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Gympie

5 Apr

We decided to make the best use of the car we were leant and go and visit our trainer from Visitoz, Rance. Despite a few wrong turns the day before (getting barged off the M1 as I ended up in an exit lane and couldn’t get back on it), it all ended up ok as this was on the slip road back onto the motorway

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…and that meant MARMITE. Our supply ran out months ago so we were really pleased to find it here and stocked up. We have researched Marmite supply in New Zealand (this was one of the first things we checked) and were happy to find out that it is sold there…however ‘Marmite’ there is made in NZ and to a different recipe (the second ingredient is sugar, ew) but we can get real Marmite but it is called My Mate. We have learnt the hard way to avoid Vegemite, and the less said about Promite and Cheesymite the better. We do feel we’ll get on with the Kiwis as their ‘Marmite’ factory had to shut down for 2 years following the earthquake there and they referred to this as ‘Marmageddon’. I think we’ll be friends.

Anyway, we decided to drive to Gympie (a mere three hours away, a titchy drive by Aussie standards) to see Rance. The journey went well although it never fails to scare me driving on Australian motorways as undertaking is absolutely fine, so you get people trying to cut in from both sides and also the road trains (up to three lorries joined together with 56 wheels, not something you argue with) are not speed restricted in the same way the lorries are in the UK, so the thunder on past at 30km above the speed limit whilst your little car shakes…but we passed the time by trying to pronouce all the Aussie towns’ names. It looks like someone has taken English words and added about nine million vowels – Diddlibah, Caloolahbah, Squigglywigglyloolahagangalangoomerigigaligoolamoo…it was quite fun. If Countdown allowed proper nouns, Aussies would win hands down.

But after the main stretch on the M1, we came to gorgeous scenery near the Mary River

Mary valley

and the drive became much more relaxing. We checked into the Royal Hotel in Gympie so not to have to drive all the way back in the same day and explored the little town, which was lovely and quaint. Immaculately kept and very pretty. After a nice lunch in the Old Brown Jug cafe, we drove up to Rance’s house to say hello.

Rance Goodluck (you couldn’t make it up!) was our trainer on the Visitoz course we did in preparation for station work in the Outback. He was a fantastic teacher and made our experience in Alice Springs so much better as everything he said came in handy on a daily basis. This man has mustered everything from wild horses (himself on horseback) to ostriches and has broken nearly every bone in his body doing so. To say he has some interesting stories is doing him a disservice…we could and did listen to him for hours. He took the time to explain everything and to make sure it had gone in, and made it funny and engaging at the same time. We wanted to see him again to tell him about our experiences and how useful his advice had been to us. We met him at his old Queenslander house just outside Gympie in the rolling countryside and spent an hour or two swapping “war stories” as he would say. It was lovely to see him and he seemed very pleased we’d popped in to say hello.

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Rance Goodluck: a true Aussie legend. “Unnnnnnnnnnnnnreal”.

We drove back to Gympie and ate an enormous tea at the hotel and then went up to our room where a combination of a food coma and an incredibly comfortable bed hit us and we went to sleep about 8pm :I

We had planned to do a horse trek the next day but we were put off by the fact it was expensive and when we woke up, it was tipping it down. Rance had told us there was good fishing up at Tin Can Bay so we decided to take a small detour up there and drove the 40km through the forests to find the weather was just as bad, it was blowing a gale and the tide was going out. We got out of the car, hair horizontal, took a solitary picture

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…and looked at each other, said “yep, that was nice” and immediately got back in the car for the return journey, 40 km back again!

We thought it would be nice to take the scenic route down the 6 along the Sunshine Coast rather than spend all the time on the motorway. When we got to Noosaville, we were feeling that the Sunshine Coast was somewhat missold

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But it soon cleared up and we had a nice drive with the beaches to our left until we hit the M1 again…we saw the castle cafe and decided that anywhere that had a fake castle and a dinosaur on the roof was our kind of place but unfortunately they wanted $14 just to go into the cafe so we dejectedly gave it a miss

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Suddenly the torrential rain started again and the road, sky and the cars we were following disappeared. We ducked into the services to try and miss the worst of it as it was genuinely scary, ate a Subway and then set off again. Thankfully the weather cleared up again and we got back in one piece.

