Echidna at Freycinet Park, Tasmania

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC spent a couple of days in Freycinet Park, Tasmania. We encountered a couple of echidnas, sometimes called spiny anteaters.

Unlike other famed Australian creatures, echidnas are not marsupials, although they do have a pouch. So, why not a marsupial? Because they lay eggs and put the eggs into the pouch, whereas marsupials give birth to tiny babies which crawl into the pouch. This puts echidnas into a rare order called “monotremes”. The only other creatures in this order are platypuses.

My impressions? Like a small prickly bear with ostrich tendencies.

The book I’m in

Where Song Began, by Tim Low. The fascinating tale of how Australia’s birds took over the world.

Recommended accommodation

Freycinet Lodge in Coles Bay. The cabins are dotted around amongst the trees. Inside is clean and comfortable. Open the doors to step out amidst the trees, birds, wallabies and echidnas.

The photos

Here’s the first echidna we saw. It “hid” when it heard us, by sticking its snout in a bush. After a few minutes it decided we must have gone away, so it came out to play:

The TC, bless her cotton socks, says this has to be the cutest animal ever. This is the second echidna that crossed her path:

Here’s a still photo of one of them:

Echidna in Tasmania

That’s all for today, dudes.

Wine Glass Bay Lookout in Tasmania

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC spent a couple of days in Freycinet Park, Tasmania. We took the half-hour stroll up to Wineglass Bay Lookout.

If you’re fond of birds, take a look at the New Holland Honeyeater the TC filmed at the lookout.

My impressions? The detail is in the trees.

The book I’m in

Catching Fire, part 2 of The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Classy teen science fiction that appeals to adults for its fast pace, clever social commentary and appealing characters.

Travel tip

Take the time to look around as you follow the trail. The walk probably won’t take as long as you think.

Recommended accommodation

Freycinet Lodge in Coles Bay. The cabins are dotted around amongst the trees. Inside is clean and comfortable. Open the doors to step out amidst the trees, birds, wallabies and echidnas.

The photos

Me at Wineglass Bay Lookout:

Wine Glass Bay Lookout in Tasmania

On the TC’s insistence, here’s a picture with Wineglass Bay in focus rather than this worm. (If I had much of a nose, it would be somewhat out of joint):

Wine Glass Bay Lookout in Tasmania

A tree on the trail up to the lookout:

Wine Glass Bay Lookout in Tasmania

Striations in a fallen trunk:

Wine Glass Bay Lookout in Tasmania

Rocks tower over the path:

Wine Glass Bay Lookout in Tasmania

That’s all for today, dudes.

Salamanca Market in Hobart

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC, plus her husband whom this worm fondly dubs the “TC-once-removed”, spent a long weekend in Tasmania last week. We visited the Salamanca Market in Hobart on Saturday morning.

My impressions? Colour, talent, scents, laughter.

The book I’m in

Catching Fire, part 2 of The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Classy teen science fiction that appeals to adults for its fast pace, clever social commentary and appealing characters.

Travel tip

Take a stroll around the streets in the area of the market, to smell the roses and absorb the architectural variety.

Recommended restaurant

This worm was a tad disappointed in the lunch we found near Salamanca Markets. I’d heard Hobart is a gourmet heaven, but the TC’s potato salad was decidedly below par. Enough said on that score.

The photos

Me in Salamanca Place:

Salamanca Market in Hobart

Looking up through Salamanca Market towards Gladstone street:

Salamanca Market in Hobart

A couple of the colourful market stalls, snapped by the TC-once-removed:

Salamanca Market in Hobart

The view from Gladstone street, looking down through the market:

Salamanca Market in Hobart

Nearby the market is Battery Point. It’s one of the longest-settled parts of Hobart, dating back to around 1804:

Battery Point, Hobart

The balcony on this building intrigued the TC-once-removed, because there’s no way of getting onto it:

Hobart

Wrought iron and roses:

Hobart

A rose, just because it is:

A rose in Hobart

That’s all for today, dudes.

Cockatoo Island in Sydney

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC spent yesterday afternoon on Cockatoo Island on the Parramatta River, immediately inland of Sydney harbour. It’s a forlorn place, strewn with gravel and history.

My impressions? Sandstone, sheds and seagulls.

The book I’m in

Gidget, by Frederick Kohner. An engaging tale of a teenage surfer, written 1957. Clever use of language and style to carry along a simple story with tons of atmosphere.

Travel tip

When travelling to Cockatoo Island, take sunscreen and something to tie back your hair. (That is, if you have lots of it, as the TC does.)

