Sailing Ships upon the Sea

Sailing Ships upon the Sea

1988 Hobart to Sydney Tall Ship Race

There is a certain romanticism of billowing sails carrying great ships across the sea

Distant shores unexplored

Harnessing the power of the wind

The power to cross vast oceans

The clouds of billowing sails

Masts reaching for the sky.

Ships from all parts of the world

Oman and the exotic east

The new world of the Americas

The old continents of Europe and Africa

These sailing giants covered the globe

As a young man I read and read Joseph Conrad and dreamt of the sea

My mind full of imaginary adventures in distant and exotic ports

The exotic ports of the trade winds in Lord Jim

The loneliness of being at sea and the weight of command in The Secret Sharer

The power of the weather and the sea in Typhoon

To be amongst the tall ships and the sailing tales of the crew

To sail away

Tech Note

These images were captured during the 1988 Hobart to Sydney Tall Ship Race on colour transparencies. I have rephotographed these with my digital camera using an Emora slide copier extension tube attached to the my camera lens.

Lockdown Reflections 2 – The Historic North of Ethiopia

Lockdown Reflections 2 – The Historic North of Ethiopia

Traditional Amhara music on the shores of Lake Tana, Bahir Dar

The capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa sits pretty much in the centre of Ethiopia.

Addis Ababa (New Flower in English) was created as the capital by King Menelik II, the creator of modern Ethiopia, in 1886

North of Addis Ababa to the Eritrean border and to the Danakil Depression is termed the Historical North

It is the area which has most interaction with European culture and hence a region that is significantly Christian with cities that formed as their capitals.

It is also where we find Aksum the centre of the Kingdom of Aksum with a history reaching back to 4 BC

Ethiopian history extends from the Iron Age to Rastafarianism and beyond to much for this blog but worth a exploration.

Aksum

The Stelae of Axum are monuments to past Kings of Aksum the largest and most impressive from the 3rd and 4th century AD.

Some of the simpler Stelae are older

A short drive from Aksum is Yeha

The Lion of Yeha providing an geological marker

The remains of the Temple of Yeha is Ethiopia’s oldest standing structure. Estimated to be built in 700 BC

In the nearby monastery there are relics from Pagan times reflecting times when The Ibex and the sun and moon were sacred

And beautifully illustrated Christian manuscripts

Lalibella

Lalibella is a medieval city famous for its rock hewn churches built around the 12th century by the then King Lalibella.

There are 11 rock hewn churches in Lalibella

The most famous of which is the Church of St George (below)

The churches are also noted for their rock star clergy

Aksum and Lallibella are considered the most holy sites in Ethiopia and both are UNESCO world heritage listed and as such are the highlights of the Historic North of Ethiopia

Gondar is the stepping off city to explore the Simien Mountains and has its own treasures – in churches

and in the Castle

Bahar Dar is rounds out the main stops in the Historic North

With the beautiful Lake Tana which is the source of the Blue Nile

These are reflections of years past travelling in my mind during the Covid -19 lockdown in Melbourne

Reflective travelling in my mind!

LOCKDOWN Melbourne, Australia -finding the place within.

LOCKDOWN Melbourne, Australia -finding the place within.

Jawbone marine reserve, Williamstown

In many ways a severe COVID-19 lockdown is about finding oneself

In ones own environ

Reconnecting and finding peace within

I grew up 5 or 6 km from where I live now

We were A Bunch of Ratbags

Back in the rough industrial suburb of Footscray 

And as a kid I ride my bicycle to the City of Williamstown

To look across at the City of Melbourne and dream.

oi000617

Walk along the old piers looking at the boats and dreaming of adventures in distant lands

oi000609

Now this area is my home and Im back from adventures in distant lands

And am again cycling by the waterside, sometimes dreaming and often appreciating the beauty of the place

dsc_0022_6

The mighty ships coming up the Yarra River to port the ever present reminder of modern industry

So different  to the time when the ball on the Time Ball Tower was raised and lowered so the waiting ships could set their chronometers.

oi000600

Riding along the trail over the weeks of the restrictions I see and experience the moods of the slowly changing hours, weeks and months

20200716_162711-collage

Lost in the winter fogs

dsc_0003_13

Feeling stranded like the boat at low tide

dsc_0028_3dsc_0033

Rejoicing in the joy of a clear winters day the bear cloudless sky reflected in the still waters of the creek estuaries

20200616_152807-collage

Clear but cold with the beach all but empty apart from some hardy souls walking on the sand or buying a hot coffee.

dsc_0013

Sometimes having to ride home hard in the cold chill of a waning day

The trail I ride is about 15km its like a meditation as my legs move to the rhythm of the trail.

The same trail but everyday different.

Lost in the place and its beauty.

