My partner, Eddy and I have been talking about going on canoe trip in Kangaroo Valley for a few months. This would trip would be our first adventure couples trip and we have been inspired to go on a trip by the We Are Explorers post on Multi-day Canoeing and watching Canadian vlogger and filmmaker, Chris Prouse’s Algonquin National Park canoeing videos with her partner.
I spoke to the team at Kangaroo Valley Safaris regarding the canoe trip and they were kind enough to provide us with a couple of multi-day itineraries, what is included in the trip package and recommended times of year to go on these trips.
I have summarised that in the list below:
Self guided canoe tour from Bendeela to Fossickers Flat and returning to Tallowa Dam
TRIP 1: BENDEELA TO TALLOWA DAM (2days)
An easy 24 klm paddle over the two days. ( 3 hours per Day)
TRIP 2: SHOALHAVEN GORGE (2 days) TRIP 3: THE BIG SAFARI (3, 4 or 5 days) Combination of Trip 1 and 2. We opted for this trip
TRIP 4: HAMPDEN BRIDGE TO BENDEELA (2 hours to all day)
TRIP 5: WILDLIFE OF BENDEELA & BEYOND (2 hours to all day).
All multi day trips include
Cost is $65 per person per day all inclusive including transport (3 days $195 per person, $390 total)
In August 2018, I invested in a long distance gravel touring bike. Aftera lot of research and current stock availability at the time I went from ordering a Wayward Cape York touring bike to instead getting a more hardy gravel bike on the lead up to my first Gears and Beers event.
In recent posts (the Gears and Beers event, followed by the Canberra to Goulburn return trip) I used my new gravel bike, Bombtrack Beyond 1. This beast is built for bikepacking with a flared drop down bar to allow easier handling for technical terrain, the many mounting points on the front fork, top tube, and down tube. The tyres are even tubeless ready something I am very keen to change to, after the Canberra to Goulburn ride where we experienced a few puncture situations from wood staples and nails. We were able to patch up with the holes but it would have saved time if we already had the tubeless in place.
There are a few things that I would want to change about this bike.
Bike Frame Storage
Currently, I run the Tauber Rear rack for daily commuting with my Ortlieb Classic Pro panniers for clothes, shopping and gym gear. This allows for storage while commuting and is an alternative solution for bikepacking saddle bag for the moment.
I have a preference for a more solid saddle bag rack system; so far I am interested in the Mr. Fusion XL from American Cottage Company Porcelain Rocket and Blackburn Design Outpost seat pack.
I do want to get a frame bag, I like the idea of a roll top frame bag from Porcelain rockets as its less hardware to worry about breaking. I’ve seen frame bags with multiple zips which people overpack and break the zips. This bag will be used for main food storage.
The Bombtrack Beyond has many mounting options which means I will be looking towards two fork bottle mounts and a bottle at the bottom of the frame.
Top Tube bags
I’m looking at top tube bars near the handlebar and the top tube bag closer to the seat post. The plan for these pieces:
Top tube handlebar mount – To be used for electronics; gopro, battery bank, camera.
Top tube seat post mount – To store tools, and equipment for bike repairs, spare tyres, etc…
These will be used for carrying my snacks in bulk in two handlebar bags.
Additional bar mounting system
I’m also looking at additional bar mounting system for my handle bars for mounting my GPS Garmin Inreach Explorer Plus, bike bell, bike torch and phone mount.
Day 1: Canberra to Cooinbill Hut (119km)
Day 2: Cooinbill Hut to Derschko’s Hut (82km)
Day 3: Derschko’s Hut to Dogman Hut (93km)
Day 4: Dogman Hut to Omeo (99km)
Day 5: Omeo to JB Plain Hut (46km)
Day 6: JB Plain Hut to Dargo (98km)
Day 7: Dargo to Horseyard Flat Camping Area via Billy Goat Bluff (52km)
Day 8: Horseyard Flat to Licola (80km)
Day 9: Licola to Woods Point (58km)
Day 10: Woods Point to Warburton (103km)
Day 11: Warburton to Melbourne (95km)
Hunt1000, Canberra to Melbourne 20th – 30th of November
What is Hunt1000?
Trip type: Bikepacking
Start date: Wednesday, 20th November – Saturday, 30th November 2019
Sights: Arid mountains, gorges, dry creek beds, waterholes
Hazards: Dehydration, Snakes, Hyperthermia, Hypothermia
Activity Leader: Dan Hunt – Founder of the Hunt1000
Group: Jay, Eddy, Jaeryl as well as like minded (or disturbed) individuals willing to take on the hazards of the Hunt1000 trail.
