Category Archives: Uncategorized

Caught by Trap …in Croc Infested Waters!

Caught by Trap ...In Croc Infested Waters!

Caught by Trap …In Croc Infested Waters! (Click on photos to enlarge)

Barramundi fishing in croc infested waters!

Darwin, NT, Australia has some of the best fishing in the world; despite the dangers of salt water crocodiles. The scene looks beautiful put the photos can’t capture the inferno like temperature or the constant buzz of insects! Our croc loving friend, Troy Walsh, took us on this treacherous adventure with promises of a seafood feast upon completion. His promises were accompanied by far to little sunscreen, shade or bug spray!

After five hours on the water, it is with a sense of accomplishment and heightened survival skills that I can now report ~ we caught a few small fish but ~ Troy’s big barramundi got away. We trapped a few small mud crabs but ~ then the boat propeller got twisted in one of the traps.

And we were stalked by a crocodile ~ while Troy was dangling off the stern, untangling the prop! Lynne became the lookout while I held on to Troy tightly, promising to pull his armless body back on the boat no matter what happened! Bravely Captain Troy dislodged the now mangled crab trap and untangled the propeller without being attacked!

It’s always considered a good day in the Top End when you make it home with all your limbs!! Our skin was blistered by the tropical sun’s passionate kisses and we had hundreds of midgee (sand-fly) bites but ~ what’s that compared to the bite of a crocodile?/!

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Travel On! Join us as we travel into the unknown.

¸.•♥ In-ƤЄƛƇЄ ~ ԼƠƔЄ ~ ԼIƓHƮ & ԼƛUgHƮЄr ☮ ♥ ★ ツ *。.☆

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Danger in Outback Australia!

Cattle Crossing

High Speed Cattle Crossing     (Click on Images to Enlarge)

Vast, remote and arid, the Australian Outback is a landscape which offers a striking contrast to the better known beach towns of Australia. Lynne and I left Mackay, Queensland, after completing our Quest for the Elusive Platypus. Our new quest for Aboriginal Culture and dramatic wildlife would take us from the sandy beaches of Queensland, through the bush, (land outside urban areas) and into the Aussie Outback, delivering us to the tropical Top End.

A new adventure had us in its grip and we were heading to Darwin, capital city of the Northern Territory. Darwin is located on the northern central coast of Australia, thus earning the name ‘Top End’ and is a location filled with danger! I think it should be called ‘Danger End’ because there are so many things in the area that can kill you! It’s rough as guts—but—a little thing like that wasn’t about to stop us! We had a long dangerous drive ahead of us; 1161m/1869kms west and another 599m/964kms north before we would reach our destination. We would be driving through some of Australia’s harshest and least populated land and stopping at a destination which boasted about all its dangers! 33 Tips on Dangers in Darwin  (Top 10 things that can kill you in Australia)

Mackay, QLD to Darwin, NT

Mackay, QLD. to Darwin, NT.

When setting out on this type of dangerous journey it is essential you have a reliable car, food and lots of water! We were traveling off the grid into vast areas with no electricity, fuel or mobile phone service and very few fellow travelers. To avoid as much danger as possible we had the car serviced, ensuring the spare tire was adequate and all systems were working properly. After loading up the cooler we bravely headed into the desolate Outback. Not wanting to take any chances we had carefully studied and mapped out our route. Running out of gas/petrol would have been a disaster! Because of the remoteness, we found ourselves paying $2.06 per liter which equates to $7.79 per gallon, for gasoline along the way. Did I mention it could be dangerous on the wallet as well?

For two days we drove on roads blistered by the heat, with the occasional head jarring ‘whoopdy’ as we bounced on the mini roller coaster made by flood damaged sunken culverts. It’s hard to believe this dry area, bare of vegetation, would ever have flood waters! We drove past creek after creek, dry and dusty, only identifiable by the sign posts giving them names. The danger of being caught in a flash flood was real, only so much water could be absorbed into the dry, rock hard land! The outside temperature gauge read 42 degrees Celsius or 107 Fahrenheit! If our car had broken down, the danger of dying from heat stroke or dehydration would have been a real possibility! Don’t ever leave the car when stuck in the outback!

