Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Touristy things...

Sunny Autumn day in the Botannical Gardens

The Welshies return for a few nights of mayhem (them - not me dad!)

The thing about living and working in a place is that you become so accustomed to your daily routine and the places you know that you forget to do all the things you came here to do.

So I'm trying to fill out the last of my time in Melbourne doing the touristy things and not just watching dvds and working.

On Monday, Swedish Jen and I explored Chapel Street - a long road crammed with boutiques, one-off shops, cafes, funky bars and music shops. We spent a few hours traipsing along and wishing we had money before catching one of the ancient-looking trams back to St Kilda for a movie night.

Yesterday, we returned there and ate Thai food at a pavement cafe in the sunshine (it was about 30C at the start of the week) and bought loads of fresh fruit. When Jenny disappeared off to work, I walked further up the street and explored the suburb of South Yarra with it's lovely old houses with wrought-iron balconies, tram lines criss-crossing the tree-lined streets and pavement cafes.

Eventually I came to the Botanical Gardens and wandered around in the afternoon sunshine for an hour or so - the autumn weather here is like those wonderful late summer days in England - perfect weather for a walk.

Then it was the Shrine of Remembrance - a large memorial to those who gave their lives in the World Wars. Rather like an ancient temple, it is a commanding structure in the city. Around it are an eternal flame, the nation and state flags and dozens of memorials to various battalions, commanders, police officers killed in the line of duty, and also a specific one to the men who died building the Thai-Burma railway. That had special significance for me - having seen the places many died.

I wandered around the arts centre and then walked to Collins Street and the Rialto tower - the tallest office building in the southern hemisphere. I went to the top of the observation deck to watch sunset over the city and stayed until it was dark and the lights of the city were winking and blinking away up to the mountains in the distance.

I then bumped into a couple from Churchdown in Gloucester. Which was weird.

Other than that, I have been working a lot of hours - 13 hour shifts again at the weekend which is great money wise but bad for the energy levels. The bunch I work with are great and I am sad in a way that I'm not staying longer to work here. But Autumn is truly rolling in now - today was miserable and rainy - and the restaurant is quiet on those days. Tonight I went in for an hour and a half. Hardly worth getting out of bed for.

Two people - Alisa and Matt - who I work with have moved into Jenny and my apartment for the next week and we're all planning a road trip to see the Penguins at Philip Island on Friday. Right now, I'm off to watch Flubber with them...

Sunrise after an all-nighter on Tuesday

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

where have the last few weeks gone?

Melbourne has been a great deal of fun and it's almost time to leave.

I've been working a bit, partying a bit and generally having a good time. Workwise, my shifts vary from 13 hour montrosities with few, if any, breaks to piddly periods of less than three hours.

Danielle hasn't been able to find a job so is deserting me for Perth. Although I'll catch up with her in a few weeks, it's going to be hard and horrid to be in different places.

On Monday crazy Caroline left and with her, the rules of stalking and stories about Take That... you kind of had to be here but let's just say we were both hoping to casually track down the That when they were in Australia recently...

Today, Finnish Jenny leaves and English follows suit tomorrow and Danielle on Saturday. That leaves just Swedish and me and half an empty apartment. So it will be knuckling down to save and earn cash for a bit before I head off.

We've had some cracking nights out - hooking up with some of the Manly crew such as Jana and Amy - and today the Welshies and Geordie Steve came to Melbourne from Adelaide for a few nights out. So life isn't dull.

It hasn't all been drinking either (you'll be pleased to know dad). I've been exploring some of the alleyways in town (during the day, perverts) and checking out little cafes and boutiques and wandering tree-lined streets.

Swedish, Finnish, Danielle and I were off to Melbourne Museum on Monday but, as it was too sunny to be inside, decided to trapise Brunswick St in arty farty Fitzroy instead and had lunch and coffees in cool little cafes and chatted away before coming back to St Kilda beach to watch the sunset.

Amello, the restaurant where I work, is at the sea baths and right on the beach. Most evenings there are just the most stunning sunsets over the waters. A few nights ago the sky was ablaze for ages with pinks, oranges and reds and the clouds smudged the light across the horizon.

Work is going well. It's bizarre to be working in a restaurant again (which I swore blind I'd never do again) and reminds me of the old days working at Bowden Hall... The food is amazing at this place and we get free pizza every night - a very dangerous place to work clearly.

