Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

06/26/2007 – Last Day in the Land of OZ

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

We got up and packed in a hurry. We weren’t sure what time the show started but a brochure said something about 9 so we figured it was a good time to get there. When we showed up there was a short film about how ‘white man kill aboriginals’ then a short drama presentation on their tribes stories. Then the really good stuff began. There was a cool little tribal dance with a bunch of aboriginals where they would imitate a bunch of different animals. Then one of them started fire with just rubbing to sticks together. The next segment was what they used for medicines etc. One of the things was eating this certain dirt lived in by termites to cure diarrhea, how anyone thought of that is beyond me. There was also this leaf from the “cocky apple” tree that when ground up and thrown in water leaves fish motionless with a numbing poison and for the picking.

Then there was a didgeridoo exhibit which prompted Sean to try and learn the “circular breathing” which is required for it. Then was a spear & boomerang throwing that allowed the guests to “have a go” at it. Sean’s first throw he almost caught but the second throw almost caught someone else!

After all that was done we came back into town returned the car and decided to finish our blogs before we go home!

Tonight we will be returning to the Koala Hostel for a final $7.50 buffet of curry, yummy!

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The fire dance

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The woman talking about the capabilities of the termite mound dirt

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Sean throwing the spear

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Us typing this blog to you right now!!

06/25/2007 – Back in Cairns

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

When we got back to Cairns we had booked a room at someplace called Koalas. We booked ahead because all the schoolies start their vacation this week and everything supposedly gets very full. Our room was luxury in comparison to anything we had been staying for the past 2 weeks. We had a Tv, working lights, a small kitchen and OUR OWN BATHROOM! All of the hostels make you share a bathroom unless you want to shell out and extra $20 or so bucks.

For dinner there was an buffet for only $7.50! This was $1.50 cheaper than the calypso where we had stayed the week before. It was a good meal and got more than our moneys worth. We even had a little take-away (Aussie for “to go”) that we, well took-away! We felt like doing something a little more recreation than chatting with those in the dinning area. We asked if there was like a laser tag or something of equal excitement. Nobody knew of anything so we settled for walking around the city.

The first of the two highlights from that were seeing a drunken mob roam around the city. We only saw them run from one bar to another but it looked fairly crazy. We asked a stray what it was about and she began to draw on our hands. When she got around to conversing she said it was some club where you by a shirt for $10 then once a week you get all the free beer you could ever want at a few different bars. We were guessing there must be some other catch because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense economically.

The other highlight was walking into an aboriginal art store. The prices were ridiculous. There was some picture with spots on it for $25k. I’m guessing that the aboriginals that create the art work get screwed. But we talked to the lady who worked there and she said the areas aboriginal tribe has a daily show that has won awards. We though it sounded cool so we took a brochure and planned on going the next morning.

06/24/2007 – In the Jungle

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

When we got up we had some weet bix, bananas and some coconut that Sean got out for us at our hostel. Then we went on a little walk to the beach to look at Cape Tribulation. Then we needed to find a place to sleep for the following night. Kelly had talked to someone earlier in the trip that said we could find a place that was in a tree house like fashion next to a waterfall. So we began searching for such a place. The first place we tried we just kind of stumbled on. It was a bed + breakfast for around $100. It seemed like a pretty cool place and for $100 it seemed like it might be a winner. The guy mentioned something about a place that was 200 meters out. We didn’t think much of it and told him we would be back after we looked around a bit. So we drove around to a few more places but they seemed very commercial and like we were staying at a we found a few places that looked neat but they really weren’t authentic jungle adventures.

We went back to the first place with the intentions of staying there. We asked about the place that was out in the middle of jungle. They responded that some people didn’t like it because there were no doors or windows so bugs and other critters can find their way there. When we arrived we saw a three story jungle mansion. The first floor was very simple and only contained an outdoor shower and sink. The second story was a large open room with a kitchen, bathroom and couch. The third was just a loft with a bed and bug net. We both knew that this was a winner. It is in the middle of the jungle with no sign of human existence. The place is amazing. We rushed back to the main house to reserve our spot. This place was only $120 a night!! We were thrilled about our discovery and were excited to stay there for the evening. They told us that the place wouldn’t be ready for a few hours so we went to a local swimming hole called Masons swimming hole.

Masons is a popular tourist stop with a little store and trail to the swim hole. It was already raining but we decided that we may as well go all the way. The swim hole was pretty cool, it wasn’t much different that your regular foothill river swim hole other than your in the middle of a jungle. Some locals came by and threw bread at Kelly. Well, she was in the water and was hoping that fish in the pond would come and swim around her. She wanted “to make a fishy friend.” When she told the locals that she was from California they responded by telling her that she was very brave and that it surprised them the she would be in the water. She told them that she was really from the mountains of California and not LA, and that made the difference :)

After the river we made a run to the store to get food for dinner. Then we made dinner and hung out in our rain forest house. It was fun because it was raining and we were able to stare into the vast jungle and listen to sounds of wildlife. We did make friends with a mouse and called him Mr. Popcorn because he came about when we were cooking popcorn. Sean tried to catch him using a strainer but was unsuccessful.

In the morning we went up to the house for breakfast. It was cereal and a bunch of tropical fruits. It was fun to try new fruits that we hadn’t ever heard of before. We then went back to our jungle hut and began to pack up. By the time we got out in was nearing noon. We went to a near by restaurant and shared a pate of Emu, Crocodile, and Kangaroo.

After we left we thought that being right on the ocean we should probably go and check it out. We just made a quick stop and checked out the low tide by walking around on the coral beds that showed.

