Splendid, in pink…

Australia’s Major Mitchell Cockatoo, commonly known as the pink cockatoo, is one of our most beautiful birds.

A delicate splash of pink creating a wonderful contrast in its usual habitat, Australia’s semi-arid regions.

Photos: Janet & Baz


About us…

We love the colours of the Australian Outback, the red earth touching the blue sky on a faraway horizon; and the fabulous coastline of our sunburnt country, where a golden sandy beach is washed over by a warm turquoise blue sea…

A few years ago we graduated from work and re-entered the classroom of life where an education is guaranteed and all that is needed is an open mind.

Cheers, Baz & Janet

Smile, just smile…

Crazy times we live in at the moment, hey…!

Perhaps our world is always crazy, one-way or another, sometimes good crazy, and at other times, bad crazy.

One remedy to help through the “bad crazy” that has survived the test of time is to simply live in the moment and smile.

Surely we can all find something to smile at…hey?

And talk about smiling, the clock has just ticked into the cocktail hour, well it has in our part of the world…

So in our mind’s eye” and with a smile on our face we’re jumping back into this beautiful Ratua Island sunset where we’ll drink a toast to the health and well-being of all our friends.

Photos: Janet & Baz

About us…

We love the colours of the Australian Outback, the red earth touching a blue sky on a faraway horizon; and the fabulous coastline of our sunburnt country, where a golden sandy beach is washed over by a warm turquoise blue sea…

A few years ago we graduated from work and re-entered the classroom of life where an education is guaranteed and all that is needed is an open mind.

Cheers, Baz & Janet

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

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

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

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.

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…

 

Old, old story from long time ago…(Dreamtime)

Australia’s Traditional Owners have many wonderful Creation and Dreamtime stories that form the basis of customary laws and traditions.

On our travels throughout Australia, Janet-Planet and I seek out these stories as they provide a fascinating insight to the local area, often the prominent land topography, and importantly, aboriginal culture.

Ahead of this week’s hike on Hinchinbrook Island I came across one such story as related by a Traditional Owner from the Girramay people. The Girramay come from the lands surrounding Cardwell, in Queensland and this story is common to a number of groups in the region.

A great story to kick-off my hike with!

“An old, old story from long time ago…

Girugarr, we call that bloke the first surveyor, he named all the country, he come from across the sea, we don’t know where he came from. He look like man on top and he got long tail like an eel.

Girugarr comes from across the sea and he stop there on Palm Island, his first foot print is there at Mundy Bay.

The earth was hot and when he put his foot down there was a little bit of splash on the mud, it’s on a rock over there.

He speaks to the old people there, growls at them, “what are you doing?”

Girugarr comes up the channel.

When he comes through the sea up to Hinchinbrook Island there are no waves in that sea. He finds all the old people cutting a candle nut tree down and he asks them what are they doing.

They’re telling him in Guwal, the traditional language, “we are cutting this tree down to find witchetty grub”.

In Guwal the tree is called gabura.

The sea was calm.

That gabura tree it stand up tall and when it falls down into the water it creates waves for the first time…”

Thanks to Marcia, a Traditional Owner, for sharing a part of this wonderful dreamtime story from long time ago.

If there are waves on the passage as I cross to Hinchinbrook Island I will be able to reflect on the dreamtime story of the Girramay people – how good is that, hey.

Photos: Baz – The Landy, Cardwell, Far North Queensland…!

 

 

Miss Redhead – My burning desire…

Red heads

The Australian Outback, an ancient land where the red-parched soil is touched by an endless blue sky and where confetti flutters on the breeze.

 

Hang-on, since when was confetti part of our outback landscape…?

On a recent foray into the outback we thought we were travelling behind a bus full of Japanese newly-weds…

You know, the ones you see down at the Historic Rocks precinct in Sydney on a Saturday morning.

Lots of smiling faces, nodding as only the Japanese can in their most polite way, married in large groups on the steps of Mrs Macquarie’s Chair overlooking the magnificent Sydney Harbour, and more confetti than you could poke-a-stick at.

