A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: barney2186

A very different Christmas and New Year

Been in Melbourne now for just over three weeks now, and it's a little bit weird, because on one hand it feels like the time (not to mention the money) has flown by and like it hasn't been that long, on the other hand with how familiar and comfortable I am with St Kilda it feels like I have been here all my life. That is not to say that I don't feel like I stick out like a sore thumb amongst the hipsters and cool people that litter the bars, streets and beaches of this place, but it really is a great place to live. I really love the feel of this part of Melbourne, it is so laid back and with an endless supply of cool bars, the beautiful beach and the city so easily accessible this really feels like the place to be in Melbourne. The city of Melbourne itself also has a very different feel compared to Sydney for example, again it just feels a lot more laid back and chilled out, there is still the hustle and bustle that comes with been in a big city but it doesn't seem as frenetic.

As far as Christmases go, I have to say that this has been one of my strangest. My first one away from home so it no real surprise and it was to be expected I guess with travelling, but it just never felt like Christmas. It seems impossible to get into the Christmas spirit in such a hot climate and whilst I did my best to get in the spirit it just wasn't happening, even watching Elf didn't help!! Don't want to complain too much, as I wouldn't swap my experiences while travelling for the world, just giving my point of view on the matter. Christmas day was spent on the beach with a few cold ones, as seemed only appropriate given my location, and it was definitely a fun day spent with a few friends just hanging out and enjoying the sun. What more can you wish for when your away from your family and friends, and I did manage to speak to the guys back home on the day so that was nice. The definite highlight of the Christmas period was the two days I spent at the Boxing Day test, this was just one of those experiences that I felt I had to do (being a Yorkshire lad) and it was every bit as iconic and spectacular as I could have hoped for. Been there for the opening ball of a Boxing Day test is something I will never forget. I had visited the stadium from the outside the previous Friday, but to see it from the inside it seemed almost Colosseum like and as I looked round this massive arena awaiting the action to start I had goose bumps, although this could have been to do in part with been in the shade with the breeze blowing. When the action started I got to witness the noisy and excitable Indian cricket supporters and the brilliant atmosphere they bring, especially given an early wicket to celebrate. I have to say the action did not disappoint with both teams putting on a show, but it was just brilliant to take in the whole atmosphere of both the days of test cricket with the raucous Australian section of the crowd providing constant entertainment, the different vantage points that you can take up throughout the ground giving impressive views and the grassy surrounding areas of the ground which at lunch came to life with lots of people playing cricket or sitting having lunch. Like I say these were days not to be forgotten in a hurry!

New year's eve was another very different experience with the massive fireworks display that lit up the Melbourne skyline providing a much I needed change to the normally quiet night I have back home. They put on quite a spectacular show, with the impressive city playing centre stage, It was great walking around the closed off streets of the CBD and seeing everyone in such high spirits, and it was impossible not to be excited about the coming of a new year. I stood on the bridge over the Yarra River and watched massive fireworks explode from the top of huge skyscrapers, and I couldn't help but feel like a little kid as it's just not what I am used to and again it was something that I will cherish all my life. Having said all that I watched the Sydney display on the big screen at Federation Square the next day and it seemed to kick Melbourne's arse, so think that may be where I spend my next new years out here.

So looking back this festive period has been different, definitely not bad, just different I guess! But now I am looking forward to delving deeper into what this brilliant city has to offer, exploring more of the suburbs, getting stuck into the attractions and taking in all the events that this sporting city can throw at me, with the tennis looming large on the calendar and a must see. After all not often you get these types of opportunities. I hope 2015 will be every bit as exciting as 2014 was. If it is even half as good it will be amazing and I can't wait for it!!

Steve

Posted by barney2186 17:15 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Finally time to leave!! Officially Outisfail!!!

After a long wait for that elusive permanent farm job and the blur of 5 day working weeks that ensued, not to mention the weekends that were a blur all of their own, the day finally came last Thursday to leave Innisfail and the place that I had called home for the last 20 weeks of my life and I have to say it felt weirder than I had anticipated. Don't get me wrong it felt absolutely brilliant to know that my farm work was done and it had all been worthwhile as my Second Working Holiday Visa is in the bag, but because of the tight knit feel of the hostel it felt strange to be leaving such good friends behind. I can honestly say that it was one of the best times of my life, and it felt like another little family. At the hostel you would hang out with and be around people you probably never would back home, which is largely true of traveling in general, but there because you are all in the same boat you form such strong bonds with these guys, and they form much quicker, perhaps over the course of a drunken weekend or a night at Rumors, and so come to miss them when they move on.

