Monthly Archives: June 2017

Australia – Adelaide – “the little city that can”

Two days in Adelaide to sleep in a “non rattling bed” after three nights on the train. I slept very well. 

As I know the city quite well I signed up for a foodie tour which had me trying four different restaurants for savouries and a final creperie for dessert. Very enjoyable as the group was fun – and included locals too. My favourite was the escargot en gratin at The Delicatessen so had to go back today for lunch so that I could have a full plate that I didn’t need to share with anyone! (I’m an only child!). Followed by one of my favourites – steak tartare.  Along the way (back on the foodie tour) there was a nice selection of street art in the Laneways which are being developed to look a bit like the Melbourne scene – so far so good. I think it will be really helpful to keep central Adelaide vibrant at night. 

Foodie tour in Adelaide that of course started outside the Haigh’s chocolate flagship shop.

After an evening of food tasting it seemed appropriate to end my visit with a day of wine tasting. This one focussed on the nearby Adelaide Hills and was using a company called Hills Luxury Day tours so only five of us which made it more leisurely. I especially enjoyed Pike and Joyce’s gurner veltliner and Goldings Shiraz so although I’m trying to reduce my wine collection pre moving from my apartment I bought a bottle of each. 

Wineries in the Adelaide Hills

Back home for a couple of days and then away for another long trip. 

Watch this space. 

Australia, SA – More of Cooper Pedy – or have I landed on the moon? 

Cooper Pedy has been the highlight of the places I’ve visited while on the Ghan. There is something about it that is somehow appealing – maybe precisely because it shouldn’t be. You have to live underground; the landscape is definitely lunar-like and many sci-fi films have been made here; the mounds of shallow opal mines look like aliens have landed; they have a dog fence that runs across much of Australia (?!) and all the locals we met were real characters with a tough but friendly outback demeanour. Certainly no whingers here – and I really liked that. 

Cooper Pedy is also well known as “opal capital of the world” as it is the source of over 85%of the world’s opals and of course I thought it only polite to indulge in a purchase. I’ve also learned that finding opals is basically down to hard work and good luck. As a result some people have quickly become millionaires but most have not but they like it out here and they keep looking. Only $70 for a mining licence for 50 X 100 metres so anyone can stake a claim.

My opals from the source at Cooper Pedy

And here is what the moon might look like from some lookouts in an area known as the Breakaways. 

The Breakaways, Cooper Pedy

The Breakaways with “Salt and Pepper” hills and the opal mine stacks

Australia, SA – Ghan and the incredible “Opal Capital of the World”- Cooper Pedy

Here’s a quick video of what it was like looking out of my bed this morning on the Ghan.

Sunrise near Cooper Pedy


Had a fascinating day in Cooper Pedy where 70% of the inhabitants live underground to maintain a pleasant 24 degree temperature come Winter or Summer. These photos show some examples of underground living and the mines. It is very dark when the lights are turned off. We even had our Greek lunch 45 feet underground. 

Living under ground in Cooper Pedy and I meet the ghost of an opal miner

Next stop was an underground Serbian Orthodox Church. Only built 25 years ago and already no longer in use except for once or twice a year. 

Serbian church, Cooper Pedy

Australia, NT – Top to Bottom – taking the Ghan from Darwin to Adelaide

About four years ago I travelled the Indian Pacific train from “left to right” or from Perth to Sydney. 

This time I wanted to travel from top to bottom and so it was time for the Ghan from Darwin to Adelaide over three days and theee nights. 

The Ghan now has a trip called the Ghan Experience which includes longer stopovers in Katherine Gorge, Alice Springs and Cooper Pedy – all places I hadn’t seen before. So I joined the 39  carriage train – always entertaining to watch drivers faces when they are stuck at a level crossing waiting for us to go through – they know it’s going to be a long wait:)

About to board the famous Ghan train

Katherine Gorge is very remote and not easy to get to so it was nice to disembark the train and float through two different gorges on a beautiful sunny day. 

Feeling very small in the shadows of the giant gorges at Katherine

Second stop was three walks around the Alice Spring’s area (much needed after a lot of good food on the train) including Simson’s Gap. I particularly loved the Ghost Gum Tree. 

