Tag Archives: Australia

From 2018 into 2019 – An Australian Adventure: The Blue Mountains, and the end of the trip

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Friday and Saturday, 04-Jan & 05-Jan-2019

As is tradition, Sarah and I spent Christmas and New Years on an international adventure of epic proportions.  This year, the Lydecker clan (including myself and Henry’s girlfriend Leah) met up in the land down under, the magical land of Australia…

 

This last adventure was a bit focused on Sarah and I – You see, we like rock climbing.  It’s a bit of a hobby of ours, if you hadn’t heard, and when packing for our trip we’d included a few pieces of climbing gear… just in case we could escape the city and get a bit of climbing in.

Also please note, and give praise for the fact that… These climbs were Sarah’s first outdoor rock climbs since injuring her leg!!!  Major milestone to recovery!!!

In fact, that was part of the plan – Pack up a car, drive into the Blues, and get ourselves on some rocks.

So that’s what happened.  Please be warned – this section will have some rather specific details about the routes that we did.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy the extreme specifics.

 

Friday, 04-Jan

Let me start by saying that, while inflatable mattresses are excellent… They can have some downsides.  Such as when they pop in the middle of the night. Then we end up escaping and sleeping on the couch.

But that’s A-Okay, because then, once we wake up… well, then we pack up and get on the road!  Roadtrip with Henry and Leah!!!

There was some stress with fitting all the gear into the car, but thankfully success was had, and toward the Blue Mountains we went. The drive was pretty long, but we made it out without too much difficulty. Then Henry and Leah dropped us off, headed out into town, and Sarah and I descended into Blue Mountains climbing…

Even though the day was hot and the sun was bright, we were out of doors, and next to some beautiful rock.  It was good, and we got more than a few routes in, as shown below.  All of them were sport, with the exception of the two top-rope routes, due to the fact that we didn’t bring any trad gear along with us.  Trad is fun… but it’s also heavy.  Which is no bueno for international travel, unfortunately.

  • Captain Pugwash, Lead, 5.6 (13)
  • Three Sheets to the Wind, Lead, 5.5 (11)
  • Roger the Cabin Boy, Lead, 5.3 (9)
  • Until Death do us Part, Lead, 5.5 (12)
  • Manana, Top Rope, 5.7 (14)
  • Go Back to Switzerland, Lead, 5.5 (11)
  • I Only Eat Plankton, Top Rope, 5.8 (17)

The climbing itself was lovely, while being quite different from the States.  The rock was sandstone, and surprisingly weak – Instead of the hard sandstone that I’ve climbed before this almost felt like sand… it was gritty, but not in the same way worn granite is.

As an added challenge, not every “sport” route was open to us.  While “Sport” in the USA means that there are bolts and hangers for us to clip into, in Australia some of the sport routes simply have the bolts – you have to bring the hangers along with you.  Well, we didn’t have hangers.  So, we trusted our guidebooks, and stuck to the routes that came complete with hangers.

Also, another challenge: Australian summer.  It was hot.  Hot enough that we took a nap halfway through the day, in the shade.  We had more than enough water with us, but… yeah.  Hot sun is hot.

After climbing, we hiked all the way out to link up with Henry and Leah… in order to hike back in to watch the thunderstorms roll in from a gorgeous viewpoint above the valley.

After re-ascending (in the rain, this time… In my defense, it was Henry who said “The rain would be refreshing”, not me!) we packed into the car and got into town for dinner!

Since it was full though, we went to the pub first. Beer, calamari, garlic bread, and more beer was followed by going back to the restaurant, having a delicious pizza, and then heading to the AirBnB for some well-earned showers and some deep, deep sleep.

 

Saturday, 05-Jan

Another early morning… but that’s fairly critical when the weather hits the high 90s by noon.  And while the day before had been amazing… it had been a bit toasty, and our goal today was to get our climbing in early so that we could get back to Sydney before it got too late.

We got going, hit a cafe for some pies and coffee, and got dropped off at the trailhead again, lickity split.

Sarah and I descended in, after Henry and Leah headed out, choosing to walk along the cliff base in order to maximize our “gawking like fresh gym gumbies” time. We saw some of the routes that we’d planned on climbing mobbed by multiple groups, and so chose to keep wandering on.

