Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The Pigeon's are Calling

No one likes doing maintenance on their caches, but it’s a necessary evil. The thought that someone has intentionally trashed (muggled) your cache can be heartbreaking and that feeling swept through me when I’d heard of a few DNF’s on one of my remote caches, but the thought of a bushwalk to the top of Pigeon House Mt certainly put a smile back on my face. Pigeon House Mountain is located in the Morton National Park, it’s a 35km drive west of Ulladulla, the last 14km being dirt road which generally in good condition.
It’d been a few years since I’d walked out here and I hoped recent bushfires in the area hadn’t spoilt the vista. Arriving in the carpark I was pleased to see new facilities and amenities had been provided. There was only one other car in the carpark so I was pretty sure I’d have a nice peaceful walk. A sign at the start of the walk confirmed my cache notes that this is a hard walk of approximately 3-4hrs and a change in elevation of 450m.

There is no easing into this walk, straight out of the blocks you head up a very steep section. For me this took approx’ 30min but I’m pretty fit and I know others will take it a little easier than I did. Once at the top of this section you get your first glimpse of your goal. After a refreshing break I continued on along the easiest part of the walk. For about 10-15min you traverse the level plateau through heavily wooded areas where the serenity of the area was broken by the various birds calling. Slowly the track starts to rise up as you being your assault of the cone shaped land mass. Well-constructed timber steps and a good path make the job easier but once again you can really feel your heart beating as climb to the base of the rock pinnacle.

It was on this steep slope that I came across the occupants of the other car, these people had obviously made an early start to the day as they were already making their way back to the car. After a quick chat I kept going knowing that I now had the place to myself. I soon arrived at the first set of ladders and a realisation that I was nearly at the top. There are probably 8 sets of steep steps and 2 ladders to negotiate, all of which are very secure and safe. Once on top there is a short walk around to the trig and a fenced lookout and the beauty of this place can be realised.

From the trig the view in a westerly direction is fantastic. The wilderness area of Morton National Park, The Castle and Yadboro Flat are all before you. In the distance evidence of the recent fires could easily be seen. To the east, the coastal towns of Ulladulla, Milton and Burril can easily be seen. After plenty of photos I set about replacing my muggled cache. I wondered how a cache so remote could be muggled twice in 6 months but this area is too nice not to share with my fellow geocachers so a new container was placed in a slightly different spot.

With my caching duties complete and some more photos taken it was time to head back. The ladders seemed a little daunting as you look down on them but they are no problem if you take your time. The up slopes were now the down slopes and its often said its harder on the knees going down and I have to say that was the case for me this time and as always the return journey always feels quicker. I was soon down the cone slope and moving freely along the plateau when I had an encounter with the wildlife. A one metre goanna and I wanted to share the same pathway. Luckily he saw who was the boss and soon moved to the side allowing me to pass. Taking in one final glimpse of my achievement I headed down the steep slope and back to the car.

Goanna clinging to tree
My hike had taken me 2hr 20min which included a 30min rest on top. Those who are considering this walk should easily allow 3hrs, take plenty of water, a first aid kit and your camera with you.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mid North Coast Wander

Some 6 months after our washed out attempt of caching through these parts we’d finally locked in a date and were heading north. Only half the Gangsters could make the trip, but Hoojar had joined us for the ride.

Leaving Sydney late Friday afternoon we made good time as we headed up the F3 Freeway and by 10pm we were leaving the tarmac for our first cache of the weekend. The darkness of night had us naive to the beauty we were entering. The caches flowed and after a few hours we decided to make camp for the night just near No: 42

Morning revealed we’d jagged the perfect grassed camping spot, waking refreshed we were soon back on the trail of the Mid North Coast. In the light of day the magnitude of the countryside could be appreciated, the mountainous terrain of the “Brother Ranges” and beyond was beautiful. As a daunting spin-off there was a strong smell of smoke and over the next few hours it got stronger and thicker. At one point we considered exiting the area for our own safety.

By late morning we’d nearly finished on the western side of the highway included the enjoyable caches of GCX204 and GC4FG9B. After a couple more caches around Coopernook we headed out to Harrington. Its’ here that 2 series of caches come together to provide a plethora of caches for a coastal town. For us it was earned lunch break and an opportunity to replenish our supplies. However our break was short lived as there was lots more to do.

Heading north along the coast road, the finds continued to mount as we visited the small towns of Crowdy Head and Diamond Head. We all agreed given more time we’d love to return some day for a better look. By late afternoon we were exploring the option that we’d finish the trail by nightfall. After a couple of phone calls it was decided to catch up with the Browngang caching team who lived a short drive further north.

