Elwyn Campbell: Blog http://elly.net.au/blog en-us (C) Elwyn Campbell (Elwyn Campbell) Tue, 21 Jun 2016 10:53:00 GMT Tue, 21 Jun 2016 10:53:00 GMT http://elly.net.au/img/s5/v117/u68940453-o800368016-50.jpg Elwyn Campbell: Blog http://elly.net.au/blog 120 120 Our Dams Adventure http://elly.net.au/blog/2016/6/our-dams-adventure

I’ve been cycling semi-regularly since I was about three. Depending on how far my commute was, I’d cycle when I could. I even survived cycling to work in London as it was much nicer than crowded, unreliable public transport.

I moved back to Perth a couple of years ago after almost a decade in the UK and really appreciated the Australian climate which allowed me to cycle more regularly. I was keen to join a group so I could improve my cycling fitness. I’d seen a number of cycling groups around Perth around but felt quite intimidated to find myself out of my depth.

I’d seen a handful of “She Rides” cycling course ads on Facebook. I signed up for the “She Rides Together” course which suited my cycling ability. I could learn about riding in a group in a friendly environment. Our Kings Park She Rides Together group were quiet as we got to know each other. That quickly changed as we went for a few rides.

During our “She Rides Together” course, I quickly learned the techniques and benefits of cycling in a group. Our group of ladies were a terrific bunch. We often stayed for coffee after our She Rides sessions, talking for longer than we actually rode!

Our She Rides group kept in touch after the completion of the course and organised our own rides. We entered the 40km Armadale Grand Fondo the week after our She Rides course finished. Sally and I found ourselves up ahead of the group at a good speed while we were chatting.

I’d heard of the “Dams Challenge”, a single-day cycling event in the Perth hills. I mentioned to it Sally who promptly signed both of us up as a pair before we knew too much about what was involved. At that time, a “big” ride for us would be about 40km. The 3 Dams Challenge is 145km with about 1,800m of climbing. It was only three months away.

The first month of our training was consistently riding for at least an hour, three times per week, climbing hills where possible. We were very excited to complete hills ride of over 30km at the end of January with about 400m of ascent.

We intensified our training effort in February, mixing hills with flat rides to increase distance and time on the bike. Our first “big” climb was up Welshpool Road, around 250m of climbing taking about 30 minutes. We knew it was getting hard as we had to stop talking to breathe enough to complete the climb.

Sally’s partner, Adrian, completed the 3 Dams Challenge last year and took us on some tough weekend training rides he’d done to prepare himself for the event. We ensured we were out for at least four hours in different conditions. We experimented with what to eat, drink and wear for a long time on the bike. It was the height of summer so we’d be up before dawn to ride in cooler temperatures. Sally and I had our individual ups and downs during these longer rides but we worked very well as a team to help each other.

We also needed to manage rest time. We were honest with each other when we weren’t feeling well on a tough ride. We managed our training load to ensure that we didn’t get run down. Leg massages and were required to keep the legs relatively fresh along with the foam roller every day. We both have active lifestyles and made adjustments to our exercise routines to ensure cycling was our priority.

Adrian lead us on the “2 Dams” ride, our last big training ride, a few weeks before the 3 Dams event itself. A 5.30am start, and we managed 110km with 1,300m of climbing. Strava rated it as “Extreme”. It was hot towards the end so we jumped into the river in all our cycling gear to cool off!

The day of the 3 Dams Challenge finally arrived. Our aim was to enjoy it and finish comfortably. The first big climb was Greenmount Hill. We hadn’t actually climbed Greenmount Hill in our training but we felt good on the climb. Several other competitors commented that we weren’t trying hard enough as we were talking too much!

 

It was a great boost to see some of our She Rides friends supporting us along the route, especially at the top of the first climb. It was the hottest day for a few weeks. I was overheating so much that I felt cold. We pulled over to a service station, bought some cold water and poured some over our heads to cool off. I was seriously considering standing in the beer fridge for a while!

After that break we agreed to back off on the pace a little so we wouldn’t overheat. We continued the slog towards Canning Dam, where the road gets very rough. The “2 Dams” training ride had taken us on that route before so we knew what was coming and continued to successfully negotiate each climb. A lot of competitors were suffering in the heat and we saw a number of cyclists lying under trees to cool off.

We finished our last climb out of Wungong Dam and we were thrilled to reach Albany Highway and the descent into Armadale. Only 40km to go! The ride got really hard, it was early afternoon and we could feel the heat coming off the tarmac even more. We knew it was hard as weren’t talking much now apart from swapping the lead rider. We powered on. We had one last stop on the Kwinana Freeway and welcomed some ice and cold water poured over us.

Finally, we made it to the finish at Curtin University. We were elated to cross the finish line and all the pain disappeared with the adrenaline rush. Our supporters took a few photos with our well-earned medals and celebrated with us. It was a fantastic achievement.

