15th September 2023

Flight path

Having only 129 days to go, I need to get prepared.

Early pick up by taxi. Our first flight is at 11am and after one change at Singapore we arrive in Perth at 2pm the next day.

Luckily, we are self catering for three nights here. I expect, before hitting the supermarcados, we will eat out, then get an early night!

Let's see if I am right.

Once we've had a good sleep, we will head off for some 🛒 .

We start in Perth, drive quickly to Denmark then slowly back to Perth. Then to Adelaide on the Indian Pacific Railway

Onward East again, by car this time, until Melbourne. Surprisingly only a twelve hours journey. But we take a whole week!

We then get a flight to Uluru. Fly to Sydney and explore on foot with tours. Fly to Cairns, pick up a car, explore the hinterland. Finally, altogether six weeks later, fly home via Singapore.

21st, 22nd & 23rd January 2024

Go to blog index.

Definitely need to give big thanks to Tom Pegram at Audley Travel for his help and input to this tour. We have received exceptional documentation and the Audley App which holds all the information is amazing. Will storm Isha allow us to follow the timetable? It is expected to blow over on Sunday night, but there are some strong winds about the time our flight takes off on Monday..

Anticipating our arrival at the Adina Apartment Hotel.

You can follow us as we go on these pages as we try to update this blog as often as we can.

24th January 2024

Powerboat ride on the Swan River. We get 30 Kms at between 30 and 0 Knots. Our guide is full of interesting information, for example:

Every day a strong wind sweeps over Perth from the Sea. The cause is the vast interior of Australia heats up, the air rises dragging the wind in. The tall ships would use this predictable wind to come into and dock at Perth. It strikes a chord with me that ancient knowledge, utilising the forces of nature, has become redundant. But then I realise a new skill, say, stopping a giant tanker in port, has been learned.

Relaxing in the boat at 0 knots we see wildlife on the shore. Just a little different from what we are used to. The trees and plants are also very beautiful.

Then we fire up the four outboards and start skimming the waves, spray flying over all the passengers. Some people are attracted to the most sprayed upon seats. We get a taste of Auzzie humour when we pull up in Freshwater Bay. Our guide comes out with, 'If you are realy lucky you might see a jelly fish here.' We look over the side to see thousands of them floating around. This bay was named because a natural groin kept the sea at bay. But in the nineteenth century it was demolished, to allow access to bigger ships into Perth. Now it is the most brackish water in the area.

However, no sooner than it is over we are on a train to Cottesloe Beach. A sleepy section of sand bathed in the strong winds from the sea. A wonderful place too see the Sun set on a 180 degree horizon. On return to the station, noticed how passengers could leave the central platform island by crossing the tracks at the end. The government give the people credit for being able to do that. Another nice touch is on cycle tracks through parks, finding self service bike garages. A stand with lots of different keys and wrenches, even a foot pump. simply small examples of how the Government look after the people.

!!BREAKING!! Melbourne - Captain Cook statue cut down by the people ahead of tomorrow, only his feet remain on plinth. Queen Victoria painted red.

25th January 2024

Firstly, have you discovered the Easter Egg on each day yet? If you find one, I am sure you will find them all.

Returning to the station we catch a train to Freemantle.

Elizabeth's Bookshop is known Worldwide and lives up to its reputation. The 'Cappuchino Mile' is thankfully about 200 yards long.

Every day at 1pm a cannon is fired from the top of old jail, we arrive by chance at 12:55.

My Croquet nickname!

Abstract Art is something we both enjoy. Back in Perth there is a wonderful gallery.

Never been to Bari-Uma (means very yummy and is becoming a big chain in the East and recently hit Australia) Ramen before, but had our first meal out here and it was very very good.

Took a lot of photographs today, the abstract art and some portraits of the poor souls waiting outside the dispensing chemist for their appointed time to collect. Nearby is a Church which feeds them. I learned a lot from chatting to some residents. Everyone is friendly. You can start your conversations half way in.

Looking back on today, having walked 6 miles (3 in search of a bottle of beer. DOH, if only I knew what a BWS sign meant earlier). It has been wonderful. Great temperature, Sun and a breeze (The Freemantle Doctor) that is warm and cooling at the same time.

Expecting to see and hear great things tomorrow. The celebrations have already started now, after work, the bars are filling up already.

Australia Day

Yesterday was good, today was even better! We headed back to Freemantle on the train earlydoors to avoid the crowds of people travelling today.

Actually, we had the train to ourselves. Gino's bar on the strip does a great eggs Benedict and flat white. Everyone is here, nice to see some Chess, but no time to stop for a game. We are going to the market. Here there is fast food from around the World, Local fresh fruit and veg, Soaps, Indian clothes, Tarot readings and yes, 🪃 . But at last, I was able to buy some ground white pepper which I had been unable to find since day one.

Called into Elizabeth's Book Shop again for a longer browse and came away with an interesting Chess book. I am almost finished with my crazy questions book I was given at Christmas. Figure I may need something on the Train next week.

Headed to the Maritime Museum, mainly to see 'Australia II' a 12-metre-class America's Cup challenge racing yacht that was launched in 1982 and won the 1983 America's Cup for the Royal Perth Yacht Club. Skippered by John Bertrand, she was the first successful Cup challenger, ending a 132-year tenure (with 26 successful defences) by the New York Yacht Club. Australia came to a standstill that day and the Prime Minister addressed the country. See the photo with Liz wearing his jacket.

The other attraction was HMAS Ovens, a 1960's Omega class submarine saved from the scrap heap to become a museum exhibit. An amazing experience to enter in the bow / torpedo room and work our way backwards through all the sections. Our guide was very good, easy to listen to and also had some Aussie humour. Tonight we are going to the fireworks and drone display. We have to pick up a car early tomorrow and make a long drive to Albany, I will continue writing when we get there.

27th January 2024

Fabulous night last night! People poured into Elizabeth Dock for the show. We got some good seats dangling our feet over the sea defences, front row. There was a drone display which was full of Auzie Humour.

And then a large firework show.

In the last few days we have been warned about speeding. So when we picked up our beautiful KIA Sportage and set off towards Albany, we set the cruise to 109 KPH and the sat nav said straight on for 306 Kms. The self drive is wonderful, so we just sit back and enjoy the almost empty roads with hardly any intersections. We both enjoyed listening to 'The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter' an LP by Incredible String Band, from start to finish.

Roaring up behind us came a car, which overtook us at the next safe chance and dissapeared into the distance. We hardly noticed at the time.

Carrying on a while we noticed a pole in the trees with some gizmo on it. 'Oh' we said, 'is that a speed camera?' And thought nothing more of it.

Over the top of a hill we went and far ahead flashing blue lights! They must have been waiting for someone triggering the camera and when that car passed them, off they set.

Pulled over! We were right. Thing is, with it being either side of Australia Day, it is double demerits on all counts. !!Kilometerage today 434 Kms!!

28th January 2024

Over the last few days Liz has taken some photos of me. 1. Diversifying from my sporting empire into parking. 2. Ten Thousand steps a day man. 3. Enjoying a curry at the Hybia, Middleton Beach. This restaurant was recomended by Audley and the food and beer is very good indeed. Do visit if you can.

