BootsnAll Travel Network

The Top End

May 14th, 2006

(It is May 14th today, Happy Mother’s Day!)

We have been in Darwin and the surrounding area for 12 days now. Lora and I arrived here “on schedule” on May 3rd, tired but happy that we made the whole trip on our own. Our constant debates of whether we should have left the car somewhere early and joined a tour or flown to Darwin never came to fruition, and we made the entire drive from Perth to Darwin on our own and all in one piece. Though the trip was technically only 4400 km, we put about 6600km on the rental car, since we explored some of the southwest coast and made trips off the main road to Cervantes and Exmouth. When we reached Darwin, we both laughingly realized we had no idea what to expect of the place, and were pleasantly surprised to find it a bigger than a town, smaller than a city, but with a character all it’s own. Most importantly, it had a camera repair shop for Lora, since there hadn’t been one on the entire trip since Perth. That, along with a beer and a dip in the pool, was the only thing on our agenda, at least for the next day. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Final Countdown

May 11th, 2006

(After a two week self-imposed computer hiatus, I have added more pictures to my smugmug homepage.)

Our initial arrival in Broome proved to be anticlimatic. Lora and I settled into what turned out to be a really good hostel, The Kimberley Club, which was more like a resort than a hostel, with a nice pool area, bar and TV and game room. Because of the heat and humidity, the building structure is open, which high ceilings in the bedrooms, and open reception and kitchen areas to allow air flow. The pool looked inviting as did the bar, but as it got later on our first night, the thought of needing to do laundry and getting a good night’s sleep won us over. Our main reason for being in Broome was to find a tour that would take us into The Kimberley, a remote area of Australia in the Northwest. Aside from Antarctica, the Kimberly is said to be the most uninhabited area of land on the planet, and remains mainly inaccessible without at least a 4WD, better still an airplane, boat or helicopter. Tours were unsurprisingly expensive because of this, and due to a late wet season, some weren’t even running yet. The northern part of Australia runs on the wet/dry seasons instead of the 4 temperate seasons we have in N. America. The wet should have ended at the end of April, but a late cyclone causing heavy rains and flooding put off the dry season by about two weeks, just enough for us to completely miss almost everything the Kimberly had to offer. Read the rest of this entry »

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All According to Plan II

April 25th, 2006

Lora and I arrived safely in Broome yesterday, after a harrowing day of driving that took us over 900km in one day. We began our journey up the West Coast of Australia from Perth to Darwin 8 days ago in our nice rental car stocked full of our gear, food and emergency water stores. The drive from Perth to Darwin is approximately 4400 km and can technically be driven in three days. However, we were going to “take our time” and travel for about 3 weeks through Western Oz, seeing all the sights along the way. Due to our lack of planning and research, we landed smack in the middle of school holidays, and our route was one that would be taken by thousands of families in campers and cars pulling trailers and boats up and down the coastal highway. Our route would be Western Australia’s equivalent to going to the Grand Canyon on 4th of July weekend, and as much as we tried to catch up, we never got ahead of the game. Read the rest of this entry »

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All according to plan

April 16th, 2006

Perth, which is the capital city of the state of Western Australia, has the distinction of being the most isolated capital city in the world. It is closer to cities in Indonesia than it is to other cities in Australia. One might think this would lead to a closed off or backwards mentality, but in reality Perth is a cosmopolitan, exciting city. Unfortunately, due to travel planning and one difficulty after another, I wasn’t able to see much of it before I left for the southwest coast. Read the rest of this entry »

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Westward Ho

April 11th, 2006

The truck driver pulled up to the house early in the morning, before sunrise at 6am. I was already awake and showered, since I couldn’t sleep with such anticipation. Annette told me that he wanted to get a really early start, and he meant it. Loading the sheep onto the truck took only about 45 minutes, and I quickly had breakfast while I waited to leave. The sun was just starting to come up when everyone came to the house to say goodbye, and I loaded my bags into the high cabin. He was in a hurry, so I gave hugs all around, and boarded my ride to Broken Hill. The sheep were restless and so was I.. I was ready to continue my journey west. Read the rest of this entry »

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Quick update

April 5th, 2006

I have added new photos to my smugmug homepage in the Australia gallery. The link is under my links on the right hand side of the page. They are up to yesterday’s date, my first 6 weeks in Australia.

