J is for jetty, joey and jigsaw puzzles.

The Busselton jetty in south west Australia is the longest wooden piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere at 1841 metres long. It used to be a working jetty but is now used solely for tourism and recreational purposes. An underwater observatory has been built at the end of the jetty, giving patrons the opportunity to view fish and other marine life in their natural environment.

The Swakopmund jetty is also an icon in this Namibian town with its own rich history as it juts out into the Atlantic ocean with its big swells.

I have to mention the jetty (or rather remains thereof) at Maud’s Landing just north of Coral Bay in north west Australia, where the Ningaloo Reef is. It’s one of our favourite holiday destinations and the colour of the water really looks like this:


Remains of the jetty at Maud’s Landing north of Coral Bay, WA

A joey is a juvenile kangaroo. I haven’t been lucky enough to get a photo of one in its mum’s pouch. This one is slightly older:


A little joey next to the boardwalk in the caravan park at Coral Bay

And finally: jigsaw puzzles. Child No 3 is the best in our house at doing jigsaw puzzles. She has the most patience and perseverance and can spot a piece and its intended place with eagle-eye efficiency.


One of the 2000 piece jigsaw puzzles Child No 3 has completed


E is for Esperance, around 800 kilometres south east of Perth in Western Australia, at the edge of the wheat belt with beautiful clear, crisp Southern Ocean beaches. Exmouth lies around 1400 kilometres north of Perth at the northern tip of the Ningaloo (coral) reef.

E is also for Etosha National Park, Namibia’s largest game reserve which was made famous by the Etosha (which means “great white place”) pan.

Eucalyptus trees are native to Australia, and there are numerous different species. Emus are large Australian non-flying birds and Echidnas are mammals that lay eggs (otherwise known as monotremes).


D is for Denmark (the town in southwest Australia in this case) a popular spot where river and forest meet the ocean and for Dwellingup, a historic and charming town situated amongst jarrah forests south of Perth. The Bibbulmun track – a nearly 1000 kilometre long walk trail – passes through Dwellingup.

D is also for dingo, an Australian wild dog. Some are bred and kept as pets and are very loving animals. On a similar note, d is for dog and dog beach.


C is for Cape Town, South Africa, where I was born and raised. As a child we sometimes went on Sunday afternoon drives around the Cape Peninsula past Camps Bay and over Chapmans Peak Drive. It also stands for Coral Bay, one of our favourite holiday destinations, Canberra, the capital city of Australia and Cape Foulwind, an extremely windy place in New Zealand.

Camping is our favourite way to enjoy holidays. C is also for Corella, a white parrot, Chameleon, Camel and camel bells.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Landscape

This week’s photo challenge is to share a shot of a landscape – in nature or an urban setting. My first thought was about a magical scene that unfolded in front of our eyes. On our last trip through the Namib desert two years ago we travelled along a gravel road we hadn’t driven before but was recommended to us by my brother-in-law. It took us along and up the plateau and then suddenly, at the edge of the escarpment, the sweeping vista opened up and the Namib desert lay in front of us in all its splendour, as far as the eye could see.

It’s hard to do the beauty of this landscape justice with a photo. Partly because it’s more beautiful than the photo shows and partly because there’s no indication of what lies ahead as you’re travelling along until you’re suddenly surprised with this breathtaking view, almost like the reveal of a most wondrous work of art to an unsuspecting audience.


The Namib desert taken from the top of the Spreetshoogte Pass


Weekly Photo Challenge: Half-Light (2)

I couldn’t resist doing a second entry for this week’s photo challenge.

These photos were all taken in the half-light of dawn at Denmark in southwest Australia. I got up early one morning to watch the sunrise but was instead treated to a light show of a different kind.

The Gamble

My husband is one of the most optimistic people I know. Optimistic to the point (in my mind) of sometimes being a bit unrealistic. I, on the other hand, like to think I’m realistic and try to put a positive spin on things, but in his mind I foresee too many problems. Problems that will likely, according to him, never occur. Well, put it this way: I like to be prepared.

