Thinking of An Australian Visit ?

UluruMatt Milstead is one of our readers from Australia. He works for a motel chain called Golden Chain that claims to " have more locations than any other hotel chain in the world". Given that many Silverlinkers are retired and like to travel it seemed to us that getting Matt to write us a short piece on travelling in Australia might wet your appetitie for making the trip. So here  is what he had to say:

Australia - Natures Hidden Treasures

If you the type of person who just loves the outdoors, loves all that mother nature has to offer, or if you are a couple who just wants to enjoy each others company surrounded by the pure calming mountains, gardens, and coastline well then Australia is the country for you.

Australia has always been noted for her beaches, sun, sand and surf, but there is more to Australia then the high adrenaline marketing eye.

The article below will open the door to a different, mor slow paced and serene Australia with all her beautiful, peaceful and mesmerizing places. This virtual journey will show you some of the hidden treasures that and paint Australia in way it has not been presented before. Will show you a glimpse of what’s on offer, where you can go and what you can do to experience Australia the way it has not been experienced by many before, but for the real deal, you are just going to have to go an visit for yourself and create your own lasting memories.

Places You Want to See and Remember Forever:

Western Australia:

Pink Lake, located in Western Australia, a a hidden gem and one of the most spectacular sights that mother nature can offer. What makes it pink? Its a whole underground Eco system. The lake is filled with live lake algae, that feed of the high salt content combined together present this lake with this pink velvet color best seen with the naked eye. To capture the true beauty of this lake, we recommend visiting the lake either at dusk, when the incredible rainbow selections of pink meet with Australia’s wellknown orange and red sunset. For a complete contrast, visit the lake in early dawn, where both the blue sky and the pink lake dance take your breath away. 


South Australia:

Love your wine, then South Australia is a must! Imagine the sunset slowly closing in behind the wine leaves, a cheese plater and your loved one next to you and the scenery resembling the Tuscan country side and you have South Australia, the capital of all the great Australian wines. Make sure to visit the most famous vineyards that Barossa has to offer. With more then 150 wineries awaiting you, the wine tasting is just the beginning of this journey. Apart from the great wine tasting, the cuisine is world class and desert just gets better with Barossa chocolates and other delicacies. Make sure to pay a visit to Browse The Farmers' Market for fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods and endless other treats from locally grown on surrounding farms.

The Norther Territory:

Want a little bit more of a spring in your step, then make sure to visit the cascading waterfalls that Australia's Northern Territory has to offer. Jim Jim Falls well know for its more than 650 feet drop, its a sight for you must experience to believe. Most of these waterfalls create refreshing natural swimming pools at the base where you can take a dip. Remember the movie “The Crocodile Dundee”? Want to visit the iconic waterfall from the set? Only one place to visit then and that is the Gunlom Falls.

The Limestone Coast is an excellent place to check out some natural wonders such as a dormant volcano, a sinkhole and some breathtaking limestone caves. Coorong National Park is the ideal place for birdwatchers, with over 80 species calling it their home. The park is well known for its fishing and boating, and an great spot to do a little four-wheeling driving.

Blue Lake

Another amazing site you won't want to miss is the world famous and one of the Wonders of the World is Uluru, located or Ayers Rock, Northern Territory. This sandstone rock formation is a sight to see any time of day, but sunrise and sunset give it the most amazing color-changing effects. This part of Australia has really developed over the last few years, offering both a simple camp out near Uluru with traditional “tucker” and singalong around the campfire, or a more luxurious 5star premium package. Whichever you choose, bring some warm clothes, it gets chill out there no matter the time of the year and day temperature.


Fancy yourself as a bit of a flower expert, or just the decor that this magical flora brings to your home, or think you have a bit of a green thumb, well then  Toowoomba, is a must for you. Located in Queensland’s Southeast, Toowoomba is known as the Australia’s great Garden City. From a relaxing Japanese garden to the scented beauty that is Laurel Bank Park, it is the perfect place to enjoy the flora and fauna of the area. We recommend visiting in September during the Toowoomba Flower Festival where the true magic of this place allows you to plan romantic picnics, head to the museum or theater for an evening of entertainment.

A More Active Australia:

Whether you enjoy the mountains, the beach, or just having a cup of tea at the local cafe, you can find plenty of activities to keep you entertained during you stay in Australia. For the more outgoing and adventure seekers, Australia offers great horseback riding and mountains hick, but with their unique and never ending panoramic views. Perhaps your inner child likes the fun in the sun, well head to Rockingham Bay and book yourself a swim with the dolphins.

