Some final thoughts on Australia

Each and everyday, I notice something different or unique about Australia that would catch my eye.

Here are 20 unique realizations off the top of my head that set Australia apart from Canada.

  1. Australia doesn’t have baby carrots.
  2. Australia is hella expensive compared to Canada in close to everything.
  3. Australia men are way more aggressive when it comes to approaching you… This goes for things like, asking out on dates, dancing w/ at a bar, or even striking up a casual conversation. Definately can be considered a good and bad thing.
  4. Australian lifestyle is way more laid back then Canadian. Australians work to play.
  5. A typical Australian doesn’t actually say G’day when they are saying hello.
  6. Pretty much everything in Australia closes by 5pm on the weekdays except restaurants and cafe’s. Shopping centres (malls) are not open at night.
  7. Australia has this really cool thing in movie theatres where when you purchase your tickets you can pre-select your seat so you dont have to worry about saving seats when you get snacks, etc.
  8. A standard high-ball mixed drink or beer in Australia is around $8.50.
  9. It is not customary for Australians to tip.
  10. Australias beaches are by far the nicest in the world. Personal opinion… I guess I am biased, haven’t been to too many… but they are drop dead gorgeous.
  11. A small container (250g) of blueberries in Australia is around AU $8… you can get a 2kg container in Canada for about $2.99.
  12. School is like highschool. Lots of little assignments, online assessments and quizes.
  13. The driving progression system is very different. You have to get a “learner’s permit” and then have recorded over 100hours of driving before you are allowed to take your “on you own” driving test. That is ALOT of practise if you ask me… as back in Canada we only have to do about 10hours of in car lessons.
  14. Starbucks in Australia isn’t as popular. They have various other chain coffee shops such as Gloria Jeans, and Hudson’s Coffee. Most coffee shops are individually owned and operated in a cafe style. Cafe’s are EVERYWHERE.
  15. Australia is amazing for their DFOs. Direct Factory Outlets are the reason I came back broke. Amazing shopping.
  16. Phone service in Australia is drastically cheaper than Canada. You can get over $550 worth of bulk credit (phone, text, international calling, data) for $40 a month. I used to call back to Canada all the time, and be on the internet nonstop and would never even reach half of my allotted credit. Vodaphone for the win!
  17. Australia is NOT always hot, as many of you people probably think.
  18. Australia is also not all desert and beaches… there are full blown cities with no desert or beach close by.
  19. In Australia when you ask for Lemonade… you are actually asking for Sprite or 7 UP.
  20. Australia is however a very easy country to live in as a Canadian… everyone loves you as soon as you open your mouth. Canadian charms works wonders!

ooooooh crocodile!

Advertisements

Final Goodbyes in Australia.

With time in Australia very limited, goodbyes that I never thought would ever happen had to begin. It is hard to believe that in a 5 month period how much you can really get to know people on a personal level. From those I have met over my travels, those at Uni, neighbours, my roommates and even those I randomly met one day… you are the people who made my experience special. You are the people who bring back those amazing memories of this incredible place, and I charish each and everyone of you for being apart of my trip.

Thanks to facebook, twitter, skype and cyber communication for allowing me to not lose contact to you special people. I have no doubt in my mind that when I head over to all your homelands, we will catch up. I can’t thank each and every one of you enough for everything you have given to me. It is amazing how people from all over the world are able to connect on such a personal level immediately after meeting each other.

I realized while overseas that “backpacking” or being an “international/foreigner” is a “brother/sisterhood.” It is an automatic bond and connection you have with those around you. Something you have in common. It takes a certain “species” of person to have the will to want to travel. The desire to want to explore, overcome new experiences and challenges, and step out of one’s comfort zone.

I noticed that every conversation generally begins and consists of these four questions…

  1. Where are you from?
  2. What are you doing here?
  3. How long have/will you be travelling for?
  4. Do you miss home … are you homesick?

Its an automatic way to start conversation… you’d think that these conversations would get dull and boring after the tenth person, however everyone’s story is completely different. Everyone has a different path for their journey, and varying goals and dreams to accomplish before heading home. I have learned so much about myself and the world just from conversations with other travellers.

Going back to the main purpose of this post… goodbyes, all these new people in my life are the reason I feel completely different as a person when I came home. I have been able to see so many different walks of life, and unique ways people choose to travel and explore. It is extremely inspiring!

It is so nice that those who I met while away are still in contact with me, and I can’t wait until we have a chance to meet up again in the near future.

BELOW: Just a few of those amazing people who I met that helped to shape my amazing experience…

Img_0043
Dscn0697
Img_0132
Me_and_artie
Barstars
Dscn0216
Dscn0496
Dscn0519
380285_3400785852280_1048817914_33171047_1320293231_n
Dsc05478
P4190583
Dscn1117
Img_0894
Dscn1147
Dscn1301
Dscn1297
Img_0985
Dscn0189

Thanks from the bottom of my heart,

Samantha “The Crazy Canadian” Clarke;;

Tick tock tick tock here goes my Australia clock

Reality Check… one week until I return back home to Canada. I can remember back in January thinking that this day would never ever come. One week… 7 days… 168 hours… no matter how you say it… it really isn’t much time.

With the one week countdown on, I had made a list a things I wanted to accomplish and do in Melbourne before I left.

The Wallace and Gromit Exhibit @ Scienceworks

One of my stepmom’s favourite cartoon pairings are the one and only Wallace and Gromit. When I realized that there was a whole exhibit on them 2 train stations away from my place in Melbourne, I just had to go… even though I would be one of the oldest people there.

