Abseil/Zipline for PMH May 2016

Hardly slept the night before the zipline adventure as the enormity of this challenge was going around and around in my head. We have to be barking mad, why else would we eagerly sign up to zipline down 165 metres from the roof of the QVI building? Thoughts of at least we raised $500 each for the PMH Foundation to buy valuable equipment for Children’s hospital did little to quell my fears. We walked from Jill’s house in Leederville into the city and our nerves or at least mine were mounting.

Just had time to check in and don our bright orange t-shirts and have a quick last minute toilet break before we were ushered inside the building to be kitted out with our harnesses, hard hats and gloves and receive our final pep talk and instructions. Our harnesses were fitted and checked by the team of volunteers before we caught the elevator up to the 39th floor. We walked through the plant area to an outside area. The view was spectacular as we could see the ocean out to the west. We climbed up a spiral staircase to the rooftop and the nerves totally kicked in.

I asked if Colin was assisting in the zipline area and was told not at the moment as he was alternating between abseiling and zipline areas. Now Colin had promised me we had a date on top of QVI and he would be there to encourage me over the edge. Some friendly banter ensued between the other team members from Adventure Out Australia with one quipping to Colin “Don’t make promises with your mouth that your body can’t keep”.  All of the team members were friendly, encouraging and supportive. Jill knows by now that I have to go first as without her encouragement I will not have the courage to commit where heights are involved. So like a lamb to the slaughter I climbed the few steps to the platform and started to get attached to the rigging and received some further instructions.

The wind was strong on the roof and to counter the wind the zipline consisted of a double rope line for stability. As I sat on the each of the rooftop looking down, I thought I can’t do this however was determined to do it. We were meant to slip off and stop a few metres down on a ledge before descending fully, however once I was committed to go and actually moving I didn’t stop. It was terrifying initially until I settled into the descent and looked down and saw Jodi my daughter in law waving at me. I called out Jodi, Jodi and started waving madly all fear had left me by now and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Now committed to signing up earlier next year so I can do the abseil rather than the free fall zipline as really want to experience walking down the building.

 

Jill 2 Jill 3 Jill and I Jillphoto (005) photo (006) photo

Big thanks to the management, employees and volunteers associated with Adventure Out Australia as without their work this incredible fund raising adventure wouldn’t be possible. The return to the charity percentage is much healthier than other similar events. I would encourage anyone who has ever wanted to try abseiling to contact the team at Adventure Out Australia as they are friendly, encouraging, patient and very encouraging.  http://www.adventureout.com.au/

Beverly

 

 

Training Day for PMH Abseil/Zipline 10.4.16

The Abseil for PMH is an annual fund raising activity that raises valuable funds for the PMH Foundation. It is held over 3 full days and this year 350 people had signed up to either abseil or zipline. Unfortunately we didn’t get our application in early enough so missed out on abseiling option and had to settle for ziplining. This year everyone who had signed up had to do a half day training session with Adventure Out Australia in a quarry near Kalamunda. This was at no cost to the participant and the time and effort that the management, staff and volunteers associated with Adventure Out Australia put in over several weekends was amazing.

It was raining heavily in the morning with no sign of the rain clearing so I was concerned we would be training in the rain. The information email we had received in respect to the training day was training would be held rain, hail or shine. Not good considering I am precious about getting my hair wet. By lunch time the rain had stopped but the clouds still suggested rain was likely.

Arriving at the quarry we were welcomed by the team from Adventure Out and kitted out with gloves, a harness, and hard hat. Instructions were given as to the training program for the afternoon and how to use the equipment. Participants were either going to undertake zipline training or abseiling, with the people who were abseiling being required to tackle both cliff faces. We had a steep climb from the bottom of the quarry to the top and walked around to the zipline area. We waited in line for our turn and my nerves kicked in long before it was my turn. I was attached to the ropes and encouraged by Colin who was in charge of this area that it was perfectly safe and was simply a matter of stepping off. Unfortunately I can’t switch off my mind and despite edging over the side twice I insisted on being bought back up as my mind needed to know what happens on the ascent and what happens once you reach the bottom. I therefore had to walk back down the floor of the quarry and watch Jill’s descent. Once comforted I returned to the top and with lots of encouragement from Colin I descended. At the bottom he insisted that I come back up and have another turn and I am pleased I did as the second time was much easier.

As I am getting a little more confident each time I abseil I am determined to conquer this irrational fear I have of heights. I think a full day of abseiling with Adventure Out should conquer it once and for all. http://www.adventureout.com.au/

photo (007)photo (008)

Beverly Clarke

 

 

Jill and Beverly’s Second Epic Adventure February 2016

Amazing how quickly you can plan and undertake an adventure when your friend gets unexpected holidays. As I work for myself I can take time off pretty much when I want as long as I have reliable staff to work the couple of shifts I do each week. The work I do in my home office such as accounts, administration tasks and management can be attended to as required, irrespective of where I am.

As we had an incredible experience the last time we did an Adventure in Margaret River, a return trip was an obvious choice. Once again we were able to get reasonably priced accommodation through Jill’s Union. This time we weren’t as organised and didn’t book our activities before we left, but we had an idea of what we wanted to do.

Day One

We left Perth around 9am and had a leisurely relaxed drive, stopping at Cowaramup for some tasty supplies from the deli.  We visited the Margaret River Tourist Bureau to book a couple of activities namely Paddle Boarding and another abseil adventure with Mick. The Margaret River Tavern was a good choice for dinner and we planned our next day’s trek along a section of the Cape to Cape. We arranged for my friend Graham to meet us at 9am Tuesday morning at the start of the Cape to Cape Track  which is close to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse so we could leave my car at the completion of our planned walk and for him to drop us off at Cosey Corner. The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is located on the headland of Cape Leeuwin and it is the most south-westerly point on the mainland of the Australian Continent.

