How to use this blog


This blog is to keep members of Pandani Bushwalking Club up to date with club news. It complements and does not replace the official club website or Facebook page.

The easiest way to follow the news is to enter your email address in the block to the right (or at the bottom of this page if you are on a handheld device) and you will receive a message each time there is a new post. The latest posts are below and you can browse a full list of posts on the All Posts page.

Trip reports and other news from members are welcome; this is not just for official club business. If you might want to post regularly we can set you up with direct access, or you can submit items to for the administrator to post on your behalf.

If you have any questions or feedback then please make a comment in the “Leave a Reply” box.

Emergency weather protection

(This was originally posted on Facebook by Simon Kendrick, reproduced here where it may be less ephemeral. Thanks to Simon for worthwhile thoughts.)

It’s not that long ago that an Emergency Blanket because an essential part of any bushwalkers kit. This has been muddied to some extent by the appearance of the Emergency Bag.

I first came across Emergency Bags when reading British caving books. When caving in cold and wet caves cavers would very quickly loose body heat if they stopped for any length of time. This could be because a party member was injured or a group stopped moving while negotiating a particularly complex obstacle. At the time the procedure was to cut three holes in the foot of your Emergency Bag (one for each arm and one for the head), and pull it over your head to wear like a long dress. A tea-light candle was then then placed between the feet. Heat from the burning candle would then be trapped by the Emergency Bag and prevent Hypothermia. As I was both a caver and a bushwalker I started carrying both an Emergency Blanket and an Emergency Bag in my kit. It became a habit that has persisted. We now see events like the kMR Trail Run requiring Emergency Bags (rather than Emergency Blankets) as part of their compulsory kit, carried by all participants. Other Trail Running events still require an Emergency Blanket. Many purchased 1st Aid Kits are supplied with an Emergency Blanket.

Since I was benighted on the flanks of Pokana Peak, when a daywalk became a 7:00am to 11:00am, 28 hour mini-epic, I’ve pondered, one or the other? On this occasion I was carrying two Emergency Blankets and no Emergency Bag.

I don’t think there is a conclusive argument for one or the other, but maybe, a reasonable argument for carrying both. It seems to me that when a injured person has suspected spinal injuries, and shouldn’t be moved, or has a lower body injury that requires periodic checking or dressing, a blanket would be better suited. As an Emergency Bag would be more thermally efficient and better suited to windy conditions it would be best suited to situations where an injured person is still mobile, or where an otherwise fit/healthy bushwalker is forced to make an emergency bivy to sit out the night.

So I’ll continue to carry both a light weight Emergency Bag and light weight Emergency Blanket to suit individual situations. And, I’d encourage all bushwalkers to carry at least a light weight Emergency Blanket in with their Personal 1st Aid Kit. Plus, maybe consider adding a light weight Emergency Bag as well.

I should add, that if you are intending to use a bivy bag, rather than a tent on your trip, pack a proper Bivy Bag, not a light weight Emergency Bag.

Emergency Blankets and Emergency Bags are available from Mountain Creek, Paddy Pallin and Find Your Feet in Hobart. (I haven’t checked other Outdoor Retailers).

Emergency Blankets and Emergency Bags will typically weigh 50g to 120g each.

The Hippo & Mt Alexandra

From John VanderNiet

Although I have walked the Southern Ranges in the past, I had bypassed The Hippo, a peak that sounded exotic and worth visiting. A Pandani group gathered to achieve that aim recently, making use of the weekend through to the Tuesday Anzac Day holiday. What was initially a group of seven, due to some last-minute illness, became a group of five. We found ourselves to be well balanced in speed and capacity, enjoyed each other’s company over the four days, and experienced more than we bargained for.

The walk commenced in typical Southern Ranges fashion. Despite a reasonable weather forecast, as soon as we had walked the old tramway into the limestone quarry, climbed 600 m and poked our heads over the ridge onto Moonlight Flats, we were hit with strong winds. By the time we reached the exposure of Hill 1 it was up to gale force. We found it virtually impossible to walk in a straight line, like the proverbial drunken sailors. Together with mist that wet us through and limited visibility, this caused us to abandon our initial objective of camping below Moores Bridge, and to walk on to the Reservoir Lakes, where there is good protection from the elements. Even so, we could hear the wind howling overhead, and some tents were challenged by occasional gusts reaching the ground.

