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The Smug Adventures Down Under

a travel blog by Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin

This is part two of our one year trip.
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Auckland, New Zealand

Apparently New Zealand is cold, very cold, particularly when you disembark a plane inapproriately dressed in flip flops. Rumours of a lack of central heating were quickly confirmed as we checked into a freezing dorm room in the heart of Auckland. Plans to buy new clothes were thwarted when jet lagged and exhausted from an over night journey, a short nap turned into an eight hour sleep-a-thon and day turned into night. To warm our cockles we sampled our first taste of southern hemisphere box wine known as 'goon'. We found a particularly pleasing brand in the form of Country (the cheapest)- no fridge was required in our dorm room. Being in an English speaking country vastly improved our friendship making fortunes in the Globe club that night. So much so in fact that we awoke the next day to a phonecall from Kiwi David reminding us that he was picking us up at 8.00 for Katherine's 21st birthday party. As a result we had to arrange our second date with Tako from Tonga for midnight at Lenin Bar at the Viaduct, after the party had finished. One hitch in making these plans however, was the need for proper shoes to gain entry into Lenin Bar. Unfortunately trek shoes and flip flops would not suffice. Still not quite over our jetlag, we missed shopping hours (9-5.30) and as a result all had to buy matching $5 sparkly shoes. We warned our new friends of this fashion faux pas in advance to avoid needless embarassment. The 21st party turned out to be a fairly intimate family affair, luckily the free bar soon eased our discomfort. Things began to get surreal when the speeches started, to say our presence there was random is an understatement. We had never met Katherine before in our lives yet forever she will have a photo of four English girls, in matching gold pumps, sipping wine (at her Father's expense) in her special 21st birthday photo album. Midnight came, date two began and we spent the rest of the evening at the Viaduct, the trendy harbourside drinking area.
The rest of our time in Auckland was primarily spent shopping for warm clothes and walking up Mount Eden for views of the city. A lovely few hours were spent over coffee with some local relatives of Erin's, the Potts family, who were quizzed, notepads at the ready, for all their New Zealand advice. Last job in Auckland was to pick up our hire car, Stanley, who was to transport us around the country for the next six weeks.
Clear blue skies and sunshine beat down on us as we made our way north to the Bay of Islands. We stayed in Paihia which despite being the busiest town in the area, was still tranquil and quiet and in an incredibly beautiful setting. Plans to further explore were temporarily halted when Stanley incurred a flat tyre during our second day with him. Luckily for us a heroic man in a ute came to our rescue and a quick change over to the spare took place. Back on the road we visited Ninety Mile Beach (well the 1st mile anyway). Colly spent a lovely morning revisiting an early memory from her days of living in New Zealand at Waitangi Treaty Ground where in 1840 the English and the Maoris formally agreed to live as one people.
One thing we quickly noticed about New Zealand was that it is near impossible to turn a corner without being dumbstruck by yet another incredible view, bays and lakes sneak out of nowhere. The advantage of having our own car means we have the freedom to stop when and where we like for the beautiful views and or comfort breaks.

We returned to Auckland via the Waipoua Kauri forest where we saw some very big Kauri trees, 'the daddy ' had an impressive girth of 5 metres diameter and was 51 metres high. Back in Auckland it seemed that Stanley's bad karma returned to sting us one more time. Having been informed that we could park in any space until 8am we slipped into a row of cars. Upon innocently returning to collect her golden shoes Murph found that Stanley was nowhere to be seem. After frantically scouring the nearby streets, a kind passer-by eventually informed her that a white car had just been towed. It appeared that we had inadvertently parked in a bus stop (it could happen to anyone).

The car was well and truly in the compound and would remain there all night and so we headed back to the Globe to drown our sorrows. As Erin smugly napped, Murph, Colly and Tay traipsed across the city to track down Stanley. After an hour of fruitless searching, they eventually discovered him next to the prison, what a lovely area. Elaborate plans to flirt our way out of a fine were dashed when we were confronted by a woman brandishing a pre-issued fine. $130 later we drove Stanley back to the hire place and traded him in for an automatic with a much needed tape-deck. Hopes are high that Sir Cliff Richard will be better behaved as he leads us South to Rotorua.

