Archive for the 'Australia' Category

by Squage
on Jun 21st, 2007

Agnes Water / Town Of 1770!

Pat spent the whole day in the quiet, pleasant coastal town feeling ker-nackered, through having hungover for the entirely of the previous day and then getting next to no sleep on the night bus down to Agnes Water / Town Of 1770.

Still, it was a pleasantly warm, sunny day with a gentle breeze, which coupled with the hammocks at the lovely hostel he was staying, definitely aided Pat’s tired body and mind.

What may have counteracted that was the kayaking trip Pat had booked himself on to in the late afternoon. Personally, I think the best thing for someone who should really be going to sleep is a full on work out in the ocean. No, honestly.


Still, he did it – and is apparently glad he did too!

The trip went along the shore of 1770, out into the ocean a little and across to a picturesque bay, whereupon Pat and the rest of the people on the trip walked to a view point, walked back down, grabbed some champagne * and biscuits whilst watching the sun set and kayaked back.

Pat ending up sharing a kayak with the instructor dude, who happened to be a recent winner of Lifeguard of the Year in Queenstown, so Pat felt rather safe – and without the need to work too hard. Oh and the “gang” mentioned? They consisted of 2 retirees from Melbourne. It wasn’t a fast-paced or busy trip :-)

On the whole, Pat found it rather tiring but it was definitely worth doing – a) because it was only $30 and b) because of the views:
Attempted 'Arty Kayak In The Sun Shot' There Be A Storm Comin', Yarr!
Sunset At 1770 Sunset Through Tree!

That’s about all he did in Agnes Water, but if you ever end up near there be sure to give it a visit. Pat was only there a day but if he’d’ve stayed longer he’d’ve taken advantage of the $15 two hour surf lessons, $30 scooter/chopper tour of the area or $60 aerobatic flight!

That’s your lot for now… Pat’s complaining about aching eyes or something…

Toodles and take care,


* That’s what it was advertised as, at least. When the box of goon came out, Pat had to resist an obvious, loud laugh but, well, wasn’t going to turn it down…

by Squage
on Jun 21st, 2007

Whitsundays Sailing Trip!

# A Long, long time ago
# I can still remember
# How tha-(Yes, yes, so yet again this is a catch up session, ok, I’m lazy, I get it. Move on… – Pat)


Hello again! Squage here, reporting from rainy Cairns on this fairly dull Thursday afternoon to fill you in on some more East Coast action wot was had recently(ish).

Airlie Beach JettyBack on the 5th of May, the day after Pat had arrived in Airlie Beach, he made his way along the town’s small high street, up by the lagoon (past the usual tanned beautiful people, including a couple of European ladies who were (stereotypically) somewhat lacking in the “clothes above the waist” department – which Pat hated to see, I’m sure (It was torture. I was nearly late… – Pat)) and along to the marina, beside which the catamaran was docked under the blue skies and golden sun.

He was very much looking forward to his 2 day, 2 night trip on board Powerplay with the other 17 passengers, who were hanging around in the briefing area next to the catamaran.

Having said hellos to everyone and discussed with amusement the level to which the indemnity forms basically tore any rights you had away (to summarise these forms: “If anyone who works for or on behalf of Powerplay f**ks up and hurts or kills you due to their own stupidity, you agree that you’ve got bugger all right to sue them. Oh and if you don’t sign this you’re not getting on board. And no you can’t have your money back.”), the captain came out to brief us. He seemed like a good fella (as he, in fact, was), so that got everyone back into the mood to enjoy themselves whilst not thinking about the lack of monetary protection they had for the trip (Hooray for insurance! – Pat)

It's A Tough Life...Things got better when we were on board and heading out to sea, as Pat and the gang were introduced to the projector in the galley for DVD watching and underwater photo/video viewing (also finding out that a whole DVD chock full of pics and vids from our trip would be available for about $25AUD), then wandered up on deck to discover a) some rope nets at the bow, which you could lie on and get splashed by the upcoming water and b) a hot tub. Yes, a hot tub. On the bow of the catamaran. This was going to be good.