Strewth, and just to be clear, lest I be accused of casting a racial slur…

I love the Japanese people.

What would lunchtime be without sashimi – Nikon camera’s weren’t the only thing they shared with the world.  And hey, I’m not suggesting there were busloads of them in the outback throwing confetti everywhere either.

I was speaking metaphorically…(okay?)

But crikey – somebody must have been.

There was so much of it you could be forgiven for thinking that it must have come from a mass wedding.

Now I get it, it isn’t the most popular dinner party topic, but thanks to the hilarious 2006 movie “Kenny” we have at least got a little more comfortable discussing the issue around the camp fire these days.

And let’s not beat around the bush here, we are talking about “Poo Tickets”

Crikey, I thought everyone has watched that movie?

Toilet paper, you dill…!

Oh, stop cringing and shuffling in your seat…

And spare us the protest, Kenny dispelled many of those urban myths about…

Mine doesn’t smell and I always clean the bowel…

As a kid I used to visit my grandmother’s home in a small country town and she had an outhouse down the backyard. Anyone from the bush will know what an outhouse is and without doubt they’ve been the butt of many jokes for time eternity.

In Nan’s outhouse there was always a small box of matches sitting behind the door and she insisted one be lit each and every time you arose from the throne!

I thought this was normal and I don’t recall anyone ever complaining about the need to do it, it was just part of the routine…

Although, Uncle Bluey did complain about it once, but that was when my cousin accidently set alight to his prized Playboy Mag he had tucked down the back of the seat that us kids never knew about.

And mum’s still the word on that one..!

So why a box of matches?

Well nothing beats a freshly lit match to kill all other lingering smells …

Come-on,  you’re not still cringing, surely?

Needless to say, caution should always be exercised when playing with matches and there was the time Bluey sent the outhouse door over the back fence after a brekkie of Heinz baked beans…(thank God for flushing toilet’s these days, hey)

I’m not sure what was funniest, Bluey sitting there in his navy singlet with his Y-Fronts around his ankles, or the dunny door in the neighbour’s mango tree.

He had that “eyes rolled-up, embarrassed” look that dogs get when your eyes meet as they do their business.

Dog owners will know what I mean…

But, here is the thing, we’ve always carried a little box of redheads when we are Out and About.

In one bold strike you fill the air with the smell of a freshly burning match after a squat, removing the need to protest yours doesn’t smell, and importantly, you can use it to burn your poo tickets…

So, for those of you that head bush please take “Miss Redhead” with you.  

She may not ignite your passion, but in the least, she will put a flame to your “poo tickets” and spare our wonderful country the indignity of the unwanted and unsightly “confetti” that has increasingly become part of the landscape…

Baz – The Landy

Ps: Seriously, this is a major problem these days!

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…

 

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

Graduating From Work…

 

You’ve what…?

I’ve retired!  

I hear the cry go out, but you’re too young to retire…

Hey, isn’t that the point.

Besides, I am seeing it as a “graduation from work to full-time adventure”.

But what does retirement truly mean in any case?

Perhaps it is a word for another age, one long past – for me retirement means I have set a different course with my life, reclaiming some of those dreams I have long-held.

Australian Outback

 

After all, you can’t just keep laying “railroad tracks” in the same direction and simply hope you don’t run out of tracks. It is empowering and invigorating to seize control of your life; to make changes as you look to new horizons.

Speaking of which, the Australian Outback beckons and perhaps there are still some mountains that I can climb and plenty of our wonderful coastline left to kayak…

Without doubt this change in my life affords me a better opportunity to claim back my fitness, something that has been lacking over these past couple of years!

It is 42-years since I commenced work with the Bank of New South Wales at age 15-years in 1975. “The Wales” as it was affectionately known was renamed Westpac Banking Corporation following a merger with the Commercial Bank of Australia in 1982.

 

“Dear Mr and Mrs O’Malley, it is now 6 months since your son entered on probation with the bank.

