Saturday, 9 June 2012

Life in the Tropics

So, it's been a while, again, since my last blog and as I am currently resting a twisted knee and hip (don't ask), I have no excuse for not updating you all on my last 3 months.  If you have been following my Facebook/Twitter updates you will know I am now in Airlie Beach, 512km and 6.5hrs south of my last post.  In the grand scheme of things, I haven't made it very far!

Mission Beach is where I left off, so it's where I shall begin.
I spent 9 weeks there, driving the courtesy bus by day for Absolute Backpackers and working in the restaurant at Mackays Motel by night.  The restaurant only had 6 tables so it was very easy work and most of the guests were long-term trade workers, so I spent most of the time socialising with the boys!  I did some gardening work for Mackays, until I was attacked by an angry colony of ants and spent a week with my legs in itching agony and my hands in my pockets!  I also managed 5 hellish shifts in a Thai kitchen, being shouted at in Thai, cleaning all the dishes by hand, but eating fabulous free food!
Only working for pay 3-4hrs a day, I found it hard to save much so activities were limited to the free stuff; lying by the pool/on the beach when the sun shone, bonfires on the beach at night, rainforest walks, hunting cassowaries and wallabies (not literally), swimming in creeks and jumping off waterfalls.

We were reliably informed there were no crocs in here!
Cassowary dad and chick

Being the rainforest, there was inevitably going to be some rain, and when it rains in the rainforest, it really rains!  We were flooded on several occassions, even having the bridge over the creek covered in fast flowing water.  Once the rains dried up, the bugs appeared in their thousands!  Such is life in the tropics!
I'm a bug killing demon!
There were obviously many nights out, some which ended sensibly, some not so much, and some which didn't end until the sun came up.  Cairns is a 2hr drive north and it was too much of an irresistible draw when Vanessa had a car, so myself and Noora just had to join her in a road trip.  Having not seen more than 1 shop in over 4 weeks, we found it hard not to spend, spend, spend the money we didn't have.  Cairns is a lot of fun and I wish I had more time to spend there and further north.  But my time is limited and after 2 months of laid back life, I made the hard decision to move on.  But not before my free skydive!  I was surprisingly calm on the day of the jump, but I had had a cancelled jump just 2 days before so I think the nerves had been drained from me then.  Vanessa had been working for Skydive Mission Beach and decided to join me to do her first jump as well, so we were able to distract each other somewhat.
The 'before' shot
I was jumping with Rob who I can't praise highly enough for his skills and ability to keep me calm.  In fact the only moment I felt a tad terrified was when the door of the plane opened (plane doors generally should not open).  Having bungee jumped before, I was convinced this would be easier, having no perspective of how high I was etc etc.  Turns out it is easier, but only because you have someone attached to you who does everything for you, including throwing you out the door!  Freefalling from 14,000ft is probably the best adrenalin rush I have ever had!  I cannot put into words how amazing it is, but it is an incredible feeling of freedom being able to push the limits of your survival.  Once the canopy is opened (which takes you by surprise and hurts a tad around the legs - note my face in the vid) it's a joyous glide over magnificent views of the great barrier reef, back to solid ground.  My biggest fear was, by far, the landing, having 'landed' badly from height in a previous life.  I needn't of worried, I just had to lift my legs up to my chest and Rob did the rest.
The slightly windswept 'after' shot
I seriously DO recommend this to anyone with an inkling of a desire to fight gravity!

And so ended the age of Mission.  I had a fantastic time there and made some amazing friends. One of which comes from my hometown of Motherwell.  Small world indeed.  Chinelle, Vanessa, Sebastian, Heather, Noora, Toni, Catherine, Jenny, Liam, Rebecca, Diesel, Mags and all the other Scots, Barabara and my tradey boys, and of course, Pip, Brendan, Peta and Dez.  You all made my time there an amazing one and I miss you!