Then it was a mental packing/cleaning/saying goodbye marathon – we had to pop into Lorraine and Jake’s as Lorraine has just lost her mum and it would have been so nice to be there for her for the funeral etc but sadly we have to go where the work is. We’ve seen them a couple of times since we’ve been back which has been nice despite things, but hopefully they can pop over to NZ to see us later on in the year.

So all that’s left to do is make sure the house is ok, say goodbye to Winchester (I’ll write to you every day) and get to the airport at 5am tomorrow. Excited!

 

Brisvegas baby!

3 Apr

Got back to Brizzie at 11.30pm having gone via Perth (the most economical route – going allllllll the way down South and then allllllllllll the way across the entire country, makes sense!). Our foster cat, Winchester, who technically lives next door but whose heart clearly belongs to us showed up to say hello in his cranky “mraaaaak” voice that we love. He’s clearly missed us

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The way I feel about Winchester assures me I will make an excellent mother.

We have been very, very lazy for the last few days – a combination of not wanting to spend money whilst we’re not earning and the pleasure of being able to do absolutely nothing if we felt like it – but we did walk to Manly (via Lota, it’s clearly been a long time and our internal satnav has gone haywire) to see my step-dad’s parents which was a nice afternoon. So was the fact they insisted on giving us a lift home, saving us a two hour walk :)

We therefore felt it was time to peel ourselves off the sofa and watching reruns of ‘Biggest Loser Australia’ (which we were in shocking danger of being in need to be on) so, as our friend Daniel had lent us a car, we decided to visit Brisbane Sculpture Park on the recommendation of a friend. It was a bit nerve-wracking as it’s a manual car and I haven’t driven a manual for ten years (bar a few months in a ute in Alice, a totally different beast), but a few over-revs aside, it was alright. We got to the ‘sculpture park’ to find it was an artist’s house which he used to sell his sculptures and you had to make an appointment beforehand so we binned that idea and took a drive into the Tamborine mountains. These were ridiculously gorgeous – rainforests and wild flowers everywhere. Despite Craig’s enthusiasm to go hang gliding, my chronic fear of heights got the better of me and we went to the skywalk through the rainforest instead. “Ooooh look at that down there!” Through gritted teeth: “Ooooh that’s lovely!” “You probably need to open your eyes to see that” “I’m OK thanks!”

I do not enjoy how much Craig is enjoying my pain here

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Then it was off to the botanical gardens close by

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which were stunning although we’d obviously just missed their main flowering season. Worth a visit all the same.

After that, we decided to top off our Day of Fun with a visit to the glow worm caves. Sadly they don’t let you take pictures but it was amazing – 3,500 glow worms in pitch black, in little bunches like constellations (a sneaky trick to make flies think they’re flying towards the sky until they get stuck in the worms’ little sticky web-like things they produce). Apparently there’s a big population of them in NZ in the wild so will hopefully be able to get some good pictures there.

Talking of which, after being in limbo for two weeks whilst things like UK references were sorted out navigating a thirteen hour time difference and a ‘breach of privacy’ from the company I’ve applied for which has resulted in their IT systems being shut down, I finally got the news that I have got the job! Comparable money to what I was on in the UK, HOLIDAY PAY and 9-5. So although it means going back to the office, it will enable us to save up some cash before going home.

Next chapter in our Big Book of Adventures: Wellington

Wellington

Might have to change the name of the blog…

 

Bye bye Broome…Broome bye bye

3 Apr

Well that was irritating…went to publish a post and WordPress deleted half of it so here’s take two…

Finally finished my housekeeping job with only a few days to go. I will not miss it one tiny bit – scrubbing blood off walls, playing Poo Roulette in the gents’ toilet (“what’s behind door number three?”), picking up guests’ pants that were too dirty for them to take with them and sweating from my hair follicles down. A hard, hot and dirty job. If I ever stay in a hotel again I will definitely be tipping the cleaners!

