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Kaikoura to Nelson

30th September to 4th October 2011

Picton Pickups

On the way to Nelson we stopped off at the ferry terminal in Picton. We had around 10 folks joining us. As the passengers disembarked we saw a white pompom beanie come bobbing up and down towards the bus, enthusiastically waving and smiling. This turned out to be Tom from England, but I dubbed him PomPom. Got to love the folks you meet on the Magic Bus.

Mmm Icecream

The day was perfect, the drive was beautiful and the company great. At our lunch spot, in the middle of nowhere, the cafe owner gave us double scoops for the price of a single. Woohoo! I got Hokey Pokey, vanilla with honeycomb pieces, it was delicious. At this cafe they also serve a variety of interesting pies, such as rabbit, venison even possum. Then we hopped back on Marg’ the Magic Bus and headed the rest of the way to Nelson, the sunniest town in NZ.

WWOOF

Wwoof means – willing workers on organic farms. I had organised 3 nights of Wwoofing at a lodge just outside Nelson, not exactly a farm but they count as well. Nic and I figured out where it was and we organised for me to hop out of the bus along the road. We just hoped it was the right stretch of road, as it was a long walk into town. As I waved farewell to the crew on the bus I settled down on my bag to wait for my ride. Luckily it didn’t take long till Alan showed up. We picked up their son at school and then headed up the hill to the lodge. The view was breathtaking.

Stunning view

Within a short span I was given chemicals and sent to scrub the shower. It took me a good hour and I was fairly high after cleaning the glass with the water resistant coating…weeeeeeeeeeee

For dinner we had Thai Curry and watched the sunset. I great evening which was followed by heading into town to watch the SA vs Samoa rugby game. I walked in with James and Chloe dressed in my flag, with springbok paste on tattoos on our cheeks, to discover the entire bar supported Samoa. The others grabbed a drink and settled unobtrusively in a corner, I sat at the bar and supported the Boks, as much as possible without risking severe bodily harm from the Samoa supporters.

Sunset over Nelson

A weeding We Shall Go

The task of the day was weeding the elevated vegetable garden. Normally this would seem like a breeze, but considering it had spent a couple of seasons cultivating its weeds, the garden wasn’t too impressed when I was trying to pull them out. Add to this the fact that it is at a height of 4ft, meant some of the particularly stubborn weeds threatened to cause me to fall backwards. Luckily I remained somewhat stable and it only took me 3hrs to weed a plot approximately 10m by 1m. Wish I had taken photos, cause I was rather proud afterwards.

Later the 3 of us wwoofers went into town to check out the last few minutes of the market and walk around a bit. The Aussie vs Russia game was on and the atmosphere was electric, with the Aussies all decked out and everyone else (no matter of nationality) all supporting Russia. In the Rugby World Cup the motto is pretty much anyone but Australia/England or France. Unless you are from one of those countries of course.

Aussie Pride

With the rugby game on in the town of Nelson, Candace and Alan (our hosts) were running a snack cart at the game, the boys were watching it live, which left the house to us. It was great having a big house to relax in. We watched movies, I made Toad in the hole for dinner and when everyone did arrive home we watched the next game on the telly.

Chloe and I having "breakfast"

Nelson the sunniest town in NZ…REALLY??

Woke this morning to torrential downpour. It was actually rather impressive. The region did need rain so we didn’t mind the rain too much. It also meant that Alan’s plans to redo the whole garden were put on hold. Instead we worked on changing the beds and cleaning the bathrooms, which took just under 3hrs and gave us the rest of the day off. I worked on my blog and then we all went and sat in the hot tub in the rain. Felt fantastic. A little afternoon nap and then time to make dinner. I had offered to make the Schmidt’s famous Spaghetti Bolognese. In between brownouts and thunder and lightening we sat down to enjoy the meal, followed by icecream. After the rugby game I asked Candace to take a look at my back in exchange I would make her a necklace. She had me stand and bend and squat, then announced that my pelvis was out of line, she gave me some stretches and assured me that would help. Well then, now that I know whats wrong I can work towards fixing it… but then again I am terrible at remembering stretches.

Return to Paradiso

I had been offered work trade at Paradiso hostel for a few days, so ended my time with the lodge and was able to get a ride into town. It was still pissing with rain so moving bags was fun. But I managed with minimum rain dampness. I was put into a small 4 bed dorm and had to quickly dump my bags and slip out as there was someone sleeping. My chore for the day was reorganizing the chemical cupboard. The dilemma – the chemical cupboard was not under cover…and it was still raining, buckets, in fact, cats and dogs. Luckily around 3pm there was a short break in the weather, so I quickly went about tidying and sorting the chemical cupboard. All of 20min for a nights accommodation. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, doing my strings and my blog.

