Category Archives: Australia

Have a Nice Trip

View From Bartolome Peak in The Galapagos Islands Poster

With a newly broken toe, I  walked a long trail and climbed 374 steps to the summit of Bartolome Island, which is famous for Pinnacle Rock, a towering obelisk that rises from the shore and is the best known landmark in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. I’d broken my toe when I slipped on a wet boat deck, exhausted from snorkeling in deep water, but I wasn’t going to miss this view even though a storm was rolling in. It started to rainhard as our group made its way down.  Amazingly my cameras weren’t damaged. My son took pity on me and carried my heavier camera, and we both protected them as best we could under our shirts. We’d left the camera bags in the boat.


Photographs are powerful souvenirs from trips. When we look at a photo that we’ve taken, we remember so much more than what the photograph seems to reveal.  We can relieve the whole experience.

We remember the people we traveled with, even meals we ate that day, the weather, and in my case, the mishaps that occurred while I was taking the photos.  Sometimes, it’s easier to remember the injuries than the many more times I escaped unscathed.   Anyway, I’m not complaining, because every bug bite, black eye, bruise, scraped knee and broken bone was worth it.  I’m lucky I didn’t fall from a cliff or attacked by a wild animal, as has happened to some photographers when they were engrossed in taking a photograph. I’ve had some close calls, such as encountering a tiger snake in Tasmania, Australia, while my friends and I were on a walk. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see and photograph so many wonderful places, animals and people.


Surfer at Sunset on Kauai Beach, Niihau on Horizon Poster

As we were driving along a highway in Kauai, Hawaii, my husband pointed out the surfers on this beach, so we stopped, where I took a lot of photographs, including this fabulous sunset over Niihau Island. Afterward, as I was climbing up the rocks to the parking lot, holding a camera in each hand with the straps wrapped around my wrists, I lost my balance and fell on my face. I got a black eye. But I saved my cameras! And look at this photo!

Apricot Hybrid Tea Rose With Honeybee Photo Print

I was so intent on photographing roses at the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden during the Texas Rose Festival that I didn’t notice tiny ants crawling over my bare toes in sandals. The ants looked harmless, but they were fire ants. I brushed them off, but it was too late. Wow, their tiny stings hurt for days! Now I know why Texans favor cowboy boots. Cowboy boots are not just for riding horses.

Galapagos Islands Tourists at Tortoise Sanctuary Postcard

Look how smart these tourists are wearing their rubber boots as they listen to their guide talk about giant tortoises in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. You can see a giant tortoise in the background on the right. We had just arrived on the Galapagos Islands. It was hot, and I decided against wearing any boots. I thought I’d just wash my flip-flop-clad feet if I stepped into mud. But mud wasn’t the only hazard. As I stood on a trail, I saw tiny ants crawling over my toes. Yes, fire ants again! They’ve invaded the Galapagos Islands! They stung me, and I had to deal with that pain plus sun-burned feet. (And later sun-burned shoulders, too.)

Machu Picchu Overlook, Peru Poster

This is the most iconic view of Machu Picchu in Peru. Even though I took a bus up a steep hill to the entrance, there were a lot of steps to reach this point. Normally, I could have easily walked it, but I was still weak from acute altitude sickness in Cusco, which is at an elevation of 11,152 feet. It was a relief to come down to 7,970 feet at Machu Picchu. I happy to make the journey to this magnificent place, even though I felt so weak. Somehow I managed to take a lot of photos!

Snow Geese Taking off at Squaw Creek Refuge Poster

I have a scar on my knee from scraping my knee when I stepped into a hole at Squaw Creek Wildlife Refuge in Mound City, Missouri. I was hurrying to a viewing stand, not paying attention, and found myself on the ground. “Are you ok,” my friend asked as she helped me up. “More importantly, are your cameras ok?” she joked. My knee was scuffed up, but my cameras were fine! We were there to see the more than a million snow geese that visit the refuge as they migrate, shown in my photograph here. Seeing and hearing the rush of those birds as they lifted en masse into the air was a magnificent experience, worth the pain, although next time I’ll be more careful when I walk!

Bison Cow in Flint Hills, Kansas Postcard

I got scratched by some dried weeds when I took this photograph of a bison cow at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge in Kansas. (There was a tall fence between us, so no danger from the bison.) I thought the scratches were all that happened to me until a week later I felt what I thought was a scab on the back of my shoulder. I scratched at it. The scab started walking. It was a tick! I’m sure it crawled on me in that tall grass. For months after that, every time I felt tired or had a headache, I thought I had some kind of tick fever. I even got tested for it, rare for me. Results were negative. Phew!



