Bits and pieces

Like many of you,  we have been trying to juggle work, family and trip planning into our busy lives.

Here are a few things that have been happening around the world of Our Hiking Blog.

Food to Go – Feedback

Jonathan  let us know by email that Farm Pride Egg Powder is now available through Coles Supermarkets in Australia. It’s in the bread making / baking section for anyone who is interested in taking it on a trip. A 150g container, equivalent to a dozen eggs,  sells at  around $5.00. Previously it has been hard to get.

He also bought “Food to Go” recently and gave us some positive feedback (thanks!):

Great, although I have been hiking for 25 years or so,  quite a bit of it I had worked out by myself, but there were LOTS of ideas as well as validation. It convinced me to buy a dehydrator and vacuum packer and these work a treat.

Food to Go also received a nice mention in the latest Great Walks magazine so thanks to Brent McKean the editor who we interviewed last year:  Great Walks? You bet, an interview with Brent McKean editor

Skoda Octavia Scout 4×4 103TDI – Final week

We are running up to the last week of having this vehicle on loan. Having been happy owners of a Subaru Outback for a few years this great new addition to the Aussie market has impressed. Our understanding is that is a “direct competitor”  to the Subaru so we have been in a prime position to comparison both vehicles.

We will write up a full review here next week. (not that we have any obligation from Skoda to do it, just because we want to) The diesel engine (VW Golf based) with it’s  6 speed automatic gearbox has been terrific.

Last weekend Frank took it down to the Otway National Park for a bit of  “off asphalt” driving and tried to do some “Top Gear” filming.  It was  fun when he discovered the sports mode in the transmission and while maneuvering around a particularly rough and slippery gravel corner. the stability / stopping you sliding sideways off the road  control kicked in  😛 …. The video will be ready soon (don’t get too excited)

You can read more  about Our Skoda Experience over here.

Lake Oberon Trip – Update

We (Sue, Frank and Grant) head off there on Monday 4th July for 5 nights.  Hopefully the ash cloud will have moved on and our flights to Tasmania won’t be cancelled. You can read the plan in this article.

Sue has been reassessing her sleeping gear as the weather will be sub zero at night.  We have both ended up with two new additions.

  • Exped Synmat 7 UL (S) mats from  Mountain Equipment.  These are super lightweight versions of the classic Exped. We will write up a review after the trip and let you know how they perform.  First impressions are very positive.
  • Thermolite® Reactor Liner from Sea to Summit – These are supposed to increase sleeping bag performance by 8 degrees C. Frank shot a video about  it recently and we will add it to a full review after the trip.
Lake Oberon at Dawn

Lake Oberon at Dawn - weather like we are hoping for...

We then plan a night in Hobart, a night at Freycinet Lodge and then two  at Cradle Mountain Chateau to “recover”.  It will be a great chance to write up a couple of reviews for our sister site…..

Cradle Mountain. net Tasmania

For that site, we have been playing around with a new application where you can read the  eMagazine online.

Below is the Winter edition (with a great cover shot by regular here Adam Holbrook – Tasadam)

To read the magazine on line click the cover image and it will open.
[issuu viewmode=presentation showflipbtn=true documentid=110610015658-22c3158cd234415f9d1cb2942abf840a docname=cradle_mountain_emagazine_-_winter_2011 username=Frank.T.Wall loadinginfotext=Cradle%20Mountain%20Tasmania%20-%20Winter%202011 showhtmllink=true tag=advice width=420 height=325 unit=px]

If you like what you see in the magazine, shoot over to Cradle and check out some of the articles there.  It’s not only about Cradle Mountain , we have some terrific information about exploring Tasmania.

Coming up soon

  • Georgie Bull has the final article in the Getting fit for a hiking trip series almost ready for publication
  • We are all a “twitter” at the Our Hiking Blog household as Georgie is having a sleepover with us  next week.  She had the choice of a tent in the back yard or a bedroom with an ensuite.  The softy chose the bed.  After working together online for months now it will be fantastic to catch up face to face and have a glass of wine or two.
  • A great supporter, Steve Cockburn emailed us last week.  he had a “bit of trouble” on a trip recently.  Here is a grab from his email:

Went for a big 3 dayer in remote area recently and nearly had to be rescued. Ended up being walked out due to break down. Heat stroke combined with residual flu virus in muscles . Very lucky as came close to doing some damage to heart or stroke . Thank God for my mate who looked after me and organized the evac from a very remote area. On the mend now . The article in blog on fitness really took on a new meaning

Steve is recovering ok and has offered to write up an account of this trip once his hands stop shaking….. Will be interesting reading.

