Friday, November 27, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Indonesia - Java - Bromo and Ijen - volcano treks - May 2009

I joined a tour to visit Bromo and Ijen volcanoes. just grabbed a hotel brochure and rang a number. Only two of us going - myself and a French Canadian lady, Helene.

We were picked up on time by a guide and a driver. These guys were nice, friendly and very helpful.

We drove along the west coast of Bali, stopping whereever we wanted to have a look and take photos. We even stopped at a temple for a blessing for a voyage to Java.

At Gilmanuk, Bali we boarded the ferrry to bali. The port was well organised and very tidy. The trip was good as we sat on the top deck and enjoyed the approaching view of java and the diminishing view of Bali.

At Java, we landed at Ketapang harbour, then we drove a short while and stopped for lunch.

The journey to the Arabica hotel started as coastal towns then we drove steadily upwards through smaller towns and villages. Eventually, we were driving through dense rainforest and a deteriorating road. we were happy but the driver was finding it harder and harder to neogotiate the rutted road. The road finally levelled out and we meandered along between coffee plantations.

The Arabica Hotel was nice. Nothing fancy but clean and the food was good.

It was late afternoon so we walked dowwn the road and through the local village. The people were very friendly and proud of their village. They explained that most people in the villaged worked either in the coffee plant or in the fields. The village wealth was evident in well organised lanes and houses with small gardens.

Wandering back up the hill, we walked among the houses just a short distance from the hotel. One family invited us into home where we were introduced to the kids and grandparents. The view over the valley from the back of the house was very pretty.

The next morning, we were up early and drove a short distance to the start of the Ijen walk. The trail was basically a rutted road leading through the trees. Every now and then there were magical views over the Javanese landscape. Along the way, we noticed an ever increasing amount of baskets full with sulphur resting by the side of the trail.

We arrived at a mist-filled clearing with a small shelter. Around the shelter were a number of workers who were carrying the baskets of sulphur down the hill.

We continued on with the mist descending upon us at intervals obscuring our vision until it lifted. We reached a sign and the edge of the crater rim. We walked along the rim but the crater was filled with low cloud and mist. We picked a nice spot and sat and watched the workers appear from the depth of the crater with baskets laden with sulpur or going the opposite way with empty baskets.

The mist began to lift after about 1/2 hour revealing a massive milky blue lake in the base of the steep crater with plumes of sulphuric smoke bellowing from one spot near the edge of the lake. We climbed slowly down the steep path while the localss ran past us.

At the bottom there was a small, flat clearing next to the plumes of sulphuric clouds that issued from the bowels of the crater. It was amazing watching these guys walk into the mist of poisonous gas and come out coughing and spluttering laden with baskets of sulphur.

We continued to the lake edge. I was tempted to try the water. On the edge it warm but after one step it was hot. hot, hot. Putting my shoes back on I realised I had just had an instant exfoliation. Problems started now as the sulpur cloud began to descend on the lake edge as a total whiteout. For a while, there was no oxygen and I had to hit the ground low to breathe. Luckily, it lasted a short time but for days i was coughing and sputtering like the locals.

We made our way back up the steep rocky track to the rim of the crater. We talked at length to one of the workers. He told us of tourists falling to their deaths and that the workers did this job every alternate day (to recover) for 100 0000 rupiahs. This is considered to be excellent money but very unhealthy.
We walked back down the mountain and drove back to the hotel and then a very long drive to Bromo and the Cemara Hotel. The countryside along the way was very changeable and pretty. Our driver use to drive trucks along these roads and told us many stories of his trips via our guide.

Bromo was an incredible sight to arrive at late afternoon. We were on a crater edge looking over the sea of sand with Bromo as a distinctive sight bellowing smoke. Other volcanoes contributed to the background of this awesome vista.

The next morning, we were up in the dark and on our ponies. We rode to the base of Bromo over the sea of sand and climbed the steps to the crater rim. The rim was guarded for a short distance by a low castle-like wall and path. We walked to the far end of the wall and sat watching the sun gradually rise over the volcanic foreground. Unfortunately, clouds of sulphur would descend upon us making it difficult to breathe.

The top of the rim was also quite a social scene with a small number of tourist from all over the world and other parts of Java. We had a few conversations and learnt a bit more on life in Java.We descended the stairs and rode our ponies back to the hotel.

