Wild Days In WA

That laconic steering wheel wave, common in country areas throughout the world, acquired greater significance as we travelled the often empty highways of Western Australia. The glinting metallic dot on the horizon, slowly taking shape on the long straight road, a momentary human contact quickly disappearing in the rear view mirror, emphasising the vast open spaces and sparse population in this mostly flat, always intense landscape.

And WA really is big. A third of Australia’s land mass, 980,000 square miles, and if you exclude Perth and it’s surrounds, containing a population significantly smaller than the North London borough we call home; it’s hard for us city folk to comprehend.

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The South

We had said final goodbyes to our Melbourne friends (for this trip anyway) and spent a few weeks relaxing and planning in an Airbnb near the beach between Perth and Fremantle. Freo was laidback, Perth pretty anonymous and Rottnest Island idyllic, but this blog is about the vast beauty of the WA outback, so just a few pictures for now.

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Fremantle, Rottnest and the South have lots to recommend them …. including the unique, and cute, Rottnest Quokka, coastlines and sunsets.

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Up North – Broome

Originally we intended to drive a campervan on a one way rental from Perth up to Broome, but realised we could save $1000 by flying to Broome and driving South – the route less travelled.

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Boab trees in Broome, vacant lots in the middle of town and unexpected street signs

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From our hostel in Broome we made final arrangements for the big road trip and decided to spend a day in a 4WD exploring the Dampier Peninsula. Well north of the Tropic of Capricorn, bitumen quickly turned to hard red dirt and we began to appreciate just how big and empty the place is. And the sheer intensity of colour, red green and blue under a harsh northern sun burnt the landscape into your eyes.

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Termite mounds and as we moved north, red earth the like of which we had never seen

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Perhaps it was overconfidence in a 4WD, and the packed solidity of the dirt roads, but the decision to drive on to the beach at James Price Point, and then on to the white sand, following other tyre tracks, was a big mistake (mine). Soon we were stuck in soft sand. Digging out, lugging rocks into position underneath the wheels and deflating the tyres didn’t work – the car was buried to its axles. Anne noticed a vehicle on the other side of the bay, and I headed over to see if they could help with a tow. The young couple had only stopped briefly for the view and a drink, but they were the only people we were to see all day. Unable to help extract us, they left some water and headed off, promising to ring for help as soon as they got a signal – a good long drive south.

Hours spent in heat and an eerie lonely silence, getting mobbed by flies and contemplating your own stupidity is probably good for the soul, but it certainly made the sight of a tow truck appearing very welcome. The rental people Broome Broome who sent the truck were great and reassured us that had they not got the call (thank you Alanna & Robbie) they would have come looking for us the next day. Now that would have been a long long wait. Lesson learned.

On the Road

The campervan had a few important comforts – toilet, galley with fridge and a BBQ, and at 7m long, there was plenty of space for two. Our roadtrip of 4,500 kilometres began with a ‘short’ 370km drive to 80 mile beach, long enough to get used to handling the vehicle and negotiating the Road Trains, an iconic feature of life out West.

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A misty sunrise at 80 mile beach and the anglers are out with all the kit

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The early bird …  A Rainbow bee eater

Although we had come across Road Trains down South, these were of a different order. Thundering up and down the Great Northern Highway at a steady 100km, carrying all manner of goods. Iron ore, petrol, food, building supplies, houses or massive mine equipment – they sometimes linked up at a railway, or at  a roadhouse siding to swop loads.

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Over 50 metres long (think 11 cars) and sometimes traveling in pairs, you need to see a long way ahead before venturing to overtake.

Driving into Port Headland, we saw glimpses of the economic powerhouse in the region – mining. A 20 minute stop at a railway crossing to wait for an iron ore train stretching as far as the eye could see.

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So much of this activity exists unseen, way off the beaten track. After an overnight stop and a beautiful sunrise in Port Headland, we headed for the national parks.

