A beautiful sunny day to appreciate everything here (lots of puppies and calf's. Lambs are on the way).
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
After that incident James and me moved around a few bags full of grains (with a tractor, the bags way a ton or more). One had unfortunately ripped and spilled out a lot of grain, so I'll shovel that in at some point. The cattle needed feeding, so we headed out with two Ute's (a Toyota Hilux with a raise able load area on the back) and a tractor. And the scenery was just wow. Heading over a hill I was greeted with rolling hills, the only comparison I can make would be Wales or Scotland. Turned in to a field with cattle in to get to the hay shed at the other end. Just what I had been longing to do in Australia. Driving and off-road car across field with a brilliant scenery around. James would put a hay bail a time on the back of the ute and Catherin and me would drive them to the different paddocks to the cattle there. James owns a cattle farm, so a lot of cows and sheep. We finished that in good time and went to pick up some wood from gumtrees in one of the paddocks. James was ploughing it to sow some grain and the gumtrees had dropped a lot of big old branches. Grabbed them and went back to the farm to chop them up for firewood. Contrary to most beliefs, Australia can get cold at night and fortunately they have a stove to burn all the excess wood. So in the evening we had fish and vegetables in a nice warm kitchen. After dinner a calf which had been rejected by its mum had to be fed, so I got to hand-feed a baby calf.
A very good start to farm work here in Victoria, Australia. Looking to be fun.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Even if it was dark, still a good view of the Twelve Apostles (no pictures thought) with no tourists around. There are a loot of warnings against sleepy driving here, and being close to it I can understand them completely.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Due to bad weather, Sydney and the surrounding area had been caught in a once in a decade storm. It meant nearly none stop rain for three days, with high rivers and flash flooding of a few areas to the north of Sydney. Transportation between Sydney and the northern sections was shut down, I heard that three people had died,...
As I wasn't to keen on that sort of thing I went of to Canberra after on the third day of rain (Catherins idea actually). Got a bus ride from Sydney Central Station to Canberra and left in the early morning. Sydney had turned in to a lake, driving through town with the bus showed sections of the road where half the road had been flooded. As we got out of town it got a bit better, but still some heavy raining. The bus was full, so we where squashed together for three hours after visiting the international airport and taking on some more passengers. I read a book for most of the journey and at about midday we arrived in Canberra.
I was a bit lost when I got out and wandered of in no proper direction to the beginning, just looking at the town. The weather was loads better than in Sydney, the sun was out. It was very windy and cool, with clouds skimming across the sky, threatening to unload some rain but luckily that didn't happen until later in the day. I visited the National Museum of Australia first and got a tourist pamphlet from them to navigate around the town later. I spent rather a lot of time in the museum as it portraits a large part of Australian history, from before the Aborigines, when they lived undisturbed, the arrival of the settlers and in the end the modern age of Australia. After spending a good deal of time (and some lunch) in the museum I walked along the Burley Griffin lake towards the war memorial. On the way I got a good look at Canberra and was actually surprised how un-capital like it is. It only has a population of about 350.000 people and is designed for far more than that. A loot of the roads are empty, there are not tons of people walking around everywhere and there is lots of greenery and open space. Visiting the war memorial took up nearly all of the afternoon. First of all they have commemorated nearly (if not all) the past and active military branches along an avenue, leading up to the war memorial of all wars that Australia took place in at the top. As ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) day is comping up soon to remember the first world war one hundred years ago they where preparing a load of things. I spent a lot of time viewing old battleground they had replicated inside, until I was kicked out at 5pm.
I took a short hike up Canberra's highest mountain/hill just behind the memorial, took about 15 minutes, and was greeted with a sunset over Australias capital. The city is built up very symmetrical, as it was specifically designed from nearly nothing to be Australias capital (Melbourn & Sydney couldn't agree). There where a bunch of school classes everywhere, including at the top of the mountain, so there was no peace and quiet, not that it mattered. The wind was as strong as ever and it got to cold at the top after some time so I continued back down to the city. And that's when I saw my first kangaroo. Not really kangaroo, more as in kangarooS. 20 to 30 of Australias most known animal in the forest of Mount Ainslie. I tried getting a few pictures but due to the bad lighting they aren't the show of pictures. First kangaroos, wild and still alive (not squashed at the road side). I was passed by a good few people which must have been wondering why I was photographing and watching kangaroos so much. After it got to dark I went back down in to the city and caught a bus to Ngunnawal (← try it, I dare you) where I was staying with my first ever couch surfing host. Due to my mispronunciation of the district and giving false information to the bus driver, I got of to find out exactly where I want to go and caught the next one. This time I did get the right one and walked a bit until I found my host Mo and his family. After a bit of dinner we had a talk about a lot of different things and watched some cricket until I went to bed at about midnight.
