Saturday, March 24, 2007
Back in Sydney for the last few days, and doing more of the sights that i didn't get to do earlier. The beaches, Manly, Bondi and Coogee to say that i've been there, get some sun and catch a few waves and chill before the big ride home.
Being lazy, so not much to write about, just enjoying the scenery and trying not to spend too many $$$ unnecessarily on crazy souvenirs.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Now this really is rural, still within the lush coastal swathe of countryside and not what the Australians call the outback.
My hosts Carl and Rachel live in a great house on the very outskirts of a small village right in the bush. There were signs along the road warning of kangaroo, koala and emu. Two of which i saw, the roos plentiful in the shade of giant eucalypts in the afternoon sun, a couple of emu and the koala being somewhat elusive or just too well camoflaged, asleep in their trees.
I strimmed and weeded and installed irrigation for the new veggie gardens, mended the chook fence and washed the pig, cleaned out gutters and fed the worms in the worm farm and the chooks and the rabbit.
In the afternoons we visited a couple of local towns on the coast, shopping and to go to the beach or i took the car and went exploring or to the beach for a swim, shame i didn't have my board, as the waves were better than ever and the beach almost deserted. Cooked some great dinners, chilled with home brew or homemade ginger beers out under the shade of the eucalyptus till dusk when we hid inside behind the protective mesh door and window covers that kept out the clouds of mosquitoes that came in search of blood each evening.
They warned me about snakes, which freaked me out a bit, i was cautious about the tall grass and about lifting bits of wood and moving things that were lying out in the sun and checking in my bed each night and am slightly dissapointed to have come away without not even the sighting of a tail fleeing into the undergrowth.
I am fleeing too now, back towards Sydney where the big metal bird awaits to take me back to England at the end of the week and i still have plenty to do....
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
They said it would be good and i'm amazed yet again. After an 11 hour train journey up the east coast from Sydney, anywhere would be a welcome destination, but Byron Bay is as good as the image painted by all those peoples descriptions.
A smallish town with a hippy feel and plenty of money attracted by the beach. The sand is golden and fine, it squeaks when you walk on it, down to the clear, clear sea through the tanning backpackers and the locals who spend their time alternating between swimming and surfing the sparkling, luke warm waters and sunning themselves on the sand. I joined this local tradition immediately, hiring a body board for a couple of pounds a day and hitting the beach big time. It was too hot during the middle of the day so i siesta'd im the most tranquil backpackers i have visited yet.
Some of the other hostels pumped out dance music each evening and the inhabitants spilled out onto the streets to stagger into town in search of even more of the amber nectar. The bars were full and the atmosphere fun and friendly, with people of all nationalities enjoying the holiday vibe. An old guy with a massive telescope had set up on the street and was happy to show anyone saturn for a small donation. The planet, still in minature, moved at a surprising speed across the lens, with its saucer or rings swirling about its centre. More incredible to see in reality than on any photograph or television screen.
The lighthouse is set out on a peninsula and protects the most easterly point of the continent of australia, aparently an amazing place to watch the sunrise, but i declined the offer. I did go and have a look though, the views were incredible, both along the coast and also deep into the clear blue ocean. Manta rays, turtles and shoals of silver fish, glistening in the sunlight, making their ways along the coast. The place to see various whales and dolphins on their migratory travels, but alas, not at this time of the year.
A week of lazing about and enjoying the views was a great way to recharge. Now off to visit my last helpx hosts of my travels. A few hours down the coast to see what i can do next.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
now that the partying is over, its time to do a bit of sightseeing. No guesses to what commanded the most attention. The bridge and opera house are like huge camera magnets, demanding that photographs are taken from every angle at every opportunity wherever you go. No wonder they are reported to be the most photographed pair of locations in the world.
There are the most amazing views of the city from the top of the bridge, right up there where the flags are. Thankfully everyone is secured to the bridge and everything you wear is secured to you. Unfortunately no photographs, though i have got some on disc for later (if i remember to bring them out to the internet cafe with me sometime).
Spent a wonderful day wandering through the rejuvinated dock areas, packed with smart restaurants and bars and touristy attractions. Past amazing waterside appartments and through little back streets walled with arty gift shops and exotic eateries. China town was where we stopped to eat the most amazing dim sum. Plate after plate of amazing food arrived at our table, brought by waitresses steering trollies through the crowded restaurant, touting their particular dished to each table in turn. Four of us ate for ages and were completely stuffed by the time we left for just under $90.
