Saturday, 30 July 2011

A Snapshot of...India

I spent over three months in this great land.  For all its beauty it had ugliness to match, but still I love you India. Why? because you gave me what I needed, not what I wanted. 
Anyone who goes to India without seeing the Taj Mahal must have a screw loose in my opinion. It is one of those building that no matter how many are in the crowds, how many photos you've seen, seeing it in the flesh (or stone) just doesn't compare.  In that first glimpse, it doesn't look real, its so beautiful and worth the hype.
Tip: Get there at sunrise and if there is a cue for inside, don't bother, its pretty gutted.

Those God damn monkeys!  First few times you see them there's excitement, finger pointing "ow, ow monkey!" (yeah you can tell I'm one of those travellers who's way cool and doesn't have tourist stamped on their forehead). But monkeys are crafty, vicious and work together. Monkey muggings are common. You laugh, but I've seen it.  My friend's paper bag was ripped open by a gang of roughens, and her muffin snapped away.  No flash photography either, these guys are big and aggressive.

There is nothing that screams India's patriotic side and its fierce rivalry with Pakistan more than the Border closing ceremony at Wagah.  Everyday thousands watch, dance and wave flags around as military move around like their in a kung foo movie.

People work hard in India, pushing their bodies to the limit.  In Shimla, where its winding streets make it impossible for large vehicles to move about, men like this get work moving ridiculously large objects from A to B.
The further north you go, India's Buddhist side comes to life.  In McLeod Ganj, home to Tibet's government in exile and its Dalai lama, its out in force.  Only an hour and a half bus ride from where my volunteer project was, I spent quite a few weekends here, relaxing in the cafes, having a massage, hiking, shopping.  A tourist haven that I loved.

Sunset on the Ganges, Rishikesh.

 My night trip (obviously I visited again in daylight for this pic) to the Golden Temple, in Amritsar was one of the most memorable experiences. Separated from my friends, I met so many pilgrims who were really great, explaining Sikh religious customs to me.  While the Taj Mahal is a fantastic tomb, this place is very much alive.

Waterfall at Vashist.

Stray dogs will keep you company while trekking up the Himalayan mountains. Be careful near the edge as they have been known to push past people and accidentally knock them off.

The rickshaw rider.  I only used this type of transport twice and felt so guilty. The poor guys have to work stupidly hard for such a small amount of money.

I just wanted to add that the grey monkeys were actually really chilled out and cool. Nothing like the mental brown ones. I wouldn't want them to get a bad rep.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

View from above

While I'm busy running around Cairns getting things sorting and doing the boring chores of travel (diving medical, shopping supplies, etc) I thought it was time to share some snapshots from up above at the station.  I don't think I'd ever get bored of helicopter rides and the beautiful views.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Goodbye NT, hello open road

If the scheduling tool on my blogger has worked, this post should go live when I'm due to leave Katherine. If all goes well, my lift into town won't break down, the greyhound leaves on time and I'll get into Darwin with all my luggage intact.   Early the next morning I'll be on a flight to Cairns and so my Northern Territory adventure will be over.  Whenever I leave somewhere, its hard not to feel a little sentimental. Its an end to a chapter of my life and another start into the unknown.  Although my four months haven't been filled with visiting an array of different places and partying, its allowed me to think about what I want to work towards.   The work has some times been hard, the isolation tougher than expected and time has seemed to go in slow motion.  But I would never take this experience back.  I got to fly in a helicopter, get close to wild animals, see the cowboy life, save a little cash and go to my first rodeo.  Working on a cattle station isn't for all, but its certainly something different.

Here starts my next adventure, and to say I'm excited would be an understatement.  Picture a kid the night before Christmas and you're nearly there.  In Cairns I'll meet two of my oldest and closest friends. Some how we've all ended up in Oz and free to roam the east coast together.  Our 5 day diving course is all booked and then we'll be picking up our rented camper van. For one month we'll be travelling down the east coast to Sydney, navigating not only through the roads but threes egos, a very tight budget and camping.

People, its about to get interesting...

