Sunday, August 31, 2003

very upset with GoDaddy. They are really horrible with their support.

I'm off to Magnetic Island for my Advanced Scuba License for 5 days!
Arrived in Townsville yesterday afternoon.

Staying at Civic Backpackers. I think $20/night at this place is expensive for what you get. It's very cramped. However, it's clean and well run.

I went for a lovely walk along "The Strand" last night with my roommate. That's the beachfront path. It was nice.

She told me I should read "The Tao of Pooh". Sounds like my kind of book.

Unfortunately, almost everything in the city is closed today.

Went to the markets this morning. Very nice. Bought yummy local fruit.

Visited the local art gallery, which had an interesting exhibit of flower arrangements accompanied by haiku's.

I think I need to be more creative in my life.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Don't be fooled by the hype. I learned that with the Arts Factory in Byron.

I should have realized that the $16 for 2 nights deal that the Wicked Travel Agent gave me for buying so much stuff from her was not exactly a gift from the bottom of her bleeding heart.

Reefo's sucks. Dirty. Expensive Internet. Shitty kitchen (worse than Waterfront). Noisy.

Reception guy last night was NOT friendly even though I tried so hard to be nice and friendly. I've run into that a lot here.

It's like they're trying to bring me down.

Anyway, in case you were wondering, don't stay there.
OK, I didn't die.

I'm back from my Reef Dive and I'm a certified open water diver!!

It was a magnificent trip. Fantastic group of people, perfect weather, amazing coral and fish, good food, pretty good sleeping, and a real challenge. I'm SO proud of myself.

I even led a yoga class on the bow of the boat at sunset last night. Magic!

But I was the only one doing the 4-day dive course; everyone else did 5 or 6 days. So they're still all out there and I had to be transferred back in order to catch my next tour.

Tonight, I stay in a hostel (Reefos, just outside Airlie Beach) only to be picked up at 7am or so for my 3 day/2night sail around the Whitsundays.

I was really sad to leave the group. I met some fantastic, interesting people.

And I can't tell yet if I have a burn or if it's just a really good tan. Probably a bit of both.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Just doing some email before I take off for the Great Barrier Reef to do my final dives of my dive course!! I've just finished 2 days of pool dives and classroom instruction. And now I'm off for 2 nights and 2 days of diving in the open water (the doctor said my ears were OK).

Now, although it may be impossible to fail the course, it was pretty time intensive. If you plan on doing this, don't plan on doing anything else. There's lots of homework and even an exam!

So I'm a little tired after staying up to do my homework, pack up my stuff so that I could put most of it into storage. And making food so that I'd have something to eat today.

The kitchen at Waterfront Backpackers is crap. NO can opener. No sharp knife (had to cut onions with a butter knife!). No lids for the pots. No collander/strainer and no bowls. Makes it bloody difficult to make spagetti.

But I managed.

Have a bit of a tan - did I tell you?
Feeling a little lonely.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Started my scuba diving course today. Am on lunch break now.

We did a swimming test and while I passed, I was embarassed at how winded I was. I just don't swim enough. I used to swim a lot as a child, but I think I got to teenage-hood and hated being seen in a bathing suit.

Anyway, I'm a little nervous about the diving. I hope that my ears will be OK. At least I have a really nice Italian dive partner named Daria. I met her on Fraser Island.

To be honest, I'd be happy just to sit around reading and writing in my journal. I've discovered that's my favourite. The weather is beautiful here in Airlie. Really perfect. Don't think I'd like it in summer, though. Even though Byron was a bit chilly, I'm glad I chose this time to come out here.

But I wish that I'd given myself another day or so to rest between Fraser Island and Airlie/Whitsundays. One day didn't seem enough.

Ah well. I'm meeting great people and staying active. Although, based on my swim test I should be MORE active.

I think I'm one of those slow-and-steady-wins-the-race people.

Got a call from my German friend, Andrea, but I was just starting my amazing 10-hr sleep and was SO tired I couldn't keep my eyes open. So she's calling back tonight. I'm so excited as I miss her very much!
Well, I'm BACK!

I'm now in Airlie Beach, take off spot for the Whitsundays (a bunch of Islands on the east coast, just at the south end of the Great Barrier Reef).

I start my dive course tomorrow. So I have some studying to do tonight, but I have a raging migraine and just want to sleep.

I just finished my 3-day Fraser Island 4WD self-guided tour. It was great (more on that later when I have better Internet access) but I got very little sleep (due to hard ground and early rises). Then I took the overnight bus here to Airlie. Very little sleep. Plus, I probably didn't drink enough water on Fraser.

