A Travellerspoint blog

The East Coast Video

Unseen footage!

Click the link below to see our East Coast unseen footage:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsNsY-g2P4E

Posted by Benannatravels 20:31 Comments (0)

The East Coast

featuring Anna's parents!

sunny 35 °C

So on a lot of our blog posts we tell you to prepare yourself for a long blog, well, hold on to your hats guys, because this one will blow you out of the water!

Don't worry its mainly photos as we have done that much it's impossible to write about!

Back at the start of December, on a dark yet hot and stuffy night, Ben and Anna ventured out in poor old Sheila to Cairns airport. Once making several wrong turns, they pulled up at the correct terminal, there were two figures waiting in the distance. Yep you guessed right, Anna's parents had arrived! And look what they brought with them!!!...

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The following day was a beach day. Nigel, Anna's dad, got straight into Oz life by having lunch alone with a long island ice tea and a huge platter of prawns. That evening we wanted to welcome Sonya, Anna's mum into Oz life too. We did this by having a BBQ on the beach. But not just any BBQ, a kangaroo meat only BBQ. We enjoyed sausages and burgers whilst sipping on delightful beers.

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We kept the Aussie BBQ theme going by having one on the esplanade just a few days later. Although kangaroo meat didn't feature on this one, it was still pretty good.

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A few nights later we had another great dinner. You may assume we cooked our own dinner again, or went to a fancy restaurant. Well you're wrong. I will let the photo say it all...

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That night it was rather bloody windy and rainy. We didn't think much of it until we woke up in the morning and Anna had lost her bikini top. Everyone was sure they saw her hang it up to dry the day before. It wasn't until we had all given up and decided to go out for the day that we passed her bikini top when driving down the street. Yep thats right. It had blown all the way into the local gutter. Luckily Nige hopped out and rescued it, but it was rather dirty.

It was great barrier reef day. We were very excited. We headed into the terminal to collect our tickets. They gave us directions on how to board the ferry, but we were very early so decided to get some breakfast from the cafe. As we sat down we were all of a sudden surrounded by about 800 Asians. We were hoping they weren't going to green island, but they were. After a few minutes, we boarded one of two boats which were rammed full of people. We were feeling a bit anxious about the day ahead of us. We were trying to avoid very touristy attractions but apparently Green Island is one of them. We sat aboard the ferry for just under an hour. Once we were in clear sight of Green Island, Ben actually spotted 2 turtles! And they were so close to the boat. We instantly forgot about everyone else on the island and ended up having an amazing day. As soon as the boat doors opened we were out like a light. We strutted down the jetty straight to the store to collect our stinger suits. We quickly founded the quietest part of the island, ditched our stuff, got changed and got straight into the ocean. What happened below the water can't be described. So here is a video and some photos! Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d8l2sDYsj8

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We saw turtles, sea cucumbers, coral, sting rays, lots of fish, really big fish and star fish! On our way to another part of an island for some more snorkelling we came across an Asian who didn't know how to use a snorkel. He had the mask on way too high and was trying to put the mouth piece up his nose! We quickly adjusted it for him and dived in for some more underwater activity.

Once we got back to our igloo house (photo on last blog post) we noticed it had been raining on land all day. This didn't work wonders for our washing which had been out for three days prior. It was safe to say, we had entered the wet season.

When Nige is about, strange things happen to Ben. Ben is now a coffee drinker and loves a good glass of Australian Rum. I suppose it could be worse. Perhaps the coffee and rum were helping his toenails to heel. In our Wernadinga blog post, you might have come across a nasty photo of ben's blue toenails. Well they finally healed, only 2 months later!

It was time to introduce Sonya and Nigel to some Australian creatures. Hartley's croc adventure it was. On route to our destination, we came across a rock balancing sight. We soon got out and started to build a few of our own!

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Hartley's, despite more rain, was a great day. We experience another jumping crocodile show, held Koala's and baby crocs, fed kangaroo and wallabies and spotted some baby joeys in pouches.

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After Hartley's, we ventured further north to visit Port Douglas. It wasn't the nicest day and it is really expensive there, so we bought some $10 camp chairs and had a nice sit on the beach. You will notice Nigel's camp chair crop up all through the rest of the blog post. They were inseparable.

The following day we experience more rain. We had planned a day in the spa but Sonya was rearing to go whatever the weather, so off to the Crystal Cascades and Barron Gorge we went!

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We hadn't eaten all day so we decided to go Palm Cove for some lunch. We stuffed ourselves that full that we didn't eat dinner, well Ben did. Ben eats everything!

It was Rainforest day. And the rain didn't disappoint here either. We rode the cable car up to Kuranda and got the scenic train back. When we were up at Kuranda we did some shopping in the markets and Anna finally found the perfect boomerang! We had a great day but we find it amazing how there is so much forest and such little wildlife. The scenic railway also wasn't very scenic, although we did pass over a waterfall which was pretty incredible! Nige also bought this awesome hat..

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That evening we enjoyed an amazing dinner at the Bushfire restaurant where Sonya and Anna cooked their own steak and Ben and Nige ate all the meat they could possibly fit in their bodies. We also stopped by the Casino on the way home.

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After just over a week, it was time to collect Sonya and Nigel's rental car and get on the road. The first stop, the Sky Walk & Paronella Park. These are places of natural beauty and Australian history. The sky walk provided us with Aboriginal tales and facts upon the life of Captain James Cook. Paronella Park presented us with Castles and ruins, much difference to those within the U.K.

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We then drove to Mission Beach. Throughout Australia we have used AirBnB and we would strongly recommend it. We could have stayed in this place for a week!

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The following day, we had a trip booked. There was only 7 of us and two guides who were just local guys who were semi retired. We had an absolute blast of a day. We literally blasted across the ocean to three out of reef locations in a dingy speedboat thing! They guys were so chilled but full of facts and knowledge. We spotted turtles, dolphins, amazing coloured reef, loads of fish, huge sea cucumbers, star fish and black tip and white tip sharks. Anna's mum was rather poorly but it didn't take away from the awesome experience we had. If anyone every visits Mission Beach, be sure to catch the Reef Express! AND WE SAW NEMO!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4VLsaap3QA

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On our return to the reef, dolphins swam and played in front of the boat and Ben spotted a lot of turtles really close to the shore. Sadly we didn't see any whales, but what a day!

After we returned to our cars, we headed to the beach to eat some lunch. Nige was still bursting with energy and excitement and so he decided to climb a tree!!

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It was time to pull Nigel down from the tree and drive to Townsville where we would be spending the night. On the way, we off roaded down to a waterfall and Nige sat in his chair, no surprise there!

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We mainly booked apartments throughout our East Coast trip and we did a lot of cooking. We took it in turns, well Ben, Anna and Sonya did. Nigel did all the washing up instead!

The following day we drove to Airlie Beach. We spent the day at their esplanade/lagoon. Nige and Sonya decided to eat out but Ben wasn't feeling too good and so Anna took him home. Anna headed to the shop to get them some dinner but didn't make it far down the road before getting stopped and breathalysed. She isn't that bad at driving, it is more of a standard procedure in Oz. By the time she got to the shop it had closed! After a lot of fuss we ended up getting a snack from the corner shop. It didn't help when Anna went to collect her parents smelling of food and alcohol.
After a not so great nights sleep, it was an early start. Nigel had his first experience with wild Australian creatures crossing the road when he almost hit a bush turkey. It's feathers brushed against the side of the car but it ran off into the bushes without injury thankfully! We arrived a bit late but managed to make it to the boat. We all climbed aboard the retired racing sale boat and got as comfortable as we could for our 2 our sale to the Whitsunday islands. Sadly there was no wind and so we used the motor the whole way. On the upside, Nigel got to practically drive the boat the whole way! We arrived at our first stop. Whitehaven beach, and what do you know, Ben spotted more turtles!

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In the shallows of this stunning beach, we spotted sting rays and lemon sharks. Ben and Sonya went in with snorkels to investigate more. Ben captured it all on video with the GoPro:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4gqRvLkUUk

After we had finished taking photos on this stunning white sanded beach, we headed back on the boat to our next location to do some snorkelling. It was nothing compared to our Reef Express experience, but there was a lot of fish and colourful coral to see. It was soon time to head back to the mainland, they attempted to sail the boat back but failed. The motor it was.

That evening we had booked, well we thought we had booked, a villa on a campsite with two rooms with double beds. Turns out one had a double bed and one had two bunk beds in it! After some drama on the phone with booking.com and speaking to the campsites manager, we decided to just give it up and stay there as it was actually a really nice villa. Sonya and Nigel had their first backpacker experience by sleeping in the bunk beds! When we were outside reception, we actually bumped into a family who we sat across from on the Scenic Railway in the Daintree rainforest. What a small world!!

The next morning, we checked out and the manager gave Ben and Nigel some stubby coolers for the drama of the previous night. If you aren't sure what a stubby cooler is, give it a quick google! We drove into town and headed to the sky dive office. Anna has some brave parents! After showing up to the wrong office, we finally checked them in with the right company and watched them squirm as they watched the safety video, which we didn't have the privilege watching. We managed to hop on the bus with them to the airport so we could watch them land. A couple of hours passed by in which it got windier and windier. Before we knew it, a lady called us over and piled us back onto the bus. Turns out they had to change the landing location as the weather was getting worse. We got dropped off back in town and went for some lunch. We waited for their call once they had decided the new landing location. Talk about dragging out the suspense! But it was finally time, Sonya and Nigel got on one bus, Anna and Ben on another, only to reunite in a random field once they fell from the sky. To see their jumps, watch the videos below!

