Saturday, May 19, 2018

Attempting the Great Ocean Walk (pt 1)

(GOW Prep)

Some time last year when I was not coping with the work/life balance, fed up with work and the the rut I had been sucked into I contemplated the fact that I would soon be reaching my 10 years employment mark. I would soon be eligible for long service leave. I considered my lifestyle and what would I like to add or subtract in the search for happiness... or at least not miserableness.

One thing I have always liked and wanted to do is bushwalking.  Until the age of 18 I was like a mountain goat, tracking through the local bushland for hours, camping, fishing rabbiting etc... I used to walk (and cycle) everywhere until I turned 18 and got my drivers license. After that I did manage a few actual hikes in places like Wilson's Prom, Cradle Mountain and a Kings Canyon but that was years ago. Since settling in Darwin over 20 years ago I have not done any serious hiking.

In this latest calling to the wilds while researching the Jatbula trail near Katherine I came across references to the Great Ocean Walk (GOW). I have been missing the forests of Victoria so much I decided I had to try and do that walk. I researched the walk and finally decided to book my camp sites and make travel arrangements for May 2018. May seemed a good choice, it was outside of bushfire and snake season and allowed enough time to improve my fitness by doing some preparatory hikes. I figured that over the next 6 moths in Darwin I would join the Darwin Bush Walking Club and build up my experience, strength and stamina...
This did not happen. Work commitments got crazy, I had a stupid study schedule and had already taken time away from family. In reality, with less than a week to go I hadn't even prepared a kit suitable for the walk. Just a few days before leaving Darwin I started preparing an inventory, checked my gear, read weather reports and began to realize that I'd missed Autumn and was headed straight into winter conditions! Temperatures ranging between 7 and 11 degrees C. 

$5 50L pack, $15 Ferrino 2man lightweight tent, hand-me-down sleeping pad, $2 ultra light sleeping bag, + $50 360 Furno cooker.

In the two days before leaving Darwin I sourced a more suitable backpack and sought out various other additional accessories to help cope with the cold wet weather I was about to head into. With the change in weather my cheap and light plan went out the window, I had to spend money! I managed to find a really nice second hand pack for $150, and swapped sleeping bags for my ultra warm down bag, the rest would have to be sorted out when I arrived in Melbourne.

Deuter Aircontact 65+10  (A very nice pack)
When the plane landed very early at Tullamarine, Melbourne was cloaked in a thick fog, the air was bitterly cold and I knew I would need to be better prepared than I was. Catching the 901 to Broadmeadows was like being on a ferry across the river Styx... Through the thick mist bodies disposed of their spirits would appear and then fade away as the 901 rolled on, their skin a deathly white pallor. I shivered at the sight of those dark and sunken eyes of commuters waiting for their passage to nothing better. 

The next two days were spent getting hold of gear that would be essential for the walk.

By the time I'd completed my inventory of necessary items and crammed it all into my pack I reckon I had over 30kg! This was not ideal, not for an experienced hiker and definitely not for me.
One of the big problems was that this is an 8 day (7 night) hike. I needed to carry enough food for over a week.

Some of the food for the trail... there was more. TOO MUCH MORE especially scroggin

To Be continued....

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