Day Two

Graham meet us at the carpark at the start of the track and then drove us to Cosey Corner to commence our days trek.  It was raining lightly when we started but a little rain wasn’t going to dampen our spirits. We were dropped off on a gravel road where we sighted a sign post indicating where the track crossed the road. Assuming the track would continue opposite this we commenced walking along what appeared to be a track. Of course we started to doubt ourselves when the track ceased to be a track and retraced our steps. Not seeing any indication of where the track could possibly start we decided to persevere on what we thought was the track and ventured through some overhanging bushes and shrub. Realised this couldn’t possibly be the track and once again backtracked and searched for a sign post further along the gravel road. Success at last when we found that familiar sign post and we commenced our day’s trek. Pleased to report we didn’t venture off the trail again that day as this section is well sign posted. We had previously been told this was one of the prettiest sections of the track and the photos show it clearly is. A relatively easy 21 km walk along a limestone ledge overlooking the beach, a long stretch of beach with soft sand which is about 6.5 kms long, before heading inland through wooded forest. Every so often we would catch sight of the Leeuwin Lighthouse which gradually got closer and closer.  Along the limestone ledge we saw a number of blowholes and had to navigate some narrow sections which certainly make the trek interesting.

Cosey Corner photo (00A) photo (00B) photo (00C) photo (007) photo (008) photo (009)photo (00D) photo (00E)photo (002) photo (003) photo

 

Day 3

We meet our guide and instructor at the Margaret River Tourist Bureau for Stand Up Paddle boarding and traveled in his vehicle to a secluded picnic/campsite in the National Park. This was the same location we kayaked from with  Paul from Surf n Dirt Adventure Tours on our first Epic Adventure last September.   We started in one of the tributaries to the Blackwood River to learn the intricacies of Stand Up Paddle Boarding. Standup Paddle Boarding or SUP for those in the know was a little challenging initially, as you need to gain the confidence to stand up and balance yourself. Certainly works your core as you have to constantly work to stabilise yourself. Jill was a natural and more confident than I was however I eventually stood up and paddled around. I alternated between standing up, kneeling and sitting on the board during my time on the water.

You are certainly thrown in the deep end as once you gain a little confidence it is straight out onto the Blackwood River for a paddle upstream. Slower going than kayaking however we both managed to handle the boards. Jill was definitely more confident and skilled than I was, however I was pleased to have another challenge or skill under my belt. We managed to stay aboard our boards right up until we turned and commenced entering the tributary. I would have stayed on except Jill crashed into me and took us both down. This necessitated us having to master climbing aboard our boards, very difficult to do. After struggling initially we were both aboard and ventured forth without any further incidents.

Our afternoon adventure was catching up with Mick Dempsey again for another abseil into a cave. Mick’s suggestion was to abseil into an open cave and climb out via a wire ladder, sound fine. Jill went first and descended easily and waited patiently at the bottom surrounded she keeps reminding me with snakes for me to descend and join her. As usual I over analyse and worry about what happens next instead of concentrating on the task in hand ie the abseil down. Once down you obviously have to get out and as Mick kept reminding me climbing the wire ladder which is tiny wouldn’t be difficult and he was there to pull us up if necessary. Three times I managed to get over the side only to come back up again and no amount of coaxing could get me to commit to the abseil. Really must get over my irrational fear of heights as once I commit and am on my way I am fine. Unfinished business and next trip to Margaret River I will do this abseil. Jill still reminds me that I left her alone and abandoned in the bottom of the cave. Mick climbed down to meet her and they explored inside the cave and then he ascended the wire ladder ready to assist Jill. It was a difficult climbed for her and Mick practically dragged her up, she was covered in bruises after her ascent but enjoyed the experience.  www.margaretriverclimbingco.com.au

We had a relaxing evening reclining in bean bags, snuggled up in our jumpers, coats and a blanket at Cape Mantelle winery

Day 4

Jill only wanted to do a short walk today so we intended walking from Yallingup to Smiths Beach and return a relative short distance. I never like backtracking and as it panned out our plans changed over the course of the trek. Once through Yallingup we commenced the beach section of our walk. Stunning outlook once we got back onto solid ground and climbed up a very steep ascent. As usual we took a wrong turn and realised our mistake quickly when we were atop a large hill with no descent paths. Not deterred we took the opportunity to have a snack break. Not sure if it was the spectacular scenery, serenity or feeling at one with nature but it became a spiritual break. Jill and I talked about her husband Justin who died a few years ago after a long battle with cancer. Jill saying that she pushes herself to experience our adventures not only for herself but because Justin didn’t get the opportunity. We retraced our steps and found the right path and continued walking along the cliff top path. We decided to keep walking until we reached a certain car park and then get a taxi from Dunsborough to come and pick us up and drive us to our car. However the car park we intended walking to was not on the Cape to Cape Track and we ended up walking a few kilometres further. We googled taxis and a very friendly lady answered our call and said she would be with us in ten minutes. Enjoyed our taxi ride with her as she was very knowledgeable and friendly and will certainly use her services again.

Cape to Cape Signphoto (018) photo (017) photo (016) photo (015) photo (014) photo (013) photo (012) photo (01C) photo (01B) photo (01A)

The day concluded with a late lunch at a nice restaurant and a visit to Lavender Cottage for scones with lashings of lavender jam and cream.

Day 5

I got up early and packed my things and cleaned up some of the apartment whilst Jill was still sleeping. Decided to walk into the main street of Margaret River to fill in some time before we packed the car for our return to Perth. We had a leisurely trip back to Perth and Jill managed to attend her Personal Training session at her local Gym in the afternoon whilst I went to Yoga. Another great adventure completed and looking forward to the next one.

