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Being Unemployed and Homeless

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Thats all folks....

So first things first, we're back in Blighty!

Being back now makes it seem like it hasn't happened so this will probably be the hardest blog of all to write but here goes.

We flew from Auckland to Sydney to get our connecting flight to Hong Kong and it seemed pretty apt that after such a long time in Australia we should be piloted by Captain Cook to start our journey home!! Arriving in Hong Kong we checked into the nice hotel we'd decided to book and crashed out. It's difficult to describe Hong Kong, it's what I'd call organised chaos. People are everywhere and always in a rush to get where they're going. The smog is constant (like many Asian cities I've been to) as is the humidity. However, strangely it really appeals to me but doesn't to Kate.

So the first thing we did the day after we arrived (as you do with Kate) is go and eat! We went for Yum Cha, which is bascially lots of different types of Dim Sum with Chinese Tea on the side. Delicious. There are so many different types and they are like lead in your stomach, you really do not need to eat for the entire day if you go for yum cha! But actually, during the week we did find it difficult to find Chinese restaurants, it was truly international dining. As for sightseeing we didn't do loads (arguably cos there isn't that much to do unless you're heavily into architecture) but did visit several lookout points and a couple of islands as well as watching the famous light show one evening. I don't think you really go to Hong Kong for sightseeing, especially when you have just left the beauty of New Zealand and Australia is still in your memories! The majority of our time was spent in shopping malls where we filled our bags with a new wardrobe for a fraction of the English cost. We did get some education in Hong Kong though as we are now graduates of the Wing Wah school of Chinese Baking where we went for a cake making class and made Wife Cakes and Egg Rolls. It was all very amusing even if truth be told the only 'cooking' we did was rolling dough into small circular shapes. How strange to 'graduate' from a 45 minute lesson!!

So, after only about two hours sleep on our final night because of excitement we headed for the airport and the 13 hour flight home. The flight was fine (the baby that we immediately clocked in the seat next to us was an angel the entire flight - thank heavens!!) but when we landed we did have to spend an hour on the tarmac at Heathrow waiting for a parking space because the airport was so busy. It was a bit annoying but what was another hour on 15 months, eh? Although, I think our parents may say something differently!! We came through into the arrivals hall for an emotional reunion with our parents. It was sooooooo good to see them after all this time. And there we were back at parents houses before we knew it. Since then we've just been chilling and catching up with families so we're looking forward to seeing the rest of you as soon as we can.

We'd like to just say a great big thanks to everyone for your emails/texts/cards/letters/phonecalls and support while we've been away you don't know what a difference it makes when you're so far away from everything you know. Especially at the times when we were down that you guys probably don't realise we've had.

Also a big hello and thanks to everyone that we've met along the way, you helped make our travels brilliant and we are constantly telling stories about you all to our friends back here. Please do keep in touch.

So here we are after 15 months of exciting, amazing, hard, enjoyable, tiring and inspiring working and travelling, back in England beginning to start the real hard work of fitting back into normality (which we have been craving) starting with finding jobs. Watch this space for where we end up.

We hope you've enjoyed hearing about our travels on this blog and don't forget to keep popping back just in case something else gets put on here!

Take care all

Rich and Kate

Sunday, April 08, 2007

North of The Border

Hey People,

Well here it is, the trip of the North Island. We did this in around 2 and half weeks, so much faster than the South, but there's less to see and the scenery is nowhere near as stunning. But a fab time was had, as always and here goes.

So, we started off in the capital city of Wellington, which seems to be a really nice city. We only stayed a couple of nights and did suffer with capital fever. It's been so long since we've been in a real city and we did get a bit of fever. Slightly nervous about being in a big place and a little out of sorts, so we scarpered quick enough!

And how many of you have heard of Waipukarau? And can you say it?! Well, anyway, that's where my Grannies sister and her husband live, I guess some of you will remember my Grannie came over this way to visit them in October when my parents came to see us. Well, anyway we stopped in to visit them and to catch up a bit. They left Scotland 40 years ago (to the week we were there!) in a 30 seater plane which took them three days!!! They had three kids in tow and apparently they were the only ones who weren't sick on the plane!! Oh dear God indeed! It was great to see them and for Rich to meet them, and to see where they are living.

