Tumbling from the Jetty

Hey, how good is this wonderful Silo Art.

Located in the small coastal town of Tumby Bay on the Eyre Peninsular in South Australia, the artwork depicts two boys jumping into the cool waters of the Spencer Gulf from the local jetty on a hot summers day…

Photos: Janet & Baz


About us…

We love 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 few years ago we decided it was time 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

Silo Art, pollinating our countryside…

The painting of murals on the many stark looking grain silos that dot Australia’s rural landscape has been a relatively new and welcome trend.

They have given a much-needed economic boost to many country towns as tourists’ criss-cross the roads often less travelled in search of this art form…

And it is not hard to be impressed by these murals, some that pay homage to an individual, others a town or region, and in some cases, the fabric of our nation.

In the Central West township of Dunedoo, artist Peter Mortimore was well advanced in painting a tribute on the town’s silo to Winks, Australia’s much loved super-racehorse, when we passed through recently.

Hugh Bowman, Wink’s regular jockey, was born in Dunedoo and provides the connection for the mural, one that he features in.

Silo Art is limited only by imagination and it is hard not too marvel at the precision and perspective that many of the murals provide, especially given the size of the ‘canvas’ that the artists’ are working with.

In a park next to the rail-siding in the small Victorian town of Goorambat we sat in the shadow of the silos proudly displaying beautiful artwork. And truly, these are masterpieces of the highest order.

Whilst we photographed the murals from every possible angle, ensuring that we didn’t miss a perspective, Keith, a long-term resident sat quietly with an array of tea-towels and postcards for sale showcasing this beautiful art work. The proceeds from these sales go towards the upgrade of visitor facilities in this small town.

We clicked away before taking a walk up the main street, towards the pub and past the town’s community hall where we made what we thought was an amazing discovery, well for us at least.

Set in stone at the front of the hall was a plaque commemorating the Royal visit of Queen Elizabeth to Goorambat in 1954.

Now there is no reason why the Queen shouldn’t choose to visit Goorambat, but we were intrigued to learn more about the visit. 

We were hopeful Keith would still be at the park and that he would be able to share some knowledge of the Queen’s visit.

Keith’s story and personal account of that day evolved like a good novel by the fire on a cold night.

And not only about the Queen’s visit all those years ago, but also of his family, its connection to the town and region, of how his grandfather built the home he and his wife of over sixty-years live in today.

Keith spoke about the good times and the bad times, a familiar feast and famine story of our harsh land, and how Goorambat’s fortunes were affected by ‘progress’ over the years.

“What about the Royal visit?” we asked…

Keith paused, as though surveying a time long past in his mind.

Clearly, his memory of the event was as fresh as the day the Royal train pulled into the siding.

“The lead-up to the visit was a hive of activity,” he recounted.

“We were newly married and in our early twenties”, Keith recalled.  “There was a bustle like never seen before as the women baked and the men cleaned and painted every surface that could be found, and then more”.

He laughed…

After all, this would be the Queen’s first and last visit to Goorambat, of that he was certain, so everything had to be perfect…

“Simply perfect”, he said.

Seemingly, it was deemed that noise from passing trains along the main train line between Sydney and Melbourne would disturb Her Majesty’s sleep and that a siding off the main route would be selected for her overnight stay in country Victoria.

Keith surmised the bidding must have been intense for the right to host the Royal visit and with much pride and a wink, he said Goorambat was chosen and the rest is history.

That night, as the embers glowed in the campfire, we reflected on the possibility that Silo Art was to a town like colour is to a flower. Its artistic beauty drawing you towards something special, a story to be told and recounted, to be pollinated so it lives on…

Photos: Janet & Baz


About us…

We love 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 few years ago we decided it was time 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

Secluded…

Honeymoon Beach, Moreton Island, Australia…

Photo: Baz

About us…

We love 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…

In 2017 we decided it was time 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

Murphy’s Haystacks, golden and glowing…

Located on the picturesque Eyre Peninsular a short drive from the fishing community of Streaky Bay, Murphy’s Haystacks stand proudly in an ancient landscape framed by a deep blue sky.

Some might say that they look like “molars”, well perhaps a dentist might, in fact they are known as Isenberg’s, which are best described as a hill that looks like a rocky island rising from the sea.

So, how did they get to become known as Murphy’s Haystacks?

