RAVENSWOOD – A GHOST TOWN

It has been a few months since the last blog thanks to Covid 19 and all the restrictions placed on us.  At the start of the year I imagined the travel side of this blog would be all about Iceland.  Our trip was booked, the wedding planned and all was in place – until the Pandemic struck!  So, we are biding our time and hopefully will be able to get to Iceland in the future.

Meantime we are exploring our own backyard and last weekend we did a little road trip to Ravenswood.  This charming heritage listed township is 89 kilometres west of Charters Towers and was once a thriving gold mining town.  There are lots of stories and history is at every turn you make.  Apparently in 1868 whilst mustering cattle, a local pastoralist by the name of Marmaduke Curr stopped to have a drink of water from Elphinstone Creek and saw specks of gold at the bottom of his pannikin. The area quickly became part of the gold rush.  IN the boom era there were over 50 pubs and a population of over 5000.  Today it is a virtual ghost town with a population of around 255.

We set off on the 130 km drive from Townsville on an all bitumen road.  Recent rains had turned the country into a palette of greens and small farms with Brahmin cattle are interspersed along the route.  An hour and a half later we drove into the historic town.

Ravenswood
The main road into town

It was quiet and the first stop we made was at the Miner’s cottage – on the right in the above picture.  This was a brief history lesson for Bea – age 9 – who has not spent a lot of time in the bush and who was fascinated in the lives of the children at that time.

The last time I was here was years ago with my daughter’s school class and we visited the school at the time.  Bea was intrigued to know it was a one teacher school, with all students from years 1 – 7 in the same room and taught by the same teacher!  Then there were about 17 students in total.

The old cottage is original and displays how the miner and his family would have lived in the late 1800’s.IMG_7253IMG_7254IMG_7257

The kitchen was an eye opener, as was the bedroom.  Seeing this made young Bea thankful for what she has at home!IMG_7255

Outside was the laundry and the outhouse – I had to marvel at the fortitude of the pioneers, both male and female, who sacrificed so much to live the dream of finding that large gold nugget. For many it was hardship and disappointment and for others there was success in measured amounts. This is related as well at the local cemetery where gravestones tell of mining and horse accidents, illness and child influenza.  Pioneers came from all over the world in search of a new life and many descendants are still in the area.

IMG_7267

The old London Mine built between 1903 and 1915 consists of a headframe with mullock heaps to the north and south.  Today we can walk to the entrance and stare down and imagine the miners toiling in impossible circumstances years ago. There are old chimneys, rusting machinery and old shafts throughout the town making the journey an informative one, especially for eager young minds.

IMG_7264

IMG_7250

The quaint shops – no longer trading – show some of the merchandise that would have been available at the time.  A fun thing to do is to pose for a photograph outside and imagine you are out for a Sunday stroll in the early part of the century, dressed in your Sunday best and carrying a parasol for the sun.  Note the bag of money held by the male!

We had lunch at the historic Railway hotel where little has changed.  There are some original fittings and furniture, the ceilings are pressed metal and there are large french doors opening onto the verandas at the side.  It is possible to stay here and during the winter season it becomes quite busy with passing travellers keen to experience a night in the old town – along with ghosts and wildlife!

IMG_7268

We had a delicious home cooked lunch here and wallowed in the feeling of yesteryear.

On the way home we stopped at the White Blow Environmental park which is about 4km from town along the road to Ayr. The large quartz outcrop is a prominent feature of the park and is about 15 metres in height with a diameter of 45 meters and is the largest of several masses of quartz in the area. The quartz is estimated to be about 300 million years old.

We took the road to Ayr which gave us spectacular views of the Leichhardt ranges and was devoid of any traffic.  We did see wildlife, including this curious little fellow out for a munch of newly grown grass.

Ravenswood Roo

An easy day trip and a little bit different.  Now to explore some more although the island calls this weekend!

KOBE – and a step back in time

6th OCTOBER 2019:  Our next destination was Kobe, a city which opened as an international port in 1868.  It is a beautiful location that stretches between mountains and the ocean. For me this has a personal connection.  My grandparents were married here in 1914.  My grandfather worked for Lever Brothers – now Unilever – and was sent to Japan in 1912 to open a soap factory for the company.  Foreigners began working and settling in Kobe only forty years beforehand and the settlement was in its infancy. The area known as Kitano was where the foreigners built their homes, it was close to the port and on the slopes of Mt. Rokko.  I was keen to see where my family lived and worked, especially as I have done a considerable amount of research on life in Kobe at that time.

Our train journey from Oita took about two hours to Osaka which is very close to Kobe. We had booked a hotel right on the water and close to the old foreign settlement.  As it happened this was where the Rugby Fanzone was situated and so we were able to wander down to the area and see a match on the big screen, have a few drinks and enjoy the atmosphere and try to win prizes!