Liz is using a modular packing system. With us stopping and starting so often, these bags are proving to be a great system, allowing easy packing and unpacking. My bags have blue lables and the pink ones are for Liz. Today started with a squall from the South, but soon cleared up to be a warm and Sunny day. Our plan today was to explore the Southern spit of land that curls around forming Albany bay. This large area is home to several National Parks and Nature Reserves. There is an entire Whaling Station to visit including a ship to clamber around in. They had so much more space on board than the Submariners! You can see the brutal design of the entire station, from landing to making all products and even the bookkeeping office. Small petting zoo nearby included in entrance price.

During the last one thousand three hundred and fifty million years the South of Australia collided with Antartica. (For more detail see Gondwana on Google).

Recently it split away and the result is an amazing confiuration and mix of rock types scattered all over the South coast.

Over fifty million years of erosion by wind and sea has created many unique formations. The enormous scale is somewhat lost in the camera.

Chaos reigns as all types of rocks meld together in the heat and crack in the cold South winds from the Southern Ocean.

Kilometerage down today to 76 giving a total of 510 so far. As I write the Sun is setting. Tomorrow we have another road trip, this time to Pemberton, with some places to visit as we go. We are all fueled up and the TomTom is already programmed.


29th January 2024

Today's route is through the Southern Forest towards Pemberton. This time listening to the album 'The Doors' by 'The Doors'. There are notices everywhere advising against lighting any fires and lots of evidence of fires that have started, somehow. We did a small detour and stopped at Ocean Beach, vast white fine sand with a river flowing into the sea. Gentle waves populated by some surfers and children. Again, we passed a car pulled over, presumably speeding.

Road leads us past Green's Pool. Easily the best beach we have ever seen. A wide circle of Antartic rocks allows calm blue water into this bay. The way the water flows between the rocks is simply beautiful. The high sand dunes afford protection from any breezes and a large smooth rock surface cuts off one end.

Everywhere we drive now there are trees either side as far as you can see. We go to the tree top walk to learn more about trees. After walking through the canopy, we walk through more trees on the ground. Trees are interesting.

Especially the trees which you can walk right inside.

Safe and sound now in our chalet for a couple of nights in this large complex of sporting amenities. Mini Golf, Archery, Disc Golf and lots of watersports. And the TVs just keep getting bigger as we go!

!!Kilometerage today 281 = total 791!!

30th January 2024

Come in to the Pemberton General Store (Click Pic) to see what is on sale. Just about everything. Here is a meet up place for long train trucks. It is only a small town with one main road but the hotel has a great reputation and we drop in for lunch. Very good food and great service. The drive through liquor store sells me some bottled beer.

Hot it is now. There aint no breeze today and no cloud in the sky. A visit from these Australian Ringneck parrots is welcome. They perch on the table hoping for some fruit and squabbling between themselves.

Interesting! We brought an EXIT puzzle game with us 'Return to the Abandoned Cabin', how apposite. The picture on the front is almost exactly that of our chalet. We did not get too far into it, lunch being so good as it was.

Last thing was to have a round of Mini-Golf - a close thing tied one each, with one draw. Liz aced the 6th in the second round!

59 Kms today , total = 850Kms.

Late start tomorrow for our road trip to Margaret River, via a detour to a very special place.

31st January 2024

Cape Leeuwin is not the southernmost point of Western Australia, although it does jut out a bit. That distinction belonging to West Cape Howe, which is to the southeast, near Albany.

In Australia, the cape is considered where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean. See the picture with the Indian to the left. Located on headland of the cape are the buildings that were used by the lighthouse-keepers. Cape Leeuwin is considered one of the three "great capes" of the world.

At the end of the road is Cape Leeuwin lighthouse. Our guide explains the lens is rotated by a weight falling and winched up every two hours. It sits on a bath of mercury, a frictionless base on which to turn. It used to use kerosine to make the flame, this had to be brought up by hand of course. The light would need ventilation and there is an elaborate system of tubes in the walls to provide it. Now it uses electricity to make the light. Consequently the keepers have more time and can do the tours. They have houses nearby, sheltered a little by being in a hollow. Each of the two lenses is precision made and worth over a million dollars.

Perhaps in the heat of the hottest day so far we arrive at Margaret River. It is a big town with a big supermarket and a big wine shop. The Settlers Inn is the place for lunch today and wow it was big. Our apartment is fantastic and we are in the heart of town, there is a pool here that is very inviting.

Everything is working out very well as we go along our way. We went to the White Elephant in Gnarabup Beach, to watch the Sun set but it was closed! Looking around the map we saw 'Surfers Point' and headed there. Very busy with surfers, in and out of the water. There was a lot of information for non-surfers. A map showing four regions where there are breakers and a description. In the 'Main Break they warn that if you 'wipe out', the 'hold down' is one of the longest in the world. I can only guess what that means. Details of 'challenges' are also given. Usually surfing from one break to another, or a good 'walk off' on the beach. It is a lifestyle thing. These trucks have been split in half horizontally, bed on top and gear underneath.

Kilometerage today 196Km , total 1,046Km so far.

1st February 2024

This is Josh. He is an Elder and we are visiting his land owned for ever by his ancestry. He explains the six seasons they have used to live from the land. We are in Bunuru (hot dry, indeed Perth was 45 degrees today, we are 39). He crushes some leaves and we can smell the strange aromas. Each season the various trees flower, this is an indication of the seasonal change. Example; when the Salmon migrate, the sharks come too. When the rains come, the Kangaroo eat green grass and get fatter, the indication to farm some males.

Herbs grow everywhere, used to cook fish, caught in sea traps built with a wall to enclose fish as the tide receeds. We are taken to the meeting place, semi circular benches, has been recently built to replace an old one.

Every move Josh makes is graceful, respectful and mindful. He picks up his Didgeridoo, beckons us, he is going to take us into the Ngilgi Cave. Formed eight hundred and sixty six million years ago, the journey is not inwards as with some caves, but downwards. We single file down the first ladders to 'the auditorium', a large space of tumbled rocks and limestone pillars. Here Josh plays us a beautiful song, resting the end of the didgeridoo on a rock with a hollow behind him to amplify the sounds.

Leaving us now to explore for ourselves we follow the looping path deep down and down through narrower and narrower paths that open out to miraculous spaces. We are in the front and soon we are alone in the stillness. The beauty of the spaces, the ages of the tumbled rocks is overwhelming. We are far down. Now we turn and start to climb back. A hard, long climb it is. What a wonderful experience to have been here alone and not at a busy time.

And then 'back in the room', Smiths Beach is next. Big waves and simple surfers, no kites or sails here. Can any one explain why anyone would sit infront of the information board for over an hour having a beer to watch the Sun set?

No, you can't can you.

Done that, got the T shirt. 🦘 Today exploring 104KM = 1,150Km

2nd February 2024

We went to Bussleton today. A wonderful Seaside town with white sand and a blue sea. We both could not resist a cooling off in the fountain, much to the amusement of the kids! Here the Sea water is very shallow for a long way out.