Nigel:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fomO7ke63GI

Sonya:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQaZP2MrY0A

That night we were staying in Mackay. For those of you who read our Wernadinga Station blog posts, you may remember Soggy, the most Ozzy of the Ozzies. He lived in Mackay but we unfortunately weren't able to catch up as he was away with work. We made a stop at the Capricorn Caves where we were given a full guided tour and a light show! We also spotted our first wild rock wallaby. We rather enjoyed our guided tour of the caves, mainly because we were joined by a hilarious Irish group who had their own running commentary going on which we could barley understand!

Earlier in the post I mentioned how Nigel and Ben had bonded over Bundaberg Rum. Well what was near the caves? A Bundaberg Rum museum and the distillery, in actual Bundaberg. Obviously we paid a visit and the boys were in their element!

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Our next stop was Hervey Bay. In whale season, this is the place to be. Sadly for us, it was out of season. That night we were greeted by a huge storm, which we didn't realise was happening until we saw it on the news! We soon were all sat out on the balcony watching the lightning whilst eating our snacks. It was a real strange experience as we couldn't hear any thunder or see any rain. All that we could see were flashes of both bolt and sheet lightening, it was like a whole light show all over again.
The reason we stopped in Hervey Bay out of season was to visit Fraser Island which is the worlds largest sand island! As we booked last minute, it was very hard to escape a touristy tour. We were collected by a late bus, piled onto a ferry (where Ben spotted another turtle) and shoved onto a huge 4X4 truck bus thingy on the other side. We had an average day, but we didn't enjoy being overcrowded and having limited time in good spots. We stopped at a shipwreck, a fresh water creek which ran along the beach into the sea and an amazing fresh water lake which was crystal blue and the highlight of they day. We were also very lucky to see a wild dingo! Anna and Ben took full advantage of the amazing white sand by doing a full body exfoliation.

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The next day we headed to Noosa. We love Noosa. It has such an amazing vibe. After spending a while looking for parking, we finally were able to get some much needed lunch. Ben was extremely happy as we went for burgers! Shortly after, it was time to head to the beach where Sonya bathed in the sun and Nigel sat on his chair in the shade! Anna and Ben decided on a more active activity, stand up paddle boarding. Ben fell off about 3 times, so Anna was happy she found something she is better at ;-) I don't think we would do it again, but it was fun while it lasted. When we got back in, Nigel and Ben bonded over coffee and a cake whilst Anna joined her mum to dry out. Not long after, Anna answered the phone to a rather excited Ben as he had just spotted dolphins reasonably close to the shore. We were all soon grouped around the water front pointing and shouting. Only a couple of other tourists joined us as apparently dolphins aren't exciting to Noosa residents. Anna and Ben decided to swim right out into the ocean near the dolphins to fully take advantage of this unique opportunity (And Noosa was the first beach where we didn't have to wear stinger suits!). As Nigel and Sonya stood on the beach waving, Anna and Ben were surrounded by Dolphins, it was a magical moment that either of us will never forget. We could hear them all communicating by clicking, it was surreal. We even spotted a baby! We lasted as long as we could before getting back out. When I say we lasted as long as we could, it's not because we were tired, it is because we were getting bitten by sea lice, the mosquito of the sea. We headed back to our accommodation. Noosa was a very busy place and we struggled to get accommodation. Our options were to spend a lot of money or rough it for one night. We decided to rough it and had an interesting experience. The apartment was designed to fit 20 or so people in it. It was also decorated what looked like 100 years ago. We spent the evening trying to arrange boxing day on Moreton island. Turns out every Australian in the country goes on holiday during the Christmas period so things get full fast!

It was Ben's favourite day, not only was it Christmas Eve, we were going to the one and only Australia Zoo, aka... Steve Irwin! We watched an amazing bird and croc feeding show before going around on our own discovering the animals the zoo had to offer. Although it was small, it was really good, and kind of emotional.

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Ben has some awesome photos on his Flickr page which he took with his 26th Birthday present, (Sony A6000) take a look!
https://www.flickr.com/photos/146840075@N08/

After the Zoo we drove some more and checked in to our amazing penthouse suit in Brisbane. Airbnb, you legend!

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After checking in, we drove to the... DFO! But we weren't buying more stuff we can't fit in our cases, we were doing secret santa! We pulled our names out of a pencil case, classy I know, then we all had a $20 budget and 20 minutes until the shopping centre shut! We all ran in ploughing down anyone in our way. We did really well though and even had sometime at the end to buy Dad some new trainers as his toe was coming out the end of his! It was all that sitting in the chair he was doing ;)
After stuffing our presents into different compartments of the car to stop each other seeing, we headed to Woolies to do a HUGE Christmas food and alcohol shop.
That night, we went out for dinner and watched a projection of a Christmas movie on the town hall building. We also enjoyed some live music whilst eating steak and ribs! And we did it all in the Christmas Eve style, in our hats of course!

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On Christmas day, we woke up and video called Anna's family whilst opening our secret santa presents. Anna had Ben and got him a disposable camera and a photo album. Ben had Nigel and got him a towel (because he forgot his). Sonya had Anna and got her some very comfy and much needed jogging pants. Nigel had Sonya and got her a nice colourful purse to match her very colourful umbrella which you may have spotted in the Whitsunday island photos. We watched Frozen whilst the dinner was cooking, and Ben even went for a swim. Cooking dinner was an interesting scenario as we had one pot and one pan. We managed it though, with Ben making the stuffing and Anna making some lovely northern Yorkshire Puddings. It wasn't long until we were all sat around the table popping the champagne and the crackers which Sonya and Nige brought all the way from England! We even decorated our Christmas tree...

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Christmas evening wasn't as fun. Ben and Anna spent a lot of time booking accommodation for the rest of the East Coast. It took a while and we ended up staying up late after video calling his family. We had to be up at 5.30/6am! We were extremely tired the following morning, but it was up and off to Moreton island! We just made it on time, well not really on time but they were slightly delayed putting all of the cars on. Moreton island is another sand island, but it has 15 shipwrecks which you can snorkel around. Unfortunately for us, the current was super strong and it was practically impossible to snorkel. Anna and Sonya tried it, but only Anna made it all the way out. Ben soon had to come and save her when she worked out she couldn't get back. There were so many fish but the visibility was really poor. It was still a really pretty place to spend boxing day, and to eat all the left overs of course! We all managed to get burnt though, too tired and hungover to spread the suncream easily I guess!

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It was time to drive to the gold coast. We headed to surfers paradise which is suppose to be really nice and well.. paradise. But the rain came and ruined it! So we did some boxing day shopping instead, but boxing day sales are not the same over here, they are just like normal sales. So Ben and Nigel left with some Aloe vera soothe that burn! We had planned to BBQ on the beach both on Christmas day and Boxing day but the weather just was not on our side. We also planned to do some surfing but the waves were rather very intimidating. We had a long drive to our accommodation, on the way we saw lots of bats and also drove past a crime scene which we saw on the news that morning as someone had been killed :-( Ben and Nigel were driving and they got stopped and breathalysed in the middle of nowhere! After getting lost and chased off someones drive by a scary old man we finally arrived. After cooking our BBQ food in the oven and eating it, it was soon bed for all.

Byron Bay day had finally arrived, and we finally went surfing!!! We are very out of practise but got some good ones in there.

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Byron Bay is similar to Noosa so we loved it too, however it's more quirky and full of hippies! There was one crazy hippie sat in a parking space saving it for his mate who was randomly delivering loads of coconuts! After some shopping we went to eat in a nice little Asian place, but it was nothing compared to Rice Paper Scissors in Melbourne.
That night we had the actual worst accommodation. Even when we went to Asia we had better places to stay! It was a motel in a town called Woodburn. It was the only place we could find that would fit all of us without paying outrageous prices! We literally felt like we were sleeping in a garage. We felt this more so when car alarms started going off outside. The only bathroom was in Ben and Anna's room. Nigel kept waking us up through the night turning the wrong lights on! It was an eventful nights sleep but we made it through the night and couldn't wait to leave the next day.

After a really nice breakfast we headed to Coffs Harbour. Sonya was the only one who ventured up a hill to scout out the views, the other three sat at the bottom in the shade. The horrible motel had taken its toll on us! Coffs Harbour wasn't really what we expected. It lacked in the water sports we had read about and so we decided to drive on, to Port Macquarie. By this time we were starving and not in a great mood. We went for dinner in a nice restaurant and headed to our hotel. We weren't really feeling it that day! Thank god this hotel/motel was really a lot nicer than the last and had a separate bathroom to Ben and Anna's bedroom.

It wasn't a long drive until we reached Port Stephens. Port Stephens has the biggest sand dunes in the southern hemisphere. We had booked to quad bike over them, and we were really very excited. We were actually early for once and so we decided that we should probably go and buy Nigel some sunglasses so he can actually see where he is going. After picking some that sort of suited him, we headed back and had a long wait. It wasn't that long but it felt it as we were itching to go. We enjoyed an hour or so of complete freedom driving, racing and doughnuting around the sand dunes. It was a super hot day that day because there was a heatwave. The guides told us it's hot out on the sand anyway but it was extremely hot that day.

