Kangaroos In The Valley

Kangaroo Island or Kangaroo Valley was a decision posed to me last January. I chose to go to Kangaroo Island. Now I’ve managed to do both :). Both are awesome! I most definitely must find more places with the word kangaroo in their name…

Kangaroo Valley one hundred and fifty kilometres away from Sydney, our day began at Fitzroy Falls in Morton National Park on the way there. There is definitely merit to exploring places with the word ‘fall’ during the wet season…! For the falls were not very big… We did however find Yarrunga Valley with a landscape similar to that of the Blue Mountains, stopped at a number of lookouts, found a grotto and got a good morning exercise workout!

A winding, steeply descending road then took us into Kangaroo Valley. It was a pretty impressive descent onto the valley floor. We were introduced to Hampden Bridge. Built in 1898 by Ernest de Burgh, it is apparently Australia’s last nineteenth century surviving wooden suspension bridge. Walking the bridge, I saw people swimming underneath it. Eating lunch in a local Café called Café Bella, we then wandered the township. Quirky shops, cardboard kangaroos, out of date postal Santa’s, an owl marking a spot where nothing happened, a notice on how to open a book and a combined English, Scottish and Australian bank were all found! The town had a very good feeling about it. I could have quite easily spent hours getting lost in its nooks and crannies :).

Venturing onto Tallowa Dam, the valley showed what it had to offer. Awesome views and an impressive dam facilitating the movement of freshwater fish up and down stream, I snapped some funky boats, found a very large goanna and a sign that informed me if I climbed the fence I could face a fine of $11,000! Perhaps not ;). Back through the valley, up to Cambewarra lookout for some perspective, it was unfortunately a little bit too cloudy to see too far. Our road then led us on to some wineries. Well it would be rude not to… ;). Stopping at three, Em and I found a surprising love for unoaked chardonnay, we all enjoyed some dessert wines and plied with so many dry whites at one winery, there was only one outcome – I bought a bottle of a particularly nice Moscato! Trying some nice liqueurs, we also tasted a capsicum flavoured wine… A bit strange, I am still not sure what to make of it… Or what you would serve it with other than stuffed peppers…? ;). Encountering yet another chess board at a winery (what is with that?) and a big foot car we headed back on our way to Sydney. Relaxing ourselves down on the sofa, me and Em ended up watching Thelma and Louise on the telly, which neither of us had seen before. What an adventure they had. And what an end to a movie…! I had an absolutely awesome day. Kangaroo Valley is beautiful. If you’re in the area, make sure you go :).

Travel Theme: Possibility

With access to a computer, Ailsa’s new travel theme of possibility appeared in my reader. This is a well timed theme for me. Possibilities… 2013 for me held so many possibilities. Kangaroo Island or Kangaroo Valley last january; whether to stay in Adelaide or road trip the Great Ocean Road; Uluru or Tasmania from Melbourne; what farmwork to do; east, west or south in Katherine then what on earth to do in Perth. Some of these decisions were taken out of my hands. Various things were important at different times – cost, achievement, needing to work and wanting to be warm! I made the decision to be in Sydney exactly because of the possibilities it offered. The fact that it offered a window of possibility the same day a door shut…

Port Arthur's Windows

I love that travelling lets you have many possibilities. What you will find when you take those initial first steps… Finding a road to have a journey on and the directions and possibilities you will find along the way… North or south? East or West? Whether to stop a little longer than planned? The people who you meet that will inspire… Perhaps getting on a plane to another country… Perhaps a coin toss, the help of a map or the words of a friend to help you decide… Of course I wonder what could have happened with possibilities gone away, but having a choice is the best thing about travelling on your own. Sometimes they come back around :). Working out the best way can make it seem all the more rewarding when you eventually get there but if it doesn’t work you can just move on :-). I am lucky to have had so many possibilities. I have loved where my journey has taken me and what I’ve found along the way. I am already thinking of the possibilities 2014 offers me. There are so many possibilities everywhere around us. What will you choose?

