Friday Flowers: Aussie Gardens

On Monday Aussies are celebrating their national day…in the way they love best…with a long weekend. To celebrate I thought I’d be a little lateral in my approach to Friday Flowers and focus on Aussie gardens and revisit aspects of my earlier posts. Most of these photos have been used before either in my A to Z Series in 2013 or my 365 Project in 2012.

As a welcome to today’s post, we’ll walk through the gates of an Open Garden from a few years ago. As with many Darwin gardens the Balinese influences are apparent.

Welcome to the garden.

Welcome to the garden.

 

Kayaks lillies and shadows_edited-1From Balinese influences to a typical Territory bush scene of another Open Garden...paper bark (melaleuca) trees through a billabong decorated with waterlilies.

From there to the unfurling of a bat plant in my own garden. Sadly I’ve since had to move the plant as a large tree, which provided shade, had to be removed. Since then it’s become a shadow of its former self.

what am I day 2

batplant maturing

Yet another Top End Open Garden, the Mosaic House, revealed its Balinese flavour with an almost Spanish influence. The shades of cool green offer a counter-balance to the tropical humidity.

Open Garden, Mosaic House, Parap, Northern Territory

Open Garden, Mosaic House, Parap, Northern Territory

For many Darwinites, a trip to the Parap markets is a Saturday morning activity involving the purchase of weekly tropical flowers for about $7 a bunch.

Buy a bunch of tropical flowers for under $10.

Buy a bunch of tropical flowers for under $10.

In trips to the billabongs and waterways of Kakadu National Park, a World Heritage Area, the colour from lotus flowers adds a vibrant zing to the day, not to be counterbalanced by the threat of saltwater crocs lurking in the same waterways.

cropped-436-waterlily2.jpg

DSC_1099And of course what are gardens and parks without a little avian interest? Above we see one of my favourite birds, the rainbow bee eater – it’s iridescent beauty is best seen as it flits through the air chasing its snacks of insects.

Did I give him indigestion?

I think I gave him indigestion, chasing him for his picture.

And there’s the cheeky cockies (cockatoos) which are seen everywhere at this time of the year. This fellow was photographed on Australia Day 2012, snacking on a berry from a palm.

On that same Australia Day we had huge storms and winds which salt-encrusted the trees along the beach-line, turning them brown for months. There really wasn’t much need for the sunscreen, hat or umbrella but the bug spray was handy.

Not much need for the sunscreen or the NT News giggle hat but the bug spray was handy today.

Not much need for the sunscreen or the NT News giggle hat but the bug spray was handy today.

Starting with a Balinese influence, we end with one as well. I love the vibrancy of the colours against the tropical sky at another of Darwin’s Open Gardens.

Bali vibe in Darwin

Bali vibe in Darwin

Happy Australia Day to all my genimates. I hope this week’s flowers and gardens have brought colour and sunshine to your day and the week ahead. 

 

 

Reflections on A to Z 2013

a to z survivor_[2013]Time for the annual reflections post on this year’s April A to Z challenge.

THE PLUSES:

My blog specifically

The opportunity to let people know this blog exists.Outcome: my readership, and my commenters, increased enormously.

The pleasure of sharing some beautiful places in Australia world-wide, a virtual tour. Outcome: this seemed to be well received.

The chance to have some fun with the Aussie-isms. Outcome: readers seemed to enjoy them, and it was interesting to see which phrases we have in common.

Outcome for me overall: I really enjoyed reading people’s comments and seeing places through their eyes. I found some great new-to-me blogs!

For the first couple of weeks I had posts pre-scheduled but then after significant computer problems, I was scurrying.  I had pre-planned my themes almost as last year’s challenge finished, and prepared a spreadsheet checklist of topics, though I did change one or two closer to the time.

It’s been great seeing that my visitors have come from all over the world, but I wish I’d thought to put a map counter on my blog before we started rather than after!

I’ve added a new page to my blog so all my A to Z 2013 posts are in one place.

A to Z in general

I really liked the coding to each blog and regretted not “reading the manual” before I posted my link. In my defence, that conspicuous warning notice hadn’t then been added.

I enjoy sharing across the different themes – like reading a different book genre it opens you up to new blogs.

There seemed to be fewer blogs requiring CAPTCHA shenanigans this year, but still some.

I did a Sunday Synopsis post for three weeks listing some of the blogs I read, but again technical problems and life in general slowed me down.

