My husband Ken and I (Lesley) live in the beautiful Blue Mountains in NSW Australia. We have 2 adult daughters and one son In law. We retired, downsized and moved from the western suburbs to our current location 2016. I say retired however we both still work part-time. My husband and I were married in 1968 and are proud of the fact we are still together today. We are average people who have experienced good and bad in our life times and can say we have learnt a lot over the years.
We are in love with our current situation as we have each other and are surrounded by the natural wonders found in the mountains. We have great neighbours, our girls live within a half hour drive. We own our home and we have some part-time income to supplement our part pension. Our lives are busy and interesting. We both have hobbies and we both like living together. Ive heard this is not always the case when partners retire. We did both work together in our own business for approx 18 years prior to retirement so I guess we were pretty used to each other by then.
We have a meaningful group of friends who fill our lives with fun, interest and drama of course.
Why I chose to blog
I like to write down my thoughts, I like to have an opinion, I like to learn from others. I like to keep my mind active.
These are the reasons I chose to start this blog. I am not particularly profound in any one subject, I am certainly not highly educated nor am I specifically interested in any one thing. My childhood was not fantastic but not horrific. I married at age 16 which is usually intriguing to others. I have dealt with and been surrounded by illness including mental illness from a young age. I have worked continuously from age 14 and have experienced many highs and many lows. I have seen a lot of changes in the world during my 69 years. I have to say I am quite interested in human behaviour on a basic level. I have no education in this area and therefore no expertise but I have experience and I am happy to talk about it. I also find talking or writing in this way very healing and a good way of putting things into perspective. I do fear loneliness and isolation in my aging person and I am hoping that blogging will keep me in touch with the world if and when I do end up alone. I hope to engage with others via my blog and look forward to reading other blogs, hearing other opinions and hopefully providing and receiving some laughs through the process.
I have talked about loneliness before and how I think it can be damaging to one’s health. As a senior I feel friendships are always important, but vital as we age. Loneliness can have a devastating effect on ones’ life. A while back my husband and I had dinner with some friends. It was a birthday get together. These are people we have known for quite some years but in more recent years our bond is growing. There is a common interest which has brought us all together and now being in the senior age category, there is more time to socialize and commit to friendships.
As we do become closer questions become more inquiring and conversations are more in depth. For me personally this is a cathartic experience as I love discussions around human behavior, and I find most people’s lives are filled with interesting facts and usually a little drama. My group of friends are fantastic and never push issues or demand answers. I think this is not the same for all though. I can imagine that some friendships could be difficult as certain people like their privacy and don’t feel comfortable discussing personal subjects. On the reverse of that others asking questions can become too intrusive and not know when to stop. After our dinner I found myself thinking how lucky we were to have this group of friends and how difficult it could be if this was not the case. This got me thinking about the process of building and cementing a bond with someone you have just met.
Through previous experiences we learn that to bombard someone with your life story can quickly result in a lost friendship. People need time to digest and contemplate information. All those hidden secrets in one go, can be a recipe for disaster. Experiences vary in life, with some good and others not so good. Where one person finds a story intriguing, the same story can be considered abrasive to another. Some find talking about past events or revealing details of one’s family to be difficult or emotionally draining others have no trouble blurting out their entire history.
We can all look back and remember those people whom we called friends in the past. People who we no longer see or hear from maybe due to differences of opinion or dwindling mutual interests. Friendships do not automatically come with built-in trust and respect. This has to be earned and valued over time. Those who are lucky enough to have long term friendships will have realized this.
As seniors we often find ourselves in the position of having to make new friendships. Loved ones have passed, families have busy lives, the workplace is no longer part of your social network. One of the difficulties I see with this situation is that at this stage in our life, we do not always have the benefit of time on our side. I believe relationships are stronger if we take our time to get to know people. As we age we don’t have as much time to waste so we are impelled to speed up the process. With limited time it can be tricky and often results are not what we expect.
To understand why this happens, we need to look at the process. By this, I mean look at the factors which go into a friendship. Feeling comfortable in conversation, having similar likes or dislikes, mutual values, mutual respect, and acceptance. Not feeling judged, bullied, or intimidated. This is a lot to determine and to digest in a single meeting, so where does one start.
Find out who we are first. When we are young, we hide so much from others and not always intentionally. I believe we do not really know ourselves in our younger adult years. Of course, we think we do, but now having lived to a ripe old age, I realized once I retired and finally had the time to do things, I knew little about myself. Certainly, we know what makes us laugh or what makes us relax but do we truly know what makes us happy. I think we need a lifetime to figure that out.
I know I for one do not worry about what others think as much as I did when I was younger. I am not afraid to say what I like or afraid to disagree with someone. Therefore, when we are older, can we assume that our piers are more open and more honest with their discussions because they are more comfortable with themselves.
Let us hope they are as it speeds up the “getting to know you” part of building friendships.
Having said all that, ask yourself what sort of person you are and what would you like in a friend. Are you a serious person, someone who is a happy go lucky person, do you like books, movies, sports, do you like to drink, party, quiet nights, dinner. If you know yourself than you will know what type of friend, you seek. Next time you join a new group or meet a new person, listen with interest to what is being said. Often, we are preparing our input, or our next question and we miss what is actually being relayed. When you really hear what someone is saying the response becomes automatic.
If you really do not know what you like, then the fun is in trying new challenges. If you don’t like it you now know a bit more about yourself. You will figure it out eventually and hopefully make a whole group of new friends.
As this is sounding a bit like a relationship seminar, I will not bore you further but I hope I have helped someone out there who is struggling with the thought of making friends.
A question to answer or just to ponder.
The saying “we should accept everyone for who they are” what does that mean to you?
To me it means everyone is an individual and has the right to represent themselves however they want. We should accept them as part of the world in which we live and afford them the same rights as ourselves. We should not criticize them just because we have different thoughts to them, however we do not have to be best friends with them either. I would love to hear thoughts on my comments. Feel free to comment and subscribe if you want to see more of my ramblings.
It is not my intention to write every event we will be having in the camper trailer. This was our first experience, so I think it was noteworthy.
The astronomy club we belong to have a property near Ilford NSW. Its purpose is purely for astronomy but many of us enjoy the social side of meeting up with friends with a similar interest. The property has all the facilities you want, showers, toilets, and a fully functional outdoor kitchen together with very spectacular wood fire. We took the easy way out to try the new trailer knowing we had complete backup on hand.
