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26 April 2017 / leggypeggy

Meet Tink the Wombat—Derek’s successor

Tink the Wombat, Flinders Island

Tink almost snoozing

Just over a year ago, a video clip of Derek (or Derrick) the Wombat brought fame to Flinders Island, off the northeast coast of Australia’s state of Tasmania.

Guess what? Derek has grown up and moved into the bush. Teenage wombats can be quite aggressive. Nevertheless, he stops back at Kate Mooney’s rural home often and even lets himself in by the ‘dog’ door. April and May, two other orphaned wombats reared by Mooney, also drop by, but now Tink rules the house.

She—I think Tink is a she—in the latest resident at Mooney’s home, and we were lucky enough to go around to her place for lunch the other day.

Tink the Wombat

I knelt down to photograph Tink and she scurried over to create her own ‘cubby house’ between my calves

Tink craves human contact and immediately endeared herself to us, snuggling between our feet and legs, and even attacking Poor John’s feet. 

It was a real privilege to get to know this young beast and know that she’ll survive to rule the bush.

Mooney is often known as the Wombat Lady of Flinders Island. Her 40-hectare farm is a refuge for wombats that have lost their mothers, usually because they’ve been hit by a car. We were stunned to see how many wallabies and wombats on Flinders end up as roadkill on the island.

Thank goodness Mooney steps up to help some of them survive.

Here are two links to articles and videos about Derek and Mooney. You can find more on Google. You might also find a way to donate to Mooney’s efforts.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-09/derek-baby-wombat-bringing-tourists-to-flinders-island/8338768

http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/news/2016/03/derek-the-baby-wombat-melts-hearts

Tink the Wombat gets some sleep

Tink thinks Poor John’s feet provide a perfect mattress

23 April 2017 / leggypeggy

Trousers Point Walk—a great way to spend Earth Day

Trousers Point Walk, Flinders Island

Cape Barren Island in the distance

Trousers Point Walk, Flinders Island

Earth Day has come and gone in Australia, but I have wonderful memories of how we spent the day—mostly outdoors.

We started out the morning with a trip to Allport Beach to give the dogs—Archie and Mickie—a good run. Once they’ve been worn out, they’re quite happy (well happy might not be the right word) for us to desert them for the rest of the day while we explore Flinders Island.

Our Earth Day highlight was doing the Trousers Point Walk on the west coast of Flinders Island. We’d had a quick look at Trousers Point the first day we were on the island, but that day Graeme gave us a quick tour of the bottom part of the island, so we had a sense of where we were.

We did learn that Trousers Point is a rocky granite headland that is known for two beautiful beaches, views to offshore islands and Mt Strzelecki, and unusual rock features. Locals say it is the most photographed and celebrated beach on Flinders Island with crystal clear waters, wide expanses of white sand, and a mountain rising from the ocean.

The name is said to commemorate the escape by a trouserless lad from the wreck of the Sarah Ann Blanche. The boat was at anchor off Chappell Island and was being loaded with muttonbird oil, when she was swept from her mooring in strong winds.

Richard Burgess was son of the boat’s owner, and the only person on board when the winds came up. As the boat was swept along, he crawled along the bowsprit and dropped safely onto the rocks at what has become known as Trousers Point. He made a lucky escape as the wrecked boat was never found. No one recorded how he came to be trouserless.

Flinders Island

Probably Chappell Island in the distance where the boat broke loose

But back to our Earth Day.
Graeme had been saying there was a great circuit walk at Trousers Point that was shortish, scenic, easy and rewarding.

Wow, he knows how to undersell a knock-out.

The walk is fabulous. It’s along a well-defined track that is only about 4 kilometres long (never mind that the sign says 1.9). The beginning of the track took us through well-weathered casuarina woodland, but soon enough we were walking along the southwest coast of the island. Here the scrub is low to the ground and clinging to the granite outcrops. The views are spectacular and varied. I’ll let the photos do the talking..