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As soon as we got off the bikes and back to our cars, we headed to Anna Bay and dived straight into the ice cold ocean, and it was amazing!! Nige didn't get in though, he just sat in his chair!

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It's proven quite hard to keep together when driving in Oz. We often get separated at lights or roundabouts or as a matter of fact, any form of junction. It also doesn't help when everyone in Oz is in such a rush! There are people driving so close behind, people over taking on bends and squeezing into spaces that aren't there, and this isn't just cars, its lorries too! It was safe to say, we had had enough of driving. Luckily for us, we only had one day left! After having dinner at the Happy Wombat, we headed to our motel where yet again the bathroom was in Anna and Ben's room. Luckily the room was way nice than the one in Woodburn!

Today was the day, the drive to Sydney! We couldn't wait to get there and have a break from driving, but it was so sad that the East Coast road trip was over! When we arrived, we returned the rental car and headed to the Bridge & Opera house. We enjoyed a nice lunch under the bride when we noticed Ben's friend Alex's boat sail past. It wasn't long before Ben expelled all of the air out of his lungs to get Alex's attention. When they docked, we had a quick catch up as he had also been doing the East Coast a few weeks prior to us.
It was really weird coming back to Sydney. Not because we had started our Australian journey there, but because it was close to NYE and there were road closures and paths blocked off everywhere. Sydney looked very different to say the least.
We then got on the cool double decker trains back to the hotel, but turns out we got one to the complete wrong place and our hotel can only be accessed by bus... at least we got to ride the cool trains!
Our hotel was funny, I say hotel they were 'suites'. But the beds were tiny as was the room. Ben could open the fridge with his foot! Sonya and Nigel had a lovely balcony which opened up to.. a brick wall. All in all it didn't really matter as we were only sleeping and cooking there.
The next day Sonya and Nigel ventured out into the big bad city alone to do some shopping. Anna and Ben went to do some shopping of their own, in the DFO! Anna used her Christmas money to buy a nice new outfit for NYE, and it was a very sparkly one to match the upcoming event!

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Before we new it, it was NYE. We had a surprise planned for Sonya and Nigel. A garden party on an island which was a national park. After getting all dolled up we got the bus into the city. It was really nice seeing that everyone else had made just as much effort as us. We queued to board the ferry, which was a very interesting experience. There was security everywhere who were being incredibly strict. We had to squeeze through a tiny high fenced gate with our hand in the air showing our wrist band. We got through and got onto the boat. It soon set off and we had great views of the opera house to take a few selfies!

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When we arrived at the island, it was beautifully decorated. There was 2 bars, a food bar, a stage with a live band, deck chairs, bean bags, tables and banners. There was just one problem. There wasn't enough seating for everyone, and as we were the 2nd ferry to arrive, we got last dibs on seating. We found a bench but as it was covered in ants, we ended up sitting on the grass. This wasn't ideal after we had spent so long to get ready. We headed to the bar for our free cocktail which turned out to be lipton icetea in a bag. We then had welcome hampers in the style of a picnic, however nothing was gluten free and so Anna was not impressed. We were a bit disappointed with the evening as we had built it up as a big surprise and we didn't even have a chair for Nige! We perked up a bit when we found out the three course meal was all you could eat. We indulged on fish and chips, lamb and mash and desserts! Once it started to get dark and we had full bellies, and bottles of wine, we started to appreciate the views and where we were for NYE.

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Anna was determined to change everyones mood and have a fabulous night. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity after all. She practically wrestled a Scottish man for his bean bag as he was sitting on two! And as soon as people got up to dance, she took their bench for her parents. She then headed to the bar and bought a fair amount of alcohol. Phase one was complete. Phase two was to get everyone up dancing, and Phase 3 was to get everyone smiling. Phase 1, 2 and 3 - COMPLETE

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Before we knew it, it was the countdown. And I say before we knew it because Nigel had wondered off to the toilet and missed the bloody countdown!! The fireworks were insane as I am sure you saw on the news. We have a few pictures and videos but not too many, we were embracing the moment!

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What a night it was! We got back at 3am after a very long journey home. Sydney put on 3500 extra buses and 1000 extra trains, but with all the drunk pedestrians and road closures, it was an eventful trip home. On the upside, NYE travel in Sydney is free!

Next day we all had heavy heads. We practically spent all day inside apart from when we ate dinner on our balcony!

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Nigel's birthday was on the 7th Jan, however he flew home on the 5th. Anna wanted to get her dad a helicopter ride as he had gone on about it the whole time but we never had time to get him in one. She thought it would be a great idea to get Ben in one too since he had never been in one and then Nigel wasn't flying alone, a win win situation. We managed to drive a completely clueless Nigel to the airport before revealing the surprise news. We all piled into the office really excited only to wait around for ages, it was like skydiving all over again! When it was finally time to fly, we were informed that everyone had under estimated their weight. Anna wasn't far off Ben and Nigel's weight, but the other people flying were way out. They were that far out that if they had all got in, the chopper wouldn't of left the floor! There were two very overweight people who had to book a private flight later on in the day. Once they left, a rather unorganised pilot tried to sort a solution for the four that were left. We were there for about 2 hours before anything actually happened. I won't go into the details because it will bore you to death, but basically we had to pay extra because we got the weight wrong but then Anna and Sonya got to go in for free! So basically Anna and Sonya got a majorly discounted ride. Nigel was made up we all got to go together. It was really good and worth all the drama, even though it was only a 20 minute ride! But Nigel the birthday boy got to sit in the front!

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There wasn't long left in Sydney, we took Nigel and Sonya to NewTown which we think is the best part of Sydney as it actually has a lot of Character. They loved it too and Sonya even got a little personalised poem for her friend, not from a shop though, from a guy on the street!

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Bondi Beach is a must when in Sydney. Anna and Sonya's friend came to meet us here where we planned to finally have our BBQ. Tanya texted Anna saying theres so many people on Bondi, how am I going to find you? Anna replied, that's easy Tanya, look for the only guy sat in a camping chair! Nigel has actually become a landmark now. We had a really nice day and Ben went surfing for hours. But you know, whenever we mention BBQ, it rains! But that didn't stop us this time... we had the BBQ on the balcony!

That night we had booked our Sydney Bridge Climb. By the time we had eaten, missed the first bus and then practically ran to the office, we were late. The guy said that it was fine we could just fill our forms out downstairs and catch the rest of our group up. We thought great, until they had to breathalyse us all which was worrying as Ben and Dad had been drinking beers! Thankfully they were under the limit and we could go ahead with the very expensive walk! We soon suited up and met our 'tour guide'. What a legend! His name was John, he sang happy birthday to Nigel in Romanian, he had us in fits of laughter the whole time and John and Nigel are now Facebook friends! We had an absolute blast, and we are so glad we did the bridge walk at night. Just look at those views...

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The next day we had a spa day at the Hilton hotel, talk about going out with a bang! We had amazing massages and enjoyed all of the facilities the place had to offer. We were soon too hungry to stay any longer so went for burgers of course. We then ventured to a few more shops so Nigel and Sonya could get some presents and souvenirs. Sonya even managed to buy some art from an Aboriginal family. By this time we were absolutely exhausted. We plonked ourselves down in front of the Opera House and sipped on bubbly, what a way to end the East Coast road trip!

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We ended the evening by going for a meal in a German restaurant. The next day we were up early. Sonya and Nige to pack, and Anna and Ben to stuff anything they didn't need into a massive suitcase poor Nigel has to take home. After enjoying brunch in Surrey Hills, it was time for the airport. Some tears were shed, and we had an emotional goodbye. It really was the trip of a lifetime.

Now that Sonya and Nigel had left, it was time for us to crack on with some life admin. The car needed selling, we needed income and we needed to make sure all of our stuff would fit in the bags we had left! We had a car viewing but the guy cancelled as he had bought another car. This had put us in a really awkward situation. We had to check out of the accommodation the following day and we didn't have the money to pay for anywhere in Sydney. Luckily a very lovely Tanya offered us her air bed until we sold the car. The night before we checked out of our suite, we went to get some dinner. We were trying to keep the cost right down since we had splashed out so much when Anna's parents were there. We went to Mad Mex which is basically a Mexican version of Subway. We aren't really sure how it happened but we managed to get a lot of food for just $15! Either they made a mistake or there was some major discount going on. Still, we didn't say a thing and quickly hurried to our room to eat it!

After checking out the next day, we decided we needed to make things happen. Ben had been offered his job back in Melbourne and so we needed to sell the car fast. We spent the whole day going around Sydney handing out flyers to hostels to sell our car. We also put the camp chairs up for sale, although we were surprised Nigel didn't take his home! And Anna made the drastic decision to sell the iPad. I was silly to carry around a brand new Macbook as well as an iPad. We ended up back in Surrey Hills in the same cafe as the day before for some much needed refueling. After hanging around in a park, Tanya was finally back from work. After struggling to find somewhere to park, we carried our bags up and got settled. Tanya ended up going out for the night so we had the place to ourselves. She also let us sleep in her bed instead of on the airbed. Tanya lives in Potts Point which is right by Kings Cross. The contrast between these two places is ridiculous considering they are on the same street. When you come out of Kings Cross station, you are faced with pubs, bars, hostels and strip clubs. If you walk further down the road you enter Potts Point, which is like Paris in Sydney. It is really bizarre but it's safe to say we tried to avoid Kings Cross as much as possible.

