Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

Friday 24 September 2010

Friday 18 June 2010

Australia Adventures: 13. Kickin ' up Cairns and Last Train from Kuranda

Last time I was reporting of my adventures in the Land of Oz I was in Port Douglas. Pretty place to hang for a bit....



Strange things you find in hostels....

Having not spending much time in Cairns when I arrived there the first time back in April, I ventured back there and into the Aboriginal Rainforest Regions of Kuranda on a skyrail flying over the beautiful rainforest. 'The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway' is one of the world's longest cableways stretching 7.5 kms over North Queensland's Tropical Rainforest to the cute village of Kuranda, nestled amongst the cocoon of the tropical rainforest - spectacular!




Yeah that little black shadow blob in the middle there....yeah thats me
Upon descending at Kuranda after gliding for 90 minutes over the rainforest, the village itself sprawls out throbbing with quaint, eco market stalls as 'Boots' and I trudged around the aura of friendly locals - but of course very touristy as it provides a great day tripper for travellers from Cairns.  
I then took up a visit to a Rainforestation Park, which again is an enormous tourist park where I got better acquainted with some Aussie Wildlife Locals......




yeah not the smartest idea....

Riding in Army Ducks through the rainforest with a 'true blue' Aussie guide (they're really cool, they drive on land and then plunge into water and drive like a boat)




The highlight of my trip to Kuranda was witnessing a male Aborigine ceremonial dance performance which was very different to anything I'd seen before, which paid homage to the dream time stories and native Australian animals that different Aborigine skin names hold so sacredly. They even made fire in less than ten they know how to survive. They later took us outside to give us a spear throwing, boomerang and primal hunting demonstrations - woowww!!!! watching six boomerangs being thrown at once swivelling through the air was incredible to watch. I decided to take a more adventurous way back into Cairns by walking down to the pretty little Kuranda station to find a traditional old steam train waiting for me how cute!

The Kuranda Scenic Railway took me 34km winding through the tranquil picturesque mountains and rainforest (waterfalls!) back to the cement, iron world of Cairns with the wind rippling through my way as we roared back into the city welcomed by the friendly waves of passer-bys who were all so familiar with the train passing through daily. Great Train Journey - highly recommend it. 

I was taken by the reef so much after visiting it off Cape Tribulation that I attended a marine school for a day back in Cairns being lectured about the World of The Great Barrier Reef (Do you know that Dory is actually a dangerous fish from Finding Nemo? No!)

Until next time....

With Lonely Planet Travel Guide Australia

Saturday 29 May 2010

Australia Adventures: 10. Dreamin' Avocados, Livin' as a Tourist Attraction and My One Trick Pony (well...Horse)

G'Day Everybody!



Its been a while since I've been near a computer as I've been way out here getting grubby and dirty in the country.

Well for the past weeks I have been working on Avocado farms in a small town called Kairi outside of Atherton in the Tablelands of Tropical Northern Queensland. The town is the complete reverse of life as I am used to in London with it consisting of one road with a pub and a shop....thats it.


The job at the first farm I was initially working for packing avocados into boxes only lasted 2 weeks which wasn't going to be enough funds to get me up to Rainforest and to The Great Barrier Reef so I had to come up with a contingency plan which are really helpful to have on the road when you get unpredictable curve balls like this.

I moved into the Kairi pub manned by a jittery old Aussie bloke named Finn who sat in the laundry room drinking 'XXXX Lager' or 'Toohey's New' the popular Queensland drink in a small bottle 'Stubbie' (contrary to what the outside world thinks, Aussie's don't drink 'Fosters'). The word 'Bloody' over here is used in pretty much most sentences which makes no one utter in disgust as a curse word - even on the beer labels the serving instructions tell you to serve it 'Bloody Cold' ha!

The pub was extremely cheap rent, a tip off I got from another backpacker picking Avocados at my last farm and borrowed one of the locals scooters to cruise around the surrounding potato, peanut and 'Avo' farms that were in season asking for work to the drawling farmers telling me to go somewhere else. I survived nibbling on the corn from the fields and of course on free avocados and faced getting chased by dogs and spooking out rock wallabies in the grass.




