First Drinks, Sydney to New Zealand, Sydney Harbour

We are finally on board, with lunch on the back deck, watching the traffic, including a magnificent tall ship on Sydney Harbour, passing below the magnificent Coathanger, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the magnificent sails of the Opera House on Bennelong Point. Standing on the outside deck with our first drinks, waiting for our adventure to begin

Dodgem Cars on board Ovation of the Seas, Royal Caribbean, Cruise Sydney to New Zealand

I don’t know who had the most fun at the dodgem car rink, the guys trying to ram each other and chase each other around the ring or the girls watching them from the sidelines. A fabulous activity for all ages.

Kookaburra King of Carnarvon Gorge

Kookaburra, King of Carnarvon Gorge

The kookaburra abounds at the camping area of Carnarvon Gorge. It is evident that they have been fed by many campers as they are quite cheeky, and will take food from your hand, fly into the camp and sit on the chairs or tables waiting for an opportunity to pounce

Balloon Cave, Carnarvon Gorge

This area of Carnarvon Gorge was drier and more open and less shaded than the more lush areas of the gorge and we were probably feeling the after effects of walking 18 kilometres on the first day, so we were a little hot and bothered.

The area was significant for the indigenous people, being a meeting place for thousands of years.

The entry to the cave wasn’t very large, carved out of sandstone rock, by water and wind, however, it would afford shelter for small animals and birds from the weather.

Mendooran Pub and free camp

The first stop on our journey into Central Queensland, Mendooran is a small town of 500 people, on the Castlereagh River, 50 minutes outside of Dubbo, in Central New South Wales.

Why choose Mendooran for our first stopover? Two reasons, that I know of. It has a friendly country pub, the Royal, with fantastic meals and the prettiest free camp on the banks of the river with basic amenities.

The outside walls of the pub are painted with historic settlers murals.

How old fashioned and Aussie traditional is it that the boys go into the bar and the girls are required to go to the Ladies Lounge. The girls had the last laugh, we had a lovely warm fire.

We headed off in the morning for Gilgandra on our way to Queensland

Mickeys Creek, Carnarvon Gorge

Lush creekside vegetation

An area of extreme contrasts, Carnarvon Gorge is the only remaining remnant of rainforest in Central Queensland. Nowhere is this landscape of extremes evident than on the trek to Mickeys Creek. Passing dry eucalyptus scrub with granite boulders hugging the creek banks and then coming into lush grasses and bracken ferns in a gorge higher upstream.

Niagara on the Lake

Our friends had advised us not to miss a trip to Niagara on the Lake. We didn’t know what to expect but we were pleasantly surprised by the history, the beautiful traditional stone buildings and the colour of the timber homes and businesses. Situated on Lake Ontario, part of the Great Lakes system separating Canada and USA.

I love the hanging baskets of colour that adorn lightposts in this part of North America, they add a sense of homeliness, that I find comforting, maybe it is because the Australian climate is too harsh and cannot sustain the baskets in the open. The window boxes that are common in Niagara on the Lake are so pretty and soften up the buildings they adorn.

How cute is this confectionery shop, with toffee apples and chocolate painted faces on sticks. I stayed outside so that I wasn’t tempted.

We found a little cafe to have lunch and spent a couple of hours walking around this pretty area before catching the bus back to our hotel at Niagara Falls. Niagara Parks operates a shuttle that regularly runs on this route. Passing Fort George and some traditional Cape Cod homes, the beautiful floral clock and stunning gardens and Niagara Butterfly Conservatory

Butchart Gardens

Designed in a disused limestone quarry, Butchart Gardens On Vancouver Island, Victoria Canada, is a spectacular example of garden design. The gardens evolve with the seasons, as one display is approaching its end another is being nurtured to replace it.

The stunning water feature is not to be missed, the jets of water dancing before your eyes and a backdrop of quarry rock wall and lush green conifers mesmerising those watching.

There are gardens designed around different themes, the Sunken Garden, Mediterranean Garden, Japanese Garden, Italian Garden and not to be missed is the Rose Garden.

Being both an avid photographer and gardener, I will share with you this stunning garden in my photos. Enjoy

The garden borders are spectacular

Canoeing Lake Louise, BC Canada

The air is still and there is not a sound, other than the gentle splash as the oars hit the water and the canoe gently glides towards the Chateau on the turquoise glacial water of Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

We stayed at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and the scene outside our window is spectacular, the water of the Lake is reflecting the snow capped mountains in the distance and conifers that line the lake. It is summer when we visit, so we were lucky to see any snow at all. Hiking to the bottom of the melting Victoria Glacier, we stop to admire the beautiful wild flowers, we have a little squirrel decide to stop us looking for a feed.

Nindingully Pub

There is something nostalgic about the Aussie outback pub. Situated a half hour drive south of St George, Queensland, the Nindingully Pub was established in 1864 and describes itself as the oldest continually licensed pub in Queensland. Although, I have had heard an argument against that claim.

What I do know about the Nindingully Pub, it has the biggest hamburger I have ever had the pleasure of sitting down to. Together with half a plate of chips, it was more than I could accomplish, but it did taste good.

The memorabilia on the walls in the bar of the pub will keep you entertained for hours, with stuffed animals and fish heads , workers hats, signs, bullock yolks, kerosene lamps, rabbit traps, old hand shears that shearers were using at the turn of the 19th century, work boots. The pub was the scene of the movie “Paperback Hero”

Situated on the banks of the Moonie River, which was just receding from the latest flood. We had our hamburgers in the shade in the garden and then walked the banks of the river.