I've just added the last couple of months to the Time Lapse on the front page at . Shame about the Tamarillos
Codeword Janus by Evelyn Anthony
Just finished Codename Janus. It's a fairly predictable story about Max who is chasing the heir of Adolf Hitler.
The story is fairly shallow in some respects, with none of the lead characters overly realistic. But the tension is very well done and complimented by a not too fast-paced story.
The author has included some amusing quips at modern life that made us smile:
1. The two Catholic, homosexual contract killers who bemoan the recent changes to the Catholic Church.
2. The Spock reading mother who divorces her husband because her kids want it, yet didn't understand the kids reactions when they got what they'd asked for but didn't want.
Is it worth a read? Sure: perfect for a rainy weekend. Rating? out of 5.
The funny things you find yourself doing on New Year's Eve...
Our friendly Video Hire person said that the first was definitely the best. We were somewhat dumbfounded after the first, thankful that the second movie filled in gaps that we were left to guess, and appreciated the developments in the last.
What we didn't realise was how serious they were, that is, they lacked humour. They have definitely dated since 1979!
I loved one of the comments on IMDb about Mad Max 1:
Gibson's performance isn't that good but then it doesn't have to be because the script is simple enough.
Simple is maybe an understatement? I don't think the first movie cleared up all the whys Australia were in the predicament that the movie portrayed. The second movie added some of the background. The last one had the biggest story and the most humour. Thought Thunderdome was an interesting concept, though the final confrontation with Blaster was odd (though I was thankful that Max didn't do anything horrid to him).
Don't think we'll be watching them again, but were glad to have filled in the gaps in our movie history.
BTW: New Year passed about halfway through the last movie without us noticing
Christmas can sometimes be a bit sneaky, but this year it seemed to sneak right up to Christmas Eve and then pounce on us poor unsuspecting workers. Oh well, you can't be completely organized every year. Can you?
I hope your Christmas was full of Grace and Peace.
This year we camped out in near by Lawson.
Christmas in Lawson Park
Someone asked with a little astonishment, "Do you always camp on Christmas Day?" and as I thought about it I realized that it has become a bit of a tradition for our family.
- In 2002 we had Christmas out the back of a car as we toured around Victoria
- In 2003 we actually camped leading up to Christmas, leaving Newnes on Christmas Eve
- In 2004... I can't remember what we did
- In 2005 we camped down on the Cox's River on Christmas Night
- In 2006 we were in NZ, so the whole holiday was camping
Having Sandi's family in New Zealand and my family spread far and wide has taken a lot of pressure off our Christmas Day and meant that we can indulge in a selfish family time. Our Christmas morning is generally relaxed enough; breakfast is when we have our family celebration. Then, throw some things together (don't need to be too organized for just one night), and head off. Being away in the bush (to a greater or lesser extent) is a wonderfully peaceful icing on our Christmas Cake, and one I've come to realize I'd like to make sure we do organize each year.
PennyTel continues to add features to their service...
Currently they've added a 28.8 cent call limit to many of their destinations, but most significantly Australian Mobiles!
Of course for this to make financial sense you'd need to be spending, on average, more than 28.8 cents per mobile call or just over 2 minutes in length.
After a bit of reformatting I've uploaded our CD 'The PNG Letters' to the site. You can find it here: The PNG Letters.
This CD was originally done back in 2002 after we'd back from our two years in Papua New Guinea from the letters we'd written.
After a great, if not slightly odd feeling sleep, we headed down to visit Mum and then the train home.
Getting off at our home station and walking down our well-walked streets was an extremely odd feeling. Didn't quite feel real after such a big adventure, seemed to remind us of something Bilbo Baggins may have said, but couldn't remember what?
So we finished our walk with our packs weighing:
Sandi's Pack: 8.6kg
Perry's Pack: 16kg
Which is very odd, because I had spent quite a bit of time surreptitiously repacking the heavy items from Sandi's pack into mine. Don't understand that at all
Sandi and I had also lost some weight over the 13 days as well:
Sandi's lost weight: 2kg
Perry's lost weight: 5kg
We both hobbled around a bit too. Me more than Sandi. It seems like things caught up with us once we stopped walking.
The knock I took on my knee developed into rather a large bruise that took away my ankle for many days and filled in my instep. It became really painful so that walking was difficult. It was amazing that on the walk it was not apparent at all, but once stopped, I was quite debilitated with it. Maybe shouldn't have stopped walking??
Sandi is also still quite firm that she is never going to do such a big walk again. I feel devastated, I thought we were just getting into the swing of it?
I'm now writing this many months after doing the walk and writing the journal entries, but two main impressions that have stayed with me are:
- It took some days to feel immersed in the bush, but once we were, I felt quite at home in a way I never have previously.
