Wednesday, August 29, 2012

byron bay

Last Sunday, I went to Byron Bay again with a couple of friends, for the surf. However, when we got there, there were no real waves, so we spent the day swimming and sunbathing - which over here they call sunbaking. I suppose the sun is that much stronger, it is more like being in an oven than a bath!

We swam out to a wrecked ship in the bay, with the aid of a surf board and S's muscles. I can swim, but I am neither fit nor a strong swimmer at the best of times, so the surf board was a great idea. I swam the first 200m or so and then S paddled the board and I hung on to the tow rope. As you do. The wreck is pretty old, a big metal arm sticking out of the water encruated with barnacles, and below, a looming dark shape of the bow of the ship.

The water is very clear here, so you could see quite far into the pale blue water to see the fuzzy outline of the ship. I was happy enough swimming (and being dragged) out to the wrexk, putting aside the thoughts of sharks and jellyfish and aliens and seaweed, but once I got there, and touched the arm, and looked down at the black shape... I have to say I panicked. Thoughts of giant octupuses and decapods from childhood story books, ferocious eels and who knows what else sprang immediately to mind, and S was turfed from his surfboard as my strength suddenly came back to me...

After lying on the sand gasping for breath from the long swim back, it became chilly so we moved off the beach. Having had all these grand ideas of taking lots of beachy photos I then decided I didn't actually want any photos of myself in a bikini, so I didn't take any. I did however take some of our trip up to the lighthouse and of the sunset.

Here they are:

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sydney Pics Part 2

1. A building in sydney.

2.  Darling Harbour.  I was there.

3 onwards: views from the Westfield Tower, which towers above all other skyscrapers in Sydney and is basically just an observation tower with a cafe at the top.

(I've lost count) This picture may seem out of place but they were selling these in the gift shop at the tower - I didn't buy any, but thought it was pretty awesome.

(I've lost count 2)  An aborigine playing one of those loud and discordant wooden things that I can't remember the name of. of.  of.  

Sydney Opera House

Proof that I Woz 'Ere.

The awesome Hugs man.  Apparently it's something to do with random acts of kindness, but he seriously stood there all day... I was genuinely tempted to make my own sign saying "Hugs $5" and see whether I got any more...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sydney Pt 1 : Taronga Zoo

On Saturday morning, I flew down to Sydney for the weekend.  After drinking copious amounts of coffee, it was time to go to the zoo.  I would like to introduce you to Taronga Zoo, or at least, to the photos that I have taken of it.  

Firstly we have a koala, doing what koalas do best.  There were three koalas in the enclosure, all curled up into tight little balls on dead sticks of trees.  In fact, when I say enclosure, it wasn't actually an enclosure.  There was a roof, presumably to keep off the sun, and one wall, along which ran a ledge from which you could watch the koalas - and after that, nothing really.  They were quite free to roam wherever they wanted to, but being koalas, they just slept.

Next, a komodo dragon, which did have a secure enclosure, thankfully!

Some sort of iguana.

This is a taipan.  Taipans are one of the most deadly snakes in the world, and although it doesn't look like it in the photo, I was separated from it by a glass wall.  Pretty awesome though.

Some sort of African rock sheep thing.  There were loads of them, all doing what sheep do best - ie pooping all over their enclosure, one after another.

The seal show was probably my favourite part of the show.  They were all very good and did loads of tricks but this is the only good (ish) picture that I got of any of it.

Wobblies!!  Wallabies, I mean.

Kangaroos - my first kangaroos seen in Australia, which everyone else here finds hard to believe.  Apparently they are really common and all over the place and have all been avoiding me on purpose, just to spite me.  They're like that, you know.

Finally, a funnel web spider, which was introduced to everyone watching the Spider Show.  It was about 2 or 3 inches long.  I didn't bother to stay to see any more spiders, not so much because I wasn't interested by the spiders, but more because I was going into cryogenic suspension and was afraid I wouldn't last much longer.

