Darwin to Sydney
13.12.2011 - 12.01.2012 40 °C
Another manic couple of months...from Darwin it was a early flight to dry hot alice springs. Few admin things to sort out (as always, once you fix one issue, inevitably another arises), before spending some time by the pool and having an early night ready for the 5 day tour to Uluru and down to Adelaide.
6am pick up, hit the road in a full mini bus and a lively bus driver. Its funny going from such an independent form of travelling (cruising around in a motor home) to conforming to a slow moving, restricted to paths, and in a large group tour. This reinforced tours are not for me, well not in a country like oz where its so easy to get around, however it was nice not having to organise anyone. 1st day off to see The Rock (ayers rock). It was pretty cool actually, really steep sided, vast thing! aparently theres like 500m below ground too! We went to the info centre, which has info on the Aboriginals and some interesting art work (new stuff too, showing the issues amongst the aboriginal community with the elders gathered trying to solve the issues related with drugs and alcohol). We then did a walk around the rock. You are still aloud to climb it, however due to the season you had to climb it before 8am, and it is hoped that you will choose not to climb it out of respect.
That eve we went back to our campspot, which has internet connection (the only other places i had internet was darwin, perth and broome!!), and we slept in swags (a tent like sleeping bag, canvas coccoon). Now, swags are awesome, well the concept is, but actually, if it rains they are not waterproof, they were basic swags too, so if you zippped it up it sits on your head, and if you have it open all the insects are at your level...it rained that eve, so we all moved into the laundry room, which was actually quite cozy, but not quite sleeping under the stars!
3.30am start (thought this was a holiday!!), and we're off to watch the sunrise over uluru. Bit nippy, remember to take a jumper if you do it, but stunning, the rock really does look magical, changing colour as the sun rises, and all the undulations are really accentuated by the shadows created! Drove onto Kuta Tjuta (which is the ulgers) for a walk. The walk was really beautiful actually, more interesting than the walk around uluru, and had a range of landscapes, from the red rock, to the valleys between! Prob my favourite, and we had really good weather. Only about a 6km walk, but took a while for everyone to complete it...i forget a lot of people arent used to walking! That eve we drove onto Kings Canon for a swim, chilli con carne and we slept under the stars in our swags...luckily i had a mossi net box which three of us slept under, so felt a lot more comfortable sleeping out with the creepy crawlies. It was pretty amazing, the star were incredible and you could hear the wild horses neighing in the distance, plus there was a lightening storm going off around us (luckily not over us!).
Another 3.30am get up, this time to do an 8km hike around Kings Canon as the temperatures can get up to 45 degrees! Left whilst it was still dark, saw the sunrise as we climbed heart attack hill (not really that bad), and then the rock turned this gorgeous golden red, against the lush vegetation as we continued to walk...this is one thing that surprised me, how green the "red centre" was. I was expecting red soils everywhere, but they were covered in low lying vegetation. Apparently due to El Nino (i think) australia was in a drought up to about 2 years ago and now they have had quite a lot of rainfall. Anyway, it actually stayed pretty overcast, hence only reach 24 degrees, so when we got to the watering hole, only a few peps (obviously i did) went in. Nice walk, then a long drive to Coober Pedy where we stayed in bunkhouses built into the ground. Musky smelling, and had spider on the wall, but quite cool. Coober Pedy is an opal mining area where people dig their houses underground and find opals at the same time to make their fortune. As there are so many people living underground (really weird, full on homes with bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens etc...all underground, pretty dark!), there cant be big mining machines, so it for individuals to make their fortune. There are piles of excavated material above ground, and in these we did "noodling" (dont know why its called that) but basically you get really dusty filtering through these piles in the hope of finding opals (otherwise known as a technique to make a fool of foreign tour goers ha!). Next it was onto the Flinders, travelling through some spectacular scenery on the pass to the campsite, but upon arrive due to storms the power was out. It was the last night of the tour and it was a fun night, but our tour guide was 20years old, not the most knowlegable and was quite annoying towards the end. I'd say def do the 3 day uluru and kings canon part, but dont both with the trip down to adeliade. Long distances, and not a lot to see. Last day we do a nice walk through Aligator gorge, heaps of kangaroos! then onto Adeliade, via a town called Laura (great name ;-p) and doing a spot of wine tasting in Clare Valley.
