Travel Tips & Ideas

Explore & Inspire, Outdoor Education, Travel Tips & Ideas

Camping at The Farmyard – Cathedral Ranges State Park


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I’ve been camping here for over 30 years and not much has changed. Parks Vic (or whatever their name is these days) do a great job of servicing the park by doing tree checks, grading the roads, vegetation management and tree hazard checks, The rest is up to you. If you want to camp somewhere that has everything done for you, this is not the place. Rangers have more important things to do than change the toilet paper rolls so be prepared for a beautiful simple camping experience.

There are a number of campsites in the Farmyard area much of which is shady amongst tall beautiful Peppermint, Blackwood and Red Stringybark gums with the sound of lyrebirds imitating chain saws in the background.

The splendid, high-peaked ridge of the Cathedral Range offers spectacular walks and rock climbing routes to suit all levels of fitness and ability. The Cathedral Range is recovering from the extensive damage caused by the 2009 Black Saturday fires when 92% of the park was burnt. There is a pleasant old sawmill clearing (partially vegetated) sheltered in a forested valley near the bubbling Little River. This 3577 hectare park offers you a range of activities from relaxed camping by a clear mountain stream to an exciting climb to its high exposed peaks.Camping feeCaravan accessNo dogs/petsNo rubbish disposalPicnic areaRangerSpecial campsite (more…)

Explore & Inspire, Outdoor Education, Travel Tips & Ideas

Camping at Neds Gully – Cathedral Ranges State Park


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I’ve been camping here for over 30 years and not much has changed. Parks Vic (or whatever their name is these days) do a great job of servicing the park by doing tree checks, grading the roads, vegetation management, tree hazard checks, managing the toilets and facilities. The rest is up to you. If you want to camp somewhere that has everything done for you, this is not the place. Rangers have more important things to do than change the toilet paper rolls so be prepared for a beautiful simple camping experience. (more…)

Explore & Inspire, Outdoor Education, Travel Tips & Ideas

Camping at Cooks Mill – Cathedral Ranges State Park


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Satin Bower Bird home

I’ve been camping here for over 30 years and not much has changed. Parks Vic (or whatever their name is these days) do a great job of servicing the park by doing tree checks, grading the roads, vegetation management, tree hazard checks, managing the toilets and facilities. The rest is up to you. If you want to camp somewhere that has everything done for you, this is not the place. Rangers have more important things to do than change the toilet paper rolls so be prepared for a beautiful simple camping experience.

There are a number of campsites in the Cooks Mills area much of which is shady amongst tall beautiful Peppermint, Blackwood and Red Stringybark gums with the sound of the Little River bubbling in the background.

The splendid, high-peaked ridge of the Cathedral Range offers spectacular walks and rock climbing routes to suit all levels of fitness and ability. The Cathedral Range is recovering from the extensive damage caused by the 2009 Black Saturday fires when 92% of the park was burnt. There is a pleasant old sawmill clearing (partially vegetated) sheltered in a forested valley near the bubbling Little River. This 3577 hectare park offers you a range of activities from relaxed camping by a clear mountain stream to an exciting climb to its high exposed peaks.Camping feeCaravan accessNo dogs/petsNo rubbish disposalPicnic areaRangerSpecial campsite

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Black Spur

Access
The camping area is located off the Little River Road just before it crosses the river. Access with a 2wd is fine, albeit a little bumpy on the road in. From Melbourne head east through Healesville and through the mountainous Black Spur. Once you have left the Maroondah Highway and have driven north of Buxton, you will see the signposted turn off to the Ranges. Upon making another right turn into Little River Road you will need to drive on a dirt road to reach the camp areas.

Bookings
Advance bookings and payment are required. Individual sites cannot be reserved; please select your campsite(s) within the campground on arrival. For bookings go here or call Parks Victoria 13 1963. One campsite costs $27.50 as at the time of posting. When you book one site, please note that it is unpowered and the site accommodates a maximum of six guests. Individual sites are not reserved; please select your campsite(s) within the campground on arrival.  30 days prior 50% cancellation fee. Less than 30 days prior 100% cancellation fee. No Transfers.

Walking trails nearby

Toilets

Pit toilets are available in a few different places in the campground. Don’t rely on there being toilet paper so please bring your own. Don’t toss your rubbish into the toilets.

