Melissa Herbert – bucket list

Here is another inspirational bucket list from Melissa in Tasmania:

  1. Overseas holiday by myself 
  2. Swim with dolphins
  3. Find a true love that is deep, with a soul connection and be happy
  4. Find the person/procedure that is going to fix my Brodie boy
  5. Honeymoon in Hawaii
  6. Get at least one more tattoo (4 all up)
  7. Own a German shepherd again like I did as a child
  8. Skydive or parasail or both
  9. Own/have shares in a successful horse
  10. Attend a Melbourne cup
  11. See both my boys marry and have kids
  12. Do a job from home that incorporates the things I love doing
  13. Cuddle a tiger cub
  14. Do a lifeline course and volunteer
  15. Watch a sunrise with a champagne breakfast in a hot air balloon
  16. Travel to south America
  17. Write in some form, be it song lyrics, greeting cards, a book or biography
  18. Be present at the birth of someone’s baby
  19. Get onto “Deal or no Deal” and win big money
  20. Always manage to work part time so I get to enjoy life with less stress
  21. See the swannies win at least 5 premierships (2 down)
  22. See a white Christmas
  23. Be pampered for a whole day and just soak it up
  24. Dinner on the beach at sunset eating lobster, prawns and drinking cocktails
  25. Have a huge bunch of orange roses sent to me on my birthday
  26. Skinny dip in beautiful warm ocean at night
  27. Sunbake nude and just not care!
  28. Have someone name something after me ( a wine, their child, an artwork, a planet?)
  29. Have a huge 40th birthday party with a really fun twist/theme
  30. Make love in the rain
  31. To take my kids to as many places in Australia as possible
  32. Learn/try/get better at gardening
  33. Live close to the beach
  34. Spend some time in Vegas
  35. Drive a firetruck
  36. Ride an elephant
  37. Drive a hummer and dodge viper (even just test drive)
  38. Travel to Switzerland and Ireland

Return to Your bucket list

Ama Dablam, the big decision

“We don’t want any adventures here, thank you!…nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!” – The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien.

grey Ama Dablam, the big decisionI have been wanting to mention the expedition for five days but needed time to gather my thoughts and weigh up the pros and cons before worrying Jette.

Saturday night rolls around, I have been going backwards and forwards in my mind about this trip and really cannot make a decision.

Pros versus cons versus pros versus cons…grey Ama Dablam, the big decision

We are on a tram heading home after a lavish Korean dinner with some friends. I really did not mean to mention it so casually while surrounded by drunken people loudly discussing football. It kind of just slipped out.

“So, I got a message from Mal the other day…”

Immediately I have Jette’s full attention. I can almost see her ears pricking up. She knows what a message from Mal means.

“Which mountain?” She asks with a half chuckle.

“Nepal again,” I reply almost sheepishly, “Ama Dablam.”

“Okay, how high? What’s the deal?” Jette asks, now in full information gathering mode.

“Well, it’s around 6500 meters high, so lower than Manaslu but more of a climbing challenge.” I feel like a used car dealer but forge on, “the plan is to warm up on a few trekking peaks on the way in.”

grey Ama Dablam, the big decisionI’m honestly not sure if I can justify nicking off for 6 weeks, nor if I am up to the challenge.

“So what is the death rate?” Jette asks in a businesslike tone as if she were asking what’s for breakfast.

“No idea, ummm, much lower than Manaslu. I reckon,” Is my unconvincing reply.

Jette whips out her smart phone and starts tapping away.

“Right, so Manaslu is 2.77%, that sounds about right from memory, Everest is 1.52 and Ama Dablam, oh, only 0.43, that seems okay.”

“Yeah, seems weird googling death rates on a Melbourne Tram hey,” I chuckle, making light grey Ama Dablam, the big decisionof the situation.

“That’s for sure,” Jette replies with a wry smile. “So, main question, do you want to do it?”

“Dunno really. The timing is great, it is a mountain I have always wanted to climb and it could be a good carrot after finishing this management course.”

“True,” Jette nods. “Seems like a no brainer, go for it if you want.”

“Yeah, it does seem a no brainer, I’ll think it over for a few more days…” I lean over for a smooch, “Love you.”

grey Ama Dablam, the big decisionI honestly do love that girl. After all that I have put her through she still encourages and supports my need for adventure. Jette even said vows to that effect when we got married in March. “I promise to continue to accept and support your need to go off adventuring…within reason of course…” The ‘within reason’ excludes BASE jumping. Being a lawyer you would think that Jette would have worded that covenant far more carefully. We have a running joke about how I constantly try to find, and exploit, loopholes in our unofficial but very solemn agreement. Sometimes I wake up pinching myself at how lucky I am to have her in my life. Jette has to deal with a barrage of ideas being run by her that are as close to BASE jumping as could be. Ideas like, “So, Fab* and I are going to build a kite that can carry a person…I have this great idea involving a hot air balloon thing…Fab and I have this great idea for this bridge jump…” Currently Jette has (half) jokingly put a ban on Fab and I using the word ‘idea’ in any sentence…anyway back to the mountain story.

*Fabio or Fab is a great friend of mine and my main co-conspirator when it comes to stupid, but really fun ideas.  

grey Ama Dablam, the big decisionWhen climbers write about their exploits they regularly forget to mention the people at home. Last time on Manaslu while descending we didn’t update the blog for a few days as the route had changed so dramatically, due to beautiful sunshine we enjoyed on the ascent, that we were not really sure when or how we would get down to base camp. As my emergency contact Jette suffered terribly during this silence. Whenever her phone rang she thought it would be bad news. Jette’s situation was not helped by a work colleague who spent half an hour explaining in gory detail why the descent is the most dangerous part. By the time I called Jette from base camp (by the way her phone showed “Ben-emergency phone” and caused her to rush out of an important meeting in tears) it took me a few minutes with my grey Ama Dablam, the big decisionsunburnt tongue, altitude affected voice, crappy satellite reception and fatigued voice to convince her that I was really me and that I was completely safe and everything was okay. “I love you and will be home soon.”

Previously whilst acclimatising there were days when Mal and I were relaxing in the tent, eating Snickers bars, doing Suduko challenges and casually growing more red blood cells. I figured that it would be silly to send an email with no news but later learnt that Jette was imagining random rock falls and other calamities during these times of no contact. No news is not always good news.

Over the next few days I grapple with why I would want to freeze my ass off, scare myself silly, put my system through high altitude torture for weeks and cause my loved ones concern just to climb a silly mountain. Jette and I have settled in a grey Ama Dablam, the big decisioncomfortable home near the beach, all my high altitude gear has been shipped back from Nepal and packed away and I have been considerate enough to grow a decent belly for Jette to snuggle up to during movies. We have plans for the future which involve our own business, a house, maybe kids. A settled life. I am really happy with where I am and look towards our future with puppy-like glee. Why don’t I just go to a tropical island and have my hair done in those fetching little plaits?

Genetics. Maybe this is all a quirk of genetics. My father suffers a similar condition. He regularly nicks off into the Tasmanian bush to trek and explore only to return with cuts, bruises and more recently, a dislocated pointer finger. Dad is approaching 70 and continues to be a seemingly unstoppable force. Mum has always said that she would rather tolerate this than be married to a boring slob drinking away his life in front of the television. I am inclined to agree, but can only hope that Jette’s understanding continues as long as mum’s has for dad. Early indications are hopeful.

grey Ama Dablam, the big decisionFreeze frame. Research suggests that voyeurs record things not always for a sexual kick but because they fear the passage of time. Maybe there is something in this. Before I had done any climbs I used to read books about mountains – a lot – and formed the misguided opinion that people who climb do it solely for those few moments at the top. I have met a few people like that, but honestly they are completely missing the point. I certainly remember the feeling when we ran out of ‘up’ and turned around to see the whole world splayed out like some surrealist painting. More important I remember moments; when Soph and I made a stupid film dedicating the expedition to ‘The Foundation for Land Rights for Gay Dolphins’; when Mal and I played thin air guitar on the trek in; Norbu, the cook’s assistant’s boyish glee when I gave him my ice axe as a present; my first proper shower in 7 weeks…freeze frame, full definition, never to be forgotten moments. This is the big attraction for me. To step away from the ordinary and to bathe in the stunning clarity of those moments, the friendships and the memories.

grey Ama Dablam, the big decisionSo anyway, cutting to the chase. Am I going?

You know how couples often have children around two years apart? I reckon this is due, in large part, to the fact that two years is about how long it takes for a mother to forget the anguish of childbirth and for her to start looking back with happy, misty eyes at baby photos, small booties and tiny cribs. To forget the pain that baby’s big head caused. Guess how long it has been since Mal and I last swung on ropes together?


