Not Quite Alone in the Wilderness

I faced a week of enforced bachelorhood anyway (as Della is craftily away) so I decided to take the pups for a week’s walk…Four hour’s driving later including a couple on bumpy 4WD tracks we gazed up a river somewhere, wondering…

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Who knows what wonders lie around the river’s bend? Delightfully there are a number of Victorian wilderness rivers whose entire catchment has only one (or NO) vehicular access point eg the Wellington, Avon, Moroka (none of which THIS is…)

A rare shallow crossing but still a trick getting two JRs and myself across. Tiny fits in my daypack worn backwards on my chest. Spot has perfected his trick of standing on my shoulders. Away we go:

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A few hours’ later we are at one of my old camps:

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Against late arrival I always leave a cache of firewood at my campsites.

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My first Tyvek bivi design provides luxury accommodation for 2-3 at least. It clearly has the JR’s tick of approval. It is a triangle with base 32’ and height 10’ (the roll width). Pitched thus it forms a triangular shelter approx 8’ deep and 16’ on a side. The two ‘wings’ can be swung inwards to provide more shelter from rain (or smoke) if the wind shifts. I have spent at least 100 dry nights camping thus.

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Side view: I like an open shelter, because you have a greater sense of freedom, a better view, and access to the warmth of a cheery fire.

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Like this: It’s great to be putting my feet up at day’s end.

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The modified 200 gram dog beds worked a treat down to 0 C

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Tiny agrees. I have ordered materials to make the dogs new beds at approx 100 grams each. I will post the design when they are done. They would scale up for larger dogs, though why you need larger I cannot imagine…

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Spot actually prefers my sleeping bag.

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Tiny agrees.

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Perhaps both could fit?

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Next morning, how’s this for a kitchen sink?

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There are so many beautiful side streams to explore. Another time for this one which rises many miles away…

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Forest ‘renewal’. The bush is slowly recovering from the wildfires nearly a decade ago now…

Of course it is Spring. The bush is alive with wildflowers. The dreadful prickly Hakea is ablaze with colour. There are always Erica festooned with tiny bells. Many wattle species yet shed their gold along the river…

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Traveller’s Joy lies ever beneath my feet.

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Everywhere clematis clads with snow plants it holds in wild embrace.

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The road goes ever on and on…

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Secret pioneer pack tracks provide access yet to many wild places.

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So much work went into their construction. So much work (by me) too went into (re)discovering them and clearing them twice or three times over the last 10-15 years. This one is nearly 30 km long! Here the Gerber Brush Thinner machete ( is an excellent tool. Of course where I led others certainly have followed, but when I first ventured here, no-one had journeyed along this river for many years. There were thickets hundreds of yards long along the river not even deer could force their way through. Deer were as tame as sheep. Fortunately the deer have worked alongside me, keeping the path largely open.

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Another day over, Tiny remembers this is a fine place for a camp.

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Herbivores are wonderful. They maintain so many beautiful park-like clearings along the river flats.

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The birds are slowly returning: pallid cuckoo. I tried and tried to get more bird photos, but they are so quick. There are now many warblers, sitellas, wrens, honeyeaters, kingfishers, parrots… By day along the river there is much wondrous birdsong, but yet nowhere near the cacophony of old. The evening chorus is muted yet…

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There is beauty everywhere: afternoon white ant flight.

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The trout agree they are beautiful as they hunt them down…

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Here too there be dragons…

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Very warm weather arriving and forecast to continue, worsen even, I decided we might canoe out:

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Faux packraft cache, complete with an Aerovest for emergency life jacket and two paddles:

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Ready to set sail. Duct tape is SO versatile. You can also use polystyrene balls for tie outs.

Unfortunately we didn’t get far. Two dogs and a heavy(ish) pack meant that this wasn’t going to be much fun for the dogs, particularly Tiny. One dog is one thing, two quite another. Tiny at 15 ½ is getting a little beyond some of these trips. My intended morning and evening hunts were much curtailed by her indeterminacy. She just could not decide whether to stay in camp or follow, and being partially sighted and deaf, it was quite uncertain whether she would find me if she set out later. I had to be sure to return along exactly the same route, could not cross the river in case I lost her & etc. I guess this must be nearing her last long wilderness trip. Bittersweet. Her balance in a canoe is not what it was either, so that after a couple of spills which she didn’t enjoy, I backtracked, repacked the raft and decided to hike out again

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Drying out: a little warmth from last night’s fire yet lingers.

I had ‘picked’ a poor time for a hunt (though a good time for a walk). The Spring growth, the warm weather, the full moon all meant that the deer were very seldom down along the river during daylight hours (much moreso in winter when feed is scarcer). Of course they can see excellently in moonlight. Every night they visited us in our camps, honking constantly to keep us wake. I could have shot a number of fine stags by torchlight. I’m sure others would have. Who, but for conscience is to know?

Tiny is such a grub: she loves a wallow, and needed a good wash (which she resented) in the river every time after we passed one.

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The bone reminds me: Steve once shot a deer for me right here. It lay here just like this:

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I can just about picture it in my mind’s eye:

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And he shot a lovely stag just for me just around that bend past those leaning trees. Ah, memories…

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There remain other mementoes of past hunts.

Perhaps after all though they look better here than on the wall?

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Some Other Hunting Related Posts (there are many more):







Hiking Gear:












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