Saturday, May 2, 2009

Kerplunk and Ho Chi Minh City


I’ve hardly begun and the arse has fallen out of my trip. Tonight I got a text from Sabrina saying that she had scored herself a job in Darwin and would not be accompanying me to Melbourne. Bugger. Not quite the expletive of choice before the downpour of tears, but it is what is.
And so. Desperate phone calls to the girl and the folks, all of whom have reassured me that I will not be left stranded in the outback.

Mum and Dad were fantastic. It was absolutely lovely to hear them being so supportive, and in a way, validating my choice to spend this time finding what it is I want and what I am going to do. Mum has told me that if it’s going to be photography, I need to take photos, which I can’t do well if I’m not enjoying myself.

I completely agree. Having them offer to support me so I can continue this journey is so, so special to me. I hugely appreciate it. And so. To the new plan. Not even sure it’s worth making on, they don’t seem to be working out to well, but here goes.

And so, still unstimulated by K Rudd, tomorrow I will get INTO (not on!) a plane and make my way to Ho Chi Minh City. I have started to get excited. I am much more a traveller now that ever, and am taking my traveller’s eyes with me, as well as my photographer’s eyes. I am excited to see things that are new in a city I have visited twice before.

I am meeting up with Jackie and Mike (remember them? I met them at King’s Canyon. We had excellent chats, they shouted me a beer, we laughed as a frenchman’s swag was eaten by a dingo, and then we hung out in Alice together) when we get there. We’re planning to hit the markets on Day 1. I also would love to go to Cholon, the Chinese district. I’m a little intimidated of it, though I have been briefly before, and think having a bloke along for the ride will ease my mind. Also I think sometimes in a place like HCMC, you can become very overwhelmed by everything when you least expect it. Having friendly faces around always helps!

As yet we have no other plans. We have booked the first two nights’ accommodation, but beyond that, are free to do whatever we like until we leave. I have no idea about Sabrina’s plans, but I have been looking into catching an overnight train to Nha Trang, a beach town on the east coast about ¼ of the way up North. It’s about $21 for an air conditioned soft sleeper, and I think it’s an overnight train, so it will cover a night’s accommodation. Then lay on the beach drinking cocktails for a couple of days, before heading back to HCMC.

I would also like to go back to the Mekong Delta. Anything that will take me to markets will be ace. Markets can be the most confronting places. In my time at markets I have seen chickens being slaughtered and bled. Skinned frogs. Cooked pig’s heads. So many fruits and vegetables that I have never seen before. And some faces that I’m sure if I spoke the language, every line would tell a fascinating story. It’s also an awesome chance to try some local food, often egged on by the locals, who can’t wait to see the white girl eating deep fried [insert insect name here] or hard boiled fertilised eggs. So yes. Markets please.

And home again?

Thursday, April 30, 2009


There are a couple of distinct differences between Melbourne and Darwin. Obviously. The first thing that hits is the temperature. I left Melbourne on Tuesday morning. It was cold, raining and 12 degrees. I shivered at the airport, as my clothes were all wet from the trip between house and tram, tram and bus, and bus and airport. I stepped off the plane into a somewhat humid 33 degrees. It’s warm, sunny, and constant up here. You don’t get so much as a cool breeze to break the heat. And you can’t do anything with your hair.
Everything here is so green. Darwin’s wet season is winding down, and the city is still oozing life from every pore. Darwin’s CBD is less ‘concrete jungle’, and more a little bit of concrete fighting against the jungle. It is a small 6-8 block district containing offices, retail services and plenty of air conditioned refuges from the heat outside. Mitchell Street is noisy, though nothing like any kind of busy street in Melbourne. It is lined with backpackers, restaurants and travel agencies. It is a block back from the waterfront, which is nowhere near as alluring as it might be, due to the constant threat of saltwater crocs and box jellyfish.
The local flora is beautiful with big tropical leaves weighed down under huge droplets of water. The frangipani’s sweet fragrance wafts through the streets, the crimson flowers on the tall flame trees glow bright in the northern sun.
Small and large lizards scuttle across footpaths as you wander the city and gigantic insects that inevitably give you the fright of your life, are quite fascinating in their colours, shapes and uniqueness.
And yet there is something unsettling about Darwin. It’s not that I don’t like it; it’s just the unshakable feeling that there is something not quite right. There are the ever-present groups of Aboriginals. They’re peripheral. It’s the only word I can come up with to describe it. They seem to be on the periphery of everything.
There are the teenagers who are hanging around in shopping centres, loitering, swearing, and generally running amok. Nothing unusual there, aside from the fact that these particular mallrats all seem to have babies and toddlers tagging along with them.
Another thing I noticed today, though not unusual in itself is the presence of hurricane fencing. You know the type, the 8-foot high chain-link fences often used around construction sites. Those are used as front fences here. And side fences. And back fences. Quite often, it is flanked with thick black plastic. Not the most welcoming of facades.
The city itself seems tired. Everything seems to be slumped, as though it has reached the end of a long and tiresome period, and it just wants to have a lie down. The houses in the suburbs seem laden the stress of years of preparing for and bracing against the ever-present threat of cyclones. It is as though the constant heat and humidity have worn the city down, and it is in that moment, that moment just before it throws up its hands in defeat. It seems to be heaving a huge, resigned sigh. To what it is resigned, I don’t know. I don’t know if it knows.
It has the feel of a temporary city, not quite so much as Yulara did, but there seems, on my at-a-glance appraisal, that there are few prospects here.
And so it is not with a great deal of sadness or regret that I won’t be here for long. Sure, it’s pretty, but there is little more left to maintain my interest.
I leave on Saturday, meeting Sabrina at the airport here before heading off to a grand adventure in tropical Saigon. Upon our return to Darwin, I intend to visit the much-raved-about Mindil night market, before driving off for the cool natural pleasures of Litchfield National Park and beyond.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Leavin On A Jet Plane

Welcome back. I am officially travelling once more.
As I trudged along Brunswick st in the rain this morning, I put my hood up, dragged my bag along behind me and hopped a tram to Southern Cross station, making my way to the airport through the cold, rainy, 12 degree Melbourne morning.  I do love Melbourne.

