Location: Melbourne, Australia
HOLY MOLEY!!!! I left Ireland this day last year... my year travelling and i only got half way around the planet!!! It has been an incredible year... nothing like a 30th birthday to get you off your ass and see and do some of the stuff you've always dreamed of. I've met some fab people along the way but really its made me appreciate my old friends and family all the more. Thanks to everyone for their encouragement and best wishes along the way, it meant alot and i miss you all dearly. However, I've found myself a job and have decided to stay here in Melbourne for a couple of years at least. I'm enjoying the lifestyle and have also met a great guy called Robin. It is an incredibly long way from home though. Any visitors would be greatly recieved. I have my Dad(and his partner Francis) coming over for Christmas, which is great and i'm really looking forward to seeing him. I will continue to update the diary from time to time (i also have a couple of gaps i need to fill in) and i promise to get some more pics up here soon(cos let's face it - whos reading this diary anyway-leave a message if you do read this line.... my mini survey:))
My contact details in Melbourne is as follows:
2/50 Balaclava Road,
East St Kilda,
Tel: +61 3 9527 7843
Mob: +61 403 894 650
Location: Flemington, Australia
Melbourne Cup Day!!!
When in Melbourne, you've gotta do it. BIG day out at the races! Robin's mates Carl and Jaclyn invited us to Melbourne Cup day. They had a members plot along the rails and we basically all pitched in for furniture, champers(so much champers), wine and food. We had the tatts(thats the tote) beside us... massive football stadium sized screen infront of us and the toilets not too far from that. So even though we were at the races with over 100,000 people there it felt like we were at a little picnic party. The day started off in a typically disasterous fashion. Got up at cock crow(the races start at 10.30 here), got all the gear on, hat and all (hopefully i'll get some pics off the girls to prove it to you)!!! Sped out the door, in top form and lookin dandy. Got on the tram, then the train into town, meet friends on train, chatted frantically and excitedly, changed trains, more chats on packed race goers train, arrived at flemington, turned to Robin...."have you got the tickets?" Robin returns with blank face..... Hopped back on previously packed but now empty train... back into town, taxi home.... CAN"T FIND TICKETS!!!!! Ended up getting taxi back to Flemington and sneaking into the race track... bloody hilarious!!! We walked up along the rails to a back gate and Jaclyn marches out and gives us other peoples members badges, right in front of the security guys who luckily were not given scanners to validate the previously validated tickets. After that, we just got trolleyed(it was still only 1 o'clock when we got in, but felt we had some catching up for doing!)... and i mean trollied(which way is it spelt?). I don't really remember leaving the race course. I just remember the taxi driver wanted to kick us out, cos apparently i offended him... god knows what i said! I made a spectacularly dramatic, "you tak thse girls n i'll wlk... but dnt make thse girls suffer fr wat i'm suppsed to ve said to offnd you, mr taximan" after which he seemed to forgive me and droped us off at the party (which i fell asleep at - but woke up enough again to go to the pub after the neighbours complaints got us kicked out of the party!!!) Woke up next day.... had to call in sick! Not good considering it was only my second week a permanent employee!
Location: New Zealand
Headed to Te Anau staying in a great hostel called Barnyard Backpackers... fantastic place. We had a beautiful lodge with a fantastic view of the mountain range surrounding Doubtful Sound. The main house had not just one but TWO open fires. Oh how i'd missed the open fire(they just don't exist in Australia... and they could do with them in Melbourne i tell you - winter can be chilly!!) We had the place more or less to ourselves and decided to stay 3 nights using it as a base to visit the fjordlands, and more importantly a great atmosphere to sup on a bottle of wine in the evening. Brought me back to Friday night, David Road. Our first day we took off to Milford Sound, which is 100km away from anywhere but one of the most popular tourist destinations. The route to the sound is stunning.... and luckily avalanche risk had been set to low!!! Once you come through the Homer Tunnel (watch out for the massive potholes.... IN THE TUNNEL!) you get a idea of why this is so popular a destination. It's a stunning place. We took a 2 hr cruise through the sound, and finished at the underwater observatory... bit of a gimick but got to see some intesting marine life.