So what of this job that I had waited so long for I hear you ask? Well I could not have wished to be on a better farm, Locke Investments is such a well run family business and the farmer himself is genuinely one of the nicest guys I have ever met and I can not thank him enough. His laid back approach to managing the staff and allowing them to just get on with their given task, without feeling like they were being micro managed or screamed at to work harder, definitely worked. It would however be remiss to think that this was borne out of laziness or not taking an interest as this could not be further from the truth, as Barry Locke was a farmer who was across every facet of his farm, from helping with the dipping or packing of the bananas to assisting with the more physical tasks like stacking and even humping. It was so good to see, as lots of other farms employ managers, who have probably never been out to the paddocks and look solely after the shed. My role on the farm was stacking and this was more like a warehouse job to be honest, as it involved building pallets of boxes, its just that it so happened the boxes were filled with bananas. The work was hard at times, but as I said before it was all worth it for the second year visa, not to mention the fact it got me in the best shape I have been since I don't even know when. At times I hated the job but ultimately I look back on the time on the farm as a good time.

It was the fact that I landed this great job that afforded me the financial comfort (which was rare at the hostel) to enjoy three of the best weekends while I was there at the hostel and possibly my life, and these all came three consecutive weekends in October, each one being brilliant in its own unique way and for what they represented. One was camping on Mission Beach with all the guys from the hostel which was the typical Australian experience you dream about before coming here, one which gave a little taste of back home was visiting Innisfail races and one for being probably a once in a lifetime opportunity was the weekend I visited Sydney to see Elbow.

The trip to Mission Beach was unbelievable, and made all the better for the fact that so many people from the hostel went along and all got down there early and had such a laugh on the beach. Although I was unable to spend all day on the beach owing to the fact that me and about 20 of the guys were there for something above and beyond just camping on the beach.....Literally. We were there to skydive and land on the beach itself! This was as you can imagine AMAZING!! I would probably run out of words to describe the skydive itself, as it was just so brilliant. Climbing through the sky in the plane gave us some truly breathtaking sights of the beach and some of the surrounding islands, this was a good thing just to take any last minute nerves away. The jump gave me such a buzz and the fact everyone from the hostel was waiting on the beach where we landed made it such a good feeling. Then we all camped out for the night and it was really funny to see all the same cheap tents that everyone had bought from K Mart all lined up on the beach, we had a fire to sit round and so just sat out under the stars and had such a laugh. It was just perfectly Australian. The weekend at the races was just as fun as it ever is back home but once again made even better by the fact that everyone from the hostel had got so into it, put on their best clobber and had a good if not very loud day out at the races. It wasn't exactly the St Ledger but it was every bit as enjoyable, and I actually backed a winner, so all good. The hostel antics were in full force, with the singing and drinking making us less than popular with the security staff, but it was all just in good fun. Finally my little weekend away to Sydney was so brilliant, it felt like I was a jet-setter just nipping somewhere on the plane for a weekend, ha ha. It felt weird to be back in a big city again after being in Innisfail so long, but instantly felt familiar again. It was good to catch up with some good friends both from the swagman and the walkabout, to visit the old stomping ground of kings cross for a night and have a day over at Manly beach but the main event was obviously the gig. I got to see one of my favourite bands in a setting that I never thought I would and also don't think I'll ever get to see again, Elbow in the Sydney Opera House. What can I say about this, the show was soooooo good and the Opera House provided a surprisingly small intimate setting to listen to great music. Guy Garvey proved once again why he is one of the best front men, with his story telling and interaction with the crowd. It was perfect and all things considered the best gig I have ever been to I reckon. The sights from the balcony out the back of the Opera house over the harbour were another added bonus as well.