I am off again today, up to Darwin again, to take a trip to Vietnam. I will return to retrieve my car before driving home with my Ayer's Rock housemate, Sabrina.

I don't feel anticipation. I don't feel trepidation. I don't even feel excitement at this stage. I just am. I think once I am on my way to Vietnam, I will be thrilled, and once I have been successfully stimulated by K Rudd, even more so. But for now, I am sitting at Tullamarine, cold, wet and lonely. Looking forward to the 33 degrees that Darwin has promised, and the time when the excitement hits.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I have a new home... of sorts

So this is my travel blog.
At the moment, I am not travelling. I will be again in 3 weeks.

As such, I have started a new blog, exploring the wonderful goodness that an abundance of time, a lack of money and a fresh view on life has created..

Check this baby out at

tell your friends.
I'm hoping to make a little community of sorts...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ahh Melbourne

So I have been back for awhile, and cultivating my Melbourne lifestyle in preparation for when I am back and settled.
Interesting Melbourne-y stuff I've done:

went to the Ian Potter gallery with Karen
went to the footy with Bec
got a wicked cool old Malvern Star and have started hotting it up.. next stop - red spokes!
been rollerblading
indulging in many hours of planning crafty projects
made a load of badges
went to Laverton Market! Yay!
jam donuts
hanging out alot with my girl, which is awesome
caught a tonne of trams
went to nova's comedy festival broadcast and won two double passes to shows
dinner at Northcote Social Club
drinks at the bar in the lane off Chinatown
Shanghai Dumpling
Vegie Bar

Melbourne is a city I love, but oh, how nice it is to rediscover it with fresh, traveller's eyes.
I am back to settle from the first week in June.
I will be looking for work. Preferably teaching part time, and doing something that is FUN on the other days. Crafting. Market Stalls. Art Shop. Pub. Something where I can meet people, always a big problem as a teacher, learn something, and work to live, not the other way around.

Exciting times!!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

home again, home again, jiggity jig

and so I arrived, with little to no fanfare in Melbourne this morning. I had an overnight flight, and very very little sleep in 24 hours, so I took myself home to Mum and Dad's and promptly went to bed.

Very little to report at this stage.
Heading into the city tomorrow, in an attempt to maintain the travellers' eyes. Taking loads of pics and meeting up with Anita tomorrow evening, which will be ace.

Any and all advice and suggestions on ways to get through this next 6 weeks while holding onto the freedom and autonomy that I have developed and nurtured while I have been away will be greatly appreciated!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What do I Want?

Has been asked a bit of me in the last couple of days.
After much (much, much, much, much, much) thought, I am in the process of contemplating making a decision about temporarily coming home.
I think it's what I want. 
I miss Melbourne.
I think I have achieved so, so much since I left. I have so many ideas, plans, thoughts, stuff I wanna do.
I was looking at jobs in Melbourne, preferably short-term, easy, well-paid jobs. And I was so excited at the prospect!

I am thinking of coming home for about 6 weeks. Working. My ass off. Then coming back. Hitting Kakadu, meeting up with Sabrina, heading to Vietnam, and road tripping back to Melbourne to start my 'new life'. (Of course, stopping along the way to take a fuckload of pictures.)

I know why I left.
Have I achieved everything I wanted? Maybe not.
Am I well on the way? Hell yes.

I am rediscovering myself. I am trying damned hard to do things on my own terms. I am taking good, good photos (all of which have been removed from facebook, lest I manage to get enough of my shit together to exhibit them). I am feeling inspired.  Most of the time.

I am exhausted. I feel the constant pressure of worrying about food, money, accommodation, petrol, weird room mates etc is wearing me down.

My thoughts at this stage involve taking a break, heading to Melbourne earning some cash. Setting things up for my new life as it were.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My little spaz out

happened on Knuckey street in Darwin.
As I walked out of the employment centre, having been informed they will only help me if I am a permanent resident of Darwin, I realised, I am possibly, completely screwed.
No one wants temps. No one wants backpackers.
No one wants Melburnians. No one wants me.
Mum is coming on Friday. She leaves on Monday. At this stage, I am beginning to think my options are going to be to leave as well. Try my luck finding work at a roadhouse perhaps?
If I had the money, I would head south tomorrow, and drive till I got home. In fact, I probably could do that. But where would that leave me?
Tickets to Vietnam on May 2nd. From Darwin.
It would add about $500 to the trip before I started. But maybe that's okay. Maybe that's manageable.

I just don't know what to do, but I do know that I am struggling right now. I know that I could go home, and likely pick up emergency teaching work within a week of being home. I know that I have somewhere to stay and food to eat.



It's been quite awhile since I blogged.
The shock of getting a fire weather warning smsed to me from the Vic Police this morning has jolted me into action in making sure I am in touch with folks at home.

