This is the website of Neil McDougall, a musician/blogger/podcaster/bookie from Ayrshire.

Neil’s Antipodean Adventure 4: Cougar On A Quad Bike

Hello again, dear readers, and welcome to Part 4 of my ongoing series of blogs recapping my holiday to Australia during March and April this year.

When last we spoke, I had ended my second full day in Australia with a belly full of Chinese food and the prospect of an early start the next day, as this holday had another holiday within it – we were heading 6 hours’ drive north to the holiday town of Kalbarri, and we had an early start.

The holiday wasn’t just myself, Gordon, Nancy and Rachael, in case you were wondering.  For one thing, Rachael wasn’t coming.  She was busy with her work and uni prep.  Additionally, the three of us were just one portion of the crew that was going to Kalbarri – the whole party was 15 people – Me, Gordon and Nancy, the Strouds (Peter and Martina), the McGuinnesses (Joe and Caroline, Joe and Caroline’s son Calum, Calum’s partner Ellie and their daughter Ayla) and the D’Cruzes (Clive and Liz, their kids Phoebe and Alex and Phoebe’s friend Renee).  A full team.

Naturally, this amount of folk needed a bit more gear than a couple of cheap tents and a disposable BBQ – we were definitely glamping rather than camping.  We had to tow a big trailer behind my uncle’s Land Rover (a Discovery, very comfy and powerful – just the ticket for a 6+ hour trek in the Aussie sun) which contained all manner of equipment – gas BBQ stove things, three (!!) fridges, a microwave, pergolas, some camping chairs, tables, an espresso machine (!!!!!), water dispenser bottle things, cutlery, plates, basically all the comforts of home.  Like I said, we definitely weren’t roughing it.

So, we were all up for about 5:30 AM, showered, coffee’d and a light breakfast, and we huckled the fully-loaded trailer out of my uncle’s garage (and this was a big trailer – you probably could’ve fit a small car in it, easily), hooked it up to the back of the Disco and set off just as the sun was beginning to peek out from the horizon.

The drive up was pretty hassle free – we met up with a couple of other members of the convoy north of Perth, and we were meeting Peter and Martina there, as they were driving six hours south from Exmouth, where Peter was doing his podiatrist thing as he does every so often up in that neck of the woods (his main practice is in Fremantle – http://www.fccpodiatry.com.au/ if you need your feet seen to in Freo).  We made a pit stop in Jurien Bay for bacon rolls and coffee, then another one a few hours later in Northampton, one of the oldest settlements in Western Australia.

Soon enough, we were rolling into the Kalbarri Tudor Holiday Park.  There was a bit of a kerfuffle about what campsite pitches we had we were supposed to have all of the pitches that were booked in one contiguous set, but due to it being the Easter holiday weekend, I guess things got a bit mixed up with how busy it was, and eventually a compromise was reached – the main multi-pergola setup where all the eating, drinking, entertaining and the majority of the tents would go would be one set of campsites, and Gordon, Nancy and I would have our tents on another pitch across the road from the main area, in a pitch that had a seperate private toilet/shower block.  You can see a panoramic photo of the main ‘glamping’ bit in the photos below.

After a fair amount of work, we got the campsites set up and settled in for the first evening of merriment with a feast of curry.  Apparently this is a bit of a tradition on these camping trips – every family group makes a curry in advance and it’s the first night’s meal to save a lot of prep after the graft involved in setting up the campsite.  It, like all the food we had in Kalbarri, was lovely.  Sitting in the warm Australian evening, munching a curry with family and a bunch of new friends, getting progressively drunker and talking all sorts of nonsense.  Great way to kick things off.

The next day was a pretty lazy one – we visited Chinaman’s Beach, drove into the bush to attempt to find some fishing spot that some of the lads had heard about, but abandoned our search (but not before coming across a bit of a ‘shanty town’ type of arrangement, and getting directions off a woman driving a pink quad bike, with a small dog in a front basket and ‘COUGAR’ reg plates, I shit you not) and headed back to the campsite to indulge in more food and alcohol for the remainder of the evening.

The next day saw me do something that I’d had no plans to do, but I’m exceedingly glad I did it – I went on an aerial tour of the Murchison River Gorges and the Coastal Cliffs.  Six of us, including the pilot, piled into a small Cessna single-prop aircraft and we set off into the air above the magnificent landscape of Kalbarri National Park.  Well, we almost didn’t set off – during the takeoff roll, a bird flew into the path of the plane, but thankfully, the Kalbarri airfield has a runway capable of dealing with much larger aircraft, so after a dab of brakes, the bird cleared off out of the way, the pilot throttled up again and we were up with no further hassle.  Naturally, I brought my camera with me, and some of my favourite pictures of the aerial tour accompany this post.

