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Published: October 3rd 2009
And it was deigned where She should live
Adrians giant hand pointing to our house from the top of Castle Hill
Well, its been an eventful few weeks. I went back to Orpheus island to do some of my own research which involved catching gobies. I went with a Liverpudlian Phd student called Matt and we both confessed to having more of a laugh then we expected. This is mainly because sorting out the logistics beforehand gave me rage so Matt was expecting someone difficult to work with but of course I was a delight, fooling around on the boat and doing dances about cake. A goby is a small, gormless looking bottom-dwelling fish and Matt and I had to catch over 100 for me to watch their behaviour when think predators were near. We also had to catch some for Matt. We went out on one of the research stations little boats and spent our days crawling around the bottom and swimming around huge nets anaesthetising fish. This is highly comical as it means they are no longer in control of their bodies and you have to waft them into hand nets. Completely knackering though, we cooked early and crawled into bed about 9pm.
On the last night we sat on the beach and looked at a million stars, the
Hard at work
Wetsuit half on - check. On a tiny boat - check. Eating chilli con carne. What the? Liverpudlian Matt and I live it up on our Orpheus island research boat
Milky Way and shooting stars. I was extra careful about the vicious mozzies and was rewarded by being attacked by bed bugs which have (temporarily I hope) scarred my legs. And bum. I look like I have nappy rash. Very attractive.
It is heating up fast in Townville, already creeping above 30 degrees and we did not have a single drop of rain for 3 months. The wet season from Nov to Feb will make up for this.
I also climbed the hill that dominates Castle Hill for the first time just a few streets away from my house which is only 8 metres off being a mountain so I am hoping for a mini, very isolated earthquake.
Mum arrived. It was great having her in my home and she barely got touched by jetlag which was very impressive. I felt awful as I had to virtually abandon her in the first week of her visit for uni and work commitments in preparation for going to Sydney together. There was one day in particular where I was supposed to be gaining boat driving experience but there was not enough water in the creek so I spent the day
Attack of the bed bugs
My leg after the last night in ressearchers accomodation
in the bush doing virtual manual labour with a very nice bloke called Matt (a different Matt) while the lazy American we were volunteering for bossed us around and sat on her arse looking at bugs. We did have a laugh off roading and smashing down trees though. His idea not mine.
Mum of course saw more of the area than I have in 6 months, taking herself off to Magentic island, learning all about the local history and going to the rainforest with my housemate Adrian. She also got to see why I am here as we went out volunteering in the bay outside my door. Diving in poor visibility and lugging around heavy equipment underwater was the order of the day while Mum chilled on the boat with the lovely Swedish and English women I was with. We helped to launch the boat then chilled out with a glass of wine on the seafront when we got back. Diving and chilling with your family, how life should be.
Mum and I went on a boat trip to the Whitsunday islands, the well photographed tropical islands a few hours south. We drove through miles of sugar cane
Diving for Nikki in Cleveland Bay, on my front door step
fields to Airlie beach and spent 2 days languishing in the hot sun, snorkeling and watching the sails billow in the wind. It was stunning. We had an unexpected extra day in Townsville as the huge dust storm in Sydney grounded our plane. If you get a chance to look at some pictures online do it, they are like the end of the world with Sydney shrouded in orange dust, blanking out the sky. We took ourselves to the local wildlife sanctuary where Mum got aquainted with the local wildlife before getting her last fix of being a rock star on Guitar Hero. One day she spent about 3 hours on the drums.
Our first stop in Sydney was Mums cousin who has a property an hour out of Sydney. Mum and Mark have never met and Mark was really pleased to finally get to meet her. Mark and his wife Cheryl have looked after me before in Sydney, catching up for drinks and giving me a place to live when my lease was up. They have 50 acres of bushland which is constantly threatened by fire and they are very knowledgeable on fire prevention, mapping the area by
Chillin' on a sailing boat
Windswept me on the Whitsundays
the local fire stations. We sat in their lovely log cabin ate good food, drank wine and chatted. Mark decided to scare me with stories of huntsman (big hairy spiders) living in the house but I had the fortune of not seeing any crawling across the bedroom walls. We learnt about Marks awful experiences of the Vietnam war and listened to their parrot chatting to himself and wolf whistling to anyone who walked in the door. Wallabies had returned to their garden and I learnt ‘kangaroo’ means ‘I don’t know’ in Aboriginal as that’s what they replied when white men asked what they were. They gave us a tour of the local area, taking in the Hunter Valley, a road built by convincts and Australias oldest pub. We strolled around the Rocks, the oldest area of Sydney and got some amazing, cheap Indian food before Mum and I stayed in the city proper.
By a twist of fate one of the cheapest places to stay is the old wool store where I lived for 6 months on my round the world trip. We were higher up then my original apartment and had stunning views of the high rises over
I can't remember which island. Hook or something on the Whitsundays. What a travel writer I am
Darling Harbour from our huge windows. I did find a bit weird the first couple of days though! We did not do too many really tourist things, instead choosing to hang out in the quieter, more scenic surburbs for Mum to indulge her coffee addiction and new found love of Sydney ferries. Mum took some fantastic shots of the Sydney Harbour bridge and opera house as the sun set on the way back from Manly beach where had some complimentary champagne. I embarked on a rare shopping excursion as the ‘ville is appalling for it and wondered if I wanted to live in the big city. We also bagged tickets to a La Roux concert which was in a fantastic small venue so we caught the bus like locals and danced around like fools.
We ignored the looming last day right up until the airport where I sobbed my heart out in the international terminal saying goodbye to Mum and wondering if I have been foolish to move so far away. Mum said she completely understood why I wanted to live there and I wimpered down the phone to Sus as I made my way to Brisbane.
Another island in the day
Erm.....still looks fab eh?
am back on Stradbroke island in a gorgeous little wooden house as a group of female volunteers. The weather is nicer than during my visit in July but the winds are still too strong for us to head out on the boat at the moment. I am dividing my time between sitting in the verandah relaxing in front of the beach, being surrounded by American students at the research station a few doors down in an attempt to get some uni work done and applying for any job that sounds remotely interesting. This last one is very disheartening as the jobs are either applied for by hundreds of people or they already have someone in mind but you have got to keep trying.
So until next time, heres some pictures. Miss you already Mum,
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