Sally and I have enjoyed the journey of our training and the Dams Challenge itself which has cemented our friendship. Our experience of the She Rides Together course a year ago and completing the Dams Challenge has given us a terrific platform to take our cycling further. However, I’m not sure we’ll be signing up for the 3 Dams Challenge next year!

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Australia Cycling Dams Challenge Hills Perth http://elly.net.au/blog/2016/6/our-dams-adventure Tue, 21 Jun 2016 10:53:15 GMT
View from the top of St Pauls Cathedral http://elly.net.au/blog/2015/10/view-from-the-top-of-st-pauls-cathedral View from the top of St Pauls CathedralView from the top of St Pauls CathedralLooking south across the city towards the River Thames

 

I finally did a tour of St Pauls Cathedral when I visited London on a recent holiday. This is after I never toured St Pauls during my time living near London for many years!

This panorama is from the top of the cathedral to the south towards the River Thames.

 

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Cathedral St Pauls http://elly.net.au/blog/2015/10/view-from-the-top-of-st-pauls-cathedral Fri, 30 Oct 2015 12:35:11 GMT
Walking from Cremyll to Rame Head in Cornwall http://elly.net.au/blog/2015/9/cremyll-to-rame-head-cornwall Rame Head from Penlee Point

The English South West Coast Path is a 630 mile walk from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset. One of my favourite day walks on the South West Coast Path is from Mount Edgcumbe to Rame Head in Cornwall.

Mount Edgcumbe House

The start of the walk at Mount Edgcumbe is easily reached by the Cremyll Ferry which runs the short trip across the Tamar River from Plymouth. The walk continues through the grounds of Mount Edgcumbe, through a deer park and then through forest. There are good views across to Plymouth and the harbour from the deer park.

It's about 5.5km to the twin villages of Kingsand and Cawsand. There are a few pubs and cafes which are open year-round.

 

From Kingsand, the walk extends through further forest up to Penlee Point. It's a clear view trees of the English Channel to the south and across to Rame Head. It's a few more kilometres to Rame Head where there are views right along the south coast on a clear day.

Rame Head

Return the same way from Rame Head to Cremyll which will probably take a couple of hours' walk. Enjoy a well-earned icecream or pint on the shorefront while you wait for the Cremyll ferry to provide transport back across the Tamar River to Plymouth. 

The total distance from Cremyll to Rame Head and back is about 20km which means the walk will take around 4 hours to complete. Allow time for stopping for views and pubs!

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) http://elly.net.au/blog/2015/9/cremyll-to-rame-head-cornwall Mon, 28 Sep 2015 08:50:21 GMT
Moving back to Australia - one year later http://elly.net.au/blog/2015/6/moving--back-to-australia---one-year-later About a year ago, I arrived back in Perth after 9 years in the UK. It's taken a while to adjust back to the Australian way of life.

Here's some things I've noticed while I've settled in Australia:

Lifestyle

  • An incredibly laid back lifestyle. 
  • Most people say "thank you" when they get off the bus, even in peak hour!
  • A traffic jam is anything over 10 cars (and sometimes even less).
  • A "really crowded" train or bus is when there are no spare seats available.

Weather

  • The relief at the end of summer when the daytime temperature drops below 30 degrees and night temperature below 20 degrees.
  • Related to the end of summer: getting excited when it actually rains after months of hot, dry, dusty weather.
  • If it does rain, don't even attempt to go outside as it's too wet. Unable to find umbrellas or rain coats as they haven't been used for months. Chances are it won't rain tomorrow anyway.
  • Any daytime temperature below 20 degrees is "freezing".
  • Relief at the end of "winter" when it's finally getting above 30 degrees. Winter only lasts a month or two anyway.

Language

  • The greeting "How's it going?" without expecting a response.
  • The "Australian Salute" (ie. swishing away flies buzzing around your face)
  • Bogans. The Australian equivalent of chavs. Also "cashed up bogans".
  • Places are called really obvious names:
    • Great Sandy Desert
    • Shark Bay
    • Great Dividing Range
    • Great Barrier Reef
  • FIFO = Fly-in Fly-out. A worker who commutes via plane to their remote work site.
  • The Australian accent. Adam Hills explains: http://youtu.be/KpBYnL5fAXE

Clothing

  • It's perfectly acceptable to take off your thongs (ie. flip-flops) and walk around someone's house barefoot. Especially on a hot day.
  • Dressing up means not wearing thongs (ie. flip-flops).
  • Board shorts are acceptable clothing in almost any situation.
  • "Hi-Vis" (high visibility) clothing is acceptable anywhere since it's common workwear. It's acceptable to go to the FIFO airport in your high visibility/safety gear. If you don't, you'll be the only one in the entire airport not wearing high-vis clothing. Spoken from experience.

 

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Australia Perth Travel http://elly.net.au/blog/2015/6/moving--back-to-australia---one-year-later Sun, 07 Jun 2015 07:18:34 GMT
Wheatbelt Camping http://elly.net.au/blog/2015/4/wheatbelt-camping SunsetSunset in a big sky, just after we set up camp. We camped for a couple of nights in the wheatbelt, about 200km east of Perth. Just after we arrived, we were treated to an amazing sunset.

