Your Mind’s Eye – A wonderful gift…

Bathed in the glow of a setting sun, this tailor’s shop took me on a journey to another time…

Who went through the front door, what did they buy, what banter did those inside share, was there laughter to be heard over the sound of a sewing machine?

Your mind’s eye is a wonderful gift that enables you to indulge your own thoughts, to pause and reflect…

Sitting around the fire later that evening, embers glowing a soft orange and providing warmth against the chill, I wondered, what thread did the tailor weave in this once thriving bush community…?

I’ll leave you to reflect…

Photo: Baz – The Landy, Yerranderie, Australia…

Yerranderie – Whispers from the past…

Standing amongst the wooden and corrugated iron buildings in the old silver mining town of Yerranderie, my mind’s eye could hear the whispers, the laughter of people long gone drifting on the breeze…

Yerranderie is a small bush town not too far from the centre of the bustling metropolis of Australia’s capital city, Sydney – at least as the crow flies.

In reality it is about a six-hour drive, depending on the route you take.

Recently, I travelled via Oberon, the Kowmung River and along the historic Colong Stock Route. A dusty, but scenic route, and I was sure to wile away some time sitting next to the Kowmung River with a mug of steaming black tea as black cockatoos passed overhead…

With a few days up my sleeve I decided to spend a couple of them exploring, photographing, and hiking around the wonderful bush surrounds the town is situated in.

My visit was mid-week and I literally had the place to myself, apart from the caretaker who lives on-site. And the only sound one could hear was the constant chiming of the bellbirds’ call, ringing as they flittered through the trees.

The town is nestled beneath Bartlett’s Head, an impressive rock that stands proud and from its vantage point provides a wonderful panoramic view of the surrounding bush and the Kanangra Boyd Wilderness Area.

The hike to the top is well worth the effort and takes little more than an hour.

And at day’s end there is a rich golden glow as the setting sun reflects off its cliff walls before it glides below the mountain peaks, beyond the horizon, heralding in nightfall as wombats awaken from their daytime burrows…

From Bartlett’s Head you can view the Burragorang Valley and backwaters of Warragamba Dam, which provides Sydney with its water supply.

Prior to the construction of the dam in the late 1950s the Burragorang Valley was home to a small farming community and it provided a more direct access route to Yerranderie from the township of Camden to Sydney’s south-west.

Yerranderie has a history closely linked to the people of Burragorang Valley…

On Easter Sunday a service is held in the local Catholic Church to commemorate the pioneering people of the valley and their association with the town.

An opportunity for old friends to “catch-up”…

Whilst it is a reasonable trek to get to this little gem in the Australian Bush, if you have an adventurous spirit, enjoy a freshness in the air that only the mountains can provide, and a day or two to spare, I encourage you to pack some camping gear and your favourite bottle of red wine to share with friends around the warmth of a glowing campfire – better still pack another bottle and stay one more night!

Photos: Baz – The Landy, Yerranderie, Australia…

 

XPLORE – Out and About (On Facebook)

Australian Outback

Hey, did you notice we have created a new Facebook Page?

XPLORE – Out and About – it is in the sidebar of our blog…

If you are “Facebook Inclined” please like or follow us to stay up to date with our adventures…and if you like what you see why not share it with your friends!

The more the merrier we reckon…

Cheers, Baz – The Landy and Janet-Planet…

Moreton Island – A different kind of sand dune…

Toyota 79 Series Dual Cab

 

Our touring vehicle “The Landy” is booked in for a major service tomorrow having done 100,000 kilometres of touring this great country of ours over the past three-and-a-half years.

Much of it in the sand and desert country that is a feature of our Australian landscape…

At the end of the week I will be heading off to experience another type of sand country – Moreton Island, just off the coast of Brisbane.

Despite having lived in Brisbane for a number of years, Janet and I have never visited, so Janet has suggested I head off and do a “recce” of it so we can spend some time there together in the future.

Perhaps she is planning some “girlie shopping” ahead of our trip to Devon, in the South of England, during June and July and needs some space!

