Archive for the 'Pat’s Thoughts' Category

by Pat
on May 31st, 2007

Back In The Magnetic City!

And it’s fl-i-i-i-ping c-c-c-c-cold!

After a nice 12 hour overnight bus journey from Sydney (complete with, I think, about 30 minutes sleep) I arrived in Melbourne at 6:30am, getting out of the coach to be greeted by the weather equivalent of a big block of ice smashing me in the face.

Still, there was no choice but to grin, bear it, put a coat on and trundle 15 minutes down the road to Urban Central (via an exposed, windy section across a bridge over the Yarrah)… to find out that check in was from 2pm. It was 6:51am. Luckily there was space to store my rucksack et al and some sofas to crash on, so that’s what most of yesterday morning was spent doing.

Last night I met up with AJ and Kirsten, who are still at Urban Central 4 months after seeing them last, which was great to catch up and meet all the friends they’ve made at the hostel. Seems like a good crowd, so the next week should be fun I reckon. AJ’s doing a drag show tonight in the hostel bar, so I can’t wait to see that. Never seen a drag show before. I guess you’ve gotta try anything once, right? *

Today I picked up a Coles green bag full of bits I’d left in Greenhouse Backpackers’ 2-3 week storage area 4 months ago. Everything’s still in there! Winner!

The next week is going to be spent burning DVDs of photos, posting lots of crap back home (sorry in advance Mum and Dad!), watching Squage blog and looking for job opportunities here there and everywhere.

Then… who knows?

Hope all’s well back at home. I’m off for a walk back to the hostel. With a coat on.



P.S. I’ve uploaded some photos from my Surfing Lessons and more from the Whitsundays Tour, if you’re bored and fancy a look!

* N.B. This will not extend to actually participating in a drag show, for the record

by Pat
on May 28th, 2007

Wooh! I Did The Bridge Climb!

Well, despite my ever-continuing fear of heights, I managed to get myself up and walking along see-through grilled platforms over 50+ metre drops and up a long ol’ climb to a point 134 metres above the Sydney Harbour.

Yep, today I did the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb.

It was at once amazing (the views were just incredible from the top and, frankly, the entire structure is awe-inspiring – particularly when you think about the people who risked their lives to build the huuuge structure) and bloody scary… fortunately I managed to make the entire thing without panicking, which was nice, and also got some Quality Cheesy Photos ™ taken near the top.

The aforementioned photos will follow… till then, I think it’s time for a beer :-)



Still a bit shaky, but so, SO glad he’s done it

by Pat
on May 26th, 2007

Stop The Clock!

Well, after leaving here on the 28th of January I’m now back in Sydney, having seen a whole lot of this fine country in the mean time.

I’m still very much behind on my bloggin-er… that is… Squage is very much beh… well, you get the idea. Either way over the next week expect all those gaps from my Diving Course, the Whitsundays, Fraser Island, Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour to be filled in – hopefully in an entertaining fashion, but hey I’m giving Squage the reigns as ever so I can’t guarantee it…

Since Brisbane I’ve been to Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour:

Byron involved a bit of hiking, some drinks with Caroline (who I met in New Zealand) and her mate Julia, two days of tiring, sometimes frustrating but very much rewarding surfing lessons (I even managed to stand up for more than 5 seconds… I KNOW!). Oh and getting up at 4:30am to watch the Champions League final. I love the feetball, as you know.

Coffs Harbour was a very chilled out affair, mainly involving a nice coastal walk along beaches and over hills – and a nice early night. Twas a well needed rest from all that surfing (the aching of which is still with me despite the last lesson being on Wednesday) – and a good way to catch up on the sleep I was so deprived of in Brisbane.

Alas more sleep deprivation occurred last night, as I took the 9 hour night bus from Coffs to Sydney and, as usual, managed about 5 minutes sleep. Fortunately the lovely folk at the Sydney City Central YHA allowed me to check in early (5:40am) and so I slept until about 11:30… thus feeling almost awake again, wooh!

You can check out the photos from the various places: Brisbane, Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour. Photos from the surfing are on their way…

The next few days will involve catching up with Jonny (from my Perth to Broome tour), Sam (from Sydney) and James (from the Outback Tour), along with doing the Harbour Bridge Climb on Monday. There’ll also be blogging, of course, and then it’s off down to Melbourne on Tuesday. No idea how I’m getting there yet – but I’m hoping to nab a “relocation” deal with a hire car firm (i.e. $0 hire, but you have to drive pretty much straight to Melbourne – which is fine in this case!). Either that or blag a lift with some other folk who’re going down that way…

For now though I’m going to look at some potential job based stuff. Fun fun fun!

