Archive for June, 2007

…and by all accounts it’s been good fun. Here’s a quick run down of some of the highlights:

  • Good flight from Cairns: Twas really smooth and went rather quickly through spending most of it chatting to a woman sitting next to me about all sorts – and watching Wild Hogs (she’d seen it on other Quantas flights 3 times already, much to both of our amusement when our flight’s film was announced).
  • Saturday evening drinks with Jonny (the Irish fella from Western Exposure) and his mates: Due to not having drunk any alcohol for almost a week, I was a little tipsy rather quickly, but that didn’t stop me enjoying “the Craic” until late on Sunday evening
  • Sunday lunchtime Chinese food with Sam (from Sydney) and his friends: We went to Chinatown into a place called Dim Sum, which served, in fact, Dim Sum – a tapas-style Chinese meal. I enjoyed the often delicious and always rather different tastes of such things as shown below:
    Dim Sum!

    Whilst I was chatting with Sam’s mates and struggling to get to grips with my chop sticks, Sam tucked into some rather, er, interesting delicacies:
    Sam Enjoying A Delicious... Chicken Foot.  Mmm.
    I was also rather excited to find that, having just been chatting about where Sam should go in London when he visits next year, we stumbled across a place I’d only just recommended:

  • Sunday evening drinks with Kate (who I’d met in Cairns ages ago): being the classy travelers that we were, this evening started by going down to the offy, grabbing a 4 litre box of “goon” (shit, shit wine) for just over $10AUD and necking some from a sprite bottle as we walked to the pub. The goon was also used to, er, “spice up” drinks in the pub:
    Kate Enjoying Some Delicious... Goon. Nice.
    Despite early intentions, this evening was quite a short one for me as I started to feel a bit ill (probably the goon, methinks) so called it quits at about 9pm, which was a shame… but meant I was feeling good and awake for the next day:

  • Monday afternoon visit to Taronga Zoo with Sam and Co.: A nice ferry ride across the harbour took us to Taronga Zoo and despite nearly passing out when asked to pay over $30AUD each to get in, we got into the cable car (oh yes) for the ride to the zoo entrance:

    I was really surprised by the size of the zoo, actually. I’d expected it to be rather on the small side, mais non! It was rather sizeable, with various shows throughout the day. Alas we were there late on so only got to see the bird show, but that was rather impressive – especially given that this dude flew around the audience for a while:
    Big Bird
    After seeing that we wandered around checking out the animals, as you do in a zoo where, say, the purpose of visiting is to, say, see animals… but of course spent some time being very normal and mature too:

    Yes, there certainly was some “monkeying around”… I swore the zookeepers were going to go “ape” at one point. Ahem:
    Group Shot!

  • Monday evening in Manly: Again with Sam and the crew, we spent the evening relaxing in Manly, enjoying some wood fired pizza and then some awesomely rich and evil chocolate in Max Benner (he was rather accommodating, given how many of us there were. Aha. Ha ha. Ha. Ahem).
  • Tuesday evening drinks with Kate + her mates Dave and Paul: Similar to Monday, but without the leaving early… and with less goon… alas with some rather drunk dancing in Scruffy Murphy’s bar towards the end… and the feeling that Thursday wasn’t going to be a great deal of fun.
  • Wednesday morning trip to Canberra: Oooh how glad I was to have been drinking lots the night before. Oh, no, wait… the 3 hour Greyhound bus journey to Canberra, devoid as it was of any films was rather a) dull and b) “touch and go”. Not in the sense of late-90s cheesy requesting-a-night-of-sex based dance song “Would You?”, but more in the “trying not to be sick” sense. Luckily I managed to hold it down… just. Getting to Canberra made it all worth it though, what with the slightly basildon-esque town centre and great sights like this to enjoy:
    I mean, what. The. Hell?

  • Wednesday afternoon walk up Mount Ainslie: I’d decided the best way to get myself feeling better was to walk the hangover out of me. So after checking into the (really rather tasty) Canberra YHA, I walked up the 200 metre climb of Mount Ainslie to check out the views:

    And say hi to the locals:

  • Wednesday evening Cinema visit: To Transformers? Shrek 3? Pirates 3? Nope, I went to an alternative cinema (although I’d assumed it was mainstream til I’d got there and thought I’d accidentally been in a beer-induced coma for a year, missing all the films I’d heard of) to watch the (excellent) German film The Lives Of Others. I recommend a watch of it, if you can ever get hold of it.
  • Thursday trip to Parliament House: This was a highlight from Canberra, what with it being rather damned impressive. I wont bore you with the details, but let’s just say it’s a cool looking building, built into an existing hill, with loads of impressive artwork around it (donated by various nations), a “roof top” lawn with views of the city… and impressive looking senate house/house of reps rooms:
    Scullion In The Great Hall! Arthur Boyd Painting The Great Hall Tapestry's Based On
    Big Flag Pole(s) Parliament House Foyer
    Senate House
    Some great history to be told about it, which is why I’m glad I went on a (free) guided tour. I would relay the information to you but, well, I’d just bore you and (no doubt) have forgotten the facts already :-)

  • Thursday afternoon walk… and being soaked by the spray of a MASSIVE JET OF WATER: If you go to Canberra and see the following sight:

    Do not, under any circumstances, think it’ll be fine to walk along the path that is in the path of that massive water jet’s “steam”. It is NOT like walking through drizzle, or even a shower. It is like having half of your body dunked in a bath:

    I also visited the war memorial, which was pretty impressive:

  • Friday souvenir buying: Not really a highlight as, well, I’m a bloke and, well, it’s shopping, but I did see some rather amusing sights:
    A squeezy stress relief can. Check out the description:

    Some, er, Kangaroo hands and, er, ball bags:

    It’s a strange world we live in.

