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Question for Aussies - water.
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Andrew :-)
(terra) - F

Locale: Sydney, Australia.
Question for Aussies - water. on 12/01/2007 16:28:38 MST Print View

I hike mainly on the Great Dividing Range (Blue Mtns, Snowy Mtns etc) and various areas along east coast NSW.

For drinking water I have an MSR Sweetwater mini filter (currently weighs 256g - could be reduced a bit more). I am interested in trying chemical treatments too.
What water treatment do you use in these or similar areas? Why?
How do you find the use of them?

C'mon fella's, I know you are out there. Thanks for any info.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Water filtration in Aus on 12/02/2007 15:41:29 MST Print View


I haven't done any walking in the Blue Mountains/coastal areas of NSW.

Most of my walking has been in SA, NT, Victoria and Tas.

In SA I never take a water filter...most of the areas and waterholes are too remote, and I am yet to hear of any contamination of Giardia or anything. Even water with dead goats or roos in it is fine to drink in my experience. May not taste that great.

Same deal in NT. In Victoria I've filtered water a couple of times-we once took an old PUR Scout filter because it was dry-and it came in handy to get rid of the mud!

Tassie I have never done any water treatment-most of my walking there has been in either the SW (there are some lakes you dont take water, in case of "fecal" contamination-but otherwise pretty much any water is great) or in Cradle Mtn-Lake St Clair and Walls of Jerusalem; where there are tanks when there are regular people, and where people don't go, the lakes and streams are generally fine, with care.

I have heard in NSW, particularly in many rivers and canyons of the blue mountains, its not a good idea to drink the water without some sort of treatment, as there are towns up stream in the catchments. I know some experienced canyoners(albeit they are very conservative traditionalists) from there that have fallen sick just through accidentally getting water in their mouths.

It begs the question whether it is biological, agricultural or industrial contamination, or a combination. If its the first, and the water is clear, you will get away with simple chemical treatment. If its the latter two, and by this I am talking toxic heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, dioxins, etc, then you will need to filter it if you are going to make it drinkable. And the only portable filtration I know of that will do it, is something with carbon in it-mind you if I new the water was heavily contaminated, I don't think I'd trust it. I think the Carbon is working by secondary chemical bonds (as far as I am aware) to adhere the toxins to it. Over time the Carbon will approach its bonding capacity, and if the load is heavy, some will get through.

I myself would probably filter water, but it depends on the location. If the headwaters of the source contain towns, industry, houses, agricultural areas...then I definitely would.

I am looking at doing an extended expedition in the NW arm of the Flinders Ranges in about august next year. This is a new water situation for me...sheep and cattle country. While I've worked alot in pastoral areas, I've never had to take water not directly from a Bore or tank that isnt already clean. All the water holes are visited by said animals, and are dams, and depending on the water level and source of the dams, etc, it could be interesting. I don't want to take a full filter. I am thinking of making a waterbag type filter with a coffee filter and mesh at the end, and put some clean, dry sand in on filter out most of the muck, clay particles, etc. Then I will add some chemical treatment...likely Katadyn Puritabs, to kill any potential biological nasties.

Roger Caffin is probably the person to ask as to what he uses for water treatment, if anything, as he hikes alot in the Blue Mountains as far as I am aware.

Is it possible Roger to get chemical treatments such as Aqua Mira in Australia? I wouldn't mind something that works a bit faster than puritabs.

Hope this helps Andrew,


PS, how many Australians are on BPL? I think there may be about 5 or 6 of us in total. (You, me, Roger, a couple of others).

Andrew :-)
(terra) - F

Locale: Sydney, Australia.
Great reply mate on 12/02/2007 16:37:51 MST Print View

Thanks for the detailed reply Adam,
Great to hear how you deal with water over there.

The Blue Mountains has a variety of pollutants:
-Human properties, towns along the ridges.
-Roads and rail which shed water into bushland.
-Farms at the heads of a lot of the creeks -->> rivers.
-Feral animals.
-Native animals.
-Humans (see above two categories…)
-Even run-off from old mine tailings.
What you are exposed to depends on where you are and factors like recent rainfall etc.
There are tributary creeks which are totally within more remote areas of the bush and there are larger rivers/creeks that run through remote areas but are fed from farmlands. Even our cleaner rivers (Kowmung) are now seeing a lot of human activity upstream.
After good rain (rare, although we've had a bit lately) you may have access to a good amount of tributary creek water but during the dry the choice can be more limited.
The Snowy Mountains is similar, it depends where you are.
There is a surprising amount of human waste up there. I guess people think that digging a hole in snow is good enough. I've seen a fox carcass up on the southern side of Mt Tate too (a couple of hundred meters from the very origin of Adelaide’s water - ha).

