A Travellerspoint blog

Round Lake Camp

Back to the US of A

sunny 32 °C
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So my tour of Australia has been put on hold for a few months and I was off back to the USA to Round Lake Camp, I had been offered to go back as Division Head of Bet, which is the 12 – 14 year old special needs children – I jumped at the chance! I love the place and I have had so many fun summers there so it was either this of working a bar job in Australia somewhere for a couple of months.
P4060045

P4060045


So, off I went to the airport, Tahnee dropped me off which was nice – shes been brilliant and I am going to miss her but Im sure we will see each other again. My mammoth journey started with a 5 hour flight to Sydney, e longest internal flight in the world apparently. I arrived at Sydney and had a 6 our wait in the airport before my 14 hour flight to LA, I had to make a mental note never to fly with United Airlines again, it was a terrible service but hey I was almost there.
RLC Lake

RLC Lake


When I arrived in LA I had an hour to catch my connecting flight, which honestly I knew I would never make – my flight was taking off whilst I was still in line for immigration so I ended up flying through Denver. So after 3 Days I finally made it into New York and just to make my trip that little bit longer the shuttle that was taking me to the terminal broke down on the track so after an hour and a half finally a guy came and let us all out. I ended up just booking into a hotel that night – I needed it!
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P1360638[1

]
The next day I headed into Manhatten, I decided to walk to grand central station via Times Square – I can never get over how amazing it feels to be standing in the centre of the square. I will definitely be back to work in New York some day. I headed to White Plaines to stay with some friends – DR V and Bryce. It was great to see them again. Me and Bryce ended up staying up all night playing Call of Duty on his playstation drinking beer – not the best idea after three days without sleep but it was a laugh. The following day I borrowed the camp directors car for a few weeks and headed to camp in Pennsylvania. It was great to be back again, it was like I never left. Everyone that I met were really cool, it was pretty easy for the first few weeks, just lots of swimming and hot tub time and obviously setting up the camp.
P4060067

P4060067


It is absolutely scorching at the moment out here, its been in the low nineties for the last few days so my tan is looking pretty good. The only down point of this leg in my journey was getting bitten by spider, I saw the surgeon and it didn’t look great at first, my arm was swollen and the bite was getting bigger – apparently the venom was spreading but after a lot of antibiotics it has finally started to get better. Was a little bit scared there for a while – the nurses here have been brilliant though so will be buying them a beer or two to say thanks.
P4110089

P4110089


This one is a bit of a short post but Im glad people are still keeping up with the blog, makes it worth while writing it. My friend Jenkins even told me that his mum has been reading about my travels! So hello to Susan Jenkins! I have planned to do a bit of a road trip across America after camp so there should be a few interesting posts coming up…

Posted by dezmondos 20:46 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Perth

Winter in WA

sunny 28 °C
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Right I ve been a slack on writing the old blog… I have just looked at my last update and I was on my was to Esperance – that seems like an age ago now.
Margaret River Wine Tour

Margaret River Wine Tour


Anyway, we only spent a night in Esperance in the end which had amazing white sand – its quite unbelievable how different Australia can be – with the white sand if I didn’t know where I was I would swear I was somewhere tropical. Margaret River was our destination as we planned to spend a few nights there before heading up to Perth for the long weekend. There was only one campsite close to the town so we booked in there – much to the dissatisfaction the old woman behind the reception desk – I was greeted with a ‘I hope your not going to make any noise’ – nice welcome hey.
Hillarys Harbour

Hillarys Harbour


So we spent the evening drinking the finest goon (bag in a box wine) before heading out to the town. Now I knew straight away that we might regret this as we were booked on a wine tour that was taking us to seven vineyards the next morning. We headed to the high street and hit the pub, now im not quite sure where the night went so wrong but it ended up with us, two Austrian girls and a guy from Zimbabwe and them betting me that I wouldn’t streak down the high street naked… I would like to say that I didn’t and that I am to mature for silly bets, Sadly enough I did it, but hey I made $10 bucks out of it. We only worked out that it was probably the reason why they didn’t want to serve us any more drinks, lol.
Western Australia

