Sunday, 31 August 2014

Travel Diary - Part 6

After so many early mornings on this trip
it was absolute bliss to be able to have a lie in this morning!

Early this afternoon we toured Kata Tjuta (the Olgas).
 Kata Tjuta consists of a number of domes (or rocks), the tallest of which is slightly higher than Uluru.
Kata Tjuta

We all walked along the Valley of Kings track to Lookout 1
where we were given the choice of continuing on to Lookout 2
or travelling 5 minutes down the road to a walk into Walpa Gorge.

Valley of Kings

Some of the people continued along the track while we took the second option.

Walpa Gorge was along a rocky path between two of the domes.  What surprised us was the amount of green vegetation including some trees and a small waterhole at the far end.  I guess it was fairly sheltered and when it rained would have a reasonable amount of run-off.  Of course, it probably isn't green like this as it gets into summer.

Walpa Gorge

It was pleasantly cool in the gorge too as the middle of the day was quite warm.

We returned back to the coach, picked up the people who were back at Valley of Kings, and were taken to the sunset viewing area for ...... yes, champagne and nibblies again!

The colours of Kata Tjuta as the sun set were just beautiful.  It went from being brown to a beautiful red/rust glow before the shadows came across and it got darker.

The colours of Kata Tjuta at sunset
As we drove back to the Resort, the setting sun left a beautiful yellow glow in the sky, simply gorgeous!!!

The following morning we packed our bags, left them at reception and went for a wander around Town Square.  This square has a coffee/sandwich shop, Geckos restaurant, Ayers Wok (noodle bar), souvenier shops, a newsagent, post-office, supermarket and booking office for tours.

Native Flowers

Native Flowers

There were a number of native flowers in bloom around the resort but unfortunately I don't know what species they were.
This afternoon we bid farewell to Uluru and were on a flight to Cairns in North Queensland.
So far, our travels have seen us leave New South Wales, travel through South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory and now Queensland!

If you are still following my travels, tomorrow the scenery will be very different and will be the final leg of our adventures.

See you soon!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Travel Diary - Part 5

All aboard "Trevor"
yes, after a good night's sleep we were up early (brrrrr ... 3 degrees) for our 
Sunrise Camel Tour.
After some basic instructions, we climbed onto "Trevor",
our camel for the next hour.  After walking for a little while we came up a rise to look across to Uluru just as the sun rose.

Our camel train
Our cameleers were very informative and obviously love their job.  
A little further on, Kata Jtuta (The Olgas) came into view.

A very welcome hot cuppa and freshly baked beer bread was awaiting us on our return.  Not only were my hands frozen, but so were my toes.  We then met two baby camels who were orphaned and were being looked after until they were old enough to be released back into the wild.
"Milkshake" was so lovely and soft and kept licking my hands that must have had a bit of jam or honey left on them from the beer bread.  She was like a big puppy!


The remainder of our day was free so we went exploring the Resort where we were staying.  The resort is made up of different accommodation : 
"Sails in the Desert" (very expensive)
"Desert Gardens" (less expensive & where we stayed)
the "camping ground" (cheap - tents or vans)
"Pioneer Way" (budget rooms)

All the different accommodations are located along the same road that circles around.  It is very easy walking or if you prefer a shuttle bus goes around every 15 minutes.

While walking through "Sails in the Desert" we came across a
'Sturt's Desert Pea' growing in the garden.  I've never seen one growing before and it was quite spectacular.  My only surprise was that it is a ground cover and I expected something taller.

Sturt's Desert Pea

 After a relaxing day, we were picked up at 5.20pm for our "Sounds of Silence" dinner.  This started off with champagne and nibblies while watching the sun set on Uluru.  We were then led along a path where a number of tables were laid for dinner - very nice!!

 Uluru Sunset

We were the 'locals' at our table, as the other people consisted of a young couple on their honeymoon from the USA, a family of four from France and two ladies from Italy.  
We were waited on by very attentive waiters,  the food was very yummy, and consisted of crocodile and kangaroo (I tried a little bit of each) along with chicken, lamb & fish, 
and a variety of salads and vegetables. 

While we ate our main course, we were entertained by some aboriginal dancers and another playing the didgeridoo.

After our main course, we had an astronomy/astrology talk which was quite interesting, and because we were in the middle of nowhere and absolute darkness, the stars were just so bright AND we could see the Milky Way all the way from one horizon to the other - just brilliant!!!

We then finished dinner with dessert, coffee & port,
and then returned to our resort.

This was a really lovely night and we were so glad we had done it.