For both of these areas remoteness of location can often help, but not always.
As a young bloke I just used to carry the Coglans tabs and boil the water. Or hankie filter and boil (dib, dib – dob, dob).
I have not had a problem yet, the MSR filter is now a (heavy) luxury and keeps the missus happy.
I guess the reason for the post, to gather knowledge and experiences from others down here nowdays so I can better make a decision for solo stuff - thanks for sharing your info mate.

To answer your question I think there are only half a dozen to a dozen Australians on the site. A few, who are new to me, pop up every now and then.
Without wishing to sound parochial, it would be great to get a thread going and see how we are all approaching lightweight hiking down here (different climate, resources, traditions etc).

Edited by terra on 12/02/2007 16:40:51 MST.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Aussies... on 12/02/2007 18:35:32 MST Print View

No worries mate

There is certainly a serious lag in Australia with regards to uptake of ultralight gear. Me myself included-thought its mostly a money factor (of replacing gear I already have).

Alot of the gear Nth Americans and Europeans use isnt suitable of course...alot of the packs will get shredded and arent strong/suitable enough to carry even the water requirements I often have on walks in SA and NT.

Its hard to find a tough enough Jacket that is also reasonably lightweight.


Its good to see Roger Caffin writing the odd article on gear for "bushwacking". He makes most of his "bushwacking" gear himself though...I dont have as much spare time or skill floating around as him.

Its just plain hard to get UL gear in Aus too. Pretty much none is available commercially here, so its all down to ordering from OS, and postage can quickly up the cost, especially when you just need one item. The local manufactures/suppliers are very slow on the uptake of UL gear. Its good to see Paddy Pallins now stock some WM sleeping bags, and One Planet now has their top-notch Cocoon series (my father recently bought the 500, and it is a sweet bag. I want to get a 300). OP also now has their Shadow Rucksack, which I bought a couple of weeks ago. It seems well enough built for scrub-that they assured me they had tested (they wont build a pack that wont last half a lifetime), and the harness, with its single stay, is incredibly comfortable, and seems fine so far (Ive tested it on a couple of overnight walks, to 18kg). Im going to test it more in coming weeks, including in some thick scrub (tonight actually, for some training). The materials arent exactly dyneema grid or anything, but they are fine, and its very well constructed. I am thinking of writing a review for it, after I do a decent long-distance trip next year in the flinders.

Tony Beasley
(tbeasley) - MLife

Locale: Pigeon House Mt from the Castle
hard to get UL gear in Aus on 12/02/2007 19:29:55 MST Print View

“Its just plain hard to get UL gear in Aus too”

I could not agree more and what few things that are available have a big markup.

The GoLite Jam2 RRP in the US is US $100 (A$113) here in OZ RRP is A$260 (US$228)

That is why I get my gear from the US, even with shipping cost it is still much cheaper.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Great reply mate on 12/03/2007 02:24:22 MST Print View

I've used most of the better filters at one time or another. They are all heavy. Some are worse than others.
I have used Coghlans iodine tablets - mild antisceptic smell and no taste.
I've tried MIOX - tasted awful. Review soon (in press).
I currently favour a Steripen Adventurer - see BPL Review of same.
However, if we are in Wollemi NP we usually don't bother: we know what's upstream (nothing at all!).
In the Snowies we are very careful: Giardia is endemic to many parts of it. We use the Steripen.

> The Blue Mountains has a variety of pollutants:
> -Human properties, towns along the ridges.
You missed the absolute worst.
We took water from the Nattai below Mittagong many many years ago. It was fairly clear. We filtered it through a ceramic Katadyn filter very carefully. 24 hours later we were out of it for a day.
Filters don't block viruses, and the Mittagong Sewerage Treatment Plant was notoriously bad. So bad that the State Govt paid for a new plant, rather than trying to get Mittagong Council to fund it. After all, the output of Mittagong was the input to Sydney ...

I don't think AquaMira has been 'certified' in Australia yet, so I am not sure whether it can be sold.


