Travel Vaccines and reflections of Africa – The Simien and Bale Mountains, Ethiopia

Adventure, Africa, Personal, photography

 

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If you have travelled to Africa it is most likely you would have been required to have a yellow fever vaccination – still required in many countries

I got my Yellow Card, proof of vaccination 20 years ago on my first trip to the African Continent.

Being in the Melbourne, Australia COVID 19 lockdown it is a good chance to reflect on the need for vaccination and travel and the relationship between the two.

The Simien Mountains

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The Simien Mountains are a World Heritage alpine area in the North of Ethiopia

Its also called the water tower of East Africa providing the source for the Blue Nile

The Blue Nile provides 80% of the water that reaches Egypt, flowing through Sudan where it meets with the White Nile to form the Nile River

 

With peaks up to 4,550 metres within the vast sprawling alpine range

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A range of deep gorges, rugged peaks and waterfalls plummeting thousands of metres

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The Simiens have unique flora and fauna

Such as the Giant Lobelia

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The endemic Gelada (or bleeding heart baboon) and Olive baboons

And if you look closely a Walia Ibex

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It was a three night trek through the Simiens

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Camping in the Alps

Amazing sunsets and the high plateau

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And watching the moon rise over the cliff tops from the gorges

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The Bale Mountains

The Simien Mountains are in the North East of Ethiopia and the Bale Mountains in the South East

Almost bookends at each end of the Ethiopian Central Highlands

The Simiens in the Amhara Region and the Bale in the Oromia Region

The Bale Mountains are drier less dramatic that the northern bookend

These mountains are the catchment for the Jubba River system

Which flows across Ethiopia and Somalia to the Indian Ocean

The Bale Mountains are more easily accessed than the Simiens

Far better for catching sightings of the Ethiopian Wolf

And the amazing bird life

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Also In the Bale Provence toward the Somalian Border is are the Sof Omar Caves

Its well over a decade since I travelled in these mountains with my family.

And yes a vaccine for Yellow Fever was compulsory

Maybe compulsory vaccinations will be more widespread for travellers in the future given COVID-19

Though my wings have been clipped birds of a feather flock together

Adventure, Australia, photography, travel, Victoria

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It was 2015 that I spent a full winter in Melbourne,

Australia’s southernmost mainland capital

Renowned for its cold and changable winter weather

Cold and foggy mornings lasting till noon when the weak winter sun burns the mist away.

Four seasons in one day

Was surely written about Melbourne’s weather by Crowded House

The current lockdown restricts me to my environs and luckily the local waterways

The bicycle has most of the time replaced the Moto Guzzi

So on my ride I flock together with the local waterbirds

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The Spoonbill

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The Egret

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And the hungry Pelican

They aren’t locked down but choose to enjoy what winter offers

Across town there is the beautiful Yarra Bend Park

With its early 1900’s boat house

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On the banks of the Yarra River with paths to meander along

And the Cootamundara, a beautiful winter flowering tree in full bloom

The park is on the city doorstep with beautiful views of the city

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Which makes a beautiful backdrop for my Aprilia Pegaso – my fave bike around the city

At the end of a day heading across the town and home

The St Kilda Pier runs west into the Hobsons Bay and offers spectacular views of the sunset

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Though the lock down is is hard the rules allow the opportunity to get out to exercise

That means I can revisit and appreciate some of my favourite places in my home city.

Hopefully one day soon fellow travellers you can as well.

The Mighty Breva meets the Mighty Murray in North East Victoria

Adventure, Australia, Motorbikes, photography, travel, Victoria

 

I had approached the Upper Murray from the long way around

Starting from Yarram in South Gippsland

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A small town famous for its street murals.

Its winter and the high roads over Mt Hotham and Falls Creek are closed so it was the low road

Bruthen to eskdale

A pearler of a ride from Bruthen north to the little Village of Eskdale 223 km of curves and into the Upper Murray Region.

Has to be the greatest unrecognised rides in the world.

It was damp cold and at a pass through the Alpine National Park it was 1c and my mind turned to thoughts of black ice on the road.

A cabin waited for me at the Eskdale Caravan Park

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Welcome refuge after a long wet ride

A good night sleep and onto my next destination

The Great River Road that at the bridge that connects Victoria and NSW at Hume Weir and follows the winding course of the Murray upstream to Khancoban at the base of the Kosciusko National Park.

The Road is around 180km of scenic windy road along the Murray River.

The views of the Murray are special especially if you take a bit of time and pull on into some of the river side reserves and camp grounds.

