Thursday, January 29, 2009


*The weeks weather!

We are staying in Torquay at the moment, a beautiful spot right on the main surf beach. After seeing the forecast for this week we decided not to dilly dally with camping inland and headed straight for the coast. Torquay is also conveniently the gateway to the Great Ocean Road which is the next leg of this adventure.
Tomorrow we go west!

We spent a pretty hot and dusty Australia Day afternoon at the Mansfield Hotel watching the SA's thrash us in the cricket. Mansfield was flying its colours with flags, balloons and small children with the obligatory Aussie flag transfer-tattoos. There were also a lot of guys dressed as dogs (think a dog version of the paddle pop lion) - which we never really got to the bottom of. They looked very hot.

I am writing this in the camp kitchen while Payniac's at work (!) in Melbourne for the day. Really not sure how his day will be as it was 38C in Melbourne at about 11am this morning. Many trains have been cancelled due to the heat so I don't know when I'll see him again. It's too hot for me or the computer outside which is why I am in here.
Below are some images of where I'll be going once the air doesn't hurt to breathe anymore. For those in Sydney that New Years Day a couple of years when the mercury hit 40+, it feels exactly like that. The surf beach is lovely and at the moment there's not much of a swell. I had a bit of a bash on an old bodyboard I poached from Mum & Dad last time we went through and am thinking of hiring a surfboard this arvo - we'll see.

*Check out the colour of that sky!
*A hint of the coastal scenery we are to expect in the coming days as we follow the Great Ocean Road.

Due to general inactivity and the heat forcing us to lay like broccoli there really isn't much news or new photos at all.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Rehab required after massive adrenalin overdose

And so, regrettably, our time in the Victorian High Country has come to an end. We're currently in Mansfield, it's Australia Day, high thirties, and we're about to head to a pub to catch a crucial one dayer against the Saffers and enjoy some cold beer.

I've been getting some radio reception over the last week and there seems to have been more debate about the timing of Australia Day this year than in the past, given its pom invasion day connection. Perhaps when we've ditched the Queen and elected Punter as President we could move it to my birthday. Only a couple of weeks later on and it would then be almost half way between Christmas and Easter. Just a thought.

Today we have phone coverage for the first time in a while (other than when we've been on the tops of mountains) so I've managed to catch up with a few hours work (un Australian of me I know on our special day) in the welcome shade of a small shrub. People back in the office have been complaining that their air conditioning isn't working. Ness and I don't even have proper shade most of the time and I'm probably breaking all sorts of OH&S rules just by turning on my laptop.

Anyhow, the High Country has been a huge adventure and one long adrenalin rush. We’ve seen some beautiful and remote country and have camped at picture perfect spots pretty much the whole way through.

It’s also been tough going and pretty stressful at times for both of us. It’s been extremely hot, dry and dusty, with shocking bushfire conditions. We’ve spent most of our time edging along rough tracks that have been well beyond our 4WD experience. Most of this has been top fun and given us both a great deal of confidence for taking on any of the conditions we’re likely to encounter on the rest of the trip. But I’m not afraid to admit that some of it has been quite terrifying and I’m looking forward to a week or so of bitumen as we make our way over to the Great Ocean Road, the Grampians and then into South Australia.

Other than the battery issue, the Troopie has done us proud. We’ve collected a decent dent in the bull bar, although thankfully we didn’t kill anything. The tree was stationery when I hit it. I was trying to take a bend as wide as I could to avoid grounding the car on 'The Staircase', which I’d done when we were coming in the other direction. But I’m getting ahead of myself so will come back to that.

* Me hoping the engine compression doesn't fail us as we lurch our way down the impossibly steep "Stock Track".

* We missed out on the Station Track ascent due to needing some charge after a tow start, but not to be disappointed we soon had to make our way up the longer Eaglevale Track after a dicey river crossing to rejoin our route. Sometimes I think it's best not to know what's in store, but for many of the uphills you can survey the track from a safe distance well in advance and start the adrenalin pumping in advance.

We made it safely up with no dramas whatsoever, only to join the horrorific Cynthia Range track and then the Wombat Spur track down into the Wonnangatta Valley.

Spur tracks are generally so steep that you can't walk up them in thongs. I really have no idea how the Troopie does it.

Our campsite in the Wonnangatta Valley beside the river.