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on August 5, 2006 from Auckland, New Zealand
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Pardon you!

Napier, New Zealand

One thing you cannot fail to notice about Rotorua, is it's eggy aroma. The stench hits you the minute you arrive. This isn't because it's inhabitants eat too many baked beans, it is due to the fact that it is built on one of the world's most geothermally active areas. A walking tour lead us along a route dotted with pools of bubbling, sulphurous mud from which steam rose creating an eerie atmosphere. Later on we stumbled across St Faith's, a charming Anglican church built on Catholic land. We were met by the proud caretaker, eager to tell us the history of the church and the story behind the beautiful window which originated in the Isle of Mann. Looking out onto the lake, it gives the illusion of Christ walking on water. We woke especially early one morning to watch the Lady Knox geyser erupt at Waipapa Geothermal Wonderland. For those of you not in the know, a geyser is like a miniature volcano that spouts boiling water into the air. In this case, the eruption is induced with a soap-like substance at 10:15 sharp every day. The rest of the wonderland boasted many geothermal treats for the eyes and nose, the piece de resistance being a large flourescent green lake. Erin Charlotte Gillham (BSc Honours Psychology) concerned us all when after having read out a list of chemicals that were responsible for the lake's vivid colour, remarked, "it almost looks like there's chemicals in it."
We had an evening of entertainment when we went to the Tamaki Maori Village for a feast and concert. The evening started with a traditional welcome ceremony in which three Maori warriors approached our group's elected 'Chief' to ascertain whether or not we came in peace. After being instructed not to laugh, or even smile as it is considered rude, we had to watch poker-faced whilst the warriors bulged their eyes, waggled their tongues and frog-hopped across our path. {{DSCN1016.jpg|left}}Despite this, there was a general consensus that one particular Maori warrior was very sexy indeed, with delightful thighs- a fine example of a man. Our shameless perving, obvious by the plethora of photos of him dancing in his loin cloth. We watched traditional Maori arts, crafts and daily living before a concert of song and dance. The infamous haka was performed, which is particularly relevant amongst current controversy about the All Black's new haka which ends with a throat-slitting motion. Due to Australian protest we believe this has now been removed. We aren't sure how to make clear to you how good the feast was, cooked in the traditional Maori hangi. We were presented with an all you can eat buffet, which we definately did justice. Perhaps we can convey better with examples.........at the end of the meal, Murph tried to relieve some tension with a burp, which resulted in a mouthful of food. Yes, she had eaten that much. Meanwhile Tay had embarked upon a pavlova and custard eat-off with a boy twice her size. The competition really began to turn heads when they requested a fresh pavlova from the kitchen, long after everyone else had called it a night. Tay felt she had the moral victory considering he was a massive man.
An interesting fact for you blog-readers, is that Lake Taupo was created by the largest volcanic eruption recorded within the last 5000 years, the effects of which could be seen in the sky from as far away as China and Europe. {{PICT0566.jpg|right}}However, more importantly, Taupo was also the name of Colly's late cat, so we felt we owed it to him to make a visit. It was indeed a very big lake. Nearby we were impressed by Hukka Falls which turned out to be more like ferocious rapids cascading through a narrow river gorge. On the way past we made a 'bee-line' for a Honey Farm having been drawn in by promises of free admission and free tasting. The honey was quickly shunned in favour of free samples of fruit wine. After having been ID'ed for our thimbles of wine, we tried several new flavours, the boysenberry variety standing out. Having read that it was one of the most scenic routes to drive in New Zealand we headed sun blazing along the Volcanic Highway which circles the Tongarira National Park. Ten minutes into the journey the rain began and twenty minutes in, we were enshrouded in fog. Instead of the stunning scenes we were supposed to be enjoying we could now barely see three metres ahead of us. Visability was at an all time low. This became more apparent when we reached the Visitor's Centre and were informed that we were infact surrounded by snow-capped monutains which was news to us. {{DSCN1051.jpg|left}}After disappointing weather in Taupo the sun was shining for us in Napier on the east cost. Interesting fact number 2 blog-readers is that in 1931 Napier was destroyed by a massive earthquake. As a consequence it was rebuilt at the height of the Art Deco period and is now famed for this style of architecture. Our hostel the Criterion Hotel was a prime example of this. {{PICT0574.jpg|right}}We took a walking tour in the sunshine and the next day headed for Wellington.