I also finished at the pub later on so had a few days to sort everything out and relax a bit, although not before St Patrick’s Day

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So after Craig finished his work, the last few days were spent saying goodbye to all our lovely friends which seemed to involve a lot of barbeques and beer (they are Aussie after all…). Despite how difficult it was doing two jobs six days a week – or in Craig’s case doing five 5am starts each week – we did have a good time there and met some great people, enjoyed the beautiful scenery and can officially say we did a full wet season in the Tropics – something no one should have to endure :)

Sights like this do endear you to a place somewhat

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And all the cycling to the jobs and working has had a good effect as I am 22 pounds lighter than I was when I got to Australia (give or take a few, see above re: beer and barbeques). Craig laughs because I have a spreadsheet tracking my weight with five different measurements and a line graph…but whatever keeps you motivated I say! I do love a good graph

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I am my father’s daughter.

So all too soon it was time to get on the plane to Brisbane and back to shops, traffic, civilisation and less than 100% humidity and say goodbye to our home for the last six months

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Bye Broome!

Cyclones, Valentine’s Day and a something resembling a plan

14 Mar

Another month of working hard and being hot (possibly not in that order) has drifted by and we find ourselves nearly at the end of our time in Broome. Aside from all the work, there have been a couple of interesting things that have happened recently – the first was Valentine’s Day, which was lovely as we actually got to spend some time with each as we’ve been like ships in the night…Craig leaves before I get up, I leave for job number 2 before he gets home and then he’s in bed before I get back in the evening. So it was good to see him and have a meal together…at the pub where I work because we get 50% off, needs must! However, I can’t doubt Craig’s true feelings towards me as I got home from work the other day and found the last of the pork crackling from our housemates’ roast in the fridge

If that doesn’t equal true love, I don’t know what does.

Craig’s Valentines raspberry upside down cake I made for him

Of course the other thing that happened was Severe Tropical Cyclone Rusty. I was incredibly excited, not having experienced a cyclone before, and was shamefully actively hoping it might hit near us (obviously not for it to smash straight into Broome but somewhere near would have been fine!) but sadly it veered off South and decided to hit the tiny community of Pardoo instead. As far as I know everyone there is fine. Broome was on ‘blue alert’ for a few days so everyone went to Woolies and literally cleared their shelves of tinned food and bottled water (and later, veggies and bread when the road from Perth was closed and they didn’t have any deliveries), cleared up all the junk in their gardens, took down their shade cloths etc and battened down the hatches, crossing all fingers and toes for a yellow alert as that means everyone has to go home to prepare, also known as a DAY OFF WORK. That didn’t happen so it was business as usual, albeit business as usual in torrential rain and wind as although Rusty didn’t directly hit us, we were only 400km away so still felt the sting in it’s tail. Winds of up to 90km per hour were felt, trees came down and it rained for a week.

So cycling to work and back was ultra fun and so was running room service at the hotel – coming back in behind the bar absolutely drenched. For the entire week, I don’t think I was 100% dry at any one time. However, the rain and wind meant the temperatures were not blistering as usual so it was actually a welcome change. Obviously things have calmed down now so when I looked at the temperature at 9am this morning the ‘feels like’ temp (factoring in the humidity) was 42.2 degrees.

Having basically just worked and slept for the last few months, we decided to go and do some nice touristy stuff whilst the weather was less mental so borrowed our housemates’ car and drove to the crocodile park just outside of town.

Whilst we waited for the rain to stop a bit, I held a very cute black-headed python – or rather it held me, snaking its snakey body all the way around my waist! – and a baby crocodile. Then we went off to throw chickens into one of the croc reserves – this one had around 70 adult males.

Some of the crocs who had not been brought up in the park were kept in seperate pens, lurking underneath the algae so you couldn’t see any part of them. When the keeper whacked a chicken down in front of the water, the crocodiles would leap out of the water and catch the chicken before it had hit the ground. One of the crocodiles was 5m long and enormous. We were slightly worried about what would happen if the park flooded and all the maddest and baddest crocodiles from around the country (other croc parks ship their delinquent specimens to this one as they are better at handling them apparently!) floated over the fences and down into our bath taps?!

