Friday, 9 November 2007

Taking the l o n g way home...

Hey Blogfans, how rocks life? So, I rather left you on a cliffhanger last time on my way to the city (town/street) of doom. Oh Katherine Katherine Katherine. But would you believe it this time when I saw Steve (grumpiest man alive) the mechanic he was actually able to hold a conversation without punctuating it with uncomprehensible grunts, he even smiled! Whether that had anything to do with the beer in his hand and giant wodge of cash I had just given him I wouldn't like to judge. And so 1 gearbox (possibly minus 5th gear) and 2 new tyres later ARNIE WAS BACK ON THE ROAD!!! Not wanting to miss the delights of Katherine I went to Woolies and bought some bread, apples and water (all the food groups represented there) and left. YEEHA!!!

The next 3 days pretty much went like this: drive, sleep, eat, sleep, drive, eat, drive, sleep, eat... Broome was some distance away, I was too lazy to put up the tent, there were no showers, you get the idea... I STANK!! And then when I got to Broome and ran into the camp bathroom for a shower imagine my delight as the electricity cut out. NNAAARRRRGGGHHHH! Spent 3 days chilling out on the beach of sunsetty delights and recovering from the road (and mourning the death of the kangeroos I roadkilled - what if they were the last remaining breeding pair in Australia??? Oh the guilt! Actually one so wasn't my fault, I slowed down to drive past it and it continued to run into the side of the car - stupid animal).

At this point I recruited some new drive companions in the form of Eric and Frank. Given that they were from Taiwan I suspect that these aren't their real names. I told them my name was Juanita Gonzales (ok I didn't cos I came up with the idea 2 weeks too late, but you get the idea). Alas with no money in our pockets it was drive time. Drive drive (camp in most fly infested place in world with resident enormous cow looking on) drive drive stop. Yes, STOP. FOR EVER. In the middle of NOWHERE (not really a surprise given that about 99% of WA is officially nowhere). Spent some time on the side of the road in 44 deg heat. That was nice. Chatted to a few miners on their way past who all wanted to help soooo much with the car situation by saying "hmmmmm, it's buggered mate". Thanks. Managed to hitch a tow from a lovely bearded man to the nearest roadhouse. And I thought Katherine was bad. Entertainment in this place involved cockroach contraception (it's less dodgy than it sounds, involves throwing rocks at the copulating little minxes), eating raw noodles, hats (see pic, dismayed face included) and time delay photos (100's in fact), because the bus was 4 HOURS late (Benno - no worries man, the bus is just a few minutes late dude!). I had to get the bus to Perth. THE BUS!!!! The indignity. Members of the public and all. Tch.

Yes boys and girls I'm back in Perth, oh city of all Perthliness. 4 days later and I'm back at work (I'm on the Northern Development Taskforce apparently). YAY!!!! Actual yay because I am BROKE (I hate that car, the car is the bain of my existence, never buy a car, car sucks, rrrrubbish). The 'keep Jo's belly and bum sizable fund' is now open, chose your avenue of donation here... Oh and join me in sorting out my life and directing me where I should go next on the poll over here----> pick the right answer please! On that note I think it's time I had a drink. a big juicy cold beer. Adios!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

on the 'other' side

G'day blogfans! How goes life? So the East Coast adventure has continued... Said a goodbye to Julia who had to fly back to Germany (ha ha unlucky) after a last night in Cairns in which I brutally mocked and laughed excessively at lots of slightly downbeaten fans of the Wallabies, HA HA HA (they've taken to blaming the rules of the game as the reason they lost). Then I got to experience one of my favourite travelling things - an overnight bus journey!!! YAY - how I've missed them... not.

Next stop Airlie Beach, the jump-off point for a trip around the Whitsunday islands. At which point I jumped off onto a maxi yacht thingy (I may pretend but I know nothing about boats...) which was apparently very fast and successful in its day (I suspect that now is not 'its day'). So we set off cruising around the lovely islands, chilling in the breeze and sleeping up on deck (the beds had a 'space' isssue, in that there wasn't any) under the stars. Hit another travelling top 10 moment as I got to steer the boat into the sunset (aaaaaahhhhh - though the picture doesn't do it justice, I was concentrating on driving) while the skipper laughed at my slightly unorthodox style (apparently writing my name in the water with the boat isn't what he meant by 'straight line')... Landed at 2nd best beach in the world (Australians, only 2nd best? astonishing), t'was a bit cloudy (of course, why wouldn't it be) so I took the opportunity to go for a 14km run on the 2nd best sand in the world with the sea licking at my feet (now why wasn't it like this for the marathon thingy) and GOT THE FRISBEE OUT!!!! Squeezed into my sexy stinger suit (damn this poisonous ocean) for a quick snorkel about more of the reef and generally cruised about. n.i.c.e.

Another joyful overnight journey took me to Hervey Bay, the jumping off point for Fraser Island the land of sand. Not surprisingly I got covered in sand. Everywhere. 22 of us piled into 2 jeeps (do not ask me how we fit in, we didn't) that we weren't allowed to get sandy or wet or risk losing at least a million $$$'s - damn car hire, I miss Arnie!!! Alas first thing we did on the ISLAND MADE ENTIRELY OF SAND was get the car covered in sand, and then a little saltwater, who'da thought that possible??? Anyways, much beach driving and track driving and there's a big bruise on my shoulder to demonstrate how smooth the roads were. A little rainforest action, a little lake action (no swimming in the sea, yes it has sharks that will kill you just by looking at you and jellyfish galore), a little floating action, a little beach olympics, a bizarre pet dinosaur and lots of bizarre things that I cannot for the life of me remember at this particular juncture (probably best left on the island I think)...

