A Last Word on Australia…

The plane climbs through the sky… The last of nine plane journeys  in the last month… Out of my window I see a full moon in the sky. Watch the meandering route of lights below. Veering to the right, the plane turns, Scotland bound… Finally heading home after a very busy six weeks, granted a minute all to myself, I reflected on my travels since leaving Georgetown and following Australia’s eastern bounds.

First Townsville with its beautiful coast, funky chairs, foaming fountains, turtles and Reef HQ, learning about coral spawning, clownfish sex changes and being back in the big city after two months of outback Queensland. The slightly disappointing Magnetic Island. Though perhaps a hire car would have been more efficient than our choice of the public bus service for exploration of this island… Stumbling across the big mango ;-). For if it’s big, one has to stop and a picture has to be made :-). Sailing around the beautiful whitsunday islands. Circumnavigating the biggest of the 72 islands that comprise the whitsunday archipelago, we saw the only two that Captain Cook decided to name. With jellyfish in season, stinger suits were an addition to our swim to the shore of Whitehaven beach! Very colourful ;-). Relaxing in the beautiful Airlie Beach lagoon; exploring the quirky Mackay, we enjoyed a very tasty breakfast in a café belonging to ‘Oscar’.

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To then driving the beautiful Capricorn Coast. Horses and dogs enjoying the water, I stood on the beach and got sandy feet :-). The town of Yepoon’s quirky shops and sandy edges drew us in for lunch and a wander. Very nice spot :-). On through Rockhampton, we diverged from the plan to see Agnes Water and the town of 1770, the second mainland point of Australia Captain Cook found. Beautiful sunset it was. Onto Bundaberg, the beautiful Botanical gardens were where we found turtles and dragons :-). Its rum distillery our next stop, a little more of the wise of the process, some tastings were enjoyed. A bottle of Royal Liquer rum may have left with me as well ;-).

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Hervey Bay keeping us only for one night, there was not much time to explore… Over 40 degrees in the tent at 7am, it was one of the earliest rises of the road trip! Then with a change of height, it was onto Rainbow Beach for a bit of skydiving! 😉 Absolutely amazing. A beautiful return from 14,000ft :-). One of my favourite days in Australia without a doubt :-). To then day tripping the beautiful world heritage listed Fraser Island. A very tasty rainbow breakfast, a few hours stop in Noosa, then Cotton Tree caravan park hosting us for the last night of the road trip. Right by the beach, loved this camping spot. One of my favourites. A great last night of the roadtrip though my last time on a beach in Australia was a little bit emotional… I will really really miss my happy place. Onward bound, the road finding us Nambour’s big pineapple, the pretty glasshouse mountains (also named by Captain Cook) took us to our journey’s end in Brisbane, before heading onto Thailand for two weeks.

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It has been an absolutely unbelievable adventure in Australia :-). The so many different experiences that I was able to learn from. The diversity of places and scenery I was able to appreciate. The amazingly diverse collection of people I met. How so many of them opened my eyes or helped me let go. Each helping on various stages of the journey. The travel bug it has now infected me with and this new longing to see a new place placed inside of me. An embracing of having choices and being able to make changes and of how to create your own happiness. It is so cliché but it’s true. I am so thankful that I decided to go. Even more so for all the help I had from many in making choices along the way. A few that led to amazing times after the not so good times… Contributing to an awesome journey full of life lessons and so many happy memories. Blogging for sure a big part of this, at times a very tumultuous task and not always so easy, it has been quite a journey in itself. One I’m glad I persisted with and am sure I will look back on with fondness. The support and continued readership much appreciated, I have loved sharing my thoughts and journey with you and hopefully shown you a little bit of Australia ;-).

Now back in Scotland with the weather making me miss Australia a lot, a globe that I bought spins on its base and makes a comforting, noise as it does. It reassuringly feels like it is ticking down to my next adventure… Back to another juncture in life, I am going to take a little bit of time to plan the next steps and make sure it is what is right. Perhaps bloggable, perhaps not, I may not post for quite a while. Perhaps the next will have a new tab on the page next to ‘Australia’. Can’t wait 😉 xx

For now, some pictures from adventuring in Thailand:

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“And precious as the tear as that rain from the sky, which turns into pearls as it falls in the sea…”

A quote, so spoken by Thomas Moore which sits on a memorial in honour of the contribution of women to the pearling industry. For Broome is well known for its pearling industry. An industry using so many Asian workers they gained an exclusion from the 1901 Immigration Restriction Act. Many pearl shops fill the town centre, as well as a pearling museum and museum telling of Broome's history. The museum told of hard work on the part of pearl divers as well as of sadness and death. The largest Japanese cemetry in Australia sits in Broome, commemorating the efforts of the so many Japanese who died.

