A Travellerspoint blog

The "Banana Pancake Trail": 1st stop Indonesia

Bali, Gili's, Lombok, Bali, Java

all seasons in one day 30 °C

Goodness me!! One month/ 30 days/ 4 weeks/ 730hrs of indo madness! I guess semi-irresponsibly I arrived in the heat of Bali (from Sydney) after a delayed flight at 10.30pm, not having booked any accommodation, or having an address of a hostel, just a name I figured I could give to a taxi driver, or be offered an option on arrival... Once you land you pay a $25, and then once out of the airport there is a taxi rank which pretty much charges 95K rupiah ($9.5AUD/7 quid)...I would however recommend walking straight out the terminal to the taxi's outside the airport for a metered taxi and it'll be about half the cost! I didn’t, I went straight to the rank, had an old man come and ask me about accommodation in kuta (bali's clubbing capital) to which I replied I had no idea as I was staying in Sanur (on the east coast) in a hostel called Big Pineapple (the only thing I knew about bali at this point!). Anyway the old man past and I turned around to a 7ft Russian who said, "Big Pineapple?...you come with us?" He and an American chick were catching a cab to the Big Pineapple and she had maps, directions, address etc...Love it how things work out sometimes :-) So Anton (the Russian) and Cara (USA) and I rocked up at the Big Pineapple at 11.30pm ish, no one was there to take a booking, so we just found ourselves some beds..sooo good to be in a bed!

Next morning I had every intention of getting myself organised and on top of life (I know, so much to do when unemployed ha! but really, blog, diary, postcards, planning what’s next, photo uploads, time consuming stuff!) I went downstairs, got my lappy t out, all my notes, papers etc, then an American chap walked past and introduced himself and asked if I fancied a wonder...um yeah sure!...(I massively suffer from FOMO...Fear of missing out!) So Mick (another dutchy, get everywhere!), Justin (the yank) and I headed to the beach and for a little exploration. The beach was nice, but not what I imagined tbh. Was expecting white sands, tropical looking beach. Bit scruffy. There are luxury resorts all along the top of the beach (which if you are white you can just walk in a pretend you’re staying there and enjoy a day in a pool, no questions asked ha!), then these boats which are like wooden boats with stabilisers, then a grainy yellow sand beach, and merkyish water...awesome volcano's though in the backdrop! Perhaps it because it’s the wet season? Anyway, walked back via the streets, uneven hole ridden narrow pavements, with wafts’ of amazing bbq and spiced smells and decaying trash and offerings (which the women put everywhere, these little palm baskets with flowers and other bits and bobs). They also have these travelling cabinets with shelves of vodka bottles...at first I thought they looked like home brew vodka coz it’s a yellowy colour, then when we asked, that’s a litre of petrol for Rp 5K for the scooters to fill up! and they are everywhere!! next was lunch, a mie gorang (fried noodles, veg & egg), which turns out nasi (rice) and mie (noodles) became our staple diet! Back to the hostel for a dip in the pool, bit of mingling and next thing I know, having vowed not to be going out on the town for a while after the boozy Sydney month, I was in a leather seated SUV with 5 others to Kuta!! We met an Indonesian, Harry, who was hanging out with a girl (Lucia) at the hostel and invited Ria (English chick), Justin, Anton, and I to join them. So off to a local haunt for dinner then onto the madness of Kuta. Kinda like any strip on the Greek islands, rows of bars, flashing lights, loud music, crazy traffic and drunken ppl. It was good fun for what it was, but once was enough haha!

Next day, Harry invited us to join him to go see his boss's house (where he is a chef) and then he'd give us a little tour...back into the SUV and off to Tananuh Lot where Harry works in this ridiculous house accessed for them by helicopter, with their own area of sea?! and accessed by us via a single lane unsealed, rocky track surrounded by paddy fields. I'd originally planned on just hiring a car in bali to get around as its only a small island and it had been so easy cruising around oz & petrol was super cheap....but one trip with harry at the wheel and it is mmmmmmeeeeennnntal!! no way you're getting me on those roads! scooters whizzing in and out everywhere, no rules, but seems to work for them!?! Anyway on our way back Harry let Justin drive...1st time on the left hand side of the road, 1st time driving abroad...1km up the track whilst maneuvering past another vehicle we slide off the road to the point where the whole of the underside of the carriage was resting on the edge of the road and the wheels weren’t touching the ground down the gully that channels the water around the fields. We then spent the next 2hrs working together with the rice paddy field workers (harry as our translator) to get the car out! It was an awesome team building sesh! Be a good thing for businesses to do to build team building skills..right guys, go get that out! ;-) anyway, up to my thighs in mud, with no shoes in waters known for water snakes pushing and pulling, we finally made it out....200m up the road it happened again ha! this time we nailed the technique and were out in a matter of minutes! All the kerfuffle meant we missed out on the Uluwatu temple in the cliff (supposed to be spectacular) and arrived in dark at Blue Point up in Pecatu, which is a surfer spot with great views over the cliff... Successful day ha, but actually good bonding day :-) We'd heard blue point had live music on Sunday’s so the next day we got a crew of 10 from the hostel to head back that way and spent the day at this place...stunning! whole load of cafes and surfer spots at this cliff, then live music till the wee hours of the morning! We did a little walk (20mins) down to Padang beach too, bit dirty but saw some monkeys!

