Diesel and Dust (An Australian Classic)

Diesel and Dust

If you travel the breadth of Australia, across its vast open plains and wide-open skies, you are bound to experience plenty of Diesel and Dust…

And doing it in summer you can experience some extremes of temperature and just recently we recorded an outside temperature of 50 degrees Celsius.

So with those types of temperatures we decided it best we lay up somewhere cool for a couple of days and there has been no better place to do that than Burra in South Australia

Burra, or Kooringa as it was originally named, was Australia’s first surveyed mining town.  And in the early 1850s it was Australia’s largest inland town and boasted the famous “Monster Mine” which was established after shepherds discovered copper in the rocky outcrops near Burra Burra Creek.

Monster Mine

History doesn’t record the shepherds as becoming rich from the discovery, but it certainly made its many shareholders wealthy over time.

Speaking of time, it has almost stood still in Burra, which is now on the Register of the National Estate and many of its buildings are listed on the Heritage Register.

And the fans of the Australian Rock Band Midnight Oil will recognise the “Old Burra Homestead” which proudly stands in a paddock on the outskirts of town.

Diesel and Dust, hey we’ll take that any day.

About us…

We have always loved the colours of the Australian Outback, the ochre red earth touching a deep blue sky on a faraway horizon; and the fabulous coastline of our sunburnt country, where a golden sandy beach is washed over by a turquoise blue sea; and the characters you meet in a quiet country pub, where it is nothing flash, but you are enriched by the encounter…

 A couple of years ago we decided that it was time for us to “graduate from work” and re-enter “the classroom of life” where an education is guaranteed and all that is needed is an open mind.

 Thanks for joining us in the adventure…!

 Cheers, Baz & Janet-Planet (Barry & Janet O’Malley)

A giant wave that no surfer can ride (In the Australian Outback…)

Catching a wave is usually associated with a trip to the beach during our long, hot and lazy Australian summers.

But this is one Wave that no surfer can ride; in fact you won’t even find it rolling in off the ocean.

This “Wave” is situated in the wheat belt growing region of West Australia and is quite a remarkable rock formation in the Australian bush. It stands at 15 metres tall and 110 metres long and whilst you can’t “ride” it water still was a major contributor to its formation.

Tiny lichens, moss, and algae resulting in a marvelous contrast of orange and black produce the colour in the rock estimated to be thousand’s of millions of years old.

Wave Rock is part of the Hyden Rock formation and is well worth the visit, but hey, just a tip; leave your surfboard at home…!

Photos: Baz and Janet-Planet, Out & About in the Australian Outback…

About us…

We have always loved the colours of the Australian Outback, the ochre red earth touching a deep blue sky on a faraway horizon; and the fabulous coastline of our sunburnt country, where a golden sandy beach is washed over by a turquoise blue sea; and the characters you meet in a quiet country pub, where it is nothing flash, but you are enriched by the encounter…

A couple of years ago we decided that after many years of paid and unpaid work that it was time for us to “graduate from work” and re-enter “the classroom of life” where an education is guaranteed and all that is needed is an open mind.

Thanks for joining us in the adventure…!

Life on the edge – an encounter with a dragon (in the Australian Outback)

Australian Reptile

Oh, no need to worry…!

This wasn’t an encounter with the fire-breathing type of dragon ready to flash fry you you with a quick burst of flame.

No, this was an encounter with a rather cute reptile, aptly named the “Ornate Dragon”, that is barely bigger than the size of your foot and unlikely to do you any harm. We came across this wonderful reptile whilst visiting Wave Rock during our recent travel in West Australia.

Mind you, it took some skill and patience to capture them on camera as they scooted across the rock at a great pace, stopping only momentarily to bob their head up and down as well as doing some push-ups.

The head bobbing and push-ups are part of its mating ritual and from all the head bobbing and push-ups we observed there was little doubt the mating season was in full swing…

About us…

We have always loved the colours of the Australian Outback, the ochre red earth touching a deep blue sky on a faraway horizon; and the fabulous coastline of our sunburnt country, where a golden sandy beach is washed over by a turquoise blue sea; and the characters you meet in a quiet country pub, where it is nothing flash, but you are enriched by the encounter and the banter…

In 2017 we decided that after many years of paid and unpaid work that it was time for us to “graduate from work” and re-enter “the classroom of life” where an education is guaranteed and all that is needed is an open mind.