After this it was back to the campsite for more food, beer, wine and banter.  This was the standard MO most nights.

This post is getting long, so I’ll cut it off here.  Join me again soon, when I’ll wrap up my time in Kalbarri.

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on September 17, 2016 at 9:00 pm, filed under Uncategorized. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



Neil’s Antipodean Adventure 3: A Spate of Touristyness

Welcome once again, dear friends, to another instalment of my trip report of my month Down Under.

When last we left our hero, that being me, I’d hit the sack at my uncle’s house in Yokine, North Perth for the first time.  The 20+ hours of travel combined with a few James Squires definitively knocked me out that evening, and I slept like the proverbial log, even in the late-Aussie-summer evening warmth.

The next morning I woke up pretty early, got myself a coffee and a banana and sat outside in the back garden of the house, next to the pool, soaking up the morning sunshine and enjoying the warmth after a pretty grotty Scottish winter.  It was a moment of peace before all the activity of the next month – taking it all in, soaking in the fact that I was on the other side of the world, sitting in a place I’d only seen in photographs from trips taken by other members of my family.  After all the times my uncle and aunt had said ‘when’s Neil coming down?’, I was finally there, sat by the pool, sipping a coffee and letting my feet cool on the dew covered Astroturf lawn.

After breakfast and properly unpacking my bags, my aunt Nancy and I headed off to King’s Park to take in my first bit of Perth tourism.  We walked around some of the walking trails, visited the ANZAC war memorial, I took a bunch of photos (including a couple of nice ones of the Perth skyline – see below for photos) – it was cool.  The first spate of touristyness of the trip.

After King’s Park, we headed to a mall in Innaloo to pick up a few bits & bobs I needed – some proper toothpaste and toothbrushes (the cheap ‘travel’ stuff I bought for the trip was really bad.  You get what you pay for), a SIM card and data for my phone, stuff like that.  Nothing majorly sexy.

The SIM card was a bit of a FAIL though – I thought my phone would’ve been able to run the Optus SIM I bought, and I couldn’t get the phone unlocked, so I was stuck to Wifi for data, as there was no way I was going to pay O2’s exorbitant roaming rates.  I really should’ve switched to Three when I got my 6S+.  A solution to the problem would eventually present itself, but not for a couple of weeks, but we’ll get to that later.

That night, we sat out under the pergola in the garden’s BBQ area and ate dinner, along with my aunt & uncle’s friends Phil, Donna and their daughters.  The scran was great, the chat was good, the company was nice.  All in all, a nice way to wind up the first day in Australia.

The next day, I indulged in some more blatant touristyness by visiting Hillarys Boat Harbour and the Aquarium of Western Australia, or AQWA, with my younger cousin Rachael.  I took my camera with me (a Sony RX100 Mark I for those wondering – amazing travel camera, although I would’ve stumped up for the Mark III if I was more flush with cash) and got some pretty good shots, some of which are below.  The one with the schoolkids pointing up at the massive ray is one of my favourite photos of the whole trip.  After AQWA, Rachael and I ambled around the nearby mall waiting for Nancy, who was doing….something in a shop in the mall – I can’t remember what, exactly, and I suppose it’s not really important.  After the three of us reconvened we went to Dome for a drink, where I made a bit of a whoopsie.

I had ordered an iced coffee, thinking it’d be like the iced coffee we get here, made with crushed ice, blended, all that sort of stuff.  What I didn’t count on was the blob of ice cream, so when I stuck my spoon in to give it a stir, there was a bit of spillage.  Not the whole thing, but enough to make a bit of a splashy mess. facepalm

After we left Hilary’s, we headed to Kosmic, a music shop in Osborne Park, to buy strings for a guitar I was borrowing.  I didn’t fancy spending an entire month without picking up some sort of instrument, so a wee bit of acoustic janglyness was the perfect thing to keep me from getting guitar-homesick, and would be coming with me to Kalbarri, where we were headed the next day.  But we’ll talk more about Kalbarri in the next part…