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The weather was cold but clear and not too bad for riding if you have the right gear.

But the joy of winter camping is campfires

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As the Great River Road is developed as a tourist road the is are well layed out scenic  stops with interpretation on the river and pieces of sculpture

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The camp facilities along the road are great quality. Especially at the Walwa where you can camp with great facilities and a campfire right on the banks of the river.

The road finishes at Lake Khancoban in NSW

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The scars of the recent bushfires are there, both on the landscape and in the stories of the locals

But the land and the people are resilient and signs of renewal abound

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And of course there is something  very special about a winter sunset inland

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A bit of greenery and a lucky turn in the hinterland

Adventure, Australia, Motorbikes, photography

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It was a sunny clear still winters day

The air was crispy cold as I headed out of the city and into the rural hinterland of Melbourne

As I passed over the Murchison Gap  the rich green farming land was rolling out in front of me – a sight to see

The little back roads winding through the hills and farmland beckoning

But it was a holiday weekend and the roads were slowly filling, even the back roads were starting to bulge with caravans being towed by big SUVs.  Post the Covid 19 lockdown I think all Melbournites were keen to get out of the city.

After the lovely tourist town of Marysville I was heading for the Black Spur only to hit a long line of traffic

A sign to Warburton   a quick to the left and I was on a little road through the forest

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The road soon became a gravel track

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And I was in the tall trees and giant tree ferns of the  Yarra Ranges National Park

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The surface was a little damp and slippery in places

But no traffic just the smell of the bush and a through this beautiful piece of old growth forest

Such a lucky turn, a piece of serendipity on a little days ride.

Maldon in the Central Goldfields of Victoria, Australia

Adventure, Australia, history, Motorbikes, photography, travel, Travel,adventure,Australia,Victoria,history,motorcycles,motorcycle touring,photography,words and pictures,, Victoria

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In many ways Maldon is the little town that stood still

Built in the 1860’s during the height of the Victorian Gold Rush

It remains largely unchanged

 

There is a lovely 2 hour ride to Maldon through the Central Highlands of Victoria

Past the farming and old logging towns of Greendale and Trentham

To the Spa centres of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs

The Hepburn – Newstead road is a little ripper

From Newstead perched on the Loddon River its a gentle curves and sweepers through scrubby bush to Maldon

And its Gold mining history of diggings and old gold processing building ruins

 

And like all good old country towns there is the little quirk

The little Triumph motorcycle shop.

Looking as old as the town and the Triumph Motorcycle itself

Not surprising as Maldon host the a major highlight of the annual All British Motorcycle rally

The ride from the Newstead Racecourse camp ground to Maldon

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One of my most memorable visits to Maldon was to see a round of the 2013 World Motorcycle Trials World Championships

Held on a specially designed course on the side of Mount Tarrengower

Which provides a beautiful view over Maldon

What a beautiful ride on a crisp winters day!

Apollo Bay to Port Campbell on the Great Ocean Road

Adventure, Australia, Ireland, Motorbikes, photography, travel, Victoria
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Apollo Bay Fishing Harbour

To get to Apollo Bay there is the route along the eastern part of the Great Ocean Road or

The Road over the Otway Ranges from Forest

After travelling via Anglesea and Lorne last week this time it was over the Otways.

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Tucked between the Otway Ranges and the sea Apollo Bay remains one of my favourite places to visit and to stay.

From Apollo Bay heading west along the Great Ocean Road in the midst of the Otway National Park is the turn off to Cape Otway and its impressive light house proud upon the steep cliffs of the Cape.

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A beacon for shipping on Victoria’s Shipwreck Coast

Past Cape Otway the landscape and the road changes.

East of Cape Otway the road is narrower often clinging to the cliff face and the corners tighter, with patches of dense rainforest.

The sandy surf beaches nestled between rocky headlands like Lorne, Wye River and Apollo Bay

West of the Cape the road evens out more sweeping curves than tight corners, the land an open plateau across the top or the windblown cliffs with offshore the rocky monuments carved by the prevailing wind and sea.

From Port Campbell the view back along the sandstone cliffs toward Cape Otway in the late afternoon light is a sight one never tires of.

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The Great Ocean Road continues onto Warrnambool from Port Campbell, but my route took me north through the coastal hills and farming land to historic Camperdown

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And its famous clock tower.

Then road back to Melbourne.

It is so wonderful to be able to do this ride again free of traffic like it used to be 40 years ago, when sections of the road through the forest was still gravel and tourist coaches had not been invented.

