Western Australia Wild Flowers Trail

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We departed from Perth driving north up the Coral Coast through the state’s most spectacular displays of Western Australian wildflowers. Our destination was Monkey Mia.

We visited the towns of New Norcia, Northampton, Geraldton, Kalbarri and Denham with many roadside stops in between, viewing and photographing spectacular wildflower areas boasting carpets of yellow, white and pink everlasting wildflowers.
The wildflower collection in Western Australia is the largest on Earth. With more than 12,000 species, over 60% of which are found nowhere else on Earth, they colour the landscapes from coast to forest and city to outback.
Western Australia’s Coral Coast is wildflower country year round, however, displays are at their best between July and October when inland areas are in full bloom and carpets of brilliant colour blanket the region.

Wherever we went along the Coral Coast wildflower trail we were dazzled by the diverse range of wildflowers that were growing along the side of the road. My friends mentioned that the wild flowers were better last year but I was not disappointed with what we saw this year. Here are some of my photos. I hope you enjoy.

One week later we returned to Perth after a truly memorable time on the Coral Coast of Western Australia.

The golden wattle, Australia’s floral emblem.

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Ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Vancouver Island

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Horseshoe Bay looks like a picture on a postcard with its park, the bay, the beautiful mountains, and the ferry boat waiting to leave. It is a small community at the western end of the North shore of Vancouver, a favourite place to spend time for both locals and visitors and is home to the BC ferries terminal.

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My friend Cristina drove me to Horseshoe Bay, in West Vancouver where we enjoyed a great lunch and a glass of the local wine at one of the restaurants overlooking this picturesque port before I left on the afternoon ferry to Nanaimo, Vancouver Island.

Cristina is a fellow blogger who lives in Vancouver. I have been following Cristina’s blog Un po’ di pepe for a few years and finally we met when she was in Brisbane a couple of years ago.

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When I told her that I would be visiting Vancouver she invited me to visit with her. After a terrific time with Cristina in her city, I was then meeting up with my 5W friend Linda on Vancouver Island.

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What a way to travel. I loved my ferry trip across to Vancouver Island. There were some truly spectacular scenes along the way.

The speed they loaded and unloaded two levels at a time made the ease of getting on and off so fast, the comforts of the ferry and amount of seating was amazing and the service was fabulous.

There is so much on offer to do on the ferry. I started off with a short explore to get my bearings and then I stopped for afternoon tea. They have great food with affordable snacks. There was a kid’s play area and there was a gift shop with pretty good value and I thought a great selection of gifts and clothing.  I purchased a really nice hand bag.

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Less than 2 hours after departing Horseshoe Bay I arrived in Nanaimo where my friend Linda was waiting at the pier for me.

The city of Nanaimo is a classic West Coast community, offering natural beauty at every turn. Nanaimo has one of the longest shorelines in Canada, and a forested mountain backdrop just outside downtown. I was soon to learn that Nanaimo is the place to find natural wonders, festivals, culinary joys, and so much more.

 

 

 

Spectacular Spahats Creek Falls

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It does not get much better than a picnic in this beautiful park and that is exactly what we did. Firstly, we stopped by a local super market and bought some snacks and foods to enjoy for our lunch here. We walked a few minutes from the car park and found some large rocks that we sat on to eat our picnic lunch. It was just so nice enjoying Mother nature and was by far so much better than dining in a restaurant

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Spahats Creek Falls, is a waterfall on Spahats Creek within Wells Gray Provincial Park of British Columbia, Canada and is only 10 km off Yellowhead Highway. Spahats is the First Nations term for bear and the stream was once known as Bear Creek.

Spahats Creek rises from snowmelt and springs at a pass, it flows 15 km west before tumbling over Spahats Falls and entering the Clearwater River. This place is absolutely stunning. If you stop to think about how these formations are made, it really makes you appreciate the view so much more

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It was only a quick walk from the parking lot and there it was in all its glory, a beautiful canyon with a viewing area to see the waterfall. There were extensive views from along the footpath. There are steep cliffs around but the fences and viewing areas are very safe and offer amazing views

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The Water was plunging from a deep groove in the canyon into the very deep canyon valley below. The colourful walls of the canyon were covered with overhanging evergreen trees.

I enjoyed the short walk, with each view giving me a different angle of the falls and the colours of the rock cut.

Some of our group walked up further to see the length of the river and the panoramic view of the valley

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The lighting was perfect for taking photos and the view was breath-taking.

Walking on a Glacier

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Yes, I walked on a Glacier.  A humbling experience that was awe inspiring. This moving river of compacted snow/ice is more than just a pretty picture, it signifies millions of years of our history. Scientists believe the Columbia Icefield predates the existence of man and when you see it, you can’t help but feel a sense of your own smallness. The glacial area extends between the summits of Mount Columbia (3,747 metres]) on the west and Mount Athabasca  (3,491 metres) on the east. The Columbia Icefield is the largest ice field in the Rocky Mountains. It covers some 230 sq km to a depth of 365 m and is 28 km long.  The glacier receives an average of 7 metres of new snowfall per year. Not all of that snow can melt in the short summers so it accumulates, turning to ice.

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We arrived at the Columbia Icefields glacier discovery centre and had a look around the gift shop which I thought had some great gifts and clothing items. We did not have to wait long before our shuttle was ready to take us to the giant ice explorer.  I found that all the staff  were really helpful.

Our tour guide, from Perth Australia was confident, full of knowledge and lots of fun  and told us so much about the massive Ice Explorer that we were on and also about the glaciers, the local ecosystem, and environmental changes.

With the steepness of one of the roads that we drove down I was a little uneasy but he assured us that we were very safe and in fact I felt comfortable.

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It was much easier to walk on the glacier than I expected  but I was still very careful as to where I put my feet. There were many little “rivulets” of streams. We spent quite some time up on the glacier. There were many international flags that many of us used in our dozen of photos. I drank the crisp, clear, cold water and filled my water bottle with what is known as the purest water on earth.

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This visit to the Columbia glacier was one of the highlights of my trip to the Rockies and despite the high cost I recommend it. It is such a unique experience that I cannot really compare to anything I have ever done.  It was definitely a very moving experience that I cherished every moment of.

 

 

Beautiful Banff and its Stunning Views

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For many more years than I can remember I have dreamed about visiting Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper, which was my main reason for my trip to the Rockies. I was surely not disappointed; with Banff being by far my favourite.

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Nestled high in Alberta in the Canadian Rockies, the town of Banff is located within the Banff National Park. Banff is a spirited place, alive with adventure and wonder. In all directions I was surrounded by strikingly beautiful and rugged mountains. The streets of downtown are lined with top-class restaurants, bars, and shops, as well as a vibrant range of art galleries and museums.

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We only had a night and day in Banff but I was able to see lots as it is only a small town.  We arrived late in the afternoon, checked in to our hotel and then headed directly up to the gondola. We took the four person enclosed car up  to the top of Sulphur Mountain in less than 10 minutes. Named for the thermal springs that emanate from its base, this peak is a perfect viewing point

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The views from the top are incredible. I could see the town of Banff, the Banff Springs chateau/hotel, part of Lake Minnewanka, the Bow river and a lot more. Even though you have to choose a time for the downward journey, no one monitors how much time you spend on top and can take any gondola down that is after the time on your ticket.

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Once at the top, there are a series of wooden ‘decks’ that you can walk on and climb . There were musicians, fire pits and sitting areas. We stopped for a cocktail while taking in the breathtaking views.

It was then time to take the gondola car back down to the bottom.

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I was up very early the next morning and explored this delightful town before most folks were up.  I loved Banff’s cosmopolitan edge knowing that at any part of the town I was only minutes away from the national park and its wildlife.   A resort town with boutique shops, nightclubs, museums and fancy restaurants.  But Banff is no ordinary town, it is the service town for the park that surrounds it.  Banff is one of Canada’s most popular tourist destinations attracting thousands of tourists every year.

 

 

 

5 Splendid Lakes in the Rockies

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Unbelievably vibrant colours, utterly stunning surroundings, and with just a little taste of the beauty and immensity that Mother Nature has blessed the Canadian Rockies with, these lakes are the 5 lakes that I visited.

Moraine Lake is a glacier-fed lake nestled within the Banff National Park. The turquoise water is surrounded by rugged mountains and rock piles, and is about 14 km southeast of Lake Louise.

Located in Yoho National Park, this lake is the largest of the 61 lakes and ponds in the park. Though it is (technically) located in British Columbia, it’s just a 20-minute drive from Lake Louise. Emerald Lake and the surrounding areas are home to a number of bird species including eagles, loons, osprey, and more.


Peyto Lake took my breath away. It was about a 2 minute walk down from the car park to the view point overlooking this lake which has been referred to as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. With its intoxicatingly blue hues and immensely beautiful viewpoint you can see why it has this reputation

Bow Lake is approximately 30 minutes north of Lake Louise, it is one of the largest lakes in Banff National Park. The entrance to this lake and the parking area are quite rustic plus there were far fewer tourists here giving a magical serene feel. It is a great place for a picnic or a short stroll.

My main reason for visiting the Rockies was to see Banff and also Lake Louise which can be described no other way than iconic. The lake is so wondrous it’s hard to believe it’s real.

From the bright colour pallet to the sprawling, mountainous surroundings, there’s no wondering why it was jam-packed with tourists even on this rainy day.

Travelling to the Rockies

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It was an early start leaving from Canada Place at the waterfront in Vancouver for our trip to the Rockies. Although it was raining we were all excited for our adventure.

Our first stop for coffee and wash rooms was the delightful little town of Hope. We quickly noticed the many chainsaw carvings proudly displayed around the town centre and learned that Hope has been appropriately tagged as the Chainsaw Carving Capital. The carvings often feature local wildlife such as eagles, mountain sheep, bears and cougars to name a few.

We drove for another few hours through magnificent countryside. Although it was very overcast and wet, everywhere was beautiful so I was very happy sitting back in my comfortable seat taking many photos.