Meeting Chris and X (Browngang) at the pub we enjoyed a hearty meal, a bourbon or two and some good company before accepting the hospitality of our fellow geocachers.

Sunday dawned with inclement skies and no real urgency to do anything, but after a hearty breakfast we were on the road again. Chris took us to a few of his local caches before we were on the road heading south. By the time we’d reached the highway at Kew the heaven had opened and for the next few hours we drove through constant rain. We all agreed how lucky we’d been to have done all our caching the day before.

Arriving home, we were very pleased with our efforts. 250 finds and another Gangsters trip complete. Thanks FarmerFrentzen and Hoojar for a great weekend. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Powertrail Pandemic

After nearly 10 months, the Gangsters were back. This time we were off to South Australia for another invasion. Unlike our last visit to Adelaide where we set a new one-day record, this time we were in search of powertrails and the lucrative numbers that are associated with them.

After solving countless puzzles, booking flights & cars and last minute route changes we flew out of Sydney late on the 21st Aug for a 4-day spree. We all had various expectations about what we’d achieve on this trip, but we all agreed on 2 goals
a) To improve our one-day find count and
b) To improve our monthly find total

We were greeted with inclement weather but that didn’t deter us and we were soon in the Adelaide hills collecting our first series of caches. After midnight on the Thursday we started the Fruit Loop series. Clearing skies and cool temperatures made for easy caching and by the time we stopped for the night we’d found an easy 30 caches.

Thursday dawned with clear skies and a beautiful country vista. We quickly packed up and continued where we’d left off the night before. The rest of the Fruit Loop series didn’t take long to complete and we were soon in Mannum getting a late breakfast. We boarded the ferry-punt for one of the many crossings we did over the Murray River and continued further south.

It didn’t take long before we were starting our next powertrail, the Oz Mega 2014 trail had approx. 180 caches and took us most of the day to complete but we weren’t done yet. By late afternoon we were starting the Oz Mega Signal trail which had an additional 90 caches for us and just after 7pm we finished our days caching with a massive 325 finds. We finished the night off with a good pub meal and a comfortable bed in Murray Bridge.

Passing our 210th find milestone
Friday morning started slowly, we were all pretty weary after big previous day but we were soon into the swing of things again as we made our way to Tailem bend and the start of the Wandering Heroes powertrail. This powertrail pays homage to much of the caching community with a cache in their honour. Throughout the day we found a cache for Matt, me and our 210 record attempt, along with many other themed caches in honour of the owner. The weather wasn’t as kind today and on a number of occasions we had to put raincoats on or shelter from the chilly wind, but alas by days end we’d found another 317 caches.

By Saturday we’d already eclipsed my expectations of the trip and we still had 2 days ahead of us. Pushing north we zigzagged across the Murray River once again before arriving at the TDF powertrail. This p/t by far was the most enjoyable of the trip. It meanders down an old stock route, has good sized containers and the rural vista was breathtaking. We’d found the 104 caches by early afternoon and were soon on our way to the Auzzie Convicts – wild adventure powertrail. Reading the feedback on this trail had us a little cautious but after finding a few of the caches we soon had the theme of the series and the finds flowed and whilst we didn’t set a cracking pace we had a relaxing afternoon picking up tricky hides.
That night we headed to Kapunda for a bed and a feed, checking in to cabin the local pub came recommended and we weren’t disappointed. Huge meals and plenty of beverages filled us up ensuring we had a good night’s sleep.

A room with a view
As our last day for the invasion commenced we all hovered around personal milestones, none bigger than the possibility that we might find more than 1000 caches for the trip. This excited us but we still had a long way to go, so it wasn’t long before we were finding our first cache in the Five-oh series, this was quickly followed by the “It’s a small World” powertrail. By early afternoon we started our final p/t of the trip. It was here on the PSA trail that Matt, Jason and I all achieved our personal kilo milestones. I had amazing only celebrated my 8000 find 2-weeks earlier and here I was now celebrating 9000 finds. Celebrations were short lived as the clock was starting to beat us. Our flight home was nearing and we still wanted more caches. As we headed towards the airport we were fortunate enough to collect the necessary finds for us to achieve an amazing 4 days in South Oz.

My 9000th find
With only minutes to spare, we arrived at the airport, handed over the keys for our rental car and boarded our flight for home. We had spent 4 days on the road, done countless km’s, had 2 consecutive days of over 300 finds each day, completed 9 powertrails and amassed over 1000 finds. Thanks to my fellow Gangsters for another great trip.

Monday, June 17, 2013

GC49DZP Yerranderie 4x4 Event

Back in October 2011 we scheduled this event but due to a medical emergency we had to cancel. Some two years later the event was back on the calendar and we were looking forward to returning to the historic mining town of Yerranderie. That was until our 4WD was stolen and burnt out, this potentially ruined any plans of us attending our own event and we were once again faced with the possibility of having to cancel our own event. At the eleventh hour having good friends is a blessing and it was one of these friends who kindly let us borrow his 4WD for the weekend.