Thanks for joining us in the adventure…!

 

Torgadirrup Dreaming (Mind The Gap…)

The traditional custodians of this very beautiful part of Australia, the Mirnang people, tell the following story about this place.

Two Mirnang brothers had their differences and were fighting over a young woman. The elders became tired of their squabbling and sent them to a place near The Gap.

They made one stand on one side of The Gap and one on the other side. One brother was good at throwing spears, while the other was good at throwing boomerangs. As the first brother threw a boomerang, the second threw his spear.

The first brother was struck by the spear. The other brother was struck in the back by the boomerang. Both warriors fell into the water.

The brother who was  struck in the back by a boomerang turned into a shark. The fin on the shark is the boomerang. The brother who was hit by the spear turned into a stingray.

Dreamtime stories told by the Traditional Custodians are a wonderful way of gaining a better appreciation and understanding of our land and Janet and I seek them out wherever we travel in this great country of ours…

This story is recounted on a story board at The Gap and was made available by the sons of Norngen…

Photo’s: Baz – The Landy & Janet-Planet, South West, West Australia…

PS: And yes, it is a long way from our usual travel in the Australian Outback…!

Swimming with Rays…

Hamlin Bay, nestled south of the Margaret River, beautifully showcases the dramatic and beautiful southern West Australian coastline.

Today, Hamlin Bay is a mecca for holidaymakers who come to fish and surf in this picturesque area, perhaps in between visiting many of the wineries of the Margaret River Region.

In days gone by Hamlin Bay was a port from which Karri trees, harvested from the forests close by, were exported to destinations all over the world, including England, India, and South Africa.  And it is worth mentioning that many streets of London are still paved with Karri from the forests in the area.

And the tall forests of Karri trees, standing proud, is a sight to behold as you tour the area.

One of the great things about Hamlin Bay are the stingray’s that abound.  These gracious creatures of the sea swim alongside the waters edge as you stroll along the beach – truly a sight to behold…!

If you are ever in the area, this is a place not to be missed.

Photo’s: Baz-The Landy & Janet-Planet, Hamlin Bay, West Australia

The Rabbit Proof Fence – Pioneering determination at its best…

western australia

Travelling around this great country we frequently come across great examples of the pioneering determination of our early European settlers.

The rabbit-proof fence, which was built in the early 1900s, showcases this pioneering spirit and determination and as we tour the wheat-belt region of West Australia we have seen a number of examples of the fence.

The fence was built in three-stages, commencing in 1901 and finished in 1907, and was once the longest fence in the world.

A farmer, in the State of Victoria, imported 24 rabbits from England in 1859 to breed on his property for hunting.  Perhaps it seemed like a good idea at the time, but before long they had reached plague proportions – action was needed to stop the spread of the furry creatures.

Integral to the design of the fence were the “traps” that were erected approximately 5-miles apart along the fence line.  They were 12 feet long, 7 feet wide and 3 feet high and entirely enclosed in rabbit netting.

At each end and up against the main fence wire netting funnels lead into the trap. Leading out from the funnels at each end of the trap – and at an angle of 45 degrees to the main fence were two wing fences.

The stray rabbits running along the fence would get caught in between the wing and the yard trap, move through the funnel of wire into the trap and couldn’t escape…!

Needless to say I suspect many of the trapped rabbits made their way into some very delicious stews!

Photos: Baz – The Landy, and Janet-Planet, on tour in West Australia

Wide open spaces (In the Australian Outback…)

Australian Deserts

You’ve got to love the wide open spaces of Australia’s Outback, with its blue skies reaching out to a red ochre earth on the far off horizon…

Photo: Baz – The Landy, Outback Australia…

How’s that graduation from work going…(Baz)

Sydney's beaches
Narrabeen Lake, Sydney

Now let me repent for just a moment, we haven’t disappeared into the wilderness over these past couple of months, although you might be forgiven thinking so given our absence from these pages.

