Ayung River

The highlight of our Bali holiday was the white water rafting experience on the Ayung River. From the northern mountains, the Ayung runs for 75 kilometres to Sanur Beach with a series of not too scary class II and III rapids along the way. Once we were kitted out with life-vests, helmets and paddles, we walked the 250 stone steps down to the river.

1.long way down

After further safety instructions, we set off for our 8km ride. There were peaceful moments, cruising along, admiring the verdant scenery.

2.ayung river

We would then hear the words, “boom boom” from the back of the raft, a warning from the guide that we were approaching a rapid.

3.rafting

A bit of mad paddling, hopefully in the right direction, and we returned to cruising mode. We passed intricate carvings in the rocks, depicting the story of Ramanyana, an epic Hindu poem from 400AD. I’m not surprised it took two years to complete. The photos aren’t very clear but you’ll get the idea.

4.sculptures5.sculptures

We indulged in a cooling swim at a particularly tranquil spot, a waterfall offering another dimension for those wanting a shower.

6.cooling off

There were other rafters on the river but we all somehow maintained our own space.

7.bridge

The final rapid was rigged with a company camera so we could all take home an exhausted, exhilarated memento.

8.rafting

There were a different set of stone steps to climb before our reward of lunch, I could hardly walk for three days. A word of advice, if you have sore muscles, do not get a Bali massage! Seeing as we were in the vicinity, we wandered around Ubud after lunch,

9.Ubud

enjoying a beverage while the world passed by. I found the glimpses of life beyond the main street fascinating, so different from our lives here in Tasmania.

10.Ubud11.restaurant Ubud

I have taken the liberty of using some photos taken by our friends on the day. I can’t remember whose was whose but you know who you are and I thank you.

Hallam’s Waterfront

We recently had cause to travel to Launceston and so, seized the opportunity to meet friends for lunch. They suggested Hallam’s Waterfront and we weren’t disappointed.

1.Hallam's Waterfront

Established in 1996, this award-winning seafood restaurant sources only the highest quality, line caught sustainable fresh seafood from the pristine waters around Tasmania.

2.Hallam's Waterfront

There is a peaceful ambience,

complemented by an assortment of nautical-themed artefacts.

The views over the Tamar yacht basin are beautiful.

10.Tamar basin11.Tamar basin12.dry dock

The extensive menu offered plenty of scope to share and compare. Entrée of tea smoked spareribs with ginger & soy glaze;

13.tea smoked spareribs with ginger & soy glaze

tempura prawns with sweet chilli

14.tempura prawns with sweet chilli

and oysters Kilpatrick (I wasn’t quick enough – I missed one).

15.oysters kilpatrick

Main course of grilled harissa southern calamari & banana prawns with rustic guacamole, grilled summer vegetables, coriander & paprika oil;

16.grilled harissa southern calamari & banana prawns with rustic guacamole, grilled summer vegetables, coriander & paprika oil

Cape Grim porterhouse with potato galette, Yorktown organic leaves, goat cheese, pine nuts & sticky balsamic with green peppercorn jus;

17.Cape Grim porterhouse with potato galette, yorktown organic leaves, goat cheese, pine nuts + sticky balsamic with green peppercorn jus copy

tempura market fish & chips, green salad with lemon & garlic dressing;

18.tempura market fish & chips, green salad with lemon & garlic dressing

and yellow curry with white fish & mussels were all stunningly delectable.

19.yellow curry with white fish & mussels

Of course, we managed to find room for dessert, I was very happy with my vanilla bean crème brûlée with lavender sugar, pistachio cake & rosewater syrup.

20.vanilla bean crème brûlée with lavender sugar, pistachio cake & rosewater syrup

The lemon & lime curd, tamarind chantilly, five spice coconut crumble & smashed raspberry meringue was a colourful offering;

21.lemon & lime curd, tamarind chantilly, five spice coconut crumble, smashed raspberry meringue

while basil panna cotta, white peach foam, quinoa crisp & fresh berries was a little more subtle.

