Platypus Flat

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IMG_0926Nymboida River – Platypus Flat

Camping by the river

23 – 24/3/16

We camped here on a whim. Platypus Flat. On the Nymboida River. We made sightings in the long quiet pool on dusk. Like a stick it moved then disappeared below the surface.

White headed pidgeon. Dove. Yellow fronted robin pair.

The Nymboida is probably Australia’s premier white water river. Nearby there’s a white water centre offering rafting and kayaking trips with gorges and big rapids. Water levels are consistent.

Synchronicity. I had just finished reading “The Emerald Mile”. This is probably one of the best adventure landscape books I have ever read. It’s an absolute thriller about white water guiding on the Colarado River through the Grand Canyon. To connect that story with this Australian wild river landscape is very special. I listen to the shwoooshing water through the afternoon and the night – a constant backdrop. The water always moving. In the evening a big easter moonlight silvered the small waves and downriver wash. Trees by the camp were festooned with flood debris way higher than us.IMG_0469Red firetails dropped to the ground nearby then flitted off over breakfast.

On the journey out we explored rainforests of massive trees.IMG_0929 IMG_0928 IMG_0923

To be a millionaire by the sea

58

Point Plommer

Surfing

17 – 22/3/16

 

Sounds of the swell at night.

Starscape. The Emu in the Sky.

Moonrise through the Norfolk Island pines

Sunrise.

Cameraderie out in the take-off zone.

I surf with Kim. We’d brought numerous college groups together up the 10 hour drive from Canberra to learn to surf close by near Crescent Head for the time of their lives, warm water, good company, good surf, good times. Past. Now we are rich in time like millionaires in hours and days.

Catch a wave, ride it in, walk back out, hang out in the take-off zone.

I take off and play the green face of the first bigger section, slow cutback off the translucent wall then cruise up to the lip and back down, ride the nose and hold speed through the rebuild then crouch along the beach break and ride the power as it breaks in a rolling barrel behind and I accelerate right across the close out to dive over the back of the wave just short of the sand. 200m rides. Walk back out along the beach to the rocks. Jump in and paddle 20m. 3 in a row all better than the last. I’ve dreamed of this.

Ocean swim training. Cath and I do 30 minute sessions of laps with and against the current in front of the sandbar.

We cycle along the beach. And to the lotus flower lily billabong 2km south.

Run along the beach.

Drink more tea. Chat. Laugh. Read. Then surf again.

Paddle the waveski.

Like an exercise health body and soul retreat.

Asleep in bed by 8.30pm each night.

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We watch, contemplate, observe the everchanging scene and the ocean life from the viewing seat at the front of the pavilion. Pelicans. Surfers. Kids learning how to ride a board. People watching. Chatting with passers by. Seaguls and crested terns. Big groups of dolphins. Goannas. Echidna.

Point Plomer is a special one of the dozens of north facing points up the NSW coast. We camp with million dollar views and waves for everyone.IMG_0448

 

The best young teachers you could find anywhere

56, 57, 60

Training Outdoor Education Teachers

60 – Bushwalking guide training

Honeysuckle Creek Campground to Bushfold Flats camp to Summit of Mt Tennant then down to finish at Namadgi Visitors Centre – 2 days

5 up and coming stars of the Canberra outdoor education fraternity hiked out of Honeysuckle Creek Campground and made our way along the Alpine Walking Track to Booroomba Rocks. The shocking weather forecast didn’t quite eventuate. Mist rose  through the cliffs at Booroomba Rocks. We pushed off track to the open rock shelves on the mountain top to south. Desperate scrambling provided perfect navigation and extension of skills in a direct line back to the Booroomba Rocks Carpark. By afternoon we made Bushfold Flats and set up camp on the meadows.

The evening was beautifully clear and still. We cloth filtered and purified water from the dam.

Overnight rained and blew then miraculously cleared over breakfast.

Mount Tennant’s summit was windswept.

The sat phone, first aid kit and decision making skills got a workout through scenarios.

 

57 – Top Rope Climbing Guide training

Thompsons Point Nowra

28/2/16

Among an army adventurous training group we sweated up climbs, sorted the safest setups and consolidated procedures.

Santas Little Helper, Lucifer, Hang On, Big Dreams, Woderwick and more.