Kobe.jpg

Kobe-02Kobe-03

This area is relatively new and the port has grown in recent years.  In 1945 during World War 2 the main area of Kobe was destroyed by bombs but the Kitano area was saved as it was a foreign settlement.  However, years later earthquakes devastated the city and many areas were affected – although once again, somehow Kitano escaped relatively unscathed.

The Port area – known as Harborland – is full of restaurants, shops and bars and we had no trouble finding a great place to eat as well as watching entertainment.

Kobe-04

Many of the restaurants had plastic images of the food on their menu – including one for children complete with an Australian flag! This is quite useful when language is a problem – just point to the dish you fancy.

We took a taxi up to Kitano which has now been designated under the “Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings” act by the government. Immediately we could see the attraction the early foreigners saw – on a hill with cool breezes and a view.  Several houses have been restored and are open to the public either as museums or restaurants and it is a lovely area to stroll around.

Kobe-12Kobe-13Kobe-10Kobe-20

Some of the streets are very narrow and steep and in the past would have had rickshaws as transport or maybe just two feet! This is where my grandparents had a house, which is sadly no more but the block is there with a remains of a building.

Close to Kitano is the Shin-Kobe Ropeway which is a ten minute cable car ride up Mt. Rokko. At the top is the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden which is one of Japan’s largest herb gardens with about 75,000 herbs and flower gardens with around 200 varieties plus a series of Glasshouses, fragrance museum and cafe and restaurant.

Kobe-36

It was a beautiful day and we had stunning panoramic views on all sides of the cabin.  We could also see the western part of Osaka and the Seto Inland Sea.  Passing over waterfalls and cultivated gardens, the ride was a surprise to say the least.

Kobe-35

Kobe-40Kobe-43Kobe-17Kobe-15

At the top we found a European style building which was the Fragrance Museum and cafe and a pleasant outdoor seating area.

Kobe-18Kobe-19

After a cold drink and a wander around the museum and shop, we were advised to walk down to the mid station and along the way admire the herbs and gardens and the Glasshouses mid way.  It was fascinating; the herbs were all grouped in various categories – the Potager (kitchen herbs) was lush and sweet smelling, as were all the herbs which are tended daily and made me wish I could do even half as good a job at growing!

Kobe-38Kobe-37

Then we reached the Glasshouses and another surprise awaited.  This was a tropical paradise with masses of flowers, potted plants and a mini waterfall and stream in several greenhouses.  It was totally magical and in one we came across what was to be my favourite of the whole exhibition – a beautiful statue of a Mother and Child, presented in 1993 by the Italian city of Terni to Kobe.  The sculpture embodies the desire for eternal friendship and for love to be nurtured throughout the world.

Kobe-32Kobe-34Kobe-33

The lushness of the tropical garden complete with butterflies and birds made it hard to to tear ourselves away, there is so much to savour and enjoy.

In another section is an area representing the interior of a home – with a dining setting and bunches of dried herbs.  Outside is a gorgeous terrace where we had a glass of wine before taking the cable car back to the bottom.

Kobe-26Kobe-25Kobe-27

This Ropeway and Gardens is definitely something every visitor to Kobe should do, it is surely one of the best places to be in Kobe.  At night the views are apparently amazing with the sunset and then twinkling night lights of the city.  We didn’t do it this time but if we ever return, that is on the Must Do list.

Our time in Kobe was short but sweet and once again, we felt that it warranted another trip to Japan – next time to visit the onsen at Arima which is close by.  For now though we have lovely memories of this “City of Love” with strong feelings of family.

Kobe-01

OITA – A welcoming city

OCTOBER 3rd 2019 :  I had never heard of Oita when starting to plan this trip.  It is located on the southern island of Kyushu and was around three and a half hours by train from Hiroshima.  Again we took the Shinkansen but to Kokura station where we changed to a smaller train which travelled over the bridge linking the two islands.  This area is known for numerous hot springs and onsen and the town of Beppu – around 45 minutes from Oita – is famous for onsen.  Our time here was limited but had we known what a delightful place this is, we would have planned a different itinerary!

The city of Oita was chosen for our World Cup rugby match against Uruguay.  On arrival at Oita station we had no doubt we were in the right city!

Oita-01

This huge statue (made of a sort of paper mache) greeted everyone exiting the station and there were numerous flags and advertising throughout the city.  The community was obviously very proud to have been chosen as a venue for several games.  My favourite is this one below

Oita-20

This cat heralded everyone on the main street and was on our walk from the station to the hotel.  I love the look on his face!

