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A U S T R A L I A   I I

11.08.2012, 20:30   ---   And once again: Darwin

For the fifth time now I am in Darwin , the nicely relaxed and hot Capital of the Northern Territory , and as it seems it just doesn’t wanna let me go. My arrival though wasn’t quite as smooth this time as usual. Stupidly I had forgotten to tell my friend Greg when I’ll be back and when I finally remembered I couldn’t get hold of him. When I landed at the airport I found out that the Monday was gonna be a public holiday, hence I assumed Greg was out camping for the long weekend. So I tried to find a hostel in town instead, but wasn’t all too successful again. The Darwin Cup, a hugely popular horse race, was being held on Monday (therefore the public holiday… yeah right, a public holiday for a horse race!!) and accordingly the entire town seemed to be booked out. Finally I was lucky enough to get the last available bed in a hostel nearby, but only for one night. But what would the world be without Couchsurfing… ;-) That’s how I met Jay and he was so kind to accommodate me on his couch the next day! Eventually Greg was back in town, I moved to his apartment and just as usual his place was busy again with 4 other couchsurfers that he hosted at the moment. :-)

It’s the first time that I’m in Darwin during the dry season and there’s lots of stuff going on. As I said, on Monday was the Darwin Cup and I managed to get a job there last minute. I’ve never been to a horse race before, so I was gonna go anyways. This way I saved the admission fee and even got paid! ;-) Along with two others I ran the bar at a corporate function inside the racecourse, our guests were super friendly and easy-going and we had a pretty good view of the track – easily made money! :-) The whole atmosphere was amazing and the fancy dresses of the women and especially their crazy hats were pure entertainment, incredibly what some of them wore on their head…
For the last and most important race I managed to leave the bar for a moment, stood right at the racecourse and the atmosphere was absolutely thrilling and breath-taking!!!

During the entire dry season a market takes place at Mindil beach twice a week. They’ve got heaps of yummi food from all over the world, handicrafts, art, live music… all sorts of stuff, absolutely gorgeous and at sunset hundreds of people sit on the beach to watch the colourful phenomenon and applause when the sun sinks into the ocean. The market has grown a fair bit since my first visit 6 years ago, but they’ve still got the same amazing didgeridoo/percussions-band playing and it’s still a cool market!

On Thursday the yearly Darwin Festival started with a free opening concert. We didn’t wanna miss that for sure, it was pretty busy and great bands were playing!! The festival will be running for the next two weeks with heaps of concerts, theatres, dance, are and lots more all over town, some of them even for free. I’ll sure visit the one or other event.
And last but not least the Olympics are still on at the moment and with 5 different nations living together ( Australia , Germany , USA , France , Finland ) it’s even more fun to watch it than alone! :-)

Finally I had just decided to leave Darwin and make my way to Cairns and tadaaaa… I got work! A full-time position with fair pay and a seemingly nice and easy-going boss. I couldn’t say no to that offer obviously, so I’m gonna stay for a little longer. :-)

24.08.2012, 20:00   ---   Wicked

I am pretty lucky again and found myself a great job! :-) 6 days a week I am working for Wicked Campers now, a car rental company (Mareike and I had rented one of their vans for our trip last year) and I really enjoy it. My 3 colleagues (boss and mechanic Greg, office-clerk Dave and mechanic Kristo) are super nice and easy-going, the pay is pretty good and the work is fun. For a change I’m back in an office, totally love it, and the cleaning of the returned campervans makes a good balance. Soon Dave will be leaving us to enjoy the backpacker life again and until then I gotta be able to do the office on my own.

Home became pretty quiet again. The Americans Lauren and Charlotte left, Finnish Niina took a flight to the east coast and the French Marlène went to Bali for a holiday. But instead another French moved in, Aurélie, and in heaps of things she seems to be a French version of myself, so funny. ;-)
We also sort of adopted a stray cat. She used to come here sporadically every now and again, one day we let her in and fed her as she seemed to be very hungry. Ever since she sits at our door every night calling for us and strolls through the apartment as if it was all hers, so cute! :-)

Otherwise I enjoy my everyday life and the proximity to town (it is indeed quite nice not to live in the middle of nowhere for a change), after a break of several weeks I finally started running again and I just try to make the best of my free time.
Just recently the Australian national cricket team played a practice game against the so-called A-Team (those players that are hoping for a place in the national team). I never quite understood the rules, but according to Greg I simply have to watch a cricket game at least once (the Aussis love their cricket!) and so I stood by the cricket ground soon after. For the unknowing spectator it has some similarity with American baseball, but it’s better to keep that thought to yourself! ;-) All in all it’s rather a slow game without much action and I dare to say that the players hardly ever even sweat (unless due to the heat maybe). However, now I’ve watched a game and can tick that box!
Heaps more interesting and with much more action was the rodeo championship in one of Darwin ’s suburbs, which Aurélie and I enjoyed a lot more!

And then there’s still the Darwin Festival on and I managed to get tickets to at least two of the many shows. The first one was a concert of Colin Hay, the frontman of the 80s band Men At Work (especially their hit “Down Under” should be known by everybody). The show was great, along with his own songs he also played the big Men At Work hits and was funnier than some comedians!
But the absolute highlight was the cabaret group “La Soirée”. They are the headliner of the festival, play at least one show every night and are completely sold out – for good reason!! Their show is a breathtaking mix of acrobatic, comedy, burlesque and magic, presented in its very own and impressive way, absolutely stunning!

Haha and just recently the new season of “Farmer wants a wife” started on TV, among others with Farmer Sam. That is the trucker that took me along in his road train while I was working at Auvergne station, so funny to see him wife hunting on TV now! :-D

02.09.2012, 17:00   ---   Waterfall - Water = Cliff

Last week I had an awesome weekend!! At work I managed to arrange to take Saturday off, Greg was off work for the whole weekend, too, and so we took the opportunity for a camping trip to Kakadu National Park . For 6 years I never made it to the Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls (mostly because the road to these waterfalls is inaccessible most time of the year) and this was my chance! Aurélie came along as well and we left on Saturday morning in a happy mood towards bush. Greg’s Landcruiser is perfectly set up for this country and we could avoid the tarmac roads most of the time, taking the red dusty dirt roads instead. We saw wild horses, also a saltwater crocodile at Yellow Waters Billabong and had a brilliant camp with BBQ, camp fire and Bundy (Aussi rum). Next morning we took off for the last leg to the waterfalls (probably the most distant places in Kakadu from Darwin ). It was a rough 4WD track with massive corrugations, deep sand, big rocks and several river and creek crossing – so much fun!! :-) To reach the Twin Falls we had to take a boat through the Twin Falls Gorge at the end of the track. The landscape was stunning, the water crystal clear, afterwards we had to walk for another 15 minutes and finally we reached the end of the gorge, standing on a sandy beach and the Twin Falls were splashing down the rockwall, truly beautiful! Next stop Jim Jim Falls ! At the end of this 4WD track we had to go on yet another hike, climbing over rocks most of the time all the way through the gorge, surrounded by an amazing landcape… and finally we stood right in front of the Jim Jim Cliffs! Yeah right, just a cliff! Since it’s already the end of the dry season and it hasn’t rained for ages I didn’t even expect all too much water, but apart from a few tiny drops it was just completely dry. :-( However, it was still an absolutely beautiful spot and especially the crocodile-free plunge pool was great to cool off in the heat!