Talking of mad and bad, this little bluetongue lizard was neither of these things

Kym caught him and Tanya and I fed him slices of banana which he happily chomped his way through. Very sweet.

We chomped our way through kangaroo steaks for tea – not sure this is exactly traditional Aussie fare but it turns out teriyaki kangaroo was actually lovely!

We booked our flights to Brisbane for 25th March (six months nearly to the day we arrived in Broome so we can get a portion of our tax paid back, yay!) and have been scratching our heads as to what to do next, as discussed in the last post. Going home to see family and friends is something we obviously were looking forward to, but seeing as the financial news is so dire, although we have saved up a fair amount of cash in Oz, it would not be enough to live on for any length of time whilst we searched for jobs (a process that in my case took 6 months in 2008, never mind now!). Besides, we want to do something amazing with the money, like set up our own business, not use it to buy food and boring things like that. So we looked into where else we could work and New Zealand popped up as also having a working holiday scheme.

All of New Zealand looks like this – FACT.

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We were sold. Unfortunately this means we won’t be home soon friends and family, but hopefully it will mean that we won’t need to ask to live on your floor when we do get back! Sadly, Craig’s too ancient to get a working holiday visa so after some frantic googling, I found another visa that he could apply for with only two downsides: it was £500 and you had to be in England to get it. Why I asked…because we have to post your passport back to an English address. Ah-ha! So Craig’s passport was popped into the post for its journey round the world and back again (Mum’s going to post it back to us here) – it’ll be more travelled than us when it gets back! – and Craig was put under strict instructions not to get into any trouble whilst we were as he was now abroad and passport-less! We got the great news today that his visa has been issued, now it’s just a race for it to get to Mum’s, for her to post it, and then receive it in Broome before we fly in 11 days. If it doesn’t come, Craig’ll have to wait for another few days whilst I go back to Brizzie to save both of us from having to change our flights and incur more costs.

So we are very excited about the next stage of our trip. NZ particularly appeals as it’s coming into their winter and they get Properly Cold, so that means we can finally pack the shorts and teeshirts we’ve lived in for the last six months away and wrap up warm, something we haven’t done in FOURTEEN MONTHS. Insanity. We might even get snow!!! Also, as Aussie jobs pay more, Kiwis are moving over here so there appear to be plenty of jobs around for both of us. I have a skype interview for a job in Wellington on Monday so fingers crossed…and there seem to be quite a few tradie jobs for Craig to do dotted about the place so hopefully we’ll both be earning. We will also get taxed less as NZ don’t have a ‘foreigner tax’ like Oz, so should be easier to save…oh, and its gorgeous and I’ve heard its teeming with hobbitses so expect lots of pictures soon. Never fear photography fans, me and my camera lead which I left in Brisbane will soon be reunited so the quality of the pics on the blog will increase substantially!

Australia Day

27 Jan

I worked in the morning of Australia Day but my boss let me off doing one of the rooms as she said that I should really be drinking beer on Australia Day instead of working, and who am I to argue? Our housemates have recently bought a boat so they decided to take us out in it to mark the holiday – loaded up the esky with ice and beers (although we took Thai beer, it’s nicer and it’s cheap – heresy!), packed the barbie and ‘snags’ – sausages, nope doesn’t make sense to me either – and fishing rods and went off to Town Beach. Despite studying the tide times all day (maybe with his eyes closed) :), our housemate Kym found that we still had a little time to wait when we got there

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Never mind, great excuse for a beer.

It didn’t take too long for the tide to come in so we were soon afloat and we drifted off towards Town Beach, so that we could watch the fireworks that were being set off from a boat in the sea. We had the best view

The fireworks went on for about half an hour and looked beautiful reflecting off the water. There was a live band on before that which we could hear so we were sorted for entertainment – as well as Kym catching a massive fish which leapt from his hands into the frying pan we were cooking the sausages on! Stuck him in the esky for tea another night. Poor thing.

Ate our sausages, burger and fried onions and listened to the sound of the water lapping against the side of the boat. A great Australia Day and quite possibly the most Aussie experience ever! Just need to stop squealing when giant bugs fly in my face, stop complaining about the weather and refuse to drink beer that is anything warmer than 1 degree and they’ll be practically handing us our residency papers.

