More of my photos from Australia


Australia Archives

April 4, 2006

taking my time

it's now day 2 of our visit to sydney, before flying to adelaide tomorrow to pick up our land cruiser and head into the outback for some serious camping/trekking.

i've spent my time here poking around town, seeing sights, relaxing, not really doing much of note. if i wanted to justify it, i'd call it "acclimating", but really it's just having fun and taking my time. i've taken lots of photos around town, and started doing my first close-up photos of people as i travel. the first one is the photo here of two guys reading the newspaper in the park on monday afternoon. hope you like it.

the next time i post to this site should be from the australian outback. see ya!

April 6, 2006

outback bound

after trying on a variety of silly hats here in adelaide (photos coming soon), we settled on a couple of akubra hats to keep the sun out of our eyes while hiking in the outback. we picked up our 4wd toyota land cruiser yesterday complete with power fridge and rooftent (see the picture if you aren't familiar with the rooftent concept. it's not something you often see in the United States) from our excellent rental folks, and are now fully loaded with supplies and ready to head up north into the flinders ranges, entering the australian outback for the first time. our 1-way drive from adelaide to darwin will take us over 2,700 kilometers right through the middle of australia. (that's 1,670 miles for all the good folks not using the metric system)

our trusty land cruiser

our plan is to spend a leisurely three weeks heading north across australia on the stuart highway, with extensive detours at australia's national parks along the way. then we return the car in darwin, where i hop on a flight 1-way flight up to brunei to begin the southeast asia portion of the trip.

thanks to the wonderful weird circumstances of this trip, i'll be picking up my dive mask (fitted with prescription lenses) at the post office in coober pedy, which is about as far from any diving as you can get. i'll explain the circumstances of this one another time, and leave figuring out why i'm doing this as an exercise to the reader.

April 7, 2006

camping in the flinders

as part of our tour through the outback, we took our trusty land cruiser up into the flinders ranges to do some camping. (and took photos of quorn along the way) we arrived at wilpena pound in the late afternoon to check out the info from the visitor's center and drove out to check out a couple of campsites, before we settled on our camp at the "koolaman" campsite, where we happily found a spot in the 4wd section of the camp.

we setup camp easily thanks to the rooftent (which has been serving us well... i don't know why we haven't seen this handy invention before in the states), and Jean cooked up her usual camp delicacies for dinner (that night's dinner: lamb sausage with curry powder). my ipod provided some background downtempo music for us from the land cruiser's stereo, and we watched the night stars and made up constellations. while we slept at night, our camp was tromped through by what could only have been many kangaroos and/or emus.

we also did some great hiking here, where also witnessed the beginning of the "cloud of flies" feature that seems to increase in intensity the further north we travel (so far, at least). in addition, there were a decent number of large spiders in the trees every few feet, but they seemed content to stay in their webs and feast upon the flies that were pursuing us on the trail. but no kiler snakes, which was a good thing.

we regretted leaving the flinders after only one night there... i've got to return there again sometime in the future. it reminds me of arches and canyonlands national parks in utah, but without the massive crowds. a very well-maintained, well-preserved, and attractive park, with excellent facilities. if you're thinking about camping in australia, consider visiting the flinders ranges.

April 8, 2006

shortwave radio days

when i was buying some travel gear from flight 001 in san francisco before leaving on this trip, i found a half-broken sony ICF-SW12 in their clearance rack for 80% off. after the helpful girl working at the store swapped it with one that actually worked, i threw in in my backpack as a travel alarm clock, and i figured that if i used the radio at all, that would be a nice bonus.

lesson learned: any product where the floor unit is already partially broken means that the same breakage will probably happen to you too. when i pulled out the radio at our campsite in the flinders ranges to try it out, the clock/alarm part of the gadget were already broken. but a quick test revealed that the shortwave radio part of it was still functioning, so i started randomly scanning the shortwave stations that we could pick up.

there is nothing like standing in an extremely isolated place and hearing fragments of indian pop music, british-accented newscasts, and voices in every language coming out between bursts of static. we finally settled on one of the indian pop stations as a new day dawned over our campsite, and reflected on the "real world" which seemed so far away that morning.

from camel sausage to wattleseed pavlova: my dinner with jean

just finished dinner at the prarie hotel in scenic parachilna where i ordered the "feral mixed grill" -- a mix of camel sausage, emu patty, and kangaroo filet, served over mashed potatoes with a red wine sauce. when i told our hostess that i liked the camel and emu best, she looked at me like i was a little crazy and mentioned "most people like the kangaroo best." jean backed her up, especially since she had the wallaby shanks for her entree. (traitor!) we finished off our meal with a wattleseed pavlova, which was tasty although the homemade pavlova that our hosts in new zealand made for us was (of course!) far superior.

we're staying in one of the "heritage rooms" at this classic outback hotel/pub/restaurant, which means an oldschool aussie outback room, complete with 20-foot celings and cool detailing. if you happen to pass through parachilna on your own travels, and you have not eaten the above animals yet, i recommend a night there combined with a hearty serving of Feral Mixed Grill.