Western Australia


So the next morning came and we got on our tour bus with the hangover from hell – not before the old woman from reception tried to accuse us of smoking weed at 9pm the evening before – but I pointed out that it couldn’t have been us as we were at the pub, but she didn’t seem impressed. The wine tour was a really good day out, we were taken to about 7 wineries, a brewery and a chocolate factory. Its definitely a place that I would visit again one day.
We left Margaret River and headed to Perth to meet my friend Tahnee that I met in America the previous summer. She was putting the three of us up for a few days… well it turned out to be almost 6 weeks – shes a good girl. We turned up and met her two house mates Robo and Rachael who are awesome. They live right next to Cottesloe which is a great area just north of Fremantle.
Cottesloe Beach

Cottesloe Beach


That weekend we experienced one of the famous Sunday sessions at the OBH – Ocean Beach Hotel, Awesome! We had planned on all getting jobs in Perth and staying here to save some cash until August. We spent the weeks job hunting and spending our time on Cottesloe beach. The weather was amazing and we were pretty much on the beach swimming most of the time, we even saw dolphins. The job hunting however wasn’t going that well, it was at the end of the busy season and there wasn’t much around but we kept on looking.
Perth Zoo

Perth Zoo


Carmen that I met in Melbourne came over for a few days which was cool and a few of us went to Perth Zoo which was pretty cool. Money goes really quickly when your not earning so we really started to cut down on costs – no more beer, just goon for us! We had a great day fishing just North of Fremantle, me and Tom caught about 40 fish. Most of which were Herring but we didn’t care, we took the biggest ones back home gutted and scaled them ready for eating – not to bad hey, Im getting good at this fishing!
Saltwater Croc

Saltwater Croc


So after 3 weeks of looking for work in Perth it was starting to get a little bit disheartening. Backpackers have a pretty bad reputation over here as being unreliable so it didn’t make it that easy. I had an offer to go back to the USA and work for the summer and being as Perth was starting to get cold I thought it was worthwhile. It was a bit of a nightmare getting my visa though – it only came through a few days before I was meant to fly. It was strange really thinking about going back on myself but I was really looking forward to it as I had an amazing time there last summer and this way it gives me even more money to extend my trip. Tom and Neil got a job in Fitzroy Crossing near Broome so they took the van and drove up there. The plan is to meet back in September when I get back and finish of the roadtrip and sell the campervan in Sydney… but then again plans change all the time…
Perth in Winter...

Perth in Winter...


Australia has been amazing so far but it feels a little bit to much like England but warmer for my liking. I’m really looking forward to Asia and experiencing all the different cultures there. I am just hoping my money lasts that long! Ha.
So I have postponed my Aus adventure for a few months. I get back in September where I will carry on my road trip from Broome down to Ayers Rock then down the East Coast and hopefully hit Sydney for the new year. So my next post will be from the other side of the world back in the USA.
Beach life

Beach life

Posted by dezmondos 03:59 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Melbourne to Perth Road Trip

Clocking up a few miles...

sunny
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Time for my second installment on my road trip around Australia. The mileage on our van when we started our road trip was 248,701km’s and the next month or so of our trip will certainly clock up a few extra miles.
I think I left when we had just left Sydney last time so I will carry on from there. We continued our journey down the coastal road towards Melbourne stopping along the way. We were finding it a little tricky in finding places to spend the night as there were signs up everywhere saying no camping or sleeping in vehicles – but in the end we just thought we would risk it – we spoke to an old boy in his caravan and he said they didn’t enforce that rule so we took that as a good sign. We were getting close to the Victoria state border so this would be our last day in New South Wales for at least till we end our trip back in Sydney.
Ramsey Street!

Ramsey Street!


