A Travellerspoint blog

Marbles, rocks n Ron

sunny 34 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

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After picking up Dave in Katheryn, we drove 600k south to Tennant Creek passing soil n brush. 6 hrs later we arrive in Tennant Creek. Now Tennant Creek, whilst this has a bottle shop (which by the way is seperate to supermarkets - you actually have to go to a seperate store to buy alcohol which I still can't get my head round, something to do with licencing laws out here) is by no means more than a stoppover which you make grudgingly - in n out as fast as you can go! We went to the old YHA which made our hearts sink slightly as we pulled up and saw what looked like tin containers... Infact they were our dorm rooms. With aircon. Apparantly. There were four bunkbeds in our room which was ok. Outside the kitchen were two bird cages with ill looking parakeets in them, a wall of rock samples (for some strange reason, but i loved it nonetheless), then onto the female bathroom (which has a sign in saying 'aids travels the world too!', a gentle reminder to those who were ignorant of this).
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There was a wooden outdoor pool, not sunk into the ground but a freestanding wooden frame filled with water. The steps had collapsed somewhat but it was still useable. Indeed the swallows or other equivalent birds frequently swooped down for a refreshing drink out of it mid flight. So all in all a fairly strange hostel on the outlook, but actually an ok place to stay. If forced. The next morning, onto Alice Springs, but not before reaching my highlight so far..... The Devil's Marbles!! 15 minute photo shoot later of me doing the usual photo poses it got crowded with people, so we made a move onward to Alice.
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We arrived and sought out Toddys backpackers, which was fine, had two pools and a kitchen but breakfast was a sorry affair- you had to ask for your breakfast at the reception desk and were given two pieces of bread in a plastic bag to do with as we wished. Which of course we toasted, but it was depressing they were too tight to trust us enough to ration bread from normal bread bags like other hostels...After settling into out room, we went for walk to find the tourist info centre for more info on Uluru, routes and weather forecasts, but they weren't that helpful. We called ahead to book our accommodation at two resorts in the red centre so that we wouldn't be left stranded in the outback then we went to Bojangles saloon bar for a well deserved beer. And a pack of crisps.

We set off the next day bright and early and drove the 6 hrs to kings canyon resort where we made our tea and prepared ourselves for the next days events. We got up early and drive to kings canyon, hiked up it. The beginning was 100m steep climb where we spotted lizards on the rocks on the way up, we saw the river filled with trees instead of water and the sides of the gorge, a deep orange with black crusting.
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The walk went along the canyon rim, and we were onstantly climbing up weathered rock that had formed a kind of stairway as the rain had eroded the outer parts away, to then go down to a lookout over the canyon, to climb back up to continue the walk. We went down to the Garden of Eden, climbing down alongside rock piles, to the bottom of the river bed where there was a stream of sorts, more stagnant pools surrounded by sand and trees with stones strewn throughout. We clambered over these before realising perhaps this wasnt the garden- didnt look so grand. So we went back to the main path and found some steps and a path which lead us to the proper garden, a huge pool of water, refreshingly cool which you could swim in. We didn't cos at that moment it started to spit and thunderclaps could be heard getting nearer n nearer and we weren't quite sure how much of the walk we had left! So we headed back to the car somewhat faster than we started and set of for Yulara resort near Uluru. It was more basic than the kings canyon resort but the same price unfortunatley! Just nearer to the next two places we wanted to go. We settled in and had dinner then an early night...
The next morning we got up and drove to the Olgas, which are north west of Uluru rock. We Walked along the trails stopping at three lookouts. This time the rocks were more eroded by wind than rain, they had black channels running down them, algae. It was cool when we did our walks and the wind certainly provided a fresh breeze. Once we finished the walk we drove to the su set lookout nr Uluru to watch the sun set. Whilst this was nice to watch it wasn't amazing as it's been made out to be (perhaps it was the weather?) but I took photos nonetheless.
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We drove Back to Yulara resort n had dinner, agreeing that whilst were in the Red Centre we'd make the most of it n get up for sunrise at
Uluru. So we got up and drove to the sunrise viewig point (same as the sunset one) and watched the sun rise over Uluru...with the crowds...then we had breakfast and drove to the visitors centre. We waited til the cafe opened at 7 and got a cuppa tea then at 8 made it to the free ranger guided tour at the base of Uluru. 1.5 hrs of bush talking later, desperate for a wee, we head back to the visitors centre to read up on the rest of the Uluru rock facts- mainly though, to use the toilets.
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Now, in case I haven't already, I should introduce Ron, Laura n Daves Ford Falcon estate that has faithfully been travelling with laura n I since we left Darwin. He has his moments of not liking my iPod music (he regularly skips my favourite tracks without notice or hanged the volume) and has certain 'features' you have to get to know but apart from that he's ace. The next paragraph is delicate ... We all lost a good friend on our last day in the outback. Ron would not start again - he stubbornly remained immobile outside Uluru Rock visitors centre, despite L and D trying all the tricks in the book. To cut a long story short, Ron ended up being towed to the Yulara mechanic on a Saturday afternoon, the outcome of which was that Ron is now awaiting to be crushed. Laura, Dave and I had to hire a car to drive back to Alice Springs so that I could catch my flight to Cairns n so L n D could regroup n decide what to do next...Back in Alice we had a day to recover from our loss and say our farewells. It felt strange leaving them behind, in Australia, after having so much fun, and I have great memories of our time together. In particular our three hour game of 'I packed in my suitcase' which lasted from Uluru to Alice Springs!! Agh...
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Posted by RosiePony 19:58 Archived in Australia Tagged australia northern backpacking territory Comments (0)

