Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pervert, Sicko.

Of course you dont need a motorbike for successful Geocaching..but its as good an excuse as any to go buy one...

An early morning up on a nearby mountain searching for a cache...yes, it was cold!

If you saw someone hiding in the bushes, what would you think?
Pervert, Sicko?
Don’t worry; it’s probably just a Geocacher.

Over many months of Geocaching I’ve been caught searching in the bushes a number of times. I wonder just what people think when they see a grown man skulking in the bushes, especially when he begins to act all nonchalant as soon as he’s been seen, geocaching after all, is supposed to be secret.
In Port Augusta (Southern Australia) there is a simple cache in a public garden right in front of two story motel units, the site is visible not only from the kitchens and top story bedrooms of about eight units but also from two public walkways by the ocean and two busy bridges as well as from across the water a couple of hundred metres to the opposite bank.
I’ve tried to find this particular cache three times but each time I’ve had to abandon the search because of people watching me…so what to do?
Plan B is to get myself dressed up as a council worker with the usual bright orange vest, white hat and blue trousers of the local council and search again. I’m thinking, dressed like that, I will probably attract no attention at all…unless real council workers turn up to find out what I’m doing… A friend suggests that searching earnestly will tip people off as local council workers don’t actually seem to do much work.

There are some joke caches of which I've come across a couple, one is on an island with no way to get there. The owner suggests either an inflatable air bed (LiLo) or a kayak. The water is quite shallow so even a small boat will get stuck in the thick mud and although it looks safe to walk, it’s knee deep swamp mud.
Another can only be accessed by walking across a rail bridge 100 yards in the air. The gap between the sleepers is very disconcerting as you look down into the precipice. Yes, I was foolish/brave enough to do that one…
Every Geocache has to be vetted and passed by an expert cacher, but our local expert is 1800 miles away and has no sense of humour. (Gee!.. I hope the ‘Ump’ doesn’t read my blog)
The Ump has knocked back some of my caches because I’ve put in a one line joke and made me remove anything funny before he allows it to be posted. Obviously then, you cant tell people it’s a joke cache or put hints on your cache page so you just have to let people find out for themselves or tell them when they send you an email asking… ‘WTF?’

I often go Geocaching with a friend who does not seem to get the whole ‘secret’ part of caching. Recently we were way out in the bush searching out a cache, we found it and I’d already signed it then wondered away to take a photo of a nearby mountain range. Suddenly I heard a noise and looked around to see a 4WD with 4 men approaching. I yelled out to Kev to hide the cache and went back to filming so as to keep their attention away from what Kev was doing. After a few seconds I looked back to see that he’d only put the cache at his feet and continued to write in the log in full view of the men in the car. The men turned out to be fox shooters who stopped to unload and put their guns away and spent several minutes packing and organizing their stuff while Kev casually finished writing, packed the cache and put it back where it had been hidden.
Now we men have a very good way of hiding our covert activities, we can simply turn away, put our hands near our waists and pretend to be taking a pee. Other men look away because no man wants to be seen taking an interest in another man urinating, and women giggle and make bad jokes to each other…works every time!
That’s what Kev should have done after dropping the cache into the grass so it couldn’t be seen, we could always come back later… I wonder if that cache is still there.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Flinders Ranges