We didn’t really put that much research into places before we turned up – which was kind of nice as you stumble upon random little towns that are pretty cool. Our next stop was at Lakes entrance, we found an amazing place to settle down for the night – overlooking the entrance from the sea to the great lakes. The lakes run for 90 miles down the coast, which is home to 90 mile beach. It is absolute heaven – if you like deserted beaches this is the place for you, not a person for miles apart from the odd fisherman that is. We spent a day down at Paradise beach in a free campsite and spent the whole next day fishing off the beach, we got excited as a fisherman said that he caught two hammerhead sharks there the day before – Tom caught two fish to my one but im still in the lead 3 to 2. Although we still haven’t caught one big enough to eat yet! After a hot shower (our first in a few days) we decided to book into a hostel in Melbourne as we arrived at night and there wasn’t many places to park up. We stayed in St.Kilda which is where the backpackers stay.
Torquay, GOR

Torquay, GOR


I met up with Neil and Tara, I met them both in America back in 2006 so it was good to catch up. We had a big night out that evening which was a nice after a week on the road not seeing many people - the night did end in another argument with a Taxi driver though as he didn’t have a clue where he was going and expected us to pay for it.
My poor foot

My poor foot


Melbourne has a totally different feel from Sydney, we took a strole around the centre and went down to the beach. Pleople say you are either a Sydney or Melbourne person – I am definitely a Sydney person. After some expensive days in the city we decided to head out to Phillip Island to see the penguins and the Moto GP circuit. Tom rides motorbikes so he has been keen to see it. We found a campsite that was overlooking the beach – set up camp and headed out to see the sights. We went to the Nobbies where apparently a colony of seals live – over 1000 – but did we see any – not at all! Fortunately we did see some penguins though. We also saw some Kangaroos and Koalas - probably the most boring animal in the world (apart from sloths that is).
We headed back to Tara’s place where she had kindly invited us to stay for a while (the swimming pool and hot tub was a very nice luxury). Now the Melbourne F1 Grand Prix was on that weekend which is my favorite race of the year so we bought 4 day passes for the race. By a stroke of luck we managed to get an extra two free tickets off someone Tom knows so we brought Tara and her friend Carman along for the Friday and sneakily managed to sell the tickets we bought at the gates the day after.
Ocean Road

Ocean Road


The race is held at Albert Park which is right in the centre of Melbourne and there was loads of other races and events on throughout the four days. On the Thursday we saw the V8 supercars race – Vipers, Lamborghinis, Porsches – great stuff. We had a scout around that day to try and find a good spot on race day.
The Saturday at qualifying was the craziest day – we met up with Kath and Jay who we met in Sydney who came down for the weekend. We kidnapped Kath for the afternoon and headed for the beer tent to watch the qualifying session. The F1 cars are ridiculously loud, ear plugs would definitely be needed for race day. That night there was a concert on and Powderfinger were headlining. I had never heard of them to be honest but they are huge over here, and they were really good.
The Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles


On race day we had a perfect spot right on turn two near the start so we could see the first two corners. It was packed so we set up camp for the day. Zoe from Sydney and Neil with a few of his mates joined us so we had quite a big crowd to cheer on Button and Hamilton. They weren’t on the best places on the grid, Button was fourth and Hamilton was 11th after a poor qualifying session. It wasn’t the best day and it was going to rain at some point – always adds some excitement to a race. We were also right in front of a giant TV screen so we could keep up with what was going on. It was a fantastic race with action all the way through. There was massive support for Mark Webber being Australian but it was Button that won it on the day. Hamilton finished 6th so overall not a bad day for the Brits.
Port Lincoln National Park

Port Lincoln National Park


After the race it was a free for all to get on the race track, it was crazy I almost got crushed trying to get on. Before the race I had spoken to my mum and she had told me to do something to get noticed as she would be watching on TV – bad idea. We had been drinking throughout the race and badly needed the toilet so we had to go against the barrier on turn one, if that didn’t get us noticed I don’t know what would lol. We watched the winning ceremony and headed to the centre stage where Simple Minds were headlining – I was quite excited as I saw them in Plymouth about 10 years ago. They didn’t disappoint… the weather was shit but it was a great night, I even got a photo with Brian Mcfadden from Westlife who came to see the concert which was pretty cool. So that was the end of my first F1 Grand Prix, I will definitely be going to another one.
What a view

