Say cheese! National Photographic Prize at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

I am a happy snapper from way back and one of those terribly over-organised people who dutifully have my photos printed and then neatly insert them into real, live photo albums.

Yes, how incredibly old-fashioned!

With my amateur interest in photography, a trip to the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra was an easy choice.

Snap!

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More Steps Through Paradise – Kiama Coast Walk, Day 2

Views of Werri Beach Kiama Coast Walk
Looking along Werri Beach, Gerringong

Following on from yesterday, today we continue our bracing stroll along the Kiama coastline. It’s a walk that just keeps on delivering stunning views and makes you glad to be alive.

Slap on your sunscreen, fill up your water bottle and walk with me…

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Step Into Paradise – Kiama Coast Walk, Day 1

View from the Kiama Coast Walk

Do you need a dose of the freshest air to blow the cobwebs and negative thoughts out of your brain?

Do you need breathtaking scenery with beauty at every turn and rise?

Do you want to fall in love with ‘your’ new architecturally-designed coast shack with sweeping sea views?

If you said ‘Yes’ to even only one of those questions, you need to tie on your walking shoes and get yourself to Kiama on the New South Wales South Coast.

It is a stunner…

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Poking Fun at our Politicians – A Few Giggles at the Museum of Australian Democracy, Canberra

It is probably rare to read the words ‘giggle’ and ‘museum’ in the same sentence, but not if you visit the Behind the Lines cartoon exhibition at the Museum of Australian Democracy in Canberra.

The front of Old Parliament House, Canberra

This Museum, housed in Old Parliament House, hosts an annual best of political cartoons exhibition. The theme this year is ‘The Greatest Hits Tour’ with a not-so-subtle nod towards our Federal election held early last year.

No one and nothing is safe from the acid wit flowing out of the cartoonist’s pen and I am so pleased about that…

Enjoy the cartoons below and feel free to giggle!

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The Museum of Old + New Art as a Work of Art Itself, Hobart Tasmania

Internal tunnels at MONA Hobart TasmaniaNot only does David Walsh’s Museum of Old + New Art contain a stunning collection of beautiful, clever, witty and sometimes shocking artworks, it is also an architectural masterpiece in its own right.

Its imposing façade is full of strong steel and rugged sandstone contrasts neatly with plantings of hardy native plants.

Let’s have a look…

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Remembering the Fallen – The Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra

An image of the Australian War Memorial with a red poppy laying across the imageOn the 25th of April every year, Australia pauses to commemorate ANZAC Day. This day takes the form of memorial services at the Cenotaph in every small town and village across the country, with very large and well-supported parades in our major cities.

An important part of the annual ceremony is the playing of The Last Post. A haunting bugle solo that never fails to bring chills and goose bumps.

Unlike once-a-year ANZAC Day, The Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra is held every afternoon and, in my humble opinion, it is a must-do activity for every Aussie.

I had heard a little about the Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) and when planning a visit to Canberra, it was high on my list of things to do. Unfortunately, even though I was booking two weeks ahead, it was already booked out. Bugger!

IMG_6286Booking tickets prior to visiting is now required for all parts of the AWM. I even rang the AWM to see if I could beg a ticket, but no joy and they advised that we would just have try to our luck on the day. Oh well, not to worry. There would be plenty of other things to see and do.

After three hours of military history, death, destruction and a few small doses of humour we were just about overwhelmed with the whole AWM experience. As we headed across the empty grounds and towards the carpark, it was nearing the time of the Last Post Ceremony, and I suggested to The Husband that we should try our luck and check if they could squeeze us in.

We were rewarded with a warm welcome and ushered back through the doors of the main AWM building and into the Commemorative Area.

The Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial with thousands of red poppiesThe Commemorative Area is often seen in promotional images for the AWM. It is a large open courtyard with a ‘pool of reflection’ running lengthways along the courtyard floor and overlooked by two long, arched verandas. These verandas are home to a seemingly endless Roll of Honour listing the names of 102 000 soldiers and service people who represented Australia and lost their lives in over 100 years of conflict. It was incredibly sobering to walk and read the names knowing that each bronze name represents a heartbeat and a life cut far too short.