And so, in order to allow ships to dock and trade, they built a jetty. The jetty's first section was opened in 1865. It was extended numerous times until the 1960s, ultimately reaching a length of 1,841 metres. The last commercial vessel called at the jetty in 1971. It passed into the control of Busselton Shire and has been gradually restored and improved. The jetty has become a major regional tourist attraction. It features a rail line along its length, that now carries tourists to an underwater observatory, one of only six natural aquariums in the world.

There are some live webcams at the observatory. Click Here. Best seen in daylight. The observatory is a giant can, dropped in the ocean, a spiral stair leads down three levels, with windows looking out. There are some pylons around it which Sea Coral and other creatures cling onto and small fish like, giving the view out interest. But larger fish also like the shelter. The whole experience is great.

Engine goes back and forth twice an hour at walking speed. The whole show run by volunteers.



Refreshing and



3rd February 2024

Return to Perth today, early start because car has to be refuled and returned before 12:30 and we need to drop our luggage off first. Our trip back to Perth is 313km Total 1,463KM so we need to leave early. Liz does a Zoom with the handicap committee at 6pm for two hours! We ventured into the harbour for a while, but basically we need to organise ourselves.

Early start to catch the train. Space is limited, so we need to pack small bags, our main luggage will be in the caboose.

Cash in ! With two boxes left, she took $88,000. What would you have done?

Aparently the most well known boathouse in the World. Used by as an iPhone image sometime. In the 1930s a law was passed preventing the building of any new boathouses on the Swan River. But two brothers found a loophole, which stated if you were a yacht club, you may build a boathouse. They established a yacht club, membership two, and build a boathouse! The club and the boathouse still exist, but the loophole has now been closed.

Perth is a great place, its citizens are warm and welcoming. There is much to do and see.

4th February 2024

Got up early to check in to the Indian Pacific Railway. We have packed overnight bags and loaded our main cases in the caboose.

On arrival after check in we have a short wait before boarding. There is a guitarist on the platform and we chatted to John and Anne from Edinburgh to pass the time. Liz counts one thousand steps from the engine for the first 12 carrages, there are four more.

Last carriage is ours. The platform is not long enough to fit the train, we have to board four carriages forward and walk through to get to ours. We are in wagon A which has individual cabins.

Departure is on time. As I write, we slowly move out of Perth and gradually pick up speed. The land is as we have seen from the car, gold coloured, (like out ticket class!) We pass level crossings, no vehicles waiting, but if they had to, it would be a long one.

Crowed in the lounge, not surprised as it is a free bar. That is where the internet is, at least when we are in range of a satelite. I doubt if I will use it, unless I wake up in the early hours. My games will have to wait, I have taken a holiday joker so I hope it will be ok.

Liz has returned from exploring with a couple of glasses of fizz. Looking out of the window the view is opening out, it looks very hot, but I am cocooned in a perfectly air conditioned cart.

At last our lunch is called. It was great! Met a couple from Cambridge. A goods train went past in opposite direction, over 100 wagons.

Settled down to have a rest while waiting for dinner. Watched a little Iplayer previously recorded. The train is doing 85 KPH now, I checked that with the Kilometer posts and a stopwatch. Told that sometimes it may reach 115 KPH.

Strange to have an excursion starting at 9pm, but we all troop off to Kalgoorlie and learn about it. Bloke finds gold lying on the ground in 1893. Prospectors arrive and dig tunnels along the gold seams. Now it is open cast mining, 680 meters deep and 2 Kms by 1.5 Kms area. It uses the huge dump trucks loaded by giant scoopers ($4m per truck, tyres $42,000 each and it takes six, replaced twice a year, running 24/7) to move the ore to the top. Quite a sight to see even at midnight when it is illuminated.

5th February 2024

Here we are in Cook. One of the most isolated places on the planet. The scale of the train becomes apparent to us even though it is lost in the photo. This town was once full of people. It had a swimming pool, school and hospital although ironically, no railway station. Then one day it was decided to close it down. Everyone left except for four people who service the trains with water and fuel.

Under the baking Sun, those people have maintained their home well and seem to like their gardens.

Here is a picture of the pool, now filled in with a tree growing in it. We put our clocks forward two and a half hours for the new time zone. No pain no gain. What a remarable adventure it has been. Expecting to arrive in Adelaide in eleven hours. Beautiful.


6th February 2024

Separated now from the train we check into this Adelaide hotel and move our clocks on two and a half hours. This is the old treasury building. Gold from Kalgoorlie was locked up here in the vaults. From the neat but ever so slightly condfined train compartments and environs, we are now in the biggest suite here.

Perfect room for the next three days. We took the free tourist bus around the loop and then went exploring the main streets and did some shopping. Liz made a great schnitzel with pots.

Another photo to reflect on.

Called in to the famous market here. Are you asking 'I wonder what is on sale there'? Well click on the picture of this chap snuffling about and find out!

Everything is the answer!

7th February 2024

Free things, there are in Adelaide, everything we visited and the trams (up to a point) and some buses. Water fountains, phone charging stations and everywhere spotless. There are some interesting buildings, such as this one. Adelaide is divided in two areas, North (Residential) and South (Business). Both laid on a grid system. However the names of all the roads change half way down. They had too many founding fathers and not enough roads!

Laid a plan today: Museums, buildings and galleries. The Adelaide Art Gallery is a mixture of items past and present and did not inspire us as some we have visited. However the photo shows 'Absence Embodied' by Chiharu Shiota which was stunning, taking up a whole room of course.

You never know what is around the corner.

In the exhibition at the MOD gallery find out about how things may/might be different in the future. Will we all work together. Does it make any sense to plan ahead for 60,000 years? Well does it?

Nice idea that you are given a key and after each room you can answer a (rather leading?) multiple choice question. At the end you put your key in the last port and it 'tells you about your self'. In this room you take a sticker and place it where ever you like. You could fit it in a shape , over someone elses, form a large group of one colour, or hide it somewhere obscure. Naughty people who stick it over the CCT camera are thrown out.

Getting ourselves to the Botanic Gardens took us along the river banks. Here people gather, either alone or in small groups, to do relaxing things. Reading, picnics, coffees and once, just chilling out with a shopping trolley.

Full of trees, there must be hundreds of different ones here from all over the World. Many of them are true giants. But we are amazed by the noise as we approach. Sounded like hundreds of birds.

Our amazement was stretched to the limit by what we saw.

X marks the spot. These trees are crammed full of Flying Foxes. Never seen the like. Something has disturbed them as there is a racket of squeaking. A large number of them are flying from tree to tree. The main attraction is the Amazon Lilly Pond, which was wondeful. Ended the day at Glenelg Beach, a great seaside town with food from all over the world! Lots of twentysomethings playing beach volleyball and life saving drills and diving in from the jetty, for which there is a $400 fine.

8th February 2024

Gaol tour today was surprising because although in use in the early 1800s it continued to be in use up to 1970 as did (apx) capital punishment which was delt out here. The surveillance cameras, now antiquated, even look out of place against the much older walls. Seems like if you behaved yourself things could be moderately tolerable, although the cells, if the door was closed, had not much light. However if you were naughty, a ton of bricks awaited you.

Among the many exhibits, some were interactive. Here the challenge was failed and seemed far from possible.