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Karijini National Park

The campsite in the heart of the national park, with no electricity or running water is accessible by sealed road. It’s tropical, semi-arid climate, mixed with a distinct geology marked it out as a special place in our road trip. The ancient banded iron formations of sedimentary rock, cut open with deep dramatic gorges hiding shady rivers and rockpools are ideal for walking, swimming and scrambling over. And at night the sky is alive with stars.

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The rocks at our feet, the color of rusty iron and cold to the touch
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Just spectacular

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Anne, peering in to the depths, and swimming in the pools

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That night, we watched a bright full moon rise and went to bed to the sound of dingoes howling at the moon. This really is the outback.

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After two days we had to head out of Karijini, but stopped off to walk Joffre Gorge.

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The climber at the bottom gives a sense of scale

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We drove on to the town of Tom Price, to replenish our water and power, and here we saw some gallahs belie their reputation for foolishness by turning on a camp tap to gain access to water.

Coral Bay

It was over 600 km to Coral Bay, still just north of the Tropic of Capricorn, and we headed there for some diving on Ningaloo Reef and snorkeling with Manta Rays. In truth the diving was not that great, with surges around a shallow reef, but we saw reef sharks on a cleaning station, a cuttle fish and schools of snapper and trevally. The snorkelling with Mantas in a shallow bay was fantastic though, as these pictures show. Credit to Peter Wandmaker for the underwater shots.

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Exmouth

Exmouth is not a town that recommends itself, flat, spread out, vacant lots, with the odd craft brewery in mitigation. We had booked a campsite in town, but quickly moved out to the Lighthouse, at the tip of the peninsula, and caught up with the intrepid campers, Innis, Nat and Callum, who we had first met in Coral Bay. These were real campers, with tent pegs, ropes, canvas and a trailer. Callum was clearly in charge, issuing instructions, pulling up pegs and having a great time, as only a two year old can.

Whale Sharks are regular visitors to the peninsula between March and August and the chance to see them had been on our list from the start. However a South Westerly was pushing rain up the coast and the winds were too strong to snorkel outside the bay on Ningaloo Reef, so we were landlocked for a few days. No worries though, Cape Range National Park was pretty much on our doorstep.

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Kayakers in the gorge
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Yardi gorge runs down to the sea and Ningaloo reef beyond

The place was bursting with wildlife, and during our walk in Yardi gorge we came across black footed rock wallabies clambering the rocks and feeding on the spinifex.

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Young black footed wallaby in the rocks beneath us

Not to be confused with Roos, Emus and Dingoes ..

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Dingo with a kill, we saw around six of them in Cape Range NP

My enthusiasm to spot indigenous Australian wildlife led me to jump on the brakes when I spotted an Emu while driving the camper van through the Cape Range NP. Unfortunately a slab of beer stored under the bed, came sliding down the van and collided with the fire extinguisher. As a can exploded, spraying beer throughout our ‘home’  I was already out of the van, camera in hand chasing the large, shy elusive bird through the scrub. Whoops.

Our boat trip with Three Islands – snorkeling with Whale Sharks – set out on a cool morning, with grey skies but good visibility under the water. The briefing and organisation was professional and friendly and soon a spotter plane had located an adolescent male whale shark in the bay. We spent the maximum allowed time, one hour, taking it in turns to enter the water and swim alongside the oceans biggest fish. Magical.

And thanks to Dave from Three Islands for the shots.

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We also had the chance to snorkel with other creatures on the reef, including some rays and the local, but weird, black sailfin catfish.

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Yes the sailfin catfish is weird.

After a farewell dinner with Nat, Innis and Callum, we replenished supplies in Exmouth, and headed out of the North West Cape and down to Wooramel, a station just off the coastal highway, where they had stayed on the way North. Great spot.

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It took 3 sets of confusing directions to find the fresh water tap in the centre of Exmouth …
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… no-one mentioned it was next to the giant pink prawn!