I arrived in Darwin on Saturday. I stayed in a backpackers for the first two nights, and have since moved to another. I am leaving here tomorrow morning and changing to another smaller backpackers. I have decided to check out a few different ones so that when I end up staying here longer time I know I am staying somewhere that is comfortable, safe and homely.

I have been looking for work, without much success just yet. I did get a job, but when I showed up, I was informed I was no longer required. I am going to try to organise teacher registration up here and hopefully get some work that way.

I've seen some amazing stuff. Huge termite mounds. The Tropic of Capricorn. Massive Storms.
Honestly, I am about ready to come home. I am hoping a will find a job and be so busy that I will just earn alot of money, but I kinda wish the Vietnam trip was leaving from Melbourne so I could come home.

I feel like I have achieved alot of what I wanted to from this trip. I have alot of ideas about what I want to do when I get home. I feel like I have established things in my head. I certainly don't have a life plan, but I have alot of ideas.

I want to have an exhibition of my work
I want to take circus and burlesque classes
I want to have a functional veggie and herb garden
I want to get a bike and use it often
I want to live in the Northern suburbs
I want to go to more gigs
I don't want to teach full time

I feel like I am on track. Now if I could just get a freakin job up here, I would feel way better!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Moving on up...

And so I am.

After a little hiccup yesterday (battery of car dead. new battery put in. bye bye $140), this morning Amy and I have packed the car up and are ready to move on to the Devil's Marbles. We are shopping this morning for food for dinner tonight and for the road, and then we're off!

We are planning on visiting, in true tradition of Australian 'big things', the big aboriginal man at Aileron, then on to Wycliffe Well in the hope of seeing a UFO (or at least Mulder and Scully) and onwards to the Devil's Marbles., where we'll be camping for the night. 

Tomorrow we drive to Daly Waters, via Tennant Creek, stopping at Barrow Creek, where Peter Falconio left a signed $5 on the wall, and staying at Daly Waters pub, which Bill Bryson speaks highly of.

Then onto Katherine, Edith Falls and to Darwin.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Town Like Alice

I am in Alice Springs. I have had some good times getting here.
In Kings Canyon, I met a couple named Jackie and Mike. We had some good chats, good times, and did the Canyon Rim Walk together. It was so nice to have their company.

I ended up staying at the Canyon just for one night. The camping facilities were just okay, but the combination of ants and flies, and seeing a dingo rip someone's swag to shreds was enough to make me think that I should just head straight to Alice.

When I got here, I saw some friends from Yulara, and a big night of drinking and trashy dancing at the local saloon, Bojangles ensued. (no sign of Uncle Chop Chop at Bojangles...)

I am staying at a Backpackers here that is part hippie commune, part family share house. It's room circle a grassed area and pool, behind which is a big white screen, on which movies are projected at a deafening volume each night. Tonight it's Labrinth. I'm not making any secrets about how excited I am! I like it here. It's cool and chilled out. It's good recharge time.

Amy is coming this evening, and there will surely be some frantic repacking of the car to fit in both of our stuff in an orderly fashion. I have few other plans while I am here. I haven't taken any photos in Alice, so I might go for a wander today, but I don't feel any pressing need.

The universe has continued to provide in a number of ways. I am embracing this mantra, and holding on for dear life right now.

Some examples:
- good chats, and shouted a round at Kings Canyon, by the lovely Mike and Jackie.
- asking for a refund on the second night of a camp fee, and being refunded the full amount.
- stumbling across a yard sale and buying a rip curl beach bag and a pair of roxy swimmers for the sum total of $1.50
- elegant rabbit. need I say more?
- being given a left-behind copy of the Lonely Planet Australia book by the hostel desk chick (cause mine has vanished)
- scoring 3 books and a cd for $10 at Vinnie's yesterday - surely enough to get me at least through to Darwin!!

I am still stressing about money, but am also aware that it won't help solve any problems, so I am working hard to leave that worry on the back burner until such a time as I can do something about it.

For now, I am relaxing, contemplating shopping plans for food for the next week, and just enjoying myself.
And it's ace.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Plans are afoot....

Indeed they are...
I have finished working for Voyages at Ayers Rock. I'm quite happy about that. Will be even more happy when I have had my rental inspection and my final paycheque so I can be done with them!

I have found a friend from work is leaving a week after me. We have made plans together. I am leaving here on either Friday or Saturday, depending on funds and activities. I will be spending 3 nights at Kings Canyon, camping (at Voyages) where I plan to do the Rim Walk, the Base Walk, and read some fluffy books. From there, I plan to head to Alice Springs and stay the night at a Backpackers, where I will meet up with Amy (from work). Once she has packed her stuff into the space that is left in my car, we will be off, driving to the Devil's Marbles on Wednesday next week.

We will camp overnight there, also making sure we stop at Wycliffe Well, a town notorious for the high volume of reported UFO sightings. After this, we will make our way to Daly Waters, and camp at the renowned Daly Waters Pub. The next day, we will be moving on to Katherine. I am quite excited about Katherine. Though I have lost (!) my Australia lonely planet book, I have been reading Sabrina's, and Katherine Gorge should be raging during the wet season. Should be lovely for photos. I am hoping to stay two nights in Katherine (hoping that it's cheaper than Darwin!!) Once I arrive in Darwin, I have no plans other than to desperately scramble and look for work, and hang out and wait for Mum to arrive on the 6th.

