Our Trip to Bluff Knoll

Our Trip to Bluff Knoll

Our Camping Trip at Bluff Knoll – Stirling Ranges

 

Last weekend, my son Joseph and I joined a small group of friends to climb Bluff Knoll which is located in the Stirling Ranges of WA. Climbing Bluff Knoll is an interesting and unique experience that I would highly recommend for any keen travellers or hikers.  

 

If you plan to spend the night here, you can book into the campsite at Stirling Range Retreat. Be aware that tourists flock to this region for the wildflower trails starting mid-August so it is essential to book well in advance if you are planning on arriving at this time. It is important to bring enough snacks for the journey and make sure you bring a good camera for the breathtaking views. 

 

We arrived at Stirling Retreat late in the evening and were given a warm welcome from the owners Tony and Ayleen Sands. We were led to our camping area which appeared to be well maintained. We immediately got to setting up our tent and sleeping bags. Stirling Retreat has a large & clean ablution block and a warm shower was just what we needed to settle in. The weather that night at the retreat was very cold and windy. Despite this, our tent did extremely well in keeping us comfortable.

 

The morning  seemed alot brighter, we woke to the sun shining through the eucalyptus trees and the sounds of birds singing nearby.  Breakfast at the community kitchen was a great start to the day with eggs, vegemite on toast and some smoked bacon.

Bluff Knoll isn’t your typical trail. If wild terrain, steep rocks and endurance is what you think entails a hiking trip, Bluff Knoll is the exact opposite. The Stirling ranges are dotted with around six tall peaks and Bluff Knoll is its highest at 1095m above sea level. In fact it’s the tallest peak in western Australia. Despite its height, it is rated as a moderately difficult trail and anybody with a basic level of fitness can take this on. Bluff Knoll is great for initiating kids into trails and for adult beginners. During the spring season, it is known for its wildflower bloom.

 

We left for Bluff Knoll early afternoon after a light lunch to build up our energy reserves, at a cafe nearby. Before leaving, we packed all our camping gear into the car and cleaned up the campsite. We packed snacks and about 3 litres of water into our backpacks. We were told that the hike could take about 3-4 hours. The drive to the base took  about twenty minutes to get there.

 

As we arrived and the car park came into full view, I figured why it is no surprise that Bluff Knoll is popular with families. The entire plot was well maintained and was dotted with cars, bike and traveler groups of various sizes. The lot was also equipped with a line of eco toilets; very useful for travelers coming directly here after a long road trip. The car park itself had a great view and we couldn’t wait to get started on the trail.

 

The first stretch of the hike was a straight long and clear bitumen covered pathway and I remember  thinking that this hike was probably too easy for us.  However, in just about five minutes I was relieved to see the actual terrain begin. We liked what we saw.

 

At the start of the trail, Joseph and I did a few warm up exercises. It was quite cold and I knew we would probably end up with sore tired muscles by the end of our 6 km journey.

The trail basically consists of a steep path up to the summit which is lined with sometimes rough and at other times well-maintained steps to aid climbers. Most of the steps were fashioned out of the quartzite rocks jutting out of the mountain. Some parts however were thick man-made sheets of rock, held into place with metal supports. Not all parts of the trail were steep, but the parts which were, needed all your energy.

 

Initially, both of us were fully concentrating on getting up there. But we soon noticed that a lot of travelers were mingling with each other and forming larger groups. About twenty minutes into the hike, we saw another father-son duo and struck up a conversation. They were from Perth, they said and had driven to the Stirling Ranges in their new caravan, to celebrate the son graduating college. They were also staying at the powered campsite of Stirling Retreat. During our talk, I happened to mention about Aussiesurvivor.com and it turned out that the son who was in his twenties, used to purchase his camping gear from us regularly. I love good co-incidences! They stopped for a rest soon afterwards as the father didn’t want his asthma to flare. We bade them goodbye, parting with a couple of granola bars they handed us.

 

About fifty minutes into the trail, it got slightly difficult. Not so much for us, but we saw many struggling to go up. Two groups consisting of slightly senior citizens turned back to go downwards. I am not sure what it is exactly, but somehow on such trails, given the common goal that all of us have, the whole environment is infused with a feeling of solidarity. We saw so many hikers who were doing their return walk downwards, encourage those on the verge of giving up on their way up. Maybe that is why hiking makes for such a great group activity.

