Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fremantle Market...

Street performer in Fremantle, a suburb of Perth, painted all over in a copper color to make her look like a decorative statue. When a passerby puts a coin in this cowgirl's coffee can, she comes to life in robotic fashion.

Cam McAzie, the "Badpiper" was entertaining the crowd with his rock-n-roll/bagpipe riffs. This was his last street performance; he announced he had just signed with a rock band in Europe. I took the video below of this badass piper.

“A not-to-be-missed, one-man rock show that will leave you asking your mum if you can have another turn.”

– Rolling Stone magazine.

Friday, April 24, 2009

$.18 cents/km...

Distance from Sydney to Perth: 4,292 kilometers
Total cost of petrol: $772.56
Cost per kilometer: $.18/km
High/low cost per liter: $1.19 (Sydney) - $1.65 (Nullarbor Plain)
Average cost to fly from Sydney to Perth: $236
Cost for accommodations: $0
Days enroute: 7
Stops along the way: 1- Penong, SA
Speeding tickets: 0 (phew!)
Photos taken along the way: 429
Photos discarded: 381
Photos kept: 48
Favorite image: Morning walk with Billy
Worst meal along the way: Corn dog at a roadhouse in Norseman
Best meal: Fish tortillas at Cindy's
Most unusual wildlife: Wild emus and kangaroos

Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Can you hear me now...?"

McDonald's restaurants in Australia offer two hours of free Wi-Fi at all their locations; no purchase necessary. (That's perfect, because I spend about that much time checking emails and uploading pictures and posts to the blog, etc.)

But, for areas with no Macco's, I purchased a prepaided broadband (USB) stick for my computer. I can get online anywhere there's a Telstra cell signal. Now, I've given up looking for McD's and started looking for cell towers. They're easy to spot and the reception is amazing! (If only you could camp overnight at the tower... that would be sooooo 'high-speed!!')

Yes. This blog post was sent from the tower in the photo! Exciting stuff, huh? [I sure hope I get to Perth soon, a person can go crazy in the Middle of Nowhere... :-( ]

This is a portable, van-top, cell tower.... just watch for overhead lines!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Final approach for Runway A-1...?

Traveling the Eyre Highway (A-1) across the Nullarbor Plain last night, I came upon a road sign for an Emergency Airstrip. I thought, "That's odd!?! Why would someone construct a runway hundreds of miles from any services? There are NO people, NO towns, and, I would imagine, NO reason to land a plane here. Why spend the money for a airstrip?"

300 Meters later, I got my answer!
They didn't build a separate runway; they painted runway markings on the highway. And I was on final approach for Runway A-1!!!

About the image: I'm parked in the center of the highway with the van lights on high. I shot this image using an external strobe to light the area. The off-kilter angle of the shot is meant to suggest the view from the cockpit of a plane on approach. The gravel shoulders of the road, difficult to see in this image, have been widened considerably to accommodate the wingspan of an RFDS plane.

R.F.D.S. stands for Royal Flying Doctor Service:
There are four such emergency airstrips along the Nullarbor highway which are used to deliver emergency medical services to this remote region of the country. I spent at least 30 minutes parked in the middle of the road to take these images and never spotted another vehicle. This section of the road is the longest, perfectly straight stretch of highway in Australia; it's 146 km long - almost 100 mi.
Now that's a runway!!

"We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto..."

(Click pictures to enlarge.)

What I don't understand... (besides how camels came to be a road hazard?), is where the animals are hiding when they are not busy playing 'chicken' in the road? There's not a tree to be found on the Nullarbor Plain?!? (Null = no, Arbor = trees.)

(And, if you want to know what the animal in the center sign is... the cute one that looks like a giant guinea pig... ask William. He knows!)

Thunder storm on the Nullarbor Plain

Penong, South Australia

Sand dunes on the ocean's edge as see from the Durant's home.

After spending a couple of days in the “Middle of Nowhere,” I can see why someone would call this part of the country home. The austere beauty and serenity of the Australian bush evokes a harmony that begs one to stop and take it all in.

