Yak on Track: Bhutan Memories

Confined to couch with a nasty bout of Laryngitis, I recently read Yak on Track by Heather Mc Niece, who, with a very fit friend, did Bhutan’s Snowman trek, one of the hardest treks in the Himalayas, with fourteen high altitude passes, spectacular scenery and ever changing weather conditions.

Collecting funghi in the forest

The book was an easy read that bought back memories of my own trip to Bhutan in 2006. As part of our cultural tour, four of us did a three day hike in the hills. I loved the experience and was more than happy to leave the trekking to fitter, younger travellers. Even though one of our party was an experienced mountain trekker, he fell in with the pace of his less fit companions on this particular Himalayan trip.

Lunch stop in a flower meadow after crossing the pass
Father and child bring hand weaving and baskets to sell

Photo Friday – hiking in Morocco

Because I am not a professional photographer, the photos I take are not always the best shots technically. I snapped these hiking boots at a trekking lodge in the Azzaden Valley in the Atlas Mountains, without stopping to focus or compose the shot. Our the guide was ready to set off for the day so I needed to remove my walking shoes from the line-up and lace them up post haste!

The colours of Morocco; the rich warm purple-brown door, the soft apricot orange of the painted stucco mud walls, the lighter orange courtyard tiles in a traditional simple pattern with smaller tiles that introduced a hint of green. An effortless complimentary colour scheme that would do any highly paid designer proud.

Is it my favourite photo? That is a pointless question as I have so many that I absolutely love for all sorts of reasons. Travel shots feature heavily in the favourites stakes because I use my camera most when travelling. Travel photos are visual memories – of people, places and special moments – memories that can be re-lived.

It doesn’t matter to me that the photo is slightly out of focus, or that I used on a relatively cheap ‘point and click’ Sony camera rather than a DSLR Nikon. The photo tells a story of the moment. That’s why it is among my favourites. And there’s absolutely no pressure to make it anything more than what it is.

Road Train through Mt Surprise

A road train passing the tin man sculpture announcing the settlement of Mt Surprise on the Gregory Highway, Queensland

Mount Surprise is a tiny settlement (169 residents according to the 2016 Census but probably fewer in 2020 when I visited) located on the Gulf Development Road. There is a pub, (built circa 1910 and for sale when I passed through), a couple of cafes, a caravan park, a service station, school and a gem shop.)

The railway station, which sits in a lush green park in great contrast to its red dusty rocky surroundings, there is an interesting historical display. Beyond the town lie the Undara Lava Tubes, Cobbold Gorge and the gem fossicking area at O’Brien’s Creek.

Mount Surprise is located 1,710 km north-west of Brisbane via the Gregory Highway, 319 km south-west of Cairns It is 453 m above sea-level. With nothing but a small hill close by, the town’s name is a misnomer.