31st May, 2008 A had a bit on my mind... so I loaded some Pink Floyd on my portable MP3 player and hit the mountains for what was to become; an amazing journey.
4th May, 2008 Carry a mountain bike up a 200m cliff, scale up some waterfalls, get yourself mangled in harsh scrub land and finally, ride down the mountain as fast you can without getting killed... sound like fun?
20th April, 2008 Daniel completed his "rite of passage" by completing the infamous Waterfall climb. The weather was cold and rainy and the climb was tough. This is an endurance course that a few of us have been through, it involves a nasty cliff climb, some waterfall climbing, and bush bashing in thick scrub - all whilst carrying a mountain bike. The end of the challenge involves a high speed downhill run, which is a fitting reward for all the hard work. The course takes about 2 - 3 hours to complete, and it challenges you on many levels.
16th February, 2008 This 170 acre wildlife sanctuary is home to around 180 species of indigenous mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds, not to mention fascinating insects and spiders. Check out the website here: http://www.walkaboutpark.com.au/ PS special thanks to Ranger Emma. She has a wealth of knowledge about animals and the land, and she was only too happy to share that knowledge. Thanks Em.
6th February, 2008 This was an unexpected survival situation, we climbed out of the bush exhausted and beaten at 3am after 13 hours of climbing and walking. Read on... We took on the Highway Ridge Trail, which (supposedly) goes from Broken Bay Recreation Centre to Rocky Ponds. Well... it ends up that this track is very dangerous, as it has not been maintained, and for most parts it just ends in unexpected places. This is particularity concerning because the track is advertised on NPWS brochures and other places. My advice to you is this; don't go there! Things seem to be going fine until approximately one hour before dusk, we came to a dead end just opposite Dangar Island, which effectively left us trapped in the middle of the bush. Not long after that it started raining, and became dark, windy and cold. We all knew that turning back the way we came was far too dangerous, because of the rough terrain we had crossed to get here during daylight. So we decided to push on through to Rocky Ponds and then to Woy Woy tip, and try (in vain) to get onto the Highway Ridge Trail. We had to fight our way through sharp thick scrub, and avoid plummeting over the treacherous sandstone ridges. We had head lamps, compasses, a GPS device and had studied maps of the area before taking this track on, but the tracks had simply disappeared due to lack of maintenance and so all we had to guide us was a basic knowledge of the direction we had to go (North). Battling through the scrub slowed our progress down to a crawl, but there was nothing we could do about that except grin and bare it. We struggled through the pain of getting cut and grazed on sharp scrub, and endured the bitter cold for many hours. I took leadership of the party, navigating by way of compass, map, and GPS. Being the guy at the front, it was my duty to make a trail for us to get through, so I gave Daniel a crash course in navigation so he could relieve me during the more extreme parts of the trail making. Making a trail through the scrub was quite painful, it felt like I was pushing through barb wire. The journey was also frustrating because according to the maps and GPS; we were supposed to be right on top of the track, but it was nowhere to be found. So we continued on, relying solely on our compasses and the limited vision of the head lamps. Then at around midnight, I heard the sound of a flowing creek, and I recommended that we use this is as a means to cover ground a little quicker than we we had been, which had been at the rate of 3 metres per minute, thanks to the painfully harsh scrub and dangerous ridges. We climbed down into the creek and scaled our way down the mountain through the rocky waterfalls and cold water. All of us were completely saturated from head to toe, the rain had been bucketing down on us for hours, and even when it stopped the trees would shower us with huge amounts of water as we brushed up against them. We eventually climbed down to a place in the creek where there was just enough room for the five of us to sit down and rest. We were utterly exhausted, cold, and in pain. But thankfully our moral was high, due to the fact that we kept a sense of humour and worked well as a team. We were quite cool headed given the situation we were in, which (I believe) was one of the most important factors for our survival. Not once did we panic or make rash decisions - a potentially deadly thing to do. Being in a survival situation is a mental game. It doesn't matter how fit or physically tough you are, if you can't keep a level head you're likely to wind up in deeper trouble. Me and a couple of others guys in the team had been in similar situations before, so we knew the mental and emotional aspects to look out for. The biggest thing is; don't be impulsive... stop, think, plan and then move on. Racing off towards something that looks like a track is dangerous, because quite often it's just a water or animal trail, or worse; the mind playing tricks on you, convincing you that the little clearing