Facilities

There are picnic tables a shelter that are available for use by campers. The Friends Nature Trail (proudly can say I was part of the initial group that put this together) is an easy route through manna gum forest and takes about an hour to do the loop walk. The St Bernards Track to Jawbone carpark is a little more strenuous (can say that a group of students made this track back in the 90’s on one of our programs).

Fireplaces

Note that the fireplaces do not include a cooking plate so you’ll need to bring your own. Plus, you’ll need to bring your own firewood as it’s prohibited to take wood from the park but wood can be purchased from the nearby towns of Taggerty and Buxton. Use a portable gas stove or similar for cooking.

  • Light fires only in the fireplaces provided or use a portable camping stove instead
  • Ensure fires are never left unattended and are completely out before you leave
  • During summer and autumn Total Fire Bans are common – this means no open fires can be lit
  • For information on Total Fire Bans call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667

    Little River

Water

Recommend you bring your own water in although you can take water directly from The Little River. I would recommend treating it if this is the case. One of the local rangers, Rhyll recommends bringing in your own water as there is still ash from the bushfires washing into the waterways. Plus the never-ending logging trucks that are well placed upstream probably have some diesel run-off. In other words – treat or filter your water if taking from The Little River.

Rubbish

Carry in, carry out. There is no rubbish collection within the park and there are no rubbish bins so you’ll need to take it home

Campsites

There are 30 campsites available. Some are suitable for camper trailers, campervans, a small caravan or recreational vehicle as well as tents. During peak season, this campsite gets a lot of visitors. Be mindful of how far you spread yourselves out over your campsite. Do not camp under tree limbs. Note: bring your own wood, as firewood cannot be collected anywhere in the park. Also note that the fireplace here doesn’t have a cooking plate.

Pets

Not allowed

Wildlife

I could say prolific but that’s only when I need a goods night sleep. During the day you’ll hear if not see lyrebirds. They’ll often imitate chainsaws from the loggers. kookaburras, cockatoos, galahs and even the protected peregrine falcon. At night, the wombats come out along with the possums. Beware that the possums will rummage through your food tubs unless you seal them up properly. Kangaroos and wallabies tend to come out at dusk and dawn but you will often surprise them on walking trails. The every so interesting Satin Bower Bird have nests here and well worth hunting them out. Please do not disturb them. Take photos only.

Phone Network

Dodgy at the best of times. It’s intermittent and can drop out quickly.

Extra info

No known swimming spots here. No fishing allowed. No horseriding. No canoeing or kayaking.

Vehicle-based campingWood fireplaceNow it’s your turn. What are your experiences like of camping at Cooks Mill? Share and leave a comment below.

Explore & Inspire, Outdoor Education, Travel Tips & Ideas

Lake Mountain Alpine Resort in Summer


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Lake Mountain is known for its excellent cross country ski trails during the winter months but it has more to offer than just snow and tobogganing when the weather warms up. Only two hours from Melbourne, it’s a hit with skiers but these days has become more popular with bushwalkers and mountain bike riders. With over 30 kms of trails, that weave their way amongst the snowgums, the stunning heathland, the wild flowers and natural beauty of an alpine environment – there is something for everyone.

Helicopter Flat looking south

I’ve worked at this mountain as a professional ski guide and as a recreational skier since 1989 and I knew it inside out. But after the 2009 fires, I couldn’t visit Marysville let alone the mountain for some years. Fortunately, I made my way up to the mountain more recently and was pleasantly surprised by the infrastructure and regrowth that has happened in nine years.

Let’s set the record straight – there is no lake at Lake Mountain. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to put tourists on the right track on that one. Lake Mountain was named after George Lake, who was the Surveyor-General of the area including the mountain.

What was previously one building a storage sheds for groomers is now multiple large buildings for Ski Patrol, Ski School, Ski Hire, Cafe, Toilets and more. It’s an excellent set up and well overdue.

Despite being a little disoriented at first, I was able to follow the trails (picturing them with snow) and making my way around the mountain to familiar sites. What a buzz yet filled with grief. The snowgums are beautiful with their stark white trunks set against the blue alpine sky. Yet they are all dead and regeneration is slow and challenging. This place will never be as it was, but perhaps will evolve into something new and better (crossing my fingers behind my back as I wrote that).

Prior to going up to the mountain you can download maps from the Lake Mountain Resort website here. They are excellent and it’s a good place to start, particularly if this area is unfamiliar to you.

