A week on the Peloponnese peninsula (circa 2005)

In 2005 I travelled to Europe for the first time, spending 6 weeks in Greece, 2 weeks in Italy, 6 weeks in England and 6 weeks in Spain. Following are some pics from my time on the Peloponnese peninsula where I spent a week with my (then) flatmate Amaya and her two brothers, Lorien and Elia.

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A typical mediterranean garden

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One of the many Peloponnese villages

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Surveying my domain

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Striking a pose

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Stunning sunsets at every turn

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The entrance tunnel for the races at Olympia – site of the original Olympics

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Imagine how imposing these columns must once have been…

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Site of the original Olympics

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Game of dominoes anyone?

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Museum at Corinth

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A distinctive 70s postcard vibe

Barefoot in Greece

Making friends with the locals

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Stray dogs of every description – all in amazingly good condition…

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… And ridiculously friendly toward barefoot visitors

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Also warm and loyal companions when a bed is hard to come by (PS unintentional product placement in background – I have not actually consumed a McDonald’s meal since 2001)

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Amaya and I embracing our inner children

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There’s nothing quite like a swing for pure joy

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Peloponnese crew from left to right: Elia Vecellio, Amaya Vecellio, yours truly, Lorien Vecellio

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Journalling is a way of life

Sequoia National Park, California

Sequoia National Park, with its majestic endangered trees (the last of their kind) was the third National Park in as many weeks to make me cry. In Yosemite and Zion, it was the mountainscapes that generated awe, presented to the park visitor in the most spectacular fashion, via carefully engineered entrance roads that brought you out of tunnels to breathtaking views. I literally had to stop the car on emerging from such tunnels to catch my breath (lest I drive off the cliff face into the valley below). Here, in Sequoia, it was some combination of the sheer size of the trees, along with their tragic history (the knowledge that these ancient giants were once prolific throughout California before the modernist imperative resulted in their mass deforestation – one more example of human greed arising from the myth of progress).

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A glimpse of the High Sierra through this fallen log at Moro Rock

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Steps leading up to Moro Rock

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The Parker Group – my first encounter. I cried like a baby when I got my hands on these beauties

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General Sherman (claimed to be the largest tree in the world)

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He’s a decent size

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I did a couple of short walks in the park and was blown away by the beauty of the place

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Giant specimens everywhere I looked

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The Senate – the American people would probably have more faith in their current government if these silent sentinels ran the country

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I think I’m in love

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So you get the picture…

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I love trees

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Lots and lots of beautiful trees

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A very different experience to hiking in the Australian bush

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Farewell Sequoia – you have a little piece of my heart

Back in the beautiful Blueys

I moved back to the Blue Mountains in July but broke my wrist hiking within the first month.

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I hiked out of the valley, meeting the ambos at my car – they were legends

Cast

Check out the weird shape the orthopod bent my arm into (and they wondered why my bone had moved from the original setting when the cast came off – sigh)

My phone was in my pocket at the time of the fall, so unfortunately it took a swim too, and because I hadn’t backed up, I lost all my photos from recent months. I think there’s a lesson there…

I will be getting a new phone soon so will write a longer post with more current photos then. But in the meantime, here are a few old faves from some hikes over the last couple of years.

Blackheath – Grose Valley

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Bridle Veil Falls

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One of many Grose Valley creek crossings (you wouldn’t want to break a wrist in this valley)

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Emerging out of Rodriguez Pass towards Evans Lookout

 

Katoomba – Jamison Valley

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Mt Solitary from the Golden Stairs

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Sleeping under the stars on Mt Solitary

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The Ruined Castle

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Scenic Skyway shadow with Mt Solitary in the background

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Those three rocks everyone comes to see

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I was lucky enough to spend a week at Varuna – The Writers’ House in 2015

Leura

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I’m voting yes for Marriage Equality

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One of many magical staircases into the valleys below

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Valley floor – Leura

Wentworth Falls

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Charles Darwin walk

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View of escarpment from Valley of the Waters

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National Pass

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View of Jamison Valley from National Pass

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Wentworth Falls

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Valley of the Waters

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Sunset from train

Sunset over Woodford from the train on my way home from work this week

Ok, I have to go teach Nineteen Eighty Four to some students.

Welcoming recommendations for entry level hikes in the Blue Mountains region until my arm regains its former strength.

The cast is off, so I’ll be hitting the trails again soon!

Booknboot xo

House sitting – meet the animals ๐Ÿพ

Currently reading: Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury

I have been back in Tasmania for almost two months now. I am loving this island and all it has to offer. It appears I may have found work, with what looks like a great company. I had my medical today and commence employment on May 1.

As I may have mentioned in my last post, I’m currently house sitting for my cousin Leith while she tours Vietnam with her family. In my care are 1 dog (Pepper), 2 cats (Molly and Henry) and 27 budgerigar (1 of whom is tame & is named Cinnamon). They form a very loving little menagerie and never cease to entertain. Here are a few candid snaps of them in various states of play:

Pepper

Henry

Pepper

Molly

Pepper

Cinnamon nibbling my ear

Molly having a snooze

Henry of the beautiful eyes

Cinnamon helping me study…

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I’ve been trying to find different places to take Pepper on her daily walks. The greater Launceston area has some fantastic trails. We took a stroll at Paper Beach, just out of Exeter one afternoon.

