Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thu 22 Nov - Home, Manly NSW

Well, it is 4.45pm and we are back home in Manly again. It has been quite a journey, hasn't it?

We've visited some pretty special places and met some interesting people.

We felt that that some crappy awards were in order after all this road-trip, so here they are.

First the positive awards:

  • Best hiking: Flinders Ranges, diverse range of trails, superbly marked - also best views
  • Most interesting national park: Mutawintji National Park, some 150km northeast of Broken Hill. This is true outback.
  • Positive surprise town: Portland, Victoria. We knew nothing about this town beforehand. Cool town with a town seal in the harbour, cool surroundings, Great South West Walk nearby,
  • Unexpected fun and quirky town: Peterborough, SA, aka Steamtown. A former railway junction, reinventing itself with a rail "sound and light show" aka movie documentary, run and organized by a German bloke
  • Best wine district: Clare Valley, except for Clare town. Cool vineyards (in particular, Sevenhill), cool conversion of old rail tracks into Riesling Trail, a 25km biking or hiking stretch between Clare and Auburn
  • Best food (outside of Di's cooking): La Scala Italian Restaurant in Griffith, a local institution
  • Funniest menu item: Masallas in Broken Hill with Chicken AK-47 curry and its 30 chillies attached vs Beef Vindaloo with 3 chillies
  • Best Elvis exhibition: Parkes, well, where else...? Well, since my baby left...
  • Best belly laugh: Grampians camp ground, when a couple of abseilers returned to camp one day and found their previous quiet spot surrounded by a school bus load of teenagers and their tents. The abseilers moved quick smart to the other side of the campground
Then, well, the other "awards"...

  • Place with most overweight and unattractive people: Broken Hill's Tourist Park
  • Least interesting town where we spent a night: Port Augusta, SA - gateway to the west... And north... And...
  • Least interesting town - no overnight, we changed our mind once we got there: Tailem Bend, SA, a highway junction
The Carlen family will return in early January 2013 for more blogging from the road in North America and Europe. Until then, Ciao.


With apologies to Russell Coight for some of inserts above...

No photos today, sorry.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wed 21 Nov - Narooma NSW

Last full day of our trip :-(.

Well, this trip anyway.., much more traveling coming up in the early new year :-)

We knew that the next 3 mornings will be busy and we will be running around. So, we had a really lazy morning today :-)

Hans is sitting outside at the back enjoying the early morning sunshine and the cool breeze from the sea.

Around 9am, we decide to walk the Mill Bay Boardwalk as we did last Monday. However, this time around, the weather was much better.
We still saw no stingrays or seals, but at least there were some people fishing from the boardwalk. We continued post the end of the boardwalk out to the end of the breakwater. Windy and rugged there.
After pottering around there for a while, we walked back to the town centre via the excellent seafood shop by the bridge to pick up food for lunch and dinner, and after breaking for a coffee and cake, we ventured to the south side of the bay and up the hill. Great views from there, and ample opportunity for photographs.
Here is the Mill Bay Boardwalk from across Narooma inlet.
More from Narooma inlet.
Narooma Sea Rescue facilities, looking north.
Narooma Golf Course with Montague Island in the distance.
Even Jim and Michel's apartment block popped up in the distance from that hill. Their apartment is on the ground floor so therefore not visible here.
We then walked back home for lunch, more Crystal Bay Prawns, yum..., followed by a lazy, stay at home, afternoon.
Dinner was fried sea perch, potato bake, corn and snow peas (and wine).
Lazy evening reading and then... Zzzzzz...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tue 20 Nov - Narooma NSW

Much better weather in Narooma today, although it started off cloudy and overcast but soon fined up.

Hans wanted to hike to Mount Dromedary in the Gulaga National Park from Tilba Tilba, a 12 km return hike.

Di was not so keen on this hike so decided to "potter" while waiting for Hans to return.

A good choice by Di as the hike was not very interesting, no real views from the summit ("filtered through the vegetation" is what the spiel said), wet and slippery and 2 leeches selected Hans as part of their daily blood intake. One of the leeches found its way to Hans waist, where it managed to suck blood from the waistline where Hans thought that only fat resided. The other leech was detected on the right ankle. Oh well. After all, the hike goes through a rainforest of sorts, and there had been lots of rain the last couple of days.

