Some favourites

Updates here have slowed to a crawl, co-incidentally work has been a lot busier for me. I suspect there is a link there. The further travels of two Kiwis in Western Australia will be appearing here at some point, I’m just not sure exactly when. In the meantime here are some nice photos from the last couple of months, highlights if you will.

MG 6152Photo by Brendon & Keryn

We start at Hamilton zoo with a ring-tailed lemur wrapping up against the cold.

MG 6223Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Then we have a cheeky monkey called Adam playing in a house that I’m sure contained rabbits and guinea pigs when I was little and visiting Hamilton Zoo.

IMG 1850Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A big fish we swam with off the coast of Western Australia. If you get the chance just do it, so awesome. Really, its the best wildlife encounter I’ve ever had.

MG 8978Photo by Brendon & Keryn

One of my favourite shots from the winter visits to Zealandia. This pied shag (or Australian pied cormorant for those across the ditch) was taking off and I got the panning just right.

MG 9276Photo by Brendon & Keryn

One very lost penguin and a crowd of admirers. I will not call him “Happy Feet”…damn

Look what I gotPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

White faced terns at Plimmerton.

Shore Plover washingPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

One of a small flock of New Zealand shore plover that have taken up residence in Plimmerton next to the fire station. They have flown across from Mana Island which has concerned DOC, what with all the cats and dogs found on the mainland. There are only a few hundred of these birds left, one of New Zealand’s rarest species.

Eowyn and the NazgulPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

A close-up of a statue we now own, it depicts Eowyn fighting the Nazgul from the book Return of the King and is based on a painting by John Howe.

New Zealand Falcon (Karearea)Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The falcons are back at Zealandia and I managed to grab a few photos yesterday. Overcast skies may make it darker and therefore harder to get nice sharp photos but wildlife looks so much better without harsh, contrasty light everywhere.

White Fronted Tern (Tara)Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A white fronted tern battles the intense westerly we’ve had for the last few days at Plimmerton.

So that’s a visual journey through some of my recent photographic highlights. Next time I hope it’ll be back into the dry landscapes of Western Australia.

On the road: Geraldton to Kalbarri

MG 4808Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Wind Turbine by the road to Ellendale Pool.

The morning, once we’d had breakfast, was largely spent driving with our destination for the day being the town of Kalbarri and the nearby Kalbarri National Park. Naturally there were a few stops along the way to take photos of turbines in the Alinta Wind Farm (situated by the turn-off to Ellendale Road) and later in the morning a brief diversion towards the town of Gregory to get a closer look at the rosy-pink hued Hutt Lagoon.

MG 4825Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The water of Hutt Lagoon.

As we approached Kalbarri the road turned north and followed a cliff edge to our left. We stopped to look at one of the numerous lookouts on the cliff tops and were almost driven back into the car by the hoards of flies. Keryn also disturbed a kangaroo taking shelter in the toilet block next to the carpark, it was very warm. Nothing we had read before coming on this holiday had prepared us for the flies which were incredibly annoying. The only thing to be thankful for was the fact they didn’t bite, they did however tend to fly around the head and shoulders, inviting all their friends and basically try to fly into any feature they could find be it eyes, ears, mouth or nose. Combine these swarming flies with their African tsetse cousins and you’d have the most horrible creature on the planet. We didn’t stick around but did at least manage to see the natural rock arch and the impressive cliffs before taking sanctuary in the car.

MG 4829Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The rock arch, referred to locally as the Natural Bridge.

Heading into Kalbarri our first task was to find some fly nets. We found a general store that was just about to close and were thankful to be let in by the owner and purchase two spiffy looking black nets with camouflage fabric detail – maybe the flies wouldn’t see us coming? Next we found somewhere to park for the night. We drove around the town past the three caravan parks mentioned in our guidebooks and settled on the Murchison Caravan Park. We had lunch, checked out the local info centre and then decided to head into the National Park for some walking.

Having a 4WD vehicle with high clearance proved useful on the road into the park. A good 20km of dry, corrugated road left us and the van very shaken up by the time we arrived at the carpark near the Z Bend Gorge lookout. Donning our fly nets we set off on the path to the lookout which felt further than a few hundred meters due to the heat. The view was striking, the red brown walls of the gorge worn by water into smooth layers of rock like badly stacked, ill-made pancakes. Green eucalypts dotted the red landscape and in the middle of it all ran the Murchison River. Flies were now our constant company, still annoying but we could live with them now we had a working barrier in place.