- After spending many days alone with my wife, with almost no one else to talk to for days on end, I felt as though I was falling in love with my wife all over again: except with greater depth and passion.
I'd love to recapture that again if I can ever talk Sandi into doing a walk again
We got dressed and packed up everything inside the tent. Unfortunately we couldn't put our boots on as they were down at the toilet, then took everything down to the toilet. Then we managed to separate the poles from the tent and keep the fly up, which enabled us to pack the tent away in the dry. The fly we just rolled up wet and strapped to the outside of the pack. We also dried all the bags as we put them into the packs: I think we got a good result, which would have been very difficult without the shelter of the toilet.
The only thing we forgot to do was to have breakfast in the dry under the fly - so we ate our muesli standing in the rain (the long drop was just a little too smelly to eat by). Then there was nothing more to do than to leave!
I had never bush walked in the rain before (not being from New Zealand), so I was quite excited by the prospect - to put our new rain jackets to the test, as well as my pack's rain cover.
Proper gaiters would be a good idea - the sock guards we're using are really only made for solid particles (dust, grass, etc).
Anyway, then the last day dawning with a steady patter of rain on the tent so we did this amazing thing packing up everything inside, getting dressed, taking everything out, then undoing the text from underneath the fly and packing it completely dry still and then P walking underneath the fly to shelter. Great design. Wasn't sure of the best orientation to use of tent on the landforms for water flow, but whatever, it worked, not a deluge in rain. It sure was easier not having to pack the packs inside the tent or the shelter them there, that would've been more problematic.
Breakfast was muesli just standing in the rain, no cup of tea seemed too difficult to kindle a now very cold fire, in the rain.
We marched off up the road hand-in-hand, me feeling quite jubilant and excited about the rain. I'm not sure Sandi was feeling the same.
In the tent we wondered about and thanked God for the treats of the day. We had our first just up the road. A flock of lyre birds up a tree (what's the group term for lyre birds? Pack?): all making that high pitched whistle, then they 'flew' off - the first couple of wing beats looked good, then gravity took over. It was very chook-like. Then sort of flew-walked up trees to give them a platform, then took off.
We made good pace along the road and reached the first lookout quite quickly. There seemed to be a school group there having camped the night, in the middle of breakfast. The bacon and eggs smell felt a little 'unfair'. Great view over the Hunter Valley.
After the first lookout the track seemed to road-hop its way along the escarpment - the ups and downs every increasing in height and steepness. The creeks were clear and running and we wondered if that was the result of last night's rain?
We set off in rain coats and good spirits. First surprise of the day very early: small group of lyre birds up in the trees and then flying tails all spread! Wonderful, I had no idea they had any propensity for flight, be it all limited.
It happened too quickly to get a photo unfortunately.
Reached first lookout very quickly and a large group of secondary school students were there with camp kitchen etc. Felt very alien. Used toilet. Views great, misty and moisty. Rain already eased.
Not exactly sure who or what the group were, but their breakfast smells were very enticing. We therefore didn't torture ourselves too long and headed off again. The rain had basically stopped now.
Next lookout again not far and easy walking, great views, we pressed on for Heaton Lookout and plunged off fire trails/roads onto a bush track. Very straight forward initially but steep in parts. Then into an area of rock formation that was spectacular and much more rain forest that I was expecting, and even an orchid high in a tree with sprays of flowers. Thrilling.
We'd taken our jackets off in one of the breaks in rain, and walked in shirts regardless of the showers, it was too humid/warm for the jackets anyway. Some of the slopes ere unbelievably steep, and in the wet, felt a little tricky, so we went slowly. There were some slopes I ended up doing more than once, after sliding back down to the bottom again.
This part's rating of medium to hard was petty right: some of it was damn hard.
The track eventually worked its way into an amazing section that seemed to be cut out of the escarpment/cliff. Very thin little track, big drop, slippery rocks and mud, lots of fun. At one point I was negotiating a tricky little part and a vine slipped up my face and grabbed my nose and pulled my head around, almost over balancing me over the edge. What a rush of adrenalin!! I'm sure my pack is not over 20kg any more, but it sure can tip the balance.
Found a nice little spot for morning tea and a wee rest on some thickly lichened rocks. Couldn't get a GPS reading because we were halfway down a cliff.
Saw some flowering orchids up a tree.
Then we descended into leech heaven. Couldn't worry too much, but every 100 metres or so, we'd have to stop and scrape them off our boots and guards. All I could think was how grateful I was that they didn't climb trees!