It's ok work though and it's nice to meet new people and save a bit of money although the hours are pretty irregular.

There's still so much to do in Melbourne before I leave - Neighbours night and/or tour, the museums and galleryies. Melbourne is the food capital of Australia (and they love their food here) so clearly there is more tasty treating to be done. It's going to be weird and hard without Danielle though and with Swedish Jen working such long hours.

Toda, we took a picnic to St Kilda Botanical Gardens as a kind of farewell - spuds from spudbar (a litre of sour cream? half a block of cheese? oh go on then) and cakes from the very lovely cake shops along Acland Street. It's been a baking 31C today though - the weather here is as changeable as UK summers and we've seen pretty much every kind of temperature and weather variation this week.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Melbourne and St Kilda

Been having a very productive week.

Last Thursday we met up with four girls here who had been staying at Manly Backpackers over Christmas and New Year - two of them I shared a room with at the hostel.

There is Tania and then, would you believe, three Jenny's - English, Swedish and Finnish...

We went out and partied with them in St Kilda - they live in a cool little residential area near the Botanical Gardens. It's away past Acland Street - a cool street full of funky shops, cafes selling THE most amazing cakes, all sorts of eateries...

Anyway, we met up with Wolsey, who had come down from Manly with Oirish John and his lady - so it was a bit of a Manly renuion.

As Tania was leaving the following day, the Jennys said we could move in. Rent is fairly decent (and cheaper than the hostel) so we went back to the hostel on Friday night and moved into the girl's place on Saturday.

On Friday evening, Danielle and I went to watch March of the Penguins at the Moonlight Cinema in town. There has been a huge water festival over the holiday (Labor Day) weekend in Melbourne so there was a carnival along both sides of the river bank with rides, live music and so on.

So we huddled on our beach towels on one side of the river, watching a screen on the other bank and behind it the skyscrapers of the city. It was pretty special.

The next day we lugged our stuff to St Kilda and into the flat. It's pretty awesome to have our own place again - and all girls! No smelly boys!

After moving in, I hauled ass around town handing CVs into cafes and bars. It's pretty backpacker orientated so there aren't many jobs going - esp as it's the end of summer.

But I ended up scoring a trial at a restaurant called Amello's at St Kilda baths on the beachfront.

So Sunday, I rocked up and was sent back 10 years to when I started my first waitressing job - and was polishing cutlery like a demon. The people there were pretty cool and the food is great - cheap staff lunches at $5 (two quid) for a delicious pizza, pasta, fish and chips, salads, pretty much most of the dishes off the menu or anything you can think of.

They asked me to stay on a few hours (paid) and then gave me a job which was awesome, pretty fast work.

So of course we had to go out and celebrate with a few beers... We hit a few bars and ended up meeting Wolsey and two surprises - Chandler who had left Sydney in January and Patrick - one of the first people I spoke to in Manly.

So we had a ball dancing and drinking the night away - until my head hit the pillow at 6am. It wasn't so great when i had to be at work at 12...

But things are going well. St Kilda's has grown on me massively although I am sad to be a little out of city life. It's awesome to have friends here already - although English and Finnish leave in two weeks or less.

Life is good, the sun is still shining (sort of) although the winds and stronger and cooler now. Winter is on it's way...

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Great Ocean adventure

It was time to do the Great Ocean Road - to whizz along the southern coastal road of Victoria by the sea shore and through the lush forests east of Melbourne.

We hired a yellow car for the purpose - a snazy little Hyundai Getz (top car) and dragged one of our roommates from the backpackers along for the ride.

Poor Dave - the Canadian chap had to spend two whole days with us while we sang Britney, obsessed over food and swerved along the Great Ocean Road. He coped remarkably well.

It should have been an early start for us but, well, being us it was 10.30am before we hit the road - and promptly got lost in the city centre trying to find the freeway. I had to negotiate Melbourne's right-hand turns - no mean feat when signs say "Use left lane to turn right"...

But the sunshine spurred us on and we were soon on our way to Geelong (pronounced jerlong) before a stop at Subway for sandwiches and then onto the route to Torquay.

Here we stopped at Bells Beach - made famous in the surf dude film Point Break - wandered a lot and then hopped in the car. I was designated driver but we made quite a few stops at viewpoints along the way.

