The property includes a selection of eleven penal sites, among the thousands established by the British Empire on Australian soil in the 18th and 19th centuries. The sites are spread across Australia, from Fremantle in Western Australia to Kingston and Arthur’s Vale on Norfolk Island in the east; and from areas around Sydney in New South Wales in the north to sites located in Tasmania in the south. Around 166,000 men, women, and children were sent to Australia over 80 years between 1787 and 1868, condemned by British justice to transportation to the convict colonies. Each of the sites had a specific purpose, in terms both of punitive imprisonment and of rehabilitation through forced labor to help build the colony. The Australian Convict Sites presents the best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and the colonial expansion of European powers through the presence and labor of convicts.
The Australian Convict Sites is one of the few World Heritage Sites to have multiple locations across an entire country. There are 11 sites in total in New South Wales, Western Australia, Tasmania and Norfolk Island. I visited the 3 sites located in the Sydney area: Cockatoo Island (pictured), the Old Government House and the Hyde Park Barracks.
Cockatoo Island is the largest island in Sydney Harbor and was a prison up until the 1860’s. After that, it was used as a dockyard up until the 1980’s. The convict parts of the island are small compared to the industrial areas, which quite honestly, are far more interesting.
The Old Government house was the home of the former colonial governors of New South Wales located in Paramatta. The house was the NSW equivalent of the White House. While I thought the convict ties were sort of dubious, it is historically interesting and I learned a lot about Australian history in visiting.
The Hyde Park Barracks was the primary housing for convict labor in Sydney. It is located in the central business district and is easily reachable on foot if you are visiting the harbor area and Sydney Opera House World Heritage Site.
The coastal area of Belize is an outstanding natural system consisting of the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, offshore atolls, several hundred sand cays, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons and estuaries. The system’s seven sites illustrate the evolutionary history of reef development and are a significant habitat for threatened species.
The reef extends from the border with Mexico to the north, to near the Guatemalan border to the south. The Belize submarine shelf and its barrier reef, represent the world second largest reef system and the largest reef complex in the Atlantic-Caribbean area. Outside the barrier, there are three large atolls: Turneffe Islands, Lighthouse Reef and Glover’s Reef.
The reef system in Belize is second only in size to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Unlike the Great Barrier Reef, however, the reef in Belize is much more accessible. The Great Barrier Reef cannot be seen from shore and is an hour boat ride away. The Belize reef can be see from shore on any number of cayes in the area and going to a snorkel or dive spot doesn’t take that much time.
To get to the reef, just take a water taxi from Belize City to either Caye Caulker or San Pedro. From there you can see the reefs and easily take a day snorkel or dive trip.
Located in the South Pacific, 700 km north-east of Sydney, the property is included administratively in New South Wales. The preserve includes some 75% of the land area of Lord Howe Island and all of the offshore islands and rocks of significant size in the region. These are the Admiralty Group; Mutton Bird and Sail Rock; Blackburn (Rabbit) Island; Gower Island; and Ball’s Pyramid, together with a number of small islands and rocks. The seaward boundary follows the mean high water mark and consequently excludes all littoral and marine areas. The entire island group has remarkable volcanic exposures not known elsewhere.
The main island of Lord Howe measures 10 km from north and south and is little more than 2 km in width. It roughly describes a crescent, enclosing a coral reef lagoon on its south-western side. The island’s topography is dominated by the southerly Mount Gower and Mount Lidgbird. Only a narrow isthmus of lowland country in the north-central part of the island is habitable. The northern tip consists of steep hillsides culminating in extensive sea cliffs against the northern coastline.
Lord Howe is one of the truly special places on Earth. Located several hundred miles off the coast of Sydney, it is the southernmost coral reef in the world. The lagoon has excellent coal specimens along with turtles and stingrays.
The island is home to 300 people and only 400 visitors are allowed on the island at any given time. It is a community where everyone knows everyone else and many people will tell you that they are a 6th or 7th generation islander when you meet them.
The island has even taken the step of keeping cell towers off the island, so mobile phones can’t be used. As a result, you will see more phone booths on Lord Howe than you probably will in Sydney.
With all due respect to Robert Fulghum, you can learn a lot more traveling than you can in kindergarten.
Here are some of the things I learned from traveling around the world for five years:
Be patient. You will experience flight delays, screwed up food orders and lost hotel reservations. Take it in stride. I once saw someone in Bali start yelling over what amounted to 10-cents. What was the point?
In 2010 I had the pleasure of visiting South Africa as a guest of South Africa tourism. I visited the remote Kimberly Region in the North West Province, Cape Town and areas around Johannesburg. I was able to do and see many incredible things including: a live capture on a game farm, get in the water with Great White Sharks, see African Elephants, ride the Blue Train and take my first hot air balloon trip. While it was my first visit to South Africa, it certainly will not be my last. There are so much more of the country I haven’t explored yet.
I hope you enjoy some of the images from my first experience in South Africa.
Prior to setting out in 2007, I explored the world on the maps of Risk and Axis and Allies. Via dice rolling and troop movements I was able to explore most of the world, but there was also one place I couldn’t go: Switzerland. It was a big greyed out area on the map where I could never move my plastic units.
When I was invited to Switzerland in the summer of 2011 I jumped at the chance to go. It was a country I have always been fascinated by. During my trip I visited the cities of Bern, Basel and Zurich.
I left Switzerland with a desire to return, which I will be doing later this year. I’ll be in Lucern for the 2012 Adventure Travel Summit and TBEX Europe. I’ll be getting a rail pass which I hope to use before the conferences to visit all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Switzerland in 8 days!
Edinburgh has been the Scottish capital since the 15th century. It has two distinct areas: the Old Town, dominated by a medieval fortress; and the neoclassical New Town, whose development from the 18th century onwards had a far-reaching influence on European urban planning. The harmonious juxtaposition of these two contrasting historic areas, each with many important buildings, is what gives the city its unique character.
The remarkable juxtaposition of two clearly articulated urban planning phenomena. The contrast between the organic medieval Old Town and the planned Georgian New Town provides a clarity of urban structure unrivalled in Europe. The juxtaposition of these two distinctive townscapes, each of exceptional historic and architectural interest, which are linked across the landscape divide, the “great area” of Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley Valley, by the urban viaduct, North Bridge, and by the Mound, creates the outstanding urban landscape.
Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, falls into a category of World Heritage Site where the entire city gets lumped into one site. You can find similar sites in Rome, Paris, Kyoto and Budapest.
The architecture of the city has a very powerful feeling which is highlighted by the castle overlooking everything.
I only had one day in Edinburgh and it was in the winter, which limited my daylight exploration hours. I very much wish to return in the summer so I can better explore the city and its buildings.