Somewhere along the Great Ocean Road in Australia, you think you’re alone, but someone’s watching you…
This post is part of the Travel Theme introduced each week by Aisla, see here.
Somewhere along the Great Ocean Road in Australia, you think you’re alone, but someone’s watching you…
This post is part of the Travel Theme introduced each week by Aisla, see here.
This is not without sadness that I announce this new post as being the last one I will make on Australia. Indeed, Broome will be our last stop as I will have then shared everything I know about that cherished country with you… Funny how what seemed a lifetime of adventure, amazement and fun can be summed up in just a few posts… But the backpacking dream does not end here, if I shed what seemed then to be all the tears a tiny body like mine could bear that gloomy September 11th 2012, I have yet to talk about amazing New Zealand.
But for today, Broome. The main city of Western Australia behind Perth, it holds a village feel. It took us a good 18 hours bus ride from Coral Bay to reach the dreamt Cable Beach, crossing what seemed like an endless desert of red dirt and bushes, with the occasional brakes of the bus trying to avoid the kangaroos. Let me break it here, we did not kill any kangaroos and yes, I was proud…
That part of Western Australia belongs to the aborigenals, and definitly you will feel like a stranger. Lots of horrifying stories are running around about this part of the bush, and the aborigenals, and to be honest, as I first mentionned Broome to my Australian host family, they told me never to go without taking a tour, or a hotel, something very secured… To hell with it, we traveled all three of us on the bus and booked a hostel, and nothing bad happened to us. My postcard freshly bought got stolen, but you can’t ask for too much can you…?
I want to talk first of the hostel. We had booked the cheapest we could find, and shame on me, I cannot remember the name of it… Unfortunately, because I would advise anyone NEVER TO GO. And I have done some hardcore backpacker hostels and shared rooms with rats and kitchen with cockroaches, but that particular one was way beyond anything I could take. All I remember is that it has a pool, it is located walking distance from the airport (the airport is literaly in the middle of the city) and accross the street from the YHA. I have never seen such a dirty place in my life and that they charge you for it is beyond me. We considered the possibility of not taking a shower for the three days, I mean you would catch skin diseases just by looking at it. We definitly did not eat anything that could have gone through the kitchen the entire time we stayed there. You have to know that Broome is hot, boiling hot and humid, the air full of flies. People were leaving their food out, the trash did not have anything to be covered with, so the kitchen was a slice of heaven for the flies. On the first night, one guy got drunk and vomited from the top of the stairs all the way to the hallway and by the time we left the dirt was still there… The hostel was 90% French people, and that’s never a good thing. We did not pay attention to it because there is no point, but the girls sharing our room litteraly rubished us, just because we were yet another lot of girls…
But appart from that, I am so glad we decided to stick to Broome, because what an experience! The most amazing beach you can ever imagine: Cable Beach! The main attraction is the camel ride at sunset, which we did. It costs an arm, but the memories I hold from that night are priceless. As the sun was setting down, we noticed a whale far in the distance, just jumping in and out of the water, right under that immense burning ball that is the sun… That’s when you feel so small and how everything else just seems to stop to matter… The sunsets are particularly beautiful in Broome, the sun is huge and falls right into the ocean. If you are at the right time of the month, you can witness what they call ‘the staircase to the moon’ which is basically the reflection of the full moon on the sea that makes it look like a staircase, unfortunately, we left a couple of days before full moon.
We enjoyed the beach, did some shopping, we booked a morning of kayaking in the Mangrove and had drinks at a japanese brewery (??). Here are some pictures, it was so hard to pick, so there are quite a few…
I am going away tomorrow for a long week end, so I’ll be back soon!
Hello! Yet, another week that came and went… At that time last year, we were planning our big journey through the Australian bush land. Our first stop had been Monkey Mia. From there, we did everything the same to get … Continue reading
Let me confess something here… We all have an idea of what we want to be when we grow up, as a child. Me, I wanted to be a dolphin trainer. I used to know everything there was to know on dolphins, I had tons of books that I couldn’t even read and bought every picture or character representing a dolphin. They were my favorite animals untill it turned into my very own life tragedy, because no, I would never be a dolphin trainer. Mom and Dad said it, so it must be true. They said “M. you can’t be a dolphin trainer” and when I asked why, every single time they would say “Because it is one in a million that get to do that”. And when I asked if that meant they thought I would never be able to be the ‘one in the million’ they would just remain silent. Eventually it rooted in, that I would never be good enough. Travelling Australia and New Zealand, I realized that yes, I could have been this person. Because there are way more than one person in a million that work with dolphins. The reason I’m talking about that? I want to show you today a little paradise, Monkey Mia.