We then headed back into Cairns after a few uneventful stops. OOO we did by a discounted generic fruit loops. It was after we purchased them that we realized they were expired and infested with bugs :)

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Eating the coconut Sean got at the Hoste

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At Masons swimming hole

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Kelly Having bread thrown at her to the fishies from an above hill

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Looking out at the scenery from our jungle house in the forest

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Mr. Popcorn… we hope it wasn’t a Mrs :)

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Our Jungle house

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Eating our Aussie meat platter

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Walking on the coral off the beach on the way back from Cape Tribulation

06/23/2007 – On the Road, Again

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

After we got up and ready, we caught a quick bus ride over into the heart of cairns where we would execute the final adventure of our trip. We heard that Cape Tribulation was kinda the thing to do, we did it. But instead of doing a boring bus tour, we thought we could make it cheaper and more exciting by renting a car. At first we were tempted to get the cheapy “rent a bum” but apparently a lot of other people had that idea as well so all the bums were gone. The next best option was renting a tiny little ford muchacho or something. The car was in good condition and there really wasn’t anything wrong with it.

So we crammed in the car Shaq could drive if his seat was in the trunk and once again hit the road! We were warned to be careful on the road due to the high amount of collisions so we drove fairly slowly the whole way. It was about a three hour drive that seemed to go by very fast with all the very sights. Once we got out of Cairns, we finally got a view that looks something more of a paradise. Long white beaches with a jungle background, supposedly if the weather cooperated the sun makes the water look like something you see on a post card. It was still a cool site to see. Later on the drive we entered the “rain forest” where there was forest, and rain.

It was truly spectacular. It was dark by the time we had arrived to the jungle so pictures weren’t really possible. It was truly amazing. Rain pouring down through a lush green jungle, with the sound of rushing water and birds chirping. The road was very unfamiliar, curvy and wet so we kept the speed to a minimum. This way we also got to maximize the experience. After we came out of the thick of the forest it wasn’t long until we arrived at our place to sleep for the night. It was just a hostel that was laid out among the forest. We cooked up some beans & hot dogs and found some fresh bananas on a near by tree. Sean found and husked a coconut that we saved for breakfast the next morning.

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Sean Next to our baby car. We named him baby Freddie.

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A view along the road to Cape Tribulation

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Sean husking his coconut

06/20/2007 – 6/22/2007 – In Cairns

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

So the plane ride to Cairns was very bumpy! Kelly was tense the entire 2.5 hrs. When we arrived into Cairns we hopped a shuttle at midnight and rode it to the Hostel. The place we were staying, The Calypso, was pretty nice. Very chill and relaxed. They had a whole restaurant and bar section and a pool.

The next morning we decided that from the time in the camper, our sleeping bags had accumulated some sort of bed bugs and we decided to count all of our bites. We each had at least 30. Then we went for a walk to explore the town. We found a playground with some of the coolest toys ever! They, much like the ones in Sydney, seemed very dangerous, and we had a great time on them!!

Our biggest surprise was when we discovered that Cairns looked nothing like we thought it would. We imagined Hawaii where you could just snorkel off the beach. But there was no beach, it is just marshy mush. You have to go out on boat rides at least an hour to get to the reef.

That day we spent exploring for hours our many options on getting Scuba Certified. In the evening we had a buffet at The Calypso and talked with a very nice German guy for a long bit. Then we all played a trivia game they had going on there.

The next day was equally as relaxing. We walked around town again looking at our adventure options. A lot of people were telling us to go to this place called Cape Tribulation about 3 hours north. So we were considering it. We decided not to do Scuba Diving because it was HIGHLY overpriced…. HIGHLY. Not only that but because of rules with diving and flying we probably did not have a large enough time window to do it. We ended up planning on heading out the next day to the Cape.
We were planning on going snorkeling today, the 26th, but it has never cleared up here and is very cloudy and windy, which would make for very poor snorkeling. We never got out on the water but have been VERY happy with what we have got to do.

That night we went to a hostel called Gilligan’s just to check it out because we heard it was nice. Then we had dinner, and got ready to head out to Cape Tribulation the next day.

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Sean counting his bites at Calypso

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Cairns Shoreline

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At the coolest playground ever!

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This thing was spinning FAST!

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This climby thing rocked!

06/20/2007 – On the Road: Part 12 “Almost off the Road in Brisbane”

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

So after our exciting day at the zoo we ventured back into Brisbane. It was night time by then, but we decided that we would drive around and try to find an Internet cafe. We had not such luck… at least no luck parking anywhere near one for less than 10 dollars. So instead Sean cracked some macademia nuts, we had got near Nimbin, on the sidewalk in the city. We decided to head out of the city and find a place to sleep.

We had a map to tell us where the rest stops in the area were, but they are not nearly as clearly marked in Queensland as in New South Whales. So essentially we spent over an hour looking for a place to sleep. We ended up in a park, that was maybe a rest area about 20 min outside of the city. It was SOOOO windy that night and it was hard to sleep.

We woke up early the next day to drive back into the city to return our camper van. It took us a bit to find the place. But we were able to have an adventure in our search. At a point we saw a road, or what looked like a road, that I knew could get us to the road we needed to be on. So I told Sean to turn. It looked a bit ‘Dodgy’ but I encouraged Sean to continue driving knowing that our location was just over the hump. Anyway… we were obviously really out of it from the wind the previous night because we found ourselves driving through a street market… NO CARS ALLOWED!!!