Many poor souls are buried here, in the outer courtyard, with only the date and a number, having met with the noose within the walls. They have a series of escape room here, we did not try them because we were already signed up for 'Black Queen' with the chain Adventure Rooms.

Escaped, so we did. This room was in our all time top four. We immediately booked another one 'Jail Break' and after a short space of time and some refreshment, we returned to try it. we got close to the exit after an hour, they gave us some more time and some help, so we were able to finish it under our own steam. This company runs rooms all over Australia and we may well visit again in another city. The rooms are always the same on offer, but they have at least six so we have enough to shoot at.

Souvalaki lamb kebabs with salad for dinner at home. Then some packing as we are starting another road trip in the morning to Robe in the state of Victoria. Here is our destination, the first house to be built in Robe.

{BREAKING} Earthquake felt in Melbourne overnight. We do not arrive there for six days. Small tremours expected for next few weeks.

9th February 2024

Lovely car is the Mitsubishi Outlander, super comfortable, can seat six and with customisable home screen on the dash. We tested the audio with Santana, terrific music for travelling at mainly 110 KPH on a largely empty road, watching the scenery gradually change. Our first objective is to reach Tailem Bend located on the lower reaches of the River Murray, bordering Lake Alexandrina which is the first point we can turn Southeast. The Adelaide–Melbourne railway line also cuts the corner here. Now the roadside fauna changes to small but diverse and perfectly formed shrubbery (Ni!).

As we progress even these bushes disappear replaced by salt lakes. On our right far in the distance a huge strip of land forms a long green lagoon with an untidy shoreline on our side. It is not inviting, but perhaps the green is a sign of primitive life?

Getting hit by large cars doing 110 KPH is an everyday occurrence for the larger wildlife trying to cross the road. But not so much for the beautiful pod of Pelicans that flew across the road at a respectable height on our way. (I know I could have said ; a pouch, a scoop or a squadron. But of course not, a fleet, since they were not fishing as a group.)

On we went and soon found 'Robe House' where we found our key in the door. If you watch Antiques Roadshow you will be familiar with most of the large brown pieces of furniture we have to explore in our lovely accomo. Robe in general is a windy town and that makes the doors here whistle sometimes. But it is ok, nice ventilation in fact. Robe could be described as 'rural'. Few are about on our walk past the harbour and that is because they are all in either in the only restaurant that is open or the wonderful supermarket.

Our main worry now has to be the Australian cheese crisis. In an earlier effort to procure some cheddar we had overlooked the word 'Extra' in front of 'Mature'. Oh dear, it was way over the top for me. Today I thought I had cracked it seeing a nice size block with 'Cheddar' printed in large letters on it. But wait! On tasting, it was rather strange. Looking at the packet it discloses the reason (proudly). Made from plants with the emphasis on coconut oil. Yuk.

Not to worry, most of our ventures into the supermarkets have been, mostly, exciting and edible.

10th February 2024

Saturday is busy in Robe, especially with an organised run around the industrial estate and back. We make it up to the lookout point where the views are great and you can find your bearings. Then down a dirt track into a conservation area. Lastly we head for the long beach, 12 kms of clean white sand that you can drive on. And plenty of people do, especially with their big wagons with the customised insides for all the beach gear and bed. In the photo, why do all the trees lean over the road?

And here we are, making a reccy at the start of the long beach.

No problems matey. The sea is a bit cool, what with Antartica being just over the horizon. LOL.

Do you like the view? This enormous horseshoe of a beach curves around far out to sea. Mitsubishi Kilometers So Far (MKSF) 379.

We leave tomorrow morning with a full tank and half a Kilo of sand spread over the car interior.

Yearning for more walking, we let the Sun pass its zenith and take the coastal path. Here we look over the huge bay towards the full length of the beach we left earlier. Conditions could not be more different. The wind swept ocean crashes over a vast maze of submerged rocks before breaking on the sandstone cliffs. Over time it etches out caves. Eventually the roof collapses eating into the land. Photographs can not capture the scale of this place. But one taken by Liz does show how interesting the rocks are here.

11th February 2024

Blue is the colour Mount Gambier is the name. Out of town, this volcano crater lake is vivid blue in Summer. The town is very large, has an Aldi and the famous Marcos coffee shop where they took so long to make my French Toast I got a refund. The road we continue on is straight and empty. It is like driving through a botanical garden, the trees on either side are diverse and very beautiful, but then things suddenly change.

On either side are tall straight trees, obviously planted. Then our sat nav says we are in the National Forest. As we go on for K after K suddenly those tall trees are replaced with some only two feet high and with old stumps in between them. Past that there are medium height trees. Then brown areas, the size of Lytham with only stumps. We wonder what they could be doing with all this timber. Yes it is very straight trunked but what about all the branches?

Next stop Portland. We opt for a good looking restaurant and we are not disappointed. Out of the window we see the harbour and wonder what the huge (I mean huge) piles are made of. 'Woodchippings' says our waitress. Yes, when we look closer we see the timber being delivered and stacked in planks and yes, milled into chippings to be sent around the world.

Zygophyllaceous usage indeed, most impressive and constructive use of the available land area and Chambers Dictionary. If you have not found the daily Easter egg, it would be a capital idea to take a close look today.

Anyway, after 706 MKSF and London Philharmonic's Quadrophenia we arrived in Port Fairy. We rest up in this beautiful apartment, fully fed and watered. Wondering what tomorrow may bring. It will not be vegan cheese, my tour manager has left that in Robe. Bonza!

12th February 2024

Kudos to this youngster who spends all day and every day surfing here ⛥ He is certainly the best on this East Beach and I do not mean in Lytham.

On another beach there is a life saving surf school, this is probably in school time and the equipment belongs to the community.

Along the edge of the water where the river meets the sea and where the boats moore up are these properties. All shapes and descriptions and ages.

Labyrinthine walks are the order of today. Slightly out of town, at Tower Hill Reserve, there are some volcanic formations which have been developed into interesting walks. Here in this protected wild environ, you may see things you may otherwise miss. We are once again fortunate to have the place almost to ourselves. The others here are quiet and not frightening the wildlife away. Those groups arrived just as we were leaving. This trail was breathtaking.

And if you would like to take it too, just click on the photograph above.

Strategic planning meeting at the end of the day. Memo: The game is Lev Psakhis - Cicak , Lugano 1988. A brilliant win for Lev but almost 100% tactics from move 13 onwards. MKSF 419.

[BREAKING] A catastrophic fire danger warning is in place for Victoria, the Wimmera district, while an extreme fire danger is forecast for the Mallee, Northern Country and Central districts, (all not near us). Danger of dry thunderstorms that produce thunder and lightning (which set fires), but where most of its rain evaporates before reaching the ground.

13th February 2024

Off we go heading to Apollo Bay. Soon the road meets up with the coast which is very spectacular for many Ks. Every ten minutes we turn off to park and walk towards the ocean. At every point the views are amazing. Too many to show here, but follow this link to see what we mean. There is a story about a schooner that sailed from England in the 1850's and took three months to get here. One day from their destination, they had a party to celebrate. But the mist set in and they drifted onto the rocks. All hands were lost, and when you see this coast you understand there is simply no way out of the water, to the safety of the land.

