Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Went to Haigh's Chocolate factory and Visitor's Centre yesterday. They don't export outside of Australia, so I figured I HAD to pay them a visit! Besides, it is the oldest family owned chocolate manufacturer in Australia.

Had a tour, got free chocolate and bought just a little extra chocolate to keep me going ;)

Visited the Balfour Bakery outlet just around the corner from my hostel to buy "just breakfast". Ha.

Dropped by the Adelaide Central Market for some bananas and had to almost physically hold myself back from buying everything.

And, to finish off my day of food, I got together with the Kates and Jacinta for dinner last night. Very nice dinner, though I forget how expensive it is to go OUT for dinner. Travelling makes you into such a cheapskate!

I tell you, though, Adelaide is serious about their food and wine! Totally my kind of town!

Monday, September 29, 2003

Goodness, I can't believe I forgot to tell you that I went on a camel ride in the Outback!

It was a place just outside Alice Springs (a hyped up middle-of-nowhere town, quite literally).

Very cool. Very bumpy.

Did you know that camels were at least partially responsible for Australian explorers being able to cross their impossibly dry centre and set up a telegraph line all the way from Adelaide to Darwin?

It's true.

Unfortunately, someone let the camels go and now there are heaps of wild camels roaming the outback and destroying natural vegetation and, thus, indigenous wildlife habitats.

Sad story.
See how much I'm learning?
Just found out that I will be in Melbourne for the International Arts Festival.

World Cup Rugby AND an Arts Festival.

Could I have picked a better time?
OK, well I could have chosen a WARMER time to go there...
Just got back from a night of theatre. I saw "Drowning in my ocean of You" at The Queen's Theatre. The theatre is just around the corner from the YHA I'm staying at.

It's a brilliant piece. Outstanding acting. Read about it if you're interested.

The theatre itself is quite cold. Almost as if we, the audience, were outside with the characters on the jetty, watching it all unfold.

A very simple set. White-washed exposed brick. A piano in the corner. A bed. A wooden stage. Pinpricks of light - of stars - showing through the old, broken window.

It made me sad. It made me marvel at how amazing it is to be able to act; how amazing it is that someone can make you FEEL so much, almost as if you are going through whatever they're going through.

It made me happy that I am loved.

Sunday, September 28, 2003


Here I am in Adelaide now, the capital of South Australia. The YHA here is quite nice. I'm SO happy that I'm staying here! So clean and well run.

I've already met heaps of people that I've met on my travels previously. One is a girl who was in my room in the YHA Darwin and one is a girl who was on my Fraser Island trip.

So far, I like Adelaide, though I've only been here for about 5 hours. I've had a bit of a drive around in the tour bus when we came into town, a nice shower, a nice free dinner with free apple pie and cream (that's whipped cream to all us westerners).

Sadly, I'm back to the cool weather. It's currently 11 degrees. The high for the rest of the week is only 17 degrees. Low of 8 degrees. Brr.

I think I'm spoiled. I guess I'll just have to pull my jeans out of the bottom of my pack again.

Tomorrow is laundry and research day.
I really need clean clothes and I really need to decide what I'm going to do and when during the next week.

I want to go to Kangaroo Island and the Flinders Ranges, both of which come highly recommended to me.

I'm meeting friends of Tony for a picnic in the hills on Saturday. Should be nice!

The 2-day tour to Adelaide was, well, QUICK. But the tour guide was really nice and our group had a really good dynamic. I had a lot of fun.

The best part was when we had a balloon-animal competition. Team Canada's submission was a multi-coloured moose. I thought it was quite good. Team Japan had several entries, including a really nice poodle. But, alas, Team Korea stole the prize with a rather dirty old man. So they won the packet of TimTams.

We stayed overnight last night in Coober Pedy, the opal mining capital of the world, apparently. It's also quite hot in the desert there, so many people live in houses dug out of the rock (called "dug outs").

We stayed in underground accommodation there, and had a drink at the underground bar, as well.

Looking forward to catching up on my emails and getting organized and eating a leisurely breakfast tomorrow.

I love cities.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Just back in Alice Springs after my 3-day red centre trip with Adventure Tours.

I have just seen all of the big Australian icons:

King's Canyon - huge canyon with red cliffs and a lovely swimming hole
Uluru/Ayers Rock - did the base walk, as they discourage climbing, saw sunset/rise
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) - kind of like Uluru/Ayers Rock but many of them (just smaller)

Drove over 1500km. Walked about 20km.

Tonight, eating free pizza over at Melanka's Backpackers hostel again. Then off for my 2-day trip to Adelaide to meet Meredith and the Kates (friends of Tony). I'll be there about a week; totally looking forward to being in one place for more than a night.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

I'm in Alice Springs after a whirlwind 3-day trip aboard an airconditioned coach. Luxury.

