My aim is to travel from the UK to Brisbane for one of my best friends' wedding. Plane travel is so environmentally damaging so I am looking for another way. I also think that by travelling over land and sea I will be able to understand our world better as I will connect with the people and landscapes and not just look at the departure board in the airport. Any tips gratefully received!! Departure date 1st September.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

WWOOFing and Platypus

So onwards to explore this huge country and try to spend some time living a bit more lightly on the earth. I head for Byron Bay as I hear the odd hippie lives thereabouts and I know I can meet up with my pal Jessa's Mum and Sis. I get 'Jungle' camping at the Arts Factory Hostel which seems to aim to be all hippie and environmental but the reality is not so. Still loads of backpackers making a load of waste and getting wasted too. Just not my thing and it is a shame when they have such a great location to care for and scope to do a few basic things like composting, turning lights out etc. Byron is a bit like Totnes on Sea, on the face very eco/hippie but really quite middle class and poncey (coffee bars and clothes shops galore!) but the beaches are beauteous and there was a fabulous lightening storm. Meeting up with Kris and Freya was a joy, such beautiful people and it was great to have a local to take me to the 'Most Easterly Point' in Australia and point things out, as well as a companion to join me to watch 10 Canoes, the award winning Aboriginal Film set in Arnhemland in the Northern Territory, (which incidently is very good.) I found a fabulous organic shop called Santos which I frequented every day to get my fix of good food including my new addictions of choc covered macadamia nuts and orange, carrot and ginger fruit juice, YUM! Thanks to Jane and Jess who made the time in Byron more fun and for their help with the Hopi Ear Candle project! I have been meaning to do one for ages so finally got round to it and I have to say I am not overwhelmed with joy as my sinuses have been bunged up ever since! After a week it is time to move on and I managed to line up a WWOOF place at Currawinya which is a 6500 acres property of regenerating bush/rainforest near Tabulam (small town of 150 people about 2 hours inland from Byron Bay) What a place to find. A small community of great people are living in this remote but amazingly fantastical place, all off the grid for power, water and sewage. I stayed with Peter, Christine, Jess and Kartyani who welcomed me in and I felt right at home. I helped out with the garden, did lots of things with plants (yay got my hands back in the soil!) helped look after little Ruby, helped to gut a caravan and do some insulation for a straw bale house's roof, collected and sowed some rainforest seeds for their regeneration work, built a stone oven at their permaculture group and mowed the lawn. I also fitted in some swimming and snorkelling in the clear, fresh river, eating lots of delicious food, some yoga by the river, got bored of spotting wallabies here, there and everywhere (only joking they were cool, every one!) going for a good cycle around the tracks and making elderflower champagne!!! in December!!! I also had a fun experience with a lovely green tree frog trying to get into bed with me after another crazy storm (I didn't think til afterwards he could have been my prince, damn!) and I also spotted a Platypus swimming around hurrah! Eventually it was time to leave which was a shame but I am looking forward now to Woodford Folk Festival where I will be working and hanging out until New Year.

The Honeymoon and Beyond

Up at the crack of dawn to head to Fraser Island (the world's largest sand island!) We go in convey and with the VHF radios somehow eye spy becomes the best game in the world with Iceman up front against Fat Cat and Minky the laughs are plenty. We are on the island by 8am when a few people crack open the beers and drive along the sand (a bit wierd and the girls are all shrieking as Daniels zooms all over the place). After a little stop to get some 'pippys' (spelling please someone!) we arrive at Happy Valley and I fall asleep. A lazy day for me but the next day we are up and organised and set off to see some rainforest and lakes. Basin Lake is delicious and you can see why it is a sacred site for the Aborigines. A jolly walk to the fabulous Lake Mackenzie gets us playing 'I went shopping..In Australia' and all we can think about are pies....It is a long day as we didn't really anticipate how long it took to get everywhere on the sand. When we finally get to the town the shop assistant is surprised as all these hungry and crazed poms (and 2 aussies) practically buy the shop up! The next day more exploring the rainforest and trying to climb the huge tree fig (handy footholes) seeing the freshwater turtles (cute) and spotting monitor lizards and looking for the famous sharks (that I never saw but still didn't get in the water just in case!) A few days of exploring later we are off again and up to the little Town of 1770 where we get back to nature, camping right by the beach, I love it being outdoors again and the first night we had a huge downpour and I felt just like I was in my little caravan not being able to sleep from the noise and fumbling for my earplugs in the dark, Joy! We took a reef trip out to the Great Barrier Reef at Lady Musgrave Island which was so amazing. Really well organised and educational and considerate to the wildlife. I have never seen such clear water, it must have been six metres deep and as clear as the clearest thing I have ever seen! Snorkelling with turtles and loads of cool reef fish is great fun. We then walk around the island which is quite pretty but stinks of bird poo (very special bird I am sure but still pooey). So with sadness we depart and head back to Brisbane for the end of my part of the honeymoon trip. The others carry on to Sydney and I hang around in Brisbane, I buy a tent and find the Northey Street City Farm which is a real gem in the city, an organic farmers market, cool chai cafe and I get my eyes read by and iridologist!!! I plan to head to Byron Bay (to find some hippies!) and organise some Wwoofing (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) out in the sticks.

(Hopefully photos should show up of Mackenzie Lake on Fraser Island, the gang playing pooh sticks on Fraser Island and an amazing Tree Fig on Fraser Island- which I did try to climb!)