Steve’s Hiking 2013 & earlier

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Della & I (combined age then 120) heading off from Freney Lagoon on the second day of our walk across Tasmania in 2011. We took seven days. Between us we were carrying @ 20 kilos & enough food (& booze!) for 10 days. These zpacks ‘Blast’ packs are 52 litres including pockets. Today we would be carrying several kilos LESS.





I have been hiking/hunting now for over sixty years, and am still doing so – though a little more slowly than I once did.


I have spent very many years walking in the Victorian Alps & elsewhere (more often than not in winter) and in every different weather, I guess on average every other weekend for at least the LAST 30 YEARS, and more. I hope to be able to continue my rambling for some time to come. That is,  I have camped out A LOT, more than TWO YEARS PLUS of my life in toto  - many thanks to Della and my kids for that indulgence -  & have often seen the failure of just about every type of gear, and experienced just about every disaster which CAN befall you in the wilderness, and survived. So, if you dream of doing a bit of camping/hiking, maybe I can offer some useful advice?


This is a ‘work in progress’. I will be adding to it on a regular basis until I am ‘satisfied’ with it, when I will mostly be just adding new photos, adventures, product/ideas, suggestions, etc. I have collected here some things I have written the last couple of years about hiking/camping etc. First (as in the links above) there is some advice (HIKING) then a section of gear advice for my son written in 2011 (WORLD TRAVEL KIT FOR SON.doc), then blog posts in reverse order, then our current ‘Gear List’ - with explanations. Hope you find something interesting here:



31/12/2013: Film of Douglas Mawson at Commonwealth Bay Antarctica in the summer of 1912 (Play it and notice how large patches of land are completely ICE FREE). Today’s team of warmie scientists are stuck in ice 75 kilometres off the mainland:

30/12/2013: Looks like fun; may try it someday (French tourist - one year in Australia in one minute) :


30/12/2013: NEAT mnemonic: ‘Stalactites (ceiling) and stalagmites (ground)’. Always had trouble with that. No more.


29/12/2013: 250cc Motorbike which weighs 57kg:

gwp-FX_Moto-25 540w


29/12/2013: A pair of hiking pants which you can wear for 365 days and even sleep in which weigh 75 grams and a raincoat that you can ALSO sleep in @ 123 grams. That's REAL weight saving: &


Update: I bought a pair of these as a dry change pair and for sleeping in – and they are fine. Montbell also make a matching top which is unfortunately not available in my size, but in Della’s weighs about 50 grams!


29/12/2013: Have fitted a SECOND pair of heavy duty shocks to the rear of the old Defender. That seems to have finally settled the camper down so that it is just like driving a car NOW. Looking forward to our next trip! Merrin & Matt are to trial it first this week.


Update: There is now a new instant gas water heater for campers which weighs only about 10kg, so fitting it will save 24 kgs of weight high up and back (in water) and as it is more efficient will save 60% of gas usage too – and we won’t run out of hot water for showering. It is the Girard Tankless RV Water Heater:


29/12/2013: Have Polyairs and HD springs all around - also stabilisers front & back. Trouble is the vehicle is a 110 (which means tighter turning circle but more overhang for the 8' camper). I can/will also move the hot water system from front to rear and have a wrinkle which will allow me to lower the whole unit approx 1 1/4" which will also help, as will under tray boxes which I have purchased. Have also added a supplementary under tray water tank up front. Adding the winch up front has helped too. There is also room for a box over the cab and beneath the camper's beak/bed. It IS all coming together and I won't need the 130 - so it will be for sale. We imported this unit from the US and it is going to be great!


28/12/2013: The old grey thrush has just about finished raising her SECOND clutch of three babes in the chink in our mud-brick wall where she nests. She seems determined to fill our small valley with birdsong! I was reminded yesterday afternoon that she is nonetheless a descendent of Tyrannosaurus, when she returned to her nest with a tiny still wriggling garden skink and managed to voice her melodious song with it still I her beak. I realised then that if we were the size of garden skinks we would view her song VERY differently!


28/12/2013: More snow and ice in Antarctica than there was 100 years ago when Mawson was there. If he had been there THIS year he would have DIED:


27/12/2013: Spectacular (&memorable) Earthrise on Apollo 8, Christmas Eve, December 1968: (& See:


26/12/2013: Received one of these knives for Xmas. It is just brilliant: overall weight 36.5g, knife only 27.5g (US$12.27). Blade is definitely thick enough and strong enough to split kindling though its big brother, the ‘Zombie Acheron’ has a slightly longer blade. It would definitely butcher a sambar deer or any other use you could put it to. Its sheath has a lanyard hole so you can hang it around your neck and quickly access it with one hand:


25/12/2013: It isn’t very often that we get to celebrate the life of one of the world’s great gun innovators such as Colt, Mauser, Mannlicher, Purdy etc BUT today Mikhail Kalashnikov IS no more:


24/12/2013: As mentioned in an earlier post 04/11/2013, I have ordered a heap of ‘hiking’ knives which might best be used to split wet firewood to create dry kindling & ‘excelsior’, but yesterday found THIS ‘Scanpan’one on sale in Aussie Disposals for $5.95! Weighing a mere 47 grams (including a VERY secure sheath) it will be hard to beat for the purpose. It would also make an excellent kitchen or utility knife maybe as a Xmas gift:



22/12/2013: Waterproof split-toe socks: you would THINK the Japanese (& others) who wear nothing but thongs would have long since invented them, but it seems they do NOT exist! However, I have modified my ultralight thongs into ultralight adjustable ‘thandels’ (@ 61 grams per pair) so that I can wear them with my seal skin waterproof socks making them into a useful pair of waterproof hut booties with very tough soles. The commercial alternative are these at 1.7 oz per pair. Their down socks sound great too:


21/12/2013: A SELF-WINDING watch! How I used to lust for such a treasure when I was a kid. I finally snagged one a couple of years ago for $200 and was over the moon. Quartz watches for some reason make me itchy and I haven’t seen a wind-up one for some time. This guy has Seiko self-winders on eBay from $65 + $18 delivery. You just HAVE to treat yourself:


21/12/2013: Just in case you might want to treat yourself TWICE, there ARE still manual winding watches, like this beauty for $12:


20/12/2013: Courtesy of an old friend, this interesting video; you have to wait until @ 2:45 but it is worth it. Our jumping jacks can expect this treatment soon:


18/12/2013: I am quite pleased with my latest ‘invention’ a self-cleaning pet water bowl. As you can see a timer empties the bowl (as often as desired) and it refills with a float valve (you could add a tap or another timer here to better regulate it). I have used a ¾” ‘Yorkshire’ copper elbow, some ¾” rubber hose and some ¼” micro irrigation outlets to help ‘flush’ the bowl. I will make the anti-drowning feature out of stainless mesh when I have located some. This should work well for messy birds (such as Della’s Dusky Lorikeets), or even as a dog waterer on the verandah:




18/12/2013: This guy’s ultralight stove set-ups are astonishing. Imagine a wood stove which weighs 32 grams! Or a Titanium version of the ‘Bushbuddy’ ( that weighs only 78 grams! For the real ultralighter, there is a 2-fuel pot and stove combo that weighs 45 grams! Comparable products are Trail Design’s Ti Tri ( and Evernew’s DX ( 


18/12/2013: The Fawcett expeditions: watched an interesting doco an SBS about Col Percy Fawcett which mentioned the astonishing substance ‘Terra Preta’ which has been discovered (partly) as a result of his (fatal) efforts ( See also: for a recipe). Taken together with this guy’s insights into fungi ( & see also: I think Tony’s alternative carbon ‘solution’ IS the right one. If we can massively increase carbon in soils in these ways we can vastly increase agricultural (and natural) outputs – which is surely a win-win strategy?


17/12/2013: I see Fenix has a new SINGLE AAA head torch, the HL 10 ( weighing 42.5 grams including the head elastic. I have been using their LD 01 coupled with a couple of O-rings, one micro-cord lock and some hat elastic for this purpose but this arrangement doesn’t point well (due to the shape of heads = just above where the eyes focus. If you replace the Fenix headband with the above arrangement you should have a torch which points where you want it @ less than 20 grams (discluding battery). Of course, as an emergency back-up torch we also carry a ‘Photon Freedom’ @ 6.2 grams including battery ( The cord in the Photon Freedom photo can be used to transform it into a head torch: at just over 6 grams it is probably the lightest head torch.


17/12/2013: Watched the movie/documentary, ‘The Last Trapper’ (2004) tonight. Well worth a look. It certainly reminds me of why I still push for multi-day wilderness hiking trips – if you have never done such a thing, you should. (Put it on your bucket list! At least!). We are planning several days hiking out of Supper Cove, Dusky Sound, Fiordland, NZ sometime Feb/March ( Have been there before (lots of times) but am still drawn back to the wilderness, the beauty, the solitude, the challenge… We will probably do some camping out in our Zpacks Solo-plus ( ‘tent’ this time, not just staying in huts…


13/12/2013: Don’t let THIS be YOU:


12/12/2013: It sure is COLD out there: minus 94C measured in Antarctica – cold enough to freeze CO2 out of the atmosphere (though because of partial pressure, NOT at that altitude – nearly 4,000 metres!) SOME planet:


11/12/2013: Went to these folks’ site to order Della a set of lenses for her smart phone when I was blown away by the photo gear they have for smart phones! Freight is reasonable too:


09/12/2013: Human prehistory becomes stranger and stranger:


08/12/2013: Homo Erectus mastered fire 790,000 years ago: and maybe created THIS amazing artefact 230,000 years ago (cf ‘Our conclusion is that this object was purposely modified by hominids.’;jsessionid=C3820F32074D17818923916A23FF7713.journals?fromPage=online&aid=76619) maybe also the Tan Tan figurine from Morocco @ 400,000 years old ( These little guys certainly made their way to some places (eg islands) where they would have had to be able to build large boats to access (which argues for their having had LANGUAGE). If so, then the ‘human brain’ PREDATED humans – which is a pretty mind-boggling concept really. It also makes you think about the ‘legends’ of the ‘little people’.


08/12/2013: Life constantly tosses up novel unexpected experiences. Yesterday driving into Churchill I saw two tiny rails on the side of the road (like miniature brown-feathered velociraptors). My guess is they were Lewin Water –Rails (or maybe Marsh Crakes – probably the latter as they were very small; I only saw them for an instant). I am almost astonished that in a life mis-spent wandering wild places I had NEVER seen them before, yet yesterday saw them on the verge of a busy main road!


07/12/2013: Structures 15 TIMES the diameter of the Earth (and in plain view) found ‘hiding’ in our neighbourhood! What else don’t we know about the sun? Yet Chicken Little believes EVERYTHING is down to AGW! What fanciful tosh!



04/12/2013: Today celebrating the Big Six-O with the lovely Dell-A. Seems like only yesterday I met her when she was just seventeen; she is ever my Dellight! Have a lovely day! Now we are sixty... A big thank you to all my FB friends for the birthday wishes and to my dear family for spoiling me. I had a lovely (damp) day at an excellent plant nursery and a wonderful evening with the family!


06/12/2013: Just across the valley, this morning THIS is the forecast: SNOW! (AND we have the heater on!) O, AGW ‘WHERE is thy sting?’


10/12/2013: Lousy weather this morning forced me to look indoors for a task, so FINALLY it looks like Christmas in Jeeralang...this afternoon's weather was even worse, but half a day doing house tizzying was more than enough for me. The verandah was a tad cold and blustery, but the bay window now boasts its first coat of be revisited tomorrow! Thanks to Merrin & Matt for my amazing new antler wreath (stocked, of course, by Yinnar General Store!). Tonight I hung it in my window and added some previously felted birds and fungi. Might felt up some berry sprigs to twine through it tomorrow night.


16/12/2013: Yesterday we shore, drenched and injected ALL our remaining sheep – a job which used to take a week, and still had time for a cold beer on the verandah! SO nice to be retired.


06/12/2013: All over the country farmers, pet owners, manufacturers of animal housing, feeding, & handling equipment make and install equipment which does NOT injure or kill animals. Lucky sheep, ducks, parakeets, etc. Melbourne zoo, with oceans of ‘qualified’ staff (and no doubt countless meetings, bonuses, perks etc) cannot care for ONE BABY ELEPHANT. WHAT? Did I hear them correctly? ‘It hanged itself with/from its favourite toy.’ The lunatics are running the asylum!


06/12/2013: Just across the valley, this morning THIS is the forecast: SNOW! (AND we have the heater on!) O, AGW ‘WHERE is thy sting?’


04/12/2013: Today celebrating the Big Six-O with the lovely Dell-A. Seems like only yesterday I met her when she was just seventeen; she is ever my Dellight! Have a lovely day!


02/12/2013: Some of those mountain men were TOUGH, eg Hugh Glass. There is an excellent 1971 movie loosely based on his life, ‘Man in the Wilderness’…terribly wounded in an attack by a grizzly, he nonetheless survived and made his way back 200 miles to ‘civilisation’:


02/12/2013: Also ‘Jeremiah Johnson’ another of my favourite movies;  The Mountain Men 1980, Death Hunt 1981, Daniel Boone 1936…The ‘Mad trapper of Rat River’ aka Albert Johnson still presents an interesting mystery:


02/12/2013: MORE on the ‘Mad Trapper’:


01/12/2013: I-Phone telephoto…NEAT idea: (Others available: , , etc)


30/11/2013: Though still a bit stiff and sore (I think mainly from the VERY hot walk on Wednesday afternoon) I am pretty happy to be still able to walk 20+km a day carrying a pack (even in fairly rugged country). Of course it helps if you can reduce the weight of the contents of your pack (including the pack weight itself). Some tips: Zpacks sell cuben fibre packs which weigh from less than 230 grams (Della’s), (Tip: include a Sea to Summit ultrasil pack liner bag and another for your bag and clothes in case you have to swim!), sub-zero sleeping bags from 397 grams, two person tents (inc poncho floor) less than 350 grams; Gossamer Gear’s carbon fibre hiking poles are @100 grams each (a MUST! They reduce walking effort – and falls - by 30%+); Trail Designs will sell you a three fuel cookset which weighs under 250 grams; Montbell’s  ultra light super-stretch down sleeping bags are wonderfully comfy and their down vests and jackets (or synthetic if you plan on getting wet) are very light weight (and GREAT!). We wear Columbia lightweight nylon shirts and trousers. Wigwam make GREAT socks (Tip: always wear liner socks; use blister pads immediately if you develop a sore spot!) Thermarest’s new Women’s Neoair Xlite mat is 340 grams and R3.9 - the most comfortable sleep you have ever had. We are each wearing Keen hiking shoes at the moment (my sandal models are less than 350 grams ea in size 8, probably HALF the weight of the shoes YOU are wearing. THIS makes an ENORMOUS difference. TIP: Don’t worry about getting your feet wet, but do weigh your shoes when wet: some brands MORE than DOUBLE in weight when wet! Happy trails!


Wilsons Prom Lighthouse

29/11/2013: TO THE LIGHTHOUSE: 43km, two days: one hot, one wet & cold to (& from) Wilsons Prom light station. For full story you will have to wait for Della's post. Today: both a bit calf-sore but busy helping cut and pack ten lambs for Xmas (& many other) dinners!



20/11/2013: Have been canoeing the Macalister River for over twenty years – and there have always been fish eagles like this guy. Magnificent creature, feasting on the many introduced carp, redfin and trout to be found in the river – and without which he (and his mate – off somewhere nesting I suspect) would not be there.


20/11/2013: Spent yesterday (5 ½ hours) white water canoeing on the Macalister River in our new ‘Old Town Pack Angler’ canoes which worked wonderfully. What was not so wonderful was that our JR, Tiny fell out of Della’s canoe unnoticed on an entertaining 1 metre drop. When we stopped a couple of km further on to portage a dangerous Grade 3 rapid we noticed she was missing and had to paddle/hike back to look for her. After 2 hours and 1km vertically up and down we finally found her and could resume our journey. Understandably this morning we are all quite tired. There is a new river height gauge at Licola. Yesterday it was 1.73 which made for quite good conditions (probably about .85 -.9 on the old gauge. I would say the river is canoeable from about 1.68 to 1.8 after which it would become much more entertaining. Warning: There are a number of trees stuck in rapids, particularly the Grade 3 rapid just below the Burgoyne’s Track crossing which definitely need portaging (on the right).


