Monthly Archives: October 2011

MARK TWAIN – 19th century master blogger

I know everyone except me read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn at school. Somehow I missed out.

I’ve jumped straight into Mr Twain’s travel writing, starting with A Tramp Abroad (1880), his account of his ‘pedestrian journey’ through Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

I love it, mostly. I didn’t know Mark Twain could be so damn funny! Continue reading


Filed under Travel- Europe

TARONGA ZOO, SYDNEY – serious questions

A curious overseas visitor.

‘He’s called a mata-mata and he’s come all the way from South America.’

‘Why?’ The five year old of our family is very interested in animals.

The zoo keeper holding the strange-looking turtle is pleased to have an excited customer. ‘He was a present from an American zoo to our Taronga Zoo here in Australia.’

‘When is he going back home?’

‘He’s going to stay here now. He’s not going home.’

‘Does he miss his mummy?’ Continue reading


Filed under Travel-Australia

WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS HIKE – El Caminito del Rey, Spain

Seven million people have watched this on YouTube. Does that mean that every hiker in the world has seen it except me?

El Caminito del Rey, the ‘path of the king’, is hanging off a cliff somewhere in Spain. What’s the Spanish for ‘path of the complete raving idiots’? El Caminito de los Idiotas Loco Completa? (Thanks, Google Translate!)

No, I didn’t do it myself. No, I didn’t make this video. I get vertigo just watching it. Or even just thinking about watching it. No, I am not for a moment suggesting that anybody try it! I’m not even telling you where it is. If you want to scare yourself stupid and survive to brag about it, there are other via ferrata routes in Europe in better condition than this one.

Thanks, Duncan, for bringing it to my attention.


Filed under Hiking, Spain


South West Tasmania...nice clean beach, where are all the people?

There was a thoughtful and thought-provoking article by Europe-based Australian travel writer David Whitley on the Sydney Morning Herald website today. Whitley argues that Australia can never compete with Europe in attracting tourists – Europe has so much that Australia will never be able to match.

We can’t provide tourists with centuries of history or spectacular ancient buildings, says Whitley. We have no great castles or cathedrals or museums like the Louvre or the Uffizi. Our modern architecture, with the Sydney Opera House as a notable exception, is uninspiring. Our mountains are puny compared to the Alps. We have no drawcard festivals like Oktoberfest, Carnivale in Venice or even Queen’s Day in Holland. We don’t even have summer twilight.

In Europe you can travel three hours on a train and traverse three different countries, passing through charming villages and encountering totally different languages and cultures. Three hours on the train from Sydney will take you through Goulburn and Yass. Continue reading


Filed under Travel- Europe, Travel-Australia

CRICKET IN THE PARK – good old Australia

Another Sydney Saturday, another game of cricket.

In Moore Park, with the light towers of the Sydney Cricket Ground behind them, dozens of flannelled fools are acting out the age old traditions of social cricket.

It’s been years since I rolled the arm over or strapped on the pads, and I never reached great heights in the sport (a 65-run innings in Melbourne’s South Suburban Churches, grade 1 matting comp, was the pinnacle of my achievement). But I do enjoy watching it from time to time. Continue reading

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Filed under Sport

DESPERATION NSW – please come here, we’re great, no really we are!

Sandra Chipchase and one of the good things about NSW. Photo: John Reid, Sydney Morning Herald

You have to feel for Sandra Chipchase. Just appointed CEO of the new tourism body Destination NSW, she bustles over the border from Victoria with an enthusiastic plea to all New South Welsh residents to start talking up the delights their state has to offer. We can all be tourism ambassadors in our own little ways, she says.

Instead of a chorus of ‘Hear, hear, great idea Sandra!’ she gets howls of derision as everybody with a grievance takes the opportunity to tell the world why NSW is buggered. Our transport system is a joke, our service sucks, our people are unfriendly, Sydney is unaffordable and…get this one…there are too many tourists clogging the place up. Continue reading


Filed under Travel-Australia