At around 1,500 square kilometers, Wooramel Station is not large by Australian standards – the largest is bigger than Wales. It is impressive enough though, with an ‘upside down river’ that only comes to the surface two or three times a year when it rains inland.

It also has hot baths (33°C) from artesian wells where you can sit and admire the Milky Way at night in all its glory. Special.

The next day, on our way down to Kalbarri NP, we took the fascinating detour to Shark Bay and Hamelin Pool to see the Stromatolites – the largest living fossils on Earth. We also stopped over in Monkey Mia – famous for its, now heavily regulated, dolphin feeding event. Much more our style was the sailing boat Shotover that cruised the bay looking for dolphins and dugons – and we saw quite a few as the breeze rippled the sails.

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Bottle nosed dolphins at Monkey Mia
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The Shotover at sunrise

 

Dolphins in the bay were busy mating, with two bulls coraling a female, it seems there is no choice for the female – who may have to abandon her calf if she falls pregnant. Not so cute.

On shore we came across some eccentric looking Pelicans, and a thick-billed grasswren, a rare and endangered species.

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A rare and endangered thick billed grasswren

Kalbarri

And in Kalbarri, we were soon climbing down gorges again – perhaps not as impressive as those up north, but a beautiful National Park, with a spectacular and varied coastline. Still pretty special.

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Mushroom Rock
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Conquering fears
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Nature’s Window

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Perhaps that ‘special moment’ in Kalbarri though was when Anne and I were walking the coastline by Island Rock and a majestic Humpback Whale breached the surface, turned and disappeared into the deep. Wonder full, but alas no photograph!

The Pinnacles

Just over 200km north of Perth, and the final stop on this epic roadtrip, our visit to the Pinnacles was rushed, but also wonderfully timed. Walking the Kalbarri costal cliffs had delayed our departure (but we did see that whale) and with a 250km to drive, we would be lucky to get there before sunset.

As we approached Nambung, the sky turned all manner of colours, the windscreen was smeared with large drops of rain and swarms of insects began to spatter against the glass. It all added to the atmosphere as we arrived at this sand dune desert with striking limestone columns whose origin is unknown.

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And after that, the drive to Perth, the red-eye overnight flight to Sydney, a few goodbyes to dear friends – and some huge memories of an epic roadtrip.

And now we’re in Fiji.

But that’s another story.

Tasmanian Devils and other Tales

A trip to Tasmania was overdue. Despite visiting Australia half a dozen times – including two years living in Melbourne – we’d never made it across the Bass Straight to Van Diemen’s Land. We soon discovered it’s reputation as an outstanding natural environment with unique wildlife and dramatic history was well deserved. It was a fascinating place.

In Hobart, we found a comfortable apartment on Airbnb, and so we used this as a base to explore Mount Field National Park, Bruny Island and the Tasman Peninsula, as well as the city itself.

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Mt Field NP, the first of many spectacular parks in Tassie
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Gum trees after a Bush fire

 Bruny Island

The weather cleared on our trip to Bruny island after a grey, foreboding early start.

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Two Tree Bay …

Hobart

Hobart is a small hilly town, with a pleasant bay and plenty of historical buildings.

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The sandstone blocs carry the unique mark of a convict’s chisel
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Curried Scallop Pies – a Tasmanian specialty

A walking tour of Hobart brought home how the combination of abundant natural resources and almost unlimited free convict labour was the basis for building the settlement, which thrived first on the massive whaling industry of the 1820s, providing whale oil for the Empire, and then on the tin mining boom off the 1870s.

Of course the settlement’s development ‘required’ the forced removal of the indigenous population in a violent, decades long, progrom as traditional kangaroo hunting land was seized and women were abducted by the predominately male settlers and convicts.

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A Proclamation Board, placed around the island depicting that settlers and Palawa would be treated equally. No settler was ever prosecuted for killing an aborigine

At one stage in the ‘Black War’ a bounty was placed on the heads of Palawa Aborigines – £5 for an adult, £2 for a child (equivalent to between £1,400 and £400 today).

