the adventure continues:- drinking pretty fast, talking through the past and reminiscing……

Heading out of Brunswick heads early was a great decision. The weather was fabulous and I was really keen to catch up and have an early lunch with my nephew Aaron. He had stayed in touch with me on my whole journey on a regular basis.

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The southern point of Coolangatta Beach……..

We had talked a lot about many things and discussed problem, processes and plans across 25 countries. We had organised to meet at a new cafe he had found on the Moreton bay foreshore in a little shopping plaza in Florence Street in Wynnum, Queensland. Kick Arse Coffee & High Fives is a great little “hipster styled” joint (lots of beards and tough stickers) with great coffee and great food for the “smashed avocado set”. We had brunch and it was great to see him for the couple of hours we spent. He’s a good young man and a super talented guitar player/singer.

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Necessary selfie with “little nephew” Aaron, Miss K after our lunch……

Karine and I had a plan for the day and that was to reach Perigean Springs on the Sunshine Coast. We were going to catch up with an old school mate of mine and spend a couple of days hanging out. Tom and I met on our first day school back in 1971. We had lost touch for years and one day out of the blue, I sent him an email on LinkedIn when I located his profile on the site.

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After 45 years you would think we would have grown up………this is what it looked like the first day we met in 1971.

We hung out and caught up over the next couple of days, eating, drinking and reminiscing about days gone by. I have never really been one to go way back into the past, but it seemed different with Tom. It just felt good to do.

Tom’s son Marc invited us to do the walk up to the summit of Mount Coolum with he and his friend Anna, which we jumped at. Karine and I needed to do something active. It was great to see the coast from this beautiful place. Unfortunately a fire had ripped through part of the mountain and the undergrowth was gone.

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Mount Coolum after a recent fire……..

We also headed up to Noosa for a late lunch one afternoon and walked out to the headland in the Noosa Heads National Park. Spotting a very nice rock wall, Karine, Tom and I ventured down to the rock platform right next to the pumping sea and found the local bouldering area. Karine and I did a little barefoot bouldering while Tom relaxed up on a higher section of the coastline.

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Miss K doing her thing…….handbag, camera and flip flops all at the ready.
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Barefoot bouldering on Noosa Point, right on the waterfront…..

Walking back to the car Karine had said she wanted to see a Koala in the wild. I walked a little further along the track and looked straight up at a beautiful and very cuddly Koala asleep in the fork of a small gum tree. It was fabulous to see.

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Noosa National Park…..truly beautiful.

We spent the night relaxing and had an early one, so as to get up and get away on the next part of the journey. We were headed to the Fraser Coast and to my sister’s new house near Hervey Bay.

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the adventure continues:- Byron Bay shines its ever-lovin’ light on us…

We decided to head to Brunswick Heads for a couple of nights. The place was a little less insane than Byron Bay is at the moment. The school holidays have commenced in Queensland and the campgrounds were filling fast. Even the former “free camping” places are now “book online only” and limited numbers. Fortunately we were we equipped to deal with what ever was thrown at us.

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Watego’s Beach doing what it does best……….

Heading straight to Byron in the morning after a good nights sleep was fabulous. The surf was good and the sun was shining. We could not have asked for a better day. We walked main beach all the way to The Pass and watched the surfers do their thing in the crystal clear water. Swimming at The Pass was fantastic as always as the sun added the colour we both needed to prove a North Coast holiday was had.

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Local gun on a nice cruisy roll at The Pass, Byron Bay NSW.

Byron Bay  gives a sense of freedom that is found in some of my favourite classic Aussie songs. Richard Clapton’s “Capricorn Dancer“, Sherbet’s “Summer Love“, Goanna’s “Razors Edge” and Australian Crawl “Oh No not you Again.“. I always felt our artists in the 70’s and 80’s really captured our lifestyle and culture………. 🙂

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Love this photo, shine your ever-loving light on me………

We lunched on sublime Sushi and had a beer at Kinoko, my favourite place to eat in Byron. The food is nothing short of divine and the service is simply fabulous. The Byron Bay Cookie Company was next on the list. My British friend Nicola had threatened to disown me if I didn’t take Karine to this “holy place”. We limited ourselves to a half kilogram of the doughy delights, but they were just so so good!