ahead is a trail, when in fact it's not. After our brief rest we mentally prepared for the dreadful journey ahead, and made our move. But after only 20 metres, I spotted a side track on the side of the creek, and quickly explored it before yelling out to the others "we've got a track!!". I can't tell you how relieved and joyous this moment was, we were all literally yelling for joy. We carefully followed this track, and ran into numerous dead ends (not surprisingly). At these dead ends we would pan out and explore a radius of 20-30 metres in all directions looking for the rest of the track, whilst being careful not to be decoyed by water trails and animal trails. Upon finding the rest of the track we would mark the coordinates of our current position (incase we had to double back) and then move on. These tactics proved successful, and we eventually reached some large waterfalls which we suspected to be Tank Creek. At this point the track was incredibly hard to find because everything was rock and there was water was rushing everywhere. Then somebody spotted an arrow that had been painted on a rock, which indicated that were were on a proper track! We followed these faint arrows as they were consistent with our map readings and compass directions, and eventually the track widened to become a 4WD track... we were going to be okay! It was now 2am and our spirits were high because we had made it out of the thick scrub, but one our team started to show signs of serious exhaustion (we had been walking and climbing for 13 hours straight). And not long later, he came close to collapse, at which point we laid him down, covered him with a thermal blanket, and huddled around to keep him warm. Thankfully his condition improved rapidly, and although I was only moments way from using my EPERB to call a rescue helicopter, his improved condition convinced him (and us) to walk the remaining 2 kilometres to Woy Woy tip, and to safety. We stayed very close to him for the rest of the trip, keeping him warm and providing moral support. I called for a taxi just before we reached Woy Woy tip, and it arrived quickly to take us home so we could all get hot showers and warm clothes. We had survived. UPDATE: I spoke to the National Parks and Wildlife Service the following day and and I recommended to them the immediate closure of the track and it's removal from their brochure. They informed me that they no longer maintain the track (no surpirse there), but as far as removing it from the brochure... we'll have to wait and see... so for now, I recommend that everybody stays right away from it. Click here to view the photos Click here to view a Google Map of our trip
2nd February, 2008 Daniel, Owen and I decided to check out the headland south of Patonga. We started at Patonga Caravan Park, and we crossed the estuary and headed up the mountain. What we found was quite interesting... an old military style obstacle course, and a modern obstacle course, all nestled in what looked like a luxury resort for athletes. Along the way we also met some locals, which included a giant Goanna.
31st January, 2008 Three walks in one day! Owen, Susie, Adrian, Daniel and myself explored some of the hidden wonders of Pearl Beach and surrounds. The clouds looked like they were ready to pour down with rain for most of the day, but they held out. At dusk we were treated with a brilliant lightning show as we had a swim at Pearl Beach.... a perfect ending to a wonderful day.
26th January, 2008 Matty B, Mick and I decided to spend Australia Day searching for Aboriginal Engravings. The original inhabitants of this vast mysterious continent must of been incredibly tough to survive amongst the harsh terrain... try walking bare foot for a while and you'll soon get the idea. These engravings are likely to be 200 - 300 years old, and were possibly carved by either the Darkinjung, Darug or Guringai people. I am not 100% sure about those facts, please contact me if you can clarify. I won't reveal the exact location of these engravings publicly, lest to say that they are amongst the many that exist in Brisbane Water National Park, which has abundant reminders of recent Aboriginal history. I chose Australia Day as the day to this particular walk, for a couple of reasons. I needed to be away from drunken revellers so I could quietly respect the original inhabitants of this land, and so I could challenge myself and (honestly) ask if i'm personally contributing towards making Australia a nation to be proud of...
20th January, 2008 Our mission: to walk/climb from Lobster Beach to Box head via the rocks. Had anyone ever done it before? We couldn't know for sure, but we wanted to know if it could be done! This is undoubtedly the toughest mission we've ever taken on. We had to climb cliffs, swim in the ocean fully clothed, carve our way through thick scrub, avoid the spiders and snakes and sharks and octopuses, and keep from dehydrating in the incredibly hot conditions. All this took about 8 hours, and pretty much wrecked us all. We finished the day off by body surfing at Tallow's Beach in 2-3ft swell, and we had McDonalds as a late dinner :) NOTE: I came less than 30cm away from treading on an Eastern Brown Snake, the second deadliest snake in the world... and even though I have a snake-bite kit in my backpack, I still got a nice scare.
