She Goes Everywhere……Places You Should Visit.

Hellooooo…..anyone still out there?  While it has been some time since I have posted anything on the blog I have still been busy exploring, working, and getting involved in this little community out in the middle of the Pilbara.  I thought I would do a quick update via a picture post to catch everyone up on the highlights.  At a later date I will hopefully share a little more about my trip to the Blue Mountains earlier this year, as my family and I had some great adventures there.  I am also knee deep in my next hitlist with lots of exciting things planned for the future.  In the meantime here is a little snapshot of the places I have been exploring over the last three months and which you really should add to your travel hitlist!

Mt Nameless, Tom Price

Exmouth, Western Australia

Great Ocean Road, Melbourne.

Numbat Trail, Swan Valley and Hyde Park, Perth

Pannawonica, Western Australia

There is no place like home.  I am in full training mode again with the Red Dog Relay coming up and my next big, scary goal is a half marathon trail run in the Margaret River region.  Here are some pictures of Pannawonica while out and about.

Ok now we are all caught up!!  Have you been to any of these places?

Exploring Karijini in 50 photos or less…

If you visit Western Australia, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to visit not only because of the distances you will need to cover but also because there are so many spectacular places to see.  Karijini National Park, was right up at the top of my list of places that I wanted to visit while living in the Pilbara.  Due to my research and all the pictures I had seen of the gorges at Karijini, I had high expectations going into this trip.  I was a little nervous that the colours wouldn’t quite live up to the pictures or that the gorges wouldn’t be as great as I pictured in my mind.  We had also been told that it would be too hot camping and hiking at Karijini in October and that we needed more than a weekend, but sometimes you just have to stop waiting for everything to be perfect and just do things.  Our reasoning was that nights were still bearable for sleeping, down in the gorges would be cooler, the kids would enjoy swimming in the warmer temperatures of October rather than freeze in July, and three days was better than none.  I am so glad we just did it, it was the perfect weekend with fantastic weather.

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Room with a view – this is why camping is so great.

We used the rail access road from Pannawonica heading towards Tom Price and Karijini.  Just remember that you will need a rail access pass if going this way, carry no alcohol, and the corrugations on this section are pretty rough.  We shredded a tyre on the way home, so beware.  As we were coming from the north western side of Karijini National Park we decided to stop in at Hamersley Gorge on the way through.  This was our first stop and it didn’t disappoint.

HAMERSLEY GORGE

We spent about an hour and a half here before hitting the road again to drive a further 40 minutes to Dales Gorge Campground to set up camp for a couple of nights.  Dales Gorge Campground was a lovely place to stay and was an easy walk to beautiful swimming holes.

DALES CAMPGROUND, FORTESCUE FALLS, and FERN POOL

Our second day of exploring was jam packed as we decided to tackle Hancock Gorge.  This is the home of the very adventurous walks to Kermits Pool and to Handrail Pool.  As there has been several fatalities at Karijini National Park there is always a little debate about the safety of kids on various trails.  For us, I was confident in my kids ability to handle most trails, they have hiked many times before, have good fitness levels, and are aware of the risks surrounding them.  I am not sure on all the details surrounding the fatalities in the area but I found that the trails were well marked, and provided you follow the safety guidelines, quite safe.  As I have mentioned before, I believe that it is important for kids to take calculated risks and where better than in nature’s own wonderland.  The kids loved it.  After the hike to Kermit’s Pool we gave the kids the choice about whether we did another adventurous hike on the same day and they all screamed ‘YES’!  And no whinging all weekend….it must be fun right?

HANCOCK GORGE – KERMIT’S POOL WALK

HANCOCK GORGE – HANDRAIL POOL

After leaving the campground at about 8am, it was about 2pm by the time we finished both trails at Hancock Gorge.  We stopped in at Karijini Eco Resort and were very excited to find that they did coffee and ice creams for the kids.  If you are not quite up for camping, this is a lovely location to do a little bit of ‘glamping’ and still get to explore Karijini.

On our final day of the whirlwind tour of Karijini, we decided to squeeze in a hike to Circular Pool which is also near Dales Gorge Campground.  We wanted to let the kids have a swim before the 5 hour trip home and thought it would be a fairly easy climb similar to the trail down to Fortescue Falls just up the road….slight miscalculation.  This hike was nearly the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Everyone was tired after a busy couple of days, and of course packing up always makes for a few frayed tempers, so when this walk was a little further and steeper than anticipated we nearly lost a few converts.  In saying that, it was still a great walk and if we had more time we would have had a quieter day before tackling this trail.

DALES GORGE – CIRCULAR POOL

We did not see enough of Karijini and will have to plan another trip.  It was such a fantastic weekend away, and we returned with many tired but happy campers.  Photos and words cannot capture the beauty and majesty of Karijini National Park, it is one of those places that you simply must see for yourself.

 

7 Days and 7 Things to Do in Bali – Exercise Hitlist Style

Earlier in the year my sisters and mother organised a girl’s trip to Bali.  As far as girl’s trips go, Bali has it all especially if you are on a tight budget.  We had seven nights in Bali (four nights in Seminyak and three nights in Ubud) and this is what we got up to.

  1. Shopping, Pampering, and Cocktails at Sunset.

First stop was Potato Head.  If you enter Seminyak into your search engines, chances are Potato Head will pop up as one of the top five attractions for this area.  My younger sister and I arrived half a day ahead of my Mum and older sister who had brought her 15 month old (ie not party animals) so we decided to hit Potato Head for cocktails at sunset to celebrate our first night in Bali! Even better was the fact that I lived on the west coast of Australia,on the same time zone as Bali, therefore in with half a chance of staying awake long enough to keep up with my little sister who was coming from the east coast which was three hours ahead.  Wahooo!

