Clivehaddow's Blog


Adelaide and West Beach

Sunset over the sea at West Beach


Our campsite in Adelaide was West Beach which is only about 3km north of Glenelg Beach. Lovely campsite (Big4)We had our first swim of the summer in the sea it was wonderful. We had a view of the sea from our site which was great. We scheduled 3 days for our stay – First day we decided to cycle into Adelaide and then back on the river. About a 20km round trip. Great

Our campsite in West Beach

Markets in Adelaide and just behind the markets is a road with a whole lot of eateries. We just had fish and chips at one of the pubs which was good wholesome food.Went with Keith and Gwynne to tour the Mc laren vale valley the next day (see previous post). I played golf the next day at the West beach club. Very nice course in very good condition – Played with a Dickhead and a very nice chap. The dickhead was so upset  with his golf that he decided to just up and go home after 9 holes – what an a……..hole. Anyway this other chap and I completed the course and I shot 9 over par which considering the Dickhead and the wind was not bad.

Please click the following link to see slideshow of our time from Woodend through to Moonta.

November 9, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Adventures after Woodend

Russell Sue and Family

Well we left Woodend on Sunday 17th October 2010.

We stayed overnight with Russell and Sue in Woodend after picking them up from the airport in Melbourne. We arrived home after 10pm, so Di and I slept in the Caravan which was parked in the driveway ready to go. Russell and Sue insisted on us staying for breakfast and then we took off towards Adelaide.

Swan hill banks of the Murray River

Our first stop was SWAN HILL which was about 3 hours north of Woodend. We camped right on the banks of the mighty MURRAY RIVER. We initially were going to stay 2 nights but by the time we had driven around looking at the place and then went out to dinner we figured that we had seen all Swan Hill had to offer. So we left the next day to travel up to MILDURA, for those of you who are not aware Mildura is pretty much the “food bowl” of Australia.

We were warned that the locusts were about to hatch, so I hurriedly constructed a screen to fix to the front of the car, as the locusts can make a huge mess of your radiator and could cause your car to overheat.

BBQ Mildura

We decided to spend two nights in MILDURA. We did a long cycle the first day and pretty much saw most of Mildura. A very poorly thought out town as they really did not make the most use of the Murray River frontage. In fact there was not a single Restaurant/Cafe or Bar that had a view of the river. A real shame.

Di and I cruising the Murray River

We decided that as we were on the Murray river,  we should at least do a cruise.  So the next day we booked ourselves onto a cruise which went up the river to a place called “Gol Gol“. We stopped for lunch and then cruised back. Not a fantastic cruise, but we did meet some lovely people. Gwynne and Keith who live at a place called HALLETT COVE which is South of Adelaide. By coincidence it was  only 20 minutes drive from the caravan park(West Beach) we had booked into.

Keith and Gywnne

They were great company and we agreed to meet up again when we where in RENMARK which was our next stop. They had booked to stay on a houseboat there for a couple of days. He had worked for Qantas for over 30 years. Gwynne, believe it or not, was Canadian and had worked for NASA. Apparently she was involved in the design of the heat shield for the space shuttle! Amazing the people you meet!

Anyway we had pre dinner drinks with them on their houseboat. Then off to dinner at the Renmark Club. Then back to their houseboat again for a night cap. By which time we had consumed 8 bottles of wine plus. Di and I had cycled from the caravan park, so the cycle back at about midnight in the pitch dark was very interesting to say the least!

House boat on the Murray River

The caravan park in Renmark was again right on the banks of the murray river and very nice.  We caught up with Gwynne and Keith a few days later in Adelaide. They were kind enough to take us for a wine tasting tour in Mc Laren Vale.

Wirra Wirra Winery

We visited the Woodstock winery as well as Wirra Wirra.

The Wirra Wirra "fence"

After which we went to a lovely little bistro for lunch. We then drove back to their home and had a few more wines, and met some of their neighbours. 

Wine tasting

We resolved to try and meet up with them again during our stay in Moonta.

More on Adelaide/West Beach and Moonta  to follow.


