Sydney, Byron Bay, Surfers Paradise, Jimboomba
28.11.2009 - 31.12.2009 28 °C
You knew it had to be done, I couldn't just say hello like normal.... Well I hope you're all fit well and happy.
The flight to Sydney was great. I checked in quite early so was given an emergency seat with nothing infront of me apart from a bit to put my feet on hurrah!! and the rest of the plane obviously. I watched a few films, I love you man, Crank II and The Time Travellers Wife, ate some food, drank tea and orange juice and generally had a lovely flight apart from when I got a whiff of the mans breath sitting next to me, he must have eaten a dead animal for his breakfast. When the plane was coming into land I looked out the window and noticed the ground looked like green brains and all the houses looked like ramsey street with red roofs and perfect gardens. We landed and I started to remember all the customs TV programmes I'd watched and how difficult it is to get into Australia. I'd filled in my card as best I could ticking boxes to say I had wood with me, dirt on my flip flops and a bag full of chocolate and about 4 coconut caramels, got my bag and headed to the control bit... nothing, not a suspicious arching of an eyebrow or rubber glove put on. My wooden necklace wasn't a problem in fact it was commented on as being rather lovely, the dirt on my flip flops wasn't cared about and the sweets in my bag weren't given a second glance. A little disappointed off I went to catch a bus and get a mobile number. Paid $29 for the sim card and got $150 in credit, wicked. The bus dropped me off at the YHA Central at about 9am and was told that I couldn't check in till after 12noon. Knackered, hungry and cold, yes cold, it was blowing a gale and raining when I got to Sydney, not quite what I was expecting... I went for food. The fruit in SE Asia is amazingly fresh and juicy and lush, in sydney I got tinned pineapple and sour apples for about 7 dollars - welcome to australia. I knew Oz would be more expensive than Asia but I have spent more time at the hole in the wall than I've been to the laundrette, it's horrendously expensive. You're talking 20 - 30 dollars a night for a dorm room with shared bathroom, doesn't include breakfast and you have to make the bed yourself and take the sheets down to reception when you check out again. Isn't that a job for the woman with the hoover? Anyway, I went for a wonder and found Paddys Market so had a mooch about there for a while taking in the slutty outfits, hair pieces and dried fruits. Checked into the YHA, had a shower and went off on a walk again in the rain and wind. Australian summer...?
I found a street called Oxford street which I think might be a gay or fetish kind of place with shops and pubs called 'Tool Bar', 'Hum & Saddle Bar', 'In and Out' and a booze shop called 'Lick Her Shop' very tasteful. The Saddle Bar does a weekly raffle for wine and meat... I went down to the Opera House and thought how mad it was that it was right in front of me. I've seen it many times on the TV but there is was in all it's off white glory. The opera house was pretty cool, as was the harbour bridge. It wasn't till I went back to Sydney to fly to NZ that I went on a boat in the harbour. Yes I'm that far behind on my blog I'm not even in the same country anymore. There are a lot of asians in sydney which means pho bo yeah!! love my beef noodle and tom yam soup and just about on every street in the city there's a sushi shop. Sushi rolls are sooo popular and quite cheap, love a bit of sushi.
Anyway, I didn't stay long in Sydney, I think it was 3 nights in total including a night in Wagamama Mmmm lush food, abuse from an aboriginal bloke for being white and not giving him my spare change, I think I tried on every high heeled shoe in the city before buying a gorgeous pair as my secret santa to myself and I met up with Ben and Jenny before heading up the coast to Byron Bay on a train which was cool apart from the load of bogans (chavs) that got on and waited till the lights went out and everyone was trying to goto sleep to talk and giggle and swap tracksuit robbing stories. I had to get off at Casino and get on a bus which took about an hour to get to Byron where I hung about a bus shelter then a milk bar till 8am. I couldn't get an ordinary backpackers room as unbeknownst to me, I arrived on the first day of schoolies!!! Scary mary mother of brad and kylie. Schoolies is the first day of the summer holidays when all the kids go to the sunshine coast, byron etc... a bit like spring break in America, talk about feeling like the oldest hippie in town... anyway I stayed in a motel (hotel, holiday innnn, I hate that song) just for 2 nights then escaped to surfers paradise, there were more schoolies there but I was staying outside at sanctury cove so didnt have to dodge pukey pavements on the way home with my woolies shopping. Byron Bay is beautiful, the sand is white, the sea is blue and the food shops are healthy organic types with gluten and dairy free anything hurrah!!
