Thursday 16th Feb The day didn’t start well with a collapsed bearing on the front wheel followed by the bolts holding the wheel halves falling off the replacement. Also, I probably should have asked Lyn if she knew what an axle was when I said 16mm not 5/8″. You will note below that even though what an axle is might elude her, she is pretty good on the birds and the bees.
Anyway all turned out for the best and you can read about it below. I must say that walking into the Araluen pub was one of the best endings to a walk that I can remember. The beer was heaven.
Friday 17th Feb The big hill had been worrying me since I said that I would do this trip so it was with a mixture of trepidation and enthusiasm that I set off.
It turned out to be a bugger. On and on, up and bloody up it went – relentlessly. In the end I was walking 20m and then resting for 30 seconds or so before moving on. We had been told that there was a lookout about halfway up but I could see how far I had climbed and I reckoned I could see the top. Luckily I was pretty right because my legs were complaining as were my arms because I pull the frame with them.
At the top, which is where the road started going down again, we loaded Old Yella onto the ute and headed for Moruya to do my talk. What a night that was with about 120 people there.
Saturday 18th Feb We met Jenny Goldie at the SAGE evening and picked her up at Moruya Heads before 7.00am on the way back to the mountain top. Unfortunately the down was only about 500m and the next up was about 3km but it only had one steep bit so it was nuthin’ compared with the previous day.
After 6km the land went pretty flat and Jenny and I strolled into Braidwood about 1.30pm with 19.7km on the clock. A 45 minutes interview with Radio Braidwood was followed by a beer and a sleep. To be honest I should have had a day off after the hill but I have never said that I’m smart in that regard. Left Achilles is swollen as are both knees but I can resort to drugs. This has come as no surprise so I have a prescription from my doctor for some strong anti-inflammatories that I can take if necessary.
Lyn 16th February We left Anne and Allan Rault’s property ‘Round River’ at 7am; thanks for being such a great hosts last night, we had an interesting evening swapping stories and shared laughter.
We travelled to Trish and Fergus’s place to pick up the kayak, Steve Was ready to recommence the Araluen walk at 7.45am. I asked him were the wheels ok as the front one looked a little crooked? ‘ No they’re fine he said and off he went.’
Just outside the gate he turned onto the road and then stopped. ‘All ok?’ I asked. ‘No the front wheels buggered.’
So out came the tools and a spare wheel and he changed the tyre. ‘I’m a bit worried about these wheels, the other spares aren’t much good.’ He said. So a plan was devised that I would drive back to Bunnings at Batemans Bay, as Steve said they were the only store to stock these particular wheels (they are wheelbarrow wheels). Steve gave me strict instructions to only get 16mm ones not 5/8’s as they wouldn’t fit.
So with the old wheel in hand I headed off for the two hour round trip. WHAT CAN I SAY HERE BUT…. I messed up. When I returned Steve said. ‘They’re not 16mm.’
I replied. ‘They told me these were the right tyres as the numbers on the rubber of our tyre was the same as the number on their box. But are they 16mm? I asked the salesman, and to assure me he called another attendant to make sure. And he also confirmed it was the correct number.’
‘But that not the axle just the tyre number.’ Steve said.
‘Oh, what’s the axle?’ I asked.
Ask me about bees, or birds or frogs and I would know but axles…..
The other problem was that while I was away the wheel Steve changed before I left after another 6 km or so had also fallen to bits. So he was sitting beside the road waiting for his new tyre.
I apologised profusely and Steve said ‘It’s ok, don’t worry. I’ll go back and change them.’
I offered to go back but he said he couldn’t walk anyway with no wheels. I suggested he try Moruya on the way, just in case their hardware store had one. Instead of going all the way to Batemans Bay.
Steve dropped me back at Anne and Allan’s so I could catch up on some of my other business work load.
As a great believer in Fate, my mistake didn’t turn out too bad. (Well that’s what I tell myself and Steve was very understanding)
Steve did get three new tyres at Cameron’s Hardware Moruya; and he said. ‘These are the best tyres I’ve seen. They are solid and don’t need any air in them.’ Also as it was a very hot day when he came back to pick me up he decided to have an hours rest and walk later when it was cooler.
In the cool of the afternoon Steve got walking. He walked all the way to the Araluen Pub, at the base of the Araluen Mountain. After having a couple of coldies with the locals, Steve stored the kayak behind the pub and we returned to Ann and Allan’s.
17th Feb We left Anne and Allan’s at 7am, heading to Araluen. Steve was in the harness and on the road to Braidwood at 7.45am. It’s 2.7km to the base of the Araluen Mountain, then it’s all up from there, well at least for 10km then it flattens out as we get closer to Braidwood.