October 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments


Stuart Jones Part 2

Part 2 .(please click slideshow at end of post to view photos – sound on)

 We leave fairly early the next morning for day 3, which covers a distance of 7.7km with an estimated 4 hours of hiking. We have come to realize that the estimate walking time is not accurate, especially if you want to stop and explore or sightsee. The path climbs out of the valley and follows the plateau for a way. The view from up top is awesome. Every now and again, we see the spray from whales far out at see. Sometimes they are reasonably close to the coast for us to see them frolicking on the surface. The walk is pleasant and we make good time over the even ground, thankful that we are not climbing over energy sapping boulders. We eventually descend to the Lottering River valley and head a bit inland to cross the river. It is low tide, so we are able to hop from rock to rock over the river. Unfortunately, the rocks are covered in algae, and are very slippery. We pack up laughing when Rodney falls into the water. I attempt the crossing without taking off my boots. Silly boy. Thank goodness they are reasonable waterproof. Meryl also slips and so to does Andries. We are killing ourselves laughing at the stupidity of it all. If only we had taken off our boots. 

The walk to hut 3 is a short distance away, at the actual river mouth. It is very scenic with a huge boulder in front of the hut on which we soon had lain out our wet footwear. Erryn and Nicole wander in shortly and announce that they have seen footprints of the elusive Cape Otter. This little creature is very shy and hard to spot. He has adapted to the environment by learning to hunt for fish in the sea, but always returning to land to rest and sleep. 

We all take it easy that afternoon, sitting on the boulder, soaking up the sun. The air is still fresh from the last remnants of winter, and the water even colder. Far out to see we watch as a whale catapults into the air and lands with a huge belly flop, sending a spray of water high in the air. This whale continues to give us a show for about 5 minutes, and all of us are in awe of this beautiful creature. He disappears for a while as he dives down into the depths, gaining momentum and then launches his body almost completely out of the water. Wow, this is truly amazing. 

We all relax the rest of the day, knowing that the next day was a long walk of 13.8km with the infamous Bloukrantz River Crossing. We need to get there at low tide which is 1pm in order to cross safely. Even at low tide, one has to wade a fair distance and then swim the last 30 meters with waves pounding on you and sharp rocks full of razor sharp mussels waiting for soft flesh. 

Day 4 hasn’t even broken and the camp is alive with activity. Hut No 2 (the kids) is determined to beat the oldies this morning. The oldies on all the previous mornings had been the first to leave camp. Due to the time constraint, and the group consensus that we should be at the river at least 1 hour earlier in order for us to prepare and plan the crossing; we were all going to leave as the sun was coming up. The kids were dismayed to find our hut already eating breakfast and packing up. Nothing like subtle competition. The 2 youngest couples left just after 5am with there headlights on, climbing out of the valley. Erryn and Nicole left soon after with the balance of us leaving after a further 15 minutes. It was still dark, with the eastern horizon starting to lighten. 

The climb out of the valley is hard going, and Shiksha is already taking strain. I decide to push on by myself, leaving Meryl, Rodney and Andries to coax Shiksha and Rajesh on. Between Rodney and Andries they share Shiksha’s kit bag, forcing her into an army style route march. No time to play, we have a river to cross, and definitely no ferry man to pay. I am on my own, and loving it. The forests are still dark. Ahh, some “Me” time at last. Before long, I pass Nicole and Erryn. I decide to push on further by myself. It gives me time to take the odd break and watch the sun rise and listen to the harsh pounding of the sea. I am in my element. On my own. It gives you time to really cleanse the soul. Such beauty, but also such power. 

With the mind clear, the body gets into a rhythm, and before long I see the “kids” ahead. They are about 500mt further along the path, clambering over the rocks. Tracey sees me, and urges the others on. They want to stop and have tea, but she is adamant not to surrender the lead that they had fought to get. The path climbs up to the plateau again and continues through fynbos, every now and again dipping into the valleys. I have now caught up to them and joined their group, with Tineke leading the way. Unfortunately, the person who leads the way, becomes the spider basher. Surely these stupid spiders must get tired of spinning their web across the path, only for it to be broken everyday, as the group of hikers make their way along the paths. Tinny soon can’t take it anymore, and lets out a little scream, swatting and beating her arms. Bruce comforts her, and forces me to the front. And so I become the Spider Basher. 

The path is relatively gentle, and at about 10.30 we come around a corner and are able to look down to the Bloukrantz River mouth. Oh boy, we all look at each other. Excitement and concern are on everyone’s faces. The tide is still high and we can now see where we need to go. The waves are rolling in. Thank goodness the sea is relatively calm with good weather. I would hate to try and do this crossing in any other conditions or at any other time of the day. We descend to the rocky beach. Bruce immediately places an upright stick where the waves peter out, as a marker. Good thinking buddy. Now we need to wait for the rest of the group, and keep a close eye on the supposedly receding tide. 