Beautiful stuff, plus I finally drank the bottle of wine that I've been carrying around since Perth, not surprisingly since it has been heated up and frozen and cooked and chilled about a million times it did not taste worthy of the effort put into carrying it. But enough of that. Went whale watching the next morning which was AWESOME, one even waved at me! In fact it was totally brilliant fantastic awesome mega cool. Fact fans: Did you know that a baby whale puts on 45-60kgs each day - that's like a whole me every day... sure makes me feel small... CRIKEY!!!! I went to Australia Zoo - home of Steve Irwin & co. An awesome day out as I got to pat a koala, feed kangeroo's, fortunately not feed crocs (they are BIG - up 7m! - and mean, especially when hungry), stalk emu's (ugliest bird in the world) and all kinds of other animal related things.

More photos of all things East to be found here (or again, and you wouldnt believe my cunning, but follow the link entitled East Coast Pictures ---->)...
Right, I'm off to hell (Katherine) now - IT SUCKS, adios.

Monday, 15 October 2007


Picture fans I have added some more pictures of the great road trip should you follow the link bizarrely titled Road Trip Pictures Part 2 (how do I come up with these things?) or if you're feeling super lazy click here...

Will update shortly (tomorrow prob) - currently in Hervey Bay en route to Brisbane, more details later, but it's nice and I'm still alive, just...

Wednesday, 3 October 2007


YAY!!! I'm not in Katherine any more! That's the good news. Bad news, Arnie still is and I have to GO BACK THERE to get him. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

We had to give in to evil Steve and get the Greyhound up to Darwin, arrived around 11pm, having our priorities well and truly in place we went for a 'quick' cold beer (this is becoming something of a common theme... hello Australia) to celebrate, possibly returning in the early hours of the morning after some crazy dancing (zero gravity kangeroo jumps) and cocktails to celebrate the brilliance of not being in Katherine (maybe it isn't that bad I don't know, but there's something about that place that seems to bring people to attach bits of aeroplane to their face, surely that's not good?). After a slightly late checkout (in no way beer related - and why does my neck hurt so much? ah yes, the dancing, whoops) we had to lick our sans-Arnie wounds and go about the treacherous business of hiring another car (sob sob) to get to Kakadu NP; managed to procure a beauty on the promise that we wouldn't go off road with it, 모 ㅗ드 (sorry, this keyboard keeps randomly popping into Korean for no apparent reason) - ah hem.

Well Kakadu was erm, ok? Not the same without Arnie, who given the expense of the repair job ($2000 and counting, nnnnaarrrrgggh - Perth I may be back a little sooner than anticipated) is not in such good favour anymore, especially as had to leave all our camping gear with him so slept under the stars - this time nowhere near as romantic as it sounds because it was wet, fly ridden and I was much nearer the source of snoring than usual in the tent, grrrrrr. Saw lots of birds in a muddy pond that is somehow both culturally and environmentally significant a la the beloved World Heritage list. Saw some kangeroos fighting which was cool. They fight like girls. Saw some crocodiles, they were big and scary and not to be trifled with. Plus bizarrely went snorkelling in a cloudy waterfall also apparently with crocodiles, thank someone important that I didn't see one because otherwise the water would have turned purple! Listened to Mika a lot on this trip. A LOT: "this is the way you left me, I'm not pretending, no hope no love no glory, no happy ending, this is the way we love, like it's forever, spend the rest of our lives but not together (insert Mike like squeal here *aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh*)" - will these words ever exit my head???

Back to Darwin for the soul destroying and devastating task of saying goodbye to Luka and Benno by sharing a beer at sunset on the beach accompanied by sand wrestling, full volume Mika (again), belly rubbing, bad video diaries and more manic dancing (rock on Darwin).

Have now made the bizarre decision given my current bank balance ($600, could be interesting... tch, who needs food anyway, and milkshake, and accomodation? Baby Kate perhaps?) to head over East to Queensland and am currently in Cairns and just done a 3-day liveaboard dive of the Great Barrier Reef... It was super-duper wonderful, saw lots of fish and reef and sharks (night dive bizarrely between dinner courses) and glug glug glug. T'was awesome my friend. I'm now back landside trying to figure out how to travel several many km's with no money, any ideas???

nB. a jelarkodile is a vicious combination of a jellyfish (prevent swimming in Darwin), a shark (swam with in Cairns) and a crocodile (definitely no swimming in Kakadu). More pictures when Benno gets over his jetlag and properly copies them to a CD, nnaarrrrggh.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Gift of the Gibb a.k.a how to lose a car in 10 days

Guten Tag! So to bring you up to speed. Broome was bam-fan-tastic, many an evening spent on the beach watching the sunset (it's quite an event on the West coast apparently, duh) - see traditional photo... Carried out a casting for some new travel companions with my current co-conspirator Julia, and ended up with another swiss and german combination of boys, completely mad and insane boys at that, certainly keeping things interesting! So it was a quick fill of fuel and stock up of food (pasta sauce) in Broome and up the last bit of sealed road for 600+km's from Derby to the other end of the Gibb River Road - the outback adventure is underway! Whoop woo. First stop Windjana Gorge for a lovely walk in the searing heat alongside a lovely river that alas was unswimmable owing to certain inhabitants of the crocodile variety. Everywhere. Managed to obtain our first injury at this juncture, a spider bite - possibly life threatening there was no way of knowing (actually there is because 48hrs later I'm still here, just). Day 2 led us well up the garden path in search of another gorge, although still not having learnt my lesson we decided to trust the map, only to end up walking in stonking midday sun to a point 200m up a cliff face from a wee trickling stream. Slightly underwhelmed, especially as managed to stub my toe 52 times (nB thongs/flip-flops not ideal walking equipment). You probably wont believe this but the next place we went to that actually turned out to exist was, guess again, a GORGE!! Unprecedented. Much swimming in waterfall action before the sun set and pitched up camp under the stars and the moon with a mouldy bottle of wine (damn that fridge).

Next stop Mitchell Falls, ah hem... At this point Arnie let his personality be known, he drives like a kangeroo, boing boing boing, uh oh. Rolled up the Kalumbaru Rd (a side track off the Gibb, so as you can imagine it was a high quality piece of road engineering, judder judder) and into Drysdale Station where we leapt out the car and ran to the bar for a lovely cold beer with our man Hugh, oh joyous high spirits, for now: Arnie henceforth decided he was going no further and so pushed him into the campsite having made the decision that the best way to fix him would be to consume lots of beer. Genius, in the morning he started but we still spent much hands on hip time contemplating what was wrong and sadly had to abandon the Mitchell Falls and head back to the Gibb. On which road we had the ultimate pleasure of seeing someone else broken down (yippee)!

Just about rocked up to El Questro Station (not however before stalling the car in the middle of a croc infested river - aaaaarrrggh and they like Germans too, I'm travelling with the wrong people!!!) and shock horror made a mad dash for the cold beers! A few rounds later and I had fire coming out of my ass. Think that one needs a little explanation perhaps as may give the wrong impression... Being the invisible shy kinda person I am ended up in front of whole bar helping out for a 'rodeo demonstration' that somehow involved putting burning objects in close proximity to my most precious organs (mon derriere) and then having them extinguished by my man Buddy through use of whip (not sure exactly what rodeo that's from though)! Spent the days with much gorgeous Gorge action and swimming in waterfalls and dropping valuable items in rivers and stuff (whoops), it was totally awesome dawson wonderbra (some very very bad german there).

Aargh, sooo much stuff to write here... a few more gorges and we made it back onto real roads (country lanes) and got into Kununurra (which is apparently hard to say with a german accent, ha ha) to do some on the go repairs (blue tacking holes in fuel tanks, etc, shhhhh) before getting into Purnululu NP via 2 hours of bumpy winding track in the dark (ignoring all practical advise about driving at night) only to have to utter the immortal phrase "the bikes are gone" - yep road too bumpy for the poor blighters and they fell off somewhere on the way!! (found them in a crumpled heap on way back). Spent day wondering the Bungle Bungles (i.e. getting lost in them) and blitzed it outta WA into the Northen Territories (a new state, another world) to Katherine, around 2am and Arnie had had enough and completely kaputted on us. The transmission was blown so we had to do the final 200km's to Katherine with no gear other than 4th. Nnnnnaarrrrrgh!!!!! Finally arrived in Katherine, THE single worst place in the world around 5am and spent the day tracking down the most miserable monkey like mechanic in the world, Steve "it'll be ready tomorrow definitely" the Wrecker. I HATE him. Katherine sucks. nB new gearboxes apparently not that cheap, nnnnaaararrrrrrrggghhhhhh!!!

I'll leave the story at that for now as it just seems to go on and on and on and on...

Lessons of the week include:

1. Commonly used phrases whilst camping: "where is the...?"

2. make no unnecessary stops, do not turn off the engine unless entirely essential, and who needs 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th or reverse gear when there are boys to push?

3. NOTHING will beat a cold beer and NOTHING beyond the necessary should be done prior to consuming one (fixing car, putting up tent, showering, anything)

4. no matter how little drinking water available a waterfight is NEVER a waste

5. When asked what time it is, it is sufficient to reply "September"

6. I am not a mechanic, no matter how many times I say the word 'thingamyjig'. I can now test a spark plug to see if it works, it does. Bzzzzzzz...

7. Urban myth 'Pavarotti is dead' is true, in his place we ate a LOT of pasta and sauce. Too much some might say, not enough others (Benno) would say. I wouldn't complain if I didn't see pasta and sauce for a few days (hours).

9. Mika is the best. Night at the Roxbury most definitely not.

10. There really is nothing good to say about Katherine. Not one thing. Especially as I have to go back there...

Saturday, 15 September 2007

broom Broome (bet I'm the first person to come up with that tagline...)

G'day blogfans! Here's update # 2 of le grande road trip... (and more photo's have been added to the road trip pictures album)

Things I've learnt so far:

1. It's not a good idea to count carriages of trains while allegedly in control of a moving vehicle, 1, 2, 3, 4, thud!... (in my defence it was a really REALLY big train) - don't panic Johnny, it was only a minor scratch and all concerns easily remedied by a glass of wine

2. WA is possibly the biggest place in the whole world. Why did no-one tell me this? (see picture below of the most boring bit of road ever, not even any roadkill to entertain self with)

3. The fridge will find it really hard to keep things cold when not switched on

4. The 'other right' is in fact also known as left (or "that way! that way!" accompanied by frantic pointing)

5. Tent pegs serve a valuable purpose and the tent will depart if not appropriately utilised in windy environs

6. I will never be rid of red dirt, no matter how much soap there is in the world. *I am as one with the dirt* (makes a good fake tan actually...)