Met up and stay for a couple of nights with Tim Caston (friend from Uni) who's now living in a sweet place in seminyak (above Kuta on the south west coast) and working as an architect! His housemate Derek very kindly took me around town, did a bit of surfing (still useless!) and got my vaccinations (again, was lacking on the organisation front doh!) 18th arrived and Amy landed in Bali. Amy (a friend from Sydney, who I met 3 yrs ago) and I will be travelling until china (May 16th). So weird seeing someone after so long and then it just being like normal haha!! I didn’t really give her much time in Bali before we were off to the Gili's (islands off the north west of Lombok, an island east of Bali) with Tim (a new Aussie recruit), Justin, and Teemu (Finnish guy). Ride up to Padang Bai to catch the Eka Jaya fast ferry at 8.30am (Rp450K return) Gili Trawangan bound! This was more what I imagined...an hour and a bit boat ride and there was turquoise waters, white sand, palm trees, no cars just horse and cart and bicycles...so much less hectic! They say you plan to stay for a couple of nights and next thing you know it’s a couple of weeks! I can see how it happens and 3 nights later we nearly got lured into the same trap! There's good snorkeling north east of the island, saw a turtle! then did a cycle around the island (bit tricky in the sandy spots), pit stopping for a dip and then for a Bintang and to watch a spectacular sunset, before cycling back in the dark (luckily Justin and I had head torches otherwise it would have been pitch black, although we did mix it up and do strobe cycling, quite entertaining!) again stopping at a few watering holes before heading to the market for some cheap food and what can only be described as God's gift to the universe...Terang Bulan....hear me out...kinda pancake with a crumpet texture and thickness which is doused in chocolate sprinkles, indo milk (condense milk), peanuts and ....cheese! it gets folded over and melts into this gooey goodness!!! perhaps avoid it if you don’t want to be thinking about it 247, and if you suffer from high cholesterol tee hee! yummmmmm! It was then onwards to the Irish pub (the least Irish pub I’ve ever come across but nice) and got introduced to these shots...a sachet of this energy power (nothing illegal I promise, like red bull in powder form) which you empty into your mouth, wait for it to bubble, put the vodka shot in your mouth, swill, wait for it to explode then swallow! highly entertaining! Luckily the next day was a rainy day, so only had to concentrate on cards and updating diary and talking rubbish :-)

Over to Gili Air (via the shuttle bus, a boat for Rp 26K, think there is a public boat for cheaper Rp 8K) which is a lot quieter. Stayed in these little bungalows on the beach, went for an awesome Mahi mahi bbq kebab dinner at Zippies (Rp 45K) before watching distance lightening storm on the beach. Ran around the island, smaller than Gili T, then great snorkeling north of the wharf and a cafe with free inflatable’s haha! Couple of relaxing nights here then over to Lombok to go climb Mt Rinjani (Rp 450K for transport to Sanura (2hrs), trek and camping and transport to Senggigi (2.5hrs) after, pretty good value!) 3.30am breakfast (the standard banana pancake and tea or coffee...I will like bananas by the end of southeast Asia!) 4am leave, 5am start hike in pouring rain!! arrive drowned at 10am!! Turns out it’s closed during wet season and so we have to get up early to sneak in to the National Park ha! so 6 of us spent the next 11 HOURS in a SMALL 2 man tent whilst there was a howling gale and rain and no views outside...some cool monkeys, looked like they had a French moustache! actually good fun...apart from the fact the wild dogs outside ATE MY HAVIANAS!! that was the 4th pair in a month grrrr! little terrors! ha! stuck with some blokey indo flip flops now ha! Next morning we were supposed to be up at 5am to walk up for sunrise but still pissing down, so kindly they waited till 7.30am then we trekked up, gets pretty chilly and windy up the top! again, no view! I suspect in dry season it is stunning, views out to the gili's, over the crater, lake and whole island, but we could barely see 5m in front of us! Oh well, good to get some exercise. We ran down, just for fun, and paid for it the next 3 days!! Senggigi was great. We were supposed to be there for just a night, but due to big swell the boats were cancelled for the next 4 days, so we hired some scooters to go see 3 waterfalls at gondwana. 1st time riding a scooter and it was funnnnn! so much less crowded and beautiful coast line! the waterfalls were awesome, 1st not that impressive, 2nd you can jump off the rocks and third (turn left at the bottom of the concrete steps, down the side of teh paddy fields to the river and walk back along the river towards teh waterfall to a bamboo ladder into a waterfall cave! awesome!!). Then it was back cruising along the coast to stop at a point (where again, a lot of monkeys resided) and watched the sun go down, gorge! Lombok reminds me of tracy island (you know, the one you made after watching blue peter, out of thunderbirds), so many palm trees and hugely undulating topography! The next day we spent enjoying free watermelon and pineapple sticks at the Sheraton (getting a taxi to drop us off there and strolling in, shhhh), pure bliss! We did another scooter trip, not so successful! Going south this time, way more hectic, not really clear how to get south, went to go to the south western tip, however should have gone to Kuta (Lombok kuta) a surfer town. Instead we had a day of scootering with little rewards and then in the final leg, whilst trying to pass over a busy junction I took a tumble and scrapped the right side of my body :-p wasn’t going very fast luckily, no broken bones and survived to tell the story and got back on the scooter, so all good! After a 3 day and then a 2hr wait for a 10.30am fast ferry back to Bali to explore!