By the time that everyone has arrived, the clouds and wind have rolled in. We all have a quick lunch and start to prepare for the crossing. Cameras need to be packed in Ziploc bags, clothes and other goodies sealed in bigger bags. Rodney and I walk to the mouth and survey the scene. The rest of the guys amble up and we agree to the plan of action. The concern is for the girls, as one cannot swim. We therefore decide to try and stretch a 60 meter rope along the swim path for them to hold onto. Rodney and I decide to go first, and test the water. Having packed our backpack in emergency bags and sealed them with cable ties, we set off. Our bags float on top of the water as we wade further into the river mouth. The waves are crashing over us, and our bags now get pulled away form us. We hang on, and push further in. We need to swim the last 30 meters. At the entrance to the cove on the opposite bank, are huge submerged rocks. Cursing, we stub our toes and fall over into the narrow channel. Elated we pull ourselves out of the water onto the narrow sandy beach. We have made it. Our bags are not torn, and our backpacks are dry. 

Now to get the others across. Rodney, who had carried the rope, with the intention of securing it to something, had let it go. It wasn’t long enough. We swim back to the waiting group. Okay, now the other guys must go with their bags. The girls are watching as the guys brave the seas and follow the route that Rodney and I had swum. Erryn manages to get the rope across. Andries takes on the task as anchor, treading water in the channel. I am on the other side, being pounded by the waves. The guys have come back and are now taking the girls across. Rodney takes control of Shiksha, who has stuffed blow up pillows down her top. With a few gentle, but forceful words, she is across. The girls follow the rope and all make it to the other side. I release the rope, thankful to be out of the pounding surf, grab Meryls backpack and swim across. 

We are all over, and in one piece. Well almost. Andries was sustained a scratch to his knee and toe. Shiksha, glad to eventually use her medical bag is quick to the rescue. Before Andries can even protest, he has a clean wound and huge bandage, together with a course of antibiotics. He loves the attention and plays on the girl’s compassion. The guys all look on at the spectacle, and giggle to ourselves. Geez, I would hate to be around when there is something serious. 

Rodney’s kitbag has been plundered by the local monkeys whilst we were doing the crossing. Little buggers must know and watch for their next victims. Thank goodness only food was taken. He was a bit concerned that someone might find one of them wearing a Rolex and sporting a fancy digital camera. 

We are all on a high, with the adrenalin pumping. There were a few casualties with bags having been ripped on the rocks, but nothing serious. The girls all go around an outcrop of rocks to change into dry clothes. Shiksha was busy changing when a helicopter comes whizzing overhead. We are upset with her that she didn’t flash at the pilot and write in the sand “Want Beer” 

The climb out is hectic. The path is along a narrow ledge where they have secured ropes to assist us. “Schoolmaster” Rodney has dictated the order of evacuation, and soon we are all out and on the path again. We know that there is a really tough ascent coming up, with a further 3 km to go to the next overnight hut. The heat of the day has passed, but the sweat is pumping from our bodies as we climb. The clouds have started to roll in and the day cools as we descend to hut 4. 

We are all tired, having been on our feet for most of the day. It is too late and cold for a swim. The temperature has dropped and there is a definite chill in the air. After a break, Andries and I follow the Klip River up the valley to explore. There are Otter tracks, but not fresh. Damn little buggers, where are you? 

As the sun sinks, we are given a show by a shoal of dolphins. The little bay is full of them, playing and surfing the waves. Makes the day all worth while. 

Supper is a little quieter. It is the last night, and the mood is a little subdued. All our liquid rations are also finished with only the odd Jagermeister being shared amongst us. The night has a definite chill to it, as we all curl up to sleep. 

Day 5 dawns to a beautiful day. Everyone is keen and eager to get going, and before long the convoy out of the valley starts off. From the huts, we can see the climb out. The designers of the trail must have been sadists, because they always start the day with a hectic climb. Almost as if to say, “okay, now that you have wiped the sleep form your eyes and are fully awake, look around you and appreciate the beauty.” And what beauty there is. 

The vegetation has started to change and the hills are gentler. The gradient is not as severe, with the path following the plateau. Its 8am and the sun is still low in the sky. The fynbos is thick with flowers starting to bloom. The smell of the plant is strong. Huge bumble bees are looking for nectar and doing their job, sharing the pollen around. Rodney points out two king protea that haven’t opened yet. Another few weeks, and these will be magnificent. A km further on, we are rewarded with a stunning sight. There is a King Protea in bloom. This thing is massive and is barely 2 meters from the path. WOW. This flower is awesome. Although the temptation is there to touch it, no-one does. Reluctantly we leave it alone and carry on our way. 

