Thursday, 7 April 2011

Only I would head south towards the Australian winter

Bloggers, what's up?

Thought I would update my blog now as I have some spare time and as I am now in serious job hunting mode ie. applying for the odd thing online, I may not have too much spare time over the next few weeks - yeah right!

As the title to this post would suggest I am now heading towards the south of Australia. Every other traveller is heading north to chase the sun, but as I like to do things a little differently I am heading in the opposite direction. It is not without good reason though, I really want to check out Melbourne and catch up with some friends, plus there is more that I want to see in this direction eg. the tallest mountain in Oz and Great White Sharks in Port Lincoln. Another reason is that I have decided that the most lucrative form of employment for me is to go and work in the mining industry. I feel have the stature to be one of the 7 dwarfs hunting for jewels or gold, however, coal will do if the pay is right.
I am desperate for a job for 2 reasons:
1) I am skint
2) once I have enough $ I have decided that the call of a return to SE Asia is too strong to ignore. In July I am heading back that way to spend a couple of months in Indonesia and will also hopefully meet up with my Norwegian friend in the process

After my last post I did as I said I would and went to sit with Anthony and had a beer (still in Byron Bay). My plan wasn't to go out that night but you know how it is. Myself, Thilo and Nils went out for some Pad Thai and then decided to check out The Railway pub which is renowned for its live music. We got there at 10:05pm, the live music finished at 10pm sharp.
We had one drink and thought we would join Anthony at his 'local' as we had not graced the place with our presence yet. As we approached there was a notice up for a silent disco next door. Undecided as to what we should do we let ourselves get talked into paying the entrance fee (quite hefty for a traveller but as it was going towards the earthquake victims of Christchurch and Japan it made me feel slightly, only slightly, better about paying it) and joined the party.
For those of you who do not know what a silent disco entails, it is quite simple. You enter the room and there is no music, however, everyone in the room is going for it on the dance floor. At the front of the room there were 2 dj's giving it large. The genius of the silent disco is that you are given a pair of headphones and then you can chose which dj you prefer to listen to. I do not use the word 'genius' lightly, the reason being is that at one particular moment, 1 dj was playing some hardcore house music and the other Right Said Fred, 'I'm too sexy'. Watching people dance together who were obviously listening to different channels was quite entertaining. For a quiet night, a 4am finish was quite nice.

The next couple of days passed without incident and then it was time for me to depart.
As always, I decide on the day what I am going to do. This didn't always go down too well with my dorm mates as at 10am every day the owner of the hostel would knock on our door, open it, wake everyone up and ask 'Adam, are you staying again today?', to which I would always respond with a sleepy 'Yes'.
So on the day I was to actually leave I found myself in a bit of a quandary. I knew I wanted to travel south, but did not know how, where I should visit on my way down and how I could best save some money in the process.
I was talking this over with the lads when a couple of Dutch girls I met in Nimbin suggested looking at relocating a vehicle. Lots of travellers hire camper vans (as I did with the Hooters a couple of years ago), travel up the east coast and then leave the van at their final destination. Unbeknown to me the hire companies will then charge minimal hire costs for someone to then relocate the van back to its original depot.
I got online and saw that there was a van that needed relocating from Brisbane to Sydney for a hire cost of $1 per day and I would just need to pay the fuel.
The only problem was that I was 165km south of Brisbane. No need to worry, my German homeboys were heading to Brisbane and I jumped into the car with them for a final road trip.
With a final goodbye to Anthony we were off.

As it turns out we were also giving the 2 Dutch girls mentioned above a lift to Surfers Paradise, about halfway between Byron and Brisbane. The journey was quite fun, playing driving games such as 'Who am I' and 'Name that tune'.
For 'Who am I' I was Patrick Swayze. I got the answer quite quickly due to the fact that a few days before when we went for a swim by the waterfall after camping, Thilo said that when I jumped into the water and came up all wet I looked like a young Swayze!!! No idea how he came to that conclusion, but it helped me in the game and made me laugh a lot.

When we arrived in Surfers (which I do not like as it is an Australian version of Benidorm) we had a walk around and decided, against my better judgement, that we should stay the night and get on it. I made an emergency call to the hire company and told them that I would be a day late and off we went to party.
It was a decent night. A lot of people from Byron Bay were also there as were the girls who we camped with in the National Park, along with Tom and Jacko who I have so far seen in Malaysia / Singapore / Byron and now Surfers.

Next day we set off for Brisbane. Only one thing to talk about on our journey and that was passing through Southport. I remember this town as I stayed here with Hoots and the thing I liked best about it was the sign as you come into Southport:
'Welcome to Souhthport - we do not tolerate sexual or domestic abuse'.
So I assume that if you stand on the other side of the sign and smack the b*tch up it is ok?

