BootsnAll Travel Network

Goodbye to Oz

August 26th, 2005

My last day in Australia is almost over. The end of my trip has been fantastic.

Yesterday I went mountain biking in another rainforest. Not only are cars on the wrong side of the road here, but the brakes on bikes are backwards as well! Before we really got going they made me practice stopping so I wouldn’t accidently hit the front brake and go soaring over the handlebars. I managed to stay on my bike, but was assured by the presence of two med students who were biking with me. On our way to the rainforest we stopped at this crystal healing place for tea. Byron Bay, where I’ve been spending my last few days, is a hippie haven. So there are lots of aura picture places, crystal healers, and tarot readings. It’s actually a very cute town because it is not commercialized (think the exact opposite of Seaside on the Jersey Shore and that’s Byron Bay), but there are some real spacey people here. I think I have signed about 20 petitions in two days. The lady in charge on the crystal tea place was wearing a wizards cloak. She looked like Madame Trawley from Harry Potter. She made me walk through a labrinyth for my spirit. Riiight. After just walking around and eating for the past few weeks, biking up the hills was quite hard. But the views from the summits were worth all the effort and speeding down hill over little logs was a total thrill. I rode the brake the first time, but then we just went flying. It was grand.

Today I went sea kayaking, where we saw a bunch of dolphins surfing the waves. It was wild because we got to surf our kayaks in the waves with the dolphins. The rest of the day was spent lounging on the beach, watching all the surfers. The currents are really strong, so I decided to stay out of the water and avoid my Costa Rica buggie boarding experience that ended up with me being towed back to shore.

I’ve also visited a lot of Paul Hogan landmarks (Crocodile Dundee). I saw his house yesterday and ate at his restaurant today. No sign of him, unfortunately. I was hoping he would have a big machete-style knife on him. But alas, no such luck.

Now I just need to pack my bags and make my way up to Brisbane for my flight. I don’t get there until early morning, so I’m just going to hang at the airport until my 7:00 am flight. Fun fun. See you all soon!


Gold Coast

August 24th, 2005

After a day in the rainforest, I am now south of Brisbane in Byron Bay, a little beach town on the Gold Coast.

The Daintree Rainforest, aka the World Heritage Rainforest, was incredible. Everything is green, but in at least 20 different shades. It reminds me of 9th grade art class when you have to paint something using only one color and black and white. While crossing the river to get to the rainforest we spotted 5 crocodiles! One was a little hatchling, who looked so cute. But seeing as some dude was killed a few days ago by a croc, it was a bit scary. The nice person next to me kindly reminded me to not dangle my hands over the side. This rainforest is the oldest in the world and is extra special because it meets up with the reef. The entire drive is along the ocean with its turquoise blue waters. I spent some time swimming at Cape Tribulation before taking a little hike through the forest. The water is so fresh that you can drink right from the stream. So I did. It’s about 24 hours later and I don’t have dysentary or anything, so that’s cool. The water was definitely better than the Brita.

I waited the requisite 24 hours after diving to fly down to Brisbane. From there I took a bus to Byron Bay. It’s an old hippie town with tons of surfing and kayaking. I’m going kayaking tomorrow and hopefully will see dolphins along the way. Other than that, I’m planning on hanging at the beach and maybe doing a mountain biking trip in the rainforest.

Tonight there is a didgeridoo concert across the way, so I figure I’ll check that out.


Finding Nemo

August 22nd, 2005

After 3 days sailing on the Atlantic Clipper on the Great Barrier Reef, I’m hooked on scuba diving. The past few days have been all about seeing incredible animals in the water and concqering fears.

On the way out to the reef, we saw 7 hump back whales! There was a baby whale that was jumping in the air and riding on its mom’s back. These were the first whales I have ever seen outside of Sea World. Despite Shamu’s stunt ability, there is nothing like the real thing.

I am now a certified advanced open water diver. This means I had to go down to 30 meters ( about 90 feet), do a night dive, and do a lot of underwater navigation. I woke up at 4:30 on the day of the 30 meter di ve because I was so nervous (it starts at 6:30). As my instructor said, “If you run out of air down there, you are fucked.” Nice encouragement. The night before had been the night dive. It was a full moon. so a lot of the animals were illuminated, but at some points you can only see your buddy ‘ s life. I was so scared that I sucked my air tank dry and had to use a backup. But at night we saw a lot of bluespotted devil rays and GTs, which are these huge silver fish that swim over your shoulder, waiting for you to point out little fish for them to eat. So I approached the 30 meter dive with a bit a apprehension, but after a couple of meters, I was fine. We had to do a puzzle on deck and at 30 meters to see the difference in our cognitive abi lity . I did it in 9 seconds on deck and 14 on the bottom! You get a lot of nitrogen when you dive deep so it makes you a bit drunk feeling. But I had the fastest puzzle times, but the biggest jump in my times.