Unlike other major cities in Japan, this one has a relaxed feel about it and is modern and unhurried.  Many of the streets have cobbled paving stones and some of the buildings are historical and have been restored and are used for galleries, a museum, and coffee shops.

Oita-02Oita-03Oita-04

On our first evening we wandered from the hotel to look for a place for dinner and came across a pedestrian area where there was clearly a celebration of sorts happening. TV camera were in action and reporters were wandering around.  We were “dragged” into the midst of this and found ourselves in a street party.  There was a jazz musician, a dancer and several pavement bars and food outlets.  They were delighted we had come across this event – I think to publicise the game and the fact that tourists were coming to the city – and we were invited to sit and enjoy the party with the hosts! What a night it was!

Oita-05Oita-10Oita-07Oita-06Oita-08

Language was no problem – with my very few phrases, sign language and the help of a phrase book, we found new friends and had a wonderful evening with excellent restaurant recommendations from the locals.

Unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore far from the city as the following day we had to get to the stadium for the game – this was some way out of the city and involved a bus ride which was interesting as it gave us more insight to this place and the organisation was exceptional.

On arrival at the Stadium the noise was deafening – the Taiko Drummers were in action.  If there is one thing I love about Japanese music, it is the Taiko.  Here in this enormous space the atmosphere was electrifying.

Oita-15Oita-17

As in other venues, there was a sea of green and gold and there was uplifting music and cheering – especially when Australia won against Uruguay.  I have to admit I don’t know that much about rugby but have become an expert on the crowd behaviour after three World Cups over twelve years!

Oita-18Oita-19Oita-16

Walking to the Fanzone later that evening we had more traditional food stalls and very welcoming locals.

Oita-12Oita-11

Sadly it all came to an end too soon and we had to farewell Oita but with a determination to return and explore more of this southern island of Kyushu.

HONG KONG – AND A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE

Hong Kong isn’t just all about shopping and crowds.  It is easy to get away from all of that and find some relatively quiet places whether by the beach or in the hills. This trip I wanted to do just that and revisit places I knew well as a child.  Things have changed, of course, but some things remain the same and then the memories come flooding back.

F2D49E2D-8366-4C87-80B0-04C90E7FEC8D

Far from the madding crowd and mayhem in the city below is a beautiful walk around the top of the Peak.  This is where we lived and today it is exactly as it was – quiet, peaceful and leafy.  It is much cooler than in the city and the views are stunning – but different to our day as the construction of multi storey buildings has filled the landscape below and the vista to the islands beyond is now hazy due to pollution.

 

9F2B496F-4223-482C-A682-8389FE87EBBA
A view from above

The Star Ferry has been crossing the harbour for decades and is, to my mind, the best way to go from one side to the other.  The trip takes no more than ten minutes and is a pleasant way to travel.  We did this so often as children – there were no cross harbour tunnels or MTR trains in those days.  A vehicular ferry was available to take cars and passengers and on weekends we would often “drive” to Castle Peak or the New Territories and part of the excitement of the day was taking the car ferry!

7BCCD05B-9432-48B7-BB45-C9C8CD321D2F

Kowloon today is so different from the island – it is a mixture of crowds, smells, hustle and bustle, jewellers, hawkers selling copy watches or handbags, tourists galore and shop after shop.  In spite of all this it was lovely to see a couple of colonial buildings preserved and now used as hotels or for retail.

19A3D7E1-1DC2-4FC8-BA1C-5E12E9D2566C

The Peninsula Hotel was another favourite and although the decor has changed, the lobby is still magnificent and the staircase – which featured in every Ball or formal event – is the same.

Towering skyscrapers dominate the waterfront and reclaimed land is making the harbour even smaller – however, I could still find the old Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club which seems to be dwarfed these days.

A bus ride to Stanley is always a great outing.   This little village was a quiet residential area with a small beach and good swimming.  There was also a market where we bought Christmas gifts and local wares. Today it is a really pleasant place to stroll along the waterfront, visit one of a number of cafes or restaurants and, of course, wander through the market.  There is a lot of history here as a Prisoner of War Camp was located in the village during the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong during the Second World War.

2D119B47-53AF-4B17-9EC3-FC8288AEC10D

Blake’s Pier, which used to be in the city and where we met to go out on launch picnics, has been relocated here and is used by many pleasure boats each weekend.

98A50832-2AA0-4B77-89F1-1B1CB862569A

The beautiful little temple of Tin Hau, the Goddess of the Sea, features very much in the lives of local residents here.  On entering the temple the smell of joss sticks and the smoke wallowing all around is almost overwhelming.  There is a row of gods and goddesses on each side of Tin Hau and they seem to be watching you. To see the locals pay their respects and bow and pray is humbling and it is obvious that their beliefs are very strong.