Potato Head

Although we did find it a little pretentious, the cocktails were worth every dollar (~$12AUD), the view fantastic, and the relaxed vibe a perfect start to our holiday.  We didn’t book in for dinner but were very lucky to sneak a table at Lilin and the food was delicious.  All in all, I would recommend that you organise a visit to Potato Head if you are in Seminyak.  Breeze restaurant was another fantastic place to enjoy sunset and cocktails.

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I have to admit that we spent a lot of our time in Seminyak indulging in shopping, massages, facials, and eating well.  As most people would agree, going on holiday often involves a manic period of organising before being able to enjoy the break, and we purposely kept our first few days largely unstructured.  We did book High Tea at Biku as it had come highly recommended and can be difficult to get in to.  I didn’t manage to snap any decent photos so you will just have to take my word for it that the spread for high tea was delicious and plentiful, the coffee was actually pretty good, and it had a great, if quirky atmosphere.  You can also sit for a Tarot Card session included in your high tea experience.

The shopping was pretty great, however that was coming from a person who lives in a little town with one grocery store so I was a little excited (ok I was in heaven) to have so much variety at my fingertips.  There was the main ‘eat’ street, leading off from Seminyak Square, that was scattered with clothing stores, restaurants, beauty and massage shops, and other merchandise.  I loved the shopping here especially as I didn’t have to barter. I’ll just put it out there….I hate bartering!!  If you do want to test your bartering skills I did enjoy the Flea Markets Oberoi that we stumbled across in Seminyak.  I would check out the stores first to get an idea on price, or alternatively work on accepting a deal at about a third of the stall holders first asking price.  I also enjoyed the shopping in Ubud, and due to extra time in Kuta because of flight delays, we also checked out Discovery Shopping Mall and Beachwalk Bali which were great but very similar to shops we had at home.

In terms of pampering, take your pick.  For the most part you can get a nice foot massage, manicure or pedicure, or back massage for $5-$10AUD.  While the cheaper treatments are nice, pay a little more and you will receive a deluxe service that would match any five star spas in Australia for a fraction of the Australian price.  My best find?  A facial at a little random spa at a boutique hotel in Kuta, J Boutique, for ~$18AUD.  My sister and I even tried the fish spa…it took a little getting used to.

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2.  Visit a Temple in Bali

Unfortunately we ran out of time to visit some of the more spectacular temples in Bali, however we did stop at the Taman Ayun Temple on the way to Ubud.  This temple had some amazing architecture and grounds, and we were lucky enough to attend while the locals were preparing for a ceremony which was really interesting to see.

King's Temple

3.  Check out Tegenungan Waterfall

After several days in Seminyak indulging in the finer things in life, it was really nice to get outside and explore.  We hired a driver for the day for ~$50AUD to pick us up from our hotel in Seminyak and take us to a few places on route to Ubud before dropping us at our hotel there.  The Tegenungan Waterfall was one of our stops and it was beautiful.

Waterfall

I laughed at the little cafe built right on the edge with no railings whatsoever.  The steep descent down to the waterfall and the return trip definitely blew the cobwebs off after sitting in the car for several hours in traffic.  It was a great little detour.  There was a small entry fee and you will have to pay for parking too (~$10AUD for all four of us, including parking).

4.  Climb an Active Volcano

Even though I had to wake at 2.30am on holiday, this was a really great experience and I would love to do it again minus the fog and half the people.  I have already written about climbing Mt Batur in an earlier post so click on the link and read all about it.

The view from the top of a volcano

The view from the top of a volcano

5.  Yoga in Ubud

This was one of the activities on my current hitlist as I like trying different classes in different countries.  I really enjoyed this one hour class at the Yoga Barn.

Yoga

My pictures were terrible and didn’t do the venue justice.  It was open decking all the way around with lovely gardens and water features.  The only downside were the mosquitoes!!  There were several spray bottles around the room for patrons to use to keep the local pests away which worked for the most part.  Great class.

6.  Make your own Silver Jewellery

This Jewellery workshop in Ubud was one of my favourite things that we did in Bali.  We debated whether or not to do it because it was 3 hours out of our precious schedule and at $45.00AUD it was one of the more expensive things that we would do in Bali.  It was worth every penny and the time flew.  We opted to go with Chez Monique Jewellery Classes, with the class located in the owner’s traditional housing complex.  It was a lovely atmosphere and great to see his family go about their day to day business while we were in the class.

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We were able to see first hand what was involved in making jewellery, from design choice, to cutting templates, to using different techniques on the silver to get the effect you are after.  I was even able to use some gems that my father had found in my earring design.

Jewellery Workshop

My Mum, younger sister and I all chose something different which was great because we all used different techniques and learnt so much.  My older sister went to the Monkey Forest instead as she didn’t think her toddler would sit for 3 hours.  We all had such a great afternoon and were happy with our finished products.  Such a great keepsake for our girl’s trip.

Finished product

7.  Visit the Rice Terraces in Tegallalang

On our final day in Bali we visited the Rice Terraces in Tegallalang.  It really is amazing and I would definitely recommend visiting these terraces while in Bali.  Make sure you have some small change on you because as you walk through the terraces you will come across several toll booths.  These toll booths charge a small donation to continue in order to help support the local farmers.

So there you have it, 7 Things to Do in Bali in 7 Days.  I’m already planning another trip, what else should be done while in Bali?

