Have You Been to Granny’s Farm?

I got back in the car after my yoga class. I had had a bit of a stressful morning. I looked at Ben and asked him if I seemed calm. He got very confused by this question and thought I had asked 'am I Pam' or 'am I ham…' Crazy Belgians ;-). He told me he was ready to leave Byron and wanted to go to Nimbin. Renowned for being an alternative, easy going hippie town, and knowing there was a market two days later (I have a thing for markets… Perhaps due to picture and cheap food opportunities) I was happy to roll with this. Until he said the words 'I want to stay on granny's farm'… Maybe it's just me, or remembering playing granny's garden on the BBC computers at school and the memory of the cackling witch in the corner of the screen if you lost living on but these words did not fill me with the happiness that I'm sure they should…

With some trepidation we headed on our way. The journey there took us progressively nearer towards big, grey rain filled clouds. It looked like we were going to be able to test how waterproof the tent is… Passing Possum creek road, goats having sex and a cow with an interesting eye, we were welcomed into Nimbin by a love heart… Aww. Arriving into Granny's farm in the dark and the heaviest rain encountered yet, met with some advice from a tree, we assembled the tent with Ben fashioning some impressive tarp work for shelter. We wandered Nimbin's Main Street in the dark. Many people lining the street, hearing the musical tones of a drum circle, we tried out the local pub. Bottles of NZ summer on offer for $3.50, we gave it a whack… Not the best I have to say… I ended up on cider and Ben on Coopers. Much better :-). With an interesting band providing entertainment, singing about Satan, we watched a drunk aboriginal man dancing, an English boy doing the two step and an older lady flow about the floor to the same song! Eclectic ;-).

Woken in darkness the next morning, working out why, it appeared to be the result of a very noisy rooster… All I know is that if it is still dark it is most definitely not time to get up yet…! My first thought, 'I don't know whose idea is was to stay on a camp site with farm in the name…' I know exactly whose idea it was… ;-). Genuinely, me and Ben then both said at the same time 'why hasn't a backpacker killed the rooster yet…?!' This of course leading to pondering as to whether it did actually happen with regularity and what number of rooster this perhaps was on the farm…!!! Falling back to sleep, ducks waking us next, one waddling its way near the tent, to me it did not even look like a duck… Met with a 'what on earth is that?!' awakened into civilisation, crawling out of the tent I was then genuinely met with the biggest turkey I have ever seen in my life!!! It was huge. And very very noisy. It should hide at Christmas…! Got to love noisy farm animals in the morning ;-).

After one of the better showers I've had, we went driving about the region, winding through the hills and mountains and lots and lots of green. Finding a very tasty chocolate zucchini muffin at Lillian Rock market the next stop called 'dirt on a shirt' was a little bit strange and actually quite scary for me… The next town of Uki was much friendlier. Some pretty good pies, some cute little turtles, a funky mural on the wall and a quirky little bookshop, I bought two just because I liked the covers – tied to the tracks and the electronic elephant (I am hoping this might inspire some African adventures 😉 ). Venturing on, finding Mt Warning in Wollumbin National Park, similar to Uluru the mountain is a sacred place. To the Bundjalung people; who ask you not to climb to the summit. We walked the lyrebird track. Taking us through the trees I learnt about lyrebirds (which incidentally Ben told me a face a 10 cent coin), that the palms in the area were called bangalow's in New South Wales and piccabeen's in Queensland and that the local barred frogs and hip pocket frogs would have a croak off consisting of 'eh eh eh' and 'ok ok ok'. I'd love to hear that ;-).

Having a fairly spectacular failure of an attempt at making risotto (note to self: always use risotto rice) we were able to see Nimbin in daylight and sunshine the next morning. Having not really liked the feel of it in darkness, it surprised me with a totally different feel from the night before. We wandered the market, found some funky turtles and learnt of its history in the museum. Overall not quite for me, finding it to have just a little bit too many people in such a small area, it is not one of my favourite stops on our road trip… I still appreciated its story though and in the end, despite some noisy animals, quite liked Granny's farm :-).

