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Seasquirt

The adventures of Fe & Chris

Archive for Australia

For my birthday…

Thank you all for your birthday greetings. I particularly like Mike’s poem, but I do not infact scoop up my poo, just bury it with a natty orange plastic trowel.

Now, to business. For my birthday I received a Shy Albatross, some male Australian Fur Seals, thousands of muttonbirds, an Echidna, a Superb Fairy Wren, a nice walk to Cape Hauy and a Devonshire Tea.

Little Blue Penguins

We’re in Tasmania, in the small town of Bicheno. We just stopped for a Rivita and jam when the fancy took us for a stroll. We bumped into¬†five beautiful Little Blue Penguins hiding under rocks. There are several places you can pay to see them around here, but I believe birds should be free, so am very happy now.

We stayed a couple of nights with Polar Star Megan in Kingston, and had breakfast with Opwall Karen.

Taz rocks.

Some new pictures…

Here

Don’t we look handsome!

Shawn

I realised today that Chris was starting to look rather like Steve Irwin (there was a poster of the man himself on the hostel kitchen wall) so I dragged him kicking and screaming (well whimpering slightly) to a barbers we had found out about via tourist info (”You just want a quick and easy cut?” the helpful tourist info lady guessed well!). The hairdresser was a walk-in and wait place situated within the Memorial Bowling Club of Alice Springs (The “Memo” to locals!) - somewhere I would never go - no appointments, and they don’t even sweep up the hair of the previous week’s customers - shocking. Anyway, they did a wonderful job, as you can see below:

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He looks very dashing now, don’t you think?!

I am still managing to avoid a cut - hair bobbles are doing a fine job…

The Rock

Trusty old No Peace took us for a long drive to the big red rock in the middle of Australia - Ayers Rock, or Uluru.

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The weather was a little inclement when we first arrived and the rock was a little fuzzy. Not discouraged, we bravely got up for a sunrise viewing, leaving our campsite and driving into the national park for 0555. It was a bit of an anticlimax - the sun didn’t appear and clouds filled the sky.

The advantaged of the camper van is that bed is never far away and we went straight back to bed. Now, you are not allowed to stay in the park or camp overnight, but there appears to be nothing to stop you from having a good kip if the main event puts up a lackluster performance.

A few hours and a very scenic breakfast later, the sun came out. We walked around the base of the rock marvelling at its magnificence. The geology is splendid, but rather disapointingly there is no geological interpretation available. The place has World Heritage status on natural and cultural grounds, but the only geological information available is a photocopied sheet of paper available from the Cultural Centre for 50 cents! There’s cultural interpretation everywhere you look, but as the traditional and scientific explanations for the creation of the rock differ, the science is sadly left in the shadows.

No Peace gave us no peace and off we carried on to the Olgas.

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I’d never heard of this small collection of hills before, but I think they are every bit as impressive as Uluru. You get a much more exciting walk too - Uluru is pretty, but the Olgas provide more of an experience.

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Desert my A#$*!

This is us in the desert:

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As you can see, it got a little wet (as did the inside of the van - thank goodness we had thermarests as back up for the soggy mattress). This was on our way to King’s Canyon - a 300km detour from the Big Rock. Before we got to canyon we had to stop off for fuel and were lucky enough to spot a sign telling us the road to the canyon was closed for the time being due to floods. As we settled into our free layby for the evening, a group of forlorn looking Germans pushed their car into the layby to join us - they had braved 40 cm of water in their vehicle and it wasn’t doing too well.

The next morning we woke up to see yet another car being pushed into the layby - fast becoming a car graveyard - these people wanted us to try and jump start their car, but it didn’t work - they had also attempted to drive through too much water.

With some more recent local knowledge we decided to risk the journey which went just fine. We climbed up to the canyon rim and managed a glimpse of the magnificent vista just as the rain started pouring and a thunderstorm surrounded us. We hastily retreated before the road became flooded again and were just in time as the ranger was closing the road as we left.

Strangely onour way back down the road, we saw one of the dead cars being towed towards the canyon, rather than civilisation - not sure why!

Here’s our one piccy of the Canyon anyway, think it was worth the wet hike to the top of the rim…?!kc_1.JPG

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Why is everyone staring at us?

We observed that whenever we drove into a populated car park people stared at us. It dawned on us that it might be because our van looked like this

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Our camper van is from a company called Wicked which paint all their vans with silly stuff and cartoons. Our van has the Lord’s Prayer on one side, the Ten Commandments on the other and “A dead athiest is someone that is all dressed up with nowhere to go” on the rear. Its name is “No Peace”.

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This all seemed to tickle quite a few people; several times we found people sneaking up to photograph our trusty home. Fortunately they mostly did it whilst we were out (at least I think they did).

We saw another Wicked van with “Is there another word for synonym?” on its tail. We rather liked that.

A message from rural Australia

Two metres high, on a corrugated steel fence:

2 MENY WABBITS

Curiously, we haven’t seen any rabbits. We’ve seen lots of Cane Toads though, and they seem to have made for most of the other large-ish beasts around here. As they are exotic, it is fair game to jump on them. In the markets of Darwin you can buy stuffed Cane Toads in any pose you like. Lovely.

We’re in Tennant Creek and heading South to Alice Springs. Must fly…

Litchfield vs Kakadu

The relative pros of Litchfield vs the cons of Kakadu National Parks seems to be an ongoing discussion between travellers to the Top End of Australia, with the oft quoted “Litchfield do, Kaka-don’t”. I’m not sure where this stems from, and now that I have visited both of the national parks, I feel inclined to add my own humble(!) opinions.

Firstly, I think that the two parks, although close to each other, are too different to compare in terms of the scenery that they have to offer - Kakadu has some amazing rock formations, some very interesting aboriginal rock art and a variety of different ecosystems - from sand dunes to waterfalls to forests (we didn’t have a 4WD so didn’t get to the main waterfall attractions), oh and lots of crocodiles (and flies, lots of flies)

On the other hand, Litchfield seems to be most popular for its waterfalls and pools that offer (mainly) croc-free cooling swims. Unfortunately we wished we’d paid more heed to the guide book when it said to avoid Litchfield at weekends - it was heaving with beer drinking, loud music playing Darwinians, hmmm not really our cup of tea. We managed to get in a couple of early swims on the Sunday morning before the crowds arrived though, phew!

We enjoyed both places, for the different reasons listed and found the main distinguishing features between them to be the quality of the campsites - Litchfield is more expensive, yet lower quality - no hot water (not that it’s really needed), no lighting, and in some cases no showers at all - only toilets, yet you still have to pay $6.60 EACH (~3 pounds), as opposed to free (if there’s only toilets) or $5.40 in Kakadu. Hrmph. In Katherine, where we are at the moment, it is even more expensive, and with even less quality facilities - I don’t understand these disparities, why can’t we just camp for free? In fact that is our next mission - to find a place we can stay for nothing - we have our lovely solar shower and a trowel, what more do we need?!

You know it’s hot when…

You burn you hand on a foil crisp packet.

Ouch!

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