Anyway, I'm staying at Waterfront Backpackers which is in the attic of this waterfront building and, as such, is STIFLINGLY HOT! I'm changing hostels in 2 days.

Almost didn't get to do my dive course. Had my dive medical. The doc says that my ears aren't equalizing properly. Apparently I'm sick (or WAS and my sinuses still haven't figured out that I'm better). So I have to take nose spray to clear it up.

She authorized me to do the pool dive (not very deep) but I have to go back on Sunday to see if I'm cleared to do the deep sea dives that are part of my diving package.

Cross your fingers for me!

Also, thank god for MacDonalds' $2 sundaes! Magic!

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Yesterday Juris and Wynsomme took me to O'Reilly's in Lamington National Park. We did a treetop rainforest walk. Very cool.

And I had a Rosella sit on my head. That's a bird, by the way. A very pretty one.

Then we went for a hike around the rainforest. Beautiful.

Today, Juris is taking me on a motorcycle ride to Mt. Tambourine. Then Winsomme and I will walk around, do some window shopping.

Tonight, we're all going out for a nice dinner and to hear a live band.

Tomorrow (Monday) I leave to go to the Australia Zoo (home of the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin) and then on to Hervey Bay. Tuesday, I start my Fraser Island adventure.

Friday, August 15, 2003

I'm posting from The State Library stand at the Ideas at the Powerhouse in Brisbane.

Alex just called to tell me that most of Ontario and New York is in blackout. CRAZY! I feel so far removed. Here I am at this festival of ideas, while most of the world at home is realizing just how much they depend on electricity.

Had a tour of Queensland Art Gallery today. The tour guide was strange. She refused to acknowledge my presence! I wonder if perhaps she thought I was American (sidebar: there's a book here called "why we hate america" and I want to read it).

I'm reading such a good book right now. Tales of a Female Nomad. Outstanding. Inspiring.

I'm all about inspiration right now. I need to explore some new ideas. I am feeling dissatisfied. There has to be more...

Tonight I'm going to see a dance performance at QPAC (Queensland Performing Arts Centre).

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Went to Brisbane on Tuesday. What a fantastic day!! Going back tomorrow.

Wednesday, I did a little jaunt around SouthPort (Gold Coast) and then went rock climbing at Brisbane's Kangaroo Point at night for only $15!

Total magic!

Today I toddled off to my surf class. Wow, was it hard. I actually swore at the surf. However, I still thought I was the coolest person I know while I was doing it. I just wish it were easier.

All this while my parents took off to go to Vancouver to go to a wedding I should be at and then on to Calgary to visit my sister, who just bought a house!

Monday, August 11, 2003

Booked all my tours this morning for Fraser Island and Whitsundays, including my dive course. Exciting!

Then took the bus to Surfer's Paradise, looked into another surf class, which I'll do on Wednesday, I think. Had some ice cream and hung out on the beach.

Winsomme took me to Springbrook National Park tonight to the Natural Arch to look at the glow worms there. Very cool! Our torch (flashlight) broke, so we did the hike in the dark. It was magic.

Tomorrow to Brisbane for the day!

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Q: Where am I?
A: Nerang, QLD

Q: Where's that?
A: Near Surfer's Paradise, on the Gold Coast, north of Sydney.

Q: Why Nerang?
A: I'm staying with Jan Plain's sister, Winsomme (and husband Juris). Lovely people!

Q: What did I do today?
A: Juris and Winsomme took me on a driving tour around the Gold Coast, for ice cream, for a fish n chips lunch, to the hinterland to the lookout points of a couple of national parks

Q: What's the weather like?
A: It was about 23 degrees and sunny but windy on the coast. In the hills, it was cooler.

Q: Is it really winter there?
A: Yes. This is winter

Q: Do I have a tan yet?
A: Yes. I finally have a tan!

Q: How long will I be here?
A: Just decided. One week. I leave on Monday, August 25th.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Learned to surf!
I am now a surfgoddess!

OK, that's not exactly true. I wouldn't say I was actually GOOD at it, but I did get up on my board and ride a wave or three!

It was so exciting! I had a lot of fun and all the people were so nice!

Have decided that the Arts Factory Lodge is not for me. I reckon I'd like it more if I knew more people there. But I haven't really bonded with the people I do know and others are just not so easy to meet/talk to.

LOVE the Wicked Travel people, though.

And I suppose I do love that the hostel is really well set up for reading. So I've actually been reading. And going to bed at a normal time and sleeping like a normal person....

Except last night one of my roommates brought a boy home from the bar and he convinced her to let him stay.

