NEWSFLASH! My book hits the road! Did you miss my Channel 7 Weekend Sunrise 'Downunder Dunnies' appearance? Watch the Video HERE!


Australia's Scenic Public Toilets #12 - Largs Bay, South Australia

Much of the appeal of Australia's Scenic Public Toilets lies in their surroundings. Australia's amazing coastal, rainforest, outback, regional, beach, bush and desert attractions often feature conveniences set amongst magnificent scenery – and sporting world class views.

BUT … sadly, the actual amenities blocks usually don't score highly in ANY kind of 'WOW' factor. No matter how spectacular the setting, those ubiquitous rectangular brick buildings just scream 'PUBLIC TOILET'! Even their more eco-friendly-upmarket green-painted-wood-and-galvanised-iron-with-own-rainwater-tank cousins couldn't possibly be mistaken for anything but what they are!

So when you're looking for innovative toilet art (as one does!), you probably wouldn't think to visit your local public toilet block, right? RIGHT!

Well, not unless your local is at Largs Bay!

The ocean-themed decorative AND functional mosaics momentarily mask the building's true purpose. Although logically, what else would a smallish brick building on the Largs Bay foreshore near a public walkway and jetty actually be?

The view from the amenities is marvellous - in all directions! Straight ahead – the jetty. Coastal dune vegetation off to the right – with this sign!! To the left – the sweep of the beach and bay heading up the coast to Semaphore.

And to the back, the fabulous Largs Pier Hotel!!

So fine on a typical Adelaide spring day, why would you want to be anywhere else??


Red's Round the World Extravaganza! #2

Regular readers will know I'm one-eyed about the utter fabulousness of OZ travel !!  But 'Round the World' Extravaganza #1 showcased some fabulous world travel destinations (including OZ!), travel resources and a travel blog network to join.  Cool, huh??

Well get ready to link up for Extravaganza #2!  Follow the rules below - but more importantly, spread the word - and let's make THIS extravaganza even bigger and better than #1!!  That way, EVERYONE wins!
Now!  Some of you might be thinking your travel stories aren't that interesting.  But don't be shy - if there's ANY travel-related post on your blog then come on down and hook up!!

Remember - while it might not be exotic to you – it probably WILL be to most everyone else!

What's in it for you?
  • Go on!  Prove me wrong about OZ being the best travel destination in the world!!
  • Showcase your travel writing and pictures
  • Promote your favourite destinations
  • Show off your home town/country/city/attractions
  • Show off your blog to new readers
  • Find some great new blogs
  • Get some ideas for your next holiday with a virtual tour of the best destinations
AND ... as a special bonus extra, this blog hop is proud to join in with Blog4NZ - a worldwide blogging event to promote and support New Zealand (NZ) travel following the Canterbury earthquake earlier this year.

SO ... if you've got a travel post about NZ, please link that one up below - and let your facebook and twitter friends know all about #blog4NZ. 

Of course not everyone's lucky enough to have visited NZ - if that's you, PLEASE play anyway and link up your non-NZ travel post. 

However you play, please leave some blog love by visiting and commenting on the New Zealand posts - I'd love to see you all there one day!!

Too exciting, isn't it?? Here's how to play!!

  1. Submit details of a travel-related post from your blog in the linky below with
    a) a short description putting the COUNTRY first (eg NZ– Blog4NZ)
    b) a link to the POST (eg
  2. Add my Button to your post OR blog (button and code at left).  If you can, add the blog hop code below to your post as well - readers can then 'hop' from one link to the next, AND can join in from YOUR post
  3. Spread the word - follow/tweet/email the link/facebook (use #Blog4NZ) - more participants means more traffic for you and your blog!
  4. Spread the love – visit as many other participants as you can. Follow/leave comments as you wish!!
  5. ENJOY!
Take the virtual tour by visiting the links below!  Who knows where you could end up?!  Australian beaches, New Zealand hikes, Egypt adventures - the possibilities are endless!!

Thanx for joining in! 
Email Subscribers – To join in and see all the fabulousness, take the link from your email to the actual blog post and check out the entries for yourself!

  1. New Zealand - A Slice of Heaven!
  2. New Zealand - NZ Tourism
  3. Australia: A stripper in the outback
  4. So you think you know Germany?!
  5. NZ Taking the Oath amongst Maori Hospitality
  6. Venice: Men in White Coats & Pork Signs from Above
  7. The killing Fields of cambodia.
  8. Philippines - Puerto Galera in One Day
  9. China, Shanghai. Just another (unusual) day!
  10. Danger Dogs from Nepal. Folk Art from the Himalaya
  1. Blog4NZ - Rotorua (by Travel Wonders)
  2. Israel - The 72-hour trip of a lifetime!
  3. Blog 4 New Zealand: Farewell Spit in Golden Bay
  4. Around Nilambur: Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala
  5. Queen Mary 2 Docked next to Norwegian Star
  6. Ice Climbing @ Matanuska Glacier, Alaska! must try!
  7. Nilambur Pattu and Kovilakam

  8. This linky list is now closed.

    What is a blog hop?
    Get the code here...