The journey back to Bali was about 12 hours with eating and stops. Along the way, we met a few locals and had some interesting conversations.

I was tired when we got back and my cloths and myself stunk of sulphur.

Overall, it was excellent – the Javanese, views, craters and countryside made it a worthwhile trip.


Price was approximately $US295. The trip length was three days and three nights.

Take a damp scarf – use as a sulphur gas mask

Take warm clothes – cold at hotels at night and on craters

Sunday, November 15, 2009

AUSTRALIA - Seal Rocks - headland, sugarloaf point and lighthouse, treachery headland - HIKES - October 2009

We camped at Treachery, Seal Rocks for a few days. The camping area had no fixed sites. It was pleasant and shady.

In the area we did three walks.

AUSTRALIA - Seal Rocks - treachery beach, boat beach, seal rocks beach, sugarloaf beach - October 2009

Seal Rocks has a number of great beaches within a short distance to each other.

AUSTRALIA - Williams River - 0ctober 2009

We drove along the road from Dungog to Williams River and bacck via Ecceston wandering around at varoious places along the way.

There were small towns, farms, swimming holes, rivers and a  film set.

Turn left at the intersection of the Williams top and Salisbury Roads to the national park Williams River day use area. The trail starts here.

The track passes through eucalypt and rainforests via bridges. Along the way there are gorges, swimming holes, dense bush and creeks along a well ddefined track.

Time: 2 hours to 2 1/2 hours

AUSTRALIA - Jerusalem Creek Forest Park and Chichester Dam - october 2009

The nearest town is Dungog. Drive along the Chichester Dam Road and turn right after Brandon Grove. The road is gravel.

The start of the trail is signposted. The trail runs for 2 km through various eucalypt forests. at one point you can go left or right. Right takes you to a camp site and left to a rocky section of the Jersalem Creek. We went left.

Return the same way to get to Chichester Dam but turn right at the intersection. There are short walks, a picnic area a short distance from the dam wall and walking on the upper dam wall.

AUSTRALIA - Monkerai Valley - riverside downs - october 2009

Riverwood Downs Mountain Valley Resort is located on the banks of a mountain river in the foothills of the BARRINGTON TOPS. It is located in a beautiful rural area known as the "MONKERAI VALLEY" between the towns of STROUD and GLOUCESTER.

Address: 311 Upper Monkerai Road
Town/Region: Monkerai
Post Code: 2415
State: NSW
Country: Australia
Phone: 02 4994 7112
Fax: 02 4994 7047

Riverwood Downs have a range of activities:

Horse Riding
Bush Walking
Bird Watching
Night Wildlife Safari
Pool or snooker
Table Tennis
Platypus Spotting

There are a large number of unpowered riverside camping sites which are situated on manicured lawns, along our river flats on the head waters of the Karuah River. Limited number of powered sites are available. There are hot showers in the amenities block and a coin-operated laundry facility. Camp fires are allowed on unpowered sites. The kiosk sells ice creams, takeaway food, devonshire teas, cold drinks, bread, milk, gas and ice with a small selection of personal and basic provisions. No fresh fruit, vegetables or meats are available.

AUSTRALIA - Bonnie Hills - January 2009

We camped at Bonnie Hills for about a week. The beaches were great and there were lots of places to visit.

Bonny Hills is situated on hills between North Haven and Lake Cathie. The nearest large town is Port Macquarie. From the south turn off the Pacific Highway at Kew.

Bonny Hills is a small, quiet town on the NSW mid north coast. There are two nearby beaches – Barletts Beach , which is small, surrounded by small cliffs and rocky points and Rainbow Beach, which is a beautiful, long sandy beach. The southern corner of Rainbow Beach is a patrolled beach.

The town is quiet with a general store and petrol.

Camping accommodation

There are two camping areas:

Bonnie Hills Caravan Park – – 0265855276. This park has a great view over the ocean but most camp sites are sloped. It is a short walk down to Rainbow Beach.

