Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dec 2014: NSW to Qld

 Nakayama san who now lives in Sydney - he was Keiko's hairdresser back in Fukuoka and used to go ten-pin bowling with us back in 1997 when I was teaching English in Fukuoka.  Never managed to beat the bugger at bowling tho.

 The obligatory Sydney shot.  It is a pretty harbour.

 Some quite tame rainbow-lorrikeets and cockatoos looking for food in Sydney botanic gardens.  The kids got a few scratches and nips out of it

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Nov 2014: From Perth heading east along the Nullarbor to the east coast

Stratford on Avon (Vic, Aus) tourist park.  This is where we stayed for several weeks over Xmas back in 1982 when Dad (RB) got some 'chippy' work putting an outdoor dining extension onto the kitchen block.

The outdoor dining extension still stands

The park

 The Stratford corner store where we used to get paddle pops on hot days

Silver lady statue-person in central Melbourne mall.  
There were loads of buskers and street performers around here that were very good so we left quite a few gold coins behind throughout our day of wandering through Melbourne centre.

Flinders Street Station - central Melbourne

Hosiers lane in Melbourne which is famous for it's (mostly very good) grafitti/wall art.  They were having a bit of an expo when we went through and gave kids a chance to do some stencil spraying.

Melbourne Chinatown

Great Ocean Road in southern Victoria.  They call this group the 12 Apostles

They call this the Bay of Islands (Great Ocean Rd, Victoria)

Port Fairy Lighthouse (SW Victoria).  This is on a small island linked to mainland by a port wall-walkway.  There is a pleasant 1hr walking track around the island going past this lighthouse.  We also got to see a little local black wallaby

Dartmoor (Vic) near the SA-Vic border.  Nice little one pub town and lots of  life-sized wooden carvings dotted around the town.

 We spent a couple of days in Adelaide looking around and spent one afternoon catching up with an old friend Mihoko from Auckland (right of Keiko) who now lives in Adelaide.  Hadn't seen her for about 7 years.  She was having Sunday afternoon park outing with a bunch of her local friends.

Minnipa (SA) loo

Pildappa rock, 15kms north of Minnipa town.   A massive lump of granite that has eroded to the shape of a wave, mostly through water erosion as the land level has dropped away over the aeons.

Nullarbor lookout over the Southern Ocean.  Pretty spectacular limestone cliffs when you see them in the flesh

Spencer wanted to take a photo so he did, he just forgot to include the cliffs

We stayed the night near here and came back in the morning for this photo in different light.

The Nullarbor is a looong road with plenty of rest stops but not many toilets.  We were self-contained with a loo in the motorhome, but many travellers are not so there is a lot of toilet paper flapping around the bushes near rest areas and some surprises when you walk around the edges of the areas.   Near this area we were a bit unfortunate to see a big black crow making a meal of some traveller's 'deposit'.

A high section of the Eyre highway creating a bit of a Nullarbor lookout.

The Nullarbor ground is apprently the world's largest slab of limestone.  In some places water has accumulated and dissolved its way through the stone like in this photo.  Big caverns exist in some places under the limestone

Where the Eyre highway meets the coast near the border of WA-SA

Day two of our trip into the Nullarbor region: the first heavy rain we had seen for months made the ground a bit unfamiliar.  We turned off the highway to go into a rest stop one afternoon....bloody red porridge.  We had a go at jacking up and putting branches under wheels but couldn't get the wheels high enough.  Could have jacked directly under the diff which might have worked but that would have meant slithering in the mud. So, we decided to overnight like this and flagged down a friendly 4WD'er in the morning who tugged us out.
I had a feeling the ground might be soft before driving over it and took a wee chance (as you do).  The missus knew this though so I got stick from the family pretty much until bedtime, then again in the morning.

This Eyre highway has some really exciting sections

Heading south from Perth we went through Bridgetown which just happened to be holding its annual blues festival.  This is the (approx 200m long)  main street of Bridgetown that got closed off to vehicles during the 3-day event.  At night there were blues bands playing all over the place as buskers in the street, big outdoor concerts at each end of town and every pub hosting live bands. 

Main street of Albany (WA) gently sloping southward to the harbour

Wild emus in southern WA...we finally managed to get a photo.  This was our fourth sighting of wild emus during our Oz trip, at each other sighting the emus wandered off before we could get the camera out.
Farmland around here is pretty lush with rolling hills, at the time there were chilly southerly winds, made us a bit homesick.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

October 2014: From Darwin, heading west then south

This is near the centre of Fremantle looking west towards the 'Round House' at the street end.
The Round House is an old police lock-up built in 1830.
Much of the architecture here is late-1800's British and French colonial, also with modern shopping centres and large open markets.  Lonely Planet says Fremantle is quite arty-farty and you can really see that in the markets with loads of buskers and artwork on sale.