We went bush camping again the other day and, same as last year, we had the weather debate. According to the forecast there was a 50% chance of showers in that area. The thing is, a weather forecast is a relative thing. 50% in one area might not be the same as 50% somewhere else. In this particular area our past experience has been that if there is rain being forecast (no matter how small the chance), it will rain there. Well, that’s my assessment but my husband kept saying: “There’s only a 50% chance. That means there’s a 50% chance that it won’t rain.” And so we debated this point as we were driving along.

When we left Perth the skies were blue with not a cloud in sight. After about an hour and a half of driving it started clouding over and not long after that I was taking photos on my phone of the rain on the windscreen as we were driving. I went quiet (not wanting to be “too realistic”) and my husband glanced at me sideways, nervously. “It will clear up” he said.

It went on like this for a little while, with no sign of the rain abating. Ironman asked me if I regretted coming. Looking at the heavy, grey clouds I said: “No, but I did come against my better judgement” (teen my beterwete, in Afrikaans). (He latched onto that saying and used it over and over the entire weekend, teen my beterwete.)

The realist in me didn’t like camping in the rain when the kids were little, because there’s only so much you can do with toddlers couped up inside a tent when it’s pouring with rain outside. As the kids got older it wasn’t an issue anymore and I find it quite cosy when we’re inside our tent-house while it’s raining. As long as there are no tent malfunctions. Camping with swags in the rain is a bit of a different story though. (A swag is like a bedroll and a mini one man tent all in one. It’s set up like a tent, only much faster, and you get in and out at the top.) I absolutely love sleeping in a swag, when it’s not raining. You can sleep with the top zipped open under the stars. It always reminds me of a TV show I used to watch as a child. Afrikaans readers who grew up in the ‘70’s will remember Liewe Heksie (Dear Kind Little Witch) and her sterretjieskombuis (starry kitchen).


Our swags

Anyway, we arrived at our camp site and it was still raining. We walked around looking for a spot to set up our swags and saw evidence of flooding all around us. I was doing my best to swallow my beterwete at this stage, hoping the weather would be better the following day. We’d come all that way, after all. We waited for a break in the rain and set up the swags. When we were just about done (that is after five minutes) it started raining again so we headed back to the campers’ kitchen, Ironman went mountain biking and I read my book. It pretty much rained the most of the day. I would call that a 50% chance of showers in the event there are clouds. And there were plenty of clouds.


Lichen on the rocks at our camp site (evidence of much rain in the area)

It rained through the night, thankfully not very heavily, and we stayed dry inside our swags. By the following morning there were a few fleeting glimpses of blue sky and we decided to go for a hike. We know this hike quite well and the path is clearly marked so even if it’s overcast it wouldn’t be dangerous. Driving up to the car park we were lucky enough to see a full rainbow over the valley. I got out the car to take a photo and the howling wind made me want to change my mind about the hike, but my ever optimistic husband said: “Let’s go, it will be better once we’re closer to the mountain”. Against my better judgement again, we set off. Clouds came billowing down the mountain at great speed as the wind pushed them along, and then dispersed slightly but we were never able to see the summit. It wasn’t raining until later and we were treated to a beautiful hike in conditions we would normally stay indoors for. The path was wet and there were tiny rivulets of water running everywhere. Droplets were hanging off leaves and flowers and we were surprised by the number of people who were out there. In the end the clouds succumbed and the little drizzle that had started turned into full-on rain that wouldn’t stop. My husband didn’t have a rain jacket with him (there was only a 50% chance of showers) and was getting wet through so we decided to call it a day and turned back. We both enjoyed that hike so much, even though the conditions were less than perfect. We saw and experienced things we wouldn’t see in bright sunlight, and there’s something almost therapeutic about walking in the rain like that.


Rainbow at Bluff Knoll carpark


Bluff Knoll amongst the clouds


More rainbows (a double one this time) on our way down Bluff Knoll

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Droplets of water everywhere

Late in the afternoon the rain cleared up  and I got spoilt with a clear night and stars abundant when I got in my swag. Magical. It’s a sight I’ll never tire of. As we neared Perth the next day the skies were blue again and my husband piped up: “So are you happy you went then, against your better judgement?” with a teasing look in his eye. I knew where he was going with this and replied: ”Yes, but you’re lucky the weather didn’t get worse”. “I knew it wouldn’t”, he said, “there was only ever a 50% chance of showers”. “It was a gamble”, I replied with a smile, “and you’re lucky that it paid off”. “No it wasn’t a gamble” and so it went on and gets retold every time we’re asked about the weekend.