We forged on, passing through random small towns advertising dinosaurs, flying doctors, livestock and mines, however, being populated by very few people. It’s fascinating to see the extreme measures that are necessary to live in this harsh, isolated, dangerous land, yet, humans insist on living there! The buildings were obviously lived in ~ so the people must have been somewhere.Livestock Road Train Road_Train_Australia

Very few vehicles passed us during the drive and the majority of these were Road Trains; huge trucks pulling 3 or more trailers and can be up to 53.5 meters–174 feet long, some even double decker—hauling cattle.

“Keep your eyes on the road Lynne, this is dangerous!” I nervously instructed while she was overtaking these road hogs. We tried not to stay behind the ones with livestock for too long; the potential for a very messy windshield was far too great! The novelty of the lack luster landscape wore off after the first few hours so we tried to entertain ourselves with a game of ‘spot the’ but all we spotted were carcasses and lots of them! We had avoided traveling at dawn and dusk for this very reason, too many hopping kangaroos made it very dangerous! Poor kangaroos didn’t stand a chance against big heavy vehicles and if you were in a small car, I think, sadly, both would lose.

Day three was filled with excitement from the get go! We saw foliage on the horizon and we dodged living kangaroos and an emu. Despite all the danger, we could see beauty in this ancient terrain in the way the colors of red earth and pale green vegetation played against the cobalt blue sky and occasional white puffy cloud. In some areas we were 200 meters (656 feet) or less above sea level and it was easy to believe that Australian was indeed, the flattest continent on earth! The danger seemed to be diminishing slightly.

In the early hours of our drive we came upon a temporary muster station; 1500 head of cattle had spent the night resting by the side of the road and were being readied to set off for a day of grazing. Thrilled with this discovery we pulled over for a closer look. A line of cattle dogs had been tied to a nearby fence, which also served as a makeshift clothes line and was draped in numerous pairs of blue jeans. The attentive puppies’ eagerness was apparent as they jumped and yipped, wanting to be released. Surveying the camp we noticed a man winding up the electric fence that had kept the livestock contained during the night. He welcomed us for a chat, introducing himself as ‘Matey’! How’s that for a proper Aussie name mate?

Matey TaylorMatey Taylor was the lead drover; in charge of keeping the cattle alive for a week while waiting for the road trains to arrive that would deliver them to an auction. His station at Camooweal, QLD. had been stripped bare of all food and they were forced to graze the side of the highway. As his name would indicate he was friendly and consequently up for a chat! Matey had us chuckling when he told us about the two German women he had helping him. He only had three ‘Jackaroos’ (Australian cowboys), which included the two ladies on horseback, (they would be ‘Jillaroos’) and a young boy on a motorcycle. Unfortunately the dogs would be riding in the truck; according to Matey it was far too hot and dangerous for them! With no water available they also traveled with a semi-truck hauling a massive water tank, which they managed to drain daily.

German Jillaroo

Matey told us, “Those girls told me they could ride but, you can’t put them on just any horse, too dangerous!” He explained, “They have a bit of trouble controlling them and if they get hurt we are a long way from help and they’re very far from home. It’s a big job for me watching out for them!”

He went on to tell us a story of one of the girls coming in one evening complaining how her legs were sore and hurting, so he told her, “Here—take this spoonful of concrete —and harden up!”

He laughed at his cleverness and so did we! On our way out we noticed one of the girls having trouble with her powerful steed, we lingered and I had the video camera ready for a ‘Funniest Video’ moment, but, she was able to gain control after a few wild circular spins. Disappointing!

