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Saturday, June 19, 2004
Sydney (part 2)
On my return to Sydney I spent a day in the city before going on an ecotour in the Blue Mountains. I went with Wildframe Ecotours on a day tour and then spent two nights in Katoomba YHA before returning to the city. The ecotour consisted of day walking through the Grand Canyon, where we took in the spectacular view of Grose Valley from Evans Lookout. At Katoomba we saw the Three Sisters and Jamison Valley. The three sisters are three large pieces of rock, which are located on the edge of a valley. Also I took a ride on the Skyway cable car and the Scenic Railway, which is the worlds steepest railway.

During my two days in Katoomba I spent most of my time reading and writing this blog.

On the day of my return to Sydney I was picked up by Wildframe and taken to a park where we were shown how to throw a boomerang and then onto the national park where we watched kangaroos over a cup of tea. We returned to Sydney early evening. I spent the next week or so just chilling out and visiting a couple of sights such as Manly and Mrs Macquaries Point.

So my time in Oz had finally come to an end. After four months and seeing sights such as Cape Tribulation, Byron Bay, The Coat Hanger, Opera House, Rialto Tower, AMP Tower, Melbourne F1 GP/Albert Park, Twelve Apostles, Barossa Valley, travelling on the Indian Pacific, Margaret River, Frazer Island, Whit Sunday Islands, Uluru, Kings Canyon and Kata Tjuta. Seeing animals such as crocodiles, bats, lizards, kangaroos, emus, kolas, dingos, seals, dolphins, spiders and surprisingly no snakes. Not a sausage!

I changed my flight date and destination, which meant I flew five days earlier to the land of the long white cloud (NZ).

Posted at 6/19/2004 12:13:39 am by willpovey
Comments (1)  

Friday, June 18, 2004
The Red Centre
On arriving in Alice I checked into my ice cold hostel, which I was glad of, as it was quite hot outside. I spent a few nights in Alice mainly catching up on this blog. I had booked myself on a bus trip called "Just The Centre" which was run by Wayward Bus who I used for my Great Ocean Road. So for the next three and half days I would be touring round the Red Centre.

Picked up in the cold and dark at 06:45 I climbed aboard and so it began. We first visited Rainbow Valley, which has great spiritual significance. It was a good place to take photos. We made for our night stop of Kings Creek Station, where we took in the sunset. We had the chose of sleeping in swags or tents. I had been told to try a swag as it was meant to be great. A swag is a canvas rectangle in which you put your sleeping bag in. It has zips down each side and a flap at the top, which you can pull over your head. It also has a piece of foam to cushion your back from the hardness of the ground. I slept in a swag for all three nights and found it to be great, our guide said " Welcome to the Startlight Hotel". He was right, the view just looking up at the sky was incredible. Sleeping in the middle of the red centre with nothing to protect you from snakes and other creepy stuff is an experience. One thing that would get on my nerves after a while would be that everything gets covered in red dust, everything!

The second day started at 05:00 yes 5 am. It was dark and cold. After showers and a cup of tea we set off of for Kings Canyon. We arrived at the Canyon and wasted no time  with starting the climb. Attempting this walk anytime after 09:00 would be very foolish as it gets very hot. The flies were really bad and I was really glad to have my trendy green fly net. Everyone at some stage had at least 20 or 30 flies on their back. The walk took about three hours. In some places the drop was almost 300 feet to the bottom. The common thing to do while your here is to lie on you’re front and wiggle forward until you can see over the edge. The rock in some place is very flat and has some great markings. Along the walk we passed through the Lost City and the Garden of Eden. The garden has a pool situated in a small deep valley. The water was surprisingly cool considering where it was. We returned to the bus and headed off for the main event Uluru. We arrived in the Ayres Rock Resort and set up camp for the next two nights. We went and watched the sunset by the rock. It was spectacular, the colours of the rock and the sky are fabulous. That night we roasted marsh mellows by our camp fire and drunk a few stubbies.

The next day we got up again at 05:00 and went to Uluru for sunrise. This was also a real eye opener. It takes about 25 - 30 Min's for the sun to rise. Again the colours of the rock were gob smacking. My camera got a real work out that morning. Later we made for the rock. The group split up into two groups. Some went with our driver/guide on a 9km base walk all around the bottom of the rock while the others climbed it. Uluru is a special place for the Aboriginals. They ask people not to climb it and have a large sign at the base stating this and detailing how many people have lost there lives while climbing. How ever it is not against the law to climb and is done at your own risk. I had not made up my mind before we reached the base. But seeing it and there being a group of us who were going to climb it, I decided to do it.