The scenery was stunning when I could take my eyes off the twisting and turning road along the mountainsides with waves pounding the beaches and cliffs below us.

It just stretched on for miles and miles of beautiful coastline and changing landscapes of green hillsides to scraggy bushland around us.

After a late lunch stop at Lorne for delicious foccacias and warming coffees (the weather had turned cold, windy and grey), we continued our route with Danielle taking the wheel at the next town.

This was where the road turned inland to wind through forests and the Otway range of mountains. We detoured to a lighthouse on Cape Otway and saw Koalas in the trees around the site.

The lighthouse was closed by the time we arrived, but we took a walk up the hill through bushland (with signs to watch out for snakes) but there wasn't much of a view.

Then we hopped back in the car for another windy route through the hills to the 12 Apostles - one of the highlights of the route.

We arrived just before dusk to see the eight stacks of rock highlighted by the setting sun. We watched and waited for sunset, seeing the 'apostles' bathed in a golden glow. Sunset itself was rather a disappointment...

...the sun sank low in the sky as a bright orangey pinky ball before just disappearing without pomp, ceremony or so much as a pink smudge on the horizon.

The trio then made our way wearily to the next town - Port Campbell - to find Dave a backpackers. Unfortunately there was no room at the inn. Or the caravan park. D and I were planning to sleep in the car but Dave, bless his heart, is rather a tall guy and the car was pretty small.

Luckily, a chap at the caravan park made a call to a woman who lives on a hill, up a windy dirt track and sorted Dave out with the room at the back of her house for $75. He had to take it - there was no choice. The hunt for food proved fruitless - another town with shops, cafes, takeouts, closing before 9pm and only expensive restaurants were open. So we made do with chocolate bars and crisps from the pub and drove Dave up into the middle of nowhere in the pitch black.

By this time, D and I were freaking out about sleeping in the car in a layby or middle of nowhere - and driving to this scary place in the dark wasn't helping.

However there was a warm welcome at the house and a lovely double bed and ensuite room for Dave with a TV, kettle and coffee-making stuff - even towels and soap. Rather luxurious for backpackers. We told the lady we were sleeping in the car and she took pity on us and brought two mattresses in for D and I, saying it was good karma for her son's travels.

So we spent the evening in comfort and warmth playing snap and giggling. Sadly Dave snored loudly ALL NIGHT - half-wakingly blaming it on Danielle at one point and oblivious to my thumps and punches.

After buying chocs for the lady of the house, we popped to buy our food for the day at 'the supermarket' (a corner shop) and survived off peanut butter and jam sandwiches all day.

Then it was off to London Bridge and Bay of Islands (more rock formations and stacks) and then retracing our steps back towards 12 Apostles for the Loch Ard Gorge.

The coastline is renowned for ship wrecks thanks to the perilious seas of the Bass Straits and here, at the start of the last century, the Loch Ard ship was wrecked with the loss of all lives but two. A young man Tom Pearce saved the life of Eva Simpson in the gorge from the stormy seas and climbed out up sheer cliffs with a broken arm to get her help. So that was a nice story and a lovely walk in the heat along the headland.

Then we drove back along the Great Ocean Road, taking it in turns to drive and take pics and singing along to mine and Dave's (very) limited collection of CDs.

It was a massive rush to get back to Budget rental by 5.30pm but we ended up making it there at 5.55pm - five minutes before it closed up and we had to pay for another day. phew. We waved goodbye to our little yellow car with sadness... again soon my friend. Again soon...

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

And so... to Melbourne

So... Danielle and I wound our way down to Melbourne in a lesiurely, carefree way last week.

We took a Premier Motors bus to Ulladulla, just under five hours south of Sydney.

Arriving just after dark, we hauled our backpackers and breaking daypacks (me) down a steep hill and up another one to Travellers Rest backpackers. It was a cute little blue bungalow on the hill infront of the owners' home.

It was an old-fashioned little place with polished floors, pine bunk-beds crammed into the small rooms but with a large sitting room complete with ancient TV (I mean ancient - turn the dials to tune type thing) and all in all rather like your grandparents home.

The place holds 16 people - it would be jam-packed if full - but luckily there were only 6 of us the first night.

We grabbed a KFC from across the road (after a very hairy five minutes as I attempted to pass the huntsman spider on the outside stairs) , as we couldn't bear the walk back down the hill to the town, and chilled out for the evening.