The next day after having some breakfast and saying my goodbye and thanks to Mo, his wife and two children I caught a bus to the other lakeside of Canberra. The day before I had stayed to the north/east of Lake Burley Griffin, today I spent my time in the south/west. That side of Canberra is dedicated to the political and scientific culture. The house of Parliament is in the centre surrounded by a load of embassy's and government buildings. I had a look at Parliament from inside and outside and went to the Questacon after that. The Questacon is a building dedicated to science, unfortunately I found out that it is more made for children to learn new things. I did have a look around and learnt some new thing (and had a play with a few) but in the end I probably could have saved myself the cost of the entry ticket. After that it was nearly time to go back to Sydney again and I took a long walk along the main road in Canberra back to Murrays bus stop, where I caught a bus to Sydney. The journey back was just as long as there, but it felt longer due to a child screaming his head of most of the journey. Sydney, fortunately, had decided to stop chucking down rain whilst I had gone and I caught a train back to Faulconbridge and to Catherins.
Interesting city, Canberra. Not what I would expect from a capitol, but a very organised city. Still a nice place and it reminds me a bit of Allgäu as it is similar situated in front of the Dividing Range.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
The weather has not been the best in Australia at the moment, it is mostly cloudy and quiet a bit of rain in the section of the Blue Mountains where I am. Also a good sign, means there are no bush fires dangers in the area.
Emma, Kieran (the two others currently living by Catherin), a friend of theirs and me did go to the Ironfest in Lithgow, on the other side of the Blue Mountains. It is a sort of medieval re-enactment festival, minus the big stone castles they have in Europe, as none of them where built here. Over the past few years they have also included Napoleonic era guns and firearms and this year they had a World War 2 and Steam punk section, too. Never seen a re-enactment of a small World War 2 skirmish before, but my ears where ringing after that. Had a long look around the whole festival after that, watching some forging, tried some mead and everything else they have on those sort of festivals. We where lucky the whole day and didn't get rained on at all. We left in the afternoon at some point after Emma and Kieran had bought a loud of drinks and fresh fungus.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
So quiet a bit has happened in the past few days, once again. First of I went to Wentworth Falls, a waterfall with a drop down of about a hundred metres (that is at least what the warning sign said). Took a train from Springwood to Wentworth Falls station and took a walk along the Charles Darwin trail, a route Charles Darwin himself apparently walked when he visited Australia. I noticed quiet a few other walkers, some of them Chinese or Japanese, so I was already prepared for the place to be swarming with tourists. Add to that that it is school holidays and we have the perfect scenario for overcrowded tourist sites. I met some younger people going my way with some loudspeakers with them, so some music was in the bush. Also saw some black cockatoos after a got away from the four young guys. Pretty impressive animals compared to the white cockatoos, they make a parroty noise which gets annoying after some time. Lots of small skinkes around, always running for cover once they notice the presence of something larger. They where mostly sunbathing on the warm wooden walkways of the trail. I had a rest next the stream which supplied the Wentworth Falls and relaxed a bit. Further on there was a small waterfall, which was also rather peaceful. Then came the main and spectacular waterfall, overrun by tourists as predicted. Might be because they built a parking space not 15min away, but who am I to judge, coming from Nesselwang, a town that thrives on tourism. Enjoyed the view out in to the Blue Mountain canyon, don't know how this one is called, and got to a higher location after some time to get some good pictures of the waterfall. Also less people up there, most of them went down to the bottom of the falls, but I decided against that. Better view from the top. I made my way back after some time and met an old woman from the Philippines, who was here to visit her Grandchildren. I had overtaken said Grandchildren shortly before, on my way back. Me being a sensible human stuck to the pathway, they decided that it would be better to walk through the stream back to town. We waited at a bench for them and shortly after where caught up by four drenched young adults. Pretty lively lot, always laughing and doing something strange. One went swimming in full clothing in a natural pool and still had to sit on the train with them on the way back. Walking back I had a bit of a chat with them and took the journey back to Springwood together, as they where heading for Blacktown. We also met two Americans from Kansas who had been hiking in the Grose Valley for two days, with camping gear and everything for the night. Seems like a lot of the world comes to Australia. Back at Iains I got a surprise phone call from Cathi, asking if I wanted to stay over. As Leanne wasn't felling to well I decided to leave some peace and quiet in the house agreed.