Beachfront Caravan Park – 0265599193. This park is just of the beach and has leveled sites


There are many activities in the area:

Stroll along Rainbow and Barletts Beach.
Beach/river fishing
Surfing – Bonny Hills, Middle Rock, Dunbogan, Grants Beach, North Haven, Lighthouse Beach
Queens Lake State Forest – walks and views
Katang Nature Reserve – walks, lookouts and great beaches
Lake Cathie NR - can only be visited with a ranger
Grants Beach
Port Macquarie
Broken Bago State forest – views and walk
Wilson River reserve - short walks
River cruises/boat hire/canoe hire/ – based at North Haven/Laurieton/Port Macquarie
Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park’s Wetlands - an oasis at the heart of Port Macquarie.
Timbertown Hertiage Theme park, Wauchope - a re-creation of daily life in pioneer days
Bellbrook Historic Trust Village - Bellbrook – beautiful mountain and river scenery.
North Brother Lookout – can drive to top.
Ellenborough Falls
Crowdy Bay National Park
Horseriding –
Mini and hydro golf – 65833200
Go carting - 02 65863555
Billabong Koala and Wildlife Park – 0265851060
Jet ski hire - 0265838811

More information at:

AUSTRALIA - Hawks Nest - Yacaaba Heads base - HIKE - January 2009

Walk along Hawkes Nest Beach to the southern end to reach Yacaaba Heads.

The walk starts off easy with a track leading over the rocky base of the headland. A few small beaches are passed along the way until the path ends and the rocks become huge and cliff edge of the headland dominates.

Now the walk becomes a scramble and climb over and under rocks and edging along the cliff edge. At times, the only way to pass is high and at others it is close to the water line. There were also parts where you had to hang upside down to lower yourself to the level below. Hard but fun.

Eventually, the way becomes impassable either high or low without becoming dangerous due to deep crevasses in the sheer cliff face.

Time: 3 hours

AUSTRALIA - Myall Lakes NP - Mungo Brush - rainforest HIKE - january 2009

Travelling along the Mango Brush Road northwards takes one to Myall Lakes National Park. At Mango Brush camping area there is a rainforest walk that runs close and next to the lake. It is a short walk that leads to another camp area.

The track is a trail some of the time with dense rainforest, lizards and birdlife.

The lake is excellent for swimming or other water sports.

time: about 1 hour return

AUSTRALIA - Hawks Nest - Bennett Beach - january 2009

Hawks Nest is on the northern side of Port Stephens, to the south of Myall Lakes National Park and next to the township of Teagardens. The area has long, unspoilt beaches and a number of national parks with short and long walks.


The town has all facilities and two camping areas.
Jimmys Beach Caravan Park - (02) 4997 0466
This is beside a beautiful calm beach in Port Stephens.
Hawks Nest Beach Caravan Park - (02) 4997 0239. This is beside a beautiful beach with waves.
Between the two camping areas is a long sand spit that ends at Yacaaba Head.


Myall Lakes NP
Smiths and Wallis Lake
Fishing in the lakes, the bay or out in the ocean.
Bird-watching on Myall Lakes.
A long stroll along Hawks Nest Beach.
Mungo Brush Road through Myall Lakes National Park is very pretty. A car punt crosses the river to continue on to Buladelah.
Ferry to Nelson Bay – and watch for dolphins.
Look for koalas in the reserve along Kingfisher Avenue.
Walk to the top of Yacaaba Head, which guards the northern approach to Port Stephens.
Singing bridge between Hawks Nest and Teagardens in a strong south east wind.
Yacaaba head walk .
Rainforest walk from Mango Brush camp ½ hour
Dark point walk
Surf at hole in the walk, dark point and inside Port stephens (on huge southerly swell)
Sandduning – dark point
Kayak hire
River cruise
Argonaut 02 49970457 to offshore Broughton Island.
Bike riding - area is flat plus in some areas of national park.
Windsurfing and kiteboarding on Hawks Nest Beach and Jimmy's Beach.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

AUSTRALIA - Hawks Nest - Yacaaba Head summit - HIKE - january 2009

This was a great walk. Starting from the carpark on the beach near the surf club, it is a pleasant stroll along the beach to the base of Yacaaba Head. A sign indicates the beginning of the track. The track is a moderately steep with lots of spots to stop and enjoy the views along Hawkes Nest Beach and the surrounding hinterland.

At the top, a short walk further on gives good views of Port Stephens and the coast to the south. On the return cool off with a swim.

Time: 2 to 3 hours with 1 1/2 hours being the beach walk.


A relatively very cold winter in Australia. We had been waiting a long time for our next overseas trip and it always seems so far away but t...