More danger on the road once again as we carefully negotiated around wild girls on horses and 1500 head of cattle!
Small NT Termite MoundHours down the road, the landscape greened up even more, and anthills started to pop up like tombstones. They could very well have been the tombstones of travelers not so lucky during their outback crossing! Our backdrop was becoming tropical and the temperature even fell a few degrees. Danger peeked around every little shrub as wallabies and kangaroos decided to travel during all hours of the day!

Reaching the end of our westward journey, we took a right turn at Three Ways, NT and headed due north to Mataranka, and the Elsey National Park, with soothing thermal pools, refreshing swimming holes, the Roper River and spectacular waterfalls. With the new danger of snakes, bats and insects on the increase, it was nonetheless, an astonishing contrast, breaking through the desert into this lush tropical paradise. We soaked up the healing energies of the warm water and dined in the local pub, very grateful we did not have to make this journey on horseback and have a spoonful of concrete for dinner.

We are now in Darwin, settling into the hot, humid, dangerous conditions derived from being so close to the equator. Wish us luck, for it is a rugged dangerous lifestyle. A lifestyle we will eagerly embrace. We’ll keep our spoonful of concrete handy – we just might need it after all!

snapshots from the road

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Travel On! Join us as we travel into the unknown.

¸.•♥ In-ƤЄƛƇЄ ~ ԼƠƔЄ ~ ԼIƓHƮ & ԼƛUgHƮЄr ☮ ♥ ★ ツ *。.☆

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Quest for the Elusive Platypus

All the signs are there ...The Quest Begins!

All the signs are there …The Quest Begins!

Knowing an early start was needed to increase our chances for a platypus sighting, the alarm woke us at 5am! All my research indicated dawn and dusk were the best times to see this incredibly shy mammal. Above the surrounding sugarcane planted fields lay our destination, Eungella National Park, Queensland. We climbed high up into the cloud-shrouded mountain range. The steep road wound up through a mossy, dense subtropical rain forest filled with eucalyptus and huge palm ferns.

Platypus SpottingBroken River is a popular place for platypus spotting and we arrived early, very early we thought, it was only 7:30am! Early! Only a few people were gathered at the platypus viewing platform. No one had seen any platypus—yet. We all stood at attention, still, quiet, searching the water almost breathlessly. In these beautiful surroundings it felt like we were in a spiritual space, a sacred site. Turtles, an eel and many duck-billed ducks were easily spotted. Suddenly gasps were heard, fingers pointed and excited energy ran through our small gathering—Awww—it was only a river rat. No bill, webbed feet or floppy tail.

Heading to the PoolsWe were vigilant, but to no avail. We explored the nearby waterways, running into fellow platypus seekers who had luck no better than ours. One man looked at his watch, “You’re too late”, he declared confidently. The sign said best morning viewing was from 4am to 8am and it was after eight by then. Feeling extreme disappointment we resigned ourselves to filling our day with other activities and returning between 3pm and 7pm for the prime evening viewing. We slunk to our car and drove off.

Global Wanderers once posted something about talking to the locals. What were we thinking giving up so soon? That’s not like us! Still shrouded in doubt as thick as the clouds enveloping this mountain we stepped into the local ‘Shop at the Top’.

Seeing our disappointment, Terry said emphatically, “Don’t believe what they say about not seeing them in the day, you can see them anytime”, and he proceeded to tell us about his secret spot.

Our clouds of doubt blown away; filled with new optimism and a spring in our step we turned back.

Hiking through the forest, alongside the river, we soon spotted the crop of rocks creating the small open pool Terry had told us about. We walked along its edge, found the perfect spot to scan the entire pool and stood motionless. Within minutes we saw a tiny steam of bubbles emerging from the bottom of the still water, followed by another and another! This is what we were looking for! Suddenly, gliding up to the surface so smoothly and quietly, barely noticeable, our platypus popped up! Had we not been so vigilant we could have easily missed it. Hooray! It was all I could do to silence my excitement! We had done it! With eyes bugged out and my smile wrapped from ear to ear, the platypus and I—BOTH silly looking critters!

