Thursday, 11 October 2007
Darwin was hot, wow, so hot and so humid. There isn't a tremendous amount to see or do there to be honest, but I went on a 3 day safari round Kakadu National Park, and that was just great - good people, good tour guide, loads of fun - inspite of the mumidity and the 41c weather! Thoroughly enjoyed it, and some of the scenery really is just unbelievable, I'll try to get some pics up once I have a chance, but you'll be blown away.
So yes, alice springs for a week and then i'm off to adelaide!
Saturday, 6 October 2007
Cooktown Vol. 2http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4533&l=86804&id=508109359
Cooktown Vol. 1http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4532&l=b4530&id=508109359
Cape Tribulation Vol. 2http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4531&l=bed95&id=508109359
Cape Tribulation Vol. 1http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4530&l=83443&id=508109359
Port Douglas & Mossmanhttp://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4529&l=40ee9&id=508109359
Johnson River Crocodile Farm Vol. 2http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4526&l=36a25&id=508109359
Johnson River Crocodile Farm Vol. 1http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4525&l=33898&id=508109359
Magnetic Island Vol. 2http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4523&l=fc49b&id=508109359
Magnetic Island Vol. 1http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4251&l=11121&id=508109359
Roadtrip from Airlie Beach to Townsville via Bowenhttp://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4521&l=51c77&id=508109359
Sailing the Whitsundayshttp://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4520&l=b911f&id=508109359
Eungella National Parkhttp://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4518&l=d1c54&id=508109359
Roadtrip from Agnes Water to Eungella via Rockhamptonhttp://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4517&l=b380f&id=508109359
Fraser Island Vol. 2http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4513&l=1d697&id=508109359
Fraser Island Vol. 1http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4046&l=93c69&id=508109359
Brisbane Vol. 3http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4508&l=f7fd2&id=508109359
Brisbane Vol. 2http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4507&l=faf3b&id=508109359
Brisbane Vol. 1http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4506&l=77c50&id=508109359
Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4504&l=40490&id=508109359
Friday, 21 September 2007
Just a quick note as I'm fairly knackered right now, but then, after two days of 6.30am starts and dive courses, its little wonder. So, today we finished off most the pool session stuff today, and tomorrow it is out to the reef for four whole days of diving - i'll even be doing some deep dive stuff at 30metres, and a night dive too, so as excited and nervous as i am, I can't wait. The first few times with the kit seemed a little strange, but its all quickly come into place, and if i can just keep the thought of violent decompression sickness and exploding nitrogen bubbles in my brain at a distance, it could just be fun ;) I'm planning to hire a underwater didigtal camera too, so that should be pretty rad too. Anyways, a pimpelly curly haired aussie youth is attempting to turf me out of the internet cafe, so i best go - but thanks for all the comments on the car sale - good news all round, seriously. So, speak to you all laters.
Wednesday, 19 September 2007
Wednesday, 12 September 2007
Tuesday, 11 September 2007
Back from a brief trip into the outback - we drove from Cape Tribulation through the inland road, about 300km in total, up to Cooktown - basically as far north as you can get on a normal road on the east coast.
And wow it was pretty crazy stuff, real outback and no mistake - baking hot scrub and savannah land, kangrooes, massive termite mounds everywhere and endless flat roads. We passed through a few one pub towns (no really, mt carbine has one pub and one road house gas stations, thats it) and what seemed like a eternity later got into Cooktown - a weird place. Very remote and really with nothing happening, despite the virilent invasion of germans (seriously, it was unbelieveable, of the 20 or so people we met, all were german. And fucking annoyingly so I'm afraid to say). We stayed just a full day, and really, that was plenty - 'Cooktown, where we make the most of the miserable history we have!' could easily be the slogan. Still, it was good to see something authentic like that.
Still, its very very much made me question the whole outback leg of my travelling - the drive back in particular. We foolishly did some 30kms on some pretty rough unsealed road to get to an admittadley nice waterfall, and on the way back everything seemed fine - until we almost hit two wallabies. And then a massive white cow, standing in the middle of the road. And then two kangerooes. After all that, the car has been making a weird tapping noise. Mechanic assures me that its a tappette thats not quite closing properly, suggests an oil change and some lubricant stuff. Thing is, we didn't know all that last nigth when we limped into the 'functional' ('crap') two on Mareeba, where incidentally there was no accomodation other then a room in a bearded truckers house. Of course, his mates all tried to help fix the car, up to the point of 'come back tomorrow with a case of piss, i'll bring my tools and we'll be right'. I can't beleive we were actually half considering all that as an option even! Thankfully we decided to keep on going to here, and the mechanic says the guys would have trashed the car (still further) if IU had let them anywhere near the thing. So I'm glad we made a good decision under the stressful circumstances.
So, whats next? Still weighing up the options in my mind to be honest. Maybe work back in Sydney, maybe learn to dive in Cairns, maybe go to Perth. Probably a combination of all three I suspect. Its hard to know whats best, but I am sure the answer will as ever present itself to me. Anyways, until then speak laters.
Friday, 7 September 2007
Yes, by some bizarre twist of fate, I seem to have awoken at a ashcokingly early 7.30am this moring, bright eyed and cheery, so I thought I would plunge into the cyber realm for an hour or so, listen to some banging psytrance on my ipod in this tent in the middle of the oldest rainforest on earth. Just to mix it up a little.
So, we've been in Cape Tribulation for three days now - this is real wild country, about two hours north of Cairns, into the old old rainforest. Its very beautiful and, after the holiday resort hell hole that is Port Douglas, quite a nice change. We're staying in cabins out in the rainforest, which is great, and went on a night walk through the forest with a guide the night before last, which was also a lot of fun. Yesterday we went horse riding through the rainforest, which was also a pretty amazing experience, so its another great thing to tick of the list (skydive, snorkelling, white water rafting etc).