Travel Vaccines and reflections of Africa – The Simien and Bale Mountains, Ethiopia

Travel Vaccines and reflections of Africa – The Simien and Bale Mountains, Ethiopia

 

dsc_0032

If you have travelled to Africa it is most likely you would have been required to have a yellow fever vaccination – still required in many countries

I got my Yellow Card, proof of vaccination 20 years ago on my first trip to the African Continent.

Being in the Melbourne, Australia COVID 19 lockdown it is a good chance to reflect on the need for vaccination and travel and the relationship between the two.

The Simien Mountains

gosi116

The Simien Mountains are a World Heritage alpine area in the North of Ethiopia

Its also called the water tower of East Africa providing the source for the Blue Nile

The Blue Nile provides 80% of the water that reaches Egypt, flowing through Sudan where it meets with the White Nile to form the Nile River

 

With peaks up to 4,550 metres within the vast sprawling alpine range

gosi141gosi104gosi105gosi129gosi130gosi134

A range of deep gorges, rugged peaks and waterfalls plummeting thousands of metres

gosi109

The Simiens have unique flora and fauna

Such as the Giant Lobelia

gosi145gosi138

The endemic Gelada (or bleeding heart baboon) and Olive baboons

And if you look closely a Walia Ibex

gosi137 (2)

It was a three night trek through the Simiens

gosi143

Camping in the Alps

Amazing sunsets and the high plateau

gosi113

And watching the moon rise over the cliff tops from the gorges

gosi147

The Bale Mountains

The Simien Mountains are in the North East of Ethiopia and the Bale Mountains in the South East

Almost bookends at each end of the Ethiopian Central Highlands

The Simiens in the Amhara Region and the Bale in the Oromia Region

The Bale Mountains are drier less dramatic that the northern bookend

These mountains are the catchment for the Jubba River system

Which flows across Ethiopia and Somalia to the Indian Ocean

The Bale Mountains are more easily accessed than the Simiens

Far better for catching sightings of the Ethiopian Wolf

And the amazing bird life

Ethiopia-Thailand Album285Ethiopia-Thailand Album286Ethiopia-Thailand Album287

Also In the Bale Provence toward the Somalian Border is are the Sof Omar Caves

Its well over a decade since I travelled in these mountains with my family.

And yes a vaccine for Yellow Fever was compulsory

Maybe compulsory vaccinations will be more widespread for travellers in the future given COVID-19

Though my wings have been clipped birds of a feather flock together

Though my wings have been clipped birds of a feather flock together

20200716_162711-collage

It was 2015 that I spent a full winter in Melbourne,

Australia’s southernmost mainland capital

Renowned for its cold and changable winter weather

Cold and foggy mornings lasting till noon when the weak winter sun burns the mist away.

Four seasons in one day

Was surely written about Melbourne’s weather by Crowded House

The current lockdown restricts me to my environs and luckily the local waterways

The bicycle has most of the time replaced the Moto Guzzi

So on my ride I flock together with the local waterbirds

oi000580-1

The Spoonbill

oi000576

The Egret

oi000579

And the hungry Pelican

They aren’t locked down but choose to enjoy what winter offers

Across town there is the beautiful Yarra Bend Park

With its early 1900’s boat house

oi000583

On the banks of the Yarra River with paths to meander along

And the Cootamundara, a beautiful winter flowering tree in full bloom

The park is on the city doorstep with beautiful views of the city

dsc_0003

dsc_0004

Which makes a beautiful backdrop for my Aprilia Pegaso – my fave bike around the city

At the end of a day heading across the town and home

The St Kilda Pier runs west into the Hobsons Bay and offers spectacular views of the sunset

oi000598-effects

oi000603

oi000602-effects

Though the lock down is is hard the rules allow the opportunity to get out to exercise

That means I can revisit and appreciate some of my favourite places in my home city.

Hopefully one day soon fellow travellers you can as well.

Not Travelling in the time of Coronavirus- Melbourne lock down clips my wings

Not Travelling in the time of Coronavirus- Melbourne lock down clips my wings

The second Melbourne, Australia lock down has just been implemented

After being in and out of lock downs in Spain and England and quarantine in a Melbourne Hotel, this second lockdown in Melbourne has finally anchored me.

 

Famous landmarks of the usually bustling city cast with an almost ghostly quietness

Even the usually bustling Victoria Market with its colourful displays of produce, like the life has been sucked out of its ancient stalls and sheds

 

No queuing four deep at my favourite stall

Chance meeting with someone I hadn’t seen for a while

Little is left to chance in the time of coronavirus

At the eastern end of the city

The Monuments, the Shrine of Remembrance  and the Old Observatory along with Gardens and the floral clock stand alone

 

In the lanes and alleyways of the inner city

Usually vibrant

The graffiti almost mocks the quiet desolation

 

The next 6 weeks (the length of this lockdown) will be a time and thought of what has been and what will be.

Something different to share over the coming weeks.