First stop Ubud (Rp 50K minibus)…not what I expected but I like! Lots of tourists, tours, markets and touristy shows but it was interesting after the quiet relaxing island of Lombok. Stayed just off Monkey Forest Road (100K for 2, the main street, leading to Monkey forest funnily enough) and went to Legong dance at the Ubud Palace the first eve, nice to see something cultural (80K). Next day a stroll around the market (pretty good, practice your bartering skills and take my advice, don’t buy anything heavy – cost a small fortune to send home!!). Next Monkey forest (careful of sunnies, water bottles, basically anything grabable). Its an awesome forest with temples in it, feels like something out of the Jungle Book entering the Monkey kingdom, buy some bananas and be ready to run at any time, even when you think you’re getting along swimmingly! We organized a day of temples (which we happened to time perfectly for Barong Ceremony which is every 6 months and everyone gets dressed up, plays music, the men make these Penyours – a male offering, and the temples are really beautifully decorated!) Went to Goa Gajah (elephant cave – ok, cool garden!), Gunung Kawi (really cool, lot of steps down to this temple with two cliff facades chiseled out and rushing river through the middle), Tirta Empul (a big temple, with the most ceremony activity, heaving, got this geothermal looking water area too, bubbling away!), quick stop at a coffee plantation to see the Luwak Coffee (the most expensive coffee in the worlds as the beans are eaten by this cat that only eats the best coffee, they collect the poo, clean the beans then roast then, 400K a small bag!! Taste ok, but im no coffee expert!) and try a whole range of teas and coffee. then Kintamani (for a view, but don’t bother if it is rainy, you wont see a thing!) and finally Besakih (the largest temple in bali, also very cool and good views to the sea). Next morning, climbed Mt Batur (another volcano, leaving at 1.30am from Ubud up to Kintimani for another banana pancake and tea before walking up for sunrise). Unfortunately another disappointing sunrise. Pretty easy walk in comparison to Rinjani, and more views as well, could see the crater, lake, one volcano and a bit of colour in the clouds. Back down and onto Lovina! Lovina had recently been hit by a mini tsunami so a tad scruffy and the volcanic sand (black) didn’t enhance the views, however one eve there, finished with a terang bulan at the market on the main street (10K) was perfect! Next morning we woke for a 6am dolphin ride (60K, in a boat with the stabilizers, got a tad wet!). It was funny actually, there were so many boats, and it was like everyone cruising along at a normal speed, then someone saw a dolphin and every boat in the area raced towards it! If you have time I’d recommend someone who’ll take you out at like 8am. We carried onto Menjanga island in the north west corner of Bali for my first introductory scuba dive!!! I was a little apprehensive about my scooter injuries going into salt water, but excited to be trying diving! Paid 950K for 2 dives, we went straight into the sea & practiced for about 5/10mins cleaning my mask and taking your respirator in and out then we were off ha! It WAS AMMMMMMAAAZZZZING! Went down to 15m for 54mins the first dive, saw heaps of small colourful fish and stunnnning coral!! Then lunch and the 2nd dive, down to 18m along this 54m high wall of coral, saw 3 little sharks under a rock! Was just incredible! Knackered we caught a local bus to Gilimanuk where we stayed (for an extra 50K) in an aircon, white sheets, western flushing toilet, TV room, before catching the ferry across to java and a 7hr train to Probolingo. At Probolingo we had to ride a bicycle rickshaw to a travel agent who put us in a minibus up to Bromo for a 3.30am wake up to climb Mt Bromo (yep, another volcano!). When going up this windy hill, in the rain and cold wind (amazing how the temp fluxuates with height, go from hot humid lower land to cold, windy hill tops!), think Amy was thinking, not again! Mad mackie’s dragging me up another volcano for another disappointing sunrise…..however! our luck changed! We stayed in a pretty basic homestay (cheap), then got in a jeep and taken up to Mt Penonjakan, where you climb a hill and some steps to a lookout point, watching the sun rise over Bromo and the other volcanoes, beautiful!! And you can get tea and snacks up the top! Next we drove across the sand flats to the base of some steps to the rim of Bromo. About a 20min walk, and 200 steps later you are looking straight into Bromo volcano (a big muddy puddle at the bottom) and have 360 degree views around you! Stunning! Back to Probolingo after some breakfast (no pancake this time, mie gorang!), then a 7hr mini bus to Yogyakarta, which was in fact 12hrs!!

Yogyakarta was great! It was good to be in a city with modern shops, malls and (very exciting to Amy) Dunking Donuts  We stayed at lotus Losmen (we even had a sink, which seems to be a rarity here, bathrooms are just like wet rooms) on gang II, off Sosrowijayan (where all the backpacker places seem to be) just off the main street Malioboro, Went to the markets for food, celebrated Chinese new year and my 100th day of travel since the beginning of Oz! saw the water castle, sultans palace (one of the sultans had 11 wives and 75 children!!), some student batik market (don’t get suckered into the Batik Exhibition like I did – was informative, but a rip off), beringharjo market, ha and went to the Sono Budoyo museum in the eve after a 4am start again for a day trip to Borobudur and Prambanan (awesome temples! Get a guide, makes it so much more interesting!!) to see the puppet show. Its cool to just pop in and see how they are made out of buffalo skin, and its only 20K, but its for 2hrs and put it this way, we left after 1hr and that was just out of politeness! There is another volcano that is good to do (Mt Merapi) but by this point we were a bit volcanoe’d out ha! So hoped in a night train to Jakarta…

HA!! Night train, business class (which basically means with fans – but the fan didn’t actually hit us, but you can only get business class in the city, economy is 3km out or something), leaving at 6.30pm (go the day before or 1.5hrs in advance to get your ticket as there is a order form system), arriving 3.45am – really bloody convenient! Anyway, got in and you have quite a lot of leg room, but it was pretty warm and the seats are plastic (so you stick to them, lovely!) and they are upright (making it difficult to sleep). I’d recommend a blow up airplane pillow (my best purchase actually!). But after several hours of trying to sleep and being hot and uncomfortable, I take a look around to see how everyone else is managing and I see feet! People are sleeping on the floor! I think about it, it’s pretty dirty floor, ppl come in every stop selling food, calling in these monotone voices what they are selling (including OWLS!! Like something out of harry potter!?! Didn’t ask what they did with them :-p) and there was food and bottles rolling around, but after much contemplation, I was like, just do it! So, being slightly larger than the average indo who easily slides between the chairs, I lay the sarong down on the floor, and with the grace of an elephant crawl onto the floor, awkwardly slighting my gangly legs under the seat and maneuvering around bags and the debris, with our indo neighbour and amy in fits of giggles…well im glad someone was getting some entertainment out of the ordeal! Sore hipped, grubby and not much more successful on the sleep front we arrive in Jakarta to sleep in the station until a semi sociable hour to get a motorized tuk tuk thingy to the Jaksa area to stay at Hotel Tator (don’t be fooled by the name, but actually good location and def liveable, again a sink! Love it! Cant describe how weird it is brushing your teeth and spitting onto the floor!) Next day we get on the Transjakarta bus (3.5K, a great new system) down to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah which is a park of Indonesia, with all the island and their culture. They also have a waterpark, which looked highly appealing in the dirty smelly Jakarta heat, however for the girl that always wears a bikini for the just in case scenario, I was bikini less! It was interesting park, but nothing special. Back to the centre for some aircon and coffees with a free donut at J.Co (starbuck equivalent – though they have 24hr starbucks here too! And loads of massive malls!) Dinner was on Wahid Hasyium for the street food followed by a bintang on Jaksa street. Next morning over to Kota (the old town) and Sunda Kelapa (the port)…firstly ended up in China town (hectic, but you could get anything I think that you wanted), the heat is a real energy sapper, drains you! Managed (actually using my camera which extraordinarily has GPS, and yes… a new camera, 3rd “Tough” one, and I believe camera no. 10) to head north, walking besides the old canal system…woah! The stench! I had to just breath through my mouth to stop the smell and me retching! Up to the port (pelabuhan sunda kelapa), and the boats were cool, massive bows, kinda pirate looking, but not a lot else. Next tried to find the fish market (Pasar Ikan), which we either failed to find or it was not worth a trip. Drained and dirty we jumped in a tuk tuk to Taman Fatahillan (a museum – one of 6, that’s about all kota is good for, though we didn’t go in, so can’t comment on quality). After several hours of walking around with little reward we decide to head back, shower and change and give the infamous, nonstop nightlife a crack! Showered changed, a bintang at Melley’s then a couple on jaksa road, before catching the transjakarta bus to M…something (a couple of stops before Glodok – where china town was) and cross the road to head into Stadium – a club which apparently opens on Thursday and doesn’t close till Monday! We headed in and up to the 4th floor, the discotheque! 50K in (which we managed to avoid), and 187K for a pitch of beer – that is astronomical! Being a muslim country alcohol is expensive comparatively to everything else! Tbh, Jakarta wasn’t our fav place, and I think I locals knowledge would be good to find out where its all going on, it’s a massive place and I think one for a one or two night business trip and a company card!