As we walked, we ended up linking up with two other tourists who were heading to the same slab we were, so enjoyed some chatting / commiseration time as we walked – It was neat, chatting with another out-of-country couple who was in a similar boat to us.  They lived in China, but were visiting family in Sydney and had driven out for a few days of climbing before flying back home.  No matter where we live in the world, there’ll always be other people like us, I guess.

Anyways then we dove into the climbing!  Similar to the day before… but a little different.  These routes were more popular, and so weren’t quite as gritty as the previous ones.  They weren’t nearly as polished as climbs back in the States, but you could tell that they’d been loved.

  • Boatbuilding for Clancy, Lead, 5.7 (15)
  • Back to Back, Top Rope, 5.7 (14)
  • The Cat that Fought Back, Lead, 5.7 (14)
  • Statistical Scare Tactics, 5.10c, (20)

Quote of the day, “So the Beta for this is climb up to the crux, get tired, climb down, have a rest, then climb back up and make the move”

After burning out of Statistical Scare Tactics we hiked out via the direct-route, taking a set of fixed lines and rebar steps up the cliff side to the top. Then linked up with Henry and Leah (didn’t climb back down again, thankfully), and made the long drive back to Sydney.

Stopped at a Lebanese chicken place on the way in Palmatta, that had AMAZING chargrilled chicken, then got home to pack, relax, and chill. We didn’t quite stay in the house, though – decided to take a quick adventure down to one of the bars nearby – The Oaks! It was fun, getting a chance to just relax and have a drink in an old-school English-style pub, in the land down under. An excellent send off, from an excellent trip.

From 2018 into 2019 – An Australian Adventure: Sydney the second

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Monday through Thursday, 31-Dec-2018 through 03-Jan-2019

As is tradition, Sarah and I spent Christmas and New Years on an international adventure of epic proportions.  This year, the Lydecker clan (including myself and Henry’s girlfriend Leah) met up in the land down under, the magical land of Australia.

 

After coming back to Sydney from Fitzroy, we all had a few days to spend together before Bill and Greta had to head back home to Scotland.  Keeping it simple, we focused on exploring Sydney itself, and getting a chance to see Henry and Leah’s home turf.  It was amazing – Sydney is a massive city, full of amazing buildings and great food.  It’s a really cool urban center, and a great place to spend a few days exploring and experiencing…

 

Monday, 31-Dec

Goal of the day: Australian Museum!

We did get to sleep in a bit, thanks to how late our flight got in, but afterward we headed into the city and explore the big natural history museum. It’s similar to the British Museum, in that it had lots of cool artifacts from Aussie history, though it was pretty focused on European history. They did have one exhibit on Aboriginal culture, but it was honestly fairly sparse… Still interesting, but I was a bit sad that there wasn’t more about the native culture and history.

From some research that I did in the evening though… that spareness was probably very intentional.  As any Australian could tell you, there’s a very strained relationship between the Native Australians and the European cultures.  Which has evolved into Aboriginal culture being kept… almost secret?  It’s not particularly well known, and more is being learned literally every day.

Baseline?  I’ve gained a new interest, and a new thing to read books about.

Afterward, we head back to the AirBnB to get ready for our fancy New Years Eve dinner!

We showered, got all kinds of dressed up, and headed out to an amazingly cool restaurant that Henry and Leah had booked us a table at: Ormaggio on the Spit.  It was a sort of Italian / Spanish fusion, though if I recall it was primarily billed as a contemporary Italian place.  Whatever the name, there was a wicked fancy tasting dinner, with matched wine.  Delicious, and definitely much fancier than I think I’ve ever had before.  And, of course, all the while we were watching the yachts outside roll in the wind, as lightening arced over the harbor.

After dinner, since it was still a ways before midnight, we all headed back to Henry and Leah’s house to watch the countdown, have champagne, and ring in the new year!

 

Tuesday, 01-Jan

New Years day!  Art Gallery of New South Wales! Festival goers!

We started the day with our usual yogurt and granola breakfast, though it was a fair bit later than usual thanks to the New Years eve revels of the evening before.  I mean, we didn’t go as crazy as it seemed like the rest of Sydney had, but still.  An excuse to sleep in a bit, right?

