Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wudinna and sundry

As is our habit with blogs, we are filling this one in months later, now that the trip is over.

We made it to Kimba that night, stayed in a caravan park, and set off in the morning. Our target for that day was the Gawler Ranges, a national park that looked like it had a lot of neat sights. When we made it to Wuddina (wood-nuh), we stopped at the tourist info center and asked about the best way to get in to the park. Well, it turns out almost the entirety of the park is only accessible to high clearance 4WD vehicles (our tourist map of the park didn't show this), and given some of the trouble we'd had on the 2WD roads in national parks, we asked what else there was to see around here. It turned out it was quite a bit. There are two tourist drives to do in the area, and we only had time for one, but that involved seeing some awesome granite monoliths, including Mt. Wudinna, the largest in South Australia and third largest in Australia. Cassie and I hiked up it and were hit with a blast of wind. It towers above the surrounding landscape and so seems to be a magnet for high winds and affords some great views.

We then enjoyed lunch in the picnic area at its base. Did you know that many Australian picnic areas have free gas grills? You can just go and turn on the gas and get bbq-ing. Australia definitely has some perks.

Then we drove on, hoping to stay in some state park near Ceduna, the gateway to the Nullarbor. But by the time we got there, the winds were blowing something awful, and rain was coming down hard. We decided it might be best to stay at a caravan park in the town because the state parks were exposed on the cape. So we went and checked out our options. The first one we went to, the cheapest one, turned out to be cheap for a reason. It was a bit seedy, and when we saw the state of the camp kitchen, we made our way to the next cheapest one. This turned out to be great--it was mellow and uncrowded, the camp kitchen was great, and the camp hosts were very nice (we had to borrow a hammer to pound our stakes in--every place before this we could just stick them in the ground by hand). By the time we were all set up, the storm had blown over, and we thought we could probably have camped in a park after all. But when we were cooking in the sheltered kitchen, we were hit with another deluge, and were really glad for our choice.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rosellas and leaving

So going and working on the rosella project was really fun, I wish I could have stayed longer. I'll post pictures later but for now I'll just give a short run down. We went around checking nest boxed (some of which had chicks in them... I had to take two dead chicks out of one box), that took up the first few days. After that we set up traps on the boxed to catch the parents inside, then a few of us stationed ourselves outside one nest box each (hidden) with walkie-talkies and waited until a parent flew in. It's takes a while! My box was the first to get a parent, so that was neat. The guys would come and collect the bird and we drove back to the testing station (we set up stuff at this old building... we were on someone's farm). That was the first catching day (they hoped to catch 2 birds a day) and Leonie (the other girl... girlfriend to the guy who's project this was) caught one as we were processing the other, but it got away when they arrived to collect it. For processing they just took measurements, tagged it (if it wasn't already), took a blood sample, then did a spectrometry test on different parts of it's body to measure the UV of the colors (these are parrots for anyone who doesn't know what a rosella is). After that bird we went into town to get some food and for the guys, coffee, when it started to rain (it's not good to handle the birds in rain cause it's gets their feathers wet and they're hard to handle) so we went and say the new 007 movie. The next day we went catching again, my tree didn't get the other parent, but Leonie's got one, so they brought me over (cause nothing was happening at my tree) and we processed that one. After that we needed to book it to the train station for me to go home, sadly. :) I really loved it out there (it was in Northeastern Victoria, right on the border with NSW) at Wodonga/Albury. It was so pretty and I really felt more at home! It's funny, just a few days out there made me feel more like I was going to miss Australia more than I had ever the entire year! That's a sign that I am just not made for living in a city all of the time! Luckily I'll have a car in Perth, so will be able to leave when I want! Up until now I have just been working and trying to catch up with people before I leave in 4 days! I have been drawing pictures for my housemates and workmates. For my coworkers I did caricatures of them, and I will give them at Cassie's going away party on Sunday night. :) I still have almost all of my housemates I need to do a picture for, so I really need to get on things!! Wow, so much to do in so little time! Christine is coming down tomorrow (Friday) after work to visit/ pick up a box of stuff that I will keep at her house until I come back. Last night I did a lot of packing so I knew what I needed to put in the box. Anyway, so my last few days are going to be very filled up. My last day of work is on Saturday and I leave Monday (flight's at 12:10 AM).