Folklore relates a story of a Scottish Agriculture expert who proclaimed that to grow good hay farmers needed to harrow their land for the best result. While travelling by coach he noticed the rock formation in the distance and advised his fellow passengers that this farmer harrowed his land to produce so much “hay”.

The rocks, being on Murphy’s property, became known as Murphy’s Haystacks and passing coachmen described them as haystacks to their passengers from that day onwards…

About us…

 We love 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 it was time 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

Janet-Planet & Baz

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)

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

 

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

Bark Art – in the Australian Outback

Anne Beadell Highway, Western Australia

 

Photo: Janet-Planet, in the Australian Outback

Janet-Planet

Burnt Bark – in the Australian Outback

Anne Beadell Highway, Western Australia




Photo: Janet-Planet, in the Australian Outback

Janet-Planet

Sculptural flowers in the Australian Outback

Anne Beadell Highway, South Australia

 

Photo: Janet-Planet, in the Australian Outback

Janet-Planet

Vibrant red in the Outback

 

Anne Beadell Highway, South Australia

 

 

Photo: Janet-Planet, in the Australian Bush.

Janet-Planet

Paper daisies in the Australian Bush

 

 

Anne Beadell Highway, South Australia

 

Photo: Janet-Planet, in the Australian Bush

 

Janet-Planet

Natures sculptures – in the Australian Outback

Anne Beadell Highway, South Australia

 

Photo: Janet Planet – in the Australian bush!

 

Janet-Planet

Thumb prints in the Australian desert

Anne Beadle High, South Australia

 

This is actually a close up of the bark on a tree!

 

Photo:  Janet-Planet in the Australian Bush

Janet-Planet

Gold – in the Australian Outback

Gary Junction Road, Kintore, Northern Territory

 

Photo:  Janet-Planet, in the Australian bush

Janet-Planet

Vibrant colours of the Australian Outback

 

Anne Beadell Highway South Australia



Photo:  Janet-Planet, in the Australian bush.

Janet-Planet

 

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…

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.

An Oasis in the Desert – Boodjamulla National Park

lawn hill NP

Situated in the Gulf Savannah country of northern Australia, with its deep gorges and craggy rocky outcrops, is the rugged and spectacularly beautiful Boodjamulla National Park…

 

This is an ancient, sunburnt land, and archaeological evidence suggests the area has been continuously occupied for at least 30,000-years, possibly longer than anywhere else in Australia.

 

The attraction is the permanent water source of Lawn Hill Creek. During arid times, when other sites where abandoned, this area was like an oasis in the desert for aboriginal people, Australia’s first people, who gathered here to camp, fish, and hunt.

Janet, TomO, and I have explored this region previously, but it has drawn us back like a magnet on many occasions, and being in North Queensland I could not resist the lure of another visit, to walk through the country and swim in Lawn Hill Creek.

In the Dreamtime stories of the Waanyi people, “Boodjamulla” is a spiritual person, the creator of all animals.

In the words of the Waanyi people…

“He made all the animals in the Lawn Hill area, and all the billabongs such as the green swamp, and all the bush tucker. Boodjamulla’s dreamtime travels started in Waanyi country at Cabbage Tree Spring, up above Riversleigh, giving water to O’Shanassy Creek, Lawn Hill Creek, the Gregory River, Louie Creek and Lilydale Springs.

Waanyi believe that Boodjamulla created these rivers as healing waters – known in Waanyi language as Bougli Water”…

Perhaps for the Waanyi people, the “Bougli Waters” has a different interpretation, but I certainly found the cool spring fed water of Lawn Hill Creek soothing after a day of walking in the gorges and climbing the Constance Range.

As a base for this trip I stayed just outside of the national park at Adels Grove, a private campground that we first visited in the early 1990s. Not much has changed over the years, and that is a good thing.

Adels Grove was declared a ’Miner’s Homestead Perpetual Lease’ in 1920, being within the Burketown Mineral Field at that time.

According to the history provided by the current owners, Adels Grove lease was purchased by Albert De Lestang, a French botanist, who experimented with the growing of tropical trees and fruits and had in excess of 1,000 trees and sold the fruit to supplement his income.

Lawn Hill

Tragically, in the early 1950s the ‘Grove’ and buildings were accidently burnt down. By this time Albert was in his seventies and after loosing everything, including all of his written records, he succumbed to depression and died age 75 at Charters Towers in 1959.