And that, my friends, was Taronga Zoo.  


Friday, August 17, 2012


Yesterday I was in Townsville, which was a sight better than the previous overnight in Rockhampton. Not only moving from the Travelodge to the Holiday Inn, but also the town and area in general. Townsville seemed so much more classy, I guess.

In Rocky, hooligans steal parts of bull figurines as they have nothing else to do. In Townsville... well actually I have no idea what they do there, but we went to a pretty nice Ribs and Rumps restaurant. Not that we vandalised the cattle of Rockhampton, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, attached are a couple of views from the aircraft - the hill at about 3 mile final to RWY01, which you have to fly around to land on a visual approach, also just a shot of the harbour, and two pics from my hotel window.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lenny et al

Yesterday I made a new friend, whose name is Lenny. SoR and I had a little bit of a dancing around moment, squealing 'SNAKE' and wishing wr had shoes. On further investigation, Lenny turned out to be a blue-tongued skink/lizard, and is pretty awesome. The adrenalin rush having worn off,we named him and decided to keep him (not that we really had any other option - than keeping him, I mean. Naming him was all choice, I swear).

The picture is actually a photo of my laptop screen image of someone else's photo. Don't ask me why I did it that way, it just seemed like a good idea at the time.

Last night, I invited some of the internationals over for dinner. I cooked beef stroganoff, and had all these amazing ideas of taking photos of each step of the cooking process, showing the delicious ingredients and how amazing a google chef I am.

I got a photo of all of the ingredients sitting on the countertop, and then the chaos set in. Our kitchen is just normal kitchen size, and we had people making pizza for their dinner, others opening bottles of wine, oters heating up water for pasta... I am sorry to say that I only got that one photo. I didn't even get a photo of the finished process, but I can at least tell you now that it was delicious.

It was a very satisfying way to spend my only day off, and we stayed up late socialising over a glass or two of red wine, in a truly Spanish fashion (even Spanish wine) and I hope we get to do something like that more often. I have to say that the majority of my international colleagues are truly nice people!

Anyway, I must get on - places to go, people to see, uniform to iron, you know the drill.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Horse Riding in Rocky

I never did update you guys on how the horse-riding in Rockhampton went.  I only rode for about 15 minutes but it was still fun, howbeit around in circles.  The first hurdle was obviously trying to get on the horse - made a lot easier with the steps! (no, I didn't try without)

Next, it was walking and learning how to make the horse move when I wanted it to move, and stop when I wanted it to stop.  The easy part was getting it to stop - the hard part trying to make it go forward.  I don't think Albie was too keen on having me on his back.

After learning how to make Albie turn left and right, I got to trot!  As in, I got to bounce up and down in the saddle with my teeth banging together... 

Finally began to master the up-down-iness of trotting, and then it was time to stop.

And finally, here is M with her horse, Albie. He is a retired race-horse.  I am actually hoping to get some horse-riding lessons, but work is sort of taking precedence at the moment!

By "finally", I mean that is the last horse picture in this series - the final picture is actually of a kitten, not of a horse.  


Saturday, August 11, 2012


I have now discovered an app so that I can blog properly from my iphone. Im a bit technologically delayed, as I'm sure the app has existed longer than my blog!

I apologise for the font etc in my previous blog - it wasn't me, it was my phone. :)

I am treating you to a never-before-seen photo of the sea off Brisbane - just to make you feel better about my blogging about nothing at all!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Another pictureless post

Today is my first day at work.  That said, I don't really have to work - I'm just sitting in the jumpseat pretending to be useful.  My roster yesterday looked pretty favourable with lots of reserve and plenty of days off at the weekends.  Today, everything has changed and apparently I don't get days off any more.  We shall see about that!

Anyway, tonight I am overnighting in Rocky, followed by many more similar duties, which I suppose is good for the salary but not the best for me!  In fact, next week I have six days of work including five overnights - which is just a little over the top!

