May 22, 2009

The Red Center

Tomorrow I am off on a redeye 24 hrs. train ride on The Ghan to Alice Springs. What a ride! ipod is charged and my book is pretty good as well, so it should be fun... or at least not that boring for some time. After one night in Alice Springs I will start a trip to the famous Uluru... finally... theDevil' s Marbles, Cooper Peeddy (an underground mining town, famous for the opal mining there) and then Flinder's Range Nationalpark and then finally arriving in Adelaide, South Australia. I am really excited about it. It' s gonna be a fun journey.

We are sleeping under the stars to catch the sunrise over Uluru and although it is still pretty hot during the day, the nights get freezing there. But hey, we already froze our butts off in Karijini, so we are trained.

I will be in the Outback for the next 10 days so no internet and no mobile reception until Adelaide, but nothing than the great wide open of the Australian bushland.

May 20, 2009

Stay away from the water...

After a rather relaxing weekend in Darwin I took a 2 day trip to Kakadu Nationalpark. We were a pretty small - but rather strange - group of 16 people plus our guide. First stop was a boatride on the Billabong to view the wildlife and the crocs of course. Northern Territory is full of crocs, so you are not allowed to swim in any rivers, natural pools and the sea - that and thanks to the famous jellyfish that is. During our cruise we spotted a 3.5m crocodile sun baking on a tree. It was huge. And some other crocs chilling in the 30°C waters of the Billabong. On our way to Kakadu Nationalpark we came across large bushfires, and since we were in a 4WD, we just had a closer look. I had the best of them all, since I was sitting right in the passenger seat - despite the fact, that it gets rather hot up there and the noise of the engine makes conversation rather difficult - it´s a good spot and you get to choose the playlists for the bus! Yay! During our 3 hrs. drive to the park we spotted more kangaroos than on the whole way up to Broome - where there were supposed to be heaps. In Kakadu we drove all the way up to Ubirr to view the fascinating Aboriginal Rock Arts. Quite amazing along with their stories. Before settling in our camping site we headed to Yellow waters to see a fantastic sun set over the wetlands. I have seen so many beautiful sunsets in the past few weeks, I cannot tell you which one is the best of them all. Cable Beach is way up front up to this point.

Overnight was camping time, this time it was soo humid that a sleeping bag wasn´t really neccessary. Fortunately they had a refreshing pool there, were some of us, had a short jump in. That night I slept for like 4 hours tops because some animal was crawling around our tent, sniffing, digging and walkabout. I hope it was a wallaby. At dusk we were awakened by monsoon rain. That was pretty uncommon since it is dry season right now. After an hour it stopped so we had a dry hike to the Jim Jim Falls ahead of us. The road back to the remote area of the falls is only accessable by 4WD and that was fun. At the falls we met the other happy campers not so happy, because they spent the night in their swags and got a bit surprised by the rain. So all their swags and sleepingbags were drying in the sun. The hike to the falls were more rock climbing than hiking, and it was soo humid we all were drenched in the end. And in the end our effort was rewarded with a refreshing swim in the natural pool there. That´ s what life´s about.

Since it was only a two day trip we just had some time to chill at the waterfalls and then head back to Darwin. One of the Asian girls on the trip claimed to have seen a croc sliding into the pool just before the waterfalls. Since she was the only one there at that point of time, there is no proof. Of course, the signs warn you to swim anywhere because of the crocs and there are some staying there. Maybe she was just pulling our leg. Or maybe not!

After we arrived in Darwin we all met again for some serious partying at The Vic. Meanwhile my other travelbuddies arrived back from their trip to the Kimberly´s and we all had a warming up booze in the hostel. Since it´s a licened premise we weren´t allowed any booze in our dorms or anywhere, so we smuggled it in. Dinner that night was a half pack of crisps and 2 Bundaberg Coke.... needless to say, that party rocked that night. After the music got really bad at the Vic some of us headed with some locals to the pub, where they were playing live music. That was even better. Good times Darwin.

Hung over and tired we all hung out at the leisure deck at the MOM evenly divided between, sunbaking and a dip in the pool. Can it get any better.

Visual Impressions are found here!

May 17, 2009

top end australia

Since Broome is in the middle of nowhere and there isn´t much to do there. After a few days, you basically have seen it all. I was very keen to get out of there. My plan was to join the others of our group to the Kimberly´s. But since the Gibb River Road through the Kimberly´s is just open in dry season and that just started in April, all tours were booked up. Option 1 taking the Greyhound for a 27hrs. Ride up to Darwin or Option 2 take the plane up to Darwin. TG that there was a cheaper flight than the Greyhound that night, so I booked it. After a two hours flight my travelbuddie and me arrived in Darwin, the top end of Australia.

Since the girl knew someone from Darwin we got picked up from the airport and basically a personal sightseeing tour through the city. How neat is that. The first night we hung out with some locals at the wharf and had the most delicious dinner in a long time. We had mussels, prawns and the lot for 13 AUS $ each. And that on the waterfront of Darwin. Life cannot get any better. The last few days we hung out by the beach, which you cannot swim in because of the sharks, jelly fish and the crocs, but since this is Australia, they have a pool by the ocean to jump in.

Sleep tight and don´t let the bedbugs bite!

