|My view from inside the helicopter. You can see the quicksilver pontoon in the foreground.|
|A view of Port Douglas from the helicopter. Apparently Bill Clinton has a house there.|
|Cape tribulation from the air.|
|A tree growing in the see, at cape tribulation.|
|I visited Tjapukai aboriginal centre. They had an authentic aboriginal camp, and showed us how to light fire from friction, and build shelters.It was really nice to walk around, and we had buffet breakfast while we chatted to them (bushcraft is one of my hobbies, and I found the conversation fascinating).|
|We visited the Wujai Wujai aboriginal village during our 4 wheel drive trip into the rainforest.I had imagined it to be quite traditional, but found it had modern houses and jeeps.It did have a large fire area though, and they spend most evenings outdoors sat around the fire.|
|We took a walk up through the village, and stopped at a waterfall for a picnic.|
|I had never tried ballooning so just had to have a go.We had to get up at 4:30 in the morning. The balloon we flew in, was one off the largest commercially available.|
|We went up to a height of 1000 feet (I was able to check on my Suunto watch). The thing I noticed was the silence. It was amazing to be travelling hi above the ground and not hear a sound.Our guide cracked a joke and asked if everyone know how he steered the balloon.
He then said we don’t, it goes where the wind takes it.
|An amazing fact I found out, is that the roots of trees, do not grow bellow the ground in the rainforest.This tree, for example is actually growing in sand. It would be possible theoretically, to construct a rainforest in a car park, if it was hot and the air was moist enough.|
|The famous “wait a while vine”. It grows with prickly stalks that fasten to other plants and pull it skyward, so it can gain access to the sun.They can be used for water, but if the prickly part catches on your clothing, you should stop and carefully remove it, rather than continuing. That’s where it gets its name.|
|Back to Habitat, a small child plays with a snake. I loved the way the Australians were so in tune with nature.Daintree School had actually written to the American Space Program and asked them if spiders could make webs in space.They actually sent specimens of spiders from the Daintree into space to answer the children’s question. Yes, they can.|
|I have never been interested in diving, but once on the reef, I decided to go at it with Frank (who loves the sport).Unfortunately, I should have prepared, and had real difficulties, which resulted in me getting out of the water and not completing the dive.It was a low point on the trip for me, but at least I had a go.|
|Frank diving in the reef with tropical fish (a few of them bit him !).There was a viewing area near the diving centre.|
|Some reef coral from the viewing area.|
|Another lifelong ambition, to travel in a submarine !|
|Inside the submersible, it was a bit cramped, but the view was amazing.|
|Travelling from the quicksilver pontoon, to where the helicopter I had booked for a trip across the reef.|
|Standing in cape tribulation bay.It is so named, as Captain Cook ran aground here, and needed 7 weeks of repair to fix his ship (its next to a place called weary bay).
My experiences were different. I thought is was fantastic.
Its funny, in modern times, any child can purchase a map showing the reef, which would have saved Captain Cook all that trouble !.
|Taken from a hill side overlooking cape tribulation bay.|
|The road leading deep into the rainforest.A few miles down this road, is a resort called Heritage where I stayed overnight.|
|This was my room for the night. It was miles away from any other of the hotel buildings, and I sat on my porch with a glass of wine.It was cool to be all alone in the rainforest, and watch the sun set.|
|The habitat Zoo in Port Douglas. It was amazing to see so many wild animals in this environmentally friendly, indoor zoo.This is one of the walkways, which allowed you walk high above the river and swamp lands.|
|A tree climbing Kangaroo, in the habitat zoo. It uses its tale as a counterbalance when climbing.|
|Me feeding a Kangaroo.The Kangaroo’s were just as I had expected, and were very friendly.|
|Into the rainforest. Our guide Tanya took is to a “Boarded” section of the Daintree Rainforest (the oldest Rainforest in the world).She showed us all the different trees and plants, and the damage the ferile pigs can do in the wild.|
|I had always wanted to stand in a real Rainforest, and wandering around like this was a high point of my trip.|
|Me on the boarded walk, with the Mossman river behind me.|
|We had lunch at the brilliant Fern Tree lodge, a couple of the other people went in the pool.After that, we went Croc spotting on the mossman river.
