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Sod Off Great Big Mission Round Oz

a travel blog by Koala Bear

My first foray into the world of backpacking; The big two year Australian road trip as seen through a haze of goon and a diet of cheap noodles and tins of baked beans.

ALL the photos from this trip can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ohfuckkit/collections/72157601753599384/
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9 Hours To Go

Didcot, United Kingdom

I'm still producing enough mucus and coughing up enough germs to worry about potential quarantining on landing but hey, still excited.

Apart from the risk of actual death I love flying. I get a buzz off hurtling through the air at 572mph in a pressurised steel tube but this flight will be the longest I’ve ever spent in a confined area apart from that time I went to see Lord Of The Rings.
Technically though that wasn’t 20 hours. It just felt like it.

Emma, however, is a nervous flyer. She panics so much that all reason leaves with the only parachute causing everyone within earshot to question exactly what they were thinking in getting onto a contraption that is heavier than air in the first place.
Of course an integeral part of flying is drinking. This is for Blood Thinning Medicinal Purposes only of course but I'm fairly sure that half a bottle of Jack Daniels would be sufficient to calm Emma down for a significant portion of the flight. If pouring it down her neck doesn't work I'll just belt her round the head with it.

Anyway, I'm off to work out how much excess baggage I'll be charged on my arse and to find enough sedative to keep Emma settled for the first 12 hours at least.

I'll email everyone from the other side :)

permalink written by  Koala Bear on May 10, 2006 from Didcot, United Kingdom
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Things That Can Kill You #1

Brisbane, Australia

Pedestrian crossings.

No really, they're lethal.
Just because the little man is green it doesn't mean you won't get mown down by a vehicle turning in from the side.

Haven't got anything more interesting to say right now as I was brutally force fed large quantities of alcohol for the first two nights we were here and the clubs don't close until five.

I'll be back once my brain cells have regenerated but despite the perpetual double vision and slurring I've been pondering the following; There is a noticeable lack of beggars in Brisbane and a disproportionate amount of kebab shops.


  • wanders off all mysterious like*

  • permalink written by  Koala Bear on May 15, 2006 from Brisbane, Australia
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    Bris Vegas

    Brisbane, Australia

    I’ve spent the last week racking my brains, trying to think of something suitably interesting to say about Brisbane (which is where I'm staying with John at the moment) but I’m not that good at fiction.
    With its high rise buildings, Big Issue sellers on every corner and throngs of suits it could easily be London if London were to have blue skies and, say, a man-made beach just sarf of the river.

    I like this beach on account of the lack of Potential Death you’d get at a normal beach. No fear of sharks or jellyfish, all you have to worry about are the hoards of small children but they’re easily dealt with with sticks.
    If we had a man made beach just outside of any major UK city it’d be riddled with hypodermics, dog shit and dead, frozen homeless people within weeks.

    Anyway, Emma’s in Perth visiting family at the moment and I’m waiting for Natwest to wire some money over to my Australian bank account so I can afford to do stuff apart from lie on a man-made beach in the middle of the city.
    I’ve been spending a lot of time at the gym as well though, having spent 20 hours being fed processed airline food followed by copious amounts of beer and kebabs on arrival in the country I felt compelled to hand over distressing amounts of cash to Fitness First. I may also have signed over a portion of my soul and one or more of my limbs, I didn’t read all the small print so I’m not sure.

    Culture Shock (Sort Of)
    Woolworths over here isn’t the same as in the UK, over here it’s a supermarket like Asda or the Co-Op. There’s not a plastic cricket set or a cheap sun lounger in sight, just aisles of food which I’ve never heard of.

    Kebabs are served to you by attractive young people in shops as opposed to fat, sweaty Greek men in vans. They are rolled and toasted (not badly packed and thrust at you in a polystyrene tray, slightly soggy and limp) and are in fact Food You Would Be Comfortable Consuming Whilst Sober.

    You can’t get beer down the local 7-11 (like Spar), you have to go to an offy but no one here knows what an offy is, they call them bottle shops and the ones I’ve been in so far all have a massive chiller unit where you can buy a carton of 24 bottles (and not them tiny little bottles that contain about a thimble of beer either) for about $35 which is about £15.
    Its no wonder drinking is a national pastime.

    permalink written by  Koala Bear on May 21, 2006 from Brisbane, Australia
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    Things That Are Impossible

    Brisbane, Australia

    Looking cool on a Bright yellow rental scooter.