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


You'll have to forgive me. I'm mourning the fact I'll be loosing my personal space and want to indulge in country living a little bit longer.
This has been my home for the last four months. Its where I've slept, eaten and breathed.  As its a pretty new station, everything is in good shape.

Things to Miss:

  I'll miss the grader driver's caravan, which is too cool for school in my eyes.

I'll miss the verandah overlooking the ridge...
 Being able to hang my clothes outside...
I'll miss fossil, even though you never started for me.
And I'll miss Lucy. Who as soon as she spots you, waddles over for a pat.

But now my backpack calls and I must get ready to leave

Monday, 25 July 2011

Walking in the bush


These photographs really sum up my favourite things about getting out on foot and seeing some country.

Pick a road and see where it takes you... 

You'll never know who you might meet...

Some less surprising than others....

Just remember you're hat!!!!!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

What I left in India

Its just a crocodile and it wasn't even finished, but I'm pretty proud of what I left on an Indian wall.

For two months in 2010, I volunteered in a Himalayan community near Palampur, teaching daycare in the mornings and visiting families in the afternoon to talk about child development. During the school break, we were asked to re-paint the outside area. This was where most of the day care teaching took place, so we wanted to put images on the wall that would support this.

This is how I left the crocodile, in the knowledge that two fellow volunteers would finish it (and other touch up work) the following week. And when I met up with one of them a month later, I was able to see photographic evidence of how they completed our artwork, including numbers on my Croc. Hopefully I'll be able to show some copies of this.

Sure, it won't last forever, in fact someone may of painted over it already. But I really think all involved did a great job.

* Decorating completed by myself, Celia, Manu, Emily, Irma, Bianca and Julia.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Wallaby vs Guinea Fowl

In my post Stalking Wallabies I mentioned how getting a non-blurred photo of a wallaby/walla-rue or kangaroo seemed out of my capabilities.  Well, a few days ago, I spotted this guy on the station. And so did the guinea fowl, leading to a weird show down. My favourite part was where our hopping friend ploughed into the feathered mob that had surrounded him!

Also this week, there was another snake incident. I didn't stand on it. No this time the cowgirl I share with got a nasty surprise when she went to the fridge. That's right people, a snake had made its way into the house to the top of the fridge.  As my house mate has some issues with snakes, it was my job to evict it. Luckily for me it was a tree snake (i.e not poisonous) and was feeling cooperative and climbed into a cool bag. I then hoisted it up using a mop handle (sure, someone might may its not poisonous but I'm taking no chances on this continent!) and relocated it away from the homestead.

True to say, sometimes you don't need to go trampling around the bush to see the wildlife.  Sometimes it comes looking for you!

Monday, 18 July 2011


I had all these images flashing through my head.  I'd be able to get an amazing shot of a brave cowboy holding on for dear life while a bull bounces around.  But sometimes things don't work out how you picture it. Sometimes bad lighting, an unfortunate spot and a limited camera mean all you get is unrecognisable shots.    So I put the camera away and enjoyed my first rodeo.  It was pretty good, my favourite part being the young children on the bucking Shetlands - weird and wonderful.The stadium was so jam packed that we had to stand - which I could only handle for about an hour and a half. I think this is a sign I'm getting old.
The Katherine show, except for the Rodeo and Boxing ring (where member of the public can go against the professionals),  resemble country shows back home. There were rides,  baking competitions, show jumping, animal breeding contests and stall after stall of retail wonders.  I tried my first (and second) Dagwood and Slept out under the stars. 
I also attended my first 'chuck auction,' although I was disappointed when they didn't have any geese for sale; I wanted to buy Lucy a friend.
One things for sure, I've decided that if I want better pictures, it may be time to invest....

Anyway, here's a few pictures of the day and night.  The first one I really like as it shows some young cowboys hanging about on the side lines. Second is a bunch of young'uns getting their prizes for barrel racing. Third chuck auction. Fourth is the entries for the best scare crow competition - I'm guessing!!!!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Five things I've learnt in the outback

Got to love four day weeks!!! Everyone is off with a long weekend so they can make the most of the Katherine show, which is a big hoo-ha in these parts.  One word in particular has filled me with a lot of excitement: Rodeo. You'll be surprise to hear that the sport doesn't have a big presence back in England. I am  a rodeo virgin.

