Monthly Archives: September 2014

Bird watching in Canberra

Bird watching in Canberra

Yellow-crested white cockatoo perched on a bar against a blue sky

It’s nearly the end of September, and I’ve only got one post up. One! I have no excuse, either – I had good wifi, plenty of time, plenty of things to write about – in fact, too many. I’m getting a bit frozen trying to figure out how to give you a fair treatment of any of these places, as there’s so much to say.

Red and blue parrot in the bare branches of a tree

Flicking through my photos, I realised that I took more photos of birds than anything else in Australia. I was so impressed by how many different brightly coloured birds there were everywhere, particularly because species that are really exotic pets in the UK are more common than sparrows down under.

Three yellow-crested white cockatoos on the grass

Yellow-crested cockatoos are incredibly common. We saw dozens of flocks of dozens of birds. They’re pretty noisy, too, so the locals aren’t so fond of them as I was.

spike pigeon

I took all these photos wandering around Canberra. It’s an incredibly green city, particularly given that it’s the nation’s capital. The original plan was to integrate the city with the natural environment, and I think it’s worked pretty well. It’s called the bush capital, which seems fair enough when you can see kangaroos and galahs within a few hundred meters of the parliament.

pink parrot

After leaving New Zealand, we had a bit of a stop-and-go tour of south eastern Australia. We had a few days in Sydney, where we celebrated our 10th anniversary and had a proper Aussie BBQ with friends. Then off to Canberra, where my rellies generously hosted us for 2 weeks, taking us to great restaurants and lots of tourist stuff too. A few days at the coast, and a final hop (8h by bus and train) to Melbourne to see my cousin and suddenly our the Australian leg of our journey was over.

Green parrot against green grass

We flew to Bali a couple of days ago, and although we’ve got plenty of trip left (just over a month) it feels like we’re heading home. We’ll be travelling mostly overland through bits of South East Asia, then flying back to Europe in time for my birthday in November.

Home sweet home-away-from-home

Home sweet home-away-from-home

I started this blog post a couple of days after we arrived in New Zealand. Here’s how far I got in the last almost 3 weeks:

We’re in New Zealand and it is BRILLIANT. Really, it is ALL CAPS good.

It turns out that if you’re staying in a campervan (we are!) driving around a lot (we are!) and freedom camping (cheap and legal, hurray NZ) you don’t get much online time. Sorry guys! I have lots of thoughts I want to share about this part of the trip, but in the interests of posting at all before we leave, I’ll hang fire. Instead, here are 6 pictures that show some of the things I love about this part of our trip.

1. The van

White campervan under a rainbow

I’m not going to pretend it’s perfect, but it’s great to be back on wheels again. I was really stoked to try campervan life, after the caravan (trailer, for the Americans). It’s been a brilliant way to get about and has meant we could afford food and petrol (not much else though, first world prices are a bit of a shock after Vietnam).

2. The beaches

Long sandy beach with islands in the distance, sun and clouds in the sky

Even I’m not quite mad enough to swim when the air is below 10C and I’ve no hot shower (otherwise, sure, obvs), but they are thrillingly gorgeous. And everywhere.

3. Doing random stuff with K

K and I in front of a sign that says welcome to cambridge town centre

It’s a little hard to explain to other people (sane, rational people with jobs and mortgages and whatnot) why we’re on this trip, or why we’re going so far out of our way to do a particular thing. The only real answer is ‘because we want to’. We’re having a lot of fun, even if it seems a bit mad!

4. Geography

Sun is behind a mountain with hot spring steam in the foreground

This one’s a bit of a cheat because there’s a sunset and a volcano and a hot spring and a public park in there. Anyway, I’m enjoying all the geography they’ve got here!

5. Skiing

Ski slopes in the foreground with a brown and green valley and distant peaks

Skiing in August! The snow was good and I was enormously entertained by the piste names. We skiied ‘The M1′ and ‘Ego Alley’ and ‘Greengates’ among others. Oh, and you know those bits of just-off-the-piste that everyone skis? Yeah, here they name them and stick a black diamond on them. Random.

6. Bird watching

A black bird perched on a beige cliff face

I know, I know: it’s not a penguin or a kiwi. (We did see penguins. I’ll let K tell you about those since he’s still hugely excited by them!) I’m really enjoying all the wild birds we’ve seen around. I know that New Zealand is famous for ‘drab, ground dwelling and dull’ birds but we’ve seen lots of really fun ones. One fantail followed us half way home, and a green one gave us a full concert clearly inspired by a fax-modem combo! It’s bizarre to look at the rest of the wildlife (bats are the only indigenous mammals, e.g.) & plants and realise just how much of an impact humans have had in the last 200 years. More on that another time – the library closes soon!