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Aerial Views

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

I’m disappointed if my travels don’t take me to some ‘new’ (for me) countries each year and this year was certainly a good one in that department with nine previously unvisited locations – that’s the next blog. Some great aerial views also make me happy and there have been a few of those.

▲ Right at the end of the year, on my way from Dubai to Baku in Azerbaijan, the best view of the year popped up outside my window. Sometimes you just have to get lucky, the weather was perfectly crystal clear, I’d accidentally chosen the right side of the Fly Dubai 737 and there right below me was Mt Damavand, Iran’s classic mountain under classic winter snow. It’s between Tehran and the Caspian Sea and over the years I’ve seen it a few times, but from below rather than above.

▲ It was a Fly Dubai 737 again when we flew right over Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on my way from Asmara in Eritrea to Dubai, again, earlier this year. I noted ‘There are 70 or 80 pax, rather more than the other way at the start of this trip, but still pleasantly uncrowded.

I switch sides soon after take-off, better views not looking into the sun and we fly a rather strange route, more or less directly north across a lot of empty Eritrea, then along empty Eritrean coast, the road runs quite a distance inland, the coast is desert and deserted. Then we’re across the Red Sea for a surprisingly long distance before we reach the Saudi coast directly over Jeddah at which point we turn east and fly right across Saudi Arabia, emerging on the Gulf a bit north of Dubai.’

◄ From a 737 again, but this time with Belavia, the airline of Belarus, flying from Minsk to London. Nothing special below, just a lot of nice green farmland on another crystal clear day. Presumably it was Poland although it could have been Germany.



◄ In May, flying to London on a Singapore Airlines A380 I played with in flight internet and as we approached Heathrow here’s my iPad showing me all the other aircraft around us on the FlightRadar24 app. I blogged that all one of Putin’s Buk missile-men had to do was look at his smartphone to absolutely know who they were shooting down. They could have chosen a Singapore Airlines 777 or an Air India 787 instead or even shot down all three.

▲ But finally – and happier – my other aerial view of the year. I’d just been by boat to Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago south of Western Australia and as I flew back to Melbourne from Perth I spotted the island with its bright pink lake from my Qantas 737 window. In fact it was a long way down and quite a bit north, but my pocket size Canon G1X clearly does the job. Click here for a wonderful Red Bull YouTube clip getting much closer to Lake Hillier.

Aerial Views

18 December 2018 | Transport

I’m disappointed if my travels don’t take me to some ‘new’ (for me) countries each year and this year was certainly a good one in that department with nine previously unvisited locations - that's the next blog. Some great aerial views also make me happy and there have...

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Australia’s Four Corners

15 December 2018 | Places

▲ My recent trek to four Western Australian islands (or island groups) also took me to Steep Point, the most westerly point on the Australian mainland. If you haven’t got a helicopter or a suitable boat you’ll need a four-wheel drive to get there, but that completed m...

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Baku in Azerbaijan

13 December 2018 | Places

My final overseas travel in 2019 took me to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan – west side of the Caspian Sea, north of Iran, south of Russia. A three hour flight from Dubai, the jumping off point for almost anywhere in the world these days. ▲ Baku certainly has archi...

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Cyprus in the Mediterranean

11 December 2018 | Places

Earlier this year it felt like I was doing a ‘European clean up,’ going to the countries which had somehow evaded me – Slovakia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Moldova – but that still left one very interesting Mediterranean island: Cyprus. So on my way back to Australia from ...

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Rottnest Island, Western Australia

8 December 2018 | Places

After the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Dirk Hartog and Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago my fourth and final Western Australia island visit was Rottnest. This is all for a forthcoming book from the National Library of Australia to be titled Australia’s Islands. ...

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Middle Island & the Recherche Group, Western Australia

5 December 2018 | Places

My third Western Australia island excursion for my forthcoming National Library of Australia book Australia’s Islands took me to the town of Esperance and out into the Recherche Archipelago. That very French name came from Bruni D’Entrecasteaux who encountered the isl...

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Dirk Hartog Island

15 November 2018 | Places

My research travels for my forthcoming book Australia’s Islands took me to the Houtman Abrolhos Islands off the west coast of Australia and then further north to Dirk Hartog Island. This remote sandy island stretches 80km north-south, but often not more than 10km w...

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On Travel – from Melbourne University Press

11 November 2018 | Media

I’ve got a new book – On Travel – just out from Melbourne University Press and selling for all of A$14.99. The ‘on something’ series are a handy little collection of essays on interesting topics ranging from Patriotism (Paul Daley), via Lust & Longing (Blanche ...

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The Houtman Abrolhos Islands – Western Australia

7 November 2018 | Places

I’m working on Australia’s Islands, a book to be published by the National Library of Australia in late 2019. My island explorations recently took me to the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, about 60km offshore from Geraldton, which in turn is 400km north of Perth. There are ...

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Transnistria, Baron Munchhausen, Salisbury, Russian & Saudi Ineptitude, Paveway Bombs

16 October 2018 | Living

◄ Baron Munchausen at Benderry Back in July I made a brief (ie 24 hour) visit to Tranistria – that curious sliver of a nation sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine and recognized by nobody in the world except for Vladimir Putin and his friends. In my Transnistria ...

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