Day 5 is only 6.8km and is an easy walk. It isn’t long before we see the signs of civilization as we approach Natures valley. The wind is howling and the sea is full of white horses. The last outcrop of rock provides no protection as Rodney searches for a last cache. Reluctantly we descend to the beautiful rock free beach that marks the end of the trail. The kids are already on the beach, waiting for us. We take off our packs and congratulate each other. A damn fine trail. 

The finish is a bit of an anticlimax. There are no signs saying “you have made it” or “the end” You just finish. As a group of “Mad Atter Otters” we trundle over the now windswept beach to the little village 

I suppose that it is back to reality. Having lived in the Garden of Eden for 5 days, and not having seen a snake, makes one reluctant to finish and come back to civilization. 

The camaraderie and friendship, together with the friendly teasing and cajoling made the group special. Combine that with a truly beautiful, yet harsh tough terrain, and you have an experience that is hard to equal. 

Everyone gets something different from this experience. What you seek is what you get. For some, it is a very personal experience and growth, having challenged there bodies and “survived” Some come away with a sense of fulfillment and appreciation for what nature has to offer, and for those things that we all take for granted. At the end of the day, the most important thing of all was that we had FUN.



October 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Otter Trail – PART 1 – by Stuart Jones


Welcome back to Stuart Jones (comrades marathon) with his account of hiking the OTTER TRAIL

The Mad Atter Otters 

My story starts awhile ago, in the grey fuzzy part of my memories. It was during a training run that I overheard my two running friends mention that they were going to do the Otter Trail. I had heard great things about the Otter Trail and had always put it on the “want to do” list, but never got around to it. Circumstances with little kids, work etc etc. All the normal excuses had prevented me from doing it. I was envious that both Rodney and Meryl were doing it together. I made my feelings heard, and grumbled how lucky they were.

Life carried on. I knew that they were scheduled to go in September some time, but really hadn’t paid much attention to the details. I had although been onto the website to check the trail out, which made me even more jealous. It is a 4 night, 5 day trail through one of the most amazing parts of the country. It starts at the Storms River mouth and follows the coast southwards to finish 5 days later at Natures Valley. It covers a distance of 42km through some of the toughest terrains. This stretch of coastline is not for the faint hearted. The trail covers beautiful coastal forest and cape fynbos. Thank goodness there are overnight huts and a toilet (sometimes without water). Therefore a person needs to carry their own kit for 5 days. Being a nature marine reserve, you may not get food from the land / sea.

It was a Wednesday evening when Rodney phoned me and asked if I would be keen to join them at such late notice. Someone obviously couldn’t make it. I was overjoyed and responded with “Yes, yes, yes” I hadn’t even checked my calendar, didn’t even know the dates or requirements, let alone checked with the government. Rodney said that he would confirm on Thursday. Oh boy did Thursday drag on. Eventually the call came through. I was in.

Now reality set in. What were the plans, costs, preparations etc. At a hasty meeting on Friday evening I was briefed of the plan. I was given 1 weeks notice to get my arse into gear. The details were divulged and requirements stated. 

It would appear that Meryl had booked the trail for 12 people a year in advance. (This is the current waiting period and the max number of people per day) She had paid the deposit and spread the word amongst her work colleagues and very quickly was oversubscribed. Between Meryl and Rodney they put in place most of the travel arrangements, before and after accommodation bookings. They had also decided to give the group a name. This was great, as there were some couples and some singles. Not everyone knew each other. Creating a single identity bonded the group straight away. Humans always like to have a sense of belonging, and so “The Mad Atter Otters” was created. And mad they were. What a diverse spectrum of people this group was, but all with a common goal. 

Rodney and Meryl had created different portfolios for the members. Meryl was the Mad Atter herself, and Rodney the Chief Whip. I was delegated the task of “Weather Organizer” Oh boy, I had better get on my hands and knees fast. This could make or break the trail. 

Although I have camping kit, none of it is for hiking. Saturday passed in a blur, rushing from Camping store to store. Later, after denting the credit card severely, I had most of the kit. Now to see if it would all fit. Ha ha ha I had packed each day’s rations in plastic bags, folded clothes into travel bags and laid the lot out on the bed at home. How was I going to get all that into this tiny backpack and still carry it for 5 days? And so with a process of elimination various items were left out and my backpack was full. It weighed in at 19kg excluding my water. Theoretically, an unfit person could carry 25% of their body weight and a fit person 33%. Geez at 19kg plus water was going to put me in at 22kg. Putting it on my back felt like a ton. I could just see myself getting that “sinking feeling” when we walked on the beach. 

