Tag Archives: travel

Filling the tanks, tightening the nuts, cooling the beer

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The Wolf Pack are getting ready and set to go. Once more, Steve and Sue, Moira and Patricia are gearing up for another jaunt chewing dust and cracking teeth on the corrugations, floating on sand and gazing in awe at the beautiful vistas that will furnish our view and treat our gaze in every direction. for example – Ormiston Gorge was looking pretty lovely last time we were there – can’t wait to be there again

Ormiston Gorge, NT

Ormiston Gorge, NT

More soon….. watch this space!!

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The grass is often greener by the van……….

than in the car park, office etc ……. We have taken just a weekend and travelled an hour down the road – a mere 1/2 hour from work actually but we could be 1,000 miles away. The sense of peace and decluttering – no deadlines here. We’ll be back home on Sunday but it is amazing how re-energising it is to take a couple of days parked in the great outdoors. I haven’t looked at my emails once so far. The instinctive – nay compulsive- grab of the iPhone for a quick glimpse in case a pressing need has dropped into my mail box, is under control here. Better than that – the sheer joy of squeaky sand between my toes as the surf crashes onto the beach creating ever finer sand and the once enjoyed delight of picking up a book for mere pleasure – render this weekend a therapeutic wonder . I love my work but this…….. this, I love too. The van is 20 yrs young, was hand built, kept carefully in shed and came into our hands recently – a bargain of bargains and a simple palace on wheels.

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Hong Kong Day 9

ImageWe had a wonderful day (yesterday) on Cheung Chau Island. A ferry ride of about 40 minutes took us to a small island with little motorised traffic. The winding streets showed us a quieter Hong Kong. Bicycles passing and fish of every kind and at every stage of preparation dominated our senses. The harbour was packed with boats of every size – smart black trawlers stood tall resting in alone or in pairs  after a hard night fishing while dozens of sampans and small blue rowing boats were scattered everywhere. Houseboats were quiet whilst fishing boat occupants tidied their nets.ImageImageImageImageImage The hard work of the day was already in progress and fish were drying, carefully arranged on racks.
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We walked for miles along narrow streets bustling with the business of the day.  The day was hot and the toytown two stroke ambulance passed us several times rescuing those who needed help and respite. We stopped for lunch overlooking the water. Bill picked out the Grouper who we named Garry and we sat down to a marvelous spread of whole crab & ginger, broccoli & garlic, tofu with mushrooms & boc choi…. and Garry – steamed. As we ate – just in front of us, a team of fishermen and women served their customers with fish that simply couldn’t be any fresher. A customer arrived and the net was pulled up on the side of the boat – lunch was chosen and the dish of the day was scaled, decapitated and gutted – not always in that order. An eel tried its best to be available for tea instead but to no avail! ImageImageFollowing a very long and gastronomically yum lunch we walked again – this time as far as the ‘Happy Desert’ Shop – Bill had black rice and mango and Janette and I enjoyed the yummiest desserts – a cornflour and gluten envelope wrapped around mango and peanut & salt – the texture of the thing was amazing let alone the taste and eating experience – wow to those desserts – need the recipe….. now. Barely able to walk by now – we made our way back to the ferry and to Kowloon again as teaching beckoned. This evening (and also tonight) were the student presentations – they were marvelous – to a man and woman they had taken on board what we had taught and presented  work which demonstrated their understanding and ability to critically apply the concepts we had discussed through the week. What a pleasure and a wonderful experience it has been to teach here.ImageImageImage