7. km's of tedium can easily be alleviated by 'bush waving' and inventing innovative amendments to the traditional one handed salute acknowledgement of passing cars

8. Road trains are B.I.G.

Think I was in Exmouth when I left you last, went diving on the Ningaloo Reef for a day, which was great apart from the fact that everyone else seemed very keen to see their breakfasts again whilst I bounced around the boat trying to avoid their projections (nice), and saw a humpback whale on the way back (I'm very excited about this, though everyone else in the world seems to have seen a million of them already apparently). At Exmouth I traded in my Irish companion for some new travellers so it was 3 fearless girls venturing into the unknown for the next leg of the journey... oh dear (much handbrake and direction related problems ensued!).

650km's later we arrived in Tom Price, which is actually a place named after a person rather than a person named after a place (can't think what his name was though, ha ha) who discovered something, possibly iron ore, possibly not, I wasn't paying attention at this point. Real purpose for this detour was to go to Karijini NP, where Arnie came into his own as we took on a few 'regular car owners' (tch 2wd scum) passengers to tour the gorges and spider walk the walls (go web go), I've said it before and I don't doubt that I'll say it again, it was gorgeous! Had a brilliant camp night out of delicious dinner, cheap wine, good company (see pic, l-r: Rachel, Julia, me, Mathius and Beat - say with weird Swiss accent and apparently it is a real name...) and a fantastic starry starry night (deffo an Oz top 10 moment) in the park and spent the next morning frolicking in waterfalls (pictured above), brilliant - this is what I go to school for.

Next it was on to the delights of Port Hedland. I am fast learning that any town that has the word 'Port' in it's title is never going to win a beauty competition (ref: Port Talbot). A big industrial town the jewel in the crown of WA's resources boom and full of miners. Mmmmm, my favourite... But would you believe it all the campsites were fully booked, WHO are these people who WANT to stay there?!? So we had to suffer the indignity of going to South Hedland and enjoying the delightful aromas of the town of roads that have no logic (it's the roads, not the navigators...). Alas it was with a tear in my eye I said farewell to the place and on the longest most boring bits of road in the world up to Broome, which is fan-dang-tastic. Would put a picture of the lovely sunset up here but three guesses, I forgot to put the batteries in the camera (nnarrrrgggh).

Right well, I'm off to the beach and to recruit some new companions for the next leg, I'm going outback baby! I'll be back on the radar in a bit, if not then here's some recommended films for nervous parents: Hostel, Open Water, Wolfe Creek...

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Cruisin' the highways

I be a traveller again, in that I have actually moved! Far (protracted celebrations noises!). First up I'd like to introduce you to Arnie - the beast that is taking me where my every whim may lead me: isn't he beautiful? And boy is he packed to the rafters with everything you might possibly need to go camping (and the largest tent in the world destined to forever stay in it's bag as we can't work out how to put it up)!

So finally left my wee house on Monday (admittedly a leeeeettle late), picked up Ireland (Kildaire: big on horseracing and tractors apparently), filled up with petrol (man Arnie can drink) and true to form, got lost. Seems Perth had other ideas as we tried to leave as every road led into some winding suburb or scrubby field. Oh dear. Finally located the 'main' road (nB when reading this alter what a main road looks like in your mind to resemble a country lane) and destination north! First stop a cave in the middle of nowhere. Sure tested out Arnie's 4wd abilities on the road there, and he passed, yay! Just about made it into Cervantes in time to see the Pinnacles at sunset, lots of bizarre rocks jutting out of desert displaying the joy of erosion. First night with camping gear all seemed to go a-ok (if you ignore slight 'movement' of top layer in wind)...

Continued cruisin' up north to Kalbarri and passed first 1,000km marker at some point along here. The coast was absolutely awesome, all red rock and blue blue sea (call it the Turquoise Coast, couldn't possibly think why), and saw lots of gorges, which were, erm, gorgeous (I thought of that 'joke' about 300km away from them, but managed to hold out on it until got there - serious improvement), here's me banging my head on a rock, tch. Then further up to see the dawn of civilisation as we know it, or something resembling it anyway. *science nerd alert* These here are stromatolites which are able to survive in the unique hypersaline conditions and are tiny little bacterialites that produced the first oxygen billions of years ago (considering it takes 1 year to grow 0.4mm they had time on their side).

From the dawn of civilisation to life as we know it and up to Monkey Mia in the Shark Bay World Heritage Site (who knew) which took a 260km detour (naargh) to see DOPHLINS!!! Yay! These dudes were sooo cute (I'm currently in negotiations to have one as a pet). Next a serious day of driving (700km) lead to Exmouth, which is where I am now, will leave the update on this til I've done something here other than check my emails. There's lots and lots of stuff in between that has already managed to slip from my mind (in place of having a dream about playing the AFL Grand Final alongside my hero Ben Cousins) and there isn't enough space, but if you go here photo's of the road trip will appear as if from internet nowhere land... Ah well, I'm off to go stick on a snorkel and hopefully see some fishies (imagine I'd look a bit silly just wondering the streets wearing one...)

Sunday, 26 August 2007

walk in the park?

Jo is...