If I'd had the good sense to camp at the top of the slope I wouldn't have needed to involve others when the car wouldn't start (again).

Despite a severe weather warning for the Alpine region we decided to push on after our two night stop in Myrtleford and side trip to Wangaratta to get Kmart to replace the dud battery.

I’d picked out Lake Cobbler as a good place to aim for as it had a hut for shelter if things got out of hand, and would also position us nicely to move deeper into the mountains to Craig’s Hut (site of a “Man from Snowy River” replica hut) and then on to the Howqua Valley once the weather had cleared.

The sky continued to darken as we climbed Mount Cobbler and by about 1,000m we were up amongst the clouds and it had started to rain, making the track quite slippy. Visibility was down to about 20m.

We were tuned into the local ABC station that was giving extensive coverage to the storm front that was making it’s way rapidly across Victoria, leaving destruction and bushfires from lightning strikes in its wake.

The lake and hut were at about 1,300m and we just managed to get our gear inside as the storm proper came through at around 2.30pm.

It went pretty murky for a while and the lightning was all around us. I’d never been inside an active thundercloud before but as you might expect it’s pretty noisy.

Although that was nothing compared to the noise of the hail that started about half an hour later. The hut had a tin roof that amazingly survived the icy onslaught. And luckily so did our windscreen, but there are some new dents on the bonnet. The lake was boiling as bro.

Normal Aussie Summer was restored overnight and we've hardly seen a cloud since.

The new day provided quite a different vista of Cobbler Lake. Cracking spot for a fish, but Ness won't let me throw the line until I get the license sorted out.

If the Thursday had been an adventure, Friday turned out to be a very challenging day indeed.

We decided to walk to the top of Mount Cobbler but in a brief moment of sensibleness abandoned half way up from the hut as we'd lost track of the track. The storm had brought some trees down and there was debris everywhere and it would have been pretty easy to get hopelessly lost.

So, instead, we pushed on to Craig's Hut via the Mount Speculation Track which included a point of interest on our map known as "The Staircase".

I'll cut to the chase, but after about an hour we'd made it the approximately 4km down The Staircase and were leveling off to meet a better road to Craig's Hut. During that hour we got grounded on a massive rock under the rear diff and suspension which took both of us pushing with both legs to budge before we could move on. I'd tried to take the switchback too tightly and paid the ultimate penalty.
As the road started to level off we came across a fallen tree, which with some grunt work and possibly a tow we could have probably cleared on our own. Luckily or unluckily however we spotted two further fallen trees another 10m or so ahead that would require a chainsaw and one or more bulldozers to shift so reluctantly we made a sixty point turn on the narrow track and headed back to The Staircase.

I have sympathy for Jeff Kennett and many others who have had to deal with depression in their lives over a long period but I had a brief moment of utter despair.

I went wide on the bend we'd come unstuck on on the way down and hit a tree. Bang, crash, stall, nervous laugh. The old battery was buggered because of a cracked cell, and what did I do two days after getting a (free) replacement. Smash the battery side of the front of the car into a tree. Idiot!

And we still had to make our way up the real steps part of the Staircase. After another hour of headscratching, diff scratching, rock moving and blashpheming we were back exactly where we'd started two hours before and had no option but to make our way to the Howqua Valley the long way around - 160km instead of 20kms. Bugger.

It was worth it though and after passing through a number of chocker campsites on the Howqua River we hit National Park again and secured a top little spot right next to the river for a couple of nights of real R&R. The only downside to our camp at Seven Mile Flat was the March Flies. As big as your head and they needed a camping hammer to crush them. At least they did in my dreams each night, probably brought on from the poison they were injecting me with. The March Flies down this way are vile nasty bastards and best avoided.

We had some more fun driving on our way out of the Park without any serious incidents. So we ended our time in the high country on a high note safe in the knowledge that it's now safe to return to the coast because, praise be, the SCHOOL HOLIDAYS ARE FINALLY OVER!

For anyone from overseas who is thinking they might get a bait to our wedding, I am pleased to announce we've set the date and locked in Philip the celebrant who will be officiating at our secular ceremony. Philip's specialty is a pirate wedding but we'll be going for something a bit more relaxed. The BIG DAY will be on 12 December 2009, so book your flights now before the price of oil goes back up to $100.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More High Country High Jinks

* A lovely pair of Gang-Gang Cockatoos.
I was so excited to find these birds.

