The Daily Explorer

October 13, 2008

From Adelaide to Darwin (Part Two)

Australia: October 2008

MOZZIE BYTE (Editor): Welcome back to all our Daily Explorer readers and greetings to those of you who are joining us for the first time. To our regulars, many thanks for reading our online publication – we have had over 3,800 visits to our site since we went live in February this year. Our favourite Aussie journo, Chuck Maboomerang (above) who re-joined the team a few weeks ago, completes his guest spot with us and accompanies Ray as he completes his trip down under and leaves Australia.

Before you hear from Chuck about what Ray has done since he arrived in Alice Springs a few days ago, you may want to take a look at our last issue. In the first of a two-part feature, Ray left Sydney to begin his ‘south to north’ journey from Adelaide to Darwin. Chuck revealed what our global traveller got up to in his last few days in the capital and who he met during a brief stopover in Melbourne. He then tracked Ray’s progress from Adelaide to the tiny, desolate mining town of Coober Pedy and on to Uluru and Kings Canyon in the centre of Australia. And to co-incide with the imminent launch of the latest Bond movie, we also announced the winner of our Daniel Craig ‘Lookalike’ competition after an exhaustive search. If you missed it, you can read it now at: From Adelaide to Darwin (Part One)

Above:  Ray’s 3,000 kilometre ‘south to north’ journey to Darwin (left) takes him through the vast Australian outback, past some of the most stunning sights in the country, including the breathtaking Uluru (right). Read all about the first leg of his trip to Alice Springs, in From Adelaide to Darwin (Part One)

In the second part of our special feature issue, Chuck follows Ray as he explores Alice Springs and the spectacular MacDonnell ranges. He then takes the famous Ghan train to Katherine and heads for the fast growing city of Darwin to complete his journey in Australia. We aim to maintain our high standards of journalism and presentation at The Daily Explorer, so please send us your feedback and help us improve future issues. You can use the comments box online, or email ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at thedailyexplorer@gmail.com

Alice Springs was the name given to the Telegraph Station on the site of the original white settlement in Central Australia. On 31st August 1933, the township of Stuart (named after the English explorer John McDouall Stuart was officially renamed Alice Springs. “Its history is really interesting” Ray told me. “A settlement came into existence as a result of the construction of a repeater station on the Overland Telegraph Line, completed in 1872, which linked Adelaide to Darwin and Great Britain. The line traced Stuart’s route and opened up the interior for permanent settlement. It wasn’t until alluvial gold was discovered at Arltunga, 100 kilometres east of Alice Springs, in 1887 that any significant settlement occurred” said our budding historian.

Above: The town of Alice Springs. Its population of about 30,000 makes it the second-largest settlement in the Northern Territory. Australian Aboriginies make up approximately 17% of the population. Temperatures vary by an average of 20°C from minimum to maximum on any given day. In summer, the temperature reaches 40°C maximum, while in winter it can drop to as low as -7°C. The climate is arid, with little or no rainfall

Below: Map showing regions of the Northern Territory -“This was the first time I had entered the state, the only one in Australia left unexplored by me” said Ray. Our traveller had previously been some 500 kilometres away at Uluru and Kings Canyon prior to his arrival. The map also shows Katherine and Darwin, which were the last two places on Ray’s itinerary before leaving Australia

So what was Ray’s first impression of Alice Springs? “Not good I’m afraid, Chuck – I arrived quite late at night and discovered that I was staying at a pretty shabby backpackers” said our unhappy traveller. “It turns out that this place was located on the wrong side of the Todd River, making it unsafe to walk into town after dark as there are significant numbers of drunken indigenous delinquents hanging around who have been known to cause trouble for visitors” Ray told me. “Fortunately for me, the hostel was full for the rest of the week, so I had to get out and find somewhere else – what luck!” he laughed. “I moved into the YHA hostel in the town centre, on the ‘right’ side of the river and close to all of the amenities and it was a lot better” he added.

Above: The YHA hostel was a much better choice for our traveller, although the ‘Adults Only’ megastore right next to it was definitely not an influencing factor in his choice – “How very dare you? Whatever are you insinuating Chuck” said Ray when I asked him! “It was the fast internet that sealed it for me” added our networked explorer

For most travellers, Alice Springs is a staging post for tours to Uluru. “I was one of the few people in the hostel who had already been there” said Ray. “Most of the other travellers were going the other way and planning their trips there, so at least I could pass on a few tips” he told me. “The MacDonnell Ranges had been recommended to me as worth seeing by several people so having a good look around in that region became the main focus of my agenda” recalled Ray.

