02.07.2008 - 12.07.2008
July 2nd 2008: Miss Kate Elliott and Mr Reuben Whitehouse departed Melbourne, Australia, for Byron Bay, Australia. Not as far as the last time I wrote here on this blog but that being said a far more epic journey involving 2000+ kilometres in 4 days in our new ultra-fat station wagon.
After spending the most awesome 9 months ever in Melbourne where we've made more good friends and family than we ever could have hoped, we realised we might want to stay in Australia for a while longer and the best way to do that was to take up the Aussie government's generous offer of another year's Visa in return for a few weeks work in the most gorgeous rainforests in the north of the country where it's warm and hilly and luscious like a Lord of the Rings film!
So after being paid for some recent huge piles of work, I put the cash to use and after much searching and other efforts we purchased a car in which to travel north (and around the north once we were to get there). So we are now the proud owners of a 1997 Ford Falcon Station Wagon. It's big: it's long enough that a stringy fella like me can fully stretch out in it with just the back seats folded down; it has enough space for our big old surfboard to fit inside it; it has a friggin 4 LITRE engine! We named him 'Robot': he has cruise control (you press a button and Robot presses the gas pedal on your behalf); he has central locking with a remote control that goes beep when you use it; he has a stereo that works; he has air conditioning; he has the word 'computer' written on the side bumper strip in relation to the engine torque control (woah!). Also, he has a visor, shiny wheels and tinted windows. Maybe we should call him Mr Pimped Robot.
In the last 5 days we've travelled a long way in Robot. We took the coast road north-east through Victoria and into New South Wales, just about stopping only to sleep. We spent one afternoon and night in the much bigged-up 'Tathra' where the Watsons take their annual family holiday. Here we encountered for the first time real-life Kangaroos, Wallabies and other such crazy creatures. We cooked up some baked potatoes on the camp fire in honour of Mr David Bowen. We rolled-up a wee Nimbin smoke in toast to Mr Peter Spinner. Then after all that, and feeling ever so slightly numbed in the brain, we turned around to see a couple of Kanga's silently watching us from just a few feet behind. They looked bigger under the glare of our little torch and also under the paranoic influence of the previously consumed goodies. So we slinked into the back of Robot, slammed the boot and waited for them to start trying the locks with those screwdrivers that they probably keep in their pouches.
In the morning we woke to find no such screwdrivered locks or slashed tires and instead found them all watching the sunset right there on the beach. I staggered down and got about 10 feet from a big 'Roo who took the slightest bit of notice of me before once again turning his attention to the sunrise. Respect. We took about 500 photos and then another smaller one turned up and we just about saw a baby Roo in her pouch as she hopped past. Awesome!
Get Behind Me, Kilometres:
After the Tathra experience we had to make up on time so we jammed it all the way up through NSW, getting stuck in yucky Sydney commuter traffic (somehow I managed to negotiate - and survive - the complex route which the Princes' Highway takes through Sydney in one go) and free-camped in a caravan park in Narooma (I think) and then onward until we reached Byron Bay by Saturday afternoon. We went straight to the campsite on the beach which Pete, Ollie and I had stayed at just weeks before (miss those boys aaahhh!) and felt on top of the world. I took the old surfboard straight out and splashed around for a bit before dragging Kate around Byron and walking her through all the highlights of the trip which I'd had there previously: "This is where we drank Rum for breakfast"; "This is where we staggered from one pub to another"; "This is where we first saw Jack's multi-colored jumper!"; etc.
So now we are just about settled in to a small farm just outside Byron Bay, right up in the hills. We're staying with two very nice people - Neil and Kitty - and their two Kelpy dogs and we're helping to re-establish the native rainforests which were cleared for agricultural use way back in the day. Currently this involves pulling out big but not too heavily rooted weeds, breaking them up into piles, and then counting how many leeches jumped off them and onto our ankles / wrists. It's not that bad on the Leech front really. It's gorgeous up here - so green and lush everywhere. We're helping to clear out a small gully at the foot of the property which has a small waterfall and a winding creek. We take the dogs with us each day and by the end of it they're totally tired from running around and swimming all day. We went into the local town and got some matching overalls for the job so we like to think that we look like Ghostbusters, but I think its more likely that we look like some inbred circus freaks, but then that would be an awesome achievement too, no?