Dscn3210

Welcome to the Wallace and Gromit Exhibit at Scienceworks Williamstown!

Dscn3213

The adventure begins here! Brings me back a few years, and lets me be a child again… wait what am I saying.. i’m a kid at heart 🙂

Dscn3214
Dscn3216

Wallace and Gromit themself!

http://www.wallaceandgromit.com/characters/

Dscn3218

Throughout the exhibit in displays were crazy “unique” impractical inventions… For instance, a dogbowl made out of dog cookies.

Dscn3219

A teappot made out of merely chocolate…

Dscn3220

A hammer made out of glass.

Dscn3224
Dscn3227

For you momma… yes I brushed and flossed this morning 🙂

Dscn3236
Dscn3239

The kid at heart comes out again… I’m more than positive this slide is made for 8 year old and under. WEEEEEEE

Dscn3244

The best invention in the entire world. A Tim Tam Transformer. Anything and everything can be placed in this machine, you press a few buttons and then VOILA! A pack of Tim Tams comes out. I think the world would be a happier place if this thing actually existed.

Dscn3246

Pooped after a long day at Scienceworks! I think all the knowledge was too much for my exchange brain to handle.

City date with my love Sara ❤ 

A couple days before my departure, Sara and I spent the entire day together reliving our typical date-day all over again. It obviously started with meet at the Flinder’s Station Starbucks; Sara got a White Chocolate Mocha, and I got my Long Black. We roamed around the city, did a bit of shopping and then headed to Melbourne Central for lunch.

Avhgqkdcmaijpqd

The typical Sam close up food picture.

The next thing on our agenda was going to see the MCG. The Melbourne Cricket Ground is one of the top 10 world’s largest stadium’s seating over 100,000 people.

Avhcrijcaaaka7l
Avhd-4tcaaa3lji

AFL’s biggest fan… not. Sorry, but I still stand by my original statement that it is a sad excuse for real football.

Avhd8ulceamzns3
Avhdwphceaeebmh

Self proclaimed dork.

Avhdkvscaaiqapw

Again. Haha

Avheqvzcaaeqtpb

Yes, Sara and I did get two Starbucks in one day. Last time for a while, so we made it count. I really am going to miss that Starbucks. It has been somewhere that I relate alot of my best Australian memories to. I would always meet up with people (mostly Sara) and give her the low-down on my various trips, and what was currently going on in my life.

Avhfpuiciaeqlli

Tootloo Flinder’s Starbies – You will forever be missed. Can’t wait to reunite in the hopefully near future!

Melbourne, you have been a great home for the last 5ish months. Couldn’t ask for a better place to study, live and grow. I have nothing but great memories from this place, and can’t wait to look back 10 years from now with a smile on my face while I reminesce on the great times.

The beginning of a lifelong bucket list…

I have come to accept that noone will fully understand how much of a life-changing experience going on exchange and living overseas is for a person, unless they have personally experienced it. It has opened my eyes to a world of possibilities and has given me the confidence and desire to want to take full advantage of the many opportunities just waiting for me. One question that I have asked myself on multiple occasions while travelling is… what is the rush? What is the rush to “grow up,” finish school, get a job, settle down, begin a monotonous life??? With the hundreds and hundreds of people I have come in contact with in the last 5 months, I have learnt more about the world and myself than I have in the last 20 years of my life. A huge reality check occurred to me, and I came to the conclusion that travel is one of my passions. I have never made an official travel/life bucket list, but I have checked off many things that I would of put on it if it was written down. On my 20 hour flight home from this amazing country/continent, it is my plan to have a solid bucket list in the works. While browsing the internet, I came across “The Ultimate Bucket List,” and saw a handful of things I personally have accomplished in my time overseas… 

Blog

What a better way to remember those little nitty gritty details of my travels than starting a blog. I am not the greatest writer, but I truely believe this blog has been one of the best things I have created, and I am so thankful I kept up with my travels and daily activities. Check!

Liveabroad
Dscn0801

Live Abroad. Two words. Sounds pretty easy right?… WRONG. This is the proudest check off my Bucket List yet. Picking up your life and transporting it to a far away (~16000kms) foreign, unknown land is extremely nervewracking and difficult. I am so proud to say that I did it, and am close to making it home in one piece. Check!

Titanic
Dscn0331

While visiting Justin in Singapore, we had the chance to go to the 100th year Titanic Exhibit. I know it isn’t the real Titanic, but I only have my PADI Introduction Dive Certification… one day i’ll work my way up to being able to scuba dive the real Titanic. Partial Check!

Surf
P2070228

What a better place in the world to take my first surf lesson than the one and only Surfer’s Paradise in the Gold Coast of Australia. Thanks to Hamish for all the support, and being awesome eye candy! You got it duddddddeeee…. Check!

Rock_climb
Dscn0760

How many times in your life can one go on a 7-day rock climbing – abseiling – prussicking – trapezing – camping trip and get a credit for University. Very unlikely. Mount Franklin was the first mountain that we had various climbs set up, as well as the Grampian Mountains. Check!

Gbr
P4190627

On our “spring break” trip down the East Coast of Australia, we booked a tour on Ocean Freedom which cruised along two different dive locations on the Great Barrier Reef. Insia, Clare and I all received our PADI Introduction Dive Certificate. I also had the chance to do another Introductory Dive while on the Atlantic Clipper while sailing the Whitsundays. Check!