 

Left to ourselves, Joseph and I were again in full hiking mode. In hindsight, I wish we had looked around a little and enjoyed the view.

I did see the freshly bloomed wildflowers and Joseph took some quick pictures. With spring not yet in full swing, the terrain appeared more green-brown and not very colorful.

 

It was about at this point that the clouds took over and it began drizzling lightly. Quite a contrast to the bright afternoon sun which was over our heads when we had started the trail. An interesting story I had heard, occurred to me. It is said that the Noongar people believe that all the clouds around Bluff Knoll are the perceptible form of a lonely spirit called Noatch. If you wander aimlessly in this unpredictable terrain, you can be caught in her misty embrace. Hence it is always better to thread carefully. The current weather simply brought alive the unpredictability this trail is known for.

 

I think this would be the right time to point out a few safety precautions one should take in terms of one’s hiking or camping gear. Even for a seemingly easy trek like Bluff Knoll, it is very easy for someone to slip off the edges of the smooth rock steps. With a little rain, this could be a dangerous slip. I was relieved that we both wore shoes with a dense tread on the soles and this worked brilliantly to prevent slips. We also had water proof jackets with us, which helped during the light drizzle. I realized that the last thing you want to be caught in, after getting wet in the rains, are strong icy winds. Not surprising that a group of college kids who were caught out by the rains didn’t look the least bit excited.

 

For senior citizens and anyone with a lower level of fitness I would definitely recommend carrying a walking or hiking stick. This helps in reducing the pressure on your knees and reduces the overall stress of the hike. Lastly, don’t forget water, lots of it. It is important to stay hydrated. In my experience, while travelers have a meticulous list of camping gear to pack, they often forget the bare bushwalking necessities. A little thought can make any hiking experience, a memorable one.

 

Soon, true to its nature, the climate suddenly changed to sunny and I thought this would be a great time to pop open a can of beer.  Joseph just then spotted a light waterfall streaming downwards and we turned this into our pit stop, albeit for about ten minutes. We munched a little on the snacks we had with us. It was now late into the afternoon but thankfully it wasn’t too hot. We still had to keep our jackets on.

 

Joseph loves the wildlife and spotting a few animals on this trail were part of his wish list. Unfortunately the best he could do was a clear sighting of a possum. Not so much the quokka he was hoping for, but it was okay. He did see a couple of large spiders and some reptiles. We learnt that a lot of effort goes into the preservation  of the native flora here.

About an hour and a half into our trail, I sensed that we would be nearing the summit. Right around a very sharp bend, Bluff Knoll’s unpredictable weather had us again as it suddenly got very cold. Armed with extra jackets in our backpack, we put those on and charged ahead.

 

We were soon up at the top and we were glad that we did this camping trip. The rocks jutted out making for a unique summit view. There were many other hiking groups on top who had made this an impromptu picnic. Joseph wished then that we had packed a real meal for the summit instead of dry snacks. With a promise of a good dinner, we started on our way back downwards.

 

I was keeping a check on the time and sunlight as I didn’t want us to venture downwards in the dark. The people we met at the car park had told us that the hike down would be much more difficult. While we found this true in some parts, for the most of it was easy, given our relative fitness. Also, I had made a mental note of taking more pictures and generally enjoying the view.

 

We reached the car park in about three hours after we started. Some people we met here told us they took about five but they had young kids with them. It was evening and the sun was still above our heads. After a coffee break at a café there, we started our drive back to the retreat and before we knew it, we were at our camping site, setting up our tents for the night.

 

Thinking back, from the comfort of our home, as a leisurely hiking trail, Bluff Knoll was worth it. The camping gear we tested came through beautifully. As we tick off Bluff Knoll from hiking wish list, here’s to more such trips to come.

Water When Camping

Water When Camping

Water When Camping

Our bodies are made up mostly of water. Therefore it goes without saying that water is quite essential to us and anytime we deprive our bodies of it we are looking at serious health consequences and maybe even death. The human body cannot go on for a long time without this vital fluid, we can only survive a mere three days without it. Therefore, if you are ever in the predicament of not having water you must try your best to attain some.