Location: Wanaka, New Zealand
Did a couple of treks (tramps as they are known here) in the last few days and started to travel south towards Milford Sound. Begin to see some of the amazing scenery that New Zealand has to offer. We are really lucky with the weather so far. The sun is shining but it's not hot(by any stretch of the imagination). It's a nice time of the year to come, snow is still on the caps of the montains and it's not busy on the roads. In Wanaka we stay at Wanaka Bakpaca. Great hostel to stay at. We arrive in the evening to a note at the desk saying "If you need a room, take a key and we'll see you in the morning" Also a big open fire.... 10,000 brownie points from the Gill!
Location: Methven - Mt Hutt, New Zealand
Spent the last 3 days on the slopes, or on my ass, learning how to snowboard - all the kids are at it! Well to say i was sore after day 1 is an understatement. EVERY MUSCLE in my body ached and i don't know how i actually got out of the bed. The sun was out though so i had to get out there again! The early morning falls on the frozen snow was VERY PAINFUL but I found the hardest thing was trying to stand up again after falling. Thank god we had a spa at our guesthouse which helped to loosen me up. By the third day i was zipping down the intermediate slopes(ok i fell occassionally and almost gave up before lunch... had the boots off and everything.... but forced myself to give it another lash and tackle the hard slopes). All that said.... i loved it! I can't wait till next season to go again.
Location: christchurch, New Zealand
Arrived late into Christchurch but headed straight to the residence bar...had to celebrate the start of our 3 week trip to the south island of New Zealand. Sampled some of the local beers with a local man - crazy nightporters, there's something not right with the lot of them!
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Been camping out for the final leg of this trip... trying to stretch the pennies. The main aim after fraser was to get to Steve Irwin's(croc hunter) - Australian Zoo! What a hilariously cheesy place. Everywhere you look you see his wide-eyed face.... hanging upsidedown, jumping about the place.... and that off all his family! The merchandise is all over the place, and you'd be amazed what can buy - you can buy a doll of him(nothing like him of course) and the wife, the usual aray of t-shorts, keyrings, stubby holders, fridge magnates, etc...but the best is a plate to hang on your wall, of him and the family... bizarre. The zoo though is quite good, loads of aussie animals with shows, obviously the best being the croc show. So that sums up this leg of the trip, Queensland. Had a great time travelling in Tonto with Elaine and Eimear, fair play to them for putting up with me for 3 weeks. They are both great gals! So it's back to Melbourne, winter setting in. Marked my return to this great city with a big session with the guys from Sycfest(the house) and of course my auld friend the baldy bauldy Joey Joe, Joe.... balloobass!