Insect
Img_0749

It may not have been a LARGE live insect… but I did eat a green-bottomed ant on the Uncle Brians Tour. I don’t know if I am just extremely gullible or what, but apparently their bottoms/bum is loaded with Vitamin C if you like them. I figured if a lick is good, eating it would be better. Check!

Volcano
Dscn1186

Once again another modification on this one. Climbing an active volcano is cool I guess… but i’d say that swimming in a non-active volcano is even cooler. The last stop on our Uncle Brians Tour through the Atherton Tablelands was at a volcano that has been turned into a waterhole. Check!

Auz_animals
Img_2657

I shall list them for you if you’d like… Emu, Dingo, Koala (cute but fiesty when disturbed), Shark, and a the brown snake. My wildlife exposure was absurd in Australia. Check!

Wildlife
Dscn2006

As mentioned above, I saw so many animals/wildlife during my experience overseas… From the top of my head I can recollect seeing; monkeys, emus, dingoes, sharks, kangaroos, wallabies, turtles, komodo dragon (I think), snakes, camels, koals, barking owls, and many more. I most definately took way to many pictures of them as well. Check

Penguins
Img_5002

On the Phillip Island tour I was able to see the smallest species of Penguins in the entire world. The name is a dead giveaway… they are called Little Penguins. They would gather in groups of around a dozen and cross the beach at shortly after dusk to make their way back to their on land habitat to settle in for the evening. Check!

Camping
Img_2585

I have never camped so much in my entire life, as I have in Australia. I can count four camping experiences since being overseas. Each of these camps have all been very different from each other. From base camping in my outdoor education classes, to camping in a cave, in a bush, sleeping in a swag, sleeping in a tent, and on Fraser Island… the variety was fabulous. To fulfill the requirement for checking this certain task off my bucket list, while in the Outback, we had to collect firewood as a group to provide heat for not only staying warm, but to prepare our meals. I think I am ready to be on the show survivor after this! Check!! 

Camel
Img_2648

Self explanatory. Check!

Fear
Img_0100
May not be my ULTIMATE biggest fear, but it comes pretty close. I think this is a fear that many people don’t realize they have until they are forced to face it straight on. The Fear of the Unknown. I believe that I have been stretched in every which way while being overseas; emotionally, physically, mentally, financially, socially and academically… and I can confidently say I conquered everything with a smile on my face. The fear of the unknown is nothing to be worried about, but something to find excitement within. As I am currently in my house in Australia, I realize I only have two more sleeps before heading back home. I can officially say this task is 100% checked off my bucket list, and I couldn’t be more proud of myself. CHECK CHECK CHECK! 
Dscn0255

Cheers to that!

Bendigo.

What do two canadian girls do when they have approaching exams in Australia? …
Take an overnight trip to Bendigo with Basil! 

Last Sunday, Basil came and picked Insia and I up at the “Canadian Embassy” and we made our way to Bendigo. We took the “scenic” route and stopped in Dayleford & drove through Castlemaine. We remembered that we had been the Daylesford before by Insia recognizing one of the bakeries that we went to. Typical haha. 

After grabbing lunch and an awful Turkish Delight cheesecake in Daylesford, we continued out journey to Bendigo. 

Once we arrived in Bendigo, we got the warmest welcome ever. His parents are absolute gems. It was the most amazing feeling to be in a real home with parents for the first time in over 5 months. We went out back where his dad’s woodshop was located, and he was working away on some of his projects. Basil’s dad is a wood worker, and he makes some beautiufl pieces. His latest and coolest projects are these earring holders. We were able to score one each to bring home. 

When we made our way back into the house, we were offered quite a selection of treats and sweets. Basil’s parents are once again amazing people.
539953_10151008660705853_407887436_n

Niceeeee face Basil 🙂

After shoving our faces with all the food we were offered, we headed out for a short city tour before grabbing dinner at the local pub with his parents. 

179931_10151008661090853_1575991466_n

On top of “Mickey Mouse”/”Make out point” with Insia. hahaha 

This place has an amazing view of the entire city. The cathedral is the focal point, and at night it is light up beautifully. 

I briefly mentioned that I had never had a “chicken parma” before and all jaws dropped. Apparently a chicken parma is a classssssic dish that has to be consumed before heading home. What a better time to get one then. 
551196_10151008661320853_1147054108_n

It was everything and more that I imagined. They serve it on a bed of “chips” and it comes smothered in cheese and tomato sauce. It was so delicious, but I couldn’t finish it. Basil told me about a dish called the Parmageddon. Apparently it is the world’s largest chicken parma, and his friends have attempting to finish it before. The sound of it makes me nauscious. I also discovered a new obsession with the game Keno. We all pitched money and you are able to gamble from your table. Super fun 🙂

After dinner, we ventured out into the city some more and Basil showed us this Chinese Lotus Flower. We saw it more as a climbing apparatus than anything else. 

252722_10151008662585853_2066195129_n-1

Wild childs.

Basil’s parents were so amazing to Insia and I. His mother had the electric blanket all ready for us when we got home. This blanket is the closest thing to heaven ever. We didn’t turn it off all night. It was one of the best sleeps I have ever had in my entire life. 

