Do as a Local, Walk the Railway Line From Ella to Demodara in Sri Lanka’s Beautiful Hill Country. When my son was little, his grandmother told him to say,…
Do as a Local, Walk the Railway Line From Ella to Demodara in Sri Lanka’s Beautiful Hill Country.
When my son was little, his grandmother told him to say, “The devil made me do it”, whenever he was in trouble. What, you might ask, is the connection between walking a railway line in the hills of Sri Lanka and a grandmother teaching her grandson how to get out of trouble? Read on to connect the dots and discover a path less travelled.
When staying in Sri Lanka’s pretty hill town of Ella with my sister and brother-in-law, my sister decided it would be an adventure to walk the 3 kilometres along the railway line from Ella to the iconic Nine Arch Bridge. From there, we would choose whether to walk back to Ella or continue a further 3.5 kilometres along the railway line to Demodara train station, catching the Kandy-Colombo train back to Ella.
With all in agreement and knowing the expected time the train departs Demodara, we set off at 8.20 am after an early breakfast for our possible 6.5-kilometre walk.
Walking the railway line in Sri Lanka from Ella to Demodara.
Just after stepping onto the railway line near our hotel, we were confronted with the sign, ‘WALK ON THE RAILWAY LINE IS PROHIBITED’. I immediately decided that when stopped by the railway police, I was going to tell them, “The devil made me do it”. I wonder how well this translates into Sinhala or Tamil? If that didn’t work, I was going to blame my sister, the hotel manager, and guidebooks because they all suggested this escapade – a “must do” in Ella, to do as the locals do.
I stopped worrying about ending up in a Sri Lankan prison when about 5 metres further down the line there was a sign advising that walking the railway line was dangerous. Evidently, the authorities had given up telling people that walking the line was prohibited. I relaxed. ‘Dangerous’ I can handle, but ‘prohibited’ went against my ‘good’ girl nature.
However, ‘dangerous’ became a not-so-friendly companion again upon entering a tunnel that was impossible to see any light coming from the other end. Blindly feeling my way through the tunnel with my feet against the railway track, I wondered aloud what action should be taken in the event of a train coming whilst we were in the tunnel. Luckily, my brother-in-law had been thinking ahead and consulted with our hotel manager to find out when we might come face-to-face with the train from Kandy on the Nine Arch Bridge.
Feeling relatively safe in the knowledge I was not about to be squished by a train, the walk through the tunnel became a devil-may-care adventure filled with excess adrenaline running rampant through my body. I wasn’t convinced I was doing something entirely legal in a foreign country.
I may not have felt quite so safe and would definitely have run out of adrenaline had I known the tunnel exits right on Nine Arch Bridge.
Exiting the tunnel at Nine Arch Bridge
Walking the railway line on Nine Arch Bridge
The Nine Arch Bridge, a popular tourist attraction, spans a deep gorge and is surrounded by a vision of green, with tropical forests interspersed with tea plantations. And so-called because it has nine arches or spans. Very imaginative! At 91.44m (300ft) long, 7.62m (25ft) wide and 24.38m (80ft) high, this railway bridge is deemed to be an engineering marvel as it is made entirely of rocks, bricks and cement without a single piece of steel. Not knowing anything about engineering, I must concur with the experts. The bridge’s height and all those arches, plus the environment in which it exists, make it an impressive bridge and worth plugging as a tourist attraction.
We had timed our arrival at the Nine Arch Bridge to watch the 9.15 am train from Kandy cross the bridge.
Here comes the train!
Everything you read about Sri Lankan trains advises you they rarely run on time. However, this one was on time and came down the line just after we crossed the bridge. Stepping off the tracks, I expressed our expert timing with an enthusiastic wave to the driver and all the passengers.
The Nine Arch Bridge is the midway point between Ella and Demodara stations. Having gotten this far, we decided to continue our walk along the railway line to Demodara to catch the 10.40 am train back to Ella. Now I was on a mission to reach Demodara in time to catch that train as I was not walking the 6.5 kms back to Ella.
Please Note: The Sr Lanka train timetable has altered since I visited Ella. The 10.40 am train I caught now leaves Demodara at 10.55 am, and the changed timetable impacts the arrival time of the earlier train at Nine Arch Bridge.
We made it to Demodara by 10.20 am but weren’t allowed to purchase our train tickets immediately, being told to wait until 10 minutes before the train was due. No explanation was forthcoming as to why this was so. However, as Demodara was such a pretty station, with its many potted flowering plants lining the platform, we were happy to wait to be ‘allowed’ to buy our train tickets. When I did front up to the ticketing window, I thought I had misheard when asked to pay 30 Sri Lankan rupees (the equivalent of 30 Australian cents) for three one-way tickets from Demodara to Ella (10c each). I was so impressed with how cheap the trip was that I also bought my sister and brother-in-law their tickets.
Waiting at Demodara Station for the train back to Ella
The train was practically empty. Not what I had expected, which made choosing a seat difficult due to too much choice. Which seat would give me the best view of the scenery as it passes by outside the window? Ultimately, I chose to stand in the doorway like a local.
The train ride, although short-lived, was fun and the highlight of my day. Anyone would think I have never ridden a train before!
The train on Nine Arch Bridge approaches the tunnel we had so recently walked through.
Guidebooks publicise the walk along the railway line as a must-do activity in Ella. However, we came across no other tourists except at the bridge itself. Is it too far off the beaten track for most tourists? We were the only non-locals walking the line. I had to smile whenever we passed a makeshift stall by the rail tracks – Sri Lankans cater to people’s needs wherever they can!
To my surprise, the walk was effortless. It was flat all the way, and you get into a rhythm as you lope from sleeper to sleeper. The endless views of tea plantations, tropical vegetation, valleys, and mountains made for a pleasant walk. And the company was good too – not one disagreement!
Tea plantations are seen along the railway line walk
Visiting the Nine Arch Bridge is touted as a must-do attraction in Sri Lanka. You can get to the Bridge by taking a tuk-tuk from Ella or walking through the jungle. Or do as the locals do and walk along the railway line. Take the path less travelled.
Editor’s Note: I originally published this blog post in January 2019 and have updated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. All photos are my own and remain the copyright of Just Me Travel.
A Western Australia Road Trip from Perth to Broome is a Journey of Unique Photo Opportunities. In this post, I will take you to 23 great places you should…
A Western Australia Road Trip from Perth to Broome is a Journey of Unique Photo Opportunities.
In this post, I will take you to 23 great places you should photograph on the road from Perth to Broome. If you are travelling up Western Australia’s picturesque Coral Coast and visiting its amazing national parks, this list will provide you with some awesome holiday photography ideas.
This journey of photo spots on a road trip from Perth to Broome in Australia starts in Perth, travels up the coast, heads inland before hitting the coast again, and ends in Broome.
My post is about great photo opportunities for you on the road from Perth to Broome in Western Australia. Most are in national parks, and all are accessible by 2WD. I hesitate to say “easily” accessible because the unsealed roads through much of Karijini National Park were severely corrugated when our 4WD tour bus travelled on them. Our ‘4WD’ had the body of a bus on a truck chassis, which would best be described as a bus on steroids. I don’t know how often the roads are graded through Karijini National Park, but they gave new meaning to the saying, shaken, not stirred.
The post is not about hikes you can take through the national parks, of which there are many, nor about things you can do or places to stay. It’s not even about how to get from place to place, although the maps above show you where the photo spots are in relation to each other and their location within Western Australia. In other words, this post is not an itinerary but a guide to where you can find great photo spots between Perth and Broome.
The photos have been included on this list not because they are a tourist attraction, which they are, but because they provide 23 great photo opportunities to create special holiday memories that should not be missed.
I use two cameras for all my travel photos – a Nikon D7200 DSLR camera and an iPhone 12 Pro. whichever is handy at the time.
