Nepal – November 2019

Ever since our unforgettable trek in Nepal in 2009, Pete has been itching to return, but other events have prevented it. This year he was determined to make it happen. Kathy decided after Peru earlier this year that she had done her last trek, so Pete signed up to a group trek organised by World Expeditions. Kathy’s brother Stephan, plus a friend of his and the friend’s son, also came along, and they joined twelve others, from Australia, South Africa, Canada, the UK and Hong Kong. Ages ranged from 24 to 68 and experience levels ranged from very little to having summited Kilimanjaro!

The group chose the Gokyo Lakes/Renjo La Trek in the Khumbu (Everest) region of Nepal, rather than the more popular route to Everest Base Camp. They wanted to see the most magnificent mountains in the world, but not share the experience with hundreds of others, and also wanted to get a feel for what traditional life in Nepal is (or was) like. There are no roads here, so the journey began with a 14-seater flight into Lukla, generally regarded as the world’s most dangerous airstrip! They put their faith in the pilots, and were not disappointed. The landing, on a steeply upward sloping strip with a stone wall at the end, was particularly exciting.

The two week trek took them along the conventional Base Camp route to Namche Bazaar, but soon after that they branched out to the north and followed the Dudh Kosi River, leaving most of the other trekkers to continue up a different river. The views of Ama Dablam from here were an unforgettable highlight. They ascended over several days to Gokyo, at 4790 meters, where they stayed two nights in a lodge with frozen plumbing but fortunately a warm dining room, thanks to pot belly stoves burning yak dung. The next day was the longest, the eight-hour-plus trudge over the Renjo La (Pass) at 5360 metres (a new altitude record for Pete). The reward was a stunning view back down to Gokyo and its Lake, with the 36 kilometre Ngozumba Glacier behind, and, towering above, a line of Himalayan giants, including Everest, Lhotse and Makalu.

Descending from the Pass, they were in a landscape from another time, with rough stone huts and yak corrals the only sign of habitation, and very few other trekkers.

World Expeditions provided a great team of guides, cooks and porters and everyone enjoyed the permanent camps with roomy tents, comfortable mattresses, western toilets and heated dining rooms. The lodges used in some locations also provided good accommodation, with colourfully decorated and toasty warm common rooms for relaxing, dining and chatting. All of the party of 16 completed the trek, in some cases despite health setbacks, but without the need to turn back or be evacuated, which was a better record than other groups they encountered.

photo View the photos »

Posted on Monday December 16th, 2019, tagged with travel | 5 comments

Kangarutha Track – October, 2019

We had walked this track with the kids from Bournda campground many year ago and wanted to reacquaint ourselves with its wild coastal scenery. Somehow it felt a lot longer this time! Lots of ups and downs as we crossed the rocky headlands and descended through tea tree scrub to the coves and bays nestled between them. We encountered a huge goanna and an echidna, but were rather sobered by the dryness of the bush, desperately in need of some good soaking rain. It took us over four hours and we were rather glad to reach our destination, in Tathra.

photo View the photos »

Posted on Thursday October 31st, 2019, tagged with events | comments disabled

Peru – May/June, 2019

When we planned a Peru trip for 2012, we didn’t anticipate that family health problems would prevent one of us from going, but that is what happened in the end. So ever since 2012, it’s been Pete’s firm intention to go back to Peru with Kathy, and this year looked like the year. In the end, we left behind both our mothers with health problems, but our families filled the gap and held the fort while we had a truly memorable holiday.

Peru is a fascinating country: large, Spanish-speaking (plus a few indigenous languages) and with an impressive variety of landscapes, from the arid coastal strip to the spectacular mountain ranges and highlands, and the dense jungle further east. Much of the country is at high altitude and is farmed for whatever crops and animal products are viable. Then there is its turbulent history from Pre-Inca through Inca times, followed by the Spanish invasion and colonisation and finally independence in 1821. The country has suffered and continues to suffer from considerable governmental corruption and mismanagement, and yet the Peruvians are warm and welcoming to visitors.

We opted to have a tour organised for our needs, with tour guides, accommodation, meals and travel mostly pre-arranged, which is different from our usual mode of travel and took a bit of getting used to. But we found it reassuring, as our Spanish is rudimentary at best, and we also enjoyed the free evenings when we were able to do our own thing.