The tip to put our signature with a hot link to the A to Z blog was great! Thanks guys!

THE NOT-SO-GOOD

My blog specifically

I’d just completed the February Photo Collage Festival every day in Feb on my other blog so hitting another daily commitment for a month was a strain. I wouldn’t do back-to-back like that again.

Pre-planning the posts worked well as did scheduling posts, but the hunting for photos took a fair bit of time: an incentive to keep working on my photo archives in the coming year.

The technical problems I had with two laptops being started from scratch and learning new programs meant that I was playing catch-up for the last two weeks.

A to Z in general

I think the now-huge list is just too massive to cover. Perhaps it’s more reasonable to expect that bloggers aim for a more realistic target. For example I really don’t like fantasy writing (sorry authors!) so I’m unlikely to invest much time there, nor do I have any worthwhile comments to make. There are other themes where I’d happily spend my time.

While it’s nice to know someone has “liked” your post, I prefer comments – probably we all do. Having said that if I’ve commented on several posts on a blog I’d like to be able to just “like” another one or two of their posts. Many bloggers don’t provide a “like” option at all.

If I go to the trouble of making a comment I find it so frustrating if people don’t bother to respond. It feels like you’re left talking to yourself.

Some blogs seemed to have their A to Z posts quite obscured. Sidebar links? Top bars?

We all make typos from time to time, but some bloggers mis-spell so much it’s hard to make sense of what they’re saying. I’m being a grammar tyrant but it sets my teeth on edge. Yes, I know that’s down to individual bloggers and not the organisers or the challenge itself.

I follow my favourite blogs via Google Reader rather than subscribe via email and with the loss of Reader mid-year I’m going to have to move to Feedly or something else. The challenge is keeping up with reading the myriad blogs I follow especially when life gets in the way.

WHERE TO FROM HERE?

Right now I’m saying to myself “I’ve done two A to Z challenges I won’t do another” but that may be the February challenge speaking as well.

Give me a month or two and my position will be clearer. Much will depend on whether I have a theme I want to follow. (Oh no, I just thought of one!)

KUDOS

Thanks to Arlee Bird and all the co-organisers and supporters who visited many blogs. I wonder if they managed any sleep in April?

Thanks also to the new readers of my blog and the wonderful people who commented, once, twice or many times. You made my days!

Z is for THE END

a-to-z-letters-z Z is for THE END

Isn’t it a great achievement of determination and commitment for all of us to have reached the end of the A to Z challenge for 2013? I can’t wait for my Survivor’s Badge. Meanwhile…today we’re back over in the Kimberley in Western Australia.

Z is for ZEBEDEE SPRINGS

Zebedee Springs is a fresh water spring on the El Questro property. It’s a popular spot for a cool swim and relaxation, so much so that the hours are regulated with residents in the morning and tour groups in the afternoon. I wouldn’t personally place it as high on my list as some of the more picturesque fresh water springs but I did enjoy my dip when we visited.Zebedee springs low

Z is for ZEBRA ROCK

Zebra Rock is a strange geological feature of the Kimberley from near the Ord River (also home of those gorgeous Argyle pink diamonds!).

Zebra Rock low

Zebra Rock is a pretty and much cheaper souvenir if you’re over touring there. It looks nice when it’s polished up and oiled or lacquered – something that’s been on my “gunna” list for an embarrassingly long time. The diamonds are great too if you have a lots of cash to splash!

Working on the Zebra Rock.

Working on the Zebra Rock.

As this is the finale, I’d like to say THANK YOU for touring with me. I hope you’ve enjoyed your virtual travel and that it may encourage you to visit Down Under sometime. I still have lots of blog reading to catch up from with the challenge and I’m planning to do another Sunday Synopsis soon. I’ve enjoyed reading the stories others have written but I’m also miles behind with posts. 

FINAL AUSSIE-ISMS

Zac: is the vernacular term for the old sixpence, equivalent to the current 5 cent piece. Since decimal currency was adopted on 14 February 1966, the term has faded into near obligion.

Zonked: Exhausted, super tired from a big effort at something eg “I’m zonked from completing the A to Z challenge and I’m off to ‘catch some zzzs’.”