What had I let myself in for. The rock has no steps or real path. One wrong step and you could be a goner. The climb starts off OK, then you have to use a chain to pull yourself up. After about one third of the way up we had a stop for a breather. I could hardly get my breath. The rest of the climb was easier and didn't require a chain. It consisted of small valleys and paths with nothing but a great drop on either side. Once I reached the top the view was great. I could see Kata Tjuta and across the red centre floor. Time for a few photos and to send some txt messages. The decent was just as difficult as the ascent. The aboriginals call the people who climb the rock mingers. This is not to be confused with the meaning we have back home.

My decision to climb Uluru has been met by a few negative views from people I know and have met since. I don't regret climbing Uluru and would recommend it to the fit and stupid.

We loaded the bus and headed back to camp for lunch before setting off for Kata Tjuta. Here we hiked the Valley of the Winds. Unfortunately the climb up Uluru had taken it's toll on my feet and I had to turn back after about 30 Min's. I returned to the bus and chilled out with files until the others returned. Later that day we went to the sunset at Kata Tjuta, which was swarming with flies. Good job the beer was cold. Again we had a camp fire and knocked back a few beers.

The last morning came and we left camp and I got dropped of at the Ayers Rock Resort YHA. This was the most expensive hostel I have ever stayed in at $37 ~ 13.00 gbp for a four share room. I spent a day and a half before flying from Ayers Rock airport to Sydney. Ayers Rock's airport only has one runway, six check in gates and one departure gate

Posted at 6/18/2004 3:54:43 am by willpovey
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Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Perth (part 2)
On my return to Perth I spent about 6 days with the girls. We went for another look at the view from Kings Park, took in a film. Also during the week we visited the suburbs of Leederville and Subaico and look around the markets. One night we met up with Louise, Denise, Mark and Paul who were all on my Great Ocean Road trip. Louise and Denise had already been in Perth a while and were about to leave on a 7 day road trip going to the north of the city. Mark and Paul had just come from seeing Uluru, Kings Canyon and Kata Tjuta in the Red Centre. I had originally planned to fly back to Adelaide, but instead changed my ticket and flew Alice Springs.

Posted at 6/16/2004 4:43:33 am by willpovey

Thursday, May 20, 2004
Road Trip
So Saturday arrived and brought with it the start of our eight day road trip. The plan was basically to travel cross country in a south easterly direction heading for a coastal town called Esperance. This would be the longest and probably most tiring day of the whole trip. We would then spend the next 7 days touring along the coast and round back up to Perth.

The distance from Perth to Esperence is about 800 km's or 500 miles, which is a fair distance to cover. Along the way we stopped at York for some brunch and then at Wave Rock. This as the name suggests is a rock in the shape of a wave. It was not that impressive but did break up the journey, although the hundreds of flies were a bit annoying. We pressed on and a made good time. To break the silence form the lack of radio signal we had Jo's small collection of Cd's. As Jo was the baby in the group she was not allowed to drive. I think this is something she was quite happy about. Pete. Tricia and myself all took our turn to drive. I had the graveyard shift. This was made livelier by the fact that from dusk onwards you have a good possibility that a kangaroo will hop out into the road in front of you. Our insurance didn't cover for roo damage in anyway and so I had to take it easy. We rolled into Esperence about seven and checked into the hostel.

The next day we went into Cape Le Grand National Park and visited Lucky Bay, which had wild kangaroos having a sleep on the beach. Then onto Wildfire Bay where we took a dip in the cold sea. On our way back we stopped at the Pink Lake. You might think that this is pink, but it's not. That night we went to Taylor Street tearooms for a bit to eat.

We travelled on and spent the whole day in the car apart from stopping for lunch and seeing a half buried truck. We spent the night in Albany.