We took the bus down into the central business district, and… whoa. It’s New Years Day.  And New Years Day in Sydney meant that there was a music festival going on, which meant that there’s a constant stream of revelers passing us, in revelry electronica music festival outfits.

They were… interesting.  I don’t think the stream of people stopped, or even slowed, at all the whole time we were there.  And more impressively, I don’t think that we saw a single outfit more than once… with the exception of the three guys all wearing matching spongebob-yellow shorts and shirts.

Our main goal of the day was the Sydney Art Museum – The Art gallery was definitely very cool, but it left me wanting to know more about aboriginal culture… Much of the art was European focused, and the pieces that were Native Australian were far too arcane for me to understand. They were interesting, but extremely abstract.

There were some european-style landscapes that were gloriously amazing though – ones that I’d absolutely say were some of the best landscapes that I’ve ever seen. Afterward, we had a lovely lunch of dumplings, explored the Central Business District, and then had a low-key dinner at Henry and Leah’s house – amazing roast chicken and rice!

 

Wednesday, 02-Jan

Bill and Greta’s last day in Australia 😦

Up early, have some yogurt, and take a bus to Balmoral Head, a really cool park overlooking the harbor, right near Leah’s office.  We wandered around, took photos, and hung out as a group.  It was a pretty impressively gorgeous area, and was a perfect relaxing outside walk after the last two days of museums.

 

We had brunch at a quite chic brunch place right on the water, before marching back up the hill to get a bus back to the house!  I’m not joking – We’re talking a San Francisco-level hill here, in full Sydney summer heat.  All those calories that we’d eaten at brunch?  Yep.  Burned.

Bill and Greta finish packing, and then we all relax and visit for a while until they have to get the Uber to the airport. Boo!

After they head out, Sarah and I rest and nap for a while at the house, and then meet up with Henry and Leah for coffee and brisket pie. Pie… Afterward, we head into the city for some quick exploring, specifically around “The Rocks”, sort of the tourist/docks area of the city.

We have dinner at an Indonesian place, which is freaking amazing, and then had dessert at “Choc Pot”, which is basically lava cakes of doom. Then some more people watching, and window shopping, including a creepy Otaku Japanese restaurant where you can pay the waitresses to take pictures with you. But we didn’t eat there.  We ate at a place called Choc Pot.  They had pots of chocolate.  It was exactly what you’d expect… except with more chocolate.  And I expected a lot of chocolate.

Then we took a bus home and sleeeeeeeped.

 

Thursday, 03-Jan

Wake up, clean up the AirBnB, head over to Henry and Leah’s house. After a quick cup of coffee, us and Henry head out to Toronga Zoo!!

We explore, see lots of awesome animals, and Henry tags tons of brush turkeys on his app. Have a quick snack of chicken fingers, aww yeah. Then we take the ferry across the harbor to Sydney, which is awesome, and then the train to the University District.

We explore, wander, meet Leah, and have lunch at “Spice Alley”, and then explore and wander around the University of Sydney. Lots of cool buildings, very old-school European. Then head into the city to wander and explore!

We finally check out Kinokuniya – It’s a huge bookstore, with tons of comic books, and no climbing books, but also a lot of art books and a TON of Japanese manga. It was really cool, and I found a ton of new comics that I want to read sometime soon.

Then we made a questionable decision, and let Sarah go explore a stationary store… Which very quickly lead to Sarah getting trapped in a stationary store, where I ended up people watching for a while until she escapes.

Then a bit of wandering and photography, followed up with food shopping for dinner (Pizza and takeaway Indian) along with shopping for climbing lunches! Then back to Henry and Leah’s house, cook, relax, and bed semi-early so we can rest up for the next step in our amazing adventures!

From 2018 into 2019 – An Australian Adventure: Fitzroy Island

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Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 27-Dec through 30-Dec-2019

As is tradition, Sarah and I spent Christmas and New Years on an international adventure of epic proportions.  This year, the Lydecker clan (including myself and Henry’s girlfriend Leah) met up in the land down under, the magical land of Australia.

