Sunday, June 29, 2014

Palm Valley

6 am and we swopped our 5 star luxury berth on the Ghan for this 4x4 bone shaker.

The first half of the journey was on metaled road after which we took off cross-country to find the aptly named Palm Valley.  This is the Australia of the travel brochure, arid, red and dangerously beautiful.

 Driving up the almost dry Finke River bed with the 4x4 nearly tipping over on the uneven rocks,
we got into the valley. The fauna here is a left over from the last time Australia's interior was a tropical forest, some   100,000,000 years ago.  

The palms survive thanks to the meager water supply in the valley which becomes a torrent on occasion.


We de-trained at Alice along with 10 or so other couples. There were 129 passengers on the 600 m train making for a very relaxed 24 hours.  Now the early mornings would start!!!

 The Tod River runs through Alice, although for most of the year it is just a river of sand.

 Gek in appropriate dress for the outback, blending in nicely with the landscape.

Not a lot of souls around, with only ghost gum tress for company

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The 1,000th Blog Post - The Ghan.

This is the 1,000th blog posted since I started our travel-blogging in March 2006, since which time Gek and I have  set up  home in 4 different  countries, visited an additional  10 countries, some more than twice, and traveled too many miles to count!!   This is our third visit to Australia, specifically to 'do' the Rail and Rock, ie, ride The Ghan Train and visit Uluru.

This is some train, with 29 carriages stretching back from the two engines for  600 metres, ie over half a kilometre!!  Thankfully, the dining cars are in the centre of the train.

The view for 1,500 km.  Very surreal with classical music as a soundtrack to the video that is your cabin window.

There are so many termite hills out there,  literally millions of them and they are the only hills for hundreds of kilometres in any direction.

One stop off and coach trip included in the Rail and Rock package on the way to Alice , is for the Katherine Gorge Cruise.  At the jetty to board our river transport, bats, big bats hang like fruits from the tree branches.

The Gorge.  The dry air and the bright sunlight plays havoc with your camera's metering, so dark and so bright in the same framing.  But at least one decent shot taken.  This is crocodile country. 

I didn't know that this was going to be our 1,000th blog but by some strange serendipity, here we two are at dinner on The Ghan.  This train ride is up there with our rail ride across the Gobi Desert which we did in 2008 and is a must do if you are ever in Australia's Northern Territory.  Loved every minute of it.

Darwin - Australia

Gek has been using the AirBnB home stay website to find our accommodation for this trip and has come up with smashing places to stay, some in a persons home, others in apartments where you are by yourself. This particular flat is the home of Ingrid and Dragos, a young couple both working as social workers in Darwin. Nice, yes? Great place to have your cornflakes.

A Darwen bus, oops, sorry, Darwin bus.  

The buses are easy to hop on and off, going all over the City as they do.  Darwin is unusual in that it is divided by its airport.  Lovely coast line all around the place.

Darwen High School by the beach?  I wish!!!  Are you shaped by your environment as you are growing up?  Darwen - smokey town of  30 cotton mill chimneys or Darwin - clean and airy town of beach, big skies and open desert.  Compare and contrast!!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Darwin - Australia

This is our third trip to Australia together, this one to 'do' the Ghan, an over night train from Darwin to Alice Springs and on the visit the Rock. Darwin is a very pleasant modern city.  Very relaxed after Penang.  This pic is of the new parliament building.

 Darwin is a working port with a fishing fleet.

Now, my home town, Darwen in Lanacashire also has fish and chip shops, but no mud crabs I think.  I google map searched Darwen and Darwin and found them to both be unique place names on our planet. Why is that? 

Very flat landscapes with big, big blue skies.

Down on the water front area, a place with nice eateries, park and wave pool.