Many of the photo spots in this post are in national parks. As I was on an escorted tour with APT, I was not concerned with park fees, infrastructure, or other relevant information. However, Western Australia’s Parks and Wildlife Service is the official site for all the information you need on the State’s national parks.
Many paths to lookouts and photo spots, whether inside national parks or not, are unsuitable for people with mobility issues. I say that with confidence as a few people on the escorted group tour had mobility issues and missed out on seeing several of the photo spots below.
Scroll through the photo spots at your leisure or jump straight to the photo spot you want to see.
Perth is a city with many spots worth photographing – beautiful parks, attention-grabbing street sculptures, striking architecture, white sand beaches, vibrant river life, and more. Perth deserves at least spending a few days there.
I spent ten days in Perth and discovered many things to do unique to this beautiful city sitting on the Swan River. You can explore the world’s largest city park, see the happiest animal on earth, marvel at a wave-shaped rock in the middle of nowhere, photograph the largest dam mural in the world, and chime the world’s biggest musical instrument. You will find these activities, and more, in my post on 7 Top Day Trips And Things To Do In And From Perth. – all suggested from my own experience as a solo traveller.
The Pinnacles Desert, Nambung National Park
The Pinnacles, Pinnacles Desert, Nambung National Park
At the southern gateway to Western Australia’s Coral Coast along the Indian Ocean Drive, the Pinnacles Desert is located within Nambung National Park, approximately 200 kilometres north of Perth, near the coastal town of Cervantes.
The Pinnacles are natural limestone structures formed approximately 25,000 to 30,000 years ago after the sea receded and left deposits of seashells. Over time, coastal winds removed the surrounding sand, leaving the pillars exposed to the elements. There are thousands of pinnacles in the Pinnacles Desert, with some reaching as high as 3.5 metres.
You can view the Pinnacles from the lookout (a paved path from the car park), drive or walk the 4-kilometre Pinnacles Loop or simply meander through the Pinnacles Desert, taking all the photos you want of this fascinating, otherworldly landscape.
Z Bend Lookout, Kalbarri National Park
Murchison River Gorge view from Z Bend Lookout in Kalbarri National Park
Kalbarri National Park surrounds the lower reaches of the Murchison River, which has carved a magnificent 80-kilometre gorge through the red sandstone.
The Z Bend Lookout reveals dramatic views of the zig-zag section of the Murchison River Gorge. The gorge below the lookout forms the middle part of the ‘Z Bend’. Fractures within the red Tumblagooda Sandstone form this unusual shape.
Z Bend Lookout is a 1.2-kilometre return walk from the car park along a sandy path with stone steps. Walking back up is a decent cardio workout.
Kalbarri Skywalk, Kalbarri National Park
The Kalbarri Skywalk provides an excellent view over Murchison River Gorge
The Kalbarri Skywalk consists of two cantilevered viewing platforms that hang in mid-air 100 metres above the gorge. They provide stunning views of the Murchison River Gorge and its extraordinary surrounding landscape.
Just walking out on these platforms was a unique experience in itself. To be then confronted with the views on offer was truly breathtaking.
The Kalbarri Skywalk is about 150 metres from the car park on a flat, paved path.
Nature’s Window, Kalbarri National Park
Murchison River Gorge viewed through a natural rock window
Forces of nature have carved through layered sandstone to create a rock formation that frames the Murchison River below.
It is a moderate, one-kilometre return walk beginning with a flight of stairs from the lookout at the parking area. Just remember, you need to walk back up those stairs!
Beware: Access to Nature’s Window is not for the faint-hearted as there is nothing, except your excellent balance, to stop you from falling over the cliff’s edge.
Ross Graham Lookout, Kalbarri National Park
Murchison River Gorge viewed from Ross Graham Lookout in Kalbarri National Park
Ross Graham was the first headmaster of Kalbarri Primary School. He was a devoted conservationist who aided in the exploration of the Murchison River. He died in 1967, aged 31 years.
The Ross Graham Lookout offers a limited but picturesque view of the Murchison River. The lookout is 100 metres from the car park along a rocky track.
Beware: There are no safety barriers on the cliff edge at the lookout.
Abrolhos Islands, Houtman Abrolhos Islands National Park
A scenic flight over Abrolhos Islands
Houtman Abrolhos Islands National Park is a marine archipelago of 210 islands lying 60 to 80 kilometres off Western Australia’s mid-west coast, between Geraldton and Kalbarri.
You will need to take a scenic flight to take advantage of this photo spot of the islands and the coral reefs surrounding them. Our scenic flight was with Nationwest Aviation from Kalbarri Airport.
A couple of passengers saw migrating whales. I was on the wrong side of the plane!
Eagle Bluff Lookout, Francois Peron National Park
View from the Eagle Bluff boardwalk
Eagle Bluff is approximately 20 kilometres south of Denham in the UNESCO Shark Bay World Heritage Area.
A 400-metre boardwalk along the cliff edge offers stunning views of the rugged coastline, small islands, and coastal bays fringing the Indian Ocean and provides the opportunity to spot wildlife like ospreys, dugongs, dolphins, turtles, sharks, and rays.
Monkey Mia Conservation Park
Monkey Mia Conservation Park
Monkey Mia Conservation Park is 25 kilometres northeast of the coastal town of Denham.
Monkey Mia is, first and foremost, famous for feeding wild dolphins that visit the beach at Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort. However, for me, the area was about mangroves, red dunes, sapphire blue waters, and white sandy beaches on the Indian Ocean.
Facing the jetty from the beach at Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort, where I was staying, I walked around a couple of headlands to discover the spot pictured above. It possibly holds greater significance for me as I was seeking solitude away from the resort crowds. There was not another person as far as the eye could see.
Shell Beach, Francois Peron National Park
The cockle shells of Shell Beach
Shell Beach on Western Australia’s Coral Coast is 45 kilometres from Denham within the UNESCO Shark Bay World Heritage Area. The beach consists of trillions of tiny white shells up to 10 metres deep, forming a beach stretching 120 kilometres. There is no sand, only shells.
Shell Beach is one of only a handful of places on earth where shells replace sand. The shells are from the tiny Fragum Cockle, also known as Hamelin or Shark Bay Cockle. They reminded me of the pipi shells I always saw on Sydney beaches.
In the early 1900s, the shells were quarried and hard-packed, cut into blocks and used to construct buildings. There is still evidence of the historic Shell Quarry.
Coral Bay, Ningaloo Coast
Coral garden on Ningaloo Reef at Coral Bay
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef is a 240-kilometre-long stretch of coral gardens with over 200 coral species and clear, turquoise waters that are home to whale sharks, manta rays, dugongs, sea turtles, and reef fish.
Ningaloo Reef is Australia’s second largest reef, the world’s largest fringing reef, and includes one of the longest near-shore reefs in the world. At Coral Bay, the reef is just 500 metres from the shore.
I took this photo of the coral through a glass-bottom boat.
The Vlamingh Head Lighthouse
Vlamingh Head Lighthouse
Just 17 kilometres from Exmouth, Vlamingh Head Lighthouse is inside the UNESCO Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area and Ningaloo Marine Park.
The lighthouse is a vantage point for magnificent views of the Indian Ocean, Ningaloo Reef, and Cape Range National Park. It is also one of the few places in Australia where you can watch both sunrise and sunset over the ocean.
Yardie Creek Gorge, Cape Range National Park
Yardie Creek Gorge
In Cape Range National Park, which, in turn, is inside the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area and adjacent to Ningaloo Marine Park, Yardie Creek Gorge is a day trip from Exmouth.
Yardie Creek Gorge was reminiscent of the gorges I visited in Western Australia’s Kimberley region in 2021, where I say I lost my heart. Dramatic, sheer red cliff landscapes are a drawcard for me.
