Well I cant upload my photos again so I am going to try on Facebook!
When I arrive in Sydney I meet up with Mike a friend from home, it seems that it is basically going to rain for the whole time I am there so we invest in a poncho each and carry on sightseeing. We even get in a bit of 'cloud bathing' at Manly beach. After Mike left to return to better weather in the UK I decided to head into the Blue Mountains which were beautiful and the sun was out...hurrah! For Australia day I go and stay with Cate (who I met in Doubtful Sound) in Wollongong and I have my first taste (literally) of Emu, Croc and kangaroo. I am a bit frustrated at how big Australia is...I mean where do you start with somewhere this size??? I make my way down to Melbourne where I meet up with some old friends from Fiji and New Zealand and some new ones from the bus on the way to the hostel! From Melbourne I do the Great Ocean Road and Penguin Parade and spend a cultured evening watching Romeo and Juliet in the botanical gardens before a not so cultured night of drinking and dancing til 5am (Diarmuid made me do it!). I was also mistaken for a famous surfer by someone who has clearly never seen me surf!
By now I have had enough of cities and book up to do a 7 day Desert Patrol from Adelaide to Alice Springs. I went into a mild panic when my flight was cancelled from Melbourne to Adelaide due to bad weather, until I realised they were going to put me up in a five star hotel for the night. Oh the luxury, a whole room just for me, with my own bathroom and TV! By the time I reached Adelaide I was convinced that someone had been putting rocks in my rucksack for a laugh but after a long search I discovered it was just full of my junk! I am sharing a dorm with Riley a Canadian who is also on the Desert Patrol so we go in search of hats to protect us from the sun. I picked up the nearest 'Crocodile Dundee hat' until I saw the price, meanwhile Riley was busy trying on a policemans helmet! Different but I am not sure it is practical for the bush!
The next morning we were picked up bright and early by Glen our guide for the next 7 days. Our desert Patrol family consisted of 3 English, 3 French, 3 Germans, 3 koreans, 1 Swede, I Canadian and a Dutchie...a good mix. Jason (a 21 year old Englishman who sounded alot like Alan Partridge A-Ha!) discovered I was the oldest on the bus by quite a long way and started calling me Ma'am, carrying my stuff, fanning me with his hat and even saluting occassionally....I like it! Team Korea couldn't pronounce Herve (the Frenchmans name) so they called him Herbie...excellent! The Swede became Turnip and the group had bonded.
The most amazing thing about the trip was sleeping out in the bush in the middle of nowhere in a swag under more stars than I have ever seen. A 20 Billion Star Hotel, I saw at least 3 shotting stars every night although going to the toilet was a bit traumatic, checking for snakes along the way and with no cover in sight praying a fellow passenger didnt look your way. We had marshmallows over the campfire, saw the longest fence in the world, went 'noodling' for Opals in Coober Pedy (I found one), slept in a cave, rode a camel, learnt about the Aboriginies and saw sunrise and sunset over Uluru and The Olgas. On day 3 Glen informed us we would be up at 5 to see sunrise over Uluru, Riley was clearly over it....her response 'Do we have to?'
On valentines morning I woke up to a hand made card from my loyal subject, Jason..lovely! On the last day we wanted to surprise Glen, so we smeared vegemite on his door handle...that bought out the true Australian in him, language I cannot repeat. With the smell of vegemite still in the air Riley got on the bus late and said 'Ew, whats that smell, smells like hippy'. So if any of you wondered what 'hippy' smells like, apparently its vegemite!
After a brief stop in Cairns I have decided to head back to New Zealand where none of the animals can kill ya! I have survived Oz but on the last night something had a feast on my legs....CANT STOP SCRATCHING!