NEWSFLASH! My book hits the road! Did you miss my Channel 7 Weekend Sunrise 'Downunder Dunnies' appearance? Watch the Video HERE!


5 Cool BLUE and 5 RED Hot Aussie TOP SPOTS!

Roebuck Bay, Broome, Western Australia

Is BLUE the new RED?

It is downunder where blue and red have been interchangeable for YEARS!

But before you start thinking us Aussies are a nation of colour-blind fools, it's all due to the colloquial contrariness that means we call things the opposite to what they are. So a tall person becomes 'Shorty'. A skinny person becomes 'Fatso'. And a REDhead becomes 'Blue'!

Makes perfect sense. Right?

Lake Argyle, via Kununurra, Western Australia

SO ... although Australia is RED and HOT, it softens round the edges into COOL and BLUE along the coastline and inland where there's a strange blue haze, largely caused by eucalyptus oil, smoke – and possibly language ...

Just to prove I CAN tell the difference, come with me to FIVE each of my top Coolest BLUE and the Hottest RED spots downunder!

Of course 'COOL' and 'HOT' don't always refer to the temperature …

So where do you start looking for the COOLest Cool Blue places on the largest island on earth with the longest coastline of any country in the world? Right HERE! Use my handy round-Australia location guide – complete with 5 star BLUE factor ratings – to uncover five of the coolest, BLUEST experiences in OZ!

Evans River, Evans Head, North New South Wales

1. Blue RIVER at Evans Head

The Evans River in the New South Wales Northern Rivers district isn't Australia's longest, deepest or fastest flowing. But on this day it was surely in the running to be its bluest! Not quite blue enough for you? Head high above the breakwall to the Razorback Lookout for more, with the sea, the sky and distant mountains all contributing to this rhapsody in blue!

Too BLUE for this old film camera ... Evans Head, NSW
Get a blue fix while you take a break from the crowds at more well known tourist hot spots Ballina and Byron Bay, just up the coast.
 And while you can't see the excellent bakery or Scenic Public Toilet while you're gazing out to sea, you CAN use all that BLUE to the max by fishing, swimming, boating – and whale-watching!

If that sounds like too much effort, just sit back, relax and enjoy some COOL Blue time out!

COOL BLUE rating: 

Clear BLUE water at Bitter Springs Thermal Pools via Mataranka, Northern Territory

2. Blue POOLS at Bitter Springs

The BLUE waters of the Bitter Springs thermal pools near Mataranka in the Northern Territory aren't cool at all. Loaded with minerals that give new meaning to 'sculpted hairdo' as they rise from the depths of the earth, the water is HOT.

Drifting at Bitter Springs Thermal Pool, Northern Territory

But although the daytime temperature regularly tops 30+ in the Top End, nights can be coolish during the Aussie winter. Cool enough for steam to rise from the stream connecting the three main pools – deserted at this time of day – and cool enough for us to dive right in and drift downstream from pool to pool before the morning rush.

I tried not to think about travellers who used the pools for washing themselves and their clothes in lieu of paying caravan park fees … but luckily at this time of day I'm guessing they were all still curled up in their combi vanss!!

The deep relaxation as the warm mineral waters soothed away our aches and pains (relaxing IS hard work!) kept us doing the three-pool-drift circuit for hours. HOT BLUE? Too COOL!

COOL BLUE rating: 

Daly Head, Southern Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

3. Wild Blue Yonder at Daly Heads

This autumn day down the other end of the country at the southern extremity of South Australia's SouthernYorke Peninsula had created a symphony of stunning scenery – blue haze, blue sea; row after row of blue swirling breakers, blue, blue sky.

Yes, the staggering view that inspired TheMagnificent Emptiness stretched out before us into the wild blue yonder. The impressive blue array looked (and felt – with the autumn wind-chill factor) pretty COOL from our vantage point atop the wooden staircase plunging down the cliff to the beach below ...

(NOT ME) Hang gliding at Daly Head, Southern Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

But how much more COOL to see that marvellous blue expanse from above?

COOL BLUE rating: 

The BLUE Grampians rising above the Canola fields, Victoria

4. Blue MOUNTAINS … the Grampians

Away from the blue drawcard of Australia's coastline, the mighty Grampians rise above the bakery-dotted landscape of country Victoria, their astonishing BLUE silhouette visible for miles.