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The Tasmanian Tiger was also hunted to extinction, with a £1 bounty on their skin

Mount Wellington

The view from the summit is spectacular on a clear day, with clouds scurrying by, and the city beneath you.

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Tasmania has the reprehensible reputation as the ‘Roadkill Capital of Australia’ and it’s easy to see why. On many occasions driving around the island we came across roadkill every 50 – 100 metres. Pademelons, wombats, possums, Tasmanian Devils wallabies, kangaroos and other marsupials, all dead on the road. In many areas, particularly near National Parks, there are signs to enforce a 40 -65kmph speed limit at dawn and dusk, but the carnage continues.

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Bullet-holed Tassie Devil roadsign – part of the demonisation of this endangered species

From Hobart we also headed down to Port Arthur on the Tasman peninsula. Famous for its penal colony (and more recently the 1996 massacre that resulted in changed Australia gun laws), we also took the opportunity to take a boat tour around its spectacular coast.

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and of course home to both Australian and New Zealand fur seals

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Port Arthur

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The penal colony at Port Arthur saw itself as a progressive institution, inspired by social reformer and philosopher Jeremy Bentham, that aimed to ready convicts for release through a system of rewards and brutal flogging.

In time they saw the ineffectiveness of flogging and moved instead to a horrific programme of punishment through sensory deprivation that rivals  modern institutions such as Guantanamo Bay.

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In this unit for the most rebellious convicts a regime of total silence prevailed, with the guards walking in stockinged feet on mats. There was a further punishment of incarceration in a cell, behind four doors of absolute silence and darkness.

Maria Island

Moving on from Hobart we headed down to Maria Island (another convict settlement and prison to Young Irelander William Smith O’Brien). It was also the focus of a number of failed settlements over the years and is now a national park and home to many native Tasmanian species.

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Walking around the island was blissful and we encountered Cape Barren Geese, pademelons and to our immense excitement wombats!

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a shy pademelon

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We soon realised that, without predators on the Island, wombats are everywhere and simply ignore humans!

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Conditions were bleak for those who tried to settle here, scratching a subsistence living with no electricity and stream water. The last family to live there, the Howells, came in 1910 and lasted till the 1970s. The three daughters were named Faith, Hope and Charity, though Charity was known to everyone as Bob. Their cottage, lined by kerosene boxes, with newspaper for wallpaper remains, it is a bleak reminder of how hard it would be to survive in this environment.

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Maria Island is also famous for the ‘painted cliffs’, visible at low tide, where the sandstone has been penetrated by mineral rich groundwater and then eroded to make fascinating patterns.

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Freycinet

From the Maria island ferry we headed down to a hostel in Coles Bay and the next day went hiking through Freycinet NP, with views of Wineglass Bay and a beautiful, secluded walk around the headland with empty beaches and eucalyptus forests.

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Wineglass Bay lookout, and the long walk down to the beach below!

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local beach bum
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Spectacular sunset in Coles Bay to finish the day

Natureworld Wildlife Park Bicheno

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Tasmanian Emu
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This beautiful Wedge-Tailed eagle was injured on a power line and is unable to fly

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Our journey around Tasmania continued with a walk around Cape Torville lighthouse and Friendly beaches, more spectacular scenery; and then on to Natureworld – a wildlife park that is part of the national programme to save the endangered Tasmanian Devil from extinction.

We had learned about the history and current situation of the Tasmanian Devil in a museum exhibition in Hobart. Early European settlers dubbed this carnivorous marsupial a ‘Devil’, due to its red ears, bared teeth and noisy eating displays at night. 90% of the species was wiped out through hunting, following the extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger. In this genetically weakened state the species has now developed the transmissible ‘Devil Facial Tumour Disease’ which is devastating the remaining population. While Natureworld cares for devils injured on the road, it is also part of the breeding programme that is trying to introduce tumour resistant animals back in to the wild.

