The Lure of a Place Not Yet Visited…

I'm moving to Western Australia… Conscious that last year I spent time in Melbourne job hunting and just spending money, with not an overly large sum of Australian dollars left I decided it would be wise to find a job to go to rather than just arriving having left a perfectly good job… My job search so far focusing on Broome, on Saturday I widened my search area to all of north west Australia. Applying for a couple, I got a phonecall Saturday night offering me work in Carnarvon. Here to explore, feeling like I need to move on, it feeling right, I have said yes. Even if it is terrible, I will at least be earning money whilst I look for something else in a location that is significantly nearer to Broome than Sydney…! Having reached Shark Bay last year when I did my tour north, Carnarvon puts me in a pretty good spot for onward exploring round the north west Coast :-). I am very much looking forward to a change… and some sunshine!!

My last week of work very busy, going far too quickly, enjoying being busy, it nearly made me feel guilty about leaving… Moving on always offering some time for reflection, Sydney has provided yet another interesting experience for me. A change from roadhouse and farmwork, it has been nice to be be back in the 'office banter' environment, feel useful, learn new things and then feel like you know about the things you are talking about… :-). Getting to know the North Shore train line well, I'm sure there are not too many backpackers that can say they know the geography of tennis courts and council buildings within one of Sydney's council areas! Working with a good team, my colleagues very friendly; their banter has been most fun. Of course sharing some Scottishness, some new memories have been added to my Australia scrapbook :-). The banter of Granny Joyce, line dancing, guinea pigs, time capsules, ‘b’ for ‘bottle’ and being asked if we play sport in the rain back home (us hardy Scots often play in the snow!) have all put a smile on my face :-). The best memory though is undoubtedly commuting over harbour bridge. Whether in sunshine or lit up by night, I love that I can say that I did that :-). Amazing!

Banter held also in non working hours, my Irish roommate, Sinead, has made this last week so memorable for me. With only an Italian roommate for two days and a very nice Hawaiian man for one night, we have had our three share dorm to ourselves. I am really really going to miss our chats. We have laughed. A lot. Her window stuck open, much banter about a raccoon will be remembered with fondness :-). We are going to continue our friendship via viber voice message :-). I can't wait to get her updates :-). With some awesome skyping, receiving gifts from Belgium, a tour of and visit to the opera house to see Pinnochio, chocolate drinking and eating at the Lindt chocolate cafe, a last movie night of ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel‘ and the addition of some new 'Sydney' music to the Australia playlist, it has been an awesome last week. I will certainly be leaving Sydney with a smile on my face looking forward to my new adventure :-).

Some of the new songs added to my Australia playlist: 🙂

Passenger

Yesterday I saw Passenger play a gig in Perth. It is the first gig I have seen in another country. He has very much become part of my Australia soundtrack. He has witnessed a lot over the past year and been associated with many emotions. A lot happening, friends gone away and some since broken friendships, I thought I would be sad hearing his words. Instead he made me feel happy. I remembered the happy memories. I learnt the sad ones are not linked to his music.

Playing some that I knew, some that I didn't, he certainly put on a show. In the introduction to Feather on the Clyde, he spoke of Glasgow. It was amazing to hear him sing words of a song that means so much to me. That makes me think of home. As the soundtrack to my zucchini picking, it evoked happy memories of walking the rows. He sang a song called 'Blind Love' with the support act. You could genuinely feel the comradery. 'Scare away the dark' before the encore with the oh oh oh chorus actually gave me goosebumps. The atmosphere was amazing.

I would have loved to have been there with someone that the music meant as much as it did for me. Instead his music confirmed that a current relationship is not quite right… Having made plans with this person which now are not going to happen, I am back to somewhat of an indecisive juncture… Sydney? (The lure of a city not seen), give Perth some more time or use it as an impetus to try pastures new? Hmm Australia I am not too sure ;-). What do you reckon?!

It All Ends With Lavender

I wish I could add a smell to my blog… I have spent the last two weeks working on a lavender farm. It actually smells amazing. All who work here must sleep well… Residing in another caravan but in not quite a comfy a bed as the last, it is providing flashbacks to the worst bed slept in a hostel in Katherine. Temperatures rising exponentially since arriving in WA, from 3 degrees and cold to 37 degrees and pretty hot in a couple of weeks it is quite a reacclimisation! The other turn of the coin, of course, is that that warmth allows for more bugs and an increased likelihood of snakes. I have a strange feeling I am going to see one before I leave here… External showers and toilets, with many a pipe lying on the ground, my nightly walk to the bathroom has me thinking they are snakes! Heeding many a warning during my time in Australia, this host was novel in that he said “if you get bitten, don't panic, lie down, stay still and hold your leg. You won't die. Just shout for help.” Then as an afterthought added “if you do die, it will make the news!” Hmmm. Hopefully not!

