The Great Southern Road Trip

I have spent the last few weeks settling on a destination for my next big adventure. I had been hatching a plan to do an extended road trip through Victoria. This plan has been on the drawing board for at least 3 years, when I set out my 60 for 60 plans (60 things to do before I turn 60). 

Border closures make things tricky

I had to reconsider my plan when  Victoria became Australia’s hot bed of COVID19 and strict lock down laws including a complete shut down of the border ensued and continued long after the other States had begun to loosen up. I thought I’d have to go north and began looking at a huge trip through Central Australia. Some of my sensible buddies talked me out of that given the time of year I was planning on going. Days and days of endless 40oC plus may not be a great idea!  

Too hot for this trip!

In the meantime, things were getting better in Victoria and I decided to take a punt and start booking a few critical bits of the itinerary. I crossed all my body parts in the fervent hope that by the end of February things would be open. 

And….they have! It seems that all Australian internal borders will be open from the end of November without the requirement to self-isolate. (Provided we don’t go backwards!!)*

The Great Southern Road Trip

With that good news I’m pleased to announce that the Great Southern Road Trip is going ahead! However, now that the borders ARE open there is the very real prospect of destinations being booked out because those Aussies who might normally be heading off for international destinations are “stuck” at home.  On top of this many towns near the NSW-Victorian border have still not recovered after the horrific bushfires which preceded COVID.

The Great Southern Road trip itinerary is shaping up well. The overarching plan is to follow the NSW and Victoria coast down to Melbourne then take the Spirit of Tasmania across Bass Strait to join the 6-day walking tour and then a few days in Flinders Island. After that I’ll spend another week exploring other parts of Tasmania.

So far I have booked one night’s accommodation in Victoria at a lighthouse because there was only one night available in the time frame I was planning on passing through. This sought after accommodation was already close to being completely booked out for the next 6 months!

After three weeks in Tasmania, I’ll head back to the mainland and ‘do’ regional Victoria concentrating on the western side of the state, then back up through the Highlands to home.

The Two Iains are looking forward to another adventure!

The itinerary shapes up

All up I’ll be away for 6 weeks.  While I’m tootling around in my trusty Subaru, I intend to knock off a few things from my 60 for 60 list including:

  1. Southernmost point of the Australian mainland and perhaps even most southern point of Tasmania.
  2. A hot air balloon ride.
  3. A cheese-making course in Melbourne (if it’s on!)
  4. A writing retreat. In a way, the whole trip will be a writing retreat!
  5. Astrophotography. I think there will be dark sky on Flinders Island and I might even get lucky and see the aurora in Tasmania, although I could be a bit early. It is apparently at it’s best from March – September.

Apart from the 6-day guided walking tour there will be at least one other overnight hike. I’ll be alternating between luxurious accommodation and camping to make my money spread a little further. Once my spending ban is over, I’ll be on the look out for a good second hand tent and camping gear. I have already jumped the gun and bought some maps!

I haven’t nutted it all out yet, but this is part of the plan.

I’m counting down already!

* The South Australian border has been closed again since I began drafting this post! 🙁

You light up my life – Lighthouses in Scotland

Part 3 of the ongoing series on lighthouses

 

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Ardnamurchan Lighthouse.

 

Going to Scotland gave me a chance to photograph some of my favourite subjects – lighthouses. According to the Northern Lighthouse Board, there are 206 of them. That’s  140 odd less than Australia. The wriggly, rugged Scottish coastline is ~16,500km (if you include all the islands) compared to the 25670 km needed to encircle Australia. A ratio of about 2:3. The surface area of Australia is 100,000 times bigger than Scotland. This gives you a really good idea of just how wriggly and rugged that Scottish coastline is.

With so much competition for my time, I only got to visit a very few of them.  Some “visits” only a fleeting glance from a ferry deck while at others, I had a more expansive visit.

I have done my best to pinpoint location, but my memory is a bit patchy on some, and I can only give a  guestimate based on where it appears in the sequence of other photos taken. If I have incorrectly labelled any, please let me know in the comments below!

You can see my posts about Australian lighthouses and lighthouses in Maine by following the links.

Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, Kilchoan.

The Ardnamurchan Lighthouse (above) is built on the most westerly point of the British mainland and is approximately 20 minutes from the Kilchoan Ferry Terminal. There are a shop and cafe on-site, as well as guided tours. You access it via a long, narrow, one-way, walled road. Stop at the traffic lights and be patient, it takes a little while to go green! It is also a great place to do some whale spotting. I saw two very large fins which I decided were orcas but more likely to be Minky whales. (My camera does not have a strong enough zoom to get good pictures) There is also a lovely little cafe (Puffin Coffee) on the way which is well worth stopping at.

Neist Point Lighthouse, Skye.

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Neist Point Lighthouse on the most westerly point of the Isle of Skye is set amongst some spectacular scenery. The carpark was packed the day I was there, and there were plenty of people making the trek down the very steep path to a grassy meadow below.  I noticed that some people were finding the pathway very challenging, and I recommend you wear shoes with a good grip and have a reasonable level of fitness.

There is not much nearby, although I would recommend the Red Roof Cafe, which is less the 5 miles (8km) away. This cafe has excellent vegetarian food that even the most committed carnivore would enjoy! They have a splendid array of very interesting tea as well. Their French Earl Grey was amazing!

 

The Corran Lighthouse, Loch Linnhe

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What a strange place for a lighthouse! Inland? On a Loch? The job of the Corran Lighthouse is to guide vessels through the very narrow, Corran Narrows on Loch Linnhe  On the other side of the loch, is Fort William. I didn’t stop here beyond jumping out of the car to get the shot. The Keepers’ Cottages are now used as luxury self-catering cottages.

Kinnaird Head Lighthouse, Fraserburgh

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The Kinnaird Head Lighthouse has two distinguishing features:

  1. It is built over the ruins of a castle
  2. There is the excellent Museum Of Scottish Lighthouses on the same site.

Unfortunately, I only had time to have a short one hour visit but managed to snag a spot on the last guided tour for the day which was a well-spent £9. Because the Keeper’s quarters were once a castle, they were quite luxurious in comparison to others I have seen.

 

The collage below shows some of the other lighthouses in Scotland quickly captured (and whose locations I cannot be 100% sure of!).

 

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Coming into Harris Island by Ferry