 

TomO, the Crown Prince, has been finishing his final year of High School and sitting his High School Certificate (HSC) and University entrance exams, (oh please, don’t start me on that topic) so that’s where our focus has been.  Mind you he has managed this intense period extremely well and hasn’t been too stressed about it.

Maybe he has been a little too relaxed, but hey, that’s not a bad way to live your life…!

 

Anyway, that is all behind us, and importantly, behind TomO as he sets his sights on a “gap year” before commencing his Undergraduate Degree at University; a Bachelor of Arts majoring in History, his favourite topic.

 

And rest assured, we haven’t wasted too much time getting (back) Out and About in this great country of ours, and last week we took the opportunity to spend some time on Sydney’s northern beaches, kayaking, hiking, and cycling…

Toyota 79 Series
Xplore – Our touring set-up

 

Whilst we are quite accustomed to travelling many thousand’s of kilometres exploring our fabulous country, this trip was about 40-kilometres each way – mind you, we’ve always said there is plenty to see in your own backyard if you just take the time to look, so we lived to that motto as we enjoyed a camp lakeside at Narrabeen Lagoon.

 

Next week we are off to Scottsdale Reserve, situated south of Canberra, to do some volunteer work on this conservation property owned and managed by Bush Heritage Australia…

But hey, about this graduation from work thing I embarked on early last year. Crikey, let me tell you, do it if you can, life’s too short to contemplate what could have been…

 

One of the things I have come to appreciate is time – you don’t need to do everything at a break-neck speed, no work deadlines to be met, sleep in, if that’s what is needed or get up for a walk or a row up in the “shed” in the pre-dawn magic.

The Shed

 

No rules, and strewth, you’re right, wouldn’t be “dead for quids”.

 

And Janet is itching to be Out and About, and she put the call out for me to “pack the TVAN Baz” and let’s head off down the driveway for some adventure in the Aussie Outback – yep, no encouragement needed on that one from me.

 

Speaking of which, we will cross the Australian Continent in December as we head to the West Coast for a couple of months…

Lake Cohen, Outback Australia
Lake Cohen, Outback Australia

We’ll have cameras at the ready to capture the landscapes of this great country of ours and we’ll be sure to share them..

 

Yeah, this “graduation from work” thing is working out swimmingly.

 

Cheers, Baz – The Landy

Photos: Baz – The Landy and Janet-Planet

 

From Currency Trader to Counting Platypus…

Isn’t that the beauty of life, ever evolving as we weave our own tapestry; a mosaic of our lives taking turns that one could not even imagine just a few years ago…

This week I am heading down to Scottsdale Reserve, a property owned by the conservation group Bush Heritage Australia to assist in a scientific study. Situated about 80 kilometres south of Canberra, Scottsdale borders Australia’s Alpine region and the mighty Murrumbidgee River runs through the reserve.

Each year a count is undertaken of the platypus population on this stretch of the river and involves sitting on the riverbank at dawn and dusk to “spy” this shy and unique mammal. And yes, it will be cold with minimum temperatures forecast to be as low as -7 degrees next week so I’ll be sure to pack my Driz-a-bone to keep me warm and the frost at bay…

So what took me from currency trader to counting platypus?

Well a love of the bush, the outdoors has always been my thing so it is no surprise that like a vortex the bush sucked me in once I “graduated from work”.

And hey, you’ll hear no complaints from me on how my tapestry; my mosaic is working out.

Sitting on a river bank counting platypus is timeless and without a doubt better for the soul than sitting in a trading room where fortunes are won and lost in the blink of an eye as currencies flirt with each other on world markets.

That isn’t to say trading currencies wasn’t fun, after all I did it with some great people who have become lifelong friends, but counting platypus is more appealing and far less stressful than staring at a computer monitor with one eye on the clock, counting down the hours, minutes to the end of the trading session.

By the way, what day did you say it was…?

(Just kidding, of course I know what day it is – a great one!)