Moreton Island, which is reached by ferry, has around 400-kilomtetres of sand tracks to be “Xplored”, pristine waters and wrecks that you can snorkel around, and a historic Light-house built in the mid 1800’s…and they say the fishing is great – well I’ll put that to the test at some stage, but knowing my track record the fridge in “The Landy” will be stocked with a few steaks, just in case!

And I will be leaving the TVAN, our touring camper-trailer, at home in favour of swagging it – simple and easy.

The camera gear is packed, so hopefully the weather will be kind on Moreton so I can get “Out and About” and experience a different kind of sand country…

Photos:  Baz – The Landy

 

The Bush – A Poem…

The Bush

By Baz – The Landy

“Up on the hill,

Looking over the land,

A vista so vast,

So splendid and grand,

 

A Bellbird sings,

It’s a familiar tune,

A lyrebird dances,

Feathers fanned in full plume,

 

Nearby a ‘roo bounds,

Always nimble on its feet,

Joey’s in the pouch,

It’s a prime viewing seat,

 

There’s the whistle of the wind,

Rustling softly through the trees,

As an eagle overhead,

Soars high, so carefree,

 

Now night is descending,

The sun ever so low,

There’s the crackle of a fire,

And warmth, as embers glow…”

 

Poem and photos: Baz – The Landy

Life Outside the Comfort Zone – A week on Army Cadet Camp

An opportunity to spend a week in the bush was the call-out to parents from the school our son attends…

A beautiful spot nestled on the fringes of the Hunter Valley wine region and not too far from Pokolbin Village.

Visitors to the Hunter Valley, which is situated two-hours drive from Sydney’s CBD, will know that Pokolbin is the epicentre of this spectacularly beautiful area.

I am never backward in coming forward when presented with the opportunity to get Out and About in the Australian Bush so I jumped at the chance!

Of course, as with most things, there was a hitch…

The week was to be spent in support of our sons and daughter’s annual Military Cadet Camp.

This entailed cooking and washing up duties and general support around the camp. Filling jerry cans with water to slack the thirst of the cadets as they went about various exercises.

Mind you, it wasn’t really a hitch, after all who would not want to do that for the cadets, their son or daughter?

But with circa 330 cadets on camp, this was no small task – it was cooking on a grand scale and certainly nothing akin to “rustling up” the family breakfast on a lazy Sunday morning!

Impressively, the camp is run entirely by the cadets under the supervision of the cadet unit’s Commanding Officer and his support team. This includes logistics co-ordination and scheduling of exercises, all within a set chain-of-command.

During my week on Singleton Army base I had the opportunity to observe our son, TomO the Crown Prince, on manoeuvres in the mountains on Broken Back Ridge, a ridge that forms a natural boundary to the region.

For anyone who has been up on Broken Back and along many of its fire-trails will attest to the spectacular views it commands over the surrounding countryside.

I spent a couple of chilly nights up there, one of them quite wet, but I was doing it in the relative comfort of my trusty and dry swag. The cadets had to build survival shelters to sleep in…!

Whilst on Broken Back myself and a couple of the other parents were part of an exercise where the cadets came across a vehicle that had been involved in an accident. They were not aware of the exercise in advance, but they quickly employed learnt skills rendering medical assistance to the injured, whilst securing the area from possible “enemy attacks”.

Red colour dye, a tin of spaghetti and a couple of skeletal bones provided the props for authenticity…!

They excelled and we lived to recount the tale.

The Cadet unit at Barker College has a great history that spans the decades from the First World War and has seen many of its cadets go on to a military career, something that TomO is intending to do.

But it wasn’t all hard work for the cadets or the parents.

The last night was marked with a parade, a bush Chapel lead by the school’s Chaplain, the Reverend Ware, who was honoured at the service for his contribution to the Cadet unit over the past 25 years.

And after a meal that would satisfy any soldier just “in from the field” there was light-hearted entertainment when the cadets and parents alike performed a variety of skits.  Let’s say, some were rehearsed more than others, but that was the fun of it all…

The parent’s skit won the night, apparently the first-time ever, with an exhibition of a drill march.

Perfect?  No-way…

But that is what made it all the more entertaining for “the troops”.