533341_10151008664980853_1067959396_n

Bendigo was such a great break from being at Canada House. Canada House can get really lonely at times as we are so secluded from the city, and are in such a “dull” neighbourhood. It was amazing to get out of Melbourne for the night and be in a home. It gave us the push to make it through the week ahead of us. We woke up the next morning bright and early, to make it back to Melbourne to start studying for the 2 exams that were the following days. Studying the day before a cumulative final exam probably wasn’t the smartest idea, but YOLO in Melbourne, Australia… so I have to take advantage of everything as it comes! School isn’t the priority. Sorry parents. I forgot I was here for school a WHILE back. 

Thanks for everything Basil and family! Your hospitality was amazing, and we can’t express our appreciation enough for everything you did for us! 

Canadians know how to bring sexy outBACK.

With exams around the corner, there was limited time left for a spontaneous Australian Adventure. When Lisa Murphy rang me in the middle of May about a Red Centre Tour, I couldn’t say no. From June 1st to June 5th we were going to be heading to Alice Springs, Kings Canyon, & the Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park!

Dscn2690

Shortly after landing in Melbourne from Sydney, I had an afternoon to study, pack and write an exam before leaving the next day at 6am to head back to the airport for the Red Centre.

Everywhere down the East Coast in Australia is relatively similar. Covered by beaches, and backpackers, I consider it very “commercial” & “typical” tourism. It is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but for those who really want to see the country, you need to get off the beaten track. I was stoked to go to Central Australia, because it is completely different than everywhere else I had been in Australia to date.

After a short 2 and a half hour flight from Melbourne to Alice Springs, we arrived, surrounding by a sea of RED!

Dscn2696

Out of this world. The Red Centre is amazing. There are landmarks literally in the middle of nowhere. It is crazy to think how these places got to where they are now.

Img_1137

Day 1: When we arrived in Alice Springs, we checked into our hostel and ventured out into the town. We had three things on our agenda to accomplish that day in Alice Springs, and we were informed by the worker at the hostel that we will have done everything there is to do in Alice Springs. First was to roam the city, take a free digereydoo lesson, and go up to Anzac Hill and get a nice veiw of the town. Needless to say, there isnt much to do here. Alice Springs is one of the MAIN hubs for all the Rock Tour departs. First thing was grab a coffee. The real first thing on the list was to roam the streets and check out what this place was all about. Alice Springs has a HUGE indigenous population with more than half of the people being indigenous. It was amazing to see how different their lifestyle was compared to the rest of Australians in the town. They walk around with barefeet, shout across the roads to each other (which I was later informed, they aren’t mad at each other, it was just that back in the day when it was WAY to hot in the middle of the desert to have to get up and go talk to someone, they would just yell from one tree to the other). Alice Springs was amazing.

Img_1142

On our way through the town in search of lunch, we were spotted and called to join a BBQ at the town’s “community centre.” We were informed it was National Reconcilation Week, and they were celebrating by having a free BBQ. Perfect timing, I’d say! NRW is when they celebrate the coming together of the Australians and the Aboriginals as one. It was amazing feel the excitement and how proud everyone was in this town. They also had a banner where you were able to put a handprint and write something layed out on the ground. We got our picture taken by one of the coordinators, and we may show up in the Alice Springs newspaper in the near future. Lisa and I are practicaly celebrities in Alice Springs.

Img_1160

These are didgeridoos. They are a unique musical instrument that is known in the Indigenous culture. Lisa and I went to the theatre in Alice Springs and participated in a workshop. Let me tell you, it was ALOT harder than both of us imagined. The way that you have to position your mouth, and form your lips to create specific sounds is so hard! Another check off the bucket list however!

Before heading back to the hostel for an early night’s rest prior to our 5am Rock Tour pick-up, we hiked/walked up Anzac Hill.

Dscn2739
Dscn2733

The view was incredible. I finally figured out that on my camera I had a panoramic setting that was extremely handy while I was in the real outback. The weather was so nice compared to the weather I have been used to back in Melbourne. When we rocked up on Anzac Hill we ran into Lisa’s roommate who was also doing a Rock Tour the next day! In such a small town, the chances of running into someone you know is very likely haha. We also met another Canadian. She was from Nunavut. She was so interesting, and she told us all about life in Nunavut, and what it was like to be from an Aboriginal decent. She was making her way to work on a Indigenous site for the next three months, being an after school coordinator and volunteer. After this trip, I think something like that would be such an incredible experience, and may look into doing something in the future!

Img_1223

Whilst taking this picture, I was scouted out by a professional photographer who was also in Anzac Hill. He came up to me afterwards with his business card and said he wanted to use me as a model. Unfortunately I was leaving the next morning, so I had to decline. Apparently I have a level of grace when I jump… hahaha.

Time for an early nights rest! The morning was going to be here in no time. zzzzzzzZZZZ

Day 2: June 2nd/12

Alarm went off at 5am… to early for some people, but I dont think I have ever jumped out of bed so fast in my life. Time to hit the RED CENTRE. What a dream come true. After gathering all our belongings and heading to the check out desk, we were informed there was a 30 minute time difference in Alice Springs and we could of slept in for another half hour. Not impressed in the slightest. I suppose, free breakfast and coffee makes everything better?

And to make things even better… our tour guide wasn’t to bad to look at either, especially at 530am. Lisa and I are still not sure if he was a nice, genuine guy? or way to sarcastic it was almost mean? hahaha

After a 5 hour drive through the middle of nowhere, where if your car broke down, or you ran out of gas… you’d be screwed, we made it to our first 10km hike of the tour. It was at Watarrka (King’s Canyon). This Canyon put’s the Grand Canyon (apparently it is actually a Gorge) to shame. In the middle of the summer, this area can get up to 45 degrees celcius, which would be completely UNBERABLE to have to hike through.