Z as an abbreviation: Most Australians have an obsessive compulsion to shorten names (just try that with my husband!!). A frequent modification is the replacement of part of the name with a couple of zzs. Sharon becomes Shazza: Barry is Bazza (why? It’s not even shorter); Dazza for Darren; Kezza for Kerry. I’m sure my Aussie mates will have some extras for you in the comments. I admit to being un-Australian in this regard –I really don’t like the habit.

See you soon – the photos and stories will continue, just not every day!

Image courtesy of Office Images online.

Image courtesy of Office Images online.

Y is for Yellow Waters

a-to-z-letters-yY IS FOR YELLOW WATERS

Way back at the letter C is for Cooinda I made reference to a touring feature based there. The Yellow Waters cruise is, for my money, one of the best things you can do in Kakadu National Park. For bird watchers or croc seekers it has plenty on offer. For those who want to chill out just pottering along through the waterways it’s just perfect.

A jacana (aka Jesus bird because they appear to walk on water), backlit by the sun.

A jacana backlit by the sun.

Whenever you visit you’re bound to see something different because nature doesn’t run to a schedule of activities: we’ve seen a croc take a large barramundi, brolgas dancing, jabiru, pelicans (occasionally), azure kingfishers, sea eagles and a steady avian diet of cormorants, night herons and jacanas.

A tranquil scene on Yellow Waters.

A tranquil scene on Yellow Waters.

A male jacana and a chick.

A male jacana and a chick.

During the Wet Season the cruise is one of the activities that still continues but it is different because the water is so much higher, and with more water around, the birds are less desperate for places to hang out.  On the flip side you may see magnificent wet season clouds, all puffy and thunderous against the sky.

A sea eagle with his catch, a file snake.

A sea eagle with his catch, a file snake.

As you cruise through narrow channels into the larger billabong and waterways I sometimes feel like I’m on a secret pathway. It’s a rare trip when we haven’t seen something special and on a recent trip (the first we’ve done for a while) we saw a gorgeous rainbow, tiny jacana chicks and a sea eagle up a dead tree with his capture of a file snake (good tucker for all apparently).

Pot of gold Yellow waters low

Is there a pot of gold at Yellow Waters?

During the Dry Season the birds proliferate but then so do the tourists, but since you’ll be one you can hardly complain <smile>. The tour guides are very efficient and knowledgeable about the area. Our most recent guide (Mandy I think from memory) was the daughter of a traditional elder and she had lots to share with us. Some guides are more into birds, other into culture and Indigenous life, but all know that the average tourist is desperate to see a crocodile (count me out!).

The locals enjoy throwing in a line when time permits.

The locals enjoy throwing in a line when time permits.

I was saddened to learn on the recent visit that the boats can no longer get down into the Melaleuca “swamp” where it was rather like being a serene yet spooky forest.

an old photo, probably the Dry Season, with pelicans,

an old photo, probably the Dry Season, with pelicans, water lilies, ducks and herons.

Everywhere you will see lotus flowers, water lilies and other flowering trees like some of the mangroves. What’s flowering again depends on the season.

Trying to impress his mate, this brolga was right into the dance.

Trying to impress his mate, this brolga was right into the dance.

If you do travel to the Territory I hope you take this short voyage because it’s superb, and if you’re staying overnight at the lodge, perhaps book for the sunrise or sunset trip because you can either get a gorgeous sunrise through the mist which rises off the water in the Dry Season, or a blood orange sunset.

A serene sunset  over the water.

A serene sunset over the water.

Why visit: If you love nature, birds or just the serenity of being on the water.

Coming on to the end of the afternoon, the colours and reflections were so pretty.

Coming on to the end of the afternoon, the colours and reflections were so pretty.

FYI: There’s are a couple of maps on my A to Z planning post which will help you to pinpoint where today’s tourist spots are situated.

Snowflake water lilies look like something by Monet.

Snowflake water lilies look like something by Monet.

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

Yarn: chat or tell a story

Yakka: a brand of men’s work wear

Yakka: logically enough, hard work.

Youse: vernacular plural of you (used by some people but sets my teeth on edge)

Yobbo: a rough and ready person, rough around the edges, uncouth.

Y is for Yeehaa! Only one more A to Z post to go!

T is for Tropical Rainforests

a-to-z-letters-t Over the past few weeks we’ve been focused on the far north of Australia, especially the Northern Territory and the Kimberley in Western Australia. This part of the country experiences heavy rains during the summer months (usually December-March) and almost completely dry weather in the Dry (May-August).