IMG 1350Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Flies!

MG 4831Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Looking up the Z Bend Gorge.

We continued past the lookout on a track that headed down to the riverside. Keryn was feeling tired and worried that her leg rash might appear (as it has in other hot climates in the past) but we decided in the end to continue and negotiated the rough cut steps and boulder climbing ladders in the narrow valley. It wasn’t a long decent and we were soon next to the Murchison and I was getting the tripod out to take some photos while Keryn found a suitable rock for a sit down. I spotted a kangaroo moving down the side of the gorge and spent quite a while just watching it as it disappeared and reappeared on it’s way to the river, heading down for a drink.

MG 4849Photo by Brendon & Keryn

At river level.

MG 4929Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The kangaroo (wallaby?).

It was getting further into the afternoon and we had another spot to visit so we walked back up the track. Our flies were named as our personal swarms, rising in a buzzing mass with each heavy step or sudden movement. We were happy to have a drink back at the carpark before leaving our swarms behind as we shook them off and then quickly entered the vehicle.

The next stop was at the carpark for The Loop walking track. We were only walking as far as the natural rock arch called Natures Window as it nicely frames a view looking upstream along the Murchison. we’d left it a little late in the day so I raced off to try and get to the window before the sun set. This was only partially successful, I did manage a couple of shots but was in a rush and when it came to the portrait of us both with the window view I had the timer settings all wrong so there were a couple of false start. The last evening light on the rocks was mostly gone by the time I sorted myself out.

MG 4946Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The evening light makes the rock glow.

MG 4947Photo by Brendon & Keryn

How far can I run in 2 seconds? About this far.

MG 4954Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Sexy fly net models.

As the sun disappeared behind the horizon I got some last shots of the landscape and then we were on our way back to Kalbarri. Back at our site for the night I found that the hour of bumpy driving had taken its toll and one of the screws for the front license plate had been shaken out, the plate swinging by the remaining screw. A bit of investigation and evaluation of our options and I had it tied back in place with a long cable tie, a solution that lasted for the rest of the trip.

MG 4959Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The Loop track follows the bend of the river.

MG 4960Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Looking down to the river valley.

MG 4964Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Keryn takes in the view.

On the road: Cervantes to Geraldton

We were on the road again early the next morning, the benefits of sleeping in our own transport becoming obvious. We drove to the pinnacles and again had them mostly to ourselves, being joined for a short while by a British man taking similar photos. The flies also largely kept away, at least until the sun started rising into the sky.

MG 4599Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The rising sun cast long shadows.

MG 4610Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A golden start to the day.

On the return to the caravan park (we needed to have breakfast and showers) we stopped so I could take a photo of a road sign warning motorists to beware of animals on the road. Some enterprising New Zealander with a stencil had obviously passed this way and left their mark. Once we were feed and cleaned we left the caravan park and took a diversion down to a nearby beach where we had a short walk to a viewpoint. We also checked out Lake Thetis and the stromatolites, ancient life forms found in only a few places around the world. The stromatolites here weren’t much to look at, I’ll write more about them in the next encounter.

MG 4630Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Spot the interloper.

MG 4639Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Leaving the viewpoint.

Driving up the coast we stopped at a number of places to have a little walk. At Jurien Bay we walked out onto the still under construction jetty and watched people fishing. Walking along the white sand beach we checked out the old wooden pier and the birds using it as a daytime roost. We lunched at Leeman and took another short walk along the shoreline and up a hill to get another view.

MG 4641Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The jetty at Jurien Bay.

MG 4650Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The old pier.

MG 4666Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Shag Island at Leeman.

In between we took a diversion inland to find some caves but had to turn back. This was where the lack of instruction on the 4WD use would have come in handy. We had been driving along a wide, corrugated dirt road leaving a trail of red dust in the air behind us when the road narrowed and became very sandy. Getting a little nervous about the thought of getting stuck in the sand we pulled of and had a go at engaging 4WD. There was one lever that seemed to have three settings but the label on the top of the lever was gone so it was pretty much guesswork and combinations of taking the vehicle out of gear and putting the lever into different positions. None of the combinations tried enabled 4WD on the little picture on the dashboard so rather than risk a sand trap we turned around. I stopped on the dirt road to get a few photos of isolated vegetation so it wasn’t a completely wasted diversion.