The following morning was an even earlier start as we set off on our Uluru Sunrise Walk.  It was very brisk as we stood on the viewing platform waiting for the first rays of sun to touch the contours of the rock.  Soon we were back on the coach heading to the base of the rock and our walk.  As we walked our guide told different Aboriginal stories that have been handed down for many generations.  

Uluru Sunrise
We were then taken to a Cultural Centre and then continued on for another walk on the other side of Uluru.  It is still possible to climb the rock but it is very high and steep in parts and the only thing to aid you as you climb is a chain - no thank you!

Climbing Uluru

Our next encounter with Uluru was later in the day when we returned for a Sunset Tour.  Again we were treated to champagne and nibblies as we waited and watched the colours change as the sun went down.  Once the sun is gone, it is not long until darkness descends.

Tomorrow, Kata Tjuta!

See you soon.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Travel Diary - Part 4

For those still with me on my travels,
I'm writing this diary so I can go back and remember the lovely 
holiday my husband and I have just enjoyed!

Friday, our last full day in Perth, so we walked down to the jetty again
and boarded the ferry to Rottnest Island.   The ferry didn't have terribly many people on board, until it stopped at Fremantle, and then they just kept on coming!!!

Rottnest Island
Once there we joined a mini bus tour of the island as it is quite a distance.  The main way of getting around is bicycle (and there are lots of them) with the only vehicles allowed are a couple of mini buses and service cars.

We were all quite excited when we saw our first quokka, but once you start looking around, they aren't hard to find.  These cute little marsupials were once thought to be big rats hence how the island got its name.  They are far too cute to be rats though!


Some had babies in their pouches and we came across one baby who was out of the pouch hopping around with his mum 
(until a stupid tourist who was totally oblivious, startled him and he quickly went and hid
 - tourists, who'd have them?)

The coastline around the island is quite spectacular with little sandy beaches accessible only by boat. We came across a number of different species of birds including one little robin (?) whose front was sort of a flourescent orange colour - very pretty.

After some lunch we went walking to Kingstown which had been used as army barracks in the time of WWII for defence.  I'm not sure if all the buildings are still in use but they are very well maintained.

I think Rottnest Island was one of my favourite places in Perth and I would love to spend some more time there.  There is accommodation but I would guess you would have to book it some time in advance.  
Our return ferry left the pier at 4.25pm and nearly everyone disembarked at Fremantle.  We soon realised so should we have, as the next stop was at the end of the container terminal across the river.  We wrongly assumed the ferry would take us back into Perth where we started, oops!!!
There were a number of people there with luggage waiting for ??? , so we went to the enquiries counter where they very kindly booked a taxi for us.  Since it was getting late in the afternoon, we ended up going all the way back to our hotel in Perth.  Oh well, all part of the adventure!

  The following morning we had an hour to fill in before leaving for the airport, so we walked down towards the river again but turned in the opposite direction walking through parkland past a couple of man-made lakes and then made our way back to our hotel.

Our flight left Perth at 12.15pm bound for Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.  Allowing for time zones, we arrived around 4.15pm, booked into our hotel, and then went for a walk around town before dark.   Dinner and then an early night as we had an early pick up the following morning.

Our coach picked us up at 6.40am and headed to our next destination, Uluru (Ayers Rock),, travelling through very scrubby country with dry river beds and lowish mountains.  We stopped for morning tea at a camel farm before continuing on our way.  
We stopped for a photo of Mt Connor which is often mistaken for Uluru. 
The bushes in the foreground were full of little finches.

Mt Connor
We finally arrived at Ayers Rock Resort and our 'room with a view'.
It was lovely to have a wander around with time to just relax and enjoy the view.

Our view of Uluru from our hotel balcony

I think that is enough for today, so join me again tomorrow for our adventures in the dessert.

See you soon!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Travel Diary - Part 3

I guess if you are still reading this 
then I haven't bored you too much, LOL!!!

Day 2 of our tour, our first stop was in the township of Margaret River with half an hour or so to wander around the shops, then we continued south past more vineyards and forests stopping at the Mammoth Cave for a short guided tour.

 Entrance to Mammoth Cave

We continued on arriving at Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse for a delicious lunch.  It was very windy and a bit cool but is also where the Indian Ocean & Southern Oceans meet.

After lunch we followed the coast a short distance, stopped at yet another winery and continued to Pemberton where we looked at the Gloucester Tree.  In the early days of settlement they picked the tallest tree on top of a hill and put a lookout at the top to look for bushfires etc.  Steel pegs are inserted into and around the tree all the way to be top, not something I have any desire to climb!

