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.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Bees, Bushfires, a Baby and Beautiful People

(and also more information about my journey, the why's, hows etc. for those who have asked)

The highlights from a few days in Adelaide were sleeping a lot and playing the accordion I spotted on the shelf in Wilsons organic food shop! What a treat, but I had forgotten a few tunes already! I couldn't get a bus to Alice Springs until 27th January so it was more WWOOFing for me. I was so lucky to find Ben and Lena (and little Elwin) and go and help at 'The Meeting of the Waters'. Here I spent just over two weeks living the life I love at home. A simple life, good food, low impact, beautiful nature (a super fast flowing but slightly fake river included was a good massage!) and beautiful people. Ben and Lena welcomed me into their lovely cob and strawbale home with so much warmth and happiness I felt very relaxed and at home (which is a real treat 16,000km from home!) I spent a day helping their neighbour Don with his bee hives - an adrenaline filled day of learning - the bees were not happy that we were taking their honey! I also experienced my first aussie bush fire which was pretty bad (but could have been worse) and at least they saved the vineyards! It was wierd as we went to have a look to see pure black next to juicy green vines and the odd tree still smouldering, the heat was amazing. Then ensued 4 days of rain and flooding! I am beginning to think I am either a Welsh rain fairy or climate change is really happening!??? So many lovely people came through, mainly to see 5 week old Elwin, but also Ben, Lena and this place's charm. It was a pleasure to meet them all and all are welcome if they are ever in Wales. I don't feel like I did much work but I hope I helped out before my back went OW which is not good as I am spending 2 days on a bus to Alice Springs tomorrow.... We managed to finish the solar oven and start melting the beeswax but didn't get to bake a cake, boo.....So what is next....? I am really excited about seeing the desert and Coober Pedy and the caves! and hanging out in Alice Springs, 40 degrees here we come!

I also wanted to take the time to provide some more information about how I took this trip and also to quash a few silly statements I have read recently about my trip. I don't normally bother but they have been niggling me. Firstly the idea that my trip and others like it was a waste of time because of all the extra energy used travelling to and working harder at 'the office' to pay for it. As anyone who knows me knows, I cycle or walk to work at CAT, which is all powered by renewable energy. I rarely use a computer when operating the water balanced cliff railway or digging out a compost toilet! Secondly, that along the way I will have sudddenly turned into a polluting, non-caring citizen and cause lots of wasted energy everywhere I go. Along the way I have spent at least 6 weeks staying in places using renewable energy and compost toilets and over 4 weeks camping (no electricity). I save water travelling just as much as when at home and a lot of Australia does have low flush toilets. I have used the same environmentally friendly washing products and toiletries. I have been reducing my waste and recycling and composting where possible. I have used public transport and walked and cycled loads. It has been a fun challenge but I think I have been as green as I could. This trip is not just about air travel but about us all taking personal responsibility for reducing all excessive, wasteful and polluting uses of resources.
About COSTS. Overall my trip cost more than flying but as I have said before should we just judge everything on monetary value? The figures people have quoted I think give an unfair impression. Rarely is an airflight actually what is quoted on the web or in the newspaper, but more. From the other bridesmaids I think about 700 pounds return is fair. Some parts of my journey were CHEAPER than the flight, it was really just the cargo ship part which 'upset the balance sheet.' It cost me 2000 pounds to get from Wales to Australia in 7 weeks, that amount includes all my travel, food, accommodation, touristy stuff, everything! The cargo ship cost 1000 of that and was booked through Strand Travel a travel agency in London.
Some examples..... London to Moscow by plane (single) with Aeroflot in September costs 1075 dollars (US)(about 550 pounds - not including any taxes or other hidden things) my bus took 3 days and cost 130 pounds!!! ( and for the buses)
Moscow to Beijing by plane (single) with Sibir or Aeroflot is 600 dollars (US) which is 300 pounds (not including taxes etc.). My journey on the trans-siberian took 6 days and cost 190 pounds. (flight info. on I booked the Trans- Siberian through a travel agency in Russia, Svehzy Veter and I would highly recommend them.
Beijing to Hanoi by plane would cost 416 euros (286 pounds not including taxes) according to but my train cost a whopping 70 pounds! I booked it from the hostel in Beijing.
Finally to answer another comment from before about me spilling oil all over the sea !? I came to Australia on a cargo ship not an oil tank and there was no spillage!! Anyway only 5% of the oil in the sea comes from oil spills. The rest comes from what we wash down our drains from our houses, cars and industry.
Anyway, all I am trying to say is I am trying and I truly believe we all need to take a closer look at everything we do and try and do better for the environment, sooner rather than later!
Sorry this is so long, I hope it is useful and if it sounds like a rant then sorry too, I have been bottling it up for ages!
(photos, me as a beekeeper! and the bush fire and the vines!)
p.s it is so annoying not having a pound sign on the keyboard away from the UK and trying to write all these pounds signs!!!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Long Distance Barbara is coming home....(slowly!)

