Time to test and set up the new bike – 2

A mob of sheep being hearded along the road side to confirm you are in rural Austratralia

That you are in the mid west of NSW

I waited till it was clear to skirt around the outside of the mob and the sheep dogs and farmer skilfully hearded the sheep into the selected paddock

You also know you are in mid west NSW when you set up tent in the back of the Premer Hotel and enjoy the hospitality and a few Schooners of Old.

But the purpose of the trip north was not to enjoy the mustering of sheep or the taste of a Tooheys old but to test the Steinbock’s comfort for long touring and to test its ability on some of my favourite riding roads. Also to test it on trails I had been reluctant on which to ride the mighty breva.

The Steinbock handled the beautiful roads of the Coffs Coast area of NSW with aplomb taking the beautiful Waterfall Way and its surrounding roads in its stride. AA full tick of approval indeed

But the real test was the Armidale to Kempsey back road that included 127 km of varying road surfaces through national parks and beautiful farming land. (see map above)

What a ride! I also became very aware of how tiring riding on trails iy is compares to road riding.

In the highlands south west of Kempsey are the beautiful Ellenborough Falls. The longest single drop falls in NSW

From to falls east there is there is the Flying Fox Refuge in Wingham on the Manning River

Not far from the coast and its beautiful beaches

The Motorcycle Museum at Nabiac is emblematic of the biker culture in this part Australia

And a travelling piecemeal adventurer can find like souls – lovers of bikes and boats

The test was complete and the ride back to Melbourne was direct and purposeful

As I write Melbourne and Victoria are in a circuit breaking lockdown.

Hopefully, these actions curtail the current outbreak of Covid 19 and I will soon be on my adventure to Central Australia via the Oodnadatta Track.

Stay tuned for updates!

Lockdown Reflections 12 – Agra, India

Agra is the home of marvels none greater than the Taj Mahal

In some ways it overwhelms the other significant sites of Agra

So lets save it for last and start with the Tomb of Akbar

Akbar the Great led a huge expansion of the Mughal Empire and built both its military and economic strength.

Akbar arguably took the Mughal Dynnasty from Warlords to Emperors ruling over lands from Uzbekistan in north and well into southern India in the south and to Bangladesh in the east.

Coming by road from New Delhi to Agra the Tomb of Akbar is the significant monument you will come to first as you enter Agra

The Red Fort or Agra fort was the residence of the Mughal Dynasty

The Fort is better described as a walled city given its huge size

But the huge fortifications are definitely fort like

Inside the fortifications the remains of the sumptuous apartments give an indication of the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by the Emporors who resided here

The Fort became a prison for one emporor Shah Jahan, who had commissioned the Taj Mahal, the tribute to his wife who had died.

While the Emperor was ill his youngest son seized power, imprisoning Shah Jahan, in a wing of the fort

From where he could peer out at the tribute to the love of his life and mother of his captor

The Taj Mahal – the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of Shah Jahan.

As you walk through the entrance gates you can not be taken by the beauty of the Taj Mahal

I’m sure Ive read it is the most beautiful building in the world and from my first sight I can not fault that claim

From afar

From every angle it is truly an awe inspiring building

Up close the detail of the carving in the marble and the inlay work is breath taking

The view from the main deck of the Taj Mahal back to the main gate one surveys the opulence of the grounds.

And of course I could not help but admire the beautiful colours that are India

Lockdown Reflections 4 – Rift Valley Lakes, Ethiopia

Hippo in Lake Chamo

Lake Chamo

South of Addis Ababa, running down from Ethiopia’s central plateau is the Rift Valley

Near the city of Arba Minch is Lake Chamo the last of 8 lakes in the Rift Valley running south from Addis Ababa.

From points in Abar Minch you can look over Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya

Abar Minch is a great stepping off point to explore the tribal south of Ethiopia and the Bale mountains.

But a boat ride on Lake Chamo is a must before heading south.