Day One : Darwin to Katherine
Stop in Adelaide River at the WWII cemetary. Very sad. And hot.
Canoed in Katherine Gorge. Breathtaking. My wrist hurts for days afterwards.
Permanent camp site just outside Katherine.

Day Two: Katherine to Tennant Creek
Lots of ground to cover.
Swimming in hot springs; was just like a morning bath.
Lunch at the Daly Waters (pop: 7) pub; a VERY old pub in the middle of nowhere
Swimming in Tennant Creek Dam water hole.
Overnight in former horseback riding farm. Permanent camp, but I slept outside in a real Aussie swag (like a sleeping bag with a mattress), just like all the hardened outback station hands.

Day Three: Tennant Creek to Alice Springs
Heat starts to lift a little. Cloudy.
Battery Hill Gold Mine Tour
Devil's Marbles
Ti Tree (small town with lovely art gallery where we had lunch)
Tropic of Capricorn
Staying at Melanka Hostel.

Tomorrow, I'm off to see Uluru/Ayers Rock. Up at 5:30am.
Who says this is a VACATION?!

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Back from Kakadu.

Lovely tour!

Fantastic food. Luxury camping accomodations. Lots of information, lovely people.

Went swimming in the most amazing spots! And the swimming got us out of the blistering sun/humidity, so the heat was not a problem. Haven't been swimming that much since I was a kid.

Tonight I have free accomodation at Melaleuca's again, 10 mins free Internet and a meal at the Victoria Hotel.

Yay for free things.

And I only got about 5 mossie bites. Not bad!

Being picked up tomorrow morning at 5:30am on the first leg of my 3-day journey to Alice Springs.

I hate mornings.

This next bit of my journey will be through the outback. That means LOTS of driving through very boring terrain.

At least I'm reading an amazing book: Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald. Picked it up in Cairns when I exchanged my other two recently read books:Toujours Provence by Peter Mayer (read it because Rita from Tales of a Female Nomad read it) and Coasting, about a woman from Sydney who ditches it all to live a simple life in the north coast (Hardy's Bay).

I love reading!

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

I'm still in Darwin.

Today I went on a fantastic day trip to Litchfield National Park. Went swimming in Florence and Tolmer falls which could not be cool enough, given the heat of the day.

With a really cool tourguide, two good meals and a private viewing of the life and death of a frill-necked lizard, it was totally worth the $30 I paid!!

Now I'm staying overnight in Melaleuca Lodge (yes, the place I left when I first got here as I deemed it too grotty). But it's a free night included in my three-day tour of Kakadu.

Sept 18-20 Kakadu.
Sept 20 Overnight Darwin
Sept 21-23 Darwin - Alice Springs
Sept 23 overnight Alice Springs
Sept 24-26 Uluru, King's Canyone, Olgas
Sept 26 overnight Alice Springs
Sept 27-28 Alice Springs to Adelaide

Can't be sure when I'll be able to post or when I'll have mobile access. Likely only when I come in for an overnight stay in a real town/city.

Tomorrow, I get picked up at 6:30am for my heat-stroke tour. Yay.

Monday, September 15, 2003

I'm in Darwin now.

Wow. Just stand outside and the sweat pours off me. It's a literal sauna outside. Apparently, I'm here in one of the hottest times of the year. Lucky me.

Was booked in at Melaleuca Hostel, but I took a look and HAD to get my money back. I went to the YHA across the street. Not MUCH better, but somewhat better at least. It's the first time I've ever asked for my money back. I felt bad. But I couldn't stay there. Yuk.

But I have to stay there for one night when I'm back from my 3-day Kakadu tour. The tour company stays there overnight before taking off for Alice Springs. Sigh. I'm sure it'll be better than camping, anyway.

Met a girl named Esther in my YHA room who has a car. We're going to Litchfield National Park tomorrow. Yay!

Today I'm going to the supposedly excellent Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory. And doing laundry tonight.

Wow it's hot.

And I'm worried about my tour to Kakadu and Alice and the hostel I'm booked at in Alice. I've heard horror stories about all of them. Really starting to get scared.

Well, I'm sure as long as there are nice people on the tour I'll be relatively happy.

I'll probably NOT have mobile access when I leave for my tour of Kakadu on Thursday morning. Not sure when I'll have it again, or when I'll be able to do email/post here.

Worried. Wish me luck.
Today at the Cairns lagoon, I met Jerome.

Jerome is 6 years old and in grade one. He lives with his cousin, Taylor, and her mom and his mom in Churchill, Victoria. He said it took "Twenty thirty hours to get here."

He could spell his name, and took some creative liberties with Taylor's name ("T - A - L - I - S - G - I - T - H").

I think Jerome is the first friend that I've made here in Cairns.

I would like to report that Global Backpackers, the hostel in the heart of the city, is a really good hostel and I learned that my roommate had sex with some guy in the hostel bathroom last night because there just wasn't anywhere else to GO.

I checked out after a leisurely morning tea, left my bags in their luggage storage and booked my airport shuttle with the efficient staff at Global.

