She Who Must Be Obeyed and I are members of the local U3A walking Group. U3A stands for ‘University of the Third Age’ and offers courses and activities of those of us of mature age or putting it more bluntly, oldies.
A month or so back, the U3A Committee decided to add Rambling to the existing weekly walking program in order to present gentle challenges to our walks and reintroduce us to the beauty of our bush and countryside.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary describes the word Ramble as,’Walk for pleasure and without definite route.’
Now Occupation Health and Safety requirements have crept into every nook and cranny of our lives here in The Land Down Uunder, and its presence in the U3A was clearly demonstrated to us a couple of Sundays ago on the first ‘offical’ U3A trial Ramble.
Our ramble began at a spot just out of town and next to our main general cemetery. Having regard to our cumulative age I had a bit of a laugh to myself when our leader advised that this would be our finishing point.
Off we went up a gentle incline en route to the start of a bush track to take us up to a Trig point located at the top of a stand out hill.
At the top of this little incline there was a dirt track leading upwards towards the as yet unseen Trig Station.
There was a nice open space at the start of the track and it was here that our leader introduced the presence of OH & S to our Ramble.
Firstly we had to wear our U3A name tags. Secondly, sign the attendance book and thirdly agree to indemnify the U3A against any misfortune that could befall us on any ramble.
Then we were all introduced to two electronic marvels purchased by the U3A to ensure our safety and well being in the event of a disaster befalling any member of the group whilst on a ramble.
The first marvel was a Garmin GPSMAP64s. This small GPS can access not only the navigation satellites of the Unites States of America but also those of the Soviet Union.
It’s a powerful little gadget loaded with every 1:25,000 contour map of Australia and New Zealand. These maps contain particulars of every road, street, track and town and are reproduced, on command on the gadget’s colour screen with zoom available for greater detail. One of the handiest features of this GPS is its capacity to identify and navigate to the location of the nearest coffee shop.
Next came the EPIRB. This little Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, when activated, connects with the International Standard Rescue System. The location of the beacon is then relayed to the emergency services and help is despatched from the nearest and relevant service, e.g., Police, Ambulance, SES, FireBrigade and so on.
There is a strict protocol in place for use of EPIRBS and misuse attracts a very, very heavy financial penalty.
Fortunately, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I have navigated in the outback for many years with the assistance of our Magellan GPS.
During our sea kayaking days we always carried an EPIRB and again, are familiar with its proper use and the penalties misuse attracts. Fortunately we have never been really lost.
Anyway, after introduction to these aids, we set off uphill through the trees following the directions provided by the leader’s Garmin GPS.
Everyone enjoyed the first ramble and I decided on the spot that humping the Nikon D810 plus its battery pack and two lenses, together with a day pack containing my rain gear, water, a first aid kit and a bit of tucker was a bit too much of a load for an old bloke like me.
Henceforth I’m going to leave the pack, rain gear, first aid kit and tucker at home and just slip the water bottle onto my belt.
By doing so, I’ll be able to comfortably take the essential elements of a successful ramble, to wit, my Nikon camera gear, on our next ramble.
Hoo roo for now