Sean saw a cop and began by stating “how did I get here?” This was followed by the cop stating “I don’t know where you are from, but does this look like a road to you?!” We had one very unhappy cop on our hands. He followed by stating that we would receive a 250 dollar fine for our actions. Every word we said received a look as if saying “How stupid are you people!?!?!”… hey, what can you say… sometimes you just gotta do what ya gotta do :)

Kelly managed to start stowing him maps and fumbling around, and sting “we are just so confused, we have never been here before” he seemed a little bit calmer then, until he realized what an utter piece of junk we were in that was promoting STD’s on the side. He looked at us and said “is this car even registered?!” then began closely examining our vehicle, while we were trying to explain that it was a rental we were trying to return.

After some more attempts at trying to act confused, he let us go with a police led escort to an exit… OPPS :)

We can’t help but think of how many cops were told about us that night at the prescient, I mean imagine a someone driving down Third Street Promenade or K-street Mall… that was us!

We managed to return the car by 10am. Afterwards we rode a train to the main train station to purchase train tickets to Cains. The train tickets ended up being sold out. This was probably a good thing because they wanted $600 for the two of us. So last min we decided to fly to Cains. Though a serious of events we were finally able to purchase our tickets. We would fly out at 9pm so it was just a matter of killing some time. We found an internet Cafe in the train station for a few hours, finished booking the flight, then walked about town. We ended up seeing this large group of people in an opal store so we went in to see the deal. They were doing rock breaking looking for opals. We ended up staying in there for a couple hours. Sean bought me a beautiful opal necklace for our wedding gift, i love it! Then we went and got some cheep food from a pub and caught a train to the airport.

Side fact is that it cost a ton of money to get in or out of airports in Australia by train because of levy’s the country has.

Although we were not in Brisbane for very long we enjoyed our time!

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Sean cracking nuts on the sidewalk

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Our home in the park

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On the train to the airport

06/19/2007 On the Road: Part 11 “Australia Zoo”

Monday, June 25th, 2007

When we got up in the morning we made a quick bowl of oats. Our Irish friends advised us to check with the local tourist lady in the morning to get a 10% off coupon. We were all over that. Another interesting thing about our trip is the amount of brochures and junk that we have acquire. Every time you stop into one of these travel places you mention a noun and you get a handful of brochures about whatever you said. If it wasn’t for Kelly’s constant cleanup of these brochures I’m sure we would have easily a box full. So we tried to just get off with the coupon, which was in a book, but we mistaking told them something about “Queensland” and soon a few dozen maps, brochures and pamphlets made their way into our hands. After a quick stop to the rubbish, we headed out on “Steve Irwin” road.

The Australia Zoo is the Zoo that Steve Irwin took over from his parents in the early nineties. It wasn’t much then but it is quite the sight now. It’s a little bit out of the way of most of the other attractions of the coast, but its remoteness makes it feel more like a step into wildlife instead of zoo. The first thing we saw when we got there was a camel chillen but the front gate. The thing with this zoo that you could tell about it was that there is a clear intent for the people to be able to interact with all the animals. There would be some wild animals like turkey’s, lizards, birds just wandering around in the park. For other animals it meant having “shows” to be able to see / touch animals that couldn’t be safely handled, (Either bad for the animal or human) like a crocodile or koala. However, in some of these shows it seemed that Steve was the missing element. It wouldn’t be possible to replace his enthusiasm or joy to share his love of animals with others.

Perhaps the best interaction at the park is the “Kangaroo Heaven” where guests actually are able to hang out with a few dozen kangaroos without any obvious supervision. These kangaroos are totally fine with a five year old walking up to it and feeding it. They did not seem to be afraid of people at all. It made for some really fun pictures. It was probably our favorite part of the whole experience at the zoo.

We hopped back in our little disaster car and hit the road. By this point in our trip we have become familiar with a few more of our cars less noticeable features. One example is the “are you sure you wanna get out?” safety feature of the driver door. Often you will pull the handle and give a little shove and nothing happens. You must first as yourself “Do I really wanna get out?” If you do you must slam yourself against the door and you are on your way.

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With the zoos mascot :)

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With one of the many Kangaroos we got to touch and feed… CRIKEY it was awesome!! :)

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This was in the Stadium at the Zoo where they had Steve Irwins big Memorial service on TV

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Kelly next to a Tiger

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Part of the Steve Irwin Memorial where tons of people signed these shirts

06/18/2007 On The Road: Part 10 “Top o the Morning to Ya!”

Monday, June 25th, 2007

So after Surfers Paradise dove towards Brisbane. We were however not staying in Brisbane that night because we were going to the Australia Zoo the next day. So we drove right on through the city. We did however think that the city was beautiful at night. It is on a river which outlets to the ocean, and the city curves along with the river bends, and reflects brilliant colors along the passage.

Anyway. We drove about an hour out of the city and then turned onto “Steve Irwin Way” which is the highway to take you to the zoo. We drove on that for about 15 min the pulled off at the rest stop near the zoo. There was already a couple vans parked there and a group of 5 people sitting at the table across the way.

Sean and I cooked ourselves up some pasta, and enjoyed a nice bottle of sparkling red wine we had purchased back on Hunter Valley. While we were cleaning up Sean ended up getting into a conversation with the people at the other table. 3 guys and 2 girls all around our age from Ireland. We noticed that there were playing a game and asked them what it was. They asked us to join and we accepted. Soon we found ourselves at this table with 5 very funny Irish-folk playing… a drinking game. It was neat to be able to hangout with another culture that we haven’t yet experienced. We had lots of fun and ended up finding out that they will be in San Francisco in a couple months so we exchanged info. Maybe we will meet them again. Top o’ the morning to ya!