Regards Beverly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Muddy 30th April 2016

Obstacle Races are an adventure activity I share with my youngest son’s partner Jodi and we have been sharing these special activities for a couple of years. I did my first obstacle race “Warrior Dash” in May 2013 with a couple of girlfriends. Though we all thoroughly enjoyed the experience they have both declined to do any others. I am the precious one who doesn’t like getting her hair wet and doesn’t like being dirty however all of that goes out the window when enjoying an Obstacle Race.

As to why Jodi and I have been bitten by the bug and love Obstacle Races, you have to look beyond the competing as it is so much more.  Obstacle Races attract competitors from all walks of life, all ages, men and women equally irrespective of size or fitness. Each race we have competed in to date we have been humbled by the generosity of other competitors. There is no winner just people out to have fun and get down and dirty and dirty you certainly get.  Strangers have no hesitation is offering a hand, leg up, encouragement or just simply to push you over an obstacle you are struggling with. No angst and no aggravation just everyone having a go with lots of fun and laughter.

Obstacle races are basically a sport in which a competitor either individually or as part of a team walks or runs and must complete challenges in the form of obstacles along the trail. Mud is an integral part of the adventure and the races are designed to result in both mental and physical challenge to the competitor. Obstacles can include but are not limited to climbing over walls, carrying heavy objects often up steep terrain, traversing bodies of water, crawling under barbwire often through mud, jumping over fire, water slides, Monkey bars and climbing cargo nets. Some obstacles are similar to those used in military training whilst others are unique to obstacle racing. Most capital cities in Australia have several obstacle races each year. Such races vary in distance to traverse and the number and style of obstacles, but all are designed to test endurance, strength, dexterity and speed.

The minimum obstacle race we have competed in has been 5km with about ten obstacles to 12km with from memory 30 obstacles. I always baulk at the two sided cargo nets that are attached to a high narrow timber rail as you have to climb up, lie down and balance on the narrow timber support and manipulate your body over to begin the descend. I simply don’t like heights and haven’t since I was a small child. I always baulk but manage to complete this obstacle after lots of encouragement from Jodi. I like to think though that I am getting better at handling them though. I have learnt to enjoy the water slides, some of which have ended up in dirty dams. If the obstacle involves electric shocks I choose to walk around these ones as they normally follow an ice pit which is a deliberate ploy to heighten the sensation of the electric shock.  My favourite obstacles are crawling through the mud pits especially under cargo nets or barbed wire. If at the end you aren’t covered in mud from the top of your head down, you haven’t completed all of the obstacles.

Miss Muddy was first held in Perth at Ascot Race Course last year but we both chose not to participate as thought an obstacle race designed for “Women Only” wouldn’t be tough or challenging another.  This year however we decided to test the water as it was the first obstacle race we had the chance to do for 2016 and both very pleased we did.

First up the best feature was the location being within walking distance of my house, normally we have a long drive into the hills and several hundred kilometres. What was pleasing to see was the variety of women competing in respect to age and size and fitness levels. So many women out getting dirty and having fun. It contained all of the usual obstacles and a couple of extra fun ones. Snow ball fights with Jelly like small balls was fun, however perhaps that was just Jodi and I as I think the intention was simply to wade through the jelly pit. We loved the water cannon which shot coloured water at us. The mud wasn’t as muddy as normal so we needed to roll around to get dirty and totally covered. Nice short course of around 5kms and a couple of hours of immense fun. Will definitely do Miss Muddy again next year as it was fun.

I encourage everyone to have a go at an obstacle race as you may surprise yourself and find your inner child as you roll around in the mud. Obstacle races are for everyone irrespective of whether you are young or mature like me, fit or unfit as everyone is there to help you get through. Refer to the attached link for a calendar of upcoming Obstacle Races Australia wide. http://www.obstacleracers.com.au/race-calendar

Monkey Bars Miss Muddy Beverly

 

Beverly

Jill and Beverly’s Epic Adventure September 2015

Jill and I had tossed around the idea of walking the Cape to Cape for a few months.  The Cape to Cape Track is situated in the far south western corner of Western Australia and is one of Australia’s iconic walking tracks.  It runs for 135 km through the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and is situated between the lighthouses of Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin.  The Track mostly follows the coastline and trekkers are rewarded with spectacular sweeping cliff-top views with stretches of pristine beach and also several sections that are inland through the Boranup Karri Forest and sheltered woodlands. The Friends of the Cape to Cape have a comprehensive website www.capetocapetrack.com.au for those wanting more information or wishing to undertake the trek.

As Jill didn’t want to tackle the entire track on this occasion I planned a 5 day break with a couple of sections of the track plus some other new adventures.  We referred to this as Jill and Beverly’s Epic Adventure and it certainly started off that way. We set off around midday on a sunny Sunday morning with the aim of staying overnight at Four Seasons Caravan Park www.fourseasonsresort.com.au which is owned by my friend Bill. We were cruising along the freeway and a warning light came indicating I had lost tyre pressure in one of my tyres. As my car has run flat tyres and no spare we travelled slowly to a service station. When the tyre wouldn’t take any air we called the RAC and waited patiently for them to arrive. Unfortunately the tyre needed to be replaced and my car was towed home and we had to wait until the next morning to replace the tyre.

