Archive for the 'Australia' Category

by Squage
on May 2nd, 2007

More About Darwin


Long time no speak – it seems Pat’s been hogging this blog space to gush about diving and rant about Fast(to-Charge-You-Fees-But-Rather-Slower-At-Actually-Providing-A-Service)hosts. Thought I’d fill you in on a couple of the bits about Darwin that Pat missed out:

  • Sitting By The Pool
    The Awesome Pool At The Cavenagh HostelPat mentioned this, but what he didn’t mention is that on one of the many times he (and often Liz) were sitting by pools, he couldn’t really see very well and was spending a fair amount of time moaning about painful eyes.

    Yep, despite previously falling for the same trap in a pool in Broome, he figured that the salty pool water meant that it was 100% desalinised and 0% Chlorinated.

    After 30 minutes or so of mucking around underwater, he noticed his vision had gone a little cloudy. Then came the chlorine pain. I have no sympathy, frankly…

  • Sights Of Darwin
    On his first full day in Darwin Pat took an early morning (well, around 9am – that’s bloody early for backpackers when they’re in a city) stroll around the town and coast line. Here are some piccie highlights from his trundle:

    Cairns Town Hall. The old one. As you might guess:

    War Tunnels (closed, alas, but I almost got through the grating!):
    Squage And The War Tunnel

    Pretty Coastline:

    Various War Memorials And Placards:
    What Is It Good For?

  • Darwin Museum And Art Gallery
    After going to see Liz’s travelling companion Melissa in hospital (alas one of her million “Broome Souveniers” (mozzie bites) had got infected so for 3 days of her Darwin trip the sights were somewhat limited to a curtain around her bed, whilst the sounds were limited to the sounds of someone coughing their guts up at the other side of her room), Pat and Liz went to get some culture at the Darwin Museum And Art Gallery.

    Clearly frightened by this concept, Pat ensured that the opportunity to be as childish as possible for as long as possible wasn’t missed and so on the way to the museum insisted that the following photo was taken:
    Pat tells me it’s funny. I don’t get it.

    Anyway, the museum was actually pretty cool (apparently… I was stuck in Pat’s back in a locker at reception. Maybe they were concerned I would be a Squage FULL OF BOMBS…). Pat recommends going there if you get a chance as a) it’s free, b) the stuff about Cyclone Tracy is both compelling and shocking to see and hear, c) it’s free, d) there’s an excellent area surrounding aboriginal history, e) it’s free, f) the area on the history of the planet is really interesting, g) it’s free and h) there’re some cool looking stuffed animals to see:

    Pat’s looking nervous there, but just you wait until you see the Litchfield ones below! (Aww wow, that was like a little radio tease that Pat used to do on SGR Colchester. Maybe I should play some ads here or something? Ok, here goes:

    Come to Cairns Diving School!
    It’s really pretty cool!
    We’ve got a swimming pool!
    We’ll teach you all the rule! (…s of diving)

    Cairns Diving School. A Diving School. In Cairns. YES!
    Come to Cairns Diving School!
    Or you will be a fool!
    Others may pull some wool!(…over your eyes regarding their quality of dive programmes)
    But we’re the only school! (…which teaches diving that is in our opinion of a high enough quality to be of use to you)

    Ok, that’s enough. On with the blog! (I think you need some sleep, mate – Pat))

  • Trips To “The Vic”
    Evening entertainment was had at the main backpacker pub/bar/club “The Vic” a number of times during the week, the most notable being the evening that Raf arrived from his 5 day Kimberlies tour and saw plenty of (i.e. far too much) alcohol consumed by all in attendance.

    Early in the evening, Liz took advantage of the free body painting service:
    Liz Getting Finishing Touches Cool!

    Then Raf took part in a drinking competition:

    He didn’t win. Mind you, it WAS ginger beer. I don’t blame him.

    Then it was onto the usual bout of sobriety:

    Pat was also very excited when, on the night after that above, he WON A HAT in a “guess the intro to a song first” competition. The premise was this: a song intro was played. The first person to run onto the stage and guess the song correctly won a prize. Pat spent the first 3 songs sitting down going “Yep, that’s blah by blah” about 10 seconds before anyone got on stage. On the 4th it was suggested that maybe he should actually get on stage with the next song. He did. He won a hat.

    So, believe it or not, there is a real advantage gained from doing prerecorded radio shows where all you hear is the first few seconds of each song. I think we can all agree it was worth it. I mean, for a start the hat Pat won was a beautiful fit:


  • Litchfield National Park Visit
    Starting with a 6:30am pick up, which Pat was really very happy about having stayed up drinking until about 12:30am, this was a surprisingly good day given how bloody awful Pat felt for at least half of it.

    The morning revolved around Crocodiles, which are abundant in the northern part of the Northern Territory – stopping firstly at the tour headquarters, where a 2 year old croc was in residence. In Pat’s first Mental Act Of The Day, he decided to hold it:
    Smiling With FEAR!
    Apparently it was soft, a bit scaly and rather cool to the touch. And a bit growly…

    Pat’s second Mental Act Of The Day involved saying “Ok” to the invitation of sitting in a small boat, setting out onto a river and watching his tour guide feeling an over-5-metres-long Crocodile called Hannibal The Cannibal (he eats anything, which was comforting news for the people on the boat to hear…) – at rather close range:

    Here He Comes…
    Here He Comes...

    Eyeing Up The Food…
    Eyeing Up The Food...

    Open Wide!
    Open Wide!


    Mental, I tell ya.

    The rest of the Litchfield experience revolved mainly around swimming at, around and under some gorgeous waterfalls and gorgeous water holes:

    And also admiring some of the local wildlife:
    Trying To Look Scary.  Actually Looking Comical. Termite Mounds: Big

    Before finally ending up back in Darwin for a champagne (and prawns, for everyone else) sunset:

So, yeah, a bit more to tell you than Pat had bothered with, eh? Hope that wasn’t too arduous. If so, watch out – I’ve still got Pat’s Cape Tribulation weekender, some Cairns stuff and a whole lot of Diving Bits to go on about!

By the way, if you want to see the Diving Photos, check them out here!

Toodles for now!


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!

by Squage
on Apr 16th, 2007

Margaret River, Albany and Esperance Tour!


It’s been mentioned by a few people (including Pat) that my previous blog about Heading Bush might’ve been a tad no the long side. The words “War”, “And” and “Peace” were uttered. So hopefully this summary of Pat’s 5 day trip to Margaret River, Albany and Esperance will be a little shorter. If for no other reason than this being only 5 days, rather than 10. (In fact, looking through this I think that is the sole reason – Pat)

An Average Day on the Tour

  • Wake up at about 6am
  • Grab a shower (usually required in order to function at all – Pat, as you know, isn’t exactly a morning person)
  • Pack bags
  • Grab some brekkie
  • Check out of the hostel and get in the bus
  • Sing along to G’day G’day (see below)
  • See lots of stuff
  • Grab some typical tour lunch (i.e. some sandwiches)
  • See lots more stuff
  • Sing along to G’day G’day
  • Get to the hostel
  • Make and eat dinner
  • Drink a few beers
  • Get some kip

As you can see, it’s a very hard life this touring lark. And you think that working in an office takes it out of you.