When I got to Surfers I met up with my scottish partying buddy from Spain, Angela (yes Dad, the celtic supporter..) we hadn't seen each other in about 6 years but just fell back into it like we'd seen each other the weekend before. She's so nice, even gave up her converted garage space so I could have my own room bless her. We sat on the terrace and drank tinto verano which we'd made ourselves and previously decorated the kitchen with after putting it in the blender to chop up fresh lime and checked out some angel cards. Apparently new love is imminent for me... Anyway, next day we went up Tambourine mountain which I keep calling a hill after first picking up a pair of K-Mart trainers for me as I'd chucked out my scabby vans before leaving asia. I reckon they could probably have escaped on their own. Did me proud for a good while, the vans not the k-mart ones, got shot of them the other day. The views from Tambourine were great but the walk that the trainers were bought for didn't happen that day, instead I bought home made fudge after trying a few flavours. Lasted ages, like eating condensed milk out of the tin. We went a 5.6km walk the next day at Daisy Hill, me moaning and dragging my feet while Ang skipped away, wasn't till near the end I started to like it as usual. Not a walker really, esp up hill although I always love it eventually. Didn't see a single Koala and couldn't find the Koala sanctury so went home and popped on our bikinis and went to the Hyatt pretend beach pool thing. It's for residents only but if you just swan in looking like you own the place no one says anything. A cocktail by the pool, bit of a swim and sunbathing then back to the house. Ang went to a Green Day concert and I took her place at bootcamp circuit training... why? I laughed nearly the whole hour, it was that or cry. My muscles ached for 3 days after and I vowed never to do lunge walking again. Another day of sunbathing this time on burleigh beach then went to Ang's mate Kates and I cooked them all dinner before we went mooching about the surfers night market. Before I knew it the week was gone and I was on the move again to Brisbane to meet up with Dino and Charlotte. Ang gave me a lift and we said her bon voyages ( I was back for New Year)
Brisbane itself is really nice. It's not as grey and mean as Sydney. I like Sydney but I don't think I'd really fancy living there for very long. Dino's apartment is really nice, even has a pool and spa bit and a communal BBQ area for the residents. We had dinner and went out to the drag queen bar below the flats for a few cheeky vino's then to this backpacker place for a few more and a bit of a boogie. When you go out in Australia it's much like the USA, you must have ID on you. They guy almost didn't let me in and it's not cos I look under 18 or whatever, not with these crows feet, it's just the rules. Anyway I have managed to persuade all bouncers so far that I'm nearer 40 than I am 18 so have always been let in, thats scary isn't it? nearer 40 than I am 18... pause for thought... One woman did ask me once if I was under 26, it was daylight too bless her. So, back to the story, we hired a car and went to Noosa. It's gorgeous there, really lovely wee sea side town. Like north berwick or something, all wee boutique shops and restaurants, parks and lakes and beaches, really nice. Bit windy for sunbathing tho, we tried but it wasn't happening. We drove around a bit then walked along this massive deserted beach. You can excercise your dog to the left but not to the right. Saw loads of wee blue jelly fish on the sand and a red crab that we crept up on. When it heard us it whipped round to face us claws in the air as if to say 'come on then, oooze havin it?!' very funny. Next up was a place called Coolum just in time to see the christmas lights being put on, made the tree look like one of those sparkly squid things at the bottom on the sea. I bought an acid free pineapple at the market which I forgot to eat and noticed that a lot of the women in the town had buns in the oven, like every second woman. I stayed away from the tap water after that and stuck to the juice shop. The next night was Dino's neices 18th birthday party. I'd like to know when I graduated from the young party in the garage doing jelly vodka shots and dancing about, to the old persons party in the back garden with chairs and wine? What's happening to me?? Oh yeah, I'm nearer 40 than I am 18... Perhaps my imminant new love is with botox? Charlotte is a hairdresser so did the kids hair for them and later on in the week gave mine a trim. The party was good fun, I spoke to Lorna, Mum and Granny that night too. We left the party and headed out to a bar for drink and dancing. It lashed it down so we hid in the flat for a bit before venturing out. When we got to the bar I got chatted up by a so called algerian footballer, a boy from saudi arabia studying to be a helicopter engineer and a big burly bloke from botswana. Not really my cup of tea... there was nearly a fight and we left. Not over me I hasten to add, some idiot with a chip on his shoulder who had his drink spilled. However did that happen in an overcrowded dancefloor..? eeeeediot. Charlotte had a job interview to go to so Dino and I took the hire car back. He can't drive so I drove. It's so annoying in Australia, the indicators are on the wrong side of the steering wheel. Why? I turned on the window wipers more times that I care to remember. It's bad enough that the car is on the wrong side of the road. Saw a street called 'Gillian Street' and later on 'Anderson street' little was I to know that 'Anderson' is very popular in Victoria, will tell you about that in part II. Hmmm I seem to have missed a few days in my written blog. One minute its the 13th dec and I'm chatting to Kate then the next it's the 16th and I'm throwing a ball for Roy in Jimboomba... Hmmm perhaps I was taken my aliens in those 3 days.. Ok so from what I can remember Charlotte got the job as of course we knew she would, we went shopping at a discount mall place like the Factory in Los Barrios, we drank boxes of wine and I cooked some fajitas. Perhaps the boxes of wine has something to do with my memory loss... Met Carmen in the Myer Centre and said cheerio to Dino and Charlotte.
