Basirk in Australia

The continuing adventures of Chris Bassett

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2003-10-26 17:36:16 - Tokyo
- Back Home!

I'm back! I got to Tokyo without any problem but the following day I found that the flight to London was delayed by about 1.5 hours, which would have got me in at 8:30pm. That sounded a bit too late so I managed to get an earlier flight that got in at 4:30pm :) Good old JAL! I'm now in Devon.

If you think it's all over, then you're only half right. I'll be adding some photos later!

I'm off to France on Wednesday 29th. A traveller's work is never done...
2003-10-22 20:39:56 - Sydney (last day!)

This is my last day in Australia. The sun is shining and I've got no worries, mate. I have a short list of loose ends that need tying and a lot of souvenirs to buy, and that's it.

I expect there'll be one more log entry when I get back to England, but before I leave Oz I'd like to thank everyone who's been reading the log and I hope you've enjoyed it. I'd also like to thank everyone who's stayed in touch as without you I'd have gone home a lot sooner! I'll be bringing back some fantastic memories (and some stuffed koalas) and I've left enough of Oz unvisited to make a future visit worth while.

From Australia, see ya.
2003-10-22 08:56:22 I have sold Frieda! She went for 4000 AUD (1670 UKP) to a nice german couple. It was a very sad moment for me when I handed the keys over. Despite our occasional differences, I was very fond of Frieda. For the last 5 days things have been very dull. I started with the price at 5500 then dropped to 4900 after 2 days. After 4 days I went down to 4400 and at 11am today I dropped to 4200. That put her in direct competition with many of the short wheel base vans. At 1:00 things went manic. A crowd gathered around Frieda and I had to give 3 test drives one after another. They were all very interested but the first couple (the Germans) had first refusal. The second couple were English and the third person was Canadian.

This evening I had a great Indian meal with some of the chaps who were also selling cars and vans at the car market. I expect I'll keep in contact with them.

Odd how things work out.

I'll be flying back on the 24th, arriving late on the 25th.
2003-10-21 07:18:17 - Heathcote (Sydney)
- Bondi Beach (Sydney)
- Kings Cross (Sydney)

Since returning from NZ I've done very dull stuff that really doesn't warrent a mention. I will skip straight to the intersting part that is the sale of the van.

Freda (the van) is currently parked at Kings Cross Car Market. The current price is 4,400 AUD (about 1,800 UKP). Let me paint a picture of Kings Cross Car Market. Firstly, it takes up 1 floor of an underground carpark, the second floor to be exact. That's one floor from the bottom. It's dark and cold. I'm going blind and I can hear insects scuttling from 20 meters. I'm turning into a Morlock. Today was my 5th day down there and I really don't want to spend much more time down there. On the positive side I have met lots of really great people including an English couple, a French couple. We're all going out for an Indian tomorrow :)

Before Freda was parked at Kings Cross, I went back to Bondi Beach. Full circle. It hasn't changed much. I slept in the van which was parked in a back street. I saved lots of money but smelled bad. I'm now staying at "The Original Backpackers" in Kings Cross which is pretty good.

Today I had a telephone interview for a job. It went well I think so hopefully I progress through to the next stage which will be a type of exam to test my embedded C skills. Sounds fun. No seriously, I'm quite looking forward to it. I think I'm strange.

I think that covers everything. I'll keep you all posted as to how the van selling and job stuff goes.
2003-10-21 07:02:26 [New Zealand - Last 5 days]
[Pictures will be added shortly!]

- Mahurangi West, Sullivans Bay
- Auckland
- Cambridge

When we woke up the sun was shining through the back door of the van, so we opened it up and looked out over Sullivans Bay. Incredibly peaceful. There were very few people there, and they were a long way away. It was like having your own private beach! We walked along the beach and across to a rock that is only accessible at low-tide. There were lots of small starfish on the freshly exposed rocks and also lots of sea urchins in the rockpools. Cool.

Unfortunately we had to move on and our next stop was Auckland for a brief internet and e-mail fix.

And then onto Cambridge which was billed as a "typical English town". Yeah right. We drove over a dam just outside of Cambridge (after picking up a jolly nice Chinese takeaway) and ended the day at a caravan park next to a lake where olympic rowers train, apparently. I think we were both wishing we were still at Mahurangi.