Maybe your the more conservative/classical type, well not to worry, Australia makes sure to cater to all your needs. Music lovers get ready to sit back and enjoy an outdoor concert at Hunter Valley, where some of the biggest names in music perform. Although an alternative way to enjoy music’s beauty, being an outdoor theater, it is not one you’ll forget in a hurry. We recommend this for those couples who’s spirits are kindled by romance, peace and just to good old fashioned music. We suggest packing chairs, or perhaps a blanket where you can stretch out (or cuddle up) on the lawn for have a quiet drink and enjoy the music.

Places to Stay

For the ultimate overnight experience, check out Sydney's Taronga Zoo sleepover. Appropriately named The Roar and Snore, this overnight experience provides guests with up close and personal tours and visits with the animals, a buffet dinner, night time safari, and dessert with tea or coffee. Wake up to a continental breakfast to the sounds of elephants trumpeting and lions roaring, as you prepare for more behind the scenes activities, oh yes, and make sure to bring your camera you’ll want to share this with all your friends and family.

Golden Chain Motels located throughout Australia and are the perfect accommodation for those who just want a good nights sleep. Stay in a beachfront motel, relax on a 10 acre vineyard, or soak in the pool on a mountainside, whatever your accommodation needs, Golden Chain Motels have the perfect accommodations for you.

What are you waiting for? Come and visit the Land Down Under for a memorable experience! 


Norway Walking Holiday

walking 2I had just returned from Norway in early December 2013. The weather there was dry cold: minus 10 C and we had been out putting back the cover over the shed roof blown off by the storms of the previous week. Middle of winter can realise minus 30 C.

The UK had got it in the neck as well with a million pounds worth of damage in Scarborough and the tide surge on the east coast flooding places like Whitby all the way down to Boston High Street in Lincolnshire. Denmark, not to be ignored, got the storm as well and it blew out over the North Sea and took itself across the Skagerrak and up into the fjords and the valleys of Southern Norway.

Notodden is 50 miles inland but the open valleys with their lakes, trace their way with their mantle of woodland, an easy hunt for any gale force wind. That mantle of mainly coniferous forest hides a multitude of animals; deer, elk, reindeer, caribou, wild cats and arctic foxes. There had been an attack on sheep on an adjacent farm by lynx the previous week and that had put the huntin’ fraternity on their toes. When walking, tree damage from beaver is common with sizable pine falling across ‘paths’. Well you could call them paths because as you get away from forest roads, there are few of those. Paths are little more than indentations in the undergrowth, formed by animals. You have to pick your way and be very much aware of how the land lies. A map and compass are essentials in the wilder areas.

In a summer past we had taken a picnic up to one of the local lakes. Here you paid a fee to enter private and protected land. Coins in the slot lifted the barrier to let your car through. Norwegian’s seem to look after their facilities. There is little vandalism and road offences; maybe due to zero tolerance to these sorts of crimes. There is some striking graffiti in town; real arty stuff. Like you see from the train as you run into Kings Cross Railway Station in London! The edge of the lake hid an open air shelter quite sizeable but containing all the equipment you would need for a barbeque; even down to brown and red tomato sauce. All the cooking utensils were there, including the cooking oil. You just added your contribution before you left! Picnic benches were also present; well built to last and fall asleep on. Yes, here it was peace and quiet. Surrounded by woodland it was a requirement to ensure the fire was extinguished before you left.

On one of our visits Sue and I had ‘done’ the mountain; Heminigen (1,066 metres) and we covered the Lake Gavlesja next day, at its base, in the back woods of the Lifjell. Later in the week while the girls went shopping I took ‘Toby’ the labrador back up that way to an adjacent mountain Slettlefjell (1,188 metres). I suppose old men like me should not trust fate but there is something enthralling about leaving habitation, the noise of farm vehicles and running water and diving away up into the unknown. You are truly alone there. No trees: just lichen and rocks, the sky and the views! With a total population of less than 5 million in Norway you rarely see people up this high. The sound of birds is left behind. If you are lucky you will hear the sound of the wind but little else to disturb the tarns (small lakes) at a mountain’s highest point.