Hans amused himself on the hike and did a bit of "art" on this tree.

This is the summit all right. Not much for show...
The view from the summit. Very filtered.
A bit of history. The track is an old gold-miner track.
The saddle (of the dromedary).
Background story to how Mount Dromedary got its name. Well, it was that guy again, James Cook. Captain Cook saw the mountain from out at sea back in 1770 and declared in his log book that "At 6'o clock we were abreast of a pretty high mountain laying near the shore which on account of its figure I named Mount Dromedary".
Di's morning had been one of exploration and enjoyment. Hearing about Hans' leeches whilst drinking very good tea at a lovely coffee shop in Cobargo (after a pleasant visit to a 2nd hand book store) just highlighted her good choice!
Part of the exploration was to Mystery Bay which is a tiny settlement but with a great council campground amongst the trees bordering the beach. Very nice spot. The bay got its name due to the mysterious disappearance at sea of 5 men - their boat, with valuables, clothes and papers were found all together but their bodies were never found. Hmmm.... Very mysterious... although it would be easy to deliberately disappear on this part of the south coast (note: our own conspiracy theory).
Then on to Central Tilba to meander through the shops and of course try all the cheeses at ABC cheese factory. Yum.
At 1 pm, we met again outside Pam's Store in Tilba Tilba, where there is a parking area and where the track starts and finishes.
We decided to go back to the ranch for lunch, but Di wanted to show Hans what she had seen while he was hiking, so we took a short detour to Mystery Bay, including checking out their camping ground in more detail. All very nice.

The landscape Narooma and south of it is really beautiful - quite a bit of dairy country with lots of dairy cows to keep Di happy! Here are a few pics:

Lunch was leftovers and after Hans had a shower to wash off the hiking "perfume", we were on the road again to get an afternoon coffee and do some more sightseeing. The weather was now sunny, and it was a very pleasant day around 20 degrees.
We stopped back at Chalk and Cheese cafe in Cobargo. Di for the second time today as she had been there for tea when Hans was hiking. We had coffees and a muffin to share. Very pleasant place. Very nicely decorated and reasonably good coffee and muffin.

After that, we drove to Bermagui and parked the car by the boat and fishing harbour and took a wander around the place. Lots of pelicans there (and seagulls too of course, and ducks...).

We went out on one of the breakwaters where they had very cleverly constructed a pool for kids to swim in. All very safe. The harbour entrance itself faced northwest, i.e. a very good choice.
Here is Hans on the breakwater, pointing to Mount Dromedary in the background.
Di among the pleasure crafts and fishing boats.
Back to the ranch again for a break before dinner, the local Chinese is on the menu tonight.
Salt and pepper prawns, sizzling garlic platter and special fried rice. Very tasty, but too much. We left with some of the fried rice for later, but really really full. Good night.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mon 19 Nov - Narooma NSW

We woke up to ferocious weather. Strong wind, horizontal rain. We were not going anywhere for a while.

At around 9am, the weather situation had improved somewhat, and we decided to brave the elements. Di wanted to do the Mill Bay Boardwalk at the other side of the Narooma bridge, so we strolled there from the flat via the waterfront and the small boat harbour.

Some views from Narooma Bridge...

No stingrays or seals found in the water today. Perhaps, the water was too choppy and regardless, there was no fisherman in sight.
At the end of the boardwalk, there is some artistry going on at the local toilet block...
On the way back from Mill Bay Boardwalk, we popped into the fresh fish and seafood place by the bridge and bought some Crystal Bay prawns and whole breams for lunch and for dinner (the benefit of being back on the NSW south coast - Yum).
The weather could not decide whether it should rain and be windy or provide some sunshine, but...not matter sun or rain it's still windy.
So, time for a cuppa, and instead of our usual fav, Narooma Bakery, we popped into the place on the corner, which looked very popular this wet and windy Monday morning. The coffee was among the best in this trip and their home baked banana and walnut muffin was really yummy.

Then off to the National Park and Wildlife Services office between the Main Street and the bay, to pick up some hiking suggestions. Hans then decided to pop into Narooma library to utilise their NOT free wifi ($2 per 30 mins, oh well...). Di went back to the flat to catch up on her reading.