I was like, "dude, you're NOT staying here."
And he ignored me and passed out in her bed and snored so loud I could hear it clearly through my earplugs! Well, at least I wasn't hearing any other noises that I didn't wanna hear.

Met up with a girl I met in Sydney - in my surf class! Will go out for a drink with her tonight and then up early to see the sunrise at the most easterly point of Australia.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Just spent a lot of money on some more travel plans.

This time, I bought :
1. scuba diving course in the Whitsundays
2. trip to Cape Tribulation (3d/2n)
3. 3-day Kakadu Nat'l Park 4WD trip
4. 3-day trip from Darwin to Alice Springs
5. 3-day tour of Uluru, Kings Canyon, the Olgas
6. 2-day trip from Alice Springs to Adelaide

Got some nights of accommodation thrown in as well. And some free Internet access while here in Byron. Although they don't allow ftp access.

Thank god for automajik bloggers.

So, that's about all the money I have. But at least that's all the things I wanted to do paid for.

God, travelling is expensive!

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

So, here I am in Byron Bay. Home of people who walk around in bare feet, hippies and tree-huggers, alternative therapies and back-to-nature enthusiasts.

Staying at the Arts Factory Lodge. Strange place.

But they offer yoga everyday for $5! Yoga with "The Baron" is an interesting, mind bending experience. I also did the Welcome Walk tour and got a free bottle of wine for my troubles. And I went to the beach, slept off my overnight bus trip and tackled the waves a little.

Last night was the Arts Factory Talent Show. Very cool.

Today I bought flip-flops (called "thongs" here) and am planning on doing very little. YAY.

Tomorrow (Fri) I do a 3-hr "Learn to Surf" package.

Saturday I wake up to watch the sunrise at the most easterly point of Australia.

Then I leave Byron for Surfer's Paradise.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

OK, I'm packed.

I suck at packing. I absolutely loathe it. But I'm done.

My backpack's overfull. I'm leaving behind several boxes of things here in Sydney to pick up on my way home in March.

Trying to update my site in the meantime, as I'm not sure when I'll have a chance to do it again in the next 2 months.

So many last minute things to do. Just like when I was leaving Toronto. But this time, I didn't have Kendra or Al to help me.

But I'm ready. Mostly. Except my food cupboard... heh.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Today I said goodbye to Andrea. She left for Perth this morning. It was pretty sad.

Last night, we went out for YumCha, finally. Then we went to Scubar for cheap wine and got a little drunk.

I also met up with Sonal at Starbucks so that we could say "see you in March 2004."

I've been visiting the travel agent, trying to get my plans sorted out. And today I made the leap.

  1. Sydney-Cairns McCafferty's hop-on/off 3-month bus pass.
  2. Three-day Fraser Island tour
  3. Three-day Whitsundays tour
  4. 6 nights accommodation

$1000 later, I'm still trying to decide when/where to do my PADI dive course.
- in the Whitsundays?
- around Fraser Island?
- Magnetic Island?

So many options. Not enough money.

After Cairns, I'll do a trip to Cape Tribulation and then fly to Darwin. Do Kakadu National Park. Travel down the red centre to Uluru, Alice Springs, Coober Pedy... to Adelaide.

Then Melbourne in October for the Canada vs. New Zealand Rugby World Cup match.

I leave for Byron tomorrow night. Whew.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Totally amazing day.

Went with Steven and Jan Plain to Ku-Ring-Gai National Park, to West Head's awesome lookout point.

Saw Aboriginal paintings and engravings, did the Basin Track walk, took the ferry over to Palm Beach (where they film Home and Away), up Barrenjoey Head to the Lighthouse and then watched the sunset, drinking cappucino and eating chocolate.

Then I had dinner at the Plain's house - apricot chicken, no less - and then they'd made a cake and sang me happy birthday and I blew out the candle.

Beautiful weather, good company, yummy food, outstanding views.
Contented sigh.
I love Australia.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Today was my last day of work at The Coffee Roaster. It was a nice day.

A little sad.

Then I went to the travel agent and started planning the rest of my trip up the east coast. Really nice travel agent at Backpackers World.

Wow, is this going to cost me some bucks. But it's going to be so good! I'm so excited!

Then Andrea and I met and went to Fox Studios.

And, you know, we casually walked into a FREE Dandy Warhols concert at [V]HQ!

I watched part of the concert from about 10 steps away from the stage. The other half was spent in the wine bar across the pathway from , where it was warmer and we could drink a nice glass of wine.

Great concert.
I feel very cool that we just walked right into it, not knowing that it was going to be there at all.

Then we watched Charlie's Angels Full Throttle, which was shockingly, horribly fantastic.

What a great night!