Two posts in the one week – and they said it couldn’t be done! So I was lucky enough to get to travel to Edinburgh last weekend for Kevin’s (Kevoto.com) stag weekend. Now stag weekends aren’t my thing, but this one was excellent. We sat around, drank tea and ate shortbread (we were in Scotland after all) for the weekend. Between the furious tea tasting sessions, I managed to get a few shots on my way home while sight seeing.
Cockburn St. – snakes uphill to join with High St. The buildings are just amazing, I don’t think I’ve done any of them justice. When you walk along the streets, you can’t help but feel that this place has real wealth behind it.
Right in the heart of the city, if you look behind the magnificent old buildings, you find lots of places like this. It’s like the setting for a crime scene – like something out of Taggart… but set in Edinburgh obviously.
This place is full of odd angles, curves, shapes and lines all intersecting each other in odd places and ways. I’m sure it all made sense as these buildings were being constructed. Every angle has a purpose.
All I can say is what a city.
Best of luck to Kev and Edel who are getting hitched today – I hope you two have a long and happy life together. 🙂
I know it’s been a while since I put anything up here, but be patient…. major changes are on the way! It’ll be worth the wait, believe me! All of my stories and articles from Australia have been archived – they can be found under the “Antix In Oz!” link on the right->
I hope you are all keeping well!
All the best,
PS Leave comments – let me know what you are all upto!
From Port Agusta, we decided to take a last minute trip to Coober Pedy (a 1080
Km detour). We camped at Riba’s Underground Campsite. At Riba’s, you can camp (in or out of a tent) in a big purpose mined camping area. It was a little eerie walking down the narrow ramp to the campsite for the first time. Outside it was very hot and sunny, with millions of flies everywhere. But as you walk down the darkening path, you begin to feel cooler. Before you know it, you find yourself fumbling around in the dark. At which point you remember to take off your shades! Ah, that’s better – you can kind of see where you are going now!
In Coober, the temperature can vary wildly. It often hits 50 Degrees Celsius in the Summer months, but during Winter, the temp can drop below 0. Last year Coober reached it’s highest temperature in thirty years – 63 Degrees (75 Degree ground temperature). Apparently it was possible to cook food on the ground outside. As a result of the varying temperatures, 50% of the population live underground where the temperature varies little.
Coober supplies 80% of the worlds Opals (Australia supplies 93% of all Opals). They reckon there are about two million open shafts in or around Coober – better watch where you put your feet!!
We were only going to stay for a day, but when we got there, we had to see it all! Apart from looking at the various different Opals all day, we had a walk around town and checked out a lot of the underground shops and churches. The most impressive of which, in my opinion, is the Serbian Orthodox church with it’s has a tall shaped ceiling.
We also drove out to the breakaways – on the way, we saw a very long dog fence that runs from Surfers Paradise on the East Coast all the way over to Western Australia. Just to keep a damn dog out!!! (I’ve always said that’s why they built the great wall of China too!)
Coober is also famous for some of the movies filmed there – Mad Max 3, Red Planet, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Pitch Black. There are various pieces from the sets of the movies around town. We saw the blue bus from Mad Max 3 and a space ship from Pitch Black.
It’s hard to describe Coober Pedy – it has a post apocalyptic feel to it… it’s not pretty at all (except out around the Breakaways)! It is a rough mining town – by rough, I mean rough rough!! With such easy access to explosives, you wouldn’t want to annoy anyone. In recent times, the police station was bombed twice, the post office and many other places have also been bombed! That said, the locals are friendly. I liked Coober, definitely worth the 1080Km detour!
After making a quick exit from Perth (getting out while we were ahead), we headed south to the Valley of Giants where we did the Tree Top Walk. The walk involves walking up a 40 metre high walkway around the tops of the trees (yeah, the name is self-explanitory). To be honest, I don’t know which I was more impressed with – the 40 metre high walkway or the 60 metre tall trees. I think the trees won in the end.