Arriving early evening on the Thursday it was cold and windy. We were not exactly prepared for it, understandably, it was the middle of January 2023. It had rained on and off on the drive up to the site, so we quickly got started on the setup. Opening the camper was easy and went smoothly. We then attacked the awning with a few teething problems. Before too long we had unloaded the car, made the bed and were ready to cook. We had a few visitors coming over to check up our setup, so it was late when dinner was finally started. Ken put on the steak, and potatoes, added some pre-chopped salad veggies, followed by some beer and wine and we were ready for our first nights sleep. The wind was certainly putting a chill in the air now. Lying in bed I was quite chilly and needed more clothing under the thin doona. I admit I tossed and turned a lot that night. It was not the best sleep and I worried this was going to be something I would not handle well. I am a person who likes her sleep and her comfort. The problem was solved the next day by using the very good sleeping bags we had stored in our old caravan on site. I can assure you I woke the next day feeling very relieved. That morning, we saw blue sky and sun during the day but were hampered by winds once again. Some bacon, eggs, tomato, and mushrooms together with some hot coffee filled our bellies and helped to get the day started. We spent the day setting up our Joolca shower tent and toilet alcove not without having to refer to the instructions of course. It’s always simple once you figure it out. What made it a lengthy event was putting it in the wrong place and the leads and fixture would not fit. After realising this we swiftly moved it to the other end of the camper. Testing out the shower was fun and reassuring. We also set up the porta potti and of course tried that out also. All worked beautifully. the rest of the day we relaxed a bit playing on the Ipad and catching up with friends as they arrived for the weekend. That night Ken cooked up a chicken caciatore casserole, we drank some more wine with friends around the fire and headed to bed ready for a solid sleep. We were a lot warmer and slept more soundly that night. It was all a learning experience and a fun one at that.
Saturday, we went with cereal and coffee and prepared to head to Mudgee for a light lunch, a trip to Woollies and Bunnings before a sunny afternoon drive via the beautiful wineries and valleys surrounding us. That night we were feasting on beef curry casserole which was very scrumptious. Ken has become a bit of a master since we bought the Webber Baby Q. He has tried a good variety of recipes and this one stood up to the test. A friend offered some Panettone cake and rocky road chocolate for a pleasant finish. Another night with great conversation around the fire with a glass of wine. We retired to a comfortable bed and listened to the rain pattering on the roof overnight.
We were able to use lots of the accessories we had purchased and at this stage felt we had not wasted money, and all had worked efficiently. Although some warmer weather would have been welcomed, we were in fact able to try things out in less ideal conditions. Our last day, Sunday, was cold and wintery with cycles of rain and wind hampering activities. We had breakfast, an omelette and bacon, took our time over coffee, fair-welled a few people heading home and then idly sat appreciating the quietness of the day. After lunch we decided to watch a movie, which was quite a cosy experience in the camper. Overall, a leisurely day ending with Pizza for dinner.
We started our final morning with an easy breakfast of cereal and coffee. We figured we would pack up and then have our second cup of coffee an hour later. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I have to say nothing was hard to do but there was a lot of stuff that had to get packed up and fitted back into the trailer and car the way it started. We all know that never works. How in the world does one get that large piece of floor matting back into that little plastic pouch, I will never know. After several different tries at folding, quite a bit of groaning on my part, the result was the casing ending up lying on top. We found ourselves making many trips walking back and forth with single items which needed to be packed in Bin 1 or Bin2. In future the rule will be to put things back where they came from at the time of use, another lesson learned.
We had it done in 2 hours which is not that bad but also not good if you need to get on the road early. We learnt from the experience and now know we must do a little the night before and a little more planning in the future.
We headed back home via Wallace Lake so we could look at their free camping grounds for our next short stay. Stopping at the local take away for hamburgers and coffee. The park surrounds a glorious lake and has many shady trees to camp under. We were able to find an outdoor table and bench under a shady tree to enjoy our lunch and were pleasantly surprised at the beautiful peaceful surrounds.
There is a great park for the kids, a lot of open space for walking and exploring. We noticed lots of people fishing along the waters edge. Generally speaking a very pleasant are. Practically speaking we noted toilets and we think there were showers also. a dump site and rubbish bins to be able to offload.
We headed back home feeling the whole weekend was a relaxing learning experience and left us feeling confident with our next adventure.
I hope you enjoy this little insight into our world. I look forward to your comments. Do you have a camper trailer or caravan. What has been your favourite spot to camp. What is your tastiest camp meal. We are embarking on a trip to Western Australia in April this year 2023 for 6-8 weeks. Any comments and advise are welcome. Please give this a thumbs up before you leave.
This is the third largest country in South America
Population nearly 27million.
Language-Spanish, Quechua, Aymara and various dialects of the Amazon Jungle
Three natural regions :- The coast, the highlands and the jungle.
Another flight and we find ourselves in Guayaquil airport where we are staying close by at the Holiday Inn. An early flight the next morning took us to Lima, the capital of Peru. Founded by the great conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535. Our hotel was in Miraflores, 30mins drive from the airport. Most of the drive is along the ocean front. A beautiful introduction to one of the more affluent districts that make up the city of Lima. It is a town known for its shopping, restaurants, and nightclubs and popular with the tourists. That afternoon we wandered from our hotel down to the Parque Del Amor, on the water’s edge. Checked out the shopping, the fantastic views over the water, beautiful parklands and watched a picturesque sunset. The next morning, we were up early for a tour of the city of Lima which proved very interesting. The first main attraction was the San Francisco Monastery. A glorious Barrroque building known for its boned-lined catacombs( containing an estimated 70,000 remains). A spectacular cupola or dome over the main staircase was carved in 1625 out of Nicaraguan Cedar. After visiting the main square Plaza Mayor, Government Palace, and many more major sites of Lima we headed down to the Huaca Pucilano, the adobe pyramid that was ancient Lima’s ceremonial heart. This is a most fascinating place to see and with a very informative guide, we learnt the history of this massive excavation site. A more detailed account can be found on the website http://huacapucllanamiraflores.pe/huaca-pucllana-hoy/ This site was amazing to walk through and to be able see the massive works being meticulously completed to their original status.
The afternoon was free time, so we tackled the huge local markets, wandered through Spanish style buildings and colourful streets, and then investigated a local art gallery. With tired feet we headed back to our hotel for a fine dining treat after which we fell into bed exhausted.
The next morning, we are picked up for our flights to Cusco and then driven to our Sacred Valley of the Incas (8500feet elevation) accommodation. The river valley is very fertile with lush green slopes surrounded by mountains in the distance. Our hotel was very pretty and as rest was recommended at this stage, to allow our body to adjust to the altitude, we had no problem taking it easy and enjoying some much-needed quiet time.
The following morning, we headed out with our guide to visit the people of Chinchero and visit the Inca’s Balcony. We were treated to a tour of the streets, introduced to occupants in traditional dress and shown the ancestral way in which they process the wool and how they obtain the vivid colours used in their textiles. Chinchero is an ancient town and a wonderful place where you can still feel and see the Inca culture as it was in the past. The streets are tiny, the people are beautiful, and the way of life is simple. I was fascinated by the cute three wheeled vehicles known as Moto Taxi’s Of course, there were markets to wander through, souvenirs to buy and many stairs to climb. A glorious ancient church to investigate and time to watch the various breeds of Lama’s grazing.
