Thursday, July 28, 2016

A weekend in Sydney

Its always nice to have a night away with the family, when the opportunity arises we love taking the kids to the “big smoke” (Sydney). There’s something about the towering buildings, the pace and hype of the place coupled with a night staying in the heart of town that has us all buzzing.

Bagging a good accommodation deal we headed to the city for a midweek stay. Under sun filled skies our first stop on our winter solace was an upmarket car yard where Ethan was super keen to check out all the exotic brands that he’s come to love all because of his PlayStation games. Cautiously we entered the showroom where most of the cars would have cost me a year’s wages thinking that we’d be soon ushered to the exit saying rubberneckers weren’t welcome but to our surprise they were happy show Ethan and I around, even offering him a dealer’s cap for showing an interest. WE mingled amongst such brands as Porsche, Ferrari, McLaren and Lamborghini for almost an hour. Needless to say by the time we left Ethan was on cloud-nine and the adventure to the city was a huge success.

Checking into our motel we were pleased with our great views across Darling Harbour and the ever beautiful skyline. Our next adventure saw us walking around the harbour taking in the rays of sunshine as they set across the buildings. This part of Sydney with its amazing watercraft and countless eateries is a mecca for tourists like us. Our adventure didn’t stop there as we’d promised Sam her favourite city meal “Pancakes on the Rocks”. Gorging ourselves on a yummy dinner we headed back to the streets again in an attempt to walk off our meal while taking in the city lights.

 The next morning we awoke to the pita pater of rain and plenty of it. The city was such a contrast from yesterday. People bustled from shelter to shelter or the well organised strode to work under their umbrellas. The waterfront was lifeless except for the occasional water taxi. Fog blanketed the tops of the skyscrapers but that didn’t stop us. We took to the streets and soon found ourselves wandering around Paddy’s Markets picking up a few bargains. By lunchtime we’d seen all we wanted so with the rain persisting we decided to head for home, knowing we’d had a great family adventure in the city.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

20 Years of Navshield

When I first joined the SES I recall some guys asking me to compete in a 2 day rogaining event specifically for Emergency Services, at the time I didn’t take up their offer but loved hearing of the their adventure the following week.

A year later and at a different SES Unit I once again had an opportunity to participate in what’s called Navshield and this time I jumped at the chance. The year was 1996 and I recall went to the Blue Mountains, to area called the Blue Labyrinth where over 2 days we hiked to various checkpoints in the bush (mostly off-track) in attempt to gain the highest points score. By the end of the weekend I was sore and scratched but I was hooked.

Now it’s 2016 and I’ve just competed in my 20th Navshield event. It’s something I’m very proud to achieve and something that I look forward to each year. I’ve only missed one year since I started and I think that was due to the birth of our son.

Those 20 appearances have been filled with so many highs and a few lows as I reflect. Considering we would average 25-30km walking in a 1-day event or 40-50km in a 2-day event I’ve covered a lot of bushland and seen some amazing country. On 5 consecutive occasions we won the SES category, I’ve placed 5th outright in the leading class of the 2-day event, I’ve placed 3rd outright in the leading class of the 1-day event and then in my 20th year when some would say “I should be slowing down” we won the class 2 category. Couple those achievements with the countless team members I have hopefully shared my skills and knowledge upon.

Each year the stories of past events are told over and over again to unsuspecting newbies, like the time we walked in the snow or walked in the torrential rain for 8 hrs straight or stealthily hid in the bushes to avoid other teams or did the event without sleeping or camped under the tension power lines only to joke in the morning that glowed from the radiation given off by the lines and so the tales get bigger and bigger, but one thing is for certain – I’ve loved my 20 years of participation at Navshield.