Over the Xmas break, we will be making an Outback road trip to Lake Mungo. Road trips to remote areas over the Xmas break are fabulous as planes during this time are best avoided. Lake Mungo is a dry lake in the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area of southwestern New South Wales, Australia. It is a place of great cultural and scientific significance, as it has provided evidence of human occupation and environmental change dating back over 50,000 years.
The area around Lake Mungo was first occupied by Indigenous Australians, who left behind a rich cultural and spiritual legacy. The lake was once a large, shallow body of water with a complex system of creeks, swamps, and wetlands. It was an important resource for the local Indigenous people, who used it for hunting, fishing, and gathering food and water.
In the 1960s, geologists studying the lake made a series of groundbreaking discoveries that would change our understanding of human history. The most significant was the discovery of the remains of Mungo Man, a human male who lived around 40,000 years ago. His remains, found in 1968, were Australia’s oldest known human remains. Mungo Man’s remains, along with those of Mungo Lady (a female discovered in 1974), have provided valuable insights into the physical and cultural adaptations of early humans in Australia.
Another important discovery at Lake Mungo was the uncovering of the lunette, a crescent-shaped dune that surrounds the lake. The lunette contains evidence of human activity, including tools, weapons, and other artefacts over thousands of years. It also contains evidence of the changing climate and environment of the region, including shifts in vegetation and animal populations.
Anyhow, a great place to visit over Xmas (and better than the beach!)
The Bay of Fires in Tasmania is a breathtaking destination located on the east coast of Tasmania not far from St Helens. The Bay of Fires is known for its crystal clear waters, pristine beaches, and orange-hued boulders that line the shore.
As soon as we arrived, we were struck by the natural beauty of the area. The turquoise waters of the bay, and the white sand beaches stretched out for as far as the eye could see. The only bad thing is the suburban type of holiday houses, very different to the St Helens I visited as a child.
We decided to start our trip by hiking along the Bay of Fires Conservation Area, which runs along the coast for about 50 kilometers. There are a number of trails that takes you through eucalyptus forests and past secluded beaches.
One of the highlights was walking the Cosy Corner short hike along the beach through the crystal clear waters and soaking up the La Niña sun.
In the evenings, we set up camp at a deserted campsites next to a secluded beach. There are several campsites to choose from, each with its own amenities such as toilets and barbecue areas and some with none (like ours). We enjoyed cooking dinner and watching the sunset over the fiery rocks.
Our trip to the Bay of Fires was a memorable experience, the accessible natural beauty of the area is sublime, and we can’t wait to go back and explore more of Tasmania which I have been doing for a lifetime (and we will be doing the Overland Track in February). If you’re planning a trip to Tasmania, be sure to check out the Bay of Fires.
After spending many years travelling far afield, in the past few years, I have been closer to home on week-long road trips or weekends on the moto. Australia is comfy to travel in (despite the mythology); there is usually somewhere to eat and buy petrol (but please, never in the same place). Plus, there is an abundance of supermarkets, rustic park tables, or rambling pubs with noisy air conditioning and immense parmigiana.
We drove a 7-day road trip through Victoria along the coast and into the mountains in August. The first stop was Tidal River in Wilsons’ Promontory National Park. Located just over four hours from Melbourne, Tidal River is an excellent place to escape the city for some speccy nature. The area is home to various hiking trails, ranging from easy walks along the beach to more challenging multi-day hikes.
After exploring Tidal River, we went to Emu Bight Camping Area in Lakes Entrance. The deserted campsite was full of animals, including kangaroos, wombats, and cockatoos but no humans, which is how it should be.
From Lakes Entrance, the next destination was Mallacoota, a small coastal town just a few hours away. Mallacoota is known for its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, making it the perfect place to swim, surf, or relax in the sun. In addition to the beach, Mallacoota is also home to a variety of wildlife, including kangaroos, wallabies, and weird birds.
From Mallacoota, we made our way to Ensay, a small town in Victoria’s Alps. Ensay is known for its stunning scenery and outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and a fab art deco pub, now an art gallery.
Finally, we made our way to Bright, located in the foothills of the Victorian Alps along the stunning Great Alpine Road. Bright is known for its local breweries and wineries, making it the perfect place to chill and sample craft beers, and it has a lot of great places to stay. We stayed in a cabin by the river and then went to Mount Buffalo before the long drive back to Melbourne.