 

Climbing an Active Volcano in Bali

Once a year, my two sisters, Mum and I, try and catch up for a girls weekend away.  We try and scratch out the time and money so we can catch up, reconnect, and often have some much needed down time.  Our first trip was to celebrate my Mum’s 50th birthday and we went to Bangkok, Thailand.

 

Over the years, between having kids, moving, living life, we haven’t always managed an exclusive girls trip each year, but we have had memorable trips to the Gold Coast, Palm Cove, Emu Park, and New Zealand.  This year my mum is turning 60 and my little sister turns 30 so we decided it was time for another overseas trip.  Sale fares cropped up for Bali and we spontaneously decided to book the trip well in advance.  This gave me plenty of time to research what trails, hikes, or special attractions that I would like to attempt while staying in Bali.

As you can probably guess if you have been following my blog, I love a good mountain climb, so not surprisingly Mt Batur Sunrise Trek caught my attention.  Trip Advisor had some great reviews of this hike and as it was a 4 hour return trip it wouldn’t take up too much time.  Let’s be honest those wonderful foot massages, cocktails by the pool, not to mention the shopping were all vying for my attention as well!

I managed to convince my little sister to come with me and our trip started with a 2.30am pick up from our Villa just outside of Ubud.  Yes, 2.30 AM pick up, arrrgghh what was I thinking?  It took about 30 minutes driving to arrive at the meeting point in the Kintamani National Park complex where we had a small breakfast of banana crepe and tea or coffee.  We were quickly ushered back into the car for a further 20 minutes before arriving at the base of Mt Batur.  As it was August, it was peak tourism season and the day we hiked there was upwards of 450 people on the mountain.  At just over 1700m above sea level, Mt Batur is not a big mountain so this is a lot of people to have on it at one time.  I have to admit I am really not a fan of hiking with this many people.  There was a lot of waiting before we started and there was a bit of stop and starting during the trek as well.

Before I left Australia, I had been talking to another couple who had just returned from Bali and had completed the Mt Batur trek.  Their advice was to take a head light which left your hands free for the steep part of the track, take a warm jacket for the summit, and they also warned that there were no toilets along the way.  I don’t know about you, but after breakfast, coffee and an early start, my bladder was becoming very demanding.  It was still early in the piece and easy walking, but I was remembering that there were no toilets along the way and we still had 3 more hours of hiking plus waiting time on the top of the mountain.  I figured that I would not be able to enjoy the rest of the trek if I didn’t sneak off for a toilet break under the cover of darkness.  My tips for taking the sneaky, stealth pee: Don’t forget to turn your headlight off;  Try and find a spot that the moonlight won’t reflect off your white backside; And finally, just try to forget that there are 450+ people walking around you and that your face isn’t glowing red in mortification.

For the most part it was quite an easy hike, only the last 45 minutes or so was quite steep.  There are plenty of breaks and due the number of people hiking single file the pace is very steady, therefore achievable for most people with moderate fitness.  It was a lovely clear morning when we started out, it was dark but the stars and moon were bright and there was that lovely morning crispness to the air that I love.  Once we started moving it was a pretty cool sight to see all the twinkling spots of torchlight winding up the mountain.  Now the one thing I had been looking forward to since i woke up at a ridiculous time that morning was a spectacular sunrise.  We reached the top with a little time to spare and sat there shivering in our sweaty shirts, lucky we had a jacket, but I would recommend a dry shirt to change into.  As the sun started to rise, we started to catch glimpses of the view that we had climbed to see, all bathed in a beautiful deep red/orange sky and then tragedy struck in the form of heavy clouds rolling across the mountain……NOOOOOO! Get a load of our eagerly awaited sunrise view……

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Sunrise selfie.  Yep, not too impressed with our sunrise. Haha suckers!!

While the fog was this thick we were seriously doubting whether this trip was worth it.  But then the sun started to rise and the clouds started to clear…..

Looking down at the blackened land, cooled lava from an eruption in 1963 that destroyed a village, was a stark reminder that we had just climbed an active volcano!  In fact it is Bali’s most active volcano with mild eruptions every 10-15 years.  It did make me pause slightly when I did some research prior to the hike that the last eruption was in 2000 and Mt Ruang, in nearby Java, was on the boil.    Our boiled eggs for breakfast had been cooked in the steam from the volcano.  We were standing on a bloody volcano!  C’mon it was a little cool.

It was a pretty great experience and my sister and I were both happy that we did it.  We ended up descending a different path than we climbed.  It was a nice easy walk down, but I would have liked to see the path we had clambered up in the dark.  Oh well, it was not a bad view on the way down regardless.

While this trek is a very commercial enterprise and you could quite easily do it without a guide, I was happy to pay the fee as it creates a lot of employment for locals and I was hopeful that I was paying for their knowledge on the status of this active volcano I was climbing.  The views as we drove back to our accommodation were spectacular and all in all I was really happy with the whole experience and will cross this one off the hitlist!

Our Weekend Among the Valley of the Giants

This is a Throwback Thursday post that I have been meaning to write for ages.  We took this trip a few months after moving to Perth and just before I started my blog.  It was a really fantastic weekend away for my family and deserves a mention and a record on the blog for posterity!