A long time favorite for our family holidays has always been the iconic Flinders Ranges in South Australia.
I've spent a lot of time and heaps of fuel exploring the area and of course I’ve only seen a tiny bit of the whole.
This area was sea bed 600 million years ago and only recently (over the past few million years) it’s been upended into a small but still growing range of mountains. Here you will see the marks left by lapping waves on the shoreline millions of years ago, now at the top of mountains.
This trip was to try out a new camera and to check the state of the area after the wettest winter for many, many years. The camera part of the trip was a failure, or rather; I failed to work out the new machine…just yet! This camera replaced a very good machine that was state of the art when I bought it 6 yrs ago. I wanted more zoom and more mega pixels, I got both and whole lot more besides, it will take a while to get used to the new level of complexity. (my way of saying I’m going to stuff up a lot more pics)
There's nothing worse than getting home full of expectation only to find most of your photos just not living up to your lofty hopes.
We did a few Geocaches on the way to and from and did Pitchi Richi Pass (wags like to paint out the first letter of each word on the road signs) Quorn, Warrens Gorge, Yarra Vale, Willochra back to Quorn then on to Bruce, Willmington, Horrocks Pass and back home. Phew!
Warrens Gorge is as green as it’s ever been and I got my first chance ever to film a rare and endangered Brush Tailed Wallaby with a Joey. I got just two bad shots, very unsatisfying.
Leaving Warrens Gorge I made the mistake of believing my GPS which claimed there was a major link road between us and the Hawker Highway thirty miles away.
I always wondered where all those small steams went that pour out of the mountains when it rains here… Turns out they empty onto the Willochra Plains, a vast flat expanse between two ranges of mountains. The plains are mainly silt washed from the mountains on both sides and with just a little rain it turns to clinging mud.
We followed a 4WD off the ridge of one range down onto the plains on a road which quickly became a goat track. Slipping and sliding from one side of the road to the other, only held online by the small embankments at each side of the road. My Ford towing a trailer full of camping equipment made it all the harder for us.
Down through thick mud and large expanses of water over the road with nothing to guide us but the weeds growing at roadside sticking up through the water.
Several creek crossings where there was nothing for it but to power through and hope there were no big holes hidden by the muddy water. Ahead the 4WD chose to leave the track to go around a large waterhole, I knew he’d made a mistake… the road is packed by cars into the hardest path, water or no water. I powered through, slipping and sliding but the big Ford clawed its way through and out the other side, a little sideways but still moving forward. I couldn’t stop until I found near solid ground another hundred yards on; by this time the 4WD was stuck fast and throwing mud in all directions. They stuffed branches under the tires and with a little too-ing and fro-ing they reversed out and came through the waterhole as we had.
As we continued on we discussed how much food and water we had, and how long we could make it last should the worst happen, but every mile forward was a mile closer to the tar road and salvation. We could see cars on the highway in the distance, first twenty miles, then fifteen and eventually we could see the colours and types of cars, we consoled ourselves that it was now only walking distance….
Just 100 yards from the tar we found a grave and the cache we came for…perhaps we should have used the highway?!
Returning to Quorn via the highway we headed for Bruce, a very small rail town in the middle of nowhere down a long straight dirt road. Coming over a small rise at 50 mph I had to slide to a stop to prevent going into a swollen creek across the road. There was no crossing this one… trying to find a way around we followed the damn GPS again and ended up bushed (lost) in muddy fields. We never did get to Bruce and the cache there, but we came within a mile of it, halted only by the creek. (no extra points for that)
We placed a roadside cache called ‘Galah’ just before Wilmington township and found a few local caches before heading homeward through Horrocks Pass.
My traveling companion has apparently led a sheltered life as he refers to the trip as high adventure and a string of near misses.
These were far from the only adventures of the trip, but perhaps the most memorable…. But then, there's always next weekend!

Photos of the trip can be seen at my Flickr site…


Sunday, September 12, 2010

It could have happened to anyone…Right?!

We’ve had a lot of rain recently...heaps!
Not rain like the rest of the world knows rain… but around 40mm (1 1/2in) in a week. That’s a lot for southern Australia, and because the land is pretty much flat, we actually got some flooding.
Flooding here is not like flooding in the rest of the world either… Flooding here is a wide expanse of water over roads etc, sometimes a foot deep. A whole foot! (you can stop laughing now)

Going back a few weeks, a friend had borrowed my trailer to pick up some horse poo for his garden and to pay me back he kindly returned the trailer full of said horse poo. I barrowed most of it around to the back garden but left a couple of wheelbarrows full to tuck neatly under the shrubs in my neatly graveled front yard. (we don’t have grass here, it’s too dry) Then the rains came….
Hands up all those who knew that horse poo floats?………..
OK smarties...well I didn’t!
With my front yard under almost an inch of water the horse poo spread out to cover most of the yard. After a few hours the water receded gently leaving it spread perfectly across the yard.
So it was that I found myself with garden rake in hand in the light drizzle raking the poo back where it belonged...under the shrubs. You can imagine how wet my runners got from this adventure. . and the smell? Don’t even ask!
I rinsed them clean and knowing that I needed them the next day I put them in the oven and turned it on just a tiny little bit.
A few hours later when I checked, they were still cold and wet, so I turned the oven up, just a tiny little bit… unbelievably; they were still cold when I checked them later. I turned up the oven just a tiny little bit.
One thing led to another, things happened (no ones fault) ..and I went to bed having completely forgotten the shoes in the oven.
Early next morning when I went into the kitchen I instantly noticed a warm musty smell, my eyes were drawn to the oven…the light was on. I opened the oven to find my runners dripping between the shelves, a mixture of melted plastic and scorched leather…
I didn’t tell my girls about this cause I think they’re planning to put me in an old farts home at the first opportunity, instead I put on another pair and went shopping…no one need ever know.. Shhh!

