Saturday, February 29, 2020

Suiting up for Great Barrier Reef

 Stinger Suits are required for snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef. The stinger and box jellies don't normally come out this far (30 miles off shore)  but, better to be safe than dead, I always say.

Donning Stinger Suits for our day at GBR-Gail Betts Photo
Linda Goldman, Julie Zabilski, Ann Nielsen, Linda Ballou
The busy harbor in Cairns is where tourists board vessels for a day of snorkeling and diving on the reef. It was raining the February morning we left for the 30-mile cruise to our first snorkel stop, Simpsons Reef, but it cleared by the time we reached our destination. Stinger jellies are not this far from the shore, but we suited up in lycra stinger suits just in case some did not get the memo. Half of the 180 passengers on board were celebrating Chinese New Year. Amazingly, we were all fitted with masks and snorkels, and entered the 80-degree water with military precision. Those who didn’t snorkel took a submarine cruise with viewing windows.
Linda in the center of  Simpson Reef snorkel spot
Great Barrier Reef from Below

The reef’s coral heads look like giant pudgy brains in colors ranging from murky brown to emerald green and electric blue in an unending variety of shapes and sizes. Fishes of many colors flit in and out of the crannies and cubbyholes that afford protection from predators. The giant clam that can reach 400 pounds and the giant green turtles are a thrill to spot. I almost walked on water when I spied two 5-foot moray eels slithering through the reef near the ocean floor. The reef which is over 125 miles in length and has over 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands, is endangered. The temperature of the water has been getting warmer each year for the last four years. Climate change is causing acidification, and bleaching of the corals which means death to the reef jeopardizing all the marine creatures that depend upon it to survive.
Great Barrier Reef from Above

Linda Ballou is an adventure travel writer with a host of travel articles on her site You will also find information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales from Alaska to New Zealand, and Lost Angel in Paradise where she shares her  favorite  hikes and day trips on the coast of California.
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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Desert Flower in the Red Center of OZ

Simpson Gorge in MacDonnel Range-Photo Gail Betts

 Alice Springs is a desert flower in the middle of the striking MacDonnell Range. Hundreds of cockatoos dive-bombed the trees by the welcoming pool and spa in our hotel. A refreshing dip under the full moon and dazzling desert sky took the kinks out of a busy travel day. Alice Springs is literally in the red center of Australia. The famous Larapinta Trail across the spine of the MacDonnel  Range  to Sleeping Woman Mountain that calls to trekkers from around the globe begins here.

 At Simpson Gorge, a billabong that has sustained aboriginal people for thousands of years, we learned about the ways of the tribes who call this land home from Lindsey, a local guide, who is also a wonderful artist. The history of the aboriginal people in Australia is a sad, dark affair. From the time of the early colonists the natives were considered savages and treated as sub-human.  But today, steps are being taken towards reconciliation.
Lindsey with Dr. Lorin Rice and wife Charlotte Derenne
Albert Namatjira was the first of the aboriginal artists to capture this world in watercolor landscapes. He became quite famous for his haunting Ghost Gum trees. So much so, that in 1957 he was the first aboriginal to be deemed human, not just fauna in the natural environment with no rights. He was granted restricted Australian citizenship, which allowed him to vote, own land, build a house and buy alcohol.
Albert Namatjira-Western Range

Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou’s mission is to get to as many beautiful places she can before they are gone! She shares a host of travel articles on her site, along with information about her travel  stories on 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Deep Dive Down Under

Uluru_Kata Tjuta National Park

Just in from the Ultimate Australian Walkabout with OverseasAdventure Travel.  We explored from Melbourne to Sydney with Alice Springs, Uluru and the Daintree Forest in between. Not to mention a day snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef and a dazzling night at the foot of Uluru. With so many micro-climates it is hard to choose a time to year to take this sort of overview trip, but January is summer down under and your best chance of good weather in all of these locals.

I am happy to report that I did not experience any smoke on the journey even though the bush fires were still raging in New South Wales. Australia is as big as the United States in land mass.  Even though the fires were horrific they did not impact the entire country.
Walk beside the Yarra River - Milbourne
The brunt of the fires was felt about 500 miles outside of Sydney. Still, because the fires were the largest in recent memory and were unable to be contained, there was much talk of going back to the controlled burns practiced for thousands of years by aboriginal people. At this writing the region is being flooded by torrential rains that have put out most of the bush fires.
Opera House Sydney Harbor

What an exhilarating run with a free time to explore between discoveries and talks by local guides. I have so much to share that I will be doing it in several articles, as well as, a spot on Around the World TV
180 Million Year Old Daintree Forest

Please stay with me to learn  more about a diverse land of extremes with vibrant cities, the oldest rain forest on earth, the largest coral reef on the planet and  generous and extending people who are very proud of their country.

Linda Ballou, shares a host of articles and information about her travel books on her site  You will find information about her novels and media offerings at

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