Archive for Australia

28 Feb 2014

Post Holiday Post

5 Comments Australia

I never do these, but it has been a strange week.

Paul and Gillian are back. They are stooped over from carrying those heavy packs. And they have been telling me wonderful stories about Melbourne and Tasmania. About how you can be at the top of Mount Wellington in the middle of summer and be freezing. About how wonderful the food is over there. How in Melbourne they each got a tiny cold crunchy baby corn with a wafer thin slice of abalone on top and paid a small fortune for it. And they tell me I am soft in the head!

Gillian at the top of Mt Wellington


Hobart hooligans Paul and Mel

Then they told me about MONA (check it out the crazy but amazing and controversial art gallery in Hobart. About how they spent all day getting lost in its labrythine bowels. Literally, the thing shits itself. There is a giant waterfall that casades words in sheets of water; a room full of TV sets, more than 50 of them, each documenting the lives of some poor unfortunate Turks, each more depressing than the last. And there are these cute live larvae being supplied a diet of gold leaf, pearls, turquoise etc and they build their protective silk cocoons from these materials and create beautiful jewellery. All in the name of art. Art, huh, but what would I know! I never got invited.


All well for some. The magnificent MONA, but I have been sulking. And then finally Paul breaks it to me. A SURPRISE. I love surprises. My ears pricked up — they do that sometimes; it makes me look cute. Paul is taking me on a holiday to make up for forgetting to take me to Melbourne and Tasmania.

Yippee. Where?

I'll give you some clues Al. See if you can guess.

And then all week, the clues.

First I found him standing over the toilet bowl tearing up money, throwing it into the bowl and flushing it.

No idea.

The next day he was in the kitchen washing dishes, when he started tossing plates on the ground, smashing them and dancing all around them.

Nah, no idea. You should have seen the look on Gillian's face.

C'mon Al. I'll make it easy for you.

He leaves post-it notes all around the house.

Spanakopita; Mousaka; Ouzo.

I don't know. German, French maybe, double-Dutch, it's all Greek to me. I thought you said you would make it easy.

Paul is shaking his head. Then Gillian pitches in to help.

Come on Al.

And you know how she likes to be crafty. Well, we make this giant hollow paper-mâché horse. She said imagine it is wood. And we both climb inside and go and surprise the neighbours.

And I still have no idea.

Now they are both shaking their heads and looking at me in a funny way.

But I can be crafty too. When they are both sleeping, I sneak off and do some sleuthing of my own. I look in Paul's diary. There it is plain as day. An entry on the 17th March. A single word, HOLIDAY and below it a tiny doodle of a Shamrock. And in Gillian's diary. It is the same, a single entry on St Patrick's day. PEACE AND QUIET. AL AND PAUL LEAVE. YAY!!!! And another doodle of a Shamrock.

Well guys, finally I have outwitted you. This little leprechaun has got it all worked out.


20 Feb 2014

Phone Calls From Tasmania (aka Friends I Once Had)

5 Comments Australia


Can you believe it?

The bastards left me behind.

There I was packed and ready to go, saying goodbye to the ferns, when I heard the door click closed.

I yelled but there was no answer.

Then a few days later I get a phone call. The voice at the other end of the line is scratchy, faint, sheepish.

Al, is that you Al?

Who else would it be?

Al, its Paul. We're in Tasmania. The phone lines are really bad here. Sorry we couldn't call you earlier. We were up a mountain and we had no reception.

I could hear Gill in the background. Sorry Al, we forgot. We didn't mean to leave you behind. It's just you are so small.

Yeah, Al we're real sorry.


The phone starts ringing again. I pick it up.

Did you just hang up Al?

Nah, must be the lines. Tasmania you know.

I can hear Gill in the background again. She is talking to Mel and Gary. I don't think she knows I can hear her. It's nice without Al for a change. Just the two of us. Two's company, but three's a crowd, if you know what I mean.


The phone rings again.

Al, stop playing games.

I'm not.

You're sulking Al. I promise I'll make it up to you when I get back. We have had the most wonderful time. We spent three days hiking The Walls of Jerusalem. It was amazing. We carried everything in: tents, mattresses, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, casks of wine. We camped in the most incredible spots. My shoulders are sore.

No wonder, you bunch of turtles.

What's that Al? Can't hear you clearly.

Nuthin, just muttering to myself.

Seen any Tasmanian Tigers?

Nah, they're all dead Al, extinct.

Yeah, like you when you get back.

What's that Al? Can't hear you. But we saw Pademelons (small marsupials),Wombats, Currawongs and even an Echidna. Amazing.

What did you expect out there in the wild; Starship Enterprise?

What's that Al?



The phone rings.

Al. So what about you Al. What have you been up to?

A bit of painting.

Cool Al. Good to see you are still going through that Pollock phase. Make sure you put down a dropsheet. You know how Gill is about paint on her rugs.