Wandered along, quite precipitous at times. Stopped for morning tea and a good thing we did because we then entered into leech heaven and I felt quite pursued, stopping every 5 to 10 minutes to scrape the leeches off the boots. Thank goodness for good boots. I felt like I couldn't relax and was hurrying and I couldn't stop (very glad we'd had morning tea when we did). P had it worse than me in that my passage alerted them and then they all went for him. Hence an area of bush went almost unnoticed because of them.
I was so relieved to break out of there and scrape off the obvious. Another small creek down and up and we emerged at Heaton Lookout. Then a full boots off extra brought many to light, some attached through the socks and P treated them to salt without mercy.
When we finally got to Heaton Lookout - pretty exhausted - we did a full and thorough de-leech taking our boots and socks off. Thankfully each of us only had one that had got into the socks and our blood. Took absolute delight in dropping these horrid carnivorous slugs into their own little salt pit and see how they liked having their life's juices sucked out; or alternatively, tearing them end from end between my fingernails.
Failed with our firelighting today, so just had bread and vegemite and no hot tea (which we were looking forward to). We think the bread had fermented too: we'd bought a Vogel's because of the body and flavour and it stayed soft and moist all week, but now was extra yeasty!
Time to go and walk the last 4kms - putting my boots on discovered some leeches I'd missed! They are the most single minded little creatures: scrape them off your boot and if you don't move off straight away they'll climb straight back on!!
Made an attempt to light a fire for the much desired cup of tea, but the rubber much too light and wood very wet, matches hopeless!!! Tried a few times, but gave up, must get thicker rubber, very disappointing.
Dry for lunch at least. Vogel bread delicious but seemed very yeasty, think it was fermenting.
The view would have been awesome if we could have seen it, but as it was it was a complete white-out! Only one other car came in whilst we were there: we probably looked a sight!
Re-packed the packs again, put the boots on for the last time and headed off: excited to be finishing, sad that we're finishing
Pressed on, P at very fast pace on road, clay sticking to boots quite horrid; he sticked it off. I was concerned we were on the right road then reached the top and radio tower.
Very rapid descent but not a difficult one despite being very steep and warnings everywhere because it had handrails and steps at parts.
I was tense and lost the plot with P making a joke which spoilt that last descent which really was much better than I could've imagined.
I am thrilled by a last flowering orchid right next to the track on our final descent. Simply gorgeous and like a special last treat saved to the very end by an exceedingly gracious God. It was one of the strappy grass-like leafed orchids often in trees and with a flower spike just smothered in those oily looking greenish flowers. Sensational.
The last part of the walk we could feel civilisation wrapping itself around us as we descended. It wasn't nice. The road was very clear, and made me realise that we hadn't heard so much traffic noise in a long time! And then, all of a sudden, we were standing on the edge of the road trying not to get run over!
2:43pm Heaton Gap
Brisk walk up to Mt Heaton, then the descent to Heaton Gap. Very steep descent: glad about the handrails.
I made an unfortunate joke about doing the walk the other way around next time which upset Sandi.
Falling down the steps at the bottom and onto the road and the finish was odd, funny. Sat for a long time at the picnic shelters and SMS'd the boys. Took the boots off for the last time (checked for leeches)... and just sat.
Heaton Gap: a great place to stop with outside covered picnic shelters and then a surprisingly excellent tea for two, vitamin C drinks also consumed, a coffee and a boys and berries cone.
Gayle contacted and tea just finished as she arrived.
At Gayle and Paul's we washed all our clothes (which didn't seem to make too much difference to the clothes) had a lovely long hot shower, and really did feel clean. Added our last journal entry for the trip and drank lots of cups of tea.
We talked Gayle and Paul into going out to dinner at the local Thai restaurant. We had to borrow some clothes, as although they'd gone through the washer, they still smelt (unbelievable!). I only just passed muster, as Paul is quite a deal shorter than me.
Great night out, great treat! And just awesome to think we're going back to a bed with clean sheets (and we are not going to ruin them)!
Tomorrow we're off back home again: reality has an odd sensation at the moment.
The day has dawned very misty in the valley. Should have taken a photo yesterday!!
Not a bad night sleep: helps to be exhausted. It's cool this morning too (I'm wearing all my clothes).
We're having porridge and coffee this morning (oats soaked over night) as our tea and coffee supplies will run out very soon. It'll be a relaxed morning and wander to the next campsite, which is only a 3 hour walk.
It is Wednesday misty moisty morning. Awake early again. Dawn chorus gorgeous, always a new call not previously heard. Porridge really delicious. Coffee good too. Small brown ants a spot invasive.
Just wandered up to the other 'main' campsite to fill out the Track Register. It really is a beautiful spot: probably the most beautiful camping spot so far. We were trying to figure out what made it so, and felt that the oasis like feel with the grass and grass trees had a bit to do with it. The camping area surrounds the old Trig Station (only the base exists now), which sat on a softly rounded dome.