We checked into the YHA late afternoon, invited a girl who was eating Coco Pops alone to join us (who was from Nottingham and really nice) and we went for a few drinks.

Next day I was up early to get the van. With that it meant and end to my time with Thilo and Nils. I am not upset though as I am sure I will bump into Thilo again, and even if I do not I will definitely stay in contact with them both and once back in Europe will go to Germany to see them. When you are travelling you realise that distances in Europe are trivial.

The van I was to relocate was a 'Hippy Camper'. A small van, covered in flowers, with a built in cooking area. I have to say that it was great to be out on the open road, radio on, and the freedom to stop wherever I liked, driving down the very romantically named 'Pacific Highway'.
The only catch with the relocation was that the van had to be back in 3 days to maintain the $1 per day rental. Only 950km to cover in 3 days - no problem!!

My first stop was in a small surf town called Yamba. I parked up by the beach and had the place to myself.
The first thing I had to do was get onto Skype, it was Mothering Sunday afterall and I would've been in big trouble if I had not called home. Not that it was a chore mum, you know I always want to talk to you and dad, and Beck, if she is up, which is rare!
After the call I went for a run along the near deserted beach, apart from 2 homosexual men who were drawing out a huge 'Leigh hearts Kevin' on the beach.
As I only had the van for accommodation I had to take a shower under one of the showers at the beach. In my briefs (you have to wear briefs for sport to keep yourself all tucked in) I had a very quick shower ever mindful that Leigh and Kevin were out there somewhere!

Nighttime was dark and very quiet except for the sounds of the ocean but under a sky full of stars I cooked for the first time in 6 months. I say cooked, I had pasta with sauce.
This should've been simple enough to do but:
1) it took me ages to get the portable stove to work
2) the lid on the sauce jar was really stiff. When I did manage to open it, it undid with such force that the jar slid sideways and two thirds of it emptied out onto the van and my legs. Fortunately, most of it was on the van but my legs did look like I had been subjected to another, but more vicious leech attack

Still, I tasted good and in my double bed I slept very very well.

By the way, the girl next to me in the internet cafe has just let one go and is looking all innocent. It stinks so bad.

Back on the open road and my next destination was Port Macquarie. I arrived at Lighthouse Beach at approximately 1pm. By 1:10pm I had applied my lotion and settled on the beach for some well earned r&r. By 1:15pm there were some serious black clouds overhead.
It was obvious that there would be no more sun so I went for another run on another deserted beach. I was looking out for Leigh and Kevin, but to no avail.
With a stormy sky I decided to make up some more time and got back into the van. Looking through my Oz guide I saw that the town of Forster had resident dolphins. I had immediate images of them actually living and working in Forster, walking down the street, squeaking and clicking a 'hello' to their fellow residents.
No need to look for another place to camp, resident dolphins it was.

By late afternoon I was in Forster, and guess what? Yep, no dolphins.
Instead I parked up on a clifftop and had a greasy Chinese takeaway (which gave me the sh*ts - 2 months in India and barely a fart, a Chinese takeaway here and I am in trouble - typical) and settled down for an early night with my book.

And so it was back to Sydney. I was hoping that my approach from the north would mean a drive over the Sydney Harbour Bridge but as you would expect my route took me through a tunnel and under the harbour - no view at all.
I arrived at the depot with time to spare but also very aware that I had not completely filled up the tank to the required level. I am skint remember.
The woman who took receipt of the van pointed this out straight away. I had the option of either go and fill it up or let them charge me. She then said to wait and she would ask her boss.
I had already said hello to the boss when I got there and I could tell that he was gay.
When he came over I am not ashamed to say that I looked him straight (no pun intended) in the eye, fluttered my eyelashes and smiled at him.
I know an ex-colleague that used her sex to secure a big business deal - so sod it, why shouldn't I as I seem to be attractive to a number of gay men?
Anyway, it worked, he told me they would charge it back to the Brisbane office - result!

I left the office, checking over my shoulder that the boss wasn't following me, and went into central Sydney. I checked into a hostel and then was at a loose end as to what to do.
No fear, Greenall is always up for a drink. Until she had finished work I had to amuse myself and did so by going to play with the new i-pad2. The good thing about this was that my i-phone was low on battery so whilst I surfed the net for free for about 2 hours, I unplugged the i-pad and charged up my phone.
I met Greenall at The Rocks area and we had a nice drink with a view of the Opera House.
I was planning on an early night as I needed to be up at 4am to watch Spurs vs Real Madrid in the Champs Lge but then I got a text message from Sarah Ruddick, one of my best mates from uni, who had just landed in Sydney that evening. Therefore, I knew it would be a long night.
I knew Rudd and Rich (her partner) were coming to Oz (we left on our travels at the same time but went in different directions around the globe) but I didn't think that I would be in Sydney at this particular time. So I asked Greenall if she wanted to come for a beer in Kings Cross and off we went for an unexpected but very welcome reunion.
It was really nice to catch up with Rudd and Rich and to trade travelling stories. I do not see my uni mates as much as I should. You know how it is with work and life, but when I am back in the UK I will make a point of seeing them more - afterall uni was a massive part of my life.
So we chatted and drank and I do feel guilty that I kept Greenall out until 3am as she had to be up at 7am for work, but she likes a party, so it is all good.
In that strange way it turns out that Rudd and Greenall will both be in Bali at the same time later this month and will probably meet up. As I have said before and will no doubt say again, it is a small small world.