The tent company supplying most of the tents for the festival happen to be trucking a load of tents back to Adelaide, so I check out the options and I realise that it will be the quickest and cheapest way to get from Brisbane to Alice Springs, my next destination. I go and speak to the guys and meet Mal, the proper Aussie truckie and ask for a lift. He says fine as long as I don't argue and I can be ready in 1 hour! I dither for a while and then realise that I really need to get going, away from Woodford, and feel like I am heading home. I quickly pack up and we are off! I wonder about whether hitching is actually carbon neutral as the carbon being produced is actually related to the truck company and I am not supporting their actions just blagging a lift. Anyway this thought spurs me on as I get a free ride 1500km to Adelaide. It takes 48 hours with a couple of short sleeps in the cab on the way. Beautiful scenery, an amazing lightning storm on the Hay Plain and I get to see my first bit of aussie 'Outback'. The colours are amazing, so simple and vivid. Red earth and Blue sky. Mal is a pretty nice guy really and we get on well and have a laugh. We recognise each other for what we are and don't rub each other up the wrong way but have some lively debates! My ankles swell up like balloons and I am finally landed down in the outskirts of Adelaide feeling like a zombie. Somehow I click into gear and get a bus to town and find a hostel and sleep for 14 hours straight. I think the other girls in my room thought I was dead!! I am confused by the time (half an hour early ) but at least I feel like I am heading home, only 9 hours and 30 minutes ahead of GMT!
photos - view from the truck was beautiful going through the Main Ranges, inside the Cabin - Mal was camera shy! and red crocs and big wheels!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Happy Woodford New Year

I arrive at the beautiful Woodford Folk Festival site on 15th December to a mass of square white tents - very strange to a British festival goer - but I soon realise the value to protect from the sun. They are boring though and a few stripes wouldn't go amiss! Anyway a warm Woodford welcome is received and I set up camp as close to a tree (shade) as I could. Work is chilled for a few days so I get to know the people - all shapes and sizes of friendly folk and yum food from the wonderful Duck and Shovel team. Monday, I set to work with enthusiasm as the Woodforce workers sweep the site making it look good - weeding, strimming, litter picking and tree planting - I put in a Bunya Pine especially for the beautiful Jessa Lady who I wish could be here. After a few days I get put on a new project which is such a scoop, especially for a member of the 'Recycled Venues' dream team! Along with Lu I get to design and build a Smokers Garden for the VIP Committee Room. We have 6 days, no tools and no materials but a promise of two 18 year old male helpers - could be a challenge! Lu and I get on famously and get set on our design. Our enthusiasm and dedication rubs off on others and soon we have tools and materials coming out of our ears and people offering to help from all over. Our design is organic and evolves to be a spirit of elements; water, fire (from the smokers!), metal, earth, wood, stone and wind. We slogged our guts out through sun, rain and mud and even worked 5 hours on Christmas day and a few hours holding everything from washing away in the storm of Boxing Day! The result is Barlu (Barbara and Lucy) and thanks go to Lu, Max, Leo, Roo, Cruiser, Zak (for the leatherman and for laughing at us in the rain!) Mal, Sherman and Karenna as well as all others helpers and the carpenters Steve and Cheryl who made it work. ( During the festival we overheard a comment from a smoker in our garden ' This is the best beer garden in the world, I don't know why it just is' What praise!!) The festival finally started as our small community expanded and thousands of punters came and shared our creations. My role changed as I started work with the Chai Tent. Thanks to Nigel for getting me in. This bunch know what they are doing having been at every Woodford so far, they are also a bit of an institution. I had great fun serving chai (and drinking chai), serving cake and eating cake! whilst also having a laugh with the lovely staff and punters who got gradually wierder as the days went on. I also got to see some of the best music of the festival during work (which never felt like work) on the Chai Tent stage chalkboard or late night music sessions. One lasting memory will be of the whole place jumping to the beat of the Jambezi team - beautiful! Other highlights were Leo - great, egotistical French Gypsy, Ska, Punk specialists really got me jumping in the mud (oh yes - it felt more like Glasto with 4 days of mud and rain starting the festival off! Where were the 40 degrees days I had been warned of?!) Also great were the John Butler Trio - more mud and jumping and mexican waves. Zavier Rudd is a miracle and I just wished I were not so tired and could dance more. Playing the kick drum, snares, guitar and digeridoo all at once!!!!! this is an amazing sight to witness. Also notable were the Sensitive New Age Cowpersons - hilarious and very clever and seeing some of the dances of the local indigineous people the Dungidau dancers and the Doonach Dancers. Soon it was all over and we were back to our small team of volunteers and organisers. A special party on 2nd January to give thanks was 'briliant' and funny. A lantern parade and special video were the highlights as everyone tried to party their weary feet on. Litter picking was our next task (a joy for a skip fiend!) but it was fairly clean. It is crazy what valuable stuff people leave behind and I wish I was not limited to what I could fit into my backpack. tents, tarpaulins, clothes, flip flops, pegs and tent pegs by the dozen! I scored 3 new hats and 2 dollars 80 cents! (1 pound!) Free pinapples in abundance as people start to drift away. I finally have to leave as I get an impromptu lift out and head back to the 'real' world.....(as per usual - photos to follow...maybe!!!)