The money situation will be starting to get a bit desperate by that stage, so I am really hoping to find some decent work. Will end up in Darwin for about 6-7 weeks, so hoping to head out to Kakadu and Litchfield on some weekend trips. 

Then Sabrina is coming up to Darwin, and we are headed to Vietnam! I have been to Saigon twice before, but am looking forward to seeing it through different eyes (and a different camera lens!) I'm hoping to have my new camera by then. We are in Saigon for ten days, and then back to Darwin for a couple, before we begin the long trek home. 

We will probably stop in Katherine again, Alice, Coober Pedy (I'd really like to do the Oodnadatta Track mail run), Port Pirie, Adelaide, then back to Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road. 

I'm looking forward to it all, and feeling good, knowing there is a plan, with general time frames. The universe will provide, but I hope it provides some cash flow!!!

All's well otherwise, I will be staying in my current room (after I have 'moved out') rent free until I leave here. I'm looking forward to making it back home to help Amy and Glenn celebrate their wedding, to go to the Pink concert, and to make a start on my new life, whatever that may be. I am having a down day today, I think the money worries are troubling me, but I am working hard to stay positive and focussed and enjoy myself.

I hope everyone reading this is doing the same, wherever they are...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Luckiest Girl in the Country

Tonight, I was SO lucky.I scored myself a near-free seat in a helicopter flight..
Yep. I got my chopper over Uluru.

In exchange for a sixpack of beer, tonight I was on a $400, 55 minute, sunset helicopter flight over Lake Amadeus, Kata Tjuta and Uluru.

I am so so so lucky.
It was ace.

(and yes I did get travel sickness!)


I took a deep breath after the last post, threw caution to the wind, and decided that the universe will provide.
Sabrina and I booked tickets to Saigon for May 2nd, for 10 days.
I am really really excited. I am hoping to get to Darwin (have a travel buddy for the drive, Amy from work) and find a job for a month or so. Do some weekend trips to Litchfield, maybe Kakadu, and  head to Vietnam.
When we get back to Darwin, I will be headed for home, in time for Amy and Glenn's wedding, hopefully with new camera in tow. And possible a German friend with an interest in coming to Melbourne :)

I feel stressed about money, but excited about plans and adventures.
It's nice.

Ooh, and I may have wrangled the best deal yet...
But won't spoil it in case it doesn't happen. If it does, there'll be photos, never fear!!!

Friday, February 13, 2009


I'm scared.
I am making big money decisions and taking big risks. 
I am buying a camera. It's expensive.
I am thinking about flights that are too good not to take to Vietnam. They are expensive.
The money from working here is pitiful.
It's been a good experience here, but it's definitely time to move on.
I'm worried I will run out of money and get stuck. 
I am worried that I won't get home in time.

I miss everything and I am worried that I am missing out on things at home. 
It's hard being away, and not being able to do the things I want to do.

I'm trying to be big and tough and strong. But it doesn't always work.
And so I get scared...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Some of my photos for you....

So I am still sick, but it's meant I have had a lil bit of time to resize some of the photos I've taken to put up on my blog. Yay! Would love it if someone could show these to Chiefy!!

Out near the rock, at dusk. Not long after sunset.

Sunset light on the desert sand at a lookout facing both the Olgas and Uluru. Beautiful.

Sunset over the Olgas from the same spot.

Love this photo. It was a total fluke too. I'm way into silhouettes at the moment. Had you guessed?

Ayers Rock.

And Again

Beautiful sunset view over The Olgas. I was really down the night I went out here, and it was really special. I was there alone, and took some time. Beauty like this unquestionably feeds your soul.

The Olgas at Dusk


Saturday, February 7, 2009


Who gets a cold in the middle of summer, in the desert?
Me, that's who. I am sicker than I have been in a really long time with a very bad head cold. It's making me sad and grumpy, and I am exhausted. I go to work early, I get home, and spend the rest of the day on/in my bed, only to have a restless night's sleep full of vivid and sometimes creepy dreams, having to get up and change my sweat soaked pjs, or just generally waking up and not being able to get back to sleep.
It's not fair.
I don't wanna be at home sick in bed in a room by myself where I have already watched all my DVDs, read all my books and magazines, and don't have any money for any more.

okay. whinge finished. Hopefully tomorrow I will feel better...

Photo Project

So with the abundance of stuff to do up here when you're not working (note sarcasm), I have been buying alot of magazines. One thing I will say for the newsagency here, though you have to pay freight on papers (Saturday's Age costs $6.60!!!) They have a vast and varied selection of glossies and mattes, and some really good design/art/gay mags (though not Frankie), however, I digress.
In one of these mags, fantastically named "Monster Children", they interview some artist guy, and give him a disposable camera and a list of things to shoot.

From this, my housemate, Sabrina and I have devised our own list, comprising 12 items from each of us, and have each purchased  disposable camera, and within a week, we are in the process of taking each of these pics. It is ace and challenging, and something I am seriously keen to start up with a small group of devoted followers when I return home. Other suggested themes are the numbers 1-24, IN ORDER. Not as easy as it sounds. Also, the letters of the alphabet in order, backwards or forwards. My theory is, we get a group of about 10 people together (I'll make a facebook group), and make it a monthly thing. We agree to meet on a set date with electronic and printed copies of our list of photos. Photos must be taken on a disposable camera.  I can think of a few people who will be keen already!!