After living the FIFO life for a few months at this point we really wanted to get away for a long weekend, enjoy being together as a family and explore this amazing new state we were living in.  We had been given a tip off that Coalmine Beach was a lovely little tucked away spot that we should go and check out.  After a quick google we booked a spot at Coalmine Beach Holiday Park.  It is a lovely location and the amenities are standard for a good caravan park.  I do have to mention that the managers at the time were not the most welcoming which wasn’t great when we had been driving 5 hours from Perth.   We arrived around 5.30pm and the first thing we were told was to make sure we kept the kids quite after 6pm?  O..K….Then we checked into the cabin we had booked and the top two bunks weren’t made up.  It may just be me but there also seemed to be a lot of ‘shouty’ signs all around the cabin….’CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR MEALS’, ‘PLEASE MOP SHOWER AFTER USE’, ‘DO NOT LEAVE LIGHTS ON’, they just seemed to be everywhere.  I expect to see them on the general information brochure but they were plastered to the walls.  Anyway, it seems I still have some anger issues with the hospitality, but in saying all of that it is a lovely location and one of the cheaper places to stay in this area.

Back to the good stuff, Walpole and surrounds are just beautiful and we had such a great day at the beach just metres from the caravan park.  Check out the photos…

Did I mention that there are Wineries in the area too?  Winning.  We stopped in at West Cape Howe Winery and grabbed a couple of bottles to try, delicious.

winery

 

We could have quite easily spent a lazy weekend just at Coalmine Beach but one of the big drawcards for this region is the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk.  There was an entry fee,  approximately $45.00 for our family of 6, which I thought was reasonable for this experience.  There was a wonderful information centre with interactive displays that the kids loved, there was the Tree Top Walk along the suspended bridge right up amongst the top leaves blowing in the breeze, and then there was also the Ancient Empires Walk at the base of these massive trees to really appreciate their size.  The staff were really friendly and informative and the facilities were fantastic, definitely worth the money.

We made another stop this day to view the Giant Tingle Tree.  This tree is just massive.

tingle trees

The other stop we should have made on this trip but didn’t know about at the time, was The Diamond Tree Lookout which is on route to Perth from the Denmark/Walpole area.  We stopped in at the lookout on the way back from the trip to Albany for the Adventurethon.  To be honest, we had initially skimmed over this as we thought it was just a lookout and the kids are generally not too enthused by lookouts.  How wrong we were…..

Well that turned into quite an epic post.  We really enjoyed exploring this region of Western Australia and it is definitely worth a visit.

Happy Exploring!!

 

5 Reasons to Love Palm Cove

I have been dreaming of a holidays lately and it brought to mind one of my favourite getaway locations.  Palm Cove in Tropical North Queensland.  I love Palm Cove.  I think everyone needs to spend a relaxing weekend here.  In recent years I have been twice and it has not disappointed either time.  Here are 5 reasons why everyone should book a getaway to Palm Cove (this is not a sponsored post I just really love it that much).

1.   Well firstly there’s this view…..

Image Credit

2.  It is easily accessible for a quick getaway weekend.

It is only 20 minutes from Cairns Airport and 25 minutes to the Esplanade in Cairns.  From Palm Cove to Port Douglas, gateway to the Daintree, it is only another 40 minutes along one of the most magnificent coastal drives you will do.

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Palm Cove

3.  There are a range of accommodation options to suit every budget.

Last year we had a group of four and we stayed in a 3 bedroom apartment that was about a ten minute walk from the beach and restaurants.  It was lovely.  The walk was really picturesque and a nice way to wind down after a lovely dinner out.  If you want to read a little more about our accommodation and trip last year head over to my sister’s blog post on Palm Cove – Bell Girls Weekend 2014.  Her photos of Palm Cove are beautiful.

This year we were a little closer to the beach, at Hotel Grand Chancellor, only a short 5 minute stroll across the wooden boardwalk over the mangroves.   We paid approximately $245 for two nights accommodation.  The rooms were a little dated but very comfortable and surroundings were quite pretty.

 

There are plenty of beachfront accommodation options for those wanting a really glamorous weekend away, and more modest options for those still wanting to treat but without a huge dent in the budget.  There is also Palm Cove Holiday Park which offers camping and caravan options only 30m from the beach itself and looks fantastic.

3.  The food and dining options are great.  

Whether it is a fine dining experience you are after, a casual affair, feeding the family, or the self catering option, Palm Cove has it all.  I can recommend Vivo Bar and Grill for a delicious dinner and The Rising Sun Bar and Bistro for great coffee, good food, and a huge chocolatey, turkish delight brownie.

I have to admit that my favourite place for breakfast, lunch, and lazy afternoon cocktails was Chill Cafe.  Coffee was fantastic, breakfast and food was delicious, and staff very friendly and helpful.  The view was just perfect and everything came together to provide the perfect combination of holiday relaxation at its best.

 

4.  Great options for fantastic day trips.

I would definitely recommend a trip to Port Douglas.  It is a little more ‘touristy’ and is resort central but the markets are great and good for a spot of shopping.  Food and entertainment options are great too.  Port Douglas also has a lovely, quaint church that is beautiful to have a quick look around and a few lookouts and lighthouses were also worth a quick look.

If you have never been to Cairns, a trip to the Esplanade is well worth it and maybe a trip out to the Islands and The Great Barrier Reef.  On the previous girls trip we also spent the day shopping in Cairns and you could also catch a movie.

The hubby and I also decided to check out Cairns Botanic Gardens and try the Red Arrow/Blue Arrow walk which is known to be the fitness challenge hotspot for the locals.  Now we were on holiday and hubby refused  so we decided to just do a taste test and complete the 1.3km Red Arrow walk and not the 5.4km Blue Arrow track.  Just a reminder to those that haven’t been to Tropical North Queensland in summer….bring lots of water and be prepared to sweat!!  The good thing about the track though is that it is mostly well shaded which keeps it a lot cooler.