Bluff Knoll the following day

I suppose the same can be said for most things in life. Some of us are more realistic and others are very optimistic but sometimes it’s worth taking that gamble. You never know what surprises might lie in wait if you do.

Vakansie in Denmark

(Apologies to non-Afrikaans readers.)

Geskryf na aanleiding van Scrapydo2 se Toeka-Tokkel oor vakansie.

Ons vakansiebestemming hierdie somer was Denmark, ‘n klein dorpie in suidwes Australië, 420 kilometer suid van Perth. (Die dorpie is vernoem na dr Alexander Denmark en die naam het niks te doen met die land met dieselfde naam nie.) Dis gelëe op die Denmark rivier wat uitvloei in die Wilson “inlet”, ‘n 14 kilometer lang en 4 kilometer wye meer wat uitmond in die Suidelike Oseaan.


Uitsig oor Ocean Beach en die monding van die Wilson Inlet

Ons is lief daarvoor om te kamp en in die warmer maande verkies ons om suid te gaan en in die koeler maande gaan soek ons die warmer weer in die noorde. Daar’s ‘n paar karavaanparke in Denmark. Van hulle is in die dorp, ander is langs die rivier maar ons verkies die een wat buite die dorp langs die meer en naby die see is. Daar is baie gras en bome en lekker groot bome rondom die karavaanpark. Vroeg in die oggend hoor jy die voëls sing en die kookaburras lag.


Green’s Pool, ‘n pragtige beskutte strand naby Denmark

Daar is geweldig baie om te doen daar rond. Daar is talle strande met pragtige skoon, wit sand en helder blou water. Wanneer ‘n mens die dag nie lus is vir see toe gaan nie kan jy kano ry op die meer of die rivier. Die eeue oue woude in die omgewing bied ‘n groot verskeidenheid van uitstekende staproetes. Of as jy minder avontuurlustig voel kan jy deur die dorpie met sy interressante winkeltjies drentel en stop vir ‘n rustige koppie koffie in een van die koffiewinkels. Daar is ‘n paar “op shops” (winkels wat tweedehandse klere en huisraad verkoop) op die dorp en ‘n mens loop soms goeie winskopies in hierdie winkels raak. Tweedehandse winkels is deel van die Australiese kultuur en mense trek nie hulle neuse daarvoor op nie. ‘n Mens kan baie goeie klere teen ‘n fraksie van die prys hier kry as jy bereid is om ‘n bietjie te snuffel. Die “Valley of the Giants” (‘n vallei met massiewe ou “red tingle” bome) en die “Treetop Walk” (‘n staalkonstruksie waarop ‘n mens hoog bo die woudvloer loop vir omtrent 600 meter, en waarvan die hoogste punt omtrent 40 meter bo die grond is) is nie ver nie. Historiese Albany waar die eerste Britse nedersetting in Wes-Australië was en vanwaar die ANZAC troepe in 1914 gevaar het na die Eerste Wêreldoorlog, is so 65 kilometer na die ooste. En helaas, as nie een van hierdie jou belangstelling prikkel nie is daar wynplase en ‘n brouery nie ver daarvandaan nie.

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Uitsig na Ocean Beach en die Wilson Inlet vanaf Monkey Rock waar ons gaan stap het


‘n Baie ou “Red Tingle” boom naby Denmark


‘n Deel van die “Treetop Walk”, geneem in 2005 tydens ons eerste besoek

As kind het ons soms in die somer by Knysna langs die meer gaan kamp. Brenton-on-Lake was die karavaanpark se naam. Ek weet nie of dit nog bestaan nie. Dit was in die dae voordat die area daar rondom ontwikkel is. In my geestesoog sien ek nog die brug oor die meer na Knysna en dan draai die pad na Brenton af kort voor die brug en maak so ‘n perdeskoendraai voor die pad verby Belvidere (met ‘n pragtige ou kerkie) loop vir die laaste paar kilometer na die karavaanpark.