A cruise on Yardie Creek through the gorge is an opportunity to see and photograph wildlife in their natural environment. I saw many threatened black-flanked wallabies, a goanna sunning itself, and an osprey nest known to be over 100 years old (but no osprey).
The threatened Black-Flanked Wallaby
The black-flanked wallaby must be one of the most agile marsupials on Earth, given the crevasses and caves they get in and out of on sheer cliff faces.
Turquoise Bay, Cape Range National Park
Inside Cape Range National Park and Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area, Turquoise Bay, approximately 63 kilometres from Exmouth, is described as a slice of paradise, where white sand beaches give way to its famous, crystal-clear waters.
Turquoise Bay is one of Western Australia’s best beaches and is consistently voted among the top three beaches in Australia. It took out the number 1 beach in the South Pacific and third spot in the Top 25 Beaches in the World in Tripadvisor’s 2022 Traveller’s Choice Awards.
Joffre Gorge, Karijini National Park
Joffre Gorge viewed from the lookout
Set in the Hamersley Range in the heart of the Pilbara and offering spectacular, rugged scenery and ancient geological formations, Karijini National Park is the second largest park in Western Australia.
Joffre Gorge is spectacular with its steep red cliffs and 50-metre drop waterfall. Its remarkable curved waterfall forms a natural amphitheatre.
The Joffre Gorge Lookout, where I took this photo, is a 240-metre return walk from the car park. Rock steps take you down to the lookout.
Kalamina Gorge, Karijini National Park
The waterfall in Kalamina Gorge
Kalamina Gorge is the shallowest of the gorges in Karijini National Park and is not among the largest, but it is one of the prettiest.
The lookout is 75 metres from the car park along a gravel path with a series of natural rock steps. On the morning I visited Kalamina Gorge, some of the track was eroded, and there were many loose stones.
Beware: The lookout has no safety railing.
It is a steep track with uneven stone steps to the base of the gorge, where a small waterfall drops into a permanent pool. I took the photo above from the bottom of the gorge.
Fortescue Falls (Jubula), Karijini National Park
Fortescue Falls in Karijini National Park
Fortescue Falls in Dales Gorge is one of Karijin National Park’s few permanent waterfalls. Spring-fed, the falls cascade more than 20 metres down a series of natural rock steps before finishing in a pool.
Fortescue Falls Lookout is 150 metres from the car park on a flat paved path. The lookout provides excellent views of the 100-metres-deep Dales Gorge and Fortescue Falls. Access to the bottom of Fortescue Falls is via 200 metal steps with railings. There are seats at regular intervals as you make your way down and back up.
Fern Pool (Jubura), Karijini National Park
From Fortescue Falls, you can take the 600-metre return track to Fern Pool, a picturesque swimming hole with a waterfall.
The dirt track required some navigation of rocks and is muddy and slippery (as I discovered) after rain.
Circular Pool Lookout, Karijini National Park
Circular Pool viewed from the lookout
Still in Dales Gorge in Kirijini National Park, Circular Pool is an impressive sight viewed from the lookout.
Marble Bar Pool, Coongan River
Marble Bar is said to be the hottest town in Australia. So, what better way to cool off than at this pretty spot on the Coongan River?
Marble Bar is well known for its extremely hot weather, with a mean maximum temperature second only to Wyndham, also in Western Australia.
“Marble Bar earned the title of Australia’s hottest town when it recorded the longest heatwave – 160 days over 37.7 degrees – in 1923 and 1924.
It is still listed in the Guinness Book of Recordes. Its record for the town’s hottest Christmas was in 2018 when it reached 48 degrees.
Two days later, the Marble Bar mercury hit its record – a debilitating 49.6 degrees.
While the numbers are impressive, the Bureau of Meteorology instead crowns the Kimberley town of Wyndham as having the highest annual temperature at 36.1 degrees.”
Since my return from Western Australia, several people have commented that Marble Bar has nothing to offer; that the town is not worth visiting. I beg to differ. What do you think?
Eighty Mile Beach
Eighty Mile Beach
Unspoilt Eighty Mile Beach is a beautiful pristine beach of white sand and turquoise water that goes on forever – for 220 kilometres, to be exact! It is the longest uninterrupted beach in Western Australia. I don’t know where the ‘Eighty Mile’ comes from, but it is obviously a misnomer.
In my opinion, Eighty Mile Beach beats Turquoise Bay hands down in the best beaches category. Picture perfect! What do you think?
Eco Beach Resort, Broome
The sun sets over the beach below Eco Beach Resort
The first rays of the sunset at Eco Beach Resort radiate a sepia glow over the sands and ocean. The sunset just got better and better.
The next and final stop is Broome, 134 kilometres from Eco Beach Resort.
Gantheaume Point, Broome, with Cable Beach in the distance
Gantheaume Point is at the southern end of Broome’s famous Cable Beach. With the reds and yellows of the sandstone cliffs against the backdrop of a deep blue Indian Ocean, every photo is perfect.
Gantheaume Point is a less-crowded alternative from Cable Beach Resort to watch the sun spectacularly set as it sinks below the Indian Ocean.
Driving Western Australia’s picturesque Coral Coast and awe-inspiring national parks on the road from Perth to Broome offers many quality photo opportunities. Limiting this post to 23 photo stops was not an easy task. Don’t hesitate to stop at every scenic sight, as a memorable photo could be just moments away.
Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. All photos are my own and remain the copyright of Just Me Travel.
World Weather Forecast – Know Before You Plan, Pack, and Go. The weather plays a crucial role in your enjoyment of your trip. Planning is essential and knowing the…
World Weather Forecast – Know Before You Plan, Pack, and Go.
The weather plays a crucial role in your enjoyment of your trip. Planning is essential and knowing the city weather forecasts informs your trip planning and packing.
Do you want to avoid, as much as possible, torrential downpours like this in southern India (below)? Read on to learn how.
Are you planning a trip but unsure what to pack because you don’t know the expected weather?
Do you ask yourself which month will give you the best weather for that holiday at the beach?
Do you want to go to Asia, missing the monsoon season, but don’t know which months have the highest rainfall?
I learned the hard way about this last question, travelling to Vietnam on two occasions in November and October, respectively. Vietnam’s monsoon season is May to November. On both trips, I found myself in Hoi An walking the streets in calf-deep water because the Thu Bon River had broken its banks. I’m obviously a slow learner! My third trip to Vietnam was at the end of December. No rain!
The Thu Bon River breaks its banks and floods the streets of Hoi An during the monsoon season
Here you can access reliable weather forecasts and conditions for most world cities. Specifically, you will find:
5/6-day weather forecast;
time of sunrise and sunset;
average minimum and maximum temperatures per month gathered over 30 years; and
average rainfall and rain days per month gathered over 30 years.
The World Meteorological Organisation’s long-range city weather forecasts for Broome in Western Australia (screenshot)
I am someone who loves the heat and hates the cold and rain. As such, my trip planning revolves around escaping my hometown’s cold, wet winter and seeking holidays in hot, dry places. The WMO’s long-range city weather forecast is a great asset in my decision making.
Having decided where and when I am going, the WMO’s World Weather Information Service then informs me as to what I pack, depending on the average temperature (minimum and maximum) and rainfall (how much and how often). I like to pack light, so I will not take a coat if the temperature at my destination does not drop below 25 degrees Celsius day or night. If the long-range forecast for the months I am travelling predicts no rain, I won’t take a rain jacket but will take a travel umbrella as mother nature can be a fickle mistress.
The “MyWorldWeather” is the mobile application of the World Weather Information Service and is available from the App Store and Google Play.
On a final note, I would like to leave you with the following image.
It’s the dry season in the Kimberley, Western Australia, and this car (above) crosses the flooded Pentecost River. During the wet season, the river and much of the Kimberley is impassable.
