Location: Dunn's Swamp
24.09.2009 - 27.09.2009 15 °C
Project Ledger was the brain-child of a young Optus visionary; an occasion for a few of the boys to get together and catch some fish. But as the project developed and escalated, it became apparent that Ledger would become a full-strength, carbo-loaded “Man-Camp”.
The full primer can be read here, but rest assured that apart from a few simple rules to follow, all men were free to express themselves in any way that felt natural.
1) In the event of a dispute, the Ledger-Dice has the final say
(The Ledger Dice is a 6-Sided dice with our faces on each side)
2) There was to be no spooning or ‘excessive’ male nudity
3) What happens on Ledger… stays on Ledger…
Thursday: We're off to Man-Camp
We had an anxious day at work, kind of like a bunch of kids on Christmas eve (actually.. exactly like that), but when 3pm rolled along we were out the door.
After some repacking, we took 2 cars, and headed out for a 4hour journey, making a brief (but significant) stop for petrol. If you read the primer linked earlier, there were 3 items that no man was allowed to bring: Shavers, Women’s Products & Bananas. Something Russ had forgotten as he sat in the service station, munching on a ripe banana…as Chau’s jaw hit the floor… Russ realised his fopar, and literally spat it into the bin, but the damage was done.. of course you would know that bananas are the source of terribly bad luck for fishermen.
As the night wore on, the boys excitedly chattering in the car, and we were already well beyond mobile coverage range when we drove into Dunn’s Swamp (our destination), on a dark and very remote dirt road. This is where we met our first local, in the form of a giant kangaroo that darted for the headlights of Chau’s car, glancing the car with his tail as the car swerved to the right. It was the first of many animals we saw on that road, including 2 chubby grey wombats, a brush-tailed possum and a bouncing bunny rabbit, it was a clear sign that we had well and truly escaped the city.
We arrived safe and sound, and expecting the area to ourselves, were a bit surprised to see a camp full of teenage girls from a nearby Christian society… kind of like one of those scenes from National Lampoons Vacation, but without Chevy Chase. A few of the ledger boys were keen to learn more about the gospel, but the old-heads wisely whisked the group off to find their own piece of paradise and solitude.
The campsite we chose was great, nestled into the rockface, and close to the waters edge, and we had it all to ourselves, but since it was 10pm and already dark, we decided we could just share 1 tent for the night (in hindsight.. a grave error), and got to fire-making and drinking.
Now I should point out that for me this trip was a little bit special, it had been over 20 years since I had seen the inside of a tent, so obviously my camping skills were.. um.. a bit rusty. Mix that with an an absolute obsession for watching survival shows like: Survivorman & Man vs Wild, and lets just say that I came fully prepared with a Survival Kit, First-Aid Kit & SAS Survival Handbook. I was emotionally ready to do what it took to survive, including trapping possums and rabbits, eating witchetty grubs or creating fire with 2 sticks.
I started out by volunteering to make the fire, using my magnesium fire stick (ordered from the internet obviously), and 20 minutes later I was beginning to realise that some of these outdoor techniques weren’t quite as easy as they look on TV… so I gave up & switched to a lighter. Thankfully our survival was not resting on my ability to make fire, and eventually we got it burning, and the celebrations begun.
The men’s morale was high that night, with man beers, wine and spirits, but as the night wore on, I started to realise my second survival fopar.. it gets reeeeeally cold in the mountains, it actually broke 0 degrees that night, and I was thankful I had at least bought a jumper to go with my shorts and thongs..
Later after we squeezed 5 men into the single tent, and the inevitable hyjinx that ensued, we attempted to get to sleep, but of course we couldn’t due to the extreme cold, and a few structural issues with said tent. As the night rolled on, and we craved any form of warmth.. I looked over and realised that we had already broken one of our most basic ledger rules.
They say that survival is rarely pretty.
Friday: Ledgers take to the water
After a few hours sleep, we kicked off the day with a smoking Bacon, Egg & Sausage feast and set off to organise our canoe hire.
We hired 3x2-Man canoes and set up-river to check sights and more importantly catch fish.. after all there was a prize for best fish of the trip, and the boys were eager to prove themselves.
As the hours wore on, and our Fish Tally (FT) still registered 0, I realised that perhaps this fishing would be more challenging than we first imagined, but the upside was that at least we got to see kilometers of beautiful riverside and aboriginal carvings, and besides, we got a great upper-body work-out.
By the time we arrived back at camp, our final Ledger had arrive (Bailey), and he was already 7 beers down too.. since we had caught no dinner, we were relieved to enjoy his feast of chicken & beef satay sticks.
About that same time, a lovely young South-African couple with 2 adorable kids set up near our camp, and enjoyed a nice family dinner, they even shared some fishing tips with us, I thought we were really warming to each other, but perhaps we weren’t quite as charming as I first thought, for they made a quick exit the next morning.
I don’t know if it was Russ’s banana, but as Friday wrapped up, we still had no fish, nor anything from the yabby traps… well ok we did trap a turtle, but she was thrown back to fight another day.
Saturday: Oh Noes.. Windy
Saturday was when the winds picked up, a real shame because canoeing became flat out dangerous, and many 360’s were had as we attempted some early morning fishing, so instead we reverted to plan B.
Essay & Russ headed in to check out the nearby town of Rylestone, and the local gun store (which I didn’t even know we had in Australia), and along the way had an unfortunate indident with a Red-Bellied Black Snake, the snake lost the battle with the Subaru Forester, and it turned out to be the only snake we saw on trip, which we were kind of thankful for, as the area is teaming with poisonous brown snakes.
Bailey (aka the druid), Pankhurst & I headed onto the trails, following the river, looking for ponds to throw in surface lures, and we saw some beautiful scenery, twas a real trip highlight. It turned out the Druid was very much at one with nature, and was able to provide with great information on geology, animals and plant species. This picture is him showing us how to photograph wombats in their burrows.
We wrapped up the afternoon with a game of high-risk soccer, the ball regularly booted into trees, tents, picnic tables & centimeters from the campfire. Turned out Twinkle-Toes Russ had been a former soccer international, and with his blundstones on, was a force to be reckoned with!
A light dinner of Sausages, Lamb Fillet, Steaks, Portugese Chicken Wraps, Garden Salad & Garlic Bread, and we we settled in for our final night of drinking.
Sadly some rain kicked in, and we adjourned to the tent to finish up the night, and it was at this point that I realized that it doesn’t matter what age, nothing bonds males like excessive flatulence.
Sunday: Bon Voyage Ledgeroonies
Sunday morning was a bit vague, I lay in my sleeping bag while Matt woke me with his ‘signature’ predator vs alien sound effects, and the next thing I knew, my good friends had let the tent down on my head… But it didn’t matter, it was time to pack up and head back to our beloved Optus.
So I guess you look back on a trip like this, and think, what did we learn?
• We learnt that men are simple creatures, and while mankind has evolved, you still can’t beat a good fart gag.
• We learnt that when Bear Grylls jumps in a frozen lake.. pumps out 20 pushups, then spends the rest of the night in a cave dug out of snow, that his feats should not be emulated by the rest of us pathetic mortals.
• We learnt that freshwater fishing is an art-form, and that our skills should not be relied upon to put dinner on the table. We also learnt not to eat bananas!
Until Ledger 2.0,