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.

Dreaming of Bunjil the Eagle and all eagles

Dreaming of Bunjil the Eagle and all eagles

The panorama from the Bunjil lookout at Maude north of Geelong takes in a valley in the Barabool Hills where the Moorabool river has cuts its path

Bunjil the Eagle is the dream time creator of the lands and the people that traditionally inhabited the land now known as Victoria Australia

Bunjil is depicted as a Wedge Tailed Eagle, Australia’s largest bird of prey

A majestic bird in flight

The lookout Bunjil Lookout is shaped like an eagle its powerful bill in front and the huge wingspan behind

Many decades ago the air over the Barabool hills would be full of soaring wedge tailed eagles but after years of European settlement the great bird is listed ad threatened in Australia

I parked my Moto Guzzi in front of the look out

The emblem of Moto Guzzi is the eagle, a mythical eagle inspired possibly by the Golden Eagles that live in the mountains that surround Lake Como, the home of Moto Guzzi.

And looking at the two emblems together I could not help but think of how eagles have inspired us through the ages from the Dreamtime of the oldest culture on earth to the modern machine age

And despite this inspiration, this fascination the awe which these mighty birds install in us

We don’t treasure them, but have hunted eagles over centuries, destroyed their habitat and threatened the beautiful birds that are so inspirational.

The old gold mining town of Steiglitz is an interesting stop to look at an old settlement village

And in contrast to the indigenous names of Barabool and Morrabool the is the sister villages of Maude, Meredith and Elaine the run from south to north through the hills.

A stop in Geelong for a coffee and the view over the bay that was created in the dreamtime by Bunjil the Eagle.

On the Umbrial Pass in the Stelvio Region of the Italian Alps

There is a memorial to the to the Italian Aviators of WW1

And at the crown of the monument is the Golden Eagle in flight

Carlo Guzzi and his co-founders of Moto Guzzi were veterans of the Italian WW1 airforce.

And maybe that is their affinity with the eagle and how it found its way to being the emblem of the Moto Guzzi motorcycle.

Lockdown Reflections 12 – Agra, India

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 11 – Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Lockdown Reflections 11 – Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

The Water Palace, Jaipur

I have seen so little of the wonderful country that is India

A country so diverse, and full of contradiction and colur

I think the its the colours in India that stay with me as the most remarkable memories.

Join me as I reflect on the my small taste of India during the next few posts

Starting with Jaipur, the pink city, the capital Rajasthan

The colourful chalk drawings on the elephants in the streets

The ocre and pink tinged buildings that lend the city its name

And the amazing palaces, the Water Palace (top of page)

The amazing Wind Palace

The Maharaja (or City) Palace where the Maharaja still resides

I was most impressed though by the Yellow Fort.

Especially is you take the elephant ride to the main entry to the palace.

Then while winding through the rooms and alleyways of the Palace

There are special treats awaiting

Like snake charmers

With such a burst of colour

Of course a trip to Jaipur would not be complete without a Rajisthani feast – Vegetarian of course

A meal fit for the Maharaj!

Lockdown Reflections 6 – The Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya , the Masai

Lockdown Reflections 6 – The Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya , the Masai

The Masai Mara richly deserves its reputation as one of the great natural reserves in the world

Here one finds the living culture of the Masai people,

The amazing landscape of the the norther Serengeti Plane, and

Most notable the array of unique and amazing African wild life

The Masai are reputed to be warrior tribe but traditionally they have been primarily nomadic pastoralists roaming the grassy planes of what was once known as Masailand.

These days like many of the tribes in North East Africa the Masai way of life is in a battle to adapt to evolving life in Africa.

The nomadic life is more constrained due to population, land use and the desire to remain close to schools and education for the next generation.

Over the next few posts I will look at the amazing wild like of the Masaimara,

Lockdown Reflections 4 – Rift Valley Lakes, Ethiopia

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.

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.

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 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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

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Maldon in the Central Goldfields of Victoria, Australia

Maldon in the Central Goldfields of Victoria, Australia

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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

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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!