A Travellerspoint blog

Two Months in Closeburn

overcast 27 °C


Today was my first day alone on the road again. After two months and two days I finally left the wwoofing place me and Franzi arrived at in June. There were a number of reasons for this lengthened stay, one being that I enjoyed myself a lot and it was really nice to have a bit of a home again after all those months. Seeing the same people again everyday, getting to know a place a bit better and resting a bit after a hectic period.
Of course, always when you sit down you feel how tired you are! After two Taiwanese wwoofers joined us at the farm I got sick, tonsillitis. After a week of no sleep and increasing pain I went to the doctor who prescribed antibiotics, these unfortunately did nothing and I was back at the clinic five days later. Then it had become so serious I had to go to hospital to get a fluid and antibiotics drip and the doctor prescribed another kind of antibiotics.
These finally started to work after a few days! It took another two weeks to feel better, but as I apparently had both a bacterial infection and Pfeiffer I had to rest a lot and I'm still not completely well rested. Fortunately I was at a homely place and Franzi and Tinuviel did all they could to help me. I'm so grateful not to have stayed in a hostel being that sick, unable to talk! Anyway, a bit of a tough path of the trip... but otherwise the last month in Closeburn
was pleasant. Me and Franzi watched tons of movies, mainly Aussie, and other wwoofers from France and Taiwan joined us for a few days which was nice. In addition, we made another trip, this time to Byron Bay and did some more shopping in Brisbane. But now Franzi is going home (tomorrow!) I thought it time to also move on and so I
took the Greyhound to Hervey Bay yesterday. The weather is hot, but rainy, so I'm skipping Fraser Island thereby saving some money for the Whitsundays. I'm in a nice, jungly hostel and I've already met some friendly people today and yesterday. I've spend my day reading National Geographic Magazines at the beach, it’s a hard-knock life.
Tomorrow I'm taking the bus to the last surf outpost in Queensland, Agnes Water\Town of 1770!
By the way, I'll probably fly home between 20-25th of September!!

x Sanne

Posted by sanneastri 00:24 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Wwoof wwoof! Up the coast!