The best part of my job!
So onto Townsville.  Again, I had only planned to stay 3 weeks, but... I initially worked at a hostel for my accommodation again, but found an advert for a job working in boarding kennels.  Naturally I was very keen on the work and earning some proper cash, but it meant 12hr days for 29 days straight.  Being poor, I couldn't pass up the chance of money, so I had to suck it up!  The job was 15km away from town so I has to hire a care for the month.  I forgot the joy of freedom a car can bring!  I also found an amazing flat to stay in as living in a hostel was going to be way too expensive and tiring!  I just wish I had more time to enjoy the time with my flatmates, Nathan and Ange. 
The kennel work was easy.  It was great to be back working with dogs again.  The owner also had another business transporting pets around the country, which I wasn't aware of until my first day, and I had 2 days to learn the entire business before he and his wife left on holiday.  He did admit he flung me in the deep end, but I managed and hopefully didn't bankrupt him!  The money has been a life saver, however, I was taxed almost $1500 when I wasn't expecting to pay any tax, so the flight home remains unbooked!  After the work was done, I had 5 days to enjoy the fun side of Townsville and Magnetic Island.  Kayaking, horse riding and more beach times were had before I had to give up the motor and head south once again.  To be continued...

The works ute
Red sky at night, kennel maids delight


Thursday, 1 March 2012

Bad blogger on the buses

Ok, so it's been nearly 3 months since my last blog.  I apologise for the tardiness!

The adventures have continued, although there have been a few bumps in the road, a lot of hanging about, waiting for the next step, as well as beach times and road trips. 
The next adventure has already begun.  I am now a bus driver for a hostel in Mission Beach, Queensland.  I do 3hrs work a day and in return I receive free accommodation, free internet, free laundry and if I stay at least 1 month, there’s a free skydive on offer.  Too good an offer to pass up!  It also allows me to find some paid work as well and puts me in a good position for saving some money to do the fun stuff…and buy a flight home :-s

I have to put up with this view for the next month or so...

That perfect job still eludes me… in fact finding any work that isn't a sales role duping people out of their hard earned cash is hard to come by!  I have been kept afloat by odd shifts here and there (thank you Gregg Peek – check out his free city tour of Sydney, the generosity of family and friends who have put me up for a few nights and kept me fed and watered, but mainly the bank of Mum and Dad have been far too generous and have enabled me to stay here living the dream!  Thank you kindly!

In the time since my last blog I have worked as a 'shepherd' for the aforementioned Peek Tours; worked as a nanny living on millionaires row right on Tamarama beach (just round from Bondi) looking after 4 kids for a very rich family; spent Christmas working for said rich family and then partied with my fellow orphans; had a fantastic New Year with some fabulous people watching the fireworks at Sydney Harbour and then watching the sun rise on Bondi with a lovely random Aussie bloke; campervan road trip to Melbourne and a 3 day Great Ocean Road tour with the lovely Katie Day; spent 5 strange days in Adelaide melting in 40 deg heat before hitching a lift back to Melbourne with Paul Atkinson.  I then spent a week in Melbourne, hosted by the right honourable  Dr Glassford (thank you kind sir for your unyielding generosity).  I managed to take in the semi-final of the Australian Open Tennis between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.  Great atmosphere, even though the outcome was not the desired one.  I spent a day pondering the complexities of life in the Botanic gardens, getting emotional at the Anzac memorial and wondering along the Yarra river.  I caught up with some long lost friends; Alisha, my favourite little Aussie, and Jamie and Sarah Anne, my favourite islanders from Skye!  I wish I had stayed longer, but the promise of work was too tempting and I made my way back up north to Sydney.  I spent a lovely long weekend in the Blue Mountains with my Dad's cousin, Marilyn, her husband Kevin and Milo the dog, who very kindly put me up and gave me a personal tour of some delightful towns, shops and cafes, as well as experiencing the worst hail storm I've ever encountered Blue Mountains Hail Storm!  Thank you both for your wonderful hospitality.

Blue Mountain home

I also managed to find a volleyball club to train with while back in Sydney, as well as attempting some beach volleyball with Dirk and Megan.  There was the Australian Open surf champs in Manly, free gigs on the beach, great music at Spectrum, skateboard comps, surfing with Jarrod and the Mojo boys, movies and meeting Mark Wahlberg with Piritta.  
I am glad to finally be travelling and exploring again, but I will miss Sydney and the people in it.  I have become quite attached to the place.  I will be back!

When trying to recall everything I've done in the last 3 months, it makes me smile thinking of the fun I've had and the friends I've made, and I really wish I had the discipline to keep a diary/update this blog so I can look back and remember everything I've done.  I must make a concerted effort to blog more often, but I fear they may become like buses... none for ages then they all appear at once!

The Living End free gig on Manly beach

Moonlight cinema, Centennial Park

Bowl-a-rama Bondi

Sydney sunrise