Burnie, Tasmania, Australia

There are many forests surrounding the town  of Burnie from the UNESCO World Heritage area that contains Tasmania’s most famous mountain, Cradle Mountain, to the rain forests of the Tarkine wilderness. The town has a long-running logging industry and  woodworkers, papermakers and print artists abound. The forests also contain rare wildlife, ranging from wedge-tailed eagles to echidnas and the fabled Tasmanian devils. The land is excellent for farming and Burnie’s agricultural products  include award-winning single-malt whiskeys, hard apple cider, chocolate, trout and salmon, hormone-free milk and cheeses and beef from Cape Grim in the far northwest. It is also known for having the world’s cleanest air.

Today, I visited the home of what is said to be the largest collection of Tasmanian wildlife in the world at the family-run Wing’s Wildlife Park set among 106 acres of bush land. The park functions in part as a haven for injured or orphaned wildlife, providing a rehabilitation area to help them re-enter the wild. To get there we travelled along the Bass Highway coastal route, via the resort town of Ulverstone and through the countryside, before arriving at Gunns Plains and Wing’s Wildlife Park. We had plenty of time to explore the park, and to meet the animals and their keepers. We saw  Tasmanian devils (finally!),  kangaroos and their smaller relations called pademelons, emus, ostriches, wombats, echidnas,  and quite a few birds, including my favourite, the pink galah, which I think is lovely but which is considered a pest. There was a reptile enclosure and I’m not fond of snakes but I had a quick visit. There were also plenty of native freshwater fish, black swans, birds of prey and native hens in the wetland area.  Afterwards we returned to Burnie passing by pastoral farmlands and through the town of Ulverstone. 

After the tour I went to the Makers’ Workshop in Burnie. This museum-cum-arts-centre won the Tasmanian Architecture Award in 2010. Local artists, including papermakers, have workshops here so that you can see them at work. You can also take a  papermaking workshop or tour, and of course buy any of the finished products.  The quality was excellent, the crafters were friendly and the prices were also quite good. The photos in order: young pademelons,  juvenile Tasmanian Devil, wombat, Mama Kangaroo and baby Joey, parrot, galah, cockatoos and farmland.

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Penneshaw, Australia

We did not make it into Penneshaw. The winds were 51 kts and it was impossible to lower the tenders. The Captain also said that the anchor would not hold in those conditions. We sheltered for several hours in the lee of the island before heading off to Burnie Tasmania, our next port. The Captain said to expect rough seas with waves of 4 to 5 metres ( 12-15 ft.)  However, here is a little about the island.

Kangaroo is the Australian continent’s third-largest island. Penneshaw, its main ferry port, has a population of less than 300 people. Roads run through the fields, scrub and dense gum forests of this spectacular unspoiled destination. It remains one of the best places to see Australian marsupials in the wild. Almost half the island remains bush or national park, sheltering koalas, echidnas and a million or so Tammar wallabies.  Marine mammals also make a healthy showing on Kangaroo Island.

I had booked an excursion that would have taken me to see the following places:

  1. Seal Bay Conservation Park, home to a protected colony of Australian sea lions.
  2. Pass through rugged bush land to spot koalas.
  3. A gourmet lunch served in an authentic bush setting.
  4. The island’s two most iconic landmarks–Remarkable Rocks and Admiral’s Arch. These geological phenomena re located in the heart of Flinders Chase National Park. Remarkable Rocks are bizarre granite boulders shaped over 500 million years, while Admiral’s Arch features a magnificent archway sculpted by the elements, where New Zealand fur seals can be seen frolicking in the water below.
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Adelaide, Australia

I took the train into Adelaide from the Outer Harbour where we were docked. Today was the annual Christmas parade which draws some 250,000 people into the city and  the weather was blustery and cool, feeling more like fall than spring, and it seemed more in keeping  for those of us used to a northern Christmas.  The parade route was adjacent to the South Australian Museum and the Art Gallery of South Australia both of which I visited while the parade was on, so I missed seeing Santa!

The South Australian Museum is a natural history museum and research institution founded in 1856. It occupies a complex of buildings on North Terrace in the cultural precinct of the Adelaide Parklands. It has some very interesting displays relating to Australia and the Pacific Islands.

IMG_0302IMG_0303Fossils/ Gypsum

IMG_0312IMG_0322New Guinea house/boomerangs

Art Gallery of South Australia offers a comprehensive overview of Australian art, both historic and contemporary, with a special focus on indigenous art and an Asian collection that includes the only dedicated Islamic gallery in Australia. I particularly enjoyed the small section devoted to Japanese art.