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The best flavoured cookies EVER!!!!

We had grilled Barramundi and salad for dinner. I cooked it……..we did not eat out. How can it be a camping trip if you eat out all the time. I also love to cook healthy and simple meals that taste good. Camping does allow this to happen if you are a little creative. The wine was nice and the scrabble game was our best yet………time for a rematch my love love. 🙂

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Miss K settling in for the evening with an Australian classic….Evans and Tate, Margaret River Sav Blanc.

It’s a privilege to be able to do road trips that take you to amazing places around the globe. This one was especially meaningful as I could show Miss K around this beautiful and diverse country that I was fortunate enough to be born in.

the adventure continues:- Yamba…….returning and yearning as I come full circle………

Arriving in Yamba, I had a sense of completion. It was where my journey had really begun approx. two and a half years prior to this day. It is where I said goodbye to my dad for the last time, it is where my family viewed as its central place of meeting. I was so pleased to be back here and to show Miss K this beautiful and peaceful place.

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Turners Beach and Yamba Lighthouse……..

I booked two nights at the Calypso Caravan and Camping Park, I think more out of nostalgia than anything else. There were plenty of other places to stay and we could have stayed with friends, but it seemed right at the time. We setup camp and headed out for a walk along the break wall that guided the Clarence River out to sea. It was a beautiful afternoon and we wandered slowly out to sea.

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The fleet leaving the harbour for the evenings work……

I learned to surf a little better at Turners beach when I was a kid and then took it more seriously when I was 46 years old, hiring a board for a couple of days and trying to learn again. I was telling K about all of the things that we used to get up to here and the great times we had.

There are two theories as to the meaning of Yamba, one being that it is the local Aboriginal word for “headland”. However, J.S. Ryan, following R.L. Dawson’s early Recollections and Records of the Clarence Aborigines, believes the most likely derivation is an Aboriginal word yumbah meaning a rough edible shellfish the size of a man’s hand that clings to rocks and is similar to an oyster……..thanks Wikipedia.

We watched the fishing boats head out to sea for the night. The dolphins put on another display of happiness and freedom in the channel and the seas were relatively calm. Sunsets were beautiful and Karine and I spent two days in this peaceful place.

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Its all to beautiful………

If you are ever in Yamba be sure to have breakfast at Caperberry’s Cafe. Lunch at the Pacific Hotel at the top the hill, above Main Beach and dinner at Yamba Shores Tavern.

the adventure continues:- a plethora of paradises and picturesque vistas.

Leaving Sydney again after only two full days in town was a little bit rushed, however there was no time to  waste as we had a serious deadline to meet. The New South Wales Christmas holidays began on 20th December and there was no way I wanted us to be on the road when that chaos hit. In fact, I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

We are heading north on a fourteen day road trip that would reach its paramount with a three day stay at my darling sister Tanya’s place in beautiful downtown Hervey Bay on the Fraser Coast in Australia’s second largest states, Queensland. Along the way taking in what would be a plethora of paradises and picturesque vistas.

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Our first stop was the ever stunning Port Stephens and Nelson Bay. The goal is to live in a tent for the entire journey. We booked into Treescape Accommodation and Camping for the night. The campsite was large and in a beautiful location, so thirty-three dollars didn’t seem to bad given the cost of accommodation in Oz so far.

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We walked on Samurai beach while the sun decided what to do. We cooked and relaxed around our little portable paradise for the night. Pesto pasta with mushroom and chorizo, accompanied by Coopers Original Pale Ale was the dining delight for the evening. The temperature dropped drastically when the sun settled beneath the horizon for the night. We rugged up for a night sitting outside eating and chatting.

