Cradle Mountain/Maria Island Trip – Jan 2017

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Departing Sydney early one Saturday morning bound for Launceston

In January 2017, a group of fourteen scouts, ex-scouts, leaders and parents ventured down south to experience the natural beauty of Tasmania’s world-heritage-listed Cradle Mountain National Park and to enjoy the quiet beauty of Maria Island off the spectacular coast of eastern Tasmania.

As all experienced hikers in alpine Tasmania will know, the weather, even in mid-summer, can be extremely fickle with reports of snow, in January, not uncommon.  Cradle Mountain itself has an average of only 6 clear days every January and just under 70 in a year – it’s one of the rainiest and overcast places in Australia.

The Tambo Group spent considerable time preparing and planning.  Pre-hikes, menu plans and gear preparation focussed on coping with hot, cold and wet conditions.  They were well prepared.

The Group departed Sydney on an early Saturday morning flight, conveniently flying directly to Launceston where they piled into a  minibus and, with gear in tow, travelled to the Cradle Mountain National Park.  The next day, carrying heavily laden packs, they hiked up the infamously rough Horse Track to the Baden Powel Memorial Scout Lodge which was to be home for several days.

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Resting on Marions Lookout with Cradle Mountain in the background

They explored many of the major day-hike tracks and sights around Cradle including Crater Lake, Marions Lookout, Ballroom Forest, Lake Wilks, the Face Track, and Kitchen Hut. There was some excitement as some in the Group assisted with the “rescue” of a small group of ill-equipped Chinese tourists as they were descending back to Dove Lake late in the day as the sun was setting and the temperature was dropping.  Some others in the Tambo Group even got a small taste that day of how quickly the temperatures can drop and the wind can come up as they took temporary shelter in Kitchen Hut – specially reserved for such emergencies.

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The summit of Cradle Mountain on a rare cloud-free day

The Tambo Group spent the next day ascending and descending Cradle. The Group lingered on the summit for a long lunch enjoying magnificent, rare, cloud-free 360-degree views.

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Canyoning in the Dove River

On their fourth day, after hiking back down from BP Lodge, the group spent an afternoon canyoning in the Dove River. The extraordinary clear and warm weather had lasted for the full three days they were in the Park – seasoned tour guides were heard to remark that the weather was the best they had experienced in many years.

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Cradle Mountain in the north-west and Maria Island in the south-east

The long trip diagonally south-east to the seaside fishing town of Triabunna passed along hair-raising roads – racing to meet the last scheduled daily ferry to Maria Island National Park.  The island has an eclectic past involving convicts, tourism and mining entrepreneurs, and wildlife conservation.  Our Tambo Group spent time getting to know the island and its history, swimming, exploring parts of it by push-bike, discovering the extensive concentration of wildlife, including Cape Barren Geese, wombats and Tasmanian Devils (yes, close up viewing of the Devils), and climbing the spectacular Bishop and Clerk Mountain.  Again, the Group was lucky to have (mostly) fine and clear weather for their time on Maria Island.

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Robbie risks all to photograph the departure from Maria Island in high seas

The ferry trip off the island coincided with a change in the weather and some very high winds.  The Group, aided by the local Ranger, pushed their gear on large trolleys along a jetty as waves crashed over them.  The ferry trip back was more adventurous than the trip on calm seas a few days earlier.  The ferry rose up on high waves before crashing down with a thump ahead of the next wave.  Dolphins were even seen leaping in and out of the water alongside the heaving ferry.

Back in Triabunna, the Group, some a little green, re-boarded their minibus.  This time for a more leisurely trip back to Launceston via the beachside holiday town of Bicheno and a route passing through the many tiny farming townships along the Fingal Valley.

At Launceston Airport the Group had a final moment of excitement as they ate their dinner awaiting a delayed flight back to Sydney that was within moments of missing Sydney Airport’s notorious curfew – many were starting to look forward to an unexpected last night in Tassie, comfortably accommodated in a Launceston hotel.

They are very pleased to report – 0 injuries, only 4 blisters, just 2 snake sightings, 2 broken Maria Island bikes, 100% of their planned itinerary achieved and an extraordinary average trip satisfaction score (by the Scouts) of 9.8/10!

A big thank you to the leaders and parents who came along to help: Christine, Vanden, Paul, Steve, Fabrice, and Kim.

And also to the boys for being so well prepared: Gabe, Luke, Duncan, Xavier, Isaac, Lucien, Tim and Robbie.

A selection of the many photo’s taken can be found here.

Cox’s River Hike – Sept 2016

015b4dc4f73f49374ff17b3f4741363c9cb6df34efThe hike from the Explorers Tree near Katoomba down to Cox’s River in the Megalong Valley is approximately 15.5km and passes through the picturesque Nellie’s Glenn, along fire trails, past a campsite at Old Ford Crossing, through farmland and down through bushland to Cox’s River and a large campsite on the bank of the river.  The track crosses the river over a long swinging bridge high above the river. The route follows the Six Foot Track which extends on a further 30 km to the Jenolan Caves.  Tambo has put on this hike every couple of years in recent times.  It’s a good introductory hike offering alternative starting points and other options depending on the experience level of the Scout. Swimming in Cox’s River can be chilly but fun.  The walk back to Old Ford Crossing is about 7km uphill and can be tough going with a heavy pack in the heat of the morning.  It’s a very popular hike.

This year was no exception.  Eleven new and experienced Scouts with two accompanying Leaders set off from Explorers Tree early Saturday morning and made quick progress down to Old Ford Crossing where two parents and a two additional Scouts joined the group for lunch and the continuing hike down to Cox’s River.  The campsite, luckily, only had a few other hikers and campers staying overnight and the riverbank – usually very crowded – was completely deserted which is where we chose to setup our camp.

