A 171-day adventure by Gone walkabout
  • Day171

    Adventures with boards and balls

    February 6, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Wednesday saw me head back down to Sydney for one last visit with my Rachel before I head off into the unknown continent of Asia next week. It was a fairly uneventful journey back, hour or so drive down the beautiful “Captain Cook Highway” to Cairns, a relatively cramped (3 big shoulder blokes sat together) flight down to Sydney and then a quick train ride out to my airbnb.

    Thursday Morning I made my way back out to Manly Beach for my second surf lesson, it went a lot better than my first. Due to the high tide we spent more time paddling out to deeper waters and then surfing back in… and yes I was actually surfing at times… standing up for seconds at a time, steering the board and even consciously choosing when to get off instead of falling on a few occasions. I also happened to notice a group of extremely toned lads playing volleyball near where we were surfing who were all wearing matching St Andrews Cross Speedo’s… it was actually the Scottish sevens rugby team!

    Rugby was the theme for the next few days, Friday morning I made my way down to Alianz Stadium for day 1 of the HSBC world rugby Sevens to watch the England women do their thing! Its a nice enough stadium, the weather was all right… the beer and food were expensive oh and the England team suuuuuuuuuuuuuucked! They lost 2 out of the 3 games they played against teams they should have beaten and never really looked interested.

    Saturday was intentionally a very quiet day involving very little activity and plenty of napping because at 11:30pm I donned my old faithful white shirt with my favourite red rose that always makes me feel a foot taller and headed out to meet Rachel and on to the Casino (only bar allowed to be open all night) to watch the opening weekend of the six nations!! COME ON ENGLAND!! we spent the next six hours surrounded by various nationalities of rugby fans cheering on Scotland (well I was , Rachel not so much) and England to victory! We stumbled out into the dawn sunlight at about 6am after a great night, knowing that we would be meeting up a mere 5 and a half hours later to see if the England Sevens boys could do the business!

    There was a minor delay when I slept through… my alarm, a couple of messages from Rachel oh and 7 missed calls…. whoops…. so yeah we missed the first England game against Argentina but thankfully the boys managed to get the win done without us and we headed down to cheer them on for the semi-final and eventually the final as well! As sevens always is, it was a great party with great fans, the especially fun and loud ones being from Fiji and Kenya and England played really well and were unfortunate to get soundly beaten by a great South African team who were out for revenge from their loss to us in the pool stage. I could have also done without it being nearly 40 degrees for most of the day as I'm pretty sure I sweated through every piece of clothing I was wearing and probably lost more weight than a F1 drive during the Bahrain GP!
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  • Day165

    Adventures of a certified diver

    January 31, 2017 ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Tuesday was the my last day in port Douglas and my second day out on the boat where I would be assessed on my skills and either PADI certified or not. The day started out very much like my first day on the boat, with a 6.15am walk down to the dock, quick hello to all the crew and quick intros to the other passengers for the day. I had however taken some travel sickness tablets to try and stave off the condition that put a dampener on what was otherwise a spectacular first days diving.

    Unfortunately the wind was up and the ocean was quite a bit more choppy and the pills had little to no effect. Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t puking my guts up and it wasn’t the worst I’ve ever felt but it was enough to lessen my enjoyment of the day. I did however get both of my dives done with much more confidence than the day before and successfully got PADI certified! I also got to take my camera down on my last dive and made a little video:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/ul9155bwolfpzcz/2nd Dive.mp4?dl=0

    Whilst I am really happy I went out and did the diving and saw some spectacular things, the issues I had with the boat, which I am convinced are inner ear related (as it was more than 24 hours on both occasions before I felt completely back to normal) do mean that I will seriously think twice before doing any more.

    Port Douglas is a beautiful place with a great feel and I highly recommend it to anyone that finds them self in that part of the world. Again I made a video of my time there:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/c9f1dr0bfhg5lvy/port douglas whole.mp4?dl=0
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  • Day164

    Adventures in the Tropical North

    January 30, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    Thursday was a full on recovery day, my head was spinning from the boat and the big old drinking session that me and Jess put in so nothing much to report except if you buy a roast/rotisary chicken from a supermarket over here it comes full of stuffing… come on England get it together they are showing us up!