So next morning I was picked up by Cathi (a bit late) and dropped of all my stuff at hers, which I had previously only taken 30 minutes to pack. After that I helped move some dirt around the garden, as she is doing some work here at the moment. She showed me around the garden properly and it is rather a large ground. Some chicken, some fruit trees and some vegetables. In the evening I watched a TV series about things to see in Australia. A big storm hit the east coast that evening and I was out in my DSLR trying to get some pictures of a thunderbolt on the camera.
Next day was spent having an interesting driving session with Angus in the morning whilst dropping him of at the station. After that I bought a proper hat to work in. A Kangaroo lather hat, so it is also waterproof which is a plus. Get a pictures sometime the next days. After that it was back to garden work, this time with the help of a dingo. A dingo in the sense of a small digger type machine to move a lot of earth around. I managed a fair amount in the afternoon and we let the chicken in to do the de-weeding and de-worming. After that a drive around the countryside looking for roo's. I was driving and was not used to driving on the left so some unfortunate events occurred, but nothing car-damaging or heart-attack related. Unfortunately didn't spot any roo's, but I did notice something spidery-shaped move across the road so we stopped and, what the heck, we have ourselves a funnel web spider, one of the most dangerous spiders in the world. Teased it a bit with a stick, but it didn't want to show its fangs and once it had scuttled back in to bush we carried on back to Cathis for some dinner.
Monday, April 13, 2015
So nearly one week without a post. Might happen when I start working, but for now it was only short endeavours that I did most of the time. A few days ago I spent an afternoon walking around Sydney, similar to what I did in Dubai to get a felling for the town. Walked from the station through Sydneys China district, along the piers and underneath the harbour bridge. I watched three married couples getting their pictures taken in front of the Opera House. Walked through the Royal Botanic Garden with all the different types of trees and quite some birds, before getting lost in the city. I asked a local for the quickest way to Central Station and arrived there shortly after before taking the train back to Springwood.
The difficult thing to realise is that Iain doesn't directly live in Sydney. It takes close to one and a half hours to get there by train, for Australian conditions that is really close.
Also been slowly starting to plan a flight up to Cairns, to maybe do some traditional backpacker job, fruit picking. That still being in the planing process, thought (tax file number still hasn't arrived *grumbel*). Went out photographing the other night and caught some possums on camera, although very grainy (the pictures). The possums are all over the trees here. I stood on the terrace at one point and just saw three of them in a tree.
Alexander visited two days ago and said he was going wake boarding some time this week. I asked if I could tag along and it ended up with us going today. We where joined by Jeremy, a guy from Canada, who is currently doing his year of studying in Australia. Weird, three guys in their twentys, just the three of us spanning once around the globe. We arrived and got all the legal stuff sorted (they mentioned that you can die on their facility). As Alexander used to work here it made things a lot more streamline. I was a bit nervous, as I had never wake boarded before and was still worried a bit about my shoulder. I did do some self inducted test the day before to see if it would actually be painful to go into the wake boarding position. Wasn't a problem and it wasn't a problem doing it in earnest either. I managed until to the third corner, were they had a more than 90° angle. I went flying from the sudden slack and the taunt of the rope. Next round wasn't successful either, I ended up shreding my swimming trunks somehow and bought another pair in the shop next to the area. Apparently I got a good pair relatively cheap, too (40$). The third time was different. I fell out at the second corner, right on the other side of the course. Walked back all the way and finally on the fourth round I managed it round one and a half times. Jeremy was going in circles by the time, having nearly no problem at all. He even started trying some tricks and jumps, but failed every time if I recall correctly. Alexander was taking jumps nearly every time and doing spins in the water and all. He did work here once, so he had enough time to try it himself.