The wet season finally arrives

20 Jan

We got woken up to the mother of all thunderstorms at 3 am this morning. It sounded like the roof had collapsed it was so loud. We drew back the curtains to watch the lightening from bed (sleep was impossible – it even woke me up and I sleep with earplugs in!) and looked on as the sky lit up and the thunder kept on crashing for another hour or so. Though I could have done with the extra sleep, at least the morning was blissfully cool so work was less of a chore.

We went food shopping on the bikes this afternoon and came out just in time for the rain to start again…this time it was properly raining. We had a look at the weather radar – something people here do regularly! – which shows it’s a storm that is over 100 km wide…Broome is right in the middle:

So although it’s stopped hammering us with thunder, it’s still raining and as the streets here don’t have drains, our road quickly turned into a river

And what do you do if you live next to a river?

Awesome. It is now 24.3 degrees, the coolest temp we’ve been in since the desert nights in Alice Springs back in July, Aussie winter. Still probably sounds hot to everyone in the UK – thanks for the snow pics by the way! – but a drop of twenty degrees since the beginning of the week is just amazing. Looking forward to cycling/swimming to work in an hour…

How to get home?

14 Jan

…Craig’s just decided we should drive from somewhere else in the world back to the UK. After all of 6 seconds spent persuading me, I agreed (god damn you Jim Beam)…although Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq are vetoed for obvious (“boring” according to Craig) reasons. So we are now considering our route, which Craig declares “requires more booze”. Where can I hide my credit card so I don’t wake up tomorrow to find we’ve booked some ridiculous journey or bought some clapped out old banger on ebay to get home in?! The vegetable drawer in the fridge??

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Christmas, NY and a whole lot of work

13 Jan

Christmas and New Year pretty much passed us by – it just felt wrong having them in summer time! We had a barbie for tea on Christmas Day

and a long-staying guest at my hotel bought me a bottle of Baileys so that served as lunch and then watched the utter rubbish that was on tv (any good programmes here go on the Aussie equivalent of Sky so all the free channels are left with are reruns of To the Manor Born and Doctors. Dire!). There was an amazing electrical storm out to sea when we popped to my friend’s house for a drink though. New Years was spent in much the same way – when a pint costs $10 in a pub – £6.50 – and you only earn $350 a week, going out loses much of its appeal as after rent and food, $10 is pretty much all we have left! Craig marked our two year anniversary which falls on New Year’s Eve in typically romantic fashion by falling asleep at about 9pm so I watched Sydney’s fireworks (they’re two hours ahead) by myself and then went to bed just after 10. Bah humbug.

Martin emailed from back home to say it is -5 in the mornings…whereas Broome has just had its hottest December since records began, with highs of 44 and an average night time temp of 27. Even the sea is 32 degrees all year round. ‘Hot’ has now become an emotion:

‘How are you?’

‘Hot.’

‘How are you feeling?’

‘Like I’m on fire.’

‘What do you want to do tonight?’

‘Sit in a bucket of ice water, in the freezer. Or die.’

Gets a bit repetitive after a while! I think it’ll be a shock to the system going home…at least the coldest part of their weather is pretty much over now but will have to stock up on woolly things just in case :) So with our physical work, lack of funds and the weather, Broome is turning into an excellent test of endurance. But once we’ve earned enough cash and stayed put long enough to become Aussie residents for tax purposes (end of March – meaning instead of getting taxed at 32.5%…ouch…we get an $18k tax free allowance and then 22% on everything else, meaning we should get a nice refund when we leave Oz) we will finally be able to travel again. Getting up to go to work every day is hugely overrated and astonishingly, not something I have missed one tiny, tiny bit. But it does mean that when we get back to England we will hopefully not have to live in a box immediately so it will worth it in the end. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway as I scrub the loos.