A light lunch and back on board our bus to visit Ollantaytambo, one of the most monumental architectural complexes of ancient Inca Empire. It is well known for the terraces dug into the slopes of the mountains. The terraces were used for agricultural purposes. The terraces are quite large and high. Unfortunately, I did struggle to reach the top as the altitude and the sheer height was a little too much. I ventured maybe 3/4 of the way and promptly sat myself down and waited for Ken to return. I feared, if I was struggling with this, would I make it to the top of Machu Pichu. I would soon find out. For now back to our hotel to pack for our trip to Machu Pichu the next day.
Ollantaytambo station is where we board the Vistadome train to take us to Aguas Calientas. The trip is about 1.5 hours in a carriage with panoramic windows to view valleys and mountains throughout the whole trip. Morning refreshments and a commentary keep you entertained. When reaching our destination we are shown to our hotel with a couple of hours to investigate our surrounds. At 12.30 we had to board our bus for Machu Pichhu. We lined up with many other travellers to board the bus for the half hour trip to the mountain top. We headed out of town and started up the mountain drive. The road was quite narrow with no guard rails. On one side, in many places it was a sheer drop to the valley floor, and on the other the looming face of the mountain was close. Taking the bends was a skill known only to our driver and passing other buses on their way down the mountain was a huge challenge. My knuckles were white from clenching the top of the seat in front the whole way. Finally reaching the top safely we alighted with the many other people waiting in line to buy tickets etc. On a booked tour we were lucky enough to get entry quickly.
We had seen the pictures, heard of its grandeur from others but until you are there, you cannot really appreciate its beauty. Machu Picchu is a very special place. It was misty when we arrived which added to its mystique. A guided tour helped us to understand the lives of the priests and their servants and craftsmen who inhabited this citadel. The mystery of the destruction of this settlement remains today as there was no written records kept. Some excavation has discovered skeletons, artefacts and some woollen clothing. Machu Picchu is an Inca citadel set high in the Andes Mountains. Above the Urubamba River valley one feels like they are above the world. Even though surrounded by crowds of people the isolation of the settlement could still be experienced. Built in the 15th century it is renowned for its sophisticated dry-stone walls that fuse huge blocks without the use of mortar. The stonework was intricate and precise. The intriguing structure of buildings that play on astronomical alignments and panoramic views. It is not a place you can describe fully. Photo’s do not do it justice. There is a feeling experienced here that is unique.The scenery is stunning even in misty rain. The trip to get to this place is massive and the intrigue of how anyone ever lived here is mind blowing. We wandered the many tiers and walked the many levels. Our bodies were exhausted and our minds full of wonderment. Another hairy drive back down the mountain, a wander through the streets ending with dinner. Collapsed into our bed that night we slept well satisfied with what we had experienced. The next day started with blue sky and sunshine. Our tickets allowed us a further visit the next morning so Ken chose to head back up the mountain for more photographing. I decided to investigate the town a little more so headed out to discover some history, beautiful architecture, massive markets and the school and shops which the locals call home. I must say they are a very hardworking community with the town being built on the side of the mountain. All deliveries of building materials including bricks for housing, food, supplies of all types are delivered up and down the mountain on hand drawn trolleys and carts. I struggled pulling myself up. Their tenacity is remarkable. The next day we headed back to the station for our very entertaining train trip back enjoying a fashion show of authentic alpaca apparel. Most interesting experience. Overall this last few days were an incredible and unforgettable journey.
I hoped you enjoyed this post. The next leg of our trip part 4 is Cusco, Iguassu Falls in Brazil and Argentina. The final chapter – part 5 will cover Atacama Desert and a visit to Easter Island.
Please feel free to comment if you wish. If you have been to these places I hope you enjoyed them as much as we did.
With covid monopolising the last 2 years we have decided to do what many others have. Discover Australia rather than travel abroad..
As you would have read in my previous travel blogs there is usually an eclipse happening at some time during our travels.Our next big trip will be no different. Exmouth in Western Australia will experience a Hybrid Solar Eclipse on the 20th April 2023. A good excuse for us to discover the beauties of the western coast of Australia.
Our first discussion were how would do this, Car, Boat, Airplane or Train or a combination. All options were available but we knew in 6 months time the options would reduce as places book out. It is expected that thousands will make their way to this tiny peninsular to see the spectacle that is an eclipse. Add to that a picturesque place and the school holidays and you have an accommodation problem.
As we want to see as much of Australia as we can, our decision was to drive ourselves. Now, do we use our car, hire a car or a motorhome. Weighing up the costs for each method the answer became clear to us. We decided to purchase a camper trailer with the idea of being able to sell it when we had enough of driving ourselves around.
We have had one before, ie 30 years ago when we were much younger, fitter and more adventurous. I believe my hesitation was valid. We started to look at what was available which promptly eliminated the possibility of my wish for pure luxury. The caravans and motorhomes were way outside our budget which is why we settled on a camper trailer. These are definitely more comfortable than they were in the 90′”s. We opted for an Australian built Cub Explorer. For one it was towable by our existing car and even though a little more expensive than we expected was doable if we were careful.
As noted previously many people had the same idea so our wait period was just under 6 mths. We picked up the van early December 2022 with much delight. We can only speak for Cub but the handover procedure is intensive. Over 3 hours of instruction and advice. We wondered why on earth it would take that long but it did. There are a multitude of little things one needs to be clear on. You do receive a manual also but the actual instruction is absolutely necessary. After the very exhausting 3.5 hours with a quick lunch break the instructor helped us hook up the trailer and checked the lights which to our dismay were not functioning correctly.
Not a great start and a way to add some apprehension to the whole idea of roaming around the countryside on our own. To the rescue, Cub were straight onto it and immediately sent us across the road to the factory to check it out. Once there the staff jumped into action and told us to go for a coffee and relax while they find the problem.
After a half hour or so we received the call to go back and pick it up. All fixed with much apologies and guarantees that everything would be perfect going forward. A huge sigh of relief and we were on our way home, towing our 2nd home behind us. We are home and are happy as it fits into the garage perfectly, allowing enough room for the car and comfortable movement about the garage.
The following day, the first challenge is to open the camper as per the instructions. Season the canvas and then close the camper as per instruction. Opening it is easy and trouble free, maybe 10 mins maximum. Once inside we were elated and our minds started visioning us set up outside the camper, sitting back in our chairs with a wine in hand while watching a sunset or snuggling in our bed listening to the rain on the roof. That daydream was pushed aside quickly as we attempted to close the camper.
Out come the instructions and away we go. All went well for 5 minutes. There is a detachable deluxe awning with the model we purchased and it is recommended this is left on the camper when closing it up. The instruction sounds easy and we watched the instructor do it all by himself when we were at the factory. We gave it our best shot once, then again and again but to no avail. There appears too much awning to be able to close the trailer down without force. On top of that the canvas walls were looking very crooked and strained in places. After many sighs and murmurs of frustration we decided it needed to be reset. Again instructions are fairly clear so we reset the canvas, but still not sure and still with difficulty we eventually got the trailer closed and decided to try again in a few days. Xmas was looming and celebrations waiting to be to organised.
We waited a few days and tried again with the idea of being prepared to go somewhere for a few days over the xmas new year break. Again it opened without problem but appeared completely out of shape again. We, rewatched the videos regarding the resetting and also the close up procedure. We tried again but unfortunately it was quite a hot day and we were a little short on energy. I was beginning to think we had made the wrong decision and my spirits were a little deflated. We managed to get some things packed into it, getting an idea of the weight and eventually got it closed again. All was not easy sailing. Our next try now would be after Xmas day instead of going away we would work on it again.
Once we were refreshed after the xmas frivolities we started from scratch again, reset the canvas again and in doing so realised our error as we went. Finally we were able to get it right and achieve the process fairly quickly. Practise makes a difference and my thoughts were heading in a more positive direction.
Now for the fun part we need to pack it and weigh it. This was going to be a challenge.We knew we would have to be careful with the tow ball weight. A spreadsheet had been started. Over the previous 6 months we followed a few travellers on YouTube, watched many videos and listened to much advice from existing cub owners. The message was clear although conflicting. You will always pack more than you need and always be prepared for something going wrong. Needless to say the spreadsheet set-up changed several times with bins and crates, food and tools all being tried here and there many times until we came up with something that worked physically. The weighing finally happened only to highlight we were overweight. A couple of quick shopping trips to get things right, divorce close on our heels we repacked, eliminated and we redid it all again until we got it right. Finally we were seeing the light. Patience and tenacity were ruling the way.
It was the eve of the new year and our street party was about to happen so the camper trailer was put to bed until 2023 I am hoping my next blog will be about our first venture out in our new home.
Please like and share and comment if you have experiences similar. Hopefully I will have more to report soo
Part Two – The Galapagos Islands – UNESCO Heritage Site
Situated in the Pacific Ocean – 1000km from the Ecuadorian coast of South America,
Approx. 30,000 people live on the islands which make up the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
In 1959, approx. 97% of the emerged surface was declared a National Park.
Leaving Quito, we fly to Seymour Ecological Airport, where all travellers pass through an inspection point to ensure no foreign plants or animal matter are introduced to the island. A guide was to meet us and drive us to the harbour. When we arrived, we had to wait for our bags to be inspected and headed outside the terminal. There was a multitude of buses waiting and guides hustling everyone aboard. We met up with a couple of guys from London whom we found out were going on the same catamaran we were on. We had our tickets and headed for the bus that looked like ours. He took our tickets and hoarded us on the bus. We took off on a bumpy, lengthy drive to the water’s edge. They then hurried us all onto a ferry, hurtling all our bags onto the roof. This all looked a bit dodgy, but everyone seemed to be going with the flow. The ferry boat was very crowded, and it stopped when we were about halfway across the waterway.
Someone passed by everyone asking for a couple of dollars to keep going. It was at this point that we were getting a little worried. We had no cash, so our newly acquainted friends kindly paid for us. The boat continued and pulled up at a jetty, where everyone alighted. No signs and no instruction came our way. Most of the travellers headed off to a bus waiting nearby. We were sure this was not where we should be. Everyone up untill now spoke no English, but we approached a female guide who indicated we were in the wrong place. She would fix it for us and told us to wait on the dock and not go with anyone else. So, we waited, and we waited. We could not get any reception on our phones, so after discussing together, we approached what looked like a security person mingling with a few suspicious-looking gentlemen around a simple timber structure. He spoke very little English but said he would try to call someone. I am not sure how long we waited, but eventually, a second ferry arrived and shuttled us on board. Again, halfway across, they stopped to collect more money. I am guessing they would toss us in the water if we did not pay. Arriving at the dock again, they indicated a bus would take us back to the airport. The only problem was we had no ticket for the bus to return, so we had to pay again. At long last, we unloaded back at the airport and were approached by a guy holding a sign with the name of our catamaran on it. He had been waiting there the whole time. We breathed a heavyy sigh of relief and eagerly jumped onto the correct bus this time.
A short bus drive to the waters’ edge, and we could see our catamaran “The Archipell” safely anchored, waiting for us to board. We were happily greeted by the other guests (two other couples) who had been patiently waiting for the lost party to arrive. The boat was extremely comfortable and beautifully outfitted, and a friendly and experienced crew was looking after us. That afternoon we settled into our room, chatted with the other guests, and waited for the chef to prepare our dinner. The weather was superb, and the ocean was serene. A few drinks, an excellent meal and a few more drinks before we settled down to a peaceful sleep to the rhythm of the sea lapping on the sides of the hull.
While we were sound asleep, the crew were in full force travelling and preparing for our first destination. After a great breakfast, we were allocated our respective inflatable dinghy and started on our journey along the eastern arm of the caldera of Genovesa Island, shouldering the massive 80ft high walls. Landing on a natural platform of rock, we are led up the Prince Phillip Steps, a steep climb to reach the plateau of the crater. We could see and hear the birds overhead, but nothing prepared us for the experience of standing on the surface of natural and unspoilt land.
The birds and animals that inhabit were in abundance. I had been hoping to get just a glimpse of something rare but ended up overwhelmed by the sheer number of birds we could see in a matter of minutes. Our first sightings were that of the silky black feathers of the male Frigate bird contrasted by his vibrant red pouch. The sheer size of these birds soaring through the air is magnificent. Then, sitting and watching the intricate antics the male and female exhibit while mating is quite captivating. Cameras clicked feverishly, thinking this may be our only opportunity. We crept behind the guard, ensuring we stayed on the crude track to avoid disturbing anything. Amazingly we came across a pair of blue-footed Boobies courting each other on the trail. Their ritual is unique; the male lifting his blue webbed feet up and down, waiting for a response, arching, and spreading their wings high over the back, they dance for the female’s attention. They are oblivious of the mere humans standing nearby, this is their turf, and they are not to be disturbed.
We were mesmerised and could have stood there for hours. With more to see, we moved on. Glancing to my right, I saw what looked like a colourful statue of an Iguana. It was within a few feet, maybe two feet long, with a sizeable scaley body. The colour was multiple browns, gold, and yellow. No scurrying away as we stooped to photograph; he just stood, looked at us, and waited for us to move on. This was his land, and we were passing through. Everywhere we looked, there was something to catch your eye. More Nazca Boobies, red, blue, and grey footed, some mating, and many were resting and watching. We came across more Frigates, iguanas and lizards and then, as the area opened a little more, we saw the Cormorants, little Finches, and a few colourful insects. A rough sandy beach stretched between the scrub and the rocks, with the sea spray from the ocean heralding the rocky surface. To our surprise, there was a small colony of fur Seals idling away the day, lazing in the sun and playing in the ocean. More birds, too many to name flew overhead as we started our return journey.