New Zealand - A Slice of Heaven!

I was born in Palmerston North, New Zealand (NZ). I have no real memories of the time between my birth and our departure when I was 2, but photos with the family cat – we called it 'Boozy' to my mother's chagrin – trigger feelings of vague familiarity.

But no photos are needed to assist my recall of some of the top New Zealand tourist attractions we subsequently visited on two family holidays! Although I was still very young, my memories are crystal clear.

Yeah, so what?

As a general rule, childhood memories are dodgy at best, especially after reaching adulthood, where the unreliability factor increases exponentially with every passing year. But while I was 7 or 8 on our last visit, and I can't clearly recall the logistics of the trip, my memories of New Zealand's scenic wonders are scarily reliable – unlike many other memories from that age!!

But who says those memories are reliable? Glad you asked! I checked the NZ Tourism website to see if I'd got the place names right – and the photos almost exactly match what I recall!

What's so amazing the memories have lasted for 40-odd many several years??

Rotorua's incredible boiling mud, and stories of both animal and human deaths in its seething depths certainly made an impression. My natural tendency to ghoulishness may well have been fed by these grisly tales, although I don't recall being afraid. And the steam that rose from the ground – WOW! That certainly made show and tell when I got back to school! And I certainly knew which mental image to call on to match 'double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble …' - somewhat appropriate, given the Scottish connection with New Zealand's heritage!

The Franz Josef glacier was a disappointment to my young literal mind – why wouldn't a frozen river be much colder? Scott of the Antarctic was surrounded by howling blizzards and swirling snow – so why weren't we? I was devastated that normal clothing was more than adequate. However, as my first conscious memory of snow and ice, I recall the rifle-cracks of ice sheeting off into the meltwater (see? Geography IS worthwhile!!) and my disbelief that ice wasn't pure white like in the pictures …

And what can I say about Milford Sound that hasn't already been said? The scary depth of the water, the spectacular peaks, the awesome scenery of the cruise – incomparable! Although much too young to articulate it, I thought we'd been transported into a parallel universe!

And maybe we had. The glow worm caves provided another mental image to match C. S. Lewis' 'The Silver Chair' when Jill and Eustace are taken underground. It's no surprise to me that the film of arguably the most well known fantasy tale ever – Lord of the Rings – was shot in New Zealand.

And other images come thick and fast. The glorious scenery of Mt Cook. The Pancake Rocks – perhaps feeding into my later love of texture. The Cook Strait ferry crossing, complete with dolphins. The Air New Zealand complimentary tikis in various sizes that my sister and I fought over for years … yes, it's a slice of heaven all right!

Whenever I hear New Zealand musician Dave Dobbyn's 'Slice of Heaven' - theme from the 'Footrot Flats' movie – I can't help but think he's given the world a simple word association test for New Zealand.

One day I'll go there again...
In the meantime, I'll enjoy it through New Zealand authors Janet Frame, Alan Duff, Ngaio Marsh and Booker Prize winner Keri Hulme. And through the music of Split Enz, Crowded House and Dragon. Watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and actors Sam Neill, Russell Crowe, young Oscar winner Anna Paquin and Temuera Morrison. And of course, through the timeless music of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

If further proof of New Zealand's unique place in the world is required, take a look at this list of New Zealand's Top 100 History Makers. Werever you're from I'll bet almost anything that you'll have heard of at least one person on it.

So why is a committed OZ-phile blogging about New Zealand? Well... glad you asked that too!!

I'm dedicating Red's 'Round the World' Extravanganza #2 travel blog hop to Blog4NZ because our neighbours 'across the ditch*' need our help. The natural inclination after events like the recent Canterbury earthquake is for tourists and other visitors to stay away. But that would be a damn shame because New Zealand is OPEN FOR BUSINESS! I'm reliably told that 99% of tourist attractions – even some in the Canterbury region – are ready and waiting for visitors.