I spent most of my morning at an Aboriginal Educational Gallery. It was really good (although I don't think many people go there at all) but made me really sad.

I'm sad that I'm affected by all of the white Australians who've cautioned me to stay away from the Aboriginals, as they're generally drunk and up to no good. I get all nervous when they pass me when I'm walking by myself. That makes me feel like a bad person.

But I think that Jerome was at least half Aboriginal. And I'm really glad that I met him.

Kids are the greatest.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

I'm back in Cairns today after a trip to Mossman Gorge, Cape Tribulation (2 nights) and one night in Port Douglas (all of which is north of Cairns).

Cape Trib is where the Daintree rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef. Literally, the water at high tide reaches right up to the jungle.

And I stayed in a cabin IN the jungle. And did yoga on the beach every morning.

It was all very lovely... except for the 700 bites that I have everywhere (including my face!) that itch like crazy.

Thankfully, I think that my dark tan kind of hides the swollen red blotches.

Port Douglas is the place where all the rich people from NSW go to vacation. What a town! I worked it so that I'd be there for their Sunday markets.

I met some lovely people while hiding from the blazing sun under the artist's tents and exotic fruit stands. Also bought several good used books, so I'm all set...

All set to go to Darwin tomorrow. Got one last day here and then I fly off to a place that, by all reports, is even hotter and more mosquito-ridden than Tropical North Queensland!

And the pharmacist who sold me the antihistamines for my incredibly uncomfortable bites told me that the medication doesn't work against Croc bites.

Well thanks.
Apparently, the Northern Territory is FILLED with crocs.

I've already seen a couple on the Daintree river cruise that I went on yesterday.

Very cool. But they weren't as angry as the ones at Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo. Maybe the Crocodile Hunter should come 'round to stir up THESE crocs?

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Went to Kuranda today on the scenic railway. Met a really great couple in the train and chatted to them about their son who teaches ESL in all sorts of interesting countries.

Carla and I walked around the touristy town full of markets. Saw some fantastic souvenirs and wished that it was the end of my trip so that I didn't have to worry about carrying all of it around with me. Also, don't have the money to buy everything that I'd LIKE to buy.

All of the local artists there really inspired me. Such lovely creative stuff.
I really need to do something more creative. Maybe I just need to write more.

Tomorrow morning I'm off to Cape Tribulation (which is north of Cairns, if you follow the link). I'll be there for two nights and then, on my way back to Cairns, I'll stay one night in Port Douglas.

September 15th I fly out of Cairns, leaving behind Queensland and entering the Northern Territory's capital, Darwin. I think it's also the crocodile and mosquito capital of Australia. Heh.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Favourite email of the day:

6 bucks an hour for internet access is obscene. We're talking about
ranking it up there with dirty sex acts, Marilyn Manson concerts, and the
explotation of small children in sweatshops. That's how obscene it is.

Thank god that internet access is cheaper in Cairns. I don't wanna KNOW how much more obscene it can get!
Here I am in Cairns. Very sunny and warm and it's still winter. People walking around in bathing suits at the lagoon. I might do as well soon...

My tour with Uncle Brian yesterday was outstanding!

We went to various waterfalls, swimming and recreating Timotea ads, some rainforest walks, a volcanic crater lake and finally platypus spotting. We saw two platypus MATING! It was absolute magic!

Actually, the best part of the trip was just the SPIRIT. As Uncle Brian calls it, "the spirit of Gus the Bus". We sang songs, played games, talked and laughed and waved at the locals. The spirit is so hard to convey. It's really something that you have to experience.

I was inspired by Uncle Brian's desire to bring joy to people's lives through random acts of kindness. And by how he obviously enjoys himself. I talked to him about my desire to operate a tour in Canada. It's something I really want to look into. I'm going to start writing ideas down in my ever-open journal and see if I can put it into action when I get home.

Tonight, I'm going to Reef Teach to learn about all those amazing things I saw in the water when I was diving. It was recommended by Uncle Brian and some other travellers I've met along the way, so I'm looking forward to it.

Until then, I'm hanging out with my friend Jaap from the Netherlands. We hung out on Magnetic Island and did a crazy billion-hour walk across the island to all the bays and then also had a nice beach day together when we talked about Dutch food for about two hours.

Tomorrow, I'm off to Kuranda for the day.

Thursday, I take off for Cape Tribulation for a couple of days.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

My mom has gracefully called GoDaddy to sort out the website thing. Funny that they couldn't do that via email. They tried to get me to send them credit card info via email. Can you imagine?

Anyway, I'm finally back from Magnetic Island. I'm now a certified Advanced diver!!
The Yongala wreck I dove was the best dive I've ever done! Sea snakes, turtles, giant fish everywhere!

I'm just about to board the 7:15pm bus to Cairns.

Tomorrow, I'm going on Uncle Brian's tour of the Atherton Tablelands.