Exploring the Savannah Way

I had two days off work. We decided to go exploring. Further west, along the Savannah Way, the familiar stretch of outback before us… Stopping at Croydon, then onto Normanton, we were welcomed by a purple painted pub! Well if it’s purple, you kind of have to have a drink in it ;-). After a Canadian Club and dry (these Australian drink combinations rub off on me) and some confused banter regarding the ‘mangoes’ and ‘no mangoes’ toilet signs, we found Krys the Savannah King! A replica of the largest saltwater crocodile ever caught in the world. Shot in July 1957 by Krystina Pawlowski, measuring 8.6m, an estimated weight of over 2 tonnes, you certainly wouldn’t want to find yourself in the water with that!! Obligatory photo shots taken of course, we headed onto Karumba.

Eagles and cranes flying alongside and the beautiful open road in front of us, reaching Kurumba, finding the Gulf of Carpentaria, it was pretty cool to get to the western side of the tip of Queensland. Time to relax and have a schooner of beer :-). Hot, and not too keen for a night in a tent, we upgraded our night’s stay to a night in a motel cabin. Enough room to fit a family of four quite comfortably, I would have been pretty content with just a bed and some air con ;-). Sunset over the gulf, dinner and some drinks, it wasn’t too shabby a day off at all! Though just staying for one night, packing minimally, I left half my toiletries… Including my bite cream and my pack of tablets. I should have known better. I ended up with five mozzie bites and a very sore leg that missing ibuprofen couldn’t help… Silly… Some Belgian pills that I had never heard of were taken in good faith and along with a good sleep helped a lot.

Spending the morning in one of Karumba’s main tourist attractions, the ‘Barramundi discovery centre’ we learnt a bit more about the ever popular Australian fish. The name ‘Barramundi’ an aboriginal term, it means “big scale”. We learnt that the Gulf of Carpentaria has five out of the sixteen genetic strains of barramundi. That there’s a distinct difference between Eastern and Western Coast barramundi. That the discovery centre is the only place to breed the southern gulf strain. That the nine day old 9mm ‘baby’ barra are called ‘fry’, then by day 18, named ‘fingerling’. Maturing first as functional male fish, between five and seven years, in the presence of salt water, the males change sex into female barramundi and of the importance of the seasons, in particular of the wet season, in order for these fish to develop. Good to know some facts about Australian ‘barra’ ;-).

A little bit more learned and after one of the hottest chai latte’s I have ever drunk (15 mins and only a third managed she must have actually boiled the milk) we began the 371km journey back. The dry, open road, stopping back in at the purple pub, we took a message from a broken down truck in a mobile reception black hole to the nearest town and also found the remains of a very expensive fridge freezer that had fallen off someone’s truck. The margarine and lasagne still frozen, we knew it hadn’t happened very long ago and that they perhaps had not even realised… Big oops. Clearing it off the road we headed on with sunset colouring the land around us a beautiful muted red with kangaroos bouncing alongside us.

Enjoying exploring as always, posting some job adverts on the way, Ben is now off working on a cattle station. Good effort to him with temperatures in the 40’s this week. I couldn’t do it… More time to myself, I’m trying to use my time to enjoy chilling out, have become quite involved in ‘The Big Adventure‘, I’m making plans for onward journeying and working through my pile of books. Now onto Bill Bryson’s ‘Down Under’, apparently called ‘In a Sunburned Country’ in the rest of the world (perplexing), enjoying his tales, he’s inspired me to travel the Indian Pacific from Perth to Sydney one day. It is certainly a more enjoying read than the lifeboat, even if I don’t agree with his words about Canberra… Should have hired a car mate ;-).

Certainly very hot, plenty of sunshine and warmth to go around, sending some across the miles for a nice warm autumn :-).

Venturing onto Outback Queensland

We drive west. Past mountains, round valleys, we find windmills and cows and funny looking fruit trees. From green to brown to dust to outback Queensland, it’s a really weird feeling to describe how the outback makes you feel… I like it. A lot. Free and expansive, away from the hustle and bustle, the noise of the city empties out of your head… The thought of ‘possibilities’ fills the air… The memories of previous outback experiences become forefront in your mind… Making us both smile, the drive definitely inspired some thinking of our time in Australia and of the variety of previous jobs we’ve held.. For me, thoughts of Renner and of the camels, Ben of his his time spent on cattle stations, fixing swimming pools and working in a roadhouse in NT. Sparking a discussion of our favourites :-).