And here in this mountainous region, cool means COOL! Signs at the base of the Mt William climb warn that snow may fall at any time of year on its 1167 metre summit!! As Pilchard and his family found out one long-ago fairly recent childhood December (the height of the Southern Hemisphere summer) when they built their first and only a snowman.

Lake Bellfield and Halls Gap from Lake Wartook Lookout, Grampians, Victoria

Like most Aussie mountain ranges, the sun warms and shines through the evaporating oil from the gum trees, causing a blue haze over the peaks, lakes and other geographic formations my wasted years at school mean I'm unable to name. Nameless or not, however, the haze contributes to the staggering BLUE views from the many lookouts dotted throughout the ranges.

COOL BLUE rating: 

Just a tiny part of Lake Argyle, via Kununurra, Western Australia

5. Blue LAKE … Lake Argyle

A drowned Kimberley mountain range, home of the pioneering Duracks, one of Australia's most impressive engineering feats and the biggest, bluest lake it's been my pleasure to view all contribute to the cool BLUE appeal of magical Lake Argyle!

A cruise in the early morning calm of this gob-smackingly, mind-bogglingly enormous 10,763 gigalitre lake covering 1000 km² and 21 times bigger than Sydney Harbour is so full of outstanding landscapes I almost forgot to take photos. ALMOST!

If this is the Western Australian wilderness, then bring it on!

Infinity Pool at Lake Argyle Resort, Western Australia
The presence of permanent water after the Ord River Dam was completed in 1972 turned the once-arid land downstream into an agricultural oasis. But the dam itself remains a haven for the birds and wildlife that inhabit the islands – now all that's left of the mountain range beneath its waters.

And on a clear day, the blue upon blue upon blue of the lake, the sky and the infinity pool at the resort is just too COOL for words ...

COOL BLUE rating: 

But what's Cool Blue without RED? The BLUE blue waters of Broome's Roebuck Bay are often tinged with the RED Pindan of the earth beneath …

So what better vision to take us from COOL BLUE into RED HOT??

Red Tide at Broome, Western Australia

But … not here!

You'll have to go into the RED zone over at Annabel Candy' travel blog Get In the Hot Spot if you want to see my five favourite RED HOT AussieOutback Places!
Then let me know: IS blue REALLY the new red??!!

AND ... for more wonderful travel shots from around the world, visit the Budget Travellers Sandbox for Travel Photo Thursday!

Loving these COOOOOOOL Blues?  Own your own piece of Cool Blue OZ!  Click HERE to visit my CafePress shop for exclusive Aussie products!


1000 Words About ... Duckweed!

Lake Lonsdale with Duckweed, Grampians, Victoria

I couldn't believe my luck!  Lake Lonsdale, deep in the heart of Victoria's wonderful Grampians region, was red!!  RED!!!

A perfect placement of ... Duckweek?  How cool is that?!

But wait!  There's more!!

A wondrous array of dead tree silhouettes; clear blue sky with just enough cloud to be interesting; distant mountains; a perfect reflective surface.  All off-set by that AWESOME red.  Who knew that plain old Duckweed could do things like THAT to a photo?

My trigger shutter-button finger was itching.

Be still, my beating heart ...

Weekend Reflections shows reflections from around the world WITHOUT duckweed, if you can believe that's possible!!  Check 'em out HERE!


Say it with ... Toilets! Australia's Scenic Public Toilet #28

Scenic Public Toilet #28 - South Australia/Northern Territory Border

The convoluted maze of tracks, walkways, parking spaces and picnic spots at the South Australia/ Northern Territory border makes it difficult to determine exactly which state is responsible for this nouveau-classic Aussie Outback Dunny!

Welcome to South Australia - Hope you went before you came!
But my money's on the Northern Territory.

Because after driving 900+ km through the South Australian Outback along the Stuart Highway from PortAugusta to the border, it's unlikely that South Australia's toilet-free-public-rest-area policy would suddenly change!

Isn't it?!

The Silver Bullet at the SA/NT Border, June 2012
Signs along South Australia's remote northern highway attempt to reduce the road toll by encouraging travellers to take a break if sleepy; and even more ominously warn that drowsy drivers die. But taking a relief break without any privacy from passing traffic for one's enforced squat in the dust just isn't the relaxing diversion it should be!

Is it?!

Although maybe there's a subtle psychological undertone because crossing ones legs possibly does provide an added incentive to staying awake!

Even so, it's a welcome relief (in more ways than one!) to arrive at the border crossing point – and re-enter civilisation via an actual building in which to do your business.
The Northern Territory from the SA/NT Border Crossing Loo!