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Feeding Time
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Young Devil
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Devil or Angel? Of the 20 devils reintroduced into the wild on this programme, four were victims of roadkill within a fortnight

Launceston

We enjoyed our stay here in the Dragonfly Inn, a beautiful heritage building in the process of restoration –  great value and a relaxing place to stay.

While there were some lovely historical buildings in Launceston, my favourite spot was an authentic Milk Bar. So many of these places have been turned into coffee shops – I had a meat pie there to celebrate a fantastic Aussie institution!

 

Cradle Mountain

One of the most beautiful, and popular National Parks in Tasmania, we ended up staying overnight in a cabin on the edge of the park and saw the changing weather and light flowing over this wonderful place. As always walking just a short distance took you away from the crowds, its a spectacular, wild place to walk, and the park is brilliantly maintained.

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This Tasmanian Black Currawong landed on our verandah in the evening. I was also bitten on the foot by a home invasion possum, but that’s another story …
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The sky cleared the next morning, but the wind sent waves across the lake

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Montezuma Falls

After a long drive on our way to Queensland, we hadn’t expected a three hour walk to view the falls, but we were glad we did it. Like many trails through the wilderness in Tasmania, this was based on an old mining tram track that carted minerals down through the rainforest. It must have been backbreaking work to carve cuttings and lay tracks through this wilderness.

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Anne, giving a sense of perspective.

Strahan

Now near the end of our roadtrip through Tasmania, we stopped overnight in Strahan, and mostly by chance, ended up walking to Regatta Point and taking a trip on the West Coast Wilderness railway. After all our walking over the previous few weeks, it was great to observe the rainforest, rivers and wilderness through the carriage windows. And a steamtrain is always fun!

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Turning the loco at Dubil Barril

Our final day on the West Coast of Tasmania started beautifully with a bright clear day as we walked down the King River estuary beach at Macquarie Heads and on to Ocean Beach. From there we drove along the Lyle highway via Queenstown and the Franklin Gordon National Park via various walks and lookouts until reaching Hamilton. From majestic beach, rivers trickling through rainforests, mountain top views and wilderness walks the day encapsulated everything special about Tasmania. We finished the day in Hamilton, staying in a weatherboard house at sundown.

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Early morning, Macquarie Heads, lighthouses, clear water and solitude

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Queenstown felt a bit quirky. The surrounding hillsides have been denuded by sulphur from the mining process

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Franklin Gordon River NP with Frenchman’s Cap mountain on the horizon

There are many tales from Tasmania not told in this blog. The astonishing state election, where the result was bought by the gambling lobby in an election that was corrupt by any democratic standards. The intriguing story of the MONA museum and its owner. Random encounters with wildlife. The Greg Duncan Huon Pine carving. And, of course, conversations in hostels and bars along the way.

As with the two most recent blog posts, we are certainly travelling in a different way, through a different landscape than our previous year in SE Asia. We have sent our long suffering dive bag home and our next adventure in New Zealand awaits – travelling light and enjoying the journey.

Stories from ‘Stralia

Heading back to Australia, especially Melbourne, is like meeting up with an old friend. You immediately feel comfortable, you’re besieged with fond memories, and swear you both haven’t changed a bit. You re-live old experiences and then, slowly, realise things are, in fact, different. Consequently you become engaged in new ‘conversations’ with a familiar place, you feel ‘glad to be back’, though neither us nor ‘Stralia were ever here before.

Quite a change from our last year then, backpacking in South East Asia. Just so lovely to see familiar faces – good friends for over 35 years ….  though of course we haven’t changed a bit.😁. But this public post won’t be about those lovely times with wonderful people, their kindness, the shared craic, laughter, smiles, trials and tribulations that are so close to our hearts.

This will be about our idiosyncratic reconnection with a country, the old and the new, where we’ve lived and visited over the decades. It won’t be a coherent journey through Australia, it won’t be a standard Oz Blog. Here’s the first of our random stories  from ‘Stralia ….