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We observed at least two platypuses, (or platypi), bubbling and bobbing to the surface. After floating for only a few seconds, they would quickly duck-dive back down to feed on the bottom of the pool, leaving us scanning the surface again for more bubbles. Because of their ability to stay submerged for ten to twenty minutes at a time we continued our observation for over two hours, no one else in sight; this was our special treat alone! Grateful to our new friend, Terry, for igniting our persistence; we left fully satisfied. Our platypus quest complete, it must be time to leave Mackay!

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Travel On! Join us as we travel into the unknown.

¸.•♥ In-ƤЄƛƇЄ ~ ԼƠƔЄ ~ ԼIƓHƮ & ԼƛUgHƮЄr ☮ ♥ ★ ツ *。.☆

 

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Discovering Queensland’s Sugarcane Country

Lynne & Liz trying the sugarcane.

Lynne & Liz trying the sugarcane.

Discovering and exploring the source of local economy can be an exciting adventure for any traveler. In Mackay, sugarcane and coal are the major sources of income and employment. As luck would have it, friends of ours, Malina and Pete, own a sugarcane farm, so, off we went with great excitement to get an up-close look at a working sugarcane farm! This adventure came with the added possibility of a platypus sighting in a nearby creek, which sweetened the deal beyond cane farming alone.

Pete Takagaki cleaning cane to taste.Dotted with individual family farm houses, the fields stretched out before us, tiered in layers representing the various stages of sugarcane growth. We reached the Takagaki family farm which has been passed down through four generations. Pete’s grandfather acquired the farm after emigrating from Japan in 1901. Although the farmers are now required to work outside the farm to supplement their income, the sugarcane provides for the land, the equipment and their basic needs. I couldn’t help but admire their love and dedication to a lifestyle that required more to sustain them than it could give. On arrival our host pulled out a pocket knife, cut a large stalk, carved its sides away and handed Lynne and me each a piece. Sinking our teeth into a stalk of this sweet fibrous sensation was a juicy delight.  Harvester

Clouds of white herons followed closely behind a tractor that was turning up the soil. This field would be allowed to sit fallow for a year after having given five seasons of abundant yields. I couldn’t resist and climbed up into the cab for a ‘once around’. The herons, now joined by hawks, dove behind us scooping up the insects that were being exposed. Continuing on our exploration we followed alongside a harvester; a powerful, multifunctional, Transformer-ish machine, being driven down the rows, chopping, separating and collecting the stalks of cane while simultaneously spitting out the scraps. The chopped stalks were discharged into a clever contraption pulled by a tractor. These tractors appeared alongside the harvester in smooth procession, with hardly a break.

They would deliver the cane, in their clever contraptions to a cane train and return, again and again. In the distance, steam rose from the Racecourse Mill’s boilers; the cane’s final destination. Approximately 400,000 tons of refined white sugar is produced here annually. The ingenuity of mankind was brilliantly on display, as a task that at one time broke that backs of hundreds of laborers has been transformed to a process accomplished by a few drivers.

Bandicoot

The herons and hawks were also in abundance for this operation, but, something else caught our eye.  It was a bandicoot running for its life! Trying to escape the jaws of the harvester, the little bandicoot scurried across the newly flattened terrain looking for cover. I screamed with excitement “A BANDICOOT!” I had never seen one so close. I had only ever seen a bandicoot once and at such a distance it was the size of a peanut, “that doesn’t even count”, I explained.  With that, barefooted Pete jumped out of the truck in an act reminiscent of The Crocodile Hunter, chased after the little critter and snatched it up. We were able to get a good look at this terrestrial marsupial omnivore, and give it a loving pat. I’m sure it would have bitten and scratched me to bits if given half the chance but, thankfully Pete held on tight.