Dscn2790

The King’s Canyon was gorgeous. Located in the middle of absolutely nowhere, this Canyon was the only thing you could see for miles.

Dscn2797

After being an expert rock climber and hiker from my rock climbing class, no hike is to tough for this Canadian chick!

Dscn2804

The view from the top of the stairs. Complete bliss.

Dscn2807
Dscn2812

I adore this chick. Best person to travel with ever.

Dscn2816

Stacks on stacks on stacks of red rocks.

Dscn2818

The view from across the Canyon to the other side.

Dscn2821
Dscn2834

Never have I ever felt so small in my life, as I did when I was in Kings Canyon.

Dscn2877

Mid way through the hike, Cooper our tour guide informed us we were allowed to cross “wanting to jump over a canyon” off our bucket list. Half the group you could tell was scared shitless…

Dscn2891

This is a 300 million year beach we are lying on. If you pay close attention to the texture in the rocks, there is a ripple pattern. Sexy beach pose.

Dscn2909

Another really cool fossil in the rocks. This is a barnacle fossil.

Img_1366
Dscn2915

Here is the Canyon jump. Not as death defying or exciting as I expected.

Dscn2937

Jumping off a cliff. I survived as you probably realized… as I am able to write about it now.

Dscn2932

We had such an amazzzzzzing group. This is one of the first tour groups that everyone got to know everyone. Hands down, favourite group I have travelled with!

After a long 10km walk, and over 3 litres of water… it was time to head back to our camp for the night. The first night was a Bush Camp… in the middle of NOWHERE. We had no toilet or shower facilities, and we had to collect firewood for heat and cooking.

Img_1389

Dirty charcoal hands. It took Lisa and I about 20 minutes to drag ONE piece of firewood to the trailor… the sad thing is, I dont even think we used our piece. BRUTAL.

Img_1391

Bush camp preparation.

Img_2548
Img_2546

Amazing dinner prepared on the fire, and a few beers to complete a perfect day in the Red Centre!

Day 3: Kata Tjuta – “The Olgas”

Once again an incredible landmark found in the middle of nowhere. Today we did another 10 km hike through the Olgas.

Img_1423

Ready for another long day in the Outback!

Dscn2956

Trying to be all artsy with my photography.

Dscn2964

These rocks are HUGE. Pictures do not do the Olga’s justice.

Dscn2968

Breath-taking… and yes I am talking about the background.

Dscn2983

Lisa and I.

Img_1491

Western Pride follows me to each travel destination.

Dscn2990

The Amazing Rock Tour Group!The second half of the 2nd day on our Rock Tour was spent in the Cultural Centre at Uluru, and check out Uluru at a distance. Fun fact of the day… only 1/3 of this rock is able to be seen on the surface. Over 60% of this huge ONE PIECE rock is barried under the ground. THIS THING IS MASSSSIVE. Uluru was my favourite part of the trip. You realize it isn’t… just one big rock in the middle of nowhere. There is so much history and cultural significance behind it, it really makes you appreciate what you are seeing. Cooper our tour guide is really culturally sensitive because he is friends with lots of the indigenous people in the area. Some areas on the Uluru are considered sacred and are classified as “male” or “female” sites. It was said that back in the day if a male was to see one of the female sacred sites they would be punished. Punishments ranged from beatings, to having their head slit on the forehead. Cooper, likes to instill this mentality with the sacred sites, and has never seen the sacred sites himself. As tourists in this area, the indigenous people see us as children. We do not have a name, a gender, or any sort of importance. Because of this, we are able to look at the sites and not be punished for it. There was ALOT of really cool history and stories behind everything in the Red Centre.

Dscn3011

Little rock… and bigggg ROCK.

Dscn3020

It is an option to climb Uluru. The indigenous in this area try their hardest to convince people otherwise. This rock is extremely sacred and important to them, and they are hurt on the inside as each an every person walks on their piece of land. Over 35 people have died from climbing this rock, and the government will finally close it down as soon at 3 more people lose their lives. The indigenous feel great sadness when someone loses their lfie, or injures themselves on their land, and they host huge ceremonies and memorials for those individuals. Lisa and I were convinced we were going to climb, but after all the knowledge and information we found out about Uluru, we decided to respect the Indigenous’ wishes, and not climb. I bought a certificate at the gift shop that I signed, they states I did not climb Uluru.

Dscn3058

We only did a 3 km walk called the Mala walk this evening. We stopped off at a few sacred sites, however we were unable to take pictures of them.

This picture here is a classssssic touristy shot. Depending on how you angle the camera, you can see how the relative height of the tree to the height of the rock. I dont know if I got it perfectly bang on… but I think it was a good attempt.

Img_1551

All smiles here!

Img_1559

Hot Tom and I. To lazy to stand up.

The evening was spent at the parking lot which provides the postcard view of Uluru-Ayer’s Rock. Within our group, the tour guide proposed a challenge that if anyone finds a pose that he has never seen before in fron of the rock he would buy them a jug of beer.

Dscn3075

Why not get naked?

Dscn3083

Canadian Chicks for the win! I wonder if anyone on Uluru had binoculars and got a nice show from the two of us… sorry mom!

Dscn3111

Hat, gloves, plaid shirt, sock and sandals… the typical Canadian. Never have I ever been so proud to be from Canada in my life. Everyone loves Canadians.