5.  It is all about unwinding.

Palm Cove is made for relaxing, for taking a moment out of our busy lives and just stopping and enjoying the little things in life.  There is no rushing or pressure to be dressed ‘just right’, its all about appreciating the people who you are with, in beautiful, unspoiled surroundings.  Great location, great food, great company……what more do you need?

 

The Overland Track Tasmania (Guest Post) – Part 2

If you haven’t read Part 1 yet start with this post, but for everyone else Katie’s story continues…..

Day 02 – Waterfall Valley to Windermere

Well … we woke up this morning to some beautiful blue sky!! Big Yay!!!  So at least we got some glimpses back towards Cradle Mountain and Barns Bluff.

Lake Will

Day 02 was one of the smallest distances to hike with a side trip to Lake Will.

I think Ange was really in her element today … she seemed to have really found her stride and enjoyed the walk.  Me … not so much … I think my body was just so fatigued from the day before that I struggled to find my rhythm.

Everything was still very very wet from the day before however at least we got to see some of the beautiful surroundings of the area. We did do the little side hike to Lake Will for lunch with views back to Barn Bluff – it was lovely just sitting there on a little sandy beach in mountains.

Today’s hut was down by Lake Windermere which was beautiful. We went for a walk down to the lake to soak our feet in the water! Believe me … it was definitely a wee bit cold! Got a cramp in the calf straight away! Brrrr but oh so nice on the feet!!

And today was the day I got to see my first ever Wombat in the wild!! YAY!!! So awesome!! We were walking along and heard a branch crack, making us look over and there is a Wombat frozen with stage fright half way over a log! Cutest thing ever – two front paws up and shy face poking over!!

Wombat

Day 03 – Windermere to Kia Ora

Longest of the day hikes – think it was about 18km?

Windermere

I really enjoyed this day, the body was feeling great, I was feeling more energised, the bag was sitting just right, there was better padding on my shoulders (where the bag had been rubbing on my collar bones) … I had finally found my rhythm!! Big YAY!!!

It was a beautiful day and we walked through sooo many different types of environments! Open grass lands, open plains, forests and rainforests, on boardwalks, natural rock, flats and the main the challenge for the day … there was a massive stretch in the forest where it was just a big old mud slush!

Thank goodness for my hiking poles … it was a lot of hopping and a major balancing act from slippery root to slippery root to attempt to miss the slush in between.  I swear this area took twice as long as it should have. Did have a bit of slide at one stage there … bam … down on my knee before I knew it …  no damage done but there was a bit of laughing on how to get back up with a pack on your back – he he … the unexpected challenges we came across!!!

Oh yeah … today is Christmas Day!! Merry Christmas!!

We settled in at the hut (which was a lovely hut) to have our deliciously savoured dehydrated Roast Chicken Christmas Dinner  …. m… mmmm!! How amazing it was too … salty goodness… which was actually all my body was craving!!  Oh … yeah…. we had also come prepared and trekked with some delicious “Vino” to compliment our nightly dinners in style (best decision ever). We totally lived it up on Christmas Night sharing a Christmas pudding with some new friends in exchange for our delicious Rum Balls and Macadamia and Ginger nut balls we had made for ourselves!!

Kia Ora Hut

Day 04 – Kia Ora to Bert Nichols (Windy Ridge)

We woke to a bit of dreary wet morning – not much you can do about the weather so you just wet weather gear it up and head off!! Woohoo!!!!

So today is Mount Ossa day – The highest Peak in Tasmania. The first part of the day is heading up to Pelion Gap where they have a little area to drop off your big packs so you can climb the surrounding mountains.  So we get to the gap and it is pouring … actually it more like sleeting!  It is that bad that some hikers pick up their bags and keep heading to the next hut!

Windy Ridge

Windy Ridge 2

So… the little guide book (that we were sent to “guide us”) tells you that “you should not attempt to climb Mt Ossa if there weather is bad”…. so what did we sensibly decided to do? Yes Of course … you guessed it….  we didn’t come all this way and get this close not to give it a go! What have we got to lose … if it gets too bad we will just come back down!! Meh!! Easy!!!

So I am not sure how you defined when the weather gets too bad? Is it the point when I stick out my tongue to catch the snow? Nah … of course not … but that was totally awesome!! Nothing like being committed to the cause!

We passed 3 guys coming down the mountain (the only 3 other people who attempted Mt Ossa that day) and they told us that it was just blanketed in cloud and they couldn’t see anything! Ah… shame … but still we were here already so we may as well see what can see when we get there!! So up we go … it is a lot of rock scrabbling  … and as we started to get higher and higher the nerves started to get a little shot! But as we were up there and just about on the way down we had a miraculous moment where the clouds cleared from around us and the sun came out to shine on us!

Wowz … the view that came out … so dramatically spectacular!! It was one of my favourite moments – sitting on top of the world (or Tasmania) and just watching the world below you!! What an achievement!!! Yay for us!!

Mt Ossa

When we got back down to our big packs we decided to have a celebratory cup of tea whilst enjoying the brief rays of sunshine, as it wasn’t long before a shower came across to get us on our way again. Fortunately it didn’t last long – by the time we were at the huts it was sunshine again so decided that tonight was the night that I would camp!! Woohoo for me!!

Camping

So it turned out to be the coldest night EVER!!! I had 2 thermals on, + outers, + thermal sleeping liner + beanie, gloves, socks – all the normals, I was tucked in my sleeping bag pulled over my head with only a small breathing hole out the side. Yup I know…. style all the way but I made it through the night!!