Sunset over our campsite Then we awaited the lunar eclipse. Even though it was a relatively clear sky, a single storm cloud appeared on the horizon right where the moon was due to rise. We were fortunate to see the start of the lunar eclipse and a single flash of lightning. Then the cloud cleared just in time for the total lunar eclipse when the moon turned red.

Storm cloud over the lunar eclipse We spent some time exploring the area which had a number of "monolith" rocks. They are a single rock, similar to but not as big as Ayers Rock. Climbing up offered a great view of the surrounding country.

Kokerbin Rock

After a couple of nights' camping, we drove back to Perth. It started to rain on the way home so it was perfect timing with the weather!

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Australia Camping Cunderdin Perth Travel Wheatbelt http://elly.net.au/blog/2015/4/wheatbelt-camping Sun, 19 Apr 2015 10:25:37 GMT
Rottnest Swim http://elly.net.au/blog/2015/2/rottnest-swim Sunrise over Cottesloe BeachSunrise over Cottesloe Beach

Kayak selfieKayak selfieWaiting for the start off Cottesloe Beach. The Scottish flag helped both the swimmer and support boat find me!

The Rottnest Swim is a 20km open water swim which starts at Cottesloe Beach and finishes at Rottnest Island. It has now grown to be so popular that there's a ballot to enter a team in the race. Our sailing crew managed to win the ballot to enter the race so we all helped out as support crew. 

The standard Perth summer weather conditions are an offshore easterly wind overnight and into the morning before an onshore seabreeze later in the day. Therefore, it's best to start swimming west to Rottnest Island with the offshore breeze as a tailwind and get as far west to Rottnest as possible before the seabreeze comes in. The start time for our swim team was 7.15am but we needed to be on the boat at 4am to motor up to the start line and get organised.

The support team needs a boat to provide safety and recovery for the swimmer(s) and navigate the course over to Rottnest Island. A kayaker paddles very close to the swimmer to guide the swimmer along the correct course as it's very difficult to see any distance when swimming.

My support crew role was kayaking so I stepped off the back of the yacht into the kayak to meet our swimmer at Cottesloe for the start. Our swimmer was Scottish so naturally I was given a Scottish flag to help identify me amongst hundreds of other kayakers and support boats.

Start wave at Cottesloe BeachStart wave at Cottesloe BeachSupport kayakers waiting and attempting to identify their swimmers.

Our swimmer started and we found each other relatively quickly thanks to the Scottish flag! The first 1km of the swim was relatively straightforward as no support boats were allowed in the swim channel. But after that it was chaos with boats, kayaks and swimmers everywhere. So I did my best to protect our swim team. Even at the start, it was a steady southeasterly wind that soon became a southerly crosswind so we knew we were in for a difficult crossing.

Support crew & waiting swimmersSupport crew & waiting swimmers

The swim team of four swimmers took turns to swim 10 minutes each at a time and rotated through resting and recovering on the support boat. We continued west, before the wind died out. But it wasn't long before the seabreeze started and we were battling to make the cutoff time for the 10km mark. We just made the mark, but with choppy seas and a headwind the writing was on the wall that we'd need to retire. It was unfortunate, but there wasn't much we could do about it. 

Support craft & swimmerSupport craft & swimmerThe dinghy and kayak helping the swimmer. A long way to go!

We decided to retire from the race and pull the swimmers and support craft into the yacht. Then it was time for the Rottnest pub! It's easily one of the busiest days of the year at Rottnest so we soaked up the atmosphere and had a good chat over a few beers. Perhaps we'll enter a team again and hopefully have better conditions next time.

 

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Australia Cottesloe Beach Perth Rottnest Island Rottnest Swim Swimming http://elly.net.au/blog/2015/2/rottnest-swim Tue, 24 Feb 2015 12:09:25 GMT
Lake Ballard http://elly.net.au/blog/2015/2/lake-ballard Lake BallardLake BallardSalt lake north of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia

Lake Ballard is a 50km long salt lake 200km up the road from Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. 

Lake Ballard has Antony Gormley’s 51 Carbonised Steel Figures which were initially installed as a temporary art exhibition but proved so popular they are now a permanent fixture. 

A real sense of the expanse of the outback. Flies and dust are mandatory!

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Antony Gormley Australia Goldfields Kalgoorlie Lake Ballard Menzies Outback Salt Lake http://elly.net.au/blog/2015/2/lake-ballard Fri, 06 Feb 2015 06:11:55 GMT
Blue Mountains http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/12/blue-mountains I spent a week in Sydney. I was fortunate to see a good friend of mine and we arranged an overnight walk in the Blue Mountains. I last visited the Blue Mountains when I was a teenager (ie. a long time ago!) so it was time for another visit.

