9/ Girding Australia

Leg 45 – A change of state

After sleeping for most of the day on the Spirit of Tasmania, Dr Leanda drove from Melbourne towards Adelaide.

Staying near lakes along the way.


South Australia would rather barge through water than build a bridge to get over Lake Alexandrina.


At least Canine Indi enjoyed them – twice – within an hour (Narrung and Wellington). It was the last time she would need to wear her jackets.

Leg 46 – Eyre-ing on the side of caution around giant things

Not stopping in Adelaide, Dr Leanda and Canine Indi flew through Kimba, with its giant galah.


Scuttled through Poochera, past a giant ant.


Flowed on through Ceduna, containing a giant oyster.


To wind up in Penong, with world’s widest windmill.


Indeed, Penong seemed to be farming windmills.


Leg 46 – Null/arbor = no/trees

Signs of Perth were on the horizon.


Trees were not common.


But where there were, there was signs of wildlife (with google-y eyes).


Leg 47 – Cliff notes

The views from the bight did not bite. Dr Leanda prescribes free view points, which are just as beautiful as the paid (below).


Canine Indi enjoyed the free (dog-friendly) ones too.


Dr Leanda likes to provide evidence of her claims, and so these are photos from free viewing points.


Not far from the border, Dr Leanda and Canine Indi camped up…


… and was joined by a feral cat!


Turns out that Canine Indi is not the best cat-tracker.


Leg 48 – Home state

The end of the road for giant things…


… and the beginning of the end of the journey.


It was so hot in Madura that Canine Indi would not leave the air-conditions of Bowser.

Which is just as well because Dr Leanda had a long way to drive.


Dr Leanda took pity on a bird family while staying near Norseman. The next morning the water had dried up, but was over-flowing with bees.


It was so hot, but Canine Indi knew they were on the right track.


Leg 49 – Knocking from the doorstep

Dr Leanda checked in on the trapdoor spiders at her late mentors long-term study site near Tammin.


Many burrows were mud-plugged, indicating brooding females or resting youngsters.


She also checked-in on some trapdoor spiders nearby.


Leg 50 – Home

Feline Chester was beside himself to see Dr Leanda again.


While Canine Indi loved having her pack mates Canine Scrumpy and Canine Jojo beside her again.


8/ Girding Australia

Leg 35 – North to South

Dr Leanda docked, then drove to the other end of Tasmania to a place called Carlton Beach. There, Dr Leanda met her friend Wild Wei, and Canine Indi met Canine Mana.


Canine Mana is a very fast runner, with seemingly boundless energy, and easily out-paced Canine Indi in games of fetch.


Canine Indi and Canine Mana were able to rest and recover in the sun together.


Dr Leanda and Wild Wei dined at Fern Tree Tavern, where fern trees covered the Fern Tree part of the sign…


… before taking a peak at Mt Wellington.


Leg 36 – South to North

Dr Leanda and Canine Indi headed back to the north end of Tasmania in order to attend a bio-blitz at Don Reserve.

IMG_9389.jpgBio-blitzes are organised throughout Australia to collect and record the local lifeforms in a specific area.


In this case, Dr Leanda assisted with recording the spiders and other critters common in leaf litter. A highlight for Dr Leanda was seeing a platypus in the wild for the first time. This particular Bio-blitz recorded 252 species in 30 hours – a very newsworthy event!


Dr Leanda is very grateful to Dr Clare Hawkins, the local council representatives, other volunteers, and attendees for such an excellent experience.

Leg 37 – North

Dr Leanda and Canine Indi had a brilliant view from where Bowser was parked at Leven Canyon.


Walking through the forest was a good place to reflect.

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Canine Indi *loved* it, racing up the many, many stairs without hesitation.


Dr Leanda had to hesitant more often, but luckily there were some encouraging places to sit…


… suggesting one ‘rest up’…


… or ‘take a spell’…


… and letting one know when ‘nearly there’.  Once there, the view was a step above the rest.


Leg 38 – North west

Traveling along the coast, Dr Leanda and Canine Indi passed through Burnie, Wynyard and Smithton…

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… to arrive in Marrawah.

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The 100 km/hr winds at night rocked Bowser like a cradle. Canine Indi slept like a baby, Dr Leanda not so much. Heading south to Arthur River, they found the edge of the world.

And further south, it got more wild in the west.


Leg 40 – Mid west

Heading inland, there was yet more forest.


More tall trees.


Yet more stunning views.


And more walks.

Leg 41 – South west

Continued south along very rocky roads. Barged through Corinna, then Zeehan.


Through Strahan to a different track in Queenstown.


A jolly good ride indeed.


Leg 41 – South

After much traveling, Dr Leanda decided they should rest in Hamilton for a few nights. The locals were very welcoming.

Then back into Hobart. Dr Leanda had some delicious bagels at Bury Me Standing.

Before returning again to Fern Tree Tavern, and walking nearby with Caver Neil.

They successfully scouted for Tasmanian cave spiders. Dr Leanda was very excited.

