Sunday, 24 June 2018

Launch day for Ken July 24th 2018

Today was a big day for Ken the kayak.
After all this planning and waiting he hit the water at last - and he did it in style.

The weather man said it would only get to 13 degrees, so we rugged up and headed out anyway. We had a thermos and packed lunch just in case we found somewhere nice to stop midway through the paddle.

The Psyche pump area had a great canoe launcher to use, so Ken's first taste of the water was gentle and controlled and his owners were pretty happy to stay dry too.

The sun came out as we cruised along, and the swans and ducks might have been panicking about the paddlers coming along, but we still got a good look at the pelicans, hawks and a number of other birds in the area. At times it was very noisy with honking, quacking and carrying on - quite a circus.  At others we drifted quietly.   Swans can run on the water a very long way before they take off or give up. 


swan- didn't want to know us

well fed hawks

saw a few of these well dressed ducks - going out to dinner? 

not a sculpture

What a moment... so many birds taking flight 

so many eggs

one lone bird amongst so many others

yes - these are nests- all packed in together.

to give alterations in water levels and allow the billabong to stay healthy

the pumping station- hard at work irrigating the fruit blocks of Mildura.

The clouds made way for sunshine, and the temperature climbed a little higher than expected as we ducked under the water regulator and paddled out into the Kings Billabong.

It took a few tries before we found a spot (near the bird hide)  to pull the kayak up on to the bank and have our lunch.  The weed made it difficult to get in and out, but we avoided the smelly mud (except for Trev's hat, which fell off) and headed back across the Billabong, enjoying the sunshine, the paddling, each others company and the sights and sounds.

Ken seems to glide beautifully and to be very well balanced.  If his behaviour today is anything to go by, we will have a very long and happy relationship with him.  We are already thinking about where the next launch might be as we drive around the Mildura area with Ken safely tied up on top.

We are waiting until tomorrow to see how the body feels.  We will plan the next paddling accordingly.

Planning Day July 23rd

After sleeping in (we are on holidays) we spent a good portion of the day driving river tracks and checking out potential launch sites for the kayak.

The first stop (recommended by the check in lady at our accommodation) was the local marina cafe (who hire out kayaks).  No luck there, but we did get some lovely views of some very classy houseboats and an early lunch.

Then on to the river tracks upstream of the marina. 
We identified about 5 different potential spots to put the kayak in the water , but the best by far was the amazing canoe launch site by the psyche bend pumping station, (rollers on a ramp down to the water) which couldn't really make it any easier.
The roads are dry at the moment (despite the fact it is mid-winter) , so getting to the site is not a problem either .

It is a little hard to tell what is a walking track and what is a driving track.... this did mean that there was a little reversing out of tight areas required.  Glad it isn't wet - there are some VERY DEEP holes in some of those roads from when it was muddy.

We saved the locations of the possible launch sites on the car garmin and headed home via the information centre and the shops.

We picked up a copy of the "Murray River Access" for the area (good river maps) at the info centre, along with some details about Mungo National Park.  Will probably head out there some time this week as well.

Mildura here we come -June 22nd 2018

Having purchased Ken the Kayak he needed a launch. Happily his arrival in our family coincided with a planned trip to Mildura, so we took him with us.

We needed to figure out how to get him on to the roof of the Prado, and this meant removing the second spare tyre, so we are hoping not to have bad tyre experiences this trip.

We had a later departure than planned (what's new?) due to the changes to the configuration on the roof, but still managed to be in Tailem Bend in time to catch the pasties at the bakery there and to find the sheep in the local park. I love that the "animal" population keeps on increasing in the main street of Tailem Bend and I love that the local kids get a look in on the fun and that they share it with all the passers by.

We took a road less travelled to take us up to the Riverland via Loxton (via Karoonda) . We have a couple of friends there who were long overdue for a visit and catch up.  Thanks for the afternoon tea, stimulating conversation and lovely views over your place Sandi and Brett.