The following day we awoke to someone wanting to buy Anna;s iPad. We offered to take it to them since we still had the car and we needed a quick sale. It only took 20 min to get there, but it took almost an hour to get back! We still aren't quite sure why but we were so ready to sell the car. The iPad was really easy quick sale. 2 things to go! Since we had gotten back, Anna's phone was ringing constantly. We had decided to renew the advert that morning. That day was a Saturday, and apparently everyone in Sydney wants to buy a cheap car on a Saturday. We had people making offers left, right and centre, but sadly they were all low offers. There was one guy who wanted to actually view the car first so we had a lot of hope on that. We waited around all day until he finally got in contact and came to view it. We really sold it to him and took him on a test drive. We think he already decided he was going to take it before he arrived he just wanted to be polite. He offered us $1050 for it, which is pretty good considering we bought it for $1400. It turns out he really needed a car as he had just flew into Sydney that day and found out his car had been towed away as they declared it as abandoned! Not only that, the flight lost his luggage and he had work on Monday! We took him to an ATM and he got the cash out there and then. He was also from England, but he was very Northern and extremely loud! We accidentally kept some paperwork he needed for the car but luckily he was understandable so we posted it to him! That evening we met with Alex and his girlfriend Lizzie. We had a good chat over some Mexican and beers, although Anna nearly blew her head off by accidentally ordering the veggie tacco! That night we were on Tanya's airbed. It was slightly larger than a single bed and so Anna decided she would rather sleep on the sofa than get flattened by Ben in the night.

The next day John was coming to meet us. John and Marita had previously allowed us to stay with them after we first landed in Oz! We are extremely grateful to them as they have let us use their address this whole time. Needless to say, John arrived at 10am with a lot of post and a parcel. Annoyingly for them, it was Ben's Wernadinga shirt, Anna's hasn't arrived yet so theres more mail going their way! After a quick catch up John made his way back home. Just in time for someone to come and collect the camping chairs. We couldn't believe that everything we had put up for sale had sold! Another quick an easy sale took the stress away. We were finally ready to leave Sydney and head to Melbourne. We booked our flights, which turned out to be quite the dilemma as Tanya didn't have internet, and we had cashed into the bank all of our cash on a Saturday... smart move as it wasn't released until the Monday morning. Luckily we had some money in our UK accounts so were able to book and get out of Tanya's hair. We decided to go to the Blue Mountains and make the most of our last day in Sydney. We headed to the train station, and we were that early we sat on the stationary train for almost an hour. We cant win with time, we are either way too early and wait around, or too late and just get in by the skin of our teeth. We arrived at around 3pm. This didn't leave us with a lot of time, but it worked wonders for dodging tourist and queues. We spent the day taking in the stunning scenery by visiting scenic world and riding the steepest train in the world! Plus their cable car and sky train.

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On the way back to the train station, everyone was sat on the edge of their seats as no one wanted to miss the train. The bus took so long and there was a lot of confusion amongst passengers as to when to get off. We finally made it to the correct stop and everyone burst off the train and ran to the station. It was literally like the scene of a movie! We just got up to the platform and the train was leaving. We missed it by 2 minutes! This was terrible as the next train was an hour wait. There were now people piled all over the pavement, this was going to be a busy train. When it eventually arrived, it was only a four carriage train. Honestly we momentarily felt like we were back in Asia. Mainly because all of the Asians instantly shoved through the crowds and ploughed people over for seats on the train. Luckily Ben is like twice the size of them so we were able to find a seat just fine. We were going to get back to Tanya's pretty late which was annoying as we were up at 4.30am for a flight out the next day. We all of a sudden stopped at a random station for a long period of time. The driver soon came on the radio to inform us that the trains couldn't go anywhere due to someone on the tracks threatening to self harm. I am not sure how long we were sat there waiting but it felt like a lifetime, it didn't help that we were starving! We were finally on our way! When we reached the dreaded Kings Cross station, we grabbed a Maccies and headed to Tanya's. We hadn't even packed yet! It took us almost 2 hours to pack, not because our stuff was spread over her apartment, because we had to keep weighing our hand luggage. We used Tanya's bathroom scales and did everything we could to try and get all of our expensive equipment on the plane with us. We ended up practically giving up, mainly because they were very unreliable scales!

It was 4.30am, pitch black, Tanya was up ready for the gym, we were not. We got ready and headed out into the darkness to catch the airport shuttle. When we got to the airport (in plenty of time may I add) we found out that we could check in as many bags as we wanted as long as it didn't weigh over 40kg. We managed to find an arrangement that worked, all of our valuables were with us as hand luggage. If only we had known this earlier! We headed through security and sat down for some much needed breakfast. By the time we had finished, it was time to board. We hurried to our gate and got in line. When it came to our tickets, the machine made a noise it had not previously made. Turns out we were trying to board the wrong plane and our gate was on the complete other side of the airport. Damn Melbourne for having more than one airport. We ran as fast as we could before the plane left without us. We made it sweaty and out of breath only to find it was slightly delayed as the cleaners were taking so long. I guess it was pretty lucky that we didn't miss the flight. It was an hour and 12 min flight, we spent the whole of it like nodding dogs, drifting off and waking up in shock once our heads dropped as we were sat so upright. When we got off the flight, we were relived to find our money had finally gone into the account. We got our bags, boarded the bus and enjoyed the views for the 45 min ride. We ended up in the CBD where we had to get a train to Essendon. Essendon is about 10-15 minutes from where we used to live in Melbourne. We were glad we were familiar with the area. As soon as we arrived to our AirBnB, we were greeted by a lovely Irish couple who we will now be living with until the 30th of Jan. We instantly unpacked and took a big nap, well Anna did whilst Ben watched some TV. Afterwards, we got ready and headed to HighPoint shopping centre. Some of you may remember it from previous posts. It's really weird being back in Melbourne. It feels like we have gone back in time. It is even weirder having to rely on public transport... we miss Sheila! We bought some turkish towels, Anna spent some Christmas money on a bikini and Ben bought a backpack. Don't worry we do actually need these items, they will fit in our bag! We then went to the cinema to watch Moana, Anna's favourite Disney film ever she has decided! It was really weird coming out of the cinema at 8pm in the light, but it was nice, the perfect night for a walk (because we missed the bus home). It took us an hour but we made it.

We slept really well which was good as it was now time for Ben's first day back at work. Anna headed into the city shortly after him to go back to the cafe she used to work at. They have a new owner so she has offered her services, both in photography and in hospitality. It's hard for Anna to get work for 3 weeks but at least we have some income now Ben is back at Public Outreach. Anna now has time to write this whole blog post whilst Ben is at work! Anna met Ben for lunch which turned out to be a bit of a disaster. Ben went to the tram stop he thought Anna would get off at, but she got off at another one, then the food took ages to come and Ben ended up eating Anna's toastie whilst running to work. Anna then waited, hungry, for Ben's pizza, then delivered it to his work so he could eat it on his next break! Anna then headed to Coles to do the food shopping, got the train back with all the heavy bags, but finally ate!

So that pretty much takes you up to where we are now. If there are mistakes in this post, I do apologise. It is now nearly 8pm and I started at 11am! Keep an eye on Ben's flickr page as he will be adding more photos. One thing I forgot to mention was that we took about five bags of things to a homeless shelter when we sold Sheila. It is amazing what you accumulate over just 10 months. Ben is doing well at public outreach, he has got a few people signed up already and it is only his second day. I am enjoying being at home despite the cooking and washing! We have a few friends coming to Melbourne in the next few weeks so I am sure that will keep me busy. I am looking forward to our trip to Tasmania which we plan to have over a long weekend, our photoshoot which is coming up on 28th of Jan, and Perth in Feb. Make sure to stay tuned, I am sure there will be lots to tell for Melbourne round 2!

P.s. If you subscribe to our blog, you will get an email every time we post a new entry. Just click subscribe on the top left in the navigation menu and add your email address. Now it's time for me to watch Netflix! Peace out!

Posted by Benannatravels 16:08 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Back to civilisation

Cairns, Queensland.

sunny 32 °C

Visiting the supermarket is normally an inconvenience to the everyday life. Visiting Coles was now a luxury in ours. We strutted in with smiles from ear to ear ready to hunt and scavenge for whatever food satisfied our cravings. We ended up planning to feast on a deli style buffet. After calming Anna down from the sight of the Christmas isle, we headed over to the deli bar to select our meats. We acted like we were baffled supermarket virgins as first we didn’t realise you had to take a ticket to get in line, then we asked how to cook Kranskey sausages, and then came the gluten free interview. Least to say the staff weren’t very impressed. We headed home and ploughed through everything. The only way to cure the fullest feeling ever felt was to swing the afternoon away in the back garden hammock.
We loved our airbnb. The host was amazing and it was luxury. Plus it had everything we needed and wanted. And more! We decided to stay an extra night and the host even gave us discount. We are glad we extended our stay as we then discovered Clifton Beach. A 2 minute walk from the house, it was paradise. A palmy beach with a mountainous rainforest backdrop and sandy sand. Heaven on earth.