Learning a lot about lavender, did you know there are over 125 varieties? One is considered a weed in Western Australia. 'Lavandula Angustifolia' (commonly known as English lavender) being farmed here, it is best grown on a slope to ensure the soil is not too wet with some lime in the soil to help it grow. Flowers ready to be picked approximately the end of December/January, this is the best time to be requiring lavender at an Australian wedding! Differently grown culinary lavender best choice for any edible products, I have tried lavender ice cream and lavender shortbread. Most tasty. In working hours, I have been working my way along the lavender rows weeding with many a fly for company… Actually ridiculous, one so named the March fly has a particularly nice bite attached… Flying slowly, usually able to be batted away, with black leggings on sometimes it can take a little bit too long to realise they have landed on you… I would most definitely not like to be here in March…

Some conclusions I have reached whilst here:

  • The TransWA travel website is not nearly as good as Victoria's equivalent. You pretty much have to guess where you need to change then buy a separate ticket… How strange. And not very user friendly…
  • Lavender essential oil does not smell very much like lavender
  • There is only one way to wear your hair. In a ponytail. It can therefore serve as an effective fly swatter
  • The cost of a stamp to the UK has now increased to $2.60. It used to be $1.70. I shall be sending my pictures turned into postcards online for $1.49 from now on…
  • There are many things you can make with lavender…
  • Ants can indeed fly! White and fluffy, luckily these ones don't bite. Happy to nest in any clothes you've hung out though!
  • There is no sugar in lavender salt :-).
  • There is a reason why some songs have remained unplayed on my iPod. The unplayed list now reduced to less than a 1000 songs, the lyrics to a Blue October song had me exclaiming 'whaaaat', more than once, to a field full of lavender! Holy Moly! My ears are still traumatised…
  • It is ok to change your plans :-). I have now made plans to road trip Perth to Adelaide with a friend. I am most looking forward to this 🙂
  • A Scottish pipe band with more women than men is not quite the same… Only three men in kilts?! Not nearly enough to go around 😉

A post script – I hope you like the new look to my site. Mobile users can click on ‘full site’ at the bottom of the screen or find a tablet or computer to see the difference ;-). The name change is just on my page, the URL is still the same :-). Happy Reading x

Burning Clothes and Much Mulching

The sun's rays have been shining upon WA this week :-). Falling a little bit in love with the flowers here, I can't imagine a dry, not so green WA in summer…

Temperatures finally warming, after being inside for so many days at the roadhouse, I am very much enjoying being outside all day with my sleeves rolled up with the sounds of music playing in my ears :-). I have been enjoying my unplayed list again (still 1253 to go!) reminding me of many a zucchini being picked… In working hours, I have been bonding with a substance named 'Mulch'… It is sharp… It goes everywhere… I get covered in it… So much is required just to cover a small area… Its only saving grace is that it is a bit wetter and not quite as dusty as the mulch I was working with in Batchelor… Love the delightful stuff I do… ;-).

My week of randomness:

  • The major event of the week is that I managed to burn my favourite pair of trackie bottoms… Trying to dry them near the fire so I could wear them in bed that night… The heat set them alight… The same week that I remembered that I nearly didn't put them in my backpack before I left the UK and was thankful that I did… I know I need to lighten the load… Didn't plan to burn it all…! I'll need to buy some pyjama bottoms… For I am now sleeping in my running trousers… Don't seem to have much luck with trousers here :-s
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  • I stood in the caravan putting sunscreen on at 8am and was able to see my breath in front of me it was that cold…!!! There is something strangely oddly contradictory about these two things happening at the same time
  • I have managed to watch both X Factor and Australia's Got Talent for the first time in Australia. I asked my host about the timing of these Australia wide. They are shown in each state's prime time. It must be a nightmare to be trying to do anything on social media when something like that is on. A three hour time difference from Eastern time here, you would know who was voted out even before it started… More positive than the UK though, the judges vote to save rather than send home
  • Chatting to my hosts has started the 'European Bucket List' for when I eventually get back to the other side of the world
  • Always adding to the Australia playlist, Imagine Dragons – On Top of The World, Philip Phillips – Home and Katy Perry's Roar have become WA songs
  • A good eating week, I've made korma curry paste from scratch, tried a very tasty broad bean dip served with artichokes and eaten devilled sausages. Comprised of apples, tomato, onion, vinegar and a side of mashed potato, it was delicious 🙂

Wood Fired Pizza Ovens and Grafting Grapevines

The day after writing that I felt safe in my little bunkhouse I was lying in bed and I could hear a scratching in the walls… I could hear something moving around… I couldn't decide whether it had wings or was walking on feet… I decided it sounded bigger than a cockroach… I decided it probably couldn't kill me…Txting a friend to share of this dilemma I was called a chicken for not looking. I wasn't being called that having spent time on a chicken farm… I went outside to investigate. I found a blown over tree and a broken slat. Knowing there was something therefore in the walls or under the floor I didn't think it was wise to fix this at 11pm. For it would mean that it couldn't get back out… It was suggested that it could be Santa… A bit early for Christmas presents but this comment did made me think about chimneys… I realised I had a fire with a chimney heading to the roof… I didn't know if there was a hole in the roof end or not… I covered my end with a towel… An hour later with the sounds still on the other side of the wall I hoped that it couldn't get in… I eventually fell asleep. We fixed it the next morning with no idea what I had for company that night…

Night time dramas aside, it has been absolutely freezing the last couple of days! We had the pleasure of 3 degrees one morning! 3 degrees?! Are you kidding?! Apparently a similar temperature to Scotland right now…! Swinging from cold, wet and windy to warm and beautiful, I alternate between hoody and body warmer to only my t shirt! I look forward to my warm after work shower everyday :-).

