Monday, August 15, 2011

Weekend at Binna Burra

Smithy and I headed off to Binna Burra this weekend for two days of camping and bush walking. We arrived mid morning on Saturday after a glorious drive in bright winter sunshine. I took my iPad along and plugged it into the little gizmo that allows us to play an iPod through the car stereo. The fact that I could surf the web, Tweet and update Facebook as we cruised down the highway to the soulful sounds of Renee Geyer made the journey just that much sweeter.

After setting up camp and having some lunch, we spent the afternoon exploring some of the short walks we hadn't done before - the Tallawallai Circuit, the Loop Circuit and the Bellbird Circuit. Very enjoyable. We then headed up to the Teahouse for a glass of wine. Well, it was Happy Hour!

Back at the campsite it was getting chilly, so we got a fire going and with a few more glasses of wine to go with our dinner, settled in for a evening by the fire, before clambering into our very snug bed for a good night's sleep before a big day of bushwalking.

My alarm woke us up Sunday morning and we reluctantly got out of bed and began making a cup of coffee. It was surprisingly dark for 7am, but lots of birds were singing and it promised to be a lovely day. We had breakfast, went and brushed our teeth, came back and made another cuppa. We were planning on being on the trail by 8.30am but when Smithy asked for a time check, to my astonishment it was only 7.10! How did that happen? Uh-oh. I had turned the wrong alarm on! Setting it for 6am, instead of the intended 7am. Oops!

So, at 7.35am, we hauled on our packs and hit the trail. The upside to such an early start? There's no-one else on the trail, which means lots of wildlife is still around. We spotted lots of pademelons (cute little wallaby-type animals) and lots of birds flitted across the trail - too fast for us to identify, unfortunately. The highlight of the day - indeed, the weekend - was when we encountered a young koala climbing a tree not 10 feet away from us. It was the first wild koala sighting for both Smithy and me, so we were both very excited.

New growth glowing like a jewel in the sunlight

Our plan for the day was to hike the Mt Hobwee Circuit, which we had not done before. Instead of coming back via the Border Track, as described in the walk notes, we decided to come back along the Coomera Circuit to avoid retracing our steps. It meant an extra few kilometres to the walk but we figured it would be worth it. We pretty well had the trail to ourselves and spent a glorious morning traipsing along through spectacular rainforest. The air was filled with the constant call and reply of whipbirds, as well as the chitterings of countless unseen birds. Just lovely. We were making really good progress and were surprised that it was only 10.30am when we reached the summit of Mt Hobwee. At this rate, we would be back in camp by early afternoon! After stopping to take a couple of photos, we headed back down to rejoin the main trail (this was the only part of the trail where we had to backtrack - and it was downhill all the way) which we followed until the junction with the Coomera Circuit trail. We were still feeling good, so decided to take the slightly longer way home via the Coomera Circuit, stopping at a picturesque waterfall for a well-earned lunch at 11.15am. We planned to have a leisurely lunch, basking in the sun, but the sudden arrival of some rather large clouds put paid to that as the temperatures quickly dropped and we got going again after only 15 minutes or so, already feeling chilled.

Smithy (r) and me on the summit of Mt Hobwee

Our next landmark was the Coomera Falls, but first we had to negotiate numerous river crossings. Luckily, the water levels were a lot lower than the last time we hiked the Coomera Circuit back in May, so we didn't get our feet wet. We did get a bit cold though, as we were heading downhill and couldn't walk fast enough to keep warm! Perverse beings that we were, we were looking forward to getting to the Falls as it meant we would then be walking uphill for a few kilometres, thus warming us up again!

They do say to be careful what you wish for as, after a short rest and a quick snack of nuts at the Coomera Falls, the trail went up and up and up for seemingly forever! We were both feeling a little weary and footsore by this time and kept hoping the next bend would reveal the bench that marked the junction with the Border Track that meant we only had 1.9km to go. But, no such luck. The trail just kept on and on and on. Eventually, of course, we did reach that bench and what a welcome sight it was! Hooray! We only had to walk for another half an hour and we would be back at our camp. Well, that was a very long 1.9km, let me tell you and we were never so happy as when we got to the end of the trail at just after 2.30pm. It had taken us a smidgeon under seven hours to hike 23 kilometres, which was a pretty good effort, we thought.

Our planned reward was another night by the fire, after a well-earned shower, of course. But, just as we were about to organise the fire, it began raining and didn't stop for several hours. So we spent the evening zipped into our annex, reading our books, drinking wine and listening to the sound of rain on our canvas roof as a storm rumbled overhead.

No alarms this morning, but we still woke fairly early and were up and about just after 7am. We had been concerned that we would have to pack the campertrailer up wet, so were very pleasantly surprised to find it relatively dry. To give it some more time to dry out, we went and walked the Tallawallai and Loop Circuits again before coming back an hour and a half later to start packing up camp at a very leisurely pace. By 10.30am we were on the road and heading home after another excellent weekend at one of our favourite places.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Impulsive? Moi? Never!

I bought an iPad 2 recently. I hadn't intended buying an iPad at all. In fact, I had originally gone out to get three photographs enlarged. Because I was planning on getting them done on canvas, I went to Harvey Norman, where I soon learned that canvas prints take two weeks. That was no good, as I needed the photos in three days time, so I settled for getting some standard enlargements instead. While I was waiting, I overheard a staff member talking to a customer about some gadgets in a nearby bin. Being bit of a stickybeak, I wandered over to see what they were talking about. PC-free slide scanning gizmos. Ooh, I thought, Smithy would love one of those. She's got a gazillion slides she wants to digitize. And sure, we've got a whole setup at home where she can do that but it needs the computer and the scanner and it's SLOW. This little gizmo could do two types of negatives as well as slides too. So I bought it, collected my photo enlargements and headed home.

Smithy did like the slide scanning gizmo. When she opened it up, there was a little promo card inside with a Win an iPad offer, so we got talking about iPads. I really liked the idea of them but didn't understand how they worked and wasn't sure I needed one. I've got a laptop after all, right? Anyway, the promo card wasn't the only thing we discovered in the slide scanning gizmo box. We also found out it was missing the one component I had bought the gizmo for - the slide bracket. Instead it had two 35mm negative brackets. We tried fitting a slide into the film bracket, but no go. There was nothing for it but to package it back up and return to Harvey Norman.

When we got there, Smithy saw that they sold iPads. Reasoning that we might as well learn a thing or two about them while we were there, we got given a demonstration by a very helpful young man. The one feature that sold it for me, apart from its general all-round cleverness, was its 10 hour battery life. My laptop has a sucky 1 and a bit hours, which makes it next to useless for taking anywhere there's no power. Unfortunately for the young salesman, there were no more 32G models with wi-fi and 3G in stock. He very helpfully told us that Big W and David Jones also sell iPads, so off we went. Big W didn't have any in stock either, nor did David Jones. But DJ did have some 64G models in stock - three, in fact. Hmmm. They were $110 dearer than the 32G model, but twice the capacity. Wotthehell, in for a penny, in for a pound. I'll take one, I said. I even got a choice of colour. So, now I'm the proud owner of a little black iPad 2. Those three photos turned out to be rather expensive in the end!