Touring the farm-house and surrounding buildings we noticed how simple this existence seemed. It had been an eventful day out, filled with insights into a way of life that is rapidly fading. These pieces of land, cultivated by the same families for generations, require a love for the earth and an understanding of nature. Mal and Pete embrace the simple pleasures of life on a farm which, despite having to find additional work, affords them the time between harvests to travel the country in their caravan. During their journeys they have seen a variety of lifestyles but, in the end, they always return to the farm. We now understand more fully that when supplementing our food or drink, within the little granules there is much more than just sweetness, the sugar holds the dreams and hard work of generations of very sweet people! We hope that after reading this you will think of and appreciate the farmers who bring you that small spoonful of sugar, satisfying your sweet tooth.

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PS … I was grateful for the bandicoot sighting because despite our searching the creek, we had no luck finding a platypus. ~ Awwww!

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Travel On! Join us as we travel into the unknown.

¸.•♥ In-ƤЄƛƇЄ ~ ԼƠƔЄ ~ ԼIƓHƮ & ԼƛUgHƮЄr ☮ ♥ ★ ツ *。.☆

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The Land ‘Down Under’!

Australia's Got TalentThe name Australia comes from the Latin word, ‘Australis’ meaning ‘southern’. As the name would indicate we are now in the southern hemisphere, where the water goes down the drain backwards* and cars are driven on the left side of the road. Feeling flipped over, upside down and backwards we hit the ground running!

On the list of necessities for any traveler is accommodation, transportation and communication. Fortunately during our first month in Australia, family and friends opened their homes providing us with beds, couches and even a camper, parked in a front yard. After visiting a few used car dealerships, with no luck, we spotted a Subaru Outback for sale on the side of the road. An Outback in the outback, brilliant! With the first two essentials crossed off our list we easily acquired a mobile phone and a portable wi-fi device, we were all set to begin our Aussie adventure!

Huge Aussie Prawns

Of course food is also an important necessity and we were both devouring some of the best seafood in the world! Not to mention the Aussie meat pies and other culinary wonders only found in Australia like the thick, yeasty Vegemite and the yummy sweet desserts; pavlova and lamingtons.

After we arrived in Sydney, we had no plans of what to do or where to go but, family and friends lived along the coast further north so this seemed to be our next logical step. All the while we kept our eyes and minds searching for whatever presented itself as a guide towards the future. Trusting in the journey is a skill Lynne and I have fine-tuned during our world travels. Looking for synchronicities and whatever shows up in our proverbial headlights, is how we roll!

Kangaroo MaleThe koala, kangaroo, emu, kookaburra and platypus are all animals found in no other country than Australia and in the first few weeks of our adventure we saw them all. Except that is, for the elusive platypus! When the early explorers first revealed this unique semi-aquatic monotreme, (mammal that lay eggs), to the world, it was thought to be a joke—Aussies having a go at the English by sewing a duck bill onto a rat—but it turned out to be authentic! The search for a platypus seemed like a lofty goal and a good reason to head further North, in the direction of their habitat. Well, that and a job offer for Lynne in Mackay, Queensland, which could help fund our expedition. Lynne’s brother, Peter, and his family also live up north in Mackay which cemented the platypus idea, that was ‘showing up’ as to how we should proceed.

Spy HoppingOff we went, driving north from New South Wales to Queensland. As luck would have it, whale season along the east coast was in full swing, (July through October). We stopped in to visit some longtime friends who live near Brisbane and were treated to an ocean adventure in their boat, to search of Humpbacks! It was a phenomenal success and not only did we spot over a dozen whales splashing, breaching, spy hoping, tail wagging and flipper flapping, we also saw a huge sea turtle and a heap of flying fish! We had been on whale watching charters before but nothing can compare to this smaller boat which afforded us an up close and personal encounter, on the same level as these majestic beings!

We now find ourselves in Mackay; sugarcane and coal mining country. We have moved into a fully furnished studio unit at the Ocean Resort Village (not as flash as it sounds). We seem to have it all, tropical gardens, swimming pool, air-conditioning, cable TV and wi-fi, all this and beach front access to boot! What we don’t have, however, is a platypus sighting! Not yet anyway! Bless Lynne’s heart for working, but, it seriously cuts into our platypus discovery time! Rest assured, we will find our platypus and moving towards this end, we are certain to discover additional adventures here in northeast Queensland!