We then headed up for a quick trip to Napier - the Art Deco city. But we were only there for a few hours before heading over towards Whakapapa (pronounced Fucapapa - "Wha" in Maori is "Fuc", for those who are interested) where we mastered the Tongariro Crossing. This is a 17km walk over and between the Ngauruhoe and Tongariro volcanoes. Said to be one of the worlds best day walks with spectacular views. So we set off all merry at 7 am thinking this will take some doing.....and it did! Unfortunately for us, around three hours in and 1900m above sea level, the weather turned and just as we reached the top the cloud came in and it started persisting it down! Persisting and persisting and sleeting! We couldn't see a darn thing and were soaked through two jumpers, a t-shirt and a rain coat - each. It was 7 degrees halfway down when we finally ate our sandwiches feeling mighty miserable and unimpressed by the Germans singing happily around us. It was at this point that I noticed my fingers had turned to fat sausages and it really would be a good thing to get a move on. So, onwards we went. Well, aimed to, we couldn't move so fast after a twenty minute lunch stop as the old joints and bones had all seized up. Anyway, we made it down to the bottom in time to wait an hour (!) for the bus to come and collect us (yes still soaked and by this time freezing). I won't even mention the issue with down hills and knees, that still bloody well hurt, 3 weeks later. But yes we did indeed conquer the Tongariro Crossing - one of the greatest walks in the world! Hooray indeed.

So the rain didn't stop for three days after this as we whistled through Taupo. A good sight was the Huka falls which are not high but have so much water going through them that they provide 45% of the North Island electricity needs. Two silly people kayaked them a few years ago, at 50% survival rate, that's one they can keep. The rain still kept coming as we arrived into Rotorua, another volcanic area that smells mighty like sulphur, although we have it on good authority that the smell was left by some fairly recent visitors of ours! No comment from me. When it finally stopped raining, we visited a Thermal Wonderland where we saw boiling and bubbling mud pools, sulphur pools, geysers and caves of sulphur. It was a pretty amazing place and looks how you might imagine the moon to look. Everywhere in this town smells of sulphur (even the washing machines!) and there is steam coming out of the ground all over the show. I don't think I'd feel safe living there but there you go. We also went to visit the Buried Village which was buried by a volcanic eruption in the late 1800's and has since been excavated. Interesting bit of history and all the more reason not to buy a house there.

The sun finally started to shine and we had a couple of lazy days getting a last few rays. In the Coromandel Peninsular we found a beach called Hot Water Beach. An experience that should be had! So, the trick is arrive at the beach two hours either side of low tide, rent a spade and dig for your life amongst all the other tourists. Try not to look at the successful ones with too much envy and keep on digging. But if you look slightly too sad and useless the successful ones will come to your aid! So, what you find is hot water under the sand and if you get the balance of this and sea water coming in just right, you've got yourself a cracking little bath! So, that's where we were sitting for hours on end last Tuesday! Cathedral Cave is also worth a look, but not if you've a Tongariro Knee.....

The Bay of Islands was pretty much our last stop in the campervan and as soon as we arrived in Paihia, the main town, yes did the rain start. We had planned a boat trip out into the Bay, but meekly postponed it cos we couldn't face getting wet again. But still the next day was beautiful and we went out on an ultra fast "Excitor" boat and listened to "happening" music all the way around. We only looked on to the divers with a little envy and were happy listening to Barry White as we cruised around the nicest cove in the Bay.

We are now in Auckland and the campervan has gone (with 5945km more on the clock) . But we're not sad, we're all good. It's getting near to hometime and we're extremely happy with what we've seen and done in New Zealand. Thank you all for your encouraging messages, we did indeed manage to summon up some enthusiasm for the last couple of weeks.

Hong Kong is calling now. We leave New Zealand on Tuesday and head back towards the Northern Hemisphere. Time is ticking pretty fast now and it's actually hard to believe we'll be home so soon. Wow, what a year.......

See ya oh so sooooooonnnn!

Kate and Rich xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (grinning!)

Friday, March 23, 2007

More South Island, More!

Well now folks, here we are again.