Day 05 – Bert Nichols to Narcissus

I think we were both a little fatigued on Day 04 as it had been a 4 hour return trip up My Ossa + 2 hours before and 2 hours to the next hut.  The body was definitely not quite feeling quite at its peak, but we still pushed on.  Along the track today was one of the originally built huts (all made by hand) as well as a few side trips to see some beautiful waterfalls.

Waterfall

Both of us were keen to push on today and enjoy some rest time at the hut (which was amazing – newest hut of the whole walk and we felt like were back in civilisation)

Day 06 – Narcissus to Lake St Clair Visitor Centre

Last day – Downhill run to the end.

We started early today as we had pre-booked a ferry ride across Lake St Clair at midday.

I really enjoyed the track today – it wasn’t so “Alpine” environment and actually reminded me a lot of South-East Queensland.  And would you believe it…. there was not a damn cloud in the sky!! It was the most beautiful day you could have ever wished for!! (Stark contrast to Day 01 – look at that sky)

Narcissus

The walk was amazing and as we rode the ferry to the Lake St Clair centre you could look back into the dramatic mountains and be amazed at how far we had come.

Lake St Claire

Reflection

The hike was probably one of the most challenging adventures I have been on, but it was definitely rewarding and I am super proud of myself (and Ange)!!! I look back and remember all those little experiences that came together to be one my best adventures yet. I feel an amazing sense of achievement and can’t wait till my next big adventure!

Shout out to everyone ….

PS. Also have to say a huge Thank-you to my amazing adventure friend Ange!! Can’t wait till our next one!!

Just in case anyone wants to get any more information on the Overland Track head to this website.

Thank you Katie for doing such a great write up and sharing the adventure with us!

 

The Overland Track Tasmania (Guest Post) – Part 1

So many adventures in this big, wide, world and just never enough time to do them all.  Sometimes a girl just needs to outsource some adventures, so when I heard a couple of my oldest friends were planning for a Christmas/New Year’s adventure in Tasmania I gleefully waited for all the details and photos from their hike and decided that I just had to share it on the blog.  This would have to be one of the great walks in Australia and after reading this adventure I have to admit that I am just itching to do it myself.  I will let my friend Katie tell the story in her words, it is a great read…..

Our ADVENTURE  – The Overland Track, Tasmania

So I can’t remember how it actually went down … but let’s say it was something like this…

Ange/Katie – Lets do something for Christmas holidays.

Ange – I have always wanted to the Overland Track in Tassie

Katie – I have never done an overnight hike before … I’d been keen!

Ange/Katie – Ok – let’s lock it in. Maybe we should do some research.

Yup – that’s right … COMMIT before you do your research!!

So the flights and the track was all locked in mid 2014 (pretty proud of how organised we were), with details to be finalised later when we had done some of our research on what else we would do whilst down in Tassie. But for now it was all about what gear I would need for the trek and the all important “training”!!! So working around Ange and my life schedules we booked in 3 weekends to head out and about to get some kilometres behind us and to get some practice in with some loaded up backpacks (which we assumed would be our biggest issue).

So…. even after all that planning … we successfully achieved a whole “1” of our scheduled training weekends! Yup … nothing like some solid training … he he! Look … we did fit a couple of day hikes in as well, but I tell you what….  in hindsight it would have been really beneficial to do a few more hikes WITH that bag!!   (All those good intentions)

So … the “1” hike we did fit in was really great as I got to check out the nifty gadgets and gear that Ange has accumulated from her tramping days in New Zealand – which really helped me work out what I would still need to buy. I also got to test out my ability to put up my new fang dangled hiking tent and how well I would sleep on my little (1 inch thick) red hiking mat! Let’s be honest … my expectations weren’t high for this one … but it did the trick!! Thou we did both purchase an inflatable pillow, after that little overnight crink in the neck, we weren’t prepared to do 5 nights without this little luxury!  All in all it was a fabulous little weekend – we did manage to 5km on the Saturday afternoon and 16km on the Sunday (up a hill that just kept going and going)! We were both pretty exhausted but we did realise that we were both pretty prepared mentally and physically to get through the hike.  Our only issue was having some bruised hips from where our bags sat…. we kind of accepted that this will probably be an ongoing problem and that we would have to deal with on the track (and we did have to).

Looking back now … I really enjoyed the researching and the preparation (or lack of if you think of the practice hikes) buying the gear, sorting out logistics, accommodation, food and then the planning of the remainder of our holiday! It really is all about the WHOLE journey!!

At last our adventure begins on the ….

Overland Track

Day 01 – Cradle Mountain to Waterfall Valley

I couldn’t believe the day had arrived and we were sitting on the bus heading from Launceston to Cradle Mountain and the start of the Overland Track – wooohoooo!! Let’s just say … we were both a tinnie einnie bit excited!

It was a little bit of an overcast day, but when we were signing in (you have to sign in at the start, each night at the huts and sign-out at the end as a safety measure – very important J ) the lady who was serving us, said that there had been showers all morning but they continued to pass.  Ok – good last minute helpful tip – right?

So finally, we were down at the start of the track, signed in, wet weather gear on and bag on our backs!! (Damn …what did I pack that made this bag weigh so much????)  Too late to re-think this?? Ah well …  woohoooo …. we are ready to go!! Let’s just have another WOOHOOO!!!

Overland 1

So we had been warned that Day 01 of the hike is the hardest … a lot of ‘up’ …. so it was nice to start the track on a timber board walk to warm up the body! With a little spring in our step … we head off on our adventure!  We had being going for about an hour, past some beautiful landscapes, waterfalls, a little bit of “up”, past a lake, a little bit more “up” till we got to a viewing platform of Dove Lake – which we were lucky to see!! As we were standing there enjoying the view and having a little snack…. the rain started to come down, so the only thing to do was to keep going and yup the next bit was … amazingly… heading on up!!