All in all though, Indo is a great place and the start of our “banana pancake trail” as we recently discovered it is called (bit like the gringo trail for those who’ve travelled south America). There’s lots to see and do, and a great start to Amy and I’s tour to China! Just on the flight to Singapore to meet Hils (friend from home), Raspal and Nina (friends from Sydney)…oh and airport wise, it cost 140K for a ride to the airport (we opted for the metre taxi 127K with a 7K and 5K toll it came to about the same), then 150K for tax, and of course, my third flight, third trip to an airport and third issue…this time, I cruise up to the security desk thing and the guys talking to me, then he goes “Yes!” (as in, score, awesome), so I’m thinking ooo goodie, have I won something, 100th lucky customer? Free flight back to indo? Course not, “Yes!...you have to pay a fine!” oh hoorah!! …having had to get jetstar customer service to book my flight out of bali from Sydney airport to allow me to go to bali in the first place, they booked it on the 31st day that I’d been in Indonesia, hence had to pay a fine of 200K for staying longer than my 30 day visa…im avoiding flying from now on, 3/3 track record for Unsmooth travel! I guess I’ve still managed to get to my intended destination though…perhaps I shouldn’t count my chickens, currently at 20,000ft flying across open waters….touch wood! Gunna feel weird to step outside Singapore Airport, having spend soooo long in transit from SA to Perth!

Posted by ljmackie 18:54 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

The Red Centre and Sydney Christmas & NY

Darwin to Sydney

sunny 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!

Posted by ljmackie 17:33 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The Journey North Continued

Coral Bay to Darwin

sunny 38 °C

Soooo arrived in Exmouth, pretty up and coming town actually. Did our usual trip to the tourist info to get the low down then hit the northern tip of Exmouth for lunch and a spot of snorkelling. The 1st beach wasn’t the nicest tbh and so many flies! So moved onto SS Mildura Wreck. Again the beach was a bit stony but there was an awesome ship wreck from 1907 just off the shore PLUS we saw the biggest turtle i’ve ever seen, like 1m diameter!! We headed out towards the wreck. The currents were pretty strong and the water wasn’t the clearest, plus ive def watched too many cartoons! Was imagining a fat shark to come out from the hull of the boat! We made it to the boat and there were heaps of quite big fish and some more turtles. We saw through the wreck, so awesome! All rusted and a real skeleton (no sharks luckily). When we went to swim back the current was pretty strong, took us a good 40mins to get back, which was prob only 100-200m off shore. So a little wacked we made our way to Vlamingh head lighthouse caravan park so a shower and a change before watching a stunning sunset with a cool well deserved beer from the lighthouse.

Next morning off into Cape Range National Park via Jurabi Turtle centre (good info on the turtles in the area), T-Bone beach (had to go coz of the name), the then Turquoise bay – OMG STUNNING! This beautiful white sand, turquoise water bay with a reef full of amazing marine life and coral and turtles only about 20m from shore! Spent most the morning there before heading to Oyster Stacks – which you have to visit at high tide otherwise you hit the coral and kill it! These oyster stacks were impressive, also very sharp, but there was an abundance of marine life around them and the most vibrant coral ive seen to date. We headed down to Yardie Creek, right at the southern end of Cape Range NP to stay the night and lie on the beach under literally what looked like a dome of stars, unreal! Next morning up early for a walk through Yardie Creek, the only area with water in it actually. The fly net really makes such a difference! Essential item! Then hot and sweaty onto Osprey Bay to cool off have lunch, try a bit of fishing (unsuccessful) and have a snorkel..guess what we saw..more fish and more turtles, no but really you never tire from them, and actually this time we saw an octopus and a huge sting ray – quite scary looking actually, bit nervous to get close to that! If that wasn’t enough exercise for the day, it was time for another afternoon hike through Mandu Mandu gorge, very nice! Views through the gorge and out to the sea, and saw some rock wallabies. Few stone throwing and lifting comps then back to the lighthouse campsite for some grub, before heading over to Wobiri beach to watch the sun go down with nibbles and a beer...AND TURTLES LAYING EGGS! It just so happened to be turtle breeding season! Winner! It was pretty epic! The turtles wait till dusk, just bobbing up and down in the sea before coming ashore, taking an age to clamber up the steep banks and start digging a hole for lay the eggs in. My word, what a lot of effort, you see them have a heavy sigh and pause for a bit to get their energy back before digging deeper. The dome of stars was visible again, and the white wash of the waves rolling in looked as though they were in fast forward mode under the star light (like a David Attenborough program where they film for months then fast forward it!) quite cool.

