Off the Tableland and onto the Savannah Way

Off the Tableland and onto the Savannah Way

Waterfalls, like the Millstream Falls are are true feature of the Atherton Tableland.

The falls lay between Ranenshoe

Queensland’s highest town and

Innot Hot Spring there are thermal waters in the creek or spa centre to ease an adventurers tired bones.

Past the Springs the land opens out to the savannah at 40 mile scrub.

Not for on I found a spring fed water hole for a cooling dip.

Before stopping at the little town of Mount Surprise.

An old gem stone fossicking town close by the Undara Volcanic National Park and its amazing Lava Tubes.

This is my second visit to the Lava Tubes. Back in 2015 returning from Cooktown I stayed at the Undara Resort. This time I chose the Bedrock Village at Mount Surprise.

The lava tubes are remnants from volcanic eruptions 190,000 years ago.

And are inhabited by little micro bats about the size of your thumb

The scale of the tubes can be seen here. Look for the guide in the bottom left hand corner.

The National Park is home to hundreds of extinct volcanoes.

The Kalkani Crater is accessible for walking.

With informative interpretation signs.

If you walk quietly you may see pretty faced wallabies

The beautiful Wonga Vine

And amazing views over the savannah.

As I write a new covid 19 outbreak has emerged in Australia and who knows how that will effect my travel plans across the continent.

One has to be flexible while travelling in the time of Covid 19.

The road north into Queensland

The road north into Queensland

It was a well worn path along the Lions Road over the Border Ranges back into Queensland.

Back into the Sunshine State on the first day of winter in Australia

It’s amazing that no matter how often a route is travelled there is something new to find.

The first find was Goomeri on the western side of the Great Divide.

The pear danish would rival any patisserie in the world and the Goomeri emporium and saddlery a blast from the past.

But my aim was the sea again.

To 1770, named after the year of Cooks landing, was where I came back to the Pacific.

Back at the long sandy beaches and the fisherman casting into the sea after Australian Salmon

Sunrise heralded the dawn of a glorious day.

Perfect for some sight seeing on the estuary

Or a walk in the coastal forest

And good weather even for a swim.

Ah nice to be in warm water.

And heading north in winter

Central Australia Adventure 12 – Uluru and Kata Tjuta

Central Australia Adventure 12 – Uluru and Kata Tjuta

The Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park in many ways the centre of Australia

Uluru the largest monolith in the world.

Constantly changing colour and tone as the light hits it.

To see it shine red during sunset it amazing

To see it at sunset with the March full moon rising on the equinox truly spiritual.

The walk around the base of Uluru is approximately 10.5 km.

Uluru is a sacred place for Aboriginal Australians and being close to it one feels the sacred power of the rock that is ever changing in colour and mood.

Each crevice, crack, cave and stain tell part of an Aboriginal dreamtime story.

Stories often told in drawing in the rock caves.

Kata Tjuta is approximately 40 km from Uluru. A series of sandstone rocks through which valleys wind.

The Valley of the Winds walk is an approximately 7km walk through the rock outcrops

As I sit in a hotel room in Longreach, Queensland, reflecting on the two weeks spent immersed in the Red Centre a shiver still goes down my spine.

It took me almost a lifetime to get here but I may yet be back.

Central Australia Adventure 7 – Coober Pedy and Oodnadatta

Central Australia Adventure 7 – Coober Pedy and Oodnadatta

The road from William Creek to Coober Pedy was rough with lots of sand drifts – my biggest weak spot – SAND.

A large part of the track transverses the Woomera Military Base. I’m sure the leave the road rough so no one dare look left or right for fear of hitting a big sand drift.

But due to rare summer rain the desert was green and I arrived in Coober Pedy, where the populace live underground to escape the heat on a mild afternoon.

The climatologists said it was going to be a mild summer – go climatologists.

Not a day over 30 in 4 days in the hottest part or Australia in late summer

The underground nature of Coober Pedy creates a different street scape.

The road from Coober Pedy to Oodnadatta crosses the Painted Desert. I can’t describe how beautiful it is and my photos can’t capture it.

The changes of colour from pink to yellow to green with glimpses of quartz glimmering in the sun.

Then there is the water holes.

And as the day warms up they siren call the traveller into the cool water.

Now I sit in the Pink Road House in Oodnadatta enjoying a cold beer.

Its 40 years since I last really road in the desert.

The desert and the sky in its vastness makes me feel small.

A speck on a motorbike in this huge space. How can one not be in awe of nature.

Central Australian Adventure 6 – onto the Oodnadatta Track

Central Australian Adventure 6 – onto the Oodnadatta Track

It was a beautiful dawn in the Northern Flinders Ranges.

There was a mixture of excitement and nerves as I headed north to Marree and the start of the Oodnadatta Track

Marree is an historic town and a major Old Ghan Railway.

The name The Ghan was derived from the Afghan camel handlers who were instrumental in opening up the centre of Australia to European settlement and in building the railway.

This historic mosque is a remnant of the Afghan presence.

The southern part of the Track is straight and fairly well sealed with quirky sideshows along the way.

It also skirts Southern Lake Eyre.

