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.