Monday, November 30, 2020

Bikepacking, the Australian canoe.

 This blog has been pretty dormant for a long time for a variety of reasons, work, family and so forth.    I've also been pursuing other interests such as bikepacking which is a great way to venture out into nature.  Bikepacking also requires a minimalist approach to camping, just bringing what you need and keeping it light.  You also need to be self-sufficient as the bike allows you to really get out into the heart of the wilderness.   Knowing some bushcraft skills is also obviously beneficial as well as is some basic mechanic skills to keep you rolling.

I found that my bushcraft kit for hiking and motorcycle trips also works well for bikepacking.  For a sleeping system I use a tarp and a Mesh Hood Sleeping Cover bag both purchased from Terra Rosa gear.  There are some posts from many years ago that highlight the Terra Rosa tarp, and yes it's still going strong.   It does suggest that if you buy quality equipment you save in the long run as you benefit from a thoughtful design based on real world use, superior materials, and attention to detail in the construction.   Anyway, I'll show the set up another day.

I guess COVID has also made 2021 an interesting year.  I, like many people have had to work from home.  I was fortunate as this was an option for me.  The silver lining is that without my daily commute I have a few extra hours each day to explore my local surroundings which includes remnant forest.  I have discovered some amazing ecosystems, which goes to show the resilience of nature: I live in an urban environment.

Being confined at home during the initial lockdown, sent me adventuring on the internet where I lived vicariously through the lens of other people's experiences.  Paul Kirtley, the UK Bushcraft guru had some excellent content on Youtube, I highly recommend his channel.  Yes, the focus is the Northern hemisphere and his love is the boreal forest however; there's still a lot of pertinent information to be found.  I must say I'd love to venture into Northern Europe to experience the wilderness. along with the northern lights.

What I found absolutely engrossing was Paul's recent canoe trip along the Berens River in Canada.  

Over 4 hours of content documenting Kirtley's solo trip.  It reminded me of my desire to explore the world of wilderness canoeing in Australia.  I came close to buying a We no nah prospector canoe a few years ago.  I wish I had as the price has doubled since I last looked.   I can definitely see a canoe in my future.

For the time being, I think I'll continue to explore the world of bike-packing and its intersection with bushcraft.  Australia's obviously a pretty dry place and whilst we do have some great rivers, it's not exactly on par with Minnesota or Canada.  I dare say Tasmania could be?  So bike packing in my mind probably provides the closest thing to solo wilderness canoeing adventure.  It's a near silent form of travel, your progress is determined by your own effort,and there are sections where a bike portage is required (carry your bike up, over and around unrideable sections).  Australia is also blessed with some fantastic wilderness to explore by bicycle such as the NSW and Victorian high country, the Tasmania trail, Mawson trail in South Australia, Laprinta region of the Northern Territory and the Munda trail in Western Australia.  

Friday, November 27, 2020


 As you would have deduced from my last post, I upgraded my day pack.  As I was moving my essential day hiking equipment across to the pack I thought I should go through my first aid kit.  It was a good thing that I did as my emergency supply of pain killers was out of date, some of the bandages were worst for wear, the safety pins were rusted and the suncreen tube was empty.  

So I went to the chemist to buy some replacements. I noticed a  dedicated snake bite bandage for pressure immobilisation which has an indicator to show the correct tension required.  I ended up buying the bandage as I thought it could be used for a variety of emergency situations.  I've been fortunate over my life, I've stepped on a snake on two occasions and avoided being bitten.  Both times the snake (copperhead) appeared as shocked as I was and we darted off in different directions.  I should point out that the incidents occurred whilst working on a farm, moving livestock to another paddock.  I always hate that feeling after sighting a snake, it makes me so hyper-alert for the rest of the day (not necessarily a bad thing).  Perhaps New Zealands absence of snakes is why I like hiking there so much?

Here's an interesting statistic, the actual number of people who die each year from snakebite is pretty low, according to wikipedia around 28 deaths in Australia over the last decade.  In 2019, there were 1415 deaths as a result of Melanoma, so I'd say carrying a tube of sunscreen is perhaps more of an essential item than a snake bandage.  A broadbrim hat and longsleeved shirt are also high on my list for summer outings as is plenty of water and a water filter.