Monday, December 1, 2008

Perth 5

On Tuesday I went back to Murdoch and met up with the Dean of the Vet Science school, since I didn't get to meet him on Friday. He showed me a bit more of the university, and while on the tour he introduced me to a student (Emily) and some of her friends, who are all vet students. Emily was a 3rd year student, they were trying to raise money for their half way through party (which is really big) by selling chocolates. :P Anyway, after my tour the dean dropped me back off with Emily and went to two of their classes with them, the first one was on how to handle/approach cattle, and the second was genetics. :) It was fun. After that I went into the library for a bit and found the Prince and the Pauper again and continued reading it for a while. I wandered around a bit more then went back to my hostel where I caught the 8:30 bus to the airport along with the couple I met at the hostel (the guy was from New Zealand and the girl from Ireland) and we hung out at the airport talking for a bit. They left first, then me... I sat watching an Aussie soap oprah before the plane left. When I got back to Melbourne I was wearing shorts and flip flops because it had been really warm in Perth (and I didn't bring a coat cause it was really warm in Melbourne when I left). I stepped out of the plane (outside) and I was FREEZING! It was so cold (and wet) that you could see your breath! The worst part was because Tiger Airways is small, they have their own part of the airport that's separated from the rest of the airport and the luggage area is even in this weird outside building. I didn't have to collect luggage but I had to go to the bathroom and so that was cold. Then I had to walk up to the "real" airport. :P When I got there I took out some socks, and even though I looked goofy, I put them on with my flip flops cause my feet were about to fall off. :P Then I got on the Gull shuttle bus back to Geelong. This was at about 6 AM on Wednesday morning btw. I was going to go with Foly (one of our bakers at Muffin Break) to the Geelong Cup (horse racing cups are HUGE in Victoria) but then I found out to go to the party they were going to it was $150 (you get open bar and food) so decided that was too much, plus I didn't have a very suitable dress. So, I napped and then did random stuff at home (can't really remember all I did). And that was my Perth trip! Sorry it's taken so long to tell about all of this, but now I'm finally finished. :P

Friday, November 14, 2008

Perth 4

On Monday I just spent the day wondering around King's Park, which is amazing! There are trails all over the park that are rugged and it feels like you're up in the mountains somewhere! I seriously felt like I wasn't in the city at all, you couldn't even hear anything! Every now and then I would be brought back to reality when a car drove by on a road that was nearby in the park (could only hear it) and only once did I meet a runner, didn't meet anyone else. It was amazing!!

UWA is just on the other side of King's Park, so I also walked over there and hung around on campus for a bit. I ate lunch on the lawn in front of the library. So, a little background story, one of the girls who showed me around the UWA campus told me they called the gardens "Jurassic Park," one reason being that one day she was eating lunch and there was a kookaburra watching her eat and she was watching it, and while this was going on one came from behind and snatched her sandwich! HAHA So, I was sitting there eating my sandwich, minding my own business, when I hear a whoop whoop whoop sound behind me. I turn just in time to see a kookaburra zooming at me and I ducked just in time. It landed in a tree very close to me and watched me eat. I tore off a few pieces of bred and threw them on the ground close to me. The little guy came down, a little nervous, and started (trying) to eat the bread. He was sooooo cute!!!! I LOVE kookaburras!! They're up there in cuteness with ducks and puffins. :P After eating a few pieces, or at least trying too, the few up to a close by tree and I watched him. When I got out my cheese and crackers he again was eyeing my food, and I could see him get ready a few times to try and fly at me and take my cheese and crackers, but he paused because people would walk by behind me. Finally, and mind, I was starting STRAIGHT AT HIM, he flew right towards me, I ducked and saves my cheese and crackers, but it was so bizzar!! What a brave bird. :P

After my bird encounter I went into the library and picked up the Mark Twain book "The Prince and the Pauper," which I have been wanting to read, and I had the urge to read a book and had nothing else to do, and so read that for a while. Like 10 chapters... (not long chapters). I then went and had a lay down on the grass near the beach next to campus. That was relaxing. When I got back to my hostel, I took the initiative to talk with some other travelers and became fairly good friends with a group of British guys, along with 2 New Zealand guys, a few Irish girls and a Belgian girl. Had a good time (one of the British guys was one of the other Matts I mentioned) :P. We would stay up late talking and playing cards and drinking. :) Good times.