Knowing long-range city weather forecasts before you go, you will likely avoid disappointment! Make the World Meteorological Organisation’s World Weather Information Service your new best friend.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in January 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. All photos are my own and remain the copyright of Just Me Travel.
Unique Sculptures Beside the Murray River in Albury Celebrate Local Aboriginal Art and Culture The Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk is a shared walking and cycling path with the mighty Murray…
Unique Sculptures Beside the Murray River in Albury Celebrate Local Aboriginal Art and Culture
The Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk is a shared walking and cycling path with the mighty Murray River on one side and West Albury Wetlands on the other. What makes this path unique is the Aboriginal sculptures by local Indigenous artists installed along the way, sculptures that tell stories of Aboriginal culture and lore. Follow the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk through the photographs in this post, learning about each sculpture as you go.
Murray River near Kremur Street Boat Ramp, Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk
West Albury Wetlands, viewed from the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk
The Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk in Albury is a 5.6-kilometre (loop) section of the much longer Wagirra Trail (15 kilometres return, linking Wonga Wetlands with the South Albury Trail). Following the Murray River, the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk stretches from the Kremur Street boat ramp (off Padman Drive in West Albury) to Horseshoe Lagoon (accessed via the Riverina Highway). You can do the walk in the reverse direction.
I first published THE UNIQUE YINDYAMARRA SCULPTURE WALK IN ALBURY, NEW SOUTH WALES on November 22, 2020. At the time, Albury City Council had announced three new sculptures would be installed in July 2021. So, I knew I would be updating this post within the year.
The first stage of the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk was completed in December 2014. In July 2021, three new sculptures were added to the trail, and ten painted panels (‘Leaving Our Mark’) were installed along two fences near Horseshoe Lagoon. The contemporary artwork along the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk has been created by local Indigenous artists telling stories of connection to country and living culture. The sculptures are a celebration of local Aboriginal culture.
Bicycle riders, walkers, and joggers share the predominantly flat, 2-metre-wide sealed path. Dogs on leads are permitted.
Albury, on the New South Wales side of the Murray River (Australia’s longest river), is located in Wiradjuri Country – the traditional lands of the Aboriginal Wiradjuri people.
Yindyamarra is a word from the Wiradjuri language, meaning respect, be gentle, be polite, and do slowly.
I have walked the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk several times. Refer to the end of this post to know the lessons I have learned from walking the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk.
Map of the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk with the locations of the sculptures
The information provided below about the artists and the story behind the sculptures is taken from the interpretive panels presented at each sculpture site.
Starting the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk from the Kremur Street Boat Ramp, I will take you on a visual tour of unique Aboriginal art by Indigenous artists along the banks of the Murray River in Albury. I aim to pique your interest enough for you to walk or ride this beautiful path for yourself.
Teaming Life of Milawa Billa
Artists: Teaming Life of Milawa Billa (Murray River) was created by the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk Steering Committee – Daniel Cledd, Robyn Heckenberg, John Murray, Aunty Edna Stewart, and Aunty Muriel Williams.
The Teaming Life of Milawa Billa sculpture signals the commencement of the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk at the Kremur Street Boat Ramp picnic area. The design draws together significant elements from the natural environment of the Murray River – the birds, the fish, the reeds, and the yabby – telling the story of the health of the river and its cultural significance.
Artist: Tamara Murray. Tamara is a proud member of the Barkandtji tribe on her mother’s side and Yorta Yorta and Dhudaroah tribes on her father’s side.
For Tamara, the Reconciliation Shield represents bringing everyone together – working together, walking together, and living together; to make everything better, especially for the next generation. ‘The figure depicted is holding his hands in a position of submission. Enough is enough – we all need to walk together on this journey of reconciliation.’
Artists: James Fallon High School. The standing goanna by Liam Campbell (Wiradjuri), the turtle by Sara Jackson Edwards (Wamba Wamba), the snake by Raymond Jackson Edwards (Wamba Wamba), and the climbing goanna by Jaidyon Hampton (Malyangaba).
The students sculpted these creatures under the mentorship of the Aboriginal Men’s Shed and the local community. The students created a space where stories could be told and local animal life could be celebrated.
Artist: Peter Ingram. Peter is a local Wiradjuri man who enjoys making sculptures from metal and many other resources, creating artworks that bring to life country’s ancient stories of creation and lore.
Guguburra is the Wiradjuri word for kookaburra. It is seen as the most beautiful bird (budyaan) in Wiradjuri country, with wonderful attributes and character.
Guruburra is patient and kind. He will often let others before him but will defend his ground if required. He loves to laugh and reminds us to do so each day. He travels in family groups, is loyal, but sometimes ventures out alone to visit a friend and sing them a beautiful song. Guruburra shows us a wonderful way to live our lives – with joy, balance, and patience.
Vertical Message Sticks
Artist: Carmel Taylor. Carmel is a Wiradjuri woman.
The message sticks are a celebration of Carmel’s knowledge of the natural history of the river.
Carmel tells us she chose the theme of animals because she genuinely loves them, and they are native to the Albury area, bringing much joy to children and adults.
Bogong Moth Migration
Artist: Ruth Davys. Ruth is a proud Wiradjuri woman.
The Bogong Moth is a creature of cultural significance for Indigenous Australians.
Traditionally, each year the Indigenous people of southern New South Wales and northern Victoria would meet at Mungabareena Reserve (Albury) to perform ceremonies, exchange goods and discuss tribal lore. They would then travel to the high country (Victoria’s Alpine region) to feast on Bogong Moths.
Artist: Michael Quinn. Michael is a locally based Wiradjuri man. Family is very important to Michael. They are his life.
Michael’s sculpture depicts how the family used to gather and represents the importance of the family group – their staying together and connection to the land. The circle represents this unity, and the rocks represent strength and the earth. Thereby, holding the group together.
Walk with us on Wiradjuri Country
Artist: Tamara Murray. Tamara is a proud member of the Barkandtji tribe on her mother’s side, and Yorta Yorta and Dhudaroah tribes on her father’s side. Having lived on Wiradjuri land for 14 years, Tamara tells us her spirit has never been more at peace than it is on this land.
This sculpture sends a strong message to all that we stand, walk and dance on Wiradjuri country. It is a message to Wiradjuri children to hold on to and celebrate their culture as their ancestors have done and are still doing.
The Bigger Picture
Artist: Katrina Weston. Katrina is an Aboriginal person from the Barkindtji/Nyampa tribes.
According to Katrina, the purpose of the oversized picture frame is to see how the landscape changes within the frame over the years to come.
The picture within the frame is a moving, living landscape with many stories to be told and shared. It will bring people together to share traditional stories. The picture frame represents movement and change for Aboriginal people who are evolving to adapt to the ever-changing environment.
Leaving Our Mark
Artists: Various members of Albury City’s Wagirra Team – Curtis Reid, Jarret Trewin, Harry Dennis, Leroy Eggmolesse, Shane Charles, Noel Stewart, Ethan Moffitt, Richard Sievers, Keanu Wighton, and Toby Ardler.
Working on the Wagirra trail, a section of which is the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk, connected the artists to country and culture. The images are their way of telling their story along the trail.
Artist: Kianna Edwards. Kianna is a young Wiradjuri woman from Albury.
Kianna comments, “This Goanna represents one of the main totems for the Wiradjuri Nation. It holds a significant place in my spirit. It’s my totem. My story. My culture.”
‘Maya’ Fish Trap
Artists: Uncle Ken (Tunny) Murray, Darren Wighton and Andom Rendell from the Aboriginal Men’s Shed.
This over-proportioned sculpture is of a funnel style fish trap that was commonly used by the Wiradjuri people in the Albury area. These traps were woven from reeds and could even be customised to trap specific fish as well as allowing smaller fish to escape, thus protecting the species for the future.
Artist: Leonie McIntosh. Leonie is a proud Wiradjuri woman.