What followed was the bad ending of a wonderful weekend… on the hike back to the car I slipped off a rock, twisted my ankle and fell on my finger! After the first shock I thought it wasn’t too bad, carried on to the car (not that I would have had another choice anyway), cooled the swelling with the last bit of ice from the eski and home we went. When I woke up next morning my finger had swollen to twice its normal size and was hardly able to move and my ankle was so in pain that I couldn’t put any weight on it! Under no circumstances could I go to work and instead Marlène (she had just returned from her Bali-holidays) took me to the hospital. A couple of hours later I was 300$ poorer and stocked up with pain killers (strong enough to knock me out into deep sleep for the rest of the day), but at least with the good feeling to know that nothing’s seriously damaged, it’s only a bruise and badly pulled muscle tendons!

I already went back to work on Tuesday, to the end of the week Dave left us surprisingly and it became really hectic! I had just been about half trained, apart from him nobody else had the slightest clue what was going on in the office and again I experienced yet another challenge – right into the deep end again! I’d say we managed the situation quite well and my new goal is now to establish some proper order in this chaos-office! ;-)

Our cat still visits us for dinner every night and for the last days we thought she’s becoming quite fat. But now we noticed that she’s actually not fat, just pregnant – we’re gonna have babies!!! :-) Well, chances are pretty little that she’ll be giving birth at our place, but hopefully I’ll be here long enough to see her bringing them along for dinner one day. ;-)

Well timed for the weekend my ankle felt much better, Marlène was gonna leave for Cairns on Sunday and therefore a Party at Mindil Beach sounded pretty good to us! We met funny people, had a real good night, followed by a wonderfully lazy Sunday and tomorrow work will start all over again.

16.09.2012, 15:15   ---   Workaholic

After nearly 2 years of cruising around the globe I am finally just as much a workaholic for the moment as I used to be back home. While working six days a week at Wicked plus regular overtime I just commenced a second job, as a waitress at Hog’s Breath Café. The plan was to work about 2-3 evenings a week, just to get out and be around people a bit more. But as it seems the Hoggies is extremely short on staff at the moment and so I am busy there on 4-5 days a week and sometimes I’ve only got about an hour between the two jobs to take a shower and have a little snack. But the job is good fun! Hoggies is a great restaurant, very casual atmosphere, delicious food and fantastic colleagues, with whom I often have some drinks after work, too.

My office at Wicked is getting more and more organised, but it is still not quite relaxed yet. Pretty much every time when I think everything’s running pretty smoothly and relaxed we’re coming across the weirdest incidents… But I’m still working on it! ;-) This week Kristo left us, but luckily he got replaced instantly by Francis, a Dutch backpacker. Unlike him she’s no mechanic though, but good help anyways!

And the best thing I’ve done in a while was to buy a bicycle!! That makes me heaps more flexible and I can now cruise around town without being dependant on buses and especially it’s heaps quicker to go to own or to work, so cool! :-)

Our cat is still pregnant, but it can’t take long anymore. Also we will have to find a name for here, as she’s pretty much part of our “family” already. :-D And for the last 2 weeks we had another couchsurfer again, Kicki from Sweden . A lovely and funny girl, she makes the best Thai curry and is brilliant company for a night out! :-)

After a long and extremely exhausting week I am finally enjoying a well deserved quiet Sunday. First of all I slept in, then cycled to Lake Alexander and enjoyed a refreshing swim. Darwin is constantly getting hotter at the moment and humidity is rising slowly. The wet season is coming closer, so a little refreshment is the best thing in the world! And now I’m sitting here by the lake, bathing in the sun and tonight I’m gonna be back at Hoggies. :-)

27.09.2012, 23:00   ---   Eventually I’ve had enough!

After nearly 2 months at Wicked I’ve had enough now. Generally I enjoyed the work and I earned good money, but there are things that I don’t wanna waste my time with. An unpleasant mix of idiotism at the top of the company’s hierarchy, maximum pressure and impossible expectations of big boss John (unfortunately one can’t be in two different places at a time) nearly drove me mad last week. In addition I also had to deal with the foulest mood of my boss and co-worker Greg and that was just too much. Under these circumstances it doesn’t matter how good I am doing my job, it will never ever run smoothly! And when this entire madness continued in exactly the same way on Monday and made my decision and quit. I really don’t have to cope with such bullshit and it felt so good, it relaxed me instantly! Fair and responsible as I am though I agreed to stay just a bit longer to train up Francis for the office, but the latest by the middle of next week I’m gonna be out of there. :-)

On the contrary I’m even happier at Hoggies! It’s a phantastic work environment, my colleagues are amazing, we’re a team, everybody’s keen to help each other and it’s just a lot of fun! When I’m finally finished at Wicked I’ll probably just do a few extra hours here instead.

On Sunday I had the whole day off and it was also my 2nd travel anniversary, it still amazes me how quickly the time flies by! For this occasion I borrowed a car from Wicked and along with Greg, our couchsurfers Jo, Julia and Caro and my Hoggies-colleague Nadine I went to Berry Springs. That’s a nature reserve with several connected natural pools about an hour drive from Darwin . And all that completely croc-free! ;-) We spent a highly relaxed day there, swam from pool to pool and since we’re in Australia a decent BBQ is not to be missed! At night I went out with Nadine and Jo for a bit and so I had yet another great anniversary this year! :-)

17.10.2012, 12:30   ---   One should leave when it’s at its best

It has already been 3 weeks again since the last update… but I had simply been too busy enjoying Darwin ! :-)
When I finally had my last day at Wicked my life here just got heaps better straight-away! I started working lunch shifts at Hoggies, too, but still had enough time to sleep in every morning to recover from the all-nightly parties. In between shifts and on free afternoons I often spent my time at the lagoon along with Holly, one of my Hoggies-colleague and real good friend and at night after work we always went straight back to the pubs and clubs. These working hours just perfectly suited my current party lifestyle! :-)

Last weekend we had a pyjama-staff-party at Hoggies and I was so hangover all day from the night before, that I seriously wasn’t gonna go out for a change! But as it always goes I somehow got persuaded to come out at least for one drink, which easily led to a second one and without even noticing the night was over! ;-) It ended in an absolutely legendary party, the managers got us pretty drunk, it was heaps of fun, drinking games… Only the sleepingbag race through the restaurant caused quite a few injuries. ;-) Definitely a freakin good party and probably even my longest night in Darwin !