Unpacking for Painting

Trade work for this day was to help unpack the tv room for repainting. This involved removing all detachable items, gathering the furniture in the center of the room and sorting through the VHS tapes and book trade shelves. Its always dangerous going through the book shelf, so far I have managed to keep my book baggage down to one for reading, one for journal and one for guide. But now found myself with 3 extra for reading, and I just couldn’t decide which one to leave behind. So now I found myself with 4 for reading, 1 for journal, but no guide. However, I did have my next journal ready in the wings.

But it was an enjoyable couple of hours of trade work!!

As far as weather went, it was still raining. Nelson is the sunniest town in NZ and it had rained for the last 3 days, solid. Without even a glare to call sunshine. The first time I was here I was sick, and now it was raining constantly. I decided to head out the next day, if nothing else I was fairly certain my departure would ensure the sun’s return for others. Murphy’s Law.

The good news was that during the crappy weather I had managed to secure work trade at a hostel on Stewart Island for 10 days. EXCELLENT!!!

Tomorrow is was off to Greymouth and then Franz Josef on the Magic Bus.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Coral Bay – Day 151 to 157

8th of June to 14th of June 2011

Coral Bay – week 1
Day 1

Arrived at 11.30pm, went to bed.

Day 2

For some obscure reason I woke up at 6am, managed to lay in bed till 6.30am then decided to get up and head to the beach to check it out.
After looking at the local map to orient myself I left the front door of the hostel and turned left heading over the sand dunes that would obviously lead me to the pristine beach I had seen in the pictures. As the kitchen had been closed I had been unable to get a cup of coffee (thats my excuse and I am sticking to it), and so, when somewhere in the far reaches of my mind the fact that I was walking towards sunrise on the west coast of Australia looking for the beach seemed strangely wrong, I didn’t react. After about 15min of walking, cresting the final sand dune and I came across… a road??? I turned around very confused only to see the ocean behind me towards the west, where it should be,
since the sun rises in the east, even in Australia.

Mentally kicking myself in the rear I headed in the correct direction and was speechless when I finally walked onto the beach. There wasn’t a breath of wind, the bay was completely still, the water was a shocking
turquoise blue and there were fish everywhere in the shallows, I waded in upto my ankles and was suprised to see at least 4 stingrays sitting right in front of me. Flashbacks of my friend getting stung in Ecuador and the crocodile hunter made me retreat fairly quickly. But I had no need to worry as these rays are used to tourists and usually get out of the way when people intrude on their personal space.

Back at the hostel the kitchen had opened and I made myself a quick mug of coffee, sugarless as I had not had the chance to buy some. Then I reported to reception to complete check in and get my duties for the day as Oompah Loompah designation 23. The deal with hostel was in return for 2hrs of cleaning I received free accommodation. Not a bad deal if you ask me. My chore for the day was cleaning one of the empty rooms. This involved a whole list of things including: cleaning the skirting boards, air conditioner filters, windows, wiping down mattresses, vacuuming and more. It felt strangely good to do house cleaning…. maybe I have been on the road too long????

Liezy and Kazuki decided to head to Exmouth. Kazuki to see his friend and Liezy to do a whale shark tour. The whale sharks had started
early and had already moved up north. I called Greyhound for Kazuki to see about the mix up of his ticket and listened to the lady talk for over 10minutes without saying much of anything. Then we made them a sign and they headed out to hitch hike the 2 hr trip north.

Later that morning Jason and I helped out a family, mom and 2 kids, unpack her car and watch the kids while she got herself sorted.
She seemed to be in a complete tizz and completely disorganized. She turned out to be a hairdresser and when I expressed interest
she made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. In exchange for watching the kids while she went to solicit haircuts, she would split her earnings with me 50/50 and give me a free haircut. Sounded excellent! Jason also helped and after watching the kids for about 2hrs we found ourself earning $50 each. Pretty sweet. The kids however were a handful, ADHD personified, possibly something to do with the amount of junk food she fed them to keep them still. She asked us to do the same thing in the morning, but when morning came she was no where to be seen.

Day 3

Gabriel (France), the long term Oompah Loompah, moved into the long termer’s room, which meant I could move down to the bottom bunk.
Which was fantastic as the bunks didn’t have ladders and I could barely reach the rungs at the end of the bed. It also meant I could finally get some serious cleaning done in the room, it was pretty close to disgusting, having had all boys in the room for the past few weeks.