Hope all’s well with you!

All the best,


by Pat
on May 20th, 2007

Viva Bris Vegas!

I almost forgot about this, what with Squage reminiscing about things that happened almost a month ago: Hello! I’m in Brisbane!

Since I last spoke about where I was, I’ve been to the very chilled out and super-pretty beach town of Noosa, whereupon I spent some time lying on the beach and going for walks in the lovely national park forests – oh and took a day out to the awesome Australia Zoo. I recommend you go there as a) there are lots of animals, b) they’re looked after really well, c) you can pat Koalas and other animals and d) there are lots of live feedings / shows throughout the day to see. Plus if you’re in Noosa they run a free shuttle bus to and from the zoo!

The one minor concern with Australia Zoo is that Steve “Crocodile Hunter” Irwin is still on many of the videos and signage around the zoo, which adds a slightly creepy element to the place. It didn’t really detract from an otherwise great day, but it was, well, a little odd. I guess they’re still all coming to terms with things and, let’s face it, he was largely responsible for where the zoo is today, I just think they need to get rid of the stuff that aludes to him still being with us, is all.

Oh, also, if you go there make sure to bring a camera – or perhaps more importantly: if you’re planning on going to the zoo shortly after going to Fraser Island, don’t take your camera to Fraser Island. It will break due to all that sand. Trust me.

So alas, no photos of the zoo but as you may notice, The Usual Place has some photos from Brisbane on it. That’s because I’ve bought a replacement camera. It’s two models higher than the previous one and cost less – and I get to use the battery from the old one. Winner!

Brisbane itself is pretty nice to be honsest. It’s similar to Melbourne in size and perhaps a little more laid back – with a lot more of a vibrant CBD (Central Business District), full of cafes and bars. It’s also got a lovely area called South Bank, complete with a fake beach, pool (they love their fake beaches and pools in East Coast Oz cities) and a great little Saturday market.

It’s good fun to go out in at night, with plenty of bars with decent prices and good atmospheres – Friday night was, from what I recall, really good:

Friday’s Bar, Brisbane CBD

Eddie, myself, Emily and Alexis enjoying the nightlife. There are plenty more from that evening, starting here.

It would be good to work in I think, which is causing me to think that perhaps I could work here instead of Cairns. We’ll see what happens when Job Hunting begins in earnest in a couple of weeks (eek, is it really getting that close?)…

The one downer in Brisbane is the hostel I’m in. Palace Central Backpackers is its name and it’s one of those big ol’ “several hundred room” hostels. Whilst the place is ok (decent sized rooms, good kitchen, decent rates etc) it seems that it attracts a whole load of drunk studenty backpackers who enjoy talking/shouting at 3am til 4am and also turning lights on in dorms, oblivious to others’ needs (or cries of “Come on guys, shut the f**k up I’m trying to sleep”)… which has meant that the last two nights haven’t been the best sleeps. Nevermind, eh? Only one more night to go and, well, it’s a Sunday so hopefully the bar’s’ll close early tonight…

Oh and before I forget, on Friday Emily and I went to (AOL Time) Warner Brothers Movie World on the Gold Coast. Twas really good fun – and rather empty too, meaning there were many occasions where I walked off a ride, back into the queue and back onto the ride within 2 minutes. Including the mad-ass Nemesis-type ride “Lethal Weapon”. Some of the ride/show highlights were:

  • Batwing Spaceshot – This was a bit like one of those “Terror Tower” style rides, where you’re winched up 50-odd metres then dropped down to the ground, only just stopping before a sudden, splatty demise. Except this one doesn’t winch you up. It bloody LAUNCHES you up. Great fun!
  • Lethal Weapon – Yep, it’s themed on that film from about 15 years ago, but amazingly is also bloody good. Why? Well, it’s like the Nemesis. But even more mental (some of the loops and twists and turns are just crazy… and it’s quite hard to walk straight after going on it…).
  • Shrek 4D – As my mate Dave put it, “So, what, it existed through *time* as well? Big Whoop!”. Fortunately the 4th “dimension” in this amusing 20 minute 3D film is the sense of touch. The chairs wobble about all over the place and there are water/air jets, which fire at you in time with, say, Donkey sneezing at you or some HUGE spiders dangling down IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE (well, that’s how it seems) falling to the floor and rushing around your feet. Very clever and good fun.
  • Wild West Falls – Yep, a run of the mill “log flume” ride, complete with the smaller, indoor drop. Except for the fact that you fall down the latter BACKWARDS. Great fun. And bloody soaking.
  • Superman Escape – More of a traditional rollercoaster, but again rather than being winched up to the top of the first drop, you’re propelled from 0 to 100kmph in 2 seconds, then shot straight up a vertical track before plummetting back down again. Awesome..
  • Police Academy Stunt Show – Just brilliant. From start to finish. Less so because of the fire/driving/explosion/falling-off-building stunts (which in fairness were all great) and more due to the brilliant actors/stunt folk involved. It’s really very, very funny. I won’t spoil the big surprise but there is one that I didn’t expect that had me, for a short moment, thinking “OH SH*T” before laughing at how well I’d been duped. If you go to Movie World, you MUST see this.

There were other cool ones too (the Scooby Doo coaster was surprisingly fun) and, overall, twas a good day out. Not sure how much fun it’d be when packed, mind.

Righty, it’s nearly 3pm, I’ve not had lunch yet and I’ve droned on for about 20 times longer than originally planned… so I’m gonna dash. :-) Hope you have a good day and I’ll speak to you either before or after I fall about like a total idiot for 6 hours or so (i.e. learn to surf) in Byron Bay!

All the best,


Tired and considering buying rocket launcher to deal with any noisy room”mates” tonight…

by Pat
on May 20th, 2007

It’s Only Fair…

…that if I whinge about being treated badly by one Internet company, I should praise another for providing great service.

So here we go: Bytemark Hosting are great! ™

I say this because along with the excellent level of service and customer support, they’ve now massively upgraded all their virtual server specifications. I’ve got a virtual server with them (it runs this ‘ere site, along with some others) and I found it good value BEFORE the upgrade… but now I’m Fully Loving It ™.

Spec Before After
RAM 80MB 150MB
Disk 4GB 10GB
Backup Space 1GB 2GB
Bandwidth (Monthly) 25GB 25GB
Cost (Yearly, Ex VAT) 150GBP 150GBP

Hey, Lamehosts, are you looking at this?

So, if you want to host multiple web sites on one box, or just have the flexibility to install anything you want (e.g. Icecast, WordPress, various databases and languages – hey even a Quake 3 server would work, I’d wager), with great uptime and customer support for a very reasonable price then get on over to Bytemark.

That is all.


Shamelessly Plugging Stuff Since About 5 Minutes Ago.

by Pat
on May 13th, 2007

A Dingo Ate My Baby!

So, I’m at Hervey Bay. It’s a fairly big town on the east coast of Oz, somewhere between Cairns and Brisbane.

I’m bloody tired. Mainly ‘cos myself and a 9 other folk have just been camping, 4-wheel-driving on beaches and generally doing lots of wandering about – without much sleep – for the past three days *.

Yep, I’ve been on a self-drive tour of Fraser Island.

It’s been great fun (despite constantly worrying that we might do something to the vehicle that could incur the myriad of fines the company we got the 4x4s from seemed keen to charge), we’ve walked along beautiful beaches, swam in picturesque blue lakes, splashed around in huge waves and had many close encounters with the island’s residents: Dingos.

Before all this I was in Agnes Water / Town of 1770, just after a nice night bus. It’s a lovely, quiet little place with some bloody cheap activities (kayaking, which I took part in, surfing, airplane tours and scooter tours to name a few) – I’m gutted I was only there for one day. May stop by on my way back up to Cairns!

More details and photos will be on the way (details in Brisbane, photos sooner than that) but until then I’m going to head for a shower – and then a celebratory Pizza Hut Buffet with the gang. We’re celebrating getting back alive and without fines. Get in!

Til then, toodles!


* Also because I swam several hundred metres across Lake Mckenzie (and back) today. Gotta find some way of working off the Goon and tonight’s evening meal ;-)

by Pat
on May 7th, 2007

Hi! I’m In Airlie Beach!