Off-lead and loving it

Paper Beach

I let her off the lead for a spell and she had a great time chasing wallabies and rabbits, but when she returned to me after one mad romp, completely covered in mud, I decided that freedom might have to be a ‘one time’ thing ๐Ÿ˜‰.

We also visited the Tailrace, a track along the Tamar which takes you from Riverside into Launceston, and which links to a whole network of trails along the North Esk, some of which I referred to in my posts from my Tas visit last May/June, which you can find here.

Pepper at the Tailrace

Tailrace to water’s edge

Tailrace boardwalk

I returned to the Tailrace with (aunty) Trish M a couple of days ago, who’d brought along (cousin) Kate’s dog Griff, and we meandered along to Stillwater, where we stopped for a coffee and a bite to eat.

Trish with the puppies in the Stillwater carpark

The Mill Providore and Gallery at Stillwater

Stillwater Restaurant – fantastic food & super dog friendly

The view from the gallery


Over the easter weekend, (other aunty) Trish A and I caught a flick together at the Star Theatre, a beautiful old art deco establishment which originally opened in 1937, falling into disrepair after changing hands in the early 70s following a three decade run. Three young gents have purchased the building with the intent to restore it to its former glory (you can read the Examiner article about the project here), and with most of its original fittings and fixtures still in place (if not fully intact), it’s going to be a beautiful example of architecture from the period.

Star Theatre – a glimpse of the building prior to renovation

They opened their doors to the public over the easter weekend with a number of screenings in the building as it currently stands, ahead of their planned refurbishment (we saw The Big Lebowski, a Coen Brothers cult classic), and will be officially opening the fully renovated premises as an independent cinema in November. For more information about the theatre, its history and its reappropriation, check out their website, here. It is going to be wonderful having an independent theatre as complement to the existing cinema here in Launceston.

In other adventures, I met my folks for lunch one afternoon at JJs, their favourite Longford bakery/cafe/restaurant. I went for a wander around town after the meal and came across a couple of lovely parks. 

Church park and gardens, Longford

Not sure which denomination this was, but a lovely sandstone building

Loved these heritage plaques, detailing the original function of the buildings in Longford’s main street

A couple of quick snaps of downtown Launceston:

The old Gasworks near City Park (now a restaurant)

The Quadrant Mall

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The Design Centre on Tamar St

 

The Conservatory – City Park

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Sunrise is pretty spectacular from where I’m currently staying…

Pepper pensively takes in the view

Some pictorial highlights from my first month back in Tasmania

Cataract Gorge

Duck Reach and First Basin

The view from the First Basin suspension bridge

  Wine tasting

Pinot shadow

Dalrymple Vineyard

Lunch at Piper’s Brook Vineyard

Harvest market

Every Saturday in Launceston’s Cimitiere St carpark (opposite Albert Hall)

Cradle Mountain

View from far side of Dove Lake

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Cradle with boathouse

Trish A photographing on Dove Lake circuit

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Berry eating birds

Visiting parents – in Legana and Miena

Grindlewald Swiss Village

Daily walk with Mum

Oddly manicured little outpost

Ben Lomond

Ben Lomond – Tassie’s second highest mountain

Mum and I went summit scrambling – choose your own adventure

House sitting for cousin Leith & fam

Cinnamon!

Cinnamon and Pepper, taking in the view

Henry getting some couch love

Tamar Wetlands

Wetlands Interpretation Centre

Glover Prize

Glover Prize held in Evandale over March long weekend

Lifesize sculpture of Glover

Checking out the artworks

Ben Lomond’s lunar landscape

The Blueys, Bondi and the coast road south

Current read: The High Mountains of Portugal – Yann Martel.

With peach season over, no work on offer at the uni, and my Dad’s white cell count running amok, I decided to head south to Tassie to spend time with the fam. I couldn’t leave NSW, of course, without visiting the Murphy/Davies clan in the Blue Mountains. While there, Frank, her eldest son Dylan, and I, took a day out in Bondi to visit her sister Katie, and catch up with another friend Cathy, from her uni days. I find Bondi a bit overcrowded for swimming, but the setting’s so beautiful, you can’t help but appreciate it’s iconic status. Let’s face it, when it comes to picturesque, Bondi always delivers:

Bondi scenes

Approaching Tamarama

Frank and Cathy were some mixture of perplexed, amused and inspired by Dylan’s gansta turn

Tamarama Beach – lovely spot for a quick dip

Frank and I also managed to both health-kick, and drink a sizeable quantity of alcohol during my visit. Life is good ๐Ÿ‘.