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With some of our new Irish friends  (Don’t worry, Sean has not acquired rabies, he is brushing his teeth:))

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The rest area near the zoo

06/18/2007 On The Road: Part 9 “Surfers Paradise?”

Monday, June 25th, 2007

After we got back to the main road we began heading the 3 hours north to Brisbane. Our first stop was about an hour outside of the city, Surfers Paradise. We were not disappointed with the town, just incredibly surprised. This is because of the name. You would think that a town with such a name would be a little town with huge waves and a lot of surfers. Although we arrived at dark, somehow we don’t think that that makes a difference in there being surfers there. It was essentially an Australian version of Vegas on the ocean. It was literally 60% hotel high rises, 20% shops, and 20% Huge Casinos. We really did not know what to do in this enormous place, so we walked on the beach for a brief period, which by the way was as soft as flour… amazing! We then drove our Ghetto-Mobile to the most renowned Casino in the town, Conrad Jupiter’s. It was pretty nice, so we hung out and watched people play Texas-Hold ‘em for a while then took off to hit the road again towards Brisbane, and The Australia Zoo.

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We did not take this picture :) But it is Surfers Paradise.

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We did take this pic :)

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but not this one :)

06/18/2007 On The Road: Part 8 “You Guys look’n for Some Good Weed Today?”

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Nimbin: Town of Weed… shhhh.

So Nimbin is the most notoriously know town of pot smokers in Australia, but supposedly no one knows that :) We certainly did not realize that when within the first minute of driving into town we saw five men rolling in the MIDDLE of the street!

But seriously… we did not know until we got to town. Everyone kept saying… Go to Nimbin… they have an alternative lifestyle. All the brochures say, people there live with alternative lifestyles. All this meant to us was… Yeah for organic food! That is what people had told us that you could get organic food there. We did not know it would smell like weed, but hey, organic is organic right? :)

Well, Nimbin was really interesting. We began counting how many times we were asked if we were “look’n for some good weed”. Final score:7.

It felt like we were in the middle of the 60′s, funny color signs, tye died shirts, bandannas. We sat down to have lunch and literally every table in the place had people smoking weed. It was crazy.

We did enjoy after walking through the town a bit, some fun completely organic and vegan food. It was pretty good. We walked for a while more then found another place for food, and shared some pancakes. The menu said the pancakes came with butter, we don’t know why ours had ice cream in the same size and position of butter scooped on-top of our food… but it tasted really good anyway!

We left Nimbin and decided to explore the local natural areas by driving the scenic way back out to the main Highway.

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Some people in Nimbin

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Nimbins main street

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On the senic drive back from Nimbin

06/17/2007 On the Road: Part 7 “YEAH for Cheap Bread!”

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Before driving to Byron we had to find Kelly’s money belt… oops :) We found it however in the bathroom at Lenox head.

When we got into Byron we were overwhelmed by the amount of people there. We had been told by Kangaroo Man that the town had grown significantly in the past ten years. We did not see it ten years ago, but even on a cold overcast day the town was hopping. Our first stop was the Internet cafe. Kelly liked this place because the worker was giving free chocolate to any girls who would do 5 push-ups, no one else tried but Kelly. Sean had to do 23 push-ups though to get his.

We had decided that the camper van leg of our journey would be the super cheap part, so we were aiming not to spend money in this town. We parked the van and walked around aimlessly for a couple hours. Then found a bread shop… THE bread shop of all bread shops. Why you ask? Why is OZ Bakery the Bomb! Well it is because after 4 pm, which it was, all bread is half price. So we got two ENORMOUS loafs of bread for $4! And you know we liked that!! :)

We ate out bread for a bit as we drove to the famous Byron Bay lighthouse. It was really hard to see because it was so dark and we couldn’t get very close at night. We then got in the van and drove right up next to the main beach about 10min away from the lighthouse. We made dinner in the parking lot, which was an odd mixture of pasta. We then took our pasta and some drinks down to the beach and sat on the rocks and talked for several hours about the rest of our lives. It was so enjoyable just to be thinking about how we actually have no clue what we will be doing when we get home, but to throw ideas around and see where we end up.

After we finished hanging out on the beach, we took of to find a place to sleep. Byron Bay had VERY stringent laws against camper vans and such, so there was really no way to park in the city. We found this ironic since it is supposedly such a large surfer town… but oh well.

We drove down the highway about two min. until we found a rest stop to sleep in for the next day in Nimbin.

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Sean doing push-ups for free chocolate at the internet cafe

06/16/2007 – 06/17/2007 On the road: Part 6 “Lenox Head”.

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

Sorry this one is a bit long…

We got back on the road with a new destination of a place called Lenox Head. Along the way we decided to take an alternative route which was very beautiful. It was right on the river and had a feel as if we were in the south somewhere. The best part was when we had caught the sun setting on the river. There were a bunch of people out along the shore line fishing and having a good time. We wished we too had a boat or fishing pole to join in. Our side route eventually dead ended into a ferry crossing which we were excited to board. Then we were back on the main road which was uneventful, but we eventually came in to the town of Lenox Head.

We found a parking spot and decided to check out the town. We discovered a “Hotel” (Australian word for bar) that seemed like half the town was in. We went inside and soon discovered that two rugby teams had just finished a game. We talked with a fellow who told us a bit about the game and competition of rugby on the national level with all the different Australian states. He also recommended a good place to sleep in Lenox Head and agreed with kangaroo man that “Byron Bay” isn’t camper van friendly.