Some interesting facts about Australia:

The Australian Coat of Arms has a kangaroo and an emu on it. The reason being they can’t go backwards, they can only walk/hop forward, similar to the country’s forward movement into the future.

Most of Australia’s exotic flora and fauna cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Australia is known as the ‘island continent’ and is the only continent on earth to be occupied by one nation. It is also the flattest continent in the world.

Some of Australia’s most prolific inventions are the bionic ear, black box flight recorder, clothes line, notepad and stubby (beer) holder.

The land masses of Australia and the United States America are comparable, however, their estimated populations are not. The United States of America has approximately 313 million people, while Australia has approximately 23 million, 90% of whom live on the coast.

*You find both counterclockwise and clockwise flowing drains in both hemispheres. Some people would like you to believe that the Coriolis force affects the flow of water down the drain in sinks, bathtubs, or toilet bowls but, it’s not true! The Coriolis force is simply too weak to affect such small bodies of water. The Coriolis Effect is the observed curved path of moving objects relative to the surface of the Earth. Hurricanes however, are affected. Hurricane winds move counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere.

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Travel On! Join us as we travel into the unknown.

¸.•♥ In-ƤЄƛƇЄ ~ ԼƠƔЄ ~ ԼIƓHƮ & ԼƛUgHƮЄr ☮ ♥ ★ ツ *。.☆

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Oh Lawd, these Cajuns sure know how to throw a party!

Oh Lawd, these Cajuns sure know how to throw a party!

Yummm!

We met up with them there Cajuns riverside, at the Bywater in Asheville, NC, USA, a unique private club with a magnificent view of the French Broad River. The crawfish were ALIVE and ready for boiling—in a pot made from an old beer keg! John Frederic, who delivered the fresh crawfish, had us all laughing as he shared humorous tales of life in the bayou. Steamy nights, cold beer, crawfish and silly Cajuns playing tricks on each other go hand in hand. Apparently you can do a lot more with crawfish then just eat um! With his rich accent our focused attention was required.

Let me have a go at recounting the process involved in a crawfish boil.

“Tak ya pirogue down de bayou a ways an catch yosef bout tirty pounds o dem crawfish.  Den tak dem crawfish an tro dem in yo pot. Den add a box of rock salt. Let dem soak for bout a bit. While dem crawfish is purgin, start yur boil pot on de cook fire. Tro in de spice, de whole onion, de corn an’ de new potatoes an’ let dem boil. Den tro in de crawfish wid two box rock salt, tree or two cut lemon, mo spice an de cayenne pepper. Let all dat boil up real good. Put dat ole newspaper on de table and warm de bread. When de crawfish is done, pour out da water. Den dump out de crawfish on de table an set out de bread. Den set down fo a Cajun feest!”

Cajun-John-Frederic As delicious as those crawfish were, we still made room in our bellies for the shrimp jambalaya, red beans and rice, and stewed peas. It was a good ol’ downhome experience we will never forget! Life in the Deep South doesn’t get much better!

Sending out a big THANKS to Teau and the gang at Teaufood Culinary Busking for providing this fantastic experience!

Teaufood Culinary Busking is simply food talent for tips. They do Teau & Susannot charge for their service; they just want to feed you!

Crawfish Boil: To see exactly how it is done Cajun style.

We found a fantastic Jambalaya Recipe and “Crawfish Boil” music video for your next Cajun night!

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Crawfish fun Teaufood style. Click on image for details.

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Travel On! Join us as we travel into the unknown.

¸.•♥ In-ƤЄƛƇЄ ~ ԼƠƔЄ ~ ԼIƓHƮ & ԼƛUgHƮЄr ☮ ♥ ★ ツ *。.☆

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