Until next time… Road tripping on 😉

Cheer Up, Slow Down, Chill Out… :-)

Byron Bay, a popular hippie hangout between Brisbane and Sydney on the Gold Coast was the destination of choice on the GPS before we left the farm… Slowly meandering our way there as road trips should, we encountered the legendary night manager Charlie in Tara caravan park, found more veggie oil on Fry St of all streets, crossed the Great Dividing Range mountains, drove Lockyer Way (apparently so named in honour of a famous Australian rugby player); found a sign informing that Dundee in Scotland was only 16,263km away; had fun finding the spare keys after locking them in the car; found a place called Moo Moo that yes played on its name and was covered in all things cow related and tried a new fruit called a rambutan. Most tasty. Very much like a lycée.

Reaching Byron Bay, opting to stay in Broken Head Campsite, right beside the sea, the sounds of the waves travelled up the slopes the campsite lay on. Significantly cooler than Queensland but easterly facing with not much shade, there were some pretty hot mornings by 8am! Enjoying a morning on Tallows Beach, having acquired a vest top tan and attempting to even this out with strapless tops, I quite paradoxically managed to burn an interesting shape on my back and outline my bikini mark on my leg apparently missing it with sunscreen… Not quite what I intended to achieve… ;-). Finding two snakes, a duck sign (got to love the sign banter), returning to the beach that my relatives took me to last year, a wander round town found street art, funky shops, a tasty Mexican restaurant and an amazing campervan sporting 'if people were meant to pop out of bed we'd all sleep in toasters'. A van right after my own heart… Also climbing the steps at the pass in Palm Valley and having the best veggie burger I have ever eaten at the Top Shop cafė, it was most nice to relax there for a couple of days.

Focusing on relaxing, and knowing it was still on my bucket list, I made a conscious effort to undertake a yoga class before we left. Due to timing, a purna yoga class ended up my class of choice. New to me, the instructor introduced it as an easy going restorative class. Given many props of a chair, a bolster, two rugs, a belt and a brick, I certainly didn't feel alone in my work…! Given the option of an opening pose to relax into, I lay on my back, tried to zone out the world and focus my attention on the class. Not too much work, used to harder classes, it was good to feel the relaxation through my muscles. It is also the first time I have ever used a chair as a prop… Whilst missing the energy and exercise of Hatha yoga, undoubtedly the best thing about this class was the chavasanah. All through the class I had found it hard to keep my mind still. Concentrating on my breath in the beginnings of chavasanah it finally managed to empty. The instructor walking us through the colours of the chakras, orange had a particularly relaxing effect on me. I left the class feeling relaxed and stronger in mind of things that had been floating that day in my head. A definite good choice for a reintroduction having not managed any yoga since July last year, and choosing an intention that has stuck with me past the bounds of the class, I have decided to try and make more effort and time to practice it when I can.

George Finds Himself in an Outback Horror Movie

        OUTBACK BINGO

  • Get beeped at by a road train
  • Sarah needs to get someone to take off an item of clothing
  • Get 10 people to acknowledge us by waving or lifting a finger
  • In a roadhouse one of has to ask one of the staff what they would do if they were stuck in a lift with some cheese, a baguette and an angry badger
  • In a fuel stop we have to play tag whilst fuelling the car
  • We have to make up a story of where we are from
  • All day fashion of poll to see if we’re the only ones who haven’t heard what the irishman the night before was talking about!
  • We have to ask someone how far it is to Vienna and make them believe that we think we’re in Austria

Above, the list of things Sarah and I arrive at for our road trip back to Perth from Esperance the next morning. We also include writing predictions for each other’s 2014 and counting road trains, roadhouses and how many times the radio plays Bruno Mars! A suggestion from a friend is that we play the first person to see a camel, aeroplane, emu and a black swan in order to make the other do something. We genuinely do not see any of these items at any point on our journey…!