Die Knysna-meer is waar ek leer waterski het en die somer toe ek die ligamente in my knie twee hartverskeurende weke voor die skoolvakansie geskeur het en waterski met krukke nie ‘n opsie was nie, die wonder van “paddle ski” ontdek het. Om alleen op die water te wees in die rustigheid van die vroëe oggend is iets wat ek altyd sal onthou. ‘n Paar jaar gelede toe my man wou weet wat ek wil hê vir my 40ste verjaarsdag het ek gesê: “’n kano”, en dit gee my eindelose vreugde. Daai somer het ons ook in Denmark gekamp en ek het baie gaan roei op die rivier en in die meer. Ek was vasberade om te roei van waar ons karavaanpark was tot by die dorp – 11 kilometer. Dit was ‘n koue, grys, winderige dag en die water was alles behalwe kalm. (Dis ‘n ander ding van Denmark – net soos Knysna – kan dit in die middel van die somer soms koel raak en rëen.) Ek het net aanhou roei in die basiese rigting van die riviermonding maar kon nie te veel of te ver sien nie want die wolke het laag oor die water gehang. Ek was vasbeslote en het dit uiteindelik gemaak, omtrent twee uitmergelende ure later (ek is nie roeifiks nie), en reg om ‘n warm, vars pastei by die bakkery te gaan verorber.

Hierdie jaar het ek weer op die meer gaan roei, en dit was weer bewolk en koel maar die water was lekker kalm. Ek het gewens ek het ‘n kamera by my gehad want daar was soveel watervoëls. In een swerm het ek 88 swart swane getel, en daar was verskeie swerms. Wanneer ek naby gekom het en hulle begin bang raak en probeer wegvlieg het was dit iets om te aanskou. Dit kan nie maklik wees om daai groot liggaam met die lang uitgestrekte nek uit die water uit in die lug te kry nie, en wanneer hulle wegtrek hoor jy iets klap-klap-klap-klap op die water. Toe ek nader aandag gee (ek het eers gedink dis die vlerke wat so klap op die water) sien ek hulle hardloop op die water totdat hulle voel hulle is hoog genoeg om hulle vlerke te vertrou om hulle in die lug te hou. Dis die pote wat so klap-klap op die water. Dit was kostelik. Die pelikane het iets soortgelyk gedoen maar dit het gelyk asof hulle met altwee pote tegelyk die water “skep” terwyl hulle in die lug probeer kom.


Pelikane op ‘n eilandjie in die Wilson Inlet

Ek dink soms dat hierdie omgewing sy eie klein mikroklimaat het, so ver suid met baie rëenval en omring deur woude. Die weer was redelik koel toe ons daar was terwyl dit 35 grade was in Perth. Vier jaar gelede toe ons in die somer daar gekamp het was dit eendag 37 grade en dit het niks afgekoel later in die dag nie. Ons het piekniek gehou langs die rivier onder die bome maar toe die son begin sak het ons skaduwee begin verdwyn. Nood leer bid en op die ou end het ons almal in ‘n ry voor een van die groot bome in die skaduwee van die boomstam gesit. Die volgende dag het dit gerëen. Toe ek hierdie keer die laaste aand in die tent lê en luister na die rëen wat saggies buite val het dit my weer teruggeneem na die dae in Knysna toe die rëen so op die karavaan se dak en tent geval het. Dis die mooiste geluid (as jy snoesig en droog is). Om ‘n nat tent op te pak is egter nie soveel pret nie, en dit verg weer uitpak by die huis sodat dit behoorlik kan uitdroog, maar ons is lief vir ons tenthuisie en al die wedervaringe en herrinneringe wat ons al saam met die tent meegemaak het en wat veilig in die tent se sak weggepak word om volgende keer weer uitgehaal en herleef te word.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Treat

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Treat.”