During that time, Barry has settled into his new surroundings and applied himself to his various duties to the extent he has shown himself suited to bank work…”

 

bank of new south wales

And whilst I have left the building today, my official finishing date will be 10 April 2017 and following a significant milestone in the history of the bank.

The 8th of April marks the date 200-years ago in 1817 that the Bank of New South Wales opened its doors to business for the very first time. And those that do the maths will see I have been with the bank for over one-fifth of the time since it took those first deposits from customers.

Coincidently, it was on 10 April 1989 that I commenced working in the bank’s 60 Martin Place Financial Markets dealing room after my return from a secondment to the bank’s operations in Papua New Guinea.

The bank has given my family and me a wonderful life, one that has been filled with the opportunity to develop professionally and personally…

“I am proud of the contribution I have made to the bank and today as I walk out the front doors of Head Office in Sydney, perhaps with moistened eyes, I will look back at the mosaic that is the Bank.

I will remember fondly the people I have worked with over the years, the challenges we faced, the successes we achieved, and, importantly, the laughter and banter we have shared.

I will wish those who remain all the best for their future as they continue to weave the living tapestry that is the bank; as they continue to make their own impression on that mosaic…”

 

People have asked me, what will you do?

Well, TomO, the Crown Prince, has just started Year-11 at school and I’m looking forward to simply “being around” for him as he navigates his way through these two important remaining years of his high schooling.

And the future, how do I see that taking shape…?

My answer is simple, to spend it with the love of my life, Janet-Planet.

All who know this wonderfully kind person will attest, she is an absolute angel – I was so lucky to marry the girl next door thirty-three years ago.

Yes literally, next-door neighbours making eyes over the back-fence!

Together we plan to enjoy the next chapter in our lives and look forward to watching our TomO make his mark on the world as he paints his own picture on life’s canvas…

A romantic notion?

For sure it is, but Janet-Planet and I are romantics to the core and loving every minute of that, it has kept us young at heart…!

And who knows where those “railroad tracks” will takes us, but sometimes you just need to walk to the edge and not be afraid to peer over it.

We truly believe the world becomes your oyster when you are willing to put your fears aside and simply…

“Live in the moment”

After all, that is the only moment that we can ever truly live…

“Thanks for your friendship and the memories, Big Bad Baz…!”

 

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

 

Heat wave hits Australia (How to survive…)

Keep the fluids up…

Okay, yes Janet-Planet, I will put up the disclaimer

…”Please drink responsibly”

Crikey!

Photos: Baz – The Landy, and Janet-Planet, Out and About toasting Australia!

The Australian Outback – More than just a state of mind…

Australian outback

Deep in the middle of one of Australia’s remote desert lands at a place where perhaps only a handful of Australian’s of European descent have stood, if that many and not a soul in sight

Photo: Baz – The Landy

Rosenberg’s Goanna, inquisitive and vulnerable…

australian reptile

The Rosenberg Goanna is a monitor lizard and Kangaroo Island, situated off Australia’s southern coastline, is the last stronghold for this wonderful and inquisitive reptile. We came across this one on our recent visit to the island. 

It has been declared a vulnerable species, so let’s hope we won’t just be looking at them in wildlife journals in years to come…

Photo: Baz – The Landy

Breakfast, in the Australian Bush…

Campfire cooking

An egg poached in an orange over a coal fire with bacon on the side. Seriously, it’s gotta be the best thing since sliced bread, hey!

Photo: Baz – The Landy

Dawn over the Billabong, and not a care in the world…

Ourimperee Water Hole - Outback Australia

 

Ourimperee Water-hole, Currawinya National Park, Australia…

Photo: Baz – The Landy

Everyone has a plan (Until they get punched in the face)

Outback Australia

Rest assured I am not about to start throwing punches, but I came across this quote recently.

And it is quite sobering, especially given it was from Mike Tyson.

Remember Mike?

Could there be anything worse than being on the receiving end of a Mike Tyson punch?