(Squage, wasn’t this blog entry going to feature “More Photos And Less Text” than the last one? – Pat)

Ok, ok, I’ll stop the waffle and tell you instead about the highlights of the trip – including some rather lovely (and amusing) photos:


  • Group Shot!The People – Both the fellow travelers and the crew. Pat felt extremely lucky to have landed on his feet with a great bunch of people. They really made the trip, in Pat’s mind, and he’s kept in contact with a fair few of them since and hopes to meet up with them in future (he’s already got a few beers planned with Ben and Rachel (already back in the UK) in July).
  • The Boat – As a catamaran, it’s smooth through the water (although on the first night the seas did get quite choppy, causing cases of almost-over-the-port-chucking from a couple of people (although, alas, not Pat (I would’ve enjoyed the mick taking opportunity :-) ))). Mmm, nested parentheses. The hot tub on deck as well really added the icing on the cake…
  • The Sights – I’ll mention a few of the key ones below, but let’s just say the Whitsundays are bloody beautiful and the reef around them teeming with life and amazing looking coral bommies.
  • The Weather – Aside from rain on the morning of the last day, it was pretty much consitently sunny and gorgeous!

Day 1

  • Chilling Out On PowerplayIntroductions game – Straight from a training course manual, this involved you having to say a word that describes you (and alliterates with your name) then your name – after having said the description and name of everyone who’d already introduced themselves before you. Pat was last in line, having to remember 17 other descriptions and names, hence it was easy for him to choose “Perplexed Pat”. Other classics were:
    • Ravishing Rachel
    • Jubilant Jade
    • Rambunctuous Ryan (yes, I know!)
    • Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Samuel. He was the guy before Pat in the game – and was the only name he didn’t remember…
  • Dive 1: Luncheon Bay – Despite the somewhat poor visibility (5 metres), there was lots to sea (eh, eh? (Killl me… – Pat)) such as Nemos and Parrot Fish. Pat just enjoyed being back in the water again, and the freedom of being able to do as he pleased without supervision. Some of the photos from that dive (captured on Christian(the Dive Leader)’s underwater camera:
    Cool Looking Reef (Cauliflower I Think)Arty Silouhetted Shot

  • It's A Tough LifeWarming Up After The Dive – Sitting in the hot tub following the dive as Powerplay sped through the water towards the night’s mooring area, watching the sun go down and feeling the occasional wave splashing Pat refreshingly in his face as the rest of him was kept toasty and warm was, well, not bad to be honest.
  • Introduction of the Game Of Life – A nasty game whereupon if anyone says “mine” they have to do 10 press ups / sit ups. If they refuse? They have to do 20. If they refuse? The Vegemite fines start coming out. It’s an evil game as, when you’re as stupid and forgetful as Pat is you can easily get tricked. Ben: Hey whose is that watch? Pat: Mine. Ben: Whose? Pat: Mine. Ben: *grin* Pat: Oh, b*ll*cks… etc. (Oh and for anyone from Vobble: I lose. Gah. – Pat)
  • Watching Road Trip in the evening – A highlight? Really? Yes, given that Pat hadn’t seen it for a LONG time and that there were a whole crowd of us watching and laughing along to it. UNLEASH THE FURY!

Day 2

  • Early Morning Views – Due to needing to get to Whitehaven Beach before all the tourists, Pat and the gang were up and about before sunrise… which Pat was actually quite glad about given the views:
    Beautiful Early Morning Skies At The Whitsundays

  • Whitehaven Beach – Going here was both awe inspiring and hilarious. Awe inspiring due to views such as this:
    Whitehaven BeachWhitehaven Beach

    And hilarious due to Christian getting us to pose for such photos as Fish Impressions:
    No, Pat, We Said FISH, Not Pob..
    “Jump!” photos:
    Jumping For Joy
    Girls Jump!
    The Human Pyramid and Many Headed Lady:
    Human Pyramid! Wow!  She's Got Tens Of Heads!
    Tiny People on a can:
    Sexy “Looking Out To Sea” Shot:

    Noone needs to see that. I’m so sorry. (What are you saying? – Pat) Oh, nothing, whitearse. (Shut it! At least I’ve GOT one… – Pat) Oooh bitchy!

    Whilst Pat wasn’t joining in with silly photos, he was being artistic / a loner / strange and making a big sand sculpture:
    And finally, following Ben saying mine…
    …it was time to clear off…
    The Crew Again!