Leg 42 – South east

Dr Leanda needs to remark upon Remarkable Cave. “The gap in the cave as you looked through resembled the shape of Tasmania” ~ Dr Leanda.

Port Arthur was full of history.

Nubeena full of beauty.


Dr Leanda went on a Tasman Island Cruise.

And saw the highest sea cliffs in the world.


That stretched for kilometers.


Some sea caves.


And sea lions.


After the brilliantly bumpy ride, Dr Leanda saw some more wild(ish)life at the Unzoo with an excellent guide.


Including a delicious looking local goose….

… yummy looking wallaby …


… and tasty looking kangaroo.


But the real treat for Dr Leanda was seeing a Tasmanian devil.


Two, in fact.


Leg 43 – East

Dr Leanda and Canine Indi traveled north up the east coast.

There were some beautiful camping spots.


They could have stayed for months…

… but Dr Leanda had a conference to attend, so traveled on they did.


Leg 44 – North

The Ecological Society of Australia 2019 conference was held in Launceston. Dr Leanda was excited to meet up with some of her ecologist friends from around the country, and catch up on the latest ecology science.


Dr Leanda is a very proud committee member, and got a colourful lanyard to show her pride.

queer mixer 4.jpg

And there was much celebration of diversity at the first ever queer mixer.

The talks were inspiring, with some attendees traveling internationally (right).

Unfortunately, Canine Indi could not join in. Dr Leanda tried to make it up to her with bones, and long morning walks.


At least Canine Indi enjoyed the camping spot that they stayed.

After the conference, Dr Leanda and Canine Indi boarded the ferry and headed back to the mainland.


7/ Girding Australia

Leg 30 – Coasting towards the coast

A brief stopover near a creek allowed Dr Leanda and Canine Indi to see an active wombat burrow, but despite staying up very late and waking up very early, the wombat itself remained unseen.


Dr Leanda drove Bowser further from Canberra through the mountain forest…


… and towards the ocean, but not before stopping off in Bega. Famous for being a brand of cheese, spreads and other delicious treats.


Dr Leanda could not help but visit the famous cheese factory.


Where she learnt how cows were milked from an automation. Crème de la crème of informative machines.


After a lac of self-control, Dr Leanda continued on to the new house of her old PhD supervisor Retiree Grant, and his wife, Retiree Angela.

Leg 31 – Mmm..erimbula

Truly excellent hosts, they took Dr Leanda and Canine Indi for many walks. Along coastal wetlands…


… where many trees were admired.


Along picturesque sandy beaches…

Up coastal cliffs…

… to watch the migrating birds and playful whales …


… while partaking in a delightful picnic!


Indeed, much yummy food was served – putting the MMmmm into Merimbula.

And fond memories made.


Canine Indi was only just getting comfortable before the duo head off once again.


Leg 32 – Ferals in a forest

After such civilised company, Dr Leanda decided a retreat back into wild surroundings would be good. The two were able to enjoy a patch along Nucilla River all to themselves for most of a week.


There were some pollutant people that had evidently visited recently, which was disappointing. Dr Leanda collected as much as she could find in the otherwise undisturbed forest.


Dr Leanda braved some local oysters, saw a lyrebird, and laughed at the frequent ‘plops’ made by fish jumping out of the water.


Some much needed ‘forest bathing‘ was the botanical scrub needed for Dr Leanda’s brain before moving right along.


Leg 33 – Wining at trapdoor spider hunts

A few nights were spent at a free campground near Cann River, where many walks were enjoyed.

Indi over troubled water

Even if it was hard to see Canine Indi in her camouflage.


Some excellent birdlife were also enjoyed.


Then Dr Leanda decided to camp overnight at Wyanga Park Winery.  She had a great yarn with the father of the family business, and was invited to have a look at the silken burrows on the property to see if they were funnel-web spiders. They were actually open-holed trapdoor spiders (Family Nemesiidae), but Dr Leanda still very much enjoyed verifying.

Dr Leanda also highly recommends the wine!

Leg 34 – Vic-torious crossings

Mindful of their impending ferry ride, Dr Leanda made her way towards Melbourne and crossing the Victorian border near the Snowy River region. Some very impressive sights were seen…

… but none more exciting to Dr Leanda than the luxiourous bathtub owned by her relatives that live near Sale; Bee-lovers Kim and Lisa.


After some good clean fun, that involved much chatting, delicious food, and the feeding of a lamb…


… it was onwards to grubby Melbourne. After a few nights in Altona Meadows, with Canine Indi enjoying the dog park and Dr Leanda enjoying the wetlands, they crossed the Bass Strait on Spirit of Tasmania.


Some relaxing beach walks in Carlton, conferences, and more adventures in Tasmania will continue until the next installment.







6/ Girding Australia

Leg 24 – Whales in the New South

As mentioned in the last entry Lennox Head was not particularly dog-friendly…


There was one beach to the north where Canine Indi was allowed to be free of human regulations… but was also exhaustively used by 4wd vehicles.