The MacDonnell Ranges are a 644 kilometre (400 mile) long mountain range located in the centre of Australia, and consist of parallel ridges running to the east and west of Alice Springs. The range is composed of red sandstone peaks and gorges and was named after Sir Richard MacDonnell (the Governor of South Australia at the time) by John McDouall Stuart, whose 1860 expedition reached them in April of that year. “First, I decided to spend a day in the East MacDonnell’s, and booked myself on to a tour. When my guide came to collect me, I discovered that the other three people who had bought tickets decided to change their plans at the last minute so I basically ended up with my own personal guide for the day” said our lucky traveller.

Above: Map showing Alice Springs (left) and various points along the East MacDonnell Ranges

As a guest of Emu Run Tours, Ray was very well looked after for the day. “My guide, Maree, had spent two years working as a truck driver in the mines, prior to taking up her job as a tour guide. This fascinated me as when I was in Perth last year, where the mining boom is prevalent, I had considered applying for work as a driver myself, to experience what it would be like to do hard physical work in such adverse conditions” explained Ray. “I think she was surprised I was so interested but we struck up a great relationship and it made the day even more enjoyable” added Ray.

Above: Ray heads out in the four wheel drive vehicle with his guide Maree to explore the East MacDonnell Ranges – there are still vast areas of Australia without tarmac roads, which always surprises me at first, but the gravel tracks are no problem if you have the right vehicle” said Ray

Below: If you glance back to the map above, you will see the ‘Corroboree Rock’ marked on the trail – “This place, and others like it, have special significance to the Indigenous (Aboriginal) people” said Ray. “Maree and I were able to spend a few peaceful minutes there without any other visitors around, enabling us to really ‘feel’ the energy of the place” recalled Ray. “The small holes you can see in the rock are the result of thousands of years of erosion by weather”

Above: Emu Tours guide Maree enhances Ray’s experience by giving him background information about the environment in the East MacDonnell Ranges – “Sometimes, it really works to have a guide with you as you see so much more and learn about things you would otherwise miss” said Ray

Below: This river bed may be completely dry, but the trees have adapted to this harsh environment and their roots tap into an abundant water supply just below the surface – “I discovered that the river only flows here once every couple of years and then, it is usually only for a very short time” Ray told me. “But even more amazing is that there are creatures that lay eggs in the sand and they just wait for water to come before they hatch – sometimes several years” said our astounded observer

Above: Temporary respite from the intense heat is provided to Ray in the shade of this ghost gum tree – “These trees are really evolved” he told me. “When water is scarce, they have an ability to cut off the supply to individual branches, which wither and die, enabling the rest of the tree to survive” he explained

In the East MacDonnell Ranges, visitors can learn something about humanity as well as nature, as Ray discovered when Maree took him to see the abandoned gold mining settlement at Artlunga. “When we arrived, I was not quite sure what to make of the place, as it seemed to be just another point of interest for tourists with not much actually left to see” said Ray. “But the more time we spent there, experiencing the extreme isolation and the intense heat, the more it dawned on me that this would have been a really tough existence in 1887, let alone today, and the one thing that made people endure it was the lure of gold and the riches it promised” he added. “It struck me that people in society are still making these sorts of sacrifices today in the name of money, although they may not appear to be quite the same in terms of the physical conditions” observed Ray.

Life here in the late 1800’s was very hard indeed. Artlunga was extremely isolated, lacked water, had limited supplies of even basic food, sufferred extremes of temperature and the cost of living was exorbitant. “To reach this place in the 1880’s, you would need to walk or ride alongside the Overland Telegraph Line from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs, then follow the McDonnell Ranges east for about 120 kilometres. This would take at least a week and often longer, in temperatures that usually exceeded 40°C” Ray told me. “No wonder only a handful of men ever tried it” he added.