So this next bit was the big incline up the mountain edge … it is mostly natural steps and yup it is that steep that they have a chain to assist! So if that doesn’t sound challenging enough…. you know that rain that I was telling you about … well it was now really coming down and the wind had started to blow. So we are now scaling the side of the mountain, there is water cascading (I kid you not) down the rocks we are climbing and the wind is howling around us. Oh yeah…. did you remember we have 20+ kg on our back … don’t worry I was not forgetting!!! J  It made the mountain feel endless!! Dam how high is this mountain and when is the rain going to stop!!! It was somewhere around this point that I started to have a little battle in my head…. it went a little like this … WHAT THE &^$* have I done!!! This was punishing … if the vertical climb of the mountain wasn’t bad enough and the body starting to feeling  fatigued with all the leg muscles working overtime … I was really questioning what I had got myself into – I didn’t sign up for this… right? Then the old “what if” jumped in to that crazy head of mine…. what if there is another mountain (really soon), what if this weather sets in for the next 5 days, what if I don’t make it to the end …. so – if I am going to turn around – now is definitely the time to do it, when I get home I’m going to become a couch potato and live through the adventures shown on TV!! Then it did a flip…. OK…. “suck it up cupcake”…. it’s a bit tough right now but  you can totally do this, this is what you live for, this is an amazing adventure and you are on it, you love to achieve things big and small AND  you have Ange right there next to you and together we can survive ABSOLUTELY anything!!

So what did we do…. we got to the top of that damn mountain and just kept walking!  Yep so things are sounding better but let’s get back to this rain … yup it is still pouring down and … now…. my dam sock is WET … crap… how do I keep that dry? WTF…. is that going to rub? Am I going to get Blisters? Oh man … Wrinkled feet?

Seriously, my head is my own worst enemy!

Well, that darn wind was still blowing a gale … so much that it actually blew me off the track a couple of times. The strategy was that when the wind blows you lean into it but when it stops suddenly you over balance, and vice versa when you are not ready for it…. bam … see you later. We were engulfed in clouds – they were whizzing past us, up and over the landscape but we couldn’t see more than 10 metres or so in front of us! It was like we kept walking into an endless landscape of cloud! Ange and I could not even talk to each other without stopping as the wind was howling and just took the words away with it.

Finally, we came across the “half way” emergency hut  …  can you believe we are only half way…. on the first day?  Yup … me neither!! We were pretty lucky that a big group had just left the hut when we got there so we had it all to ourselves (we may not have fit otherwise)! It was just so nice to get out of the rain, and the wind, and to drop those packs off our backs!! I knew I needed to have a bite to eat but the hands were so cold that they just did not want to work properly (who knew zippers were going to be so hard) as well as feeling lethargic enough not to want to eat!!  But this body definitely needed an energy boost!!

Both of us were so wet that we got cold really quickly in the hut so we decided that it was best to get back out there in those extreme elements and make it to the Waterfall Valley Hut as soon as possible!!   So off we tramp … the walk goes on for another couple of hours under the same circumstances – rain, wind and a 10m visual in the clouds!  Not being able to see far in front of you also made the trek feel endless, you could not even use a land mark to mark how far you were travelling! So it really just felt like it went on and on and on … We caught a small glimpse of Cradle Mountain in between the clouds but were very unfortunate not to see it in its glory or the supposed spectacular landscape of that first day!!

Finally we came across a sign that said “Waterfall Valley Hut – 30 minutes”!! Yups – we both got pretty excited about that sign!! It was here that my backpacks rain cover came off again and Ange came over to fix it up for me, when she says…. “where is your red bag?”  KT – “what do you mean where is my red bag”, Ange – “it’s not on your bag anymore”, KT – “are you serious … WTF!!!”  And you thought we were going through enough already …  so….  my red bag is my sleeping mat (you know the 1 inch thick one that was my nightly saviour)…. well it is no longer attached to my bag!! I didn’t hear anything drop from my bag because of the rain on my jacket hoodie and the howling wind!  I looked backed along the track … and new that I did not have strength to head back to look for it … it could have been any time in the last 1 and half … so decided to just head on! Oh crap…. here comes my head again … oh  man … I now have 5 nights sleeping on the hard floor/ground, oh man … if I wasn’t going to be tired and grumpy before – I definitely am going to be now!!  Then the little glimmer of hope …  I could see if I can double back in the morning with hopefully better weather and without my big bag.

Ah well … will leave that decision till tomorrow … so what did we do … just kept on walking!! We totally think that they had the timing wrong on that sign as it felt like sooooo much longer than 30 minutes and that last bit was heading down hill … which you would think was a good thing but the body was in hurting mode and nothing was enjoyable at this stage! We both just wanted to get there!!

Waterfall Valley Hut

Finally, finally, finally we arrived at the hut – wet, bedraggled, exhausted, freezing (all our inners were soaked through) but oh so relieved!! We were lucky that there were a couple of spaces available in the hut as we were not in any state to go and put our tent up in that weather!  So after a change of clothes and an attempt to hang our gear up (the hut looked like a laundry) I went to find the hut warden to have a chat about my mat, when I saw another group arriving down the hill!! I waited as they got down the hut and asked the man if he had seen a red bag on the track – expecting to at least get a rough idea of how long it would take me in the morning.  His response was “You mean this bag that I picked up this afternoon!!” We need another WOOOHOOO here … Can you believe it … yup…. he had kindly picked up my mat and tied it onto his bag!! Oh my goodness…. I just wanted to give him the biggest thank-you hug ever!! Oh my … I was just so relieved and happy that I was no longer sleeping on the ground!! So with my matt now back in my possession and a delicious gourmet hiking dinner in our bellies … my adventurous spirit was on the way up again!!  I didn’t have much to compare our first day of our adventure with, but Ange did say that in all the hikes she has ever been on, this was by far the worst weather day she has ever experienced! Thank goodness – we are alive!!

