Friday, 9 December 2016

The White Wallabies of Bruny Island.

White wallaby
We came to Bruny Island for the white wallabies. Well I did, David came for me - he isn't a wildlife person. Bruny Island, a small island off the coast of Tasmania is home to a colony of rare white wallabies. I have a long history of disappointment in the wild animal spotting stakes. Just recently I have failed to see whales in Alaska, cassowaries in Queensland and sunbathing kangaroos in Esperance but Bruny Island proved the exception. Within half an hour of arriving we saw two of these beautiful creatures up very close in the bush.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Cycling in Victoria: The High Country Rail Trail

High Country Rail Trail
Trail - The High Country Rail Trail
Location - Wodonga to Old Tallangatta and Derbyshire to Shelley, Victoria, Australia
Distance - 64 km one way including the Darbyshire to Shelley section
Terrain - Mostly compacted earth with some paved sections.
Difficulty - Easy, this is a ride or walk you can take the family on. The Darbyshire to Shelley section is more challenging.
Highlights - Cycling across the beautiful Sandy Creek Rail Bridge.
Websites and maps - RailTrails Australia and High Country Rail Trail
Extension - Darbyshire to Shelley - 22 km. Not contiguous with the rest of the trail. You'll need a mountain bike for this section.

Friday, 25 November 2016

The 17 best places to see Australian animals in the bush!

Kangaroos, Paynesville
According to the Australian Wildlife Society there are 50-60 million kangaroos in Australia. With a population that large they should be easy to find, but they aren't - at least not always. Like other Australian animals they can be remarkably elusive. A fellow blogger recently spent two weeks here, mostly outside the big cities, and didn't see a single kangaroo in the bush. I don't want that to happen to you so I have drawn on the resources of  a group of pretty savvy travel bloggers to put together this guide on the best places in the bush to see Australia's unique animals.

 I have grouped the suggestions by state and added my own picks at the end of this post.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Q Station Manly: A unique place in Sydney's history.

On Thursday 18 May 1882, 25 year old Thomas Frost, his wife Evelina, 23 and their three children Clara 5, Florence 3 and Christina 1, set sail on the ship Orontes from Plymouth in England en route to Sydney, Australia.

Clara was my great grandmother.

Two months later, on 19 July the Orontes arrived in Sydney Harbour. It was a migrant ship and my forbears and their fellow passengers came to Australia to begin a new life. However before they were allowed to disembark, the Orontes like all other migrant ships arriving in Sydney had to be declared free of contagious diseases.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Esperance, Western Australia: Pink lakes and kangaroos on the beach. Does Esperance live up to its reputation?

Whale Tail EsperanceI came to Esperance for the pink lakes and sunbathing kangaroos. David came because I wanted to and he is good like that. Google Esperance and you will see kangaroos posing for selfies in the sunshine on the beach at Lucky Bay and lakes so bright pink it is hard to believe they are real. Perhaps I am naive but if Google promises me something I kind of assume I will actually see it, or at least have a shot at seeing it. Sadly, my hit rate with Esperance was zero out of two - no pink lakes and no sunbathing kangaroos. Zero out of three if you include the fact that I expected warm weather and blue skies and the weather we got was worthy of an arctic winter. Zero out of four given I didn't see a single whale - but hey who's counting!

Did Esperance live up to its reputation? No, not for the things I expected. Do I think Esperance should be on your travel bucket list? Absolutely!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Sculpture by the Sea, Sydney

Sculpture by the Sea is 20 years old.  Set against the stunning backdrop of the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, Sydney's Sculpture by the Sea is the largest annual sculpture exhibition in the world. David and I try to go every year and this year turned out to be a lot more dramatic than most. As we watched from the safety of the cliffs, a king tide combined with huge waves sent one sculpture into oblivion and damaged several others. It was as though mother nature was determined to put her mark on the exhibition.

Not really being the artistic type there isn't a lot I can say about sculpture, so sit back and enjoy the photos of some of my favourites. I have included the prices in the captions just in case you have a bit of spare change laying around and fancy a bit of modern art for the front garden.

Friday, 28 October 2016

A Ghost Tour at Q Station, Manly

Do you believe in ghosts? I do - now! A ghost tour at Q Station,  the old quarantine station at Manly in Sydney's north, will shake the scepticism out of the most ardent non-believer.

It is well after dark. We have had a long, enjoyable dinner at the Boilerhouse Restaurant where, under the guidance of chef Matt Kemp, the food is nothing short of spectacular. Bob, our ghost hunting guide, meets us below the giant stairway which leads to the upper levels of Q Station. Earlier today we were told contestants on The Biggest Loser run up and down these stairs as part of their weight-loss regimes. I wonder how many don't make it - no wonder they say the place is haunted.

Friday, 21 October 2016

7 things to do in Amazing Albany!

Is Albany on your bucket list? It should be. Even Charles Darwin couldn't resist a brief visit, although by all accounts he wasn't impressed. I put that down to Albany being one of his last stops aboard the Beagle's almost five year journey. He also came by ship across the notoriously rough Great Australian Bight. Like Darwin I suffer from perpetual seasickness. Note to self: Never come to Western Australia by boat.

By the time he arrived in Albany in Australia's far south-western corner Darwin was home sick and fed up - not a great way to get the most out of any destination. If he were to arrive today -  on one of the new 787 Dreamliners, Business Class of course, and know he could be home again in 18 hours he wouldn't want to leave.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Self-contained accommodation in Albany: Albany Harbourside Apartments and Houses.

Albany Harbourside Apartments
David and I came to Albany in Western Australia for the whales. In September 1998, when our boys were little, we arrived to discover two of these magnificent creatures had taken up temporary residence in King George Sound. The weather was warm, the sun was shining and the whales were making the most of a temporary respite from their long journey south. They stayed in the sound for three or four days, putting on a great show of frolicking, slapping their tales and generally, dare I say it, having a 'whale of a time'. One afternoon as I walked along the boardwalk at Middleton Beach, I saw them directly below me, no more than a few metres away - their massive, sleek bodies gliding effortlessly through the water. It was an experience I will never forget.

Friday, 7 October 2016

The National ANZAC Centre, Albany, Western Australia

National ANZAC Centre Albany
Perched on a cliff, high above Albany, the National ANZAC Centre looks out across King George Sound toward the Great Southern Ocean. In 1914 in response to the outbreak of World War I, Australia raised a new army -  the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). At the time Australia as a nation was little more than a decade old. The AIF was joined by a force from New Zealand and together they became known as the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs). For the 41,265 men of the First and Second ANZAC Convoys, the coast of Albany was their last sight of Australia. 60,000 Australians and 18,000 New Zealanders perished in the war at a time when the two countries had a combined population of just 6 million people - every Australian soldier was a volunteer. The National ANZAC Centre is dedicated to telling the stories of the men and women of the First and Second convoys and the stories of the ANZACS who followed them. David's great uncle was among the Australian dead.