Day 2 commenced with much better weather, the rain disappearing for the remainder of the trip and the wind abating to a moderate level. With The Hippo as our objective for the day, only about five km walk away, we set of at a leisurely 8.30 am, and reached the peak for an early lunch. The views out to Southport Lagoon, Recherche Bay, South Cape Bay and South East Cape itself were spectacular, if a bit clouded by sea mist. The Cockscomb also stood out in spectacular fashion as we walked the ridge. The whole area has an interesting rock structure, with near horizontal striations that peel off in large slabs. The ridge from Hill 3 to The Hippo effectively gave us a clear run over a rocky spine, leaving only the final climb to the peak with a little scrub and rock scrambling. Returning to camp by about 3pm and the wind having died right down, we decided to move on to Moores Bridge for the remaining two nights, which turned out to be a fortuitous decision.

At about 4.30 on Monday morning Sohee alerted us to the Aurora Australis streaming over the ridge of the hills to the south. Vertical white streaks sprang from the ridge, ebbing and flowing as we watched. A 10 second exposure on the camera showed the full range of colours, including the apparently less common red as well as green. The wind of the previous day had completely disappeared, but it was cold. Sohee and Adrian were the most intrepid of us, and climbed the ridge in the dark to experience the full colour range visible to the eye, backlighting The Hippo. Pretty special!

We were off at 7 am, not knowing what conditions we might meet on the 15 km return trip, and having only about 10 hours of daylight. Progress was gratifyingly quick, with only short sections of dense scrub breaking long open plains. Following advice from a previous Pandani trip led by Peter Murphy, we even found a king billy pine stake placed by T B Moore in 1901, the area now named Moores Garden in his honour. (This monumental effort, in four stages from 1900 to 1902, cut and surveyed a track from Hastings to Port Davey via the Old, Solly and Salisbury Rivers). The final climb to Mt Alexandra peak was a bit of an anti-climax, with the top covered by scrub and not conducive to a long stay. The views in every direction were good though, with Mts Wylly, Victoria Cross and Bisdee, and Precipitous Bluff close by to the SW (Wylly and Bisdee were the only Tasmanians to win a Victoria Cross in the Boer War), Pindars Peak and Mt La Perouse to the south, Adamsons and Hartz Peaks further away to the NE, and Federation Peak clearly in view to the far NW. A lunch break was enjoyed on the way home, and an early return meant we could relax in camp for the last few hours of daylight. 

Unfortunately, the aurora didn’t return with any conviction on Monday night, with clouds rolling in and the wind picking up. Following a dawn Anzac vigil by some, this left us with a windy but dry walk out on the last day. We decided to visit Mystery Creek Cave on the way out, and it didn’t disappoint. A relatively large cave, glow worms gave the roof the appearance of a heavily starred night sky. Very impressive! Coffee on the way home was a must, but a search for an open café in Dover, Geeveston and Franklin was fruitless. We finally ended up at Banjos Huonville for coffee, pies and custard slices; an excellent way to finish an eventful walk.

Organiser: John VanderNiet

Participants: Joe, Paul, Sohee and Adrian

More about calling for help

Not too many decades ago the strategy for getting help in the bush was to have a minimum party size of four so that if one was injured two could walk out to raise the alarm while the remaining person stayed to look after the patient. Times have changed and we are now spoiled for choice. Should we set off a PLB or call 000? (Obviously 000 is an option only in locations where there is mobile phone service.)

There has been discussion in the club recently about which of these two methods is best, meaning which is preferred by the emergency services. So we asked the police Search and Rescue people. The short answer: it doesn’t matter much.

A PLB transmits your precise location, and updates that about every 20 minutes in the unlikely event that you keep moving. A PLB also acts as a beacon for the helicopter to home in on directly. (There’s a clue in the name – Personal Locator BEACON. Early PLB’s did not transmit location, they were just a sort of radio-frequency lighthouse that could be “seen” by the right type of radio receiver.)

On the other hand a phone call has the advantage that you can describe the situation. That can help the emergency services form a rescue plan and get medical advice if needed.

There is probably nothing wrong with using both methods, or two phone calls from different locations as was done recently when an incident occurred at a spot with no phone signal so two members of the party went in different directions hoping to pick up a phone signal somewhere and both were successful.

One other aspect to this is the way you communicate your location. The previous post here was about what3words. That may be particularly helpful if you make a phone call where the signal is weak so the sound quality breaks up. But if the audio quality is good (so that numbers are not mis-heard) then the police have a slight preference for latitude/longitude coordinates because they are directly useful to the helicopter pilot.

If you have trouble remembering all this it doesn’t matter because the method you use doesn’t matter. But for those who worry about the details I hope this is helpful.