For the Wet months of the year the country looks fresh and green and lush, but come the drier months, it quickly becomes steadily browner. For all the rain, you aren’t seeing tropical rainforest, rather tropical savannahs.P1000789

Over on the eastern coast in far north Queensland (FNQ), the story is different, especially north of Cairns where we’ll be heading today. This is tropical rainforest, lush, green and thick vegetation, one of 200 globally important eco-regions. The Daintree is a world-renowned touring location for Wet Tropics and with fewer and fewer rainforests world-wide is extremely important.

P1000794

What this means for the tourist is a completely different experience of scenery, flora and fauna. While many world travellers come to see the Barrier Reef, the tropical rainforests are a great complement to that adventure.P1000783

The green of the jungle runs down to the water’s edge merging with shades of blue and turquoise, interspersed only by sandy beaches.  You don’t really need to do a tour of the area, unless you feel you really want to. A normal hire car will get you to most of the important places, but do make sure not to wander into the 4WD area only! There are lots of places you can explore without the 4WD vehicle.P1000760

The Daintree Discovery Centre with its aerial walkways and boardwalks is amazing, with a wealth of information about the wildlife which live in the rainforest and the plants that grow there. If you’re into nature you will inevitably need more time than you think. Check out the web link just to get a preliminary insight.P1000785

Cape Tribulation is a tranquil spot where the rainforest really does meet the sea. While you’re nearby a trip to the tropical fruit farm is an eye-opener. If you get a chance do try an ice cream made from the unusual tropical fruits. Or spend a night or two just relaxing in the area and communing with nature. There are some very glamorous places to stay.

Where the rainforest meets the reef nearing dusk.

Where the rainforest meets the reef nearing dusk.

We visited Mossman Gorge quite a number of years ago and just loved the sight of the river running over the huge boulders. We had afternoon tea overlooking the river –just delightful.SCAN1086

This area has a strong Aboriginal heritage too and there’s quite a lot of opportunities for travellers to learn more about Indigenous culture.

Take a steam train trip on the Kuranda scenic railway.

Take a steam train trip on the Kuranda scenic railway.

Closer to Cairns you can also see the rainforest by taking the Skyrail up to the ranges then perhaps coming back down via the Kuranda steam train, a fun adventure for all ages.

Why visit: to see one of the world’s great rainforest areas, to experience nature and see the flora and fauna. Enjoy the contrast between the sea, the sky and the sand.

A humorous take on avoiding cassowaries.

A humorous take on avoiding cassowaries.

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

A cassowary at Crocodylus Park, Darwin. These birds with vicious claws are native to the Daintree.

A cassowary at Crocodylus Park, Darwin. These birds with vicious claws are native to the Daintree.

Tinnie: this can be a beer can or a small aluminium boat for fishing.

Tong Master: the bloke in charge of the BBQ -usually the man in the house. In this context it’s almost 100% likely to be a man, surrounded by other blokes, beers in hand. Thanks Kellie for reminding me of this one 🙂

 Ticker: another dual meaning. It can mean heart as in “my ticker’s playing up” or courage in “he’s got a lot of ticker”

Too easy: Another new one which is in common use by Territory tradies. It’s the equivalent of “no worries” or “no problems”.

Togs: this is the Queensland name for a swimsuit –one of the words which differentiates people from different states.

 Trackie daks: tracksuit pants

Technicolour yawn: to vomit

 Thongs: rubber scuffs for your feet, as well as more recently the rather brief ladies’ underwear.

Tucker: food

S is for Slithering, Snapping, Stinging and Scary

S is for Ssssss

a-to-z-letters-sAustralians do love to stir visitors with the threat of its slithery, snapping, stinging, stabbing venomous critters. You might even say it’s a national hobby. Yes, we also have those cuddly koalas and cute kangaroos but it’s the surreptitious creatures that strike fear into many hearts, visitors and locals alike.

Add that to an Aussie’s love of the beach and you’ve got a very unfortunate combination, especially in Australia’s Far North where there’s even more of them, or as one daughter once said “I’m going where there are fewer creatures to kill me“: she’d had enough of stingers, salties and king brown snakes! But the Territory was under her skin and she came back.

Now that we’re up to the letter S, you’ve seen a lot of gorgeous places that you might want to add to your Bucket List. Today’s post is the warning notice that comes with your booking….you know, the contract’s small print. You’ll soon realise why so many of us prefer the pool to the beach if we live above the Tropic of Capricorn. So what have you got to be afraid aware of? Apart from the length of this post, that is.