The photos

Me on a metal lathe in the industrial area of Cockatoo Island:

Cockatoo Island

Cockatoo Island, as seen on Google Maps:

Image created by Google Static Maps API: https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/staticmap?center=-33.8475896,151.1720669&zoom=16&size=470x352&maptype=satellite

The Aboriginal name for the island is Wareamah. The Aboriginal people of the area used to come to the island to fish.  But there was no fresh water, so they didn’t live there permanently. In 1839 a governor of New South Wales decided the island was an ideal place to house prisoners and put them to work quarrying sandstone and building prison and military barracks and official residences.

The entrance to the island from the ferry wharf:

Cockatoo Island

Walking into the industrial area:

Cockatoo Island

An impressive sandstone cliff on the right as you walk in, which has survived the extensive quarrying:

Cockatoo Island

A view of Sydney Harbour Bridge from the island:

Cockatoo Island

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the island became a major ship-building site, playing a large part in ship construction and repair during World War II. Its use as a dockyard and construction facility for ships and submarines continued until 1992.

Inside a huge ship-building shed on the island:

Cockatoo Island

The magnificent machinery made this worm feel small and insignificant:

Cockatoo Island

More machinery:

Cockatoo Island

A giant crane stands guard over the Parramatta River:

Cockatoo Island

These imposing beam benders are the remains of a hydraulically-powered plate-bending machine from the 1920s, used to bend metal plates up to 9 metres long and one inch thick for ship building:

Cockatoo Island

Below is one of the slipways used to launch ships after construction. Film buffs note: The ark at the top of the slipway was created for and used in the film “Unbroken”, directed by Angelina Jolie and filmed on the island last year:

Cockatoo Island

The solitary confinement cells on the island, opened to visitors only last week, and introduced with great enthusiasm by our charming guide:

Cockatoo Island

Inside the left-most solitary-confinement cell:

Cockatoo Island

A tunnel cut through the sandstone, built in 1912, and used as an air-raid shelter during WWII:

Cockatoo Island

A view through the window of the now roofless military guardhouse:

Cockatoo Island

Below is the prison barracks, built in 1839. The convicts themselves quarried the sandstone and erected the buildings. Our guide told us that each man had a specific style when hewing sandstone. You can still see the marks in the stone used in the buildings on the island. At the end of each day, the overseers could tally each man’s work just by looking at the distinctive cuts in the stone:

Cockatoo Island

Notice the seagull nesting at the bottom of the building in the above photo? Pro tip from a wary worm: You don’t need to worry about cockatoos on the island. They all left when people cut down the trees to make room for the convicts. So now the seagulls reign supreme. Go Jonathan! Be afraid, be very afraid. As our guide said, the chicks are cute but the parents are not.

Cockatoo Island

Inside the barracks:

Cockatoo Island

A window to freedom:

Cockatoo Island

That’s all for today, dudes.

Las Vegas glam, dollars and celebs

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are in Sin City, otherwise known as Las Vegas. It’s a place of parties, winners, and losers, all a-glimmer and a-shimmer under the desert sun of Nevada, USA. The TC tried her hand in Caesar’s Palace Casino and made the grand winning of $93.40. She declared herself well satisfied and left it at that.

My impressions? In the desert did we a pleasure strip decree.

The book I’m in

Rules of Vengeance, by Christopher Reich. Yes, still the same book. Travelling is a time-consuming occupation.

Recommended restaurant

La Salsa Cantina, in the Forum Shops mall on the Las Vegas Strip. Good, simple food served with experience and a smile.

Travel tip

Las Vegas is hot during the day, even in spring time.

The photos

Me on the Las Vegas Strip:

Winning in Las Vegas

“Caverns measureless to man” inside the Forum Shops mall:

Winning in Las Vegas

The grand edifice of Caesar’s Palace, just one of many casinos on the Strip:

Winning in Las Vegas

Inside, pleasure domes…

Winning in Las Vegas

… and miracles of rare device:

Winning in Las Vegas

The gambling halls, where serious money changes hands:

Winning in Las Vegas

Back outside, we encountered stretch limos, palm trees and high fashion:

Winning in Las Vegas

Where else in the world will you find Venice and ancient Rome on the same street?

Winning in Las Vegas

Not everything glitters and gleams in Las Vegas. The view from our hotel window was a bit dreary by day:

Winning in Las Vegas

Add a touch of shadow and some razzle dazzle and it’s pretty by night:

Winning in Las Vegas

Drop in on the Eiffel Tower amidst the palm trees:

Winning in Las Vegas

With a bow to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and courtesy of the Bellagio Hotel:

And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced

A few people heard that yours truly (Mark Wordsworm, Travelling Worm) was in town, and so I was in high demand for photo ops. Johnny was slightly nervous but delighted when I found the time for this shot:

Winning in Las Vegas

That’s all for today, dudes.