We have been in the High Country for about 10 days now. The scenery is spectacular, the rivers clean and pristine and the camping basic and isolated. There have also been a few small dramas.

*VJ preparing for a swim at Harrisons Cut at the bottom of the VERY steep Stock Spur Track.

After leaving the pretty Mitta Mitta River we stocked up in the town of Omeo before heading out on leg 2 of our high country adventure trek. This part of Victoria is a mecca for 4wders and the main street was chock full of landcruisers and patrols with all their spare wheels and hi-lift jacks. We headed out of Omeo and turned off reasonably good sealed road and almost immediately were back into 'rough track'. This initial part of the trek is deemed easy in the guide book with the Stock Spur Track rating a special mention about the "steep descent".
* A fairly standard intersection.

Before this leg of our trip if you had pointed out some of the roads we've driven over I would never have thought a vehicle could do it. The goal posts keep moving and once you're halfway up or down one of these hills/spurs/ridges you're committed. I have done a lot of hanging on and muttering quietly

*Steam rising off the river at Ollies Jump Up about 4 days ago. I still rise quite early. This was a particularly cold morning that required the wearing of thermals, fleeces and tights under duds - and this is summer.
We shared this camp with Jeremy and Anastasia from Coogee who were doing the same trek as us but were in a bit more of a hurry. They built a beaut fire that we shared over a few wines and exchanging travel tips before the conversation became quite philosophical, probing and deep.

*Payniac, a litte seedy, manipulating a picnic lunch on top of the world, well Australia anyway.

We try and heed other travellers warnings and tips and had been told that the camping on the Crooked River near the town site of Talbotville was pretty good so we planned to spend a few nights there before embarking on what was to be the toughest section of the trek! A bloke we met at Ollies Jump Up on learning of our intentions to head up the Station Spur and Womabt Range put the fear into me after asking us if we had a winch. We most certainly do but what on earth would we need it for? Is it that steep?
* The wombat spur track down off the wombat range - all in all a pretty good track.

Serendipity, dumb luck, whatever you want to call it, intervened here as the day we were to begin this treacherous section the car would nae start. Flat as a dunny mans hat (as the RACV man said). There are no photos of any of the various attempts to get the car going as at the time it was the very last thing on my mind. This was NOT funny. Either way you looked at it we were a long way from assistance and a tough long way at that - many sections of these tracks require prolonged use of low range 4wd. Luckily Colin, his kids and his hilux were close by and came to the rescue. Battery was so flat that we couldn't even jump it! Ended up being tow started.

With the car going and the battery apparently holding charge and restarting after driving for a bit we discussed our options. Dargo was the closest service town and were more or less headed there when we agreed that everything seemed hunky dory and if we kept going along the adventure trek, although remote was a popular spot for campers etc. And so, with small misgivings on my part, we continued into the Wonangatta Valley. A stunning open grassy plain on the Wonangatta River that up until the 80's was still used to graze cattle.
We had a lovely secluded spot on the river and some kind character had built a pool within the river with rocks. Lovely. It was really starting to hot up and was quite windy - you start thinking about how/what you would do in the instance of fire. Fire bans include any open flame so unless we can get into a hut to cook there's no hot food for dinner as we use a gas 2 ring burner for all meals not cooked on open fire.
Anyhoo, and quite unsurprisingly when we went to start the troopy yesterday, guess what? Flat battery. This time it was Carl and his mate John who came to the rescue with their Rodeo. It took a little time but we finally got her started.

*One of the many picturesque huts that are dotted throughout the high country. This is Kennedy's Hut on the Mitta Mitta River in the Omeo Valley. The river was reputed to have platypus, alas we did not see any.

Let's just say this was an especially emotional time. I was reliving any story I had ever heard of people having to have their vehicles flat-bedded out of these situations at a very high price. There was talk of aborting the trip. I expressed my lack of faith in the troopy while we went over and over anything we might have done differently. Had a deep river crossing shorted something? Had a wire come loose? What seemed to be happening was that over long periods (12+ hours) of inaction the battery was completely discharging. You will all be pleased to hear that our auxiliary battery that runs our trusty Engel fridge is still ship shape and through this whole ordeal we have had icy cold beer!

*Payniac after building a little raft, or maybe he's just washing his feet?