Stingers

A box jellyfish. Image from Wikipedia.

A box jellyfish. Image from Wikipedia.

These are the party poopers of the natural world of our Tropical zone…you look out at those magnificent blue seas but swimming is hazardous. Apparently stingers are also literate because they only hang around in the months with an R in the name (September to April).  We’re not talking blue bottles here, even though those can deliver a nasty sting to be remedied with your mother’s old blue bag from the washing. The box jellyfish of the tropical waters can/may kill you or, at a minimum, deliver an incredibly painful sting. Deaths may be rare but I know personally of at least one case where a small child died. Vinegar over the sting helps, but not going in the water helps even more.

Some beaches on the north east coast of Queensland are protected with stinger nets, but unfortunately the Top End of the NT and WA have such tidal extremes that nets are impossible.

 Snapping Salties

I snapped this croc at Crocodylus Park. You get the picture!

I snapped this croc at Crocodylus Park. You get the picture!

Saltwater crocs abound in our waterways, especially since culling became illegal. All river systems, the ocean and many billabongs provide them with a lovely home and food source. They’re there and they’re dangerous…seriously dangerous.  The local rag newspaper keeps track of how many are removed from Darwin Harbour each year: we’re already up to 59 this year….and that’s just the ones they’ve trapped.

Visitors to town can visit Crocosaurus Cove where you get an example of the fierceness and strength of their jaws –their “snap factor”. Where else might one’s small grandchildren automatically ask if there are crocs in a waterway and know that crocs will take their prey in a death roll underwater before stashing it under a log?

And if you’re camping make sure you’re not too close to a waterway unless you fancy being “human en croute” for Mr or Ms Croc.

If you’ve visiting Darwin, do add the Museum to your touring list. It’s an excellent tourist venue and you can see all these scary creatures safely preserved where they can’t hurt you! A popular feature is Sweetheart the saltwater croc which has an interesting story. (Have a coffee or lunch or smoko in the Cornucopia Cafe while you’re there and enjoy the great view of the Sea).

Snakes

Kingbrownsnake

A king brown or mulga snake, common around the Top End. Image from Wikipedia.

Australia apparently has more venomous snakes than anywhere else in the world (too far for St Patrick to get here it seems!). I grew up around a fair few snakes because we lived near a creek with natural bush. I have great respect, and a high degree of loathing, for them. My Dad’s advice was always to stand very still for a short while, then ever so slowly walk backwards for a way. My addition was “then run like hell”. This training proved very helpful one day at the beach when I found myself, in bare feet, less than a foot from a mercifully snoozy death adder. Mind you, I didn’t much like all my fellow wood-collectors screaming and shrieking at the same time.

When walking in the bush it certainly pays to keep your eyes peeled (and wear shoes!) as a sunning-itself snake can look remarkably like a fallen branch. Not to mention there are some cracker water snakes, all of which are venomous if the museum is to be believed.

Mercifully there are a lot of anti-venenes available for the most prevalent snakes.

Shark wikipediaSharks

The other scary water creature is the shark which is certainly out there in the tropical waters but takes a lower profile thanks to the stingers and salties. Further south, where they’re the main water hazard they have a well deserved reputation for dangerous attacks. Perth seems especially vulnerable. Coastal Queensland has some shark nets out past the surf which are monitored.

 Spiders, Shells, Stonefish

Did you think I’d finished with scaring you?

We have more than our share of poisonous Spiders but really they tend to be played down in the larger scheme of things. Not to say they’re not potentially dangerous!

A stonefish in an aquarium is far more obvious than in the natural world. Image from Wikipedia.

A stonefish in an aquarium is far more obvious than in the natural world. Image from Wikipedia.

I love collecting Shells but even these have life-threatening potential. In my pre-ecologically-aware youth I used to collect shells from the reef at Magnetic Island. Cone shells have a barb that shoots out if you pick them up so you need to learn the correct way to do so (with the narrow end facing away).

Stonefish are another hazard of tropical waters and especially around Queensland’s north. They’re the ugliest creatures you might see and extremely difficult to spot at low tide huddled in the dark sand or mud. Stand on one and you’ll know all about it! Hence why wearing shoes is wise when roaming the reef at low tide.

