Sunday, April 27, 2008

More Tree Planting...and a ticket to INDO!

Gotta keep this one short and sweet. Tick tock goes the Aussie library clock!

That's right...I'm goin' back for more! I've decided that in order to maximize my trip to Indonesia, I'll need just a bit more money...better to have too much than not enough. So, that means, you guessed it, more tree planting. Only for 2 1/2 weeks this time, so I think I can handle it. Oh, the idea of more tree-planting makes me queasy though! It'll all be worth it.

Oh yeah, and I got my ticket for Indonesia! We'll be leaving on the 21st of May, which should be the perfect time of year to be in Bali. The crowds don't really get there until about July, so timing should be spot-on. More on that later...these Australian libraries are crazy! They don't let you use email on their computers, and if you don't have a membership, you only get a half-hour! Funny how places can be so alike, yet so different!

Back to work on Thursday!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fishing, Camping and, well, not surfing...

On the road again, and loving it! This trip is starting to remind me a lot of the cross-country trip I took after college, only substitute the remarkable Nat'l Parks of America for coastal National Parks and Rainforests of Australia. The eastern coast of Australia is simply beautiful. It actually reminds me quite a bit of California, particularly San Diego and the Big Sur area. Starting from Foster (near Newcastle) and heading north, the coastline is absolutely breathtaking! The people are lovely here as well, everyone is so friendly and jovial. They have a way of always making you feel like you fit right in, even if you do have a very recognisable (aussie spelling) American accent! All in all, it seems to me that Eastern Australia is nearly a duplicate of Southern California, only with less people, heaps (that's a good one too) of roundabouts, less polution, great fishing, and an incredible amount of big clean waves!

My fishing is coming along pretty well, I've caught a few fish here and there (Bream, Drummer, and Mullet)...quite tasty ones if I do say so myself! I've learned how to catch beach worms, bait a hook, tie a couple of different rigs, and even clean and gut the fish afterwards! I must say, although I sound pretty rough and tough, I still have a hard time sticking the hook through the worm's head, pulling the hook out of the fish's mouth and cutting the head off the fish...yuck! There's just something wierd about another creature staring you in the face that I just can't seem to get over yet. Maybe with time and experience, I'll be a true cold-hearted fisherwoman! Oh, how I do love to eat fish.

The surfing, very unfortuantley has not been so suitable for me. Before I left San Diego, my shoulder was showing hints of soreness here and there. In the past 2 months, it's only gotten worse. It feels kind of like I threw my arm out, which makes it very difficult to surf. The waves here are amazing to watch, and I feel like I am constantly living in a surf video. There are so many skilled surfers here of all ages. Yesterday, I saw what must have been a 7 year old boy and a 70 year old man out surfing the same spot! It's so neat to see such a huge age gap closed with a beautiful sport like surfing. It really makes you appreciate the ocean I'll tell ya. I'm dying to get out there, so I'm just hoping that a bit of rest from tree planting will do my shoulder good...for now.

The beaches here are simply amazing. They are usually covered in beautiful white sand that squeaks underneath your feet because it's so fine, and have huge, amazing headlands seperating one part of the beach from another. The waves tend to break forming perfect right-handers for hundreds of feet, or meters I should say! The fishing from the rocks and the beach is particularly good along the north-eastern part of NSW, although it can be a bit sketchy from time to time. The water is unimaginably clear and a cool tourqoise-blue. Dolphins are abundant, and a new-to-me beach species called "Dingos". For those of you who don't know what that is, they are wild dogs, many of which make their homes at the beach and their meals out of camper's leftovers! You can drive right on the beach in most places here which makes it particularly fun for camping, fishing, and you could imagine!