And again, I digress. Here is our list, and with any luck, shortly following will be our photos.

the road
something in your room
something blue
something metal
something you use every day
something you're going to eat
one of your friends
a sign
something electronic
somewhere not accessible to guests (at the resort - yes. I live at a resort)
something you can see from work
someone who looks weird or funny
uluru at sunset
an animal
a fruit
the sky
something on your way to work
something in the IGA
any kind of bottle
a view out of our house
something wooden
something that makes you happy
something that has to do with sports

I have 8 to go


Now go check your facebook to see if I invited you to join the fotoclub group!!!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Stuff thats kickin about...

Last night I went to dinner at Winkiku, the 5 star Seafood Buffet at Sails in the Desert out here. It's quite expensive, but man, the food was amazing. I had crab, prawns, octopus, mussels. And that was just on the first plate!! It was a really nice treat.

I am counting down till my final shift. I'll be pleased to move on from here., though I have met some really nice people, seen some cool stuff and taken some cool pics, It's almost time to move on..

I look forward to being back on the road again.. just call me Willie Nelson. With the extreme weather all over Australia right now, there are a lot of cyclone warnings in the top end, but let's face it, the high ways are closed to the east and west, and if I don't go North, I gotta come home, and though I miss home alot, I'm not ready to return just yet....

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My favourite pic so far

I took this just after sunset out past the Rock last night. I really like this pic.

stuff that's happened that's kinda cool

yesterday I went for a swim at the pool. Mission Australia brought a whole lot of the local Indigenous kids down for a swim. They jumped and climbed all over me and we played for an hour and a half. it was ace.

an opportunity has presented itself where I may be able to get a lomo camera.

a huge goanna was hanging out outside my room tonight.

I had good chats with Anita.

I'm a whole nother day closer to not working here anymore. And I'm damn excited about it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

We're all on the same island...

Today I got an email from my aunty.. she told me that an old friend, Frank Teese, used to say "you can't get lost because you can't get off the island, and you will make it home sometime." There's a lot of comfort in that. I am so far away, yet I know it's not that far.

I have found it hard the last week or so.. I worked 6 days straight, moved into my accommodation, the few people I know seem to work opposing shifts to me, money is running low, and a great deal of my time has been spent thinking and worrying in light of the tragic situation in Melbourne last week.

That being said, I have handed in my resignation and notified housing that I will be leaving in two weeks. My last shift will be on the 16th.. I leave on the 18th. I have a list of things I want to do here before I leave:

another sunset or 3
another sunrise
a pre-dawn base walk
a sunset helicopter flight
a dinner at the 5 star restaurant

From here, the plan is to head to Kings Canyon and camp for 2 or three nights. Do the rim walk on one day, which I have done before. Do the canyon floor walk. Chill out a bit. Then head to Alice for a day or two. Do exciting things like buy a new pair of swimmers. Stock up on books. Have some more fun. Potentially camp in the West MacDonnell Ranges for a night or two, depending on the heat. From there, spend one night at the Devil's Marbles, one night at Daly Waters, then arrive in Darwin. Probably stop there for a little bit of time to work, Mum might come visit, and I am interested in going to the Tiwi Islands, where they have an exhibition AFL game each year.

I am also toying with the idea of flying to Sydney on the weekend of the 6-7th March for Mardi Gras.

I have moved in with a German girl, Sabrina. She is not the teenage witch, but is lovely nonetheless. I feel very lucky to have moved in with someone I click with, given the close quarters of share share up here. 

At the moment, we are doing a photo project. Each of us made a list of 12 items/objects. We each bought a disposable camera and have a week to shoot each thing on the list.  This is something I need to do more of at home. It's so nice to be challenged and have purpose to my photos. It's awesome taking pics of the rock, but ultimately, it's a rock. There's only so many photos you can take of it, before they all come a bit same same.

All in all, I feel way better, knowing that there is an end point to my time here. It gives me purpose. I am working the next 6 days here, then have an RDO. 

I bought a couple of underwater disposable cameras up here, which I intend to use during the course of my trip. I am enjoying my time here, though the work is long and draining.
I miss everyone a lot, but am trying to suck it up.

I am working hard on remembering.. we're all on the same island. I'll get home eventually. Until then, I intend to see and do as much as I can within my means...

Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's Official - I live at Ayers Rock

Who knew?

Here I find myself,  an actual, official resident of Yulara.
The room I have moved into is... compact.
I have a new housemate, a German girl named Sabrina. I am conveniently situated near the Res Club and the Rec Centre.
And I am looking at handing in my notice in a week or so. But don't panic! It requires 2 weeks notice to vacate your accommodation, so I will have ended up being here for about a month. Hopefully enough time to buy my new camera. Well to buy it and have it sent to Melbourne, anyways!!

Not sure what the next move will be. All roads up North towards WA are washed out and the river keeps rising, so that may not be an option. Options, however, are not few and far between.

I am very keen to go back to Coober Pedy. You can join the postie on a mail run, which takes two days and goes on the Oodnadatta track. 
I'm hoping to do a helicopter flight over the rock. 
I want to camp (and be camp) at Kings Canyon. 
I want to go out to Kata Tjuta and redo the Valley of the Winds walk.
I'd like to try to get to Sydney for Mardi Gras.
Or Daylesford for Chill Out.
I want to head back to Melbourne, and do some short trips from there, perhaps to Cairns, or Broome.

I want to be on the road again.

But all in good time.