    Friday I took the advice of a few people I’d met and headed north to a town called Mossman and their spectacular Gorge. It was amazing, tropical rainforests, clear fresh water rivers and waterfalls that you can go swimming in and amazing views. I made a short video : https://www.dropbox.com/s/ze0jkki0xvler84/walk in mossman.mp4?dl=0

    Saturday I thought I would go an explore “4 mile beech”, it is as its name suggests a 4 mile stretch of beech and in a stroke of genius local planning laws have not only restricted building on the beach any building adjoining the beach must be completely hidden by the tree line and set a fair way back. This means that the views are spectacular, the only issue being that during summer months the sea is full of stingers (Pretty sure that just meant jelly fish but I felt silly asking as everyone seemed to know) so the only place you can swim is in a netted area which was a bit small and the water was pretty murky. After a decent walk down the beech and back, a dip in the water and a walk back to the hotel I took advantage of the pool to cool off and then lay and read my book before heading into town for a steak lunch and an afternoon watching rugby 7’s down the pub.

    After the England rugby boys put on a great performance on Saturday I was inspired to head back down to the pub for Sunday afternoon and watch the rest of the tournament, I was later joined by Michelle (My dive instructor) and 2 of her friends, who's names I would almost certainly remember if me and Michelle hadn't drank through the end of the rugby and then for the whole of the Australian Tennis open final between Federer and Nadal… I remember the match being exciting but could give you 0 specifics…

    Unsurprisingly Monday was another chilled out day, bit of pool swimming and a lot of laying on the sofa watching movies, trying to build myself up for my second dive day on Tuesday.
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  • Day160

    Adventures under the Sea

    January 26, 2017, Coral Sea ⋅ 🌙 27 °C

    So after a day of learning my basic skills in the swimming pool it was time to get out on the boat and give it a go in the ocean!

    The day started off early with a walk down to the dock at 6:15 am for a 6:30 departure, that time in the morning all of the bats were just getting settled back into the trees after a night out foraging and doing whatever big ass fruit bats do at night. To those of you that haven’t been to Australia you might be surprised to hear about how many bats live over here, even in Sydney you get quite a few but up north the trees are absolutely stuffed with them during the days and if you’re out and about as the sun goes down you will be treated to the sight of them all taking flight to go do batty type stuff. There are hundreds if not thousands oh and by the way “It is one of the largest bat species in the world, and has a wingspan of more than 1 m”!!

    I got down to the boat and met up with Michelle (my instructor from the day before), Brett (Californian Marine Biologist and Photographer) and the captain… who I’m pretty sure was called Pete (Australian, Ex Navy Mechanic) and after a quick coffee and brief introductions to the rest of the group we were on our way. The ABC dive boat is a really nice but small boat so there were only 10 of us total Including the crew. (A dad and his 2 kids who were out to snorkel the reef, a young couple from Sydney and the delightful Jess who I was destined to spend a night on the town with but didn’t get to talking to until after the diving was done for the day)

    Little but important sidebar here, Michelle is an English Girl about my age and after a bit of talking we discovered that we were both big rugby fans. I went on to tell her my rugby story, if we’ve ever talked about rugby you’ve heard it… My first proper rugby game that I was allowed to go to on my own, when I was about 13/14 and I took a load of mates, boys and girls to watch the cup final between Newcastle (my team and a good few hundred miles from the ground) and Harlequins (based a few hundred meters away from Twickenham where the final was held), so needless to the 75,000 seat crowd was 85%+ Opposition fans and all I knew at this point of my life was football fans, riots and pitch invasions from the news. With no time left on the clock Johnny Wilkinson scores a try for Newcastle in the corner right in front of me and then goes on to kick the conversion winning the cup! I am understandably going mental, jumping, shouting, cheering, when one of the 6’3” brick out house harlequins fans in the row behind me puts a mitt on my shoulder… at this moment I’m anticipating getting seven shades kicked out of me and I turn around very slowly to look up… way up… at the man behind me who’s teams defeat I was celebrating quite enthusiastically only seconds earlier. He looks down at me straight in the eye and then offers a huge grin and a huge hand for me to shake and says “wow, what a game!”…. that was when I fell in love with rugby and its supporters, anyway as I said if we have ever talked rugby before you’ve heard this story, it was during my usual telling of this story that Michelle not only remembers the game I’m describing but she was there!

