Monday, September 28, 2009

Sailing around the Whitsunday's!

It started with a mad rush of a booking getting the last spot on the all mighty sailing boat "Freight Train". There were to be 18 of us sailing, snorkeling and diving around the Whitsunday's for 3 days and 2 nights. But yet again, there is always an adventure to be had.

Friday night we slept on the boat just outside of Hayman Island expecting to wake up bright early when we all woke up to a dead engine. It took about 6 hours for them to sort it out at which time we were greeted with a Trimaran, "Avator" coming to our rescue. We were all shuttled onto the boat that was definitely an upgrade and told we were to be put up in a resort because there wasn't enough room to sleep on the boat.

As we were put onto a dingy at 10 o'clock that night we arrived to the "resort"where I classically fell out of the dingy and soaked myself in ankle high water. As I came up to the rest of the group, slightly embarrassed, and moreso simply unimpressed, I was pleasantly surprised to find another girl has fallen in as well. Nothing brings people together faster than humiliation.

As the night went on, the "hot shower" was actually a freezing cold leaky pipe, and the "beds" were tents. Side note: remember, this isn't just camping on the beach, there are spiders the size of my hand, lizards and snakes and any other terrifying creature you can imagine.

Aside from the interesting accommodation, we made it to the unreal Whitehaven Beach, snorkeled the Great Barrier reef everyday, and spent my time sailing on an unbelievable boat.

I'm now carrying on down the coast to Frasier Island; maybe I'll find my new calling is driving a 4x4 on the beach.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Aussie Animal Adventures

Sunday I spent hanging around Cairns, did a bit of a pub crawl and called it an early night. Monday morning I was to be up and on the bus bright and early to make my way up to Cape Tribulation; up the coast where the crocs are.

I've never had a more frightening experience then this one when it came to bus drivers. As we wound along the coastal road hugging the mountainside, all I could do was stare out the window thinking, "Well, atleast my scene of death was pretty awesome."

We made our way to a wildlife park where I saw my first cassowary, crocs, wallabies and kangaroos. Had a bit of a situation with the kanga's but that's a story for another day. Went to Mossman Gorge, the Daintree River and Cape Tribulation where we could look out and see the part of the reef where Steve Irwin died (RIP).

After a jam packed day, I made it back to Cairns in one piece only to pack and head to the bus for 8:30 the next morning. Arrived in Townsville around 4 and made it to the dodgy hostel. Next morning, grabbed the first ferry over to Magnetic Island where we had the most amazing breakfast, held a koala, pet a croc and fed a cockatoo from my mouth. We were planning on going for a walk, but it was so bloody hot we only made it as far as the pool side bar. Tough life.

Today, I am aiding to my gorgeous backpack tan and revving up to take a trip around the Whitsunday's tomorrow.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sydney Pictures

Check out link :)

Bobbing along on the bottom of the beautiful briny sea

Thursday morning I was up bright and early and off to the airport to grab my flight to Cairns (Pronounced "Cans" as Aussie's are r-prejudice). Flight was great, and stepped off the plane into 30 degree heat surrounded by rainforest and mountains.
Made my way to the hostel which was a hole in the wall across from the Esplanade Lagoon. There is no swimming or beach right on the coast of Cairns as the water is FULL of crocodiles and jelly fish. After meeting another lovely Canadian, Siobhan, we went out for the night, followed by a tough day eating tim tam's and drinking wine by the pool.
Saturday consisted of the coolest thing I have ever done in my life...yet. Siobhan and I began our tour on a "rustic" looking boat, choosing functionality over comfort. All I can say is I started to get my sea legs for about the first 1.5 hour of the trek on the rocky ocean almost losing it the last 1/2 an hour at which point we had to slow down to reach our destination. I'd never been more willing to throw myself into unknown water.
After we got into our wet wetsuits (it's like, trying to put on a second skin that chafes through the entire process) we slapped on our snorkel masks and went for it.
Snorkeling is the most peaceful experience to begin with; floating around and the only thing audible is your breathing. And then, to top it off with unbelievable fish, and coral in every shape, size, colour, design you can think of is breathtaking (Although, this is ok when snorkeling because you have your breathing tube).
Next, it was time for the intro dive. We had a weight belt slapped on, followed by the enormous backpack, horked in our masks, held the breathing piece and were gently shoved in. We learned a few tricks on land about equalizing your ears, getting water out of your mask, and what to do if your "Life" (mouthpiece) falls out.
Sure enough, I was overly excited, able to coordinate the skills on top of the water, and the guy told me to "hold the rope on the way down, don't forget to equalize your ears, and I'll meet you down there mate, once I help these guys." WHAT?! Before I could take my life out of my mouth to object, he pressed the blue button that deflated my jacket and I began to sink. The only thing I could do, was breathe like Luke's father, and pop my ears as frequently as I could remember.
Before I knew it, I was literally sitting on the bottom of the ocean (because the weights were too heavy at this moment) watching the other's come down. So what to do in the mean time? Have a stroll on the ocean floor.
After we were all sorted and I was able to swim, he showed us a few things we could touch, but mostly just look at as close as possible without falling on it. I touched the inside of a clam which made it close, rubbed a few sea cucumbers, saw a school of buffalo fish, maybe saw a shark, but am in denial about it, nemo fish, and way too many other things to describe.
Diving was REALLY fun. I would definitely try it again as this time around it was difficult getting used to breathing underwater, the equipment, etc.
That's all for now as I'm off to book the next destination. Chat ya from Townsville.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Now walk it out.

