Tag Archive | travel

Time For Reflection

On November 1, 1914 a flotilla of ships sailed out of King George Sound bound for the other side of the world. Little did the excited young men aboard know that, for many of them, these final views of Albany would be the last of Australia they would ever see. They were volunteers in the Australian Imperial Force and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and they were destined to become the first ANZACS. A memorial on Mt Clarence overlooks the harbour from which these young men departed.

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Apex Drive winds up from the harbour through the Avenue of Honour. Huge old gum trees, each with a plaque in memory of a soldier who never returned, line both sides of the road.

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From the car park a flight of steps leads to the summit of Mt Clarence. Along the way are story boards featuring quotes by soldiers who recorded their thoughts as they entered the conflict.

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The memorial is dedicated to the Desert Mounted Corps, including the famous Light Horse Brigades, who served in Egypt, Palestine and Syria. As well as Australians and New Zealanders, the Corps was made up of British, Indian and French mounted units. The bronze statue on top of a granite plinth depicts an Australian soldier helping his New Zealand comrade whose horse has been injured.

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The lookout near the memorial bears the name of the Reverend Arthur White, who led the first ever Anzac Day Dawn Service in Albany in 1930.

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It’s now 100 years since those eager young soldiers left Albany but their memory lives on at Mt Clarence and around Australia in the tradition of the Dawn Service each 25 April.

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Tiny Treasures

One of Western Australia’s major tourist attractions is wildflower season which peaks in swathes of glorious colour in spring. There are more than 12,000 species of wildflowers in the state and 60% of those are found nowhere else on Earth. Each region hosts its own variety of blossoms: we were at Ravensthorpe in the Fitzgerald Biosphere in the south-west of the state. Even in mid-winter, with some determined searching and a little luck, we found plenty of delicate blooms. Some are single, tiny flowers while others grow in large clusters, in all the colours of the rainbow.

All Hail The Sausage King!

There’s nothing like a tasty barbecued sausage, full of flavour and goodness. And if the sausage was made by the Sausage King of Western Australia it’s also an award winner.

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At the Beef on the Reef Butcher at Dunsborough Centrepoint Shopping Centre you can try and buy Western Australia’s 2014 Champion Sausage. Flavoured with onion, garlic, turmeric, ginger, chilli and spinach, the Balinese chicken sausage was first awarded State Champion Sausage at the Royal Perth Show in 2013. It went on to win second place in the National Sausage King Competition in February this year.

Asked if the sausages are spicy, Gede Rai, the creator of this gourmet delicacy, smiles and says: “If they weren’t spicy, they wouldn’t be Balinese.”

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There’s a new flavour being developed for this year’s competition – Satay chicken sausage. If Gede and his delicious sausages win at the Royal Perth Show at this weekend, they will travel to Adelaide in February next year to compete again at the National Competition.

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Good luck Gede! All hail the Sausage King!

Come Sailing With Me

In 1606 Captain Willem Janszoon and his crew sailed along the northern coast of Australia in the little Dutch ship Duyfken – Little Dove. They journeyed from the Spice Islands of the Dutch East Indies to the Gulf of Carpentaria and mapped 330 kilometres of the coastline of Cape York as they went. They made the first recorded European landing on the Australian mainland and met the local aboriginal people as they travelled along the previously uncharted coast.

To do some travelling of your own, take a trip back in time by visiting the replica Duyfken at Fremantle in Western Australia. The replica was built using traditional 17th century methods at the Western Australian Maritime Museum in the 1990s and the design came from three known sketches of the original Duyfken. It is berthed at the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour and when it’s not out on sailing expeditions the ship is open to the public.

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We are given a guided tour of the ship by volunteer guide Ellie who, like the Duyfken, is Dutch. She tells us about her childhood home in Amsterdam, built in the 1600s from the same durable timbers as the sailing ships. The ship is fully fitted out with rigging, sails, a masthead and maritime tools typical of the past.

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In the galley it’s as if the sailors are just about to come for a meal, and below decks in the hold there’s a load of precious cargo.

The floor of the hold is lined with Dutch bricks, carried as ballast before being sold in the East Indies, and chests and hessian sacks are filled to the brim with precious spices. Spices were highly prized and valuable and members of the crew were never allowed in the hold because of the risk of theft. “One bowl of nutmeg could buy a house in Amsterdam in the mid-1600s,” says Ellie.

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The musky scent of spices, the creaking of the rigging and the gentle lapping of water on the side of the ship all add to the feeling that we’ve left the 21st century behind. At any moment we might hear sailors calling as they raise the sails. The Duyfken is ready to leave on another voyage and we could be tempted to join the crew!

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You can go sailing on the Duyfken. Read more at www.duyfken.com

The Capital That Never Was

Canberra – it’s Australia’s national capital. The nation is governed from this city and it’s full of busy public servants and beautiful public buildings. Dalgety – it’s a tiny town in southern New South Wales with a population of just over 200. What could these two places possibly have in common? Surprisingly they share a historic link dating back to federation.

When the Constitution of Australia came into being on 1 January 1901, the six independent colonies of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania formed the nation of Australia. There was considerable  discussion about where to place the national capital, and both Sydney and Melbourne lobbied heatedly for the position until a compromise was reached. The Australian Capital Territory would be created with a new purpose-built city planned and constructed inside its boundaries. The search for a suitable site ended in southern New South Wales, where Canberra is now located.