The weather was dicey earlier in the week with snow falling in the area but fortunately it cleared up on the weekend. I'd had a 6 hour delay arriving into Sydney due to severe thunderstorms

We drove up to Blackheath which was about 2 hours from the middle of Sydney and commenced our walk at Evans Lookout. As it was an overnight walk we needed to carry everything so we had a fair weight in our packs. Walks in the Blue Mountains start high from the car park, and then descent down to the valley floor to spend the night before climbing out of the valley to finish. 

Evans Lookout offered a great view to the north of Blackheath and we could clearly see our planned route. 

View from Evans LookoutView from Evans Lookout

From Evans Lookout we descended down to the base of Grand Canyon, a side valley leading down to Junction Rock. The terrain and the flora changed quickly as we descended through various ecosystems. We descended past of a number of waterfalls as the terrain became steeper near the valley floor. 

Descending to Grand CanyonDescending to Grand Canyon

We then walked through Eucalyptus forest along the river to Junction Rock, where we turned north to head towards the blue gum forest. We had glimpses to the distinctive cliffs lining the top of the valleys around us. 

Lockleys PylonLockleys Pylon

We set up camp at Acacia Flat and then had a short walk to the Blue Gum Forest in the evening light. 

Acacia Flat CampAcacia Flat Camp

We enjoyed a cool night before packing up camp and heading back up the valley the next morning. We remembered that we had to climb back out of the valley after the relatively easy descent the day before! We turned right at Junction Rock and climbed up towards Bridal Veil Falls. As the temperature was around 30 degrees it was a warm climb but fortunately there was plenty of shade. It was an impressive path that became steeper until we were climbing stairs up the cliff face.

Stairs up Govetts LeapStairs up Govetts Leap

The view across the valley and Bridal Veil Falls made the climb worthwhile!

Bridal Veil FallsBridal Veil Falls

We finished the climb up to Govetts Leap and then crossed the top of Bridal Veil Falls before the finish back at Evans Lookout. Then a well-earned ice cream.

It was a great weekend and a reminder that I should visit the Blue Mountains more often!

 

 

 

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Australia Blue Mountains Hiking New South Wales Sydney Travel Trekking http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/12/blue-mountains Sat, 06 Dec 2014 08:42:01 GMT
(Almost) Swimming with a Dolphin http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/10/almost-swimming-with-a-dolphin

We anchored our yacht at Rockingham Beach, south of Fremantle. As we took the dinghy to shore, we had this close encounter with a dolphin! 

 

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Australia Dolphin Perth Sailing http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/10/almost-swimming-with-a-dolphin Sun, 05 Oct 2014 02:15:10 GMT
Pune, India http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/9/pune-india Tuk tukTuk tuk We visited our office in Pune, India for about 2 weeks in late August. I'd travelled to India on a couple of previous occasions so I knew what to expect: chaos! 

Pune is a city of over 5 million people which is makes it the 8th most populous city in India, behind Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata. It's in the same state of Maharashtra as Mumbai on the central western coast. As Pune is on a less travelled route to India from Australia, it took 3 flights and over 20 hours in transit to get there from our home in Perth. The newly built airport in Delhi made the transit much easier than the old airport that I went through on previous visits to India in 2007 and 2004. Two wheelersTwo wheelersWhenever there was a red light, the motorbikes would line up at the front.

It's no surprise how crowded it is on Indian streets. There are literally people everywhere. It's now quite visible that some of the population are better off since the Indian economic boom as there's more cars on the road. That said, there are also lots of "two wheelers" or motorbikes on the roads there who battle for the front at red traffic lights. Fortunately we had drivers assigned to take us everywhere for our stay so we didn't have to deal with driving on India roads. A different style of driving means that's generally friendly to use your car horn to let other drivers know you're there. Many trucks have "Please use horn" painted on their back bumper bars. That makes the streets of India very noisy. Not to mention the frequent cows and other animals frequently seen on the roads!

CowsCowsOur driver was quite used to unexpected road obstacles.

Most of our week was spent at the office which only offered evenings to look around the city. The Osho International Meditation Resort is based in Koregaon Park. It was started by Acharya Rajneesh in the 1970s which attracted many Westerners to visit India and many have stayed in the meditation resort for a number of years. 

LavasaLavasa

LavasaLavasa

Not far from Osho is the German Bakery. As we had several Germans in our group, we had to visit the bakery. Unfortunately, this bakery was bombed in 2010. Since this bombing, there is increased security around Pune. Upon entering any shopping centre, reasonable hotel, office or tourist site visitors must go through security, get frisked and have bags x-rayed. As I'm about a foot taller than most Indian ladies, my head was often sticking out above the security screen as I was frisked by female security staff. 

India has become much more westernised in the past decade. There are plenty more shopping malls and recognisable western brands (and rip-offs)  available for sale. But there's also millions of people living in extreme poverty on the streets. The "Land of Contrasts" label is obvious everywhere. Besides flashy cars are children begging at traffic lights hoping to buy their next meal.

