Saturday, March 31, 2007

I Just Spent Half My Remaining Budget on Two 2-Day Tours

Yes, that's right folks, I just forked over about $550 for two amazing experiences not to be missed in Queensland.

On TUesday I will board the Defender - a classic tall ship that sails the Whitsunday Islands. I will be onboard 2 days and 1 night. We'll be stopping on some of the islands and going snorkelling. We'll also be fed all our meals and get to help with the sailing if we want.

Further on down the coast I will be taking a 2-day one night trip to Fraser Island - the world's largest sand island, where beauty and dingos abound.

Oh, but what of a recap...I actually don't remember when I last posted, I think I was staying with Lynn & Aaron at the Nature Refuge, so I'll pick up from there. Right, so I left Bibinda and headed to Mission Beach for just one night of chilling out. I ended up having an absolutely BRILLIANT time - mainly because I ran into two people from......PEI!!!!! What are the odds??? Also, I actually KNEW one of them. Anyways, yeah a good time was had and I finally got to do something I've ALWAYS wanted to do...push someone into a pool. Of course, as was to be expected I somehow found myself being pulled in as well. Fully clothed.

I made it to Magnetic Island where I am currently shacked up at a great hostel/resort. Just back from a long hike which actually ended with some hitchhiking - we got picked up by a Mokie..which is a golf cart with some power. Tomorrow I get to hold a koala.

That's all for now folks

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bitten by the Bugs

It's been a week and a half since I arrived in Cairns. I am finally leaving head a whole 45 minutes south! I've really enjoyed my time in Cairns (more about this in a bit), but, to be honest, my delayed departure has more to do with excess baggage I had to lose than it does with my being enamoured with this Queensland city.

I mentioned previously how I was staying with a great Help Exchange host, who hd kindly offered a bed to the girl I met on the plane up here. Turns out Rachel was very fortunate as her transfer of funds took another 5 days and her $40 would certainly have been gone by then. Anyways,I was not up for having a 22-year old narcoleptic Welsh girl travel with me for the next month. Yes, that's right - narcoleptic. I go from travelling with Sara, who's an insomniac, to Rachel,who falls asleep every 15 minutes or so and, when she is awake, has no energy. Anyways, it turns out I wasn't the only one who found her presence a bit tiring (pardon the pun) and Seva took it in hand to ensure she headed on her way.

Right, so now she is gone and I am heading to Lynn & Aaron's. THey are friends of Seva and own a Nature Refuge that borders the World Heritage Rainforest - apparently snakes, spiders, birds and bats abound. Lynn is from Michigan (US) and met her husband, Aaron, whilst backpacking round the world during her twenties. Awww.

OK, so I realise Ive neglected to say what I've been doing with my time here in Cairns. Aside from helping Seva out around the house and lounging in the pool, here are the main highlights of the past week and a half:

On Tuesday morning I joined the Cape Tribulation Connections bus tour, which takes travellers up to the Daintree Rainforest, with stops along the way at Mossman Gorge and a Wildlife Sanctuary. Cape Tribulation is situated in the heart of the rainforest - it is unbelievably, specatcularly beautiful up there. The Daintree Rainforest is one of the oldest rainforests in teh world, surviving from a time when there were only two super continents on this planet. The diversity of plant and animal species is amazing.

Anyways, once up in Cape Trib we were dropped off at our accommodation of choice. I decided to stay at the Cape Trib farmstay upon Sara's recommendation. It turned out to be a great choice, particularly given the large basket of exotic fruits we were given for breakfast. I only recognised one of the fruits - papaya. They were all very yummy and interesting looking. I think the Jakfruit was my favorite, just because it was so pretty!!

While up in Cape Trib we took a few walks through the rainforest and went for a swim in a safe watering hole - most are not safe to swim in because of the crocs. As it is the Wet season at the moment there were plenty of heavy rainfalls during the three days we were up there. WHen it wasn't raining it was bloody humid. I mean seriously muggy - like nothing I have ever experienced before. I don't know how people live up there on a permanent basis to be honest.

Upon returning to Cairns Thursday evening we joined Seva at the Yacht Club for some live jazz music and watched as couples danced swing and jive. Afterwards we went across the street to the Casino and enjoyed Motown classics courtesy of Lisa Hunt and her amazingingly talented band (they didn't hurt the eyes either)!