On the west coast of Australia, a good ten hours from Perth. If you’re travelling by bus as we were, you need to want it to see it… We took a first bus from Perth to what they call ‘Overlander'(10 hours ride). Which is a petrol station in the middle of absolutly nowhere. We got down from the bus, got slapped in the face by the heat, picked up our backpacks, and sat at the table, fighting off the millions of flies harassing us. The desert. The bush as they call it. This man, this old man with his pick up truck came to pick us up then, and drove us all the way to Denhman where we spent the night. Takes about two hours more. He came again to pick us up the next morning and dropped us at Money Mia resort, a little place known for its dolphin colonies… It took us 30 minutes more. That old man, very nice old man I need to say, was sort of … creepy. On the way, he insisted on telling us how many dead kangaroos he had seen that morning on the side of the road. Then his world record of dead kangaroos. He also showed us a picture of this beautiful baby son, called… Brax. Me to ask, as a joke, if his wife was a fan of ‘Home and Away’ (you know that oh so famous Australian tv soap?). Well, let me tell you, yes his wife is the biggest fan of the show and named her own baby after the braxton family…
Back to Monkey Mia! We spent three days there, it was just us and a very few people really, but we had an amazing time. I had never seen wild dolphins in my life before but I must have seen a hundred on just these few days! We went on a cruise, seen a Dugong, went for a walk in the red dirt and chilled by the pool. Had some barbecues and a few cocktails.
The life I like to live!!
I think on that case, photos will be better than any words I could say. Enjoy!
I am going away tomorrow for a long week end at the beach, therefore I’ll finish early the week as usual with a bit of Australia.
I still remember how I seen Fremantle for the first time, how I felt and what I thought. It was such a sunny day, 25°C in the middle of winter, everybody was out and about, taking coffees on the side walk or walking lazily enjoying the sun. Of course, I loved it at first sight… I thought I’d be so happy here and I had taken the good decision. It wasn’t even half a day before G decided to come by, we walked along the beach, we watched the most amazing sunset, staring at the water because ‘water so dark, it has to be water for sharks’. The truth is, the rain started to fall the next day, and Freo in the rain I learnt to hate it. The rainy days only ever meant his departure and that must be why from the start I was unable to bear them.
I had booked a hostel, completly randomly, and even when I try really hard to remember why I picked this one I absolutly can’t come up with any answers. Pirate’s backpackers, wow what an adventure! I was hired as a cleaner on the first day I arrived, which is why I deciced I had to stick to it. The first few days were hard. Pirates, it is dirty, and it is NOISY. I had decided for a girl’s room, and this one was right on the balcony, on top of the courtyard… I became so sleep deprived, I switched room in the first week, and ended up sharing a room with 5 guys, and this for three full months. How much I loved this place I can’t describe but I cried my heart out when I left. If I close my eyes, I can still see it, I wake up in the morning, top bunk, it is a bright sunny day, I go on the balcony to have a read, or I go to have breakfast and everybody is still asleep. The rats and the cockcroach it is all gone and all that is left are the memories of the crazy parties, the quiet night watching movies, the chicken pasta, the mad travelling people and the hilarious Irish men.
I had a couple different jobs when I was in Freo. I did some gardening for a lovely old man in South Fremantle. I also did some cleaning jobs for an old witch, and of course, cleaning at the hostel. Never in the world would I have imagined myself doing all that, to be entirely honest I had never cleaned anything in my life before that day!! It is quite a common thing for backpackers, take a cleaning job in a hostel for free accomodation. The thing was, at Pirates, they were paying you at the hour, which allowed me to have enough money to survive entirely on that salary. And no kidding! The job was hell! Pirates is one of these hostels with no rules, alcohol can be drank anywhere in the building at any time of the day and night. Parties go on every night, and for everyone that enter the place with the intention of only staying one night, either flee from the first morning, or end up staying for an indefinite period of time. The things I’ve seen during these few months of work, I won’t dare to tell, but let me tell you, I learnt life!!