Hong Kong_Day 7

ImageImageToday we visited Stanley on the southern coast of Hong Kong Island. We also taught some tricky concepts to the students which they embraced and developed -just sayin’! Having taken the speedy, shiny & efficient MTR to Central on HK island – burrowing under the harbour – we sat upfront on the bus and enjoyed the thrills (without spills) as the bus negotiated the narrow lanes, twisty bends and steep climbs on its way to Stanley. We passed beautiful bays with sandy shark-netted beaches. Shady trees stood guard around the borders of the beaches but few people enjoyed their shadows. ImageWe arrived at Stanley and squandered a happy couple of hours before enjoying lunch with a view over the ocean. The corniche reminded me of Croatia or another Mediterranean waterfront locale – the food was absolutely gorgeous and the icy cold San Miguel slipped down easily.ImageImageImageImageImageImage

 

Still waiting in Birdsville

Well here we sit, still happily relaxing by the billabong in Birdsville. The sun is getting lower in the sky, preparing to say goodbye for another day and visit friends in far off places. The huge mutant ninja crows continue to call to each other exchanging tit bits of information about camper’s debri. The odd pelican skids & comes to a halt on the water, landing like the great seaplanes of days gone by. The wind is stretching its muscles & preparing to sing and howl for another night.
The days are glorious and we have been going for walks around town – all of it- but the nights have been cold, requiring either a fire or a visit to the pub…. and firewood costs $17.50 a bag!
Visited the health centre & chatted with the two nurses there – one, an agency nurse on her first day and the other a seasoned outback master of all trades in her third year. These nurses are on call 24/7, manage health promotion clinics, chronic disease & primary care in addition to rescuing ill prepared tourists from dangerous situations in the desert. Their triage & assessment skills together with their clinical judgement are second to none as they alone must make the call on an ($8000) RFDS ambulance call out or not. The first (2) nurses arrived here in 1923 and established the Australian Interior Mission hospital in the Royal Hotel. They battled drought, floods, searing temperatures alone to provide the first health service for the people of Birdsville. In 1929, one year after it was established, the RFDS arrived here to support the nurses’ work. They later moved into the AIM hospital next door, and the present clinic was opened a few years ago.
The visitor centre,centre link office & library are housed in a newish building and sports an excellent and fascinating display of historical and natural items. We later took the “two boys dreaming” walk. A 2km walk telling the story of the dreaming & the serpent opening the land here by crossing the desert and creating water holes.
We have become regulars at the Birdsville Bakery, where Dusty Miller bakes fresh bread and all kinds of pies when he is not out on desert rescues. The bakery also houses the only expresso coffee machine in town! Mr Gaffney runs the Mobile service station in addition to the post office, store & is seen at the airport as the TransAir representative. Peter Barnes, a wizard in all things mechanical, also runs a desert rescue service.
When we had seen Birdsville, we took another look and found a geocache near the Geothermal plant. This amazing power station is fed by water from the bore – which arrives at 78 degrees or so and provides electricity to the town, also, when cooled, provides the town’s water.
Tomorrow we leave on a teeny tiny plane to Mount Isa & then onto Brisbane. We have spent the afternoon working out how to cram all of the rooftop items into the car & what the minimum items we will need to hand carry ( as we won’t get the rest back for a couple of months). Now to dinner as the sun sets and the temperature drops.