Cheers, Baz – The Landy

Baz – The Landy

Across Australia on a Postie Bike…

One of the great things about being “Out & About” in this great country of ours is you never know what you might see next…

Recently I came across a great bunch of blokes riding their “Postie Bikes” halfway across Australia in support of a number of charities.

And no, they weren’t delivering the mail, but riding the bikes on our dusty outback roads was clearly thirsty work that could only be quenched with a cold beer at the end of the day’s touring…

Photo’s: Baz – the Landy

Baz – The Landy

A hidden gem amongst the urban chaos…

Sydney Harbour

Whether you are a Sydneysider or visitor to our fine city, if you are looking for a hidden gem overlooking the magnificent Sydney Harbour then this is the place for you…

The picturesque Ball’s Head Reserve situated on the Waverton Peninsular.

Covered in native trees the reserve has a number of walking tracks that meander around the headland taking you past the “Ball’s Head Coal Loader” which is situated alongside the Naval Base HMAS Waterhen.

The “Loader” was built in the early 1900s to supply Steamships with coal to use as fuel…

Mind you, it wasn’t without controversy, and our famous poet, Henry Lawson, wrote about it in his poem “The Sacrifice of Ball’s Head” in 1916.

Lawson, who lived in the area at the time, lamented the loss of the bushland to the ugly looking loader, spewing out its ugly “brown rocks” in such a beautiful setting. These days’ picnickers and hikers, who can enjoy this magnificent vista a stone’s throw from the urban chaos that is Sydney, have reclaimed the area…

We often travel thousand’s of kilometres into our colourful outback looking for those little gems of places just off the “beaten track” – but sometimes you don’t need to look much further than your own backyard; just scratch the surface and you never know what you will find.

And hey, Janet and I are pleased to say, just like Henry suggests in his poem, Ball’s Head is a great place to spend a glorious day.

Photos: Baz – The Landy

Baz – The Landy

 

“The Sacrifice of Ball’s Head” by Henry Lawson

 

They’re taking it, the shipping push,
As all the rest must go —
The only spot of cliff and bush
That harbour people know.
The spirit of the past is dead
North Sydney has no soul —
The State is cutting down Ball’s Head.
To make a wharf for coal.

Where picnic parties used to go
To spend a glorious day,
With all the scenery of a coast
And not a cent to pay.
The deep cool tangle shall be cleared
To make the glaring roads
And motor lorries jolt and grind
And drag their sordid loads.

And strings of grimy trucks shall run
In everlasting trains
And on the cliffs where wild trees are
Shall stand the soulless cranes,
To dump their grimy loads below,
Where great brown rocks are grand;
And the deep grass and wild flowers grow —
And boating couples land.

No more shall poorer families
Give “Grandma” and “Grandad”
A glimpse of nature’s mysteries
To make their old hearts glad.
No more our eyes shall be relieved
In the city’s garish day —
A sordid crime has been achieved!
And none has aught to say.

A lick of paint, and back into the bush…

Now that Janet and I have finished the house painting I’m heading back into the “bush” next week for a few days to do some volunteering work with Bush Heritage Australia.

Oh, yeah sorry, that’s where we’ve been over the past few weeks, up and down ladders with tins of paint and a brush…

And for sure, whilst it was great to be giving our 100-year old California Bungalow, “Dinsmore”  a coat of paint, we would much rather have been Out & About in this great country of ours capturing those wonderful vista’s that the Australia Outback is renown for in photographs…

 

So it will be great to be “back in the bush”…

I’ll be at Scottsdale Reserve, which is situated about 80 kilometre’s south of Australia’s Capital, Canberra. The Reserve is home to a remnant of Australia’s last ice age, the Silver-leafed Mountain Gum. Adapted to a time when this part of the world was much drier and colder, just ten populations of this little Mallee tree are thought to exist in Australia, and it’s vulnerable to extinction.

Currently, the area is exposed to drought conditions, so I’ll be spending my time watering trees recently planted.

Um, and yes, freezing cold down that way, so I’m packing some thermals…!