So what to do in Freo? Because let’s not forget it is a very small town… 30 minutes train from the Perth CBD, 4 dollars each way, you’d better keep busy at home!
Well, for such a small town, Freo has quite a number of breweries, the best being Monk, Sail and Anchor – in which we spent many hours sipping a fresh gin and tonic – and the iconic Little Creatures. I absolutly love this place, it is the craziest place I got to see in Oz. Simply huge, wether you want a meal, a pizza or just to sip a beer in the sun, they have it all. It is an absolute MUST DO of Freo! You can as well take a tour of the brewery, that ends which a free beer tasting. Do not forget to try the kangaroo dish.
You can of course, enjoy the beach. White sand and blue water, what more to say? Beware of the sharks they are not a joke. A great white shark had been spotted one morning last winter, it was a very hot and sunny day I remember, on the shores of Fremantle.
Have a walk or a run, everything is so beautiful:
And for course, have a romantic sunset watch, for I believe they are the most gorgeous I have gotten to see…
That is all for today, I hope you enjoyed the little tour. There is so much I would like to say about Fremantle, but I believe this post is already big enough.
Have a great week end everyone!
As promised, a proper post on Western Australia, and obviously I cannot but start with Perth, where it all began. My idea was, as I was freezing my ass in Melbourne I had to go where the sunshine and heat were… My whole time in Melbourne I kept saying my next step would be Brisbane and it is only when I went to buy the plane ticket that I suddenly decided for Perth… The day I flew, Perth was experiencing their ‘worst storm in a hundred years’ I quote. For some reason, it keeps happening to me!! The plane took forever to land and I arrived at the darkest hours…
I did not have a great impression about Perth, and I haven’t really changed my mind as I got to know the city a bit better. I first went down to a hostel on William St (in Northbridge), a place called Brittania on Williams. I do not know why I picked it, but I absolutly hated it! I tried a few hostels in Perth and all of them where: expensive AND dirty. This one, the room had no windows, no air conditioning, the kitchen was dirty, creepy old men were running around the place trying to catch a young girl in their nets and the legend of the bed bugs finally reached my ears… I stayed I think four nights, and my heart broke as I left! I met the craziest of Irish man, my roomie for these few days, and he became my best friend – to say the least – for the next few months. Travelling is all about the people you find along your way… This hostel has the advantage to be located in Northbridge, the backpacking place… You need to get past the hookers and strip clubs because it is definitly the best neighborhood of Perth. All the vintage shops, edgy pubs or restaurants are there. Have a beer at the Monkey Brass, a huge pub on William St that you can’t miss. I loved it!
As for Perth, it is a very small city, small city center with lots of shops and pubs. The main attractions to the city for me are:
Next week, I will take you to my beautiful Fremantle, in the meantime, have a great week end!
I am starting my last serie of posts on Australia, as I have now reached the end of all my knowledge on that beloved country. Last but not least, Western Australia. I kept it for the end, for a few reasons, and most of all because it has been my absolute favorite Australian state. Also, probably because it is still such a deep memory, the good and the bad are still intertwined in a swirl of laughs, happiness and tears.
My brother is now living in Perth, he broke the news to me the very day I came home from 16 amazing months of travelling, through my mother, probably for fear of what I would say. If I like to think that family is sacred and that I should ONLY have been happy for him to have the opportunity to live the same life changing experience I had, it only broke my heart so deep I wasn’t too sure how to fix it. I can’t really say how much of what I felt as a betrayal conditioned the way I now consider my experience in Western Australia but it sure made it an open wound, a memory so dirty that I would only feel sick and enraged every time the word Australia would be brought up. Time has passed since then, and if I am able to have the best outlook possible on my experience in OZ, I still don’t know how to deal with the curiosity of my whole family around the new life my brother has given himself.
“He owes it all to himself, you have no right to be angry at him” that’s exactly how Mom put it. “He took lots of risks to go there, and live the life he wanted”. The only thing he did was live the dream of MY life exactly at the moment it was taken away from me.
