Goldfield towns of the Savannah Way

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 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

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.

A place that kept my spirit vibrant during the long Lockdown

A place that kept my spirit vibrant during the long Lockdown

At the end of my street is Newport Lakes

A 33 hectare urban forest created in the 1970’s from an old bluestone quarry

What a wonderful vision of the then Local Government Council to create this haven in what was then a very industrial suburb devoid of open space.

Only about 12 kilometres from the centre of Melbourne

The fate of the quarry was sealed when the digging hit an underground spring and the lake was formed.

Over the the four months of the Melbourne lockdown I have walked the trails of this urban forest.

Seen the changes as winter turned to spring and now as summer approaches.

The trees in blossom

The resident black swans with their cignets

The flock of Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos that came for winter and went back bush in the Spring. Unlike us terrestrial animals free to fly to and fro as they please.

The bird life by the lake is vibrant wattle birds, butcher birds all too quick for amateur wildlife photographer like me

But this little blue wren wasn’t shy and struck the perfect pose.

The hard bluestone walls that surround the lake loom large and bare the cracks from the many explosions that were used to extract the bluestone.

Those cracks now form handholds for climbers to practice their skills.

And in the rock faces there is the subtle marks of human presence

Mosaics of the birds in the park

And as the days got longer and warmer and summer is only an month or so away

The Blue Tongue Lizards come out to bask in the sun.

Walking in Newport Lakes and cycling on the Williamstown bay trail (posts here, here and here.) have made me appreciate my local space very much. How lucky I am to have access to these elements of nature in a big city.

After for months of lockdown in the City of Melbourne the restrictions that have kept Melbournians separate from the rural areas of the State will be lifted in a few days.

The Mighty Breva will roam again across the local countryside, on the coastal roads and over the windy mountain passes.

But before I sign off my local explorations

A pelican in flight a couple of evenings back down at the Koroit Creek estuary.

Lockdown reflections 7 – Birds in the Masai mara, Kenya

Lockdown reflections 7 – Birds in the Masai mara, Kenya

The Ostrich the largest bird in the world (followed by the Cassowary and Emu found in my home Australia)wanders the plains grassy planes of Africa including the Masai mara.

A flightless bird it sometimes crosses path with the Secretarybird

While a flighted bird it spends most of its time on the ground hunting. Unfortunately this unique bird is disappearing and is listed as vulnerable. The Secretarybird gets its name from the spikey head quills that are, I’m told, likened to the pencils that secretaries used to place behind their ear.

The Secretarybird has a featherless face and predators beak like a vulture.

The vultures featherless head and long featherless neck though is specially designed for this carrion eater.

But is was the colourful birds this I were one of the highlights of the Masai mara for me.

The brightly coloured Rollers.

And finally the most beautiful of all, the Crowned Crane.

Lockdown Reflections 5 – Lake Nakuru – Kenya

Lockdown Reflections 5 – Lake Nakuru – Kenya

Looking down from Baboon Cliff you can see why it is famous for its flamingos as the thick line of pink runs along the shoreline.

Lake Nakura sits in the south west of Kenya and is one of the many Rift Valley Lakes such as the Ethiopian lakes in my previous post.

But it’s when you get down to the lake edge that you really appreciate the beauty and number of the flamingos at Lake Nakuru.

Though the Flamingos are the main attraction as a RAMSAR site the birdlife is extensive. With:

Eagles

Marabou Stork

African Pelicans

And sitting by the Rhino’s ear the Oxpecker

The Oxpecker is the Rhino’s best mate. The bright eyed warning siren for the sleeping short sighted rhino. The Oxpecker keeps an eye out for the rhino’s predators as it feeds on the parasites in the Rhino’s hard hide.

The muddy shores of the lake is also a welcome home fpt Water Buffalo

In the forests surrounding the lake the are baboons;

Rothschild giraffes;

Waterbuck;

and cute little Deseys.

Lake Nakura is about 160km WNW of Nairobi.

This visit was over 15 years ago and from what I have read the park has been enlarged. It certainly a place that stays in one’s mind.