  • Dive 2: Manta Ray Bay – Upon arriving at Manta Ray bay, the Pat and the other divers got into their sexy diving attire once more and headed for the depths. For some reason during this dive, Christian decided to film various people and, of course, no silly dances or stupid “upside down” diving moves were performed at all. No:
    Brad Mid-Dance
    Which Way's Up?
    Trust me, when Pat gets back you’re gonna have to get him to show you some of the videos… they’re quite entertaining. Oh and of course, some very mature photos were posed for:
    Lovely Hat
    Nothing Immature Going On Here

  • Dive 3: Manta Ray Bay – Less silliness on this dive occurred (Pat for one was a bit tired anyway through having claimed his watch as his (using the “m” word) just before going off the boat… in full diving gear. Some cool sights were seen… good ol’ Nemo made an appearance along with some Bat fish and a huuuge great coral wall (about 10 metres high).
  • Another Taxing EveningHot Tub with Nachos – Not only were Brad, Nick and Pat feeling like kings watching the world go by from the on-deck hot tub, but then Jen (a fellow traveler from Scotland who’s working on Powerplay as chef) brought out some Nachos for them to have. Brad, Nick and Pat love Jen.
  • Dive 4: Maureen’s Cove – This dive saw only Christian, Brad, Nick and Pat heading into the water – via the James Bond style (i.e. backwards of a dingy). Pat’s decided it’s his favourite way to enter the water, as it’s just a bit more exciting than walking in or forward rolling in. Alas, the lack of silliness of dive 3 fell to the wayside in place of even more crazy dancing and stupidity… and videos of all three fools “running on the spot” in the middle of the water without fins on – all stored in AVI format thanks to Christian (as I say, speak to Pat when he gets back) – alongside some more “interesting” poses:
    Perfectly Mature Yum!
    Inbetween posing, dancing and being unable to move with fins off, some cool “swim throughs” were investigated, lots of bat fish, parrot fish and such were seen – including a shark hiding under a bommie! An awesome dive, and Pat’s favourite by far.

  • Watching the Day’s Photos and Videos – This happened on day 1 too, but today it was really funny. A combination of the comedy photos and videos from Whitehaven Beach alongside the silly diving photos – and “amazing” underwater dancing – gave everyone a really good laugh.
  • Watching White Squall – An odd, yet good film about some boat or other and a bit ol’ deadly wave hitting it and… well… I won’t spoiler it (THEY ALL DIE IN THE END (they don’t (or do they? (maybe… (or maybe not… (Do shut up – Pat) Sorry)))))). Sensible to watch on a boat? Maybe not, but we enjoyed it.

Day 3

  • Moody Morning SkiesWaking Up To Rain In The Face – Ok, not really a “highlight”, but Pat was rather shocked to be woken by the sensation of cold water dripping on his face from the open window above him. Luckily the rain didn’t last long, but it sure as heck woke Pat up. Not very often that happens – even less often when that happens without something being very wrong with your tent or house…
  • Look!  It's An Turtle!Dive 5: Diving Before Sunrise – After waking up at 6 to the rain, Pat and some other brave divers decided to go for a final dive on the trip so were in their sexy diving gear by 6:20am and walking off the back of Powerplay by 6:30am. Following the humour of yesterday’s dives, this was more of a calm affair, allowing Pat and the others to appreciate the lovely coral, the sun rising through the water and the early morning routines of the locals…
  • Where the Bloody Hell Are Ya? – Pointed out to everyone once the diving was finished, it turns out that the island and beach Powerplay was moored by was that used in the “Where the Bloody Hell Are Ya?” Aussie tourist ad a year or so back. That fit model in the bikini? She was here:
    ...The Bloody...

  • Sunbathing on the way back – As this was only a 2 day, 2 night trip that meant that it finished at 11am on day 3… so some sunbathing was done by all (once the clouds had cleared) on the way back. Quite a short day, but a good one.

And by no means the last time Pat was going to see the gang from Powerplay:

Post Trip “Debrief”
Yep, as with the Pro Dive dive training trip (and every trip before that), the inevitable “debriefing” session down the local was attended by most of the folk from the trip. Once again, Pat seems to have a little bit of a blank in his memory from this night – probably due to these factors:
Christian Gets A Couple Of Small Drinks This Is Around About Where It All Went Wrong...