Cape Buffalo Enjoying Mud Bath, South Africa Postcard

Sometimes, we venture into dangerous areas, where lions and leopards roam freely, and miraculously leave unscathed. We watched as this Cape Buffalo Bull enjoyed a mud bath in Mala Mala Game Reserve in South Africa. Guess he didn’t like us spying on us, because after his bath he started our way. His buddy, who had taken the first bath, was watching us from the bushes. Fortunately, it was a stand-off .  Our guide backed up the jeep, and we were out of there!  Cape Buffalo are dangerous. They can gore you.

Petting a Tasmanian Devil

My friend Anita recorded this encounter in Tasmania, Australia. I had a crazy notion that I wanted to pet a Tasmanian Devil. The keeper at NatureWorld held this young devil so I could have my wish. “Nice devil, devil,” I said as I stroked him. A young man also wanted to join in. The once calm devil jerked his head around, and growled. You can see the man’s hand pulling back in the bottom photo. I didn’t lose any fingers!

Tiger snake heading our way!

Four of us were on a hike in Tasmania, when Anita saw this very poisonous tiger snake heading our way. For some crazy reason, my husband threw a stick near it, thinking he could scare it away, but that just provoked the snake, which reared up. You never saw four people run so fast in the other direction. We jumped in the car and hurried away.

The captain warned us that the trip could be rough and said we could reschedule, but we only had two days left on the island. I'd never been seasick before. How bad could it be? Even though my husband and I took the recommended seasick pills, we both got sick. How sick? I used three buckets! TMI, I know. The swells were seventeen-feet high. We couldn't even think of eating the sunset dinner buffet. The sun refused to come out from behind the clouds.

Because of the weather, the captain of our boat warned us that the trip along the Na Pali Coast of Kauai could be rough and said we could reschedule, but we only had two days left on the island. I’d never been seasick before. How bad could it be? Even though my husband and I took the recommended seasick pills, we both got sick. How sick? I used three buckets! TMI, I know. The swells were seventeen-feet high. We couldn’t even think of eating the sunset dinner buffet. The sun refused to come out from behind the clouds, and we had to put away our cameras, so we didn’t get any close photos of the humpback whales we saw.  But it definitely was a memorable trip, even without beautiful photos.

Here’s one of the videos I shot before the seas got really rough. You can see how gloomy it was.  You can also see a humpback whale breaching in the distance.



Filed under Animals, Australia, Photography, Travel

Intellectual Property Rights

Classic Books postcard

As a writer and photographer, I’m often territorial about my words and images, so I can understand any creative person getting huffy or even litigious when their intellectual property is used without permission. If I want some pithy quotes, I use the words of a long-dead people, always crediting them, of course.

I designed a greeting card using a photograph I took of old books my mother has collected. I added some quotes from five long-dead authors and philosophers about books and then posted the card on a Print on Demand (POD) site where I have many products. The card is to be a small gift for my fellow book club members (Shhh, don’t tell them.)

A few days later, I received an email from the POD site informing me that my “design contains an image or text that infringes on intellectual
property rights. We have been contacted by the intellectual property right holder and at their request we will be removing your product from …’s Marketplace due to intellectual property claims.”

There was no clue which element might have offended, so I pressed the POD site to find out. Was it one of the publishers listed on the book spines in the photograph? I couldn’t imagine that it would be any of the people I quoted. They’d all been dead at least seventy-five years, when copyrights expire. I realize that copyright issues are much more complicated than that (after all, lawyers are involved) and some copyrights can be renewed. I’ve recently learned that even many versions of the Bible are copyrighted. The King James version, however, is in the public domain.

A plaque featuring Mark Twain's words about Australia is on Writers Walk on Circular Quay of Sydney Harbor in Sydney, Australia. Somehow I must have known I'd meet up with Mark Twain again when I took this photograph.

This was the advice I’d been given about Fair Use. “Public domain works are works whose copyrights were issued before 1923. Many authors choose to use quotes only from people who have been dead more than seventy-five years because their quotes are now considered “Fair Use” under the public domain. Copyrights are good for the duration of the author’s life and for seventy-five years beyond their death. It is generally safe to use quotes from authors who died 1936 or before.”