12th January, 2008 We headed to Windsor, then drove up the Upper Colo Road for approx. 5km, and then jumped into the river and floated back down. On our way into the river we were met by some angry bulls, which gave us a bit of a scare. The river was quite shallow compared to our last visit, and the water was incredibly warm, but everyone had a great time, especially the kids.
31st December, 2007 Shane, Heidi and myself walked to the Secret Cave overlooking Broken Bay. We set off just before midnight, wearing head lamps. We brought with us a gas stove, garlic prawns, coffee, biscuits and lollies - and celebrated New Years Eve in style (with the spiders).
29th December, 2007 Daniel and I decided to walk to the Secret Cave and then further to look for old trails left by rock climbers. Unfortunately, there were no such trails (that we could find), so we spent hours in the blistering hit sun crawling through terribly harsh scrub. It was a mental and physical challenge unlike any I have experienced.... a tough day indeed.
28th December, 2007 Linus, Margaret, Heidi and myself took a casual stroll through Girrakool Loop, arguably one the most gorgeous places in Brisbane Water National Park. The walk took roughly 3 hours, and the weather was quite hot.
5th January, 2008 Matty B, Daniel and myself took on this short walk through the magnificent Bouddi National Park. Afterwards we went for a body-surf in the large swell.
15th & 16th December, 2007 A few of us went on a reconnaissance mission to to Colo River, in Wollemi National Park. We'd heard that there were some excellent trails to explore, as well as the pristine river. So we camped overnight and explored the river, walking a few kilometres up it, and then swimming with the current back down. We did the entire hike in shorts and bare feet - awesome!
17th November, 2007 Local residents Graham and Ros Reibelt gave us a guided tour of this wonderful track through the blue mountains. The walk took roughly 4 hours and was full of variety, including luscious waterfalls, sweeping mountain top views, near-vertical stairs on the edge of cliffs (yikes!) and a walk along the historical Wentworth Falls.
27th October, 2007 The forest was rather beautiful after the recent rains, however, the rain also brought a plague of leeches. We only became aware of this when we were deep in the valley, and there was no way out but straight through... which caused a frantic run through the bush. It was quite hilarious, but a little unnerving. When we got out of the valley I stripped off my clothes to get all the leeches off me, and they left me quite bloody (see the last photo). I'll give this walk a miss next time.
20th October, 2007 This was a pretty tough walk because we kept a fast pace, and some of the hills were a bit steep. The country side was similar to Brisbane Water National Park, apart from the Pine Forests, which were epic, like those you'd see in the Swiss or Canadian forests - tall pines with no undergrowth (apparently the Pine needles kill the undergrowth). By the way... the GPS (and my compass and map) saved us many times! The track was not maintained, and was literally grown over in many areas. We were lucky to get through it without getting lost.
29th September, 2007 We climbed the magnificent Mount Wondabyne, which is a lot easier than it looks. The mountain is aprrox. 250 metres above sea level, and affords a nice view of the Central Coast, you can see as far as the Blue Mountains on a clear day. Today we were searching for Kariong Brook Falls - but since I forgot the map (duh!) we missed out.
13th October, 2007 This walk is suitable for anyone of average fitness, and is one of the prettiest walks in Brisbane Water National Park. Our largest group ever did this walk, and it took us approx. 4 hours. It took a little longer than usual because we decided to take a detour to see Kariong Scout Camp and Skepper's Falls. Everyone had a great time, and I think we'll back to do this walk again.
15th September, 2007 We caught the train to Wondabyne station, where we ascended a long and steep mountain, then shortly after we veered left off the Great North Walk and headed to Pindar Cave long an old overgrown track. The walk took 5 hours to complete, and along the way we were surprised to see lots of other bush walkers and tourists. Our team consisted of; Matt (me), Owen, Chris, Alison, Heidi, Jamie, Madison, and Simone. Everyone had a great time.