Leaving on sunset meant that we were treated to tantalising views of the stunning bright sunset over still water as we headed on to Mildura. No safe pull over spot was offering, so we made do with a shot in the rear vision mirror , and saving the memory for later.

We arrived safely in Mildura well after dark, but with no scary happenings on the way involving wildlife. This made us very happy.  We used the "late check in" facility to grab -out room key from the locked box and found our home for the next week just sitting and waiting for us.  We have a spa!!
Dropped into bed after our day of travelling.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

On the way home from the Gum Creek Rogaine 28/5/18

We travelled north to rogaine on Almerta Station and the neighbouring properties last weekend and took longer to come home that expected due to being attacked by the  "Bummeling bug". Due to finding so many interesting places on our bummel that we need to tell you about, I decided to make a separate blog entry for the trip home.

Thanks to the Mirriam Webster dictionary definition found on-line

We left the station and drove out through Carrieton but only a short way down the road
It  wasn't long before we dropped in to Eurelia (just south of Carrieton) to look at the old railway station and institute. In a location which is virtually a ghost town it seemed amazing to have a large institute hall and a huge goods shed.  I guess the location was the centre for the surrounding area once, so they needed them back then. The goods shed doesn't look as good as in this old photo I found on line.  Apparently the refreshment room was in one end of the goods shed and everything else in the other end (including stock).  The name at the railway station is still crisp and readable.

We stopped for roo pies at a cafe at Orrorroo  to fill our grumbling tummies before we took a road less travelled to Pekina.

At Pekina we stopped again to read the information boards.
We read about the old town at its peak including info about the convent, dairy  and school run by the Mary McKillop sisters and the other Irish Catholics who settled the area.  Apparently at one stage the sisters even ran the hotel! We were fascinated by the historic stone animal pound, built by a couple of industrious brothers , where straying animals were confined until a fee was paid.  Apparently the pound keeper was sometimes a bit too enthusiastic with his animal capturing, meaning that relationships got a bit strained in the community.  Must have been built well though.

The pound

Very well presented ribs.  I was impressed.
Next stop was Appila Springs.
We spotted it on the map and decided to drop in and see what there was here to see.
We ended up finding a cache, but also a truly delightful camping area, with spring fed water hole and lovely towering cliffs.

This will definitely be a return spot for us on our way up and back from the Flinders and this part of the world.

Can you pick the spring bubbling up from the ground?

After a very pleasant stop we meandered our way via the back roads to the Western side of the Bundaleer forest, and then through the forest.  Finally we found our way to the main road through Spalding and Clare, but not before we had a chance to explore the forest a little.

When we go back we need to try out the Conservator's walk and the Maple walk - both of which sounded interesting, but not for this trip. 

We did go exploring enough to find the sculptures (including the amazing music sculpture) near the picnic area before getting back on the road.

Playing music

Playing in the forest
 It was well past time we were getting home. So we hot-footed it to Gawler, where we stopped for a bite to eat at The Exchange Hotel (Murray's Bar) where they do great smoky flavours. Then home through a major rain storm to our own beds.

Gum Country Rogaine at Almerta Station 25/5/18 to 28/5/18

We had a trip up north last weekend to attend the latest Rogaine run by SA Rogaine association.
It was based at Almerta Station (just north of Carrieton) in the lower Flinders Ranges area and we had a really great time.

We travelled up to the Rogaine site on Friday (about 4 hours) and passed the largest group of Emus we have ever seen just out of Peterborough.  We estimated over 400 emus were out in just a few paddocks, grazing like sheep (possibly on freshly laid seed which the farmers intend to grow into a crop).

Almerta is an interesting spot.  It is very dry there, and they keep solvent by running stock on the station, managing a shearing team who travel to lots of other stations to shear, and offering an experience for tourists.
They are doing some great things with tourism.  They have an excellent block of accommodation available and also some lovely private camp spots along their beautiful gum lined rivers. If you are looking for a comfy bush loo with a view, bush camping with a shower nearby and to get away from the hustle and bustle for a few days this might be just what you are looking for.  You can find more information about Almerta here.