‘The Grove’ has certainly provided shade and comfort from the heat of the winter sun during my stay, with temperatures reaching up to 36 degrees throughout the day and around 15 degrees at night…

Apart from the rugged and rocky outcrops surrounding the gorge, the country has a prolific amount of wildlife. This includes the Johnstone’s crocodile or Freshie as it is usually known, turtles, the olive python, a large variety of birds, and a favourite of ours, the Gilbert Dragon, or Ta-Ta lizard due to the peculiar little wave it gives with its front legs before scampering away.

I managed to photograph some of the wildlife on my walks and at other times, simply sat back and enjoyed the calls of the birds flittering through the trees, and of the birds of prey soaring overhead.

And yes, I did swim with the Freshwater Crocs. Unlike their Saltwater cousins, the Freshie’s are generally timid and will leave you alone, if you stay out of their way…!

Boodjamulla National Park, truly an Oasis in the Desert in Australia’s Gulf Savannah.

Photos: Baz – The Landy, in the Gulf Savannah, Northern Australia…Hinchinbrook Island

 

 

 

 

A Classic Country Pub (With cold beer)

You’ve got to love a classic Australian Pub, and this one situated in Malanda on the Atherton Tablelands, inland from Cairns, is one of the best…

And hey, take my word for it…!

I worked in Malanda in the late 1970s and lived in this very pub.

Today, I had my first meal in the Malanda Hotel in almost 40-years and I am pleased it is still owned by the same people, the English family, and it is as grand as I always remember it. And how good is that silky-oak timber.

Um, yeah, a touch of reminiscing going on here…!

But hey, the past is what makes up the mosaic of whom we are today, right…!

Cheers, Baz – The Landy, in Far North Queensland…

 

Mysterious Hinchinbrook Island – A Jewel in the Coral Sea

Hinchinbrook Island

 Nestled in the Coral Sea just off the coast of Cardwell in Far North Queensland is the wonderfully mysterious Hinchinbrook Island…

Wonderfully mysterious is perhaps an odd way to describe Hinchinbrook, but as a kid growing up in the region I always remember thinking of it in this way as we stopped at the local ‘pie cart’ on the foreshore. A delightful feature of Cardwell that I am pleased to say is still the case today.

Pie-Man

Across the water, the island’s tall peaks stand proudly, densely covered in tropical rainforest and often shrouded in cloud, giving it a mysterious look. A somewhat enticing look that always excited me as a place made of a ‘boy’s own adventure’ and I daydreamed of what I would find as I devoured my pie.  And if I was lucky, another.

They say it is never too late and as I stood on the Cardwell Esplanade this week, eating a pie from the pie-man, I looked out across the Hinchinbrook Passage to that mysterious island with the eyes of a young boy. Excited no less than I was all those years ago I contemplated the walk along the Thorsborne Trail on the eastern seaboard of the island that I was about to embark on.

Would I find my boy’s own adventure?

Whilst I am a frequent hiker in the bush and mountains it has been a while since I last strapped on my hiking pack and my fitness levels were showing it, especially after just spending a month in Scotland and England enjoying cream teas and the odd one, or too many, pints of bitter, despite it being warm. Both the beer and the weather!

It is fair to say the waist strap was slightly more extended than usual, but a few days hiking would go some way to sorting that out…

Hinchinbrook Island

Eagerly, I boarded a small boat that would ferry myself and some other hikers to the island. And under overcast skies we headed towards our drop-off point at Ramsay Bay, situated on the northern part of the island, but not quite at the tip.

We were hopeful of seeing a dugong, sea calf as they are frequently described as we made our way across the shallow passage. Over the past couple of years they have been returning to the area in growing numbers as their natural habitat and food source recovers following the devastating destruction Cyclone Yasi caused in 2011.

Unfortunately, we would not be so lucky to make a sighting on this day.

It is a pleasant boat ride and the skipper, Dean, was keen to point out many of the different landmarks and islands in the area, but before long I was strapping on my pack and walking south on this fantastic adventure.

A comfortable hiking time is four-days and three nights, with camps set at distances sufficient to challenge, but with plenty of time to enjoy the scenery.

