Google+ The Norris Files: December 2010


New Years Eve 2010

New Years Eve 2101

One Fine Day.

Today was one of the rare fine days we have had in recent weeks so I took the opportunity to get out of the house. I hadn't planned anything but at the last minute decided to do a day trip over to Coochiemudlo Island.

I took the car over on the barge and then after grabbing some lunch I walked along the beach for about half of the Island. Then, on the mostly crowd free south-western part of the Island I set up my deck chair and esky in the shade and cooled down in the beautiful south easterly breeze with a book.

Only one other car on the barge for the return trip back to Victoria Point. I ended up getting home around 4:30pm. A relaxing day and a nice change of pace but especially good to get out of the house after weeks/months of injury/bad weather that has kept me housebound.

2011 Gear Wish List.

I have been thinking that 2011 may be the year to bite the bullet and get all the gear that I have been promising myself. I do like new gear so I suspect that I will always be eying of some new piece of kit however, I think these are the big ticket items that if I had the money I would purchase right now. Its an expensive list but I will see what happens during the year.

1)Mirage 580 Kayak - Kevlar optioned, expedition ready with electric bilge pump and charger, compass, backrest and seat pad, carry toggles and transport to Brisbane -around $3600 -Purchased 28/10/11 $3557.50

2)PFD, spray shirt, cockpit cover, hand bilge pump, paddle with drip rings, paddle leash - around $800 - Purchased $658.00 28/10/11

3)Stumpjumper FSR Elite with Brain suspension 2011 model - around $4300 - Purchased Specialized 2013 Camber 29er 19/12/12

4)GPS mount and holder for touring bike - around $200 - Purchased 8/2/11 from Johnny Appleseed - Ram mount and holder $55.00.

5)Light weight hiking tent Tarptent Scarpa 2 - around $350 - Purchased 14/01/11 -I ended up with an impulse buy because the tent was reduced in price. It is a Big Agnes Seedhouse 2 Superlight. With footprint and shipping from USA it cost $371.42USD, $383.91AUS from I wasn't completely sold on the Scarpa 2 and the Big Agnes keeps cropping up in reviews as a decent tent and the price was alright so time will tell if it is a good purchase. It should save around 1kg in packweight which is considerable..

6)Bicycle touring tent - Hillberg Kaitum GT - around $900.00 - I have had a bit of a re-think on this tent. $900.00 is alot of money for a tent that will only get used on cycling tours so at this stage I am going to trial probably my North Face Road Runner 2 on my cycle trip to the Outer Hebrides in May 2011 and see how it handles the conditions. If it doesn't meet the standard then I will reconsider the Hillberg

7)Trangia stove - around $140.00 - Purchased 4/1/11 online from Main Peak I ended up getting the Trangia 27-1 Hard Anodized version $187.00

8)Light weight hiking/trail running shoes - La Sportiva Fireblades - around $160 - Purchased 2/1/11, the Fireblades are obsolete and have been completely redesigned and renamed the Lynx -$161.10 at K2 Basecamp

9)Garmin Australia/New Zealand TOPO V3 - $229 - Purchased 8/2/11 from Johnny Appleseed $199

10)Lights for touring bike front/rear - fairly basic - around ?? $300.00 - Purchased May 2011 - fairly basic, cheap set from Epic Cycles

11)Gaiters for this coming Australian autumn/winter hiking - around $80.00? - Purchased Sea to Summit Quagmires early 2012

12)Mountain bike touring shoes SPD compatible, not sure which model around $200 - I am going to give this item a miss for the time being. I'm not sure clip-less are for me yet

13)New bike helmet - around $116.00? - Purchased Giro Athlon December 2012

14)Explore the options for riding/sport sunglasses with compatible optical lenses -around $450

15) GPS/Heart rate monitor for training - around $400 - Purchased Garmin Forerunner 405csx 15/06/11 on eBay for $298

16) GoPro HD camera - around $400 (undecided about the benefits/usage of this yet - For the moment I have pretty much decided I do not want this item

17) MSR MiniWorks Ex Micro Water Filter - around $200 - no trips I have planned requite this at the moment so I do not have a need to purchase it

18) Two extra camera batteries for Panasonic LX-5 - Purchased 06/02/11 online from Digital Camera Warehouse $205.00 including delivery for two

19) Light weight water canteens/bottles - Purchased 27/01/11. I ended up with a 1 litre soft sided collapsible Platypus squeeze bottle $22.99 from Paddy Pallin and two Nalgene 1 litre soft sided collapsible wide mouth canteens from K2 Base Camp $23.95 each

20) Ortlieb large rack bag as my medium size one isn't large enough for my tent/sleeping bag and pad etc. Purchased from The Touring Store 22/02/11 -$80.00USD plus delivery - not sure of the Australian dollar conversion yet.