Mind, you I suspect he is correct in the assessment he makes about plans and it got me thinking about the topic and how it might relate to remote area travel.

And can I confess upfront, I’m a “planning nutter”…

Many of you will be aware we spend plenty of time Out and About in the great Southern Land, Australia, exploring its natural beauty and wonders and much of this is done in very remote locations.

And if it isn’t the Outback we might be on the side of a mountain somewhere in the world…

So what about planning and what considerations should be taken into account?

Whilst the degree of planning may vary from one person to another, I am sure that almost all of us have one in mind, whether committed to memory or in written form…

Mind you, everything has risk attached to it, right?

The question is whether the risk can be managed to a level that is acceptable, firstly to you and secondly, broadly acceptable to those who may be called upon to provide assistance if something goes wrong.

And I use the word broadly because it is subjective to make a judgment on what others might find acceptable.

To get around this, I use the reasonable test and ask myself the question – would, on average, reasonable people find this a reasonable assumption to make?

In my view planning is one of the most important aspects of any trip and should be approached as a risk management exercise. I put planning at the top of my list…

Whilst in the stress free environment of your living room at home you can assess all aspects of the expedition without the pressure of things crumbling around you out in the field and for which you have not developed a response.

When it comes to remote travel in Australia I find many place a lot of focus on equipment, and vehicles,  communications; how much food and water needs to be taken along with the required fuel.

And for sure these are all important aspects to any trip planning, falling under the heading of trip logistics.

But what about your health and fitness and that of your travelling companions?

Are you in suitable shape both mentally and physically for this specific expedition?

What about expected weather conditions and how will you respond to changing conditions?

At what point do you call the trip off – what decision criteria have you established for this both in the time prior to departure and once it is underway?

This is an important one; more than one person has died from the “press-on-regardless” mentality.

We’ve planned this trip and we’ll complete it at all costs…regardless!

How can this type of thought trap be avoided?

…Establish criteria to prevent it from happening!

No one wants to call off a trip once under way, but it might be the best decision despite the disappointment. Having guidelines decided and agreed upon in advance takes much of the angst away from this type of decision making it easier to arrive at if faced with a particular circumstance.

And what about a point of no return decision?

How many people consider this when travelling from point A to point B in remote and arid countryside, crossing the Simpson Desert, for example or other remote areas?

Prior to arriving at this equi-distance point consideration should be given to whether the destination can still be reached, or might it be wiser to return to the previous checkpoint whilst you still have sufficient fuel and supplies to do so.

There could be any number of reasons that might affect your decision; weather would be an important one for example. But there could be many others that should be assessed at this critical point before continuing on your journey.

Once the point of no return is crossed the decision has been made and you are now committed to it regardless, possibly with dire consequences if not well thought out, or even considered.

Planning for a trip begins and ends at home…

By the time you head down through the front-gate you should be confident in your endeavours and that you have thought out potential issues and how you will deal with them. By now you and your travelling companions should have committed to some form of template as to how you will respond to specific and non-specific situations.

Once under way the expedition progress should be evaluated against what you expected and anticipated in your planning – and if it doesn’t align consider the impact it will have on your objective and how you should response to these changes…

And for sure, there may be issues that crop up that you didn’t have a specific plan for, but you can still have a response for these situations along the lines of  how it might affect the successful completion of the trip and what is the implication of continuing or not continuing?

Consideration should also be given to the well-being of the group or others that may be called upon for assistance especially if things are going as planned.

Problems often arise not because of a primary occurrence, but the impact it has as it cascades down through a number of scenarios and usually we receive plenty of opportunity to address these before they manifest into a much larger issue.

Have a plan, have a plan, and have a plan – that is my pre-trip mantra regardless of the undertaking or where in the world I am planning an adventure…!

It is one thing to be confronted with an issue and making the incorrect assessment or choice, but it is almost unforgiveable to not act and make any decision at all when something goes wrong…

…History is littered with the deaths of people who simply failed to act, having a plan is a good way to avoid being in such a predicament!