Where the bronze alphabetical panels join each other there is small crack and friends and family are welcome to insert a small poppy next to the name of the person who is significant to them. The scarlet poppies add a brilliant flash of colour amongst the sadness.

The Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial with thousands of red poppiesAs we slowly walked and read, letting the sheer volume of names sink in, I noticed a lady in tears as she tried to explain to her young son the seriousness and significance of all the poppies. I dug into the bottom of my handbag and gave her a packet of tissues. Probably not a 100% Covid19-safe action, but she appreciated it.

But, back to the Last Post Ceremony…

The Last Post Ceremony is the final activity held at the AWM before the close of each day and it is both solemn and powerful. I am getting goose bumps just writing about it many weeks later.

Laying wreaths at the Australian War Memorial
Wreath layers line up.

The light was fading and the air was taking on that early evening cool that gets into your bones as a respectful hush fell over the small (and well-spaced) crowd. The Master of Ceremonies stepped up to the podium, welcomed us all and acknowledged any returned service people in the audience.

Four wreaths were then laid at the end of the pool of reflection and a bagpiper accompanied the laying of the wreaths. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, bagpipes have a plaintiveness about them that makes everyone pause.

Private William Charles Pinneger Brown
Private William Charles Pinneger Brown. Source: www1cemeteries.com

Colonel Frank Colley saluted and read out the story of Private William Charles Pinneger Brown. At each Last Post Ceremony a service person’s life is featured, bringing an immediate human touch to the event and ensures the audience focuses on the people of the war, rather than the guns, tanks and planes.

Private William Charles Pinneger Brown was born in 1885 in Adelaide, South Australia. Before enlisting in the 10th battalion of the Australian Imperial Force in May 1916, he was a carpenter, married to Ethel with a couple of young children. In December 1916 he joined the 27th battalion in the trenches of France, only to be killed a little over four months later by an artillery shell. He was only 31 years old. Although it was recorded that he died at Bullecourt, his grave has never been located due to the tumult of a moving battlefront and destruction caused by constant bombardment.

Private Brown was one 62 000 Australians who died during World War 1. That’s a pretty powerful number when you consider that Australia’s population in 1918 (by the end of the War) was only around 4.9million. A further 156 000 people were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner during the war.

The Ceremony then moved on the Ode. The Ode comes from For the Fallen, a poem by the English poet and writer Laurence Binyon.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

A wreath is placed in front of the Pool of Reflection at the Australian War MemorialYou could have heard a pin drop…except for a pair of larrikin white cockatoos who chose that moment to dive bomb the ceremony and generally create a raucous racket, screeching and squawking as they wheeled above our heads. I couldn’t help but smile at the Australianess of this and our endless desire to poke fun and not take ourselves too seriously. (I note that in the YouTube clip of this ceremony, the cockatoos have been completely edited out!)

A lone bugler stood to attention at the edge of the courtyard and played the forlorn Last Post. A moving and fitting end to the Ceremony. As the last echoes resounded around the verandas, the piper and dignitaries turned and walked into the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the doors closed solemnly behind them.

What a powerful way to end a visit to the AWM.

A photo of Private Brown stands at the end of the Pool of Reflection at the Australian War Memorial
A photo of Private Brown stands at the end of the Pool of Reflection.

Maybe war and military history is not your thing and I understand that completely. Can I recommend that you skip all the displays and body counts, touch screens and dioramas in the AWM itself, and just attend the Last Post Ceremony?

It is a must-do activity and a fitting way to remember those who have served our country – past AND present.

Lest we forget.

 

The Basics

What: It is possible to have your own family member recognised at the Last Post Ceremony. Simply lodge a request on their website. Be prepared to wait though, as it may take up to three years for your soldier’s turn to come around. You can also lay a wreath during the Ceremony itself. When you arrive, see one of the ushers and they will tell you whether all the positions have been filled. You do not need to be a family member to participate and they provide the wreaths.

Where: Treloar Crescent, Campbell (a suburb of Canberra).

A bagpiper at the Australian War MemorialWhen: The Ceremony runs for around 20 minutes and starts at 455pm. Book your ticket here.

