Tag Archives: Coast

365 Places: Fort Cochin

Day 182, Fort Cochin, Kerala, India

Fort Cochin is such a fabulous place, I don’t know where to begin to describe how wonderful this place really is.

There are many layers of history and culture in Fort Cochin, making it a fascinating visual feast in an architectural sense. Elegant 15th Century Portuguese Mansions sit side by side with English Colonial Style buildings and colourful shacks painted many different colours. There are some beautiful churches, mosques and Hindu temples, again, sitting peacefully side by side.

The thing that is most wonderful is the people. Their warmth and good nature melts religious differences, making this community one of diversity and harmony. Many other countries could learn from Kochi people.

Here are a couple of maps that track some journeys around Fort Cochin, with links to my EveryTrail maps.

Cruising Fort Cochin
Cruising Fort Cochin

This is a combination of an autorickshaw ride and walking around Fort Cochin.
Cruising Fort Cochin at EveryTrail
http://www.everytrail.com/iframe2.php?trip_id=3047286&width=400&height=300EveryTrail – Find hiking trails in California and beyond.

Jewtown
Jewtown

This was an autorickshaw ride to the shopping centre of Jewtown.
Journey to Jew Town at EveryTrail
http://www.everytrail.com/iframe2.php?trip_id=3048045&width=400&height=300EveryTrail – Find hiking trails in California and beyond.

Over the next 9 days we will be exploring this fascinating place in some detail, so hope to share lots with you!

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365 Places: Merimbula

Day 178: Merimbula, New South Wales

Merimbula is just one of the many beautiful little towns that dot the south coast of New South Wales. The town is situated on the Merimbula lake and named after the Aboriginal word for ‘two lakes’. Merimbula is primarily a tourist town, renowned for its fresh rock oysters and annual Jazz Festival, which is held on the June Queens’ Birthday Long weekend. We stayed there one weekend a few years ago and it is a place I would love to visit again because of its beautiful beaches.

Image credit: http://www.penguinmews.com.au/
Image credit: http://www.penguinmews.com.au/

Merimbula is close to Bournda National Park, South East Forest National Park and the northern end of Ben Boyd National Parks. For walkers, check out the coastal walk which runs through Bournda National Park from Tathra to Tura Beach just north of Merimbula taking in coastal scenery. Southern Right Whales (less frequent) and Humpback Whales are big feature in the areas.

Images Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merimbula
Images Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merimbula

There are lots of fun things you can do in Merimbula including horse riding and roller coaster rides. I would love to check out Magic Mountain, Merimbula’s own theme park as it has a roller coaster and one of the best toboggan slopes in New South Wales.

365 Places: Mollymook

Day 176: Mollymook, New South Wales, Australia

Image credit: http://www.breakersmollymook.com.au/?/attractions-and-activities/mollymook-beach
Image credit: http://www.breakersmollymook.com.au/?/attractions-and-activities/mollymook-beach

Today’s place is a little gem on the south coast of NSW with a great name – Mollymook. I first remember visiting Mollymook, when I was about 20. Not long after moving to Sydney, I travelled there for a long weekend. I remember it was a wonderful journey: a girlfriend had borrowed her boyfriend’s old VW Combie and we cruised our way down the coast on the old Princes Highway, singing along to Fleetwood Mac on the way.

The Australian Traveller website gives Mollymook a great writeup and also has some clues about how the place got its name:

It’s thought that the name Mollymook is a variation on “mollymawk”, the slang name sailors use for a type of albatross (from the Dutch mallemugge, meaning “foolish gull”.

Image credit: http://www.breakersmollymook.com.au/?/attractions-and-activities/surfing
Image credit: http://www.breakersmollymook.com.au/?/attractions-and-activities/surfing

We stayed overnight with some friends in Ulladulla and then spent the next day at Mollymook beach. I remember thinking at the time, that this beach was very beautiful and great for swimming and bodysurfing. Here is a blurb from the Visit NSW website:

Mollymook Beach is one of the South Coast’s most popular beaches. This golden stretch of sand has ideal conditions for experienced surfers, body surfers and anyone keen to learn how to surf.

