(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).
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.
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.
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:
Exhibition “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.
Fauna “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’.
Flora “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.
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.
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.
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.
(I drafted this months ago then decided it wasn’t worth posting. But with the Frenchmans Cap slide night coming up next week it has new relevance, so here it is.)
I was supposed to climb Frenchmans Cap in February 1973 after doing the Overland Track with some friends from my Uni bushwalking club. However I suffered badly from gastric lurgy on that first walk so recovered in Hobart while my mates did the walk and came back with tales of the Sodden Lodden.
Next chance was in April 2004 with our kids aged 16 & 20, when the Lodden was just as sodden as ever. But the mud was a source of laughter rather than irritation and we had a great time.
By 2021 it was time to have another go. The Lodden was reportedly no longer sodden after major track improvements so we had expectations of a relatively easy trip. But expectations can be a curse. It turned out that only some things had changed and others were the same or worse. The Lodden was indeed now vastly improved and the new Tahune Hut is wonderful. But the track beyond Lake Vera was unchanged, just as rough and difficult as ever. And in worse shape? … bodies now 17 years older.
It was not a bad trip by any means, far from it, but my incorrect expectations messed with my head and enjoyment at times.
The great and the good:
Reflections in the perfect mirror of Lake Tahune early in the morning – stunning
Lake Tahune hut, brilliantly designed for warmth and comfort, and because we have our own micro-hydro generator I was very interested in the hydro generator far below the hut (quite hard to find and get to, not many people go there I think)
Views from Barron Pass, in every direction plus up and down
Expanding views and changing perspectives of the surrounding terrain as we gained height on the climb towards the summit
Frenchmans summit, of course (eventually)
Bum-sliding down the snow on the way back down
The vegetation – if you get bored on a walk there is always something of interest in the vegetation and on this walk there was immense variety including lots of things new to me (I’m fascinated by Australian botany)
The not so good:
The unimproved track beyond Vera Hut is … unimproved (and felt very long)
Reaching the summit of Frenchmans at exactly exactly the same time that the descending cloud ceiling also reached it; I had a hissy fit and stormed back down but was persuaded to hang around to see what happened, and as the mist came and went we did in fact get some good views
We may or may not ever return to Frenchmans (I don’t feel a burning desire) but I remain very grateful for the opportunity to have done it, twice. And if I do go again I think my now lowered expectations might lead me to be pleasantly surprised.
[Thanks to Belinda Jefferies for this post – well said!]
When I’m walking with the club, the inevitable conversation arises about our need for more leaders to provide a well balanced and interesting program. Many members of the club are unsure about how much time and effort it requires and some simply do not have the confidence to give it a go.
Leading does require some skill, but more it requires common sense, patience and enthusiasm.
Why do I like to lead?
The first reason and the one you should consider first is, you get to walk where and when you want! I love this, as like many of you, I have a long list of walks I would like to do in my lifetime and it is more fun with the group than on my own. Why wait for another person to put the walk on the program when you can do it yourself at a time that suits you. Nothing worse than having a walk on your list that comes up in the program on a work day, or a weekend you already have plans.
The next most important thing to consider is do you have time to plan the walk. Leading a group is so much more than just throwing your backpack in the car on the morning and hope it all goes ok. I always do a trial run (a recce) prior to my walk. Not all leaders do this, but it does save embarrassment on the day if you drive to the wrong track, find a bridge washed out or a tree down over the access road. Sometimes you can’t avoid this, but it does help, particularly when you are new to leading to give you confidence that you know what to expect.
On the day… LEAD. You are the leader and others have given you permission by attending your walk to lead. Stick to your plans, amend if necessary, but don’t let other well meaning walkers lead you astray. It is often very hard in the face of a tough decision, to abort your walk, cancel an ascent or change tack for an easier option on the day, but this is what the club is expecting you to do for the safety of your group.
That said, do seek council, particularly if you are needing to make difficult decisions. Consult the group, test the morale and decide what the safest, and most enjoyable option is going to be. Remember, not all decisions are going to please everyone, but they must keep your group safe.
Finally – enjoy leading. It is the most satisfying day out when you look at your muddy, weary, smiling group and realise this all happened because you took the risk and put your hand up to lead.
Please consider being a leader and speak to one of the walk mentors about getting the necessary experience to put your very own walks list on the program. You will not regret it, even on the hard days.
Cape Connella is the next cape south from Fluted Cape on South Bruny Island. I’d heard somewhere that a track to it had been re-cleared in the last year or so, and also that there was a taped route directly between the two capes. That would make a lovely circuit which I was keen to explore.
The walk begins along the Slide Track from Adventure Bay. That track is notorious for leeches but I encountered none, perhaps because I had comprehensively sprayed my feet and ankles with repellant. Traces of the track’s origin as a timber tramway could be seen in the form of occasional logs both across and parallel to the track. After climbing steadily to about 100 m the track runs across a long flat section of lush wet sclerophyll forest, but I suspect all the large trees had disappeared down the old tramway.
After about 2.5 km a sign showed the turnoff to Cape Connella (on one of the few remaining very big trees). The route was now a more conventional bush track – well marked and well trodden but twisting and turning through the vegetation. More big trees here, generally more lush forest, particularly as it started to drop towards the coast through rainforest of sassafras, myrtles and tree ferns, and of course fungi. At a steep gully crossing some ropes had been placed down a steep bank to help those who are less sure-footed – I thought not essential but a nice touch and I used them anyway.
(Click to enlarge any photo)
Soon I was at the small promontory called Bev’s Lookout which gave views north to Cape Connella itself and south towards the southern tip of Bruny, as well as to the seriously rough shoreline 120 m below. I had morning tea watching surf crash over rock faces and a boulder beach. A large group would need to take turns looking at the view – scrub right to the edge means there is room for only one or two people at the lookout.
The track became more faint and rough from here but still mostly easy to follow. The vegetation was now what you would expect on a coastal clifftop – fairly sparse dry sclerophyll which would not have been too hard to walk through even without a track (but the track was definitely easier).
As I neared Cape Connella and looked at the map I was disappointed to realise that the track was heading nowhere near the point of the cape itself. But disappointment was unjustified because I was lead to a higher summit where dolerite cliffs plunged 240 m to the water. The top of the cliff line was more dissected than we are used to at, say, Cape Raoul which made it more intricate and interesting. I dawdled along here and the next long section of clifftops for a long time, looking at the views from different places and different angles.
I was even able to get a promotional shot for Pennicott’s boat trips and a self-portrait of my own silhouette.
Eventually the route moved away from the clifftops which had become less distinctive anyway. The marker tapes became more intermittent and the trampled pad was very faint so I often wandered off the route for a short distance but the vegetation was so open it didn’t matter and I always picked it up again. Navigation here was never going to be a problem – just keep the cliff to your right. In one patch that was more rainforesty but still open I was delighted to find orchids in flower – unexpected at this time of year.
Just before the summit of Fluted Cape I stopped for lunch with yet another view and was glad to continue enjoying the solitude before encountering walkers on the popular tourist track at the top. I didn’t linger at Fluted Cape – been here before and the views seemed not particularly special after where I’d been. From there it was a cruisey walk back down the well-graded track to the end of Adventure Bay and a little further to my car. A bit less than 5 hours including meal breaks and lots of lookout loitering – I’d expected longer. Total distance was only 11.5 km and just under 600 m of climbing.
This was a reconnaissance walk – it will definitely appear on the program in future.
(Disclaimer: I know solo walking can be unwise. On this occasion I was comfortable alone because I was on a well-defined route and had a PLB, a phone that had signal for more than half the walk and a pack full of survival gear.)