During my 11 dives I saw a white tipped reef shar, Nemo, a lion fish (which looks like a big red and white koosh ball), and a zillion other brightly colored fish and coral. My favorite were the royal angels, which were striped blue, yellow, orange, and white. I also liked trumpet fish because their mouths really do look like trumpets.

The boat was a blast. I survived on ginger tablets , which prevent sea sickness, and was completely fine the entire time. There was a great g roup of Irish and English people in my group, so we did a lot of diving off the boat, card games, and 80s movies watching. All and all, my Great Barrier Reef experience was great !

Tomorrow it’s off to Cape Tribulation, an area in the rainforest about an hour from Cairns. Then only a few more days before heading home.


Deep Breaths

August 18th, 2005

After a few all nighters, I’m in Cairns and resting up for my diving adventures. Before leaving Sydney, I snagged some standing room opera tickets for Don Giovanni. It was fabulous, especially when Don Giovianni jumped onto stage in an entire leather get-up. The opera house overlooks the bay and bridge, so during intermission that is what you see while drink ing your wine. Not bad at all. I ran into the U.S. Aussie Rules Football Team (which I had no idea is played in the States), so my last few nights in Syndey were spent re- living the glory days of rugby socials. I was pleased that my song skills are still intact.

Today was the start of my dive course. It was a bit of deja vu because the f ormat is just like Barbri! So we fill in these f ancy sheets and then take quizzes. The only difference is that I get more than 50% correct. I actually had to move seats though because these two guys next to me were cheating off me. I don’t think they speak english well, so they can’t really understand what the video person was saying. Breathing under water is not as scary as I thought it would be . After tomorrow, we’re on the boat for three days. I’m just as excited for the boat trip as I am the diving. I plan to try my hand at some underwater photography, so we shall see how that goes!

Wish me luck on my test tomorrow!


Wallabies, kiwis, kangaroos–oh my!

August 15th, 2005

The rugby game was awesome! It was down at Olympic Park and the entire arena and outside areas were teeming with people all geared up to see the match. I met up with a group of kiwis before the game, so we went out around the stadium before the game. It was a crash course in All Blacks chants. With my rugby social singing skills, I was a quick study. My seat worked out (thanks for all the info from my computer, Dad) and I was 17 rows back from the half line. I could see everything, like the blood and sweat dripping off the players, and I could hear the collision when there were scrums. The Wallabies showed some life in the beginning as they were up 13-nil for a bit, but then the All Blacks came back with a vengence. They were able to get the ball out to the wings with no problem at all, and repeatedly used the chip and run play that we never seemed to get right at Bates. The Wallabies, on the other hand, couldn’t get it together, and their forwards kepts getting messed up in the line and running into rucks without any support. So in the end the All Blacks won and now the Wallabies are pretty much out of the tri nations.

Today I went with a few people from the hostel out to the Blue Mountains, which are blue from the eculyptus trees (from the Blue Mountains, Sydney is also blue). There were parrots and cockatoos just chilling in the wild. Heather, if you thought I was excited about the cow in Costa Rica, I almost fell down the cliff when I saw the cockatoos. But I didn’t. We did get a bit lost, but then we made our way to the bottom of the valley. It looks like the grand canyon with trees. And there are huge rock formations coming out of the rainforest. It was quite beautiful.

I also got to pet some kangaroos and koalas at a zoo. They are so soft and a bit smelly, but they make up for that in cuteness.

Tonight a bunch of us are going out in the area where we are staying. I’m at Kings Cross, which means we’ll be braving the prostitutes and junkies. Don’t worry, it’s safe, but it’s quite the area. It reminds me of Adams Morgan, actually.

Here is a picture of the Three Sisters rock formation. Three%20Sisters.jpg

Here I am feeding a kangaroo. Kangaroo.jpg



August 13th, 2005

I think I’ve figured out the picture thing, so here goes. This one is of Jo and I–as you can all see, she is doing very well and sends her love to everyone. Jo and I

We went to a koala conservatory, so here’s a picture from that. Koala They sleep 20 hours a day!

This one will give you an idea of how the weather was in Melbourne.Wind I’m in Sydney now, and the weather is much more pleasant. And with the sold out crowd at the rugby match tonight, I’m sure it will be warm there too. Yea body heat.

Now I need to go figure out how to get to the rugby match. Let’s hope for a Wallabies win!