  • How to get to Lake Mountain from Melbourne
  • Resort Map
  • Ski trails and snowshoeing Map
  • Walking and Recreation Trails Map
  • Mountain Bike Trails Map

I would also recommend you check the weather, particularly if you’re coming from Melbourne. What may be calm and windless in one place can be stormy and unpleasant on the mountain.

There is a cafe on the mountain if you’d like to utilise that for a meal and coffee but there is also free undercover bbq facilities available. The cafe is open 9am – 4pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday. You can contact them directly on 03 5957 7253. I’d suggest you bring some basic food and all the water you need (just in case) and plan for a big day out. You always have the opportunity to stop at one of Marysville’s great eateries on the way up or down.

Just as a side note, the water at the resort comes from the Echo Flat area of the ski trails. This is actually where the Taggerty River starts and it is an unprotected catchment. Under the provisions of section 6 of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Minister for Health has declared the water not suitable for drinking. Therefore, bring all your own water or you can purchase bottled water at the cafe on the mountain.

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So let’s start at the beginning as you leave Marysville. The resort is 22kms from town and will take you longer than you might expect as the road is windy and you need to take care as there are often many drivers (particularly motor bikes) going to and from the resort.

You can stop at a few points along the way if you need a break but you should be there in around 20 minutes. No toilets on the way so use the ones in Marysville.

There are a number of car parks on the way up but you’re looking for the very top one where there are two large buildings and massive car parking.

This photo to above is one of the Information Boards that will help you get oriented and give you ideas of what you can do.

Here you make choices: Do you walk to the summit of Lake Mountain, venture on the Flying Fox, go for a walk, have a picnic. I’d suggest a walk to start with. It takes 10 minutes to walk up to the Snow Gauge and is a gentle uphill walk easy for most people. Then it flattens out from there. In summer the trails can be tussocky but easy to walk on.

Make sure you have a map with you so you know where you’re going. Most trails loop and you can branch off at one point and end up at another that links up with your original starting point.

You can walk on many of the trails that will take you right out to the back of the Resort where in winter I’ve seen antechinus footprints in the snow or wombats shuffling under tree trunks to hide from the wide. In summer, you will see kites, currawongs, wrens, wombats, the occasionally wallaby or kangaroo and lots of skinks. Why not take the opportunity to bring a picnic and have a culinary experience in the alpine world. Beware the march flies are vigilant and I’d bring insect repellant with you.

If you’re not a big bushwalker, then try the walk up to the summit of Lake Mountain which tops out at the almighty figure of 1443m (highest point is 1480 on the Hut Trail). Mt Bogong which is the highest mountain in Victoria is at 1986 metres. If the weather is clear, the views from the lookouts are stunning and with any luck, you may even be able to see Melbourne highrises.

You can engage a professional environmental officer named Sue who can be contacted on 03 5957 7222 or emailing her at admin@lakemountainresort.com.au. Sue’s experience in flora and fauna is exceptional and will give you an insight into the environs that you may otherwise miss without her knowledge. Ideally you would have a group of 4+ to engage her services and you will need to prebook.

Flying Fox from the start looking to the finish

Up for Adventure?

Having spent some time in Northern Italy in 2016 I was thrilled to see how the managers of the ski resorts utilise their facilities all year round with mountain bike riding and other activities. This is what is unfolding at Lake Mountain. They have installed an amazing 240-metre Dual Flying Fox that is easily accessible from the car park. It’s an absolute hoot and highly recommend.

Flying Fox Rules and Regulations

In summer there is also the ‘tube run’ which is a ski trail where plastic is laid down the trail along with water and in a tube you can go for a hoot down the hill.

Signage to the Flying Fox

Finally, Laser Skirmish. This is new and who wouldn’t love the chance to pop some of your friends with paint. For more information on the Adventure Activities, go to the website here.

End of Flying Fox looking up to the start

Operation of the flying fox, tube run and laser skirmish are subject to weather conditions in the White Season. For these activities and guided wildflower walks, group bookings are essential in the Green Season. (quoted from the website).

Mountain Biking

The Resort continues to do great work on expanding the mountain bike trails around the area with over 20kms of single tracks that caters for the beginner to the advanced. You can bring your own bike or hire them at the  Lake Mountain Cafe & Visitor Centre which includes a helmet. The bikes are Kona mountain bikes and are in very good condition. Costs $15 for two hours or $25 for a whole day.

This is not my photo but not sure who took it but credit to them.
This is not my photo but not sure who took it but credit to them.