1st September, 2007 This is a gorgeous walk through Bouddi National Park. Along the way we visited the old SS Maitland shipwreck which is still visible on the rocks of Maitland Bay. We took time to admire the stunning ocean views from the cliff top lookouts as we walked along this magnificent trail. We started at the Information centre at Bouddi National Park, walked to to Maitland Bay and we climbed the headland, and we then crossed back across the beach, picked up the trail again, and walked all the way to Putty Beach. We then ascended a steep mountain and walked back to the Information centre. It's an amazing part of the world at Bouddi National Park.
27th August, 2007 Alison, Chris, Owen and myself - started at Somersby, and rode down to Mooney Mooney Creek, joined up with Piles Creek and followed that to Girrakool. We rode, walked and climbed through some spectacular rainforest, water rapids, scattered boulders, and over the Piles Creek sway bridge. It was muddy, slippery, and loads of fun! We had to ride longer than originally planned because we couldn't get a car down to the planned pick up point, due to road blocks on the old Pacific Highway. Which made the last hour or two of the ride incredibly tough!
4th Februaury, 2007 Janno, Ludka, Chris, Matty B, Chantelle and me did this walk in sweltering heat. We saw a Black Snake, a couple of Eastern Water Dragons and a giant Goanna. We started at Somersby Falls, walked through Mooney Creek, under the Mooney Mooney bridge, and past the Old Pacific Highway, then joined up with Piles Creek and exited at Girrakool.
26th August, 2007 What a great day! Madison, Owen and myself (Matt) walked the Piles Creek Loop and soaked up the breathtaking scenery, made even more prettier by the recent rains. The waterfalls were flowing nicely after the recent rains, and the sub-tropical rainforest was green and lush. This is the prettiest i've ever seen it. Photos can't do it justice - after being there to experience the rainforest aromas, the gentle sound of flowing water, and that comforting feeling that the bush always provides.
18th August, 2007 Our first official Saturday bushwalk was a fantastic day. We explored the Pearl Beach Waterfalls, headed to the Tony Doyle Lookout, and then found our way to the secret cave. The cave is just off an old abseiler's trail, it's very difficult to find and isn't marked on the maps. So if you want to see it, you'll have to join us on a bushwalk :)
12th August, 2007 We took on one of the most (in)famous bike trails in the world, and surprisingly we all came out alive! The 32km course took us 4 hours to complete... riding down hills, walking our bikes up the hills, and pausing often to admire the breath-taking views. The sense of adventure was profound and everybody had a fantastic time. What a great day!!!
5th August, 2007 A 4 hour ride through the spectacular Bouddi National Park. There was a lot of climbing and carrying of the bikes which made the tour quite difficult (but we love it) and there were numerous heart stopping down hill sections and surprisingly, only one crash. The variety of mountain and ocean scenery is breath taking, we'll be doing this track again.
22nd July, 2007 This ride begins with a long and exciting downhill slalom along Mooney Mooney Creek, it's quite a rough ride because of all the water damage from recent rains, but that just makes it more fun for us! The rest of the ride is fairly smooth until you get to Piles Creek, and then you're in for a world of pain carrying the bikes through steep canyons. This is one of the more beautiful rides we've done, the bush here is mostly sub-tropical, and it was very nice due to the rainy season.
15th July, 2007 This was a physically exhausting expedition. We had to carry the bikes for most of the day through mountains, creeks, and thick bush. However it finished off with an adrenaline pumping 2.5km downhill slalom, so it was worth the effort! And we had a great day, once again.
8th July, 2007 What started as a straight forward expedition; mountain biking from Girrakool to Wondabyne Station, turned into a gruelling and punishing mountain climb through unforgiving thick scrub and treacherous cliffs. All whilst carrying our mountain bikes on our backs, but luckily we heard gunshots, and we followed the sounds of the guns to safety - how ironic.
1st July, 2007 We set up a circuit consisting of a few strength exercises, and powered through it. Check out the video for more action.
27th June, 2007 Good old Shane came down from Newcastle to have a go at the Pearl Beach Waterfalls expedition. Needless to say; he loved it! Afterwards we visited Chinatown for some traditional Asian food.
20th June, 2007 Matty B and I ran into a bloke whilst checking out the waves at Umina, we didn't know him from a bar of soap but we still invited him along on our expedition - and so he joined us. His name is Owen, and we thoroughly enjoyed the company of our new recruit. Welcome aboard Owen!