MG 4657Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A tree in a field.

MG 4662Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The long and dusty road.

The late afternoon was spent at Geraldton. After investigating the local information centre we drove around checking out a few local highlights. The loss of the HMAS Sydney and all 645 crew on the 19th November 1941 is remembered with a number of memorials along the Coral Coast and the Geraldton memorial is particuly striking. There are a number of elements, from wikipedia: “The permanent memorial included four major elements: a stele of the same size and shape of the ship’s prow, a granite wall listing the ship’s company, a bronze statue of a woman looking out to sea and waiting in vain for the cruiser to come home, and a dome (dubbed the “dome of souls”) onto which 645 stainless steel seagulls were welded”. A fifth element was under construction when we visited, a marble pool to commemorate the discovery of the wreck in 2008. The memorial was designed by Joan Walsh-Smith and Charles Smith, I read an article about them and their creations in one of the in flight magazines on the trip home to NZ. They have created some wonderful artwork.

MG 4673Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The dome of 645 seagulls.

MG 4686Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Waiting.

Next we visited the coast and a prominent landmark, the Moore Point Lighthouse. I took photos while Keryn headed to the beach and noticed a couple of birds perched on the railings at the top of the tower. Changing to a zoom lens I got some nice photos of a pair of osprey keeping watch from their lofty viewpoint. On the beach I joined Keryn and we watched an experience kite surfer carve his way over the waves, making it look so easy to zip along and over the water. It was very windy and there were a number of wind surfers and kite surfers visible along the coast.

MG 4692Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Moore Point Lighthouse.

MG 4704Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The lighthouse osprey.

MG 4749Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Launching.

Evening was approaching so we departed south. In our talks with Michelle and Mike we had looked at some of their photos from a trip they had done this way and one nice camp site they had stayed at was nearby, Ellendale Pool. We had found it on the map and decided a night in the country was a good idea so with food from the supermarket and a few drinks keeping cool with the help of some ice we set off. About six weeks before we reached Western Australia there had been storms lashing the area and the evidence of flooding was still apparent as we approached the camp site. The road crossed a stream and there was still detritus lining the banks and the road was covered in a layer of red dirt. Thankfully the camp site was OK, a clean-up must have been undertaken at some point.

As the name suggested there is a pool at the camp site, actually more of a swimming hole formed as the stream gently curves around the base of a rocky hill. The sun was setting as we arrived and lit the red and yellow stone with warm golden tones, it was beautiful. There were only a couple of other vehicles in attendance so we parked in a quiet spot and I jumped out with camera and tripod to get some photos. Later as the light disappeared we prepared dinner in the back of the vehicle using the small gas cooker that had been provided. It was a clear night and we went to sleep staring up at the stars of the milky way through the windows in the vehicles roof, crickets and the wind in the trees the only noise. If it had just been a little cooler it would have been the perfect night, as it was we had to have the front windows open as well as the sliding door to get a breeze.

MG 4793Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The evening glow at Ellendale Pool.

On the road: Perth to Cervantes

I took the bus and train to pick up our Camper while Keryn stayed behind and finished packing all our stuff. The camper we were assigned looked a little beaten up and was registered in South Australia, so obviously had already done a number of journeys. The back of the camper had been modified with a wooden frame fitted providing a number of compartments to hold stuff and lids to go over the top which made a flat surface for sleeping on. There were four simple foam single mattresses to give some level of comfort and a number of curtain cords strung up with some tired looking curtains attached to give a modicum of privacy. At the back was another wooden frame construction that supported a small bench top with built-in sink. A tap was attached to a water canister so we could rinse dishes and wash things with the sink piped to empty underneath the vehicle. There were a few shelves holding a seemingly random assortment of cutlery, old plates and beaten up pans for cooking with. There was also a small, old chilly-bin (esky, cooler box etc) to store perishables. We had already assumed we’d need to have a good shop before we set off, we just needed to make sure we picked up a few extra things now.