I remember my daughter Emma describing her lone climb up Mount Fuji, the highest Mountain in Japan at 3,777 metres. Local bus then bullet train from Kyoto took her to the mountain base and then another bus to half way house. Climbing through the evening (with her MP3) and just past midnight she was not alone. She joined the many thousands on the same trek! Arriving at two a.m. she waited until four to see the sunrise; a not to be forgotten experience. A bit like Ben Nevis arriving in the frozen mist with hundreds of others and wondering why the hell we were all up there in the first place!

The views are tremendous from Slettlefjell and Heminigen. You look across country to Gaustatoppen at 1,883 metres, the highest mountain in Telemark and beyond to the snows of the Hardangavidda, one of Norway’s Country Parks: truly a centre for longer journeys on foot. The route up ‘Gausta’ is marked by splashes of red paint. You would never get lost. 30,000 make the pilgrimage each year.

To make things easier the Germans built an internal elevator to the top during the Second World War which is now a tourist attraction. You can see the south coast of Norway and into Sweden from here. About a sixth of the country is laid out before you. There is a toilet at the top but when we arrived on the 2nd June, snow was to the top of the doors. Now that’s what I call a leg crossing exercise!

In the shadow of ‘Gausta’ is the power station which was the subject of a war film ‘The Hero’s of Telemark’. The mystique of this place is well deserved and was the centre for the production of heavy water during the Second World War. Hence the Saboteurs Route that exists up in the mountains that overshadow the town of Rjukan.  Three attempts were made to blow the place up and even the Americans tried to bomb it out of existence. Success was accomplished at the eleventh hour when the train, carrying the heavy water, having been loaded onto the ferry, was sunk in Lake Tinnsja.

Walking in Norway is an exhilarating experience, the air so very clean that lichen hangs in sheets from the trees. Yes, there is plenty of wood with the forests spreading the length of the country. Wood fires burn and heat the majority of houses to a toasty temperature. Just what you need on those mid winter days!

Dave Mitchell.

Yorkshire Landscape Gardens 


Motorway Service Station Charges

mhYn1paI thought you might be interested in something that happened to me last week as it could have cost me £60. I was driving back home from a few days in Devon and was a bit concerned when setting off about a slight knocking coming from the front of the car. The noise got worse to the point of my deciding that I would have to stop at the motorway service station and get the AA to relay me home. I was unsure of what the problem was but I was sure it was serious. Whilst I was phoning the AA my wife walked over to the shop to buy a few things as we anticipated a long wait. 

The AA said they would send somebody to assess the situation but it could take up to 2 hrs as that Friday night they were very busy. Once assessed they would then decide whether or not a relay was necessary and if it was, then there would be another substantial wait. I went over to the shop where I found my wife paying at the till. " it will be around 2hrs before the AA arrive" I said, whereupon the shop assistant said that if I was in the car park for longer than 2 hours I would get an automatic fine of £60 through the post. It appears every car arriving at a service station has its number plate photographed on entry together with the time. She accessed the system and put in my details to ensure I was registered as having broken down and therefore not subject to the waiting restriction.

I did recall having heard about the restricted time you can spend at a motorway service station but had clean forgotten about it. Thinking back there have been a number of times in the last few years when we have taken a break at a service station in the early hours of the morning to get a short sleep before resuming our journey down from Scotland. I can only assume that on each occasion we have spent less than the 2 hours restriction although I am am sure we must have been close.

I am sure many of you will either have forgotten about this if you ever knew in the first place. Few of my friends are aware of it. If you break down then be sure to seek out a member of staff with access to the system to ensure you do not get caught.

United We Stand

ua787During the final days at Denver's old Stapleton airport, a crowded United flight was cancelled. A single agent was rebooking a long line of inconvenienced travelers. Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk. He slapped his ticket down on the counter and said, "I HAVE to be on this flight and it has to be first class."

The agent replied, "I'm sorry, sir. I'll be happy to try to help you, but I've got to help these folks first, and I'm sure we'll be able to work something out."

The passenger was unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that the passengers behind him could hear, "Do you have any idea who I am?" Without hesitating, the gate agent smiled and grabbed her public address microphone.

"May I have your attention please?" she began, her voice bellowing throughout the terminal. "We have a passenger here at the gate WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to the gate."

With the folks behind him in line laughing hysterically, the man glared at the United agent, gritted his teeth and swore, "F**k you." Without flinching, she smiled and said, "I'm sorry, sir, but you'll have to stand in line for that, too."

The man retreated as the people in the terminal applauded loudly. Although the flight was cancelled and people were late, they were no longer angry at United.

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