Reaching Base Camp and standing at an altitude of 5,364 metres (17.599 feet) above sea level is euphoric, even with severely depleted energy levels and having to gasp for every breath. And it was a bitter-sweet moment, with only my son AJ and I to savour the victory: - my daughter Alex having been airlifted out by rescue helicopter the previous afternoon with Acute Mountain Sickness.
Few people know about the Simien, let alone travel there, and while the snows of Mt Kilimanjaro may be the true ‘roof of Africa’, the Simien Mountains are certainly a worthy challenger.Yes, there are mountains in Ethiopia… in fact, a lot of Ethiopia is actually mountainous highlands, and a large percentage is also fertile grazing and farming land, which is perhaps counter to what most people think.
When I head off on one of my solo 'shut-off from work' holidays away from the station after a tourist season of hard work, you can forget lazing around on a beach, reading books or sipping cocktails. Following months of planning (and some regular training thrown in for good measure), I like nothing more than to take a break and put my feet up.... usually on the side of a mountain in some far off, remote location.
My daughter Alex and I were mesmerized by pretty much everything in Morocco .... It is incredibly diverse in almost every sense of the word: geographically, ethnically, racially, linguistically and culturally... a real melting pot of languages, tribes, rich, poor, city slickers and country peasants.
It was at an Outback Tourism conference in Lightning Ridge, of all places, that I met two West African brothers and musicians, now living and working in Australia, and my mind immediately began formulating just how I could incorporate their next workshop in their home village of Senegal into my 2011 African Adventure – a summit attempt of Mt Kilimanjaro followed by a safari through some of Tanzania's best known wildlife sanctuaries.
Come Spring each year and it's time to sell last years whether lambs. What's a whether you ask? A whether lamb is a castrated male lamb. (and for future reference a ewe is a female sheep, rams are the male stud breeding sheep and a stag is an incorrectly castrated male sheep ... who still has one testicle.)
I guess you could consider this the beginning of my 'mid life crisis'; I'm sure that's how my conservative 5th and 6th generation farming neighbours and family looked at it. I didn't', and still don't see it that way. Gary and I were very content and firmly rooted to our plot of earth on the Darling River; our four kids had either flown the coup or were at boarding school (yes, my 17 years doing School of the Air with them were long gone, thank God); and the Farmstay venture was allowing me a little more freedom, moneywise, after ten years of drought.