    Aaaaaaaaanyway back to the boat, as we head out at a slow pace we’re given a quick safety instruction by Brett and told that we will be heading about an hour and a half out to sea before dive 1, moving to a second location, completing dive 2 and then time for lunch on board and some snorkling if we wanted it. Now its safe to say at this point I’m a little bit nervous… maybe a smidgen more than little… for followers of my blog or facebook you will know I’ve not had much to do with the sea/ocean/any open water and now I'm sat on a boat with a load of strangers about to be dropped into the ocean 8 miles off the coast with a tank of compressed air and some flippers… thankfully I was distracted from how I was feeling by the need to complete a short written test for my PADI qualification which took around half the journey out there and before I knew it we were anchored up and it was time to go in… Michelle told me afterwards I looked really calm and took it all in my stride… if only she could have heard the panicked swear words flying around inside my head.

    After successfully getting into the water and inflating my BCD (buoyancy control device…air filled jacket), Michelle signalled it was time to get under the water and demonstrate some of the skills I had learned the day before under the ocean… on my way down the first time i had to half fill my mask with water and then demonstrate I could clear it, it all went pretty well until I took my first breath after clearing and realised I had left a small amount of water in my mask, I took an involuntarily breath in through my nose and the panic really set in. After what felt like an eternity of not being able to catch my breath again I signalled to Michelle I need to get back up to the surface. All credit to her she managed to calm me down a little with just hand gestures and then swim slowly back to the surface. After a short while on the surface I caught my breath, gave myself a good talking to, manned up and told Michelle I was ready to go down again. I’m so glad I did, once I had relaxed into it, done my practical demonstrations and descended down to about 14 meters, Michelle took me on a tour of a spectacular section of the great barrier reef, where we spotted Rays, Sea Cucumbers, spectacular fish, Eels and Barracuda, all of which Michelle would point out to me and gesture for the type of animal I was thoroughly enjoying myself… and then…Michelle turns to me with as much of a massive grin as can be done with a regulator in your mouth and real excitement in her eyes and puts her hand up to her head to make the symbol for fin… in an unmistakeable attempt to tell me she had spotted a shark!! I turned to were she was pointing and signalling we should swim and sure enough, just a couple dozen feet away was a sodding shark! I am not at all ashamed to say I shat myself! Michelle later told me that by the time she turned around to check on me (only a couple of seconds) not only had I fallen further back than any other time during the dive but I had also Ascended a good few meters (this was not concious, this was my sub-concious saying… ERM no thanks I don’t want to follow you and swim towards a shark!). Michelle and I discussed this shark in great detail that day and the next couple of times we saw each other and I have slowly come round to the realisation that when she says it was just a wee baby reef shark she's probably telling the truth and the huge man eating great white I saw may have been somewhat of an over-reaction on behalf of my imagination.

    After the dive and back on the boat before the second dive I began to feel a little sea sick and unfortunately despite the wonderful things I saw on both dives it really put a downer on the whole experience. Having reflected on it I think the reason I reacted so badly to both days on the boat, despite taking sea sickness pills on the second may have had something to do with a problem I had with Labyrinthitis a few years ago that may have permanently impacted my inner ear.

    On the way back in I got talking to the aforementioned Jess about what she had seen, when she had done her PADI course back in America and her trip which she was doing alone in 3 weeks from New York through Auckland, Sydney, Port Douglas and was heading on to the west coast. We got on really well and as it turned out we were staying at the same place and had both accepted Michelle’s invitation to go for a beer a few hours after the dive we would walk down together. I think its safe to say we clicked instantly, she is a really nice girl with a cool attitude towards life and over the next few hours we talked about pretty much everything from how my travel was going, the fact that her girlfriend had turned down her offer to join her but that wasn’t the end of the world as she liked being alone, my love of America but dislike of new York, both of our childhoods, future plans…everything. By the end of the night we had become firm friends and it was unfortunate that she was heading off the next day but we became facebook friends and only decided not to get married so I could have an American Green Card for 2 reasons, 1 I don’t want to live in New York and 2 she’s gay and has a girlfriend… C'est La Vie, I’ve mad a new friend and if for whatever reason I loose my senses and go back to new York someone to visit!
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  • Day158

    adventures from 30,000 ft to <2 meters

    January 24, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Yesterday I flew up to Cairns from Sydney, Australian domestic airport security is freaking hilarious! So I got the train out to the airport and found myself a self check-in machine, tapped in my name and destination...here's your boarding pass...no ID needed? Huh, ok. Walk over to the self bag check scan my boarding card and drop off my bag...no ID needed yet...huh sure. After a quick smoke I head over to the "security" area, put most of my stuff in my bag and head through the metal detector, that goes off... Anything in your pockets sir? Erm cigarettes, passport (not that anyone seems to care), can you go back through and put them through the machine, as I do, back through, goes off again, and the security guards reaction ... "you're alright mate, on you go"....ecsqueeze me? Baking powder?...ok I'll be off into the airport then...wanna see my ID at least? No? Ok... After a quick breakfast I had to the gate where I show....just my boarding pass....I'm now on a3 hour flight across Australia because I knew someone called Stewart Jardine was flying to cairns oh and I repeatedly set off a metal detector and didn't even get wanded or patted down...love it

