Monthly Archives: November 2014

Abercrombie River National Park

This is a great spot to visit. Apart from the beauty of the Australian bush, there are so many tracks to follow, such privacy to be found, quiet rivers to camp beside, history to learn about and some great bush walking too.

But there is more……

To me, there are two sides to this National Park. on the one-hand, there are well maintained tracks that allow easy access to some soft roaders, AWD vehicles and SUV’s. Most are well within the ability of novice off road drivers. You can reach some great camping grounds and a trip with one or two nights camping is highly recommended. Take all you need and take away everything you bring.

The other side is more wild. People sometimes ask is there any real 4WDing in this park. Yes there is. Steep washed out tracks, rugged hills, deep gullies and spectacular scenery can all be found. Some tracks require a lot of expertise, a well prepared vehicle with recovery gear along with the knowledge on how to use it properly.

A few simple suggestions for this National Park;

1) If you find yourself on a track that is gradually getting worse, narrowing and generally looking less travelled, keep looking for good spots to turn around and do so, before you have no options left. Rough tracks can be fun but be aware of you and your vehicles limitations.

2) Especially in this National Park, if you are going down a steep hill, you WILL have to go up a steep hill on the other side. In the Abercrombie River NP, there are no exceptions. Many ill-equipped vehicles will get you down a hill (thanks to gravity) but that same villain will stop you getting up the other side. I’ve pulled out 4WD’s in that exact predicament before, much to their relief.

A few Do’s and Dont’s  to consider when in any National Park.

Please don’t leave rubbish. There are no garbage trucks visiting the parks.

Don’t feed wildlife. It is cute to see native animals up close, but they are not used to eating our food, nor are they equipped to deal with the germs that we carry on food scraps we’ve been eating. No… not even apple cores are good for wildlife. Sorry.

Take lots of photos but no souvenirs. Hard as it may be to not grab something to remind you of your visit, it’s just not the right thing to do.

Be sensitive to the environment. Stay on tracks. Minimise wheel spin. Go easy in mud puddles and in river crossings. I know it sounds like I’m taking away some of the fun, but its better for the future generations if we look after the parks now.

Water. Take plenty of it. Food too. Something warm to wear – even in summer. If you get stuck and need to stay overnight, it can get cold overnight at 1100m above sea level, even in Summer. Tell someone where you are going and when you’re expected back – Be specific in your instructions as to where you are going and what you are doing and stick to that plan.

Emergency Locator beacons (EPIRB) save lives. Much of the park has no mobile reception, so unless you have a Satellite phone, you’ll have no way of contacting anyone. An EPIRB can be bought for a few hundred dollars but you can also hire one from some police stations and National Parks offices. Think about it next time you go bush.

Is your vehicle ready? Driving around town all week is not the same as going bush. If in doubt, see a mechanic, tell them your intentions and ask; Is my vehicle mechanically OK to go bush?

On a final note, here are a few pics of an old Gold miner / cattleman’s hut deep in the Abecrombie River National Park. Enjoy. Photos courtesy of Robyn Lambert who came along with Detour Adventures recently.

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Cheers, Ian

 

 

 

 

Kowmung River

Truly a strange name for a beautiful but very private river.

The photo below is really the only place you can get to and cross this river by vehicle. Not a complicated river crossing but you definitely need a 4WD to both get to it and cross it. Some SUV and AWD type vehicles will make it but if in doubt of the ability of you or your vehicle, then don’t.

Some say the Gandangara people named the river Kowmung as it caused soreness in their eyes. What is not easily recognised, is that it flows into the Sydney catchment, even though it appears to be on the western side of the Great Dividing Range. Strange.

It is on the western side of the ranges – but it is on the eastern side of the watershed and the flow of water from this clear beautiful river makes its way to join the Coxs River gathering small tributaries along the way.

As the surrounding countryside is steep, mountainous and for the most part, inaccessible, it remains largely untouched by humans making it a very private river.

Every time I cross this river on my tours, I stop and admire it’s beauty for a moment.

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Safe travels everyone. Ian

 

The Australian Goanna – 5 quick facts

The pic below is a good example of an Australian Goanna. Monitor Lizard is another name, but here is Australia, we simply called them Goannas.

Although found throughout the Australian mainland and even in suburbia, you won’t find them as easily as you may find a Kangaroo. They can be hard to spot because of their camouflage that allows them to blend into their surroundings.

Blending into surrounding is something most Australian native animals do really well.

What also makes the goanna so hard to spot is their sense of keeping out of sight. I saw this one crossing a lovely quiet bush track. As soon as he saw me he raced away and up this tree. Climbing makes them feel safer. Being seen while up a tree really worries them. To reduce their fears, they will climb sideways around the tree to keep out of your sight. The more you walk around the tree to get a look, the more they move as well, forever keeping out of your sight. Remarkable, but frustrating for the observer.

5 Quick Facts

The Australian Goanna preys on small animals that can be swallowed without needing to be pulled apart. They will also eat snakes, birds and eggs. They also like to feed on rotting meat of dead animals.

They lay eggs in small burrows like many other lizards but unlike other lizards, a Goanna cannot re-grow limbs once lost.

Goannas are found in all Australian states and territories except Tasmania.

