A Travellerspoint blog

At the Mercy of The Mob

Villainy on Kangaroo Island

sunny 39 °C

Kangaroo Island appeared ideal when we were looking for somewhere to get away from the hurly-burly for a few days, although the $400 return fare for a car and two on the 45 minute ferry crossing, seemed somewhat excessive - take note disgruntled B.C ferry riders. However, we quickly appreciated the solitude that money can buy when we saw the dozens of totally deserted pristine beaches…
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… coupled with the spectacular views of the Great Australian Bight…
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With just 4 thousand people on an island the size of Bali, (population 4 million), we expected to be alone in our cliff top home, but as we ate dinner on the terrace we had an uneasy feeling that we were being watched…
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A few small figures had emerged from the shadows and started inching towards us… did they have concealed weapons? And then we spotted a couple of heavies sparring in the distance and knew we were in for a hit.
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These mobsters were no patsies and we were just thinking that it was time for us to scram and call in the Feds when Big Joey Capone, the mob leader, called his henchmen together to plan the heist…
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It looked like our garden salad was the loot they were after and Matilda, Big Joey’s broad, was the bait…
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Here’s the plan: while we were snapping mugshots of Matilda and her cute little punk, Joey Capone Jun., the hitmen would rush us, mob-handed, and snatch the booty.
O.K. So here’s the scoop. The 75 kangaroos who visited us every evening weren’t at all threatening and we loved living amongst them on their island. Kangaroo Island, just 16 kms off the coast of South Australia, has fabulous scenery, fascinating wildlife, beautiful beaches and wonderful weather, and if it were more accessible it would be overrun with resorts, casinos and beach bums. As it is – there is little here but a few stores, a café or two, some artists’ studios and a whole mob of adorable kangaroos...
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We are now at the furthest point from home on this trip. We are back on the mainland and it’s all uphill from here as we work our way to Sydney along the Great Ocean Road. We’ve left behind the island's cooling sea breezes and the thermometer has shot up from a pleasant 30 degrees to a steamy 39. A storm is brewing tonight and we hope our new found island friends find some shelter under the casuarinas trees and flowering banksias of the native gardens at Stokes Bay...
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Posted by Hawkson 23:19 Archived in Australia Comments (9)

The Garden of Adelaide

sunny 33 °C

When the British settlers arrived in South Australia in the early 1800s, after several months at sea, they probably believed they had found the Garden of Eden, so they built many handsome churches like the ones back home so they could thank their god. This church in North Adelaide is a replica of the church in Stone, Staffordshire…
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They also built many fine-looking houses…
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…elegant hotels…
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…and grandiose public buildings…
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…along wide flower lined boulevards…
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They then surrounded their homes and their new city with beautiful gardens…
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Adelaide’s botanical gardens were planted in 1855 and the city’s Mediterranean climate, together with its sheltered location, provides the ideal conditions for all manner of vegetation to thrive. Giant palms and even bananas flourish alongside eucalyptus, oaks and London planes. This avenue of majestic Morton Bay Fig trees was planted 161 years ago…
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Adelaide is truly a Garden of Eden where even the city shuttle bus and bicycles are free to locals and tourists…
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After four days in the Outback almost any city might seem interesting and exciting, but Adelaide seems to have it all. When we set our itinerary we had no idea that we would roll into town on the busiest weekend of the year. It is a public holiday on Monday, (when The Adelaide Cup is run), and this weekend marks the grand finale of the Fringe Festival. We took in some of the festival sights, ate at some excellent restaurants and just enjoyed the ambience of this beautiful little city perched at the end of the world…
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We hope you have enjoyed our Antipodean jaunt thus far but, having been on the road, (and in the air), for the past 43 days and having slept in 35 different places, it’s time we took a break. For the next four days we are going to be off the grid on one of Australia’s smaller isles - Kangaroo Island. If we are not back by Thursday you can assume that we’ve just fallen in love with the place – we certainly loved Adelaide.

Posted by Hawkson 15:50 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

A Walk on the Wild Side

Crossing the Australian Outback the Easy Way

sunny 37 °C

The Australian Outback can be brutal –it’s been in the high 30s for the past few days – but, unlike the early pioneers, we had an air-conditioned 4x4. We started from Armidale and wondered why an Australian woman laughed when we said that our guide book described the city as similar to a Cotswold village. We pictured honey coloured stone cottages; ivy covered medieval mansions and misty rivers meandering through lush water-meadows like those of Bourton-On-The_Water. But this is downtown Armidale…
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Oh-oh! We obviously missed something? Maybe this Armidale pub sign says it all…
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However, we stayed at a delightful alpaca farm a few miles from town and got to stroke these little guys…
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From Armidale we drove 5 hours to Dubbo and were pleasantly surprised when we arrived in the tourist friendly riverside town…
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While Tasmania and New Zealand are gentle reminders of 1960s rural England, mainland Australia is much more like today’s California. Big box stores, splashy shopping malls, wide, shady, sidewalks and heat. Thirty seven in the shade but we cooled off in the hotel pool and shopped at air-conditioned Woolworth’s – Yes, dear reader, Woolworth’s is alive and well in Australia, (and is called ‘Countdown’ in New Zealand). Woolies has excellent food with prices comparable to home, (although the fruit and vegetables are expensive considering that most of it is homegrown). The only bad thing about Dubbo is that its sounds like the nickname of the school dimwit and we wonder why they don’t change it to something inviting like Kookaburra Landings or Coolabah Creek.