If you’d like to camp up on the mountain, you MUST contact the resort management for permission a there are designated camping areas. Remember this is alpine heathland and extremely sensitive to overuse.

NOTE – During the summer months when there is a day forecasted for Code Red Fire Danger, the resort will be closed. If you need more information visit Parks Victoria here.

The Ski Trails are also the walking trails and here are the distances below (taken directly from the Resort website). This will give you an idea of the distance and time it may take you to venture around the area.

Trail up to the Snow Gauge

 Walking / Ski Trails

  • Echo Flat Loop – 1.5 km
  • Snow Gum – 1.5 km
  • Muster – 2.6 km
  • Echo Flat – 6 km
  • Roystone – 2 km
  • Woollybutte – 2 km
  • Panorama – 3.5 km
  • Long Healthed – 3 km
  • Jubilee – 6 km

OPENING HOURS: 24/7 during summer months. Limited in winter.

LOCATION: Lake Mountain Alpine Resort, 1071 Lake Mountain Road, Marysville

PHONE: (03) 5957 7222. There is only Telstra 3G coverage on the mountain.

PARKING: There are two large carparks close to the buildings at the Resort and a few more further down the road to Marysville but these are used as spillover carparks in winter.

TRANSPORT: There is no public transport to Lake Mountain during summer. You can drive or ride your bike up the mountain.

DISABLED ACCESS: Around the buildings it’s pretty good but not on the trails and tracks.

ATM: There is no ATM on the mountain during summer although if the cafe is open they have EFTPOS.

ENTRANCE FEE: No fee during summer

DOGS: This is part of the Alpine Resorts Commission and therefore, no pets allowed.

TOILET FACILITIES: Toilets within the buildings

SOCIAL MEDIA:  Lake Mountain Resort on Facebook click here.

Lake Mountain Resort on Twitter click here.

Instagram @lakemountainresort and #lakemoutainresort

WEBSITE: Lake Mountain Resort

Now it’s your turn. Share your stories of spending time at Lake Mountain during the summer months. Leave a comment below.

 

 

 

Explore & Inspire, Outdoor Education, Travel Tips & Ideas

Outdoor Education – what can you do as a parent/student – Part 2 of 2


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Following on from my post a week ago (go here), this is the upside of the things you can do for your children (or if you’re a student – for yourself) that are simple and easy and frankly, you and I probably did when we were kids.

  • Make your kids to chores. It seems fundamental but these days, most homes have dishwashers, so many families have a cleaner come in once a week / fortnight (you know that time when you ask the kids to clean up the mess in their rooms because the cleaner is coming the next day), where we outsource dog walking, gardening, car cleaning and so on. Research has shown that chores foster interpersonal skills, improve mental health, create empathy and build on responsibility. More importantly, doing chores develops gratitude in children.

    My kids doing the camping dishes
  • Demonstrate and practice with your children how to peel and chop everyday vegetables. I’m not talking about kale or squash – more onions, potatoes, carrots, capsicums and so on. When a student cuts a carrot 1cm thick and is then disappointed when it’s still crunchy after a stir fry, you’ll be able to help them think ahead.
  • Let your children know that everyday chores (like cooking for some of us) are laborious, monotonous and boring. Be prepared to work against the self-concerned nature of children and work on developing a sense of social justice within them.
  • Have your children do the dishes. I remember taking my kids away when they were 3, 5 and 7 and realised they didn’t know how to wash or dry dishes because we had a dishwasher. Here started the lesson and by the end of two weeks they were experts. In particular, focus on hygiene and as always – try to make it fun.
  • Let your children pack their own gear. Take the list provided by the school, the scout group, the church group and have them lay all of it out on their bed. Then they can tick it off as they put it into their bag. Support and help them but don’t pack it for them as once they are in the field they’ll have to do it themselves anyway and they’ll be one step ahead of the pack.
  • You may not agree with everything on the gear list but stick to the list. Items such as sunblock, broad-brimmed hat, gloves, no cotton clothes, wide-mouthed water bottle and so on have been put there for a reason. People like myself have been in the industry a long time and we know what works best and what doesn’t. By all means query the list with the staff member involved, otherwise – stick to the list!
  • Don’t impart your anxiety or fears onto your children. You may not like camping or carrying a pack, but don’t underestimate your child. Ask open questions like ‘what was the food like?’, ‘did you sleep well?’, ‘did you make any new friends?’ instead of ‘it must’ve been terrible walking in the cold weather!’ OR ‘sleeping on the ground is dreadful isn’t it?’ OR my favourite ‘it must have been hard to walk with that heavy pack!’ No presuppositions. Only queries please.
  • Don’t be a helicopter parent. Let them make mistakes. Forget things. Lose things. Be mean. Be kind. Be helpful. Be rude. Get anxious. Get scared. Find their feet. As a parent – we can be so busy giving our kids everything we didn’t have, we forget to give them everything we did have. (see this post). If you think you’re a helicopter parent then you probably not looked upon fondly by staff due to your high needs and expectations, often over inflated value on things that are considered ordinary and most of which you project is about yourself not your child. B
    Mum showing how to chop veggies

