28 December 2005

Christmas with the Connellys

Another great Chrissy motor boating with the Connellys.

Chris got a motorbike.

Sunshine and I had a mini epic trying to find a climbing crag at Nelson Bay.

Richard and his daughters came boating with us. Richard and I did an epic tubing leg across the bay

More photos here.

20 December 2005

Replaced Inverter

Went to see Battery World at Warners Bay to have my inverter checked as it wasn't powering some appliances, namely the laptop. They checked it, and while it did power up their drill on inspection, they did notice the red fault light flashing on briefly when the inverter was switched on and off. They took the inverter away for warranty checking.

1 week later, they sent me a new inverter - but sadly it is not powering the laptop! Perhaps there is something wrong with my laptop's powerpack. I have no trouble using it on 240 V, but it seems to not get enough from the inverter's 240 from 12.

16 December 2005

Gee I love Tasmania

Sunshine and I just arrived home from Tasmania. We spent 10 days walking, shopping, climbing, moblogging and talking at TasLearnscope05.

If you haven't already, you can get the picture at my flickr account, and our moblog.

Highlights for me where climbing in Freycinet, walking up the Acropolis, shopping in Hobart, and a delayed flight home that had to circle 5 times right over the Blue Mountains on sunset!

I can't rave long enough about Tasmania. It has such intense history, amazing wilderness (getting logged faster than you can say World Heritage), fantastic people (even the ones in utes with bumper stickers reading "fertilise the bush, doze in a greeny" are... thought provoking).

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17 October 2005

Land on Booth Ave

Sunshine and I have been looking at land up here in the mountains. Tired of paying off a landlord's investments, we want our own place, where we can build and renovate pretty much how we please, and be investing in our lives together while we're at it.

Here's a block we really like. 2000m2, surrounded by bush and the Blue Mountains National Park, gently sloping, overlooking a bush valley. Few neighbours, road access, power and phone lines, but no water or sewage. Asking $105 000.

We think that's a pretty good price, a sign that things are getting real up here again. We spend long hours looking into possibilities for affording a $190 000 loan to buy the block and build a very basic shed/house with a view to renovating it as we go. I've started saving links for building.

Not having water or sewage is a bit of a problem, but not as much as the likely council requirements such as bushfire threat management, that may require us the clear the trees beyond the property boundry! I have a fort like house design in mind if this requirement becomes a reality...
Blue Mountains City Council has an excellent map service that shows a lot about the blocks for sale up here.

So we've made a few inquiries to banks, and typed our figures into the available calculators. Things look grim actually. My 'self employed' status won't help matters, and my annual income may only just scrape us in for the amount we're asking. And we still have to pull together a 10% deposit... all this to get a loan with repayments equal to the rent we pay anyway!

23 August 2005

New Mechanic for servicing

Changed mechanics recently. I needed someone local as I'm not commuting to Penrith everyday now. I took the recommendation of a friend and went with George at Blackheath Automotive. They're pricey but I think they're good.

George has improved the fuel flow problem that wasn't fixed by the new airflow meter, and he is very thorough with services.

This service at meter: 113016

Lubrication Service
Replaced engine oil and filter
Checked condition and adjustment of fan belts
Inspected and topped up battery levels, window washers, break fluid, transmission and diffs
Inspected cooling system components for leaks and deterioration, and checked coolant concentration
Checked tyre pressures (including spare) and lubed door hinges and latches
Checked lights, horn, wipers and washers
Safety inspection and report

Tune up
Remove and replace spark plugs
Inspect condition of ignition primary and secondary systems
Check operation mechanical and vacuum advance systems
replace fuel filter and air filter element
adjust ignition timing to manufacturer's specifications
Clean throttle body or grime deposits
Adjusted idle speed and idle mixtures to specs

Brake service
Remove wheels and inspect condition of discs, pads, and rotors
inspect calipers and hydro hoses
Check rear wheel cylinders for leakage and seizure, clean
Refit wheel and adjust brakes to correct freeplay
Check and adjust park break

Replace wiper blades

Rear break drums need replacing

13 August 2005

Bike Dogging to Pulpit and Anvil Rock

Sunshine, the dogs and I have just returned from a pretty good bike dogging leg. We drove out to Hat Hill Rd, along it a bit, and bike dogged it down to Pulpit Rock, then on the Anvil Rock. Nice trip, easy going, dogs did well.


Pulpit Rock 2

Pulpit Rock

12 August 2005

It snowed up here again!

Its been pretty cold of late, and the day before yesterday snow flacks were being blown all around, but nothing settled. Then over night it managed to settle a bit, giving as a glorious morning!


Here's the temperature inside at 8 in the morning:


It was Blackish's first time to see snow. It was funny to watch her running around in the deck, slipping and having big stacks!


Bike Dogging to Victoria Falls

bike dogging 06

Went Bike Dogging again on Sunday. This time Sunshine came along. We ate lunch atthe Yum Cha place at Mount Victoria, then road down to Victoria Falls. Nice views and the dogs did well. I've since harnessed them up in line, rather then side by side, as Mistisa is clearly the lead dog, while Blackish does better as a second.

bike dogging 05

bike dogging 04

bike dogging 03

bike dogging 01

bike dogging 02

Mount Vic Flicks to see "What the Bleep do we Know?"

