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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.


Airline Mysteries

5 January 2018 | Transport

Airline mysteries are always intriguing although when people die they are no fun at all – like the two Malaysian Airline 777 disasters in 2014. Of course we know who shot down MH17 over Ukraine and although it’s unlikely Putin is going to confess anytime soon that it ...

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Ten Takeaways from 2017

3 January 2018 | Living

1. Nuclear conflict versus twitter conflict – the word of 2017 for me is dotard, the word is a winner on so many level. It also won for Kim Jong-Un, he was a clear victor over Donald Trump in their twitter battle. Why bother with nuclear war when you can win on a much...

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Rohingya, Myanmar, Bangladesh, New York City & Akayed Ullah

26 December 2017 | Living

My visit to Mandalay in Myanmar for the Irrawaddy Literary Festival was all about the disastrous campaign against the Muslim Rohingya people of the country’s Rakhine State. Myanmar’s genocidal campaign against the villagers in the district led to thousands of deaths a...

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Saudi Madness

22 December 2017 | Living

I love absurd countries, which is why I wrote Bad Lands and Dark Lands. Countries like North Korea, which threaten the outside world with nuclear Armageddon, but in fact couldn’t make something as simple as a bicycle. Any country – and again North Korea is a perfect e...

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Detroit – a city on the way up?

17 December 2017 | Places

I’ve blogged about Detroit a number of times over the years including when I drove through Detroit in 1994 on a coast-to-coast Odyssey in a fine old piece of ‘Detroit iron,’ a 1959 Cadillac. Or more accurately Detroit chrome.   ▲ Here I am with that ’59 Cad...

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Postcards – how long to deliver?

16 December 2017 | Living

One day I’m going to mail off my last postcard, although at the moment I still regularly send off a couple of cards from my travels. One to my about-to-hit-93-years-of-age mother and one to Maureen’s even older aunt. I’ve blogged in 2014 and again in 2016 about the...

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Death on the Highway

12 December 2017 | Living

My April to July trip from Bangkok to London along the Silk Road this year gave me plenty of opportunity to muse about safety on the roads. There was no question that we went through some countries where the roads were horribly unsafe. There was general agreement that...

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Where Was it Made?

10 December 2017 | Living

The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney of course) and The Age (Melbourne) in Australia had a story this past weekend (Saturday 9 December) about fake Aboriginal art. Well perhaps not fake, just not made in Australia. Buy a boomerang, a didgeridoo or some other Aboriginal a...

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San Francisco One Year Later

6 December 2017 | Places

A year ago I was in San Francisco when the US election took place and Donald Trump won. I thought I’d done my bit to save the world by having him cursed – by the cursing grannies – in Hong Kong. I decided that was a clear failure, but perhaps it wasn’t, perhaps becomi...

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Nay Pyi Taw – the new capital of Myanmar

3 December 2017 | Places

The Lonely Planet Myanmar guide suggests that ‘it can feel soulless – Canberra meets Brasilia with a peculiar Orwellian twist.’ I’ve not been to Brasilia, but that’s very unfair to Canberra. Compared to Nay Pyi Taw the bush capital of Australia is compact, crowded, ea...

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