My first day was spent hiking from Ramsay Bay, through Nina Bay and an overnight camp at Little Ramsay Bay, which is nestled in the rainforest just behind the beach next to a small lagoon. Before passing Nina Bay I climbed to the top of Nina Peak, a must-do for any visitor to the island. Sitting at the top you get a great sense of the magnitude of the island and a better glimpse of those mountaintops shrouded in cloud and mist.

For this hike I decided to travel light and used a simple bivvy bag and lightweight tarp to shelter from the elements, especially the sandflies that inhabit the island. Whilst a small insect it shows no discrimination in its choice of victim.

The ‘Hinchinbrook Hilton’ as I called my sleeping arrangements served me well and did the job perfectly.

Thorsborne Trail

I also kept meals simple, as I usually do on these types of hikes, dining on a ration of French onion soup and beef jerky, supplemented with dried apricots and mango, and a favourite hiking delicacy of mine, smoked hickory almonds.

There was little risk of me starving and besides I had built up a decent layer of body fat after a few months of inactivity, much like a bear about to go into hibernation!

Water was generally accessible throughout the hike and whilst carrying water-purifying tablets I didn’t feel the need to use them all the time, but assessed it depending where I was getting the water. And hey, it is nice to get some fresh, unadulterated drinking water from streams whose origins are in the mountains.

And of course, speaking of water it is sensible to keep in mind that this is crocodile country and they are known to inhabit the island, something I was extremely conscious of as I heard the water lapping onto the beach not far from the ‘Hinchinbrook Hilton’ on my second night at Zoe Bay.

Departure from my first night’s camp on day two was delayed slightly as the National Parks Rangers’ had closed the track between Little Ramsay Bay and Zoe Bay the previous day due a ‘cool burn’ they were conducting of undergrowth nearby to the walking track. I was aware of this in the week leading up to the hike and after they did a quick reconnaissance of the area they reopened the track mid-morning as planned.

The burn had little impact on the walk from Little Ramsay Bay to Zoe Bay.

Leaving Little Ramsay I had to do some rock hopping around the southern end of the beach leading to another beach around the headland before heading into the bush. The track takes you through a number of vegetation types, including dry open forest, rainforest and mangrove swamps and many creek crossings. At times of heavy rain the swamplands and creek crossings would become more challenging.

Continuing south towards Zoe Bay my path took me through a number of palm swamps in tall rainforest between North Zoe Creek and Fan Palm Creek, an area I was able to view earlier on one of the many headlands that I had ascended.

Thorsborne Trail

Eventually I found myself on the sands at Zoe Beach and I made way towards the camp situated near the mouth of South Zoe Creek. And let me say, the creek looked inviting, but there were plenty of ‘croc’ warning signs to indicate swimming here would be a mugs game. Mind you, it was only a short walk up the creek to Zoe Falls, where I enjoyed a refreshing couple of hours swimming in the pristine waters…

I shared the night here with a number of other hiker’s enjoying a meal and the camaraderie that is forged from a common interest. And a feature of these campsites is the metal boxes provided for food storage. The island has a large population of native rats and they are known to chew through your backpack to get to your food supply!

The smoke haze from the burn-off provided a spectacular sunset that evening and an equally spectacular sunrise the next morning. And whilst the ‘Hinchinbrook Hilton’ was serving me well, its size provides an incentive to get up and stretch the body early enough to witness sunrise, the start of another day in paradise…!

My third day of hiking started with a heart-pumping climb up behind Zoe Falls and on to some granite slabs above the falls where you get spectacular views of Zoe Bay. And a note to self, next time fill the water containers at the top of the falls rather than at the bottom!

After crossing numerous creeks on the ascent towards the trail’s highest point, which is 260 metres, I was rewarded with great views of the Palm Island Group of islands to the south. I have always marvelled at this island group sparkling in the Coral Sea.

Traversing a variety of terrain I eventually descended to Diamantina Creek where I sat back amongst the trees and listened to the calls of the many species of birds present on the island.

Crossing this creek needs to be done with care as the rocks and boulders can be slippery when wet, and if the water is high and running you would be wise to wait until it subsides. But with the water low I was across and only a short walk to my last camp on the island at Mulligan Falls.

I wasted little time in setting up the ‘Hinchinbrook Hilton’ in this rainforest setting before making a beeline for the refreshing waters of the falls. This is a beautiful spot to relax and with an early arrival at camp I made the most of it.