The rest of the weekend was pretty quiet, but I don't mind. One doesn't have to always be 'doing' something to enjoy a place. That is one thing I find frustrating - why do so many people think a place has to have Things to DO in order to be interesting. Isn't just being and seeing enjoyable enough in itself. Why do we always feel the need to be entertained and on the go??? Relax for feck's sake. It's Australia after all, not New York or London.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

On Top of Oz

Yesterday I flew from Adelaide in SA to Cairns, in Northern Queensland. Cairns is the major starting point for backpackers making their way down the East Coast, which is famous for, amongst other things - the Great Barrier Reef, Whitsunday Islands, Fraser Island, Gold Coast and non-stop parties. I plan to enjoy/see all of the above over the next six weeks!

Upon arriving in Cairns I met Seva, my latest Helpx host - it turned out I am her first helper and she is absolutely lovely and v. undemanding with regards to chores. Anyways, I had met this girl on the plane to Cairns who was running somewhat short on cash so when Seva mentioned she had a spare bed if Rachel was interested I went back into the airport and dragged Rachel along. Since it was evening when we arrived, last night was just a relaxing night at Seva's.

It is'THE WET' in Cairns at the moment and so it poured last night by the bucketful, but I get the impression it is a good thing it rained as the climate here is tropical and without a rain it can be sticky, muggy and unbearably hot.

I was supposed to head to Port Douglas tomorrow morning, but I've decided to stay in Cairns for a couple more days as Seva is so nice and so I can sort out what I want to do with regards to touring the Daintree rainforest.

I can't believe I am leaving Australia in less than 2 months!!!

Note to all at home (PEI) - if you know of any jobs/places to rent in Ch'town please let me know, I will need both a place to live and a place to work when I get back in June.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Back in Adelaide

Free at last! Yay - Sara and I left the vineyard this morning and made the trek back to Adelaide. We're spending two nights here before we part ways (sigh) - I head North East to Cairns and she heads West to Perth. We are looking forward to eating and drinking well and having some free time to ourselves.

To be perfectly honest, the vineyard was getting a bit old over the past few days. No need to go into details, this is about my adventures not my misadventures!

In any case, we did have some enjoyable experiences on the farm - namely when we left it to explore the area. The highlight by far was last Friday when we were given the day off (yah - but we worked 10 hours the next day doing cooking/catering).

We decided it was the opportune time to do our cycling tour of the McLaren Vale cellar doors. Cellar doors for those of you who are not familiar, are vineyards where you are invited to sample many, many wines grown locally.

For some reason I figured we would be able to handle six or seven. Sara just laughed at me and rightly so, because after our first stop I was in dire need of some bread to soak up the alcohol. It didn't help that it was 11 in the morning, I hadn't drank in two months and we had just finished a 10 km cycle! Anyways, we cycled on from Penny's Hills to Richard Hamilton/Leconfield Winery where we sampled some lovely wines then on to the town of McLaren Vale where we took a well deserved break from drinking and turned to almond sampling and lunch.

After lunch we hit up Hardy's, Beresford's and Hugh Hamilton's amaszing vineyard with 360 degree views of the area. By this time my ability to cycle 'may' have been slightly compromised. We headed back to Leconfield so I could pick up a bottle of Merlot then raced back to Penny's Hills so Sara could buy Almond Liquer (mmmm!).

Back in Willunga we decided a couple more drinks couldn't hurt us before we made the final leg of our journey home!

In total I think we cycled around 30 kilometres on our tour and drank at least 9 full glasses of wine. It was totally worth it...and it was absolutely free :)

Other highlights from our time on the farm include learning how to make pasta from scratch, making pizza crusts and doing a catering stint at one of the Fringe Festival shows in Adelaide. We also shovelled a lot of cow poo, which, it turns out, was surprisingly light and non-smelly. In fact, the shovel was much heavier than the poo so we all started picking it up with our hands (gloved!).

Well, time is wasting away and the sun is shining so will love you and leave you all for now.

Ooooohhhh - just a note - if you want to read more about our adventures or maybe see a pic or two, just click on the link to Sara's RTW Blog (see panel to your right)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Wallabies, Winding Roads and Wine

Apologies for the lack of posting as of late, but I've just been soooo busy with holidaying I've not had a chance to relax and take a breath! OK, sorry that isn't nice b/c I know most of you are probably reading this whilst sitting at your cubicles or office desks, wishing you were somewhere else - maybe somewhere where you could walk outside in shorts and a t-shirt, somewhere where vineyards line the road home, somewhere where your biggest decision of the day is whether to have a shower before breakfast or after.