21) Cycling specific rain jacket - maybe the Ground Effect Stormtrooper $249NZ - Purchased 17/04/11 from Ground Effects

22) Exped chair converter for down mattress - I am heading more towards  light weight hiking so that would rule this item out however, I would consider purchasing this if I have planned a lengthy cycle touring trip

There are a few other odds and ends that I will need on specific trips but this list includes all the high cost items. Other gear in particular my current tendency towards lighter weight clothing in particular wet weather gear will have to wait as I am determined to wear out the gear I already own before replacing it.

Now that I have formalised the list I realise that I will not be purchasing all these items next year as my budget just doesn't allow for it. The kayak and gear I consider a certainty, the bike and tents can wait and the other gear I will pick up as I need. I originally hoped I could buy the kayak this summer but at this point I think a winter purchase ready for next summer is the best option for my finances. This will hopefully give me time to save and allow me to pick up the less expensive items that will complete my cycle touring/hiking kits barring the purchase of the two extra tents to my current Northface Road Runner 23.

New Zealand Gillespie Pass Hike; Holidays Confirmed

Work has approved my holidays for the 21/03/11 - 27/03/11 so all I need now is for my rosetred days of work around these dates to be approved and it will be all systems go. I still haven't confirmed if I will be flying into Christchurch or Queenstown but that can wait until I have my rostered days off confirmed.

Darling Downs Tour; Torrential Rain!!

Well, my rostered days off have come around again and it appears that this ride will not happen this week. A week of torrential rain and more forecast to come over the following days paints a bleak picture with minimal chance that this ride will happen this year. There may be a small window of opportunity for somewhat finer weather this Thursday, Friday and Saturday but that positions the trip during New Years Eve and New Years Day which would almost certainly rule out any vacancies at the campsites I intend overnighting at. So, at this stage the Darling Downs Tour will be in 2011, somewhere around 29th-31st January depending on our "beautiful" Queensland weather.

New Zealand Gillespie Pass Hike; Prelim Planning

I need to start planning next years trip to New Zealand so I can apply for holiday leave, organise work rosters and book flights. Getting flights in and out of Queenstown on my preferred days has been difficult with either no flights scheduled on the desired day or a combination of two flights spread over two days to travel to Queenstown.

I may have finally sorted out an itinerary that works so depending on holiday leave and rostering approval the trip hopefully will pan out as follows;

Photo courtesy

Sunday 20/03/11

*Fly out Brisbane 08:25am
*Arrive Queenstown 02:55pm
*Hire car or shuttle to Wanaka
*Stay the night at Wanaka somewhere

Monday 21/03/11

*Start Gillespie Pass walk to Young Hut (7-9hrs depending on Makarora River height)
*Overnight at Young Hut (camp near hut)

Tuesday 22/03/11

*Young Hut to Siberia Hut (6-8hrs)
*Overnight at Siberia Hut (camp near hut)

Wednesday 23/03/11

*Side trip to Crucible Lake and return to Siberia Hit (8hrs return)
*Camp again at Siberia Hut

Thursday 24/03/11

*Siberia Hut to Top Forks Hut (8-10hrs)
*Option to overnight at Kerin Forks Hut (?? 4hrs from Siberia)
*Or if it is a bit much to get to Top Forks Hut free camp along Jumboland Flat

Friday 25/03/11

*Side trip Top Forks Hut to Lucidius Lake or Lake Castalia (4-8hrs return)
*Overnight at Top Forks Hut

Saturday 26/03/11
*Option to walk from Top Forks to Rabbits Pass Waterfall (6-8hrs return)
*Overnight at Top Forks Hut or;
*If not walking up to waterfall face then return to Kerin Forks Hut (6-8hrs)

Sunday 27/03/11

*Either walking from Top Forks Hut to Kerin Forks Hut (6-8hrs) or;
*Kerin Forks Hut back to Makarora and the car (5-8hrs)
*Either overnighting at Kerin Forks Hut or in Wanaka

Monday 28/03/11
*Kerin Forks Hut back to Makarora and the car (5-8hrs)or;
*Free day in Wanaka

Tuesday 29/03/11
*Drive or shuttle back to Queenstown and fly out to Brisbane
*Two flights home will be required departing Queenstown to Brisbane via Auckland at 12:20pm arriving Brisbane 4:50pm

Darling Downs Tour; More Delays

I'm not sure this ride is ever going to happen the way things have been going. Thirty two degree heat, afternoon thunderstorms, general slackness and the lack of motivation to pack have stopped me this time. At least I have assembled the Nomad as it has been sitting in the bike bag since I packed it for the cancelled bike ride on the Mawson Trail.