  • Friday drinks with James (from Heading Bush): Following a Pizza Hut all-you-can-eat (I’m vowing not to have any more of these this year *), we headed to the 3 Wise Monkeys pub and drank lots of Carlton Draft (by far the best Aussie Beer – well, that an Toohey’s Extra Dry), watching a great live band and chatting with a lovely (aren’t they all) Kiwi couple.
  • Saturday chilling: Despite the beers I’ve not been hungover today and have just chilled out, meeting Sam et al for lunch and then spending the afternoon grabbing a couple of extra souvenirs, packing my bags (all done now, wooh), uploading photos and… writing this.

(* Whilst in Australia)

So there it ends. My last week in Oz. It’s been a good one to go out on. I was thinking of writing a “Wow, it’s the end, here’s a review of the trip and how I feel about it all and where I am now” blog entry, but I’m going to save that for when I get back home and am not paying per hour to blog. In summary, though: this has been the best experience of my life. I’m so glad I’ve done it. I’m happier than I’ve been for so long and really excited about where my life’s going to be going now. :-)

Really looking forward to going home, but to be honest the 9.5 hour flight, 2.5 hour wait in Hong Kong airport and 13 hour flight to Heathrow aren’t exactly causing me a great deal of excitiment.

Oh well. Hopefully they’ll have a good set of movies on the plane. I’m looking forward to seeing Norbit again.

Take care y’all, all the best from me and Squage (Yeah, all the best from over ‘ere :-) – Squage) and I’ll see you back in the UK!

Farewell from Australia,

Pat (and Squage) :-)

by Pat
on Jun 29th, 2007

Two Days To Go…

…and I’ve not died, I’m just busy enjoying my last week :-)

I’ll do a Proper Blog tomorrow (although Squage’s “East Coast” blogging may have to wait til we get home and are not paying per minute to use the net (oh how strange that will be)), but until then have a great Friday and enjoy the weekend :-D

Toodles for now,


by Pat
on Jun 25th, 2007

One Week To Go…

My goodness. In 7 days’ time I will be on an airplane, with a mere 4 hours to go before arriving in Heathrow.

That’s scary. Whilst I contemplate that, have a look at this. Clutching at straws much, Universal?

That is all (for now, at least. Damned goon and snoring roommates!! :-) )…


by Pat
on Jun 24th, 2007

Back in Sydney!


Yep, after a pleasant three hour flight down from Cairns chatting with a lovely Kiwi lady called Kathy about New Zealand, England, Australia and all sorts of other stuff, I landed in the sunny city itself!

And already I’m hungover. Last night went out for a few beers with Jonny (from the West Coast trip) and his mates. He’s Irish. Need I say more?

This week I’ll be mostly catching up with Sam (from Sydney – who I’m meeting in, oh, 3 minutes outside this net cafe), Kate (from Cairns) and James (from my Heading Bush trip)… and probably popping down to Canberra for a day or two.

Anyway, gotta dash – it’s 2 minutes to Meeting Sam O’Clock!



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 Squage
on Jun 18th, 2007

Kuranda Day Trip!

Yes, you heard right – a day trip! A day where Pat and I spend the day doing something other than sitting in the hostel, sitting by the pool, sitting in net cafes (bar this bit) and generally milling around. Makes a change, given the past few days!

Today Pat and I went to Kuranda, a village in the rainforest about 15 miles northwest of Cairns.

Part of the fun was actually the getting there and back – although some cool stuff was done whilst at the village itself.

Getting There
The journey to Kuranda was pretty cool, mainly due to the 2nd part of the journey. However, at a couple of points during the first stage of the journey Pat was concerned that we’d not actually make it to Kuranda at all.

The first time was before we were picked up. Pat was standing by the side of the road, in the rain, next to his hostel, waiting for the courtesy bus to pick us up. And waiting… and waiting. Pat was getting rather concerned that this would be a repeat of his previous, failed white water rafting trip, but just as he was about to phone the company and state (as was stated when booking about 5 times) that he was standing outside Cairns International HOSTEL, the bus turned up. Phew.