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on August 13, 2006 from Napier, New Zealand
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Once upon a time in Hobbiton.....

Napier, New Zealand

Once upon a time on a cold and rainy day three young hobbits decided to visit some old friends. So Tayling Tubbleweed, Ezzabel Buttercup and Murphington Meadowflower skipped along a lane, round some corners and over a bridge. One they got to the shire, they found that it was a beautiful day. This was of course because the sun never fails to shine in Hobbiton. Upon arriving they met Eric the Good Story who sat them down and told them tales of how the Shire began. After all the story-telling the young hobbits were famished and so feasted upon plums from the plum tree. Then it was time to call on their old friend Bilbo Baggins. They knocked upon his door and were greeted with a huge smile and open arms, 'You naughty scamps! You should have told me you were coming! Would you like some tea?'.

'Of course!' they exclaimed in unison, and so everyone sat down to have a delicious cup of hot tea. The young hobbits were delighted to discover that there was to be a party that evening, with singing and dancing and plenty of laughter. And so the whole Shire spent the evening dancing with joy around the Party Tree.

Much later, the three young hobbits bid farewell to their friends, and dragged themselves home, exhausted from their exciting day.

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on August 16, 2006 from Napier, New Zealand
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Car trouble part deux

Wellington, New Zealand

First impressions of Wellington were good as we managed to find a hostel that provided free dinners. We'd heard Courtney Place was the party street and so Friday and Saturday night were spent there. After two nights of bar hopping each different establishment merged in to one. In hindsight, we needn't have left our hostel, photographic evidence shows that after having demolished a box of Country, we were having a lovely time amusing ourselves in our room. The fun you can have with bunk beds.........
We spent a lovely afternoon in Khandallah visiting Colly's old house and some neighbours Beth and Rachel. We thoroughly appreciated Beth's homemade banana cake and shortbread. Gifts of chutney and jam have been put to good use in many a sandwich. Colly, Beth and Rachel managed to inadvertently coordinate both their outfits and their cheeks in a shocking fuschia pink- we apologise for the glare. One of Wellington's main tourist attractions is Te Papa, a mammoth six floor museum full of free exhibitions. Once again Murph, Erin and Tay geeked-it-up at the Lord of the Rings exhibition, whilst Colly pensively got involved in some art appreciation.
You probably won't be surprised to hear that our car problems continued. It turns out Sir Cliff Richard was to be no better behaved than Stanley. His timing was impeccable, when in the car queue for the ferry to the south island, we turned the keys in the ignition to no avail. We had a flat battery. After a couple of minutes of cursing Ace Car Rentals and watching all other cars board the ferry, Murph sent for help. A kind steward, jump leads at the ready quickly appeared. Once finally on the ferry we explained our plights to another steward who informed us in no uncertain terms that, "there would be plenty of young men on board willing to give you girls a jump start!" Luckily we didn't need one and cruised onwards to spend the night in Picton. The next morning we awoke to discover that we are undoubtedly the most unluckiest car renters in New Zealand. We had been issued a ticket for parking the wrong way along a street. Who even knew that was an offence? {{PICT0679.jpg|right}}
In Blenheim we were excited about the prospect of touring the wineries of the famous Marlborough region. Our excitement was slightly dampened by the fact that we had to share a very intimate dorm room with 8 smelly boys, all of whom snored and one of which shouted obscenities in his sleep. All being conossieurs of cheap Tesco wine, we headed for an educational trip to teach us about the finer varities. The tour began quite sedately with us being uncharacteristically quiet due to our lack of knowledge. Twenty-something wines later we were all too happy to voice our 'educated' opinions on undertones of Vegemite and oaky flavours. Tay and Erin found they favoured a light and fruity Sauvignon Blanc while Murph and Colly preferred a full-bodied Chardonnay. They were all in agreement about the bubbly.
Abel Tasmin National Park boasts some of the most unique and stunning scenery in New Zealand so we spent a couple of days wandering the shores and collecting shells. {{DSCN1082.jpg|center}} Pupu Springs were not as murky as they may sound, the clear blue waters were so inviting we had to fight the urge to jump in. {{DSCN1104.jpg|left}} Franz Josef, our next major destination was a long way south so we decided to break up the journey with a number of stops, the first being a seal colony. Despite gale force winds, we could'nt tear ourselves away from watching the baby pups and honing our now near-professional seal noises. {{PICT0621.jpg|right}}It was like a David Attenborough special. Paparoa National Park provided us with pancake rocks and blowholes. We couldn't resist a visit to Greymouth's mock gold mining town. The average clientelle consisted of 5 year olds with their grandparents. {{PICT0615.jpg|left}}This did not deter us from frolicking about the park with huge grins on our faces and pic 'n mix from the sweetie shop. We panned for gold and came away triumphant with our tiny flecks of treasure- we know how those early pioneers felt. {{PICT0616.jpg|right}}
Bad luck comes in threes and we made the schoolboy error of making one too many toilet stops. We found ourselves up shit creek without a paddle as Sir Cliff broke down once more. The flat battery had reared its ugly head once again. We found a local mechanic who instead of coming to help us, sent us away with a jump set and vague instructions on how to use it. {{S5020018.jpg|left}} Once we had got the engine running with all limbs intact, we returned the jump set and were sent off with the mechanic's particularly helpful advice, "to avoid further trouble, just don't turn off the engine."