Called by hunger we then went back to our camper van and went to the spot that the fellow had recommended, which was a parking area right on the ocean. We fired up the stove and began to cook spaghetti. We heard a huge group of girls singing songs and going crazy. It wasn’t long after we started to cook that some of them started to head our way. It appeared that there was about 25 or so of these girls that didn’t look older than 18 and all of them “pissed” (Australian word for Drunk). They though we were way cool because we were from California. Kelly dissolved the typical California myths for them. Then the cops came. The legal drinking age is 18, and probably half of them were under. All the cops did was take booze away from the young ones and wrote down their names. The ones that were of age got to keep theirs. Different girls kept coming over and testing our spaghetti to see if it was ready for us. They eventually left us to go into town and cause chaos there. We then enjoyed our half eaten meal right on the ocean.

Earlier in the day we had went to a hostel to fill up our water supply and met some guys that seemed like they were fairly cool, an Australian and German. We met back up with them later that night and went back to the “Hotel” to play some pool. We hung around there for a while waiting to play and talked to some people who were also traveling. When we did get to play Sean blames the fact that there was only one Cue and playing on an irregular table size for not winning a single game. We soon left and told our new friends we would try and see them tomorrow.

The next day we deiced it was time for a shower. So we paid four bucks and got our moneys worth. We took like hour and a half showers, washed our dishes, charged our camera battery and filled up our water supply. When we returned the shower key to the lady at the office she thought we had run off with it. Before we left for Byron we ran into Joel, friend from last night and talked to him for a bit.

He basically gave us his life story that he was living on the beach in the same town as the girl he loved. The girl didn’t really love him back. It sort of made him stuck in this cycle. We didn’t really know what to tell him. We shared a bit of our faith with him and told him that we would pray for him. He appreciated it and then we wished each other well. We then continued on our way to Byron Bay.

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Sean, Kelly, and Joels Peace sign :)

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having lunch next to the lake in Lenox

06/16/2007 On the road: Part 5 “Kangaroo Man”

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

We kept driving up the coast until we got board and wanted some adventure. Earlier in the day we had tried to score free sugar at a sugar mill but being the weekend the main office wasn’t open. We were tempted to grab a piece of sugar cane off the side of the road, but we weren’t sure what we should do with it. We eventually felt up for another adventure and pulled off at some road that said something about “New Italy” and thought we might be able to go in and check it out. However we saw some sign that mentioned the “Daylily Farm.” We didn’t have a clue what it was but it sounded like it might be interesting to check out. So we pulled in and saw a saw a giant garden and pond. Soon we were greeted by man named “Mic.”

We didn’t really know what we were doing or going to do here seeing how we just kinda pulled in unannounced. But the way we were received it seemed as if it happened all the time. He began to give us a tour of his giant garden, which contained a few hundred different types of plants, fruit trees, etc. We learned that he creates his own flowers by “breeding” different flowers with each other. He went through a book that he had of all the different flowers he had created. We learned a lot about the purest way to grow anything out of the ground and how fresh fruit tastes much better straight off the tree instead of being frozen for up to a year.

Mic also had an abundance of Kangaroos around his property, hence we gave the title “kangaroo man”. To him they were normal, but it was the first kangaroos we had seen in Australia, Kelly took lots of pictures. He explained that if you don’t look at them and don’t walk directly towards them you can get extremely close. We were able to see a joey feeding right out of mama’s pouch. We talked for a while and had a good conversation about all kinds of topics. We also learned that our next intended destination “Byron Bay” might not be the best option. He told us that it is usually very crowded and typically not the best place for campervans. He recommended “Lenox Head” instead.

It was cool that we were able to just run into a random place and have such a good time with a stranger. We also enjoyed all the knowledge of eating natural fruit and the like from him. We were encouraged to go and eat some organic healthy food, he recommended a town called Nimbin. But for the night we were off to explore Lenox Head.

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The Sugar Mill

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See the Kangaroo?

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Playing with Mics dog Chelsea

06/15/2007- 06/16/2007 – On the Road: Part 4 “We Like Free Newspapers… Just not Thrown at Us :)”

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

So after we left the town where we got stuck we hit the road. Our first stop was an awesome play ground at a rest stop that had very few toys but for some reason a ton of tall poles sticking out of the ground.

Then a bit later we pulled off the road to decide what we should do. The road that we pulled off on happened to be right next to this really cool mountain. So we decided that we would try and drive down the little country road to get a better view of the mountain. But we kind of just kept driving. Then we came to a T in the road and decided to go right. We ended up in a baby town that somewhat reminded me of our little town of Rescue. It had a itty bitty school, and a general store. From discussion with the Australians working in that store (who were somewhat wondering how or why the heck we were there) we decided to go visit a water fall they have locally.

So we drove down a bumpy little dirt road for a bit, and saw lots of cows, and began saying obsessively in southern accents “Can I pet your cow?” So when we ran into a lady on the road near a house with cows, Sean did not hesitate to ask her if she had or knew of any cows we could pet. Unfortunately she did not, but it was worth the try.

We got to the waterfall after a beautiful drive (Seans edit: parts of this road were the bumpiest dirt road I’ve ever driven on. I thought to myself, “I wish we had something that needed a lot of shaking”), took some pictures then took off back to the road. On our way back we stopped and got some fruit from the side of the road, then went back to the general store, cut it up and ate it… yummy :)

That town was a lot of fun because the people were really friendly and you could tell it was just a really big community of people, and everyone was saying hi to us.

After we left there we kept driving until we got to Port Macquaries early in the night. We intended to stay here but got board with the town and hit the road again. That is after using a Starbucks power to charge our ipod while we took an hour to drink a tea.