I think the key for me is to have as much as possible packed and ready to go during the days I am at work leading to up to my rostered days off. That way it will just be a case of throwing the gear in the car and leaving. I have developed a distaste for packing and use it regularly as a excuse not to get away. No more excuses I say. Having said that this ride will definitely be my last longer ride for some time as the QLD heat and humidity is starting to bite. Probably by mid March I will have to kick up the kilometres and iron out any set up kinks for the Outer Hebrides trip in May/June 2011. At this stage I am pencilling in the 28th, 29th, 30th December as the days for the Darling Downs Tour.

Afternoon Storm

Ground Effect Tardis Bike Bag

I bought this bike bag a few months ago but haven't used it in anger as I had to postpone the Mawson Trail trip. The Tardis is a soft shell bag that folds down to around an A4 size when not in use. Your bike wheels are packed on either side of the bag and held in loosely by inbuilt sleeves while the hub and front axle positions on the bike wheels are somewhat protected with some padding to these parts of the bag.
Hardened plastic axle spacers come as standard with the bag in addition to an inner pocket which stores your dismantled pedals. The bag comes with an over the shoulder strap that allows it to be carried in that manner even if somewhat awkwardly considering the weight. I purchased the bag from NZ through Ground Effects at a cost of around $130 NZ. P1000065
The photos show the bike packed for the flight down to South Australia for the cancelled Mawson Trail trip. The Tardis does not have much in the way of integrated padding so as seen in the photos I have fairly heavily protected the frame and wheel areas.
The pictures don't show it as I hadn't finished packing but around the bike frame clothes, panniers, camping equipment etc, will be packed to add further protection.

I won't really be able to judge the pro's and con's of the bag until I head to the Outer Hebrides next year as I have no bike trips planned that involve air travel until then.
However its immediately obvious that you wouldn't want to carry the bag very far but that is more related to the bikes weight than the bag itself. The limited amount of padding is an issue but this can be overcome by padding the frame as I have done.
However,this creates the problem of what to do with the padding when you arrive at your destination as the Tardis alone folds down to the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Also, I think the bag needs a bike symbol stenciled onto the outside of the bag in the hope that the baggage handlers might notice and take some extra care. Otherwise, I think the Tardis is a pretty cool piece of gear but the real test will come when I fly overseas with it.

Organising Myself!

Its not only work, health and the never ending rain that has put a dent in my trips on days off work lately but my lack of planning. I wish I could wake up of a morning and just head off but that doesn't seem to work for me. So, with that in mind here are my ideas for the next three groups of days I am rostered off work.

1) Darling Downs Tour 15th, 16th, 17th December.

2) Maroochy River Trail 29th and 30th December.

3) Road Trip ?? Bunya 11th to 14th January.

Mirage Sea Kayak

After a few years of indecision and confusion I think I am closer to deciding on which kayak to purchase. I have waged a war in my head about the merits of sit on top kayaks versus sit in kayaks, primary and secondary stability and plastic versus fiberglass hulls.

Then, I read a review of the Australian made Mirage Kayaks on their website which described the Mirage 19 as a stable workhorse, exactly what I have been looking for. Additionally, they appear to have good balance between primary and secondary stability, a largish cockpit and they are regarded as a relatively fast boat that are suitable for expeditions having crossed Bass Strait numerous times.

They appear to suit my requirements and even better I only really need to decide between two boats, either the Mirage 19 or the Mirage 580. I think this will be a next winter purchase so I still have some time to do more research and finalise the options I need. Unless something hugely negative comes up relating to these kayaks I don't plan on confusing myself any longer by looking at any other manufacturers. Roll on next winter!

Darling Downs Tour; Delayed Again!

Its starting to sound a bit like a broken record but this ride has been delayed again. After eight fine days while I have been at work rain has developed again now that I am on days off. This seems to be the pattern for me recently. While the weather may be a bit on the nose the truth is I was struggling to fit this trip into my days off as I am kayaking the Maroochy River Trail on Saturday and have to pick the kayak up on Friday evening.

This would mean that I was going to struggle to fit in three days on the Darling Downs Tour and still have time to get back to Brisbane to pick up the kayak. I briefly thought about cutting the tour back to two days but that seemed to be defeating the purpose and would mean missing out on an area of the tour that I really wanted to see. So, fingers crossed, this ride will now take place on the 14th,15th and 16th December.