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on August 18, 2006 from Wellington, New Zealand
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Sky and Ice

Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

The first thing we did when we arrived at Franz Josef was to sample the delights of the only bar in town, The Landing. We woke up the next mornning unwilling to leave the confines of our hostel due to the previous night's behaviour (dancing on chairs in the middle of a near empty bar- the less said the better). We plucked up the courage to leave our hostel but only for the sole purpose of escaping to the barren landscape of the Franz Josef Glacier. Trousers tucked into socks, crampons on our boots, we climbed four hundred ice steps, freshly carved by our pick-axe wielding guide. Three hours later we had squeezed through numerous crevasses, across steep ledges and narrowly avoided icy worm holes. It was during this time that Murph found a new talent as she inadvertantly discovered a freshly opened crevass. She likes to think that she saved many lives with this discovery.

On a beautiful day we walked around Lake Matheson, a mirror lake which brilliantly reflected the mountaineous backdrop. As trekking up Glaciers was old news to us now we were content with simply stomping to a viewpoint to observe the Fox Glacier from afar.

Next stop on our epic voyage was Lake Wanaka, a town full of trendy-wendy skiers and snowboarders. Due to ski season all the accomodation was full and so we trailer trashed it up and became residents of the local caravan park. At the Fox Glacier we had attempted to do a skydive, but good luck was not on our side. A half hour car journey had been spent psyching ourselves up to such adrenalin-pumping classics as The Prodigy's 'Smack my B***h up'. On arrival we discovered that not only cars had it in for us, our transport problems applied to planes as well. This time it wasn't just a flat battery, a whole new engine was needed. Take two and we decided to jump over Lake Wanaka instead, where luckily all planes were in working order.

The day turned into an impromptu photo shoot as the company were updating thier website. You can browse the pages of www.skydivenz.com to find our photos along with alarmingly cheesy post-dive 'testimonials'.This is a direct link to a delightful photo of the four us. http://www.skydivenz.com/skydive_blog.html Murph would like it to be known that due to warnings of severe cold at 15,000 feet she felt it necessary to wear two jumpers and a coat under her jumpsuit and this is why she looks like Fat Bastard's wife and not because she has put on 100 pounds. On the plane ride up there was much broken equipment banter as we all sat wedged on our instructor's laps. It is hard to sum up the experience, the dive was truly amazing. Falling out of a plane at 200km/hr and free-falling for 60 seconds is not half as frightening as one might expect. With views of snow-capped mountains, Glaciers and lakes we were very smug with our choice of location. We loved it so much we are already planning another jump.