So … here's 5 good reasons to include New Zealand on your next holiday itinerary:
  1. Of course if you've read my blog, you already want to visit OZ, don't you? DON'T YOU?? So why waste that long-haul flight just to visit one country? Hop across the ditch while you're here and get two countries for virtually the price of one!
  2. Give yourself – and your children – the kind of memories that, like mine, won't fade.
  3. There's no better time than now! Hit the NZ tourism website and check out NZ travel contributions from other Blog4NZ participants. I'll bet you find something you like!
  4. New Zealand is a microcosm of the rest of the world with it's natural wonders, unique wildlife and fascinating history. So if you can't quite afford that 'round the world' trip, go to New Zealand instead!
  5. Prove me wrong about the superiority of OZ as a travel destination. Go on – you know you want to ...
And who knows? Maybe one day, egotistical as it sounds, I'll make it onto NZ's Top 100 History Makers – as a famous blogger**!! But whether that day comes (!) or not, I plan that one day soon I'll take a break from OZ travel and enjoy New Zealand's delights once again.

*An OZ/NZ 'in' joke meaning 'across the Tasman' (the sea separating OZ from NZ) that emphasizes how close we are both geographically and socially!
** As if! Yes, I'm joking!!


OZ Top Spot #7 - Bowra Sanctuary, South Western Queensland

With 200+ bird species over several diverse habitats in its 14000 hectares, Bowra Sanctuary puts out for all all elements of a truly excellent outback experience – spectacular scenery; wonderful wildlife – in this case birds; and eccentric characters – in this case human!

But while these elements make it a perfect outback hideaway, Bowra is only 16km from South-western Queensland's Cunnamulla and (relative) civilisation – so could be classified as Outback-LITE, but if you don't leave the property during your stay, I SWEAR you won't notice!!

If your luck holds, you'll get all the above elements, but sadly, the outback characters we encountered weren't local! Not once during our 6-night stay in June 2010 did the bizarre-and-eccentric-magnet campground fail us – between people-watching, livestock dodging, hard-core twitching*, relentless photography and traveller SHAME file moments rivalling ANYTHING I've posted so far, the Bowra 'experience' rates as one of our most memorable of all time.

And I mean that in a good way! Not only did it provide a rich comic seam, already mined in a previous post, but there's virtually no need for embellishment! Now about how many other blog-land adventures can you say that??!!

As Bowra's unique natural attractions virtually guarantee high numbers of bird species sightings in a relatively small space, you can't swing a fat-tailed dunnart without hitting a twitcher* in full regalia, often including many $$ worth of binoculars ('bins'), telescopes ('scopes') and camera gear (is there a euphemism for that?!).

After all, Bowra is special - it's one of several locations where the legendary Sean Dooley (current record holder of most OZ bird species seen in a calendar year) didn't spot Grey Falcon!! During our 6 night stay, Pilchard sighted over 100 species – most notably Halls Babbler (a lifer**), Red-backed Kingfisher, Brolga, Plum-headed Finch, Black-breasted Buzzard, Major Mitchell Cockatoo, Crested bellbird, Bourke's Parrot, and Ground Cuckoo-shrike. And Grey Falcon?? Well, no-go! A fellow camper spotted Australasian Bittern at one of the waterholes, and had the pix to prove it, but sadly, this was another no-go for us.

I'm sure I wouldn't have had such a great time had I been a hardcore twitcher or photographer. A keen birdwatcher trying to take the perfect photo is a study in rabid obsessive-compulsive observation – and is also completely oblivious to surroundings, social niceties and/or the passage of time. SO … after a hard day on the birding trail, companion/s of such a person invariably arrive back at camp in a bit of a state, and ready for an actual conversation with ANYONE else. And hey! If you haven't got anything nice to say about anyone – come sit next to me!!

Chances are, your fellow campers are not common or garden variety Grey Nomads. Jolting along on the station tracks in pursuit of an elusive sighting isn't everyone's idea of a fun time – and the scenery (albeit spectacular) isn't always enough of a trade off. It's likely, therefore, that people attracted to Bowra have at least a tenuous connection to twitching and/or photography.

So conversations with other campers often take a 'league table' format where tales of sightings and locations are swapped in order to trump the other person (eg rare Aust. Bittern trumps more common Crested Bellbird). Hell, that was MY motivation anyway – although I can't speak for anyone else ...

But Bowra also attracts a different sort.

Take Julia and Kevin*** for example. This Dingo-Trap grey nomad couple bailed us up for a scarily strange conversation that went something like this:

Julia This isn't bad for a free camp
Red It's not free – this is private property and the camp fees are $25 for a powered site.
Julia No, it's free! It's in the book****! Isn't it, Kevin?
Kevin (nods maniacally – confirming Julia' wrong information is clearly a way of life)
Julia They told us how to get here when we asked for directions to the free camp.
Pilchard (sensing Red's steam rising) Who told you it was free?
Julia The people in town (she meant Cunnamulla, but couldn't articulate this). They sent us here, but we got lost and some workmen gave us directions.
Pilchard So which free camp were you heading for?
Julia I don't know what it was called! Can you remember, Kevin?
Kevin (shakes head vigorously)
Pilchard Which direction are you heading?
Julia (exchanges concerned look with Kevin - this is clearly a trick question) What do you mean?
Pilchard (trying to establish the direction from which they came so as to work out where they're going) Well, where did you stay last night?
Julia I don't know what it was called! Can you remember, Kevin?
Kevin (shakes head slowly)
Pilchard (ever helpful, names the most likely town in each direction) Was it St George, Charleville, Bourke or Eulo?
Julia I don't know what it was called! Can you remember, Kevin?
Kevin (shakes head emphatically)
Julia I don't think the GPS was working properly. When we turned off it told us we were going the wrong way. Didn't it, Kevin?
Kevin (nods head vigorously)
Red (trying to suppress a) irritation and b) gloating) Maybe you WERE going the wrong way! This isn't a free camp site! (hidden subtext – the GPS KNOWS BEST!!!)
Julia Well, we told them we were looking for the free camp where you could go birdwatching and they sent us here!
Pilchard Oh, I think you were going to Paddabilla Bore near Eulo! That's another 50km west of here! (successfully suppresses amazement that you wouldn't know at least roughly where you were)
Kevin (finally speaks, although to no great effect) I told you we hadn't come far enough!
Julia (looks at Kevin in consternation) Well, we were expecting a free camp site. We intended to free camp tonight, didn't we Kevin?
Kevin (nods vigorously)
Julia Who collects the camp fees?
Red There's an honesty box in the shearers quarters.
Julia What time do they empty it?
Red The owner comes out from Cunnamulla in the morning.
Julia (looks at Kevin meaningfully) Well, we're self sufficient!
Kevin (nods wisely – or at least in a reasonable parody thereof)
Red (opens mouth in disbelief, about to spew forth a diatribe against freeloaders)
Pilchard (whispers to Red) Calm down, it's not our problem!

I'm not sure why, on the strength of this 'conversation', Kevin felt he knew us well enough to recommend another amazing free camp - we'd apparently LOVE it! And even now, only three things stand between us and a tryout of this legendary (perhaps mythical!) spot:
  1. we don't know where it is (they couldn't even tell us which STATE it was in!); 
  2. we don't know what the attractions are (they couldn't recall this either - even though it was 'good'); and 
  3. we don't know if it's really free.
You see, Julia and Kevin left early the next morning WAY before we arose, and when I later visited the honesty box to pay our site fee, mine was the only envelope there!

As inept as bird identification as they were at reading maps, Julia later told Pilchard she'd discovered a new bird. She clearly didn't believe Pilchard's identification despite him showing it to her in the bird book . BUT … let her go, I say!! How much fun would it be to watch her report her 'find' to the birdwatching community?

Yep, a few 'roos loose in the top paddock***** there, I suspect!!

But grey nomads aren't the only 'eccentrics'. Late one evening, a convoy of academics and artists (my assessment!) in camper trailers arrived asking us to explain directions to the waterhole where they planned to camp. Pilchard's simple explanation of the directions on the map left for them ('keep going straight down the road you're now on until you hit the waterhole') fell upon deaf ears once they spotted the shearer's quarters. Electricity! Heaters!! Lights!!! I didn't think it possible for the 4 who eschewed their trailers to fill the 10 or so rooms in the shearer's quarters with their mess – AND blow the fuses (turning on all the lights when using a generator system will do that)! But maybe I was wrong about the artist/academic thing – such folk surely don't believe in the Cleaning Fairy, do they? DO THEY???!!! This lot gets the dubious honour of creating the most disgraceful mess I've EVER seen in an amenities block in the shortest time – they deserve every accolade this award brings!! Wonder what would've happened had they ended up down by the waterhole ...

Bowra Sanctuary was once – and during our stay, still was – a working station, owned by the same family for 5 generations before purchase by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. Now, a Birds Queensland on-site caretaker manages the campground – AND collects the fees!

We look forward to returning for ALL reasons – there's no way I'd pass up the opportunity to meet more quirky folks like these; and we'd love to re-visit our favourite spots! And maybe - just MAYBE - we'll spot Grey Falcon ...

* twitcher = birdwatcher!
** lifer = a species of bird seen for the first time (ie in your life)
***Not their real names. And any likeness to names of current and penultimate Australian Prime Ministers is entirely coincidental.
**** Free Camps Book #5 – the Grey Nomads bible
***** This great OZ euphemism provides a disturbing mental image! 'Roos' (ie kangaroos) in the 'top paddock' (ie brain') are 'loose' (ie jumping around) – therefore the person must be mad!! It works, huh?!?!


Signs #12 - Bull***t!*

The perils littering the Australian coastal fringe are legendary - braving the threat of crocodiles, sharks, marine stingers, stonefish, blue-ringed octopi, sea snakes or stingrays in our waterways isn't for the fainthearted!