Published in: on 26 May 2014 at 10:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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Route 66, Arizona, USA

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Yesterday me and the TC rode part of the historic Route 66 in Arizona, USA. En route from Flagstaff to Las Vegas, we took exit 121 from Interstate 40 and followed Route 66 all the way to Kingman.

My impressions? Tumble weed, tricycles, wide open skies.

The book I’m in

Rules of Vengeance, by Christopher Reich. I haven’t moved much (in the book, that is) since yesterday. Too busy keeping the TC company on her travels.

Travel tip

Take the time to visit the bits of nostalgia positioned along the road for your enjoyment.

The photos

Me on Route 66:

Route 66, Arizona, USA

Our vehicle of choice is a Mustang convertible. A fitting ride for this route. Here it is, with a train passing behind:

Route 66, Arizona, USA

“Kickin it on 66 at Mikes outpost saloon”:

Route 66, Arizona, USA

Sharing the road with tricycles:

Route 66, Arizona, USA

A back yard with a view:

Route 66, Arizona, USA

Me enjoying the ride:

Route 66, Arizona, USA

See y’all later!

Route 66, Arizona, USA

That’s all for today, dudes.

Published in: on 26 May 2014 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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Grand Canyon, cactus, and Arizona skies

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are spending a few days in Arizona, USA. We started in the capital, Phoenix, then drove to the Grand Canyon via Sedona and Flagstaff. The roads are good, the views are grand. Names like “Dead Horse Ranch Road” and “Bloody Basin Road” reminded us that travel wasn’t always as easy as it is now.

My impressions? Open skies, friendly people.

The book I’m in

Rules of Vengeance, by Christopher Reich. Fast action, intrigue, suspense.

Recommended accommodation

Little America Hotel, Flagstaff. Space and comfort.

Recommended restaurant

Diablo Burger in Flagstaff. Good food, friendly service, and a relaxed atmosphere.

Travel tip

Pack layers of clothing for travel in Arizona. The temperature in Phoenix was 40° Centrigrade (over 100° F). In Flagstaff, just two hours’ drive away, it was 18° C (64° F) and dropped to 9° C (48° F) at night.

The photos

Me at the Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA:

Grand Canyon, cactus, and Arizona skies

This worm does confess to a bit of nervousness when my Travelling Companion, the redoubtable TC, propped me in position for the above shot. There was a bit of a drop behind me. The wind was a trifle gusty, and I not so gutsy.

This storm cloud moved in a few minutes later:

Grand Canyon, cactus, and Arizona skies

Two more intrepid souls:

Grand Canyon, cactus, and Arizona skies

Is it possible that this streamlet dug the mighty canyon?

Grand Canyon, cactus, and Arizona skies

This little lady was squirreling around the edges of the canyon, storing food for the babes in her tum:

Arizona skies:

Grand Canyon, cactus, and Arizona skies

Drifting rain:

Grand Canyon, cactus, and Arizona skies

Delicate cactus hues:

Grand Canyon, cactus, and Arizona skies

All shapes and sizes:

Grand Canyon, cactus, and Arizona skies

A tiny ground squirrel living under a cactus:

Grand Canyon, cactus, and Arizona skies

When positioning me in this pose, the TC discovered that prickly pears are aptly named:

Grand Canyon, cactus, and Arizona skies

That’s all for today, dudes.

Published in: on 25 May 2014 at 12:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Bay Bridge in the wet

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

The TC, bless her cotton socks, paid a flying visit to San Francisco yesterday. It was a trifle wet. The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge faded poetically into the drizzle.

Jonathan was there too, of course. Here he is, coming in to land with his usual flair:

Seagull coming in to land, with Bay Bridge in the background

Even a seagull looks bedraggled in the wet:

Bay Bridge in the wet

Google in Mountain View, CA

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are in Mountain View, visiting the main Google campus (often called the Googleplex) and Silicon Valley.

My impressions? Shiny happy people having fun, and working hard.

The book I’m in

Outer Bounds: Fortune’s Rising, by Sara King. This is an excellent book, with varied characters and an intriguing fantasy world. Take it with you on your travels and read it when you want a comfort zone to snuggle into. It’s full of action, goodies, and baddies.

(To be precise, I’m not exactly in this book, because the TC has decided to read it on her Kindle. I’m a real-life, three-dimensional creature, so I don’t fit into an ebook. Nevertheless, occupying a unique place in the TC’s consciousness as I do, I can inform you reliably that this is a book not to be missed.)