UWA has peacocks on campus, in the pics is one of them, which is albino. The building is the library. The bridge is the treetop walk in King's park.

Perth 3/ Fremantle

On Sunday I decided to head over to Fremantle on the train. Whilst on the train I had some conversations with two high school girls and an old Irishman. :P The Irishman was going to the markets cause he was part of a band that was playing there, I ended up seeing him there later on that day before I got on the train back to Perth. Anyway, once I got there I started walking in the direction that my map told me to :P (I had a map of Fremantle that showed the best places to visit, and showed a walking tour around the city). Just a little way down the main road I saw a pretty cool looking didgeridoo store, I almost didn't go in (as I had one now) but then decided to. I am really glad I did, one of the guys that worked there was telling/ showing some guys how to play and I joined them and they asked me if I wanted to try and they were all impressed at how well I did. :P Of course I then mentioned that I play one a bit... just starting out. :) After those customers left the store attendant asked if I wanted to stick around and jam, and of course I did! It was awesome, we sad on the couches they had and he showed me some tricks and gave me tips, it was amazing! After a bit another customer joined our little jamming session (a guy probably in his 20's from England named Matt... random note, since being in Australia I have met three different English guys named Matt. :P). We probably jammed for about an hour, it was amazing! I could've stayed there all day but thought I should actually SEE Fremantle. :P Oh, just one funny thing, the store attendant was originally from japan (he'd been playing the didgeridoo for 12 years!) and I mentioned at one point some of the Japanese words I know, then we started saying some of them into the didgeridoo (as that is one way you make sounds is to say words into it) and one thing we said was arigato taicho arigato taicho, (thank you captain) over and over... it was really funny. :P So, I walked more around Fremantle, and went to the markets (the main thing there, they have amazing markets!). There were some performances outside the market entrance, on my way in is was a woman singing opera (she was amazing) and when I came out it was a comedian/contortionist pirate guy. he's in the 2006 Guiness Book of World Records for swallowing a flaming sword. He was funny but also a bit controversial one could maybe say in things he would joke about. I got one shirt, and one Christmas present for someone, which was the extent of my shopping there. :) I found some really neat stores there though! There was one place where you could dress up as a fairy and a lady would take professional pics of you, neat. There was also a lady who designed/made and sold medieval/Lord of the Rings like dresses! She even has done a few weddings! I thought that was neat. I tried one on cause I had always wanted to wear a dress like that. :) I also went to the shipwreck museum then walked by the beach and had a hot fudge sunday from Mac'ers (McDonalds). The other best part of the day was when I went over by the old jail (or gaol as they spell it here... strange), which had just closed, so I couldn't go in, I saw a little art gallery and decided to go in... one of the best things I did! I was looking at this art, that I REALLY liked, and was noticing that there were no name tags next to the art but noticed that all the ones I had seen so far were by the same guy. There was a guy walking around and we got to talking. He was the artist and the whole building (it wasn't very big though) was his gallery! We had some really great discussions about art!! We probably talked for maybe an hour or close to it! He really inspired me to keep at my art, which I have been really missing and wanting to do more of lately. It was a little funny cause I had also bought a little pad of paper for $1 at the markets, which I been using as a little sketch pad, so had a few sketches and he wanted a look. :) It was just an awesome experience, I'm really glad I went in there! After that I made my way back to the train station, sat by the water and sketched some more for a while while people got on the boat to Rottnest Island (I ended up not going there cause a ticket is $50!). It was a really good day. :)