Scared yet? How about some gardening?

Perhaps all these hazards of the natural world have frightened you off and you think a nice safe spot of gardening will do the trick.

Well no, because during the Wet Season there’s another hazard: Nightcliff Gardening Disease (after a Darwin suburb) is its common name but more correctly it’s Melioidosis. Most people aren’t susceptible but those with poor immunity or perhaps diabetes are at risk of infection and subsequently amputation or even death.

 S is for the Stuart Highway

My original plan had been to talk about the Stuart Highway, aka The Track, which runs from Darwin south to Alice Springs then Adelaide. However, I decided to make S a more fun post and I’ll share the important history of the Track after the A to Z is finished.  If you want to see where it is, and just how pivotal it is to touring the Territory: you can see the highway represented by a steady stream of yellow flags.

Map for A to Z
Why visit: For all that these risks are real, plainly they’re also not statistically high or Australia would have an even smaller population! It’s all a matter of common Sense and taking appropriate precautions. Surely all those wonderful Sights and Scenery outweigh a few risks.

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

A galah. Image from Wikipedia.

A galah. Image from Wikipedia.

Silly galah: a foolish person, might be affectionate, or not. After our vivacious and slightly silly pink and grey bird of the same name. Not too dissimilar to “as silly as a two bob (cheap) watch”

Shrapnel: small coins/change (I’ve got so much shrapnel in my purse my handbag is heavy).

Station: This is an important one! In this context it’s a large property for grazing animals. These are NOT called ranches in Australia.

Stockman: a person who works on a station rounding up cattle etc.

Sanger: Sandwich

Sanger short of a picnic: a bit mad or crazy, not “all there”.

Snake in the grass: lying treacherous person

Scab: someone who works when other staff are on strike. This is a mega-insult. Alternatively “can I scab a few dollars off you” means “borrow”.

Skippy: Kangaroo or wallaby

Smoko: tea break –especially used by tradies or people on the land

Sweet: Not sure where this one came from but a more recent expression meaning “it’s all good” or “happy with that”

Join me Tomorrow as we Tarry in the Tropics.

Sunday Synopsis A to Z challenge: 21 April 2013

A2Z-2013-BADGE-001Small_zps669396f9 (1)This week has been something of a shambles with more technical problems. My writing and reading have both fallen behind so I’ll have a lot to catch up on this week. Meanwhile I leave you with only a couple of blogs:

Pick of the Week has to be my friend Kristin’s blog Finding Eliza as she has been listed as one of the Top 40 Genealogy Blogs for 2013. This is what Family History Magazine said about her blog:

Through family photos and old newspaper clippings, Kristin Cleage Williams tells the story of the family she’s been researching since 1963. Reading her blog takes you into the personal side of the civil rights movement—her father was a prominent minister—as well as efforts to combat segregation in the early part of the 20th century.

If you ever thought history was irrelevant or that your family had nothing to do with proper history, do read Kristin’s blog as it will change your mind – we all play our part, small or large.

Branches, Leaves and Pollen (Amy is writing about family history)

 Simply Sarah is writing a short, imaginative children’s story each day.

My apologies for this  short list…if you haven’t looked at my previous two weeks’ blog recommendations why not check them out.. 

Thanks to all those who’ve visited my blog, those who’ve commented, and especially those who’ve chosen to follow me. 

There’s some big adventures this week so I hope you enjoy the journey.

R is for roaming the roadways

renner-springs-windmill-11R is for RENNER SPRINGS

One of our regular overnight stops on the long drive to Brisbane is Renner Springs, especially when we set out from here later than intended. On the face of it, Renner Springs appears to be a pretty boring road stop with not much to recommend it but pop over to my post about the surprising things you might see if you wander around a bit, or if you’re up early.

R is for ROAMING

Since we’re on the road I thought today we’d have a chilled-out kind of R day and check out some of the weird and wonderful signs we’ve seen on those long-distance drives.

Just to set the scene I want to show you an image to capture just how vast our distances are as I’ve mentioned previously. Darwin is about equidistant to Brisbane on the east coast or Adelaide in the south, roughly 3300kms. I took this photo a few years ago on the coast of Ireland. Moscow anyone?

Yes we are a long way away from "anywhere".

Yes we are a long way away from “anywhere”.

