Tag Archives: travel


Still got the final few Aussie posts to upload (and Dubai) but since I’m typing this from JFK airport…

Yes, I’ve been home for 6 weeks and and off again – to the US and Canada. The highlight will undoubtedly be Hawaii – I’m going there to see the Venus Transit, the rare occurrence of the planet Venus crossing the path of the sun. It’s rare – VERY rare. There’s a pair 8 years apart, followed by a gap of 105 or 121 years. The one on June 5th/6th is the 2nd of the pair so is a once in a lifetime viewing if you didn’t see the last one. It’ll be the 2nd and final time I get to see it as I doubt I’ll be around in 2117 and even if I make it to my 132rd birthday I doubt I’ll be in a position to travel to this side of the planet again.

I’m heading to Hawaii as it’s by far the best viewing location – most places on the Pacific Rim will be able to see at least a part of it but in Hawaii I’ll be able to see the entire transit – it takes around 6 hours for the full event, so there’s plenty of observing time. Europe will miss most of it, though if you get up very early on the 6th you’ll be able to see the end of it.

Hopefully it will be as good as last time, in the slightly less glamorous location of Birmingham Uni – still, the weather then was perfect and it should be in Hawaii too!

Weirdly, my bag is lighter than it was in Australia, even though I’m carrying a 5kg telescope with me. My bag was always 18kg or more and whilst I posted a fair bit of stuff home it still seemed far fuller than it is here in the US – doesn’t make sense to me, but a lighter bag is definitely something I can’t complain about!

Getting into the US was easy enough, though carrying the solar filter paper in my hand luggage was rewarded with a closer inspection as it went through the scanner in JFK – no such issues in Heathrow.

Before I go to Hawaii I’m stopping in Seattle – home of Fraser Crane. Newport was once called the “new Seattle” so I’m intrigued to see how people came to that conclusion. And since Vancouver is no further away than London is from Manchester, a trip across the border is on the cards – so long as there’s no potential Visa issues getting back into the US.

I’ll be on the west coast for 10 days before flying to Hawaii on June 1st, staying there for 2 weeks before flying home. 27 days away – far less than the 69 I had in Aus and Dubai but still long enough for what should be a very different experience. More soon…

Augusta and around

You can tell when its been a mixed day…

This morning started well enough at Cape Leeuwin – named after a Dutch boat that first explored the area. It’s a big highlight, as the Indian and Southern Oceans collide at the cape. The lighthouse tour was also worth the effort.

Less so was Augusta Museum. I struggled to stay for 45 mins though a complete mixed bag of memorbillia (in fairness Augusta is a very small place, so to have a museum that raises some interest is an impressive feat). A plate from last year’s royal wedding in the same section (cultural) as the bell from a ship which sank (SS Pericles) made for a strange experience. The ship itself is far more interesting, having been owned by White Star Line and sinking in 1910. They also had some interesting pictures on local whale beachings, with letters from children in a big book. A bit strange being invited to open books and cabinets to see more…

It’s taken a while to spend the $400 I came out with, mainly thanks to spending most of the last week with family. I finally had to get to an ATM (easily found) an headed for Jewel Cave up the road, only to find out that it’s tour only and that they had sold out for the day. 30km further up the road is Mammoth Cave, thankfully self-tour so was able to spend an hour having a look around. Impressive sights inside and it’s certainly big.

Being pretty close to Margaret River I took a quick look around and visited the local Coles for food (think Tesco) before heading back to Augusta. It’s an interesting enough place but even 24 hours is being generous for a solo traveller – it’s probably much better in bigger numbers…

Tomorrow is the epic drive to Albany, some 360km. Assuming I don’t find anywhere interesting to stop on the way…

Detour to Augusta and pictures

Yesterday I went up to Cape Naturliste. Near Dunsborough, it’s the northernmost part of the 100km long cape that forms the far south west of Australia. A really enjoyable 90 minutes, though the flies were murder at times!