Location: Hervey Bay - Fraser Island, Australia
Hervey Bay is the jump off town for Fraser Island, the world heritage listed and biggest sand island in the world. It's absolutely beautiful, but lots of fun aswell. I did a 3 day, 2 night self dive 4x4 adventure. They basically give you and 8 others a big 4x4 and camping equipment and send you off on your merry way to find the ferry and explore the island at your own leisure on roads you wouldn't believe. What great fun... and the only ones in our van that could drive there were us 3 Irish girls.... yippee! Part of the fun is bombing it threw soft tracks, trying not to get stuck, flying along the beach and basically manouvering along very bumpy tracks. We were two groups that stuck together and we couldn't have gotten nicer people to spend 3 glorious days with. TG cos we were worried we'd end up with a bunch like that on the sailing trip. We were mainly based on the east side, which is basically a 75 mile glorious beach... picture postcard stuff, absolutely stunning, but shark infested so only knee high dips allowed. The first day we visited Lake Wobby. You hike for 30 mins through the forrest(yes, the island is mainly forrested... in sand...) to come across a big massive sand dune(in the forrest... wierd) that you can tumble down into the lake. We camped by the beach and all sat around drinking and chatting. Second day we had a late start(we were supposed to have left camp by 7, up at 5... yeah) not a chance. We did have to drive to the top of the island and be off the beach for high tide at 10.... we managed to get there, but everybody was getting stuck in the soft sand. Hilarious, as driver, i was determined to get through, so reversed up the beach, but the foot to the floor and blasted my way, thrown this way and that... my group cheering me on... great fun!! We spotted sharks and Dolphins from Indian Heads, beautiful views of the island with an eagle nesting close to our vantage point that kept showing off it's catch of fish. We walked to Champagne Pools a pretty spot were you can swim in salt water only because you are protected from the sharks by rocks. We had lunch, visited a wreak and floated down Eli Creek(the things you do for a shower). Pretty soon, we were pitching the tents again and tucking into the beers( a 'goon' in my case.... box of wine...backpacker fav.... classy chic). Our last day was dedicated to the famous and beautiful Lake MacKenzie. One of the group had heard about another lake, less well known and just as beautiful, Lake Boomanjin, and as it seemed to be not so far away we decided to go. Al this was true, but the roads between both lakes made it an extremely difficult ride.... we decided to miss the ferry we were supposed to take and go back on the last one. Great idea, the company owner was not soo impressed, left an amazingly rambling message on my phone. The shower later that even was badly needed i can tell you. Had a coupe of pints of Bulmers (what a treat - the first in 5 months) and off to bed early.
Location: Emu Park, Australia
Came upon this place by chance really( the joys of a campervan) and what a gem of a place. The best hostel of my trip so far, Emu Park Beach House about 50 km from Rockhampton. It was just like home from home. When we arrived, there was nobody there just lights on, big open living room... i can't discribe what a relieve a place like this is to backpackers when it's all go, go,go. We rang Craig, the guy who runs it, and he said make yourselfs at home and i'll be back in an hour or so.... our own house!!!! The village was a lovely little place too, with a fantastic beach for walks(still can't actually swim in it as with all of Queensland this time of the year due to the presence of Box Jellyfish- one sting and you've not much time to save your life - one of the many deadly creaures to be found in this country). There's a cool sculpture dedicated to the great man himself, Captain Cook, at the top of a cliff called the Singing Ship. It's made of flutes and pipes that sing to the sea breeze.
Location: Mackay, Australia
Spend two nights in the town of Mackay(they call is a city but i'm not convinced). We just rested up really... it was a nice homely hostel which was great relieve after Airlie hostel - Magnums. What a disgrace of a place that is. It's a money making machine, churning people through with no facilities at all (not a fork to be found in the place) and infested with mice in the dorms. After drinking coffee from a bowl, watching Eimear eat her noodles using a laddle i was ready to get outta there, pronto! We went up the hills from Mackay to do a canopy tour at the Forge Hatton Gorge in Eugella National Park. Strapped into a harness flying through the tree tops of the forrest was good fun. Went threw thousands of flying fox bats, hanging from branches. They're really big and are pretty impressive up close. They are like people monkeys really but with wings and dog like heads. Really feisty with each other. We then went for a walk at the gorge to 'Araulen Falls', really pretty place.