I was given a five minute show around the vehicle, with various dents and cracks already marked off on the rental form. I wasn’t shown how to use the 4WD controls, something that would cause a few issues later on in the trip. All in all it was OK, nothing more. Keryn and I both have GPS on our phones and we have a SatNav application called Navigon loaded to provide directions (Navigon is free for our phones in Australia and this includes all the maps for Australia and NZ, which is a bonus). I set it up to direct me back to Michelle and Mikes place and I was off down the road to fill up with diesel (the vehicle was pretty much empty when picked up).

It didn’t take long to get home, even with a couple of unusual diversions I took when I mistook the navigation instructions. Keryn had everything packed so we were able to load the vehicle up before heading to the local supermarket for some shopping. In addition to food and water we also bought a sharp knife, a small chopping board, a non-stick spoon for use when cooking, zip-lock bags for storing food and packed lunches, some tea towels, disinfectant spray, some clothes for wiping down surfaces, paper towels and a bunch of other things we thought we might need. With everything purchased and loaded up we were set to go, heading off just before lunchtime.

MG 4510Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Our first stop on the road.

We were using the SatNav mainly to give us estimates on time for each leg of the journey, we also had a map book and documents we’d printed before leaving NZ with some of the highlights. Our plan for day one was to drive to Cervantes, stopping if we came across anything interesting along the way. This meant a drive of around 250km. Inside the vehicle on the dash were a number of stickers warning to always check the oil and water and advising to not overheat the engine. To this end a separate temperature gauge had been installed on the drivers side giving an engine temperature reading and in the end we tended to drive based on the temperature more than the speed. With outside temperatures normally around 35+ degrees reaching the speed limit of 110km/h on the open road was a dream, normally we were restricted to between 80 and 90km/h as the engine temperature approached the warning level of 105 degrees. We figured we weren’t in a hurry to get anywhere so this wasn’t an issue. The vehicle had air-conditioning which we used a lot of the time and we had an iTrip to give us access to an ipod for music which we could just hear over the constant rattle of the vehicle as we drove.

Leaving Perth we were soon driving through countryside, the landscape becoming more arid with red dusty fields dominating the scenery. There were plenty of trees around but the vegetation tended to be thin. It was hot and dry but also clear, blue skies with only hints of cloud occasionally appearing. We stopped a few times for snacks and to check out the scenery, at the Emu Downs wind farm we had a look at the giant towers and read about the site. This would be the first of many wind farms we saw on our drive, wind obviously a constant presence on this open landscape. I grabbed a few photos of our vehicle, the back end graffiti on our vehicle “Have a sex change, swap your partner” actually not too bad considering what it could have been. In fact I don’t think we saw anything particuly offensive on any of the multiple Wicked vans and campers we passed by over the coming days.

MG 4517Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Checking out the Emu Downs wind farm and our camper.

At Cervantes we found a spot to stay for the night at the Cervantes Pinnacles Caravan Park. We arrived fairly late in the afternoon and didn’t hang around at the caravan park for long as we wanted to catch the sunset at the nearby Pinnacles, a well known tourist attraction in the Nambung National Park. The Pinnacles are limestone rocks slowly being eroded as they stand in the desert landscape, hundreds of them dotting the landscape. There is a dirt and sand ring road that travels through the park giving good access to the area and we found our way there as the sun was beginning to set. We found a place to stop and got out to walk among the rocks and take photos and this is where we first encountered the annoying flies of Western Australia. The flies don’t really do much other than be annoying, they don’t bite thankfully. They are however very tenacious and once they’ve found you they hang around, buzzing around the head and just being very annoying.

We walked and surveyed the different views. Keryn headed up to a high point where she could see the sunset while I wandered around taking photos of the last light hitting the Pinnacles. There were not many people around and with a breeze blowing to cool the air it was a stark and beautiful landscape.

MG 4530Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Evening light on the Pinnacles.

MG 4540Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The wind and sand carves the limestone rocks into strange shapes.
The final glow of the sun upon a rocky outcrop.

MG 4562Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Dusk.

As it got darker we headed back to the caravan park in Cervantes, a couple of dopey looking kangaroos watching us from the side of the road as we drove past. We cooked and ate dinner in the camp kitchen before getting ready for our first night in the campervan. We strung a few travellers washing lines up to provide some extra cover in vehicle, towels providing a screen from the front. The mattresses were surprisingly comfortable but also a little short, both of us having to sleep either with bent legs or alternatively finding an angle to poke our legs through the gaps in the end of the vehicle shelving. An alarm was set so we could drive off in the morning to catch sunrise over the pinnacles and then we slept.