We saw about 9 Crocs, although they were bellow the water line with only there heads and snouts visible.
|Since the crocks in the Mossman river wouldn’t surface, I have put up some crocs that I saw at the habitat zoo.|
|If you have visited this web site before, you will know that wilderness bushcraft is one of my hobbies.I have always found shelter building fascinating, and this is an abo lean to, on display in botanical garden.|
|This is one of the largest trees in the botanical Garden.I sat under it, when I had a picnic with Frank.I also fulfilled a childhood dream by purchasing a boomerang, and throwing it in the botanical garden.|
|On the ferry coming back from Manly, I got a brilliant shot off the harbour bridge.I heard reports on the radio later that day, that Wale’s were visible from the bridge.I loved walking across the bridge.|
|A Koala bear in the Blue Mountain Zoo.|
|The blue mountains. tragically, the weather wasn’t very good on that day, as I would have loved to see them in the sunshine.|
|These mountains are only a 40 minute drive from Sydney.Our guide pointed out that it would be possible to walk more than a hundred miles through the forest, without seeing another person.|
|I asked the guide if there was a camp site in the forest (which is bigger than the lake district !).His reply was everything that I love about Australia – “the whole thing is a camp site, all you need is a map to find where the water is, the rest is up to you !”|
|In the rainforest zoo, there was an albino kangaroo.Its extremely unusual to find one, as they are normally killed by wild animals very quickly.It was a friendly and charming animal.|
|Slightly less friendly, I saw a real shark in Manly aquarium.I have always wanted to see a real shark and like so many of the things that happened on my trip, it fulfilled a lifelong ambition.|
|Some baby penguins.They were so tame, that instead of moving away when I stood next to there enclosure, they actually came over to have a look at me.|
|A classic picture of the Sydney opera house from the ferry.During the opera house tour, I saw the famous staircase that leads nowhere. I was struck by the innovative nature of Australians.The opera house was paid for by a lottery fund, and not taxes, so nobody paid towards it that didn’t want to.|
|A view of the amazing botanical garden from the steps of the opera house.I liked the way the skyscrapers in the background contrasted against the plants and trees.|
|There are signs around the botanical garden, saying please walk on the grass.The point is that they wanted people to actively visit and enjoy the park.It was amazing to be there at lunchtime and see people taking time out from work to have a picnic.|
|The opera house from the Harbour Bridge.Circular bay has the opera house, the rocks, the botanical garden and several nice shops and bars.Its one of the most vibrant places I have ever been.|
|On a trip to the blue mountains, we visited a campsite where Kangaroos run free.|
|I caught the ferry to Manly island.It was named that, as the first explorers saw some local abo tribesmen, and described them as very “Manly”.I loved it here.|
|There was a six mile walk along the shore in manly, and as I am not much of a beach person I walked the whole length of it.There was a fantastic view.|
|Frank outside the opera house.Although I am comfortable travelling on my own, it was great when he arrived.There are pictures of Frank all over this web site, he is my closest friend, we have travelled all over the world together and I would trust him with my life (I actually have done several times !).|
|Back home in the UK, we have a cookery program called Saturday kitchen.They feature an Australian Chef called Bill Granger who runs an internationally respected restaurant called “Bill’s”.I decided to actually go there whilst in Sydney.I was blown away to be actually sat in a building which I had seen on TV from the other side of the world.|
|Although its hard to qualify, the scrambled eggs at bills are said to be the best in the world.Scrambled are my favourite eggs, and I couldn’t miss the opportunity. It is made using cream, and tasted delicious.The T shirt I am wearing, is one of 6 I bought in Australia, as they were so inexpensive, it was easier to buy new clothes, than wash dirty ones.|
|In the blue mountains.The rock formations were stunning to look at.Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t very good on that day, and I ended up buying a coat to keep warm.|
|An Emu in the blue mountain zoo.An international symbol of Australia.Of all the places I have ever visited, Australia was the most beautiful.I will definitely return there !.|
|The aborigines didn’t like people climbing Ularu (although no one was specific about why).As an alternative, there was a circular walk around the base of the rock, which we did early on when it was cool.