As it’s the wet season here, there aren’t many tourists so I only spend 3-5 hours cleaning a day which doesn’t earn much so I got another job in a bar for the evenings. It’s an Oirish pub (or meant to be) so everyone who comes in asks me which part of Ireland I’m from…except the guy who said he liked my Dutch accent the other day! This has backfired slightly as the other girl I clean with is going to Melbourne for 6 weeks, meaning I clean the entire hotel by myself which can take 6-8 hours depending on how busy it is. Which leaves an hour to cycle home, have something to eat, shower for the nineteenth time that day – it’s a wonder I’ve got any skin left – and cycle in the opposite direction to the pub to begin another 4-8 hour shift. I am looking forward to the weight just dropping off me as a result of all this exertion! Our housemates lent us their car whilst they visited family in Perth for three weeks and it was absolute bliss not having to cycle everywhere. I think the first day we just drove round with the aircon on marvelling at how little time it took to get anywhere and going to twenty different places just because we could :)

Other than that, we’ve been plagued by monster bugs

…been catching fish (this is one of mine, my second fish in my whole life! Look how enormous he is!)

WOW! LOOK AT THE SIZE OF IT! He made a lovely fish finger. (He didn’t really, we chucked him back. It seemed like child abuse to eat him).

….playing lawn bowls as part of my work’s Christmas party

the lovely fools I work with!

…and enjoying the rain when it does finally come

It’s been an interesting week as there was a cyclone which for a while, looked like it might hit Broome (it didn’t, it hit further south). The nearby oil rigs all shut down and all the men who worked on them came to stay at the hotel where I work in the bar. They hadn’t been on dry land for a month so several of them got stuck into the beers despite knowing they could be called back the next morning. Oil rigs have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to alcohol – members of staff are breathalysed on the helipad before being flown back to the rigs. One person had alcohol in his blood and was sacked on the spot…from his $260,000 a year job. Hope that beer was worth it…

On Wednesday we will have been travelling for a whole year, which is an amazing thought.

NYE 2011

This time last year we were gathering up all our bags to get on the train to London to stay with Gemma and Joe for the last few days before our flight, tying up all the loose ends – or not!, saying goodbye to my lovely dog Holls and all our friends and family and trying not to burst with excitement. We were dressed in coats, hats, jumpers and boots and our bags were not woefully overstuffed like they are now :) We didn’t have a plan of where we were going, or how long we were going to go for, what we were going to do or when but looking back over this blog, we have had an awesome year despite being away our friends and family…we’ve done some amazing things, ate fantastic food, rescued a puppy, ridden elephants and camels, got food poisoning a rather extravagant number of times, met lovely people, worked hard, caught tropical diseases, put on weight, lost weight, drank Laolao with a dead lizard in it, nearly pickled ourselves in various different climates and temperatures and were real life cowboys for three months in the Outback. 2012 was our Year of Adventure…2013 is likely to be our Year of Bankruptcy and Harsh Reality, but we’re not quite ready for that yet. Please sir, can I have some more?

Ridiculously hot, beautiful, small Broome

22 Nov

So we knew we wanted to stay in Broome as we’d fallen in love with the beach and the feel of the place – only problem was that as of the next morning, our gorgeous shiny motorhome with all modcons would be gone and we’d be left with our backpacks and cowboy hats and that was about it. A quick google told us that hostels were out of the question – $60 a night for a private room? Really?? So we went back to the caravan site where we’d parked the van to weigh up our options. On our way through, Craig got chatting to the owner who said that he’d got a spare tent as it was left there by a girl who hadn’t come back, so we could borrow that if we wanted…and he had a table kicking about…and a bit of shade cloth to make things a bit cooler…and a double airbed and pump…and a couple of lights. He also pointed Craig in the direction of people who could help him find a job. Craig went to speak to one of those and came back to say he’d acquired a free esky and a couple of chairs that were going spare – and a potential job for me over the road at a hotel, cleaning rooms. What a result! So within a few hours, we’d gone from homeless to living in a massive 8 person tent

We put all our new furniture in it, went to get camping supplies and spent the first night not believing our luck! I got the hotel job which, although not a career plan, paid ok and was within a 2 min walk from the tent so that was pretty good. It was very hot work though – Broome is getting to 40 degrees plus most days so scrubbing, carring vacuum cleaners around and lugging 12kg linen bags around in that heat certainly made me redefine what the word ‘sweaty’ meant! My new favourite people are the environmental heathens who leave their aircon on all day – the highlight of my day! Craig got a job working at a billionaire’s house round the corner looking after the 13 acre gardens (also hot work being outside all day). However, after a few weeks, it became apparent that living in a tent and sleeping were two mutually exclusive things so we found a caravan site at the other end of town where you could rent cabins for not much more money (really caravans with one side cut off and an extension built on it – but it had a kitchenette with proper oven, fridge/freezer, a proper bed, a tv, sofas and most importantly, lovely, lovely airconditioning. Oh, and a sea view!