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Calling it a night at about 9:30pm and crawling into the tent was great. We watched a little of our current favourite series on my laptop and then crashed out for the night. I had just falling asleep or so I thought and Karine says loudly “can you hear the possum?” I woke very sharply wondering what the hell was happening. There was a brush tail possum outside making its well known sound of intimidation. For a beautiful little animal they sound terrifying. We both fell asleep and sleep through some pretty wild sounds, the bats screeching, possums sounding like T-Rex and other sundry tweets, squawks and thumps.

I woke to the sounds of about five or six pairs Kookaburras laughing loudly in the trees. It was 5:41am and it was time for me to get up. I was well awake and in need of coffee. Trying to remain pretty much silent in a tent is a near impossible task, as you would be well aware. I did my best and began to bring the kitchen back to life in the back of the car. The first sip of coffee was a total sensation. It prepared me for the morning completely. Karine got up and joined me. We decided to head out for a look around.

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Off the back of a mates recommendation we headed up to the lookout at Tomaree Point. The one kilometre walk summited at 161 metres apparently, but it was steep and a great wake up call for us. The vistas were nothing short of spectacular…….absolutely incredible. Karine spotted Fingal Spit and decided we should go there immediately, so we did. The beach is pristine, the water perfect and the dolphins were out in force, frolicking in the water about 150 metres off shore. We couldn’t have asked for a better morning.

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We aimed for Laurieton this afternoon and found it after an average lunch at Bulladellah, followed by a speeding ticket just north of Taree sort of dulled the afternoon. We headed straight of the lookout at the top of Middle Brother Mountain and only just got to see the fabulous view of Laurieton and North Haven before being engulfed by clouds and the threat of a pretty intense thunderstorm.

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The Pacific Ocean was lashing the shore at North Haven beach and the wind threw sand in our face as we walked to the end of the northern break wall. I had spent many days fishing off this wall with my dad and grandpas when I was a youngen. Its also where I spread some of dad’s ashes with my cousin Paul just two and a half years ago.

After a brief discussion with the campground attendant about the inclement weather, Karine and I decided a cabin would be the order of the night. We are warm and cozy inside our little place and will reconvene in our tent again tomorrow night.

the adventure continues:- Even castles made of sand, fall into the sea, eventually……….

The alarm sounds and I stir to hit the snooze button, then realising that it’s 3:30am on Sunday morning. I have to get up and make a coffee! There is a bus to catch at 4:00am and it will not wait for me if I am late.

We had gotten to bed late as we were out having dinner and drinks in the desert night with about a hundred or so other tourists at the “Field Of Lights” installation by international artist Bruce Munro. This installation is the largest one to date, with more than 50,000 stems topped with frosted-glass spheres blooming in the darkness across our spiritual heartland. Simply Stunning!

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The coffee worked a charm and the walk to the bus was brief. The next three hours were spent sleeping intermittently in an uncomfortable chair in the middle of nowhere…….until we were woken suddenly by the coach slowing to avoid killing a beautiful wild brumby foal.

First stop was Kings Creek Station for a quick breakfast. Small property really! Its size is approx. 323748.5 hectares (800,000 acres). What you have to understand is that his is relatively small out here. We have cattle and sheep stations (ranches) the size of small countries. Back on the bus and we were on our way to Kings Canyon.

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Kings Canyon is part of the Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory. It sits at the western end of the George Gill Range. It was on our “Top 5” list of things to do while we were out here. The list was as follows: Kata Tjuta (The Olga’s), Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kings Canyon, Field of Lights Dinner and see a Big Red Kangaroo. Unfortunately we did not see the latter…..sorry K.

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We arrived at the car park and hopped off the coach. It was about 7:45am. We quickly sorted ourselves out and prepared for the Gorge Rim Guided Walk. 3.5 hours and considered difficult by normal standards. Well, off we went and the first twenty minutes were 500 stairs up to the top of the rim.

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This place is truly amazing. The Luritja people have inhabited the land for more than 20,000 years. The formations and the erosion that is evident are just mind blowing. As you move across the rim there is a shift in the geological formations that date back 440 million years. It is very difficult to find a single word that captures the barren sand dunes and the tropical ferns that are present in the Garden of Eden.