The scenery and views around the rock were breathtaking.
|I decided to climb Ularu. I was clear about this from the beginning, nature put it there before men and religion existed and it was meant to be climbed.Unfortunately, Frank didn’t agree and I walked it on my own. It was unusual to be anywhere near a mountain without Frank !
Good news was that my expensive cross trainers and hours of fitness paid off, and flew up it even though it was very steep.
|Me at the top of Ularu.I was lucky to find some people from Perth at the top to take my picture.|
|Ularu at night.We had a glass of wine, and watched the son set over the rock.
I got chatting to a few off the people on the Safari and made some friends.
|On the 3rd day of our trip, we visited Kings Canyon.The walk wasn’t particularly hard, but it was very hot.
This is a view of the Canyon. It was like a sheer wall, and is very popular with rock climbers.
Its a bit hard to see, but at the bottom of the Canyon is the Garden of Eden, a really special place with clear water which I sat in for half an hour relaxing.
|We had such a good time, that when we got back we all went for a night out in Alice Springs.I had Kangaroo steaks, and we all got loads of pitcher’s of beer.
I have spent to many weeks of my life with holiday makers, it was great for a change to be surrounded by travellers and people with a taste for adventure like me.
|Julia, Sonja and the Anouk holding a 4 pint pitcher of beer.|
|The Olga’s.I went on a 3 day Safari around Ularu and the desert around the red centre.
The heat on the trip was stifling, and we had to get up at 4am each day.
|Valley of the winds.As we completed the walk around the Olga’s, we came to the valley of the winds, which is sacred to the aboriginal people.|
|There are Camel farms all over Australia, and approximately 400,000 Camels live wild.I had to use the zoom on my Camera to capture a picture of this camel.|
|I thought it was amazing in the desert, but I had to drink at least 4 litre’s of water each day.I knew when I was dehydrated, as my appetite would go, I would feel tired, and then get headaches.I had always imagined doing a long distance walk in the outback, but I discovered the amount of water you would need to carry, meant traveling without a vehicle was practically impossible.|
|Whilst on the safari, we stayed on a camp site in tents.These were unlike any tents I had ever slept in, as they were built like nuclear air raid shelters.The Kings Canyon cattle station where we stayed on the 2nd night, actually had a pool, which we made good use of.|
|Our guide Darren cooked these chicken meals on the coals off the fire.He asked if anyone knew how to light I fire, and I couldn’t miss an opportunity like that. I have never seen wood so dry.It wasn’t necessary to use kindling, as a piece of wood the thickness of a broom handle could be lit with a match !.I had the fire roaring within about 10 minutes, and everyone in the camp complimented me on my fire lighting skills (I neglected to mention to them, that I had been trained by some of the UK’s finest Bushcraft instructors !).|
|Frank and Tony outside a hostel in Alice springs.I stayed mostly in expensive hotels while on my trip. I actually found that sometimes, the more money you spend, the less atmosphere you seem to get.I am glad I did a “James Bond” on this trip, but next time I am going to rough it a bit more.|
|Quad biking in the desert.Not like in the UK. No 25 minute safety brief, the instructor hands you a helmet, asks if you know the controls (and looks unimpressed if you dont).Then says simply “try and keep up with me” and off we go.
An amazing experience, the highlight of my trip was hitting a ramp and having all 4 wheels leave the ground.
That feeling of being airborne was incredibly exhilarating.
|This is Mo, the Camel I got to ride whilst in the desert.The camel driver was explaining that Camels have a reputation for being bad tempered, when in reality they associate emotions with memories.This means that if a camel is shouted at in a field, it will always be ill tempered in that field.I had always wondered about this, as I cant actually believe that an animal can be “nasty”.I also found out why they are called the ship of the desert. They rock as they move|