A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Kev n' Ariel

The BIG Aussie Road Trip

Coast to Coast in Shelly the 4x4

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It was time to move on and continue our travels. We were so lucky to have great jobs, made so many new friends and survived the Queensland heat/humidity.

It was time for the BIG AUSSIE ROAD TRIP (Jan 15th – Feb 23rd)
We took 5 days to drive down to Sydney to pick up the rest of our team. On the way we stopped by Byron Bay and stayed with friends. Then we went into the wet rainforest of Bellingen and Dorrigo National Park where we pulled leaches off our legs and explored the eerie rainforest.
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We stopped at Coffs Harbour for the Big Banana (why else).
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We escaped the rain at Boomarang Beach and Watang National Park.
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We had a close call trying to drive along a sandy path to a beach but had help to get us turned around as our car would not have made it all the way! Last day was filled with gorgeous beaches at Munmorah National Park and made some friends with the local wallabies.
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We get to Sydney where we stayed with Kevin's old friend and her fiance in the subburb of Collaroy for 3 nights. We spent 1 afternoon in the city where we checked out the contemporary art gallery and met up with Ariel's old uni friend Niki. We explored the beaches around Collaroy (Shelly & Manly) the next day and got to see a full rainbow over the harbour.
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And then it was time to pick up the rest of our road trip buddies Marc and Ben and drove off into the Blue Mountains. We spent many evenings playing bocce, throwing our aerobees or playing cards and Catan.

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In the mountains a wrong turn ended up giving us access to great views andthe boys explored a crepy abandoned asylum,
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we walked amongst the 3 sisters and wandered the valley below. DSCN0879.jpgDSCN0888.jpg

We drove towards the coast next and ended up at a free camp site at Sunburnt Beach which ended up being our favourite free spot as the camping was 3min from the beach and rock pools served as tiny baths near the surf. Beautiful!
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Then we went inland again to Kosciuszko National Park and spent 6hrs/22km taking the Summit Walk to the HIGHEST PEAK IN AUSTRALIA at 2240m and back via Charlottes Pass. Was awesome but incredibly windy.
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We drove the long winding roads down and out of the park to Melbourne where we made it just in time for Aussie Day! We spent the next week at Ariel's old Uni friend's apartment. We mostly ubered into the city most days to explore the funky graffiti laneways, checked out the Vic Markets, listened to the music from the Laneway Festival across the river to hear and see a little of Tame Impala and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. Saw celebrations for the Chinese New Year, more laneway artwork, found delicious sushi and funky tram-way rooftop bar in Collingwood. Met up with Ariel's friend and ate tasty food in Fitzroy, and ate dumplings with another.
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Finished paperwork for tax-back and then took a few days to escape the city. We stopped over in St. Kilda beach town and camped just south-east of Philip Island. The boys went to see the penguins but got scared off by bus-loads of tourists and expensive entry fees.
Spent the next 2 nights at Wilson's Prom (another fav spot, but not free). Super lovely beaches and views from day hikes and saw 2 wombats! Spent a lot of time swimming and running around the beach.
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Got back into the city so the boys could watch the Superbowl and Ariel explored the city. Then it was time to go West!
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We entered the Great Ocean Road and stayed in the Otways National Park. We ate the most savoury fresh seafood pie at Apollo Bay and found Koala's in the tree's and glow worms at Melba Gully. Spent a fully day looking at funny rocks at the 12 Apostles, London Bridge, The Grotto and the Gorge.
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Spent a day at Warrnambool where we were underwhelmed by the Cheese museum and the boys tried fishing while a giant ray and a seal chased off the good ones.
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We stopped to look at Umpherston's Sinkhole and the Blue Lake of Mt. Gambier before we got into sunny Adelaide and stayed at Sunny's Hostel.
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Met up with another Uni friend of Ariel's and explored a few bars and made skewers from the market. Ran errands and had dinner with Family Friends. Explored the Art Gallery and the State Library. Attempted to plan a trip to Kangaroo Island but didn't work out with our limited time, sold out ferries and bloody expensive tickets!
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Made sure the car could get us to Perth (were lucky it was only some minor tweaks she needed) and then it was time to cross the great nothingness of the Great Bight. We got to our windy but sunny campsite near the water at Point Lowly where we had clear waters to swim and encountered our first, and only massive Red kangaroo...and lots of flies!
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Next stop was near Ceduna at Whitlebea campsite along seaside cliffs. Ceduna was the jumping point for the great divide between civilization and the start of the Nullarbor Links which is the World's Longest golf course and follows the Nullarbor highway.
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We spent the next 4days/5 nights stopping along the highway so the boys could whack golf balls into the bush (not the highest quality golf course) and driving long, straight roads through the bush. We stopped to look over limestone cliffs, check out wild camels, and lonesome gas stations. We got eye-balled by huge eagles chowing on dead roo's, laughed at running emu's, checked out an abandoned telegraph station and spent long hours listening to tunes and trying to stay cool. One of the weirdest spots was the roadside cafe site of the NASA Skylab (satellite) crash. The county police jokingly fined NASA $400 for littering.
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We arrived in Esperence and stayed the night before heading slightly Eastward to the Cape Le Grande National Park and stayed at the gorgeous beach of Lucky Bay. We swam, pet kangaroos, whacked the surviving golf balls off a viewpoint and tried to avoid getting soaked in the lightning storm.
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We had wanted to drive along the coast all the way up to Perth and check out the wine region but major flooding had taken out 3 bridges and the alternative routes were a bit too long for our weary bodies. We backtracked through Norseman and cut back through Southern Cross and enjoyed our last river-side campsite where we saw roos and an old farm house made by convicts.
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We rolled into sunny/hot Perth (bit of a change since our first visit) and checked back into the Hive. Not much had changed except more things had broken without repair and we discovered that Ariel's passport had received water damage and her photo was mucked...not good. We took one day off to explore the Quakka island of Rottnest and biked along the whole thing. Oodles of beaches and seeing cute quakka's was a great way to end our long journey!
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Posted by Kev n' Ariel 22:25 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

