Sunset, Sand and Camels

What a week!! The day I left Exmouth I was offered a job near Darwin, working in Kakadu National Park. Somewhere I've not been yet and very much want to go… The first job offer in two weeks of looking, it was hard to know whether this was a helping hand reaching out… A hand, however, that would require credit card finances to reach with repayment from my first week's wages… Not starting for ten days, it was a bit of a tricky decision… A friend pointed out that I may as well say yes then pursue other options… Excellent point! Guided by a rainbow, I decided it was worth giving Broome a try. Not wanting to get to Darwin just yet, wanting to take my time driving and to just 'be' for a while, a friend made working in the roadhouse last year very gratefully gave me her sofa :-). Taking very good care of me including a roast dinner, pancakes and the loan of an ear, I am most enjoying her company :-).

Me and the amazing Sam

The obligatory CV walk carried out, I happened to get lucky…! I walked into a place just as someone was leaving… Obtaining a trial, I found myself a job!! I'm now working for a company that operates camel rides along Cable Beach. One of the things Broome is famous for. I love my new place of work :-). My first day involved a free camel ride and a free picture!

A.m.a.z.i.n.g. Undoubtedly the best first day of a job ever!!! A policy of trying to do things I can't do in the UK, I think this might top the list ;-). I love feeling the sand beneath my feet every day… There’s something very grounding about working in bare feet. Seeing the sunset as we pack away… Feeling that hopefully, just maybe, I helped someone make some new memories that day :-). Brace yourselves for the camel related banter to come ;-).

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 :-).

A 4 Day Adventure from Perth to Monkey Mia

Press PLAY. This is has accompanied me for the last 4 days so should accompany you as you read :-).

Knowing I can stay in Australia another year, I left Perth in a positive and happy frame of mind. If a little sleep deprived from late onward planning the night before…! I stick with my policy of not knowing what my tour is all about… All well and good until I realised my bikini was in the middle of my backpack… As was my bite relief cream… Both needed halfway through day 1, some rearranging was necessary. Driving north, the landscape changes as we pass through it. From bush, to farmland, to plains surrounded by steep surrounds. The further north we trudge, the redder the soil becomes.

Day 1

The first stop allows us to try sand boarding. White, white sand and a little bit windy, we have fun in the dunes and start to get to know the thirteen strong group. Onto Nambung National Park, we walk the Pinnacles Desert. We find many many flies. And a Christmas tree. An Australian one. So named because it flowers during Christmas. We play speed dating. We find the sea. We venture on. I get robbed blind in a western australian roadhouse! We reach Pink Lake at sunset. Beautifully pink, the reflection is amazing. We reach Kalbarri. There is banter over two Italians cooking a stir fry on a barbecue! A long day, it was an early night.

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Day 2

I awake at 5.45am feeling rested. We abseil Kalbarri National Park. The guide has some interesting distraction techniques! We walk the gorge. We find out orange skins are not a kangaroo’s favourite food. We look through Nature’s Window. There is laughter over our guide being asked if she is French. She is not. A hot day, we cool off in the pool. There is banter over chickens and sharks in the pool. We reach Shark Bay. We find stromatolites. And a rainbow. We pass an electric fence marking the peninsula boundary. A barking dog keeps predators out. This dog is not real. We see sunset over the water. It is amazing. I pass on the feet banter. I capture the first double foot shot. Some quiet time on the bus, I make a list of things I want to achieve in 2014. We reach Francois Peron National Park. We relax in a hot tub under the stars. On reaching our accommodation I am the only one to understand an Irish boy. He then asks where in Ireland I’m from…!

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Day 3

I awake to some quotes fitting the day perfectly from blogs I follow. We pass through Denham, the most westerly town in Australia. We arrive into Monkey Mia. We are asked not to put sunscreen on our legs so as not to to damage the dolphin’s eyes. We wait. Then wait more. Dolphins arrive! They get fed. Many photos get taken. We swim in the water. We find a little lagoon and the 26th parallel. Our feet arrive in eagle bluff. It becomes one of my favourite places so far. Many shells and a stingray get found on Shell Beach. We stop in the wheat belt. Some tour members, including our guide, climb on the bus. The nurse in the group exclaims ‘I am not a nurse!’ Much laughter occurs. We reach our Farmstay. We play ‘ping pong’. We do yoga. Laughter over earthquakes and ass quakes ends the day :-).