August 11th, 2005

For those of you with sketchy geography, it’s winter in southern Australia. But winter here is like winter in California–a long-sleeve shirt and light jacket is normally fine. But not this week. In something like the first time in over 20 years, it snowed in Melbourne! I am honored to have been here for such a momentous event. I pretty much look like the kid in A Christmas Story playing in the snow with all the layers I am wearing. Thankfully I can wear Jo’s jackets, or I’d be a little popsicle, since I came over with just one bag and a carry on. (Missy, clearly you were right for me to not pack all the tanktops I own). But with a few fleeces and a scarf, I’ve been tooling around Melbourne and loving it.

Melbourne is full of beautfiul arcades (at this point I would post a picture, but I can’t find the usb port on this computer. Luckily Paul, Weiss has tech support, or next year would be a disaster) and loads of art galleries. By this point I’ve hit most of Aboriginal art galleries. The pieces look like stipple with a big, colorful brush. The arcades are these ornate buildings with mosaic floors and glass walls. With the cold, I stop into a coffee shop every few hours to warm up. The coffee is amazing, and I haven’t really had a jet lag problem since I’ve been hopped up on caffeine since I’ve been here.

Jo took a sickey the other day and we went out this island a few hours from here. The landscape is kind of like Maine, with rocky shores, except that there is bright green moss and grass covering everything. It was pretty much a ghost town because of the season and weather, but we had some meat pies (kind of like chicken pot pie I guess, but with red meat or lamb) and braved the elements. The seagulls were getting caught in the wind and whooshing out to the water, and at some point Jo and I literally had to hit the deck to avoid getting knocked into. That would be a crap way to go–bowled over by seagulls.

Jo’s been taking me to all the little pubs in Melbourne. Melbourne is known for hole in the wall places with delicious beer. I’m quite a fan of Carlton Draught. They have the best commercial. Go to to view it. I love the yellow beer guys dancing. It’s not quite as good as the dancing fat kid, but it’s a great beer commercial. Last night we went to St. Kilda, which is on the bay. It has tons of bars that play live music every night. We saw the Zombie Sex Gang. If you picture angry thirteen year olds screaming into a microphone, then you didn’t miss a thing. We went to some different places that are in old hotels with fireplaces.

Today is a bit nicer outside, so I’m about to head off on a little walking tour of Melbourne. I could spend all day looking at the signs. My favorite is “buckle up or feel the pain.” That one is all over the highways and busy streets. Nothing like telling it how it is.

As of tomorrow I’m off to Sydney for the rugby game. Apparently it’s one of the biggest games of the year since it’s against the All Blacks, so I’m getting totally geared up.

Hope all is well over in the States!


I made it

August 7th, 2005

Mom, Dad, everyone — I made it. Jo greeted me bright-eyed and bushy tailed at the airport at 5:20 in the morning. The flight wasn’t bad at all. I slept for about 9 hours (I actually wore the little eyemask thing) and then read about 3/4 of Harry Potter. Unlike domestic flights, they even leave snacks for you while you sleep! Today Jo is getting off early from work, so we’re going to have lunch and head into Melbourne proper to see a few art galleries. I also already tried vegamite. I must admit, it does go well with toast and butter.


Getting Ready

August 2nd, 2005

Welcome to my Bar trip blog! Since my student life has officially ended for the time being, I decided to head down to Australia to make my last summer vacation really worth it. Besides getting to see a small bit of Australia, the best part is that I’m visiting my college roommate, Jo, for a week.

Before I head off to Australia, I’m stopping in California to visit friends and family. I officially leave for Australia on Saturday, August 6. The whole time change is wild to me. I will not have an August 7 in 2005, since I leave on the 6th and arrive on the 8th. But on the way back I arrive in LA before I left Australia, so in the end I guess I still get 365 days this year. I’m actually excited for the flight because I’ve been saving the new Harry Potter for the plane ride. I’m sure at some point during the 15 hour flight the excitement will wear off, but hopefully I can read slow enough to make the book last.

Just so everyone knows my plans, I’ll be in Melbourne for about a week, then Sydney to see a real rugby match (Wallabies v. All Blacks), then Cairns to dive on the Great Barrier Reef, and finally a small stop in Brisbane before heading back home. I’m hoping to update this every few days, but that will depend on Internet access and whatnot. It will also depend on whether I remember how to do this. I’ve already had to contact the blog people to figure out where my blog was (I had started it, but couldn’t remember the web address). Hopefully I’ll be able to navigate Australia better than the Internet.

Hope everyone has a great August! Keep in touch.

Wish me luck!

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