Sunday, 23 December 2012

How Things Change

Soundtrack: ALT-J - Something Good

Finally we have been reunited with Clare and Laura,  back to a group of 5. The last month has been  interesting. I have come out the other end a slightly changed person. Eventful and challenging indeed, but am I glad I did it? Of course, everything is a learning curve. Me, Hannah and Ray make good functional trio, no arguments, just giggles. Highlights include; abusing the confessions box at the end of the world party, the dogs, the steak, the koala park, the rowing boat, pear cider, Kelly and Damien, the peacock's dance and collecting bugs from the wall and naming them (Pet & Gwen).

So here we are back to being travellers again, back to living out of our backpack, and it feels like home. I craved the travellers life style after a month without it, and missed the simplest of things; boxed wine and playing cards, our plastic cutlery, our McDonald's sachets salt and peppers, cooking in a communal kitchen and sleeping in a dorm with young strangers who become friends. 

Christmas Eve
Life is perfect here at Amy's house in Newcastle. Sunshine, Christmas decorations,  films, beach, board games and $300 dollars worth of food and alcohol. There are NINE different types of cheeses in the fridge waiting to destroy our bikini bodies, and I cannot wait! Clare 
baked chocolate brownie and Hannah and Laura have baked politically incorrect 
gingerbread, the best kind. We have a naked Santa, an elf with extremely large tits, and a hitler gingerbread. Ah back to normality! 
Add caption

Christmas Eve BBQ

Life's good on the beach... even at Christmas! 

Time for a beer :)

It's the little things

It's those little things in life that make everything worth while!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Life in the Bush

Days of the week and month mean nothing at the moment, there's no single day where im familar with the day of the week. So far from home in every sense of the word, but so comfortable and happy in our new country life in Pappinbarra.
 Free food, and free accomodation in exchange for about 3 hours work a day, and also the odd paid job. Out in the bush, our daily routine is as follows: get up at 7, feed the horses Barney and Belle, do a couple of hours house keeping, lunch around 11, then we are free to do as we wish until its time to cook dinner. We usually end the day with a film or a couple of hours reading. I bought the first Twilight book 4 days ago and finished it last night.  Everything is so flexible here, 5 hours work one day means a day off the next. A full day to read, explore the local town or play with the dogs and sit in the sunshine (when the heat is bareable). I am so unbeleiveably grateful of how lovely our 'boss' is, I use the term boss but he is more 'owner of the house' and friend. Scott helped build this impressive house the last 10 years, a grand wooden design with more windows than wall built within 900 acres of land. He needs a hand getting it back to the palace it once was, and theres nothing more satifying than doing a good job for a good man.

The dogs need their own paragraph. Susie the mother, a shiny coated Rhodesian Ridgeback, a true lady. Willie, her checky pup with paws he is still growing in to. And Taz, loyal little Taz: no relation to the other two but the origional dog. She comes running to save you at one clap of your hands (those bulls can get pretty scary).


Me, Ray and Hannah are working well together, and I'm learning more about cooking than I did during my 3 years uni.  Tonight me and Hannah watched the Green Mile, whilst Ray got an early night, and Scott visited a neighbour. Its quite scary being alone in a house at night in the middle of nowhere surrounded by massive windows revealing darkness. The kookaburras sound like they are cackling, my imagination needs no encouraging. No doubt it is safer than any house in the city, especially with a river to get through, an electric fence and 3 dogs guarding the place.

Scott is planning a treat outing for us, perhaps lunch and a visit to the koala sanctuary. We are also invited to a local party, bowling with the neigbours, and our own Christmas before the real thing. This is one of those day-to-day things you get on with, without thinking much about anything excepct the task at hand, then on reflection, it becomes apparent just how lucky we are to have found this little gem of a job.