Why: To pay homage to those who made it possible for us to live in freedom and in peace.

How: We stayed at the Quest City Walk right in the heart of Canberra. The location was perfect with easy walking distance to lots of restaurants and shops. We booked via AirBnB and at $139, it was very good value. (As an Airbnb Associate, I earn a small commission when you book through this link and it doesn’t cost you anything extra.)

Who: All Australians – young and old.

Related Posts: For more information about what else to see at the AWM. Read on.

Related Blogs: If you can’t make it in person to Canberra, then watch the Last Post Ceremony broadcast live everyday on the AWM YouTube channel or Facebook page.

Read About It: For an interesting and heart-breaking read about a soldier in World War 1, grab a copy of Crack Hardy by Stephen Dando-Collins. The story relates to Dando-Collins’ great uncles who enlisted in WW1 and none were unchanged by the experience. Highly recommended. Go straight to Book Depository.

The Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial with thousands of red poppies

#canberra #travelinspo #anzac #australianwarmemorial #worldwarone #thelastpost  #militaryhistory #rememberance #redpoppies

Finding Yourself When You Are Lost in Nature

Book Title: Bewildered

Author: Laura Waters

The cover of the book BewilderedPromotional Blurb: What would move you to ditch your life and take off into the wild for five months? For Laura Waters, it took the implosion of a toxic relationship and a crippling bout of anxiety.

 Armed with maps, a compass and her life in a bag on her back, she set out to walk the untamed landscapes of the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand, 3000 kilometres of raw, wild, mountainous trail winding from the top of the North Island to the frosty tip of the South Island. But when her walking partner dropped out on the second day, she was faced with a choice: abandon the journey, or face her fears and continue on alone? She chose to walk on.

 For five months, Laura battled not only treacherous terrain and elements, but also the demons of self-doubt and anxiety. As the kilometres fell behind her, nature did its work, stripping away her identity and guiding her towards a new way of being. At the end of Te Araroa, it was the hard-earned insights into the power of nature, emotional wellbeing and fulfilling relationships – with others as well as with herself – that were Laura’s greatest accomplishments. She emerged ‘rewilded’, and it transformed her life. Source 

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The Human Side of Mona, Hobart Tasmania

The artworks and art installations at the Museum of Old + New Art (Mona) are as varied as they are clever and shocking.

Modern Art may not be everyone’s art of choice, but it is pretty darn fascinating to think that a human brain can generate such wild and thought-provoking pieces.

In this post, mostly photos, I want to share the people of Mona including some examples of how humans, and their bodily functions, are represented in art.

Beware: there are some images below which may cause offence.

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Movie Review: Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago – Does it Really Show What it is Like to Walk a Camino?

A person admiring the view over the Pyrenees. Source: People walking the camino. Source: caminodocumentary.org
Source: caminodocumentary.org

It is time for me to don the black skivvy, slide on the intellectual-looking glasses, and assume my movie-reviewer persona. Definitely not a hard transition to make when today’s movie review relates to walking a camino in Spain.

 Grab a cuppa and a couple of chocolate biscuits (you’ll need some energy for all that walking).

Pull up your comfy chair, sit back and relax, and step out into the Spanish countryside….

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“That’s Your Bloomin’ Lot” – A Visit to the Tasmanian Community Food Garden

Blooming artichokes at Tasmanian Community Food GardenFriday night free-to-air television viewing in Australia features the usual reality TV shows, football or cricket matches (depending on the season) and endless repeats of American sitcoms and B-grade movies. The only bright spot for the horticulturally-inclined is Gardening Australia on ABC TV.

I do admit to finding these and other home/lifestyle shows to be incredibly frustrating as everything is so effortless and perfect. I can assure you there is nothing perfect about my house and garden and it takes a fair bit of effort to even achieve an imperfect state.

Despite that, I do admire the conversation generated by Gardening Australia, especially around the importance of backyard vegetable gardens and fruit orchards. Hence my desire to visit Pete’s Patch, also known as the Tasmanian Community Food Garden, at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.