Steve is planning/hopeful of getting halfway up the hill this morning. I go ahead to the base of the hill and wait. Steve gets here around 8.10am he has made good time on the flat ground. I grab some photos near the signs then he’s off up the mountain.
I drive ahead until I find a safe spot to stop, it’s a lookout point 2.9km up the slope. I park facing the oncoming traffic and pull out the caution kayaker ahead sign. This is the first time we have needed to use the sign, this road is very windy and difficult to see ahead so we are playing it safe.
Where I am positioned is just ahead of one of the worst bends on the road, I guess it’s what’s known as a hairpin bend. I can hear the cars/trucks approaching up the rise, then I hear them change down a gear, then another and then they cautiously round the bend. A very large cattle truck gets to the bend and has all sorts of trouble negotiating it. He stops puts into into first and goes about 2 metres; he stops again goes through the same procedure and finally gets going.
The vista looking back toward the valley from this vantage point is spectacular, I even take a selfie of me, the beast (with caution sign) and the view.
A smaller cattle truck approaches from the Braidwood side heading down the hill, he waves, I recognise him, Hilton from the Araluen pub the day before.
The vehicles approaching me from the Braidwood side wave at this strange woman sitting on top of the mountain with a Caution kayaker ahead sign. I think to myself, just wait until they see the really CRAZY guy towing a yellow kayak up the mountain!
Steve makes it to the lookout in pretty good time, when you take into account the steep climb. He has a brief stop to refuel his body and then heads off again. Usually I go ahead 4km but on these big climbs I only go ahead 2km.
The next stop I make is Sawyers Ridge Road. The vegetation changes as we go further up the mountain and the pungent aroma of eucalyptus is in the air even before I see the trees. I walk up Sawyers Ridge Road a km or two and see a sign which tells me that this area is a Wildlife Refuge. I recognise what I call Argyle Apple or Silver Gum trees, a favourite tree of mine. These trees have an intense aroma which fills the fresh mountain air.
I return to the truck and Steve arrives not long after; he has had enough for the day. He has put a big dent in the walk up the mountain. Today was planned as a shorter walk as Steve has a presentation tonight back in Moruya at SAGE and will need a rest before then.
By 6pm there were around 120 people present at SAGE, they have brought picnics with them and everyone mingles before the evening’s events. Our new friends Anne and Allan Rault arrive and join Lyn Smith, Steve and I at our table. We’re talking about our time spent with them and Anne points out a large burn she acquired while cooking our meal the first night, Allan says ‘I can beat that.’ He shows us his hand, which has a nasty looking wound with fresh blood. How did you do that we ask.
‘Well on the way in tonight there was a large python across the road, so I got out of the car to move it off the road. Unfortunately when I picked it up it bit me.’ He had bite marks on the top and under side of his hand, still with blood on the wound.
‘We better clean that up.’ Say Steve and I. Luckily we carry a pretty comprehensive first aid bag in the beast. (People who know Steve would understand why). I doctor Allan up with good old Betadine and we return to rejoin the picnic.
The events of the evening began with a Q & A session with three councilors from the Eurobodalla Council. Anthony Mayne (Deputy Mayor) James Thomson (5th generation farmer) and Patrick McGinlay (Greens). The crowd agreed later that this was a great way to get to know their councilors in a less formal setting. Next there was a short play by three locals, Geoff & Silvia Sharpe from 350 Eurobodalla and Martin Thackeray. Steve’s presentation was the main event and went over great as usual.
Saturday 18th February We say our goodbyes to Lyn Smith until we meet up again in Canberra for the big finale. Jenny Goldie, from Climate Action Monaro is walking with Steve today. Jenny will be the MC in Canberra for the welcome on Lake Burley Griffin. Jenny and Steve have known each other for about seven years via on-line contact through a peak oil group. They finally met in person last night at SAGE. Jenny lives just outside of Canberra but stayed with her friend Karen last night in Moruya, so we pick Jenny up from there and head to yesterday’s finish point.
We arrive at the spot where Steve finished yesterday, there is still about three more km of mountain before the drop down to Braidwood. After the first 2 km they are both feeling good, second two km still both good and now the road flattens out. Another 4km Jenny’s ok, Steve Achilles is starting to hurt but he No complains!
They stop for a 15 minute lunch break at the next 4km stop. I make them both a Hydralyte drink as a boost for the next section; they’re on their way again at 11.45. They walk another 7.7km before they reach Braidwood. In total they have walked 19.7km today. Great work!
They walk up the Main Street of Braidwood dragging the kayak, they do attract a lot of strange looks, but also some encouraging comments. We arrive at the Royal Mail Hotel our accommodation for the night at 1.30pm. After a shower and rest we enjoy the evening together. It is an early turn in tonight after a big effort by both Steve and Jenny.