The local crab population was tyred of the whole affair.


And so, Dr Leanda decided that this was not the best place for a rest – despite seeing many whales frolicking off the coast – and instead decided they should venture slowly southward and find somewhere far more free of human expenses.

Leg 25 – Getting tyred

Dr Leanda thought that heading inland might be less expensive… But many camping places were closed inland due to recent fires or danger of more fires.


Unfortunately, Dr Leanda managed to blow one of Bowser’s tyres while exploring for a campsite that was not closed.


Even more unfortunately, this happened late on a Friday. Rather than risking another tyre over the weekend, Dr Leanda bunkered Bowser down next to Australia’s oldest pine plantation just outside Armidale.

And made a small friend in the outback dunny…

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They made tracks from Armidale on Monday.

Leg 25 – Heading further inland

And after getting some new wheels, they took a peak at Moonbi Lookout.

And enjoyed exploring the bushland.

That only had a few human-related disappointments.

Taking the inland route afforded much more freedom, with many of the showgrounds allowing donations to stay overnight (Freedom Camping Areas). Dr Leanda often spent money on pub meals and tourist souvenirs too. No doubt the in-cent-ive to accommodate nomads. There were some great tourist centres with hard-to-pronouce names, that hadn’t the foggiest idea of how to announce events…


Ancient social communications technology aside, they featured some lovely bones of ancient beings.

And slightly less ancient technologies.


The local golf club provided cheap grub, with a bingo game in full swing in the next room only added to the ambience.


Which allowed Dr Leanda to reflect on how short, but great life has been so far. And to remember to enjoy it while it lasts.


Leg 26 – A scenic retreat and recover

After pulling up at Ponto Falls Reserve, Canine Indi soon pulled out the nail of her dew claw. Dr Leanda tried to help, but it was still too firmly attached. Canine Indi gave her the silent treatment, and was not a happy camper…



Luckily, a small town called Wellington had a local vet that had a more helpful form of treatment. As Canine Indi was still a bit sore and sad, Dr Leanda decided that they should head back and stay at the very scenic campsite a few more days.


There were certainly worse places to be recovering from injury…


Canine Indi was very brave and recovered quickly, and enjoyed just piss-farting around for the next two days.


Dr Leanda enjoyed taking many photos of the local bird life.


More angry looking cattle… (who knows what their beef with Canine Indi was)


And some evening photos.



Before watching the stars by a campfire.


Leg 27 – Across country

With no more claws for concern, Dr Leanda and Canine Indi ventured onwards. Looking for promised platypuses in Wellington, but finding only seven dumped shopping trolleys in the creek.

Had a brief breather in Boree.


Saw some lovely artwork under a bridge in Cowra.


And pulled up at another scenic spot at Tout Park Scenic View Campground.


It dawned on Dr Leanda the next day how beautiful mornings can be.


They left early for Wagga Wagga.


Leg 28 – Wagga Wagga

Dr Leanda stayed with her friend, Postdoc Cameron and his family in Wagga Wagga. It was a lovely stopover that allowed for some much needed washing. Canine Indi enjoyed the sunshine…


… and their freshly mown grass.


Some walks through the botanical gardens too.


It was a lovely visit, and Dr Leanda was extremely grateful for their hospitality. They suggested Jugiong as a nice stopover before Canberra for the long weekend. And so, that is precisely where Dr Leanda and Canine Indi headed.

Canine Indi  shared Dr Leanda’s enormous steak for dinner at the Sir George.


Then on to the Australian Capital Territory.

Leg 29 – ACTing out

The capital has always been capital to Dr Leanda. She has fond memories of winning a pun-competition there once. This time, it has been capital to Canine Indi too. Starting with a dog walk around Lake Ginninderra.

Then to stay with an old friend, Politics Peter.

Canine Indi was such a tart. She redeemed herself by being very well behaved while out for dinner at Capital Brewery. Dr Leanda was a little blurry after celebrating news that her dear friend Phil and new friend Anj were to be engaged – she could not be happier for them both!


Dr Leanda, Politics Peter, and Canine Indi also explored Hall markets…

… and then continued more celebrations with Phil and Anj at a delicious home cooked dinner party. Dr Leanda had the best lasagna she has ever had, delighted in a dangerously easy dessert recipe, sipped award-winning gin, played some tough Jenga and Mario Cart opponents, and marveled at such brilliant hosts. She mentioned more than once that she might just have to move to Canberra soon. Perhaps after her great adventure with Canine Indi, she will return. But for now, their journey continues as they coast back towards the coast.





5/ Girding Australia

Leg 20 – Outback Queensland

After resting at the billabong on the border for a few days, Dr Leanda and Canine Indi ventured forth into the dry, dusty outback. It was… unpleasant. Drought ridden and depressing, the country side was not welcoming to two on an adventure. Many of the townsfolk had a haunted look in their eye, or perhaps it was a weary one towards strangers. Either way, Dr Leanda was happy to pass through towns for the most part. Canine Indi was keen to stay in Bowser at all times, often dashing back after only 100 meters walk.