There is a restricted area above the falls where you are not permitted to enter due to the slippery nature of the boulders and rock pavements and deaths and serious injuries have occurred here. So it is wise to heed the advice.

But as I relaxed against a rock perfectly molded to the shape of my back I dozed in the warmth as my body tingled from the crystal clear water that washed away the sweat and grime of the day’s hike.  The only thing missing was a ‘Margarita’ to refresh the soul…!

And a word of warning, if there is one thing you don’t want to forget when visiting Hinchinbrook Island is some form of insect repellant, especially when camping in the midst of the rainforest. This was no more apparent than at Mulligan Falls.

The dawn was welcoming and whilst my sleep was restful when it came, at other times it was punctuated by the sounds of a ‘million mozzies’ serenading me and all wanting a piece of my flesh.

Such is life in the food chain, I guess…

The pick-up point for my boat ride back to Cardwell was at George Point and was timed to coincide with low tide to assist with the crossing of Mulligan Creek.

Situated on the southern tip of the island George Point overlooks the port of Lucinda and the extremely long jetty that transports sugar grown locally to cargo vessels.

Much of the morning’s walk was along the beach at Mulligan Bay and it was with just a touch of trepidation that I crossed Mulligan Creek where it opened to the sea. And not before I walked upstream for a 100 metres, or so, to see if there were any telltale crocodile slide marks on the banks…

Hinchinbrook Island

Fortunately for me the only ‘crocs’ present where the ones I was wearing on my feet. Not long after I crossed the creek I found myself humming the tune ‘Never Smile at a Crocodile’ which made me laugh at myself. Amusement can be very simple, all that is needed is a good sense of imagination, hey!

Before long I was sitting on the sand at George Point reflecting on my ‘boy’s own adventure’ through the eyes of an adult…

…And rest assured it was with no less enthusiasm and excitement than a young boy looking over to the ‘Mysterious Island’…

Hinchinbrook Island

Baz – The Landy, Hinchinbrook Island, Far North Queensland.

Steampunk meets Napoleon – on a World War 2 Battlefield…

The sound of a shell fired from the World War 2 tank rang out across the field, the boom and compression of the explosion sending a shiver down the spine of all in proximity…

 Men in khaki and camouflage fatigues were hitting the ground to avoid the inevitable fall-out from the shrapnel, weapons at the ready as they lay silently waiting for the order to advance on the German line.

The rattle of machine gun fire ringing out from the bunkers and motorcycle side-cars was deafening as the Germans fought to protect their ground, shrouded for a time behind the white plume of smoke that was by now drifting across the battlefield.

Mind you, some of the soldiers ambushed on “patrol” were a about a quarter-of-a-century too late for the encounter given it was a mock battle between American and German World War 2 forces; the advance party were dressed and kitted out for the jungles of Vietnam…!

But hang-on, what are those Vikings doing on the battlefield?

Didn’t they have their run a few centuries ago marauding and pillaging their way across England?

And aren’t those fancy looking blokes dressed to the “nines” with the feather plumes on their headgear “Frenchies” from the days when Napoleon was barking out orders as he roamed the countryside looking for trouble?

The scene was unfolding at Ironfest 2017 in the Central Tablelands township of Lithgow.

Ironfest is an arts festival that explores the relationship between humans, metal and identity and is held annually at the Lithgow Showground. It brings together artists, designer-makers, blacksmiths, and performers of all kind, musicians, Steampunkers, as well as historical re-enactors and steam-machine enthusiasts from all over Australia…

TomO, the Crown Prince, is a member of Ausreenact, a non-political World War 2 living history organisation made up of members who share a common interest in history and militaria, with a particular focus on the uniforms, equipment and vehicles of the Allied and Axis forces in the period 1939-1945. He re-enacts as a member of the US Forces 2nd Armoured Division and has quite a collection of gear and equipment he has assembled from the era and which he proudly had on display in his “bunker” during the weekend.

Each year Ausreenact, along with a number of other military groups, including those dedicated to Napoleonic re-enactment and Knights from medieval times, are invited to attend and take part in the festival.

No wonder the “battle-ground” was chaotic…

Medieval swords flashed and clashed to the boom of Napoleonic guns that were challenging the armoured vehicles from more modern times.

When the Knights were not swinging their swords in battle they were charging at each other in a medieval jousting match.