Housemate 1 is in Auckland for the weekend which is great - for us - so it is nice letting the hair down at home.  Housemate 2 got a new (old) car yesterday so she is very happy about that.  Housemate 3 plans to spend the weekend surfing, and I am very jealous!  Everyone is meeting up on Sunday to go surfing, except for Yours Truly.  

Next weekend the plan is to go to an island south of Brisbane for the weekend.  This island is about 50 minutes drive south of Brizzy, and then a 40 minute ferry trip.  I am only off on Saturday so I am trying to find some people who also just want to go for the day trip!  Apparently there is lots of whale watching, turtles, etc etc which should be pretty awesome.  I have yet to see any proper Australian wildlife, as yesterday we were supposed to go to a nature reserve and it didn't work out.

I am sorry to have been such a horrible blogger, but holiday has been epic, and the blog hasn't been the first thing on my mind.  Now, however, with endless hours vegetating on the jumpseat, I have little else to do.  Yes, I am still complaining, Thank You Very Much.

During my Extremely Epic two week holiday, I have been to Rockhampton, experimented with marshmallow sparklers, been horse riding (I do have pictures that I WILL share at some stage!), been surfing twice, driven on awesomely rutted roads with my delicate little Corolla, generally chilled out and had a great time - and of course hugely missed everyone at home in the Emerald Isle.  I really wish I could combine Australia with Ireland but I think it is unlikely to happen!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

No More Holidays

Well the holiday's over, people!  Unfortunately my license has finally arrived and I have to go to work tomorrow.  Four days in a row of being a safety pilot, spoiling my plans for surfing!  The company is so excited to have me fully licensed because they are so short staffed - so after this weekend I am on reserve for the rest of the month!!!


Anyway, nothing else to say except that I have spent the whole day cleaning the inside of my car and have come to the conclusion that it is actually grey and not tan!


Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Bulls

I didn’t really tell you all very much about Rockhampton.  In fact, I think all I wrote about was the marshmallow night.  It’s been a busy few days since I got back.  

I returned from Rockhampton on Wednesday night, Thursday I went to look at a car with J and then GH and MB came around for the afternoon and dinner.  Friday I was supposed to have a dinner date with an Australian friend off the internet (another one) who I still haven’t met, as it fell through (still need to email her to tell her next Friday is off due work...) and then Saturday I went over to see JMcI and MV and Sunday I went surfing.  It’s awesome keeping busy, I must say!  I’m definitely not looking forward to going back to work.

Yes, I know I’m being paid to work, but all of my housemates (and the majority of my international colleages) are being paid to be on holiday, basically, so it’s only fair that I get some holiday myself!  (I think so, anyway)

I was going to tell you about Rockhampton, but I got sidetracked with not-blogging-excuses.  I arrived in Rocky on Monday afternoon, and can’t remember what we did first.  Oh yes, now I remember!  We drove around Rockhampton looking at bulls.  

When I told DB that I was going to Rockhampton for a couple of days, he said: “why do you want to go there?  The only things in Rockhampton are cattle.”  I had no idea how true that actually was.  When I say we drove around Rockhampton looking at bulls, I mean, we drove around Rockhampton and everywhere I looked there was a statue of yet another bull.  I think in the 20 minutes we were touring the place, I saw 8 bull statues and 2 horse statues.  Apparently when people go to Rockhampton, that’s what they do.  They look at the endless bull statues...  I’m actually fairly sure that they’re not called “statues” - it seems far too grand for a randomly painted figure of a bull.  

The last 2 of the 8 bull figure-oojits were a red and a blue bull sitting on top of a bar, and I don't think they really counted as part of Rockhampton's bull-statue heritage.