We reach our destination. A town called Georgetown on the Savannah Way. The biggest town between Cairns and Kurumba (a town in the Gulf of Carpentaria on the other side of the Queensland Coast). Georgetown bigger than Ben expected, but just the size I thought it would be, I did have help google mapping it before leaving Cairns ;-). Back to a familiar view similar to that of Renner, there is a bit more around this time.. A public swimming pool for one! Enjoyed quite a few times, twice it was at 9am to cool down from the heat! Quite warm here (28 degrees at midnight yesterday), it is a thank god for air con situation!! Though it is not so good for my persistent morning cough…

Working a variety of shifts, work split between shop and kitchen, I have tried to be open minded and as willing to learn as possible. It is good to be busy and I am learning new things. A pretty cool way to cook eggs for one! A fried/poached combination…. The process of speed making toasties and how to make the delicious iced coffees on offer here :-). Asked for a ‘shifter’ (wrench to you and me), chat about silkaflex (branded sealant), serving interesting customers as always, selling both a sledgehammer and children’s candy to the same customer made me smile and kids as always melting my heart, I’ve had a nice chat with three kids who had been road tripping for ten months and wanted to know where they were on a map of Australia…

In non working hours, the roadhouse shutting at seven, this is a whole new world to me. The joy of free evenings… Trying to make a dent in the optimistic four book pile I brought with me (now standing at six with some additional book swap titles), finally finishing Mary Poppins (Saving Mr Banks inspired) I am now onto Charlotte Rogan’s ‘The Lifeboat’ (so far yet to like it 122 pages down). Lots of movies and a telly available in the staff accommodation, I’m also slowly working through some items on my watch list… I’ve really enjoyed ‘Hitchcock‘ (note to self: must read Psycho), liked ‘The Family‘, ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty‘ has made me really want to go to Iceland, I’ve finally managed to catch ‘Frozen‘ and I was left a little perplexed by ‘The Butler.’ I would have loved to have known more about the separate administrations…

Banter as always, buying the ingredients before looking first, I had to make pasta bake in a cake tin, I’ve tried my first corn dog (surprisingly quite liked it!), tried pasito (passion fruit soda), found the amazingness of sweet chilli philly cream cheese, learnt how tasty jam donught shots are (chambord, baileys and sugar mmmmmm), ventured out to meet the locals at their annual ball and in the the same night, one of us burnt popcorn, I burnt pizza and Dama set the oven on fire! Oh dear… All safely put out!!

Bonding daily with animal life, kangaroos and crickets are around the most. They frequently take me by surprise jumping around everywhere! Crickets more so than the kangaroos! The geckos as always very friendly, they are a handy insect repellent to have around! I am now used to sharing the external shower with a plethora of insect life. Of course giving my towel a quick check to ensure none of them are attached first! My bug bear though is not with insect life but the many sharp ‘burs’ around… Sharp seeds that lie on the ground. You have to be very careful where you are stepping without any shoes or thongs on!! Not cool!!

Working away and enjoying chilling out together, with so far no work in town for Ben, for sure it is a difficult head/heart pull going on in my head if he’ll have to find it more than 300km away… Hopefully something will swing his way soon… 🙂

Exploring Exmouth

Things that have happened in Exmouth:

  • I found the big Prawn! Exmouth's Big Shrimp!
  • I saw a turtle :-). More than one in fact :-). They might have now overtaken wombats as my favourite…
  • The Drinking challenge living on, I tried a Beez Neez beer. Not too bad at all…
  • I barbecued all by myself. Had barbecued pumpkin. Actual amazing. This will def be happening when I’m back in Scotland!
  • I attained a bottom bunk AND a socket beside my bed. You have no idea how happy this combination made me!
  • I found out what a Queensland Groper is. Don’t panic… It’s a very big fish!
  • As a result of seeing ‘Saving Mister Banks’ I’ve been reading Mary Poppins on kindle. I got to the end of the book and found out there were 5 more… Who knew?! I now have 630 pages to go! Let’s hope it takes me less time than the hobbit on kindle took me to read…!
  • I became part of the ‘Banana prawns’ (self made group name) during the Tuesday night pub quiz at Grace’s Tavern. Surprising ourselves with how well we did in the sport round, how many Australians did we know in the Australian picture round? One. Yes only one. Peter Andre… Extremely worrying ;-).