The next morning I decided to ere on the side of caution and replaced all four tyres and once again we set off on the Epic Adventure. Monday was overcast with drizzle but that didn’t dampen our spirits, however the late start did necessitate a change of plans for Day 1 trek from Canal Rocks to Cape Naturalist a distance of 18.5 kilometres to a shorter trek from Yallingup to Cape Naturalist. It was still very overcast when we pulled into a carpark just outside the township of Yallingup. We had wet weather gear which we hastily put on as it was starting to rain heavily. Back packs on and appropriate attire we set off looking for the first post with the Cape to Cape emblem on it. Initially the track was well marked, spirits were high and rain eventually stopped and we settled into the walk. Scenery was spectacular and we became used to the marked posts every 500 metres or so.  We were walking along a road which appeared to be a four wheel track and passed a group of people trekking from the opposite direction. We learnt very quickly that the path is not always well marked when the path/four wheel drive track veered slightly to the right. As there was no contra indication that the path continued straight ahead we veered left and continued walking eventually coming to a carpark with a toilet block. At times we doubted we were on the right path with Jill commenting we hadn’t seen a sign post for a long time, I commented that I was concerned we didn’t see any tracks from the group we had passed. At the carpark/toilet area feeling uncertain we walked down to the cliff face and couldn’t see any sign posts indicating that the cape to cape track proceeded along the rocky cliff top. In the absence of any signposts to the contrary we continued along the same path, questioning ourselves constantly and referring to our guidebook when doubt set in which it often did. Our guidebook didn’t say anything about a gate which blocked our path and being total novices at this trekking caper we went through and continued walking along the gravel track. Even a dodgy section that had two rubber strips that even to us novices suggested it was to stop vehicles from slipping on the incline didn’t stop our determined trek in the direction we assumed the lighthouse was as Cape Naturalist. We appeared to be heading towards a telecommunications tower and we were fully aware that several hours had already passed since we started and by our calculations we should have been enjoying a hot chocolate and marshmallows by now.  As we were sitting beside the road, once again studying the guide book, discussing our growing suspicion that we were surely well and truly lost and off the cape to cape track a car came along and enquired if we were okay. I asked if we were on the Cape to Cape track and we were quickly informed that we were several kilometres of track. We apparently were close to a road which lead us to the lighthouse however we needed to make the right decision as darkness was less than an hour away. Ahead was more unknown but the promise of a road that was frequented by numerous vehicles we could flag down for a lift, whilst behind us was a path though the wrong path for our intended planned destination held no unknowns as we had already traversed it. The added benefit was if we hurried we perhaps could get back to where we made the wrong turn so when we attempted that section again we wouldn’t make the same mistake.

With headlights, warmer clothes, water and snacks in our backpacks we turned around and retraced our steps thoroughly enjoying our adventure despite being temporary off track, some doomsayers may say lost. When we again reached the toilet block/car park we walked down to the cliff checking for signs indicating that the goat tracks could be the actual cape to cape, however no signs. The only alternate was to continue along the same path. Darkness was descending and it was starting to get chilly when we eventually discovered were we had drifted of the Cape to Cape track which was right back where the original track veered slightly to the right. We should have continued straight ahead to a rocky goat track which had a marked sign post a short distance along. That section of the track needs to be better marked especially where the track deviates and changes.

We continued onwards towards Yallingup by the light of our headlights, reminding ourselves how many times we have been caught out by miscalculating distances in the past despite vowing never to put ourselves in the position of walking through bushland at night again. Both knowing it won’t be the last time and that each time we will chide ourselves but enjoy every moment of the adventure or misadventure.

What a welcome sight when you see the lights of your destination getting closer and closer and knowing that the warmth of the car is not far off. We started our trek at 1pm and arrived back at the car around 7pm on what should have been at the most a 4 hour trek. The experience gained from our first attempt at trekking the Cape to Cape was invaluable however we were to learn, a couple of days later that wouldn’t stop us from getting off track again.

We headed into Margaret River to our accommodation for the next four night. Sore muscles from the trekking were soon forgotten after we were fed, showered and in bed.

Day Two began with a ride through the National Park for a few hours on electric quad bikes. It was bitterly cold and drizzling but when you are on an adventure experiencing something new such trivial inconveniences don’t rate. Our guide was knowledgeable and passionate about the area and to gain approval to operate within the national park had to pass stringent conditions to satisfy the eco standards. The bikes had been modified to the operator’s specifications and were the first of their kind in Australia. We stopped at a few significant landmarks on the ride, which was fortuitous when we embarked on our second adventure for the day which was abseiling with Mick. We were shown Dingo’s solution pipe which leads down into cave 12 metres down. The solution pipe is formed by tree roots. www.ecoadventuresmargaretriver.com

Dingo cave

Dingo Cave via Solution Pipe

Quad bikes

After a quick lunch we met Mick Dempsey from Margaret River Climbing Company for our afternoon abseil adventure at the Margaret River Tourist Bureau. We asked where we would be abseiling and Mick said Dingo’s solution pipe. Having seen Dingo’s we said in unison no way, it is too small, difficult and frightening you need to find us another solution. Solution two was an abseil into Jewel cave, exploration of the cave and an easy climb out. Mick was very encouraging and patient with both of us, not sure about being called “Chickadee” though. To access the cave we had to walk backwards down the wire caged ramp and step blindly into the narrow opening leading into the cave. It was a dark and a little scary walk down several metres inside the solution pipe, but once through the solution pipe the cave opened up and we did a freefall abseil into the cave. My nervousness with abseiling is always there until I am well under way.  Mick abseiled down to join us in the cave and we explored deep within the cave. We concluded the day with afternoon tea provided by Mick. www.margaretriverclimbingco.com.au

Beverly Abseiling Jill Abseiling

 

Day Three was to be a simple coastal and forest walk from Hamelin Bay to Cantos camp ground a distance of 20 kms with a considerable amount on soft sand. We had arranged for a local business who provide a drop off/pick up service for people walking the Cape the Cape. Bearing in mind our knowledge of the intricacies of the Cape to Cape were what we gleaned from the guidebook, it would be reasonable to expect that our driver, who was exceptionally experienced with the track would advise us that were we were leaving our car was approximately 4 kms from the track and ask us if we wanted to park closer. However I am getting ahead of myself and this didn’t become an issue until much later in the day.