The next morning we decided to explore the town and take a walk around the headlands to the beach. The hill our backpackers was on fed down to the harbour and the road ran straight up the other side of the steep-sided valley and was lined with shops and cafes. It is a small, retirement-age and slightly-worn place and not cheap at all. But after a coffee, we set off for our walk. We walked back past the small harbour, up the hill again and turned off into the north headland for a walk through the bush and to the viewpoints.

We were so engrossed in chatting and taking pictures, we even started the circular route again - well all bush looks the same to us!

Then we walked down into a little secluded and seaweed strewn bay which we had to ourselves. The sea was FREEZING so we paddled a little and then sunbathed until our tummies began to rumble. So we walked around the rocks to Mollymook beach - a huge golden arc of sand which reminded me a little of Palm Beach (Home and Away's Summer Bay).

Here the waves were large and we sat and had veggieburgers overlooking the sands. The rest of the afternoon was taken up with wandering through the streets nearby and the cemetery (check out the vaults - VAULTS!) and thinking that all the homes and wide streets reminded us of America.

It was all very Boston, Danielle thought, while I imagined it to look like New England with its wooden houses and tree-lined roads.

In the evening the backpackers filled up a little, with the owners shoving three other girls in our tiny room (despite the fact that there were other, empty rooms), so we escaped to the tiny, faded cinema for a bit of Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore cheesy wonderfullness in the form of Music and Lyrics. The songs have been stuck in my head ever since.

Our bus the next day did not leave until 2.20pm but we had strict (and I mean strict) instructions to leave the premises by 9.45am (although we could leave our bags in the spider-infested pit under the balcony). So Danielle and I decided to take the walk around the south headland.

This was a lot of fun as we spotted laurikeats and all kinds of fanastic wildlife in the bush. The path wove along the clifftops and we could look south along the coastline and down on beaches pounded by heavy surf. We watched some daring surfers paddling far out to sea and expertly riding waves which must have been at least 10ft above them.

We passed a lighthouse at the headland peak and continued our walk through the trees and along the cliffs. Until we reached a clearing and the end of the trail marked on a rubbish map given to us at the hostel. hmmm. D swore blind the guy had said we could go down onto the beach and along the cliffs back to the harbour.

By this time, our stomach's were rumbling and we'd had enough of bloody birds and bloody trees and ant holes and photos. Our heads were heavy with the heat, we were virtually out of water and the sun was beating down on us with full force. But we climbed down the steps to the beach and picked our way past crabs and stones and pebbles and seaweeds right around until there was a slight problem. A lot of cliff face. A lot of water. Not much rock. We attempted to see how far the narrow ledge went around but I didn't really fancy the papers back home reporting on the death of another 'two stupid Brit girls die in stupid accident' headline. The shame would have killed me.

So I persuaded Danielle it was the stupid idea that she knew deep down it was (this is a girl who thought it wise to climb over a cliff-side fence onto two inches of crumbling soil to pose behind a bush for a photo...) and we wearily climbed back around to the steps and tried not to pass out from heat as we ascended back into the cool forest. It was about a two minute walk back to the road we discovered. Bummer.

We treated ourselves to lunch at the boardwalk cafe as a przie for not dying on the rocks and then collected our stuff for the short trip to Narooma.

We arrived around 5pm and checked into to our next place - Lynch's Hotel. Our room was above the smoky pub and it was fantastic. We had to walk on a little covered balcony to our room - a glass-panelled double door led into a tiny room with a double bed, towels, little wash stand and sink and with the doors open, we could lie on the bed and see over the balcony to the north coast - waves smashing against the cliff.

Setting straight out, we tried to book a tour to see the penguins, seals and dolphins on Montague Island - but they were expensive and apparently the penguins are malting at the moment so we were unlikely to catch them. Disappointed, we booked a tour up the inslet for the following day.

We then wandered around the shore of the inslet as the sun sank in the sky and watched pelicans landing in the water, sat and revelled in the beauty of the scene before us - green mountains reflected in the water and the calmness of the atmosphere, before wandering up the steepest hill in the world to the hotel and watching sunset over the mountains on the balcony. After a gourmet pizza, we got into our pj's and hit the hay.