Once we left the shore, we took a small detour to visit Fotheringate Beach. Then we walked back to the carpark along the road.

Fotheringate Beach, Flinders Island

Looking down on Fotheringate Beach

I read that there is a coastal way to return, but we didn’t find it and weren’t keen to get lost. The bush around the point is bushy enough that getting lost is definitely possible.

The Trousers Point Walk (rated Grade 2) is one of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks. By the way, our first visit to Trousers Point was on a sunny day, but the walk was on a cloudy day, so those pics are a bit grey. 

Grey or not, it was a wonderful way to spend Earth Day. Archie and Mickie thought their run on the beach and the rocks was pretty great too. How did you spend Earth Day?

Dog on Allport Beach, Flinders Island

Mickie with the wind in her fur

Dog in water at Allport Beach, Flinders Island

Archie checks out the water at Allport Beach

Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks
Tasmania is famous for its long bushwalks, but not everyone has the time or experience to get into the wilds overnight.

That’s all fixed with the 60 Great Short Walks app, which shows how to get a taste of Tasmania’s wild places, and be back in time for tea (Aussie slang for dinner)! It features great day walks from all around the state. They range from just a few minutes to a whole day out; and from flat and easy, to steep and hard.

The 60 Great Short Walks app is available free from the iTunes Store. It features:
* more than 200 photographs, sourced from experienced walkers
* more than 100 brief, first-hand stories from walkers
* simple maps and other essential details for each walk
* space to add notes, and to share your experience via social media
* essential safety tips
* tips on caring for the environment as you walk.

P.S. Another comment about the name Trousers Point. Some years back, Australia decided to drop all the apostrophes in place names. While this particular place doesn’t necessarily require an apostrophe, it drives me crazy that Spencer’s Bay is Spencers Bay and Bateman’s Bay is Batemans Bay. Good grief. Wouldn’t it be better to teach people to use apostrophes correctly? And now I’ll step off my soapbox—for today.

But here’s an article that explains some of the arguments.
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/apostrophes-are-a-growing-concern-in-grouchy-grammarians-gardens/news-story/d959b44574de64a17196df3fe22702ba

Trousers Point Walk, Flinders Island

22 April 2017 / leggypeggy

When travel plans go awry and life still delivers

Marina at Williamstown, Melbourne

Marina at Williamstown with Melbourne CBD in the background

A few days ago we bowled up to Essendon Airport for our flight from Melbourne to Flinders Island (off the northeast coast of Tasmania). We’d driven there from Canberra, with a fantastic overnight stay in Yackandandah. Another bonus was our chance to catch up with a fellow blogger, who prefers to remain anonymous. Nothing like a little intrigue.

As we headed to the terminal, our fellow blogger said we couldn’t go without a proper send-off, so s/he escorted us to the departure lounge. We checked in and close to 4pm, the staff announced the flight to King Island.

Hmm, hang on. We’re going to Flinders Island and there’s only one plane out there.

So we moseyed up to the ground crew and said we’re awaiting the afternoon flight to Flinders. Sorry mate, but that flight went at 10:30am.

Ugh, ugh, ugh. I’m going to attribute that mistake completely to me and the fact that when I booked the flights I still needed to have a cataract removed. It’s not a good excuse, but it’s the only one. The cataract surgery was free and successful, and the replacement tickets cost about $500.

And then there was the night’s accommodation in Melbourne until we could fly out the next morning. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

Greenpeace Sea Shepherd

Greenpeace’s Steve Irwin Sea Shepherd

But the bright spot in all this is that our fellow blogger wouldn’t let us out of her/his sight.

We were ferried to the hotel, allowed to check in and dump our bags, and then squired around some of Melbourne’s more interesting, but slightly off-the-beaten track, spots. Luckily we were allowed to buy our host dinner and a beer.