And then everything went really quick… I still desperately wanted to travel through the Kimberleys in the North of Western Australia to Broome, but once the wet season hits this area will quickly become inaccessible. So now or never and slowly I started looking around for a lift. Soon I found one, we got along pretty well straight away and yesterday we were gonna leave already. In literally no time I sold my bike (and easily got even more money for it than I had originally paid!), after a long time I finally packed up my backpack again and then had my last night out in Darwin – yet another crazily funny and memorable night! :-D

Next morning Holly and I had an appointment at a tattoo studio! We’d both wanted a tattoo for ages already, we’d just always been too scared to actually do it and now Corey, our Hoggies bartender and daily Tap Bar buddy, had convinced us that it’s not all that painful at all. Holly managed to bail out with being sick in the last moment though (okay, she indeed looked terribly sick!) and so I had to go on my own! :-( But it wasn’t bad at all, it indeed didn’t hurt and now I’ve got the silhouette of a flying bird on my neck – a symbol of freedom as a constant reminder of this amazing journey! :-)

And then we were meant to leave!! Ah well, not quite… ;-) Some problems concerning the luggage space in the car delayed the whole trip for another day, the others are gonna post some of their luggage down to Perth and today we’re finally leaving. So yesterday I took the chance for yet another night at my beloved Tap Bar and didn’t mind to delay my farewell from Darwin for another day. ;-) I really had a great time here with amazing people and especially the last two weeks were just a blast! But one should leave when it’s at its best and that’s what I’m gonna do now – bittersweet, sad and excited! ;-)

23.10.2012, 20:30   ---   Back in the bush

For almost a week we’ve been on the road now and we’ve had a great time already! I’m travelling with Ash (Aussi), Krystina (Irish) and Nick (South African) – quite a random mix of nationalities! The good feeling after first meeting them has proven itself right again, we’re a good team and have got heaps of fun!

On Wednesday afternoon we finally left and headed straight for Nitmiluk National park . After such a long time in Darwin I truly enjoyed to be back in nature and camp in the bush. We had a couple of drinks on our first night, at midnight we celebrated Nick’s birthday for a bit and next morning we started the day with a refreshing bath at Edith Falls , a natural pool with a smallish waterfall. And Nick’s conclusion of the day was “Never jump into a waterfall with your sunnies on your head or they will disappear in the dark depths below” – not exactly a good start into his birthday but definitely a lesson for life! ;-)
After a quick stop at Katherine Gorge with a beautiful view over the gorge and the surrounding bush land we headed straight towards Western Australia . We spent the night at Gregory National park not far from Auvergne Station, where I used to work a few months ago, and while I enjoyed the familiar countryside the boys nearly shitted themselves as they heard noises all around us… what a surprise! We were in the bush and most likely there were animals, too! Totally unrelaxed they sat there, armed with a machete and at every little rustling they hectically pointed their torches through the bush, hilarious! :-D To their relief a harmless, cute opossum came out of the bush eventually, curiously walked towards us and posed for the camera. :-)

Next morning we first went to Auvergne Station. It felt so familiar when we cruised down the driveway, I successfully surprise everyone again and it was great to see heaps of people there again! Robyn offered toasties and cake, Hannah updated me with the latest gossip and hardly anything had changed. Ash, Krystina and Nick got a little inside view into the life on a cattle station, a Road Train was just being loaded at the yards and soon we reached the border. After a quick inspection at the quarantine checkpoint and a 90 minute time difference we were in Western Australia and soon after in Kununurra to stock up with groceries for the trip. The car was absolutely packed to the last corner and we were ready to go – if Krystina hadn’t locked the keys in the car! :-D I can’t blame her since it had happened to me several times at home, too, but back then a spare key was never far away. But lucky as we are… A locksmith had parked right in the opposite parking lot, Krystina and I waited for him by his car and in no time he opened our door.
Meanwhile dark clouds had moved in, a strong wind blew through the streets and facing this storm we decided to spend the night in a hostel in town instead of pitching our tents in the bush.
Next morning the sun was shining bright as usual again and we started the day at a waterhole surrounded by steep cliffs, the Grotto. With my new tattoo I wasn’t allowed to swim yet unfortunately, so Krystina and I relaxed and refreshed on the rocks in the shallow water (some people dare to say we imitated the water monitors that sat by the water) while Ash and Nick beat their fear of heights by jumping off cliffs and trees into the water.

And then the time had finally come, the Gibb River Road lay right in front of us!! 665 dusty kilometres of unsealed roads with river crossings and sometimes massive corrugations through the wilderness of the Kimberleys, originally a track for cattle trucks that connected the region’s cattle stations with the ports of Derby and Wyndham. We were surrounded by unbelievably vast plains, pure nature and the impressive Cockburn Ranges – we were right inside the film set of the “ Australia ” movie, only Hugh Jackmann galloping past was missing. ;-)
We spent 3 days at El Questro, a former cattle station, and already freakin early we were forced to leave our tents by the sun and the insane heat (the sun rises at about 5am, at 6am even I was wide awake and the sun was already high up in the sky).
Zebedee Springs is a hot spring in El Questro, flowing into several natural pools. Not that one would necessarily need a hot bath in the heat, but in the shade of the surrounding palm trees and ferns it was really nice anyways.
El Questro Gorge was next on our agenda, but a pretty deep river crossing stopped us half way. Our car doesn’t have a snorkel and we obviously didn’t wanna risk to flood the engine… so we had only one option: Walking! The roughly 2km to the gorge were pretty unexciting and with no shade anywhere, but the gorge itself was definitely worth it! The hike took us all the way through the gorge through amazing landscapes, tropical vegetation, the high cliffs on both sides protected us from the sun and at the end of it we were rewarded with another croc-free pool.
We explored yet a few more paces in El Questro, fun 4WD tracks, breathtaking viewpoints, another pool with a sandy beach at Moonshine Gorge (when we had to stop at the same river crossing again to get there we were lucky to catch a ride with some rangers first and on the way back with a nice Suisse couple!), had a fun night with way to much beer with the El Questro staff and this morning we went to my so far favourite among the swimming holes: Emma Gorge! A circular pool surrounded by high cliffs, which are overgrown with moss and ferns, the last bit of the normally probably gigantic waterfall trickling into the pool… stunning! This time I was the idiot jumping into the water with my sunnies on, but luckily it wasn’t as deep as where Nick lost his. Only 2-3 metres and with Ash’s goggles I managed to find them. :-)

Finally it was time to leave El Questro. One last time we admired the incredible landscape, had one last look at the beautiful Cockburn Ranges and off we went westwards. Without any trouble we crossed the Pentecost River , the deepest river on the Gibb, passed Home Valley and Ellenbrae Stations, which were already abandoned for the wet season, and drove quite a fair distance. On the way to our camp at the Barnett River we came across a little herd of cattle and despite my advice to just drive past slowly, Ash mooed at them through the window and tooted the horn. And before we could even realise it the whole herd stormed towards us with their horns pointed forward, crazy! :-P Luckily they gave up eventually, we made it to our bush camp safely and had a quiet evening by the campfire.

25.10.2012, 17:00   ---   So let’s have a break then…  

Yesterday we started our day at Mount Barnett Roadhouse with meat pies and cold drinks – unbelievably good in this heat – and went for the walk to Manning Gorge. Right at the start of the walk we had to cross a river, too deep to walk, hence our cameras unfortunately had to stay behind. ;-) The walk was fairly unexciting, even better though was the pool at the end. Probably the largest one on the Gibb, very pretty and in the early dry season a huge waterfall is flowing down the cascading rocks. By the end of the dry season (which is now) it’s all dry unfortunately, but instead we could use the otherwise flooded cliffs for some fun cliff jumping into the cool water. :-)

On the way to the next gorge we came across a massive bush fire in the distance, an equally terrifying and impressive sight when the wind stirs up the flames over and over again and pushes them forward within seconds! Bad luck though, that this fire was right at Bell Gorge, where we were headed just then, so we sadly had to skip it. Very disappointing, but there was nothing else to do but to carry on driving.