Coffs Habour, Bellingen, Yamba, Byron Bay, Surfers Paradise & Brisbane

sunny 25 °C


And again it’s been way too long! But I finally feel the tendency again and have the opportunity again to scribble something down about the last month, month and a half?
At the moment I’m sitting on a pillow in a cozy, arty living room in a half open house build on the slope of a hill in picturesque Closeburn, a collection of a few houses about 30 minutes from Brisbane. I’ve been wwoofing for a little more than a week now at this place and it’s become a bit like home. Approximately three weeks ago I met Franziska (or Franzi as we all call her) when I was in a surf hostel in Yamba. We decided we both wanted a change from regular travelling and so made up our mind to go wwoofing together. We contacted no less than 18 hosts in the Brisbane area as we heard it would be difficult to find a spot. Over the next few days we were contacted by about half of them and could choose between a few hosts. In the end we went with the first host that accepted us enthusiastically and without too much hassle and we’ve been very lucky. Randall, a forty-ish filmmaker and his arty friend Tinuviel, (yes as in from The Silmarillion), a dancer, welcomed us and after some getting to know each other chitchat we went to a local festival (The Winter Solstice Festival), tried some Indian chai, admired some local characters (especially one sixty-year-old hippie with shining -stars and planets- leggings!) and met some of their friends. It was a very nice start to our stay here!
The next day we started work around 8:30, digging holes for shed foundations. As you can imagine this was pretty exhausting and afterwards a little painful because I didn’t handle the maddock particularly well. Besides digging a lot of holes (in which Franzi was much better, quicker and less annoyed than me) we have planted many little trees, done a lot of mulching, cleaning, some building and painting jobs and baked some lovely fresh bread. We eat pretty healthy here as most things come from the garden and we try to make the lion’s share ourselves. Tinuviel and Randall are both good cooks and love to experiment with new ingredients and recipes. I’ve learned a lot of new vegetarian recipes already and tried many new things like halva, poppy seed cake, and roasted pumpkin with rosemary. We usually get up at 7.00 or 7.30 for some yoga and then eat breakfast, followed by work till 12.30, lunch, some more light work or relaxing and then dinner around 19.00. I had to get used to getting up early again and also the physical exhaustion was pretty major in the beginning after ‘lazy travelling’ without too much hiking for the last month. But now I’m getting used to it and I feel healthy and sleep very well. Besides working and eating well we have been to a veggie barbie, dinner party, garden party/performance night and yesterday we had a lovely, sunny day off and went hiking up Mt Warning. Great views up there and after the hike we (me, Franzi & Tinuviel, as we dropped Randall at the airport at 6.00, he’s just left for Japan for two weeks) went to the beach and ate at an Tibethan restaurant in West End. It’s quite relaxing to get some roots for a while and not move around my increasingly heavier backpack for a while. Silly as I am I do continue picking up things, I’ve just bought a top and skirt for 7$ at a garden sale!
I’m not sure where I want to go next, probably somewhere near the Bundaberg region for some work in fruit picking. Though, it’s maybe a bit off season.. I think I need to work for maybe a month or six weeks in order to afford what I want to do next. The plan is still to travel up to Cairns and after that I’d like to fly to Darwin and then make my way down through the Outback, to Uluru, finishing in Adelaide. But we’ll see how it goes! If I’ve learned anything here it is not to plan too much.
I’m aware this post is already too long, but while I’m at it I’ll add a little about what happened since Katoomba. Wow, that feels so long ago! After Katoomba I went back to Sydney, Cronulla Beach to be precise. I stayed in work hostel, got my RSA and started asking around in local restaurants for a job. I did find a few places that seemed promising but it was all a bit too much at the moment and I decided to leave Sydney. My last days in Sydney were nice, meeting up with Ali & Hayley I met in Melbourne and going to a great dress-up circus themed birthday party. But I was glad to leave, Sydney didn’t feel right at the moment and the anonimity and vastness seemed to add to my homesickness. Anyway, next stops were Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Yamba, Byron Bay, Nimbin, and Surfers Paradise. In Bellingen I met a German girl, Sabine, with whom I travelled for two weeks and after an extra weekend at Coffs Harbour I met up with Franzi in Byron Bay and moved on to Surfers. I did some beautiful hikes (Dorrigo National Park, Cape Byron), hitched (to the NP), saw dolphins and whales (Byron Bay), tried something ‘magic’ (from hippie-tourist-heaven Nimbin), did my first surf lesson (I could stand up quickly to my own amayement, the difficulty is more related to picking the right wave), discovered the television series The Inbetweeners while waiting for the rain to stop in Yamba, and was bored and lazy in awful Surfers (don’t go there!). Much more to say of course, but these are some highlights! Time to move a little closer to the fire again and join in with conversation, I’m sure I’ll post again at least once before I’m back. The vague plan for now is that I’ll be back somewhere in October!

x Sanne

Posted by sanneastri 04:42 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney harbour surf paradise bay hike surfers byron yamba wwoof coffs bellingen Comments (0)

First weeks in OZ

Melbourne, Tassie & Sydney

semi-overcast 15 °C

Hey there!