Broome itself is not how I pictured it at all. A bit of an L shaped, traffic-lightless city with lots of roundabouts, day by day it grows on me a little bit more. Colours predominantly of red and green, with the long Cable Beach Coast, the yellowness of sunshine by day nearly always starts me in a good mood for my day. Sunset varying from orange to pink to purple and more, every day I walk away from the beach thinking it's pretty cool I get to end my working day on a beach by sunset!

Synonymous with the picture of Broome portrayed, I have managed to see Broome's 'staircase to the moon'. A very red phenomenon as the moon breaks the horizon, rising and allowing a reflection, an orange hue emanates from the staircase reaching up to it. On my bucket list for a long time, only occurring at full moon and low tide, it can't be seen all the time… Impressed, my picture of it does not reflect exactly what it looks like to the naked eye…

I think I need a better camera...

I think I need a better camera…

I particularly like the account and images on Linda McCormick’s blog :-).

Broome's stars a main feature, I have been enjoying their company as well as them bearing witness to my first fishing efforts!! Casting off from port, unfortunately I did not catch anything… Then joining in with the blues and maroons in the pub, I watched my first NRL State of Origin game. A Queensland vs New South Wales rugby style game, what a violent game it was! Got fair into it though! ;-). Good effort New South Wales. Then a new thing you might be surprised with, I have added camel to new foods I've tried…! :-o. It has been on my list of things to try since I got to Broome and I had to do it before I got too attached! Eating a camel burger and finding the burger not too bad at all I did conclude that I think I prefer them alive and with fur… They are slowly catching up on wombats and turtles as one of my favourite Australian animals ;-). I swear one winked at me…! Making it hard to pick a favourite…

Spending my time becoming a bit of a Pinterest addict (actually love it), back to playing the old guessing game of where you come from, gaining a new skill of knowing body weights by sight (there is a weight restriction for the camels), the world for me has now been split into two groups – those able to ride a camel and those that definitely cannot…! Who says this won’t be a useful skill in different circumstances ;-). Moved into a new hostel with an interesting layout (a partitioned 24 bed dorm split into four 6’s sold as a 6 bed dorm), breaking my backpack (Lotti where are you? Please come help as you did in Katherine last year) I'm not sure whether to attempt to fix it or buy a cheap suitcase… We’ll see… Til next time… Camel-ing on 😉

Captain Robert James Meade

Today, I woke up in a pretty unhappy mood. Unsure of a direction, my head was battling between logic and reason or whether a change would be good… Having had this feeling a couple of times previously on my travels, I decided the first thing to do was to fuel up on nutrition and buy some fruit from the supermarket (I find a full stomach is more conducive for a sound mind). My feet then wandered Fremantle's pathways. Unsurprisingly they took me to the water. The power of the waves and the water should not be underestimated. A hot day, I sought shade under the boardwalk. I noticed a man sitting at the end. I lay down and shut my eyes…

He started to talk to me. He asked where I was from. “Scotland” I said. “I've been there” he said. He wanted to know more about it. I told him of our cities, the people and spoke of whisky and haggis. He told me he'd been in the navy and the army. That he sailed into Aberdeen. That he slept with a barmaid there called Mary! He spoke of flying war planes. He told me he did a bad thing; that he missed a target… That he dropped a bomb on a church instead of an army base in Croatia. That he didn't realise until after he landed. He shed a tear as he spoke of this tale. He was only 17 when it happened. He spoke of his friends in Scotland. That are now gone away. That out of five of his friends that left Australia, only two returned. He was one of them. Shot three times, he also had a bad knee.