After our much appreciated help and we were on our way again we started to talk about just how willing people are to provide assistance to others in need. Should we have given them something to thank them? I think they take away a story and although we are definitely the ultimate beneficiaries in these transactions most people would not hesitate to help if they can. We also had a pretty steep learning curve these last few days, batteries, leads, and tow ropes etc.

*This sign was on the side of the bridge facing away from us on the East Buffalo track as we headed to Myrtelford to get the battery looked at. The hazard was perhaps the bridge itself, we're not sure. The bridge didn't look as though it'd take the 3+ tonne that we are and so we decided to ford the creek. The water was maybe 2 metres wide. The exit was nasty and steep and the site of our first bogging. We also thought we'd blown the back left tyre as we could hear a hissing sound!
It was just a nightmare situation - if we did have a flat we couldn't really stop the engine for fear she wouldn't go again. I still have no idea how we would've changed the tyre in that position as the back step was sitting beautifully in the mud and dirt. Back left and front right wheels were in the air with the back embedded. Oh no!!! Rocks will do the trick, we'll just build them up under the wheels for traction - no rocks. The only stretch of the river, any river, we'd seen without bloody rocks. The trees were positioned beautifully for winching, although I doubt very much we'd have got the winch out as it lives in the back of the car (perhaps we ought to rethink this). It turned out all that was needed was a average sized stick under the front wheel and she had enough traction in L1 to pull herself out. What a day! I promise to take photos next time, and there will be, we get bogged but I found this situation less funny than the flat battery as I knew that Carl and John were only about half an hour behind us on this same road (on their recommendation as the other way out of the valley was the notorious Zeka Spur Track - 2 hours to do 22km by all accounts) and I was worried about over extending the friendship.

We are now safe and clean in Myrtleford where we had to have the troopy jumped again this morning despite disconnecting the battery overnight. Thank you RACV. Payniac has gone to Wangaratta to get a new battery as we've cracked one of the cells, same as what happened in Alice. It seems the batteries are made of tough stuff but not quite tough enough for this country.

We are at a loose end now with our high country adventures brought to a premature close. We will probably head south through the national parks and check out some more of the huts that we both like so much - very Man From Snowy River. It's a great problem to have, where will we go tomorrow?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

High Country Shenanigans

While I could probably have started each blog entry with this statement, I have to say that this last week has been THE highlight of my trip so far. After a hot date at the Ocean Palace chinese in Narooma and a bit too much to drink I managed to miss the glorious sunrise the following morning, but luckily Ness was up and at ‘em and grabbed some great photos.
We cleared out of the campsite before most of the other people were up and moving and hit the road turning inland just short of Bega for the long climb up to the high country. We pulled into South East Forest National Park for some gentle four-wheel drive practice (before the real stuff) and found a lovely shady spot beside a sandy creek at Postman Camp.

Spot the spider. Harmless I think but we’ve definitely been in bug country on this leg of the trip. Without doubt having the tent off the ground makes a big difference to how many of them make it into our sleeping quarters, but I did have to give a huntsman the size of my hand its marching orders before we went to sleep one night. He was on the inside roof of the tent and again while not deadly it did bring back horrible memories of a nasty bite I got a couple of years ago from one who’d taken up residence in my boxer shorts while they’d been drying on the line. (I also had a close encounter with a brown snake yesterday but I won’t go into that right now.)

After Postman’s Camp we made our way up to Jindabyne. While we didn’t see any bodies floating in the lake, we did manage to secure a good spot at the caravan park and make it to the pub in good time to catch the Twenty 20 cricket against South Africa. A relatively big night on the grog for both of us was probably not the best preparation for the walk up to the top of Kosciuszko first thing the next morning. We cheated a bit and got the chair lift up from Thredbo but it was still a 13km return walk from where we got dropped off. The wild flowers were sensational and again we were very lucky with having a clear day that wasn’t too hot and we had fabulous visibility.

This is the head waters of the Snowy River, which flows into Lake Jindabyne, and then onwards to the south coast at Marlo. Being in Snowy River territory allowed me to finally dislodge the Martin Martini ‘Clowns are going to eat me’ song I’d had buzzing around my head since Christmas, only to be replaced by a bizarre techno version of ‘The Man from Snowy River’ song.

Made it to the top of Australia! Kossie is 2,228m above sea level and the tallest peak on the flattest continent in the world.

