Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Australia 2010: 16. Fraser Island and Meeting Mr Dingo....

Hey Guys - Sal here reporting from Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia.
Wow 8 months in Oz already! Last night I jumped on a boat under the starry sky back to Hervey Bay here from the beautiful Fraser Island. But more about that later....

Recently the rain in Queensland has dominated and is flooding the areas but I had nothing to hang around for so I caught a  lift with an American guy called Baz  (his middle name was in fact Duke) in my backpackers in Rockhampton who was heading to Agnes Water in the Town of 1770 a nice lil laid back fishing town, lined with surf shops and restaurants which has great surf - but no one locks their doors which coming from London couldn't fathom the trust of the environment!. It was quite a trip and we were actually pulled over by the police because Baz took his seatbelt off for 30 seconds - they are very strict on road safety out here so we were majorly caught off guard. The Aussie road is full of unpredictability and adventure - even in the pouring rain!

I took a 3 hour surf lesson for $17! from the local surf shop who told me ''Just show up at 10 and we'll give ya a board'' in fact its probably the best price for surf lessons on the whole of the East Coast! yep sharks in the water, won't get a better price than that in Australia - but because Oz is such an outdoorsy place it can be a bummer when it rains so I couldn't go motorbike riding, but its a good excuse to go back.....I did get a free tour of the Agnes Water by 'Macca' who worked at the backpackers. I helped clean the backpackers in 1770 and the owner who I'd discovered actually invented the backpacking industry in Australia paid me a bit for my efforts! Super! Was very impressed by 1770, but not the weather!

Hitching a ride with Baz to the Town of 1770...

Deciding to move on from the downpours of 1770. I arrived in Hervey Bay, which is the gateway out to Fraser Island with a fantastic hip guided tour called Cool Dingo Tours

Fraser Island is a beautiful Aboriginal territory east of Hervey Bay, the 2 day tour consisted of a quirky tour guide driving us on an extremely bumpy 4WD bus over the rough terrain time (seatbelts were a must) and educated us about the aborigine habitats whilst walking in the beloved rainforest, swimming in crystal clear lakes of Lake McKenzie and checking out the decayed 100 year old shipwreck of the Maheno Wreck. We also stopped off to view some sandblows which make you feel like you're really in the middle of the desert and Eli Creek which you allegedly meant to float down (we sure didn't float)  On route along towards Indian Head in the north of the Island, Mr Dingo introduced himself to us but they're wild dogs so no poochie kisses (our tour guide was very protective of us, but the Dingo didn't seemed bothered). It was extremely special to see a wild dingo in its natural habitat. Once we reached the top of Indian Head, I watched Stingrays, a pod of dolphins swim pass and hump back whales migrating back to Antartica. Cool! The Champagne Pools were incredible. The sea causes a pool of water to bubble like a champagne glass as it thrashes against the rocks, was exhilarating and nothing I'd ever seen before. The night was spent playing funny drinking games in the on island Dingo Bar but overall we were lucky with the weather as it perked up a little bit by then lucky for us so I had a great trip. Here's some photos from my Fraser Island Adventures...

Lake McKenzie.....gorgeous lake on the Island

Hello Mr Dingo....:)

On top of Indian Head

Wild Dolphins!

The 100 Year old Maheno Wreck

Now I'm settled back in Hervey Bay and I'm going to head south to check out the surf and Steve Irwin's famous Australia Zoo - as far as Brisbane and then head up to the deserts of the Northern Territory before looking for work again (fingers crossed). But this is a beautiful country and want to see as much as possible but of course I do find myself thinking about the charms of London every now and again - must be getting cold there now - haha!
Anyway, thanx for reading and hope life is being kind to you, there's so many more stories but my fingers hurt now so signing off...until next time dudes!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Australia: 15. The Art of Fruitpicking, Under The Bridge and Escape To The Outback...


Hello! or G'Day! should I say...

Thanks for checking in to my latest blog from my Cross Country trip Down Under....

Still in Queensland, think its my favourite Aussie state so far...