We set off for the Gap and National Bridge. These are both well-known attractions on the coast. The gap as it's called is a large whole where the sea comes in and splashes up. It doesn't sound all that good from my description, but when your there it's a whole lot different. The National Bridge is a bridge, what a surprise. Formed out of stone and created by the sea's waves. It's quite wide and high up above the sea. You can walk out onto it. I didn't like the though of this as the wind was quite high. This how ever didn't stop other and at one point I had to look away for fear of seeing someone slip or fall off. Not something that would aid me to sleep at night. Further down the road were Elephant Rocks due to, yes they look like Elephants. As you can see there is a trend here to name places and natural formations by what they look like. Elephant Rocks were huge boulders shaped like elephants. Hard to imagine, but very similar when seen. Next we travelled onto green lake, which I don't need to explain, I hope. Our next stop was one Jo was not all that keen on. Tricia had already done this and stayed with the car. It was the Tingle Forest Tree Top walk in the Valley of the Giants . Walkways made out of aluminium had been placed through the forest of Tolkienesque trees. AT the highest point the walkway was 40 meters above the ground. During this trip I have been to the top of the AMP Tower in Sydney, Rialto Tower in Melbourne and Climbed the Harbour Bridge in Sydney and I think have lost my fear of heights to a degree. This was a piece of cake. The walkways did have restrictions on how many people could be on them at any one time. They did flex and bounce when you walked fast on them or jumped up and down. Jo was not amused when I did this. I can't write what she said, but it did start with "Will would you stop .......... doing that" We travelled onto the Gloucester Tree. This is 60 meter tall tree which you can climb, had steel bars driven into it in a staircase/ ladder pattern. Talking about it in the car I was ready to do it, but when I saw it it was a different story. Pete and Jo were not up for it. Tricia had done this before and said how much her legs hurt the next day. She did want to climb it again, but only if someone else would climb with her. Within a second all eyes were on me and the pressure building. Comment form both Pete and Jo of how they were scared of heights were flooding out. AS some of you will know I can be very stubborn and determined at times and this was one of those. The increasing amount of pressure was not going to change my mind even when the girls both looked at me as if to say wimp. We made for Augusta, which is meant to have the best YHA in Oz. I can see why it has won best YHA a few times because the building is pretty modern with good facilities. But I have stayed in better equipped hostels. The evening is quite a memorable one as we went for a Chinese. It was chines or...... well I can't remember the other options. The restaurant was quite busy and the hostess was running around like she was on fire, but didn't make life any easier by spending a long time chatting to people as they were leaving. When  we got the bill, divided up and were about to leave when she engaged us in conversation. Her grasp of English was not bad and I could understand what she was saying. I think some of the others had difficulty understanding what she said and may still be unaware of what was said.
The next day we set off for Cape Leeuwin lighthouse. This lighthouse the has the Indian Ocean on one side and the Southern Ocean on the other side. I climbed the 179 steps to the top for a good view out to sea and the surrounding coastline. Parts of the lighthouse were made in Birmingham and also Shropshire. We then went to one of the many caves in the area. Lake Cave was one of the smallest but also most interesting. It had a stream which ran through it. The way in which it had been lit up using special waterproof lights was amazing. It had quite a few stalactites and stalagmites which take hundreds of years to form. The path from the shop to the entrance of the cave was easy going on the way down, but the 300 plus steps on the way back were hard work as I went up them at a fast walking pace. This left me breathless and unable to talk much. Some people might think that would be a good thing! With mt breath back we headed for Main Break near Margaret River for the sunset. It was beautiful. The sky had shades of red, purple and orange in it. This was a main even for alot of people. The car park was packed. Some people had esky's with food, wine, fizz and of course beer in. They had brought chairs and even tables. Yes this was something that had to be done right. That night we stayed at Margaret River and went to the local pub for food and beers. I can't remember the name of the establishment, but they had a deal on for backpackers that night. This was a curry for $5 or $10 with a beer. It seemed a bargain and was priced in accordance with the size of the portion. My brain along with both the girls was not switched on (a rarity I know) and thus we got the smallest curry I had ever seen. This was compensated by a bowl of the best wedges I have ever had.

The next day Myself, Jo and Tricia had decided to do a canoing trip on the Margaret River. This I thought was going to be good fun as I had a little experience from when I went kayaking at Port Macquire. Jo and Tricia had never been in a canoe before and kept worrying about it capsizing. We set off in a big four man canoe with just the three of us in it. The idea being that this would be more stable in the water. There were about 10 or 12 canoes with a mixture of two, three and four man canoe's. We went up river stopping in a few places where our guide told us about the area and the different types of plants, bushes and trees. As the group progressed up the river we managed to keep up despite zig zagging left and right and sometimes pointing in the opposite direction. We had a little co-ordination and communication problem. As with Port Macquire I had to sit at the back and steer as well as paddle, but this time there were two women to contend with. In the end we, yes all of us sorted out the problems and went straight as a die, well nearly. The group stopped at a place called "The Boat House", which was an old boat house. Here our guide showed us some real bush tucker. Things such as damper bread, kangaroo, wild turkey and emu. We all tucked in and made up some sandwiches. We even had some wiggidey grub pate, how posh. Further down river we stopped and climbed up to the top of the cliff, where we had a great view of the river and surrounding areas. Back down on the bank we all jumped back into the canoes and formed a line across the river. The reason for this was that we were going to race back to the bank where we started form. The winning canoe got a bottle of plonk. We made a good start and pushed a couple of the others out of the way. The river curved round to the left, so I took the course of least distance and tried to maximise our efforts. we passed a couple doing this but at the same time nearly ran aground as were close to the bank. The river straighten out and we went full steam to the bank. We hit the bank in second place which we were pleased with. On our way to our destination of Dunsbrought we stopped off at a few wineries. The area has so many, you could take a couple of days to visit them all. Our first was "Mad Fish
which reminded me of Jacobs Creek in that it had a very impressive building with great mens dunny. I don't know about the Sheila's room, but I'm sure it was just as good. I felt a very under dressed walking round in a well used t-shirt, baggy shorts and sandals. Our next port of call was Lenton Brae which was a small, almost family run winery. We almost felt a little guilty just turning up and trying trying their wines for free. I thing the gilt got to Jo as she brought a nice bottle of Shiraz which I later found to be very palatable. Our third and final tasting was at "Moss Brothers". We then headed on to our hostel. They had a barbie on and so to complement the fine selection of meats we were to consume we had to make a trip to the bottle shop. On mine and Pete's return with a slab of Carlton Cold we stocked the fridge and took our places for the barbie.

