Saturday, August 16, 2014

London skyline from a sky bar...

My publisher, Orbit, had a 40 year birthday bash at Grange St Paul's Hotel, in the Sky Bar. Apart from meeting my present editor, publicist and other many Orbit folk for the first time, which was lovely, there was also this:
And a breathtaking view of St Paul's in the evening light. Everything around here was burned in the Blitz, but St Paul's escaped -- because of the hard work and dedication of the people who protected it night after night from incendiary bombs.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I am in London...

I am now in London after a looooong journey.
However, I was reminded that air travel can also be quite pleasant. The first leg of the journey lacked passengers -- in my section of the plane there were about 10 vacant seats per passenger. Which made a huge difference to comfort for 12 plus hours in the air.

So many thanks to Sian, Nicole, Sinead and Nesma of Emirates for a pleasant flight!

Friday, August 01, 2014

On the road in the Pilbara

 After a last look at the Cape Range National Park at Exmouth, we took a look at Pebble Beach, which was exactly as described, and left behind the peninsular behind (if you want to see emus and kangaroos in the wild, by the way, this whole area is the place to go! They were everywhere.)

Another long drive.
More blue skies.
More red soil.
More straight roads.
More lack of traffic.

Until just before the next town of Karratha.

Where we met a train. A couple of kilometres -- or maybe miles of it -- crossing the road. 

The train carries iron ore. Nothing else.

 And so the road train and us had to wait.

And wait.

A long time.
Road trains -- all three huge pieces of them -- can be carrying anything from tires the size of a room to ... well, the rooms big enough to contain tires that size. This guy was stopped by the train. The cab with its driver is a long way in front of us.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Charles Knife Gorge: Cape Range N.P. (Exmouth)

Gorge. Not Canyon. (see my comment below)
Land slips -- each gash perhaps 4m - 6 m high
More land slips... the blue in the distance is the sea
Couldn't find out the origin of the name... who was Charles Knife?
Sea and sky ... that's not a road, but a river bed
Note our car, top right
My sister sketched; I wrote
Yep, that's the sea in the distance
Looking towards Learmouth
Near here 1st significant oil flow found in Australia: Rough Range

 One irritating thing I have begun to notice about terminology -- Australian tourist brochures calling gorges "canyons".  Canyon has its origins in American Spanish. It is an American term for American landforms. 

I would not apply the word arroyo to an Australian gorge; why use the word "canyon"? (I don't call the boot of my car the trunk, either.) Gorge has European ancestry, and as such it has always been the choice of the first non-indigenous Australians. If we want to change it, then the logical thing would be to find out if there is an appropriate indigenous term, not decide to use an American one.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cape Range National Park, Ningaloo World Heritage Area

Exmouth ... still working on the copy edit!

The area sprang to fame during the cold war because of the US base there keeping a watch on what the Russians were up to.

Now it is better known for the swimming with whale sharks, the manta rays, one of the longest fringing coral reefs, game fishing out to sea, turtles, whale watching, wildlife and gorges...

We were a little unlucky in that there had been some floods a few months earlier, which meant we coudn't get into some sites.
Still, there are kilometres of pristine beaches and reefs...Sometimes complete with pelicans (below)...
Or a teenager (below) reading Book 1 of The Hunger Games... ( I asked her)
Or a family (below), a whole beach to themselves and their sand castle...

Or an Reef Heron with an entire bay to itself... and on the right, one of the many pairs of Ospreys in the area, this nest on the Visitor Centre tower. 

Above: a view from the Lighthouse...of the Lighthouse caravan park ...
The Vlamingh Head Lighthouse, built 1911, decommissioned 1967.
The Exmouth Naval Communication Station, above, was particularly valuable to maintain communications with the submarine fleet. At one time, the tallest of these towers was the second tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere! 387.6m ... and able to withstand a N.W. cyclone wind of up to 500 km per hr.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


The Cape Range National Park has more than just the coast and the sea to offer visitors. There's also the gorges.

That's my sister middle right, to give an idea of scale. Ospreys were nesting in that gash in the rock (see next pix),  the corellas were hiding in cliff face holes and a single Nankeen Ketrel drifted past...

 We are in the land of spinifex grass, and anthills ...

A riverboat edges its way up the gorge.

We were lucky to spot the Black-footed Rock Wallabies, very rare; this is one of the few places they are found. Unfortunately, although I had a great view through binoculars, the camera shot was difficult as they kept hopping around and disappearing...

Our exploration of Yardie Gorge ended with a picnic lunch at the beginning of the trail, where the lovely Crested Pigeons acted like town pigeons in a park...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Termite mounds

On the way from Coral Bay to Exmouth

Close ups of the exterior of the termite's nest above...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Coral Bay

 Yesterday my post showed our modest rig on the road. This is what it looked like at one of our numerous stopovers.
 The beds are pulled out at either end. And yes, this time I really am doing that copyedit...

Coral Bay is a pretty place -- mostly camping sites and caravan parks! -- and a dreamy coastline which is all part of the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area.

The snorkelling is supposed to be pretty good, but the wind made it rather unsettled while we were there.

 Still, I love just walking a long the beach and seeing what's to be found.

Like the bits and pieces of the reef washed up on the shore...

Or the variety of seashells, limpets, periwinkles, oysters and such. And by the way, it is no longer considered proper to remove anything from a beach, anywhere -- not just within national parks, even empty shells or stones.

This notice tickled my fancy...

Of course, it was talking about the sanctuary for reef sharks in the sea, not on the sand dunes where the sign was. Black-tipped, white-tipped and grey reef sharks can be sighted here at certain times of the year.

And no, I wouldn't want to disturb them.

Gorgeous stretches of beaches and white coral sands...

And birds. These were Crested Terns, the huge Caspian Terns and the ubiquitous Silver Gulls.

The interesting thing about the photo though is that long line of white in the distance. That's the rough swell rolling in from Africa to crash against the offshore reefs. The graveyard of many ships.

Of course, I was doing my share of birding. I stopped to snap a couple of young Welcome Swallows on a log on the beach, only to realise they were being fed by Mum & Dad. I then attempted to catch the feeding in the act, only to find that the adults fed the young in flight. That is they flew past shoving the food down the gullet of the young in passing, so to speak. Remarkable dexterity. One of the youngsters then decided that was fun and started flying so he or she could be fed while in flight as well.
Young above and below -- note the open beak of the top youngster!

The grass is Beach Spinifex.