Our trip took in some sights that were new to Pete, such as the Sacred Valley near Cuzco, Rainbow Mountain, Arequipa, Colca Valley, Puno, the islands of Uros and the Santa Cruz trek, and included some Peruvian essentials he’d seen, such as Cuzco, Machu Picchu, and the Cordillera Blanca near Huaraz. Here are some of the many photos we took as we explored parts of the country.

photo View the photos »

Posted on Thursday July 11th, 2019, tagged with events | 2 comments

New Zealand – North Island, Feb/March 2019

We enjoyed a two and a half week break in New Zealand’s North Island, which included a fun-filled and sun-soaked five and a half days spent holidaying with seven other couples in our friends’ bach (holiday fishing lodge) near Rotorua. We went for walks, took part in a very competitive croquet competition, golfed, lunched, went on excursions and walks and ate, drank and were merry.

Other highlights of the holiday for us were the Bay of Islands, Hamilton Gardens and nearby Hobbiton, Mt Taranaki, Napier and the Coromandel Peninsula. Of course we enjoyed the travelling between towns too – there is always beautiful scenery to admire wherever you are. One day we’ll spend a bit of time in Auckland, but we always seem to head straight out of the city to the verdant countryside.

photo View the photos »

Posted on Tuesday March 26th, 2019, tagged with travel | comments disabled

Western USA – October, 2018

We were delighted to have the chance to visit the western USA once again, having made two pretty extensive visits there in 1975 and 1981 when we were young and restless and had a base in Orange County :-). But we’d missed a few places, and really wanted to revisit some fantastic places we’d already been, so off we went again!

We hired a truck camper and headed north first into Oregon. We wanted to avoid snow driving and camping, and the weather to the east in Wyoming and Colorado had already become very wintry, so we reluctantly gave up the idea of visiting those states. We will try to get to Yellowstone and the Rockies again another year. As a result we were able to spend more time in Utah, Arizona and California, managing to drive 5400 miles (8690 km) in four weeks.

We had fantastic weather almost everywhere. Nights were often very cold, but our camper was pretty cosy, and we loved being able to camp in the campgrounds at National and State parks, where we usually had plenty of space to ourselves (and the bears thankfully stayed away).

Our trip began and ended in San Francisco, the only city we spent any time in, and an interesting place to visit. Highlights were just about all the parks we visited but if we had to choose, I’d say Yosemite National Park followed by Zion, and Pete would say Bryce Canyon followed by Yosemite. The landscapes are just so grand – we’d forgotten how beautiful and impressive that part of the country is.

photo View the photos »

Posted on Saturday January 19th, 2019, tagged with travel | 1 comment

Hawai’i – May / June 2017

We were in need of a holiday to look forward to, and a stress-free break from our regular routines, and Hawaii came to mind – English-speaking, welcoming to tourists, warm, scenic, only a ten-hour flight. We knew a bit about it – volcanoes, beaches, palm trees, Hawaiian music. The more Pete researched it, the more interesting it became.

It was a wonderful break! Our first day was a bit long – bus to Sydney at 4pm, plane overnight for ten hours, landing in Honolulu, flight on Hawaii Airlines to Kona on the Big Island (also called Hawai’i), pick up car, drive to our condo, shop, cook, eat, enjoy the sunset and finally sleep.

We had seven nights on the Big Island, three in a lovely condo at Kona and four at a delightful airBNB near Pahoa. The western side is mostly very dry. There are old lava flows everywhere, and consequently not too many sandy beaches, but lots to see and do. The eastern side is lush and receives many times more rain than the west, so there’s lots of rainforest and waterfalls. And then there are the dormant and active volcanoes, (the two largest dormant ones over 4000 metres in height) with Kilauea, the youngest, still pumping up lava, and for the first time in a few years there’s lava flowing into the sea on the southeastern coastline. Spectacular!

Then it was off to Maui, a short flight and drive to our next condo in Kihei on the western side. A lovely long sandy beach fifty metres from our door. There’s a dormant volcano there too, Haleakela, over 3000 metres high, but the majority of the lava flows have had time to be revegetated closer to the coastline, and there are quite a few sandy beaches too. The road to Hana is famed because of its lush rainforest, numerous curves and bridges and waterfalls – a day trip, even though it’s not that many miles.

To Kauai next, one of the oldest islands, and a comfy apartment a few steps from a small beach in Kapa’a on the eastern side. Day trips to the north, where we did part of the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast (sensibly stopping at the beach before it got too steep and hairy!) and to the south of the island from where we accessed Waimea Canyon and the lookouts towards the southern side of the Na Pali Coast. Wow!

