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!

Time to test and set up the new bike – 2

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!

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.

Hitting the road on the Mighty Breva as Australia is close to Covid 19 free

Hitting the road on the Mighty Breva as Australia is close to Covid 19 free

The internal borders on the eastern seaboard of Australia finally started to open as the community transmission of Covid 19 is eliminated.

It was time to load up the mighty Moto Guzzi Breva and hit the road.

Time to visit dear friends interstate that I hadn’t seen a long while

First stop was the lovely old town of Carcoar,and the lovely camping spot on the banks of the dam

From Lithgow through to Singleton the Bell Line of Road and the Putty Road is a spectacular ride across the top of the Blue Mountains.

The Blue Mountains were badly burnt in the terrible Australian bushfires last summer, but it was great to see some regeneration.

Off the Blue Mountains it was the backroads to the beautiful Pacific coastline north of Sydney.

Rattling over the old timber bridges that are distinctive part of the NSW backroads.

On the way from the mountains to the coast.

On the northern NSW coast mountains and the sea come together and on a hot summer day there is the ocean or a run up the Waterfall Way for a freshwater dip.

To Dangar falls in Dorrigo.

A route enjoyed by many beautiful bikes.

And at the bottom of the Waterfall Way is Urunga.

Where the Kalang River flows into the Pacific Ocean.

And the big old hotel offers a cold beer, a comfy room and a good meal.

Melbourne Lockdown Reflections 13 (the last)- New Delhi

Melbourne Lockdown Reflections 13 (the last)- New Delhi

Arriving in New Delhi on 1 December 2008 for a first visit to India was more chaotic that was to be expected.

It was only 5 days after the the 2008 Mumbai Attacks, which when added to the massive construction program, that was being undertaken for the 2010 Commonwealth Games there was a special craziness in the city and its people.

I wondered if seeing Shiva the Destroyer looming over the city was a strange omen.

There was a level of wariness as well

Evidenced in the usually bustling Koral Bagh area of the city where most of the shops were shuttered and only a few street vendors were plying their trade.

The heavy smog and often frantic foot, car and tuk tuk trafic made photography a real challenge.

As did the heavy military presence at this time.

Like many capital cities New Dehli in its architecture give hints of the history of the country.

From the Minaret at the old fort from the time of the Mughal Empire from the long period of the Mughal domination.

The British Colonial, Presidents Palace and Arch of Triumph, from the high period of British colonialism

But most impresive

Was the understated Mahatma Gandhi memorial or Raj Ghat

A quiet and peaceful place is a busy noisy city.

A place emblematic of India as an independent nation.

Today is the last day of the Melbourne lockdown.

Over 4 months of restricted movement, stay of home orders and not seeing friends and family.

With now 9 days straight of zero infections and zero deaths from Covid 19 the restrictions are eased and the lockdown of the City of Melbourne finished

So the Mighty Breva has been serviced and loaded and ready for a weeks adventure in country Victoria

Along the coast, over the mountains and along the by ways.

Stay tuned!!!!

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 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!

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

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

 

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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

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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

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

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The Simiens have unique flora and fauna

Such as the Giant Lobelia

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

And if you look closely a Walia Ibex

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It was a three night trek through the Simiens

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Camping in the Alps

Amazing sunsets and the high plateau

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

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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

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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

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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

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The Spoonbill

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The Egret

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Apollo Bay to Port Campbell on the Great Ocean Road

Apollo Bay to Port Campbell on the Great Ocean Road

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Apollo Bay Fishing Harbour

To get to Apollo Bay there is the route along the eastern part of the Great Ocean Road or

The Road over the Otway Ranges from Forest

After travelling via Anglesea and Lorne last week this time it was over the Otways.

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Tucked between the Otway Ranges and the sea Apollo Bay remains one of my favourite places to visit and to stay.

From Apollo Bay heading west along the Great Ocean Road in the midst of the Otway National Park is the turn off to Cape Otway and its impressive light house proud upon the steep cliffs of the Cape.

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A beacon for shipping on Victoria’s Shipwreck Coast

Past Cape Otway the landscape and the road changes.

East of Cape Otway the road is narrower often clinging to the cliff face and the corners tighter, with patches of dense rainforest.

The sandy surf beaches nestled between rocky headlands like Lorne, Wye River and Apollo Bay

West of the Cape the road evens out more sweeping curves than tight corners, the land an open plateau across the top or the windblown cliffs with offshore the rocky monuments carved by the prevailing wind and sea.

From Port Campbell the view back along the sandstone cliffs toward Cape Otway in the late afternoon light is a sight one never tires of.

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The Great Ocean Road continues onto Warrnambool from Port Campbell, but my route took me north through the coastal hills and farming land to historic Camperdown

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And its famous clock tower.

Then road back to Melbourne.

It is so wonderful to be able to do this ride again free of traffic like it used to be 40 years ago, when sections of the road through the forest was still gravel and tourist coaches had not been invented.

The lockdown provisions in Victoria still preclude staying away overnight.  All the hotels and camping grounds are still closed.  It was nearly a 10 hour trip by the time I got home in the cold and the dark but what a ride and how good to be free!