That evening we went to Northbridge for dinner, meeting my Uncle’s pal Adam and his wife and daughter, Arlene and Erica.  We ate at the Good Fortune Roast Duck House, one of the many Asian eateries in Northbridge, and the food here was excellent.  It’s always a good sign if a Chinese restaurant has a load of Chinese folk eating at it, and this one did, and it had a good reputation – currently sitting as the #51 rated restaurant in Perth on Tripadvisor.  I can attest to the quality of the grub – it was fantastic, especially the Salt & Pepper Squid (first time ever trying squid – yet another first for me on this trip, and it wouldn’t be the last first either).  We had a bit of everything – duck, chicken, pork, the squid.  Best o’ gear, as we say in my neck of the woods.  Two thumbs up for the Good Fortune.  If/when I’m back in Perth in a few years’ time, I’ll definitely fancy hitting it again.

We got back and turned in early, because we had to be up at about 5:00AM the next day, to ready ourselves for the six-hour drive north, to the first of my two holdays within this holiday – six days of camping in Kalbarri.

But we’ll save that for the next episode.

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on September 14, 2016 at 8:40 pm, filed under Uncategorized. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



Neil’s Antipodean Adventure 2: Animatronic Velociraptor

Hello again! Time for part two of the tale of my trip down under.

So, when last we left each other, I was shuffling aboard the 787 from Edinburgh to Doha. I was sat in 17K, a window seat looking out onto the starboard wing, and had a free seat between myself and the passenger in the aisle seat. I have no recall of who my seatmate was on this flight. I think it was a dude. Obviously not that memorable, unlike my seatmate flying back to Perth from Sydney, but I’m getting ahead of myself….

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This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on September 12, 2016 at 6:50 pm, filed under life, travel. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



Neil’s Antipodean Adventure 1: The Shower Smells Funny

So, this past March/April I went to Australia for a month.  I meant to write about the experience before now, and here I am finally getting around to it.

Basically, to TL;DR it, it was the best holiday I’ve ever had.  Not that there was a high bar for it to leap over; the best holidays I’ve probably had before that were probably caravanning in Anstruther or down in Dumfriesshire when I was a kid.

However, you probably want to hear more detail about it, don’t you?  Well, let’s crack on.

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This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on September 10, 2016 at 5:20 pm, filed under travel. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



Gear Vlog – Harley Benton BZ-6000 NT 6-string bass

My newest ringing of the GAS bell – a Harley Benton BZ-6000 NT 6-string bass.

Hear the bass in this track – http://ift.tt/1OipOEc

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on June 21, 2016 at 6:16 pm, filed under Video and tagged , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



Fortis Luctator – Joe Coffey Entrance Music

The entrance music for the Mighty Wrestler, the Iron Man, Joe Coffey

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on May 11, 2016 at 5:07 pm, filed under Video and tagged , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



Run On – Wolfgang Entrance Music (ICW)

The entrance music for the 2016 Square Go winner and enforcer of the Black Label, Wolfgang. A re-imagined pseudo-modernised take on the old folk song Run On.

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on at 3:06 pm, filed under Video and tagged , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



STRAYA update – Almost time!

Greetings, fellow interweb denizens.  Some of you may recall I wrote a thing on here a few months back cataloguing my planning thoughts about what was, at that point, a distant plan to travel to Australia for an extended holiday.  Now, some 10 months after writing that post, I sit here a few days out from getting on the plane.  So, what’s happening, how did my plans change, for better or worse?  Let’s do this using the same section headers I used in the original post and compare my original plans to how things panned out.

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This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on March 16, 2016 at 10:20 pm, filed under life, musings, travel. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



New Video! – 7Dayshop Aero Freedom Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones – UNBOXING AND IMPRESSIONS

An unboxing and first impressions of the 7Dayshop Aero Freedom Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones.

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on October 27, 2015 at 10:49 am, filed under Video and tagged , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



New Video! – Beast (Big Damo O’Connor Entrance Music – OFFICIAL)

Entrance music for the devastating Beast of Belfast, Big Damo. This Irish powerhouse is one of the most fearsome men on the British wrestling scene, standing on chests the length and breadth of the UK and beyond.

Entrance Music? Themes? Soundtracks? General tunage? Check out Betamaxximum Productions at http://ift.tt/1W6dYQg. We cover all styles and all projects with our team of excellent musicians and producers.

Follow me on Twitter – @NeiloMac
Folow Big Damo on Twitter – @BigBeardDamo

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on October 21, 2015 at 8:17 pm, filed under Video and tagged , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



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