After we’d made it back to Thredbo and stocked up on beer and diesel we carried on along the Alpine Way and made the descent to Tom Groggin where we would make our crossing in to Victoria.

The Murray River crossing was our biggest so far and Ness kindly waded across to test the depth and to be on hand with the camera in case anything went awry.

I was pretty happy with the smooth outcome and fairly steep exit and it was only afterwards I realised that in all the excitement I’d forgotten to put the Troopie into four-wheel drive.

We were now firmly in four-wheel drive territory and we’d be getting plenty of opportunities to practice the skills we’d picked up in Broken Hill a few months back. A few kilometres onto the Davies Plain track we pulled into Buckwong Creek camping area and stopped for an early mark after what had been a fairly energetic day.

Another perfect campsite, beside the creek, place to ourselves, plenty of wildlife. I even got to see my first live Kanga porn action and have photos if anyone is interested.

This is how Ness spends most of her afternoons, up in the tent away from me (and the other annoying bugs) with a good book. We stocked up on reads at the book exchange in Narooma and even I have honoured my new years resolution to podcast less and read more.

The tracks we’ve been on since crossing into the Alpine National Park have been rated ‘difficult’ in our guidebook and most are very rough tracks or fire trails which are not maintained and closed for around six months each year. You have no idea what is around each corner, fallen trees, big holes, washouts etc. This means slow progress and on our first day we made just 55km in around five hours of driving. We spent a lot of the time in low range to either make it up the steep hills, or control the descents, and for much of the time certain death was only a few feet on one side of the car or the other.

Davies Plain hut, set up high among the snow gums, is one of a number of huts dotted around the Alpine region. They are generally well stocked with emergency supplies of matches, baked beans and firewood for people caught in a tight spot.

This happy chap is a Gang Gang parrot, one of a few we saw during a coffee break at Davies Plain hut. Another great opportunity to use the new lens purchased with the Christmas money from my folks and nan (thanks guys – we’ve taken so many top shots with it already!).

This particular ascent was SHIT YOUR PANTS steep and we both didn’t want to go back and look at what we’d just come up. From the contours on the map it looks like we went up around five hundred meters in the space of a couple of kilometres with some sharp switchbacks and again certain death just off to the side. Ness was even contemplating religion half way up this one. While Troopie has plenty of grunt in low range you do get the real sense on the steepest bits that we might just topple backwards. Plenty of time dilation moments to be had.
There is also always the threat of stalling the Troopie and had we not learned the trick of the ‘key start’ I might not be here to be writing this. I always get confused which way to turn the wheel when reversing, particularly it seems when I’m a bit stressed out and the handbrake doesn’t really hold us so a normal hill start just doesn’t work. The ‘key start’ works in low range and all you need to do is leave her in reverse (if you’re pointing up hill), take the handbrake off, take your foot of the brake and let the compression braking hold you, and then turn the key – voila, engine starts and you jump backwards and need to find something half level before you can go forwards again.

After a hard day’s driving we pulled in to Limestone Creek campsite and had just the perfect night. We can now add Brumbies (wild horses) to our wildlife encounters. I managed to tune the radio into an ABC station and we picked up the whole of the second twenty-20 match – another emphatic win for us. I was in absolute heaven and didn’t know what to focus on. I had the campfire going, the cricket was on the radio, we could hear the Brumbies pretty close by, the stars were amazing, including mild aurora in the southern sky, the beer was cold, and then the moon started to rise over the mountains. What a night!

It’s easier than you might think to turn a Troopie over, and the weight of the tent on top doesn’t help. I hope that our instructor doesn’t see this shot and even more happy that Ness didn’t have the camera out five minutes earlier when I was negotiating another fallen tree and managed to lift the back left wheel off the ground.

We are now about a third of the way through our high country adventure and are topping up with beer and other essentials having exhausted our larder with a two day unscheduled side trip along the Mitta Mitta river. Top camping once again.

You have to credit the Victorians for their commitment to encouraging people to enjoy the outdoors. We've not had to pay camping or park use fees since crossing the border.

Hope everyone is well. We should have better coverage in a week or so (I keep saying that) so we'll blog again then.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Adventure of a lifetime, part 2

While Ness blogged fairly comprehensively about our Christmas capers, given we've got a powered site and some coverage and I've nothing better to do, I thought I'd add in my two bobs worth.

* This is a hawk or eagle of some description trying to stay ahead of a massive storm which came in while we were at Seal Rocks.