To celebrate we headed to Shooters Bar where we had the surprising revelation that the 'cool-guy' boarders had a penchant for karaoke. One particularly emotional rendition of Eric Clapton's 'Tears in Heaven' almost brought tears to our eyes. Shooters closed disappointingly early so we accepted an invitation to a friend's house party. Roger, 'Flank' and the crew must have woken the next morning to find a storm had passed through their rented apartment. Their weekly food shopping had been devoured, including a rather large supply of mustard and Erin confused by the concept of a sliding door pushed a little too hard and removed the bathroom door from its hinges. Boys: Erin 'The Incredible Hulk' Gillham apologises and hopes you got your deposit back!

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on August 26, 2006 from Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand
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Car trouble part trois

Te Anau, New Zealand

After a night in Te Anau we woke to a landscape carpeted in snow. In order to travel to Milford Sound we were legally required to carry snow chains in our car. The drive was spectacular, taking us through a winter wonderland of Narnia-esque proportions where we felt it appropriate to crank up the Christmas tunes and merrily sing along despite it being August. The slightly risky drive led us through no stopping avalanche zones. We wanted to capture the moment by briefly stopping for a photo of the no stopping avalanche sign only to be reprimanded by two men in a passing vehicle who of course were the only car to pass us the entire journey and of course were highway patrol. Apparently if they had been police we would have been fined $150. Law breaking turned out to be a recurring theme of the journey as during a harmless muesli break we took sympathy on a hobbling giant bird who appeared to be helpless and hungry. After feeding the bird a hearty amount of dry muesli a car pulled up and the occupants informed us that the bird was in fact a kea. It is a criminal offence to feed these birds as they are extremely dangerous and have been known to eat the kidneys out of live sheep. We protested that this particular specimen was different, he was helpless and needy. Upon this, the evil trickster swiftly escaped (the broken wing apparently faked) to the tree tops above us. We'd been had. Milford Sound is one of fourteen fiords along the South-West coast. We took a boat cruise through the fiord past waterfalls and were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of seals and very rare penguins. Yet again we were dumbfounded by the uniquely beautiful scenery of New Zealand "is there no end to this country's captivating wonder?" (Erin Charlotte Gillham on Milford Sound 20/08/06)

Next it was on to Queenstown, a renowned party place full of backpackers, skiers and boarders. Being as none of us know how to ski we indulged our passion for cable cars and rode the Queenstown gondola to the mountain top. Most thrillseekers flock to Queenstown for the world's first bungee, whitewater rafting and various other extreme sports. We however donned bicycle helmets and "luged". Not once, not twice but five times. Luging is a simple concept, it involves sitting in what is essentially a plastic tray with dodgy brakes and rolling down a hill.

Cue girly screams of unadulterated joy. We took a daytrip to nearby Arrowtown, a quaint former goldmining settlement which was nice.

It was on an attempted trip to Glenorchy that Sir Cliff and his bad kharma struck again. After calling out the AA and having the battery changed in Franz Josef we had become complacent and believed our car troubles to be over. How wrong we were. Whilst cruising along leisurely a Range Rover sped by, its occupants hanging out of the windows frantically trying to attract our attention to something wrong with the car. We pulled over and a quick examination established it was a case of deja-vu - another flat Tyre. Our previous experience led us to believe that we could attempt to change to the spare ourselves.
After triumphantly jacking the car we attempted to unscrew the fake bolts on the hubcap and could have been there all day had a van with two skydive instructors not pulled over to assist us. They got the job done quickly and kindly followed us back to town in case of any more mishaps. We took the car to a Tyre shop where we were informed the offending article that had punctured the Tyre was a small shard of roadkill bone. What are the chances?

