Blue Skies…

Outback Australia


Hey, whilst we are in difficult times, there is way too much negativity around, especially if you listen to the 24-hour news cycle.

There is much to be hopeful about and this time will pass. 

Hopefully this photo helps lift your day which we captured on a trip to the spectacularly beautiful Australian Gulf Savannah on one of our many outback trips…

There is always a blue sky – sometimes you just have to look for it.

About us…

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

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

Thanks for joining us in the adventure…!

Cheers, Baz & Janet

Murphy’s Haystacks, golden and glowing…

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

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

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

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

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

About us…

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

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

 Thanks for joining us in the adventure…!

 Cheers, Baz & Janet-Planet

Janet-Planet & Baz

Diesel and Dust (An Australian Classic)

Diesel and Dust

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

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

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

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

Monster Mine

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

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

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

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

About us…

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

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

 Thanks for joining us in the adventure…!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About us…

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

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

Thanks for joining us in the adventure…!

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

Australian Reptile

Oh, no need to worry…!

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

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

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

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

About us…

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

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

Thanks for joining us in the adventure…!

 

Torgadirrup Dreaming (Mind The Gap…)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Swimming with Rays…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rabbit Proof Fence – Pioneering determination at its best…

western australia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A day in the Australian bush – Scottsdale Reserve

Bush Heritage Australia

Last week we spent a few days at a Bush Heritage Australia conservation property, Scottsdale Reserve, which is located approximately 70-kilometres south of Canberra on the Monaro Highway.

And the weather was much warmer than the last time Baz was there in August when temperatures plummeted to minus 10 degrees.  This time around the days were warm and the nights balmy…

Our assigned task was weed control, spraying fields of St John’s Wort that are now starting to flower. However, sporadic rain showers slowed this job down.

Mind you rain is most welcome on Scottsdale as it has been in drought for sometime.

Conservation

So while Baz was out in the Polaris spraying weeds, I got to have a Master-class in propagating two types of Eucalyptus trees (Eucalyptus Bridge Siana and forgot the other one…oops)!

The propagation process entails looking under a microscope to see how many seeds are mixed in with the chaff, which in turn determines how big a scoop of seeds/chaff go into the potting tray.

I had no idea the seeds would be that microscopic, so it was a very small scoop…!

The trees will be planted on the property sometime over the next couple of years…

Late in the day, just around dusk, we made our way to a beautiful spot on the Murrumbidgee River, which the property fronts, to see if we could spot a Platypus, or two, but to no avail on this occasion, they didn’t want to come out and play. But we saw turtles, water rats and some big Murray Cod!

A great and fun time to spend a few days helping out the environment!

And hey, you can read some more about the work Bush Heritage Australia does, here.

Photos: Janet-Planet & Baz – The Landy, in Australia’s Alpine Region…

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

A hidden gem amongst the urban chaos…

Sydney Harbour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos: Baz – The Landy

Baz – The Landy

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

The Sturt Desert Pea – A Dreamtime Story…

Sturt Desert Pea

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

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

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

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

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

Neither she nor her lover were seen again…”

 

Photo: Baz – The Landy, Outback Australia…

Baz – The Landy

A golden experience, whispers from the past…

milparinka

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

So I didn’t..!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Charles Sturt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

milparinka post office

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

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

australian pubs

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

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

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

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

Barry O'Malley
Baz – The Landy

 

Bark Art – in the Australian Outback

Anne Beadell Highway, Western Australia

 

Photo: Janet-Planet, in the Australian Outback

Janet-Planet

Burnt Bark – in the Australian Outback

Anne Beadell Highway, Western Australia




Photo: Janet-Planet, in the Australian Outback

Janet-Planet

Sculptural flowers in the Australian Outback

Anne Beadell Highway, South Australia

 

Photo: Janet-Planet, in the Australian Outback

Janet-Planet