The Great Ocean Road and this time the 12 Apostles

The Great Ocean Road and this time the 12 Apostles

The 12 Apostles are a group of sandstone islets of the coast of Victoria near Port Campbell

They are one of the highlight scenes along the Great Ocean Road, in Victoria, Australia

In my blog back in May I wrote of my last trip down this road.  It was the first days of  the Covid 19 lockdown easing of restrictions in Australia

I had just been released from Quarantine and keen to spreat my wings

The Great Ocean Road called but the lookouts to the 12 Apostles were closed

oi000571

Its deeper into winter now and the Great Ocean Road and the sea is battered by the winter storms

As restrictions have relaxed one has to pick a way through the traffic not just get lost in the road as it snakes along the cliff face

But the lookout is open and the majesty of this piece of coastline can be admired again

Just inland from here

There is the remnants of the logging history of the Otway Ranges

oi000575oi000572

oi000574

An old wooden trestle bridge at Timboon

Timboon once a a logging village now a dairy area

Famous for Timboon Cheese and Ice Cream

The Mighty Breva meets the Mighty Murray in North East Victoria

The Mighty Breva meets the Mighty Murray in North East Victoria

I had approached the Upper Murray from the long way around

Starting from Yarram in South Gippsland

20200621_170333-collage

A small town famous for its street murals.

Its winter and the high roads over Mt Hotham and Falls Creek are closed so it was the low road

Bruthen to eskdale

A pearler of a ride from Bruthen north to the little Village of Eskdale 223 km of curves and into the Upper Murray Region.

Has to be the greatest unrecognised rides in the world.

It was damp cold and at a pass through the Alpine National Park it was 1c and my mind turned to thoughts of black ice on the road.

A cabin waited for me at the Eskdale Caravan Park

oi000495

Welcome refuge after a long wet ride

A good night sleep and onto my next destination

The Great River Road starts at the bridge that connects Victoria and NSW at Hume Weir and follows the winding course of the Murray upstream to Khancoban at the base of the Kosciusko National Park.

The Road is around 180km of scenic windy road along the Murray River.

The views of the Murray are special especially if you take a bit of time and pull off into some of the river side reserves and camp grounds.

oi000509

The weather was cold but clear and not too bad for riding if you have the right gear.

But the joy of winter camping is campfires

20200626_143937-collage

As the Great River Road is developed as a tourist road the is are well layed out scenic  stops with interpretation on the river and pieces of sculpture

20200702_225004-collage

The camp facilities along the road are great quality. Especially at  Walwa where you can camp with great facilities and a campfire right on the banks of the river.

The road finishes at Lake Khancoban in NSW

oi000559-effects

The scars of the recent bushfires are there, both on the landscape and in the stories of the locals

But the land and the people are resilient and signs of renewal abound

oi000510

And of course there is something  very special about a winter sunset inland

oi000534

A bit of greenery and a lucky turn in the hinterland

A bit of greenery and a lucky turn in the hinterland

oi000411

It was a sunny clear still winters day

The air was crispy cold as I headed out of the city and into the rural hinterland of Melbourne

As I passed over the Murchison Gap  the rich green farming land was rolling out in front of me – a sight to see

The little back roads winding through the hills and farmland beckoning

But it was a holiday weekend and the roads were slowly filling, even the back roads were starting to bulge with caravans being towed by big SUVs.  Post the Covid 19 lockdown I think all Melbournites were keen to get out of the city.

After the lovely tourist town of Marysville I was heading for the Black Spur only to hit a long line of traffic

A sign to Warburton   a quick to the left and I was on a little road through the forest

oi000412

The road soon became a gravel track

oi000414

And I was in the tall trees and giant tree ferns of the  Yarra Ranges National Park

oi000417oi000416oi000415oi000413

The surface was a little damp and slippery in places

But no traffic just the smell of the bush and a through this beautiful piece of old growth forest

Such a lucky turn, a piece of serendipity on a little days ride.

Maldon in the Central Goldfields of Victoria, Australia

Maldon in the Central Goldfields of Victoria, Australia

oi000387

In many ways Maldon is the little town that stood still

Built in the 1860’s during the height of the Victorian Gold Rush

It remains largely unchanged

 

There is a lovely 2 hour ride to Maldon through the Central Highlands of Victoria

Past the farming and old logging towns of Greendale and Trentham

To the Spa centres of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs

The Hepburn – Newstead road is a little ripper

From Newstead perched on the Loddon River its a gentle curves and sweepers through scrubby bush to Maldon

And its Gold mining history of diggings and old gold processing building ruins

 

And like all good old country towns there is the little quirk

The little Triumph motorcycle shop.

Looking as old as the town and the Triumph Motorcycle itself

Not surprising as Maldon host the a major highlight of the annual All British Motorcycle rally

The ride from the Newstead Racecourse camp ground to Maldon

All-British-Rally-2014-11

One of my most memorable visits to Maldon was to see a round of the 2013 World Motorcycle Trials World Championships

Held on a specially designed course on the side of Mount Tarrengower

Which provides a beautiful view over Maldon

What a beautiful ride on a crisp winters day!