Bangkok and Ko Samet are two destinations in Thailand that offer a balance of city and beach life. Our trip to Bangkok and Ko Samet was pretty special, the first time out of Australia in a couple of parochial years.
We started our trip in Bangkok, the scruffy capital city of Thailand. There is so much to see and do in Bangkok, and we spent our days exploring the city’s many temples, markets, and street food stalls. One of the highlights of our trip was visiting the Grand Palace, a stunning complex of ornately decorated buildings that is home to the Emerald Buddha.
After a few days in the city, we headed to the island of Ko Samet, which is located just a few hours’ bus ride from Bangkok. Ko Samet is a lesser known island, mostly visited by Thais as its proximity to Bangkok makes it easy for a weekend trip . We spent a few days lounging on the tourist-free beaches, swimming in the clear waters, and exploring the island’s many food places on a beat-up moto.
In the evenings, we returned to our deserted private beach villa and enjoyed beers on the patio, watching the sunset over the beach. There are a lot less people travelling to Thailand at the mo so there are plentiful placed to stay at inexpensive prices (we rented a hut on the rocks at the end of the beach).
Our trip to Bangkok and Ko Samet was the perfect blend of city and beach life and if you’re looking to explore the vibrant culture of Bangkok or relax on the beach, then Ko Samet if a good option (the bus and ferry there is pretty easy, like most things in Thailand).
The Great Ocean Walk is a hiking trail in Victoria, Australia. Stretching for 100 kilometres along the dramatic coastline of the Great Ocean Road, this 8-day hike offers breathtaking views of the southern ocean and the opportunity to explore some beautiful and diverse landscapes.
The walk begins in the town of Apollo Bay and takes you along the coast, passing through various landscapes, including beaches, cliffs, forests, and wetlands. Along the way, you can spot various wildlife, including kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and bird species.
One of the highlights of the Great Ocean Walk is the Twelve Apostles, a series of limestone stacks that rise out of the ocean. These ancient formations, formed over millions of years, are pretty cool; however, we didn’t have enough time to do the whole trip and see them as we only had five days, so we bailed halfway (and got a taxi back to Apollo Bay).
The trail is well-maintained and marked, and several shorter loops and side trails allow you to customize your trip or simply do a segment of the long hike as we did. If you are considering hiking the Great Ocean Walk, planning ahead and coming prepared is essential. The trail can be unforgiving, with steep inclines and uneven terrain (and it is so very long). It is also important to pack plenty of water and food, as there are almost no places to restock food along the way.
The Great Ocean Walk is an incredible experience; from its natural beauty to its physical challenges, this hike is one of the best in Victoria (and there weren’t many people doing it when we went). Whether you tackle the entire trail or take your time and explore over a longer or shorter period, the Great Ocean Walk will always be good (and carry your own pack and camp, don’t be lazy).
I spend the past week doing the Menindee Lakes and Darling River run in the New South Wales Outback. It was my first serious Outback sojourn on the moto, but it wasn’t that serious, there are many other significant tracks to explore in Australia, but that would take another whole level of preparation, including expensive mods on the moto (and proper Outback tyres!)
The good thing about exploring NSW Outback currently is that it is relatively cool, there is lots of water about, and the Menindee Lakes are full, as are the rivers and wetlands. This is because of La Nina, the ‘big rain’ that comes after long dry periods. And with the big rain, come the birds and the wildlife and Outback becomes almost hospitable.
I stayed in Menindee for one night, camped on a beach next to one of the magnificent lakes. The best thing about Outback towns is the proud, worldly pub, such an important institution, and this is where I learned about the best roads to take and the best towns to visit.
I decided to do the Darling River Run, a 1000 KMS Outback road that follows the Darling River to Bourke and beyond. Outback roads have a volatile personality and can change at any time, lurching from calm to belligerent, from serene to egocentric. The road itself is an A-B type of road, and there is also no intersection with the river, only at the towns, which I found disappointing. Still, at ‘towns’ like Tilpa (one of the most isolated places I have ever been), there is a friendly Outback pub and plenty of places to camp on the river, as there are in other towns like Louth and Wilkania.
I think the thing I liked best about this trip was ‘nothing’, the vast panes of nothingness and solitude, which is unique in an epoch when it is difficult to be alone.