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Day 4

We awake on the last day. The principality of Hutt River, a micro nation within Australia is our first stop. We get stamps in our passports. I meet a Prince. I find a nice quote. The Australian in the group is asked how many countries she has visited this year. The answer none, she is congratulated on her first international trip!! We reach Greenhough Wildlife Park. I see my first bobtail. Everyone excited about kangaroos makes me appreciate waking up to them and other wildlife in outback Australia. Much banter occurs on the bus with a carrot and people sleeping! I receive a video of Scotland singing the national anthem at a rugby game. I smile. I replay. I realise I have deleted an entire SD card worth of photos. I hope they are backed up! We reach Perth. We say goodbye and wish each other happy onward travels :-).

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These things can be driven easily but it’s always the people that you meet along the way sharing their stories that make it fun. One tour companion had been evacuated from the Phillipines a week ago, another’s dream was to be a sheep farmer in Australia, another I met had six sisters, five brothers and 83 aunts, uncles and cousins! I loved learning their stories. Sharing their company :-). Enjoying their banter. I can’t wait to see the rest of the west coast. Maybe just when it’s a little bit cooler..! 🙂

Footprints In Perth

Perth is filled with a lot of character. There is a cultural centre housing a library, art galleries, museums and the all important free wifi. There is a lane called London Court depicting London in Elizabethan times. The city is surrounded by water. The Swan River and the Canning River meet and provide a very wet background! Two hundred and forty two steps lead up Jacob's Ladder to the city's most impressive attraction – Kings Park. Many joggers run up and down these and through the park. The view from Mt Eliza is pretty impressive. Housing the Botanical gardens, a war memorial, an elevated walkway and a garden filled with words and space for reflection and quiet time away from the city, there is plenty to do apart from jog :-).

My feet, now no longer farm bound have been exploring the city. They have taken me to apparently the only place to meet here – a big cactus sculpture on the edge of the main square in the city. To a food festival and an impromptu pub crawl with an English friend. They wandered Kings Park on Remembrance Day. They ambled through a day of culture exploring the Museum of Western Australia and some free cathedrals. They found Peter Pan in Perth's Queens Gardens! They found a very naked statue on Heirisson Island! They walked through the city at 6.30pm on a Saturday night. With shorter licensing laws in Western Australia, people apparently head out early. Dressed up ready to go out, there were quite some outfits to behold. A lot of tight leather! Left astounded on more than one occasion, is it my age?! Have I been working in regional Australia for too long?!

Whilst here, I have managed to finish an entire book in 2 days. An actual record. 101 adventures that got me absolutely nowhere. Loved it. Pretty cool to know of the places and things he wrote about :). I've had a nice lunch with a friend of a friend and we have made plans to road trip the Southwest corner of the country to Esperance. I've also decided to do something FUN and am doing a tour northwards from Perth up to Shark Bay and Monkey Mia. It is most nice to be exploring again :-).

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88 Days Later

88 days… Does it sound long? Or does it sound short? Well the 88 days the Australian government required me to do farmwork in regional Australia is now complete. Five farms later (plus one extra for a couple of days), two in Northern Territory and three in Western Australia have certainly provided quite an experience for me! Some amazing people – Go, Clem, Shoko, Kimi, Jo, Lotti, Melissa, Steph, Ariel, Emma, Lauren, Greet and Peter have made it very fun along the way. Some awesome hosts have made me feel very welcome. Trying lots of new foods and recipes, learning many new things, I have been to some beautiful places (some that I may never have seen otherwise) and made lots of new memories :-).

Whilst completing these days, my goal was to see different places and practices and to learn as much as possible. To make it part of my journey here. Staying in one place did not appeal to me at all… Others goals and outputs maybe different, for me, I had paid for my wwoof membership, I figured I should make use of it :-). I liked the idea of exchange :-). Learning a lot about Australia and others countries and languages in this time, I hope that I have dispelled some stereotypes and put Scotland on some travel maps :-). Japan is now firmly on mine, as is a lot more of Asia.

Granted not all plain sailing, it has been one heck of a personal journey. From the low of the worst day of my travels with my last day in Tasmania to being picked back up again with so many laughs and giggles in Batchelor, to finding my way in Katherine, WA has granted me space and time to reflect on the next steps on the journey. Batchelor and Nogerrup's chicken farm sharing the favourite farm accolade; they very much let me be myself :-). Lavender though, will always hold a special place in my heart. Thank god I didn't find work in Melbourne! What a path it has led me on. So much has happened since it began seven months ago.