Mount Isa was the first town they passed (almost straight) through. Not before taking a quick photo of the local member office.


A second billabong was available with donation at Julia Creek, but only for fully contained vehicles. Perhaps to keep it grey-nomads exclusive? Dr Leanda let her greying hair fly free, and managed to talk her way into a place for the night. Canine Indi was still not keen to leave Bowser’s side.


There were a few sights to see along the way. Some cows, for example.


Some truly excellent play equipment.


The pub in which Crocodile Dundee apparently features.


Canine Indi was barred entry. So the two opted to sit outside, as to not bother the crowds busting to get into the popular establishment.


In great need of a warm shower at this point, and to rid her clothes of dust caked seams (unseemly as it sounds), Dr Leanda coughed up a hefty overnight fee for a spot in Tattersalls Hotel caravan park of Winton. The first caravan that had very interesting smelling water for showers and laundry, Dr Leanda was actually unsure if it helped in her quest for cleanliness. She drowned her sorrows at the hotel, and ordered some local cuisine: lambs brain, liver and bacon. It was very yummy.


They explored Winton the next morning, home of Waltzing Matilda…


Spending far too much on Christmas gifts at the museum…

… and (one of) the (many) opal shop(s). Dr Leanda was not sure about the visual pun.

There were also bins made of dinosaur feet. To honour the regions claim to many fossils no doubt.


Leg 21 – Still getting out of the outback

After leaving Winton, Dr Leanda found out in Longreach that the Muttaburra-saurus was probably named after the place it was found… before then she just thought it was a cool name someone had thought up for a dinosaur. She supposes that it is still a cool name someone thought up for a town.


They spotted Bowsers mate.


Somewhat rooted by this point, they stumbled upon the ‘Tree of Knowledge’ where the organisation formed in 1891 there later became The Australian Labour Party.


Canine Indi liked the art installation featuring a dog.


Even though it apparently had nothing to do with dogs.


The next camping spot was very nice and secluded, despite being near the dead centre of the town (just on the other side of the cemetery for those who do not know that *classic* of a joke). Canine Indi was still not keen to go for walks.

But Dr Leanda found some friendly horses.IMG-8592.JPG

And had a healthy meal of kanga bangas with salad drowning mayo (the only palatable way to ingest salad really), next to the last fire she would light for some time…


Even though there was some excellent looking firewood just on the other side of the fence the very next night. Bit mean to have it on private property just behind a barbed wire fence next to a showground/camping ground. IMG-8639

They stopped in at Blackall, which is apparently where the expression ‘beyond the black stump’ was derived from. But who knows? It is beyond Canine Indi, and had Dr Leanda stumped.

But Blackall dose host a lovely, anatomically correct ram…

Leg 22 – Civilization on the horizon

Two nights were had at a river camping spot just outside of Brisbane.


Canine Indi was gobsmacked by the beauty.


Flies were very friendly, despite the 80 km winds blowing. A possums was friendly too, and even though they went unseen in the night, they were nice enough to leave little presents on top of Bowser for Dr Leanda to find.


Preparing for the civility of Brisbane, and in light of the presents, Dr Leanda treated Bowser to a clean. Which means that as much outback dust as humanly possible was removed. There was a lot, and Dr Leanda wondered if she had developed dust-coloured (or covered?) glasses having not seen the thin film over the entire interior of Bowser before her thorough clean… either way Bowser was ready for Brisbane the next day. And had a gleam in her eye.


Through a small mix up, Dr Leanda ended up at a holiday house on North Stradbroke Island to meet Spider expert Robert Whyte, but he was not there when they arrived. Luckily, Bird-lover Maya had accompanied Dr Leanda and Canine across the channel, so they enjoyed the very large house for the night. Bowser enjoyed the night-off.

Dr Leanda stayed a few more nights in a small rest stop on the outskirts of Brisbane called Hugh Muntz park. Then moved on to Surfers Paradise. Having had her fill of city-life in a campervan though, Dr Leanda took Canine Indi for a quick walk through the canals…

had the Guinness burger at the Hard Rock Cafe… (only the aftermath photo available)

and crossed the QLD-NSW border! If she had blinked, then she probably would have missed the sign on the freeway southbound. A photo off the internet:


Leg 23 – Now in NSW

She camped overnight a bit further down the coast to watch the sun go down with Canine Indi.


Fingal Head was stunningly beautiful, and Dr Leanda was glad she pulled over if only because she was too tired to keep driving.


Unfortunately, a very fat and disobedient husky attacked Canine Indi and had nicked her ear at the off-lead dog area at Dreamtime Beach.