    After picking up a car I drove an hour up north to port Douglas, absolutely spectacular drive which I cut into a mini video ... https://goo.gl/photos/JbxKwMcZjvSvaDuYA

    Today I checked into the dive centre for my first lesson.... which by the way required a lot more forms and ID showing...and headed off with my instructor to pick up some dive gear and head to a swimming pool for my introduction. It was a good session, breathing underwater, filling, removing and clearing my mask, establishing buoyancy, removing and replacing weight belts and bcd(buoyancy control device) and falling to remember acronyms BWRAF (Bruce Willis ruins all films) ....as I write this I'm still struggling Rico remember...gonna go with breathing, weights, releases.....and.....and, something....and final check...I'll Google it later. Oh and also there's another one I didn't remember that I'll also Google...soooo yea I'm pretty confident for my boat trip at 6.30am tomorrow!
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    Jamie Jardine

    What is the thankyou thing? Wdym baking powder and could u use more commas because dads blind I have to read this aloud 😂😂 jk

    1/27/17Reply
    Gone walkabout

    It's hotel bribery, chocolate bar, to try and get me to fill in a review. The "exsqueeze me, baking powder" thing is a reference to a film you're probably too annoyingly young to have seen called Wayne's world

    1/27/17Reply
    Jamie Jardine

    I've seen that but I don't remember the line

    1/28/17Reply
     
  • Day150

    Adventures in Long ass drives

    January 16, 2017 in Australia ⋅ 🌙 26 °C

    Today I woke up thinking I had a 3/4 hour drive to my overnight stop in Canberra, to but it mildly I was dismayed to learn that i had at some point decided that it was a good idea to do a a seven hour drive today... and not the fun kinda driving I had been doing, boring, motorway, average scenery driving... I would have had a look round Canberra but it was already 5pm by the time i got here, I hadnt eaten, not heard anything particularly interesting sooooooooo pizza hut, couple beers and chill out for a 7.30am start to get the car back to Sydney before mid-day ( I know from past experience they will charge you for a full day if you're a few minutes late), so wish me luck!.... *update* I did wake up at 7.30, I did make the drive and my total distance for the week is...............2,122KMRead more

  • Day149

    Adventures in Melbourne

    January 15, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Thursday morning I drove the last few hours over to Melbourne and picked up the keys to my airbnb for the long weekend, after a bit of driving around I managed to find a cute little 1 bedroom apartment in the North Melbourne area and started making plans to catch up with Wayne (for those of you that don’t know Wayne is an old work friend from GE… and Wayne if you’re reading this I know u totally just got all excited about me calling you a friend ;-) ) . For some reason, possibly because I was talking to an English friend I made the decision to wear jeans instead of shorts when we headed out for a beer at around 5pm… what a numpty, a sweaty sweaty numpty. I met up with Wayne outside his place just opposite the Queen Victoria market after a bit of walking in the heat and an unconditioned Tram ride and Wayne being delightfully honest and forthright as I remembered made sure that one of his first comments was “JESUS you are sweaty! That's disgusting!” aww missed you too bud. The Queen Victoria market, for those of you that don’t know is a major landmark, the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the many many places I didn’t end up going to in what turned out to be a bit of a long weekend piss up…. oops

    After a couple of beers and a catch up at Wayne’s we headed out and walked down Elizabeth street towards the waterfront in search of a cold beer and a good catch up spot. We would have made it about 3/4 blocks in 30 degree heat with me wearing jeans when I decided to indulge one of my favourite new city past times and visit a “British” pub ( Charles Dickens Tavern for anyone that's interested), compared to Canada’s attempt this was pretty spot on, dodgy décor, sport on TV’s, Grumpy old Cojers sitting around moaning, I even got a relatively decent pint of London pride… The spell was only broken briefly when in a super thick Aussie accent some woman stated to her family “Look at this: bangers, mash and Gravy… that sounds disgusting”… silly people. Also side note, I did not enjoy the graffitied picture of Chris Robshaw when on the same poster Rooney’s ugly mug was staring at me…

    After a couple in the air conditioned little pub we decided we should find something a bit more Aussie and continued our walk down to the waterfront. We found a cool bar (Arbory Bar and Eatery) with a nice water view and tanqueray as a house gin…Ideal. A good few rounds and a decent amount of catching up later Wayne was remembering why he didn’t used to try and keep up with me when drinking and I was getting tired after a few days of driving at the such like and we decided to part ways for the night with an agreement that we would have a much bigger night on the Friday when Rachel got into town.