Fortunately (or “fortunately”) in Pat and the others’ case, his camera didn’t suffer from such memory outages:
Special And Pob Jade And Pat In A Rowing Competition
WHO AARE YA? Perfectly Sober Table Dancing
Normal Definite Soberness From Jade

Needless to say, Pat’s Tuesday morning wasn’t one of his best (What he means to say is – I felt like dying. Oh, and I had to stay up til 11pm to get the night bus down to Agnes Water – Pat). He’s a very forward-thinking boy, our Pat…

So there you go! Some piccies from Agnes Water next up… then the hilarity-coupled-with-anger-and-fear that was Pat’s trip to Fraser Island!



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

Yes, despite my previous attempt at going white water rafting going up the swannie due to the rafting company’s silly Hotel/Hostel muck up, the attempt this time was no better.

This time it wasn’t their fault. It was mine.

Somewhere between not being able to sleep last night (I think the excitement of going home and thus thinking about all the people to catch up with / things to do / places to go meant that my mind just couldn’t shut down – the last I remember it was gone 2am) and my alarm waking me up at 6am (for a 6:40am pickup), my subconsiousness decided that stopping my alarm, rather than snoozing it, was the best plan.

At least, that’s what I assume. I woke up at 9am none the wiser. Damn it.

Still, luckily I’d only lost the deposit on the trip – plus I managed to get my flights sorted to get back home (the lack of flight availability may have meant that doing it tomorrow would’ve been even harder to find dates any time soon), so I’m not too cheesed off. It’s a pain though, as that would’ve been fun.

Ho hum, worse things have happened at sea. Plus it’s rainy and a bit on the cool side today so it’d’ve probably have sucked. That’s what I’m going to keep telling myself, anyway.

I’m such an idiot :-)


Dime Bar
Pat “Dime Bar” Scullion

by Squage
on Jun 20th, 2007

Learn To Fly Dive

# A long, long time ago,
# I can still remember,
# How that Scullion used to learn to Dive…

Yep, it was ages ago now, but when he was last in Cairns, Pat learned to dive. He even got a certification, allowing him to dive pretty much anywhere in the world without supervision.

Because he’s been banging on since that time about how bloody great diving is, I figured it’d be a nice idea to give you an idea how Pat’s 5 Day PADI Open Water Diver course went, in case you’re intruiged by what goes on.

So here goes:

Days 1 and 2
These were based at Pro Dive Cairns’ training centre and involved half theory and half practical (in the training centre’s 3 metre deep swimming pool) – along with a medical examination.

  • Theory
    As with many other skills you’ve got to understand the principles, “do”s, “don’t”s and important safety information prior to getting out there and diving. After all, you don’t want to jump in at the deep end! (Oh dear, this is going to be a tough read isn’t it? – Pat)

    This section was made up of three core parts:

    1. A large part of section involved watching “educational” PADI training videos. These came wiht not-at-all irritating cheesy American voiceovers – and some cut scenes starring a goofy bloke showing us, by example, what not to do – with HILARIOUS results. Pat remembers even vaguely smiling once, although that might’ve been due to the background music sounding like something some Carlin’s CHILDREN / COMEDY / SHORTS CD (Levin, check out that link as it’s the “Liono is a clown” tune!!!11one – Pat).
    2. Reviews of the video and a “question and answer” session (this was by far the most useful part)
    3. End-of-module “multiple choice” tests – and one final, wholey more complex… “multiple choice” test. It reminded Pat somewhat of the GCSE General Studies exam, except that he actually gave a damn about the PADI exam. That said, he probably did as much revision for each – and I’m sure you can guess how much that was *.

    Excitingly, Pat managed to ace all the end-of-module tests and only screw up on one of the 50 questions in the final exam. Apparently he was in shell shock for a while, as the idea of doing well in an exam was something that had been long since forgotten…

    * That’s right: 3 solid years of revision.

  • Practical
    This was by far the more interesting part of the first two days, whereupon Pat and the other 10 or so people in his group eased (or forced, in Pat’s case) themselves into their wetsuits, attached their air tanks to their BCDs (Boyancy Control Devices (a jacket, which you can inflate/deflate as required in order to… you guessed it… control your boyancy!)), plonked their masks and fins on and walked into the training centre swimming pool.