I then went to the Adelaide Central market which was founded in 1869. It is located at the heart of the Central Business District and hosts more than 80 shops which offer a selection of food reflective of Adelaide’s multicultural population.  It has  a large food court and I had my lunch there.

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I then took the free loop bus to the Adelaide Botanic Garden which is a 51 hectare public garden at the north-east corner of the Adelaide city centre, in the Adelaide Park Lands. It has some very interesting plants from Australia and around the world. One tree of particular interest is a the Wollemi Pine. It is called a living fossil as until recently when  a couple of stands of it were found in a deep gorge 120 km north of Sydney, it was known only by fossils of leaves, cones and minute pollen grains.

IMG_0329IMG_0341Wollemi Pine/Cacti

I walked through the shopping district on my way back to the train station. Tomorrow we are to go to Kangaroo Island. However, the weather will delay our departure from Adelaide and while the Captain thinks we can get to Kangaroo island on time, the big issue there will be the fact that we have to tender ashore. If the winds there are like we have today in Adelaide, we may not be able to go ashore.

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Albany, Australia

Established in 1826, Albany was the first European settlement in Western Australia and quickly grew into a bustling commercial hub.  During the 19th century, Albany played an important role as a centre of shipping between Britain and its Australian colonies, as it was long the only deep water port on the continent. It was  through Albany that some 40,000 Anzac troops departed for Europe during World War I.  The city went into  decline when the port of Fremantle was opened and it became the centre for shipping of goods and mail for Western Australia. However, it appears to be a shopping centre for the region as it has far more stores than the local population would appear to be able to support and it is still  major port for the shipment of grain and silica.

The Whaling Station here, which did not cease operations until 1978, has been converted to a museum on the history of the industry. It has the distinction of being the last operating station in both the Southern Hemisphere and the English-speaking world. Humpback, southern right and blue whales are now the subject of whale watching expeditions from June to October.

The Western Australian Museum – Albany overlooking Princess Royal Harbour hosts exhibitions and public programs on the natural and social history of the region. Refurbished in 2010, the museum includes various exhibits scattered around the museum’s grounds. The Residency was first constructed in 1850 and served as the home of the local administrator, who had the title of government resident, from 1873 to 1953. Today the building houses exhibits that focus on the histories of both the Aboriginal and Wadjella (or non-Aboriginal) populations of the area.  There are also other small buildings such as the One Teacher School and some old cottages in the area and the (replica?) of the Brig Amity is also nearby. Several homes and cottages built in the 1830s are also of historic note.

IMG_0021IMG_0036School & ResidencyIMG_0031IMG_0043Oldest housesIMG_0057IMG_0047Brig, Arts Centre & Marina

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Freemantle (Perth), Australia

Perth and its port, Fremantle, were first settled in 1829 by the Swan River colonists as free colonies in contrast to the country’s penal colonies. In Fremantle, many historical buildings remain, from the P&O Building to the Fremantle Prison, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Western Australia which served as a prison for nearly 140 years, the Round House, the Fremantle Market Hall, where shoppers once arrived by horse and carriage, and the Old Courthouse.

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Perth, the capital of Western Australia, which I visited on the first day of our overnight stay, is a 30 minute ride from Fremantle by a commuter train.  It is inland from Fremantle and is on the Swan River. I followed a walking tour around the city centre to see both the old and modern buildings such as the Government House, the Supreme Court, the Parliament House, the Cloisters, His Majesty’s Theatre, the Swan Bell Tower and street art.

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Then I went to the Kings Park and Botanic Garden which is a fantastic Australian Botanic Garden containing an array of Western Australian flowers, trees and shrubs some of which are on the way to extinction. Plant species are grouped into themed areas. A tree top walkway connects some of them.  They range from the Gija Jumulu boab (a type of baobab tree), a 750-year-old relic that was transplanted from the  Kimberley region nearly 2,000 miles north to large stands of trees and small garden areas such as the banksia garden. Here are the boab and some of my favourite plants.

 

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The Art Gallery of Western Australia holds 20th-century paintings from Australia and Britain and has one of the world’s preeminent collections of indigenous art as well as the best assemblage of Western Australian art. Its only shortcoming is that the art is arranged by chronological order and not by area of provenance. Here is one of my favourite pictures by the late aboriginal artist Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula called Running water – bush tucker.

