Browse for “Lowlights” to get an honest insight into the pitfalls of travelling and avoid them if you can.  Forewarned is forearmed!

Read more about the article Monkey Mia to Ningaloo Reef – A Scenic Flight over Shark Bay and a Thorny Devil!
Shark Bay Aviation Scenic Flight

Monkey Mia to Ningaloo Reef – A Scenic Flight over Shark Bay and a Thorny Devil!

We made an early start today on our journey from Monkey Mia to Ningaloo Reef so we could take a pre-booked early morning scenic flight with Shark Bay Aviation.  Their “bargain” flight is 40 minutes long and is a really great way to get a different perspective on this vast and largely inaccessible wilderness area.  You get superb views of the huge salt works, lagoons, Dirk Hartog Island, Steep Point (the most Westerly point of mainland Australia), sea clliffs and the wondrous crystal clear blue spectrum of the Indian Ocean.

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Read more about the article Polished Perth
Perth - a blend of old and new but young at heart

Polished Perth

Polished Perth - capital of a state ten time the size of Great Britain - is as close to the nearest big city (Adelaide) as London is to Leningrad.  Perth is a large, clean, modern city much like many others, but its balmy climate, position by the wide, blue Swan River and radiant sunlight bouncing off the skyscrapers gives it a unique charm all of its own.  It is, in every sense, very polished with a smart, high-sheen finish.

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Read more about the article Kalgoorlie to Perth – Rough and Tough
Kalgoorlie Super Pit Digger

Kalgoorlie to Perth – Rough and Tough

It is a long way from Esperance to Kalgoorlie - and an even longer road from Kalgoorlie to Perth (7 hours with one brief stop).  This Place is Rough and Tough.  With hindsight, we should have spent 2 days in Kalgoorlie which would have given us a chance to visit the Super Pit and also the Flying Doctor Service which is based here, which would have been really fascinating.

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Read more about the article Albany to Bremer Bay – “No Worries Mate!”
Kangaroos - Quaalup Homestead Fitzgerald River NP WA

Albany to Bremer Bay – “No Worries Mate!”

We woke early on the morning of our drive from Albany to Bremer Bay and enjoyed a hearty breaky (pronounced brekkie) at the Three Anchors in Alby. (Hey - this learning the lingo is a real breeze!).  A group of other early risers were lifting weights with big grins on their faces outside the cafe.  Middleton Beach has a net line set up for swimmers (large marine animals can’t pass through it, but small fish can) and there were half a dozen of them braving the cool morning to have a dip in the ocean.

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Read more about the article Perth to Mandurah – Slow down and enjoy the ride …
Mandurah

Perth to Mandurah – Slow down and enjoy the ride …

We picked up the hire car this morning to drive from Perth to Mandurah and were a bit disappointed to find it had no sat nav as we had requested.  Fortunately, our 'phone plans cover Australia, so we could plug them into Apple Play and get by on Google maps.  Perth is not a busy city by any means and was easy to navigate our way out of.  We were quickly out into the country and driving on deserted roads.  There is so much SPACE here!  It is also much greener than we expected, although the earth is deep red underneath.

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Read more about the article Seasickness on Hurtigruten – The Lowlight
Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have

Seasickness on Hurtigruten – The Lowlight

Gale force winds were blowing all day today meaning that the ship was rocking about a lot leaving many people feeling nauseous - including me.  The on board shop was doing. roaring trade in sea sickness tablets - even the crew were taking them. The decks were closed, which meant you couldn't even get a breath of air.  Everything began to feel very claustrophobic.  Unfortunately, seasickness on Hurtigruten is something you may well have to put up with if the weather is rough - which it often is - so come prepared!

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Read more about the article Experience the Sounds of Silence of Shadowland
Sounds of Silence - Doubtful Sound

Experience the Sounds of Silence of Shadowland

Yesterday, we took a short cruise with Real Journeys across Lake Manapouri then a coach trip on the remote sub-alpine route over Wilmot Pass and into Doubtful Sound where we docked overnight on the Fiordland Navigator. This is a very peaceful and beautiful place where you can experience the Sounds of Silence of Shadowland.​   The boat turned off its engines and everyone kept a complete silence for five minutes - blissful.