On the road we made our way to Coffs Harbor, which some people had recommended to us. It was around 10pm when we pulled into town. We pretty much just looked straight away for a place to park our camper van. No where really looked sufficient, but we found a place to wash up at a car park. But it was really loud there so we kept looking. We ended up in a little residential neighborhood. We were near a bunch of houses but got the van ready and went to bed. Around 4am we were however rudely awakened.

“WHAM!!” a loud noise instantly woke both Sean and I up. We were both having dreams about driving, so I though we had hit a Kangaroo, and Sean thought we got in a crash. He wanted to go out and see what it was, but I was apprehensive so we waited until the morning.

The next day we found a stack of about 25 newspapers had been delivered to our back door. I did not know that we had made such an order but it was nice of them to drop them off anyway free of charge. I do however wish that he had better aim because he hit our back door and made a fairly significant dent in it. None the less we got ready and met a lot of neighborhood locals who I think thought we were a bit homeless… thats okay, we were used to it by then.

We met a guy who know where the “Advocate” Newspaper was, so we made a journey there. However they were unfortunately closed, so we left Coffs Harbor, stopped at a beach, then hit the road again.

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Playing at the Rest Stop Playground

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06/14/2007 – 06/15/2007 On the Road: Part 3 “’Stuck’ on the Coast”

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

After we left Hunter Valley it started to get dark. We didn’t really know for sure where we were going to stay this night. So we just kept driving thinking we would find something interesting. After a bit we turned off a road that said something about a state park with a bunch of lakes. It sounded like a good time so we turned off of it. We drove around randomly for about and hour pulling in and out of different spots deciding we didn’t like them for whatever reason.

We then pulled into one spot that was a little different from the rest. It was just a little area on the side of the road. It wasn’t until the last minute that we saw that it kind of looked like mud. We tried to keep moving through it but it was too late… we were stuck! Upon further inspection it appeared that it was just very soft sand. We were pretty sure we needed to be pulled out so we just though we would wave someone down. However it was past 11 at night and we were in the middle of nowhere. Luckily however within a few min. we saw someone, however after some inspection we all decided that his car could not get us out, so he left.

After a bit more time we saw another car coming down the road. Sean started waving around his headlamp to get the guy to pull over. As the car was pulling off we smiled after realizing it was a four-wheel drive. We then met Danny. He looked at the car and pulled some straps out of his car. We put them on… but they were not strong enough and snapped instantly.

We stood there for a minute trying to figure out what to do, and then Danny said that he thought he might have some stronger stuff back home. So he left to get it and we stayed there trying to cook noodles, unfortunately our stove was broken and no dinner was made that night.

About 15 min. later Danny returned with a towing rope. We strapped it up and… We escaped the sand!! We were so excited. It was really quite funny, and we figured we would probably just re-park the car and camp. Then Danny invited us to stay at his house! We were really excited for the wonderful invite… especially because we were getting a little stinky and in need of showers :) So we got in the car and followed him for a bit to his place.

When we got there we saw that it was a house overlooking the ocean! It was so awesome. Danny made us coffee, and we all talked for a bit then hit the sack. The next day we got to take showers and feast upon Australian made Vegemite toast… it was good!
We then packed up our bags and took off. We had asked Danny if he knew about any abalone in the area, he said he used to get a lot when he was a kid right off the rocks. This got us excited for the possibility of scoring an ab! He said to try down near shoreline. We couldn’t find any, but the beach was beautiful anyway.
Then we hung in town for a while doing random errands and chores, then got on the road again.

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06/13/2007 – 06/14/2007 On the Road: Part 2 “Hunter Valley”

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

We really didn’t have much idea how to get to

Hunter Valley Wine Country, we had only read about it in our guide books. We also weren’t 100% sure any wineries would be open as the rain had flooded the whole area the week before. None-the-less we continued to drive up the coast assuming we’d worry about it when the time came.Australian road signs are a bit different than American road signs. Speeding for example is something they seem very passionate about preventing. Every so often they’ll have a set of about 5 signs to help prevent speeding. It will start off with a speed sign saying what the limit is. Then there will be a sign that says “How fast are you going now?” Sometimes you will see a sign that reads “Speed Limits are enforceable”. Then a series of signs that warn of a speed camera, speed camera ahead, speed camera used in this area. Luckily for us our van has no trouble keeping under the speed limit so hopefully we have not gotten a ticket. As far as directions they have all sorts of diagrams as to what the road does and where it goes. So they were actually very helpful in guiding our way to Hunter.When we arrived in hunter we were trying to find a good place to sleep. People had been telling us there was “caravan parks” where you can camp your car and there are all kinds of wonderful amenities around you. However most of the ones we could find wanted you to pay for them. So we aren‘t the type to pay for something if we don’t need it, so we figured we could just park the thing anywhere and sleep. So basically we just pulled into a hotel parking lot and set up shop. We used the little gas burner provided in the van to cook our dinner. We got a few odd stares from a few of the hotel guest but we just accepted the fact that our actions appeared homeless. While in the spirit of homelessness we decided that the best place to wash up for bed would be at good ‘ol McDonalds’s. When we had finally set up for bed in the camper we felt like a bunch of hippies from the 60′s. It was a fun experience adjusting to the whole campervan thing.I’ll make the day quick because this internet cafe is closing. We got up made breakfast at a big park with all kinds of kids around. We had to wash our dishes in the bathroom with all the kids wondering what the homeless family was doing near they’re carnival.