General Highlights

  • A cool group of people and great tour guide (despite her love of “G’day G’day”)
  • Swimming in crystal clear waters
  • Sunbathing on gorgeous beaches
  • Taking in breathtaking views, occasionally from the top of hills and mountains

General Lowlights

  • Walking/climbing up the occasional hill and mountain (Hey, I actually enjoyed that! – Pat) That’s not what it sounded like when you were half way up them… (…true – Pat)
  • G’day G’day. Every day. At least four times. Because Pat made it obvious he didn’t like it, which kinda inspired Emma Jane (our guide) to play it more. (Psst, secretly I think Pat liked the song, given that he’d always sing along to it…)

Daily Diary

Day One (Thursday 22nd March) – Caves, Fudge and Fire Twirling

  • Pat woke up tired after a rather crap sleep (mmm, hostel between two night clubs anyone?)
  • Following trekking down the street to get to the bus in time, Pat was really happy that it turned up 30 minutes late…
  • Once on board, Emma Jane (EJ) explained about the tour and got everyone to write their names on the windows by their seats – it proved to be a really good way to learn everyone’s names. I’m still a fan of the McDonalds-style name badge myself, but that’s just cos I think it’d be funny seeing Pat with one on.
  • EJ played some amusing tunes, such as “Come To Australia (You Might Accidentally Get Killed)”, “Bloke” (an answer to Meredith Brookes’ “Bitch”) and Pat’s Favourite Song In The World ™: “G’day G’day”. It goes a little somethin’ like this:

    G’day G’day
    How ya goin’?
    Whadda ya know?
    Oh strike a light!
    G’day G’day
    Oh how ya go-o-o-in?
    Just say G’day G’day G’day and you’ll be ‘right!

    Apparently it starts to grate after the 30th time…

  • First stop was the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre. Unfortunately one key attraction wasn’t at the shore so this was more the Bunbury Coffe And Croissant Discovery Centre for Pat.
  • Some more driving and it was a traditional “Aussie Tour” lunch (i.e. sandwiches) by a 1.8km jetty:
    Busselton Jetty Postcard Picture

  • Then onto Ngiligi Cave. Some facts about Ngiligi Cave:
    • It’s 37m below ground at its deepest point
    • There’s not much headroom in places
    • There’s a claustrophobia-inducing pipe/tunnel for people to climb in/slide down (Pat did, despite being somewhat nervous due to the lack of light or space)
    • There’s a huge cavern with acoustics so good that one of the Australian Symphony Orchestras has played there!
    • There’s lots of CO2
    • There’re a lot of steps
    • Getting up out of the cave is quite tiring due to the above two items (oh, and what with Pat being an unfit sod)
    • It’s very pretty:

    Cavearama Pat In The Caves
    Cool Lighting

  • Following the cave, a visit to Rivendell winery (owned by a big Lord Of The Rings fan) was had, including some wine tasting and the inevitable post-wine-drinking purchase of a bottle of wine for Pat (it’s the best of strategies, it must be said: get people a bit tipsy so they reckon buying more alcohol is a great idea regardless of the fact that their only storage is a rucksack…)
  • Margaret River was next. Pat was expecting a huge, bustling sea side town. What he found was a long, quiet street with shops on. About half a k from the beach. Funnily, he wasn’t too fussed as:
    • There was a fudge shop (with free samples)
    • There was a sweet shop, run by a lady who was brought up in Romford

    Needless to say, some fudge and sweets (apple bonbons, ho yes!) ended up in Pat’s pockets.

  • Finally we ended up in our hostel accommodation near Pemberton. These were basically a couple of shacks with a few dorm rooms in. Each bed had thin blankets and no room had any heating – but hey, it’s Australia so heating’s not exactly needed!
  • A BBQ meal, few beers and watching of EJ doing fire twirling later and it was off to sleep for Pat:

    Emma Jane Plays With Fire

Day Two (Friday 23rd March) – Trees, Elephants and Bad Singing

  • Hang on, did I say something about Oz being too hot for heaters? Well, I lied. Pat was fur king cold last night and was bloody glad to get in the shower, put a jumper (yes, a jumper!) on and get in the heated bus!
  • First stop of the day was at the Bicentennial Tree in Warren National Park. It’s a rather old tree (not sure how old mind (…sigh… – Pat) and rather high – 73 metres in fact!
    That's As Far As I'm Going, Thanks

    The idea is that you climb the tree via the pegs that spiral the tree, ladder-like. Pat didn’t do it. Why not? Well, Pat’s drawn a diagram to help expliain:
    Tree Climb OF DEATH

    Still, he felt annoyed at himself for not doing it, but wasn’t too cheesed off as, well, in his eyes it justy wasn’t safe (even though a 60-something year old lady managed it without any issues… (Oi, did you do it? – Pat) No, but I’ve got no legs. (Smart arse… – Pat) Ah thank you.

  • An hour of driving later and we’d managed to break the land speed records and end up in the northern hemisphere:
    Blimey!  We Came Quite Far!
    Ah ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. Ahem.

  • Shortly after that , another high-tree based activity was encountered – and this time Pat took part:
  • The Tree Top Walk in the Valley Of The Giants took Pat and the gang high up through the magnificent Tingle forest on some cool walkways:
    Pat On The Tree Top Walk The Tree Top Walk
    Tree Top Walk: High Congratulations!  Now BE CAREFUL!

    Once back on Terra Firma a wander around – and through – the bases of the trees was performed:
    Group Shot! Liz Notices The Camera

  • Some lunch and a stop off at a place that made (average, frankly) honey wine and ice cream later and it was to the Elephant Rocks.
  • Why are these called the Elephant Rocks? It’s down to yet more exciting Australian history, this time courtesy of a man named (you’ll never believe this) Sir James Elephant. He and his crew saved a fleet of British ships during the early colonialisation(?) of Australia, when in 1861 he docked his ship and directed his crew to create an enormous bonfire on top of a set of huge rock cliffs, which they kept alight constantly for almost 4 weeks. This acted as the earliest recorded lighthouse in Australia – and possibly the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Or it could just be because the rocks look a bit like Elephants:
    View From An Elephant ...Can You See Why?

  • Next to these was the picturesque Green Pool, which was set to be the swimming point of the day. Alas as the sky had only just cleared up and started warming up, most people declined from entering the icy waters. Pat decided he’d make up for wimping out on the Bicentennial Tree by leading the way into the water – with Sam, EJ and Liz following suit. It was apparently great fun, with lots of jumping/diving from some rocks, but Pat did mention something about three Adam’s apples afterwards…
  • No wonder it was cold, mind:
    We'd Come *Quite* Far South...

  • Some more pretty sights were seen in the afternoon:
    The Gap:
    The Gap
    The Natural Bridge (which apparently could fall down any day…):
    The Natural Bridge
    Some amazing coastline next to the Natural Bridge:
    Coastline By The Natural Bridge
    Some blow holes (which made a hell of a racket, but only sprayed what looked like steam up through the small cracks):
    The Blowhole!

  • Then it was onto the night’s destination: Albany.
  • After a drive around the town (which took all of about 2 minutes) we checked into Albany Backpackers, which was a great deal better than the previous night’s accommodation as a) there were heaters and b) there were proper sheets. Makes a nice difference, that.
  • A (lame) included curry meal later and the gang went out to the local pub to enjoy some bevvies:
    Evening Drinks!
    Before Hannie, Margie, Sam, Stefan and Pat headed next door to a rather shady looking bar that was providing some high quality musical entertainment. Oh no, wait, it was Karaoke night.
    Alas Drinking Leads To Karaoke

  • Disgustingly (Pat was in a state of shock for quite a while) they didn’t have Love Shack, so Pat, Sam and Stefan ended up doing The Time Warp (despite only Pat knowing how it went) and Pretty Fly… (despite only Pat knowing how it went). The latter was a little difficult as it consisted mainly of shouting at a high pitch. Apparently people loved it though. That’s what Pat said anyway. Personally I imagine the pub was on the empty side by the time he’d finished “singing”…
  • Pat stumbled to bed tipsy at midnight only to be woken by Hannie and Margie jumping onto his bed saying “niiight!” and Sam gifting him a dead mouse named “Mr Bo Jangles”.
  • I’m still convinced that he imagined it.