Heading back to the steps to our waiting dinghy was full of thoughts of what we had been privileged to see. The crew were ready and waiting. A light lunch was devoured, and the prospect of seeing all the wonders of the sea below was ahead. Our boat was heading to Darwin Bay. First, the adventurous would be kayaking in the calm and pristine waters surrounding us. I forego this exercise as I did not think I could manage to get in and out of the kayaks. Ken braved it, and with the guides close behind, they all took off briskly, gliding through the water with ease. We waited and watched as they faded from sight. Eventually, returning at what I felt was a much slower pace. Watching their manoeuvre as they pulled closer to the boat, we saw some exhausted and sore bodies. The next challenge, at least for me, was to try my hand at snorkelling. I have never done this before, but I was determined to give it a go. Once again, the guides were so patient and helpful that it was no time before I had it mastered and was transcended to another place. It is stunning to observe a whole world where there appears to be no sense of time passing. My only regret, there were no photos to be able to show the absolute beauty and intrigue of what is just beneath the surface. We all returned to the boat to settle down with a glass of wine, a beautiful sunset, a nourishing three-course meal and a well-earned sleep—what a way to finish our day. If we had to go home right then, we would have been happy, but this was day one with two more full days to come.
Day two – A Day to learn and explore
Bartolome Island, named after Sir Bartholomew James Sullivan, a friend of Charles Darwin, is one of the archipelago’s most visited islands. We landed across a small bay opposite what is known as Pinnacle Rock, a small volcanic cone. Ahead is a 600-metre trail to the summit, some 114 metres up a wooden staircase. Looking up is pretty daunting; however, as you move up the stairway, accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, you are given a running commentary of the plant life, the lizards, and geological wonders along the way. It helps keep you preoccupied and a little more capable of moving onward and upward. I am grateful there was no pressure to hurry and much encouragement to keep going. Reaching the summit is worth the effort. The feeling of accomplishment is substantial, and the view is phenomenal. Looking back down to a panorama of the entire archipelago is a site to behold. The isolation, untouched beauty and the bright blue the ocean gently lapping the rugged volcanic rock is very easy on the eyes. The walk back down was a lot easier but still lengthy, so we were all ready for some refreshments. We returned to the catamaran for another array of delicious snacks and beverages.
Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island was our next stop. It is the youngest of the islands. Geologically it is a volcano islet born out of fire. When stepping on what appears to be a lifeless stretch of rock, one imagines stepping onto the surface of the moon. It looks barren and eerie. The lava flow formations are varied and can look like twisted ropes or giant seashells with swirls on their back. There were broken rocks that resembled petrified wood with circular rings covering the surface. Walking on the surface is safe but tricky as we noticed where the rocks were severed like in an earthquake, and one could see a range of colours deep in the crevices. There are huge hidden holes, and jagged areas butting up against smooth flowing waterfalls of rock. We were wrong in thinking it was a lifeless area as it was alive with various plant life and cactus peering out from among the shiny lava. An occasional lizard would scurry past. We came across a beautiful piece of white driftwood sitting on the black rock, a photographer’s paradise.
We then headed to the beach area for a refreshing swim and a wander along the shore. If you are lucky, you will see the Galapagos giant tortoise heading out from the ocean to their hiding place in the shrubs. Unfortunately, we missed them, but we did see the tracks in the sand on their morning escape to the water’s edge. We also saw a couple of cute lava lizards sun-baking on the rocks. We watched a mother-and-child penguin playing in the water close to the shore. For the next hour, we passed the time by photographing various crabs, frolicking, fighting, building, and resting all over the sand and rocks. Stunning to watch the varying colours of bright reds, vivid orange and mixed burgundy and purple running quickly in and out of the rocks. They range in size from thumbnails to ones larger than the width of your hand. It is captivating to watch the complex behaviour of each one.
That afternoon we stayed on the boat and mingled with the other seven couples. Four of us were leaving the next day, so a slap-up dinner was being prepared for us all. While relaxing on the deck with a much-needed beer, we watched overhead as several Albatross showed us the way, dipping and swerving perfectly with the boat’s movements.
On our last morning, the boat took us to Isla Santa Cruz. We sadly said our goodbyes to those lucky enough to stay longer and headed for our tour bus, which would take us to The Van Straelen Exhibition Centre. Here we visited the breeding and rearing centre for young and adult Galapagos giant tortoises in captivity. The centre provides opportunities to observe 11 subspecies of tortoises up close. In the rearing centre, hatchlings are nurtured and, when possible, released, around four years old, back onto their home islands. Those that cannot be released will find their home at the centre with the adult tortoises. We were able to visit Lonesome George, estimated at 100 to 150 years old. Our time here was over, and the bus took us back to the dinghy, where we made our last boat trip back to the Seymour Ecological Airport. Our luggage had been sent ahead, and our guides once again looked after our transfers, tickets, and flights. We had nothing to do but marvel over the last four days. I would love to say this was the highlight of our trip, but I would be mistaken as we still had so much more to see. What I will say is go if you can. There are several ways to stay and see the Galapagos Islands, and I can safely say whichever you choose would be worth it. It is an extraordinary experience.
I hope you have enjoyed our trip so far. Next we visit Peru-Lima, The Incas and Machu Picchu
Feel free to comment and be sure to follow if you would like to see more.
Late in 2018, my husband turned 70 and we reached our 50th wedding anniversary. We treated ourselves to this trip to celebrate in style. I personally cannot speak highly enough about the whole experience. From day one we were amazed at the culture, the beautiful people and the spectacular scenery in every country we visited. As this was a non-English speaking continent, we decided to go with a tour company. After a few inquiries we settled with South American Tours www.southamericantours.com.au They work with Condor Travel in South America. I would highly recommend this tour company. Our liaison with them was all via email, they were extremely helpful, versatile and obliging while planning the trip. They were also honest with the advice they gave. Once arriving in SA we found each individual guide was friendly, informative, always on time and immaculately presented throughout the entire trip. We really could not fault them.
Part One Santiago-Valparaiso-Quito
Flight Sydney to Santiago Chile is approx. 14 hours no stops, crossing the international date line.
Santiago is the capital of Chile. The official language is Spanish, and the currency is Peso.
Avge width of Chile is 120miles, length is 3230miles. Population is 15,400,000-36% live in Santiago.
Highlights- Experiencing a new culture, The variety of architecture, the uniqueness of Galapagos.
We arrived at Santiago airport tired but excited and a little wary. We had been given some tips on the potential dangers of arriving in a foreign country.
There are several exit gates, so we followed the crowd which turned out to be a mistake. This was where the dodgy taxi drivers hounded the passengers for a quick dollar. We anxiously scoured the crowds looking for a tour guide holding up our name. Unfortunately, this took a while and a few tense moments. Once we returned at the correct exit, we saw our guide and were immediately relieved. We were whisked away to a comfortable vehicle and an easy, although busy drive to our hotel. We were then left to our own devices for the afternoon/evening to discover a little of the area where we were staying. We quickly settled in and took off to pound the pavements. Such a vast difference to what we were used to. It was a busy town, with many churches, alley ways, old buildings crowded into every available space.Horns honking frequently and the driving was at the least erratic. We noticed electrical cables dangling outside apartment windows with no apparent destination. Windows with broken shutters, some with curtains flapping in the hot air and washing dangling from the ledges. Following our crude map we eventually came across the massive, large city square. The meeting and resting place of all the city dwellers.There was a long corridor of eating places on the side and a massive area to congregate. We were led to believe, after lunch it was common for the workers to siesta on the benches in the square. Hence what we thought may have been the homeless were just those surviving the normal work day. We could understand this as pounding the pavements in the heat of the day is quite draining. After wandering for a few hours, we headed back to our hotel for some much-needed food and rest. The following day a walking and driving tour of the city was booked in, showing us the different aspects of the new and the old, the rich and the poor. Up to San Cristóbal Hill for a panoramic view of the city and its vast array of old and modern architecture. A very informative tour with plenty of time left in the day to explore the many parks and museums of Santiago. That evening we found an area nearby made up of tiny alleys and small streets housing a multitude of cafés from which to choose . Finally selecting one, we scoured the menu to find a few words that we could recognise sufficiently to be able to order a meal. So far, we were doing ok as far as choosing our food and drink. It was early days though and our knowledge was very limited.
The next morning, I awoke feeling little unwell. Was it the sip of water I had or that apple I pilfered from the foyer, I am not sure, but my stomach was feeling a little queasy. However, our car was ready and waiting and so we departed on time for Val Paraiso. Unfortunately, I remember little about the drive as I was very desperately trying to prevent the unleashing of my breakfast all over this very clean car. Thankfully I was able to hold off until we reached our destination. A quick visit to the restroom seemed to help. The residence, namely La Sebastiana, was the home of the Nobel prize winning poet Pablo Neruda. This unique three story building set high on the hill was worth the visit. The stories and artefacts displayed, portrayed a very quaint and artistic personality. Afterward a drive through the colourful labyrinth of hills, which make up Val Paraiso was special and entertaining. It is a university town full of creative people, displaying their art on many of the buildings. We were then left to meander down the hillside and to experience the uniqueness of the funicular railways (two counterbalanced carriages permanently attached to opposite ends of a haulage cable). We then travelled with our tour guide to Vina del Mar, Chile’s fashionable beach resort for lunch and a walk around the town. Our last afternoon and night finished with another great meal sitting on the sidewalk with some wine and street entertainment. An early night due to an early flight the next morning.
Quito is the capital of Ecuador which has a total population of approx 14mill. Language spoken is Spanish and Kichwa.
Quito is the capital of Ecuador which has a total population of approx 14mill.
Language spoken is Spanish and Kichwa. English is widely spoken
Main cities are Quito, Quayaquil and Cuenca. Currency is USDollars.
Quito is a city where modern architecture meets the beauty and the strength of colonial buildings. On first arriving it appears a little old and poor but when you look more carefully the creativity can be seen everywhere. After settling into our hotel, we took a walk around the nearby streets and parks. Quite modern and everything you may want is available. We went to the large impressive museum, there was a couple of very interesting exhibitions and the grounds are quite beautiful. We then wandered through the expansive central park looking at the artworks and the street performers all within a few city blocks of our hotel.
The following day we were guided by car and foot to the older side of Quito, visiting the well preserved colonial centre. We first stopped at the Virgin of the Panecillo, because whether religious or not it is something to behold. The view from the top shows the whole of Quito and beyond. Moving onto the tourist hotspot you are greeted with magnificently well preserved, grand buildings of intricate 16th century architecture. The Plaza de San Francisco is a huge area for the people to relax and mingle surrounded by churches and and many highly distinguished buildings. It has a party atmosphere and a great place to rest your tired limbs. Further on, a highlight was the “Church of the Society of Jesus” the interior richly decorated with gold ornamentation. It is overwhelming and one feels quite humble in its grandeur. Walking up and down the streets and alleys we saw some beautiful quaint little streets, dotted with flower pots and colourful flags. Continuing on, we came across plenty of cafes, boutique shops, more churches and the occasional park. Many hills later, we arrived back at our hotel pretty exhausted.
More walking the next day to see the “Basilica del Voto Nacional” the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas, building began in 1892. A magnificent church with Gargoyles and spirals reaching to the heavens. Ken tells me the view from high in one of the spirals, reached via a dodgy looking bridge of scaffolding, and a steep ladder to the top, was worth the effort.
There is so much more to see and do in Ecuador. If time permits it would be good to stay for longer than a couple of days. That afternoon we organised our washing and packing, as we were off to Galapagos Island tomorrow. This very special place deserves a blog of its own so watch this space for Part 2.
Trigger warning: self-harm, child abuse and suicide
Twenty-five years ago, a choice was made, which should have been an acceptable, reasonable decision in the modern world. But, as it turns out, that choice triggered 25 years of self-destructive behaviour resulting in the loss of everything for one young woman, A woman whose life from the outside looked normal. Married to a man, she loved settling into the new home they purchased—a Mum and Dad and Sister who loved her. An extremely talented and creative person with the potential for a successful career is on the brink of graduating with a Diploma in Opera and the prospect of spending her life doing what she loved.
When faced with an unexpected and unplanned pregnancy, a choice to terminate the pregnancy was made. It was her right to make this decision, and her family supported it. Although the disgusting behaviour of some people who call themselves righteous, religious representatives made the whole process more difficult than it should have been. Their derogatory statements and constant name-calling were appalling and disgusting. How they call themselves Christians, I do not know. Moving on, it was not this event that changed her life. This change came afterwards during the healing period. A hormonal shift in the body was the catalyst to open the floodgates to past traumatic events. Events of a horrible nature, which we all read about way too often, are catastrophic to any person, let alone a young child. The actual story is not mine to tell, so I will not go into details. The result, after many years, was a diagnosis of Complex PTSD.
A condition we have all heard about in 2022 and, like depression, it is thrown around a little too often. Maybe if I break it down, you can gain more insight. I note here that I am not a doctor, specialist or advisor with any training or knowledge. I am someone who has observed someone close to me suffering from PTSD. I also understand that CPTSD or PTSD can be treated, and good outcomes often occur in many cases.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is the chronic disorder we hear more and more about these days. It is an actual condition, and it can be a chronic condition. As with most illnesses,’ there are degrees of depth with PTSD. It can be mild and short-term. It can result from an event in a person’s life that has a debilitating effect on their immediate life. It can also be the result of having constant trauma in their life. It should be taken seriously, and it needs to be treated by professionals. Like depression, it requires psychological assistance, medication, understanding and time to heal. Symptoms are listed in the following article and clearly described. https://www.cumberlandheights.org/blogs/17-symptoms-of-ptsd. CPTSD is slightly more complex and still being researched at the current time.
