Oranges, red earth and a roadside store in the outback

As we continue our journey north, leaving the southern winter behind, we travel through wheat country along the Murray Valley Highway to Wentworth, where the Darling River joins the Murray. Worms are for sale at the petrol station where we fill up and a council worker tells us that the huge Murray cod can still be caught, just near our picnic spot. We were surprised to read the message on the little public toilet – We are delighted to be back on the red earth, as we drive past citrus orchards.
Then the horizon opens up and saltbush plains stretch out ahead as we reach the real outback. The drive from Wentworth to Broken Hill is 250km, with only one petrol station on the way. Our phones lose contact with the outside world, and at the roadhouse,the public phone seems suddenly reassuring. Feral goats, sheep and road kill kangaroos are our companions, plus the huge trucks that cause our mirrors to flap back. As we arrive, we are overjoyed to be here. Tomorrow we discover more about Broken Hill….

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A heavenly place to hang out

This is the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. As well as having a round altar building for good harvests, it is a lovely park where retirees make music, play chess and mahjong. A good place to wander about!

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Not a walk in the park – climbing the Great Wall

We climbed the Great Wall at JuYong Pass, where there is a bus park almost on the level of the wall. Watchtowers are placed at strategic intervals but getting from one to the next is a challenge. Steps at this section of Wall were built during the Ming dynasty and are steep and uneven, with shallower steps at the edges.

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Hutong, Beijing

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20130614-085039.jpgNarrow lanes, dangling wires, bikes carrying every commodity, roadworks, communal toilets. Welcome to the busy hutong districts round inner Beijing. This one is near the Bell and Drum Towers. The government has recently announced its intention to demolish the single storied houses and replace them with apartments with amenities. This will be a loss of a last vestige of the old capital that has existed since Ming times.

Yu Garden, Shanghai – respect for parents

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20130609-075507.jpg This oasis in Shanghai was apparently the inspiration for the Willow Pattern design. Built by a nobleman as a tribute to his parents, it features a full moon gate, arched stone bridges and a karst rock transported from the Yellow River. The rock has over 70 holes and can be viewed over the water from the island pavilion. The classy gift shop sells jade carved stamps that you can get carved with your name in Characters and letters. Also a magic scroll for practising painting characters with a wet brush. If you stuff up it doesn’t matter as when it dries, everything disappears. Photo: David Street.