Andrew :-)
(terra) - F

Locale: Sydney, Australia.
Thanks for input... on 12/03/2007 14:40:25 MST Print View

Tony / Adam,
I think we share the drama of poor gear access. All the more reason to MYOG. Roger's site has some material suppliers listed, hopefully more will show up too.
The increase in adventure-racing has helped a bit with a smattering of lighter gear being available but supply is minimal and prices are stupid, unless on sale. As you said importing is cheaper though it breaks your heart when postage doubles the cost of a single lightweight item.

I think much of the U.S. gear can be used here, even when "bushwacking"*.
As scouts we would camp under a hoochie and use a plastic poncho as a ground sheet, similar to U.S. 'tarp camping'.
We actually used the term light-hike for these outings in the early 80's. The gear rarely got destroyed and we did a lot of scrub bashing whilst... route finding (i.e "never truly lost"). Cuben might not be a good idea for most of our terrain.

Thanks for the info mate. Interesting about Aqua-mira.
Yep, properties/towns includes human waste problems, where there's people there has to be p--. This is a problem with the mountain infrastructure not meeting demands of increased seachange population.

Rog has posted his gear in articles but I'd be interested to see other gearlists/weights of Australian bushwalkers if possible.

So here we have 4 Australian BPL members - where are the rest?

*Bushwacking... Hmmm, I suppose 'bushbash' or 'scrub-bash' are too un-PC as they imply damage to the environment. There was a band called 'The Bushwackers' but they possibly intended a double meaning. Then again, I used the word hoochie earlier... :-)

Edited by terra on 12/03/2007 14:58:43 MST.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Oi Oi Oi on 12/03/2007 16:05:48 MST Print View

Yep, there are definitely at least four here.

Roger-thanks for the extra insight. Sounds WAY worse than here in SA...when I eventually get around to heading into NSW I will be sure to get some advice beforehand.

I think in many situations in Aus poncho-tarps would work quite fine. When I really think about it, in the Flinders you can get away alot of the time without touching scrub off-track-mind you there are lot of areas, especially when you aren't following major creeklines, that would be nearly impossible. Any decent ridgeline or peak, any small creek or re-entrant. You would pretty much have to keep off all the ranges (except for a couple that have been grazed), which wouldn't be as exciting. I had once thought about making a simple silnylon poncho just for the sake of it, and seeing how far I could take it (with my HD Gore Jacket in my pack). Maybe I should give that a go again. The main concern would be that I dont kill myself because I cant see my feet, etc, on the rough terrain.

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Standing up for all the Mexicans on 12/03/2007 20:09:31 MST Print View

Put me down as another Aussie, from Victoria. Going slowly slowly on the UL or even LW track. Cost is always an issue, but it's funny how carrying gear for 3 people (two kids) tends to focus the issue.

I've picked up a bit of gear from the forums here, and sent from e-bay US. LW stuff is really cheap to send by weight, but as we're all aware, it's the postage calculated on cost that kills us. The best way I know around this is by dealing with the smaller retailers who will calculate postage for each package.

What we need is someone over in the States like Brett, who would be willing to ship to the Aus for the cost of postage, plus what? ?$5? ?$10? Don't forget you'd be paying sales tax over there too though. About 10%

Seriously though, if we're interested in this, let me know and I'll talk to a bloke I know. He MIGHT be interested.

Andrew :-)
(terra) - F

Locale: Sydney, Australia.
Good idea. on 12/04/2007 04:15:37 MST Print View

Cutting the freight would make new gear purchases much more, fun. Speaking of Brett, he may send to Aus if you want MB stuff, would have to ask him.
So what's the water like where you hike Rod? (Don't say it tastes like Corona mexican beer). Do you filter, treat, boil, UV?

RE the poncho, my experience is they work for a lot of our bush, but i'm considering an alternative that may suit our more common climates and terrain a lot better and will be lighter than any rainwear yet. Now is a good time to test it too, with our early summer storms.

(And then there were 5... anymore?)

maurice tate
(mauricetate) - F
Another one! on 12/05/2007 14:07:12 MST Print View

Just a note that I live near byron bay, NSW and walk up here with a 3.5 kg pack. My local bushwalking club wants to put rocks in my pack. I posted on a Tasi forum I was going to do the Western Arthurs in Tasi with a 10 Kg pack total and I got a lot of personal abuse. People thought I was mad and they would have to come and rescue me! When I posted my gear list they lighted up a bit.
Most of my gear I got from the USA and my tent from aarn design in NZ.