And hey, planning needn’t rob you of the spontaneity that travelling can bring, to the contrary, hopefully it enhances the experience by giving comfort that you have considered how you will respond to adverse and changing conditions as the trip progresses.

How much time do you put into trip planning and would yours withstand that…

 “Punch in the face”…?

Photo, Baz – The Landy

In-Vehicle Computer Mount (A Solution)

Panasonic Toughbook

A favourite catch-cry in the corporate world, of which I am firmly entrenched, suggests any goal needs a plan and a “road map” detailing how you are going to arrive at your objective.

But what about “road maps” when we are Out and About – Having Fun?

Exploring the OutbackI grew up wandering the bush with a compass in hand and a bunch of paper maps and in my flying days I had similar.

Even with the advancement of GPS technology I still haven’t been able to give-up my paper maps and compass.

Mind you, “The Landy” our Toyota 79 Series Dual Cab is fitted with a VMS In-Dash GPS running Oziexplorer mapping software. Although, I find the VMS lacking in functionality as it only runs a “light” version of the full Oziexplorer program and the screen size challenges even those with 20/20 vision.

On an outback expedition to the Gibson and Little Sandy Deserts I was able to review a Panasonic Toughbook in action.  A robust laptop, the Toughbook has its genesis in the US Military and could survive almost anything thrown at it, especially the bone-jarring corrugations found on many of our outback tracks.

Rest assured, this sort of toughness comes at a hefty price for a brand new unit, but on my return from the expedition I purchased a reconditioned unit from a Melbourne based dealer for a fraction of its new cost.

It can be turned into a “tablet” and I use it with a wireless keyboard and it has a solid-state hard-drive, which makes loading up extremely fast.

The challenge was where to locate the unit so it would be accessible to both driver and navigator in the front seat, but without comprising comfort and safety, especially if air-bags were activated.

I reviewed a variety of over-the-counter products, but concluded none were likely to survive the corrugations of our outback roads and a custom made mount was the only way to go.

I settled on working with the team at Industrial Evolution, a Sydney based company specialising in making computer mounts for police vehicles.

The owner, Brett Franzi, was pleased I made contact as he had not had access to the more recent batch of Toyota 76, 78, and 79 series vehicles and my request provided the opportunity for a design template to be made.

Why go with the in-dash mount?

It is centrally located and securely attached to the dashboard and whilst it does take up some real estate in the central dash location, the alternatives would have done so also.

Importantly, it meets ADR Standards and fitting is a straightforward process and is easily achieved by the most basic of handymen.

Mind you, the proof is always “in the pudding” and tests on all types of road surfaces covering in excess of 30,000 kilometres over the past couple of years has proven the Panasonic Toughbook, combined with the in-dash mount from Industrial Evolution, to be a great partnership…

A great solution that gets my vote, but hey, don’t leave home without a map and a basic compass – they have never been known to fail…!

The cost, well it will depend on what items you purchase, but don’t expect too much change out of $500.

Photos: Baz – The Landy

Bark Art (Postcard from the Outback)

anne beadell highway

Australia’s Outback is like a giant canvas full of visual wonders.

And whilst we both like to capture the “big picture” framing our wonderful red landscape against a never ending blue sky, I like to put the macro-lens on the camera and photograph…

 “Bark Art”

With so many species of trees in the Australian Bush and Outback I have a never-ending supply of material to frame that special shot.

And I look forward to sharing many of them with you, Janet-Planet…!

 Photograph: Janet-Planet, Anne Beadell Highway, Outback Australia

 

The thunder of a hundred hoofs (Camping in your backyard)…

Breaking the bounds of urban living from Australia’s largest city and heading bush into the Australian Outback without a care in the world is always tantalisingly attractive.

Fortunately, as a family we are to be able to hitch up our camper trailer and head west at least once or twice a year.

The glow of a setting sun on a faraway horizon, the warmth of a camp fire crackling in harmony with the sizzle of a roast cooking in the camp-oven, and the chorus of laughter and banter with family and friends is what draws us to camping in this great country of ours.