Hello again Australia.

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Melbourne

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There’s always going to be a big place in our hearts for Melbourne, the city and the burbs, the quaint Victoriana and the hip, our first big travel adventure as tramies in the 80’s and the friends we still hold dear. Sorry Sydney, #1 city in ‘Stralia.

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Under the Clocks at Flinders

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Spoilt for choice in Melbourne bars
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Weatherboard houses from the’20s

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La Trobe Reading Room, with wonderful space and light. Beautifully illustrated Victorian books, and Ned Kelly’s body armour!
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Side streets and street art

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And, just to prove our hipster status, we also looked in on the old Collingwood Technical College experimental ‘Intermission’ exhibition. Not the Melbourne we knew!

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The place was full of serious art folk … 😃

Think we need some old ‘Stralia again, before heading on to Sydney …

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Sydney

With good friends in Bondi Junction, it didn’t take us long to reacquaint ourselves with Sydney, and again we came across the old and the new. Sydney always seems like a serious, ‘proper’ city, and then you wander down to the harbour, the beaches and the bay, and you realise Sydneysiders are just pretending to be city folk ….

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It’s a busy bay
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Traditional pubs in the heart of the city, thanks to the TU and residents campaign in the 70’s
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Big cruise ships in the harbour

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Climbing the bridge

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Yup, still Sydney

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And then there’s Manly

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Can you see the City?

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Swimming poolside, with battleships to starboard …

Of course, beyond the bay and the bars there’s the museum’s and galleries which still reflect the duality of Australian history.

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But you can always come across a cockie on your way home …

More stories to come.

So, we’ll upload some more random thoughts and pictures of our journey through New South Wales in the next few days. We’re off to Unexplored Territory next – Tasmania. Click ‘follow’ to keep in touch.

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Roadtrip through Flores

The grandly named Trans Flores Highway cuts through forests, climbs over mountains and skirts around volcanoes on its 550 kilometre route from Labuanbajo to Maumere. Although it’s a single lane highway throughout it is an impressive feat of engineering, with spectacular switchback routes crossing a wild, luxuriant, dramatic landscape of dense forest, landslides, ricefields and lakes.

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Our driver Mr Donatus, and his son Herman
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Tourists are sufficiently unusual to be worth a wave and a smile
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Dramatic Volcanoes dominate the horizon at times

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For whole sections of the journey, signs of human habitation can be sparse. But the highway links the towns and cities with diverse, traditional rural cultures that seem unchanged in centuries alongside the five distinct linguistic and cultural groups that make up the islands population, from the west to the east.

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Labuan Bajo. We started from here after six days diving with Scuba Junkie
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All aboard the Trans Flores Highway

This beautiful four day roadtrip (and our diving in Komodo, of which more later) plunged us right back in to South East Asia, after our brief visit back to England (see ‘Home & Away’ ) in September. It was a fantastic way to acclimatise to the adventure and excitement of travel, we were back on the road and in a spectacular landscape full of wonder.

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We came across this buffalo and his mudbath up in the mountains in the Lembor ricefields

In comparison to Bali, Java and certain sections of Lombok, Flores seemed less developed in terms of tourism, and the locals less reliant on this as a source of income. The overwhelmingly rural economy seemed productive and people looked to have larger houses, gardens and a sustainable way of life. Of course poverty is never far away, but the roads were full of children walking to school and we were met with lots of smiles and laughter.

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The majority of Flores is Catholic (due to the Portuguese colonial regime). Every village has a church and many of the schools are Catholic run
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…. and the odd cathedral

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School’s Out

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Origami proved popular 😊

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The land in Flores seemed productive. Vivid green ricefields stretched across valleys, fruit and vegetables were on sale in roadside warungs and the forests themselves were full of jackfruit, papaya, mangoes, cashew, macadamia, bananas and pineapple.