    This was the section Pat was feeling a little nervous about, as it would show him and everyone else whether a) he was actually learning anything he’d been told or b) he would panic as soon as he went underwater. Luckily for him, it turned out that a) yes and b) no. In fact, he took to being underwater with his breathing equipment, BCD et al on like a fish to water (or whatever the phrase is).

    The instructors show by example various techniques that you need to learn, and then each of the team follow suit. What do you learn to do? Well, in your buddy pairs (key point: when diving, you ALWAYS dive with someone else (your “buddy”)), you do the following:

    • Signal for help / to go up / that you’re ok / that you’re low on air / out of air / that there’s a fupping big shark next to you etc
    • Clear your mask
    • Remove your mask and replace it
    • Remove your regulator (breathing bit wot you put in your mouth) and put your buddy’s reserve regulator in
    • Head towards the surface with/without a regulator in
    • Gain “neutral boyancy” – whereupon you can control whether you move up or down in the water purely with your lungs… it’s quite cool!
    • Various other things!

    Above the water you learn to do things like carrying your buddy towards your boat (if they’re too knackered to move themselves) and also not to wave to say “hi!” (waving means “ARGH I’M IN TROUBLE!”).

    The weirdest thing for Pat in this section was going so deep (4 metres) that you HAD to “equalise” (pop your ears by holding your nose and blowing hard) to prevent the water pressure “knackering up” your ears. He also had trouble grasping the fact that a “thumbs up” meant “I/we need to go up” – not “wicked cool”, “skill” or “rad” (I think that’s what the cool kids say nowadays, right?) Two weeks after this course, on a separate diving trip Pat was STILL occasionally responding to someone showing him a cool sea creature by giving a two-thumbs up – followed by a shake of head, and a few “ok” signs instead. He’s a fast learner, our Scullion.

Days 3, 4 and 5
My Diving Buddy And Roommate!These were spent out on the gorgeous barrier reef on board Scubapro, one of three Pro Dive boats fully kitted out for diving entertainment. There were about 30 on board (including people who were training for their Dive Master certification, Advanced certification and the Open Water certification peeps) and each buddy pair had their own, rather roomy cabin. Pat’s diving buddy Sebastian is seen to the right enjoying their spacious cabin. The photo’s taken from the corridor in order to be able to see that much of him.

Boat In The WaterEssentially, all that was done in the ocean was the same as in the swimming pool – just at between 12 and 18 metres below the surface surrounded by an amazing, colourful alien world teeming with life. Visibility was probably as good as you’d get a swimming pool, too – up to 35 metres at some points! The water, as you can see to the right, was quite pleasant…

On each dive various tasks were performed, a different selection on each dive, and at the end of each dive the tasks were ticked off on each person’s PADI Open Water Diver checklist.

Trying To Smile...
Still doing the thumbs up even on day 5…

One of the strange things Pat noticed was that being on the surface tended to be a lot more unnatural and unnerving than underwater. Mainly, it’s due to the contrast of above and below the surface:


  • Waves bobbing you up and down
  • Boat noise, wave/splash noise, people shouting stuff at eachother
  • Water splashing in your face
  • Water droplets on your mask impeding vision
  • Very limited idea of what’s under you
  • A lack of movement due to a fully inflated BCD (you kinda have to lean back and just float there like a wetsuit covered log)


  • You can see around clearly (visibility allowing that is – which on Pat’s training was at a minimum 15 metres and a maximum over 30 metres!)
  • There’s a real sense of calm and tranquility all around
  • You can move about freely… it feels a little like flying.

Not hard to see why Pat preferred things underwater. He also found that there was an odd sensation of unease whenever he went to descend underwater. Despite breathing through the regulator above the surface, whilst deflating his BCD and beginning to sink he had a strange feeling that he might drown. I guess it’s because, more often than not, you don’t have an oxygen regulator stuck in your gob and as such if you’re slowly sinking in some water you probably are about to cop it. Once underwater though, as soon as he took his first breath he was perfectly at ease.

I guess that might be the part where a lot of people panic. That and when they’re diving in shark infested water.