So we picked up our campervan, though we did end up waiting an extra day so that we could get the newer 'deluxe' model that comes complete with hot water, a hoover and a fan heater! Woooooohoooooo I hear you cry. Basically it's miles better than the one we had in Oz, partly cos of the above and partly because there just seems to be more room and everything is arranged better. However, after 2 weeks or so the novelty has started to wear off and it is annoying having to take everything out of the cupboard to get at the kettle etc.

So here's a quick rundown of our route around the South Island since we left Laura and Phil. First we headed to the Banks Peninsular and went to Akaroa which started as a little French settlement, it's a pretty little place but there isn't a great deal there. We then went off to Mt Cook which is amazing, the lakes around it are amazing too and huge! We did some walks around here which were cool and of course the blue sky helped. Didn't quite conquer the peak mind, but what does that matter between friends eh?

From Mt Cook we headed via Oamaru to Dunedin and the Otago Peninsular where we saw some of the rarest Penguins in the world - Yellow Eyed Penguins. Now they've put a viewing hide on the beach to watch them come ashore (which we used) but almost everyone else didn't bother and got right up close to them and scared them half to death, the 4 we saw didn't move for at least an hour because there were so many people close to them with their big long lenses on their cameras. There was some justice though, one guy who had been up close went swimming and got chased by a 400kg Hookers Sea Lion - unfortunately it didn't eat him but serves him right for getting too close to the penguins. Anyway we met a guy that runs nature tours on the beach who told everyone to move but says it happens all the time. It's a real shame as the number of penguins on the beach has fallen significantly over the last few years because of it. Anyway we ended up writing a complaint to the powers that be about it to help the nature guy out (and for our own peace of mind) but as yet have had no reply!

Moving on, we visited Dunedin a nice town, probably nicer than Christchurch I'd say which has a real Scottish feel. Didn't do much but walk around and admire the architecture and enjoy a latte (yes I've started drinking the very odd cup of coffee).

In our attempts to keep the costs down we've been trying wherever possible to stay in picnic areas or on the side of the road for free which has been working pretty well and we've only been to camp sites on every 3rd night in order to fill up our water containers and charge phones and batteries etc. So we rocked up right on the beach again at the start of the Catlins Coast which I liked and Kate didn't! It's really rugged and windy (like all of NZ!) but still it appealed to me. It also included the Southern most point of mainland NZ, Slope Point where we froze ourselves to walk to a rubbish signpost!

We then headed up to Milford Sound through Invercargill for a spot of food shopping, now we heard Mick Jagger once described Invercargill as "The arse end of the world", well we'd have to agree with him on that one (excuse the swearing Mum!). Anyway Milford Sound was something different all together, for those that don't know it's one of a series of Fiords along New Zealand's south west coast. The weather just seemed to get worse and worse as we drove in and that night was freezing (no power for the fan heater at the camp site might I add, typical!) so getting up at 7 to go on a boat at 8 didn't sound too appealing. It was worth it though, as the rain and snow (yes it was supposed to snow 700m above sea level but turned out it snowed at sea level!) meaning more waterfalls and snow capped peaks. The scenery was great although you never quite knew where the tops of the mountains were for the mist (although it did clear later on)! We stopped off at an underwater observatory (definately too cold for diving) which was interesting as the Fiords are a little different as they have fresh water floating on top of the salt water meaning things that normally only live deep down live higher up.

Leaving Milford we headed for the adrenalin capital of NZ, Queenstown. Now although we didn't do any crazy adventure sports we did like Queenstown and the views from the hills around town are superb. We then headed to Wanaka which again is a nice little town, we also attempted to go and do the Rob Roy Valley walk but abandoned that for many reasons which I won't go into here. Then we headed up to Fox Glacier for a cheeky look and a walk around Lake Matheson which wasn't reflecting for us at all, that damn wind again!

A long drive up the coast and across to Hamner Springs was next where we just chilled out in the Sulphur Hot Springs, 40 degrees was the hottest we tried and lasted in there about 2 minutes before we bolied ourselves. From Hanmer it was up past Abel Tasman and to Golden Bay to see Wharariki Beach and Farewell Spit and sandbar that extends out 35km or so into the sea. It's pretty crazy but "the nicest part of New Zealand" as it's been described I'm not so sure. Laura and Phil I have to say you didn't miss anything by not going here, Abel Tasman was much nicer in our humble opinion.