The next day we visited a small light house at Cape Naturalist and then eagles bay. We found a nice beach and crashed for a while. At Busselston the girls went along the pier to an underwater observertry while Pete and I checked our e-mail. Busselton was  bustling with people and quite a nice little place, That night we stayed at Bunbury. For our evening meal we went to a Thai restaurant where I had my first taste of Thai food and found it to very nice.

The morning came and brought with it an early start as we were off to see dolphins. Jo is very much into her animals and sea creatures and this was therefore a must see for her. I was not that bothered, but still went and had a look. Each morning wild Dolphins come into a beach. A centre with volunteers has been set up. This morning a dolphin called Levy came in. We stood in the water with it just above the knee and watched him swim back and forth. For most this was a great experience, but I didn't think much of it really and am not sure why. Later on in the day we made for Fremantle (Freo) but stopped at Rockingham. Rockingham is a coastal town with a man street where people with custom cars and Harley's pose. We had ice cream form an Italian ice cream place before carrying on to Freo. Freo, just south of Perth is a great place. It is a good place to eat fish and chips as it's fresh. It has a harbour full of boats used for fishing. Freo also has a good selection of restaurants and bars serving a large range of foods and beers. It also has a very bad YHA hostel.

We set of for Perth and stopped at Cottesloe on the way as Tricia, Jo and myself were going to stay there. We dropped off the car and said goodbye to Pete. That night we went to the Sunday session. The Oz's love the Sunday session and I was determined to have just as good a time as I did in Surfers Paradise. We spent a couple of night there before travelling back into Perth.

Posted at 5/20/2004 5:05:44 am by willpovey

Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Perth (part 1)

Perth had not featured in my plans and was on the west coast and therefore may be totally different to any of the state capitals I'd visited so far. I didn't know anything about it and what to expect. I'd heard a lot of good comments about Perth and Western Australia (WA). These had mostly come from Tricia who I think very much likes this city and state. Perth had the possibility of being good because some of the guys and girls from my Great Ocean Road trip would be there and others arriving later.

After checking into one of the worst YHA hostels I've ever stayed in, I went with Pete in search of a full English. We didn't have to venture far as we came upon a great little cafe. They did the best full English or as they call it "The Full Monty". You can tell that because you could have your eggs fried, poached or scrambled as I did.

Set-up for the rest of the day and joined by Jo we set off into the CBD. Perth as with most of the state capitals cities is organized on a grid and this makes it easy to find your way around. The centre consists of two parallel streets lined with shops, food courts and small malls.

Perth seemed then and I now know is a very laid back place. The people as with most in Oz are friendly but are not in such a rush as those on the east coast. We spent a few days in the city just having a look around. We visited Kings Park which is situated up on a hill and has great views over the river and across to the city centre. One of the reasons that I had come to Perth is that Pete was going to hire a car and travel around the south for about 7 days. I liked the idea and was going to join him. News travelled fast and Tricia along with Jo both decided to join us. This was all good as it reduced the cost. After a few more days of visiting Fremantle and Cottesloe we set off on an eight-day trip.

Posted at 5/19/2004 1:19:39 am by willpovey

Sunday, May 02, 2004
The Indian Pacific
The Indian Pacific (http://www.gsr.com.au/indian/) travels between Sydney and Perth, passing through Adelaide, Cook and Kalgoorlie. I boarded at Adelaide and prepared myself for the 38 hour journey. Travailing as a backpacker I had the cheapest ticket. So for the next day and a half I would be sleeping, eating and generally living in my seat. Fortunately for me I had Jo to keep me company for the whole journey. The train left Adelaide at 18:40 on Sunday and started it's journey. I've never used trains very much and after this journey I'm not that inspired to use them again. It seemed to take forever to make it's way out of Adelaide and get up to speed, although it does have nearly 20 carriages. The people in our cabin were very active and didn't like to sit down for long.