After our arrival in Broome, everyone envied some of us - incl. me - because our hostel was really great. It looked more like a resort than a backpacker, to be honest. We loved it. The others staying next door were complaining about the dirtiness of their place and planned to move in our place the next day. They should have trusted their gut feeling and already spent the first night with us, since the next morning at brekky, we found out that one of the girls was bitten by bed bugs over night. That´s the horror of every backpacker - bed bugs! They itch like crazy and all your clothes, backpack etc has to be sprayed and washed in order to not spread them any further. 

And the worst thing is, that the hostel next door, knows about it and doesn t do anything about it. So, anyone staying in Broome, WA, never ever stay at Cable Beach Backpackers! Spread the word!

May 16, 2009

Finding Nemo and the 1000 star hotel

Here comes the short wrap up of the 10 day trip I went on from Perth to Broome in the beginning of May. It´s been a blast. We covered sooo much it´s unbelievable. Most of the time we spent on the road for hours and hours driving through nothing except bushland and the occasional roadhouse to get petrol, a cup of coffee and stretch. It was really hard to imagine how big Australia really is, now it came a bit more real, and we just covered a bit of Western Australia. The scenery is stunning and makes you breathless at times.

We started out in the Nambung National Park with the Pinnacles and a bit of sandboarding on our first day. Then after a crayfish feast at our overnight stay in Horrocks we made our way up to Monkey Mia to see the dolphins. They really came up close and personal. Amazing.

The next day we arrived at Coral Bay and went snorkeling at the Nigaloo Reef all day. I went on the boat to swim with the manta rays. What an experience. After a amazing snorkel practice, we had a a briefing of the code of condcut with those huge animals. Then shortly the plane spotted a manta ray close to the shore, so we were divided up into groups of 6 and off we went. After one of the crew members made sure that it wasn´t a shark or anything, thumbs up and off we snorkeled. Alright, keep in mind that a manta ray has a size of up to 5m and can swim up to 60 km/h... And this one was in a hurry, so we all swam like crazy. Unfortunatley the water was not so crystal clear, but that was why the manta was feeding there, so I had trouble spotting it. But suddendly the manta turned and came right up to me. Talking about up close and personal, this thing was swimming right into me, well, right beneath me. That was the closest you can get, let me tell you. I am still thrilled. Afterwards we were all really enthusiastic and thrilled, couldn´t shut up about it. But that´s not enough since we spotted a manatee after a while and some huge turtles, reallz close to the boat. Later in the afternoon we swam through a little hole in the reef to the outter side to see some sharks. And we truly did see some sharks, docking at the „cleaning station“ on the reef. Nice sharks though. What a day!

The next day we chilled at Turquoise Bay. We collected our snorkel gears early in the morning because there you can just walk into the water to snorkel since the reef is soo close. And that was truly amazing, we just swam for a few meters into the ocean and head under water and ... Wow... right into the aquarium tank .... we saw so many fishes, big and small, in all colors, also a few huge turtels and even a reef shark. That was soo AWESOME!

After our adventures out in the Nigaloo Reef, we heading North and to the East into the Outback of Australia, to Karijini National Park. There we were to camp three days in the middle of nowhere. After settling in we went for a short hike down our first gorge - a few more shall follow. Down at the gorge we all just had to jump into this refreshing looking natural pool... And refreshing it was, it was freezing cold water. I bet I never swam so fast in my life to reach the rocks to climb up again. But it was great. After a Barbie - what else - and some booze we all settled into our swags outside under the stars. We were told that it got really cold at night, but we never thought it would get that freezing during the night. In the mornings we all were shivering next to teh BBQ to warm up, we all did warm up during our hikes during the heat of the day, let me tell you. During the days we discovered gorge after gorge - one more beautiful and breathtaking than the other. We also outgrew our own expectations, when we climbed down those tricky steep gorges without any abseiling, help, ladders or anything. Spider walk was one of the challenges, where you had to move like a spider a long steep gorge to make it to the pools for a swim. And we did them all!

After amazing days at Karijini we had to move on to Broome, our final destination. During our stay in the desert we all had turned into red dustfigures as well, since it was everywhere, your whites turned red, your backpack was red, your skin shimmered red... It was everywhere. Uuaahhh!

In Broome we had the rare chance to watch the staircase of the moon on our first night. Amazing - it truly does look like a staircase out of the ocean leading to the moon. Stunning. The famous sunsets over Cable Beach were as specatular as everyone told us before. The few days we spent in Broome at the Beach or at the pool in our flashpacker hostel. What a life! What a trip!

more pics are on:

May 02, 2009

hands on adventure

The next 10 days I am off on my way up north from Perth to Broome via Ningaloo Reef & Karijini full of activities like sandboarding, snorkeling, bush walking, swimming in gorges, outdoor camping, dolphin feeding and even an optional whale shark swimming .... I am sooo excited. That´ll be 10 days on the road covering approx. 4000 km´s up to Broome while not even leaving WA.

picture by western australia exposure

Day 1 Perth – Kalbarri

Day 2 Kalbarri – Shark Bay

Day 3 Shark Bay - Coral Bay

Day 4 Coral Bay & Exmouth

Day 5 Exmouth

Day 6 Exmouth to Karijini National Park

Day 7 and Day 8 Karijini National Park

Day 9 Karijini National Park to Pardoo Station

Day 10 Pardoo Station to Broome