Sure sure. Not Pollock though. More Rothko meets Mondrian. Tiger stripes. To remind you of Tasmania.

That's cool Al.

Say, where did you get the money to buy a canvas?

Canvas. Who said anything about canvas?

What do you mean Al? Paul sounded nervous. What have you done?

Um … So far, the kitchen and the dining room. Hope you like it. Oh, and tell Gill I didn't use a dropsheet.









28 Aug 2013

Something To Whale About

1 Comment Australia

Lucy and Mel rolling into Nullarbor Roadhouse - our turning point


Lucy had a 7.30am live breakfast interview with a South Australian radio station. We are getting used to being in the company of a celebrity, walking a couple of steps behind her. We made ourselves scarce, huddled in the Subaru and tuned in.

Off to the Head of the Bight — we have been hearing stories all week of the number of whales and calves currently in the Bight and we were not disappointed. The mothers make a sound, a deep groan, not unlike Paul on hearing it is his shout. The calves cling close by, tails waving, lolling about.

Like the whales, this is our turning point, where soon they head south, while we say we our goodbyes and head west for Perth. It has been a great journey full of laughter, chain grease, dust and flies. Thanks Lucy and Mel for a great experience. Lets up the ante next time — the Gobi, the Atacama … the Namib perhaps?



27 Aug 2013

The End Of The Road

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We have been on the road for what seems like forever and we have only just crossed from Western Australia into South Australia yesterday. Lucy and Mel are piling on the kilometres nicely. Everyone has been nice to them. We have categorised our fellow travellers (the truckees, the grey nomads, the motorists, motorcyclists etc) into two categories: the wavers and the w#^kers. Fortunately there have been more of the former than the latter. And those that pass the girls travelling in the same direction as us and then stop at the same roadhouse/rest stop/viewpoint as us have been full of encouragement, keen to tell a yarn and happy to donate. It is heartening.

$2.17 a litre ...

... and no free car wash

It is a nice way to travel, roughly 100 kilometres a day. You get to appreciate the sheer size of this country in a way that you can't when whizzing past at a 110 km/h. The Nullarbor landscape is constantly changing and exquisite. It is stark and harsh but at the same time it exudes beauty.
We have been alternating between roadhouse motels and bush camps. The bush camps are nothing more than dirt tracks off the side of the road. We stayed at camp dusty a couple of days ago and everything we own is now layered in a fine mist of brown. For once I don't think I would be too traumatised by the sight of Paul wielding a vacuum cleaner in my vicinity. Then last night, after crossing the border, we stayed at camp flyblown where we had tea with flies, erected tents with flies and then washed in a shallow blue bucket with flies. At dusk all the flies disappeared. And then at dawn, they were back with reinforcements to help us pack away.
Today we stopped at several viewpoints to take in the magnificent and steep Bunda Cliffs that look out across the Great Australian Bight. Tomorrow is sadly our last day before we turn around and head back and leave Lucy and Mel and Parky and Co to continue on without us. Parky is sad, I can tell. He has already adopted a few strange Aussie habits and after running alongside an emu yesterday, he has now taken to sticking his head in the sand. Cheer up Parky … maybe when you get to the end of the road you can turn around and head west.

Gillian looking forward to a hot shower and a shampoo after a night of bush camping

Eucla Telegraph Station losing its battle with nature



24 Aug 2013


4 Comments Australia

Lucy and Mel were excited at the prospect of a rest day. Eyre Bird Observatory (EBO) was the perfect choice, but there were a few logistical problems. The Observatory is 30kms down a dusty dirt road. The first 20kms are on corrugated limestone track; the remaining 10kms are on sand and strictly 4WD only. And our vehicle was fully laden. We needed to find a way to empty most of the camp equipment in the vehicle and two of the three bicycles.

Anywhere else in the world, this would be easy. The roadhouse back at Cocklebiddy would not store our gear. Our only option was to stash it all in the middle of the desert. Finding suitable trees (finding any trees) to hide the gear behind proved challenging and then there was the problem of finding said trees to retrieve our gear on our return. We found two separate spots a couple of kilometres apart and stashed everything like pirates burying treasure — X marks the spot.

EBO is located at the old 1897 Eyre Telegraph Station. It is an oasis in the middle of the sand dunes. Just us and the Great Australian Bight. It really is in the middle of nowhere. It is off the grid, with solar panels and a Rota-loo. Parky and I spent our days camped out on the verandah reminiscing while the rest of the gang went for long nature walks, laughed loudly, played cards raucously, ate voluminously and slept soundly.

It would have been the perfect day off if it wasn't for those pesky birds (Welcome Swallows, Plovers, Major Mitchell Cockatoos, Singing Honeyeaters, Kestrels, Sea Eagles and Wattlebirds) constantly flying in and threatening to turn us both into nests.

On the way out we saw Lucy and Mel off and then went on a treasure hunt. What fun!