96C5ACBE-BA2A-4B28-A79D-DC1A71A22BF7

3311DFD6-484D-4DD7-B5C5-5014E739D0AF

And finally there is the food – a plethora of choices, any number of cuisines but always present are noodles – oodles of noodles and it is fascinating to watch them being made!

A5744154-51F5-4065-BDF1-EEB22BA50DCE

ORPHEUS ISLAND, WHALES AND CLASSICAL MUSIC

It has been a busy few months since we returned from our road trip and sadly the blog has been neglected.  However, in a couple of weeks we are travelling to Japan for a month and so blogging will, once again, be on the agenda.  Meanwhile I thought I would reflect on a fabulous little trip I took in July to our beautiful Orpheus Island on the Great Barrier Reef.

July is a wonderful month here in North Queensland.  It is winter and the weather is glorious with days of around 25C and cool nights.  There are many festivals and events planned for this time of year and one of my favourite is the Australian Festival of Chamber Music ( http://afcm.com.au ).  Now in its 29th year this Festival brings musicians from all over the world to perform here in Townsville in a variety of venues ranging from an intimate space at The Ville for Conversations and Music, to full blown concerts at the Civic Theatre as well as performances in Cathedrals, Schools, on Magnetic Island and even in the street.  A firm favourite, though, is the day trip to Orpheus Island, a small, secluded island in the middle of the Palm Island group about two hours from Townsville.  Here a few musicians play on the beach – their ‘stage’ being between large granite rocks, on the sand and shaded by large trees opposite the ocean with fantastic fringing coral all around. The audience can choose to either sit on the beach or the rocks to listen – or even to swim and watch the whole event from the warm waters of the Reef.

Yanks Jetty.jpg

This part of the island is set apart from the very exclusive resort and the ferry arrives at Yanks Jetty onto the small beach at Hazard Bay. The trip across from Townsville passes several small islands, mostly uninhabited, and it is here that we watch for whales.  The Humpbacks come to this region every year to calve and fatten up the babies before returning to Antarctica in November to spend the summer months there.  This year was no different, we were lucky to see three of these magnificent creatures.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_97f.jpg

Excitement builds and everyone goes onto the top deck to try and spot the mother and calf – then suddenly she is there, right in front of you!

8iwYgyabSISf6m0gybrtYw_thumb_9bc.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_9c1.jpg

RZCz27VsQUqR3awQmZjSug_thumb_9f3.jpg

6+boDU55TZmYeKXelUpk%w_thumb_9f2.jpg

It is hard to leave the whales but the Captain has to start up the motors and continue on to our destination.  After all, we were all there for the concert (as well as the whales!). Once at the island everyone wanders onto the beach and selects a spot to sit – either in the shade or in the sun and just relax.

YfSUXWEbROeXz4pWQR885Q_thumb_9b2.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_998.jpg

Some decide to swim or snorkel  – but for me, having lived in the tropics for a long time, it was a bit chilly this year!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_947.jpg

Among the performers was Wu Man – who played an ancient Chinese instrument called the Pipa – note the improvised music stand!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_96f.jpg

Rachel Clegg played the oboe, Roberto Carillo-Garcia was a dream on the guitar, Sally Walker was on the flute and Martin Kuuskmann played the bassoon. They were all excited about this unusual venue for the concert and loved the informality of it all.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_978.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_981.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_971.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_997.jpgUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_9a5.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_988.jpg

For these musicians, who hailed from the UK, Canary Islands, China/USA and Estonia/USA, the whole experience was one they will never forget.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_9b0.jpgUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_9a2.jpg

Imagine sitting on a rock to listen to world class musicians! Or testing the water before you settle down to sublime music….

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_965.jpg

Last year even the artists themselves couldn’t resist the water

IMG_9028.jpg

IMG_9054.jpg

IMG_0694.jpg

Finally it is time to board the boat and head back to town – along the way a fabulous dinner is served along with fine wines and small, tasty desserts.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_99a.jpgsByj2OtaTvO3ZC+mU2hqfA_thumb_958.jpg

Farewell Orpheus – until next year!

FROM THE OUTBACK TO THE COAST AND HOME

 

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_912.jpg

Our last leg before home and quite a few kilometres to put in front of us yet but the roads are straight and there is little traffic compared to the coast road, so it is easier driving. We take breaks very couple of hours and at Coonamble stopped for a picnic by the (dry) river which was one of our favourite meals – sushi and sashimi from a sushi bar in Dubbo.