There is a third option that not many people have and which I don’t know enough about to discuss sensibly, but I should at least mention: There are satellite communication services such as SPOT, Garmin inReach and perhaps others. These allow you to send text messages but involve a moderately expensive device and a significant subscription fee so are mostly for people doing more high-risk activities than typical Pandani bushwalks.

If you need to call for help …

(This blog is not quite dead – still hoping for contributions from others. Meanwhile here is some information that I hope is useful.)

I’ve been reminded recently that if you need to call emergency services while out in the bush it can be difficult to define your location precisely. It’s not as if you can provide a nice simple street address. Latitude and longitude coordinates from a phone or GPS device are precise but prone to error. If the 000 operator mis-hears one digit they could note down a location tens or even hundreds of kilometres away.

The what3words service is an elegant solution. It divides the whole planet into a grid of 3 m squares and each square is labelled with three common words. If audio transmission is poor then words are much less prone to misunderstanding than numbers. There is a what3words app you can find here.

Not only is this useful, it’s well accepted by the emergency services. In fact what3words is even built into the national Emergency Plus app which was developed jointly by all the states and Commonwealth. You can get that here. The app also gives direct access to 000 as well as a number of not-quite-so-emergency services such as SES, poisons information, etc.

Worth getting both of these apps on your phone; they available for both iPhone and Android. Here’s a screenshot of Emergency Plus with the what3words reference at the bottom (but camouflaged to protect my privacy).

The Pandani 30th Birthday BBQ – Feed them and they will come!

From Christine Wilson:

An enormous amount of work went into the organisation of the Pandani Birthday BBQ at Site 9 at the Waterworks on the rather damp Saturday of October 15.  The date did not commemorate the actual founding of the club, which took place in April 1991 with incorporation in 1992, but was chosen earlier this year to celebrate an important event with sufficient lead time to organise it well.

The Club has been going for 30 years, quite a feat for a small organisation dependent on volunteers. We have a membership base of around 400 people. Most weeks the Club runs 4 walks and often 5. It is the second largest Club in the state. 

Four organisers ran walks in the vicinity, none of which overlapped, so that members could enjoy an amble in the area before the BBQ. The walks catered for a total of 85 people while total attendance was around 90. I visited the base of the Ridgeway Reservoir, followed by Sixpence Cave on Geoff Buckman’s walk. The wall of the reservoir, which Geoff told us was over a century old, was seeping water in a rather alarming way, but extensive work appears to be taking place to remediate it.

Once at Site 9, the biggest site and one of only two protected from the weather, it was apparent that members of the Anniversary BBQ Committee had been busy since the site opened at 9 am. The hut was bedecked with tree fern fronds, the tables had been set up, there were photos and information about the Club founders and four life members. The two surviving ones, Rosie Bruce and yours truly, were in attendance, recyclable glass in hand. Anniversary Committee MC Sarah Atkinson called for a show of hands to indicate length of membership and the two longest serving members present, Rosie and Peter Murphy, had joined in the 1990s. Liz Thomas, our membership officer, offered Pandani merchandise. 

Club committee members John Vanderniet and Frank van Ravels manned the BBQs, and there was an array of salads. However, the most spectacular offerings were the COVID-safe cupcakes prepared in club colours and featuring the club logo. The occasion was a good time to officially launch an updated version of the logo, largely the same design as the original one but with slightly different colours and tones, created by club member Sarajayne Lada. 

I felt that the BBQ was a celebration of the Pandani Community, the friendships formed and the efforts of many individuals involved the club: the president and committee members, the walk organisers, the members themselves who support the organisers and committee by simply turning up and enjoying themselves. It was apparent that there were people present who had been members for many years, but it was really pleasing to see how many attendees were new to Pandani. A fantastic catch up and a great event. Thanks to all involved, especially the organising subcommittee of Liz Verrall, Sarah Atkinson, Viv Evans and Helen Cooley. We had a lovely time. 

Emergency information

Not long ago I was on a non-Pandani activity when a member of our party had a medical incident and became unconscious for a long time. For ages no-one was able to contact his wife until eventually she was tracked down via a friend of a friend. That got us thinking about emergency contact details.

For official Pandani events the website shows all the attendees including their emergency contacts (you have provided your details haven’t you?) and organisers should take that information with them. So a Pandani trip should not have the same problem we encountered. But you don’t spend you whole life doing Pandani things (unfortunately!) so what if there is an emergency at some other time?

