My footsteps along Flour Cask Bay. Remote. Silent. Peaceful. My kind of beach. Did I mention there was a dead sealion washed up on the beach?
Grass in the evening at Kingscote, near our campsite. Another deserted beach.
Seal Bay Conservation Park. The sea lions actually come out shore and take refuge amongst the vegetation. It reminded me of the shire of the Lord of the Rings.
Swans at sunset, near our campsite at Kingscote. I saw pelicans in the evening when the sunset and wanted to get a shot of one flying. When I went to the beach, there were no pelicans, but instead four swans mingling around the beach. I love this shot.
King George Beach. That’s me. I had to do a rock scramble to get there.
Kangaroo Island Kangaroo. Different subspecies from Mainland Kangaroos in South Australia.
Tammar Wallaby. Rare outside Kangaroo Island. Adorable little creatures.
Seals near Admiral’s Arch. Despite the hype about this location I did not find it that great. Was smelly. Still, my sister and father were really delighted from the appearance of the black seal pups. Little tadpoles that cuddled next to their mothers.
Father and Sister. Funfact: Sometimes I can go up to a year without seeing her. Or talking to her. Yeah.
The lighthouse near Admiral’s Arch. I think.
My father. I have never seen him so happy!
Emerald blue waters. At the end were 2 fishermen and the most amusing little dog.
This was taken moments after we got to Kangaroo Island. My father was just marvelling at the beauty of the golden fields (and pretending to be a scarecrow). We noticed there was a stench, though.
Turns out there was a Kangaroo slain, lying amongst the grass. Yikes. Looked creepily human.
Pelicans at Kingscote. A guy comes and feeds them everyday in the evening. I would not want his job.
Remarkable rocks. Sculpted by the wind over millions and millions of years, to render so specific a form.
Remarkable rocks. They are really quite spectacular. To think they have seen more of earth than the entire human race. Amazing.
Remarkable Rocks, slope to the ocean.Its great to get there before everyone else. You have the whole site of (Remarkable Rocks) to yourself.
Sea gull. This one is special and has an special story behind it! NSFI.
A bigger Sealion squabbles with a little one. Seal Bay Conservation Park. Its worth the money to pay to see them upclose.
Its not mentioned much on the guidebooks, but King George’s Beach really has some of the nicest photo-taking opportunities. This one of the arch is one of my favourites. I tried to get there, but I couldn’t.
More rocks. I love the vibrant orange.
Dad with rocks. Highlights of the trip. Worthwhile to watch the old man have fun.
Sea cliffs at Cape Borda. Kangaroo Island has such beautiful scenery.
I haven’t been to Flinders Ranges National Park yet, but for now, this is my favourite part of South Australia. Hands down.
The Silent Giant (Pictures Below)
At 1986 metres, Mount Bogong towers above every other mountain in Victoria.
It is seven in the evening. Daylight is fading. We trudge away from the safety of our Toyota Yaris, our home for the last 355 kilometres. The goal is simple. Ascend to the summit through the night. Plonk our tent at the summit plateau. Watch the sunrise and fire away with our cameras.
The walk begins in a forest, lined by lush vegetation. We cross several streams with bridges that are thoughtfully built for the bootless and hydrophobic. The path is flat and wide, lined with car tracks and the occasional clumps of horse manure. Before long, a well-worn sign to our right informs us that we are at the base of Staircase Spur.The route earns its name from its steepness – there are no stairs whatsoever. We put our weight forward and trudge on. We stop. We climb a hundred metres. We stop. Repeat.
Our thighs and calves are burning. Darkness, accompanied by a herd of black clouds has come to claim the mountain. The forest whispers, moans and creaks, heralding their arrival. Soon, streaks of lightning crack the sky, and a downpour ensues. How much longer? The website told us it would take just four hours to reach the 1986m summit. During that same amount of time we have been stuck in a muddy hell with no end in sight. Our grumbling gives way to silence when the path abruptly levels and we find ourselves staring at a menacing wooden structure.
Uninhabited and void of any life, Bivouac Hut (1,500m) is the hut in a slasher film – its windows are dark and soulless. I can imagine a corpse lying in there, and a serial killer watching us from amongst the bushes, biding his time. Yet, the furious forces of wind and rain leave us no choice. I take one deep breath and step into the hut. The rest follow, without saying a word.
