An Australian in Europe

Title refers to the song by Sting that I very much like. I know Sting says it is about his friend Quentin Crisp but I can live with that.

In my early post about my loss of passport, my son Simon suggested it was time I used a bumbag, saying I should not be afraid of what others think of my fashion sense. So cruel!
I replied I used a bumbag already, filled with camera stuff and my passport is normally safe in a money belt.
In the interest of helping other travellers, I will let you into my traveling tips, complete with photo, taken with self timer, camera perched on bench, thus explaining my odd pose. The Jurassic Coast is background with wife as companion. I will not comment on her dress – no way!


# I wear trekking sandals by Teva all the time! I have worn shoes twice in 5 weeks. I wore the sandals to church and continually in freezing wet London. The two times in shoes were to dress up dinners in Italy. Why sandals? Arthritis in my feet means shoes hurt, sandals don’t. Are my feet cold – not if I’m moving.
# I wear shorts almost all the time. In London when it was wet, windy and cold I did wear jeans for a week. I have worn my good pants twice (see above). My new American friends were surprised to find my knees covered on dress up nights. My favourite shorts have wide cargo pockets which can hold my mini iPad. Otherwise it is in the back pack. It has been invaluable on this trip.
# If it’s warm it’s T shirt time but then it’s layers as the temperature drops. Next stage is a thermal singlet under the shirt. Cooler still – replace the shirt with a long sleeved polo necked warm shirt. Really cold – add light weight polar fleece top. Wet or windy – an unlined very light crush resistant Gor-tex jacket on top which otherwise lives in my backpack.
# Bright sunshine requires sunnies and sometimes my World Cup Wallabies Cap. I have found that the cap is not needed to identify me as Australian. Usually saying hello is enough. Occasionally locals are disappointed to find I am not a Kiwi! I explain that we are better losers – more practise.
# The bumbag is carried in my waterproof backpack unless the photography is getting serious, when it gets belted on. It contains my fast ultra wide(11-16mm f2.8) lens, spare battery, additional memory cards, etc. It is heavy.
# My Nikon D300s with my travelling lens(18-200mm f5.6) usually hangs from my shoulder on a swivel sling – it is a big camera for travelling, so goes in the backpack if not in use.

I dress for mobility and convenience. I will leave the fashion concern for my son.


Travelling Cattle Class


Two of the disadvantages of travelling from Australia are time and money – and they both derive from distance – it’s a long way from Australia to anywhere!

We we were flying Emirates but it doesn’t make much difference as no airline flies direct, the all travel through “hubs” like Singapore or Dubai. To get to Rome we have to travel 9 hours to Bangkok, then change change crew, but not plane. After 90 minutes on the ground we then had a 7 hour flight to Dubai, a scheduled 3 hours before our on flight to Rome. oh, and add on at least 2 hours on each end in the airport getting in and out. All up say more than 24 hours in an aeroplane or airport.

Most of our travel companions here are from the US and spent about 9 hours to get here and cannot imagine more than double the pain!

Our aircraft was full on the first leg and I didn’t sleep at all. By Bangkok I had however watched “Silver Linings Playbook” (recommended for my Lifeline colleagues!) and a complete season of “Bib Bang Theory”. At Bangkok, young Brett, the English gap year student returning home for Medicine at Uni after a year working in Australia on a yacht in the Barrier Reef, left the plane. Hallelujah! An empty seat next to us and on the aisle? No further being locked into the middle! No more “excuse me clambering over to have a stretch and walk to the toilet. Small things make such big differences when travelling Cattle Class.

The iPad shot shows Julie, and my foot, taking advantage of stretch space.

The Last Post

Posted on REMEMBRANCE DAY @ 11 A.M.

The Last Post is one of a number of bugle calls in military tradition that mark the phases of the day. While Reveille signals the start of a soldier’s day, the Last Post signals its end. (Australian War Memorial).

