This blog covers our trip around the world in 2006. We will post here with news of where we are and what we've been up to. Enjoy! Ang & Jane

Monday, October 9

Location: Alice Springs
Miles Travelled: 26337
Time Zone: GMT + 8:30

Kroombit is a remote inland cattle station somewhere between Airlie Beach and Hervey Bay where we were to learn some of the tricks of the jackaroos! After checking in, dumping our stuff into a dorm that looked awfully like an old stable, and having dinner we had our first learning experience - cracking a whip! I always thought the noise of the whip cracking was from it hitting the ground, but it's actually the sound of it breaking the sound barrier! You have to make it reverse direction at speed for this to happen, and I'm afraid I was a bit rubbish... The girl who was showing us what to do told me she could hear it, but I'm sure she was just being nice! After the whip debacle we had low expectations for the next event - the bucking bronco! The deal was that each person had a chance to qualify for the 2nd round by completing an 8 second preliminary round, which consisted of 4 seconds bucking followed by 4 seconds bucking and turning. I'm sure you've all seen people attempting to do this, and wondered why they're finding it so difficult, when it looks so easy? When you can't even get on the bronco without help in the first place, it definitely ain't easy!! Both Jane and I struggled to get on the damn thing (it's not cos we're short, honest!!) and had to be given a leg up by the guy running it. It's not that Jane usually has problems with her balance or anything, but her leg up provided us all with great amusement - she went clear off the other side!! And then when she did get on, like a lot of the competitors she lasted about one second before hitting the ground again (it was actually a big blow up ground, but anyway). I seemed to have found something I'm actually good at finally, and managed to qualify for the second round (after a re-try cos my helmet was falling over my eyes and I used my free hand to push it back, which is against the rules). Because of my re-try I got to go last in the final and had to beat the top score of 38 bucks to win. According to Jane, (and the video she made of the event!) Shelina got so into it that at 30 bucks she was on her feet cheering me on and roaring at the top of her lungs (while Jane struggled to hold the camera steady!)! Amazingly I made it to 40 bucks (as Jane and Shelina had jokingly requested beforehand!) before falling off face first. My prize was a free can of beer - and a whole lot of friction burns and bruising...

The next morning Jane and I went for my very first horseride which involved us riding around after a herd of goats, rounding them up and putting them into an enclosure. Jane's horse was pretty good but mine was the laziest thing on the planet!! It refused to do anything I wanted it to, the stubborn thing. After our goat muster, the whole bus group went back to the goat enclosure and practiced our lassoing - not my forte either! Jane did well, lassoing her goat pretty quickly but let's just say that the photos of my attempt are slightly posed... Afterwards we had to do a pretend goat branding in teams of three - this involved catching a goat, turning it onto it's side on the ground and then touching it's hip with a cold brand. Team Ireland (us and Shelina, our used-to-be-Canadian friend) even managed to be in the lead until the last competitors when Team Switzerland (Nicole and some non-Swiss people) won by miles! Team Asia were the funniest by far as Maiko, Chiaki and Skyla nearly ended up being chased by the goat instead of the other way around!!
After lunch we hit the road for Hervey Bay where we met up with Darren, Ken and Trevor for a drink and to recount just exactly how drunk Trevor and Darren had been on the last night in Airlie Beach!! Much fun and entertainment!

On Fraser Island the next day, we were doing a guided tour and we had a very interesting guide called Chris whose previous employment had been as a snake-catcher! How many people with that occupation are you likely to meet in a lifetime? He took us to Basin Lake then we had a picnic lunch at Central Station (the old logging station) where Chris found us a Redback spider and a stick insect to take lots of pictures of. There was also a monitor lizard nearby, for more photos. After lunch we went to Lake Mackenzie for a swim and sunbathe, followed by tea and chocolate muffins! Then off to our accommodation just in time for an absolute downpour!! We had dinner in the Dingo Bar that night and then followed that with pitchers of beer and cocktails.

