The outback and end of an era

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July 18th 2010
Published: July 19th 2010
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The 109 crew in the hummerThe 109 crew in the hummerThe 109 crew in the hummer

On the way to a local festival
Got up at 5 am after 3 hours sleep (stupid Guitar Hero) to go the dawn service for Anzac Day - Poppy Day. While the sun came up we honoured the countrys contribution to the World Wars - until someone shouted about the New Zealand anthem not being included. To be fair, they had a point, it is called Anzac day because it honours Australians and New Zealanders. I wonder if someone was giving the Kiwis the same kind of abuse over the pond. Tried to go back to sleep with the marching bands literally outside the front door. Ah the joys of living on of the cities most popular streets.

On the long bank holiday weekend I dragged myself from my literature review and took a much needed few days off. It was one of the best weekends I have had here (I am still paying for it). Six of the Gold Coast friends who we have done a number of festivals with ‘down South’ flew up here and the shinannigans began. We started with someones leaving do on the Friday, which Lee and I went to on a tuk-tul ridden my an Indian guy off my course. We
Ferne and AngusFerne and AngusFerne and Angus

My beautiful friends in their hot wigs
were really pleased the weather held out after the appalling weather forecast. We went for a late night swim in my pool on the way back. I felt a bit exposed, clutching my clothes to me as I headed upstairs, only to find Tom, and one of the guests nonchalantly wondering around in their pants for no reason at all. The next day we took them to the beautiful Maggie island and attempted wakeboarding. I have never done it before and the 3 hours sleep did not do anything to enhance my skills. As soon as I stood up I was pulled over by the force of the boat and ended up pulling the muscles in my arms before giving up. We then all took turns to have a go on the inflatable doughnut being pulled along behind the boat and I promptly hurt my stomach muscles laughing at my housemate Adrians legs flinging about above is head. As one of 2 people with a boat licence I then got to scream around the bay pulling the instructor on one waterski. I looked very cool in my bikini driving this big boat but trying to turn the thing at full
Wig theftWig theftWig theft

Tom (Boris) and me post Groovin' the Moo festival
throttle took some arm power and gripping of the dashboard with feet.

The next day en route to the festival our stretch hummer got loads of stares as 16 of us pulled up with music blaring and swigging beer (classy I know, but this IS north Queensland) My gorgeous friend Ferne wore a pink wig and still looked better than most of us at our best and our house was crammed with 9 people sleeping on every available mattress and sofa. The line up was good but Vampire weekend was awesome. My friend Leigh let me sit on his shoulders for my 2 favourite Vampire Weekend songs which was the highlight of my day. What did I do in my youth? Fo, next festival you are carrying me man…..I did miss my brother and surrogate brother Rob as they introduced me to Vampire weekend but overall the weekend was a roaring success.

This was followed by nothing but trying to write my literature review so I could go to Cape York, the wildest part of Australia with the guys for 10 days immediately before my lit review is handed in. Housework and socializing was abandoned as I struggled
Meeting upMeeting upMeeting up

The beginning of our Cape York trip in Mandurah, just north of Cairns. First tiem we have all be in the same place for nearly a year
with the scope of the thing only to be told by my supervisor I should have been writing about something else. As it was he that had handed me a chapter of a book he had written and told me to write about my topic I was ready to throw something at him but common sense (unusually) prevailed and I got on with it. I ignored my self inflicted deadline of having a draft handed in before I left and hopped in the packed 4WD one Friday evening. It was only as we pulled up to a country town pub and I wondered what everyone was staring at did I realize Adrian had stuck ‘UN’ stickers on the doors of the car. So I wrote in the car, in parks and cafes while the guys did a 4WD drive course, in the ten before the battery ran out and on boats and Ades sisters house before finally emailing in a draft a few k’s from the top of the mainland continent. I chatted to the locals and met a 101 yr old that still drives his own car and walks around chatting to all the shop owners.