The second time Pat thought we’d never get there was during the bus trip, whereupon the bus driver repeatedly pulled to the side of the road (whether it was a minor back road or major dual carriageway, it didn’t seem to matter) in order to answer one of the two mobile phones he had by him. Which rang a lot. At the volume of a harrier jump jet from 2 metres away. To be fair, at least he pulled over to answer. From Pat’s experience, most Aussie drivers just answer their mobiles whilst cruising along – and it seems the concept of “hands free” equates to “holding the phone under your chin whilst trying to change gear and steer”. And don’t get me started on seat belts…

Anyway, eventually we got to the Sky Rail depot. Thus began the fun part of the journey. This part involves traveling in a cable car up above the canopy of a mountain rain forest along the world’s longest cable car cable. Sky Rail travels over 7km through the rain forest covered mountains and provides exceptional views of the mountain ranges:

Sky Rail Views

Alas, due to a fair selection of low-lying cloud and plenty of rain everywhere, what we got to see was this:
...And Just Like That: It's Gone

Ok, ok, it wasn’t like that all of the way – Pat and I got to see some nice (raindrop filled) views:
Gondola Over The Baron River! Look!  You Can See!

Along the route are a couple of stations, where you can jump out of your cable car and have a look around the rain forest. So Pat did:
Rain Forest Pat And A Sky Rail Brolly

He also took the chance to have a look at the mightily impressive (probably more so when there’s not fupping cloud everywhere) Baron Falls:
The Impressive Baron Falls Pat And The Baron Falls... And An Umbrella

One of the good things about clouds, rain and general grottiness weather-wise is that it deters many tourists – meaning a) you’re more likely to get a cable car to yourself and, thus, b) you can take a couple of photos of yourself and your adorable (Well… – Pat) companion:
Pat On The Sky Rail: A Shocking Experience Pat And Squage Skyrailing It TMX

They actually take a snap of you as you arrive into the Kuranda station, then super impose a scenic “middle of the cable car route” backdrop, for the princely sum of $15. I think it’s fair to say that with the above photos there was no need for that. Impressively professional, aren’t they?


Getting Wet (a.k.a. At Kuranda)
Once in Kuranda, the rain continued merrily on but it didn’t stop us enjoying ourselves: browsing through the markets, sampling some of the tasty local food and laughing at some of the “fine” goods available for purchase:

  • Squidgy faces:
    Magic Face Rip Offs
    It’s a clone of everyone’s favourite squidgy face thing – Magic Face!

  • “Hilarious” door signage:
    Awful, Awful, Awful...
    Sorry, but that just simply doesn’t work. “Do it until megabytes”? What does that even mean?

We also visited the Koala Gardens, which has got all sorts in it:

  • Lizards:
    Lizard In The Grass!

  • Snakes:
    Spot The Snake
    Including Snakes POSSESSED BY EVIL:

  • Wallabies (which Pat took some time to feed):
    WALLABY! Feeding A Wallaby!

  • And, funnily enough, Koalas:

Now remember that $15 Pat didn’t spend by not buying a photo of us in the cable car? Well, he convinced himself that he’d just saved that money and thus could spend it on whatever he fancied, guilt free. To be fair, he did say he’d been wanting a photo of him holding a Koala for ages, so I guess some dosh of him with little “Irwin” didn’t hurt:
Holding A Koala! Holding A Koala

Cuddling a Koala: Check. I think that’s almost all of Pat’s “Australia: To Do” list complete! Now just white water rafting and something he’s written about Holly Valance and some whipped cr… er, forget I said that. Jeez, Scullion.

Anyway, aside from that Pat decided to go for a nice walk as, well, it was only drizzling and it would be pleasant to wander through the rain forest. The latter was true. The former was true also, although only for 15 minutes. For the remaining 30 minutes of Pat’s wander, it BUCKETED it down. I ended up rather damp, despite being in Pat’s bag. Still, some nice sights were seen:
River In The Rain Forest Rain Forest Rainy River
Attempted Arty Flower Shot #0404FFE2

A well needed dry off in a cafe later and it was just about time to head back to Cairns…

Getting Back
This was a very pleasant way to end the day. An hour and a half long train journey along the sides of mountains through the rain forest and back to Cairns, in the Scenic Railway Train.

Again due to the lack of people we had a nice amount of space to ourselves – allowing us to both get window seats:
EXTREME PHOTO TAKING: On a Train.  Whilst Being Wet! Squage Enjoying The Views

The journey itself was very relaxing, the train pootling through the beautiful scenery, past gushing waterfalls, through tunnels and across bridges over gorges, all accompanied by an automated commentary thing, which was surprisingly a) non-irritating and b) informative. Pat did have to laugh though, when at the end of the journey it stated that it was “really pleased to have [our] company for the journey”. In his words: “Uhuh, did you my friend? You enjoyed our company… from a recording studio 5 years ago? I see!”. Obviously as Pat’s never prerecorded anything and pretended it’s live, he can mock this system without being a massive hypocrite… (Yeah, ok, ok… – Pat)

Some of the sights on the way back:
On The Edge Baron Gorge
The Train Passing Stoney Creek Falls

And then… we were back in Cairns! Since that point we’ve been to an Internet cafe to write this blog, had some dinner, Pat’s spoken to James, Gib and Tony from work (Hi dudes, enjoying your Monday in the office? :-) – Pat) and come back to the hostel… to finish this blog.

Which is… now… done. Bye!


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