Monday, January 26, 2009

My New Friend

I am finding it really lonely here. I am sure once I start work, it will be very different.
I have been lucky enough to meet the managed at reception of where I am staying, and he has ever so kindly, put me into a room by myself. It is right at the back of the resort, and it is quiet and private, which is good.

There is Australia Day festivities on here, for residents. I did go out there, but chickened out when it came to the going up to random strangers and introducing myself. I figure, I will suck it up for another day, and then in the morning, I will meet some new people when I start work.

I did, however, discover a very cool and quite large Goanna who lives outside my door.. I've added some pics, but of course, had already put my camera away when he caught and ate a cricket right in front of me!!

I think his name is Gary.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Photo a go go

And so. I have found a way to upload some photos.
Now I just need to have the patience to upload them in something resembling some kind of chronological order. Alas. In the meantime, you will be forced to view them in their jumbled way, and enjoy them as best you can.

Sisters Rocks - Outside of Horsham, Vic.

The classy folk of Horsham, Vic.

Me at the South Australia/Northern Territory Border

A Highway Pitstop.

Port Pirie Morning Swim - SA

The Giant Koala - Dadswell's Bridge - Vic.

The sights of Coober Pedy - SA

Burnt out Desert Car - NT

The Big Winch - Coober Pedy - SA

As you can see, I'm well on my way to exploring many of Australia's "big" objects. I'm even at the Big Rock now!
I haven't done too much exploring here yet. I am getting a bit sick, and am conscious of taking some time just to be. I had a job interview yesterday, which I should find out about today. It will be good for a month or so...

I did go out to the rock last night with two girls I made friends with, Traci and Stephanie. We got pulled over by the NT police, and I was breathalysed. No big drama there. The funny thing was, when the police guy did the check of the car with his torch, he said to his partner, we better not touch this car.. It's protected by Chuck Norris! I *knew* Chuck would come through for me!

I'm missing Melbourne alot, and quite a few of the people in it. Particularly as, when I meet people here, many of them are going on to Melbourne and asking about where they should visit. It makes me quite homesick! But it's all good. I am going to get out with the camera tonight for sunset. I think taking some photos will make quite a difference for me. I also met someone here who is really into photography. I have learned some cool stuff and now I want to buy a lomography camera!!!

Still planning on spending a bit of time working on a business plan for when I return home.. but I will get to that when I can..

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Solid Rock, Sacred Ground

I have made my way to Ayers Rock!
And it is the best feeling. I feel like this is where I am supposed to be.

What a trip it's been! I left Melbourne earlyish and enjoyed a well rounded, healthy breakfast... A crunchie.

I couldn't help myself, when I stopped at Beaufort for a loo break, I popped into the op-shop and found some fabulous pillowcases to add to my collection! The first few hours were quite boring, as I have done that drive a number of times. I did have an excellent pie for lunch in Stawell.

I saw some pretty cool stuff on my way... Outside of Horsham there is a place called Sisters Rocks. I almost missed it, but hit the brakes, and went back.. It is a series of massive rock formations, that are covered in graffiti!

Continuing on the theme of chucking a u-ey to go back and take photos, I found a pink lake.
It is a dried up lake bed that is encrusted with an inch think layer of salt. In places, the salt is pink, because of the beta-carotene that seeps out of the plants on the shores of the lake. I have a couple of healthy chunks of pink salt (will be great for next year's Midsumma Margheritas!!!)

I made it to Adelaide and got quite frazzled, so decided to keep on going and stay somewhere outside of town. I ended up making it to a town called Port Wakefield, which was quite lovely, though very small. Full of tradies, so ended up in a motel, which was good cause I got a good night's sleep.

I headed out the next morning, and stopped in a town called Port Pirie, which was gorgeous. And I hit paydirt with the photos! Lots of people out for a morning swim. And a fabulous big fat old guy, who was belting out some old tunes, the ilk of Perry Como. The flat, still water carried the sound a long way.. It was quite endearing.

Back out on the road, by about 7 pm last night I made it to Coober Pedy. Hot and tired, I found my way to an underground backpackers, and crashed out to sleep after reading about half of a book.

I got a very early start this morning and was well rewarded. The Coober Pedy early light of day was excellent for photos, and the air was cool and refreshing. I head out on the road, another 750 odd kms ahead of me to Ayers Rock.

I stopped in a few places today for photos and other cool stuff and rolled into Yulara at about 4.30 pm, and to my delight, my phone rang as I pulled in.. Was so nice to hear my girl's friendly voice on the other end of the line. I am staying in the backpackers here, which is clean and reasonably quiet. There is a pool, which is good, a laundry which is excellent, considering the piles of black fluff I was covered in after using my towels yesterday, and air conditioning in the dorm room.

It's incredibly hot and the flies attack in their millions. Still and all, I feel like this is where I should be.

I look forward to a great night's sleep and heading out to the Rock tomorrow. No plan formulated as yet. I seem to have left my "Australia" guide book in a 'safe place'.

Times are good.

update: I am having big problems resizing and uploading photos, so this is all I can do for now!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Coober Pedy

So I have made it to the opal mining town.
I am safe.
I am exhausted.
Have seen some awesome stuff and taken some great photos.
Can't get my laptop online or any phone service at this stage.
Will do a proper update once I can get online properly.
Should be able to do that tomorrow night at Ayers Rock.