16th June, 2007 This was an incredibly tough expedition, period. We started at sea level, ascending up the mountain through heavy rain, dense scrub, unforgiving vines, and treacherous water rapids. It took us nearly 5 hours, and it worked us hard all the way. But time flew by, because we were having so much fun! We spotted heaps of Yabbies and the occasional Leech. Everything is so beautiful out there... great for the soul.
6th May, 2007 Pop quiz... You tumble over the handlebars on your bike whilst descending a rocky cliff, and you; a) get severely grazed? b) get severely bruised? c) get your shirt and face mangled? d) all of the above?
17th May, 2007 This one of the most beautiful walks in Brisbane Water National Park. It takes about 2-3 hours, and starts at the car park at the end of Quarry Rd, which is about 100 metres south of Old Sydney Town along the Pacific Highway. The sway bridge at the halfway point along the walk is awesome!
11th June, 2007 This was a difficult climb through water rapids and waterfalls, followed by some mountain climbing and bush bashing through thick scrub and bull grass that reaches up to your chest. This one was a challenge, and I got lost as well. I made two critical errors, I forgot my GPS and I wore shorts - not good! Luckily I had a compass, which helped. I've got plenty of cuts and grazes as my reward for going off-track, but would I do it again? ...hell yeah!
9th June, 2007 Me and Chris (foolishly) hit the bush during the storm disaster, and we witnessed the landscape come alive with the ferocious and deadly force of rapid water, which was ripping apart the bush. We got close to the action at Umina and Somersby.
10th June, 2007 Me and Matty B took on the Great North walk the day after the June 9 storms - which was subsequently declared a natural disaster. Check out the photo of the Wallaby skeleton, and note the awesome sunset over Brisbane Water National Park, as well as the huge swells pounding the coast at Pearl Beach. What a great day!
2nd June, 2007 Chris got his official initiation on "The Mountain"! Any more volunteers? This mountain and waterfall is just behind Pearl Estate at Mt Ettalong. It's not easy to find, and it's difficult to get to, but worth the effort.
15th May, 2007 One hell of a great day - climbing up waterfalls and mountains, riding down impossible bush tracks, screaming down incredibly fast downhill slaloms, followed by the beauty of Pearl Beach and Umina Point. The perfect day!
12th May, 2007 I scouted a few tracks around my house in Brisbane Water National Park - to the tunes of Pink Floyd - what a day. The recent rains had created gorgeous waterfalls and creeks. Going alone in this kind of bush always renews my vitality and helps me to get grounded.
14th April, 2007 Me, Matty B, his cousins Carl and .... explored the area in Brisbane Water National Park near the Lyre Trig Station off Bambara Rd, which runs off Woy Woy Rd about 1km away from Kariong. We saw the infamous Egyptoid hieroglyphic carvings, which is a world famous site - and an obvious hoax - I discussed it with the park ranger who found the man chipping away at the rock with a Stanley chisel. The ranger confiscated his chisel, but the legend still lives on. Also included are photos of my solo trip on the pushbike from Kariong to Tascott.
11th March, 2007 I started at Wagstaff, and walked over the mountain to Lobster Beach. The goal was to reach Box Head by walking (bouldering) along the rocks - but I was stopped halfway by a nasty cliff and I had to turn back around or climb up higher into the bush, so I returned back along the rocks - the same way I came. I wasn't keen on climbing into the bush, I didn't bring long pants and the whole idea of the mission was to make it from Lobster Beach to Box Head, via the rocks. Ah well.
4th March, 2007 Allison and I caught a train to Wondabyne Station from Woy Woy, and then took on a very gruelling walk through very treacherous tracks, we were lucky to have a GPS device!
25th February, 2007 This solo expedition started at McMasters Beach, and I walked through Bouddi National Park all the way to Maitland Bay. I then walked all the way back to the McMasters Beach via Empire Bay Drive - that was a tough walk! I needed to clear my head that day, and it certainly did the job.
20th February, 2007 This is my afternoon 'unwind' spot in the summer. It's hard not to come away inspired by such a place. It's a multi-million dollar view and it's ours for free! And it's only a 15 minute walk from Pearl Beach car park.
11th February, 2007 A short walk from Patonga Beach to Pearl Beach via the Warrah Trig trail. Made interesting by the fact Matty B left his keys behind at Patonga - so I volunteered to walk back for them (what was I thinking???)