The POD site fingered the complainer: Mark Twain, or, more accurately, the representatives of Mark Twain. “We have been contacted by the licensing company (I won’t name them) who represent Mark Twain, and at their request, have removed the product from the …  Marketplace.”

I went to the Mark Twain Rep site where I read: “We work with companies around the world who wish to use the name or likeness of Mark Twain in any commercial fashion. The words and the signature “Mark Twain” are trademarks owned and protected by the Estate of Mark Twain. In addition, the image, name, and voice of Mark Twain is a protectable property right owned by the Estate of Mark Twain. Any use of the above, without the express written consent of the Estate of Mark Twain is strictly prohibited.”

Since I make no money from this blog, I hope Twain’s representatives don’t hunt me down here. I’m not even putting Mark Twain or his real name Samuel Clemons in the tags.

Mark Twain was very concerned about protecting his work from pirates, even though he also fussed over nitpicking copyright laws. He wanted the profits from his works — and he was sure there would be plenty of them — to continue to go to his daughters after his death. In Twain’s day, copyright protection expired after 42 years.

Twain is one of the most widely known authors in the world and is still kicking up a fuss today. A publisher recently republished  a politically correct version of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by substituting the word slave for the N word, which provoked a lot of discussion — and more sales.

In November 2010, the first of three volumes of Twain’s autobiography were published complete and unexpurgated for the first time by the Mark Twain Project a hundred years after Twain’s death. Twain had said that he wanted to suppress the publication of some of his more biting comments for a hundred years, but Twain shrewdly also knew that this new version would start the clock ticking on new copyright protection.

Here are two discussions about Twain and copyright:
Mark Twain’s plans to compete with copyright “pirates” (in 1906)

The Mark Twain Project’s Discussion of Copyright and Permissions.

About the Politically Correct Version of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

Here’s a link to the revised greeting card minus the Mark Twain quote.   I did use a quote from Abraham Lincoln and another from Kenkō Yoshida (or Yoshida Kenkō), a Japanese Buddhist monk, who died around 1350.  I think I’m safe there, but you never know.

Love of Books Card.

“A day is coming, when, in the eye of the law, literary property will be as sacred as whisky, or any other of the necessaries of life.” ~ Mark Twain ~


Filed under Abraham Lincoln, Australia, Authors, Books, History, Humor, Life, Novels, Presidents, Travel

One Woman’s Garbage…

Eating a banana peel

I toss banana peels in my flower beds because the peels are good for the soil. I rake mulch over them when the weather is better. Here an opossum quickly gobbles up a peel within minutes after I tossed it. The flowers won't get the potassium. I'm fine with that. It will be recycled through the opossum.


“Waste not, want not” is my motto. It’s almost a sickness, so I have to make an effort not to be one of those hoarders who pile up junk.  I try to find a good home for everything, rather than hang onto it, but you might not think so if you saw my closet. 

I even hate to throw away garbage.  We have a compost pile in a natural area of our yard.  Sometimes I toss banana peels into the shrub beds when it’s too cold to walk to the compost pile, which I admit is most of the time in the winter. The peels shrivel and then I eventually rake them into the mulch.  I tossed four banana peels and a few pear cores into a shrub bed Thursday afternoon.  Soon a Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) ambled across the lawn.  I ran for my camera and fumbled to change lenses.  I wanted to send photos of North America’s only marsupial to our friends in Australia, whose interest in our local wildlife when they visited us made me appreciate squirrels more than I had.  (Cockatoos are the Aussie equivalent of a ubiquitous neighborhood mildly pest-like animal.) 

Opossum eating banana peels in my yard.


There are about 334 species of marsupials.  More than 200 of these species are native to Australia and nearby islands to the north. There are also species in South America.  The Virginia Opossum, pictured here,  is the only marsupial native to North America. 

The best known marsupials are the kangaroos, koalas and wombats of Australia. 


I was sure the opossum would be gone by the time I could screw in my telephoto lens, but I found him in the shrub bed gulping the peels.   

We live near woods, so there are always wild animals visiting. I probably shouldn’t attract them, but I am living in their territory.  I never dreamed any animal would find a banana peel appealing… It’s been a colder than normal winter with more snow covering food sources, so any plant-based food I toss into the compost heap will be gobbled up. (Don’t put animal products into the compost heap.) 

Links about the opossum below. 