Camping- I was a Girl Guide!

Litchfield & Kakadu National Parks.

sunny 34 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

My guidebook says "Kaka don't, Litchfield do!". This is in relation to visiting one over the other if you've not or much time and having now seen both, I'd tend to disagree. Litchfield is small for a National Park and you can drive from the rangers lodge to the main waterfall (Wangi falls) in 20 mins! It's best done as a day trip out of Darwin which we quickly realised after our first attempt at camping there. Horrendously humid, no breeze n me n laura puffing n panting in our discomfort.
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Kakadu is everything I imagined and more. Stunning landscapes, geography, aboriginal art works and big large sameness of scenery when
driving. Lots of wildlife too. And hot hot hot weather despite it being the wet season. Feels like the notorious 'build up' to me, where everyone is just WAITING for it to rain; Katherine, Day 5 (or rather, night) camping...it's clammy. Tonight I've got my tent cover off in the hope of a breeze (insect net still on though). It's 9.53. I'm in bed. This is what my life has become: early mornings and early nights, mosquito repellant (spray and cream), ant bites (they hurt!) and lotsa sun lotion! As well as a contsant stream of sweat... Everywhere!
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Daily camping life goes something like this:
Wake up. Ugh. Bad, hot sweaty nights sleep. Trudge to car aware of insects, get stuff, trudge to bathroom aware of insects. Do bathroom check (if needing toilet: check under the lid and rim for frogs/spiders/mosquitoes. If none then check paper dispenser for spiders and previously mentioned insects. Also check behind the door. If none, then proceed. If not repeat process in new cubicle. If needing shower: check cubicle and behind door for Mosquitos, spiders. If none then proceed with shower. If there are, repeat process in new cubicle.) Brush teeth. Apply sun lotion THEN insect repellant. Trudge back to car (aware of insects but feel hopeful the repellant might work?) to put stuff away, then... Breakast!
Eat breakfast, clean up breakfast stuff. Put contacts in (world looks brighter already). Ready for the day of explorations in hot, sticky, sweaty weather. With flies. Many many flies. They go in your ear, mouth (they try at least), eyes, nose... Face flies are horrid! But still cannot bring self to buy fly net for face. I'd look like a vee keeper. Ridiculous! Seen tour grps with them. Laughted at them then realised significance. Then stared with envy. But still refuse to purchase one. The fan I bought in Cambodia (yep, this is also why my backpack is heavy, despite it being made of palm tree) keeps them away when I can be bothered to use it (glad I brought it now tho).
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So, what can I tell you about kakadu? It's huge. The drive from Darwin was 4 hrs. We looked at the campsite in Ubirr (go on, look it up) but no hot plates on BBQ, only do it yourself fire for which we don't have stuff for :( so we went back to Jabiru and camped there at a lovely place which happened to have a pool! It cost $11 p/p per night for an unpowered site, but it did have good facilities.
After a dip in the pool to cool down we headed back to Ubirr to catch sunset and the rockart that is found there, mainly the different fish and animals aboriginals hunted. The view from the top of the tabletop escarpment was stunning, with a range of habitats, wetlands to bush to forests to stone outcrops. As far as the eye could see. Lush greenness from the first rains. Stunning. Not enough adjectives to describe how it made me feel - this is what I'd come to Australia for and at last I was content to be here, with the outback, nature at my fingertips. A real sense of peace. I wanted more of this.
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After a good nights sleep (sort of, it wasn't as bad as litchfield that's for sure) we headed back to Ubirr to finish off looking at the rock art we didn't have time to see before sunset. Then headed down to noulangie rock where there are several lookouts to see the artwork there, this time more focused on people and tales from the dreamworld. My understanding is that 'creation time' is their 'dreamtime' and spirits came out of dreamtime to make the world, leavin people behind and then went back into dreamtime. The tales told through the art seem like they should have a moral behind them, but dissapointingly they never do, simply an instruction - beware of crocodiles! I can't explain more than that because it's something I need to read up in more...

