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

Monday

All About ME! Oh ... and Giveaway #2!!

When I started blogging nearly two years ago, I never dreamed it would bring me fortune and fame.

Just as well, because it hasn't!

BUT … there have been some unexpected benefits – other than (virtually) meeting many wonderful bloggers and readers, that is.

Several months ago, I got one of those emails. You know the type of thing – 'you've won a prize, all you need to do is join our club …' - the sort of email I'd immediately trash. Usually.  But luckily I didn't in this case – because the email from Explore Australia was for real!!

I'd been nominated for their 2011 Road Tripper Hall of Fame competition and there I was on their Facebook Page as Miss May! Nice!!

Of course I never dreamed I'd win.

Just as well, because I didn't!!

BUT … I was a runner-up AND I won this FAAAABULOUS book produced by the Explore Australia people – Great Gourmet Weekends in Australia.


Of course my thoughts were with you – my wonderful readers – so I told Explore Australia I'd be using my prize as a giveaway on my blog. AND … as I'd secretly hoped, they immediately offered to donate an identical book for me to give away so I could keep my prize for myself! Sweet!!

BUT … that's not all! Part #1 of my interview on their wonderful blog appears today!! WOO HOO!!!

Feel free to go and read it now! I'll wait …





… great, you're back!!

Here's all you need to do to win this marvellous giveaway!
  1. Leave a comment below (about anything!) by 12:00 pm, Monday 6th Feb 2012 (OZ Eastern Daylight Saving Time); AND
  2. Indicate that you're entering the giveaway (open to any commenter with an Australian postal address); AND
  3. Make sure I can contact you by email you if you win! (If I can't find an email address, or I don't receive your Australian postal address within 3 days of contacting you, a new winner will be selected)
PLEASE NOTE: This wonderful giveaway is only available to entrants with an Australian postal address.

But don't let that stop you from visiting the Explore Australia Bookshop – there's a terrific array of books.  SO ... even if your entry is unsuccessful, you needn't miss out!!

And don't forget! Part 2 of my interview will be on the Explore Australia Blog tomorrow!!

Good luck!!!

PS For those who aren't able to enter, I leave you with this gratuitous Outback cliché shot of – you guessed it – a windmill! Why? Because it's been ages … Enjoy!!

Visitor Information Centre Windmill, Kaniva, Western Victoria
PPS Now ... how can I nominate myself for the 2012 Road Tripper Hall of Fame competition??!!

Update 08 Feb 2012 - After all sorts of machinations involving lists of all Aussie commenters, spreadsheets, numbers, and the random.org random sequence generator , I'm pleased to announce the winner of the giveaway!!

Congratulations Andrew - hope you enjoy your book!!

Thanks to all commenters - if you missed out this time, you can still be a winner by buying yourself a little consolation prize at the Explore Australia Bookshop !!

AND ... if you missed my interviews on the Explore Australia blog, now's as good a time as any to catch up!  Enjoy!!

Thursday

My FavouRED OZ Things #3*!!

It's amazing how easy – and fun – it is to compose doggerel a new stanza for my favourite RED Aussie things!

AND what better way to celebrate this fabulous Australia Day with some new RED OZ stuff!!
I'm a loud and proud Aussie – so of course I'm going to show off all the OZ good bits to inspire you to travel downunder to, and/or explore Australia!! My recent post 'H is for Holiday' showcased some amazing Aussie holiday spots Pilchard and I have visited over the last ~21 years. But I'm sure there are amazing spots in YOUR country too. So my REAL message is – don't put off finding the world's wondrous and fantastic places – wherever they are! Get out and explore – then show the rest of the world what you've found! Wherever you are, cheap holidays are within everyone's grasp – work out what you want to do and make it happen!!
But in the meantime, whether you're an armchair traveller, or just looking for some downunder entertainment and escapism, sit back and enjoy the Australia Day edition of My FavouRED OZ Things! For the full as-Red-Nomad-OZ-intended experience, sing the words to the tune of 'My Favourite Things'* I can't guarantee it'll sound better (it doesn't when I sing!!), but YOU'LL feel great! And that's what counts!!
Happy Australia Day!!

Autumn trees, Uralla, New South Wales


RED leaves in Autumn;

Sturts Desert Pea, South Australia
Eucalypt Flowers

RED Aussie wildflowers.









Island Lagoon, South Australian Outback
RED Outback landscapes that go on for hours;

Old Building, Bedourie, Queensland Outback






RED rusting old buildings;










Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Holloways Beach, Cairns**





RED-tailed black cockatoo;




Campfire, Swanvale Jump-Up, Outback Queensland**


RED HOT gidgee coals for our camp-oven stew!


Aussie Coat of Arms - Kangaroo ...
... and Emu tracks!!


Footprints in RED sand; and








Red Rocks, Grampians, Victoria












Giant RED rock stacks.










The Plane in the Paddock - Longreach QLD**











RED OZ kangaroos; and












Race Track at 2011 Camel Races, Bedourie, Outback Queensland








Long RED camel race-tracks!

(insert picture of yourself here!)
RED Nomad OZ readers; and

Sunset at Woomera, Outback South Australia**


RED skies at night

These FavouRED OZ Things fill my heart with delight!






When in DANGER;



















When the tree stings;








Back Road, Cobar, New South Wales


When the roads are bad …

I'm so lucky to have all my FavouRED OZ Things,

And all those good times I've had!

Want more information?

* Apologies, as always, to Rodgers & Hammerstein for shamelessly exploiting paying homage to their 'My Favourite Things' from 'The Sound of Music'

** Photos by Pilchard

Tuesday

Australia's Scenic Public Toilets #21 - Lake Bellfield, Grampian NP, Victoria

Lake Bellfield - AND Scenic Public Toilet - from Dam Wall, Grampians, Victoria

At first glance you'd think the only thing lacking in this staggering panorama is a scenic public toilet, right?

Wrong! Look again – they've thought of everything on the shores of Lake Bellfield, deep in the heart of Victoria's Grampians National Park.

Lake Bellfield from the Amenities!
Still can't see it? The red circle in the lower right hand corner highlights this convenient combination of public amenities, information shelter, lookout and picnic area.

Oh – and a car parking area for those who want to work off their lunch (or in our case, the large selection of goodies from the nearby Hall's Gap Bakery) with an interesting ~1km return walk across the dam wall.

Take the stroll if you want photos like these!!

On the bottom of Lake Bellfied, mid-2000's
For the even more energetic, arrange a pick up and walk from Halls Gap (only 5 km away), or across the range from Pomonal along the historic Tunnel Track – an amazing engineering feat!
During the recent debilitating 10 year drought, the lake – completed in 1966 by damming Fyans Creek – virtually dried up, as this ~2003/4 photo shows.

Just over a year ago, the drought broke with killer flooding rains and is now nearly at its ~78500 ML capacity. From these photos, it's hard to believe the lake is 36 metres deep!

Below the dam wall, Lake Bellfield, Grampians, Victoria
Reflected in the lake, the rugged and untamed wilderness of the Serra Range is a monument to the effects of many significant weathering events like these over countless past aeons.
And below the dam wall, the lush vegetation stretches along the valley all the way to Halls Gap.

But it's not all about the landscape and scenery here at Lake Bellfield!

Echidna at Lake Bellfield, Grampians, Victoria
You'd be VERY unlucky not to spot a kangaroo in the area, and the echidnas (echidnae??) were out in force during our October 2011 visit – this one right in the car park next to the lake.

OK, I've convinced myself! There's SO much going on here, this Aussie scenic loo is actually a destination in its own right – not just a rest stop!!

Want more information?
Lake Bellfield Amenities Block - AND view!















If 78,500+ Megalitres isn't quite enough water for you, get your fill over at Watery Wednesday!!  Enjoy!

Saturday

Aussie ABC - H is for Holiday

Eungella Plateau, looking towards Mackay, Queensland

'Now you've 'done' Australia, are you going overseas?' If Pilchard and I had a dollar for every time we've been asked that question, it'd pay for a round-the-world ticket! BUT … the answer would still be the same …

Uniting Church, Deniliquin, New South Wales
Don't get me wrong. I've got nothing against the concept of 'overseas' – after all, I was born, and have travelled, lived and worked out of Australia.

And we'll travel overseas again too – just as soon as we're done with exploring OZ!!

BUT … that's not about to happen any time soon. In ~21 years, Pilchard and I have seen more of Australia than many fellow Aussies.

And we look forward to many future holidays exploring the bits we HAVEN'T seen yet!!

So here's an all-new photographic retrospective of our first 21 years of Aussie holidays.

Why not sit back, make a cup of tea and drool over our not-yet-seen before – on this blog, anyway – best picks!


WARNING: these pictures of OZ will make you jealous as hell … so find the cheapest flights, then get yourself downunder to see it all first hand!! Who knows? Maybe we'll see you on the road …

Flinders Ranges, South Australia

Golden Guitar, Tamworth NSW
The top photo, taken in 1998, shows the AMAAAAAAZING view to the coast from a hang-gliding platform on the Eungella Plateau, inland from Mackay, Queensland!

The amazing architecture of the country New South Wales church at Deniliquin against the spectacular blue sky in the 2nd photo just begged for a shot!  Sadly, we missed the Deniliquin 'Ute Muster' ...

And the Flinders Ranges, always a favourite, put on its best face for us in this mid-90's shot.

Our quest for new 'Big Things' means we get to see a lot of weird stuff!  This big Golden Guitar is, of course, in Australia's Country Music capital, Tamworth where a world-reknowned country music festival is held each January.

We haven't seen all the 'Big Things' yet by any means.  My mate Sandra has seen WAAAAY more than me - check out her 'Big Things' photo collection on her Google+ site HERE!

Bedourie Township, Outback Queensland
  
Mt Sonder, via Alice Springs, Central Australia, Northern Territory

Lake Tinaroo, Atherton Tablelands, Queensland
Remote western Queensland outback town, Bedourie had been cut off by floods for some months prior to our visit.  Isolated, and one of the few towns we encountered with no mobile phone network coverage, it hosts the Bedourie Camel races - a fascinating experience and well worth the trip.  Life in the outback isn't all dust and dehydration - the township is in a beautiful setting!

I didn't include any photos of our visits to Central Australia's more well known attractions - Uluru and Kings Canyon - because all you need to do is google ...  Mt Sonder makes one of the Northern Territory's most scenic landscapes in this mid-2000's photo!  One day we'll return to climb it!

Lake Tinaroo, on the Atherton Tablelands behind Cairns has been a favourite spot for many years!  This view from our campsite in one of the Lake's several campgrounds was taken just before Pilchard caught a massive sleepy cod from the jetty below.  He threw it back - after the photographic evidence had been recorded, of course!

Pilchard and I at Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Copperlode Dam, Cairns, Far North Queensland



Amethystine Python, Lake Eacham, Atherton Tablelands, Queensland
South Australia's Kangaroo Island is the 3rd largest Island in Australia.  Trust me - the Remarkable Rocks really ARE!  And the island boasts some of the most beautiful scenery EVER!

Cairns is better known for almost anything other than this magnificent dam high up in the mountains behind.  The drive through some of the most beautiful rainforest offers breathtaking views over the city!

Taken from the car window, this python at Lake Eacham had just crossed the road - and luckily, was headed away from us.  It's several metres long and while I KNEW it wasn't going to attack, I couldn't suppress a shudder ...

Sunset at the Mindil Beach markets, Darwin, Northern Territory

Siding Springs Observatory, Warrumbungle Mountains, Coonabarabran, New South Wales

Silverton, Outback New South Wales
Our 2008 trip to Darwin was memorable in many ways.  The relaxed tropical lifestyle is unparalleled, with almost the entire population gathering to watch the sunset at the famous Mindil Beach markets.  Many bring picnic tables & chairs to dine in what must be the best outdoor setting in the land!

Siding Springs Observatory in its magnificently scenic mountain setting looks up onto some of the clearest skies in the world!  Our visit to the observatory, many years ago, was followed by a trip to the fine Coonabarabran Bakery!!

Remote Silverton, near the more well known mining town of Outback New South Wales' Broken Hill, is an artists retreat.  A visit to the Silverton Hotel is a foray into movie trivia, displaying photographs and memorabilia from the several well known movies shot in and around the area.

The view over the nearby Mundi Mundi Plains is an incredible insight into the Outback's simultaneous desolation and beauty.

Currumbin Creek, Gold Coast, Queensland

Millaa Millaa Falls, Atherton Tablelands, Queensland

Stock Watering point, en route to Lake Peery, via White Cliffs, New South Wales
It's hard to believe that north of beautiful Currumbin Creek (the photo faces south) is the most extensively developed area of Australia - the Gold Coast!  As you can see from this early 2000's photo, the Gold Coast isn't all highrises and tourists!

Say 'waterfall' and what do you picture?  I bet it's something like Millaa Millaa falls - one of the most scenic waterfalls in Australia.  If not the world!!

The outback opal mining town of White Cliffs is full of surprises - including this amazing early morning scene en route to huge inland Lake Peery!

Wildflowers at Mt William, Grampians, Victoria



Lake Wyangan, Griffith, New South Wales


Daydream Island, Whitsundays, Queensland
Of all our holidays in Australia, we've most frequently been to the Grampians, Victoria.  A diverse wonderland, this region is WAY too big to capture with just one photo ... so I chose a macro!

Griffith's Lake Wyangan at dusk was a marvellous moment in this hidden gem of a region! 

A day trip around Shute Harbour, gateway to the Whitsundays gave us our first boom netting experience. 

But when we got to Daydream Island, we could have stayed forever!!

Mt Warning, Northern New South Wales


Pilchard and I on Lord Howe Island, New South Wales
It's hard to believe I've climbed Mt Warning twice when I see it from this angle.  But I'm not telling how long ago the last time was ...  Mt Warning, while not Australia's easternmost spot, is the first point the sun's rays reach in the morning!

Lord Howe Island is the ultimate holiday destination.  Our first aftenoon on the island - and this is where we ended up!!

Below, pyromaniac Pilchard lights up a morning fire at Poddy Creek Free Camp, west of Queensland's Winton.  This scenic spot epitomises the beauty of the western Queensland Outback.

Poddy Creek Free camp, Western Queensland Outback


OK, was I right? Are you jealous as hell?? Get onto those cheapest flights right now! You won't regret it ...

For TRIPLE the fun, I've linked this post to:
Check them out for blog posts on these themes from all around the world!!  Enjoy!!

Monday

RED Alert #3 - Red and REDDER in the Netherlands!


A warm (make that RED HOT!) Aussie summer welcome to my 3rd RED Alert guest Riet – where I'm guessing it's MUCH colder at her home in the Netherlands!

The first time I visited Riet's photoblog, her words next to a great RED photo immediately got my attention. 'Red and Redder' is also what I called my blog header photo – but Riet's version showed magnificent RED autumn trees. Another post showed fantastic RED sunsets – I just HAD to ask her to be my guest!!

RED: Riet, these trees are so RED! What kind of trees are they?

Riet: Don't know, maybe acer or cornus.

RED: They're so beautiful they don't need a name! Although maybe one of my readers will be able to tell us? I don't DARE guess, after incorrectly identifying RED Alert# 2's tulips as poppies

RED: Where were the photos taken?

Riet: Near a little park not far from our home!

RED: You're so lucky to be within walking distance of such a beautiful scene! These autumn trees are the first ones I ever saw on your blog. Is there a lot of red in the Netherlands in autumn?

Riet: Yes, lots of red or reddish trees.

RED: How long before the red colour fades?

Riet: A few weeks.

RED: Even that's more than many parts of Australia – our native trees don't change colour in autumn. What are your favourite colours?

Riet: Red and Aqua!

RED: I can see you love colour from the great photos on your blog. How important is photography to you?

Riet: I am still a beginner in photography but I love it.

RED: I'm sure my readers won't think you're a beginner!! How long have you been blogging? Is it important to you??

Riet: I believe four years and I can't imagine going without it.

RED: It's not quite two years for me, but I feel the same! The Netherlands is so far from Australia – AND Botswana, where RED Alert #1 took us – so it seems a glorious RED sunset can be found all over the world! Where were these shots taken?


Riet: From my open windows, we live on the 12th floor so it looks on eye level.

RED: If I had a view like that, I'd sit there all day waiting for it! Do you often get sunsets like these?

Riet: Yes!

RED: Is that an electricity tower?

Riet: No those are cranes. A new old folks home is being built.

RED: Well, I'd die happy with a view like that! When I think of the Netherlands I think of windmills like this one from your blog. Can you tell us one thing that not many people know about your country?

Riet: Maybe that we don't wear wooden shoes?

RED: Really?!

Riet: And we live with 16 million people in a very small country.

RED: It's hard for me to imagine that – but while Australia is a big country, many parts are not able to be lived in. Which countries would you most like to travel to?

Riet: Canada, Norway, Denmark.

RED: Well … I guess Australia is a LOOOOONG way away!! The Netherlands is very flat, like much of Australia. Are you concerned about climate change?

Riet: Sometimes yes.

RED: We're in the middle of RED Hot summer down here, while you've got winter. Do you see anything red during winter after the autumn colours fade?

Riet: Don't think so.

RED: Yes, many photos of the Northern winter look black and white! Do you drink anything red?

Riet: I love red wine.

RED: And there you have something in common with MANY Australians! Do you have a favourite RED thing?

Riet: Yes we have a beautiful red couch

RED: Thank you for being my guest on RED Alert and I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to post your wonderful photos and interview! Do you have any final RED words for my readers?

Riet: I hope you all had a wonderful Christmastime. I love to decorate with red and that makes me happy. I hope it does the same to you.

My next RED Alert guest will take us to parts of Australia even I haven't seen! Stay tuned!!

AND … if you've got some fabulous RED photos for a future RED Alert post, let me know and YOU could be starring in RED Alert!!

Stay cool!!  OR ... RED HOT!!  This post links to the wonderful world of RED at Ruby Tuesday 2!!  Love RED?? Then GO THERE!!!
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