We started with much enthusiasm at 9am and expected to finish this section within five hours which was not an unreasonable expectation. The sand was soft and the walking was difficult but the weather and views made up for the discomfort. We were disappointment that on this occasion the stingrays were nowhere to be seen. The beach walking went on for a few hours and we had a steep climb up a slippery sand hill at the end of the beach walk. A rough rocky uphill four wheel track had to be climbed to gain access to the forest part of the walk. We were making reasonable time, having an enjoyable time chatting and solving the problems of the world and the track was well sign posted. It is always could when you are trekking and run into fellow trackers heading in the opposite direction. Early afternoon we ran into a large group and they advised us we had about 4 kms to go so I upped the pace and was keen to finish. We came to a camp ground that was mentioned in our guidebook and just outside the camp ground the directions went awry. We had a t-junction obviously we wouldn’t go to the left as we would be heading back the way we had just came but along a road instead, a gate blocking a road was to the right and to us it made sense to continue straight ahead. No signs anywhere so we both decided to walk towards the beach which was obviously in front of us. Big mistakes which we realised after an hour of walking and no end in sight however we were unsure of where we went wrong so turning around didn’t make sense. We eventually hit a limestone gravel road that ran along the cliffs and knew the direction the camp ground was in. We were weary, foot sore and a little over trekking so when a ute came hurtling along behind us we hailed him down to check where we were and how far we had to go. He informed us that we were well off the track which we knew and that the camp ground was at least 5 kms away. A quick assessment of our situation and the time of day convinced us that it would be prudent to accept his offer of a lift to our car. A couple of kms along we discovered where the trail crossed the road we were on and realised we should have turned right and gone through the closed gate. Lessons learnt that day were the guide book is not as comprehensive as it should be, ask more questions and that the trail needs to be clearly marked at each junction and if we don’t see frequent signs turn road and retrace our steps to the last sign. Besides our getting off track or lost we did have an enjoyable day and our enthusiasm for trekking was still strong.

Day Four was kayaking on the Blackwood River and four wheel driving with Paul from Surf n Dirt Adventure Tours. We meet Paul at the Margaret River Tourist Bureau and travelled in his late model four wheel drive vehicle to a secluded camp area in the National Park. We had a double kayak which we launched in a tributary to the Blackwood River. It was picturesque, calm and serene having a lazy easy paddle up the river, however it does take some time to become accustomed to paddling with a partner when you are used to paddling your own canoe “so to speak”.

Paul had prepared an extensive picnic lunch for us which we enjoyed in the camp ground. The afternoon concluded with some four wheel driving through the forests and roads around Margaret River. Not necessarily my idea of an adventure or a good time. www.surfndirtadventuretours.com.au

Day Five started with riding a fat bike through the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Forest and along the beach. Fat bikes have wide tyres which have less air than normal bikes to provide traction, suspension, and flotation. Cam was our tour operator and we had great fun riding through the forest, the bikes were more challenging on the soft sand. www.capestocoast.com.au

Fat bikes

With the week of adventure winding up we needed to venture to Augusta for a visit and tour of the Leeuwin Lighthouse. Despite it being exceptionally windy, cold and exposed to the elements we enjoyed the informative self-guided tour. Fortified by some hot tasty cauliflower and cheese soup from the bakery we travelled to Cape Naturalist Lighthouse as we failed to make that target on Day One.

We had an uneventful trip home and as usual we had an exciting and challenging adventure.

Beverly

Kokoda Trek 2012

Since my recovery from cancer and my remission I had always considered myself to be a cancer survivor until my friend put it into perspective.  My friend Fran who successfully beat breast cancer in 2011 was the one who put it into perspective. She said “I had cancer now I don’t” a statement that clearly shows strength, determination and is a positive affirmation.

Unfortunately all of us either have a family member or know someone who has cancer, has had cancer or died from cancer.  I have always lived a healthy lifestyle, have never drunk alcohol or smoked cigarettes nor partaken of recreational drugs, so I naturally thought, I, would never have life threatening cancer. I was a single parent who was working 60 hours per week as a Financial Controller in the IT Industry plus I had commenced study for my MBA. I initially ignored the first signs that I could be sick because I was simply too busy and kept working. We all think we are bullet proof and never stop to consider that perhaps something sinister is growing inside of us. I was diagnosed in December 2000 with advanced bowel cancer that had spread from my bowel into my ovaries and also into a couple of lymph nodes. I was diagnosed on a Friday and operated on the Saturday and commenced chemotherapy early February.

I had a long and difficult battle against my cancer and survived seven weeks in palliative care halfway through my treatment. I don’t want to focus on that aspect because each person’s journey through the turmoil of cancer is personal.  I want this to be a positive story full of inspiration and hope. What I will say is that never once did I think or accept that I may not survive. I would endure any form of treatment and continue fighting this insidious disease as leaving my beloved sons without their mother was not an option.

I would like to say that my experience with cancer bought about massive positive changes in my life, however it didn’t. I immediately went back to work to provide for my children and continued living my life as I previously had with one exception I stopped planning for the future as something deep down inside despite my positive attitude was saying perhaps I didn’t have one.

2012 had some periods of lows and some remarkable highs, but it was without doubt a year of positive change for me.  I was struggling both emotionally and physically in 2011 due to a number of issues that were going on in my personal and professional life.       At one stage I said to my former partner I hate my life because I have no life, I want my old life back. He looked at me with total bewilderment not understanding what my problem could be. My best friend was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in March which required surgery and chemotherapy and my good friend Justin was losing his 8 year battle against bowel cancer on Anzac Day. I was working 90 hours per week because I had relocated my business and turnover had dropped dramatically, exercise was a distant memory as I simply didn’t have the time and my personal relationship was not working. I believe that balance is the most important aspect to a healthy life and my balance was totally skewed. My relationship ended in November 2011 and I immediately started to gain some perspective and started making the right decisions in respect to myself and my business. My New Year’s resolution for 2012 was that I was going to be able to say honestly each and every day that I am blessed.