Calamitous was their fate and to gaze upon that spot today and then to walk away is most profound.

Every picture is worth a thousand words. Except this one. Here is your archetypal sea arch taken with a ten second delay obviously at sea level.

Almost anyone could do it. But most would remember to take the delay setting off, rather than think their camera was broken for the next ten minutes.

New Year! February 10th, if you are from China. There is a week long holiday for the year of the Dragon. That is why there are so many Chineese folk following us on our trip down this coast. Here we are outnumbered 200 to 1.

Remember selfy-sticks? Such a good idea once upon a time. Why can they not use a 10 second delay like what I do?

Our trip continues, the road begins to wind away from the coast, up and up. Our next stop, Maits Rest, a cool rain forest walk. Here the dense forest is reborn from a time when dinosaurs walked through them. This is a dizzying thought. It is overwhelming, but seems now devoid of amimal or insect life.

Another amazing, free and totally new experience. MKSF 625. To celebrate with them, we will have a Chineese take away tonight is out lovely new rooms at the Captain's At The Bay.

Dear readers, at this half way point, Liz and I want to thank those of you who are still here reading the blog. But particularly those who have contributed help and advice to us long before we embarked. That would be Rob & Chris who insisted we go skiing. Mary the pioneer who has used her previous four visits to distill her knowledge to us. Clare 'The Australian' and Debbie who has family here. And as we mentioned before, Tom from Audley who has put it together. His choice of locations, hotels, excursions and vehicles has been wonderful. We are simply having a wonderful time. Tomorrow, for anyone yet to find them, I will spill the beans about the 'Easter Eggs'. That will be a big letter day.

Valentines Day


Very appropriate:

Easter egg on this day,

Now not so well hidden,

Ultramicrotome are my lines,

Secret eggs? Overridden!

Bass Strait 90K wide with Tasmania over the horizon. But after three months at sea in the 1800s, finding it and missing Crab Island was like, 'sailing through the eye of the needle'. And about 450 ships failed to do so, causing much loss of life. The population beseeched the authorities to build a lighthouse.

Reluctantly, they did, although it was quite a lot of trouble. And here we are today at Cape Otway to shed some light on that story. The earthquake has spilled the mercury all the way down the stairs, we may not enter! Interesting article and comments here.
MKSF 667.

Unperturbed, we get to the historical stuff and look around. Here we find the old house of the keeper and his ten children. The daily semaphore message competition for children on hold, the mast broken by the quake and now being repaired. The rooms are haunted by two of the daughters, this man has the story. The furniture moves by itself sometimes. Below is the tail of a whale, etched into the lawn. I am quite sure that at local noon, the shaddow of the gnomon will partially fill the shape on the ground, but perhaps, at midsummer day, perfectly?

Cheese crisis has been resolved at last. We jump for joy as a plain block of Cheddar made by cows has been located, purchased and stored in our fridge.

Eating out tonight in Apollo Bay another Chinese from that we ate yesterday, it was so good. Taking an easy start tomorrow. Not so much self catering here. We have a rare treat of a cooked breakfast downstairs. The Mitsubishi is fueled, windows cleaned. Melbourne is our final destination in it. It has been a wonderful car to do the Ocean Road in. Expecting more surprises on the way.

15th February 2024

Sea (Ocean) close on the right for first 45 Kms to Melbourne. Magnificent views they are indeed. The road winds sharply clinging to the cliffs it is carved out from. Often climbing steeply, only to drop again to sea level. Desolation of isolated rocky coves and but a little sand. Then comes a small town, overrun by trailers and campers. Then the unusable land and ocean with more bends. A good drive that part.

And then Geelong comes upon us. Long before the town centre the traffic builds. Our plan was to go to the centre for a break and a snack, but there were road works and even without them it was looking a very dodgy idea once seen on the ground. We took the bypass.

Great Scot! Those road works were but nothing to the ones 10 k out of Melbourne. They added to the chaos, what happened to all the good drivers? Speeding road trains in the 4th lane, middle lane hoggers, carfull drivers doing 40 in the 100 zone forcing trucks and everything out. Such bad driving I have never seen.

Aside that, we have another lovely hotel. It is just on the edge of China Town and that is buzzing because of the Lunar New Year. Lazy Susan table for 10? No problem matey. But we did suffer badly as the return address for the car was in a road that was closed (pic 1). Eventually we solved that problem but the contrast from laid back beach surfing life style towns to this could not be greater. We first met Christian and Susan on the train, they were in our section. So we spoke together when we recognised each other in Robe. We went our separate ways, but bumped into each other again in Apollo Bay. However our improbability drive kicked in when we met again in the information office in Melbourne, population 5.3M. They are Danish, AH! those long stories we share, travel is a wonderful thing.

Sorry to see the car left in a deep car park in a building site. However, I would not want one here in Melbourne, which seems like London on steroids, and tipped to become larger than Sydney in the near future. MKSF 875. A 'non authentic Australian Indian Curry' cleared our brains.

16th February 2024

Time to say the egg hunt moved onto level two yesterday, not that you would have noticed on that occasion. Why would you? But today, well you will see.

Firstly, we try the street art walk. It is quite congested with so many thousand more people than usual milling around due to the Taylor Swift Concert tonight at MCG. The walk also seems to be a tour of the largest building projects in the city. Perhaps there is a deep connection with those two things? We give up as number 4 on the tour is on a closed road. We opted to head to Williamstown by river bus.

It is a nice peaceful place and a welcome contrast to the noise and bustle of Melbourne. Williams Town is the origional settlement for Melbourne and has historical buildings such as the Post Office and the Bank of Australia, where we had a fantastic Greek sharing plate for lunch. The safe and window bars are still in place. Here the beach front is very like Lytham Green. Indeed perhaps the whole place, the cafe society, is like Lytham too.

Well intent on circumnavigating local bylaw 4(c)(98.6), this family of four have taken steps to be comfortable by choosing the most random (two) spaces in the most random car park.

St Kilda was our next stop, rather than retrace our steps. It is a small ferry boat ride across a wide bay. The four foot high waves broadside us and make us rock side to side, like being a Swifty near the bass speakers. Occasionally a wave hits the stern and we slew about. Here is where the expensive Melbourne properties are. But after 16,000 steps today I just wanted to get the number 98 tram back to my door step and write this. Excited to have checked in to our flight to Ayres Rock, take off in about 30 hours.

{BREAKING} Liz adds: Melbourne totally flocking with fans. No room in cafes or anywhere else, sooo with a concerted effort we taylored our plans, swiftly left town and tourned our attention to the river and Williamstown. Perfect getaway, thanks Clare. Back home from St Kilda tram full of Swifties on their way to the most exciting night of their lives.

17th February 2024

Seems everywhere you look there are groups of ladies in the trams, bars and restaurants. Ninety-six thousand saw the show last night. Everyone taking selfies, what a silly thing to do. I would never do that, anyway here I am escaping from the herd in the National Gallery. An amusing offering of old and new and different materials. Ambient sounds also play their part.

Down the road is the Melbourne Skydeck, the 84th floor is 35 seconds away and it is a very well managed experience. The windows go down to the floor and give great views. Fixed telescopes show landmarks near and far.