In a few hours we're going to drive north still further, up to Cooktown, which is just about as far north as you can get in Oz without a 4x4, so I'm excited. We'll be going through the outback and over some mountain ranges too, so it should be fantastic drive - Emilie is even doing some of the driving! ;)
My longer term plans still remain a little unclear, despite furious thinking on the issue day and night in the back of my mind. I could sell the car in Cairns and go back to Sydney for a months worth of work, and save over a thousand pounds (no small amount), but then again, when am I going to be in Oz like this again, with my own wheels and 40 days to spare? Right now I am thinking I want to keep on roadtripping, and having looked at the available time, I think I have more then enough time to hit Darwin, Alice Springs, Adelaide and then Sydney - and still have time to sell the car. There is just so much out there, and I'm desperate to see it - and I know the sense of acheivement and satisfaction that I will feel when I drive back into Sydney in the same car I left in, having done 5000km, will be something I'll take with my for the rest of my life. So, its looking like thats the plan at the moment! ;)
Tuesday, 4 September 2007
Wednesday, 29 August 2007
Good news, I've finally found a great hostel that has free computers (though you pay for internet access itself) - this means I should FINALLY be able to start sorting through some photos, and hopefully have them all sorted through offline and then I can try yo stick a few hundred up tomorrow onto facebook (with links here obviously). Cause I know you're all just dying to see what I've been up to.
Mission beach is a pretty tiny quiet little place, in the middle of some very ancient rainforest here on the north queensland coast. Its the home of the famous cassoway, but I havcen't seen one yet (they are highly endangered, with only about 50 left here apparently). I'm fairly certian I heard on in the forest the other day though, so thats pretty good for me.
Tomorrow we are going to go white water rafting on the Tully River - apparently its one of the best rivers in the entire world to go on, so I'm really looking forward to it a lot - it should be pretty awesome ;) If not a bit wet and tiring I imagine ;P
So, suddenly I feel like I haven't really got a whole lot to say! Here's a link to some pictures from Fraser Island, taken with my old camera just before it died (hence the interesting colour scheme! Kind of works sometimes anyways). Ok hopefully post up a ton of pics tomorrow for you guys, adios
Sunday, 26 August 2007
So, in five mins i will try to update you all on whats been going on - since we last met in virutal space, I've driven a marathon 7 hour stint up from Agnes Water to the sleeply little mountain place of Eungella national park - we could only stay there a day unfortunately, because we headed down the road to Airlie Beach - a eal feature on the east coast stupid dumb backpacker circuit, but it had to be dne all the same - got to go sail the Whitsunday Islands! We had a great time, ratehr inspite of then because of the boat itself, but enjoyed it all the same. Airli, the perpetual party town, wasn't in much of a mood to let us go, but we finally escaped up to Twnsville via a day in Bowen a few days ago. Townsville may be the biggest city outside of Brisbane, but that ain't saying much. The shear vastness of Oz has become apparent here in Queeensland - its so damn big you wouldn't believe it. And there is just no one around. We came to Townsville to go to Magnetic Island - just across the water from the town - nice little place, very beautiful but very boring too (2 days is enough, not our 3 I think) - still, did a lot of walking, snorkelling, hit the nudist beach again (got a bit of a taste for it now i think!). Bugger, 55 seconds of internet left! OK, so leaving for Mission Beach tomorrow, will try to update you there! Adios amigos!
Sorry its taken a bit for me to get back to you on this one, not much time free and internet is surprisingly hard to find when you want it for big chunks of time. Well, first and foremost thank you very much! its great to have someone getting interactive with this blog, it is exactly what I wanted all along - so please keep them coming!
Now, in case some of you don't know, I talked about the Bundugen 'alternative' community that I visited, and how I was disappointed that it wasn't so much alternative, as 'not in my backyard'. In response, Anon posted the following:
'I read your bit about the Bundagen alternative community, it is typical that you would call it a cop-out, I used to say that too about people that left the big city to live in harmony with nature. That was before I lived my life and got smarter. I need to let you know that being one who loves nature and intends to go visit this community, I see these people as heros because they decided not to live ina manipulatived society, they are free thinkers and decided to live the way that nature intended before we became reliant on the media to to give us all the information we supposedly need. Solar panels: I think an ulternative thinking person actually designed them. Maybe you should think again before putting down a communty and speading your profound wisdom.'
Sadly Anon, I think you've perhaps missed the point, or misunderstood my post. As someone who has actually been to this community, (as opposed to yourself), I can assure you that these people are not 'living the way nature intended'. There not primitavists, hell, they aren't even Amish. They're using mobile phones, 4x4 land cruisers, satellite internet connections and laptops. There houses are made from industrially produced cement and processed metals, there cars run on industrially extracted petroleum, their laptops from industrially mined iridium, their fridges run on electricity produced from coal fired power stations, the solar panels are made from industrially produced silicon, and so on and so on. That isn't living an eco life, thats living a selfish life - I want all the tools and conveniences of modern industrial life, but I don't want the mess and pollution in my backyard where I can see it, and I want to escape the nagging guilt from the hypocricy of it all.
I'm in no way putting down the community in terms of its beautiful surroundings, chilled out atmosphere, healthy community spirit and local democracy, respect for their surrounding enviroment, organic farming methods or liberated artisitc community. What I am saying is that this is not an eco community, it is not individually sustainable and any assertion to the contray is bullshit. Pull the plug of the modern industrial world and this place would crumple and vanish.