I should probably just mention my last weekend in Innisfail as well, as this would probably sum up the craziness of the place. The weekends were always the best times and especially when something was organised by someone. This last weekend it was the turn of the brothers and F4 to arrange a beach party and everything was going so well with a BBQ and the drink flowing, until a huge storm turned it into a bit of a surreal time. Only at the walkabout could you go from a beach party to a "cyclone" party in a matter of minutes. It did with it though bring some pretty good laughs as we all took to slip and slide, "played football" in the pissing rain and watched the hundreds of lightning strikes. This led to an even more surreal thing, as the power cut that followed plunged the hostel into darkness. All good fun, just very weird but what else should I have expected from my last weekend there.

All in all the experience has been so good for me, I feel I have definitely changed for the better and I thank everyone who played a part in making it such an awesome time. But now it is time to see what Melbourne is like! Looking forward to another new adventure.

Steve

Posted by barney2186 12:10 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Time to put the work in working visa!

A couple of weeks ago I got my first taste of work in Australia and more to the point my first experience of a banana farm, and it definitely was a welcome change from hanging around the hostel. It actually felt surprisingly great to have to get out of bed on a freezing morning (yes you heard me right) at 5am to get ready for work. Somehow the first couple of days seemed to be both brilliant and mind numbing all at the same time. This I think owed largely to the job I was given and its tedious and repetitive nature. I was the tractor driver and my role was really just to drive in a straight line through the trams of bananas, in first gear and use the biting point to keep up with the people who were picking the bananas in order for the trailer to be within walking distance, which as I say was a little boring at times. But again it was also something that was a brilliant experience, as I never thought I would be driving these old beaten up tractors in the beautiful weather of north Australia. Sounds strange I know and perhaps a tad pathetic, but when am I ever going to have that opportunity again. The days were occasionally broken up by some of the other tasks around the farm, such as hanging the bananas in the shed or getting rid of the empty storks of the bananas, but all just as laborious as the next. I don't want to give off the impression that I am complaining or that I didn't enjoy it at all, as that would be untrue. As I said earlier it was a welcome change from days at the hostel, but more than this was the brilliant weather showing off the amazing landscapes of the farm and the surrounding areas that I was able to admire and appreciate on the journeys backs to the shed perched on the back of the trailer. This was really great thinking time and just time to sit back and take in the amazing journey I am on. There were also some really fun times when Ricky the guy who drove the tractor to the correct paddock decided to absolutely gun it around the farm and bounce me and the other guy on the trailer up and down like rag dolls, but it was hilarious!

Unfortunately that job seemed to be only filling in for someone else and so my second bite at work came this past week in the form of banana picking or more accurately banana humping to give it its proper name and wow was this a physically demanding job. I was constantly on the go, carrying sometimes quite large bunches to the trailer, but again it was so enjoyable and felt good to be so active and another experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Its also good that I can say that I have done it, as I would have hated to have left having worked on a banana farm and not done humping. It also gave me a lot of respect for the people who are self cutters, and that is nothing to do with teenage emo kids, but just the people who both cut the bunch and then carry it to the trailer, as I was just the latter. Think if I did it I would probably cut my head off!

It has not been all work and no play though, with my birthday weekend coming just after my first two days on the farm. I must say that I am not really one for celebrating my birthday in any big way, but this was an amazing weekend and the best birthday weekend I could wish for. The actual day was brilliant with a nice cooked lunch from someone at the hostel, everyone wishing me happy birthday as I walked round the place, the birthday cake my mate made for me and of course the usual Thursday night antics turned up a notch or two. A surprisingly good thing about it was all the people back home on Facebook all wishing me happy birthday, it felt good that people were thinking of me all the way over here and meant a lot. Sunday was another highlight of the weekend, with an impromptu visit to some of the waterfalls of the surrounding area with some of the guys from the hostel. We headed out to Babinda Boulders and Josephine Falls, had a barbecue, swam in the lakes, went down the rock slide and generally had a great day out of the hostel. It was every bit as much fun as the Uncle Brian day, but with a little bit more danger thrown in perhaps. Then yesterday there was also the mini festival that was organised at the hostel complete with tents, wristbands, face painting and of course BEER! It was an absolute riot, as everyone really got into the spirit and made it feel like the festival vibe. The back of E block had been kitted out like a poor mans park stage at Glastonbury, and everyone was loving it. There was that feeling that anything could happen, which is the way it should be. It was good to be doing something different, whilst so inscrutably same as ever.

The fact that I am still waiting for that ever elusive permanent farm job is beginning to give me itchy feet now and the feeling that moving on may be the way forward, but will have to see what this week brings and it will be the things that I described in the last paragraph that would make it a difficult decision to make to move on as it is so much fun here. Got to look after number one though and I will have to bear that in mind.

Keep you posted!

Steve

Posted by barney2186 17:37 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Never thought I'd wind up here

So, I've been here at the working hostel for two weeks now, and I've honestly got to say that I never thought that in my life I would be in a little place called Innisfail, but needs must in the pursuit of my second working holiday visa. Only one thing missing now, and that's farm work. It's a little bit of a waiting game at the minute, but hoping something should come my way soon, as I really am looking forward to starting work now, more for my sanity than anything else, as Innisfail is such a small and quiet town, with not much to do and it can get a little tedious at the hostel when everyone has gone to work.

Having said this about the hostel it really is a brilliant place, with a very different kind of feel to any of the hostels I have been in previously. It feels a lot more like a little community rather than a hostel, with such friendly people who are all in the same boat, a wide open grassed area in the middle separating the brightly coloured buildings where the dorms are and the endless amounts of space surrounding the whole place. If you want to be on your own and have time to yourself there is room to do this, but the fact that there is the large central area makes it easy to mingle and hang out with everyone who is knocking about, not to mention provides ample opportunity for numerous sporting activities. The social aspect of the place is something that is really refreshing and was something that was present from the very first day here. Me and my mate Sam arrived on a Thursday, which is the real party night, and we were made to feel so welcome from this first day with people really making an effort to ask who we were and introduce themselves, with the alcohol based antics acting as a nice ice breaker. The first few days were so much fun, with a trip to the local pool with the guys from the hostel, and just generally enjoying the amazing weather that we were treated to. It was a really lively first weekend here at the Walkabout (yes I know). But then I definitely got to see the other side to the place we are staying, firstly in the quieter nature of the hostel both in the day when there are few people around and lots of time to kill, but also in the more relaxed evenings with people keeping fairly low key ahead of another hard day at work. I also saw the extreme nature of the weather up here, as Innisfail sure has shown its teeth over the last week and a bit with so much rain falling, making it even harder to pass the days by getting out and about. I guess this is to be expected from the tropical north of Australia, with huge swings from blazing sun to heavy downpours.

The fact that work has been slow in coming, and the days have been spent largely kicking back at the hostel has had certain plus points, one of which been the way that it has helped to forge stronger friendships with the other people who are left back at the hostel awaiting work also, and I have enjoyed been part of this little tight knit group, even if the things we have been able to do being quite limited. Another benefit is the need to fill time by keeping as active as possible has seen me take to the gym, going running and boxing training with a guy from Estonia, all of which I am hoping when mixed with the rigours of work should lead to a lot healthier Steve.

One last thought brings me back to the remote nature of the place where I am, with the small town feel of Innisfail being quite different even from Cairns, but because it is out in the sticks as it were it means that the sky can put on quite an impressive show on a clear night with the stars appearing so vivid and there was also the 'super' moon that was such an amazing sight. It is also unbelievable just how much noise there is out here on a night, the sound of wildlife can be almost deafening. All this combined shows you a side to Australia that you just don't get in the cities, and for this reason I supose this change has been a welcome one. Would just be better if I had work!

This may be the point where my posts start to slow down, as once I do get work I don't think people will want to here about this for the next few months, but the posts will be back when I am back on the road and doing some more exciting things.

Steve

Posted by barney2186 12:42 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Best Day So Far!!!

After a few very similar days on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday last week, which largely consisted of strolling round the harbour and grabbing a few afternoon drinks in the amazing weather, Thursday came as a breath of fresh air and did go to prove that getting out of Cairns is what you need to do. It has to be said that this was not only my best day since coming to Cairns, but I would go as far as to say of the whole trip so far as I ventured out on a tour called Uncle Brian's Fun, Falls and Forest. What an experience this was! The whole day, even the travelling was just so enjoyable, not to mention the beautiful places we visited along the way. Once again it was one of those where the pictures taken probably won't do it justice.