Lastly for the South Island it was over to Picton to catch the ferry to the North Island, the crossing was nice heading through the sounds and out into the Ocean, it also gave us time to read the guidebook and see where's good to go in the North!

So here we are in Wellington which seems like a nice city, though you have no idea how hard it is trying to find somewhere free to camp in a city! Don't worry we managed.

Now it may seem that with all the above it's been amazing, which it has but I must admit that we are feeling that we're starting to go through the motions a bit and yearning for home, family, friends and normality. Not to mention that the conversation has run completely dry. We're starting to hit that feeling you have after a long trip where you can't be bothered and just want to go, so what we need is several kicks up the butt from all you guys out there to give us a push across the finish line, this means many emails and texts (so they spark some conversations!). Parents please don't worry about this paragraph as you know all this already and it's been great having you to talk about it with.

Phew, I think Kate can write the next one of these I'm knackered and I've been sat here for hours. Oh, I should probably just say as usual there are 18 more piccies for you to have a look at.

Take care

Rich and Kate

Sunday, March 04, 2007

In Therapy With Friends!

Hey All,

Well what a fortnight we have had.......we've been reunited with some very good friends from home and had a fab time. It is so good to finally have chilled out beers, lots (and lots, ahem!) of wine and a darn good belly laugh with people on the same happy wave length! We have been transformed from over-travelled backpackers with negative vibes, to happy-as-hippies 20-something somethings who are extremely excited to see the rest of this beautiful country. All without a prescription for anti-depressants or winning the lottery! Wow!

So, without further ado.....check out the photos, there are 18 of them this time, cos we just couldn't decide which ones were best. We did take 429 over the last 2 weeks, so sigh your sigh of relief and have a little butchers.

We started off with a couple of days in Christchurch where Laura and Phil started to get over their chest infection and tonsillitis respectively and the 31 hour-straight flight jointly. Then having collected the hire car we drove the long old journey to Franz Josef Glacier on the West Coast. We took the option of the 3/4 day walk onto the glacier which was amazing. The weather was pretty grim, but we didn't get rained on until we were nearing the middle of the walk and it didn't last long. It was particularly surreal for Rich and I to be wrapped up in raincoats, rain-trousers, huge boots, hats and gloves. I think Laura and Phil thought they'd left the British weather behind at this point! Ooops! The walk was great, yet pretty tiring and of course we treated ourselves to a great meal out afterwards and the start of the wine drinking.

We then headed up to Abel Tasman National Park and had a stop for Pancake Rocks on the way, with the majority of the other holidayers in NZ! L & P had their first look at the perfect turquoise ocean, whilst Rich and I remembered that we haven't always been so used to such stunning scenery! From here, Rich managed to speak with the majority of his mates from home who were out on Kennedy's stag do, the sedate part....! Now we can safely say that was an amusing conversation to ear-ole into! As if you could have missed it. And it is also safe to say that Rich has indeed assumed many Australianisms and will need this beating out of him on return to Blighty! Any offers on that one?! In Motueka, Abel Tasman, we were told to expect rain by the excited locals who had had nothing but glorious sunshine for ten days and were ready for some rain. Fantastic, three days in kayaks loomed ahead. Still, the next day we sat on the beach for a lazy one and even managed a swim in the chilly old ocean. Of course, the weather forcasters were pretty wrong and for the next three days the sun shone it's hardest. We only had one night where the rain won, which luckily enough fell on the same night that the Russian/Czech/unknown nationality people decided to have their huge drinking session and keep the entire campsite angry and awake. Nice. I can't begin to describe the scenery in the park and the sea even managed to impress Rich and I. The seals were just everywhere and so close to us too. None of them chose to free-wheel on our kayaks, but we were not going to complain. We even saw lots of rays swimming around us too. The food and wine were all provided, tasted great and we didn't even have to cook or wash up. How plush!

Next stop was Renwick in the Marlborough wine region. We stayed at Watsons Way backpackers, which was lovely apart from the fact that everything was truly Watsons Way or the highway! I have never had my washing locked up from me before, but that's Watsons Way! Just ask Phil about the Safari Bath and I am sure his jaw will still drop at the price for a bath in a tent! "What no elephants?!" Anyway, to make matters worse we hired our bikes and pedalled off for a trip to the wineries. We managed five in total before wobbling our way home and even got two bottles of wine home intact. I could have sworn they'd end up smashed in a rucksack when someone wobbled a bit too far to the left! Still, they were drunk that night and did indeed taste great with chips, dips and a BBQ. And we discovered lots of things about our friends during many conversations!