Even the rainforest or coastal scrub can be risky – stinging trees, death adders, king browns and other more deadly snakes, spiders, various stinging ants, mosquitoes, scorpions or leeches.

So what's a traveller to do**?

Head outback, of course! Fewer hazards there, right? RIGHT???

Well … maybe.

Happily, we had no need to test the protective qualities of our Mazda Capella after spotting this sign en route to Cooktown (on Cape York) in the mid 1990's when this photo was taken. Maybe size really DOES matter?!?!

The ensuing years have softened the graphic impact somewhat. In 2010, the bulls on the signs sported top-hats courtesy of outback graffiti artists!! Sadly, no photographic evidence exists - deep gutters and no verges mean pulling over for a photo in tourist season traffic is riskier than facing what's on the sign!

But at least you can see it coming …
* (from title) Bull DUST, of course!  What did you think I meant??
**  Don't be alarmed.  Millions of OZ dwellers AND tourists have survived all these hazards - and more!


Aussie ABC - B is for Bushranger!

Kenniff Monument, Mitchell QLD
What do Aussies call a person who a) makes a living from criminal activity; b) is on the run from the law; c) is likely armed and dangerous; d) lives outside mainstream society; and e) has probably killed – most likely police officers?

WRONG! Not a murdering psychopath!!  Guess again!

NO! Not a terrorist! And to save you the time, nor is it highwayman, brigand, bandit, pirate, robber, outlaw, smuggler, Merrie Man, politician or rebel without a cause!

Yeah, the title's a dead give-away - Bushrangers! And as sure as 19th century graffiti eventually becomes 'important cultural and historic landmarks', so do our colonial delinquents become folk heroes!
'Waltzing Matilda' - the scene by the billabong

We've got no hope - even the swagman of (arguably) our best known song, 'Waltzing Matilda' was a sheep thief! Hands up non-Aussie readers who think that's the Australian National Anthem?? HHHMMMmmm... thought so! If you want the REAL story, visit the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton, QLD – which is, incidentally, the only museum in the world devoted to a song!

So why are they heroes? Like their motherland counterpart Robin Hood, many bushrangers put the equitable redistribution of wealth principle into action, especially if that wealth was from stations run by English conglomerates that threatened smaller landholders.  In which case  public opinion generally came down on the bushranger's side!

Say 'Bushranger' to almost anyone – and 'Ned Kelly' is a likely response. Ned and his imaginatively nicknamed 'Kelly gang', terrorised Victoria's Wombat ranges, stealing livestock, shooting policemen and robbing various facilities before a shoot-out in which Ned was shot, then captured and hanged. But not only is his life is celebrated in song, the world's first feature film, art and the Man Booker prize winning book, his reported last words - 'Such is life' – are part of the Aussie lingo. And in the ultimate accolade (or embarrassment – YOU decide!!), he's now 'Big Ned', another Australian 'Big Thing'!

Bushrangers Cave, Cania Gorge QLD

Head 'Outback', and bushranger caves, hideouts and lookout points are as thick as thieves! You can pretty much depend upon it that the longest hike, the highest climb, the remotest area is where bushranger hideouts will be. The pre-requisites – hidden, extensive view, escape route – mean they're quite coincidentally in areas of wild, natural beauty, with expansive and panoramic vistas. And therefore well worth a visit!

The subject of a previous post, Starlight's lookout, named for the hero in Rolf Boldrewood's 'Robbery Under Arms', in turn named for real-life bushranger Harry Redford, is one such haunt. 

Rock Formations, Mt Moffatt
But the lesser known Kenniff brothers hid out in what is now the Mt Moffatt National Park, a remote and largely inaccessible area of spectacular beauty. After shooting a policman and station manager, they cremated the bodies and placed the remains in the police packhorse saddlebags. The ensuing manhunt ended with arrest and subsequent trial at nearby Mitchell's courthouse – where the transcript can be read. While one brother was convicted of murder and hanged the other was released from prison a few years later and died a natural death.

Marlong Arch, Mt Moffatt National Park

How likely are you to encounter a bushranger in Australia today? Well … sky high livestock prices courtesy of recent floods, hot of the heels of years of crippling drought have put temptation in the path of opportunists once again. Reports of livestock theft are on the increase, with a recent reminder on an ABC TV* program that despite our national heritage, theft is theft! It's unknown however, whether they, like the bushrangers of yesteryear, steal only from those more wealthy than themselves!

Mt Moffatt National Park
Unless a present-day bushranger wants notoriety (in which case s/he is likely to have a Facebook page) you probably won't know if you've encountered one! How much further would the old-time bushrangers have got with the benefits of technology?!

How will history treat the modern day bushranger, now that the precedent's already been set? They're just following an almost sacred Aussie tradition … and our natural inclination to romanticize the past may well mean a future 'Big Thing' to rival Ned Kelly!

*Australian Broadcasting Corporation – government owned TV station


Traveller SHAME Files #5 - The Kitchen Sink!

Lake Tinaroo , Atherton Tablelands, QLD
 Living Quarters? Hotel on Wheels?? Holiday Accommodation??? Nah, none of those quite fit. But if you've read Lonely Planet's excellent guide*, you'd know our camper trailer would make a perfect mobile MICRONATION!

Elvis Campsite, Wycliffe Well, NT
 Our only constant when travelling, we're cocooned inside at night when the world shrinks to the size of our living space. But, Brigadoon-like, we awake to new places, panoramas and vistas just waiting to be explored in the light of day! Beaches, rivers, the outback, deserts, rainforests, highlands, national parks, wet tropics, tablelands, lakes, cities, towns, mountains, plains – thankfully, SO many OZ picturesque and scenic locations still have public camping or caravan parks** nearby!

As my photos (both old and new) will show ...

South West Rocks, NSW
 It's true, that with a 3 x 1.5 m (9' x 5') living area and two extending bed ends for sleeping and storage the camper trailer'd be smaller than most other micronations – including 'Lovely' (a small flat in London) and even the Copeman Empire (a caravan in Sheringham, England). But – and I know this'll come as a complete surprise to you – SIZE DOESN'T MATTER!! See? I'm shouting! It's SO not a secret ...

Carnarvon Gorge, QLD
 But when travelling with the southern grey nomads around this great land of OZ, you'd be forgiven for thinking that size really DOES matter! Roads heading north become clogged with a slow moving wagon train of 2-3 tonne giant caravans that when attached to a state of the art giant SUV become a rig bigger than some semi-trailers.

Lawn Hill Gorge NP, QLD
 By comparison, our minimalist camper trailer appears more and more spartan with every year that passes since its 1998 purchase! But it still meets our requirements – portable and manoeuvrable, quick to set up, comfortable bed, table and lounge, cooking facilities, water, gas, outdoor area.

And it all fits in to this small space. We can take it almost anywhere. We don't need help to reverse onto our site. Our carbon footprint is small. AND … perhaps most importantly - on balance, we're not a danger on the roads***!!

Brunswick Heads, NNSW
 So what's the attraction of a big caravan? As far as I can tell they attempt to fully replicate the comforts of home. Because that's why people travel, isn't it? To have things exactly the same as at home??

I just don't get it. Especially when the giant van is a gas-guzzling-overweight-high-energy-and-carbon-emission-difficult-to-manouvre-dangerous-to-drive-potential-lethal-weapon! Which it's probably not such a good idea to start driving around at a time in your life when your reflexes are deteriorating. Just sayin'!

Burra, SA
 So here's why I DON'T want these 10 'bonus' extras I'd get by upgrading to a BIG van:

1. Bathroom and Toilet
Remind me again why spending my holidays cleaning the toilet is such a great idea when there's a perfectly good amenities block that SOMEONE ELSE CLEANS?? (note – there's probably nothing much you can say here to convince me!)(but try if you want to!)

2. Big water tanks
Carting 100+ kg of extra weight around when you're in some of the highest rainfall areas in the country is a good idea because …???

3. Full sized fridge and pantry
Wouldn't the extra 50+ kilos weight of supplies that I'm towing offset the savings I've made by stocking up at a big supermarket?? And no one EVER has enough fridge space! Despite having a full sized fridge in their van, many GN's also have a portable fridge in their SUV – well, I guess you can never have enough cold beer ...

4. Microwave and Barbecue
But I'm on holidays! I cook simple meals, and eat out for a treat! OZ is littered with free public barbecues in the most amazing picnic areas! And … there's always a bakery if it all gets too hard ...

5. Bigger bed
Why, when we're managing to do everything that needs doing on our current bed??!!

Noccundra Waterhold, Outback QLD
 6. Wardrobes
Have a look around in ANY tourist spot and play 'spot the tourist'. What gives it away? Clothing!! Why not carry a week's worth of ordinary, easy-care clothes and a couple of items for dress ups? Who needs a wardrobe for that??

7. Bigger lounge & TV
OK, when I'm visiting some of the most beautiful scenery in the world I'm either outside exploring or off on a day trip exploring. Why would I sit inside watching TV?

8. Airconditioning
I'm heading north because it's cold down south. SO … I use aircon to make it colder than home in winter? Our windows open in any direction to catch the breeze (and we've actually got more window space than the average van) or we use a fan. A heater warms up our small space in about 5 minutes.

9. Luxury textures and fittings
Let me get this right. I'm travelling where there's dust, sand, moisture, salt and/or heat. And I'm going to have a leather lounge? And granite benches?? And wooden cupboards/surfaces??? Yep, perfect for the conditions! AND see #1 re cleaning …

Quorn, SA
 10. Livin' the Dream
Our rig is devoid of signage (although that might all change if I achieved micronation status) unlike many caravans, whose owners are apparently “Livin' the Dream”. And if watching TV with a whining pet inside a caravan with aircon on HIGH is livin' the dream, who am I to argue?

In my opinion, these extra 'bonuses' can be a substitute for a) planning ahead; b) adapting to local conditions and c) getting the full benefit of the area you're in.

And, the $60,000 odd (a fairly modest estimate) we'd save by NOT upgrading would buy a hell of a lot of site fees – actually 2,000 nights @ $30 per night, to be precise! Or halve that and factor in a commensurate number of bakery visits … but I digress!

Campsite, Bowra Sanctuary, QLD
 And my credentials? We've experienced what most caravan owners haven't - having once lived in our camper trailer for a continuous period of 18 months!

Of course I've got a long way to go if I decide to secede, and I don't think I'd be competing with the Principality of Hutt River for it's status as Australia's best known micronation – but hey! A girl can dream ...

* Weirdly, there's a whole section about mad Aussies … go figure!!
** Trailer Parks
*** Ok, lots of big rig drivers aren't either. So how do you tell those who are? Check the van/trailer for scratches, dingles, dents and small pieces of tree – a dead giveaway the driver has no idea of the size of the rig! The acid test is watching them actually reversing or driving around a tight corner ...


Red Nomad OZ Round-Up #1

Welcome to my first round up – a bit of 'housekeeping' actually – just to tell you what's happening in blogland!  Well, my bit of it anyway ... But don't panic - we'll be back to 'normal' travelogues before you can say 'Red Nomad'!

1. 'Red's Round-the-World Extravaganza' #1
It's over – but not before the blog hop visited Australia, Greece, Philippines, Switzerland, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Vietnam, Italy, Sicily, Dubai, Indonesia, Mexico and Japan!  As well as some great free travel resources and a new blog network to join! Who'd have thought??!!

If you missed it, (where have you BEEEN??!!) click on the button below to go back and check it out– the stories are as terrific as the destinations!

2. Coming SOON ... Extravaganza #2!So when's the next one? SOON (OK, before I have to start paying for the free Linky tools)!! Joining in is as easy as entering the link to any of your travel-related posts to the linky tool on my blog, and/or visiting any or all of the other entries!

Note your diaries with Tuesday, 22 March for Extravaganza #2! The linky will be open for 48 hours (but of course entries can be read any time). So … spread the word, and get ready to hook up (OZ time) for Extravaganza #2!!

3. 'Round the World' Button UpgradeNow recovered from an appalling bout of technophobia, my 'Round the World' button is now programmed with a 'Round the World' specific URL. Yes, yes, you tech-savvy folks can laugh all you want … but if you've got the OLD button, you might want to replace it with the new one …

It's just a jump to the left ...

4. 'Weird Stuff' is featured!My favourite 'Weird Stuff' travel photo has been featured with a new spin on the Travel Tart's website! Go have a look and see who's style you prefer!! Just don't tell me if TT is more your cup of tea …
5. Stylish Blogger AwardTo my surprise, TWO STOP PRESS - THREE bloggers have awarded me the 'Stylish Blogger' award!! Thanx so much to Monica and Oak Lawn Lady and Ann O'Dyne – but I'll just accept it the once!! Strange really, given my blog is just a simple variation of a Blogger template – so maybe Blogger deserves the award … Nah, I'll take it anyway!!

Of course, as Spiderman's grandpa so aptly put it - 'With great power, comes great responsibility'! Award recipients are to tell the world 7 things about themselves, and pass on the award to 15 others (now you can see why I'm only accepting it once)!

So … 7 things about me! Well, where's the fun for you in me making a list of my virtues? Instead, go exploring and back track to these 7 early posts, each of which will tell you a bit more about me!!
i) Red Nomad OZ is GO!
ii) Favourite Place #1 – Wycliffe Well
iii) Farewell, My Friend
iv) Teenage Dental Tragic
v) Incident at Isisford
vi) Hinchinbrook Lite
vii) Traveller SHAME Files #1 – the Dingo Trap

6. And the award goes to ...In accepting this award, I must also pass it on – but to whom?? There's no shortage of bloggers from whom to choose, but how to narrow it down?? The 10 blogging lessons I learned during my first year of blogging were each based on a different blog. SO … as a further 'thanx' from me to each of these bloggers, I bestow this award on them!!

Wanna see who they are?  You'll have to take the link ...

