You might have noticed that I am blogging less often as I used to. It’s not that I have nothing to say or write about. And it’s definitely not that I don’t want to keep blogging. I do. Life is simply keeping me very busy these days.
But here are the good news: I keep on photographing. That’s why I recently updated most of my photo galleries on this site and you are welcome to have a look at what I’ve been up to in 2016 and at the beginning of this year.
As we travelled from Cairns to Brisbane (North to South) we discovered that Queensland is much more than sunny beaches, surfers and adventure parks. There are also endless stretches of straight boring roads, millions of acres of sugar cane and in between — these treasures…
Mossman Gorge, not far from the Daintree National Park
On hot summer days, bathing tourists at Mossman Gorge often become victims of peculiar thiefs
After a short ferry ride, Daintree National Park and its mangrove forests lie ahead
Huge carpets of sand balls created by millions of crabs
These crabs have a different technique
Tall fan palms are a great rain protection on gray days
Ants are green in Daintree NP
And then there is also this: The Cassowary is a big flightless bird native to north eastern Australia and New Guinea. It’s rare and you need to be really lucky to see one. This one decided to cross the street in front of our campervan :)
A fig tree skeleton
Typical for Daintree: Trees with enormous roots. You see me standing behind it?
Teaching a whining wallaby
Mereeba is a beautiful location to get in touch with these cuties
There are 2 of them!
Cairns is clearly the “Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef”
We took the boat till the Outer Reef…
…and discoverd a different universe
Heaps of fish
Big fish (it doesn’t look like on the photo, but this one was at least 1,5 m)
Curious spectators under the boat
Hervey Bay thunderstorm
This is the perfect spot for some serious whale watching
Humpback Whales reside in Hervey Bay
This one enjoys the fresh rain water as a change to the salty water he lives in
Whale waves rainbow
Fraser Island Beach
Fraser Island is a sand island which can only be crossed with 4WD, or special tourist buses
Funnily enough, a tropic rain forest is growing on the sandy soil of Fraser Island
Fresh water lake on Fraser Island (Lake McKenzie)
Maheno shipwreck on Fraser Island
The coastal walk at Noosa is spectecular (and popular)
“Wild Horse Mountain Lookout” over the Glashouse Mountains
Snorkeling the Outer Reef of Cairns gave us a tiny glimpse into an uncomparable underwater universe. Our goal that day was to see a sea turtle; we were lucky enough to swim with one. We hope to be back one day!
Please excuse the camera shake. We actually went out several kilometres to get to the Outer Reef. Big waves were rolling in right behind the corals, making quiet snorkeling almost impossible ;)
How could I ever squeeze the words “freezing”, “dry”, “red”, “traditional”, “heat”, “crocodile”, “billabong”, “blue” and “bushfire” into one photo essay description without writing a novel? You’re right, I can’t. So let me just briefly discuss some weather phenomenons of the Northern Territory, which create a huge natural variety and diversity on the 1,800 kilometres between Australia’s tropical North and the continent’s arid centre.
During our first week in the Red Centre — around Alice Springs — we didn’t see a single cloud. Unfortunately, that clear blue sky over the desert didn’t offer much protection when temperatures dropped from comfortable 20°C over the day to uncomfortable 0°C at night. Camping fun!
That said, taking the plane to Darwin to spend our second week in the Northern Territory’s tropical North sounded like the greatest thing since sliced bread. Due to the wet season, when tropical cyclones and monsoons reign the northern top end, the Darwin region gets 9 times more rain each year than the central desert. While it didn’t rain during our stay (July = dry season), we got to see some clouds up north; and we were finally back to comfortable camping temperatures at night.
Let’s have a look at how these weather differences influence(d) the land, nature and animals of the Northern Territory.
Typical morning routine: A hot beverage to forget the freezing night temperatures
Uluru — Ayers Rock — is the reason why thousands of tourists travel thousands of kilometres through the Australian desert each year
Some shapes, like this wave, are inexplicable (if you don’t believe in the Aboriginies’ mythology)
The moon over Uluru, which isn’t all that smooth on the surface and actually reminds me of New Zealand Kauri
Each evening, Uluru does its magic when it’s turning redder and redder
Every morning the same procedure…
Sunrise over The Olgas (Kata Tjuta)
These large domed rock formations are not far from Uluru but lesser known
The Kata Tjuta Rim Walk leads through beautiful landscapes, though it’s often unsheltered and tough in hot summer temperatures
Kings Canyon, another red National Park in the NT
To be honest, I preferred the walks and views over Kings Canyon to Ayers Rock and The Olgas
Enjoying the sunrise on the Kings Canyon Rim Walk
Ghost Gum, a rare evergreen eucalyptus tree growing in rocky and arid regions of the NT
Harsh desert conditions are tough on plants, which often appear spiky
That’s the soil such plants can grow on in the West McDonnell Ranges (Trephina Gorge) near Alice Springs
A species found in the East McDonnell Ranges
Ormiston Gorge reflections (sorry for the mind play :) )
Perfect reflections like this one are only visible in the early morning or late evening hours when the wind settles down
Ellerlie Creek Dolomite Walk — a kangaroo’s paradise
Nature is the best artist!
Waterhole at Ellerlie Creek (10°C)
Taking the plane from Alice Springs to Darwin; flying over the beautifully meandering Adelaide River
Must do from Darwin: Visiting the Kakadu National Park
Marveling at the sunset over these wide plains with heaps of billabongs
It isn’t recommended to go close to billabongs since crocodiles live in there
So we focused on the tiny animal world…
…and flowers growing on arid soil
The NT is and always has been home to many Aboroginies
Their culture and dreamtime stories are well documented and explained in the National Parks as well as museums nearby
Kakadu NP: yellow flowers
Kakadu NP: Yellow Water
When joining a Yellow Water Cruise, locals will guide you really close to these inhabitants of the billabongs
Crocodile blending in. That’s why they’re so dangerous and unpredictable
Lotus flowers on the Yello Water billabongs
Bushfire between Kakadu NP and Litchfield NP
Litchfield is known for its amazing termite mound landscapes. Besides the cathedral mounds that you can also see in Kakadu NP, Litchfield is home to magnetic termites, building their mounds in a Nort-South direction to avoid that their homes heat up too much
This cathedral termite mound is over 3 metres tall
Litchfield’s waterholes serve as natural pools, which are frequented by locals as well as tourists
After walking around this natural pool in the midday sun, nothing could stop us from jumping straight in
Last sunset over Darwin before heading East to Queensland (photo essay to come)
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After a 1 hour bus ride through Singapore’s CBD in 2011 (transit tourism), we figured it could be fun to spend more time in that city-state. So we went back for 1 week this year, crashing at friends.
While malicious tongues claim it’s not worth it to spend a whole week in Singapore, we wouldn’t agree. We were actually quite occupied, never bored, and didn’t even manage to see all places of interest. The locations we enjoyed most were the ones standing out for their colourful appearance. Please click on the photos below to read their captions and learn more.
Marina Bay Sands
Free Marina Bay Sands laser show; every night at 8pm
The ArtScience Museum in the shape of a lotus flower
Macaques are a common sight in Singapore’s reserves
They have no fear of humans
They LOVE orchids in Singapore
The National Orchid Garden provides place for 60,000 orchid plants
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown
Sacrificial offerings (Buddha Tooth Relic Temple)
Incense sticks (Buddha Tooth Relic Temple)
The Museum within the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is very worth visiting
Besides beautiful art, visitors can learn about the history of Buddha
Little India surprised with this colourful house
Sadly, not all buildings in Little India look as fun
Singapore’s Zoo is a must see; plan in the full day
Make sure to visit some of the Zoo’s daily shows
Singapore Zoo followed the modern trend of displaying animals in naturalistic, ‘open’ exhibits with hidden barriers (= monkeys everywhere)
A Green Tree Phyton
A Diamondback Rattlesnake close-up (looks like a B&W photo, though it isn’t)
Anja’s “Singapore To Do List” (for a 1 week visit):
Stroll around the Marina Bay to soak up the skyline (best combined with the daily laser show schedule)
Visit the Marina Bay Sands casino (bring your passport since you officially “leave” Singapore when entering the place) and cocktail bar on the roof (you better win some cash in the casino for this one)
Marvel at beautiful native plants and orchids in the Botanical Garden
Visit China Town and plan in enough time for the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, shopping and lunch
Walk in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and watch out for macaques
Do the 11km circuit to the Tree Top Walk and back in MacRitchie Reservoir
Visit Singapore’s Zoo and try to join 2 or 3 of their daily animal shows or feeding sessions
For more shopping, Orchard Street is a must, though I admit it made me really tired
Shopping on a local market however is fun; try to taste (or completely avoid) Durian fruits
Got time left?
Visit one of the men-made islands (e.g. Sentosa) in the South for some beach flair
Book a 1-hour-flight to Kuala Lumpur and visit Malaysia for a day
New Zealand’s National Wildlife Centre, Pukaha Mount Bruce, is a place where I could easily spend a few hours.
Perfect welcome ceremony at Pukaha Mount Bruce (not sure they do that every day though ;) )
While the Centre is famous among tourists for having a rare white kiwi – Manukura – it was the first place in New Zealand where I had the chance to see a kokako (after 3.5 years in the country).
Kokakos are native birds who have different songs (“dialects”) depending on where they live. They are extremely endangered; only 40 of them are living wild in the Pukaha forest!
Tuataras – “living fossils” that were already around during the age of the disonsaurs – are always nice to observe. Though I wasn’t 100% sure who was actually observing whom…
The main attraction at Pukaha Mount Bruce are the daily eel feeding sessions. Volunteers are very welcome!
Beside enjoying some gentle strokes, the Pukaha longfin eels want to be fed with a silver spoon.
Their diet: Veggies with bacon and a couple of mice for dessert. Yummi!
Beside nature reserves like Pukaha Mount Bruce, community driven projects for bird recovery and pest control are a popular method to protect New Zealand’s native tuataras and endangered bird species like kiwis and kokakos.
Listen to the sound of the video below to get an impression of how a New Zealand forest can sound like thanks to successful pest control management and animal protection. I’m loving it!