When I saw that I made a sort of insane squealing noise that possibly broke all previous high-pitched records.

So moving over the other side of town meant we had to get bikes to get to work…there is a bus but it only goes every hour now it’s wet season and the sensible tourists leave the locals to get on with the insane heat/cyclone risk so we nipped into Broome Cycles and got ourselves a couple of bikes. So now instead of being content to exercise just at work, we cycle to work instead. The amount of water we drink is alarming.

Mum and Martin came for a visit for 3 days before heading back to Brisbane – it was very nice to see them both. I retained a stiff upper lip upon seeing my mum for the first time in 11 months and did definitely not bookend her visit by being a soggy sniffly mess at the airport. But short as the visit was, we managed to show them around Broome and had some nice meals, a couple of swims/jellyfish nibbles in the sea etc.

Broome is famous for pearls, being hot and having camels on Cable Beach. Every day at work, three trains of 16 or so camels would walk past me. When Mum and Martin were here we nipped into the camel shop in Chinatown (town? three streets!) and found a notice on the door to say they were looking for cameleers – looking after the camels, walking them to the beach, loading the tourists on for a ride and talking to the tourists about the camels. Suddenly, it became clear that being a cameleer was pretty much my Reason for My Existence and I put in an application and got a trial.

Part of the trial I did included a free camel ride

which was awesome – less rocky as riding the elephant in Thailand but I think this was mainly because they were going slowly. Some of the staff take them riding in the dunes and they said your legs hurt for days afterwards. So I passed the trial and got the job

but sadly it was not meant to be as Harley the camel booted me in the thigh three times whilst I was walking them down to the beach – it was so painful when he kicked me the first time I didn’t have time to think about taking avoidance action. So I hobbled into our house and poor Craig was confronted with a tearful bruised girl sniffling about something to do with camels. It took me about half an hour to calm down enough to tell him what happened. At least I can cross ‘being a cameleer’ off my search for the Reason for my Existence now though. God damn camels with their eight foot legs. Back to cleaning for me then!

Also crossed off this list is ‘being a nudist’. Craig and I went to explore the nudie beach the other day – walking past the wrinklies who weirdly seem to be the only ones confident enough to get their kit off, and yet, the ones you least want to see all of – and up to a secluded spot…not difficult as the beach is 22 km long and there were only four wrinklies on it in the first place. Got all our white bits out – a very weird feeling! – and went swimming and walked up and down the beach for hours…forgetting that suncream washes off in the sea. I also managed to drop my bikini bottoms somewhere so it was a good job I had my shorts with me too! When we got back my white bits were now very, very pink bits in quite uncomfortable places. Lesson learnt Australian sunshine, lesson learnt.

 

Road trip

22 Nov

And we went to find Cloe and Bridget, also freshly escaped from the station, to go and have drinks with to celebrate. We had a great night but a less good day afterwards…never mind, we now have INTERNET. So from our hostel bed we ordered brunch (ah Dominos, how I’ve missed you), delivered to the room door (ok that was a touch lazy), got a new job on a station in Hall’s Creek, WA off Gumtree.com.au, got my computer picked up to be fixed and called people in England. This is what the internet was invented for!