By the time we said our goodbyes it was nearly time for the footy so I headed straight to the pub. Not much to say here, we got hammered on the pitch, I was hammered in the bar, and there was a really annoying old bird in the pub who was cheering for everyone and she was the most hammered of all of us.
After the game I decided that I had had enough of Sydney so I picked up my bags (from the room that I had stepped out of 16 hours earlier and not even slept in) and went to the train station and bought a ticket for Wollongong. You have to love Aussie town names.
For breakfast I had a Burger King and someone pushed in front of me in the queue. I hate queue jumpers, especially when it turns out to be that annoying woman from the pub!
You can wear your dark spy style sunglasses and try to be incognito love, but I know it is you!

And off I went to Wollongong, feeling a little jaded as I had already been up for 24 hours. I arrived at 9:30am with no idea where to go. It amazing that in fairly small town, even employees of a travel centre do not know of any hostels.
My only option was to go to the library and get online. This would've have been brilliant if I didn't have to wait for 50 mins to get onto a computer. By this time I was seriously flagging but I found a place online and made my way straight over there.
I do not know if it was the sleep deprivation or something else but I found the owner of the hostel really attractive. She was about 60 years old for god's sake and I my beer goggles had long since worn off.
(I actually know my beer goggle limit as I did an experiment of myself once to find out at what point I would find a certain girl attractive who I didn't really fancy when I was sober. Cruel and immature I know, but I was interested to find out that I am anyone's for 4 beers).
I checked again today, and there is still something about the owner - I do not know what is wrong with me.

Anyway, after 30 hours awake I finally got some sleep and it was lovely. I got up, ate some food and then went back to bed and slept for another 12 hours.
That brings us to today.
I got up feeling bright and breezy and went for a hike up to the summit of Mt Keira. It is called a mountain but it is not very tall - only about 500 metres.
The walk up itself was really nice. The trek has been created using stones for steps that fit perfectly into the surrounding environment and give it a sort of ancient Inca trail feeling. I was working up a sweat, getting into the walk and had to fight my way through some foliage near to the summit to then come face to face with a road. Talk about disappointing, and to compound it, as I emerged from the trees an old couple in a 4x4 pulling a caravan slowly drove up the road past me!
Still, I got to the top and went over to the lookout overlooking Wollongong and the ocean.

Next to me at the lookout were the caravan couple. My conversation went as follows:
The man, "G'day...mmmmm"
Me, "Hello, how are you?"
The man, "Good thanks....mmmmm"
The man to his wife, "Look there is the hospital down there...mmmmm"
This 'mmmmm' business is starting to annoy me a little. It is a deep set 'mmmmm' like he has a habit and can't shake it off. As someone who used to have a lot of habits when I was younger I can notice them quite quickly.
The wife to the man, "Yes that nice, come on let's go, I have seen enough"
The man to his wife, "Well I haven't.....mmmmm"
The man to me, "This was all flooded a few weeks ago...mmmmm"
Me, "Oh really?"
The man, "Yes....mmmmm"
His wife, "Right, I am going" and off she walks
The man, "I will catch you up....mmmmm"
He then turned around and left and without saying another word let out a "mmmmm" as walked away.
Ha ha.

On my way down I took the trail with the best name ever. I crossed Thorung La Pass in Nepal, took a boat down the Mekong River in Laos, but none will beat 'Dave Walsh's walk'. No idea who Dave Walsh is, but I like him.
At the beginning of the Dave Walsh walk there was a picture of a tribute to the 'Six sisters of the west winds', a set of monuments that I could view along the way. On the photo they looked huge and quite impressive, but in real life they were anything but. The tallest went up to my hip and the smallest just below my knee, and given my height, that is small.
The funny thing was that just along from the 'tribute' (I was would be p*ssed if I was one of the 6 sisters) was a termite mound in the exactly the same shape and about twice as high as the largest monument.
I really hope that at the unveiling ceremony in December 2007 the termites sat there watching and said 'Lads, this is b*ll*cks, let's show Dave Walsh and his cronies what a real tribute to the sisters is'.

And so that is that, you are once again up to date.
I will continue to head south and try to find a job! Wish me luck.

Oh, Moggy, can you please check this post for spelling and grammar. That is not sarcasm, I mean it. Love you!

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