I started with the weird and wonderful sights of Singapore's Changi Airport. I do love it there. They have a massive butterfly house, orchids everywhere, a rooftop cactus garden and pool, and much, much more...
Next was a chance to catch up with my great-uncle Noel. He and his wife Audrey live in Mt Beauty, in the Australian Alps. I hadn't seen them for about 35 years.
On the flight there I was reminded what a spectacularly vast, arid and ancient land my country is.
The hazards of driving in Australia. The middle one is, of course, a wombat.
Finally Mum (right) and I arrived and had fun taking them out to lunch. Noel is 101, and Audrey a spring chicken at a mere 91.
Noel and Audrey were award winning artists, and Noel was a pretty crack photographer. Here he's showing me his camera collection - the state of the art in his day. He's pretty amazed by Mum's small compact digital. He was thrilled by his first go at using one!
I was thrilled to see their ancient black and white photographs from over half a century ago. This one is a rare photo of the Bunganby Bunyip. It's not only Scotland that has giant serpents...
The mountains around the ski resort of Falls Creek (adjacent to Mt Beauty) in summer, following a bushfire.
Falls creek high country in summer.
The cliffs of Mt Buffalo (also close by) - a wonderful table-top mountain about 20 km long, rising about 1,000 m above the plains.
Somewhere behind that tree are some climbers part-way up one of only two, two-day climbs in Australia, looking small as ants. The drop here is about 1,000 m. They'll have to sleep on a ledge overnight. Awesome stuff and incredible views.
I tried to get Mum to come climbing with me. She declined, but I know she wants to really... :) right Mum?
It's also a popular hang-gliding site.
This is where they launch from!
At the end of the high plateau is a wonderful rock tower called 'The Horn'.
With amazing views
Being Australian, Mum's an expert in wombat poo identification. Here she demonstrates her expertise.
One of our cooler animals. Quite a lot are seriously cool. One night in Western Australia a long time ago, something hopped out of the bush, sniffed around and disappeared. I never did figure out what it was.
Cool house for a pygmy possum when there's no snow to burrow beneath.
Toward the end of that week Mum and I did a mad dash for the main range here, and Thredbo - Australia's biggest Alpine town. We drove hundreds of km in about 3 hours...
Passing wild emus...
Our chocolate melted in the heat. Completely normal in Australia.
We got to this valley about 15 mins from Thredbo but had to turn around to make our flight. Still, it was great to get here. This was where I emerged from an epic two day solo survival adventure up on the highest peaks when I was about 20. One of the biggest adventures of my life. But that's another tale...
Next, it was on to Brisbane, where I had 2 talks lined up: one in the Banana Lounge - a wonderful vegan cafe, and one at the Uni of QLD vet school, along with a tour of their facilities.
Brisbane is a tropical capital city
It reputedly has the best weather in Australia, which is saying a lot. However I reckon my city of Perth is probably better - Brisbane can be hell in the wet season ('summer').
Banana Lounge. My ulterior motive for giving all these talks were the cakes. It was really a vegan cake tour of Australia :)
The White House. Less commonly known as the Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, at the University of Queensland veterinary school. I think it's the only such centre at an Australian vet school, although we have centres for bioethics at other universities.
Meeting the PhD students in the White House. They were studying the coolest animals, ranging from tigers to elephants, and...
of course the Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat!