Wednesday, October 31, 2007

spooky possums...

I love a coincidence. Especially a travel related one.

About 6 or 7 years ago a good friend of mine took his first ever overseas trip. He went to London as having an English mother meant he could get some sort of residency visa there.

He knew no-one in London except for an English visitor he met briefly one night in a pub in Sydney. He had mentioned to this fellow his intention to go to the UK and this fellow had said "Well if you do you can stay on my couch if you need to when you first arrive."

So thats what my friend did. (So only make that sort of offer if you really mean it!)

On his first night in London he went out for a drink. He got chatting to a fellow at the bar when he was ordering a beer, and this fellow, recognising my mates accent, asked where he was from in Australia.

"Sydney mate"

"Oh yeah? I lived there for about 18 months or so years ago."

So they got chatting. My mate mentions he is currently on someones couch until he finds a place to live an Lo! and behold, this fellow in the bar says:

"What luck - my flatmate moved out today - wanna rent his room?"

So he did. The very next day.

So there he was quite happily renting a room in Brixton in Sarf London. A couple of weeks in and one day he's idly perusing books on the bookcase when he pulls down one for a bit of a butchers.

He opens up the cover and there on the flyleaf is written MY NAME!

Somewhat startled by this event he asks the flat owner

"Why is Terry's name in this book?"

"Oh - he rented your room 10 years ago!"

In 1990 when I was on a years travel and headed for Iraq, Saddam Hussein inconveniently invaded Kuwait and buggered up my plans. At a loss as to what to do next as my Middle East itinerary was up the chute, I headed to London and found, through a series of tenuous connections, the aforementioned room in Brixton.

With 12 million people living in Greater London, and hundreds of thousands of flats - what are the chances of my mate ending up in the same bloody room that I rented?

(Now can you hear the "do-do-do-do do-do-do-do" music in your head?)


Two of my London flatmates in Brixton, 1990
L: Gwen with my birthday cake. (If it looks like a swiss roll with a household candle in it thats because it is) R: Delpha Clutterbuck. (I just LOVE that name).


Gwen and Siobhan in the kitchen,(where most of the fun was usually had).


Our Street. (Well - it was almost like this.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

a killer ride

30th May 1990
I was heading south-west through central Turkey on route to Goreme, a town in the spectacular region of Cappadocia. This entailed a change of bus at the town of Kayseri. Unfortunately when I arrived at Kayseri I discovered there was no further bus to my destination that evening.

It was already about 9pm and dark, but my annoyance (more with myself for not having pre-planned a little better) at not being able to get where I wanted caused me to (rather rashly) attempt to hitchhike the 140 kms to my preferred destination.

About 4kms along the highway, in complete darkness in the middle of Turkey carrying a huge backpack with an enormous neon sign flashing "bloody idiot tourist" I suddenly came to my senses.

I 'about-turned' and headed back and managed to flag down a taxi - or at least he said he was a taxi even though there was no 'taxi' sign visible.

I told Mehmet that I needed a hotel. Kayseri is not a tourist town and therefore hotels were in scant supply. Mehmet drove around stopping at several 'business' hotels which were all full.

We chatted as he drove. At one point I commented on how well he spoke English and asked if he had learnt it at school. "Oh no" he replied "In prison".

Mentally I said to myself "no, don't ask...you don't need to know...it's none of your business...dont say anything"..

"Uh...so why exactly were you in prison?"

"I kill a man."

Soon after he stopped outside a building which loooked more like a Narcotics Anonymous drop-in centre and disappeared inside.

"They have room. $5. Go in room and lock door. Stay there until morning. You OK"

So I did. And I was.
(Though I did drag a chest of drawers against the door before going to sleep as I didn't want to trust entirely to the three locks already on the bedroom door.


My only photo of Kayseri.
Too nervous exposing a camera while there.


A closer view (courtesy of www) of the mountain on the outskirts of town.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

r.i.p. mate


Paul and I cycling through Germany 1986


Paul and his wheels 1991

Today is the day 13 years ago that Paul died. He was one of my closest friends. He was the one who first got me interested in bushwalking. He had me join the bushwalking club he was a member of and we went on some incredible 7 - 10 day walks, such as in the Budawangs and through the Snowy Mountains National Park.

He and I cycled around Europe together in 1986 and I know he would love some of the places I have been to since he died. I think a lot of why I now travel so earnestly is as much for him as for me.

He would be 45 years old now.

further tales

I think I will continue to add to this blog with short travel anecdotes from the many trips I have done. I usually keep a travel diary when I'm abroad, sometimes quite detailed in its observations other times little more than point form. I think I will enjoy digging out some of those diaries and extracting various snippets and retelling them from a current perspective. You dont have to read them!

Just to put some chronological perspective on these tales, here is a brief overview of my travels:

1971 Canary Islands, South Africa., Australia
(5 weeks)

1977 – 1978 England, Wales, Scotland, France, Belgium and Holland.
(18 months includes working)

1981 – 1982 England, Scotland, Holland, France, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Luxembourg.
(6 months)

1984 New Zealand (1 week)

1986 Japan, Switzerland, England, Scotland,
Ireland, Wales, Norway, Sweden, Denmark,
Germany, Holland, Belgium, France,
Luxembourg. (12 months – 6 months cycling)

1990 America, Canada, Greece, Turkey,
Bulgaria, Romania,Hungary, Germany,
Belgium, Norway, England, Italy,
Yugoslavia, Switzerland. (12 months)

1993 Norway, England, Nepal, Vietnam,
Thailand, Philippines. (5 months)

1994 Vietnam (1 month)

1995 Norway, England, Germany, France.
(4 months)

1996 Jordan (1 month)

1998 America, Peru, Bolivia, England, Norway,
France. (2 months)

2001 America, England, Norway, Czech
Republic, Italy. (6 weeks)
Central Australia (2 weeks)

2002 China, Tibet, Nepal, Norway, England,
Canada, America.(2 months)

2003 India and Cambodia (6 weeks)

2004 Egypt and Syria (1 month)

2006 Kakadu and Katherine Gorge, N.T.,
Australia (2 weeks)

2007 Iceland, Norway, England, Mexico, Cuba,
Belize, Guatemala, America (7 weeks)
Tasmania (2 weeks)



Las Palmas 1971. The family abroad.
(me far right)

My recollections of this exotic location are somewhat sketchy. My mother brought a ring-watch with a dial so small you'd need the Hubble telescope to see the date, a mango was bought and eaten (but not by me) and the place was filled with damned foreigners who refused to speak English. But you have to admire my sartorial elegance and the jaunty, somewhat affected way I wore my sombrero. I have retained this heightened fashion aesthetic to this day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

some more photos

(**click pix for larger fix)


launceston airport - no carousel here for luggage - it comes out on a string of trollies and everyone rushed them like january sales.


very english looking houses in lonny.


more lonny gorge.


gorge again.


told ya.


cradle mountain - can you see the man and the hut?


waterfall valley hut - looks pretty eh? (pretty bloody cold).


from inside the hut, snow easing off.


looking a bit sans-gorm here.


up on pelion gap with the sun out.


snowing again.


the snow has a way of 'flattening' the landscape. Visual depth is lost.


snow is quite deep on the track here.


heading towards the rainforest.


track near pine valley hut.


snow falling again.


view by Narcissus hut.


east coast - eaglehawks neck.


how green was the valley - port arthur.


coles bay sunrise.


freycinet panorama.


freycinet rocks heading up to wineglass bay lookout.


wineglass bay.


near hazards beach.


terry - just for scale.


ben lomond and pastures.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

dove lake

I've stitched together 4 photos of Dove Lake taken from the top of Marions Peak.
Hope you like.


(click for larger version)

*I will hopefully be adding more photos from Tasmania soon so come back again if you are interested.

celebration

My birthday on the 2nd October in the Waterfall Valley Hut, Cradle Mountain. The only illumination was from our head lamps - sure beats three tables pushed together in a Thai restaurant.

video

Saturday, October 13, 2007

morning gloria

While in Hobart I managed to meet and have a chat with Gloria Petyarre and Barbara Weir. Gloria didn't talk much.


Terry with Gloria Petyarre and Barbara Weir

Friday, October 12, 2007

east coast

Mike (from the walk) and I hired a little red tin can in Hobart for a few days so we could explore a little of the East coast.

After whizzing up Mt Wellington which forms the backdrop to Hobart, and not being able to see much from the summit because of cloud, we headed for Port Arthur. On the way we passed Eaglehawk Neck which provided some great ocean views.


Near Eaglehawk Neck


Port Arthur was interesting, especially as I was familiar with a lot of its history courtesy of my PhD thesis where I had investigated convict life in the early days of the colony.


Port Arthur

From Port Arthur we drove north through the Wierengta National Park to Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay. On the way we stopped to rescue this little mite from the middle of the road.


He said his name was Spike

Freycinet is really beautiful. We stayed in a hostel in Coles Bay and went on the Wineglass Bay/Isthmus walk (about 4 -5 hours)


Freycinet National Park


Wineglass Bay

On the east side of the Freycinet peninsula is Hazards beach where I dared Mike to go for a swim. The mad bugger did! I went into the water up to my knees in Wineglass which was mmmore than enough for me.