Edited by mauricetate on 12/05/2007 14:07:53 MST.

(cuzzettj) - MLife

Locale: NorCal - South Bay
Willing to help shipp from US on 12/05/2007 14:39:14 MST Print View

I may be willing on helping you get what you want/need shipped for actual cost to Australia. I have a post office just two blocks from the house and access to two REI stores and many other outdoor stores close by. Helping you get what you want doesn't seem like a big deal to me. Especially if I can make a few long distance friends in the process.

We can use e-bay or/and pay pal to make it happen and I will ship to you at no additional cost to start. I will let you know if packaging becomes an issue and mark it up that way. Other than that I would just be glad to know you were getting what you want for your personal adventures. Let me know how it has worked for you in the past if you have done this before. I supose it could get pretty expensive depending on what you want.

Thanks - Jason

(cuzzettj) - MLife

Locale: NorCal - South Bay
Willing to help ship to Australia on 12/05/2007 14:41:26 MST Print View

By the way. Half my fun is finding the deals and getting the gear cheap if possible. Maybe I can learn something along the way!

Tony Beasley
(tbeasley) - MLife

Locale: Pigeon House Mt from the Castle
Re: Good idea. on 12/05/2007 16:33:59 MST Print View

“RE the poncho, my experience is they work for a lot of our bush, but i'm considering an alternative that may suit our more common climates and terrain a lot better and will be lighter than any rainwear yet”

I tried to walk through some very thick scrub up some steep slopes in the Scabby Range Namadgi ACT with a sea to summit sil nylon poncho/tarp and found that I was stepping on the poncho a lot and have decided that it was more suitable for open country than the type of bushwacking that I do.

One of the best nights that I have ever experienced in the bush was sleeping under the tarp (see pic) on a clear mountain night but the next night was wet and windy and I was not so impressed with sleeping under a tarp, I am thinking about getting a Gatewood Cape.

As for shipping from the states I am luck that my walking partner is American and between him and his wife they have 3-4 trips home every year so I get some gear brought back for no charge.

I would like to thank those offering to ship for us in OZ.

Tarp set up at Grey Mare hut KNP

twig .
(bretthartwig) - MLife

Locale: Australia
One more Aussie on 12/05/2007 16:42:17 MST Print View

One more Aussie here, I think lightweight may well be taking off in Australia!! I have been on this website since the days when it was free, now I don't mind paying a membership, I learn more here than anywhere else. I have been hiking with a G6 the last couple of years, using a packcover when I need to bushwack and it has held up fine.
I too have imported most of my gear and with the ozzie dollar going strong it is now more affordable. New Zealand has some good stuff available, Icebreaker of course and you can get free shipping if you spend over $99 at
I have been importing under the counter Aqua Mira from the US and have had no problems (with cops or viruses) using it in SA and Victoria.Walking in the Grampians with a Golite Jam, Oware bivy and poncho, cooking on a red bull stove.

Edited by bretthartwig on 12/05/2007 16:50:33 MST.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Another one! on 12/05/2007 16:52:55 MST Print View


dont worry, after doing the whole Arthurs in march 06, and starting with almost 40kg in my pack (I was carrying alot of food for two older guys on the trip) at the start, I vowed I would return one day with a sub 6kg base pack weight. It shouldnt be hard. As long as your pack and jacket are durable enough for scrambling, etc.

I have always been on the look out for a SW Tas suitable jacket and tent. I think the tent problem may have almost been solved...I like the look of the new MLD double poled thingo...if only he'd make it with a tub floor!

Have fun in the Western Arthurs though...awesome walking country.


Leone M Snowden
(lsnowden) - M

Locale: Budawangs, Blue Mountains
More Aussies & water on 12/06/2007 02:41:33 MST Print View

Andrew and Adam

There's probably lots more Aussies out there like me how enjoy reading but never get around to posting. If you don't have an intelligent contribution to make why waste everyone's time?

I'm usually very careful with my water, and either boil it or use chemical treatment. I figure if I can get somewhere remote others have probably been there before me, particularly since i usually hike withing a few hours of Sydney. I'd rather treat the water than carry it in or trust other people's hygiene.