April 11, 2006

i live in "the hatch"

lately i've come to feel like i'm living in an episode of Lost. as you can see from the attached photo, i live underground in a room cut out of the rock. i slavishly operate a computer here at least once a day and put coins into it every 15 minutes to avoid having something bad happen, namely being cut off from updating my blog and flickr. for entertainment, we go out and play unconventional golf (on the dusty ex-opal fields on the outskirts of town at the coober pedy golf club).

in other words, i'm in the "only underground backpackers in coober pedy", Radeka's Underground Backpackers. jean and i are here for a few nights before heading up to uluru (aka. ayers rock) and alice springs.

coober pedy (opal capital of the world!) is an odd place -- we've found our way to having fun, but it's easy to see how people could get sucked into feeling like they'd arrived in a tourist trap as well. i'm recovering from a cold (thanks to jean for the chicken soup), and so it's a quiet day overall. watched lots of australian tv, and besides catching an episode of the simpsons, saw some game shows and relaxed. next up, more of the outback.

April 13, 2006

uluru sunset

we got up early from a free campsite near uluru (aka. ayers rock) and drove over to have our look at the world's second-largest rock monolith. it turns out that, contrary to what i'd read in my guidebook, that Mount Augustus in Western Australia is the world's largest rock monolith.

largest or second-largest, uluru is impressive. after a walk through the cultural center, and a final decision to not climb uluru as requested by the Anagu. this means that we had a healthy 2+ hour hike around the entire 9.4km perimeter of uluru (although access was restricted to certain areas that are considered sacred to the anagu). despite the hordes of flies descending on our faces during our hike, we had a good time and got several detailed photos of different sections of the rock. note that almost every other tourist visiting the site were climbing right up uluru, despite the many requests from the anagu not to climb it.

after our hike we headed out to find a local campsite, and returned in the evening to view uluru at sunset. this is a great tradition, and the parking lot we were in quickly filled with other people out to get a good look at uluru. the rooftent came in handy as we climbed up to the top platform of our vehicle where the tent unfolds, and sat on top drinking ice-cold bottles (fresh from the land cruiser's powered fridge) of coopers pale ale, reclined on our backpacks, and enoyed the sunset while snapping away with our digital cameras.

if you'd like to see more, here are all the photos i took of uluru that day.

April 14, 2006

australia's love affair with the el camino

it first happened not longer after we arrived in adelaide -- i saw an el camino in the street. while not an usual occurence at home, you do see one every now and then. however, 15 minutes later i spotted another one. then a third.

having now seen many el caminos during our drive from adelaide to darwin, and after a little internet sleuthing, it's clear that australia has a love affair with the el camino. besides the original chevrolet el camino and the ford ranchero (the art car from the photo in this blog entry is actually a ford ranchero), australia has a rich history with the el camino, starting with the first commerical introduction of the car-pickup hybrid in the 1950s. they still have their own models of el camino currently in production, such as the Holden Ute, and even a muscle-car el camino, the F6 Tornado.

and why not? they're functional, and probably quite handy in the outback. and as the owner of a odd-looking utilitarian vehicle myself, i'm all for that sort of thing.

the el camino's legacy in the US is not quite as strong, having ended all production of el caminos in 1987. recent introductions of similar vehicles such as the Subaru Baja have failed to gain much traction in the market (aside from that guy whose yellow Baja i always see parked at the 16th & guerrero gas station). however, the legacy of el caminos in pop culture lives on.

during my remaining two weeks in australia i'll continue to document el camino sightings and tag them as elcamino in my photos on flickr. enjoy the parade of australian el caminos!

April 15, 2006

addicted to tabloids

the first encounter started innocently enough -- an old newspaper we picked up at the cafe to read while we waited for our flat white and long black coffees. the easy-to-read format of the tabloid size drew us in, and the delightfully opiniated headlines and bad puns (such as "MEATWORKERS TASTE VICTORY"), kept us there.

unlike US-based tabloids, these are not focused on far-fetched stories about the Bat Boy or front-page celebrity gossip (well, not purely focused, at least). instead, they're a highly editorialized view of the day's news with.

while i wouldn't subscribe to one as my only source of daily news, they make for very entertaining reading at lunch or in the car during our long stretches of driving, where we read each other stories about a baby Meerkat kidnapped from the zoo, and giant tuna.

so Advertiser, Courier Mail, Daily Telegraph, and Herald Sun, thanks for all the tabloid fun. i'll miss you when i head up to southeast asia at the end of this month. until then, i'll be enjoying every page of infotainment.