20/11/2013: Gauge height had dropped to 1.71 this morning so likely was more like 1.72 yesterday, excellent conditions. I figure it to be canoeable at approx 2" less than that (though much canoe bottom scraping) so from @1.67


20/11/2013: Thinking seriously about investing in some better insoles to improve hiking comfort: &


18/11/2013: Aloksak make really great waterproof to 200 metres snaplock bags. This one is even big enough to put your rifle in (great for canoeing/boating/hunting trips. It is the only waterproof gun bag I know of:


06/11/2013: Vernal profligacy continues unabated (mostly outside) our bedroom window. The bronze-wing pigeons are well ‘at it’ with much fan-tailing behaviour and careful twig selection in typical ‘columbine’ fashion.’ Hazel’ & ‘Blackberry’ our new lepine (or lapine?) denizens, not yet pot-bound (as Della pretends incompetence with her Rossi .410) still scamper unaccompanied – but I fear not for long. Indeed (as Lear observed) ‘The wren goes to 't’ - or at least two (or more) do, sometimes as I noted once before with the Thornbills! ‘A young man’s fancy…’ Enough!


05/11/2013: Alcohol simmer stoves: these look good – may try out the ‘Turbo 1-D’ and the ‘Trailbaker’:


02/11/2013: A packable .22 Winchester Magnum rifle at under 1 pound has to be a useful thing to own, surely?


01/11/2013: All that most folks know about ENGINEERING was taught to them by the nursery story, ‘The Three Little Pigs,’ which explains their passion for ‘brick veneer’ houses - which have to be just about the WORST DESIGN IDEA of all time for housing. Further to that folly, the design standards for even this disaster-in-the-making idea for a house have declined over the years - so that now the flimsy stick construction (which is what is supposed to hold up the single tier of bricks (which will not stand up by themselves - try this with your child’s blocks! Older houses were double brick) has declined from one HARDWOOD (F17-21) 2”x4” (50x100mm) upright every 18” (45cm) to one 1 1/4 “x 3” treated pine (F5-7) every 60cm and NO joints, everything just butt nailed. However, the metal ties which link the framing to the brick course have improved (They are now galvanised). If yours was built before this happened the walls WILL just fall down one day. On top of this flimsy structure people insist on placing an enormously heavy (yet poorly secured) masonry tile roof with no structural or tensile strength instead of screwed down (eg) galvanised iron as on their garage (which they can expect to last longer and withstand storms, fire etc better than their houses). People are also building such houses on concrete pads (instead of elevated stumps) on flood plains like almost the entire city of Brisbane. THEN they expect the rest of us to shell out for their ignorance and folly through vastly inflated insurance premiums. We have even had such folks turn up their noses at OUR hurricane, fire, flood and earthquake proof house because of its APPEARANCE, or because we have never quite finished it, or because we built it ourselves every brick, saw-cut and nail, or because it cost next to nothing! Literacy and numeracy have also declined!


31/10/2013: Interested in lightweight HIKING? This set of Links will set you off on some wonderful adventures, eg Brasslite alcohol stoves, down booties, Rutalocura products inc carbon fibre trekking poles & Tenkara fly rods for same, pack rifles etc, etc:


31/10/2013: If you are interested in hiking/fishing, these lightweight rods and reels are interesting too ( and these are just about the best hand casters in the world:


28/10/2013: Hiking food: Continental Sensations Cup a Soup: ‘Sweet Potato with Bacon & Cream’ IS delicious. Pop one in YOUR day-pack!


27/10/2013: The platypus sure IS cute; I often delight to see one in the wild on one of my many backcountry hiking trips, but they rarely let me tickle them like this:


26/10/2013: An (environmentalist driven) lack of fuel reduction burns is what is making bushfires worse: David Evans: ‘There has been a hiatus in the rise of average global air temperatures for the last fifteen years or more…While this does not rule out warming in some regions, climate cannot have been much of a contributor to the worsening bushfire situation over the last fifteen years…Current fuel loads are now typically 30 tonnes per hectare in the forests of southeast Australia, compared to maybe 8 tonnes per hectare in the recent and ancient past’:


22/10/2013: What drives home the reality that our last Westie and our last cat are no more is the fact that a brace of (live) conies has invaded the garden (seen this morning outside the bedroom window enjoying their silflay), something we haven’t seen here in over twenty years. What the two JRs are doing about it is a mystery. It is (sort of) nice to see that they have survived the myxo, the calici, the bushfires, etc, etc BUT methinks they are destined for the pot – if I can work on Della’s gun handling skills a bit…


20/10/2013: The Call: Carl H. Emmons


 Did you ever have a longin’ to get out and buck the trail,

And to face the crashin’ lightnin’ and the thunder and the gale?

Not for no partic’lar reason but to give the world the laugh,

And to show the roarin’ elyments you still can stand the gaff.


Don’t you ever feel a yearnin’ just to try your luck again

Down the rippin’ plungin’ rapids with a bunch of reg’lar men?

Don’t you ever sorta hanker for a rough and risky trip,

Just to prove you’re still a livin’ and you haven’t lost your grip?


Can’t you hear the woods a-callin’ for to have another try

Sleepin’ out beneath the spruces with a roof of moonlit sky,

With the wind a sorta singin’ through the branches overhead

And your fire a gaily crackin’ and your pipe a-glowin’ red?


Don’t you often get to feelin’ sorta cramped and useless there,

Makin’ figgers and a-shinin’ your pants upon a chair?

Don’t you yearn to get acquainted once again with Life and God?

If you don’t, then Heaven help you, for you’re a dyin’ in yer pod.


20/10/2013: These amazing fossil hominids from Dmanisi in Georgia may cause a further rethinking of the human narrative ( Schliemann’s discoveries at Troy and Mycenae ( made us realise that myth and archaeology could come together. Since then there have been many archaeological vindications of ancient stories (many Old Testament sites - eg Jericho, have been extensively excavated – though the Palaeolithic tower found there still provides many mysteries to answer). This has led some to wonder about the provenance of myths about ‘little people and giants’ in folklore. These homo erectus skulls and the ‘hobbits’ found on Flores give one pause to wonder, that’s for sure. You begin to wonder whether eg Ramapithecus ( or Neanderthal man have given rise to legends of trolls, goblins, etc or whether the fossils we have found are outliers, whilst instead we inhabited the same world as them (as has been clearly demonstrated by the Flores discoveries). The Sumerian ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’ – and particularly his hairy friend Enkidu, echoing as it does the Biblical ‘legend’ of Esau make one wonder. The fact that some of these early ‘men’ have been found  on islands which never had a land bridge over a million years ago also makes one realise that they MUST have been able to build boats which implies quite ‘human’ levels of cultural sophistication, including language?


18/10/2013: ATTENTION dual cab owners: Get a REAL 4WD, one that can easily tow a bogged Landie (Warning: May not be road legal – or affordable!) :


17/10/2013: It is SO hard to keep track of the origins of the influences which inform our opinions, nay our TRUISMS. An example: it was the Marxist historian Gordon Childe who ‘invented’ the ‘Neolithic Revolution’, a ‘fact’ which I had not questioned until recently. In so doing, he had drawn parallels with the ‘Industrial Revolution’ (which I must also reprise soon) and had created a narrative of the human story (which like the ideal of ‘progress’ for example) is wholly false, apparently. The discoveries at Gobeki Tepe, Jerf el Ahmar, Wadi Faynan, etc, etc undo the sequence of events in our prehistory underlining eg the certainty that culture takes precedence over necessity (thus overturning a fundamental tenet of leftist social studies curricula of the last 30 (?) years which have taught two generations at least that the essential human necessities are first & in order: air, water, food, shelter…) In these astonishing sites we see that prehistoric hunters were constructing (Palaeolithic) monuments LONG BEFORE the invention of farming, so that clearly CULTURE takes precedence over all else in the human mind: an adamantine fact which policy makers everywhere need to cleave to, utterly:


16/10/2013: Looking into ways to ‘convert’ a wagon into a camper. There ARE some interesting products out there, eg these two: &


15/10/2013: Australian farmers (and many others) have never been able to afford eg a High Court challenge to the clearly unconstitutional various environmental & ‘native species’ legislations which have stolen huge chunks of their land and deprived them of their livelihood for more than twenty years (aka ‘dispossession’). These laws are clearly unconstitutional in that they deprive people of their private property without just compensation perhaps the only ‘right’ existing in that document. Many have lost their farms completely. We personally lost over $500,000 (which would have come in very handy in our retirement!) Meanwhile though, our Government spends $74 million pa on ‘Aparthied Justice’ ie legal aid specifically for ‘aborigines & Torrres Strait islanders’ in addition to spending which is available to ALL Australians. Often it is spent on folks whom any civilised society would want to lock up and throw away the key, else hang from the nearest lamp-post such as the ‘perp’ in THIS case. Similarly folk of the approved colour (though not necessarily very much of it - as so many are blue-eyed!) can eg continue to demand (and receive) ‘land rights’ even though they have been state dependents for c200  years and have never paid a single cent in Council rates (nor ever will), nor (unlike the farmers above) produced a single scrap of food from their land, even land which was purchased for them as premium grazing properties, and continue to be state dependents and too often malefactors to boot. This apartheid HAS to stop :


14/10/2013: Dogs certainly have memories and feelings too:


14/10/2013: A great TRIBUTE: Miranda Devine: ‘THE state funeral for Rusty Priest; World War II veteran, RSL president and keeper of the Anzac flame, was magnificent. Dignitaries and old soldiers gathered at St Mary’s Cathedral and followed the gun carriage carrying his coffin across a sun-drenched Hyde Park to the Anzac memorial. A grand tribute to a humble soldier who did so much to boost Anzac Day and the Kokoda Track. Priest did not crave the spotlight. So it was fitting that a poem read by former Army Chief Ken Gillespie paid homage to the soldiers whose welfare Priest made his life’s work.


It is the soldier, not the minister, who has given us freedom of religion. It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organiser, who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the soldier, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.

It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.’


13/10/2013: These hiking poles are wonderful. ($175 per pair –recommended). At just over 100 grams each they are about 150 grams lighter (per pole) than Leki (et al) which means for a lot less work using them. I reckon they take 30% plus effort out of walking - particularly over hilly and undulating terrain and they have prevented me from having MANY nasty falls (and possible broken bones, an increasing worry as you get older – and in remote areas. The number of people I have had to have ‘choppered out’ with such injuries over the years would amaze you. Unbelievably one of these poles will take all of MY weight. We also use them for tent poles, for our zpacks and home made tents. It IS possible to remove a small round ‘plug’ from the handle of one and to insert the bottom section of the other pole there to make an extra long tent pole (6’plus) such as might be needed for one of the taller pyramid tents (egMountain Laurel Designs ‘Megamid’):


12/10/2013: A couple of years back we installed a  ‘Solatronics’ automatic gate opener ( ) on our front gate which has worked flawlessly since, and which we can lock when we are ‘out’. When we are ‘in’ you just press a button on a post to be let in. Chosen folks have a remote in their cars. It HAS discouraged Jehovahs and petty thieves quite well. There has been a complete drop-off in the number of cars mysteriously driving in and out of our property, not that we have a lot which is worth stealing anyway (unless you are an antique Subaru collector!) We are wondering if our front gate is now in contravention of the new legislation banning domestic fortifications? We had been planning installing security doors and screens, and possibly roller shutters at a later date. We are already well armed, though the purchase of a Rossi Circuit Judge (available Walmart: has been foreshadowed. Age seems to make one more fearful, if not more paranoid. I am more than disquieted that our nanny (Liberal?) State has banned people attempting to defend themselves from malefactors whose numbers still seem to be increasing – possibly because they have been paid to breed instead of being hanged for the last forty years?. First they came for the bikies…


13/10/2013: 7 ½ hours walking the ‘Grand Strzelecki Track’  doing a section (Jeeralang West Rd to Branniffs Rd) which is supposedly 12 km. This was the longest 12 km we have ever walked. I would estimate the last four hours along Billy’s Creek was >12km. Della and the two Jack Russells are stuffed! A bit more work (and thought) needs to go into this track, particularly better suggested times, a few campsites would be handy (and a LOT fewer stinging nettles). Other than that it IS MUCH better than Tasmanian walks. 




12/10/2013: Attention ultralight hikers: this guy has some of the best alcohol stove anywhere and at a good price. We have found his products excellent and have used them for many years:


12/10/2013: A truly fascinating study of dogs’ brains:


12/10/2013: Always learning: I have known since Primary School what ‘a pig in a poke’ means (and why one should avoid its associated porcine salespersons!) but I am grateful to last night’s ‘QI’ for enlightening me that a ‘pocket’ is something to keep a ‘piglet’ in -  which had not occurred to me before, though it should have. I am yet to learn what ‘poke’ means on ‘Facebook’, and perhaps I don’t want to, knowing what it has always meant for MY generation. We had to learn the meanings of many other strange mensurational and venal terms at Primary School. I can still tell you how many ‘pecks’ there are in a ‘bushel’, and how many ‘bushels’ there are in a bag of wheat, (and that there are more in a bag of oats – something which I have put to good use, as sheep LOVE oats, though I don’t know about ‘ivy’ - which might be poisonous to ovines for all I know), and how many of those to a ‘ton’, for example. One of my grandfather’s favourite sayings was, ‘You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die,’ a most enigmatic and ambiguous admonishment which you ignore at your peril!


10/10/2013: Bill Bryson has a new book on the year 1927, which is a very interesting idea for a book (Review here: I enjoyed his one about hiking the Appalachian trail ( )


03/10/2013: Bad news for me: the only one I own is the Leatherman (Micro, by choice). I am a failure:


03/10/2013: I have long been a lover of Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) (& A.E. Housman)




Under the wide and starry sky,

Dig the grave and let me lie.

Glad did I live and gladly die,

And I laid me down with a will.


This be the verse you grave for me:

Here he lies where he longed to be;

Home is the sailor, home from sea,

And the hunter home from the hill.


Stevenson's Requiem is inscribed on his gravestone in Samoa. A great admirer, A.E. Housman, wrote R.L.S as a tribute to Stevenson:




Home is the sailor, home from sea:

Her far-borne canvas furled

The ship pours shining on the quay

The plunder of the world.


Home is the hunter from the hill:

Fast in the boundless snare

All flesh lies taken at his will

And every fowl of air.


'Tis evening on the moorland free,

The starlit wave is still:

Home is the sailor from the sea,

The hunter from the hill.


30/09/2013: I just LOVE the wild places, and have long ago discovered Teddy’s various books about hunting too; I think I started with a book about hound hunting mountain lions in what is now Yellowstone. It should never be forgotten that this, the first national park in the world was declared by this great Republican President - & famous hunter…I just loved the film about him starring Sean Connery and Candice Bergman; ‘The Wind & the Lion’. The most memorable photo in the book was of a treed ‘lion’ maybe 100’ up a pine tree with a huge hound baying at him from about 6’ below: "The encouragement of a proper hunting spirit, a proper love of sport, instead of being incompatible with a love of nature and wild things, offers the best guaranty of their preservation." Theodore Roosevelt. Yes!