Cheers, Baz

Baz – The Landy

The Sturt Desert Pea – A Dreamtime Story…

Sturt Desert Pea

The origin of the Sturt Desert Pea, a magnificent Australian wildflower, is told by Aboriginal people in the following way…

A wonderful story that comes to mind each time Janet and I see this beautiful flower in the Australian Outback.

“A young and beautiful maiden was promised in “The Dreamtime” to a warrior who made a cloak of red parrot feathers. From a distance she would follow her lover in the tribal wars, faithfully roaming the trackless wastes to be near him.

Drought years brought famine to the tribe and the young warrior was one who went far afield in search of food.

During his absence the maiden kept lonely vigil, refusing to leave the place of farewell after the tribe had moved on. Their last view of her was of a red cloak surrounding her black head as she knelt on the ground.

Neither she nor her lover were seen again…”

 

Photo: Baz – The Landy, Outback Australia…

Baz – The Landy

A golden experience, whispers from the past…

milparinka

Blue skies, the earthen coloured red soil of the Australian Outback, sunsets to dream of and three weeks in the Corner Country was an opportunity far too good to pass up.

So I didn’t..!

With my customised touring vehicle loaded with supplies and TVAN Firetail camper trailer in tow I headed to the far west corner of New South Wales – “The Corner Country”.

After two days and 1,300 kilometres of travel along bitumen and dirt roads I arrived at Milparinka, a ghost town just to the south of Tibooburra, the town that is often the hottest place in the state during our long summer months.

Now it would be easy to miss this gem of a town as you make your way north to Tibooburra, or south to Broken Hill along the Silver City Highway as it is off the main highway. But a detour to Milparinka, whose history is steeped in a gold discovery, is well worth the effort.

The Corner Country has been a favourite of Janet and mine for as long as we have been touring the Australian Outback. So when the opportunity came along to spend three weeks as resident Information Person and caretaker at the Milparinka Heritage and Tourism Association I jumped at it…

The area’s first recorded exposure to European’s was in 1845 when Captain Charles Sturt mounted his exploration of the interior expedition in search of an inland sea. He found anything but a vast ocean of water, but his journey into the region opened the way for pastoralists’ who began arriving from the 1860’s onwards.

The environment is harsh and unforgiving, even to this day, especially with an annual rainfall averaging less than 5 inches per year. The tenacity of Sturt, and perhaps those who have followed in his footsteps are best summed up by this note in his journal…

“I would rather that my bones had been left to bleach in the desert than have yielded an inch of ground I had gained at so much expense”…

 

Charles Sturt

It was near to the current township of Milparinka that a station hand, John Thompson, discovered a couple of nuggets of gold whilst herding sheep on Mt Poole Station in 1880.

This discovery led to a “gold rush” with hopeful miners and prospectors making an arduous journey over an unforgiving land. They had no idea of just how harsh this environment was, and that water and eventually provisions were in short supply. As was the case on Australia’s early goldfields, many perished from disease; some were successful, but most left with little more than the shirts on their back.

Often, those that were most successful were the business’s that thrived on supporting the miners, especially the “sly grog shops” and “pubs”. And it is worth noting, in 1882 water was in such scarce supply that a whiskey and water cost substantially more than a whiskey “straight-up” – such was the value of that most basic of precious commodities, water…!

The township of Milparinka was first surveyed in 1881 and finally chartered in 1883, but its population peaked around this time as the “gold rush” was short-lived. However, the town continued to support a core group of residents and there were many sand stone buildings constructed from stone quarried locally.

Amongst these was the Police Barracks built in 1884 and later; the James Barnett designed Courthouse in 1896. James Barnett, the Architect for the Colony of New South Wales, designed many buildings, including the magnificent Post Office that stands proudly in Sydney’s Martin Place today.

By the 1930’s the police administration and court functions had moved north to the township of Tibooburra, or “The Granites” as it was referred to at the time and many of the old buildings fell into disrepair, some crumbling back to the earth either through lack of maintenance or vandalism.