    it tough? Yep but it’s something we deal with everyday.

  • So they forgot their lunch and water bottle for the first day of camp. Don’t chase the bus down and give it to them. Let them problem solve it. They won’t starve or dehydrate. That’s part of the learning. If you continually ‘rescue’ them then that’s what they’ll expect for the rest of their lives.
  • Don’t underestimate the awesomeness within your child/ren. I wish I could make an individual video for every parent and show them how their child consistently rises to the challenge. Most of the time, they put up their tent with their mates. They prepare a meal with others. They help out those they can see struggling. Or they ask for help if they need it. They ask good questions of staff. When we as parents step back and let our children be children you’d be surprised how amazing they are. Give them that chance.
  • Allow them to receive feedback and that there might have negative consequences for their actions. This instills in them the concept of mutual respect and the rights and interests of others. It sits uncomfortable as a parent but it’s essential to their growth.
  • Their outdoor education experience is their experience, not yours. Don’t presume or preempt what may or may not have happened.
  • Do expect that your child will come home tired, hungry and smelly. Don’t mention it. That’s part of being on program. Ask them before they go on their trip what they’d like for dinner when they return – favourites I know of are: roast, sushi, lasagna, Thai food, pizza or fruit salad.
  • Don’t be surprised by the lack of dirty clothes. When you’re living outdoors you tend to wear the same things over and over again (particularly boys – I have a son!). For a five-day program you only see a couple of pairs of underwear and one t-shirt – don’t worry. They were doing exactly what they should have – lived in the moment and disregarded fashion.
  • It’s not your experience – it’s theirs. Let their stories unfold when they return. They may not bubble out of them straight away or you may not be able to shut them up. Allow their stories be their stories. Quiz them. Challenge them. Encourage them. Look to the growth within the time they’ve spent away rather than the negative.
  • My final tip is – do not let them take any technology on a program. This is the one chance to disconnect from the WWW and reconnect with themselves and others around them. Anyway, the network is often available anyway and they’ll run out of charge within 24 hours. These days we are all so used to being able to speak to our kids, look up what the weather is doing next week, find out footy scores, Google anything – but I beg you to give your child the space to just ‘be’. Allow them to soak up their environment without the distractions from technology and you. As a parent, I know this can be hard but believe me, it’s worth it for them and for you.

Now it’s your turn. How have you found your experiences send your children off on camp? How have they coped? What advice would you offer other parents. Please leave a comment below.

Explore & Inspire, Travel Tips & Ideas

Kids travelling vs staying in school: Part 2


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Meeting the locals

As a parent, you do need to consider if it’s a good thing for your child to be out of school for an extended period of time. Not all kids are resilient and capable of stepping from home-school-holiday-home-school. You may need to keep in touch with class teachers as to their progress and mental health if not around a routine or their friends. But ultimately, the decision is yours as a parent. Do take into account those years that are important such as approaching the final years of secondary or transitioning from primary to secondary school. (more…)

Explore & Inspire, Outdoor Education, Travel Tips & Ideas

Outdoor Education – what can you do as a parent/student – Part 1 of 2


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Pancakes for breakfast (13 yo)

I’ve worked in the Outdoor Education field since 1989 and there have been many changes over that time. As an entity, our management of risk has improved tremendously, our programs are journey based and often sequential giving a sense of change and resetting the daily expectations, the quality of food and recipes are broad and nutritional, the equipment is well maintained and turned over within good time frames, the staff are better trained and equipped to deal with different groups and emergencies, venues are scoped to achieve outcomes for programs and so much more.