Adventurous Hubby

 That night we stayed at the Karri Valley Resort on the shores of Lake Beedelup
(couldn't get any closer to the lake than this)

The next morning we went to see the Beedelup Falls which were on the other side of the lake and walked across the wobbly suspension bridge.

Back on the coach through Pemberton again followed by a tram ride along an old logging track, across creeks with a stop at some cascades.

By mid afternoon we have arrived at the Valley of Giants, a forest of huge Tingle trees, some of which have such enormous trunks you can walk through them.  Here there was a treetop walk, which at its highest was 40 metres off the ground.  

After saying farewell to 5 of our fellow travellers who were transferring to another coach, we made our way to Albany for the night, which up until not so many years ago had once been a whaling port.  The whaling station is now a museum but unfortunately we didn't have time to visit.

At Albany we looked at the Natural Bridge, a bit cold and blowing a gale, then the ANZAC Memorial overlooking the city of Albany.
Back on the coach and headed east to the Stirling Ranges and Bluff Knoll with views forever.
The scenery on the other side of the ranges changed dramatically into flat plains where wheat and canola is grown, looking a bit like a patchwork quilt.
We finally reached the small town of Hyden where we walked under and on top off Wave Rock.  Our coach then made it's way back to Perth and end of our tour.

I'll be back tomorrow with our adventures on Rottnest Island.


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Travel Diary - part 2

And so on to the next part of our adventure .....

We left our hotel this morning (Sunday) for a 10 minute walk down to jetty 3 to embark on our
Swan River Wine Cruise.  Our captain gave a very good commentary pointing out various landmarks along the river and slowed down when we saw some bottlenosed dolphins frolicking next to the boat, including a young one.  
She pointed out 'mum, dad and the kids' going for a paddle
 (ducks, that is, and the baby ones were like little fluff balls).

It was lovely to see so much parkland on both sides of the river, mostly accessible by paths and roads, and lots of people enjoying fishing or bike riding or just sitting enjoying the quiet.
There are homes along the river as well, but not too many.

Of course as this was a 'wine cruise' we got to sample a number of different whites and reds, along with a cheese & biscuit platter each.
We arrived at Sandelford's Winery for a guided tour on how the wines are made and matured, followed by a lovely lunch, which included more wine to sample and a glass of our choice.  By the time we left and got back on the boat I felt I wouldn't need to eat for another week! 

 Some very old vines in the garden of the winery

On the way back, the bar was open for yet more wine 
or a cup of tea or coffee along with cake.
One of the crew members decided we were all too quiet, so put some music on and entertained us very nicely by his singing, only finishing as we arrived back at the jetty to disembark.

After a good night's sleep, we were picked up at the hotel at 7.20am for our 4 day tour of the south west region of the state.  Our first stop was morning tea at Bunbury where we enjoyed watching dolphins playing in the bay.   From there we followed the coast south through Busselton past vineyards, market gardens and farms, stopping at the Bootleg Brewery for lunch, where we got to sample some beer.  I don't particularly like beer but decided to try some anyway, and was surprised that the first couple I tried actually weren't too bad.  They also made a cider which was quite nice.

After lunch we visited another winery which just happened to be Sandelford's Winery!  Most of their grapes are grown here in the Margaret River region and transported to the Swan River winery for processing and making into wine.

Down the road we stopped at the Margaret River Chocolate Co. which smelled absolutely divine ..... mmmm, and around the corner the Providore shop to sample jams, sauces, relishes ... so yummy!

We continued from there along the coast stopping at Canal Rocks for a cuppa and wander around before making our way back to Busselton for our overnight stay.

Canal Rocks
Busselton is known for its 1.8km pier.  A couple of people on our coach walked all the way to the end but most only went a short distance along.  From here we watched the sun set over the Indian Ocean.  Perfect end to a lovely day!

Busselton Pier

Hope you are enjoying my travel diary - if so, join me again tomorrow as the adventure continues.

See you soon!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Did you miss me?

Yes, I'm back in blogland!!

My DH and I have just enjoyed a lovely three week holiday
to parts of Australia we had never visited before.

We set off on Wednesday, 6th August
departing from Central Station at 3.10pm to the start of our adventure
on the Indian Pacific train.

The interior of this train is quite luxurious, and as soon as we stepped on
we were treated to champagne in the lounge car.
Not long after we were shown our cabin and the train pulled out of the station bound for the other side of the country.

Lounge Car
We were treated to three sumptious meals each day in the dining car -
mmmmm ....... I could get used to this lifestyle!

Our first official stop was Broken Hill which is a mining town
in the far west of New South Wales.  We were up at sunrise for a guided tour around the town followed by the view from the top of Broken Earth, quite an interesting memorial to the men who have died at the mine over the years.