Next day we drove along 75 mile beach to the wreck of the Mahino and to the Pinnacles, then on to the Champagne pools for a dip. Afterwards we had lunch near Indian Head, then climbed to the edge and watched turtles, sharks and huge schools of fish in the clear water. We even bumped into Trevor, Ken and Darren again on the headland. Off then to Eli Creek to make friends with an eel who loves chocolate biscuits, and then to Stonetool Sand Blow for a few photos before heading back to the ferry and going for a few farewell drinks in Hervey Bay with the girls from our bus as we were not continuing all the way to Brisbane with them the following day.

The next morning we stopped in Rainbow Beach to learn to throw a Boomerang, and we also learned how to play the Didgeridoo - now we're experts, honest! We left the bus in Noosa and spent 4 happy nights doing pretty much nothing in the very laid back surfing town. Shelina joined us the day after we arrived, so we had a lovely night drinking pitchers of the evil snakebite and talking absolute rubbish. Jane and I went to Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo on our last full day there, and it's a really great place. We got to rub a Koala, and feed Kangaroos, we watched some tortoises getting fed and saw all sorts of animals and reptiles including of course the famous Crocodile show in the Crocoseum. A really good day! As it was the day after Steve's memorial service, there were so many tributes around the perimeter of the zoo - it was really quite moving.

On our last morning in Noosa we finally booked all our onward travel from Sydney, so at least we then knew where we were off to next! On the bus we were delighted to meet up with a friend from the first part of the bus tour, Helen, who as usual referred to each of us as simply "Irish" - she does that for everyone, so for two days we didn't know what else to call the guy she only called "America"! That night we went to the DownUnder Bar in Brisbane to watch some rugby match that nobody really had any interest in except our bus driver, but it was a good excuse to meet up.

I'd woken up with a crick in my neck the previous morning so the first thing I did in Brisbane was find myself somewhere to get it massaged away before I went even madder than usual! Afterwards we spent the afternoon wandering around town doing some shopping. We went looking for a market that was supposed to be on, but there was no sign, so we had a lovely walk along the river bank instead. That night Jane and Shelina went out with the bus gang again, and I stayed in and finished updating my New Zealand travel journal - you hardly thought it was just the blog that I'm hopeless at keeping updated, did you?

There was a market and fair on in the South Bank the next day (as Shelina discovered on her early morning run - crazy woman!) so we took the train across and watched a couple of acoustic gigs, and wandered through the market before meeting Trevor and Ken who were, surprisingly enough, in a pub - but to be fair, it was their last day in Oz, poor guys! We all headed back to our hostel and went for dinner, drinks and pool-playing in the bar attached. Then went into town for a few more drinks. It was a pretty late night and we suffered the next day, only getting up to say goodbye to the lads before heading back to bed until the afternoon... Then we went into town and did some souvenir shopping and on our way home we spotted that "The Wind That Shakes The Barley" was on in the cinema, so we dragged Shelina and JaneE along to that, just to complete their Irish education, you understand! It's really, really good.

The next day we set off for Byron Bay, and did some Zorbing enroute - something we'd wanted to try in New Zealand but hadn't had time. Basically it's a big blow-up ball filled with water, three people are thrown in and then it's pushed down a hill! You get thrown around like in a washing machine - good fun! We passed through Surfer's Paradise on the way but due to our late start (some people were told the wrong time) we didn't have time to do anything except pick up more people there. In Byron Bay we had lunch with Shelina and Kieran (the cowboy from our bus), then headed home for a nap only to meet up with Shelina, John, Kunal, Jeremy (America) and Kieran again later in a cafe for a natter.

Shelina was off to Melbourne the next day so we met up for breakfast, and while waiting for her bus, bumped into Darren again! He was waiting to get picked up for a ski-dive. Shelina went on her way, with lots of promises to stay in touch and threats to meet up again on our travels, and we went off to do a dive at Julian Rocks. We got all geared up and we were in the boat on our way to the dive site when we had to turn back because of a lightning storm - it's too dangerous for the poor guy left on the boat! On attempt two we had a great time, seeing several really huge bull rays and 3 or 4 giant turtles! One was so big both Jane and I could have fit into his shell! It was a really good dive... The funny thing is that at this point we thought we only knew one person in Sydney (Jane's friend Dave) and there was a guy on the dive with us who knew him too! I knew Ireland was small, but Australia...?


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