Right at the top, you and a few others, may get into a room with a glass floor. Guess what happens next. The whole room slides out and there you are, hanging in space. There is also a VR experience where you 'Walk the Plank'. The plank IS on the floor, but your head set makes you think you hang in space.

At the top we can see the whole of our river trip, around the long bend, under the huge bridge and out into the bay.

We can look down on helicopters hanging in space!

Picked up a Gyros on the waterfront and headed back to the hotel for some much needed R and R. The weather, like yesterday started cool and cloudy, but soon became hot and Sunny with a blue sky. My feet are sore.

Unfortunately, after reading the back of a ladies t-shirt, we discovered after a little rest, TS is then heading for Sydney. As are we of course. But we are going via Uluru while the TS bandwagon, is not. At average $200 you can see there can not be much profit in the tour. But there is a lot of merch on sale and of course cementing the brand. Good on her.

18th February 2024

Finking about what we may find there in Uluru. Upon arrival we have a spare hour then a late tour. Melbourne airport is a greaat experience, the flight goes well. Not surprised to be a little bumpy on landing, what with the thermals and all that.

From the aircraft we get our first look at this famous place.

Opening the aircraft doors, (after landing) then stepping out into something like a tumble dryer heat. Like nothing we have ever felt before. (Unless we opened the tumble dryer too early). The red centre of Australia.

Easily the best home we have had so far. We are placed well, near the central complex, shops and tour departure zones. Today the walk yourself routes closed at 11:00 due to heat , 41c. When outside, the suggested litre of h2o per hour seems over the top. The air-con is magnificent, silently doing a great job.

Kind of a strange transtition, from the mad house of Melbourne, to this secluded spot.

A few other people are here of course, but not too many. Aboriginal Australians are also here selling their arts and crafts. Their ancestors have been custodians of this land for almost 60,000 years. They are genetically the oldest civilisation on Earth. Looked at Google Maps and zoomed in to our house. Then typed 'Lytham UK' and did a street view of Glengarry. The blink of an eye.

Thankfully, the internet seems better here than Melbourne! There being a huge mast full of dishes right over us and 69.000 less TS fans recording 3 hour long vids up to the cloud. Now preparing for our first excursion. That is to see Sunset over Uluru, followed by a light show and then, if you believe it, a three course dinner. We treck off on a ten minute walk to the bottle shop. We go the long way there , taking the road, but on the way back, we cut across the bush on a path. As expected, we are being troubled by flies. We may unleash our net-hats this evo. Warnings of snakes of course, but giant centipedes also feature on the menu of things to avoid in the bath.

19th February 2024

And hit the ground running. Last night eighty of us went out into the bush on an excursion. It turned into a surreal experience. First stop was canapés and drinks at a viewing platform to watch the Sunset. As the Sun went down, immediately the flies disappeared. Which was a good thing because the next thing was a three course dinner at tables of ten, al fresco. Served beautifully by well trained waiters and guides, managing four bottles of wine, in one hand and politely asking what you wanted. 'Red mate' simply opens further discussions. Each table had a light on it. That was the only light. Then all lights were turned off. We met a 'star talker'. His job was to tell ancient tales and show us the Southern stars. Although it was cloudy he did a great job! (Liz looks lovely in my long sleve shirt). Our dining companions were amazing. Two guys, a couple from New York, Two girls fresh out of uni, celebrating being married for two years, a couple of teachers taking a year off to drag a caravan and two teenagers around plus a Gen-u-ine Ozzy couple who were a lot of steriotypical fun.

You may like a short walk through the 'Field of Light'. This is Bruce Munro’s largest work to date. Overwhelming in size, covering more than seven football fields, it invites immersion in its fantasy garden of 50,000 spindles of light, the stems breathing and swaying through a sympathetic desert spectrum of ochre, deep violet, blue and gentle white. It was manufactured in UK and flown out by Quantas as a publicity stunt. You could look back on my post made 7/2/24 'Absence Embodied' by Chiharu Shiota, because the entanglements and so forth are quite akin to each other. Google images of it, because my photographs are not doing it justice.

Luckily this morning we have a 5am start to travel to the Kata Tjuta National Park to watch the Sunrise over the ancient rock formations. While last night the cloud was a dissapointment, the continuing cloud makes the Sunrise rather more beautiful than usual. We are a small group of ten. It is already very warm. We walked along an ancient river delta, formed well before any life was on Earth. When you understand that you are looking at rocks without ANY fossils you may take a deep breath. The river deposited these rocks in the delta. Then, when sea level rose, the rocks were under pressure. They became hot and melded together to form a large and thick sedimentary beach.

A later shock wave tilted these rocks 19 degrees to form Kata, where we were walking. The same shock wave tilted another section ninety degrees and this is Uluru. The East end of Uluru is therefore several millions of years older than the West end. In both formations what you see is only the tip of a much, much larger formation buried under the present ground level. We were then given a picnic breakfast fruit, cereal, toasted muffins and so on, returned to our homes at about 10:30 as the Sun began to shine and burn the clouds away, it is 42. Given that, it is surprisingly green here at the moment. There has been some rain recently. Rain falls on Uluru and the other out crops, then down waterfalls. The water ends up in many pools at the base of the rocks attracting animals to drink.

People climbed the rocks in the early days of tourism here. With no sanitary facilities they had to leave everything they needed to at the time, at the top. Plastics and other rubbish also accumulated. When it rained, all the water holes eventually became polluted and killed the animals. So there are not many around here now. We did see a feral cat while eating dinner. It was discouraged by one of the guides shining a light onto it until it left. If you are with me on level two eggs, you will know the word used here for everything. 'Hello', 'How u doin?', 'Goodbye', and most commonly, 'Where the hell can I get a pint of cider in the Northern Teritories without walking 20 minutes into the bush, mate?'.

20th February 2024

Yesterday was amazing with the Sunrise and the detailed information regarding the geology. I am almost certain this area of Australia is almost the same as some parts of the Red Planet, Mars. That once had water and deltas and is also abundant with Iron, giving the same redness. Perhaps the compression and heat would have been less than on Earth. Nevertheless. BTW this is Ox our French guide, Très bien et un personnage merveilleux.

Life here is abundant but keeps itself hidden mostly. These two Red Parrots were an exception, making a racket as we got ready to fly out. The other one was better at remaining hidden


Flight plan. Our transfer goes well and the airport experience is very smooth. While we wait for boarding we chat with a young couple and share some experiences. They live in Hawaii, As a present for his sweetheart, the young chap got TS tickets for Sydney. That is super special. Love to you both. I asked them to provide the egg of the day and they sure did. It was a bit like mine, a bit like Liz's. I went with their idea, cheers you two, happy travelling.

Hello again! Says the Captain as we close the doors. He should know. There is no need for a push back here baby, we just roll onto the runway and blast off into the turbulence of the cloud base. Strange, they all have flat bottoms and fluffy tops.

So the pictures here are some that did not make it on the day. We made friends at Ayers Rock and we are all going much the same way either pleased or not pleased about TS. I sincerely do hope nobody jumps on the gravy train bandwagon of taking advantage to put their prices up.

Uluru? Which way is that?