Finally two nights in Honolulu, at Waikiki, where we were lucky to see the 101st Annual King Kamehameha Celebration Floral Parade. Floral is certainly the word – every vehicle and horse was decorated with gorgeous garlands or arrangements. We walked the length of Waikiki Beach (rather narrow in places), and enjoyed the beautiful mild evenings before heading back, refreshed, to rather colder climes!

photo View the photos »

Posted on Tuesday July 11th, 2017, tagged with events | comments disabled

North Coast / Gold Coast Hinterland – November 2016

After a wonderful, social friends’ weekend at Cotton Beach on the Far North Coast in early November we took some extra time to enjoy the region. We headed inland first to Murwillumbah and the Mount Warning Area, then north to Springbrook and Green Mountains in Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast Hinterland. Lovely weather, lush rainforest and beautiful scenery.

A brief foray down to the Gold Coast, then back inland (west, then south, then southeast) through Beaudesert, Kyogle and Grafton to the coastal highway once again. Camped for a few days at South West Rocks (beautiful!) and had a look at Crescent Head on the way south. Dodged some pretty serious bushfires on the way to Newcastle for a couple of lovely days with family, before heading home.

photo View the photos »

Posted on Tuesday July 11th, 2017, tagged with events | comments disabled

South Australia – April 2016

Time for a quick escape and camping trip to places we’d not been to since 1984 (the southern parts of South Australia and Adelaide), or places we’d never seen, including Kangaroo Island and the Eyre Peninsula for one of us.  It was a two day drive across a dry landscape to Victor Harbor, a pretty town with a historic centre. Across on the ferry to Kangaroo Island where we first camped in Flinders Chase National Park in a beautiful bushy campground, and then on the eastern part of the island for a couple of days before taking the ferry to the mainland once more.

Kangaroo Island was very dry but had some quite unique plants and coastal scenery. The western part has a very isolated feel, and there are tales of shipwrecked sailors who died or only just survived before reaching the only outpost of civilisation (in the west, Cape Borda lighthouse, built in 1858 with much difficulty.)

Once on the mainland again, we headed up past Adelaide, staying overnight at Port Germein before driving to Port Augusta. We spotted a very high tech installation just before Port Augusta, a central tower, masses of solar panels and huge greenhouses. Further investigation found that it was Sundrop Farms, an impressive use of technologies that integrate solar power, electricity generation, fresh water production and hydroponics. It was due to open soon, and has now done so – very impressed!

We drove down the other side of the Spencer Gulf, past mining railways and the port of Whyalla, many wheat silos by the shore and a mostly dry but clearly quite productive landscape. We reached Port Lincoln, where Pete had lived for several years of his youth – an attractive town set on a bay with views to islands and peninsulas. We visited two National Parks nearby with wild coastal scenery, before driving back around Spencer Gulf, to spend a few days in Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills nearby. Did lots of walking around the centre of Adelaide, and watched the Anzac Day march in the city. Enjoyed the lovely Adelaide Hills too, including Hahndorf and Hans Heysen’s studio.

photo View the photos »

Posted on Friday July 7th, 2017, tagged with events | comments disabled

The Top End – June, 2015

We allowed ourselves a quick winter escape this year, flying to Darwin and spending some days there before heading off in a hired camper to revisit Litchfield, Nitmiluk and Kakadu National Parks – places we had visited with the kids in 1992 (and Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk also in 1994). Darwin has become a very interesting multicultural city, definitely worth a visit (it was rather underwhelming in 1992).

The weather was wonderfully warm and we had a very relaxing time in general. The camper was just right for the two of us (not sure how you’d ever get five people in there!) and the scenery was as beautiful as we remembered it. We were delighted to see a lot of birds and wildlife and loved the fresh green of the trees contrasting with the straw yellow grasses and the red cliffs and rocks. It was warm enough to swim, though that was not permitted in some places for various reasons (crocodiles and cultural). The crystal clear cool waters at Litchfield National Park were a highlight, as were the sunsets, waterfalls, vistas and peaceful evenings sitting outside.

photo View the photos »

Posted on Thursday July 23rd, 2015, tagged with events | comments disabled

South Coast – April, 2015

We were able to get away for a couple of nights down to the South Coast and stayed at Barlings Beach, near Tomakin, exploring further to the south on the second day. We were there in between storms, which was lucky – there was plenty of evidence of high seas on the beaches, from the wild weather earlier in the week. The day we left it rained again, we were told. Highlights were the beach walks, the magnificent sunset on the second day, the drive to Moruya Heads, Congo and Bingi Bingi Head, with short walks at each. Beautiful scenery and such interesting and colourful rock formations. The countryside is looking very lush and green with a dash of autumn colour.


photo View the photos »

Posted on Thursday April 30th, 2015, tagged with events | 1 comment

« Previous Entries