Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield packs his swag and sets off on a journey through another week in travel
I’ve yet to be persuaded by the whole “tiny stay” movement. Most of them just look like fancy dongas on a deck in a paddock to me. Give them a clicky name and an outdoor bath and you’re home and hosed, so to speak.
But Into The Wild Escapes has opened its first off-grid, sustainable tiny home in Western Australia. For up to four guests, there is a queen bed, a second double bed in the loft, one bathroom and dogs are allowed. A spokesperson for Into The Wild Escapes says there is “growing demand for natural escape holidays in the State from travellers around the country and overseas”. This first WA property is near Bridgetown and named “Tiny Matilda”, which the public relations company says is “from the Jackie French novel A Waltz for Matilda, itself inspired by AB (Banjo) Paterson’s famous poem, Waltzing Matilda…
A Matilda is a swag (canvas bedroll), so to go “waltzing Matilda” is Australian slang for travelling on foot (waltzing) with a swag. Banjo’s poem tells the story of a casual country worker (a “swagman”) making tea in a billy can at a bush camp and catching a stray sheep (a “jumbuck”) to eat. When the sheep’s owner (a “squatter”) and three police officers (“troopers”) chase the swagman, he calls “You’ll never catch me alive!” and drowns himself in a water hole (“billabong”), then haunts the spot.
+ Banjo Paterson wrote the words to Waltzing Matilda in August 1895. It seems sure the first verse was written in Winton, Queensland, and later verses at Dagworth Station, just north of there.
+ The song was published in 1903, with the music by Christina Macpherson.
ON THE WALLABY
Another good old Aussie phrase for travelling is to go “on the wallaby”. Researchers at the Australian National University have traced the phrase’s origins to the late 1840s.
+ In 1849, a book called Stephen’s Adelaide Miscellany refers to “mobs on the wallaby track’”.
+ In 1893, in his book Steve Brown’s Bunyip, author JA Barry wrote: “I’m on the wallaby, looking for shearing, and, worse luck, haven’t got no gold”.
+ And so the phrase seems to have been embedded in our language.
+ The Airwheel SE3S electric suitcase is set to be a star at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair from April 12 to 15. With front motor wheels and rear pneumatic tyres for riding and travelling under electric power, it can do up to 13km/h. It has a retractable aluminium pole with three positions. The Airwheel SE3S “journey luggage” has a lithium battery pack with a capacity of 73.26WH that can propel it for up to 10km.
+ A reader has just asked me if they could send their eScooter as luggage on a flight. The answer is no. For domestic flights in Australia, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has firm guidelines around lithium ion batteries. Only those with up to 100Wh (watt hours) are allowed in carry-on luggage. Batteries of up to 160Wh are allowed in checked baggage.
+ On top of that, airlines have their own rules. Qantas allows batteries up to 100kw, and batteries between 100kw and 160kw require approval. Virgin Australia specifically states that electric scooters that aren’t mobility aids for disabled people are not allowed.
+ When we start thinking about travelling overseas, there are even more rules. Because of the chance of Li-ion batteries overheating and exploding, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) classifies and regulates them as dangerous goods.
World Expeditions has lower altitude treks in the Everest region, and a spokesperson says they’re good for first-timers and families. There is an emphasis on engaging with the culture of the local Gurung and Tamang peoples as much as seeing the mountainous landscapes of Annapurna, Machapuchare and Dhaulagiri. The treks are all-inclusive, staying in eco lodges and “eco-comfort camps”. My pick is Annapurna Dhaulagiri in Comfort (which also has an over-55s version, at a slower pace, with extra days added). worldexpeditions.com.au
For higher altitude trekking, look for companies which carry a Portable Altitude Chamber (PAC) for safety. This Australian invention is a portable hyperbaric oxygen chamber, which helps reverse high altitude illness symptoms. It is used if a patient is too sick to move or can’t be taken to a lower altitude immediately. The PAC was developed in 1996 by Roddy Mackenzie, Dr James Duff and the C E Bartlett product manufacturing company. It is made from strong PVC and pumped up to pressurise, and (even with its pump, hose and repair kit) weighs less than 8kg. This Australian-made product is exported worldwide. A Bartlett spokesperson explains: “PAC technology has been shown to be highly effective in the reversal of symptoms of AMS. Depending on the starting altitude, simulated descents of about 2000 metres are achieved at the operating pressure of 2 PSI above ambient pressure.”
The Bartlett company, based in Ballarat, Victoria, was founded in 1956, when sail maker Cliff Bartlett began repairing tarpaulins in his family home. It has developed new fabrication and sealing techniques for woven synthetic fabrics. bartlett.net.au
In a recent edition of Sunday Travel, I published a story about dog rescuers in Bali. It was truly inspirational, and is online at thewest.com.au/travel. It told the stories of three heroes who work tirelessly in the shadows without pay or recognition to help dogs in need. Zahvira Mega Rahmatalita cares for nearly 50 street dogs. Claudia Mingrado, through her charity Lucky Dog Rescue Bali, cares for more than 230 dogs. Bali Animal Welfare Association, founded by Janice Girardi, who rescued her first stray in the 1980s, has a 24-hour hotline and animal ambulance, runs shelters for 400 dogs and cats and feeds 1000 street dogs daily. The story has brought a lot of response, including this touching and practical response from reader A Birch of York: “What a wonderful uplifting story. I am going on a trip to Alice Springs and was considering engaging in a camel riding activity — however, I am choosing not to participate in this activity now and have since donated the cost ($100) of the activity to The Lucky Dog Rescue.”