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Geraldton, Australia

We almost didn’t call here.  We were supposed to tender into this port and the Captain suspected that large swells would make that impossible. He arranged in advance for us to dock in the commercial port.  As it was, they still had some difficulty tying up the ship. This port was added not long before the cruise started because of the cancellation of an overnight stay on the Great Barrier Reef. I have done that overnight stay and as there was nothing to see, I was happy to come to Geraldton, a small city of about 35,000 people. This coastal city in the Mid West region of Western Australia has roots that extend back 40,000 years through the Wajarri people who make distinctive paintings, combining dots of ochre and earth-based pigments. This is wine and agricultural country.  However, coal was discovered in the region in 1848 and the commercial port is still busy exporting large amounts of coal to the rest of the world. There is also a lobster fishing industry and locally Geraldton is known as the “Lobster Capital of the World.” The Mediterranean climate is perfect for water sports of all kinds and I started my walk along the esplanade built beside the seashore.  Early on a Sunday morning many people were out on the beach and strolling along the esplanade.  There are some colourful art installations to see as you walk along. My route took me to the excellent Western Australia Museum which is quite new and sets out the history of the area from prehistoric times.  I then wandered through a local Sunday market on my way to to visit the HMAS Sydney Memorial which highlights Australia’s largest naval tragedy and the 645 men that went down with the HMAS Sydney in 1941. After decades of searching, the wreck of the ship was finally found in 2008 off the coast of Shark Bay. The memorial on Mt Scott includes a metallic dome roof made from 645 seagulls, representing those that were lost. Lastly I went to the Geraldton Art Gallery. This small gallery contains work of modern Australian painters representative of the region.

IMG_0009IMG_0001IMG_0002This piece of art plays music if the weather is very stormy.

IMG_0006 Art honouring the traditional custodians of the land, the Amangu and Naaguja people

IMG_0010These are the public washrooms and wi fi hotspot.

IMG_0019HMAS Sydney Memorial

IMG_0012The town, our ship and the coal loading facilities in the port.

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Benoa, Denpasar (Bali) Indonesia

Indonesia is made up of more than 13,000 islands.  Beautiful temples and shrines of all sizes are spread across the island, Bali is well known for its arts—traditional music and dance, painting, wood and stone carvings, silver jewellery and ikat and batik textiles. The island’s artistic centre is the village of Ubud which unfortunately was not on my tour.

I took a tour to rural East Bali.  We began with a visit to Klungkung Kertagosa, the remains of an old Balinese kingdom, to see a building designed and built in 1710. The compound contains the Bale Kambang floating pavilion and the Kertagosa (Royal Court of Justice) with its elaborate ceiling murals. The latter also contains replicas of the chairs on which the King and his advisors, including a Hindu priest, would sit when deciding on cases brought before them.

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Passing through the rural countryside with great views of the local area,  we continued to Rendang where we had an Indonesian buffet lunch in a local restaurant overlooking the stunning rice terraces.  Balinese cuisine which reflects Chinese and Indian influences, uses blends of aromatic spices to season grilled meats (though not beef because Bali is an island of Hindu culture in mostly Muslim Indonesia), fresh seafood, rice and vegetables and it was delicious.  

IMG_0075 The view from my seat in the restaurant.

We continued to Besakih, the Mother Temple of Bali, which sits 1,000 feet up the volcanic slopes of Mt. Gunung Agung.  This is the island’s largest mountain and Besakih is its largest temple. It is comprised of 23 separate, but related, individual temples. The most important of these is Pura Penataran Agung, a six-tiered temple that is terraced up the side of the mountain. Only worshipers are allowed into the temples themselves, but it was still an impressive site to visit.

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  Lastly we visited Puri Agung Karangasem Palace, more commonly known as the Tirta Gangga Water Palace, built in the 19th and 20th centuries by the first king of the Karangasem Kingdom. The architecture of this palace combines three different styles: Balinese influence can be found on the carving of Hindu statues and the reliefs on the walls of the building; European influence is seen in the architecture of the main building with its large veranda; and Chinese architecture is seen in the style of the windows, doors and other ornaments. It contains a series of pools and a swimming pool fed by a natural spring and has many small beautiful garden areas.

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My only negative comment but this tour was the inordinate mount of time that we spent travelling to reach these venues which in themselves did not take much time to visit.

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