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


1000 Words About … the Mating Season! AND Giveaway Winner

Rainbow Bee-eater fights the cold in Southern Australia
Caught out by unseasonal – and unaccustomed – cold, this Rainbow Bee-eater family turned up in our backyard on a freezing spring morning in October.

Huddling together to maximise the rays of the rising sun – and their body heat – the row of seven little jewel-like birds (count the beaks!) looked far less comfortable than when we'd seen them in Northern Australia a couple of months beforehand.

We generally know its getting warmer when the bee-eaters appear.
Although, we have also been known to be able to tell it's getting warmer when the temperature rises!
Just sayin'!

Australia's only bee-eater, this spectacularly colourful bird - arguably Australia's most photographed -migrates south once the weather starts warming up at the start of the Southern Hemisphere spring to breed.
Rainbow Bee-eater, Roebuck Bay, Broome, Western Australia
After a summer of love, they return to the warmer northern climate at the start of autumn in March or April to escape the southern Australian winter cold.

Where we're often lucky enough to spot them during OUR northern migration!

But while we're joining them in escaping the winter cold, I'm not so sure about the mating season ...

For more wild birds – Australian or otherwise – visit Wild Bird Wednesday, hosted by Stewart on his blog Paying Ready Attention - Photo Gallery.

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For those who care, the winner of the Red's Readers' Reward Giveaway is Terri from Are We There Yet!

Congratulations, Terri!

And commiserations to other entrants ...

BUT - all is not lost!

My exclusive Amazing Aussie Loos with Awesome Scenic Views OR COOL Aussie Blues with HOT Aussie Views Calendars are still available from my CafePress Shop!!!


Australia's Scenic Public Toilets #29 - Crocodile Cruise Conveniences!

Victoria River Cruises Pontoon AND Scenic Loo!  Via Timber Creek, Northern Territory

Maybe the multiple crocodile sightings did it.

Or the 70 km (~45 miles) cruise from the Timber Creek landing to the middle of nowhere.
View from Loo, Victoria River via Timber Creek, Northern Territory

Or perhaps the sunset drinks and snacks, taken incongruously in the middle of the crocodile-infested Victoria River were responsible.

Croc-spotting, Victoria River Cruise, via Timber Creek, NT
Whatever it was, the public amenities on the purpose-built pontoon where we took a break from crocodile spotting to admire the staggering view were most welcome.

And while they're not REALLY public toilets – use of them comes with passage on the excellent Victoria River Cruise run by Neville & Meredith Fogarty – they're undeniably scenic!

With an added frisson of excitement - and uncertainty - from the crocs that may – or may not – be lurking all around.
Pontoon Loo Close Up, Victoria River
After watching a couple of 5-6 metre crocodiles disappear from the riverbank into the water without a trace further upstream, the crocs could be anywhere!

And that included right under our pontoon!!

Praise be for heavy duty steel!!

But after an event-free hiatus aboard the pontoon – that is, if viewing the 360° splendid grandeur of Australia's wildest river doesn't count as an 'event' – we returned to Timber Creek as the sun set and the moon rose over the river.

Moonrise over the Victoria River, via Timber Creek, Northern Territory

With a panorama so heart-stoppingly magnificent the crocs were forgotten!

Victoria River Sunset, via Timber Creek, Northern Territory

This spectacular and unique scenic public toilet is one of a lucky 13 featured on the 'Amazing AussieLoos with Awesome Scenic Views' calendar!

If you're reading this before 6 am, Tuesday 27th November (Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time), enter my giveaway HERE to win one!

Otherwise, it's available – with a start month and year of your choice – at my CafePress Shop!

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Red's Readers' REWARD!!

Willie Creek via Broome, Western Australia

When I took this photo of Willie Creek near Broome in Australia's Top End, I wasn't planning a cover shot!

Blue Calendar CoverBUT …
I hope you'll agree it was the obvious choice for the cover of the latest calendar in my CafePress Shop:
COOL Aussie Blues with HOT Aussie Views!
Click HERE for more details of the BLUE calendar! 
See the BLUE photos for each month with the 'View Calendar Pages' link on the product page.
And have a look at my other COOL Blue Products while you're there!

Loo Calendar Cover
Australian Scenic Public Toilet devotees will be surprised to learn that my Amazing Aussie Loos with Awesome Scenic Views calendar isn't for everyone ...
But just think of the possibilities!!  Doesn't EVERY home need something decorative - and tasteful - for the smallest room in the house??
This unique calendar, with a different Aussie Amenities building for each month, is a virtual tour of Scenic Australia!

Click HERE for more details of the LOO calendar! And see the LOO photos for each month with the 'View Calendar Pages' link on the product page.

So I've made it easy. Now there's a choice of two!

And to celebrate the launch of this FAAAABULOUS* new calendar into my CafePress Shop one lucky reader will win a calendar of their choice from the two shown above!  She or he will also get to choose the start month AND year - because these calendars can be given at ANY time of the year!!
For 1 entry, just leave a comment below**

For 2 entries, TWEET this post with my Twitter handle @RedNomadOZ.

For 3 entries, visit my CafePress Shop and like or share your favourite product (Tweet, FB, Stumble etc). Then come back here and comment again to tell me what you did.

The Giveaway closes at 6:00 am, Tuesday 27 November (Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time). The winner will be chosen by and notified by email or via your website – please ensure your contact email/website is available either on your profile, or in your comment***. If I can't contact you, another winner will be selected.
Like this COOL BLUE?  It's in the Calendar AND in the Shop!

Of course there can only be one winner … so visit my CafePress Shop to see what's on offer!  Just so you don't miss out ...

AND don't forget: A Calendar ISN'T just for Christmas anymore!

Choose your own start-month (and year!) for a perfect gift solution for those pesky hard-to-buy-for people ALL year round!

Of course you can choose a traditional January - December calendar gift. But why not start the calendar in the person's Birth Month to create a more personal Birthday Year calendar? Or start it in May for a Mother's Day Year or September for a Father's Day Year memento?? Or even as a Financial Year record???
This dunny at Western Australia's Quobba Blowholes is in the Calendar - but hasn't bee on my blog yet!
A Countdown Calendar ending in the month of a big event like an overseas trip, sporting meet, house purchase or other significant milestone will make a fun keepsake that'll last forever!
Check out these unique gifts – and other products – in my CafePressShop HERE!!
Good luck!!

* Modesty? What's that??
** Email subscribers: take the link at the top of the email to my blog. Scroll down to the 'comments' field. Click on the drop down next to the 'Comment As' field. If you don't have an account with any of the sign-in options, select 'Anonymous' and put your name and (if I don't know you) contact email somewhere in your comment.


The 5-Experiences-in-24-hours Victoria River Roadhouse Action Plan!

Victoria River Escarpment, Northern Territory

I don't know what made us decide to stay overnight at the Victoria River Roadhouse as we pulled in for fuel, late on a Northern Territory July morning.

Perhaps we took the Grey Nomad's experimental driving technique involving an inexpertly executed U-turn directly in front of us without warning as a sign to stay off the roads that day.

Evening at the Victoria River Roadhouse - and Sign!!
Perhaps the imminent full moon threatened the same thing.

Or perhaps the iconic Victoria River Roadhouse, nestled below the wild Victoria River's magnificent escarpments between Katherine in the Northern Territory and Kununurra in Western Australia just looked too inviting …

Whatever the reason, we soon discovered we'd lucked out with one of the most spectacular campground settings in remote Outback Australia.

And 5 completely unexpected extraordinary experiences that make this remote outpost on the Victoria Highway WAAAY more than just a fuel and food stop.

So … what's to do? Here's how WE spent a stay of less than 24 hours at the Roadhouse!

Sunrise through the new; and from the old Victoria River Crossing Bridge, Northern Territory

1 Get a photo of … well, EVERYTHING!

From the iconic Roadhouse sign to the wild outback landscape to the moonrise over the escarpment* and sunrise over what is arguably Australia's wildest river, it's almost impossible to take a bad photo (although I did my darndest!).