Location: Airlie Beach, Australia
Headed to Airlie beach where we had a 3 day sailing trip booked. We arrived 2 days before hand. The first night we decided to camp and expected to find the tent that came with Tonto full of holes but no, it only had one. Nothing a bit of ducted tape can't mend. Had a lovely night really, drank a few beers (some alco pops for me cos the beer down under has broght my spots back!) and was joined by a lovely wee boy called Daniel from Canberra. God bless him, he was killed telling us how great Canberra is. As capital cities go, i'd say it's the least visited by tourists in the world. Anyway, as we all were about to hit the bed(or the ground), I told Daniel he should say goodnight to Tonto. Eimear was in the van at the time and he turned to her and said, "Goodnight Tonto". To which Eimear replied, "I'm not Tonto, Tonto is the van". Well i'm not sure if you can grasp just how funny this was to Elaine and myself, but i can tell you we fell about the place laughing. It was so funny, we decided it necessary to go out and buy a notebook to act as a "Quotes Book" to our trip, and it has taken the proud place of first entry. The next night we moved into the hostel, as we got two nights free with the trip, organised ourselves for the next day, and went out on the rip. Great idea considering we were going on a bloody racing boat with dirty hangovers. It wasn't too bad actually, the sea air wasn't long getting rid of the cobwebs. The trip we loved, but the rest of the 20 passengers, moaned and complained so much amongst themselves, there wasn't a chance in hell that they were going to enjoy themselves! You wouldn't believe the maoning! There we were on a racing yacht that has circumnavigated the world, twice, but it wasn't good enough. Granted, it was a little cramped... but THAT"S SAILING! MAybe the toilets weren't great from time to time... but that's only because people couldn't use the flush. "The toilets blocked again"... "have you tried using the FLUSH button".... NO! And yes, the engine did fail one morning delaying us for 2 hours, but so bloody what. We still visited the 4th best beach in the world on Whitsunday Island. It was stunning. It was a pity the weather wasn't great that day, but i did get to chase a little shark in the shallow waters, and also see some amazing Stingrays. The crew were legend too, trying to keep spirits up, but no... soar faces all around. That afternoon we went for a dive on a reef... still love diving!!
The last day of the trip we went snorkelling off Black Island" Small little island opposite some six star island resort. The sun was out at last and me and Eimear were deligted when we came across a giant sea turtle which we swam alongside for about 10 mins.... he was soo cool! Had a lovely day sailing back to Airlie with the sun out and some people who have made my life a misery standing next to me with their glorious tans(and i subsequently made theirs, lifes a living misery that is) will be delighted to hear that I'M GETTING A COLOUR! It's tan in nature, not blotchy red, and it's pretty even! Wonders will never cease. Shame i only have a week and a half left before i head south to the winter in Melbourne! I'm sure it'll be well gone by the time i'll see most of you again, but at least i know it's been here, and that's all that matters!
Location: Misson Beach, Australia
You know how Cairns is sun, sun, sun.... well it was rain, rain, rain... with a bloody cyclone heading towards us! I've hooked up with two Irish girls, Eimear and Elaine, who have bought a campervan, so we decided to get the hell out of there. Every road we hit, we hit floods, but battled on threw and Tonto(the campervan) proved itself to be a worthy purchase! First stop off on the way down was Misson Beach... it looked like it WAS a beautiful place, but unfortunately it's been pretty devastated by a cyclone few weeks back. All the banana plantations were distroyed in the area. Never mind the price of petrol... it's all about the price of bananas over here. After the Cyclone, people were mad buying bananas before the price went up... i'm not joking!!!
Anyway... next day we decided to visit Australia's tallest single drop waterfall as it seemed only off the main road. It was as the crow flies, but not as the campervan has to go up and down steep dirt tracks... i honestly thought we were going to get stuck there, and we were the only bloody eegits trying to get there(in the pissing rain i might add). It took us near 2 hours to travel 42km, over an hour on only 15km!!! Then we got there and all we could see was a cloud, we could hear it, but not see it. There was a picture on an information sign though and it looked quite (is it quite or quiet- i never know) impressive!! Needless to say we didn't quite(?) make it as far as we'd hoped that day, but we did manage to catch a glimpse of the shy and endangered Cassowary bird(it's about 5 ft tall) and some kangaroos on the road(dirt track) on the way down so it made it all worthwhile. Ended up in Townsville! More like deadsville! Ah no, it was a fine place really!