But a community initiative in the 1980’s halted the destruction of the Courthouse and surrounding buildings, but it wasn’t until 2003 that the Milparinka Heritage and Tourism Association brought them back to life and re-opened the Courthouse as the local Historical Centre.

The Association is actively looking to preserve the couple of remaining buildings that are in disrepair and in early 2018 purchased the old Post Office with a view to bringing it “back to life”.

milparinka post office

The one remaining business in town is the Albert Hotel, which has been closed at various times, but I’m pleased to say is once again serving cold beer and fine pub style meals to the passing tourists. Much the same as 130 years ago when George Blore built the pub…

Sitting on the verandah of the Albert Hotel, beer in hand, is a great way to spend time reflecting on the beauty of this ancient land, its landscape and people, as the sun casts a golden hue over the surrounding Grey Ranges making way for an inky black sky that promises to showcase the “Milky Way” in all its glory…

australian pubs

So next time you are heading along the Silver City Highway and see the signpost to Milparinka, be sure to take time out to visit this “glimpse of the past” if only to quench your thirst as early travellers did…

Who knows, you might even hear “whispers from the past” as you walk around the old buildings, the sounds of laughter from long ago drifting on the breeze…

I’m confident if you scratch the surface of this town that time forgot you’ll be rewarded with something more valuable than just a nugget of gold; an experience that is golden…

Photo’s: Baz – The Landy, Milparinka, Outback Australia…

Barry O'Malley
Baz – The Landy

 

Tranquility – In the Australian Bush

 

I’m camped by a favourite waterhole of ours along the Bogan River as I head towards Milparinka which is situated in the Corner Country in the far northwest of New South Wales…

Hey. three weeks in the outback, where a deep blue sky gently blends to the red earth on a faraway horizon, and the night sky is laden with stars – how good is that, hey…!

Photo: Baz – The Landy, on the Bogan River

Milparinka – Outback Australia…

There is something very special about the Corner Country that has kept Janet and me coming back for as long as we can remember.

 

Perhaps it is the wide-open plains where the sunburnt land meets a deep blue sky on a far-away horizon, perhaps it is the golden sunsets as the sun slides below the western skyline, or maybe it is just the people and characters you meet out there…

In late May I will be acting caretaker at the Milparinka historical precinct and museum.

Milparinka is a tiny community located in far north-western New South Wales, about 40-kilometres south of Tibooburra and 300-kilometres north of Broken Hill. It is the oldest proclaimed township in the Corner Country, and is situated on the banks of the Evelyn Creek, named by Charles Sturt during his 1845 Inland Expedition.

Hey, be sure to drop into the museum and say g’day, if you’re out that way…!

Oh, don’t worry, if you can’t make it I’ll be sure to be capturing some of our spectacular outback in photo’s…

Photos: Baz – The Landy, Corner Country, Outback Australia…

Barry O'Malley
Baz – The Landy

Croajingolong – Australia’s Rugged South-Coast…

Croajingolong NP

Croajingolong National Park looks much the same today as when Captain Cook first sighted it in 1770…

“..With the first daylight this morn the land was seen, it made in sloping hill covered in part with trees and bushes, but interspersed with large tracts of sand… I have named it Point Hicks because Lieutenant (Zachariah) Hicks was the first to discover this land..” April 19th 1770.

Photo: Baz – The Landy, Point Hicks, Southern Australia…

Australia’s bush alarm clock – Laughing away…

australian birds

One of Australia’s favourite birds, the Kookaburra, nature’s very own alarm clock “laughing” the day away…

I managed to photograph this beautiful pair as they sat on a rock looking over the ocean along Australia’s rugged southern coastline…

Photo: Baz – The Landy, Croajingolong National Park, Southern Australia

A Place of Haunting Beauty – In Outback Australia…

Mungo National Park

In the far west of New South Wales, some one thousand kilometres from Sydney, lies Lake Mungo and the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area…

 

Now before you go strapping the kayak to the top of your vehicle or hitching the “tinnie” to the back of your four-wheel drive it is worth knowing that Lake Mungo has been dry for some 15,000 years.