A 1,000 km journey through the rooftop of Australia along backcountry trails, across exposed high plains, through snow gum woodlands and among tall native forests. The trail links two of major cities with limited resupply points and some of Australia’s best high country campsites.
The Hunt1000 was founded by Dan Hunt in 2016. It is a long-distance (1000km) endurance bikepacking event from Canberra to Melbourne through the Snowy Mountains. It will be tough with the occasional ‘hike – a bike’ trails but it’s easily forgiven by the amazing views the Australia Alpines has to offer. The main race itself will take 7 days, however those that want to enjoy the wonder of the Australian Alpines, like myself, prefer to take the journey a bit slower.
This trip will take an estimated 11 days plus another 1 day to recoup before catching a train back home (12 days in total).
During October, Ben, Jaeryl, Jay and I participated in the Great Cycle Challenge to raise funds and awareness in the fight against Kids’ Cancer.
This involved a two-day cycling trip pushing 200km through country roads and along highways, riding from Canberra to Goulburn and back again. This was my first time riding such a long distance in a short period of time and it was not an easy journey.
On the way to Goulburn, we had a headwind pushing us back to Canberra, which made pedaling just that little bit harder and took its toll on the body throughout the day.
Jay and I got flat tyres, mine along the Hume Highway and her’s just before turning into Goulburn.
It was a real challenge but worthwhile. We saw some pretty beautiful sights and took some great photos riding along the back roads near Breadlebane. Even so, I was pretty happy to see the Big Merino coming up along the turn off of the highway.
On the way back we had the rain chasing us and the road was full of many ups and down, literally.
After the previous day of long treks riding along highways, we decided to take more of the backroads and gravel tracks past Collector. These roads proved to be some of the most mentally challenging but also exciting rides of the day.
Just after Collector, we hit the hill from hell. The three of us pushed our bikes up a hill as cars struggled to climb past us. The hill drained us and we were only at the beginning of our ride home. Exhausted, we pushed on. Every time we would stop to catch our breath at the top of another hill the rain would come to tell us we’d better continue.
One good thing about hills though is that eventually you’ll get to ride down them and that was the highlight of the trip for me. Although the rain had caught up to us by then, I thoroughly enjoyed racing downhill with the rain hitting my face as I could hear the squealing of Ben’s brakes slowly disappearing behind me.
Just before Gundaroo the rain dispersed and we hit tarmac. After that, slightly damp, we rode all the way down Sutton Road from Gundaroo being driven by the prospects of pies at the Bakery in Sutton. When we got there, boy were those good pies.
Article by Eddy L
Photos by Eddy, Gears and Beers Photographers, OAUS
This year Ben, Jaeryl, Binglin, Jay, and I took part in Gears and Beers, Wagga Wagga’s annual cycling and craft beer festival. The event itself consists of 5 road races and 2 gravel races all of varying distances. We took part in the “Filthy 50” which is the shorter of the gravel races at 50km.
After a quick meet up early lunch at the Old Canberra Inn and picking up some quality snags from Lyneham butcher, we prepared for the trip up to Wagga Wagga. The cars were packed to the bim, the bikes where strapped to the back and were on our way. The drive was pretty uneventful, Jay, Binglin, and Ben in one car Jaeryl and I in another.
After a few stuff-arounds with forgetting things and needing to buy ice for the esky, Jaeryl and I met the others at our campsite. We all set up our tents before unloading the bikes and hitting up the Thirsty Crow Brewery for a beer and to check out the bicycle showcases on display. Once we got back to camp we set up the BBQ for a smorgasbord of award-winning sausages and an early night to prep for the next morning of cycling fun.
The day of the event I whipped up some bacon and egg rolls on the BBQ and the five of us head down to the starting line for the launch of the Filthy 50.
The weather was amazing that day, not a single cloud in the sky. There was a nice cool breeze pumping that fresh air into the lungs and the scenery along the dirt roads was stunning.
It was a bit lonely though. Jaeryl and I lost the others at the starting line and then I lost Jaeryl up the first hill. So the following two hours it was me, myself and I pedaling along, enjoying the ride, talking to other riders and pushing my limits. Which was good, but next time I want to try and stick with the group a bit more.
After the ride, we all gathered together and went to enjoy the festivities. I didn’t get many photos of this, as I was too busy drinking beer and enjoying the festival food. That’s a sign of a good festival right?