We made a day trip to Lavasa, a hill station built between Mumbai and Pune in 2010. It was nice to get out of the big city of Pune and see some of the surrounding country. We passed through a couple of valleys of the "Western Ghats", a hill range which extends along the west coast of India. Lavasa is planned as a totally self-sufficient town but it's still under construction. It surrounds a dam which offers views across the valley. Fortunately there was a reasonable restaurant for a suitable lunch stop. 

As it was August, it was monsoon season. Most days had a huge rain downpour in the afternoon and we drove back from the office through some deep, muddy puddles. This made the surrounding land look very lush and green. Our hotel overlooked the river which ranged in height from barely trickling to a large torrent following downpours in Pune and the hills upstream. 

Ganesh for saleGanesh for saleIn preparation for "Ganesha Chaturthi"

Ganesh Chaturthi, the Hindu "Festival of Ganesh" was celebrated after we left. It's a week-long festival where statues of Ganesh are erected around India and worshipped. The celebrations are particularly long in Maharashtra. We didn't want to get stuck in the impending traffic jams for the festival so we departed back to Perth the day before the festival started. I'm sure we'll be back to visit Pune soon. 

More photos are in the gallery.

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Asia India Maharashtra Pune Travel Western Ghats http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/9/pune-india Mon, 29 Sep 2014 09:40:53 GMT
Avon Descent http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/8/avon-descent The Avon Descent is a two day kayak and powerboat whitewater event on the  Avon River and Swan River near Perth in Western Australia. It starts in Northam and finishes just east of the city of Perth. The most spectacular day of the event is on the second day when most of the rapids are tackled.

We went to Bells Rapids to watch the action. Bells Rapids are the last whitewater obstacle before 30km of flatwater before the finish line in Bayswater. Our timing was perfect as the leading kayakers came through the rapids around 15 minutes after we arrived and around three hours after their early morning start. The leading paddlers made the rapids look easy. 

Bells RapidsBells Rapids

Bells Rapids, Team 511Bells Rapids, Team 511

Bells RapidsBells Rapids

As more paddlers attempted the rapids, there were more capsizes. The Avon Descent support crew did a great job of helping people out when required and everyone we saw made it on to the flatwater and the long paddle to the finish.

Bells RapidsBells Rapids Bells RapidsBells Rapids Bells RapidsBells Rapids One pair of kayaks managed to get their rudders tangled across the rapids which blocked the river for other competitors. Fortunately the rescue crew managed to untangle their rudders and both competitors continued down the river.

Bells RapidsBells Rapids Bells RapidsBells Rapids Bells RapidsBells Rapids

The powercraft started to come down the rapids but fortunately most of the paddlers had finished the rapids.

Bells RapidsBells Rapids

Bells RapidsBells Rapids Bells RapidsBells Rapids

We then drove down to the finish at Bayswater to see the finish line. The competitors enjoyed perfect weather and the high river level.

Finish at Bayswater, Swan RiverFinish at Bayswater, Swan River Finish at Bayswater, Swan RiverFinish at Bayswater, Swan River

Plenty more photos are in the photo gallery at http://elly.net.au/avon-descent-2014 and in the slideshow below. Enjoy!

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Australia Avon Descent Kayaking Perth Rapids River Swan River Whitewater http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/8/avon-descent Sun, 10 Aug 2014 10:21:25 GMT
Melbourne http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/6/melbourne I spent most of June in Melbourne for my new job. Fortunately there was time for some sightseeing too. I'd travelled through Melbourne airport on a number of occasions before but hadn't actually seen much of Melbourne itself. 

As Melbourne is the sporting capital of Australia, naturally I had to attend some sports events. 

National Sports Museum at the MCGNational Sports Museum at the MCG

Australian Cricket Hall of FameAustralian Cricket Hall of FameThis is a statue of the legendary Don Bradman

The National Sports Museum is part of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. I had enough time before the football game at the MCG to have a look in the museum. It has a large number of significant sports memorabilia which I was amazed to see in such a small area. The Australian Cricket Hall of Fame is also held here. 

Fremantle vs Richmond, Melbourne Cricket GroundFremantle vs Richmond, Melbourne Cricket GroundThe Dockers managed to win in front of a small crowd.

The Fremantle Dockers had travelled from Western Australia to play the Richmond Tigers at the MCG. If you don't recognise those names, you probably aren't familiar with Australian Rules Football. The Australian Football League originated in Victoria so there are many suburbs of Melbourne with their own AFL clubs. For example, Richmond, Carlton, Essendon, Footscray and Collingwood. 

