Archive for the ‘Travel in Australasia’ Category

I was kidnapped by Victorian Railways in Australia.  I was visitng my brother in Melbourne and he knew I loved train travel.  We were on an inner city circuit and he asked if I would like to go around again.  “Yes, please!”  Unbeknownst to us this particular train changed routes at 3pm and headed off into the hinterland.  Luckily we were able to get off, cross the tracks, and catch a train back to the city in time to retrieve our car, and get to the airport for my flight home to New Zealand.

“The train ran off a different way.
It’s lucky I got home that day.”


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Delightful Dunedin

We found lots of fun things to do in Dunedin.  My favourite was the Tropical Rainforest in the Otago Museum, where a butterfly alighted on my hand, and quails shuffled around our feet.


Here’s a slideshow of some other highlights:

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Back to ‘normal’ life now.

“It’s good to see another place
and to come back to our home base.”


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Many Murals

Dunedin has artworks covering many city walls.  The first I saw was a tuatara nibbling at its tail, which reminded me of an ouroboros.


I enjoyed all of them, and am sorry not to be able to acknowledge the artists.

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“The city walls festooned with art
bring joy to any walker’s heart.”

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On a sunny Friday we drove around the Otago Peninsula.  Fletcher House had been recommended for a visit, but we discovered it’s available only on weekends.  However the Happy Hens shop was open.


We lunched at Portobello, a delightful harbourside village.  I had fond memories of the aquarium there, and seahorses, but sadly that is now closed to the public.  The woman in the café told me it’s been closed since the Canterbury earthquakes, but didn’t know what the connection was.  I wonder if there’s anywhere left in the South Island where I can get a seahorse fix.  Maybe Nelson has an aquarium?

I did get to see my first Lilliput Library in Portobello.  These are a mini version of our local book fridge,  If that ever disappears I would love to host a Lilliput Library.

Lilliput Library

Lilliput Library

Driving back the footpath along the harbour looked inviting so I got Stephen to drop me off by the Edgar Centre.  I walked along enjoying the harbour view and the sight of windsurfers scudding along, while holding tightly to my sunhat.


I was pleased to take a grassy path, past the Harbour Mouth Molars, and into an industrial wharf area.

Harbour Mouth Molars by Regan Gentry

Harbour Mouth Molars by Regan Gentry

No sign of anywhere to cross the busy road, and I carried on beside railway lines and signs saying ‘Look for trains’ until I came to the vehicle overbridge at Jetty Street, thankfully accompanied by a pedestrian overbridge.

Pedestrian Overbridge

Pedestrian Overbridge

“I did enjoy the harbour view
around the edge there’s lots to do.”

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Walking around Dunedin I was continually struck by the solid old buildings, many with attractive adornments.  Sad to see the old Penrose’s Department Store has closed.  It’s good to know the building’s been preserved, but being a Starbucks has robbed it of some dignity.

Once was Penrose's

Once was Penrose’s

I was continually reminded of how much heritage is lost to Christchurch now that 70% of our CBD buildings have gone.  Near the Octagon you hear the Town Hall clock chime every quarter hour – I loved that!  Walking up and down hills and stairs must surely have improved my fitness levels.

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“To see old buildings made me sad
remembering all those we had.”

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Port Chalmers Maritime Museum was fascinating.  Its collection includes all kinds of shipping and pioneer memorabilia, including what is purported to be Shackleton’s typewriter.  In the 19th century deck cabin I saw a Moses basket identical to one we were given by an elderly neighbour when our first daughter was born.  The museum is in a former Post Office building, now registered as Historic Category 1, and surrounded on three sides by a working container port.  You can sit in an upstairs gallery and watch giant gantry cranes moving cargo.

Later we sat outside the Union Co. café.  Great logging trucks passed frequently and the ground shook as each one went by.

We saw the Hotere Sculpture Garden

We saw the Hotere Sculpture Garden

Iona Church Tower has a clock

Iona Church Tower has a clock – useful!

View from Port Chalmers

View from Port Chalmers

The port has interesting shops, some of which were closed on Wednesday morning.  The only people around seemed to be coming from a yoga class in the old Town Hall building.

“Around this Port there’s lots to see
above the hill and on the quay.”


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Southern Sojourn

We drove south across bridges that spanned dry rivers and/or trickling creeks amid braided riverbeds.  It wasn’t until we reached Otago that we saw ‘proper’ rivers.  At a comfort stop in Palmerston we admired Sir John McKenzie’s cairn, set on top of a hill, and reminiscent of Glastonbury Tor.


Our room at the Leviathan Hotel was central and reasonably priced, across the road from Toitu, the Otago Settlers Museum (which lacks an apostrophe) and the railway yards.  There are few trains these days and none were audible at night.


In Oamaru we’d heard thunder and there were intermittent heavy showers after that, so we decided dinner inhouse might be the best option.  The small dining room by the bar was a time warp, resembling dozens of others in provincial hotels, with a typical menu.  I had fish and chips and Stephen had a steak.  Several solitary diners were happy to watch the television, which I could have done without.

Breakfast was in the larger dining room.  This was much more opulent with fascinating memorabilia around the walls, e.g. the specifications for the Hotel’s wartime air rad shelter and a photo of the Royal Family in 1880 (looking very Alf-like).  Candles on all the tables were battery-operated.  There was an adequate buffet breakfast for $20 per head, and we decided to seek something more adventurous the next day.


We saw lots of sights and enjoyed our trip.  It’s also good to be home, with our dear Ziggy now released from the Cattery.

Ziggy's holiday home

Ziggy’s holiday home

“Our darling Ziggy seemed to say
He’d rather we not go away.”


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