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wineries. We visited a few winers and a brewery which was fun to learn about how beer is made. Then we visited chocolate shops then a champagne place which was a lot of fun (check out the picture with the Champagne guy). We then headed out of Hunter about 5 o’clock on our way to an eventful night unknowingly ahead of us.p1010239.JPGp1010251.JPG

06/13/2007 On the Road: Part 1 “The Beginning”

Friday, June 15th, 2007

We had been asking people the best way to get up to “Cans.” Popular Aussie opinion pointed to a campervan (van with a bed in the back). We’ve been trying to figure out the Aussie thing to do most of our trip, so we deiced to get a campervan. We would take off from Sydney and journey our way up to Brisbane about 2/5 the way to Cairns.

The train dropped us off near the place where we were to “hire” our camper van. When we first looked at our new ride, we thought it looked alright. It wasn’t until we actually sat down behind the wheel of this van did we know what we were getting ourselves into. The company that we got our camper van from takes pride in giving you a vehicle that looks like it drove out of a wrecking yard. Each one has a different theme, we’re not sure what ours is but it might have something to do with an STD? When we first started her up it sounded like a creature from the grave had risen. They must have looser smog controls because this thing could be used to as a drive by gas chamber. When we first turned on the “wrong side of the road” the windshield wipers went on. It appears that the blinker and windshield wipers are on different sides than in the states. So basically there was a ghetto, STD promoting, scrap metal on wheels, smoke blowing van with its windshield wipers on its way to the unknown. Apparently freeways aren’t very common in the Sydney area, so we spent about 2 hours before we finally out of the city and on the road headed towards Brisbane. Our first stop on our journey would be Hunter Valley.

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06/11/2007 – 06/13/2007 Sydney… Not so much

Friday, June 15th, 2007

So it’s been a while since we’ve last updated so we’ll try to crank out what we’ve done since our last blog.So you know were not big city people, so after one night back in Sydney, we decided to go on a spur of the moment trip down the coast to a place we’ve heard of called “Seven Mile Beach”. We went to the train station and rode south for about 2 hours, when we got off in some town; we didn’t know where to go from there. It was basically a train stop in the middle of farm land. We saw another couple headed some where so we decided to follow them. But with our packs on we weren’t fast enough so we soon lost them. We eventually went into a town that had signs for “Seven Mile Beach.” After loading up on food we made our journey in that direction. When we found the camp after a three mile trek at night it was only us and other couple who was staying at the “Holiday Park.”

The next day we went for a walk on the beach which was beautiful, hung out at the campsite, when on a walk to a small store, played in quick sand and enjoyed the views. We had to get up early the next day to try and catch the train out of the town back to Sydney. So we made a quick dinner and went to bed. The next morning we were running a little late to get to the train. We had to walk 3 miles in 30 minutes with our heavy packs on… needless to say we didn’t make the 9:00 train. After we had breakfast in town, we began walking to catch the next train and on the way we were offered a ride by a lady. So she took us to the next train station down the line. We had and hour to kill so we checked out around that town and found a blow hole and beautiful view of the ocean.

We rode back into Sydney on the train. It was a quick little side trip that we had a lot of fun on. We got to see a different side of Australia so that was fun. The area we stayed was very quiet and peaceful, we lucked out because the “HolidayPark” looked like it could be a very busy place in an Australian Summer.

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06/10/2007 – Back in Sydney!?

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

Well we might of thought that we had left the city for good, but we suppose that on an adventure you never quite know what is going to happen next.

So from the train in Dulwich Hill, which is where the Hostel was, we rode back into Sydney. We did this in order to rent a camper van to drive into Hunter Valley to go wine tasting today. These vans are a VERY popular way to get around Australia, and fairly cheep. However a couple problems arouse.

We came to a travel agent of sorts who can contact all of the camper van locations. However this is the Queens birthday weekend, either places are not open or they are out of vans because so many people are traveling. So we came to the conclusion that there is no way we can get a car till Tuesday. Plus we were planning on taking the van to Hunter Valley but because of the rains it is completly flooded, and the roads are closed.

We want to drive the van from here, Sydney, to Brisbane. From Brisbane we are planning or riding a train or bus. (Moms you will be happy… we decided not to hitchhike because we found out it is illegal and can be more dangerous that we originally anticipated)

So now here is the plan. We are back here in Sydney for two more nights. We booked the a room at the hostel near by and will be staying there tonight. It is a super place, a part of the same chain of hostels we have been staying in, the YHA. Now we will have some more time to do Sydney stuff, and then by Tuesday we will be able to go out to the hopefully more dry Hunter Valley. We will have the van for a week so the road is ours to explore. We are super excited about what happens next, and will keep you updated.

06/09/2007- 06/10/2007 – The Hostel Adventure

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

We found a hostel we could stay in a bit out of Sydney that was cheaper that ones in the city. So we walked to the train station in the Blue Mountains and hoped on the train that the lady told up to go on. By the time we achieved our destination we had hopped three trains and were somewhere in some city some distance out of Sydney. All we knew was that we needed to walk ten minuets from the train station to the Hostel. After walking about fifteen, we thought, maybe jut a bit further. About a half hour into the walk we accepted that we might be lost. It was definitely dark, definitely starting to rain, and we definitely had no clue where to go. So we turned around. We found a gas station that was closed but started yelling to see if someone would come out… no one did. So we kept walking back.

Eventually we were just about back to the train station and found a man who was able to help us. He informed us that we had walked the wrong way off the train and needed walk the other way from the train station. So we walked ten minuets that way and found it!! YEAH! Once there we were assigned a room. As we were trying to lock the door though we realized that the door lock was broken. So we walked the three floors back down to the front desk, and got assigned another room. After beginning to settle down in there we noticed that the rain had found its way through the open window all over our bed. So we walked the four floors back down to the front desk and got a third room. We walked four floors up to that one and… it was okay :) So we settled in. Then we ordered pizza and waled with it to a pub where some random Bolivians were playing music and singing at their tables. So we sat, ate our pizza, watched and enjoyed.

