The mountains and the sea in South East Australia. – part – 1 The Mountains

The south east corner of Australia is the cold place

The snow place

The icy Southern Ocean place

It’s been my place for many years.

There is an arc of mountains that follows the curve of the land almost parallel with the coast.

Th.e Australian Alps

The sandy yellow coastline

The deep Southern Ocean

All in a sweeping curve of nature.

At the top of the Australian Alps is the Kosciuszko National Park

The Park is one of my favourite places

To ride

To walk

To bath in the icy streams

Or thermal pools

My favourite camp spots are out on the Long Plain

Ghost Gully is my favourite camp site as it’s surrounded by the beautiful Ghost Gums.

The Aboriginal people say if you listen closely, when there is a breeze you can her the whispers of the ancestors.

It’s a place where I have rarely failed to meet an interesting character.

Louis is 79 and Ace his Palamino a big 15 hands tall.

Louis finds the big 16 and 17 hand horses a bit of a stretch now. So Ace is his companion.

Louis is a horse whisperer and been breaking and training horses since he was 15.

He attracted this mob of wild horses over to the camp.

He was getting the wild horses comfortable with him with the aim of capturing the foal, a young colt, to break and find a home for.

The horses are feral in the Alps and are displacing many native animals. It’s a contentious issue between horse lovers and those wanting to preserve Australia’s unique fauna.

Although it was autumn the wild flowers provided colour.

Toward the end of the Long Plain is Blue Water Holes, a series of high gorges and mountain streams.

At over 1200 metres altitude let me assure you the waterholes offer a bracing dip.

A far more comfortable swim can be found on the other side of the Snowy Mountain Highway at the Yarrangobilly thermal pool.

A beautiful 24c natural thermal pool and spa in the middle of the bush.

Down from the high altitudes in the low swampy plains the bush is thicker and kangaroos and other native animals abound.

From Kosciuszko National Park the Alps run West. Mt Donna Buang in the Yarra Ranges on the eastern edge of Melbourne is the last peak in the Alps.

It doesn’t get much snow these days. Unlike most of the other mountains it has not been burnt by bushfire and has beautiful tiers of rainforest topped by snow gums.

The pinkish trunks of the snow gums are both unique and beautiful.

And in the valley below are waterfalls and swimming holes in the mountain rivers.

Some of my most memorable times in nature have been in these mountains.

Nitmiluk National Park 4 -some final observations

The Cutta Cutta caves limestone caves may not the most colourful but are an amazing insight to the forming of the artesian springs in the Northern Territory.

In the wet season this cave and others like it act as funnels collecting the monsoonal rains to flow through the limestone and into the artesian basin.

The water heats up and flows out at thermal springs at Mataranka and Katherine.

The sunset over the Katherine with the bats taking off into the night ( look closely at the photo just above)

The birdlife is abundant but at Edith Falls there was something special.

This Great Bower Bird singing his full repertoire of songs. (The Great Bower Birds are amazing at mimicking sounds which they include in the songs. Other birds calls, engines starting, towels fluttering are all included.)

His singing was successful as he seduced this female into his carefully constructed Bower.

How wondrous is nature.

Goldfield towns of the Savannah Way

I’m staying at the Club Hotel in Croyden as I write

Indulging in a cold beer in the lush green beer garden.

But I’ve jumped too far ahead.

The discovery of gold was important in bringing colonial development to this remote part of Australia.

After leaving Einasleigh my next stop was Forsayth.

Built as a mining town its now a tourist destination with the Savannahlander train running to Forsayth from Cairns.

I could even find an espresso and hummingbird cake. Rare in the outback and a treat for a city boy piecemeal adventurer.

Georgetown is home to Ted Elliot Mineral Collection.

An amazing collection of fossils, gemstones, petrified and fossilised wood and minerals of all types.

Georgetown also has samples the distinctive Queensland outback buildings.

Croydon was very successful gold mining centre so successful special train line built from the port town of Normanton. Now jokingly called the train from nowhere to nowhere the Gulflander is a tourist ride.

Croydon’s Historic Precinct contains a number of official building from the height of the 1870s gold rush.

The road to Einasleigh and Forsayth are off the main Savannah Way so include some unsealed roads till Georgetown.

The travelling is beautiful

Through savannah woodlands,

Across river causeways, where the rivers roaring floods in the tropical wet season is reduced to a feeble flow.

But still hold water in lagoons full of water lillies and birds.

And one can see a magpie goose on the wing

On the way to Croydon the Steinbock clocked over 22,000km since I purchased it in January this year. It’s been a crazy 6 months of travel.

The poster girl

Next the landscape changes again. The Gulf Country – the Gulf of Carpentaria. The rivers are big estuaries full of big salt water crocodiles. Normanton, on the croc infested Norman River is my next stop.

The Pacific Ocean Beaches of Northern NSW

The ocean beaches of Northern NSW are the most beautiful I have seen.

The broad sweep of sand

The rolling blue ocean

Town beaches like Byron Bay (above) and Yamba (below)

The beautiful lighthouses on the capes

Sentinels for the sailors as sea.

But its the quiet,

The wild

The largely deserted

The hard to get to beaches on the coast that I love

Beaches like…

Ah you have to search for your own tranquillity!!!!

Where the surf pounds in

And the you can stand alone on the sandy beaches.

Image by Clare Rynhart

With a sea eagle circling overhead as a companion.

Set up the little tent

And at night be bedazzled by the Milky Way.

But the Pacific isn’t always peaceful

It doesn’t always contain its power

The a big swell expoding against the south wall at Coff Harbour a testament to the power of the sea.

It was beautiful spending the last of a mild Autumn on the NSW North Coast.

But the southern hemisphere winter is here and the temperatures are falling.

I’m sitting with my friend in South East Queensland

Tomorrow its time to head back north to the tropics.

Towards the start of the Savannah Way and the ride across the tropical North of Australia.

There is something about being all at sea

The phrase ‘all at sea’

Comes from a time past, where ship navigation was much less certain

No GPS or accurate weather forecasts

I learnt to sail in the pre GPS days

In days of dead reckoning, bearing compases, cocked hats, noon sights, star sights and sextant

And you best friend was a lighthouse

At the entrance to ports, like the Point Lonsdale Light at the entrance to Port Phillip

Or looming large over dangerous headlands

Like at Cape Liptrap

Or at Cape Schank

While at sea

Companions at sea are the sea birds, terns, shearwaters and gannets

And of course the playful dolphins

Then finding that safe harbour

Or the sheltered cove

Birds Rocks Anchorage, Waratah Bay, Victoria Australia

Its good to be all at sea again.