The last couple of days passed in a flash. The government had given consent and work was cleared for go. The group had a meeting on the Wednesday evening for final arrangements before we flew out on Friday. There were a number of absentees and Rodney immediately stated that being absent deserved a fine. I liked this group already. 


Friday dawned and Rodney and I had to collect Meryl on route to the airport. Meryl’s sleepy voice over the entrance intercom to her complex said it all. Meryl was ready, sort of.  We were meeting the rest of the group at the airport. Looking back at that first day is quite funny. Everyone clean, neat and on their best behavior. How quickly the mighty fall. There should have been a before and after picture. 

The flight goes without a hitch from Durban to Port Elizabeth. Cars are hired and luggage stowed. Port Elizabeth (PE) is wet and blowing gales. I obviously hadn’t done my job right. Rodney and I share a Hyundai Atos. What a joke. This little thing changes lanes when you sneeze or shift your body weight. Two big guys in this tiny little car must have been quite a sight. 

Storms river bridge

Meryl had made arrangements for us to all have lunch at a place called Sacramento. This is where the Sacramento had been shipwrecked during the 1600’s. Of the 160 odd Portuguese survivors only 6 made it to Maputo, a walk of about 1500kms (details are not accurate)

This was my first proper chance to meet the group. What a fantastic bunch of people. Shiksha and Rajesh – the appointed doctor and engineer. Tracy and Andrew – 3 months pregnant and a fellow high school colleague. Tineke and Bruce – It works out that Bruce lives about 5 houses away from me. Andries – who has been training hard for this trail. Meryl, Rodney and Myself. Erryn and Nicole had driven down and would meet us later in the day. 

It is in pouring rain that we travel via Jefferies bay to Storms River Mouth. Every now and again I see a patch of blue sky in between darker clouds. This is not a good sign. Starting off wet and cold is not a good way to start. Along the route we stop at Storms River Bridge. Rodney has his GPS and is out looking for a cache in the pouring rain. In his spare time, Rodney plays a game called Geocaching. Basically, you follow a set of GPS co-ordinates and clues to find a “cache” that someone else has hidden. As you find a cache, you log it on the internet. It is an excellent way to learn more about your country and see places not normally seen. Following the road least traveled presents some exciting and interesting sights. 

Rodney comes back drenched and a look of dismay on his face. Damn cache must have fallen off the bridge or something. Not there. 

We continue, and after disregarding his GPS, Rodney gets us on the wrong road. The whole convoy turns around and heads further south. We eventually get to the Storms River Mouth Nature reserve and book into 3 cottages. Erryn and Nicole meet up with us. They have had time to explore the area already and are keen to show us the river mouth where another cache is hidden. Rodney and Erryn are like two little boys. We have barely had time to put our kit down and they are climbing into the cars to get to the mouth. A few of us tag along and drive the 1km to the mouth. This is the first opportunity to see the coastline. It is awesome, breathtakingly beautiful. Rugged rocks line the coast and huge waves continually pound them. We take the walkways to the mouth. Already I can feel my leg muscles pulling and my chest screaming for air as we climb steep steps over the boulders. Wow, this place is amazing. You can only sit back and marvel at the forces of nature, as they continuously sculpt the coast. The beaches are littered with rocks, moving backwards and forwards in the wash of the sea. A loud whooshing sound is followed by the grating of rock on rock. I have never heard it so loud. 

The sun is getting low on the horizon as we find the cache, hidden discretely under some rocks. We make our way back to the cabins, all with looks of excitement on our faces. We have dinner at the local restaurant and so starts the friendly banter and cajoling that was prevalent throughout the trail. 

The next morning, the earth moves so that the sun peeps over the horizon. Clear skies and no wind. YES, my prayers have been answered. A leisurely breakfast, some fancy shuffling of cars and its time to check in to the trail. We all make our way to the reception to pay our fees.

Check in station

The Receptionist has a surprise for us. It would appear that Meryl paid the deposit and not the final amount and therefore the booking was not confirmed. Meryl has a look of panic on her face. We turn around and see the same look of shock on the groups face. Nooooo, how can we have come all this way and be turned away. The receptionist winks at us and says that it is ok, we can still go ahead. Phew, that was close, Meryl. 

After the obligatory indemnity form and a quick video presentation, we saddle up. It is 1pm and the sun is blazing down on us.