Top belay, bottom belay, bottom anchors, top anchors, bolts, trees, boulders, slings, quick draws, biners, safety top and bottom, knots, belay systems.

 

56 – Abseil guide training

Wee Jasper

27/2/16

Devil’s Punchbowl – small, medium and large abseils. Daylight entry to Dip Series 2.

We looked for safer ways to do things – sitting and easing over the edge when the anchor is at foot level.

Managing heat and fatigue as the last group arrives for the day.

What is the ultimate system setup and why?

Belays – self, bottom, top.

Anchor systems.

Is it worth the extra time to set up a releasable abseil line and top belay?

The knife?

 

Days of time, weekends …… they’ve given up to learn the ropes …….. so they can take students on adventures, provide the experiences that will stay with them for years.

 

Some of the best young teachers you could find anywhere. Would you have the legs and the heart for this?

What Young People Crave

54 and 55

What Young People Crave

22 – 23/2/16

Blue Mountains

Canyoning

 

Bowens Creek

Down through the rainforest.

A twisted ankle slows us up.

Waiting for abseils beside waterfalls we get a little cold.

Shafts of sunlight.

Students lead and take responsibility – navigation, belaying.

We see no other people all day which adds to the remote wilderness atmosphere.

Talk of other college trips. “The Reef was the best thing in my whole life. Arapiles. Snowboarding in Japan”.

The students were marvellous – sociable and friendly, they pushed themselves on the long walk up and out, supportive of each other, volunteered to help out.  The culture was wonderful.  Facilitated by the staff they had fun, enthused, were willing to give things a go. It was healthy exercise for a whole day. No social media.

Empress next day

The valley was full of cloud.

Fast and furious action was interspersed with slow walking downstream.

Abseil down in the waterfall. Excitement and a little fear.

Sparkling light rainbowed by the tumbling water and glistening the rock.Leap

Amazing surrounds – noise, rushing water, trembling, cold, adrenaline.

I think that this is what many teenagers crave – excitement, action, extreme environments, surrounded by caring and skilled adults and supportive buddies.

What a privilege it is to be able to accompany them as they live these experiences.

I can imagine them all singing out on the bus on the way home, “Summer of 69” or some other new classic as Dan get goose bumps while driving thinking about all the good he’s just brought about for these lucky “go get” students.

An American president from the distant past said that young people have a void inside them that is aching to be filled with adventure and excitement and if we don’t help them fill it with something meaningful and wholesome they will find other ways to fill it.

 

Canyon Family Legend

53

Canyon Family Legend

14/2/16

Blue Mountains

Canyoning

Light

This was a response to a request from my niece, Elouise, to go canyoning for her birthday. As part of family legend her Mum and my brother and his wife had taken our 65 year old mother canyoning. One of my other brothers, William, had explored pretty much all known canyons in the Blue Mountains in the 70s and published a book of photographs. From that time Mum had harboured a desire to go canyoning and had an adventurous spirit. The length and difficulty of the Bell Creek Canyon had been underestimated. One thing led to another and two of them stayed overnight with her on a sandy beach, keeping her awake and warm, while the other one went out to call the rescue. William and a friend arrived with the SES in the morning to find Mum walking up the exit track wondering what the fuss was about. My nephew, Tom, then a little tacker proudly told everyone that his Gran was stuck down a canyon.

The legend lived on for decades in family lore and is oft recalled.

So seven of us headed into Rocky Creek.Light 2

Jump in from the ledge to start.

Scramble down the chute.

Balance along slippery walls.

Cold water.

We all stayed warm in long wetsuits – William for first time wore a wetsuit and surprised himself how warm a canyon could be.

Stunningly beautiful canyon scenery at every turn. Sunlight shafted between green walls and vapour rose in steamy clouds from breathing and evaporation off wetsuits.

David, “Just back there I felt in the right scale – very small in such a grand place.”

The new dark grey executive volleys were the fashion item of appropriate footwear.

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A birthday cake after the canyon proper on a sunny beach.

Birthday

Long hot 38 degrees walk out. Climb up with a rope belay.

Matt, “This is turning out be a long expedition.”

Perhaps this was a small new addition to the family story.

Vapour