We heard that the price of food on the train was quite expensive and so we had prepared sandwiches and I had two boxes of breakfast bars to munch on. To pass the time I had my book which I started back in Brisbane about 6-7 weeks ago. Some think this is quite amazing, but I was in no rush. I didn't get that much sleep that night as the movement of both the train and the people within it. Also the seats were not that comfortable despite using a pillow to absorb the vibrations from my head.

I spent the next day people watching, reading and staring at the endless nothings and watching movies on the TV. To the annoyance of Jo and myself every so often a recored voice would shadow the films audio and proceed to tell us about the area coming up or some uninteresting fact that you didn't want to know. After the voice had finished there would be a 10 second delay before the film sound would return. I think you can imagine why this became annoying after the ninth or tenth time.

The views out of the windows at first were interesting as you can't comprehend just seeing nothing but orange dirt and a few bushes for hundreds of miles. The Indian Pacific travels along a piece of track 478 kms or 297 miles long that is completely straight. This is the longest piece of straight rail track in the world. Out day was made more enjoyable by a family siting adjacent to us. A mother plus her three daughters of about 7, 4 and 2. The youngest was great and still in nappies. Her ability to swing from the arm rests, crawl on all fours from one end of the carriage to the other without being put off by on coming traffic and having a great talent for outputting loud rawing sounds similar to nothing I've ever heard before was simply, amazing. Something I shall never forget.

As we got into the afternoon, I started to feel board and must of started to annoy Jo as she let me use her CD Player. This I think saved me. Jo has what I would consider not a bad taste in music, but I draw the line at Girls Aloud. I started to count the hours until 21:00 because when we reached it we would only have another twelve hours to go, yes that right twelve hours.

The journey was broken up by a stop at Kalgoolie. This town in the middle of no where, I think is known for two things gold and girls. It had a working mine in which gold had been found, now just a tourist attraction. For some reason it is also known to have a number of adult entertainment establishments as friend informed me. Our two and a half hour break was spent stocking up on Tooheys, before we boarded for the last ten and a half hours.

The morning came and brought with it the prospect of getting off this train. As we entered the edge of Perth everyone in the carriage was busy collecting together their stuff and getting ready for departure. The train stopped and we got off, collected our bags and got a taxi to our hostel. The torture had finally ended.

Posted at 5/2/2004 9:10:48 am by willpovey
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Thursday, April 29, 2004
Adelaide the capital of South Australia is a place from which many people arrive and depart. From here you can go west to Perth, north to Coober Pedy - Alice Springs and Darwin or east to Melbourne. As with large cities in Oz it's made up of a grid of roads which makes finding your way around quite easy. The night I arrived most of us were to meet in a bar for a few drinks and a chat.

Those who know me, know I like a beer and while I've been travelling around oz I have been sampling the different variants of the amber nectar. This night was to be no exception. Those present that night know what occurred and those who weren't, well thats tough, use you imagination. Funnily enough I didn't see much of the next day. The next few days I spent checking out what Adelaide had to offer. It has a good indoor market and a useful tram service. This came in use when IO went to the beach at Glenelg. Also I spent half a day visiting Port Adelaide which has a nice beach. I was not that impressed with this city and was glad there was nothing of interest to me as some quite time was needed.

The simplest of thing like getting in the beer is made difficult by the fact that there are very few bottle shops  I latter found out that some bars and puns sell beer and wine for take out.

To the north of the city is the Barossa Valley, this is a must do. It is very well known for the wide variety of wine produced. The Barossa Valley houses some of the largest producers of wine in Oz and the world. Companies such as Jacobs Creek are based within the valley.

I went on a day trip with a company called Groovy Grape http://www.groovygrape.com.au/. The day entailed visiting four wineries and sampling nearly forty wines which to some may sound like alot, but you soon get into the flow of things. on route to the first winery we stopped at the Whispering Wall. This is a large damb which has unique acoustics. By standing near the face of the damb you can whisper and a person the other side can hear you.

Our first winery of the day was Jacobs Creek. This was my first time sampling wine and a really interesting exercise. We first sampled a sparkling white, then two or three dry whites and then two sweet whites. before attacking the reds. The selection of reds were merlots, shiraz, cabeniet sauvignon or cab sav as they call it. This order of white and then red would be the same at all the wineries. The guide form Jacobs Creek showed us how to view,  swirl, smell and finally taste. I've drunk red wine before, but I never had such a mouthful of different tastes. Taking air in when you taste wine makes it seem to explode in your mouth and almost blows your head off. The next wineries we visited was Richmond Grove and then had a barbie. Our driver cooked us kangaroo, snaggs and a selection of other meats. With or bellies full we made for Stanley Brothers winery and the last one of the day was Bethany Winery. When I was dropped off back at my hostel I felt quite light headed. I think only getting five hours sleep after a night on the town may of had something to do with it!