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I think you could probably all guess where we went after we checked out of our beach house getaway… The DFO Shopping centre!! It was time to trim Bens fro, devour gluten free muffins which weren’t baked by Anna (which were buy one get one free) and replace clothes ruined by the stains of cow poo and god knows whatever else. After buying more things which we couldn't fit in our suitcases, it was time to head over to our new airbnb, where we would be spending nearly 4 weeks of our time. We drove away from the coast and into the rainforest mountains. You can see how high up the mountain from this photo of the driveway…

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Well, to say we are impressed with the houses on airbnb would be an understatement. We moved into our own little apartment, which featured a stunning pool and tropical outdoor shower. Brad and Nikki built their house from scratch, and we were lucky enough to be staying in their outhouse. From the description and the photos below, sounds and looks expensive doesn’t it? $35 a night!!!

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Brad and Nikki have two little girls, they are a lovely family and made us feel very welcome. It was soon time to start searching for some work to keep us going until Anna’s parents arrived. We had an idea to try and do some family and newborn christmas photography, inviting customers to the house with their pets. We put a few posts out here and there but didn’t get a lot of interest. We would of had to invest in props, decorations and maybe even lights so we have decided that we will try this over in Perth. Hopefully we can earn quite a bit of money from it and even maybe get some easter themed shoots.
Reading, music, swimming, sunbathing and being productive on the laptop were daily activities which kept us very busy. Ben has now completed around ten designs and illustrations for his website (coming soon). Anna has rebranded and has some exciting ideas for her website too.

We were enjoying relaxing and eating on the daily, we were actually a bit gutted when we got some job interviews. We both smashed a telephone interview which was for fundraising around Australia. We even got chosen for the second stages. We decided to turn them down as we had just got settled and we didn’t want to drive 18 hours to where the job started! Every week we would of arrived at a new location and also would of had to spend the whole time camping or sleeping in our car. Anna got interviewed at a travel agents but was unfortunately unsuccessful. Ben got interviewed for a gardeners job role but sadly they wanted someone more permanent. It was actually Brad and Nikki who landed him the interview.
Ben found a lady on gumtree who wanted someone young and strong to dig holes for her so she could plant some trees in her yard. Ben thought he fit the description well and so off he went at 7am to earn some extra dollar whilst Anna stayed in bed.
In other news, a new air conditioning unit arrived for our place. It was quite noisy and wasn’t very cool, but it was very relieving to have as it was and still is so hot!

We got around to finally selling the dodgy mac which we have carried around with us ever since we bought a new one in Melbourne. It was a complete disaster selling it though. After getting completely bombarded with offers, an asian couple came and picked it up for $400, almost twice what we bought it for. They didn’t even look at it before they left, just handed they money over. We thought, wow that was an easy sale, little did we know what we had in for us! A week later, the lady got in touch to say the laptop was too slow and she didn’t want it anymore. Anna convinced her it must of been her internet connection as Anna had edited several videos on it and it was perfectly fine. The lady then got in contact again saying we had lied to her about the year the laptop was made. Turns out Anna is rather dyslexic and should definitely check adverts before posting them. We agreed to give her $100 back for the inconvenience. Yet again, this sounds simple. Meet her, give her the money, leave. Well no. The first time we agreed to meet we ended up in separate shopping centres. Then she bombarded us with messages whilst we were in the cinema demanding us to drop money off in some asian shop, but finally we managed to meet her and exchange the money. Lets just say we are very pleased that that stress is now gone from our lives.

It was time to be tourists. Great Barrier reef here we come. We were very excited for our visit to Fitzroy island to say the least. After nearly buying tickets to an island which was 6 hours away, we were finally in the marina check in area. We arrived on time, 30 minutes before departure. We ended up queuing for the full 30 minutes and almost missed the 9am departure! We crowded on to the raging thunder boat… and sat with a rowdy group of hungover youths. 45 minutes later we arrived on the island. We took a walk through the rainforest to reach nudey beach. Don’t worry its not a nude beach. We arrived and painfully crossed the coral to find a nice spot of shade. After applying our suncream we noticed that the majority of people who were swimming in the ocean were wearing stinger suits. We thought these weren’t necessary as it was the very start of the season and no one mentioned them to us on the boat. We pondered over wether to rent some or not and decided its best to be safe than sorry. Ben trekked back over the coral and through the forrest to the hut where you rent gear from. A while longer, he returned empty handed. Turns out you needed your boarding pass to rent gear. Anna felt awful that we had been on this island for an hour and all we had done was tire a very sweaty Ben out. She accompanied him to the hut and we finally had stinger suits in our hands. We also got flippers to make our journey more worth while. Finally we were ready to go snorkelling…

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Well what a disappointing sight. I say sight, we couldn’t really see anything at all. Turns out there was a storm brewing and so the ocean was incredibly choppy. We drifted for miles and could barley see the coral reefs never mind the wildlife. After fighting the waves for what felt like a lifetime, we decided to get out. We were gutted as we had heard that Fitzroy island was suppose to be full of turtles, sharks and fish. We decided to try brighten our mood with some music and a good book. It was soon time for a late lunch so we packed up all our things and trekked back through the forrest. Well what do you know, the only restaurant on the island stops serving food at 2pm! We were so annoyed, we were only 8 minutes late. We headed to the convince store to load up on crisps and ice-cream. We had to return the stinger suits at 3 and so we decided before we boarded at 4, we would give snorkelling one last go on the other side of the island. We had a slightly better experience but then the GoPro camera died so here are the photos we managed to get…

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Nikki and Brad were selling their houses in order to move to a plot of land to potentially build another one! This meant that every weekend we had to leave for 30 minutes whilst strangers looked through our stuff. We decided to head to the local creek for a quick swim. It was very shallow and cold so after a paddle we headed back. Upon our return, thunderstorms struck! And they were awesome. Huge claps of thunder accompanied by dashing flashes of lighting. This was the perfect time to finally apply for medicare cards instead of putting it off for swimming and sunbathing. We can now have doctors appointments for free woohoo! If only we had worked out we could get them sooner…

The following day was not an exciting day. It involved driving all over town to find a new front bumper for poor old Sheila. We were getting quotes which cost more than the car itself! Finally we found a guy who could replace one for $200 including the bumper! He was a mechanic and so we also asked him about the weird sound our car had been making lately. After a 5 second investigation he realised we had been driving around with no oil! Thank god Subarus are so reliable otherwise that could of been nasty. We actually managed to drive around 1000k without oil… oops.

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On our way home we stopped at the flight centre to plan our route home. Our Australian visa runs out on April the 1st around 6am. We don’t intend on doing the farm work for our second year, so we would like to visit some other places on our way home. On the last day of March we plan to fly to Bali. Here we will visit the Gili islands and other Indonesian islands such as Lombok and Java. We then want to fly to the Philippines, then onto Vietnam to discover things we missed out ( Sappa Valley and the largest caves in the world! ) down to southern Cambodia for their dreamy beaches and then our plan is to fly to Thailand to visit Chaing Mai and their grand canyon. We will then head over to Myanmar, then Papa New Guinea and finally New Zealand and Fiji. This will take us just under two months.

Despite not having jobs we had been working very hard and watching the pennies. We decided to treat ourselves to a date night. A movie and dinner. Anna was extremely excited to see the girl on the train after loving the book. We got to the cinema and were told that the screen showing the girl on the train had broken. We ended up watching the new Harry Potter film. It was terrible. And dragged on. And on. And on. We were not impressed. We decided to reattempt date night the following day and head home for a really late home cooked dinner. The next day the family cat Boots decided to pay us a visit and spent the day lounging around our apartment.

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Date night: Attempt 2, This time we got to see Girl On The Train. It was just as bad as the film the night before! This time though we were determined not to let it dampen our spirits. We went for a meal at a Brazilian inspired BBQ restaurant where they bring skewers of different meats (including kangaroo) round to your table. It was amazing!

Anna here, to explain the latest medical report. So what I believe (can remember) we have written so far is that we both got treated for scabies and that the doctors didn’t really know what it was but I was also allergic to bites. Well I didn’t want to worry anyone so didn’t include the fact that I had blood tests taken to see if I had an auto immune disease. The blood test actually came back positive and so further tests were taken. Luckily they all came back clear so I must be in the 5% of women who have these positive results and no one knows why. It took 3 scabies treatments and leaving the station but we are finally completely well and have never been happier :-) Although I still get bitten to buggery.

We were so impressed with Clifton Beach we spent another day there. It was such a nice day and we practically had the beach to ourselves. The only downer was we weren’t able to swim due to the crocs and stingers, but we made the most of the day with a picnic and a bat and ball. Staying with Brad and Nikki was great, not only did we have incredible accommodation but they also gave us all the local tips for things to do. We have already said about the mountains and rainforests all around. The biggest one was the Pyramid, which we could see from the house. Apparently there was a track that started about 10 minutes drive from the house. So the next day we got up early and went for an adventure. It was hot and very tough but we made it to the top almost 2000ft above sea level.

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After a day of relaxing and LOTS of food we had just about recovered from the climb. We were back out adventuring, this time at crystal cascades. It was beautiful and incredibly fresh! And the fish weren’t scared you could practically hand feed them! We would have liked to stay longer but the flies were biting so we left hoping to return with Anna’s parents.