Coward Springs sits amongst provides a sheltered camping space amongst date palms originally introduced by the Afghan camel herders.

The owners have planted a new date plantation.

It provides a sheltered place to campin the arid country.

Coward Springs sits amongst a ground of mound springs.

And has a natural spa on site feed from such a spring

What a relief after a long ride!

Mound Springs are a unique part of outback Australia where water bubbles out of the ground from Australia’s Great Artesian Basin.

These springs provide green oasis in this otherwise arid land

The Southern section of the Track ends at William Creek an old railway siding with a welcoming hotel.

It was time for a break, adjust the drive, have a cold drink and choose my route to Oodnadatta.

The choice is direct or via Coober Pedy. Time is on my side so I have taken the long way via the underground town of Coober Pedy.

That tale is for the next blog.

Central Australian Adventure 2 – into the Flinders Ranges

Central Australian Adventure 2 – into the Flinders Ranges

The Flinders Ranges or Ikara in aboriginal language run from the southern end of Lake Eyre ( Kati Thanda to the sea at Port Augusta

I’m many ways the Ranges are a set of steps, a staircase leading from the south to the the red centre of Australia.

Willow Springs Staion provided the site for a couple nights camp.

As sunset loomed I couldn’t help but climb the rim on the gorge the station is in to see the colours.

Then back to camp to set the camp fire and prepare dinner.

Great place to camp and the dawn gave a beautiful welcome to the new day.

There are special colours when you get to the edge of the desert.

Central Australia adventure 1 -the coastal run

Central Australia adventure 1 -the coastal run

Coming over the top of the Otway Ranges from Forest

The view from Beacon Lookout over Apollo Bay is a must stop before making the final descent to the Great Ocean Road

I’ve written about this iconic roadway.

But on a windy day the sea around the monoliths at Port Campbell is foaming white.

Crossing the border into South Australia, the pretty fishing town of Beachport provided a pleasant stop

The Coorong is for me one of the most beautiful and mystical parts of Australia

A string of saline lakes separated from the Southern Ocean by huge sand dunes.

At the southern end the lakes are dry salt pans which gather water as one travels north toward the mouth of the Murray River

Crossing the Murray River near where it forms its estuary and the Coorong connects back to the Southern Ocean

At Cape Jervis which overlooks Kangaroo Island it was time to turn in land

And to night the Flinders Ranges are within striking distance and the vista has turned from sea blue to straw yellow

And the buildings in the small towns are of hard stones

And the sunset starting to gain a desert hue

Tomorrow its further inland to the Flinders Ranges!

The Steinbock ready for the outback

The Steinbock ready for the outback

It has been an anxious wait to start this trip.

A covid 19 5 day lock down in Melbourne meant state borders closed and my Central Australian adventure not possible.

Life during the 5 day lockdown was not too arduous as I live near the beach

And it was only 5 days till I could catch up with mates again

And undertake preparation for the trip ahead.

In the days of GPS I still love a good map

The 5 day lockdown turned out a godsend.

The outbreak was quickly bought under control and there are no more new cases in Victoria

I recieve my permit to enter South Australia on Friday and today I complete my annual medical tests

Problem of being 63 with some heart disease.

But will soon be off on the adventure which will take in

The Great Ocean Road;

The Coorong;

The Adelaide Hills,

The Flinders Ranges,

The Oodnadatta track and surrounds,

The Red Centre of Australia made most famous by Uluru and the amazing county around it

Into Queensland and down to Longreach,

The fossil area finds around Winton,

Carnarvon Gorge.

0ver 8,000 km to get to my friends eldest daughters wedding near Brisbane.

Wouldn’t do it any other way!

Grenfell, NSW and the run home through the mid west

Grenfell, NSW and the run home through the mid west

The little town of Grenfell is famous for a couple of things

The birthplace of Henry Lawson

And of my mother

Its a pretty town in the mid west on NSW

I only stayed a night

Just wanted to touch my mothers spirit

Its 27 years since her passing

The during the pandemic I have heard here voice a lot

She was born just before the 1918/1919 pandemic and was a stickler for hygiene

Michael, wash your hands, have you got a hanky, always cover your mouth when you cough

Probably the teaching of her mother

There was a beautiful dawn the next morning as I looked out from the balcony of the hotel.

And I was soon heading back through the NSW mid west plains back Melbourne.

The Motorcycle as Art

The Motorcycle as Art

The motorcycle has been used as a symbol in many ways;

the rebel,

the outlaw

the philosopher

The revolutionary

the freedom seeeker

the speed freak racer

the dare devil

and many more archetypes

The book Sons of Thunder in its anthology of writing covers many of these

To a rider their bike is a work of art

But as a public artform curated in an Art Gallery

This was special

The beautiful old Moto Guzzis took my eye

as the the Norton Commando and Laverda Joto-bikes I once owned

There were bikes so stylish

And bikes record breakingly fast

There were the off road bikes

And the electric bikes of the future

And my favourite – amazing hand built Britten

Still amongst the most innovative and eye catching bikes ever built

So if you love the image of motorbikes, the art of motorbikes and you are in Australia, head to the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane

whoops I nearly forgot the helmets

and if you go don’t forget to buy a tshirt!