My duties for the day included: vacuuming the hostel – managed to kill not one, but 2 vacuums! Scrub the picnic tables – excellent
for arm muscles. And close the kitchen at 10pm.

Spent most of my day walking around the town and heading to the beach. It was just superb and took my breath away every time I went for a walk. I went to get a wifi card from the resort and attempted to get some of my blog entries done. But being in the middle of nowhere meant that internet just barely worked and none of the blog entries would load photos, so was forced to write them in notepad and upload them all at once. Internet cost $3 for 30 minutes at the hostel or $10 for 100 minutes to use the wifi at the resort.

One of the staff asked if I was interested in picking up some work and if I was to head over to Reef Cafe and ask for Johnny. He wasn’t there but I spoke to him over the phone and he said he would stop by the hostel the next night and chat to me about everything.

Closing the kitchen that night I had a couple who had just arrived ask if they could quickly make dinner, I said sure and scored a burrito out of it in the process. EXCELLENT!!!

Day 4

Duties for the day:
– Vacuum again, one had been taped together and I managed not to kill it again.
– Morning kitchen clean at 10.30am
– Clean outside of level 1 windows, removing screens. Rather amusing as I couldn’t reach the top of the windows and the screens were not very easy to remove, there was a lot of colorful language used.

Liezy got back that day and said she had had a great trip and seen some beautiful whale sharks. Part of me wishes I had gone too, but $365 was just out of my budget.

When locals come to the hostel bar they need to be signed in by someone staying there. When I was asked I cheekily said, “depends do you have a fishing rod to loan me?”. Graham replied “no, but I have a tour boat and you can get on for free”. DEAL!!! In the end I spent the whole evening with the guys and attempted to say no to the beers bought for me, around 5 in total… I think.

Day 5

Duties for the day:
– 3pm Kitchen and Bathroom clean
– Clean chairs in bar and reception
I had tried to see if the little gift shop would sell some of my bracelets, unfortunately the owner said no. But the girl who I chatted to was very interested and so I headed down to the market area to let her choose colors and designs. Well I was fitting her anklet a lady in the store asked if I would make one for her too. I said sure and we sat and chatted well I put it together. By the end of an hour and a half I had earned $25 and a cup of coffee. I decided not to hunt down Johnny about the job and just start selling bracelets, turned out to be a good move.

Day 6

Duties for the day:
– Kitchen close at 10pm
– Scrub wooden picnic tables
– Wipe outside of doors, this one is the equivalent of doing 50 squats and it hurt the next day.
Orders for bracelets and necklaces have started pouring in and I am making an average of 3 or more a day. Giving me enough money for food and the occasional treat. Have started a habit of buying an apple and a chocolate bar, much to the amusement of the shop staff.

Day 7

Duties for the day:
– Vacuum the hostel
– 3 pm kitchen and bathroom clean
Has been very windy the last few days and not that pleasant on the beach. Mostly hung around the hostel and then headed down to see the sunset, which is always beautiful and often spectacular.

Then a bunch of us headed to happy hour at the pub. Carolin and I started our tradition of sharing a box of chips and having a half price pint of cider.

Back at the hostel the first of the giant jenga competitions began and there were times you feared for your health and well being when the tower threatened to collapse.

All in all a good first week and I can’t wait for the next.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2011 in Australia, RTW, Travel

 

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Boorowa…or there abouts – Days 118 – 124 – Welcome to the Looney Farm!!

May 6th to 12th 2011

Answering the ad…
Well, as I mentioned before, I had answered this ad for farm work. I had done it mainly to experience some country life, maybe meet a few cool people and horse riding has always been a love of mine. So this ad seemed like a great opportunity. I had called up and spoken to, what seemed to be, a very down to earth guy named Ross. He said that the work was mainly a few minor house renovations and some basic farm work. Sounded perfect, I expected to meet other like minded travelers, most likely share meals with the family, feed chickens clean out horse stalls and maybe paint some window frames… The truth was so far from that fantasy you have no idea.

Arriving at the house
Since there was no way to get to Boorowa town on public transport I had to go into the town of Yass, meaning Ross had to come pick me up. We had agreed that I would buy him some wine as compensation, so $20 and 3 bottles later we headed to the farm. The drive was beautiful and Ross seemed like a good bloke and easy to chat to, although he did most of the chatting.