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Anyway. Have I mentioned flies yet?! There are flies. In abundance in the northern territory. They land on you. On every bit of you. Including you face! Oh yes, I see ihave mentioned them earlier. Well the flies at noulangie rock are persistent, so much so laura had had enough and went back to the car! On my way back to the car who should I see walking towards me but Helen and her boyfriend! Had an exclamatory 'OMG!' moment and cuddle then let them get on their way (their route is the same as mine but over a shorter timescale). Back
to base camp for pool relaxation and an early dinner (fajhitas!) then beddybyes.

The next morning we left the park and headed to Edith falls, on the way to Katherine (which is where Dave, lauras boyfirled is based working). Edith falls is a massive waterhole with a mini waterfall (that still looks really strong) filling it up. Steps go into it but you can't see the bottom and all I could think about were the freshwater cocs that could be lurking in there...agh. BUT i still went in! and survived...
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Then we headed down to Katherine to camp with Dave (he's a good egg, he made us dinner and we had wine so we slept well that night. The next afternoon we headed out to Katherine Gorge. It was baking hot about 4pm and the walk was sweaty going. The Gorge was beautiful but no crocs to be seen...

Ps. Being a girl guide didn't prepare me for any of the above in anyway at all.

Posted by RosiePony 17:47 Archived in Australia Tagged northern backpacking kakadu litchfield territory Comments (0)

From Indonesia to Australia, Darwin it is!

10/11/10 - 19/11/10

sunny 34 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

Oh my goodness, how Oz is SO different to Indonesia. Things that clearly stick out are:
- Wide roads. Clean air, streets, pavements, clean things!
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- Lack of noise (no hustle n bustle from the street)
- No stalls (food or souvenier) on the streets or elsewhere for that matter.
- The queens face on currency!
- The cost; I feel like a pourper, despite having saved my hard earned pennies for this trip!
- Food (and I can't belive I've only just put this down, I have changed so much since leaving!). I went into Woolworths (not our 'had to shut down due to economic crisis' woolworths, it's a supermarket out here, my favourite shop!!) and had several 'moments' whilst shopping for food - at the fresh fruit section (I'd not seen fresh fruit other than the banana or pineapple in my free breakfast pancake for the past 3 weeks) I started to salivate and I was literally struck by the selection, size, colour and smell, I still recall the moment now. Then I saw the cheese. Well! I'd not had dairy since leavig russia and had had a bit of milk here n there in Thailand, then in the UK, but since leaving again, I hadn't tasted cheese in AGES (I love cheese) but Asian countries don't get it and it's so expensive I never buy it! Anyway, I had a meltdown (excuse the pun) n literally had to make myself walk away from the isle. So on I went in the supermarket...to other products.
- Crocs; apparantly everywhere. But I only ever saw them in Captivity. Where they were either bred or used to make croc meat or croc produce (purses/bags) etc...
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I cant quite believe i am here in OZ! It so like home, you cant believe - but HOT! The hostel i am staying at has a pool (although its so tiny lengths are difficult) and I have met some nice people here. My dorm room holds 4 beds and so far it is me and betty, a german girl who is working here. She is so lovely, I already feel at home here. I basically spent a week in Darwin, recouperating from my Indonesian ordeal of being frequently on the toilet ill, despite having a great time there.
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Alice, a girl i met on the way to Elkes Hostel - lovely


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I wet to the docs and got the strongest antibiotics I could get to kick my immune system into gear. Dissapointing i cant enjoy an aussie wine but theyre real expensive anyway...after the 7 day course I finally feel back to normal, ready to meet my mate from the UK; Laura, who i used to work with. She and her boyfriend are spending a year working here in the hope of extending their visa for a further year by doig agricultural work. So I am spending 3 weeks travelling from darwin with laura, picking up dave on the way to Alice Springs.