Exmouth has been interesting… Not at all what I expected (a bit smaller and much more open space), my planned couple of days stop over turned into a week’s stay… Of course as usual timing it well arriving with a Friday/Monday public holiday, with job hunting to be done, I decided to give it some time before rushing north. A coin toss leading to my accommodation of choice, it has led to some interesting characters. EVERYONE I’ve met in Exmouth has been really nice. Two lovely Swedish girls have given me some much needed company. I’ve had a lovely chat about blogging with a nice Australian lass and a Frenchman taking all the penalty points because he thought you won that way during a game of cards provided much banter :-).

The town makes it very easy for you to learn of its story. I’ve found it very interesting to learn of it. Built up around a naval communication station, commissioned as U.S. Naval Communication Station North West Cape in 1967, in 1968 it was renamed in honour of Harold E Holt, a former Australian prime minister who disappeared whilst swimming, presumed dead three months after the station was commissioned. Thirteen VLF towers stand at this station. Built so that the US navy could communicate with submerged submarines in the Indian and West Pacific Oceans. Not appearing too tall by sight, driving past them on the wide open land they stand on, the biggest (Tower Zero) is in fact bigger than both the Sydney and Eiffel Towers and is the second tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere. There is also a shipwreck of the SS Mildura, which sits on the northernmost coast. Its wreck put some interesting consequences into action. Hitting the reef on the 8th March 1907, not badly damaged but unfortunately for its cattle bearing load who all died, it put the north west cape on the state government’s priority list for locations for lighthouses the night before the list of recommendations were due to be made.

 

Exploring the town’s bounds mainly on foot, encountering a small square town centre, a slightly inflatingly priced IGA, a beach originally known as ‘town beach’ and a marina for all things ‘boat’ related, what really sells the area is the nearby Cape Range national park. More easily accessible if you have a car, funnily enough with a plethora of car hire facilities in town, after a week, I decided it was worth exploring a little further afield. Especially with instinct telling me to move onto Broome… Enjoying some Swedish company, spending time in Yardie Creek (quite a creek crossing!), Sandy Bay, Turquoise Bay, Vlamingh Head lighthouse and seeing the SS Mildura wreck at low tide, it was good to explore the area. Also adding a boat to ways of exploring Exmouth, one of the glass bottomed variety allowed me to finally see a turtle! Much variety, pretty colours, learning of different types of coral, exploring the Ningaloo Reef from a different perspective was really good 🙂

Hearing that Exmouth has had a bit of a tough time in the media recently due to flash floods (ok some roads in the national park are damaged), by no means has the whole town been washed away. The area looking, I believe, uncharacteristically very green, it offers an interesting visual contrast to Exmouth’s red rock background. Exmouth is definitely worth a stop on a road trip of the west coast. My guide book tells me it apparently attains 320 days of sunshine a year…! That is most definitely a pretty good bet for a nice day ;-). Glad I swung up this way, the people I’ve met and the banter we’ve had together have made it even better :-). Til next time :-).

Sunshine, Sushi and Easter Fireworks

Latest realisations:

  • I really really want to eat my dad's homemade curry and a roast beef dinner. Perhaps not at the same time though…
  • That I am now calling trousers 'pants'… A little worrying for what I might say in error when I get home…
  • That apparently speaking English in a native English speaking country does not help people understand you…
  • That it's a bad ratio when your umbrella gets used more than your sunscreen…
  • I now click Australia as my home for anything I book online…
  • How much I love sunshine… 5 whole days of uninterrupted sunshine… Thank you Sydney. It has been most nice to have a break from the rain!!
  • I chose the wrong month to temp in the public sector… Two public holidays for Easter plus one for Anzac Day does not a full week of work make…

Yes Easter public holidays. Holidays that everyone who is working looks forward to and anyone working on a temporary basis wants to work… Gaining a higher base wage here as a temp in contrast to back home, here there is no holiday accrual. Back home, I had holiday accrual but a low wage… Obviously wanting to be working as many days as possible, by the time Thursday rolled round I was actually quite thankful I had a day off!!!