Mollymook has more recently become famous as celebrity chef Rick Stein has a restaurant there – Bannisters. This restaurant is famous for fabulous seafood with an incredible ocean view. I haven’t been there yet, but it would be wonderful to experience this place.

365 Places: Kochi

Day 86: Kochi, Kerala, India

Today, I am staying in the region of Kerala to explore the coastal city of Kochi. Although Thiruvananathapuram is formally the capital of Kerala, Kochi is considered the financial capital of region. Kochi has a population of more than 2 million, making it the biggest urban centre in Kerala. It is also one of the major tourist destinations in India.

The Chinese fishing nets at Fort Kochi are an icon of the city, Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Kochi
The Chinese fishing nets at Fort Kochi are an icon of the city, Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Kochi

One of the events I am drawn to is the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, held in December. I am also curious the explore Kochi as one of my good friends loves it so much she spends 4 months a year based in Kochi.

The Biennale sounds like a fabulous event. Here is some information from the website:

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an international exhibition of contemporary art being held in Kochi, Kerala.

The first edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale was set in spaces across Kochi, Muziris and surrounding islands. There were shows in existing galleries and halls, and site-specific installations in public spaces, heritage buildings and disused structures.

Indian and international artists exhibited artworks across a variety of mediums including film, installation, painting, sculpture, new media and performance art.

Through the celebration of contemporary art from around the world, The Kochi-Muziris Biennale seeks to invoke the historic cosmopolitan legacy of the modern metropolis of Kochi, and its mythical predecessor, the ancient port of Muziris.

I love the idea of the engaging the ancient world and culture through contemporary art and emerging media, very appealing. I think it would be an amazing experience to witness the biennale.

St. Francis Church, Kochi, Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Kochi
St. Francis Church, Kochi, Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Kochi

The story of the ancient city of Muziris is also fascinating. Located 30 km from Kochi, Muziris was a prosperous seaport and financial centre in the 1st Century B.C. It is believed the city was washed under the sea during the 1341 AD Periyar river flood. Muziris was a key link in the Indo-Roman Empire and Indo-Greek trade routes and drew legions of Roman, Greek, Chinese, Jewish and Arab traders.

Something else I find really interesting is that Kerala and Kochi are world-famous for the ancient healing art of Ayurveda. This 5000 years old healing tradition is known to heal chronic illnesses naturally. Apparently there are hundreds of government-run and private Ayurvedic hospitals and treatment centres are spread across the state that offer Ayurvedic treatment for almost every health condition. This is also something that I am drawn to as I have had an interest in Ayurveda for many years and would love to learn more about this natural healing tradition.

The more I learn about India the more curious I become, I can’t wait to experience some of these places for myself. I am sure it will be an incredible journey.

365 Places: Kerala

Day 85: Kerala, India

Earlier this year I wrote about Thiruvananathapuram, the capital city of the Kerala region, which is situated near the southern tip of India.

The world famous Kovalam beach, well known for fun and frolic, Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Kerala
The world famous Kovalam beach, well known for fun and frolic, Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Kerala

This region of India is quite different from the majority of India as large parts of Kerala did not come under British Rule; even though it was the place in India where European colonisation first started. The Portuguese were the first to discover a direct sea route between Lisbon and Kozhikode in Kerala, and this marked the beginning of European colonisation in the country. Soon the Dutch, French, Italians and British were all drawn to the wealth of spices and silk, coming with the intention of forming colonies.

Wiki Travel says:

Large parts of Kerala were not subject to direct British rule. Malabar was a district of Madras Presidency under direct British rule, but Tiruvithamkoor (Travancore) and Kochi (Cochin) regions were autonomous kingdoms ruled by Maharajas during the period of the British rule in India, and were known for their progressive attitude which resulted in various welfare reforms, particularly in the areas of education and health care.

I imagine that this part of India might be quite different culturally with the Portuguese influence and history.