The next morning (today) we got up, packed up, and left the Hostel, back to the train station.

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06/08/2007- 06/09/2007 – The Blue Mountians

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

From the hotel in Sydney we strapped up our packs and headed to the train station where we figured out that in order to get into the Blue Mountains we needed to go to Katoomba. So we purchased our tickets and began our 2 hour train ride. It was awesome seeing the countryside from the train.

We arrived in the Blue Mountains and stepped off the train into a raging winter storm. We had no clue which way to turn or which way to go. We walked into an outdoor store and got some tips about what to do and where to stay. We also asked where there might be a thrift store as we were ill prepared for the weather. We were recommended to stay at a Youth Hostel down the street, ranked second best in the world, so we made our way there. We settled in then went and got food at one of the MANY kabob shops that Australia offers.

The next day we woke up to a continuing ranging storm. But we had made the trek to the mountains and were not going to let the weather imped upon our adventure. So we bundled up and began walking to the forest. The Blue Mountains are actually a plateau that has been worn down thus creating the mountainous form. All the towns are at the top of this. So we began high and started working our way down the path. The adventurous part is that the ground was solid puddles, and the sky way a solid wall of water, plus we hiked the entire way down along a water fall… a very long waterfall. This forest is essentially a rain forest. We felt like we were in the middle of the Amazon. We got to the bottom, ate Vegemite sandwiches, then continued for about a 1/2 hour to the golden staircase.

Now, you ask, what is this staircase. Well it is the path to exit the bottom of the mountains up to the top. It is 1,000 stairs carved into the side of the mountain. So we began our trek UP. very up. It was totally worth it though when we got almost too the top and got to go in a carved out area of the famous three sisters rock formation. Then we continued up to the very top where we got to take lots of great pictures because the clouds and fog began clearing a bit and we could see the Gods INCREDIBLE creation as we looked onto the valley… it took our breath away.

We then walked a half our back to the hostel, dried our cloths, sat by the fire, and ate the free spaghetti noodles that were left in the fridge by someone. Then it was time to figure out what we were doing for sleep that night.

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06/06/2007 – 06/08/2007 – Day in Manly and Getting Ready to Leave Sydney

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

We would love to update you on some of our more recent adventures since the last time we made a post.

We left off that we had just arrived in Manly, a beach town a short boat ride from Sydney. After we left blogging, we walked around the streets then headed to the beach. It was very beautiful and peaceful, then we walked along a path way they have to a little lagoon. We sat there for a while, and watched Manly city lights grow brighter in the setting sun. Then we took a short walk to an over look that looked onto the South Pacific Ocean.

Being out of the city for the first time we were able to notice the stars… they were completely different! We saw two planets that we have no clue as to their names, and will someone please tell us where the Big Dipper is! :)

After that we walked back into the city, then shortly after that caught a boat back into Sydney, of course not before we enjoyed some of Australia’s abundance of Gellato ice cream. Once in Sydney we enjoyed the half hour or so walk back to the hotel from the harbor.

The following day was very relaxing and ended with us going to see a circus show at the famous Sydney Opera house. That was awesome to go in there!

The next morning we got up, packed our stuff and prepared to leave our 5 star hotel for the adventure of not having a clue to where we were staying next, except that we were headed to the Blue Mountains.

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In Australia

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

First I would like to say that we had the greatest day of our lives on Saturday. Everything was so much fun! Everything went so perfect and the night was flawless. The only thing I would have liked to change was that it could have been longer. We didn’t have enough time to get around to everyone who was there. When we got to our hotel, they some how lost our reservation but it worked out because they ended up giving us a little discount and free breakfast in the morning.

The flight was 15hrs long, and it felt at least 15hrs long. We tried to sleep, but it was not very good sleep. We were however fully entertained by the GPS screen we could watch that told us all the info on the flight. We flew at at an altitude of 35,000ft, and the average outside temperature was -61 degrees Fahrenheit!

We’ve been in Australia for our second day now. It was a bit weird since we didn’t really have a Monday with the time change and all. When we arrived it was 6:00am Australian time but 2:00pm American, so we decided we would just try and stay up all day to adjust our schedules.

We rode the “train” (subway) from the airport to the city, and it was CRAZY bussy because everyone was on their way to work and school and here we are with our huge backpacks trying not to hit to many people.

Once we found our hotel we stored our bags (since our room wasn’t ready) and took off to explore. We ended up at a park near Darling Harbor. The child play stuff seemed more dangerous than American playgrounds… which made it extra fun for us!! We then spend a few hours walking around and earning the town. In the early afternoon we went to the oldest part of Sydney “The Rocks”. We tried to find a place to eat but they had later “trading hours”. Then we went to see Pirates 3 for about 5 American dollars each at night.The film ended at 6:00am American time, so Kelly got sleepy and never found out how the movie ended :) . It was a very long and action packed day.

Today we are in Manly, which is a quick boat ride away from Sydney, were still not sure what’s over here but a lot of people have recommended it so here we are! We’ll update as we get more info.On the plane… YEAH WERE MARRIED!!

Weee… At the park

At the park, Sydney in the background

What the heck is this thing??

Seans loves animals :)

Smile… were married!!

Sydney Harbor Bridge

Sydney Harbor Bridge

How were paying for our honeymoon :)

On the boat to ManlyMy wife modeling

My husband modeling