However, there have been many changes since 1989 and they are worth reading through as you may find some parallels with your own children / yourself. The Part 2 (go here) of this article will give you the practical tips and guidance to work through some of these issues.

  • Most students don’t know how to cut vegetables, particularly hard ones like carrots. Given a capsicum, a student will often look at me quizzically and say either ‘what is this’ or ‘how do I chop this?’
  • Most students don’t know how to cook. Asked to bring rice on a program for a group of three, I’ve seen numerous times a student pull out a 500gm bag on a self-cater program not knowing that this would feed an entire group + other campers nearby. This is despite encouragement to practice at home prior to the trip to work out quantities.
  • On a five day program, students would prefer to bring 8 Up & Go’s for breakfast than muesli, weetbix or other cereal and mix up powdered milk. Their reason? Too hard. If they are self-catering encourage them to bring healthy whole food.
  • With restrictions on perishable food being taken on camp – many parents are supplying their kids with expensive dehydrated dinners. This is missing the point. It’s about the process not the end result. Plus, they’ll receive a constipated child at the end of the week as these dinners are fine as a one off but not on a regular basis.
  • Two minute noodles do not count as a meal. I regard them as a nice snack while preparing dinner but not to replace a dinner. There is no calorific value in them and believe me, kids need all the nutritional value they can on an outdoor education program.
  • No lollies. No energy drinks. No processed snack foods. Stick to whole foods. They’ll offer more dietary value and get them through the program with my energy and less cravings.
  • Young people need to understand that it’s imperative they practice good hygiene techniques while camping. Gelsan isn’t enough. Soap, water and more soap, then more water. It’s all provided so use it.
  • Students in the 90’s would carry 15kgs packs, walk for five days, averaging 15 – 20kms a day. Today they’d be lucky to carry 12kgs (many students needing a pack shuttle), they’d rarely walk for three days and it would be unheard of a student walking 15kms – more like 10 – 12 kms.
  • There were no mobile phones in 1989 and in fact in 1992 on my BMLCC (Bushwalking & Mountaincraft Leadership Course – the only qualification around at the time for bushwalking leaders), someone brought a large brick style phone along to ‘test it out’. We were all horrified that a phone on our bushwalk would spoil the experience. We were walking to get away from the technology and here it was in our face. Within two years, as a leader if you didn’t take a phone on program you were regarded as negligent! How times change. However, we still encourage no technology in the outdoors. No MP3’s, phones, Nintendos, DS’s, tablets and so on. Not sure how we’ll go with the Apple Watch coming out but we encourage students to disconnect from technology and connect with what’s around them – people and nature.
  • Parents pass on their fears and expectations to their children. They don’t want their child to get cold and wet but that isn’t necessarily the same for your kids. And frankly, they need to be a little uncomfortable, a little stretched and stressed. Yes that word stressed. No one wants their kid to be stretched, least of all me as a parent. But I know that my kids have an awesomeness inside them and it’s only when I allow them to experience the goods with the bads and let them shine through that they appreciate the potential they have.
  • Your experiences camping will no doubt be different to what your child will experience. Let them find their own feet on the trip.
  • How can our kids grow if their world is a bubble of never experience walking with a backpack in strong wind, trying to put a tent up in the rain, putting on a wetsuit in the morning that is cold, sunburnt shoulders because they didn’t put on blockout, the hard slog up a hill with the reward of beautiful views. The world can be tough whether in business or working for yourself. How can we expect our kids to draw on their strengths if they’ve never had to face adversity.
  • Young people lack resilience and yet it’s the one word that is bandied around within educational institutions all the time – ‘help make my child resilient – but don’t let them work hard, do it tough, make them cold or wet or hungry or accountable.’ Grrrr. Effort equals achievement. Read this for more information.
  • Don’t make excuses for them. Here is a  list of the regular excuses I hear from parents: she’d too small to carry a pack, he has growing pains so he can’t carry a pack, she must have a shower during the week otherwise she feels dirty,
  • For those of you that camping is unfamiliar – I urge you to embrace it. I’ve consistently found that the best leaders have come from those who’ve taken onboard outdoor education trips. They are organised, prepared, flexible, can work in a team, take control if required, be a leader as well as a follower, think on their feet, be proactive, play devils advocate, problem solve, think laterally and creatively, mindful and respectful of others, work collaboratively, are often humble, see the greatness in others, sympathetic and much more. That’s not a bad list.
  • If a teacher or leader says your child ‘played up’ – they did. Whatever they ‘would never do that’ – they did. And probably more than once.