Darkness fell soon after we arrived which meant we had limited time for pitching tents and cooking dinner – but everyone managed to erect their tent and have a good meal ahead of a very surprising early bed…some very tired Scouts.

The weather had been threatening rain all day but it remained clear.  The night was chilly and we had very little dew which helped considerably with packing up the next morning.

After a leisurely breakfast, the group started the journey back.  We had a brief swim in the river (too cold for much more than that).  The steep walk back to Old Ford Crossing tested everyone and despite a ride being offered to some for the last little bit of the walk, which was politely declined, everyone completed the hike successfully.

In addition to introducing the newer Scouts to overnight hiking and generally having a good weekend, this year the hike also offered those Scouts who are participating in the forthcoming Tasmanian Cradle Mountain and Maria Island trip in January the opportunity to test their gear, and themselves.

Photo’s can be found here and a very short aerial video of the lunch stop at Old Ford Crossing can be found here.

Blue Gum Forest Hike – Apr 2016

IMG_0027 Blue Gum Forest is situated in the Grose Valley in the Blue Mountains National Park.  It is a stand of magnificent blue gum eucalypt trees.  There is a large camping area nearby at Acacia Flat. There are several tracks to chose from to reach the forest.  Tambo selected a difficult 25km route starting from Victoria Falls Lookout, descending into the Grose Valley, walking along the  Grose River to Blue Gum Forest and Acacia Flat and then exiting via Junction Rock, Govett Gorge, past Bridal Veil Falls and up to Govetts Leap Car Park.  The hike was specifically aimed to give the more experienced Tambo Scouts something more challenging than they had done previously with Tambo.  Kim’s photos can be found here and Ivan’s here.

Scout Hike – May 2015

IMG_4256This year, three Patrols from Tambo are going to Scout Hike. Further reports as they come to hand will be posted here.  Photo’s from the Friday night departure from Meadowbank Park and others as they come to hand can be found here.

Saturday night update from Ivan: Choomahs (aka Tumors), Luke’s Patrol, had completed 15 Bases of 28; Tambogans (Ben’s Patrol) had completed 16; and Knights under Canvas (Ollie’s Patrol) had completed 8.  The weather was showery.  Tambogans and Knights Under Canvas were at Sleep Point 4 on Saturday night (where Ivan was staying).  The new tents were getting rave reviews.  Spirits were high.

Sunday night update:  A BIG congratulations to Choomahs who finished in the gold level (top 12).  203 Patrols are listed on the website so this is a great effort.  There appears to be an administrative issue with the registration for Tambogans which Steve is looking into. The Tambogans tell us that they completed 27 of the 28 Bases and had a score which would also put them in the gold level. Knights Under Canvas, from all reports, enjoyed the weekend in a relaxing fashion as they planned to.  Full results can be found here.

Royal National Park Coast Track Scout Hike – Sep 2014

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The Royal National Park’s Coast Track is a stunning 27 km walk that can be done in a day, or at a more leisurely 2-day pace, camping overnight at North Era campground.  The track goes from Bundeena to Otford and is usually walked in this direction.  Logistically, it was easier for the Scouts to do the trip in the reverse direction – from Otford to Bundeena.  The Scouts left early on Saturday morning from St Leonards Station in Artarmon, travelling by train to Otford commencing the walk north from there.  The Coast Track initially winds its way alongside steep cliffs before it descends steeply from the escarpment to the beach, passing through a palm jungle.  The overnight stop is about 8 km from the start at North Era camp ground, a grassy, sheltered, pleasant  location.  The second day is a further 19 km and the track winds its way over multiple headlands, across several soft white sandy beaches, alongside more cliff tops before eventually ending up in Bundeena.  From there the Scouts traveled to Cronulla by ferry and then back to St Leonards by train on Sunday evening.  It’s a near perfect introduction to an overnight hike for young walkers (a camp ground that is more mid-way along the track would make it perfect).  Pictures from the walk can be found by clicking the photo with more here (thanks Fabian/Lucian) – and even more here (thanks Chris).

Scout Hike – May 2014

IMG_3398‘Scout Hike’ is a competitive hiking competition for Scouts, conducted over a 2 day period, in which Patrols must find and complete as many activities as they can which have been set up in a State Forest.  Leaders and parents run the activities and the Scouts hike and camp independently and are fully self sufficient.  This year the event was held in a 25 square km area of Belanglo State Forest.  Tambo entered three Patrols and the Tambo ‘Knights Who Say Ni’ placed 8th overall earning a Gold Level Award.  Complete results can be found here.  And some more pics from another of the team on Activity Base 45 can be found here.

Six Foot Track Hike / Old Ford Reserve Camp – Mar 2014

IMG_3282Our latest Group activity was a repeat of a similar popular  activity two years ago in which we combined a Cub Family Camp and a Scout Hike.

The Cub Camp was based at Old Ford Reserve in the Megalong Valley part way along the famous Six Foot Track.  Cub activities included the Six Foot Track Hike, making Sling Shots, Geocaching,  Damper Cooking, Camp Fire with Marshmallows, Bush Tucker Walk, Tree Identification / Animal Tracking, and Badge Work.  Link to Cub Photo Album here.

The Scout Hike commenced at the Explorers Tree outside Katoomba.  The Cubs joined them for the first section of the hike which passed by their Old Ford Reserve Campsite.   The Scouts hiked on a further 8km to Cox’s River, camping overnight before returning to Old Ford Reserve the next day for a late lunch with the Cubs.

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The Scouts enjoyed swimming upon arrival and departure in Cox’s River.  Links to Scout Photo’s, Montage, Unlisted Youtube Video and GPS Track (open with Google Earth) here.  And more photo’s courtesy of Chris Grundy here.