Above: All that is left of Artlunga today are a few relics of an era long gone by, with the remains of some buildings in the settlement (left) and the old cyanide tanks (right) which were used in the long process to extract the gold from the rocks it was dug out from

Below: If you think that life is tough where you are, think again – “The shortage of water meant fresh vegetables could not be grown and limited water supplies were drawn from wells and water soaks in nearby creeks. Because of the lack of feed and water for livestock, the cost of transporting food was very high, and these high costs were passed on to the Artlunga residents” explained Ray. “The clothes they are wearing in the photo’s must have been unbearably hot” observed our traveller

Above: Our intrepid explorer goes underground to see what this type of mining was all about – “I could not help wondering if it was all worth it for these guys” said Ray. “They endured such hardship and many of them died in the process, or did not live long enough to enjoy whatever wealth they managed to create. By 1908, it was all over for the people here. In that time, the mine produced 248 ounces of gold from 353 tonnes of ore, a drop in the ocean compared to what the big operators extract today from other mines around the world” he told me

The East and West MacDonnell Ranges stretch out for hundreds of kilometres on both sides of Alice Springs. The traditional owners of the area, the Arrernte people, have made their home in the Central Australian desert in and around Alice Springs for more than 50,000 years. “They believe giant caterpillars called the Yeperenye became the Ranges – they entered this world through one of the dramatic gaps in the escarpments of the area” Ray told me. “Each of the West MacDonnell’s chasms and gorges has its own unique character and scenery, so I decided to go and explore those as well” added Ray.

Above: The scenery of the MacDonnell Ranges is inspiring. With its magnificently coloured rugged gorges and rocky ridges, each of the West MacDonnells’ chasms and gorges has its own unique character and scenery

Below: Aerial view of Simpsons Gap, which has been gouged by millions of years of floods from Roe Creek. It has a permanent pool and rock wallabies live in the gap’s rocky ridges – “Our guide said that if we were lucky, we might see some…. ” said Ray

Above: “…. and we did! This cute little marsupial (left) was surprisingly confident and let us get quite close” said Ray. “The river beds that lead in and out of Simpson’s Gap are pretty much permanently dry, which is why I was amused to see this sign there (right) saying “No Swimming” laughed Ray

Below: Another marvel of nature – “Even though the trunk of this Red River Gum tree is dead, the branches do not seem to care and continue to flourish on their own quite happily, making this one of the few trees in the world that is capable of survival in these conditions” observed Ray

The beautiful Standley Chasm is a popular destination for visitors to the West MacDonnell Ranges. “The walls of the chasm are so high that there is only sunlight for a few minutes around noon each day” said Ray. “The rocks light up in fiery colours reflected by the overhead sun, giving the impression of some sort of giant fracture in the rock. The chasm contains permanent springs and unusual plant life and would be a great excursion just on its own” he observed.

Above: Standley Chasm is hidden at first (left). It is best visited (but most crowded) at midday, when the sun passes overhead to penetrate the chasm, which is 80 metres high and only 8 metres wide at its narrowest point (right) – “It was named after Ida Standley, the Alice’s first schoolteacher” added Ray

Below: It is also possible to visit the Ochre Pits that desert Aboriginal people once used as a quarry for ochre pigments, a valuable traditional material used for paintings and ceremonial body decorations

Above: The spectacular Ormiston Gorge is perhaps the highlight of the West MacDonnell Ranges – “The scenery is really awesome and quite hard to describe without the extensive use of superlatives” said our traveller. “We were able to do one of the short hikes up to the ‘Gum Tree lookout’ and around the rim of the gorge, returning via the dried up riverbed at the bottom” he told me

Below: The view of the river bed at Ormiston Gorge from the Gum Tree lookout a couple of hundred feet above

Above: Ray sits down and looks back towards the Gum Tree lookout in the distance (the single tree on the high cliff towards the right) – “it is really beautiful out here” he said

Below: “Wow! Just look at those two huge symmetrical mounds with a big crack down the middle” said Ray, and he was not talking about the rather large arse of the ranger in the bottom left hand corner of the picture! This is the ‘Ellery Creek Big Hole’ where you can plunge in for a delightful, cooling swim

Returning to the town of Alice Springs, there were a couple of places of interest that our visitor had earmarked to check out, which were the Telegraph House and the School of the Air. “They are quite significant for different reasons” Ray told me. “Originally an ordinary dwelling, the building became the Post Office and Telegraph House in the late 1880’s. Back then, the Overland Telegraph Line was Australia’s only communiction link with the rest of the world – quite hard to imagine now” said Ray. “So every word of world news passed through Alice Springs Telegraph Station, and as a visitor, I was able to see how the set up worked. Compared to today, it was very labour intensive and many people were needed to man the station and receive, translate and deliver messages which were sent along the wire using morse code signals” explained Ray.