View over Broken Hill including Indian Pacific train

Leaving Broken Hill the landscape is very flat, with red earth and low growing plants
and the occasional emu.

Our next stop at 3pm was Adelaide in South Australia and here we joined a guided tour of the city, stretching our legs for a while in Glenelg, a seaside suburb.  By 6.30pm we were back on the Indian Pacific bound for the Nullabor Plain.

We woke the following morning to a totally different landscape of red earth, salt bush and low scrub, and totally flat as far as the eye can see to the horizon in all directions.  Mid morning the train had a brief stop at Cook, where supplies and mail are dropped off.  This is largely a ghost town with a population of 4 people and a dog, but had once had a school, small hospital and even boasted a swimming pool which must have been very welcome in the hot summer.

  Our last official stop was in Kalgoorlie, another mining town on the Nullabor.  Kalgoorlie is well known for the 'Super Pit', an open cut mine which is simply ENORMOUS!  Unfortunately we arrived after dark and it was hard to visualize exactly how big this Super Pit is, but we could see the trucks making their way down the sides of the mine to pick up their loads of ore.

These trucks are huge with a ladder climbing up the front to get to the cabin, even standing next to the wheels makes you feel very small!  Back on the train again and into the night we travel.

Our first glimpse of the landscape this morning is very different as we are in the countryside with hills and creeks, paddocks and trees on the approach to Perth.

We arrived in Perth at 9.10am on Saturday, 9th August. We collected our luggage and hopped onto a coach for an overview of Perth.  Our driver showed us around the city, with a brief stop at Kings Park which has fabulous views of the Swan River and the city of Perth.

We then got to see our first glimpse of the Indian Ocean at Cottesloe Beach where we were able to stretch our legs and enjoy a coffee or icecream, and where we could see Rottnest Island in the distance.  We returned to the city past 'millionaire's row' (how the other half lives) and he dropped us at our hotel.  

Our room was on the 23rd floor with views over the river and city - very nice!!!

So you won't get totally bored by my travels, come back again tomorrow for the next leg of our adventure - the Swan River and four day tour of the south west of Western Australia.

See you soon!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Wishing you happiness

Over the next month or so, DS#2 has been invited to three weddings
and as two of them are quite soon
I thought I should make a start with them.

Before anything else, let me just say the 'dirty' looking marks under the
hearts and bow are shadow.
Oops, not such a good photo, sorry!

This card was actually made a while ago at a stamp-camp challenge
but as it is new and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it,
and I don't have much time this week, 
it was decided it would be perfectly acceptable for one of the weddings.
The hearts are punched with a SU triple heart punch,
and the words are SU "Heard from the Heart".
Card #2 is on an ivory base followed by a black mat and another ivory piece of card.
The embossed heart specialty paper was bought last year, prior to another wedding,
and with just a small bit of trimming, was a perfect fit.
A length of black satin ribbon with a bit of pleating and some pearls
is wrapped around the card.

Happy Crafting!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Look at the time!

The theme at Stampotique this week is
"Black 'n' White with a Pop of Colour"

This time it is the turn of the white "Rabbit" to the the star
and of course, he is always keeping an eye on the time!

I started with a white tag, stamped "Rabbit" directly onto it,
then splattered Dylusions 'black marble' and for even more splodges
used a terrific little stamp from SU 'French Foliage'.
Using Distress Ink 'black soot' I edged the tag and gently pounced the left over ink
on the sponge to grey up the tag.

Next I stamped "Rabbit" again onto white card, 
colouring only his jacket and watch,
fussy cut around him and glued him directly over the first image.

The words are hand written and popped onto dimensionals.
The tag is then matted onto black cardstock
with a black ribbon added.

I'm entering the tag in this weeks

Happy Crafting!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Hello Sunshine

Ooooh, August already!
How the year does fly past, especially when I've just made my first 10 Christmas cards in a class during the week - eeeek!!

This week, my dear mother-in-law asked if I could make a baby card
for her hairdresser who had a new grandson.

Since I don't own any specific baby stamps, I had a hunt around to see what would be appropriate and found this cute little chap in my Kaisercraft "Hello Sunshine" set.

First step - blue cardstock for a boy
Second step - computer generated sentiment
Third step - stamping and colouring this cute elephant on cardstock
Fourth step - mounting this on another piece of blue and putting it all together.

Fifth step - another computer generated sentiment with punched heart

I was quite happy with how this turned out as I don't often make baby cards
so I hope the hairdresser likes it.

Happy Crafting!