Group Shot!Pat had a good group of people to dive with. Sebastian (Pat’s German buddy) had an excellent dry sense of humour. Paul (from Colchester, no less!) was a top bloke, doing his Dive Master training and really easy to get along with (and discuss the delights of such things as Dukes Genesis nightclub in Chelmsford). Gemma (from Ooop Nooorth) was a top lass, really funny and shared Pat’s sense of humour (poor girl). Gav (from Scotland) was a very funny fella. There were lots of other cool peeps and everyone got on really well.

Instructor-wise there was Oscar, a Kiwi ex-rugby player who was very knowledgable but rather on the strict side. Then Kay, a Chinese… well, a Chinese mad bloke, with a limited grasp of English but an excellent sense of humour (for example, after any “attention please people” announcement in the galley from one of the crew, he’d follow it up by adding his own formal-sounding announcement which was often along the lines of “Oscar likes to wear lady underwear”… well, I think you had to be there to appreciate it). Finally there was Katie, who’s English and in Pat’s words “fit as” (I, er, meant she didn’t get tired quickly – Pat) Oh aye? (No, no not like… oh forget it – Pat) and really helpful to everyone.

Evenings were a quiet affair on the boat, mainly because everyone was FULLY KNACKERED from their days of diving, so most people were in bed by 9pm (including Pat)… ready to be woken up at 6am for more diving action.

Because Pat, Sebastian and Ian wanted to get their “Adventure Diver” certification, which would allow them to be able to perform night dives and deep dives (up to 40m), they had to partake in both of these during the trip.

The night dive was very strange as aside from the torches of the diving group it was totally, utterly dark. Possibly more peaceful than daytime diving, although signalling was a lot harder (as you had to shine your torch at another person / into their beam to attract attention, then point it towards yourself in order to then make the signal you wanted – which, to add more fun to the equation, was often a different signal to that made on daytime dives).

The 30 metre deep dive was a very strange experience. There’s a phenomena known as Nitrogen Narcosis, which (according to Wikipedia) is “a reversible alteration in consciousness producing a state similar to alcohol intoxication in scuba divers at depth”. This occurs any time after about 25 metres and can cause people to do such clever things as take their regulators out and think that having 20bar left in their oxygen tank is fine to last them the next 10 minutes.

Oscar took us down to the sea floor at 30m (well, 29.7m according to Pat’s dive computer) and gave us some puzzles and memory tasks to do (I won’t spoil these just in case you end up doing them at some point). Pat actually found them easy to do… so was convinced he actually wasn’t “Narc’d”. That was until a fish started swimming towards Pat, which Pat for some reason found really funny looking. To the extent he started giggling like an idiot. To this day he can’t quite explain why it was so funny, so I guess he was feeling the effects :-)

Pat’s last dive (in order to get his Adventure Diver status) could’ve been from many skill categories and he chose underwater photography. Here’re some of the things he managed to snap:
Coral And Fish Which Way Up?
Romford Stadium Angry Nemo!
Can Anyone Think Of A Good Clam Pun? Silouhetted Scuba Scullion!
My Buddy!

Apparently it’s very hard to stay totally still, even at neutral boyancy because currents move you horizontally. That’s his excuse anyway.

Post Diving Party
As is customary for any trip / training course, a post-trip drinking session had to be partaken. Pat’s been fairly useless as a source of information for what exactly happened that evening, but apparently it involved Jager bombs, snake bites, shots and some other horrible sounding concoctions… and lots of laughing. And rather “sober” looking photos:
Apparently, Gemma Didn't Expect The Shot At This Exact Point Good God, Will Someone PLEASE Drink Some Alcohol?
Stop Pretending, We Know That's Just Ribena! Hey Look!  A Sober Photo!

So there ya go – it’s about 2 months late, but it’s (hopefully) better late than never! Next up? Pat’s Whitsundays sailing trip. Don’t worry, there’ll be more photos and less text (a bit like More Music And Less Chat, but in Blog form. Without adverts. Or Dave Kelly telling you there’s More Music And Less Chat every 3 seconds)!

Til then… toodles!


by Pat
on Jun 20th, 2007

Leaving On A Jet Plane!

A lot sooner than originally planned.

Yep, I’m heading back to the UK – a lot sooner than the 15th of September. In fact, I’m going to be back in Blighty on the 2nd of July.