Day 1 is only 4.8km and should take about 2 hours. No worries, we all think. Only 4.8km. Ha ha. The start takes us through a forest down a steep hill to the boulder strewn beach. We haven’t even gone 1km and our legs feel like jelly from the decent. People are already sucking at their water. Oh boy, 1km down 41 to go. Not far along the beach, we come to the first cave. It is long, and narrows down at the back after about 100mts plus. Erryn and Rodney know that there is a cache inside somewhere. Andries is in like a shot with Rodney, Erryn and I in pursuit. Through mud and over boulders we go deeper into the cave. Only Rodney and Erryn have torches with them. Andries and I had left ours at the entrance in our haste to explore. Aaagh, bats and lots of them. Hanging upside down from the ledges with their wings folded around them.  Not my favorite creatures. Thankfully, Andries finds the cache and both Erryn and Rodney can tick this off their list. We make our way back to the entrance, where the rest of the group is taking a quick snack break. 

We start out again and clamber over rocks along the coastline. Geez, this is hectic stuff. The rocks are not nice smooth shapes. No, they are sharp fierce fangs, waiting for you to place a foot wrong and fall. It takes immense concentration, as each footstep has to be well placed and calculated. We make it to a beautiful waterfall that falls down the cliff into a pool and then into the sea. Unfortunately the sun is at such a difficult position that we are not able to get really good photos. Andries and Andrew decide to brave the cold water and take a swim. The water has that characteristic brown tinge that most of the rivers in the area have. This “tea” is created by the tannins in the tree roots etc that the rivers flow passed. I am not to sure if it is the colour of the water or the need for a break, but out come the gas stoves and before long water is on the boil for tea. Not even 3km and we are having our second break. 

We had made an agreement that we would all do our own thing individually, but still remain as a group. If you felt like a break, or wanted to stop and look at the scenery, then you did that. You weren’t going to hold the group up. They would carry on, and you would eventually catch up. If it took you double the amount of time, so what. The distances between the huts were not great; it just took long due to the terrain. The only time constraint would be on day 4 when we would have to swim across the Bloukranz River Mouth. We had agreed to do this together and assist each other. 

Eventually we reach hut 1 (Ngubu). It is late afternoon and we are all sweaty and hot. Oh no, no showers and 1 toilet. Thank goodness there was some fresh water, but not for much longer. We all change and make our way to the beach. The sea is like ice, but is a welcome. We rinse off and make our way back to camp as the sun sinks lower on the horizon. It is quite strange for us Durbanites to see the sun set over the sea, and so it gives a spectacular display as it goes down. Some of us had brought steak and a potato for the first night. After a grueling start, that steak tasted like heaven. We wolf our food down, and sit around the fire chatting, sipping sherry. 

There are 2 huts per overnight camp. Each has bunks to sleep 6 people. The huts are virtually a couple of meters away from the beach, and the continual crashing of the waves puts us to sleep quickly. Well, some of us quicker than others. Sunrise brings about the nasty surprise that there is no more water for the toilet to work. Thankfully there is a bucket for such an emergency and it is with great urgency that you see people rushing off to the sea to get some water to flush.

Day 2 is 7.9km to Scott hut and passes through some really majestic scenery. A relatively steep climb out of camp onto the platau sees the first of the Cape Fynbos. Spring has just started, and many flowers are in bloom. We can only imagine how lucky those that come a week or two later must be to see everything in bloom. We pass Skilderkrans (Picturesque ridge) an outcrop of pure quartz. Many of the rocks along the coast have these quartz veins. Obviously as the earths crust cooled and buckled, this liquid quartz was forced into the cracks, thus leaving these characteristic veins. From Skilderkrans we descend to the coast again. Meryl Rodney, Andries and I are way ahead of the others and so decide to have a break on a beach. The beach is full of debris and flotsam. It looks like stuff from a Chinese fishing boat, as there are canisters with Chinese writing and parts of fishing nets. Serve the buggers right, fishing in our waters. Meryl and Rodney decide to catch some shut eye, lying on the rocks in the sun. Andries, the regular klipspringer is off exploring. I discover a dead seal and call Meryl to come have a look. Rather sleepily Meryl wanders across and asks where? I tell her to follow her nose, and off she goes clambering over the rocks. Meryl must still be half asleep, because she almost puts her foot on the carcass, before I shout. Almost, I giggle to myself. 