Next day we have a bit of an epic 8hr drive to Tom Price, a mining town, where we stay the night before heading into Karijini NP. 1st stop Mt Bruce, climbing to the summit of the a pretty impressive mountain overlooking a riot into opencast mine. Took us about 4hrs return, and we went the wrong way at one point (gotta carry on climbing, rather than turning off) so ended up scrambling over a load of spineflex (should be called spikeyflex, bloody scratchy!). Next Dales Gorge where we woke up and had an awesome day! Walked from our camp spot (Kangaroo Loop) down to circular pool for a morning dip in a, guess what, circular pool! Aussies aren’t the most inventive with their names, but at least you know what to expect! So a couple of hours jumping off rocks and floating around, surrounded by vertical gorge walls. A stroll through the angular layers of rocks that formed the gorge to the next body of water, fortesque falls, for another swim and lunch. Last but not least another cruisy stroll and we finish at Fern Pool with a little waterfall to climb and sit under, as well as some rocks to jump off and fish that nibble at your feet eating all your dead skin..lovely! actually felt quite nice, until they discovered my recovering blister, oooouuuuuwwwaaaa! Ok thats enough! End of the day and we’re all feeling silly. Time for some ninja (aka noinine) throwing! Lots of splashing around, noise and disturbance. Walking back we saw a sign, ‘this site was created by the Serpent, it is a tranquil place, please enter the water quietly via the steps provided’...ooopps. Fun day though. One more night then off to Broome.

In Broome, this was where Shadi left us (to get all sensible and get himself a job and have a luxury holiday with his girlfiend ;-) haha). We arrived and it was Mango Madness, how awesome does that sound!?! I imagining rio carnival, lots of mangos piles on top of each other balanced on heads, dancing, music, a real celebration! So all excited we get all clamed up and head to the opening night, a mango madness cocktail competition! Woop woop!...terrible ha! Naa wasn’t that bad, we managed to have fun, but really rather boring, so we livened up the evening, ending up with a lot of ppl, including (for some reason unbeknown to me) with a lot of pirates, having a midnight swim. 1st event, pretty average, ok, 2nd event a festival at the mall, mango jams, chutneys, cakes and goods. Rock up to the mall after checking out the weekend market (again not the most amazing have to say) and outside coles (a supermarket, equivalent to like Tescos or something) and there are say 6 of those car boot sales tables making a circle, which you pay $2 to taste all the jams, chutneys and cakes and vote whos is the best. Right, no more mango madness ha! We went over to Gantheaume Point (have to get there for low tide at 4-4.30ish to see the dinosaur footprints, we arrived too late) and then watch the sunset. Very nice! I decided to go for a run at 6am the next morning...too late, its stinking hot by 6.30am and coz i didn’t get to see the dinosaur footprints (yes i know stubborn) i decided to run from Cable beach to Gantheaume Point, prob around a 14km return run. Saw the dinosaur footprints, luckily there were a group of specialists, so followed them around, otherwise would have had no idea! There are a few that look like something, but the rest are a bit far fetched, but apparently, “arrr its so clear they moved around here, see that”??!! 2.5hrs later i arrived back very thirsty, a little rough from both the sun and exertion, and literally, looked as though id just walked out of the sea with all my clothes on! Phew! Went for a stroll around broome, nice city, saw the worlds biggest pearl, about the size of a gobstopper, quite cool. I did a camel ride watching the sun go down, very relaxing (plus you get a free pair of pearl earings girls, boys get nothing haha). Then went for a bbq watching the sun go down before onto the outdoor cinema (over 100 years old, oldest outdoor cinema), where you sit in deck chairs and watched Moneyball. Shadi left us, and it was time to recruit! Put a load of adds up, then went for a spot of mini golf, love it! We checked gumtree too, and had really given up, as we hadn’t heard anything, then the arvo that we were about to leave i got 2 phone calls in the space of like 1/2hr. We met them later for a drink to see if they passed the Shirley (Motorhomes name) test. They did! So the 6 of us, Mike (aka Panda), Seb (aka Sleepy), Noinine (aka Ninja), myself (aka Mum, yup :-p haha), then Roos (dutch 22) and Conor (irish 23). So the 6 of us left the next to head north to Fitzroy Crossing.

Had an entertaining evening of games, introduced the cereal box game (winner every time), and our neighbour (a local) gave us some jarabies (like a greenish prawn) to cook up, so kind! Did a nice little walking in Geikee Gorge the next day, pretty toasty! Plus it was croc breading season so all along the foreshore you can see these croc trails. Seb, Ninja and I climbed to the top of a big rock, great views over the gorge. Then it was onto halls Creek. Didnt think there was much at hall creek so carried on driving and stopped at a 24hr stop. It was perfect! Had a place you could light a fire, coz 37 degrees wasn’t hot enough! No, actually seb really wanted to light fire without matches. So funny, all those who know about “30 days has November” will know the motions i went through to try and light fire without matches...i watched him do exactly the same, unfortunately with the same result – blisted hands, very sweaty, and no fire haha! Out came the matches and a roaring fire, which we cooked dinner on. There was a river near too, perfect for a morning swim. Actually whilst walking there, there were a whole load of, what looked like locus...as you walked millions of grasshoppers moved like a wave out of your way! Quite amazing, but quite gross too!

Onto Wyndham, not much there tbh either, the 5 rivers lookout has really good views and the grotto is cool – walk down 144 steps to this tomb raider looking pool, bright green rectangular pool with vertical walls on 3 sides with trees and their roots hanging down! And lots of monitor lizards! Bit gross to swim in, but a cool place. Then onto Kanunara.

Kanunara i tried to do a scenic flight over the bungle bungles and lake argyle, but they were booked up  sooo we did a walk in the mini bungle bungles in the hidden valley. The walks provided were pretty mellow, so we went a bit off road and it was a good fun adventure, well until Roos fell backwards off a rock and dislocated her shoulder, so off to hospital for xrays. She all ok, just gotta take it easy! We did a few of the aboringal art galleries. Really like their stuff, but boy pretty expensive!! $12K for a say 2m by 1.5m canvas! Also went to Zebra Rock gallery. The gallery is pretty average, although they have this zebra rock, which is only found here in the world, which funnily enough looks like a zebras skin patterning. But go feed the fish! You go down to this jetty and overlook a bit rock and river, stunning! Such a nice location we decided to crack open a bottle of plonk and get the chairs out and enjoy the view, whilst feeding a load of turtles and catfish. Beautiful! Oh and nearly lost my newly purchase prescription raybans telling a story (flicked the head back in excitement and threw my glasses into the water, dived down to grab them so fast i cut and bruised my leg! But got the sunnies back so all good!)

