The Menin Gate ceremony at Ypres has been held at 8.00pm on every night since 1928. It is a wreath laying ceremony that commemorates the three battles of Ypres 1914-1918. Crowds gather every night as the Ypres Fire Brigades lead the Last Post. Lest We Forget.
Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery is located just over the Belgium border in Poperinge. It was attached to a 'clearing station' where injured men were assessed and either moved further back from the front line or comforted in their last hours. This is one of the largest Commonwealth War Cemeteries on the Western Front with over 11,000 graves. In Spring the flowers bloom and the birds sing their songs, the desperate sadness of this place is eased ever so slightly.
It is spring in Europe and the tress are bursting into life. Over the last few days I have been in Verdun studying the horror of the battles of World War 1. The American Cemetery at Montefaucon is the largest in Europe. It contains over 13,000 graves. I found it interesting that no American President has ever visited, they apparently prefer the glories of Normandy and D-Day. The avenues of pleached trees are bursting into life a contrast the the men slumbering forever in the quiet earth.
Nurnberg is the capital of Franconia and has a glorious past as capital of the Holy Roman Empire but also a very dark past as the spiritual capital of the NSDAP (Nazi) Party. There are perfect streches of medieval beauty and also the legacy of the party Rally Grounds where the Nurnberg racial laws were proclaimed. The city is built of a a rose red stone that can look beautiful but also dirty and oppresive. Nurnberg is defintley worth a visit and a dig into its very interesting history.
The city of Regensburg can be found on the Donnau (Danube) River. It is a Roman city founded by Marcus Aurealis in the 1st century. Today it is famed for it intact and unrestored medieval city centre.This picture is from the old stone bridge, Steinbruke looking towards the Alter Dom. The transparent spires of the Cathederal were added in the 19th century.
The Konigsee near Berchtesgaden has many traditional Dirdl and Lederhosen stores. The traditional dress of Bayern has had a huge revival over the last decade. It is now a common sight to see the national dress in downtown Munich.
The Jesuit church of St Michael in Munich is the largest Renaissance church north of the Alps. The style of the building had an enormous influence on Southern German early baroque architecture. We stumbled on Sunday Mass here as it fitted our time, 9.00am. Even though my German is rudimentary I knew enough to follow along. The music and choir was brilliant and I realised that the theatre of the Catholic Mass has long vanished in Australia but it is still not enough to get people in the 20-30 years old of Munich to come along. The Chuch however was full and we were 'treated' to a half hour homily by the priest. St Michael's is a famous Church for the tombs of the renowned Wittelsbach Dynasty in its crypt. We are leaving Munich today. I can heartily recommend this friendly city and look forward to my return in the near future.
The Wooli River is a pristine waterway as it is almost entirely within Yuraygir National Park. The 'Wooli River Explorer' is a great way to explore this wilderness. You can also have a 'floating lunch' as it comes with an inbuilt barbecue.
A feature of the Australian landscape are the regular and necessary fires. Most trees are blackened from these periodic events. Many Australian plants rely on fire as a precursor to the germination of their seeds.
This is the Garden Orb spider.It grows to about 3cms and is non-venomous and non aggressive. They weave a very large and sticky web between trees. It is unsettling to walk into the web at night and it can take quite an effort to get the web off your face and hair.
Early Autumn brings large schools of Mullet and Baitfish close to the beach. Large pods of Dolphins chase and feed and come very close to the shore. You can often be swimming and a flash of silver-grey can rush past in a wave, it can be momentarily disconcerting as sharks also follow the moveable feast.
They can put on spectacular displays as they herd the fish through splashes and walls of bubbles.