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We had to leave anyway as we had to start our new jobs!!! Nikki and Brad had asked if we wanted to do a bit of work for them gardening and house keeping. Nothing to heavy but enough to make a bit of extra cash. Naturally we jumped at the chance. We did a couple of hours every evening for a week in the garden, just clearing it up and making it look tidy for the open house every weekend. While we were raking we came across a snake. We shouted Nikki and she came over to check it out. The kids and dog were all very curious. Nikki however was very protective as it was apparently a ridiculously venomous snake aptly named the DEATH ADDER. Needless to say we left that area alone for a while. One of the more glamorous jobs was picking up the rubbish after some mystery animal had been raiding the bins every night.

Along with the gardening we were doing a couple hours house keeping on Fridays. The main job was to clean up the girls bedrooms. Mia the eldest had apparently all ready cleaned hers which meant she had stuffed everything in her cupboards and was now unable to open them without an avalanche of toys, dolls and dress up clothes burying her, or anyone else for that matter. Well, it took a while and in fact it was all we got done in the 2 hours. Nikki and the girls were extremely happy though. After we left the house, the dog, called Bobby, wouldn’t stop barking for us to come back, before we knew it he had squeezed through the gate and was begging for a tickle!

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After all the hard work gardening and housekeeping, we were in need of big showers. Anna went first and went to reach the soap and ended up touching a big nasty fury spider! Ben was soon put in charge of vacuuming it up. After our showers we were getting ready to make dinner and BOOM, what do you know the extension cable for the air conditioning actually blew up! Luckily no one was hurt during the dramatic event… apart from the floor tile.

So we have some exciting news, more for Anna than Ben. Once we return to the UK and do some house hopping to catch up with you all, we will be flying to Vienna to see Bruno Mars. Anna’s best friend is coming too. We have always wanted to visit Vienna so it should be good! You may ask, how can we possibly afford to be doing all of this? Well lucky Ben got a big tax rebate from working back at home and Anna’s dad Nigel was able to cash it for him!

Now for some bad news, Andy and Carrie, take a seat. Anna…. drove… over Ben’s bag… which had his… KINDLE in it! She is so sorry as she knows this was a big birthday present. We still to this day have no idea how she managed to do it. But on the upside, she went straight to Office Works and bought him the latest one which is touch screen and has a backlight! Ben has now transferred all his books over and so is still enjoying Sherlock Homes. (SORRY AGAIN!)

We probably keep going on about Brad and Nikki but a lot of the time we just saw Nikki as Brad works away. On one weekend, Nikki invited us out to the Tablelands for the day with her and the kids. We set off and drove up the windy roads stopping occasionally to let the sick feeling children get some nice hot air. When we reached the top it was a lot cooler than it was back at the house thank god.

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The first stop was a crater lake. A meteor had struck the earth and the hole had now naturally filled with water. Sadly we forgot to take pictures as we were too busy swimming and picnicking. Our next stop was the plot of land Nikki and Brad had bought. We did a quick tour and Anna even spotted a duck bill platypus in their watering hole! Afterwards, we visited what can only be described as a volcano hole. Huge amounts of lava were forced upwards creating an 800m hole.

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We walked around a bit and discovered this amazing waterfall creek…

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The creek was absolutely freezing cold but it was incredibly refreshing. Before we hopped in the car we decided to have a snack on the grass. We started to talk about cassowaries as it turns out they are extremely dangerous and there has been one sighted in the area. Just as we were rounding of the conversation, what do you know, the cassowary crossed the road!

Our second to last stop was a fig tree which had been taken over by another tree. It’s hard to explain so here is a pic…

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Our last stop was Gallos. Gallos is a small animal farm which makes amazing cheese and chocolate. After petting a few of the animals, it was time to cheese test! We fell in love with one of them and then accidentally bought a lot of chocolate too. When in Rome!

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It was time to head back, it wasn’t long before Nikki stopped the car to show us one last sight, and boy was it worth it. We sat on a log watching a small lake as the bored children climbed all over us as if we were a play ground. We managed to spot a water snake, a few turtles and another platypus! We arrived safely home after a great day.

Brad flew home the next day. He was really impressed with the work we had done inside and outside of the car. He wanted to give us a gesture of good will and so he gave Ben some beers and offered to service our car! We obviously accepted the offer as we had driven around for so long with no oil. Sheila has never sounded so smooth!

Brad mentioned that they get a lot of goannas around the house. They said they would shout us if they saw one. Nikki soon shouted us up but by the time we got there it had run off. Although on the upside we did find this massive stick insect…

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The TV in our apartment was pretty dodgy. Most of the time it wouldn’t turn on. One night it did and so we decided to watch a programme called First Contact. It was incredible. We were both very emotionally moved. The programme is about the indigenous people of Australia and their struggles. We now have a completely new view of the aboriginals and we wish every Australian could watch that programme. If you can catch it online at home, we would recommend a watch. We were that moved by it that we went online to watch all the other episodes. We also watched a programme called Exodus, our journey to Europe. Sometimes it’s hard to see people with such struggles when we are galavanting around the world. We appreciate our circumstances for sure.

So, as most of you may know, we have set up AB Studio. A business offering both photography and retouching worldwide. Ben is currently working on his website to offer design and illustration and Anna is broadening her skills to offer video as well as photography. We have now decided to start a final business. It is called Where We Went. We don’t have a website yet but we do have a Facebook page and have already got our first order! We offer custom maps so people can show their travels around the world. When we return home we want to set this company up to offer framed prints and posters. This business idea has stemmed from what Ben made Anna for her birthday…

https://www.facebook.com/WhereWeWentDesigns
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We finally got our final pay from Wernadinga, and we were very pleasantly surprised. Turns out when you leave, you get a big wod of money to make up for any overtime you may have done. Well we didn’t really do any but we will be taking it as compensation for the scabies situation!

The time of year has finally arrived. Anna can eat a chocolate a day for breakfast. Yes thats right, advent calendars! We purchased these on the way to the charity shop. We donated some of our stuff as we have so much of it!

Well, it is officially time to start the East Coast adventure. We packed our stuff and sadly left the rainforest apartment. We said our goodbyes to the Stewart family and headed off to our new location. Before we left we managed to arrange new year. We aren’t going to tell you what it is as it’s a surprise for Anna’s parents. I am sure you will see lots of photos and hear all about it very soon. We also have some exciting plans for Christmas day, it involves a BBQ on the beach and staying in a penthouse! Before we arrived at our new location in Cairns, we headed for a big fat juicy lamb burger. We have a lamb fettish right now and thought it was important to inform you all. We arrived at Palm Cove and checked into our luxury hotel. The room was a bit small but just look at the pool…

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That evening we had a lovely dinner next to the beach. We sat drinking into the night watching all the cyclist ride past dressed as Santa! Turns out there was a charity ride going on so we managed to flag one of them down to donate.

The next morning it was time for the big day. SKY DIVING had arrived. We woke at 5.30am and were at the check in office by 6.30am after stopping to grab a cereal bar. We then waited very patiently for almost an hour. Honestly the suspense dragged out, they didn’t help the nervous situation! We were soon harnessed in and introduced to the guys we would be strapped to. On the bus we hopped, to the airport! Well I think its safe to say neither of us have been on a plane that small! We all piled in, literally and sat in lines, it was like we were dancing to oops upside your head. For those of you who don’t know that song or dance (Anna knows her Auntie Sheena will) we have supplied a youtube link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW6TCrz4sDQ

We were up in the air, and not much longer did we think we were going down. No that’s not because we had a sky dive planned. That is because the pilot all of sudden rushed upwards and all of these sirens started going off. You know its bad when all the professionals start pulling extremely worried faces. Still we were the ones with the parachutes so I am sure we would have been fine. After the plane levelled off and the loud noises stopped, the door was opened and it was time to fall 14,000 ft from the sky. There is no words to describe this feeling, and so here are our videos:

Ben:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKFEaDWV_jc&feature=youtu.be

Anna:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj2UnaLZvuY

We landed on the beach which never usually happens. We were apparently really lucky, I guess its more of a softer landing! We were soon back on the bus to the office, completely dazzled by what had just happened. We were feeling incredibly queasy but thought that we should probably eat something. We headed to a cafe to try and stomach something. In the cafe we discussed the fact that we had just fallen from a plane and now we were in a cafe like it never even happened! It was one of the best experiences of our lives and Ben even wants to do it again!

We got back to the hotel and headed to the spa to confirm our massages which we had booked over email a few weeks before. Turns out they had booked over us. We were a bit gutted but thought perhaps it was a sign as the spa wasn’t as nice as we had expected anyway. We had a chill by the pool and walked to the beach for lunch. By this time we were starving but couldn’t pick where to eat as there were markets all down the beach. We finally settled and ploughed down our food, again reminiscing on the morning we had had. On our walk back to the hotel, a little boy noticed that a tiny baby bird had fallen from a tree. We wish we had a camera it was the cutest little thing.

Anna’s second birthday wasn’t over yet. After having a rest in the room, showering and getting dressed up, it was time for Anna’s evening surprises. Ben felt awful that Anna didn’t have a great birthday on the station and so he had planned bowling, a bar and a meal. We arrived at the bowling alley and got that into it that we skipped the cocktail bar and went straight to dinner. Anna thrashed Ben 323 - 282 and he didn’t even let her win. Dinner was amazing. We sipped cider (classy I know) and watched the boats go by in the marina whilst chomping on the best quality steak. We didn’t want the evening to end but we were rather tired from the mornings antics and so headed home.