I'm sitting in a YHA hostel in Katoomba, Blue Mountains National Park, where I've been bushwalking for the last couple of days. You can travel here from Sydney in just two hours and the park certainly measures up to my expectations, the views from Echo Point are stunning! Tomorrow I will return to Sydney in search of a job or at least a hostel where I can do some cleaning in order to pay for my accomodation. It feels time to settle down somewhere for a while as I'm experiencing a bit of a luxury problem, I feel a bit travel sick. It can be pretty exhausting never seeing people for more than a few days and constantly adapting to a new environment.
I've slowed down my pace a bit since arriving in Australia though. I spend a week in Melbourne, just taking it easy for a bit… seeing the sights, doing some shopping, and thinking about whether I'd like to hang around for a bit to find a job. After a few days I met up with a guy from CS and together with another CS girl that just found a job in Melbourne
we had a nice time talking about politics, travelling, Melbourne and living in Australia. I also met up with two really sweet British girls from York and we went out for a drink together with our other roomies, three boys from near London. One of them was obsessed with learning some Dutch and we kept repeating the same sequence he wanted to learn (Hallo, hoe gaat het? Met mij gaat het goed! Met jou?) fun for a bit (with his pronunciation) especially after a few ciders.
But the weather in Melbourne wasn't that nice so I decided to move on. After Melbourne I went to Tasmania to stay with Kathryn and her family for a few days. I met Kathryn in Chungking Manions, Hong Kong, one of the worst, claustrophobic hostels I've ever been. It was really nice to stay in a house again for a few days and Kathryn and her parents did their best to make me feel at home and showed me some gorgeous sites around Hobart. Me and Kathryn went up to Mt. Wellington which has an amazing view over the city, vistited Port Arthur (an infamous convict settlement), went to a Tassie Devil Park and did some hiking at Mt. Field National Park where some of the tallest trees in the world grow. In addition, I visited Salamanca Market where they sold interesting articles such as edible fruit leather (quite tasty actually!) and Devils fudge (jummy!). After a few days I moved on to rainy Launceston in the north of Tasmania, where I walked around the Cataract Gorge near the city, visited the local museum and joined a nice German girl I met in the hostel for a tour of the local brewery Boag. The tour was a bit disappointing but afterwards we got to taste five different beers and let me tell you, thats quite stiff at 10.30 in the morning!
The next day I flew from Launceston to Sydney where I stayed with Phil and his folks for a week. I met Phil at the same time as Kathryn, sparkling Hong Kong! After Phil picked me up from the train station we had some dinner and moved on to a birthday party of one of his
friends in the city, a 45 minute trainride. The party was in a nice club on the waterfront in a very posh area and everyone was really dressed up for the occasion. Though I was wearing a nice dress, I still had no other shoes that black trainers and flip flops in my possession so I felt
a bit awkward with black trainers under my dress. I hope no one noticed! But the party was nice and I met a lot of cool people.
For the weekend me and Phil walked around Sydney -Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Bondi Beach and the Rocks Market- and when Phil went back to work on Monday I did some hiking around Manly, went to some museums, chilled in the Botanic Gardens and generally enjoyed the amazing weather Sydney has in winter! After a few days I joined one of Phil's friends David to a jazz concert and spend my last day in Sydney going out to dinner in China Town and meeting some of Phil's other friends at the Uni Bar of Macquarie University.
Because I still felt a bit clueless about what I wanted to do I deciced to go hiking for a few days up in the Blue Mountains and then head back to Sydney and see about a job or maybe doing some wooffing (working 4-6 hours a day on an organic farm for food+accomodation) in the area. I still don't really know what I want to do, now I have limitless possibilities, no time restrictions or onwards tickets it's somehow harder to make decisions. I reckon I'm just heading to Bondi or Cronulla and see what happens. I probably have to let go of my obsession with making lists and plans for a bit as I'm now in the country of 'no worries' and 'it’s all good.'

x Sanne

Posted by sanneastri 22:42 Archived in Australia Tagged mountains melbourne sydney tasmania blue hobart katoomba launceston bushwalking Comments (0)

The Southern Island: Tramping, Tramping and a Big Jump

Wellington, Nelson, Greymouth, Franz Josef, Queenstown & Dunedin

sunny 15 °C

Allo allo!