Making good use of these days off, throwing myself into exploring the city, spending more time with Sarah, we tried out a sushi restaurant called Kura Kura. With iPads on hand to aid the ordering process, I did my best to introduce Sarah to sushi and sashimi. Sushi a hit, sashimi not so much… A dangerous process of just tapping what you want, it was very speedy and efficient. I know for sure my sister would like the button that said 'request bill' :-). Ending our night with frozen yoghurt, I tried sweet potato yoghurt for the first time… Not too bad at all…

The sun appearing as if by magic, Sarah suggested a scenic walk that runs from Manly beach in the north to middle harbour near harbour bridge. Taking the ferry from circular quay, it was nice to appreciate Sydney's skyline in the sunshine :-). Powering up on lunch beside the sea, we were welcomed onto the 9km walk by a penguin… ;-). The walk curving along the Coast, we watched families out enjoying themselves, many people walking the track (albeit in the opposite direction which we later realised was because William and Kate were heading to Manly that afternoon!) and lots and lots of water and blue sky.

The signs causing no end of banter, we noted that we were prohibited from playing golf on the first section, then nude bathing on the second (presumably meaning we could have at the first?!) and a sign informing we that we shouldn't swim after a lot of heavy rain as it washes pollution to the shore… Fair enough. Our tired legs finishing the walk, we rewarded ourselves with a pint of cider in the Edinburgh Castle Hotel bar. Fittingly of course with missing George's, we recorded him a video. This still makes me laugh when I watch it back :-). Sarah unfortunately leaving the next day, wishing her well with her onward journey up the east coast, I think we really enjoyed each other's company :-). It was awesome to spend time with someone who you can properly talk to beyond the usual polite 'how long have you been in Australia' chat… I am very much looking forward to the Sarah, George and Jane renunion in the UK…


On a recommendation from my colleagues, I ventured to the royal Easter show with a friend from my hostel. Tickets costing $38.50 including transport to and from the regenerated Olympic Park we made sure to get our money's worth… Especially after Granma's kitchen charged us $5 for a 450ml bottle of coke… $5… Actual madness. Many agricultural stalls, food, animals and fayre rides, there were also shows on throughout the day. We both got very involved in the Australia vs New Zealand wood chopping relay… Very competitive and strangely compelling!!! Wow.

Enjoying a rodeo and a celebration of 'Australia', we were treated to a more than life size Dame Edna, Vegemite dancing to Kylie, some awesome moto tricks, an uplifting standing ovation for Olympic gold medalist swimmer Dawn Fraser and Ned Kelly dressed as Sidney Nolan. Yes really! Finishing the night with some awesome fireworks, having been not sure whether to go at all, I am really glad I did. It was an awesome way to spend Easter.

Banter of course, here are just some of the things we noted during the 9 hours we spent there:

  • There are some very pretty looking chickens. There are also some unfortunately not so pretty, very scary looking ones… One genuinely looked like predator!
  • That a man trying to fish in a tank of water filled with barramundi probably has a pretty big chance of catching a fish…
  • Parents really do need to watch their children at all times. We watched a child in the sheep pen pick up a chain and put it round his neck… Hmmm.
  • Lots of ducks and lots of hay in their cages I asked Zak what ducks ate… His response? Bread…
  • New South Wales farmers apparently produce the highest proportion of eggs in Australia
  • Cows apparently get haircuts…
  • Corn is very popular at the Easter show. Lots of corn on the cob and corn dogs, I will really have to try a corn dog some point…
  • New South Wales apparently has drinking measures called a schmiddy (halfway between middy and schooner (half pint and 3/4 pint to those back home!)) and a pony (140ml). We wondered if anybody ever genuinely walks into a bar and asks for a pony…
  • They make most of their money on soft drinks… $5 for a 450ml bottle of coke. About £3.50 my friends… I still remember the days of 79p bottles and two for £1…
  • Olympic Park holds spotless stadium. Its name, not an adjective of its condition…
  • Despite watching for an hour we still have absolutely no idea how the scores of a rodeo work…

My weekend not done quite yet, I also managed Sydney's Westfield tower. Meeting a friend I met working at the roadhouse and her sister, we looked out over Sydney's bounds. Not quite as impressive as Melbourne's eureka tower, I don't think we were high enough to see beyond the realms of Sydney's suburbs. It is a very vast, sprawling city. Always good to view a city from many perspectives though my heads up for this attraction is to book it online… You can save up to $8 off general admission and $14 for a skywalk.