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Our day was drawing to a close and we had completed our rim walk. We were now off to the Kings Canyon “resort” for lunch and the long drive back to Yulara Resort and the Outback Pioneer Hotel and Lodge. I have to say that I was definitely feeling tired and we were looking forward to a shower,  but what a fabulous experience and I would recommend it to anyone with a good level of fitness.

Its a walk in the park, but its a tough and steep walk in a rugged and beautiful park…….you have been warned!

We finished off the tour with a quick stop at Mount Conner and one of the many salt lakes in the red centre.

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Mount Conner is just enormous…..32 kilometres around the base. It will eventually erode from the bottom and collapse down on itself. As for the salt lake …..only the Dreamtime knows the real story. 🙂

A great man once said “Even castles made of sand….fall into the sea…..eventually.”

– Jimi Hendrix

the adventure continues:- Out here nothing changes……not in a hurry anyway!

All I could hear was damn drums! My head was filled with the sound of drums and a lone and hypnotic didgeridoo! Then the bass sounded just two simple notes……..boom……boom. I was hearing the sound of my youth and those two simple notes I played and many more every night for seven weeks with “Shane Howard and the Big Heart Band” back in late 1990’s as his bass player.

“Out here nothing changes, not in a hurry anyway. You feel the endlessness, with the coming of the light ‘o’ day…….Ya’ know that it’s a chosen place….Ya’ wanna sell it in a marketplace …….Well! Now wait a minute now!”

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Uluru…….”The Rock”

These were the lyrics that Shane Howard penned in 1981 or earlier now echoed in my head. Goanna’s frontman Shane Howard was truly inspired and now I understand this even more.

All I could feel was an overwhelming sense of awe. It didn’t make me feel insignificant, nor did I feel an immediate spiritual affinity. This is a place of great depth and beauty………of a history that is only spoken. There are only a few pictures left, the remnants of by-gone educators and the stories they paint to teach the young.

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I have always wanted to walk through the desert in central Australia……it always appealed to me. I knew it was dangerous and I knew the environment was one of the most unforgiving. I wanted to understand how incredibly resilient and well adapted the local Anungu people really are.

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Starting out early heading to the trailhead of the Mala Gorge walk arriving at approx. 8:30am. Allowing 3.5-4 hours for the walk, the Mala Gorge walk wasn’t part of the base walk. We decided to include it anyway……We were so glad we did too. As we exited the gorge trail and headed out, it already felt like it was above 30 degrees celsius. We had 10.6 kilometres (6.58 miles) to walk with minimal shade, however we were well prepared, so off we went into the rising heat.

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The walk took us out into the desert a little way aways from the base of “The Rock”. It allowed us to see just how incredible this formation really was. The detail was just amazing. It didn’t matter how far you walked, you still felt like you weren’t moving at all…….and the caves….OMG the caves! The caves weren’t just little caves, they were twice the size of The Grande Grotto cave on the Island of Kalymnos……and we thought that was a big cave.

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Occasionally we would come into a little oasis area where the foliage was thicker and the ground was greener. The rainy season had been good this year and the “Red Centre” was a little greener and better for it.  You could see where the waterfalls ran as they left a black algae on the beautiful ochre coloured rock surface.

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Walking here kept me thinking that as a young man 22 years of age, my father took his then fiancé on a hike on this beautiful and inspiring monolith. In 1959 they walked all the way to the top of what was then known as Ayers Rock. Frankie married Gwennie in 1962.

I am happy to say we have progressed somewhat in this nation and hiking to the summit is not frowned upon, but it is preferred that it not be summited. Back in 1959 it was not seen as disrespectful to the local Anungu people to do this.

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I was now standing at the base of the path that leads to the summit of Uluru, our walk now complete, reflecting on a by gone era now defunct for some 41 years……but thats a whole other story.

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To be able to see this remarkable place not only humbles you, it gives you a real connection with the land and with what I believe to be the “True Heart” of my country.