There was a lot of blood, but Vet Nurse Liina – who they met shortly afterwards on their way back to Bowser – assured Dr Leanda that it was nothing serious. Vet Nurse Liina offered Dr Leanda a drink (which turned into a few), and they got into chatting about all kinds of things. Mostly dogs though. In fact, they found out each others dogs names before sharing their own. Such priorities matter in new friendships. Canine Indi calmed down very quickly after her traumatic event, thanks to Vet Nurse Liina, Canine Tinkerbell, Canine Alan, and Jack-of-all-trades Dan (who joined them for beers after his fishing). Dr Leanda was pleased to meet such a lovely family, and hopes they visit Perth once they complete transforming their camper-bus.


Dr Leanda decided to take their suggestion of the local fish and chip shop for dinner, and enjoyed it with Canine Indi while an illuminating and thunderous storm passed over.


After staying another night a bit further up the same penisula, Dr Leanda and Canine Indi had a nice walk before heading southbound on the freeway again.


Dr Leanda pulled over at Castle Macadamia, more out of curiosity than anything. Then spent too much on macadamias…




… and pancakes (which she shared with Canine Indi).


Feeling the need to slow down, Dr Leanda booked them in for a week at Lennox Head, thinking it would be very dog friendly. It is not really, and very expensive after so much free camping, but too late! At least it has lots of amusing brush-turkeys being turkeys.



And they can relax for a bit until the adventure continues.





4/ Girding Australia

Dr Leanda and Canine Indi quickly discovered that the wild north, is well… wild. Despite buffel grass being the dominant plant species, there are still many patches of native bush stuffed to the brim (of yer cowboy hat) with wildlife. Also, that some experiences are greatly enhanced by company.

Leg 16 – DarWIN

Darwin is a hot, and humid city that Dr Leanda loved for the friendliness of the locals. Very relaxed and easy-going was the general vibe, perhaps because it is too hot and muggy to rush.

Dr Leanda – complete with all-over-her-body sunburn – dashed to picked up her friend Lichen-lover Lee Ping from the Darwin airport in the middle of the night. The two had met two years ago, in the wild rainforests of Borneo during a scientific expedition where Dr Leanda searched for trapdoor spiders, and Lichen-lover Lee Ping searched for lichen. The expedition was as insanely awesome as it sounds, with the two taking a lichen to each other, remaining friends ever since. However, Lichen-lover Lee Ping was not staying in Darwin long, and so the two tried to see as much as possible by going to a crocodile park.

There were many crocodiles.

As well as some other charismatic creatures…

Even a very pretty kingfisher, the photo of which is a great candidate for ‘Crap bird photography’.


Dr Leanda was less than impressed when one such creature decided to relieve itself on her hands…


They also indulged in some very Aussie tucker – crocodile kebab sticks and kangaroo snags.



Then they visited the famous Mindil Beach Markets, where many peculiar treasures were found.

Canine Indi was unimpressed by being left out of the fun all day, so Dr Leanda took her for a very long walk along the beach that evening.

They also found hermit crabs. One of them had lost a shell…


Luckily the duo were able to find some new real estate easily enough.


Very, very early the next morning, Dr Leanda and Canine Indi said farewell to Lichen-lover Lee Ping. And then had a big sleep in to try recover from all the lost sleep.

Leg 17/ Still DarWINNING

Dr Leanda and Canine Indi visited a fish and chip shop called Frying Nemo that evening. The Barra burger was exceptional, and the icy cold beer a real treat. They slept well at the marina that night.


While in Darwin, Dr Leanda was curious to meet the famous Arachnovangelist Caitlin she had corresponded with via Twitter. Keen to see all the spider specimens Arachnovangelist Caitlin had collected, they organised to meet. Perhaps sharing a love of spiders made them fast friends. Dr Leanda particularly loved all the live St Andrew Cross spiders that shared Arachnovangelist Caitlin’s apartment in large webs on structures built especially for them. How altruistic! Seeing Dr Leanda’s enthusiasm, Arachnovangelist Caitlin arranged for a night-time tour of East Point. They saw many interesting critters, but few were photogenic.


Unfortunately, Canine Indi was not allowed into the area (despite horses seemingly encouraged?!), so Dr Leanda made it up to her the next day with another beach walk featuring even more hermit crabs.


The next day Dr Leanda visted the museum at which Arachnovangelist Caitlin worked – the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. It was one of the best museums Dr Leanda has ever visited. The resident taxidermists obviously knew how to do their stuff(ing)!

Dr Leanda even got a special behind-the-scenes look at their trapdoor spider collection.


She felt very special.


Leg 18/ Termite country

After a few minor repairs on Bowser, Dr Leanda and Canine Indi were on the road again, heading down towards Tennant Creek and then east towards Mt Isa in Queensland.


There were many termites.

Many, many termites.


But Dr Leanda also found a trapdoor spider colony, and dug up a specimen to send to Arachnovangelist Caitlin.

Although there were not many places to stop, the friendly people made the journey much more enjoyable. There were some real characters on the road… Motorcyclists Barry was kind enough to pose for a photo next to his Harley Davidson. The Centrelink bumper sticker is one Dr Leanda found highly amusing.