Mwwwahhhhhahahahaha - I am LOVING the Life of an Unemployed Traveller..aside from, of course, the dwindling bank account, which I wouldn't be so concerned about except that the Australian government has royally screwed up my tax return and so I wait impatiently every day for a cheque that I should have rec'd in mid-February.

Ah - but for the record, in the first 42 days of my travels I spent an average of $23.08 PER DAY. This includes everything except my airfare (two flights at $130 total). All food, accomodation, other transit, sights, toiletries, etc. I am v. proud of myself as this is below the budget I set for myself.

OK, enough of that - here are the highlights from the last couple of weeks:


Sara and I left our Helping job in Launceston on Friday morning (Feb 23) to meet up with AMo & Craig, who'd come from Sydney for the weekend - friends of mine but all of a sudden I was outnumbered 3:1 by British people. Egads! We picked up our car hire and headed East, towards the coast. Our destination for the night was a small town called Bicheno, one of the many places on the east coast where you can see 'little blue penguins' or 'fairy penguins' come ashore. We had booked a penguin tour and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the penguins as the walked around us and into their burrows.

Saturday morning we headed to the nearby Natureworld so we could see some Tasmanian Devils. I didn't think it would be v. enjoyable, but it turned out to be a huge highlight because there were wallabies (small kangaroos) and kangaroos walking around freely. They would approach us looking for food - so we bought some and fed them by hand - awwww!!! We also got to touch a really cute wombat named Elsie and a Tasmanian Devil and saw emus, ostriches, koalas and snakes.

We headed south to Freycinet Park where we endured a 4 hour hike (11 kms) so we could see Wineglass Bay, which was lovely despite the grayish skies. After that we were all pretty knackered and happy to sit in the car and drive 3 hours to Hobart. It was Saturday night so we headed out for a bite to eat and the Brits for a few gallons of beer, while I sipped my Diet Pepsi (darn New Year's Resolutions!). - sidenote for the record - still not eating junk food or drinking alcohol but seem to be the same bloody weight anyways!!

Sunday we took it easy because some of us (read the hungover ones) really couldn't handle much more than sitting in a car. We drove back to Launceston via the Great Lake route - due to drought it wasn't so Great anymore and seemed to have divided itself into a few Less Great Lakes.We said our goodbyes to Amo & Craig then headed to our hostel on the mountainside (brilliant!!).

Monday we drove to Cradle Mountain (v. famous mountain in Tasmania) and hiked around Dove Lake (6 kms). By the end of that we were pretty tired of hiking and headed back to Launceston to get a good night's rest before our flight the next morning back to the mainland.


The Great Ocean Road is one of the world's greatest driving experience due to the amazing scenery sculpted into the coastline of VICTORIA by seas from the Antarctic. I have to admit, it was pretty breathtaking, although the highlight (12 Apostles) wasn't quite as enjoyable through the fog & mist we encountered.

We were to spend 3 days and 3 nights travelling 1,100 kms along the Great Ocean Road and to Adelaide. We decided we needed another person along for the drive, so I had put up a notice and an English guy the same age as Sara & I ended up coming along - he was good company and Sara enjoyed having another beer-drinking buddy. My favorite part of the trip was from the first day when Sara was driving along a winding road and slowed to a stop because there was a koala just plodding along on the road. EXtremely unusual - they are always way high up in the trees. Anyways I got out and was only about four feet away from it. Did I mention it had a BABY koala on its back???? By this time a few other cars had slowed down to a stop - we were afraid it was going to get hit. It stopped walking and just sat down smiling (Sara insists it was frightened to death but I like to think it was happy for the attention).

We spent a night in Apollo Bay, then saw the big sights on Day 2, spent the 2nd night in Mount Gambier (which rests at the base of a volcano - dormant) and the third night just south of Adelaide in Victor Harbour.


On Friday morning we arrived in Adelaide and said goodbye to our buddy James. We then got picked up by our Helpxing hosts and taken to their home in McLaren Vale, where we are now staying. The area is beautiful - vineyards, olive farms and almond trees everywhere. The family is really really into making good food and we are working it off every day by cycling to the library(for Internet) and doing 4 hours of dragging brush and tree branches from here to there. I am sore all over.

By the way - I will be back in Halifax on June 4th. If anyone has a job for me, it would be much appreciated! Or a place to Charlottetown.