We didn’t need to be in Hall’s Creek for a week or so, and as Bridge and Cloe were driving up to Darwin which was kiiiind of on the way, we decided to join them. Another girl on the station had told us about rental relocations, where you drive a campervan back to the depot from wherever it’s been left by the previous one-way hirer, so we decided to investigate that. The guy from Hall’s Creek said he could pick us up in Broome, and by luck, there was a Britz campervan that needed driving back from Alice Springs to Broome the next day. We applied for it and got it – $5 for a four berth, brand new motorhome with shower, tv, loo, aircon, two double beds, fridge/freezer, oven…it was enormous and we could have easily have lived in there! Britz also threw in $250 towards the fuel, so it turned out to be cheaper than flying AND we got a week’s holiday. The only downside was that we did have to be in Broome in six days’ time or face a £1000 penalty so our epic week of driving 3000 km began :)

We set off first as we wouldn’t be able to go as fast as Cloe in her car, and stopped off at a little petrol station at Ti Tree (basically just a petrol station and a pub) to fill up where we saw this amazing sign

I’m still not sure what a grog yard is but now I definitely won’t be fighting in one.

We stopped off at a little (everything is little past Alice!) pub/caravan park only to be met with one of the unfriendliest people in the world. Everything was too much trouble for him – including providing water in the “caravan park”…basically a carparking space with a plug – to the point where he told us we were drinking in the wrong area and the bar needed to be kept free…considering we were the only customers this was a bit odd. We had craftily bought our own supply of beer from the supermarket in Alice anyway so we headed off for a beer and a dvd so we could get up early and leave Barrow Creek early so we could get plenty of driving in during the day time, before all the mental kangaroos and other animals start hopping about all over the road. Note to self, do not confuse these things ever again whilst cooking bacon. They look the same, but are in fact, very different

We eventually got overtaken by Clo in her car and met up in Mataranka, which we decided to use for our driving day off so we could explore the natural hot springs there. The campsite was set in a national park which was mainly rainforest – such a nice sight after miles and miles and miles and miles of red dust, bushfires and withered trees! The hot springs were amazing

Even if Craig did cry about not being able to see the bottom and the threat of crocodiles. What a baby.

It was lovely to see the girls again and chill out…after working so much at the station floating around in hot springs was bliss. But we had to get to Broome so after a day and two nights relaxing, we had to get going again. We had breakfast at Katherine, and then split up as the girls were off North to Darwin and we were going West to Broome. The road just went straight on for miles

but it was so good to have some time by ourselves and be back travelling again we really enjoyed it. We drove all through the mountains (with a short detour to a mine and back where I missed the turning…ooops) and to Kununurra where we saw the magic words “lakeside views” – yes please. Parked our van right by the lake and put this pic on facebook

…and within seconds was arranging to have a drink with the lovely Niall and Penny…two other people we worked with at the station! So although we’d travelled thousands of kilometres by this point, we hadn’t really left the farm at all :) Had a nice time with the guys and then left early in the morning again to get our final few days of driving done. This time we stopped at a free campsite along the road on top of a cliff and watched the sun setting over what seemed most of Australia with our little awning rolled out, our deckchairs and a beer thinking that we were possibly the luckiest people in the whole world. Whilst Craig made tea, I sat outside reading my book only to find a dingo about a metre and a half away in a bush, staring at me. Being the big bravey that I am, I courageously Got Craig who scared it off :)

Did our final leg of the journey to get to Broome, passing through Hall’s Creek. According to the sites we’d looked at, it looked like quite a big place but when we went through it there were about 6 houses. We enjoyed being on a remote station before but this was just ridiculous! We knew we wouldn’t be able to spend 3 months really in the middle of nowhere; the nearest town being 700 km away which is a bit far to drive on your day off. Luckily, the guy who we were going to work for hadn’t confirmed either way so we thought we’d call him once we got to Broome.

This bit of the journey was very boring as there was no radio reception, straight roads and nothing to look at. We invented an awesome game of cow-spotting called ‘Cow’…ok so imagination maybe isn’t our strong point…but by the time we’d finished with the rules (that ran onto three pages) and had finalised the ‘cemetery clause’ (the person on the other side to the cemetery has to shout “ALL YOUR COWS ARE BURIED!” and your opponent loses ALL THEIR COWS! OOOOOH THE DRAMA!, we realised we’d just pulled into Broome. Nuts.

However, this is what Broome looks like

we knew we’d made the right decision about Hall’s Creek. Goodbye outback, hello beach.