We ended our session with some jumps from the starting point directly in to the water. No sitting down in the water, a direct start from land. Alexander and me managed, because the operator told us when to jump. Jeremy wasn't so lucky and was just pulled in to the water when the operator hooked him in.
We left for something to eat after that and had some chicken with chips in a place I don't know the name of any more before we just got to the station in time for me to catch the train back to Springwood.
Next thing I can do on my list of stuff, wake boarding.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Diving was the plan for today, so we where up early. Whilst Iain got things prepeared in the house; I sorted through a load of stuff he had brought along from somewhere (weights, wetsuits,...). We set of shortly after that and picked up Cameron at Kathys house before heading in to Sydney. That was the first real time I realised how far away the Blue Mountains are from Sydney. We took a long while to get to Sydney and then carried on across various bridges to get to Manly. Once in the dive school that Alexander had learned at, we got all the gear hired and ready and then waited for Alexander and his friend to appear. He came along after some time, with a load of other friends, so we hogged the diving shop until Iain had got something from another shop.
We left after he came back and set of for Shelly Beach near Manly Beach. We passed through the “wealthy” district and after looking for a parking place at Shelly Beach (and failing the first time) Iain drove us down closer to the beach where we unloaded all our gear and he went back with the car until he found a spot later. Once we had all geared up we left for the water and got our flippers and goggles on. Dived down after that and lost Alexander and his friend instantly. Only Iain, Brendan and me under water. We didn't dive to deep on the whole dive, maximum was about eight metres. We did spend a while underwater, a bit over and hour, and saw a few fish. Not comparable to the Red Sea corals in Egypt, as it was mainly rocks and sand at Shelly Beach. We did spot a stonefish, Cameron saw three, one of which Iain nearly touched (most poisonous fish in the world). We saw a Wobbegong (ground dwelling shark) lodged in a gap between the rocks and he wouldn't come out, so we only saw the tail. A multitude of small fish and to the end a small shark cruising out in the open (typical shark looking shark). Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me, as I had forgotten the battery at Iains home. Alexander and his friend had gone in a lot later than us, as Alexanders friend had had to little lead with him and couldn't get down. They spotted a huge sting ray, we only saw small ones. When we came out the beach was empty, funnily enough. When we had gone in it had been jam packed with people. A glance to the heavens told the story (dark clouds). Once we had all dried up we went to Manly proper and had something to eat and and ice cream. Iain, Cameron and me said bye to Alexander and friends and Iain and me dropped Cameron of at his place before we drove all the way back to Iains.
Big thing of the day, saw a shark.
Tuesday was spent walking, and walking, and walking. I got up after everybody else and by the time I had eaten and got a small job done it was close to midday. I had viewed the area with OpenStreet Map a few times and there was a ridge trail I was rather interested in doing. So I packed all the relevant gear, lots of water and set of towards Wiggins Track, a small but step downhill track towards Glenbrook Creek that was sometimes difficult to distinguish between path and river. I met three people going down there (more than half of what I met that day) and arrived at the river after some climbing over fallen trees. Crossed the river and carried on along the other side until I hit a tenting place alongside the creek After that I followed the river and met the other two people (that was it for the day), trying to keep my feet dry in muddy conditions. Unfortunately the weather was not favouring me at that point and a light drizzle had started. I had mobile phone connection for a few metres, so I wrote and SMS to Iain and Leanne in case something would happen. Carried on alongside the river with some really nice camping ground, the only downside where all the spider cobwebs. Australia, land number one for spiders. I ended up taking a stick and waving it around the air in front of me. One to get rid of the spider webs and as a secondary use, to warn snakes or more likely acts as bait should I get to close to one. I reached a point where they said “only experienced hikers” and as I had everything with me I classified myself as “experienced”. I had some problems finding the trail after crossing the river again but thanks to the GPS I found it again. Unfortunately it was perfect conditions for snakes and lizards, so I was very careful where I put my steps. I met a lizard further up and he photo posed nicely for me. Nice landscape getting to the top of the ridges, only eucalyptus trees growing, but they grow everywhere (sometimes even just on a few centimetres of earth). I spotted some large spider (orb weaver) freeing it's web from leaves. The web had a golden sheen to it, which was weird to look at. I kept my distance from that one. At the top I had a beautiful view of the Glenbrook Creek valley with Sydney in the background and as the sun had come out again enjoyed a meal at the top overlooking the valley with the Sydney skyline in the distance.