And here I was thinking how macho I must look wielding the whipper-snipper with menacing precision each time I trim the moraya hedge at home. Strewth, talk about starting to feel just a tad inadequate.

So I’ll just move on…

Away from the “battlefields” there was the sound of iron striking iron on anvils as blacksmiths demonstrated their craft, beads of sweat rolling down their faces as they forged metal into works of art.

And hey, what about all those Steampunk people…?

Steampunk I hear you ask? I too had to look up the definition of a “Steampunker” and I am still not sure I have it right.

One of the best definitions for a Steampunker I have come across is from Jess Nevins, author of the Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana (it hasn’t come up on my book club read list yet) who said…

“Steampunk is what happens when Goths discover brown.”

The costumes were as varied as the people that dressed in this fashion genre inspired by the Victorian era of steam and industrial machinery. I think it was the default costume for many who attended the festival.

But the Steampunkers seemed a happy bunch even if the women’s corsets appeared three sizes to small and their mode of transport was from another age if not simply strange…

Without doubt this weekend is possibly the two days of the year the various groups can safely come out from behind closed doors and still look normal; safety in numbers, so they say.

The activity was as diverse as it was frenzied, but somehow it all worked and integrated in a way that you would not think possible and I even got to take Janet-Planet on the cruise she has always wanted to do…

On the infamous “Love Boat”…

Photos: Baz – The Landy & Janet-Planet, Lithgow, Australia…

 

Nature’s Alarm Clock…

Alarm Clock

 

The Kookaburra’s bush anthem rings out, typically at 4:30am every morning, but hey, what would Australia be without them..

Photo: Baz – The Landy, Out and About in the Australian Bush….

 

 

Wildflowers – In the Australian Bush

 

After weeks of rain in Sydney, Baz and I managed to find a sunny day to walk through a favourite spot of ours in the Kuringai National Park in the northern suburbs of Sydney. The rain had washed the bush clean and the colours in this banksia were glorious!

 

Photo:  Janet Planet – Kuringai National Park, Sydney

 

Yes Sir, No Sir…how high Sir!

 

It may will be a case of Yes Sir, No Sir, how high Sir, over the coming week.

As part of TomO’s school curriculum he does military cadets and is keen to advance to a full military career in the future and this coming week he is off to an army cadet camp at Singleton Army barracks in the Hunter Valley.

And this year I get to tag along and join in the adventure, although I suspect for me it will be peeling sacks of potatoes and onions to feed the “starving” cadets who will number approximately 330.

Mind you, a week in the bush is right up my alley and with a bit of luck I get to drive one of the army trucks and take a ride in a black-hawk helicopter – such is life in the “retired ranks”…

Speak to you in a week, Baz – The Landy

Photo’s: Janet-Planet

So Many Tears…

Art has a wonderful ability to transport us to a place in our mind’s eye…

A place where we can explore the meaning the artist is endeavouring to convey and perhaps even challenging our own bias or prejudice.

Currently, there is an exhibition of wonderful sculptures, hand-crafted by talented artist’s of all backgrounds, in a picturesque harbourside park with sweeping views of the city and the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. We spent a morning wandering around Clarke Reserve at Woolwich, an old historic harbour suburb where the exhibition is being held, viewing and photographing the many artworks on display.

For us, one stood out…

 “So Many Tears” by Keith Chidzey”

In creating this work, Keith used two old wharf timbers and embedded glass tears into the wood.

It was simple, poignant, and a very moving tribute to the artist’s great-uncle, Private Ryles, who perished in the mud of Passchendaele, Belgium, over 100-years ago.

The choice of the wharf timbers is to recognise they most likely witnessed the embarkation of Australian Troops onto ships from the many wharfs dotted around the harbour. Loved ones waving, wiping away their tears as they strained to catch one more glimpse as the troop ship pulled away from the wooden dock.

 “We shall remember them…”

Each of the timbers has a carved relief, one of a slouch hat; the other with the inscription on Private Ryle’s headstone where he lays in the cemetery at Tyne Cot.

And, sensitively, one of the timbers is facing the sunset, the other the sunrise.

We reflected on this wonderful piece of artwork, its simplicity amplifying the ultimate sacrifice that too many of our fellow countrymen and women made so we can enjoy the freedoms that we have today; to be able to sit in a quiet reserve on Sydney Harbour’s foreshore in relative safety and free from the anxiety that conflict and war brings.

