Friday, December 14, 2012


A guest post by F. John Alcock - My Dad

As you might imagine almost everyone was thrilled with the anticipation of an eclipse, although one young lad was quoted in the local paper as saying that he wouldn’t be getting out of bed for it.

Oh well, the last one here was in 710 AD, and there’s another in 2237 so, you know, they happen a lot in North Queensland, don’t they.

There was a sense of calm excitement along our beach, a friendly crowd of a few thousand waiting at dawn for something good to happen, and not a prince in sight.  It was a slow start, cloudy on the horizon. Nothing to see. An old bloke wandered by with a black cockatoo on his shoulder, a huge bird as long as a man’s arm and able to crack macadamias with its prodigious beak. They were as much photographed as was a very ordinary looking dog with an air of importance about him wearing sun glasses several sizes too big, out with his humans.

And then the sun broke through the clouds.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Got to love a place where you can buy a CryoVac snake at the airport. #HoChiMinhCity #Vietnam #UnexpectedSouvenirs #Travelingram
Everyone I know who has been to Vietnam has loved it.

I mean really, really loved it.

I had spent a heap of time in Asia without ever having set foot in Vietnam until recently. And within moments of stepping out into the technicolour mayhem of a Ho Chi Minh City evening, all I could think was "What's taken me so long?"

A few hours earlier an unforgettable aircraft approach swept around sparkling city towers before falling gently towards canyons of neon whose currents of jiggling scooter headlights flowed determinedly up and down stream.

Monday, July 9, 2012

LONESOME GEORGE - The End of his Line

A couple of weeks ago now the world lost Lonesome George, the last remaining Pinta Island tortoise - a sub-species of giant tortoise endemic to that particular island in the Galápagos.

Image: George on 12th August, 1997 - Darwin Station, Galápagos Islands 

Until a scientist stumbled across George on Pinta in 1972 it was believed that his particular line was extinct. So, on his discovery he was moved to Darwin Station (where I had the great pleasure of meeting him) in Puerto Ayora in the Galápagos Islands to see out his days under science's watchful eye.

Unfortunately attempts to have him mate with a pair of Espanola tortoises (his nearest genetic match) failed and so the end of the line for George was the end of his line.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

DISARM DOORS ON THE RADIO: Talking About Vanuatu

Disarm Doors has had the great fortune to be picked (dobbed in, really...thanks, Kim Wildman) up by ABC North Coast NSW (Australia) as a regular contributor to its weekly "Planes, Passports & Postcards" radio segment with Jo Shoebridge.

I'm really enjoying the audio journeys we're going on. They've brought back a mountain of memories recent and ancient that we scale in bite-sized ascents.

In this episode we take off for Vanuatu, a place I visited a couple of times as a child and had the great pleasure of exploring again recently. If you've got 10 minutes spare, take a listen to the audio HERE, or if you're more of a visual person, just enjoy the pics below.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


There's something about produce markets in foreign places that I find totally irresistible. The smells, colours, the sounds of lively commerce and the insights into what's being pulled out of the local ground and waters are a heady combination and rich story-teller.

I suspect I haven't spotted a market and ignored its wonders in, well, I don't know how long. And if you've tip-toed through a wet market in China, lucked upon a gorgeous weekend growers market in some lovely Italian hamlet, or even just found yourself on a jetty when the local fishing fleet returns from sea, you'll understand the attraction.

Foreign supermarkets also intrigue me. Where I come from supermarkets are for the most part pretty drab. Their products are run-of-the-mill, perfectly nice, all the staples we need and the occasional burst of something colourful. And yet some places...