VIC Wilsons Promontory 2014 Granite gorging.

Gussy paddles with his mum
Wilsons Promontory April 2014.
I have a love affair with granite. When my girls were babies, we frequently did daywalks in Cathedral Rocks National Park (NSW) with its granite tors the size of large buildings. As youngsters, they cut their orienteering teeth on the granite country surrounding Stanthorpe (QLD), Namadgi National Park (ACT) and Kooyoora State Park (VIC) … and then we moved to Tasmania, where the orienteering north of St Helens is characterised by more wonderful granite. We all dearly love this rock, primarily because of the shapely tors that greet you as you move through the forest – round bulges, sentinels of the bushland. They’re also fun to navigate around, or to climb up and over, or to jump from one to another.

Coastal granite is particularly marvellous, as the white sand it generates produces beaches of a magic colour, whether one is thinking of the sand itself, or of the special blue of the translucent water that accompanies it. We adore Magnetic Island, Wilsons Promontory and, closer to home, the Bay of Fires and Freycinet Peninsula – all for the same reason.

My daughters seem to share my passion, so we were all very happy when my first born asked if we could spend our family Easter at Wilsons Promontory this year. We’d stay at a nearby beach, and walk and swim during the day. Who says “No” to such a request? Not us. Toddler Gussy could play on the beach while the adults in relay combinations could run up mountains and along the tracks of the Prom.

Kirsten on Mt Oberon
The forecast for Friday (Anzac day) was excellent, so Kirsten and I got up in the dark and drove to the Prom for dawn photography, and then had a wonderful run up and down Mt Oberon. I really, really love running up mountains, and don’t get much opportunity to do it these days, so revelled in the chances this holiday gave me to pursue my old ways. The mountains of Europe that were my competing arena in bygone days are, of course, much steeper and longer, but these ones are still fun and pose a pleasant challenge. There is something very liberating about running up a mountain. We had set out nice and early, so enjoyed wonderful lighting from the top, and had the whole mountain to ourselves.
Coastal view, Oberon.
Back at Sandy Point, while Gussy was playing with his mum and the others were surfing, I went for another run, this time on the beach, as it had only taken 25 mins to run up Mt Oberon, and much less down, so I was feeling under-exercised. As I turned around on the return journey I saw a little dot in the distance that grew rapidly as I ran towards it. It was two-year-old Gussy (pursued by his Poppa) running towards me in that quaint style toddlers have, his little legs whirring, his arms flapping for balance. We calculated he ran about two kilometres that day. His face was aglow with excitement as he ran into my arms. Now he was doing what all the adults do, and he was very happy.
K, back down on Squeaky Beach
That afternoon my other daughter and my husband wanted some exercise, so we went back into the Prom and did a fast stride out up Mt Bishop. Again, the lighting was magic, as we’d waited until nearly sunset to do it. It was great to clamber up the summit tor and sit on top and gaze at the beaches below.
Whisky Bay and Picnic Bay, on the way to Mt Bishop

The next day the weather had turned, so my second daughter and I just did a flat run parrallel to the beach: 40 mins in howling gale-force winds and rain. In the afternoon, I persuaded the other adults to run along a track on the coast in the Prom while Yelena minded a sleeping Gus (who, of course, woke up to find us gone yet again). This was a ‘rest day’ as we were to run up another mountain on the morrow. Out we set into the punishing winds on the 12 km coastal track. It was exhilarating.

View from Mt Bishop
My husband and our second daughter on top of Mt Bishop.

The track was pretty protected up until a high point called Lookout Rocks, from where we could gaze out at an expansive purview. I didn’t like what I saw of the continuation of our route: a nose dive down to sea level and along to the point … which meant we’d need to run back up the slippery dip on the return journey. I feared it was too steep to run, given the amount I’d already done in the last couple of days. On we went in the magnificently moody weather. It reminded me of running on the headlands of Emerald Beach in the cyclone last year. The sea below was surging in giant hillocks of water, all churned white from the wind. The lighting was a yellowy-grey. Surprisingly, I did manage to run the return journey, as did my daughter and her husband, so we were all happy.

Keith and I on the track

Keith and I stop to take a look at the view below. It seemed a long way to go down and then back up again at the end of a full day.
The sun came out for about 5 seconds – just long enough for me to grab Kirsten’s camera and take this


Kirsten running up boulders at Tongue Pt
The next morning we decided not to get up in the dark. Poor Gussy had woken up from every sleep to find that some of the people he loves (and always his Nanna) had gone running. This day we ‘d have breakfast together and then run while he played on the beach. He appeared in my bed in the dark at 6 a.m., fully expecting me to be getting on my running clothes. “I’m VERY, very fast, Nanna,” he announced. He was obviously angling for inclusion in today’s expedition. He whirred his tiny legs around to demonstrate. I said I’d run up mountains with him when he gets bigger, and he was happy enough with that, although not entirely appeased.
Yelena back down on Squeaky beach after the mountain. The sun has now come back out.

