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.

100 Women2

The following is from member Becca Lunnon whom many of you may know from her Rock Monkey Adventures blog and who has been inspired by this project.

We are many things, but the one thread that ties us all together is that we walk, and we walk together. I suspect there are a few others – our compassion, our care and our desire to make the world a better place by building community and supporting those within it. Have you heard of 100 Women2 – Women helping Women? It may just speak to something within you…

We are a community of women from all walks of life. We are joining together as a supportive and co-ordinated network to make a difference to the lives of other women.

We need your help. We need women: beautiful, gorgeous women of all ages who wish to walk and raise funds. We need 100 women who commit to walk 100 kms and raise $1,000 each for a charity that aligns with one of their points of passion. Together we will collectively raise $100,000 for causes associated with helping women rise. Our long-term vision is that this walk is repeated many times hence the 100 Women². We also need men: great men support women. You can support women to walk, donate to a campaign, become a corporate sponsor or even champion a corporate team. 

Please visit 100 Women² – Women helping Women² for more information, follow us and spread the word on Facebook and Instagram, or check out our Current Campaigns to support them and the women behind them.

Back in the Day

Two things struck me about the “Back in the Day” walk to Lees Paddocks last weekend:

  • How much I enjoyed the camaraderie and warmth around a proper campfire. That wasn’t a surprise.
  • Old gear from the 1970’s is not all that inferior to modern gear. That was a bit more surprising.

First the gear: In the spirit of “back in the day” I took as much of my oldest gear as I could still find. My rucksack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and billies were from the early 1970s (don’t ask why I still have all this stuff). Although my 1970s clothing is long gone I wore the equivalents as much as possible – wool shirt, King Gee shorts, Dunlop Volley sandshoes. Others did likewise to the extent that they had old gear and it was particularly pleasing to see John Counsell’s “golden tan” Paddymade japara tent as well as his Paddymade japara water bucket.

And all that old stuff was perfectly functional and comfortable, although I was slightly more aware of the H-frame pack on my back than I am with my usual rucksack. Nor is the gear heavier:

  • Japara tent (including poles, pegs & fly): 3.5 kg, about the same as our modern 4-season 2-person tent. Also a lot more spacious inside, and robust in all but the strongest winds.
  • Paddy Pallin H-frame rucksack: 2.5 kg, a little heavier than the pack I normally carry but 1 kg lighter than my big expedition pack (which actually has less capacity than the H-frame)
  • Paddy Pallin “Bogong” sleeping bag only marginally heavier than my current bag (although a fair bit more bulky but that didn’t matter with the big rucksack 🙂)

It’s interesting to realise that modern gear is only incrementally rather than dramatically improved over the old stuff despite looking very different. Having said that, the increment is sufficient that my reversion to 1970s gear will not be ongoing. Perhaps the most significant improvement is in bulk rather than weight, so that I now get away with a smaller and lighter rucksack.

One exception to the incremental gains: waterproof clothing. I’m most definitely not volunteering to exchange my modern breathable waterproofs for oiled japara.

Dean Bluff towering over our camp. Some of us were on top of that the previous weekend.

Now the campfire: Back in the day when I started bushwalking, and for many years after, the evening campfire with companions was one of the joys of the whole bush experience. Even in the snow we often had a campfire. It was a bit of a shock to me to find, when I resumed serious walking in Tasmania a few years ago, that as soon as it got cool and/or gloomy everyone would retreat to their one-person accommodation and not be seen again until morning. I was quietly thrilled on Saturday night to see almost our entire group conversing around the fire, sometimes involving everyone and sometimes a several different conversations.

I’d like to organise more walks with a campfire despite the very limited locations where it is possible. We are also thinking about hosting the occasional “campfire social” on our bush block, although that would be quite different to a walk-in event. Watch the program.

(Before you go – this is not my blog, it’s Pandani’s blog. I’d love to see posts from other club members on any bushwalking related topic you feel like writing about.)

Third time lucky!

Christine Anderson’s walk to Mt Mawson has been cancelled twice in previous years because of poor weather, and even this weekend it had to be postponed by a day, again because of the weather. How lucky were her lucky band able to walk on Sunday instead of Saturday, in glorious weather. Finally we made it.