Above: The old Post Office and Telegraph Station in Alice Springs was, for a time, the only route for getting information in and out of Australia to or from Great Britain. It was located in the township of Stuart, later renamed Alice Springs, because of it’s proximity to permanent water holes

Below: This revolution in communication was made possible by Samuel Morse (left), who invented the code in 1838. The speed of his electric telegraph changed business, government administration and even the way wars were fought. For the system to work, poles needed to be erected along the entire length of the country from Darwin to Adelaide and beyond, which took hundreds of men an awful lot of blood, sweat and tears to accomplish (right)

The Alice Springs School of the Air provides an educational service for about 120 children living on properties or settlements covering over one million square kilometres of Central Australia. These children grow and develop in a peculiar situation, isolated in a unique environment and their formal education must of necessity be unorthodox. “When I went to have a look, I was able to form a profile of the children they teach” said Ray. “Typically, their pupils will quickly learn to recognise and come to terms with the creatures of the outback, most learn to ride horses at an early age and they are taught the techniques for survival in a potentially hostile environment” he told me. “Many will be well acquainted with horsebreaking, cattle work, droving and drought. Others will be familiar with Aboriginal lore and tradition, regional flora and fauna, or large scale road construction” added Ray.

The School of the Air simply adds to this already substantial education, and attempts to help its isolated pupils relate to the outside world. During the process it would appear that the school’s students develop a maturity and independence in study not usually found in the customary classroom situation. These children know what has to be done, and when, and organise themselves accordingly. They benefit from the individual guidance they receive while working through the lessons which are done at a rate best suited to each individual – and from the individual, personal attention which their teacher can devote to them. On the other hand it is equally obvious that the outback child¹s development in some areas is different from that of his or her city counterpart.

Above: The colourful mural which decorates the exterior wall of the Alice Springs School of the Air – “All lessons are broadcast from here” said Ray. The school was established in June 1951 and teaches children over an area covering 521,000 square miles – double the size of Texas and ten times the size of England

Below: The school has shifted from the use of radio as the primary means of delivering classes, to the Internet, which enables them to provide much more sophistication in what they are able to do (left). Such is the success of the operation, it has attracted attention from people all over the world, and has received many distinguished visitors over the years – “There are photographs on the wall of The Queen, Prince Charles and Diana Spencer (right), marking their visits here” observed Ray

As he was preparing to leave Alice Springs, I called Ray at the YHA and asked him what he was planning next. “I am headed north, towards the town of Katherine, which is the launching pad for the famous Katherine Gorge – something I have been told by other travellers is an absolute ‘must see’ place” he told me. “And rather than take the bus, I have decided to travel on the Ghan train, which is an overnight journey of around 15 hours” added our global nomad. “Although much of the journey will be in the dark, I should be able to see the sunset and hopefully, if I am awake, the sunrise too. The scenery is pretty much the same for the entire journey, so I don’t think I will miss much while I am asleep”.

Above: One of the classic train journeys of the world, the Ghan can transport you the length of the entire country from Adelaide to Darwin – “I was only going on one leg of the journey, enough to experience it and add it to my catalogue of travel adventures” said Ray

Below: This map shows the route of the Ghan, which more or less tracks our travellers epic journey from south to north – “I will spend two or three days exploring Katherine Gorge and then will only be about 350 kilometres from Darwin, so will take the bus from there” explained Ray

Work on the railway was started in 1878 in the south, at Port Augusta just north of Adelaide. Construction slowly pushed its way north to Oodnadatta where it stopped for the best part of forty years. “in that time, camel trains run by hardy Afghan workers, transported goods and people to Alice Springs” Ray told me. “When the railway reached the Alice in 1929, it affectionately became known as ‘The Ghan’. It’s a shame – I would have quite liked to have travelled to Katherine on the back of a camel, although it would have been a lot more uncomfortable and taken ages” said Ray.

Above: One of the distinctive silver carriages of the classic Ghan train – “Just like in Asia, the one thing you notice on the journey is how slow the train is. In some places, I think it would be quicker to walk” Ray told me

Below: The carriage window gave our traveller a fantastic moving view of the sunset – “it made the start of the journey memorable, and luckily for me, I sat next to another traveller from Germany who was very friendly and communicative, so the rest of the journey was a pleasure too” recalled Ray

Katherine Gorge

Katherine Gorge, a deep gorge carved through ancient sandstone by the Katherine River, is the central attraction of Nitmiluk National Park. It is made up of thirteen gorges, with rapids and falls, and follows the Katherine River, which begins in Kakadu. “I was arriving in what they describe as the dry period of the year, which runs roughly from April to October” recalled Ray. “At this time, the Katherine Gorge waters are placid in most spots and ideal for swimming and canoeing although there are plenty of warnings that there may be freshwater crocodiles in parts of the river” added Ray. “I had hoped to take one of the longer, half day treks along the rim of the gorge, but with temperatures around 45°C, the rangers were taking no chances and most of the walks were closed. So instead, I took a short walk to one of the lookout points and then organised a ride on one of the small boats down into one or two of the gorges to take a closer look” he told me.