And I’ve just finished a 2 day, 2 night adventure on the 42 foot Powerplay catamaran around the Whitsunday Islands.

Blogs will be on their way in more detail (just when Squage actually gets time to catch up on things… so probably in Brisbane!) but until then here’s a brief summary of my trip:

  • There were a great group of people – both the 4 crew and the 18 passengers
  • I did five scuba dives, which included:
    • Awesome coral, a reef shark, lots of clown fish (“Nemos”)
    • Video of a few of us running in “mid air” without fins on
    • Very “sexy” wetsuits
    • Videos of the same few doing underwater dancing (Macarena, Birdie Song, Stayin’ Alive, Hokey Cokey, YMCA and some Big-Fish-Little-Fish-Cardboard-Box action)
    • Inappropriate photos with Sea Cucumbers
  • We went to Whitehaven Beach. It was gorgeous – and empty when we got there (rather early in the morning). We spent a few hours enjoying the sights, taking group photos and making sculptures in the sand…
  • We sat in a hot tub on the outer deck as the boat sped through the Whitsunday waters
  • We watched Road Trip (“UNLEASH THE FURY!”) and White Squall (“Should we be watching a film about a massive sea storm whilst on a boat?”) on the 50″ projector display in the galley
  • We sat on the deck getting suntanned/burned(delete as appropriate)
  • We did various press ups through failing the Game Of Life (I’ll explain later)
  • We discussed life, the Universe and everything
  • We had plenty of laughs
  • We’re going out tonight for a meal and a few drinks. I’m hoping it won’t be quite as “few” as after my Pro Dive course last week…

Right now I’m in an Airlie Beach Internet cafe, having just spent a few very difficult hours lounging around by the Airlie Beach lagoon (as with good ol’ Cairns, you can swim in the sea but only if you enjoy dieing from jellyfish stings). The room is, uh, swaying a bit at the moment. I swear it takes longer to get used to being on solid land than being on a boat out at sea.

I’m also very tired. That’s what getting up at 6am to be in the water doing a dive around gorgeous coral reefs (just next to the beach where the “Where The Bloody Hell Are Ya?” advert was filmed) will do to you, I guess.

Tomorrow’s going to be a long day. After waking up to check out at 10am, I will then be in Airlie all day and getting the night bus to Agnes Water/Town Of 1770 at 11:50pm – arriving in AW/TO1170 at 9:55am. I really hope I can sleep on the bus.

Right, til the next time, take care and I hope you’re well!



Giddy and tired

…see the difference between them? Of course you do. Can you please teach the Raging Thunder team? Ta.

Yes, despite getting up at 6am and feeling somewhat on the ker-nackered side, my 6:30am pick up to do the (supposedly awesome) Xtreme White Water Rafting didn’t turn up.

In fact, one did. But when that one arrived at 6:35am it just drove past with the driver responding to my wave with a wave of hello on his way.

By about 6:45am, I was beginning to wonder if, perhaps, that bus was, in fact, the one I should’ve got on.

By about 7:10am I was almost certain.

A phone call to Raging Thunder (along with insistance that the driver couldn’t’ve been waiting outside my accomodation for 5 minutes actually, as I’d been there since about 6:20am til 7:15am) later and it turns out that the driver had gone to the Cairns International Hotel. Yep, I’m at the Cairns International Hostel.

Their fault. They admitted they’d written it down wrong. That wasn’t much consolation for me at that time in the morning, but at least it meant I had time to catch up on blo-er, watch Squage catch up on blogs a bit.

Also, as it turns out I’m coming back up this way to work in June, so I’ve now got the ticket open-dated and hence haven’t lost any money. So that’s good.

I just wish I hadn’t got up at 6am to sit on a wall for an hour. Nevermind, eh?