The walk from Wombat Moor in the Mt Field National Park starts on the Lake Belton Track in the Mosaic Garden – an area of many different moorland plants, well explained on little signposts. We walked on through open woodland with snow gums to our morning-tea spot with jaw-dropping views.

Soon afterwards, we turned off to begin climbing Mt Mawson. A slope of dolerite boulders, large and small, gave our hip flexors, knees and ankles an excellent workout.

After an hour or so we arrived at another wonderful view, where we had quick refreshments before the final ascent of our mountain. Here the peak-finder app was in high demand – it seemed we were looking at the whole of southern, south-western and western Tasmania. (Well, perhaps not quite all of it but any more would have been too much.)

Back to our packs for well-earned lunch, and then we set off for a good look-out in the hope of seeing Lake Belcher. Lake Belton was well in view but it took a fair bit of exploring until we could see its companion down in the valley.

Honour satisfied, we turned to cross a beautiful garden of more low-lying plants, interspersed with many healthy cushion plants.

Finally we reached the trig point at the top of the ski slope and descended to explore the swish visitors’ centre (and excellent toilets), before walking down the lovely Urquhart Track to Lake Dobson and on back to the cars.

Mt Mawson has long been a goal for me so to finally get there on such a beautiful day, in great company, and with expert organising from Christine was very special.

Robyn Colman, 5 December 2021

Fun with Pandani Blogs

Now that the club has its own blog, we can post things which might require a few more words than just a Facebook post and reach people who don’t use Facebook.

Although you can send your blog contributions to the club to be posted on your behalf, if you are comfortable using a computer you can request permission to post directly by emailing to have your name added to the list of authors. The process isn’t difficult for anyone with some word processing experience and, with tutorials on the site, you can soon be up and running.

First you have to register with WordPress, which is pretty simple and something we’re all used to these days for just about everything we do on computers. Once you get into the site, it’s not particularly difficult to navigate. There’s a pop-up tutorial which appears on the left hand side to walk you through the basics when you begin and the interface is fairly intuitive once you’ve seen where the various controls are located.

Almost immediately you will be able to choose a title and then just start typing below it, in which case the software assumes that you’re doing a paragraph and formats it accordingly. To add photos, select the “+” and either drag the photo you want to the space or select it, using the dialog box. A box will appear below it for you to insert a caption if you wish. If you want to keep typing above it, the cursor will continue where you left off.

Kunanyi from the webcam
And just one day later

However, if you want to type below the picture, a “+” will have appeared below it and you can click on this and select “paragraph” to continue your typing below. It’s all fairly simple.

Altering your text is as easy as selecting the text you want to change and a pop-up menu will appear with basic options. Extra possibilities are available under the “settings” icon.

Save your draft, preview it and then you can publish it directly to the blogsite.

So have a go. It’s really not that hard and once we’re all using it, it will be a great way to tell stories about our walks across the island, and beyond. And if you want help, there are always people in the club, as in all our activities, there to assist you.

Leeches – everything you want(?) to know

Interesting and useful information from Lesley Wickham (thanks!) …

Most of us on the recent Ryton Hills walk had close-up encounters with leeches. These little devils have a three-pointed star-shaped biting mouth which slices through skin and some clothing. Although they sometimes drop from shrubs, mostly they get onto the body from the ground and tend to climb up until they reach somewhere they can hide while they feed, like an elastic clothing edge or a watchband.

People generally expect to find them in wet places but our experience has shown that there are varieties, usually larger than the wetland varieties, which like dry places so they can strike unexpectedly when you don’t think you’re in an area which favours them.

In ‘biting’ the leech releases an anti-coagulant and an irritant into the bloodstream to encourage flow. This is what causes the swelling and itching following a bite and makes it difficult to stop the blood flow when they’re pulled off. 

If you’re familiar with their bites, you will often notice a vague, difficult to pin down itch as they start to attach which can be a warning to check. If you get them off before they start to feed, you can avoid most of the after-effects. If allowed to feed until full, they withdraw most of their secretions before dropping off, so the subsequent bleeding and itching are considerably reduced. This can be disturbing if you’re not used to leeches and many people are too horrified to leave them once they know they’re there but the results are usually better if you can resist the temptation to interfere.

