Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Home to the Cool Country!

After a week in the warmth of Alice Springs, with sunshine and temperatures by day in the low twenties, with cooler nights and mornings, this place is like the Arctic!  The fire is once more burning 24/7 and thermals are the order of the day!

I had a fabulous time, saw extraordinary scenery, traveled many kilometers, twice flew in helicopters, saw wild dingos, camels and emus, ate a camelburger, learned a great deal and took some amazing photographs of landscapes, birds and reptiles.  Trekabout Photography Tours were the group with whom I went to the Red Centre, and would highly recommend them for anyone who wants to do this sort of workshop.  Initially we were told there would be up to 16 participants with two tutors, but it turned out there were only four others, due to various reasons.  The two leaders had considered cancelling the trip, but decided to make it a holiday for themselves and take three weeks to drive from Brisbane, taking their time on the way home.  Of course for us it was fantastic, and meant extra excursions not included in the original itinerary, and more individual attention from Mark and Michael, the tutors.   Now I need to save some pennies in order to do one of their other trips!

I came home with over 2,500 images, and am still going through them all, doing the post processing on those I wish to keep and ditching all those I don’t.  Here are just a few to give you a taste.

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Adventures ahead!

A hint….more later….

imagesCourtesy of Google images and http://www.junoon.co

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A Big Step…

As a teenager I came to this country with my Mother and brothers as assisted migrants from Britain – ten pound Poms we were called then.  My Father had already been here for almost a year, while he decided if Australia would offer better opportunities for himself and his family, than Britain in the late 1950’s, and we all joined him in 1960.  I was a reluctant immigrant, sounding and feeling very different to all my school mates, hating the heat in summer, and the distance from the rest of the world.  I returned to the UK as soon as I finished university to live and work in London for a few years.  Although I came back to Australia and have lived here ever since, married and raised children, I have always travelled using one of these, and described myself as British of Irish background.  I think Australia is a great place to live, and it has been kind to me, but it still took forty-three years, until 2004 for me to become an Australian citizen.

Given the opportunity to travel overseas after Christmas, and having only an expired passport in a name I no longer use, I needed a new one and so decided it was time to get one of these……..It arrived today in the post.

With apologies to my Australian friends, I can only say it feels very strange – I have always believed that one cannot really change one’s nationality……..I’m sure there are advantages, one of which is that it is simpler and I shall no longer need a visa to enter this country, but I sense that my Father would be rolling in his grave if he knew!  I guess I shall get used to it, and if I don’t then I shall renew my British one as we are allowed dual nationality in Australia, which is a very good thing.

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A bit of whimsey….

Some of the things I found amusing during my Tassie trip were the unique road signs that I had not seen before, and the fact that many of the small streams and rivers which anywhere else would be a creek were formally signposted with their name………and called a Rivulet.

A few of the signs, several of which we have on the mainland…… but I did love the Tractor!

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Around Bicheno Tasmania

The granite rocks around this area have been photographed by many because of their beauty.  I also watched a sunrise and sunset in this little coastal town.

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I have mentioned before that my family lived in Virginia in the 1950’s when my Father was on exchange from the RAF to attend the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk Virginia for two and a half years from 1954 – 56.  Initially we lived in Norfolk, in a house that backed onto the Chesapeake waterways, and then in a house in Virginia Beach, five minutes walk from the beach.  Both were idyllic surroundings in which children could explore and play, and I have many fond memories of that time – messing around in boats, swimming endlessly and catching freshwater crabs with a chicken neck on a string from our own private jetty.

My brother is in Washington on business, and decided to drive south to see if the houses where we lived were still there, and today he sent these photos.  What a treat to see them again, and to know someone still cares for them.  The Virginia Beach house is now one of the few older ones remaining on 52nd Street, as many have been demolished to make way for bigger up-market homes and high rise buildings along the beach front.

I would have spent many many hours on this beach in summertime.

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1500+ Kilometres later…..

I returned home last night after a long day – a total of 9 1/2 hours driving including meal and refueling stops, plus dropping daughter at the station, and collecting the dogs from their holiday camp.   The weather on the return trip was perfect, warmish and with blue skies, a total contrast to the trip North when it poured with rain most of the way and we were forced to stop a couple of times because it was impossible to see the road or cars ahead, and it was dangerously frightening to continue.

It was a lovely weekend, the exhibitions were as good as expected, but because no photos were allowed, I cannot show you the treasures we saw.  The Ballets Russes and Close Up at the Portrait Gallery were favourites.  I would love to be able to spend a whole lot more time at the National Gallery, its collections are huge and varied, and one could not do it justice in one day.  The National Museum is one about the social history of Australia, its discovery, development and achievements, its indigenous people, their art and the terrible things that were done to them by white people.  It was well done, but my only complaint is about the building which looks amazing, but it seems difficult to find one’s way up and down the different levels and around it all.

We also went to the Black Mountain Tower (where the coffee shop was closed!) and the best tip shop ever……I think it is called the Muga Way Recycle Centre…..it was huge, and one could have found almost anything you needed if you were setting up a flat, though only a few small items came home with us.  On the way back to the city, we stumbled on the Old Bus Depot Markets where we spent a little and bought food for lunch back at the hotel, it too was well worth investigating.

I would not want to live in the ACT, though Canberra may be a good place to live when one knows it better, however it seemed to me to be more like a small town and less like a Country’s Capital City.  Sure, it has a few spectacular public buildings, but the multitude of three or four story blocks of flats in the city area makes it very bland.  I did not go into the suburbs, but photos of real estate for the ordinary person seemed pretty….ordinary.. and expensive.  I loved all the park land and massed native tree plantings, particularly of the different species of Eucalyptus showing different trunk and leaf colours, but the road system with roundabouts and circular boulevards must use up an awful lot of petrol when going a short distance as the crow flies.  We tried to find somewhere close to our hotel for dinner on Sunday night, only to find most places were not open on Sundays.  If we had wanted to go by car, no doubt the choices would be better, but we wanted to have wine with dinner, so we needed to walk.  In the end, we bought the makings and cooked in the apartment……but it would have been good to have our last night out to celebrate a good weekend.

My own photos were disappointing…….due to operator errors, but here are just a few….starting with the view from the balcony of our apartment on the evening we arrived.


View from the balcony

Early morning Lake Burley Griffin

Black Swan on Lake Burley Griffin

A Darter or Snakebird by the Lake

Pears by George Baldesin - National Gallery Sculpture Garden

Cones by Bert Flugelman - National Gallery Sculpture Garden

Black Mountain Tower

Canberra from the Black Mountain Tower

Early morning ballooning over the Lake

The hotel next door at sunset

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