A first step was to recommence my exercise regime that prior to 2011 had consisted of daily two hour beach walks and the balance started returning to my life. My son Daniel and his girlfriend Julissa took me out to celebrate my 57th birthday in March. Julissa told us about a group of women she is involved with who had recently walked the Kokoda track. That night I googled Kokoda and decided to embark on an adventure that would confront a number of long held fears, limitations and would challenge me both physically and mentally. I found the website of Inspired Adventures https://inspiredadventures.com.au/ which is a company that has been set up to arrange a number of adventures that raise funds for numerous charities. Everything then fell into place in that it just happened to be the 70th anniversary of Kokoda and Cure Cancer Australia’s charity fundraiser coincided with the Fuzzy Wuzzy Day celebrations.

After walking Kokoda I can honestly say that nothing can prepare you for it and in particular Perth has no natural features or manmade facility that replicates any of the terrain on Kokoda. It is not an adventure that is suited for everyone though people of all ages successfully walk Kokoda, it is gruelling, challenging, inspirational and life changing.

I was fortunate to be part of an incredible team of people who walked the track in the footsteps of our diggers, eight of us doing it to raise money to fund cancer research and the other eight doing it for their own challenge.  The eight of us who walked Kokoda for Cure Cancer Australia had two objectives in signing up for the adventure. Of course the aim of raising funds was prominent however to sign up initially we all had a personal reason. We started out a group of people from five different states some of whom knew each other previously or had met whilst training and we became a tight team who will forever more have that shared experience. My life is richer for sharing this experience with my team and we will forever share a special bond. The funds that our team raised will fund a Cancer Researcher for nine months which is amazing.

Our adventure started at Brisbane airport on Wednesday October 31 when our team flew to Port Moresby. We are warned prior to arriving in Port Moresby that it is not safe to venture outside of the hotel complex so some of us are naturally a little concerned. We have a team dinner to get to know each other and receive our back pack that is to be carried by our personal porters and will contain all of our belongings. We each carry a small backpack for the supplies we will need during the day. Early on Thursday morning we board a couple of buses to be taken to the domestic airport for our flight to Popondetta At the airport you soon realise that there is actual time and PNG time, however as we have no time constraints we spend the time becoming acquainted with members of our team. At Popondetta we board an army type truck with two wooden seats down each side to travel four hours to Kokoda. It is an interesting trip with several river crossings most without a bridge. We were all amazed at the local petrol station PNG style when our truck stopped to be refuelled.

We spent our first night under canvas and I was surprised at how comfortable sleeping on the ground on very thin self inflating mattress could be.  We awoke to the sounds of the roosters crowing well before dawn a pattern that would continue every morning of the trek. It didn’t take long for someone to christen them “those fucking roosters”.

A few diggers who had fought on the Kokoda trail had returned for the first time since the war for the Wuzzy Day celebrations. It was a very moving ceremony and a great honour to talk to some of the diggers afterwards. We were introduced to the core values of the diggers which is MATESHIP, ENDURANCE, COURAGE and SACRIFICE and I am sure that we all reflected upon these qualities often during our trek. Until you walk the track you do not appreciate what these men when through to ensure that Australia was safe for future generations.

Mid afternoon we had elected to commence our trek as we were itching to get started instead of spending another night in Kokoda. We were introduced to our porters who would carry our packs and walk beside us to assist in areas of difficult terrain.

Day One consisted of a relatively flat walk of 8.4k from Kokoda to our first camping spot at Hoi Village. It didn’t take long before the humidity and heat was getting to us and we realised this was just the beginning. We experienced the first of many creek crossings on that day and in the days that followed. First priority on the track is to ensure that when you come to any water source you replenish your water bottles, so you always have purified water on hand. That night we experienced our first taste of doing it tougher as we washed in the cold stream without soap as the water source must be kept free of pollutants. Toilet facilities from now onwards were the delightful drop toilets in the village or finding a secluded spot in the jungle. We drifted off to sleep tonight as we would on every other night to the harmonious sound of the porter’s voices singing in their hut.

Day Two starts with a 5am wakeup call and we experience our first day of putting on damp clothes because it has rained overnight, a pattern that would continue for the remainder of our days. We had about a 1 ½ each morning to dress, pack our back packs and have breakfast and be ready to trek at 6.30. According to our Tour Leader Jim from Outback Adventures, today will be the test for us. If we make it through today the rest of the trek will get easier. It is an 8 hour 35 minutes steep mainly uphill climb of 1000 metres from Hoi Village to Alola Village and we will trek 12.9 kilometres. It didn’t take long before I was struggling to breathe because I had woken up with a chest infection and as usual that flared up my asthma. The narrow path is simply roots and mud and without the assistance of our walking sticks and porters it would be near impossible to climb.

The highlight of today was the Isarava memorial battle site where four large stone pillars which were quarried in South Australia, carved in Queensland & then bought in by helicopter have been erected to honour the memory of the soldiers who fought honourably at this significant site and along the Kokoda track. The words Courage, Endurance, Sacrifice and Mateship have been carved into the stone, words that reflect the values displayed by our soldiers during this campaign. We spent time at Isarava memorial reflecting on the spirit of the diggers and how those simple words reflected in our own lives. Jim tells us that we are all displaying these values by walking in the footsteps of our Aussie Diggers.