Fremantle marina

Fremantle waterfront with upmarket bars etc. (no, I didn't take this photo, I stole it off the Perth promotional website)

Looking NE towards Perth CBD from the courthouse park just on dusk.  The Perth supreme courthouse is shown in the foreground built in 1837 by convict labour.  Quite a grand courthouse for its time although it's dwarfed a bit in this photo by the tall background monoliths

Perth CBD and harbour - view from Kings Park that's just north of the CBD

Southern shore of Perth city - view from Kings Park

Central Perth (St George St).  There's quite a bit of old mixing with new in Perth as many heritage buildings have been restored/maintained.

War memorial in Perth's Kings Park.  Perth harbour and CBD is in the background.

A bit of the coast between Geraldton and Perth.  Nice big stretches of sand but a bit featureless.

Gnomes have gathered here with RIP type messages written on them by people remembering lost friends/family.   Why?...not sure.  They have a nice view out to sea though (see photo below - looking out towards Gladstone coast WA on this lookout hill that's about 20m high above the plains)

Carnarvon WA satellite station was used by NASA during the Apollo space missions to track the spacecraft.  A lot of the old electronic hardware and space memorabilia has now been gathered together into a 'space museum' which we went in for a look at.

Satellite antenna that's now out of service but looks big and cool so it has probably been kept as an ad for the space museum.

Carnarvon's 1-mile jetty that's about 100 years old.  The wind out here would give Wgtn a run for its money.

Carnarvon's 1-mile jetty

Iron ore stockpile digger in Port Hedland WA.
These machines feed conveyor belts that pour the ore into waiting ships.  Probably got a bit more grunt than my old subaru WRX.

Ships being filled with iron ore at Port Hedland

Near Dampier (a bit further down the coast from Port Hedland).  This is another ship loading facility with a string of ships lining up.  If you look carefully you can see 9 ships in this photo.  We counted 10 in total, couldn't get them all in the frame tho.

 A little wild dingo that seemed to be happy spending its days around a rest stop south of Broome.

Broome camels.  They do sunset and sunrise tours here where you can ride camels along the beach.  Quite pricey tours though so we didn't partake, just got some pics.

Japanese were the first to start diving for pearls in Broome and the industry became a big one.  This Japanese cemetary has over 900 headstones

Memorial in Broome main street for the Japanese man who started the pearl diving industry in Broome back in the late 1800s.
Memorial for the pearl divers.  Heap of divers lost their lives before the full aspirated dive suit came on the scene.
Western point of Broome

Genuine dinosaur footprints 120million years old.  These are viewable in limestone at low tide off the western point of Broome.  Believed to be from carnivorous Theropods.
Apparently they stretch for 80kms along this coast.
Also around here are also 1.7m diameter footprints of Brachiosaurus (massive herbivores).  Didn't see any of those though.

Boab trees seem to get fatter and ganglier as you go west into WA

These long hot drives are just too much

Matching's too damned hot to wear clothes

A convenient rest area spot just west of Kunanurra

It's cooler doing homework outside

They call this "China Wall".  It's a vertical wall of quartz near Halls Creek town. The strata around here has been tilted to almost vertical over the aeons and erosion has left behind this long section of quartz that is 3m high in places

A nice "middle of nowhere" camp spot somewhere on the edge of Great Sandy Desert WA (off the Great Northern Highway)

Kunanurra caravan park pool (about 50kms west of the NT/WA border near the top of WA)
This was an 8am dip with pretty warm water and the outside temp already at about 32degC.   Afternoons here get to about 40degC at the mo.
The tree in the background is laden with mangos ready to drop soon.  The whole caravan park is full of big mango trees for shade and for yum yums.

This is under the shade-sail part of the pool.  They partly shade pools here so you don't get too hot/burnt while swimming.

Made it.
Border checks here for bio-security.   You can't take most fresh fruits and veg from NT in WA.  We were not aware how strict this rule was when we stocked up with food in Katherine so we had to eat a big fruit n veggie lunch just before the border and fry 2.5kgs of onions.

 Bangers, chips n peas on the camp fire.
Clearly we've been watching a lot of Masterchef

They call this the Gregory Tree as it is an old boab tree with dates and messages inscribed into the bark by explorer Augustus Gregory.   A base camp was set up here by explorers.  It's on the Victoria River about 50kms east of the NT/WA border.  Inscribed dates are of arrival and departure (dep "July 2nd 1856").  Another inscription reads "Letter in oven".  Apparently the departing group left a letter for any subsequent arriving parties in a ground camp oven.

Boab tree and a nice rocky escarpment just est of the WA border on the Victoria Highway.  The big rock in top left that's looking like it's tipping over is probably about 3 stories tall.  Quite spectacular, the camera doesn't do it justice.

 An even bigger boab tree

 One of the biggest boab trees that we saw

Looking north up the Victoria River gorge - close to where the Victoria Highway crosses the Victoria River in NT.

 Joe Creek gorge just west of Victoria River.  Still pretty hot here so half naked little people running around, even in late afternoon
 We did a walk up the Joe Creek gorge and got to see some genuine aboriginal rock art.

 Joe Creek gorge walk