It is best to try to take as much water as you will need when you are out camping. I know that sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you plan, things can go wrong. You may have taken as much water as you thought would be necessary, but somehow you still ran out.

The first thing that you should do is to try very hard to remain hydrated. This is very important; being very active can cause you to use up lots of energy, so it would be wise not to over exert yourself. Keeping as many fluids as you can inside of your body would be of great importance as there is no way to replenish fluids lost to perspiration and so on.

If you are far off the beaten trail, you should try to locate water as soon as you can. Knowing where to look can make it easier and definitely quicker to find. Of course it is important for you to have your sterilizing equipment on hand. The last thing that you would want is to get infected by contaminated water. It doesn’t matter how clean and clear the water looks, it should be purified, you cannot tell whether water is clean or not just by looking, unless you have microscopic vision!

Ok let’s find some water, if you locate some clear, flowing water which is originating from somewhere where there are no inhabitants, this water is probably clean. It certainly will be the cleanest source of water that you will encounter, but that doesn’t mean that you should just start to drink it.

Remember no people does not equate to no animals! Animals may urinate or even release faeces in the water, you wouldn’t be able to see the results of their contamination and drinking the water may make you ill. Therefore, remember to purify the water, taking the time to do this may increase your chances of survival!

Water may also be found in lakes, ponds and rivers. Ponds and lakes are pools of stagnant water; we all know what that means, it is a breeding ground for bacteria. These are not ideal sources of water as the risks of becoming sick is very high, I wouldn’t recommend using water from a source like this unless you have top of the line purification gear, as really high levels of bacteria and other downright nasty things may be found in the water.

When camping, carrying the water that you will need is the best option that you have; that is the only way to ensure that your water supply is safe and free of harmful microorganisms. As was mentioned earlier, sometimes even the best laid plans can sometimes fail, therefore it is imperative that you have a back-up plan in place to ensure that you do not become dehydrated.

Walking with a purification kit can help you attain water that is safe for drinking, so you shouldn’t leave home without one because putting your survival at risk is not an option.

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How to alert others that you need rescuing

How to alert others that you need rescuing

What if the unthinkable happens, what if one minute you are enjoying a quiet stroll through the beautiful terrain, then the next minute you are lost, or if you fall into an area that offers no tangible way of getting back on track and you are trapped! What do you do then? Do you just stay there without supplies and water and die from dehydration?

As human beings, we are hotwired for survival, everything within us pushes us to try to survive; trying to get out of dangerous situations and signal for help is a built in mechanism within all of us. Though we may know that we need to signal for help, we may not know how to. How can we use what we have around us at the time, to let others know that we are in danger and that we need rescuing.

Do you have a mirror with you, or something that has a shiny surface, like a knife or a blade of some kind? If you do, you can use the shiny surface to reflect the sun’s light. This is actually a very effective way of getting the attention of an airplane. From the moment you see the aircraft, you should begin to signal it. Do not wait until the airplane is directly above you as pilots cannot look directly down but tend to look out in the distance. Therefore, when they are far away is the best time to try to signal them.

A smoke signal can also be used; using a smoke signal depends obviously on where you are. If you are lost or stranded in a wooded area, this method would be useful. Your smoke cloud should be as big as you can make it as you want it to be seen by others and you should also create it as early in the morning as you can. Rescue workers tend to come searching very early in the morning, therefore getting that signal smoke going early, will give you a good chance of being rescued.

When signalling for help, it is quite important to remember the ‘rule of three.’ This is a very traditional way of signalling for help and it lets people from anywhere around the world know from the moment they see your signals that help is needed urgently. So whatever you are doing to alert others that you need help, you should do it in threes. If you are blowing a whistle, blow it in three shorts bursts, then pause and continue again with three short bursts.

Three signal fires will also let people know that there is trouble and that you are just not keeping yourself warm. If you don’t have anything to make a fire with, you can use nature to help you. By contrasting colours, you may be able to alert persons that you need help; building three hills of green leaves on a white sand, this will alert a plane that there is a need for help.

Getting lost or trapped is a very scary thing; knowing how to alert others to your situation may make the different between your demise and your survival.