Bravo Keith, you have created far more than a wonderful sculpture to be admired, it is a wonderful tribute to your great-uncle, to all those who served, and to those who currently serve.

“We shall remember them…”

 Photos: Baz – The Landy, & Janet-Planet, Sydney Harbour, Australia

Selfishness – A simple word (With a complex meaning)

Selfishness is a word that we are likely to be confronted with every day…

But what does it really mean and how should it be applied to our daily lives, if at all?

Most dictionaries define selfishness as…

“Devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.”

I pondered on this definition and eventually came to a conclusion that this is possibly one of the most misused words in the English vocabulary.

I asked myself the question..

Is it selfish to pursue our dreams, to live the life we desire, to see what we can achieve; to explore new horizons and to develop as individuals; to stand at the edge and look at the world through a different lens…?

 

As individuals our life and the way we lead it creates a mosaic of who we are.

The pieces of a jigsaw puzzle randomly sitting in a box are meaningless unless they are joined.

In much the same way the pieces of our lives, scattered, cannot portray or project anything about who we are or what we seek to be until pieced together.

Interlocked they provide a mosaic of whom we really are…

The picture unfolds…

Whom or what would we be if we were not able to join the random pieces together and pursue our dreams?

Would we ever achieve our real potential, or would a fear of selfishness limit us and how we develop as individuals?

Baz – The Landy

Adversity – A stepping stone to success (Hey, what colour is this..?)

Seemingly, whenever I tell someone I am colour-blind they feel compelled to put me to the test.

“No… really, is that what you see?”

“Can’t be, you sure?”

And every so often I get that old chestnut…

“Are you like a dog and just see black and white?”

Mind you, I’m pretty relaxed about it these days…

Perhaps my dress sense gives me away, after all, there was that matter of the yellow pants I bought all those years ago.

Sensibly, these days I outsource my clothing purchases to Janet-Planet who has a good eye for fashion, mind you she has a naughty sense of humour as well, so I usually get TomO to do a second pass on any clothes she buys me, just in case she’s in a playful mood.

But even that has its limitations as without doubt TomO has inherited his mother’s sense of mischief…

Throughout my school years I always wanted to join the air-force and fly fast jets.

Yes, I know, everyone did, but I really wanted to!

It wasn’t until I underwent the air-force medical that the discovery was made, which went to explaining quite a lot. I only wish they had given me the medical first, rather than have me sit through hours of entrance exams only to stamp that brand new file…

“Colour-blind, FAIL….”

..Talk about being gutted, but I eventually moved on and ended up in the employ of the Bank of New South Wales, licking stamps to put on envelopes…

A Bank

 

And speaking of my banking colleagues.

I did manage to give them a good laugh when I came home with an old Holden Station Wagon.

Not that there was anything wrong with having an old Holden…

But a pink one?

It was unique…

I was living in a small country town in Northern Australia and I’d had my eye on that car for a long time and couldn’t believe my luck that it hadn’t been sold before I saved enough money to buy it.

I swear that car was yellow, such is the vagaries of a colour-blind!

But hey, I wore that car like a badge and there was no missing it at the Mareeba Drive-In on a Saturday night…

CrayonsAnd for heaven’s sake we won’t even talk about coloured crayons, other than to say the sight of a colouring-in book and crayons is still stressful to this day…

But my colour deficiency did motivate me to thumb my nose at the air-force, give them the

bird, so to speak, not that they shouldn’t have rules about colour deficiency, that sounds perfectly reasonable to me, but I wasn’t going to let it beat me either.

“After all, adversity is just a stepping stone to success, right…? It only gets the better of you if you let it and there was no way this would hold me back, ever…”

I’ve enjoyed a successful career with the bank, 42-years worth…

Ah, no, I’m not still licking stamps, but thanks for checking!

And I went on to fly my own plane.

It wasn’t quite a fast-jet, but hey nothing wrong with pretending sometimes. And when I tired of sitting in the pilot’s seat, I swapped the plane for a parachute and jumped out of them – until I broke my bum in a mid-air incident (but that is a story for another time).

But strewth,  I’ll tell you a funny thing, odd as it may seem I didn’t like the colour of the plane I owned, so I repainted it…go figure!

Baz - The Landy
Baz – The Landy