It has now been three years since I retired from partnership in a Very Large Law Firm to travel the world. Our third year of travel took place mainly in our home country of Australia. The year began, however, in Europe in the small village of Reit im Winkl, Germany famous for cross country skiing. We had intended to spend a couple of months in small cross country ski villages going from complete novices to hopefully competent skaters. I had dreams of effortlessly gliding through the countryside with the Amazonian like strength and grace of the cross country skiers I had seen in Europe on previous trips, but I suspect Rob just thought it looked like a great way to exercise. Unfortunately, we were thwarted not by our lack of skill, but by the complete lack of snow to learn on (at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). We left Reit im Winkl to visit Slovenia (Llubjana and Lake Bled) where upon our arrival it immediately snowed leading to our optimistic return to another cross country ski village, Sillian in the Dolomites (where once again there was no snow). Our year in Europe was then prematurely brought to an end; not with a bang or even a whimper, but a crack. Rob slipped on ice in town resulting in a broken elbow and torn triceps.
Some well documented discussions with our insurers (there are some advantages to having been a lawyer in a past life) and we were back in Perth for Rob’s surgery and rehabilitation (aka lifting weights and bike riding before the surgeon advised). Several months later we were off with Kevan and Mary on our half lap around Australia with a stop in Uluru to pick up our friends from Germany, Marco and Mona before heading through the West Macdonnells, up to Kakadu, across the Gibb River Rd, into Broome, Exmouth and back down to Perth.
After waving goodbye to Marco and Mona it was a couple more months in Perth before heading out again spending time in the south of Western Australia and then crossing the Nullabor once again into South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania. On this trip we were joined at various times by Geoff & Hwee and friends, Wendy and Andrea. We concluded the year again hiking with Kevan and Mary in New Zealand.
So, without more ado, here are some of the highlights from the year.
For someone who: (a) resembles a lobster if I spend anytime in the sun; and (b) will only swim in the ocean if there is someone a bit further out from me to distract any shark, I seemed to spend a lot of the year at the beach. With so many to choose from it was a tie and, no surprise for anybody who lives there, both beaches were in Western Australia – Lucky Bay outside of Esperance and Turquoise Bay near Exmouth.
Magpie Goose Camp in Kakadu – even better than Cable Beach in Broome.
Favourite Wildlife Experience.
The best thing about travelling in Australia is the wildlife and in a year in which we saw Tasmanian devils tear apart a wallaby carcass, more than 20 Southern Right whales (mothers and calves) at Head of the Bight on the Nullabor, Little Penguins making the dash up rocks to their nests in Tasmania and wombats wandering around Cradle Mountain it could be hard to pick a winner. However, watching thousands of bats streaming out of Windjana Gorge while around 80 Johnstone’s crocodiles waited for an intrepid few to run the gauntlet for a drink of water was a major David Attenborough moment. I hate bats so was cheering for the crocs.
Tours can be terrible – formulaic, led by people who know less than you, crowded and lacking in atmosphere. For that reason we don’t do many. There are some tours, however, which beat the odds and give you a rare insight into another life. The Animal Tracks Bush Tucker and Wildlife Safari Tour is one such tour. Taken by Patsy, our Aboriginal guide to look for yams, bush carrots, mussels and chestnuts and then shown how to prepare and cook magpie geese I came to one conclusion – left to my own devices in the bush I would starve.
Favourite waterhole for a swim.
Manning Gorge on the Gibb River Road is a great place to cool down and is big enough for a decent swim.
Favourite short hike
It was a year in which we mainly did short walks of less than a day so it was hard to pick only one. In the end I went for two – Kings Canyon and Valley of the Winds, Kata Tjuta, both in the Northern Territory.
Favourite multi-day hike.
Only two multi day hikes were completed in the year. Tasmania’s Three Capes Track has some great scenery, comfortable lodging and is not overly difficult – fantastic for a walk with friends.
Russell Falls, Mt Field National Park, Tasmania – how can you go past a waterfall with a tree in the middle.
It wouldn’t be end of year review without contemplating what I learnt from all of our travel and experiences. So here are the important ones:
- Don’t snarkily tell your husband to get off the ground and out of the middle of the road after he has slipped on ice. It only leads to remorse and guilt when you later seeing that a bit of his elbow has visibly moved half way up his upper arm.
- You can see a hell of a lot of Australia if you leave the decision about where to go to a couple of Germans who: (a) didn’t quite understand Australian distances; (b) wanted to see “everything”; and (c) get the most out of every moment of every day. Thanks guys.
- Don’t always follow the rules. Every rule abiding bone of my body itched when at 4.10pm we passed the signs to Emma Gorge prohibiting entry into the gorge after 4pm. It paid off, however, when we had the place to ourselves and still manged to get out before dark.
- I still eat too much cake.
- Disappointingly (because life is a competition) it turns out I have less will power than my sister who has lost more than 30kg. Go Ness.
Thanks to everyone who joined us on our travels and to Marco for some of the photos (the better ones) for this post.