This was truly a great experience for me and I am sure I am not alone in that sentiment…

Forged by the adverse conditions they faced it was a highlight to witness the camaraderie amongst the cadets as they were taken outside of their comfort zones. Young men and women from Barker College, our sons and daughters taking leadership roles, following orders, working together towards a common goal and ideal.

Along the Kokoda Track at Isaravu in Papua New Guinea there are four stone monuments inscripted with the following…

“Courage, Endurance, Mateship, Sacrifice”

Courage, Endurance, Mateship, Sacrifice – Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea

For those who have had the opportunity to stand there and reflect it is a moving experience…

During my week at camp I observed examples of all four of these qualities amongst the cadets and any parent who had a son or daughter on parade should be extremely proud of them.

I certainly was,

Bravo, Corporal Tom O’Malley

Photos: Baz – The Landy

Adventure – On a retiree’s budget…

Walking

Hey, just a week or so ago I hung-up my business suit following a “graduation from work”.

And one of the reasons for doing so was that work was just getting in the way of having fun and adventure – something had to give, right?

Anyway, I caught up with a fellow adventurer at the weekend, as it happens, my brother-in-law the Kiwi, and after some kayaking around the beautiful Newcastle coastline and over a couple of beers he tossed out the line…

“So what are you doing now that you have retired graduated from work…?”

“Well, it’s only been less than a week, but I am working on some ideas”…I said, twisting the top off another brown bottle.

“I’ve got a great idea for an adventure just suited to you retired blokes on a shoestring budget…” he said, barely containing a wry smile..

It’s a familiar line I’ve heard many times before and usually pitched after the third beer. And like accepting the “King’s Shilling” taking the fourth beer signifies you’ve signed up for some kind of adventure.

“Okay, Baz I’ve got a bush hike in mind, the Great North Walk, we’ll start the walk early next week so get your pack ready”…

“Can’t I just think about it”  I suggested trying to conceal we were on our fourth beer.

It could have been worse, I guess.

Not that it is an ordeal, after all this is a walk that is quite familiar to me and I have walked it in the opposite direction, coincidently, with the Kiwi, and have spent a lot of time on sections of it over the years…

It is worth knowing, just in case you ever have an inclination to walk from Newcastle to Sydney, it is 240-kilometres in distance over rugged mountain terrain; the road trip is no more than 140-kilometres on the freeway; and the price of a one-way rail ticket is $18 for a journey that takes approximately two hours…

…Yes, I’m hearing you Janet-Planet, you’re right, that fourth beer is always forged in blood, sweat, and usually some tears – I should have heeded your advice and stopped at the third!

Mind you, The Great North Walk is a spectacular way to get between these two harbour cities and worth highlighting it was constructed as a celebration of Australia’s Bicentenary in 1988…

There’ll be no luxury, just a simple bivvy bag under a tarp as we progress south towards our destination, Sydney’s Circular Quay where there is an Obelisk that marks the finish.

Coincidently, the Obelisk is right next to a well known Sydney watering hole, the Customs House. We might even have a beer there in amongst “The Suits” to celebrate the end of this adventure…

Yes, Janet-Planet, I’ll limit myself to three beers, maybe…

 

Photos: Baz – The Landy

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

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

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

Postcard from the beach – A “Hoodie”

Australian Birds

Hooded Plover, Stokes Beach, Australia.

I photographed this wonderful little fella on a recent trip to Kangaroo Island, just off Australia’s southern coastline.

This small bird, affectionally referred to as a “Hoodie”, is on the endangered list with numbers estimated at around 200 on the island…

 Photo: Baz – The Landy

The Pink Lakes…

Murray Sunset National Park

Situated in the far north-west of Victoria is a park that showcases the rugged and spectacularly beautiful Mallee landscape of low scrubland and sand dunes, the Murray-Sunset National Park.

Murray-Sunset gives you a feeling of being Out and About in Australia’s vast outback without the need for travelling the vast distances usually associated with visits to “the interior”…

On a recent trip south to Kangaroo Island we took a couple of days to traverse parts of the park and view the Pink Lakes for which it is renown. Pigmentation caused by algae colours the lakes pink during the summer months and is quite spectacular to view later in the day.