So lately I've been thinking about the things I've learnt over the last few months, whether that be practicalities, personal decisions or randoms facts.  Here's my top five.

1. Bring a hat. Cowboy style head wear aren't just worn to look the part, they're a necessity. The Ozzy sun is fierce and way stronger than it the northern hemisphere. When working outside the last thing you want is your grey cells overheating. Something as simple as a $10 hat is the difference between a week off work with sunstroke and getting on with your life.  Even if you think you'll only be in the sun for ten minutes, get in the habit of putting it on. 

2. An understanding of the following words; 'tailing weeners', 'mustering', a 'boer run', 'gelding' and 'a killa.'  When I first started it would feel like everyone was speaking another language. But now I feel fairly fluent in farm talk.

3. Galas and guinea fowl make the most Annoying noises. Ever. When combined it makes me want to break things.I remember thinking the first time I saw a Gala "what a pretty bird."  And then they go and ruin it by opening their screeching beaks!

4.  Diesel rules out here. Without the Land cruisers, quad bikes, helicopters and trucks, commercial farming would be non-existent. Its been great being behind a vehicle again and has really siked me up about the camper van.

5. People still go out of their way for others. Sometimes when you're travelling alone, you can get so wrapped up in yourself and only worry about what you want.  The managers and others have made me re-evaluate my own behaviour. From driving me to the doctors when I was sick to little things like lending me a swag, they have gone out of their way for me, asking nothing in return.  Sure there are some shits still out there, but the goodies really have humbled me and makes you ask "what have I done for someone else today?"

Fashion inspiration for a back pack wardrobe?

Its been a very relaxed weekend. The type of weekend where you drink numerous cups of tea and coffee, scoff Turkish delight into your face and read up on all the blogs you follow. And all this is done on the veranda overlooking a red dirt road.  This will be my last weekend where I have nothing planned and I feel I used it to its full potential.

Its just over two weeks until I stop working on the station and become a backpacker again. Living in a house, with my own room, having a cook and having internet access (although often going down and being limited) has spoilt me. However, I'm getting pretty excited about being on the road again and experiencing the east coast. Even though it'll be winter and the temperature will drop as we work our way down, I intend to dive, snorkel and hang out on beaches to my hearts content.

OK so as a lady who likes her clothes (although they some times don't like me) I've been searching the internet for style ideas that could work with my limited budget and space in my backpack. The phrase of making myself alittle bit more presentable has already begun. Yesterday I dyed my hair dark brown, although  I ended up dying the soles of my feet in the process (don't ask).

Here are few looks that appeal to me that I found in cyber space.

The headscarf, demonstrated oh so well by Keiko Lynn.

Understated everyday charm - courtesy of Orchid Grey

Once back in civilisation I will hunt down some wedges! This I came across on Blonde Bedhead's Blog.

The work of Le Happy
Before travel I loved clothes, and although its not the main love in my life anymore, I'm thinking a couple of style up grades are well over due.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Dingo Day

At the beginning of the week I had another of those days that make me glad I'm in the bush. It certainly was a little bit different.   I drove out to one of the cattle yards to see some cattle mustering - cowboys hats and horses a plenty.  At one point I was left on my own to wait to get picked up. Wandering around, passing the time, I then found myself face to face with two Dingoes coming straight towards me. Now I wasn't quite sure what to do. I realise dingo attacks on people are very rare, but when you're on your own with no vehicle, no way of protecting yourself and you're out numbered, its hard to feel at ease.  Yet every time I moved back one of them kept coming closer for a better look. I don't think these guys had seen a human before and wanted to know what I was.  Within a minute or so, they were gone on their merry way.  From the picture you can see how close they were.

The cattle were led out/rounded up/moved from place to place. At one point I was in a Land cruiser being used to herd them.

Then it was time for tea at a burnt down camp....

And then up, up and away! A lift home in a helicopter.

 Yep, this was a good day...

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