...currently enduring 8 different kinds of pain! All of them unwelcome but largely not unexpected. Yes boys and girls, today was the day of the great Perth City to Surf Half Marathon: 21 km (thank god I didn't get lost) and I did 'em all!!!! See here for a 'proper' (as proper as WA news reporting gets anyway) report:

Let me walk you through it km by km, on second thoughts I can't bear to do it all over again just yet but let me summarise: 6:45am and I am lined up with what turned out to be 1,000 other members of the cream of WA athletic crop (I was a tad outclassed!) on St George's Tce awaiting starters orders whilst trying to avoid the downpour (yes, I am moaning about the weather, justified in this case I like to think). And we're off, woooo! Fast forward a bit and who put that big hill in my way! See piccie - youch! *arrow denotes approximation of my position* (note early stage of race, I was soon to be found a tad closer to the back!!!) Anyways a 10k slog around Kings Park in the rain and then back onto the track to the 'Surf' (which given the galestorm winds, was definitely up) where the 14,000 odd people on the 12km race (tch, lazy) came sprinting past to join the party. I don't venture often into West Perth territory but it turns out there are a few hills there too (who knew) - nnaarrggh! Around about the 16km point it was a case of attack of the blisters. Hit the wall about 18km when my legs decided to weigh the equivalent of twelve elephants. Each. Eeuyuck. But panic ye not, I stuck my tongue out and persevered and I could have hugged the '1 km to go' sign! True work of magic on part of my iPod as 2 hrs 10 mins and 56 secs later (belieeeeeve me, every second counts in this kind of thing!) 'Eye of the Tiger' came on just in time for the death slide into City Beach for the finish!

I. Am. Never. Doing. That. Again. (please somebody remind me of this when I get another one of these ideas in my head, pleeease.) But I do have a rather glamorous medallion that I might now wear every day of my life, rock on! Will try to get some pictures soon if I can...

In other news I had my last day of work on Friday (sob sob) at AED and am departing to climes of the north variety as I head up the West Coast in my beast of a car hopefully some time this week. I'm going to be a scummy traveller again, yay! It's going to be one helluva ride! And to counter my previous whinging (pom, tch) I now love the Australian Government because they gave me all my tax back (if anyone asks, I am an Australian resident...), YAY!

Right, enough of this. Chocolate time!!

Thursday, 19 July 2007

running to stand still

G'day folks, how's it going? Time for a wee update on what's been going on somewhere on the other side of the world (depending on where you are when you read this that is). This wee little backwater town they call Perth seems to have somehow inadvertantly become the place I've stayed for the longest time a) in about 2 years which is scary and b) without making one of those amazing chocolate puds - dad can I get the recipe??? - which is even scarier! (not that I'm always thinking of my belly) and c) means I've been able to slack off this blogging malarky.

Current activities have recently surrounded Perth's City to Surf run that's happening at the end of August, I'm fine with the 'city' element and happy with 'surf' - it's just the 'to' that's been bothering me of late... Believe it or not I've been running all over the place in the name of training (don't laugh) and you'll be happy to know that thus far I haven't been attacked by a pelican (few close calls mind), have been complimented on my socks (left green, right 'gold') and haven't seen sense yet. There are two races I could do, one's 12km the other 21km - I need your vote on which I do, pain or lots of pain? challenge or challenge to survive? Let me know here...

Had a mini road trip at the weekend down to Margaret River which is a major wine making region about 200km south of Perth. Went down with Ali (my scottish housemate - who is scandalously labouring under the impression that he's leaving next week) and Mickael "i complain" Frenchy. Was awesome to get out the city and have a nice break (we were either driving for longer than I thought or it looked exactly like England, green fields and cows galore) and needless to say 'sample' lots of wine and even blend our own <*jo remembers why she failed chemistry as she accidently pours 50 not 5ml in the measuring tube, 'hic'*>, though we're not to talk about the chocolate factory (hrumph). It's a big surf destination down there and seeing as one of the reason I came to Oz was to get in some surfing, you'll be deeply impressed that I continued my good work and didn't touch a board (this is getting silly now - picture above). Frisbee made it out too, only to be immediately launched into the sea (tch), so was replaced with AFL ball (I'm soooo much better than those guys already, Ben Cousins eat your party heart out).

And in other news caught my first glimpse of dophlins in the Swan river whilst walking along in South Perth which was pretty exciting (I felt much empathy for the little kid who screamed whenever mummy and daddy suggested that it was time they went home instead of watching them) - if you get your magnifying glass out you might see a fin in this picture, as was the ride on the boat across the river that I didn't even realise existed (the boat, not the river) - would have saved me a lot of effort running if I'd known about it!

Harry Potter minus 2 days!!!! So EXCITED!!!

That's pretty much all I have to say right now - don't forget the decision lies in your hands: 12 or 21km - it's in the hands of democracy now...

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Bonne Anniversaire!

Time for another window into my world - this time we head birthday-side. Yes boys and girls, if I didn't make a big enough deal out of it already then I'll try again here... Another birthday, another country to enjoy it in, this apparently is how they do it Oz-side.

As you can see I had everything I could ever need, scrumptious cakes (a slight improvement on the luminous yellow and purple caterpillar monstrosity I made for the guys at work), wine (so who's idea was work in the morning huh?), a giant lollypop and gorgeous people to share it with, l-r: Sara (an Ozzie!!!), Birthday Girl, Philippe, Ally, Bethan (my new housemate), Rachel (another Ozzie, who'da thought it?), Mickael, Alan and Ali, not pictured Jessel and Roadkill (my hedgehog chocolate cakes) and my chickens.

more photo's at:

I had an awesome day (all 24 hours of it, barely a winkle of sleep!) and proffer giganormous thanks for all the wonderful messages and presents, some of which will no doubt prove life changing (Alan!) - I couldn't appreciate it more (unless you have a time machine that a) makes my birthday last forever and b) means I'm not 23...). Lots of lovely big hugs and kisses to y'all!

Back in the real world... not much new happening. Won the princely sum of $2.50 at the dogtrack the other week. Am running running running all over the place (more on that later, watch this space). Indigenous Cultural Awareness training and inspecting big digger trucks for work - don't ask. All is good, life is grand.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

I'm becoming a normal person. Help me please.