Day Three (Saturday 24th March) – Hangovers, Knackering Climbs and Great Views

  • What Pat needed this morning was a nice lie in. What Pat got was a 6am rise and a walk up a 750m mountain. I’ve no sympathy for him. Mainly because he knew about this before he started drinking the night before.
  • Nevertheless, Pat and the gang (three of whom (you can probably guess which) were also sporting fine hangovers) were taken to the first stop of the morning at 7am, which was at a viewpoint over Albany at the top of Mount Clarence:
    Sunrise? At Albany?  Yes Please!
    My Fave Albany Sunrise Shot

  • A short drive and an easy walk on a promenade later brought them all to a lovely looking Albany beach (and a jetty, whereupon a woman from Sydney who’d decided to sod work and sit by the beach for 3 months was sitting doing some fishing – Pat was impressed):
    Albany Jetty More Albany Jetty Entertainment

  • Then it was onto the Stirling Ranges for the Kill Or Cure™ hike up Mount Trio; a nice 750m-above-sea level mountain.
  • Amazingly, despite sweating bucketloads and feeling like he was going to die on about 5 occasions up the mountain, Pat was one of the first few to the top of the mountain (taking about half the normal time, apparently!) and by the top his hangover had totally vanished – replaced by a) a great feeling of achievement:
    The First Four Up!

    And b) a sense of awe at the sights:
    Rocky Bit Of Mount Trio Western Australia: Quite Flat

    I also decided to take a breather (hey, sitting in a rucksack can be hard going!) and enjoy the view… and as usual I couldn’t help but attract the ladies:
    Thekla Loving The Squage!

  • Funnily enough the trek down wasn’t so hard (despite lots of loose rocks and uneven steps) and when it came to lunch it was rather wolfed down!
  • For the driving-based afternoon (5 hours straight, with a couple of loo stops) Pat sat in the front passenger seat of the bus and spent the time chatting with EJ about Visas, jobs, hobbies, Australia, home and of course annoying Australian songs to do with traditional Aussie greetings… he enjoyed the chinwag and both were impressed that he didn’t fall into a semi-hungover sleep at any point! They were less impressed at the number of locusts on the journey:
    Locusts: Attracted To Buses

  • It was a little evident that Pat was still a bit worse for wear as he attempted to explain the effect of the clocks going back – and us also not needing to leave until 8am (as we weren’t going to be doing that much driving)… he managed to confuse the people who didn’t know what was happening, the people who previously thought they did know and himself. I’m surprised he didn’t take up a career in teaching…
  • Once in Esperance, it was a quick stop off for some alcohol (Pat almost smashing his strongbow bottles on the floor of the bottle shop (I think it might’ve been fate trying to tell him something)) and then onto the hostel for dinner.
  • Following the night before, the evening was a low-key affair so after some lasagna and chips, Pat and the others just sat around the big dining area (which looked somewhat reminiscent to an old school dining hall) and headed back to the huuge dorm (where just about everyone was sleeping) for some well-needed kippage.

Day Four (Sunday 25th March) – French Impressions, Drip Castles and Sammy The Seal

  • A nice lie in until 7am, or 8am, or 6:15am, or whatever time it was in “New Time” was just the ticket and Pat felt a hell of a lot more awake than the previous day.
  • Today was definitely the best of the tour – not only because we were returning to Esperance in the evening and thus didn’t need to pack anything up, but also because it involved some fun climbing, awesome sights and serious chilling out on beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters.
  • If you’re the jealous sort, I’d stop reading now. In fact, I guess I’d just stop reading until some time in mid September, where this blog will be full of Pat bitching about having no money and being back in cold, rainy Essex (La la la, it’s a long way away, not listening… la la la… – Pat)
  • First stop was at Frenchmans Peak (a mere 262m above sea level). It was a cool looking thing:

    Walking up it was much, much easier than the day before due to a number of factors:

    1. Pat was sober
    2. It was about a third of the height
    3. It was an angled rock surface, without loads of bloody stairs
  • Pat, Sam and Liz lead the way to the top, powering up many of the damned steep areas (Pat’s logic was that it was easier to run up them than walk as you gave yourself more momentum… I guess when you’ve got the, ahem, momentum Pat has, it really makes a difference (Look who’s talking, you big round thing! – Pat) Ooh, bitchy!)
  • Once at the top (15 minutes rather than 40 minutes as guided), some panoramic videos were taken (definitely not accompanied by childish French impressions along the lines of “Haw hee haw, diis ees tres manifique, oui oui oui, baguette”, no) and some tasty shots too:
    View From Frenchman Peak
    The Bus

    Pat was quite pleased to be up there:
    Quite Happy To Have Reached The Top

    Once everyone else was up there, a nice group shot was taken:
    The Western Exposure Team At The Top!

    And on the way down we had a wander in the rather cool cave, which cut all the way through the mountain:
    Pat And The Cave

  • Following a climb down, it was on to the beaches! First one was called Lucky Bay, which looked rather tasty:
    Lucky Bay!

    A nice swim later and after Pat showed people up by using EJ’s “Pois” in an incredibly coordinated fashion (i.e. hitting himself in the face, getting tangled and giving up slightly red-faced), we moved towards Hellfire bay – saying hi to a couple of locals first:
    Friendly Neighbours

    Hellfire Bay was just as pretty as Lucky Bay:
    Hellfire Bay Is Quite Nice

    And featured its own friendly locals:
    Hey Mr Lizard!

  • Whilst dinner was on the go, Sam, Liz and Pat sat on the beach playing with “drip castles” (something Liz’s father had told her about years ago). They’re quite fun, actually, and go something along these lines:
    1. Dig a hole in the sand until you reach the water
    2. Scoop sand from the watery bit and drip it bit by bit on a flat bit of sand by the hole
    3. Repeat until you get a “tower” of dripped sand

    Easy and quite fun. Especially in competitions to see who can build the highest (they get a bit thin and fragile as they get higher…)

  • After some tasty burgers (veggie ones, of course) there was some more swimming and lying in the water thinking “Ah, this is the life”… the proceedings marred a bit when Emily managed to get a fly in her eye, which proceeded to bite/sting her inner eyelid twice before buggering off!! Luckily, despite some swelling, she was ok and it had calmed down by the next morning. Still, bloody scary stuff at the time!
  • After some more swimming, sunbathing and general lazing about, we headed back to Esperance and then out to see a local celebrity – yep, a guy from a local station in Esperance called Graham Torrington (you’ll not have heard of him, he does this love songs show on Today’s Best Mix- Esperance FM). Ok, ok, it’s actually a Seal. Not Seal, but a Seal. Called Sammy:
    He loves the crowds! ARRWW ARRWW ARRWW

  • Later on we went along the Great Ocean Drive, saw some kite surfers:
    Wind Kite Surfer Dude!
    A windfarm by dusk:
    Windfarm At Dusk
    And Twilight Beach – at twilight!:
    Silhouetted Windmill

  • Once back in the hostel it was a tasty rice, pasta and BBQ’d veggies meal and another pretty early night. I think Pat’s getting a bit old.

Day Five (Monday 26th March) – Wave Rock, Dead Dogs and Driving. Lots of Driving

  • Following the nice lie in on Day Four, today was something of a shock to the system. Even if the clocks have just gone back an hour, 5am is still 5am.
  • After falling out of bed and mumbling incoherently for a while, Pat and the gang packed, grabbed brekkie and made their way onto the bus and Liz and Pat took position in the front and next-to-front seats for the day’s journey.
  • Today we needed to travel about 700km. Today was mainly spent in the bus. Still, it went quite quickly and there were a couple of stop offs on the way:
    1. Wave Rock
      It’s amazing what the forces of nature can do to relatively soft rock. They can turn it into odd ball-crater things:
      Big Boulder Fun!
      Or even into huge surf-wave objects:
      Everybody's Goin' Suurrfin!

      Wave Rock was pretty damned impressive to see! And of course, as you can see, Pat couldn’t resist the cheesy tourist photo either…

    2. Dog Cemetery
      One group wrote in EJ’s tour survey form that this was the highlight of their tour. It’s a selection of graves, about 2km from a small town, with dogs in. I think that group might’ve been on something. Either that or EJ had hit them all on the head repeatedly for the rest of the tour and finally tired just before arriving. In other words, it wasn’t that exciting. It was shocking though:
      We couldn’t believe that he’s finally gone…
      Also, there was a chair by one of the graves, which was quite sad to see as you could imagine the dog’s owner sitting on it, staring lovingly at the grave for a long while and wishing that his life-long pal was still around to keep him company. Aside from that touching moment, Pat, Sam and some other folk spent most of the time looking for the best dog names.

