That’s it for the Supersprint …

Well that was a relatively quiet weekend at the Bend for the Supersprint. Once again, my role was the Emergency Coordinator in Race Control. If there is an on track incident, the coordination of the fire, medical and recovery vehicles is my responsibility.

Over the three days we only had 25 on track incidents but nothing of any note.

There was good opportunities at night for some crew bonding in the Officials Campground, even if it was very cold. Lucky we had a fire to keep us warm.

Tomorrow is my third week of holidays and my travels will take me to Alice Springs for the Red Centrenats.

At least it will be warmer.

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Time for some Supercars …

My time down the south east had come to an end and although I didn’t achieve all the geocache finds I had planned, it certainly made a dent in the available caches. I am sure there will be a lot more caches placed around the area prior to the GeoVenture 2020 so another trip will be in order to get them.

My next week of holidays will be a bit closer to home. This coming weekend is the Supersprint at the Bend Motorsport Park. I will be taking up residence in the Big 4 Caravan Park at the track from tomorrow, catching up with Garry and Deb.

It is only for a couple of days before moving into the temporary Officials Campground located in the East Circuit Pit Area. By being already on site, we will be able to get the pick of the campsites before everyone else moves in on Thursday afternoon.

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Not too cold for a Sinkhole …

There was some heavy rain and strong winds overnight, but it started to break up as I headed out to find some geocaches around Millicent. It was short lived with continual heavy showers hitting me every 10 minutes or so. It was not much fun caching. Combine that with a few DNF’s (Did Not Find), I decided to go back to the caravan for an early lunch, put on some dry clothes then made tracks for Mount Gambier.

There was a few more geocaches along the way but the wind was getting stronger and the rain heavier, so I gave up on the geocaching and went straight to Kilsby’s Sinkhole.

This is one of many sinkholes that are located on properties around the south-east but there is a difference. The owners have made this a commercial venture where you can go swimming, snorkelling and diving, depending on your qualifications.

I was already saturated so why not get completely wet. It was down to 8C outside and the sinkhole was 15C so that was a plus. They also supplied wet suit, boots, hood, gloves, mask, snorkel and fins. There was some instruction at the start after signing the waivers (making sure it is all our fault and wont sue) then it was down to the sinkhole.

They can handle 8 people at a time but I guess the weather has scared others off as there were only 5 in our group today. We were told that most people only last around 30 minutes in the water and the other 4 in the group proved that. I stayed in for 1.25 hours. They only reason I got out is that our minder, Jen, had to stand on the deck and she was getting cold.

The best bit was with all the wet suit material you are wearing, you become neutral buoyant so there is no effort to keep yourself up in the water. By laying forward, arms stretched to the side over the deepest point at 30 metres, it is the closest thing you could get to feeling weightless. An added bonus today was the 2 divers down on the bottom. It was fascinating floating above them in their air bubble stream coming to the surface.And the big question is, how much for this experience. For a 2 hour session with all the gear included is $49 per person. I think it was well worth it.

The weather actually abated during the time we were in the sinkhole but as soon as I left the property, it all started up again. Hopefully it clears up a bit tomorrow as I leave Millicent and return home for a least one day.

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Caching into the Forests …

It doesn’t look like I am supposed to sleep in during my holidays. At 830am (some might call that a sleep-in) there was some strange noise coming from my laptop, phone and tablet. It was Bradley calling from Chicago for a Family chat using Messenger. Bradley had just got home from work (Friday afternoon his time) whereas the rest of us were still in bed or just up.

After a 30 minute catch up on his movements, loves, work and his new apartment, I might as well get up for the day.

It was another glorious day with no clouds and plenty of sunshine but it was only around 14C. Today I was going to leave the farming areas around Millicent and move onto the pine forests and caves of Tantanoola.

I had a list of around 45 caches for the day but as I would find, that caching in the forests was not going to be too easy with a lot trees having been blown down in our many storms and fallen down over tracks blocking any access to the caches.

I did get to do a couple of earthcaches, both in disused quarries. The first was a sandstone quarry that was used to carve out the Mount Gambier Limestone which was used in a lot of building from the 1870’s. The other quarry was the Mount Watch volcano dome which was used as a source of scoria.

