Published: April 15th 2011April 16th 2011
Hey everybody! I am in Byron Bay still but not for long, I will be heading up to Brisbane again to look for work! I had been working in Byron Bay for the past few weeks handing out flyers for the Peter Pan travel agency for accommodation (and any tour or activity you can book at the travel agency [minus bus and plane tickets]) and working nights as a bicycle rickshaw driver. Money from the rickshaw gig wasn’t that great since you work from 6PM to 4AM and have to pay to rent the bike whether you make enough money to cover the rent or not. My best night got me $90 take home but there was another night where I ended up having to pay $10 for the privilege to stay out on the bike for 10 hours. Needless to say, the work isn’t that stable ergo my return to Brisbane to find a proper 9 to 5 (or whatever hours they say, I’m just looking for an hourly wage!) I don’t need to pay for!
I started out staying at the Cape Byron YHA (Youth Hostel Association) which wasn’t bad, but the kitchen wasn’t all that good and
We couldn't make a fire so we made them in the kitchen.
you had to give a deposit to get cutlery and dishes and then defend said cutlery and dishes for all the other backpackers too cheap to put a deposit down for their own. The room I was in had 5 beds in it which was a nice change compared to some of the 10 bed dorms I’ve been in though they are a little small. We had tables and chairs outside the rooms and the way that the management decided was best to keep the noise down after 11PM was to remove the chairs to people wouldn’t have a place to sit and continue drinking (they’d just go back to their rooms and continue, but I guess it had the desired effect because they were much quieter).
There are lots of lizards here from the small geckos you can find on most walls or ceilings to the larger guys who look like small iguanas called Water Dragons that just chill out on the rocks or in the gardens and bush. There are also snakes here, I have seen 2 brown snakes since I’ve been here and they’re one of those ‘poisonous and can kill you’ type of snakes. The
Feels like camping!
first time I saw one I was still in ‘Oh hey look a snake’ mode (honestly it looks like a slightly longer garter snake) but the 2 people I was with jumped about 10 feet in the air because they knew it was poisonous.
Following my week at the YHA I moved into a house and split a room with Julie. It was much nicer and much cheaper than the $210 a week at the hostel (only $110) and had a huge living room. Sam, Lauren, (an English couple who were staying in our dorm at the YHA) and I went over to the house for dinner 2 nights before I moved in (Julie found the place 3 days after arriving in Byron) where somehow the dinner Julie was supposed to be cooking was getting done my Sam and me! We had a great time and it’s weird to say this, but it was the first time I had been in a house and sat down for a meal in almost a year.
The house was actually quite nice, large open living room 3 couches that joined the dinning room and kitchen, it also had free WIFI (free
This was my rickshaw in Byron
WIFI that has good strength and speed is like found money to a backpacker with a laptop) . The room wasn’t much to shout about, but it was comfortable enough. The only downside to the house is that it is about a 25 minute walk out of town and has no washer or dryer, but that isn’t all that bad. I made use of the kitchen after my first decent return from the rickshaw business and made a big pot (the biggest pot they had in the kitchen which almost wasn’t big enough) of chilli and even baked some fresh buns to go along with it 2 of my housemates, Amy and Jess (both from England) and Julie joined in and even did the dishes afterwards!
I stayed at the house for about a week and a half before moving into the Arts Factory which is arguably the hippiest hostel of them all here in Byron, but it is a pretty cool place. Most people play some kind of instrument (lots of drums [I’m even listening to some as I write this] and some guitars) and it makes me think that I would like to take up some kind
of instrument, not here in Byron, but maybe after I make some money in Brisbane I will buy a guitar or something like that. I will probably need to get rid of some of my stuff (or get a bigger backpack because honestly the 60 litre I have been carrying with me since I started this trip has not been big enough) to carry a guitar around too, but it’s not that strange for a backpacker to haul an instrument like that around.
Julie and I went snorkelling yesterday with some of our travel bucks. It was a fantastic experience and we even got to see some sea turtles (we were only 5 feet away from them in the water)! There was lots of other sea life that you normally don’t even think about, there were a lot of small bottom feeder sharks (can’t remember the aussie name for them) that eat small fish and other stuff on the bottom, and even a few Leopard sharks which look really intimidating, but don’t actually have any teeth, just bone grinding plates that they use to mash up crabs and prawns. Along with the sharks there were a lot of colourful
These guys are all over the place here and are only outnumbered by the wild turkeys!
fish (and some normal and very tasty looking ones), huge sea urchins, and interesting rock formations. The water was so clear that you could see for a very long distance, I think it was well worth the hours put in at Peter Pans!
There were people who came on our boat with us who were scuba diving in the area we were snorkelling in and now I am rolling the idea of scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef after working in Brisbane. It’s actually quite cheap (from $130) and I have more than enough vouchers at the travel agency to do it. Maybe in the next month and a bit I’ll be telling you about how I wrestled with a shark (as opposed to all the bear wrestling I do back home)!
Today there was a free didgeridoo lesson I took part in, it’s not hard to get a sound out of the instrument, but the technique of circular breathing is. Circular breathing is what is done to continuously have air moving through the instrument by first exhaling through your lungs, then squeezing air out of your puffed out lips while you inhale through your nose. To learn the technique we were all told to bring a bottle of water and get a mouthful of it, then squeeze our lips together to squirt out a very fine stream while inhaling through the nose. I got to the point where I could do that, but transferring it over to inhaling while squeezing air out the lips escaped me. I don’t feel too bad about it because we were only there for half an hour and no one else got it either, though we were told that that’s normal.
In the past few weeks I have made some really cool friends and had a lot of fun just hanging out and swimming at the beaches. I unfortunately don’t have time to take surf lessons now, but I can always come back to Byron Bay and use some of the ‘travel dollars’ I earned at Peter Pans to pay for them.
In 3 days it will be April 18 2011, and that will mark the 1 year point since I left home. I guess it will be call for a celebration, but I don’t know if I honestly thought that I would make it to a full year away from Canada. There is an end to the travel in sight, but at the moment it is still far off on the horizon as I would like to spend 4 more months working in Australia before getting up to Europe for another few months and then home. Who knows though? Maybe I’ll be coming back sooner than I think but even if I do end up having to cut the trip short, I will be very proud of what I have been able to do here in Australia and in New Zealand. Besides, I have a backpack, pair of hiking boots, and a passport, the world isn’t going anywhere (relative to me that is) and there will always be opportunities to see more of it at a later time if I need to.
That’s all for now guys, I’ll update you again shortly after I get to Brisbane. Thanks for tuning in!
PS. I'll try to get a couple pictures of the house before I leave and I'll upload them with the next post.