The following day, Anna had managed to find a day spa so she didn’t miss out on a good massage. We headed to the beach and grabbed breakfast before checking in. The breakfast menu said that it offered award wining meals. Well they were right about that, their food was amazing and we fully intend to go back. On full bellies, we plodded over to the spa where we were greeted by a tiny Asian lady. She was so lovely and supplied everything we needed and more! We had incredible massages and spent all day relaxing in this tropical paradise…

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After we left the spa, we stopped off at Coles to stock up on food and alcohol. We had booked a private yacht for two nights, how posh are we! We finally managed to stuff everything we needed into just a few bags so we didn’t sink the boat. We got a tender over to our new home and were given what the guy described as a ‘quick induction’ as it was nearly sunset. Well… the sunset was well over by the time he had finished showing us .. stuff. A lot of it didn’t go in as alls we wanted to do was watch the sun go down with a nice cold beverage. We finally got what we wanted. A stunning sunset with a champagne toast… and loads of bats!!

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We listened to music throughout the night and managed to not set fire to the boat after rather merrily cooking dinner. We ate dinner on the deck under the moonlight. It was magical.

After a rather uncomfortable nights sleep and an unwelcome hangover, we cooked breakfast, had a nap and did some sunbathing. We had a great day although Ben was struggling to move around the boat as he is so blooming tall. We were also having some issues draining the shower, sinks and even flushing the toilet. Or should I say, pumping the toilet. The boat had some downsides but they didn’t dampen our experience. That evening after watching the bats, we decided to eat inside as Anna had been bitten to death of course. We ended up playing Guess Who and Monopoly into the night. We managed to sleep better too.

Ben unfortunately awoke with a rye neck. It was safe to say we had had enough of boat life. Ben just wanted to stand straight, and Anna missed the luxuries of a self flushing toilet. After cooking a BBQ breakfast, the tender arrived to take us back to shore.

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We headed over to Trinity beach to check into our accommodation where we would be spending around 10 days. We are actually staying in an igloo! If you don’t believe us, here is the photo to prove it…

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Anna’s parents arrive on Thursday evening. We are very excited and looks forward to writing our next blog post which will most likely be in the new year. It will be a good’en though. A full adventure packed story which we hope you enjoy reading.

Posted by Benannatravels 17:57 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Our ten weeks at Wernadinga Station

in video!

sunny 40 °C

Our ten weeks at Wernadinga Station.

Click the link below to watch...

https://youtu.be/W9qR4sClkyc

Posted by Benannatravels 14:39 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Goodbye Wernadinga... Hello civilisation

sunny 40 °C

Well, Where to begin? Where we left off would probably be a good place to start I think. A lot has happened since last we blogged, so make a cup of tea turn your phone off and have a break from whatever it is you're doing as, I'm afraid, its going to be a long one.

When last we wrote …something was happening… since then work has been ticking on along as usual. Ben has ridden Quads, drove lorries and finished his big garden jobs. He has also experienced Lick. Lick is what stations put out for the cattle, it is made up of lots of vitamins and minerals, salt and urea to make the cows drink. Lick comes in 40kg sacks, stacked up on palettes weighing in at about 1 tonne. Ben’s job for the day was to throw said bags out of the back of the lorry to Soggy, who emptied them into HUGE tyres. By the end of the day we had distributed 11 tonnes of Lick across half the station. It was a long day.

The bites Anna got had turned into extremely uncomfortable rashes, covering her arms and legs. We thought she should go and see a doctor incase the bites, fever and rashes were all connected to something more sinister. The Royal Flying doctor visits Burketown every Wednesday, we made an appointment and luckily she could be seen for free straight away. When she arrived she was recognised immediately, even though she had never been there before, she was known as the girl with no medicare card. Everyone wanted a look at the rashes, so 2 (yes 2 is everyone!) very animated doctors had a look and concluded that the rash was an allergic reaction to the nasty bites she had got. They prescribed steroids, in form of cream and pills, and antihistamines for the “Nasty, Nasty” rash.

Luckily we had the weekend off again, for some much needed rest for both of us. We relaxed as much as possible. Ben got his creative hat on and did some drawing while Anna got organised and booked and planned our East Coast trip which we will be doing with Anna’s parents.

Alas, the weekend came to an end all to quickly and we were soon back at work. All of us apart from Soggy that is. After breakfast there was another very awkward “staff meeting” where Randell asked Soggy why he was still here. After a very uncomfortable back and forth between the two of them, Randell told Soggy to pack his bags, a week earlier than they agreed. Needless to say this event set the tone for the rest of the day, if not the week. Soggy spent Monday and Tuesday packing up his stuff. He even donated some clothes to Ben as he only had 2 work shirts and a pair of jeans. Unfortunately they were a bit on the large side…

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It was mustering time again and maybe it was because we were missing our overseer or just coincidence but it was an eventful one. When it was time to move the cattle through the yards there was one very stubborn cow who refused to move. When she eventually did we realised she had just given birth to a calf that could barely stand. Jake put the calf into the force ready to be drafted with the rest. When it came to the drafting the little calf was still in the force and couldn't walk. Scared it was going to get trampled Ben jumped in and carried it through the race and into the big yard where it could lie in the shade and wait for its mum to come and find it. Nice story isn't it? Only Ben got covered in afterbirth and placenta juices, mmmmmm. After washing his hands in the trough the drafting got underway. Ben was working the back yards pushing the cattle up from the yards to the race. As he opened up one gate a cow saw the opening and flew at him. The gate was only open about a foot so Ben pulled it shut as soon as he saw the cow charge. An iron gate is no match for an angry cow though and it smashed through the gate swinging it back through the other way and knocking Ben flying. It’s hooves skidded inches from Ben’s leg. Before he knew it he was back on his feet helping Paige fix the broken gate so no others tried any funny business. The cow calmed down as soon as it got into the other pen. Ben was ok too. It had been a very long and very hot day. As a bit of a reward he saw a huge red kangaroo crossing the road on the way back to the homestead.

While Ben was getting beaten and battered by cattle, Anna was battling a growing rash. It had gotten even worse so we decided that another trip to the doctors was necessary. We booked another appointment with the royal flying doctor for the following Wednesday and hoped this time, they would be able to diagnose and fix the problem. The next day we made our way to Burketown. Ben went with her as the severity of the rashes had gotten incredibly sore and uncomfortable. We saw a more “together” doctor this time and told her the whole story. She concluded that if the steroids hadn't worked it probably wasn't caused by and allergic reaction although the fact that Annas eyes had started to swell said differently. She had a talk with the “Boss” who quizzed us both and in the end they decided that she was reacting badly to being bitten. The reason the steroids hadn't worked is because she was in fact still being bitten!!! by Scabies! We were both prescribed a one time use cream that we had to totally cover ourselves in before bed then wash off in the morning. We figured that the scabies had come from the dirty mattresses we were sleeping on and Ben probably had them too, just hadn't reacted anywhere nearly as bad as poor old Anna. It was a very unpleasant thought but by then we were just happy to know what was wrong and too have hopefully found a solution. When we arrived back to the station we were greeted by a new addition to the Poddy pen. Meet Monty Moo…

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Anna wanted to call him Moo and Ben wanted to call him Monty, Monty Moo was the natural solution. He was a very poorly little thing and could barely stand. We bottle fed him milk and cordoned off a section of the pen so the others wouldn't eat his hay and pellets.

That night after dinner we commenced our de-scabie-ing ritual and there was a loud croaking in the room. There are thousands of Cane Toads up here and they get everywhere. They especially like to hide in pipes. Out of sight out of mind you might think, and you'd be right, until they start to croak. The pipe acts like a megaphone. Not great when you're trying to get an early nights sleep.
The next day we rounded of our scabies treatment by washing EVERYTHING, leaving it all out in the sun and swapping mattresses. The new ones were only slightly better so we left them out in the sun too just in case. I think its fair to say we were really starting to crave city life!

On the thought of city life, as you know when we return to civilisation we will be jumping out of a plane in honour of Anna’s birthday. As she is an incredibly kind and generous person Anna has decided to turn her birthday present into a charitable Skydive. Anyone who is interested in helping out Cancer Research head over to her Just Giving page…

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Anna-Ashbarry-Skydive

To go along with the toads we are putting up with a bathroom that we could charge entry for as the station sauna, shotgun blasts at night and daily jobs like disposing of dead chickens and dismembered wallabies that are unlucky enough to find themselves on the same side of the managers fence as the dogs. And to put the icing on the cake poor little Monty Moo didn't make it through the night and had to be dragged away behind a truck. It’s definitely fair to say life is harsh out there. To make things a bit more bearable however we had yet another weekend off. We were beginning to think we had done something wrong with all the time off we were getting, nevertheless we didn't dwell on it. We made the most of our free time by finally going horse riding around one of the bigger paddocks by the house. This was Ben’s first time horse riding without an instructor so he was a little nervous. His anxiety wasn't helped by the fact that Karrie was thrown off her horse while we were having a practice session in the horse yards. He did well though and wanted to go round again! We really enjoyed ourselves despite the heat and the flies.

