Category Photo Friday

Photo Friday: Pelicans in South Australia’s Coorong Wetlands

Pelicans in South Australia's Coorong wetlands

I took the picture of these three beautiful pelicans in South Australia’s Coorong National Park,  which is a complex web of long shallow saline lagoons, wetlands and sand dunes that start at the mouth of the mighty Murray River and stretch for 135 kilometers alongside the crashing waves of the Southern Ocean.

Declared a wetland of international importance in 1975, the three kilometer-wide Coorong is home to the largest permanent breeding colony of Australian pelicans and is a temporary sanctuary for thousands of migratory birds from all over the world. It is reminiscent of the Camargue wetland in southern France but here the pelican rather than the flamingo is king.

This sprawling horizontal landscape was formed over 800,000 years as a consequence of sea-level changes. The Southern Ocean deposited debris along a series of 13 barrier dunes that eventually became stranded from the ocean...

Read More

Photo Friday: Is this the most beautiful beach in the world

You can have Champagne Beach all to yourself on Fiji's Yasawa Island

Is this the most beautiful beach in the world?

I took this photo on Champagne Beach in the remote Yasawa Islands off the northwest coast of the main island of Viti Levu in Fiji.  It is a huge arc of fine pinkish sand which surrounds a wide bay of aquamarine water. At each end are small reefs where you can snorkel to see myriad brightly colored tropical fish and hard and soft corals.

Even better, most of the time you have the whole beach to yourselves save for an occasional fisherman.

So how do you get here to enjoy it?

Yasawa Island Resort: home to the world’s most beautiful beaches

It is one of 11 pristine beaches that are available to guests of Yasawa Island Resort, one of Fiji’s most upscale one-island resorts located on one of the country’s most unspoiled islands. Although remote, it is just a 30-minute flight from Nadi International Airport to the resort’s private airstrip.

Yasawa is a standout in Fiji because of its absolutely spectacular beaches...

Read More

Photo Friday: Bali’s rice paddies around Ubud

Rice paddies around Ubud in Bali

I took this photo for Photo Friday on an early morning walk with a local guide through lime green rice paddies of Bongkasa alongside the Ayung River around the village of Baung in Sayan, which is not far out of Ubud in Central Bali.

It is enchanting to walk through such a lush landscape and watch the farmers work the paddies as well as learning about Hindu traditions and the local names for all the local tropical plants and flowers. After the walk, our guide took us home to his village compound, where we enjoyed coffee and cake with his wife and baby daughter and his extended family and learned how a traditional Balinese home is configured. All in all, it was a fascinating experience.

I arranged this walk through my accommodation, Bambu Indah, which is a delightful eco luxury boutique hotel with 11 antique Javanese bridal homes that were brought to Bali, restored and decorated with authentic Indonesian furniture and crafts...

Read More

Photo Friday: Fez Medina Panorama

Fez Medina Panorama

I took this photograph of the ancient Fez medina from a vantage point overlooking Morocco’s old Imperial capital.

Often called the Mecca of the West, Fez is Morocco’s cultural and spiritual center and its UNESCO World Heritage-listed walled medina is the world’s largest car-free urban area.

The American writer and longtime Moroccan resident Paul Bowles called it “an enchanted labyrinth sheltered from time.”

Once the end of the gold trading route that stretched all the way to Timbuktu, Fez has the oldest continuously functioning university in the world, the University of Al-Karaouine, founded by women in AD859.

Today people live and work in its 9000 laneways much the same way as they have for a thousand or so years. Craft guilds still produce butter-soft leather, copper ware, cactus-silk cloth and much more. Donkeys remain the main form of transport.

If you’d like some insider tips on getting beneath the tourist trail in Fez and connecting with the locals, see my post Insider’s...

Read More

Photo Friday: Sailboats at the Tuileries in Paris

Model sail boats for rent in the Tuileries gardens in Paris

I took this picture of the rickety cart filled with handmade wooden sailboats with their much-patched sails one spring day in the Tuileries gardens in Paris.

In fact, I’ve taken pictures of these boats  and the kids sailing them every time I have visited Paris over the past 25 years. And the same man has been there renting them every single time. I’ve tried to talk to him over the years to learn a little bit more about him, where he makes the boats and mends the sails and just how long he has been doing this. But he is a cagey fellow and doesn’t like all those inquisitive questions.  His face is tanned from spending every afternoon outside in the park, summer and winter, rain or shine.

The first time I saw him my oldest daughter was just a babe in arms and she has now just announced her engagement at the age of 26! I feel like he has watched my family grow up just like he must have seen hundreds of other little kids get big and have children of their own, which they bring down to th...