We ended up spending last night at Windjana Gorge and today was meant to be our last day on the Gibb. We planned to explore this gorge in the morning, carry on to Tunnel Creek and off to Broome… That would have been too nice! We had packed up camp and were just about to drive to the start of the walk, but the car just wouldn’t start. Our highly limited mechanical knowledge didn’t get us anywhere, there was no help in sight and since there was nothing we could do in that moment anyways, we might as well just go for the walk first. ;-) The gorge is really beautiful and totally different to all the others… high rock walls, but heaps wider, a creek goes all the way through, fringed by sandy beaches, freshwater crocodiles are chilling in the water (they are generally harmless and no danger to humans, as long as they don’t feel threatened, however their company simply doesn’t make one feel like swimming) and the trees by the side of the gorge were packed with bats. No kidding, there were thousands of them, I have never ever seen that many of them in one spot!

Back at the car the situation hadn’t changed obviously, but soon another car drove past – 4 nice blokes from Perth . We flagged them down and – believe it or not – there was a mechanic among them! :-D Incredibly helpful und generous he checked every bit of the car for about 2 hours with the result that the fuel pump isn’t working and there will be no chance whatsoever for a temporary fix. But that hadn’t been the end of their generosity yet! Tow trucks out here in the middle of nowhere cost a fortune, especially on unsealed roads like the Gibb, and so they offered to tow us all the way to the next town – 160km to Derby (First of all we were just incredibly lucky that this only happened at the very end of the Gibb and not somewhere right in the middle!). We could hardly believe our luck, but this time it ended in quite a disappointment: Our car doesn’t have a towing ring in the front! By the looks it had been taken off in order to put a bull bar into place and so there was nothing left to do for our rescuers, only a tow truck can help now. :-( And to make matters worse it’s also Ash’s birthday today, certainly one of those that he’ll never forget…
Well, but before wasting all that money for a tow truck Ash just wanted to call his Mum quickly, as she would always have a solution… and she did! She just signed her son up for the RAA, claiming it is his birthday present and mentioning that we’re gonna leave Darwin now for the Gibb (to make sure this route isn’t excluded). For a premium member (she obviously did a thorough research beforehand) 200km of towing are for free, so that’s all sorted! :-) But now we will have to stay here for another 3 days to make it look fairly realistic that we’ve already made it so far from Darwin … That will be some long 3 days! Luckily we’re at least stuck in a place that has got showers, toilets and drinking water and also the countryside is really pretty here! The only problem might be the food… Since we’re right at the end of our trip, our food is accordingly coming to an end as well. But the ranger here was so super nice already to help us out with heaps of stuff and from now on we will just strictly have to ration it! ;-)

01.11.2012, 9:30   ---   Out of the misery, into the holiday

4 days at Windjana, 4 loooong days… In the mornings we tried to sleep in (as far as that was possible with the sun shining into the tent from 5am and turning it into a sauna), we had Coco Pops with water for breakfast (one has to opt for alternatives when running out of milk) and for the rest of the day we read, chilled out, juggled, took photos, counted down the hours until sunset… that’s pretty much all there was to do. Every now and again we had a stroll through the gorge, but after 4 days we really knew it inside out and knew every crocodile by name! An absolute legend was Kelly, the ranger! Every day she helped us out with food, charged our computers and mp3-players at her house, stored our drinking water in her fridge and on Sunday she even offered to take us to Tunnel Creek, that last stop of our trip, that we missed, which is also part of her National Park. ;-) But before we left we were just gonna call the RAA to notify them of our break-down as the 3 days were just over and we didn’t want to waste any time. And BOOM, everything else happened really quickly! They would send a tow truck from Derby straight-away and also we would get 2 free nights accommodation in town! That’s customer service… we hadn’t expected at all to get out of there before Monday. However, the drive would still take that truck a little while, so off we went to Tunnel Creek. :-) As you can tell by the name it’s a creek flowing through a tunnel, but precisely this creek had eroded and formed the tunnel originally. Now at the end of the dry season the water level is very low and actually makes it possible to walk all the way through to the other end. It’s pretty dark inside, it’s got some weird limestone formations, bats hang on the ceiling and sometimes we could see the red glowing eyes of some freshies (freshwater crocodiles) in the lights of our torches. But once we entered the water those shy fellas were gone, so totally harmless.

Back outside Kelly was already back to pick us up and back at Windjana our tow truck was already waiting for us. In no time we had packed up our camp and drove off to Derby , where we lived in some sort of Balinese oasis of relaxation – an absolutely incredible apartment!!
Derby though is a sleepy, tiny, dusty town where it seems pretty difficult to find a place for dinner at only 8:30pm. Obviously Ash and Krystina had to sort out the car, but there wasn’t much for me to do, so I decided to leave for Broome the next day. The only bus though leaves at 4am (!!!) – clearly no option for me – and instead I hitchhiked. That worked out absolutely brilliant, I got picked up very quickly by lovely people and in the evening I already sat at the famous Cable Beach .

My hostel here is just so nice, lovely people and a great atmosphere and after such a long hostel break I am really enjoying it! Since I had done Broome’s entire cultural sights such as Pearl Diving Museum , Japanese cemetery and the like before, I skipped it on this visit. Instead I went shopping in Broome town and strolled through the old Chinatown – it hasn’t changed very much since my last visit (unlike the Cable Beach area with all its resorts one beside the other these days). I was lucky that it had just been full moon the night before and the low tide in Broome then always produces the so-called “Staircase to the moon”. When the sun has long set the moon rises brightly yellow out of the ocean and reflects its light in the mudflats. Unfortunately the horizon was covered by a layer of clouds, but it was still very impressive. We stood there in the pitch-black darkness, staring towards the horizon and suddenly this bright yellow light came up out of the clouds, reflecting all the way through the mudflats, stunning!
Yesterday I spent the entire day just relaxing. I slept in until late, spent the day in the pool with a couple of people and in the evening I went to Cable Beach for the sunset. Meanwhile Ash, Krystina and Nick had made it to Broome too and joined me for the sunset, we had a few drinks at the Sunset Bar afterwards and this was the final ending of our trip. Tomorrow I’m gonna make my way to my mate Bart (a good while ago we’ve travelled through Tanzania together), who works as a teacher in an Aboriginal community and afterwards I’ll be headed for the East Coast and the others are gonna travel down the west coast to Perth along with another backpacker.

14.11.2011, 8:00   ---   4300km to the solar eclipse

And off I went to Bart in Bidyadanga, approximately 200km south of Broome and since hitch-hiking went so well last time I was gonna try it once again. The owner of my hostel drove me down to the main road, where a lovely worried couple stopped to give me a ride out of town and yet someone else took me down to the highway. That’s always the hardest part: Getting out of town to the highway, cause most people are just cruising around town! So there I stood for about 10 minutes when a car was coming up honking and yelling – “Freaks!” was my first thought! But the freaks stopped and turned out to be Ash, Krystina, Nick and their new travel buddy Sean on their way to Perth , what a funny coincidence. Totally overloaded and squeezed in with 5 people we went for out last little journey until the Bidyi turnoff, where Bart picked me up soon.
It was great to catch up after such a long time, we had heaps of stories to tell and spent the afternoon with 4WDriving around Bidyi and on the beach. The community’s Aboriginals are the traditional land owners and due to its cultural significance white people are only allowed to go to certain places. That is fully respected by everyone and to greet the land in accordance to Aboriginal tradition we took a mouth full of water and sprayed it back on the land. Bart’s “backyard” is truly beautiful, a seemingly endless sandy beach with incredibly huge and amazing shells, sand dunes… stunning. So stunning that the car decided to stay a bit longer and got bogged in the deep sand. ;-) We spent a fair while digging, letting air off the tyres, bogged again, a bit more digging, building some solid ground with sticks, letting out more air… we finally got out and carried on to the mangroves, where we tried to catch mudcrabs in the mud (we found heaps, but they were too small for a decent meal) while the sun was setting slowly at the horizon.
Unfortunately I missed school next morning because I simply didn’t get out of bed, but as Bart told me later on only two students of his class had turned up anyways. Apparently that’s not too unusual on a Friday, especially by the end of the term…

And then it was time for me to head off East! Bart went to Broome that afternoon anyway, so he took me back as far as the turnoff at the highway. At that roadhouse I met trucker Ray, who offered me a ride to Fitzroy Crossing in his Road Train – Yayyyy!!! :-D In Fitzroy I pitched my tent for the night, checked out the area in morning for a bit and carried on fairly soon. I let one of my lovely drivers drop me off at the Turkey Creek roadhouse hoping for some sort of ride or organised tour to Purnululu National Park, but that turned out to be just as difficult as expected at this time of the year, even the helicopter tours are not running anymore. But I wasn’t stuck for long, cause just a moment later the nice lady from the roadhouse had already found another ride for me to Kununurra. So the first 1500km of hitch hiking had been accomplished successfully and I’ve had a great time! It’s a very relaxed way to travel and reminds me a bit of my time in Africa : You just head off in the morning whenever it suits you and you’ll just see how far you’ll get that day, you can’t plan it! Just with the difference that in Africa it was the public transport that worked this way. ;-) Some people believe that hitch hiking here in the far north is especially dangerous due to the vastness and isolation, but that only makes it a whole lot easier! Most people stop straight away, because they feel sorry for someone standing in the heat (it’s indeed insane here, easily 45°C during the day!!!) in the middle of nowhere and since the roadhouses and little towns are always several hundred kilometres apart everybody is also driving a fair distance, which gets you a lot further with just one lift. Also people up here are even friendlier and more helpful than elsewhere in Australia . Well, and I can’t deny that hitch hiking is generally easier for women (yeah I know, not totally safe either!). The longest I have ever been waiting was half an hour and my record is 2 minutes! ;-)

Next day I caught up with Hughie, the helicopter pilot from Auvergne Station, for a few beers at the Tavern and we spent the day with a few others totally relaxed at a beautiful place in the river. Corco, one of the other pilots, was there too and also Sam, the trucker that took me for a ride while working at Auvergne , along with his “farmer wants a wife”-girlfriend Jodie – great to see that these things can indeed work out that well! :-)
On Monday Hughie took me along to Auvergne , Aussi style with an eski full of beer, we had a nice little booze cruise and yet another lovely return to the Station. :-) I moved right back into my old room and Tuesday was Melbourne Cup day, Australia ’s biggest horse race. The race that stops the Nation! Auvergne had invited several other stations for a big party, I helped Robyn with her preparations in the kitchen, the party was huge fun and it was just great to be there once more!

But soon after that I made my way further east. Hitch hiking was still smooth and easy with incredibly nice people and in Katherine I was as lucky as I could get: Ryan stopped with his huge Road Train (55m length, 700 horse power…) and took me all the way to Mount Isa, a whopping 1300km! I spent my time with watching Forrest Gump & Co on his DVD Player, he let me dig into his mango ice cream supplies and that made it perfectly easy for me to pass the Stuart Highway without accidentally taking a turn back to Darwin . ;-) With a 3000l diesel tank frequent fuel stops become unnecessary, accordingly we covered quite some distance, made it across the Queensland border the next day and in the evening I was already in Mount Isa – 3 time zones in only one week! Once I got there I did indeed need a day to rest, did just absolutely nothing and in the meantime the lovely lady from the hostel had already found someone for me who was gonna drive to the coast to Townsville the next day, pretty cool! Well, back then I didn’t know yet, that this bloke had his very own and strange opinion about everything and also an endless repertoire of the world’s worst jokes… that can make 900km a freaking long journey!! Overly relieved I arrived in Townsville in the evening, a pretty city with Magnetic Island just offshore, caught up with my Tully-friend Geoff for a beer (7 years ago I had an incredibly good time with a bunch of awesome people in the little banana town of Tully) and for a little change I took a bus to Cairns. Along the way I got a very brief glimpse of Tully and would have loved to get off the bus for a little walk through town and just a bit further north I spotted my first wild cassowary (a big black bird with blue head and neck and a huge horn-like thing on its head) rushing across the street. :-)

Yayyy and I finally arrived in Cairns . A good while ago I’ve had a pretty good time here and I made it just on time for the total solar eclipse this morning!! A total solar eclipse happens by the moon being right in between the sun and the earth, fully covering the sun. In that moment the sun’s shadow appears on a very tiny part of the earth, in those places it suddenly goes dark and this entire phenomenon is very rare. It was supposed to happen around 6:30am this morning and along with thousands of other people I’d been waiting at the Esplanade. The weather seemed to be nice with us and the sky was nearly clear – except for one massive cloud sitting right in front of the sun!! That was just not fair… Just before the total eclipse the cloud broke open a little bit, just enough to get a glimpse of the moon slowly covering up the sun and also afterwards we had that same short moment again. But we were not meant to see totality, the moment when the moon completely covers the sun with her bright light visible around the dark moon. However, it was an eerie moment when it just got completely dark for about 2 minutes during bright daylight!

26.11.2012, 21:30   ---   Green

After eventually getting over the disappointment of the solar eclipse I settled down in Cairns for about a week to recover from that long and exhausting journey of the last 3 weeks. Long sleep-ins, aimless strolls through town, chilling out by the lagoon (which replaces the non-existing beach in Cairns ) and simply doing nothing at all. Elodie – my Hoggies colleague from Darwin – stayed at the same hostel, my friend Mark from Melbourne had also travelled up here for the Eclipse Festival and all of a sudden I also bumped into our Hoggies-bartender and daily Tap Bar buddy Corey – heaps of great people to catch up and pass the time with! :-) The climate in Cairns was surprisingly nice for this time of the year (instead of humid heat we had nice cool nights) and especially enjoyable was the green vegetation – lush tropical green wherever you go! After several weeks in the dry, dusty outback one appreciates it even more!