I spent only a short time here before the start of a journey I will never forget. Australia has some of the most interesting train journeys, such as The Ghan, Indian Pacific and The Inland are some of the great train journeys in the world. I had about three weeks to spare and had not originally planned to visit Perth on the west coast. But now I was going to catch the Indian Pacific with Jo. This was going to be an experience.

Posted at 4/29/2004 3:49:34 am by willpovey
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Monday, April 19, 2004
The Great Ocean Road
I had booked on a three and a half day trip with Wayward Bus Touring Company www.waywardbus.com.au (Classic Coast). It was a small 21 seater bus with a box trailer for our bags. I was lucky because there was only 14 of us plus the driver who was called Leigh. We left busy Melbourne just after lunch time and made for Apollo Bay. Our first stop was Bells Beach, a world famous surf beach which hosts a major competition each year. After spending a little time here we stopped at Lorne which is a classic seaside town sandwiched between mountains and the sea. Our first night was spent in Apollo Bay which has a slight hippy vibe to it. We stayed in a bungalow which was well equipped and even a had a pool table. We went out that night to an Italian Restaurant which had a large array of pizza on it's menu. I had an "Aussie" and it was a beewty.

The next morning was the first of three eight o clock starts. Today was the main event of the trip as we would see the Twelve Apostles. The morning was spent travelling through the Otway Ranges toward the Twelve Apostles. Along the way we went to the Melba Gully where we went on a walk through the lush Myrtle Beech rainforest. At Port Campbell National Park we were on the edge of Australia's most famous group of rocks, the twelve apostles. Here we stopped and I took a flight in a helicopter over the apostles. This was my first time in a chopper and I found it very exciting. I was fortunate to sit next to the pilot. I'm not sure what type and model it was but I do know that it had alot of glass in it. The only two parts of the ten minuet flight I was scared was when we banked left or right and the landing. The weather was a little overcast, but still good enough for taking photos. At Loch Ard Gorge we took in the stunning view of the ocean from the beach. We had a picnic lunch at Port Campbell where even I mucked in to help out with setting up. After lunch we travelled on to London Bridge which isn't a bridge. It was until one day the middle piece collapsed, leaving two people stranded. They were later rescued by helicopter and made the news. After this we took in the sights at 'Tolkiensque' Grotto, Bay of Martyrs and Bay of Islands. The last two stops of the day were Logan's Beach and Tower Hill. Logan's Beach between May and October is supposed to be good for spotting Whales. As we were out of season we didn't see any, but the beach was very nice. Tower Hill should of been first on our itinerary as it was exhausting. We climbed a steep hill only to find that we were only half way up. When we finally reached the top, the view was very beautiful. But there was no tower, so why was it called tower hill? The decent was just as demanding as the accent due to the steepness of the hill. Near the bottom we spotted a Koala having an afternoon snack before returning to the land of nod. After finding one wild animal we wanted more and broke up into small groups and went deep into the bush. We were not disappointed as we found a small group of kangaroos and roos as well as another Koala. Returning to the visitor centre we found three or four Emus standing on the lawn. Our night was spent in Port Fairy which is a bit of a time warp.