- Cambridge
- Hobbiton!
- Lake Taupo
- Tongariro National Park (Mt. Doom)

Waking up here wasn't half as impressive as Mahurangi so we had to make up for it in the places we went. I don't think we did too bad! Our first stop was back in Cambridge where we did the e-mail thing again. The bloke who owned the shop was very talkative (read wouldn't stop talking) and proved to be a mine of information. One such product of this mine being the semi-precious stone (I'm thinking Lapis Lazuli here) that was the "historic" church. My sarcasm may be shining through my words, and I apologise, especially as the shop owner followed up with a real gem that was instructions on how to locate Hobbiton :)

Armed with scribbled directions we headed out of Cambridge and soon found ourselves in somewhat familiar rolling green hills. We stopped the van near to the farmland that housed Hobbiton and had some rather tasty tuna and mayo sandwiches (gripping, isn't it?). The actual location of Hobbiton was over a hill on private land so we couldn't see the home of the Baggins's but, as did Gollum, the landscape just screamed "Shire".

Just a little not note here. We watched a herd of bulls in a couple of fields that were making their way into a third field. It was bizzare to watch, as once they entered the third field they went a bit mad. They bucked and started running. Very strange.

On to Lake Taupo. This area is hot on the geo-thermal and hrdro-electric leccy production. One sign of this is large amounts of steam rising up from, well, anywhere. Have you ever seen a steaming forest of fir? I have. It's disturbing. We went to Huka Falls which was quite amazing. 160 cubic meters/second is guided down a channel about 10 meters wide. That's a lot of water, and it look very impressive.

We moved onwards into Tongariro National Park. By this time it was raining and the clouds were coming down. However, we did get a glipse of a number of volcanoes that inhabit this area. The most impressive has to be Mt. Ngauruhoe which as all LOTR philes will know was used for Mt. Doom. We only saw the base as the top was well in the clouds. There was no big, flaming eye which I found most dissapointing. We stayed at the camp area near the skiing resort (yeah, people ski near Mt. Doom. They also play golf!)

- Tongariro National Park
- Craters of the Moon
- Orakei Korato
- Roturua
- Blue Lake

Got up and some absolutely stooooopid time in the morning to watch England play Turkey in Istanbul, only to find that it wasn't being screened. Bugger. At least the score was ok to allow automatic qualification (Rachel, what have you done to me? Next thing you know I'll be explaining the off-side rule). The weather was very poor - wet and windy - which was a real shame, so we decided not to go walking.

We headed towards Roturua and stopped off at the Craters of the Moon (dun, dun, dahhhhhh). Remember this is a geo-thermal hotspot? (sorry, no more puns, promise) The whole area was covered with steam which poored from holes in the ground. Some patches of earch/mud bubbled. The ground was HOT in places. A very strange place. And it smelled eggy.

Upon arriving at Roturua I decided that I wouldn't buy a house in this particular region. Roturua stinks. Maybe you get used to the eggy smell. Desite the smell, Roturua is one of the main tourist spots and the Maori capital (I think that's right, but don't quote me).

We went through Roturua and out the other side (where the air was fresher) and ended up next to Blue Lake at a nice Caravan Park. The roads to get there were great. All twisty :)

- Roturua
- Wentworth Falls

After spending lots of money in the Jade Factory in Roturua (I bought myself a spiral pendant symbolising new beginnings) we headed up the Coromandel Peninsula to Wentworth Falls. There was a DOC camground there and we were the only customers! This was fortunate as we couldn't drive off the hard track into any fields due to the large amount of rain they'd been having.

- Wentworth Falls
- Cathedral Cove
- Hahei

There is a great walk that goes from the DOC campground to, not surprisingly, Wentworth Falls. The track crossed the river twice and we both managed to keep our feet dry. We ended up at the very top of a large waterfall, and that's where we had our lunch. I'm sorry - I can't remember what was in my sanwiches. I can remember that we were sat right at the top of the falls, feet away from the edge and looking out towards the sea visible in the distance. Great. On the return trip someone had a little balance issue that resulted in rather wet feet. It was an incredibly funny moment. Trust me.

We drove on up the peninsula to Cathedral Cove. This is truly a beautiful place and best viewed at low-tide. The whole bay is beautiful and we spent quite some time just wandering along the beach and playing "dam the stream". Great fun. We left Cathedral Cove and went in search food. Being the last night we thought we'd eat something other than "something" with a tomato sauce. We found a place called Eggcentric which was truly odd. It was a very arty place (you could tell because the owner was painting a picture in the dining area) and it had an ambiance that so many places struggle to achieve. That particular evening there was some live music performed by a Brit who'd lived in Ireland and married a Canadian. They now lived in Aus. The music was very Irish influenced and very good. The food was also fantastic and copious. The perfect end to the holiday.

Just down the coast was the town of Hahei, and that is where we spent the night.

- Auckland

And so we drove back to Auckland to catch our flights.
2003-10-17 04:49:51 [New Zealand - First 5 days]
[Pictures will be added shortly!]