This article is my understanding and experience with this illness. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. To write about the symptoms and the consequences would be an immense task. How I work it out in my mind is to break it down:
Complex – something which is compounded or multiplex.
Post – after the fact.
Traumatic – an event that is deeply disturbing or distressing
Stress – a state of mental or emotional strain or tension because of adverse circumstance
Disorder – an illness that disrupts normal physical or mental functions.
I can go back over my life and find occasions such as witnessing a friend’s death, being involved in a violent situation, or dealing with a terminal illness. I can recall and occasionally will dream about something awful which will remind me of these or similar events. When this does occur, it is always sad, and you feel completely drained from the emotions you are experiencing at the time. Does this mean I have PTSD? I don’t believe it does because it is a temporary situation that is not disrupting my ongoing day-to-day life. It is not life-threatening; it is a part of living, and if we give ourselves some time and understanding, the feelings will subside. However, suppose this becomes a regular occurrence. In that case, I implore you to question it and seek help as PTSD OR CPTSD manifests and can become debilitating.
Going back to my story, this young woman lives with the following: words, smells, or colours daily triggering memories of the events. Flashbacks, not only in dreams but in daily living, create a constant fear. This fear puts one’s body into a fight, flight or freeze state. More information and explanations are shown here.
When the fear is intense, the body is in a constant state of tension. Try to imagine the physical pain your body experiences when it is constantly on alert. Living like this every day creates a necessity to hide, or regress into oneself, to hibernate to remove oneself from society.
Living like this constantly hinders the person from feeling worthy of living. They lose self-esteem, self-confidence, the ability to socialise the ability to be motivated. They seek relief from the constant daily battle to survive. This relief comes in many forms. Isolation, alcohol abuse, self-medicating, physical self-harm, eating disorders, drug usage and many other methods of eradicating the pain. Once they secure a way of survival that eases their pain, the trauma is numbed, and relief is experienced. But then, mental and physical destruction is imminent. Now they must live with the ramifications of seeking this relief. These consequences can be short-term, but too often, they are long-term, varied with emotional and physical destruction. Often, the only way out is for them to remove themselves from society and the world. It is certainly not for me to say the destruction is worse than the trauma; that is for the individual to decide. Again, I state there is help and although it is hard, it can be worth the effort. I implore those who identify with this story; if they have not yet sought help, please seek assistance. You are worthy of our support. You deserve to live a life that is not filled with pain.
I implore all people to try to understand the depth of pain that cannot be seen on the outside. I ask everyone to develop a more accepting attitude and understanding of mental illness.
If you are suffering please reach out for help
Mental health line is 1800 011 511
If you cannot get through to the Mental Health Line, call:
Recently I attended a funeral for a friends mum, actually her step mum. A gracious women who earned the right to be called a mum in every sense of the word. My story today is not about this lady, although her story should be told, but about the process of her passing. Sadly as we age, so do, our family and friends and as we attend more funerals we notice a reduction in our circle of love and support. The lady I refer to was nearing 103 when she finally said goodbye to her time on earth. Of course there had been time for her family and friends to mentally prepare for her passing. This does not reduce the sadness of the loss when it finally comes. I have in recent years attended a couple of funerals for very close friends which were extremely painful experiences at the time, but as the months go by I am remembering the time, more for its beauty rather than its sadness. The words that stayed with me the most during this particular service was that of the celebrant. She mentioned with a positive glow that it was pleasing to see, so many people attending the service for someone this age. I looked around and thought to myself there was only around 30 people in the room, which seemed like a small number to me. I then wondered to myself how many funerals must occur with fewer or sadly no people in attendance. The celebrant went on to say some beautiful words and reiterated this fine ladies life admirably. My immediate thoughts were sad but slowly turned to joy when I realised the amount of young people in the room who had come to say goodbye and show their respect for the life this lady had lived. The words of kindness of the happy times they had spent together, the lessons learned, the valuable knowledge passed on to the younger persons in the room, who, on this day, had no concept of the life they were going to live. This was something positive to grab hold of. It was a brief moment where I personally found calm and happiness. Further to this, watching the slide show of photographs and hearing the contented sighs of those being reminded of good times, the joy in seeing their eyes light up when relating to a moment in their past, again this all brings a happiness to the day. Later in the day as I listened to the stories of her life, all told with animation and personal experience my thoughts were reinforced.
Admittedly I was not close to this lovely lady and therefore not absorbed by grief. I was lucky enough to experience these feelings in the here and now. So I ask those who are grieving now, if and when you are able, it may be worth revisiting this day. There is a happiness that can be found among the grief of losing a loved one. Time heals the pain and hopefully the good memories become the only memories. Once the grief becomes less dominant and we are able to think clearly once again there is much to value and reflect on. This is just my opinion, I personally think a memorial service is important. The form that service takes is of course a very personal one and should be the choice of those closest to the loved one and any wishes of the loved one should be considered deeply. Having said that I also believe attendance is not something everyone can emotionally deal with and therefore there should be no criticism of one not attending a service. There is no right or wrong in how one deals with their own personal grief.
We who remain behind can only hope we have touched or influenced at least one younger person in the life we have led.
Ballarat to Mungo National Park 30th March to 6th April 2022
In April 2018 Ken was attending the NACAA (National Australian Convention of Amateur Astronomers) held bi-annually over Easter. That particular year it was held at Ballarat, NSW from 30th March to 2nd April. I decided to join him, and we extended our trip to encompass The Grampians in Victoria and Mungo National Park in NSW.
We had not been to Ballarat for quite some time. We arrived at the Mecure Hotel at Ballarat the day before the start of the conference. We first went for a drive to a local area called Lal Lal Falls. This town originated in 1885 as a sheep station. It is only 20 mins out of Ballarat with a tiny population of under 500. The waterfall was not flowing but there were a couple of very easy walks close by. It is a very pretty countryside with an abundance of kangaroos leaping through the trees. The conference is a series of talks on varying astronomical subjects and a visit to the local Ballarat Astronomical Society’s clubhouse to meet up with the local astronomers and view their facilities. We met some friendly, interesting people and enjoyed a light dinner before wandering back to the hotel with an early start the next morning.
We visited the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, one of Australia’s most significant cool climate gardens. The grounds are beautifully kept with many features such as a conservatorium and a hothouse together with many statues including the avenue of prime ministers. Lunch in their café and then off to walk the six kilometres around Lake Wendouree. The lake is an artificial man-made shallow lake opposite the gardens. It has a paved walking track completely around the perimeter which can be taken at your own speed. It is long but easy with many different views to be taken in. The ducks and swans, birds and artifacts surrounding the water are very pleasing. A very relaxing day overall.