THAT'S what's scenic about THIS loo!!

And that's why the SA/NT Border Crossing Public Amenities made the cover of my all-original AmazingAussie Loos with Awesome Scenic Views Calendar, exclusively available through my CafePress Shop!!

Inside, there's 12 months of both never-before-seen Scenic Loo shots, as well as a selection of old favourites from my Australia's Scenic Public Toilets series. All tasteful, of course!

Choose your own start-month (and year!) for a perfect gift solution for those pesky hard-to-buy-for people ALL year round!

Of course you can choose a traditional January - December calendar gift.  But why not start the calendar in the person's Birth Month to create a more personal Birthday Year calendar?  Or start it in May for a Mother's Day Year or September for a Father's Day Year memento??  Or even as a Financial Year record???

A Countdown Calendar ending in the month of a big event like an overseas trip, sporting meet, house purchase or other significant milestone will make a fun keepsake that'll last forever!

Or just get one for yourself and WOW your guests with your imaginative decorating brilliance in the smallest room in your house ...

Ordering from CafePress is EASY!  Just click HERE to get started!!

And look out for more exclusive Amazing Australian Adventures products coming soon!!


At the 2231 Kilometre Mark Across Australia!

Half Way Across Australia - or is it??!!  Kimba, South Australia
The 4000 km drive across Australia* is such a LOOOONG way even getting halfway is an achievement.

The small town of Kimba, deep in the South Australian Outback on the Eyre Peninsula, leaves Cross-Australia travellers in no doubt that they've reached this significant milestone. If you don't feel a photo coming on when you reach the 'Half Way across Australia' sign, you've got WAAAY more willpower than I!

It's all happening at the half-way-across-Australia mark!  Tourist Shop, Bakery AND the BIG GALAH!!

And depending on which way you're travelling, just up (or down) the road is the 'Half Way Across Australia Tourist Gift Shop and Bakery'! Even the most jaded traveller would be tempted to stop here, wouldn't they?

But on the off chance you've driven right past the sign AND you're unaccountably tempted to skip the tourist gift shop and/or bakery, chances are Kimba's other BIG attraction at the halfway marker will reel you in.
The Big Galah, Kimba, South Australia

Because you can't miss the Big Galah!

The eight metre*** high statue of this iconic Australian bird outside the gift shop is what's known in tourism parlance as a 'sure thing'. By the time you get to Kimba from any direction, chances are you've already driven through a whole lot of nothing – with a whole lot more to come!
Half Way?  Kimba, South Australia
So the Big Galah**** and the attendant plethora of tourist drawcards awaiting your 'pleasure' will likely be an irresistable lure – for the photo opportunities alone!

But is Kimba REALLY half way across Australia?

It is – at least according to the Half Way sign, the Eyre Peninsula tourist guide and several websites promoting the town and region, all of which conveniently fail to provide any distances to support their claims. Although the website indicates the measurement to be 'as the crow flies'**

According to Google Maps the distance from Perth to Sydney is 3934 km by road. It calculates the shortest road distance from Sydney to Kimba at ~1700 km, and from Kimba to Perth ~2230 km. Even taking the longest possible route from Sydney via Melbourne brings the Sydney-Kimba leg to only ~1900 km – still less than half, especially as the distance to Perth then also becomes greater than 4000km.

And while measuring 'as the crow flies' would decrease the Kimba-Perth leg, it would also decrease the Kimba-Sydney leg.

Grotesque?  NO!  It's the Big Galah!  Kimba, South Australia
Perhaps Kimba is the CLOSEST town to the magic 1977 km half way mark? No – other towns of varying sizes between Kimba and the oblivion of the Nullarbor – such as Ceduna, Wirrulla and Poochera would have greater claim to half way honours if it's a matter of road distance.

So why Kimba? Maybe Kimba just thought of it first – then travellers, grateful for something to break their long journey don't question the sign's authenticity OR the inexplicable presence of a Big Galah!

And unless you're travelling from Sydney to Kimba and back again, you'll pass the halfway point somewhere down the road anyway.

So lets keep this a secret, shall we?!?!

A REAL Galah (Eolophus roseicapillus) for comparison purposes!

Want more information?

* From Perth (Western Australia) to Sydney (New South Wales)
** 'As the Crow Flies' = shortest distance between two points
*** 8 metres = 8 ¾ yards
**** I've included a photo of a REAL galah for comparison purposes

Visit Wild Bird Wednesday for more wild birds from around the world - but I'll bet no one else could find anything quite as 'tasteful' as the Big Galah!!

