When British explorers happened upon Kangaroo Island—south of what today is the city of Adelaide—the animals took them by surprise.
Unlike the wild ‘roos of the mainland, who knew to keep their distance, these creatures were utterly tame and approachable (so much so that the arriving crew reportedly slaughtered 31 for a giant kangaroo stew).
The reason the animals were unaccustomed to humans (and tragically unfamiliar with their bad habits) was because no humans lived there. Aboriginals had once inhabited the island, but they’d abandoned it at least 2000 years prior, for reasons unknown.
After a couple of centuries of life alongside human settlers, the animals here are understandably a little more wary—but the humans, for their part, have gotten a lot more respectful. Which means that today, this one of the most incredible places to get up close and personal with some very interesting creatures out in the wild.
The best way to meet them is to tour with a local company like Exceptional Kangaroo Island.
Experienced guides are familiar with the animals and their habitats—so they can probably find you a tricky-to-spot echidna and point out where a koala is likely to be hiding in the crook of a tree—but they also ensure that you won’t bother the animals in the process.
(And in lieu of kangaroo stew, they serve fantastic lunches that highlight the local produce.)
The view over Lord Howe Island from the cliffline of Mt Midgford. Image Credit: Courtesy Pinetrees Lodge.
The hike up Lord Howe Island’s Mt Gower is not for the faint hearted.
Widely regarded as one of Australia’s toughest but most spectacular day walks, its 875m summit can only be undertaken with a licensed guide (mostly due to the sensitive wildlife).
The return journey takes between eight and 10 hours through a lot of unmarked track, with some sections so steep that ropes have been fixed to help you climb up.
However, all the hard work will most certainly pay off when you reach the top, with stunning views of the island.
Some of the flora and fauna of Mt Gower cannot be seen anywhere else in the world; if you’re lucky, you might even see a Lord Howe Island woodhen, an endemic bird brought back from the brink of extinction in recent decades.
And an unusual wildlife experience awaits you at the top – the providence petrels almost fall from the sky to your very feet if you make lots of sound.
The Baked Bean Museum of Excellence is a museum dedicated to baked beans, owned and operated by a bean-obsessed superhero called Captain Beany. And yes, it is as eccentric as it sounds.
In order to understand the Baked Bean Museum of Excellence, you first have to understand Captain Beany. The man formerly known as Barry Kirk once worked in the computer department of the British Petroleum chemical plant in the village of Baglan in Neath Port Talbot.
Then, in September 1986, one sublime event changed his life: Kirk sat naked in a bathtub full of baked beans for 100 hours, setting a new world record.
At the same time, his one true destiny was revealed: Captain Beany was born, an honest-to-goodness real-life superhero rising like a phoenix from the rich tomato sauce of a thousand baked beans. It was a beautiful moment.
In truth, it actually took a few years for Kirk to complete his baked bean-obsessed transformation. But in 1991, he legally changed his name by deed poll to Captain Beany.
Not stopping there, he started painting his face and (now completely bald) head orange, and began wearing a golden cape, pants, gloves and boots.
Ever since, Captain Beany has been involved in a whole range of strange events, raising money for various charities.
In doing so, he’s raised more than £100,000 for charity.
In 2009, Captain Beany transformed his third-floor, two-bedroom council flat into the world’s only museum dedicated to baked beans: The Baked Bean Museum of Excellence. The tiny museum is packed with baked bean-related artifacts.
It’s bursting with baked bean tins from various brands around the world.
It’s a surreal experience, but one that most visitors thoroughly enjoy. Well done, Captain Beany.
Because the museum is located in a council flat, Captain Beany can’t charge an entrance fee. Donations are happily received, however, and are given to charity.
Krubera Cave, also known as Voronya Cave (Russian for “Crow’s Cave”) is the deepest known cave on Earth.
It is located in the Arabika Massif, one of the largest high-mountain limestone karst massifs in the Western Caucasus region of Georgia.
This mountain block contains several hundred caves that started to develop when the mountains started to rise more than 5 million years ago.
Five of these caves are deeper than 1,000 meters; Krubera is 2197 meters deep and is the only known cave on Earth deeper than 2,000 meters.
Krubera Cave is a 16,058 meters long cave system which for most part consists of deep, vertical wells which are interconnected with passages. The cave starts high in the mountains, at an altitude of 2,256 meters, with a narrow entrance.
Krubera Cave often is very narrow and had to be carved at many places to allow safe passage. At other places, the passageway is as large as subway tunnel.
Multan is a city of great historical importance, located at the crossroads of central and south Asia on the Indian subcontinent.
Inhabited since antiquity, the city was originally part of the province of Sindh, where it came under Arab rule during the Umayyad period (ca. 712) and was later administered by a series of governors through the Abbasid period.
The city was primarily populated by merchants, which is unsurprising given its position on overland trade routes connecting the Islamic world with the subcontinent.
Multan was also a site of pilgrimage for Hindus, and the city’s sun temple is often mentioned by Arab chroniclers.
Although the initial Arab administration of Multan was tolerant of worship at the sun temple, probably because it was a great source of revenue for the city, this situation was short-lived.
As the effects of Kharijite and Isma’ili (two sects within Islam) activity in undermining Abbasid power in Baghdad trickled down to distant parts of the Abbasid Caliphate, Isma’ilis gained a foothold in Sindh.
By the late tenth century they controlled Multan, and the city shifted allegiance to the Shi’i Fatimids of Egypt. It was at this time that the sun temple and its famous idol was supposed to have been destroyed.
The Isma’ili period is a crucial turning point in the city’s history as it propelled the movement of various Isma’ili saints to converge upon Multan and further laid the foundation for its transformation into a center of Sufi Islamic practice.
A number of Sufi saints are buried in and around Multan in spectacular monuments, including the tombs of Baha’ al-Din Zakariya (?–1262) and Rukn-i-‘Alam (?–1335).
In this lovely capture by Luca Casartelli, we see Isola San Giulio (or San Giulio Island) on Lake Orta, in the region of Piedmont in northwestern Italy.
The island measures 275 metres (902 feet) long by 140 metres (459 feet) wide.
The most famous building on the island is the Basilica of Saint Giulio, close to which you can see the monumental old Seminary (1840s).
The little island, just west of the lakeshore village of Orta San Giulio, has very picturesque buildings, and takes its name from a local patron saint (Julius of Novara), who lived in the second half of the 4th century.