The weekend was spent hanging out with Beth's lovely flatmates, pints, sing-alongs about ridiculous Canadians, kangaroos and Seinfeld.
Sunday I made my way to Bondi to see my friend Rach. There was the "Festival of Winds" going on which provided great entertainment as hundreds of kites could be seen from the patio. Very cool.
When I got up Monday morning, I was pumped for a surf lesson back in Bondi only to arrive to find them completely booked. On the bright side, I'm off to the coast tomorrow which has the best surfing in the country, warmer waters with a downside of shark. (Yes, I'll be careful. And just think, I don't have to outsurf the shark, just outswim the other newbie.)
Instead of heading back into town, I opted to do the beautiful coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee Beach. Basically, a 4 hour stroll that reveals another beautiful beach after every corner.

Tuesday morning, I made my way down to Circular Quay, and grabbed a ferry to Manly Beach. Beautiful day and perfect for another coastal hike. This one was a bit tougher; all uphill over boulders and through the bush. Thanks to a lovely show called "Bite Me" that the flatmates were so inclined for me to watch the night before, I was afraid I may come face to face with some sort of man-eating spider or tick.

I made it to the top of several unreal lookouts, figured out the self-timer on the camera, and pulled a classic Pitts' taking several pictures of myself running to pose.

On my way back down, high on adrenaline and sunshine, I had to admit to myself I was slightly bummed I missed out on some wildlife when sure enough, I saw the tail of something slither under a rock in front of me. My instincts told me it was a cute little salamander similar to one I would find in my backyard, until it stuck its head out from the rock which was the size of my entire big toe and I made my way quickly past with a bunch of girlie squeals and ews.

Again, slightly disappointed I didn't get a picture, I rounded the next corner to find a good sized iguana-lizard-thing sunbathing on a nearby rock. I made a muppet-like cry, and it ran onto the step in front of me, posing long enough for me to get his picture. A little freaked out, but very cool.

Today, I'm researching, l'ndrying, and organizing in preparation for the big haul of the coast. Crocs, lagoons and hammocks? Let's rock.

Friday, September 11, 2009

First few days in the big Sydney

The rest of my first day consisted of schooners and a steak dinner. One really can't complain.
Thursday morning I woke up feeling ambitious and decided I would venture down to the harbour to check out "THE" Opera House. Over the next 5 hours, I got lost and found my way through the city. Wharf's, harbours, boats, bridges, Royal Botanical Gardens, you know, the usual. When I first made my way through Sydney, it felt alot like Toronto. But ho ho ho, this would be true if Toronto was built on a bajillion hills.

The Royal Botanical Gardens were beautiful, but I truly believe that Dr. Seuss may have been inspired by Aus and its crazy plants, birds and animals. 

I finally made my way home alive and exhausted where I met Beth's lovely roommate Hadriene who was kind enough to offer me his girlfriend's bike for the next week while she was out of town. Great. Tomorrow. This was not good enough for him, and there was no saying "no thank you" to a 2- hour tour of Sydney with a ridiculously fit French guy. Opera House again? Why not. RBG again? Sure. Wooloomooloo? Yes. University of Sydney? Uh-huh. Terrace Garden Tour? Really?! And... did I mention that Sydney is made entirely of hills?! I shouldn't complain as it was alot of fun, but Hadriene's favourite joke was to tell me "last slope!"..."Just kidding!". Not amused. When I FINALLY got home again, it was an early night.

Yesterday, Beth took the day off and we had a great day bumming around Glebe. We went for pints down at The Rocks at a really neat pub, "The Lord Nelson" (Sound familiar?) and then up to King's Cross. Beth's good friend is a DJ so we met up with her for a great night on the town. 

Stay tuned for an upcoming surfing lesson and more fun in the Syd.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


So here we are! Approximately 26 hours, 3 terrible meals, and 2 planes later with a pile of stories already to kick-off this adventure.

Let's begin. Toronto was good; a positive round of good-byes, quick customs, pleasant wait to board, and easy plane ride. Thanks to the latest and greatest of technology, I spent 6 hours with Zac Efron, Hugh Jackman, Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd.

Arrival in San Fran (10:00 pm local, 1:00 am SoOn): No big deal. I go on the hunt for an internet hub to send off a notice of life. After I asked someone where such a thing might be, I was directed to a near-by vending machine where you could buy an Ipod Touch that could then be connected to the readily available Wi-Fi. This could be done in between your shopping stops with the infamous players, Coach, Burberry, Louis, and Dolce. 

I then decided the email could wait, and chose sleep. I found a corner, contorted my body to lay across a couple of chairs and armrests with my satchels interwoven with my limbs, wrapped my pashmina around my face and settled in for a quick nap.

San Fran- Sydney (Boarding time: 10:30 pm): Taking my nan's advice, I thought it would be a good idea to take the Gravol 1/2 an hour before I was hoping to sleep. NOTE: THIS IS NOT EFFECTIVE IF THE PLANE IS DELAYED.  As well, for someone who doesn't take medication often, and then chooses to play safe and take 2 Gravol's, this may not have been one of my brightest moments. The last thing I heard was the flight attendant's voice over the intercom telling everyone to stay awake for dinner service. No such luck. I was however, fortunate enough to have a very nice Aussie gentleman sitting beside me who woke me in time to wipe the drool from my mouth before dinner.
I was able to pack in 6.5 hours of sleep on the 14 hour plane ride. 

At the end of the flight, I watched the sun rise over the ocean as we came into land in Sydney... should I repeat that to re-iterate how cool that is?

After a bit of confusion, and hustle and bustle, I got my bags, through customs successfully (after being told they may make me clean my shoes... what?!) and into a taxi to Beth's house. I was greeted by a very excited and enthusiastic Beth with open arms and a bed for the day.

Stay classy Canada.