Darwin is smaller than Chesterfield! Has a main street that takes prob 20 mins to walk down, has a marina that u can swim in since the ocean has crocs n box jelly fish. I went to the crocasaurous centre yesterday and got to hold a baby croc as well as an olive python, a children python and two lizard things. Great fun! Also, I saw a black headed python eat a white rat which was really interesting to observe.
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Posted by RosiePony 17:46 Archived in Australia Tagged darwin northern backpacking territory Comments (0)

The Island and a return to Bali...

01-11-2010 to 10-11-2010

all seasons in one day 28 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

b]The Gilli Isles[/b] are made up of three islands off the north-west coast of Lombok, the small island next to Bali (which is just south-east off Java). You can walk around each island in a fee hours so that is how small they are. Our island was cled Gilli Trebangan. It had Beautiful White sandy beaches with palm trees, resorts down the south end, beach huts up the north end of the east coast.
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Nothing much around the other coastlines I'm told, I never did the island walk, not from lazyness, but believe it or not... I was ill (again!). I caught a cold of all the ridiculous things to catch on a desert island!!! So I sunbathed and snorkled for the majority of my time there. I saw three turtles, an octopuss(!), lotsa fishes of different varieties, it was beautiful. Our accommodation was a beach hut big enough for three, with an outdoor bathroom, novel at the time of securing the deal, impractical when you need to pee and it's raining! There is a bit of coer but no way enough so you don't get wet. Plus instant meal for Mosquitos...

Hel and I sunbathed as much as possible but the weather would always turn in the afternoon to clouds, overcast rainstorms coming over from Lombok (they get loadsa rain) and we'd get bombarded so be forced to chill out in a bar, cafe or our Balcony. This is why we stayed 5 nights, after much more we wouldve been ready to try to swim ashore!
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The island was more expensive than the mainland, since they have to ship supplies over, but the food we had was great, freshly caught seafood cooked to order with salad buffet and potatoes... Perfect! The island people are friendly and relaxed, in fact for the majority of island people life is slow. They sit around and wait. For people to arrange a trip, buy water or shopping, to get a lift in a horse drawn carriage (we never did this), or place a food order. They sit in communal groups and sometimes at night walkin home from a bar, you'd see a grp of men all laid out asleep in a raised platform which acted as a bed. They may have been getting really early the next day, I just don't know.
The main tourist section is the main road around the island but if you literally walk down a sidestreet (and no tourist needs to do this
since everyhing they need is on the main strip) you get a whole new view of the island. You get to see cockerals walking around freely, buildings being made, women going about their chores, cafes for locals and farmyards. The locals take an interests look at you probably wondering why you are straying from the beaten path. It was nice to see the raw side of life of a 'desert' island.