Our main photogenic stop was to visit Williamstown, on Hobsons Bay. It’s where Greenpeace’s Sea Shepherd is docked. As a special treat we also saw the Tenacious, a British tall ship that caters for anyone with a disability.

So all in all, my goof-up was a great, but expensive, hiccup. The hotel was a bit dear in our opinion, but they threw in breakfast and free wifi. I had to go to the front desk to get the wifi activated. Still amazes me that so many Aussie hotels want to charge for internet. It was part of the package in Yackandandah.

And more soon about Flinders Island. We’re having a great time here, but sort of slow and limited internet.

P.S. My goof-up on flights means that, at this stage, we’ll return to Essendon/Canberra on the 27th of April, not 25th as we’d planned. I have to give Sharp Airlines (which services Flinders) huge credit in that they’ve said come along to the terminal on the 25th and if there’s a no-show or cancellation, we’ll be good to go. Great customer service.

Tenacious

The UK’s Tenacious

Tenacious, closer up

Tenacious, closer up

18 April 2017 / leggypeggy

Town names don’t get much better than Yackandandah

Black Angus cows and calves

Some of the Black Angus herd kicks up their heels

Autumn colours of Yackandandah

Trees in Yackandandah start to turn

Poor John and I are off on another adventure—this time to Flinders Island off the northeast coast of Australia’s island state of Tasmania.

We’ll have a week there visiting the tourist spots and staying with Graeme, who normally looks after our house while we travel. We’ve been sidelined this time while he housesits for his niece.

So what’s this about Yackandandah?

We decided to drive to Melbourne to catch the plane to Flinders Island. It would be more economical than flying because of the Easter holidays. More importantly, it would give us a chance to stop on the way to catch up with Chris and Robert, two of our travelling companions on our second South American overland trip in 2013.

A couple of years back, they bought the Yackandandah Motor Inn (in Victoria) to keep them busy in a sort of retirement. As if they didn’t already have enough to do running their nearby farm!

Hills near Yackandandah

A view from the backyard of the farm

What a great reunion. In between them running around checking in and attending to the needs of guests, we managed to have drinks and nibbles, a trip to the farm, dinner in the Thai restaurant across the road, and a walk around Yackandandah to admire its transformation to autumn.

It was great to see the farm with its beautiful garden (see pics above), scenic rolling hills and friendly herd of Black Angus cattle. Most of the cows have had their calves, and they were curious to check out Robert in the field. Just as we were leaving, Mother Nature flashed us an amazing sunset that vanished within minutes.

Yackandandah sunset

Now we’re in Melbourne in an overpriced (for what it is) hotel. Earlier this afternoon, we were all checked in for our flight to Flinders when the unthinkable happened! We were booked on the wrong flight. Luckily our bags were quickly retrieved.

Stay tuned tomorrow, or for whenever I have another internet connection, to find out what happens next. Not sure what internet, if any, to expect on Flinders.

In the meantime, I can highly recommend a stopover in Yackandandah. There lots to do and see in and around the town, including some fun shops. The whole area is extremely popular for cyclists. Robert and Chris are avid cyclists (mountain bikes) themselves and can give lots of advice. Thanks fellas for a sensational time. You can bet we’ll be back. 

P.S. Please share if you have ever had your travel plans go belly-up? It might give us a laugh and will probably make us all feel better.

Yackandandah in autumn

A magnificent golden ash

9 April 2017 / leggypeggy

A sad farewell to another Prince

Prince of Bandipur National Park

Last year about this time, the world mourned the death of Prince, the famous singer, songwriter, actor, instrumentalist, philanthropist, dancer and record producer, who entertained millions around the globe.

This week I learned of the death of another popular Prince. This time it was the 14-year-old celebrity tiger from Bandipur National Park in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

Prince in Bandipur

Prince patrols his territory

According to the news, a post-mortem found that Prince’s stomach was empty, which means he may have starved to death. Karnataka is in the grip of a devastating drought and most of the prey has been moving out of the park. Alternatively, some recent reports said Prince had been seen limping, so perhaps he was unable to hunt prey.