The boys did a stirling job of organizing the trip, spending a small fortune on getting the land cruiser being serviced (Tom) and buying every piece of camping equipment known to man (Ade). They thought about food, maps, ropes, everything while I put some clothes in a bag and packed everyone a pillow in the 20 mins I had when I got back from work. Not used to reliqueshing control but there are only so many hours in a day, even if you stay up all night (as I did the day before we left). We all moaned about no sea view when we stopped off in Cairns, only to wake to stunning vistas of the mountains.

Cape York was amazing. Its no mean feat to spend 24/7 with 3 people (our old pal Scott flew up form the Sunny coast) and not want to kill each other. We had our moments though, veering off the dirt track to avoid oncoming lorries because Scott was driving too fast, or picking at each others driving. We camped somewhere different every night, met some grey nomads, passed through isolated communities and reminisced on our year in the ‘ville and how much we would miss each other. I wouldn’t have missed for the world. We drank beers at the top of the continent, camped in the wilderness, overcame 4WD drive tracks and burst tyres. So many people who live up here have not done this trip and I feel lucky I got to experience it.

While emailing off my uni work I got an email offering me a job, no interview, nothing as a marine scientist for an international consultant with an undergrad friend of mine. A month on the goalposts keep moving and I am still waiting for the phone interview. I leave the ‘ville in 2 days and have no idea whether I am going to be living in Brisbane or Perth. But whats a few thousand k’s between friends? Tom, Ade and I made the most of what we enjoy most, evenings hanging out together in our flat before we moved out in a drawn out 2 week process that involved me doing a lot of organizing and no thesis writing. I am now officially homeless, sleeping in their new flat while Tom is swanning around Europe and Papua New Guinea for parents 60th’s. They may drive me nuts but
Our daily ritualOur daily ritualOur daily ritual

Loading and unloading the car that is, not standing around in ridiculous poses. Thats saved for Thursdays.
man I am going to miss them. They have been my family and friends and housemates for the last year and I could not wish for friendly, funnier, more generous people to repatriate me to Australia. If I get the Perth job I won’t even be close enough to fly up and see them but it has all sorts of things going for it. Steady income, great career and being near my family in Perth. Will just have to wait and see.

As I have been preparing for my visit home all sorts of big news has come my way and I a) am, for the first time starting to feel my age as I hide in the uni bubble with a load of 23 year olds and b) realize how long I have been gone as people as people announce weddings, pregnancies and house purchasing galore. I can’t wait to see my family after 20 months abroad, be able to hug them all and enjoy some luxuries of England, i.e. Marks and Spencers food and the BBC.

While some things about Townsville drive me nuts, the attitude of the miners, army jocks and Aboriginals, all the shops
Me crossing a watercourseMe crossing a watercourseMe crossing a watercourse the Star Wars theme tune.
closing early, I will miss the friendly county attitude and the friends I have made here. I leave in 2 days for a few days in Brisvegas (Brisbane to the uninitiated). I am catching up with friends in case I do move to Perth then going to Byron Bay for a night to see a friend I worked with on Fraser Island who I have not seen for about 4 years. All very exciting. Then lots of time zones, continents and planes to come back to the UK. I am looking forward to hanging out in my pyjamas with Nat and Laus, seeing Dad and Tom up in Wales, seeing all the baby bumps, laughing a lot, nice champagne, good quality chocolate, boozy lunches, Ascot and seeing my good friend Rob get married, being able to park on the opposite of the road and not getting your bag searched in shops. See you in a week or so!!

Additional photos below
Photos: 19, Displayed: 19


Pursand BayPursand Bay
Pursand Bay

A few k's from the top of Australia
Relaxing at Pursand BayRelaxing at Pursand Bay
Relaxing at Pursand Bay

while keeping a vigilant eye out for the crocs who lived just down the beach
The top of AustraliaThe top of Australia
The top of Australia

no, the island behind does not count
Thursday IslandThursday Island
Thursday Island

From red dust to tropical paradise in 1 boat trip
Lord MontagueLord Montague
Lord Montague

Scott sufing the waterfall on Cape York
Cooling offCooling off
Cooling off

Fooling around in one of the rare safe waterspots, Elliot Falls
A long day on the road...A long day on the road...
A long day on the road...

or the 'kidnapping of Willson' as its also known

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