On day three we headed for the Bridgewater Bay. Here we jumped on a small speedboat called the "Zippy Zodiac" run by a local called Joe, and set off in search of seals under the cape. We weren't disappointed as after crashing through the waves getting a little air we came upon a group of seals playing a game of "King Of The Rock". This is very simple as all it involves is knocking  all the other seals off the rock. But while a pair are pushing and knocking each other, others are climbing back on. It was quite entertaining. The seals got very close to our small boat and even splashed us a little. From here we went out and round the cape and were in the big waves. The boat was jumping off the waves and crashing down with a big splash and everyone was screaming and laughing, it was a good atmosphere. We came back toward the rocks and stayed stationary while we watched the waves show and then hide a large flat shelf of rock that we were about 50 feet from. It was a little scary as if the motor had failed then we would have crashed into the rocks. We went back out into the sea and surfed a few more waves before rounding the cape again and entering a cave. In here we were greeted by some larger seals. I presume that they were adults due to their size. As we sat and watched them up on the rock above us the boat drifted forward slowly. At one point we were about 10 feet away from the bottom of this rock ledge with these large seals towering above us. Some of them started to dive into the water either side of the boat. Fortunately the one directly above us had the common sense not to. I'm not sure what sex it was. Once back on dry land, well wet dry land as it had started to rain we made our way along the rocks and onto the beach heading for the cafe. As we dried off on the bus we made for Nelson situated on the Glenelg river for our lunch. Our first stop of the afternoon was the Blue Lake. It gets it's name because of how blue the water is. This does change as it gets closer to winter. Next was the Umpherstone Cave which is the biggest sinkhole about. At the Canunda National Park we walked along the craggy coastline above the cliffs. The rock face in some places had been warn away by the sea and wind to leave the top surface with little support below. The weight of a person could easily aid it to give way. We spent the night in Beachport on the Rivoli Bay. This fishing village is meant to have a nice sunrise. I say meant to because I didn't see it!
First on our last day was Larry. Australia has a fixation with large objects such as pineapples, bananas and of course Larry the Lobster. Further along the road we turned off and went up a minor dirt track into the Coorang National Park. Here we scaled the massive sand dunes and made for the beautiful beach. This was a good place to chill out and de-stress. Back on the bus we headed for the Coorang Wilderness Lodge. This is run by local Aboriginal people. Here we tried some bush tucker such as Kangaroo and Damper bread. An Aboriginal guide took us on a Medicines Walk and showed us the plants and bushes that his ancestors used for sources of food, water and healing. The rest of the afternoon was spent taking in the views from the bus as we headed for Adelaide. A highlight was crossing the Murray River. We arrived in Adelaide a little later than planned due to a street race. This was the Clipsal 500, a V8 Supercar race which takes place over four days including the weekend and causes traffic jams. During this trip I had sat in the passenger seat and had got the best view. I also took charge of the CD player and played requests from the group. We had a good mix of people from many countries. There were two english lads (Paul and Mark) from near York, two Irish girls (Denise and Louise) from wonderful Carlow and Dublin and also two girls (Sarah and Ellen) from the States. If any of you have just read this dribble, add a comment, it would be good to get your thoughts!

Posted at 4/19/2004 6:29:08 am by willpovey
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Thursday, March 25, 2004
2004 Foster's Australian Grand Prix
For the next four days I would be at the 2004 Forster's Australian Grand Prix. Four days of high speed, loads of action and a lot of noise. The GP was one of the main reasons for coming to Oz. I have been a GP fan for over ten years and haven't seen a live race. So to be at the first race of the season in Oz was a dream come true. This season the format of the race weekend had changed. Thursday was just a track day for other formula's such as Formula Ford or V8 Touring Cars. Friday had two Formula 1 practice seasons and Saturday had the two back to back qualifying sessions. This leaves Sunday for the main event, the race.

Travelling to the GP was very easy. We just caught a free tram from one of the stations and had a short walk at the other end.

My four day General Admission ticket allowed me access to all areas within Albert Park apart from the pit straight, pit lane and corporate areas. We spent Thursday working out the best place to watch the action from. After walking all around the circuit for about six or seven hours and watching various races and stunt riders we choose the exit of turn two. It had a bank to sit on and two large tv screens. Also we could see the cars come round turn two on the edge of adhesion and then scream past us on the way down to turn three. Turn three is amongst others known for incidents and accidents because the cars arrive there at high speed and try to overtake by out braking each other. If they get it wrong they could end up in the gravel.

Friday was practice day for Formula One. This was one of the best days as the cars would not be at full speed after exiting the pits and therefore we would be able to get some great pictures. My digital camera is not the newest piece of equipment and the F1 cars are travelling very fast. These two facts explain why I have so many pictures of bare track. For every three I took only one had a car on it and not always the whole car.

When the first car came out the noise was incredible. At this stage I was about sixty feet from the tracks edge and had no ear plugs in. I was able to get a spot right next to the inner fence which was about twenty feet from the tracks edge. A few cars went by at race speed, the noise was amazing. Also the sound hit you in the chest. I estimate that the cars were doing between 125 - 130 mph twenty feet from me. As I looked back to turn two to see the cars coming round it was very easy to spot the new cars to the track. As they were two thirds round the corner the car would start to slide and over correction would cause the car to skid. This was entertaining because of the speed they were travelling at and how close we were.