Bgl2hV3GRG+Luw%MP4HcSg_thumb_911.jpg

Country folk are proud of their towns and so many in this area have large, ugly wheat or grain silos by the side of the road.  One way to brighten up the vista is to engage an artist to create “Painted Silos”.  One very good example is at Weethalle where the art beckons you almost from the horizon!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_90d.jpg

It would be worthwhile doing a road trip just checking out all the painted silos!

On the Queensland border we found a typical outback pub – corrugated iron and hitching rails but with so much character.  This one is at Hebel and there were several old timers contemplating the world problems over the never ending glasses of beer!

t2J8IYl0RFmS8fzQ97Bn%A_thumb_919.jpg

Soon it became dark and this always poses a problem whilst driving in the country as the kangaroos, wallabies, goats and sometimes pigs wander onto the sealed road or are attracted by the car lights.  There is always road kill at the side of the road so the message is “don’t drive at night” .  Nevertheless the sunsets in the outback are glorious and this one was no different.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_915.jpg

The clouds seemed to set the horizon alight, everything was still and it was total magic watching the colours change quite quickly before the sun dipped over the horizon altogether.

RwyKVhKQSAG8+5dlXE1xhA_thumb_917.jpg

We spent the night in St George and had dinner at the local pub where the message was very clear to all and sundry

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_918.jpg

The next day we had a short break at Surat – a small rural town on the Balonne river and which has become known for its fishing and its park along the banks of the river.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_927.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_922.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_923.jpg

The area around is scenic and there are vast reserves of oil in the Surat Basin – as the website states: “Hydrocarbons in this part of the Surat Basin are generated in the underlying Bowen Basin Permian sequence and are liquids rich.  Oil is also trapped in the Triassic age Showgrounds Sandstone and in the Jurassic Age Evergreen Formation. It is estimated that the “potential recoverable resources” are between 200,000 and 300,000 barrels.” 

aE6u3gcKQFmbNdRS25d6pA_thumb_928.jpg

Our final stop just before we reached home was in the historic town of Charters Towers.  Beautiful heritage buildings line the main street and this is where the first stock exchange in Australia was built in 1888 and is indicative of the rise and fall of fortunes in the Charters Towers goldfields.  Today it is an Arcade of shops and cafes and is a perfect spot for a light lunch before resuming one’s journey.

IMG_4597

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_92f.jpg

It has been a wonderful trip and an eye opening insight to the vastness of Australia.  We covered 17,500kms in just 7 weeks and yet there is more to see and experience.  What will remain foremost in our minds are the long, straight roads, the vast open country, rolling hills and fertile farmlands, cotton balls by the side of the road in the cotton growing area, the never ending sunsets both on the coast and in the outback, the Nullarbor cliffs and coastline, oysters and seafood, road trains and fabulous Kakadu  as well as all the Aboriginal history throughout the whole country. There are termite mounds by the thousands, millions of sheep and lambs, wallabies and wildlife and, of course, the fabulous little country towns and the welcoming people in every place.  This is Australia!

I can’t wait to go again!

 

THE OYSTER TRAIL AND PORT LINCOLN

Ceduna is the first major town at the end of the Nullarbor and its pristine waters produce excellent oysters and other quality seafood. It is also the start of the Oyster Drive which goes south to Port Lincoln and up the coast to Cowell.  We endeavoured to taste the oysters – which all taste very different – at each place!

First stop was Thevenard -four kilometres from Ceduna – where we found a little shack shucking fresh oysters for $12 dozen – so with a couple of dozen in the car we headed for a spot by the ocean to indulge.  They were good – very good!

IMG_4367

Next it was off to Smoky Bay, a small settlement where the oysters are also excellent but of a different taste altogether.

Streaky Bay was our overnight stop and here we witnessed one of the most beautiful, calm sunsets we have seen yet.  We walked along the jetty whee the locals were trying their luck fishing and the pelicans were ever hopeful!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8c6.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8c7.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8c8.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8ca.jpg

As the sun set and the shadows deepened the reflections became more dramatic.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8cb.jpg

Of course, more oysters were on the menu along with King George Whiting and Blue Swimmer Crab.

Next morning more beautiful coastal scenery awaited us at Sceale Bay which is a tiny community and is known for fishing and holiday recreations. The permanent population is 40 and that can triple in holiday periods;

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8cf.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8cd.jpg

Coffin Bay is renowned for oysters and on the drive to our favourite restaurant there – 1802 Restaurant – we came across Murphy’s Haystacks which just appears out of nowhere on the landscape.  This 1500 million year old geological wonder is one of the most visited locations on the Eyre Peninsula and is actually on private property.  The unique form of pillars and boulders dates back 100,000 years and are ancient wind worn inselbergs.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_858.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8d7.jpg

They were buried by calcareous dunes about 30,000 years ago and subsequent erosion has revealed the pink granite forms standing on the hilltop today.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8d1.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_861.jpg

The local legend is that coach driver Charlie Mudge named Murphy’s Haystacks following a remark by a Scottish agricultural advisor who saw the landmark in the distance whilst travelling on the mail coach.  Shimmering like haystacks in the hot afternoon sun, he was very impressed with the sight and remarked “that man must harrow, look at all the hay he has saved!”