We choose to go via the middle road back to Perth to find wave rock, a tourist attraction just eastwards of Perth on the way. I take the first turn, beginning the 726km to Perth. Not far to go eh?! The first excitement occurs at 10.15am when we are stopped by roadworks and are acknowledged by a man wearing his hair in plaits! Another man holding a stop sign genuinely then bows in gratitude at my acknowledgement of his services! We next reach Ravensthorpe and play the first round of fuel tag :-). Running around the car it is most fun and we don’t care if people think we’re stupid :-). Quite handily a road train pulls up to which I ask for a beep ;-). He kindly gets in on the banter and obliges :-). I snap George and Sarah with a traffic cone then we find a crazy scarecrow on a motorbike! We encounter a wave hello sign which of course needs waved at! The same road train passes us and we get another beep :-). Then get stuck behind it…! We drive past a truck hanging off a mound of sand! Spied by Sarah, I genuinely miss this and have to do a u turn to go back and take a picture! Not quite sure how it got there… Maybe placed just to make the drive more interesting! We play guess the colour of the next car but have to wait quite a while! Sarah is much better at this game than I am!

We reach Hyden, the home of wave rock and of course stop to take a picture of the ‘wave rock’ sign. We are just enjoying the banter when a car pulls up on the other side of the road… Instinct goes into overdrive with it on the ‘not good’ end of the scale… This man offers to take our picture… I can’t work out if he’s thinking of stealing the camera or the car… He wants us to hold hands as he argues everyone waves… We decide we’ll join the masses and wave! I extrapolate myself quickly and get in the car, shortly followed by Sarah… We reach Wave Rock and see him eating lunch. He had been driving the other way five minutes previously…! I guide Sarah the other way and then encounter mannequins and a lace exhibition…! Of course you find that in the outback… This room freakily reminds me of the changing heads scene in Return to Oz! It genuinely feels like the beginnings of a horror movie… I actually ask Sarah if we are in one?! Sitting eating lunch on a picnic bench she decides that you don’t usually see picnic scenes in horror movies so hopefully we should be safe…!

Our feet find the wave rock walking loop. We reach steps with a wear sensible shoes sign! After laughing at people yesterday in thongs, Sarah is in thongs! We walk the rock and I capture my feet. Sarah manages to fashion a cartwheel. We are led to an attraction called the hippo’s yawn a kilometre away from the wave. Walking through cobwebs, we know we’re the first people in the day to attempt this walking… We eventually get there and are a little underwhelmed. Fine to see because we’re there but I imagine disappointing on a day trip from Perth… Back in the car, we phone the actual George and leave him a voicemail to share the banter :-).

Safely leaving without encountering act two of the horror movie, on the drive back through Hyden, we find metal figurines. We turn one on a bike into George!! We then get to see Kulin because of a road train accident closing the main road. I hope all involved are ok. Sarah’s tablet providing musical entertainment, we rotate between R&B, hip hop and 1930s music. Phantom of the opera being blasted out in the outback makes me smile then Lady Gaga’s poker face plays next :-). All the banter :-). We stop in Brookton and get more fuel. I get ice cream and encourage Sarah to ask the girl behind the counter the badger story. We have to make it an echidna instead as she does not know what a badger is! This girl responds that she would climb out the top of the lift and doesn’t say anything about the bread or cheese. Asking another friend he tells me he would feed the baguette to the echidna so it would stay away from him and he hopes the cheese is a big enough block to stand on and climb out the top! Sarah tells me this is her favourite answer in years of asking this question! I am bemused by the amount of people rushing to get out of the lift. My own answer is that I would eat the bread and cheese and put up with the badger until someone rescues me :-). I’m just patient me :-). What would you do? And more importantly, what would George do? We reach the outskirts of the city just as the sun is fading. We end the road train count at 19.38. It ends on 67. It took us nine and a half hours to get ten waves! And yes we were waving first :-). We drop the car and find a McDonalds. We didn’t quite manage everything on our list but we had a lot of good fun trying! It was awesome fun :-). I can’t wait to exchange our predictions in December next year and see what actually happened :-).