Dscn3117

It’s not Ayer’s Rock without shotgunning a beer.

Img_1599

The infamous Uluru – Ayer’s Rock sunset.

On the way home from Uluru – Ayer’s Rock we stopped at the closest petrol station to grab some snacks….

Dscn3140

TIM TAM smores for me please! Nothing taste better than a fire toasted marshmellow with the accompaniment of a chocolate timtam on a biscuit… Australia doesnt have graham crackers readily avaliable apparently. SO DELICIOUS.

Img_2585

This is a SWAG. My definition and best way of describing a SWAG is an extremely durable ziploc bag. After shuffling into your sleeping bag, you make your way into your SWAG. It is used to keep your sleeping bag clean, and to trap in the heat while in the freezing cold nighttime desert. As temperatures reach the negatives in the winter, you need a SWAG to avoid freeezzing.

Day 4: Uluru Base Walk (10km)

Today was our last day on the The Rock Tour. The morning came extremely early… 5am once again. In order to see the Uluru Sunrise we had to pack up camp and make it to the carpark by 6am latest. Breakfast and hot drinks were prepared here, where we had a chance to take some pictures of the sunrise. Since being in Australia, I have a new appreciation for Sunset and Sunrises. I have seen heaps in various locations, all having a mixtures of colours and designs. Some of them have been the most breathtaking sights I have seen before.

Img_2602

Picture perfect.

Img_2611

Gorgeous photo take by Lise.

Img_2615

At 6am… it is FREEEZZZING in the desert… hence why I stayed in the bus.

After the sunrose, we made our way back to the base of Uluru for our 10km – 3 hour hike around the base of Uluru… as the name states. Lisa and I took the lead in the group, and within minutes we were already way ahead of everyone else. Without even noticing we missed on of the sights we were suppose to stop in (a special waterhole) and we continued along the track.

Img_2626

One thing we were informed of before our walk, is that only 1/3rd of the rock is actually located above ground. Being over 350metres above ground… it is mind blowing to think that about 750 metres are barried beneath the surface. This rock is needless to say fricken MASSIVE.

We must of been deep in conversation, and didn’t notice we had separated from the group. We made it back to the carpark and had to wait for the rest of the group to catch up. Woops.

The Uluru Base walk was the last organized event on our Rock Tour as a whole group. We dropped more than half of the tour off at the Ayer’s Rock Airport, and prepared for a 5 hour drive back to Alice Springs. On our way we stopped off at this Camel Farm. This farm had wallabies, dingos, emus, and plenty of camels. For the small price of $6 we were able to take a ride on a camel. I can officially say before this day, I have never had to ask a sales person for a camel ride. Well, there is another think to check off the bucket list!

Img_2630

This is the Western Camel. He is rocking the purple quite well! #stangsvscamels

Img_2648

Here is Bert. Bert is a trainee camel. In a couple years, Bert will be a racing Camel. Yes you read that correctly, camels race in Australia just like horses. Being able to ride a camel was the funniest and strangest thing I have ever done in my life. As you can see, Lisa and I were not able to hold our composure whilst on the camel, and were in hysterics the entire time. BUSCH.

Img_2654

This is Lisa and my attempt at kissing a camel. Going against my mother’s request to not get to close, I discovered that she was correct on one thing. They do indeed have terrible breath. I guess the statement is true, mother’s are always right.

The camel farm that we went too is the same one that is featured on the Discovery Atlas : Australia Revealed series. While I was watching this show, I put two and two together and realized that the guy who I met at the camel farm, was featured on this segment. Sooooo coooool!

We finally made it back to Alice Springs after an amazing 3 days in the Red Centre. It was really sad to say goodbye to the group that we travelled with. You meet people from all over the world, and it makes it really hard to say goodbye cause it is rare you will ever see them again in your life. Thanks to good ole’ facebook for being a good source to keep in touch! The Rock Tour surpassed all of my expectations. Until the Outback, the Whitsundays was my favourite place that I had seen in Australia. These two places come really close to each other for #1 in my book. The outback is so difference than any other place in Australia. It was the perfect end trip to my exchange. Spending 5 days with Lisa was also amazing. She is fabulous in every which way! Such a cool cat.

Img_1295

Can’t wait to reminesce on all the good times in Australia back at Western!

Sydney – Byron Bay – Nimbin

After 3 weeks of Georgia and Hayley staying with me in Melbourne, and travelling up the coast – it was time for the 3 of us to go on an adventure together up to Sydney – Byron Bay and Nimbin for their last week. 

On the evening of May 23rd we arrived in Sydney and were greeted by the lovely Scotty Kerr at his amazing studio apartment in the middle of the Sydney CBD. I dont think anything could of prepared Scott for hosting 3 ladies. Estrogen overdose. I think in the end he really enjoyed our company, and I couldnt of asked for a better host myself. We made sure we bought him a thank you present to keep him entertained when his three favourite roomies left him 🙂

The night that we arrived in Sydney, we unloaded our belongings in his apartment and headed out to the Opera Bar. The Opera Bar reminded me of the Marche’ in Toronto, where there were various restaraunts to choose from in one central location. I had the most delicious pizza, and the girls had these humongous burgers. so yummmy! With all the travelling in the day, we called it an early night afterwards!