Now it’s your turn. How have you found your experiences send your children off on camp? How have they coped? What advice would you offer other parents. Please leave a comment below.

Explore & Inspire, Outdoor Education, Travel Tips & Ideas

Snake bite facts and figures – Australia


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In Australia there are about 3,000 snake bites per year, of which 200 to 500 receive antivenom; on average one or two will prove fatal. About half the deaths are due to bites from the brown snake; the rest mostly from tiger snake, taipan and death adder. Some deaths are sudden however, in fact it is uncommon to die within four hours of a snake bite.

A typical place to find a snake

Between 1979 and 1998 there were 53 deaths from snakes, according to data obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In 1906, the untreated death rates were as high as 40% to 50% for death adder and tiger snake bites! Improved supportive treatment and the availability of effective antivenoms has reduced this considerably.

Antivenoms are prepared from horse serum. The risk of anaphylaxis is very low (less than 1% even for polyvalent antivenoms), but is increased in people who have had prior exposure to horses, equine tetanus vaccines, and a general allergic history. This increased risk is much more common in people aged 50 years or more. About 4% of all administrations are associated with minor reactions.

Pre-treatment with a non-sedating anti-histamine, subcutaneous adrenaline, and iv steroids is still recommended, although severe reactions are rare. In general the risk from the snake toxins is much greater than the risk of administering the antivenom.

Red bellied black snake are a stunning colour

Each State in Australia has a specifically formulated polyvalent antivenom to suit local snake species however, it is preferable to use a snake-specific antivenom whenever possible to reduce the chance of reactions. Details of which antivenom to use varies from state to state, and are found with the packs and test kits.

If an antivenom is administered, ALWAYS advise the patient of the possibility of delayed serum sickness (up to 14 days later). This is characterised by fever, rash, generalised lymphadenopathy, aching joints and renal impairment. The likelihood of developing this depends on the volume of antivenom required. It occurs in about 10% of patients who are given polyvalent antivenoms. Treatment with steroids is usually all that is needed.

Shelf life of antivenom is 3 years when stored in a refrigerator. Antivenoms should not be frozen.

Known homes for snakes

Bites of snake handlers comprise 10% of snakebites in Australia, and implicated snakes include several uncommon snakes kept in captivity that rarely cause bites in the wild. Snake handlers are often reluctant to receive antivenom because of a belief that they are at greater risk of systemic hypersensitivity reactions to antivenom, but there is little evidence to suggest this is true. However, they may develop hypersensitivity reactions to venom, which must be considered in the differential diagnosis.

The forked tongue is not poisonous but is actually a chemical brush used to transfer molecules to the Jacobson’s organ in the roof of the mouth, where the snakes sense of taste and smell is located. A widely forked tongue increases the ability of a snake to track its prey.

Snakes do not have ears and cannot hear sound. Instead they detect sound by sensing vibrations passing through the ground.

Snakes’ skin is not slimy and normally it is dry.

Snakes are not attracted to milk beyond the fact that it is wet and easy to find by smell.

The venom toxicity of a juvenile snake is the same as that of an adult although they usually produce less venom.

Less than 10% of newborn snakes survive to adulthood. Most are eaten by predators, such as birds or feral cats, or are killed by humans.

Tiger snakes vary in appearance

In reality the danger presented by snakes is not nearly as great as perceived. Sporting accidents, dog attacks, lightning strikes and even peanuts cause more human deaths in Australia than snakebite.

The presence of the blue-tongued skink (lizard) is no indication that snakes are absent.

Australia’s most venomous (yield) snake is the King Brown (Pseudechis australis). Believed involved in very few fatalities.

The most toxic snake venom on mice (of the species tested) is the Inland Taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus).

Australia’s deadliest snakes are the brown snakes (Pseudonaja spp.). Believed involved in 22 of the past 38 deaths attributed to snakebite.

Snake identification chart

The world’s deadliest snake, based on documented deaths, is probably the Saw-scaled Viper (Echis carinatus) especially in Sri Lanka. The deaths of nearly fifty people per million from snakebite occur there each year. Today in Australia we have 0.13/million deaths each year.

The toxicity of snake venom is tested in mice. Mice aren’t people.

Bibliography: Anaesthesia USYD , Wikipedia , AIHW Publication (great data here), Parks Tas Brian Bush has written a great academic paper here