Archive for October, 2003

Wednesday, October 29th, 2003

I am now in Parachilna, population 5, which is in the flinders ranges, a mountain range. I am on a tour up to alice springs and there are currently 4 people on the tour although we will be picking up 3 more.

This place is what I would associate with the outback, there being nothing much here apart from flies. The main source of business is a hotel which has a restaurant serving all sorts of things like kangaroo, emu and camel. It used to be a lot bigger when the railway line went through it, like a lot of other places in this area.

Once again I am not sure about where I want to go - I almost considered scrapping Cairns altogether as it is a bugger to get to from alice springs. Instead I may take an overland tour there from alice, which takes 3 days and is cheaper than flying (which goes via sydney). I don’t think I want to go to anyware else on the east coast, which will leave me with a redundant oz experience pass. Maybe I will be able to convert it to credit to use on something else.

Tuesday, October 28th, 2003

I have just got back from a trip to Kangaroo Island, an island off the south coast renowned for it’s nature. I hadn’t originally planned to go there but it was neccessary as all the rooms in all the hostels in Adelaide were full of irish backpackers here for the rugby. The irish are all off to Melbourn now, so it is a bit quieter.

That said, the tour was brilliant. It was done through Daniel’s Tours, who are a small operator consisting of Daniel, who owns a farm on the island, and possibly one of his mates. Daniel knows the area really well, as he is a local, and he is also quite eccentric, which makes for an interesting time. He also had good taste in music and films.

We arrived quite late on saturday night, having got a bus and ferry from adelaide. By that time I had met four other people on the trip - Imbar from Israel, who was staying in my hostel, two english girls called Catherine and a swedish guy called Marcus. We then met two german girls, Jana and Monica, and found Daniel, who had forgotten the cookies. By the way, it was absoulutely freezing (by australian standards) with a cold wind blowing from antarctica, and I had only brought one jumper.

We had a dinner of kangaroo (lovely) and home made bread, then went nature spotting - it is good at night as koalas only do anything at night, and spend the rest of the time sleeping - up to 20 hours.

Next day was a 9km walk from inland to the sea, and we only got lost once when Daniel wasn’t there (he took his land cruiser to the end of the walk and met us in the middle). We saw an echidna, and had to wait around for ages perfectly still until it took it’s nose out of the ground and walked off. Echidnas feel vibration through their feet, and can feel the ants moving underground.

In the afternoon we went to seal bay, and spent a long time sitting on the beach watching the sea lions, which had come back from 3 days out at sea and were resting. We then went sandboarding, which I was not very good at and kept landing on my arse as I did not lean forward enough. Luckily the sand was nice and soft so it didn’t hurt. This was done in what is called Little Sahara, a very random bit of desert in the south of the island. In the evening we went off to look at penguines, which were very cute but I couldn’t get any pictures as they don’t like the flashes. We then went back and watched Trainspotting.

Final day we got up early and went to the Remarkable Rocks, a name which reminds me of the Very Dark Caves from Father Ted. I keep thinking that there is another place called Quite Interesting Rocks also on the island. Anyway the Remarkable Rocks are rocks that have been weathered by the wind and water from the sea into all sorts of strange shapes - I will put photos up soon.

For lunch we had crayfish which had been caught in the river on Daniel’s farm. It was the first time I had seen my food in it’s alive state, and it was a bit disturbing to see the crayfish being dropped into boiling water but I am assured that they die quickly (as you would if you were dropped into boiling water).

In the afternoon we saw new zeland fur seals, and Admiral’s Arch. The fur seals live on rocks rather than on the beach. It was very cold, especially later in the afternoon as the wind had picked up overnight. We got the ferry and the bus home and arrived at 10ish.