Some beers of note were a lamington stout and vanilla milk stout from the local brewery, Thirsty Crow. Their summer ale was also pretty great and well welcomed after the bike ride.
Day 3 was a nice, chill public holiday day. We took a beautiful, albeit slightly sketchy, early morning bike ride along the Murrumbidgee and a quick jaunt around town before having breakfast, packing up, and heading home to crash on the couch.
We had a fantastic adventure riding around Wagga Wagga and taking in the sights. So much so, that we have already booked tickets for next years challenge, pushing ourselves to complete the Dirty 130, 130km in one day of sealed and unsealed roads.
Anyone wanting to hit us up and come join in the adventures is welcome.
Article by Eddy L
Photos by Eddy, Gears and Beers Photographers, OAUS
Trip type: Bushwalking
Start date: Tuesday, 7 August 2018 – 6:00am Sunday, 26 August 2018 – 8:00pm
Months: June to August
Sights: Arid mountains, gorges, dry creek beds, waterholes
Hazards: Dehydration, Snakes, Hyperthermia, Hypothermia
Activity Leader: Jay Sims
Group: 10 female maximum
The Larapinta trail hike takes 18 days, plus another 2 days for arrival – the day before, and departure the day after (in total 20 days).
The group is a female empowerment group to help women appreciate the great outdoors with other like minded sisters.
Nothing prepares you for the beautiful experience of the MacDonald Ranges, the appreciation of arid nature, and the intense connection you have with it.
I organised the trip for women, those that identify as female, and non-binary folk, under the banner of She Devil Trekkers (see https://shedeviltrekkers.wordpress.com/). The group promotes female empowerment and diversity.
The planning of the trip began last year in a discussion of the next She Devil Trekkers trip after completing the Overland track in Tasmania 2017, a 90km hike through the winter period thick with snow, storms, and crowded huts. I was the only She Devil from that experience who would continue onto the next adventure. There were four people in the new group including myself.
Yushu applied through ANUMC trip. Yushu and I had hiked before on a snow shoe trip and even on two of my first lead trips in Namadgi National Park.
Next were Trish and Simone, mothers based in Melbourne who had applied through my trip promotion on the She Devil Trekker’s Facebook page. We did not meet until Melbourne airport when we realised we were on the same plane to Alice, briefly catching up like old friends over coffee together before flying out.
The Larapinta Trail is an 18-day extended walking track in the Northern Territory, Australia. Its total length covers 200km – 300km+ from east to west with the eastern end at Alice Springs and the western end at Mount Sonder, one of the territory’s highest mountains. It follows the West MacDonnell Ranges, sometimes along the ridge line, other times on the plain below, in the West MacDonnell National Park.
The trip will test a hiker’s skills on multiple fronts:
It is medium to challenging difficulty, where the hikers must carry their shelter, sleep and cook systems, with 4-5 days’ worth of food which can weigh between 15 to 20kg.
Rock scrambling climbs through the mountain ranges which are not only steep, but as many guides and trip reports advise, the shale rocks wear down hiking shoes very quickly. Newly worn-in shoes are recommended for this trip.
The arid climate additionally presents multiple challenges including the requirement to manage water (up to 5 litres), the food between three scheduled food drops along the route to replenish supplies, and to conserve participants energy based on the time of day.
No matter how much you research and try to prepare you can only do so much without adding to your pack weight with unnecessary equipment. I was the lead hiker and organiser for the She Devil Trekkers Larapinta Trail 2018, so I needed to make sure that I carried a PLB, GPS, physical maps, first aid kit, and that everyone else carried the necessary items to be fully self-sufficient. Sometimes, things don’t go the way you planned, and you just have to accept and adapt, more on this later.
Day one set the pace with seeing a dingo in the first 10km hunting a euro (cousin to a kangaroo/wallaby). A week later, as we camped on a river bank. We encountered a black bearded dragon that emerged out of the sand in front of us while we were having dinner. Like typical tourist we surrounded it in seconds to taking pictures and recording its movement in the wild. Later, we encountered wild bulls that had escaped from the many cattle farms in the area. There are even rumours of brumbies this far north, we found a horse skull near one of the water gorges.
We spent each night either cowboy camping (without tents) watching shooting stars under the moonlight or enjoying the luxury of the three walled shelters. We had breakfast at sunrise, and dinner at sunset. We would grow stronger and faster carrying our homes for 18 days on our backs. Ascending and descending hills with the best views of the red desert. You grow to appreciate the minimalist life only using essentials but when the opportunity arises you do really enjoy a properly cooked meal (or five) after surviving on dehydrated (cold soaked kangaroo Bolognese) meals day in and day out on the trail.