A lot of todays caches were at many of the limestone cave entrances scattered around the south-east. All of those visited today were filled with water which can be explored using scuba gear (provided you have the right credentials), but it has been about 20 years since I have donned scuba gear so no cave diving for me today.

At the back of Tantanoola, I had one of those empty buildings filled with stuff moment. It was the old Tantanoola Butter, Cheese, and Produce Company Factory. Each year since 1960 on Christmas Day, there is a group of people that meet up and there is an honour board on the front of the building of all the attendees, life members and those that have passed on.

But there is even more. The front door has seen better days so I had a look inside and there were old model cars (spotted some old Holdens and Chryslers), motors and who knows what stacked up all through the factory. If this place ever goes up for sale, I am sure there will be some amazing stuff to be found.

The weather for tomorrow doesn’t look too good so have a list of geocaches to find in the morning if the weather is right, but in the afternoon I am going into a sinkhole where I am going to get wet anyway.

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Another Geocaching Milestone … 22000 Finds

I think they didn’t get the memo at work that I had started holidays or maybe they just wanted to see if I was enjoying my time off. Either way there was an early morning call from work.

There was some wild weather overnight with strong winds buffering the van as well as some heavy downpours. By the time I headed out there was sunshine and broken clouds but no rain.

Today was another day of geocaching going for the caches to the north of Millicent. I had picked out 90 for the day but some took a bit longer so I only managed to get 60 before it was getting too dark to spot them.

A highlight was getting another milestone with 22000 geocaches finds at no particularly special spot. It was GC6X0ZA – Commurra Bus run # 6 McEwens, on the side of the Princes Highway.

Tomorrow I will go south of Millicent into the pine forests around Tantanoola.

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Time for some Puzzle Caches …

I awoke to the sound of rain on the roof. That was not the best for a day of geocaching. Combine that with a splitting headache, there was no rush to get out there.

The rain finally relented around 11am, so the plan was to pick on the 90 solved puzzle caches for the day. They were all close to Millicent in farming area which didn’t look too bad but I didn’t take into account the drains that criss-cross the area.

It started out OK with most caches attached to fences or in trees but then the trees and fences started to be on the other side of full open water drains. Time to lose the joggers and gain the knee high rubber boots. They worked out OK for most of the traverses but nearing the end the water was over the top of the boots. So wet jeans and full boots to finish up the last half hour was in order.

It took a little bit longer than I thought with 92 cache finds and one DNF. With a bit more information I will attempt the DNF again tomorrow.

The rain started up again around 830pm but not too heavy at the moment. I have picked another 90 odd caches for tomorrow north of Millicent.

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Heading to the Deep South …

Well it is now a couple of days into my Recreation Leave, the sun is out and there is no wind. Everything is right to head away in the Thommo Taj.

Unfortunately Jenny still has to work so I will be batching for the next month. After stocking up with provisions it was time to start heading down to the south-east.

Millicent is the site for the GeoVenture2020 Mega Event during Easter 2020 but as we have just booked our flights to the US for March and April next year, we will not be able to attend the Mega.

There is already a couple of hundred geocaches that have been put out for the Event so I was headed down for a few days to try and find them all.

90 of the geocaches were puzzles and the last few weeks was mad puzzle solving time.It was a good drive down south, catching up on missed phone calls, a big list of un-listened podcasts and a few geocaches as well.

At Tintinara, I stopped in to fill up at Liberty when pounced upon by the car wax guys. The usual thing they picked a few spots to use it then did a couple of tricks then came the sell. I just said to the guy does it look like I wash my car and he left me and I was on my way again. It was lucky I had done some dirt driving a couple of days ago and the car was a mixture of red and ochre instead of silver.

It has been some time since I have been to Millicent and it surprised me with traffic lights and even a Jaguar Dealership. Pulled into the Hillview Caravan Park to have the pick of the sites with only 3 other caravans here. I picked a site with views over the paddocks to Mount Burr. The sun was setting and a full moon was rising, just right for a couple of photos.

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Goodbye Japan …

There were a number of hotel shuttles (coach size) and they were well patronised. We missed the 8am and 815am and were guaranteed a seat on the 830am but the hotel concierge figured we had waited long enough and shouted us a taxi to the airport getting dropped off at Terminal 1. It was then time to check in and see who won the heaviest suitcase award. Mine was first and weighed in at 28.5kg, only 1.5kg under the 30kg limit. Surely that was the winner but then Jenny’s weighed in at 29.5kg. Rachael and Justin were lightweights in the 24’s. Jenny and I had extra gear from Bradley’s backpack s they will be lighter on the final flight.