Checking in again after two weeks of spectacular New Zealand! Yesterday I flew back to Auckland from Dunedin and later today I'll be off to Melbourne, last day in NZ!
Since Taupo, after the amazing Tongariro Crossing (still the best thing I've done here I think), I've been to Wellington, Nelson, Greymouth, Franz Josef, Queenstown and Dunedin. In Wellington the weather was really bad and the hostel a bit boring. I just did a city walk and met up for a drink with a girl from CS (Maree) which was nice! Then I jumped in a car with three Germans heading for Abel Tasman and they dropped me off in Nelson!
There I spend four days in the coziest, most homelike hostel I've ever been: Palace Backpackers, a Victorian mansion on a little hill near the city centre. I met a lot of nice people there and we had a great night out barhopping.
In addition, I walked around in the Abel Tasman National Park for a day and when I was supposed to leave I met two German girls from Paihia (Julia and Sarah with whom I initially was going to do the crossing with) so I decided to stay another day.
Afterwards on the Greymouth, not worth a stop really, but I didn't want to take a really long bustrip. There I met Robb from London who made me enthusiastic about Queenstown, the Ben Lomond hike and the skydive he did there!
After one night in Greymouth off to rainy Franz Josef. I wanted to do a glacier walk but the weather was really bad so I just relaxed in the hostel for a day and just did a walk to the glacier terminal with some roommates. Two of them (Simon, Swedish and Louis, French) also went to gorgeous Queenstown later so we met up and decided to do the skydive together!
First day in Queenstown me and Louis hiked up to the Ben Lomond peak overlooking the Remarkables (yes, that's what they're really called!) for some amazing views and actually enjoyed an icecold Heineken on the top! haha
The day after Simon also joined us and we booked a skydive! The next morning we were pretty nervous, it all felt so surreal! I still don't really feel like I did it, allow myself to be dropped 12,000 feet from a plane! Crazy! It ought to be pretty special but it isn't in Queenstown... everyone seems to have done at least a bungee, canyon swing or a dive here! When we arrived at the sight we had to wait for another group to jump, aaah that doens't help! But all returned with big grins on their faces so that looked promising! When the plane went up I tried not to look out of the windows and just watched Sergei, my tandem, buckle me up.
Then suddenly we were at 12,000 feet and the door opened... its so high it doesn't feel real! And there Louis went right before me!
Sergei didn't give me any time to realise what was happening and pushed me outside of the plane. I did what I had been taught, the banana! If you skydive tandem you have to take on a banana shape before you drop... feet curled below the plane, back arched and face on your tandems shoulder haha! Then suddenly we were falling, its indescribable... so crazy and scary and until the parachute opened actually pretty nauseating! As soon as it opens you can 'relax' a little more and enjoy the view which was really spectacular!
Lake Wakatipu shone brilliantly in the sunlight and the Remarkbles hugged the lake in a crooked embrace. Sergei made sure I knew how to lift my legs during landing and pointed out some sheep and boats below us. It was his seventh or eight dive of the day already, when I asked him he didn't even know how many he'd done! After what feels like 20 seconds you're already on the ground, shaky but amazed.. your head hasn't quite understood what just happened. It was really nice to have some people around me to talk the experience over with, we felt exhausted but very proud! That night we did a bit of bar hopping which was cool but not as legendary as some claim. Maybe just because its low season? After the hardcore Ben Lomond hike and the dive I felt pretty drained, so while Louis went off to Mount Cook me and Simon spend a day leisurly strolling around Queenstown, eating muffins at the Starbucks and watching bad movies.
The next day I went on to Dunedin where I had one day to walk around, way too short for such a lovely town! I regret it a bit now, but you can't do everything! So yesterday I got up at 6.15am and flew back to Auckland. After checking into the hostel I met Lennart and his girlfriend Ruth for a drink at the Dutch Embassy where they were celebrating Queens Day. It was a really odd experience singing the national anthem 'Wilhelmus' in Auckland between elderly expats eating herring, bitterballen and drinking Heineken. Afterwards there was an
'orange party' we paid a visit to... kind of funny to hear 'Suzanne,' 'Een eigen huis' and 'Kom van dat dak af' again haha!
All in all, its been a lovely last two weeks in NZ with mostly really good weather and amazing sights. I like NZ a lot and really hope I can return some day with my own car. I know I should really get my driving license!! However, I'm also really looking forward to Australia... where I will be arriving today late in the afternoon. I booked a hostel in St.Kilda and plan on doing a few days of sightseeing and relaxing before deciding whether its 'my kind of town' and I'll want to start looking for a job there or start moving up weather-wise to Sydney/Brisbane. No worries!

x Sanne

Posted by sanneastri 16:50 Archived in New Zealand Tagged queenstown auckland hiking australia tasman dunedin franz nelson ben wellington lomond greymouth josef skydive abel barhopping Comments (0)

Lasts weeks in Thailand & New Zealand

Ko Pha Ngan, Krabi, Bangkok, Auckland, Whangarei, Paihia & Rotorua

overcast 20 °C

Kia Ora!