I’m off on a 2 day, 2 night train journey from Broken Hill in New South Wales to Perth in Western Australia. We stop in Adelaide and Kalgoorlie, and drive across the Nullarbar Desert, which hold the world’s longest road without any curves! I will post more about my trip when I reach Perth for my second half of Australia.

 Cheers, and thanks for reading!


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The Daily Grind

March 31st, 2006

Sheep shearing finally started yesterday, and after such anticipation and build-up, it was slightly anticlimatic. Because the start date kept getting pushed back, we actually had quite a lot of free time on the station, apart from getting everything ready for shearing. It was initially supposed to start on the 20th of March, but some of the sheep had lambs late in the season, they needed to wait a few weeks to let them get a little bigger to be able to make the long walks from the paddocks to the shearing shed at the house. It is also really difficult to book shearers, and the station they were at before Polpah took longer than expected, so instead of the 27th, we started yesterday, the 30th. There is a lot to do around a station to prepare for shearing, everything from going into town to get supplies to cleaning the shearers quarters to repairing fences and sweeping out the shed. But because we had so much extra time, we were able to do some fun activities as well, and the wealth of things to do out here continues to amaze me. Read the rest of this entry »

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One eighty

March 22nd, 2006

It was starting to get dark as the sun set behind the few scattered trees and the main house. They were ahead of me in the truck, driving slowly to a large tree around the side of the house. I was walking slowly, making sure not to trip on any wires or big rocks in the low light of dusk. I could just make out the high beam of the gallows behind the tree, and the truck was parked beside it. Barry was already out of the truck by the time I got there, and a tied up sheep had given up trying to escape from the pickup and lay still. The deed was already done by the time I arrived, as the other sheep lay dead with it’s throat cut on the ground and Barry was starting to remove it’s hooves. It didn’t affect me as I thought it would, though maybe if I had seen it killed it might have been worse. This was a normal part of life out here on the sheep station, but it felt like a million miles away from Sydney and the opera, where I had been just a few days before. Read the rest of this entry »

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March 10th, 2006

Traveling up or down the east coast of Australia is one of the most popular backpacker routes in the world. Tiny beachside towns, surfing meccas and trips to the outlying islands make up the routes of most people. You could spend months visiting every nook and cranny along the huge coast, and some people do. I hadn’t done too much on the east coast, but I knew the one thing I definitely wanted to do was a sailing trip on the Whitsundays. Read the rest of this entry »


Risky business

March 5th, 2006

(I’ve added captions to some of the pictures on smugmug. If there is a series of pics I didn’t caption all of them. I’m uploading a few more now.)

I’m sitting in a relatively cool internet cafe in Cairns right now. When I say relatively, I mean the sweat isn’t pouring off me, but just rather sticky and clammy. It is unbelievable how hot and humid it is here in Queensland, especially coming from the southern part of Australia, where it’s warm but very dry. In fact, most part of Australia are actually in a drought and screaming for rain, whereas Queensland has more moisture than they know what to do with. I have a whole day to do nothing really, as I’ve booked an overnight bus south to Airlie Beach, the departure town for my sailing trip on the Whitsundays. I’m not really looking forward to this bus ride, not only because it leaves at midnight, but also because it is 11 hours and I paid over AUS$100 for it. It was a slight shock to me, as my flight from Melbourne all the way up to Cairns was only $160. I think I got slightly ripped off, and I’ve know heard from other travelers there are other bus companies that are cheaper. It is a little bit of an adjustment coming from New Zealand, where the hostels and information centers are unbiased places where you can book transport and activities. Here, the hostels and “i centers” make commissions on their bookings, so you really don’t know if they are any good or not. Case in point was my day trip into the Atherton Tablelands yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »

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