 

But don’t be put off by that fact, this is a fabulous place to spend a few days exploring what is a very special place to three Aboriginal tribal groups, the Paakantji / Barkindji, Ngyiampaa and Mutthi people.

These people have walked this land for close to 50,000 years.

Yes, 50,000 years…!

To put some context to that, they only started building the pyramids about 5,000 years ago, and Christian’s celebrated the arrival of Jesus Christ just over 2,000 years ago.

And in more contemporary history of Australia, Captain Cook landed at Botany Bay less than 250 years ago.

Life would have been substantially different when the waters were teaming with fish and the land abundant with food sources. And remarkably, evidence of this era has been enshrined in the “Mungo Lunette” and uncovered by the moving sand dunes in this windswept land.

A Lunette is a crescent-shaped sand dune similar in outline to the first quarter of the Moon. The Mungo Lunette is also known as the “Walls of China”.

I visited the region recently with the hope of photographing the “Super Red Blue Moon” that rose in the skies on 31 January, the prospect of capturing a photograph of a remarkable event over the Walls of China proving irresistible to me.

The Walls of China is where the remains of “Mungo Lady” an aboriginal women of some 18 years of age was discovered in the late 1960s. Her discovery and subsequent removal from her “spiritual home” by archaeologists’ was not without controversy, especially for the aboriginal people from this region.

Mungo Woman was eventually returned home to rest in country by her people and similarly, Mungo Man, whose remains were removed from his resting place has also made the journey home to country.

Scientists’ estimated that Mungo Man walked this land over 40,000 years ago.

It was against this cultural backdrop that I stood alone at the Mungo Lunette, a number of camera’s at hand to capture this remarkable lunar event.

But it wasn’t too be as cloud cover “eclipsed” my view of the moon as it rose over this ancient land.

Looking to the west, the sky was ablaze as a fiery sun cast its final rays into a darkening night sky…

I closed my eyes and let my mind drift and wondered if the spirits of those who had walked this land were sitting around the glow of this eternal fire, breathing life to this place of Haunting Beauty…

Photo’s: Baz – The Landy, Mungo National Park, Outback Australia

Dog on the Tucker Box…

Well I’ve left the “big smoke” behind and pointed myself westward towards Mungo National Park to watch the lunar eclipse in a couple of days.

But hey, with time on my side what better way to wile away that time than being camped beside the mighty Murrumbidgee River at Gundagai reading poems and short stories by one of Australia’s greatest story tellers, Henry Lawson.

And of course, apart from the river the town is famous for the “Dog on the Tucker Box”…

Photos: Baz – The Landy, Gundagai…

Lunar Trifecta – Possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity…

Moreton Bay

I’m sure many are aware of a rare lunar phenomenon that is set to occur next week.

It is being billed as a “once-in-a-lifetime” lunar trifecta and Australian’s have one of the best vantage points around the globe to view what is being described as a “super red blue moon” as three lunar conditions converge.

Apparently, a super moon occurs when the moon reaches its closest point to earth and appears much larger than normal (some 30% they say). The red part happens during a lunar eclipse, and the blue moon is when there are two full moons in a month.

Some experts suggest that it is unlikely to see all three events converge again this century, although I have seen conflicting reports on this with suggestions there will be another one in 2028 – but given it last occurred in 1866 I’ll try and observe this one and leave it to the experts to argue over the timing of the next one.

I was pondering where to view it from away from the glare of city lights and decided on heading to the World Heritage listed Mungo National Park, south east of Broken Hill.

It has been at least two decades since I last visited the area so I am looking forward to it, although with daytime temperatures getting up to around the 45C mark I doubt I will linger there for too long afterwards. But it is a spectacular area, so I’ll play that one by ear and see how the weather is…

The phenomena is due to start on 31 January around 10:30pm (AEDT) and end just after 2:00AM (AEDT) on 1 February…

Photo: Baz – The Landy, Moreton Bay, Queensland

Exploring Australia (One moment at a time)

Australia is a remarkable country, with a remarkable history…

An island continent inhabited by our first nation people for ten’s of thousands of years, and more recently, through European settlement. At times, it can be an unforgiving place where water can be scarce.