But please, throw the ball back at me with this one ;)
Saturday, 11 August 2007
Hello all! Hope your all good - let me start by saying that i'm in a great mood at the moment after my little low a few days ago. As I suspected, I think I was pretty exhuasted from the Fraser Island leg, and its taken me a few days to get back up to speed.That said, we've been busy. From Rainbow Beach we drived a few hours further north (ever north, ever north it seems) to the dreaded Bundeberg - home of the chain gang worked slave dwelling backpacker army that picks the fruit around here for a pitetence. Just ask Emilie about it some time (I didn't even go near it from the very start)/ Anyway, it was actually pretty good fun to stay there - tiny little hostel, we were the only non asian people there, got dinner and a conversation from a Korean girl Emilie met when working here, and the next day we hit up the Bundeberg Rum Factory tour before encountering a bizarre - but utterly captivating - old Russian man named Igor who was born in South Africa and fought in the cold war proxie/ wars of independence/ civil wars/ mercenary armies of Africa in the 1960s. To top it all off we ended up with a local delicacy, battered fish with yes, battered chips.From there we headed north still further to a tiny little twin town area called Agnes Water and The Town of 1770 (the place of Cook's second landing in Australia). Fantastic little place, best backpackers I have ever stayed at I think (certainly in terms of facilities and services) and the craziest thing is the town is set in something like 200km of coast national park, with just 8km for the towns - they only got the dirt road sealed 3 years ago! So yesterday we went to 1770 and did a fantastic 3 hour sunset sea kayak tour, which was awesome (drank goon on the beach and ate ginger bread cake) and today we went out the Lady Musgrave Island, the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef - just absolutely amazin - easily one of the very best things I've ever done, without a doubt. And joy of joys, I've finally had a chance to look at my pics and the camera lense is fine, and the photos are frankly fucking awesome. They're also massive, so I'm going to have to figure something out so I can actually share them with you guys. I'll stick just the one or two up for now.So whats next? Well, tomorrow I'm going on a 1.5 hour flight around the bay and over the national park and coast, landing on a beach and having some fresh oysters! In the afternoon we're leaving to do a big big drive in a convoy up to a national park to go platypus watching with some friends we've made along the way - two irish guys, a french guy and a dutch girl - looking forward to it a lot!Well, its getting late, I've been up since 6.30am, and I'm pretty tired (plusthis is about $5 an hour online) so I'm going to shoot - speak to you soon!
That said, we've been busy. From Rainbow Beach we drived a few hours further north (ever north, ever north it seems) to the dreaded Bundeberg - home of the chain gang worked slave dwelling backpacker army that picks the fruit around here for a pitetence. Just ask Emilie about it some time (I didn't even go near it from the very start)/ Anyway, it was actually pretty good fun to stay there - tiny little hostel, we were the only non asian people there, got dinner and a conversation from a Korean girl Emilie met when working here, and the next day we hit up the Bundeberg Rum Factory tour before encountering a bizarre - but utterly captivating - old Russian man named Igor who was born in South Africa and fought in the cold war proxie/ wars of independence/ civil wars/ mercenary armies of Africa in the 1960s. To top it all off we ended up with a local delicacy, battered fish with yes, battered chips.
From there we headed north still further to a tiny little twin town area called Agnes Water and The Town of 1770 (the place of Cook's second landing in Australia). Fantastic little place, best backpackers I have ever stayed at I think (certainly in terms of facilities and services) and the craziest thing is the town is set in something like 200km of coast national park, with just 8km for the towns - they only got the dirt road sealed 3 years ago! So yesterday we went to 1770 and did a fantastic 3 hour sunset sea kayak tour, which was awesome (drank goon on the beach and ate ginger bread cake) and today we went out the Lady Musgrave Island, the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef - just absolutely amazin - easily one of the very best things I've ever done, without a doubt. And joy of joys, I've finally had a chance to look at my pics and the camera lense is fine, and the photos are frankly fucking awesome. They're also massive, so I'm going to have to figure something out so I can actually share them with you guys. I'll stick just the one or two up for now.
So whats next? Well, tomorrow I'm going on a 1.5 hour flight around the bay and over the national park and coast, landing on a beach and having some fresh oysters! In the afternoon we're leaving to do a big big drive in a convoy up to a national park to go platypus watching with some friends we've made along the way - two irish guys, a french guy and a dutch girl - looking forward to it a lot!
Well, its getting late, I've been up since 6.30am, and I'm pretty tired (plusthis is about $5 an hour online) so I'm going to shoot - speak to you soon!
Tuesday, 7 August 2007
Wednesday, 1 August 2007
So yes, we left Brisbane and drove another few hours up to the little town of Noosa - right next to a big national park on a coastal headland, lovely beaches and great walks. Plus its hot again! So the tan is coming back, and its been nice to just lie around on the beach and not do much. From here we are planning to go up north to Hervey Bay, and from there do a few days on Fraser Island - the largest sand island in the world! more sand then the sahara! woo hoo!
man alive, its annoying to upload photos onto facebook from my new camera - doesn't like the 10meg images, obviously! Anyway, the trip continues to go well, though Le Tank has had to be fixed a few times - main thing was fixing up the reverse in the gear box, can't remember if I mentioned that already - but it seems to be pootling along ok. Anyway, I think the photos are done so here is the link - enjoy!
Friday, 27 July 2007
I hope your all good, sorry for the delay in the update. Well, for a start, we are now in Brisbane - Australia's thrid largest city at 1.5 million people, and currently in the middle of a major drought (around 600 days without rain in the catchment area, dams at 17% capacity, so I read). All in all, its a really rather nice place, much to both our surprise really. Its got a very nice laid back feel to it, and its a great place to chill out in. We'll be here another few days, and then its off up north and onto Noosa.