From National Geographic:  There are more than 60 different species of opossum, which are often called possums. The most notable is the Virginia opossum or common opossum—the only marsupial (pouched mammal) found in the United States and Canada. 

A female opossum gives birth to helpless young as tiny as honeybees. Babies immediately crawl into the mother’s pouch, where they continue to develop. As they get larger, they will go in and out of the pouch and sometimes ride on the mother’s back as she hunts for food. Opossums may give birth to as many as 20 babies in a litter, but fewer than half of them survive. Some never even make it as far as the pouch. 

Opossums are scavengers, and they often visit human homes or settlements to raid garbage cans, dumpsters, and other containers. They are attracted to carrion and can often be spotted near roadkill. Opossums also eat grass, nuts, and fruit. They will hunt mice, birds, insects, worms, snakes, and even chickens. 

Opossum eating banana peel.

These animals are most famous for “playing possum.” When threatened by dogs, foxes, or bobcats, opossums sometimes flop onto their sides and lie on the ground with their eyes closed or staring fixedly into space. They extend their tongues and generally appear to be dead. This ploy may put a predator off its guard and allow the opossum an opportunity to make its escape.


Opossums are excellent tree climbers and spend much of their time aloft. They are aided in this by sharp claws, which dig into bark, and by a long prehensile (gripping) tail that can be used as an extra limb. Opossums nest in tree holes or in dens made by other animals. 

Learn about the Virginia Opossum on Wikipedia. 

The National Opossum Society. 

Learn about the Virginia Opossum on National Geographic. 

Banana peels make a fine meal.



Filed under Animals, Australia, Biology, Environment, Humor, Life, Natural History, Nature, Photography, Science

A Year Ago…

On January 21, 2009, in Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia, people gather to watch a re-broadcast of Barack Obama taking the oath of office to become the President of the United States. Outside, another group is watching The Australian Open Tennis Tournament on a giant screen. The tournament was going on at nearby Rod Laver Arena.


Filed under Australia, Life, Photography, Politics, Presidents, Travel

Scientists Discover Origin of a Cancer in Tasmanian Devils

This Tasmanian Devil looks menacing, but he's just yawning. Devils can get peevish, though, particularly at meal time when they have to share. Devils have the strongest jaws per size of any mammal and can completely devour their meals, bones, fur and all. They are stellar members of the clean plate club!

Above is a photograph I took of a Tasmanian Devil in January 2009 at the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park in Tasmania.  Links to my previous posts on the Tassie Devil are at the bottom.  (I’m just wild about the devils!)

The Tasmanian devil, a fox-sized marsupial, was listed in Australia as an endangered species in May 2009 because of a contagious cancer that has wiped out more than half of the wild population.  New research shows  that the cancers are caused by infectious tumors, rather than viruses as previously thought.  One scientist described the tumors, which are passed from devil to devil through bites, as a parasite.  The new finding will help scientists to devise vaccines that could save the Tasmanian devils and also shed light on the nature of infectious cancers in humans.

Two young Tasmanian devils.

Devils do not exist in the wild outside Tasmania, although zoos and wildlife parks on mainland Australia as well as on Tasmania are breeding captive populations as a strategy against total extinction.  The Tasmanian Devil is the largest carnivorous marsupial now that the Tasmanian Tiger is extinct.

For details on this study, here is a New York Times Article: Scientists Discover Origin of a Cancer in Tasmanian Devils

My previous posts about and photographs of the Tasmanian Devil:

I’m a Friend of the Tasmanian Devil.

More Deviltry.



Filed under Animals, Australia, Health, Life, Natural History, Nature, Photography, Science, Travel

Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa

Artist assistants stand next to 3,604 cups of coffee which have been made into a giant Mona Lisa in Sydney, Australia . The 3,604 cups of coffee were each filled with different amounts of milk to create the different shades! Those Aussies sure do know how to have fun (as I know from personal experience.) 

Another fun-loving, art-loving, puzzle-loving person is Shouts from the Abyss (despite his grim name), who posts some of his pixel puzzles.  To find them, click on pixels in his tags on his blog (on my blogroll).  Here’s one of his puzzles. They get harder, but I thought I’d start you out easy.



Filed under Art, Australia, Humor

Stoned Wallabies Make Crop Circles in Tasmania

Tasmania produces about 40 percent of the world's medicinal opium poppies, under strict regulation.

Tasmania produces about half of the world's medicinal opium poppies, under strict regulation. But they can't keep the wallabies out.

