NOTA BENE

Notes, comment and buzz from Eugene Kaspersky – Official Blog

July 8, 2015

In Kimberley, Oz, I was. Part 7.

As mentioned in my previous post, in this one I’ll quickly go over what we didn’t see in Kimberley, but really wanted to.

Since Kimberley is a truly titanic territory, seeing it all in three days (a mere long weekend) is simply impossible. However, I was assured we did get in all the best bits of the territory. Also, another important objective was reached: Now I know where, when and specifically how inspecting the place’s natural beauty spots needs to be done. Thus, the below material should be taken as a plan of action for future visits…

So, herewith, some pointers for how best to plan and organize a sightseeing vacation in Kimberley, Australia:

– Season to visit: April-May – right after the rain season; so as to see the waterfalls at their best – in full gusto.
– Micro-timing of the trip: when there’s either a new or full moon; so as to see the tides at their best – at their maximally extreme.
– To have one or two days’ plane or coach excursions; so as to see all the sights described and photo’d in my Kimberley posts 1-6.
– To charter a ship for, say, 10 days (preferably with a helicopter, or to come to an agreement with a local chopper company).
– Sail on the ship from Broome to Wyndham (or nearby – wherever the ship can moor); so as to be able to inspect all the most significant coastal beauty.

… And those most significant coastal beauties are as follows:

1. King Cascade, somewhere on this river. (Surprisingly, the Internet has little to say about or show of this place.) It’s around 200km (as the crow flies) northeast of the Horizontal Falls. The few pics on the net are here.

SourceSource

More…

July 3, 2015

In Kimberley, Oz, I was. Part 6.

G’day possums!

Herewith, the penultimate post in what has turned out to be a bit of a marathon travelogue series from down-under…

After lunch after our morning adventures on our last full day here, it was finally time for some retail therapy!

But not in the traditional sense of mall-traipsing + inevitable food-court submission, naturally; no malls in Kimberley. No, it’s a very specific type of shopping – of just one product. Can you guess yet?

Guys (males) – I’d recommend doing this spot of shopping either without the wife/girlfriend/daughter, or without credit cards or cash. Preferably with neither! For the product on offer here doesn’t come cheap…

The product is… the pearl! Pearls are industrially produced here at Leveque Cape.

It goes like this:

Locals here catch oyster shells, implant inside them a foreign body (I forget made of what), then put the shells into net cages and put them back in the sea. Several years later they open up the shells to find – da, daaaa – pearls!

The meat left over inside the shells is fed to hungry tourists here, and beautifully cleaned up and finished shells are also sold to them once they’ve had their fill of the oysters. Nice little side line :).

Check these pearl-farming pics out:

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Shells…

July 2, 2015

In Kimberley, Oz, I was. Part 5.

Time to move from all things on-land to all things just off it – to the more attractive sections of coastline, for we were told the best natural charms of Kimberley lie on or near its shoreline. From Broome (the region’s ‘capital’ if you missed it earlier, also our base) the nearest bit of awesome ocean-ness is up at Buccaneer Archipelago, just under 250km away.

What a place! Countless islands, islets, cliffs, straits, bays, an almost turquoise tropical ocean, and impossible horizons. Wikipedia reckons there are more than 800 islands here. But I don’t get how they can be counted accurately: when the tide is low some tiny islets may emerge; when high – they’ll disappear again…

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More…

July 1, 2015

In Kimberley, Oz, I was. Part 4.

G’day possums!

Back. In the outback…

The next point of call on our tour or northwestern Australia was the Tunnel Creek National Park, around half an hour’s drive from Windjana Gorge.

Tunnel Creek itself runs through a natural cave cut into the limestone that was once the Devonian reef here under the ocean. Tourists come and naturally walk through the tunnel, which is what we did too. Insider tip: Wellington boots are a good idea. You’ll see why:

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More…

June 29, 2015

In Kimberley, Oz, I was. Part 3.

Hi all!

After our first, somewhat tame forays into the wonderful wizard corner of Oz called Kimberely, it was high time we headed to the hellishly hot central part of the region – into the savanna and nearer to the Great Sandy Desert. For there’s plenty to see there too…

Now, if you were to travel approximately 300km to the east of Broome, and for some reason got stranded there in the dry season with no transportation or satellite phone… you’re dead in the water (actually, dead with no water) for sure. Your mummified carcass would perhaps be found after two or three weeks, or, more likely, it will have disappeared already after the termites and other hungry creatures have made an extended feast out of it. Yes sir, for this place is… a beautifully barren, direly desolate, utterly unpeopled and unroaded savanna that stretches for thousands of miles all around.

Hmmm. That paragraph came over a little macabre; and flowery. Let me try again…

If you were to travel approximately 300km to the east of Broome accompanied by reliable guides and with guaranteed means of transportation and communication, then it’s highly likely you’d find yourself in the thoroughly interesting Windjana Gorge national park (here). Apparently, if the various tourist information/history boards here are to be believed, then some 360 million years ago – in the Devonian (the period in which amphibians appeared) – this was where the coastline was, and underneath the ocean waves crashing against it a massive barrier reef was formed…

(Hmmm. Still… too wordy. I’ll have to start getting to the point quicker.)

…Anyway, later on, the sea left the area to expose the reef, which is now a terrestrial rock formation. It’s the ridge here in the next pic, somewhat incongruously traversing the sunny Australian savanna:

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Read on: Deep gorge through the coral-rock…

June 25, 2015

In Kimberley, Oz, I was. Part 2.