BRISBANE

Our life in Brissy

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We decided that the farm work was going too slowly so city work would have to do for now so we moved into one of the hostels Ariel stayed at 6yrs ago near the city centre of BRISBANE. We were at The Base Hostel Uptown for about a week before we got hired at their Central Hostel for Work for Accommodation. Kevin mostly got shifts working at reception helping with people's bags while Ariel got cleaning jobs; kitchen cleaning meant lots of free food as none of the other workers did their jobs properly so we got first dibs on leftover food...which was a lot!
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We spent a lot of time at the library looking for work. Kevin got a job first at a lovely little restaurant/cafe called Felix for Goodness. He worked as a kitchen hand and got lots of delicious leftovers for us.
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While working at the hostel we also enjoyed finding Sonny's Bar which hosted some talented musicians, and during a Hostel event we won 2 separate passes to Underwater world! (Which we would use at Christmas time).
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Ariel also went down south a few times to see her friend Cam Clough and enjoyed checking out the Northern Part of the Gold Coast including beach doggos, killer milkshake place and more sushi!

Ariel worked at a call centre for charities for a few weeks but she hated it despite the good pay and ended up e-mailing her old work in Vancouver (who have offices all over Australia) and got a job in the Brisbane Office as their Fundraising Support Officer! The spot had just opened up. The hours weren't full-time so Ariel tutored a South Korean guy for a while as well. By the time both of us had 2 jobs (hostel and paid) we were ready to get OUT. Luckily Ariel had an old work friend who had a room opening just outside of the city so we took it. We were so lucky as it was a lovely old Queensland house overlooking a nice valley called “The Gap” and had gorgeous sunsets, a pool room, great room-mates, a BBQ, and most importantly our own room!

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We spent the next 6 months in Brisbane living in Red Hill at the 122 House. We had 5 other room-mates and made many other friends that frequented the house. We even had a house possum called Peter (apparently QLD homes either have a possum or a carpet snake...we wish we had the latter). We also had a visiting cat for some time before we started to take care of a friends rescue dog Calvin (part dalmatian, part irish wolfhound).