We swiftly headed over to Kaikoura and stayed in yet another lovely but anal backpackers. Has anyone seen the stolen nectarine and if so will you please replace it? Give us all some peace. And no, we still don't know who was sick on the stairs (it wasn't even that kind of backpackers) but it certainly wasn't us so please refrain from eyeballing us in that way. Lovely garden though, and we spent the afternoon just chilling out with a couple of beers and the wandering ducks. Again, much more information was gleemed, but as any traveller knows, what goes on tour stays on tour! That night Laura fretted about her impending dolphin swim but the next day did well with a snorkel and a fetching wetsuit complete with hood! Phil assumed official photographer, but has yet to refine his skills.....mmmmm what a lovely splash of a dolphin and how nice Lauras forehead is! The sarcasm goes on and the last word is here! Ok! Rich and I went on a whale watching tour and got very close to the local Sperm Whales. That night we went out for the finale meal and what a bill it was!! Seafood restaurant....how could you not? I managed to persuade Rich to not order steak but failed to get him to have fish for a starter. It was so great and we stayed so long that we practically got kicked out of the restaurant! They clearly go to bed early in Kaikoura! We took a lazy walk the next day around Kaikoura Peninsular which raised our thoughts of the place. The scenery is, still, stunning!

We left Laura and Phil there while we returned to Christchurch. Of course we felt sad to leave them, but were determined not to have a week of homesickness that we had when our parents left. It would have been so easy to cry cry cry, but we only have six weeks left of travelling before we'll be back to Blighty, so we must make the most of it. We had a fab time and truly it was therapy with friends that we have totally missed while we've been away. Totally looking forward to more of that very soon!

We collect our campervan for the finale roadtrip on Tuesday and will be taking a closer look at this beautiful country for the next 5 weeks before flying out of Auckland for Hong Kong. So guys, be warned we'll be knocking on your doors for a bed very very soon!!!

Take care and hope all is well back home

Love

Kate and Rich xx

Saturday, February 17, 2007

They think its all over.........

Howdy People,

After Kate's blog hogging I thought it was about time that I wrote something! As Kate said in the last post we hired a car and drove from Adelaide to Melbourne. While it was an enjoyable trip, I wouldn't say that we were that enthusiastic about it all. Mainly due to the fact that we were leaving Australia not long after. More on that later....

There were some great places on our road trip though, we started with the Adelaide hills and as Kate was feeling a little homesick we decided to head to Macclesfield. The Fleurieu peninsular was beautiful (and suprisingly green) with barely a backpacker in sight. Robe was another quaint little town and had one of the top two hostels that we've stayed in all year! Bonus! Blue Lake in Mt Gambier was impressive too, though the town itself was pretty horrible. We stayed in an old jail converted into a hostel, complete with big slamming metal doors. I'm not too sure that Kate liked it that much (well nor did I for that matter - it was a bit grotty) but she was even more shocked to open the cell door in the morning and find herself face to face with a Llama! I kid you not. That surely goes down as one of the more surreal moments of this trip!

We then headed back into Victoria and along the Great Ocean Road, it is a stunning drive with fantastic scenery and coastline, from the Bay of Islands, the Arch, Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge and finally the 12 Apostles there is a lot to see that is all great. In Apollo Bay after seeing all that we started to flick through the photo's on the camera, it was all good until it wouldn't switch back to capture mode! So the camera was broken we could look at pictures but not take any! It was probably through overuse, we reckon we're on about 8000 pictures so far. However after much rushing round in Melbourne and then Sydney it has been fixed, so you can all breath a sigh of relief that there will be yet more pictures for you to look at!