PS – Really didn’t take many photos this today! There was just too much rain to take it out!

Coral Bay – A Place to Soothe the Soul

We have had this trip to Coral Bay planned for quite a while and the timing could not have been better coming as it did at the end of a bit of a rocky week.  As some of you may be aware, the iron ore prices have been taking a bit of a dive for a while now and we have been waiting somewhat anxiously to see what mining giant Rio Tinto would do to tighten their belts.  Last week was a big week of job cuts, redundancies, cuts in working hours and  pay here in Pannawonica.  It was a bit of a body blow to us with my husband having his hours, and therefore his pay, cut significantly.  You start to wonder whether the sacrifices were worth it, whether you will ever manage to get ahead, whether you will have the resources to provide the kids with all the opportunities you would wish for them in the coming years.  We took the hit and may have staggered for a moment, but at the end of the day hubby still has a good job with some decent perks, he will be home a lot more (which after a year of FIFO we appreciate the value of this), and we have the opportunity to explore some of the most beautiful places in Australia in our new backyard. So feeling a little flat, and with thunderstorms and rain rumbling around us not helping the mood,  we headed off to  enjoy our weekend in Coral Bay and have fun with some new and some old friends.

Wishing the storm clouds away for the weekend.

Wishing the storm clouds away for the weekend.

After just over 4 hours on the road and arriving just before sunset, Coral Bay welcomed us with open arms.  Problems? What problems?  Ahhhh….so beautiful. It took the kids about 5 minutes flat to hit that water from arrival.

We stayed at Ningaloo Reef Resort, the rooms were comfortable and had views of the beach.  More importantly the beach and the reef were literally a walk across the road.  The caravan park next door looked pretty fantastic as well and we would probably stay there next time we visit…because there will be a next time!  This time round we stayed pretty close to home as there is plenty to do right off the doorstep.

It really was a wonderful weekend away and even just snorkelling off the beach we were able to see many fish, a big groper, a manta ray, some big clams, and so much beautiful coral.  We spotted lots of crabs on the beach and even an octopus at the boat ramp too.  Next time we visit we will have to book in for a tour to see if we can spot some Whalesharks, Turtles, Manta Rays and lots more marine life. This weekend was the perfect reminder that life is about making the most of our moments.  Endless days at the beach, kids laughter and excitement in each new discovery, good food, wine, and company,  and dragging tired but happy, sandy kids home from the beach at sunset only to fall exhausted into bed at the end of each day….what more does a girl need?

Helloooo from Pannawonica

Well I am finally back in action after quite a long leave of absence.  What have I been up to?  Let me give you a quick summary of all the things that I have been doing over the last five weeks….

  • We packed up our house and prepared it for rental before flying the 5 hours back east to visit family.
  • My husband and I had a lovely couple of days in Palm Cove, kid free, to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary.Palm Cove Collage
  • Stayed with my sister and had some fun on the Blue Sky Farm
  • Beach Holiday with extended family and friends at the lovely Bramston Beach.  My sister has already done a great blog post about that one so if you want to see how much fun we had, read all about Bramston Beach here.Beach
  • Climbed a mountain or two…Baldy Walsh's Pyramid
  • Walked around a lake and of course swam in said lakeLake4.jpg
  • Swam in some beautiful tropical north Queensland locationsJo Falls Babinda Boulders
  • Visited with lots of family and friends
  • Went off road to visit a beautiful little known waterfall 4wd Mackenzie Falls2 Mackenzie Falls MFalls
  • Flew back to the west coast before embarking on a road trip of 1600km to move to our new home town of Pannawonica in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.leaving perth Mesa Panna2 Panna3
  • Visited the dolphins at the beautiful Monkey Mia Monkey Mia Dolphin Shell Beach

It has been a busy, but wonderful four weeks and now we are finally settling in to our new life at Pannawonica.   It is a small town of approximately 800 people with one grocery store, a gym, a school, medical centre, library, post office, tavern and sports club, and a pool.  We can walk from one end of town to the other in about 10 minutes and I have learnt that a ‘Bung Arrow’ is a goanna.  Apparently the locals feed the goanna’s to keep the snakes away.  I have heard that the flies are not so bad this year but even so I have snorted quite a few from my nostrils and have had my husband look at me like I am a creature from another world as I preceded to gag, cough, spit, and splutter in front of him to try and stop myself from swallowing a fly.  Hmmm, such a lady, needless to say I had already swallowed the fly.  The temperature has been mid to high forties this week with the highest being 49oC.  Despite all this I think we will quite enjoy our time here and I have a hitlist already started!! I have a backlog of blog posts that I will get to in the near future including the following:

  • A wrap up of my previous hitlist
  • The best things to do in FNQ
  • Climbing Walsh’s Pyramid
  • Reasons to check out Monkey Mia
  • My new Exercise Hitlist

I will also be trying to add a few more Rehabilitation and Injury Prevention posts in the future.  If you want to hear more about anything else that I have done over the last few weeks or other topics in general please let me know in the comments.