29/09/2013: I am often gob-smacked by just how bright Willis Eschenbach is, but THIS observation was astonishing. Could breathing OUT more combat the breathlessness you get by strenuous walking uphill. I tried this out on my recent hunting trip, and it’s TRUE. I was able to walk in one go to the top of hills I normally have to pause several times to ascend and arrive completely NOT out of breath. Try it yourself:


29/09/2013: Back from one of my favourite places in Wonnangatta-Moroka: six hours walk in from my car & five hours drive from here to the closest driveable location. This has to be one of the remotest areas in Victoria. Deer (and dingoes!) as common as rabbits elsewhere. Took our old Jack Russell, Tiny along for the walk. Turns out she is fitter than me and was still keen to hunt after six hours’ walking. It also turns out that deer are utterly mystified by Tiny whom they honk repeatedly at whilst ignoring me utterly, whilst presenting (to me) perfect targets. Just had to shoot one (or two & etc) for the dog who promptly buried bits of them all over the bush, just in case she should pass this way again. At about 14 years old this becomes increasingly unlikely. TWICE we figured packs of dingoes were hunting us: about 8:00pm on Fri night a pack came barking down our back trail from up river and had deer honking at them at about 30 yards out in the dark, (& me only having four shots in these ‘new’ John Howard mandated rifles and my trusty machete). Figured we could take about five of them. This pack must have picked up on an orphaned calf and clearly made their kill about 200 yards up the hill behind the camp from where they set up the most infernal howling for hours! That, and a sudden wind change and downpour made it hard to sleep. As we were walking out on Saturday another pack were again seemingly hunting our back trail this time led by what sounded like a bloodhound cross from the baying (MOST unusual for a dingo – these wild dogs have crossed with who know what other nasty breeds and are no doubt becoming more dangerous. Note to self: take more ammo next time). Fortunately they picked up the scent trail of a stag I had previously had two shots at (but been unable to locate – worse luck). The pack located him though! Better than eating us I suppose.



A deer just for Tiny!


22/09/2013: AUTOBIKE: If it can be coupled with a crank driven electric motor, this bike would be PERFECT:


21/09/2013: THIS is Northumberlandia, the ‘Goddess of the North’, the largest sculpture of a woman on Earth (note the size of the cars lower left). It is a reclaimed open-cut coal mine – and YOU said you were opposed to ‘King Coal’? Foolish mortal:


20/09/2013: Getting out into the world of people (which I do NOT often) IS interesting, though I feel a need for a goodly dose of wilderness to assuage it…It is pleasant that there ARE many sensible folks out there, but it is also unfortunate that there are so many who seem to have got their ideas from (perhaps a Greenpeace?) recycling bin, or as a job lot with a cheap set of steak knives…It IS bizarre to be lectured by folks about BOTH eg plastic bags, global warming and greed who drive to funerals in brand-new $60,000+ SUVs and who seem to be unaware that you can (if you feel THAT way!) eg brew your own beer , have a vegie garden, drive a  Landrover which NEVER rusts/wears out as EVERY part of every LR ever made is readily available (cheaply), and who are evidently unaware that the world has cooled for 202 consecutive months or that it was MUCH warmer in the Middle Ages or that ‘resources’ are created by MAN and NOT by nature: eg John D Rockefeller CREATED the petroleum resource (in creating Standard Oil) a resource which had until then only ever been a curiosity or a nuisance and that in so doing HE SAVED THE WHALES (c 1880!). NEW resources are being created daily by human ingenuity and enterprise as old ones fall into abeyance. So mote it be! How such folks (others sustained handsomely on  welfare yet who decry the evils of capitalism) fail to understand the immense benefits which human ingenuity AND capitalism have brought to the great bulk of mankind over the last couple of centuries, benefits which, if anything, are only accelerating (thank human Goodness!) today…


14/09/2013: Harry ‘Smith’ of the Wonnangatta:  Having discovered BOTH the murder victim’s bodies (many kilometres apart), Harry was long under suspicion of the crime. We will probably never know.


14/09/2013: The grey thrush is sitting on a nest of eggs in the chink in the house wall where a brick has been missing (for this purpose) the last 20+ years. She missed a couple of years lately as her mate must have been killed by a fox/cat, but she has a new one now, and is working hard at filling our little valley with their wonderful birdsong. The swallows are back from China/Siberia/Korea – wherever they go, more numerous than ever. Nice to think someone else loves them as much as I do on the other side of the world. I sometimes wish I knew where they went - so I could visit them sometime there in our off-season. Would be interesting to meet their ‘other’ people if they have some. The wrens, blackbirds and thornbills are hard at it outside our bedroom window in the mornings, and when I open the front door there is a myriad of sparrow song from our archway straight outside. It IS Spring, after all!


11/09/2013: That’s ME: ‘And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over’,

John Masefield, (Can YOU believe: 1 June 1878 – 12 May 1967?) ‘Sea Fever’, Ah, Yes! Lovely!

& This: ‘Let no religious rite be done or read

In any place for me when I am dead,

But burn my body into ash, and scatter

The ash in secret into running water,

Or on the windy down, and let none see;

And then thank God that there’s an end of me.’


11/09/2013: Hiking Food: we are always adding to our repertoire: on our last trip Della’s dehydrated savoury mince added to Continental Dehydrated Potato Mash reconstituted to a very acceptable ‘Shepherd’s Pie’ for example. Lately we have been trying out several dehydrated lentil meals. Coles have several under the name, ‘Celebrate Health’ (eg Indian Marsala Lentils - quite nice). The BEST so far is Ainsley  Harriott’s ‘Lentil Dahl’ which is SPECTACULARLY GOOD. We are eating this (&farting) at home indecently often. Highly recommended!


07/09/2013: On the lighter side, some interesting ‘venereal’ terms ( a word which might NOT mean what you THINK it does. Clue: ‘a column of accountants’):


07/09/2013: A ‘Great Circle’ as most of you no doubt know, is a circle that goes clear around the entire globe, and whose centre is at the centre of the globe - such as the meridians of longitude, for example. The ‘Prime Meridian’ passes through Greenwich and the International Date Line where there is an island Taveuni, on which you can stand with one foot in yesterday and one foot in today!


05/09/2013: Our new TENT, (Thank you Della for the father’s day present!) z-pack’s hexamid solo plus tarp ( = 176 grams) mated with their double poncho/groundsheet ( = 173 grams), Total 349 grams plus guys and pegs and carbon fibre  pole (57 grams) if not using a hiking pole, still totals less than 500 grams! Pretty light for a two-person tent!


02/09/2013: 23 years we have been here (at Jeeralang Junction) and have not been able to see another house. NOW someone is building a MacMansion 400 metres away on the top of the hill overlooking us. May there be very big winds!


01/09/2013: Spring, Day #1: 24C on the verandah here at Jeeralang Junction. Five days in a row forecast over 25C on the Wonnagatta River. Eye specialist appointment (Della) Melbourne Monday, but Tues-Wed (27C & 28C) are a possible two-day run down from eg the Kingwill Bridge to Waterford, but .6m over the ‘normal’ summer (canoeable) height of 1.8m at Waterford would make for an ‘interesting’ trip (may have to wait for the ‘real’ summer & our new Old Town ‘Pack Angler’ [@14kg ea!] Canadians): &


30/08/2013: Greenie sympathisers are banging away about Tony’s pledge to scrap Labor’s Marine National Parks. Frankly National parks are a bleeding disgrace: Since when did any National Park protect anything? I do multi-day hikes in (eg) Wonnangatta-Moroka all the time. It is a disgraceful example of introduced weeds and vermin proliferating, together with uncontrolled wildfire causing widespread destruction of native plants and animals. National Parks are a VERY BAD IDEA. Greenies did not discover them or ‘save’ them. Most have never visited them (and never will) – as for going on multi-day hikes in them: well, first of all under National Parks legislation it would be illegal unless one was a deer hunter (I am), second: pull the other leg: these folks will never get off their arses (or out of them!) The areas were obviously under perfectly good management BEFORE they were made into National Parks, else they would not have been there TO SAVE! A more piecemeal approach to land management (such as would exist WITHOUT them) would ensure a greater diversity of opportunities for plants and animals, and therefore be better conservation practice than the wholesale approach which locking up land as National Parks is - which just exposes the whole area to wholesale dangers (such as enormous wildfires) & etc.


17/08/2013: Great torch. Della bought me one for my birthday: Max 260 lumens. Weight 55 grams (with battery, 78 with headband too). A great little torch. Highly recommended. US$69 inc freight:


10/08/2013: The GOOD NEWS is she WILL, ‘when I’m 64’!


10/08/2013: As Della already posted we camped at beautiful Blond Bay, Gippsland on Tuesday night & at the Glasshouse, Lake Tyers on Wednesday night. Winter is always the BEST time for camping as it is solitary and you can have a warm fire if you want (our camper has a as heater, so we are always toasty!) Most of the night we were lullabied by swan song: it is only the Northern Hemisphere swans who are mute (and give voice reputedly only in the moment of their deaths). Ours have many interesting vocalisations… AND the dogs bailed a hog deer not twenty yards from our caravan... AND, the deer BARKED back like dogs too!



04/08/2013: Practically everything you ever wanted to know about hammock camping (plus a little more):


03/08/2013: TOP TIP: You know how you can’t cut through the roots of trees with a chain saw as it goes immediately blunt when the chain hits dirt? If you want to cut a tree right down to the ground (or below) a sabre saw is the answer (eg . PS: I have found my cordless Makita angle grinder (which uses the same battery system) to be just about the best thing I have ever had - and strongly recommend one for your beloved’s Xmas pressie. PPS: Some brands of cordless sabre saws take a pole attachment which would be good for tree pruning.

01/08/2013: Just LOVE Dr Google who has shown me how to cure the incurable (computer invisible) engine problem in our new TD5 Defender which now goes like a rocket!


01/08/2013: AND should you need to make your own machine gun out of those stray plumbing fittings in the garage (surely a DIY must have?), this guy has some excellent plans (I would be careful about downloading them though…):


01/08/2013: If you happen to need a lock pick (and who des NOT?) these folks have them. Their lock pick gun @ $69.95 would make lovely gift for any of your outlaw relatives:


01/08/2013: These folks have some pretty neat stuff, suitable for presents (NOT a hint), survival & etc, eg miniature compasses & signalling mirrors, springers for fishing, a great range of knives - & this is ‘peanut lighter:


09/07/2013: Can’t WAIT for this stuff to hit the supermarket shelves here. The world just keeps getting better and better (despite the tyranny of choice!) :


09/07/2013: Another great product: Ultra Ever Dry:


24/06/2013: GREAT poem: John Masefield (1878-1967) Sea Fever


I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,

And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,

And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.


I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.


I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,

To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;

And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.


18/06/2013: AMAZING skill with a simple ‘weapon’:


16/06/2013: Recently Della and I circumnavigated the Snowy River in our Defender and (see my post 30/3/2013) and camper ( The area up around McKillops Bridge remains today an isolated place to live. It must have been much moreso eg when the Ambon Settlement was founded as a soldier settlement scheme after WW1 (there remains an interesting historic suspension bridge constructed so that the poor farmers there could get their produce to market – though it certainly could not have been fresh produce) and one wonders how they coped when a child was sick. Even today education is a major difficulty with the only school in the district (at Tubbutt) having only TWO students but otherwise obviating many hours’ travel per day. I could not help but sorrow at the dreadful effect that the ‘latte set’ is having on people’s lives there. Successive ‘green’ policies have stolen their grazing, logging and farming neighbours and converted their land into ill-managed (and seldom visited - especially by the chattering classes) ‘National’ Parks from which periodically they are attacked by dreadful, unnecessary unstoppable wildfires. (Not to mention introduced animals, vermin and weeds). One can see the successive waves of regrowth from the more recent fires along their hillsides as their pastures have been overtaken by a profusion of native weeds (aka gums/wattles etc) which they have had neither time nor money to remove. Again ‘green’ policies mean they cannot re-clear them or even plough fields which once shipped wheat to Sydney or Melbourne if they have lain fallow for a scant ten years. The struggle to make a living in such an unforgiving place means they are slowly slipping away, leaving the burden of enormous work to fewer and fewer, abandoning the work of their parents and grandparents without a penny to show for it, leaving abandoned farmhouses and fences leaning and weathering away into the landscape. I have often thought (and said) that there should be an open season on ‘Greens’. When I visit these wild places and see what a dreadful impact ‘green’ policies are having on them, I am moved to recommend May as a good time - being after the Duck, Hog deer and Red deer seasons. There should be no size or bag limits! AND no exceptions!


12/06/2013: 3,000 km in six days to help celebrate my sister’s 70th birthday. Hope she enjoyed it as WE are both frazzled. Interesting trip though: got to see some awful parts of Western NSW I thought I would never visit (ever the masochist, Della opines we might go back for a closer look – when we hate ourselves enough!), and caught up with a lot of old friends and relatives along the way.


7/06/2013: I am RATHER fond of this guy’s designs FOR repeating hex nut firing rubber band guns:


3/06/2013: These new sandals/thongs look like the ‘go’ for folks wishing to have a spare pair of ‘shoes’ around camp, for river crossings or in case their hiking shoes die etc. Definitely on MY birthday list. At 3 oz (85-90g) they are a little heavier than my home-made pair I posted about on 20/12/2012 which weighed 58 grams, but may prove more robust being Vibram soles etc. I notice they also have special ( socks to wear with them. Neat:


31/05/2013: Back from four days’ hiking in the Wonnangatta–Moroka National Park with the lovely Della and the two (illegal) Jack Russells who just have to see this wonderful wilderness which is being preserved for ‘future generations’ but NOT for the current one – particularly of JRs! We know a beautiful remote flat where we camped amid the comings and goings and roars of numerous sambar deer. There has been no such comeback for native critters (particularly birds) since the fires of over five years ago. The forest remains silent of birdsong (even with my new hearing aids!) Fire killed timber is now coming down in a BIG way. The silence is continually punctured by the crashing of falling dead forest giants (‘habitat’ trees?). They will make canoeing the river difficult for a generation. There used to be such a log jam (say 200 metres long) for @ 25 years about a day’s canoeing downstream from the Humffray confluence but the floods which succeeded the fires cleared it a few years back. I think the 4WD tracks get worse every year: DSE’s 15,000 employees seem to think that ‘work’ means ‘having meetings’. A handful of people with decently equipped 4WD tractors could make every bush track a 2WD road and so provide opportunity for current AND future generations to explore our wilderness areas. In any case you need a VERY serious piece of 4WD gear to get into (and particularly OUT OF) the Wonnangatta Station nowadays – despite its iconic stature. When they opened the road in the sixties the first vehicle in was a Volkswagen Beetle – hard to believe NOW! Unexpected rain fell on the third night and all the fourth day (making egress more difficult. The BOM are still unable to foresee this (ie weather four days ahead) but can tell with great certainty and to within one hundredth of a degree what the climate will be like in a century: more folk who think ‘work’ means ‘having meetings’! if only we didn’t have to pay for them all – in more ways than one…


Wonnangatta Horse Paddock Autumn


25/05/2013: For next year’s winter hiking warmth there is 1000 fill power down: ( but this ‘Mirage’ jacket @$309 should keep Della warm enough this winter: PS: Check out the freebies ($100 worth on this jacket) at Moontrail: they are a good company to buy hiking gear from. Tip: you may need a ‘shipito’ address to get some items sent here – or it may be cheaper)


20/05/2013: These two young people make some astonishing hiking equipment, including fully functioning packs ( from 255 grams (Della & I both walked across Tasmania carrying one of these), This 2 person ‘tent’ ( from 133 grams, this double groundsheet/poncho combo ( from 173 grams, a sub zero sleeping bag ( from 376 grams and a breathable raincoat ( from 127 grams.  Astonishing that they can get pack 255 + tent 133 + raincoat 173 + sleeping bag 376 to under one kilogram (937 grams)! For most hikers EACH of these items would weigh over one kilo! Joe’s latest ‘dry back’ pack ( @ 440 grams is definitely on my wish list. Also GREAT people to deal with.


08/05/2013: The SUPERCAT: This is a VERY useful hiking stove you can make with a paper punch from Officeworks and some empty cat food cans. I have found that there are two sizes and that one fits snugly inside the other (and both inside your cup and inside your billy) so that you can have one for simply boiling and one for simmering. I have also discovered that an esbit burns so slowly in the double holed model that you can bake in your billy on top of it if you make a holey platform with legs out of aluminium flashing which fits inside your billy and suspends (eg  the damper) to be cooked about an inch above the bottom of the billy. A windscreen of the same material is also a good idea (and also fits inside your billy):



07/05/2013: A spot of pool with Steve Hutchison on the Great Ocean Road — with Steve Jones at Apollo Bay Hotel.