So where have we been? We set off from Coffs Harbour and drove north along the coast line to the infamous Byron Bay - a heavan on earth, if you believe some backpackers. Personally, it was all too much for both of us I think - fucking travellers everywhere, an the whole town is both expensive and a bit corny to be honest. I can imagine it could be great in the summer time, but I found it all a bit too much. The first hostel we stayed in, the Arts Factory, was really more of a Club 18-30 holiday complex then anything else - own bar and resturant, cinema, band stage, club room and pool. All too much to be honest (maybe I'm just getting too old though!:) So we ended up moving to another quiet place for a few days - Byron is ok, but in the end, I wasn't sad to leave it really.
From there we headed inland to the infamous Nimbin - hippy central basically. Tiny little one street town in the Nimbin Valley, with a whole load of pothead hippies and a couldron of social problems just bubbling under the surface. Really strange small town mentality plus too many drugs methinks.
Anyway, this place is closing now so i'll be super quick! Basically, Nimbin to Brisbane via a broken reverse and almost dead gearbox which cost 300 bucks ot fix in Lismore - but could have been worse, if the box had died it would have been nearer a thousand I reckon, so its all good. :) Anyways, best run, speak soon!
Wednesday, 18 July 2007
A speedy one as ever, as time on line seems to go so quckly when you have to pay for it! Well, we aer now in Coffs Harbour, which is only really about 30-40 mins drive from Bellingen, but frankly, we didn't feel like going much further. I had to get a few thigns looked at with the car - steering wheel alignment, slightly leak on the radiator seal, disc brakes - but the whole lot only cost me $33 dollars so I can't complain.
Finally it was good to leave Bellingen and move on. Not that I can complain about the place - wonderful chilled out hostel, nice people, very very relaxed and some beautiful scenery and mountains around. We went hiking in the Dorrigo national park, and yesterday went down to a alternative community called Bundagen - two hundred or so people living in a 900 acre plot in the middle of a national park, in nine small villages. Even comes with there own private nudist beach! (And yes, I did brave the elements!). In all it was an interesting experience, but also rather unreal - all these people were really nice and friendly, but there did seem this nagging sense of a cop-out - for all the talk of getting back to nature and escaping the rat race, everyone had there 4x4 cars, solar panels and modern plastics - their way of life wouldn't be possible without the backbone and basis of a modern industrial economy. So it kind of put everything into a different perspective.
Crap money is almost gone, try you get you tomorrow!
Monday, 16 July 2007
Though it has only been six days since we set out, it feels like a million miles away from Sydney and my life back there. We left Port Macquarie yesterday and drove up the coast under a blisteringly hot and blindingly bright sun, stopping off for a few hours in the quiet little seaside town of Nambucca Heads. From there we continued north and inland, to a Bellingen - its a fantastic little hippy alternative town, one main street really, at the foothills of the Dorrigo National Park. Our hostel is an old wooden thing for 50 years or more, perched on a bluff overlooking fields with horses and cows. There is really just one pub, a few resturants and shops and thats about it - its pretty much perfect for chilling out :) Better yet I've no mobile reception, so I really feel like I have escaped from everything. Today we drove up the mountain to the National Park, and hiked around the escarpment for abut 3 hours - really damn cold as well! It was, apparently, -6c last night up there (compared to a still chilly 7c down here) and this put something of a damper on our picnic, but we still enjoyed it all a lot. I took the camera out for a spin today for the first time too, and am absolutely loving it, even if I haven't figured out even the most basic setting on it yet. So nice to be able to take the photos I always wanted to. Tomorrow we are off to a hippy commune on the beach, with there eco houses and nudist beach, and then the day after perhaps horseriding in the foothills. Its tough being unemployed, I tell you :)
Friday, 13 July 2007
Still, road trip is goign well. The driving gets easier with every mile and every day, and now i've learned to love the excentricities of 'Le Tank' - the way, for example, it sounds like its about to take off when you reverse it, or the way the steering wheel is misaligned by about 6 degrees. I even got the locks fixed, though sadly, i didn't think to ask the guy to keep the key for me as a souvernier. Still makes me laugh to look at the picture!
So, we left Sydney predictably a few hours late, and after a few mistaken turns, got onto the (busy) freeway up to the lovely Port Stephens, where we stayed in a beautiful backpackers/ campsite called Melauela (I think) Backpackers. 5 mins walk from One Mile Beach, the first day was beautiful sunshine (even got a bit of a sunburn) and we spent it mostly in Nelson Bay - drank a pint in the sunshine, ate gourmet pie (prawn, baramundi and lobster in cocunut sauce no less!) at Red Ned's Pie Shop, and then did a couple of hours hiking up to Tomaree Head to see the sun set - really spectaculatr place, I'll put the pics up as soon as I can.
Today we slept through most of the sun :( but still went down to Stockton Beach to the massive (MASSIVE) sandbank and dunes, and walked around for a few hours to check it out. Really spectacular but very windy. From there we decided to head off and make for Port Macqaurie, which took a few hours (via a stock at The Rock Roadhouse - classic Australiana - a roadhouse rest stop in the giant model of Ayers Rock!!).
All in all things continue to go well, but its early days. I'm still getting to grips with all the driving, and the car, and the feeling of not going back to Sydney - that that chapter is all closed and done with. For the most part, it feels good, really good, to be moving again and exploring. Still haven't had a chance to figure out how to use my camera, but thats next on the list after i get off here (3 mins and counting).