    3. Toilets By A Kid’s Play Park
      Not normally a highlight of any day, but this was particularly funny as EJ dragged a few of us onto a three-way see-saw, and then proceeded to have a go on one of the springy toys. This went well at first…
      Emma Jane Manages To Look Quite Dignified On A Kid's Park Thing...
      …then not so well:
      ...Then Fails.
      Pure class.

    4. Finally after just a bit more driving we arrived in Perth – the entire bus being directed to do the actions to “Home Amoungst The Gumtrees” (ask Pat when he gets back) whilst at a set of traffic lights, much to the amusement of many other drivers – and dropped everyone off.
    5. A big set of hugs later and Pat was back on his own (well, aside myself) and checked into good ol’ Globe Backpackers. I think he’s ranted about the cramped, dark, hot conditions already so I won’t go into it again.

All in all, a great trip with some cool people – Liz and her mate Melissa are in fact up with Pat here in Darwin, so that’s pretty cool – and it must be said that despite not even being an Aussie (she’s Oirish born and bred) Emma Jane was easily one of the best tour guides Pat’s had. Despite her love of that bloody song…

Right, Pat’s bugging me to go and do something more fun than be in a net cafe so I’d best be off. Til later… byeeee!


by Pat
on Apr 15th, 2007

My Week In Broome


How’s things? I hope your doing well where ever you are right now (and enjoying the – shock – heat and sunshine in glorious England if you’re there). I’m all good here, which probably won’t surprise you that much :-)

This week has been pretty chilled out, even despite the somewhat hot and humid state out here.

Typical Broome View #1To be fair, the heat and humidity has really aided the chilling out as most of this week I’ve been feeling too lethargic to bother doing anything constructive aside from sitting by pools, sitting on beaches and swimming in pools or the ocean. It’s been such a terrible week. :-)

What’s been pretty cool is that folk from my 9 day tour have been hanging around for much of the week so I’ve always had company to chat to whilst sunning myself or drinking a couple of bevvies of an evening. Alas they’ve all gone now – but Liz and Melissa from my Esperance tour are here still so I’m hanging out with them now! And to think that before I started the Big Adventure I thought I may end up wandering on my own for weeks on end.

The highlight of the week was probably hiring some scooters from the superbly named Broome Broome car/scooter hire place. We did this on Monday and spent all afternoon, evening and the next morning pootling around the place, checking out some tasty beaches and even going for drives along the beach! Fully awesome. Here are the beasts themselves:

Wild Hogs!
Wild Hogs Hit the Beach

Oh yes. There’s at least 50cc between the 4 of them. Still, at a top speed of 65kmph (downhill with a tail wind and no food for a day) they were more than adequate to get around the small town and surrounding roads.

There was a minor mishap when, after trundling along a couple of less, er, tarmac’d roads (i.e. b-u-u-u-u-m-m-m-m-m-p-p-p-p-y-y-y-y-y-y dirt tracks), the mud guard at the front of my scooter came loose and eventually snapped off. Luckily the Broome Broome guys were easy going about it, saying that it was a loose bolt and I shouldn’t have to pay for it. Winner!

The Kimberly KlubAside from that it’s, as I say, mainly been chilling by pools/on beaches… including sitting by a pool in a hostel I wasn’t even staying at (how rude!) ‘cos it was a bit bigger and, well, one of the four of us sitting by it was actually staying there… it’s called the Kimberly Klub by the way. If you’re ever in Broome I recommend staying there as it looked tasty.

I stayed in Cable Beach Backpackers, which was really chilled out and had nice air con’d rooms (you have to request that though!). The only real downer was that it was out of town a bit and the buses aren’t that frequent. Not an issue when you’ve got a Wild Hogs style scooter of course. Oh, speaking of Wild Hogs, check US out at Broome’s open air cinema:

Wild Hogs!
Barney and I looking so cool.

There’s a whole load more photos from my week in Broome at This Here Location.

Right, that’s it then – off to Darwin this afternoon! At some point I’ll kick Squage up the ass to get those blogs about the 5 day and 9 day trips done – there’s lots of cool stuff that happened, so I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait. Probably. :-)

Take care,


What? What do you mean “What did I see at the open-air cinema?”. Oh, er, nothing. I saw nothing.


Not. A.Thing.

Definitely not something that would go against what I’d said in this post. No.

N.B. Cinema is ruined for me forever. I’m not kidding.


by Pat
on Apr 8th, 2007

Happy Easter!


Happy Easter to you! Hope you got lots of eggs / enjoyed mass this morning (delete as appropriate).

Having just finished a wicked 9 day tour of the west coast of Oz (from Perth to Broome) I’m now in an Internet cafe with some of the guys and gals from the tour, checking emails and uploading photos. We really know how to live the dream in a hot, sunny and beautiful place, eh? :-)

Anyways, just a quick one to say I’m alive and well, have done some ace things in the past week (such as snorkeling amongst sharks, manta rays and coral reefs, plus shimmying along rocky ledges five metres above water, abseiling (backwards and forwards…) down cliffs and diving into deep natural pools in the base of impressive gorges) and am definitely looking forward to a week of chilling out on the beach. And in Internet cafes, natch.

Hope all’s well with you. Til’ the inevitable huge blog updates from Squage in a few days – toodles!



Just a quick one (for some reason, despite Squage being the one typing that previous blog entry, I am feeling very unenthusiastic when it comes to writing blogs today) to let you know a couple of things:

  1. Photos from my Esperance Tour are online!
    Browse through them at Their Special Album if you fancy a look. There are some more awesome sunsets, along with lots of nature spotting, views from mountains and, er, our tour guide playing on a kids’ play park ride. Bring it on!

  2. My week in Perth is over :-(
    I’ve been spending a lot of this week in Internet Cafes, but around that I’ve seen Hot Fuzz (excellent (but may need to see it again to judge if it’s better than Shaun)), Wild Hogs (poor), had some awesomely tasty food, swam in the ocean at Fremantle and visited a few pubs (the best by far being the awesome Little Creatures Brewery/Bar/Restaurant in Freo).
    Typically, I’ve just started to enjoy this city and now I’m leaving! (Oh, but I’ve not enjoyed the very-cramped-and-noisy Globe Backpackers. Don’t stay there. It smells of rain and lies (i.e. it’s not good)).

  3. The Maggie River etc Blog will appear soon…
    …Well, in about 11 days anyway. That’s because…

  4. I’m off on my Perth to Broome tour tomorrow!
    Wooh! Looking forward to it a lot – even if it does mean hearing more of that bloody “G’day G’day” song (all will become clear when I blog in Broome)…

Righty, so it’s off to get some dinner and a nice early night (to then be kept up by people in the outdoor hostel communal area until 4am) in preparation for catching the bus at Stupid O’Clock tomorrow morning!

Take care – speak to you soon and have a Very Happy Easter!


Pat :-)

by Squage
on Mar 29th, 2007

Heading Bush

(Warning! This is something of an essay. Squage got a bit carried away with detail, so you’d best make sure you’ve got at least 20 minutes free to have a read of this. I suggest waiting until your boss / supervisor is in a meeting before starting. I mean, er, read it over lunch. No, er, at home. On your own PC. Yes! – Pat)

Er… yes. This is quite a long update. But hey, lots happened on Pat’s 10 Day Tour through the bush and it’s probably the highlight of the trips so far! Below is a list of the folk who were on the trip, a summary of a typical Heading Bush day, and then a daily diary of some of the cool things done and seen.