Did you ever think of Australia as having amazing rainforest? I sure didn't, but boy, I was pleasantly mistaken! Australia is home to some of the most amazing rainforest left on earth! 2,000 year old Antarctic Beech Trees and numerous species of tropical frogs live in abundance in the dank, old growth forests of New South Wales and Southern Queensland. We visited Border Ranges National Park in Northern NSW. Upon setting foot in the rainforest, you are immedietly transported to jurassic times. The air is so fresh, and the trees so green, you can't help but feel that you just stepped into another realm. Rainforests are just so serene, I hope to visit more before I leave here.

Back on the idea of tree planting, I may just find my way back to it for a few weeks before going overseas again. I would like to have another thousand dollars or so in order to enable myself complete freedom from Indonesia. There is another contract that I can pick up on, and that would start up next week, so we'll see. This one isn't out in the "bush" so I'll have a bit more a life outside of tree planting. I think I can do it again...for a short time that is.

Oh, I've been meaning to write these down. They say loads of funny things here. Some of my favourites (OZ spelling again) are:
bonnett = car hood
heaps = lots
buggered = tired, not working
pissed (or on the piss) = drunk
granny-flat = mother-in-law apartment (that's one of my faves!)

...and so on. I'll try and remember to write some of the better ones down. Of course I can't think of any others at the moment!

Right now, I'm spending a few nights on the Gold Coast (Queensland) with some of Mick's friends and family. Tree planting starts back up next week, so I've gotta make up my mind as to whether 2 or 3 more weeks of labour is worth it. I'll just have to keep the idea of more white sand beaches and cheap asian food close in my minds eye...mmmmm, sushi!

Friday, April 11, 2008

900 Hectares and a...vacation!

Since you last heard from me, I have planted nearly 50,000 "Blue Gums" or as we Americans know them, Eucalyptus trees in the Australian bush. Needless to say, I am officially burnt out! Bending over 1500 times a day and planting a seedling in a hole amongst poisonus spiders, snakes and thorn bushes was fun, but I'm sure glad it's over! I'm getting old, and am starting to hear cricks and cracks in areas that probably spawn arthritis. It was really hard work, but I'm glad I sucked it up for as long as I did. I feel like it was something I needed to experience,. maual labor that is. I really needed to push my limits and challenge myself physically, and I did just that! I just kept thinking about those poor women in Laos carrying 40 kilos of rice on their backs for 8 to 10 hours a day. At the very least, it made me very very happy that I have a college degree and don't have to do work like that for the rest of my life...Oh, and I managed to save a few thousand bucks for the old travel fund too!

The reason I wasn't able to keep in touch often is because I was literally out in the middle of nowhere for 7 weeks living amongst the kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, and thousands of species of birds. Days were long, starting at sunrise and ending usually around 3 or 4. No cell service (or even a town for 2 1/2 hours) and the time here is about 16 hours different from Boston! I met lots of great people from all over the globe, saw some amazing things, and got pretty fit in the proccess, but I think I'll give manual labor a rest for a couple of months.

So what next you may ask? Now it's time to travel and see a bit more of the beautiful scenery that Australia has to offer. Mick (the guy that I got in the motorbike accident with in Thailand) and I are going to do a little exploring together. He's a surfer, and I'm a wanna-be so we'll do a bit of surf-camping and fishing in Northern Australia for a bit. He and I are also both interested in checking out Indonesia, so I think that's next on the agenda. I figure, while I'm on this side of the world, I might as well see all that I can, and Indonesia is certainly on my list! Since Indo is part of Asia, similar living costs exists...that's right, you can live like a king for about $1000 a month! Let's see, fresh fish, beautiful beaches and incredilby kind people...I'm in! I'll let you know when I buy my ticket.

Heading up the coast now towards Byron Bay which is meant to be beautiful and a pretty hoppin' nightlife area, I really need to get my groove on! I've been living in filthy clothes, work boots and gloves covered from head to toe in dirt for the past 2 months. I almost forgot that I have regular girl clothes! Now I just need to really learn how to surf!

Pictures to come soon! PS: They don't really have wirless internet in this part of OZ so uploading photos is a major P in the A!!