Thursday, 10 January 2013

Australia 89 - Travelling with Pat and Paula


The Bern wandering Years ......

.................are the travel diaries of Bernard O’Brien documenting the wanderings of a rugby mad Welsh teacher from June 88 to June 95. An eventful time in world history with the Tiananmen Square massacre, the fall of the Berlin wall, The San Fransisco earthquake and the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. It documents the Lions tours of 89 in Australia and 93 in New Zealand and the World cup in South Africa in 95 – presented by the great man.


I am typing them up – not in order..... But when I have the time... Hopefully I won’t offend or embarrass too many people ... it’s just what I felt at the time

Book 1 3 June 88 – 5th Oct 88
USA – Summer Camp,
Old Gayts Canadian tour,
Hitching across USA Canada
Book 2
swimming teaching
factory work
lions tor 89
Book 3
5 August 89  3 Oct 89
Travelling around Australia with Pat and Paula
Book 4 October 4th 1989 – July 12th 1990
New Zealand  U2 Commonwealth games
USA – mainland St Patricks day t shirts
France  Gunnersbury water sports trip
Italy Football world cup
Book 6
Book 7
Book 8
Book 9 January 8 1993 – 1 August 1993
New Zealand  Lions tour

Travelling around Oz with Pat and Paula August 89
Surfers well, so if anything ever goes wrong with the car again we will simply get the honey out. I phoned Seven last night because it was his birthday - I caught him home because it was his holidays - It's teachers like Kevin I hope to rope into my T Shirt selling scheme in the cesspit places of Europe. Benidorm,  Callella,  Magaluf etc. We went for a pizza last night then a couple of quiet beers before hitting the sack at 1/2 10. Pat was funny as he had the top bunk, it was the most unsteady bed in the world.
My plan of attack for today is to go to Surfers and have half hour in the sea on the bookie boards - then head for Brisbane. We will pick up the Irish girls and we need to get a roof rack. In the pub I want to watch live coverage of NZ v Australia - the All Blacks will simply murder them. I suppose it would be nice to see an upset, but I can't honestly see it. After that it is all consensus. I don't really want to stay in Brisbane as I have been there for 3 weekends already, but we will see what everyone else wants. I did 50 sit ups this morning. I have got to make some attempt.
11.40 Running about half hour late - never mind. A very cloudy day but when we went in the sea it was gorgeous. Paula wouldn't go in - me and Mackers steamed in - it was very rough = Mackers only caught one good wave - I caught about 5 - love it, I can't get enough of the sea + can't wait to hit the reef. As we were about to leave someone shouted "Bernie" - I looked over and recognised Paul Ennis from camp last year. He is living in Brisbane and has changed his name to Paul Matthews .  Great to see him - a pity really that we only had a few minutes to chat. It would have been nice to have had a beer. If you stop to think about it it's unbelievable but it happens all the time - Yosser, Nicky Lia in Brisbane, JT in Sydney Welsh. Last night I got a "I support Greenpeace" sticker which is now on the car. Pat reckons that's a bit rich when driving a V8 that uses half the world's daily output of petrol.