Went to Mount Vic Flicks for the first time on Sunday. We saw What the Bleep do we Know, an interesting film about neuro science, quantam mechanics, the soul and spirituality, and human conciousness and nature!! Heavy going hey? It was pretty thought provoking.

But Mount Vic Flicks is pretty charming. Nice old style cinema still selling chock cones. I hope these types of cinemas keep it going. Here's a shot of the screen...


and another before the film


Posters in Katoomba

I've noticed the poster poles in town recently. A couple on there caught my eye. Here's one that appeared to be screen printed:


And another interesting adaption of the old ripticket style. Interesting style and content of course!


27 July 2005

Bike Dogging

I dunno about you guys, but the price of petrol is killing me!
So I've put my 2 over active dogs to good use, and started training them in bike dogging.

Here they are after a 1 hour ride through the bush! I gotta say, it was bloody great!

Here's a look at my bike dog harness, collars (am about to buy body harnesses) clipped in to a Y, clipped to a rope passing through some irrigation pip (prevents leg tangle) then about 1.5 m to the bike head tube. Its very easy to control (so long as you're a pretty experienced trail rider). Even when they make a dash for another dog (something I hope they'll grow or train out of) If I keep a strong line, they get pulled quite quickly back into line.
Soon we'll do a bike dogger through the local town ;)

19 July 2005

Jo's Walk

Jo came to visit last week. She took Sunshine and I on a nice walk that links Centenial Glen to Porter's Pass and accross to what I know as Celebrity Crag.

Here's the view back towards Centenial Glen and Porters Pass climbing area. We are about to climb up to Celebrity Crag. I spotted some good looking lines along this way.

Jo's favourite water fall is this little one, just down from Centenial Glen. When viewed straight on, the bolder at the bottom looks just like an elephant! Hence Jo's name for the falls - Elephant Falls.

And Centenial Glen is a beautiful place for walking under falls. Pitty about the erosion being caused by the climbers though.

We rested at Celebrity Crag while to our left a couple of climbers made their way up the cliffs. The dogs where well behaved on the walk, Mistisa's saddle bags slowing her down just a touch, and keeping her from running off too far.

10 July 2005

Road Trip North, West, South then East.

Dogs in the Van

Sunshine and I took the dogs for quite a drive over the past 2 weeks. I got pretty tired of waiting around for my employer to get back to me on something and figured I could still get quite a bit done on the road. So we loaded the van and headed North to my Mum's place (the scenic way).

Crossing the Styx River

Our first leg was via Kempsey taking the road North West along the Macleay River to Bellbrook then up to Wollomombi. We stayed a rainy night at Bellbrook before heading up to Wollomombi. We hoped to see the water fall up there but the clouds were low the next morning so we opted for a roadhouse in Ebor to have breakfast next to a fire, and buy mum some honey smoked trout. I also bought myself a local history book, The Settlement of Guy Fawkes and Dorrigo written by an old fella from the area named Eric Fahey. After breakfast we took the road North East to Grafton through Nymboida.

It was still raining quite a lot when we passed through Grafton at around lunch time. It was beginning to flood in Lismore, so we headed for the coast from Grafton along the Pacific Highway through Bundjalung Country. We just made it to Suffolk Park (Byron Bay) before the coast road was cut off by floods there too! That night the dogs got to stretch their legs when mum took us all for a walk along the beach.

Night Walking with Mum

Sunshine, Leigh and Blackish

We spent the next 5 days hanging out at mums taking the dogs for regular walks and just generally hanging out. The dogs had been great to travel with, and were very well behaved the hole time at mums. Sunshine and I headed up to the Gold Coast for a day at Dreamworld, scaring ourselves on the Giant Drop!

The Giant Drop at Dreamworld

Eventually it was time to leave mums and our last night was spent at the "Buddha Bar" at the very cool Arts Factory in Byron Bay. Sunshine and I bought mum a luxury rub down from a spa/herbal therapy place at the Factory as a parting gift.

Sunshine, Toni and Leigh at the Buddha Bar

The next morning we were on the road again, first North to Pottsville to visit a friend, then West to Nimbin. Nimbin still holds its charm with beautiful scenery, friendly locals and very interesting shops. We pulled in to nimbin at about 5pm - a good time we reckoned as the day trippers had left by then. I tried my first custard apple that day.

We pushed on that night, down to Lismore to pick up some boxes for my sister, then West along the Brunxner Highway through Casino. We stopped at a lookout near Malanganee and that's where our dog troubles began. I let the dogs out to run a bit while I took a leak, 2 hours later we were still calling them!! I had to go onto a property as I could hear their rooster crowing! Eventually Blacky showed up, but still no Mistisa. She did turn up - no evidence of a kill on her, but boy was I mad! We applogised to the property owner and made tracks.