But family is like that that you learn to forgive. Anything. C is always talking of the days when “we’ll be back there. Because we will. Won’t we?” Won’t we? Can we revive the happy days that we’ve had? What happens if the day we finally set our backpacks down there (because we will) none of what we remembers is there? One thing is sure, we won’t ever find what we used to have. And when I am asked now “If you have the chance to live in Oz again, where would it be?” the answer is not Fremantle anymore, for the fear of ruining the memory of what are the happiest days of my life is greater than the expectations of a lifetime of beach and sunshine.
I absolutly did not intend that post to go on like this, but I think that is an interesting subject, how do we react to a ‘coming home’ after what appears like a lifetime away?We always hear about the ‘cultural gap’ between our own culture and the one we enter into when we travel somewhere, but what about the cultural gap you feel when you come back after so many months away? How do you come to terms with it? I used to think then that I would NEVER come home, that my home was nowhere or everywhere but certainly not France, and it was so deeply rooted inside of me that I believe it is the only explanation to why I agreed to get on that plane that would take my back to the Old continent. The belief that I would go back, come home to the Down Under, far away from a country to which I stopped to belong. I see a lot of blogs around here of people travelling the world, I think what I want to know is how you deal with the coming back, leaving behind the exiting life of travelling, letting go of the backpacking community to come back to a normal routine of work, listening to the news everyday and worrying about the future.
I will make sure to prepare a proper post tomorrow about the amazing wilderness of WA, in the meantime, enjoy these few shots…
I was driving this afternoon, and as usual my mind was drifting to that far away land, and once again, it hit me right in the face, how much I miss travelling. It happens so often now, usually it is when I drive among the vineyards, with the sun and the blue sky. Because no matter how much I belong to this land and these vines, all I ever want to do is LEAVE. Can’t we be happy in just one place? They tell me it will fade as I get older, but older I’ve become and it still hasn’t faded. What if it doesn’t? How to ever settle?
I wanted to share today a special place, for a very different reason this time. This place, it is the ONLY place in Australia that I have absolutly hated! I name… Mission Beach, a couple hundreds kilometers down from Cairns. Don’t get me wrong, Mission Beach is among the paradise beaches on the Great Bareer Reef, where you go lay in the sun or snorkelling with the turtles… Unless, you choose the wrong season… Yes, because when I took my parents to the Great Bareer Reef, I did not have a clue about OZ, and for me it was summer every day of the year. North Queensland is under a tropical sort of climate, with two different seasons: wet and dry. Do I need to say which one I chose to go? March is the worst month of the year Want to know why?
-Hot and wet
-Every single touristic activity is closed
-You cannot go swimming in the ocean because of the blue stingers. Don’t try, they’ll kill you. There are two nets in Mission Beach if you want to have a swim, however, we went there a week after a hurricane (another joy of the wet season) and everything was destroyed
-The bugs. Oh god. Don’t ask me to explain, I have worked very hard to erase these two days from my memory…
-The rain. Downpours of rain without any interruption and by the time we drove to the aiport in Cairns the water was up to the doors of the car
There are of course, always, a few good memories that I need to share:
-I introduced my parents to Fish and Chips. I mean, how do you even wait 60 years before trying fish and chips??
-We booked that amazing bungalow in an ‘eco friendly’ resort down by the beach. We could not get over how cheap it was. Until we got there (off season). The pool was gorgeous and the BANANAS!! I had to wait 23 years to see my first banana tree, and boy, doesn’t it look odd! They were sugar bananas growing all over the resort and the boss had told us to eat all that we could otherwise they’d be lost. Sure we did our best!
-The wee restaurant down by the beach. Forget all the beetle flying around and spiders hanging from the ceiling and you’ll get amazing food and great atmosphere
-Mission Beach is known for being the home of quite a few Casoar. Ever heard of these animals? They are huge kinda birds, they can’t fly and they have that very strange thing on their head. We’ve seen two of them and have felt so lucky for they are amazingly rare birds. Our lives are finally complete.
One more funny story. On the second day we decided, as everything was closed including the crocodile farm, to go and see whatever falls that I can’t remember the name on top of a mountain of course. We took the car, and drove drove drove up, avoiding the cows on the road and trying not to ruin the car on the dirt road. Must have taken us a good 45 minutes to get to the top. We got out of the car, walked to the look out, heard the falls very clearly, but from inside the cloud that we were in we could not see the falls… Failure of a day or what?