We had some great friends rogaining with us.  Trevor competed in the 15 hour roving rogaine (he could use up to 15 hours of time between 12 midday on Saturday and 12 midday on Sunday).  He and Al used only about 9 and 1/2 hours up with their two loops to end up with 1350 points still smiling.

Erica, Zita and Magrit entered the 8 hour roving (between 2pm and 10am) and managed to be the best women's team in this, earning 800 points in almost 6 hours of activity. The event had us climbing hills, trekking along the lovely gum lined creeks and practising our compass skills on the 1:40000 map. If it wasn't for Margrit (control 87) and Zita (control 93) we could have taken much longer to find the controls we were looking for. If you are interested here are the results.

Zita with the elusive 93.  She knew we hadnt gone far enough earlier.

Margrit knew we were further down the track than we had aimed for and pointed out the control directly ahead. Champion for 87.
Unfortunately the long awaited rain arrived an hour before the end of the rogaine, creating some issues for the die-hard 15 hour runners who were trying to jam in those last couple of controls, and dampening the camping gear for some (including us).  Luckily Shane and Patrick (who own Almerta) were happy to have the mob descend on their shearing shed for presentations and for some to stay there to eat leftover food up, and sleep overnight and dry out in front of the lovely fire.

Sunday saw us collecting a few of the controls (including the one from the top of the Bluff) before we reluctantly headed for home.

We stopped at the old Post Office ruins on the way out to the main road.

The trip home will feature in the next blog.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

sweet and sour pork

RV daily magazine published this interesting Sweet and Sour Pork recipe.
I might try it next time we need something a bit different.

I don't usually take cornflour with me camping, but I guess I could make an exception if it is worthwhile. 

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Reedy Creek and Cantara May 12th and 13th 2018

A few Tintookies Orienteers managed to take the mothers day weekend by the horns and make their way to Reedy Creek in the South East (property owned by James Lloyd's parents) to check out a prospective map area.

We stopped at Meningie for an early lunch and appreciated the view.

The Reedy Creek area is inland about 20km from Kingston SE and we followed some very well placed orienteering signs to meet at the Reedy Creek Hall at 2pm on Saturday. This site of the old oval would have been a fine camping spot, but the Lloyds had an even better idea (on their property).

We followed them a few km further on to the property they had in mind for mapping - and parked in a paddock to go for our run. Jemima had planned a moderate course and James had planned a hard one.

The land is an undulating area with tricky shallow contours and some very thick vegetation areas. Because this was a trial map it has not been perfected, so we had some tricky times getting through some very prickly acacia which was mapped as runnable, and finding rock piles. 

Those present agreed that the area has some potential, but quite a lot more work would be needed on the map, and it is quite a long way from home. The only way to make it a possible prospect would be to offer another run in the general area on the same weekend as a double header. (Possibly Cantara?)

We were treated to wonderful country hospitality and invited to stay in a hut on the property which was complete with water, flushing toilet and donkey hot shower! (along with 6 beds).  In the end only 3 of us stayed on, as others had other beds to head for.  Thanks to the Lloyds (Junior and Senior).

After a very enjoyable shared meal, some games of cards for some, and sitting around in front of the lovely wood heater "rocket" , we settled in to a very cosy night of sleep.

 The hut
 Donkey hot water heater beside the bathroom shed.  Light the fire and let the water get hot.
track leading back from the hut

This morning we headed for Cantara to take another look at that tricky map.  John has run there many more times than we have, so kindly agreed to map walk with us.
We spent a pleasant hour or two walking on the tricky contours of Cantara and trying to get our head around the funny little dips and depressions and changes that have occurred in vegetation over the 20 or so years since the map was made. It would take a lot more practice to become confident in this type of area.

We also enjoyed spotting a healthy looking echidna,