The roads of the north are regularly sprinkled with road trains. They’re BIG and very daunting. With the prime mover and three or four trailers they can be up to 50 metres in length and be travelling at around 100kph.  Fortunately the drivers are generally responsible but it can take a long time to pass one of these even at the legal open-road limit of 130kph. So this is how to deal with them. I always have my heart in my mouth when I have to overtake one. 603 Road train sign

The large frill neck lizard is a feature of the Top End, as are Dry Season fires.

The large frill neck lizard is a feature of the Top End, as are Dry Season fires.

This road sign was at Mataranka, about 4 hrs south of Darwin. Not that I've seen brolgas there.

This road sign was at Mataranka, about 4 hrs south of Darwin. Not that I’ve seen brolgas there.

There are crocodile warning signs on most of the waterways in the Top End -with good reason -this is just one example. Do take them seriously…this is not a “beat up”: people and animals can and do get taken by crocs…not many live to tell the tale.Croc warning And if anyone can explain what a rhinoceros has to do with the Northern Territory I’d be happy to learn. We saw this on the way to Alice Springs one year.

Rhinoceros in the NT?

Rhinoceros in the NT?

This edited road sign on a Queensland road was a humorous warning of the hazards of cattle on the road. obey the cow god

A innovative response to marketing - start advertising at a distance! Only 2000kms away.

A innovative response to marketing – start advertising at a distance! Only 2000kms and another State away.

When we visited Tasmania a few years back, during poppy season, we were much taken with this signage on the fences. (so okay this is in the south, but how could I resist) P1030087 TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

Ripper beauty: Excellent, great idea etc. Or just “ripper” on its own.

Ratbag: another insult, generally mild and may even be somewhat admiring when it’s implying cheeky and the like.

Ring-in: someone or something that doesn’t belong, an extra on an outing. I’ve brought along a ring-in, hope that’s okay.

Ringer:  has two uses: (1) as the shearer of sheep with the highest tally (of sheep shorn) in a certain time (2) stockman droving cattle; and sometimes (3) as in dead ringer (below)

Dead ringer: a look-alike eg she’s a dead ringer for ….name your famous person. Or she’s a dead ringer of her mother at that age.

Reckon: estimate of cost or an opinion. I reckon he’s bitten off more than he can chew this time OR I reckon it would be worth a hundred bucks.

Rip off: when the cost of the item is more than it’s worth.

RMs: short for R M Williams – boots, jeans, hats, belts, the ridgey didge bushman’s clobber (clothing)

Ridgey didge: True blue, fair dinkum, honest, the real thing, the genuine article.

Ranch: Australians do NOT have ranches!!!

Q is for El Questro and Queensland

a-to-z-letters-qOnce again today’s trip takes us across the NT-WA border into the magnificent Kimberley area.

Q is for El QUESTRO

El Questro Wilderness Park lies in the north-east of the Kimberley’s 421,000 square kilometres of natural wonderland. The property is perhaps more well-known for its high-end luxury accommodation in the homestead, but that shouldn’t deter those of us with less well-lined pockets as there are other options for staying here.

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When we visited back in 2001 we chose to stay in the secluded camping spots alongside the PentecostRiver, which have no facilities, rather than the busier camp site nearer to the Station. It was blissful to be just relaxing in the midst of the bush listening to the birds, rather than other campers. It’s not as if you’re miles from anywhere as it’s a short drive, or longer walk, to the shop near the campground. Why didn’t we take a photo of our campsite I’d like to know?!

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Apart from the two camping areas, the more upmarket bungalows, and the lodge, there are also the safari-style tents at Emma Gorge, closer to the entry to the property. Even if you’re not staying there you can go into the restaurant/bar area and have a “coldie” either before or after your walk into the gorge.

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Although you may be tempted to do a lot of chilling-out (not always easy in the 30+C heat!), there are plenty of activities you can organise through the Station. We chose to do the Chamberlain Gorge boat cruise and absolutely loved it. The scenery is magnificent, once again with the landmark red cliffs and fresh water. Of course the colour of the rocks changes with the time of day and when the sun is angled on it.

Look closely and you will see the "Bradshaw" paintings of people, a hand print and a kangaroo. All on the cliff face protected by overhangs.

Look closely and you will see the “Bradshaw” paintings of people, a hand print and a kangaroo. All on the cliff face protected by overhangs.

The guide will also show you some of the ancient Aboriginal art that’s tucked away among the cliffs, overhangs and mini-caves. It is such a privilege to see this art that dates back thousands of years, perhaps as much as 20,000 years.