Before today, the political geography of Australia was something I could not get to grips with. But travel has this wonderful effect of putting things in their place. This picture tries to do that. Does it help you?

We have arrived in Sydney and overcome the wave of first World teething problems. Respite from the heat is most welcome. Time zone change again.

21st February 2024

I think you may like to see the contrast three hours in the air can make. You may scroll around our last hotel and even venture to Uluru with Google.

Do you recognise anything in the next photo taken on approach to the airport? What a contrast between the two places.

New places to explore properly today. We went up the tower and this gave us an idea to go to "the beach" using the Metro and a bus.

Our trip was interesting because there was an event on the beach. A warm up publicity shoot for the up coming 'SailGP' racing that will happen over the week end. We may get to see some of the practice sessions as we have a harbour tour booked when they will be on the water as well.

But now we needed to find a good supermarket. It is great to have the laptop and technology. We found one across the bridge from us. We were even able to see inside and confirm it was a big one, with fresh food and all the stuff we want for the next days. There are many magnificent buildings here. These two are close by us. Our hotel is just off the camera's right.

22nd February 2024

Serious stuff follows, fasten your seat belts, your writer has been on a tour with Amanda a native of Australia.

She has explained a great deal to your writer and left a lasting impression. The main topic was how knowledge of living from the land without over exploitation was passed down for, say, 60,000 years by only the spoken word. Individuals were tutored from about 4 years old. A respect for the law, even if you were not being observed, seems to be central to the life style. Failure to obay the common law was brutally punished by your peers.

Extended family was the way things were. Individuals had to go walkabout, survive for themselves, making their way to the next tribe. They would be welcomed and helped. Taught other skills. Those tutors were family. Everyone was family.

Right, I get it. But your writer has thoughts on this. Those skills reach a maximum in the extended community and there is no drive for improvement. For example in childbirth if a woman died, this was nature. Why would you seek to change it? This is not how our, or most other civilisations work. Self enrichment, legal or otherwise, is fundamental. The search for knowledge is at our heart.

Generations stand on the shoulders of those before them.

Only one result was possible when the two civilisations met. and here are some of the 'benefits': The ferry we are on has amazing speed and the crew are lightening fast at getting the passengers on and off at each stop. The monster bridge which allows the biggest liners under it and so much traffic to short cut the bay road. The SOH which is where we are going in about 30 minuets, again, by ferry to see the 'Great Gatsby' a caberet in a 1920's 'nightclub'. Nevertheless the thought of the unchanging dreamtime co-operative does also have an appeal. Darwin would explain why it seems doomed to failure. If it has actually failed. Adonou.

Razzamatazz is what you get at 'The Great Gatsby'. Terrific show full of aerial acts, juggling, singing and dancing with some burlesque tones, all done in the best possible taste. The performers energy was wonderful and the audience were apreciative.

Perhaps my biggest surprise was not so much how hot the flames were in the fire eating act (we were in front tables) but rather to be presented with my red jacket and shirt to wear. It was quite warm on the way there, but worth wearing it for effect.

23rd February 2024

Long day on the water, the best place today in the scorching Sun and heat. Our first trip was a very interesting circuit of the harbour with a lot of interesting facts past and present. Also quite a bit about the celebs who own seafront properties and their values. The SailGP practice was cancelled because of the threats of bad weather. America and Germany (pictured) did sneak out long enough for us to see them. Our guide predicts chaos in the harbour as fans decend into the area for the actual races.

I fancy Australia for this leg of the tour, what with them being on home waters and all that.

A while ago we arranged this meeting with Rick Wheatley, who was at school in Lytham and a regular playmate with many others in Liz's house. Although seen on FB this sort of meeting in person is great fun and a chance to discuss old and new times. Rick moved here about 20 years ago as a doctor.

Saying goodbye we thought we would get on the resonably priced ferry to Manley, a reccomended visit. The Manley ferries are 'Emerald Class' and very fast with wave breaking bows. They went into service 2017. Transport for NSW announced the last one would be named 'Ferry McFerryface'. However the Maritime Union of Australia refused to crew the vessel in protest at the name. It transpires it was not the result of a people's vote but the idea of one man. They later renamed 'May Gibbs'. Manley is a nice beach with many restaurants catering for youngsters. I had failed to drink enough h20 today and needed to get back. On the return trip the weather turned abruptly with a strong cool wind. (Lovely!) and the threatened thunder that kept the yachts back looked to be coming in. Made it home, cooled off. TV pictures of TS concert goers awaiting the start in heavy rain. All passed over now. Presume they liked the cooling effect, like me.

24th February 2024

This is Larry who drove Liz and me around all day in the unplanned rain, mist and zero visibility moments as we climbed. We went to see the magnificent views in the Blue Mountains. Typically being on the edge of a 200m cliff looking out across a valley for a K or two and at another cliff. Presumably with its own tourists looking back at us. Eucalyptus pollen hangs in the air, absorbing red light, making the mountains look blue. But not today.

Sandstone has mixed with Iron bearing rocks in the picture. Then the wind and rain and Sun has eroded it at differing rates to form these patterns. Larry did a great job and we discussed many things on many subjects. The mountain roads can be long between junctions. Our planned journey was further disrupted when a tree fell on the road. (Some time before we arrived). This facilitated us turning around and retracing our steps.

Instead we had to reconfigure the day a little due to very poor visibility and some rain. This petting zoo has many (but not all) animals that have recovered from injury in some way. It also works as a farm.

Marsupial petting zoo experience was not altered by the weather. In fact it was a pleasant change to have a little respite. This Koala did not wake up for anyone. Quite soft to the touch, rather cold and breathing very slowly.

25th February 2024

Took a midday flight to Cairns. Three hours in row 22, managed a snooze. Delighted to have picked up another Kia Sportage. Head North from airport to Port Douglas. Passed swollen rivers. I was not expecting the tropical humidity and heat. The road soon changes to a winding path along the Pacific shoreline. There was a cloud burst, wipers just able to cope. The calm ocean, uninviting. Several temporary traffic lights, en route, allowed us to take close up look from the car at the roadside plants and views.

On arrival, found we were upgraded to this suite for six persons. It is fantastic as is the complex outside. Two pools, I am almost certain to use them at some point due to the weather. Set off to get some 🛒 . Very nice Coles here. Cooked up Lamb shanks and mash while watching all of yesterdays SailGP from Sydney Harbour.

HDMI cable a tad short to get far enough away from huge TV ( shame LOL). Liz did a big reccy of the area on foot. Great effort in the heat. The plan for tomorrow? Because of the deadly marine stingers that like the shallows here at this time of year, we are going to the safe netted off area on the beach for a swim. I write this Monday morning 07:30 so that event is about to happen. If my journal ends here you may guess my fate. Spoiler alert: I survived, much to tell already, tomorrow.

26th February 2024

You go out of the bedroom, through the garden gate, through the rain forest for 50m and find this beautiful spot. That pole, the rigging and the stout piping out to sea making a safe area. I throw myself in to a warm bath that is the Coral Sea.

Lips taste salty. It is 7:30 and floating in the ocean is the place to be. Small crabs run to their burrows or swim in the water churned up by the gentle waves. On the other side of this cage an uncertain fate awaits you during this month. On the beach Coconut Palms hang their fruit over our heads. An ever present danger. Many already on the ground, or the heavy leaves, equally fatal.