Australia, NT – The rarely visited Kakadu and Arnhem Land

The not so friendly beaches around Darwin

Highlight of this trip was a day I’d planned flying over the Kakadu and Arnhem Land with a stop for a boat trip through the wetlands. Although I’ve visited Darwin a few times it has always been during the wet season when it has been unbearably hot and humid – so I cannot express how much more pleasant it is at this time of year. Warm and sunny but much less humidity. 
Arrived in Darwin yesterday – apparently it has a Harbour that is four times the size of Sydney but despite such prime real estate there are very few people who live on the water – flooding, cyclones and crocs make that unwise!

Here’s Darwin from the plane.Then this morning I moved from a big Qantas plane to a small Cessna – as I love flying (or rather being flown) this was very exciting for me and I got to sit at the front with the pilot (there are quite a few advantages to traveling solo). 

Arriving in Darwin from Uluru

The plane and our very tiny airport strip in Cooinda. Still, at least no waiting at immigration required

Tiny plane and teeny airports abound in the Kakadu

And here are some scenes from Arnhem Land and the Wetlands that we flew over. A bit bumpy at times so not always easy to take a picture but best effort and still impressive. This is all national park and is 2/3 of the size of the whole to Tasmania – we were in and over it for a full day and apparently only saw 15% of it.Watch out for crocs tomorrow – I get up much too close for comfort but live to tell the tale. Ps. Crocs freak me out. 

The wetlands and rocks of the Kakadu and Arnhem Land. Spectacular

Australia, NT – Uluru – This does feel like a sacred place

Another wonderful day in Uluru visiting the rock and catching if from different angles, lights and colours and then the joy of yet another amazing sunset in the desert – every night is stunning but last night was particularly lovely as there were some clouds in the sky causing a vast expanse of colour and drama over 30 blissful minutes. 

Love being here again. It’s one of those places that is even better than you expect it to be – and those are rare.

 Next stop Darwin.

Awe inducing Uluru – somewhere everyone should try and visit once

Sunset in Uluru June 18, 2017

Australia, NT – Field of Light – Uluru

The field of Light designed by British light installation artist Bruce Munro was an amazing vision. 50,000 separate light rods covering the equivalent of 4 soccer fields and completely solar powered appeared as if placed by sprites as dusk fell and darkness took over. They were different heights and different colours and changed colours very subtly. The whole effect was quite beautiful and we were able to stroll through the fields once it was totally dark to really appreciate the effect. It was spectacular but like the equally spectacular natural show of stars in the sky it is very hard to capture the overall effect on camera. One of those things you have to remember best in your head but I had a go.

Bruce Munro’s Field of Light in Uluru

Emma and Susie fortify themselves with champagne

And after seeing a wonderful night time of lights, I woke up to yet another spectacular show of nature as the sun rose over the desert.

Australia , NT – Mystery over – just arrived in Uluru

Staying at Desert Gardens Hotel and this is the view that greeted me when I checked into my room. It’s been six years since I last visited but I’ve never forgotten how truly awesome and humbling this area is. So I’m really excited to be back. Tonight we’re off to see the art installation Field of Light by Bruce Munro which has been so successful that it has been extended by a year and is a key reason for my visit. 

Now off for a pre Field of Light drink with Emma.

Uluru always impressive – this is an 3.30pm

Australia, Victoria, Melbourne – NGV – Ian Potter Centre

Continuing my efforts to be a tourist in my home city I found myself wondering through the Ian Potter Centre on Flinders Street. I hadn’t been for a long time so I walked through the whole thing and as ever there were two paintings in particular that kept drawing me back. Although before I get to those, I would be remiss in not mentioning the “Who’s afraid of Colour” exhibit which was not at all what I expected (in a good way). 

Anyway, I kept coming back to two John Brack paintings – the first is called 5pm on Collins Street and is dated 1955 and the second is called The Bar and dated 1954 O(when apparently bars had to close by 6pm so it is no wonder everyone is heading out with a mission in the first paining)! I live close to Collins Street so know exactly where the first painting is set and wonder if much has changed? Maybe those crowds are more likely at 6pm and no more hats on the men but thankfully more women in the crowd. Do people still look that miserable?

As for the lady at the bar – clearly you wouldn’t want to mess with her but she also retains a particular charm which made me smile – and check out those fab earrings.