The next morning we stumbled to Woolies and bought fresh bread, cheese and salami and headed to the inlet to eat it on the grass. We lay, rested (what a wearying day) and watched children splashing about in the water, before taking our cruise on a little Waronga Princess boat.

The 100-year-old boat was filled with OAPs and a couple of kids and was captained by Charlie - a funny chap and the third Charlie in his family. He regaled us with tales of old-times in Narooma, history of the area ("This house here was built over 40 years ago!") and actually very interesting titbits. We heard about sharks he and his father had caught (proper big, scary sharks here) right in the inlet, the fish to be found and how they were caught, pointed out sea eagles and their nests and the rainforest parts and was generally rather amusing.

Then we stopped off for a walk through a bit of rainforest (not far - most people needed zimmerframes really) to see scary plants which stang lots, layers of shells the abo's used to throw down and all this was followed by a Devonshire Tea (served by a real Croc Dundee chap) on the banks of the inlet.

Then it was time to sample Sydney Rock Oysters which live in the inlet and which are supposedly some of the best in the world. I ate two.

Back on land, Danielle and I waited around and dozed (it had been a hard day) before getting fish and chips for supper. There was a hairy moment when D refused to eat her fish (there was a wobbling bottom lip I'm sure) but i managed to scrape the skin off it for her. Sometimes we mother each other. I say sometimes. We have to stop each other's strops a lot.

Then it was back up the hill to the "hotel" to watch lightening flash over the mountains and eventually to the bus stop at 10pm.

Uh oh... once on the bus to Melbourne I realised Oysters had NOT been a good idea. Luckily the immodium was on hand but it took a long time to locate...

Not much sleep was had on the bus so by the time we arrived in Melbourne (pronounce Melbun to avoid offending aussies - oh and CAN-berra not Can-bare-rah)at 7.30am, I was in full grouch mode and about to throw up.

After a worrying few minutes where I threatened to throw my toys out of the pram, we decided to get a taxi to Hotel Bakpack, one of the few we rang which would let us check in immediately.

It was a shit-hole to be frank. Big, immpersonal, though lots of things like free breakfast, tours, a job centre to keep people amused. Our room smelled. It was small and the beds were rickety. We showered in the dirty bathroom and then headed for sustenance.

The day was spent exploring. We walked up Lygon Street (Little Italy) and to Brunswick Street in Fitzroy for coffee. I loved this place. At first I thought "colourful"? More like a ghetto. The same way Barton Street in Glos or inner-city London suburbs could be described as colourful. More ghetto-like. But this gave way to funky flea shops and cafes with hundreds of people sat having breakfast in the sunshine (it was Sunday morning). Older buildings, all colourfully painted and with huge, artistic signs hanging off them and good strong coffee.

Then we caught the free city tram around the outskirts of the CBD and went around 1 1/2 times, found some sushi and then walked over the river. We jumped on a tram to St Kilda and walked down funky Fitzroy Street (cooler than school bars and cafes) to the beach. It wasn't Manly.

A thin scuzzy beach, horrid harbour dirty water. Seaside England air. Yuck yuck yuck.

Then a tram to South Melbourne and found Urban Central backpackers -still large but CLEAN and trendy. We booked in for the following night and then made our way back up to Little Italy for a slap-up pasta meal (well we deserved it for er making it safely to Melbourne - it was a free glass of wine with a meal too!). It was my first drink since leaving Manly and I felt extremely tipsy after.

The next day we moved our crap to Urban Central and then went shopping for a camera for Danielle (she lost hers at Sounds on Sunday in Jan). We also booked a car for two days for our trip to the Great Ocean Road on Tues and Weds.

That evening, we discovered there was a free BBQ at the hostel so filled up on that, met our roommates for the night - Jeannine and Dave - and made them join us for drinks in the hostel bar.

The following day was the Great Ocean Road drive... but that's a story for another day... pics to come too....

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Monday, March 05, 2007

up up and away

So we have finally waved farewell to Sydney. It was a hard wrench after four months of fun and frolics... but it was time.

We had a crazy time of partying away our last few days and of intentions to do all the things we'd never found time for.

After work on Friday we went for a few drinks with Noah, Andrew and the new temps Kirsten and Rich at Pier 26 at Darling Harbour.