And if you are like me, my mind’s eye pictures this scene almost every other day!

The problem for many of us is that work and the studies of teenage children tend to get in the way of a sojourn across a parched, rugged landscape under a never-ending blue sky.

Such is the beauty of Australia.

Recently, the call of the bush and a shoulder of lamb roasted on the fire was far too great to resist so we headed for a camp in our own backyard. Well, not quite literally our backyard, but a short drive up the freeway to a place called Glenworth Valley.

Glenworth Valley is a sprawling 3,000 acre property located just to the north of Sydney that caters to a variety of activities including, horse riding, quad bike riding, and for the less active inclined, a float on a li-low down a quiet meandering creek or if you like, just a leisurely stroll along many of the bush tracks.

Glenworth Valley has it all…!

And for those who cannot go a couple of days without a coffee fix expertly prepared by a barista, don’t be alarmed, you are catered for in a small café located near the stables.

Usually, we avoid camping with the crowds, in fact, as a family we are quite comfortable being in the middle of no-where without another soul in sight. The trouble with living and working in an urban environment is you usually need to travel some distance to find your idyllic spot, especially one that you won’t need to share with someone else…

The trip to Glenworth Valley was a rewarding way to re-charge the soul with family and friends despite there being just more than a few other campers who were perhaps encouraged out by the warmer weather and a long-weekend.

But don’t be put off by there being other campers, we still had plenty of room to kick-back and enjoy our camp-oven roasted lamb, washed down by a glass or two of red!

If you ever make it to Glenworth Valley don’t miss watching the horses’ race out of their holding yard and along the bush track that leads to their paddock. The thunder of the hoofs of over a hundred horses in full flight is a daily ritual that happens not long before the sun slips below the western hills, a spectacle not to be missed, that’s for sure…

Australian Kookaburra

And don’t worry about taking your alarm clock, the kookaburra’s will herald in a new day dawning just before you hear the sound of the horses returning from the paddock to be saddled up for another day of riding in the picturesque Glenworth Valley.

Enjoy, XPLORE…

Photos: Baz – The Landy

Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun!

 

The Camp Fire

One of the best things about camping is sitting around the fire cooking camp food…

And with a long-weekend on offer we are heading bush to escape the bounds of modern urban living, well for 48-hours at least!

On our travels we always cook on an open fire using our cast-iron camp oven. What better way is there to bring everyone together, hey?

Rest assured there is no shortage of laughter and friendly banter as we raise a glass to friendship, the setting sun projecting a montage of ever changing colour on a ruggedly beautiful landscape…

And what better way to greet the warming rays of the sun as it reaches out on a brisk spring morning than devouring a batch of scones with lashings of butter and jam, expertly prepared and cooked by my wonderful partner, Janet…

Camp food and fun in the bush with family and friends, you’ve gotta love it…hey?

Photos: Baz – The Landy

A Call to Service (Where timing is everything)

Yorkshire

 You have to love the class system in Great Britain, it defines who you are and helps you fit into your neat little place in life.

 Well, at least that is my take on it anyway…

Mind you I’m no expert on the subject, after all, coming from the Colony of New South Wales the closest I get to an insight to the lives of the upper class is watching The Real Housewives of St Kilda.

Just for a change I am not immersed deep in the Australian Outback, travelling along some dusty track in the middle-of-nowhere under a deep blue sky, or sitting beside a campfire under the Milky Way, telling a tall yarn.

Nope,

I am entrenched deep in the Yorkshire countryside where you’ll get a few minutes under a blue sky every hour, if you’re lucky!

It is no wonder those Chelsea Housewives have got orange tans that are more fake than their boobs.

Hey, I’m sure they really do have nice personalities so let’s not get into a class war here.

Anyway, as you can see, my propensity to digress hasn’t diminished despite being on the other side of the world so let me push on otherwise it will take me another two gin and tonics to get this story finished.