Mike swimming at Hazards Beach!! (The water was as cold as ice)


Terry on Hazards Beach

The following day we left to go north to St Helenes on the north-east coast. Just outside St. Helenes is Binelong Bay and the Bay of Fires. The rocks in the Bay of Fires have a lovely red lichen on them which creates a beautiful relection in the water and looks particularly effective when the sun shines on them. However this is not the reason for its name - it was given to the area by Captain Tobias Furneaux, in 1773, when he noticed numerous fires along the coast.



Bay of Fires

From St.Helenes we headed inland via St.Marys and travelled along the dirt road that took us around the base of Ben Lomond, a spectacular rocky outcrop which forms the basis of the Ben Lomond National Park.


Ben Lomond National Park


Rossarden and Ben Lomond

Finally on the way back to Hobart we stopped at the Olde Worlde village of Ross. It has a convict built stone bridge which was finished in 1836. We stopped at the bakery cafe for nourishment.


Ross Bridge

And that wraps up the trip. My poor old Blundstones which had travelled around the world a couple of times in the last 2 or so years that Ive had them finally sounded the death rattle. I had to put the poor soles down!
And so I bought two new pairs in Hobart.


farewell old boots - you did me proud!

Tassy was perfect. The trek was amazing despite the difficulties, I saw some fantastic scenery, enveloped myself in some inspiring nature and met some wonderful people. Who could ask for anything more?

Monday, October 8, 2007

bloody hard yakka

Well, I made it.
Just.
Not that the 65km walk wasn't difficult - it was. It was the fact that they had some of the worst weather in early October imaginable which began towards the end of our first day as we were arriving at Waterfall Valley hut.

DAY ONE
I was very fortunate to meet 3 great guys on the bus from Launceston to the start of the Track. They very generously asked me to walk with them as the track was extremely quiet. I discovered later that this was because of the incoming weather and that the Park Officers had been stopping most walkers from starting.

The first day of the walk from Ronny Creek (where the bus dropped us) to Waterfall Valley hut is probably the most difficult.

The first stage involves a steep climb up to Marions Peak where you first get to see Cradle Mountain up close plus a view down to Dove Lake.

It was on Marions Peak that we were first given a glimpse of what was to come.

Snow lay quite thick on the track leading off from Marions Peak, and involved trudging through it in fresh snow which covered out ankles. This was not the worst of it!

Our first break for lunch was at Kitchen hut which lays at the base of Cradle Mountain. It is an emergency hut and is very basic. But it offered us shelter from the light snow that was beginning to fall.

The next leg of the journey took us all the way over the high plateau where the snow fell thick and fast and where a strong wind was blowing. It was hard to find the track in places and a misplaced foot meant overstepping the duckboards and plunging up to ones thighs in snow which was most likely covering a mud marsh pond.

There was a lot of climbing up hills and down dales through thick snow every foot of the way. It snowed much of the time and the exertion of carrying 18kgs in weight in the backpack was physically exhausting.

We finally headed down the winding path of a steep ridge in knee high snow to the first hut at Waterfall Valley.

It was a relief to be indoors - but dismay quickly brushed the shine off our arrival when we discovered the hut's heater was not working.

We all cooked our dinners and turned in for an early night. Outside the weather began to deteriorate. The wind was howling fiercely and the snow was pelting down. We were concerned that we may be snowed in and not able to leave the next morning.

I went to bed wearing all of the dry clothes I had in my pack!

***(nb: the weather looks decent in all these photos because I didnt want to risk taking the camera out in the bad weather. So unfortunately there are large parts of the walk with no photographic record)


Start of the Overland Track


Lake near Marions Peak


Terry on Marions Peak


Snowy Cradle


Setting off into the weather

DAY TWO
I woke after a cold fitful night of sleep having decided that with the weather as bad as it was it was probably best for me to return and call off the trip. I didnt have appropriate equipment for the type of weather we were getting (ie an underrated sleeping bag). However, Mark, Matt and Dan talked me out of it as they felt it was really dangerous for me to attempt returning over the Cradle Mountain pass alone. I concurred which was just as well as the weather continued to get worse as we prepared to leave.

We delayed our leaving for about an hour until there was a break in the weather. The next hut Windermere was only 3 hours away and after a long slow climb ended with a downhill walk to the hut.

This walk was easier than the previous day. The gradient was lower even though the weather was worse. We trudged through very heavy snow falling at times with it laying on the track and completely covering it in places. The exertion of walking and carrying the weight of my pack kept me warm, though at time I had to press on with horizontal snow blasting across my path over the open valley.

We reached the next hut in record time - 2 hours 15 minutes. The heater worked which was just as well as my hiking clothes were saturated with sweat. It took me ages to get warm.