06/05/2013: Gorgeous afternoon! At the giant toe rock — with Della Jones and Steve Jones at Wilson’s Promontory.


31/05/2013: Back from four days’ hiking in the Wonnangatta–Moroka National Park with the lovely Della and the two (illegal) Jack Russells who just have to see this wonderful wilderness which is being preserved for ‘future generations’, but NOT for the current one – particularly of JRs! We know a beautiful remote flat where we camped amid the comings and goings and roars of numerous sambar deer.


02/05/2013: Now HERE is a GREAT idea: Lifesystems’ Thermal Jacket. I bought some at Bogong in Little Bourke St yesterday. Here is a fetching photo of me modelling one. It MAY never catch on as chic apparel but WILL no doubt have a place at fancy dress parties & etc. BUT what a great idea for a day hike or the footie: I think their ‘Survival Shelters’ are a great idea too. Many more people should be carrying them: also great for demonstrations and parties:


26/04/2013: We have been off 'stealth camping' for a few days in our trayback camper on the Defender. Each night we have been able to chose a delightful spot in one of our National Parks, Marine Reserves, etc where there is an icon illustrating a tent crossed out (Well, we don't have a tent!) and another of a dog (clearly not TWO Jack Russells such as we have with us) also crossed out. We are SUCH law-abiding folks. We have encountered no other campers or gendarmes. We decided if officionadoes approached us we would point to our mouths and make strange gargling noises until they went away. I know some would say, 'What if everyone did as we are doing?' Well, more campsites would be needed for one thing, and for another there would be no chance of their prosecuting 'Everyone'.

17/04/2013: WOODCHOPPING: A tip I learned from Col Francis: don’t cut the block as you would a tomato or an orange; peel it like an onion: ie work your way in from the outside...

30/03/2013: Della: Early Easter 4WD misadventure: We set out Tuesday lunchtime with the camper planning to see some of the Snowy River before returning Thursday night....the best laid plans, as they say.... First problem was in the change of destination en-route...we thought that time was a bit short, so perhaps we should explore the Caledonia river area instead. First night was lovely, on the Barkly river, but things were not so idyllic after that. We headed into the Macalister, and the track deteriorated greatly. Some sections were very steep and clayey, so with rain forecast, we decided that we would not risk returning the same way and consulted the 'rooftop campers' map; no worries, 3 possible alternative exits...after around 10 river crossings (do-able) the track degenerated further...the "short rocky sections" described on the map turned out to be precipitous steps which Steve negotiated valiantly. By around 3 pm Wednesday we were looking forward to the end of the track (called the "Butchers Country Track" by the way, should you wish to avoid it!) in around 20 km. Then disaster struck: a huge step broke the tailshaft. The truck was stuck, immovable, just over the step, at a 30 degree angle. What to do? We secured it to a tree with a hand winch and pulled it a couple of metres onto a flatter section of road, then used the trusty satellite phone to call for assistance. Thanks to Merrin and Matt for running around looking for parts and being control centre, and overwhelming gratitude to Reg and Di Stirling for driving 6 hours each way and negotiating the last 20 km of the nightmare track to bring a new tail shaft for installation. This, of course, took a lot of time. We slept Wednesday night at a crazy angle in the camper secured in the middle of the road while the rain poured down. Our second night, with the truck repaired but light fading, was more convivially spend camping with Reg and Di in a more secure spot off the road! In short: totally overwhelmed by the goodness of people like Reg and Di, and totally 'over' 4WD tracks in such poor condition. Photos: didn't take too many 'happy holiday snaps' - but here you can see baby Spot napping en route and also enjoying the 4WD experience with Tiny, and finally the camper on its angle in the middle of the road - an odd sleeping experience!

03/03/2013: Spent a pleasant day yesterday white-watering on the Thompson River with Simon Schutte testing out the new back and the new and old Alpacka (TM) pack rafts: definitely recommended gear, company, leisure activity...

26/02/2013: I NOW need one of these devices to aid me in my solo pack rafting:

26/02/2013: My new (fortieth anniversary) Alpacka pack raft has arrived. I am very keen to try it out. Perhaps this Saturday, weather and back permitting...

22/02/2013: You MAY have missed this; I certainly did. After walking endless days and driving endless days through the absolutely awful ‘world heritage wildernesses’ of Southern & Western Tassie, I probably opined to you that they should give the whole bloody lot to Rio (in the unlikely event event they would want it: who else would love an endless peat swamp we walked across for seven whole days) and which contained four living creatures (we’re still not sure whether they meant species or individuals). There weren’t even any mossies (nothing to eat!) and no animal tracks, fewmets etc. Just bloody dreadful. One day on our driving trip we camped (at one of the better spots) ‘Prickly Wattle Camp’ – what a delight IT was! Nonetheless, I was somewhat surprised to learn that Tony Bourke has actually given it to the miners! No wonder Chrissie had a hissie fit!

13/02/2013: Good Buy Ruby Tuesday (Should have posted this yesterday but I was too tired after returning from Launceston @10:30pm, picking up the new puppy - JR, 'Jack' for short - & etc

Della: Thanks for the brilliant ring! (Pity the hands are so time-worn...)

Steve: Every tiny wrinkle or blemish is a badge of honour to a GREAT forty years sweetheart!

12/02/2013: Beauty Point: Moonlight awakens me to a stargazey night: out on the estuary the navigation beacons well shafts of coloured lights towards me where the wind casts webs on the glassy surface of the estuary.

12/02/2013: Riviera on the Tamar: who could want for more? The beds and shower are soft, the sheets are clean, the beer cold enough to bite. The meals excellent and inexpensive: I really enjoyed the $7 salt and pepper squid with sweet chilli sauce, a $19 mixed grill too large to eat with mushroom sauce, and last night Spiro’s incomparable steaks. The view across the Tamar is astonishing and varied. The company incomparable.Who could want for more?

10/02/2013: More interesting adventures courtesy of 'Navperson' who serendipitously takes you to places other than you chose but which mayhap contain more surprise and delight. 'Cradle Mountain was NOT up that 'road' but many interesting things were, or lay along it; so all good. FOOTNOTE: Serendip' was the ancient name for Sri Lanka (or Ceylon). Back when vessels could not tack into the wind but needs must be driven by it, if you missed India riding monsoonal winds across the Arabian Sea, and did not 'serendipitously' intersect the beautiful jewel which is Ceylon, you sailed onwards willy-nilly until you were wrecked on the WA coast and eaten by its inhabitants!

10/02/2013: 40 years ago we were married! Whew, how time flies! Happy ruby wedding anniversary to my cherished husband, Steve, (and my tiny darling Della). "...Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds... It is an ever fixed mark, that looks on tempests and is never shaken, it is the star to every wandering bark, whose worth's unknown although its height be taken. Love's not time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle's compass come, Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom..." in California sometime back. We have been away in it a few times and found it brilliant (especially the bed). The gas fridge keeps everything nice and cold. We have a space heater and a water heater with an outside shower. We may add a rooftop solar panel to supplement the car's charger if we need it. Unfortunately it was a little back heavy for the 110, so I have fitted an alloy tray to the Defender (reducing its mass by 200+kg). Have fitted anti-sway bars front and back, heavy duty springs and shockers and replaced all other steering/suspension components, fitted a winch up front, a second (87 litre water tank) underneath the front of the tray, have moved the camper’s water tank forward & have managed to lower the height of the camper by nearly 3”. I have also fitted a second set of rear shockers. I will also be moving the camper’s hot water tank down and forward. There will be some more storage boxes under the tray and above the cabin. We will be able to tow the motorbike so we can do hikes or canoe trips in our Alpacka rafts and still get back to the truck.

12/02/2013: Riviera on the Tamar at Beauty Point, Tas: who could want for more? The beds and shower are soft, the sheets are clean, the beer cold enough to bite. The meals excellent and inexpensive: I really enjoyed the $7 salt and pepper squid with sweet chilli sauce, a $19 mixed grill too large to eat with mushroom sauce, and last night Spiro’s incomparable steaks. The view across the Tamar is astonishing and varied. The company incomparable.

13/02/2013: Good Buy Ruby Tuesday: Della’s first Ruby anniversary ruby ring!

14/02/2013: Our new baby Jack Russell, ‘Spot’. Tiny is delighted with her new charge and is taking her 'auntie' status very seriously!

02/02/2013: Thinking about what to get Della for a 40th Anniversary (Ruby) gift - and, YES! I am thinking of getting her SOMETHING. I was going to take her to Kerala (though I would probably hate it - but not the curries!) but it would probably suit winter best AND I don't know yet whether my back will be up to travel next weekend, (most folks would still be in a hospital bed then), so it might just be Beauty Point Tasmania (which I at least know we both loved!). I WOULD get her a new lawnmower (which I know she would enjoy) but I have just bought her two second hand ones which are still performing well - AND I have already bought her a lawnmower for her birthday once AND she did enjoy it, so there! A chainsaw might fill the bill, or maybe a new rainwater tank...If YOU have any better ideas, I would be glad to hear about them!

02/02/2013: I have had her out labouring in the garden all afternoon (so she works up a sufficient sweat to try out my new showers) and she has just come in with a HUGE basket of fresh produce. Perhaps I could buy her another basket?

30/1/2013: After just 4 days in hospital spent mostly fighting for my freedom, I can definitely say that the WORST thing anyone can do to you is take that freedom away; unfortunately that is just what sundry busybodies, do-gooders and major and minor tyrants see as their vocation in life. The only appropriate punishment for such folks is DEATH; instant and without either hesitation or remorse. In the context where they had me imprisoned, they understood that I was at the bottom of their hierarchy - instead of being at its top where I was, in fact their employer (having even paid IN ADVANCE) and they were MY SERVANTS, having been paid to provide me with a designated service. Instead of eagerly conceding to my every wish (such as a whole TWO Cascade Premium Lights with my tea once per day) they fought to a standstill with what they saw as the benevolent concession of ONE (and VERY old stock at that!). Fortunately I had an ample supply of Dimensions Cab Sav cleverly disguised by the masterful Della as Cranberry Juice. It was more than somewhat amusing to be delicately sipping on THIS before their very eyes whilst energetically arguing for my second stubby of Cascade...

30/1/2013: The experience DID however sharpen my focus on the relativity between punishments other than Death, and itself. Some time ago a Roman writer named Sallust wrote a book named 'The Catiline Conspiracy, (You can download it here: In this book there is a lengthy discussion about the virtues of various punishments which might be awarded to the nabbed conspirators in the case (who had in fact DONE nothing - conspiracy not then being agin the law). Some argued for a thorough whipping (howled down as fit only for slaves); others for imprisonment (completely ruled out as un-Roman and too, too cruel), so the obvious conclusion was the fairest and most sensible: Death - and so it was done. When I first read this book, I too was still a captive and victim of demonic and dispirited leftist orthodoxy and thought 'how different - indeed how wrong - the ancients were to ourselves'; NOW I realise it is us who are very wrong. Death is certainly the lesser penalty to imprisonment and should always be the FIRST choice. It makes no sense to cruelly (not to mention expensively) imprison an offender and continue to punish him, (then later let him out to offend again) when it can mercifully be over in a trice and the offenders' spare parts used to save a multitude of lives! So mote it be!

26/1/2013: Good morning world: I am alive and on my feet, no pain or other unpleasant sensations below the wound in my back so I trust it is fixed! There will be no stopping me from here on in! Thank you to everyone for your support and kind thoughts. I imagine they will still want to keep me here for a couple of days, so they can look forward to further argument from me about increasing my beer ration! Cheers.

26/1/2013: Della: Steve is now walking about a bit and returning to his old self. I am just heading back to my hotel and look forward to further progress in the morning. Thanks to everyone for the kind well-wishes!

22/1/2013: ALPACKA: I was going to treat myself to a new canoe to celebrate my successful back operation this Saturday (you have to be optimistic) and so was going to purchase an Alpacka raft ( with which I plan to tackle the Snowy as soon as I am recovered - probably alone, as Della's eyesight won't let her do serious whitewater any more, and you can just spend your life waiting around until your friends are free to join you!. Checking out the website I noticed they have THIS amazing innovation ( which allows you to put all your gear INSIDE the inflated tubes!  What an amazing idea.  Sheri Tingey is a genius!

21/1/2013: Woke to lots of fog sailing past smelling of smoke. DSE have now taken down ANY fire map, so (though they admit that the fire is now twice as large as it was on Friday), we can have no idea where it is. The Southern front of the fire is about 30-40 km away stretching all along the Northern horizon. In the 1939 fires the wind jumped the fire across that distance; from the Baw Baws to the Jeeralangs - so anything CAN happen. We were going to go for a walk along the tops of the Baw Baws during this hot weather if my back and the fire had not intervened! Good thing we are not up there I guess - or camped in the Wonnangatta-Moroka (as is our wont) in the path of the fire. Then I WAS going to spend some days with a friend canoeing the Thomson River - I think THAT idea is out this week, though I feel guilty for letting him down! We have three fire pumps and a sprinkler system set up as well as the garden watering system but have still more fine tuning to do on the plumbing today - and we will try to get mowing so we can extend the area of slashed/mulched grass even farther from the buildings, and move the sheep down to the creek where there is still some greenery which won't burn. There is a fence to fix. The Sawyers (the original settlers here) survived the 1939 fires with only wet bags, so I think we will manage (we have the bags too!). The trouble is that back then there were far more properties with more stock and less rubbishy bush and long grass to burn. We are hoping the NOAA prediction of some rain comes to pass: our BOM can only predict global warming it seems, and neglect their day job of providing a welcoming shower now and then. You would think with all this fog and low cloud these might be ideal conditions for a bit of cloud seeding to put the fires out! The radio says the fire is burning into the Avon Wilderness (as I predicted). Nothing but good rain will stop it from getting into the Wonnangatta-Moroka. It may burn for weeks if it does not rain! Already countless innocent creatures have died needlessly because of this Green wicked madness! It makes me SO angry with them! They simply do not care for nature - as normal people do. They are just extremist ideologues and petty tyrants.

20/1/2013: The US weather bureau has rain coming: 40 mm in the next 8 days and 25 mm in the 8 days after. I find it hard to believe too, but I have found them more accurate than our blokes many times. You have to enter the co-ordinates of the area you are interested in in digital form. I have had three dry trips to Fiordland based on their forecast and have successfully cut hay for years relying on them when our BOM had no idea, so we'll see how it pans out:

20/1/2013: The Western Tyers is VERY beautiful; this is the view from our old camp. Early mornings you would often see platypodes paddling up and down the stream. PS: Look it up; I AM right!):

20/1/2013: I love Gippsland's rivers. There are so many where a week or more's placid canoeing can be had. I think it would be a good idea to replace the Bible and the Koran in church and mosque with the book, 'Canoeing the Rivers & Lakes of Victoria' by Chris & Yvonne McLaughlin! It is three weeks (by my reckoning) on the Wonnangatta-Mitchell from the Humphray River confluence to Lake King. A similar voyage can be had on the Snowy. Slightly shorter journeys on the Thomson, Macalister, Tambo, Mitta Mitta & etc. I have some 'secret' river trips which are not in the book (though these MAY yet be declared 'heretical'): for example, a week can be had on the 'uncanoeable' Tyers River (from Growler's Creek to the Morwell River confluence). It contains probably the scariest bit of whitewater (a waterfall and chute) I have ever survived (many times) just below the start of the old tramline. The faint hearted CAN portage it (That's me these days!). I reckon the Latrobe could be canoed from much closer to Noojee but I haven't yet done so. A pleasant day can even be had coming down the Tarwin from the Sth Gippsland Hwy near Meaniyan and finishing at the Tarwin Lower pub - what better way to top off a lovely day? No need for self-chilling beer at the end of the trip anyway!