The Fremantle vs Richmond game was a good one since the Dockers managed a win. By a fluke my ticket was at the right end of the ground amongst the Dockers supporters which made it easier. The MCG can hold almost 100,000 people so it seemed relatively empty with a crowd of about 25,000.  Etihad StadiumEtihad Stadium

French supportersFrench supportersThere were a surprising amount supporting their side versus the Wallabies at Etihad Stadium Etihad Stadium was next on my sports agenda to watch the Wallabies vs France rugby game. Etihad Stadium is much newer than the MCG and has a well designed layout so all spectators have a good view of the whole ground. There were a surprising number of French supporters. The game itself was quite boring, only a 6-0 scoreline and no tries. Still, it was good to visit the ground.

We visited a rooftop bar to have a view across the city after the rugby and soak up some Saturday night atmosphere.

Melbourne is also famous for its art. I went to the National Gallery of Victoria to see the "Italian Masterpieces" exhibition. Many pieces on display hadn't been seen outside of Europe before. 

National Gallery of VictoriaNational Gallery of Victoria

I had a walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens. These are well-kept gardens have some relatively fresh air and peace in the middle of the city. 

Royal Botanic Gardens MelbourneRoyal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

I had a look at the South Wharf, past the Crown Casino. There were plenty of factory outlet shops but I restrained myself and didn't buy too much :-)

Melbourne South WharfMelbourne South WharfLooking up the Yarra River towards Crown Casino

More photos of Melbourne are available in the photo gallery.

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Australia Melbourne Travel Victoria http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/6/melbourne Sun, 29 Jun 2014 09:28:30 GMT
Midwinter sailing in Perth http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/6/midwinter-sailing-in-perth

We went for a sail on the Swan River in Perth today. This photo was taken from King's Park.

A cold front passed over Perth only an hour after we finished, including a water spout over the South Mole in Fremantle. It was definitely worthwhile starting sailing at 8am!

 

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Australia Perth Sailing Solstice Swan River http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/6/midwinter-sailing-in-perth Sat, 21 Jun 2014 06:44:01 GMT
Trekking through the Bernese Oberland http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/5/bernese-oberland KanderstegKandersteg

August 2013

The Bernese Oberland in Switzerland is the home of Europe's largest glaciers. I signed up for a week-long high altitude trek across these mountains. The Bernese Oberland is part of the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch World Heritage Site and therefore includes some stunning scenery.

I managed to catch measles during June 2013, right in the middle of my pre-trip fitness training. This laid me low for a few weeks to the point where I struggled even to walk up a flight of stairs. I was determined to keep my booking and get fit for the challenging trek. I was nervous that I hadn't done enough training prior to the trip when I departed the UK. 

After a short flight from London, the ever efficient Swiss trains provided great views across the Alps during the journey from Zurich. I met my trip companions in Kandersteg, a small mountain town near Interlaken. We met our guide and prepared for the week-long trek departing early the next morning. All our climbing equipment and clothing was to fit in a small backpack for the duration of the trek.

Our first day was a climb up to the Kanderfirn Glacier. We traversed across the glacier to Mutthorn Hut. The clear skies provided good views across the mountains as we climbed higher. Some bad weather closed in as we approached the hut. There was hardly anyone there which was unusual for the height of summer holidays as it was late August. 

The weather continued to close in the next day. We crossed the Petersgrat which was supposed to have a nice view across the mountains but the clouds, sleet and rain didn't provide much visibility. We didn't hang around in the cold conditions and descended into Falferalp via the Talgletscher. A sharp descent took us to our hotel for the night and we had the luxury of drying out our clothes before a well earned dinner. 

AnenhutteAnenhutteView up to Hollandia Hut

Fortunately the next morning was cold and clear for our climb up to Hollandia Hut. We crossed farmland before having coffee and cake at the refurbished Anenhutte. We continued along the valley until we reached the Langgletscher and put our crampons on for traversing the glacier. The air was very still and the sun was warm which made for a sweaty climb up the glacial bowl. We couldn't rest too much as the warming sun was melting ice holding rocks up high which occasionally fell nearby. We made it up to the Lotschenlucke pass and roped up for the steep remainder of the climb into Hollandia Hut. The drop to the left was significant where even a small slip could mean a major fall. Hollandia Hut had a great view down the valley to Mont Blanc and we were treated to a spectacular sunset.

Sunset over AletschhornSunset over AletschhornFrom Hollandiahutte

The next morning was a 4am alpine start to allow a summit attempt. We climbed steadily from the Hollandia hut before traversing a large glacial bowl. We didn't stop as it was quite cold. There was a steep climb around the back of the peak with a few large crevasses which we were careful to avoid. A few crevasses required jumping over but our ropes kept us safe. I remembered from my mountaineering training: don't fall down a crevasse! We reached the summit of Abeni Flue around 7am. It was perfectly still so we were lucky to spend some time up there admiring the view across the mountains. Mont Blanc, Jangfrau and the Eiger were all visible amongst others. A great summit feeling!