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Kuta, Bali 06-11-10 to 10-11-10
Hel and I left for Bali whilst Dutch headed to the Gilis for a bit. Our Bali stop was a port called Padang Bai, which usually in the peak season is overrun with travellers. Since it was off peak I tried to bargain down the rooms but no one was having any of it so we stayed in the centre of town in a chilled out place with tiled floors, balanese woodworked doors and a view over the town to the sea. After an exploratory walk round the town (not too much to see) we had dinner which was yummy chicken satay skewers, hel then because we are so exciting we went to bed. Got up the next day and booked our bus journey to Kuta, the main tourist strip of Bali. This took 2 hrs to drive to ane we got dropped off at Bemo Corner (Bemo is the name for the mini van used to transport people around Bali) and began our accommodation search. No where had any availability, or it was extortionatley priced, so beig near lunch time we dumped our bags in a restaurant and sat down to eat. Afterward we scanned our guidebook maps and foundthere should be a bunch of places just down the road so whilst one waited wih the bags, the other went off to secure a room. The hotel we booked had a pool, lush greenery creating a cool jungle vibe, and pagodas you could sit under in comfort when it rained. The rooms had balconys and were spacious with ensuite bathrooms. Perfect for relaxing in.
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Now, I won't be able to do Kuta beach justice but it is MASSIVE! It neverends, goes on as far as the eye can see and in now way feels 'full' of people despite heir being hordes of sunbathers, suffers and beach touts. It's lovely n golden and sandy soft. When the tide out it becomes huge width wise too. I was stunned, and whilst I have been on long beaches before I think the fact I'd come from a tiny island made the effect twofold or more. I just thought to myself, 'wait till you see the Aussie beaches rose!'.
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So after a beer onthe beach hel and I set out to explore. Lots of souvenier shops selling the same tat. I exchanged the rest of my Malaysian money, and we chilled out at the hostel waiting for Dutch. After he arrived we went out for dinner then drinks, to a bar in town. Now kuta nightlife is meant to be mad. The bar we were in did get busy but nothing too mad. It was good to dance and have some fun! With no hangover the next day! The late night visit to mcdonalds must have helped...
Sunbathing the next day then a motorbike ride into the hills to see the rice terraces of central Bali followed by a visit to a temple on the sea. The landscape of Bali is beautiful, farmers working the fields, the sun beating down and you steaming past on a bike. I loved it. I actually went to talk to the farm workers as they cut the rice crops, and they let le have a go with the scyth! It's very sharp and after a time I imagine backbreaking work...
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A return to kuta and then dinner before hel and I parted ways (she headed to shanghai for a week before then meeting up with her boyfriend for two weeks travelling oz together before meeting back u with me in cairns...geddit?!). However life is never simple and as I set off to cath my flight, Jetstar had other ideas. Now you may know, Mt Mirapi in Indonesia errupted, whilst I was there and in Bali, emitting an ash cloud.
Jetstar said our flightoath was over the ash cloud so cancelled my flight to Darwin. Ten minutes before we were scheduled to board the plane, at 10.30pm! It was gone 1pm by the time they had arranged accommodation, driven us there in coaches, checked me in (I was 5th in line so got a swanky room!) and theni went to bed! The hotel was plush, my room was massive, with double bed (I rolled around purposefully to make sure I used all the bed space), minibar (wish I'd used it now since they didn't charge me), free choccy (def ate that), and the bathroom had pebbles in it- check out the photo...i was in heaven for a few hours cos I had to get up at 6am to make sure I could have the buffet breakfast before catching a 10 o'clock flight the following day, which i did, to Darwin, Australia.
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Posted by RosiePony 19:08 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali backpacking Comments (0)

Lovina to Amed, Bali

29-10-10 to 01-11-10

sunny 28 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

Friday - After breakfast we decided to explore Lovina, it's a small village stretched out along a main road with two other roads parallel off it. Not very big and not very busy. We wanted to find the Post Office for stamps which took a good 20 mins of sweaty walking to find, in which time Aljan had a haircut! How exciting our lives are! After a brief walkroud we played in the pool til dinner.
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Saturday - Whiteley and I had a pool day, sunbathing and swimming and sampling the local Bintang beer.
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We ate lunch at the hotel then met up with the others for dinner (we traveled to Bali with three French people -George, Olivie and Jan- who we met doing the Mt Bromo tour)- they had rented bikes and gone off to find green rice felds. When they came back though it turns out they didm't actually find any good green rice fields. so we had Arak (rice whiskey) to make up for it and the night went on from there!!

Sunday - We left the hostel at 11am in a Bemo to Amed which was a 2 hr drive. The French (as we called them) were meeting Yans brother in Amed so we thought that was a good stop for us to. It was so beautiful watching the scenery of Bali pass you buy. Everyone was out in their Sunday best and soon we hit traffic which slowed us down considerably. Yan and Aljan got out to explore (they are the same person I think- both extremely inquisative and like to know what's going on!) and they found it was a Hindu festival with crowds of people bringing offerings and food, hence the traffic.
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We arrived in Amed in the afternoon. After checking in we went for a walk along the beach and found a place to eat lunch. It is a very rural small local village. No cashpoint, shops etc. Very peaceful.
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We explored the nearby fields to find a pig in a bag. We had heard it squealing from the roadside so we went to explore. There was an old lady and a boy aged 6 who were carringing a piglet in a bag on a bamboo stick to their house. Aljan took over from the old lady n off we went ("Hi Ho, Hi go...") back to the house. I tried communicating withthe locals but only got as far as the Lonely Planet would allow- ages and "are you ok?" then we saw two massive boars being manhandled into big wicker baskets to be weighed in preparation for slaughter. We left after this since slaughter would be at 7am the following day and wasn't local, otherwise we would be observers for sure!
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Back to the hotel for a swim in the pool (slimy) and bedtime. It was a beautiful starry night.

Posted by RosiePony 18:28 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali backpacking lovina Comments (0)

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