- Auckland
- Piha
Arrived in Auckland ok and met up with Rachel after a 1 hour mamoth queuing session at immigration (grrr). We picked up the rental camper van from Britz and despite it being the smallest available, found it was actually bigger than Freda (my van in Oz). It also had a sink, fridge and built in gas stove! We drove west to the coast and found a car park at Piha right next to the beach. In NZ you're allowed to stop overnight in carparks (unlike Oz). The place was pretty deserted apart from some joker who didn't know how long his car was and drove into the small wooden fence. Most ammusing :) It was dark when we arrived so it was only the next day that we realsied how nice a spot it was!

- Piha
- Muriwai Beach
We walked along the black sand beach, drew in the sand and climbed up Lion Rock which gets cut off from the land at high-tide. We then found the water pump for the sink had stopped working, so after leaving Piha I asked some random lady where we could find some water. It turned out to be a fortunate meeting, because not only did she direct us to her house where we filled up with water, but her husband fixed up a switch to the pump wiring so we could use the pump. Incredibly helpful people, and they lived in the most picturesque place you've ever seen! The scenery around here was extremely green (pasture land) and peaky.

We then drove onto Muriwai Beach Motor Camp (almost empty!) and stayed there for the night.

- Waipoua Kauri Forest
We carried on north along the west coast of Northland and reached the Waipoua Kauri Forest Department Of Conservation (DOC) campground. Against it was late so we explored here the next day.

- Waipoua Kauri Forest
- 90 Mile Beach
- Taupo Bay
The Waipoua Kauri Forest constains some incredibly large Kauri tress. By incredibly large I mean having a diameter of about 5.2m! Yes, that's the diameter! They is hooooge.

We drove to the bottom of 90 Mile Beach, then veered off east past Doubtless Bay to Taupo Bay. We stayed at another empty caravan park, this one with a very imposing, rocky hill that dropped down to the beach. Myself and Rachel played a stonking came of Poah-seaweed down a stream leading to the sea, and I'm pleased to say that I won after my opposition's seaweed got lost under a rock. Shame that.

- Taupo Bay
- Mahurangi West, Sullivans Bay
It really rained in the night and we nearly got bogged down at the caravan park! We drove down the east coast to Mahurangi West N.P. and after a bit of searching came across a camping area at Sullivans Bay. Again it wasn't until the following day that we realised how lucky we'd been in finding this place, the description for which will have to wait until the next thrilling installment!
2003-10-10 19:35:01 - New Zealand!

Just a quick entry to say I'm ok and having a fantastic time. I'll write up everything I've done when I get back to Oz. If anyone needs to contact me while I'm in NZ then they can use my old UK mobile number (the Oz one doesn't work over here).
2003-10-02 23:22:56 - Royal National Park
- Heathcote (Sydney)

I hauled myself out of Sydney and went all of 5km down the road to the Royal National Park. It was very rocky with lots of low green (usually brown!) scrub. There was a caravan park at a place called Bonnie Vale. Not a bad spot really as it had a great view of a large river estuary. There were lots of tame cockatoos with white bodies and bright yellow crests. The only down side being the showers which were a half km walk away!

I didn't get a chance to do any walks unfortunately as the van needed some more rust patching before it gets sold. I got quite a bit of it done plus some general respraying of the trim before the heavens opened. The last two days have been intermitent sunshine and blustery showers.

I'm now back at Heathcote which isn't half as pretty but it does have easy access to the train station and decent showers!
2003-09-30 00:12:36 Been madly busy the last 2 days. I've booked the flights back home. The flight arrives on the 25 October (ermm, I think). I've applied to some jobs back in the UK, although the interview process could be awkward with me over here!

I'm also having hassles with my web domain management. I'll be moving domain administrators shortly (from SMNCorp to 123-Reg in case you're even remotely interested) but it hopefully won't interupt my website much.
2003-09-28 23:09:38 I've been thinking a lot about stuff recently, and I've decided it's time I went back to England. The reasons are:
1) I'm getting low on cash (always a good reason to do something)
2) I can't find a job in IT that will progress my career
3) I said before I left that if I couldn't find an IT job then I'd leave
4) The idea of going home really appeals
5) I've got my enthusiasm back for doing some work (or earning money at least!)
6) I miss my car (no really)
7) I can always come back and see the bits I've missed
Trying to make it 10 points...
8) Miss my friends and family (oops, that should have been no.1 - sorry!)
9) I'll look really cool with my tan if I go back in winter
10) I want a decent beer

There. Lots of reasons to leave.
I'll be doing my tickets thisarvo, but it will still be a few weeks before I fly as there's the NZ trip to fit in and I still have to sell the van.

I'll be getting back home just in time for the short, wet, cold days and freezing nights. Joy.

Hope I haven't disappointed too many people by cutting the log short by 6 months. I really have been thinking about heading back for some time (months) and it is a real relief to have finally won the argument with myself. I can see a wild night at Brannigans coming on. Yeh baby, yeh!
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