Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Abrolhos Islands with Shine Aviation: Stunning snorkelling and the bloody story of the wreck of the Batavia.

Abrolhos Islands

A few hours before dawn on 4 June 1629, the Dutch East India Company ship the Batavia, struck Morning Reef off the Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. The Batavia was neither the first nor the last ship to come to grief in the treacherous waters off Australia's uncharted and unforgiving west coast but the tragic fate of her survivors has ensured she is the best known.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Emma Gorge in The Kimberley: There is something you need to know!

Emma Gorge Pool
Have you ever been to Emma Gorge? Only an hour's drive from Kununurra in Western Australia's Kimberley region, it is one of the easiest gorges to get to and one of the prettiest - but there is something you need to know. Before you start imagining yourself floating alone in a perfect rock pool under the southern sky, revelling in the warm waters of the Australian outback (it never gets cold in Australia - right!) consider this. Emma Gorge Pool is deep, very deep - and it is in a gorge. The red rock cliffs surrounding the water hole are 65m high - much of the pool never sees the sunshine. All this means that stunning as it looks, Emma Gorge Pool is cold, very cold - icy is a word which comes to mind.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Whales in Paradise - Whale Watching on Australia's Gold Coast

Whales in Paradise boat
Every year from April to November humpback whales turn the east coast of Australia into a whale migration super highway. In the southern hemisphere's summer humpbacks gorge themselves on krill in the waters off Antarctica, then as winter approaches they head north on a 10,000 kilometre journey. The females give birth in the warm sub-tropical waters before returning to their feeding grounds in Antarctica. This makes Australia's east coast a world class venue for whale watching. Combine that with a near perfect winter climate and south-east Queensland must be one of the best places on the planet to see these magnificent creatures.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Willie Creek Pearl Farm and the Perfect Pearl.

Pearl in an oyster shell
Have you ever heard the expression, 'you don't choose the pearl, the pearl chooses you.' At first blush it sounds like just another advertising slogan - except this time it's true. On our first trip to Broome in Western Australia, way back in 2004, David gave me an Australian South Sea Pearl. Out of hundreds of pearls on display, that pearl was the one I fell in love with. It remains my most treasured piece of jewellery. A single, tear-drop shaped white pearl on a simple gold chain - I wear it everywhere.

David decided to buy it for me when he saw me admiring the pearls in the showroom of Willie Creek Pearl Farm.  With not a lot of time to see the sights of Broome on this trip, the one thing we did not want to miss was a return to Willie Creek and its tour of how these exquisite gems are produced.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Zebedee Springs and Chamberlain Gorge: Disappointment in The Kimberley.

Chamberlain Gorge
Even on the best trips it is inevitable that at least one thing won't quite live up to expectations. On our recent trip to the Kimberley in Western Australia, there were two: Zebedee Springs and Chamberlain Gorge. Zebedee Springs because, to quote my mother-in-law, the world and his wife were there, and Chamberlain Gorge because it was Chamberlain Gorge and not where we set out to go - Explosion Hole.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Amalia Gorge: Would you go swimming with a crocodile?

Amalia Gorge
"A freshwater croc lives in the pool there."

With these less than comforting words ringing in our ears we set off for a late afternoon hike to Amalia Gorge. I should add that the very nice lady on the information desk did say this particular freshwater crocodile wasn't dangerous - unless we annoyed him. I don't know what you would do but I wasn't about to take any chances. We came to the Kimberley region of Western Australia for the scenery, not to become reptile lunch. If you are swimming in a rock pool and come face to face with a prehistoric monster of gargantuan proportions how exactly do you ensure that you don't annoy him? So much for taking a dip at the end of our walk - cross that one off the list!

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Berkeley River Lodge: A wilderness resort in the Kimberley, Western Australia

The Berkeley River
There are few places left on the planet where you can visit an untouched wilderness. Berkeley River, on the far northwest coast of Western Australia is one. Beyond the outback, the landscape stretches from one horizon to the other without a single sign of human habitation save Berkeley River Lodge - and perhaps a lone sailor sheltering for the night in the safety of the river mouth.  Access is by light plane from Darwin or Kununurra and supplies arrive by barge. There are no roads in or out.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Vivid Sydney 2017: The world's best festival of light.

Vivid Sydney The Opera House
Billed as the world's largest outdoor 'art-gallery' Vivid Sydney never disappoints. Vivid is a festival of light which draws tourists from around the world. With famous landmarks like the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge bathed in ever changing light patterns, Vivid draws us into town year after year.  If you live too far away to make it to Vivid this year, plan a trip for next year because Vivid just gets better and better!

Saturday, 27 May 2017

10 Australian animals you have never heard of and where to find them.

Think of Australian animals and you might conjure up images of cuddly koalas and cute kangaroos, or perhaps venomous spiders and deadly snakes, but have you ever heard of a quokka, a dugong, a pademelon or an echidna. Alongside their more famous cousins Australia has a plethora of lesser known marsupials and other animals which no-one has ever heard of. They are just as cute, just as interesting and, like all things Australian, just as unique. I have compiled a list of my favourites with a few hints on where you might find them in the bush.

Friday, 12 May 2017

The 7 most annoying things in hotel rooms and how to fix them!

I have had a tough week - I admit it. It has left me tired, grumpy and irritable. For a long time I have had a list swirling around in my brain of all the advice I would like to give to all the hotel managers of all the hotels we have, or will in the future, ever stay in. Over three decades of travel, David and I have stayed in hundreds, perhaps more than a thousand, hotels, B&Bs and self-catering cottages. They have ranged from 1-star, budget accommodation to 5-star luxury retreats. Some could only be described as rat-infested, flea pits. Others were so lovely I had to be pried out the door when it came time to leave.