Riding through the Algave Region of Portugal

The Rio Guadiana forms the southern border between Spain and Portugal. These days there is a major bridge at the southern end of the river linking the two countries but for centuries travel by boat crossing the river between villages such as Alcoutim in Portugal and SanlĂșcar de Guadiana in Spain.

My friend Stephane has a house near the Rio Guadiana and has been a wonderful guide of the area. An area favoured by motocyclists and walkers alike.

For many years both Portugal and Spain were Authoritarian Countries with Dictators. Salazar in Portugal and Franco in Spain. In such an environment border smuggling flourished.

The movement of contraband across the border is celebrated along the Guadiana.

The beaches near Cacela Velha are wide, and sandy with clean cool water.

In land the rolling hills provide spectacular views. The cork trees covering them harvester every 8 years. Cork is truly a renewable resource. No tree is felled or damaged in its production. The oldest known cork tree is over 230 years old and still produces.

The small towns and villages along the coast and in the hills offer great sightseeing and wonderful little restaurants serving a variety of local Portuguese cuisine. Be adventurous cause there is more to Portuguese food than cataplana.

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.

Jewels in the South of Western Australia-Denmark and Esperence/Cape Le Grand

After months in the hot tropics of northern Australia and the arid dry coast of central Western Australia arriving in the cool damp southern parts of the state was a sharp change of environment.

The area was cool and moist with rain never far off and a swim in the Southern Ocean is nothing short of bracing.

The landscape around the river and lake is quite beautiful.

But for my the highlight was walking through the coastal forest of Black Butt, Paper Bark and Melaleuca trees.

With the colour of wildflowers and moss sprinkled through

Around 350km east of Denmark is the city of Esperance with the Cape Le Grand National Park near by.

The coast at Cape Le Grand is wild in natural beauty etched by the wind and water.

It’s the quartz in the granite rock formations that makes the sand the whitest in Australia.

In an environment like this I could not help but scale a peak

Or take a dip in the cold waters of the Southern Ocean.

Cape le Grand was such a peaceful beautiful place.

A mother kangaroo happy to show off her baby joey.

Maybe we should all pause a time and think about the beauty of the natural world because it is nature that sustains us.

Maybe can all stand up like the people of little Denmark did in the lead up the World Climate Change Conference and say We Can Do It by cherishing our natural world.

The wild flower trail of Western Australia

Moving inland from Kalbarri I hit the inland wild flower trail.

Wild flowers in Western Australia (WA) are unique and can be found from Kalbarri to Esperance. 1200km of colour! Some flowers and shrubs are unique to a region other more wide spread.

These wreath flowers, are regionally unique to the the northern section of the wildflower trail.

I found these wreath flowers in Perenjori.

Out near the rabbit proof fence made famous by the movie of the same name. A movie based on the plight of aboriginal children stolen from their families.

The Kangaroo Paw is another endemic plant of the state.

Then there are the native orchids, orchids with spidery antenae and other with thick petals like cow lips.

And oh the Banskia candles

Gevillia, daisies, lillies, colourful flowers in the scrub. I’ve taken hundreds of photos of these beautiful wild flowers that I could fill a hundred blogs.

Lost in their beauty as I travelled thousands of kilometres in many ways awe struck by these onders of nature.

So I will finish with a selection of nature colour.

Off the Tableland and onto the Savannah Way

Waterfalls, like the Millstream Falls are are true feature of the Atherton Tableland.

The falls lay between Ranenshoe

Queensland’s highest town and

Innot Hot Spring there are thermal waters in the creek or spa centre to ease an adventurers tired bones.

Past the Springs the land opens out to the savannah at 40 mile scrub.

Not for on I found a spring fed water hole for a cooling dip.

Before stopping at the little town of Mount Surprise.

An old gem stone fossicking town close by the Undara Volcanic National Park and its amazing Lava Tubes.

This is my second visit to the Lava Tubes. Back in 2015 returning from Cooktown I stayed at the Undara Resort. This time I chose the Bedrock Village at Mount Surprise.

The lava tubes are remnants from volcanic eruptions 190,000 years ago.

And are inhabited by little micro bats about the size of your thumb

The scale of the tubes can be seen here. Look for the guide in the bottom left hand corner.

The National Park is home to hundreds of extinct volcanoes.

The Kalkani Crater is accessible for walking.

With informative interpretation signs.

If you walk quietly you may see pretty faced wallabies

The beautiful Wonga Vine

And amazing views over the savannah.

As I write a new covid 19 outbreak has emerged in Australia and who knows how that will effect my travel plans across the continent.

One has to be flexible while travelling in the time of Covid 19.