It’s taken me long enough to write this, so you’d better enjoy it :-)

Here goes then:


  • Hugh – Our driver and tour guide (although he’d hate that term). Very down to Earth – and knows his stuff when it comes to living out in the bush. When not telling us about his experiences and views on life, he’s doing impressions of Tim (but with a bad German accent) and asking “What’s the secret sign for X” – before flapping his arms around a la Team America World Police.
  • James (Charles) – Pat’s fellow Englishman for the trip, but only just – he’s from Carlisle – James definitely enjoyed our European friends taking the mick out of his northern accent. “Fook oof, you lot”…
  • Joel (Brother Joel) – Brother of Martin, Joel’s Swedish and does a hilarious English accent – and very suspect Elvis impressions. He also appears pretty awake in almost all situations. Pat is very jealous.
  • Lesley (MC Hammer) – Heading Bush was the last of Dublin lass Lesley’s time in Australia and she had mixed feelings about going home. Fortunately that didn’t stop her enjoying herself – and from wearing awesome MC Hammer trousers! :-)
  • Liz – From Holland and only 18 (Pat felt like SUCH an old man), Liz is a fan of, amoungst other things, Salad Fingers, which meant that a lot of time was spent by Pat and her saying things such as “I like roosty spoons” and “What’s wrong Mr Fingers?”. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check this out. And then try to forget you ever saw it.
  • Martin (Brother Martin) – Brother of Joel, Martin’s also swedish and also enjoys dodgy Elvis impressions. He’s usually the one who starts water fights :-)
  • Stein (Columbus) – Another wee thing (i.e. he’s 18), Stein’s from Denmark and is a really good laugh – when he’s not wandering out into the outback by himself and scaring the crap out of everyone (including himself), that is ;-)
  • Tim (Tim Fuckoffski) – Tim’s German and very funny. Happy to live up to the stereotype, he’s first to shout “Let’s take off our pants” at just about every opportunity. Also, following Pat and he talking about Fly-based songs for quite sometime, he’s also prone to breaking into versus of “Mr Fly Man” (to the tune of Mr Sandman) at any given occasion.
  • Tom (Sponge Bob) – Short and Scottish, he’s a farmer by trade and so was definitely the most handy person to have around. He knew his stuff. He was also a great laugh and spent many an hour coming up with actions to songs with Pat.
  • Vicki – A lovely lady, from Poland originally but now lives in Melbourne. She was the only over-30 with us but managed to put up with everyone’s nonsense in an incredible way. Down to earth and really good fun.

Oh and Pat’s nick name? Tofu. :-)

Each day generally went along these lines (excluding the getting out and seeing stuff):

Early Morning

  1. Wake up at the crack of Dawn (“What?!?”… *awkward silence as Brent walks away*…)
  2. Bash flies off face
  3. Sing (or listen to Tim singing) “Mr Fly Man”
  4. Stare at the horizon and go “Ooooooh”
  5. Pack up swags and sleeping bags
  6. Take photos of sunrise
  7. Grab some brekkie
  8. Politely decline Tim’s offer that everyone should drop their pants
  9. Wash dishes
  10. Throw swags onto roof of truck (ok, well, it was mainly “watch people throwing swags onto the roof of the truck” for Pat)
  11. Get in truck
  12. Doze off for a bit

During The Day, In The Heading Bush Mobile

  • Sit and read
  • Sing along to songs (such as Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag”)
  • Attempt to play cards whilst going over dirt roads (this was surprisingly successful!)
  • Come up with Lee Evans-style moves to various songs (ok, that was mainly Pat and Spongey)
  • Pretend that Jasper (Hugh’s stuffed toy dog) was singing into a microphone (what? That’s normal, right?)
  • Spray “Air Con” (i.e. bottles of water with spray-tops on) at ourselves to keep cool. This occasionally turns into spraying it at each other (particularly when someone’s asleep). Sometimes this can involve up to 6 people, and it almost always ends up with people laughing, drenched.
  • Stop occasionally to take photos of birds, lizards, camels, donkeys, kangaroos and wallabies.

Early Evening

  1. Pull into camp
  2. Rake the ground to get rid of wood, poo and other such delights
  3. Dump the swags and sleeping bags out
  4. Start preparing food (at least 2 people volunteering each night to be “Team Chop”)
  5. Curse at the bloody flies (and start singing Mr Fly Man)
  6. Play football / frisbee
  7. Have dinner
  8. Wish that the bloody flies would just go away (singing “I want these flies away” to the tune of Lenny Kravitz’s “Fly Away”)
  9. Have some beers
  10. Politely decline Tim’s offer to drop our pants
  11. Chat about life, the universe and everything around the camp fire
  12. Head to bed and stare at the skies

Here comes the big bit :-)

Day 1: Adelaide, Quorn and Flood Plains

  • Pat woke up bloody early (about 5:30am) and got onto the Heading Bush truck in a rather knackered state.
  • His first thoughts were “Oh crap, I thought Billy [Tour Guide from the G.O.R. Trip] was joking about the somewhat cramped seating”:

    Fortunately he got used to it…

  • First stop was the Heading Bush Office HQ (the owner’s house) to sign the usual “I agree that if I jump off a cliff it’s not Heading Bush’s fault” forms. It was at this point that Oliver (one of Pat’s fellow bench-occupiers) realised that he’d got in the wrong vehicle outside his hostel. Oops. Turns out that he should’ve been going on a Great Ocean Road tour – and just after he hopped on the Heading Bush Mobile (the HBM, as it’ll now be known) his bus turned up and buggered off without him.

    We don’t quite know what happened to Oliver, but I imagine he probably spent that night crying himself to sleep on a street corner in Adelaide…

  • After form signing and a much needed cup of tea (or three), Pat and the gang trundled into the HBM and the trip commenced!
  • The first stop was at the edge of the Flinders Ranges (oh, so many things in Oz are named after good ol’ Mr Flinders) on the way to which we saw two cyclists fall over each other (luckily both lived – well, they both sat up anyway), Pat and Tim had the most watery hot chocolate IN THE WORLD from a service station and we passed our first Road Train (a 3 trailer long biiiig lorry). The view from the ranges was a bit like this:
    Flinders Ranges Looking Out To The Ocean
    After a wander about, we made and ate some of what was to be a familiar lunch of sarnies with various fillings – whilst ensuring certain greedy locals (bloody great big Emus) didn’t get their beaks into it…

  • Next stop was a place that apparently tries to be a town but to those who’ve experienced real towns just doesn’t quite manage it:

  • We then set off onto a very large, flat area that was bone dry… yet was showing the tell-tale signs that it was, in fact, a flood plain:
    Floods: Rare But Powerful
    6 weeks beforehand, this 2M sign was a) submerged and b) bent over by the currents.
    Wooden Houses: Not Good Against Floods
    The remains of part of a settlement called the Kanyka Homestead. Proof that wooden houses aren’t much use against floods.

    The massive plain is surrounded by mountains, which under heavy rain throw water down at the plain in rather large amounts. Many parts of the road we travelled on had only just been recreated following being totally destroyed by rushing water 6 weeks earlier. Pat was glad there weren’t any clouds around.

  • Finally we visited a fully awesome swimming pool (whereupon Pat and the gang spent time diving, jumping, throwing balls and making whirlpools by running around in a big circle) and then headed for our campsite…
  • …which was a clearing amongst some trees in the middle of nowhere.
  • The evening was spent around the campfire, looking up at the stars (and my GOD were there a lot of stars to be seen… you could see the milky way all around… twas amazing) and then going out in the field to play frisbee in the dark. Luckily the frisbee had lights in it… which served as an excuse for Hugh to do some long exposure shots:
    Crazy Night Time Lights!
    Day 2: Winipena Pond, Yellow-Footed Rock Wallabies and Oh My Wallah

    • After packing away our swags and grabbing some brekkie, we trundled off in the HBM out of the campsite.
    • Pat spent most of the 45 minutes first leg with his legs crossed due to forgetting a) to go to the loo before he left the camp and b) that he’d been drinking a shed load of water to prevent dehydration. Being driven around over bumpy dirt roads is NOT good for a stressed out bladder, he informs me.
    • On arriving at Winipena Pond (Pat making an emergency detour to the bog block), the gang set off on a leisurely walk to check out some of the views. They were pretty nice:
      Pat At Winipena Pond
      More Pat.  More Winipeda Pond.
      The whole place looks like a massive volcanic crater, but apparently it’s not. Geologists say it’s just a mountain range that’s in an odd bowl shape for one reason or another. Mind you, judging by the way Aussie geologists work, they’ll probably decide in 5 years that it actually is a volcano… or a former glacier… or perhaps Atlantis.