The lockdown provisions in Victoria still preclude staying away overnight.  All the hotels and camping grounds are still closed.  It was nearly a 10 hour trip by the time I got home in the cold and the dark but what a ride and how good to be free!

Travelling in the time of Coronavirus 8 – Home in Australia

Adventure, Australia, Motorbikes, photography, travel, Victoria
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Egret hunting in Koroit Creek

Free as a bird

After 14 days locked in the Gilded Cage of enforced quarantine

It was such a relief to be out in the fresh air and sunshine

On my bicycle

On my favourite loop around the bay

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Pelicans fishing and looking across Hobsons Bay

And then time to get the Mighty Breva on the Road

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On the Great Ocean Road

With a mate

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Over the last 10 or so years I have avoided the Great Ocean Road as a ride

The road has become blocked with tourists coaches heading for the main attractions along the road

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So I had missed the grand vistas looking along the cliffs and across the ocean

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The bike in the rhythm of the winding road as it winds along the cliff face, and through the forests

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But this day the roads were empty, the sun shone upon me and the joy of riding this magnificent piece of road was one again enjoyed unhindered.

 

Travelling in the time of Coronavirus 7 – Quarantine in Australia

Adventure, Australia, Europe, Motorbikes, Personal, photography, travel

Back in Australia and in mandatory quarantine

14 days seems easy but not for a wanderer

Caught in a gilded cage

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Moonrise over Melbourne

A room with a view

Five star

But maybe its just Welcome to Hotel Coronafornia

‘We are programmed to receive
You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave’

Its all part of the war on Covid 19

The WAR

I have a song by War playing in my head.

‘Four Cornered Room’

The refrain

‘As I sit in my four corned room’

And though this cage is nicely gilded

For me

Luxury is no substitute for liberty

My home on my travels for the last half dozen years

In Australia and Europe

Has been my little tent

And the amazing places we have visited

Which have included:

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Route Napoleon, France

Garvov, Romania

St Leon sur Vezere, France

Picos de Europa, Spain

Hirtshals, Denmark

Snowy Mountains, Australia

The Coorong, Australia

Daintree Rainforest, Australia

So as I sit in my four cornered room

In a gilded cage of 5 star luxury

I know nothing can compensate for the loss of freedom of movement

Though confinement is hard I have passed 7 days of the 14 in quarantine

The light is bright at the end of the confinement tunnel

And life will slowly return to normal

As I write this cannot help but reflect on how cruelly Australia is treating refugees it holds in indefinite detention

In terrible and dangerous conditions.

Their only crime escaping tyranny in search of liberty 

Australia has certainly become a world leader in confining people

Travelling in the time of Coronavirus 6- Tides and Time

Adventure, England, Personal, travel
Low tide and high tide Rye Harbour

As humanity sits in lockdown

Seemingly hibernating

Time standing still the world and tides rise and fall

River entrance low and high tide

And for many life goes on almost unabated

The fisherman returning of the flood tide after another night alone on the Celtic Sea

The flood tide filling the river and spreading out over the salt marsh

For the fisherman every night is social distance

Alone with on the end less waves, the sky and sea birds for companionship

The tides of time go on ebbing and flowing like the water round the old wreck

Ebbing and flowing in time less motion

Last night over the Celtic Sea the Easter Pink Supermoon rose

In a sort of bright isolated orb in the darkness

Casting it’s beam like a stream of rose gold

Like it has for millenea.

Rye Harbour pier low and high tide

And the tides keep turning

Travelling in the Time of Coronavirus-Quarantined week 2

Adventure, England, photography, Poetry, travel, United Kingdom

The Mighty Breva remain under the cover, apart from the occaisional shopping trip.

Week 2 of quarantine and its a time of discoveries and little pleasures.

It’s a time self contemplation.

A discovery:

A beautiful beer with a quirky connection.

To quote: This premium strength beer from Rother Valley Brewing Company commemorates the notorious gang of smugglers know as The Blues, who defied the Revenue through out Kent and Sussex for over 50years until their capture and transportation to Australia.

My great grandfather was a rustler not a smuggler and was transported to Australia during the Irish famine.

It’s seems an appropriate drink to have with a healthy home cooked meal

The little pleasures:

The small hardy plants of the salt marsh slowly bursting into life and the days ever so slowly grow longer and warmer.

A bit of self discovery:

Quarantine is a little bit like the kestral hovering, seemingly suspended in space and time. But there is a focus and a purpose.