I own a filter but never bring it because the tablets always win on weight. Healthy people are less likely to get sick from cryptosporidium (it poses a greater risk to people who are immunosuppressed), so I'm more careful about giardia. I've had giardia and didn't find it a pleasant experience (beware the innocent little stream near Deep Pass).

I bought some Micropur MP 1 (chlorine dioxide) tablets on the internet but have yet to use them. It's very frustrating that we can't get chlorine dioxide here. The shipping costs for other gear are sobering, as others have mentioned. What is really lacking is lighter more affordable tents. (I hike with blokes and scouts, so privacy is an issue.)There must be a business opportunity for someone to supply the lightweight community in Australia...

I have a Go-Lite Trek pack which is the most comforatble pack I've ever used, despite the flimsy looking hip belt. It's survived ther bush and abuse quite well, until a nasty bit of the banksia scrub in the Budawangs sliced open the lid. One day I'll make a new lid from something more durable.

Roger, you can buy some taslan clothing in Australia. Trek & Travel in Kent St stock a NZ label called Sea to Summit. They have some quite servicable trousers and shorts.

Dan Healy

Locale: Queensland
Water on 12/06/2007 04:42:05 MST Print View

to bring the thread back on topic...

I don't see water as a particular problem in Oz other than you mostly have to carry a bit more than places like the states or Europe... certainly we don't have any more contaminant problems than they do… in bad areas or dirty water I ‘physical’ the water thru a strainer (any folded material will do) then pill it with chlorine dioxide – I use micropur which I get at any decent outdoor place… Paddy Pallin, K2 – there are lots... I have hiked and suffered in every state so far - each has its own issues but I have never seen it necessary to carry a filter...

To bring the thread back off topic… go Ultralight! I don’t see it as a particular problem bringing stuff in… the States are good, OMM has some great packs and jackets in the Olde Country… I reckon the best thing is sites like this to spread ideas… the gear reviews are tremendous… I am the proud owner of 5g carbon tent pegs because of a link form this site! Tremendous resource!

Arapiles .
(Arapiles) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Re: Australians on 12/07/2007 08:17:23 MST Print View

You might not have realised it but I'm Australian too ... as is Franco. I've just moved back to Melbourne after 6 years in Japan/UK so I stocked up on LW gear before I left - I have a Gossamer Gear Miniposa I'm using as a daypack for walking to work, a Gossamer Gear Squall Classic, a Mountainsmith Ghost, a Nippin 550 gram sleeping bag (absolutely superb quality, better than WM in my humble opinion and it cost me A$170), a Rab eVent jacket and other bits and pieces I bought in Japan, where titanium in comparatively well priced.

Because of the cost/access issue in Australia I was considering starting a Japanese import web-shop - do you think people would be interested?


Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Australians on 12/07/2007 15:54:29 MST Print View

When I had to filter water, I have used the Katadyn Hiker.
For my trip to Nepal I decided to switch to the Micropur, no noticeable after taste, I just needed to be patient because the water was pretty cold some of the time.
I am now thinking of getting the Steripen, (soon to drop in price here, BTW...)
but I imagine having to use a Nalgene with it, so I am not sure if I will gain much in weight, normally I use soft drink bottles.( I use a bandanna already, mostly wet to keep my neck cool )
Because I know some of the shop owners here, I have purchased some gear here and some from the US. A brand that we could do with is Mont Bell.

For Maurice
Is Aarn a relative of yours ?
Do you have one of the Pacer tents ? If so I would like to hear your comments, please . Send me a PM

For the ones that have never tried a Aarn pack, please do. They are very,very comfortable.The front pocket concept does work, particularly once you exceed 12-14kg (longer trips or water)

There is a shop dedicated to lightweight stuff, with the peculiar name of Backpacking, Sommerset Place, Melbourne. That happens to be just below the head office of my ex work place, Camera Action.

They stock Montane, Go Lite, Aarn and Luxe tents.
Have a look at some of the new stuff from Luxe here
I like the new Firefly, freestanding,decent vestibule,two layers for less than 1400g, a lot cheaper than the Hubba.
The Luxe version of the Hubba Hubba is called the Habitat, $389.
Also have a look at the modified X Rocket, if you are into poncho-tarps and the Nashorn, a 6 person modified pyramid tent, under 2.2kg inc pole and stakes.
Luxe also have some reasonably cheap tarps, not on their web site at the moment, but there is some stock here in Melbourne.