    • Then it was on to Razorback Outlook:
      Pat Looking Sharp

    • And then to have a look for some of the rare Yellow-Footed Rock Wallabies (in a Top Secret Location ™ of Hugh’s, which I’m not allowed to share (and wouldn’t be able to anyway other than saying “Er… it’s in the Flinders Ranges somewhere”)). See if you can actually spot one in the “amazing” shot Pat managed to get:
      Spot The Rock Wallaby!
      Hint: it’s in the photo (Wow, Squage, you’re such a help! – Pat) Yeah well I’m stuffed if I can find it! (Heh heh, good one – Pat) Huh? (Stuffed… plush toy… get it? – Pat) … Idiot.

    • Then it was onto Brochina Gorge, which Pat remembers nothing about and forgot to take any photos of. I like to think it looked something like this:

    • On making our way out of the ranges, we realised just how flat the outback can be…
      Extreme Hitch Hiking

    • It was then a quick stop off in Leigh Creek for some booze and food, a quick snap at a big ol’ Windmill:
      …and onto the Iga Warta Aboriginal Centre, where we’d camp for the night.

    • Following a refreshing swim in the centre’s pool, the evening was mainly spent sitting on a log around a big camp fire being told stories about the Iga Warta Aboriginal people and their “Dream time” fabel/moral story things. Oh and then all being made to sing a song called “My Wallah”, along with doing some actions. Here’s the chorus:

      # Ohh my wallah!
      # It’s rumbling it’s tumbling!
      # Ohh my wallah!
      # It’s rumbling like a big bass drum.
      # Doo doo do-doo do… doo doo!

      Frankly, it all felt a bit too touristy for Pat and he was glad to get back to the Heading Bush gang’s own camp fire for the latter stage of the evening.

    • Alas, the “My Wallah” song became stuck in just about everyone’s head and so was sung on multiple occasions for the rest of the trip. Altogether now: “Ohh my wallah…”

    Day three: Talc Alf, Hot Springs and A Big Lake Of Salt

    • Pat woke up to yet another pleasant sunrise, and after packing the swags away we all piled on an Iga Warta-run bus (with an actual seat each – Pat felt like royalty!) and headed for the Ochre pits.
    • What are Ochre pits? Why, they’re pits with Ochre in!
    • What is Ochre? A type of rock, rather chalky in texture and coming in various colours. Used by Aborigines as paint – often applied to the face to aid spiritual healing… or some such thing (Wow, you are so enlightened – Pat) Hey less cheek! I’m not the one who ended up looking like this:
      Painted Pat

    • After getting painted up (and thus having all their sins removed, apparently), they went back to camp and headed off in the luxury of hte HBM (who needs legspace anyway?), grabbed supplies at Leigh Creek and arrived at Talf Alf’s Place.
    • What is Talc Alf’s Place? Why, it’s the place where Tal(-Stop that! – Pat) Sorry.
    • Talc Alf’s Place is a shack in the desert owned by a guy called Alf, who has a load of cool sculptures, which he allows people to come and see at their leisure:
      Talc Alf Sculptures A Kangaroo... Er... Bumming A Kangaroo
      Talc Alf writes a letter to John Howard (Aussie PM) each week telling him that he’s an idiot. He also has some strong views regarding Australia’s independence from Britiain. Pat was quietly glad that Alf was out delivering mail to Leigh Creek that day.

    • From there we visited a small placed called Maree (complete with a disused station from the Old Ghan Railway) then headed into the outback.
    • A swim stop in a small lake close to some hot springs was well-recieved by the (rather warm) Heading Bushers, despite the ground being rather, er, slimey (5 inches of sludge anyone?). Alas in going for a walk to see just how hot the water from the hot springs was (note: it was bloody hot), Pat forgot to put his sandles on. Luckily he didn’t haveto walk through 100m of sharp gravel to get there. Oh, wait…
    • Then we went through the Dog Fence:
      The Dog Fence
      Dog Fence Gang!

    • Last stop was at an area with lots of sculptures created as a protest to a nuclear waste dump being created in the outback:
      Tin Man! Pat And A Tin Man!

    • Finally the HBM went off-road down a secret track of Hugh’s (he even stopped the HBM and raked over the entrance of the track once we’d entered!) and to his Top Secret Campsite ™ next to Lake Eyre South.
    • What is Lake Eyre South? Why, it’s… the… south bit of… ok, ok, it’s a big “lake” of salt, part of the massive Lake Eyre Basin and looks like this:
      Lake Eyre South: A Massive 'Lake' Of Salt

    • Pat and the gang went walking over it (careful not to jump or run too fast as doing so would’ve broken the salt sheet and landed them knee deep in stinking black sludge) – and whilst I was physically locked in the trailer, I was on the lake in spirit:
      Lake Eyre Squage
      Oh yeah, about that “careffu not to jump” thing:
      Lake Eyre Loonies!
      Amazingly the salt sheet stayed intact…

    • Another evening of camp fire bevvies, chats and staring up at the sky later, the Heading Bushers grabbed their swags and went to bed.

    Day 4: William Creek, Meeting The Flintstones and Stein The Adventurer

    • After the usual wakeup call in the shape of a six legged buzzing bastard on his face, Pat climbed out of his swag, camera in hand and got ready to take lots of shots. This is why:
      Packing Swags By Sunrise Sunrise At Lake Eyre South
      Sunrise Over A Lake Eyre South Dune

    • First stop of the day was William Creek; a selection of houses and a pub, promoted as having a population of 2 but having closer to a metropolis-beating 7. Either way, it has a bar, which is pretty quirky looking:
      Y.C.W.C.Y.A.G.C.F.T.R.F.D.S Stop - William Creek Time!
      Go on, I dare you, ask me what it means…

    • One bottle of Stronbow later, Pat went back to the HBM with the gang and headed to Cooper Pedy.
    • On arriving at Cooper Pedy, Pat couldn’t help but hum the theme to a certain cartoon series… Cooper Pedy’s an Opal mining town, where people dig lots of tunnels in search of the precious stone. They seemingly got addicted to tunneling; Cooper Pedy houses are underground, with caverns for rooms:
      The Modern Stonage Family
      Riding With The Family Down The Street
      Pat really enjoyed the tour of the house, along with viewing some of the extracted Opal and hearing about the history of the Opal mining there. He enjoyed it so much, you might say he had a Yabba Dabba Doo time. But I wouldn’t recommend it.

    • Some lunch and a (much needed) shower later, Pat et al rode with the HBM down the street… to the Australian Fly Capital, otherwise known as the massive Mount Barry Cattle Station.
    • A short stop at the Mount Barry farmer’s house to deliver a “thanks for letting us camp in the middle of one of your fields” present (beers, of course) and we were at the campsite.
    • Dinner was an entertaining experience, with most attempts at eating involving constant waving of a horde of flies away from each fork full of food. Still, it didn’t dampen spirits:
      Campfire Laughs At Sunset
      …and the rather awesome sunset helped things:
      Sunset At Mount Barry Station
      Sunset At Mount Barry Station

    • Spirits were dampened somewhat after sunset when someone asked “Er, where’s Stein?” and everyone realised that the last time they’d seen him was going walking towards a windmill a good couple of k’s away.
    • Luckily after Hugh went searching for him in the HBM, he was found – but only through using his camera flash to alert Hugh of his presence (good thinking!). He’d managed to get several k’s away from the camp AND windmill and was just settling down to sleep it out in the bush when Hugh arrived. Needless to say he was quite shaken and we were all bloody glad to see him!
    • A celebratory beer or two later and it was to bed for us all. Well, almost all. A couple of “us” were a bit more interested in “getting to know eachother” by the fire:
      # Let's Get It Ooonn...