We stays by the coast in Adeliade (Glenelg, Beachouse backpackers! - really nice!) with 3 dutch girls, who we'd all been very giggerly on tour with, and we got a huge room all to ourselves. By the beach, tram is easy to get into the city centre, and bus to the airport! perfect! They were off to barossa the next day, so i went into town to check out adelaide! really like it, small, but nice! the gallery, museum and botanical gardens are all really great, and there is a wine place too which is interesting. it was a stunning day & i text jeff for sydney arrangements, and it turned out he was in town for business! what are the chances! so went for dinner with him (hadnt seen him for 6months as he was in america when i left syders!) so really nice to catch up! Then back to the hostel for an early flight to sydney!
Sydney...arrr sydney! It was mental...arrived 20th, had a taco night at jeffs, 21st my boss very kindly rearranged the work christmas meal so i could make it! so went to that (fell asleep on the ferry went manly (11.30), circular quay, manly, circular quay (just after 1am - woke up, both ramps up, whistled to a chap to ask how i get off and a gangway was attached for me to disembark..opps! ha!) Next day Fi arrived, opera bar to reunite with all my besties! sooooo nice to see everyone! Had a lovely evening, then Fi and I went to Ivy till 4am...pretty much the next month was full of going out and seeing as manly places as possible...Chritmas Eve had a big christmas dinner, followed by the sheaf, Christmas day Manly, Boxing day dinner in, 27 fi went to melbourne i went to 20 20 cricket - great eve, wed the dutches from tour arrived & went to beach road in bondi for live music, 29th had a really sydney day, went up to watsons bay where my project is now complete and looking really good, sandstone stair and sculptures, LED seats, custom fence, new surfaces, just gotta wait for the planting to kick off and it'll be great! New Year was EPPPPPICCCC! my friends parents live about 10 doors down from Julia Gillards pad (the primeminister) and about 2 rows of houses off the water, basically making the triangle of teh opera house, bridge and her place! with a balcony on the 3rd floor overlooking everything - 200 degree view! OFFF THE CHAIIIINNNN! massive house party great fun! Bronte beach the next day, went camping in the blue mountains the next, carrying big backpacks walking 8km, with a swim in a river and bonfire and goon! More touring of the city, dinner with my old housemates, darlinghurst bar crawl, Sarah's birthday followed by the 1st night of the Sydney fest - amazing! sit outside in the barmy evening, listen to music (Washington! look her up!!) and then Mancho paul or somethign, who got everyone up and dancing. There were then a whole load of bongo players so there was a street party until the police broke it up! Then went to see Grandmaster Flash DJing! Sunday 8th lawn bowls, followed by a sunday sesh, another city day finishing in the Clock with a good little crew, before side bar and then a rave in wynyard station, as i just so happened to have my speakers from the day trip in my bag and the station was empty for our train ride home PLUS we bumped into these guys who beep boxed, and im not joking when i say better than Razel!! unreal! Went to the moonlight cinema (outside) to see the "Inbetweeners" adn a stunning sunset with a picnic! Met Adrian, our first housemate in sydney, down in surry hills, before drinks in teh botanical garden and our final dinner at Guilliume on Bennelong (in the opera house). Stunning food and location, but a tad expensive! great way to finish Sydney though! It was all a bit of a blur, and sad and very weird to be saying goodbye to friends and sydney for real this time. sat at the airport, well actually first had to buy an onward flight to be able to board the plane (the dramas continue) to prove i will be leaving bali, as you only get a 30 day visa, then yeah said goodbye to Fi :-( then got delayed (yup, keep em coming!) and then slept the whole way to bali, where i'll be meeting Amy Wilson, who i met in Sydney 3 years ago!!
TTFN, hope you all had a lovely christmas and NY!