The Great Ocean Road is the next leg of the trip. From Torquay to Allansford. The road is over 100 years old and is 243 km of ocean views. We have been on this road many years prior, in fact, I think there may have been 12 apostles the last time we were there (some had collapsed in the intervening years). This time however a lot less. The road is easy, the views are fantastic and it with now improved facilities, tourists are well catered for. This is a good thing for the country but obviously more people and more traffic frequent the area. We still loved it and highly recommend it. Whether it is sunny, cloudy, or rainy the beauty of the coastline is not diminished. There are many things besides the ocean to see, lighthouses, artifacts, walking tracks and activities are plentiful. On this trip, we were not stopping off too much as we had more to see.
After visiting the highlights along the road, we turned off and head to The Grampians National Park. This park spans an area of 413 thousand acres. It is a series of low angled sandstone ridges. The area has bushwalking, hiking, rock climbing, fishing, canoeing, camping, animals, pubs, café, lookouts and much more. It is peaceful, spacious, and the animals are friendly and plentiful. We were there for the great walks and lookouts. Hopefully, the photos below give you an idea of its beauty and its accessibility.
We spent a couple of beautiful days here and then headed on our way to Mildura and the start of our short stay in Mungo National Park around 115 km from the town centre.
There is approx. 80 km of dirt road into the park and then a further 80 km out the other side to exit. We had arranged to stay at the lodge in Mungo for two nights. The worry with this entry is that if the road is not accessible then you are stuck at the lodge. It is a bit of a concern but everything we had read indicated it was worth the effort. Go to mungolodge.com.au for information on accommodation and tours. According to Wikipedia, the park is part of the Unesco World Heritage-listed Willandra lakes region. It covers an area of 274,210 acres. The main feature of the park is Lake Mungo, the second largest of the ancient dry lakes. The Park is noted for the archaeological remains discovered in the park.
We grabbed a takeaway coffee and drove out of Mildura with some trepidation about the quality of the road we were about to endure. The long and wide dusty road stretches in front of you with the typical low lying Australian bush lining the sides of the road. Looking ahead the vast blue skies, green foliage, and deep orange of the road project a stunning view into the wilderness. The road was deserted, we passed the odd vehicle heading back to town. About an hour and a half into the drive we come across the Mungo Lodge. What a pleasant sight. The lodge area and the cabins are laid out in a large circle dotted with shady green trees. The lodge itself is clean, bright, and welcoming. Once registered we headed to our cabin. It was just perfect, large, clean, and very comfortable. A beautiful breeze flows from front to back and a quaint veranda out front and a small porch out the back. All the comforts for a relaxing couple of days. We had booked tours so unpacked and headed over to the lodge for more details. The owners and the staff are super friendly and helpful, and we find ourselves on the Walls of China Sunset Tour.
A small group of people, an excellent guide and a perfect night resulted in a very awe-inspiring evening followed by dinner and drinks. I am hoping the photos say enough as words do little to describe the beauty of the area. The changing colours of the landscape minute by minute were awesome to see.
The following day after a quiet relaxing evening was very interesting. We did a small drive and a walk to the surrounding area. The landscape is lunar-like, featuring dried up lake beds and sand dunes for miles. Scrub and berries, small trees, and desolate areas where you think nothing could live. Keeping our eyes alert, we found a small kangaroo and her baby, lizards, and other crawling beings.
After morning tea another organised tour began. The Mungo Woolshed and Visitors centre, the Zanci Station Homestead. Once again, our guide was very knowledgeable, easy to listen to and had many stories to tell. The land is harsh and from the stories told, the people that lived on it were warm, resourceful, and very resilient. We were told The Mungo Lady story, of bones that were discovered in 1968 by a geologist named Jim Bowler. They are said to be about 40,000 years old and show clear signs of intentional cremation and a ritual burial. A further search in 1974 disclosed the bones of a man, buried on his back with hands crossed in his lap and red ochre sprinkled on his body. The details of this ritual showed signs of an advanced culture.
To finish the day a walk around the grounds of the lodge had some interesting moments. Emus, birdlife, lizards, and kangaroos. Dinner and some wine under the stars saw us heading to bed, happy and content with our visit.
An early breakfast before packing and heading the opposite way out of Mungo along another dirt road toward Balranald approx. 2 hrs away. From here we headed to Orange to meet up with some friends for dinner and an overnight stay.
That ends our extended trip and we head home to normality once again. I encourage you all to travel around this beautiful country of ours. There is so much to see. I look forward to reading your comments below. Have you been to any of these places and what did you like or dislike about them?
Too many options with technology – Is this the problem?
I wrote about this subject in one of my first blog posts. The only thing changed since then is more technology and more confusion. It is such a catch 22 situation. If you don’t keep up, life can be quite difficult however to keep up it is quite stressful. I am not sure about anyone else, but I continually hear myself saying things like, ” I am over technology” or “No more passwords” and continually feeling frustrated at my lack of knowledge. The thing is, it is so much a part of our day to day living that we cannot avoid it. Have you noticed how whenever you buy a new appliance there is very little instruction included in the package? You must go on line and everything will be explained. That is true, everything you want is there but unfortunately I have to keep going back to google to find out what all the symbols and abbreviated words mean before I can go on.
There is API, ATM, BSS, CPU, DHCP, DSl, GMAC, IDS, IMAP, LAN, MDF, POP, RAM, SDN, SSID, VC, VPN, WAN, WPA and the list goes on forever. Some of the instructions you receive assume you have done a software engineers degree before buying the product. If I was to rewrite the instructions in language I could understand I am sure it would be 4 pages longer.
We have a security system at home, this is a good thing, and it works we think, The technician installs the equipment, presses a million buttons on the mobile phone and away he goes. We are left with a screen which shows us four different views. He tells us all the wonderful things it will do. We know how to turn the alarm on and off. This is all great and we are happy with what we have paid for. Warning! do not change anything or press the wrong button by mistake, all hell will break loose, and you are left looking at dots and dashes and meaningless symbols until you call the trusty technician for instruction. This is just typical with everything we own now. Sometimes you can be lucky and press the right symbol without even knowing it. You pat yourself on the back and think how clever you are, until the next time when a blank screen makes you question,” is that the right button” Don’t get me started on our own personal motor vehicle advisor Siri who manages the radio/phone/music/GPS and much more I am sure. If you do not speak Siri language forget it. Then there is Google Home which constantly talks back to me and refuses to do what I ask. The only positive statement I can make is to marvel in the middle of the night when the world is in thrown into darkness, I need no lights to find my way around home as it has its own navigational pathway of blinking lights and beeping sounds on every apparatus I own.
I must say here, I would not wish to go back in time before now. I am privileged and I appreciate just how much knowledge technology has bought and how much easier my life has been made by it. What I will say is I envy the younger generations ease with the constant changing evolution of technology. I hope I live for another 20 years to see what is coming next.