Onto Lake Argyle, apparently is so big it can fit like 30 sydney harbours in it!! We arrived via one road in one road out, which had water over it already and just as the sun was setting. Stunning! The drive, there was a creek that looked like there should have been dinosaurs wandering through the valley, and the lake itself was vast. Has an awesome echo too, get about 10 replies! Now, out campsite, this was pretty average, but the pool, woah, the pool...an infinity pool over looking ayres rock! Fricking awesome! The shadow of the mountains, the sheen of the lake and we were floating over it in a lit infinity pool! Highlight! Next morning, we had planned actually for a 4am swim to watch the sun rise, then a 5am hike as it was a 2hr return hike and you need to avoid the sun, but during the night the heavens opened and at 4am it was pouring! At 5am, still raining, 5.15am finished, ok lets go, 5.30am out the door on the walk, 5.40am pouring. Quite nice actually. Walked through that bloody spikeyflex again haha, but no, really was a lovely walk, even in the rain. Walked to the bluff which overlooked the lake, very nice! Then back for a swim before heading to Katherine Gorge.

Katherine Gorge NP has another luxurious campsite, really they must charge too much haha, but thougherly enjoyed it. They have walks around the visitor centre, which were easy and offered ok views, but get on the southern walks! We just went to the 1st walk which was only like a 6km return to the lookout and rockpool, but nice lookout and awesome rockpool. Coz it was in the shade it was cool, such a relief from the heat, and there was the perfect rocks to climb up and jump off (obvi a top priority for a rock pool!). Next stop Litchfield.

We didn’t make it that day as we left a little late, so stopped at another 24hr stop, for another fire, but this time it was so hot i slept outside under my mosi net on a concrete table – felt like i was on a sacrifice table under the moonlight haha. I survived them we headed for out for our last day! Ahhhh the journey north’s all coming to an end! Litchfield we went to Florence falls, very nice, and buley rockpool, better – guess what? More rocks to jump off! Even ventured a summersault! Ha! Then we headed to Darwin to clean the van (WHAT A MISH!! SOOOOOOO HOT TOO!) before handing it in at 4.27pm (shuts at 4.30pm haha). I met up with Odi, sooooooooooo nice to see her! Been an age! And got to stay in her fantastic apartment overlooking the lagoon! I got her out for a celebratory night out before we went our separate ways. Actually turned out Seb, Ninja and panda were all staying another week in Darwin before flying elsewhere so we went to Kakadu after a few fun days with Odi to Berry Springs (very nice, but closed due to crocs), Litchfield (cascade falls, very nice!) and Darwin highlights! Just so nice to have a bud to hang out and reminisce, and also a lounge with space to chill! Small things in life haha! Dont get me wrong Shirley was big (7m long), but still quite cozy with 6 of us in there!

Kakadu, there was a lot of seasonal closures, lots of mossi’s too! but we still managed to fill 3 days with walks, viewpoints, rock art is awesome there! And Ubirr lookout, overlooking Arnham land is spectacular at sunset! Note: take a torch so you can get back haha!

Uggggh, so goodbyes and best wishes all said, it was time for everyone to leave. Odi too was the first person from aus ive had to say goodbye for good :-( not looking forward to the 12th jan! But it was an epic west coast adventure! Lots of fond memories. Had a crack of dawn flight to Alice Springs today where im waiting to embark on an Uluru tour finishing in Adelaide before Syders on the 20th Dec! So funny walking around Alice, you breath and your throat is dry! Also ive been so used to sweating (seriously gross, but becomes normal haha) and here only your armpits sweat. Not because its not hot! Its coz you sweat and before it makes your skin wet, its dried! So hot and dry!!

Over and out until the end of Syders! Wishing you all a happy Christmas and New Year!!

Posted by ljmackie 02:55 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The Journey North

Perth to Coral Bay

sunny

The Journey North

Collect Shad from his rents (where he had his last big feed and probably good night sleep haha) and headed to the Pinnacles! The sun is shining, we stop off at a few look outs en route, the guys are getting on the back, playing cards and chatting away all is good! We missed some dune boarding at Lancelot (which apparently you can hire some boards pretty easily), but stopped at the Pinnacles which were quite cool! It was again $11 entry, but the motor home couldn’t do the Pinnacle drive. This was prob a good thing actually coz it meant we did a 1.2km walk, where you can wonder around the pinnacles and could really go where you liked, rather than being stuck to a road. This was where i first introduced.....the human pyramid! We made it!! And first time! They passed, they’re keepers haha! We were one man short, but it was still impressive and got us giggling! Next, onto Port Denision (where shad had been fishing before). It was nice, but i’d prob stay in Geralton next time, which is a bit further up, got more going on and was a good place to stock up. I cooked dinner, then the boys went fishing again (this time not as successful) which Nonine and I had a nice evening, watching TV, chit chattering. Next day we head up to Kalbarri national park to explore some more stunning coastline, natural rock formations and a few hikes to a beach for a flip flop kicking competition (tres amusant), and to see evidence of ancient worms, and hunted some crabs before camping in Murchison. We started taking it in turns to cook a meal for $10! It was a challenge, and tested the cooking skills in the house. The boys cooked bangers and spaghetti..did the job haha!

Next day time to do a serious walk in the depths of kalbarri national park. We had to travel down a dirt track (NEVER AGAIN!) before we made it to the Loop walk and teh natural window (Australian are hugely inventive with their naming!!?!). It was an awesome walk! 9km, stopped in the bottom of the gorge for a swim and a picnic, before completing the loop and heading towards Shark Bay. It took a little longer than expected again, and when a kangaroo ran off to the side of the road, a goat stood in the middle of the road, what i thought was a huge cat (im talking like a puma) jumping off to the side, and a vulcher with a massive wingspan fly off next to us, we decide to stop off in Hamelin at the Telegraph Station. Managed to get another free night (awesome!) and Nonine whipped up an Indian! Left early in the morning (7am!) and saw some stromatolites – first living organisms in the world) before heading to Shark Bay! Pulled into Denham, pretty windy, but gorgeous, then onto Monkey Mia! WOW! SUPER STUNNING! $8 each for entry, then pretty pricey camping, but clear clear water, white white sand, and not a lot of people. This was our first chillout time...had the guys on a pretty hectic schedule haha – they love it ;-) but was indeed nice to lie in the sun, get the bikini out and have a dip in the refreshing clear waters! Then the highlight of the day, just swimming in the water and dolphins come! And they have a baby splashing about and only about 1.5m away from us! Soo cool! There is dolphin feeding in the morning so we went and checked out the dealo, before heading to the bar for a cold beer and some games. Some more dophins came out to play later on, and we went for a stroll north and saw some rays and pelicans too. Watched the sunset, with the dolphins slashing before heading back to base for some food, goon and games and then the bar for some table football and pool! Fun night! I got up at 5am to see the sunrise, but not that great, so back to bed before dolphin feeding at 7.45am. As there were a couple of calves we weren’t aloud in the water with the dolphins but it was still pretty cool to see them & a few ppl got selected to feed them! (unfortunately none of us).