Well my dears it's all change here on Waltons mountain and I feel (have been told by my dad) that I have neglected my blogging duties therefore here I am, blog blog blog, let me give it to you in bullet points:

  • I have a house!!! I am no longer a living a fugitive like life in the hostel, bless it. Chess no more (there wasn't a TV). One fridge for 30 people no more. Sharing a room with 5 other people no more. Ahhhhh, luxury. I have everything I could possibly ever want, a big bed all to my lovely self, two fridges for the 4 of us and some friends with a PlayStation (not that I'm any good at playing any of the games on them, I miss the Amiga 600!).

  • I have a job!!! I am no longer the pawn of evil masters who make me do zzzzzz work for pittance. I've gone up in the world and am now an 'Executive Officer' in the Aboriginal Economic Development division of the WA Department of Industry and Resources. I go to meetings that have a range of biscuits and cakes for the eating. Yippee.

  • Monday night dinner time (something of a ritual for the last day of the weekend, yes it was a lovely l o n g weekend, I lazed in a hammock and went on a bike ride, the sun shone, life is good) - after 3 hours slaving over a lasagne it was the tub of ice cream that received the biggest thumbs up from these clowns, grrrr! L-r: token Ozzie chick Rachel, Philippe the lazy frenchman, Alan "glowsticks", Mickael frogman, Jan the fat german, one VERY hot English girl and Ali/William Wallace (it's a scottish thing, word has it not so keen on the mothercountry) - my 'lovely' friends...

Could I be more normal? Job, house, bus pass, baking, AAARRRRRGGGHHHH!!!!! I'm growing up, please stop this process before it gets too late...

Plus more photo's of my travels available here (or follow link on right cleverly titled, favourite travel shots)

Wednesday, 9 May 2007


says my bank account.

Have seen a local medicine man/pelican about the situation (-->)

He says it's a condition called 'evil-taxman-itis', also known as 'i want to spend all day at the beach' and 'the best things in life don't always come for free'.

By way of remedy he recommended a medicinal direct debit from your account to mine, though also mentioned that a cash deposit would do the trick equally well...

...ok so you don't pity me (is that because in Australia's equivalent to November and it's still 28oC, mwahahaha!) - so use your charitable reserves for people who may actually deserve it and sponsor my bigger (but in no way better) bro at: walking up a big hill to raise money for WaterAid, it's a great cause and if you give him enough money he might even stay up there (more than worth whatever you can give).

I thought it was about time you saw what Perth looks like, this is the view from King's Park (with some weirdo pointing you in the right direction should you get confused - oh and it's an evil act of deception on the part of a tree trunk that is making me look fat and NOT bum-brazil-itis).

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Ozzie Rules A-OK

Oz Stereotype #26 - Australian Rules Football is a game that largely has no actual rules (see here for the official party line on the matter). From my in depth research and analysis: Affirmative. At least no rules that anyone appeared to follow... And yes, they really do wear criminally short shorts -----> Marvellous!

As part of my ongoing and entirely selfless campaign to promote generosity and niceness in general across the world I volunteered to collect money for charity (I'm doing it for the kids) for a couple of hours before and after the AFL match between the West Coast Eagles (my team of choice, partly because they're local, largely because they are currently embroiled in some fantastic stories of drugs and scandal in the papers, and partly because I like their team colours: blue and 'gold' - don't know what it is in Australia but nothing is ever yellow, always gold - some kind of complex left over from the days of prospecting I suspect) and Carlton Blues on
Sunday. The offer of free tickets and free lunch was in no way the reason why I chose Sunday to be the day I honoured my generosity and niceness campaign. After having gorged on sandwiches in the MegaZone at the kids hospital (and let me tell you, mega goes no way to describe how awesome their play/chill out area was) and armed with a backpack stuffed with plastic handclappers (the <---- headache-maker as I called them), a money tin and a snazzy T-shirt, we headed to the Subiaco Oval to shout and bully and cajole people into giving us money - now this was something I could do and do I did, although many people would only give me money in exchange for a promise that I would SHUT UP! (ah money's money when it comes to charity, though I'm sure none of you could imagine me making lots of noise with my voice, ah-hem hmm hurrr.) 1 minute into the game it absolutely wee'd it down (in Australia?!? this isn't what I signed up for), and I mean wee like the sky had been hopping about on one leg for months before finally letting it go (which it probably had been in all honesty - *drought*). I was SOAKED to my soggy little pants. Boo hoo hoo.

Anyway and so to concentrate on important matters at hand. The 40 chaps running around the field after a ball. Yes 40!!! 18-a-side plus all these 'runner' dudes who just run about randomly during play to relay messages from the coach/local cocaine dealer. Loads of them. And in true schoolboy style they all huddled around the ball wherever it went. Throw the ball, kick the ball, wallop the other player, pass the ball, fight for a while, catch the ball, kick the ball in the goal, score! In this game you got points even if you missed the actual goal but got it through the posts in the mere vicinity of the goal. And from what I could see they weren't much good at catching the ball either, fumbling the ball they were great at,
though when I voiced my comments that they might all be a bit on the useless side it didn't go down so well with the nearby Australians (I daresay the immortal phrase 'bloody pommies' was bandied about a fair bit). My favourite bit was the throw-in which is done by the referee in a manner that can only be described in terms of a giraffes mating ritual, biz-arre. Even though I had little to no idea what was going on most the time I had a great time (authentic Australian sporting experience, tick!) and the good old Eagles pulled through to win by 100-39. Whoop whoop woo, GO EAGLES!