A member of the State Wildlife Advisory Board put a positive spin on the death saying Bandipur has the highest density of tigers and a 14-year-old tiger dying naturally is actually good news as now another tiger can take over the territory.

Wildlife photographers will remember the massive-sized Prince as a favourite subject because he freely roamed his territory and did not shy away from tourists and photographers.

Tiger in Bandipur

Prince takes no notice of the tourists

Prince in Bandipur National Park

I wonder which was his best side for photos?

I know this is true because Prince was the tiger we saw when we visited Bandipur.

What an amazing experience it was, in more ways than one!

Most Gypsy drivers in Bandipur make an effort to keep in touch with one another during wildlife safaris, and our driver became a rally car wizard the moment he heard that Prince had been spotted lounging in a muddy pool of water.

At the time, we were going the opposite direction on a narrow stretch of bumpy dirt road more than a kilometre from Prince. So to get there fast, our driver set out at breakneck speed IN REVERSE, and drove that way for most of the distance. The ride alone was thrilling—given the condition of the road with tree roots, rocks and erosion, it came close being to a roller-coaster ride—and then we came upon Prince sauntering through the jungle.

His muddy behind and tail were evidence of where he had been resting, but he was on the move now.

Prince, tiger, Bandipur

He completely ignored the hordes of tourists and photographers who were watching his every move, and strolled calmly between the Gypsies and vans.

We followed him for more than 30 minutes as he meandered back and forth inspecting and spraying his territory.

Looking back at the photos, taken just four months ago, he was already looking on the thin side.

Prince, thank you for showing yourself to us. May you rest in peace.

P.S. It was hard to decide which of the more than 70 photos I took of Prince to share. And in case you were wondering, a tiger’s life expectancy in the wild is 10–15 years, so Prince did quite well.

Bandipur's famous tiger, Prince

Prince, Bandipur, India

Our last view of Prince

29 March 2017 / leggypeggy

‘Oh shoot’ or ‘oh chute’—confusion and laughter

Trees, Braidwood, NSW

Braidwood has avenues of trees on both ends of town

The house I grew up in had a laundry chute. The clothes ‘travelled’ between the upstairs bathroom and the basement. The chute was big enough for clothes to be pushed down, but not big enough for us kids to throw ourselves down.

That’s probably just as well, but I remember spending way too much time playing in the huge timber cage in the basement that ‘caught’ all the dirty clothes. It was suspended from the ceiling, but was an easy climb to get into. I can see that darn latticed cage in my mind’s eye as if it was yesterday, and yet I moved out of that house when I was about 14.

laundry chute

The cage on our laundry chute was three times the size of this and had open-air lattice work

So maybe you can appreciate that my idea of a chute was something tunnel-like—a way to get from one place to another.

Years later in France, the term puzzled me. Back then, my dear friend, Maggie, and I were travelling around the world together.

This particular adventure was a drive from Brussels in Belgium to the very south of France—Argeles sur Mer to be exact. We decided to avoid the main roads and were rewarded with drives through lots of lovely villages.

We were intrigued by signs displayed on the way into and out of some villages. They said ‘Chute de Branches’, and always marked avenues that were lined with trees such as poplars.

We assumed the trees and their ‘title’ were symbolic. Perhaps they had been planted as, say, a war memorial and the signs served to commemorate them. There are similar tree-lined stretches in Australia. But I was puzzled as to why they weren’t  called ‘avenue des arbres’ or ‘avenue of trees’. Perhaps the word ‘branches’ had some special war-related meaning.

So we drove slowly through these ‘chutes’, admiring their picturesque settings, and paying our silent respects to who those died during the war.

chute de branches

Now this makes sense

It wasn’t until we got back to Brussels and consulted Jean-Michel’s French dictionary, that we realised ‘chute de branches’ has an entirely different meaning. Pictures might have been more helpful in letting us know that we should be dodging ‘falling branches’.