I know it’s been quite a while, almost a month since my last post… time is indeed flying! At the moment I'm in Taupo, the largest town near Tongariro National Park. Tomorrow I'm going to do the trans alpine crossing with two French girls I met earlier today. It’s going to be a long day as I have to get up at 5.15 and walk for approximately 8 hours. And as you well know, exercise is not my main hobby! But apparently this crossing is one of the must do's in Kiwiland so I've just stocked up on food and will try to get to bed early. I've never done so much hiking in my life as here in NZ... but it’s wonderful!
Since my arrival in NZ on the 31st of March I've spend a few days in Auckland, two in Whangarei, three in Paihia (Bay of Islands), two in Rotorua and now I'm in Taupo already. A quick summary; Auckland was a nice start! I spend the night in an easygoing hostel in the Parnell neighbourhood, the loveliest in Auckland! I climbed Mt Eden, visisted the Auckland Museum and went to Rangitoto, a volcanic island in the Hauraki Gulf near the town. Fortunately I met a nice French guy in the hostel, Jacques, who’d been in NZ for a while on a work and travel visa and we explored the city together.
After that I spend two days in Whangarei (pronounce Vangarai -- WH is V is Maori), a quiet and slightly boring place, but I had a nice bush/country walk to the local waterfalls and met up with a few other travellers to check the glowworms in the local forest which was very cool! At some point they were spread over de entrance of a small cave, seemed like something out of LOTR! The next day I moved on to Paihia where I met up with Patrick (whom
I know from back home). We travelled around the Bay of Island for a couple of days. Went on a dolphin cruise, saw the Treaty Ground where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, walked around Russell (former hellhole of the Pacific) and viewed another waterfall. The power went off for a couple of hours one evening so we spend the time playing sh*thead with candlelight with a group, which was quite cozy! I'm pretty dimwitted when it comes to cardgames, but surprise, surprise I was actually pretty good at this one, or lucky anyway! After three days Paihia I went on to meet Lennart (friend from AEGEE) in Rotorua to spend the weekend together. He just moved to Auckland and already knew some nice places in Rotorua and could show me around. Haha pretty typical.. I'm travelling the world but I've hardly spend a day not speaking Dutch so far!!
The first full day we went to a local Maori village (Whakarewarewa) and saw some traditional dancing and singing. It was nice but also felt a bit awkward somehow. In addition, a Maori local showed us around the thermal pools they use for cooking food and bathing and we saw the Pohutu geyser erupt! Pretty neat! After that we walked around the bush and found a fast flowing river with some cool waterfalls. When we heard the screaming and laughter from the people rafting on the river we decided to do that too! So this morning we went on the crazy river near Okere Falls and had a huge jump down from the waterfall! Very exting and scary... but great! After that our last stop together (while already on the way to Taupo) were some remote thermal pools and we had a relaxing swim together with two French hitchhikers (Rozann and Agathe) we had just picked up. The water was so warm, a very odd experience! And I’m happy to say not as smelly as most pools near Rotorua … I'm glad to finally breath clean air again! Well, that's as far as my Kiwi experience goes so far. I love it so far! I've never seen such bright greens and blues, it’s definitely a different colour spectrum here. Guess you have to see it to believe it!
Furthermore, I also want to share with you a little about the last two weeks in Thailand. It rained almost the whole time which was very disappointing of course. I'm happy we did have nice weather and endless slumbering on Ko Tao. As we could do so little because of the bad weather we felt even more confronted with our approaching split-up. We had become like an old married couple, worrying immediately if the other was away a little longer than expected haha! After Ko Tao we did a visa run to Burma (a very long boring day) and then turned to Ko Pha Ngan where we stayed in a remote, unfriendly resort (but relatively cheap!) and just went out for food and the Full Moon Party. Most of the time we were reading in bed, eating bad 7/11 food while the rain poured down. It was pretty much the same in Krabi where we spend our last few days together. But the Full Moon Party was nice, it’s absolutely an experience! Drunken en drugged people lying asleep on the beach or going for a swim… we felt underdressed as most party-people had on neon outfits and painted faces! We partied till half past six and then took a bumpy, nauseating ride back to the resort... a once in a lifetime experience! So many people, everybody talking to each other and going crazy, great fun! After Ko Pha Ngan we moved to Ao Nang, a beachside near Krabi which was a bit dull but nice. The weather was the same unfortunately so we couldn't rent a motorbike or spend a day at the beach anymore. On the 27th me and Marije split up and I took a horrifying endless bustrip back to Bangkok. The streets were floated and the driver would not drive on without a full bus making a 9 hour trip into a 14 hour one! I arrived in BK around 1:30 at night and had to look around for a hostel on Khaosan Rd for about an hour. The next two days I walked around town, bought a lonely planet for NZ, shopped, and had time to catch up with Matthias and Jeroen (Groningers me and M. met twice before in Hanoi & Siem Reap). We had some drinks and tried a shisha before saying goodbye on the 30th when I flew via Kuala Lumpur to lovely, sunny Auckland! I won't bore you with any more details, I know this post is way too long already!

x Sanne

Posted by sanneastri 22:49 Archived in New Zealand Tagged islands auckland rotorua of bangkok bay taupo ko paihia ngan ao nang whangarei pha Comments (0)

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