Abeni Flue summitAbeni Flue summit

We descended as the sun got higher and it was very warm as we crossed the glacier. We still had all our warm clothes on for the early morning start so we were soon overheating. It was a relief to get back to Hollandia Hut and cool down and have a well earned brunch. Our route took us down to Konkordia which is a junction of several large glaciers at the top of the Aletsch Glacier. This presented a maze of huge crevasses and rocks. We were roped up initially but soon the Aletschfirn Glacier became dry so we unroped and kept our crampons on so we could jump across the countless crevasses. I avoided looking down the crevasses as they were so deep that I couldn't even see the bottom of many of them. The glacier is around 900m deep in some parts.

KonkordiaKonkordiaThis meltwater stream disappeared down a LONG way into the 900m-deep glacier.

Konkordia HutKonkordia Hut780 stairs up to the hut after a long day!

After crossing Konkordia, our final task of the day was to climb about 780 steps up a cliff to our hut for the night, Konkordiahutte. My legs were telling me otherwise. Apparently these metal stairs were much safer than the older wooden stairs which we could see strewn over the rockface. They didn't hide the fall below which was a few hundred meters. It's a common problem in the Alps these days. With the retreating glaciers, many huts are now high above the glaciers which makes for a difficult climb to reach the hut which is unwelcome at the end of a long day.

My mountain boots were very stiff which were great for vertical ice climbing but not so great for traversing glacial terrains. At the end of a 12 hour day, it was a relief to peel off my boots and air my feet. This also revealed some huge blisters on the back of each of my heals. I had taped up my heals as a precaution earlier in the day but the boots had worn through the tape to my skin. Our guide drained each blister and we were careful to apply disinfectant to prevent any infection. We doubled up on the dressing by using blistex and trusty gaffer tape. A beer helped numb the pain!

Konkordia HutKonkordia HutA very refreshing beer after a very long day!

We slept in until 6am when we descended the 780 steps and crossed into a nearby valley for a steep climb up to the pass at Grunhornluke. It was very cold in the morning light but at least the sun was slowly becoming warmer. It was hard ice so we roped up and dug in with our crampons. We saw some other climbers for the first time in a week crossing over the pass. We couldn't understand why there weren't many other climbers around in the peak of the climbing season.

Another descent to Fieschergletscher yielded more crevasse crossings. These were some of the larger crevasses and we had to change our course on a number of occasions as we came to dead ends in our route. As it was another dry glacier we only had our crampons and no ropes.

OberaarjochOberaarjochClimbing down from the hut

As we descended we could see across to Monte Rosa and the Matterhorn to the south. We had another climb to the Oberaarjoch and our final mountain hut of the trip. As it was midday, the sun was very warm for our climb. Some jet fighters came out of nowhere to give us an awesome display right above the Studergletscher. The air display lasted for a good 15 minutes and was a welcome distraction from the hot climb we were facing. We continued on towards the hut. The steepest part of the climb was at the end of the day. Then there was the scramble up to the Oberaarjoch Hut itself over a rock crag. Fortunately there was a ladder to assist but again there was no room for any mistakes with the large drop below us. 

The Oberaarjoch hut had a terrific view across the glacier we had just climbed and we enjoyed some very refreshing beer as we watched other climbers. This was probably the busiest hut we'd stayed in. 

There was mist coming up the valley for our last day which provided very atmospheric views across the mountains as we prepared for our final descent down the Oberaargletscher. It was a straightforward walk down the glacier. We took our ropes off partway down and enjoyed the view which opened up across the valley. 

OberaarjochOberaarjochHeading down our last glacier

We reached Oberaarsee Lake and saw some day walkers who were the first "normal" people we had seen in a week. A miscommunication with our taxi company meant we had to walk an extra 10km down the road past the carpark to Grimselpass. My feet were very sore in the mountain boots but fortunately they survived. We were at Grimselpass by lunchtime and had shared some beer to celebrate completing our trip. Motorbikes and cars were everywhere which was quite a change from the quiet of the mountains we'd enjoyed for the past week.

Harder Kulm over InterlakenHarder Kulm over InterlakenJungfrau and the Eiger in clouds in the distance

A bus and train from Grimselpass took us into Interlaken where our kit bags of clean clothes allowed us to have a shower and look respectable again. We had a good meal that night and sleep well with the satisfaction of successfully completing a challenging trek through the Swiss Alps.

The next morning we had a brief tour around the stunning Interlaken and the Harder Kulm lookout in sunny skies. The pouring rain settled in for our train trip back to Zurich. We were very lucky with the weather!

It was a great trek to complete. We had some amazing mountain landscapes to ourselves for much of the trek and it's always a privilege to experience an alpine environment. 

More photos from our trip are in my photo gallery: http://elly.net.au/bernese-oberland

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Alps Eiger Jangfrau Konkordia Mountaineering Mountains Switzerland Trekking http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/5/bernese-oberland Thu, 15 May 2014 09:31:53 GMT
Anzac Day http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/4/anzac-day ANZAC Memorial ServiceANZAC Memorial ServiceWest Australian War Memorial, Kings Park Today is Anzac Day. It's the day the nation remembers those who sacrificed their lives during the war. 