next stop Jimboomba... Animal rescue, baby chickens, christmas play, outback experience, christmas day, cane toad catching and avatar.
It was sooo nice to see Carmen again, she's such a lovely lady I could have stayed there forever. It was also really nice to unpack my rucksack into a real wardrobe.
Carmen has 3 dogs, 3 cats, 2 goats, loads of chickens a husband and a son. They live on a big piece of land in Jimboomba which is like farm country,some people laughed when I said I was going there but two fingers to them, I loved it. You have to drive about 15 mins to get to the nearest shop, it's so quiet and reminded me of when I grew up at Marfield. I even had a chicken named after me as when it was born it was all blonde.. aaaah very cute. She's doing very well so I hear, hoping for a photo update soon.. nudge nudge... I hadn't seen Carmens son Sam since he was about 9, he's now 17 and very tall and very talented on the guitar. I'd met her husband Hugh a couple of times I think but not really to chat to, he's really kind and lovely, I felt totally at home. Poor Hugh tho, one night I was doing the dishes while he was putting some fruit and icecream in a bowl. The draining board thing fell over and made Hugh jump so much he threw raspberries up in the air and all over the floor, was hilarious, I thought Carmen and I were going to burst with laughter. I was banned from doing any christmas day dishes after that one.
As I was saying before, I was throwing the ball for Roy. He's a collie dog and the ball is his favourite thing in the whole world. All he wants to do, all he is interested in, is running for the ball, I love him. I did a lot of singstar with carmen in my 2 weeks, was brilliant, esp after santa bought her the motown disc yay!! Bit disappointed that the rock disc wouldn't work tho, was dying to sing a country love tune, she's ace. We also played band hero which was loads of fun. I helped cook the Christmas breakfast and dinner and generally had a fabulous time. For Christmas Carmen got me a ticket to the Australian Outback Experience. It was brilliant. You get a 3 course meal, a cowboy hat and a show. Mum, you would have loved it, all the horses and tricks and games. I really enjoyed it, thanks again Carmen. They even have a helicopter in the show that floats along the ceiling. It was ace yeeeehaaaa!! ride em cowboy. I also really enjoyed the kids christmas play 'when santa got stuck up the chimney' Carmen works at a pre school so she took me along and I helped set everything up then sat back and watched. It was brilliant, the kids are so cute and when it came time to pull santa out of the chimney they actually did. He's supposed to come out the side of the chimney but they wouldn't let go so he had to slither off the chair and out the wee hole at the bottom of the cloth lumb. It was class!! Afterwards a little girl told me all about the fat guinea pig they have while we tidied up the chairs. Carmen put so much time and effort into the costumes and props but didn't even get a thank you at the end, miserable gits.
Next day we went to the natural history museum in Brisbane and pretended to be bats in this weird contraption and listened to the sounds of frogs which was hilarious. It might come across as a 'had to be there' moment but it was class, we were looking at fake frogs in a case. When you pressed the buttons each frog lit up individually and the noise of that frog came out of the speaker. The last button was pushed and the frog lit up then a man started talking, he said this frog is extinct but may have sounded a bit like this... eeep eeep eeep... I thought I was going to wet myself. When we were on the bus to Brisbane I noticed a sign that said if you spat anywhere on the bus they''d take a DNA sample, identify the culprit and track you down, after that, I'm not sure what happens.. anyway, thought it was pretty mad and wondered how it would go down in SE Asia where the local past time is to phlegm and hack and spit anywhere, anytime. After the museum we went to a place called Logan for the carol singing and a massive bag of chips with chicken salt on them. That stuff is amazing, chips aren't chips without chicken salt. I swear that must be why people crave KFC fortnightly, it's the chicken salt. Wish I'd bought some to bring home now. I'm sure you can prob get it in sainsburys but would it be the same? Anyone in Oz reading this should immediately put some in a jiffi back for me. Anyhooo the carol singing was really good. Carmen and I wore santa hats and I clapped with glee as Santa arrived in a helicopter then got on a fire engine and waved at everyone as he did a circuit of the playing field we were all in.
