After several harrowing months of American politics and covid-19 I thought I’d take a look back at some of the beautiful country that is Australia. It’s a big place with diverse habitat. Pete and I have flown across it often and driven around it twice. We’re looking forward to being able to get out more when the petty tyrants (AKA premiers) of the various states get over their power rush and reopen the borders. With the added proviso that the risk of said borders being slammed shut again if somebody coughs, thereby trapping unfortunate visitors from other states, has faded away.
For now, here are some fond memories of better times when you drove across the border at 100kph without thinking anything of it. And maybe not even noticing you’d crossed a border.
On one of our road trips we visited Broome and from there went on a tour to Horizontal Falls. The tidal range up there is enormous and at one point the sea moves through two narrow gaps twice a day at high tide and low tide (see above photo). It’s a bit like a sink full of water when you pull out the plug. There’s only a narrow pipe and a lot of water so it piles up and creates a waterfall just like the one in the picture below. The jet boat is being held in the torrent of water rushing out. Click here to read more about it.
On that same trip we visited Nitmiluk, the aboriginal name for Katherine Gorge. It’s a truly amazing place where the river carved its way through the red hills. There are thirteen gorges separated by natural dams. At the end of the Dry the water was low so we visited only two of the gorges. In the Wet this place is a raging torrent.You can bet it is right now. There’s been a LOT of rain up there lately.
Our guide on the little boat trip was indigenous. He told us about the food found here and about the place where the Rainbow serpent lives in a part of the river which we were told is 33m deep! Click here for more.
I have to include Back Home (Hervey Bay), where every year between late July and early November you can go out and visit with the whales. I go every year. It’s an awesome day out near the end of Fraser Island – and if you’re lucky you’ll get to see something like that ^. Or like this v. I have so many blogs about the whales. Click here to read all about an awesome trip I did a few years back.
One of my favourite places in the world is the city where I grew up – Perth, capital of Western Australia. The Powers That Be have put the entire state into isolation because of a couple of cases of covid-19 a few thousand kilometres away but when the PTB grab a brain it’s well worth going over there. Perth offers great, food, a laid-back lifestyle, an amazing river, and fantastic beaches. I wrote a whole series of blogs about my wonderful, nostalgic visits several years ago. Oh dear. Brings a tear to my eye to read them. Click here.
A stand-out for me on one visit was a couple of nights on Rottnest Island, one of the large limestone outcrops on a line of reefs that extend up the WA coast. It has a fascinating history. The local Nyoongar people called it Wadjemup, which means ‘the place across the water’. Which makes sense. It’s about twenty-four kilometres from Fremantle, Perth’s harbour city. Aboriginal people lived there when Rottnest was part of the mainland but haven’t (willingly) lived on the island after the sea level rose. (It was a notorious prison for aboriginals for quite some time.) I’m sure you’ve all heard of quokkas, the little marsupials with the permanent grin. Most of them live on Rottnest. Click here for more.
Back on the other side of Australia we’ve taken several trips by car and by train up to Cairns and surrounds. It’s a fascinating area, very different to the Kimberley or the south west. Up there it’s the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest. Rainforests tend to be rained on. Rather a lot. As a result, there are quite a lot of waterfalls. Millaa-Millaa falls is one of the most spectacular. Click here to see a few more.
I’m sure most Australians will have heard of the mighty Barron Falls in the mountains above Cairns. Unfortunately, it’s usually a huge disappointment. There’s a dam on the river just above the gorge so it’s normally throttled to an underwhelming splutter dwarfed by the size of its ravine. In the Wet, though, that ravine fills up right to pussy’s bow, truly a spectacular light and sound (and wet) show. I’ve only seen the underwhelming splutter. However, Stoney Creek Falls almost makes up for it. You can see this one from the train up to (or down from) Kuranda. The train slows specially so tourists can take photos. And you don’t have to drive. Click here for more.
I doubt that we’ll ever get back to the carefree days of travel that ended only a year ago, when you could book your tour a year in advance and know that yes, you would be travelling. But I really hope Australia soon becomes one country again, instead of six entities with barriers between them. Especially because those barriers seem to be pretty porous if you’re an elite sports person, a movie star, or just disgustingly rich.
It’s impossible to avoid covid and/or politics these days, isn’t it? I hope the Olympic Games are cancelled. I can’t see how that could possibly be managed in a covid-safe way. Just look at the Australian Tennis Open.
Keep safe, folks. Until next week.