Travel Theme: Simplicity

With a new travel theme of ‘simplicity‘ and some time to look at my many photos, finding a variety of shots spanning Australia, this is my take on the theme.

A contrast of little and large, taken on Stradbroke Island in Queensland, this day is one of my favourites in Australia.

This was an unwelcome ant that wanted the same when picking seeds on Kangaroo island and an Emu popping up to say hello in Victoria :-).

Some pelicans having a rest near Kangaroo Island and looking out on Cape Otway's lighthouse on the Great Ocean Road, representing peaceful travelling times.

Finally, a last two from my previous destination, capturing new growth of a zucchini plant and watching a fire burn on Territory Day in Katherine, Northern Territory. It is the only day those living in the territory can set off fireworks. Fire reminds you of how small and insignificant you can be sometimes :-).

Have a look at 'Where’s my backpack‘ for others’ interpretations :-).

Travel Theme: Contrast

With a new travel theme of contrast, this is my take on it. Traversing Australia, with somewhat of a botanical nature with shots from Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne's Botanical Gardens, there are also two from Kangaroo Island. Mainly contrasting colours, I also loved the contrasting tree types in Adelaide.

Reflections on a Month Gone By

A cloudy morning turned into yet another beautiful day. A day filled with plant propagation, seed collection and interesting chat, the last day of my volunteering month was completed. Loving every minute of the project work, further volunteering opportunities may be considered. Keen to see the output of a week of seedling work, I may well be back in July to help plant some of the many trees, perhaps some that I have sown, into the ground.

The day finished, high visibility vest free, we were given the opportunity to see some of the island. Passing by the American River, atop the 512 steps of Prospect Hill and surrounded by the waves at Pennington Bay I was blown away by the island. Truly beautiful and only a fraction covered. With time in between, I was able to reflect on the weeks that had passed.

Week 1, with perhaps not a lot of conservation aims achieved, I was able to reconnect with old friends, embrace other cultures, learn a language and make new friends. A hard week personally, I am glad that there were so many interesting people around. Week 2, an embracing of the non native challenge and the finding of a place that lets me feel free. Week 3, the learning of a new skill and a reminder of why I left Scotland. Week 4, undoubtedly the best conservation wise, but perhaps not for meeting people, I have achieved the aim I sought. Reflecting, perhaps this time of year in Australia is not the best for a variety of conservation work, however, my week on Kangaroo island has let me see that conservation work focused on creation of life rather than maintaining areas would be a potential career interest. Happily staying on kangaroo island, being paid for the work I had undertaken would be no problem! With the onward journey edging round the corner, I will be looking for myaporum and pine trees out of the corner of my eye!

A last supper BBQ at Hog Bay, luggage van loaded, we watched the sunset over kangaroo island as we headed back east. A truly awesome week, I think it was a decision well made!

Creating life on Kangaroo Island

I woke up to face day 2 of the last week of my volunteering. Located at the Habitat Restoration Project of the Kangaroo Island Nationally Threatened Plant Programme, we are helping to prepare for the island’s annual tree planting festival in July. Aiming to reinstate habitats for native plants, we were sent out to collect myaporum berries in the morning, to produce seedlings from. The sun out looking beautiful, this did not seem such an arduous task. A well earned morning break, we then spent a couple of hours filling cell trays with potting soil and grass seeding. In comparison to the week before, with a beautiful blue sky overhead, after my weeks of killing non native species the change to creating life was a welcome one.

Finishing the day at Stokes Bay, feet in the water, sun overhead, the island showed off what it had to offer. A drive past some pelicans offering a picture postcard moment was too good to pass up. Driving back to our residence for the week, past the lengths of vegetation and farmland, the preceding weeks made me look at the island differently than perhaps I would of as a tourist. A self made evening meal of chicken stir fry was enjoyed by all and dessert of ice cream reminded me of my week of pine tree felling.