Gulp. And to think we didn’t rush past them. But our confusion gave everyone a very hearty laugh.

Writing this post reminded me of another confusing sign. We spent several weeks in Belgium, and Maggie got rather used to seeing the highway sign ‘Sortie’, which is French for exit. After we spent a few days driving around Flanders, Maggie caught sight of a sign and said Oh hey, I think we went there yesterday. I replied, Yes, sort of, that’s ‘Uitrit’, which is Flemish for exit.

I never got photos of any of those signs, but I’ve shared a few here that are rather more indicative of the definition. Even the ones here with wording at least show an exclamation point or some indication of danger. There’s also one in English, and it’s where we walk the dog several times a week. Haven’t been bonked on the head yet. 

chute de branches

Slightly more informative

I’ve also shared a pic of the tree-lined entrance to Braidwood in New South Wales. I believe it is a real war memorial. But I think falling branches are also a concern.

A few years back, there was some talk of chopping down all the trees as a safety precaution, but there was a public outcry. As a compromise, the speed limit was lowered from 100 to 80 miles per kilometre. So we get to drive by slowly! 🙂

Have road signs ever outfoxed or confused you?

P.S. If you are aware of Poor John’s habit of walking with his hands behind his back, you might check out how he ‘converted’ Jean-Michel’s first son to that style of walking.

P.P.S. Be sure to check out my cooking blog too. Here’s a fabulous recipe for the famous French dish called coq au vin.

falling branches

Falling branches where we walk

8 March 2017 / leggypeggy

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Selling vegetables, Kazakhstan

Selling vegetables, Kazakhstan

This morning’s Australian Radio National program included a feature on International Women’s Day (March 8). I found some of the history fascinating.

The earliest Women’s Day observance was in February 1909 in New York, It was organised by the Socialist Party of America, and was in remembrance of the 1908 strike by the International Ladies Garment Worker’s Union.

Selling textiles, Bolivia

Selling textiles, Bolivia

Weaving, Bolivia

Weaving, Bolivia

Over the next years, women’s days were observed in many countries, including Austria, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland Spain and China.

One such observance in Russia led to their revolution. In 1917, demonstrations marking International Women’s Day in Saint Petersburg on the last Thursday in February (which fell on March 8 on the Gregorian calendar) initiated the February Revolution.

Weaving a mat, Ecuador

Weaving a mat, Ecuador

Women in Saint Petersburg went on strike that day for ‘Bread and Peace’. They demanded an end to World War I, as well as an end to Russian food shortages and czarism.

Leon Trotsky wrote, ‘23 February (8th March) was International Woman’s Day and meetings and actions were foreseen. But we did not imagine that this “Women’s Day” would inaugurate the revolution. Revolutionary actions were foreseen but without date. But in morning, despite the orders to the contrary, textile workers left their work in several factories and sent delegates to ask for support of the strike… which led to mass strike… all went out into the streets.’

Doing laundry, India

Beating laundry on the riverbank, India

The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day in the International Women’s Year, 1975. Two years later, the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace.

To mark this day—which has the theme of ‘Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030’—I’m sharing photos that I have taken of women at work in some of the countries places I’ve visited. Most of the photos show women doing traditional jobs.

Painting chess pieces, Uzbekistan

Painting chess pieces, Uzbekistan

Selling fruit, Mongolia

Selling fruit, Mongolia

Next year, on this anniversary, I’ll add photos of women from my travels in Africa. Oh, and in the interest of equal opportunity, I’ll post still more photos and commentary on 19 November to observe International Men’s Day.

P.S. Finishing off this post with a pic of my dear cousin, Jo, who is an amazing cook and a cherished member of my extended family.

Cooking in Seattle

My cousin, Jo, cooking in Seattle