April 16, 2006

a town called alice, a beer called XXXX

we're in alice springs for a few days. the days are intermittently sunny and beautiful, or overcast with dollops of warm rain coming down in irregular intervals. now that we've entered the northern territory, the beer of choice is Castelmaine XXXX (instead of Coopers in South Australia). Jean and I both became Coopers Pale Ale fans, and we miss seeing it in the pubs up here.

alice is the first "big city" we've been in since we left adelaide -- being able to restock at large supermarkets, find camping supply stores, and get fast internet access has been excellent. after this we'll be back to camping and small towns for the next week or so until we reach Darwin, so we'll be putting our new gear to good use. in addition, being able to find breakfast menu items like pancakes and french toast again (instead of the famous "Toast And ..." breakfasts that have followed us through the otuback) is a major plus.

after spending some time decompressing from our last run of camping, and taking care of necessary things like burning our photos onto DVD, downloading the latest episodes of Lost onto Jean's Video iPod via the iTunes Store, getting additional camping supplies (it never hurts to actually have mantels for your propane lamp), and so forth.

after another day or two here of seeing the sights, we'll proceed either south or north to start doing some more camping, and begin slowly making our way north to Darwin.

our day at the races

yesterday, jean and i went to the "young guns" day at the Pioneer Park racetrack here in Alice Springs.

it was amazing how many people were dressed up for the occasion -- later, a friend of mine told me that races in the outback are a long-standing tradition to bring people together who live in remote areas for some fun and dancing (and of course, a few drinks). it felt like an afternoon at santa anita crossed with the prom.

one thing that was a big change from other racetracks i'd been to was how close you could get to the horses. before each race, they walked all the horses just a few feet away from us, and in the parking lot we found a hole in the hedge that led directly onto the racetrack itself. while we resisted the urge to run in front of the horses, jean found an excellent vantage point right over the track to take some more photos at.

and our results? while i came out with an early win after our first race, i ended up losing on the next two races. jean, with her magical horse-picking abilities, won multiple times over and ended up taking us out to dinner with her winnings.

April 17, 2006

"american game"

found at the carnival in alice springs:

jean also got a great video of the same carnival game.

April 20, 2006

back from the west mcdonnell ranges

we just drove back a few hours ago from three days of driving, camping, and hiking. starting off in alice springs, we then drove over to hermannsburg, and then over on a corrugated (and VERY rough) dirt road to king's canyon, and then up on the same road to the west mcdonnell ranges.

camping in king's canyon was run by one of those fancy "resort" campsite companies). as people tend to do when catering to the backpacker/camper market, the term "resort" is used very loosely. the wasp's nest inside the bathroom stall was a nice surprise, though.

king's canyon itself was a beautiful day of hiking, and i've posted up some of my favorite king's canyon photos from the hike.

the next day we drove up to the west mcdonell ranges proper, and jean made an amazing chicken tikka masala dinner at our campsite (in an actual national park campsite, which was well-maintained as usual for the AU park system), which i'm looking forward to eating the leftovers from for dinner tonight. props to woolworth's australia for having amazing off-the-shelf premade chicken tikka masala sauce, chutney and roti. (this fared much better than the 'el paso' taco shells that we'd purchased from another woolworth's to make tacos with.)

at this point we're nearing the end of the time in australia with our land cruiser. we're due in darwin by the 25th, so we're planning to head out of Alice tomorrow morning and start driving north, hopefully stopping in Kimberley for a few days to do some hiking and camping.

while it's exciting to be flying to Brunei in a week from now (thus kicking off the Southeast Asia portion of my trip), i'm going to miss the long 4wd excursions with jean, playing fatboy slim and downtempo music at volumes high enough to overcome the constant rattle of the corrugated roads, and seeing how much of the car we can cover in water by hitting that next deep mud puddle at top speed.

next stop, tennant creek!

April 22, 2006

tennant creek

we stopped here enroute from alice springs to darwin based on the advice of the moon handbooks guide to australia and camped for a night.

outside our tent last night we heard, in addition to the usual mumur of traffic, the sounds of shouting, screaming, obscenities, whistling, and barking in the evening air. sounding like a riot in progress, the volume ranged from faint to about a block away. the one sound we never heard was a police siren.

the noise continued until late in the night, and didn't let up until moning. we never did find out exactly what the source of the noise was. we left tennant creek and started driving north shortly after dawn.