AND ... for a great variety of both accurate and inaccurate signs from around the world, visit Signs, Signs!

Wind, Water and the Lost Art of Whale-Sexing!

Whale with calf at Head of Bight, Nullarbor Plain, South Australia

The dry, dusty and unseasonally hot wind that had kept our fuel consumption at an all time high swept us out of the car, whistled around our ankles and bent us double until anchored by our lunch bag we landed in the shelter shed.

The Nullarbor Plain through the windscreen, South Australia
With any luck, being behind the windbreak would stop our sandwiches filling with sand.

Despite the thrill that came with being on one of the largest Karst landforms in the world, and traversing 90 mile Straight (Australia's longest), so far our virgin crossing of the famous Nullarbor plain wasn't really doing it for us.

Even the Scenic Public Toilets* were few and far between. Although there were probably more loos than trees (Null = zero, arbor = tree, geddit?) …

34ยบ C and winds that bent us double. No campsites out of the wind along the way. And a LOOOOONG way to go across the bite-shaped Great Australian Bight that stretches along a third or more of the southern coastline. Hell, we weren't even half-way across Australia! We almost didn't stop.
Bright Blue Bight View!  Great Australian Bight, South Australia
And now, as we lurked behind the wind break, the killer wind was blowing in the exact right direction to sweep us off the cliffs at the Head of Bight Interpretive Centre. Death-by-cliff-top didn't really appeal, even if the Bunda Cliffs ARE the longest line of cliffs in the world …

The path led through the Interpretive Centre (where we paid our fee) then down to the viewing platforms nestled in the cliffs. Our visit to one of the largest Southern Right Whale breeding grounds and nurseries in the world had better be worthwhile after the dramas we'd faced to get there.

And on a whale viewing platform above the Great Southern Ocean** in peak creche season (May to October), that meant there'd better be whales.

Head of Bight Boardwalk, Nullarbor Plain, South Australia

As our wind-assisted passage down the path towards the boardwalks, the bluer than blue water visible over the clifftops stretched far off to an even bluer horizon, unmarred by the black submarine shapes we'd already suffered so much to see.

Bunda Cliffs, Great Australian Bight, South Australia

May as well have just flushed the AUD$12 entry fee down the toilet, I thought as I grimly pushed back against the wind still determined to see me off the cliffs and into the Bight.

Still, I could feel a photo coming on when I saw the boardwalk against the magnificent coastal scenery. I slowed down for the inevitable shot as Pilchard continued down the track.

Then I heard it!

'It's a boy!' a wind-blown traveller exclaimed as she emerged onto the cliff top and drew level with Pilchard. 'Look down there!' Pilchard looked, then turned to me and beckoned excitedly.

Bunda Cliffs up close, Great Australian Bight, South Australia
'Forget that photo! It's much better down here!!' he cried, as the helpful tourist pointed over the cliff edge and down to the sea. I raced towards them, camera at full stretch and ready for anything.

And there, below us in the water, wallowing RIGHT below us in the water was a whale and her calf. As we both watched (and one of us photographed wildly) the calf put on a fine display directly from the whale-watching handbook.

But one thing was puzzling me. I turned to the helpful traveller.

'How can you tell it's a boy?' I asked, intrigued.

Whale calf at play, Head of Bight, South Australia

'Well, just look at how he's showing off!' she replied, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.  Which perhaps it was.  Is.

Half an hour later, as we reluctantly returned to the hot, dry and dusty Nullarbor, our memory of the spectacular sight of at least 30 whales with calves swimming along the cliffs obscured by one little show off.

Synchronised swimming with mum!  Whales at Head of Bight, Nullarbor Plain, South Australia

Years of corporate life failed to equip me with the skills required for whale-sexing, so I am unable to confirm if our friendly guide's assessment of this little whale's gender was correct.

But, until a more accurate explanation – or a more highly qualified whale-sexer – comes along to disprove it, I'll accept her conclusion.

Somehow I think I'll be waiting for quite some time ...

Want More Information?

* Enjoy Aussie Scenic Public Toilets all year round! Click HERE to find out how!!

**As it is known to us Aussies – according to the Eyre Peninsula tourist guide, the rest of the world calls it the Indian Ocean!

For worldwide watery wonders, dive into Natures Footstep Waters!