There was a 6km walk to the Big Lagoon in Francois NP on the way to Denham, which was only accessible by 4WD, but we figured we could walk it! So drove to the homestead, and started walking...this was soft sand, it was already getting hot, we had like 13L of water, food and were wearing good clothing, but when we reached the turn off for the Big Lagoon and it said 10km, we suddenly thought this wasn’t such a good idea. We carried on walking in the hope of getting a ride to the lagoon which we luckily did manage to get, but seriously it was a LOOOONG WAY! We then realised that if we didn’t get a lift back we could potentially be stranded here until the next morning, as i think most people pop down to the lagoon before heading to the Cape person which is supposed to be great (can see dugongs and sharks up there, but 40km on sand). So we managed to get a lift with the same guy – very kind! All 5 of us in his car with his wife and 2 girls! It was a bit of an eye opener! Its definitely more desolate over on the west coast and actually if i were to do it again, i’d prob do it in a 4WD with a tent or swag of something rather than a motor home, more chance of a being able to get a few more free nights parked on the side of the raod! Sheilla (our van) isn’t the most inconspicuous of vehicles! On the way back we stopped off at the Little Lagoon, just as nice really (need to wear shoes to swim at both lagoons as there are stone fish – deadly if you stand on them!) so the boys fished and shad and i went for a swim and tried spear fishing...amazingly not a lot in there! Back to Denham, relieved to be alive haha and we decide to have a movie night and a loungy meal – all of us eating dinner lying on Shad’s double bed, very cozy.

Next day onto Carnarvon to stock up. We were supposed to be going up to Coral Bay, but Shad was supposed to have dinner with a friend of a friend. It fell through, but it was too late to go so we pitched up and had a funny night playing Olympics – triple jump, slalom, penny dropping, boul, and many more!

Coral bay! Now i though Monkey Mia was pretty stunning, Coral Bay i think is more so and it has a reef swimming distance from the shore! Soooooooo nice! Clear clear waters again, a gradient of white to turquoise to blue! Then stingrays, parrot fish, eel looking things and reef! I popped into a dive shop advertising manta ray swimming, as the girls had given me a day snorkel with manta rays, but i wasn’t sure where for and it didn’t have an address on the voucher...turned out that was the place and they had a spot for me the next day!!! SWEET! 8.30am and we’re off!! Onto the boat and out into the crystal clear waters heading for our first snorkelling spot! Pru, our leader leads the way through an underwater gorge pointing out leopard like fish, turtles, sting rays, giant clams, mushroom coral, eel like fish with flute noses and a world of coloured corals. Spent the next hour face down in the water, duck diving, feeling like a mermaid! Love it! Then back to the boat, a bite to eat and off to the main part of the day, swimming with Manta Rays! You could see the shadows from the boat, then into the water we go! Its quite murky, but we can swim a metre away alongside the manta rays gliding elegantly through the waters. We get two sessions with the manta ray so you really get to enjoy swimming with them, just wish i could hold my breath for longer!! Buffet time, then a spot of sunbathing before an afternoon snorkel at the ‘Cleaning Station,’ once again Pru led us out, it was a bit rougher as we were near the break, so had to swim a bit harder, but turning the corner to the cleaning station, which is basically a huge coral which little fish live in and big fish swim around and get cleaned. We entered, a fish attached itself to my leg, and we saw a huge eagle ray and shark swim underneath us!! Sooooooooo amazing! Then we had about 7 or 8 sharks swimming around the station below us! Everything about the sharks put you on edge, whilst massively getting the adrenaline flowing! I went back to get my camera and then went out again with one of the new instructors, and coz we were both proficient swimmers we swam for ages exploring all the nooks and crannies! Would be awesome to work on a boat like that and get to go out each day, but geeze! By the end of the day i was pooped! And burnt for that matter! Def one of my Top Birthday Pressies ever though!! Thanks sooooooooooooooo much!! Best thing ive done on this hols so far!! Off to Exmouth tomorrow which i pick up my specs (yes i’ve finally got around to get some) and to hopefully see some turtles laying eggs!! Stay tuned!

p.s i hate flies!

Posted by ljmackie 16:57 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The Australian Adventure

Southern Loop

all seasons in one day

Monday 31st First day back in Australia, first day in perth and it is glorious!! The sun was shining and i had the most amazing lie in! It was time to sort out my bag for travels. You wouldn’t believe the logistics behind getting rid of 3 years of accumulated belonging from Sydney. Stuff for home, south Africa and for travels! I took 25kg worth of stuff over to SA to offload onto the rents and Lil very kindly took another suitcase of stuff over to Perth for me to pick up (legend!). With everything sorted, a few more items ditch, it was time to head into town to see what Perth had to offer and get started on recruiting for my Wicked campervan. This time issues with getting internet, first the stick didn’t work, 2nd wasn’t activated, the 3rd was slow so then i was advised to get a pocket wifi, requiring passport, address, bank statements! Knackering day, but eventually got sorted adn went back to Cottesloe to enjoy a beer and the sun going down with Katie and her housemates! Next day i finally get a chance to hand out some flyers for the van, i trek around the whole of Northbridge stopping off in every hostel and travel agent, then over to Freemantle, then to cottesloe, before running back into town to meet Mike for a drink then Katie to go head home. Finally its the 3rd and time for my adventure to begin. I have a German guy (20years old) and a Italian guy (22 years old)...what am i doing ha! Im gunna be the mum!!