The most popular Hill station of Kerala - Munnar, Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Kerala
The most popular Hill station of Kerala – Munnar, Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Kerala

It is said to have a very diverse ecology, with beautiful beaches and rain forests as well as spectacular hills, like in this image of Munnar above. Kerala, is very close to equator and has a tropical climate. Kerala experiences heavy rains almost throughout the year, and is considered one of the wettest areas on the earth.

A typical houseboat floating down the backwaters near Alleppey in Kerala. Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Kerala
A typical houseboat floating down the backwaters near Alleppey in Kerala. Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Kerala

One of the reasons I am attracted to Kerala is the fact that people in this region of India still live a largely traditional lifestyle. I think it would be wonderful to witness a site in India where much of the rich culture and heritage is well-preserved. From what I understand India is a country of great contrasts and many cities are fast becoming contemporary urban centres. It would be refreshing to experience a place where traditional lifestyles are still maintained.

365 Places: Lorne

Day 77: Lorne, Victoria, Australia

Today, I am continuing the journey along the Great Ocean Road, to the very pretty beach town of Lorne.

Image Credit: http://www.visitvictoria.com/Regions/great-ocean-road/Destinations/lorne.aspx
Image Credit: http://www.visitvictoria.com/Regions/great-ocean-road/Destinations/lorne.aspx

Lorne is famous for a couple of things aside from its natural beauty, popularity as a seaside resort, proximity to GOR and Great Otway National Park. It is also home to the Falls Music & Arts Festival which occurs over the New Years long weekend every year, and the Lorne Sculpture Biennial, most recently held in March 2014.

Image Credit: http://www.visitvictoria.com/regions/Great-Ocean-Road/Activities-and-attractions/Nature-and-wildlife/National-parks-and-reserves/Great-Otway-National-Park.aspx
Image Credit: http://www.visitvictoria.com/regions/Great-Ocean-Road/Activities-and-attractions/Nature-and-wildlife/National-parks-and-reserves/Great-Otway-National-Park.aspx

 

The Falls Festival is best known for contemporary music performances, dance, comedy, theatre, circus, cabaret, as well as other art forms. Because the event runs over three days, people bring a tent and camp out at the event. The festival started in 1993, with a small one day concert called the Rock Above The Falls. This initial event attracted nearly 11,000 people, far exceeding the organisers expectations, and the organisers quickly negotiated the use of neighbouring land to accommodate the crowd. Since this humble start, the Falls Festival is now in three locations – Lorne, Byron Bay NSW and Marion Bay in Tasmania.

© All rights reserved by Public Record Office Victoria
© All rights reserved by Public Record Office Victoria

Lorne has long been a place that attracts creative people as well as beach lovers. For example, In 1891, the area was visited by Rudyard Kipling who was inspired to write the poem Flowers, which included the line:

Buy my hot-wood clematis,
Buy a frond of fern,
Gathered where the Erskine leaps
Down the road to Lorne.

Mr Wikipedia says about the area prior to European settlement:

Lorne was part of the traditional lands of the Gadubanud or King Parrot people of the Cape Otway coast according to Ian Clark, although many popular websites report that the area was occupied by the Kolakngat Aborigines.

Given that there is some conflicting information about the pre-European occupation, I am interested to find out more on this subject. The text referred to is listed below as a reference.

We loved seeing Lorne and it is a town definitely worth visiting and exploring as part of the Great Ocean Road journey.

References
Ian D. Clark, pp119-123, Scars on the Landscape. A Register of Massacre sites in Western Victoria 1803-1859, Aboriginal Studies Press, 1995 ISBN 0-85575-281-5

365 Places: Anglesea

Day 75: Anglesea, Victoria, Australia

Image Credit: http://www.angleseabeachfront.com.au/gallery-full.asp
Image Credit: http://www.angleseabeachfront.com.au/gallery-full.asp

Anglesea is another place worth stopping along the Great Ocean Road which is famous for its beautiful surf beaches and coastal lifestyle.