Around a campfire Dr Leanda learnt from Ex-trucker John that Canine Indi should get a tick wash before going to Queensland, some good spots to visit, and that she should *never ever* sell Bowser because she will regret it. Ex-trucker John also suggested some wider tyres to help avoid getting bogged (again).

Around a different campfire, Dr Leanda and Canine Indi met Kiwis Pat and Peter. Dr Leanda very much wants to visit Coober Pedi after talking to them about the underground movements in which they took apart. They were very interested in the local trapdoor spiders… Dr Leanda had a top end laugh.


Dr Leanda and Canine Indi moved rather quickly through the very remote region of Australia, noting the vast wild landscapes often giving way to sad monocultures of buffel grass. Low-lying invasive vegetation such as buffel grass provides little shade or wind-breaking allowed for extreme heat and dangerous headwinds.


After crossing the border though, a small paradise in the form of a billabong appeared. It was here that they settled in for an extra night to recover, and enjoy watching the native wildlife drinking their fill at the desert oasis.

Dr Leanda had fun playing with a swish camera and taking out-of-focus photos of birds.

Canine Indi enjoyed the smells.


More adventures on the horizon soon.


3/ Girding Australia

Leg 8: A fiery rant, followed by Sandfire

Dr Leanda has been disappointed at the prolific number of introduced species she has encountered on her travels thus far. Tallies for goats, cattle, cats and foxes far exceed that of native species… but far be it for Dr Leanda to focus just on the cute and fluffy animals. Buffel grass muffles the otherwise majestic landscape of the Pilbara. Attitudes vary heavily based on whether one is sitting in the pastoral side, or the conservation reserved side of the barbed wire fence. Dr Leanda hates all invasive weeds with fiery passion, as it tends to anguish and/or extinguish her trapdoor spider compatriots.

ANYWAY, Sandfire was a good place to stop – cheap and easy. The roadhouse hosted a mango tree orchard that hosted screeching flying foxes that hosted much guano (A video that fully captures their screeching may be uploaded in the future).

Canine Indi cannot usually jump onto the bed herself, but was highly successful just after recovering a large amount of guano on the ground and transferring it to herself. What an achievement.

To be fair, it could have been peacock poop too. They were proudly strutting their stuff, while begging for food stuffs.


Certainly was not camel poop. Though, they were around. On the pastoral side of the fence.


Canine Indi was too tired to drive after being thoroughly washed and dried, and fell asleep at the wheel.


Leg 9: Left little Broome to be bogged

A very scary thing happened to Dr Leanda when she entered Broome. She realised she had no internet AND no phone reception. Telstra was down in all of the Kimberley according the petrol station lady. The horror.

So she went and did some washing and took Canine Indi for a quick walk.


Dr Leanda wanted to attend the Thursday night markets, but since Canine Indi was not allowed to come, they decided to push on to Willie Creek Pearl Farm.

Now, this place was recommended to Dr Leanda, but it was a highly regrettable decision.

Not to get too bogged down in the details just yet, but as it turns out, Dr Leanda’s beloved Bowser despises even the most shallow of loose sand… Or loves it so much she drowns herself in it?

Knowing this, Dr Leanda was ever so careful on the 35 minute drive down corregated road. Upon arrival, while looking for a place to set up, they got stuck for two nights.


Dr Leanda decided to settle in for a bit.


After a whole day of digging, on the second night, after managing to mangle a hose to one of Bowser’s water tanks with the jack, she decided to seek help the next morning.


Luckily, it was a pleasant morning walk to the closest 4wd. With many other tracks along the track. How meta.

And a sunrise.


A lovely couple freed Bowser within 5 minutes.


Dr Leanda learnt that asking for help early, may save much stress, time and effort in future.

Leg 10: Walla-by for dinner tonight?

Fitzroy Crossing Lodge was a truly lovely place to stay. Reception. Internet. Many people with 4wds around. Lots of water. Toilets. Showers. A bar. Wallabies. No sandy patches (Dr Leanda may have been a little scarred by the bogging).

Canine Indi moved on pretty quick after spotting a wallaby.


There was a stand off.


Dinner was fish and chips + ice cold beer from the tap… and the taste of freedom.

Leg 11:

Back on the road again, fully revived. Dr Leanda and Canine Indi were in high spirits.

Dr Leanda especially loved all the termite mounds.


They met a 82 year old cyclist called Paul Davenport. Cyclist Paul has cycled around Budapest, Africa, New Zealand and is now doing Australia.


And took in the (other) ancient scenery.

Then they stayed the night near Ord River. No ord-inary river perhaps. They explored.


Shortly after em-bark-ing, Dr Leanda found some former insect enclosures.


There were many cool rocks in laying in bed.

Indi found a rock that blocked what probably used to be the road across the river.


Along the road they traveled, until… a cane(d) toad!


After much morbid fascination, they traveled back to Bowser with the ghost current.