How to alert others that you need rescuing

Nibiru

Nibiru

Nibiru

Many of us when gazing at the stars have wondered if there is life out there somewhere. It is said that there are more stars in the sky than there are grains of sand on the beach. If that is true, it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine that somewhere out there, that there is life.
Thoughts of alien life plague our minds for the most part, but we never really turn our attention the potential dangers which lurk in the dark, vastness that is space. Here we are on the Planet Earth as it orbits around the sun, going at its steady pace, doing just what it has been doing from the dawn of time. But what happens if something knocks Earth right off of it feet, or to be more precise, its axis!

For years, many have spoken about Nibiru or Planet X, heading right towards us in a spot on collision course! What does this even mean for us? Would such a collision render the end of life on Earth, or the end of Earth itself? When cars or trucks collide, we see the devastating effect that it can have on both vehicles, they become totally wrecked.

Not to mention the persons who are inside of them, sometimes the survival of the passengers is slim to none. Now let’s transfer this effect to two planets, what do you think the result would be, total destruction of Earth and everything on it? If that is your conclusion, I would have to agree with you. An impact of that magnitude would really mean the end of us all.

You may be thinking, why haven’t you heard about this before, how could a Planet be looming towards Earth and you don’t know? Why isn’t this breaking news? This could be because it is just a theory, a theory that many in authority have disputed. It has even been said that those with the knowledge of it, have gone to significant measures to keep it from us, using technology and lies to keep us from knowing the truth. But why would they do that? I believe to keep the world from mass hysteria!

Some of us will believe that Planet collision is just another doomsday conspiracy theory cooked up by lunatics and not take it seriously; others may buy completely into the conspiracy and look to find out as much as they can about it. Whatever your orientation, the information is out there and you have access to it, so why not find out more! In an infinite universe, we never know what may happen, whether the Planet Nibiru knocks us out of kilter or something else completely unknown or random happens; the question is, will you be prepared, well as prepared as you possibly can be for something as cataclysmic as that, or will you be left surprised and unready?

Conspiracy theorists may seem like crazy people until something happens, then they are the only ones who survive as the logical thinkers perish.

Camping as a Vacation

Camping as a Vacation

Camping as a Vacation


We all dream of going on our dream vacation. Of going to somewhere exotic, maybe Hawaii or the south of France. We see ourselves lounging on the beach, sipping mysterious drinks that we can’t pronounce their names, but try to anyways, not even caring that we sound silly. But for many of us, this is just a dream, one which will probably stay in our minds and never materialize.

This is not the case for everyone though; there are some who will make it a reality by saving for years until they can finally get their time in the sun. But what do you do until that time? Do you just lay at home, letting life pass you by, waiting until that fateful day arrives? If you are anything like me, you would find other adventures to live, until you get to live your dream. Life isn’t made up on one grand experience, but rather, it is a combination of many. Therefore it is up to you to have as many experiences as you can.

When envisioning a vacation, many don’t see themselves camping. Camping is deemed more as a weekend activity; a short sojourn that doesn’t take long and can be crammed into two days. This does not have to be the case though, camping does not have to be restricted to two or three days, when done correctly, it can make for a beautiful vacation. I know that the idea of being in the wild for a suspended period may not have the allure of a fancy hotel room; however you should give the idea a chance before you shut it down altogether.

Let’s start by putting the right pictures in your mind; when you replace the ceilings of you hotel room, and replace it with the natural ceiling of stars, you begin to see how wonderful camping can be. Now replace your days laying aimlessly by the pool with vigorous, energizing hikes taking in Mother Nature in all of its glory. Forget your exotic drinks made by bartenders and mixologists and replace them with your own, made fresh with fruits you gathered yourself from around you. I am sure that you are beginning to see just how camping can be as alluring as anywhere else.

When you are in the great outdoors with your loved one, it is you against the world, there are no interruptions, no individual spa treatments, just you and your partner. Nothing at all to tear you away from spending time with each other, can you imagine the intimacy that can be derived from camping?
Though the thought of camping does not appear to be a dream vacation that, does not mean that it isn’t. It is the perspective which you use to view it; when done correctly, camping can be just as great as an expensive trip at a fraction of the cost. The benefits that can be derived by camping as a vacation are numerous and it can be a great way to enjoy your time.