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It’s a little known fact however that the site where Canberra was established was not the first choice for our capital city. In 1903 the small town of Dalgety was chosen as the location for the new national capital. Its position on the Snowy River and its mild climate made Dalgety the perfect place for a city of such importance, but the Parliament of New South Wales, in typical Sydney-Melbourne rivalry, complained that Dalgety was too close to Melbourne and too far from Sydney. In actual fact, it was situated almost exactly half way between, but Parliament got its way and a site only 288 km from Sydney and 647 km from Melbourne was selected.

Walter Burley Griffin and his wife Marion Mahony Griffin, architects from Chicago, won the contest to design the city and construction began in  1913. Today Canberra is a picturesque city of parks and gardens, monuments and government buildings with the beautiful lake named after Burley Griffin at its centre.

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The Australian War Memorial

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The flagpole over Parliament House

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The Captain Cook Memorial Jet on Lake Burley Griffin

Canberra’s forgotten rival, Dalgety, is a tiny town with a few permanent residents, a single hotel  and its original police station.

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The old police station, no longer in use

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Buckley’s Crossing Hotel, on the main street of Dalgety

 An imposing timber and iron bridge spans the gentle waters of the Snowy River but, apart from our vehicle, the wide main street is deserted.

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Dalgety Bridge

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The Snowy River

Canberra and Dalgety – they’re worlds apart but linked forever by a common thread going back a hundred years. Where would you choose to live?

Walking to the Top of Australia

When I was young, my family went on a caravanning holiday to the Snowy Mountains. While we were there we climbed Australia’s highest mountain, Mt Kosciuszko. Dad was able to drive to within 700 metres of the peak, and we left the car at Rawson’s Pass to walk up the track to the top.

That was more than 40 years ago and things have changed since then. Now, the closest car park to Mt Kosciuszko is at the alpine village of Thredbo and the mountain is almost 7 kilometres away. Thredbo is 1370 metres above sea level and it’s almost another 1000 metres higher at the summit.

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The journey to the top of Australia begins with the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift and it’s not just hikers who take advantage of the easy way up.

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There are 35 kilometres of mountain bike trails in the area and thrill-seekers take their bikes up on the chairlift and ride the twisting mountain trails down to the valley floor at hair-raising speeds.

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In contrast the chairlift takes 15 minutes to travel the 1.8 kilometres to the top of the ridge.

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A footbridge across Merritts Creek marks the start of the walking track to the summit and from here it’s a 6.5 kilometre hike, most of which is reasonably level. The metal pathway is raised off the ground and allows walkers to enjoy the heathland and alpine vegetation without causing any damage.

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DSCN1813Mt Kosciuszko, still bearing patches of snow in mid-summer, first appears in the distance about a third of the way along the track. From the Kosciuszko Lookout the mountain looks no higher than the surrounding peaks and has none of the craggy appearance of other peaks in the world. These ranges are some of the oldest on Earth and over millions of years they have worn away so that the highest point is only 2228 metres above sea level.

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The walking track makes its way across the alpine slopes past the headwaters of the Snowy River and Lake Cootapatamba, Australia’s highest lake and one of its five glacial lakes, to Rawson’s Pass where it meets up with that old road I remember.

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From there, it’s a short but steep walk up the original track for the last 1.67 kilometres. It spirals around the mountain until, finally, the summit is up ahead.

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For the second time in my life I’m standing on the top of Australia. It’s a great feeling…now I just have to walk back to Thredbo again.

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The Palace of the Nation

At the northern end of the Parc Royal in Brussels on Rue de la Roi stands an elegant, neoclassical building set behind a high wrought iron fence.

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We knew it was a building of importance because there was a security guard on duty at the gate, but nowhere could we find a sign to explain the significance of the building. The guard, sensing our curiosity, and perhaps feeling a little curious himself, came over to talk to us.

He explained that the building was the Federal Parliament, home to the government of Belgium. His pride in this beautiful building, known as the Palace of the Nation, was evident as he spoke of its history and its magnificent interior. “You must do a tour of the Parliament,” he told us. “It’s full of gold inside.”

This was an unexpected opportunity too good to pass up so we walked for quite a distance around to the visitors’ entrance on the other side of the building. What the guard had neglected to tell us was that we needed our passports as proof of identity in order to enter the Parliament. Luckily we were carrying our drivers’ licences with photo ID and the guards on the security desk at the door were satisfied with those. So with photocopies made and paperwork signed, we were finally able to join a tour.

When Belgium’s provisional government was formed in 1830 the National Congress took up residence in the Parliament building. The government investigated different parliamentary structures and finally chose to follow the Westminster system. The two houses of Parliament are decorated accordingly, with the Chamber of Representatives in green and the Senate in red.

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The staircases on either side of the peristyle are also colour coded. The green one leads to the Chamber of Representatives and the red staircase to the Senate.

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Along the corridors are meeting rooms and small offices, complete with beautiful paintings showing historical sittings of the Parliament and chandeliers covered with gold leaf.

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That friendly guard on the gate was right. The Palace of the Nations truly is a beauty, and if he hadn’t told us we would have missed it. Weren’t we lucky!

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