Despite today being physically challenging due to the steep unrelenting climb it was also very emotional. We stopped at Surgeons Rock which is a massive flat rock in the middle of the jungle track after another massive climb upwards. This rock was used as the name suggests as a makeup operating table for amputations and operations. Jim tells us the story of the Bisset brothers and their escapades during the campaign and how less than 50 metres away Stan held his beloved brother in his arms as the life ebbed out of him. They shared childhood memories and then Stan who had an amazing Baritone voice sang Danny Boy as his brother took his last breath. Jim then played Danny Boy on his IPod and Ben knowing this story had a copy of the words for all of us. We sat in the middle of the jungle singing Danny Boy at the top of our lungs and looking around I saw that all of us had tears in our eyes or were freely crying. This was the first of many emotional and bonding experiences our team would share on Kokoda.

Day Three Alola Village to Templeton’s Crossing 2 a trek of 7 hours duration to cover 10.1kms.

Overnight due to the dampness my chest infection escalated and I self medicated with my hopefully cure all Antibiotics. After talking to Jim and our Head Porter Andy it was agreed that I had the fitness necessary to complete Kokoda and I would continue walking at the back of the team and rest whenever I needed to. Despite having spent over $500 at the pharmacy to stock up on necessary supplies I didn’t have the simple things such as Lozenges or mouth gargle, fortunately my team mates willingly shared.

First up today we had a very slippery downhill section which required some fancy footwork by our porters to stop us slipping and sliding. At the bottom of the hill and following a short break we faced a one hour steep uphill climb. After a short break we had another couple of hours of climbing interspersed with some creek crossings before we arrived at the Lost Japanese Battle Grounds. Despite the fact we were all exhausted from the arduous climb, the humidity and heat most of us managed to explore the hillside trenches looking for long forgotten ammunition.

After lunch we had a very steep climb for 45 minutes which Ben named “Rooty Hill” as there were tree roots all the way up. The patterns of uphill climbs on Kokoda are either slippery, sticky mud or a path woven with tree roots whereby you have to carefully consider the placement of your feet constantly.

Our campsite for the night was next to a fast flowing river in which we bathed ourselves fully clothed. After dinner our porters who numbered 40 in all sang a number of songs to us.

Day 4 Templeton’s Crossing 2 to Naduri Village a distance of 16.5kms in 8 hours. This was to be our longest day of trekking and we would be climbing to the highest peak namely Mount Bellamy which is at an elevation of 2240 metres. We have a steep climb for two hours with a final push for 40 minutes on exceptionally steep terrain. Jim decides that despite the fact this is our longest most difficult day it would be a good idea to take an hour detour through a beautiful rainforest. We all agree it was worth the extra kilometres we had to walk

Our camping site for tonight is in Naduri Village which is where our head porter Andy lives with his family and a number of our porters come from. The luxury of a shower is welcome however the added bonus is we can actually wash the mud off with soap.  Andy’s wife cooked us an amazing feast which included some bread rolls and pizza and other treats which added variety to our bland diet.

Today was an eleven hour day with nine hours spent trekking which is why I think we were under the assumption that Day 5 would be relatively cruisey or we were simply too exhausted to listen fully. The nightly six o’clock evening camp news promised a short day of four hours duration. I think we should have asked more questions when the term “ball breaker hills” was mentioned.

Day Five  Naduri Village to Efogi a trek of 1.38km over 3 hours and the promise of plenty of rest. Today was supposedly sleep in day as we were to be woken at 7am, however those roosters commenced their crowing well before dawn. Breakfast consisted of another special feast of fresh bread rolls, pikelets and fried bananas. Prior to farewelling the village of Naduri a number of the local children came to sing for us.

Naduri is a special village on the Kokoda track because it is the home of Ovuru Ndiki who is one of the few surviving Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels and is reportedly 108. He is very frail and confined to a wheel chair and proudly displays his medals and memorabilia on his shirt. We all proudly have a group photo with this amazing man and it is an emotional time once again for the team.

Our day’s trek officially starts around 9am, the sun was blistering hot and we had little shade. We had a very steep decline down to the river in the valley. River crossings were always interesting and each one was different and challenging. Despite the promise of an easy day we soon realised that we had our steepest climb ahead of us. It was only 600 metres however we were scrambling up the side of the hill. The reward for today’s challenge was the fresh fruit we could purchase at Efogi 2 before we had to conquer the last 30 minute climb to our camp site.

Today was Melbourne Cup day and I had bought along the field and form of the 1942 Melbourne Cup race so we could have a sweep. Ben volunteered to call the race and he was a natural. We had all drawn horses and Ben attached our individual trip adventure when he mentioned our horses name. Falls, embarrassing moments, sickness, determination or whatever he felt was appropriate. Shared lighthearted moments such as these increased the bonds that were being formed with our team mates.

Day 6 Efogi 1 to Menari Village a 4 hour trek covering 9.4km. The day started with a steep descent downhill which was followed by a steep uphill climb. At Brigade Hill we stopped to remember the fallen soldiers and Ben and Sam gave very emotive speeches which caused all of us to shed a few tears. The days trekking concluded with a further two hour downhill descent. Arriving into camp just after midday allowed us plenty of time to enjoy the creek and rest before the next challenging day. We were entertained that evening by the local church choir of adults and children singing to us. We all donated money to enable the choir to buy uniforms.

Day 7 Menari Village to Nauro Village which was a 5 hour trek over 10.8kms. It had rained continuously overnight so we knew we were in for a difficult hard climb for the first hour. I was still recovering from the chest infection and my asthma was causing me a lot of breathing problems. I had no problem with the downhill sections however the uphill ones called on every ounce of strength and determination that I had. The two hour decent was quickly christened “the wall” as we were confronted with thick, sticky wet clay and began the slippery sliding often out of control decent. Our porters certainly earned their money that day as they would place a foot in front of us to stop us sliding over the cliff or crashing below. The porters are amazing always good humoured, appear to never sleep, even though they are given money to buy shoes before the trek a number wear thongs or no shoes and they are constantly vigilant in case we need assistance. It would be impossible to do the trek without their support. Two of the male members of our team who elected to carry their own packs for the extra challenge had to enlist the help of a porter for a couple of days during the trek. One due to illness and the second because he rolled his ankle badly.