Leonie’s Wiradjuri Woman sculpture is based on the Possum Skin Cloak design burnt on her Nan’s cloak, which she wore for the opening ceremony of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006.
Leonie has created a sculpture of Wiradjuri Woman emerging out of this 350 – 400-year-old tree stump – ‘as if a spirit is breaking free’.
Artist: Darren Wighton. Darren is a community leader of Wiradjuri descent.
‘Googar’ is the Wiradjuri word for ‘goanna’. At 4 metres in length, Darren’s Googar sculpture is a larger-than-life version of a small wooden toy goanna that Wiradjuri children would play with and learn from in traditional times.
At the Kremur Street boat ramp, you will find free parking, public toilets, and a picnic area.
Picnic area on the banks of the Murray River at Kremur Street Boat Ramp, Albury
Horseshoe Lagoon has parking off the Riverina Highway but has no toilets or picnic facilities. It is a couple of minutes walk from the parking area to join the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk trail.
Albury is a large inland city in New South Wales on the banks of the Murray River – Australia’s longest river. It is 553 kilometres southwest of Sydney via the Hume Highway and 326 kilometres northeast of Melbourne.
The Murray River at Noreuil Park in Albury – a popular swimming spot
Lessons learned from having walked the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk previously:
The first time I walked the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk was with my sister. We commenced our walk at Noreuil Park and walked to Wonga Wetlands. As the car was at Noreuil Park, we had no alternative but to walk back the way we had come. This walk was a 14-kilometre round trip. By the time we were halfway back on our return journey, we could barely lift our feet and couldn’t talk to each other.
My second attempt at the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk was with my daughter. We left the car at Noreuil Park (I must be a slow learner) and headed out on the walk. About a kilometre from Wonga Wetlands (6 kilometres walked), my daughter could see I was flagging. So, as you can imagine, I jumped at her suggestion to sit in the shade of a tree while she jogged back for the car. Oh, to be young and fit!
My third walk along the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk was with two friends. I insisted we have a car at either end of the walk as I had now (finally) learned my walking limitations. On this occasion, we left a car at the Kremur Street Boat Ramp and drove to Wonga Wetlands, where we left the second car and commenced our walk.
An echidna scurries into the bush near Wonga Wetlands
When I initially wrote this article (November 2020), I recommended readers to walk between Horseshoe Lagoon and Kremur Street Boat Ramp (or vice versa), with a car at either end. It would seem, in the pursuing months, I have become fitter. On my latest venture along the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk to take photos of the additional sculptures, I found the 5.6-kilometre loop an easy, enjoyable walk.
What my friends had to say about the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk:
For those bird lovers out there, one of my friends recommends taking binoculars as there are several species of birds to spot along the walk.
Both friends thoroughly enjoyed the walk (described as a ‘leisurely stroll’ by one), and they commented on the number of birds, wildlife and plants seen along the way. As one friend said, seating along the walk would have been good – to absorb a sculpture, to sit and watch the river flow past, and to contemplate the landscape.
I have walked the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk several times now and have not tired of seeing the sculptures. My friends felt the sculptures showcased the artistic abilities of the local men and women of the surrounding indigenous tribes while telling their own unique stories.
I, my friends, my daughter, and my sister, recommend the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk. With the sculptures, the river, and the surrounding bush, it is an exceptional, unique walk. Ride your bike, walk the dog, or not, but see the sculptures for yourself.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2020 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. All photos are my own and remain the copyright of Just Me Travel 2021.
Comment below to share your thoughts on this blog post. Where else have you seen Aboriginal sculptures that you would like to share with readers?
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Still on an art theme in Australia, check out the posts below I wrote on the unique silo art in Victoria and New South Wales. They are packed with amazing photos, information, and tips.
What can I do with my holiday photos? 15 creative ideas to revisit your favourite holiday destination anytime. Discover 15 creative ideas for projects you can undertake to get your holiday…
What can I do with my holiday photos? 15 creative ideas to revisit your favourite holiday destination anytime.
Discover 15 creative ideas for projects you can undertake to get your holiday photos out of the dark. Create a photo book, a jigsaw puzzle, a calendar, a slideshow, and so much more. Like the cushions on your couch, the rug on your floor, make your holiday photos a part of your everyday visual content.
Do you have hundreds, thousands of holiday photos that just sit there on your computer, tablet, and/or phone? It’s time to get creative with those holiday photos; to get them out of hiding and do something productive with them so you can enjoy them and share them with others.
But first, you need to organise your holiday photos so you can easily find them. Then jump right in and have a go at one, two, three, or more of the 15 creative ideas in this post.
Use these quick links to jump straight to different creative ideas in the post:
This might seem obvious but it is a critical step if you want to find your photos again.
So often I have had people scroll through the photos on their phone looking for a specific photo to show me. By the time they have found the photo, I have lost interest in seeing it. Sound familiar?
Let me set the scene. You have a photo on your phone that you want to share on Instagram. You have never taken the time to sort your photos into meaningful ‘albums’ in your ‘Photos/Gallery’ app. You have hundreds of photos on your phone. You now spend 50 minutes scrolling through all your photos looking for that ‘one’. Do you still want to post on Instagram?
Heaven help you if the photo you want has been taken with a camera and has been uploaded to your computer or tablet. All you get is a file number, which you need to click on to see the photo. This is even more time consuming that scrolling through photos on your phone. At least on your phone, the photo is immediately presented.
The moral of the story is, if you want to get creative with your holiday photos, then you need to organise your photos. Like a filing cabinet. It will save so much time later on.
This post now assumes 2 things:
You have chosen the photos you want to use; and
You have applied some editing techniques (optional) to your photos.
This is not a ‘how-to’ post. That is, it is not about ‘how to post’ photos on Facebook or Instagram; it’s not about ‘how to make’ a photo book or calendar; it’s not about ‘how to develop’ a website; and so forth.
This post is about planting the seed; about posing ideas for what you can do with your holiday photos.
Cloud storage and sharing
As well as storing your photos directly on your own personal device (eg, the hard drive on your computer or laptop, or your phone), you can store them in the “cloud”. Cloud storage involves storing your files remotely on servers owned by companies and made accessible to you from any device, anywhere that has an internet connection. This is a safe means for backing up your photos.
I am an advocate for backing up photos. Think about how you would feel if you lost all your photos because your computer, laptop, tablet, or phone crashed and that was the only place you had your photos stored.
All of these cloud storage service providers offer free file storage at varying degrees of limitations. They are available using various Operating System platforms, across different devices, for example, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android. To share your holiday photos with family and friends, simply send them a link via email or text.
Post and share on Facebook
Share your holiday photos with family and friends on Facebook – a website that allows users to socially network with other people online. Once you have created a free Facebook profile, you are then able to share your holiday photos with family and friends.
Broaden your sharing horizons and join travel photography groups on Facebook.
Facebook is available on any device with an internet connection. Because Facebook is web-based, as long as you have internet access, you can post your holiday photos while you are travelling; not having to wait until you get home
Post and share on Instagram
Instagram is a free app for sharing your holiday photos. Unlike Facebook, which is multi-faceted, Instagram is photo-centric and mobile-centric. The Instagram app is available on Apple iOS, Android, and Windows phones.
Once you create an Instagram account you can upload your holiday photos and then have the option to share them with a select group of friends who also have an Instagram account, or with people who have chosen to follow your account.
Create a photo book / Coffee table book
Pixabay free stock images
A photo book is a great way to share your special holiday memories in a printed format. A photo book is a compilation of your chosen photos that create a visual story. While the photos are the primary message, you can add text to complement the story.
An internet search for photo book services/makers is overwhelming for choices. My search of the 5 best photo book services/makers in the USA, UK, and Australia showed ‘Snapfish’ to be the only one appearing on all 3 lists. I have used Snapfish, but only for making a birthday card and printing a photo on a mug.