Then it was back to Manly and the hostel where everyone was gearing up for a party in the courtyard. Dani grabbed my camera and ran around taking snaps of everyone as they downed the goon.

On Saturday we had planned to go to Watsons Bay and watch the sun set but it was a cloudy and grey day so Dani, Danielle and I grabbed coffees in Candys, a great little book-lined, game-filled coffee shop, and quizzed each other with Australian Trivial Pursuit. Who knew it was easier than the UK version?! Then we wandered along Manly beach at dusk playing stupid word association games and giggling like school girls.

That evening was another awesome night out. The hostel were holding a man auction - a pretty horrendouse idea which involved girls 'bidding' for the man by offering to down a certain number of glasses of goon. The highest number won and the girl and the guy then drank that many glasses and were tied to the boy. Whoever stayed tied the longest to their girl won a few free nights accommodation.

It was as hideous as it sounds but all in good fun and there were many matey bondings in the end. Danielle and I ended up bidding jointly for a cute German guy who was one of the last to go (there were far fewer girls than guys) and Karim turned out to be a real laugh.

It was hilarious as he tried to contain his modesty going to the toilet... we ended up winning for him.

Then it was off to the Steyne one last evening for a bit of boogie-time.

Sunday was a huge write-off. I ended up talking to two crazy crazy amazing Canadian girls - Jackie and Tessa - who were fab, fun and drinking at 11am. Yes dad, I know my poor liver will come back to haunt me - but I actually drank very little all day -just topped up the night before every so often...

It was a very entertaining day - just sat around laughing and entertaining these lovely gals who I apparently reminded them of a girl back home they knew and loved.

On Monday, Dani, Danielle and I attempted to meet at 5.30am for a sunrise walk to Spit. Hilariously, this consisted of about 30 texts between Dani and myself saying "Shall we go? I will if you want to...", me trying to raise Danielle from the dead and once she was finally up, Dani realising she couldn't leave the house as she had no keys. After all this dillydallying, D and I decided to go and watch sunrise on the beach anyway. It was a bit too cloudy but pleasant enough...

It brightened up in the afternoon for a short walk around the lake reserve with Dani (I'd never made it there before - pathetic) before another evening of fun...

This involved a huge party in room 17 (the room we first started to party in when we got to Manly) with everyone in a happy, fun mood. It also consisted of someone thinking it would be a good idea to tie a bag of goon to the ceiling fan (don't ask) and people chasing said bag around...

Many people had thought it was Danielle and my last night so on Tuesday they were in for a bit of a shock when they realised we were, in fact, leaving on Wednesday and that there was supposed to be another night of celebratory leaving...

We packed a bit and chatted to people we were leaving behind and then I went on a 'date' with Tessa (the Canadian) oh and Jackie, Walsey, Matt, and Tyler to my favourite Thai place at the wharf. We sat on the steps eating our yummy food and then Dani and Taz joined me when the others left and we watched the sun set.

It was then an unwilling night of partying again - me drinking my Hunter Valley sparkling wine - unwilling because I had partied enough for a lifetime by this point.

But it was great fun and, after a beachside walk with Russ and Danielle, mostly consisted of me passing around my journal for people to write drunken farewell notes (a lot of "to Michelle.."'s and "I'm too drunk to say anything meaningful.."'s) before inevitably moving to room 17.

The next morning was a bit of a blur as we made our final packing arrangements, hauled our stuff to storage by 10am and then met some of our closest friends for brunch - Klara and Emilie the Swedes we lived with, Dani, Russ, Paul and Michelle. We sat on the grass by the beach and tried not to be sad. Dani handed me a lovely painting she crafted for me. It was a stunning day - Manly at its best with a breeze coming off the ocean but the sky scorchingly blue above. It was fitting end to our stay there.

There was a hairy moment when we were almost denied our $600 bond back off bad lads Max and MJ but a swift call to their dad sorted that out.

It was hard to hug everyone goodbye but we had to rush off for the ferry and luckily we left it til the last minute and I hardly had time to kiss Dani farwell at the gate. It was only on the ferry when we chucked down our backpacks, daypacks, handbags, bottles of water... that I truly realised I was leaving. It was over.

On the bus, we sat and read our notes from our friends - some funny, some heartfelt, some brief, the odd crude and rude ones.

But we were on an adventure. It started to rain as we left to head south - to sunnier skies....

(to be continued....)

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