I start walking with my backpack towards the station to make my way to the Wicked Campervan base when i get a call from a 30year old aussie who’s interested in potentially joining and very kindly offers me a lift...which turns out to be great as its bloody miles away! When we get there....OMG!! i know Wicked campervans are graffitied, but i thought inside it would be reasonably kept and def more spacious, but it seriously was mouse and moth eaten and tiny for 3 ppl and having to sleep next to two strange men ha! Shad, the aussie, was like no thanks and i had to agree! I’d booked it through an agent and it was pretty bloody expensive for what it was. Whilst asking the wicked people for a refund as i didn’t feel safe driving in this clapped out van. They said they couldn’t so then i spent the next 6hrs between the agent, a company that we found who had a 6 berth motor home with DVD, toilet, shower, kitchen, 3 double beds, fridge, 3 double beds..basically an awesome machine for $100 more!!! Ended up getting half my deposit back and leaving the next day in the motor home!! It was a stressful morning so shad and i went to the pub, had a drink, played some pool (the binding moment haha) then he very kindly offered for me to stay at his place (his parents). Rocked up at this mansion haha and his mum was lovely, gave us some wine, nibbles, a huge dinner, i met Shad’s girlfriend (lovely), and then had my own en suite room! So many dramas and its only day 4 of my 8 months travels!!

Next day went to pick up the beast! NB: rock up at 8am or 11am (between 9am and 10am its rush hour). Running a bit late we picked up Seb (the German 20 year old) on our way down south. We headed to Mandurah for fish and chips and to get to know each other and we all got on like a house on fire! Awesome! Down to Busselton to see the longest jetty in the southern hemisphere, so much so that they have a train that goes down it then at the end they have an underwater observatory which goes down into the water at the end fo the jetty! We were a bit late for that and it is free to go on the jetty after 6pm, so we went to the shops got some bait and beers and headed down the jetty to watch the sun go down and do some fishing! I brought my laptop and speakers, coz the first and only time i’d been fishing before it was a little slow....Not here! After 5mins, just got the laptop up and running and then we had a catch! Heaps of Herons!! There was a Korean chap who gave us a bit of advise on wait bait to use and then we caught even more! He came over later and was chatting to us and asked if we like sushmi!! Urrrg yes! So he got his fish, filleted, whipped out some dried seaweed and his wifes homemade hot sauce and gave us some sushi in return for a glass of goon ha! So fresh! Saw him scrap off the blood, cut out the bone, de skin the fillet, then pop it in out mouths ha! quite cool! Had a great first day and night!

7.30am the next day we get a knock on the door...its the traffic warden, apparently you cant just park up anywhere, gotta park in campervan sites. Luckily we only got a warning, but otherwise it would be $100 per person!! We quickly regrouped and made our way down to Cape Naturaliste for a walk around the lighthouse and for some whale watching. There were loads! Breeching heaps too! Onto Bootleg brewery, then tested out the wineries, chocolate factory (AMMMMAAAZING...Three bowls of dark, milk and white chocolate drops which you can just help yourself to...Seb and i went up about 5 times, then seb filled his hand – quite a big hand! And filled a glass in the van of these drops!) Felt a bit queezy after that! But onto the dairy factory for some cheese tasting before managing to find a free nights accommodation (arrive late, leave early!)

Turns out Sebs a good sleeper. Shad and i wake early and get on the road for Augusta. Sebs in the back of the van bouncing around and still sleeping. When we arrive in augusta there is an event on, so there are reams of people and runners everywhere. We wait in the road watching the runners go by eating our breakfast, before we can make it up the the lighthouse. Its stunning down this way! The coast is pretty rough, wind blowing, but orange rocks, with lush green veg, blue blue see, white sands and blue sky! Next we head to Pemberton (i missed the bicentennial tree and the waterfall – which are supposed to be good) but we went to the Gloucester Tree which is a 62m high Karri tree you can climb up. Its $11 per car to enter then you can climb the tree for free! There is minimal health and safety, felt like i was back in south Africa again, but its awesome! Bit hairy if you come across someone going up or back down as you ascend via these reo bars spiralling up the tree. Apparently there are from the 1930s and were an aboriginal way of spotting fire in a tall treed forest. Next to the valley of the giant in Walpole, a bit over priced tbh, but still cool to ascend a 40m high boardwalk through the Tingle trees (not as big as the Karri trees but still pretty big). You can then walk through the Ancient forest, which is interesting too, but i think the Gloucester tree and bicentennial tree (at 68m tall) is better value for money. We stayed the night in Walpole down by the lagoon, which was quite pricey but meant we could power up, and refresh all the systems.

From Walpole, onward to Albany. We’d been so lucky with the weather with the rain only falling at night and whilst we travelled, but then the sun would come out when it was time for us to see stuff! It was a pretty miserable day, managed to get a break in the weather to see the Elephant Rock and Green Pools (the water was so clear! And loads of rocks to climb and clamber over!) When we go to Albany we stocked up at the supermarket then headed south to go see some more rock formations. At the time i mentioned going you could barely see 10m in front of your from the rain, but when we arrived at the Natural Bridge and the Gap it was beauty sunshine! It was stunning being on the edge of these rock formations with the formidable sea crashing against the rocks and spray going everywhere, and drops of 20m + all around you. Next to the blow holes, not the most impressive but awesome south...bit like a whale when they surface and blow out their blowhole. We left around 3.30pm and headed north, aiming to get to Wave Rock, the last stop of our southern loop! We passed through the Stirling Ranges, which in the afternoon sun were pretty impressive. By the time the sun went down, we only managed to make it to Lake Grace & stayed in a very countrified site (eerie old woman running the place, people evidently live there and there is not a lot else around...lock all the doors ha!).

Next morning, still alive, we make an early start to Wave Rock. This is a 20m wall of rock which looks, unsurprisingly like a wave! It had bands of fossilised algae and has been formed by water erosion and the rock rotting (which ive never heard of), but good fun and surprising steep as we tried to surf it. There was a hippo yawn formation too, which also looked like a hippo yawning. It was time to head back to Perth to pick up a couple of Dutches keen to join our crew!

Met them at Freemantle and went for some drinks and met up with Popeye (from my uni hockey). Again, very lucky! Everyone’s getting on! Its exciting! Gunna be an epic trip north if it carries on like this!!

Posted by ljmackie 16:56 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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