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Here are the highlights of our 6 months:

Practicing balancing on a slack-line, playing pool, painting and playing card games
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Creating our own Settlers of Catan game from recycled materials
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Jamming with the many musical instruments and other musical friends we made
One of the lovely room-mates Jackson loved to Surf so we woke up early some mornings to join him to go swimming up North at Dicky Beach
Got invited to Nate and Sarah's wedding!
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Scrambling up one of the Glass House Mountains of Beerwah for our 1yr travel anniversary!
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For an x-mas gift to the house another room-mate Ash bought everyone tickets to Jurassic Park the Musical...it was low-budget, hilarious and not family-friendly!
Hosted a PJ Party and re-united with our Europe/Morocco travel-buddy Chelsea!
Ariel organized work Oscar Party & Christmas Party (all you can eat Korean BBQ and Karaoke)
Attended Kendra Cloughs' and Marks Engagement party (big thing in Oz)
Weekend camping at Byron Bay with friends and drank first Caesar while abroad!
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Skeleton Halloween Party (Ariel=zombie Snow White and Kevin=The Dude)
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Surprise visit from Vancouver friend Zia who we took on a drive up to Noosa National Park and saw wild turkeys and a turtle
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Celebrated 4/5 room-mates birthdays
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Attended Sea Shepard fundraiser
Invited to wedding dinner of Kevin's co-workers sister's Nepali wedding!
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Watching many lightning storms from our balcony (after scrambling to close all winders/doors and bring all balcony items inside)
Cheap bowling at Strike Bowling
Day trip to Moreton Island
Volunteered at Caloundra Music Fest (Sept 30-Oct 3rd): Highlights include Cat Empire (3rd/4th time seeing them live), Tower of Power, The Black Seeds, Cheap Fakes, Kim Churchill, Paul Dempsey, Incognito, Michael Franti, Harry Max, Daryl Braithwaite (still got it!), Guy Sebastian.
Felix Christmas party at bowls club
Christmas Eve spent at 122 watching the Grinch, eating baked Brie and taking photo's with Calvin.
Christmas Day we drove up to the Cloughs and ate a LOT (including shrimp with mango and avocado, YUM), played games and digested.
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Boxing Day went to SeaLife/Underwater World to use our winnings; Kevin got to swim in the shark/ray/fish tank and Ariel got to swim with the seals!
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Bought 4x4 Mitsubishi Challenger for future road trip
Last minute ticket purchase to Woodford Folk Festival to see Tash Sultana with Cam Alman (Ariel's old boss). Other highlights were Bullhorn, and Junkyard Beats and layers of art and other entertainers. It was a huge week-long festival. However we had to get going to Byron Bay to volunteer at the Falls Music Festival! (Dec 30-Jan 2nd). It was a scorching weekend where we saw amazing acts from Grandmaster Flash, Childish Gambino (to take us into the New Year), Ballpark Music, Fat Freddy's Drop (Ariel almost dropped of heat exhaustion), Bernard Fanning, Matt Corby, Pond, Violent Soho and the Avalanches. We took out time to leave as the final evening brought in a thunder storm that had everyone leaving early and we scoured the abandoned camp sites for leftover goodies! We found about 6 bags worth of food, camping and other random things like brand new socks! Silly wasteful people.

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Posted by Kev n' Ariel 04:26 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cairns

Warmer weather and Relocation Road Trip

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Arrived in CAIRNS via a redeye flight and stepped into the humidity and sunshine, yay! We even got a free shuttle to our new hostel Asylum. It was a really lovely social place and we arrived on a $5 all you can eat BBQ night! We enjoyed the Esplanade and weather but it was a similar job situation as Perth. We really wanted to be on a farm to enjoy the Aussie weather and finally we got a response from a farm near Brisbane so we go a Van relocation set up (companies want their vehicles in certain cities so they give you so many days to drive a car there and just have to pay insurance and some gas is covered!) and were ready to go until we hear some horrible reviews about this farm (many scam backpackers with room deposits and paying by bin weight not hourly) but we figured we might as well get moving and hopefully find work further south.

Our relocation van was called Vanguard from the Spaceship company. She was a good van and fully equipped with a bed inside and kitchen gear. We had 6 days to get to Brissy so we had to cover some ground! We free camped the whole way down via WikiCamps (best app!).
Our first day on the road we popped by Innisfail where our Canadian friends were Banana picking (hardest farm work!) and we checked out swimming holes of The Boulders and Josephine Falls. Then we stopped via Townsville where the Japanese nearly bombed the harbour during WWII. Next a side trip to Airlie Beach and ice cream. Then a longer driving day to Gladstone where we enjoyed one of the many free BBQ beach spots. Then another beach stop in Noosa where we saw dolphins fishing in the surf and ended up at the Cloughs! (Ariel's highschool friends parents) It was a lovely reunion with wine and swapping travel stories.