Also enjoying book reading, firing through books at many a pace here (heavy, I am determined to read all the ones I've been carrying and revert to kindle), opening my next choice, 'A fortune teller told me', a very nice message on the inside cover made me smile.

Messages of travels...

I really really like that this book has a story attached… It reminds of my own unforgettable adventures. I really hope that their paths did cross again.

Post weekend, experiencing some pretty ridiculous mood shifts, feeling a bit in limbo and momentarily stuck I was nearly tempted to just get on a plane to Broome. Crying proper huge silent tears on Tuesday, just wanting to lie in bed and feel sorry for myself, I walked into my dorm to find the loveliest Irish lass who in the space of 5 minutes turned me from flying out of Sydney the next day to happy and contended again :-). Bonding bizarrely over shared experiences with powdery mildew, I actually love this girl. We’ve just clicked :-). Between her and some other awesome hostel friends, they have made me content to spend another couple of weeks here and and to find new work before I move. Finding words on a blog called 'Yoga to be kidding' they reminded that at times it is important to be still on your journey… That it is important not to be overwhelmed… Exactly how I felt when I arrived back into Sydney… A different, slower pace is sometimes important, facilitating the achievement of different goals. Achieving book reading, lightening my load, making new friends, catching up with old ones and also immersing myself in city culture, Sydney certainly has offered a different experience… It is though, still getting pretty close to needing to move on… Soon…

Til next time… 😉

A view of Harbour Bridge by Daily Commute

The view of Harbour Bridge from the train on a usual Sydney overcast day

My feet walk. They wait at the traffic lights to cross. Down stairs, through central station's tunnels, joining the herds of feet pounding the ground, the musician of the day's choice of music fills the walls as I walk. I pass through the barriers awaiting my train. The same platform everyday, speeding away from central station, we cross harbour bridge, looking back on its gaze. Sydney harbour the view to my left; the opera house is to my right. Sometimes I forget to look, other times too busy, on others the return journey reminds. Every day I think wow, how cool that I get to cross harbour bridge with my daily commute!

Central Station's tunnels...

Yes the word commute. Back in Sydney, it surprised me with several potential job offers… Offered one by a recruitment agency first, starting the next day, not having worked for six months and in need of money I said yes. Providing administrative support to a local council, learning new things and with familiar systems to back home, joining a friendly team, it is very much reminding of my job before I left Scotland. Not wanting to spend too much money or gain too much weight (my trousers are a little tighter than when I bought them in Sydney in January!) I have fallen easily back into the healthyness I had at work before leaving Scotland and with salads, fruits and nuts making up my day, my body is appreciating being healthy again. Office banter of course, learning that toasties are referred to as 'jaffles' here and hence jaffle makers instead of toastie machines, I have been also asked about my Australian travels, about Scotland, Scottish 'soccer' and all about Scottish independence. I gave a very diplomatic, balanced response ;-).

Back in a hostel (thought it might be nice to be in the company of lots of people), choosing a smaller, quieter place I ended up in the first twin dorm that I've slept in on my travels. Certainly different from a 10 bed mixed dorm, it reminds that they all have their pros and their cons :-). Seemingly not making too bad a choice with this hostel, I am quite enjoying the cosyness and being able to sit on a sofa and watch telly. Meeting an interesting, friendly bunch of people, including an Italian I helped make pizza (!), with a cool atmosphere I ended up extending my initial two day stay to two weeks… Still there as we speak, toying between finding a room in a flat or something else, for sure this hostel is one of the favourites on my travels.

The pressure of job hunting removed, able to chill out by myself, exploring, venturing to paddington market – most quirky; I found some nice little trinkets. I recommend if you're looking for jewellery and 'something different'. Enjoying Maria Vantsos's pictures, I absolutely loved Vetro e Metallo's copper necklaces :-). So much that I bought a customised one :-). Also spending time people watching in Hyde park and Centennial park, I found a pretty good view of the city.