Smartphones these days can show emergency ID information even when locked. There are two parts to this:

  • You need to set up your phone so that it can show emergency ID information
  • You need to be aware of how to access that on someone else’s phone if the need arises

I’m going to give a brief outline of how to do that on an iPhone. I don’t have access to an Android device so won’t presume to tell you about one of those but there seems to be lots of how-to stuff online. (Maybe someone could let me know and I’ll update this post.)

To access someone’s emergency details on an iPhone:

  • Try to unlock it until it asks for the passcode and shows a keypad
  • Touch “Emergency” at the bottom of the screen and you get the phone keypad to dial whatever number you like (maybe 000)
  • Touch “* Medical ID” below the keypad to display whatever emergency information the phone’s owner has set up

To set up your iPhone so that others can find your emergency contacts and perhaps other relevant information about you:

  • Go to Settings > Health > Medical ID
  • Touch “Edit” and fill in whatever information you feel is necessary
  • Make sure that Emergency Access (last item on that screen) is switched to “Show When Locked”

You never know when you or someone else might need this.

Photo competition 2022

The annual photo competition has been and gone, and the winning photos have been posted on Facebook. But we’ll post them here as well for posterity (well, for at least a bit longer than anything lasts on Facebook). Click on the images for a larger view.

For completeness, here are the judging results:

“Back in the Day, Lees Paddocks” by Peter Tuft, Judge’s 1st Choice and Peoples Choice equal 1st.
“Into the Wilds” by Becca Lunnon, People’s Choice equal 1st.
“In the Depth of Winter Lies an Invisible Summer” by Becca Lunnon, People’s Choice equal 1st.

“A Bug in the Hand” by Simon Kendrick, Judge’s 1st Choice.
“Stuck Blue Bottle” by Sarah Atkinson, People’s Choice 1st and People’s Choice ‘Best in Show’.

“For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Becca Lunnon, Judge’s 1st Choice.
“A Touch of Colour in the Mist” by Simon Kendrick, Peoples Choice 1st.

Fungi, Mushroom, Lichen and Moss
“Gradual Embrace” by Becca Lunnon, Judge’s 1st Choice.
“The Eyes Have It” by Margaret Brocklehurst, People’s Choice 1st.

Mountain and Bush
“Children of the Bush” by Becca Lunnon, Judge’s 1st Choice, Judge’s “Best in Show” and Peoples Choice 1st.
“Tent Tarn Dawn” by Peter Tuft, Judge’s Highly Commended.

Pandani People
“Follow the Leader by Becca Lunnon, Judge’s 1st Choice and People’s Choice equal 1st.
“Brendan Impromptu” by Peter Tuft, People’s Choice equal 1st.
“Two Peas in a Mucky Pod” by Simon Kendrick, People’s Choice equal 1st.

Snow and Ice
“Sharp and Cold” by Sarah Atkinson, Judge’s 1st Choice and People’s Choice 1st.
“One Destination” by Julene Bednall, Graham Wootton Encouragement Award presented by Cecilia Wootton.

Water Scene
“Lake Tahune Reflection of Frenchmans Cap” by Peter Tuft, Judge’s 1st Choice.
“Buckies Bonnet” by Simon Kendrick, Judge’s Highly Commended.
“On a Clear Day” by Margaret Blocklehurst, People’s Choice 1st.

Perfectly safe …

Not good weather

As a first year student I joined the university bushwalking and mountaineering club and found that one of the things Sydney bushwalkers did in summer was descend streams of all types, from paddling lazily on lilos down a river to abseiling down deep dark canyons. So one of the old experienced guys (aged about 22) taught a group of us to abseil. As he taught us to check and double-check everything that connected us to the rope and the rope to the belay point he said :

“It’s perfectly safe as long as you never forget that it’s extremely dangerous”.

That bon mot lodged firmly in my brain, partly because of its delicious paradox and partly because it was so apt. He claimed that it originated in naval gunnery but I have not been able to confirm that and it doesn’t matter. (Google can’t find it anywhere except in something I produced myself, so maybe my mate himself was the originator.) It applies to so many things – from our simple outdoor activities to modern technological society where high-energy activities and equipment have the potential to go wrong and dissipate their huge energy catastrophically. For example, hurtling across country in a wheeled box containing 50 L of explosive fuel at about the same speed you’d reach if you jumped from the 15th floor. Not to mention 240 volts, air travel, chainsaws, gas appliances, etc, etc. Perfectly safe, as long as you don’t forget … But I digress.