What a view


We stayed the next couple of nights back at Tara’s where we were invited to join her and Carman to celebrate passover – a Jewish celebration, and I have to admit I think it was my best night in Melbourne we had a lot of laughs and alcohol which is always a good thing. Hanging out with Tara and Carman really made Melbourne for us, they were a real good laugh and I’m sure we will see them again at some point this year. Our last day in Melbourne involved getting the van serviced and ready for the long trip to Perth. That afternoon we headed down to Torquay which is known as the surf capital of Australia, they had a surf contest and concert on at Bells beach (where the film Point Break was based on) so we thought we may as well check it out for the Easter weekend before we hit the Great Ocean Road. There were signs up everywhere saying no staying overnight in vehicles but we stupidly ignored this and were woken up by the police to a $125 fine, ouch. So we decided to stay in a camp site for the weekend after that. Charlotte and Julia came to join us for the weekend from Sydney and it turned out to be a really good weekend apart from one thing:
Step 1: Chris steals Toms beer’
Step 2: Chris drinks Toms beer while giggling and congratulating himself on a good steal
Step 3: Chris drops Toms beer, steps on the glass and cuts his foot – bad!
Head of Bight

Head of Bight


There was a lot of blood and I was so glad I was drunk when it happened as it would have hurt a hell of a lot more. Tom was great and bandaged it up – I went to see the Pharmacy the next day and they said I should have had it stitched up but it was too late as I had left it to long – great! This kind of ruined our plans a bit as I couldn’t walk – it was soo painful and I kind of knew it wasn’t a injury that would heal quickly – it was in a really awkward place on the bottom of my foot. I’m not sure it hit a nerve as I had pins and needles and my foot was numb – that would teach me for stealing Tom’s beer I suppose, Karmas a bitch, lol.
Anyway the weekend was over and despite my foot it was a really good one. Neil a friend that I met in 2006 in the USA was joining us in our trip to Perth which would be fun so we went to pick him up from Geelong and started our trip down the Great Ocean Road.
Karate kids...

Karate kids...


The Great Ocean Road is known as one of the best drives in Australia so I was quite excited after driving Route 1 in California a few years back – if it was anything like that we were in for a good drive. We wanted to take it slow as the road is only 250km long so we didn’t want to do it all in one day. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great but it didn’t spoil it too much, the road was great with spectacular views – Lorne and Apollo bay to mention a couple of places. We stopped to see the famous 12 Apostles – a rock formation off the cliffs, we counted and there is only 7 or 8 left standing now though. After the ocean road it was time to get a move on, we stopped in Bordertown to see Tahnee who I met in America a few years back and stayed there for the weekend. It was a good weekend – it’s a very small town but we went to watch a local Aussie rules football match which was a good experience. So after a good weekend we headed to Adelaide.
ooo young man!

ooo young man!


We were kind of looking forward to a night out as it there hasn’t been much going on since we left Melbourne. We stayed in a hostel that night (the Cannon Street hostel) – I have to name and shame this one as it was disgusting, it would even give some of the $2 hostels I stayed in South America a run for their money – I would not recommend it. So we were parking up in the side street and Tom reversed the van in to a fire hydrant – it smashed the light so it wasn’t to bad. ( I could still not drive due to my foot so I decided to take the piss to much, lol). I gave Emily a ring a girl I met in the USA back in June last year so it was good to catch up. She took us on a guided tour of Adelaide so we could get our bearings which was really nice of her. We headed out that night and were not impressed, there isn’t much going on in Adelaide to be honest.
Fowlers Bay sand dunes

Fowlers Bay sand dunes


From Adelaide we headed up to Port Augusta and spent the night there after having to find a doctor for me due to my foot still giving me a lot of pain, I could still not walk on it and still could not feel a couple of my toes. He said the glass may have cut a nerve… ok, so what can I do about it I asked? Nothing – doctors are not the best over here in the small towns I have found out so I will get it looked at properly in Perth. He gave me some antibiotics, a tetanus jab and sent me on my way. It was starting to become a real pain, I couldn’t drive, I could walk much further then 100 meters and I was in pain. Serves me right I suppose.
On the dunes

