Thursday, May 31, 2012

RED Alert #6 - Terri ROCKS Red Rocks!

Terri climbs Red Rock Canyon!

When Terri sent me some photos of RED Rock Canyon, I just HAD to know how she managed to climb it … But wait! I'm getting ahead of myself!!

Terri's inspiring healthy living blog, My Journey with Candida, is more than the story of how one woman dealt with a debilitating and chronic condition. It's full of great information, helpful product reviews, recipes and exercise tips.

So how does a grandmother with a hip replacement climb RED Rock Canyon? Can't wait to find out!

So welcome to RED Alert #6 – and my special guest Terri.

Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas

RED: Welcome to RED Alert, Terri. And thanx for those wonderful RED photos! The rocks are almost TOO RED - if there possibly can be such a thing! Is that colour for real?

Terri: The rocks really ARE the colour they look in the photos!

RED: Where are they?

Terri:  RED Rock Canyon is 15 miles west of Las Vegas, Nevada in the USA. My pictures were taken while we visited Las Vegas.

RED: I've never been to RED Rock Canyon – but it looks a little like places I've been in the Australian Outback and desert. What makes them so RED?

Red Rock formation, Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas

Terri: The RED sandstone is part of the Navaho Formation, also found in the Valley of Fire, Zion National Park and throughout many parts of the southwestern United States and southern Nevada.

The contrast of RED sandstone layered through gray limestone is impressive against the tall sheer cliff faces as high as 600 metres (~1800 feet). According to Google, anyway!

RED: It must look amazing at sunset – but it's great against those clear, blue skies! What made you start blogging?
They're not ALL red!!
Terri: The reason I started my blog was because I could not get Doctors to listen to me. So I started writing down everything I was doing to heal. It started out for my own use, now I get daily emails from people asking for my help healing.

RED: That must be SO rewarding! What kind of blogs do you like reading?

Terri: I frequent all kinds of blogs. I think I go more for the person who writes the blog than the blog itself. I have met so many great people through blogging. Like you, I would never have met you if I didn't find your blog. You have such a great personality, plus you write like I wish I could ... that keeps me coming back. And, your pictures are super.

RED: STOP! I'm blushing …

Terri: But really, I visit such a variety of blogs that I couldn't tell you just one kind of blog I like.

Layers of red rock at Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas
RED:  So what's your greatest achievement?

Terri: I climbed a mountain at RED Rock Canyon.... No really, look at the picture (top photo)!

Look … I am even wearing a red sweater!

RED:  I'm SO impressed by that photo of you climbing that rock! Do you wear a lot of RED?


Terri: I wear more RED now than I ever did, not sure why that is.

RED:  It must be my influence! What's your favourite colour?

Terri: Probably PINK, which is kind of RED ... Right?

RED: HHHMMMmmm... OK, I'll give you that!! So do you have lots of RED around your house?

Terri: My bathroom is the only room with red in it.  RED throw rugs...

RED:  Oh well, you've got to start somewhere!! Just like the healthy living journey, I guess. What are your three top tips?

Road to Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas
Terri: My healthy living tips for me – I would never tell anyone how to live – are:

1. Stop eating Sugar – it is poison! LOL... I sure do miss it though!!

2. Neither Candida, Cancer nor parasites can survive in an alkaline body (according to my doctor). So I try to stay on an alkaline diet.

3. Don't let any grass grow under your feet, get up and exercise.



RED:  Great recommendations, Terri! But I'm glad you didn't suggest giving up bakery food!! So let's get back to that amazing photo. What is your rock climbing secret?

Terri: Hahaah ... Rock Climbing! That's really funny. I am the worlds biggest klutz.

RED: But the photo shows you rock climbing at RED Rock Canyon!

Terri's Rock-climbing tips!

Terri: I just flipped the picture. My Hubs and I got a big laugh out of it because at first glance … well, longer than a glance, my daughter and grandkids thought I was really climbing that mountain. My granddaughter asked my daughter “How can Grandma climb like that with her hip replacement?” It took them awhile to realize I would never climb that high!!

RED: Hahaha! Well, you sure fooled me!! That's a great trick – I might steal try it myself!! Thanx for dropping in and sharing that great RED moment with us!

Terri: Have a great weekend Red. I am sure you are going somewhere exciting.

RED:  It's been a pleasure!  Girlfriend, you ROCK!  Or should I say RED ROCK!!
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Friday, May 25, 2012

World Mountaineering Exclusive! Mt Wycheproof, Victoria

View from Mt Wycheproof Summit, Victoria

It's getting increasingly difficult to do something that no one else – or at least very few – have done. Even the 'I've-climbed-Mt-Everest' club is not the insider clique it once was …

But conquering Mt Wycheproof, deep in the heart of Victorian Mallee country should cement my mountain climbing credentials once and for all. Because I've now done what WAAAY fewer Mt Everest mountaineers have done!

Monument, Mt Wycheproof summit, Wycheproof, Victoria
I've climbed the world's smallest mountain!

According to locals AND Wikipedia, Mount Wycheproof is the smallest registered mountain in the world!! Whether it qualifies as world's smallest mountain depends, of course, on how a mountain is defined. But as there's no universally accepted definition that deems it ineligible, I'm calling it!!

Just as well size doesn't matter ...

At only 148 metres (486 ft) above sea level, the peak is actually only 43 metres (~140 ft) above the flat and endless plain on which it sits. Over which it has great views – in an Aussie-Outback kind of way …

The summit overlooks a stretch of the Calder Highway known as 'Broadway'. Rumour suggests# it was so named by an American-born chemist because it reminded him of New York's Broadway!


Overlooking Broadway, Wycheproof, Victoria


The resemblance is obvious, isn't it?!?!


Correa Glabra (Wycheproof form)
But the cachet of being one of the few to climb the world's smallest mountain isn't the only thrill to be had from conquering this minuscule metamorphic boss!

Add another couple of notches to your 'world exclusives' belt with the phosphate-based mineral Wycheproofite and Aussie wildflower Correa glabra (Wycheproof form), both exclusive to the area.



Tragically, the annual 'King of the Mountain' race up the 1:6 gradient from the plain to the summit holding a 70 kg (154 lb) bag of wheat ended in 1988, so I won't need to make excuses be able to challenge for the title.
Queen of the Mountain, Wycheproof, Victoria
But ... nothing was going to stop me from ascending this magnificent mountain peak!

To help you conquer the world's smallest mountain while it's still a world exclusive, I've included the track notes for our journey to the Mt Wycheproof summit:

  1. Drive up mountain to carpark
  2. Stop to admire and photograph scenic public toilet (to feature in a future post)
  3. Follow the sealed track for ~50 metres to the summit
You're welcome ...

And at over 8.5 km (~ 5 miles) lower than Mt Everest, Mt Wycheproof is MY kind of mountain!

# According to the Great Australia Gazetteer, a handy travel guide/cookbook/map reference to Australia's weirdest wonders, anyway!!

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What's good about ... Melbourne?

I haven't spent a lot of time in Melbourne recently - so I'm happy to welcome someone who has! 
Cristina Laria is blogging from not for profit community television station Channel 31 in Melbourne and Geelong. C31 has recently launched a new tagline “We Are Melbourne and Geelong” and to celebrate, they would love for all Melbourne and Geelong lovers to post their favourite Melbourne or Geelong icons on their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/C31Melbourne.
Cristina loves ... Lygon St, Carlton!

I often think back fondly to when I was a child and my family would make regular trips to Lygon St in Carlton. Both my parents were born in Italy and migrated to Australia before I was born. Growing up I have always had a strong sense of my Italian heritage and been encouraged to embrace it, through learning the language and experiencing its customs and traditions – especially when it comes to food!

Lygon St Pizza, Melbourne, Victoria (photo courtesy of Cristina)
 Nowadays it seems that every corner you turn there’s a restaurant boasting authentic Italian cuisine. However when I was younger, finding traditional Italian food wasn’t so easy. My family would have to venture out to Carlton from our suburban bayside home to find an Italian meal. With my older brother and I in the back and my parents in the front, we would drive for what seemed like forever to Lygon St, where we would often meet extended family and friends. We’d enjoy a pizza or a pasta and maybe even a gelati if my brother and I behaved! While there my mum would stock up on produce at the few small Italian delis on the street, selling imported cheeses, cured meats, olive oils and pastas.

Nowadays I still love going to Lygon St. Being in Carlton, it’s central for everyone and you can always count on getting a great meal wherever you go. And the amazing smell of pizza as you walk down the street gets you every time!

Thanx, Cristina!  Melbourne's Lygon St is legendary - even amongst those of us who haven't been there recently!!  AND ... if that sensational pizza is a sample of what awaits -  am I the only one drooling?! - I can't wait for my next visit!!

If any other readers would like to share a favourite piece of Melbourne, head on over to Channel 31's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/C31Melbourne.  AND ... let me know too!  I'd like to feature some more of Melbourne right here!!

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Bouquet of Aussie Wildflowers for Mother's Day!


Everlasting
There's something about Australian wildflowers ... 



They're not for everyone. 



If you like gentle colours, traditional shapes and beautiful scents you might be disappointed ...








Sturts Desert Pea


Like Australia itself they can be a little bit wild and untamed. 





Strong and hardy, like the land they live in and its people ...  especially its mothers!





Porcupine Grass


 With bizarre shapes, an amazing spectrum of strong colours, weird forms.


Glossodia



Then an unexpected flash of colour in the strangest places!


And a delicate bloom amidst the bark, leaf litter, rocks and twigs at the base of a tree in the bush ...







Golden Wattle




It's no surprise then, that the vivid colour, unusual flower and the ability to survive Australia's harsh conditions made us Aussies choose the Golden Wattle for our National floral emblem!









Banksia




Spikes, serrations and sharp edges are common characteristics of Australian flowers. 





Some would say of its people too!!







Grevillea

They're unpredictable and often grow in the most inhospitable conditions.




But the colours, shapes and textures fit the landscape in which they bloom ...





Parakeelya
Honey Grevillea
They've adapted to survive Australia's extreme weather. 


Long droughts. 



Monster floods.




Killer heat.


Moss Flowers
Icy cold ....



They grow in rocks.




On sand dunes.



On the plains and in the snow.

Correa
 But wherever they are, they never cease to delight, amaze and enthrall their devotees.


Eucalyptus

Australian wildflowers are particularly apt for Mother's Day.


Their strength, resilience and beauty epitomise the qualities we love and appreciate in mothers.

Always reliable, always surprising, never predictable, never dull.

Colourful and amazing.





Happy Mother's Day to all!

One special mother will be receiving a calendar of these Aussie Wildflower photos this year - Happy Mother's Day, Mum!!  I hope this gift of virtual flowers will bring joy that lasts right through until next years Mother's Day!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Only in OZ #21 – Big Murray Cod, Swan Hill, Victoria

The Big Murray Cod car-surfing, Swan Hill, Victoria

The huge fish levitating planking looming above the cars parked opposite the Swan Hill Visitor Information Centre ALMOST made up for Pilchard's refusal to take a detour via the tiny town of Tittybong. Just so I could say I'd been there ...

But the thrill of almost visiting Tittybong dissipated as I sniffed out a story here on the Victorian side of the River Murray, state boundary with New South Wales.

Arnold, Swan Hill's Big Murray Cod


Swan Hill's giant Murray Cod 'Arnold' was saved from oblivion by its community who fibreglassed the steel and timber behemoth and slapped up on the banks of the river as a tourist attraction. And they were right to do so – 'Arnold' is now far better known as a stalwart of the Swan Hill streetscape than for his short lived movie career. Say what? Yes, he was constructed in 1991 as a prop for Australian movie production Eight Ball.

No, I've not seen Eight Ball either. I'd never even heard of it until our April 2012 visit to Swan Hill! It's apparently about two men who meet on a construction site for a preposterous tourist attraction – yes, a giant Murray Cod – on the banks of the Murray River near Swan Hill!! At least It makes a change from swarms of bees, creatures from black lagoons and killer tomatoes …

The Big Murray Cod, Swan Hill, Victoria


So is Arnold's reincarnation life imitating art? Or vice versa??
At 15 metres (~47 ft), Arnold dwarfs Jaws, a tiddler at only 8 metres (25 ft)! But giant Murray Cod aren't just the stuff of B grade movies – the largest real one ever recorded was over 1.8 metres (6 ft) long and weighed 113 kg (250 lb)!

Whether inadvertently or not, Arnold's size echoes the Aboriginal Murray River creation legend – a giant Murray cod chased down a small stream widens the river bed to assist its escape, it's thrashing tail creating the river bends that the more prosaic attribute to weathering, floodwaters and time …

Arnold - the back view ...

But will re-stocking programs, catch-and-release strategies, upper and lower size restrictions, and bag limits be enough to reverse the decline of this iconic Australian fish? 

Once common throughout the Murray-Darling river system, the Murray Cod is now 'vulnerable', since European settlement a victim to unregulated overfishing, river de-snagging, decline of water quality and competitive introduced species such as European carp.

A youngster at only 21, Arnold has 27 years to go before he matches the age of the oldest recorded Murray Cod. And even further to go before 2061 when he'll reach 70 – the estimated age of the monster fish of yesteryear!

I hope he's not the last of his kind by then ...


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Saturday, May 5, 2012

7 Random Alpine Adventures - Bright, Victoria

Autumn Colours, Bright, Victoria

1. Happy Campers – Bright Big 4 Caravan Park

 Colours at the Caravan Park
From the expletives, it appeared the rain-lashed grey nomads repeatedly jacknifing their massive van into the bushes around their campsite as thunder rumbled thorough the night were NOT “Livin' the Dream” their van proclaimed. Although their inadvertent behavioural benchmark reinforced the pact between Pilchard and I.

'If I ever …' Pilchard began, but I knew how this story ended. Unlike the hapless travellers cursing their way through the wanton destruction of several fine shrubs before they gave up and departed, we'd so far avoided setting up on an unfamiliar site in the rain and dark. BUT … I knew what to do if it ever happened. I tuned back in as Pilchard concluded with his usual instruction - '… just shoot me'!

The caravan park was an unlikely spot for our adventures in and around North-eastern Victoria's Bright to begin. But strangely appropriate! Our wicked and unkind laugh over the night's misadventures was accompanied by the spectacular colours of the ever present falling leaves – magically whisked away each day by the caravan park cleaning fairy!
Snow Clouds near Falls Creek, Victorian Alps

But Bright and surrounds aren't just about the annual Autumn Leaves festival. In between adventures, the two local bakeries are worth many several a visit – but be warned! If there are any country Victorian towns without at least one fine bakery, I'm yet to find them …

2. Altitude, Alps and an Aussie record – Falls Creek

Rocky Valley Lake, highest body of water in Australia
If heights scare you rigid, try to avoid sitting on the drop-off side of the car on the steep and winding roads up into Victoria's High Country – at the very least, don't look down! That way you might even enjoy climbing the range – first through the ironbark forests where Superb Lyrebird could make an appearance; then into stands of endemic species Alpine Ash; followed by the stark and ghostly remains of the 2003 bushfire that burned out millions of high country hectares; and finally into the sparse Alpine vegetation above the tree line.


Snowing at Falls Creek!
And there, above the tiny village of Falls Creek precariously perched on the side of the mountain range is Australia's highest body of water – Rocky Valley Lake. As the snow began to fall – Yes, SNOW! – the signs about snow-chains and the orange road markers suddenly made sense … and the Outback seemed far, far away to this Aussie traveller who'd only ever seen snow twice before!

While I've experienced sub-zero temperatures before, 0ยบ C is the coldest maximum temperature I've EVER lived through!


3. Going Nuts - Wandiligong

As we lurched from Bakery to Berry farm; Indian/Italian to Sri-Lankan/Aussie pub cuisine; hot chocolate to champagne, the whole trip seemed to be turning into a deliciously tragic over-eating marathon.

I couldn't have squeezed in the local pub's 'Alpine Breakfast' (whatever in hell that was) eaten under a 'heated umbrella' (whatever in hell that meant) for quids (whatever in hell they are).
Listening to the band, Wandiligong Nut Festival

So indulging in hot roasted chestnuts, hot chocolate and dutch pancakes smothered in maple syrup, lemon and icing sugar at the annual Wandiligong Nut Festival was true to type. The local April sun was so pleasantly warm I can't imagine why the Dragon classic wasn't titled 'April Sun in Wandiligong' – but it didn't stop us singing along with the excellent cover band. Aussie classic anthem Downunder, sounding absolutely NOTHING like the Kookaburra song, had Melbourne Yuppies – all haircut and GQ country weekend – kicking back with grey nomads, locals and travellers.

And while I'm no singer, listening to that mixed crowd singing along to 'Eagle Rock' was one of the most tragic music experiences of my life ...

4. Save Our Souls – Beechworth

Beechworth's version of Ned Kelly
Once we'd finished up at the Beechworth bakery, we were ready to give our full attention to yet another town with links to bushranger Ned Kelly. While I loathe the word 'precinct', it really is the easiest way to describe the section of the town set aside for such things as the gaol with its fabulous Crime Scene gift shop (Hey, D! I haven't forgotten your birthday prez!), the courthouse and holding cells, early fire-fighting equipment displays, the inevitable statues of NK – and the self-proclaimed busiest Morse Code Telegraph station in the world!!

I'm not sure how many other contenders there are, if any, but surely the Morsecodians wouldn't make this kind of claim lightly. Would they??
Morse Code Telegraph Station, Beechworth, Victoria

Starting at a mere AUD $5 (although it's probably worth more than that in many other currencies at present) sending a message in Morse code to anyone in the world has never been so easy. You KNOW you want to!!

5. Undercover – Bogong Village

While I'm not afraid of lizards, I have no desire to prove it by picking them up and playing with them.

Just as well.

Lake Guy, Bogong Village, Victorian Alps
Tunnel under the Dam wall, Lake Guy
I thought the scaly reptilian head I spotted peering up at me through the grass at the side of the walking track round Lake Guy at Bogong Village was a lizard. I called Pilchard over as it looked a little different to the usual skinks scuttling about in the sun. Then it moved backwards. Uh-oh. Lizards aren't able to move backwards which meant it was – AAAARRRGGGHHHH! A snake!! Red-bellied black, according to Pilchard. I was miles away by then, so I can't confirm his identification.


Don't even think about looking for a photo …

Along with random and unexpected wildlife, the lake circumnavigation involves beautiful scenery, a magnificent lunch setting, Steve Parrish-like photographic opportunities – and a somewhat disconcerting walk through a tunnel under the dam wall. Just as well the snake didn't appear in the tunnel - nowhere to run or hide down there!!

6. On top of the world – the Buffalo's Horn

The road to the Horn, from the Horn lookout, Mt Buffalo National Park
It's a little known fact that altitude sickness can kick in from as low as 1700 metres above sea level.

That's the only explanation I can find for the dizziness, shortness of breath and constant need to stop and rest as I climbed the track to the summit of the Horn – at 1723 metres, the highest point of the Mt Buffalo National Park, a monolith that looms behind Bright. Or in front of it, if you prefer.
Proof - we BOTH climbed the Horn!

Then again, the vertiginous sheer drops and cold buffeting winds could have caused it too. But I'm sticking with altitude sickness – because the Horn is the highest lookout to which I've actually climbed (from the carpark below, not from sea level).

And just as well we climbed it when we did – rolling mist was already obscuring the view when we reached the hiker's hut of yesteryear. Tragically no St Bernards carrying restorative brandy casks appeared through the fog to offer assistance. But the bakery lunch we'd had the forethought to bring didn't last long ...

Shelter at the Horn, Mt Buffalo National Park, Victoria

7. Lookout!!

After a couple of days in the Victorian high country, staggering views from unbelievably scenic lookouts became commonplace.

But no matter how commonplace, they never become ho-hum.

A few of my favourites:

En Route to Mt Hotham, Victorian Alps, Australia














Tourists admiring Mt Bogong, highest mountain in Victoria

















And Australia's highest mountain, Mt Kosciuszko obscured by cloud and this tenacious traveller who just WOULD NOT MOVE!!!!

NEARLY Mt Kosciuszko!





The life-changing message - 'We are all reptilians and the aliens are stealing our souls' – was an incongruous addition to the spectacularly scenic landscape of Lake Buffalo. But perhaps it's a cryptic message of courage – if we are indeed all reptilians, then there's no reason to fear snakes, right? And if the aliens are stealing our souls, then it probably doesn't really matter if I fall from a great height, does it?!

Lake Buffalo, in the shadow of Mt Buffalo, Victoria


I had no idea our Victorian Alpine country adventure would be so much fun it'd make battling my twin fears of snakes and heights such a pleasure!  But now I DO know, I'll be back for more!

Not quite enough photos here for you? 
RELAX!  There are WAAAAAY more HERE on Flickr!!

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