With so many photo book services around, how do you choose the right one for you and your photo book project? How do you know what you should take into consideration? ‘Choice’ is a highly credible, unbiased, and well-respected product and service review organisation in Australia. They have published an article that you may find useful …
Some photos simply pop and look better when they’re physically printed in book form. Consider putting together your top vacation photos and getting them printed via a service.
I recently used Zno and was impressed with their high-quality printing and the fact that the images lay flat without the book gutter running through them. Another service called ChatBooks is a little more automated and can sync your Instagram or Facebook photos into a book design for printing.
Having created the photo book of your favourite photos from your holiday, don’t hide it away in a cupboard or tucked into your bookcase. Keep it on your coffee table so you, your family and friends can enjoy those photos at will. You might be surprised as to just how many people will pick up and browse through your photo book.
Create a calendar
A calendar makes a beautiful photo gift for yourself, family, and friends. And practical too! I had so much fun creating these two calendars as examples to show you.
You only need the free version of Canva to create a calendar.
There are several products you can create in Canva where you can then place a print order, and have it delivered straight to you. Calendars, unfortunately, is not one of those. Save your calendar and find a printer to bring your creation to life.
The bonus with using Snapfish to create your calendar is the ability to create, order, and pay all online within their website. It will then be shipped straight to you.
There are many online options available for creating a calendar from your holiday photos.
Create a photo ‘flip’ book
I saw this idea using postcards, but don’t see why it wouldn’t work just as well with photos. To make the photos more durable to much handling, you could laminate them.
To create a photo flip book, print your favourite holiday photos (with a flip book for each separate holiday); punch a hole or two in each photo; and then ‘bind’ them together with a split ring or, better still, with a hinged ring.
Like your photo book, don’t then hide your flip book in a cupboard, but leave it lying around on your coffee table.
Make a photo wall
A section of my photo wall
Create a photo gallery on a wall in your home – a photo wall. This is a fun way to showcase your favourite holiday photos and creates a talking point when visitors come to your home.
I see a photo wall comprising of that one photo from each holiday that ‘speaks’ to you; that sums up your holiday; the one that captures the ‘heart and soul’ of your holiday. The one photo that tells the whole story of your holiday experience.
How you display your photos on your photo wall is entirely up to you – framed; printed on tiles, glass or canvas; or just stuck on the wall. Let your decorative style take hold.
Transform your favourite holiday photo into a jigsaw puzzle
For Christmas 2018, my adult children had one of my photos from my trip to Morocco transformed by Jigsaw Puzzles Australia into a 1000 pieces jigsaw puzzle.
I was thrilled with this present. However, there has been many a time that I have cursed them because they probably chose the hardest photo for a jigsaw. As you can see from my progress photo above, I still have not finished it 18 months later. Even so, I advocate this creative idea as a gift for yourself, family, or friends.
Once you have completed your jigsaw, you can have it mounted and framed and hang it on your wall.
An internet search of, for example, “personalised jigsaw puzzles”, “turn photos into jigsaw puzzles”, will reveal numerous services for you to choose from. Refine your search by adding your country, for example, “personalised jigsaw puzzles australia/uk/usa/nz” etc, to localise your search and make it more relevant.
Snapfish, that seemingly worldwide photo products maker, also makes custom jigsaw puzzles from your photos. Dead easy to create yourself and have shipped to you.
Turn your holiday photos into a movie
DVDs of the movies I have made of my holiday photos
Would you like to watch a movie of your holiday on your television?
For those of you with an Apple device, you can create a movie of your holiday in iMovie that includes adding background music and narration (voice-over). Once created and saved (exported), you can stream your holiday movie on your television.
There are several ways you can share your holiday movie project: email, YouTube, Prepare for Facebook, and File. On an iPhone and iPad, you will have additional sharing (exporting) options, including AirDrop, YouTube, Messages, and Mail.
I have created 6 movies from my photos in iMovie and have been thrilled with the results. I burn my movies to DVDs. When there is nothing worth watching on TV, I will put one in the DVD player and give in to nostalgia. There’s something special about seeing the places you have been to on the big screen.
I have done some trips with family members. I plan to create movies from those trips in iMovie and upload them to YouTube to share with them.
Don’t have an Apple device? An internet search of “software similar to imovie for pc” presented many options that could be worth trying.
Create a slideshow
Like movies, slideshows are a great way to present your favourite holiday photos. You can create a slideshow in Adobe Lightroom’s Slideshow module. However, unlike iMovie, you are not able to narrate your slideshow.
You can use any video editing program for creating a slideshow of your holiday photos. However, viable options include:
Google Photos. There is no recording option (narration) for a movie slideshow in Google Photos.
Windows 10. You will need the updated version of Windows 10 (above 1809) to access the ‘video editor’ (the free app in Windows 10).
Microsoft PowerPoint. Export your slideshow as a video file (.mp4) and you can upload it anywhere, for example, Facebook; YouTube.
With all of these options, you can apply time duration, transitions, effects, and background music.
I had fun creating a slideshow with Pholody. To get the benefit of all the features of this free online slideshow maker, use Google Chrome. Once created, your slideshow is downloadable as an mp4 video file and shareable.
By using your Google account, you can create your own, free YouTube account. Thus, enabling you to stream your holiday slideshow on your TV and (depending on your privacy settings) share it with family and friends.
Keep a holiday diary
One of the best ways to revisit your holiday is to keep a holiday diary; making daily entries and uploading photos as you go. By using an online diary, the friends and family you share the link to your diary with, can read it and see where you are and what you are doing as you update it.
There are many online travel diaries available. Initially, I used the app, TravelPod. When it closed in 2017, I did a lot of research looking for another free alternative that would appeal to me and meet my needs. After reading many reviews on several alternative apps, I chose Travel Diaries, and haven’t looked back.
Travel Diaries is easy to use, and editing is a breeze. I can customise my diaries, add as many photos as I want, and include location and route maps. I share my ‘Travel Diaries’ entries with family as I travel.
Turn your holiday story and photos into a printed book
My travel diary book
Take your holiday diary and photos one step further and turn it into a printed book.
When I was using TravelPod, I had one of my travel diaries made into a printed book. I often get this book out and get great pleasure out of revisiting my holiday through my words and photos. There is something special about holding a physical book.
With Travel Diaries, you can order your completed diary as a printed book from within the app.
One of the best ways to recap your vacation is to make a blog post, combining photos with stories and words to give it more context. Don’t have a blog? No worries! It’s very easy to create a free blog on sites like WordPress. If making a blog sounds like too much, Adobe Spark offers a free, very intuitive format for quickly creating a travel blog of words and photos.
Sell your holiday photos
Turn your holiday photos into money.
My internet search found the following services were the most frequently identified top places to sell your photos online: Shutterstock; Alamy; Adobe Stock; and 500px.
A good place to start if you are looking for free options include:
Picfair – Sign up for free. You create your store, upload your images & name your price. Picfair does everything else – produce and send a print to the customer or handle the license for a purchased download. You can upgrade to Picfair Plus (at a cost), which gives many additional features and more customisation options.
With Zazzle, you join as a designer – it’s free. Upload and sell your photos on hundreds of their products without the hassle of fulfilling orders or dealing with customer service.
I have not, as yet, progressed to selling my photos online. But this is something I regularly give serious consideration to. I particularly like what I see on the website of TourPhotos because it is a platform specifically for tourists and travel photographers to sell their photos online to travel agencies, tour companies, and the general public.
Showcase on the web
Create a web gallery for your holiday photos. Sound scary? Not really! Google Photos (discussed at the beginning of this post) is a web photo gallery program.
Flickr is one of the most widely known photo-sharing social networks. And it has free image hosting. You can set up your privacy options to share with everyone or a selected audience.
