Pelicans

If there’s one thing I love about Australia it’s the wild life, it’s just so diverse and it’s everywhere, I feel like I see something new every week. And my favourite animal this week is the pelican.

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These birds are pretty massive, they almost look like some kind of modern day pterodactyl! I love it the way they stand side on to you, just staring at you through their big unblinking eye… although it is a bit weird.

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The first time I saw a pelican in Australia was while working on the farm in Blighty, NSW. Being about 4 hours away from the coast I was a bit confused! But apparently they turn up every year, around the start of winter, when the irrigation channels get drained and there’s lots of fish to be had.

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Now, travelling up the East Coast they’re almost as common as seagulls, although much less annoying. You’ll see them on the beaches or hanging around the inlets, patiently waiting for the fishermen to get back, as they know they’ll get some fish scraps.

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Pictures by Chris

 

Road Trip: Sydney to Newcastle

So this was it, we were leaving Sydney and heading towards Newcastle with not much more to guide us than a Lonely Planet book from 2009, which we’d had for a while but only just started using. I got into the habit of reading a few pages ahead as we went so if there was anything of interest, we wouldn’t miss it. But mainly what we were interested in was finding good surf beaches!

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Once out of Sydney we soon got off the highway and headed for the Bouddi National Park to check out the Central Coast. We spent the day exploring the beaches and stopped at Little Beach for a picnic on the sand. But with not much surf around we continued on to the town of Avoca, where although the waves looked a bit messy, there were plenty of surfers in the water showing it was possible.

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The Blue Mountains

After 4 days in Sydney Chris and I were looking forward to getting away from all the people and traffic by escaping to the Blue Mountains.

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We drove for 2 hours along the Great Western Highway before arriving at Katoomba, the chief town in the Blue Mountain area. I suppose I should have realised that, being so close to Sydney, the Blue Mountains wouldn’t have that isolated, middle of nowhere feel to it. But still, I was a bit surprised by the amount of work and money that must have gone into this huge motorway. As we turned off, it was hard to imagine we were right next to a national park.

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Please Don’t Rob Me

photoI love my campervan, and I love travelling this way. But shortly after buying our van Chris and I found it wasn’t the most secure. It seems any key, when inserted only halfway, can open the drivers door. And once I accidently started and drove the van with the wrong key. We tried a different lock barrel in the door but it was a dodgy lock too, maybe it’s an ‘old van thing’…

But as Chris pointed out, if someone really wants into our van a locked door won’t stop them, they’ll just smash the window the way they did with our car in New Zealand. I’ll never forget that day at Cape Reinga. We’d been away on an amazing two day hike. It was pissing down with rain but we arrived back at our car in high spirits, only to see broken glass all over the ground along with some of our discarded belongings. I felt sick.

So obviously sometimes it’s hard to relax when leaving the camper, especially after splashing out on two new surfboards. Everything in the world that I own and care about is in that van! And with the surfboards up on the roof racks it pretty much advertises ‘backpackers’. Continue reading

Operation Learn how to Surf

IMG_3896Oh my god it’s such a cliché. Lets go to Australia! Lets buy some surfboards! Lets learn how to surf! Well apparently I am that cliché. Although I have to defend myself a wee bit. I didn’t arrive in Australia and suddenly decide I’d take up surfing. It’s actually something I’ve wanted to do for years.

Back home in Northern Ireland there’s some pretty great surf beaches. And growing up, I’d usually take an annual trip up to the North Coast with a couple of mates to mess around in the ocean. We’d rent boards and maybe even get a lesson. But the problem is, you don’t learn how to surf in a day! So I’ve never really progressed.

I’ve been saying for years I want to be able to surf. And by that I don’t mean clumsily climbing to my feet on a broken wave. I want to be able to do it properly, at least to an intermediate level. I suppose I’ve just never really had the time. I was at school, then uni, and then doing ski seasons in New Zealand. But now here I am, in Australia, travelling, unemployed, thousands of beaches ahead of me, not a care in the world. Continue reading

Road Trip: The East Coast and a Detour to Canberra

Driving steeply downhill from the Snowy Mountains and heading towards the East Coast, it felt good. The air was quickly becoming milder and I decided I was pretty much over winter, I couldn’t wait for spring!

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We hit the East Coast for the first time at a little beach town called Tathra. Reaching the peak of a hill I could see the long curving bay below, surrounded by trees with cliffs in the distance. I felt excited to see the sea again and everything had a more sub tropical feel. Chris and I got out and went for a walk along the beach, the sand was golden and the water looked pretty inviting, still too cold though.

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Road Trip: Blighty to the Snowy Mountains

IMG_344611 Days ago Chris and I were still in Blighty, NSW. Being our last weekend there, it was pretty busy and non-stop. We cleaned our wee farm house top to bottom, squeezed all our belongings into our campervan, and said our goodbyes to friends, work colleagues, the dogs, cats, and cows. And after 6 months of working and living in the same place, just like that, we were gone. To be honest I was too excited about the thought of travelling again to feel too sad about leaving! And it didn’t take long to used to campervan living again. Once I got used to the colder living conditions, it was like I’d never stopped!IMG_0160

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Campervan Hardships

Travelling by campervan can be great. You’re free to explore and go where you want when you want, you have a portable bed and kitchen with you at all times, and overall it can be a lot of fun.

But travelling by campervan can also be hard, especially if you’re determined to freedom camp. I’m coming to the end of my first week back on the road, and although it’s been awesome, it’s not always been easy.

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One More Week to Go

For the past 6 months I’ve been working on a dairy farm in a little rural place called Blighty in NSW. Since leaving Northern Ireland in January 2012 this is the longest I’ve ever stayed in one place, and to be honest it’s not the most exciting of locations.

But for once it hasn’t been about travelling, but instead, about working. It’s been a chance to really build up the funds, and for the first time in my life, I actually have some proper money saved! Which is probably a good idea considering I’ll be travelling around Australia for the next few months with no plans of getting a job for a very long time!

So now the count down is seriously on. Less than 1 week to go, only 4 more shifts left at work. To say I’m excited is an understatement! I can’t wait to say goodbye to the mundane, day-to-day routine that many jobs bring. No more alarms going off at 3am, no more living for the weekend, those days are soon to be over.

Instead, Chris and I will be living out of our campervan, just taking each day as it comes, unsure of what will be around the next corner. I can’t actually wait! The feeling I have right now, it takes me back to when I was in Northern Ireland, waiting to go to New Zealand for the first time. The anticipation of not knowing what’s coming next, not knowing what I’ll see, the experiences I’ll have, or the people I’ll meet along the way. Continue reading

How to Speak like an Australian… or should I say Aussie

If there’s one thing that characterises the way Australians speak, more than anything, I’d say it would have to be their use of abbreviations. Australians, or should I say Aussies, love shortening as many words as possible and it seems anything goes.

I first became aware of this while working with Aussies at a dairy farm. ‘Arvo’ would be used instead of ‘afternoon’, ‘preg’ testing instead of ‘pregnancy’ testing, and a calf born ‘premature’ would be called the ‘preemie’.

Once you become aware of it you start to hear these abbreviations everywhere, especially if you watch TV or listen to the radio. ‘Musicians’ are referred to as ‘musos’, ‘jelly’ is the word used for ‘jealous’, and I’ve even heard journalists call ‘politicians’ ‘pollys’!

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