17 Down Under:
17 DOWN UNDER. "A celebration of moderate grade climbing in Victoria". 184 pages. 285 images. Father & son team, Steve & John Morris, embark on a journey to climb and photograph 50 of the best rock climbs in Victoria, grade 17 & under. Inc bookmark $50.00
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|Another Boring Straddie TR
||Friday, 30 March 2012 At 11:07:53 AM
|Ok here we go. After a bunch of weird shit here is the unedited version of Damo's (One Day Hero) Stradbroke Island TR.
'Making Dreams Come True'.......
Firstly, a list of things which I despise!
-The idea of internet dating
-Clusterf---ed trips with too many people, making it impossible to get things done
-Cliche ridden stories where everything works out for the best and the jaded character finds redemption
-People doing stuff “for a cause”
It's raining properly now. Rain like you only get in Queensland during summertime, hard and warm and sideways. There's a fat bloke outside trying to hold down the corner of a shadesail which has torn loose in the squall, he's not having much luck.
I lean my head against the fogged window and sneak a glance around the car. What the hell am I doing here? This is a stupid idea. Why did I open my big mouth? I blame Dan! Actually I blame Dan and Clinton and my big mouth, but Clinton is in the other 4wd and right now I'm looking at the back of Dan's neck, so I blame him.
Dan has flown up from Melbourne with a conscience. I've read about those things, so I'm familiar with the concept. People with a conscience will often make the leap from “someone should do something” to “I should do something”.......strange, I know. He has his neck craned to the side, and his temple is touching the roof of the car. That's because Dan may be the tallest, skinniest person I've ever met. In the half an hour that I've known Dan I've already learned; that he's a retired professional juggler, he has a young daughter from a one night stand, and he used to ride turtles.
Clinton started it all. “I'm having trouble getting the slack out of my Tyrolean rope.” “Has anyone got any suggestions?” Clint has Asperger's and a sense of adventure, I'm not sure which one gets him into more trouble. In between running a one man window cleaning business in Ipswich and terrorising the amateur radio scene, Clinton has acquired a taste for extreme sports. He has a dream to do a Tyrolean traverse (tyro) across the fabled gorge on the north eastern tip of Stradbroke Island. Clinton is quiet and thoughtful and seems to be modelling his stubble and squint on Dirty Harry. He hasn't been into rope sports all that long.
“You'll be right”, I said, “It's just that you haven't learned the skills yet. Maybe find someone experienced to help you”. “Someone should help this bloke get across his zawn” I said (with my big mouth). Dan (and his conscience) said “you should help this bloke get across his zawn”, “we should help this bloke”.........it grew its own legs from there.
So that's how I've ended up here. Sitting in a convoy of 2 4wd's crammed with gear and strangers, staring at the back of Dan's elongated and craned neck, trying to make small talk as we wait for the Stradbroke Island ferry to arrive.
We've relocated to the scungy passenger cabin on the ferry. Outside are mangroves, brownish sea and rain. Inside, the small talk continues. There's something naggingly pathetic about a bunch of middle aged climbers, who met on the internet, sitting close together on plastic chairs and playing the 'getting to know you' game. Reminds me of the group bonding shit which seemed to be all the rage while I was in school. I feel like passing out pens and asking people to “break into pairs for 2 minutes, then tell us everything you've learned about your new best buddy” Vomit!
Stuart and Simon flew up from Melbourne with Dan. They know each other from the old days at Araps in the 80's, but have gone in rather opposite directions since then.
Stuart pursued climbing intensely for fifteen years, put up some beautiful (and difficult) routes at Moonarie, obsessed, travelled, wrote passionate and clever stories about the sport, then quit cold turkey. He's now married with two kids, and its his birthday today. As far as his wife knows, he's catching up with old climbing mates...........how could he tell her that “Instead of spending my birthday with my family, I'm going to Queensland with a bunch of wierdo's I met on the internet, in order to string a random bloke across a gorge”, without it sounding selfish and dumb? Stuart looks nervous, unsure of how to act amongst this group of strangers. I reckon, from the look on his face, that he also thinks this thing is a huge mistake. Stuart has one simple request, he would like to keep the event low profile. “We don't want to end up on the evening news!” Maybe he's worried that his wife will be watching.
Simon is a minor celebrity in the Australian climbing scene. Author of guidebooks and magazine articles. Never good enough to be famous for his skill on rock, but always involved, always in the frame. He didn't bothered to quit climbing, but just lingered around in Natimuk and kind of drifts in and out of the scene in a non-committal way. In fact, if I had to choose a hyphenated word to describe Simon, non-committal would be it. He opened the Nati cafe , but can't commit to running it. He has started relationships with all sorts of fantastic women, but can't commit to any of those either. The only things he seems really committed to are small town afl, and pursuing casual relationships with many more fantastic women. He's one of the friendliest, most easy going people I know. I'm glad that Simon has joined us, for two reasons. Firstly, he owns a camera and apparently knows how to make films. This w/e is likely to yield a good story. Secondly, Simon is pretty level. Not in that annoying, positive about everything, 'Christian on Prozac' way though. He never gets too excited, never too down, and is willing to call “bullshit” when things are.......bullshit.
I have a great idea for a film we could make during this adventure, involving characters who are exaggerated versions of ourselves, and a doco within a doco. Simon calls “bullshit”!
Back in the four wheel drives, we disembark the ferry. As we wind along the twisting road over to the ocean side to check out the gorge, it's really pissing down again. “The gorge”. I'm prepared to be unimpressed. Probably just a sheltered, narrow little inlet between headlands, bound to be at least half as high and half as wide as has been described by the over enthusiastic locals. At the carpark, we pile out into the rain and wind. Stuart and Dan let on that they haven't brought anything warmer than tee-shirts. They hadn't imagined that summer in Queensland could resemble anything other than a holiday brochure. A couple of minutes along the planked walkway leads us to a viewing platform, and I'm........impressed. The gorge is wide, the cliffs are tall, and the surf is pumping. For a first time tyro-er, Clinton sure has an eye for a line! Speaking of which, he looks nervous. Hardly surprising, I'm feeling a bit jittery now, and I'm supposedly experienced at this sort of thing.
One of the things Dan and I had discussed over the phone was what to do if Clinton didn't feel up to it on the day. My suggestion had been handcuffs and a haulbag, Dan's more compassionate approach is that you can't pressure someone into doing things. If Clint isn't feeling right, we'll have to respect that. It's the big question mark of the trip. For most of the group, this won't be the most extreme adventure we've ever undertaken. For Clinton, it will be. By an order of magnitude.
The weather is getting us down, no sign of it clearing and we can't afford to leave things to the last minute. The decision is made that we must go out and rig by Saturday afternoon at the latest, even if the downpour continues. We'll still get it done, but everyone knows it'll be far from enjoyable. Since Dan appears to be getting hypothermia in his drenched singlet, we adjourn to the pub for dinner, then to the rental house for drinks and bullshit.
By time two cases of beer have been emptied everyone has started to relax and open up. I'm surprised yet again by how much commo
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