As we pulled into the farm he started explaining how this wasn’t his farm, it was his brother’s and since his sister-in-law didn’t approve of strangers on the farm I must never answer the phone or give the number out… I began to hear a distant ringing of warning bells. He also explained that the house was under a bit of renovation. Turns out his previous profession of marketing meant he was an excellent bullshitter.

The English pair, James and Ari, had got lunch prepared and we headed up the hill to have a bbq, beef patties and bread with some wine. The view was spectacular and the company was great, so I figured it would just be a great adventure…another understatement.

My First 3hrs of Work
I wasn’t even assigned a room when Ross decided to put me to work, which was fine with me but really surprised James and Ari. The chores of choice were fixing out riggers to fencing around baby trees to run an electric line through, thereby protecting the trees from the cattle (which I was yet to see). Then he had me mow a massive lawn, he decided it was too small for the sit on mower, it looked big enough to me. Once that was all done it was time to head in, figure out where I was supposed to sleep and try get warm. I was placed, temporarily, in his brother’s bedroom. It turned out we had no kitchen, only an electric skilled, kettle and microwave, dishes had to be done in the bathroom, the only finished room in the house. The bathroom was rather impressive but with slate floors and below freezing temps at night it made it very difficult to shower or brush teeth or anything without shoes or socks at the least.

That night he made us chicken stir fry but added a variety of herbs, rosemary, oregano and cloves amongst them (how conflicting can you get). As there was no heat in the house and the temperature had dropped below 0 C, James, Ari and I huddled around the fire.

My first night
Ross had given me extra blankets, making a total of 2 thin ones and a sheet, I managed to scrounge up something else as well. When I went to bed I noticed gaps to the outside where the floor met the walls… I went to bed wearing socks, pajama pants, a turtle neck shirt, my jumper, my alpaca sweater, gloves and my big wooly hat and I still barely slept from all the shivering. In the morning I discovered that mice had chewed a hole in my bag where I had had a piece of chocolate. When I told Ross, he said “Oh well, teach you to keep food in your bag”. He had failed to mention the rampant mouse explosion in the area (so bad it had made the news), and to be sure to take any food out of my bag, not to mention the feces left all over the corners and such. Just think positive, just think positive…

Boorowa Races
Today was the biggest event of the year for Boorowa, the horse races. The plan was to do some work in the morning, then get dressed up and head for a day at the races. Since his brother and sister-in-law were coming down from Sydney we had to hide our bags in his room, we would be sleeping somewhere else that night and we had no choice but to go to the races. At the last moment as we left he mentioned there might be a small fee to get in. Turned out to be $15 each, he also made us buy our own food for the day, he was kind enough to donate a bottle of wine, which he promptly opened at 11.30am and drank. Leaving us none… Oh deary maybe this wasn’t a good idea.

The races were great fun, and the whole town showed up dressed to the nines. Ari managed to win 2 of her bets, I came second in all of mine and it seemed as if James came last. My favorite horse was Al’s Mission, she had made direct eye contact when she walked past, and even though she didn’t win she was still a beauty.

Ross was very explicit in his instructions that we pretend we didn’t know him, and that we were not to say where we were staying. Yet he went around introducing us as the backpackers working on his brother’s farm and then would say, but don’t tell him ok. The 3 of us were beginning to come to the agreement that this guy was on the verge of a breakdown or something (he had just spent the last 5mths nursing his father who was dying of cancer, so you can’t blame him, but we didn’t ask to be involved). Around 3pm I decided to stop drinking in case I might have to drive the lot of us back. Please note, the last time I drove a stick was in Alaska 6yrs ago, and before that was learning to drive in South Africa 15yrs ago. So I was not too impressed with the fact that I might have to drive us in a stick shift double cab truck, on unknown roads through kangaroo country… Turned out I was right to stop drinking. When we tried to get details from him as to when and how and what if we got stopped he just brushed us off and said “no worries you are with me”. The truth is we were seriously beginning to worry. Just as we were leaving James bought me a coffee as designated driver. Barely away from the horse grounds Ross started drinking it.

Off to Young
We made it back to the farm safe and sound to pick up a few things, we had to spend the night at his father’s farm in case his brother came to the farm. As we headed out, Ross decided to drive as we were going on back roads. Then he suddenly said “I have an idea, lets go to Young, I will rent a room for all of us and we can go to the pubs listen to music, what do you think!” This was not so much a question as a statement, so we just nodded and went with it. So there we were, trapped in the car with a looney, inebriated guy heading to a town named Young. Turned out the town was dead, no live music, almost no people out… so we all ended up back at the motel by 9pm. What a roller coaster of a day.