My friend Anita, who lives in Canberra,  emailed me this story.  We traveled together in Tasmania in January of this year and saw these poppy fields, and we saw wallabies lounging in rutabaga fields, but we didn’t get to see this!

Stoned wallabies make crop circles
Thu Jun 25, 2009 1:30pm EDT
SYDNEY (Reuters) – The mystery of crop circles in poppy fields in Australia’s southern island state of Tasmania has been solved — stoned wallabies are eating the poppy heads and hopping around in circles.
“We have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles,” the state’s top lawmaker Lara Giddings told local media on Thursday.
“Then they crash. We see crop circles in the poppy industry from wallabies that are high,” she said.
Many people believe crop circles that mysteriously appear in fields around the world are created by aliens.
Poppy producer Tasmanian Alkaloids said livestock which ate the poppies were known to “act weird” — including deer and sheep in the state’s highlands.
“There have been many stories about sheep that have eaten some of the poppies after harvesting and they all walk around in circles,” said field operations manager Rick Rockliff.
Australia produces about 50 percent of the world’s raw material for morphine and related opiates.


Filed under Animals, Australia, Biology, Life, Nature, Personal, Travel

Aussie Speak

It's the Bar of Babel as speakers from all nations attempt conversation at the Sydney Opera House Bar.

It's the Bar of Babel as speakers from all nations attempt conversation at the Sydney Opera House Bar.

I laughed when I read my friend Anita’s recent facebook status report: “having fun using words like kerfluffle, bungle (as a noun), shambolic (as in shambles), rectitudiness, verballing, and of course tradies, unis, bikies, footies. . .”

Anita, an American, moved to Australia last summer. As a journalist, part of her job is communicating with government officials and other journalists, so she is an interpreter of the various kinds of English, too. In her last position, she spoke Spanish, so she’s up to the challenge.
When we arrived to visit them, Anita and her husband began translating for us.  For example, they advised that “You don’t root for teams, you barrack for them.”  Rooting means something quite different from our definition and is probably not mentioned in polite society…….But we’re all friends here. Most Aussie words and phrases do make sense (sometimes you have to think about it), even if they aren’t the words we normally use.  Sometimes it’s the pronunciation that throws me.
We in the U.S.A. yield, but the Australians give way.  Their signs needs more letters, but it's easier to spell.  Also, not the one lane bridge. We found a lot of those.

We in the U.S.A. yield, but the Australians give way. Their signs require more letters to get their message across, but it's easier to spell. (Don't we just look at the shape anyway?) Also, note the one lane bridge. We found a lot of those.

I’ve been reading letters and later emails from Aussies for years and thought I knew what they were saying, but hearing it in person I found myself saying or at least thinking “What?”  I need a hearing aid of a different kind.
The people I most easily understood were transplanted English people.  Maybe it’s from my years of watching Masterpiece Theater.
Two of my favorite words are “brilliant” for everything wonderful and “shocking” for terrible, which I heard from my friend Monica when we were stopped in a massive traffic jam in Sydney.  Another good word is “chuffed,” which seems to mean excited, proud or happy, which I’ve heard Down Under and even from fellow English blogger Paula who writes beautiful posts.  She’s on my blogroll as Locks Park Farm.
A “good on you!” to Janelle of What Makes Me Laugh for her funny post on Aussie-isms.  Click here: It’s Not Weird, It’s Not Wrong, It’s Just Different.  She wrote several funny, insightful posts on her recent trip to Australia.  Don’t miss them!
Here's an Aussie mailman on a motorbike with mail saddlebags. Love the orange!

Here's an Aussie mailman on a motorbike with mail saddlebags. Love the orange!

Jan of Planetjan had fun with the language and other differences when her English friends came to visit her in Los Angeles.  Here’s one of her funny posts on the subject: Back to Reality.

In New Zealand…well, let’s not go there right now, except to say that egg is pronounced eeg, as in eek, and left as leeft.  Instead, I’ll hand you over to native New Zealander Kiwi Bloke, who has lived in Australia, Canada and even Texas, for all things Kiwi.  He’s Kiwi Bloke on my blogroll and is multi-lingual in the English language.  
Why don’t you tell me your favorite language choices?  Cheers!


Filed under Australia, Friendship, Humor, Language, Life, New Zealand, Personal, Travel

Just Call Me Little Bo Peep

There are tens of millions of sheep in Australia and New Zealand, but this is as close as I got to any of them.