Or, you can build your own website. Become a photo blogger. The following article from ‘Envira Gallery’ shows you how to set up a photo gallery website with WordPress:
Thanks to printing companies such as Zazzle, you can print your photos on a wide range of objects. T-shirts, magnets, and mugs might seem like traditional items on which you tend to find custom printed photos. But did you know that your photo can be printed on an iPhone case, blanket, pillow, bathmat, Zippo lighter, playing cards, and even a skateboard?
Snapfish is certainly worth a look at as they have so many products you can choose from to print your holiday photos on – mugs, drink bottles, coasters, stubby holders, phone cases, pencil cases, keyrings, dog tags, playing cards, cushion covers, fridge magnets, blankets mousepads, shopping bags, Christmas decorations and more.
I have a coffee mug with my favourite elephant photo on it (pictured above). I rather fancy printing a couple of my favourite holiday photos on some cushion covers.
If you have any questions or are interested in knowing what tools I use, send me an email <email@example.com> or leave a comment.
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Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. Unless specifically stated, all photos are my own and remain the copyright of Joanna Rath.
Does your jewellery put your safety at risk when travelling? And what about that expensive equipment you carry around? Are you an easy target for scammers, muggers and thieves? How…
Does your jewellery put your safety at risk when travelling? And what about that expensive equipment you carry around? Are you an easy target for scammers, muggers and thieves? How can you improve your safety when travelling?
Read on if you want to avoid making yourself a target while travelling; if you want to avoid theft, kidnapping and physical harm when travelling in foreign countries.
There is a plethora of blog posts out there about safety when travelling; about the precautions you should be taking to protect yourself and your belongings. For example:
don’t walk around on your own at night;
hide your money;
put a wedge under your hotel door;
never leave your drink unattended;
research common scams in your destination;
avoid public demonstrations;
use a luggage cable to secure your bags on buses and trains;
only use ATMs inside banks or buildings and only during the daytime;
carry your backpack or purse on your front;
research what is appropriate to wear.
And so the list goes on.
Much of this you would think is common sense. Having said that, I would never have thought to not only lock my hotel room door but to put a wedge under the door as well. It is easy to forget that hotel staff have a Master Key.
What I haven’t seen in blog posts on safety tips when travelling (and that doesn’t mean it’s not out there), is specific mention of jewellery and expensive equipment, such as cameras, tablets, mobile phones. How these might put your personal safety at risk and what you might do about this.
Do you wear jewellery when travelling?
Is it that gold chain that you never take off? Is it those diamond earrings you got from a loved one and don’t want to leave behind? Is it that watch you have to wear because you feel naked without it (that’s me)? Have you ever thought about the impact of that jewellery on your safety when travelling?
When travelling to many countries, particularly developing countries, the mere fact that you are in their country makes you a rich person. They don’t see the budget you’re travelling on, and they wouldn’t believe you anyway. You can afford to travel and that is all they know or understand. Your limited budget could well be their income for the year (or more).
The jewellery you wear can make you a target. Your jewellery can put your physical safety at risk when thieves try to take it; to rip that necklace off from around your neck. You can be vulnerable to muggings – to see what other valuables you may be carrying. Your jewellery may also place you in danger of kidnapping because you are seen to be rich and, therefore, a loved one will pay a lot of money for your release. This latter is extreme, I know, but should not be dismissed. It makes no difference whether it be valuable jewellery or costume jewellery. Especially as it is often hard to tell the difference between precious gems and glass in jewellery. I would not be able to tell the difference.
Don’t tempt fate!
I love jewellery and get a lot of enjoyment out of wearing it. I always buy pieces (earrings, necklaces, bracelets, brooches) from wherever I travel. My family and friends would tell you I have heaps. Well, more than heaps.
I would like to say I wear no jewellery when I travel. But I can’t. Remember, I’m the person above who has to wear a watch because I feel naked without it. I also have pierced ears. Because I travel for weeks at a time, I don’t want the holes to close over. So, I do wear earrings. I wear small silver sleepers (not gold as that yells, “expensive”) and don’t take any other earrings with me. The watch and the sleepers are the limit of my jewellery while travelling.
On the flip side … I am not married, so don’t wear a wedding ring. However, to minimise being harassed as a female traveller and to add to my sense of security, I wear a wedding band when I travel in the middle east.
And what about that camera you lug around?
Your camera not only labels you as a tourist (a risk in itself) but potentially puts you at risk of being mugged to relieve you of that camera.
I do use one of those expensive DSLR cameras because I love my photography. I use my photographs on my travel blog and would, one day, love to sell my photos. However, I take what precautions I can to remove the ‘rich person’ target on my back and its possible consequences, and to prevent it being stolen:
I keep the camera out of sight in my backpack when I am not shooting. If your camera is small enough, keep it in your pocket.
I do not walk around with my camera slung around my neck or over my shoulder.
When I do have my camera out to take photos, I wear the strap around my neck or twisted around my wrist. I don’t carry the camera on my shoulder as it would be too easy for someone to remove.
My camera strap is non-descript in that it does not have the camera brand name blazoned all over it.
Do you use a mobile phone or tablet to take photos?
On my last visit to Vietnam, the tour guide advised us to stand well back from the road when taking photos with a mobile phone. We were informed that motor cyclists drive past tourists and grab their mobile phones.
I’m sure Vietnam is not the only country where this occurs. Besides, it’s good advice wherever you travel. In fact, to improve your safety when travelling, it is best not to use your mobile phone while walking around. If you need to make a phone call or check a map on your phone, sit in a café to do so. Thieves are pretty cluey as to the worth of mobile phones and you don’t want to risk your safety.
In parting, I offer some further advice provided by my Vietnamese guide:
There are fake taxis whose metres spin faster the the guide could spin his arm in a circle. He described which to catch and which are fake.
Don’t stop when crossing the road. A slow and steady pace is required so traffic can avoid you.
It’s safe to walk around at night but don’t display valuables.
Remove diamond rings.
Men should carry their wallet in the side pocket of their pants rather than the back pocket to deter pick pockets.
Taking steps to improve your safety when travelling can only enhance your travel experience. Hopefully, the vulnerabilities and tips I have identified in this post will go a long way towards that happy ending.
Keep safe. Take care. Happy travels.
Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. Unless specifically stated, all photos are my own and remain a copyright of Joanna Rath.
Ethiopia’s Coffee Ceremony is Deeply Rooted in Tradition and is Socially Significant I love coffee. I have drunk coffee in many, many countries with varying degrees of appreciation. Well,…
Ethiopia’s Coffee Ceremony is Deeply Rooted in Tradition and is Socially Significant
I love coffee. I have drunk coffee in many, many countries with varying degrees of appreciation. Well, now I have found coffee heaven. It’s in Ethiopia and there is a whole ceremony wrapped around the making and drinking of it.
Ethiopia is the home of coffee. The coffee plant originated in Ethiopia and the beans were first brewed in the 11thcentury. So, they have had a lot of practice doing stuff with coffee. The coffee ceremony is an integral part of Ethiopian culture and hospitality. It is an important social occasion.
Ethiopians have a delightful story around the discovery of the benefits of coffee. A goat herder noticed his goats acting excitedly and ‘dancing’ on the hind legs after eating bright red berries. When he tried the berries himself, he felt energised. He grabbed some berries and rushed home to tell his wife who told him he must share these “heaven sent” berries with the monks in the nearby monastery. The monks did not share the goat herder’s elation, believing the berries to be sinful; to be the work of the Devil. They tossed the coffee berries in the fire. However, the smell of the roasting coffee beans had the monks rethinking their view of this sinful drug and removed the coffee beans from the fire. They crushed the coffee beans to put out the glowing embers and covered them with hot water to preserve them. The aroma of the coffee had all the monks wanting to try it. After which, they vowed to drink coffee every day because they found the uplifting effects of the coffee helped to keep them awake during their holy devotions. And so, history was made.