Recently I have been finding myself looking over Nepal photos with happy, misty grey Ama Dablam, the big decisioneyes so, to use a metaphor I’ll regret, I guess my vagina has healed. With the full support of my lovely wife (who may just be looking for a break from my ‘ideas’) I am off on another adventure in October.

I will keep you updated and plan to blog all the way in and up as long as we can arrange the technology.

For now it is time to hit the gym, this belly is not going to fix itself!

Paragliding at Bright

grey Paragliding at Bright


A short video diary of my recent weekend paragliding at Bright with my mate Juan and some very cool freaks!


grey Paragliding at Bright

Melbourne Formula 1

Melbourne Formula 1

A few weeks ago I was riding my motorbike to work, nothing out of the ordinary there. I had just cut between the lanes to the front of the lights when I heard an unbelievable humming sound. It sounded like an angry hornet and kept getting increasingly louder at an alarming rate. I looked around frantically and not without some concern as it sounded like I was about to be rear ended in a spectacular fashion by some kind of superbike on steroids. The sound kept on getting louder until it passed by to my left with a roar. When the sound dimmed, leaving my teeth chattering, I realised that I had just heard my first ever Formula One car in person.The little bogan* in me was dancing around, grinning, with a massive car-stiffie, that engine sounded otherworldly.

My commute goes right past Albert Park, the road around the lake is normally a sedate amble past a large duck filled pond, for a few week of the year it is turned into a Formula one track for the Melbourne Grand Prix. Scaffolding is put up for the stands and workers busily make the road smooth and set out tyre barriers. The transformation is quite spectacular….not as spekky as the race though.

Whilst at work that day I was chatting with a colleague Jan about these amazing vehicles and she mentioned that her apartment overlooks the lake and asked if I would like to come to her F1 Party…”hell yeah Jan!”

Fast forward to sunday of St Patricks day, I am walking to Jan’s place, past green adorned pubs spilling embarrassingly drunk patrons and following my ears towards the track. Jan’s building if right on the southern corner of Albert park overlooking the lake, from her 14th storey balcony you can see five corners (about 1/3 of the track). Arriving a little before the race I cracked a bourbon can and watched a concerned circle of ducks huddling in the middle of the lake as they tried to figure out what to do next. The F1 Cars did their warm up laps as we watched a brilliantly choreographed flight by the Air Force roulettes, then an F14, F16 16 or some kind of big, loud war planes buzzed over close by. The intimidating array of (empty) bomb holders under the wing along with the noise made my very glad that he was on our team. I missed the race start as I got into a heavy discussion with a friendly, purple haired lady about sustainable energy solutions for Australia (don’t ask).

To give you all an indication of how damn close we were to the action check this little Tv to track film I threw together:


As you can hear, even from that far away the sound of these impossible machines is ear splitting. The ducks had all fled leaving a few confused seagulls on the lake. From our vantage point we could see both the track and a highway, note how the F1 cars make the normal cars seemingly stand still.


About half an hour later I had seen enough, my little inner, dancing bogan had collapsed from exhaustion and I headed for home. Sadly towards the end all I could think about was how cool it would be to fly a motorised Paraglider over the whole show next year…gawd that would annoy a few people!



*Bogan – (Adapted from wikipedia) The term bogan is Australian and New Zealand slang, usually pejorative or self-deprecating, for an individual who is recognised to be from an unsophisticated background or someone whose limited education, speech, clothing, attitude and behaviour exemplifies a lack of manners and education. They hold a deep love of motor sport, wheelies and tuck their cigarettes under their sleeve while drinking bourbon from a can and swearing profusely. 

Fun times paragliding Torquay

As a beginner pilot I need the perfect conditions to go paragliding torquay. If the wind is too strong I may not get down easily and conversely if the wind is too low I may not get up! I also need a low tide so I can ‘bomb out’ down to the beach. Consequently I get to spend a lot of time para-waiting, that is sitting around watching more experienced pilots having fun whilst keeping my fingers crossed for the perfect conditions. Example; yesterday the wind was okay for me to fly in but there was a very high tide and, being something of a conservative pilot, I do not like flying without a second landing option.

Anyway, in lieu of me flying here a a nice little video I smashed together of some good friends having fun in the sky…enjoy

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This business partnership has expired.” Ben has no idea what adventures are in store when he sets out to discover what lies over that next mountain.

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