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Adding Comfort to your Camping Experience

Adding Comfort to your Camping Experience

Adding Comfort to your Camping Experience

Camping in the great outdoors; roughing it and living off of the land. Though this sounds great, it is not all of us who can efficiently and effectively get through a camping trip of this nature. There are some of us, who need a little bit more pampering, but that shouldn’t stop us from having a camping experience! Here are a few ways to ‘pimp’ your camping trip, add a little luxury to it if you will. Making your trip more comfortable may not cost you anything, you can use regular household items to create a contemporary setting in the wild.

When we think of camping, we think of sleeping in a tent on the cold, hard earth. Though many of us opt to take sleeping bags, the thought of laying flat is still there. What about adding some flooring to your tent? This is easy, all you have to do is lay some polyurethane squares down, like those you would find in a kindergarten class, or even your child’s room. Not only will it add a splash of colour to your tent, but it will also be kinder to your feet when you walk around in it, no more fears of stepping on a rogue twig!

When camping, you enjoy nature and all that it has to offer. Long walks through the forests, fishing, swimming and even star gazing. What happens when none of these things are available, like cloudy nights? Having some music may help you pass the time away; walking with a blue tooth speaker may be just what you need. Not only can you use it at night, it is also very useful when you are doing mundane things like cooking. The fact that it is portable and in many cases small, means that you can carry it with you wherever you are going, so you need not be bored at any time.

When it comes to taking a shower, most people are unsure of how to go about it.  Washing yourself in a river may not be the way that you would like to go, as you can’t use any soap; even if it is biodegradable. Having a shower tent is a great way to still enjoy a relaxing shower when you are camping; this isn’t something that can be found at home, but by spending a bit more, you will be able to enjoy refreshing showers.

Walking with your deck furniture is also another great idea when it comes to creating comfort while camping. Imagine afternoons spent lounging in the setting sun, listening to music via your Bluetooth speaker. It truly sounds like the best of both worlds; taking as many luxury items from your home as you can, can make a difference with regards to your overall camping experience. Who ever said that you had to leave the world behind’? After all, it is your trip and you can make it into whatever you want it to be!

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E. Coli The Superbug

E. Coli The Superbug

E. Coli The Superbug

Quite often, when we hear the term ‘super,’ we think of super heroes, some brave stranger saving the day, carrying us away from any distress or danger. Though this word usually connotes grandeur and positivity, you must note that this may not always be the case, sometimes it can mean just the opposite. When paired with the word ‘bug’ super becomes a word that you would rather not hear or even think about; it becomes scary in fact, for me it signifies the presence other not so nice words, like containment and epidemic!

I know it is hard for us to understand the concept of modern day medicine being unable to help or cure us when we are ill; there are, after all a myriad of drugs that are available to us. In this century when there are so many scientific and technological advances, we tend to believe that anything can be cured or at least helped in some way. But sometimes, this just isn’t the case, sometimes there are strains of viruses that are so resistant to our modern day medicine, we could as well be back in the stone ages.

The Escherichia coli super bug, better known as the E. Coli superbug is one such affliction that would cause us to question our advances. This antibiotic resistant strain, can be very life threatening, decreasing the chances of survival in its host. As you may be aware, urinary track infections are most likely caused by E. Coli, it may infect any of the following parts or the urinary system singularly or it may even attack all of them at once; these parts include the kidneys, bladder, ureters and the urethra. The effects of this can be seen if there is need for regular urination or even burning sensations when passing water, all of which should be treated with immediate effect. Normally this type of infection is easy to treat with doctors usually prescribing antibiotics. However, this is not the case when you are infected with the resilient strain of the bug, put quite simply, the antibiotics will not work; not even the most powerful type of antibiotics will increase your chances of survival, knowing this fact alone is quite frightening.

With no cure, researchers are tasked with the responsibility of creating one. But with all things, this will take time, before you can create a cure, you must study it, this is time consuming, even if scientists work around the clock; so what happens in the mean time? I would put my money on containment, it sounds harsh, I know, but it is the safest way to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread. The last thing that anyone would want is for there to be a pervasive outbreak of an illness that has no cure. It seems that this new strain of E. Coli has evolved, or mutated to the point where its resistance cannot be challenged, that is, for the moment. If it is allowed to spread it threatens the survival of us all!

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