From the Valley of Giants, we headed on to Esperance, then onto the one horse town of Norseman and across the Nullarbor. After the compulsory “looking-like-stupid-‘I’ve-never-seen-a-road-sign-before’-tourists” photo beside a road sign for Australia’s longest stretch of straight road (90 Miles – 146.6 Kms) – we drove away from yet another spectacular sunset to find refuge (well, a lumpy patch of ground for the tent anyway) at Cuigana Roadhouse. I think that is the longest sentence I have ever typed – but I couldn’t be bothered breaking it up!! We got chatting to the owners of a chain of roadhouses, who later offered us a job.
In case you are wondering (no doubt you are not, but anyway…), it is called the Nullarbor because it is a flat treeless plain. No Trees -> Null-arbor…. Get it?
After a long drive across the nullarbor, we reached Port Agusta. The heat in Port Agusta was nothing short of shocking – we guessed 35 Degrees Celsius, but we were wrong – it was 43 Degrees. There was a strong 40 Degree wind blowing all day, through into the night – at times, it was hard to catch a breath.
On the way to Perth, we stopped in to see the Pinnacles. The pinnacles are, well… thousands of rock pinnacles standing proud of the desert floor. Walking around them, you get the feeling you might as well be walking on the moon. They were pretty spectacular. Unfortunately there was a lot of cloud cover, so there was no sunset to speak of… it just got cold and dark!
Anyway, we travelled on to Perth to meet with Tony and the guys we travelled through the Kimberley with – to have a goodbye bash of sorts. We checked into Governor Robinson’s hostel just outside the city center. The hostel is beautiful – so clean, you feel like you are walking through someone’s home. It made us all feel a little uneasy – like we didn’t belong there.
We all went out for the night (Tony, Marcus, Sebastian, Carla, Lucinda, Evert, Juliane, Irene, Angie, Calvin, Mike, Dave & myself) – we were having a great night until Mike, who went back to the hostel early, rang me! He found that someone had broken into Calvin’s car. We ran back to the hostel and called the police. Calvin was, understandably, very upset – all of his holiday snaps were gone. The thief probably thought his photo CDs were Music CDs. So we went looking around to see if the thief had dropped Calvin’s stuff anywhere. Turns out the stupid man was pissed out of his skull and he fell asleep (with all of Calvin’s stuff) in the garden of the house next door to the hostel. We took photos, called the cops and they took him away. Luckily we
thought it was a good idea not to wake him, because it turns out that he was carrying a knife!!
After getting an hours sleep, we checked out of the hostel to go to one with more secure parking. When I drove into the driveway of the new hostel, I was greeted by Marcus, who asked me if I had seen his Landcruiser… not even two hours after Calvin’s car was burgled, Marcus’ Landcruiser was stolen. Poor Marcus seemed to handle it pretty well. We went looking for the car, but couldn’t find it. Amazingly, Chris and Andy were at work, when they found themselves driving behind the car in traffic. They followed the thief for a while but unfortunately lost him. Luckily they had called the Police, who decided to hang around the neighborhood for a while – and found it!! Unfortunately, the thief had already taken a fridge and a load of Cd’s out of the car.
So Perth was yet another adventure, but everything turned out well in the end. I think we all became very paranoid as a result of the events and that pretty much ruined Perth for me. Shame, because it is a really nice city.
Sorry for the lack of updates everybody. Better late than never I suppose!
When we left Coral Bay, we headed south towards Monkey Mia. On the way, we made a short detour via some Blowholes on the coast just north of Carnarvon. In this area, the coast is very rugged and there isn’t much shelter from the weather. We stayed at an isolated camp ground, where the ranger let us sleep in an old shed right by the beach – A room with a great view for just four bucks!! The weather changed overnight. It was cold and grey in the morning, so we packed up early and headed for Carnarvon to buy supplies and then on towards Monkey Mia.
Monkey Mia is a tourist resort where volunteers feed four female Dolphins three times each day. When they come to the beach, they have their calves in tow. The calves are really playful, always messing about with each other. It was fabulous to see – the Dolphins come right in to the beach, where the water is only about knee height. The only thing I didn’t like about the experience was the crowd – it was two or three people deep at the shore. Even so, it was fantastic.
We had heard about a beach in the Francois Peron National Park (40Km north of Monkey Mia) where you can see Dolphins, Rays & Sharks in a more natural habitat (yes, yes, I know… water is their natural habitat), away from the crowd. So after a few relaxing days in the hostel at Monkey Mia, we headed up into the National Park.
40Kms in, 40Kms out – it should be a straight forward enough drive I thought. So I let the tyre pressures down and got stuck into it (or not as it happens, thankfully) – dry, soft, deep sand from the start. I was getting a little worried, given our tendency to get bogged down in the soft stuff. Driving along the track, I noticed that we were getting a bit bogged down fairly regularly. So, I dropped two cogs and nailed it to try and keep up the momentum. Silver (the Pajero’s name since Karajini, NT) pulled through – Hi Ho Silver and all that. Now for the other 79Kms!!
Cape Peron was spectacular, not that I saw much of it – real white knuckle stuff. Having to go that bit faster on the softer sand meant that Silver spent quite a bit of time airborne. When we got to the top of the Cape, I saw Dolphins just a few metres from the beach (without a crowd). It was worth the trip – but I couldn’t relax to enjoy it. I just wanted to get the drive back to Denham over with. Once again Silver took to the air, flying at an altitude of 2 Feet, past some vast Lagoons and Salt flats.
After our adventure in Cape Peron, we headed south to Kalbarri to walk the gorges there. Then onto Geraldton – the second biggest city in Western Australia for a short break from the travelling! I know – none of this sounds stressful in the least. But believe it or not, sometimes you need a holiday from the holiday!
Click here to see:
Our shed at the blow holes
A video of one of the blow holes (No Sound)
A pelican at Monkey Mia
One of the Dolphins at Monkey Mia
Sebastian, Calvin, Lucinda, Mike, Carla, Marcus, Dave & I outside the kitchen of the hostel in Monkey Mia – nice view!
The beach at Cape Peron
The track up through Cape Peron
A salt flat in Cape Peron
After Karajini, we spent a night in the mining town of Tom Price. From there, we headed straight to Exmouth. Exmouth is pretty much at the top of the Cape Range peninsula & it marks the north end of Ningaloo Reef (roughly).
Exmouth itself is a nice place, we stayed in Winstons Backpackers. As we drove into the hostel car park, Dave noticed that Calvin (a German guy we met in Cairns) was sitting on the porch outside his room – small world!!
After buying some snorkeling gear, we headed for the beach. We went snorkeling at Turquoise bay and the Oyster stacks. I saw Octopus, Squid (big ones), Turtles, Sharks and loads of fish – it was incredible. I decided I would get one of those cheap waterproof disposable cameras. So armed with my camera, I went off looking for Sharks – I spent ages looking, but I didn’t find any. I decided to give up for the day and was swimming back to the beach when this big reef shark came up from behind me and passed across in front of me just inches from my head. I tried to get the camera out and wind it on, but it was too late – the shark was gone… Bugger.
Luckily I have bumped into loads of sharks since and I think I have a few good photos! I don’t know why, but they will circle you a few times in the water – as if trying to get a better look at you. It made for a few good photo opportunities.
Parents, don’t worry – Reef Sharks are pretty small and there are so many fish on the reef that they are well fed. They generally don’t attack people unless provoked.
After Exmouth, we made the short hop to Coral Bay. This is a really nice, relaxed place. The Coral seems to be dead close to the beach – but if you head out far enough, you can see some huge colourful Coral formations.
When I was snorkeling yesterday, I came across a Stone Fish close to the beach – that was enough to scare me out of the water for a while. I didn’t think they were around this area at all!
Click here to see:
A video ofMike trying to scare some fish – good job he does too! (No Sound)
When we left Shelamar, we headed to Karajini National Park – time for more running up and down Gorges. We crammed in quite a lot into our one day whirlwind tour of Karajini. We decided to spend only one day in Karajini, because we are getting a little gorged-out.