Coffee is as much a treat for me as it is a daily essential. Especially that first cup in the morning sets the tone for the day. When we go camping I always pack a coffee filter and ground coffee to be able to have my delicious cup in the morning, and it gives me so much pleasure to sit back and start the day slowly while sipping that coffee.

Camp coffee being made at Brandberg bush camp, Namibia

Camp coffee being made at Brandberg bush camp, Namibia

If I happen to wake up to views such as these while camping and drinking my morning cup of coffee, it’s pure bliss.

Early morning at Brandberg bush camp, Namibia. A blissful start to the day: drinking coffee and taking photos.

Early morning at Brandberg bush camp, Namibia. A blissful start to the day: drinking coffee and taking photos.

The Modern Caveman

There continues to live a bit of caveman in us today, I think. The man of our house, for one, loves making a wood fire whether it’s in a fireplace or for a barbecue or simply for the sake of having a sociable ambience fire, and I love having a wood fire just as much. Staring into the flames of a cosy fire while time seems to stand still for a while is mesmerising, comforting, peaceful and very social. Nothing rushes us as we sit around a camp fire maybe with a glass of wine and life slows down for a while, bringing us back to nature and the people around us.  Television or mobile phones are superfluous, the company of the fire which has a life of its own and those around us are enough. It takes us back to a time where daily activities ended with last light and everyone would gather around the fire at night to share stories and life would slow down for a while.

The smell of a friendly wood fire triggers happy memories of sitting around a camel thorn wood camp fire whilst holidaying in Namibia, a hard wood that would burn slowly with its own particular magical smell. It’s something I’ve loved doing from my childhood days. Sometimes in Namibia in the middle of winter in freezing temperatures we sat around a camp fire at night but it was so bitterly cold that only the part of your body which faced the fire stayed warm. Every so often after you’d warmed your hands over the fire you’d have to turn around to warm your back because it would have got cold in the meantime, and so you’d continue to keep turning around every few minutes to try to keep warm. And no camp fire was complete without having toasted some sticky sweet marshmallows on sticks.

One of our camel thorn wood camp fires in Etosha, Namibia, on our last visit there

One of our camel thorn wood camp fires in Etosha, Namibia, on our last visit there

Where cavemen might have looked at the sun askance and murmured amongst each other over the weather, we now have weather apps predicting and forecasting what we can expect. We have weather stations telling us current, minimum and maximum temperatures and weather channels on TV with long-term forecasts. My husband loves weather stats, amongst others, and always updates us on the latest forecasts, especially when we’re away from home. The weather station goes along on holiday and gets moved around to different locations for different readings in an attempt to find the ideal location, such as under the front veranda of the tent or beside the tent in the shade.

Recently when we stayed at Donnelly River, an old mill village in the Southwest of Western Australia, in an old timber miller’s cottage we had the opportunity to enjoy some lovely wood fires again. Lying nestled in a little valley, the village gets colder than the surrounding area and with tall Karri trees that have grown to about 30 metres all around, the sun sets early and as soon as it does the temperature dips quickly. Our caveman was in his element when he was able to light us two fires every night – one in the fireplace and another in the old wood fired kitchen stove. Collecting the kindle and firewood supply of varying thickness was a daily activity with which Child No 3 was tasked to help dutifully every time, much the same as it would have been in years gone by and great was the joy – mine included – when the little timber cottage started heating up and in the early morning cold we’d try to warm our hands over the fire inside the old kitchen stove. We teased him over his unabated joy and pride in having made us the fires, true caveman style, but we enjoyed having those fires in equal measure.

The old wood fire kitchen stove

The old wood fired kitchen stove

A trip away wouldn’t be complete without the weather station going along though, so we had accurate temperature data all along, but it was quite entertaining when we were very proudly told the actual stats of a 0.1°C temperature increase inside the cottage not long after the fire in the old kitchen stove got going and I realised that even though we love all the temperature gages and modern gadgets that our technological age provides, deep down there still lives a bit of caveman in us, which really makes us but modern cavemen and which will hopefully live on in years to come. It’s great to take a step back sometimes and appreciate things in life that really matter, albeit with the aid of some mod cons.