Above: If you look closely at the top of the rocks in this picture, you will see a small lookout platform, which takes about 20 minutes to reach from the visitor centre – “I was absolutely drenched with sweat by the time I got there, and with very high levels of humidity, I had drunk a lot of my water, so could see why the rangers were imposing restrictions on the longer walks” recalled Ray.

Above: This is the view you are rewarded with from the lookout platform on the rim of the gorge, first one way …..

Below: ….. and then the other

Although the water levels were very low at the time of Ray’s visit, Katherine has a history of flooding, with documented accounts in 1957, 1974, and 1998 (on Australia Day). The 1998 flood devastated the town, and the area was declared a national disaster. The flood resulted from the 300-400 mm of rainwater brought by Cyclone Les that caused the already full Katherine River to rise an additional 21.3 metres. “I saw some pictures from the newspapers of the time and could hardly believe my eyes” said Ray. “The lookout platform you saw in the picture above would have been practically at water level” said our shocked traveller. “The floodwaters inundated the town and much of the surrounding region, requiring the evacuation of many residents” he told me.

Above: Katherine Gorge looks even more spectacular from the water level – “From the boat, we were able to see some of the detailing of the rocks much more clearly, and the gorge itself just winds on for miles” observed Ray

Below: Although I had no intention of trying to leave the boat and swim ashore, there are plenty of signs warning people to the danger of crocodiles if they are thinking about it” Ray told me

Above: The formation of Katherine Gorge has taken place over millions of years – “It makes me realise how short one individual life really is” said Ray

Below: This part of the gorge is commonly known as the ‘Hanging Gardens’, largely because rainwater from the top of the gorge filters through the rock and sustains the plant life which grows quite happily – “Look to the right of the picture and you will see a tree trunk that comes out of the rock about three or four metres up, showing how high the water level rises to in the wet season” observed our traveller

Darwin

The capital city of the Northern Territory, Darwin is situated on the Timor Sea and has a population of around 121,000, making it by far the largest and most populated city in the sparsely peopled Northern Territory, but the least populous of all Australia’s capital cities. It is the smallest and most northerly of the Australian capital cities, and acts as the Top End‘s regional centre. “Although I am glad I came here, it is quite a bland, unimpressive place and I would not be in a hurry to return” said Ray. “It strikes me as a backpacker town, which is to say it is really made for partying, with many bars booming out loud music into the small hours – great if you are into that sort of thing but there is little else if you are looking for an alternative” he told me. “Luckily, there is a cinema with up to date films, so I managed to see a couple in the time I was there” added Ray.

Above: Home while Ray was in Darwin was the aptly named ‘Youth Shack’ backpacker hostel – “As far as they go, it was one of the better places I stayed in, with a decent pool (essential in the 35°C plus temperature) and kitchen. I was in a small four bed dorm, sharing with a couple of young Germans who were here for a working holiday” said Ray

Below: The marina at Cullen Bay is about a twenty minute walk from the central business district where all of the hostels and bars are, but a million miles away in terms of style and noise levels – “It is definitely the well heeled part of town, observed Ray. Over time Darwin has grown from a pioneer outpost and small port into one of Australia’s most modern and multicultural cities. Its proximity to Asia makes it an important Australian gateway to countries such as Indonesia and East Timor

With little of interest to our traveller in the city itself, he turned his attention to some of the natural attractions within accessible range. “I wanted to get out and really explore the landscape and there was nowhere better to do this than Litchfield National Park” Ray told me. “Without a car, the best way of getting in and out of these sorts of places is on a tour and there are hundreds available. It’s a long day, with a 7am pick up and returning around 6.30pm, but it was worth every second because I had an awesome experience” recalled our excited explorer.

Above: Stopping en route to Litchfield, Ray had the opportunity to get a closer look at this rock, which actually turned out to be a giant ‘Cathedral’ termite mound – “Although you are not supposed to, I broke off a piece of the mound and immediately saw literally hundreds of these tiny insects coming out. The mound is made from a mixture of termite excrement, saliva and mud and dries hard in the sun, giving it a rock like appearance” said Ray

Below: They may look like tombstones in a cemetery, but they are actually giant ‘Magnetic’ termite mounds and can be found in many places in the Northern Territory

Litchfield National Park is near the township of Batchelor, about 100 kilometres south-west of Darwin and covers some 1,500 square kilometres of forest, mountains, rivers and springs. Each year, over 250,000 people visit the park. “Without doubt, the water features are the park’s best attraction” said Ray. “As long as I can remember, one of my favourite things to do when travelling is to find mountain spring water to swim in that is so cool and fresh, you can literally drink it from your hands when you are in it. Litchfield from that respect was heavenly” added our nature loving traveller. “We tried three superb waterholes during our visit and had lunch in between” he told me.