We knew that at the bottom of the decent we had the swamp to walk or wade through depending upon how much rain we had had. We were fortunate that we had been able to keep our boots relatively dry which protected our feet up until this day. When you put on wet clothes every morning having that dry pair of socks is bliss. I didn’t find the swamp difficult as the ground was flat and my breathing was under control whilst some of the fitter ones struggled because they had pushed themselves continuously in previous days whilst I went at my place which improved daily. It was a challenge to find dry places to walk through the swamp and we often slipped down into the mud as we crossed logs placed on the track.

We had been looking forward to the challenge of crossing the Brown River all day and hoped that the water wasn’t too high for us to cross. It is famous for stranding trekkers for one night or more whilst they wait for the water to subside. We stripped off our boots and gators and waited for our time to cross whilst the porter took our back packs across. The current was strong and water waist deep so wasn’t any easy crossing and those of us who had a porter on either side of us managed the best.

We rested after lunch knowing that we faced a gruelling climb which would take about an hour, however we would be confronted with 9 false peaks. I think we powered through this because we knew our rest stop tonight had a shower and we could use soap. A few of us were fortunate tonight to have our tents pitched inside a large hut which was off the ground instead of on the open muddy ground which sloped down the hill. This village had the most picturesque view from the drop toilet, however the pathway was very narrow and had a sheer drop which meant not a place I would visit at night.

Day 8 Nauro Village to Ua Ule Creek a distance of 14.7 kms which trekking time of 7 hrs 45 mins. We are all exhilarated today as we know we are on the homeward leg of the trip with warm showers and comfy beds awaiting us.

The day started with a challenging 1 hour 15 min steep uphill climb and we quickly realised that Jim had been right in that this would be our second biggest challenging day on the track. We then had to contend with the slipperiest decent that required constant attention so that we didn’t fall over the edge or down. Very few of our team got through the nine days without having at least one fall. I got my first and only leech which I had been dreading and in fact if Andy the head porter had of just removed it without saying anything I would have been unaware.  Next up was another heart breaker of a hill and a number of our team struggled due to the steepness, humidity, heat and general fatigue.

At the top of the hill the rain started and continued heavily for the next three hours whilst we navigated the difficult steep descent. This was the first substantial rain we had had whilst trekking as fortunately the rain had fallen every night. We changed into our outdoor sandals because for the next 45 minutes we would cross the same river nine times as we zigzagged our way around the hill to our campsite.

Day 9 Ua Ule Creek to Ower’s Corner which would take us five hours and cover the last 9.4 kms.

We are excited but also sad today as we know that in about 5 hours our adventure will come to an end. We have formed very close bonds with our team mates, been challenged both physically and mentally and our lives have changed forever as a result of our shared experience.

Jim decided that I and my porters would lead off first as we had a difficult climb of 850 metres in front of us to the top of the Imita Ridge and by the time the rest of the team caught up I would be near the top. Elliott who had rolled his ankle badly the day before followed close behind me.  I don’t know how he managed to walk on that ankle as he had injured it badly.  We really pushed hard up that hill as I knew the others would be closing in on us, this was the first day on the track that I experienced any pain as my body had stood up to the challenge very well. As with every up on Kokoda we had also a descent before the final ascent to Ower’s Corner.

Conversations on today’s trek centred on all of the comforts, facilities, food and beverages that awaited us at our hotel accommodation in Port Moresby.

Today highlight was the last river crossing or water crossing on the trip which was the Goldie River and lucky for us the water was at a safe level to wade across.

We have one final climb of 40 minutes ahead of us before we reach the arches marking the end of the Kokoda track for us. Jim was discussing with Andy whether I would lead off first when Courtney says Beverly will go first. Jim replied we are discussing that, she said more insistently we (meanly the team) have decided that Beverly is to be the first to the top of this last hill. I felt so humbled and emotional that despite the fact I had been so sick and all of the hill climbs had been difficult for me due to my asthma and chest infection, my team supported and respected me for my determination and courage in never complaining or giving in.  The last climb wasn’t as arduous as in parts it had steps made out of logs and knowing it was our last climb also helped. Elliott and I stopped just short of the top to wait for the rest of our team so we could all walk through the arches together. Once again I was humbled when our team wanted me to walk through the arches first. Our porters had all passed us so they could form a guard of honour for us to walk through as we passed through the arches. Elliott and I walked through arm and arm and both had tears freely rolling down our cheeks. All of our team were similarly overwhelmed with the feelings of wonder, accomplishment. fatigue and elation that we had actually successfully conquered Kokoda.

The Kokoda experience concluded with a visit to the Bomona War Cemetery and we looked at the official records and located the graves of heroes we had learnt about on the trek.

In summary Team 19A who trekked Kokoda with Jim as our leader from Backtrack Adventures were an interesting, amazing and inspiring group of people. We shared many adventures, laughter, tears and our life experiences. http://www.backtrackadventures.com.au/

Menari lakes

Surgeon’s rock

Team 19 at Ower’s Corner (arches in background)

Team 19 with oldest Fuzzy Wuzzy (now deceased)

Tree house built by Andy

Upwards again

Water Crossing

Petrol Station PNG style

Steep Climb

Ammunition

Beautiful Children

Bloody Tree Roots

Brigade Hill

Camp Fire Naru Village

Children singing to us in Naru Village

Delightful Drop Toilets

Diggers at wreath laying

Jim Brigade Hill

Kokoda Trek November 2012 060

Creek crossing

Repairing bridge

Repairing a Bridge

Rained all night

Rained all night

Beverly