Monday, January 19, 2009

You Gotta Love This City

I don't think there is any danger of me not coming back to Melbourne.
I realised yesterday, in the tired and somewhat intoxicated haze of the evening that there was something I had not counted on in the whole organising and planning this trip. I am going to miss Melbourne. I mean really miss it. I feel like I have finished up teaching and I am just coming into my own in this beautiful city. I have been exploring new areas (and really enjoying them), seeing things in a new light, and taking the time to breathe Melbourne in (just not when I am on the Ring Road. You know the spot.)

I have always loved Melbourne, but it's taken me quite by surprise to find that I will miss this entity. Even the weather. Crazy, I know. I have a list of cafes and shops I haven't gotten round to visiting yet. I have a pub that I meant to make my local. I haven't quite got the hang of the new shortcuts I have learned between the west and the north. I have been discovering the joy of trams. (sidebar: I have had a long-suffering relationship with Public Transport. I am very pro-it in theory. In reality, as a Westy, I am uber-anti-it. it smells. The people are crazy/drunk/high/strange/smelly. It's slow. It's unreliable. And then there are the two most fearsome words in of Melbourne PT: Werribee Line. But Trams! Trams are a whole nother world that I am yet to discover and reap the full benefits of!)

I don't really feel like I had a huge break over Christmas. I have been tense and anxious for a very long time and the best way I could see to deal with it, was one chunk at a time. 

Grade 6 Graduation. Done.
Big Day Out. Done.
End of Term. Done.
Christmas. Done.
New Year's. Done.
Finding a New Tenant. Done.
Packing My Apartment. Done.
Moving Out. Done.
Planning and Packing for my trip. Done.

And then suddenly, I realised, Crap! I'm leaving in like 5 days! And these have been some of the most enjoyable days I have had in a long time.

Last year was really bloody hard. It was a hard year at work - facing up to the fact that the thing I have lived and breathed for the last eleven years may not only be something that I don't want to do, but may in fact be something that I am fostering a strong dislike towards, is hard.  I had to have Ruby put to sleep. I lost one of my all time favourite people in the world. And it still hurts. Then, I lost my Pop, who I had a great deal of love and respect for. There have been some good days, but alot of hard ones too. So I was quite surprised last night, when I realised what a wonder borrowed time is. I think we all need a jolt every now and again to realise we are on borrowed time. 

I have spent the last few days running around like a crazy woman trying to get everything ready to go, but also, really enjoying and savouring the people, places and things I love. 

On Friday, I jumped on a train (yes, it did smell...) and headed to that iconic Melbourne landmark, Flinders Street Station. I switched to a tram and headed to the G for the first day night match of the year, in the hope of securing some good seats. Anita had never been to the cricket, and really isn't a fan. I spent ages laying the groundwork to talk her into coming. I didn't want to end up with the nosebleeders in the Southern Stand, where neither of us could see of have anything even remotely resembling the awesome crowd participation that we all know is the real reason one goes to the cricket. I made my way through Gate 5, and found myself about 12 rows from the fence, on a 45-degree angle to the pitch. Awesome seats. Anita arrived, the weather was perfect, and we now have a vast repertoire of chants, the likes of "Tits out for the boys"; "You can't stop the snake"; "Skull, skill, skill!"; and the all time classic, "You're going home in the back of a divvy van". I hadn't been to the cricket for awhile, and though Australia lost due to some poor umpiring and very shoddy fielding in the last 10 overs, it was a great day.

On Saturday, Dad helped me empty out my storage unit. he doesn't say much, my Dad, but it was really good to spend some time with him. We talked about the cricket and a little bit about my travel plans. I bought fish and chips for lunch and slaved away to set up the bedroom there as usable. I also got a chance to chat to Mum about my trip and plans. I bumped into some very old friends on Saturday afternoon, which was just lovely. They are great girls, and I had missed them alot. I look forward to spending some time with them when I get back.

Saturday night was drinks at Northcote Social Club, a place, not unlike the Builders' Arms of old, where I feel very at home. It was so nice to spend some time catching up and shooting the shit with new friends and old.

Yesterday was perhaps the highlight for me. Midsumma Carnival Day. Amazingly good weather. Chance meetings with lots of old friends and acquaintances. Lots of beer. And of course, the overwhelming sense of community that is never as prominent as it is on Carnival Day.

We dragged our tired selves to The Fox Hotel last night to see Bluehouse. A very pleasant surprise, as we only found out they were playing a couple of days earlier. They haven't played in quite awhile. Anita and I met at a Bluehouse gig, and they're always alot of fun. I was bone tired, sore, dirty and teary but geez it was fun.

And so I have woken up to a sunny, shiny morning this morning and a healthy sense of terrifying fear about what I am doing. I am leaving my home, my partner, my family and my life, taking a huge risk, and going out to find adventure, amazing sights, and hopefully, a little bit more of myself.

But rest assured. I can't stay away from Melbourne....

I'll be back!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Though I was never a Scout, I intend to "Be Prepared"

In the midst of packing everything I own, clearing and cleaning an apartment, moving, and taking my life by the reigns and giving it a sharp tug to the left, I am also trying to be prepared for anything and everything while I am away.

I have got a fabulous tent, a 'Speedy' Tent, which, believe it or not, sets up in about 2 seconds.

I also bought a fabulous folding stretcher bed from the surliest salesperson on the face of the earth, at Ray's Outdoors in Preston. Seek her out. She is really something to behold.

I have a tiny, tiny sleeping bag, my big brown blanket, a camping stove, a torch, all sorts of other goods...