Sunday 6th August Noosa Heads
11 O'Clock start - I hoped to be off at 9 but we had to wake all the girls at the Downtown, then shave and shower and had a big breakfast. Abut of a dispute where to go today Frazier Island v Rockhampton with the latter winning. R is about 6hours worth so we hope to drive for about 3hours then hit the beach + then off again. A photo of the Tropic of Capricorn will be worth keeping. The weather is boiling.
Last night we arrived in Noosa about 7. We all went to the local pub. It was fairly dead so we went next door to where a Band was playing. The people we are travelling now are Bernie, Orla, Loraine and Caroline. Bernie was a riot last night selling arsehole t shirts. She sold 2. Me and Pat kipped in the car, fairly uncomfortable really as believe it or not it's not big enough to stretch out in. It will hopefully be a tent tonight. One of the things we keep swing is Big things. Big banana, Big pineapple, Big pineapple and we saw a sign for the Big fish. Pat loves it and is all in for missing the barrier reef to take pictures of Big things. Woke up this morning to see 5 pelicans - a bit different  from London, Cardiff and Swansea.
11.30 - just passed the Big strawberry - getting loads of postcards.
Tuesday 7th August 8.30 am from Larcombe to Yeppoon
An early start after a very eventful day yesterday . Our first disaster was our choice of beach Bargara - very impressive + miles or should I say K's from the Bruce Highway. We had food and drink - sandwiches again and then went off heading for Rockhampton. Our next disaster was we ran out of petrol again. Pat walked to the garage with a can. The girls welcomed the chance to smoke. We trundled along until we had our major disaster of the day. Orla was driving and all of a sudden it became very bumpy. We pulled over and there was smoke everywhere - it smelt like a hot water bottle. The tyre had blown and it was in tatters. Quite frightening to look at. We took some photo's but my camera never worked. I hope it is just the batteries. I have only had it a week. Pat jacked it up, the girls smoked and I had a look at the spare tyre - it looks dreadful. We need to get two brand new tyres - I think they cost about $300 so we will get a brand new one and use the dodgy one as a spare again. Pat jacked up the car, but couldn't get it down so the girls flagged down a car and they helped us out. On we went intending to stop at the next petrol station but it was closed we were running low on juice so we stopped at this pub which was closed. Me and Orla went in to see the best place to go - this bloke who looked like IGOR came to the door and this big Aborigine behind him, I was all in for going but dopey Orla asked for some bread and milk. We then drove around and I found some open space. Caroline and Bernie went to ask for permission to camp. The funniest thing of the night was they were both petrified of all the dogs. Caroline was about 10 yards behind Bernie. If a dog barked, Bernie would twitch, Caroline would run, hotly pursued by Bernie. This happened twice, we were in tears laughing - in the safety of the car. We were shown a place to camp by an irate copper who said we were disturbing the neighbourhood. It wasn't us - it was the dogs. We eventually set up camp in the show ground. It was a freezing night but I was fine in my sleeping bag Everybody else suffered from the cold. My tent was brilliant because of the fly sheet - it kept out the heavy dew.
10.30 ROCKHAMPATON - Yeppoon. We got our new tyre - it cost $80 while they were fitting it I nipped over to the garage for a shower. A bargain for free. The girls are staying in Yeppoon backpackers. I will be sleeping in the tent most probably. We intend to go to Great Keppel Island tomorrow- hopefully sell some shirts
5:30. Yeppoon backpackers - the best backpackers me and Pat has ever sneaked into. Disaster follows disaster. I have lost my St. Georges card so I had to phone Sydney to order another one. Fax and a letter - I will pick it up at Eirlie beach. I wrote a post card to mum and dad and I am writing one to Caroline. I posted a wedding card to Peter and Marie. This afternoon we went to the beach - boiling. I went in the sea to try out my new snorkel and mask. I also went for a run. Really hard work. Quite a good laugh throwing a boomerang with a nutcase of a dog chasing it.
Tuesday 8th August 3pm Great Keppel Island
Up at 7 showered and breakfast in time to get a boat to take us to the Island. The boat trip blasted about 2 hours - we stopped off at a beach playing this egg chucking game. The best crack was boom riding - a net over the side of the boat which was in the sea. Every one kept moving along and we all had a go of being supported by a single rope being dragged along _brilliant laugh. We visited an underwater observatory and saw some reef and some fish. Unfortunately though the sea was too choppy to go snorkeling which I was keen to do. We are staying on the Island till half 3 and then back to the mainland. God knows where we will end up today. Ian afraid to say I had a roasting yesterday off Bernie for being too dictatorial in where we are going. She has a points buts we have got less time than them because Paula has only got 3 weeks left and I don't want anything stopping us going on the barrier reef course. Me and Pat had a good laugh by going in this boiling Jacuzzi but we got chucked out by this irate bloke.