After prawns for lunch and pottering around the flat doing admin things for a while, we decided to brave the elements once more and went out, but the other way, southeast, towards the golf course. A beautiful part of Narooma, the golf course itself is surrounded by the sea, creeks and ponds; water everywhere.

We then ventured out on the rugged and windswept beach near Narooma Surf Clib, and took a few photos in the process...

As we wandered across the golf course, we decided that a drink at the golf club wouldn't go astray, so we went in and had a gin and tonic (Di) and a schooner of Blonde (Hans).
After having refreshed ourselves, we went back to the flat and Di decided that a bath is now in order, while Hans voted for a Tiger beer. All good.
Dinner was back in the flat for whole fried local fish (sea bream) and vegies.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sun 18 Nov - Narooma NSW

Sunday and time to move on to our final destination (before heading back home) which is Narooma on the coast.

We have borrowed our dear neighbors Jim and Michel's flat there and we were planning to stay until Thursday.

We wake up to another beautiful morning in Kalkite, but the Narooma forecast for the week is not so great, with some form of showers every day that we are planning to be there. Oh well, we have been very lucky with the weather so far on this trip.

Just before 9am, we are all packed up, we thank Anke and Holger for their very kind hospitality and we are on our way.

A pit stop in Cooma for diesel and food at Aldi, and then east on Monaro Highway to the coast and Princess Highway just north of Bega. As we then travel north towards Narooma, we can see the dark clouds coming closer and closer, although there were only a few drops of rain hitting the car as we travelled.

Before we "check in" at Sheraton Court, unit number 8, in Narooma, we stop for a seafood lunch at Taylor's down by the estuary. Lots of parked cars and vans were there by the water, so we figured that there must be some event on. Anyway, we had OK fish and seafood at a picnic table there by the water, but we felt short changed on the chips (first time ever?) We did remember Taylor's as being much better last time we were here. Time to try another place?

We were very lucky with the weather. As we were moving in our gear to Jim and Michel's unit, there were only a few spits of rain. We had barely made ourselves at home with a cuppa before the thunder and the bucketing of rain started, coming down good. It will be a quiet "stay at home" Sunday afternoon for now.

The rainy outlook from the back, looking east...

Well, checking the weather online later on, there are rain, hail and wind warnings for the south coast, all the way from Batemans Bay down to Merimbula and beyond. "Large hail" had been reported in Bega, strong winds on Montague Island, which is just off the coast from Narooma. We will stay in and have some soup...
Not much of a photography day, so here are some pics from inside the unit of the combined living room and kitchen...
Well, we had pre dinner drinks (Tiger beer and white wine), dinner (Bega Pasta) and some more wine.
After dinner, Di retired to read her book and, as the rain had now stopped and it had cleared a bit, Hans took a wander towards the centre of Narooma.
It was an absolutely stunning evening, cool and crisp air, but with almost nobody out and about. Pity that Hans didn't bring the camera. He went down to where the boats go out for whale watching, deep water fishing and to Montegue Island and checked out a few restaurants and take away places. All good.
Back to the flat after an hour or so to wind down with a movie on the ipad before bedtime...Di still reading and loving it!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sat 17 Nov - Kalkite NSW

A much quieter day after yesterday's all happenings. We both needed that.

A lazy and late breakfast with Holger cooking his famous bacon and eggs. Very nice.

After breakfast, we took the campervan down to Jindabyne, parked it outside the bowling club, and wandered along the foreshore a bit. We were amazed yet again on how high the waterline is, much more noticeable when you are down by the water.

After a while, we wandered back and up to Nuggets Crossing for a cuppa at the lolly shop (according to Holger, they have the best coffee in Jindabyne... Hmm, it was OK and it was popular with Saturday morning shoppers, but it would just be another average coffee shop in Sydney).
After that, we walked back to the camper van and passed the statue of Edmund Strzelecki. What a guy...

We then drove to Woolies, where we picked up a picnic lunch, seafood and coleslaw salad and buffalo chicken wings and then drove off to Thredbo River near Sawpit Creek to have our lunch.
There were a bunch of middle aged gentlemen fishing there by the river, one looked almost like he stepped out of a fishing gear magazine as he had all the gear on him and all of it looked brand new. Note that this is middle of the day and way downstream, in clear and busy water, so we were wondering what kind of fish he expected to catch. We thought that this guy had to be German...