Me and Ray got stuck in a storm!
Hannah and Donald/Daisy

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Mission to Magnetic

Soundtrack: Red Rabbits- The Shins

Our last night in Mission Beach after the skydive, we headed down to the local (and only) bar with our new friends. There was a live reggae singer who passed the microphone to Clare for a sing along, who then passed it to me. All of a sudden Jamaican rap spilled out of my mouth and appeared to rhyme! I was MCing for about ten minutes with a surprisingly impressed audience. I dont quite know how it happened, but it was fun! 'Mi shoe is broke, because some bloke, he lost his track and he stood on da back. I don't know what im saying, i'm talking shite, but according to you It sounds alright AIGHT!'

The following day (Saturday 18th), a four hour Greyhound bus and a ferry lead us to Magnetic Island, just off the coast of Townsville. Named so due to Captain Cooks failing compass upon discovery. He figured it had an unusal magnetic field, we won't tell him he just bought a faulty compass hey.

The place is heaven, but the heat is hell. We stayed at Bungalow Bay YHA, a hostel that stands out as my favourite so far, attached to a koala, bird and lizard sanctuary. We made friends with a lovely Irish girl named Maria, who also shared our cabin. Me, Clarem Laura, Maria, a couple of cockraoches and a token possum who climbed the outskirts. I woke up in the middle of the night staring into his eyes! There were cockatoo's flying about, kookaburras, toads, possums and wallabies. We held 5 variations of lizard, a crocodile, a turtle, cuddled a baby Koala and saw a Wombat.

The next morning Lau and Clare departed to start their farm job south of Sydney. It was quite strange being alone after all this time with company. I felt a little needy and vulnerable for about 10 minutes and then I loved it. Its really quite wonderful being left to your own devices, it feels completely free. I explored the beach, re organised my backpack, had a coffee, and chatted for a whole hour in the pool with a lovely new friend Susan from America. The rest of the day was spent melting in hammocks, and down at the beach. That evening was Bingo! I was joined by Essex Dan from my room, Monike, Susan and a few others. I won bingo twice, one round won by a dance-off due to a tie round. I think my forward rolls won the audience over. I drank my winnings with my new little social group, played ring of fire, star gazed on the beach, played on kids swings, (got stopped by the police...i think they were bored!) then ventured back by 1 in the morning. A lovely evening with lovely company, i was sad to leave.

Next stop- Port Macquarie.

I made a good friend on the place, we had a giggle. She was 10 month old but who cares, age isn't an issue right?

Time to meet up with Hannah and Ray and start work helping an Australian fella with his land and animals: an exciting and unpredictable prospect.

A new chapter :)

Friday, 16 November 2012

Mission Beach and Skydive

The last 6 days in Mission Beach have been wonderful. I admit, most days we have taken full advantage of the living-room style layout with a hard drive of films. I watched the film 'Taken' for the first time, one of the most powerful but disturbing films I have seen. Watch it!

Me Laura and Clare found 3 inviting deck chairs on the beach, and I read to them out loud, a lovely afternoon! The heat here is intense! We have met some great people, Alice, Amber, Mika and Paddy, to name a few. 

Now to the highlight of the week; our skydive. Of course parachuting out of an aeroplane is going to be intense, but it was more insane than I could of ever imagined. We piled into an aircraft that looked like a toy, straddled seats strapped to a man behind us, and looked out the windows as we flew through clouds to a height that made Australia look like a satellite image. I was higher than I ever imagined. 'Don't look down' -we kept telling ourselves, but of course we did, the plane was like a green house! 14,000 feet and land was hardly visible, the idea of choosing to climb out of the aircraft seemed ridiculous. The door slid open. The first tandem pair approached the exit, sat on the edge of the plane, head up, back arched, and gone. They were swept away like a twig in a cyclone! It was terrifying to watch this 9 times before my turn. I remember Laura's face of determination, and Clare's watery eyes as she held her own face.  Laura went, then Clare went, and I was last. We sat on the edge of the plane, I escaped my own mind, there's no other option really. My legs were being pulled by the wind, he lifted my chin back, I heard 'steady and go!' and I was falling like a tennis ball through the sky. It was literally insane! I remember it in stages, first i couldn't function or make sense of anything, it was just some kind of auto pilot, a manic existence. Then I realised the feeling in my body, the feeling of ultimate speed and butterfly's, like someone stealing my stomach and throwing it. It  was a new league of adrenaline and excitement that nothing else in the world could create. I thought my ears were going to fly off, and my mouth was literally flapping in the wind.  Everything I had been told to do with my arms and legs just flew out the window and apparently I was peddling a none existent bike. I was pleased to realise I could breathe, although it took a second or two to remember. The free fall went on for around 60 seconds, 10,000 feet, but the ground got no closer.  Usually when you are falling, like on a roller coaster, there are handle bars, a few seconds when you have reached maximum speed, then it slows down, but this was continuous free fall with only your own arms to hold on to. We were flyyyyyyyying!