On the dunes


We arrived in Port Lincoln and was told there was really good fishing off the docks – so we headed there and instantly started reeling in fish after fish. That was until two sea lions came by to show off in front of us. We didn’t mind to much though as it’s a pretty cool site sitting off a dock watching two sea lions whilst fishing.
So after spending the night in the city of Port Lincoln we decided to hit the Port Lincoln National Park. We were soon cursing the women in the tourist information as she said that we would not need a 4x4 to get there – ok we didn’t need one to get there but the 28km of dirt track didn’t do Sandy any good Im sure (Sandy is what we have called our van by the way). So we finally made it to the bay which had a camp site on it. This park is truly beautiful – it is un spoilt which makes it even better. I think this is probably the best place we have stumbled upon to camp so far. We only had tins of food left so unless we wanted dinner out of a can it was time to catch a fish big enough to eat. Me and Tom did not disappoint! We were pulling up loads of fish but then me and Tom caught two big Flathead fish – the guy in the campsite said they were really nice to eat. So I stood up to gut the fish. I have never gutted a fish before but I believe if you can eat it you should be able to kill it. Now it wasn’t perfect but I did it and we had a nice fried Falthead to complement our bolognaise. I was over the moon as that’s what I had wanted to do – catch a fish, gut it and eat it! The $200 plus that we had spent on fishing gear was starting to pay off (slowly, lol).
The start of the Nullarbor

The start of the Nullarbor


That night we shared our campsite with Emu’s and Kangaroos’. Neil was a little worried when he got up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night when he saw a Kangaroo standing in front of him but it was all good.
We headed to Fowlers Bay the following day after a night stop in Ceduna. We turned off the main road only to be confronted with another dirt track – another 23km of it. We were beginning to think we should have bought a 4x4, but we trundled on very slowly and made it to Fowlers Bay. The town, if you can call it that basically consists of camping site, a kiosk and about a dozen houses and a jetty. We went for a bit of a fish but it was pretty uneventful, so decided to head up the sand dunes that towered over the little town. It was amazing, it seemed like we were in a desert rather than on the coast in Australia – so after about an hour of messing around and taking some funny photos (see below) we called it a night. We had to leave early that morning as we planned on a long drive to get to the fourth state on our trip – Western Australia.
Be careful!

Be careful!


My foot was feeling a bit better by this point, I still could not walk properly but it was definitely on the mend so I decided to give the guys a break and do some of the driving. One thing that was a bit of a shock was the fuel prices – we were paying $1.26 before we hit the Nullaboor and we didn’t pay under $1.70 a litre along the way, ouch. We had traveled around 850km that day so we pulled into one of the free campsites along the Nullarbor, before we hit Australia’s longest straight road (its 146km long!). We made it just before sunset so managed to cook before we lost the light, there was no light pollution so the sky was lit up with stars. I have never seen so many stars in my life – it was quite a stunning sight.
SA - WA border

SA - WA border


We decided to have our first camp fire of our trip so Tom and Neil went off to find some wood – not something I fancied doing – going off in to the shrubs when its dark. The trip across the Nullabor was nothing like I had expected – maybe it was the time of year but it was very green – I was expecting more of a desert. I did think it looked very much like the plains in Africa though just a few trees scattered around and lots of sparse plains.
Nullabor

Nullabor


The next day we started around 7am and set off to our next destination, Esperance. Esperance has white sandy beaches and is a gorgeous town. Well I’m going to leave this installment there as its been quite a long one. We are heading to Margret River and then on to find some work in Perth – wish me luck!
Our first camp fire

Our first camp fire

Posted by dezmondos 16:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia

Lets put another shrimp on the barbie!

sunny 28 °C
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I finally made it to the land down under to start my mammoth road trip. The plan is to buy a camper van and do a loop around Australia, starting in Sydney passing through Melbourne, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Perth, Darwin and go down the east coast back down to Sydney.
The plane journey was pretty uneventful, (as everyone hopes before getting on a plane!), it was strange leaving Chile on the 22nd Feb and arriving to Aus on the 24th. Lost a day of my life on that trip!
Opera House and Harbor Bridge