Good Times @ Gantheaume Point - Broome, Western Australia

High Tide at Gantheaume Point, Broome, Western Australia
Is high tide the best time to see the amazing rich red soil, and the coloured layers of the rocks against the astonishing blue sea at Broome's Gantheaume Point?

Pindan at Gantheaume Point, Broome, WA
Well … maybe! Broome's iconic point, at the northern end of the 22km white sand curve of world famous Cable Beach, is a stunning scenic masterpiece during the strong light of day.
Osprey with fish
Osprey on rocks
The lighthouse, set on the rocks above the point, marks a spectacular and ever-changing vista as ospreys feed their young on the nest in the lighthouse framework, tourists conduct impromptu photoshoots and fishermen try their luck from the rocks below.

Broome, in Western Australia's north-west, is a rare combination of outback and coastal landscapes, where the Kimberley meets the coast in a startling shock of colour from the dramatic contrast of red soil and rock of Pindan country with clay-coloured ocean so blue it looks like it's sucked all the colour from the sky.

Gantheaume Point Lighthouse looking towards Cable Beach, Broome, Western Australia

But with Broome having one of the largest tidal movements in the southern hemisphere, Gantheaume Point's low tide view is an intriguing alternative.

Dinosaur Footprints, Gantheaume Point
Coral, Gantheaume Point
At tides lower than 2.16 metres, climb down to explore the rocky – and slippery – platform that emerges below the lighthouse.
Amongst the live coral, seaweed and rock pools, look for the dinosaur footprints that show where Megalosauropus Broomensis and others once roamed.

Viewing the point from below gives an entirely different perspective to the views from the vantage points above – and is therefore a photo opportunity not to be missed!

Gantheaume Point from rock platform at low tide, Broome, Western Australia

Just down the harbour road and around the corner on the point's southern side is yet another perspective, with rock formations stretching all the way down the coast. The 'Bingle-Bingles' are a miniature – and far more easily accessible – alternative to Western Australia's 'other' main attraction, the magnificent 'Bungle Bungles'!

'Bingle Bingles' Rock Formations, Gantheaume Point, Broome

And at sunset the landscape changes all over again.

Sunset at Gantheaume Point, Broome, Western Australia

As do the visitors. A pair of grey nomads, clutching their 'happy hour' drinks while attempting to negotiate the steep, slippery rocks moan about the 'crowds' while reminiscing about an long ago – and therefore 'better' – time when they were the only visitors. A clutch of French backpackers fish for supper from the rocks. And a forest of tripods with enough expensive camera gear to sink the Titanic appears as the sun sinks into the sea.

Sunset at Gantheaume Point, Broome, Western Australia

So when IS the best time to visit Gantheaume Point?

Too hard!

You'll just have to decide that for yourself!

Want more information?
Red's just a deeper shade of orange, right?  For more wonderful ORANGENESS, hop over to Mandarin Orange Monday!

And if these shots inspire you to - well, ANYTHING really - try for even more at NF Inspiring Photography!

You won't be disappointed!


Save the Poor Bustard!

Australian Bustard at Quobba, Western Australia

The superb double entendre of 70's conservation poster slogan 'Save the Poor Bustard' gave my childish mind what I can now identify as a salacious thrill. It could actually be repeated without the speaker being accused of swearing!!

All the same, it shouldn't have come as a complete surprise when, after testing the slogan out once or twice, I was strongly 'discouraged' from saying it again …
Perhaps that's why Google insists that 'bustard' is a misspelling – which may or may not say something about the linguistic abilities of those who google 'bastard'.  Whatever.  But whether the reason I couldn't find the poster is because a) Google is too puritanical or b) it just doesn't exist in cyberspace or c) I just imagined the whole thing is academic because the result is the same!

The stately and measured pace of bizarre Australian Bustard (Ardeotis australis) as it moves across the grassy plains that its preferred habitat is deceptively slow!
And such a large bird with its oddly proportioned shape and clearly defined colour blocks, like an inept child's drawing of an emu crossed with an alien should be easy to spot, right?

Exit stage left ... Australian Bustard
But despite it's 1.2 metre height, and the open plains on which it travels, when threatened the bustard freezes into a cryptic posture pose or simply continues its slow and deliberate pace and disappears into the landscape.

As this Australian Bustard, spotted near Western Australia's Quobba Blowholes did, leaving an unexpectedly almost-too-small photographic window for this amateur photographer!
Maybe there's something to the alien connection after all ...

For more wild birds from around the world, visit Wild Bird Wednesday and see what the REAL photographers have been up to!

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