A gentle climb out takes us through some muddy patches where Duiker hoof prints are visible. Meryl in her wisdom discovers that she has left her walking pole at the beach and decides to experience some trail running, as she heads back to fetch it. The path starts to climb gently when Andries discovers another path down to another beach. We drop our packs and clamber down to the beach. The rock formations are unbelievable. There is a stream that flows over some rocks and enters the sea. Andries and I are climbing over these great rocks and crevices, exploring. Rodney, in his wisdom decides to start the climb out of the valley to the plateau. He obviously knew what was coming. Meryl, Andries and I follow shortly. Before long we are cursing. 1 meter forward, 1 meter up. Sweat is pouring off of us as we stumble our way to the top. Erryn and Nicole were adopting the Tortoise and Hare tactic, and are passed just below the crest. From the vantage point, the long hard climb is soon forgotten. The view is amazing. Far below is Blue bay, which we had just left.  The coast just carries on and on. Harsh, raw and wild, but amazingly beautiful. 

The decent from there to camp 2 is gentle, and we get into camp early afternoon. Great stuff; gives us time to relax and swim. The camp is on the banks of the Geelhoutbos River. There is running water and a shower. We quickly strip off and head for the beach. Ouch, the water is really cold, but no one minds it after the long hot day. 

This is the first night that we are onto the serious rations. Everyone prepares their own food and we sit around the campfire sipping sherry and the odd Jagermeister. Erryn had brought a whole lot and had dished out everyone’s rations before the hike. He wasn’t going to carry anyone else’s drink. I had brought a litre of sherry and 500ml of Sambuca, which I was now desperate to get rid of. 

Just before bed, Erryn calls us to come and see a Genet (A wild cat) that is sitting in the tree waiting for us to leave the communal cooking area so that he could scavenge for left overs.


Keep blogging


October 23, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

New grandchild – Taylor Jordan Haddow

Taylor Jordan Haddow

Di and I have just become grandparents for the 4th time – Our youngest son Donovan and his partner Kristy have given birth to a lovely little girl named Taylor Jordan Haddow.

Congratulations to Donovan and Kristy.


We wanted to put something on

 the blog about Logan’s birthday

(Don and Kristy’s first born) which was in July but we have been

Brother and Sister - Logan and Taylor

waiting for photos so in the absence of those I have put some photo’s direct from

 the Mobile photo – Happy birthday to Logan on his second birthday on the  9th



Until next time
PS – We will have a two part post of Stewart’s hike through “The Otter Trail” in the next day or so.

October 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

One week to go in Woodend

Archie and Morgan

We are now into our last week in Woodend. This house sit has been very interesting. The countryside is so beautiful. With Spring approaching all the blossoms are out and its quite stunning.

Unfortunately the weather has been a real pain. We worked out that in the five weeks we have been here we have had about five nice warm sunny days. That makes an average of ONE sunny day per week. Not a good average in our book! 

We spoke to the owner of our next housesit in Moonta on Saturday. She made us Green with envy when she told us it was a warm 25 degrees there and all she was wearing was a light TShirt!

Her home is only two blocks away from the beach – so we cant wait to see the sea again and walk on the beach. 

Di and I have managed to get around country Victoria and see a number of places including a vast amount of wineries. (Of course!) One thing about this house sit has been the amount of work involved. We find that there is always something to do. I have been trying to get the garden into shape.

With all the rain that has fallen the grass is jumping out of the ground. The property is huge and the mowing area takes forever. I used the slasher last week to cut the lawn, out front, and worked my butt off pushing this slasher – I was absolutely stuffed at the end of the day having only done a small amount of the lawn.

Only the next day did I realise that the Slasher has a “self propelling ” handle!!!!!!! How stupid do I feel?!

The dogs just love their walks – I take them in the morning and then in the evening – good exercise for me.

We get about 4-6 eggs each day from the chooks so we certainly have had our ration of scramble/fried/everything eggs. We have managed to donate to the neighbours so none has gone to waste.

We leave here on Sunday 17th and then travel up to Swan Hill then on to Mildura before heading to Moonta for our next house sit.  CLIVE

October 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Wow….. has Melbourne changed!

Hi Ya All,

Di and I went into Melbourne a couple of days ago. Great train service from Woodend, only 1 hour into the centre of Melbourne and only $6.40 return for “mature old people”. LOL!!

We like the way the city is set out – easy to get around.  They have a free Rail Tram service that does a circuit around the city with a running commentary. The Trams are really old and quite quaint. Very similar to the Trams that operate in San Francisco. We caught a tram out to St Kilda – I had not been out that way for nearly 10 years. Unfortunately it was not what I expected. There were some awful looking sorts on the tram with us, who looked like they were into drugs. Not a good sign! We both thought that St Kilda  looked just a little run down and almost appeared to be a Ghost Town. We were looking for somewhere to have lunch and look over water.  It was not going to happen there!  We had no luck, so we headed back into the CBD and hopped on the circuit tram.