On, under the bridge and round past the Opera house for the obligitory photo on the steps, it (my photo)was so awful i deleted it!! and throught the tranquility of the botanic gardens. More difficult to recognise many of the plants here, most of them that i did, giant examples of houseplants we have back in the UK. Even the guys from Honolulu were amazed at some of the sights and we had some great discussions about the diffenrences of our home countries. There were huge yellow white parrots squalking from tree to tree and thousands of bats hanging in the trees waiting for dusk and wierd duck, stork like birds with long curved beaks strutting about checking bits of litter to see what they tasted of. We saw the bats that evening, heading off over the city to their nighttime venue, black silhouettes against the darkening twilight sky.
My new friends are all heading off on their respective travels and i feel it is time to move on. A train ticket and a map of New South Wales and a few recommendations from the locals is all i need.
The beach beckoned, and i have headed up the coast on an 11hour train trip to Byron bay. A huge distance to travel and less than an inch on my map of australia. I shall return to Sydney to see some more of the sights later on in my journey, until then, the countryside and beaches beckon again. I can smell the surf........
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
i think that i need a holiday to recover from the last week................
Sydney Mardi Gras has been amazing. The city is beautiful and interesting to start with, and then to add on superb bars and clubs, friendly people, and the most spectacular parade and parties, it has been a massive experience, and such a contrast from the last three months of scenery and views. Have made some great friends here, who have made the whole experience even more fun.
Its strange though, it has been easy to sit and describe my adventures in the big outside, but when it comed to this, i am at a loss for words. Just look at the photos and imagine the atmosphere. A blend of fairground, carnival, parade excitement, with thousands and thousands of people all having a great time.
I watched the parade from the roadside, amongst the crowds. The rest of the gang had spent an extrordinarily large sum of money to be in an enclosure with a superior view, bar and food. It was strange being there alone, although soon became part of the immediate audience. A colossal number of floats of all extravagances passed by, some with hundreds of dancers in amazing costumes performing dance routines, others supported by political parties, big business promoting their wares (Ikea was fun)and smaller organisations providing worthwhile and much needed services to the community. The parade lasted for several hours, the last float disappearing down the street to deafening applause and the sound of thousands of whistles calling for more.
The party was huge. Set in an exhibition complex using the massive halls as dance floors with all kinds of music playing, dj'd by international dj's, drag acts and other performers, bars for drinks, stalls for food and areas to sit and chill. It was great to move from area to area and cool off outside before heading off to another dance floor for another boogie. My ticket number was 14820, from one of two vendors, so you can imagine the size of the event. From 10pm to 10am, the sun came up and we carried on partying. I managed till 8.30am without any help, and legally drove back to my accomodation for a rest before heading out mid evening for another night at a city centre club on Oxford Street.
Its now Tuesday morning and the city is all but back to normal. Need to work out my itinerary for the next few days and then head off of of town to a slower pace of life for a while. Ive heard that Byron Bay is good, so i'll probably head off in that direction soon.
Monday, March 05, 2007
the last week or so has passed by so fast, without internet opportunity, i shall give you all a small glimpse of where i've been.
in no particular order, photos of:
A Kea on the peak of Avalanche Summit in Arthurs Pass national park on the south island. A 1000metre climb, almost straight up the mountain, my legs didnt work that well the following day!!!
Me admiring the view on the west coast by Pancake Rocks, i just thought you should see a photo of me for once rather than just scenery.
The Frans Joseph Glacier from above in a helecopter, awsome views, later climbed the ice face for 4 hours with a guide. Fascinating and very cold and wet.
View of Frans Joseph village with glacier valley behind, where i stood for ages waiting for a lift. I had boasted that hitch hiking was easy the night before, so i guess i was being punished, it took me over 9 hours to do a 3 hour journey.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
piccies of Paulies bus, a 1953 model, converted into the most amazing house with all mod cons and beautiful wood paneled interior, he took a crowd of guys to the beach one day. Also a couple of views of the farm, main porch entrance and small part of the garden that i did some work on.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
photos from my trek in Able tasman national park
the smallest airport in the world, well a small airstrip that services about 20 properties on a private area of land right out in the remote forest.
crossing the freezing cold waters of the estuary at low tide, thigh deep, would have been interesting in the middle of the winter or with a weeks worth of treking gear.
one of many secluded bays of golden sand and water warmer than any of the beaches back home in the UK.