A Travellerspoint blog

Australia Part II

Cairns, Melbourne, The Great Ocean Road, Adelaide and back to Sydney

sunny 34 °C

hello again and sorry I'm a month or two behind... this is a whopper so go put the kettle on...

well, where do I start? I snorkelled the great barrier reef, danced on tables, drank fabulous wine and ate amazing food, found a wombat in the tent, got the mumps, saw more views than you could shake a stick at, flew in a helicopter, escaped from a meditation course, cuddled bats, went to two music festivals, played buzz and hungry frog like a maniac, jumped into a bay from the pier, got caught in the jaws of a shark, got my hair cut and best of all, met fabulous people...

Ok, so I flew to Cairns and booked into the Bellview Guesthouse which is right opposite the lagoon, a big pool thats free to use, bit like the one in Brisbane but not so oasis looking. The sea is right beside it but very mud flatish, would probably get stuck or perhaps eaten by a shark. Saw something in the water one day, loads of people were crowded round watching this thing moving in the water. More than likely it was a cat fish or something but I like to think it was nessy on her holidays...

The hostel was ok, the room I got was a bit nasty the first night but then I moved into a 4 bed dorm with wee kitchen and ensuite and even a fridge. The girls in the room were really nice and after I got back from Cape Tribulation the new girls in the room were even nicer. I got a bus up to Cape Tribulation which reeked of BO, the bus like, not the Cape, and settled into my hostel which meant making my own bed, being ignored by the weirdos in my room and paying for a box with kitchen stuff in it like bowl, plate, cutlery etc... people must have stolen these things in the past, why I don't know. Went on a river cruise up the Daintree River and saw one very small salty croc and a tiny wee nectar munching ginger bat. I love bats. There's a bat charity place down the road from the hostel which an old bloke runs. He had 2 baby bats in the shop. One of them was obsessed with me (snow white again) they love having their tummys tickled. We stopped at a rain forrest on the way up and saw a water lizard which our guide tried to pull off the tree by it's tail, when she let go of it, it got up on it's hind legs and ran away, quite right too. We had a chance to eat some green ants in the woods, I was still full from breakfast so couldn't possibly have fitted one in, they taste of lime apparently, even if you just lick them... They must like being licked cos they run about with their bums in the air I imagine saying 'pick me, pick me' if our hearing was good enough to hear them. I wanted to go to the fruit farm but it was closed the days I was there so just mooched about the woods, cuddled the bats again and swam about in the hostel pool. As beautiful as cape trib is, it's also a bit boring, not much to do really unless you can afford to do all the tours which are very expensive. Also I wasn't told I'd need shoes that covered my toes or trousers for the night walks. The stars are amazing up there tho, it's so dark at night they sparkle like diamonds in the sky. Went out on our last day with the new and much nicer people from my room to the look out but took the wrong turning and ended up at the beach. Very nice beach but you can't swim in the water or lie on the beach cos of all the crocs that live there, not that I saw any. On the way back to Cairns we were taken to Alexandria lookout.. nice view, back in the bus and across the daintree river to the Mossman Gorge which was baltic. Did you know that rats wee on sugarcane plants can give you a disease thats eats fat