Styptic pencils, available from chemists, can be used in the field to stem bleeding as sometimes they will even soak and bleed out around a bandaid.

Many preventions can reduce the risk. Having lived in an area abounding with leeches, we found that wearing knee-high stockings (“trouser socks”) under bushwalking socks was a big help as they will burrow through the fabric of the socks if they can but can’t bite through the stocking. When we removed our socks, we would often have numbers of half-dead miserable leeches trapped between the layers, unable to move or bite. Putting a smear or spray of insect repellent round elastic clothing edges, round the neckline of teeshirts, round your watchband  and on the outside of boots and/or gaiters can also help.

A friend of mine heard that dishwashing detergent was a good deterrent, so she smeared it over her boots before a walk. All went really well until we had to go through a water crossing, after which her boots developed a magnificent halo of foam, a source of great hilarity to the rest of us on the walk.

Mud, Blood and Laundry

From Robyn Colman…

So many new walks in a week! How to choose? With several boring, responsible activities in competition, the clear answer was, “Just do all the walks.” 

First, was Christine’s walk to the Yellow Cliffs, over the back of Collinsvale. The cliffs are spectacular – a narrow path below takes walkers alongside multi-storey sandstone cliffs, textured with honeycomb here and there, and coloured with golden striations. 

The track in took us through pleasant open forest, with a steep descent to the Glen Dhu Rivulet, whose spate made crossing interesting.

The cliff path also gave us a lovely view across forested hills and farmland to Mt Dromedary. The forest track changed interestingly from drier to wetter, with plenty of treeferns and mossy logs as we got closer to the rivulet.

At the end of the day, a spectacular afternoon tea at Christine’s added to her and Dave’s reputation for legendary hospitality.

The second new walk (for me) was Chris, Bob and Karen’s botanical ramble in the Ryton Hills. Here we had a most delightful stroll through woodland, dancing over all the delicate little flowers at ground level, looking up to the varied eucalyptus trees overhead, and keeping a weather eye on the dramatic roiling storm clouds to the west. This was very much a “Look down, look up, look down, look up” walk.

Between them, Bob, Chris and Bob’s friend Karen had a wealth of botanical knowledge, generously shared. Bob helpfully remarked at one point that “Repetition helps” with Latin names, so I’ll just have to stumble along with “Mitochondria tetris” and “Echinacea eritrea” as my fall-back until I’ve heard the proper names about 43 times more.

The countryside and views, once again, were lovely. From a ridge we could see Maria Island’s Bishop and Clark nudging a tuft of cloud, while the view to Mt Hobbes to our west (?) brought reminiscences of an enjoyably scary trek through Split Rock a few months ago.

And once again, we were provided with a lovely afternoon tea, this time beside Bob’s envy-making cabin. There was even a little fire and a billy, which brought more reminiscences of happy camping “back in the day”.

And so to the mud, blood and laundry. Usually at the end of a walk, I look at my dusty or lightly muddy trouser cuffs and shirt and think, “Will I wash you, or will I leave it …” Yeah, nah … Might as well leave it another week, they’ll do for now. 

No doubts, however after the Yellow Cliffs walk. Having taken the bumslide fast route down to the Glen Dhu Rivulet, I wore mud from pack top and bottom to ankles, shoulders to wrists. A swim rather than a wade across might have been more useful. So, into the wash went everything.

Then again, after the Ryton Hills. So many leeches! Lots of us had at least one bite, I had three. It was dramatic, but! Sarah looked as though she’d been stabbed in the stomach and I looked as though a vampire had been at my neck. (Perhaps the light-coloured check shirt and white singlet hadn’t been such a good idea.)

So once again, back into the wash it all went, after an overnight soak. I am the cleanest I have been in months. Oh yes, didn’t I say? Thorough showers followed too!

Now I’m all anticipation to see what laundry adventures Marg’s walk from Geeveston brings tomorrow … detergent is at the ready.

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.

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