The Back of Beyond

Day 6…. Waipohatu Falls tramping track 4 miles 3 hour return loop through typical catlins bush to two waterfalls, 6miles west of Curio Bay. Beautiful clear blue skies without the ever present howling wind for this, our first more strenuous walk.

We started from the picnic area following the designated pathway, first through dense forest, over a track bridge, out into an open grassy footpath and back into dense forest, where the real uphill  challenge would shortly start, following a stream through the thick Catlins bush.

Long-sufferings smiling face soon changed dramatically with the exertion of steep climbs, many steps, and some uneven, muddy, barely passable ground although the fern logs laid across the paths did alleviate most of the mud. Clothes were discarded left, right and centre as sweating man returned. A foot slide along a damp tree root, arms flailing, only a neighbouring tree saved him from the forest floor. Not so his muse as dodgy leg crumpled on a particularly high step, sending me down instead! In spite of these almost mishaps the ‘tramp’ was well worth the effort.

A spur track led us down to the two very different falls, the tracks to each in opposite directions but just five minutes apart. The higher fall was partly obscured by trees and vegetation…..

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Whereas the lower fall could be seen in all its spectacular glory cascading, foaming as it plunged downward.

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We viewed the fall from a boardwalk set back beyond a shallow, rushing run of water over rocks, stone and dead tree trunk.

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of course the long-suffering had to cross this for his best shot while the muse stayed put with the surplus kit!

The walk was surprisingly quiet, only one other couple did we meet along the way, giving the illusion we really were in the back of beyond!

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Waipapa Point Lighthouse, southernmost lighthouse on the South Island…. we took the short walk from the car park to the lighthouse and then down to the beach area and exposed reefs. 

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The lighthouse was built after the tragic 1881 shipwreck of the ‘Tararua’ where 131 out of 151 passengers died 1km off shore. Information panels document this tragedy, the early history of the lighthouse and its keepers. 

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We strolled the rugged reefs and beach area, there were plenty of tourists but the sea-lions were absent.

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A notice board warning we were in a Tsunami Hazard Zone gave us both a reality check. Two scuba divers emerged from the sea carrying their supper in the form of large meaty looking snails that apparently made good mince!

Last Light Lodge Tuatapere, our stop for the night…. A lovely, friendly powered site with freshly laid eggs, and wonderful baked bread to purchase amongst other seasonal delights as well as a cafe/bar to eat and relax in.

Although mid afternoon when we arrived, the still clear blue skies and warm sun meant laundry was washed and then dried on our handy rope line. We sat out in shorts and t.shirts with a couple of cold beers enjoying a perfect spring afternoon.

Later it was my turn to cook – it mostly is – today’s offering was Prawn curry with a side of mini Naan bread.

Day 7…. A head in hands moment from Long-suffering started our day as he realised the dirty water hose – his department – had been left two overnight stops 320 miles away. All the placating ‘it is not just your fault, I could have checked too’ did nothing to lift his mood. Luckily our site hosts had a level paddock and pliers for the valve and were happy to allow our wash up water to drain straight from the van.   Though fully insured against ‘grey’ moments such as these it was embarrassing having to make the call to Wilderness none the less, not helped by our next destination – one of the remotest places in New Zealand – Milford sound where we would be off grid for at least two days. In the event a replacement pick up point was arranged and we were free to continue on our way. Lesson learned, a dump station tick list was written. 

Leisurely drive to Milford Sound, beautiful and scenic as the winding roads led nearer and nearer to the snow covered mountains.

We made a brief stop first in Te Anau. In contrast to the previous day the rain and wind was back with a vengeance. We walked into town to stretch our legs, for a spot of window shopping and food supplies. We did make one purchase …an umbrella!

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D.O.C. Cascade Creek…. our freedom camp spot for the night. We arrived here with the rain still falling, but nestled as we were below snowy capped mountains it mattered not. There were brief windows of dry in between the showers, enough for Long-suffering and his lens to do battle with the ever present sandflies alongside Cascade Creek. A beautiful, peaceful location to end a day that began so stressful!

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Snow days in Spring!

We are snowed in! Our rural village in a Valley makes driving conditions hazardous if not impossible madness. Luckily the long-suffering came home early from London on Wednesday evening his man-flu all the excuse he needed to beat the forecasters warnings of heavy snow.

This morning armed with a ruler he walked out the back door to measure the extent of the recent snowfall before diligently clearing the front path for me the resident hippie. The snow had drifted off the paving slabs last night and the ‘freezing rain’ had landed causing a skating rink effect. The long-suffering showed off his agility as he ice-danced his way to the gate. It turns out he had a depth of 16cm to clear.

Once the pathway was clear we both ventured out on foot to explore this winter wonderland while it lay still, pristine and relatively untouched except for the milkmans cart and a few tracks of hungry wildlife searching for food.