    The shame.

    Alas other impossible things include making the most of a place this size without your own transport; Whilst "Just Up The Road" for a Brit means nipping round the corner to the offy for 2 litres of cider and a Kit Kat over here it means a two hour trek to the Arse End Of Nowhere.

    Hence the scooters. And although it was kinda good to get back on two wheels we definately deserved the unrelenting mocking we encountered on the way as we held up Miles of traffic, chugging along at 55kph, wondering if it was even going to make it up the next hill.
    Thankfully Emma was navigating, even though we managed to get lost several times (even on a long, straight road) if she'd let me loose on the map book we'd probably be huddled round a makeshift fire somewhere in the outback, fending off dingos with sticks.

    Despite two days riding round the furthest reaches of Nowhere we still haven't found a car but we'll be having another bash at that tomorrow, fingers crossed, its definately time to move on from Brisbane now. We gave up car hunting today and went to the driving range instead and apparently I suck at golf. This isn't a bad thing. I never looked good in argyle.

    And it actually rained today for the first time since we arrived. Typical British luck, it waits until we hire the slowest bikes in the world and ride into the bush before the heavens open.

    And yes, those are crocodiles on the front of that scooter.

  • cringes*

  • permalink written by  Koala Bear on May 28, 2006 from Brisbane, Australia
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    On The Move

    Surfers Paradise, Australia

    So this is our home until they forcibly remove me from the country, it’s small (11ft long) but it’s perfect for us. It’s got pretty much everything we need including a TV so we can get hopelessly addicted to the Aussie Big Brother, a gas stove so Emma can cook and I can stand behind her poking stuff and generally getting in the way, a fridge to keep the beer healthy veg and skimmed milk cool and plenty of storage yet still only just enough space to house all my Stuff.

    And yes, it has net curtains.

    Stop laughing. We need them for privacy.

    And no more embarrassing yellow scooters for us, we now have a car.

    Whilst it is a Ford Falcon it’s a sedan and therefore not exactly like the one they used in Wolf Creek. So that’s comforting then.

    Ford Falcon: $2600
    Car Insurance: $476
    Caravan: $3000
    Feeding The Waste Pipe Into The Tent Of The Scousers Next Door: Priceless*

    *No we haven’t, but how tempting?

    permalink written by  Koala Bear on June 2, 2006 from Surfers Paradise, Australia
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    Wet N' Wild Water World

    Surfers Paradise, Australia

    One of the best things about being a Brit in Australia is the fact that my idea of cold differs completely from everyone else’s which means we get to enjoy water parks in what is officially winter while the locals are curled up on their sofas clutching a Cup-A-Soup and shivering.

    No queues to Battle through and sunshine for most of the day but we're both knackered now, I don't think we've ever climbed up so many stairs. Over and over again. I'll dream of stairs tonight which will make a change from dreaming about bloody spiders.

    And the best thing about water parks?
    You get to play in the sun and the water all day with no risk of sand in yer crack. Fantastic.

    Photos will be added when I get them developed, well I wasn’t about to take my £300 digital camera down a slide called Mach 5 now was I.

    permalink written by  Koala Bear on June 7, 2006 from Surfers Paradise, Australia
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    Went Snorkelling...

    Surfers Paradise, Australia

    Saw some fish. So that was nice then.

    I’d dragged my arse out of bed at some god awful hour leaving Emma tucked up so I could paddle my way out to an island in a kayak and breathe though a plastic tube for an hour or so. But it was worth it, I didn't see any dolphins or anything like that but I've definitely got a taste for this underwater lark now and there’ll always be a piece of me on Wave Break Island.

    Mainly because I stepped on a sharp Stone and took a bit of skin off my foot. Ouch

    permalink written by  Koala Bear on June 8, 2006 from Surfers Paradise, Australia
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    Big Things #1

    Surfers Paradise, Australia

    I totally forgot about this guy until I was sorting my photos out the other day;

    Wet N Wild on the Gold Coast, Queensland, is guarded by this ever so slightly sinister kangeroo.