Fate smiled on me and I eventually landed myself another job on a neighbouring Avocado farm where the farmer I was working for lent me a bicycle from his family shed so I could get to the farm and didn't leave me totally anchored at the pub. The farmlands were beautiful cycling through them at sunset after work. It was a godsend and with that and my scooter I occasionally borrowed, 'Boots' and I could take some adventures exploring across the farmlands and down to the enormous artificial Lake Tinaroo



A cute thing I have noticed out here in the Australian country is that farmers families harvest their crops and then sell them in a little shack on the roadside with an 'honesty' system where passerbys donate a few dollars in a money box in exchange for a bag of avocados or paw paws. How sweet! can't imagine it happening in London, but the mentality of folk are refreshingly honest and different out here. My boss' son Joel made it his own little business with his dads Avocados and I always found it charming passing his little stall on the roadside after I'd finished work offering a bag of Avos for $2. Bargain.


It has been a far more authentic experience for me living with the locals than living in a backpackers in Atherton or in the city beause I was seeing the 'real' australia - living and drinking (kind of hard not to when you live in a pub) with the small town local characters playing dart and pool against them and in theory treated as one of them (even though at times I did feel quite a tourist attraction being the only girl aside from mature Margy the barmaid in that pub for a long time, you have to tolerate quite a bit) I've come to know everyones dog here as all Aussie farmers have a faithful friend - this one is Schooner who's a regular and is happy to give you a high five...


And some that like to drop by too...


As I was such a 'nice pommie girl in gum boots' 'Boots' were put to good use as we were treated to motorbike rides into the Queensland hills, fishing outings, swimming in the lakes and the Millaa Waterfalls, and an aboriginal led Rainforest walk by a member of the Ngadjonji Aborigine community in Malanda. Most names of places have a very evident and distinct Aborigine influence here - Yungaburra, Malanda, Millaa....kinda cool.
You know I thought there were things out in the Amazon rainforest which were bad but in the Australian Rainforests up here in the tropics, there is a certain type of plant called a 'Stinging Tree' which is pretty much a no brainer for most people. Well they are this small stemmed plant with a heart shape and jagged edges, if touched the folicules from the leaves getting under your skins and cause a rash and burning pain - yikes!





spying a very rare 'Tree Kangaroo'...I was so lucky to see one because they are not out and about often.


Of course, I've had to keep myself entertained in the pub too and was asked to join the towns pool team and travelled around the Tablelands playing pool against other towns which was great excuse to go see other places and meet more Australian folk - besides I was the only 'Shiela' too! I even played against the native Aborigines which was quite a highlight for me - and perfected my house of coaster card building record too of course.....can even hold a stubbie of Cider


Queensland is a beautiful part of Australia, my favourite so far. Just when I found myself starting to dream about Avocados after a month or so, the market for them went down - they weren't selling enough so there was no need to harvest them anymore. I alternately stayed at the pub and started washing farmers cars and even their dogs (would you believe) while they came in to have a drink and cleaning locals houses and sheds for money - some were very generous but not so keen on washing cars anymore! I also helped collect firewood from farms and cut them for the fire and helped out in the pubs restaurant at night in exchange for my rent. So I've been working as the Aussies say 'Bloody hard!'

There is definitely some interesting people living in pubs why they are there, how they got there - many of them alcoholics! but usually if you advertise the fact you need a job, many people will try and give you some leads. Its the kindness of human nature.
Every year, the Australian Sporting World erupts with competitive aggression for something very poignant in their Sporting Calendar called the 'State of Origin' rugby game which is like the World Cup here in Oz. Its an iconic showdown on the rugby pitch in a series of matches between the states of Queensland and New South Wales which the whole town gets into. Being in Queensland I had to go with supporting the 'Cane Toads' and it was a great match to watch for the first time in the Kairi pub with the locals especially because Queensland won.

To finish off this blog I also had my own horse up here...very random I know and this is something I always wanted as a little girl as I love horses. He's not really mine in theory - a 6 year Clydesdale named Pablo, he's gorgeous but doesn't get ridden much by the guy who keeps him in his boatyard and offered me to come and treat him like my own. I've been learning to ride him bareback but he hasn't been ridden in a long time so he's very lazy but I love him. Horses are much more accessible here than they are in the snooty Equestrian world of England where your mother needs to be in the Pony Club....ok bit of an exaggeration but still I can have him all to myself.