Cindy and Bruce built their home in Penong fifteen years ago. Both are avid surfers, (as is their 15-year-old son, Dylan;) and the local tides, winds and ocean swells produce some of the best surfing in South Australia. The beaches are just minutes from their property and the view of the ocean and sand dunes from their 7,000 acres provides an unmatched panorama.

Beautiful vistas from every angle...

Cindy & Bruce's dog, Billy, and I enjoying a morning walk on the property. Billy's spotted the kanagroos... full-time residents to this area.
For more images from Penong, click the link above.

Cindy and a recent glass creation... it will be 'slumped' into the shape of a vessel in it's final firing.

Cindy is an accomplished glass artist who works from her studios on their property. I met Cindy at Haystack Mountain School on Deer Isle (Me.) last August, where we attended a glass bead making class together.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Enroute to Ceduna

For several miles in distance I could see a dust cloud swirling on the horizon. I first I thought it must be a small twister or wind storm, but it remained consistant in size and location; maybe a farmer dragging a cultivator? (The soil is so dry, yet the grain farmers till and plant in anticipation of the coming rain.)

As I approached closer to the dust cloud, I realized the source: a genuine sheep drive, complete with ranch hands on horse back, (and a couple on Honda ATVs!) I asked one of the riders, as she drew near, where they were going... "To be sheared," she said. "Yippee aye ooh!" I replied. (O.K., I didn't really say that, but the thought was going through my head.)


Duhhh..... For almost three months, I've been doing kilometer to miles conversions in my head in order to calculate how long it's going to take me to get to a destination. I multiply the kms. by 6, move the decimal point and add a fudge factor of 2% of the resulting mile figure. Then I have to convert my speed, from kms./hr. to mi./hr.; then divide the miles per hour I'm traveling by the distance in miles to my destination.

Today, I had an epiphany... I don't HAVE to do the math. I just have to think in kilometers per hour instead of miles. So if it's 443 km. to Ceduna and I'm traveling 110 km/hr. it will take me four hours to get there! Brilliant, huh? (And, to think it only took me a short three months to figure this out...!)

Sunrise over Penong

Saturday, April 18, 2009

4,110 Km... (Sydney to Perth)

Setset in South Australia.
I know it looks fake, but I only 'tweaked' it a tiny bit. Honestly. :-)

Are you familiar with the phrase: "... the middle of nowhere." *
Well, I should be there shortly after midday. :-)

After investigating travel options for getting to Penong, SA to visit my friend, Cindy, I contracted with a caravan rental company to deliver a hi-top van to Australia's west coast. I'm currently driving from Sydney to Perth. (In the States, it would be similar to driving from Atlanta, GA to San Diego, CA; only with more exotic 'road kill.') Use of the van is FREE, however, considering the cost of petrol ($1.22/liter,) I'm not sure if driving is advantageous to flying. At least I'm getting an up close and personal view of the outback!

I've got nine days to make the 4,000+ km trip. It should take me four or five days to reach Perth; that leaves me several days to visit Penong, population: 215! (A suburb of ... "the Middle of Nowhere.")

I wonder if my AAA Emergency Road Service membership covers me in Australia?!?

*Note to Abby:
"the-Middle-of-Nowhere" is exactly like "East-Poedunk-Yip-Yip" but with no people.

Wild emus foraging in a harvested grain field.

Sydney (and Me)...

TITLE: "Harbour Bridge with Ubiquitous Tourist"

TITLE: "What does this little button do again?"

TITLE: "3 for $6"

TITLE: "Modern Art that's... well... um... modern?!?"

TITLE: "Ubiquitous Tourist (again) with a View."

Thanks to my Sydney guide, Sharleen, for the great tour and awesome pics of the city.

I promise, I will listen to you next time and... "Get out of the way!!"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sydney, Darling Harbor

Monday, April 13, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sydney Harborscapes...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Easter.... Bunny.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 3, 2009


Close supervision of Hospital Volunteers is important... but, this close?!?