Our initial impression remains unchanged. It is dark, having no form of illumination. Our small tungsten lantern fixes that. Only then do we see the two saws hanging from nails. And the brownish axe that lies conveniently beside the fireplace. Our minds are changed only when we open the cabinets: fellow travellers have left behind biscuits, food and sleeping bags as an act of goodwill in the shelves and cabinets.
Satisfied with the general safety of the hut, we dump ourselves on the floor to catch a breather and read the numerous declarations of love and arrival(John was here) carved on the walls. There are sounds of bewilderment as I pull my laptop out of my pack, but an episode of How I Met Your Mother and some granola bars calms everyone’s nerves.
Their twisted carcasses glow an eerie white under the moonlight and flank us on both sides. A graveyard of snow-guns, victims of a forest fire in 2003. Good sign. No other tree in the region is capable of growing at above 1,500m. We are close now. The trail is less steep. We quicken our pace. An uplifting breeze and the constellations are good distractions for the eyes. For the first time, the ascend starts to become enjoyable. The mountain has finally come to terms with our presence.
Gorge gap. We have reached the treeline. Ahead of us are two hills, one of them most certainly leads to the summit. It is quiet as we turn to look behind us. Far, far away, a tiny sprinkling of lights marks the town of Mt. Beauty. In the darkness, the lifeless snowgums we just passed masquerade as the Great Wall Of China, forming a white snake that slithers across the mountains, stretching to as far as the eye can see.
Our dreams of catching the sunrise have went downhill. We have lost sight of the snow poles that mark the track. Not willing to risk injury in the dark, we decide to make the best of our situation and set up camp. We pick an area sheltered by some rocks. I spend the next four hours snug and warm in my sturdy two-man tent, unbothered by the occasional gust of wind. It is the only time I am thankful I lugged 3.2 kilograms up.
Stirred by the cold in their bivvy sacks, my companions were first to see the morning sun. Awakened by their oohsand ahhs, I force myself to emerge from my tent. It is five degrees outside, but the blistering wind manages to invade the warmth of my jacket. Still, it is worth it. An orange glow peeks from behind an array of mountains adrift on wisps of pale cotton. We have got what we come for after all.
Eager to reach the summit, we leave our gear behind and head for the trail, now marked clearly by the snow poles revealed by sunlight. It is a good decision. The final climb to the summit is the shortest, but also the rockiest and steepest. Even without the weight of our packs, we find ourselves stopping frequently.
The summit plateau of Mount Bogong is dotted with small yellow alpine flowers growing haphazardly. Green beetles shimmer under the glow of the sun. Except for the lone hawk circling above, the entire mountain belongs to us. My tent is a blue speck on a hill of green. Knees sore, the wind stubbornly fights us with every step as we slowly strive towards the highest point. True to Mount Bogong’s obscurity, a nondescript pile of rocks with a wooden pole in the middle marks the spot. There is no information plaque. No words to congratulate us. No benches. No prescribed look-out spots.
Ironically, after walking 10 hours to escape from civilisation, our first instinct is to attempt a check-in at Facebook. Miraculously, one phone has spotty reception (well done Telstra!) and the four of us crowd around it excitedly as our companion begins searching for our location. Facebook, being Facebook, attempts to predict our location with autofill.
“Mt Hotham. 22,400 were here.”
“Not thats not it. Scroll down.”
“Down, down some more.”
“Ah, there it is.”
The Mount Bogong summit cairn.
180 people were here.
Tent: Eureka Mountain Lite 2 (3.2 kg) – Heavy, but performed well in the wind.
Backpack: Rogisi 65l Backpack – Adequate. Might need some cushioning on the shoulders.
Shoes: Timberland Classics (Kids version, haha, I have small feet) – Despite not being dedicated hiking boots, really comfortable!
Jacket: Some Wintertime Jacket from Singapore. – Sufficiently warm
GPS: Bushnell Backtrack - Miscalculated the trip distance by 1.5 km to read as 9.5 km. Otherwise useful to judge altitude and temperature and provide some form of direction.
Before I jumped right in and bought my Eureka Mountain Lite 2, I’ve had done very little research on tents. All I knew that there was very little information about it in the internet. I also figured that it was an obsolete model, given that a new model, the Eureka Mountain Pass 2XE appears in the same color. Why would you bother with the Lite 2 then? Well, for starters, the Lite 2 is remarkably cheap. I got mine for a mere $124 when it was on clearance at Mountain Designs in Melbourne. It also weighs 3.2 kilograms, which is heavy by most standards, but still lighter than its successor (3.5 kg).