Above: The expansive Litchfield National Park, which is about one and a half hours away from Darwin by car and definitely one of the highlights for people visiting the region

Below: The Buley Rockholes, the first of three beautiful, naturally occuring watering holes inside the park

Above: The Buley Rockholes are a long series of cascading plunge pools, which are like a natural spa – “It was quite hard to capture it with my camera because the water is flowing down into lower pools as it flows away towards the trees in the background but you can at least get a sense of it” said our amateur photographer

Below: Just before lunch, Ray and his group stopped for a swim at the stunning Wangi Falls – “These were unlike the Buley rock holes in as much as there was just one giant pool served by two waterfalls. Naturally, most of the people in my group swam to the falls and took a natural shower!” said Ray

Above: Last but not least, our guide took Ray and his group further into the park after lunch to the Florence Falls, which appeared to be much more secluded – “We made our way along a winding track to a 160 step staircase carved out of the rock (left) that eventually leads to the falls (right). To swim in these falls was one of the best experiences of my whole south-north trip” commented Ray

Below: For the last time during his visit to Australia, Ray packages up another set of pictures and notes at the Youth Shack for me and the editorial team at The Daily Explorer – Good onya Ray!

Editors Note: Thanks Chuck for a splendid follow up to your last piece on Ray’s travels in Oz. It has been a pleasure having you on the team again! After 64 days down under, Ray is departing Australia for Nepal, to do some trekking in the Himalayas before the year is out. He will make a brief stop in Bali, to team up with Nikki and both of them will head to Kathmandu via Singapore. We will bring you all of the news and pictures, exclusively in our next issue of The Daily Explorer.

We aim to maintain our high standards of journalism and presentation at The Daily Explorer, so please send us your feedback and help us improve future issues. You can use the comments box online, or email ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at thedailyexplorer@gmail.com

MOZZIE BYTE

Above: From down under, to the top of the world, as Ray leaves Australia and heads for the Himalayas in Nepal. This map which Ray spotted at the School of the Air in Alice Springs gives you an idea of how huge Australia is by comparison to other well known places around the world. Look out for our next issue, due online in a few weeks

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3 Comments »

  1. We just returned to OUR Fast Internet after a gruelling journey by public bus to the border with Myanmar, so it has been a breath of fresh air reading your interesting and lively blog. I’d love to travel by the Ghan over land! I especially liked those cathedral termite mounds and saw the same myself in Northern Nigeria many years ago… fascinating! AMAZING photos Ray, of all those rocks and Gorges. I loved the waterfalls and would have loved a cold shower there! Fabulous! I always wanted to visit Alice Springs after reading the classic book “A Town Like Alice”… ahhh… what a story! The map at the end of your blog really does “highlight” the enormity of Australia. I’ll never complain about a long gruelling journey again! You really are amazing and you have so much stamina! HOW do you do it? What’s the secret recipe? I reckon it’s all the special mushrooms you eat en route! Look forward to reading the next installment… love as always, your biggest fan and admirer… Cream Cheese X

    Comment by Susie Moberly — October 13, 2008 @ 2:54 am

  2. Looks like a pretty amazing trip Ray! I have to say it makes me even more excited that I’m moving to Australia in January. So much to see! We decided that even if we can’t afford to leave Oz for a while we’ll have plenty of travelling to do there. And you’ve just confirmed it! When are you coming back to Chiang Mai? Hope we get to see you before we leave on 7 Jan. Big hugs!

    Comment by Karla — October 17, 2008 @ 3:42 am

  3. What another great Blog. The places you visit are so mysterious, far away and fascinating. Can hardly believe my eyes sometimes. Have you really seen all those wonders? Where you really there? It’s amazing to be kept so up to date and awe inspiring to see what you have seen. Also really appreciate your reflections about humankind and life in general, like how short one life actually is, and also how so many people make such great sacrifices for wealth. Thanks for the thought, the effort and the inspiration.

    Comment by Charlie — October 22, 2008 @ 8:19 pm


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