So, please get interactive with this blog, leave psots and comments, I really do like to hear your thoughts. For those facebookers out there, I'll be posting the pics as soon as a I can, and of coruse, I'll put the links in this blog for those of you not yet down with the kids.
And a big big congratulations to Monica and Patrick! I'm so happy for you guys, I always had my suspicions that things might work out that way. Keep me posted on everything! All very exciting stuff! Next stop for me and Emilie after here will prob be Coff's Harbour, again another 250km or so up the coast, so I imagine the next post from me will be from there. Until then!
Thursday, 5 July 2007
I mean, is this for real? I mean, hell 'Merkins, you guys gotta do your part right, so why not buy your genuine 911 coin, minted with 'genuine silver recovered from Ground Zero'. I mean, for fucksake, can you get much more tasteless then this? Blood diamond? Try blood silver. Its really so crass and so tasteless, I find it all unbelievable.
Whats more, I can't understand why there isn't some kind of moral outrage over this in the US. The guy I found this link from had it entitled 'Why I Hate Capitalism', which is a completely ridiculous statement and, quite frankly, the kind of retarded kindergarden hippy student leftisim that drive me crazy. This has nothing to do with an economic system and everything to do with a certain, I think, excessive sentiment on the part of the American pscyhe to both defie and defile at the same time. The victims of 9/11 are defied into saints simply through there misfortune (an utterly spurious, but again, very Merkin, interpretation - grace through misfortune, passive, not active and not through sacrifice) - and yet at the same time, this religiosity is sold like any other commodity, forgiveness, penance, abolition, available free when you want how you want it, just a click away, a credit card number from salvation...
That's why we can't take you seriously.
Monday, 2 July 2007
Just a quick post today as I've got a mass of things to do - or at least thats how it all feels - but I am now the proud owner of my very first automobile! Yes, this delightful beast is a 1989 Ford Falcon, aka The Tank. Its not too pretty and really rather large, but I think its going to do the job. Though I must confess, I was a little concerned to notice the state of the drivers door key (I think I might be getting a new lock fitted). I got the car checked out before I bought it, and the Swedish guys went and got the main repairs done, so it should be good to go - I hope! Still slightly paranoid that the engine is going to fall out after the first 10km, or the breaks will go on the first downhill (etc etc) but I'm sure I'm just being ridiculous. You wouldn't do that to me, would you guys? :)
Still, its big with enough space for two to sleep comfortably in the back, and comes with a tent, mattress, camping gear, maps, battery inverter, you name it, pretty much everything. The price was pretty good at $2200, and I'm hoping I'll be able to make most of that back too at the end. So now we're just got to give the thing a good clean, inventory and pack and we're good to go!
Still can't really believe I'm off in just over a week!
Tuesday, 26 June 2007
On other news, I read with interest the results from a Newsweek poll conducted on political and cultural issues in the US. Crooks & Lairs pointed out, one section was particularly noteworthy.
Even today, more than four years into the war in Iraq, as many as four in ten Americans (41 percent) still believe Saddam Hussein’s regime was directly involved in financing, planning or carrying out the terrorist attacks on 9/11, even though no evidence has surfaced to support a connection. A majority of Americans were similarly unable to pick Saudi Arabia in a multiple-choice question about the country where most of the 9/11 hijackers were born. Just 43 percent got it right — and a full 20 percent thought most came from Iraq.
Worst still, the number of people who are 'confused' about Iraq’s non-existent role in the 9/11 attacks has actually gone up - when Newsweek asked the same question in the fall of 2004, 'only' 36% said Saddam Hussein was “directly involved” with the attacks. I guess it all goes back to that great Bush quote, 'the hardest part of my job is to connect Iraq to September 11th...'
Thursday, 21 June 2007
Sadly, I'm sick right now - I've got some nasty stomach bug and its pissing me off big time, I mean, come on, its been three days now already! I'm not impressed.
Still, I'm looking for a car, trying to get everything in order and also getting very close to buying a digital camera - check out the package, tell me what you think!
Anyway, I'm going go home and feel a bit sick. I'll leave you with one of my favourite pics I've taken recently.
Thursday, 14 June 2007
The US military has embarked on a new and risky strategy in Iraq by arming Sunni insurgents in the hope that they will tackle the extremist al-Qaida in Iraq.
The US high command this month gave permission to its officers on the ground to negotiate arms deals with local leaders. Arms, ammunition, body armour and other equipment, as well as cash, pick-up trucks and fuel, have already been handed over in return for promises to turn on al-Qaida and not attack US troops
Great, so the US solution to the ever escalating civil war in Iraq is to align themselves with dozens of Sunni militiamen, cooperate, fund and arm sectarian militias - death squads- who work outside the Iraqi security forces, and include insurgent groups that have attacked Americans and coalition forces in the past.
“We have made a deal with the devil,” said an intelligence officer in the battalion.Doesn't anyone, any where, see the horrific potential for blow back in this entire fucked situation? Please? Someone?
Wednesday, 13 June 2007
Unless of course your a contractor like me, and don't get paid for it. Which means it then kind of sucks. It then begins to really suck when your hit for almost the entire length of the 4 days by a massive storm that rocks the entire coastal region of your current country of residence. Here's an example of the what I'm talking about. This is at the beach I used to go to all the time in summer, Coogee. Pretty wild hu?
It got a whole lot worse further up the coast though, and fortunately Sydney was spared the worst of it by a long way - just look what happened to this tanker! The guys didn't heed the warning and tried to keep on going through the storm, up at Newcastle. Bit of a mess really!
Still, I actually had a really fun weekend, booze fuelled as it was - but I digress and its getting late. Even worse, its frickin' cold now - really cold - and the houses here have no insulation and no central heating. So its really rather unpleasant. I'm going to go now and freeze my way back home on my bike, but I'll post more tomorrow.