  • Trixie Kemp is another reader who has very kindly written  an article about how she plans her bushwalking trips.  We initially communicated about her plans for the Overland Track and Walls of Jerusalem and where very impressed by the process she undertakes when planning a trip.  Bad Frank (sorry Trixie) has not made the time to post her excellent article and advice…… Soon we promise. It is a terrific guide.

So dear readers:

What do you have planned?

Have you been on any great trips recently?

Are you stuck in winter drudgery and dreaming of throwing on your backpack?

Shoot us a reply below and get it off your collective chests!

Image:  apurdam (Andrew) via Flickr


  1. Jenny & Jaye Tompkins says

    Hi Frank & Sue,
    Hope you have a terrific trip. Am sure you will love the exped sleeping mats, we don’t have the lightweight ones but they were worth the extra weight in Tassie – really comfy and warm. The kids could not believe when we pulled them out of our packs, we told them they could save up and buy their own!!!

    Your blog on Blue Waterholes was great. We are doing the Main Range walk after Xmas so we will have a side trip to have a look.

    We are looking forward to your post after the trip and I am glad that you talked Frank into spoiling you after the big walk. Have a great time.
    Jenny, Jaye and the Kids

  2. Simone Z says

    Hi Frank,

    Fascinating post full of goodies! I look forward to hearing about your trip. Have a great time!

    You asked what people’s walking plans are. This weekend we are doing a half day walk in Warrandyte and next weekend the circuit incorporating the Kokoda memorial steps (as described in the last issue of Great Walks magazine). However, the most exciting thing on the horizon is that bookings for the Overland track this summer open on Friday. After reading your blog and book I can’t wait to walk it!

    • Frank says

      Hey Simone,
      Thanks for dropping by!
      Good luck with grabbing your preferred OT dates. It is a great trip, feet are itchy to do it again soon – middle daughter has not done it so we could take her as a great excuse!

      Keep us informed of how you a go. We’d love to know.

  3. says

    The Lake Oberon trip looks like it boasts superb scenery if the weather cooperates. I’ll cross my fingers for you. We have nice long days now so hoping to kayak this weekend though ferry traffic is a nightmare on long weekends.

    • Frank says

      Hi Leigh,
      Thanks for trying to influence the weather gods. It does not look too bad, rainy first day or two then the odd shower. It’s about as good as you can expect in that part of the world. Happy you are happy with the long days , hope you get a paddle.

  4. Sarina says

    We’ve just returned from Indonesia where we managed to include a hike to Mt Semeru on Java. Very worthwhile, although wished we’d brought our down sleeping bags from home instead of hiring. Freezing! Imagine being cold in Indonesia??
    Can’t wait to hear the review on the sleeping sheet – an extra 8 degrees would have been o-so-appreciated.
    Cheers, Sarina

  5. Bill says

    Hi Frank & Sue,
    Enjoy your blog with all the bits of news and gear reviews. Will be interesting to hear your report on the Exped. First saw these in our local Outdoor shop in Heathmont, tried it in the store and found it very comfortable. My wife & I are heading down to Tassie around middle of October to do the Overland. As she likes abit of padding between her and the ground, I did some searching on the net and found a website for an outdoor place in the UK. As the dollar is very strong at the moment it work at cheaper to buy form them online It was a hit with my wife who tried it laying on our tiled floor. Very easy to inflate. I now felt it was safe to purchase one for myself, my reason being my back is not as young as it once was. Will be doing a couple of overnight walks over the next 2 months as preparation for Tassie so will keen to try them out in the field. The website for the UK company is Cost for the Exped 7s in US $182.58. Was doing a search for some dehydrating recipes and came across this website, you and other readers might be interested. Full of great tips and easy to follow.

    • Frank says

      Hi Bill, thanks for the great reply and information. We got the Exped mats from Mountain Equipment in Oz for a very good price including freight( which is often the killer if you get stuff from overseas)

      Will do a full review in them when we get home from Tassie but the Exped Synmat UL’s were absolutely brilliant. The guy we went with is getting one, always a good recommendation……

      Have a fantastic OT trip.

      Frank and Sue

  6. Bill says

    Hi Frank, I don’t know if you have come across this online shopping site for outdoor gear. Its website is They have a full range of Exped mats for sale, the price for the Downmat 7s has been maked down from $209.95 to $149.95 not a bad saving. Free shipping Australia wide. The downmats are abit heavier than the Synmats but have a higher R value, 3.1 vs 5.9 at the end of the day it comes down to personal prefence and also the debate Syn vs Down. It will great to hear your full report on the performace of the mat.

    • Frank says

      Hey Bill,
      Have certainly heard of the site……. 😉 , thanks for the heads up.

      Will do a full report soonish. Have already shot a video “out of the package” , just have to add a few notes regarding performance.

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