20/1/2013: (In answer to a comment): The best canoe shop undoubtedly is 'Capacity Sports' in Bay Rd near Westfield Southland. No-one locally has much. There are many to chose from, but also many that are not very good. I think you should borrow a couple of ours first (we have a variety). No-one much has improved on the design of Perception's 'Minnow'. I am VERY enthusiastic about this ( Note the new 'Cargo Fly') I promised to take you canoeing THIS week. I HATE to break a promise, but my back IS very bad, (however think I would survive - still have a few jobs to finish, but I can fit both in before my op next Sat), and there ARE THE FIRES! I WAS going to drop you in at the T2, mind the kids and pick you up. Still want to. Can still do this if it is safe but the Stoney Creek Rd is likely closed, so too the Cowarr-Erica Rd (you are closer so can find out). I was then going to arrange a day trip from either the T9 or the Mitchell Creek Track. Buy Rooftop's 'Walhalla-Woods Point Adventure Map’. I think two days on The Thomson this week would be foolish because of the uncertainty of the fires which could sweep down on the river from the North and cook us (also they have let a really lot of water out of the dam - presumably as fire management). If you just want to have a paddle (on the weir etc) just come borrow a couple of ours. Della should invite you around for tea this week. Name a night. You can stay over. Water is too low for canoeing most everywhere this summer. You COULD get down the Thomson, the Latrobe (flat & muddy) or there is a section I cleared on the Tyers from the W3 track off the Tyers-Erica Rd to the Morwell pumping station at Wirilda Park off the Tyers-Yallourn Nth Rd. It is some time ago so would need some more work, but would be worth it. Kids could do this small river with a bit of experience. There is a walking track if you want to explore it first. The weir at the pumping station is a great place to take the kids for a swim.

20/1/2013: Some would thank 'God', but it is the Coriolis effect which mainly keeps the wind blowing from the West in the Southern hemisphere while the sun rises in the East, which means that camping in an open shelter you are always woken by the beauty of the dawn in front of the shelter. There are two equally wonderful experiences to be had at dawn. One is to rise in the crisp cold light and pad off over the crunchy frost to see if you can catch a stag who has not yet returned to his bed; the other is to stay in your own warm bed and enjoy!

19/1/2013: Took another look at (still yesterday's!) fire map). As the fire had already crossed the Licola Rd North of Glenmaggie and was burning in bush country heading for Ben Cruachan, and as there are only three North-South tracks in that area (Mt Margaret, Ben Cruachan & Golden Point (from memory) and the Avon River where it could be stopped, I predict it will not be stopped (if the wind is generally from the West as is usual) before it gets into the Avon Wilderness where the 'Management Only' tracks have fallen into complete disrepair and are only negotiable by walkers or motorcyclists (illegally - good for them!). This is the style of 'preservation' or 'conservation' favoured by wildlife hating Green nutters! Once it is into the Avon it WILL cross into the Wonnangatta-Moroka National Park again! Much of the wind for a few days is from the South and East which gives some chance, as it will tend to blow the fire back on itself - but you would not believe how fast a bushfire can burn INTO the wind in hot dry conditions (as fast as you can walk at least! Really!) DSE have closed the Twenty Acre Creek Track (just South of Cheyne's Bridge) a few years back where the fire might have been contained to the North of where it is shown on the map. The only bridge across the river giving access from the Licola Rd is on this closed road which is why it was such an extraordinary step to have closed it. We ARE SO badly served by the DSE and their Green Management extremists! Elders 28 day rainfall forecast have some rain (high probability) about the 28th so it will burn at least until then.

19/1/2013: Great work DSE, CFA etc. The only fire map or satellite image available is a whole day old! This is just the way it was during the previous fires. It provides NO basis for residents to assess and take appropriate action. What a useful Royal Commission THAT was. Of course NONE of its recommendations have been implemented. Indeed we are still waiting for the implementation of the Royal Commission held after the 1939 fires! Great that you can see where the fire was yesterday morning. Observation: If the fire IS still burning in eg Stoney Creek/Deep Creek (and why would it not be?) SW of Walhalla, then a Northerly wind will drive it down to Tyers, Toongabbie, Cowwarr etc. During the last fires Della and I were locked up here for nearly a fortnight with a huge fire still burning to the east of us (and an Easterly wind blowing) - we could see the smoke - but could we EVER get an image of where the fire actually WAS? We are having a repeat of this craziness. Prediction: If this fire gets into the Avon catchment and the Wonnagatta-Moroka National Park (and continuing hot, dry weather and generally Westerly winds says it will) it will destroy the snowgum forests which have already been burned once and create a treeless plain across the High Country. It will also (alas) destroy the canoe drums I have planted at my 'camps' up there which will be a nuisance for me to replace so soon!

Steve: The fire got this big in @ ONE DAY. Imagine how big it can be with a couple more adverse days which will come before there is rain? Of course the DSE have had a policy of 'regrowing' the many fire breaks which were put in hastily and at great risk during the earlier fires so they no longer exist. Just such great 'conservation' work from the Greenie managers of this Government Department!

Comment: Not that I like the fires Steve, great country up around the Barkly River/Licola area hope it doesn't head Nth or bloody Sth.

Steve: Seems like its Eastern edge is Sth of the Barkly at the moment. I know the whole area where the fire is/threatens like the back of my hand (every gully, ridge & track from well East of the Thompson Dam through to well East of Omeo) having hunted over it for more than thirty years yet I cannot make any sense of the 'information' coming out. I guess 'the historic hotel site' being threatened is the 'Springs' just Sth of Mt Useful. Just over the ridge into Licola, the Barkly, the Caledonia, the Avon & etc.

15/1/2013: Neurosurgery probably next week: they are not going to touch my brain - it is apparently beyond help: but hopefully they CAN fix my back!

15/1/2013: You would hope that the fires would teach people that the tourism, mining, timber, farming, grazing etc industries know better how to manage the land so that there are commercial livelihoods, needed products and much better protection for wildlife and nature in general. I am totally opposed to National Parks (so too 'aboriginal' land) and would like to see them eliminated - as they produce exactly the opposite result to what is intended: rather than protecting fauna and flora, they are responsible for its widespread destruction. The land needs to be managed piecemeal, not wholesale. There is no one answer. Drawing vast imaginary lines around an area does nothing to protect it; the reverse is true. Instead, a diversity of land uses produces a diversity of opportunities for nature and leads to no wholesale destruction such as we see happening now, again - to my great sorrow. I would like to see every Greens voter having to go out and deal with fires and the rotting bodies of all the sheep, wallabies, etc which their obsessive policies have killed - much as the Americans forced Germans to deal with the dead and dying of the Death Camps at the end of WW2.

03/1/2013: I have had enough of this pain; I think I am going to bite the bullet and have something done about this bad back (sciatica). I favour Minimally Invasive Back Surgery at the moment, but would be grateful to anyone with experience of the procedure and recommendations of Neural Surgeons who have performed the op at least 100 times successfully! Thanks.

03/1/2013: Bad news: Alas, Morris Pressings Dry Red Casks are no more! It was just about the best wine I have ever drunk - and I am glad to say I have drunk a lot of it! Now to find a replacement: Dimensions Shiraz Cabernet is quite nice: Any suggestions?

30/12/2012: Hope the weather is perfect so the kids can fly from Te Anau to Supper Cove and Lake Roe today: wish I was there - there are empty seats on the helicopter; Oh...Fiordland is SUCH a beautiful place - and there is no better way to see it than by helicopter!

29/12/2012: Della: Party season apparently equals another demolished letterbox...oh well, snail mail is outdated anyway. Steve: Just another chore...THIS time I have some SERIOUS steel upright material! Della: And the culprits will regret the damage to their vehicle if they mess with the new model...good man! (But I am not vindictive at all...)

12/12/2012: Numerologically an auspicious day: also 15,000 days with my beloved, Della - so much cause for celebration! Della Jones "And thanks for the lovely celebratory lunch! It still doesn't sound like very much when you count in days though..." AND 30,000 days doesn't sound like a VERY long life - but it IS!

8/12/2012: We bought a tray back camper from in California sometime back. We have just been away in it and found it brilliant (especially the bed). The gas  fridge kept everything nice and cold. We have a space heater and a water heater with an outside shower. We may add a rooftop solar panel to supplement the car's charger if we need it. Unfortunately it is a little back heavy for the 110, hence the change.

6/12/2012: The bad news is we DO have to buy another vehicle to carry the camper around as the 110 Defender IS too short and its GVM too little. The GOOD news is we have found one and put a deposit on it. There will be MUCH retrofitting of gear from one vehicle to another: (Diff Locks including front and rear axles, secondary batteries, trays....) but eventually we WILL  have safe 4WD camping holidays in disgusting LUXURY!

3/12/2012: More prosaic doings: I am building a set of stairs for the Defender's trayback camper so our 'Tiny' dog can more easily access it - less importantly it will assist us aging folks too. Made a prototype out of timber to see how that works (they look and work great but are too heavy). Della zipped up them with her arms folded - so they passed an important test there. Some time this morning will be devoted to converting those ideas into lightweight aluminium. Stairs are more complicated than you would think. Unfortunately I think I need to convert the 110 Defender to a 130 as the camper has too much overhang and the steering is compromised: I suspect the easiest way around this (unfortunately) is to buy another vehicle!

We rebuilt the steel tray on the Defender and fitted the camper to it (Steve made an elaborate crane arrangement in the shed so it can be taken on and off in minutes) and we HAVE been away in it for two whole nights on the Moroka and Barkly Rivers, so there IS progress. Sadly, the steel tray is also too heavy, so Steve is right now fitting the truck with a recycled alloy tray which should cure the (car’s!) over-weight problem. We look forward to many more trips away in it during the coming year. The camper proved to be a real boomer by the way – with all the comforts and mod-cons of home: cooker, shower, heater, fridge, inverter power, etc. There is even room for the Tiny dog to come away with us – which she enjoyed very much. Tiny has also now been away hunting with Steve (she now comes from a legal hunting dog breed in the State of Victoria). She has her own down sleeping bag and mat and very much enjoys the hiking experience - though she has to be carried across rivers in a backpack to prevent her being swept away.

Moroka River December 2012


Barkly River December

18/11/2012: Whilst NOT on the subject of politics I don't know whether I posted a report on my Six Moon Designs Dyneema pack, the Swift - which I think Della gave me earlier for Xmas. It has proved wonderfully comfortable and durable. It would be hard to beat in a 428 gram pack (@$110!). I switched the waist belt for a single one as I had difficulty doing the double one up (arthritis,stoutness). I have snagged the netting side pockets on blackberries and would recommend they make them out of Dyneema too. The roll-top closure is interesting. The pack is big enough (for me) to carry everything I need for a week's hike (which it did on the Dusky Track NZ in April). I recommend too the Thermarest Women's NeoAir XLite mat @ 320 g and the Montbell UL Super Spiral Down Hugger #3 sleeping bag @ 624g which together bring the 'big three' to under 1400 grams total! Add @ 500 grams for my new Tyvek tent!

18/11/2012: I have been thinking about my Tyvek tent designs again: I believe I can now make an @ 6 foot high, zero condensation 'fire' tent for 2-4 people which will weigh under one kilo including floor and zipperless mosquito netting and which will set up against a tree or with the aid of a hiking pole/stick. Similarly I think I can make a one person design (with about 1.5 mtre head height) @ about 500 grams. It will be a few days before I have time to cut them out and make them as I have other projects. The beauty of Tyvek is: it is (relatively) fire/spark resistant (800C); it can be joined/repaired with tape; it is waterproof and breathable; it comes in 3 metre roll widths; it can withstand 160 km winds; it is cheap (30 metre roll @ $180; ie 4-5 tents per roll); it does not drape; it weighs 1.7 oz/ sq yd (50gsm); it is white and has an R-rating so reflects and retains heat well - so wonderful for a winter fire heated tent. To my mind, a tent where you cannot stand/sit out of the rain whilst being warmed by a fire is pointless. Am also working on a sub 100 gram fire heated electric generator for charging batteries or electronic gear such as eBook readers/music players. You see, not ALL my posts are about politics. Indeed, if the pollies would get their acts together, probably none would be - there ARE more interesting things. I have no interest in making money out of these tents so will probably post the completed designs for interested folks in future. You do not need to be able to sew to make a Tyvek tent as it does not fray, can be joined with tape and works well with tarp holder tie-outs.

18/11/2012: Now available in Oz: Velcro on a silnylon skirt and THIS could be just about the perfect one-person touring white water canoe:, and now that Della needs to be paddled, THIS could be our new two-person touring canoe for flat water and moderate rapids. Can easily see us spending a leisurely couple of weeks gliding along in it on a quiet river somewhere. (Also comes in colour = green, my preference - believe it or not!):

11/10/2012: Lying abed this morn waiting for my beloved to wake, I was doing mental arithmetic: I calculated that on about 11 Dec this year she and I will have been together for 15,000 days - which is half a lifetime thereabouts and about 2/3rds of our lives so far. What did I do with the other third? I can't imagine - or how I survived it without her. Hoping to get to 3/4s of a lifetime. I suppose 4/5ths is too much to hope for, but we shall see. When she woke & I informed her of the results of my calculations her answer was, 'Is that all?' Shucks, she surely is wonderful!

19/09/2012: Went hiking with Bryn's little dog, Tiny. Expected to be out all week but unfortunately hurt my back so limped home. Here we see Tiny on her special hiking bed helping herself to some dog nuts and her caching some for later, just in case

05/09/2012: Hunting about near Bruthen on Sunday with my boys (Matt & Bryn): a beautiful sunny day. Too bad the wet summers have thickened the bush up so much you can't even see the deer (though I heard lots). A beautiful sunny spring day: the wild fuschia, normally a vapid drab was a riot of scarlet bells! So many other wildflowers in bloom.

01/09/2012: On a more cheerful note, I am always delighted at the way 'nature' exploits any change as a positive: we have a puddle outside our bedroom window created by the device which flushes the bird poo off the roof every time it rains instead of putting it in the tank. It is a treasure, an oasis to countless birds and other critters. I have often noticed this: that some utter ugliness merely creates an opportunity. There is a 'wasteland' sand pit in Morwell which is just an apocalyptic landscape - except to plovers and osprey who find it the most wonderful breeding location! I once created an ugly slash of bulldozer track across the hillside. Visible for miles it was the object of many adverse comments. But this vertical bank was just what many snakes and lizards had been longing for. One day I observed a veritable flock (hundreds) of pardelotes emerging from nesting holes there; I think I had only ever seen a pair together elsewhere. National Parks as a tool for 'managing' nature are obviously a mistake - because of their Stalinist monolithic philosophy. What 'nature' really responds to is diversity. We should quit worrying about 'managing' nature and just get on with our business (whatever it is). Nature will benefit from the diversity of 'opportunities' created.

20/08/2012: No more hounds! My family has been hound hunting in Oz for over a century but my back (and ears) will just not let me continue any longer with this great sport, so yesterday I gave away my last four beagles to a young hunter who can make much better use of them: a very sad day.

29/06/2012:Back from four days' hiking in Wonnangatta-Moroka with a young American acquaintance. Moroka river flooded and difficult to cross but weather beautiful. Probably sub-zero of a night but warm and comfy thanks to my Tyvek tarps. Many beautiful encounters with wild deer including watching does and fawns play. Had a very bad 3 metre fall off a slippery log into a rocky streambed flat onto my back which unexpectedly and serendipitously produced no injury - indeed my back feels much bettter this morning! May have to try that again! Or maybe not! Indeed I think I shall avoid log crossings for all time.

Crossing the Moroka June

3/05/2012: HERE is the view from the toilet at Supper Cove (as earlier promised), the best toilet view in the world, perhaps. My laziness is once again rewarded: Steve Hutcheson has already posted it! Many thanks.

28/04/2012:  I have been hiking in Fiordland NZ for ten days and have now returned 'bowed but unbeaten.' Met some great young people on the trail (and some not-so-great) and saw, as usual quite a lot of evidence for the continuing existence of moose there. I will post a photo of the best toilet view in the world (Supper Cove) when I figure out how!

 8/04/2012: Four lovely days up the Wonnangatta track clearing and blackberry spraying. Two guys had decided to camp in one of my spots and use all my firewood. Apparently they think I am a public servant as they did not replace it even when asked. The things you see when you HAVE got a gun!