and muscle? You can die from it if you waste away but there is a cure. I wouldn't mind it for a week or two... Anyway, Mossman Gorge is amazing, the water is so clear and crisp and bleedin freezing. It's full of massive rocks and boulders and has a waterfall at one end which you can slide down if you're crazy enough to get in the water in the first place. Strictly toe dipping for me, wasn't too keen after the warnings of injury and death. Next stop was Port Douglas. We only had 40 mins there which was such a shame cos it's gorgeous, I could have stayed there a couple of days for sure. Checked into Rehab there who say they have the best coffee around and I'd agree with that, was lush. I even had a GF sponge thing to go with it. Got back to Cairns in the lashing rain and went to woolies for supplies to find it shut at 6pm on a saturday?? hello like So ended up in the Woolshed with my new room mates Bernadette the austrian, sally from malibu and vandana from new dehli. Cheap food and drinks, dancing on tables and general hilarity ensued, "I don't wanna be friends, I don't want to friends I DON'T WANT TO BE FRIENDS".
On my last day in Cairns I went out on a boat to a reef and snorkelled. Yep, I got in the sea and put my head under and snorkelled. It was amazing, totally and utterly amazing, I loved it!! On the way out to the reef the water was a bit rough. I have never seen so many people puking in one place in my whole life. I went downstairs to the loo and saw a bloke hanging onto the side of the boat looking rather green holding a cup of ice in one hand and a sick bag in the other. I'm not sure he was enjoying my company as I hung onto the side whooping and swaying shouting this is ace!! wooohoooo!!! as the boat lurched up and down in the waves hahaha poor bloke. I was very scared when my beginners class got cancelled and I was taken out on the aventure tour with the people that can swim but the woman taking us had a big rubber ring on a rope with her which I clung to like a limpet. At first I couldn't put my face in the water but once I did I didn't care that water was going in my ears and over my head, the sight of the reef under me was truely magical. Totally loved it. I found nemo!! I saw amazing colours and sizes of fish and coral. The woman dragging me about got stung by a jellyfish bless her. I went out twice more with the green faced bloke from earlier without clinging onto a ring and felt very proud of myself. You have to spit in your mask then wash it out before you put it on to stop it from fogging up. Yuck. The ring woman did mine for me... pretty minging having someone elses spit in your mask when you think about it. Back to shore after some lush food and had a drink or 2 with Maureen a woman I met on the boat then off to the woolshed again for another night of dancing. We met up with some american blokes who took me to the crystal caves the next day and numerous waterfalls. I have to say, they were nice lads but boring... OMG I couldn't wait for the day to end. Sally took me and vandana out for the night with her christmas present from her parents, how nice is that. Went to a gorgeous resturant, I hadn't had a meal like that in ages and almost forgot how to use cutlery properly. After that we went to the irish bar where they had jelly and mud fights going on then to the woolshed again. I should have known better than to do shots being that I had to get on a flight the next day but it was too late by then. Great last night. Got in at 4am and got up at 7am to do my washing between runs to the loo then got on a bus feeling like death warmed up and then on a plane to Melbourne. never good to be hung over on a flight...