The highlight of Karajini (for me anyway) was definitely handrail pool. Getting to the pool involves a lot of climbing through narrow passages between rock faces & swimming in icy cold water. I don’t think my photos do it justice – this place is spectacular (ha, that was just to throw off all the people who were expecting me to say amazing).
Click here to see:
With a long weekend off work on our hands, we decided to head back up to the Gibb River Road to check out the bits we missed due to our early exit the last time (car troubles).
Just a short round trip of 1215 Kms to visit the Croc infested Windjana Gorge & the Bat infested Tunnel Creek.
I’ve never seen so many crocs in one place. All of the crocs at Windjana Gorge are freshwater crocs – they are pretty harmless unless provoked. Generally they are scared of people and will run away if you get too close to them. They look really menacing when they are baking on the sand in the sun – big sharp teeth sticking out the side of their mouths. On the other hand, they look lanky, awkward and funny when they stand up and walk!!!
Tunnel Creek was a bit spooky (I know, I know, it’s only because I’m a wimp!). You walk into this cave in complete darkness, sometimes waist deep in icy cold water. Throw in lots of Bats and a Croc or two and you’d understand why I thought it was a little scary. It’s true, we do fear the things we can’t see! But I must say it was funny that each of the three of us refused to walk last in the line – you know, in the movies, the monster/alien type thing always picks off the person who is last in line, never the first person in line!!!
After that, we made our way back to Broome and checked into the Kimberley Klub (for a pleasant change) – It’s a nice hostel, but a bit too noisy.
Click here to see:
Sorry about the long break in my news! But I’m here now and that is all that counts. ; ) There are three links to pictures below – make sure you have a look at them!
Well, we went picking Water Melons on a farm Called Shelamar. It was a bit of a shock to the system at first – I think the first thing that went through my head when I found out about the job was “Oh feck, I have to get up at 0530, breakfast at 0600 and then work at 0630… I don’t like it already!”
Basically we walk down a field full of melons behind a tractor and trailer. The trailer has a boom sticking out the side of it and on the boom there is a conveyor belt. As we walk behind the boom, we pick the melons ant put them on the belt. What I didn’t know before we started working was that some of the melons are over 20Kg!
Surprisingly , the first day went well, it wasn’t difficult work – I was tired but I felt good. After dinner, I just collapsed into bed. The next morning I try to get out of bed and notice that I have a lot of difficulty moving! I hate melons already!
After only a day and a half of work, it was the weekend. To be honest, I think the three of us felt broken at this early stage. The “Meanwhile, back at the ranch…” jokes were beginning to wear thin. So, despite our best intentions of staying on the farm and saving money, we decide to head for Cable Beach (in Broome) for some “much needed” rest and relaxation. We ran into the Marcus, Evert and their crew (they are the people we travelled through the Kimberley with) and had a great laugh! Dave and I also managed to fall asleep on the beach. To the amusement of all the lads on the farm, we looked like lobsters for a few days.
Unfortunately after the weekend in Broome, it was time to head back to the farm for more work (read agony). We worked for the next three days when the boss decided that the next few patches of Melons wouldn’t be ready for a few days – apparently the cold nights aren’t helping them! This meant that we had another long weekend on our hands. So we headed back up the Gibb River Road – check out the next story for details.
When we got back to the farm after our little excursion, I had a swimming accident and hit my face off the bottom of the pool (stop laughing, it hurt like hell). I cut my nose, lips and chin – I think I was pretty lucky not to knock out any teeth. Anyway, back to work… it turns out that the melons still needed a few more days before picking, so we were put planting seedlings (read making bits of my back).
Unfortunately we only managed four and a half days of planting and picking when the boss announced that the rest of the melons still weren’t ready, so we were going to be out of work for over a week! So, we decided not to waste money hanging around waiting for work that might not be there. Typical, I was just getting into the swing of things. When the lads left for town that evening, we said our goodbyes. When everyone was gone, being faced with unemployment, we did what any self-respecting blokes would do in our situation… we had beer, a lot of it!