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bananas in all varieties

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Macadamia
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The famous Spider Web ricefields

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It’s a stunningly beautiful landscape

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Of course much of central Flores is mountainous and pretty near impossible to cultivate. The terrain and the thick groves of bamboo, rising 20m+ mean that some areas are impenetrable.

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Nothing gets through here

We passed by some impressive volcanoes on our journey, some of them like Agung Inierie, currently active.

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Steam and water flowing from the crater of Agung Ebulobo

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We also came across a tribe of monkeys, foraging for food, on our journey through the mountains.

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Traditional villages in Flores

We visited a number of traditional villages  including Bena, where housing is a collective endeavor, built and lived in by families, some of whom are said to originate from Java. Although declaring themselves Catholic, it was clear that this was a religion bolted on to the ancient adat/animist beliefs which governs their daily lives.

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The stone plinth in the center of the village is the place of burial for tribal leaders and also where traditional sacrifices of buffalo are made

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We were able to meet and interact with many people on our journey. The general lack of tourists and the company of Mr Donatus and Herman helped (along with a bit of origami for the children).

Their pictures and portraits capture the beauty and diversity of Flores.

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Above and below are residents of the traditional village of Bena. In the full resolution picture of the girl below you can see the entire village reflected in her eyes.

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We came across a festival/celebration on the way to Bajawa, we still don’t know what it was about, but everyone was happy!

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Stopping for a coffee at a roadside Warung, we met this couple.

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This family came running out to say hello when we stopped to look at the view.

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Even Mr Donatus posed for a photo

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And there’s always kids playing football …

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…  or marbles

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Gunung Kelimutu

On our final day of the roadtrip, we got up at 4.00am to see the sun rise over the stunning volcanic crater lakes at Gunung Kelimutu. The  three lakes, Tiwu Ata Bupu (Lake of Old People) is usually blue and is the westernmost of the three lakes, Tiwu Ko’o Fai Nuwa Muri (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (Enchanted Lake) are separated by a shared crater wall and are typically blue green or red respectively.

The lake colours are meant to change on a periodic basis, due to their differing connection to the volcano beneath, although it seems their colours have remained stable for some time. It’s a wonderful sight though, 1,600m up and a little chilly as the sun rises behind the lakes and the clouds swirl around.

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Not easy to photograph, looking in to the rising sun

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The shared crater wall between Tiwu Ko’o Fai Nuwa Muri and Tiwu Ata Polo
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Pot Noodles in the mist. The mountain’s monkeys have developed a taste for food discarded by tourists 😕

Komodo

It would be remiss not to mention our time with Scuba Junkie again in Komodo, where we spent six days of wonderful, exhilarating diving, prior to the roadtrip. The story of the diving is similar to our last post from Indonesia Here be Dragons and we once again saw the ocean’s beauty in an unspoilt, majestic environment.

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One creature that deserves a mention this time around is the ‘black and gold sapsucking slug’, a rarity underwater, but with a name that seems somewhat unfair, given its beauty.

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File photo

We also had some challenging dives, where the current (on a full moon) was the strongest we have ever experienced. Hooked on in the aptly named Cauldron, we struggled to avoid being swept away (I saw a snorkel fly by at one stage). Fish were being thrown around likes leaves in an Autumn storm.

We kicked hard to reach the shelter of the coral gardens and Anne needed help from dive buddy Daniel to get out of the current. I was doing relatively OK, until I realised that with my exertions to cope with the current, I’d used up all my air! Again Daniel was able to help, sharing his second stage for our safety stop. Bintang for the BFG at beer o’clock. 🍻

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Calm enough on the surface, the ocean pours between these two islands generating a fierce current.

We are now in Sulawesi, diving in Bunaken with Living Colours and thinking about where next on our journey, as the wet season is beginning to arrive in this part of SE Asia.

Just realised, this blog post is without a sunset, that would never do. Click ‘follow’ to get updates, and comments are always welcome😊

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Wonderful Komodo