Amazing: 8am, we're still unpacked and a long way from starting to pack and we're still misted in!!
Last night and this morning we watched as a small flock of Channel Billed Cuckoos wreak havoc in the bush! They are amazing birds with such a distinctive call: very reminiscent of the Fell Beasts from The Lord of the Rings.
Question: How do baby Cuckoos learn their horrid habits if they are trained by other species?
11:13am Leave Camp
After lifting camp we wandered along to the old bullock drivers "house" that Brian explained to us.
Just lifted camp, for the second last time - with some sense of sadness at the shortness of the time left. I've left my shirt off for as long as possible, because I can't stand the stink. At least least when I'm walking I'm leaving it behind! We're just going down to the old shack for a photo. Brian says the old bullock team driver lived there when that's what they used to drag the timber out. The dam where we got our water last night was used to water the bullocks.
12:45pm Morning Tea
Morning tea was had beside the road, as we couldn't find anywhere more suitable; and our porridge had disappeared.
The walk had been totally along fire trail style of tracks but in very good condition. Still some long slow slopes that had me puffing and panting. The first part much harder than the last part, so that we were suddenly there.
2:26pm Forestry Campsite
The Camp Site is a large open space: not what we were expecting at all. As Brian had informed us the water tank that was mentioned on the map (and we were relying on) had been vandalized and was dry. Brian didn't know that the toilet had also been vandalized.
What a lovely morning and walk - didn't leave until after 11. And the walk was wonderful, a few hardish climbs in the first half, but all along a road/fire trail. Very glad once we got here, it was a fair effort, not sure about the speed.
We had walked at a good speed: 12kms in 3 and a bit hours = 3.7 km/h!
Very disappointing to find the toilet unusable due to vandalism. We went past some amazing rock formations en route and over a couple of those very tall stiles. Very few flowers. Not what I'd expected the Watagans to be.
There's a dry tank, some BBQs and a long drop toilet. I'd only just said to Sandi that if it started to rain, we could put our packs in the toilet when the first drops started to fall. At that point we were getting things ready for a fire.
So we raced everything down to the toilet, only to discover that someone had vandalized it and it was roped off!! What's wrong with people? I can sort of understand graffiti, but destruction? It's like all the beer bottles and drink cans we've passed on the road: so these people really hate Australia so much??
Anyway, we popped our stuff away and put on our rain jackets and started at the fire again. We always carry a little bit of rubber for situations like this (thanks to Graham Lowe) and a bit of rubber, pine cones and tiny twigs and it was away and a happy little blaze in the midst of the rain.
Another angel had left some longer, bigger pieces of wood. We were able to feed these in, end on, so the fire dried them before they had to ignite. Soon the fire way hot enough to dry the hot plate: the BBQ was a two side affair, one side with fixed bars, the other with a hot plate welded on two sides. We had the fire under the hot plate.
This raised another question: the rain drops were instantly turning to steam when they hit the plate: we wondered what sort of fire would be required to keep the plate dry in heavy rain?
So we cooked lunch: noodle soup with extra vegetables followed by coffee and a nut bar - just fantastic and really hit the spot.
We then went to look for some seats, and eventually found some old bricks that we brought back and used. So we sat in the rain in front of our fire, warm as toast, and talked about what we'd do on our next holiday. It felt wonderful.
After a couple of hours of rambling ideas, we decided it was time for dinner. A dehydrated pasta thing into which we threw extra dried veges. Very yum.
We also got the chance to dry our clothes over the fire during a break and finish setting up the tent.
The rain was so sudden and I was so thankful for that broken toilet giving shelter for our packs, quite amazing plus the half covered barbecue and the cones to light what turned out to be an excellent cheerful little fire. I can not say what a blessing that all was, to be able to warm ourselves, eat two hot meals and have a hot coffee plus when there was a break in the rain to dry off our wet shorts was nothing short of sensational.
We'd got the tent up so all was as ready as it could be. Also thinking of being able to have a very relaxed sort and pack at Barraba plus porridge with heaps of water to have tea etc and wash up bodies and dishes. All very nice.
As the day drew to a close it started quickly to cool off, so we decided to jump into bed to stay warm and dry.
Well, what a funny day. Here I am writing with the rain pittering on the tent (fly) - our last night in the bush. It's felt like it's been saying goodbye to me all day, as the tracks slowly became more obviously trafficked.
It was so interesting on top at Barraba - it felt like it's history was oozing out of the ground. Stories of wood cutters, salt miners, graziers - their lives and blood - so interesting. Already the roads of previous labours have just about disappeared and returned to bush. Our impact can be so fleeting.
I'm not expecting tomorrow to be too difficult, as it should be just a wander down to Heaton Gap.