This iconic photograph by Australian war photographer, Frank Hurley

shows the battalion bugler of the 27th playing the Last Post at sun-down (Australian War Memorial)

Passing~Time is my travelling blog and my travels have finished for the moment, so this is the last posting for the moment. However, just as Reveille signals the start of a new day or the hope of resurrection at a military funeral it does not mean that I will not travel or blog again at this site. As my friend and Gold Medal winning blog commentator Paula has suggested I am somewhat addicted to blogging and here announce my new, non travelling blog site –  The Random Imaginarium –

The intent of this journal is to post randomly things that stimulate my imagination. No doubt it will evolve as time passes (or die as interest wanes!) but at the moment my plan is to indulge my passion for photography by occasionally sharing images, reviewing my reading and watching of movies and comment on things that tickle my fancy or raise my blood pressure. Please feel free to let me know when I cross the boundaries – I have no desire to become a ranter.

Please try the link, leave me a message and let me know of any things that really interest you and stir your passions


PS – one last entry from Tumbarumba!


Extreme Weather Events in Tumba


Don’t ever believe a blogger when he says the last post is playing! The day after Mal’s funeral it started raining and by Friday it was continual and torrential. Friday afternoon the main road out of Tumbarumba was cut with a car washed off the road. Lots of people trapped in town overnight. Getting in or out needed a four-wheel drive with water a metre deep flowing through the caravan park. A couple of very soggy vans were towed out and another car was under water where the second picture was later taken.

Standing at the foot of the steps behind the shops it’s a long swim to the toilets

This is the public memorial dedicated to all the timber men in the district which includes Malcolm’s name.

It usually stands high and dry by a long way but the Tumbarumba creek by now was 100 instead of 2 metres wide.


Less than 12 hours after taking those images the air temperature dropped to less than freezing and Tumbarumba got its biggest dump of snow in at least twenty years – it was 15 cm deep on the roof of my car and caravan, covering the streets, houses, trees and hillsides and lasted until after lunch before eventually thawing except for shady area and snowmen which remained icy until the next day.

A snow-covered Tumbarumba front garden

Snow covered hills behind the Tumbarumba townships


An uncommon sight, floodwaters in the foreground and snow-covered hills

Six days later the water still flows with a roar over the Paddy’s River Falls where sometimes over the past years it has been a mere trickle


An Early End – a New Plan

Farewell Mal

Mal’s red hair was gone but his spirit was strong ,back in June when we visited him before our trip.

On Monday 11th we farewelled our brother-in-law Malcolm Stuart at the Tumbarumba Presbyterian Church and the cemetery. The funeral filled the church and its hall to overflow – Mal was a big man, well-loved by his family and friends and widely respected within this rural community. In his life he had an enormous impact on so many people. As his son reported in the eulogy Mal loved to talk with people – wherever he was, whoever they were and about a wide range of interests. We will all miss him greatly.

Robyn Stuart with a small part of  Malcolm’s large family after the funeral when we had a chance to remember how Mal had influenced all our lives


Every trip, like a good story, needs a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s nice if the end has potential – hope.

The germination of our trip was long and slow. When we travelled through Central Australia more than thirty years ago, camping in tents with two very young children, we said on return that we wanted to see the West but it would need to wait. The actual planning probably took 2 years, gradually building momentum as departure got closer. This blog covered the month before we left until now.

The middle I think was our time after we left the Eastern States. We had previously travelled extensively in the East,  South Australia and the Northern Territory so it was Western Australia and the Kimberley that was so new, a landscape beautiful in an almost alien way, best described by Mary Durack.

If one were to paint this country in it’s true colours,I doubt it would ever be believed. It would be said at least that the artist exaggerated greatly,for never have I seen such richness and variety of hue as in these ranges.”

The distances were enormous, the populations scattered and small without the influx bought into the Pilbarra by the mining boom in minerals and oil and my favourite town of all would have to be Broome. As Ernie Dingo and Missy Higgins sing in Bran Nui Dai ” Soon I’ll be dreaming in Broome” “.