 

Waking up in Cairns, our first order of business was to get ourselves to the docks, to begin the first big adventure of the trip – visiting Fitzroy Island on the Great Barrier Reef!

To warn you, there was one small issue with our trip to Fitzroy… See, Fitzroy is a beautiful tropical paradise, surrounded by coral, with warm clear water and blue skies.  Except when there’s a cyclone hitting the reef.  Then, it’s a beautiful tropical paradise island, covered in rain forest, with interesting trails to hike on.

But we’d planned on exploring the reef, which as I mentioned was currently being hit by a cyclone.  Which is Australian for a Monsoon.  Which is South Pacific for Hurricane.  Which is East Coast for “it’s a right big storm, it is!”.  But would 3ft visibility stop me?  No!  No I say!  I still snorkeled with the best of them!  Which was easy, because no one else was crazy enough to snorkel during a cyclone!

 

Thursday, 27-Dec

Early boat ride to Fitzroy, then hang out for a while as they finish getting our rooms ready.

Hike a bit of the Summit track with Greta, swim a small bit, and learn that I’m impressively bad at snorkling.  Like, really bad.  Impressively, terrifyingly bad.  So Sarah and I Snorkeled in the pool for a bit, which was fun.  Trivia fact: we both look awesome in swim suits.

Why did we have full-body swim suits, you may ask?  Well, this is jellyfish season.  There’s the Man-o-War jellies, which have 3meter long stingers that are sort-of pretty deadly.  But there’s also the Irukandji jellyfish, which is clear, and roughly the size of your thumbnail.  They’re both deadly.  The Irukandji is actually the most venemous jellyfish in the world!  And it’s tiny and effectively invisible!

So we wear stinger suits.  Not only are they a truly amazing fashion statement (not sarcasm, fyi.  I looked awesome), but they protect you from the jellies should they be nearby.  Of course, if there’s any evidence of the jellyfish then the resort would warn everyone to stay out of the water….

Anyways.  Then we Had dinner at Foxy’s (the lounge at the resort), and played the first round of trivia.  It was extremely pop-culture, and since none of us were any good at that…. we turned in and got an early evening.

 

Friday, 28-Dec

Sarah and I do the summit track, out to the lighthouse, after having breakfast in the dining room.

Then do a little more attempted swimming while Sarah relaxes and paints on the beach. I… almost get capable of it!  Slowly, the rock climber learns to enjoy the water!

Then back to the room to cook up some kangaroo stirfry!  Sarah and I cooked, and I’d like to think that we cooked pretty well!

 

Saturday, 29-Dec

Hike out to Nudey beach, which is not actually a nude beach.  They’re very adamant about that, with quite a few signs making mention.  That’s just the name of the beach, okay?

Explore to the “Secret garden”, which isn’t really much of a garden.  But it is a hike in, so I guess it fits with the “secret” aspect?

Then I swim around some more, actually getting almost good at this whole snorkling thing!  Take some more pictures… but still not much to be seen.  I did have a friend, though!  My stinger suit had yellow trim, and this little fish decided that I was his fish-bro, since he’s yellow too. Fish-bro swam next to me the whole time, hanging out and flipping around.

Dinner is at the main restaurant, which is quite lovely!  We eat, we drink, we laugh, and we enjoy ourselves as the rain lashed at the windows.  It was chilly… but honestly really impressive to see the storm over the ocean, and watch the mainland vanish as the storm rolled in.

 

Sunday, 30-Dec

Our last day on Fitzroy 😦

I swim for a while in the morning after we check out from our rooms, and finally see coral! It’s terrifying, because it appears out of the murky depths, but is still beautiful.  Seriously, I freaked out so many times… I had the best visibility to date, but it was still less than 6 ft, and so I’d look left for 2 seconds, and then look straight and see this monster looming ahead of me.  I’d freak out, splash around a bit, and then realize it was just kelp, or something.

But it was lovely, and I got the best pictures of the trip.  So that’s a good thing.

Then we get the ferry back, had some lunch, got on a plane, and flew home to Sydney! It was definitely a long flight, but it wasn’t bad.  And since we layed over in Brisbane we were able to have some awesome tex-mex as a little taste of home!