Fremantle Prison

Our second day in Perth was largely spent out at Fremantle. With all day travel passes purchased on the bus we took the train out to Fremantle, expecting to walk around a bit and head up to the Fremantle Prison. Keryn had been searching for a dynamo torch/radio at Kathmandu in Wellington with little luck, emergency kit supplies being bought up following the Christchurch earthquakes, so we had a look in the Fremantle store. There were plenty in stock so we purchased one meaning our own emergency kit would now be practically complete once we got home. We also had a look in a bookstore as I had finished my book on the flights so far. Kate (or Kate & Roger fame) had recommended Dirt Music by Tim Winton so I picked up a copy, and I also got a photography book whose subject was Western Australia partly because I liked the look of the photos and partly to provide inspiration for locations on our coming journey. The book is titled Landscapes, Photographs of Western Australia and is by Christian Fletcher.

MG 4434Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Fremantle town hall.

Purchasing complete we headed up to the Prison, looking out for something to have for lunch along the way. Keryn was still not feeling 100% and we ended up eating at the pleasant cafe at the prison after buying tickets for a tour. There are a number of different tours available but Keryn wasn’t up for standing outside in the sun or walking through tunnels for a few hours so we ended up going on the Doing Time Tour which had largely walking around inside the prison while our guide told us about prison life. The tour was good and our guide excellent. Details of the prison environment were bought to life vividly by our guides descriptions and topics that could have been awkward were voiced without over-dramatisation; such things as hangings and the use of the cat o’ nine tails on the whipping post.

MG 4438Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The main prison blocks.

MG 4491Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Inside.

MG 4494Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The whipping post.

Done at the prison we made our way back to Fremantle Station and took the train back in to the city. Keryn did a bit of shopping and we then headed back to Michelle and Mikes place. We went out for dinner that evening at Sorrento Quay, eating at the Boulevard Restaurant and having desert at a nearby chocolate themed cafe. We then walked around the Hillary’s Boat Harbour, checking out some of the sculptures before heading back home. We said our goodbyes before heading to bed, tomorrow we would be picking up the Wicked Camper and driving north.

Perth

The flight from Melbourne to Perth wasn’t as long as I thought it would be, pity though that the aircraft was an older Qantas model that creaked a fair bit and didn’t have any wiz-bang back of the seat entertainment. At three and a half hours it wasn’t too bad and by the time we’d been served food and drink there wasn’t a lot of idle waiting. Arriving at Perth we were fairly quickly picking up our baggage and then heading out to find our pickup. We were staying for a few days with Michelle and Mike. We last saw Michelle in Peru, she was a passenger on the first leg of our South America travels from Quito to Lima and Keryn spent a few days with Michelle checking out the sights in and around Cuzco while I walked the Inca Trail. We took our bags outside to the pickup area and soon enough found Michelle and Mike waiting in their car. It was good to see Michelle again and to meet Mike for the first time and we had a good talk as we drove from the airport to their home in the suburb of Balcatta. We were shown around, given a room and settled in before chatting some more about our plans for the coming days. We were soon enough off to bed, getting used to the time zone change and feeling a little tired.

Michelle and Keryn chatting in Peru (Specifically Huanchaco).

The next morning we were up after our hosts had left for work. We decided to have a look at the city and had figured out the night before which bus and train we needed to to catch to get into town. The trip was fairly simple, though we confused ourselves with our ticket purchase at the automated machine at the train station and ended up with a concession pass we didn’t qualify for. The staff member who finally picked up on the mistake helped us get the correct ticket and didn’t fine us so that was good (though Keryn grumbled about the extra cost ;).

Before doing the tourist thing we first travelled out to find the depot where we would be picking up our hire car in a few days time. We would be driving 1200kms from Perth north to Exmouth over 12 days and had booked a 4wd camper with Wicked. The depot was in Burswood and we found it easily enough (even if I guessed the direction when we left the trains station). The depot wasn’t exactly confidence inspiring, everything looking a little hap-hazard and messy in the office and the staff were friendly but distracted. We paid our outstanding money including a $3000 AUS bond (which, as of writing this two weeks since dropping off the vehicle still hasn’t been refunded). That done we grabbed a few brochures and headed back to the train station.