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on September 2, 2006 from Te Anau, New Zealand
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Murph's 22nd birthday

Te Anau, New Zealand

Friday 25th August brought Helen Patricia Murphy's 22nd birthday. After receiving her extremely grownup gifts of a cuddly toy lamb and massive bar of chocolate, we did what we believe most 22 year olds do to celebrate their birthday and went for a round of indoor minigolf. It was the most elaborate course imaginable where the '19th hole' was a free lolly. The birthday girl won and there was not a hint of cheating involved. Murph's birthday present was a meal for four at a restaurant of her choice courtesy of her parents. Thank you Mummy and Daddy Murphy. The lovely meal was followed by a sickly birthday cake, store bought but home decorated with pick 'n' mix. A fantastic night on the razzle followed but we were awoken the next morning by the hostel receptionist who informed us that we could only stay the next night if we promised not to go out due to excessive noise making. Her first proper day of being 22 and Murph had been well and truly grounded.

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on September 2, 2006 from Te Anau, New Zealand
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Pucker up, anyone for sushi?

Christchurch, New Zealand

A perfect day in Dunedin combined two of our favourite things, alcohol and chocolate as we visited the Speight's Ale House and Cadbury's factory. The entertaining tour of the brewery was educational and not just a piss-up. We learnt that the yeast left over from the brewing process is used to produce marmite. For fellow marmite fans, a handy way to get free marmite, is to become a Sri-Lankan schoolchild, as they receive the delicious spread daily due to its health benefits. In New Zealand, 'skulling' is a term used for downing one's drink. We discovered that the vikings used their victim's skulls as drinking vessels and hence the term was born. The tour came to a pleasant finale when we were given a lesson on the finer arts of tasting beer and free reign of the bar. Here we could sample six varities of Speight's beer including the speciality chocolate ale, whetting our appetite for the chocolate factory to follow.

We had been looking forward to touring the Cadbury's factory from the day we landed on NZ soil and discovered the huge array of Cadbury's bars only available down under. These treats include a 'desserts' range which boasts delights such as banoffee pie, lemon cheesecake and fudge brownie flavoured dairy milk, as well as the 'Moro' (Cadbury's mars bar) and the 'Perkynana' (banana flavoured chocolate coated chew). We had taken the liberty of compiling a short list of interview-style questions for our tour guide. Some sample questions follow:

Q. Why do they not have the Moro bar in Britain?
A. It's really just a question of British loyalty to the Mars bar, which came out first. In NZ the Moro arrived first and hence it was the favoured version and became NZ's most popular chocolate bar. In fact, there is one consumed every two seconds.

Q. Why does Cadbury's taste different in hot climates?
A. They reduce the amount of cocoa butter to stop it melting.

Another interesting fact is that New Zealanders are a nation after our own hearts. Despite the population being a mere 4 million, Cadbury's produce 40 million easter eggs per year and none of these are for export. You do the math. The piece de resistance of the tour was watching a ton of chocolate cascade from a vat in front of our eyes. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to stick our faces in it :(

After our day of gorging we felt we should get out in the open air and we went for an invigorating hack at Bums 'n Saddles stables. The ride was frequently interrupted due to our horses being compulsive eaters as they stopped to devour every bush we passed. Colly drew the short straw with her loose cannon of a horse, Smoothie. The girls were happily trotting along when they heard a distant shriek and through the bushes, caught a glimpse of the back of Colly's head bobbing along as she disappeared off in the wrong direction. Her stubborn mule had decided he was bored of the trek and wanted to go home. It took ten minutes to tame the live wire back onto the track, only for him then to attack Murph's horse Warner- there is apparently an on-going bullying problem. Warner finds it tough being the new horse on the block. Overall we really enjoyed the ride, particularly along the beautiful white sandy beach.

Our final destination in New Zealand was Christchurch, the most English of it's cities. We enjoyed ambling along the River Avon and around roads such as Manchester, Gloucester and Oxford Street. During one of our strolls Colly developed a craving for sushi so we popped into one of Christchurch's many sushi bars. Whilst trying to order two California rolls each, a communication break-down somehow led us to leave the shop with sixty four pieces. Colly's craving was more than satisfied.....for the rest of the trip.

Two reunions took place in Christchurch, first we had the pleasure of a drink and night out with Rhiannon Ayeh-Kumi a school friend of Colly and Murph's. Secondly was the reappearance of James Watkin of Asian fame. We certainly went out with a bang on our last night in New Zealand, it was an interesting night with an unexpected twist.....