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Chocolate, bad karaoke, wine, fire unicycle, John Howards thieving little hands, frisbee, out

The title is a pretty good summary of this post, but I'm bored at work (opened 4 envelopes ALL DAY on Wednesday, clearly my contributions are on course to change the world any day now) so have written a suitably waffly bit of waffle for the pleasure of those of you out there as busy as I am.

So a Happy Easter to everyone. <------This is what I really really dreamed of arriving on Sunday but apparently the Easter Bunny doesn't do long distance deliveries - it would probably get stuck in quarantine anyway - so if you look carefully you will see in the reflection of the glass a little drool oozing down my face (pleasant image indeed). In fairness I did get to nab some free Hot Cross Buns from work - I was just sitting minding my own business (obviously not doing any actual work, why would I?) when this enormous tray stacked full of delightful little buns came round and invited me to take as many as I wanted. Being the generous soul I am I took about 70 (winter hibernation blubber building) and shared 1 with the others back at the hostel, ah the spirit of Easter. Speaking of the 'spirit' of Easter, can I just pass something on to shatter Oz stereotype #4: that Australians really really like their drink. With a lovely 4 day weekend ahead I got all excited about the prospects for entertainment and what do I find come Good Friday... all the pubs were SHUT!!!! Not one serving even a smidgen of a drop to thirsty folk. Huh? Well that's a teeny tiny lie. After much investigation it appeared that there was one place open for the night. A Korean karaoke bar, BRILLIANT!!!! Sadly none of my musical numbers were available so I took a purely spectatorial role in proceedings; never will 'Forever Young' sound the same to me after it's mauling at the hands of two overly enthusiastic (given their lack in tunefulness or indeed knowledge of the actual words) Korean fellows.

Languishing in the aftermath of un pue pompette-edness and having finished my book (Down Under by Bill Bryson, very topical) I got off mon derriere (and Swissland: please at least try to hold in your amusement at my French, boudine ronchon bete ogre citrouille visage) and did my one touristy thing for the week by catching the train down to Freemantle (a town/suburb about 20mins south of Perth centre where there are some actual 'old' buildings, and more importantly lots of nice cafes) armed with a camera with no batteries (when will I learn). There was a street performance festival of some kind going on, as far as I could tell this largely involved hefty applauding of very cute little kids blowing bubbles and clownish men jiggling about on oversize unicycles - what's life for if you don't throw fire sticks around whilst precariously balanced 10ft in the air? Took a quick detour to the beach en route home to relax, ah so nice to be able to just pop to the beach like that - jealousy jealousy jealousy ha ha me winner.

Anyone fancy laughing at Jo (who wouldn't)? Got my paycheck for all my hard work. Mmmmm $720. That'll go nicely in the bank. Hold on a minute, there seems to be some more numbers here... What's that minus sign doing near those numbers? $350 TAX!!!!!! 45%??? OUTRAGEOUS! It would appear that I am destined to single-handedly fund the upkeep of Australia during my stay. Or at least pay for John Howards retirement (and yours too probably Andrew so some sunglasses in exchange wouldn't go amiss!). I herein vow to take FULL advantage of everything they provide for 'free' from now on, even if it means spending all my days riding the bus round and round town.

<------Friendly spider, look at the size of it's legs!!! Run. Fast!!!

And finally those of you who are bigger fans of my Frisbee than me (and lets face it, who isn't?) will be distraught to know that it was judged to be too windy for Frisbee on the beach last week so it has spent most of it's time sulking under my bed, however panic ye not as I am scheduled to spend some quality time with it in the park soon.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Omblebumphf = viel Spass Comprendé? D’accord

I’m still in Perth baby, and can I let you in on a tiny weeny widdly little secret? It’s actually getting a little bit chilly around the edges here (chilly is of course being applied relatively), I had to sleep with the sheets all the way up for the first time in AGES the other night. Things aren’t helped by the fact that I am sitting under what appears to be a direct wind tunnel from the Antarctic (super powered air-con), I’m expecting Pingu to come flying through any moment now. Yes, I’m still working, though not at the ALS, that was so last week daaarling, I’ve crossed over to the dark side (i.e. something of a profit making organisation – how can I tell this? By the extremely well stocked stationery/ary cupboard, I’ve died and gone to sticky label/biro heaven) and am at Western Power this week doing stuff that I have absolutely no idea how to do nor does anyone else to show me, so as you can imagine my days are a little short of being unproductive. Am still living at la casa Guv’s as am yet to grasp the concept that the perfect house is not going to show up on my doorstep, but that I have to show up on it’s doorstep. Outrageous. This week’s activities have included cinema (Last King of Schötland: awesome, but hook hanging is invading my happy thoughts), swimming in the biggest pool in the world, not sleeping enough, eating more than enough, Frisbee (as if I wouldn’t), wine, mozzie related scratching, kickboxing (sooooo much fun), crazy dancing and Google translating everything so international relations/insults may flourish and continue (enschüldigüng weil ich so spät bin aber mein Hamster ist gestorben). And it’s still not even time for my lunchbreak. Madness. Boring pictures later. Just had lunch which was lovely until I got invaded by about 4000 tramps and when I tried to seek refuge in the office canteen it turned out not to exist. Das stenke.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Livin’ it Westside style

(Go West) where the skies are blue
(Go West this is what we’re gonna do Go Weeeessst)
(Together) we will love the beach (Forever)

Who’da thought that the Pet Shop Boys would have hit the nail right on the head with those immortal words of genius! And thanks to them I now don’t have to write much on this blog posting because that pretty much covers what’s been going on for me for the past few weeks. What? You want more details? Oh ok then, I’ll indulge you, but just this once. Fact fans, Perth is the most isolated city in the whole entire wide world, being as it is closer to Singapore than to Sydney and once out of the suburbs surrounded by, yes you guessed it, a great deal of nothingness. On arrival in Perth I decided to play musical beds in search of a hostel that was able to maintain an acceptable ratio between number of guests and number of pans in the kitchen (my lowest common denominator = food of course) and am now getting far too settled at the Guv’s place with our chess club (geek is thy name) and some very international drinking rules – apparently Finish for ‘cheers’ is ‘gepissed’. Santé indeed. Have spent a few days on the beaches, which are lovely white sand sparkling Indian Ocean type thingy’s and are perfect for body surfing, volleyball and yes oh yes oh yes oh yes, FRISBEE spielen!