Our trip really ended in Tumbarumba with Mal’s funeral.  We may not end up getting home for five or six weeks, but we have neither the time nor the heart to drive back across the Nullabor and complete what we had planned – Perth to Esperance through what is reputed to be some of the most beautiful countryside in our country.

We will be back, however. Maybe next year or the one after  …. there will be a gap but stay tuned for the next instalment


  • We travelled for 101 days – 14 weeks and 3 days
  • We travelled for 16, 600 km – mostly towing the caravan at an average speed of 75 km but attempting to cruise at 90 kph on country roads.
  • We used  about 1070 litres of fuel paying up to $1.80 per litre. When travelling it sometimes cost $150 per day
  • We made seventeen different tours starting with a winery tour in Mudgee  and ending with our sailing with Dugongs at Shark Bay. We found the tour guides to be always informative and passionate about where they live even if they had taken the same tour with similar tourists a thousand times before
  • We took advantage of volunteers wherever possible
  • We spoke to our fellow travellers regularly – they were better than any written travel guides. Through such conversations we decided to stay in Lake Argyll and Coral Bay which were highlights of our trip.
  • Australia is an amazing country – if you possibly can – get out there and see it!


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Trip from West to East

A Fast Trip Across a Large Continent

The illness to our brother-in-law Malcolm Stuart meant a dash from Perth to Tumbarumba in the Snowy Mountains in NSW a distance of nearly 3,600 km. We left at Dawn on Tuesday with the intent to drive during the daylight hours as far as possible each day, stay wherever we could and get to Tumbarumba by Saturday afternoon.

The first two nights we free camped on roadside stops at Fraser Range Area, 80 km past the Norseman turnoff (the first picture) and then at the 222 km Peg Camps Rest Area 222 km West of the Eucla border between Western Australia and South Australia (the second picture). Free camping meant that we could drive further and get away earlier in the morning. We will do more of this on any further trips. You can manage a couple of nights with a bucket wash instead of a shower!




At Eucla, fueling after the border quarantine post, we got a mobile call to tell us that Malcolm had died, in Tumbarumba Hospital, with his wife and children with him. This did not change our intention to continue to be there as soon as possible.



Considering how long we were driving, towing the van, the trip went very smoothly, with stops at the Beautiful Valley Caravan Park at Wilminton (just past Port Augusta, now in South Australia) and at Balranald the next night. Having used all our prepared meals we ate out both nights. On this trip we have travelled through every State and Territory on the Australia mainland – sorry Tasmania, left out again!

We arrived in Tumbarumba on Saturday at 3.30 pm, having travelled via the Hay Plains and Wagga Wagga – our shortest days driving at 550 km.



Perth is the hometown of my mother and I was looking forward to seeing it for the first time. Unfortunately, while in Geraldton, we heard that Julie’s brother-in-law, Malcolm Stuart, was in hospital and doing very badly in his battle with lymphatic cancer. Our projected nine days was shortened to three when we decided that it was too late in the season to fly back and forth and resume the trip and we should travel in haste to Tumbarumba.

On our first day, Sunday, after visiting the Allnations Presbyterian Church, we spent the afternoon in the famous Kings Park. The opening image shows the city skyline as seen from Kings Park. The city of Perth is certainly the first metropolis we have seen since Sydney with skyscaping builders everywhere.

Our other priority was to visit my mother’s friend, Doreen Walters and say hello. Doreen is my mother’s age – late 80’s – and has been in regular letter or phone contact with Mum since 1942. I find such a long distance friendship (Doreen worked all around the world before retiring to Perth) absolutely amazing. Speaking to Doreen the shared esteem, affection and shared experiences they have had for 68 years since they were both only 20 years old is obvious.

Doreen and Julie at Doreen’s home at Scarborough


Our next post will be on the way home.