Some particular favourite moments:

  • All the amazing dogs i've encountered – Miley, Mishka, Mr T, Ella, Bonnie, Ozzie, Cesar, Lupo, Evan and Lily, you have turned me into a dog person!
  • 'Do you want to die' being yelled by Emma at the chickens when they were swarming round the quad bike
  • Travelling with boys vs travelling with girls discussions whilst grafting grapevines
  • TimTam Cake Pops
  • Walking the rows in Katherine listening to the music of my unplayed list
  • Race Day in Batchelor – filled with 'what's', sore hands, nearly fainting spells, rainbows, missing dogs, pizza, pool, wine and Eurovision. Awesome. All you do need is good company and a pool table
  • Chatting to Markus in Katherine and hearing his hilarious tale about Coober Pedy involving stars, kangaroos and the police
  • Washing eggs with Ariel and Emma. I loved our chats. Some of their questions would make me drop eggs!!!! 🙂
  • Watching scrubs with Go in Batchelor
  • Friends for a season, reason and lifetime chat on the Lavender farm
  • Laying plastic in Batchelor
  • Stargazing, sunsets and moons in Katherine
  • Priscilla and pizza on the vineyard
  • The day of the lavender salt challenge!

Learning a lot about doing farmwork in Australia and the visa requirements, I will be carrying this knowledge and sharing it when required with fellow backpackers. My work clothes, now entirely dilapidated, have been thrown away. My work gloves, bought for me by my relatives in Brisbane will be sent home a little worn and tired. My work boots will be put to rest for a little while until required as walking boots. It's amazing how many reminders there are. I miss so many of these people so much. What a journey :-). So much inspiration :-). I have loved putting my experience into words for you. Thank you for sharing it with me :-).

The Diary of a Tassie Adventure – Day 5 – Wineglass Bay, Cape Tourville & Bonorong

After laughing ourselves silly the night before, we got up early to catch the sunrise. Some novelty pictures taken with Markus's Thai hat, we were then on our way via Great Oyster Bay.

Arriving early into the car park for Wineglass Bay at 8.04, red gloves on, the sun out shining, we started the second climb of the week. Spying the bay round the corner, turning professional photographer for 5 minutes, I hope I got a good shot of the nice German couple we met. Trundling through the trees, stumbling onto wineglass bay, alone on the beach, it was beautiful. So peaceful, the sun out, with the crashing of the waves and the birds in the trees, it kind of felt a little bit like paradise. A different walk from cradle, and a different final destination, it certainly lets you reflect on the 9-5 equivalent. Diving off alone for 10 mins, I climbed atop some rocks in search of a good foot picture. Successfully attained, and perhaps my favourite yet, we relaxed and ate some timtams.

Venturing back, the walk up was much harder than the way down! Enough steps to make many an escalator, our persistence eventually rewarded us. Looking the other way at Coles Bay, over the crest of the hill, Tassie showed what it has to offer. Walking down with Markus, with my body warmer on, walking boots fastened firmly on my feet with the sun in the sky it was just the vision I had imagined my tassie adventuring would entail. Reaching the bottom, back in the van, Emily wishing she had brought a wineglass, I concurred. That would definitely have made for some interesting photos…!

Onwards down the east coast, our guide took us to Cape Tourville. So amazing and the sea so blue, I have fair had an adventure this week. After some fish measurement banter, I was told by my guide to get myself onto the other side of the fence and put my chin on the post. After a whaaaat, without much time to think about it, I was picked up and hoisted over!

With three cameras pointed at me, laughing a lot, I climbed up on the rocks and posed away! Kirsten with my camera, she got an awesome shot of me literally on top of the world. Back in the van, the waifs playing, all chilled out, driving along, it was perfect road trip music.

A flying trip to Swansea (that would be swan sea and not swan zee) for lunch, we then had an afternoon visit to Bonorong wildlife park. With a very informative guide, telling us about their residents, I was apparently the only one who noticed her weird compulsion to tell every animal that they had been 'naughty' using baby talk…! As you do. Learning about Tasmanian devils, which are apparently no bigger than a grain of rice when born, seeing some massive koalas in comparison to the mainland, on Tassie, by law, only trained handlers can get koala hugs. Seeing my first joey, I was able to catch some kangaroo shilouettes in the setting sun.

With some evening banter of a very tasty free dinner, Dirty Granny's, Moo Brew and colouring in, we said goodbye to another 2 tour members. Another awesome day had, I wonder what tomorrow holds.

With so many giggles again today it would be criminal not to note them down!

Laughter List part 2

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