Speaking of my girls.
My oldest daughter (D1) had borrowed yet another mobile phone and stopped in at one of the others girls houses to get her slow cooker back. (crock pot)
D1 and D3 have had perhaps 25 phones between them in a couple of years.
She shopped on the way home and had to do the usual juggling act to get it all into the house in one trip. (as you do)
Once in the house she quickly plugged the slow cooker in to warm up while she peeled and cut vegetables, poured in stock and diced meat for the evening meal.
She had to rush a bit because slow cookers are …well, kind of slow!
With the evening meal in and cooking she tidied up the kitchen and decided to make a call. It was about here that she realized she hadn’t seen her mobile for some time.
She searched the scrap bin, the empty shopping bags, her bottomless handbag (whats with women and their bags anyway?)
Eventually she found her way outside to check the most obvious place of all, the car.
Nope, not there either!
Tracing her steps in her head she remembered having the phone in the shop…in the car.. in her hand as she struggled to load everything for the trip to the kitchen…
..a dark thought crossed her mind and so she went to check.
Scooping around in the now half cooked evening meal she found a slightly charred, slightly twisted phone in the bottom, right where she’d put it as she scrambled about in her bag for the front door keys.

We still give her shit about her ‘Nokia soup’
I’ve got an excuse because I’m old..but D1 at just 27…..


Friday, September 3, 2010

Glen Forest

One of my favorite places is Glen Forest Farm near Port Lincoln in South Australia.
It’s a tourist farm that specializes in close encounters with native animals and I’ve been bringing my girls here for many years. These days my girls are mothers themselves and we still like to visit now and then to expose the grandkids to the experience.
D3 (my youngest) took her own son recently for his first visit, as you can see, he had the best time. We also took her daughter (miss 2) who didn’t like the animals one bit….It will be better next time. She did provide many good laughs though as she freaked every time an animal came close. At one point a huge, nasty, vicious Budgerigar landed on her knee which had her convinced she was in danger of her life.
I’ve known the Kangaroos pictured since many of them were joeys themselves and now they have their own young. These are Wallabies or Euros which live in scrub or bushland and are similar but smaller than the much larger Red and Blue desert Kangaroos. As you can see they’re really quite friendly as are most Roos, so long as you don’t corner or threaten them.
Kangaroos have a sweet tooth and we always bring some dried fruit mixed with grain and animal pellets, this ensures you get plenty of new friends. The fences you see are to prevent the Roos following you around all day, not to lock them up in any way. They have safe places they can retreat to if they feel uneasy or threatened. (Usually by unsupervised children)
Of course you will be familiar with news stories of Roos kicking the shit out of people, but this only ever happens if they are mistreated or cornered. Kangaroos can’t hop or walk backwards so if you get in their face or surround them they panic with unfortunate results.
The aviary at Glen Forest is huge to say the least, about eight years ago there was a huge fire in the area with many people lost to the flames, smoke suffocated the parks thousands of birds before they could be released. It’s taken a long time to breed up the birds again and there is still a long way to go but what birds there are have already become friendly. The parrots you see all prefer the dried fruit mix and are happy to land all over you to get at the food treats. With a full belly they sit and preen your hair for ages, parting the strands and untangling any knots with great dexterity.
D3 has loved the aviary since her first time here when she was four (18 years ago) and she’s happy to sit for hours with the birds making friends and feeding them. Many of these birds are still quite shy, but in the end they all come to her for a feed.
There are many more animals including Emu, Dingo, Koala, Bulls, Cows, Buffalo, Camel, Peacock, Rabbits etc, etc. A more complete set of pics can be seen at my Flickr site if you’re interested.