There are tens of millions of sheep in Australia and New Zealand, but this is as close as I got to any of them. These sheep are grazing at Port Arthur Historic Site, the location of a 19th century penal colony in Tasmania, Australia.

Sheep are probably more common in Australia than kangaroos, but on a recent visit there I never got close enough to hear so much as a bleat.   I wanted to see a sheep shearing (as seen on “The Thorn Birds”).  I  wanted a picturesque mob of sheep to flood out onto the quaint road, you know, the usual tourist adventures.  I should have just looked in my own neighborhood. (There’s a hilarious video about a movie starring sheep at the bottom of this post as a reward for traveling on my nostalgia trip.)

Horses on the ranch down the street from me.

Horses on the ranch down the street from me.

A friend, Evan J., told me about a sheep shearing he participated in recently at a farm not too far away from me.  In six months, the sheep will need another hair cut.  Only a tornado is going to keep me away.

Farmers are dedicated, determined and dazzling.  I’m in awe of what they accomplish and remember the hard work of my grandparents’ farm.  It’s easy to take farm fields and pastures for granted, until the raw timbers of subdivisions take their places.  I live in a suburb on the edge of the Kansas City metropolitan area, near horses and soybean fields.  I’m always afraid I’ll find a CVS pharmacy staked out in the horse pasture. (Our neighborhood has already fought a CVS.)  One nearby farm was just sold off and leveled last year.  Asphalt streets curve around empty lots where a barn surrounded by hay bales once stood.  My own yard was once part of a forest that is now a golf course, so I can’t say I haven’t contributed to the sprawl.

This old barn and soybean field won't be here long.  It's prime real estate, surrounded by upscale subdivisions and shopping centers.  Only the economic downturn is keeping development at bay.

This old barn and soybean field won't be here long. It's prime real estate, surrounded by upscale subdivisions and shopping centers. Only the economic downturn is keeping development at bay.

People can satisfy a little of their farm curiosity in our county with a visit to Deanna Rose Farm, a city park with farm animals and historic rural buildings.  Hopefully, small family farms don’t become novelty items that are remembered only in parks. 

I’ve been following the blog of Paula, who raises sheep and cattle and does just about everything else on her organic farm in Devon, England.  Here’s her post on lambing.  Lambing — It’s Started.  Her blog has great photos, too!

Closer to home, Natalya of Pinwheel Farm writes about the joys and sorrows of raising sheep. You can find “Girls at War” and “Memorable Shearing Day, two of her posts on sheep, at Pinwheel Farm.

I watched the movie “Black Sheep” on the plane trip from New Zealand.  It’s so hilariously Kiwi.  Sort of cheesy, but in a good way.  The special effects reminded me of those in “Dr. Who,” the ones with Tom Baker, my favorite doctor.  Here’s the link, including videos, about the movie  Black Sheep.  Below is the video of the movie trailer.  The video is over the top, but there’s a lot of wry Kiwi wit in the movie. For more Kiwi wit and news, check out Kiwibloke on my blogroll.


Filed under Animals, Australia, Environment, Kansas, Kansas City, Life, Movies, Nature, New Zealand, Personal, Random, Travel

I’m a Tasmaniac

Sheep graze near the ocean in Tasmania.  You can see the mountains in the distance.

Sheep graze near the ocean in northcentral Tasmania. You can see one of Tasmania’s many mountain ranges in the distance.

I’m envious.  Janelle of “What Makes Me Laugh” won a trip to Australia for herself and her husband by writing an essay about Jurlique products, based in Adelaide.   Her niece told her: Get your butt to Australia before my college year abroad ends (or something like that…)  So with only a few months to spare, Janelle figured out a free way to get to Australia by the deadline.

St. Columba Falls tumbles 295 feet into a dense rainforest of tree ferns, myrtle and sassafras, not far from apple orchards and meadows where dairy cattle graze.

St. Columba Falls tumbles 295 feet into a dense rainforest of tree ferns, myrtle and sassafras, not far from apple orchards and meadows where dairy cattle graze.

I’ve wanted to go to Australia for thirty years, but I just made my first trip there in January — and it wasn’t free.  I tried the contest method  (the 25th caller will win a chance to be in the drawing), but can you believe it, no one drew my name!  Janelle really did it the smart way, literally. (The link to how she did it is at the bottom.)