Throughout the 1900s salt was commercially mined in the area with operations ceasing around 1975, but relics of this era can be viewed as you make your way around the lakes on the Pioneer Circuit.

Our starting point for travelling into the park was the small township of Linga where there is a well-signed and formed dirt road that takes you to the Pink Lakes. The Pioneer Track is a circuit that is suitable for two-wheel drive vehicles taking visitors on a tour around the lakes and can easily be accessed from the larger towns of Ouyen or Pinaroo for those wanting to do a day visit.

Being summer, we were cautious to ensure temperatures were not too high in the park before committing to travelling through it. Not that we are unaccustomed to extreme heat and humidity, after all, we grew up in Queensland and lived in tropical Papua New Guinea for a number of years. But at this time of the year the park sees far less visitors and despite being not too far from a number of towns it remains a remote area that should be respected.

Pink Lakes

 

After a short drive from the highway we arrived at the Pink Lakes and Janet took the opportunity to photograph numerous plants and flowers at Lake Hardy before we moved on to Lake Crosby, a larger lake with camping sites available.

For those travelling the Mallee Highway this would be a good overnight spot to take a break, or alternatively, a good base to further explore the park over a number of days.

Murray-Sunset is a large area with a seemingly endless amount of tracks that you can explore, but for the most part, this will require a four-wheel drive vehicle due to the many sandy sections that are encountered.

And come well prepared with plenty of water and basic recovery gear as you may be on your own. We did not see anyone else in the park during our short visit.

With only a limited time to explore the park we headed north along the Underbool Track with an overnight camp at the Underbool campsite, before continuing north the following day to the intersection with the Pheeney ‘s Track and a drive towards the western boundary of the park.

There is a campsite not too far from the western border of the park on Pheeney’s Track, however we headed northwards along the North South Settlement Road and had our second night in the park at the Shearer’s Quarters campsite.

This is a campsite set amongst the trees not too far from the Shearer’s Quarters. And there is a walk that you can take through the scrub, but this is best done late in the day during the warmer months. And if you are lucky you’ll be rewarded with a glimpse of some of the wildlife and wonderful display of wildflowers.  And not to forget, marvellous bark-art as we like to call the patterns found on the many types of trees one encounters when exploring…

After a pleasant overnight stay at this campsite, which we had to ourselves, we made our way out of the park at Taplan, a small town on the park’s western border, before making our way south to Cape Jervis, the stepping off point for our Kangaroo Island Adventure.

We had frequently looked at Murray-Sunset on our maps and had it penciled in our “places to see book”.

Exploring the Outback

This short visit gave us a taste of what the park has to offer and provided an opportunity for us to give our new Track TVAN Firetail a test in the sand. We had no doubt it would perform as well as our older TVAN Canning that it replaced, and it did, flawlessly…

We have vowed to return in the cooler months, although we suspect that in the depths of winter Murray Sunset would be a very cold place, but with changing seasons comes new perspectives, a warm campfire and the opportunity to XPLORE…!

thelandy.comPhotos: Baz – The Landy and Janet-Planet, Murray Sunset National Park, Australia.

 

Kiss a Frog – And get lucky (In the Australian Bush)

Frogs on Kangaroo Island

How good is our Australian Wildlife, hey!

Recently, Janet-Planet and myself spent a week on Kangaroo Island, off the South Australian Coastline, exploring its rugged landscape and photographing some marvellous wildlife.

This little bloke hopped into our camp (literally)  late one afternoon and whilst we are not “frog” experts we believe it is a “painted or burrowing frog” and one of six known frogs to inhabit the island…

But, hey…whatever its name, you got to love it, hey!

Photo: Baz – The Landy

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro (through youthful eyes)

Tanzania

With a spectacularly rugged coastline, an enormous diversity of wildlife and plants, and not to forget wonderful local produce, including some very nice boutique wineries, Kangaroo Island should be on everyone’s bucket list to visit…

And rest assured, Janet-Planet and myself have indulged every aspect of this adventure to KI, an island nestled just off the southern coast of Australia, with quite some vigour whilst TomO is in Africa!

