Tiwi Islands, Australia

Today I took a 2.5 hour ferry ride to Bathurst island in the Tiwi Islands north of Darwin. Two others and I were met by our indigenous guide, Viv, who took us to Tiwi Design, an artistic centre where many local  indigenous artists produce both silk screen printing, paintings, pottery and carvings.  The work of some of these artists costs thousands of dollars. The artists have been producing here for over 30 years. We were met by some of the artists who performed a welcoming ceremony which started with a smoke ceremony followed by dancing.  We had a “cuppa”and some damper which is popular in Australia but unknown to me. Usually, it is made simply with self rising bread and water, but is then cooked in a frying pan and not baked.  Viv took us on a tour of the historic part of the town. For those who know something of Australian WWII history, even if only from the movie Australia, you will know that Darwin was bombed many times. A Catholic priest on Bathurst Island saw the Japanese planes coming over the first time and tried to warn the city to no avail. He then led a rescue effort to get some people on the island back to Darwin for evacuation.  Those facts are represented in the movie, scenes of which were shot on the island. The original telegraph building  and the old church are still standing. There is also a very nice museum. It contains artefacts and pictures which represent the indigenous history of the island.  After lunch, we each chose a design for a screen printing, chose the fabric and paint colours and were shown how the process worked.  The designs were those by famous artists.  We each received our printed item as a souvenir.  This is my last stop in Australia. I am off to Shanghai for some retail therapy and to see a few museums. I will not likely post anything further at this time. The blog will resume next summer with a trip to Ireland and Scotland.  Our photography on Bathurst Island was restricted but here are a few pictures.

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Telegraph office                                     Church

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Welcoming ceremony                         Hundreds of years old tree

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Darwin, Australia

Today I took a small group tour with Northern Territory Indigenous Tours to Litchfield National Park. It rained heavily last night and the area to which we were to go for our lunch was flooded and closed off. That was not a  problem. Tess, the owner of the tour company, owns land in the park area and that is where we went. First however, we went to the  Florence Falls for a walk and swim with some interpretation by Tess’s husband, Greg. While Tess prepared lunch, we swam again in her creek.  Lunch was kangaroo, crocodile and barramundi, cooked  over an open fire, with fruit and salad.  It was delicious.  After lunch we travelled through the park stopping for interpretation of more flora and fauna, by both Tess and Greg, and then before heading back to town, stopped at the Wangi Falls for another swim. Tess imparted  lot of information about aboriginal culture and the issues faced by aboriginal people in Australia today.  The weather was quite pleasant today – overcast and relatively cool, and the day was one of the best on my trip.

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Florence Falls

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Termite Mounds/ Wangi Falls

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Bower bird and nest                                                                   Lunch

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Alice Springs, Australia

  Today I went to the Alice Spring Desert Park. It is a wonderful park which shows the natural wonders of arid Australia including animals  and plants and their use by Aboriginal people. I went to the Nature theatre where I saw free flying birds of prey (it takes about 18 months to train them for the display.)  I also saw a  lot of rare and endangered animals  in the nocturnal house as well as many spring flowers. It rained yesterday – an unusual occurrence which brought out the blooms. Tonight I leave for Darwin.

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Kings Canyon, Australia

On Sunday afternoon I went by bus to Kings Canyon to the Kings Canyon Wilderness Lodge. This was glamping at its finest. I had a very comfortable tent with a huge modern bathroom, excellent dinner and breakfast and wonderful staff. There were three of us there. The other couple were Spanish but fortunately we were able to get along in French. Monday morning I went to do  guided walk within the gorge of Kings Canyon. It was 40C and I did not want to do the rim. In fact it closed soon after we arrived. The tour guide was also the bus driver who drove me up and would afterwards drive me to Alice Springs. The walk was very interesting and I saw  lot of trees that I had read  about. The trees in Australia are completely different from anything we have in North America . Many are types of Eucalyptus. Here are some photos. Sorry for the short post but this tour is moving to fast for me to catch up.

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Ayers Rock, Australia (Uluru and Kata-Tjuta)

Saturday I flew to Ayers Rock and immediately after checking in started a 5 hour tour to see Uluru, the aboriginal name and the one commonly now used, for Ayer’s Rock. Uluru is famous because it is the largest monolithic rock in the world. I went with  a small group family owned company called SEIT Tours. The guides, Emily and Francesca, were terrific.  We went on  few short walks at the base while they provided a lot of information and then had a  sunset viewing and  champagne  toast. On Sunday morning, Emily guided us on  sunrise tour of Kata-Tjuta ( formerly called The Olgas) followed by a picnic breakfast in the bush.   The food and the extra long tours were features of SEIT Tours who I can happily recommend.  The hotels and campgrounds in the Ayers Rock Resort are all under one management. You can charge  meals at any hotel back to your room. The staff in the hotels are very good about confirming your tours and pickups etc.  There are also other tour companies including the major Australian  companies who offer packages and tours at the resort. 

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Sydney, Australia (docked at Circular Quay)

This is just  quick post to let you know that I have arrived back in Sydney. Tomorrow I head to Uluru (Ayer’s Rock.) I had a  lazy day today as I m fighting the flu. My hotel is just across the street from Circular Quay so I did walk around Circular Quay a bit and went back this evening to watch Ms Maasdam sail away.  Here are  some pics: the view from my window when I woke up this morning; the Maasdam sailing away past the Opera House; the jacaranda trees in bloom on Circular Quay.

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Melbourne, Australia

 Melbourne is consistently voted one of the world’s most liveable cities. It is Australia’s cosmopolitan heart with cutting-edge art and architecture, historic galleries, attractions and museums, plus a range of restaurants, bistros, markets and bars. It’s renowned for its sporting culture, home to the esteemed Melbourne Cricket Grounds. Melbourne is also the gateway to Victoria’s world-class wineries and spectacular coastline sights.  Today I took a self guided walking tour around the centre of town and through  couple of the lovely parks. In one of the, you can see Captain Cook’s house, transplanted from England. I then went to the Art Gallery of Victoria  Founded in 1861.  It has one of the most impressive collections in the southern hemisphere. The three floors of excellent international art offer everything from the ancient to the contemporary, with highlights including an extensive Asian art section and an Oceanic gallery dedicated to Pacific indigenous cultures. To see the NGV’s Australian collection, you have to go to the Ian Potter Centre at nearby Federation Square.

Southbank is the waterfront precinct along the Yarra River where you’ll find such prestigious cultural venues as The Arts Centre, Melbourne Theatre Company and the National Gallery of Victoria. It’s also known for its restaurants and bars, and is usually packed with locals and visitors drinking, dining and watching the street performers.

I returned to the ship early as I think I am getting another cold.  We arrive in Sydney on Friday and on Saturday, I fly to Uluru ( Ayer’s Rock.)

Here are  a few pictures from this morning. They start with Southbank, the parks and Captain Cook’s house.

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