G’day folks!

I’m back – with tales from the outback

In today’s installment, a bit of narrative, but mostly just lots of pics – both from up in the air and on the ground.

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The landscapes here are stupefying. Endless horizons and beaches, islands, savannah, rock formations, cliffs. There’s so much to take in… so much to, perhaps, paint. Shame, say, Turner or Constable never made it down here.

Rerad on: Bodacious baobabs…

June 23, 2015

In Kimberley, Oz, I was. Part 1.

By way of a preface:

Without looking on the Internet, who can tell me which is bigger: the Moon or Australia?

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This is the first in a mini-series of posts on Kimberley, Australia!

I’d heard a lot about this place. That it’s impressively beautiful, with scenic landscapes and fantastic views. But that it’s also huge, hard to reach, sparsely populated, and has almost no roads. Plus it’s red hot all year round because it’s in the tropics. All that turned out to be true, but all the same, hardly anyone really knew much about Kimberley because they’d never been there. Folks had heard this or that about it, but no one could give me the real scoop on where to go or what to see.

So it was my job to lead the scouting party. We recently spent three days in and around Broome, and now I know almost everything about the place – and I’m eager to share this knowledge :).

Everything I saw and snapped and touched made a big impression on me, so I’ll write about all the main bits in stand-alone installments in no particular order.  If you want you could read them all later and piece the jigsaw together for yourself; it’ll be worth it.

So…

Australia is stupendously massive. The country’s dimensions are around 4000 km from western edge to eastern edge, and 3000 from north to south. That’s almost the distance from Brest on the Atlantic coast of France to the Urals in Russia across, and just ~500 km less than the distance between the top tip of Finland down to Athens, Greece vertically. In effect, the territory of Australia is pretty much equivalent to the whole of Europe.

Australia’s ‘waist line’ is slightly larger than the Moon’s diameter. The Moon, unlike Australia, can be routinely visible to all inhabitants of Earth who, if only occasionally, direct the optical system incorporated into their heads up into the sky :).

But this stat might really shock you: the Moon is almost 3500 km in diameter – which is 500 km less than the fattest bulge on Australia’s ‘waist’!

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Read on: a small town spread across a huge territory…

June 22, 2015

Hotel to cathedral.

I’d been wanting to get to Scotland for ages, and just recently I finally made it. But it was only for two days in St Andrews, and although those were a super two days, they hardly equaled ‘doing’ Scotland. Far too short a stay. A proper trip to Scotland requires several days touring the country, driving around lochs, walking in the mountains. Oh yes, Scotland has plenty of mountains. When the plane took off I could clearly see the snow-clad peaks far away to the north. Alas, they’ll have to wait for next time.

Scottish scenery – it’s just crying out to be your desktop wallpaper. Have a look!:

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Read on: I don’t need to say much here – the photos tell the story…

June 16, 2015

Australian winter, Scottish summer.

What are the differences between a chilly Australian winter and a hot Scottish whisky summer?

There are plenty, but the main ones are: First, here in bonnie Scotland – at least on the eastern side where we were last week – there are no palm trees to be seen out the window. Second, the sun moves in the opposite direction, and does so very slowly: it gets dark around 10pm and gets light around 4-5am. Sure, it’s at a latitude of 56 degrees north after all!

Anyway, here we were in sunny St Andrews in Scotland, United Kingdom!

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Read on: Green and pleasant land…

June 15, 2015

Unexpected and extremely inexplicable sightings.

What are the chances of Hell ever freezing over, or, in the meantime, a cat surviving a short stay there? That’s right, slim at best.

Now, I would have thought there’d be similarly slim chances of seeing a car with Russian ’41’ plates – that’s Kamchatka folks, far-eastern Russia, next to Japan – on the cobbled roads of the Kaliningrad region – right at the other end of the world’s longest country some dozen time zones away. But I was recently proved wrong. Extremely unlikely sightings do occur…:

'41'; must be on the run’41′; must be on the run

Once I saw some motorbikes with German plates on the island of Crete. More than 1000km from home! EH?

And just occasionally UK plates – white on the front, yellow on the back – are to be seen in Moscow. That sure is some distance to cover.

Surprised? Intrigued? Impressed? You… shouldn’t be…

…For this is what I saw the other day:

'Extreme Duty Winch' – on an extreme duty Benz!‘Extreme Duty Winch’ – on an extreme duty Benz!

Yes folks, these photos were taken last week – not in, say, Saxony, Germany – but in Sydney, Australia! These Merc G-Classes were parked up outside the Shangri-La hotel there. Maybe Hell will one day freeze over – or at least fit central heating in the bed & breakfasts there to keep visiting felines warm…

You've Come a Long Way, Baby!You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

So, how on earth – or in (freezing) Hell – did they get there?

On a ship: from Italy via the Suez canal, across the Indian Ocean, around Australia and to Sydney?

Or overland: via Poland, Russia, Mongolia, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Papua, and then on a ferry to northern Oz, and then cross-country-desert?

Or maybe the more boring route: via Greece, Turkey, Syria (hmmm, maybe not), Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, India, Myanmar, and so on?

// Or maybe they were just playing silly beggars and put German plates on locally purchased and registered Mercedes? Naah, surely not. The customized bits and bobs added to these vehicles (e.g., the contraption on one of the roofs), all that road (desert?) grime… Naah.

So how did they get here? A mystery. What do you think?  Any ideas?

G’day maties!…