 The parachute opened after 10,000 feet and we jolted and flew up in the air. I checked my ears were attached. At this point it was relaxing, and  we could hear each other talk. I invented numerous swear words at this point, 'JESUS MOTHERING ACTUAL CHRIST' and got stuck on repeat. It's all I could say. He must have thought I was either highly religious or just suffering from some form of Tourette's syndrome. But he laughed. Goggles off, and we sailed down through clouds with our own shadow projecting onto the cloud below with a rainbow ring around it. Paradise! I looked up and saw Clare and looked down and saw Laura, they looked like birds. 8 or so minutes later and we landed on the beach one by one, i ran around screaming to burn some of my adrenaline. It was incredible.

It took a good few hours to come back down to earth, we were re living parts for hours, and laughing hysterically at our wobbling air filled cheeks from the DVD. I take my hat off to those skydiver instructors, who throw them selves off a plane 9 times a day.

What a day. 

Sunday, 11 November 2012


Sound track: Sam and the Womp- Bom Bom

Just to explain, the song I list at the beginning of each blog entry is a  song that was most listened to, or reminds me of the past week. I always write with my headphones in, there's nothing like a bit of music to fuel a thought! Sam and the Womp is not my usual creative thought soundtrack, and perhaps the Austalians outdated cheesy dance music choice is rubbing off on me a little, but this song was played at the hostel club all week and we belted out during our pre drinking shenanigans. This week has been party week! Airlie Beach has grown on us a little more each day, now we can't walk 2 minutes from the hostel without seeing someone we know, I like that. 

Something that striked me ths week is how well us 5 go together. We are all different, but it like 5 different ingredients making a tasty little cake! Where else could I belt out songs from Buffy the Musical without being judged? 

Our 2 nights on board the Habibi sailing round the Whitsunday islands were 2 days to remember. There were 21 other people on board, plus 3 crew; Liam and Ryan, and Captain Bluie! The first day we sailed for the best part of 3 hours whilst absorbing the sun and the turquoise views whilst Ryan and Liam cooked for us; sausages, stake, pasta, bread and salad. Due to sea sickness i only managed bread, I might have eaten some sausage if i hadn't of rolled it onto the floor along with my fork. If there were a sport in cutlery dropping I would be world champ. That evening after a few glasses of wine, ( by glasses I mean plastic cups, and by wine I mean goon) we were rocked to sleep in our cabins. The cabins downstairs looked like they were build for an anorexic version of the 7 dwarfs, walking down the corridor I made the most of feeling like a tall person , for what will be the only time in my life.  

The next day was brilliant! The bell rung at 6.30  a.m for breakfast and a cup of tea, then we went to Whitehaven beach and took some stereotypical mid air jump photos. If that's the second best beach in the world I can't imagine the beach holding first prize.  After sailing and lunch aboard, it was time to snorkel the coral reef, and my nervous butterflies took off. Stinger suits on, flippers attached, snorkel sucking our eyes out, ready to go! We lowered ourselves into the sea, Hannah latched onto ray and I latched onto Clare. I bobbed around in tow, scrunched up in a ball so the metre sized fish didn't engulf me. But as soon as I lowered my head and looked underwater the fear swam off! A new world!  We followed a docile looking turtle as he munched on plankton, we found nemo, and swam through schools of  illuminous fish. Whilst I was so happy to have conquered my fear I was relieved to get back to the safety of the boat.   