Opera House and Harbor Bridge


So I landed in Sydney and I will be honest it was a total shock, I don’t think I was prepared for the culture change. It was almost like being back in England and I didn’t like it one bit – soon got over that thouugh must have lasted an hour or so lol. Zoe, a firend from Bath who is now living in Australia very kindly put me up for the first couple of weeks, so I went from staying in hostel dorms to staying in a amazing apartment in the centre of Sydney. I spent the day doing all the boring stuff such as washing, bank accounts, tax file number, medi card etc before heading out that night for my first ever crab racing night! Unluckily I never won a race with my crab – the appropriately named Captain Slow. This pub was crazy, they had a garden hose out spraying people throughout the night, 6 pack and hula hoop competitions.
Getting into the spirit of things

Getting into the spirit of things


Now I soon found out that alcohol is crazily expensive over here and the exchange rate is also terrible at the moment so a pint can set you back around 5 pounds English, doh. So it looks like I'm going to be drinking the famous goon (cheap wine in boxes – if you can call it wine that is…) for my time in Australia. The next day I went out for a run around the botanical gardens and harbor where the Sydney Opera house and Harbor bridge are situated. I met up with Zoe and her housemate Hannah for a few drinks outside the Opera house. It was an amazing feeling to be there, its one of the must see sights. Sydney is such a beautiful city – beaches, parks – what else do you need?
Mardi Gras fun

Mardi Gras fun


Now I didn’t know but it was the Mardi Gras parade three days after I arrived so that Saturday we headed with over 300,000 other people to Oxford street where the Parade was to take place. Someone told me that a third of Sydney is gay or lesbian which I laughed off at first but after spending a few weeks here I can quite believe it. It was definitely a night to remember. Luckily a few of Zoe's friends had saved us a spot at the front. A few of the girls bought plastic stools so they could see everything – which they feel off numerous time over the night. We bought some drink with us and camped out in our space for the evening.We met a couple of gay guys Abe and Sean who were standing next to us, they were a real good laugh – even if they kept on trying to persuade me that I’m gay. I cant blame them for trying though as I did have my top off blowing a whistle!
The Parade

The Parade


The Parade itself was amazing, there was so many different types of floats – its one of the best nights out I have had. After recovering for two days after the Mardi Gras my friend Tom who I used to work with in Bath came out to Australia for the year. It was really cool as he wanted to get a camper van as well which worked out perfectly. The next week in Sydney was a bit of a blur to be honest, we had fajita nights, went to the crab racing yet again and met some really cool people. Katherine who actually went to Bath University when I was there and her friend Tess were a really good laugh.
Home and Away

Home and Away


We did the coastal walk from Manly to Spit bridge which was pretty tough and took around three hours but was well worth it. We also visited Orbit a tall building with a revolving restaurant bar at the top with views over Sydney. We did most of the other sights such as the fish market, Australian museum and Bondi beach over the next week before it was time to buy our camper van and head off. Sydney had wiped me out of money so it was time to leave – I have to say that Sydney is up there with my favorite cities, New York and Rio.
A night in cooking

A night in cooking


By this time I was a little fed up of looking at camper vans top be honest, we saw so much rubbish I cant believe people could actually think they would sell them. A lot of them were wrecks with 500k on the clock and they still wanted good money. The most important thing to us was to find one that would make it around the country, so we settled on a Toyota Hi ace with pop top – it was perfect for us – it had sofas that fold into a bed and the pop top gives us a lot more room inside. It has its own little kitchen area in the back with a stove and sink which is a must for the cheap living to begin. It was a lot more then I intended on spending but at the end of the day you get what you pay for and looking at it now we might even make a little money on her if it all goes well.
What a camper!

What a camper!


We thought we would go on a test run to make sure we had everything we needed in the van so took her for a weekend in Palm Beach just north of Sydney. Charlotte a girl we met in Sydney also came along for the trip – she was a really good laugh. Palm beach is where they film Home and Away and its such a nice beach – apart from all the jellyfish in the water. So I got the photo in front of the surf club before we found a beach that was quieter and we could set up camp for the night. We were staying on Whale beach which was stunning. It is such a great feeling to just rock up anywhere and crash for the night – you feel so free. So after a pretty decent meal we settled down for the night. We thought we might get moved on as you aren't allowed to camp at the beaches but all was well.
Manly to Spit coastel walk

