Melbourne: this city speaks to me

“A night like no other: From dusk til dawn White Night Melbourne will transform the city into an all-night wonderland with over 80 free events celebrating music, food, film, art and light.” White Night Melbourne

Flinders Street Station

It’s 2am of the inaugural White Night Melbourne and my friend and I are waiting for The Cat Empire to come onto stage, under the iconic clocks of Flinders Street Station. Our conversation has strayed from the night’s wonderful entertainment to just how much we love Melbourne… and how, sometimes, it takes leaving a place before you truly begin to appreciate it.

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Rotto: Island of bikes

One of my favourite places in the world is Western Australia’s Rottnest Island. It’s also one of the best places to jump on a bike…

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Taking a break from pedalling, we stop on the crest of a hill and gaze out to sea. There’s the reef, the sea and the sky – a trio of intense blues, broken only by splashes of white, yachts of all shapes and sizes floating in their own patch of paradise. The view is nothing short of postcard-perfect and exactly what I’ve come to expect of Rottnest Island after only 24 hours on its shores.

Situated 19km off the coast of Perth in Western Australia, Rottnest Island is a recreational gem where visitors can relax in the sunshine or don snorkelling gear and go swimming at one of the many bays. Here most people get around by bike, whether it’s a short trip to the bakery or a longer ride to a secluded beach (with more than 60 to choose from). Public vehicles are not permitted and it’s incredibly easy to explore the entire island by bike via a 24km loop.

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Inspiration

“The power of imagination makes us infinite.” John Muir

Last week, a good friend of mine asked if she could use some of my landscape photography on her new website. She thought my images were really inspiring and just what she needed. For me, this was a wonderful compliment, especially as it came from another creative person – and it got me thinking about all the things that inspire me.

Freycinet National Park, Tasmania

Freycinet National Park, Tasmania

The obvious ones are in my blog’s header – travelling, hiking, cycling, volunteering – but the truth is, everything around us, even the most mundane object, has the potential to inspire. Being observant is also important, although, ironically, I have a friend who jokes with me because I don’t always notice things. “How can you be a travel writer, if you’re not observant,” he laughs.

It’s a good question. I think I am observant; I just notice things selectively. I’ve walked the same route to work for four years, yet I didn’t notice a funny business name on a building until a work colleague recently pointed it out. But I do notice flowers in backyards, autumn leaves blowing in the wind, late afternoon light on buildings or trees and, without fail, the crazy drivers on the road (but I guess that’s just self-preservation rather than fine observation skills).

For me, inspiration comes at the strangest times. When I see someone doing anything odd on a train, I’m immediately transported to the New York subway, where I once saw a guy with a huge snake draped around his neck. (Mental note, I still haven’t written about that day!)

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Yellow Water Billabong

An understanding of the Natural World and what’s in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment.  Sir David Attenborough

Yellow Waters Billabong

Sunset over Yellow Waters Billabong

A cruise on the Yellow Water Billabong in the Northern Territory’s Kakadu National Park is one of Australia’s best wildlife experiences. The wetlands are located at the end of Jim Jim Creek, which is a tributary of the South Alligator River (the largest river system in Kakadu). The river channels, floodplains and swamps are home to fresh and saltwater crocodiles, and an abundance of birdlife. My cruise there was an incredible few hours, particularly as we spotted both species of crocodile and my favourite two birds – the Jabiru and the Comb-crested Jacana. Below are some photographs from that afternoon.

Water lilies

Water lilies

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