    You wouldn't dare pee in the pool with this monster watching over you.

    permalink written by  Koala Bear on June 8, 2006 from Surfers Paradise, Australia
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    Surfers Paradise: Exactly What It Says On The Tin

    Surfers Paradise, Australia

    Arrived: 31/05/06
    Left: 10/06/06

    Firstly I discovered that a 90 minute fat burning, arse reducing walk along the beach is about 86% more fun than a 90 minute fat burning workout at Fitness First.
    I also discovered that attempting to body board (like a poofy version of surfing where you don’t actually have to stand up) at somewhere that warrants the name "Surfers Paradise" is one of the best forms of resistance training there is.
    It’s also a fantastic way to nearly drown and increase your salt intake by up to 230%.

    Surfers is pretty much like any seaside resort, overpriced and packed with souvenir shops and tourists. There’s plenty to do if you have the cash such as Dreamworld, Wet N Wild, Movie World and Sea World but entry averages about $60 each and while it’s only roughly £25 it mounts up if you try to do everything and we’re a bit skint now.

    We only intended to spend a week here but we’ve had a couple of issues with the caravan so we’ve mostly been waiting around for repair men (ok so we’ve been waiting around on the beach in the sun but hey) on account of the fact the bloke who sold us the caravan sold it us without a Safety Certificate and the brakes don’t work so if anyone knows anyone in the Brisbane/Gold Coast area who will break legs for cash, let me know.

    We commemorated our last night in Surfers with a BBQ. In the rain of course, I’m still British after all.

    This is me throwing another shrimp on the barbie, mate.

    Join me next week when I shall be attempting to tie my kangaroo down, sport.

    What else can I say about Surfers? Oh, that’s right;
    Hot sunshine… blue skies… sandy, clean beaches… clear, warm sea. I *heart* the Gold Coast.

    Hate me?
    Meh, I’ll get over it.

    permalink written by  Koala Bear on June 9, 2006 from Surfers Paradise, Australia
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    Far North Coast & Hinterland, New South Wales

    Byron Bay, Australia

    Australia is so huge that when they changed the names of everything into things that the white man could pronounce they ran out of creativity and just got literal.
    Minion: What shall we call this bit that is right at the very furthest north of New South Wales?
    Captain: Well, we shall call that the Far North Coast.
    Minion: But what about this bit here that is still northerly yet not quite as northerly as the far north?
    Captain: Let us henceforth refer to this area as the North Coast.
    Minion: Captain, there is more. What about this part that which is positioned in the middle of the coast of New South Wales?
    Captain: Hmm, this is a difficult one. I feel we should christian this bit… Central Coast…

    You get the picture.

    Byron Bay – Most Easterly Point Of Mainland Australia
    Arrived: 10/06/06
    Left: 21/06/06

    You know how in Alaska they have about 50 different words for snow? Well in the UK we have 290 different words for rain but only one word can describe the rain we had in Byron Bay; Torrential.
    It’s the kind of unrelenting rain that highlights all kinds of exciting things such as the fact that the wipers on the car don’t wipe the water away so much as move it around a bit and the caravan leaks in two places.

    Byron Bay is beautiful, it’s a small town on the coast that attracts surfers and hippies from all over the world.
    You can watch whales from the lighthouse, go snorkelling round Julian Rocks (about 3km out from the beach) or surf with dolphins.

    We stayed here for just over week, I wanted to learn to dive here but not enough people wanted to do the course so I missed out. We stayed for longer than we intended to as we found out that if we wanted to work in licensed premises in New South Wales or Victoria we needed a Responsible Service Of Alcohol certificate so we hung around to do the course.

    A trip to Byron Bay isn’t complete without a beer at Cheeky Monkeys, the locals will try and put you off going there but don’t listen to them, they must just have taste and class or something.

    Ballina – Has A Big Prawn

    Bow down to your crustacean master.

    Nimbin – Cannabis Capital Of Australia
    Despite the fact the only thing I inhale into my lungs these days is fresh air and occasionally a bit of salt water during my sporadic attempts at snorkelling, Nimbin was still a wicked place to spend a few hours.
    It’s small but has huge personality, once the haze of incense and pot smoke clears you’re met with a tiny little village where every other person squints at you through swollen, red eyes and wonders if you would like to purchase one of their "good, strong marijuana cookies."

    Anyway, I'm off to resist the urge to grow dreddlocks, wear knitted jumpers and wander round smelling of patchouli with a dog on a piece of string.

    permalink written by  Koala Bear on June 21, 2006 from Byron Bay, Australia
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    I live life on the edge.

    Provided I'm harnessed to a safety rope and there's a team of trained professionals on hand to make sure I don't fall off.

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