 We were treated to spaghetti bolognaise and garlic bread that evening, and the crew introduced us to a drinking game. 4 boxes of Goon later, we fell asleep under the stars.

Back in Airlie beach we joined our new boat friends for free pizza and drinks and we took part in another club competition (jelly wrestling). Of course we won again ($300) Well done Ray!) Which brings our weekly winnings at $800...not bad. 

Next stop: Mission Beach

Sunday, 4 November 2012

So over super noodles

Monday 5th November

Soundtrack: Of Monsters and Men- Little Talks

This song reminds us 5 of the past few weeks in Australia, although none of us actually recall hearing it. Our subconscious minds must have noted it!

We have spent the last 5 days at Magnum's hotel in Airlie Beach. The 14 hour greyhound was a breeze, we managed to spend 10 hours of it snoozing, yet still needed sleep when arrived. I think we have all had a bit of travellers 'freshens flu' this week. Sore throats, coughs, achy limbs and the ability to have a lengthy nap after a decent nights sleep. We did a weeks worth of food shopping for £10 each and incorporated a fields worth of veg into every dish. I am SO over super noodles. 

Saturday night we partied hard. WHAT A NIGHT. We challenged ourselves to get drunk enough to take part in a cheeky dance competition in the night club, simply because the winner got $ 500 cash. We all made a pact to share the money if any of us won. So when Hannah won the competition we turned into screaming mad girls. $500 is a LOT of money to backpackers. It was one of those nights out that just seemed to go on for hours, it almost had chapters! We also got given $50, 2 vodka red bulls, a jug of beer, 3 glasses of champagne ( and a free T-Shirt ;) ) 

In 2 days we are going on a 3 day boat trip round the Whitsunday Islands, which includes snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef! Now for someone who panics swimming over a fish tile in a swimming pool I'm not sure I can go ahead with the snorkelling part but i am going to try very very hard to push my self to the limit. We shall see...

Monday, 29 October 2012

3 days on Fraser Island

Where do I start. 
So all I knew about Fraser Island was that it is a 'must see' island of white sands and turquoise water, but it was so much more. 

6.30 we prised ourselves out of bed, free pancakes, a lost (then found) room key, a lecture on 4 wheel driving, dingo safety and sea dangers and we were ready to go. We were put in a group of 10, the only group to be driven by a tour guide, with 4 others groups following in convoy.  Team ARF-ur!

All the roads on Fraser Island are sand dunes so we were all thrown around in the car like clothes in a tumble dryer, a fast track to getting close to those we shared our 4WD with. One slight rock and your sat on the person next to you! Looking back, I miss the bumpy driving conditions, and every journey to and from the campsite. But every single thing that happened on Fraser Island added to the experience. The night I wore 6 flip flops, watching out for sharks in the waves,  the journey holding Hannah's sick bag, finishing off bags of goon then using the wine bag as a pillow, cutting my face getting too close to the limbo stick, our driver Darren, loosing my shoes on a 2 hour trek through a forrest in the WRONG direction, the many dark walks to the toilet armed with a dingo stick, the card games with goon, a campsite with 68 young backpackers, making it up a scary sand hill and waiting for the cars in convoy to make it (or not, in most cases), the hand sized spider, the fantastic weather, the times I collapsed laughing, the eagles, the birds with cocktail stick legs, making friends in the shower line, giving mouth to mouth to my finger puppet Notorious P.I.G, the creaking trees, irish people, getting lost in snake/dingo 
territory, getting my hair caught in the tend zip, losing most of my belongings, then 
finding them...all! And then all the wonderful trips we had at Lake Wabby, Lake Mackenzie, Champagne Pools, the natural lazy river, and the evenings cooking dinner in our groups.

