australia bikes climbing general hiking moosling trip reports

Australia Part 3: Arapiles days continued…

Wednesday was a chance to revisit my childhood of stomping about in the Grampians. Well, not exactly all of my childhood, but rather some highly valued and infrequent childhood trips to the Grampians. Trips that instilled a love of rock hopping, scrambling about on rocks, and getting to the top of mountains –  which my parents may have come to regret as I took to rock climbing and then disappeared to live in the Canadian Rockies.

We went to hike up the Pinnacle, overlooking Halls Gap – I had distant memories of it being fun, and involving plenty of rock hopping. I was right!

It was a warm day (by Canadian standards anyway) (actually, by Australian standards too judging by the state of some of the other people out hiking). Al and Lincoln joined us hiking, while Brendan was off on a gravel grinding loop through the Grampians.

The rocks were numerous, and highly hoppable – Finn took to it all with great pleasure. We explored in two caves, and stuck our head in a waterfall – all helpful to cool down. The details of Alex’s heritage as a cave dweller were explored more thoroughly (apparently this all started while they were climbing at Bushranger’s Bluff), as we explained to Finn that one of these caves was where Papa had grown up.

At the summit we found a pet cicada, then it was eaten by a crow, and a harsh life lesson was learned by all.

We even went and tried the nerve test, and discovered that we have no nerves, and were totally fine with that.

Then back down to the carpark, and it was time for icecream for all in Halls Gap!

Thursday brought a pleasantly relaxing morning, followed by some relaxing climbing in the shade with Cath and Adam. I even got to frolic through a field of daisies on one of the climbs! All of the rain has done wonders for some of the cliff vegetation.

Smudge wasn’t a fan of the unicorn, but was a fan of trying to devour things that anyone is holding, even if they are a unicorn.

Lured out to ride a bike one more time (it’s notoriously difficult to get me to go for a ride, it tends to be as difficult as just suggesting one), I rode up to the summit of Arapiles with Brendan once again. When there’s nothing but plains all around, it’s far and away the most obvious spot to go – and has the added benefit that you can actually see the sunset!

Sundowner beer successfully drunk (dranken? drinked?), it was back to Andy’s to catch the tail end of roast dinner and more catching up with Brett and Sair who had arrived that afternoon.

Friday morning we all hit the Organ Pipes, now climbing with Sair for the first time in absolutely years.

Fun climbing times done, we headed into town to hang out at the cafe (blanket couches!), then it was time for goodbyes. Again. This was the downside of the Australia trip.

The afternoon plan was to go and visit the Little Desert National Park. I was dubious. We arrived in the desert. It was full of trees and plants. I proclaimed that my parent’s farm looks like more of a desert than this. #worstdesertever!

All the recent rain did at least mean there were pretty flowers to look at. However, our attempts at doing the guided desert walk were a bit of a failure – there were lots of numbered posts, and an accompanying informational brochure, but the majority of the flora of note seemed to have died in the meantime.

The hand lizard enjoyed making its way around the desert though.

And there’s nothing quite like deserted desert roads for jump shots. And photo bombing apparently.

Saturday brought yet more goodbyes, as the NZ crew disappeared. Cath and I got one more climb in at the Organ Pipes though, so that was lovely.

The afternoon was gainfully spent lazing in trees, hiking to the summit of the mount with Al and Lincoln, and sitting about in the Horsham pool. And catching a Snorlax – there was a lot of Pokemon catching on this trip.

Then it was Sunday, and time to leave. But not before a final bike ride to the summit!  Andy and I rode together until we hit the Arapiles road, then he sent me off to sprint to the summit, which I had great fun doing, thoroughly exhausting myself (and getting a couple of QOMs, woo).

Final Arapiles farewells were said to Al and Lincoln, and then to Andy, Ying and Smudge, who we’d been staying with for the past week (and had loaned bikes, and entertained the Moosling with an endlessly fascinating collection of Lego Technic creations).

And so, onwards, with just one week left in Australia, the van hit the road once again.


i’m not a complete twit

On reconsidering the forecast on Friday night (and taking into account my sniffing nose), I came to the conclusion that the Grampians wasn’t the best place to be on the weekend – with a forecast of high winds, high temperatures, and lightning strikes, I decide I would spend my weekend somewhere that wasn’t a stinking hot bushfire breeding ground.

A wise move, with over 100,000 hectares now burnt in the Grampians area (no need to get started on the huge amounts of the rest of the state that are on fire), the campgrounds evacuated, roads into the national park closed, and Halls Gap and other towns under threat, as well as sections of the Western Highway being closed due to heavy smoke and poor visibility.

So instead I had a sedentary weekend, lazing around in houses with no air-conditioning, and seeking out water whenever I could, as the ‘mercury’ (as the newspapers insist on referring to it) reached over 40oC. On Sunday, we took to the sea at Elwood Beach, paddling our trusty craft a few hundred metres from shore and mooring ourselves at a buoy. We sat back, enjoyed our esky full of cool beverages, swam around, and enjoyed the view as the wind grew stronger, and the clouds grew darker. We were finally safe from the bushfires.

climbing general trip reports

when will the screaming stop?!

Memorable climb of the weekend – Basalisk Direct (16). The first 35 metres involves some unassuming looking climbing, that’s actually quite nice. The next 20 metres involves a thrutch through a chimney in a roof, with a 40 metre drop off to the ground below. Standing at the belay just below the roof, with my back to the cliff, I could look down to the ground, out to views over the Grampians, and up to my climbing partner, apparently (and at times, actually) wedged horizontally in a crack in the roof above me.

Captured after our ascent, a pair of English guys on the same climb:

Note the leader avoiding the fun part by dangling below the roof instead of squirming through the chimney like a little horizontal caving snake.

(Oh, and the post title – there was a Lunar New Year celebration on the road around the corner – the whole street was blocked off and filled with people selling food, with carnival rides, and with exciting carnival games. And apparently screaming is obligatory).

climbing general

a man, a plan, a canal

Not Panama, but the Grampians, and a pleasant 22 called Silvertop.




Rock at Bundaleer, Grampians.

No climbing this weekend. Sitting and waiting for phone calls about plane tickets. And vicious rain and humidity that makes my skin crawl. And testing out the new fish and chip shop down the round (conclusion, a bit too pricy).