Notice that nice black watch on his left wrist at 00.50 minutes? It doesn't last long to the 'adoring' crowd - they fleece him for everything he's worth...
I wonder what you could sell THAT for on eBay?
Update: So, apparently, from another camera angle you can see Bush, sensing the potential, actually took off his watch and put it in his pocket. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed.
But the more serious issue is, why is Secret Service letting people get so close to him? Its got to be a massive security issue, surely?
Friday, 8 June 2007
Wednesday, 6 June 2007
Not a huge amount to say today really, I'm mostly been just trying to get my shit sorted out, tidy up and get a bit more organised generally - I can't believe I'm going to be finished work in just a few weeks time! Very strange indeed.
Anyway, I thought I'd put up a few pics of a trip to Taronga Zoo that me and Emilie took a few weeks ago (back when it was atually warm! sob!). An awesome day and a lot of fun - I can't remember the last time I went to the zoo, I really can't We brought a picnic and stuff, and it was generally a fantastic day out. If you want to have a look at some more pics, just click here.
Tuesday, 5 June 2007
As some of you might know, I'm a keen amateur photographer and really just love capturing the world around me as I see it and live it. I've been seriously looking into buying a digital camera (thanks for all the advice Ben), but at 800 quid plus, I'm going to take my time figuring out exactly what SLR I want. Still, all very exciting.
Anyway, I just wanted to link you to this fantastic flickr album by a French photographer of various homeless people living in France (primarily Paris I think). These mostly black and white portraits are really stunningly moving, displaying such honesty and intensity. I challenge you not to be moved.
Please, as ever, get interactive, let me know what you think.
As my incredibly original posting title might suggest, I actually got behind the wheel of a car today and moved the damn thing around the quiet back suburbs of Sydney. First of all, let me go on record as saying Redfern isn't nearly as shitty and diseased and crime ridden as most of those snobs in Surrey Hills would have you believe.
Anyway, back to the issue at hand. Though the guy was 20 minutes late on the account of the fact my house on Albion Avenue is a complete nightmare to drive to, everything kicked off very well indeed. I was honestly amazed at how quickly a lot of it all came back to me - I was expecting things to be a real struggle - but I guess its like riding a bike. You can get rusty but you never forget (I should hope not - was a fucking nightmare to get my license!).
But seriously, he said just another hour or two to get my confidence back up and get used to driving and I'm good to go - everything else was pretty good, just got to watch mirrors, practice three point turn, all that jazz really. So thats a massive, huge relief to me - I've been quietly stressing over this one for a while now! I'm sure all the cycling has helped a lot - you've got to be really road aware, especially over here - far fewer cyclists and a lot of crappy drivers.
So, all in, I'm in a good mood today, because I'm so pleasantly surprised by the entire thing to be honest! Now we've just got to buy a damn car and hit the wide open road!
Wednesday, 30 May 2007
And yes, he may have cosponsored Joe 'Republican' Lieberman's S.J.RES.46, the Iraq War Resolution, and also later voted for it in the full Senate to authorize the use of military force against Iraq, but having just read this foreign policy speech, I think he's learnt his lesson from that particular mistake - he publicly apologised later.
Here a brief extract from the speech, I think you'll find it both enlightening and very refreshing.
"The war on terror is a slogan designed only for politics, not a strategy to make America safe. It's a bumper sticker, not a plan. It has damaged our alliances and weakened our standing in the world. As a political "frame," it's been used to justify everything from the Iraq War to Guantanamo to illegal spying on the American people. It's even been used by this White House as a partisan weapon to bludgeon their political opponents. Whether by manipulating threat levels leading up to elections, or by deeming opponents "weak on terror," they have shown no hesitation whatsoever about using fear to divide.
But the worst thing about this slogan is that it hasn't worked. The so-called "war" has created even more terrorism—as we have seen so tragically in Iraq. The State Department itself recently released a study showing that worldwide terrorism has increased 25% in 2006, including a 40% surge in civilian fatalities.
By framing this as a "war," we have walked right into the trap that terrorists have set—that we are engaged in some kind of clash of civilizations and a war against Islam.
The "war" metaphor has also failed because it exaggerates the role of only one instrument of American power—the military. This has occurred in part because the military is so effective at what it does. Yet if you think all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail."
Tuesday, 29 May 2007
As you might have gathered from yesterdays post, I was feeling pretty down about stuff. Feeling a little lonely and a little lost out here; I guess I've been missing home a lot, friends a lot, and struggling to put together in my own mind what I will do next. I'm leaving Sydney soon too, which after more then seven months, really has become my home - heading out into the big open road has got a certain daunting nature to it (not to mention, all the hassle of getting everything ready to go).
Still, I'm feeling better today, so I soldier on as ever. I've just finished reading this great article in the Guardian entitled 'No Fairytales Allowed'; an extract from Gitmo lawyer Clive Stafford Smith's new book, Bad Men. With 36 clients in detention, he has been many times and has a unique insight into just how terrible a place it is. Secrecy in the camp is a disease, and it threatens to poison our entire political culture in the West.
I'm still concerned, just where is the outrage?
Monday, 28 May 2007
Yes, just a quick post before I leap upon the trusty speedster and head off into the dark cold night that is now Sydney at 5.45pm/ Those happy sunny hot days seem but a distant memory to me at the moment, sad as that may seem.
