Opera any one?
The famous house
Not all those who wander are lost
- J. R. R. Tolkien
It was strange to be flying via Auckland. The bay of islands and Jess just a few hours away, yet not able to leave the airport. Back in New Zealand?! What a weird travel route I have taken since leaving home. But this is testament to the fact that you can only plan with the knowledge that everything changes. So, 18 months in, here I was in Sydney. I made my way to meet Chris Maclean whom I was at university with and stayed with him for about 4 days. Doing the whole tourist thing in the city, harbour bridge, the opera house… I even caught up with a Michael and Lindsey Armstrong for a few drinks one night, along with Liam, one of my many Irish friends from Queenstown.
It was great to be able to talk in English again, although I did find myself walking into a few shops and beginning to ask for things in Spanish! Next thing to do was to head to Melbourne and see Saoirse, although how she didn’t see me in the airport I still don’t know! The flight
Fountain in sydney
was initially fine, good lad beside me to chat to for the hour. It was as we started our descent that the airhostesses came through the cabin telling us all that it was going to be a very rough landing. Great. As we started to bounce along the turbulent highway, the captain came on the tannoy to tell us that it was 46 degrees in Melbourne and there were up to 90 km/h winds, and yes, it was going to be rather bumpy on the way down. Well the first five minutes were quite uncomfortable but nothing prepared any of us for the most god almighty dropping jolt that had 5 overhead lockers fly open and bags fall out. People made some very frightened noises and there was the customary wailing child who thought they were going to die, as did a few adults I’m sure. The lockers were duly closed and seatbelts were on again very fast. And then again, boom, the plane dropped. This time we all felt ourselves fly against the strain of our seatbelts. Had we not been wearing them, we would have all been swimming around the inside cabin along with the luggage from the
Home from home!
My very own quarters!
overheads. Groans of outright fear coming from every part of the inside, worrying too as usually people are completely silent when this kind of thing happens. the plane was all over the place now, left and right, wings dipping from side to side as we flew right into the scariest cloud formation I have ever seen. A towering giant with all sorts of different patterns and colours to it, so dark under its base as we dipped into the belly of the beast. One more huge lunge downwards had us all gripping our arm rests and making new alliances with any God w thought relevant. Overhead lockers open again now and no one ready to get up to close them this time as we turned a very sharp 90 degrees to line up with the runway at the last minute. And this is why, we were now side on to the winds and we were all over the place. Our wings going up and down so violently that no one believed we were actually going to attempt a landing. Everyone was terrified, seasoned flyer or not. As the wheel on my window side touched down, our wing was less than
M & G!
Mel & Greig at home in the sunshine coast
a meter from impacting into the runway. Somehow, our legendary female pilot got us down first time and without serious incident. I have never been so relieved and thankful in all my life.
It took me a while to stop shaking after that but I did calm down, about a day later! It was great to see Saoirse again, 6 months after having said goodbye at Wellington airport, saying hello again in the Melbourne one. I stayed intermittently with her and at my old school friend Emma Bosworth’s place for my week in Melbourne. It was great to see Emma again and she showed me around the city and we reminisced about funny days back in Musselburgh. Whilst the two of us were walking to the beach, we came across the most bizzare insect i have ever seen in my life! Have a look at the video below. The idea was however to come here temporarily, say hello and then, while could still afford it, go visit Mel and Grieg, Sophie and a few others in the Brisbane area, so again, off I flew! Thankfully, to a very decent flight this time. Bizzare insect!
Winnies crew re-unite!
Seeing Mel and Grieg again was brilliant. It had been back in Edinburgh the last time I saw them and now they were married and living in Oz. When I arrived I went outside to meet them and thought I saw Grieg on his phone. Approaching by means of a comical greeting I was about to give him a wee kick up the arse, leg raised and about to deliver, he turned round. Ahh, ok, not Grieg, oops, sorry mate. About turn and move away fast. Thankfully they weren’t too far away and were in hysterics at my near miss! It was like it was yesterday we last saw each other. They have a great wee house in a beautiful part of the world, a wee cat called Jet and my room even had my name on the door! We had such a great week. Just pure relaxation in one of the most stunning places to live. Always sunny, warm, by the sea and what a relaxed way of life. Well done guys on getting here, I take my hat off to you both. We fished, biked, bowled and ate some great food, just the way it should be with
Steve and Sophs
Chilling on the beach
old and close friends.
Then it was off to see Miss Sophie and Mr Steve Clay in the Gold coast where I was to try my very first dive! This was an incredible experience. It really was an amazing thing to do. I did my training in the pool and went out for the practice part of the DSD (discover scuba diving). Some times words just don’t do justice to the event. This was one of those. It took me a while to get the hold of staying at one level and breath slowly while looking all around at what the sea had to show. I was in complete awe, straight away. There were leopard sharks gliding peacefully every where, big turtles, ray sharks, octopus, electric rays, bull rays and things I had never seen before. One octopus that Steve caught on camera did the most amazing transformation not just in colour but in shape too. I was like Augustus Gloop in the chocolate factory once again, excitement and euphoria overflowing overpowering the senses as some of natures wonderful spectacles coasted by, no different to them, over different to me. All the underwaterphotos were taken by
Steve & Sophie Clay, the following links are to their websites: Sophie Clay Steve Clay
This was not to be the end of the diving though. I had been in touch with a few friends from Queenstown who were now in Oz and some of them close by to where we were. Sophie and Steve dropped me off on the way back to Brisbane and I caught up with Chris, Laura and Sam. Good to see a few faces from NZ and a legendary game of beer pong! Caught the train back to catch up with the Clays and as it was Steve’s birthday they both did well to twist my arm into staying an extra few days and head back down to Byron bay to do another dive, or two. If it was possible, it was even better than the first. By now I had managed to get the hang of my breathing, slow and regular. My buoyancy was so much better and I could control my movements on the whole. As I was still at DSD level we didn’t go below 10 meters, officially, and took in the same and many more fantastic sights underwater. The
coming down the line
visibility was fantastic, gentle sweeping current around the pinnacle rocks, there were nubibrights, cuttle fish and a whole plethora of underwater majestic creatures. This really was one hell of an amazing thing to do and one hope to do more of in the future. Like Mel and Grieg, it was so good to see Sophs and Steve. Familiar faces of those whom I cared about that I had no or little connection with since having been on the road. But it was time to say cheerio and head back to Melbourne, the main reason I cam to Oz. Leopard shark Amazing Octopus!
So, back it was to Melbourne. No job lined up but staying in a house with Saoirse and fellow travellers, seeking employment that will keep me here for the time being. So this is me signing off for a while as the travelling temporarily ceases as I look for a routine for the next 4 months. Should anything of interest happen while I am here I will keep you posted, but there is the possibility that the next time you hear from the tartan traveller, I might very well be back in the UK.
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