Top left: Peach pet rock, artwork courtesy of Miss Rubie. Top right: Frank and I made a batch of my Gran’s famous tomato relish. Bottom left: Homemade pesto, relish and hommus, as part of our raw food (apart from the relish) health kick. Bottom right: Peter coined the term beerpaigne in anticipation of the headaches we thought we’d have consuming champagne followed by beer.

Frank and I have been friends for well over a decade, yet have never really had a chance to do much travelling together. Her kids have grown up a little now though, so we left them with Peter and hit the coast for a three day roadtrip to Melbourne, from which point I took my car to Tassie on the ferry, and Frank caught the train back to the Blue Mountains. We decided to take the coast road rather than the Hume Hwy because I’d never driven the Victorian coastline, and the NSW south coast is stunning. 

On day one, we drove from Lawson to Batemans Bay, via Rubie’s new digs in Wollongong and a fleeting visit to the farm.

Morning walk at Surfside

This little dude’s seen better days

Day two saw us stopping at every conceivable south coast town for coffee, cheese, yoghurt, fudge, lunch… all the goodies ๐Ÿ‘.

View from Tilba.

After a massive twelve hours, we arrived in Yarram, where the chef at the hotel cooked us up a delicious veggie curry (recommended) and we shared a pretty ordinary bottle of bubbles (not so highly recommended), chased by a better tasting beer from the other hotel down the road.

Our accoms in Yarram

That’s right, we did a pub crawl of Yarram’s two (countem!) pubs, but by 10pm both establishments had called last drinks and closed their doors for the evening, so we had to resort to drinking our BYO Baileys in the hotel lounge.

We popped into Seaspray (Mum’s childhood playground) near Sale, a sweet little coastal community set somewhere along a 90km stretch of beach. The rips were hectic so I decided not to risk a swim on this rugged stretch of coast.

  On day three we drove to St Kilda via Port Albert, the windmill farm at Toora and Wilsons Prom.

Port Albert

The windmill farm at Toora, comprised of 12 turbines, has the combined capacity to power 6000 houses. Pretty impressive stuff…

Classy ladies getting their yoghurt on at Wilsons Prom

We parted ways at dawn and I am now making the most of the mild conditions that constitute a Tasmanian autumn. Looking out at the serene countryside it’s hard to believe that Cyclone Debbie has just wreaked havoc in so many other parts of the country. These here are crazy times.

Next up – some pics of Tas…

Farewell to Peach & Beach Life: The Farm Editionย 

My three months of working on the peach farm and living with Rubie and her family at Narrawallee Beach on the NSW South Coast has come to an end. Working six day weeks made it virtually impossible to find time to blog (and in the end, even to hike), but I thought I’d give you a glimpse of what farm life was like during my summer of peaches.

The first glimpse of the farm on the drive in.

The property consists of beautiful flats surrounded by ridges of lush Australian bush. The creek running through the property provides irrigation for the fruit and sustenance for the cows.

Loads of structures around the property from the farm’s various incarnations offer fantastic potential for possible farmstay accoms – though the owners have no plans for this kind of development in the immediate future.

 

Shenanigans in the shed – Rubie and Rob have a great working relationship – always up for a laugh. We’re loading the van here, as part of the morning routine.

More packing shed shenanigans – Rubie creates her own entertainment between sets with Willie, and Waylan and the boys ๐Ÿ˜œ.

Best fed cows in Australia ๐Ÿ‘.

Riding around the farm on the back of this truck invoked memories of childhood.

One of the many beautiful trees on the property. The south coast gets such great rainfall that everything grows abundant and green all summer long. Note the fruit bat in the centre of the shot. The peach farmer’s nemesis…

Gals digging the farm life.

“Millions of peaches, peaches for me…” Extensive netting protects the yield from birds, bats and other bandits.

Don’t mind if I do!

Some final scenes from the farm. Can you spot the tree with the barbed wire growing through it?

Not a bad place to spend a summer. Doesn’t get much better than this…

Murramarang National Park & Narrawallee Surrounds, South Coast NSW

I’ve been exploring as much of the local area as I can in my time away from the orchard. There’s so much to see; it’s a truly beautiful part of the world.

The bush track leading to Narrawallee beach

Shells at Narrawallee Inlet

Conjola Inlet

Conjola beach

Rubie and Bronwyn joined me on my latest adventure, hiking from Merry Beach to Pebbly Beach via Pretty Beach in the Murramarang National Park. We left a car at each end and hiked south with the receding tide, covering about 12 kms + swims over a leisurely five hour period.

Bronwyn and Rubie strolling Island beach


The sound of wave on stone at this beach was mesmerising

 

โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹Spent Christmas in the Blue Mountains & Ryde with Frank, Peter and the extended fam:

Christmas shenanigans with Frank & Pete

 

Flatrock beach, Bendalong

The Jillett Juniors (my bro and his fam) were down Sydney way for the New Year & drove down to Huskisson to join me for lunch on the NY public holiday.

The Jillett Juniors: Ollie, Steve, Sharon and Sam

Here’s to 2017! ๐Ÿพ๐ŸŽ‰