At Venus Bay we went to the Needle Eye Lookout for amazing views of towering rugged cliffs and beautiful beaches as well as pounding, rolling surf.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_869.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_863.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_86e.jpg

Here we spotted a pod of dolphins frolicking and playing in the surf.  An artist has carved his work on the granite rocks at the top of the cliff reminding everyone that this is tuna fishing territory.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_873.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_872.jpg

More oysters awaited at Coffin Bay – and I have to admit that these are my favourite.  Not too large and salty, they are delicious and can be prepared in a variety of ways.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8d5.jpg

Followed by raw tuna Asian style

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8d6.jpg

This place is an absolute must for anyone travelling along the Eyre Peninsula.  The town is sleepy but swells in holiday periods.  Lots of pelicans keep you company!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_87f.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_882.jpg

Port Lincoln was our final stop for the day.  This is a seafood lovers paradise with, it is said, the cleanest, freshest and most sought after seafood in the world.  Prized for its superb quality in sushi and sashimi, the majority of the southern bluefin tuna is exported to Japan with some available locally.  We decided to take a boat trip in Boston Bay to view the tuna and kingfish farms – now a multi million dollar business for the town.  The Marina is busy with fishing boats coming and going, some to catch sardines to feed the tuna in the farms, others to catch prawns and other fish.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_889.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_886.jpg

The farms are situated in the bay and the tuna are grown there before being caught and exported once they reach the required size.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8bd.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_894.jpg

Seabirds know when it is feeding time!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_891

Mussels are also grown out here and are serviced daily by the fishermen.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_88f

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_890

We took a little detour to an island where there is an enormous number of seabirds living alongside seals lots of seals many of which were having a roll about in the water.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_89a.jpg

3q38GEZSQ3+HKcYAeEWMYg_thumb_8a3.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8a6.jpgUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8a9.jpg

Finally we got to taste different sashimi – and shown the correct way to eat it!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8c0.jpg

IMG_4242

Lunch consisted of…..you guessed it – Sashimi!

lFKu5y0dTX+ycMXiBdqVWw_thumb_8c1.jpg

Our oyster experience was not yet finished – more was to come tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE FOREST ROAD TO ALBANY

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_537.jpg

We spent five lovely days in Perth staying with friends and just relaxing after the 10,000km we have driven so far.  Long sleeps, great restaurants and little walks through urban villages made this a wonderful R&R.  All too soon we hit the road again.  This time to Albany.

There were lots of pleasant forest drives to this southern part of Western Australia which made a nice change from the flat landscapes we have had for days previously.  Albany is a small town on the southern tip and was known for its whaling station in the early days.  The former whaling station now houses a museum from where migrating whales can be seen passing off the coast in season.

We made our way to a different museum – the National Anzac Centre which is located up on a hill in the Princess Royal Fortress.  It overlooks the actual harbour where over 41,000 men and women departed Australia for the Great War.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_559.jpg

Immediately on arrival you are given a card upon which is a photograph and the name of someone who served in the war. Then you follow their personal story through state of the art technology, multimedia and historic artefacts.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_562.jpg

Mine was an Australian Army Nurse – Olive Haynes – who went to Gallipoli and then Egypt after which she was in Marseille and Boulogne in France.  It was fascinating to learn of her journey, see her letters and follow her life.  Happily she survived the war and lived to the age of 90.

There are amazing historical displays and many, many stories but one piece touched me deeply – a sculpture of a digger giving his horse a drink of water from his hat.  Those men were deeply attached to their horses and the bravery of both is highlighted in the museum as well.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_557.jpgUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_563.jpg

IMG_4109

Albany has one of the most exposed coasts in Australia and about 20km from the town centre is The Gap – a 24 metre chasm to the ocean.  We had heard of this area but nothing prepared us for the spectacle that awaited on arrival.  Also at this place is The Natural Bridge which is a large span of granite that has been eroded and has formed an archway. There is a path leading to both attractions and even on the windiest day, it is possible to watch the fury of the ocean.