From Apollo Bay we had a nice day on the beach, it was good to relax a bit after shuffling from town to town and then a day in the shops, stocking up on board shorts from the factory outlets! Armed with a rubbish disposeable camera (that we managed to get 8 pictures from out of the normal 27) we headed up to Ballarat and Sovereign Hill a living museum set back in the gold rush days of the mid 1800's, it was ok but not great. Then it was back to Melbourne and back to where it all began, just under a year ago, the loop was complete and we were back into familiar territory. Not for long though because we got the bus up to Sydney the next day and spent a few days catching up with people, closing bank accounts, doing tax returns, etc. With that all done, it was time to say goodbye to the big old land of Oz, 'Exit' stamps were added to the passports the day before we would have been kicked out! So a year in Oz and there have been many more ups than downs and definately an experience that we'll never forget.

As for 'They think it's all over .....', you may think hurrah we don't have to listen to Rich and Kate ramble on about their adventures now, but unfortunately you don't get away quite so easily (remember, we know where you live!) as we're now in Christchurch, New Zealand preparing to travel around Australia's next door neighbour! We're meeting up with friends next week and travelling with them for a while before (hopefully) going it alone again and getting a campervan to travel around.

Until the next adventure ............

Take care

Rich and Kate

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Wheels on the Train go Round and Round and Round.................

Hey There,

Well, we have finally arrived in Adelaide. We decided in our wisdom to take the Indian Pacific train from Perth to Adelaide to experience an alternative Australian mode of transport. This journey is said to be one of those amazing train journey's so we thought we'd give it a go.

So we left Perth at around 12 noon Wednesday and arrived in Adelaide at 7am Friday!!! But having just spent five days being rushed around on our tour of the SW, we were quite happy to sit around reading, listening to music and watching the desert (all 500km of it) and the outback go by. Well, Rich was only happy when plied with lots of sweets! Still, we stopped at a gold mining town called Kalgoorlie, which was an "interesting" place. We paid to go on the bus around the town (at midnight!) and saw the beautiful old buildings built in the times of the gold rush. Then we headed up to the superpit, which is no less than 3km long and 1.5km wide, with plans to extend in the near future. The trucks in the pit truly do look tiny!! Finally, we were treated to a nosy (from the bus!) at the brothels for which the town is apparently famous. Well, I guess you gotta keep those miners amused somehow! Our next stop was around 14 hours later (!!!) in a place called Cook which has a population of 7 and many amusing signs dotted around. And we'd finally arrived in South Australia, the driest state of the driest country on Earth - ooooh I'm thirsty!

Adelaide is a really nice city. It's much greener and there are so many nice parks and the Botanical Gardens around that it's impossible not to feel chilled out. We have spent a couple of days wandering the city to get a feel of the place and check out the old buildings around town. We also took the "must do" winery trip to the Barossa Valley, which probably would have seemed more beautiful had the sun been shining! Still up at 8am and three wineries visited before lunch! I reckon we did fairly well. We went to the Jacobs Creek winery and then a few smaller places that only sell to restaurants and at the cellar door. So, some of them ship over to the UK, so maybe when we a little less skint, we might try some of them again. The beach here is in a place called Glenelg, but is not a patch on the SW beaches that we have just been treated to. Nice enough for a city beach though. We went to the Rodney Fox Shark Expo. This guy got attacked by a shark in the sixties and has since become an advocate for them and worked on films such as Jaws and numerous documentries. Interesting place, although mostly because the guy there very nearly convinced us that diving in a cage near Great White Sharks would be a great idea. He made it sound so good. I'm only glad that it costs $1500 each, otherwise I reckon we might have been there already!

So that's Adelaide so far. We have hired a car to drive over to Melbourne and complete the loop of Australia. We have 17 days left here and it all feels slightly strange!

Anyway, hope you're all well,

Love

Kate and Rich xxxx

Touring, Touring, Touring

After escaping the "routine" of Badgingarra, we booked ourselves on a tour of the Southwest corner of Australia. We took 5 days to travel down to a beautiful place called Esperance and back to Perth via lots of little places on the coast.

We reached Esperance having visited the Dog Cemetary (don't ask) and Wave Rock, which is merely a giant rock that looks like a wave. Esperance is another beautiful place. What can we say. Again have a look at the photos and you'll see where we are coming from. The sands are sooooo white and the waters crystal clear and turquoise. There was a bit of a wind chill so we didn't actually make it into the water, but the view was fine from where we were! We went to Cape le Grand National park and climbed a huge rock to see views over the area, it was good to see although knackering after doing nothing for so long! We saw Sammy the Sealion, who unfortunately had a bad cold and sneezed a lot. Bless!