Setup: Setting it up is easy and I figured it out the first time, taking around five minutes to do so. Two tent poles cross each other to raise the inner fly, before the outer fly is draped over it. The attachment points for the outer-fly to the inner-fly are colour-coded. It is a free-standing tent, so thats a plus if you are very poor at site selection.
Space: This tent is incredibly roomy. It could comfortably fit three people of small stature (which I am 5 ft 3′). I think two average-sized adults still would find it rather comfortable.
Vestibules: The Mountain Lite 2 can comfortably store 65l backpacks and a pair of boots in each of its two vestibules. There is more than enough room to cook.
Interior storage: There is a small compartment for gear storage, but no gear loft.
Ventilation: Because of its copious amounts of no-see-um mesh, ventilation is decent in this tent. I did get some condensation on the inner fly when the temperature was 5 degrees (41 F) once when two people were sleeping in it when it was raining (high humidity). To my knowledge this is a rather common amongst all tents. The condensation was not dripping, so that is fine.
Waterproofness: I have found that the Mountain Lite 2 is very good at keeping out the rain. The combination of its rainfly and high bathtub floor keeps everything dry and nice.
Durability: This tent is heavy for good reason. The materials are hard-wearing and can take a beating – they definitely do not feel flimsy.
My Verdict: Though I would not want to lug it up a mountain alone, with a friend it only becomes 1.6 kg per person, which is not too bad. Sure, there are many other two-man tents out there that are much lighter, but this one is a lot sturdier and does not break the bank. It might be a 3 season tent, but I do not have any problems bringing it to mild winters with some snowfall (it has snow valances!). This workhorse is incredibly affordable, will last years with proper care, and has decent all round performance.
Here is a video of the Mountain Lite in a Wind Tunnel Test. I would tell you what goes on in the video, but I believe its in Dutch.
There’s something magical about plonking your tent at the side of a mountain. The minty air rushes through your lungs and you forget about the pain in your legs. For a moment everything seems so insignificant. Bills, debts, arguments and the other legacies of modern day living. You feel so unimportant because there is something so large that hasexisted for millions of years, and will continue for millions more. You are just a post in a timeline that stretches for millenia.
I’ve never been so happy to be dwarfed by sonething.
The warm leaves of autumn, so beautiful even – no especially – especially in death. The secret dance they share with the wind. The child who runs and leaps upon his fathers back. The warmth of fresh chai latte. The students who make a stand. The feel of grass under my palm. Sitting in the shade of a tree. The magic of strangers I have yet to meet. The little bits of salty spices in soft shell crab sushi. Walking against strong gusts of win. The feeling there could be so much more out there.
and those glorious warm leaves of autumn.
Three boys walked down the junction to the tracks to the birds that lay beneath. The afternoon sun beamed down, casting hard shadows that offered fleeting moments of shade to the grass.
A pigeon lay quietly amidst the dust and sand. Its eyes were hollowed out by ants and its ribcage jutted from beneath grey feathers. But there was no blood. Just dust. And sand. The bird had been here for weeks – months even – lying in the same grotesque position. Belly up. Wings folded back. Barely held apart by its skeleton.
The boys take their time approaching it, studying it like a lost relic from another era.
To stumble upon a single death – real death – at 10 is a stupendous event. It is a concept so far flung to the children that it becomes intriguing. Death is the villain in the movie, thrown through the door by the hero and onto the ground, bleeding from the splinters embedded in his chest. It is the withered plant that Yeye stubbornly waters. It is the brown leaves that rustle as he makes his way home.
A graveyard awaits them. Broken eggs and wings scatter beneath the train tracks, the lesser known victims of public transport. It is quiet here and people seldom pass, but those who do indulge the birds with bread crumbs or offerings to Tua Pek Kong - a Chinese deity that oversees the land. The pigeons crowd around and peck furiously, squabbling and jostling for position, oblivious to the children.
The third boy picks up a fallen branch. It is the length of his forearm, and just a little thinner. He has seen death, and like all boys at some point of their lives, thinks of replicating it. Playfully, he flings it at the herd, expecting the flock to disperse with alacrity.
They do exactly so in a symphony of flapping wings and falling feathers.
All but one.
Neck curled towards the sky, wings outstretched, it falls on its back, writhing in agony. The wings repeatedly flutter against the dusty ground, dragging the bird in a confused semi-circle, squawking and screaming.
As quickly as it began, it stops.
One boy wept. Two friends stared.
One boy laughed.