George Explores Esperance

We awake to a different background than the night previously. Darkness and stars are replaced with blue skies, water and waves. The beach literally just across the road from the hostel, Esperance's coastline stretches on for miles. Following the road east out of Esperance, we reach Cape Le Grande National Park. For an area covered in outback terrain some pretty impressive contrast is apparent. Frenchman's Peak, a 262m steep rocky climb was the first task of the day! Walking boot prepared, I put George in my bag and we begin. A warning of its steepness at the bottom, we were pretty surprised to pass girls wearing thongs! The Australian definition of thongs that is! Definitely burning off the calories from breakfast and stopping a fair few times (pretending to be checking the view of course), the hard slog to the top was definitely worth it :-). I think George got it easy ;-). We see the outback laid out in front of us, the coast surrounding it and roads winding their way through it. The girls in thongs not quite making it to the top, fair play to them for giving it a try! I enjoy a timtam and think of a certain French friend whilst at the top of a Frenchman's peak and do some more yoga ;-). Sarah, a bit more adventurous, climbs on top of a rock! George just enjoys being carried everywhere :-).

Our morning exercise completed, we drive further into the park and reach Hellfire Bay. It is a pretty windy day but Sarah is determined she's swimming! Her enthusiasm makes me smile but it now takes quite a warm temperature to get me into the water… In the back of my head I have Ray's 37 degree rule and it is definitely not that warm! I try my feet in the water. Freezing, I dare Sarah to get in! Bless her she tries hard bouncing away but it is a bit cold and choppy and unfortunately not going to happen! We move onto Thistle Cove and find another beach, a whistling rock and some good chat :-). My favourite beach is the one we reach next – Lucky Bay. Beautiful turquoise and dark blue waters merge, surrounded by rocks with only four other people enjoying the beach :-). We enjoy a subway lunch then find two kangaroos just waiting around the corner for us! Not too shabby a stop for lunch at all!

Very much a coastal town, Esperance, of course, has a tourist ocean drive. Similar to Victoria's Great Ocean Road between Melbourne and Adelaide, this one is named the Great Ocean Drive. There are many beaches to find. Too many after so many days landscape sightseeing! It helps to have George and know I will be able to distinguish in years to come! He jumps out at Blue Haven and Twilight Beach (no vampires or werewolves were found…) and we let him see the south west coast being battered by the ocean! A pretty impressive coastline I have to say. We find another western Australian pink lake, though not quite as pink or as nice as the last one I saw and take George to Wiseman St. He is a very wise man you know ;-). Back in the hostel, I sit and chill in the lounge area where some hostel residents are watching Woody Allen's 'Midnight in Paris'. This movie always makes me think of the actual George :-). It being the last night of our road trip we decide to celebrate and take George for dinner. We enjoy a very tasty meal even if it does take a long time to arrive. Stopping in at the pub on the way back, I try a new kind of beer (the legacy of the drinking challenge lives on) and Sarah and I are left in shock with the brazenness of an Irishman talking about girls. The night ends with us formulating an outback bingo game of things to do on the drive back to Perth the next day :-).

 

TimTam Cake Pops and the Loch Ness Monster

A shorter working week due to the impending Darwin adventuring, my last couple of days held tasks of planting capsicums (peppers to the UK aboding) and cabbage, plastic laying, a lot of weeding, hole digging for irrigation and bagging bananas to stop moths eating them. My work clothes certainly worn well here, I also had to moonlight as a seamstress in order to avoid some interesting sunburn shapes!

Banter once again had out of working hours, this week saw another visit to Florence Falls in Litchfield Park. The sun setting at six thirty our host suggesting we leave at five, I asked “won't it be dark?!” Somewhat sceptical, I was the receiver of a “what's the problem with swimming in the dark?” Obviously thinking bugs and of potential dangerous animal encounters, I then got a” You have the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland!” Good old Nessie rearing her head in Australia, surely not ;-)! Thinking how to word my reply I responded with “Yes we do. But I'm pretty sure it's not real, probably wouldn't eat me or kill me whilst something here might!” Got to love these reminders of the homeland :-). Turns out it was all good, still light for quite a while and a deep rock pool gave me and Go a chance to try and master a jumping shot! Somewhat unsuccessful in our endeavours to catch a good shot of this on camera, we taught Go how to float instead!

Missing Scotland on Friday, Dougie MacLean's Caledonia in my head, thinking about the lyrics I realised how applicable the words were to my journey. Phoning the Wilson clan, I learnt that my sister had been singing Caledonia herself that morning. It also having significance for others on that day, I liked how the stars aligned around the world that day :-). Receiving messages from the homeland before I went to sleep, waking up to another cocophany of messages and emails in the morning, lying in my bed reading them before getting up, they brought a smile to my face to start the day. Thank you for these messages :-).