Every trip can’t always be a success, as long as you have great company it can’t be lost.
Week end post is always about Australia, and of course there will be some sun! Fraser Island, ever heard of it? A wild place somewhere near the Great Barrier Reef? We went for a day trip last December, hoping to pet some dingos and swim in beautiful lagoons…
We stayed in Hervey Bay, at a hostel named Flashpackers. Without a doubt, I would recommend it to anyone! Brand new, very modern, music in the common rooms, fancy kitchen, it also has a room/fridge!! Huge pool, movie theater room we had a wonderful couple of nights, we wished we had stayed longer to take advantage of all that was available to us! And the shower just BLEW MY MIND! I have never seen a shower like that before, I want one at home. Only downside: no air conditioning in the rooms… I nearly died in there, 40 degrees all day, sharing it with 8 people, and one electrical fan (knowing that we had booked a four people dorm with air con, and that’s we ended up in…). You will never know how much I cherished this memory during while I was freezing my a** in Spain…
We took the ferry to Fraser early morning, on a very sunny day. It was an organized day trip, you have to know that you can only access the island by booking a tour OR with a 4WD. Nothing else will get you in. And no wonder… There isn’t a single road, just some paths drawn on the sand. Millions of path actually! This island is a famous spot for Australian vacationers, and when we came it was full of people. The island is very well known for its beaches (we could not swim because of the stingers), the dingos, the forest, the shipwreck and Lake McKenzie: picture perfect, with its white sand and blue water. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen a single dingo, apparently it was ‘too hot’. We literally roasted, but at that point of the trip, our skin was already so burnt, we were getting sunburnt on top of our tan (or the other way around?) and we had turned a weird shade or brownish/redish… We’ll never say it enough, be careful with Australian sun, it hits harder than anywhere else on the planet.
We had to leave very early in the morning to get back in time to Brisbane in time for my plane, and as we got ready to leave, disaster fell upon us: the kitchen was closed. 6 AM, sweating already, trying to open the bloody door, we cried our pringles, nutella and vodka (all backpackers in Oz will know what these two last items represent). The hard life on the road…
Just a few photos to finish this story, so enjoy!
Continuing our trip through the East Coast of Australia, our stop today is: Noosa. In my mind, Noosa was this little heaven, white sand beaches, surfing, a quiet paradise… A paradise it is, quiet it definitly is, but it is also VERY crowded!
We stopped there in December, with a boiling hot couple of days, ready for two full days of fun and party! We had booked a room at Dolphin Beach House, a hostel far off from the ‘city’ center, completly pink! Omg, gorgeous place really, so relaxing, with the major drawback of being so far from the center – and the main beach – and without a car, there is no other way but to stay there… So the hostel provides a few shuttles a day, and there is a magnificent beach down the road, but well, not the ideal to do grocery shopping or if you want to have dinner at a restaurant, or just have a night out! A specificity of this hostel is that it is eco-friendly, for example, they are very strict on water, so they only have hot water early in the morning and at some point at night, to limit the shower time. It only means queue for the showers in the morning, but well, it was hot anyway so it did not bother us to take cold showers.
On the first morning, we woke up to the smell of fire. Indeed, there was a bush fire somewhere, and the whole day was sort of in a fog, very heavy heat, and it was a strange impression. Bushfires are part of Australian life, but they are my favorite thing to experience. You can see on some of the photos how the sky was foggy from the smoke.
We liked Noosa even though it wasn’t at all the party place as we thought it would be. We went to the beach – somehow, Noosa is a major surfing point but there isn’t a single place that offer surfing lessons. All you can do is hire a board, but seeing the size of the waves, no way we were going in there without a single idea on how to surf! There is a national park, that goes from the Main Beach, a few hours walk in the bush, then through the ‘naked people beach ‘ (wow be prepared), and down the hill to the beach down from the hostel. It is an easy walk and it was so hot we obviously did it ‘just as we were’ meaning flip flops, shorts, and carrying only a bottle of water. Of course C. hit her foot on a rock, cut her big toe, right in the middle of the park. Pissing blood everywhere, she carried her disgusting little toe all the way to the end… I know better by now, there is not a trip I take with her without carrying the whole First Aid box…
Anyway, some sunny pics to start this week!