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The Wandjina paintings are just beautiful I think and a nice souvenir is to buy a pair of stirling silver earrings in those shapes from a jewellers in Kununura.

If you want to know more about the facilities and touring options you can check out their e-brochure, and sadly I’m not getting any kick-backs on this promo. But I am reminded that it’s far too long since we visited ourselves, though it will be tents once again for us.

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The other really important thing you need to know is there is no access during the northern Wet Season (about December-March or April), so you need to keep this in mind. Similarly what sort of vehicle you’re driving will determine how early in the open season you can drive in, as the river may still be impassable in a sedan (especially a hire car!!).

The boab is a feature of the Kimberley landscape

The boab is a feature of the Kimberley landscape

And if you want to know what it’s like staying at the homestead you can check out this post by the couple we met recently in Papua New Guinea.

Emma Gorge

Emma Gorge

Q is for QUEENSLAND

Okay I’m not going to talk about Queensland here except to say the northern half of the state sits in the same latitudes as the other places we’ve been talking about. Some of the scenery may be similar but east of the Great Dividing Range you hit the Wet Tropics. More on that anon. How could I not mention my home state under Q?

Why visitFor yet more magnificent outback scenery, to see ancient Aboriginal art and just to have fun.

FYI: Don’t forget to check out where these places are on the maps on my A to Z planning post which will help you to pinpoint where today’s tourist spots are situated.

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

 Queer as a fish: feeling sick ie crook

Quid: a pound in the old money pre–decimal currency on 14 February 1966 (a jingle that those of us who were around then remember vividly).

Quids: as above but a measure of value: you wouldn’t be dead for quids.

Quack: the doctor. Not a reflection on his medical qualifications or skills. My dad always referred to his GP as “the quack”.

Queasy: sick, especially nauseous.

Where shall we travel for R, I wonder?

P is for Purnululu National Park (WA)

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P is for PURNULULU 

Today’s travel excursion takes us over the Territory’s western border to the Kimberley region of Western Australia and Purnululu National Park, more commonly known as the Bungle Bungles. Accessible by a rough 4WD track this site is justifiably famous for its amazing rock formations and wilderness. When my daughter and I drove in some years ago, there were a number of casualties along the road –camper trailers with wrecked axles, cars with flat tyres etc.

There is no resort there so you take in your own gear and take out your rubbish. If you don’t have a 4WD this wonderful site is inaccessible and you’re left with a small aircraft or helicopter flight as your only option. We chose to do that as well, making it my one and only helicopter flight, and what a great one it was! I’ll let the photos show you just how spectacular it is.

The distinctively striped domes of the Bungle Bungles.

The distinctively striped domes of the Bungle Bungles.

As well as the rock formations there are “hidden” waterholes providing shelter and serenity for the country’s original inhabitants, and its more recent visitors.

Seen from the air, the vastness and strangeness of this area is remarkable.

Seen from the air, the vastness and strangeness of this area is remarkable.

Those who have an interest in geology might be interested in a quick read here. It’s worth remembering that despite the relative youth of the nation of Australia, its Indigenous people have been here for over 50,000 years surviving in an often very unforgiving landscape.

A helicopter flight reveals the hidden canyons, waterways and domes of the national park.

A helicopter flight reveals the hidden canyons, waterways and domes of the national park.

Why Visit: To see a truly unusual natural feature and for a wilderness, rough camping experience. This is a seasonal location and can’t be visited in the summer months (the Wet Season).

FYI: There are a couple of maps on my A to Z planning post which will help you to pinpoint where today’s tourist spot is situated.

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

Prawn: don’t be difficult/silly or a pratt eg “don’t come the raw prawn with me”.

Pakapoo ticket* an indecipherable bit of writing.

Pav: short for pavlova, that delicious Aussie/Kiwi meringue dessert

Plonk: cheap wine or alcohol

Pommy: an Englishman (apologies to my northern hemisphere mates!)

Possie: a position/place: somewhere good to sit or eat or camp etc (we got a good possie where we could see the stage at the Xmas carols)

Prang: a car accident (not a major crash) “the kids pranged the car again”.

Why not check in tomorrow to see where Q will take us?

This water channel gives some idea of the force of the Wet Season's rains.

This water channel gives some idea of the force of the Wet Season’s rains.