It took us 10 days to build up callouses around our feet, for our bodies to adjust, and to strengthen from hiking with pack weight. Our bodies were not used to crossing such distances, especially in the weather we were not acclimatised too. Our hiking distances were between 18 – 25km per day, in dry heat through rocky ascents, dusty red desert, rocking hopping dry rivers or rock climbing/scrambling with weight of our packs. At the beginning we hiked as a group, later paired up and hiked at our natural paces.
Between Bond Gap and Mulga Camp
Hugh Gorge Water hole
We were humbled by beautiful vistas on mountain ranges, marveled at the water gorges, occasionally taking an ice-cold dip in some. We took photos of lizards, birds, and vibrantly coloured flowers that were a stark contrast to the red, sandy desert and sparse woodland environment.
The best bonds you form are those you form during the struggles together. You become accustomed to being isolated in the wild. We knew when we were alone and when we weren’t. The hikers we met shared the same sentiments and appreciation of the land. For those 18 days our lives comprised of hike, eat, eat, eat, drink, sleep, and repeat. It was a simple life. More time to think, to appreciate your surroundings and to sit down and get to know your hiking pals.
There were times where things still went awry, even after all my planning. My booking for Standley Chasm for a cultural tour for the group fell through. Turns out their online booking system doesn’t work and even though I booked and paid I still had to pay again in cash. The first lesson learnt was to bring receipts for everything, because I couldn’t just go online to prove my purchase as the Wi-Fi they had specifically doesn’t work for iPhones. We were all iPhone users…
The second time things went awry was on the last day, when the transport company we were expecting to pick us up never arrived. Thankfully my Garmin InReach GPS had texting capabilities and I was able to get my partner, Eddy, to follow up with the transport company. Turns out they had the dates wrong (pick up the following day would have caused issue with our flights home), here we were at the end of the trail expecting an 11am pick up. Eddy was able to save the day by getting the company to arrange a later pick-up on the same day! Lesson two: check you have the correct dates and double check the transport company has those dates plus a copy of the itinerary from the company to make sure that it listed the with right dates.
After the trip was done and dusted, would I do it again? Yes, I would change very little of the trip, as for the most part it went well. I was in good company, there wasn’t a day where I wasn’t laughing with the women I was hiking with. You had to laugh at the difficult parts and reminisce about the highlights.
Jay Creek Three walled shelter
The experience from this trip has me eager to plan another longer distance trip. What do I have planned in the future? Bikepacking, the Hunt 1000 (ACT to VIC in 11 days through Alpine ranges) and 6 weeks on the Bibbulmun track (1000km hiking) in Western Australia.
We got up at 2:30am and leaving camp at 2:45am, the hike up to Mt. Sonder to watch the sunrise as part of our final goodbye to the beautiful trail we spent our 18 days living simply on. Arriving at the peak by 5:20am the wind was so cold that the layers we had on were not enough. Our fingers and toes were in pain as the cold wind bit through the material of our clothes. We were waiting for an hour and a half for the sunrise. As the rays of the sun began to peek from the horizon, many day tour group hikers started pouring through. They crowded around each other for warmth, making a lot of noise on top of a mountain waiting for the sunrise. By 7am the sun had mostly risen, we had taken enough selfies. We promptly left the noise of day tourists behind us walking down and watching the shadow of Mt. Sonder retreat from view.
Arriving back to camp at 9am, we packed all of our things and got ready for the car, we excitedly discussed what we would do once the bus picked us up. We could get food from Ormiston, and snacks from Standley as we retrieved our food drops. By that time, the bus was overdue and by thirty minutes. We realized there was a chance the bus might not come.
After a worried GPS text sent to Eddy, he checked and confirmed that the transport company thought they weren’t picking us up until tomorrow!
Eddy was able to get them to arrange transport for pick up at 2:30pm that day instead, as well as confirmed the hotel booking was on the correct date. Thankfully it was! I was greatful to have my InReach Explorer with the ability to send texts as there was no reception to contact the transport company.
The bus finally rolled in and we took full advantage of the stops to retrieve our tubs to also pick up our desired food. I, of course, went overboard with pie, coke, banana, and ice cream from Ormiston, then more ice cream from Standley Chasm.
Organising lessons for next time:
Print bookings receipts along with the itinerary for the trip