Exmouth to Carnarvon Coral Reef, Wallabies and The Dish Our last day at Sal Salis started early as we had a 4 hour 38 minute drive from Exmouth to Carnarvon…
Browse for “Lowlights” to get an honest insight into the pitfalls of travelling and avoid them if you can. Forewarned is forearmed!
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.
A great coffee is always a good way to start the day and Australia is truly expert at it. The flat white at the Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort is particularly good and the ocean side restaurant is a lovely spot for breakfast. A pod of dolphins pops in reliably
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.
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.
Esperance to Kalgoorlie - #DriveYourselfWild It is a 4 and a half hours drive from Esperance to Kalgoorlie, which gives you limited time to explore once you get there, so…
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.
Exploring the Margaret River Region. Kaya Wadandi Noongar Boodja - Aborigini for “Hallo and Welcome to Wadandi Noongar country. This morning, we took the short drive to Ambergate Reserve and Walk Trail and walked through the bush in search of wildflowers.
Cape Lodge, Margaret River is a very well appointed hotel with lovely gardens big enough to take a nice stroll around. Spacious, light and airy rooms have lake or garden views and spa baths big enough for two.
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.
The Pan Pacific comfortable hotel well located in the centre of downtown Perth a short walking distance from the lively Elizabeth Quay area, the (free) bus to King's Park and the Swan River.
White City to Natchez via the Louisiana State Penitentiary The great joy of travelling is that you never quite know what the day has in store for you. The Louisiana…
Laissez les bons temps roulez - let the good times continue to roll though... We moved on today to White Castle, driving the river road up the great Mississippi River to White Castle. This is sugar plantation country. It was fun to pass road signs to all the places you hear about in the songs you love
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!
Oldeshoremore and Loch Gleann Dubh The day started fine, so we headed over to the beaches at Oldshoremore that we had driven past in our haste to reach Sandwood Bay.…
Sandwood Bay - One of Scotland's Most Beautiful Hidden Beaches About 20 miles from Durness, via Kinlochbervie, the road turns off to the right towards Oldshoremore and leads to a car park…
En route from Bettyhill to Durness, we stopped at the Strathnaver Museum in Bettyhill (opens at 10). The museum gives excellent coverage of the Highland Clearances.
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.
Yesterday, we took the 4.5km Mount Iron Loop Trail which gives great views of Wonderful Wanaka as a reward for the very steep uphill climb. We were only walking for a couple of hours, but the elevation gain - up hill consistently for an hour - made it feel like harder work than that.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org) and arrived at beautiful Sanctuary in the Sounds of Punga Cove Resort - an hour and a half later.
Life's a Beach in Whangamata Barefoot Walking If it’s good enough for the kiwis, then it’s good enough for us -we walked 10k today - barefoot! OK - it was…
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).
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
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!
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.
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.
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.