Chris and Sharon Dickson

thedickosgapyear

Chris and Sharon Dickson

A year away from the treadmill...



Africa » Mauritius » Black River » Flic en Flac November 20th 2011

For a small island Mauritius punches well above its weight for two things – long, slow queues at the airport immigration counter and beautiful red Indian Ocean sunsets. Actually, Mauritius no doubt has many other beautiful and worthwhile attractions, but having come to the end of our Africa visit we decided to just enjoy the beach and the pool and leave the rest. If there is a world-renowned shopping mall, or an escalator direct to the Lost City of Atlantis, we apologise and will be back to look at it one day, but for this trip if we were 50 paces from the pool it was too far. The Sofitel, on the west coast of the island near a place rather quaintly named Flic en Flac, takes its French heritage quite seriously, and is populated mostly ... read more
Mauritius Indian Ocean sunset
Mauritius Indian Ocean sunset
Mauritius

Africa » Botswana » North-West » Chobe National Park November 14th 2011

Botswana has 1.8 million people, a diamond mine, the Kalahari Desert, and 270,000 elephants in Chobe National Park alone. To have a look at the National Park we spent three days at Muchenje Safari Lodge. Getting there from Victoria Falls involved an hour drive to the Zimbabwe-Botswana border, queuing in two hot and stale-smelling immigration offices, then a short ride in the back of a safari vehicle to Kasane and from there another hour along the highway through the park to our lodge. The lodge is quite nice but certainly isn’t the height of luxury, and the lack of air conditioning was a bit of a drawback when the temperatures got up to 38 or 40 in the days we were there. Unlike our previous safari experience it is also outside the National Park boundary, so ... read more
Chobe sunset
Croc head
School visit

Africa » Zimbabwe » Victoria Falls November 10th 2011

Actually, the title of this short post should be “The Smoke that Thunders”. The Thunder that Smokes was the situation with our digestive systems after 4 nights (and a total of 32 courses plus snacks) at the fantastic Dulini Lodge. The Smoke that Thunders, or Victoria Falls, as it was renamed by the explorer/missionary/anti-slavery campaigner/all-round do-gooder Dr Livingstone, is an amazing sight on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe. We spent two nights on the Zimbabwe side of the falls, and have been amazed equally by the stunning scenery of the Falls and the amateurish service at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge where we stayed. But the falls first. They are one of the seven natural wonders of the world, although I don’t know who made the list up since it doesn’t even include Bondi ... read more
Zambezi sunset
Zambezi hippo
Victoria Falls

Africa » South Africa » Mpumalanga » Sabi Sands November 7th 2011

We flew from Cape Town to Nelspruit Mpumalanga and drove for two hours to Dulini Lodge in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. We have been lucky enough to have four nights in this rather special place, so instead of the usual combination of ill-informed opinion and schoolboy humour this episode will (rather gloatingly) depict the highlights of a typical day. In Sabi Sands the animals have become used to the open safari vehicles driving around. They regard them as neither a threat nor as prey, so they ignore them. This lets the vehicles drive very close to the wildest animals. Of course, if you climb out of the vehicle you could immediately become a leopard’s luncheon. Safety is taken seriously, and each ranger carries a rifle and is regularly trained in its use. So yesterday, for ... read more
The suicide seat
Our pool
Pancakes - pre-breakfast snack


We thought we were unlucky, having left Sydney an hour late and, after doing the customs queue shuffle for an hour in Johannesburg, we stupidly got ripped off by some guy at the airport “helping” us to catch our onwards flight. We thought we were unlucky, that is, until we found out that Qantas cancelled all flights the following day due to a strike. Then it rained for a day and a half. Then, when we finally got a clear day to visit Table Mountain the cable car was closed due to high winds. Despite all this though we’ve thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Cape Town, which is a very pretty city brimming with history. We have stayed in an apartment in a gated community near the V & A Waterfront. The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront ... read more
South African Fur Seals
Table Mountain
District Six