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A Deeper, Dustier Visit to Silverton, Outback NSW.

I have enjoyed a couple of work-related flying visits to the iconic outback village of Silverton and when the opportunity arose to return as a ‘proper’ tourist, I couldn’t resist.

Even though Silverton is tiny and officially in the Middle of Nowhere, it delivers history, scenery and serenity in spades.

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The Camino Story. What’s it all about?

A tile representing the shell logo of camino de santiagoThe popularity of walking a camino has gone through the roof over the past five years or so.

What is it, you may ask, and what is the attraction?

In this post I want to tell the camino story. The Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of the crazy passion for tying on your walking shoes, pulling on a backpack and strolling across Spain.

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A Wild and Wonderful Boat Ride Down the Tasman Coastline

I know boat trips and cruises aren’t everyone’s thing, but in my humble opinion, there is no better way to blow the cobwebs out than to scoot down the stunning Tasman coastline, with the sea air pummelling your senses under sparkling blue skies.

Come with me as I step aboard a Pennicott Wilderness Journeys boat for a truly remarkable day out.

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The How, What, When, and Why of Walking the Italian Via Francigena

A large bronze sculpture of a horse in Piacenza
Sculpture, Italian-style…

I was tempted to call this post “All You Need to Know About Walking the Italian Via Francigena”. However as we are all individuals, no doubt we all have quite different experiences of walking 1000km through Italy. Instead, this post has a more modest title.

Modesty aside, what I hope this post does achieve is a comprehensive summary of the planning, the actual experience on a day-to-day basis, and then the obligatory post-walk reflections. I also hope it saves you a bit of legwork as you tackle you own planning.

Ciao…

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A Quick Trip to Macquarie Island, Antarctic Region

Apologies. That is a very deceptive title.

I wish I had enjoyed a quick trip to the snowy Antarctic.

Instead, I stepped through a set of vacuum-sealed doors into the fascinating Subantarctic Plant House at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.

I don’t know about you, but when I picture subantarctic anything the last thing I think about is plant life. All I imagine is endless snow, blasting wind and horizontal sleet. But, No.

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Fat, Fifty & Flabby? How fit do you have to be to walk a Camino in Spain?

A long, straight road on the camino via de la plata in Spain
A long hot road on the camino Via de la Plata

There’s a whole lot of mythology out there about walking a camino in Spain.

To you, it may appear to be an attractive romantic notion – out there strolling across the Spanish countryside, breathing in that fresh country air and restoring yourself at the end of each day with copious quantities of vino tinto.

It may also seem to be something well out of your comfort zone and far above your fitness levels.

But, No!

This post will remove some of the mystique and hopefully a few barriers stopping you lacing up your walking shoes and joining the friendly flow of folk on their way to Santiago de Compostela.

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Everything You Need to Know About Mona, Hobart Tasmania

Art at MONA, Hobart TasmaniaLove it or hate it the Museum of Old + New Art, affectionately known as Mona, is a must-see.

It is shocking.

It is thought-provoking.

It makes you smile and grimace in equal parts, and it’s a mind boggling inclusion in any visit to Tasmania.

Here are the nuts of bolts of how to make the most of Mona…

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Movie Review: The Way – Does it Really Show What it is Like to Walk a Camino?

Silhouette of a bull against a cloudy blue sky in Spain
Only in Spain…

It took a particularly wet and miserable Autumn day to keep me inside. As a rule I love rainy days as they happen so rarely in Australia and it was the perfect excuse to dust off my well-loved copy of the movie, The Way.

I put my hand up and admit that this is possibly my sixth or seventh viewing of The Way so obviously I am a bit of a fan. It never fails to create a sense of wanderlust and the urge to walk out my back door and just keep going.

But, how accurate is it? Does it really portray the highs and lows of walking the Camino Frances to Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain? Or is it all glossed over with a thick layer of Hollywood schmaltz?

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“We’re Here for the Beer” – Research at the Cascade Brewery Co, Hobart Tasmania

I need to be clear from the outset that I am prepared to go to any lengths to research interesting places for you, dear Reader.

If that means learning the finer points of beer-making and then tasting the output, I am definitely ready to put in the hard yards.