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The ground beneath as our feet crashed and crunched down through the thick ice covering the powdery snow below, made for difficult walking. Our feet sinking with every step, we marched rather than walked. Every raise of our feet sent slivers of ice  skimming across the surface the smaller shards tinkling as they went.

Without the benefit of any sunshine, the grey skies and cold winds caused instant wind chill against any exposed skin although for the most part we had it covered. It was left to me to provide the sunshine and contrast against all this white and grey, as a marker/muse for the long-sufferings photographic hobby in my sunshine yellow coat.

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and some from me….

 

Back home Whats App went into overdrive, the first photos – arriving from our son were quite alarming – ‘snow in the loft’ and required an immediate phone call to check all was well!

It was, apparently normal, for an Edwardian house exposed to the elements. My son and daughter-in-law still have a water tight roof just not under the eves if the wind is blowing the wrong way!

The next photos from the renamed family The House at Mole Hall……

formally at ‘The house of two halves’ was a more pleasant perusal. Grandchildren out playing in the deep snow!

IMG_2777IMG_2780IMG_2779IMG_2778The recent snow then, inconvenient for most, but great fun and free entertainment in the great outdoors!

 

Buses, Ferries, Coastal Walk, Gondola ride, Zoo with a Spicy ending too!

Day 3 – After a good nights sleep and hearty breakfast we were back out front of our  hotel ready for the long-sufferings planned itinerary – fine tuned by the very helpful Concierge waving us off from the lobby!

For the first time since arriving we turned right out of our hotel and up the hill away from the harbour to catch a bus north to Coogee Beach.  After 19,000 + steps worth of  walking the previous day our legs were still feeling slightly fatigued.

The bus journey to Coogee Beach was almost the same journey our daughter from the house of two halves in Cyprus had taken ten years previous during her own travels in the ‘Sunshine State’. And now here we were following in her footsteps!

IMG_1257Coogee Beach was our start point for the 6km clifftop coastal walk to the famous Bondi Beach.

 

A medium effort walk along paved paths, some boardwalk’s, steps and steep inclines awaited us as the trail snaked and hugged the sandstone cliffs affording stunning panoramic views and beautiful beaches to stop at along the way.

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IMG_1265Clovelly Beach

 

Gordons Bay – small, tucked away between Coogee and Clovelly, the tiny rocky beach covered with boats reminding us of a small Cornwall fishing cove.

 

Waverley Cemetery – here we were rerouted away from the coastal path due to a wild storm in June 2016 causing a landslip, buckling the board walk with it. A temporary route took us on a straight path through the famous state listed cemetery opened in 1877. Had it not been for the diversion we would not have experienced the real beauty in this graveyard with its huge sculptural memorials and crypts. I can think of no better place of rest than high up towards the sky overlooking the beautiful blue of the ocean as far as the eye can see.

 

Bronte Beach – surfs up!

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BONDI SURFER-1Bondi Beach – The view as we rounded the last corner was spectacular of this famous beach.

 

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IMG_1280Once on ground level we were on the beach discarding our walking shoes for the soft sand between our toes. We were slightly overdressed although this I think was a blessing given the competition all around!

 

Bus to…Watsons Bay – walk and steps up to Gap Bluff viewpoint. Lookout from tall ocean cliffs facing the Tasman Sea affording stunning panoramic views. Peering over and down from the safety of the angled barriers onto the rocky platform and crashing waves constantly pounding the rocks below it is hard to believe people would willingly throw themselves over the top to an almost certain death. Sadly like our own Beachy Head The Gap is now synonymous for the horror of suicide as well as the Beauty of its location.

 

A short walk through the park down to the wharf short stop for chips and cold beers before our Ferry arrived to whisk us off to…….

 

Taronga Zoo – after many weeks of all things high up the long-suffering has – whilst still not cured – become slightly less uptight about the whole ‘scared of heights scenario’. Just as well, as on arrival at Taronga we were offered the option of the Gondola to the top of the zoo! The photo opportunities this afforded swung the decision in favour, much to my amusement!

 

The zoo opened in 1916 and covers a vast area of 69 acres and houses 4000+ animals of which we only managed to see a small percentage. Nevertheless in the two hour time frame we had before it closed for the day a lot of ground was covered – including ground covered twice due in part to my useless sense of direction!

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Back down at the bottom our ferry was there waiting for the crossing back to Circular Quay and the now familiar steep walk back up to our hotel.

 

After a short rest, refreshing showers, quick change and we were ready for some food.

IMG_1275Walking back down the hill for eats, the Spice Room took our fancy and although busy we were squeezed in at a recently vacated table for two. Here we enjoyed good food – a shared buffet for two – lovely atmosphere and charming service… the perfect wind down to another hectic day. 20,624 steps and counting 15.56km and we still had to step back up the hill!

Tomorrow day 4 would sadly be our final day in Sydney and Australia……….