Bath

Speaking of which, I was in a small bar in Bath the other day, well evening really, and strike-a-light, they had every type of gin known to mankind and that was all in a bar that measured six-by-six feet – cozy really. But hell, who designs these places?

And how good are those Country Estates they have over here, hey?

Manor Houses, where you cross the country from east to west just to get from the front gate to the front door and when you arrive there is a bloke all dolled-up in a penguin suit to greet you.

Very civilised…

It reminds me of that television show starring Carson and the Gang down at Downton Abbey, which coincidently is set in the Yorkshire Countryside, despite being shot anywhere but near York.

But who am I to get picky, after all I’ve told one or two porkies in my time just to suit the yarn…

Hey, let me share my story of a “Call to Service”…

There I was being chauffeured through the York Countryside when we came across a sign for Harewood House, the ancestral residence of the Earl of Harewood, inviting all and sundry to come and visit.

For a fee of course.

You know what those Aristocratic Pom’s are like, never miss a chance that lot and good for them, strewth, it costs me a fortune to maintain my shed with toys, imagine how much it must cost to run a joint like that, especially with a stable full of Bentley’s!

Anyway, here was a chance to roll up the driveway and be greeted by Carson and the Gang. In reality, we were directed to a car park in a field and Janet was heard mumbling that I would indeed start looking as portly as Carson if I drank any more pints of that warm cask ale they serve over here.

Nice one Janet, but hey I’m not counting the number of cream teas you’ve had (fifteen).

Those three gin and tonics are starting to work their magic, so best I get on with this story.

What a fabulous home this was, truly Stately, and whilst we weren’t greeted by Carson, the staff were friendly and showed us around the home, which is full of artifacts and paintings collected by the Earl’s over the years.

And you oughta see the size of the bedrooms they had in this place. You needed a map and compass to get from the door to the bed and a bloke would need a rest before he mounted anything in here, especially the four-poster, which for some reason was about about ten-foot off the ground…

Now it was pointed out that the second wife of the Seventh Earl still lives in the house and occasionally one might catch a glimpse of her, rare as that might be.

Well stone the bloody crows, just as I was about to leave who should turn up but the Countess herself, who coincidently is an Australian.

Yep, a fair dinkum Aussie, all class and no (whoopsie).

Anyway, standing at the front door in all-my splendor, wearing my usual bond’s black tee shirt, I opened the door with all the grace befitting of the occasion and welcomed Her Ladyship home…

G’day Ma’am…

And with all the air of the upper class she breezed by with a slight nod, but without familiarity, as it should be…!

 Welcome to service Baz, where Timing is Everything, hey!

Photos: Baz – The Landy

Ps: Janet didn’t really say that I would look portly like Carson – she’s far to nice to say that!

…Speaking Welsh (And Jibberish)

Aberystwth, a seaside town deep in the Welsh heartland is about as far away from the red ochre soil of the Australian Outback you could get, but it has much in common.

The locals are warming and friendly, the beer is cold, and I’m sure if you drink enough of it you’ll be able to converse in the Welsh native tongue.

The amber fluid usually finds its way around most language barriers…

Strewth,  speaking of cold, it is the middle of summer, 15 degrees and the wind so strong that it’d  “blow ‘ya dog off its chain”…

But hey, I’m not complaining, blimey, I could get used to this, for a while anyway!

Photos: Baz – The Landy

Ps: Did Benny Hill ever “Carry-On” here?

To Travel is to Live (And Warm Beer)

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote,
To travel is to live.”

I was reminded of this eloquent quote from Hans Christian Andersen as Mrs Landy, Janet-Planet, and I took an early morning stroll in the picturesque village of Dittisham, situated on the River Dart in Devon, England.

Yes, I hear the chorus ring out…

“There is no red dust or never ending blue skies in the South of England Baz”…

Crikey, I can live with that, for a week or two, but seriously, warm beer?

Mind you, after a couple of pints down at the Ferry Boat Inn, okay Janet, three, I didn’t realise we were counting, one can almost get used to it…

“To travel is to live”.

Photos: Baz – The Landy