The name Goanna originates from the Iguana of South America.

Have a look at those claws. Do not try to pick one up. Look and leave alone, and the Australian Goanna will show you the same courtesy.

Cheers, Ian

 

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Early Gold Mining Methods

When we think of gold mining, we generally don’t think of modern methods using large scale heavy machinery. We tend to think of the early the days, like we were taught in school; panning for gold in a stream, early settlers and hard times; Bush Rangers and Cobb and Co Coaches.

But up near Hill End in Central West NSW, the miners had a new idea. The Cornish miners that were working in the area thought that gold could be more easily extracted from the base quartz ore by roasting it in a similar way that tin and copper was extracted from ore back in the UK.

They believed that roasting the ore would help by making it brittle and easier to crush.

To this end, these roasting pits were built.

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A fire was lit in the fireplace under the Arch. The ore was placed in the round pit and roasted until brittle.  All this happened in the mid 1850’s. Amazing.

What is more amazing is that this is a harsh place to live. It can be bitterly cold in winter and scorching hot in summer with very little natural water available. The ground is hard and rocky which partially explains the wonderful stone work.

But…….. like all great ideas, it was quickly superseded by more modern techniques and by the end of the 1850’s these Cornish Roasting Pits were abandoned.

See all this and more with Detour Adventures.

Cheers, Ian

 

 

 

 

Bathurst… 200 years on

In 2015, Bathurst will celebrate 200 years, making it Australia’s oldest inland city. But lets go back a bit …….

The first successful explores to cross the Blue Mountains were Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth who did this with the help of an amazing team of people and horses in 1813. There were numerous attempts before this, some getting quite close without realising it.

The NSW Government of the day under the direction of William Cox completed the first road across the mountains in 1814. Bathurst was proclaimed a city in May 1815 by Governor Macquarie. Bathurst is Australia’s oldest inland city. Goulburn (NSW) likes to make this claim too, however, it was established in 1833. The two cities share a lot of common architecture.

These days it takes under 3 hours to reach Bathurst crossing the Blue Mountains on a beautiful scenic highway.  Back in 1815,  it took weeks to make the same journey.

Not withstanding the distance and difficult conditions, Bathurst flourished in its early years. Today it is a modern city, with good infrastructure and employment. Many families today leave the fast city life for a country way of life and make Bathurst their new home, in much the same way as the early settlers did in 1815.

And of course, there is some beautiful architecture in Bathurst to take in. Join me on a Detour Adventures historical tour of Bathurst. Or if you prefer, I’ll show you the wonderful bush that surrounds this great city.

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Air Crane over Blue Mountains

Growing up in the Blue Mountains, as kids we were always aware of the dangers of bush fires. We were taught fire procedures at primary school and even the smell of smoke in summer was cause for concern.

In those days, it was unheard of to use a helicopter to help fight fires.

These days, it is common practice to fight fires from the air as well as on the ground. It is costly, but it is super effective.

I snapped this pic of the Erickson Air Crane in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains of NSW, Australia a couple of days ago. These heavy lift helicopters are brought out to Australia from the US each fire season to support the NSW Rural Fire Service ground crews who do a great job.

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While in Katoomba, I also took this pic of the beautiful view looking over to Mt Solitary.

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Cheers, Ian

 

 

 

 

Kangaroos everywhere – top 4 tips for spotting these elusive fellas

I get asked by Guests…. “Will we see kangaroos?” The answer is yes….. “Always?”……. yes.

Guests from the city love seeing Kangaroos. Guests from overseas especially love seeing Kangaroos in nature. I live in a rural setting and as I leave my front gate setting out on a Detour Adventure in the morning, I can sometimes count 15-20 in the farmers paddock near me. Farmers don’t usually like Kangaroos.

Out on tour, there are some tricks to spotting Kangaroos and Wallabies.

Here’s my top 4 tips for good spotting…..

  1. Move quietly in the bush. If you’re walking, look ahead not down and if you’re driving, drive slowly. Slower than 20km/h. You’ll see more if you drive slowly and it’s a peaceful way to see the bush and spot wildlife.
  2. Go early in the morning or late in the afternoon. In the heat of the day, like the Spanish, most wildlife are taking a siesta.
  3. Think about where Kangaroos might be. Grassy clearings in the bush that look like a lawn mower has been through is a good sign they are feeding and keeping the grass down. Under trees or in light vegetation, not dense bush. That’s not to say they don’t go into dense bush, but they like to see what’s around them and light scrub often provides a good advantage for spotting danger.
  4. Think Kangaroo. Kangaroo are excellent at blending in with their surroundings and can be difficult to spot. They will hear you long before you see them and if they sense no immediate danger, will usually stand completely still, blending in with nature, the only movement will be their twitching ears. If you think kangaroo, surprisingly, you’ll actually see more. If you are mindlessly looking out the window as you drive along, its amazing how many you’ll miss. I know this is true because I often say to Guests on tour, “See the Kangaroo over there? …. and often the answer is…. “Where?”

So, there you go.

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Here’s a quick video of how a little female wallaby with a joey in her pouch assesses my presence and reacts by moving to a safer area where she feels safer.

Click to watch the video ……  Wallaby and Joey.

Cheers, Ian