Day three at the wildlife hospital was a workout... on top of having to clean the koala enclosures in my building, "Burrenbong," on my own, I opened my big mouth and volunteered to do an afternoon feeding. This was my first time with these patients, so, of course, I needed close supervision. And my new supervisor, Lorie, was a stickler for detail, she road me pretty hard until I got everything just right. That'll teach me to speak up for a new project.... I've learned my lesson!

Are you cozy up there, Lorie? Let me know if this is
enough water for your bath, OK?

You know... that's a very good look on you, Lorie. 'Tie-dyed' is in right now!

It was pretty dark in their enclosure and I didn't want to use a flash so the photos are grainy, but you get the picture... They are sooooo colorful and friendly and affectionate. During the Bird Show at the zoo, a group of lories is released into the stadium. They fly in unison, circling the crowd; darting around and flying inches from the audience's heads while making a complete racket. After a couple of laps of the crowd, they fly back into their cage. Smart birds.

These lories have a beak and feather disease which is contagious. They are part of a study being done at the hospital. They really are this bright; I have not saturated the color on these images. In fact, they look even richer in person.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Meet Cody...

Meet Cody, a full-grown male koala and a permanent resident at the Australia Wildlife Hospital. When Cody was a young joey, his mum and he were in an accident and he injured one of his hind legs. It was amputated and he's fine now, but the staff felt it would be too difficult for him to maneuver safely in the trees so he's been at the hospital ever since.

He enjoys getting hugs, but in an effort to keep him as 'wild' as possible, his 'hug time' is restricted to when he's getting a check-up by the staff. Today was his turn for a weight check and assessment so the vet nurse asked me if I wanted to bring him in; and in the process, get a really good hug from Cody! :-) Of course, I said, Yes!

As you can see, I was drenched. It poured today with some flooding on the property and elsewhere. I work under cover for the most part, but the enclosures are open to the elements on the sides. (See pic below.) So, after lunch I completely changed my clothes... that's one advantage to having mobile accommodations.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sulpher-crested Cockatoo... (Hello?)

Some little birds were making a bit too much noise... my friend here, is telling them, in 'longshoremen's terms,' to pipe down!

Every day after work, I stop by this sulpher-crested cockatoo's cage and say "hello!" He can say, 'hello;' but, I can't teach him to say it while I'm making eye contact with him. I've been trying at least once or twice a day for almost three weeks now. No fooling!!

I bring a piece of sweet potato, sit on the wooden bench in front of his outdoor cage, and get his attention with a 'hello!' He perks up, ruffles his feathers, bobs his head, comes closer to my side of the cage and sticks his head out so I can give him a scratch. All the while, I'm saying the 'trigger' word: 'hello!" He says nothing... not a peep. He can see that I have a treat for him, but no way... However, the second I turn my back to leave, he chirps "Hello" loud and clear! I've never seen him say it, but he'll say it everytime I turn my back.

I'm getting frusterated... I think he's mocking me. :-( (Or is he training me?!?) Did you know cockatoos have the mental capacity of a 2-3 year old child? And they can live to be 80-years old - it's like living with the 'terrible-twos' forever!

Orphaned Koala..

The little joeys are the best. :-) There are a few of them that were orphaned when their Mom was hit by a car or otherwise hurt. We keep them in a special enclosure until they are big enough to make it on and then they are released within a few miles of where they were found. (Koalas are territorial.)

After lunch the 'leaf guys,' 'leaf-out' all the enclosures and bring in new 'browse!' That's the time of day the koala's look forward to the most. Koalas only eat eucalypus leaves... but there are over 600 species of eucalyptic trees! And of those, there are twenty-some varieties that the koalas eat... big leaves, little leaves, blueish leaves, etc.; each enjoying different favorites. The local name for any one of the species is 'gum tree' - that covers all 600+ species!