Located close to Torquay and on the banks of the Anglesea River, the Travel Victoria website says about Angelsea:

Anglesea is a particularly significant town on the Great Ocean Road as it marks the first spot south-west of the road’s official start at Torquay where it meets the coast.

Anglesea is a much smaller community to nearly Torquay, with about 2000 people living in the area, compared to about 6500.

Image Credit: http://www.angleseabeachfront.com.au/gallery.asp?offset=24
Angelsea at Dusk, Image Credit: http://www.angleseabeachfront.com.au/gallery.asp?offset=24

Anglesea is also well-known for its parks and gardens which line the coastal foreshore and the Anglesea River. For example, Coogoorah Park at the end of River Reserve Road features a network of islands linked by boardwalks and bridges through wetlands.

Image Credit: http://www.angleseabackpackers.com.au
Image Credit: http://www.angleseabackpackers.com.au

The Travel Victoria website also says:

Around 10 kilometres north-east of Anglesea is Point Addis where rugged sandstone cliffs overlook a marine national park. It’s popular launching place for hang gliders, while steps lead down from the cliff top to the beach which is an ideal surfing spot.

It is no wonder Angelsea is a popular place for  Melburnians to escape for summer holidays. There a number of related posts about this journey – check out Torquay, Kangaroo Island and Great Ocean Road.

365 Places: Torquay

Day 74: Torquay, Victoria, Australia

Today, I return to a journey I started to document earlier – the trip we took across Great Ocean Road (GOR), which included our couple of days in Kangaroo Island.

Dawn at Torquay, Image Credit: © Tracey Benson 2012
Dawn at Torquay, Image Credit: © Tracey Benson 2012

Torquay is considered the gateway of GOR and is located about 20 kilometres south of Geelong. The township faces Bass Strait, so it is a bit chilly to swim in the ocean compared to the warmer waters of SE Queensland and northern NSW, where we usually go swimming. Although the water is cold, Torquay and nearby Bells Beach are famous for their surf beaches and surf culture is a key aspect of Torquay’s identity. Mr Wikipedia says:

Many of the world’s most famous surf companies have their home in Torquay, including Rip Curl and Quiksilver- all of which make up part of the Surf Coast Plaza, which provides shopping and eating, as well as the Surf World Museum.

If surfing is your thing, then the best time to head to Torquay is over Easter to check out the world’s best surfers compete in the mighty Rip Curl Pro.

The Torquay shops are well worth a look, with a number of galleries and interesting boutiques featuring local art and craft. We came across the work of  Ed Sloane and also the Watermarks Gallery had some lovely photographic art works.

Torquay, Image Credit: © Tracey Benson 2012
Torquay, Image Credit: © Tracey Benson 2012

The coastline around this region is beautiful and it is no wonder Torquay became a popular spot for day trippers and picnickers from Melbourne and Geelong. For us, it was a great start to our journey and we hope to return back there some day soon.

365 Places: Kangaroo Island

Day 72: Kangaroo Island, South Australia, Australia

I am writing about Kangaroo Island as it is both a beautiful place and it also reminds me of a wonderful journey we did at the end of 2012, where we travelled along the Great Ocean Road to South Australia. We spent some lovely time with my uncle (and regular contributor) Garry Benson and then headed to Kangaroo Island for a couple of days. We then stopped back to see Garry, catching up with friends and then made our way inland across Victoria. On the way we stayed with some other dear friends for New Years Eve, before heading back to Canberra.

This trip was not only a journey across new landscapes, it for me was also a journey of inner discovery, not just about myself but about learning by sharing time with people I love. Anyway I digress, back to Kangaroo Island. Mr Wikipedia says:

Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island, after Tasmania and Melville Island. It is in the state of South Australia 112 km (70 mi) south-west of Adelaide. Its closest point to the mainland is Snapper Point in Backstair Passage which is 13.5 km (8.4 mi) from the Fleurieu Peninsula.