Later that night we stopped in at a very nice campsite near Drake called Crooked Creek Rest Area, in the Girard State Forest. We chained the dogs for the night, but at around 5am they began to winge so I let them off! I guess I should have known better, but I was half asleep and very annoyed by the winging. 10am the next morning and we were still searching for them. I walking up to a logging operation to ask if they'd seen them, and stopped a truck driver on the bush trails. All of them explained that there were many wild dogs in the area and stated quite bluntly that our dogs were likely dead or running with a pack!

Lost Dogs Sign at Drake Motel

Sunshine and I were devastated. We cried a bit and decided to drive back to the town Drake to get some food and prepare ourselves for a couple of days looking for the dogs. A very helpful fella with one arm at the Drake Motel put us in touch with another fella named Jim. Jim leant us a topographic map of the area to use on our search. We pulled into the Motel again and left a notice for the dogs, then headed into the Girard again. But amazingly our dogs were tied to a tree at the entry to the forest! On returning Jim's map we learnt that it was Jim's son-in-law who had found them, while he was driving West to Tenterfield! The dogs had made quite a time of their run by the smell of them, rolling in road kill or something. Neither of them had evidence of a kill from what I could see. We washed them at the Motel and continued West to Tenterfield. Drake is a lovely town with very friendly locals. I spotted a property for sale there, 34 Acres, House, Dam, $130 000. No service though.

Bluff Mountain

That afternoon we drove to Armidale down the New England Highway. Its really nice country along that way, with plenty of parks I'd like to visit next time.

Dangars Falls Road

We spent the night at Dangars Falls just South of Armidale. And what a special place that is! Really top quality camping grounds and spectacular views along the well made trails. Of course you're not meant to take dogs into a National Park, but we had them on very strict chains by then, and with no one else in the camping area, we couldn't resist. On the chains the dogs are very well behaved and very quiet.

Camped at Dangars Falls

The next day we drove through Tamworth (noting the Granite outcrops for climbing next time), and West along the Oxely Highway to Gunnedah. We had a very nice $5 lamb roast pup meal at Gunnedah, and bought ourselves arena style hats to get right into the country swing of things. We were headed to visit another friend in Coonabarabran. We spent the afternoon at Viv and Brian's place, marvelling at their self sufficiency on 100 acres in some pretty harsh environment. Viv and Brian have a very nice outdoor bar set up, with Brian serving up some very fine home brew. Viv showed us photos of a tornado that had ripped through the area a few months before! Tornados in Australia are unheard of let alone one this size!

Tornado in Coona!

Camped at White Gums Lookout

That night we camped at White Gums car park in the hope of getting a look at the Warrumbungles. But it poured all night, and was misty the next morning. We didn't get to see the great peaks in the park, but we drove through it anyway, marveling at the green sprouting from the recent drought breaking rains. We followed the roads South through Tooraweenah and on to Dunedoo. We powered on along the number 86, through Mudgee heading for home. But first I wanted to stop at Capertee where my grand parents first bought property to try their hand at sheep farming. The had recommended it as a lovely scenic place and they sure weren't wrong! We had lunch at the Capertee Hotel and got talking to the publican, Les about land prices. I couldn't resist a side trip to Glen Davis after talking with Les, and what a place! The highlight of the trip for me. I left our number with Les should any cheap land become available. But can already see the yuppies eating it all up around there :(

23 June 2005

It Snowed Today!!

Yesturday it was sleet and hail. I was getting so excited, I called it snow!

Today though, it snowed for sure! About an inch of cover. Enough to clip sunshine into her skis and get pushed around the deck.

Our dog Mistisa has never seen snow before, she was quite curious about it, giving it a taste and eating it. Our other dog Black One, was in getting desexed this day so sadly missed it.

Aparently, it only seems to snow once in the Blue Mountains every year, and only lasts half a day at that. This snow melted on the same day, but was enough to get us amped for a ski trip down south.

13 June 2005

Replaced the Air Flow Meter

After servicing, Mike said the airflow meter was on its way out and that I should replace it.

Had it done the next week, Mike did it while I waited.

He pulled off the dust cap and showed me the circuit track. Along the track I could see a small wear mark that apparently affects the range of movement the airflow meter can achieve.

The 2nd hand part cost $350 with $25 labour. While paying, I asked Mike about the excessive heat in the cock pit. He knew straight away what that was about, explaining that the shut valve to the heater coil had probably become weak from the water pressure. Mike described a fix were by he bridges the in pipe and the out pipe, relieving some of the pressure on the stop valve, allowing it to close more effectively. He quoted me $170, and I'll be sure to get it done before summer comes.

Sunshine's New Bike

Sunshine picked up her new bike from the local shop today. A X hire bike, only 6 months old. Its in pretty good nick too!

We slept the night out at the end of Ridgewell Rd, and hopped on the bikes in the morning for a rideout to Hanging Rock/Anvel Rock.

It's a cruisy 3 km down to the lookout where you leave the bikes and stroll around some spectacular tracks. This is me not daring to jump across the gap.

The dogs came with us of course, they had no trouble keeping up but I don't think they could go that much further at the end of it all.

And it wasn't too bad riding back either!