My last working day being sunday, I found inspiration in more than one place! Shown writing by my host's sister, Natasha Thompson, her poem 'bushy conditions' for which she won a prize for, I could feel exactly how she felt when she wrote it. Reading her writing makes me want to write. In the evening, gunning for a good sunset picture, taken to a good spot, taking novelty pictures, Go balanced on one leg with his arms out. A brilliant picture, I have now been inspired to achieve sunset yoga pictures in different poses. Might just need the self timer for that one! A last supper of pizza, cake pops and a Lano & Woodley marathon, I repacked my backpack with a view to lessening the load in Darwin! Crawling into bed at an ungodly hour, I reflected on the last couple of weeks. It doesn't feel like i've been here for a month. Achieving a lot, in more ways than one, I have some amazing memories to take with me on the next step of the journey…

Banter List

Banter as always, some craziness that should not be forgotten :-).

->This week I had chips made from carrots! Along with pumpkin and potato they were amazing! Having cut some of these and sprinkled the oil, I will take a third of the credit! Yummy.

-> On Wednesday, with Dave saying that he had noticed I had a habit of leaving cupboard doors open, I decided to take this to a whole new level of annoying him by opening EVERY single cupboard and drawer in the kitchen!! Hehehe. Childish, yes. Funny, yes! He laughed. A lot 🙂

-> This week I was asked if we have mountains in Scotland, asked why it was hard to find vegetables in Scotland and if we had arranged marriages in Scotland. Seeing a Scottish Adelaide friend's fb status I noted that someone had said to her 'you sound quite Irish. You must live near the Scotland/Ireland border! This made me laugh. They would be a bit wet wouldn't they?! I love being asked about Scotland now 🙂

-> I don't understand why we call it butternut squash and the Australians call it butternut pumpkin… Can we get pumpkin in the supermarket that is not orange?! I genuinely can't remember and my sources in the UK are not sure. I am quite liking it I have to say 🙂

-> I attempted to make Cake Pops (small round individual 'cakes' made out of Oreo cookies, cream cheese and chocolate for those who have not had the pleasure)! Only part of the decorating process last time and not the making of, I didn't know how to get them to stay on the stick… Don't ask me why I didn't think to source an answer to this in my confusion…! Coating the pops in timtams and then making a timtam cake pop with the leftover timtams and coating that one in coconut and cherries it tasted amazing!!!

-> This week I watched Red Dog. Inspired by a true story and one of Australia's family movies, well shot, using the light from the sun and the colour yellow, it showed off Australia's scenery well. Different, with a good story, I liked it a lot. Loving the soundtrack in particular, I will need to find that and the Red Dog statue on the road to Dampier when I eventually get to the west coast!!!

-> On Saturday after bbqing under the stars the night saw another round of girls v boys pool. The boys victory dance and high 5's when they thought they had won was hilarious. They then potted the white. Me and Theresa genuinely jumped and cheered. Somewhat reminiscent of the friends episode when they are drawing high cards and both thinking they have won it was amazingly funny 🙂

-> On Thursday, the ute out of service depositing freshly picked zucchini’s in Darwin, me and Go had a mini walking adventure on the farm whilst we worked! Our day involving cows trying to eat me, digging, hiding in the grass, fence clambering, finding ourselves in the cow paddock, climbing back over the fence to escape from said cows, Go scaring the cows away, a tractor and lots of pictures taken to mark the events, it was a very entertaining day 🙂

Calf Predicting, Lime Juice and Nine Bananas Later…

Northern Territory supposedly in the 'dry' season, for the last couple of weeks the weather has not played ball… Witnessing a fair few thunder and lightning storms, an impressive amount of rain and temperatures warmer than they should be, this week saw a change in the weather. What the farmers have been waiting for, with some cooler nights on the cards, my long trousers and a long sleeved top getting an airing on Friday night, it was the first night I started off with my duvet rather than pulling it over me at 5am! Somewhat successfully influencing, my host actually said duvet rather than dooner that night! Scotland 2 – Australia 0 :-). Managing to sleep a little earlier, miraculously falling asleep at 10, yes you heard right, 10pm on a Saturday, it joins a handful of night's asleep before 12 since I left my relatives in January! Also the longest I have slept without ear plugs since leaving the UK somewhat ironically, it is perhaps the place where something is most likely to crawl in my ear…!