April 23, 2006

darwin time

after a long night in tennant creek, we decided to bypass the recently flooded catherine gorge at just drive the 1000km straight through to darwin.

we arrived tired, sweaty (cutting down on the a/c usage in the land cruiser to avoid having to buy too many $200 AUD gas fillups), and ready to rest. we booked a room at a backpackers called Melaleuca On Mitchell who had a few reasonable-sounding sentences describing them in our australia guidebook.

after a sleepless (and noisy) night spent trying to sleep in a tent on top of a land cruiser, and a long day of driving through the outback, there is nothing like checking into a room with large beds, air conditioning, fans, a private bathroom. except when you go upstairs and find out that there isn't just a pool, but a pool bar as well.

so today there are no grand excursions to report, no crazy experiences or canyon jumps, just uploading photos and videos, catching up on blog entries, and lying out in the sun with a cold cooper's pale ale. vacation rules.

April 24, 2006

deckchair cinema

i have to hand it to the people running darwin's deckchair cinema. i love the roxie dearly, but there is nothing like seeing great indie movies in comfortable deckchairs with cushions under the stars.

in addition to the sea view, there are the theater's amenities: homemade food sold by fundraisers on site (the indian samoas with sweet chili sauce last night were delicious), the full range of beer at the theater's bar, and the "barrel 'o cushions" to choose from to pad out your deckchair with.

this is a concept that the good people from california should definitely think about borrowing for our own filmed entertainment needs. ocean beach deckchair cinema, anyone?

the cyclone approaches

in what can only be described as an extradionary feat of bad timing, we ended up arriving in darwin 48 hours before the estimated arrival of cyclone monica. everyone in darwin is starting to prepare, and according to the latest news, it should be arriving early tomorrow morning (note the way the red arrow of the predicted path points directly at darwin).

it shouldn't mean more than gale force winds, but it definitely looks like a bumpy day or two coming up. (considering the entire city was wiped out by cyclone tracy in 1974, it's hard not be a little alarmed by the approaching storm.) looks like i might be discovering what the inside of a cyclone shelter is like.

hopefully (for everyone's sake here in darwin) this storm willl pass through without more than a few broken windows.

April 25, 2006

cyclone factoids

as i sit here in my hostel using the internet and wondering how much i'll read of neal stephenson's phonebook-sized the system of the world (luckily i'm reading the british edition, which has a much better cover, as is usually the case with british paperback books) today, while increasingly stronger and louder winds of cyclone monica batter our building from the outside, i thought i'd post some cyclone factoids for all of you:

1. cyclone monica is a tropical cyclone, which is the same thing as a hurricane.

2. according to the caption on this photo from yahoo news, it's now only a category 2 (Australian Scale) cyclone. (On the US hurricane scale, this would rank it as a "tropical storm").

3. all stores on my street in darwin (mitchell st) are closed, aside from the grocery store which is open. however, the liquor store attached to the grocery store is closed.

4. speaking of beer, the bar in my hostel is on the roof next to the swimming pool, and therefore closed. (the drawbacks of a pool bar... looks like it will be a dry cyclone party.)

5. this is not the headline i need to read before i've had coffee: "'Perfect cyclone' bears down on Australian city - Darwin, leveled by winds 32 years ago, lies in Monica's path." (from yahoo's frontpage, accompanied by a picture of a big ominious cloudy spiral). this then changed to "Cyclone threat eases in Australia" when i dug deeper for a more recent headline.

stay tuned to your favorite news sources for details about cyclone monica.

all is well in darwin

cyclone monica ended up missing darwin and losing enough strength that it is now a tropical depression.

today in darwin ending up being a day with lots of rain and wind, and hanging out indoors. this meant reading trashy sci-fi books that i found on sale the day before, and working on blog tweaks and enhancements.

two technologies that helped out today: wikipedia for their great news coverage on cyclone monica, and apple's ipod radio remote which let me tune into local radio news on the cyclone.

April 26, 2006

last days in oz

today, besides visiting the amazing crocodylus park just outside of darwin, we returned our trusty land cruiser after 3 weeks of camping and roadtripping our way from adelaide to darwin. this ended up taking us over 6000km across australia.

returning the car marks the end of the portion of the trip with jean, who will be staying in australia for a while before heading home, hopefully to rejoin for a while later this year. i'll definitely miss travelling with jean, but i've done solo travelling before, so i'll continue forward the around-the-world goal. this means that i only have a few days left in australia before i fly to brunei and begin my tour around southeast asia.

australia, i'll miss you, especially given that you are the only country i've been to that is as completely simpsons-obsessed as i am.

About Australia

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to gone living in the Australia category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Argentina is the previous category.

Brazil is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.