Some people really do go all out with the christmas lights. Some of the garden efforts were truly amazing so we followed a sort of tour bus and went to see a few. I'd hate to think what the leccy bill was for some of them.
On the 19th December 2009 a baby chicken was born and named after me cos it was fluffy and blonde bless her. Did I say that already? I've not even had a drink. I went into the run to see baby GG and got covered in wee mite things that bite, I should have known better being that I used to have chickens when I was a child so had a shower and went off to the animal rescue place to play/walk puppies. It's a really nice shelter, they have lots of room outside to walk the dogs round and it's great to see when they a new home. Hugh has been a volunteer for a while now, I think I'd have a hard job not getting too attached. Like the wee puppies, how cute are they?? they always get homes, it's the bigger dogs I feel sorry for bless them. I must have a look on the website and see if any of the dogs I walked are still there.
This blog is a whopper, are you all still with me? Got another 8 pages of written journal to get through, I'll try and condense it a bit...
So, We all went to Lone Pine which is where you can get a photo taken with a Koala and where you can feed Kangeroos among other things.. The first koala didn't like the look of me and tried everything to get away from me so they brought in another but the photo didn't come out so I had to have another one taken. Got my money's worth there. Wonder if the Pope or Marilyn Manson had the same problem? Did you know that Koala's can jump? I can't jump that high but a Koala can jump from branch to branch if he can see food on it's way!! They're super cute. It rained really heavily that day. We went to see the sheep dog show, poor dogs were soaked and hiding in a hollow tree stump. They couldn't show us the sheep shearing show cos of the rain but lets face, I've seen plenty of that in my time and have even been paid in the past to roll up fleeces after first clipping the poo off the stinky end - nice. So we get home and go over to the neighbours house to check on the pet fish and budgie only to find disaster had struck under our watch and the budgie had fallen off it's perch and died, I think it died before it fell. I tried to take it out of the cage so we could bury him but his beak got caught on the bars at the bottom, it was all very traumatic. Sorry if you're reading this Deanna. I got him unhooked and we put him in the garden all the while I kept thinking of the monty python sketch with the dead parrot... poor thing
Australian people are a bit obsessed with not going out in the sun, esp in the likes of Queensland where a lot of people get skin cancer. They have signs and adverts that say 'there's nothing healthy about a tan' yet they sell packets of 25 cigarettes and even do deals on them in the 7/11 if you buy 2 packets... There's since been a thing on the news saying that you can over do the whole slip slap slop or whatever it is and get a vitamin D deficiency which isn't healthy either. I dunno, I like having a tan and I don;t care what the add says, people do look healthier with a tan. Don't tell me you've never said to a mate who's just back from their holidays 'Oh you look so healthy' and it's not just cos you don't want to say they're fatter than when they went away...
I saw Avatar and The Lovely Bones at the cinema which were both brilliant in different ways. Avatar was my first ever 3D experience, loved it. I got taken to a place called Sizzler after the cinema which now has CCTV round the salad counter since a woman was caught sprinkling rat poison over the lettuce and such like. Food was lovely.
Christmas was ace. I even got a tube of jelly tots just like at home. A parcel from my granny and one from my parents arrived on christmas eve which was great. I helped Carmen cook the massive lush breakfast we had with Hugh's family then helped again with the dinner later with their neighbours and a girl from the animal rescue place. We then played a music game called buzz which Hugh is a master of and watched the cats rip the tail off a gecko then play with both halves of still moving lizard till it was dead and eaten behind the sofa. Not very festive but cats will be cats.
I don't know how but I totally forgot I went to sea world. It rained like a burst water main again but when you're on flume rides getting wet anyway, what does it matter? The dolphin show was wicked, they didn't have a killer whale so all the trainers were quite safe. Why do they always pick kids to go up to the front and pet the dolphins? I had my hand up too!! it's not fair (stamp stamp) The pirate show was a bit lame but still entertaining, the chocolate dipped strawberries on the other hand were delish. Have you ever touched a sea cucumber? no? well they're weird, kind of slimy and squidgy and hairy all at once, almost warm too.. very odd. They had a tank full of sealife you could touch like rays and starfish etc. I don't suppose they really like being poked.
It's safe to say that I had a wicked time with Carmen in Jimboomba and I'll be back again soon, I promise. She dropped me off with Angela and Kate on the last day if the year where I put on my sparkly dress and high heels and off we went to a New Years Pool Party. I forgot my bikini so went swimming in my dress, I'm all class me.
Next stop Cairns...