And basically right in front of my doorstep lays the Great Barrier Reef , the largest living organism in the world! This is where I took my first diving course 7 years ago and after a fairly long time without diving (the last dive had already been one year ago) I was very eager to get back into the water! Due to the crowds that had arrived for the eclipse the livaboards were unfortunately all booked out, hence I found myself on one of the day boats with loads of snorkelers. It’s nothing against snorkelers, that’s all fine, but it just simply makes the whole trip very impersonal with that many people. As a little challenge my dive buddy and I had decided to go unguided for a change. Neither of us had done that before, so we were pretty surprised that we managed on all 3 dives to navigate ourselves right back to the boat. ;-) The underwater world unsurprisingly didn’t seem anywhere near as breathtaking as on my very first dives 7 years ago and especially Indonesia just can’t be beaten by this dive site, but it was just awesome to dive again. And meanwhile I could take my time to play around with my camera, as I had just recently bought a special underwater housing. :-)

Soon it was about time to move on again and a dirt cheap rental-relocation-deal to Mackay suited me just right. For only 1$ per day I got a car and only had to return it to Mackay within 3 days. Along with Karen from my hostel I went for a little detour through the Atherton Tablelands first – a picturesque landscape with green rolling hills in every direction, tropical vegetation with beautiful waterfalls to swim, climb or just watch. During a lunch break in Innisfail the next day I rang my friend Mark to check where abouts he’s buzzing around and if he had left Cairns yet… and he was just at a petrol station 200m down the road from us, so funny! He joined us 5 minutes later and also came along to Tully for a little walk through “my past in the banana town”. ;-) Sadly quite a lot has changed within the last years and most devastatingly our beloved Top Pub is a hostel these days. :-(

I dropped Karen off in Townsville and carried on all the way to Ayr straight-away for a long sought-for dive: The wreck of the S.S.Yongala has been resting on the ground of the ocean at a depth of 28m for over 100 years. Last time when I had been in the area I had only been allowed to dive as deep as 18m, so I sadly had to skip it back then. This time we were finally just among divers again as usual, a lovely small group, great atmosphere! And then the dives… absolutely jaw-dropping! As the Yongala is apparently fairly unstable and sadly also the grave of her 122 passengers and crew, any penetration of the wreck is strictly prohibited, but there’s just so incredibly much to see outside that it would never get boring anyways. The entire wreck is a single coral garden and surrounded by unbelievable amounts of fish that I have probably never seen anywhere else. I’m not exaggerating to say we were surrounded by millions of little fishes, also gigantic tunas, easily 2,5m long groupers, barracudas, maori wrasses, sea snakes, giant morays… an eagle ray swam past me just a few metres away, a turtle was sleeping on deck by the wreck and a sting ray was swimming up and down – absolutely stunning!
Next morning I had a quick breakfast stop in the little coastal town of Bowen . Bowen had been the film-set of Darwin for the “Australia” movie and a lovely bar owner told me very exited about the filming a couple of years ago, pointed out the buildings to me, that had been used for the movie and explained how everything had taken place, very interesting. Afterwards I drove the last bit to Mackay, returned the car and tomorrow morning I’ve got a pretty short-noticed interview for a job until Christmas, let’s see how that goes!

07.12.2012, 10:40   ---   Christmas carols and kids toys

To make it short: I got the job! Since last week I’ve been working in the shopping centre in Mackay and until Christmas I will be selling kids toys at a temporary sales stall. Once again that’s a whole different type of job and it’s also fun. Along with my lovely colleague Susanne I’m just constantly chatting along with nice customers, we play with the kids and all around us it’s Christmas time. The entire shopping centre is dressed up and decorated for Christmas, they are playing Christmas carols all day long, Santa entertains the kids in the foyer and the whole town is on the run for Christmas presents… and outside it’s the usual 35°C. Although this is already gonna be my third hot summer Christmas in a row it still doesn’t make me feel the Christmas spirit!
While standing in the shopping centre all day long watching people I noticed quite a few things that I must have always missed. There are heaps of kids everywhere, accordingly lots of pregnant women and families with at least 3 kids are nothing unusual at all – significantly different to Germany ! Also Australians seem to be a lot younger when they get kids and accordingly most grandparents are pretty young too. I remember an elderly couple that I assumed was looking for presents for their grandchildren, instead they corrected me the toys would be for the 4 great-grandchildren! Ops… ;-)
So work is pretty well sorted, since we’re working 7 days a week we sum up heaps of hours which makes good money and also the current situation of living is pretty good. Along with my colleagues Jim and Sascha and our boss Robbie (Jim and Robbie work at our second stand in the centre and Sascha does all sorts of things that come up) I live in a 4-star holiday apartment in the suburb Blacks Beach . A very relaxed and quiet place, a nice apartment, 2 pools in the resort and not even 200m from our back door to the beautiful beach!! In the beginning I felt like a little princess, getting pampered around the clock (Robbie and Jim are really nice blokes, but that was just way too much), but since Sascha move in it got heaps better. So everything’s going pretty well once again! :-)

14.12.2012, 9:45   ---   Flight to paradise

I could take last weekend off at work and took the opportunity to visit Elodie in Airlie Beach . Robbie took me to the bus after work and in the evening we already celebrated our reunion with a cider. And our hostel wasn’t all too unfamiliar… new name, new reception building, but then I stood right in the same place where I had already stayed in 2005. :-)
The next morning a clear blue sky and bright sunlight were awaiting us. Best weather for a long saught-after highlight of my trip: A flight over the Great Barrier Reef !! First we headed for the Whitsunday Islands , 74 stunning islands with white powdery beaches in the turquoise ocean, where I went for an amazing sailing trip last time. And off to the reef! The islands and the reef are about 10 flight minutes apart and then it just took our breath away, I can’t even describe how impressive it was! Sure, I’ve seen it on postcards before, but once you get there yourself you’re totally speechless. In all different forms and patterns the Great Barrier Reef stretches across the ocean, the water in the shallow lagoons is crystal clear turquoise, the dark blue natural channel along the Hardy Reef is an awesome contrast… and the highlight of the flight: Heart Reef, as one could tell by the name a heart-shaped reef inside the Hardy Lagoon. Soooo beautiful!!!!
On the way back we passed the Whitsundays once more and also swung past the famous Whitehaven Beach (purely consists of finest silica sand, that fine that it squeaks under ones feet) with its hill inlet. And way too soon the time was already over, it literally flew. ;-)
We spent the rest of the weekend by the lagoon, relaxed in the sun and Saturday night was party time of course. And after a yummi steak at Airlie’s Hoggies I went back to Mackay feeling perfectly well again (I had been fighting a bloody cold over and over again for the last 3 weeks) and totally rested.