    After a bit of a lay in and despite a forecast of rain I decided I would make the 30 minute walk up to the Melbourne Zoo. As many of you know, and even more of you mock me for, despite my 6’3”, 30 year old bald guy exterior, when it comes to a few things I am a giant child, nothing more so than Animals and Melbourne zoo did not disappoint. Melbourne zoo felt spacious, the enclosures seemed large and well kept, it didn’t feel like they were constantly trying to sell you food, drinks and souvenirs (I’m looking at you London Zoo) and there were loads of animals. Check out my video here : https://www.dropbox.com/s/86ewh7zeowfqngz/melb zoo.mp4?dl=0 .I spent a good few hours there until my camera battery ran down, the drizzle turned into rain and I got peckish.
    Friday night saw the arrival of Rachel (I’m trying to train myself not to refer to her as Rach as it turns out she genuinely hates that) into Melbourne, I picked her up from the airport and after a couple of warm up beers in the flat we decided to head out for a night on the town with Wayne. We decided we would start with a place that had been recommended by both Aiden & Craig called Cookie (they claim its Thai food and cocktails)… we however could find no sign of the place despite standing right next to where google maps claimed it was! We instead wondered around the corner to the Exford Arms ( a place that would basically become our new local for the duration of the trip after we discovered reasonable drinks prices, free pool and free video jukebox (mostly 80’s power ballads) ooh and it was open until 4am! I wont bore you with the details but it was Wayne, Rachel, Wayne's friend Aimeree and me, pints, shorts, spritzers, shots and bombs, followed by a hungry jacks (its just burger king Australia, why u being silly with the name).

    After a well deserved lay in Saturday started ( I say started it was about mid-day) with a trip over to the Casino for some lunch, drinks and a bit of gambling. Lunch was good, drinks were expensive and the blackjack was going well until the following happened (if you don’t know blackjack skip to the next paragraph). I was down to $80 remaining and felt a good vibe so went for a $40 hand, I got 11 and the dealer was showing a 3! as a fine Australian gentleman I’ve known for a long time says “winner winner chicken dinner”, the only decision left… to double or not to double… he’s got a 3… its doubling time… it went downhill quickly, $80 on the table and my next and final card… a 2…dealer… draws to 18… time to go home… god I hate gambling, mainly cos I suck! To quote a little kiwi friend “I’m not saying Stewart’s unlucky but if he fell in a barrel full of tits he’d come up sucking his own thumb”

    After a consolatory pint and cigarette in the casino “beer garden” we decided to go for a walk down the south bank and to meet up with Wayne at our new local, maybe stopping for 1/2 on the way…. Again I wont bore you with details, I’ll just say Arbory Bar and Eatery, Young and Jackson Pub, The Carlton Club and the Exford! We er’d on the side of caution after that and picked up a take-out from china town which was very authentic and quite tasty.

    I have to say Melbourne is a beautiful city with lovely people and a great vibe and I would definitely visit again some time. It definitely has a bit of a hipster vibe… which explains soooooo much about Aiden! And was at its most evident at the place me and Rach stopped for lunch on my way to drop her to the airport where my pulled pork sandwich was not held together with a toothpick, but a needle-less syringe full of sauce…
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    What is the syringe all about

    1/18/17Reply
    Gone walkabout

    hipsters.... go figure... it was full of sauce... the menu made no reference to and the burger was not named after any sort of medical thing... just.... hipsters

    1/18/17Reply
     
  • Day145

    Adventures with a View

    January 11, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    Wednesday started off with a breakfast with a view (see photo) to give me the energy for a few hours driving after an interrupted night of sleep (no idea why). The café was just round the corner from my airbnb and I was hoping for some sort of view from a place called waterside café but jesussssssss! I mean... look at it! almost made up for the fact that the coffee tasted burnt and all of the fried things in my huge breakfast tasted like the same flavour of lard... I genuinely felt really sick and didn't finish it but being British paid in full and told them how much i enjoyed it... god we're a strange breed.