 4/03/2012: My new pack arrived (the Six Moon Designs 'Swift' - 450 grams) and it looks good. Improved its load transfer with 22 grams of carbon fibre arrow shafts, instead of their proprietary 'hoop stay'. Am using my Neoair pad in the pad pocket which is very comfortable. Looking forward to trying it our for a few days to see whether it is as good in the field as it is in the loungeroom!

29/2/12: Two days later I feel better than I have for a month. More wilderness trips are obviously what the doctor ordered!

27/2/12: Two days away by myself white-water canoeing on the Thomson River. This morning I am feeling like I am too old for such shenanigans. The pneumonia I had a few weeks' ago has left me much less fit. It was 39C on Saturday and 34C yesterday but surprisingly yesterday morning over a riverside breakfast I was wearing my coat. Such a lovely cool place to be on a very hot day. Re-read 'A Canticle for Liebowitz' by the river while drinking ice-cold Carlton Light cans: an interesting read for those of you who are still Catholics (or want to understand them) and for anyone who enjoys the end of the world.

24/2/12: Thinking it would be a really good weekend to canoe the Thomson River given the projected (over 30's) temperatures even though there is not a lot of water (suits me). Unfortunately Della no longer feels confident enough to canoe the Thomson, so I am thinking about going by myself which is how I started out on most rivers many years ago. Maybe I can look forward to a couple of grilled fresh trout - hard to beat except maybe for our delicious local blackfish. Perhaps I should take the Alpacka pack raft?

22/2/12: My old ultralight pack (330 grams) is beginning to shred so I thought I would try one of these (at 450 grams) - probably suit as carry-on luggage too. A good buy at about A$150 delivered: My choice for the other two of the 'big three' are the Thermarest Neoair Regular (370 grams) mat and the Montbell Ultralight Super Stretch Down Hugger #3 (@ 30 degrees F) sleeping bag at just over 500 grams. Ron Moak has an interesting shelter/raincoat too, the Gatewood Cape at 300 grams. This makes the total for the four heaviest items less than 1.5 kilos. Most people's packs OR sleeping bags OR tents weigh more than this.

Bianca in Retirement


This year was certainly also ‘The Year of the Dog’. Once we owned 17 dogs! A year ago we still had 8, a healthy number. We are now down to one (Tiny, Bryn’s 12 year old Jack Russell). Steve decided to give away the last half dozen of his hounds to a young fellow hunter as his back and hearing were making this recreation too uncertain – and unfair on the dogs. At least now they will get many hunts (and already have!). Our two old Maremmas, Brandy and Bianca, and our last Westie all went to that great kennel in the sky (actually they went to some very large holes in the garden!) They were all over fourteen – and sadly missed. We are contemplating a Jack Russell puppy in the New Year (for Tiny!) but we doubt we will ever again have the numbers of dogs we have had in the past: an era has passed (pun intended).


Sheep Farm Going Down the Hole


Our commercial farm finally settled on Feb 1st so we are officially retired sheep farmers. We still have the 25 acre home property at Jeeralang Junction and about sixty Finn ewes - so we have enough to be going on with. We hope to complete the house and repair all the deterioration which has occurred over the last twenty years or so whilst we were working away on larger properties.


Beauty Point

We celebrated the sale with a week’s holiday touring Tasmania in February. Strangely we did not walk the South Coast Track again but we did camp in the Franklin-Gordon and Arthur wildernesses amongst other things. This sounds a lot better than it is, particularly the Pieman-Arthur and Tarkine wildernesses which as far as we can see are just huge lifeless peat bogs which Tasmania should donate to Riotinto - if it would accept it. It could not be much worse if it was just one vast hole in the ground! In the Arthur wilderness we camped at a ‘delightful’ spot named ‘Prickly Wattle Camp’ That said it all. We were supposed to pay, but reused. Parts of the East and North Coasts were nice. We particularly enjoyed ‘Beauty Point’ (named after a bullock!) on the Tamar River downstream from Launceston where the local pub (The Riviera Hotel!) had excellent steaks. The Tahune Forest ‘Airwalk’ near Geevestown was interesting as were the ‘Tessalated Rocks’ at Lufra near Eaglehawk Neck on the Tasman Peninsula, and the Hobart Botanic Gardens.

Tessalated Rocks


Every time he turns at Centre Pass to survey the magnificent view down the Seaforth Valley to the Fiord, he wonders will it be the last time he gazes on such a magnificent view? We have been ‘up the bush’ hiking or canoeing on a number of occasions: Steve designed a ‘nappy’ for a $20 raft to make it into a whitewater raft and had Della test it out (successfully) on Grade 2 water.

16/2/12: As you may have realised from our silence, Della and I have been away for a week touring Tasmania which is something to do if you are very bored and cashed up. Camping in both the Franklin-Gordon and Arthur-Pieman wildernesses sounds really romantic on paper, doesn't it - but the reality is somewhat different: the endess lifeless buttongrass plains of Tasmania's 'world heritage' wildernesses are something which should be donated to Conzinc Riotinto post haste! Surely they could make something of them? Absolutely the best wildlife experience was found (conversely) at the aptly named 'Beauty Point Holiday Park' on the Tamar. Photoshopped photos from Della will surely follow...

22/12/11: Must have for Xmas? Look at this new torch: 788 lumens from a single 3.7V battery! Twice the best torch of last Xmas! Things just keep on getting better. My favourite pocket torch is the Fenix LD01 which takes a single AAA and outputs 85 lumens. If you (carefully) screw off the lens cover (it is Loktited on) it makes a great hiking lantern at 16 grams (and about 5 grams per day!) Only $50 too!):

15/12/11: More on whales: When we lived at Tarwin we once hunted a house-sized dead whale on the shore of the inlet with hounds. We put foxhounds and bloodhounds right INSIDE the whale and shot nearly twenty foxes, some of which even came out the blowhole. Whether they were vixens making the traditional cry, 'Thar she blows' accurate I don't remember. The sound, sight and smell were amazing, especially the great booming voices of the bloodhounds from deep inside the whale. Oh, for a camera back then. Skinning foxes is noisesome enough at the best of times, but these foxes were really rank. I then learned why a whaling station was known as a 'trying' works. Their smell must have been unbelievable.

15/12/11: Other great inventions: the (1) Themarest Neo air (regular 370g) shown made into a chair using the (2) Big Agnes Cyclone Chair (150g) in the photo: 'Tyvek wigwam'! All that is needed to make this scene perfect is Bacardi 151 (and Della, of course!)

15/12/11: The faux & real pack raft & the Tyvek wigwam

15/12/11: Another great invention of the C21st (apart from the faux packraft) is the truncated tetrahedron Tyvek 'wigwam' again more or less a Jones original. This is just the best shelter/tent ever. Have now spent SO many nights warm and dry in front of an open fire in this wonderful shelter. Room for two and lots of gear to sleep, sit, stand (or for 4-5 to sit and yarn) in front of a warm fire in the rain & can be easily built for less than $50 and will weigh less than 1 kg, including groundsheet. It is beautiful to boot and sounds great in the rain. 'The miracles of science'.

15/12/11: Further to my post about 'crepuscular birdsong' we are able to report that birds are slowly returning to the Wonnangatta (but it is - what? - four years since the fire/s and there are still so few of them). My earlier observation that the fire selectively spared birds which nested in hollow trees or river bank holes is I think confirmed - to Della's delight there are lots of grey thrushes (or 'Cho Cho Wee' birds as she prefers to call them).

15/12/11: Well, we have tried our faux packraft against our Alpacka raft on a four hour Grade 2+ section of the Wonnangatta River on an overnight trip (during which we saw 9 deer!) and apart from some slight abrasion to the lamination of the poly tarp (nappy) the $40 raft stood up splendidly. I found a 33 millimetre metric coarse nut which I was able to cut thread with to extend and create a double paddle which also worked well. The Gaffer tape held up, but I think tarp clips would work better. I can definitely recommend this expedient as an intro to packrafting.

13/12/11: And while on the topic of bushmen...Malcolm Naden IS doing very well, isn't he? Michener or Mailer would make a blockbuster out of his story: a modern-day rival for Jimmy Blacksmith, Jacky Jacky & etc. Of course if the police were to get out of sight of their cars they would be lost!

13/12/11: A friend thinks that reports of 'black pumas' etc may well be 'thylaceo leo,' the marsupial lion (there being no large black cats anywhere in the world only spotted ones) but this is a VERY long bow, though it would be nice. In 50+ years in the bush I have never even seen a large cat spoor (or fewmet) though I have seen several striped foxes and two striped dingos (yes, black and gold) and curiously two giant echidnas (such as they have in New Guinea - here in Southern Victoria) and one very strange looking dog.

12/12/11: Crepuscular birdsong why? Interesting to see this question answered in the latest New Scientist: it is because there is a temperature inversion then and sounds transmit better. Hope to live long enough to hear it again in our silent bushfire-ravaged forests.

12/12/11: Let's put off a decision for 10 years (or more) at Durban - a victory for common sense. Reminds me of the interesting case of Pierre Riviere. When the judges couldn't decide whether he was fit to plead they put off their decision for a century. This too might be a good idea:

11/12/11: I have just discovered that Thomas Crapper did NOT invent the flush toilet (but did invent the ballcock and improve the flush toilet - it appears to be still true that he has become 'eponymous' like Lord Sandwich, Bessie Bloomer, Lord Cardigan & etc. This honour goes to Sir John Harington in 1596, though I note the use of hydraulic processes to flush human waste away as early as the 31st Century BC in the Orkneys - so not just the birthplace of that wonderful poet George Mackay Brown: &

11/12/11: Don't know whether 'You can't teach an old dog new tricks,' but (probably due to the continuing wet weather) our two old terriers have decided that they should dry their wet bellies etc on the bathroom mats (much to Della's displeasure!). Not to be outdone, the very ancient cat has worked out how to open the magnetic dog door from the outside. It hooks its claws under the door and opens it outwards then slips quietly in!

9/12/11: GO Malcolm Naden! If a little thing like three murders didn't stand in the way of Ned Kelly being a hero why should two count against you? Six years on the run. Well done. And in traditional bushranger country. Here is the heir of Ben Hall, Moonlight, Jimmy Blacksmith etc. There is a blockbuster film in this. Come on Spielberg.

8/12/11: Am trying Ainsley Harriott's Southern Cajun Gumbo Cup of Soup for breakfast. Yum! Some people ask what food I take hiking. This is too hard a question for ONE post but here's a tip which also works well for a snack or lunch. Combine a sachet of 2 minute noodles sans flavour sachet witha cup of soup. My favourite is Continental Asian Laksa

8/12/11: Small things DO make a difference. Yesterday's triumphs: Stemetil Yay! Am feeling MUCH better now. Then received some 8mm domes for my hearing aids which are so much more comfortable and work so much better than the 10mm ones prescribed by the crooked, cruel audiologists. Life is SO much better since I became my own audiologist.

8/12/11: Police are busy this morning hunting 'Australia's most wanted man' and he's not even HOT! One can't but wonder whether he would have a rival in most women's minds with Beckham!

8/12/11: I get a sponsored ad this morning that states, 'I'd rather be hiking'. You betcha!

7/12/11: There is a 'new' tomato called a 'kumato' apparently originally from the Galapagos Islands which is interesting - though this may be spin. It is deliciously sweet. I recommend you try some, & save and plant the seeds. it is a small tomato so you should still get a crop if you are quick.

7/12/11: Cooking oil fire: really important lesson. Who would have thought it could so easily be turned into something like a nuclear explosion? Only 34 seconds, please watch:

7/12/11: The unbalanced Dr Meniere is back to trouble me again this morning after an absence of two years. I remember being puzzled when my father explained that saying drunks were going home 'by rail' did not mean them catching the train, but clutching the fence rail to maintain their balance. I do not enjoy that method of locomotion, nor the nausea which goes with it. Hopefully he will return to his home in France soon. Just another unwanted Norman conqueror(like the makers of the 'Crown Land Act' mentioned in a previous post).

7/12/11: Thank goodness for 'Stemetil' which has made me feel at least half human (many will think that's about as good as it gets) and at least prevented upchucking. And I DO mean 'goodness' for it is human goodness which has created this drug

7/12/11: Most awesome video. Some people ARe just mad:

6/12/11: Best gadget we have bought in the last year a 5" Bebook reader but you can now get the new Sony 6" model for about the same weight @ 160g but it won't fit in your shirt pocket. It does not require you to pirate books but it sure makes reading a lot cheaper if you do. Best App: utorrent.

4/12/11: Re-reading Robert Heinlein. Liked him as a boy and still like him as an old man - likewise Peter S Beagle.

4/12/11: Chinese imports vs quality products: You can buy ANY part from even the oldest Greenfield Mower (or Land Rover car) and every Briggs and Stratton engine - and the people who make and sell them operate under civilised wage rates and conditions. And consider this for 'environmental sustainability' 90% of every Land Rover ever built are still being driven. I am really annoyed that Blundstone, Holeproof etc etc have moved to China AND with no drop in the price of their products!

2/12/11: This blight recalls the great C18th US chestnut blight which erased the Eastern forests, and may be a harbinger: Someone has imported a deadly Myrtle disease which is spreading. You may know that Aboriginal mismanagement created a forest which is now 98% Myrtaceia. We must urgently plant anything else everywhere or we will have a vast ecological disaster. The koalas of which we have many here, are clearly doomed.

‎2/12/11: 'The Great Dying of the Trees'. Here in Gippsland 000's of kilometres of (especially) cypress hedges (many a century old) are dying almost as rapidly as wildfire. It is a great tragedy for the many small critters who will miss a home. Alas, many will not be replaced either. We had a quote recently to remove and burn two dozen @ $13K! Wet feet or a disease? Im not sure. Seems to be spreading to other trees too.

2/12/11: Further to the great deepfried Elton John marriage equality with ducks saga: a solicitor friend once defended a client who had sex with his own poultry in the main street of Cessnock. ("Unfit to plead Your Honour"). He indignantly insisted that it was a hen ('Do you think I'm queer?'). How times change. Soon such things will be compulsory! I recall that the same client was frequently nabbed for public sex with his delightfully named girlfriend, 'Suitcase'. What a town!

2/12/11: My sponsored girlfriend ad has now been joined by an ad asking 'Do you love beagles?' This is more than somewhat confusing. I DO actually LIKE beagles but not in that way. Nor do I advocate 'marriage equality' between beagles and humans. I do not agree with Leviticus that the ass who sleeps with a man (being the innocent party) should be put to death either. Nor do I think necessarily that we should return to the Tudor punishment for homosexuality (ie boiling in oil!) though there are cases where it has something to recommend it, eg I do not like Elton John...

2/12/11: Does Elton John also have sex with ducks? How unsanitary! i hope the ducks consent. Still, this has to stop. Get the pot on the fire. Here we go. Fried Elton. Sorry, boiled John.

1/12/11: While I was typing the last post I glanced across and noticed Facebook had chosen a Sponsored Ad which said 'Meet Your Girlfriend' and that it had a rather blurry photo of Della as a 17 year old - how DID they know?

1/12/11: Della Jones Pretty sure I don't want to see that picture. It's like being told you remind people of someone else...somehow it is confronting to realise that your own image of self bears no comparison to the way others see you...

1/12/11: My little sponsored lover seems to have gone now, replaced by ads for anti wrinkle cream and devices to promote prostate health etc as usual. However she WAS pretty hot, and so are you!

1/12/11: As we approach Della's birthday on Sunday I reflect that we have now been together for 40 wonderful years, though it seems like no time at all. I look forward to every new day with her. Thank you Della.

1/12/11: I have posted my idea about the home made packraft ( and some of my other adventures) here:

1/12/11: Try packrafting on the cheap. Instead of $800 try buying eg an Intex from Clark Rubber for $40. You reinforce the floor/outside tubes with several poly tarps. These can be taped with Polyethylene tape used for greenhouses or Norton Gaffer may work. The oars which come with it can be made into a double paddle whose length can be increased by cutting a thread on one end with a metal pipe fitting.

