably need a helicopter to get you down. Its actually worse watching other people do it, because you have no control of what happens, all you could do is watch them fall. Here is me doing the nerve test


By the time we had all done it the weather had cleared up and now we could see the view from the top.


Now we headed downhill for the Sundial carpark and then Mt Rosea Camp ground were would have lunch. The walk up to the Camp ground was tough, we walked for 25 minutes continuously up a pretty steep hill. After lunch we headed up to the peak of Mt Rosea. After about a couple of hours of mostly uphill we got to the top, were you have a 360 degree view of the grampians. If only I had panorama


At this stage it was getting late, 4pm and we had not worked out where we would camp. Burrough huts camp ground was 5km away but Billy and a few others wanted to bush camp somewhere rather than go back to the camp site. The only problem was that we need to find water because we didn't have enough for everyone. We new that there was a couple of four wheel drive tracks that crossed the walking track and these might be good places to camp but we didn't know where we could find water. We stopped at the first four wheel drive track and we split up into two groups and search for water up, after about 30mins of searching we found nothing but Madi and I crossed the second four wheel drive track which was a nice place to camp. It had room for 3 tents easily and it would be possible to have a fire there even. The only problem was we couldn't find water anywhere. By this time it was dark and we decided to head back to burrough huts camp ground. We tried to go back via the four wheel drive track that turned out to be a very very steep downhill for at least one or two kms. This was difficult with packs and it took us a couple of hours to get back to the camp ground at about 7:30pm.

Billy and James decided to go gourmet with there dinner, beef and pork stroganoff with rice or something like that and they even had soup (Even though the soup tasted like wet socks). Billy had also carried 2 litres of port the entire day thinking we wouldn't be back at the car for the night. The rest of us had simple meals basically pasta. It started raining at this stage and we got the fire going to keep warm. Then the port and some strongbows we had in the car came out for a night of entertainment, basically Billy telling us about all the things he has done with his girlfriend. We played a game called "I have never" where you say "I have never" and then something you have never done and if someone has done that then they have to drink. We got bored of this after a while and changed it to "I have" :). Oh yeah this was all after the "Guess the person game" which is basically like "20 questions".

The next morning the girls said they couldn't sleep all night because they were aching everywhere and they got up and sat in the car while the rest of us slept. Some nice rosellas where hanging around in the morning and even a kookaburra

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