    As I headed towards the state border I final understood why its called New South Wales, if you ignore the type of foliage and you know... the sunshine it really could be Wales down there with rolling hills and beautiful views.

    Heading into Victoria it was immediately obvious that the state had decided that the first few KM were the best place to set out their stall when it comes to things you should not do on their roads... all the things you would expect but advertised on huge billboards with massive slogans like the double-wide billboard that just said "BUCKLE UP OR FEEL THE PAIN", or one of the many "DONT BE A TOSSER, report anyone littering" billboards and my favourite uber subtle "only a little bit over? YOU BLOODY IDIOT" ... not a joke, genuine wording!

    I'm not entirely sure of the landscape or area i was driving through but just after getting into Victoria i was beset with drissle and for the first time since leaving the UK i saw a temperature gauge read sub 15 degrees... in Victoria's defence i think i may have been up a mountain/big hill situation as by the time i got to Lakes Entrance it was mid twenties and sunny again.

    Lakes entrance is a charming little seaside village with spectacular views and i highly recommend it as a stop for anyone passing through the area... I would however also recommend against staying at the "Absolute Lakes Entrance Motel", it would appear that the word Absolute refers to the fact it is completely and utterly at one end of lakes entrance...up a steep 1.5km hill from absolutely anything else or perhaps the fact that it has an absolutely familiar vibe... if you've watched Psycho recently...
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  • Day144

    Adventures in the trees

    January 10, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Tuesday morning started with a very steep drive up to Illawarra to do the "Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk" which was absolutely spectacular! made a little video:https://www.dropbox.com/s/ssthzll3sk0shto/walking in the trees.mp4?dl=0

    It is a series of suspended platforms high up in the mountains with spectacular views that was well worth the short detour before heading further down the beautiful coastline stopping at a lovely café for lunch on my way to stay with Stuart, Manda and their 3 dogs at my next airbnb. It was a lovely welcome from all of them especially the 3 dogs (golden retriever, blonde lab crossed with something along the lines of a greyhound and for very obvious reasons my favourite a lovely black lab).

    I hung out with all of them and learned about Manda and Stu's adventures moving between Australia and Surrey over the years and was massively impressed with Stuart's upbeat and positive attitude with his relatively recent (last few years) diagnosis of MS and the fact that he has found a dive instructor who specialises in disabled diving so he can continue to scuba!

    I don't know if it was the fact that I offered one of my beers to Stu or the amount of time i spent playing with the dogs (totally selfish on my part but manda and stu seemed to appreciate it) but manda was very insistent that I join them for dinner, lovely bit of Thai curry.
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  • Day143

    Adventures in the Ocean

    January 9, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Time to get on the road again! Monday morning I picked up a car (Mazda 4 by 4 type thingy) and got on the road south into Heathcote National Park.

    First up... driving on the left hand side of the road... haven't done that in a while! secondly, the middle of Sydney was not the best place to get started as its pretty sodding busy and oh that's right it has some weird underground motorway thing called the distributor... obviously I'm a very macho and confident person and was in no way crapping myself for the first 45 minutes of my driving experience...

    after 45 minutes I got out of the city and into the national park...WOW! absolutely spectacular area of national beauty as the road weaves through hills and forests and if like me you take a side road off for 15-20 absolutely spectacular beaches!

    I went down to Garie Beach for no other reason than I had picked it out at random from google maps! After a little look around I decided that the beautiful white sands and clear ocean was too much to resist and reassuring myself that I would never see anyone there again I got my board shorts on and the man boobs out! it was time to go play in the sea! I have given this some thought and I honestly cannot remember the last time I swam in the sea... I must have done it at some point but I do not remember it! It was a lot of fun, the waves were pretty decent so it was more of a wade out and try not to get knocked over while jumping through them than a swim but I enjoyed it! next time I need some sort of surf / boogie board!

    I did capture a little video (don't worry, not a man boob in sight): https://www.dropbox.com/s/ete4asdhvy7ixqs/faffing about in the sea.mp4?dl=0

    after drying myself off and attempting to remove all the sand... and failing, I got back on the road! I spent the rest of the day shaking off bits of sand and driving down to Warilla, stopping briefly for a schnitzel dinner (what the Australian obsession with schnitzel is I don't know but its on every single menu!) and on to my airbnb for the night.
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