How come so soon? Well, as you know my original intention was to work here in Australia for a few months to end my trip, then head on over to Thailand for a couple of weeks.

Well, the work thing, I realised, was not actually really something I wanted to do. I had hoped it might’ve been, as, well, it was the only way I could realistically stay here til September without getting into a Dire Financial Situation ™, but I realised a couple of things on finally getting back up to Cairns with the intention of working:

  • I don’t actually want to work out here. Ok, that sounds lazy, but here me out: firstly I don’t want to get a “proper” job in IT because, well, it’ll be just like working at home – but with a hostel to come back to rather than a flat/home – and, well, what’s the point in that? Secondly, getting a job in a bar or hostel or whatever seems like, well, it doesn’t seem like a good use of my time. The whole idea doesn’t really excite me, to be honest.
  • I’ve satisified my traveling urge now. Not in a “I’m fed up with it” way, but more in such a way that I’ve got what I wanted out of this experience. I’ve seen some amazing places, done some amazing things, met so many great people and had a bloody excellent time. But you know what? I’m ready to come back home.

Thailand-wise, well to be honest I’ve not really been that fussed with seeing it, and so for that and various other (money included) reasons I’m just gonna head home – perhaps to see Thailand on a trip to Asia in future.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pissed off or anything – far from it. In fact, I’m really quite excited about getting home and getting on with some of the projects I’m keen to have a go at before they either a) make money or b) the remainder of my savings die out and I have to get a “proper job” :-) I also can’t wait to see all my mates and my family… plus I’ll be back for the joy of the English summer. And we all know how uniformly sunny and hot that is. Actually, forget that last point.

So, yes, in summary: I’m coming home soon. The 2nd of July, in fact. I was hoping to back on the 30th of June or 1st of July, but as I found out today in the Quantas offices – it’s peak season for getting through Asia. Seems I’m quite lucky to be getting back around then at all. If “lucky” is the right word to describe 24 hours of travel…

Looking forward to seeing you back at home :-D



P.S. Yes, yes, I’ll get those East Coast blogs written up in my remaining week here in Oz – which will be Cairns til Saturday, then Sydney til the next Sunday – possibly with Canberra stuck in the middle as it’s only $15 each way to get there from Sydney… :-)

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 Squage
on May 20th, 2007

Cape Tribulation Trip!


Wow it’s been a while since Pat let me get behind a keyboard, hasn’t it? Well, it’s about time to sort that out… and how! (I am a secret American, it’s true)

Starting with the two days up at Cape Tribulation that Pat and co. went on about 3 weeks ago.

So Who Went?
There were 5 in total, excluding yours truly of course:

The same dude Pat travelled up the west coast with, spent time in Broome with and managed to watch Norbit and feel dirty, used and miserable just as Pat did. Nuff said, really.

He of “That Trip Up The Centre Of Australia With Pat In A 4wd Landcruiser” fame, James had been in Cairns for several weeks, chilling out, sunbathing and drinking (that’s pretty much all that you can do in Cairns from what I gather…). He fancied a bit of a change, I think :-)

Also a former 4wd-up-the-red-centre team member, Liz had been working in Alice Springs for a while before heading up to Cairns shortly before Pat had arrived. She and James were travelling together for a bit and have just finished hitch hiking all the way from Cairns to Sydney. Mental!

A friend of Liz’s (who she met on her travels), and also a Dutchie. Danni’s a hairdresser by trade (giving James a free trim whilst in Cairns) and enjoys spending her time attempting to break open coconuts (at least, that’s what we can gather from the amount of time she sat on one beach attempting to smash one open (with little success))

Some annoying Essex bloke, whose only saving grace is that he carries with him a thing of such importance and excellence that his many flaws can be (just about) ignored. (Oh really? I don’t recall carrying a Nintendo DS around with me… – Pat) No, I mean me you idio… ah right. Sarcasm. Clever.

And Where Is Cape Tribulation?
It’s as described on this map below:

(Oh, that’s *perfect* – Pat) What? (Oh, nothing at all… – Pat)

How Did They Get There And Back?
In this beast:
The Beast!