I must confess, still finding things a bit tough going at the moment, what with the cold weather, precious few hours of sunshine and general lack of people around these days. Its obviously not all doom and gloom or anything like that, but at the same time, I'm feeling a bit more homesick then usual. Plagued by that 'what the hell exactly are you doing?' feeling, where your mind insists on pulling up a wide selection of things for you to feel regretful or remorseful about.
I look back, for example, and really, just wish I had never gone to France, never broken my finger, and all the things that seem to have followed on from that one decision, taken so very rashly really, and in so very much ignorance and hubris.
Funny how life pans out like that sometimes.
You can read the rest from America's Last Best Hope here.
Friday, 25 May 2007
And yet, in spite of all that initial misgiving, I can only say that I'm deeply impressed by the man. Whilst nominally a Republican, he's a Californian first and foremost, and that means liberal with a small L. He's pro choice and pro gay rights, and in July this year even signed a further $150m to stem cell research after Bush's veto of a bill that would allow federal funding. He's raised the minimum wage from $6.75 to $8.50, and perhaps most importantly for me, behind the image of the cigar smoking Hummer driver, someone who is really actually rather radically green in his agenda.
For example, just today Schwarzenegger and fellow Republican Gov. Jodi Rell of Connecticut accused the U.S. government on Monday of "inaction and denial" on global warming.
"It's bad enough that the federal government has yet to take the threat of global warming seriously, but it borders on malfeasance for it to block the efforts of states such as California and Connecticut that are trying to protect the public's health and welfare," the governors wrote in The Washington Post.California is leading the US now on climate change issues, and where it goes, the rest of the country tends to follow. In September, he signed a bill to reduce the states greenhouse gas emissions by 25% over the next 20 years, stating that "We simply must do everything we can in our power to slow down global warming before it is too late... The science is clear. The global warming debate is over."
So whats going on here? Well, it seems clear, when you strip away the Hollywood persona, that Arnold is no chump. Here is a guy who was born into a small backward Austrian town, to a drunken Nazi father, and used body building to get to America, won Mr. Olympia six times in a row, and became probably one of the biggest film stars of the last couple decades. Behind the muscles, chiseled jaw line and thick accent, there is a shrewd business man and entepreneur, and one who, it seems, has a great deal more awareness, foresight and vision then anyone, including this humble fan, gave him credit for.
Thursday, 24 May 2007
Of course, he's pretty controversial, having gone from a former Trotsyist to an unapologetic champion of the Iraq War. He continues to stress the danger from fundmentalism with the rather ridiculous and vacuous Daily Mail terminology of 'Islamofascism', whatever that means. And yet, whilst I disagree with him on a lot of issues, I admire his intellectual rigor and shear balls in the way he openly confronts those he disagrees with - his smack down on Sean Hannity for his complete intellectual ignorance about arguments for atheism, and his brutal eulogizing for Jerry Farwell ('a disgusting little toad' were his words I think) are a joy to watch :)
Anyway, heres a really interesting debate between him at Al Sharpton, which I highly recommend you check out. I'm also, incidentally, really rather impressed with the hosting site, Fora.tv - nice flash stand alone player, nice streaming, very professionally done - I'll be checking it out again for sure - I can see interviews with Henry Kissinger, debates on Buddha and 'New trends in Global Jihadi Terrors'. Heck, you can even download the programmes in Ipod format! woo hoo!
Anyway, as ever, let me know your thoughts!
Wednesday, 23 May 2007
Well, I continue my love affair with my video Ipod, and have become completely addicted to the various podcasts going around - I've now got far far too many to try and watch or listen - its a full time job!
My particular favourite right now is Frederator - its a brilliant concept, people submit short cartoons and animations, of all different styles and contents, and then it magically gets beamed out to you via the wonder of the internet.
I highly recommend you check it out - I found this really weird, but really good, little set of cartoons through it... let me know what you think ;)
Tuesday, 22 May 2007
Well, now that my blog is back up and running properly, I'm determined to try to keep it up to date a little bit more regularly, as I know your all such keen readers ;)
It's 8pm here in eBay Towers Sydney, and I'm just pottling along through my design work for LightHouse, and I'm watching this fantastic documentary called 'Iraq for Sale' by Robert Greenwald - it looks at the role that civilian contractors (and private profit) have been behind a huge number of scandals in the Iraq war - most notably in the infamous abuse at Abu Ghraib. These massive 'security contractor' (read: mercenary) firms have about 120k men in Iraq - basically doubling the US military presence, yet they are specifically exempt from Iraqi law, and the US military code of justice. This is the real privatisation of war for pure profit.
I mean, every time these 80k trucks broke down, they didn't order replacement parts -or even spare tires- they BURNT them, and just billed the government for another on a cost plus system. It's totally insane.
Seriously, I'm just shocked at how fucked up this all is, and basically, no one is going to go down for any of this. Instead, fat cat CEOs and retired military personnel will all be heading home with fat pay cheques, and this whole clusterfuck of a war will just keep on rolling along...
Tuesday, 15 May 2007
So, as someone of you might have noticed, I've been sadly absence from the old blogging for a while now. Well, for some reason my access here at eBay Towers was having all kinds of strange and mysterious error messages whenever I tried to access any blog pages. Well, it seems to have resolved itself for now, so I'll try to give you all an update.
Well, first and foremost, I'm still in Sydney, still living in Paddington and still working away doing Magellan/ Ligthhouse work for eBay (that will mean almost nothing to most of you, but trust me, its really not that interesting, but at least the money is good). I'll be working until the end of June, and then I'll have finally done my time and will be free to hit the big open road and explore Australia - and whilst I'm actually crapping myself at the thought of actually having to drive after, ooooh, about four years, I know it will be a fantastic experience.
