06 July 2021

Around Australia in 2 months by road and rail – a photographic essay

 It is big. Very big. But gone are the days when you could travel Australia’s backroads for a day and not see another car. Plenty are out there getting to know their “back yard”. And for Ruth and myself, it was time to complete the missing link – the trip down the far West Coast.

So this week, while still in self-quarantine having returned via Sydney’s red zone hotspot – no not King’s Cross as it might have been in those older days, just these more complex times of COVID – a photographic essay from a wonderful trip – with maybe an insight or 2; but first

         Thought for the day

              A meditation practice 

              Deepened in silence 

              Yields an intimacy with oneself, 

              And over time, 

              A greater intimacy with others 

              And with all of life.

                                         Beth Roth

It is the silence that seems to draw me back time after time. 

Once one leaves the cities and towns there is the chance to enter into, engage with the bulk of Australia – its deserts. Here it is the silence that welcomes and holds you; like a tender mother holding a fragile child. You relax into it. It is that easy.

We talk of “letting go” as a point of entry to meditation; Australia’s outback takes you there – almost whether you want to or not. It simply drops you into it. Deep, natural peace. Something that nature provides quite effortlessly. You can simply let go, and drop into it.

So in May we hired a motorhome, 
meandered down the Murray for a few days

And joined 2 dear friends from Sydney in the Flinders Ranges. 

Having shared accommodation on several retreats we were fairly confident, yet 7 weeks on the road together actually proved to be a delight! 

Our friends travel and sleep in a Prado and love it. 

Yes, they slept for 2 months in the back of their car by choice! 

We consider this to be a major yogic accomplishment!

The Flinders Ranges are just superb; one of my favourite places to be in, and one of my favourite places to paint.

Around the corner and up into the desert 

- what a landscape! 

Where the blue sky mind quickly goes beyond being 

just a metaphor...

Then on to Coober Pedy where most live underground as if living out here is not already far enough away from the gaze of others.

And a visit to the rabbit proof fence – or the dog fence depending upon your point of view. 

The longest fence in the world designed to keep dingos away from the Eastern States' sheep

Joyfully we return to Uluru; finally with climbing prohibited .

And yet the sun still lights it up in the evenings 

Next Alice Springs and time with son Peter and his family. 

Exploring the beauty of the McDonnell Ranges water holes... Trephina Gorge...

Another favourite - Simpson's gap.

Maybe this place that is so close to Alice Springs still has as much if not more presence than any other...

Meditation in the Desert was conducted for many years on the Northern side of this extra ordinary place

And Ellery Big Hole 

- a place of reflection outer and inner; 

and again, deep natural peace...

Yet so sad to have direct experience of the difficulties the young aboriginals face, and are creating in this iconic town and others we visited along the way. 

Such a complex issue and not for me to make comment other than to observe there seems in recent times to be a deepening disconnect amongst many young people from their traditions of origin, without anything to fill that cavernous void. This loss of meaning and the stability that comes with a sense of belonging is what the new Centres for Contemplative Studies at the university of Melbourne and Monash will be addressing and hopefully will make a contribution.

Anyway, on to the Devil’s Marbles where touching the rocks is like touching a living being; they feel powerfully alive - like any large animal you might place your hand upon - albeit with a rough, cool skin.

Then the hot springs at Mataranka.

This country is full of paradox 

- hot springs in the middle of a desert :)

Unbelievably clear water...

Next Darwin, daughter Alice and her family. 

Finally the T-shirts come out in response 

to some real warmth 

- and some fun on the water

Then down to Litchfield and a natural spa 

under a magical waterfall.

Katherine Gorge strikes me as a bit underwhelming.

But then the trip across the Kimberly 

with its amazing landscape.

And the Bungle Bungles 

– designed for the accurate use 

of the adjective “awesome”!

Fitzroy Crossing and Hall’s Creek – watch out for rocks thrown from the bushes. 

Happily the one that hit us bounced off with no damage done…

Wyndham, Derby and Dampier

- a glimpse of Australia’s natural wealth 

– as it exits via boat to China and other parts unknown ...

What is Broome without the mandatory 
evening camel tour :)

And travelling North once again, 

more remote, less well known, 

but truly delightful Cape Leveque...

Then on down West and South around the far North West Coast. While the coast itself feels seriously remote and desolate, here we travel through the Pilbara that has great beauty and warrants more time than we have available. So we scamper on to Exmouth and make day trips to the Ningaloo Reef where no photos document a tough but enjoyable day in a kayak :)

Monkey Mia 

Here back in the mid 80s with 4 young children 

and a campervan, 2 holidays were spent camped 

on the beach amidst the freedom to mingle 

with the dolphins that regularly came inshore. 

These days, the connection is far more regulated,

but still wonder full and despite the masses, 

highly recommended.

Last sunset before leaving the motorhome in Perth, 

then resting a few days while catching up with 

the Allvi8 allstars in Perth – Nanne and Cathy

 – before boarding the India-Pacific. 

The landscapes across the Nullabor are amazing, 

the staff trying hard, the food good.

Even some humour along the way – here the remote 

stop at Cook appealing for support for 

its floundering – now floundered – hospital!

Included are some excellent side trips off the train 

including time to visit the same organic market stall 

in Adelaide where I was buying organic veggies 

back in the 70s while recovering from cancer. 

Downside? The train’s ride often is like being in a washing machine. Nothing like the smooth ride of European or Japanese trains and way past a gentle rocking motion.

Brief sojourn in Sydney before COVID flared leading to a hasty retreat home and 14 days self-quarantine – a great way to settle and integrate a fabulous trip. 

We drove 12,000Ks and covered another 4,000 by train. 

What a blessing.

Any message? 

In other circumstance, at least another month could have been easily filled - or a year...

If you think of going, so are many others. We needed to book campsites well ahead and again, unless we planned well ahead, often could not join the tours we might have preferred due to them being fully booked when we arrived.

Avoiding plane travel feels good for the environment and COVID. 

Australia is an endless travel destination – so much to experience…

Travelling in close proximity is great for relationships – both with Ruth and good friends. 

The Australian outback is a natural meditative environment – spacious, both deeply grounding and elevating. There is so much beauty…  And beauty is Truth as Mr Keates would say...


  1. Beautiful Ian. Thank you for this wonderfully essentialised visual and written description of your travels and this extraordinary continent.🌺

  2. Thank you Ian for continuing to share your journey. Beautiful images infused with more beauty by your experiences.

  3. Great to see you both in such fine fettle and really enjoyed reading about such a wonderful tour. I love travelling by camper van and tent so this is wonderful. Be well. Neil (from damp and green Ireland )

  4. Wow, looks awesome Ian and very inspiring to start planning our own long trip with our old caravan we purchased last year. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Thank you Ian, it was like being there with you.

  6. Very uplifting, Ian and Ruth, thanks so much for sharing...an inspiring co-creation. Go well.

  7. Beautiful photos we do live in a special place and to be able to experience and feel the energy and see the beauty is a special thing.

  8. Great to hear your back safely Isn. A wonderful trip it seems from the amazing photos!

  9. We did exactly the some trip recently ( from March to July). We just loved every minute of it. Australia is so, so beautiful. So many spiritual places. ❤️❤️

  10. Loved reading of your adventures and insights. Is on my bucket list to explore those trails with Kev, xx