It may be early in the day here, but somewhere in the World it is a very appropriate beverage time to step through the doors of the historic Cascade Brewery in Hobart.

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Walking through history in Broken Hill

When visiting Outback Australia on the cusp of Summer, it pays to get outside early and then disappear inside under an air conditioner for the rest of the day.

That was our plan when we signed up for the Broken Hill Heritage Walk Tour.

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Bringing History to Life – the Cascades Female Factory, Hobart

History sometimes earns the reputation of being dry, dull and boring. I put my hand up as a bit of a history-lover so I tend to look for everything good in any history talk or presentation.

You certainly don’t have to worry about being bored when you take part in the Her Story presentation at the Cascades Female Factory in Hobart.

Walk with me and Mary James and listen to her story…

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5 Walking Books to Inspire You to Pull on Your Backpack and Walk Out the Front Door

Just because we can’t physically travel at the moment doesn’t mean we stop dreaming of travel and planning our next adventure.

What it does mean is that we can walk in the footsteps of others, all from the safety and comfort of our cosy armchair.

Here are five tantalising travel books to inspire and deliver a solid case of both envy and admiration.

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Why Go to White Cliffs?

A very good question and one I asked myself continually during our 17-hour visit.

White Cliffs, in Outback NSW, is located approximately 1 020km West of Sydney and 268km North East of Broken Hill. When we jumped in the car in Broken Hill to head towards our destination it was already 34°C and leapt to 38°C in three minutes and it was only 938am!

We were in for a long day…

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Salamanca Market, Hobart – Shop ‘til you drop!

Freshest Tasmanian apples at the Salamanca MarketsWhen you are heading down Hobart way, there are at least two must-see places:

  1. Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and
  2. Salamanca Market.

Salamanca is an area set slightly back from Hobart’s waterfront and wharf area. Its backdrop is a row of stunning old sandstone warehouses and on Saturday mornings, the foreground is chockful of market stalls.

Feel like a piece of chewy biltong? Want to buy some new socks?

Or how about a taste of the freshest and sweetest natural honey?

Then get yourself to the Salamanca Market

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Review: Free Walking Tour, Hobart

Our guide’s jeans were ripped and torn, and her eye shadow matched the hot-pink of her t-shirt. The fact that the fly of her torn jeans was completely open also did not add to her credibility.

What had we got ourselves into?

At least it was a gorgeous, blue sky day to set out to explore the streets of historic Hobart.

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Green Thumb Inspiration in Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, Hobart

A wooden sculpture of a man with a hoe at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical GardensI am a bit partial to wanders through lush, green spaces and nothing fits the bill better than a visit to the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens on the edge of the Hobart CBD.

The gardens are one of Australia’s oldest, established in the early years of the colony over 200 years ago. While it may not be the size and scale of more famous gardens, it has a variety and beauty that makes for a very enjoyable couple of hours or a longer day out.

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Get Your Rainbow On in Outback Australia

When you think of Outback Australia, you may think of wide open spaces, searing heat, endless miles of nothingness and dust. Lots of dust.

What may not immediately spring to mind is big hair, sparkly sequins and endless rainbows of feather boas.

That’s until you step through the front door of The Palace Hotel in Broken Hill.

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Menindee – Exploring Small Towns in Remote New South Wales

Menindee? Where’s that? I hear you ask.

Head West out of Sydney. West over the Blue Mountains. West through Dubbo and past Cobar until you nearly drive into Wilcannia. So far you are a mere 960km from the Sydney Opera House.

Turn left on a dusty, bumpy dirt road and head south-west from Wilcannia and after about 160 dry, sandy kilometres, with any luck you will hit the tar again and be enjoying the bright lights of the thriving metropolis of Menindee. Population 551 (on a good day).

Your next question, “Why on Earth would you want to visit Menindee?

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In the Outback & Up to My Armpits in Art

Broken Hill is located around 1 150km west of Sydney and 520km from Adelaide and is officially in the middle of Nowhere! Despite its remote location, the city does have a fascinating history (which I will share in a later post) and its other huge selling point is the depth and diversity of artistic talent.