Recommended food store

Ava’s Downtown Market & Deli, 340 Castro Street, Mountain View, California.

Recommended chocolate tasting

The Chocolate Garage, 654 Gilman St. Suite G(arage), Palo Alto, California.

Travel tip

It’s useful to have a car when visiting Silicon Valley. The towns are wide spread, and there’s plenty to see.

The photos

Me on a Google bike, on site at Google, Mountain View:

Me on a Google bike

The bikes are dotted around the Google campus. You can tell them by their colours. Googlers pick them up and drop them off on their way from office to office. It takes half an hour to walk from one end of the campus to the other, so the bikes offer an efficient and healthy alternative.

The Google Android building:

Google Android building

You’ll find an appetising array of cupcakes and cookies next to the Android statues:

Google cupcakes

The TC spends much of her time in the training building, which lies behind this restful pond. Note the blue hammocks under the white umbrella, awaiting weary Nooglers as they emerge from the orientation classes:

Pond near training building

Stan the dinosaur, a T-rex that inhabits the Google grounds:

Stan, the Google dinosaur

Downtown Mountain View is pretty, well kept, and well supplied with restaurants:

Castro Street, Mountain View

Another shot of Castro Street, Mountain View:

Castro Street, Mountain View

The Mountain View City Hall is rather magnificent:

City Hall in Mountain View

If you’d like the TC’s perspective on the life and chocolate at Google, try her post: Report from a new Google technical writer.

That’s all for today, dudes.

University of Queensland in Brisbane

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC popped over to Brisbane last week, to check out the two main campuses of the University of Queensland (UQ). My previous post includes moody shots of Ipswich and some fish in a library. Now for the lowdown on the big smoke itself.

My impressions? A university with character, in a city of character, owned by a river full of attitude.

The book I’m in

The Intercept, by Dick Wolf. Fast, believable action.

Recommended accommodation

Manor Apartment Hotel, 289 Queen Street, Brisbane. It’s in the centre of the city. The service is friendly, the rooms are roomy, and the breakfast is excellent.

Travel tip

Take a ferry trip down the river. It’s not always the fastest way of getting from A to B, but it’s a great way of seeing the city and relaxing at the same time. The ferry ride from the Eagle Street Pier to the UQ campus (St Lucia) takes about half an hour.

The photos

Me on a map of Brisbane, on a podium, on the top of Mount Coot-Tha:

Me and a map of Brisbane

The dark squiggly line running across the map is the river.

A view of the city of Brisbane, from the viewing site on Mount Coot-Tha:

Brisbane seen from Mount Coot-Tha

The St Lucia campus is further inland by a couple of bends of the river. In this picture, you can see the wall of the great court that lies in the centre of the UQ’s St Lucia campus. It’s to the right of the patch of river, in front of the four poles rising up from the bridge:

Another view from Mt Coot-Tha

St Stephen’s cathedral, Brissie:

Cathedral of St Stephen in Brisbane

“Brissie”, pronounced “Brizzy”, is the locals’ rather irreverent name for their city.

We took the ferry from the CBD to the university’s St Lucia campus. Here’s the striking Kurilpa Bridge, seen from the ferry:

Kurilpa Bridge

Before depositing you on shores academical, this worm would like to take you on a diversion semiotical. Take a look at the sign below, which this worm spotted on a lavatory door at the end of a queue of women:

Lavatory sign

The women in the queue ignored this door. Instead, with great patience and forbearance, they were waiting in line for a single toilet, which had a sign containing just three pictures: the figure of a woman, a wheelchair, and a baby-changing platform. The patient queue assumed the first toilet (shown above) was for disabled people only, and the second was for everyone. The TC, bless her cotton socks, piped up that she was sure it was OK to use the disabled toilet. Imagine her delighted surprise, and that of everyone else in the queue, to discover six vacant toilets behind the above door, all ready and waiting for “ambulant” people’s use.

So, this worm muses, past experience has conditioned us to expect a special toilet for disabled people and to assume the difficult word “ambulant” is yet another term for “disabled”. And we don’t read.

Here’s another diversion. This worm as vastly amused to see the following sign in the hotel lobby. Shades of Sweeney Todd?

Doors at the end of the hotel lobby

A closer look:

The words on the sign

Moving on from dark humour to the light of academia, this is the outside wall of the magnificent great court at UQ’s St Lucia campus:

Outside the great court

Inside is spacious and restful:

Inside the great court

The detail on the walls:

The inside walls of the great court

One of the grotesques, rather gentler than many of that ilk:

A close view of one of the heads on the wall

That’s all for today, dudes.