Heavy snow on the track


Windermere Hut


xmas card scene - outside the hut the next morning


DAY THREE
We have been waking at daybreak which is about 05.30 and this morning we left by half 7. We had another 6 hour hike today which entailed traversing Frog Flats and the Pelion Gap. We were worried about both. Frog Flats is marsh land and there was the possibility that there was going to be a lot of water there. And Pelion Gap was the highest point of the track since Cradle and could be completely lost under snow.

It had been snowing all through the night.

It was snowing lightly when we left Windermere and the first stage was really quite pleasant as we walked across some wide spaces and then headed down through trees to Frog Flats.

It wasnt as wet as we feared and most of the area had duck boards - though some in appaling condition.

After about 2 hours we arrived at the rainforest region where the snow turned to rain. And rain. And rain. The track here as it wound up and down through the forest was almost entirely underwater and resembled in most places a swift flowing stream!

By this stage I was wet to the bone and my boots were full of (icy) water. It was 16.5 gruelling kms and we arrived at Pelion hut after 5 hours.

The heater was not working.

About 18.30 a solo walker, Mike, turned up. He was heading the opposite direction, Lake St. Clair to Ronny Creek. We convinced him that going on was a dangerous move on his own and that he should turn around and come back with us.


poteroo

DAY FOUR
It was freezing during the night. The huts inside temperature hovered around 3 degrees above zero. We all woke with still saturated walking gear.

You cannot possibly imagine how torturous it is to have to dress in the morning in 3 degrees and put on an icy wet shirt, trousers, socks, boots, fleece, jacket and gloves. Its a rare form of punishment I hope never again to experience.
All four of us had to face the same torment!

We quickly left as walking was the only way to get warm. Fortunately the first part of the climb was uphill - very much uphill to the Pelion Gap. This was just over 1100 metres.

As we climbed, Lo! and behold the sun came out. It made the climb extremely satisfying. At the top of the pass Mark, Matt and Dan left for an attempt on the summit of Pelion East whilst I decided to continue on down to the Kia Ora hut alone. (Mike left the last hut about 30 minutes after us.)

The walk down from the gap was extraordinary as there had been large snow drifts which covered the track. At times I had to guess where the path lay and often as not I would miss the narrow duckboard or track and plunge into waist deep snow. Getting out of this with a heavy pack was a feat in itself.

But the sun was still shining and the scenery was beautiful so I pressed on.

I reached the hut and began to set the fire so the place would be warm when the guys arrived. This hut, unlike the others, had a coal fire. This took me a little while to get started, and Mike arrived a short time later and helped me get a good blaze going. We hung up all our wet gear and waited for the other to arrive. They turned up about 3 hours later having failed to reach the summit, though not through lack of effort. It sounded like an exhausting and treacherous trip.


Terry enjoying a brief spell of sunshine


snow track near Pelion Gap


Terry on the Pelion Gap


snow covered track


mountain view


dinner in Kia Ora hut


DAY FIVE
Todays walk to Pine Valley hut involved anothe climb over Du Cane Gap. Not as high as Pelion though. The first hour was pleasant to Du Cane hut, and then we took a side trip to Hartnett Falls. From there we continued to Windy Ridge hut for lunch. Stopping was always a bit uncomfortable as we were all wet and the longer one stopped the more chilled one became.


Hartnett Falls

The last stage of this days walk was fairly even and involved a beautiful section through an amazing forest. We arrived at Pine Valley hut to find 4 other walkers in there who had (bless them!!) already had the coal fire blazing. It was toasty warm! A little later a couple with their two young children also turned up. All of these other folks had come from Lake St Clair (3 hours) and were using this hut for days trips.


bridge


wet track


woods


mossy rock


bridge


scrub


bridge


woodland


single plank suspension bridge


terry on bridge


obstacle


obstacle


the guys in Pine Valley hut l-r:Dan, Mark,Mike, Terry and Matt

DAY SIX
Mike has decided to join me and leave the track today. M,M&D are staying on for 2 more days of side trips.

Mike and I set off to Narcissus hut, the last one on the track. It was snowing and had been during the night so there was fresh snow on the path. This was an easy and relaxing walk, just three hours and then a wait for the ferry across Lake St. Clair and the bus pick-up to Hobart.


single track suspension bridge with wet slippery snow


wet and mossy


heading for the Lake St Clair ferry


waiting for the ferry


on the Lake St Clair ferry


end of the walk - by the fire drying out

Someone in the group during the walk mentioned French Toast. I couldn't stop thinking about it! I promised myself it would be my first breakfast back in civilisation.... well, Hobart anyway.


french toast at last