Heading to Spain and Morocco

It’s a calm crossing from Portsmouth around Brittany and across the Bay of Biscay to Santander in Spain.

Phase 2 of the long haul of flying from Melbourne to London (phase 1) to collect my Moto Guzzi Breva 1100 and ride to Morocco.

Stopped for a pint at the Ship and Castle next to the ferry terminal before joining the queue to board. There were plenty of bikes doing the crossing but only one Moto Guzzi.

My sister lives in London and it was wonderful to spend some time with her before embarking on this adventure.

Visiting the lovely little Lyric Theatre in Hanger Lane to see a play.

And heading to the south of England to go walking along the Avon River

And in the New Forrest

Next stop Spain!

It’s all packed up and time to Go Go Go!!!

It’s my last day in Melbourne before I fly out to the Northern Hemisphere

First time in a couple of years, 2020 when I was locked down in Spain and the UK

I took the mighty Breva for a little ride to warm up the oil before it went into hibernation.

I have to admit late April and almost summer weather in Melbourne

Almost made my question my decision to leave ALMOST

But I did get a last swim in for the season

There is an method to storing motorbikes

Both bikes got a good wash, petrol stabiliser in the tanks to ensure the fuel doesn’t go off and over inflating the tyres to ensure no flat spots. Then there is hooking the batteries up to chargers so they are not dead when I return in 6 months or so.

My dear biker friends if you haven’t got a lift table to work on your bike do!!!

No more laying on the concrete to get to the sump plug or trying to get the oild tray around the centre stand. Agh Bliss.

So my Melbourne bike fleet is all packed away and my Northern Hemisphere Breva is serviced and ready for its next adventure.

There is always something quirky in a blokes garage.

Mine is a clinker rowing boat I built back in my sailing days.

The bow seat makes a great hanging space for my riding gear.

It’s a long haul flight from Melbourne to London.

And by the time I got to London the full planes on the flight left me in no doubt that long distance air travel was back following the pandemic.

It is two years to the day that I left London at the first of the covid 19 onslaught on a repatriation flight back to Australia.

It’s time to recommence the journey I was on then when I was locked down in Spain on my way to Morocco.

It’s spring here and the flowers in the local park add colour to the day.

And the familiar sites of London, the old Red telephone boxes and the red double decker buses are there.

In a couple of days I pick up the mighty Breva ii and make make final preparations to catch the ferry to Spain late next week.

So yes cautiously international adventures are back.

So let’s raise our glasses and have a drink to that.

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.

Fremantle and finding the convict streak in me

There were around 167,000 convicts transported to Australia from the UK and now Republic of Ireland

My Great Grandfather and his brother were two of them.

Driven by the horrors and starvation of the Irish Famine, they resorted to stealing cattle and were sentenced to transportation to Australia for 10 years.

They arrived by ship in Fremantle in 1853 after a long and torturous voyage.

The gates of Fremantle Gaol greeted them. Built by convict slave labour to incarcerate convicts. Its a World Heritage Site along other buildings built by convict labour.

So I thought I should visit the spirit of my forebears

A wing of the old Fremantle Gaol has been turned into hostel accomodation. I booked a cell.

A double cell in fact as the wall between every second cell was knocked out to allow enough room to fit a modern single bed in.

So did my spirit mingle with my Great grand father’s? Well I don’t know but thoughts of him and his story of marrying and moving east as a frontier pioneer have certainly permeated my mind. Since I was in Fremantle.

The Round House a prison fort was the first public building in the new Swan River Settlement later to become Perth.

The Fremantle Gaol soon followed as a major public building.

Fremantle is now a major port city of many beautiful historic building

But in 1853 the sight would have been very different for the 309 convicts who arrived with my Great grandfather.

After 110 days sailing from England on a putrid sailing vessel, where 10 convicts had died on voyage, the land that greeted them was dry brown and barren compared to Ireland.

But their home had been gripped with famine since 1845. During ‘The Famine’ its estimated 1 million Irish people died from hunger or disease related to malnutrition and another 1 million migrated to America, Australia and other destinations to escape starvation and British brutality.

For some of the convicts, the sight of the Australian landscape must have been frightening for others a lucky escape from a desperate life.

Their ship arrived in September, the start of Spring in Australia but where they came from the start of Autumn and the cold wet months of Winter. Did they even know that the next months would be hot and dry. Hotter than they had ever experienced.

My Great grandfather was convicted at the age of 20. Since 15 he had only known hunger. After being imprisoned for two years he was transported and at 22 he landed in the Great Southern Land.

So dear friends and followers now that I’m back in Melbourne and can publish from a laptop rather than a smartphone. I will take you, in the next few posts, from Fremantle on the trek of an Irish/ Australian convict pioneer as he and his family moved east with the expanding frontier of the Western Australian Colony in the second half of the 1800s.

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.