Life in Sydney continues to pottle along, though I'm sad to say that most of my friends here have finally moved on to travel to pastures new and green (Funk House Crew, R.I.P.) But, as they say, such is the life of the traveller, and the challenges of the modern day nomad. I can't really complain anyway, there are still enough good people around to keep things interesting, and I'm determined to throw myself into my work for the remaining time to make sure its a well done job.
I've been trying to keep myself busy too. My music collection continues to grow ridiculously through a number of different free dj hosting sites I've found (do message me if your interested, I can put the links up) to the point that I've now got over 105gb of music on my external harddisk (thanks so much for bringing that over Dave, life saver). My love affair with my 80gb Ipod continues without end, and I can't quite get over how long I held out on getting one - I should have invested in it years ago! My head continues to overflow with a ridiculous number of blogs and podcasts on current affairs that I try to read and listen to at work, to the point of overload sometimes I must confess. Whilst I miss the UK, England, my friends and my family a lot, I'm fascinated by just how easy it is to keep a finger on the pulse of British life through various online things - the Newsnight pod cast being probably my single favourite flavour from home - Jeremy Paxman rules :)
I'm a bit down at the moment because my finger basically still isn't really improving at all, and despite all the exercises and therapy (and money) I keep throwing at the problem, there doesn't really seem to be any realistic prospect of improvement. So its a little depressing at times to think that I'm going to have this constant pain in my hand for, oh,, the remainder of my natural life (another 60 odd years?). I try to not let it get to me, but sometimes its really tough to control the frustration. As ridiculous as it sounds, I've started to read some texts on Buddhism, and I think there is a tremendous amount of truth and wisdom in it, which I'm finding very helpful in exploring this side of life, and crafting some meaning out of something that continues to weigh so heavily on my shoulders.
Anyway! That sounds kind of bit too down, so lets catch up on what I've been doing. Well, most recently and excitingly, I did a five day trip to Tasmania to check it out. Me and my house mate Florent, plus two additional Frenchies, Jean-Mi and Guillaume, flew into Hobart and hired a car to explore this very wild and rugged bit of Australia. I'll post a few pictures below for you to get a taste, but you can check the full collection of the trip in Facebook, here, here, and here. In many ways, the place reminded me of parts of Scotland, the Lake District, Ireland and New Zealand. Its a pretty remote place, and we stayed in some really very small and remote places - the main thing you do out here is go hiking and walking in the national parks, and we certainly got our fair share of that done - we did a minimum of 3-4 hours a day, and even managed an epic 6 hours of hiking on the final day in the amazing Cradle Mountain National Park (see the final pictures - it only gets 1 day of sunshine out of 10, so we were pretty pleased to get such great weather!). Besides all the walking (and driving) we got to eat a whole lot of very good fresh fish and sea food, which was obviously a great treat - and whilst I'm still not too keen on the whole oyster thing, the fish was excellent and I'm always game to try something, if only once. We also managed to find a great little whisky distillery, which me and Jean-Mi made good use of in trying a whole range of different spirits.
In all, it was a great trip, and I'd thoroughly recommend it - though maybe more in the summer time, when you might get some sunshine :) Still, I can't complain at all! Okay, well its 7.11pm, so I think I'll make a move and head on home now, but I'm thinking of you all, wish I could be with you for just a while, or you here to share some of the great things I love about Australia and this city, so get in touch, drop me a message, an email or a text and tell me what your up to!
p.s. Dave, sign up to Facebook. Don't argue about it, just do it. And no, its not Myspace for old people.
Tuesday, 17 April 2007
Hello there again! I know I posted some of these pics on Facebook already, so I dare say most of you guys will have had a chance to look at them already - and for those of you not on facebook yet, go check it out! Its a great way to share photos and keep in touch with people, and this from someone who normally hates these kinds of social networking sites. From a geeky IT industry worker perspective, its a really very interesting company - the guy who owns it apparently turned down something like $980m to sell it!
So, a week and a bit ago I went down to Melbourne, as we had a long four day weekend and I thought, what the hell, it would be great to check out somewhere new (can you believe I've been in Sydney for about six months now?). So, I went down with my housemate Chrissy and a few of her friends - a 10 hour or so car drive, but really not that much in a country as big as Australia - its so damn big you hardly even realise just how long your driving for or how far you've gone, its all so similar, big, flat rolling prairie land or bush mostly.
I stayed with my friend Martin who I met in the hostel I stayed at when I was in Barcelona, and he very kindly offered me his sofa if I ever made it down to Melbourne. Unfortunately I picked up a nasty cold on the way down (typical hu, go on holiday, get sick!) so it was kind of frustrating, but I still had a great time - checked out Queen Elizabeth Market, went to see all kinds of Australian artists at the Ian Potter Centre of the National Gallery of Victoria, walked along the Yarra River, saw China Town and the suburb of Fitzroy and of course, checked out the bars and clubs (the heart of the Melbourne social secene, don't you know).
Overall, its a great city and I can see why people rate it as so liveable, but really for me, it was just too small - the down town area really is tiny - and I don't think I could rate it as attractive as Sydney, not with the harbour and beaches :) I guess I'm a Sydneysider already! Anyway, enjoy! I continue to check my ClustrMap with interest - got some Midwestern US vistors and a few Swedes I see, and who's from the North of England?
Well, this was actually from a few weeks back, but I have had the opportunity to put these pics up until now. This was a great game that I went to see with my friends Winston, his girlfriend, Matt and one of his mates - we saw Sydney FC vs the Arawa Reds from Japan, complete with crazed Japanese fans. I mean, seriously, these guys were jumping up and down, banging drums, waving huge flags and doing coordinated dances and chants for the full 90 minutes! Great evening, and a lot of fun.