An ode to Basho

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The onset of spring. Solitude and peace in a Japanese garden. Cherry blossoms waiting patiently for a sensuous rampage. While the magnolias and chaenomeles can no longer wait. They have burst forth like the vanguards of the season. Water – some stagnant, some speeding, lulling, yet not putting one to sleep. Trees – some empty, some flowering, others evergreen as if reflecting the circle of life. So many scurrying thoughts, yet so much peace. Zen. Yes, such were my vagrant thoughts on an empty weekday at the Auburn Japanese Gardens. When I look back and reflect, there were too many […]


A ramble in the rhododendrons

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The last weekend was a damp, cloudy day right in the middle of a chilly winter. Yet I was treated to a dazzling and precocious glimpse of Spring. For I was at the Illawarra Rhododendron Gardens. Not the best of times to visit. Or so I thought. Yet, even in the middle of winter, the floral extravaganza was a pure delight. The gardens comprise largely of undulating temperate rainforest in the shade of Mount Keira. It is only in one corner of the garden, towards its entrance, that you will find shrubberies, well-manicured lawns and a duck pond. But at […]


In Van Diemen’s land: My travels in Tasmania – 5

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Pitstop# 4 Mt. Field National Park About an hour and a half drive from Hobart will take you to the unmissable Mt.Field National Park. It’s Crown jewels – the beautiful Russell Falls is the most photographed of Tasmania’s cataracts and is – in full bloom – arguably the prettiest you can find in the country. It has a long vertiginous drop with multiple breaks, that creates a picturesque series of jumps on the face of the waterfall. But that said, it is best viewed when full (we had gone during a dry autumn spell, so sadly couldn’t see the fall […]


In Van Diemen’s land: My travels in Tasmania – 4

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Pitstop #3: Hobart Our next stop was Hobart – Australia’s second oldest city, second driest city (after Adelaide) and the least populous of the capitals. But all said, with its relatively cooler climate, Hobart is a delightful place – it combines the dainty charm of a small world town with the luxuries, comforts and razzmatazz of a big, lively city, the package complete by being nestled along the picturesque Derwent river. We had booked this fantastic place called the Finnview House up a hill in the suburb of Lindisfarne. It had mesmerising views of the river and the city centre. […]


In Van Diemen’s land: My travels in Tasmania – 3

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If you ever happen to parse through the most picturesque beaches of this sandy-shoreline gifted continent, and chance upon a near perfect semicircular beach holding turquoise waters, blending into indigo, in all probability, you are looking at Wineglass Bay. Aptly named, it is a picture-perfect postcard of a beach, and the single biggest draw of the Freycinet National Park. The taxonomy of places in Australia has always interested me, so when I looked into the origin of names in this part of the island, I was a bit surprised. The Dutch and English had already played a key role in […]


In Van Diemen’s land: My travels in Tasmania – 2

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Pitstop #1: The Bay of Fires Our first stop was the gorgeous white sands of the Bay of Fires in the eastern coast of Tasmania. The appellation goes all the way back to the early age of English exploration, sometime in the 1770s, when Captain Tobias Furneaux spotted Aboriginal fires on the coastline, thereby naming it the Bay of Fires. Another less popular theory is attributed to the fiery, bright orange lichens that colour the rocks on the beaches here, hence the Bay of Fires. While most of Tasmania – and in a way, Australia – is a British legacy, […]


In Van Diemen’s land: My travels in Tasmania – 1

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Introduction The island off the island, Van Dieman’s land – Tasmania, drifting south of Australia, must be one of the most far flung areas on the planet. If you look at the map, you will find few places south to Tasmania (New Zealand being a welcome example). Maybe that ‘far-flungness’ is all in the mind, but when I drove around the island, some of the more pronounced adjectives that came to mind were: secluded, desolate, solitary, remote, and even wild. Tasmania is all that, and even more. Australia’s largest island, Tasmania is geographically more diverse than the mainland – the […]


Saudade, Merimbula

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It started as a rough day – with a punctured tyre, I was stranded. It was the year end, long break, and chances of a tyre replacement looked grim. So there was I, 450 km south of Sydney. In Merimbula. Atop a grassy hill that overlooked lagoon and the town’s famous oyster culture, where row upon row of baskets penned dark lines on the brackish waters of the lagoon. Thus rendered stationary, I had nothing but time. To stare at the boundless skies and cloistered seas. Time and peace settled. And I sat on the grass, breathed in deep gulps […]


In the Heart of the Reef

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From the rust-coated outback to emerald green, Jurassic rain-forests, the wind beaten, primeval canyons to indigo blues of three guardian oceans, Australia’s beauty is abundant yet scarce, raw yet comely, humbling yet humble. And topping that list, the first among equals, is none other than the Great Barrier Reef. Without it, Australiana is never 100% complete. With it, history unites with geography, while a proud past fights against a fragile future. Comprising over 3000 reefs, the largest reef in the world has existed for millions of years, though the present infantile incarnation is ~10,000 years old, existing since the last ice age. Seen from […]


Postcards from Kiama

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About 120 km south of Sydney lies the beautiful coastal town of Kiama. A superfast expressway makes it not only a quick, but scenic drive as well, as you zoom past the shoreline full with expansive Pacific views. Timeless Kiama Like many other coastal havens on this side of the NSW coast, Kiama has its fair share of aboriginal history, overshadowed by two centuries of Caucasian settlement. Yet, unlike other townships, Kiama to me, seemed like a small, quaint jewel box that contained within itself a sense of timeless nostalgia. It is perhaps not hard to imagine that the natural […]