Carried on towards St. Helena Ridge Trail, with a short detour to the Lost World Lookout, and dodged above mentioned spiders twice again. I missed the web at one point and walked into one of the supporting none-sticky lines and they are strong. Found out later in the internet that those spiders do occasionally catch and eat small birds, plus their bite is not something a human would want (their not lethal, just make you sick). Carrying along the trail I had stopped to check the time on my mobile phone when suddenly a branch about six metres away moved. Turned out it wasn't a branch, more along the line of “one metre long, venomous snake”. I froze and let it get away, as I had frightened it and it was making a dash for it. I am not about to get in the way of something that could potentially kill me. Comparing the snake later found out it was probably a blue-bellied black snake, a cousin to the more widely known red-bellied black snake. Still as venomous, but mostly shy. After I had de-frozen I carried on, a lot more aware of all the branches lying around and after a few hours of walking reached Woodford. The weather had been very kind to me, no rain but a lot of strong winds.
I got to the station just in time to catch a train to Springwood and then had a delicious evening meal made by Leanne for Iains birthday.
A track of where I walked at GPSies and beware of Australia snakes.
Sunday, April 5, 2015
Out with the two oldest Hosking boys, Cameron & Brendan, today. We had agreed yesterday that we would meet up at Brendans to take another bush walk, this time somewhere down in to the actual valley of the Blue Mountains National Park.
I was up at about 8 o'clock in the morning. Cameron, my navigator to Brendans, woke up I think about 11 o'clock. So I spent the morning resting, moving my shoulder and watching some stuff. Iain and Leanne are currently out of house, as they are attending a friends party which stretched over the weekend.
Shortly after midday I met Cameron in the train heading towards Blackheath and talked with him about various subjects, ranging from forest fires to venomous animals (seems to be my favourite topic here). We met up with Brendan at Blackheath station and got some provision for the bush walk at a petrol station near by. After that back to see Maddy and Nicholas, which we left at home shortly later to proceed to the Grand Canyon walk (no, I didn't fly over the Pacific ocean with them, yes there is a trail here called like that). We reached the beginning of it in relatively short time, Brendan more ore less lives right next to the National Park. We proceeded down in to the eucalyptus treeline of the Blue Mountains. After the first corner we met some people asking us how much further it was until the end, so that question was easily answered. Further down the walk turned more in to a type of rain forest hike along a trail. There where dozens of other walkers on the track, but most of them where going the other way. I don't know if we where going right or the others, but we had the advantage of going down stream, which was nice.
It really is a canyon walk down there. You are surrounded by cliffs left and right (about ten to 20 metres from one side to the other), with a rapid stream somewhere next to you and there is water and sometimes waterfalls coming of the side of the canyon. The fern everywhere just gave everything a more jungle like felling. Had to cross the stream a few times, spotted some grasshopper like creatures in a cave and in the very same cave both the others said they saw some glow worms (or some kind of insect). Apparently a rare sort of insect, that is not seen that often.
We had a short brake under a protruding cliff, ate some jerky and had some water before we carried on. Me being the tourist was taking all the pictures when I could. We met some French people coming the other way with full camping gear who had camped in Grose Valley, a point we would reach if we had carried on along Greaves Creek. We followed the Creek for some time, seeing how far down the river was when we walked along the cliffs, doing some small cave explorations and sometimes some rock climbing. We turned away from the river eventually and talked about how dangerous ninja spiders are whilst we carried on to the top. Nearly to the top we walked out on to an outcropping of the cliff face and had a view directly down to the trees and canyon bellow us. From that point we watched the sun set across the canyon. Just how I like it, out on a place not everybody can get to easily (you are not allowed to be afraid of heights where we where) with the sun setting over spectacular view.
After that a short walk to the top in the diminishing light, a short stop at Evans Lookout with all the other tourists and then back to Brendans and Maddys to have some fun with Nicholas until our time came to catch the train back.
A super day, spent more in an area I would have thought would be in South America, with once again spectacular views.