I landed in Melbourne after the slowest decent ever. Having caught a cold along the way and also being hung over, my ears were really hurting, esp the left one. Met Jess at the pickup point and she took me to her mate Lara’s, quick change and off to the Elephant and Wheelbarrow in St Kilda to meet up with some other people she’d met travelling. There was a quiz on which I think our table came second in or did we win? I can’t remember. Anyway we had Helen, Laura, Helens cousin and her boyfriend, Sam then later on a girl called Kate turned up. All in all a lovely crowd. I had some rubbish so called stirfry which was dripping in oil and wasn’t too good but I was starving so ate it.. Had 1 drink I think and felt sick, not good at drinking and travelling and meeting new people all within an hour plus I probably ate something naughty on the plane…nothing to do with being hung over from the night before or anything... Anyway we went off to the ESPY place and watched some bands, loud and rocky and I really liked it there. From there to Cushion which I think is more for the younger orange skinned crowd. They played drum and bass stuff which all sounded like the same tune although the DJ seemed to be enjoying himself.. Chatted to Sam for a while, he told me he was like a chef and a musician. I very rudely asked him he was like a chef or actually a chef. Sarcasm being something deep rooted in my blood. Thankfully he gets sarcasm unlike a lot of Australians.. I drove Helen and Sam back to his flat then took me and Jess back to Lara’s. The next day Jess and I picked up Helen and we all went to Spoonfuls where Sam work’s in his, like, chef job. Food was lush. Jess took me down to Torquay for factory outlet mooching and we stayed at her parents house.
Next day was the Hot BBQ in Portsea. I loved it, the weather was great and the music more so even tho I hadn't heard of any of the acts. Favs included Bertie Blackmore, Sneaky Sound System, The presets and grand master flash who was hilarious "scream if you've been waiting for grand master flash" to which I shouted back "I don't know who you are!" We slept in tents in the garden of local shop owners who were away for the weekend, didn't get much sleep but what do you expect really...? Jess then went off to Byron Bay and I moved onto Sam's sofa in South Yarra for 3 nights. Lay about in the botanical gardens reading my book, went to the art museum which was shut, did a bit of window shopping but couldn't find any windows I liked so bought some trainers. Also went to the museum of moving images in Fed Square which was brilliant. It has lots of buttons to push and stuff, loved it esp the strobe room. I then went for sushi and accidentally fell into the Lindt Chocolate shop and walked out with a large dark hot chocolate drink and coconut macaroon for dipping, was totally fabulous. Saw some bagpipe players which would bring a tear to a scottish glass eye. One guy was playing a set he'd made himself out of the silver inside of a box of wine, very clever.
Said cheerio to Sam and got on a bus to Adeliade along the great ocean road. I had a bit of trouble finding my way to where the bus was picking me up what with stupid taxi drivers not knowing where they're going then the second taxi driver got all upset when I told him what had happend with the first one, it was quite amusing really 'why?? why do they do this? you are a tourist, why? why??' he said in his thick moroccan accent as he banged the stearing wheel and cursed all indian taxi drivers warning me to look before I get in next time and not to trust them...
The trip along the great ocean road was class, the driver was late and looked like a stereotypical australian man, small shorts, boots, wife beater and hat. All he needed was a small tin of beer and a large knife in his pocket to finish it off. He lost 5 of the people we were to pick up and I got a phone call from the organiser asking who was on the bus already before we found the missing girls. The tour was good although rather expensive being that we hads to make our own beds, wash dishes, go shopping for dinner and walk back from some caves cos the woman driver from the hostel couldn't be bothered to pick us up again. She also didn't give us the cheesecake we were promised cos we didn't help her with the dishes, not that I can eat cheesecake but still. I paid 350 dollars for 2 nights and 3 days of tour, I don't expect to be harrased by a drunken kenyan man, have to protect the young swiss girls from tequila swilling english potato pickers, wash dishes and shower in a midden. Apart from all that tho, the tour was great. The Great Ocean Road is pretty fab, I had a spin in a helicopter over the 12 apostles of which there are only 8 left and have never actually been twelve... The helicopter staff and pilots were all dashingly handsome which was nice.
Our first stop was by a cafe, I went in and bought the biggest bag of torilla chips in the world and when I got out again everyone had gone. When I found them they were all stood under some trees with their hand out like they were checking for rain. What they were actually doing was enticing birds to come and munch the seeds in their hand. No birds appeared they just mocked us from the tree tops. This is the first time they've not come down our guide says... yeah right. The first hostel we stayed in was great, it was in a place called Woollenbloenblobinblah... can't remember. It was big and comfy and clean and great. I beat the lads at darts and me and the teenage boy on the bus taught the others the travellers game of shit head.
Our driver guide bloke got up late so I sorted out everyones breakfast like the old mother hen of the bus and off we went again. We had to climb up a hill, I wasn't too keen but went anyway and actually quite enjoyed it, it was just so hot, sweating like a pig in labour. On the way to the next hostel the wind got up and bits of gum tree started flying across the road, was mad. We even had to stop at one point and move some branches. Our next hostel was horrible. Most of us were put in the converted shed. I ate kangeroo that night, very nice indeed. No pudding tho as I said before the big fat miserable owner was miffed at us not helping with the dishes which she must have mentioned at least a hundred times. She also went on about me being Gluten and Dairy free and that she'd bought special things for me which she wouldn't have done normally like I should have bowed at her feet and bought her a medal or something. The drunken Kenyan bloke was a right nuisance and scared some of the young girls so much so a korean bloke also living there wanted to fight him. Was like living in a council estate. On our last day before hitting Adelaide we went to a vineyard as a treat and also to a cave. It was really cool, lot of dinosaur bones and stuff. The time difference between Victoria and south australia is 30 mins... thats half an hour... bit mad isn't it, I thought the driver was making it up but no, it's true. Next stop Adeliade.