After jumping on a Greyhound bus out of Airlie Beach for 9 hours further down the east coast to Rockhampton (honestly to get from one town to another in this country is a holiday in itself - but I've come to enjoy the mishaps and colour of a long road journey).

I was anchored in Rockhampton which isn't really anything I would say to stick around for. Still I was anchored there for five days.....waiting for a ride in country to the harvest town. I did a lot of wandering around - I figured I'd rest before my physically demanding work as a fruit picker commences where I'll be grateful for these days off....but five days nearly killed me... 

I was making my way inland to Emerald to start work again as I was running on empty with the dollars and thanks to my friend, got a job at a farm picking mandarins, limes and pulling fruitless shoots off grape vines (well that was the idea anyway).

I lived in a remote workers camps with other travellers and many travelling Australians who had retired or spent their lives working the 'Harvest Trail' following the fruits and vegetable harvests around Australia in their campervans and caravans....quite a life. I lived pretty remote for two months beside the orchards way out of town but it was an interesting and funny experience being involved in the Australian Harvest Trail and being mentored in the fruitful 'art of fruitpicking'.

In fact I actually really enjoyed the peace and tranquility for a while.

I had a pet horse too, 'Duke' who I'd go and feed everyday after work and also joined the Pistol Club next door to the orchard where I learnt how to shoot pistols at targets on my days off. That's how I like to spend days off haha. 

Fruitpicking can pay well if you work hard (I aimed for three full bins of Mandarins a day) and it is back breaking, but it's weather or not you can withstand the pain for a while, but man you get fit. I think I lost a bit of weight too but have had my fair share of cuts, bruises, injuries and laughs in the orchard - I had a cool picking team which makes sometimes being treated like you're in the army much more of a laugh. 

A hit at the Pistol Club next door and with the 'true blue bosses' boss ever

Anyway, the majority of my time has been out there living in the orchard working really hard out there in the sun - 35 degrees and thats winter! but the great thing about fruitpicking is you have such a monotonies lifestyle, you are not even tempted or given the opportunity to blow your hard earned cash on trivial matters - so I've got enough money to hit the road again after 8 weeks after the winter had passed (and you'd rather be up here in Queensland in the winter anyway).

Never thought I would say this but I actually ended up homeless for a few nights with some of the other fruit pickers. Unless you're driving, the only way out of Emerald is the bus and train and - well guess what, Greyhound stopped the bus route so we were stuck job finished, and no where to live. So....I lived under a bridge, no really, I was sleeping under a bridge. It was cool though, other travellers were too and here is Dan with his campervan joining us as he works his way around Australia.  

Funny enough, we actually missed our train heading out of Emerald because we went to get a sandwich! The lugguge was on the train so we had to get a friend to drive us to the next town to catch it as it came through ha! honestly.....its been a great adventure and come to realise there are some very kind and hospitable people out there on the road.

Spring is now here in Oz and I was yearning to head into the outback to live the REAL Aussie outback stuff, y'know the stuff Clint Eastwood is about. So....I jumped on a bus heading out to a lil outback town called Biloela and found Kroombit Lochenbar Station 35km east of the small town.

I spent a fantastic week there fully living and indulging in tasting this cattle station lifestyle. With onsite station hand tuition from the resident 'Jackaroos' and station owners - I learnt how to muster up cattle (well baby goats) on horseback, sleeping (under the cloudy skies) in swags by the fire, fire a shotgun, lassoing goats in the bull pen, I can even crack a whip now! (and kept it too!)  - it rained pretty much the whole time but was a great experience. I recommend you all have a go if you're after a real authentic experience if you come to Australia!

 But can't ride the rodeo. I suck at rodeo riding.
[Horse Head View] Mustering cattle....well goats anyhow
Yehawwww learning to lasso in the goat pen

Swaggin' and Shootin' it up...

London-city girl turned Aussie Jillaroo......

Now I'm back in Rockhampton (again) I'm getting to know this town prettttyyyy well, but I'm planning to head further down the coast to Hervey Bay and beyond to visit the famous Fraser Island and those cute lil dingos..
Thanks for checking in. Laters.