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Read more about the article Sanctuary in the Sounds – Punga Cove Resort – Queen Charlotte Sound
Sanctuary in the Sounds Punga Cove Resort

Sanctuary in the Sounds – Punga Cove Resort – Queen Charlotte Sound

Punga Cove Resort - Sanctuary in the Sounds It was a day’s drive from Tongariro to Wellington via the twisting, scenic Wanganui River Road.  The next day, we boarded the Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton - a 3 and a half hour journey.  From there, we boarded a pre-booked water taxi (operated by Cougar Line enquiries@cougarline.co.nz) and arrived at beautiful Sanctuary in the Sounds of Punga Cove Resort  - an hour and a half later.

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Read more about the article Homeward Bound – Thank Goodness!
Finland can be really beautiful

Homeward Bound – Thank Goodness!

A 5.30 start was again scheduled – we didn’t go. Good move – bacon was back on the breakfast menu this morning and was still quite hot early on. Temperatures on the vans were -14 this morning and the only bird anyone saw was the red grouse, again. No Snowy Owls then (which was the one bird we had really both been hoping to see).

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Read more about the article Knysna – Not so Nicena
Cape Fur Seal Colony Robberg Peninsula

Knysna – Not so Nicena

We hiked the Robberg Peninsula today - a really lovely walk. The weather was overcast, which was a bit of a shame, but it was warm and dry at least. There are a lot of lovely coastal and forest walks around Knysna - much nicer than the built up areas all around the coast from here to Plettenberg Bay (Plett). In parts of the Garden Route aalong the coast, there are townships on both sides of the road - not at all scenic. Lots of properties here have electric fences protecting them and most shops/hotels etc seem to have 24 hour armed respond security. A quarter of the back page of the Visit Knysna tourism flier has safety advice for tourists. All common sense stuff, but disconcerting nonetheless 

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Read more about the article Goodbye Shamwari – Hallo Knysna
Sicla - Doing the Weeding

Goodbye Shamwari – Hallo Knysna

This morning was our last 5am start and our last game drive. It was time for us to say "Goodbye Shamwari - Hallo Knysna".  Sicla was on a mission to find me more elephants - not too difficult to track with the large prints their feet make. They are rather like huge marshmallows!

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Read more about the article Cheetah Going in for the Kill … 4 out of the Big 5
Going in for the kill. Hands off - this is all mine!

Cheetah Going in for the Kill … 4 out of the Big 5

Today's game drives would reward us with sightings of 4 of the Big 5 (rhino, buffalo, elephant, cheetah and leopard).   This morning, an hour or more's driving was rewarded by a cheetah sighting.  The kill was fresh - somewhat distressing (more so as the prey was a pregnant female springbok) until you get used to the fact that you are watching the natural world all around you as it happens in real life here. The light was right and we were - with some valuable guidance. From our very talented guides - able to take some great shots.

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Read more about the article Hike to the Fernery
Dolphin Trail picnic lunch - complete with table cloth!

Hike to the Fernery

We left the comfort of the Misty Mountains Resort and set off on the second day of our hike, through wild garlic, curry plant, pelargoniums, yellow daisies, arum lilies and trees I have never a seen before. We saw: iron wood (heavier than water so it doesn't float); stink wood (used for furniture, and smells when cut) and knot wood - which looked like something from prehistoric times. We passed through banks of pretty coral fern, which is (somewhat unbelievably given its delicacy and the distance) harvested for export to florists mainly in France, Germany and Holland.

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Read more about the article Don’t feed the baboons …!
Concrete Baboons - the Closest I got!

Don’t feed the baboons …!

It took us 5 hours to reach Hlangana Lodge. There was little traffic and the route was indeed scenic. We passed a woman carrying a large cardboard book on her head - no hands - better deportment than you see on most high streets back home. Several people had woolly hats on - odd as it was over 30 today. We also saw an ostrich running wild, with 3 chicks. The highlight though was the baboon troop running across the motorway. We were looking out for them as there were notices warning you not to feed the baboons. Hard to photograph through the car window and we didn't want to slow down too much or stop for obvious reasons.

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