Leg 12: Some gorge-ous scenery

Getting an early start, for a truly long haul of driving, through Kununurra…


While re-fueling, Dr Leanda found herself agreeing with some postcards…


But not others…


Then over the border.


Canine Indi suggested to Dr Leanda that they pull over at a scenic spot for lunch.


Thinking that she must be hallucinating to hear Canine Indi speak, Dr Leanda quickly agreed.


The spot for lunch was at Judbarra/Gregory National Park. Later that night, Grey Nomad Doris told Dr Leanda later that the native tree in the foreground can be harvested for cotton and her grandmother used to make pillows from it.


Dr Leanda had zero reception that night, but received the starry night very well indeed.

Leg 13: Choose campsites wisely

After a long drive, with little rest, Dr Leanda stayed at a caravan park near Katherine the next night. In between two young families, and a visiting school group. She missed the grey nomads immensely.

Leg 14: The ter-mighty

Luckily, the next day was filled with awesome termite mounds. Dr Leanda’s mood immediately improved.


Which seemed to have formed by slowly eating the trees.


Canine Indi did not approve of the ones dressed like humans.


Leg 15: Dr Leanda reveals all too much about herself

Some may not know this about Dr Leanda, but she has a distinct dislike of tan lines. As such, she often forgoes clothing when catching rays. After a distinctly terrible caravan park experience the night before, Dr Leanda decided to see if a nudist retreat would be any better. Plus they had free laundry facilities, ironically enough.

It was so much better. Socialising was encouraged, with darts every night, pool aerobics every morning and frequent pub outings.

All other caravan park experiences paled by comparison. Dr Leanda also paled by comparison amongst the nudists. She tried to fix this, but got burnt from too much sun during pool aerobics.

She can reveal that there was green ant nest was near her camp site.


But the site itself was somewhere secret, that cannot be revealed.


2/ Girding Australia

Dr Leanda is mindful of mindless scrolling through previous posts, so with this in mind, she has mindfully started a separate thread. Dr Leanda feels like she has already lost her mind, and is perhaps writing ‘mind’ overly much to try find some piece of mind.

Leg 2 – Blue seas and trees

Sandy Cape evoked strong feelings of nostalgia, but northward Canine Indi and Dr Leanda trekked to make new memories. There were a few brilliant sights along the way, and a big favourite was the large crayfish guarding Dongara – any invertebrate statues would likely catch Dr Leanda’s eye stalks.

Crayfish dongara

Mind was blown away by leaning trees, and someone intentionally blue it.

blue trees

They were painted blue to hightlight blue days apparently – which is excellent, but also excellent that writer of an article reporting this did not shy away from puns.

Dr Leanda had never visited Geraldton before, and was looking forward to seeing a place she had heard so much about… however after seeing a ‘God will save your soul’ banner near the entrance to the town… and then another four Christian crosses before reaching a petrol station, she nearly drove right on through. While respectful and accepting of others beliefs, Dr Leanda also has a slight aversion to Christianity due to a misspent youth at a religious school. *Queerly* they put her on the ‘right’ track.

At any rate, Dr Leanda repented – being aware of her own biases and discrimination – and stayed at Sunset Beach.


Sunset beach was lovely, and Canine Indi was particularly glad they disem-barked.


Leg 3 – Strolling among stromatolites

The next stop was Hamlin Station and what are essentially living fossils. These sound scarier and more menacing that they actually are, but Dr Leanda nerded out because she is a scientist. She was also so excited that she forgot to bring her camera, and her phone died. So below is an image by Lochman Transparencies, that can be found on the website by Bush Heritage that explain why stromatolites are so cool (Dr Leanda met the stromatolite expert mentioned in the article, and was thrilled to meet someone more nerdy than herself).



Dr Leanda undrstands if you do not nerd out about stromatolites, Canine Indi did not understand what all the fuss was about either, and probably would have preferred to stay in bed.



To feel more accepted in her nerdy ways, Dr Leanda decided to attend the science fair organised by Bush Heritage at Hamlin Station Stay. The fair opened with a welcome to country, and interspersed were talks related to aboriginal heritage. Dr Leanda even learnt some Malgana words for the local critters, but regrets not asking if there was a word for spider. There were many different nerdy (western) science talks to enjoy, and she learnt much about the local seagrasses, sandalwood projects and other conservation initiatives – including a catchy tune about Dirk Hartog Island (Wirruwana). Above is an absurdly brief recount, but Richard McLennan, a Bush Heritage employee, PhD student (an excellent retirement venture if you ask me!), and all-round top Aussie bushie, said it best in his blog.


Leg 4 – A brief stopover

Dr Leanda had high hopes of reaching Carnarvon on the evening of the science fair. However, she responsibly pulled over and slept somewhere on the side of the road. It was not a good sleep mind, as what could have only been a goat kept her awake until she realised it was, in fact, a goat. She was more scared it was a human. Funny world we live in where we are more scared of our own species… anyway not all was lost (though much sleep certainly was), as she took a nice piccy of a nest. At some point she plans to crop it and photoshop to make it look even nicer.