It was a cool Saturday morning of the June long-weekend when we met other geocaching families at Oberon for the trip to Yerranderie. In convoy we headed to Mt Werong for our first stop, being the long weekend the place was already busy. Pressing on we made it to Yerranderie for a late lunch. It was here that we met up with other geocachers. The place was far crowded than I had anticipated but that we soon found a nice spot and setup camp.

As the day progressed, further geocachers arrived making a sizable gathering. We pretty much did our own thing for the rest of the day, some chose to explore the surrounding ruins while others headed to the private town. By nights fall we all had the same idea, to congregate around the fire and shared in much laughter and storytelling.

Sunday saw some of the caching teams head off as they continued their long weekend 4WD adventures, for the rest of us we headed to the private town for a tour of the buildings and old mining relics. As we took in the vista of the place we also found a few of the local caches, one of these included a memorable afternoon hike to the Yerranderie Peak. From these dizzy heights we could see the Warragamba catchment and the wilderness areas of the Blue Breaks.

The Sunday evening around the campfire was a perfect example of what bush camping should be, clear skies filled with thousands of stars, perfect bush silence and the warmth and glow of a fire.

Monday dawned under clear skies but they didn't last for long. The predicted rain showers were moving in fast and by mid-morning as the last of us packed up camp, the rain started. We said our goodbyes to the other geocachers as most of us were taking separate routes home. From us the trip home was dogged by constant rain and heavy weekend traffic, but by late afternoon we’d made it home from a memorable 4x4 geocaching event. Thanks to those who shared the weekend with us.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Australia’s Highest geocache

An item on my bucket list has been to climb Australia’s highest mountain, knowing there were two caches on top was the only incentive I needed to tackle this quest. The story of our trek can be found here.

Having geocached for many years now, my interest has somewhat turned to improving various statistics and since our visit to New Zealand did improve my elevation statistic I was keen to grab the Mt Kosciusko caches.

On the 6th April we made it to the top of Australia and to Australia’s two highest geocaches were on offer. As we sheltered under raincoats from the hail, wind and rain we gathered the information for the earthcache and then a gap in the weather gave us enough time to scour the rocks for the traditional cache.

Emotions were mixed as we completed our achievement. We’d completed our goal but it was with only half of the family. Thank you to my lovely wife for making this a reality.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Mid North Coast wash-out

The Mid North Coast power-trail had been on our radar for some months. Planning and logistics were all sorted but as is the case we couldn't control the weather. Mother Nature put a spanner in the works with predicted heavy rain making us reconsider our plans. As it turned out, Canberra has always been a good spot to grab a plethora of caches some with plan A washed out it was onto plan B (Canberra).

Early Saturday morning on the 2nd March we headed to Canberra with a makeshift plan of grabbing a few smaller power-trails and then a plethora of caches that dot the suburbs. Our timing was perfect as we seemed to dodge the Canberra Rally in various spots we visited. We quickly accumulated a handy sum of finds as we completed the Constellation and Must See power-trails.

By days end we’d amassed an impressive 136 finds and we still had another day ahead of us. After a decent meal and a good night’s sleep we were back into the caching. Today we concentrated our efforts in the north-western area of Canberra were we grabbed a few caches in the specimen series and a scattering of other caches. By the time we left Canberra we tallied an impressive 201 finds, which had us on par for what we’d original planned to find on the Mid North Coast. Not a bad weekend’s geocaching under clear skies.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dargans Ck Canyoning Capers – GC43CRA

It’d been a while since I’d done a Blue Mountains canyon and having missed the last canyon event I was keen to tag-along for this one.

A large crowd of geocachers gathered at the meeting point and we were soon suited up and ready for this short but picturesque canyon. Our first hurdle was the now locked gate which accesses the creek, this turned out to be a bit of a blessing as it broke up the large group into more manageable sizes.

Once in the creek it was evident the region needed rain, water levels and flows were low for this time of year. Our group of 3-5 geocachers were soon slipping n sliding our way over fallen logs and down rocky chutes. Moving through the canyon you soon notice the light fading to a point where sunlight barely flickers through gouged and overhanging cliff lines. At many spots we stopped to take photos of these dark and eerie vistas.

In what seemed to be no time at all, we soon reached the exit point of the canyon. A rope dangling over a small waterfall provides a simple climb up the first section to where a very interesting spiked tree allows you to climb up the remaining 3m cliff line and then the walk out.

Thanks to Tronador for organising a fun event.