Jim came to pick me up from the bus station and we went to get his brother from the airport. We all had a right laugh. Wine drinking and playing buzz followed by a tour of winerys where I wish I'd bought that bottle of dessert wine, it was lush!! Milkshakes in a train carraige, fast and furious hungry frog games and a fabulous roast dinner cooked by Jim himself. On my last day we went to a lovely seafood place by the beach and watched for dolphins in the water, I had my photo taken in the mouth of a great white shark and we messed about on the beach, so much fun, they're a great family. I got an email while I was there telling me I'd been accepted into the Vipassana course I had applied for. Very happy abotu that at the time, more about what it was like later... I then flew back to Melbourne and got picked up by Jess again and whisked off to a burns supper in my tartan leggings. There were only 2 scottish people at the supper, me being one of them. The hosts had even made their own haggis - pretty impressive. We watched the Tattoo on a big screen, drank whiskey and recited burns poetry before doing the drops of brandy in the back yard - top night. Next day was Australia Day, Jess had a ticket for the Big Day Out so I spent the day with Sam drinking wine, sunbathing and swimming in the city pool, decorating roulades, drinking more wine, playing pool and doing shots in a pub then ended the night with a bottle of wine and a box of fireworks in the park before I squeezed my way through a hooped bar thing and down the slide in my high heels. One of the fireworks was like the box in hellraiser, very funny and fabulous day indeed. The next morning I had to get up very early and drove with Jess to the meditation centre in Woori Yallock which was about an hour away. We got there just before 7am, it started at 7:30. I didn;t see anyone about so when a car drove by I stopped the bloke and asked him where to register to which he replied, you're 12 hours early, it doesn't start till 7:30pm!!! OMG!! What an idiot. Hungover, tired and hungry Jess and I laughed our way into McDonalds where I bought her breakfast for getting up so early to drive to all the way there and all the way back to Melbourne again... eeegit that I am. As it turns out I was so excited about being accepted I didn't read the whole email so missed the times and what I needed to take with me. I ended up getting a train and a bus back later equiped this time with a sleeping bag and other bits and bobs I hadn't had with me the first time. Met 3 other girls on the bus who were also going. One was a really happy cheery person who I ended up feeling sorry for cos by the time I left she looked miserable bless her. Another woman had the hairiest pits I've even seen and was obviously well into the whole thing. The other one who ended up being my roommate looked exactly like Inma Cobos that I used to work with at Fid Man... weird. She'd done a similar course in Thailand and was well into it. The long and short of the story is I hated it. When I told my Dad I was going he went into folded arm defensive mode and said only village idiots did that, people that had something wrong with them, for gods sake, bloody mumbo jumbo etc... end of conversation. How he laughed when I told him I'd escaped. I went in on Wed afternoon and chatted to some of the other women there which looking back shouldn't be allowed cos there you are forging friendshops and stuff then bang, it's 7:30pm and you're no longer allowed to talk to anyone, raise an eyebrow or give any kind of reaction to anything. It's pretty hard, esp when you're sat in the dining room eating your brown rice and veg and staring outside if you're lucky enough to be at the window. It was driving me insane listening to everyone chew their food. I know we all make chewy slurpy noises but when the whole room is in silence it's way worse. I got up at 4am the next day and fell back asleep till 6:30 even tho I was meant to be meditating, I didn't hear the gong. Breakfast at 6:30 then meditation then rest then more of the same till lunchtime then more meditiation then an apple for dinner and more meditiation in the hall. We had to sit crossed legged but for the first few days you can move about cos it's quite uncomfortable. You just sit there and think about the air going in and out of your nostrils trying not to think about what might be going on in the local pub or if someone had been stabbed with a pitch fork in Eastenders. We