Where Am I?

Wilderness Navigation

Finding your way using Map, Compass, Altimeter and GPS

By Bob and Mike Burns

Book

Navigation has to be one of the most important things to learn and understand before exploring the outdoors. Living in an age where technology rules everything I think it is far to easy to get lazy and rely solely on electronic equipment such as phones and GPS’s when heading into the bush.

When it came time for myself to further develop my navigational skills past the point of just reading North, South, East and West on a compass I carried out some research which lead me to the book; Wilderness Navigation by Bob and Mike Burns. This book had a lot of positive reviews and after reading it for myself would have to agree. It has a lot of valuable info on equipment, topographical map types, co-ordinate systems and more. One of the great parts of this book are the map reading exercises near the end which get you to practice reading terrain and finding where you are using what you have just read and learnt.  Having interactive examples really helps retain the information and it turns it from theoretical info into practical tools.

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“Father-and-son team Bob Burns and Mike Burns, have decades of professional experience teaching navigation, map and compass, and GPS skills through The Mountaineers and other outdoor education centres.”

Contents of the book

  1. Map Basics
  2. Compass Basics
  3. Orientation with Map and Compass
  4. Navigation with Map and Compass
  5. Lost!
  6. More about Maps
  7. More about Compass and Geomagnetism
  8. The Altimeter
  9. The Global Positioning System
  10. Wilderness Route Finding

This book is an invaluable tool for anyone heading out into the bush, and I would recommend it as a strong starting point in the journey of Wilderness Navigation.

Thanks for reading

Mat

High Range Outdoors SR20V2

 

“The SR20 is well suited to a range of uses from a day pack to assault pack, lightweight overnighter to a bushcraft workhorse” High Range Outdoors.

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Standard pack, perfect as a daypack

High range outdoors is an Australian Company making quality, tested well thought out equipment. Jump on their website to have a look at some of there other gear. Another point to make is their customer service being second to none. When I had questions about the SR20V2 prior to purchase they rang me on more than one occasion to discuss what I was after and ensure I was getting exactly what I wanted installing me in great confidence about what they made and what they were about.

 

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Comfortable Straps, utilises an internal plastic sheet frame

Some of its features:

Hard wearing 500D Cordura Milspec

Molle webbing on sides and front

Adjustable shoulder straps

Full-length side sleeve pockets

Internal hydration sleeve

Double layer base

Removable compression straps

Bottom attachment loops

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Roll top closure

With all that molle the customising possibilities are endless. I originally purchased two additional side pouches for more carrying capacity and can easily hold 1L canteens with nesting cups plus extra gear. Recently adding 2 of the Quick pouch cargo 8 DP’s to my arsenal for even more carrying capacity during the colder months. These pouches have a quick clip system and can be speedily detached in the field and turned into a small daypack for scouting around camp. Utilising either of these pouch setups or a combination of both allow for many different carrying systems/volumes catering to many different carrying scenarios. Or just use the pack solely on its own as a daypack!

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SR20V2 with side pouches fitted. Note these are not the Quick pouch cargo 8 DP’s

To say I am happy with my SR20V2 is an understatement. It is great to see some Australian made equipment that is well and truly worth the investment. High range outdoors is in the process of designing some new gear, which I am hanging out to see.

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If you want to know more jump onto highrangeoutdoors.com.au and have a look at all their products. They also have a lot of instructional videos on their YouTube channel high range outdoors describing many of their products and their features.

Get out there,

Mat

Snake Bite Management Kit

If you venture into the Australian bush during the warmer months of the year chances are you will eventually encounter a snake. Now don’t get me wrong I am not a passionate snake lover but I certainly don’t let the possibility of meeting one deter me from getting out doors, respecting them and accepting the fact you are in their environment is the best thing you can do.

Kit

Australia is home to many different types of snakes, some venomous and some not, but the risk of being bitten is very low. In 7 years of bushwalking in various parts of Australia I have come across about 8 snakes and not one has become aggressive towards me. Most of the time they are gone before I have even had time to identify them. That being said one thing that is always in my pack is a good quality snake bite kit. After purchasing a couple of kits I was very disappointed in the quality of items they contained and they did not install me with a lot of confidence. I then came across a kit from the guys at Next72hours.

The kit is assembled in Australia using specifically chosen quality components and has been well thought out. It comes vacuumed sealed so is completely waterproof, makes it more compact and as long as it is sealed you know all the contents are there. The kit is based around the pressure immobilisation bandage technique so is suitable for snakebites, and stings and bites from: the Cone Shell, the Blue Ringed Octopus and the Funnel Web Spider.  Obviously knowing how to use this kit properly is very important, I would recommend anybody travelling to remote areas be trained in first aid, or at the very least research information regarding the treatment of snakebites.

KitContents

Contents of the Kit

1 Pair Latex Gloves

1 Packet Sterile Gauze Squares

1 Permanent Marker

3 x 10cm Compression Bandages

1 Triangular Bandage

1 S.O.L.A.S Approved Rescue Whistle

1 Comprehensive Instruction Pamphlet

1 User Friendly Patient Notes Card

I highly recommend this kit for anyone interested in the outdoors, I keep one in my 4WD and have another ready to pack on any adventure be it a short day hike or multi day trek.

http://www.next72hours.com

Cheers, Mat

La La Falls

As the weather cleared and the sun came out after a few average days with scattered rain we headed out for a short daywalk into the Yarra State Forest. Our destination was La La Falls.

Falls

TreeMoss

La La Falls was named after past landowner Leila Ward, whose guesthouse, ‘La La’ (meaning Welcome Welcome), was located in the area. This picturesque 3.2km return hike takes you through tall mountain ash forest and lush ferny undergrowth with the gentle sound of Four Mile Creek flowing beside you all the way to the falls.  Distance to Melbourne city 92km, the closest town is Warburton.

Trail

The trail is compacted gravel and easy to follow and suitable for all fitness levels though there are a few steep sections that can get slippery so take care.

BigTree

Mat

La La Falls is a lovely short hike through some beautiful forest, I recommend it for anyone after a nice easy walk fit for the whole family.

Take care, Mat

Ritchie’s Hut Overnighter

‘My reason for building this hut is for the purpose of fishing.’ Bob Ritchie 1947

Ritchie’s Hut is a perfect introduction to overnight hiking or can be completed in a day walk, 6km one way or a 12km return. It is a beautiful walk situated in the Alpine National Park, which follows the Howqua River. The walk begins from 7 or 8 mile flat camping area, about 49km from Mansfield. There is a high and low track. The low track contains approximately 14 river crossings and dependant on the weather is sometimes impassable.

Hut

Ritchie’s Hut is located at the junction of 14 mile creek and the Howqua River. The original hut was built in the 1940’s by the Ritchie family and Fred Fry but was destroyed by the 2006/2007 Great Divide fires. The hut was rebuilt in 2008/2009. The hut has a large fireplace with a table and benches to roll out a sleeping bag, or there is plenty of room outside to pitch a tent.

Mat

Our hike began from 7 mile camp. We chose to walk in on the high track and out on the low track. Our reasoning was that way we would not have the possibility of having wet footwear at the start of the second day. It took us 2.5 – 3 hours to get to the hut. We left our vehicle at 1pm and it was a 30-degree day so it was rather warm. We only carried 1L of water and a Sawyer filter as you are close to the river, although on the high track you don’t have access to the Howqua there are a couple of feeder creeks making there way down which were perfect spots to top up containers. The upper track is a combination of grassy slopes and cool tree covered gullies, which can be a nice relief from the intense sun on a hot day.

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Arriving at the hut we set up camp and headed down to the river for a swim, the Howqua is fed by alpine streams and melting snow so it is always fresh even on a hot summers day.

RiverCoffee

Leaving in the morning we followed the signs for the low track and got our feet wet. This track took us a little longer with all the crossings but when you are somewhere as beautiful as here why rush. Depending how brave you are there are multiple water holes to swim in the crystal clear waters of the Howqua on the way out.

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Matriver

Ritchie’s Hut is an amazing place to visit. We were lucky enough to have had the hut to ourselves on both occasions we have visited.

Thanks for reading, Mat

Outback Survival Bob Cooper

WebReadyOutbackSurvival

“The only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain” Bob Cooper

Hopefully I never find myself in a survival situation.  Any form of outdoor adventure can carry some form of danger or potential for things to go wrong.  Being prepared could be the difference between life or death and anything you know no matter how small could be that difference.