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We had to get the van dropped off the next morning near the airport and then got picked up by Ariel's old camp friend Nate who took us to the Koala Sanctuary and dropped us off in RedCliff (North of Brissy) where the Beegee's were born and we had our first AirBnB set up.
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We stayed there for 3 nights with our lovely hosts who ran a jaffle food truck (like fancy grilled cheese) and had 2 lovely staffy dogs. We explored the beach, even went on a run and went into the city to explore, eat sushi for our 4yr anniversary and celebrate Canada Day at one of the pubs! We even befriended a young couple there that we would catch up with a few more times over our time in Brissy.
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Posted by Kev n' Ariel 01:58 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia

Perth & the Sheep Farm

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Our flights were relaxed and uneventful and we even flew via Kuala Lumour with a few friends we knew before parting ways. When we landed in PERTH it was a sunny afternoon. We caught the bus into town and everything was so quiet and organized (people only walking at cross stops and driving within the lines...whaaat!).
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We checked into the Hive Hostel where we spent the next few weeks making friends and trying to find work. It was still “winter” aka cold and wet and no farm work was available unless you had a car. We befriended a couple which drove us out to Fremantle a few times where we had fish and chips and checked out the market place. We also found the best bar deal in Oz called Mustangs Bar which hosted $5 drink & food nights and was the extent of us going out.

Finally we heard from our friends that a farm our east was hiring and we got the job! Only, it was for 10days. We took it anyways and trained the 3hrs out to Southern Cross. We were picked up by a friendly grandmother who drove us the 30km or so to the rural sheep farm where we were set up in our own farm house and fed very well. There were 3 other workers and we would wake up early to drive out to hep with Mulesing. We spent a lot of our free time playing cards and watching bad t.v. Our hosts were very kind and invited us every evening to their family home to have delicious lamb dinner with them.
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We left after the work was done, back to the Hive. We were invited to come back a month later for shearing but we couldn't stand another month being unemployed so we flew off to CAIRNS and the heat of the sunshine! Right before we left we celebrated W.A Day and volunteered at a Jazz Fest where we got to see tons of local talent and Hiatus Kaiyote (not a jazz band to jazz diehards apparently).

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Posted by Kev n' Ariel 00:49 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Finals days in Nepal

Buddhists, Foods and Friends

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We were so excited to start eating every fresh vegetable in sight, however Kevin's stomach had not agreed with the burger we had and spent the next few days in bed. Bad luck for Kevy!
Otherwise we were running around the city as we had got in touch with our new network of friends from trekking buddies and farm pals and we caught up with them over the next few days .
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We spent a lot of time eating and finding trinkets and presents to send home. We also looked into taking a white water rafting trip near Pokhara but the season was not right and that meant a lot more time on a bus- no thanks. We opted to explore more of the Valley before we left.
We visited a huge Buddhist monastery one day and ran into one of the girls from the Eco Farm and got to sit in on a Q&A with a real life Buddhist.
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We became obsessed with a Israeli restaurant with fresh food and cozy cushions to sit on. We met up with our American friend from Cappadocia one evening whom we just happened to message. Ariel got her ears pierced in a jewellery shop and since their power was not on they used flashlights to light their way. And finally we scoured the city or the cheapest mail office and found out that despite advertisement for sea mail it doesn't exist unless you are shipping a few tonnes from India! On our very last day we went back to our first Workaway and found that the 2 pregnant dogs had their puppies and they were adorable. They were very happy to see us but the wife kept saying how she barely recognized Kevin as he had lost so much weight with the trek/food poisoning!
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And then it was time to leave. We were both sad to leave Nepal as we had learnt and seen so much and yet wanted more. We are both keen to come back for more adventures, but for now it was time to move on to Australia and hopefully find some paid work to continue our travels.

Posted by Kev n' Ariel 00:30 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

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