Author Archives: Margot
Author Archives: Margot
It was a perfect day when Chris and I set off to climb Cradle Mountain after a lovely restful night at the Lodge. I was really excited about this challenge because the track to the mountain is the start of the Overland. I wanted to re-live the excitement and apprehension I had felt in 2009 setting foot on the boardwalk, fully decked for six days hiking in the wilderness. We came across other hikers, struggling with the steep climb to the Cradle plateau, the weight of their backpacks dragging. I could sense their fear and trepidation as they wondered what the hell they had got themselves into.
I also wanted to take this challenge because Birgit and I had decided not to climb the Mountain (an Overland side trail) and I held some regret about that. The weather closed in that day in 2009 and you couldn’t see the top of the mountain so we rationalised the climb would not be worth it as you wouldn’t be able to see the view. Deep down, if I’m honest though, I was terrified about the Overland challenge before me and I was just too darned scared to give it a go.
The first part of the day’s hike was enjoyable though challenging at times due to the ascent. But I was not really prepared for the clamber to the summit! The track disappears and markers, peeping out of strewn boulders, show the way. It is a scramble on all fours more than a climb and even using hands, arms and legs, sometimes it was a stretch to find a suitable line. All the while my heart was beating in my head such that I thought it might burst, with rests needed more frequently, the higher the ascent. Yes, I made it but it was a push and at times I was left wondering why the hell I liked to take on such challenges! I was glad Christopher waited and stayed with me through the most difficult sections. But what a view at the top!
We returned to the Lodge after 6.5 hours climbing, walking and descending. Everything hurt. Why had I thought that I didn’t need to prepare … that I was fit enough??? I wasn’t and I knew the next day’s challenge would be even more demanding. Thank God for a glass of wine … a justified reward.
I have to admit I was rather nervous when I awoke the next day. We prepared ourselves for the hike into the Walls of Jerusalem to camp and take a look around. We were delayed entering the park until the heat of the day, fully decked carrying 15-16 kilos each. Unfortunately we had no track maps and no idea what to expect.
It was worse than I anticipated. The first two hours were a sustained, steep and quite difficult climb. Was my heart thumping again? You better believe it! At times the pain in my chest had me wondering … my heart and lungs were working so hard. Chris was ahead and out of sight. He made it to the Trapper’s Hut in about an hour but retraced his steps to help me with my pack for 300 metres of the climb. I was slow and needing to rest more frequently trying to keep my heart rate manageable. Why did I think I didn’t need to prepare????
Two hours sustained climb and we emerged within the Walls. The track was easier … pleasant even, except for our fatigue and the need to lug our packs to the camp site. We arrived at the Wild Dog camp ground in just under 4 hours! We were exhausted, me more so.
We had the camp to ourselves and ventured no further, electing to setup, rest and eat. It was a beautiful night though cool. I do love the isolation of camping in the wilderness. It is something special … makes you appreciate your surroundings in a way nothing else can.
Despite this, I did shed a tear that night as I went to sleep, wondering again, “Why the hell do I want to take on such challenges?” To make our haul into the camp site worthwhile, meant hiking around the Walls in the morning. But my fatigue and energy were such that I wasn’t sure I could manage it. I just wanted to hike out and have the adventure behind me.
Chris survived the night with no mattress. He padded the wooden platform with clothes and seemed to manage better than expected. No doubt the bottle of wine he’d carried in his pack helped!
After a good night’s rest, I managed to muster the courage to take a look around. We left our camp to explore the Walls. I’m glad I did, despite my reservations. The walls were spectacular imposing structures. We followed the Western Wall for a couple of kilometres. The track was easy and we had no weight bar water and light refreshments. We explored for several hours and as we returned to camp to pack up I marvelled at the scenery around me. I remembered why I made myself take these challenges. In making such an effort, I had been able to see and experience things beyond the reach of most people. Putting in some real work and pressing through some difficulties was the only way to experience some of nature’s majesty.
We packed up and hiked out. Yes of course it was easier going down hill but a sustained descent presents its own challenges and is hard on feet and knees. My God, we were glad to get back to the car, take off our packs and boots and move onto the less challenging aspects of our holiday!
Would I do it all again? Yes I would and will! I’ve learned that some rewards are only found by pushing through to new thresholds but next time I would definitely prepare myself with suitable training! The whole experience made me reflect on something my girlfriend Susy Goldner shared with me once. She believed such a physical challenge was fun in the preparation and planning and wonderful to share and brag about with friends and family afterwards but considered that the doing was not necessarily the best part. Maybe she’s right, but I do love being in the wilderness.
Though I’m tempted at times, I can’t stop pushing and trying. That would be like giving up … and that would be like getting old!!
Michelle and Matt’s unexpected visit to Spring Creek was most welcomed. Having to attend a funeral in Gatton, they took the opportunity to come and visit us. As they are living in Mackay at the moment they borrowed a friend’s Mini Cooper S. A cute little car but with some major design defects that we were about to identify …
On the way out to take a look around on Day 2, they noticed a flat tyre. But, to their dismay, they discovered the Mini Cooper S does not have a spare!! Instead it is supplied with a tin of tyre seal which is intended to get you to the nearest fix-it-up place within 10ks. Not an appropriate solution for Spring Creek! As the tear in the tyre was not repairable, this left us in a serious dilemma.