    Day 5: Driving, Driving and Driving. And Pink.

    • On Wednesday night, Hugh gave the crew a choice: stick to the normal route or do loads of driving on Day 5 to give us a day spare for use later.
    • No prizes for guessing the choice taken: today was spent on the road.
    • Ok, so there were some stops along the way, such as the Pink Roadhouse in Oodnatta, which was, uh, a bit pink:
      The Pink Roadhouse!
      Luckily, no childish “Pink = Camp” or “Pink = Gay” associations were made:
      Tim Looking Manly In His Pink TShirt Fortunately No Pink = Gay Childishness Occurred
      Ahem. We managed to get 30 minutes for a swim in the free pool around the back (there was lots of fun and sunshine – there was enough for everyone!), then grabbed some pink souveniers and continued on.

    • Today was a tearful goodbye to South Australia and a cheery hello to the Northern Territory (and a turning back of watches 1 hour – NT doesn’t have daylight savings for some reason…):
      Northern Territory Welcome Group

    • Pat was impressed by the quality of the jointly funded SA/NT visitor facilities – obviously with their powers combined the visitor centre’d be pretty stunning, eh?
      That must’ve cost a BOMB. Before you scoff, bare in mind that there was another one on the NT side! Yeah! Now that’s impressive.

    • After that it was more driving and into the proper red sand of the Red Centre:
      Squage On The Red Road

    • In the evening we made camp in the middle of nowhere (as usual) and amoungst the normal chinwagging and beverage consuming, seats were lined up in a row so that the amazing thunderstorm on the horizon could be watched:
      Lightning Storm!
      This picture’s ace (taken by Hugh on his camera), but Pat informs me that it doesn’t do justice to the feeling of being in a massive, silent, open set of fields, watching a raging storm pass in the night, breaking the silence occasionally with deep, distant rumbles. Apparently you’ve got to experience it to believe it, according to Pat.

    • One minor problem with storms in the outback is when they decide to trundle over you whilst you’re sleeping in a swag. Needless to say Pat was VERY pleased when a 1am storm JUST missed camp (despite it sounding like the thunder was directly above the camp a couple of times)…

    Day 6: Dumb Cows, The Rock and Tourists

    • After the usual morning routine, it was “To The HBM!” and back along the long, straight (if occasionally very bumpy) red dirty roads – stopping occasionally for Cows, who inexplicably see cars storming towards them and have the following thoughts:
      <Cow> “Hmm, what’s that coming towards me?”
      [Car continues coming towards Cow]
      <Cow> “Ah, is it a friend?”
      [Car still coming towards Cow]
      <Cow> “Hmm, no, looks dangerous. Maybe it I stand here it’ll go away”
      [Car STILL coming]
      <Cow> “Oh dear! I’d best run out of the way.”
      [Cow runs ACROSS THE PATH of the oncoming car, which luckily has stopped by this point…]

    • First stop was Curtain Creek (a selection of houses with a shop that had walls covered in printouts of such internet forwards classics as “10 reasons why dogs are better than men”), then it was back on the tour to Tourist Land: The Ayres Rock Resort.
    • Pat could tell that they’d entered a more touristy area before even arriving at the resort: firstly, there were other cars on the road! Secondly, drivers didn’t wave back when you waved to them.
    • the resort itself consisted of some hotels, a supermarket and petrol station, and a camping area, the latter of which we stayed at.
    • After some lunch at our alloted camping area (complete with running water, sinks and a power supply!) we got in the HBM and headed for the big lump of stone!
    • It was quite an impressive sight:
      Pat, Squage And Some Rock-Or-Other
      Uluru Is Quite Tall James, Pat, Squage, Tim And A Rock

    • We went for a walk around the base, Pat perfectly happy really annoyed that the walk to the top was closed due to high winds:
      The Walk To The Top

    • I enjoyed most of the wander, despite the pounding heat and a rather painful fall during a photo of Pat and Tim:
      Posing - And An In-Flight Squage!
      A quite well timed shot, it must be said!

    • It was noted that, despite the rules stating that you weren’t allowed to wander off the path (when, say, nature called), plus one of the walks being a couple of hours long and there being signs recommending drinking at least a litre of water an hour, there were no toilets whatsoever at Uluru itself. Genius…
    • Next was back to the resort for a quick swim (ensuring that no diving, jumping, running, loud noises or fun was had in accordance with the pool rules), a shower and then back out to the rocky thing to view it by sunset…
    • …some good views were had…
      Uluru By Sunset

    • …along with a few beers…
      Checking Out The Sunset.  And Some Beers.
      …which definitely didn’t go to anyone’s heads…
      We Weren't Drunk On The Way Back From Uluru
      A Very Sober Stein And Liz
      These were taken either during “Jump Around” by House Of Pain or “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus. Pat can’t quite remember for some reason…
      …I think they’d forgotten about the impending 5am rise to view the big pebble at sunrise. They certainly remembered the next morning.

    Day 7: Stone, Olgas and a Thorny Devil

    • 5am arrived and after a whole lot of grumbling and moaning, all the swags were packed and it was back into the HBM to see the greatly enlarged grain of sand once more (This is getting a bit silly, Squage – Pat) Ok, ok… to see the Mutitjulu Arkose; one of many sedimentary formations filling the Amadeus Basin, with almost vertical strata, which dip to the southwest at 85° and have an exposed thickness of at least 2400 m. (…idiot – Pat)
    • Arriving at the viewing area before sunrise, we allowed ourselves a quick snooze:
      Early Mornings: Not Compatible With Most People

    • And then the sun rose. Behind clouds. Pat wasn’t too thrilled:
      Boo!  No Sun!

    • But wait! Just as they were about to give up and leave, the smallest of holes appeared in the cloud and… voila:
      The Sun Pokes Out Of The Clouds!

    • Pat was a bit happier:
      Yay!  There Was Sun!

    • The funny thing was that, due to the relative lack of sun, the gang sitting on the HBM’s roof become something of a tourist attraction, with a least 20 photos being taken of them by various others.
    • Next stop was at The Olgas for a walk through a part of them known as the Valley Of The Winds… and Valley Of Great Signage:
      Hot Weather?  Bring Cameras
      Warning! Cameras occur in hot weather!
      Fence?  What Fence?
      Which fence is this, exactly?

    • After a hefty set of rocky stairs and some steep scrambles up steep stone surfaces, the team reached the highest point in the VotW and realised why it was named so by nearly getting blown over…
      Pat And The Valley Of The Winds

    • Pat was very glad that the weather wasn;’t as hot as the day before. He would probably still be in the Olgas now if it was….
    • A final visit to The Pool Of Rules (and lots of rebellious jumping, diving and mucking around) later and it was off to camp!
    • Shortly before arriving they stumbled across a rather cool looking dude, called a Thorny Devil:
      Thorny Devil!
      Cool, huh?

    • Camp (back in the good ol’ middle of nowhere) was arrived at by 5pm, which allowed lots of time for frisbee throwing / catching (or in Pat’s case; “running after following not quite catching it properly…), footy playing and, of course, beverage consumption.
    • A chilled out night by the fire later and Pat was snuggled up in his swag looking up at the stars…

    Day 8: Being Tired. Oh and Kings Canyon.