The aims and objectives of Pandani, as expressed in the club constitution, include “To participate in, and promote, SAFE bushwalking and associated activities …”. Making sure that our activities are as safe as reasonably possible is the main reason that Pandani has a bunch of procedures and guidelines. In fact safety of members is pretty much the only reason that the club has any documentation at all other than the program. Most members don’t see much of that apart from the Information for Members document you would have received recently. However organisers see more, and the committee sees a whole lot more still.

So what are the dangers of bushwalking? They boil down to very few – physical injury, hypothermia, snakebite, or being caught out unprepared overnight (plus some others that are less likely in Tasmania). Of course many different things can lead to those outcomes, such as poor navigation, weather conditions, simple mishap (tripping), a party member whose ability is unsuitable for the trip, inadequate clothing or equipment, etc, etc.

Elementary risk management involves identifying the risks, taking actions to minimise the likelihood of the nasty event happening, and having a plan to minimise the consequences if it happens anyway. For example, to manage the risk of hypothermia you may choose to stay home if cold wet weather is forecast (minimises the risk to zero) and if you do proceed then pack enough waterproof and warm clothing for the worst reasonably foreseeable conditions (reduces the consequences from possible death to mere discomfort).**

The dangers of bushwalking are all manageable to some degree. You might not be able to eliminate the likelihood that a snake might strike at you but gaiters will pretty much eliminate the consequences of a strike. And most other dangers are much more manageable.

Have you thought through all the risks, minimisations and mitigations that you might encounter in your bushwalking activities? It’s perfectly safe as long as you never forget it’s extremely dangerous.

**As I write this I’m sitting in a ski lodge on the mainland having a day off from back-country XC skiing because it’s about 2ºC with 50 km/h winds, total whiteout and pouring rain. No-one here wants to go out and get hypothermia, or even just wet and miserable. But on a good day bushwalking on skis is pure magic.

Vale Keith Hewlett

Keith Hewlett was a life member of the club and sadly passed away on 23 July.  Those who knew Keith may wish to join the celebration of his life: 2:00 pm, Fri 5 August, Clarence Lifestyle Village.

Below is the tribute to him from “Twenty Years Down the Track” which was published in 2012 for the club’s 20th anniversary.  Others may wish to add their own tributes or anecdotes in the comments.

In January 2011 Keith was awarded life membership of the Pandani Bushwalking Club.  He either led or co-led 333 walks, a true club stalwart. Along the way he has given us great enjoyment and shared experiences discovering so many of our beautiful walks.

For many years Thursdays were “Keith’s days” inspiring a loyal band of walkers. His welcoming attitude encourages new and sometimes rather daunted walkers. His keen sense of humour is appreciated – a snake crossing our path has its length increased five-fold by the time we return to the cars! Always thoughtful, Keith provided cooled bottled water from his car to thirsty walkers after a walk when high temperatures were forecast. Keith also always has goat’s milk soap in his car boot, available to walkers who wish to purchase it! 

Keith’s female walkers always carry Bandaids and attend to his scrapes, providing valuable first aid practice. Once he even encouraged one of his walkers to bake a morning tea muffin – so long as it wasn’t chocolate. He likes his bananas very ripe (they contain more potassium) and he never sits down for elevenses (ready to get going again).

These days Keith no longer has the sole responsibility of leadership on Thursdays, but we are always delighted when he is able to join the group and have his yellow hat bobbing along amongst us. His encouragement to new leaders has been welcomed. He is always willing to share his knowledge when asked, whether it’s historical, geographical – or just gossip! We ‘new’ leaders have had the benefit of his many years of experience and so have been groomed, without knowing it.

With a deep love of the bush and bushwalking and a genuine interest in and enjoyment of his fellow walkers, Keith appreciates the companionship that walking provides. He has often said that of all the places he goes, he enjoys walking on Mt Wellington the most. We hope he will continue to walk on his beloved mountain for many more years. Thank you, Keith, for all you have taught us along the way. 

Musings of dedicated polishers

From Faith Handley & Robyn Colman

We often receive comments about our hiking boots being shiny, so we thought we would explain.

We prefer leather boots for hiking because we find them comfortable, genuinely waterproof, and easier to clean than the alternatives. Although this sparkling transformation is inherently fleeting, the actions of scrubbing, drying and polishing are oh so satisfying!

Creating that glow takes time and is part of our usual preparation for the next bushwalk, as we anticipate the excitement of new adventures and the allure of exploring unknown territory with enthusiastic companions.

There is also the matter of regular inspection for wear and tear. When washing, brushing and polishing our boots we keep in touch with them! By paying close attention, we know when more serious maintenance may be needed.

And, as we all know, clean boots feel lighter, go faster and travel further.