From there I spent yesterday taking a slow drive south (having finally managed to find a decent(ish) hat in Dunsborough), taking the far more scenic Caves Road over the Bussell Highway. Not that there’s much difference anyway…

I also found Prevelly beach – a surfer’s mecca, though obviously devastated by bushfire. The beach is unlike any I’ve seen before – waves far bigger than any I’ve seen and a stunning location. Somewhere to go back to, though I doubt I’ll have the time to do so on this trip.

I’m currently in Augusta – it’s a tiny place right at the bottom of Australia – you can’t go further southwest than here. It sits on Cape Leeuwin, where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet. I’m spending a few hours here this morning before heading up to Margaret River for the afternoon.

The hostel I’m at is pleasent, if a little basic. And it lacks aircon, an essential in this heat.

I hadn’t planned on coming here but it looks like it might be the right decision – there’s plenty to do!

Tomorrow will be the 5 hour drive to Albany. It won’t hurt too much thanks to the aircon in the car but will be a long drive – I’m hoping to see the Valley of the Giants on the way and do the tree top walk too.

I’ve finally used the first set of camera batteries too – it managed 800+ pictures so I’m pretty happy with that! I’ve uploaded a few to Facebook but you don’t need an account to see them – just go here to have a look.

Right, time to explore Augusta!

Rotto, Rockingham to Bunbury and Dunsborough

It’s been a busy few days!

Saturday was spent on Rottnest Island, so-called thanks to the native Quokkas that were seen as giant rats… they’re actually closer to mini-kangeroos!

2 Quokkas



I hired a bike and rode around the island. The advice I had from the tour guide I booked with proved invaluable – plenty of empty beaches to explore! It took it’s toll though, thanks to 12km on the bike in 4 hours. The boat ride was worth the effort though!

Since then I’ve been catching up with parts of my extended family on dad’s side, starting with Joan in Rockingham and heading down to see my grandmother’s sister in Bunbury before heading to Michelle’s in Dunsborough in the far south west. I’ve also hired a car – a tiny Suzuki Swift that I’ll be using to get to Albany over the next few days before heading back to Perth on Tuesday.

I’ve also managed a quick visit to Fremantle Prison – by far the oldest place in Westwen Australia, dating back to 1852(ish). It’s the home of the original WA convicts and is a fascinating place, having operated as an active prison til 1991. How they managed without toilets is beyond me! (buckets all the way til the end). I’ll be spending next Thursday in Freo so will have plenty of time to explore the Prison and other museums there further…

I’m heading south through Margaret River over the next few days, to Albany over the weekend and back to Perth for Wednesday. The car will get me there! More soon…


Day 1 in Perth

I’m down… under! Strange times following the flight too…

Since I flew with Emirates the change was at Dubai – and I was sat between Malaysian and Indonesian women. I must admit that trying to choose a suitable film for them to watch wasn’t easy… but watching Toy Story 3 & the final Harry Potter film whilst flying over Baghdad and Basra seemed appropriate.

From the 2 hours I spent at Dubai airport, it’s obviously an impressive place. Even from a distance the Burj Khalifa is staggeringly big.

Perth was far more interesting, thanks to the South American next to me having a big problem with the turbulance, going so far as to ask me “Are we going to crash?” Suffice to say I’ve had better flights.

Naturally immigration took ages, with far more staff dealing with the Aussie & Kiwi nationals than everyone else combined – luckily I found someone heading to the same hostel and I’m typing this from there.

The weather’s been a mixed bag. It was obvious a storm was on it’s way leaving the airport but didn’t prepare me for 10am – good thing I stayed in bed for an extra hour! Today has been sunny since and very hot – about 37 for most of the day.

It’s been a quiet day, simply getting my bearings around Perth and finding the extra bits I didn’t bring with me. Tomorrow I’m off to Rottness island – it’s a 2 hour boat ride (so not somewhere mother would go) but the scenery is supposed to be fantastic. I’ll find out soon enough…