Traveller Miriam Blaker

Name: Miriam Blaker
City and State you live: On the edge of the Yarra Valley, Victoria
Favourite Quote: “Just do it”

I’m 52 but feel as though I’ve just got my second wind in life. Finding my feet again, after a few hard years and now loving life and sharing my journey and family travels on my blog. Seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary. Happily married with two teenage kids and heading towards that empty nest. Our honeymoon in the Maldives and Penang set the tone for a shared love of travel, both overseas and in Oz, first as a family and more often now as a couple. There’s so much in our own backyard I still haven’t seen, I’m itching to see more.

What’s the longest trip that you’ve been away from home?

Six weeks. In July this year we travelled from Melbourne to the Red Centre, the West and East Macs, across the Plenty Highway and back down along the East Coast. We considered driving to the Top End as well, but instead slowed it down and did it at a leisurely pace. We had a ball. Next time it’s the top and the west!

What has been your most favourite destination and why?

This is a hard one. So many places, but way up there would have to be Trephina Gorge in the East MacDonnell Ranges. It’s less well known than the west and it’s quiet, the camping is superb, the scenery spectacular and you’re surrounded by towering red walls, gorges, amazing walks and great four-wheel drive tracks. I also loved Yuraygir National Park in NSW, an awesome coastal spot, secluded and stunning camping.

What’s your favourite travel childhood memory?

I have a few! Travelling to Italy and France with my parents when I was 14 was a highlight. Closer to home I’d say making snowmen at Licola in the High Country, family picnics at Glenmaggie Weir, fun trips to Walhalla, countless summer days on the 90 Mile Beach and climbing Mount Oberon at the Prom. Sorry, told you I couldn’t limit it to just one!

What have you found (sights or activities) a bit off the beaten track? Beyond the tourist traps that made you go wow?

Well, there’s all the BIG things, the koala, the pineapple, mango, dog, the prawn, but that’s not the true wow factor. I loved Lake Hart (about 40kms from Woomera). Camped by the edge of the salt-lake was amazing. The landscape was surreal and the light and sunset that glittered off the salt plains like glass, now that was truly a WOW moment.

What’s your biggest first world problem that you have while travelling?

I’m not a diva so I don’t miss too much but I don’t like it when my phone goes flat and I can’t recharge it! Or the wine supplies run out, that’s a biggie (fortunately it doesn’t happen very often).

What’s been the weirdest thing you’ve seen?

The weirdest thing I’ve seen was at Coober Pedy at Crocodile Charlie’s place. Knickers and nightwear hung up as a monument in his underground cave/bedroom was pretty damn weird. So were the endless fully dressed up termite mounds along the Plenty Highway.

Where do you dream of visiting (anywhere in the world)?

I have a few places on my bucket list. New Zealand is right up there, even though it’s literally on our doorstep. I’d love to see Canada and the Rockies one day and Iceland would be amazing to visit as well.

What do you get from travelling?

A sense of being at one with nature. That might sound corny but it’s true. Nothing makes me happier than a long stretch of isolated beach, whatever the weather, wandering through a rainforest, trekking up a mountain or just sitting round the campfire and watching the stars. I enjoy meeting like-minded people out on our travels too but mainly I just love being outside.

What’s been your weirdest moment while travelling?

When we were driving along the Silver City Highway, back of Bourke, engulfed in a dust storm, nearly out of petrol and a phone call came through. “We have your dog” a voice says. No, it wasn’t a kidnapping ransom, they wanted us to come pick up our wandering dog from his temporary home at Macedon. Needless to say, we couldn’t!

What has been the most useful item you’ve brought?

I’d have to say, without a shadow of a doubt, our GPS. Handy for the usual reasons, planning routes, locating campgrounds and finding a petrol station. But mostly, with my somewhat dodgy map reading skills (according to my other half), I think it’s saved our marriage, on more than one occasion. Yep, wouldn’t leave home without it.

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