The next morning we woke up bright and early to unfortunately be granted with a rainy, windy, overcast crappy day. We headed to Bondi Beach for the morning were we grabbed breakfast and found shelter from the rain for a couple hours. We initially wanted to do the Bondi to Coogee walk but the rainy weather made that not an ideal decision. We spent the day cruising through the various surf shops, clothing stores and cafes in Bondi and then headed back to Bondi Junction. When we got to Bondi Junction we bumped into Lisa by accident! On my way home and on her way home it was a pleasant surprise. We had already made plans to see each other in Sydney that evening to go out, so it was strange to bump into her beforehand! Definately did a doubletake when I saw her haha. 

Our first night in Sydney’s evening ended up with Lisa and her roommate Bianca coming to Scotty’s apartment and a whole gang of Canadian’s playing Kings. I would have to say that this was probably the funniest game of King’s I have ever played. We headed out for a couple different places that night on Darling Harbour and finished off the night with a pack of tim tams… duh. 

The next morning was spent catching up on some good ole zzzzzzz. In the early afternoon when Scott headed to either footy club, frisbee club or maybe it was chess club? haha we ventured out into the Sydney Harbour and surrounding areas. It was amazing to see the Sydney Opera House and Bridge for a second time. It is still as amazing each and everytime that you see it. Hayley had never been to Sydney before and you could just tell by the look on her face how much in awe she was. 

Dscn2161

It is really and truely (Ms. H reference) one of those iconic places that you can’t believe you are looking at until someone mentions it to you. I remember saying to the girls.. “guys, we are in Sydney, Australia right now” and Hayley just stopped. She said that it had finally hit her where she was, and it took me saying that to hit home to her. It is truely amazing this place. 

After seeing the Sydney Harbour from ground level we made our way around to an area close by the Pylon Lookout where the view is even more spectacular. On our way we ran into these 2 lovely gentlemen who were jamming out by the Harbour. I love this city for this exact reason. You really can’t go more than a few minutes without running into street performers! It really brighten the mood of each and every neighbourhood!

Dscn2171

Oh so cute!

Dscn2198

This red igloo caught my eye immediately. Canadian pride eh? This igloo was one of the many exhibits and art pieces for the ViVd Sydney festival that was taking place while we were around. This piece is completely made out of Jerry Cans! 

The next stop on our day plan was the Pylon Lookout. You get to climb a few hundred stairs and see the Sydney Harbour from a heightened area. The view is spectacular. It is comparable to the view that you get from the Sydney Harbous Bridge, however it is about 10x cheaper and you are allowed to bring your own camera. I say it is a way better deal if you ask me… and plus you dont have to wear a dorky suit while you are admiring the city!

Dscn2236

The Sydney Harbour. SPECTACULAR.

Dscn2251

Being the daredevil that I am, I thought it would be a good idea to give Hayley a small heart attack and sit on the plastic protection barrier that surroudns the Pylon Lookout. I like to live on the edge, however the lady at the ticket booth wasn’t to impressed with us on the way down… apparently you aren’t allowed to almost risk your life and sit on the barrier they purposely put up so people wouldn’t fall off. Pish posh! What an adrenaline i’d say though!

My absolute favourite place in Sydney is The Rocks. The Rocks is a cute little neighbourhood where there is an ongoing market with food, baked treats, art work and produce for sale all year round. Last time I was here Lisa Murphy (Sydney chick) suggested we try an Okonomiyaki, and for those of you who don’t understand Japanese… haha is a Japanese Pancake. They are to DIE for let me tell you. I insisted G and Haylz both try one, and I dont think they were disappointed. YUM YUM YUM.

Dscn2353

One Okonomiyaki for me please 🙂

Dscn2358

VULTURE around food.

There is no such thing as a complete meal without some sort of sweet. To seal the deal, Georgia and I each got a gourmet cupcake. The icing was amazing. So fluffy and freshly prepared. 

Dscn2365

Sweet tooth on overdrive. (G – Mint Chocolate, S – French Vanilla)

On the harbour, this Digeridooer is always sitting in the exact same place. I had no idea how hard these instruments? were to play. After taking a lesson in Alice Springs with Lisa, I have a whole new level of appreciation for these musicians. It is incredible how just the shape of your mouth can change the entire sound that comes out. 

Dscn2370

I couldn’t imagine a better way to end off the two days that we had in Sydney. We headed to the Sydney Botanical Gardens and found a few nice pieces of grass to sit on. We ended up getting deep into conversation, and it was so nice to finally catch up with my two best friends. It was surreal to think that it was almost a month since they had arrived, and coming up to about 4 1/2 months for myself. Time flies when you are having fun. Cliche… but true. Not everyday and not everyone gets the change to travel to Australia with their two best friends. It was a huge bonding experience for us, and we have many travel plans for the future! They are amazing, plain and simple and it was really sad to have to say bye to them a few days later 😦 Can’t wait to see you ladies again when we reminesce on our auzzie time over a handful of tim-tam slams. 

Dscn2407

Byron Bay – We boarded and overnight bus from Sydney Central Station, and made our way on a 14 hour bus ride to Byron Bay to arrive in the early morning. With plenty of snacks a aboard, the ride went by quite fast. When we arrived in Byron Bay, I got off the coach bus and recognized someone holding up a sign for one of the hostels in the area. I took a second look and realized it was a girl that was on my Atlantic Clipper boat that I had gotten to know. Her name is Merritt and she was was Edmonton, Alberta, and was working in Byron Bay for a couple months! Such a small world it is! 

We eventually headed to our hostel (the Arts Factory) and checked in, dropped off our luggage and made our way back into the city. As soon as you get onto one of the main streets you can really feel the hippie – surfer – chilltown vibe that Byron is known for. I could definately see myself living here in the summer months at one point in my life. Life seems so simple and relaxed here. 