Manly to Spit coastel walk


I woke in the morning to paradise, the sunrise was amazing – I even went for a 6.30am run down the beach! I was told that showering was one of the worst things about living in a camper van and it turns out to be true – cold beach showers everyday – I will have to gewt used to it. But I suppose if that’s the worst it gets I cant complain. We stayed in Rose Bay the following night before starting our trip to Melbourne, we were in no rush so we gathered we would just stop along the way taking our time to get there – probably a week or so.
Living the dream

Living the dream


We were driving down the coast roads which was a great drive – we stopped at 7 mile beach in Wollongong for lunch on the beach and ended up finding this little fish shop which was really cheap. We came out of the shop with all the gear but not a clue what to do! It didn’t stop me catching two fish that day – we were hoping that we would catch dinner but the fish were a little to small for that. We thought the rods would be a good investment as once we have them it doesn’t cost a penny to fish. We stopped in a nature reserve in Jervis Bay that night and got up at the crack of dawn to fish off the beach. I was tempted to go for a swim but the evening before when we were fish Tom saw a shark in the surf so I thought id wait to swim somewhere else.
A catch on the first attempt

A catch on the first attempt


So that’s the end of my first installment of life in Australia. The plan is to hit Melbourne for the Grand Prix and then head to Perth in a month or so.

Posted by dezmondos 19:45 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Chile

The end of my Americas tour...

sunny 30 °C
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The bus from Mendoza to Santiago took ages! It was the worst border crossing I have been across on my trip so far! It took about three hours due to the Chileans being paranoid about people bringing fruit, vegetables, meat and animals into the country – seriously, we went through more checks then you do at an airport. They did take there job a bit to seriously, especially when they took a feather off a little girl who had it in her bag – I mean come on… Im sure a bird can fly cross the border – what harm is a feather going to do?? The plus part about the journey was that it took me right through the Andes, what a view!
Through the Andes

Through the Andes


Even though it is summer there was still snow on some of the mountains. Now being as I had to get down to Pucon I skipped through Santiago and booked a night bus that took 10 hours to Pucon. I only have 10 days left on this trip and there is no way Im spending it in a city. This did involve an 8 hour wait at Santiago bus station – it was crazily busy so the whole time I was sitting on the floor watching my things (the less glamorous side to traveling).
I arrive at Pucon and found the Tree House Hostel which had been recommended to my by someone I met in Bariloche.
Villarrica Volcano from afar

Villarrica Volcano from afar


The first day just involved having a walk around the town and spending some time on the beach. Well I say beach – it is a beach on the lake, but it was still pretty cool. No pucon is a beautiful place, whilst you are sitting on the beach you can see the Villarrica volcano touring over the town – the one which I was going to climb the following day. I booked through a local tour company – Paredon tours – who Mourisimo the tour guide/owner is known as one of the best in the business. Now a lot of the tour companies were taking groups of 20 – 25 people up at a time, we had a group of 6. They supplied us with all the equipment (crampons, ice pick etc) which at that point I realized that its all pretty serious – not your usual trek up a hill. Villaricca volcano is 2847 meters high – we started from 1200m. Luckily we had a clear day so at 7 am we got the ski lift up to the start point.
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Our guide was worried about the amount of sulfur coming from the volcano (oh yeah, I forgot to mention it was an active volcano) and the wind was blowing it over our path. So he held us back until 10am at the bottom to try and give it time to clear. I have to admit I was doubting Mourisimo at this point, all the other treks were a third of the way up and we we sitting at the bottom still. Eventually we got going and it was all pretty easy at first. As we were going up some people were already heading down after not making it to the top so I was expecting it to get a lot tougher. At that point our guide decided to take us off the trail where everyone was going up and took us up a really steep part of the volcano. It was so steep… he was making foot holes for us with his ice pick in the snow and ice. The worst part of this is when the wind got up you really are clinging on for life. Well I say life the worst that would happen is that you slide down the side of the volcano but it would mean you would have to walk back up again, which I didn’t really fancy doing. We got to the top and walked out onto a ridge about half way up the volcano.
Steep climb