In the city we wandered a little aimlessly, visited a tourist information centre and got some lunch before starting a walk Keryn had found in the Australia guidebook. The walk took us through the shopping district, past the Fire Safety Education Centre and Museum which we had a look around, on to the Royal Perth Hospital and neighbouring St Mary’s Cathedral and then down towards the Swan River where we had a look at Government House and the Supreme Court Gardens. There were lots of birds in the gardens and I took a few photos when not having a drink of water and taking a rest from the warmth. From the gardens we continued across the road to the Barrack St Jetty and the iconic Bell Tower. Keryn was starting to feel a little tired and off colour as we sat had a snack at one of the Jetty cafes so we decided to catch the free around town bus rather than continue walking. The bus arrived just as I was about to get up and take a photo of the jellyfish filled water of the Swan River, I think they must have all washed up to Exmouth where we saw hundreds more later in the trip.

MG 4416Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Outside the hospital.

MG 4418Photo by Brendon & Keryn

St Mary’s Cathedral.

MG 4425Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Colourful birds were common.

MG 4433Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The Bell Tower.

We had planned to continue walking in Kings Park and the Botanical Gardens but Keryn was feeling worse and we had to get off the bus a couple of times so Keryn could get some fresh air. We got off a final time not far from the central train station but unfortunately Keryn just got worse, only feeling a little better after throwing up. After that we found public toilets for Keryn to freshen up and we then headed back to home so Keryn could rest.

By the evening Keryn was feeling a little better. Mike went out and got some takeaways and we all drove to a beach-side park to eat. We missed sunset by 30 minutes but it was still warm and pleasant in the park. A local cat joined us, looking like it was after company more than food as it rolled around on the ground near our table. Dinner was good, as was the company. Tomorrow, more exploration.

One night only

Leaving Sydney for Melbourne happened quite smoothly. We did have a bit of a wait for a bus but some timely advice from a local shopkeeper around which bus stop to use saved us waiting even longer. We got to Sydney airport in plenty of time and were soon enough waiting for our flight to board. The Melbourne arrival was similarly trouble free and it wasn’t long from picking up our bags to being in a taxi heading towards the Kingsville home of good friends Steve and Christine.

Seeing Chris again was great, nothing much had changed since our last visit back in 2001 other than the arrival of two children and a linked absorption of household space. We had an afternoon of catching up while Chris did everything that needed to be done at home. Steve arrived home from work and after the kids had gone to bed we had a few drinks, ate take-out curry and caught up on the years gone by.

MG 4390Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Filling out forms.

MG 4407Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Father and son.

Our flight to Perth the next day wasn’t until the early evening so we had most of the day in company with the Thornton’s. We had a nice walk through the neighbourhood to a nearby playground and from there walked on to a local cafe for brunch. The afternoon was largely spend in the back yard playing with Sam and Jessica while talking about many things. Keryn signed a few documents related to obtaining passports for the kids, we made sure everything was packed and Steve ordered a taxi to get us back to the airport. A little more than a day was too short for a proper catchup, hopefully we won’t leave it so long until next time.

The day after

A more relaxed day was had following the Wedding. In the morning Keryn and I walked around Bondi, checking out the beach and views from the rocky headland nearby. We saw lots of people surfing, a guy fishing from the rocks with good success, crashing waves and plenty of dark clouds. The rain came in as we headed back to the shops but thankfully didn’t last too long. We checked out the local market, bumping in to Sam and Jules and later Eleanor and Aaron as we debated finding something to eat (which turned out to be ice cream filled pancakes, eaten under cover as the rain came back).

MG 4301Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The swimming pools at Icebergs on Bondi Beach.

MG 4303Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Bondi Beach.

MG 4322Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Watching the surfing.

MG 4355Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Fishing.

MG 4360Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Looking back from the headland.

Kate and Roger had organised some afternoon entertainment at the Bondi Lawn Bowls club and we were first to arrive. We sat on the club veranda and had a drink while watching the rain come and go, it didn’t look like there would be much bowling taking place. More people arrived and someone bought with them some better weather and we were able to get out for a few ends of bowls, sunshine even making an appearance. I turned out to be quite good at bowls, the odd throw with the bias the wrong way aside. The afternoon passed pleasantly and plans were made for a final get together at the Icebergs restaurant for dinner so it was back to the apartment to get changed.