29/11/11: The 'serendipity' lawnmower requires a bit of work but should be mowing by the end of the day. Found you can buy a brand new Briggs and Stratton 15.5hp engine on eBay for $850 or a clone for about $450 so can't eally understand why people are throwing away their old owers and buying new ones for $6,000!

29/11/11: Found some photos yesterday of my great aunt (my father's father's sister) who died the year I was born. Previously I had found a photo of her mother on an old glass plate negative. Both gave ample evidence of where the Jones good looks came from!

26/11/11: This is a really neat boat: a kayak made from willow and poly tarp:

27/11/11: I am thinking one might be able to make this or a coracle with withes (other than willow) a tarp and some cable ties which I could leave in a drum at one of my hunting camps upriver so that I could float downstream if I wanted/needed to.

26/11/11: Serendipity (the old name for Ceylon by the way) rules! Our lawnmower died. We went to the lawnmower place to investigate fixing it and ended up coming back with both a solution for fixing it for free and a second ride on mower (for $400) which I may be able to also fix for free too. At least for very little. These Greenfield mowers by the way are THE BEST. You can get a new B & S engine for $850 on eBay or a Chinese clone for half of that. Don't throw away that old mower!

18/11/11: You could imagine Della and I doing this Grade 5 water in our Alpacka raft but the truth is water a little more gentle than this. Don't try this sort of thing in any other brand of pack raft though:

19/11/11: 'Itsy-bitsy' guy dies twice. We have had a chook and a lamb over the years who both did this too. When it happens to a man it often leads to centuries of religious violence - even though Jesus is buried in Kandahar (just as Adam is buried in Jedda!). Oh well...

19/11/11: We have the 'Fiord Explorer' which is a bit heavy but takes two. I took it down the Seaforth River in Fiordland afer a 3.5 day hike in! For a one person boat you could try the 'Alpacka' or the 'Scout' (if you are as small as Della). These boats will handle any water you would likely dare. For calmer water there is a lighter cheaper craft the 'Flytepacker' @ 35oz (997g). You can get a durable paddle as light as 23oz (650g):

19/11/11: A foreshortened trip up the Wonnangatta with Della who developed a bad chest infection. Fortunately I had brought along the 'Alpacka' raft so we 'enjoyed' a rather bumpy and crowded ride downriver to our car. Saw nine deer in the four hours walking in. We were to go another six hours up river, so we will be back.

Not yet time to trade her in though. We'll try again. I have this really lovely campsite about six hours walk (for me) from my car which I really want her to spend a few days at (thought it would be this trip - followed by a relaxing raft drift down the river on the way out. It didn’t quite work out that way though…

19/11/11: Maybe you are thinking of an interesting Xmas present for your beloved. Maybe consider a Browning Lever Action ('BLR Lightning') rifle in 'take-down' format (ie it splits into halves to stow in your pack). Della bought me one for my 60th. Perhaps I should have got it in Winchester Magnum instead of .308 but I AM very happy with it.

18/11/11: There really IS a see through toaster. Get one for your love for Xmas (approx A$395!)

13/11/11: I liked this cool gadget: & wonder whether it comes with an adapter kit to watch blowflies!. This may also be useful:

13/11/11: Can't believe we didn't finish shearing until 10:35pm last night. With less than 200 sheep now (and falling!) at least it was only one day, but can't believe the shearer didn't arrive until 3:00pm. Back to the pesky thistles today.

13/11/11: Oh No! It has begun raining and I must sadly abandon spraying thistles. What will I do?

13/11/11: Noisy dickhead:

9/11/11: Another 3 hour stint yesterday at the dentist. I am rapidly becoming a cyborg - I have so many new artificial tooth bits. My teeth just keep breaking - the joys of getting older!

Hit (and killed) yet another magpie. I hate that as I really like magpies. What are they doing on the road anyway - other than cleaning up the remains of earlier magpies? Or is it like whale strandings? Strange behaviour for supposedly brainy fishy folks! Does anyone know whether the ultrasonic alarm things will frighten them or other critters off the road or is it just another scam like frightening tigers away from where there aren't tigers?

What is it with bikers.? They are amazing connoiseurs. I pass oodles of them standing around in fast-food carparks admiring each other's bikes. I look and see: just bikes. I can see they must spend more time polishing all that chrome than riding the bikes. Perhaps they should spend some time cleaning the wife's stove, BUT do they have wives? Or they could spend some time washing their hair...

If you are deaf like me you might like to buy your new Siemens hearing aids for US$3200/pr instead of A$11K. I bought a tuning device and programme for US$700 and now hear better than I ever have. Can't believe how much of a rip-off Oz audiologists are. Try:

More time travellers: 1905:, 1863:, C19th John Travolta: I have met many time travellers from the past eg those clearly from the 1950's, 1970's hippies & etc. It must be real!

Time travellers caught on film? Why can we only remember the past? Here: and Here: YOU be the judge...

My tiny beloved will be home any minute from her trying crafty weekend & I must make her an amazing mushroom and lamb ragout. She can have the leftover Red Thai Curry chicken (with lots of water chestnuts!) I made for tea last night for lunch tomorrow. How lucky can you get?

Steve Jones Unfortunately turns out she doesn't much like the red wine sauce flavour, though I did. Leftovers anyone? Perhaps I will try her on my famous Prawn Laksa tonight?

Della Jones It was good, only the sauce wasn't to my taste! Can't wait for prawn laksa though - love it!

Steve Jones She obviously REALLY like the Laksa though. She has since had it for leftovers twice!

Great one Bunnings who have these great flat-pack shelving units (3'x6'x18") which take ten 50 litre lidded boxes for $89ea. We are finally tidying up our house/garage/sheds etc and may be able to find things eventually - or at least before the huge heaps of junk cascade down and crush us!

Check out the 1920's wristwatch GPS and many other neat things at:

Another 35mm of rain overnight! After @ 14 years of drought Gippsland has certainly relearned how to rain THIS year.

I see that GG are going to be offering the Murmur in Dyneema in a couple of months @ 12 ounces. This might be well worth holding out for if you are contemplating a tough lightweight pack for Xmas/New Year:

I enjoyed this girl's blog - the lateral thinking involved in THIS post will save me at least 3 grams! Wow! However it is still a useful example of how collective intelligence continues to make the world a better place. The Super Cat stove pictured I have already commented on and continue to recommend.

Went to Melbourne to see the Queen...but we weren't as pushy as some...we saw - the backs of people's heads! Interesting to see the many Anglos in the crowd and just how civilised and well-behaved THEY were. One woman left her small baby with us (total strangers) whilst she took her small daughter to the toilet. Wonderful to live in such a civilised society.

Astonishing? "By 2001...a chicken reached the weight at which it would be killed in one-third of the time and after eating one-third of the food compared with the 1957 breed...represents...reduction in waste and in devoted to growing feed per chicken"

Had a fun trip to the Hunter Valley last week to catch up with old friends and relatives especially Della's mum who turned 91. Well done.

May have read everything you ever wanted about RF Scott but this article WAS interesting. Just the contrast between how Amundsen was enjoying himself whilst Scott was killing himself and his men...Wow!

Red Dog: "It’s adorable: you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll vote Liberal in the next election. It’s what Red Dog would have wanted …" Go see it, it's great:

This looks like a very useful and durable light pack. A bit of closed cell foam (eg Gossamer Gear's Sitlight pad) and maybe a Big Agnes Cyclone chair as a frame and you are away. 15 ounces (430 grams) is pretty good! Would work as carry on luggage too:

19/11/11: Hiking Fishermen: This is good: and so is this:

Titanium Goat's links make very interesting reading:

18/09/2011: Back from the bush after seeing MANY deer. Four beautiful days of fine weather and camping out. On the last day I walked out from the Humffray River confluence to Moroka Glen (20-25km of rough bush walking) in 8.5 hours which I consider pretty good going for an old bloke. My new stove worked a treat ( It will simmer @ 1ml/minute - great for cooking pasta or frying/baking

‎ A latter-day Kaspar Hauser or anyway an interesting mystery:

 I AM pleased with myself: the Defender is running like a watch. NOW to get up the bush with it for a few days...

Replacing a cracked head on the Defender. I really do not enjoy working on cars but the money I save would only have to be earned doing something I like even less or working with people I would rather avoid. A cynical view of life I know. At least I can stop any time I want and socialise with Della. Can't beat that. When the car is fixed it may even take me somewhere I really want to go.

We have been busily casting around for something to make money out of now that we will no longer be farmers. Successive Governments have made it VERY difficult to make enough to even keep ahead of inflation let alone get a decent living...Rental property is maybe 2% above inflation. The share market is darn scarey. Hope we find something.

"90 percent of people...don't know how to use CTRL/Command + F to find a word in a document or web page!" I was one of them. A very useful tool. Try it.

16/08/2011: Poor Della: yesterday while doing exercises for her dislocated shoulder she put her back out. The chiro put it back in but it is still stiff & sore. This morning she got stuck in the bath whilst showering and I'm so deaf I couldn't hear her calling. What crocks we are! She must be worth three 19 year olds as a trade in though!

14/08/2011: Portable Power - Fascinating gadget though a bit heavy:

14/08/2011: Who would have believed a hiking/running shoe which weighs less than 200 grams? and these people have a river crossing shoe which weighs 53 grams:

14/08/2011: Just to lighten up a bit, you might want to bookmark this one. Knots are very handy and this site shows how to tie them easily. There MAY be a hangman's noose there as well, which could be handy in this political climate:

13/08/2011: Should you become interested in lightweight hiking, try this site:

An eventful day. A huge tree crashed across the road near our driveway at midnight taking out the power lines and trapping us at home until this afternoon. There were many other trees and landslips all up and down the road too. Some pretty wild weather we have been having.

Nancy Wake - the White Mouse - has died AFTER witnessing Hitler's early atrocities, Nancy Wake vowed to fight him any way she could.

8/08/2011: My experience is this is the world's best sleeping bag (@544 grams) - and you can just about wrestle a bear in it!

8/08/2011: This new hiking mat @ 425 grams and R4.4 and US66.95 from Amazon looks great:

2/08/2011: Back early from three days' hunting/hiking in Wonnangatta-Moroka due to sore toes (Have to do more research into boots) and accidentally taking the three-quarter length Neoair mat which was a bit harsh on my bad back. However saw lots of deer, some of whom visited me during the night.

Our last truckload of ewes left for NSW this morning. A very bittersweet moment. But now for some fun in retirement. For a start, off to the Wonnangatta for a few days on Saturday. Yippee!

The SMH and other tree huggers differ in this from Jim Corbett. They think that you should put out Whiskers for it or even bell a man-eating leopard instead of shooting the bastard! Look at this:

Forest cover has been increasing. This is good news:

Della wants a pair of these rare singing bird pistols, but she is out of luck!

Apparently Greenpeace terrorist destroyed a trial GM CSIRO crop recently. The aim of such research is to produce more and better food which surely has unquestionable human benefits. We could get there by conventional breeding, but much more slowly. These people are becoming dangerously insane.

If parrots like Alex can learn to speak English intelligently, how come supposedly more intelligent humans can't learn to speak parrot?

Another day playing in the mud. Bogged and unbogged the tractor yesterday. And attended yet another friend's funeral. We are just loving this global warming winter. Getting the second and last load of sheep ready to go to NSW next week. At least we won't have to pay a carbon tax on them. May get a chance to go hunting next week.

Gobelki Tepe: This 11,000+ year old temple is utterly mind boggling. Just how old is human civilisation?öbekli_Tepe

The last shuttle: a sad day:

More evidence that industrial society and modern agriculture create more wilderness and more wildlife:

When we were in NZ in May bananas were $2-3 per kg and were small and delicious - just like they haven't been here for 20 years. Whatever happened to free trade? As farmers we have certainly never received any such subsidy for selling lambs.

Bogged twice in the paddock yesterday in the Land Rover Defender despite BF Goodrich and twin diff locks. nearly bogged the tractor getting it out. It is just SO wet, and the MUD, oh!

Such a nightmare at the moment trying to place several hundred sheep elsewhere at very short notice and in the wettest winter in living memory. They are due to lamb early August so must be gone mid July.

25/06/2011: The Perfect gifts? Blizzard sleeping bag and jacket eg from: and Aerovest:

Looks like our sheep are going to live in NSW. Good price too.

Have had to deal with so many suffering sheep with flystrike I just can't believe anyone thinks mulesing is crueller than the sheep blowfly.

2/06/2011: Just back from four great days hunting/hiking in the Wonnangatta-Moroka with my son-in-law, Matt Dennis. Now have six camps there in lovely spots complete with shelters and other gear which works well. Saw lots of deer but Matt was too kind to shoot a stag.

When we first came to Gippsland in 1983 we were warned it would be like this: 'If it isn't raining it's dripping off the trees'. Hasn't been like that since 1996, but it sure is lately. We also notice that the snow that AGWs warned would be long gone by now is still here and with a vengeance. Have fun, snow bunnies!

11/05/2011: Time now to start on our winter fires - only 9C at lunchtime today! I want this neat gadget for our wood heater:

11/05/2011: If you are shopping at Modern Outpost maybe you should get one of these too:

24/04/2011: Back from our 10 days mainly in Fiordland NZ marred somewhat by Della dislocating her shoulder in a fall from a rock. This led to the best helicopter ride ever, not enjoyed as much as it might have been however.

A woman from up the road rolled her car down our hill and died this afternoon. I could do nothing for her. It has been a really horrible day. My optimism is somewhat dimmed. We are off to Fiordland for ten days in the morning. Hopefully we will feel better then.

Such a lot of work sorting sheep for sale and joining. Have been at it for days now with days still to go. Still, the wool has gone to market already and soon the lambs will go too so we MAY have enough money to take a look at Fiordland in April.

10/03/2011: Read Della's version of our South Coast walk at:

‎7/03/2011: 'King of the Wilderness' by Christobel Mattingley a life of Denys King of Melaleuca is a very worthwhile read for those of us interested in wilderness places. His life is also a triumph of the human spirit. Try it. (Text Melb 2001)

6/03/2011: Just returned from South West Track Tasmania. Track was really too wet so mud, mud, mud up to our knees or worse for 7 days. Also track times and distances were much longer than quoted on track PR, so we walked for 10-13 hours EVERY day. Gruelling. It was winter there so temperatures were maybe 10 daytime and 0 night time.

 Freeney Lagoon South West Track, Tas

The track is also very dangerous in places and has undisclosed traps which you could only escape by retreating, but up to 6 days' retreat would see you well out of food. For example, at Granite Beach you had to climb a vertical cliff with less than a metre of rocky beach at the bottom and 2 metre waves rapidly approaching as the tide rushed in.

At South Cape Rivulet the crossing was chest deep and intermittently swept by 2 metre waves. If I had not carried 45 metres of 2mm Spectra cord breaking strain 400 kg I would never have got Della or Kerri across. Also nowhere to emergency camp and nowhere for a helicopter to land. I would not recommend this track to anyone.

The track crosses interminable button grass swamps which are really desolate and uninspiring. Most of the remainder of the time you are pushing through narrow tunnels of 3 metre high sword grass. For some reason the track goes straight up wherever it can to crests rather than saddles. These sections are watercourses.

It walks on the side of ridges whenever it could have stuck to the tops of same. When there might be a view it walks on the lee side of sand hills etc so there is no view of the sea (which was sometimes really beautiful).I thought it would be much easier than the Dusky Track in Fiordland where I was cautious of taking Della, but in fact it was much worse - and without the spectacular beauty or the opportunity to camp in dry huts of a night. Instead we camped in very wet bush and drank water which was darker than strong tea and often tasted yuck.The campsites are few and far between, particularly on the Ironbound range which took us 13.5 hours of steady walking to cross. I am really sorry I didn't go to the Dusky again. Next time.

5/03/2011: Just back from a week's walk on the South Coast Track in Tas - fortunately still alive. Mostly a horrid experience (see Della Jones's comments). Important points: NEVER listen to PR. Always carry a long length of stout cord. I had 45 metres of 2mm Spectra which probably saved our lives.