The day was made by the two guides we had, Cousin Brad, who was a very zaney character for want of a better expression, but even more so the day was made what it was by the person who drove the bus I was on, Cousin Sid! From the very start of the day to the very end this giant of a man was super laid back, telling us stories and regailing us with facts about the area he was taking us around. He was so insightful and knowledgable, it really was impressive the depth of knowledge he had. He made the trip so enjoyable on the bus by having us play stupid games and also by the soundtrack he provided throughout the day. I've got to say driving around in the bus getting to see the sights roll past, with the perfect blend of music playing was every bit a part of it as the lakes we jumped in and the waterfalls we swam under along the way. I would recommend this trip to anyone and everyone!

The day started with a drive out to Babinda Boulders, with a quick stop off to see some wallabies in Whiterock. Once we got to Babinda and after a brief walk through the rainforest and looking out over the rocks it was time for the first dip of the day and man was it cold when you jumped in! It was however very refreshing and kicked any remenence of a hangover I may or may not have had firmly into touch. The weather definitely showed us that there is a reason why it is called RAINforest, as there was a slight downpour during our swim. But it was all good and probably should not have come as a surprise given the fact that Cousin Sid imparted on us when we were back on the bus. This was that Babinda is the current holder of the Golden Gumboot (Wellington), which can be seen pride of place in the township's post office and is recieved for the wettest place in Australia.

After Babinda we winded our way past the two tallest mountains in Queensland, both of whose names escape me right now (not that I could spell them anyway, ha ha) and onto Josephine Falls, which was absolutely brilliant. After another short walk through the rainforest and some slightly scary stories about the stinging tree (look it up) we went for another little swim, in a really picturesque little spot. However this came with the added bonus of a rock waterslide that was soooooooo much fun! A brief climb further up to get some pictures of the fall and it was time to jump back on the bus, and upto the Atherton Tablelands, which provided some even more beautiful views out over the lush green countryside.

Once we had stopped to fill our guts it was onto the waterfall of Millaa Millaa, which apparantly is a very famous waterfall. I'll give you a clue one of Britain's most famous music imports from Oz filmed there....No not Rolf! Yes that's right it was the setting for the Mysterious Girl video, not only this but the setting for an advert by a certain shampoo brand. This lead to the great fun of us having photos taken doing the hair flick a la Herbal Essences. Looking at it mine was not so great shall we say, ha ha. All part of it! We also swam under the waterfall, for a slight massage and then sat on the rocks looking out, which made the fact that this was the coldest swim of the day a little more enjoyable. Plus we had the warmest swim of the day to come. So following a brief spot of platypus spotting, where I actually briefly caught a glimpse of one, it was onto a lake that was created by volcanic movements meaning the water temperature was slightly higher (emphasis on the slightly) where we took to the trees and threw ourselves in to join the fish and turtles that lived in the water. Again this was just so much fun! This rounded the day off really well and it was a shame the day had to come to an end, but as Sid said "Don't be sad it's over, just be glad it happened" which really is so true.

Another good part of the trip is that because you are doing it in a group, as you could do this in a car by yourself, it was good to meet so many new people and interact with them in this way and then get to talk through it all back at the hostel over a few beers as we did.

On Friday I got to see Cairns in a different light (literally), as although I had spent quite a lot of time at the esplanade and harbour I had never been there in the evening, so after a decidedly lazy day I headed out quite late for a stroll and this proved to be a very good choice, as the harbour and surrounds provides some pretty special sights, with the sun setting over the mountains and reflecting on the water as the tide rolled in. Not only this but the trees that line the park down by the front are all lit up in a multitude of colours and the park is still so alive even at this time with people barbecuing and having a good time, it was really nice to see! Saturday it was also refreshing to see how the parks become a real hive of activity and people really do make the most of the sun and there Saturdays off to use the lagoon and barbecues to full affect. I was also treated to a festival to celebrate the indigenous people of Australia, which was a really good show with various different Aboriginal dance acts and a few different bands. It really was good to just sit in the sun and take this event in.

It's time to be on the move again tomorrow, onto Innisfail to a working hostel to wait for work to come in. This will come as a welcome change following a few less active days thanks mainly to the rubbish weather over the last couple of days. Next stop farm work! Can't wait!

Steve

Posted by barney2186 13:26 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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