I loved the ceremony as much as the coffee itself. Unlike Italy where coffee is drunk quickly whilst standing, making and drinking coffee in Ethiopia is not to be rushed as no step is to be missed.
Wherever I travelled in Ethiopia, the coffee ceremony was always the same. There was something reassuring in this familiarity and about the smell of fresh grasses that were invariably laid on the ground.
First, the raw coffee beans are rubbed together in water in a pan to remove the skins on the beans. Then they are roasted over a charcoal brazier. This releases the aromatic oils out of the beans. The hostess – I never saw this ceremony conducted by a man – brings the pan of smoking, roasted beans around for you to waft the smoke towards you; to draw in the aroma of the roasted beans.
Once roasted, the beans are ground with a mortar and pestle. Traditionally, the mortar and pestle are made of wood.
The jebena I bought in a local market in Bahir Dar
While this is happening, water is being boiled in a “jebena” – a traditional Ethiopian clay coffee pot with a bulbous, round bottom; a long narrow neck topped with a wooden or straw stopper; and a handle.
Once the coffee beans are ground, they are added to the boiling water. The combined water and beans are boiled for a couple of minutes and then rested to allow the coffee powder to sink to the bottom of the pot.
By this stage, if you are a coffee lover like me, the smell of freshly brewed coffee will have your mouth watering in anticipation of what is to come.
Finally, the coffee is poured into small, handleless china cups (very much like Turkish coffee cups). The pouring is done from as high as possible above the cups – from about a foot above the cups. The coffee is usually served with popcorn or peanuts.
Ethiopian coffee is drunk sweet and black. In fact, very sweet – 2 to 3 teaspoons of sugar. Mind you, the teaspoons are minuscule. I learnt to enjoy black coffee. However, by the time I left Ethiopia, I was drinking the coffee with a bit less sugar.
When partaking of coffee in Ethiopia, etiquette requires you to have three cups of coffee. The first cup is to welcome you, the second cup is about friendship and the third cup is to say goodbye. Remember, these are very small cups, so having three is less in quantity than a mug of coffee.
Ethiopian coffee is the best I have ever tasted. The two women I was travelling with told me I said, “Oh, that’s good coffee” every time I have a cup of coffee. This must have driven them mad because we had lots (and I mean lots) of cups of coffee. Finally, one of my travel companions told our diver/guide that Ethiopia needs to change its tourism slogan from ’13 months of sunshine’ to ‘Oh, that’s good coffee’. He just laughed.
Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. all photos are my own and remain the copyright of Joanna Rath.
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Cultural insensitivity is, in my opinion, a sign of deep disrespect. I leant this the hard way in Varanasi (India) when I “innocently” took a photo of the cremation pyres…
Cultural insensitivity is, in my opinion, a sign of deep disrespect. I leant this the hard way in Varanasi (India) when I “innocently” took a photo of the cremation pyres on the banks of the Ganges River. It took my guide a lot of talking, much apologising and payment of money to appease the men who supply wood for the pyres. In my defence (but no excuse), I had not been informed not to take photos of the cremations.
I was mortified by my wrongdoing. Even though this occurred a number of years ago, I still beat myself up about it. I was not new to international travel and would have described myself as culturally sensitive. To this day, I cannot explain what made me think it was okay to take such a photo.
So, when our guide in Mongolia advised us on local customs before our 2-night stay with a nomadic family, I felt a deep sense of appreciation. And that of relief; that I was not going to commit any social or cultural faux pas through ignorance. I have a strong belief that knowledge is power, and I was about to meet this family in a “powerful” (culturally knowledgeable) position.
So, what lessons did I learn from my Mongolian guide?
First up, our guide requested we not immediately take photos of the family but to get to know them a little first. This, I felt, was a more than reasonable request and one I knew I would have no trouble complying with because I often feel uncomfortable photographing people. However, given this was a photography tour I was on, the family expected photos to be taken of them as they knew this was a part of our learning.
We were then informed that we can ask any questions we want, with the guide translating for us as the family doesn’t speak any English. I suspect this also gave the guide the inadvertent opportunity to ‘censor’ any inappropriate questions – a good filtering system.
When you enter a ger, you must always go to the left. Don’t circle the interior of the ger. If you need to go to the right once inside the ger, go back to the door and then go to the right.
Do not touch a person’s head or shoulder, as to do so, is taking that person’s luck away.
Touching a person’s feet (with your feet) signifies you want to challenge that person to a fight. If you do touch a person’s feet unintentionally, shake hands with that person or touch their arm. By doing this you are saying, “I didn’t mean that” (to challenge to a fight); it removes the challenge.
Do not throw tissues in the fire. The fire is a holy thing and throwing a tissue in the fire is contaminating the fire. This was important to know as one by one we were coming down with colds.
Whatever is offered (that is, food or drink) must be accepted and you must taste whatever is offered or, at least pretend to taste it by putting the food or drink to your lips. There is another alternative if offered a glass of vodka. You can put your ring finger in the vodka, remove your finger from the vodka and flick your ring finger into the air. Thereby, flicking drops of vodka in the air.
Don’t step on the threshold of the ger. You must always step over it.
When offered something, before taking it, touch it with your right hand while supporting the elbow with the left hand. This is also followed when giving something. The exception to this is when offered or giving a meal.
When exiting religious buildings, eg temples, step out backwards so that you do not show your back to the interior. To show your back is to show disrespect to the gods.
The children in Mongolia don’t get their hair cut until between 2 and 5 years of age. For girls, this is usually between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Whereas boys will have their first hair cut at 3 to 5 years of age. The reason for leaving the first cutting of children’s hair until this age is because it is believed they are born with their mother’s hair. The cutting (more like shaving) of the hair signifies the child becoming their own person and is celebrated with a hair cutting ceremony.
The khadag is a long piece of silk cloth (like a scarf). It comes in 5 different colours – blue, white, yellow, green and red – with each colour having its own unique significance:
Blue is the most sacred colour in Mongolian culture; representing Mongolia’s eternal blue sky. The blue khadag is the most common and can be given to anyone, regardless of age, to show respect.
White represents milk and is the symbol of purity. It is often given to mothers.
Yellow represents the sun and is the symbol of wisdom. It is given when you greet monks.
Green represents earth; being in tune with nature. It is the colour of inner peace and is only used in religious rituals.
Red represents fire and blood (as in circulation). It is the colour of life; of prosperity. As with the green khadag, it is not used to greet people but is only used in religious ceremonies.
To give or offer a khadag to someone or something is to show respect; the ultimate offering. To give a blue khadag to a person or animal is the highest form of respect. Driving through Mongolia, I would often see sheep and horses with a blue khadag tied around their neck. Our guide explained this is showing respect for the animal and it can’t be killed/eaten.
The cairns (shrines) throughout Mongolia are mounds of rocks and stones for offerings. Photograph by Speak Photography
The cairns (stone shrines known as ovoos) that dot Mongolia are festooned with khadags, primarily blue ones. Most Mongolians are Buddhist, but Shamanism still remains an integral part of Mongolian life. The cairns are erected by locals and travellers as a means of providing offerings to the local spirits; thus, showing their respect and honouring the spirits of the surrounding land. When you come across a cairn, you should always stop and show your respect by making an offering. The ritual entails walking around the cairn three times in a clockwise direction. As you do so, you make an offering while making a prayer or wish. This might be for a safe journey, good health, good fortune or for much needed rain. The offering can be a khadag, food, money, vodka, etc or a small stone. If you are in a hurry and don’t have time to stop at a cairn, the driver will honk the horn three times. At one cairn, our driver offered a blue khadag. We settled for a small stone each time we stopped at a cairn – and there were many.
My conclusion? Don’t forget to know before you go.
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Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. Unless otherwise stated, all photos are my own and remain the copyright of Joanna Rath.