TomO, the Crown Prince, along with a number of his fellow schoolmates, who are mostly aged 16 or 17 years old, have been helping to paint classrooms at the School of St Jude before attempting to climb Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro.

The School of St Jude was established in Tanzania by an Australian, Gemma Sisia, in 2002 to educate the poorest of the poor.  Gemma’s belief remains that a free, high-quality education should be the right of all children in the world and that education is the strongest weapon in the fight against poverty.

Janet and I enjoy adventure and jump at any chance to XPLORE and as parents we have been blessed with a son who has embraced the opportunity; the challenges that exploring remote parts of Australia and the world brings.

We believe the experiences we have exposed TomO to through our pursuits has enabled him to develop skills of judgment and risk assessment well beyond what a lifetime in a classroom could ever teach.

Importantly, we have always taught him not to use the “F” word (failure, and yes, the other one as well!).

A little over 24-hours ago TomO and his mates began their final push to the summit of “Kili” from Kibo Hut after spending a few days of acclimitisation on the mountain.

Following is a message we received in the pre-dawn hours this morning.

Needless to say, we are extremely proud of TomO’s achievement, of all in his group, and despite the hardships endured, the fatigue created by this journey, he had the presence to be able to write to us in detail, via SMS, an account of his experience just after arriving back from the Rooftop of Africa…

And it’s alright if your eye moistens a little as you read, ours did.

Bravo TomO, you are an inspiration to all…!

Hey there, randomly got phone reception, but anyway just wanted to let you know that we just walked back from Kibo Hut about 3-hours ago. Yesterday we walked into Kibo around 3pm in the afternoon and slept through till dinner at 5. Had dinner packed then went to bed waiting for the 11pm wake up.

Got up then lined up outside in sub-zero temps and then began to walk up the mountain.

Was really cold which made it harder than it already was, slowly made our way up a gravel like track (hard to explain what it looked like) and the higher we got the more snow we began to see next to us. We then got higher and higher above the hut and people began to drop out, was really, really cold couldn’t feel my toes.

Thought about sitting down at some points but I kept going on because I knew I sat down I wouldn’t make it. Kept going and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done my feet were just so so heavy and I started swaying at one point but I kept going.

We were just before Gillmans Point when we began to see the sun on the horizon. Got there and was really excited, had a break there for like 5 and then kept on going to the full summit, was so so so hard like I was so exhausted and everything, but eventually I got there and was so happy. Didn’t get much video or pictures because it was too cold (so cold my phone died).

Others got a fair few shots, so yeah there will be a fair few photos going around.

I’ll call when I get to Springlands and tell you the rest, can’t be bothered to write anymore I’m really tired, missing you both though, talk later…

 

Baz – The Landy (On Kangaroo Island, but more on that later)

Ps: Tanzania works on Eastern African Time (EAT) which is 8 hours behind Sydney Australia. Mount Kilimanjaro stands at 19,340 feet above the African Plains. TomO and his mates will be resting up in a Safari Park before returning home on Christmas Eve…

 

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

Nirvana – in the Australian Outback

Lake Cohen, Outback Australia

 

Under the stars in the Australian Outback…

Yes, I thought you might ask…

No, I haven’t been hiding under a rock, nor chanting away in a Tibetan Monastery, as appealing as that might be sometimes.

And don’t worry I wasn’t eaten alive by an Australian Drop-Bear! 

Seriously, vegemite behind the ears has always worked a treat for me in warding off these dangerous critters whilst I’ve been Out and About…!

Crikey, you know me, I’ve been busy preparing for some upcoming adventures, but more on that later, just enjoy the campfire for now, okay!

Photo: Baz, The Landy at Lake Cohen – in the middle of nowhere (and loving it)…

 

 

 

Timeless – A day in the Australian Bush

The Landy

It is often said that nothing ever stands still – time marches on and waits for no one.

And as the last few hours of 2015 slipped from our grasp perhaps there were many in agreement with the sentiment…

But we can still time, at least for a few hours, and I have always found that a trip into the unique and timeless Aussie Bush is the one way to do it.