Therefore: Daniels Tours good, others bad (according to him). The tour was also the cheapest one. He can be contacted on 1800 454 454. /plug

Tuesday, October 28th, 2003

Had a fairly crap night in the hostel, loads of twats banging about upstairs then people coming getting back at 2 in the morning and then someone snoring really loudly. Advantages and disadvantages of the hostel (alelaide city backpackers or annie’s place) are as follows:

+ Staff really friendly and know your name
+ Dinner and wine for $5
+ Cool converted victorian house with original features
+ Very sociable

- Large dorms of around 10, so noisy
- Toilets and bathrooms are a bit crap

Thursday, October 23rd, 2003

Day 4

Still at Gunlom falls, this time we went to the lower pool, which was used in crocodile dundee. We also had another swim in the upper pool.

We then set off towards Katherine, leaving the Kakadu national park behind. The vegetation is getting more sparse and it is getting hotter, but also much drier. We came across a solar car on the roads - they had started that day. I think the team was formula sun.

We went to Edith falls, which were nice, but there were a lot of people in the bottom pool which spoiled it a bit. We walked up to the top pools, which were really pretty.

Camp was near Katherine. John, the Danish guy, made a fire which we sat around, but I ended up going to bed early as I was knackered.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2003

Day 5

Today canoeing in Katherine gorge, amazingly pretty. We arrived at 8, and had 4 hours of canoeing. It was lucky we arrived early as we got all the canoeing done before the sun got too hot. We saw a snapping turtle, which came really close to the canoes, which was really cool. We also saw bats in the caves.

We had a BBQ lunch - it seems typically australian to have public BBQs. We then went on to the Katherine hot springs, or luke-warm springs as someone described them. Nuff said.

We camped in Adeleide River, which is actually further north towards Darwin. Dinner was Barramundi and Chips in the Adeleide River pub- Barramundi is a game fish found in this area, but it just tastes like cod. Discussed beer with Luke and his mate - everyone here thinks fosters is horrible, but it is famous as it was the only thing around for a while. The making of XXXX supposedly involves a row of cats pissing into the cans, and it is said that the four Xs blank out a four letter swear word. Good beers include Cascade from Tasmania and Coopers from South Australia. Another thing they drink out here is whisky and coke, which can be bought in cans. Luke was surprised that we do not have that sort of thing in England as it is fairly ubiquitous here.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2003

Day 6

Lots of waterfalls in Litchfield national park. Litchfield seems hillier than Kakadu, and several of the falls we approached from above. There were lots of people swimming in the falls, so I preferre the ones in Kakadu, but they were pretty nonetheless.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2003

In Darwin, or at least I was on the 21st. Have got back from a 6 day tour of the top end, which was really brilliant, and am flying to Adelaide tomorrow.

This evening I was walking down the street and I saw a couple looking into a tree. It turns out they were feeding possums, who were living there. They gave me some bread so I could feed them as well, although bread is probably bad for possums. They were really cute, grabbing the bread with their mouths then sitting on their hind legs and holding the bread with their hands while they ate it, kind-of like giant squirrels. They didn’t mind being stroked either.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2003

Flight to Adelaide, I had a window seat so I got an amazing view of the centre of Australia as we flew over it. Adelaide is refreshingly cool compared to the hot and humid north.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2003

I have been exploring Adelaide, and it is really brilliant. I only have a room until saturday as the hostel is filling up with irish people going to the rugby world cup, so I will have to find something else to do.

I caught up with the world solar challenge, three cars have finished so far - Nuon, who won, Aurora 101, and MIT. I talked with a guy from the Aurora team, who was really friendly and told me a lot about the car. The guy from MIT was less friendly.

In the afternoon I explored the city. The center is laid out in a grid pattern and is a bit like London in that it seems to mix old stone buildings with modern tower things in a rather haphazard way. I spent a long time looking in the indoor market, which has loads of different foods, and lots of food stands - I had a thai noodle soup for lunch. They like their food here, there is about 1 restaurant for every 30 people.

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003

I have just got back from a 6 day safari in the tropical top end, hence there has been no update to the journal for the last week or so. I will put the different days in different entries so that the whole thing is not stupidly large.