Melbourne harbour

We decided to head out to the dockland – Well what a great surprise, as Melbourne has done a wonderful job on the waterfront. Great restaurants and a really nice feel about the place.

We had a meal at a place called Bellissimo which was really nice, looking out over the harbour.

The whole area of the harbour has now been well set up and is very crowded over the weekends – nice atmosphere.


Di wanted to see some of the Art Galleries but we ran out of time and she will make a trip in when I am on the Golf Course.

Talking about Golf – I play at Trentham on a Monday/Thursday and Saturday – such a nice club – the members have been really very welcoming – On the Monday it is the “old farts” – can you believe that for $5.00 I get a round of golf, a beer and hamburger – now thats what I call value.! 
Anyway more to follow.

October 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ever heard of the “OTTER TRAIL”?????




More to follow


September 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment


Looking along Piper St, Kyneton, Victoria, Aus...

Looking along Piper St, Kyneton, Victoria, Aus.

Hanging rock winery

We had a great day on Sunday. Visited Hanging Rock – AND we are still here to tell the tale! (but we have been told there is some question as to the accuracy of that story! Hmmmm!) The Hanging Rock Winery has such a large selection of wines. If you tasted them all – you would be way over the limit! From there we did a lovely looping scenic drive visiting Kyneton, Daylesford and Malmsbury. The architecture in these villages is like little time capsules of history. Many of these lovely old buildings have been restored and converted into Cafes/Bars/Coffee Shops. The Melbourne daytrippers make the most of all these upmarket  expensive eateries and drive the prices up even higher! Di enjoyed all the Organic foodstuffs that were on offer – but unfortunately I am definitely a Steak and Chips man and nothing will change that!  

Piper street Kyneton

We also visited Zig Zag wines – very interesting as the owner was married to a Senegalese who was a musician – the music was very much like “Ishmael Lowe” 

Life here in Woodend is lovely but we do get under pressure with the animals – Morning and Evening there is about 3o minutes when all the animals are frantic for food/walks making a fire  etc. Di does her floor exercises every morning and most mornings has the cat(Titania) is doing them with her!! I take the dogs for a walk(should I say they take me for a drag!) All in all we have settled into life here – just wish that it would warm up and have a little sunshine but I guess we are in the Macedon ranges so it is to be expected  

Sorry that post is a little skinny but will do a better job in next couple of days. Much more to follow on this lovely part of Australia – off to Melbourne tomorrow to visit the big smoke. 


Until next time 


September 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment



Well we arrived in Woodend on Thursday 9th September. We checked into the nearest caravan park (the only one). To say that we heard the theme music from


“Deliverance” would be an understatement! Anyway it was only for 2 nights so we just went with the flow. Bloody cold here still although spring has sprung. Met our homeowners Russell and Susan on Thursday evening at their home. Lovely people, we had a meal with them and their children and got to know each other a little more. The home is huge but very nice. The land is approx 10 acres. We arranged to have a hand over on the Saturday and then I would take them to the airport in Melbourne (only  40 minutes away)

Our home for the next 5 weeks

We are looking after 2 dogs, (Morgan the Spaniel and Archie the Labrador) a cat(Titania) and 7 chooks. We have become regular “Farmer Browns”

Our animals

On the Friday Di and I took a drive around MACEDON/MT MACEDON/KYNETON and TENTHAM. I swear you could close your eyes and open them again and you would think you are in England – the country side is beautiful and all the trees are starting to bloom. The field flowers are all over the place with yellow and blues. I have been checking out the golf courses and think so far the Tentham course is the best. Again it has such an English look about it.

Chef Gaven and the famous fire place were the gold was found!

We had lunch in the village of Tentham at a lovely little place called the “Cool Country Taven” – We met the chef Gaven Crowley – We had garlic prawns with creamy sauce – fantastic, washed down with a Rouge red wine sitting in front of a big log fire. This restraurant was in the news of late as they found a GOLD NUGGET in the fire place (worth about $8000) They think maybe a long time ago jewellery must have been hidden in the chimney.

Cool Country Tavern

Great story, great food and good wine. 

More to follow on this lovely place called WOODEND. We have about 10 terrific wineries around that we will visit during our stay.



The Chook Whisperer


September 13, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment