Monday, 7 January 2013

just a few last photos

We've been in England since December 12 but we are still not quite home yet. Spent time with family and friends over Christmas and now have a week with a friend in Hereford before we can move back into our house. During our trip we often did not get around to uploading pictures to the blog so here are a few before we wrap up. Hope to be back in our house soon so one more post then and that's it.

grave of RLS on Western Samoa

nz north island geothermal area

walk near Mount Tongariro?

Mount Tongariro? which erupted the day after we were there with no casualties

Kaikoura, south island  for whale watch

Milford or Doubtful Sound? they were equally memorable :)

Doubtful Sound

Tareri gorge railway viaduct

Christchurch reminiscent of the Cambridge banks. It's name comes from the Oxford college.

a beautiful short circular walk at Palm Beach north of Sydney

Palm Beach north of Sydney

Blue Mountains west of Sydney - descent into canyon by Giants Stairway

some wildlife photos -nz and sydney

rainbow lorikeet? Sydney

sulphur crested cockatoo Sydney

stilt can tolerate the geothermal areas
seen at Rotorua, north island

quail seen at Queenstown, south island

dusky dolphin at Kaikoura, south island
sperm whale
wallaby at Pittwater youth hostel north of Sydney

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Australia part two

For our second day in Collaroy, we were again entertained by my cousin who drove us up to Palm Beach, which is the poshest address in these parts. We had a walk up to the lighthouse on the headland where there were fantastic views across the water - masses of yachts racing and wooded headlands - also views up along the coast. She then took us down to Manly where we had a picnic near the beach, then had a walk up the headland there.
At the end of the day David and I borrowed a bodyboard from the Youth Hostel as the surf had got a bit more impressive. It was quite wild but a lot of fun.
Sunday we took a train up to the Blue Mountains where we stayed in Katoomba, which is the traditional place for escaping the heat of Sydney. The Youth Hostel there is an old Art Deco style hotel. There is a sandstone plateau with amazing cliffs and waterfalls - loads of paths through the temperate (=cool) rain forest.
Monday and we are back down in Sydney staying with our friend - tomorrow we'll be doing the sights of Sydney itself then getting our flight back to the UK. PHEW!

Friday, 7 December 2012


Australia has been quite different from expected, pleasantly cool. We've been staying with our friend (who introduced us to each other in Guyana) - that has been great and a bit like coming home. We've been viewing the sights of Sydney by swanning around on the ferries. We've also been regally entertained by my cousin. Now we are doing a few nights' hostelling - firstly at Pittwater which is set in a National Park and is only accessible by ferry. There were wallabies hopping around outside the Youth Hostel, and we've seen white cockatoos, kookaburas and massive lizards (goannas).
Tonight we are back in civilisation, across the road from a surf beach - no surf today though, so we had a walk up the hill behind and enjoyed spotting some more birds (rainbow lorikeets) as well as spotting a suitable ice cream shop!

Saturday, 1 December 2012


Next day was a massively long trip over to Doubtful Sound. Coach then boat across one lake to where the hydropower stations is, then coach over the pass, then cruise on the Sound. A beautiful and majestic place, misty, shear cliffs with many waterfalls. We went along the winding fiord out to the sea, spotting some little penguins.
We had a day to explore Queenstown - a beautiful spot on a lake reminiscent of the Swiss Alps, did a great walk up the hill behind the town, seeing quite a few birds.
Next we had a coach ride then train ride to Dunedin on the east coast. The train was a heritage train along the Tarieri Gorge. Dunedin is a town which grew very rich through the gold rush, we admired some impressive buildings and the botanical gardens. The museum was good yesterday on a wet afternoon.
Now we are back in Christchurch and due to fly out to Australia tomorrow afternoon! We hear there is a heatwave there...

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Southern Alps, birds

Had a great trip on the Trans Alpine train - I had no idea that the South Island was so scenic - building the tracks and roads over this side is quite an epic story as well. We've since done coach journeys with commentary down the west coast, ending up at Queenstown. Yesterday we went over the mountains to Milford Sound for a nature cruise. We saw a penguin (just the one) but it was a very rare one apparently, and fur seals. The shear cliffs and long waterfalls are impressive.
It feels like we are in Switzerland, only it is all much more isolated. The really sad thing is that the native bird population has been decimated by possums which were brought over from Australia for the fur trade. They have spread all over and climb trees to get at the birds' nests. The Dept of conservation is doing a trapping and poisoning programme to try to reduce the numbers of them, but there is so much land which is just native bush that it seems an insurmountable task. Meanwhile English introduced species are doing well - sparrows, blackbirds and chaffinches are everywhere.