The next day we spent the whole morning avoiding Ross until it was time to go to his father’s farm to spend the rest of the day in hiding. Sundays were meant to be our day off to do what we liked but it appeared that was not to be so. After doing a big shop for food, something we were not involved in, he never ever even asked if we were allergic to anything, we headed out of Young. Once we got there we had a quick bbq and then Ross went off to nap and we were left to our own devices and ultimately ended up discussing our situation. We all decided to figure out a way to get out of here as soon as possible.

Finally it was time to leave and we headed back to The Farm. On the way we saw my first wild kangaroos. There is a chance we saw one the night before but it might have been a bouncing fence post…who knows for sure.

When the cat’s away the mice will…plan their escape
Turned out the following day Ross decided to go into town and so left me in charge. I had just woken up and hadn’t even had my coffee when he told me he was showing me what had to be done. The list was as follows:
Sweep the porch
Clean out the fireplace
Paint a gate
Finish the electric fence outriggers
Catch the horses and put them in the paddock

As soon as he was out of sight the 3 of us did a little happy dance. We got all our work done had some tea and then headed out to deal with the horses. James and Ari had been there for a week and hadn’t even seen the horses yet and for some reason Ross felt that me having taken a horse riding class made me an expert. The plan was for James and Ari to have riding lessons from Ross, but at present none of us were trusting his mental stability let alone teaching skills. As it turned out the horses had been out to pasture for months and were not overly enthused about being brought into the paddock, so that made all of us doubt we wanted to ride. Apparently there had been 2 German girls who had spent 5 days twice a day grooming and working with them. It was most likely they were hiding from Ross, because these horses had not been worked in ages.

That evening karma gave us a gift, Ross was spending the night away!!! Woohoo!!! We also managed to convince him to let us drive into Boorowa so we check the internet and get some phone reception the next day. That night we also all moved into the same room and combined blankets. This meant that Ari and I shared a bed and James was on a mattress on the floor. It was way warmer in there.

So come Tuesday we jumped in the truck, before he could possibly come back and stop us and headed off back to the real world. There was serious consideration of just driving till we hit a bus station to get us out of there. In a local cafe we managed to figure out a cover story and get bus tickets.
James and Ari were saying they had picked up paid work back in the previous place they had been and were leaving Friday.
I was concerned about my friend who had a high risk pregnancy (a bit of a harsh one but not completely false as a number of my friends are pregnant and I was concerned about my own health). I would leave on Thursday.

We spent the next 2 days trying not to go crazy, or to stab him to death at night. All of us agreed we would rather be with a serial killer, at least you know how that episode is supposed to go. Instead of with a guy who was slowly losing his grip on reality.

Thats how its done in Australia
On the appointed day of my departure, trying hard not to do a little jig, I said goodbye to my new friends with secret plans to meet in Melbourne the following week. Ross had decided to go into Young again, which was about 30min in the wrong direction from where I had to go. As we pulled in he turned to me and said “You ok to put in for gas then?” Its weird how sometimes you are so shocked at the actions of people you don’t know quite what to say and so I just nodded. But when I told him that all I could contribute was around $5 he went off and demanded $20. Then he said “this is Australia, if you want to make it here you are going to have to learn to do things like put in for gas, so do you want to use your card or do I need to take you to an ATM”. I managed to scrape $19 together and didn’t talk to him for the rest of the drive to Harden where I had a 3hr wait till my train.

While I was waiting I was obliged to receive the following text message from Mr. Looney himself:
“Kath hi. We have had over 2000 travellers thru the farm over the years.
ur prescence although helpful was overall one of negativity and pessimistic.
U were shown care and provided with good food etc. Ur whinging about the
cold was appalling. That’s travelling. its not always great u take the ups and
downs and look at the positives. ur sulking when asked to contribute to the fuel
was childish. My advice be more optimistic and greatful for the help given
instead of whinging like a child..”

After my hands stopped shaking enough from sheer rage I managed to send this back:
“My advice to you is not to lie to backpackers or your sister-in-law. You never
mentioned staying in a freezing construction site and only told me about mice after
they ruined my bag. You should have offered something for that!!”

But lets look at the positives shall we:
– I got this hilarious blog entry
– 2 fantastic new friends
– I got into Melbourne at the right time to pick up a week of cash work
– It gave me the time to spend 10 days in Tasmania

So once you all stop laughing I hope you will join me tomorrow for my week in Melbourne.

Here are some pics from the week on the Looney Farm, it wasn’t all bad:

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2011 in Australia, RTW, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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