watched a DVD about how we should all be feeling which just made me want to leave more. During the rest periods you can walk but thats it. No excercise, no reading, no writing, no meditating outside incase the wind messes with the breath on your top lip. I walked round in a circle round a well worn track in the ground. Tried a shower but it was baltic so gave up. We were all in bed by 9:30 and up again at 4am. I thought ok, I'll give it a try again so started to meditate in my room. I heard someone coming up the steps so lay down and pretended I was alseep then this dark figure leaned over me as I opened my eyes, put it's hands on my shoulders and shook me!! I was petrified, I couldn't shut my eyes again. There was nothing there, it was proper spooky and that was it, I'm off. I waited till after breakfast to speak to the female leader type person and told her I wanted to leave. She tried to talk me out of it then took me to the teacher. I told him it really wasn't for me and that I didn't need it to realise that I'm a happy person who enjoys life. I then told him that if he didn't let me leave I would stab myself. So he said ok, butdon't pack or anything till everyone is in the hall at 8am, no problem I said even tho I'd already packed. I had a cup of tea, retrived my valuables which were in a bag and included my wallet, mobile and strawberry chupa chup lolly, got in the taxi and sped off feeling relieved that I didn;t have to endure any more time there. So, arrived on wed and left on Friday. Glad I went but glad I left too. 10 days of silence is sooooo not for me. I headed back to Melbourne looking like the littlest hobo and sat on swanson street people watching and listening to a legally blind man in a mobility chair wired for sound singing country songs as he drove up and down the street. Jess was in Wooga Wooga by now so I called Sam and stayed at his again. I arrived looking greasy, shell shocked and homeless. Even the Big Issue sellers on the street just winked at me instead of asking if I wanted to buy one. A shower and a glass of wine later I was feeling grand again. I got some bad news from my Mum the day after and wondered if the thing that shook me had anything to do with it as I wouldnt have been able to talk to my mum while in the retreat... you never know...
Jess came back and we went off camping in Wilson Prom on the coast for 2 nights, was a great laugh. I had a sore face but thought it was from smiling too much so didn't think anything of it till later. We saw 3 of the most poisonous snakes in Australia, a red back spider and one night even had a wombat in the tent!! We also saw kangeroos and wallabys in the wild. We drove for about 3 or 4 hours and pitched the tent. Lesson there is to pitch a tent on grass and not sand... it was very windy at night and by the morning the inside of the tent looked like a scene from Pompay... The second night was worse tho and we ended up sleeping in the car after breaking into it through the wee back window after Jess locked the keys in the boot... We BBQ'd and went to squeaky beach which actually squeaks when you run through it, and watched the sun set while taking silly photos of us doing cartwheels and jumping. I can't jump very high which was of great amusement to Jess. That night I got up at about 4am for a wee. I zipped up the inside of the tent but left the outside bit open. When I came back there was a great big wombat in the tent!! He looked like a hamster on steroids and freaked out when he saw me and ran away into the bushes. I thought I was going to wet myself with the laughter. Woke up with serious face ache and swollen glads that looked like I was hiding food. I tried to eat a bit of meat but couldn't even chew so Jess took me to a doctor in the nearest town laughing all the way about me having glandular fever or the mumps. It could hardly be the mumps could it? yes it could. Great, serious pain killers and no solid food till I felt better. The mumps?? I mean isn't that for kids? anyway 50 dollars lighter, instructions not toshare a bottle, kiss or sneeze on anyone with low immunity for a few days and still with a swollen face we stayed another night, not in the tent tho. I swear I didn;t touch Jess but she caught the mumps off me bless her. The wind was blowing a gale and so much sand was coming into the tent we decided to sleep in the car except Jess had locked the keys in the boot. Midnight with a torch fast running out of battery cos of playing