On this day, it was my second daughter who was going to run skywards with me, and we’d chosen Mt Bishop to be our mountain, as we’d only walked up it so far. The weather was murky, and we already had photos from the top, so for the first time we ran without the burden of cameras. Nice!

… and then we did some beach and headland running while Bruce surfed
As with Mt Oberon, we were at the top in under half an hour, so made up the ullage on a track down below, between Squeaky Beach and Picnic Bay, the perfect ending to a granite beach extravaganza. My husband ran part way up and down the mountain, and had a final surf while we did the track. Farewell Prom.

Orienteering and Mountain Running – not walking, Part One

Louise Fairfax: Orienteering and Mountain Running. Part One
1989 World Orienteering Championships, Sweden 
1989 World Champs, Sweden  
1990 Asia-Pacific Champs, and World Cup events, USA and Canada (1 gold, 1 silver)
As an orienteer and mountain runner (inter alia), I have enjoyed seeing many beautiful parts of the world, and have made many very special friends. The diversity of forest and cornucopia of superlative views from an abundance of different peaks have made me very aware, not only of how extraordinarily lucky I am to have seen such things, but, and possibly more significantly, the importance of such places to the peace of our souls, as well as to the continuation of our species, and to the contribution to the happiness of those yet to come. Our world is such an amazing place – whether we are thinking of forests, rivers or the views to eternity from a mountain top. We have to fight hard to keep these dwindling places of beauty alive.
The blogsite is titled ‘walks’, and I have put in lots of those. I have always intended to add in some of our European distance walks once I had written up the Tassie ones.
Bit by bit, European sections will be added. I am not sure how to separate them from Tassie ones (and I want to keep the two facets distinct), so my first solution is to put them all as predating the walking, even though there is an overlap. Here is my first posting on European experiences, and I am beginning with some of my happiest moments as an international competitor. These photos are taken from my comp file, and not my separate training file. One thing at a time. This one is already complete, so can be posted. Perhaps these photos help contextualise some of what comes later. Who I was is an integral part of who I am still. One moves on, but never entirely away from what went on before.
1990 Trans-Tasman Champs NZ (1st)
1991 World Champs, Czech Repub
1992 Asia-Pacific Champs, Japan

1992 Asia-Pacific Champs, Japan (2 silver)

1992 IAAF World Mountain Running champs, Italy 
!992 IAAF World Mountain Running Championships. Louise Fairfax AUS 4th place.
1992 World Triathlon Champs, Canada (4th – Masters)
 1993 Internationaler Matterhornlauf 1st
1993 Schweizer Frauenlauf 
1993 World Triathlon Champs (7th Masters)
1994 World Duathlon Champs – 1st Masters
1993 IAAF World Mountain Running Champs 11th
 1994 Internationaler Matterhornlauf 2nd
1994 Swiss Alpine Marathon Sertiglauf 1st, race record
1994, Tasmanian Sportswoman of the year
1994, World Stair Racing Champs, 5th (here, training in Central park)
1994 IAAF World Mountain Running Championships GER 13th
Orienteering World Cup
1993 Swiss Alpine Marathon Sertiglauf 1st
1995 Ovranaz-Rambert 1st
1994 Swiss Alpine Marathon 1st
1995 training on  glacier, Champez du Lac, SWI

Orienteering and Mountain Running – not walking, part two

Louise Fairfax as athlete and orienteer:
Mountain Running (Athletics – IAAF) and Orienteering part two

1994 Schwarzeelauf 1st
Sierre-Zinal 1994 and 1995, both 3rd
Mountain Running World Cup, Austria
1996 IAAF World Mountain Running Championships – just pipping Germany as I head for the finish.
1996 World Cup Orienteering, SWI
Trans-Tasman Championships, Orienteering 1996
Training with my daughter, CZE
1997 IAAF World Championships, Mountain Running 13th.
1997 World Championships, coming 13th
1997 IAAF World Cup Race
1997 Sexton Race, ITA
1998 IAAF World Champs La Reunion
1999 World Champs, Malaysia

Mt Kinabalu race, Malaysia 1999

2000 Race, Klagenfurt, AUT
2000 IAAF World Championships GER
2000 World Masters, Athletics. 6 x first place
 1500 ms, 5 kms, cross country, steeple chase, half marathon and mountain running that year (second in 10 k) – all First Place.

2001 World Champs AUT

2001 Winning the World Masters by 4 mins
2000 Winning World Masters Cross Country
2002 IAAF World Championships Alaska
2002 World Masters