Lopping in progress on our return. A cherry picker doing our home's palm trees, cutting down the flowers. No flowers no coconuts. No coconuts no liability.

Eggs for breakfast, then off to Kuranda. This takes us back down the only road towards the airport, but we do turn right and head into the hills. Road works abound. Either the rocks have slid across the road or the road has collapsed at the edge. The first problem is quickly resolved to open the road by pushing the rocks over the cliffs. The second problem requires more work, first digging into the hillside in order to widen the road, then stabilising the fallen side. Much more effort for that. But we progress and arrive.

Just when you think you have seen cute railways, this turns up. Not operating at the moment due to the cyclone damage, but very cute all the same. Like all the roads, the town itself is simply carved out of the rain forest. Where building stops, forest starts.

Xylography is very common here. The market is an infusion of traditional arts and crafts and that from the East. I was swayed to buy a sort of purse, with six zippered pockets in it, beautifully crafted for a totally reasonable price.

Onward we went to Cairns itself. Almost a ghost town. Lunch was found after a long search down at the marina in a lively sports bar thing.

But we found the sea water pool. As you can see, there is a beach here and some fountains. Water temp perfecto! To the right, the huge crescent bay beach lies unloved and muddy. With certain death in the sea from stingers by day, snappers by night, people prefer to use this one. Like so many beaches free barbecue equipment is available. This says so much for the community spirit of the whole country. I have only ever seen a clean one, ready for you to press the button and go. Our trip home focused us more on the devastation caused to the single track road. We think of those doing what we are doing but a few weeks earlier. How Audley would have to help them. The flooded airport closed, the roads destroyed or blocked.

27th February 2024

Don't think, on reflection, we ever had such a sensational day so far, 8 am pick up, short journey to the quay where we got together with eight others for a trip on a catamaran to the Great Barrier Reef. The young Captain was very cool with shades and bandana, everything was ship shape, the other two crew going about the business of setting off.

Now out at sea, with the motor running they set the spinnaker and mainsail too. We were sailing into a strong current, our destination a small island about an hour away. We mustered for a briefing about the boat, our safety and what we were going to do. Our two swifties soon started Sunbathing, Liz chatted to a couple like us who were with their daughter and her beau. Soon to be married. A budgie smuggler and I chatted to the crew and tried to get in the way as much as possible by 'helping'. The ropes and equipment was very interesting, at least to me.

Ahoy! land ho! Came the cry from the crow's nest (not really) and we dropped anchor about 200 meters from the shore. We had all been issued with our equipment by now and had a chance to adjust things and so on.

Lycra suits protect from the Sun and any stingers, although I never saw one. We bundled ourselves into the Jolly and landed on this small desert island. It has a lighthouse and facilities as well a soft sharp sand composed of coral and shells. Seating and shade provided by driftwood erections.

Shark! Yes as we gathered to enter the water a shark swam by. Two feet long perhaps. Our guides were delighted and we proceeded to enter the water. When nicely far from shore our guide explained it was a baby. (You can see our boat in the picture. Are we going to need a bigger one?)

Incredible! We started to snorkel and the sights were amazing. A selection of images show only a few of what we saw. A highlight was when Liz and I both found ourselves in a large shoal of electric blue fish, each about 4 Cms long. They gathered around us and stayed for a while. Our guide took us a long way out and we swam against the strong current. When we rested we drifted back and then we tacked off in a new direction.

Recently the cyclone had swept through damaging this shallow water reef. However we saw quite a lot of diverse coloured coral in patches and that was also where the fish wanted to be.

Upon our boat lunch was being prepared for us. We went ashore and sorted our gear out and took a walk around the island, before going back to the boat.

Onboard lunch was taken and the second dive was organised. This was a free dive from the boat. Here in the deeper water there are columns of coral and the challenge was to try to find and explore them. The Jolly has a glass bottom, some chose that option while I chose to look at the bottom of a glass (of cider) on board chatting with the lookout. Afterwards we set sail towards home under sail alone. A fine experience was that indeed.

28th February 2024

Supermarket trip for starters, great stuff in the bag, should see us through the next 77 hours before our flight home takes off.

Every day has been great on our holiday. Today we planned a trip to the Table Lands however the weather forcast for storms has put us off. It is lunch time and the weather is fine, so we kind of missed that. However this chill out day is working out well. I have made three collages using pictures from all over the place that did not get in first time around.

Many of the things we have done are 'once in a life time experiences'. When we look back on this blog we can hardly believe where we have been and what we have seen.

Alas, time here is running short, 76 hours to take off. But we are not completely finished. Do not let me give you that impression. Liz has just returned from the beach with directions to a Crocodile free swimming hole. Not sure how that is enforced, but we will take it on board. Should the wonderful sea or either of the pools begin to bore us, we may avail.

Great vehicles. Life skill: Finding water in the desert needs a lot of chewing.

You may need to zoom in to see the water temperature outside our home.

Afternoon, we changed our minds and drove to the first stop we had previously planned, Mareeba. The landscape changed as we entered the 'Table Lands', high plains with lakes and termites. Lots of termites. We failed to find some of the spots we planned to stop at and headed home.

Look, said Liz, pointing at a sign to a billabong. Let us go and see what is there. Turned out to amaze us. It is a lake and a camp site of course. But the building is 35 years old and a jumble of 1970's memorabelia, a bit like the guys who live there (rather than popping in for a week).

Perfect end to the day, justified the longish drive into the hills.

29th February 2024

Nothing to see here. We are on a coach trip with 15 others. Peter is our driver and very easy to listen to. He has many tales and interesting facts to tell. This is Mossman Gorge, which reminds us of Peru. We reached it by a mid-level walk through the wet rain forest.

I must say eveything we saw today had been impacted by the cyclone event. Here there was no sand before, but a deep pool you might jump into.

A trip on the river is always good, in this case the Daintree River. Google Maps shows a blue, tree lined river. We saw a brown river with devastation on the banks, and dying Mangrove trees, suffocating from the brown sand being washed out to sea. The local wildlife is all well known to our captain. Here is a lady croc, 25 years old, looking happy despite the cyclone damage. Drift wood and plants have been left tangled in the remaing tree tops. These 'once in a hundred year' floods have been occuring every 6 years now, each with record levels.

Road to Tribulation Point, our destination, is blocked. We get half way to a look out point and here is the photo. The road this far is normally 2 way although very narrow. But at the moment single file with men at either end counting the cars through a stretch that might take ten minutes to pass. So we get another story from Peter, as we wait for the green light. The whole East Coast is spangled with men repairing landslips from the December floods. Our guide explains how work is prioritised, this road will not open soon.

1st March 2024

Double dip, Ocean & pool.

Nice! Golf themed escape room, situated in a golf course complex. Very good game called 'Tournament' run by a lovely lady. Going back tomorrow to play 'Red Riding Hood'.

Everyone should try the free BBQ facilities at least once. This one was gas. We each had two kebabs with asparagus and a baked spud and ate it al fresco.

2nd March 2024

! Minus 10 hours. Minus 38 degrees C.

3rd March 2024