Perth 2

So, the second day, Saturday, I spent the day just walking around Perth. When I first got there I looked around some gardens and went into a cathedral, which was really nice and relaxing. I find it's nice to go into cathedrals and give thanks to God for all of the wonderful things I've been able to do and have in life... I know I don't have to go into cathedrals to do that, and I do it in general too, but there's something about cathedrals that makes it seem even more special and closer to God. :) Anyway, I had a little map that showed places to go... there's not a whole lot to do in Perth, but it's a nice little city. They have some wonderful gardens for sure though! I was going to go up into the bell tower (the tall pointing thing you'll see in pics), which is sort of the focal monument of Perth, but it was $10 to go up and I didn't want to $10 enough. :P When I got up to The museum, which the art gallery is next to, the gallery was having a display outside. There were all these photographs up taken aerially that showed the word and told facts about the environment and about human usage of resources. It was really neat! I also went inside the gallery and looked at the art in there. After that I went into the museum but didn't look around too much… I've had a lot of museums in my life and at this point many of them seem the same. They had a little photography contest posted in the foyer there as well and so I looked at some of those... it really was a day at looking at photography. :P After that I took the CAT (the free city transport) to King's park and hiked up to the botanical gardens… beautiful! It's really neat because the gardens have a wonderful view over the city! After that I caught a late bus back to the hostel. Not a really eventful day, but nice and relaxing.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Perth 1

I took Tiger airlines (my first time flying with them) and despite the bad things I had heard (because they are the cheapest airline) they were actually a very neat service! All of the staff at every point were very nice, so I had a good first experience with them. I got into Perth around 6:00 PM and was picked up my my hostel (Comfort Backpackers). I got settled and went across the street to Hungry Jacks (Burger King) for dinner cause I was starving (you're not allowed to bring your own food on the plane, and they don't give you any FREE food/drinks... that's one downside to Tiger). The next day I got up early and had free brekkie (provided by the hostel) and caught a bus to Murdoch Uni. When I got there I found that they had printed up a program for me and I was supposed to have gotten there at 7:30 AM (I got there at 9:00 ish because I didn't think they would be open before 8) but they had only sent me the email about this the day before while I was on my way to Perth and so I hadn't been able to check my email. Anyway, it went ok, I didn't get to meet the Dean of the Vet school that day though cause he had meetings. I was given a tour of the campus buildings including their on campus clinic and farm; very cool. Everyone was very nice and very helpful. I got a lot of information sussed out, and later I met with Christina, a 5th year student from California. She has been really helpful for international students, she's set up a website with information on being an international student at Murdoch. She also has her blog up for people to read. Anyway, we talked a lot about different stuff, and we had lunch together. the campus is really beautiful, I like it. I am very excited to go there, which is pretty much a for sure thing now. I will apply this spring and if I get accepted (which everyone I talked to there seemed pretty certain I would... especially since I took time out to go to WA and visit/ talk the the Dean) I will be going in January 2010. Anyway, the day I left Victoria I got an email just before from John Henderson, the prof in the linguistics department at UWA (University of Western Australia) saying that I could come meet with him at 2:00 and then he had a student that would show me around at 3:00, well, I was at Murdoch that day so I wasn't sure I'd make it, but luckily I got done with everything at Murdoch and was able to catch the train up to UWA by 3:00. I ended up having the tour with the student first then talking to John as I was late. There were actually three linguistic girls (one from the UK but grew up here, one from Perth, and one from Minnesota!) that showed me around, they were very nice, very cool girls. :) The UWA campus is THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CAMPUS I HAVE EVER SEEN!!! I absolutely love it! I got a lot of questions answered on David's end of things talking to John, so that was good. I did the best I could anyway with the information that David sent me to ask. :) I talked to David afterwards and he's a bit nervous, but it sounds promising. They are saying that he'd most likely be able to go straight into PhD work (pure research) which is neat but he's not so sure he's prepared enough for that... I think he'd be fine but. After leaving there I went one my way back to the hostel, stopping to get food for the week at IGA.