Moonrise over the Victoria River Escarpment, Northern Territory

BUT … here's the catch. You won't get good pix by spending all your time having happy hour in the campground or drinks at the bar.

Here's my tip. Do the other things on my list, and the photos will take care of themselves!

Victoria River Roadhouse and Campground from Escarpment Lookout, Northern Territory

2 Admire the landscape from the Escarpment Lookout!!

I think it's a Kimberley Rose??
Heading west up the road and round the corner, a reasonable walking track (with some steep sections) winds up from the valley over the rocks and onto the escarpment.

It's worth the effort for the staggering views over the Victoria River Valley, and down to the roadhouse and campground, nestled amongst the trees.

The fantastic array of wildflowers** were a pleasant surprise!

And because it's in the valley between escarpments, the sun on the RED rock enhances the incredible view at virtually any time of the day!

3 Get close to Australia's Wildest River!!!

If you DO try to get close to the river, don't get TOO close – crocodiles are common in these parts. And while we didn't see one on the Roadhouse stretch of the Victoria River, on our crocodile cruise at Timber Creek, a couple of hours west, we saw more crocodiles in a couple of hours than in the rest of our lives put together!

The Escarpment Lookout, Victoria River Valley, Northern Territory

The height of the old bridge compared to the new gives an indication of how much water flows through the river crossing during the wet season. The many campers who didn't take the 5 minute stroll down onto the old bridge missed an excellent opportunity for those sunset or sunrise photos where the escarpment GLOWS!

Victoria River, Northern Territory

A short drive south along a gravel road down to the river gave a different perspective. On the lookout for the crocodiles infesting the river, we weren't expecting the buffalo*** that somehow wandered between us and our car …

4 Eat at the Roadhouse Restaurant ...

… and have a real multicultural experience!

Victoria River Roadhouse by Day!  Northern Territory

The pierced Nordic backpacker**** who rattled off her practised spiel as we checked into the excellent and scenic caravan park nestled between escarpment cliffs of the Victoria River Valley was only the first in a string of overseas tourists we encountered during our short stay.

An eclectic mix of staff representing a smattering of other European countries variously served us drinks, took our order, served our meal and cleared our table.

And the other diners weren't all Grey Nomads on an extended happy hour, either! My shameless eavesdropping picked up at least 10 different accents from both sides of the counter in the small dining room – with Aussies way in the minority.

More fools them!!

Livistona Palms and Red Cliffs at Joe Creek Walk, Victoria River Valley, Northern Territory

5 Walk the Joe Creek Loop!!!!!

The guidebook 'suggests' this walk is moderate grade, but I wasn't so sure ...  a steep, rocky track straight up the escarpment; a narrow path under a soaring cliff; gravel crumbling underfoot.

But the next day at Timber Creek, the one-legged man with crutches***** on our crocodile cruise told us he'd done it the day before and I felt like a big girl. Hardly surprising because I AM a big girl, but you know.

Joe Creek Walk Amphitheatre, Victoria River Valley, Northern Territory

Difficult or no, however, this walk delivers the goods. Red rock, livistona palms, Aboriginal Art, natural amphitheatre glowing RED in the evening light. It even overshadowed the public toilet which sadly, wasn't quite scenic enough to make the cut …

And if I can do it, and a one-legged man with crutches can do it, what's YOUR excuse?!

Couldn't resist another RED Rock/Moonrise/Escarpment shot ... Victoria River Escarpment, Northern Territory

This remote outpost in the Aussie Outback is the real deal. But like so many Outback places, the only way to see it is to stop and explore. Looking back, it's hard to believe we spent less than 24 hours there – but I see at least one more 24 hour stopover in my future ...

* I can't guarantee a moonrise for YOUR visit!
** Nor can I guarantee wildflowers!
*** Wild buffalo might not appear!
**** And Nordic backpackers might not turn up for YOUR visit!
***** And I certainly can't guarantee a one-legged man with crutches!!

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1000 Words About ... Mangroves!

Mangrove Reflections, St Kilda Boardwalk, Adelaide, South Australia

Travellers downunder don't generally associate South Australia's Adelaide with mangroves*. Nor do they associate Adelaide with St Kilda**!

But once past the tremendous view over the samphire flats to the Adelaide Hills, the mangrove boardwalk in tiny seaside enclave of St Kilda transports visitors into another world.

View to Outer Harbour from St Kilda Mangrove Boardwalk, Adelaide, South Australia

And was once the setting of a dastardly rip-off that still assaults our finely tuned sense of outrage whenever we think of it. Like today.

On our previous visit, a sign proclaimed that the mangrove boardwalk and education centre entry fee had been reduced because storm damage meant back-tracking if one wished to see all parts of the circuit walk . After slipping our irretrievable payment into the honesty box, we found that a) the education centre wasn't open; b) only 500m of the 2+ km track was accessible; and c) the entry fee clearly wasn't being spent on maintenance!

Yes, I get that if this is my biggest problem I'm having an easy life … BUT HOW DARE THEY?!?!
Mangrove Shadows reflected in the water, St Kilda Mangrove Boardwalk, Adelaide, South Australia

Today, however, boardwalk entry is free – for the same 500m stretch we walked last time. As I inhaled the beauty of spring in Adelaide, my sense of outrage evaporated.

Who cares about a measly few dollars when photos like these*** are mine for the taking??

* More common further north than South Australia
** The more well known version of St Kilda is in Melbourne!
*** 3 photos = 3000 words. I lied.

I can't tell you if the financial, experiential or emotional cost for other Weekend Reflections participants was greater than mine. But you can find out for yourself HERE!

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Mind over Madness ... Joffre Falls, Karijini National Park

Joffre Gorge & Falls, Karijini National Park, WA
The edge of the gorge was no place for a recovering acrophobic*.

Despite its well-made viewing platform with solid handrails, the lookout overhung the sheer drop to the Joffre River far below, many more metres than I wanted to count**.

I don't think I'll EVER get used to being on an overhang …

But weirdly, the scare-factor just added to the attraction of this dramatic corner of the wild and remote Karijini National Park, deep in the heart of the RED Pilbara.

Did I say RED? Make that BEYOND red ...

Earlier in the day the staggering view from the Oxer Lookout, at the junction of the Weano, Hancock, Joffre and Red Gorges, certainly gave its claim as Australia's most spectacular a RED HOT go.
And a further scare-factor with the memorial to a guide killed by flash-flooding in 2004 while rescuing an injured hiker.

No, magnificent though it was, Karijini National Park wasn't exactly a safe place.

And now we'd made our way upstream to the spectacular amphitheatre of the Joffre Falls crashing over the edge, plummeting down to the Joffre River below and carving the Joffre Gorge through the geometrical red, RED rock of its walls.

I 'rested' my hands on the guardrail in the white-knuckled grip of the not-yet-fully-cured acrophobic and tried not to think of the gaping chasm beneath as I gazed across the void to the sheer walls on the other side.

View from Oxer Lookout - where 4 Gorges meet! Karijini National Park, Western Australia

Little Corellas (the white spots in the photos) fluttered in and out of their roosting spots on the rocky ledges high above the ground. Or below the ground, depending on ones viewpoint ... My keen eye detected another movement directly opposite.

Seated at Joffre Gorge, WA
Joffre Gorge Hikers, Karijini NP, WA

There were people on the cliff.
About half-way up, a young woman perched on a rocky ledge sloping towards the edge called out to the – OMIGOD – the people BENEATH!!!
I leaned over the railing to take a photo – possibly proof that acrophobia IS all in the mind – and saw them far below picking their way back along the narrow rocky ledge from the falls.
Hikers at Joffre Gorge, Karijini National Park, Western Australia

What were they thinking?

Climbing Joffre Gorge, Karijini National Park, Western Australia
Maybe the steep, sloping rocky platforms looked worse than they really were from this angle.
Maybe climbing up rocks as big as houses tilting towards the ravine was fun.
Maybe to non-acrophobics this walk was actually 'Easy'.

Or maybe the walkers were just plain mad.

That's what I thought before Pilchard pointed out the trail markers.
That's what I thought AFTER Pilchard pointed out the trail markers.

And that's what I still think now!!

Discretion may well be the better part of valour***. But sometimes I'm more inclined to agree that cowardice is the better part of discretion****!

The RED Dust of Karijini National Park!
* Acrophobia = fear of heights
** This cutesy phrase really means I couldn't find the exact depth of the Gorge!
*** William Shakespeare (Henry IV part 1)
**** Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (although some will doubtless attribute it to Douglas Adams)

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“Red and Pilchard's Day in the Country” by Red

My Story by Red Nomad OZ

Today we went for a drive in the country on the Yorke Peninsula.
Crops on Southern Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

The fields were all dry but the sky was very blue.

We stopped to look at flowers.
There were lots of white everlastings.
We had to look for snakes but we didn't see any.
That was good.
There was just a dead one on the road.
That was good too.

The sky was very blue down by the beach too.
En Route to Troubridge Point, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia
Pilchard said there were lots of small birds that flew here all the way from Siberia.
Red-necked Stint
He said they are called Red-Necked Stints.
But even they haven't travelled as far as the Fire Truck in theEdithburgh museum.
Troubridge Point Coastline, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

It's weird to think how far those birds come just to escape winter.
Maybe people who live in, say, Switzerland, Hungary or even Texas might like to come here for winter too.

Then they could see the red brick lighthouse called Troubridge Point Lighthouse.
Troubridge Point Lighthouse, Southern Yorke Peninsula, South Australia
It is round. The bricks are a special shape to make it round. It is the only lighthouse like this in the world.

Spectacular coastline at Troubridge Point, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

We stopped to look for seals but there weren't any. They are all at Kangaroo Island. We could see Kangaroo Island across Backstairs Passage. I don't know why they called it that. Then Pilchard said we had to go because there might not be any vanilla slices left at the Yorketown bakery.

Suicide Point, Southern Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

It was scary driving along the edge of the cliff because it was very windy. The sky was very blue but the sea was even bluer. When we got to Suicide Point it was the bluest of all. But that's because I made my camera do a trick.

Salt Lake, Southern Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

On the way to the bakery the sky was very blue. Then I saw a salt lake. It was very white but it turned blue where the water was still in it. That made the whole picture very blue.

Pilchard was right about the vanilla slices being gone. So he made a mess of his bakery food on the plate. It looked like fresh roadkill. But he said it tasted great.

When we got back to Sultana Point the sky was still blue but there were bits of pink in it. It was still pretty. Tomorrow the sky will be very blue again.

Sunset at Sultana Point, Southern Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

The end.


2 Million Miles ... and counting!

1942 ex-Fire Tender, Edithburgh, York Peninsula, South Australia
Anything RED will catch my eye.

An interesting history will hold my attention.

But it takes more than hue and back story to boggle my mind!

And this ordinary looking 1942 truck sitting inside an old shed behind a Yorke Peninsula country town museum with magpies roosting on its rusting railing delivered that boggle in spades.

Magpies at rest

Because this ex-army, transport and fire-tender vehicle has travelled 2 MILLION miles!

That's ROAD miles. And many of those miles are DIRT miles – and the equivalent of crossing Australia from east to west about 800 times!

Even Pilchard and I haven't covered that distance on ANY sort of road in 21+ years of Australian road tripping!

In manufacturing a vehicle capable of such distances, has the International Truck Company (and the Gardner LW4 Diesel Engine and David Brown 5 Speed Gearbox) succeeded where other, more notable vehicle manufacturers have failed?

Because although I'm not a petrol-head, I don't recall the 2,000,000 mile service ever coming up on any of the vehicles I've owned …

2,000,000 Million Miles later in the Edithburgh Historic Museum ...   Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

But also because I'm not a petrol-head, I'm prepared to concede that it's just possible I'm the only person in the known universe who thinks that a 2,000,000 miles on the road is newsworthy!

SO … put me out of my misery! Can YOU top this record? Tell me in the comments below!!


Shark and Eagle (Double) Bluff!

Eagle Bluff, via Denham, Shark Bay, Western Australia
'Shark! Everyone out of the water!!' he yelled, and I involuntarily jumped back from the guardrail, my movement triggered by that most primeval of Australian fears: Shark Attack!!

The amphitheatre of crumbling white rock plunging down into the green shallows of the bay below from the tourist brochure HAD to be trick photography, I'd thought upon seeing a photo of Eagle Bluff. The sea around Denham, closest town 20km up the road from the bluff, was blue. And the distant dunes and cliffs were red!

But the view from the boardwalk was exactly like the pictures – except for the shark, cruising lazily across the glinting green waters of the gigantic lagoon below the bluff. The young man hadn't been joking about that - but the chances of losing a limb to THIS shark were negligible. The boardwalk upon which we stood was WAAAAAY too far above sea level for anything but a non-existent wingless shark to negotiate.

Looking up the coast from Eagle Bluff
The young traveller who'd sounded the alarm was grinning like an idiot at the consternation he'd created. At least I wasn't the only one torn between two bluffs, looking like a fool.
Although I'm not so much of a fool as to take the snorkelling tour into those shark-infested waters ...
It doesn't require a great leap of imagination to figure out why the Shark Bay World Heritage area is known as Shark Bay!

Although the heritage listed graffiti carved on a rock that announced the 1858 arrival of Captain Henry M Denham, namesake for Shark Bay's largest town, is no longer above Eagle Bluff. Threatened by erosion, it's part of Pioneer Park in the Denham township. 

The view goes further than the shallow green waters below the bluff. Past the line where the green gives way to the darker blue and deeper ocean, birds nest on the offshore Eagle Islands, once mined for guano. Also visible on a clear day are the mountains of salt awaiting export from Useless Loop, its name derived from Havre Inutile (Useless Harbour), the original name bestowed by French explorer de Freycinet.

Salt stockpile at Useless Loop - and beyond to Steep Point!  Shark Bay, Western Australia
Beyond Useless Loop, it'd be a lie to say I could see Steep Point – westernmost edge of mainland Australia – through the heat and salt haze. But it's out there somewhere! And this is as close as I got – this time, anyway!

From the boardwalk running the length of the bluff, sea creatures like dugongs, rays, turtles and sharks are clearly visible in the waters far below, should they deign to appear. And appear they all did on two separate visits – although we actually spent more time observing the deeply fascinating human behaviours of visitors to this startlingly scenic spot.

Alone at last!  Viewing Eagle Bluff and Boardwalk, via Denham, Shark Bay, Western Australia
Perhaps keeping up with social media IS more important than taking in the astonishing coastal panorama and nearly endless parade of wildlife swimming below. But if that's the case, why bother coming?

And I didn't think my Australian accent was so incomprehensible that 'dugong' could be mistaken for 'shark'! But somewhere back in England, a young tourist is probably right now showing off his 'shark' photos, his audience non the wiser about the true identity of the dugong shaped blob in the water ...

We'll never understand why we were the only ones to take the rough, but clearly marked track from the car park to a vantage point with magnificent views up and down the coastline. Or why reading interpretive signs has become a lost art. And is getting a photo really worth stepping off the boardwalk onto the eroded and crumbling cliff edge, risking a plunge to the green, shark-laden depths below?

The other side of Eagle Bluff, Shark Bay, Western Australia

I see a stint as tour guide in my future ... and although the Shark Attack Alert bluff at Eagle Bluff threw me for a (Useless) Loop, that won't stop me from paying it forward next time I'm in Denham!!  

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This is MY take on the world this Tuesday - visit OUR World Tuesday to see what else is happening around the globe!

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