Alas all is not well in paradise for it comes at a price and I’m sure you will all be delighted to know that I have got myself a job. Sounds very posh, this week I am PA to the CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Service. Of course this means that I do absolutely nothing other than take phone messages; yesterday that happened 4 times and I’m sure someone has invented a machine to perform this task, but I’ve never been one to turn down easy (if boring) money. Although I did get trapped in reception when I tried to leave last night, all the doors security locked around me and I had to bang and knock manically on the window for a few minutes until someone came and directed me towards the ‘press to open door’ button which in my defence was cleverly disguised by the label with those same words on. Oh deary dear, not even my Frisbee can save me now… Pictures are 1) just chilling at Scarborough Beach, 2) sculptures on Cottesloe beach and 3) enjoying the 'Sunday Session' l-r Allan, Fredd, Jen, Jan & Sarah - why oh why does it have to be on a Sunday??? - more photo's are available should you follow the link cleverly titled 'more Oz photo's' on your right. Peruse at your leisure.

Saturday, 10 March 2007

A whole lot of nothing

你好 ( Ni hao - I have it on 'good' authority that this means hello in Chinese). Acha tikka. Mes amis I have a wonderful show for you all today. Just you wait and see. Well first up is the beautiful scenescape of Adelaide. Adelaide is apparently a city. Though on reflection after walking about for a few minutes it's very small and offers no place to hide! So it was with happy inevitability that European touring group be re-formed for eine speile mit dem karten (arschloch und ring of fire - that incidently was NOT fixed by a Mr Daniel Reading, makes a big difference) order zwei. (sorry, once I've started in this pseudo german/french/english/hindi/chinese it's really hard to stop). We went round the Art Gallery for an educational tour and accidently mistook some art for a cleaning woman to much amusement - breaking the cardinal 'no happiness joy or laughter in an art gallery' rule, watched someone eat a plastic bag and paper themself to the wall. It's art daaaarling. Of course. Now this display of bonbon ---> surely that's art.

Once fully cultured up it's time to do something else. Like dance like there's no tomorrow. Alas with the recent invention of time, tomorrow arrived. Why why why why why? (sure all the rum was gone, but that was more to do with gravity than anything else, blame Isaac Newton not my slippery hands...). This was however remedied by the geographical invention of the beach and it's excellence as a frisbee pitch. And a sunburn haven. Youch. Spent the next few days living cheaply around the city, having appointments in the botanic gardens with teachers (no rendezvous to be heard of, what are we? french savages, tch), coveting all 26kgs of the second largest nugget of gold in the world (see left), squidging Bernie's belly in the evening (now that is a reference only a few will get, if you are not one of them then put the thought out of your mind forever, in fact do that even if you do know what I mean, permanent emotional scarring a risk). Sadly one can't eat cheap curry forever - had a great time in the market searching each stall for the cheapest carrots, then the cheapest potatoes, etc, not wanting to have to hand over more than 20 cents a piece. Thought we were going to be bamboozled by the ubiquitous 1.99 per kg onions, but at last le francais pulled through and spotted 1.49! Oh what joy. (oh and link to more photo's of G.O.R. is added to post below)

Then it was time to leave the land of the East behind on the Indian-Pacific railway. So to the train station I went. Obviously it was the wrong station. An hours walk later and the train was waiting (almost literally) just for me. Whoops. One of the greatest train journeys ever (apparently) across the Nullarbor Plain along the longest stretch of straight railway in the world (some 5million kms of it I think). These photos are a rough representation of what I saw over the past 38 hours - yes that long, I've come to the opinion that such train journeys are great only for certain people, and is it just a coincidence that all these people travel 'gold class'? I don't think so. Or actually for a true representation of my time read sporadically about Britney's current trauma (I. couldn't. Care. Less) and what the stars might wear to the Oscars (it was an old magazine) and maybe close your eyes for about 10 hours a piece to pass the time (viva le france for that 'help') whilst viewing what although isn't a lot is actually quite interesting for it's nothingness. And it really is red in the middle. And hot. And not a lot else...

This is the straight bit of railway.

Very straight.

I got a ruler out to confirm this situation (learning not to trust Australian superlatives) and can thus declare that 30cms of it is in fact as straight as indeed a ruler.

This is the view a little bit further on, around the 1,374km marker.

Still going...

A town in the middle of nowhere. Population 7. I kid you not. Ramsbury c'tait un metropole.

A little bit further on. Are we there yet?

The train resting in Kalgourlie-Boulder. Only another 498km's to go!

And a little more of my favourite scenery. Nothing.

It's all about the journey not the destination. Ah-hem, my arse (begs to differ).

But I have A.R.R.I.V.E.D. in Perth at last. Later than deutsche vier who was still in Adelaide when I left but I had what we call it in India, 'an experience'. Long live straight railways.