We then went on to a place called Albany and visited beaches like the photos all day long, which can get a bit tedious even though they were so beautiful!

Day four took us to the Tree Top walk where we got scared 40m above ground and wandered through the treetops in this huge forest. The walkway was all a bit wobbly and it doesn't help when you have a pesky German behind jumping up and down!! (Alex!!) We then visited the Bi-Centennial tree which has a look out at the top (72m high) which you can climb to using the lovely rods that are stuck into the tree. There's a handy net to catch you if you fall sideways, but no harness, helmet or handrail, which is helpful! Needless to say we didn't manage it, although the crazy German Walkway Wobbler got all the way to the top, so he could well be forgiven. After this, we were treated to a trip to the honey shop, where they sell all things containing honey. The wine was good, but the ice cream lacked creamy-ness, but was nice all the same.

Finally, day five took us to a chocolate factory and a winery, before 9.30am! We managed to complete all the tasks required and weren't too tipsy before heading off to climb yet more rocks from one beautiful beach to another. We did manage this treacherous climb which had us leaping over Elephant Rocks while the sea flowed in and out below. We managed to get a bit more flexible during the climb where we had to lift our legs over our heads to get through certain bits (with mosquitoes enjoying their lunch at the same time). After lunch of chicken Fajita's BBQ stylie at Yallingup, we headed up to Bunbury via Bussleton Jetty. It's the longest wooden jetty in the Southern Hemisphere, apparently. It's beautiful, but we would have been more impressed had we not been on a strict 15 minute countdown to leaving. The joys of tour groups. Finally we went on a dolphin cruise in Bunbury and were thrilled that the dolphins rode on the bow of the boat, which we haven't seen before. Basically the dolphins swim really fast at the very front of the boat and look to be having a whale of a time! Rich felt it was not unlike a dog sticking it's head out of the window and enjoying the breeze, which seems fair enough!

We'd love to say the group we were with were fantastic and sooooo much fun. But we can't lie! The Danish people were very solemn looking and I still don't know their names. Seasoned travellers too, maybe they should head home and look up "fun" in their dictionaries! Still, the rest of the group were ok, if a little quiet..... maybe we're just loud?!

Have fun people

Love

Kate and Rich xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Life Before Badgingarra

We just got sooooooo excited about our life in Badgy, that we forgot to tell you about what life was like in Perth Pre-Badgy. Oooops!

I guess you may (or may not) be wondering what happened to our little place in Perth, with the beautiful spa bath en-suite. Well, we basically struggled to get work in Perth. I think we were too late for Christmas retail jobs and then the office work was drying up, although we were told there was loads of work, which was slightly annoying. We were very welcome to work in bars for menial amounts until the not-so-wee-small hours of the morning, which we obviously didn't fancy. So, we headed to a travel club place in Perth and were introduced to Badgy....and to be honest how could we refuse?! The details on that are already up, so we hopefully haven't confused the issue too much.

Anyway, there are already some photo's up that show you the beautiful Rottnest Island. It's just off the coast and we spent a full day there. We hired bikes and rode the length and bredth of the island. Much to the delight of two sore bums for days! Still, the island is just amazingly beautiful. The pictures of the beaches and the reefs show you a little bit of what was around every corner. We were also lucky enough to spot lots of Aussie Quokka's which are only found on Rottnest. They too were around every corner and hanging around the cafes like teenagers!

Fremantle is a city just down the road from Perth. We took the train and bumped into a fellow mango picker who was unfortunately working in the local lobster factory be-heading the feisty creatures (can you see why Badgy looked so appealing?). Nothing special to report there, just meandered around for a while.

We also visited Cottesloe which is a beach not far away. Nice enough but not a patch on Rottnest.

And then, Badgy was calling, so we dropped everything and ran! Having bought lots of things to make our lives easier in Perth. Ah well, the next tenants will have had a nice surprise!

Love

Kate and Rich xx

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Home of the 'Badgi' Burger

Well Folks,

We made it out alive. No need to send the authorities out in search of us!