We could have managed the 400 kilometers from Dubbo to Cobar, our next stop in the bush, without a steering wheel. Hour after hour of dead straight road through parched eucalyptus forests and miles of scorched farmland sounds boring – but it wasn’t. Watching out for kangaroos, emus and flocks of flambouyant birds in the bush kept us alert, as did the 200 foot long road trains transporting cattle and sheep across the dusty red prairie…
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These sheep had the right idea when it came to keeping cool…
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The checkout girls in Cobar’s only supermarket thought we were kidding when we said that we found 37 degrees a little hot: fifty in the shade is not uncommon. However, as we constantly hear on TV and in the streets, this is an unusually blistering fall.

We broke our six hour drive from Cobar to Broken Hill at the one horse town of Wilcannia on the banks of the dried-up River Darling…
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The width of Wilcannia’s main street shows that it must have been quite a place in its heyday but it has almost given up the ghost; just one café, a post office and a medical clinic administered by The Royal Australian Flying Doctors.
Three hours later and we are in the mining metropolis of Broken Hill where we visit the NSW home of the iconic winged doctors. This plane is being serviced at their regional HQ …
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We still have nearly 500 kms of bush before we hit the lush green gardens of Adelaide, but we will miss the wide open plains that stretch in all directions under the relentless sun, and we will miss the kangaroos, the feral goats and the flocks of emus that scavenge the sparse vegetation in the desolate lands of central Australia. Here’s a final goodbye to the emus…
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We hope to see you tomorrow in the South Australia capital of Adelaide.

Posted by Hawkson 03:27 Archived in Australia Comments (4)

What a Difference A Day Makes!

Hobart and Sydney – Worlds Apart

sunny 31 °C

Sydney and Hobart are both roughly 200 years old but that’s where the similarity ends. After a month leisurely driving the length and breadth of the bucolic islands of New Zealand and Tasmania we flew to the mainland in just 90 minutes and suffered culture shock when we hit the frenetic multi-lane highways of Sydney. The following morning was Sunday so we expected a quiet 240 kilometres drive north to the seaside resort of Nelson Bay – but half the residents of Sydney came along for the ride…
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Australia is in the grip of an unprecedented heatwave. Temperature records are broken daily, (and nightly), and there has been little rain for months, so the weekend roads were packed with Aussies escaping to the sea…
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These are the dunes at Anna’s Bay and anyone visiting Waikiki Beach might be interested to know that the soft golden sand of Hawaii is actually shipped from here in bulk carriers.
But enough of the heat, the fabulous beaches and the warm seas: we are beginning a cross country marathon from Coffs Harbour on the east coast to Adelaide in South Australia and have to cover more than 2,200 kilometres in the next four days. This is Coffs Harbour…
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Much of Australia is a desert presently but we have seen more live animals and exotic birds in three days than we saw in a whole month in NZ and Tassie. So, while we bake in the outback without internet until next weekend, here’s a teaser for you. If you correctly identify at least 4 of these fabulous birds you will receive a postcard from beautiful downtown Broken Hill…
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Good luck – and see you next Saturday.

Posted by Hawkson 01:27 Archived in Australia Comments (13)

Hobart's Market Day

sunny 27 °C

When Hobart was the southern ocean’s whaling capital more than a century ago the quayside warehouses at Salamanca bustled with activity as the whalers brought their great catches ashore for processing…
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Today the old whaler’s warehouses at Salamanca are quieter, (and considerably less smelly), but this area is a hive of activity each Saturday morning when the city’s weekly market is held here. While we missed this market we were lucky enough to catch the Twilight market in the nearby suburb of Sandy Bay…
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Local arts, crafts, pies and beer reminded us of our own weekly market at home – though the idea of people wandering around in public with pints of beer in hand would shock most Canadians to the core…
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This brewery has been operated in Hobart since 1824...
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Less than 50,000 people live in Hobart city, while a further 150,000 are scattered throughout its inlets and islands in quaint seaside communities that could be mistaken for Frinton-on-sea or White Rock in the 1950s. It is a delightful city of parks, gardens and pristine beaches surrounded by forested mountains…
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This sailing ship, the Lady Nelson, is an exact replica of the ship that brought the first Brits to Hobart in 1802. The voyage took 4 months...
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Tasmania truly is at the end of the earth and for many early Antarctic explorers Hobart’s green hills were perhaps the last sighting of verdant life before they were lost forever in the frigid wastes with only penguins for company. Penguins also nest on Tasmania’s rocky shores and we visited the tiny north west community of Penguin in order to see them. We saw this one…
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However, the live fairy penguins of Tasmania are elusive creatures and they certainly eluded us. Another elusive creature unique to this land is the Tasmanian devil. These dog-sized marsupials may look fierce but this little fella in a zoo was just an adorable pup…
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Tasmania somewhat ashamedly calls itself the “Road kill capital the World” and we have seen plenty of evidence to support this. Tasmanian devils are carnivores that love road kill but they have terrible eyesight so often end up being a meal for the next one. They are also dying in the wild because of an epidemic of facial cancer.
We are now saying goodbye to Hobart, but not for us the great southern ocean and the frigid wastes of Antarctica. We are flying north across the Bass Strait to Australia’s main island where, despite the arrival of fall, the mercury is still boiling in the 40s…
We will miss Tasmania with its lovely weather, endless unspoiled beaches, quaint villages and abundance of nature. It is truly one of the world’s best kept secrets.

Posted by Hawkson 03:17 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

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