We can’t always be crossing this great country of ours, spending time in Australia’s magnificent outback, soaking up all the wonderful burnt orange and red colours under a dark blue sky – but hey, there is always the backyard, so to speak.

Australia

One of our favourite escapes from the rat race of city living is to head north of Sydney, crossing the Hawkesbury River and visiting Yengo National Park. The 100-kilometre or so drive to the park’s entrance takes you through the small fruit-growing region of Mangrove Mountain and alongside a road built by convicts during the days of early European settlement in Australia.

So yesterday, as the clock ticked down another year, Janet-Planet, TomO, a mate of his, and of course myself, jumped into “The Landy” and escaped!

The park has much to offer the casual visitor including aboriginal rock engravings.

Australian Bush

We always enjoy a short climb to the top of Devil’s Rock to view Mount Yengo in the west; it is a place to simply sit and ponder as the sun slips slowly below a far off horizon.

The park has a number of tracks of an easy standard and mostly suitable for two-wheel drive vehicles with good clearance, so don’t expect any challenging tracks. But sometimes it is just about the destination…

For those wanting to stay overnight, or for a few days, there is Finchley Campground and further along the Howe’s Valley Track, camping is available at Big Yengo. You will need to make arrangements with NSW National Parks to enter this part of the park as it is a gated area and requires payment of a fee to access and camp at Big Yengo.

Wollombi Australia

And if camping isn’t your thing you can spend the day exploring Yengo before heading to Wollombi, a small township not too far from park’s entry point – and don’t forget to quench your thirst at the pub with some Dr Jurd’s Jungle Juice…

So whilst we can’t stop the “clock” from ticking I find that a trip into the Australian Bush is one way that you can stop the hands of time – at least for a short period!

And for sure, we did that yesterday…

Photos: Baz – The Landy

As a footnote: The park adjoins a number of small private properties and there are numerous access tracks that are private access roads – please respect this and avoid travelling on them.

A Thorny Devil, In the Australian Outback…

A Thorny Devil, Empress Springs, Outback Australia…

Photo: Baz – The Landy

PS: It is about the size of a drink coaster…

Blue-Winged Kookaburra – In the Australian Bush

 Australian Birds

An Australian bird synonymous with the Australian Bush, photographed at Kingfisher Camp in Australia’s Gulf Savannah…

Photo: Baz – The Landy

 

Suitable only for Masochists and Israeli Paratroopers

Stretching between the villages of Salamaua and Wau in the island Nation of Papua New Guinea is a long-forgotten second world war track called “The Black Cat Track”.

It has it all…dangerous river crossings, swamps, cliffs, precarious rock-ledges, venomous snakes, and leeches that will suck the blood from your veins after the malaria carrying mosquito’s have finished with you…

The Lonely Planet guidebook describes the Black Cat Track as “suitable only for masochists and Israeli Paratroopers”.

This region of Papua New Guinea has some of the most spectacular jungle scenery on the planet and is the habitat of the country’s national emblem, the superbly beautiful Bird of Paradise.

I had to postpone a trek along the Black Cat Track a few years back due to civil unrest in the region, something it has been prone to from time-to-time, but I have been anxious to undertake this adventure and revisit a country Janet-Planet (Mrs Landy) and I lived in as newly weds many years ago…

Grey's Peak

And whilst I have not given up on my desire to climb amongst the world’s highest peaks in the Himalayas, the earthquake and tragic devastation it caused to Nepal and its people earlier this year has added a layer of complexity to that ambition!

But crikey, I need to “feed the rat” with adventure and an opportunity has arisen to join a trek along the Black Cat Track in May 2016 with a group of  Papua New Guinean Nationals – “Legends” as they are rightly referred to and ably led by Aidan Grimes.

Co-incidentally, it will be almost 10-years to the day that I walked the Kokoda Track with Aidan, a veteran of 100 traverses of the Kokoda Track; a track that is synonymous with Papua New Guinea and the battles fought by our brave and courageous “diggers” during World War Two.

It will make a change to the Australian Outback and snow covered mountain peaks…

What an adventure, hey!