We lucked out with good weather this day, so we took full advantage of it and planted ourselfes by the beach and tried to catch some rays while we waited to meet up with Clare and Insia who were also in Byron that day.

Dscn2429

Sun Kissed. Too blessed to be stressed.

Dscn2436

Surfing is a daily activities for many Australians. The stereotype of people surfing for a living in Australia has some validity to it. If the water wasn’t so cold, I would of taken full advantage of the amazing waves that Byron provides. 

Dscn2453

SUPER AWESOME – How can one not take a picture of something that says SUPER AWESOME on it. I just had to go in and see what they were selling, and not to my surprise, it was surf gear and equipment.

Dscn2454

When Insia and I become Dentists and Chiropractors we are going to ensure our clinics are in the same building/plaza/centre so we can see each other all the time. 

Just below is the check-in desk to our hostel. I have never felt so welcome and happy at a hostle before. The Arts Factory is amazing. There is a great family – friendly atmosphere that is given off here. There are lots of things to do, such as free yoga classes, digeridooing workshops, etc and a Buddha Bar located a few steps away from the hostel. For those of you staying in Byron Bay in your lifetime, make sure to stay here. You wont regret it!

Dscn2459

Our first night, we unfortunately were split up when we made it to Cheeky Monkey’s because Hayley had forgot her ID in the room. By the time they got back, the line was to long so they went to the hostel bar instead and Clare and I ripped up the d-floor for hours on end. At Cheeky Monkey’s this night it was ladies night, so an abundance of male amateur foreign strippers made an appearance. Probably one of the most hilarious things I have ever seen in my life. 

Nimbin – Oh man… nothing can prepare one for a Sunday trip to Nimbin.

After the 5 of us (G, Haylz, Insia, Clare and I) boarded the Happy Coach in the morning, we met our tour guide for the beginning portion of the day.

Dscn2461

Right away he emerged us into the Nimbin life. His jokes were ridiculous and the stickers that were on the walls of the bus definately gave us an idea of what we were getting ourselves into. 

Dscn2464

Here is one of the many stickers on the walls and ceiling of the bus. 

Nimbim is the marijuana capital of Australia. You literally cannot go more than 5 steps without an older “innocent” looking lady or men whispering to you, “cookie”, “cookie.” And no those cookies, are chocolate chip gourmet cookies. Those are special cookies. It was absolutely hilarious though for the group of us. A must do experience for anyone in the Byron Bay area.

Dscn2491

Happy High Herbs to many of your surprise doesn’t sell illicit or psychedic drugs… darn. haha It is a store that is dedicated to natural and organic products, and drugs that aren’t illegal. 

The Nimbin Museum was so creepy. I tried to get out of there as soon as I could. 

Dscn2495

When we got back from our day in Nimbin, we had some time to relax on the beach and watch the sunset. The sunset was incredible. The weather was beautiful as well which was a nice added touch to our already amazing day! Couldn’t ask for a better ending to the day – spending some quality time with the girls on the beach watching the sunset.

Dscn2513

Happy panda!

Rise and shine! Time for skydive attempt number 2. I am not even going to drag this out any longer. It got cancelled… AGAIN. After waiting a few hours for the confirmation, apparently the winds were too strong and we werent able to jump. BOGUS I tell you. Instead, we made our way up the the Cape Byron where the Lighthouse is located. It is an incredible walk and you are able to see all of Byron’s Main Beach. 

Dscn2539

Perfection.

Dscn2563

Pro- Surfer

Dscn2566

Western pride. 

Our time in Byron came to an end alot faster than any of us would of liked, but it was time to head back to Sydney on another overnight bus and spend the last day together before the girlies headed back to Canada.

Sydney – May 29th/12

Long story short… I had another skydive booked in Sydney on this day to reschedule the one in Byron… but it was raining… so it was cancelled too. Yup. Just my luck. URGH.

The day was spent reorganizing the girlies bags, and heading to see Manly beach via a ferry across the harbour.

Dscn2589

We lucked out with a nice day – which is so rare these days in Sydney. I think the poor weather followed us each and every place we went. Rain, wind, whatever possible to try to put us in a bad mood. 

Dscn2596

Manly Beach. 

We headed back to the Sydney main harbour in the early afternoon, to meet up with Scott for our last night together. We grabbed dinner at the Opera Bar again and checked out the various events that were going on for ViVd Sydney. 

Dscn2612

This bike is pretty self explanatory. It has pink heart wings. 

Dscn2630

The colours on this building would change colours nonstop! It was soooo cool. The entire harbour was lite up with different patterns and colours. 

Dscn2631

The Opera House, had various patterns being projected onto it. 

Dscn2652

Roomies. 

Dscn2662

Lookin’ good eh? – Here is the igloo that you saw earlier up lite up from inside.

We eventually headed back to Scott’s apartment and spent the night watching Departures. It was really sad to think that in the morning I had to say goodbye to G and Haylz, as well as Scott. He was such a great host, and his knowledge of the wind direction and speed was super beneficial 😉 Sydney is an awesome city to live in. There is always something to do, and it is really easy to get around in with the transport system. I’m really going to miss Sydney!

Dscn2681

Time to head back to Melbourne for a day and a half to finish a whole assignment, write and online exam, pack for the outback and head to the airport! 

Nonstop travelling is the best way to do it!