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Waiting in Birdsville

Well, here we sit in Birdsville – not quite marooned but unable to proceed so maybe it’s the same thing!! The car needs a new fuel tank – having got us here across 620km of desert and over 1200 or so dunes first, bless Nellie Nissan. The other problem being that 2 out of 4 roads out are closed at the moment. So, we await a decision on freighting the Patrol & us flying home – not that the flights are particularly available!! However – the 5 days that we spent traversing the 1200 dunes were amazing. The diversity of topography, vegetation & landscapes was immense.
Day one saw us leaving Dalhousie Springs – having had a water leak ( not us) which required a 140km round trip dash back to mount dare over gibber rocks & a very rutted road to fix the leak & top up the water, which then demanded a top up of fuel as there are no bowsers in the Simpson. That done , we arrived at Dalhousie Springs to punctures for me and Steve. A quick lesson in how to plug a tyre for me & both tyres fixed. We then spent a glorious hour in the natural hot springs and watched the sunset.
Next day saw us heading in to the desert proper – dunes and rutted tracks took us along the French Line, down the Rig Road to the WAA Line where we made camp after Nellie overheated a bit. 1st night in the desert – the skies were immense, the milky way clear as day & the dingoes howled. Wonderful. Day 2 along the WAA line, up the Colson track, French line again – crossing windswept soft, big dunes – and along the Erebeena track to make camp at the Lone Gum Tree. A Coolabah tree that sits alone among the dunes. We were plagued by rats but there were no real trouble – they were desert rats & really very cute – even when Dave awoke to find 5 on top of his swag!!
Fresh damper & red wine solves most things luckily. Day 3 and we headed east back along the WAA line which has the same high dunes as the French but they are less travelled so the track wasn’t always obvious. The wind can blow fresh sand over the tracks pretty quickly. We were bouncing along merrily and set off across the large salt pan that would take us to the Knolls Track. Then we came to a halt as the patrol sank up to her sills. Carefully I popped her into low range and gently reversed – success! but no way across the salt pan this way. Steve led the way around the salt pan’s edge, heading south and then east across the lake together with a little track making across the dunes – this we christened Gilly’s Track. Safely onto the Knoll’s Track we headed north and the rejoined the French Line and made camp after a pretty long hard day. Only a few rats this night but we had some rain overnight. Not enough to cause a problem but just enough to give some traction. Day 4 and we headed east along the French line again to Poeppel corner, then we headed north along the side of an immense salt pan. The crossing of this one was dry but rutted and we hit the QAA line to head east for the last 130km. The dunes were different again, some high, windswept & rutted but without the twists and sudden unseen dogleg turns at the top. We camped at Eyre Creek, once again to the howls of Dingoes but without the rats:) Day 5 and we bounced over the Nemesis Dune to see Big Red- magnificent – before us. Of course Nellie climbed first time – agin- 14 psi front and 16 psi rear tyres & low range second took her up & over. Although, once again the engine light came on indicating a fuel feed problem. Into Birdsville around the 17km flood detour and set up camp – Nellie coughing & spluttering as she went. Now we have the freight confirmed for Nellie & we await a flight outa here! More soon but what a magnificent experience in all.

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Camped at William Creek – population 3 + 1 dog

Three women, two men & a boy left Broken Hill about five days ago. We have reached William Creek which is on the Oodnadatta Track. We are en route to cross the Simpson Desert in about a week’s time. The traveling has been good with graders having done their work after the floods receded from the tracks. We amped at Broken Hill for two nights and then headed for Tiboburra. We had planned to get to Cameron corner but he going was very slow and so we made camp in the Sturt National Park at Dead Horse Gully. The scenery was stunning and the camp site situated among the desert brush & jump-ups. The days have been warming up with big blue skies – but the temperatures at night have been freezing – literally! We then set off for Cam. Corner on a good track crossing the dunes. The desert has been abundant in its green dressing. After lunch at the “Yellow Bus” we camped at Montecolinna Bore on the Strezliki Track and, despite the freezing temperature in the evening, we all enjoyed mother nature’s spa bath in the bore – a balmy 38ish degrees. The landsce was lunar with the full moon shining on the white sand. The dingoes howled and one was silhouetted against th setting sun.

The next day headed down the S Track & camped at Farina Ruins. The ruins are being restored but are testament to the early pastoralists & rail workers servicing the Ghan. The camp was beautiful – an oasis in the desert landscape. This morning we stopped to wonder at Lake Eyre South – majestic yet sultry – with water in it then on to William Creek via the Bubbler, Blanche Cup & Cowards Springs – all mound springs bubbling up from deep within the earth providing living conditions for algae & fish found nowhere else.
Windy and sunny at William Creek – good day for drying:). Posted my friend Rowena’s wedding stubbie holder on the wall of the pub as a fitting resting place for all to admire.

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