Here is a small taste of the 27 art galleries that can be found in, and around, Broken Hill.

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Hitting the Road to the Australian Outback

When I am traveling overseas and I tell people that I live in rural New South Wales, they immediately assume that I come from Outback Australia.

Not by a long shot!

This is what Outback Australia really looks like…

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The Camino Less Travelled in Spain – Camino San Salvador

Walk Eat Sleep RepeatThis post discusses the next main path I will be stepping out on when I head to Spain in May 2020.

First will be the Camino Madrid starting from Madrid and second will be the Camino San Salvador from Leon.

Here is what I have found out about this little travelled path.

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What is your Gintelligence level?

For us southern hemisphere dwellers Spring is here and Summer is threatening just around the corner. As soon as the weather warms my thoughts go to lazy BBQs and outdoor dining, and something cool and refreshing in my hand.

When I saw the promotion for a local ‘Gintelligence’ class, I thought that this was definitely something I needed to learn more about. Who knew that getting educated could be so much fun?

With a fellow gin-lover by my side, we rolled up our sleeves and poured ourselves into the history of gin.

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Women can be adventurous too, even in the olden days…

Book Title: The Valley of the Assassins And Other Persian Travels

Author: Freya Stark

Front Cover of The Valley of Assassins book by Freya Stark
Source: penguinrandomhouse.com

Promotional Blurb: Hailed as a classic upon its first publication in 1934, The Valleys of the Assassins firmly established Freya Stark as one of her generation’s most intrepid explorers. The book chronicles her travels into Luristan, the mountainous terrain nestled between Iraq and present-day Iran, often with only a single guide and on a shoestring budget.

 Stark writes engagingly of the nomadic peoples who inhabit the region’s valleys and brings to life the stories of the ancient kingdoms of the Middle East, including that of the Lords of Alamut, a band of hashish-eating terrorists whose stronghold in the Elburz Mountains Stark was the first to document for the Royal Geographical Society.

 Her account is at once a highly readable travel narrative and a richly drawn, sympathetic portrait of a people told from their own compelling point of view. Source  Continue reading

How did I not know about Kiama, South Coast NSW?

Growing up on a farm, when things were good and the seasons were kind, we would escape to the beach for a dose of salty sea air and sand between our toes. Invariably the road would take us North to the North Coast of New South Wales (NSW) or even further north into the glitz and bling of Queensland’s Gold Coast.

It is only now that I start to discover the gems I missed out on tucked away on the South Coast of NSW.

Introducing…Kiama.

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Is this the World’s Most Beautiful Bookstore?

Walking into Porto on the Camino Portuguese, I instantly fell in love with the city. A trip to the stunning Livraria Lello bookstore tipped me right over the edge.

It seems ridiculous to fall in love with a building and its content, but I did, and I encourage you to include this store on your itinerary if you are heading over to Portugal.

Introducing…Livraria Lello.

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Exploring the Sydney Coastline – Bondi to Manly Path – Stage 3

As the title says, this post describes the third section of the Bondi Beach to Manly route, this time from Rose Bay to Darling Point. As this stage was my third for the day, I actually cut it a bit short as after +25km, the ol’ legs were starting to protest.

Interested in more stunning views of Sydney and palatial homes?

Then read on…

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Exploring the Sydney Coastline – Bondi to Manly Path – Stage 1

There is no better way to explore a city than on two feet. It gets even better when it is a sparkling Winter’s day and you have no time pressure to do anything other than stroll in the sunshine.

Welcome to the Bondi to Manly Walk.

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Airline Review – Singapore Airlines

Flying is stressful!

As much as I get excited about each and every trip, there is always that feeling of controlled chaos at the airport check-in and the bun-rush to get the ‘best’ seat, and get rid of your luggage.

It couldn’t have been more different with Singapore Airlines.

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Webjet Deals – Are They Too Good To Be True?

You may have seen the print and other ads for the Webjet tour business and wondered if they were too good to be true. The prices seem incredibly low and chockful of meals, entrance tickets and other add-ons, making you wonder, ‘how can they do it’?

Well, they can AND it is well worth doing…

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