19/2/2011: Two great days canoeing/hunting on the Wonnangatta River with my boys Bryn and Matt. Life is SO good. Matt has a fridge full of venison to show for it. Bryn has a great trophy deer head. We all no doubt have some sore muscles and bruises. The camps I have been setting up worked well. Looking forward to many more such adventures.

Have finished the shearing at last for this year. Very late because of the wet weather which had also caused the worst blow fly problem anyone can remember. We lost about ten sheep horribly despite our best efforts. Must be awful for the Merino guys. Just cannot believe PETA's opposition to mulesing. So ignorant and so wrong.

Spent much of the day 'crutching' fly struck sheep. Probably amongst the world's worst jobs. This humid weather has made this a really bad maggoty season. Can't imagine why PETA etc can be in favour of blow flies and opposed to mulesing. The blow fly is my number one most unpopilar imported pest.

3/01/2011: Spent New Year canoeing-hiking in the Wonnangatta-Moroka wilderness, the most remote spot in Vic. Could be half way round the world in the time it took to get where I was. Beautiful serene wilderness slowly recovering from wildfire. Saw many deer but they are out of season.

29/12/2010: You should also try this. It is an enchanting working stove you can make in minutes. Hours of fun and entertainment:

29/12/2010: Recently I had a Tyvek tent floor and Sea to Summit Ultrasil drybags leak through (a wet sleeping bag is not much fun!) and Tyvek is twice as waterproof as silnylon. I think this guy has the solution (ALSO his Supercat stove is excellent):

16/12/2010: Della & I and Kerri are planning to walk the South Coast track in Tasmania this summer/autumn, my back permitting. You can see someone else's Youtube about it. We hope to do a shakedown walk along the Baw Baw plateau very soon to test ourselves and our gear. Should be nice and cool up there this time of year.

16/12/2010: For those interested in lightweight hiking these links are great: I already go away for a week carrying less than 10kg including food and booze. About half that for a weekend. Most enjoyable.

30/11/2010: Saw lots of deer though no good stags and had a good time really. An interesting test of myself and various gear. Learned a lot. Many things I can improve. Finally swam out (using my inflatable mat and pack tied together as a raft/kick board – as I have done many times before) and am home safe.

30/11/2010: Lots of rain came in. The rivers were in flood, went up over 2 metres and home was on the wrong side. Also discovered that the seam sealer tape on ultrasil dry bags deteriorates - my sleeping bag and all my gear was saturated wading through chest high water. Spent a rather uncomfortable night getting dry. (NB: Body warmth WILL dry everything out eventually).

26/11/2010: Hope to get away up the bush for a few days tomorrow - eat your heart out!

Goodbye girls!

We have had a busy two years with some highs and lows; first the highs: It looks like we have sold the farm (at last) but as it doesn’t settle until late January we are still in ‘fingers crossed’ mode. All but 40 of our ewes went to NSW in Jun-July and we look forward to being hobby farmers in the future here at Jeeralang. We will be selling off four blocks of land at home as well in the New Year. We hope to be able to live off the invested proceeds. Any really good ideas which do not involve donations would be appreciated. Then we hope to install the camper on the Defender and be able to have a bit of a look-see. We MAY turn up in 2012!


The drought seems to have broken with a vengeance. We have reinstated the vegie garden and will be able to resurrect the rest of the garden and extend it. We plan to plant several hundred trees in 2012. We also hope to finish the house, install a new bathroom and sunroom, build a super new bird complex (of course), reclad the old dairy, renovate the cottage, build some new fences and build a new machinery shed. This should keep us out of mischief for a while.

Under the banyan tree...Brisbane

Steve’s back prevented many planned activities in 2010 but it has improved a bit so we have been more active this year. For example, in early March we walked the South Coast Track in Tas with a friend, Kerri Cleaver. This was to be a shake-down for the Dusky Track in 2012 but it was an ad-man’s fancy and so much worse than the Dusky you would have had to be there to believe it: knee deep mud, 12 hour days, six days straight, wet tent camping only, not much scenery. We narrowly avoided death on at least two occasions and were more than happy to spend the seventh day shopping and restauranting in Hobart.

Wellington River en route to Tali Karng

As a reward (!) Steve thought he would take Della to Supper Cove in Fiordland in April, just heli in, laze around the hut, day walks, catch lots of fish etc. We even flew in some bags of coal so we wouldn’t have to collect wood. Well…Della fell off a rock after only half an hour and dislocated her shoulder. Had to be medevaced out! Two great heli rides - though one not appreciated as much by the wee girl as you might wish. She is all mended now. Enough so that week before last we were going to hike up the Wonnangatta for a few days then drift back down in the packraft, some beautiful weather being predicted. Then she did it again! Came down with pneumonia after the first day, so a good thing we had that raft. Again, she is all mended now. She says she shouldn’t go with him just to spoil his fun in future…Is this wholly honest? We do hope to ‘do’ a section of the Dusky Track in autumn 2012. We’ll see.

Cox's Bight South West track, Tas

Steve had two Wonnangatta canoe trips setting up hunting camps, on one of which Matt shot his first deer. Steve had several other hunting trips in the Wonnangatta. We had floods in our creek and many large trees down. We visited NSW in Oct catching up with Dorothy, friends and relatives.

Matt intent

Our worst news in 2010 was the death of our dear friend, Steve Cleaver in May after a long battle. All four of us had made so many great plans together as to what we would do in retirement. Tragically there is always an empty place at the table now – how we all miss his cheerful lively spirit!

In April a woman rolled her car down our hill and was killed in our paddock. Such events certainly remind one that life is short – and to be enjoyed. Moderation should only be taken IN moderation!


In February we had the many fires. We had fires here a week BEFORE ‘Black Saturday’ so we were sort of veterans by the time the worst arrived – and we WERE much better prepared because we had already been threatened for a week. The earlier fires: the Mirboo North/Boolarra fires affected many people we know. Our friends the Cleavers lost their shed and equipment and much of their chestnut orchard but thanks partly to one of our trusty fire fighting pumps and generators (and a lot of hard work) they DID manage to save their house – and themselves. Others were not so lucky. They then turned around the following week and helped us save ours. Well done Cleaver



2 Km up the Road

Then came Black Saturday which was a pretty nasty /interesting day here too. I think much of the disaster was down to the Authorities’ many warnings about ultimate catastrophe, which were a red rag to a bull for potential and real arsonists. Naturally such lunatics are just allowed to roam our streets without let or hindrance in this wondrous green socialist paradise. As well, if the Public Authorities did more to prevent and/or prepare for bushfires many disasters could be readily averted. For example, nearly a year later there have been no firebreaks created or maintained. No safe havens have been developed. There are no new fire bunkers (the old ones having fallen into disrepair twenty or more years ago); there is still no agreed standard for home bunkers. There has been little land clearing particularly along our roads which might otherwise be escape routes but which thanks to misdirected environmental efforts have become little other than wicks. Very little cool burning has been done over autumn to spring in the areas which have not burned over the last few years so that the bush remains a tinder box. That which burned in the last few years is getting close to burning again. They say NERO fiddled while Rome burned. I believe Nero may actually have been a committee – a creature with many heads and no brain! Or his name may be an acronym for NewAge Environmental Resource Officer!

After and during the fires we were locked up at home by the police roads blocks here for weeks as if WE were the culprits. Meanwhile idiots were lighting fires locally on a daily basis - which was pretty scary. It made it hard to sneak through a neighbour’s farm to check on our stock at the other farm. Beer (or the lack of it) also loomed as a real danger – I am glad to report this disaster was averted. We had always believed that our biggest danger from a fire would come from the East from where we NEVER get weather. Naturally for a week after Black Sat the wind blew constantly from that direction, which was also naturally where the fires continued to burn. Fortunately the idiot who lit the Churchill fires did so in plantations to the North East of us and the wind was blowing (as always) from the West. It swung from North West to South West later in the day causing the deaths of a dozen people around Callignee etc only a few kilometres away. Steve was down at the bottom farm filling up a fire fighting water cube and so saw the fire begin. The guy had lit a belt of grass on a track verge in one of APM’s plantations about 2 kilometres long (petrol accelerant) so the fire really took off astonishingly fast. Fortunately it was obviously going to miss our house on the first pass and we would only be affected by it burning upwind later in the day unless the wind came from the East. We were all set up with three fire fighting pumps and three generators to run various things and with a heap of volunteers to keep things hosed down. We had also mown any grass for a hundred or more metres from the house previously, so the main task for the day was keeping cool, feeding the multitudes, drinking copious quantities of beer and watching the fire burning in the valley to the East and the efforts of the Firies and bulldozers in containing it.


April saw Irralee and Steve back in Fiordland. Thanks to Mr Rudd’s generous bushfire money, Steve was able to purchase an Alpacka pack raft (which he had lusted after for years – such strange lusts – check it out on the web; it’s really cool) with which he became the first person to canoe the Seaforth River there. Look on Google Earth. First there was a boat trip, a three and a half day hike in from Lake Hauroko: up the Hauroko Burn, past Lake Roe (spectacular scenery), a  LONG way DOWN to Loch Marie, paddling across Loch Marie unsuccessfully avoiding the many snags (scary), another couple of hours’ walk (VERY up and down) through a gigantic slip, hearing the river really roaring below (as it cascades out of the giant slip which created Loch Marie) and then launching at the Bishop Burn. Moose sign here and there for those who have been following this story for years. Back again next year? Hope so.

Steve had surveyed the canoeing route on Google Earth and had seen some of the river on previous (hunting/hiking) expeditions. Google Earth LIES. There ARE much worse rapids than its satellite sees. He had thought that he would always be able to SEE them coming and that it would be a relatively simple matter to walk around them. He had not counted on some killer rapids having vertical river banks upstream of them. And the strength of the river (even though) the river height was NOT high was MUCH greater than he anticipated. Once when walking in water a little over ankle deep he and his boat and pack were bowled over several times by the sheer force of the water. Therefore being able to get out upstream of deadly rapids was more questionable than it appeared from orbit. Fortunately it IS possible to climb 20 ft vertically up tree roots hanging into the river – otherwise he would not be telling this story. There WERE some immensely beautiful and pleasurable stretches however. And many beautiful wild red deer. And lots of trout for the anglers amongst you.


Even so the worst part was at the end. He had been thinking that he would not have to cross the deep waters of the Fiord to get to the Supper Cove hut. By the time he was in the bottom reaches of the river, shadows were lengthening. The river spills out into the shallow Supper Cove at the top of the Fiord and you can walk across it at low tide – have done many times. What he didn’t appreciate was that there were several kilometres of VERY deep tidal river BEFORE you get to Supper Cove and that sharks just LOVE these stretches. About twenty times sharks (longer than the boat) cruised under the boat lifting it a foot or so into the air. This was the very most frightening aspect of the journey. The boat is VERY thin and light (2 kilos – made of Kevlar). Kevlar and Jones were obviously not on the shark menu in 2009 so he (and the good ship Fiord Explorer) are still here to tell the tale.


We had to cut the trip short. We were going to stay a few days at Supper cove moose hunting (as it turned out only 1 ½) and then walk out to Manapouri. We flew out by helicopter. In some ways this was a disappointment but NOAA said bad weather was coming (they were right) and as it turned out we came out on the last heli flight and would have missed our plane if we had not. It was a spectacular (and wild) heli ride. The owner of the chopper was hunting in Breaksea Sound, two fiords up and wanted out to attend his son’s gymkana so we got a free trip around Fiordland: up the Hilda Burn where I saw a moose in 2000, down Herrick Creek where Eddie Herrick shot his great bull in 1928, across Wet Jacket Arm where Captain Cook got his coat wet in 1770, over Oki island and on to Breaksea, then up the Breaksea and over the passes to Manapouri and Te Anau. It would have coat $10K but it cost us $200 ea because we were picking up the bloke who owned the whirligig. Great luck. We spent the rest of the trip just tooling around the South Island.




Della and Steve had a number of hiking trips into the Victorian mountains eg up the Wonnangatta and the Moroka and a couple of multi-day canoe trips on the Thomson and I don’t remember where - and we hope for many more. Steve also had a multi-day canoe trip with friend Brett Irving who has just moved back down to the Valley from Melbourne.



Della and Steve are buying a glide on camper from in the USA to fit to their Landrover Tray which will enable them to ‘Go Bush’ in some style. Our most important considerations were light weight, low height, minimum width, welded frame, and the biggest fridge we could fit! Just can’t be too much beer or G & T! We got an external hot shower as well by accident. It’s going to be good. This should arrive sometime in January so we may see you sometime in the New Year, you never know!


Steve has had a bad back for the last three months which has been a misery, but now thanks to the Healthy Back Institute, it is on the mend. The house is currently crowded with all manner of strange (back contraptions) and wobbly/kneely furniture, Inversion Tables, and other seeming instruments of torture. He has been sleeping in a hammock suspended from stainless steel eye bolts mounted in the house uprights for the last month. All these things, plus some intelligent exercises seem to have effected (I’m SURE the spellchecker is wrong about what it recommends here) what surgery and doctors could not have done – and so we continue to make plans, for example:


We are planning to walk the South Coast Track at the bottom of Tasmania in February or March. This is an entertaining 8 day trek along parts of Tasmania’s wilderness coast. Should be just marvellous. Maybe YOU would like to join us, but beware: we are ultralight campers; you may have to carry the beer! Though usually Steve drinks Bacardi 151 and Della some liqueur when up the bush and far from our trusty motor car. Four days hike away from it is nice. You SHOULD try it. And we will have 8 days of fine weather. How do I know? We will go when it is forecast to be fine. If you haven’t found this site yet, the American Weather Bureau gives a very accurate 16 day forecast. Don’t know why our BOM can’t figure out how to do this. All you have to know are the co-ordinates of where you want the forecast for. Steve has used this on his last three trips to Fiordland (where it normally rains 20 METRES per year) and hasn’t needed a raincoat. So there!




January: Della - Thomson River

February: The Hunchback of Moroka Gorge

April: Kea: Centre Pass Dusky Track  Fiordland

Bryn and Steve had a fortnight in New Zealand in April which was more difficult for Steve than usual as he had pneumonia and those  mountains certainly seem to get higher and higher the less you can breathe.


April: Dusky Cove Fiordland - Waterfall Burn

July: Off to NSW - Goodbye Girls

This was to be the year we were to give up on farming and start a new life of fun, fun, fun. ‘Every man has an idea that will not work’, they say. We did succeed in selling the main sheep flock but now we have a farm with not enough stock and which is quite hard to sell because of the recession we’ll pretend we’re not having. Della has retired from teaching and we are thinking of spending more time canoeing, hiking, camping etc but it hasn’t happened a lot yet. Something to look forward to (again) in 2009 perhaps.

February: The Pinnacles, Wonnangatta-Moroka NP

September: Wonnangatta River Sambar Stag

There are lots of beautiful places you can get to in Vic on foot or in a canoe or even in  a 4WD. Steve has had some multi-day hiking trips into the Wonnangatta/Moroka region, mostly by himself camping comfortably in his hammock but once with an old friend, Brett Irving. Shot a nice stag on one trip. Brett saw more deer than he had seen in his life on their trip together so is all booked up for two trips a year now (SWMBOs permitting). Lots of beautiful trout to catch there as well so no doubt Della and Steve will have some lightweight summer expeditions into that part of the country – and elsewhere. We have always considered that the aborigines’ greatest contribution to civilisation is trout grilled in Alfoil on the hot coals of a campfire!




Steve & Irralee had an exciting week in Fiordland in April. They had several days of hiking then a spectacular helicopter ride out of the Seaforth Valley because Irralee twisted her ankle, after which they had a few days doing proper touristy things: glaciers, backpackers etc. If Steve had $10,000 to spend on something completely silly he would spend it all on helicoptering around Fiordland. Incredible! Caught up with old friends Alan & Averil O’Neil who put them up (put up with them) in Christchurch and helped them to (re)discover that beautiful city!