Some things I have learnt with my week:

  • Citrus kills earthworms. Don't put them in your compost!
  • That blood and bones in fertiliser is an effective deterrent for kangaroos
  • That it is easier to make red rather than white wine
  • Fruit trees are pruned from the inside. 'Vase pruning' if you will.
  • That garlic is white because it is apparently bleached white… Organic garlic is therefore best
  • That you can face a fine of up to $110,000 for killing a saltwater crocodile
  • A lot about Belgium! Two Belgian wwoofers also here, we have been asking each other a lot of questions
  • I've met a beautiful kelpie dog that is allergic to grass. Who knew dogs could be allergic to grass?!
  • A week of geography questions, I now know where in Scotland Applecross and the Isle of Islay are
  • A new skill also added, I have been grafting grapevines to change the grapes for next year's wine.

Lots of laughs this has included being asked whether I am at the ‘pole of cats’ (talking about it being cold they apparently meant polar ice caps), what ‘dumb fries’ was like (our local hometown of Dumfries) and people using the word hay when they mean hey! Finishing my book (quite liked it :-)), adding some movies to my watchlist, Craig Werth and the Hussy Hicks have also been added to my music playlist. My favourite day of the week though was Monday. It was a beautiful hot and sunny day. Left alone to plant seedlings, it was most therapeutic :-). The sun still in the sky, dinner was homemade pizza cooked in an outdoor wood fired pizza oven. Actually amazing, the tandoori chicken and strawberry and chocolate were my favourites :-). For evening viewing we watched Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Mentioned many a time on my travels I've been wanting to see it for ages. Loved it :-). Many a laugh and watching them climb Kings Canyon, a climb I did just less than four weeks ago, it was a pretty cool moment for me :-).


 

On the Wrong Side of the Plane…

I had 36 hours to explore Alice Springs. It was not remotely like the picture I had imagined in my head. Managing dinner and drinks with my tour group with live music and a lot of duck related banter, I then had a most amazing sleep in a very comfy bed! Upon awakening, my wandering feet found church singers, the first hospital in Central Australia and some funky coloured walls. Wanting to be up high and get some perspective, my feet took me up Anzac Hill. A bench let them rest a while. The notes of live music floating from below, I went to find the source. The NT music festival in full swing, I relaxed and enjoyed some impressive desert diva’s for a while. Heading on, with the tinge of sunset in the air, Anzac Hill was host to my feet for the second time that day. It might just be one of my favourite Australian sunsets so far…

The backpack repacked, I headed on my way. Opting for a window seat, finding someone in my seat yet again, I sat down and was faced with a Boeing 717-200 safety instruction card. It worryingly informed me it was ‘revision 002…!’ Space for a hundred revisions…?! Go figure… I watched out my window. The pilot informed us that we were about to fly over Ayers Rock… Lo and behold I was on the wrong side of the plane…! Never mind… If you are doing the same journey, sit on the left hand side of the plane and you’ll get a better view! On reaching Perth (incidentally only GMT+7), in search of onward transportation the heavens decided to open. Smiling, I walked through it. It was the first proper rain I’ve seen in 3 months…! Everyone else under shelter, I was the only one in it. Amazing!

Reaching my hostel, I opened the door to my room to find all of my roommates still in bed… It was 1pm…! Relieved of the heavy backpack, I headed out to get a feel for the city :-). Only spending 8 hours exploring Perth, I love it already :-). Maybe just a well chosen path, I walked through the hustle and bustle of student life (making me feel like a student again!); some tall skyscrapers reminded of Melbourne and the one way, pedestrianised streets lined with shops, to a background of a cool, cloudy, wet day made me feel like I was walking through Glasgow in Scotland…! 🙂 Sourcing my first sushi in a fair wee while, I went crazy and bought 16 pieces costing me $30…! It was delicious :-). Unfortunately leaving my leftovers in McDonalds of all places (McDonald’s free wifi in Perth is the best yet!), I headed back to my hostel and enjoyed some late night banter with my roommates :-). Not achieving a lot of sleep, up early for the onward journey south, a very clean train and bus ride later, I reached my new farm. Straight into work, after dinner, with a power cut leaving us in darkness, I crawled into bed and promptly fell asleep at an unprecedented 8.30pm…! Granted 10pm NT time, it is still very impressive for me!!! Perhaps farmwork the only way to keep me in normal rhythm, we’ll see if I manage to maintain this earlyness!