26.12.2012, 10:00   ---   Christmas Aussie Style

The last two weeks in Mackay passed really quickly! Susanne and I were busy chatting and explaining to customers, drove countless kilometres through our stand on the Wiggle Wheels (really cool little kids vehicles) and self-explained ourselves quite a few Australian mysteries. Why are Australians so extremely fussy in terms of potential injuries? And what do Aussies buy huge bags of little styrofoam balls for? And a fair few times we were left totally speechless due to insanely stupid customer questions! One of my favourites: I explained to a customer how long a fully charged batterie of our electric scooters lasts and she seriously asked how long it would then last for if it wasn't fully charged!!
For the last week Alicia, Robbie's girlfriend also joined our little family to open a third stand in the centre, everybody was busy organising his Christmas and then we also had two days of rain, which instantly made me feel heaps more like Christmas! ;-)

And then it was Christmas Eve already, our last day at work! One last time Robbie cooked for the whole mob and the next morning everybody went his own way. I went back to Airlie Beach once again to spend Christmas with Elodie. The rain had finally cleared up and we were invited to a Christmas Party at the house of Elodie's colleague Kylie. A fun bunch of people, amazing food, the guys had caught fresh crabs, a reliable Bundy supply... what else could you want?? And last but not least the little superstar of Airlie Beach (he's the daily live-musician at Paddy's Pub) stopped by to play some music for us, so cool!

06.01.2013, 14:00   ---   Happy New Year!

I was gonna spend a relaxing Boxing Day at Airlies lagoon and around midnight a Skype date with my entire family at home was planned – too good to be true... Instead my computer decided to shut down in the morning, the screen went black and I just couldn't do anything anymore! So I skipped the lagoon and took the next bus to the shopping centre. Since Boxing Day in Australia is the ultimate sale day (it seems Aussies have nothing better to do right after Christmas but to box their way through the shops) and accordingly it was so packed that none of the computer blokes had any time at all to take a look at my misery. So I killed some time drinking coffee next door and a couple of hours later things had calmed down a fair bit and finally also the IT dudes had time to confirm that my little companion was indeed not to be rescued. :-( Yes I know, it is just a computer, but for over 2 years it had been a faithful little buddy and I was truly shocked. Oh well, luckily it was Boxing Day, so I could go straight for one of the special deals! ;-) Soon I was back in Airlie along with my brand new high-tech thingy and I reluctantly tried to get used to it. That didn't work of course, the stupid thing just never did what it should and the Christmas skyping was canceled – my mood was explosive!

For some distraction I treated myself to an awesome Christmas present though: An Aerobatics flight, basically like a roller coaster, just better! :-D Annoyingly the first booking failed, but to make up for the inconvenience the pilot rewarded me with extra flight time and some additional loopings, so not all that bad after all. :-) We flew in one of those old biplanes, sitting right in the open, put on some old-school pilot's goggles and it's an entirely different feeling of flying. And after a quick glance over the hills and islands the real fun started: Nose dive, headfirst, somersaults, rolling... freakin awesome!! :-D

And right afterwards I took off for a little road trip to Brisbane. I rented a car for 3 days to check out the area in my own pace for a bit. Those road trips all by myself are a real treat sometimes! I stopped at some stunning beaches, paid another visit to the little town of Agnes Water, cruised along the sunshine coast and the best of it all: I visited the distillery of my favourite Bundaberg Rum! :-) I took a hilariously interesting tour, tested a fair bit of Bundy and had a great day!
From Brisbane I flew straight down to Newcastle to catch up with my friend Stuart for New Years Eve. Absolutely everybody seemed to be headed for Sydney, but I just couldn't be bothered to deal with that hassle again, so Newcastle was a welcome alternative. We simply didn't do anything at all, chatted for ages, got some pizza from next door and watched a movie. Just before midnight we walked down to the harbour to watch the fireworks and despite one absolutely packed bar there wasn't much going on in Newcastle. That was probably the most relaxed New Years Eve in my life! :-)

But in the new year I did make my way to Sydney and as usual it is just great to be here. Karen (the Danish girl that I took along in my car from Cairns) is here too at the moment and we headed straight for a lovely day at Bondi Beach. Yesterday was the start for the 3 weeks lasting Sydney Festival with a sensational opening at Darling Harbour. With heaps of humour, music, aboriginal dancing and acrobatics they welcomed the giant Rubber Duck. I still haven't quite figured out what it's about with that duck, however it's pretty funny and now it sits at Darling Habour for the entire festival time. In the evening there was also a big open-air concert in the city. Aaron, the gardener from Auvergne Station, came along as well and last but not least we finished the night at O'Malleys, my old favourite pub. :-)

25.01.2013, 13:00   ---   Sydney vs. Farm

My time in Australia is slowly but steadily coming to an end and I had to decide where to spend my last 3 months: Should I stay in Sydney or head back into the countryside one last time??? After that amazing time in Nowendoc and in the Outback I had often been fairly bored by the civilised East Coast and quite fancied another bit of farm life. But Sydney was tempting, too, so eventually I stayed here. I moved to an awesome, little, social hostel in Kings Cross – the Asylum – and am now working here at the reception. I'm not gonna make massive savings with that, but I can live of it, have got my own room, I enjoy the job and the people are fantastic!
Another big advantage of living in Sydney is the opportunity to sort out certain things right here and in person instead of via phone and email. Taxes, claiming back my superannuation, several banking issues... indeed there's a lot to do before heading off to the final leg of my trip. It feels a little bit like two years ago when I left home. Also I spent uncountable hours already to figure out where I wanna go, checking flights, comparing prices... and the familiar annoyance with all those visa regulations. First things are sorted now, on April 3rd I am flying to Fiji! :-) Afterwards I'm moving on to a long-sought after reunion with my Egypt-buddy Nathan in Hawaii before meeting my brother and two cousins for a road trip in the USA!
Otherwise not much has happened in the meantime. We had to cope with some extreme heat waves of about 45 degrees (though they always just lasted for about a day despite different worldwide news), instantly followed by a temperature drop of 25 degrees... One wouldn't believe how cold 20 degrees can suddenly feel!

08.02.2013, 22:30   ---   Australia Day

It has already been nearly two weeks again, but January 26th was Australia Day and that gets celebrated big time over here! My friend Karen-Maria was just back in Sydney and we strolled through the city together. Everybody seemed to be out to celebrate this big day together, wrapped in Aussie flags from head to toe and mingling with the masses or spent the day typically Australian with picnic, BBQ and cricket in the parks. Hundreds of Old-timer cars were on display in the city, they had kids entertainment, concerts, DJs, the Tall Ships (huge sailing ships like those in a pirates movie) sailed a little regatta in the harbour... Absolutely impressive to see and feel this spirit of community, belonging and national pride, us Germans should seriously take this as an example!
But that was not everything yet: We spent the evening along with thousands of others in Darling Harbour for the Grand Finale, where this incredible day finished with some spectacular fireworks! And as we all know Sydney is the master of fireworks! A pontoon in the middle of Cockle Bay and several symmetrically anchored boats were the base for the action and after the National Anthem followed a 20 minute light- laser- and fireworks-show, perfectly set to the music – absolutely breathtaking!!