Saturday was Qualifying or Qually as it's known. This is a crucial day in the race weekend as it determines the start positions for every race car. This year the qually is different with two back to back sessions. Saturday was a memorable day for me, but not for good reasons. In the morning we walked into the city and boarded our tram. It was an express tram which went straight through to the gates we needed. The doors shut and then I realised that I had forgotten my ticket. I pressed the buzzer and banged on the door while staring at the female tram conductor. She just stared back at me as if to say idiot. It was to late the tram moved away and I was trapped. I had to ride all the way down to the track, get off and catch a bus back. But the bus didn't go all the way back to the tram station. This meant I had a long walk back to the hostel and a slightly shorter one back to the tram station. In the end I only missed the first practice session. The two qually session in the afternoon were great. I went and sat near the big screen amongst the Ferrari/Shoemaker supporters or " Glory Supporters" as they are known. The second qually session was an eventful session as during Shoemakers final lap he made a mistake and went on the grass to my approval. Shouting "Yes yes" amongst a group of his supporters was not a good idea as it was only me that could be heard. He finished his lap just beating Juan Pablo Montoya (Monster) http://www.jpmontoya.com by a couple hundredths of a second. Yet again Shoemaker was on pole. Earlier that afternoon we had watched the V8 Supercars. This is Oz's version of our touring cars, basically road going cars which have been tweaked for racing. The Oz's love this, they think it's better than sliced bread or XXXX. I myself think it's a load of rubbish. The V8's make alot of noise, weigh alot and don't go very fast. You can either support Ford or Holden (Vauxhall), two great Oz cars I was told by one supporter. I think says it all. There was also Formula Ford racing and this is great. These are basically smaller F1 cars without a rear wing. They don't mess about, wheels and nose cones are always banging, which makes for a great race. Later that day we made for the pub and sampled a new variant of amber nectar and at the same time tried to look on the bright side for tomorrows race.

It was race day and this brought with it an early start of 06:30. We made our way down to the track, checking every 10 Min's that we had our tickets. We claimed our spot and made ourselves at home. At 09:00 Mark went off and checked out the facilities. On his return it was evident that he had found the beer tent as he had got two pints having already consuming another in the beer tent. As the GP was sponsored by Forster's this was all that was available, you can't have everything. During the GP weekend their was a competition to win an upgrade to your ticket and Mark won. He and Pete went off just before the race to collect their upgrades and take a seat in the Fangio stand opposite the start/finish line, pits and podium.

The race came and went quickly with a predictable result . The Oz's were not that pleased as Webber went from 2nd on the grid latter retiring. The race ended and we all made for the exits onto the track. These were small and involved jumping over a small fence. We were like sheep jumping into the tank to be dipped. We ran down the track along with a few hundred people to see the presentation. We missed it, but did get some great pictures. Click here to see some of them.

As you can guess we made for the pub to drown our sorrows.

Posted at 3/25/2004 6:42:59 am by willpovey
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Before I even got to Melbourne I knew I'd love it. I had heard lots of good comments about it. There is an unofficial competition between the two. Sydney and Melbourne are always trying to out do each other. Sydney is winning this battle, but only because it has the coat hanger, opera house and the harbour. I still prefer Melbourne as it is the sports capital of Oz. Also it has more culture and entertainment with festivals and shows. Also one of the things I love are the trams. They are so easy to use and you never have to wait long for one. Driving in Melbourne is made more interesting due to the trams. To make a right turn at a set of traffic lights you you pull over to the left. The reason for this is so that the trams can pass down the middle of the road.

I arrived in Melbourne late on in the evening and was met by two friends (Mark and Pete). There was no messing about, back to the hostel and then straight down the pub to sample the amber nectar. It later became apparent that our quality check was in vain and that nectar met the required standards. Unfortunately Marks Pub radar was not fully tuned into Melbourne's frequency. This was evident as we were in "Bev and Micks", a backpackers hostel and bar. Here I was introduced to a Scots girl called Tricia, who was also going to the Grand Prix. The next day was my 25th birthday and I spent the day on a red double decor bus seeing the sights and getting a feel for where things were. Also during the day I went up the Rialto Tower http://www.melbournedeck.com.au/. The Rialto Tower give you a great view of Melbourne and is the southern hemisphere's tallest office structure. Later that night we had a few beers, but not many as the next day was going to be busy.

The next four days I spent at the 2004 Australian Grand Prix. See the separate entry above. After the Grand Prix weekend I spent a couple of days walking round the CBD and catching up on my sleep. One evening I went with Jo and Tricia to the Moonlight Cinema http://www.moonlight.com.au. This was situated at the Royal Botanic Gardens. These also took place in Sydney and Adelaide. It was a great night under the stars watching "Love Actually", which is a bit of a click flick. On the bank holiday Monday myself and some others went down to the river Yarra and watched street performers and water ski jumping. This type of sport looks to dangerous to me as they wear a crash helmet and balance on a piece of carbon fibre. One of Melbourne's outer areas called St Kilda is a must see I was told. Before I had even left Sydney, people were telling me that you've got to go there. So I went and had a look. Personally I didn't think it was that great. It has a nice main street with shops, cafe's and restaurants and also a very long Pier. This I thought was great as it was quite long and you can sit there with the harbour in front of you and in the distance the tall buildings of the CBD fill the skyline.

A must do when leaving Melbourne and travelling to Adelaide is the Great Ocean Road. This is a very well known piece of road and has loads of places and activities to do along the way.

Posted at 3/25/2004 6:34:38 am by willpovey
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