MG 4388Photo by Brendon & Keryn

At the bolo.

Having consulted our Australia guidebook I was a little nervous about dinner and not being dressed appropriately. The Icebergs Restaurant is one of the fancier eating establishments in Bondi, apparently a place to be seen. It was with relief that we found a somewhat less salubrious bistro downstairs, the dress code somewhat lower. We arrived just in time, it being announced that last orders were being taken for dinner as we found our table, so quick decisions were made on food and then we sat down to talk with the waves below a constant hum in the background. Dinner was good, plenty of good food leaving everyone happy. It was a fitting end to our fleeting Sydney visit, the next day we were off to Melbourne for an even shorter stay.

Kate and Roger are Married

The rain persisted and it bought along some strong winds to party with, which ruined the planned peninsula cliff-top ceremony. Plan B was enacted. Kate was staying at the Hotel Bondi and the new plan was to have the ceremony on a balcony overlooking the beach, so at least there would be a feel of the outdoors and a view of the ocean. It was only close friends and family at the ceremony, we got in because I was asked to take some photos. Everyone pitched in as plans fell into place over the morning. Chairs were found and arranged, and then re-arranged as the wind and rain conspired to soak the outer areas of the large balcony. Flowers were arranged in vases on a table and then artfully draped across another table when the wind blew the vases to the concrete with a crash of breaking glass. People huddled as much out of the wind as could manage, beautiful dresses clasped between legs to prevent impromptu Marilyn Monroe moments. It sounds chaotic but there was no panic and everyone was in a good mood, all the more so with the arrival of the bride when all the background details around weather faded away and we watched the couple say their vows in a beautiful ceremony.

MG 3629Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Mr and Mrs Kate and Roger.

We had some time taking photos in the hotel while the wedding party had a few drinks at the bar. Then we were around the corner to Roys Tapas for the reception.

MG 3896Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Happy.

MG 3958Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Very Happy.

MG 4056Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Hotel art.

MG 4082Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Fun in the elevator.

The reception was a good time for all, whether inside drinking and eating incredibly tasty food, talking with others or exploring the strange little back yard that was home to beanbags, some tables and a large tepee. The cake was a lovely collection of cupcakes and the cutting ceremony involved the couple feeding each other after having lit sparklers. Before this we had good, heart felt speeches involving much laughter and tears. All in all it was a great day and evening and it was a pleasure to attend.

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Cake and makers, Rochane & Georgie.

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Celebrating the couple.

Over to Sydney

Recently we travelled over to Australia for a bit of a holiday. The trip was long planned with some last minute changes when we found out that good friend Roger was getting married in Sydney. Not having visited Sydney before we had plenty to explore and we arrived with a lot of luggage and no real plans other than getting out to our accommodation near Bondi Beach.

The flight was good and our baggage showed up with no problems. We sat down at the airport and figured out some travel plans, choosing to get to Bondi via train and bus rather than the more expensive (but in the end not that much more) taxi or shuttle options. It was somewhat awkward to carry around our heavy backpacks, especially on the bus, but we arrived with minimal issue in Bondi and found the apartment building.

Bondi Services Apartments are not top class accomodation, but I was expecting some rough edges. The building manager was a somewhat strange man, reading reviews on Trip Advisor had prepared me for someone a little different and prepared we had no issues. Turns out his wife is a Kiwi and he spent some years living in Kamo so we (well Keryn and he) had some common ground. Our room was clean and tidy, the bed was comfortable enough and there was air-conditioning. On the negative side there was a view of tin roofs and scaffolding out the back and when inspected the windows had no locks on them. The curtains stayed closed for most of our stay.

Sam and Jules were due to arrive in the evening while Eleanor and Aaron had already arrived from Melbourne. After unpacking and having a bit of a rest we walked down to Bondi beach to find the bar where Eleanor and Aaron were having a few drinks. It was good to catch up and the viewpoint was excellent, looking over the road and down to the beach. We had some food and a few drinks, chatted and talked about the forthcoming wedding. Done we departed and headed into the city for a bit of sightseeing.

We walked around from the Botanical Gardens past Government House and on to the Sydney Opera House and a view of the Harbour Bridge. We didn’t have a lot of time but at least we’ve visited now. We then had a look at the ferry timetable and decided to take the shortly departing Manly Ferry to get some good harbour views and have a look at Manly beach.