Read More

Photo Friday: Packing Prosecco Picnic in Victoria’s King Valley

Forges Farm offers a Packing Prosecco picnic in the King Valley

I took this Photo Friday image in the bucolic King Valley in Victoria’s High Country.

The afternoon sun glints on the Prosecco glasses set beside platters of local Milawa cheeses and crusty bread. Ancient river red gums shade our picnic area, set with hessian-covered hay bales, blankets and bright pillows as Hereford cows feast on clover in a nearby paddock. Our horses also enjoyed chomping on those sweet green grasses on the 20-minute pack horse ride…more of a lazy amble really…to the picnic spot along the King River on Forges Farm.

How do you pack a horse

Fifth generation cattle farmers Anne Marie and Graham Forge are the last original settler family on the King River. Before we had set out, they’d demonstrated the fine art of packing horses, once used to take supplies into the high country.

“I am so proud to be living and working on the same piece of property as my forefathers,” says Anne Marie. “And it’s great to be able to show visitors our packhorse skills.”

Lo...

Read More

Photo Friday: Hiking the Pyrenees’ Green Hills

Pyrenees-Photo-Friday

I took this picture of my husband when our family embarked on a three-day walk in the Pyrenees in early summer, not far from the town of St Jean Pied de Port. It is the last stop in France on the pilgrimage route over the Pyrenees to St James grave in St. Jacques de Compostela. This is one of Europe’s most well-known and also very crowded walks but there are equally spectacular trails, such as this one above the Valley of the Nive, that are completely deserted.

The Pyrenees form the border between France and Spain. At lower elevations there are dozens of moderate trails that traverse a softly folding landscape of limestone hills covered in lime green grasses dotted with grazing sheep which supply delicious brebis cheese for the hungry walker.

France is a walker’s paradise...

Read More

Photo Friday: The Spectacular Great Ocean Walk

VICTORIA-end-of-the-Great-Ocean-Walk

I took this picture at the Twelve Apostle’s end of The Great Ocean Walk. I think this image demonstrates just how wonderful it is to be away from the bus loads of tourists while appreciating the spectacular views of the limestone stacks.

It is an almost mythic land and seascape of sweeping beaches, serrated cliffs and misty rainforests that begs to be appreciated at a walker’s pace. Yet this virulent stretch of Victorian coastline has always been known as one of the world’s great DRIVES along The Great Ocean ROAD.

In 1994 a group of locals had a vision to offer something more and the passion to make it a reality. Today the 100-kilometer Great Ocean Walk between Apollo Bay and the 12 Apostles offers one of the finest coastal walks in the world. It traverses a secret landscape left behind as the Great Ocean Road weaves away from the coast through forest and farmland in its rush to reach the 12 Apostles...

Read More

Photo Friday: California’s Big Sur coastline

big-sur-photo-friday

Highway One, which snakes along the spectacular Big Sur coastline, is one of the world’s great drives offering splendid vistas of mountains plunging into the often mist-shrouded Pacific Ocean.

Big Sur is a sparsely populated region of the Central Coast of California, between San Francisco and Los Angeles, where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. The Name ‘Big Sur’ is derived from the Spanish ‘el sur grande’ meaning ‘the big south’ referring to its location south of the Monterey Peninsula.

Because of its relative isolation and natural beauty, Big Sur has been a magnet for artists and writers including Henry Miller, Edward Weston, Hunter S. Thompson and Jack Kerouac.

To check out one of Big Sur’s iconic institutions, read my post on The Esalen Institute, which focuses on alternative humanistic eduction. Often nicknamed ‘The New Age Harvard’, it is a spectacular retreat center and hot springs perched on the cliffs over the Pacific Ocean...

Read More

Photo Friday: Japanese snow monkeys

Photo Friday: Japanese snow monkey

I shot this photo in winter when this Japanese snow monkey and his friends were enjoying their hot springs baths in snow-covered Jigokudani Yaenkoen park, not far from Nagano on the island of Honshu.

These snow monkeys are Japanese macaque, a monkey species native to northern Japan and the most northern-living non-human primate surviving winter temperatures below -15 degrees centigrade.

To see the monkeys in their natural environment you walk up alongside the Yokoyu River, which is nicknamed Hell’s Valley because of its steep cliffs and hot water steaming out from the ground. It is fun to watch them going about their business…playing, eating, running around and soaking in the onsen. There is a lot of social activity to enjoy with mothers and babies and alpha males. And it is remarkable how their faces and hands and all their emotions are so like our own.

If you would like to try soaking in an onsen yourself, check out my post on Kusatsu, which is much more human friendly!

icon-car.pngKML-LogoFullscreen-LogoQR-code-logoGeoJSON-LogoGeoRSS-LogoWikitude-Logo
Japanese s...
Read More