Venturing to see Noah on cheap cinema day, hmmm, I’m not too sure about it at all. A missed opportunity with the animals entering the ark for sure, not finding it the happiest of films, it certainly made me look at the parable of Noah in a different light… In books, Dracula finally put to rest, concluding that it would be interesting for him to meet the cast of twilight, true blood or vampire diaries, I found the dice man in the hostel book swap which has been on my list for a while. An interesting book… Not what I expected at all. Finding the first 200 pages whilst filled with some crazy dice options very readable, the next 200, not so much… What a trudge to the end… Why so long? Definitely good to roll the dice for some decisions for sure, for everything just seems a bit stupid… Not one of my favourite reads on my travels…

Staying here for a couple of weeks to get a feel for working in the city, with somewhat itchy feet as always, conscious it will get cooler here, I'm in the process of making plans for Cairns to be the next stop on the journey. Until then…

The Last Leg of the Road Trip

It has been a most interesting couple of weeks since leaving Canberra… Busy, seeing a lot, much banter has of course occurred. To share some of the madness, here is a snapshot of what we’ve been up to…

  • I’ve broken one of Ben’s records… The number of days he has spent in a city whilst he’s been in Australia… What did I break it with?! Four days! A country boy at heart telling him that I was just starting to like Canberra he said that he was feeling like he needed to leave… I am most proud of this record break :-).
  • We spent two nights in Deua National Park. Arriving by sunset then darkness, moon and stars, the familiar shape of a wombat walking along the side of the road got me out of the car to admire its cuteness! A campground all to ourselves and with another wombat to keep us company, resourcefully cooling our alcohol in the river, we had some lovely chilled out days here :-).
  • On the morning of day three we tried to start the car…. Found ourselves a flat battery… I walked to the top of the road and anticipating a long wait took Dracula with me (I know, I still haven’t managed to finish it…!) No cars were to be seen or heard… Knowing the ranger was the last person we saw four hours ago who may not have been a ranger at all for all we knew, the beginnings of a plot of a horror movie rang panic in my head… The wait began at 12.32… At 13.24 the rumblings of a car were heard in the east. They rumbled closer. A man in a very nice jeep appeared. He gave us a jump. Quicker than anticipated, I was only just starting to get back into my book… Much gratitude :-).
  • A group message from Scotland pertaining to wombats and thongs in the outback has kept me in a good mood and made me laugh a lot 🙂
  • We spent a couple of nights in a nice little town called Moruya. Met by a woman called Jane (a good start in most cases 😉 ), she is one of the friendliest receptionists we have encountered :-). Settling our little tent down for the night, we were most definitely usurped by a king of the road pulled by a truck! Thought we’d seen it all, a couple of hours later I found another one just reversing beside our tent! Em, keep to the caravan sites if you please ;-). Swanky swanky. A sure case of TV Burp's 'fight' if ever I saw it…! Finding the driver’s wallet the next morning beside our tent filled with approximately $500 I played the good citizen card and returned to him. Me and Ben both agreed that the man in our neighbouring tent who watched the reversing RV shouting ‘are you serious’ and who kept uttering 'kill it' referring to a barking dog from one of the other sites perhaps might not have been quite as helpful…
  • We went veggie oil hunting in Moruya. Obtaining two drums from the cafe we had lunch in, the third place we tried – cafe on Vulcan told us he uses animal fat… Perhaps not to consider if you are a vegetarian or vegan and they tell you the chips are vegetarian/vegan friendly…!
  • We enjoyed a very nice beach and some very friendly animals in Mimosa Rocks National Park. I also enjoyed my first hammock experience :-).
  • Can all mammals swim? This is a debate that has been had as well as money nearly being placed on the right answer… Madness.
  • We spent a rainy afternoon watching the TV series ‘Black Books‘. Gifting it to my sister but never watching it myself I really enjoyed it! :-). Though Ben did try to get me to watch it by telling me there was a Scottish person in it… Telling him I was pretty sure Dylan Moran was Irish it took until it started playing for him to believe me…! That old scotland vs Ireland debate again…! 😉