Australian aboriginal people moved from water-hole to water-hole to survive in the harsh desert country relying on “dream-time stories” to guide them…

Stories told in song, carvings and engravings, and rock art.

For our early European explorers’ finding water was critical as they surveyed our vast sunburnt country. At times, it was a critical life and death situation and there are many tributes to these explorers’ dotted across Australia.

Two explorers, John and Alexander Forrest, both surveyors, travelled into the vast Western Australian desert region in 1874. One can only imagine what was in their thoughts as they stood atop Mt Allott looking back across the vast plains to Mt Worsnop in the distance…

Perhaps it was the need to find a water supply before thirst from the relentless heat of the desert claimed them.

Standing on Mt Allott I reflected on how you can only live in the moment you are in; the past is irrelevant and the future may never arrive – you can only survive one moment at a time…!

That’s a great way to live your life, one moment at a time. Hey, what do you reckon?

Photos: Baz, Outback Australia (somewhere…!)

Outback Australia (Xplore – Out & About)

Happy New Year to all…

Yes, it seems I’m a couple of weeks late, but hey, I’m working on leisure time these days…

Janet and I are gearing up for plenty of adventure travel into the Australian Bush and Outback this year and we’ve dusted the cameras’ off to photograph our magnificent country.

Photo’s: Baz – The Landy, Outback Australia.

Beach Shacks and Lazy Summer Days…

Beach shacks and lazy summer days along the fabulous Australian Coastline, you got to love it, hey…!

Photo’s: Baz, Kangaroo Island, Southern Australia.

Powerful Owl – A chance encounter…

Australian Owl

The Australian Bush is full of unique experiences, especially when it comes to our wildlife, and sometimes you might just find something interesting in your own backyard…

Recently, I was fortunate to observe a magnificent looking ‘Powerful Owl’ whilst walking the Warimoo and Sphinx Tracks at Bobbin Head, in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

Janet and I think of this area as our ‘backyard’ and over many years we have walked and kayaked through this area, which is little more than 20-kilometres north of the Sydney CBD. And yet, this was a first time spotting for us of the powerful owl, which is Australia’s largest, in this location.

Although, it is a familiar bird for us as we have visitations from one into the local park opposite our home. In fact, I heard our resident owl calling just a few nights ago…

Following my sighting of the bird last week I made contact with Beth Mott, Project Officer for the Powerful Owl Project with Birdlife Australia who was excited to review the area and to glean if there is a pair that might be raising a young chick.

So today, Janet, myself and Beth set off along the track to see if we could find any further signs of inhabitation.

Janet and I were on a steep learning curve when it came to bird observation, but Beth, who holds a Degree in Conservation Biology, and who has undertaken a PhD study on ‘Animal Community Dynamics’, enthusiastically showed us many of the ‘telltale’ signs to look for.

Um, that includes bird vomit and droppings, you know, poo!

Beth’s enthusiasm was infectious and on our walk she went on to explain…

“We aim to locate Powerful Owl breeding pairs within urban Greater Sydney, which also includes Newcastle in the north to Kiama in the south and west to the Blue Mountains.

We also aim to identify the location of nesting trees and record breeding behaviour and success.

This information will help determine the critical roosting and breeding requirements of urban Powerful Owls. We are collecting data on diet and foraging habitat to gain a greater understanding of their urban ecology, as well as look at threats (causes of injury and mortality) within the urban landscape.”

We were surprised to learn that there is estimated to be only around 400 Powerful Owls in the Greater Sydney Region and around 5,000 in Australia, and that puts them only one notch above being an “endangered species”.

Powerful Owls have a slow; double-note ‘whoo-hoo’ call that is soft, but very strong and resonant, and which can be heard more than 1-kilometre away. And the most common time to hear them is when they “wake” to a new day, at least for them, around dusk…

So if you hear that sound, take the time to look around your ‘backyard’ you might just find a special visitor, and if you do observe one, be sure to let the good people at Birdlife Australia know…

Photos: Baz – The Landy, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, Bobbin Head.