We were sitting at our gate busily wifi using and charging when Jenny was called up. There was an issue with our checked baggage and it ended up being mine. They said that a battery was x-rayed. Sure enough I left a power pack in the bag. Apparently it is OK in cabin baggage but not checked. Must be something to do with pressurisation of the cabin. After going through my bag and giving me the battery pack, the plane was loaded and we were on our way.

I finally got a peek at Mt Fuji out the right side of the plane. The summit was peeking out through the cloud layer and looked to be a cloud itself but the pilot reassured us it was Mt Fuji. We then encountered turbulence for the next hour which delayed cabin service but we all got drinks and food eventually. It was a 7 hour flight. Got a few movies and some zzzz’s in and arrived early into Singapore.

It was then catching up with Bradley before grabbing some cash from the ATM, finding the number 24 bus to our Air BnB and settling in for the night. Not sure the bus driver understood us too well as we ended up with 5 tickets for $10 for a one hour bus ride.

A short walk from Changi Road to our penthouse apartment to find beds for 4 people not 5 people as requested. After some back and forward messaging to the owner, a mattress was brought up for Bradley. While I was sorting the bed issue, Jenny and the kids headed out to Changi Road to find us some tea and came back with some street food that was just like I used to get at Singapore Noodles in the Central Market.

Spending a day on a plane doesn’t help with steps but walking around Changi Airport does, finishing with 4868 steps.

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Goodbye to the snow …

After a week in the the snow it is time to bid farewell to our friends and start the trek back to Australia. We will be doing it over a number of days. Today is a bus ride on the Nagano Snow Shuttle from Hakuba to the Narita Airport but we are not flying out today but staying at a hotel next to the airport.

We were about to get on the hotel shuttle when we were presented with an extra bill for Bradley but I was sure that I had already paid through Agoda when I paid for the rooms. There was no time to sort it so left the guy at reception to sort then get Agoda to let me know the outcome.

Next little issue was the Snow Shuttle makes a number of stops on the way being Nagano, a roadside service area then Tokyo before finally getting to Narita. The trip takes 6 hours and I asked if Bradley could be dropped at the Tokyo stop rather than Narita then initially the guy said no but then I reminded him that it was one of the stops and suddenly it was OK. I was given tags for all the bags and a Tokyo tag for Bradley’s bag and our ticket for the 5 of us in the back row of the 45 seater. As soon as the tag was on Bradley’s bag it disappeared into another bus. I grabbed the guy and asked whether Bradley was on a different bus and he said no and that his bag should be on our bus. A quick retrieval before that disappeared.

We were soon on our way travelling the same route we took for the Snow Monkeys on Monday as we recognised a lot of the landmarks even stopping at the same gift shop / tourist trap for a rest stop.

It wasn’t long before the snow was long behind us and a lot of the route was in tunnels through mountains with most tunnels 2 to 3 kilometres long. I am not sure what the speed limit was but our 3rd driver (we had a driver swap at each stop) must of thought he was a F1 Driver as were were topping out at 116 kph and overtaking a lot of traffic.

Around 3pm we dropped off Bradley at Shinjuku Station, this would save a couple of hours travel for him from Narita to Haneda. We flew into Haneda and will be flying out of Narita on Singapore Airlines. Bradley flew into Narita and is flying out of Haneda with Qantas. It wasn’t long and we had a message from Bradley whether his backpack was on the bus. It certainly was. He forgot to grab it when he jumped off the bus.

Our F1 driver ended up getting us early to Narita by 20 minutes, no surprises there. As we arrived, Jenny got a message from Bradley that he had arrived at his capsule hotel, Beagle Hotel. Onto a hotel shuttle which was a full size coach and we were soon at our hotel, Narita View Hotel. And there were certainly views as you could just about touch the planes as they took off past the hotel even though you couldn’t hear them. The walls and windows must have had good sound proofing. Our rooms were on the 10th floor with views of the end of the runways and the forests to the east.