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on September 6, 2006 from Christchurch, New Zealand
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G'day Mate

Cairns, Australia

We have now arrived in Cairns, the first leg of our six month Oz tour. After being jobless hippies for half a year resulting in bank balances containing a grand total of $0.00, it was time to get our hands on some much needed cashish. Within a couple of days we were fully fledged natives with Australian bank accounts, phones and jobs. Secretly hoping it might take a while to find work so in the interim we could top up our tans and sample some aussie nightlife, it turned out the temping agency foiled these plans by finding us waitressing work almost immediately. Having arrived during the middle of the Cairns festival we were all working within days. We've had to trade the shorts and t-shirts for man shirts and bow-ties as we step into the shoes of five star waitresses.

Tay and Erin's first job was a little unexpected working at the races head to toe in white body paint serving such celebrities as Australia's Big Brother '06 winner. Their smug jobs continued as they landed a stint on Double Island serving at the privately owned resort.

Meanwhile Murph and Colly were doing their own private tours of the luxury hotels and resorts around Cairns. Proving that this is clearly where we belong we have managed two drink spillages on guests and numerous glass breakages. Five star service all the way!

All work and no play makes the smug adventurers a little less smug. The infamous Woolshed is the backpackers' favourite club in Cairns, however, it doesn't even come close to our beloved Jaxx so we are currently experimenting with new places. The focal point of Cairns is its man-made lagoon, its free-use barbeques being a particularly enjoyable feature. We've embraced Aussie culture and thrown a fair few shrimps on the barbie.

As with everything we do each barbeque has become more elaborate than the last. No longer will a mere sausage suffice. Please see photo of shrimp surrounded by abundance of aubergine.

A big worry about coming to Australia was fear of spider infestations. Having been prepared to look under the toilet seat on every trip to the dunny, we have not yet seen a single spider (touch wood).

However we have come across kangaroos, giant bats and crocodiles. We can't write this entry without mentioning one very sad event. On the day of our arrival, just an hour away from where we were, the "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin died. In the words of the wise Tom Murphy, "First the Queen of New Zealand and now the King of Australia."

As we are currently working we may become slightly slack bloggers for the next few weeks until we hit the road again. Apologies blog fans, hopefully won't be too long!

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on September 18, 2006 from Cairns, Australia
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The Great Barrier Reef

Cairns, Australia

Our first day trip out of Cairns was to one of the seven wonders of the natural world- the Great Barrier Reef. We jumped aboard Supercat for a snorkelling, diving and eating extravaganza. We bumped into two friends on the boat, Arfon the cuddly Welshman and Jake the tree surgeon (who once accidentally massacred an entire family of possoms with his chainsaw). We spent the day lounging on the deck, the tanning process occasionally interrupted by marine based activities. Amongst the beautiful corals we came across cuttlefish, nemo and many other creatures of the deep. It became interactive as we prodded a giant clam and fondled a sea cucumber. Unfortunately for Tay whose one desire was to see a turtle when diving, she guzzled up all her air and had to surface earlier than the rest, missing her chance to meet and feed Georgina the turtle. She would like to point out to readers that she doesn't actually care about this, she's not bitter and she's heard turtles are boring and stupid anyway. So there. Heah. We spent much of the day trying not to kick the coral as we snorkelled inches above it.

Back to reality and we returned to working in various venues around Cairns. Not all as mundane as it seems as Murph had the privilege of serving the Australian prime minister his dinner and listening to a riveting speech on agriculture. In addition we also worked at the beautiful, exotic Thala Beach Resort where Natalie Imbruglia was married. On a less showbiz note, with each new venue comes a new hideous outfit, see photo for one example of a Pat Butcher-esque blouse stylee number. Oh how we yearn for the days of Tylney Hall's tasteful green and gold waistcoats. Other than work, pretty much every rare day off is spent barbequing and drinking goon around Jeff/ Yordy the Dutchboy's Combi.

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on October 1, 2006 from Cairns, Australia
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