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After our intrepid exploration on horse back it was time to enjoy some much anticipated chicken. We decided to buy chicken once a week and have it on Sunday rather than eat more beef leftovers. A couple of weeks into our stay at Wernadinga and chicken was becoming the most exciting part of the week! We made some fajitas in record time as we were starving and only when we were sitting down to tuck in did we realise that the gluten free wraps we had been sent were totally mouldy! it was a devastating blow. Luckily we had some leftover GF pasta so anna boiled that up while Ben tucked into fajitas the traditional way.

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Yet again Monday morning rolled around all too quickly. Anna had been wearing a huge woollen cardigan to cover up her rashes, which I'm sure you can imagine got pretty hot. Caroline noticed this and despite knowing that they were most probably caused by scabies very kindly brought over a long sleeve top and lightweight hoody for her to borrow so at least she wouldn't be quite so uncomfortable in the heat. The summer really was coming round quickly. The temperature was occasionally reaching 42 degrees and the managers boys had their summer haircuts. I have a feeling they had used some of Ben’s gardening implements as their fresh trims weren't what you would call stylish. In fact it looked like they had suddenly developed alopecia! Ah well, who are we to judge, each to their own and all that. Along with haircuts, there has been a huge increase in the amount of mangos falling from the 17 mango trees. And with this the appearance of flying foxes had become a lot more common. But more on that a little later.

One of our shared daily duties as you may already know is feeding the poddys (calfs that still need milk but for some reason aren't getting any). On one of the days we were dishing out the pellets when Ben noticed a long scaly tail. A tail that in fact had a head. Yet another snake. He went for it with the hay fork a couple of times but missed. It slithered into the bed of hay. I should probably mention now that it wasn't a very big snake and it was also hay coloured. Needless to say he was determined to find it in case it bit one of the baby cows. He dug through the hay for a while and eventually caught sight of the tail again. This time however he had to reevaluate his approach as hitting it with a bent fork wasn't doing much. Anna in all her infinite wisdom suggested he just pick it up “you know, like they do on TV.” This wasn't very successful as you can probably imagine. Eventually Ben managed to get a clean shot with the side of the fork and cut the snake in 2. As we have previously mentioned we do not like having to do this but as we were told on our first day, the snakes can be extremely poisonous even when they're small so if you see one and can do so you should kill it for everyones safety. We told the guys that evening at dinner and were informed by Jono that we had killed a totally harmless legless lizard. Fantastic. Ben had had enough killing so later that week when he went to the toilet in the night and saw what could have been a very poisonous king brown in the porch he let it be and wrote Anna a note to be careful when she got up that morning because one of the worlds deadliest snakes was possibly outside hiding in the dark.

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With Soggy leaving we were left without a butcher. It took 4 of the guys an entire afternoon to kill, cut up and hang a cow in the cold room. When they had finally finished they had done a job, that would normally have taken Soggy a couple of hours on his own, so badly they had had to leave out one of the cows legs and they hung meat all over the other food in the cold room. There was blood everywhere! mmm mmmm. And who had to clean it all up? Anna of course.

When we first arrived at Wernadinga we had a chat with Randell and Caroline (the managers) for a couple of hours and were then expected to hit the ground running. Anna was provided a booklet of things that needed to be included in meals but the rest was up to her. Ben was given nothing, in fact Ben had been told several different things by several different people that all conflicted with one an other. After 2 months we had had no complaints and perhaps the half hearted compliment, compliments are few and far between in the outback. We were under the impression we were doing ok. Everyone liked Anna’s food and no one went hungry and Ben had got on with everything thrown at him despite the lack of instruction. One evening Ben accidentally emptied one of the water tanks which meant that our quarters and the girls quarters showers had no water. Watering the lawn was one of Ben’s main jobs and he was doing a pretty good job of it, i.e. there were some patches that weren't just dust. It was a simple thing to fix it just meant Randell had to drive 30 seconds down a track to the water pumps. The next morning though Ben received a stern telling off from Caroline who refused to listen to any of the sensible questions Ben was asking about which sprinklers and hoses ran off which pumps. He was not impressed. A couple of days later he was asked to speak with Caroline while in the middle of helping move cement for our latest guests, a team of solar panel fitters. She sat him down and gave him a list of jobs that he “should have been doing”. Things he actually had been doing off his own back since we arrived, just not in the managers yard where he was explicitly asked not to. This did not go down all well and Ben’s good relationship with the managers had unfortunately be ruined.

We mentioned our new guests, as once a week we usually have an extra pilot for dinner, maybe 2, but we now had 4 solar panel fitters on top of that. They ended up being 2 days late. Management didn’t tell Anna they wouldn't show up before each meal and so she continued to cook mass amounts of food praying they would show. Then they ended up staying 3 extra days so Anna was getting very stressed. So much food got thrown away as there were excess left overs, then we almost ran out of food as the 4 guests ate SO much and stayed longer than expected. All the illness, stress and negativity was starting to take its toll. We had 4 more weeks to go, which wasn't long but felt like eternity. Ben’s friend Alex from uni came to visit that weekend with his new girlfriend Lizzi. Anna had to work the Saturday but Ben was given it off. On Anna’s 4 hour break after lunch we gave them a bit of a tour around the station and very quickly started to miss life on the road and the freedom of travel, not to mention civilisation. With Anna not getting better combined with everything else, that night we decided to give one weeks notice and leave Wernadinga. We had a good time showing Alex and Lizzi what limited things were on offer in Burketown. We had a beer and played some pool and even managed to nab a roast chicken. We also found a dead flying fox, a glimpse of what was yet to come.

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Showing Alex and Lizzie the station definitely made us appreciate our experience but didn't change our mind to leave. Once again Monday arrived, we saw Alex and Lizzi off and we saw the best morning glory clouds yet. It was like the sky knew we were going to leave so made sure we all saw it. Then we headed over to see Caroline and tell her our decision. It was easier to do as Anna’s rashes had returned again!

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The rest of our last week was a strange one. Attitudes had definitely changed with the arrival of the new overseer and his wife who happened to be friends of Randell and Caroline, the negativity had increased if that was even possible. On a much lighter note though, Dale one of the regular pilots was staying over on halloween and unbeknownst to anyone had taped a fart machine to the underside of the table. At dinner he kept quiet with his remote and just when there was a dead awkward silence let it off. We were in stitches, that is to say everyone (even the solar panel gang) apart from the new overseer and his wife. It was coming from our end of the table and we were so confused as to who kept doing it. Accusations were flying every where even at Anna. Anna thought it sounded like a frog so ended up going under the table only to discover what she thought was a baby monitor. She thought it was Jake and Samara playing funny business but turns out the device was called ‘Fart Machine 2’. Ben then proceeded to ask Dale how many of these machines he had. After dinner Anna received a lot of compliments from one of the Solar panel gang, she wanted to know all of her secrets before they left the next day. We tidied up the kitchen and headed to bed. While we were brushing our teeth there was a knock at the door. The guys who were sitting at the rec room had seen a python and wanted to show us. As we went over, Jono jumped out in a werewolf costume! There was no snake.

Despite the lightheartedness of halloween night and the amazing feedback Anna was receiving we were ready to leave. We were sick of cleaning up after everyone, the lack of communication, the negativity, the bitching, the toads, the heat, the flies, the toads, the dirtiness, the room, the scabies, and the toads. Ben even woke Anna up in the middle of the night because a cockroach was crawling over him in the bed! On top of all that the way they treat animals up there is harsh to say the least. Ben witnessed a young cow getting kicked in the head until its nose bled and a baby cows being “accidentally killed” on a couple of occasions. Not what you expect when you are given the opportunity to work with animals. Especially on a station where there intention is to raise as many healthy cows as possible. On his last muster Ben was given the job of cutting the cows tails. Or the hair at the end of the tails. This is how whoever is drafting knows when last the cow was drafted by how long its tail hair is. It was a difficult job considering no one actually told him how to do it and in the end he had made a cow bleed and himself. Not fun. For the rest of the week Ben was given the task of picking up mangos, which apparently Randell just couldn't get him to do. Randell didn't seem to understand the fact that no matter how mangos are picked up one day, there will be just as many the next. While Ben was picking up the mangos he spotted something in the trees. He ran over to get Anna and her camera…

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After lunch it was back to picking up mangos only this time there was something else to pick up. Jono’s job for the afternoon was to shoot the bats. Yes, it was Ben’s job to dispose of the dead and dying flying foxes. We were definitely ready to leave.

It was Paige’s birthday during the week and Jono had organised a surprise birthday BBQ for her on what also happened to be our last day. We had a nice time having some sausages and beers with everyone and were even treated to a night time glory cloud! (Sorry no pictures as no one believed that what it was until it had passed over). We struggled through some awkward goodbyes and headed home for the evening to do what we hoped was a final scabies treatment. We packed up our stuff and headed out early the next morning, leaving a couple of little Benanna momento’s while still on the station…

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It was a 10 hour drive so at the first sign of life we stopped and bought some chicken, cheese, nuts and strawberries. Heaven! It was an event free drive with not much to see apart from lots of dead wallabies and the scenery get gradually greener and wetter. We arrived at our Airbnb at about 6pm. It was amazing. It was luxury. Ben got KFC. We were finally back to civilisation. It was just what we needed.

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Here are some photos of our time at the station, there will be a video to come.

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Posted by Benannatravels 20:26 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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