Around Meryla

Our first 4×4 outing.

With great excitement we headed off for our first 4×4 trip. 
We wanted to make sure that on our first trip we didn’t get lost or stranded on some tougher than expected track. To help us out we bought “4WD Treks close to Sydney” by Craig Lewis and Cathy Savage (6th Edition). This has 17 easy, 6 medium, one difficult and one very difficult trips around Sydney.
We decided on an easy one to start with that was not too far from home. Trek 1: Around Meryla
Distance: 32.6km 
Standard: Easy
AWD?: It says in the trip guide that it’s suitable for AWDs. Maybe when the book was published it was, but now you at least need high ground clearance on the Meryla Fire Trail section. Also if there had been a lot of rain, parts of the track would be very boggy.
The road up to the Griffins Fire Trail car park and picnic tables was pretty straight forward. Along the road there are a couple of camping spots. Good, without being great. No facilities.
At the car park, which is where the Griffins Fire Trail starts, there are a couple of picnic tables. It’s a great spot for morning tea. You could also walk down to the river if you had the time and energy. Not today.
Pretty well any car could do this part of the route.
Meryla fire trail has one rocky section that is not difficult but an AWD would probably bottom out and not have the traction to get up the hill. Also there are some wet bog holes that would have stranded an AWD. The first couple of these we went around as we only had highway standard tyres. Also we were still getting used to the capabilities of the Everest (and driver). Particularly on the second half of the trip we took our time and got a great feel for the car and track.
Great scenery, some good walks and the trip finished at Fitzroy Falls.
The are a number of picnic areas at the National Park Visitors Centre along with a cafe. About 500 metres along the Nowra Road towards Kangaroo Valley is a picnic ground on the left. This is situated next to the reservoir and made for a great lunch stop.
All in all a great introduction and a great way to get the new car dirty. 

And now to add some off road Adventures

2018 is the year that we finally got a 4wd.

This is going to add another dimension to our adventures ‘exploringyonder’.

Only got it on Tuesday and today (Friday) we’ve taken it off road. So far it’s totally stock.


Sea Kayaking: Malabar

On the last day of summer 2016/17 it was time for another sea kayak paddle with the Tuesday group.
The wind was dying off, only about 10 knots and the swell was only 1 to 1.5 metres and pretty much lined up with the wind. Although we had a light shower after the start, we were to experience quite a bit of blue sky.
Near the headland and along the cliffs, the swell, combined with the bounce back from the cliffs, gave us quite a ride. Soon Ken was swimming, so the whistles were blowing to stop and regroup. After a few missed practice rolls, Caroline reentered cowboy style. Maybe it was the extra effort, but shortly she was about to succumb to sea sickness and was escorted home.
Regrouping on the gently rolling ocean
Out in the ocean the  group tends to regroup every 1 to 2 kilometres. This gives the chance for a rest. It also gave me a chance to practice some of the manoeuver techniques that Rob taught me this afternoon.
Like a lot of these paddles, the way home was downwind and with the swell. Great waves to catch.
Finally, we rounded off the day catching some waves on the reef inside the bay.



Wombeyan Caves

First stop, Wombeyan Caves camping area. This is part of the Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve. There are great limestone caves here and you can purchase tickets for guided tours. There is also one self guided cave (also a fee applicable). There is also a swimming hole, though there is a walk to get there.img_5533

The road in from Goulburn is quite good. There’s only about 7-8km of pretty good dirt. A little windy towards the end as you drop down into the valley, so just take your time.

The camping area is large and spread-out. No marked spots, just find you own. There were groups of campers with their surrounding tents, camper-trailers of various shapes and sizes as well as caravans. There are a small number of powered sites but we thought that the best spots were the unpowered sites. For us the only practical difference between powered and unpowered is that we can’t use our electric heater (certainly not needed now) and we can’t use our toaster. No big deal. There are also cabins.

Open fires are permissible as long as they are in the fire pits (which are very large).

There is a camp kitchen, complete with a bit of a recreation area. Both of these are functional, but showing their age. The garbage and recycling is beside the kitchen. There are also hot showers.

Camp fees are paid down at the Ranger’s Office, about 500 metres from the camping area. This is where you book cave tours and there is a small canteen there. The shop shuts at 4:00pm.


The Rangers told us that Easter is the busiest time of year here. It can get pretty packed.


Exploring the NSW Tablelands


Christmas/New Year brings lots of great things. Not the least, is a couple of weeks off work for my wife. This, combined with the need to get to Brisbane for a family birthday, another road-trip was on the agenda.
We have not done a lot of inland travelling, staying usually near the coast. We knew the coast would be so busy during the Christmas break. So a rough ‘plan A’ was developed, taking us up the NSW Tablelands. We knew that there will be a pretty good chance this will change as we were prepared to be responsive to whatever we encountered.
The only real constraint was that we had about 12 nights to get there. That’s so much better than flying or driving straight through.

New Adventure: Sea Kayaking

With excitement, and some trepidation I was starting a whole new adventure. Sea Kayaking. For many years I had wanted to kayak but for various reasons this did not eventuate. Even when I bought the surf ski three years ago, I thought very hard about getting a sea kayak instead. Is 60 too old to learn to sea kayak. No way…

Today I was joining Rob Mercer of Expedition Kayaks. Rob and Mark Sundin have been very supportive of me learning to ride my ocean surf ski and they were instrumental in setting up the Doll’s Point Paddlers group to introduce people to moving water and wind on their ski in a safe and social environment. This group today is one of the paddles run by NSW Sea Kayak


I was taking a Tiderace Pace 17 tour for a test paddle. Testing the kayak and testing me. This Tuesday kayaking group is one of the best in Australia (yes I know that will start discussion). They are skilled and love to practice these skills. They are passionate about paddling, especially in challenging conditions but are happy to paddle with and shadow  newcomers.

So after being allocated a buddy (Andrew) it was off to explore.

Firstly the Pace 17 is such a great kayak. Handles well, is stable enough and really looks after the paddler.

Wherever I went, Andrew was only a couple of boat lengths away. That was reassuring. Up and over the waves, through the side chop and along the cliffs. My smile was bigger than the kayak. cropped-img_0358.jpg

At the turning point (about 6 kms out to sea) it was rolling practice for everyone. As I could not roll yet, it was wet exit and assisted reentry for me. Again there was no shortage of volunteer to assist. img_4961

The downwind leg on the way back was a little slower than I had hoped for. This was a combination of my tiredness and the fact that the Kayak handled a bit differently to the ski. Something that I would have to get used to.

I was definitely coming back.

(All photos courtesy of Rob Mercer)


Time to visit the Northern Territory

So I’ve finished work. This is a very strange feeling. But before I can settle in too much, it’s off to the Northern Territory.

Bethany has been working on a contract at Darwin Hospital and this is coming to an end very soon. We have a unique opportunity to duck up to Darwin while she is still there.

Elizabeth will be coming for a four day weekend and then I’ll hire a small camper van and stay another five nights.

Sunset Darwin