Steep climb


The views were spectacular! You could see over the entire region. The rest of the groups were starting to head down at this point as the sulfur meant you could not make it to the top but all credit to Mourisimo he held us back and we waited for another two hours to see if the sulfur would clear. I could think of a lot worse places to be sitting eating my lunch!
Villarrica Volcano

Villarrica Volcano


When the last group started to head back down we were all disappointed as we didn’t think we would be making it to the top. But all of a sudden it cleared and we were left with the whole mountain to ourselves. It took us about an hour and a half to reach the top which was a pretty steep climb but wasn’t to difficult. All the waiting around and patience had paid off when we made it to the top. It felt so good to be up there especially being the only group at the top. The views were stunning. I have to admit I think this was the best thing I have done on my trip so far. All credit to our guide, he knew what he was doing. At the top you could look into the crater – the noise from the rumbling lave beneath was immense!
Lunch on the ridge

Lunch on the ridge


Now for the best part – it was time to go down. But no, we weren't walking we were sliding back down the volcano on our bums. It was such a rush as some points were pretty close to being vertical. You basically just jump and go using your ice pick to slow you down. It took about 25 minutes to reach the bottom.
Afterwards we were all shattered but Mourisimo took us back to his from popcorn and beer which was the perfect end to the day. I cannot recommend his company enough, he really knows what he is doing. The next few days involved a lot of lazing around at the beach and lots of local wine. Pucon is up there with some of the best places I have been.
Celebrating

Celebrating


So I arrived in Santiago for my final three days. We turned out to be really good as the hostel had a pool. I went and did a walk around the city visiting San Cristobel a statue on a hill in the middle of the city. You can see over the whole city which is pretty flat until you see the snow capped mountains in the background. Now there was a train going up the hill but we were thinking it cant be that hard to walk up… We were wrong! Well it would have been easy if we stuck to the path but we saw what we thought was a short cut through the trees. It was quite rocky and steep but we thought we would make it. We were wrong after lots of cuts on my feet we gave up and walked the long way round. Santiago doesn’t get many good reports from travelers but to be honest its pretty similar to BA.
The crater

The crater


This is my final post from my Americas tour – one third of my trip is now over :-(. I'm a lot sadder then I thought I would be to be honest, don’t get me wrong I'm really excited about getting to Australia, but I really have had the time of my life . Over the last eight months I have been through 15 countries, and spent more then 18 days on long distance buses!
Everyone asks me what has been my favorite country… but it is impossible top say as they have all been so different. I do have my three favorites though that I will definitely return to at some point:
At the summit

At the summit


Panama
Everyone is surprised when I say Panama but it is such a cool country. You have the Boca islands on the Atlantic side which are amazing – they call them the Galapagos Islands of Central America and I can see why. Then it has the San Blas islands which a just beautiful – eating my breakfast on a sand island with one palm tree when I sailed through them is going to stay with me for the rest of my life. Even Panama city is a decent place – so it really does have it all.

Brazil
Even though its so expensive it still makes my top three. The Pantanel, Rio de Janeiro Ihla Grande… need I say more. Its such a big country though so I will 100% return for a trip up the Amazon at some point.

Colombia
What a country, so much to see and do. The Colombians are probably the friendliest nationality I have come across. They have great cities, an excellent coast, its just a really fun place to visit.
Long way to go...

Long way to go...


Now before I end this chapter of my story I have a few words of wisdom from traveling in South America:

• Never trust a taxi driver – whatever price he quotes, half it and you will be somewhere close to a fair price.
• Ron (rum) is not always your friend
• Speak more Spanish then I do – it will help a lot!
• Look after your camera ( 3 cameras down so far!)
• Don’t make set plans – they will change when you get here! (but that’s the fun part)
• Budget – plan what you can afford to spend – double it – add money for beer and you will be close to the amount you will spend.
• Always carry toilet paper and throw any standards you have on toilets out of the window
• Be prepared to spend a lot of time on buses!
• Take US dollars as a back up – have saved me on countless occasions

Thanks for keeping up with the blog but it ain't over yet, I will try and do a monthly update from my year long camper van trip in Australia.
The long way down

The long way down

Posted by dezmondos 15:22 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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