cards and taking more silly pictures and a snake on our patch we tried to break into the car. Eventually a couple we met earlier helped and we got the wee window at the back of the car out, opened the back door and got the keys out of the boot. Great nights sleep.. yeah right. The next morning we dismantled the tent, shook the ten tons out sand out of it, I resuced a stick insect and we headed back to Melbourne. Went shopping in the uber cool brunswick street hunting for bargains in the 'op shops' found one or two great items then it started to rain, in no time the street was ankle deep in water so we ran into a coffee shop and watched people chasing flip flops down the street. We then moved into Jess's mate Coleens and stayed on her sofa for a few nights being woken up every morning by the next door neighbour practising piano scales at 8:45 on the dot. I love the piano and as a child I loved listening to my Mum play one tune in particular but scales do begin to grate after a while. One morning her claranet playing friend came over, it was wicked!!
That weekend we went to a place called 'Oktobar' to watch some bands including one Sam was playing in. It was good fun and Jess got quite drunk, I drove us home via burger king then via the wrong side of the tram tracks. If it had of been during the day I reckon there might have been a call of 'help help, there's been a terrible accident' if you've ever watched Chewing the Fat you'll know what I'm on about. Anyhoo, on valentines day the St Kilda festival was on. It was such a hot day and I loved it!! Loads going on, even an arrest like something you'd see on the telly, loads of coppers, pepper spray and a man shouting gerroffmeyabigalaaa I added the big gala bit, he didn;t actually say that but I wished he had of. The bands were brilliant esp The Mess Hall and The Bamboos. Leaving Melbourne in 4 days, loved the city, apart from Edinburgh, Melbourne has to be my favorite city so far, it has it all, it even has my old friend from school Jeni Hay, now Seaton. Was great to meet up with her, bit weird at first to see her in the flesh but we waffled on for ages, can't beleive it's been about 14 years since I saw her, mad.
Sam took me to a place called Sorrento where he grew up and made me jump into the bay from the pier. I mean you know me, I hate deep water and the fact that I snorkelled the great barrier reef was a major achievment but jumping into the bay was really hard. I was even being heckled by a man pushing another man in a wheel chair. They actually stopped to watch shouting 'come on you chicken!! Jump!!' I wanted to shout back 'thats what you said before he was in a wheelchair!' but stopped myself and jumped. I can't say it was my favorite thing to do but at least I did it. He also took me up Arthurs Seat. The view was great. Isn't it mad that there are so many place names here that match over there. Well, when you think about it I suppose the first lot of people over there were from here so... ah you know.
Next stop Sydney...
Jess took me to the airport and I bought us dinner. I also bought a GF carrotcake to eat on the plane which I forgot about until I got to Sydney and found it has exploded all over the inside of my handbag... nice, icing everywhere. I made it to Rob's house (the brother of Jim in Adelaide) had a cup of tea and went to bed. Got my hair cut the next day using a voucher I got the first time I was in Sydney. The woman said I had gorgeous natural blonde hair that didn't need much done to it so she gave me half a head of underneath peroxide strips.. sorry highlights which I hate and chopped about 6 inches or more off it. It looked nice when she'd finished with it but I felt totally bald. I think she only took so much off cos she was very short and couldn't reach without me kneeling on the floor. It's better now but I do miss my long locks. Ah well, was time for a change I suppose. On the way to the hairdresser I was standing by the side of the tube and would you beleive my friend Pat that I haven't seen for about 7 years sinbce he left Gibraltar saunters up beside me. Of all the places in the world to meet. I wished I had of been staying longer to meet up with him again but alas I had to fly to NZ the next day. Rob took me out for an amazing dinner at the Rocks which we got to on the harbour ferry thing, was ace!!
Next stop New Zealand....

Posted by blondesock 15:02 Archived in Australia

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