To see the Nile Crocodile nursery

To see the African Pelicans. These birds migrate up into the Danube Delta in Romania for the European summer (see Danube Delta blog under Romania in the menu).

See the fishermen casting for Nile Perch just around the corner from the crocodile nursery

Till the sun starts to set on the beautiful lake.

Lake Awasa

Awassa and its lake are approximately 290 km south of Addis Ababa and a well serviced tourist destination.

At a bit over 1,700 meters above sea level Awasa retains the mild temperatures that are a feature of Ethiopia’s Central Plateau.

The colourful fishing boats and fish market is an attraction of Lake Awasa

As is the wild life in particular the Marabou Stalk, particularly in and around the fish market (see above)

But also:

Sea Eagles

King Fishers large and small,

Jacana and

Colobus monkeys on the lake shoreline.

The area around Awasa is very productive

With abundant fresh fruits

And lots of coffee being grown dried and sorted in the region.

Because Ethiopia is the home of coffee.

The Awasa Valley is also where Lucy the skeletal remains of a 3.2 million year old hominin were found.

The reconstructed skeleton of Lucy is on display in the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia is an amazing country. One of a handful of countries never to be colonised by a European power. (Though there has been significant European presence and influence).

Unfortunately political tensions have again arisen which hopefully be resolved.

I leave my lockdown reflections of Ethiopia now.

Next reflections in Africa will be in Kenya and the amazing wildlife there.

For those wanting to find out more about Ethiopia I recommend the above book amazing research text and images.

Lockdown Reflections 3 – Ethiopia’s Tribal South

The Omo River valley is the centre of the tribal area of Ethiopia

The south east of Ethiopia near where the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan meet is home to a group of mainly nomadic tribes

It is largely a very traditional part of Ethiopia with numerous tribes, mainly nomadic, living in the highlands and valleys surrounding the Omo River

If visiting the part of the Ethiopia the South Omo Research Centre Museum, Which is a German/Ethiopian collaboration provides awonderful introduction to the tribes and their cultures in the Region

Outside the museum

Not far from Jinka along one of the dirt roads that connect villages

Roads which the walking paths through the landscape

Is the small market village of K’ey Afer which on market day is abuzz with colour and activity

Selling spices and earthenware

And cattle and sheep

K’ey Afer is n the Hamar tribal area

Each tribe is distinctive in clothing hairstyle and custom. Some tribes are less welcoming to tourists that others.

Like all traditional cultures though there is a challenge to of maintaining custom in the face of western society encroachment

Up in the mountains

Is the land of the Mursi, a warrior tribe and visiting without prior approval is not advised

The Omo River winds its south toward Lake Turkana which is the largest permanent desert lake and largest alkaline lake in the world.

This southern part of Ethiopia is very hot, dry and dusty a significant contrast to the cool moistness of the central plateau.

This is Dassanetch country and these nomadic herders land has traditionally spanned the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan

The simple housing reflective of the nomadic existence of the Dassanetch

There are over a dozen tribes in the South Omo Zone

Others include the Borani, Banna Surmu and others

All culturally and physical distinctive in their own ways.

It is nearly 13 years since visiting this part of Ethiopia and even then the tribal life here was under threat. – Like traditional life in all continents.

Since this time the Omo River has been dammed and resettlement from the more populous parts of Ethiopia into this Zone has accelerated.

All this presents a survival challenge for these traditional tribes , their culture and way of life

Flag etiquette and Respect on Australia Day

Flags at Hobsons Bay Yacht Club

Flags are the traditional way of ship comminication

The flags tell a message of respect.

The club burgee at top of the mast says the ship is from Hobsons Bay Yacht Club

The Australian flag from the back stay identifies an Australian ship

The courtesy flag is a sign of respect to the country you are in.

The flying of the aboriginal flag from the cross trees says we are in aboriginal country.

Three flags can give a simple but true message.