Red Centre

My dad was in town from the US recently, and we decided to do a trip to see ‘the Outback’. We flew into Alice Springs, did the 400+km road trip to Uluru (Ayers Rock), and then drove back.

Uluru is a singular place, by which I mean it’s like nowhere else I’ve ever been. Usually when you travel somewhere, someone will say, ‘this looks a lot like…’ Not here. It is breathtaking though.

The other side of the National Park is Kata-Tjuta, which is equally stunning but much less heavily trafficked. It gives the impression of a barely terraformed Mars.

These sandstone formations are the remnants of a 500 million year old sea that used to cover the middle of what is now Australia. Over time the seafloor was compressed, tilted, and uplifted, and eventually the softer rocks were washed away, leaving behind this spectacular landscape. The places are also extremely significant to the local Anangu people, who are the owners of the land which is currently leased by the National Park, and who are kind enough to let us visit some of their sacred places.

See more at: https://parksaustralia.gov.au/uluru/people-and-place.html

As always, the photos barely do justice. It’s somewhere you really need to come see for yourself.

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Hunter Valley

This weekend K and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary in the Hunter Valley, Australia’s oldest wine growing region. It is just a two hour drive (give or take) if you don’t stop on the way, but of course we did, as there are also some great beaches in the Central Coast region. It was deeply relaxing and enjoyable, and the wines were excellent. The hunter is hotter than the Canberra region, and more humid than the Barossa, so the wines have their own distinctive style.

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Semillon is one of the major white grapes, along with Verdelho. The Semillons from Hunter Valley have nice herb and mineral notes, and apparently can be aged for 5-10 years, during which time they develop, among other flavours, “toast”. The reds are, like everywhere else in Australia, pretty much defined by Shiraz, Shiraz, Shiraz. Though we also had a good Merlot, apparently a challenging grape to grow if the soils aren’t just so.

Also K made some friends on our trip.

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We went to the moon!

Hi everyone, if you’re wondering what Karen and I did last weekend, we were “Welcomed to the Moon.”

It’s the Sydney Fringe Festival this month, and while we won’t get to go to as many shows as we like, this one was fun. It involved puns, a murder mystery, and fun singing and dancing (including a great love song to a chicken kebab).

http://fringecomedy.com.au/single-event?show_id=1057

 

Wild. Life.

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Those of you who have been following our adventures for a while know that we love our Aussie wildlife. Even though we’ve moved to the big city, we still get plenty of close encounters. We don’t have Tidbinbilla in our backyard anymore, but Royal National Park is pretty darn good.

We also see plenty of wildlife thanks to K’s new job. In the past couple of months, we’ve gotten to release a couple of birds that have been nursed back to health into the wild. It’s like Pok√©mon, but in reverse. Gotta send ’em all back to the wild.

The first was a Tawny Frogmouth. We didn’t manage to get a picture of it, but the normally silent bird did call me all kinds of nasty things when I picked it up to let it fly off into the night. Frogmouths, when upset, sound like Fizzgig from the Dark Crystal.

The second one we got to release is the fine specimen of kookaburra pictured above. Kookaburras, normally so raucous, remain quite calm when handled. It perched on my finger for a second, had a look around, and then flew off to the nearest gum tree. We love their confident little smirks.

And of course it’s not all sick or injured wildlife here in Sydney. Our neighbourhood has its share of SPACE ALIENS.

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Well, brushtailed and ring-tailed possums. But being nocturnal, they can be tough to photograph.

So while we aren’t surrounded by roos and emus anymore, there is still plenty of endemic wildlife to keep us interested. Oh, and flying foxes. There are so many flying foxes in Sydney.