Seriously.. if you have suggestions, please tell me now! Before I leave!!

edit: Now that I have cleaned my apartment from head to toe (or floor to ceiling), and have dumped all my travel stuff in The Chief's garage, I am planning on giving the car a good and proper clean. 

So far, the packing list (obviously more detailed than above)
- tent
- sleeping bag
- brown blanket
- camp stove
- 2 red melamine dinner plates
- 2 red melamine side plates
- knives and forks and spoons and stuff
- tongs, BarBMate, and other cooking accoutrements
- a particularly fabulous spice/condiment storage thingo 
- a saucepan (with a red lid), a frypan (red), and an ace decor mixing bowl/storage bowl (yep. red)
- chopping board
- esky bag 
- DSLR camera (and cables, auto shutter release, etc)
- Sony Cybershot
- Tripod
- Toilet Paper (see! Scouting! Be Prepared!)
- rubber mallet (for tent pegs)
- tool kit
- jumper leads

I'm sure there is more!!!
Just slowly feeling like it's sneaking up.
Now that the house stuff is all sorted out, I am feeling very, very much like I need to write alot of lists.
It's particularly therapeutic and cathartic. And there will surely be more to come. 


Sunday, January 11, 2009


With little more than a week before I leave, I am nervously making plans, lest the trip seem completely disorganised.

As I fill the boxes and bags with my collected treasures, I am realising what a huge move I am making. My apartment, with it's now naked walls (yes Ms Real-Estate, there was never anything there, no that mark was there when I moved in...), it's surfaces void of any knick knacks or photos, and little evidence that I have been here at all, it is sinking in that I am, by choice, going to be homeless for the next few months. As frightening as that thought is, there is a certain air of liberation to it as well. No carrying house keys everywhere I go. No paranoia when I can't find them as I rummage through my bag in the hallway. My car will be my home. And luckily, I love my car. If I may be a touch poetic.. The stars will be my sky. The beautiful Australian landscape, my artwork and inspiration and the universe will provide for me. I hope!

I have been scouring road maps, travel information and online resources and have come to a tentative route.. I will leave Melbourne reasonably early and head for Adelaide. I will probably stop at Stawell and Border Town. I will find lodging in Adelaide for the night, see a sight or two and turn in. Leave the next morning for Coober Pedy, via Port Augusta. Plan to stay in underground hotel. Leave the next morning and drive to Uluru. No words for the excitement I am feeling for this part of the trip. This is when I think I will feel like it's really happening. I will probably spend 5-6 days at Yulara and spend some time exploring Uluru, and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). From here, I will head to Alice for a night, before heading out into the West MacDonnell ranges and Glen Helen Gorge for a couple of nights camping. Back into Alice for supplies, before I drive to the Devil's Marbles. I've heard the campsite is neither pretty nor comfortable, but I am hoping for good sunset and sunrise pictures. From there, Tennant Creek, Daly Waters then to Darwin, to rest for awhile and do some work.

I have an awesome tent, it pops up in about 2 seconds. I bought a camp stretched (so the hard ground at the Devil's Marbles won't stop me from sleeping), camp chair. I have the usual camp stove, kitchenny stuff, utensils, plates etc. of course there is the ongoing red theme. I have my cameras (taking my Canon DSLR, my sony cybershot and a polaroid), tripods, cables, chargers etc. Computer. Mobile Phone. MP4 player. Blankets, sleeping bag, pillow, Journals for my witty and well written musings (which are obviously not here) Will be stocking up on canned/non-perishable food before I go, but after I have moved. 

Stuff I'm Excited About Seeing
The Moon Plains (Near Coober Pedy)
Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas - remember that Australian Search Engine Ad?)
Wartarrka (Kings Canyon)
The Devil's Marbles
Standley Chasm
Glen Helen Gorge
Ormiston Gorge
Daly Water's Pub
Litchfield National Park

If anyone reading this has any suggestions of what I should see/do, please let me know. 

Monday, January 5, 2009

I'm Heading North

That's right, I am off again, off out into the world of travel budgets, uncomfortable beds, near-unbearable heat, long drives, endless roads, and just what I need right about now... A break from reality. 
In a mere two weeks, I will be leaving all that I love and hold dear to hit the road.
As Missy quite eloquently sung... I'm heading North.

On the 19th of January, my life as I know it will be wrapped in newspaper, boxed and packaged, and stored safely (with colour co-ordinated labels) and I will head off on what may be the biggest adventure (or biggest mistake) of my life.

I have left my job, my profession that I have known for the last 1o years, in the hope that the universe will guide me to where I am meant to be. To that end, I am trying to give the universe a loving nudge, by throwing caution to the wind, and packing up my little car to the brim and heading up the western highway.

At this stage the plan is to drive to Ayers Rock via Adelaide and Coober Pedy. Spend a few days there, then head to Kings Canyon, Alice, The Devil's Marbles, Daly Waters, and finally come to a dusty and hot rest in Darwin. I'm hoping to work a bit in Darwin, save some $$ before heading to Broome to explore, take photos, and work some more. From Broome, I plan to head south to Perth, around the South-West coast of WA, across the Nullarbor, and back home again.

I am excited.
I am terrified.
I am worried. 
I am slightly intoxicated by the heady fragrance of freedom that I have never before allowed myself.

I will miss everybody hugely, but know that it is something I need to do.

I will be in touch where I can, I will be taking *hundreds* of photos, and surely, posting them on this blog, and sharing as much as I can with, you, my loved ones.

Suggestions of what to take, where to go, and donations to the cause are all gratefully accepted.

Rock On.