The campsite: K'Gari, (Paradise) is owned by Aboriginals, and so followed 2 strict spiritual rules. 
1. No spitting into fire.... Reasonable, and easy to follow!
2. No whistling...
 The evil spirits are definitely out to get me now.  To me, a whistle ban is harder than a talking ban! Whistle just leaks from my mouth subconsciously most seconds of my existence, and so of course I got told off a lot. It was so strange to follow such a foreign rule, to be banned from doing something that I see as harmless and uplifting. But, I tried! :)

 I walked so hard my legs ceased up, and laughed so hard my stomach muscles 
cramped. And we have made some fabulous friends... Miss Power and Miss Fleming, to name just a couple. The thing I loved most is how a room full of complete strangers from all over the world, can turn into a family during a 3 day camping trip, even our tour guide noticed- 'the best Fraser trip to date'.

I can't do a day to day diary log of my 3 days on the island, because just too much happened and it would take too long. All I can say is...when I have a child, I'm calling him Fraser!

Next stop: Airlie Beach

On the road

Written Thursday 25th October

Soundtrack: Mumford & Sons- Below my Feet
'Keep the earth below my feet
From i swear my blood runs weak
Let me learn from where I have been
Keep my eyes to serve... 
My hands to learn'

On the greyhound bus, with Mumford accompanying the ever changing canvas the windows have to offer. Every now and again I think 'this is Australia!'. It's hard sometimes matching a word with so many associations,to the place you are seeing with your own eyes. Parts of the countryside look like Yorkshire, followed by an area of dark orange rock, a turquoise lake and a koala road sign. That's when I remember where I am.

We are heading north to Rainbow Beach, where I picture the sands to resemble those old school holiday souvenir jars filled with multicoloured sand. An unrealistic expectation waiting to be dashed! Every time we move from one place to another it's like the start of a new holiday. What beds will we sleep on? What will be our local shop? Who will we meet?

We're very excited for our 3 day Fraser Island camping trip starting from Rainbow Beach tomorrow, and also a little scared. 

I have my rape alarm incase a Dingo tries to kiss me! (Or a snake, or a Jelly Fish, or an eagle, or a shark, or a huntsman spider... )

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Life on the Sunshine Coast...

Life on the Sunshine Coast...

...lives up to its name. Mostly because Becky Smart is a resident here, and also because it has names like Mooloolaba, and a lot because the sun shines every day! 

Thursday, our last night in Brisbane at 'Somewhere to Stay' was messy; 2 boxes of goon, karaoke, and spontaneous busking.  Laura got thrown out of the bar for doing not much at all, (spilling some alcholic beverage over a sound system). But it worked out in our favour as Hannah became 'joint vocalist' with a late night busker with a crowd of drunken appreciative Aussies dancing to the beat. Film footage to follow!

The next morning we dragged our hungover limbs to Brisbane train station to meet Amy last the Atkin sisters reunited!
Next stop: Sunshine Coast.

We stayed at Mooloolaba Backpackers, a lovely clean hostel with crisp white linen and an appealing pool out the front. The first night we  met up with my long lost uni friend Becky, and had a cheeky Thai meal. Amy covered the bill, what an absolute treat! How lovely. 

The next few days me Hannah and Laura stayed at Beckys lovely beach front apartment whilst the others stayed at the backpackers. We spent days flat out on the beach, days by the pool, a drunken evening in a fabulous sweaty Irish bar, and sober evenings watching films and having a bbq on the beach. Tomorrow we are hoping to go kayaking, and rent a bike from the hostel, then Fraser Island is on the cards!

I love this life style. The feeling of being completely free from any task, any routine and any job. Free to go wherever we want, and do what ever we want to do in the sunshine with like minded people. The only chore involved in backpacking is getting that damn rucksack on our backs in between hostels. It's like trying to give a piggy back to the worlds fattest man in the hottest country ever. 

Is a good job it's worth it!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Tues 16th

Soundtrack: Bon Iver- Tower
Today I have been exploring Brisbane's West End on my own with the sole purpose of Finding a nice bookshop it's a good life! I always need the right combination of social time and solo time to get the best out of myself, and life. One without the other and I'm just not on top form! Laura, Hannah, Clare and Ray have gone to explore the Brisbane Botanical gardens. 

I have bought a book called 'all that I am' by Anne Funder, and I bought a cheeky travellers treat... A caffe latte!  