22.basil panna cotta, white peach foam, quinoa crisp & fresh berries

We lingered outside long enough to admire the gorgeous surroundings

23.Tamar basin24.Tamar basin

before heading back to the northwest. We will certainly return to Hallam’s Waterfront.

25.Tamar River

Inverness

We were hoping to find accommodation on the banks of Loch Ness but it seemed there was none to be had. We were very happy with the compromise of a lovely hotel overlooking the River Ness, only a short walk into town.

1.River Ness2.River Ness

A succession of castles has stood guard over the river since 1057. Built in 1836, the magnificent red sandstone of Inverness Castle shone in the afternoon sunshine. It is now the Court house and not open to the public.

3.Inverness Castle

We had planned on a Loch Ness cruise for the next day but the weather was threatening inclemency so we decided to explore the Black Isle instead. Not far from Inverness, it is not actually an island, but a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water. As well as gorgeous villages and towns, the highland scenery was spectacular.

4.Black Isle

We had many issues with our satnav throughout our trip, we named her Holly (if you have ever seen Red Dwarf, you will understand why). She was adamant that this was a major road!

5.Black Isle

We had our sights set on snow-capped Ben Wyvis.

6.Black Isle7.Ben Wyvis

Unfortunately, Holly was not in the mood to co-operate and after negotiating a multitude of narrow mountain roads, we returned to Inverness.

We awoke the following morning to a beautiful winter wonderland, an early snowfall.

11.Inverness

After breakfast, we wandered through the Ness Islands.

12.Ness Islands

The two wooded islands are connected by footbridges

13.Ness Islands

and have been used as a public park since the 1840s.

14.Ness Islands

The walk in the crisp, fresh air amidst the stunning autumn foliage was a perfect start to the day.

15.Ness Islands16.Ness Islands17.Ness Islands18.Ness Islands

Reluctantly leaving Inverness, we continued our southward journey.

19.River Ness

Toby’s Inlet

The day after arriving in Perth we were whisked away to Dunsborough, our base to explore the Margaret River Region. The house of a friend of our friends was the perfect base for day trips.

1-house

The front door was guarded by the most beautiful moss covered dog I have ever seen.

The garden hugged the banks of Toby’s Inlet,

4-tobys-inlet

a small estuary that offered some magnificent morning reflections.

5-tobys-inlet6-tobys-inlet

The pontoon was a convenient perch for the gulls

7-gull

to observe the downstream drift of the pelicans

9-pelican

who were sometimes accompanied by an entourage of ducks.

The home was a wonderful, peaceful place to return to each day after our explorations.

13-garden

Mountain Valley

Mountain Valley is a secluded retreat in the Loongana Valley, we first discovered while on holiday here.

1.setting

50km inland from the coast of northwest Tasmania, this 61 hectare Private Nature Reserve nestles beneath the majestic Black Bluff.

2.Black Bluff

There are six eco-cabins to choose from, our favourite is Blue Wren.

The Leven River flows through the property

7.river8.river

and many an hour has been spent idly waiting to spy the elusive platypus.

9.river10.river11.river12.river13.cliff

Across the bridge,

14.bridge

the path follows the river. Trout can be seen jumping in the shallows

15.river16.river

and the native hens appear when you least expect them.

17.river

The path becomes narrow and we still search for that perplexing platypus.

18.river19.river

Native creatures abound in this sanctuary – wallabies, possums, quolls, birds and of course, our gorgeous pademelons.

We watched Tasmanian Devils and quolls eating their evening meal on the verandah. Our host placed tasty morsels for them at dusk and they slowly came after dark as Michael sat motionless among them while I opted to watch through the window.

22.Devil

The guided walk to the glow worm grotto took us through serene grassland,

23.walk to cave

and we learned the beautiful foxglove is regarded as an environmental weed in Tasmania.

24.foxglove

There are many walks to take through fern glades

25.walk to cave

and rainforest

to discover hidden caves.

31.walk to cave

There is much more to explore at Mountain Valley, it is a wonderful experience and for those who are feeling energetic, there is the walk to the top of Black Bluff.

32.Black Bluff

I am looking forward to our next visit. http://mountainvalley.com.au