Throughout our conversation he called me Scotty. He told me his name was Robert James Meade. He called himself 'Captain'. He politely answered my questions with a 'yes ma'am' or a 'no ma'am'. Similarly to me he sometimes uttered a 'whaaaat' and quite a few 'aww man's'. These made me smile. We talked about Perth and about the water. Sitting on bathers beach, he told me it is his favourite beach. He pointed out the lighthouse. I told him I'd walked to this previously. I asked if he knew the lighthouse's signal. He did. We spoke of sunsets and sunrises and agreed that if you managed to see one its usually been a good day :-). We spoke about respect and being nice. He said “if you love someone treat them with respect.” “If they don't respect you does that mean they don't love you?” I asked back. “That's right. They no good” he responded. I asked whether I should stay in Perth or try Sydney. He told me I would work it out and then added that I shouldn't worry so much.

I left him on the beach, walked to harbour's end, sat atop a rock and wrote about him. I was actually about to give up blogging for a while… This man inspired me to write. To share his story. I went and got some fish and chips. I had promised to watch the sunset with him. The sun was below the horizon by the time I got back but it was still nice and pink. I hope that was enough… I said thank you to him. That he had inspired me to write. He asked me not to forget him. I definitely won't.

I have no idea if his story is true or whether only parts of it are but it certainly provided me with an interesting afternoon. A story that certainly puts travelling dilemmas into perspective. I loved playing tell me your story. I love meeting new people with new stories. I could have sat anywhere else on the beach and would have missed this tale. This man not only entertained me, but with the combined help of the waves and the water relaxed me and helped me find my happy place. This feeling has made me decide to stay in Perth. Thank you Captain Meade :-).

 

 

Travel Theme: Simplicity

With a new travel theme of ‘simplicity‘ and some time to look at my many photos, finding a variety of shots spanning Australia, this is my take on the theme.

A contrast of little and large, taken on Stradbroke Island in Queensland, this day is one of my favourites in Australia.

This was an unwelcome ant that wanted the same when picking seeds on Kangaroo island and an Emu popping up to say hello in Victoria :-).

Some pelicans having a rest near Kangaroo Island and looking out on Cape Otway's lighthouse on the Great Ocean Road, representing peaceful travelling times.

Finally, a last two from my previous destination, capturing new growth of a zucchini plant and watching a fire burn on Territory Day in Katherine, Northern Territory. It is the only day those living in the territory can set off fireworks. Fire reminds you of how small and insignificant you can be sometimes :-).

Have a look at 'Where’s my backpack‘ for others’ interpretations :-).

Inspiration at Sunset in Mindil

Bag fixed. Check.

Clothes left and rucksack packed better. Check. Still as heavy. Check.

Leaving Darwin with significantly more mozzie bites than I arrived with. Check.

Achieving nearly everything I wanted to achieve in the five day window I gave myself (save for putting photos on fb… Sorry Tassie companions, I wish I’d brought a small laptop rather than a tablet!) I spent my last day wandering. Little lion man now a Darwin song, Mumford & Sons was my chosen playlist whilst my feet guided me around the city. Following them to the WWII oil storage attraction I learnt how these had been built but never actually used to store oil…

Botanics on the brain, I jumped on a bus along the way. Not finding a lot (might just have been my chosen path) the sun nearing setting time, I wandered to Mindil Beach. Today marking six months since entering Australia, I realised that leaving the UK was more of a milestone. Sat on the beach I found my inspiration.

Back in the hostel, maxed out on the German and Estonian my roommates were speaking, I used time to touch base and update others of my journey. Fathers Day not til September here, some electronic help was necessary to tick that off the list! With a very noisy roommate who was apparently unaware that there were three people trying to sleep, I was left speechless when she started doing sit up’s at 11pm, huffing and puffing away… I appreciate backpackers need to keep in shape but at 11pm? Really?! The mind boggles. Waking early, sending more mementos on their own journey around the world, repacked and ready, with an aim to finally finish my book, it is off to Katherine I go…!

Sand

Sand

Sand encasing my legs, it comforts me. My flip flops off, I dig my feet into the sand. I make a shape in the sand. Alone on the beach, I watch the sunset. I stay until it is dark. Sailing ships, sitting dogs, a lone backpacker walks the edge of the water. This makes me think of my own journey. A six month one so far, a lot has been achieved. Some found, others lost, many gains, many a lesson has been learnt. Many practical, some emotional ones have been broken. I have loved learning these lessons. Alone but not lonely, I love what travelling lets you feel. I turn to go. I see the stars. I start to walk, happy in myself.