The 7/11 was on the other side of the expressway but it was a kilometre walk to the nearest bridge across and down and a kilometre back. I wanted to grab some Jim Beam as it was cheaper here than duty free. (Y1200 for a 750ml bottle) as well as bits and pieces for breakfast.

One thing I had got used to was a daily soak in an onsen and tonight was the last chance to give it a go. Our hotel had one which was a bigger setup than the Oak Forest Hotel. The big difference was a cost to use this one of Y1000 for guests and Y1500 for anyone else. I was given a voucher to return in the morning if I wanted to. The water was 42C which was a little hot but I still managed 30 minutes of soaking but had to to be interspersed with 5 minute breaks. The added bonus was watching the planes take off while waving to the passengers but I am sure that they couldn’t see anything from that distance.

Tomorrow we leave Japan and head for Singapore for a couple of days. The walk to the 7/11 helped the steps after a day on the bus finishing with 7715 steps.

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Last Day of Japan Skiing …

We awoke to some fog around the hotel but it wasn’t until breakfast time that the fog lifted to reveal blue skies and some sunshine for our final day of skiing. Also as a bonus there was another earthquake at the same location as last nights two but we didn’t feel this mornings as it was only a 2.9 magnitude.

Everyone’s legs and joints are getting weary so the plan today was to head back to Hakuba47 / Goryu and get a morning ticket (Y3980 each), catch the shuttle bus back at 130pm, walk to the Hakuba Ski Jump and have a look then return the skis and enjoy the rest of the night.

Arriving at Goryu, it was bluebird conditions and even though the temperature was only 4C, it felt like 10C or more and we were working up sweats. At the gondola entrance the Ski Patrol were trying to discourage anyone that was not an expert skier from going to the summit due to icy conditions. We convinced him we were experts and headed up.

It didn’t look too bad at the top but we took it easy heading down looking for these icy conditions but all we found was groomed corduroy with some loose powder on the surface. This would be a good day in Australia and we figured if it wasn’t at least 3cm of powder then it must be considered icy. It was good for a while as there wasn’t a lot of people up here but the locals soon realised that conditions were not all that treacherous and headed up too.

We left the summit and Goryu and managed to jag a new slope just as the rope went down then headed over to Hakuba47 to ski the rest of the time we had on the lift ticket. Down and on the 130pm shuttle bus and we were back at the hotel in 10 minutes, well Jenny, Rachael and I were. Bradley was still somewhere at the ski field. Found out he was still skiing and missed the bus. He wasnt too interested in going to the ski jump anyway.

A quick shower and we started walking through some snow paths to the Hakuba Ski Jump. This was built for the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics and is an impressive structure. It consists of 2 jumps, a small one and a large one. You catch a ski lift up to the start building, then an elevator to a number of floors.

The top floor is the main observation deck which overlooks the 2 runs. Going down one floor and you can then venture outside to the start position of the large jump. There are great views from here of the jump as well as the surrounding Hakuba Valley. Venture down a few more floors and you can go out to the start of smaller jump. The gantry going out is mesh and you are looking down over a big drop to the ground. Rachael was not impressed by this. The large jump hugs the topography so the distance to the ground underfoot is not that bad. The final floor you get to have a look at holds all the memorabilia including a set of the medals for the 1998 Nagano Olympic Games. If you are in town it is worth a visit, if not for the jumps and the history but for the views that are afforded from the top.

After walking back to the hotel, we grabbed our skis and commandeered a shuttle bus which had finished his run at our hotel. We asked if he was heading back to base camp and if he could take us and he said “sure”. Our ski rental place was opposite base camp. Another task off the list.

There were no buses heading up the hill so it was a 1.2 km walk back to the hotel. It wasn’t long before Bradley and I were soaking in the onsen. We had it to ourselves but as we were getting out after 35 minutes of soaking, others started to make their way in.

Tonight’s dinner would be our final so the choice was for Japanese Italian at Pension Syo Restaurant. It was like walking into someones home with a big eating area. The meals and service were great and the prices were reasonable. Just as we started walking back to the hotel, it started to rain but was only light.

A good final days skiing with 15 runs for 21.35km. A lot of walking today but feel good for it with 13579 steps for the day.

Tomorrow we catch the Snow Shuttle for a 6 hour bus ride back to Tokyo.

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