We stopped for lunch at the very pretty lake town of Kelowna. Kelowna is a city in the south of Canada’s British Columbia province. It is in the Okanagan Valley, on the eastern shore of Okanagan Lake, surrounded by provincial parks, pine forest, vineyards, orchards and mountains. Its downtown area incorporates waterfront City Park and a lakeside cultural district.

After leaving Kelowna we travelled to Revelstoke.

Travelling through the Rockies felt like a dream as the beauty was endless

Old, Real, Beautiful, Matsumoto Castle

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Matsumoto Castle, which is also known as “Crow Castle” due to its black exterior, is one of Japan’s premier historic castles. Unlike other castles, which are built on a mountain or hillside slopes; this flatland castle was built on a plain.

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Matsumoto Castle is blessed to be not only one of Japan’s twelve castles to have survived since the feudal era, but one of the largest and most distinctive-looking. Its six-storeyed keep is now a museum showcasing its military history, in particular weapons and Armour from centuries ago.

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It was a pleasure to walk around the surrounding grounds and the beautifully maintained gardens. While we were there Samurai warriors walked around and we had fun posing for photos with them.

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This castle has it all. From our arrival we were taken back in time to the ancient times. The interior is fantastic too see. Matsumoto Castle is the real thing. It is built of wood — you can see and feel the solid old timbers, smooth and shiny from over 400 years of use. Built for war — more precisely, for defense of a feudal lords headquarters — this building was never for anyone’s luxurious living. This may explain why the decoration is sparse compared to other Japanese castles. It may not be obvious from the outside, but every level of the castle is designed for archers to shoot from. Our tour of the inside of the castle revealed placements for cannons facing every direction.

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The grounds are free to visit, but to enter the castle there is a cost. We needed to take off our shoes to enter the castle and we were given plastic bags to put our shoes into which left some of us without 2 free hands to aid in the climbing. Some of the stairs inside are narrow and steep.

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From the highest floor, the views are wide and sweeping of the city and surrounding mountains. The stairs to the fifth floor are exceptionally steep. This is normal for Japanese castles, but even the regular stairs will be a problem for those with mobility needs. We were warned of the steep climb and of course descent but we still were not prepared enough. In our socked feet some of the floors were very slippery.

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No one lived here, but probably many samurai died here.

We really enjoyed our few hours here at Matsumoto Castle – I am so happy that we visited it.

Matsumoto Town

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This charming and historic city which is cradled by the Japan Alps is Matsumoto. To me this is one of Japan’s finest cosmopolitan cities that still has a rural feel. It has so much to see with its stunning castle, captivating districts and enchanting vistas and could keep me occupied for hours or in fact days.

 

Matsumoto town is the gateway to the Japan alps for skiing and hot springs in the winter and walking in the mountains in the summer. For us, it was a morning at one of Japan’s best preserved famous castles, lunch in the centre of town and the afternoon exploring its surrounding streets.

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After our exciting morning at the Matsumoto Castle, we visited Nawate Street, in Matsumoto town, a small pedestrian zone with lots of small shops and restaurants along the river and then Nakamachi Street which is famous for its old houses with a beautiful white tone.

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20181014_164239As we were wandering around this charming town we met up with many locals out walking their dogs. We soon learned that this activity is a big part of their everyday pastime. They are happy to stop for photo opportunities; in fact they encourage it which is very fine with me being a big dog lover.

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We thoroughly enjoyed our few hours in this lovely town with its beautiful gardens and water features, exceptional architecture and general overall feel of calmness. This location offers a magnificent scenic view of the Northern Japan Alps and a unique cultural experience.

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Vibrant Setting on the Brisbane River.

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After arriving and exploring Southbank Parklands we then took the city catamaran across the Brisbane River to Eagle Street Pier/Riverside which is only a few minutes ride.

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Eagle Street Pier is an iconic waterfront precinct with world-class dining venues and unrivaled views of the Brisbane River and the Story Bridge. It is firmly established as one of Brisbane’s favourite food and entertainment destinations with a marvelous variety of eateries. Eagle Street Pier also is the perfect place to meet for drinks or cocktails and is also an ideal place to head for lunch or dinner, thanks to the many cafes and espresso bars

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I have been going to Riverside/Eagle Street Pier for many years and although there are dozens of wonderful places to dine I have chosen George’s Seafood the most. It is a lovely restaurant with fabulous views of the River and the Story bridge, that I am always proud to take my international visitors to

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On the edge of the city center, Eagle Street Pier is a great place to be day or night. During the day you can sit and enjoy the river and people watching and by night the lights from the buildings and the Story Bridge are dazzling.

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One of the best Information Centres is at Eagle Street Pier, where the staff are more than helpful and you can get free brochures, timetables and other information. From here you can choose your direction of travel either upstream or downstream from here, with City Cats arriving/departing every 15 minutes carrying commuters and tourists from around the world by day and night. Riverside centre is also the place to see the famous ‘Kookaburra Queen’ paddle steamers which offer morning tea, lunch and dinner cruises. This is another wonderful experience that I have shared many times with my overseas visitors.

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This vibrant exciting precinct is a fantastic place to visit at any time of the day or night.