Oh yes. A Nissan Somethingorother (Pat informs me, with his usual great knowledge of car makes and models), automatic (as all the hire cars Pat’s experienced have been) Power Machine! Unless you’re going up steep hills, in which case it’s more of a “Please Don’t Start Going Backwards” Machine…

Raf and Pat shared driving duties (Pat on the way there, Raf on the way back) and the journey itself was pretty lovely… through some gorgeous scenery between Cairns and Cape Tribulation, on a car ferry across a river, around mountains on very tight bends teetering above looonnnng drops into the jungle and also past some more Quality Australian Signage ™:

What Were The Highlights?

  • Swimming At Mossman Gorge
    First stop was at the gorge for a swim – with some “bloody cold” fresh water and a really strong current – which gave Pat and the gang hours (perhaps this is an exaggeration) of fun!

    Perhaps the funniest moment of this for me was watching (from the sand banks) Pat attempt to haul himself up onto a rock in the middle of the river… and fail… and fail again… then fall into the river… swim back… almost get on the rock and slip off again… and again… and again… before he finally noticed that the rock he was trying to climb onto was much shallower on the side he wasn’t trying to climb. Funnily enough, he made it up fairly easily then (well, after a couple of failed “half flopped onto rock, half still in the water with nothing to grip onto” attempts). What a genius.

  • Admiring The Views At Wonga Beach
    After Mossman the gang fancied checking out a beach… and so pulled in at Wonga. And were “fairly” impressed with the “acceptable” beach they found:
    Not Bad

    Pretty reasonable, I guess.

  • Alexandra Range
    Both driving through this (amoungst the aforementioned windy and slightly-life-threatening-if-you’re-not-careful roads) and stopping at the Alexandra Range Lookout were impressive:

    Unfortunately it seems Raf and Pat may have experienced a minor “Husband and Wife” style navigator and driver relationship by this point:

  • Cape Tribulation Forest Walk
    Once checked in to the pretty damned cool PK’s Hostel Pat and the gang set off on a rainforest walk close by. On the walk they enjoyed the wonderful scents of the local flowers…

    …had a close encounter with a “real”, “dangerous” “snake”…

    …and treated the rainforest with respect.

    (Hey, I’m not the only one who was doing that, boyo: – Pat)

    Yeah but I weigh about 150g and you way abou-(OkOkPointProven! – Pat)

  • Drawing On The Beach
    In a highly mature fashion, natch:

  • Having A Hectic Morning
    Following a night in PK’s bar, the team decided to get up nice and early and make the most of the day by setting off in the car so that they could see… all… the… things… …or not:

    Yep, swimming around in the PK’s pool was pretty much the order of the morning. Not really a bad thing, to be fair!

  • Baywatch!
    Once down to Port Douglass, Danni gave her sunnies to James, then Raf, and for some reason at that point the idea of filming some Baywatch style running seemed like a brilliant idea. Unfortunately (well…) these scenes were filmed on Danni’s camera and as such I don’t have them to show you, however if you can imagine the following you should get the idea:

    • Danni filming
    • James running in slow motion, with Danni’s shades on
    • Pat wailing “Derderderderder… derderderderder… IIII’LLL BE READY! (I’LL BE REAAADY)…” behind the camera
    • Some comedy falling
    • Lots of laughing

    There was also a bit involving Pat running along as “Hasslehoff” and falling over whilst taking his T-Shirt off, but I won’t traumatise you any further with that.

  • Oh And Some “Cape Tribulation” Thing
    Almost forgot! We went to Cape Tribulation:
    Coast Through Some Trees!
    Cape Trib Lookout?  Yes Please!
    Looking Out From Cape Tribulation
    The Gang At Cape Trib!

Following that it was back to Cairns, whereupon we all went our separate ways – though Pat and Raf rounded off the trip with a visit to the Woolshed for some cheap-as meals (Pat still can’t quite get over the $10 meal-and-a-pint deal).

All in all, an entertaining and laid back couple of days. But don’t get too jealous – my next blog entry will be surrounding a time that was significantly less laid back (albeit only because it involved training to be an Open Water SCUBA Diver…), so that should even things out. Ahem.

Toodles for now!


P.S. Were There Any Dubious And/Or Odd Photos?
Funny you should ask that:
She’s being a Jellyfish. It’s a perfectly normal photo to take. Definitely.

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!



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