Switching to problem solving mode, we eventually decided on a course of action. As all the tyres on the mini were dangerously bald, we decided to plug the hole as best we could and limp the little car out to the Gore shop before replacing the ripped tyre – in case we needed to repair any others.
Cautiously, we made it to the Gore store without incident, parked the vehicle around the back of the shop for safety (ha ha) and removed the wrecked tyre. As we prepared to set off to Stanthorpe, where we knew (unusually) of a tyre shop open on Saturday afternoon, that’s when the unexpected happened!
A large box gum nearby the parked cars, decided to take that second to throw a huge branch. It crashed down on top of the two vehicles!!!! Michelle was standing near the Navara but it luckily missed her. I was sitting in the back of the Navara with the door open.
The force of one branch pushed the door shut. I sat in the vehicle stunned and rather shocked. The windscreen was smashed.
Matt could do nothing but laugh as he watched, amused that this could happen after all the care we had taken to this point. It took Shell and myself a bit to stop trembling and regain our normal levels of adrenalin.
What a day.
Time to go home for a few Magaritas and a nice cold beer!!
Is it fun because I’m burning around the paddock on my quad bike?
Courageous bounding logs and rocks and narrowly escaping stump holes,
Chasing reluctant cows and pestering inquisitive calves when it’s time to move them on?
Is it fun because of the great Aussie bush myth?
The romantic idea of the fearless cowboy … the muscle-bound jackaroo?
Is it a connection with our historical roots, the Aussie bush pioneer who shaped our nation?
Or is it fun because of our sense of dominion?
The cows exist at our behest, grown for the sizzling steak on the great Aussie barby.
We breed them, feed them, herd them, wielding our power hither and thither?
Is it fun when we force them into the yards?
They know what’s coming, their reluctance evident in their stubbornness,
The battle more and more difficult the closer we get (our uniquely engineered funnel doesn’t trick them anymore).
Is it fun when we yell and curse and crack the whip?
Nearly ramming their backsides in our persistence and shortening temper.
We push, we prod, we yell … but … we never give up.
Is it fun because we rule supreme?
Eventually their wills give way and they jostle and push through the gates.
Captured at last in the yards, waiting to endure the day’s work.
There is no escape now.
Is it fun because the muster home is always so much easier?
It’s almost too hard to keep up as they race away, eager to get back.
Except the Mum’s that have left behind their young.
They moo and turn and moo and turn.
Is it fun because it is that battle of wills?
Us and against them, human against beast, predator against prey.
Is it fun? I’m not sure, but when all’s said and done, I’ll be back on my bike to do it all again.
I’ve said all along that I like mustering but our muster last Friday would have to rank as the best experience yet.
We had a very large (700 kg+), aggressive (and not very productive) bull roaming around CAMBREN for several months. Needing to get him to market, we managed to put him with our first-calf heifers for a few days. Last Thursday we set off to muster them all into the yards so that we could take the bull to sale and give the rest a vitamin B shot.
Well, that was the beginning of a very long day. That naughty bull must have been up to some mischief. We don’t know exactly what he did but whatever it was, he gave our two young bulls a very big scare. So much so that they pushed through the fence in several places into the large paddock next door called Back Hops (with a horde of compliant heifers in tow) to escape him. What should have taken only a morning to do, took us all day and we still had to return the next day to push the herd back to their “home” in Hops (without the naughty bull who was by then in the yards at Spring Creek).
I had been unsuccessful running down one of the young bulls in Back Hops the day before, so we decided to get him together.
That’s when the fun really started …
I managed to find him close to the back boundary … and so the chase began. Our normally lumbering sedate young bull (son of Ramesees who we used to pat on the head) had turned into a terrified charging beast. But I was on his tail, tearing across the Traprock, leaping logs and rocks in chase. Smart young bull that he was, he took for the heavier country and had me bush bashing though thick Peach and Rosemary. I laid a significant trail behind me, I have no doubt. But I had no time to look back. I had to keep that bull insight. I was in full chase.
Somehow I managed to steer him towards our goal – the gate into Hops (where he was supposed to be). Whether that was by good fortune or my skillful mustering ability, it’s difficult to say, but I prefer to believe the latter.
Chris joined me, thank goodness, just as he disappeared into a heavily timbered forest where neither the quad nor the two-wheeler could go. But he didn’t take off, he just stood and watched us … and waited.
And so the next part of the chase began …
Chris, on foot, managed to steer him out of the forest (the stock don’t really like forests) and from there we were either on our bikes fighting the throttle to keep pace, or on foot pushing him out of gullies or stacks but all the while working to steer him towards the fence (a great way to stop a running bull). In such a chase you loose track of where you are, especially in such a large paddock but we knew we were heading generally towards the fence. Once against the fence, it is always easier to push the stock in the direction you want.
It seemed to take forever to find that fence. But finally we came upon it and No. 99 stopped short and began a more gentle stroll towards the gate … he must have been buggered after all that running! We didn’t quite make it to the gate before he pushed through a weak spot in the fence but he was finally in Hops – where he was supposed to be. I eased my hand off the throttle, pulled up the quad and sat back feeling very satisfied as I stilled the adrenalin flow.
We got him!