    • Today the early rise of the previous day really caught up with Pat. He was largely not quite with it all day – which I don’t personally see as anything new (Ah ha. Ah ha ha ha. Ha. – Pat) – and for some reason that might affect my memory of the day. How peculiar…
    • The major event of the day was a three hour walk around the amazing King’s Canyon, which was pretty tough in places, either due to climbs:
      Known As The Heart Attack Hill
      Heart Attack Hill
      Or heights:
      Danger Danger!  High Cliffage! Look Out!  Cliff!
      Brave Or Stupid?
      Still, despite Pat really not liking the “Lean over a sheer cliff edge” bit, he was glad he’d been there – for the views if nothing else:
      Pat Considers Jumping In.
      Biiig Cliff
      Oh and of course, more great signage:
      They Really Could've Worded This More Carefully
      And for being able to quench his thirst for some Vernon Kay and Sara Cox:
      Oh yes, and the mucking around on rocks:
      Cow Girl Liz Everybody's Goin' Surrffiiiin

    • After the walk, a shower was in order – but wait! The Kings Canyon resort had a pool! Hooray!
    • Lots of good (not from Pat), not so good (some from Pat) and hilariously bad (mostly from Pat) attempts at forward and back flips into the pool later and it was onto the campsite for the night.
    • Where was the camp? Well, Pat says I’m not allowed to say. But what I can tell you is that it involved 4 wheel drive, lots of sand tracks and crossing a dried river.
    • The campsite itself was nice, with soft sand underfoot and a nice location in the woods, by the (dried) river.
    • After soom food Pat crashed out early (rather knackered), but spent a good couple of hours chortling to himself at the occasional commotion around the fire courtesy of Tim and James – neither big fans of insects – as they had stick insects and crickets jump/thrown onto them.
    • Pat would’ve called them big girls had he not been a big wuss with heights earlier in the day. I don’t have that problem: all three of you are big girls’ blouses. (Oi! You… ok, fine. – Pat) Ha!

    Day 9: getting Bogged, Building Roads and Naked Swimming

    • Fortunately for Pat (and all those who were trying and failing to get any sense out of him the day before) he woke up feeling much more alive today. Which was lucky, as it turned out to be quite a tiring morning…
    • After some seriously fun 4 wheel driving up and down various rocky and sandy rises, Hugh got everyone out of the HBM so that he could attempt a particularly steep bit with a lighter load. It… er… didn’t work.
    • The next hour was spent digging…
      Digging The Truck Out...
      …building an escape road…
      Road Building
      …throwing everything out of the trailer and finally a successful escape! Quite fun for Pat, despite the tiring nature of digging and lugging about wood and rocks under the mid morning heat of the sunny outback.

    • Hugh gave everyone a reward shortly after this in the shape of a swim in The World’s Oldest River ™ – complete with a big mud slinging fight using the boggy mulchy on the river bed. Lots of fun, but they all smelt of boggy mud afterwards.
    • After some more driving and a bit of “road” buillding to get through some rateher iffy looking sections, the HBM finally ended up on some tarmac and into the dog-rich Aboriginal village of Hermansburg for some fuel and ice cream.
    • Last stop was our campsite – not quite in the middle of nowhere (hey, you could just about see the light frmo a distant tourist resort at Glenhelen!) but remote enough for us all to enjoy some drinking games, dancing games and dancing around the campfire to some fine cheesy tunes courtesy of the HBM’s stereo (including everyone’s favourite – the Numa Numa song! Don’t know it? Good on you, your life is much richer than mine or Pat’s):
      Campfire Party Action!

    • Oh and there was naked swimming too from some of the more tipsy folk (thankfully this didn’t include Pat). Quite a final night of camping!

    Day 10: Ghost Gums, Flooded Roads and Alice Springs

    • The final camp-based wakeup was marked with another lovely sunrise and bit of swimming:
      Beautiful Skies Early Morning Swim
      Then we made our way to Ormiston Gorge for the Ghost Gum Walk.

    • Sadly Lesley had a 12 O’Clock flight from Alice Springs, so we all said our fond farewells to her as she and Hugh headed Alice-bound (Lesley preparing for a the day-long flight back to Dublin in a day’s time… Ouch!)
    • The rest of the gang were left to their own devices at the Gorge, but didn’t sit on their asses (for too long, anyway) – or even “Drop their pants” as Tim might’ve suggested. Instead they went on the Ghost Gum Walk…
      Ormiston Gorge Trekkers!
      …enjoying some swimming, diving and flipping in the picturesque water hole…
      Swimming Time!
      …and grabbing some lunch. And a lolly from the little shop in Pat’s case. He had a “Golden Gaytime” (a chocolate/biscuit/ice cream lolly thing), whcih the enlightened shop owned looked at and said (in a sarcy voice): “Ah yes, a Golden Gaytime. Gold ol’ Gaytime. mr Golden Gay”. Pat considered suggested that, actually, the word “gay” was being used to mean “happy”, but instead just laughed nervously and slowly stepped away…

    • A bit of thunder and a sprinkle of rain later, Hugh arrived looking relieved. Turns out there had been a massive rainstorm that had followed him most of the way back from Alice.
    • Alas, the aforementioned storm meant that our route back was slightly hampered by the road becoming a river:
      Typical, A Bit Of Rain And It's Like The Roads Are Underwater
      Of course, Pat and the gang simply saw this as an excuse for some photos:
      Standing In The Road River
      Luckily the rain held off from then and the road river was passable after about 20 minutes or so.

    • An hour later we were in Alice Springs and checked into our various hostels
    • In the evening the gang all went out for a nice meal, raising a toast to Hugh (who had, frankly, been fantastic) and then moving onto a pub to have more drinks and dance to cheesy music. Pat tells me it was a fantastic night… this is the only evidence of the evening:
      Last Night Together: Sober
      So I guess he wasn’t lying.

      Wow. That’s it. We did it! That’s the end! The epilogue, if there’s any space left on the Internet to include it, is that Pat then got up at 7am, a bit pissed, stumbled onto an airport bus and managed to make it to Perth by plane.

      That’s it from me – now a note from the Scullion:

      Seriously, this tour is just amazing. If you come to Australia, do it. Yes, it’s expensive, but the experience is like nothing else. I’ve not felt so chilled out and happy for a long time. Perhaps it’s because of the people I was with, perhaps it’s because of our driver/guide, or perhaps there’s just something about being in the middle of nowhere, with no human influence, that really gives you time to think about thinks and get some perspective on life. Whatever it is, I’m so happy I did it as it’s helped me a great deal towards working out what I want in life. Amazing what 10 days can do, eh?



by Squage
on Mar 27th, 2007

Heading Bush Photos Online!

Something for you to view whilst bored at work at home, not on the payroll.

There are 254 of them, so I recommend browsing them from the Heading Bush Photo Set Page, rather than The Usual Place.

This has been a long day. Blogging tomorrow, hopefully!



by Pat
on Mar 27th, 2007

Free Lunch?

Here’s a text message I just recieved from my Aussie mobile phone operator Optus:

“To get a free ringtone, call 966 and select 9 after the greeting. Call costs 30c/30secs, download charges apply, expires 30/04/07.”

Now I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound entirely free to me.


P.S. Hello! I’m back in Perth after a 5 day tour to Albany, Margaret River, Esperance and other places. It was ace! I’m off on the Broome tour on Saturday (not today as originally intended) so have 4 days here to relax and see the sights *

* And spend about 10 hours blogging, photo uploading, catching up on emails and booking stuff…

by Pat
on Mar 21st, 2007

Heading Bush ROCKS!


Just a very quick post to say that Heading Bush ROCKS. You might’ve guessed that with the blog title, to be fair.

I’ve just got into Perth (following an early morning that I could’ve done without given the farewell drinks the HB team had last night) and now need to get to do a number of chores before I head off on *another* tour tomorrow morning… which I need to sort out too as it appears the 3 day one’s not available (well it is, but I’m the only one booked on it) and they want me to book on the 5 day one… with the possibility of coming off it early via a long coach journey. But that’s no guarantee. Huzzah!

So no real time to blog or upload photos but, as you would expect, there’re lots to come. I’ll be posting stuff in 4 or 6 days’ time, depending on what happens with the above.

Til then hope all is well and I’ll speak to you soon!




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