We went to the 5pm memorial service at King's Park. My great uncle Lindsey died during World War II in a Lancaster bomber which was shot down over Germany. We always remember him on Anzac Day.

The Ode is read during the memorial service:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Lest We Forget

ANZAC Memorial ServiceANZAC Memorial ServiceWest Australian War Memorial, Kings Park ANZAC Memorial ServiceANZAC Memorial ServiceWest Australian War Memorial, Kings Park

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Anzac Day Australia Memorial Perth Remembrance http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/4/anzac-day Fri, 25 Apr 2014 09:16:51 GMT
Penguin Island http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/4/penguin-island Penguin Island is a small island off the coast of Shoalwater, a town south of Perth in Western Australia. It's part of the Shoalwater Islands Wildlife Park. Most of this marine park is protected from the large swells of the Indian Ocean which makes it a safe destination to explore with kayaks. Even though it's only a short trip from Perth, I'd never visited the island before.  Kayking towards Penguin IslandKayking towards Penguin IslandShoalwater and the mainland behind us. Penguin Island beachPenguin Island beachWe left our kayaks on the beach and walked around the island.

We borrowed a couple of kayaks to explore the marine park. It was a bit choppy from the swell that resulted from a storm to the south of Australia a few days ago. It only took about 30 minutes to paddle across to Penguin Island. As Penguin Island is part of a marine reserve, there is an abundance of birdlife and sea life on the island. We walked around the island on a nature trail.

West side of Penguin IslandWest side of Penguin IslandOutside of the protected bay of Shoalwater There is a penguin discovery centre on the island.  Rescued penguins which are deemed unfit to return to the wild live in discovery centre where the public can have a close view of these rescued penguins. We watched a short show about the penguins in the discovery centre and watched them feeding. 

Fairy PenguinFairy PenguinIn the visitor centre We got back in our kayaks and started paddling north to Shag Rock and Seal Island. We came across a sea lion (seal). It jumped out of the water several times only a few metres away from our kayaks. It was a bit alarming as sea lions can be over 200kg but fortunately it decided to keep swimming away from us. 

We continued paddling up to Seal Island through the relatively open water between the islands. There was noticeably more swell coming through but it was manageable as we continued into the more sheltered bay on Seal Island. No people are allowed to land on the island. We could see a few sea lions on the beach and a couple of of males were fighting / playing in the water. We decided to keep our distance!

It was only a 15 minute paddle back from Seal Island to the mainland for a well earned lunch. Penguin Island was fun to explore and I recommend visiting it!

Kayaking past Shag RockKayaking past Shag Rock Seal IslandSeal Island

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Australia Indian Ocean Kayaking Perth Western Australia http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/4/penguin-island Mon, 21 Apr 2014 03:21:04 GMT
Lunar Eclipse http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/4/lunar-eclipse Lunar EclipseLunar EclipseLunar Eclipse during moon rise over Perth, April 2014

 

Lunar Eclipse during moon rise over Perth, April 2014.

Fortunately there was a break in the clouds at the vital moment.

 

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Australia Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse Moon Moonrise Perth http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/4/lunar-eclipse Wed, 16 Apr 2014 04:21:03 GMT
Settling in Perth http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/4/settling-in-perth After travelling halfway around the world, I'm settling in Perth!

Here's some statistics of all my flights from London to Perth over the past few months:

  • 14 flights (and airports!)
  • 42,000km. That's more than the Earth's circumference at the equator (approximately 40,075 km)
  • 56 hours in the air
  • Largest plane: Qantas Airbus A380-800, 484 seats (Los Angeles to Sydney)
  • Smallest plane: Air New Zealand Beech 1900, 19 seats (Auckland to KeriKeri)

I have a round the world ticket which is valid for 12 months. I can therefore use the rest of my flights before January 2015 to travel from Perth to London, or any places in between.

I've been living in England since 2005. Perth has changed a lot since then so it'll take a while to settle back in. One thing hasn't changed: the weather. It hasn't rained more than about 5mm over Perth's summer. 

 

Perth CityPerth CityFrom South Perth

 

 

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Australia Flights Perth Planes Sabbatical Statistics Trekking http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/4/settling-in-perth Sat, 12 Apr 2014 04:30:03 GMT
Tour de Perth http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/3/tour-de-perth

 

I watched Stage 4 (Perry Lakes) of the Tour de Perth yesterday. It's not quite the Tour de France but there were some very fast cyclists and organised teams. This group broke away to win a sprint. 

 

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Australia Cycling http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/3/tour-de-perth Sun, 30 Mar 2014 01:05:20 GMT
Rafting the Pacuare River http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/3/rafting-the-pacuare-river Here's a youtube video of rafting the Pucuare River during our Costa Rica Traverse in January 2014. 

]]>
(Elwyn Campbell) Central America Costa Rica Pacuare River Rafting Sabbatical http://elly.net.au/blog/2014/3/rafting-the-pacuare-river Tue, 25 Mar 2014 09:15:38 GMT