H…

Hobart, the capital city of  beautiful Tasmania, was the first thing that popped into my head when I thought of the letter H. We visited there in 2013 when my husband took part in the Three Peaks Race and though we only spent a short time there we really liked the city and Tasmania and would love to go back for a longer visit. Hobart, being a city with a European feel and the backdrop of a mountain, reminded me a lot of Cape Town.

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View of Hobart and Mount Wellington

Speaking of Cape Town: H is also for Hout Bay near Cape Town, a beautiful little town where we used to go for fresh fish and chips sometimes.

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Hout Bay near Cape Town (visible to the right of the photo)

Closer to home Hillarys Boat Harbour is a lovely marina with shops and restaurants about 20 kilometres north of Perth which I’m fortunate to call my place of work.

Reading HesterLeyNel’s post on F made me think of the hermit crabs on Broome’s Cable Beach in north west Australia. The crabs dig up tiny, round little balls of sand and deposit them around their holes all over the beach. Our kids used to play with the crabs but I find the little balls of sand fascinating, especially as you walk over them, giving your feet  a massage.

Still in Broome, I was very lucky to go on a helicopter ride a few years ago. Spectacular views of the ocean and coastline there made me want to go for more and more helicopter rides.

Finally, back home, I love my herb garden and being able to walk outside and pick fresh herbs.

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Herb garden

G…

G is for Gnowangerup, a small town close to the Stirling Ranges in south west Australia. I love the street art in the town depicting what the community is about. G also stands for the Gamsberg Pass, a very scenic pass on the edge of the Namib desert.

G is also for grass trees, guavas, garden and growing things, especially edible things.

Galahs are cockatoos that are widespread throughout most parts of Australia. G also stands for the Grey Go-away bird (an African bird) and the Golden Whistler.

E…

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).

C…

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.

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The Namib desert taken from the top of the Spreetshoogte Pass

 

B…

B is for Busselton in southwest Australia where we go for Ironman triathlon events, Broome in northwest Australia, home of the highly sought after Australian South Sea pearls, Bridgetown, a beautiful little town in southwest Australia, Beauty Point in Tasmania where the Three Peaks race started from, Batman bridge in Tasmania, Billabong, which means a branch of a river that forms a backwater or stagnant pool – a roadhouse in northwest Australia and the popular surf related clothing brand – and Bremer Bay, a popular holiday spot on the south coast of Western Australia.

B is also for Bali in Indonesia where we went on holiday once, Burj al Arab in Dubai, Buller Gorge in New Zealand where we went and my husband ran the marathon, Bougainvillea, Bay trees, bicycle and bike racks, bees, my beloved horse Belle who I unfortunately only get to see and ride every few years, barbecues or as they’re called in South Africa: a braai and of course one of the most important things in the Aussie lifestyle: the beach.

Part of the April A to Z Challenge.

A to Z Challenge: A

My first entry for the April A to Z Challenge. A is for Australia, the country we call home, and Africa, the continent of our birth. Also for Afrikaans, my mother tongue, Albany (a scenic town in the southwest of Australia), Australind (another town in southwest Australia, this one where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet), Anzacs (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps in WW1), Arabia, Abra (water taxi) and art.

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).

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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.

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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.

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Rainbow at Bluff Knoll carpark

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Bluff Knoll amongst the clouds

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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.

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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.