Leg 5 – Car? nar, van

So far so good driving in Bowser – she was particularly protective of occupants from goats, or so Dr Leanda herd. But because of her bulk, she cannot squeeze through drive-ins. Having had a craving for a hot chook since Geraldton, Dr Leanda decided to Chicken Treat herself and Canine Indi. They did, after all, a great deal of time just walking around Carnarvan taking in the sights. Including The famous Dish (not Dr Leanda’s photo).


Dr Leanda’s favourite part was an art installation in the middle of the main strip, that was an iron silhouette of a man drinking a beer. At least, she assumed it was a beer and not something less manly… otherwise he might’ve been *cast* out. Dr Leanda somewhat Fe-verishly made many more puns on the subject, but deleted them, being ever so mine-ful of her audience.

Being quite attached to sleeping in fully-equipped Bowser and not having to pay dues, Dr Leanda camped the night at Yalabia Rest Area. Nestled in amongst the grey nomads, no goats bothered her and Canine Indi that night – they even got some nice photos of the dry river bed before sleeping off all that hot chook!


Very dry.


Leg 6 – A very muddy dog

Canine Indi is always true to her nature. No sooner had the pair stopped for lunch at a rest area near a nice looking river, that Dr Leanda realised her mistake. It was hot, Canine Indi was a dog, and there was an inviting water body to cool off in nearby. She sighed deeply, knowing the inevitable, and got changed into an old pair of shorts.

Shore enough.


They continued to explore.


There were some flying insects. A parasitic wasp with spider prey in tow was videoed, but not (yet) uploaded. Dragonflies were mating on the fly too. They found one taking a breather.


Then they found some interesting structures underneath a rocky overhang.


‘Bird nests!’ Dr Leanda informed Canine Indi with great authority. But, she was not at all certain what kind, and actually had little authority on the subject. Canine Indi was not listening anyway. She was too busy getting even muddier.


Luckily, they were staying at Peedamulla Camp that night where Canine Indi had a hot, soapy shower. She didn’t want to come out of the freshly cleaned Bowser after that either…

Leg 7 – Yule love it ‘ere

Yule River was an excellent place to camp. Dr Leanda loved it because she could almost fully embrace her inner hermit… unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), she could not do so as grey nomads were beyond eye-sight but still too close to feel completely alone in the wild.


Canine Indi loved it because there was much walking and sniffing of interesting smells.


Perhaps all the animal tracks?


There were many birds. Dr Leanda tried to take photos, but blurry feather balls were the results.

The sunsets were nice though.

And just landscape generally.



Yule love the next installment for sure!





Girding Australia


Brace yourself readers, Dr Leanda is attempting to ‘blog’. To clarify any younger audiences, a ‘blog’ is usually a series of ramblings about the author, their interests or areas of expertise. In Dr Leanda’s case, she is documenting a trip she is taking around the edges of Australia.

Her trip arose for multiple reasons, but has been in the planning since late 2018. After buying a converted Mercedes Sprinter – of whom she has lovingly dubbed “Bowser” as the enormous size reminds her of slowly barging bulkly through traffic in MarioKart 64 – Dr Leanda spent about four months readying Bowser for a trip around Australia. She is pretty luxurious.


Dr Leanda is not traveling the red/yellow/brown/white dirt tracks alone though!

and your little dog






Indiana Jones (aka Indi) is coming with her.


Her cat Chester (aka Jabba) was meant to come as well, but threw up on her pillow a few days prior to disembarking, and so, it was decided he be left in the care of others who will clean up his spew until she returns. He does not mind being left behind.


Indi, on the other paw, will have quite a ball on the road. Especially when she is bought a ball, and there are roads present.

Leg 1

After a somewhat late departure from Perth, Dr Leanda legged it to her childhood holiday haunt Sandy Cape. Her father, Mr Mason, also accompanied her on this first leg.

There was much reminiscing on family memories. A plaque was planted in 2014 at the site of the family shack to commemorate.


Walking dogs along the beaches was a lot of time well spent. Indi and Evie (Mr Mason’s dog) are old friends.


They both learnt to sing from Dr Mason’s first dog Fitz. A much more refined form of communicating as opposed to barking. He was an excellent pooch too; very gentle, loving, and friendly to all. Dr Mason loved him very dearly, and spread his ashes at what she thought might be his favourite beach.


A sea-hare was found washed up on the shore. Dr Leanda tried to play doctor by putting it into a red bucket of sea water. The sea-hare seemed to be alive, and was released when the tide was going out. Only after much observation…


Losing fishing sinkers to seasweed, then using rocks for sinkers. No photos available (because phones and stinky fish-hands do not mix well… ). In the wild hopes of nabbing a whiting fish, worms were dug for in the thick, stinking seaweed. Worms were obtained, but not whiting.


Winning at scrabble, sipping whiskey near a fire on a ledge overlooking the bay, while the sun goes down was a good way to end the first leg.



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