I'm sure that anyone reading this blog will be as interested by this blog post about the bulls as I was about seeing the bulls - ha!  You also might notice that some of these bulls don't appear to be bulls... in that some vital anatomy is missing.  This is because apparently people who go to Rocky to visit the bulls like to take away trophies.  I know, very weird.  That's just the way it is.

Anyway, two posts in one day, and I still haven't told you much about my trip to Rockhampton!!!


More Surfing

Yesterday morning, I got up bright and early and hopped in the car to drive to a place called Seven Mile Beach.  If you are really curious, and have a fetish for looking places up on google maps, it is south of Byron Bay and north of Lennox Head, both of which are in New South Wales.  The drive took about two hours, and on the way, I took a couple of photographs.  I actually took loads of photographs but I am only going to bore you with a couple of these.  

Below is a hot air balloon.  There were three of these, two red ones and a REMAX one in typically REMAX colours, but I only managed to get a good shot of this one.

The majority of the road to Byron Bay was dual carriageway, or in some cases 3 lanes, and occasionally even 4.  They have big fences and walls along the sides of the highway and even signs asking you to report sightings of koalas.  Every now and then they have tunnels and bridges, like the one below.  This is one of the larger tunnels, some are only about 20 metres long, and the most striking thing about them is that they don't have roads or railways on top.  Just trees, and fences, and more trees, and probably koalas.  That's right, these are wildlife crossings to make sure that the native wildlife can travel safely from one side of the highway to the other.

On saying that most of the road was dual carriageway, I really did mean most.  The M1 takes you most of the way, and then it changes into the <1> or maybe N1, don't ask me, but once you get to Byron, everything changes.  Nobody told me this before I went... in my cute little Corolla Seca with very very little suspension and extremely delicate forward shock absorbers...

Below is the road from Byron to Seven Mile Beach:

Obviously these dirt roads don't do so well when it rains.  Thankfully I do have a very small car so most of the time I was able to drive it up on the verge etc to miss these channels.  Once I did hear a gentle "GRUNK" sort of sound as the bottom of the car slid un-gracefully over a lump, and I got a bit of wheel spin another time as the car sat in the channel and I presume the wheel wasn't actually sitting on anything.

I arrived at Seven Mile Beach to be told... we're not actually staying here to surf, we're going to go back towards Byron and Broken Head to surf there... so I had to do the drive all over again.  Probably about 4 miles of epic rallying in Delicate Toyota with the extremely high mileage (kilometerage?) 

Above is a nest of some sort.  It seemed to be made of dirt and deserted, and was about 2 metres up this dead tree.  I don't know what sort of nest it was, but I didn't poke it to find out.

Below is Broken Head beach, and moi.  Hi.  Yes, I did wear sunscreen.  Yes, I did remember to put it on my face, and no, I did not get burnt.  Thanks for asking.

Below is a wild turkey.  I took a picture of it mainly because of it's vividly daffodil yellow neck, but it didn't really come out in the picture (mainly because I took the picture on my iphone and the turkey was running away at the time)  

We also saw two sea-eagles, massive things with white breasts and golden brown everywhere else, but I didn't get pictures.  The guys reported that they saw whales in the sea the previous day but unfortunately I didn't get to see them.

I did see some shadows in the surf while I was surfing.  The sea was crystal clear, you could see the sand below even when you were out of your depth.  When the waves were coming they were pale blue and clear, you could see right through them, and the larger waves were dark blue.  They curled at the top and when you did that it was a fairly good cue to hold your nose because they were about to break on top of you.  The problem was that while you were holding your nose you only had one hand to hold the surf board... and when the wave took the surf board it was pretty violent.  This could be why I am all aches and pains today!  

The shadows in the surf were rather disconcerting.  They turned out to be shadows of the board, and of me, but when you see a shadow and you know Australia has sharks... yeah.  It was at times like these that I got distracted and ended up getting pummelled by the next wave!  

I have to say, I really love the surfing, although it is only my second time doing it now.  I will definitely be keeping this up and can't wait to go again next time!!!