Firstly, a very Happy New Year to you all. So what can I tell you about Badgingarra? I can tell you that we enjoyed our time up in 'Badgi' working in the roadhouse flipping burgers and serving customers and occasionally pumping petrol. We also saved a lot of cash (safely stashed in our medical kit!) which was the main aim of the game.

However, there's two sides to every story and if I was to tell you that on our first day I was tasked with cleaning packets of extra strong mints and Kate nearly sliced her finger off twice and constant power cuts you might get a different idea ......

In the main Kate was working in the kitchen and I was operating the till serving customers though we both did a bit of everything. We tended to rack up around 40 hours a week over 6 days, some with early starts (6am) though they were more for Kate! The people running the place and those working with us were really friendly and made us feel right at home. The initial thoughts that we'd be getting burgers every night for tea proved to be wrong (thankfully) and some nights we were treated to big T-bone steaks, spare ribs, crayfish, tiger prawns, lamb cutlets and much much more. The best bit being that they cost us no more than $5 (2 quid). The caravan accommodation that we were provided with left a little more to be desired (like an extra 3ft's width for the bed for example), initial thoughts were, this is horrible but once start spreading your stuff around it's fine. Having said that it was a vast improvement on the Mango picking accommodation.

The main downside to the whole thing was what to do with our time off, not having transport and all meant we were left with sleeping, watching DVD's, reading, watching England give the Ashes away (obviously this made Kate even more bored), sleeping, reading, watching TV, sleeping, reading, ...... you get the idea. The heat somedays made it impossible to do anything else anyway, even with the air-con. One day we reached 43 in the shade and outside in the sun people told us it was 51 degrees!

As you may have noticed Christmas and New Year has been and gone for another year. Ours was what you might call unconventional (well for us at least - though our first together strangely enough). We did have Christmas day off and spent the morning opening pressies and cards, so thanks to all the people that sent those. We then enjoyed an Aussie Christmas lunch which was still turkey but with salad and a few other meats, again very nice. After glugging a bottle of wine we got on the phone to speak to our families which was really nice. It being sunny and 35 degrees outside makes it not really feel like Christmas at all though.

New Year was an altogether different kettle of fish, we finished work at 8pm on New Years eve and promised to head to the Bagingarra Tavern for a few drinks which we did, but as you get into rounds with people it becomes harder and harder to leave, then it's 11.45pm and you think you might as well stay and see the New Year in, then a few beers, sambucas, slippery nipples, absinthe and champagnes later it's 1.30am and Kate has to be up at 5am to start work at 6 cooking greasy fry-ups for the very people who'd been feeding her alcohol the night before - ouch! As I said we got home at half one and I put my head down went out like a light and promptly got up again to be sick - twice! The main reason (well one reason) being, that Kate was clever enough to realise she had to be up early so kept saying "No I won't have that shot, I've got to be up early, give it to Rich!" (of course I was lapping up the free drinks at the time) Boy, did I regret it????? To my credit I managed to get up and start on time at 8am and last through till 1pm, although it was a struggle I can tell you. Thankfully everyone else must have been in a similar state cos it wasn't busy and the guy replacing me at 1pm looked worse then I did and he'd only just got up! A Christmas and New Year not to be forgotten in a hurry!

So that was Bagingarra, another unforgettable experience, something totally out of our comfort zone but good fun all the same. We're now back in Perth for a couple of frantic days before heading to the South West and onto more adventures, we now only have 4 weeks left in Australia (scary) and still so much to see and do - to the time machine!

Oh, before I leave you, the title of this post refers to the famous 'Badgi' burger and as its the most common question I was asked at work was (well apart from 'What brings a Pom to a little town like this?' or 'What's the score in the Ashes?')......

Customer: What's in a Badgi Burger?

Rich:A Badgi is a Homemade Hamburger Pattie, Bacon, Egg, Cheese, Onion, BBQ Sauce and salad if you'd like.

Customer: Sold.

So if you'd like one, we'll be opening our own 'Badgi' joint when we arrive home (and Kates a mean Badgi burger chef) so place your orders now ........ Having said that we can't guarantee an exact replica 'Badgi Burger' cos the boss was very secretive about his hamburger recipe that even his wife didn't know it - and she's the co-owner!

Does that fill in the last 7 weeks for ya?

Take care

Rich and Kate