That's it for now!
Thanx for the catch up - back to OZ travel again soon!!


Weird Stuff #4 - Blackall, Queensland

Declining interest and waning attendance rates are the curse of Country shows around the nation.  But I'll bet gun shearer Jack Harvey's winning performance in the 1934 Blackall Show 'Quick Chop' Championship drew the crowds!!

After all, who would pass up the opportunity to see someone shear, kill and partially eat a sheep in under 8 minutes?? The above extract from the 'Barcoo Independent', reproduced here in the Blackall Ram Park rail museum makes this claim, anyway! 

But the previous story on the plaque, 45 years earlier, indicates the Barcoo Independent to have been a paper under siege. So is the Jack Harvey piece just a sensationalist attempt to lure readers away from the dastardly 'Western Champion'? Could his record REALLY be replicated today??

As a regular country show-goer* I have to wonder if reintroducing this event could reverse the decline in country show popularity. General shearing, wood-chopping and sheaf tossing are all very well, but when followed by a piéce-de-résistance like the accurately named 'Quick Chop Championship' – well, can't you just SEE the potential to turn around the fortunes of an ailing show?!

Why not take it a step further?  Could this be a better Aussie national competition than, say, which state can spend the most on a tourism campaign without a clear result?  Or which political party can form government (at any level) with the lowest primary vote??  Or even the new 'My School' education website???

Maybe not, but it's at least as valid!  And not only FAR more entertaining - possibly even less barbaric too!!

But the article leaves some unanswered questions. For example, what part, and how much of the sheep was eaten? And how was it prepared?? Does the 8 minutes include cooking time??? And if other competitors got to the 'kill' stage in the 8 minutes, what happened to all the dead sheep????

But I digress.

Congratulations Jack!  Despite competing in the home town of the greatest Australian shearer of all time - Jackie Howe - you've still managed to make your own record!!

*Modesty forbids me from mentioning the plethora of prizes (many of them firsts!!) Pilchard and I have won for jams, pickles, preserves and produce in various country shows!


Textures of OZ

I must have been travelling somewhere remote when the creativity gene was given out. Either that, or reading a good book! So when Toni (of 'Chickchat' fame) announced this Thursday's theme was 'Textures', I was taken aback. How's an Aussie Travel blogger to blog about textures for goodness sake?? Especially with other bloggers who actually DO have the creativity gene?!

SO … I very nearly gave it a miss!

But then, like any good brainworm, the word kept niggling through my consciousness. Then I thought of a photo I hadn't used in a recent post. HHHMMMmmm... texture, I thought. And where there's one, there might be others! As a non-creative travel blogger, I select photos based on subject matter rather than artistic qualities.

So I went back and looked at some of my photos from a 'creative' perspective to see if I could find any more with texture! And you know what? It's EVERYWHERE!! Either that, or I've missed the point completely!!

As you'll see, my main problem was knowing when to stop!! But I narrowed it down to these - some of my favourite textures of Australia! I hope you enjoy them ...

After the harvest, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

Under the wharf, Darling River, Bourke, NSW

Outback Sky, Thargomindah, QLD

Razorback, Brachina Gorge, Flinders Ranges, South Australia

Harbour, Cairns, QLD

Thorny Devil, Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory

 Mangrove Boardwalk, Cairns, QLD

Gorge, Kings Canyon, Northern Territory

Ducks at Waterhole, Bowra Sanctuary via Cunnamulla, QLD

Signature Tree, Isabella Falls, Cape York Track via Cooktown, QLD

Rainforest, Daintree Discovery Centre, QLD

Rocks at Sunset, Devil's Marbles, QLD

Rock Columns, Mt Moffatt National Park via Mitchell, QLD

Perry's Sandhill, via Mildura, Victoria

Waterlilies, Tyto Wetlands, Ingham, QLD

Saltpan, Welford National Park, QLD

South Ballina Breakwall, Ballina, NSW

Sand, Pondalowie Bay, Innes National Park, SA

Salvation Jane, Dutchmans Stern via Quorn, South Australia

Rocks, Porcupine Gorge via Hughenden, QLD

Outback landscape from Baldy Top lookout via Quilpie, QLD

Regular readers will note that this post is a departure from my usual style – but if you don't like it, you know where to go!! Yep, that's right! Head on over to Toni's blog and make your complaint there! Actually, head on over anyway and join in or at least have a look at what some REALLY creative people have done with this theme!!

But before you go, check out the entries in Red's Round the World Extravaganza!!  There's still a few more hours until it closes - midnight, Thursday 3rd March (Australian Central Time) - so please join in!!

And if you're thinking this button proves I actually AM creative, think again!  Ironically, Toni's daughter aka 'The Princess' actually drew it for me!! 

Till next time ...
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