Candi & Steffen's party in Newtown was an awesome return to the binge drinking we were supposed to have left behind in September, but with hindsight proved a good warm up act for the next couple of weeks. Steffen and I were the last men standing, but only he had the capacity to set about the clearing up while I bent his ear about alternative medicine.

Sunday was a tough day for all of us and getting up to Dangar was harder than usual. At least I didn't throw up on the train like Candice did (into a clear plastic bag in front of other punters). The Troopie was packed to the roof with presents and food and drink which meant hard work up the hill. Most of the presents did not have my or Nessa's name on them so were always going to have to come back to Sydney but they did look impressive under the makeshift indoor stick Christmas tree.

Nevertheless we did very well on the present front indeed. We'd bought a wicked new extreme close up lens for our camera with some money from my parents and grandma so we'll be able to bag some more wildlife shots over the rest of the trip. I bagged my first wife-beater and I love it and have added two more to the collection since. I also got a wicked straw hat to protect my fair skin and slightly balding head from the harsh aussie sun. Candi and Steffen and Mik had gone through our photos from the first leg of the trip and had three of them put onto canvas - and they look absolutely awesome.

It was sensational to be back on Dangar and to catch up with all our friends there. It's so nice to have the community there to look forward to when we move there full time once this wild ride is over. My new rugged appearance seemed to surprise a few people. I was described variously as like a tanned and hirstute greek god (thanks Ms Brown, I think the champagne helped) to scruffy (Corrinthe). I took Corrinthe's word to heart and had my beard 'trimmed' in Hornsby. I'd spoken to Greg, the oracle on all things beard related and he'd suggested a number 1. Instant regret as my hard earned beard disappeared. Two months growth gone in under a minute. The Hugh Jackman look I crave was even further from me than ever, but it will come back.

* Close up Cockie action. Awesome idea from the Johnstons to introduce a bird feeder to the deck at Dangar, and even Millie obliged by not chasing every bird that dropped by.

Christmas with the Johnston's is a noisy and fun filled affair, and this year we had 11 nights of it, and for a change at Christmas the weather was superb. So much fun and laughing, and Dangar was just sparkling.

Steffen got right into the bowling action and got to meet some of the more interesting characters on the island who joined us from time to time for a roll.

* I was impressed to get all that into one wheel-barrow (finally managing to pick one with out a flat tyre) and down the hill without spilling it, . VJ had the cat which was trying to escape and the esky.

* Quick stop at Kiama for a dip after 5 hours in the car on a 35 degree day. The windscreen was almost melting!

New Years at Bondi was tops. Thanks so much guys for the hospitality, and Candi for coming to pick us up in the morning and not being angry even though there were hundreds of cabs and I'd just not gone outside to check before calling her.

Great to catch up with my nephew on New Years Eve and Day and he needed no encouragement whatsoever to get stuck into the grog at Camperdown Bowlo and then the curry house before we packed him off to see his Mum and Dad who are out here on holiday (and also bought us an awesome feed at the Bank). Hope you didn't get in too much trouble!

The time in Sydney gave us the chance to pick up some new items for the trip, some are pictured here. New camping chairs (Our old ones gave up and Westpac let us down again with the free ones arriving the day after we left, ggrrr), a wicked new red retro rechargeable camping lantern, a boogie board (stolen from Scone), a London Underground tea towel from Tash, a two step ladder so I don't need to get the milk crates out of the car anymore and Ness and Jean turned our outsize bed sheet in to a fitted sheet which is awesome.

Anyhow, despite all the fun, it's great to be back on the road for our remaining 9 month camping marathon. We pulled in for a night at Carrington Falls near Kiama (awesome and free camp ground and absolutely beautiful falls and wildlife).

The sky walk thingy was good. There's more to the Gong than you think these days and I might even send some of my relies down here if they make it over for the wedding.

Tomorrow we turn back in land and head for Kossie and then the Victorian High Country for the 4wd action the bad weather robbed us of in November. They're forecasting 30+ degree days so we've a chance of a bush fire or two rather than snow this time.

If we make it across the mountains we'll be getting to South Australia quicker than we expected but are still keen to give their 10c refund scheme another go. Please drop any unwanted cans or bottles round to 4 Prospect St, Newtown and Candi can forward them on to us - she'll give you 5c for each, minimum batches of 100.