  • We spent a terrible night in Wonboyne caravan park… Offered a piece of concrete (how do you pitch a tent on concrete?!), at the end of a road, no privacy at all, asking to move to a different spot the response we encountered was just ‘no’… That’s customer service for you… It is one of the worst night’s sleeps I’ve had on the road trip…
  • Making spaghetti bolognese in a caravan park that has apparently gained some overly friendly animals we can only assume through many people feeding them I came face to face with a big kangaroo buck. Finding most kangaroos encountered in the wild pretty friendly when a big buck is face to face with you this is a pretty scary moment. I looked at it. In confused exasperation I reminded it it was a herbivore, said it wouldn’t like turkey mince and with Ben’s third attempt of a tap on its nose it finally bounded to the other side of the road… Little bit scary!!!
  • Reaching the New South Wales/Victoria border we decided to return to Sydney through the snowy mountains. Comprised of the Snowy river, Koscuiszko and the Alpine national parks it is pretty spectacular scenery. Reminding of Scotland (could easily have been sitting in the Cairngorms or Boat of Garten), finding the highest point of Australia (Mt Koscuiszko) we also found frying pan road (I wonder how many tourists have a frying pan to hand ;-)) and a big trout. Admittedly not a lot of snow to be seen, both Ben and I would like to go back in the winter.
  • Whilst in the snowy mountains we pitched up at yachtsman’s point. Lots of space, a beautiful lake with kangaroos bounding about, we sat and enjoyed the scenery. I may or may not have finished the bottle of Tia Maria I bought in Moruya… It was the latest we have ever assembled the tent… Waking in the morning, watching two emu’s walk past the lake our view went from beautifully scenic to caught in the middle of a storm… This picture does not capture the ferocity of the weather. Very very heavy rain and a pretty intense wind, we were both sure the tent was going to crumble under the pressure… Ben bracing from outside and me from inside it withstood the worst of it and emerged unscathed. C’mon the aldi tents!
  • We stopped in at Yarrangobilly caves and made use of their thermal pool. A steep half a kilometre track down and back up and not quite as warm as either of us was expecting, it was still a very scenic spot for a pool 🙂
  • I attempted to make scrambled eggs in a pan that was definitely not non stick. Stuck to the pan and the plastic tool of choice starting to melt, it smelt so much like what we gave the chickens on the chicken farm that I couldn’t eat it… Ben ate all 7 eggs then I fried another two which was much better :-). How to get rid of 9 eggs in half a hour…!! Madness!!
  • Being sure to cover all mainland states and territories no matter how anomalous they are, we enjoyed some time in Jervis Bay on the east Coast. The bearer of the whitest sand in the world apparently! I managed to read 200 pages of my book (a small miracle) and got scared out of my skin when a man walked behind me on the beach and said good evening…!!! Why walk behind?! Wide berth in front please. Too engrossed in my book, in my surprise the only reply I could manage was ‘fucking hell’. Apologies…
  • Owing to Dracula, I’ve learnt of ‘don’t buy a pig in a poke’ and thanks to Wikipedia also of its European equivalents… Attributed to the Scottish in the book, aware of the metaphor, I had never heard that turn of phrase before. Have you?
  • Swinging back through Gosford to gratefully return the car I learnt that wild turkey, wine and cider does not go so well together… Telling Ben that I needed irn bru to fix my head the next morning it wasn’t until a day and half later in Sydney that I was able to source some. It was actually amazing! Better than I remember it ;-). Loving the import aisle in Coles :-).
  • Spending a couple of days in Sydney before Ben unfortunately has to go home we made it to Bondi Beach (a little underwhelmed. Much smaller than I imagined and have seen much prettier beaches), enjoyed Tracks at the cinema and tried some new Mexican food of gorditas and chickpea patatas – they were most tasty :-).


Not done a lot eh? 😉 Eight weeks after it began, 7114km later, spending only $100 on diesel the road trip has unfortunately come to an end… Throwing a message in a bottle into the water just cos we can and after a sad goodbye at the airport, I have sent Ben on a new adventure asking him to say hello to the UK for me when he travels through Heathrow. I’m going to really miss his company. It has been most fun. I hope we can have mark 2 in Europe one day…