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Australia’s Four Corners

Saturday, 15 December 2018

▲ 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 my visits to Australia’s four corners.

It’s easy to get to Australia’s most easterly point, the place you’d see the first sunrise each day. That’s marked by the lighthouse at Byron Bay in New South Wales and I first went there, riding a motorcycle up the east coast, back in 1974. I was en route to Darwin and then on to Indonesia (via Portuguese Timor) to research the first edition of Lonely Planet’s South-East Asia on a Shoestring.

▲  I’ve been back to Byron Bay many times over the years and in 2016 I not only walked out to the lighthouse I also flew over it in a Tiger Moth biplane. Way back in WW II my father was an RAF pilot instructor and used to fly Tiger Moths and Harvards.

◄ The most southerly point is South Point, at the tip of Wilsons Prom in Victoria. If you want to get there you can drive to the Telegraph Saddle car park in Wilsons Promontory National Park. Then it’s a 13km hike to Roaring Meg campsite and from there an 8km round trip to the point. So 34km total from the car park. You don’t have to walk, however, it’s possible to cycle. Maureen and I walked down to the point way back in 1977, here she is on the track and from the tyre tracks it would appear a 4WD has been by recently. .

▲ The tip of Cape York in Queensland is the most northerly point, from here you could head north through the Torres Strait Islands to Papua New Guinea, only 150km away. With a sturdy 4WD you can drive the 850km from Cooktown to the cape although there are some challenging rivers to get through en route. I got there back in 1989 by boat, the Queen of the Isles on a trip from Cairns heading up to Thursday Island in Torres Strait. The boat started its career operating from Cornwall to the Scilly Isles off England, then turned up as the Olovaha in Tonga, as the casino boat Gulf Explorer in Australia, reverted to Queen of the Isles II shortly before my trip and then had two more names before running aground in the Solomon Islands ‘around 2001.’ I had a good trip.

The USA’s north-south-east-west extremities are complicated because you have to specify whether you’re talking about all 50 states (ie including Hawaii and Alaska) or just the contiguous ‘lower 48.’ Anyway nobody seems very interested. The UK’s two extremities are usually considered to be Land’s End in Cornwall and John o’Groats in Scotland, although in fact one isn’t the furthest point south and the other isn’t the furthest point north. Never mind they do neatly mark one end of the island from the other and cycling or even walking between the two landmarks is popular. According to Google Earth it’s 839 miles by car, a bit shorter on foot, rather longer by bicycle.


Jirga – a film in Afghanistan

29 September 2018 | Media

Benjamin Gilmour, a very enterprising Australian filmmaker, has just released Jirga, a film not just set in Afghanistan, but actually made there. Mike Wheeler, an Australian soldier stationed in Afghanistan, took part in a raid on a village in the Kandahar area of ...

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Komodo & Sumbawa

20 September 2018 | Places

▲ Lamima off Gili Banta Island which in turn is off the southern side of Sumbawa Island. Three years ago I spend some time in the Komodo Islands on a delightful Bugis-style schooner, joining and leaving the Katharina at Labuan Bajo. This time with eight friends fro...

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Kuta – then & now

19 September 2018 | Living

◄ Poppies Gang – a ‘gang’ is a narrow pathway or alleyway – and this popular gang at Kuta Beach in Bali, Indonesia, runs by Poppies Restaurant and Poppies Hotel. Despite Kuta’s massive growth Poppies Gang looks just the same as it did in the ‘70s, right down to the tr...

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Looking for Transwonderland

3 August 2018 | Media

Although she grew up in England and lives there today Noo Saro-Wiwa definitely has a strong connection to Nigeria. In 1995 her father Ken Saro-Wiwa, an environmental activist (and a peaceful one) was hanged along with 10 others who had the temerity to complain about t...

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The Painted Monasteries of Bucovina in Romania

2 August 2018 | Places

I’ve been a regular visitor to Romania in recent years. Mauren and I were in Bucharest and Transylvania in 2014 and enjoyed it so much, particularly the beautiful Saxon villages of Transylvania, that we returned with a bunch of London friends for a second look in 2015...

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Ryszard Kapuściński’s Imperium

1 August 2018 | Media

Back in 2008 I read Ryszard Kapuściński’s Travels with Herodotus, the travelling tales of the Polish journalist whose adventures proved, once again, that less is often more. His expense account was as threadbare as the Soviet-era Polish economy and he made up for it b...

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Minsk in Belarus

29 July 2018 | Places

After Moldova, Transnistria and Ukraine (I haven’t reported on my starting point, the Bucovina district of Romania yet) my final Eastern European stop was in Belarus – ‘Europe’s last dictatorship,’ thanks to Aleksandr Grigoryevich Lukashenko who has been President for...

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British Airways Baggage Refund & a Trip to Svalbard

27 July 2018 | Living

I’m a firm believer on travelling only with carry ons, avoiding the hassles of checked baggage. A recent experience with British Airways underlines why that’s a good idea. No, they didn’t lose my baggage, but extracting a baggage money refund from them after a flight ...

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Odessa – on the Black Sea in Ukraine

24 July 2018 | Places

It’s not my first trip to Ukraine – I was there in 2016 visiting the capital Kiev and that 20th century disaster site Chernobyl – but this trip I certainly wasn’t very happy when I arrived in Odessa. Although it may be the ‘Pearl of the Black Sea’ or the ‘Southern St ...

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Chişinău in Moldova

19 July 2018 | Places

My recent eastern Europe circuit paused at Chişinău, the capital of Moldova, before progressing to that leftover sliver of forgotten Soviet Russia: Tiraspol the capital of the unrecognized state of Transnistria. ▲ Chişinău certainly had some Soviet style as well, p...

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