In other news, I’m now booked for my trip down south. It goes like this:

  • 3rd May: Bus to Airlie Beach – leaving at 9am, arriving at 8pm. Ouch!
  • 4th: Soak up sun in Airlie Beach
  • 5th – 7th: Cruise on a the luxurious Powerplay Catamaran around the Whitsunday islands, doing lots of sunbathing, some snorkelling and hopefully some diving… oh and of course lazing in the on board jacuzzi!
  • 8th: Soak up more sun in Airlie, then take the night bus to Agnes Water / Town of 1770
  • 9th: Catch up on sleep during the morning (probably) and then spend the afternoon checking out Agnes Water / Town of 1770
  • 10th: Take the bus to Hervey Bay. Get briefed about the Fraser Island 4×4 Trip
  • 11th – 13th: Take a 4×4 around the sandy roads of Fraser Island, enjoying the gorgeous scenery and having a bit of a giggle
  • 14th: Take the bus to Noosa
  • 15th: Go to the Australia Zoo. Crikey!
  • 16th: Take the bus to Brisbane
  • 17th – 20th: Hang out in Brisbane plus check out the awesome Dream World and Wet N Wild theme parks!
  • 21st: Take the bus to Byron Bay
  • 22nd – 23rd: Learn to surf (read: fall over a lot) with Mojosurf at Byron Bay.
  • 24th: Take the bus to Coffs Harbour
  • 25th: Spend the day enjoying Coffs Harbour. Take the night bus to Sydney
  • 26th – 30th(ish): Hang out in Sydney, checking out places like Manly, Bondai and doing the Bridge Climb (or coming up with lame excuses regarding why I can’t this time either…)

After that it’s TO MELBOURNE, then probably back up here to Cairns via plane to do some work!

So there you have it. My next month in a nutshell. Here’s hoping it all goes to plan!



by Pat
on Apr 30th, 2007

I’m A Certified Diver!


Well THAT was an awesome few days. I’ll go on about it in more depth tomorrow by for now let’s just say this: the weather was lovely, the surface was calm, the underwater visibility was over 30 metres * in some sites.

I saw sea turtles, reef sharks, lots of sea cucumbers, barracudas, nudibranch, clown fish (or “Nemos” as they appear to be called around these parts)… and more.

I also dove to 30 metres and did a night dive… alongside a dive where I took various photos (no idea if they’re any good yet – not checked the CD) and as such I’m now not just a PADI Certified Open Water Diver, but a PADI Certified Adventure Diver too.

This means I can dive independently ** anywhere I want in up to 30 metre depths – which opens a LOT up to me (Open Water gets you 18 metres…).


More tomorrow :-)



Feeling a bit dizzy due to Land Sickness…

Notes for Diver Folk:
* I KNOW!!!
** Well, with a buddy, natch ;-)

by Pat
on Apr 26th, 2007

Diving Is Great!

Just a quick one to say that, after my first day of my 5 day PADI Open Water Diving Course with Pro Dive, I am FULLY looking forward to tomorrow and even more to the three “on a boat on the reef, doing dives amoungst amazing fish, mammals and plants” days starting on Saturday.

Today was half classroom based (the morning) and half practical based (the afternoon), with a medical sandwiched in between. Excitingly, I passed the medical, but alas 2 of the 12 of us didn’t and had to go back to their hostels.

The classroom work involved watching information DVDs, going through the points made in a less cheesy American fashion and doing a couple of multiple choice quizzes. We even got some homework to do (although I’m not sure I’ll be any good at it as, well, it’s been a long time since I’ve had to motivate myself to study in my own time and, as you might know, I wasn’t all that amazing at that whilst at Uni. At least there’s no student radio station here, eh? ;-) ).

The practical part of things involved getting used to the diving gear in the swimming pool and doing such things as “seeing what it’s like when your air runs out”, sharing your buddy’s air / sharing yours with your buddy, descending, ascending and all that.

I wasn’t sure if I’d like it at first but I can safely say that I really enjoy being underwater with all the diving gear on. I guess I’m a bit of a water baby. It would explain my love of swimming underwater… and at least with diving I’ve got a mask on so my eyes don’t feel like they’re about to bleed for five hours after a long swimming pool sesh…

Bring on the reef!!

Right, time to go and get a nice $10 meal and pint at The Woolshed pub. I’m a classy guy.



P.S. More stuff about my time in Darwin, Cairns, Cape Tribulation, plus the full low down on the diving course will hopefully emerge next week.
P.P.S. I’ve got lots of stuff booked for the east coast – I’m now doing “Xtreme” river rafting on the Tully river, sailing (with more diving) around the Whitsundays group of islands, 4×4 driving on Fraser Island, surf lessons in Byron Bay and, of course, some theme parks on the Gold Coast. I might even do the Syndey harbour bridge climb when I get there this time. Wooh!

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