ZTED5LjZTaeH9D%gC1wa9Q_thumb_54b.jpg

The Natural Bridge is also amazing – and walking across the granite rocks to the bridge one can sense the magnitude of time and also think of the Dreamtime legends of the Aboriginal people.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_55b.jpg

EAcppsF3T0edzh576Dl1UA_thumb_53f.jpg

The coast here is rugged and wild and there are countless stories of shipwrecks.

Later we went to the Torndirrup National Park in Albany where there are a number of lookouts and walking trails.

nfW2Hu9ZRUeZ6sFyvAPtMQ_thumb_565.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_560.jpg

Being here amongst the cliffs, the wild sea, the granite rocks and in the little town made me think of one of my favourite novels – The Light Between the Oceans  by M.L. Stedman – which tells the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife in this part of Western Australia in 1926 following the Great War and is loosely based on a story here in Albany.

Finally, in this place of granite rocks, we stayed in a Hotel called Dog Rock – and this is why……

wRi5+zbaQaWu4KMMdk1SOA_thumb_561.jpg

Can you pick the dog?

 

 

 

 

The Coastal Road To Kalbarri and Perth

mN5gULQUTb298ukYO5SEfg_thumb_4b7.jpg

There is something special about being close to the sea – at least for me.  I am in my element when watching the moods of the ocean, the vegetation, coastal scenery and the different lifestyles of the communities all along the coastal stretch.  For a while we are out of the red dust, the dramatic landscapes and rock faces, the vast distances between places – not to mention the flies and the heat!

Leaving Shark Bay we visited the remarkable Hamelin Pool stromatolites.  I had no idea what these were until we visited the Discovery Centre and so we were keen to see what it was all about.  These Hamelin Pool stromatolites are the oldest and largest living fossils on earth.  These are considered “living fossils” and are part of the Earth’s evolutionary history.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4e6.jpg

Now part of the Word Heritage Area, a purpose built jetty has been built over these amazing life forms so people can walk and observe without causing damage. This gives everyone has a chance to see what is of great interest to botanists and geologists and give an indication of what the earth may have looked like about 3.7 billion years ago when stromatolites grew widespread across the water.

HZylG72FTVavoNaA8SHyug_thumb_4be.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4bc.jpg

Some scientists are now saying that this is what life on Mars may look like right now.

An easier explanation is the following quote:

The oldest Stromatolites in the world are found in Western Australia, and date to 3.7 billion years old. As such, the stromatolites provide a record of local environmental changes. Hamelin Pool in Western Australia is one of only four places on earth where living marine stromatolites exist and the location contains by far the biggest colony on earth. 

Stromatolites which are found up to a metre high are believed to grow at a maximum of 0.3mm per year – they are truly “living fossils”. 80% of the history of all life was stromatolites – for that time, stromatolites were king.

Our next destination was Kalbarri.  This little town on the mouth of the Murchison River is known for its seaside cliffs, estuary beaches, pelicans and birdlife and the National Park nearby.  Once again there are gorges and and natural bridge forms and several scenic walks and climbs for those who are more adventurous.

When I did my first Road Trip all those years ago, there was nothing here except a couple of holiday houses and fishing shacks.  Now it is a thriving tourist destination and very popular with families.  The first thing you notice on driving into the village is the river – which is currently very muddy and so it is easy to see where the river meets the ocean.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4ed.jpg

There are sandy beaches close by which are protected by a reef – and the thundering surf beyond is quite spectacular.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4ea.jpg

m1kVpf6iT2SF4OtP62yWdw_thumb_4ef.jpg

Red Bluff is where ancient rock meets the ocean and the history of this area is interesting.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4f0.jpg

The first European people to visit the area were the crew of the trading ship Batavia belonging to the Dutch East India Company who apparently put ashore two mutinous crew members here.  The wreck of another ship – the Zuytdorp – which sank in 1712 is also here.

There is a lovely little walk along the cliff top which illustrates clearly the problem ships would have had sailing into this area.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4f3.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4f2.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4f5.jpg

At the bottom of the cliff is a trail from the beach leading up to the top and here the contrast between the red rock and the beach is obvious.  This is a popular fishing spot.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4f7.jpg

Bird life is prolific and at times, walking on the beach, the only company you have is our feathered friends.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4fa.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4c9.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_508.jpg

Another interesting place to visit is Port Gregory and the “Pink Lake” .  This is on the road south of Kalbarri and we were told one should see it in the morning when the sun is overhead.  We were not disappointed.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_51b.jpg

3OGhjb1aSXOfP7aKuU4fTA_thumb_510.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_516.jpg

The Hutt Lagoon has a pink hue created by the presence of carotenoid producing algae which is a source of B carotene, a food colouring agent and a source of Vitamin A.   There are other pink lakes in WA and hopefully we will get to see more on this “Big Loop”.