But as life is going on, the snowball affect of sadness will be rolling as now its time to play so 'Boots' and I will be saying goodbye in a couple of days and will be leaving the sleepy town of Kairi and the quirky Aussie characters behind to embark on the next stage of my travels up through the Daintree Rainforest enroute to Cape Tribulation and out to the Marine paradise of the The Great Barrier Reef...


 Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!

See ya

With Lonely Planet Travel Guide - Australia 

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Australia Adventures: 7. Major Wet Weekend, The Olympic Stadium and Meeting Godzilla!

I wanting to spend too much time in Sydney, my buddy Tahlz from summer camp put me up in her place in the suburbs of Sydney and offered to accompany me in visiting some highlights of the city even though it was atrocious weather. We got lost driving up to sample the buttery Northern Beaches still in the stormy rain (I seem to have ruined Sydney's summer) to show me ‘Summer Bay’ home of the Aussie Sitcom rival to Neighbours ‘Home and Away’ (I actually preferred Home and Away as a school girl) it wasn't exactly 'Summer Bay' that day anyway. You find some funky things on beaches though - I love them, when there's nobody there.


Not so Summer Bay

Not so Summer Bay

Returning to the city, Tahlz knew I was a sports fan and kindly whisked me over to the Olympic Park which staged the 2000 Summer Olympic Games when I was a wee 18 year old school girl. It was pretty magical to look out onto the Stadium where I had been glued to watching all the Athletic events ten years previously. The tour also included a peek inside the dressing room where the 2004 Rugby World Cup final was played so I took a seat in Jonny Wilkinson's cubicle....he didn't mind

Mmmmm they do spoil you in the Rocks....


Mmmmm they do spoil you in the Rocks....

'The Rocks' is a popular, quaint and charming little area of Sydney which is like the trendy place to hang out. Tahlz took me to a really popular pancake restaurant in The Rocks, something like 'Pancakes on The Rocks' or something like that. But boy, the pancakes were divine....I never will have another one again.
Now what else can you do on a rainy day in Sydney? well there's the Wildlife World and the Aquarium and guess what there was a 2 for 1 deal so we could go to both, how lucky to come on such a day. So off we trotted to spy some more Aussie animal friends which I think would have left Tahlz yawning at my eagerness to the Southern Hemisphere species spying the Red Kangaroo, a baby Koala (which I didn't get to hold booo) and the biggest crocodile I have ever seen in my life GODZILLA woah! seriously Australia's not for the faint hearted folk and in fact has the most venomous snake, spider, bird being the exotic turkey looking 'Cassowary', fish, octopus and something else.




Funky Aboriginal Kangaroos

Funky Aboriginal Kangaroos

Now the Sydney Aquarium, that's a treat walking through underwater glass tunnels amongst the daily life of Oz's rich and diverse marine life. Wow! quite a kaleidoscope of colours, oozing tropicano - its magical. I faced the introduction of the 'Dugong' on my 'I Spy Animals of the World' book - a real gem of Australia. They are adorable, nicknamed the 'Sea Cow' and 'Mermaids' (I couldn't really see their likeness to 'Ariel' the Disney mermaid though) and look very much like walruses....see for yourself


Speaking of Disney, it was very evident where Disney had got their inspiration for the cast of 'Finding Nemo' (that film did wonders for sea life) coming across the stars themselves in
the favourites the Blue Tang very cool fish complete with a spike in the tail



                                                  Is that Nemo and Dory?

Not forgetting the forboding presence of the sinister Sharks, smirking at us with that jagged smile of theirs and the flashy jellyfish (which are actually really dangerous here), not forgetting the cool as a cucumber curious sea turtle checking us out. I cannot wait to get out into the Great Barrier Reef...


Sea life...all out to serve eachother, nice shady spot fishies???
Sea life...all out to serve eachother, nice shady spot fishies???

My money is now zapped and gotta get out the city, so see you next time from where the footsteps will be going...

With Lonely Planet Travel Guide Australia