Back on the farm, repeating many of the same tasks completed in previous weeks, I can now add planting pumpkin and tomatoes and welding to my repertoire. I love the colourfulness of Jarrahdale pumpkin seeds. Somewhat weird, gaining a random new skill I seem to have become new calf predictor! Hearing a different moo from the cows I declared 'that's a cow giving birth!' Turns out I was right! I am not sure whether this is a useful skill or not…?! I am quite impressed with myself though I fear it is coincidence!

More zucchini’s, learning how to pick them just at the right time, I learnt to look for fat ends as well as length! I am not sure if this rule is universally applicable… 😉 Laying plastic for growing vegetables fast becoming one of my favourite times of day, a bit filthy from the day before and having not managed laundry, Monday's lesson was a sore one…. A word of warning – don't wear a shirt that you haven't worn since you left the UK. Firing out my checked shirt, I was immediately the proud owner of two new bites on my elbow and some itchy arms! Informed that I have probably had something living in it in that time (!) and told that the juice from a fresh lime is good for taking away the itch, I at least learnt some lessons with my morning!

Somewhat of a banana filled week I learnt of the usefulness of bananas for twitchy eyes (it is a potassium deficiency thing apparently). Mulching the farm's banana trees, shown the banana bud (who knew they were purple?! And had flowers?!) I learnt that well fertilised trees produce nine hands of bananas and that the bigger the banana the better! Each banana tree only providing one bunch of bananas, there are suckers (google it! It's a plant!) on hand to shoot up and replace it! Given a ripe and ready said banana, it very sweet in comparison to the shop bought ones available in supermarkets back home, still not sure if I liked it, my host evidently disagreeing, he proceeded to eat nine bananas in a row…! Nine bananas?! It was actual madness! Maybe I just have to get used to them :-).

Back at the ranch with some downtime, with a multitude of films and telly on offer, I have managed to catch some 'unseens'. Delving into a Scrubs box set, Dr Cox has become my favourite character. With not quite enough time to manage a lot of it, just don't tell me how it ends! On my host's recommendation we have also been watching Australian comedy series ‘Lano & Woodley‘. With a ridiculously catchy theme tune of 'I got a feeling, a bit of an inkling' there are some genuinely hilarious moments. I have laughed a lot. Particularly appreciating a reference to Robert Scott and the Antarctic, preempting the 'I am just going for a walk' quote with some cupboard humour and a 'whaaat' from them, I have fair enjoyed it!

My week also containing some new edible achievements, I can now say I have tried crab mornay and golden snapper. They were actually amazing! Some personal achievements also, with a bit of an unexpected nudge I think I have managed to put some recent events to rest. Feeling motivated, needing to stretch, with space in my room, I also finally managed to achieve some yoga this week. My first attempt since Melbourne, able to get into the zone for an hour, I stretched myself through six rounds of sun salutations and some standing poses including ardha chandrasana (half moon pose). Talking about moons, on saturday we had the pleasure of a full moon. Creeping over the horizon, reflecting the ground's colouring, it was a beautifully coloured red! Amazing but hiding behind the trees – it was hard to take a good picture. Also seeing some amazing sunrises and sunsets, I was able to snap the following on the same day!

A week of many reminders, losing the 'game' I thought of those in Melbourne; Pink Floyd made me think of my family; french plaits and onward travel destinations making me think of one of my besties, my tartan earrings were in purposefully on Sunday 26th with thoughts headed in the direction of Scotland.

With a plan to reunite with Adelaide friend Lisa in Darwin at the beginning of June, after deciding to leave my current wwoof host when I go to see her, this week I have found a new host for afterwards. Staying in Northern Territory but further south on a zucchini farm, I am looking forward to seeing a new place :-). Feeling that perhaps it is good to split your time over different areas and see more places, this decision was yet another one borne out of instinct. We will see what happens :-).