A lot of my adventures in Australia see me exploring alone.  I always carry a First Aid Kit, a separate Snake Bite Kit and a PLB (personal locator beacon).  When I was researching information on survival situations most of what I found was based over seas mainly in America.  That led me to Bob Coopers book titled Outback Survival.  Bob Cooper is one of Australia’s leading survival experts, he has written an excellent book which covers; survival kits, finding water and shelter, bush tucker, snakes and spiders, dealing with fear and more.

Part 1: My Story is the beginning of the book and has some great stories on Bob’s experiences with survival situations and SAS training and I found it a very interesting read.  Bob is definitely a very talented man and has some great experience in the outback.  Part2: Outback survival goes on to cover all the different areas of survival including; Control, The Big 5, Dehydration, Finding water, Fire, Shelter, Distress Signals, Navigation, Snake bites and stings and much more.

Outback Survival by Bob Cooper contains a lot of hugely valuable information all relevant to Australia and I think anybody venturing into the wilderness should have some knowledge of survival situations and what to do in the event of.  I highly recommend this book for all persons that venture outdoors as a refresher or as new knowledge as I feel it is invaluable to be prepared for any situation that may arise.  Outback Survival is well written and easy to read, Bob Cooper has done an amazing job.

Thanks for reading

Mat

Snow on the Bluff

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The Bluff, Victorian High Country

Pulling back the curtains we were surprised by a rather sunny warm day in late August, which was a welcomed sight. A decision was made to head to the Victorian High Country for a quick overnighter as the previous months of camping were non existence due to weather and other commitments. By the time we tidied up from a hearty cooked breakfast and packed up Bones (a 1993 Toyota Hilux who you will get to know) the clock was reading 11am. Not our best efforts time wise but with the warm sunshine upon us we didn’t mind.

Arriving in Mansfield in the afternoon, a bite to eat and a quick catch up with a friend who gave us some local knowledge on track conditions and places to camp and we were off. After grabbing some diesel additive as overnight temps were heading towards -5° we started heading east towards Mt Buller.

Turning South onto Howqua Track around 4pm the golden sun contrasting against the cloudless blue sky we realized we had limited light left. Wanting to reach our desired destination of refrigerator gap by dusk we had to get moving! Driving along beside the Howqua river at the end of a magnificent sunny day was a treat and still being winter there were very few other vehicles to be seen.

P1000255Heading East onto Bluff Link track we started seeing signs of snowfall on the track and dotted along the banks. The more we climbed the more snow we saw, upon reaching our campsite we were greeted by a reasonable covering of snow on the ground. It was by no means heavy but considering it was our first time camping in the snow it was the perfect amount. Camp setup was quick as darkness was approaching, after getting a fire going we settled in for the evening adding many layers as the night wore on and the temperature fell.

Clear blue skies and crisp air greeted us in the morning, getting out of the swag was a shock to the system. The reason we chose to camp at refrigerator gap was so we could pack up camp and be at the Bluff Walking trail with minimal driving. Some tea and warm porridge were made before packing up partially frozen gear with numb hands and driving to the base of the Bluff.

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The 1.5km hike to the Bluff was amazing. I had climbed the other side previously during summer but this was a totally different experience. The entire side of the Bluff had about a foot of snow covering it, sometimes more. There were small rivers of melting ice, icicles hanging from rocks and views of the high country getting grander as we climbed. Lucky for us there were some tracks from previous hikers who had compacted the ground and meant using my GPS for the most part wasn’t necessary. As we approached the summit we noticed the clouds were speeding past and soon we were surrounded in fog and a bitter wind was whipping around us. At the summit our views were partially blocked from the approaching weather and the wind made it a little uncomfortable, but we still took a moment to look around and take it in, as it was truly spectacular. There are some breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. I thought we should start to head down incase the weather really turned and with some careful footing we were soon back at the vehicle and the sun had returned.

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Some lunch was had before we started making our way home. This was a great one night away, a simple trip that didn’t require to much planning, a little luck with the weather and we had a nice break from the daily grind.