To get to Kangaroo Island (or KI as it is affectionately known), you catch the SeaLink ferry from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw. SeaLink operates two large, modern vehicle and passenger ferries, SeaLion 2000 and Spirit of Kangaroo Island. The journey takes about 45 minutes for the 16km crossing and there are some great views of both the mainland and KI coast on the way. The ferries are well equipped with a fully licenced café and free wifi.

KI is an incredible place, there are many amazing natural places to see: The Remarkables, Admirals’s Arch and Vivonne Bay are a good start. Seal Bay is also spectacular as you can see up close Australia’s third largest colony of Australian Sea-lions. Also, there is a lot of other wildlife not easily found in other Australian settings any more, for example we saw Koalas, which are sadly becoming a rarer sight.

The Remarkables © Tracey Benson 2012
The Remarkables © Tracey Benson 2012

What is also great about KI is the local produce, there are a number of wineries and KI is also known for its delicious cheese.

One aspect of the history I found intriguing is that the island was deserted by the local people thousands of years ago. The island’s name in the local language means “Island of the Dead”. Mr Wikipedia says:

Known as Karta (“Island of the Dead”) by the mainland Aboriginal tribes, the existence of stone tools and shell middens show that Aboriginal people once lived on Kangaroo Island. It is thought that they occupied it as long ago as 16,000 years before the present, and may have only disappeared from the island as recently as 2000 years ago.

M.H Munroe documents a mainland Aboriginal dreaming story which tells of the Backstairs Passage flooding:

Long ago, Ngurunderi’s two wives ran away from him, and he was forced to follow them. He pursued them and as he did so he crossed Lake Albert and went along the beach to Cape Jervis. When he arrived there he saw his wives wading half-way across the shallow channel which divided Naroongowie from the mainland. He was determined to punish his wives, and angrily ordered the water to rise up and drown them. With a terrific rush the waters roared and the women were carried back towards the mainland. Although they tried frantically to swim against the tidal wave they were powerless to do so and were drowned. (M.H. Munroe, Karta: Island of the Dead – Kangaroo Island http://www.austhrutime.com/karta_island_of_the_dead.htm)

It a story that is cloaked in mystery and one we will never know for sure. I would love to learn more about this history and the people who lived on KI. When you are on the island you get the feeling that it is a place of many stories and of many secrets.

Image Credit: http://www.tourkangarooisland.com.au/regions
American River region, Image Credit: http://www.tourkangarooisland.com.au/regions

We stayed two nights in the American River area, but could have easily have stayed longer in KI and camped on other parts of the island. The township of Kingscote is also well worth a visit, with lots of galleries and cafés, it is well set up for tourism. Kingscote is situated on the shores of Nepean Bay, has lovely views of the harbour and is home to about 1,800 people. I hope one day to travel back to KI as it is a place that inspires and intrigues me.

365 Places: Sites of Connection

Day 71: Everywhere and Nowhere

So far I have posted about 70 different places, about places I have visited and places where I long to go. I have not done so great with my commitment to post every day, and now I feel the need to catch up. But perhaps my posts don’t always need to be about a geographical site, maybe taking a moment to write about the journeys of heart and mind is also worth documenting – after all this is the stuff that makes our lives rich and rewarding.

Image Credit © Martin Drury 2014
Image Credit © Martin Drury 2014

That said, I have thought a lot about the places of experience and the sites of desire. On one level both are the same. Both tell a story about a connection to a person and therefore a connection to many people and ultimately many places. We don’t live our lives in isolation, in fragmented ways, which is one of the challenges of this project.The more I try to separate one place from another, the more these places want to connect in my mind, perhaps as waymarks or perhaps as strange and beautiful designs composed of Venn diagrams, overlapping nodes or line drawings layered over and over, as one traverses geophysical space through the lenses of memory and imagination.

So what are some of these connection points? There are so many – a love of art, culture and history, food, adventure, nature, sustainability and not least the people connections – friendships and sharing special times.

In some future posts, I hope to share some ideas around the interconnected nature of our experience to our environment and sense of place.