Oceania » Australia » New South Wales » Armidale September 27th 2011

I love a sunburnt country A land of sweeping plains Of rugged mountain ranges Of drought and flooding rain We took a trip to see it Its secrets to uncover And found it not too shabby But with limited mobile cover We knew our good friends the Roffes were heading towards us on their own inland odyssey and we played phone tag with them for about a week, getting a voicemail every so often but never managing to call them when they were in town somewhere. In fact, we had just about given up hope of seeing a familiar face when we pulled into the car park of the Peterborough Visitors Centre and nearly ran Dave over. We had morning tea with Dave, Clare, Michael and Tim and spent a nice couple of hours in Peterborough. ... read more
Broken Hill - Flying Doctor
Broken Hill - Miners' Memorial
Broken Hill - Bell's Milk Bar

Oceania » Australia » South Australia » Flinders Ranges September 21st 2011

Marree was a big time railway town up to 1980. About 400 kilometres south of Oodnadatta and 685 north of Adelaide, it was firstly a terminus, then an important stop on the Great Northern Railway from Port Augusta to Alice Springs. Then it was a break-of-gauge station when the standard-gauge railway arrived. It was a serious railway and service town. In 1980, though, the railway line was re-routed a few hundred kilometres to the west. When the last train left Marree for Oodnadatta, the locals, desperate to keep the railway going and in a just-slightly-futile protest, kept uncoupling the carriages so the train couldn’t depart. It’s apparently been all downhill since then. Marree now has a pub, a general store and a collection of rusty old Commonwealth Railways locomotives gathered around the remains of the railway ... read more
Coober Pedy - Dirt
William Creek
Flinders Ranges

Oceania » Australia » Northern Territory » Ayers Rock September 14th 2011

We spent our first night in the Northern Territory at the Threeways Roadhouse, at the junction of the Stuart and Barkly Highways, 27 kilometres north of Tennant Creek. We were in a motel unit, with shadecloth for a fly screen, a rattly, loud air conditioner and inoperable reading lights as someone had thoughtfully removed the globes. Moving on to our first real stop, we headed south to Alice Springs, with a stop for a quick look at the Overland Telegraph Station at Barrow Creek and a glance at the Devil’s Marbles. There is a huge amount of popular history in the Northern Territory – what with The Ghan, the Overland Telegraph, John Flynn and of course all the early explorers and well-intentioned missionaries. As we approached Alice we also noticed that the so-called red centre is ... read more
Alice Springs Desert Part
Ormiston Gorge
Kings Canyon

Oceania » Australia » Queensland » Mount Isa September 4th 2011

We’ve had a mixed few days since our last instalment, with some very touristy activities and some food for thought about the struggles and sacrifices to settle these areas in the first place. Longreach is a very nice little town on the Thomson River, now a little bit more prosperous after we visited all its attractions. Some of these attractions are well known – the Qantas Founders Museum, for example with everything from their original hangar to a 747, which, rather sadly, although it was able to land on Longreach’s short airstrip, will never take off again. We thought the museum was quite well done, with lots of interesting exhibits and good audio-visual stuff as well. The focus is on the early days and the two barnstorming WW1 pilots who started the whole thing, rather than ... read more
Longreach - Thomson River
Longreach - Stockman's Hall of Fame
Winton - Waltzing Matilda

Oceania » Australia » Queensland » Carnarvon NP August 28th 2011

Welcome back reader, and thanks for sticking around. Our first instalment for this trip is being penned in the sunshine alongside Carnarvon Creek near the gorge of the same name. The birds are squawking, the kangaroos and the young cattle are eating contentedly and the threatening-looking clouds are staying away in the northwest for the time being. And the beer is cold. That’s enough gloating for now, though. A week ago we drove to Armidale and had Sharon’s mum’s furniture put into storage until she finds somewhere close in town to buy and move into. Then we drove away from the house for the last time, a little sadly it must be said – the house and its setting are very picturesque, not to mention the multitude of memories it houses for all of us. Unfortunately ... read more
Inverell Pioneer Village
St George - Balonne River
Carnarvon Gorge




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