So now I'm lying in the sunshine on a patch of grass with music in my ears. Aah it's
crazy how bloody fabulous music and people watching is, I think soundtracks to life 
should just be pumped out of tree's!

Update- 8.30pm
This evening we made the most of $4.95 dominos pizza night, and bought a 12 pack of Oranjeboom beer! In the alcohol shop whilst discussing our funds the shop keeper asked if we needed any help. Without thinking Clare replied 'We're just having a mass- debate!' Awkward...

Pizza, beer, and cards in our new hostel. That's my sort of evening!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Time to leave our first hostel, and head to the next! It keeps you on your toes not knowing where you will be living and sleeping from one day to the next. Brisbane's inner city lagoon seems to have adopted the role of 'favourite hang out spot' for us at the moment. And it was a great place to nurse yesterday's hangover! Ok, the Lagoon is man-made... but so is Art!

I'm looking forward to the next few days in our new hostel just across the river, $23 Aussie dollars per night, swimming pool included- HELLO! The count down is on until Wednesday 17th when we are seeing Mumford & Sons live at the Brisbane Riverstage. 


Saturday, 13 October 2012

12th October... or possibly 13th

Our little dorm, where we have spent the majority of the last couple of days fighting this re-occurring jet lag. Oof it doesn't half bite you back if you succumb to that one cheeky day time nap on day one! Massive error!

We find our selves in some kind of early evening coma, and wide awake in the middle of the night having to keep ourselves silent so not to wake the others. I woke up to find a 
certain ( anonymous) lady scouting the floor for her water bottle at about 3 a.m, trying so hard not to wake anyone in the process. Then she let out an almighty trump which made us and HERSELF jump, and she scrambled into the corner of the room trying to contain her giggles. Quality moment. 

This morning me, Ray, and Hannah are awake waiting for Laura and Clare to WAKE UP. Why is it always the silent moments when giggles are more appealing. Hannah crunching on a raw carrot is breaking the silence in quite a comical way, especially as she laughs after every crunch! Water, carrots, cereal, pasta and rice noodles is our diet for this week. With a bit of pasta sauce and soy sauce thrown in when necessary! (...and crisps vodka and wine).

After a frustrating evening last night fighting with Yorkshire bank's incapability to transfer money to a foreign account, today we are having a relaxing day at Brisbane lagoon. We have our first bag of Goon for this evening (a cheap box of Australian wine), and Hannah has her bottle of vodka. So tonight will be our first drinking sesh. 

Watch out Brisbane!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Quite a long way to go!

Saying goodbye.
I hate it! So I make it brief and unsentimental, shake off the emotion, then dwell on it later. There were about 11 friends and neighbours on the terrace to wave us off to Heathrow, touching to say the least.

The flights were all very smooth and hassle free, we got fed 2 days worth of food in the space of 12 hours, I really didn't plan on fattening my self up before a season of bikini wearing. Apart from the Chicken sausage (who does that!?) the food was awesome!

Me and Hannah walked out of Brisbane airport to find the train station, and despite the lack of  awareness due to extreme exhaustion we still managed to appreciate the heated air and tropical smell.

First stop: Chill backpackers hostel, Brisbane.

We arrived into a dark room of 7 sleeping males, we had to scramble for a head torch whilst trying to figure out which beds didn't have a sleeping person in, it felt like we were disturbing some boys sleep over party or something! Hannah recalls snores in the night, followed by someone scrambling over to the snoring culprit, and smacking him across the face. He sat up abruptly, acting on some kind of subconscious instinct, then went back to sleep. Job done!

The next morning, October 11th, we were reunited with a very sleepy trio. Clare, Ray and Laura.. It was nice to be complete! 'Ooh is that the moon?' -'No Ray, thats the plane's wing light!' After a quick swap of journey stories, and a little treat (in the form of a KFC) we decided to have a little nap. 'Just like 3 hours or something yeh? Who's going to set their alarm?'
... Nearly 8 hours later we woke up.
I have no idea of what time or day it is, but it appears to be night time!
Tomorrow is when it all begins :)