Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Get Up & Go: Macquarie Island - cooler than ever!

Get Up & Go: Macquarie Island - cooler than ever!

Macquarie Island - cooler than ever!

Get Up & Go guest blogger, Roderick Eime returns to the new, pest-free Macquarie Island after five years.

It's a bit like preparing for a military operation as we are plucked by the beleaguered deckhands from the stern transom into the lurching Zodiac. Trussed up in numerous layers of Gortex and looking almost like space explorers, we endure the biting sea spray whipped up by 30kt gusts as we seat our clumsy bottoms around the inflatable tender.
We push off and head to shore and are immediately hit by a brutal wave over the bow, drenching the first row of passengers. The enemy is not entrenched in bunkers on the beach awaiting our arrival, but rather blowing all around us like an angry bellows, whipping stinging spray into our faces and buffeting our Zodiac as if at the hand of a child's tantrum.

Landing on the cobble beach at Buckles Bay is notoriously treacherous, but one of the few locations near the ANARE base where one is possible. In 1948 when the modern base was established, it was more out of respect for history than practicality. The site of Sir Douglas Mawson's original 1911 site was used and expanded rather than a more accessible one found with a safe harbour and solid foundation.

Silversea staff are waist deep in frothing surf as our Zodiac is quickly backed up against the stony shore. One by one, between sets of breakers, we are hauled out of the rubber craft and deposited on the beach with some relief but also a sense of excitement at having completed the tricky job of getting ashore.

Apart from meteorology, biology and the reception of up to 1000 visitors per year, the base hosts TasmanianParks and Wildlife Service staff who recently celebrated the total eradication of introduced pests from Macquarie Island. No mean feat in itself, the eight year project involved the team of 12 hunters and 11 dogs walking 92,000km in search of surviving pests after the end of the aerial baiting program in 2011.
Alien species like horses, donkeys, pigs, cattle, goats, dogs and sheep were relatively easy to deal with. Cats took bit longer, with the last feline removed in 2000 after a decade-long campaign, but the rabbits, rats and mice proved the toughest task, requiring a combination of poisoning and hunting to reach total success. Even now, vermin patrols will be maintained for the time being to be absolutely certain.
After my first visit in 2010, the islands enthusiastic regeneration was evident with renewed vegetation regrowth covering the previously barren sections on hillsides and slopes. The four species of breeding penguin and albatross, as well as numerous other migratory seabirds can now nest unmolested on this southern paradise once brought to the brink by the careless and greedy hand of man.

Roderick Eime writes regularly on Expedition and Adventure Cruising at www.expeditioncruising.com

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Get Up & Go: Traffic takes its toll

Get Up & Go: Traffic takes its toll

Traffic takes its toll

In his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of the traveller, Get Up & Go guest writer, David Ellis says that while many a conversation may turn to our wondrously time-saving – and coincidentally revenue raising – toll roads, there’s nothing quite new about them in Australia.
For soon after arriving in Sydney Town back in 1810, Governor Lachlan Macquarie was charging folk to use major roads, bridges and ferries, and within 50 years some 34 toll gates were in operation across the colony.
Around a third were on the Great Southern Road from Sydney to the village of Bowral in the NSW Southern Highlands, and from there onwards to Goulburn and ultimately Albury on the Murray River.


Early toll gate on Sydney’s George Street South in 1836; next to it is Governor
Macquarie’s Benevolent  Asylum “for the relief of the poor, aged and infirm.” (State
Library of NSW)

Charges were based on the type of animals being herded on roads, bridges or ferries, starting from a penny per head per toll sector for sheep and pigs, to two pence per horse or mule. Farm vehicles were charged by their number of wheels and horses pulling them, and stage-coaches up to one shilling and sixpence per sector – a pricey way to get to Goulburn which could take up to 30 hours and a near-dozen toll gates.
And pedestrians were charged a penny just to walk across a toll bridge.
Road users were anything but happy, for although some roads were given gravel surfaces, on others stage-coaches, drays, carts, and horses and livestock floundered axle- and shin-deep in mud after heavy rains.
After years of public protests, Macquarie’s toll roads were eventually abandoned in 1877.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Get Up & Go: Top tips for solo travellers

Get Up & Go: Top tips for solo travellers

Top tips for solo travellers

Every woman should travel solo at least once in their life, for the sense of empowerment and confidence it brings. For first time solo-travellers, touring with a women’s group is a great option especially if you are not completely confident going on your own.
Companies like Travelling Divas offer the ability to travel with a group of like-minded women who are passionate about travel, but also offers the flexibility to have your own space and step outside your comfort zone.
Founder of Travelling Divas Andrea Powis has compiled a list of top tips and tricks learned over many years of solo and group travel.

1. Research everything
Before you head off, research everything:

 Sites like Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet and Smart Traveller can provide great insight from travellers who have visited your destination before to give you a realistic idea of what to expect. If you get flustered by foreign languages, choose a destination with lots of English speakers. If you get distressed by poverty, stick with developed countries.

 Arrive early for every train, plane or boat ride. When you're not sweating the small stuff, you can concentrate on the things that are actually fun.

 Once you arrive, try to get your bearings as soon as possible. The first thing I do when I land in a new city is to go for a walk. Once you have a rough idea of where things are, you'll feel more confident exploring different areas.

2. Safety

Carry cash, a map, a guidebook, translation book (in a foreign speaking country) and be sure to check your maps and transportation schedules before leaving the hotel.
When withdrawing cash, do so during the day in busy streets, as opposed to at night with few people around.
The single best way to avoid unwelcome attention is not to look like a tourist. In a foreign city, I wear pretty much what I'd wear at home, occasionally adjusted to reflect local sensibilities.

3. Be flexible

The ability to ‘go with the flow’ is one of the best things about travelling alone – there is nothing wrong with taking a day of rest lazing by the pool if that’s what you want to do.


4. Pack light
If you do need to pack bulky items such as winter gear, consider taking two small bags instead of one larger one. Smaller bags are easier to move around and will fit beside you on the back seat of a taxi, instead of being stored in the boot.

5. Share the experience

One of the joys of travelling with others is that you will always have someone to share the experience with. You may want to consider joining a group tour for part of your journey to break-up the time you spend on your own – and you may even make a life-long friend to reminisce with after your return.


Destinations best seen by group tours or for experienced solo travellers:

Women travelling by themselves will be surprised at how protective many local men are - it's the same in the Middle East. What many travellers find challenging, however, is the extremes of rich and poor on display - and that's harder to process when by yourself.


There is much to love about Peru, from Incan ruins to the Amazon. However, many of the country's most memorable experiences - from exploring Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, to hiking the Colca Canyon - are more enjoyable with a friend.


Spain is a destination of choice for thousands of tourists every year and in the major cities a solo female traveller won't raise any eyebrows with the locals. However, English is not widely spoken in the regional/rural areas and it can be more comfortable to travel with someone who speaks the language.


Travelling Divas specialises in women’s travel with an expansive list of destinations and options for solo-travellers. For more information visit: www.travellingdivas.com.au  

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