Back then to the ranch for a lazy afternoon and evening.

Indian feast as Di cooks up a Chicken Tikka Missala dinner.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fri 16 Nov - Kalkite NSW

Today, we had different activities planned. Hans wanted to do the tough Summit loop track, too much for Di, and Di volunteered to drive her Uncle Holger, to Bega for a special Xray and Ultrasound for a problem shoulder.

As we were doing different things during the day, hence partly parallel blogs.


We headed off at 8.15am for an 10.45m appointment in Bega.

The drive to Bega and back is via Cooma and over Brown Mountain. 330km return trip. No photos (Di was driving) but if you can imagine the last 50km stretch to Bega is a slow climb up the Great Dividing Range then a windy pass down the escarpment to the coast (from about 1200m to sea level). The section of the road is a bit tough to drive - lots of bends at 35km/h - but beautiful rainforest and scenery.

Anke accompanied us in the car so it was quite the family talk fest for the nearly 5 hours of total driving. Perhaps a good thing Hans was not there!

All seemed to go well in Bega so we headed for Lunch at a nice Turkish Doner Kebab in Cooma, 100km+ back, then some grocery shopping and home by 3pm.

A quiet few hours until Hans' return, with Di cooking dinner and prepping for an indian feast tomorrow night.

Now his story...


I was up early to get ready for my Mount Kosciuszko walk. The idea was to take the car to Charlotte Pass, then do the loop anti clockwise, I.e. Main Range Track to the Mount K and the Summit Walk back. The whole loop clocks in at some 20km, if you don't divert. I hiked 26 km with my sidetrips according to Runkeeper.

At 8.45am, I parked the campervan at Charlotte Pass and began my journey. This is a hike I have only done once before, and that was some 20+ years ago. I remember that I really enjoyed it at the time.

While the Summit Walk is along a relatively straight maintenance trail and covers the last 7-8 km, the Main Range Track is tough.

Just downhill from Charlotte Pass at the very start, you need to cross Snowy River. The river is full after a good winter with lots of snow, so there is no choice but to take off the boots and wade across. Holger had lent me a pair of fishing shoes, which he uses to stand in the water while fishing. So that helped, although the grip was still not superb.

Then there is still much snow on the ground, including on the track in many, many places. In one spot, the angle was 45 degrees or so, and after looking down, down, down for how long one would slide if one lost the grip, I decided to walk around it (at the bottom).
Of course, it wouldn't be Snowy Mountains if it wasn't a lot and long of up and a lot and long of down.
And, I should add, you are extremely exposed up there in the alpine country. Alpine weather, as we all know, is notorious to change at very short notice. However, today started off as a mostly sunny day and then changed to mostly cloudy. At one time, it seemed like rain was on its way as it turned very dark for a while, but that changed too.

Fantastic views though... This is from " the saddle" looking into Victoria.

Blue lake...
I didn't see or meet one single person on the trail until I came to the "highway" between Rawson Pass and Mount Kosciuszko. Then suddenly, there was a succession of people going up or coming down the summit.
BTW, even there, they had to negotiate snow on the path...

The Mount Kosciuszko summit, and the hike up to it, are both disappointments. The hike up circles around the hill like a spiral and the summit is "littered" with rocks. In fact, you can stand just below Mount Kosciuszko and still not get that you are next to Australia's highest mountain (at 2228m).
Anyway, here are some pics... Yes, it was cold!

As discussed earlier, from Rawson Pass back to Charlotte Pass is along a maintenance trail and is relatively dull given the fantastic scenery along the Main Range Track. There is a hut along the trail, called Seamans Hut.
This was easily the toughest walk on this trip, and I was quite tired when I got back home around 4.45pm. Of course, there is also an hour's drive to Charlotte Pass from Kalkite and obviously an hour to get back as well.
Anke and Holger had bowling on tonight, so we had the place to ourselves for a while.

Di suggested a hot bath for the sore muscles (the sore overall old body) and that did wonders. This was then followed up with Penne Al Salmone (as Salmon Pasta is called at our local Italian in Manly). Cooked to perfection.

After all that, Hans is now a tired old man... In bed by 8.30pm. Di is also pooped and follows suit... Good night.