Also the last two weeks have been full of great people to catch up with! George, the farmer from Nowendoc where I had been working and living for 3 months early last year, had some business to do in Sydney and we had tons of things to chat about! Right afterwards I caught up with Elodie once again before she headed home last week, my Broome room-mate Anna turned up totally unexpectedly and also someone from home: Eileen, the sister of my friend Nadine, stopped by during her travels with her boyfriend. Last but not least Hughie, the chopper pilot from Auvergne Station, came to Sydney. We spent the afternoon at a bar with a stunning view over Bondi Beach, later Hugh got a guided tour through Sydney's famous red-light-district Kings Cross and the night ended at O'Malleys along with the entire Asylum mob. A brilliant day with a not so brilliant following morning, which I spent back at the reception from 7am... but at least my boss has got a big understanding for long party nights and was pretty amused. ;-)

08.03.2013, 13:30   ---   Crazy hostel life

Eventually I gave up the hunt for a second job (it just seems fairly hopeless with a soon expiring visa) and instead I just focused completely on the party life at Asylum! Since then my life consists of working partying, sleeping, working, partying, working... with more or less sleep in between party and work and way too many hungover morning shifts! But there's just always a reason to party... In a hostel it's always someone's last night, or someone's got a new job, a last day at work or with a little bit of luck there might even be a birthday. ;-) Right now there's an amazing bunch of people here, too, and it just never gets boring, even at work. And whenever someone sneaks up to the reception with the words “Dani I think I need your help...“ it normally gets quite funny! :-D Here just some of my favourites of the last weeks:

- “Look, I've got a tattoo! I've rubbed it, it's real!“
- our always happy party-photo-face Owen left Asylum, cause he partied too much to find work. Two days later he met us out for a drink and with no resistance at all he got convinced to come back – next morning he moved back in!
- Evan managed to drop his keys inside the bed post of his bunk bed, where it got stuck somewhere half way down instead of falling all the way through. His attempts to explain how that could happen failed terribly!
- One of our English mates enjoyed himself with a female companion in the common room one night. When the returning party crowd tried to interrupt by shouting and knocking from outside the unlocked window accidentally got pushed open and he just happily waved at everybody before shutting the window and getting back to business. The cheering from outside followed a noise complaint of the neighbours the next day.

But we're not just partying and hanging out at the hostel. Marlene, with whom I lived in Darwin at Greg's place for a while, just got back to Australia and we spent her birthday at Bondi. Also my friend Lisa was in Sydney for 3 days, I showed her around the city and it was just great to have someone from home around me for a bit!
Also the last weeks were the time of the big parades! Sydney's got a large Chinese population and accordingly the Chinese New Year turns into a massive celebration. Over 2 hours the big Twilight Parade took it's way through the city. Heaps of the floats we're extremely colourful with huge snakes (it's the year of the snake) and typically Chinese, really cool! Others instead were disappointingly lame though, the participants seemed rather unmotivated and I still don't quite get how a bunch of cowboys belong into a Chinese parade.
For the last two weeks it was Mardi Gras in Sydney, Australia's biggest gay and lesbian festival, with the famous Mardi Gras Parade on the last weekend. We were not gonna miss that and with the entire hostel crowd we went down to Oxford Street. The atmosphere was incredible and the parade absolutely brilliant!! Lots and lots of colours, rainbows, short and tight outfits and all the participants spread an incredible energy and party groove that the Chinese could only dream of!!

20.03.2013, 23:00   ---   It's about time to leave

The second last weekend I scored a casual job, which was as a pizza maker and vendor at the Top Gear Festival. Top Gear is an English motor sport TV show, so everything was just about super fast cars and also Jeremy Clarkson and James May, two of the presenters of the original English show, were there. So for two days I sold pizza, literally stood right by the main race course all day long and meanwhile followed the festival. Heaps of car races, drag races, motorbike stunt shows, Stig's powerlaps, car football, noisy engines, smoking tyres... and the highlight was a race between Mark Webber in his F1 car, motorbike champion Casey Stoner and Jamie Whincup in the V8 Supercar. Webber unsurprisingly won the race and by the end of the day I was nearly deaf. ;-)

After that things went down a bit for me. Tomorrow the Sydney Royal Easter Show starts, a huge agricultural show and funfair, and I was supposed to work for those kids toys tradesmen again. That meant heaps of paid hours, accordingly lots of money and also free accommodation right at the showground. That was even the only reason for me to stay until the very end of my visa. Annoyingly this is not gonna happen now and I am more or less without a secure job... well, through my friend Owen from the hostel I just got another job in a restaurant there, but in terms of hours and therefore also money it won't be anywhere near as good as the other one.
And as if that wasn't enough it seems everybody is leaving Asylum now... Kev went back home on Sunday, Hannah and Shaun moved into their apartment yesterday, earlier today my best friend Crissy took off to go to the Outback... All those people that had been here with me for the last two months are suddenly leaving at the same time! :-( That makes it yet more annoying that I didn't get that job, cause in that case I would have moved out now myself... well, I guess there's nothing I could do about it, in two weeks I'm off to Fiji!!

30.03.2013, 23:30   ---   Sydney Royal Easter Show

I'm loving my new job at the Royal Easter Show, it couldn't have worked out any better! The restaurant which I was gonna work for advised me to finish my RSA course (Responsible Service of Alcohol), so that I would be legally allowed to serve alcohol. I spent an entire morning on it, but in the end it got me a job at the restaurant's bar, easily the best job in the whole place!!! Working with my colleague Iain is heaps of fun, on busy days Mary Rose helps out too, we're a great team, don't have to run as ridiculously much as the food runners, while not just standing in one spot as the cashiers either and the best treat on the hot days is refilling the fridges and ice buckets. :-) The whole atmosphere is overall fantastic, everybody's highly motivated and enjoying the show, after work we often have a few drinks together, the bosses are really nice too... I am indeed really glad now that the other job didn’t work out! It's hard work indeed, but a lot of fun at the same time!
Before work and during my lunch break I often take the chance to have a look around the show. It's a mix of an agricultural show and a funfair at Sydney's Olympic Park. It's the biggest show of it's kind in the entire southern hemisphere! It's got heaps of fun rides, carousels, roller-coasters and the like, Australians are absolutely crazy about their so-called showbags and of course there are lots of animals around! All day long there are cattle judging shows, also horses, sheep, chucks, alpacas and dogs get judged, it's got a large range of horse riding competitions from classic dressage and show-jumping (which unfortunately are rather lame in Australia) to cowboy competitions (campdrafting, cutting...) and Polo, also sheep-shearing competitions, in the milking barn visitors can have a go on dairy cows... and the strangest but funniest thing are the racing and diving pigs!! Simply their attraction to food makes them race around the little arena and jump off a platform into a pool, absolutely hilarious! And after such a long time in Sydney and at the East Coast it feels so good to have so many country people around me again. They are just so wonderfully different to the city people, down-to-earth and laid-back and when they make their way to the bar in the evenings work is especially enjoyable!

Meanwhile at Asylum there's not much happening any more since so many people left us and because we (Owen, Isabelle, Maryne, Jay and Simon also work at the show) are at work so much we hardly ever get to meet the new people. But at least we've got each other and a few others and luckily we're not even around much. ;-) Haha and for quite a few days there was a rumour going around that I had quietly left the hostel! When I was still working there I was pretty much always around and out with everybody at night. Since the show started I am normally gone by the time the party crowd gets up and especially the first days I was so nacked after work (after 2,5 years in flip flops my feet just can't stand closed shoes anymore, especially not for 10+ hours of running around non-stop) that I went straight to bed. A couple of days later 8 people (no kidding!) greeted me on different occasions with „you're still here???“ As if I would just leave without a word... :-P


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