MG 3162Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Inside the grounds of Government House.

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Checking our sculpture.

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Looking to people climbing the bridge.

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The sun comes out.

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Looking back as we head to the ferry.

As we travelled over the harbour, followed by a large cruise ship, the clouds were coming in over the city. We saw a wedding taking place in a pretty cove and around the corner of the peninsula others were fishing in the shadow of a small lighthouse. The Manly ferry was a large, multi deck ship and we were passed by sleeker, smaller boats ferrying people in suits drinking their beer and wine. Before long we were disembarking and walking out heading towards the beach.

There was a small international food festival taking place across the road from the ferry building and next door on a grassy area a school band played while families ate their food on plastic tables and chairs. Lights were strung up in the trees overs the grass and the atmosphere was warm on this grey evening.

MG 3314Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The band plays while everybody eats.

We walked to the beach and then back again, stopping to have some food from the market. Then it was back onto a ferry heading back into the city, the sky looking ominous as we hoped it didn’t start raining.

MG 3354Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The sun hides.

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The Sydney Opera House.

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Looking back as we wait for a train.

The rain didn’t come till well after dark. Back in Bondi we headed out to find Eleanor, Aaron, Sam & Jules at a restaurant where Roger and Kate were also eating with their parents. There was further catching up and a few nervous glances outside as the rain started coming down. It wasn’t looking good for an outdoor wedding the following day.

Catching up on the past: Paris

We spent four days in Paris in September 2006 and had a good time. The tourist spots were all good; we went to a number of excellent museums (Musée du Louvre, Musée de l’Orangerie des Tuileries, Musée d’orsay), climbed up the Eiffel Tower, a couple of Churches (Basilique du Sacre Coeur, Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris), a space age cuboid arch (La Défense) and the Arc de Triomphe. When not using the Paris Metro we did a lot of walking including a lovely walking tour of the Montmartre quarter.

IMG 7832Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Looking down.

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Stairs inside the Arc de Triomphe.

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A night shoot in the rain

IMG 7954Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Cobbled streets of the Montmartre Quarter.

IMG 8043Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Basilique du Sacre Coeur.

IMG 8123Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Sunset at the Place de la Concorde.

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Keryn and the sunset from Pont Alexandre III.

The only downer was our generally poor choice of restaurants for dinner, from the first night where the waiter turned out to be a Parisian cliché looking down his nose at the patrons who didn’t speak much French to the restaurant chosen for Keryn;s birthday meal which was a poor tourist trap and we had to pass on desert because we knew sundaes from the McDonald’s down the road would be so much nicer. Thankfully we did discover a place that made up for the disappoint and it turned out to be next door to our hotel. We were staying at the Hotel Mayet (small rooms but tidy and quiet) and the revelation next door was called Restaurant La Cadole. The owner/waiter was friendly and talkative, the food not expensive and really tasty. It was a pity the restaurant wasn’t open on our first night.

IMG 8186Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Aphrodite, Venus de Milo.

IMG 8305Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss.

IMG 8354Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A section of Monet’s Les Grandes Nymphéas (Water Lillies).

IMG 8431Photo by Brendon & Keryn

La Défense arch.

IMG 8454Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Inside Musée d’orsay.

Catching up on the past: Morocco – Casablanca to Fez

It has popped up on the blog in the past briefly but could do with another visit. In December 2006 we visited Morocco and saw some wonderful sights. We also had some ghastly experiences but I’ll touch on them another time. The trip was taken on another group tour, this time with the company Exodus. We travelled from Casablanca north up the coast to Rabat and then inland to Meknes, then taking a flying visit to the ruined Roman city of Volubilis before arriving in Fez. These are now many photos of this section of the trip on flickr. Here are a few highlights.

Hassan II MosquePhoto by Brendon & Keryn

They know how to make impressive doorways in Morocco. This is a gate at the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.

Guarding the Mohammed V MausoleumPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Standing guard at a doorway to the mausoleum of Mohammed V, Rabat.

Bab MansourPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Staying with doors, here is the rather large door of Bab Mansour, Meknes, with a passing Keryn for scale.

A giant archPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

A large arch at Volubilis, the ruins of a Roman city.

IMG 9521Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The overwhelming closeness of the old town, Fez.

Next up will be more of Fez and our continuing journey east to the Sahara desert.