Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hang Gliding

I’d been given a hang gliding gift voucher for my 40th birthday. So with the warmer months coming on I thought it was time to put it to good use. I was booked in for last Saturday @ Bald Hill, Stanwell Tops.

As it turned out the weather wasn’t too good. It was an overcast sort of day, but from an experts point of view the wind conditions were ideal, about 15km/h out of the SW. I met my tandem partner in the carpark where we went over all the usual safety stuff and some pre-start tips and checks. Being use to wearing a harness I thought putting on the required outfit would be simply, sure it’s a harness, but it has a tail, a pouch and array of other compartments which all make you feel a bit strange.

We were soon all hooked up. Then left, right, left, right faster faster, we were running towards the end and with no effort we were airborne. After a few in-flight adjustments and some running commentary from my tandem instructor we started to take in the grandness of the moment. For something so simple it so easily gave the feeling that you could fly. We made a few passes of the family back on the ground before we climbed to heights where the people on the ground were only the size of pin-pricks.

My instructor (Tony) gave me some basic instruction and then said, “its all yours” and presto I was flying the hang-glider, which I must say is basically a shifting of weight to which the glider responds. We made some back and forth passes over the top of Bald Hill before slowly descending to Stanwell Park beach. A smooth landing and I was back on terrafirma. A half hour tandem flight was gone in 60 seconds.

I thanked my tandem instructor for the experience and ticked another thing off the list of “things to try before you die”.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

SES 4WD Package

On the weekend just gone I was fortunate enough to couple 2 of my passions, 4WDriving and SES when I attended a 4WD trainers endorsement workshop. Approx’ 15 SES members from all over Sydney attended the 2-day weekend workshop, which was held in bushland around Menai.

The workshop was a rollout of the new SES 4WD operations package to new and current trainers. After a short theory session we took our vehicles into the bush where all facets of the package and training techniques were undertaken.

All participants took turns in being the ‘trainer and candidate’ while continually becoming more familiar with the ability of their vehicles. Various driving techniques included off-camber and undulating rugged terrain along with sessions on stall recoveries, water crossings and some winch operations.

After much practice with the emphasis on wheel placement and speed the weekend culminated with a trainer and assessor assessment where all participants were deemed competent.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Camp Quality Convoy

Last Sunday was the 3rd annual Camp Quality Convoy hosted by a local radio station here in the Illawarra. The convoy is a truck and bike parade all about raising funds for Camp Quality (kids with cancer).

I took my kids down to a vantage point on Master Rd where we were surprised to see upwards of two hundred other people, just at this one point all wanting to do the same thing. The convoy which starts at West Cliff colliery at Appin snakes its way down to Stocklands in Shellharbour. As the first of 200 motorbikes rumbled past us the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, the crowd cheered and clamped, horns were tooted and a sense of awe swept over the place. It wasn't till the trucks arrived at our location did we realise how big this convoy had become. 500 trucks from all over the region took part this year, with the lead truck donating some $20,600 for the privilege.

50 minutes after the first truck went past us the final truck completed the convoy. My kids had ball, the kids in the trucks had ball, the noise of 500 air horns was deafening but it was all for a great cause, with nearly $180,000 raised on the day. I look forward to next year.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Yerriyong 4WDriving

Last Sunday I had a day out 4x4ing in the Yerriyong State Forest, near Wandandian. The day was an exploratory day where I hoped to find some new and exciting trails that I could bring future trips. I gave an open invitation to anyone at SES to attend and whilst most had other plans a couple of other trucks tagged along.

We left the bitumen at Nowra and headed out towards Tianjara Falls, just before there we turned onto the 12 mile trail. This took us out to George Boyd lookout where of course I had to bag a cache and took in the cool views. From here we dropped off the range and headed down towards the highway. Just prior to making it out to the highway we turned onto Vandean Fire trail. Along here we had a few false starts all in the name of exploring, once we turned back as the track deterioated that bad that should we have to return via this trail some trucks wouldnt have made it back up.

Lunch was had at a great little bush camping spot. S35 07.416 E150 24.671 We then continued our off-road fun but on more than one occasion we were turned around by trails that looked to be going places only end at dead ends. One particular track provided its own fun when a fallen tree stopped our progress for some time. The result here was tree=1 vehicle=0.

Further down the track we were once again stopped, this time by mechanical failure. I'd snapped a CV joint and thus had to remove the shattered CV. An hour later we back on the road again and heading along Hawthorn rd and Wandean rd in search of more trails. Eventually we popped back out on Turpentine rd via Cassia Rd. With the day drawing to a close we headed back towards Nowra stopping to have a look at an old plane wreck site.

The day wouldn't have been complete without one more cache just outside Nowra. Thanks to the others who tagged along making the day enjoyable.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Family holiday

We've just returned from a week long holiday on the Gold Coast. We had booked a vacation for back in April but due to other family matters the week had to be postponed until now.

We stayed at the Crown Towers resort which offers fully self contained apartments. We had a 2 bedroom apartment which I must say was the size of a small house, we had plenty room for all, 2 balconys, ensuite and kids retreat. Our apartment was on the 13th floor overlooking the adrenilin park. This provide hours and hours of fun for us as we continually watched people put themselves throught these negative 'G' rides, only to see us do it on our last day.

One of our days was spent at Dreamworld where both kids and Mum & Dad had a great time. The day was aimed for the kids so we spent most of our time around Wiggle World and the smaller rides. Both kids had their photo taken with their favourite TV characters - Dora and Wags.

Plenty of time was spent at one of 3 pools the resort had. If the weather was a little inclement we took in the heated pool but most days we were around the beach pool.

Of course what would a week away be without some caching but I'll leave that for another thread.

We managed to catch up with family on more than one ocassion, along with a periodical visit to our QLD property. Our relaxing week was finished off with a slow trip home stopping with family for a few days and then a break at Taree.

Regretably all holidays must come to an end and unfortunately its back to work tommorrow.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Willowglen 4x4 Comp

On the October long weekend the TLCC (Toyota Landcruiser 4x4 club) will be hosting its annual Willowglen 4x4 competition. The ‘Willowglen’ event is located SE of Tarago which some 40 minutes south of Goulburn, NSW.

Our club, the Well Sprung 4x4 Club will be entering a team in this years competition, so we look forward to seeing everyone there.

More info on the actual event can be found at TLCC Willowglen Comp

I just spent Sunday (30th Sept) down at the TLCC Willowglen property and apart from the gale force winds which made eating dust inevitable, it was a top day. I took master Ethan to his first 4WD event and he seemed to love it. He continually told Dad about this Brrrm and that brrrrm.... You've got to love em'.

This was the first time I've attended the event where I've had to view it as a spectactor. In the past I've been fortunate to be a competitor, maybe next year I can reverse that role.

The driving stages that I seen looked very challenging with tight twisting tracks and demanding climbs. The improved scoring seem fairer for all. Finally congratulations to B1 & B2 who took out 1st place and to the guys from my club, well done.
Edited 8.00pm 1/10/07