So strap on your backpack and get your hiking boots out…there is plenty of training to be done…

Baz – The Landy

Such is the life of a desert dweller…

Wow, 7-weeks in the Australian Outback, travelling this wonderful country of ours in a customised four-wheel drive may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but hey, for the adventurous, you’d love it…

And for the less adventurous amongst us, crikey, come on get on board, it is about time you got out of your comfort zone and gave it a go.

My recent adventure into the deserts of Western Australia involved a return journey of over 10,000 kilometres into some of the world’s most inhospitable country, crossing vibrant red sand dunes where no roads or tracks exist…

Sand Dune Crossing

But don’t be put off by the remoteness and harshness of the Australian Outback as the rewards for the traveller, the adventurer, is a landscape more bio-diverse and fragile than the Amazon rainforest.

The contrasting beauty of a rugged landscape, the colours that you will see can never be replicated in a painting or photograph, but the memory of a setting sun, the golden hue it creates as it gently slips below the distant horizon will imprint a lasting memory that will have you longing to return to this place…

Outback Australia

 

My journey took me across Australia’s interior on a quest to assist a group of like minded people construct a shelter and other buildings for the Birriliburu people, the Traditional Owners of the Little Sandy Desert and Gibson Desert region of Australia…

Mind you, it is also about the journey and there was plenty of opportunity for me to explore and photograph other parts of the Australian Outback as I made my way westward…

Now let me say, shovelling sand and gravel into a cement mixer, on a clay pan and under a scorching sun is hard work and won’t necessarily count as a highlight of the trip. But the opportunity to spend time with the elders of the Birriliburu mob in their country, on their lands, was well worth the discomfort – it will leave a lasting impact on my life!

Crikey, don’t get me wrong, it was a pleasure to assist, I’m just complaining about those aching muscles that were antagonised in the process…

Amongst the aboriginal people I spent time with were a number of elders who were born to nomadic parents in the desert, first generation desert people who lived, hunted and sheltered on the very lands we were on and without any contact with Australian’s of European descent.

One of the elders, Geoffrey Stewart, was born to parents Warri and Yatungka, a couple who engaged in forbidden love under tribal laws and whose story is recounted in the book “Last of the Nomads”.

Another, Georgina “Dadina” Brown, took us to the place where she and her family were discovered by  Stan Gratte, an historical enthusiast, in 1976. At the time Stan was retracing the route of a 19th century explorer.

Georgina is an accomplished artist with work on display in the Australian National Gallery and her story is recounted in the book Born in the Desert – The Land and travels of a last Australian Nomad. 

All were willing to share their country with us, showing where they roamed the desert with their families and explaining how they captured food and travelled from rock-hole to rock-hole to find water.

Geoffrey shared some “Dreamtime Stories” and permitted us to view some magnificent rock art located in a gorge not too far from where we were based in the desert.

I have been travelling Australia’s vast outback region for many years and have always recognised it has a “spiritual beauty” to it.  But this trip has been special in a way that I never thought possible and has helped me view life through a different lens, putting a different perspective on life…

We live in a society that insists we plan our lives away, where we have an insatiable appetite for instant gratification, and need the latest gadgets, where we are able to visit a supermarket for our daily food needs with little thought as to how it arrived there…

It was refreshing to observe another perspective on life from people whose ancestors’ have inhabited our sunburnt country for over 40,000 years – a people whose philosophy of living in harmony with the environment is the pathway to ensuring a sustainable existence.

No, not necessarily an easy one, that’s for sure!

Most importantly, this trip and time spent on country with the Birriliburu mob has reinforced something that modern day living often has us overlook and that is the only moment you can live in is the one you are in.

Such is the life of a desert dweller…

Baz – The Landy

As a footnote:

The Birriliburu Lands are an Indigenous Protected Area not open to the general public. I visited at the kind invitation of the Elders of the Birriliburu People. 

Kata Tjuta – The Olgas

 

Kata Tjuta means “many heads” in the local indigenous language and the area is sacred under Tjukurpa and Anangu men’s law.

 

Photo: Baz – The Landy

Footnote: The “T” in Tjuta is silent…pronounced Kata (T)~juta