One week of her trip will be spent driving around Tasmania, which is one of Australia’s states.  I’m avidly reading her posts as she travels.  I’ve become a Tasmaniac.  I never even thought to go there until my friend Anita suggested we include Tasmania on our itinerary.  Now I’m enthralled with this island at the bottom of mainland Australia. (Tasmania is an archipelago of one main island the size of West Virginia and almost 300 much smaller ones.) The following is going to sound like an advertisement for Tasmania, and I’m not even getting paid.  What kind of fool am I!

Lavender fields.

Lavender fields.

Tasmania is a wild and beautiful place, a combination of pastoral scenes and unspoiled wilderness. It boasts four mild seasons, 1,000 mountain peaks and about the cleanest air in the world.  There are wild rivers and a wide range of forests from pine to eucalyptus to tree ferns and myrtle.  It has 2,000 species of native Australian plants, 200 of which are found only in Tasmania.  Forty percent of Tasmania is a park or nature reserve, but Tasmania is also a top world producer of lavender oil and medicinal opium poppies.  Vineyards and wineries thrive there.  Sheep and cattle graze in picturesque meadows.

The British established Port Arthur as a penal colony in.  Beaue of its remote location on a penisula on Tasmania, it was thought that prisoners wouldn't be able to escape.  A few succeeded, but didn't last long in the bush.

The British established Port Arthur as a penal colony in the mid-1800s. Because of its remote location on a penisula on Tasmania, it was thought that prisoners wouldn’t be able to escape. A few succeeded, but didn’t last long in the bush.

There are scores of fascinating animals, such as Tasmanian Devils, poisonous tiger snakes, duckbill platypus and fairy penguins. You can see many of these animals in nature parks.  You might find a wallaby lounging in a rutabaga (or swede) field.  Tasmania’s unique plants included some of the world’s oldest and tallest trees.  Flowers flourish in the mild climate.

Thousands of boats are anchored along its rugged, gorgeous coastline.   Australia’s oldest bridge still in use is in Richmond, Tasmania.   In one northeastern area, you can tour a Chinese tin mining museum, buy locally made cheese made from the cattle pasturing in a nearby field and visit the 295-foot-tall St. Columba Falls, which tumbles into a dense rain forest of tree ferns, myrtle, blackwood and sassafras.   Charles Darwin noted many interesting plants and animals when he visited Tasmania in 1836 while on his voyage on the Beagle  — nothing like he’d seen anywhere else.

The swashbuckling actor Errol Flynn was born in Hobart, Tasmania, the charming capital city situated on a beautiful harbor.    A modern Tasmanian is Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark.

Beautiful, lush parks like this one in Hobart are common in Tasmania.

Beautiful, lush parks like this one in Hobart are common in Tasmania.

One of Australia’s the first penal colonies was established at Port Arthur in Tasmania.  It’s now one of Tasmania’s top tourist destinations.   It’s a park-like area now, with tours, gardens, restored buildings, a museum with cafe (of course!) and a cruise on the harbor, where we saw a fur seal fanning its flippers.  I could go on and on (as I usually do….) but I’ll spare you…..this time.  You can check out the links and watch this space for more Taz Mania, including our encounter with the highly venomous tiger snake while on a bushwalk.  Crikey!

Discover Tasmania.

More about Tasmania.

Here’s a plug for my two posts on Tasmanian Devils.  I’m a Friend of the Tasmanian Devil and More Deviltry.   I’m re-reading a book I first read twenty years ago called, “The Fatal Shore, The epic of Australia’s founding” by Robert Hughes.  It includes a lot of history about Tasmania, including a tale of some convicts who escaped from the prison at Port Arthur and their grisly end.

You can get a great view of Hobart from the top of Mt. Wellington, but it's cold and windy even inthe middle of summer. Fortunately, there's a visitor's center.  Hobart was just a small town when Charles Darwin climbed to this site in 1836.

The view of Hobart is great from the top of Mt. Wellington, but it’s cold and windy even in the middle of summer. Fortunately, there’s a visitor’s center. Hobart was just a small town when Charles Darwin climbed to this site in 1836. These days, you can drive to the top.

Lavender Field.

This is one of the fields of Lavender House farm near Rowella, Tasmania. Lavender House grows 70 types of lavenders in a rural setting surrounded by vineyards.

Tasmania produces about 40 percent of the world's medicinal opium poppies, under strict regulation.

Tasmania produces about 40 percent of the world’s medicinal opium poppies, under strict regulation. This is a field of poppy pods nearly ready for harvest.


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