History has always been a passion of mine and so a stop at Lytton close by was a must as this was a Convict Hiring Station and there are several ruins and many tales to tell here.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_522.jpg

And finally – not far from Perth we came across an amazing sight – a desert in the bush. This is The Pinnacles – in Nambung National Park and is incredible.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_528.jpg

These are limestone formations and some reach 3.5m.  Some are jagged, sharp edged columns and others are smooth and rounded.  There are thousands of them and they literally take your breath away.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_529.jpg

EmlCom0fTkOaIxquTqFujQ_thumb_52b.jpg

And my favourite image is this one, of a little resident of the area out for his morning munchies!

xGE++VAPT4uVNM2FprqMtw_thumb_530.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

MORE ROAD TRAINS ON THE ROAD TO KARIJINI

 

oGZOvvN0QoyIPiGekLyKag_thumb_3e1.jpg

Our next destination was Karijini National Park in the Pilbara.  It is a long way from the coast and so we had to drive via Port Hedland for an overnight stop.  To be honest, the road from Broome to Port Hedland is the most boring we have yet had to tackle.  It is very long and very straight and there is nothing to see even though it runs parallel to 80 Mile Beach. Access to the beach is denied except through the caravan park.

IMG_0956.JPG

Setting off for Karijini we were again to find the road long and mostly straight but this time we had dozens of huge road trains travelling to Port Hedland with their loads of iron ore.  This is the Pilbara and the area is rich with culture and a huge array of natural rock formations, deep red in colour. The soil is a fine red sand which gets into everything and is hard to remove! There are gorges, rock pools and canyons in the two National Parks of the area and we were heading for Karijini which has beautiful scenery and much of it is accessible by car. We booked into an “Eco Tent” which was said to be “luxury” but having been on several African safaris, this was not at all up to the standard they were trying to attain. This being an Eco Resort comfort was minimal in the so called “glamping” tents.  We used torch light at night as electricity was solar and we were conscious of waste. The tents were cooled by natural breezes – if there were any – with the result that the afternoons were very, very hot and early mornings freezing cold!  We did have a small ensuite bathroom though which was roofless and it was fabulous to shower late at night and look up at the billions of stars.  Being in such a remote location, the stars were simply amazing with no light to detract.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3ed.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_40c.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3f6.jpg

yPmQnCOnT6CLCy7JJxO8Tw_thumb_3ef.jpg

IMG_3625

We were told of several walks which culminated in rock pools for a refreshing swim.  Unfortunately it has been a very dry season and several waterfalls have dried up and the pools in which you are able to swim are hard to get to unless you are very fit.It was also very hot but the worst problem was the bush flies.  There were millions of them and they were relentless. 

On arrival at the Eco Resort,  we noticed people walking around with fly nets covering their heads.  It was comical really as they resembled aliens from another planet – dark nets covering faces and over hats of all shapes giving their heads an oddly conical or flat shape.

O67uHv4sSEas2G07sTgbsw_thumb_3fc.jpgUnfortunately everywhere had sold out of the nets so we were not able to “join the party” and instead had to either stay in our flyproof tent or explore in the airconditioned car!

Weano Gorge is probably the best introduction to Karijini as there are easy walks around the top of the gorge as the more adventurous can venture down the rocks into the canyon. The lookout we went to gave unsurpassed views out over the Weano, Red, Hancock and Joffre Gorges.  The sheer enormity and grandeur is awesome and must be really spectacular when the waterfalls are running.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_400.jpg

The path in is sandy – the deep red of the Pilbara – and fortunately there was a breeze so the flies were not so aggressive!

GpiHKKzAQk2aO%wELyX0Qg_thumb_404.jpgUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_401.jpg

3l7OAdX+S3iHe6Np1FZP5w_thumb_413.jpg

IMG_3881

The colours of this part of the Pilbara are amazing at any time of day.  This I remember from the road trip so long ago – but then this was not a National Park and we ventured in on our way to Wittenoom township which is now closed because of asbestos.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_41c.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_42b.jpg

The roads are red dirt and the silver and green of the leaves plus the groundcover colours give a special sense to this place which is sacred to the indigenous people.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_42a.jpg

fQizd4qeQ1yVLreb+XZHMw_thumb_421.jpg

We drove to Tom Price which is a mining town and a really impressive little community.

IMG_3904 (1)

With huge mining machines on display!

Sadly the flies and the heat drove us out of the beautiful Karijini Park but the drive was spectacular after a beautiful dawn rising viewed from our tent.

5ohPZ4vnTfisF0Zi7CZO%g_thumb_428.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_432.jpg

Next stop – Exmouth on the Coral Coast – maybe the flies will be gone by then?