Wednesday 9th August Mackay
Up very early and booked into what looks like a brilliant hostel for only $5. Lots to do here on first impression although it Lois like if you are not careful you could pay quite a bit. Last naiaght we camped in a field. Petrol was running low so we cut our losses and had a fee kip in the tent. On the way up. we had a massive scare. Markers screamed out 'Kangaroo'. This roo was on the other side of the road. He was massive -about 6 foot. As we approached he just stood there and started running towards us.. I thought we would give it a glancing blow with the side of the car, but thankfully we missed it. It would have caused loads of damage to the car. Pat also had to slow down as a bingo was on the road as well. We saw another this morning. Most of the wildlife is splattered over the side of the road. This afternoon I am in a tennis competition hopefully.
Thursday 10th August KoHuna backpackers Mackay 9:10
Up fairly early because of the noise in the bunkhouse. Thankfully the wind seems to have dropped which has spoiled the sea over the last couple of days. The place here is idyllic but last night in the bar was solo dead. There was carpet bowls taking place - full of the wrinkles. Me Pat and Paula were drinking and were joined by Orla and Caroline. It only livened up when this really drunk Aussie bloke joined us and me and Pat tore him to shreds - we welcomed his views on Aborigines, Unions, Poms etc - he was more right wing than Thatcher. Today hopefully should be a good crack. We are going horseriding. $25 - money is a bit of an embarrassment at the moment . I have got enough, if you ever have enough but it is in the building Soc and I can't get it out until I get to Airline beach, so I am Barry the borrower at the moment. T Shirt sales are very low because everybody is on a budget - it would be handy pocket money if I could get rid of a few. Mackers reckons he has been sparked. My lions shirts make me a gutsful, he puts some money into cotton and we can't give them away.
1PM A fun filled morning - basketball, archery and a swim. The girls made a great Becky to give us energy for the horses this afternoon. Hopefully they will put me with Ed the talking horse rather than Nijinsky having a grand national flashback.
8pm. We are all about to go on the town to Mackay this evening because the girls know an Irish girl who lives here and the place was dead last night. Today the horseriding was brilliant - the second time I have been and I even got into a gallop a few times on the beach. My horses  was called Maggie believe it or not. I called it HFAR. Pat had never ridden before so he was very nervous. We split up into groups - most of us went into the middle group. Paula had a fall and hurt her hip, but it was on sand so it shouldn't be that bad. The funniest thing of the day was our horses had been walking and "Brumby Bob" gave Pat's horse a whack on the arse so it started centering. The look on Pat's face ! He started screaming “He has gone mad." I was giggling like a pixie until "Brumby Bob" smacked my horse and off he went. Galloping was brilliant but I was scared stiff throughout. We also went through the "crocodile path" Knee high in swamp, the bottom of my jeans got soaked. At the end we went for tea and damper - Bread and treacle. A really good crack. Tomorrow we may go into the rainforest then hitting Airlie beach for the evening and hopefully I can get to the post office for my new bank card and I can pay all my debts. I sent cards today to Lucy, Hungry and Nan Manly
We are just about to drive down the really steep Rd. The Eungala national park is a huge tropical rainforest - the road was recently damaged in a cyclone, so we could only get up driving certain times of the day. Paula was driving like Mad Max = CFAR really had it's suspension tested. We looked for platypus but unfortunately didn't see any. Beautiful scenery. Palms everywhere and the sounds of Cockatoo's and Kookabara everywhere (too many everywhere's in a sentence) We went to a lookout point with a great view of the valley and had a bit of a picnic. We all dived into the car and couldn't get it started, my heart was in my mouth for about 20 minutes. but this old boy gave us a hand and something to do with the starter was out - it must have been all the bumping when Mad Max was driving.
Saturday 12th August - Peter and Marie's wedding
A lazy day, - Me and Pat have booked out of the hostel - I am not that impressed with it so we will be Kipping in the car tonight I am all organized for the wedding party on the beach. We have got 2 bottles of Moet and some other grog. I have ordered a wedding cake with Peter and Marie on it and we have some confetti. I will phone later and also try and phone Marie. My disaster with the bank card continues. The post office is closed till Monday. I now owe Paula $145 and Pat $140. We have booked to go on a sailing trip tomorrow.
Wednesday 16th August - Airie beach 9am
Loads to catch up on because we spent 2 days on the Whitsunday Islands and I didn't take the diary. I have just spent the night in the car
Saturday was brilliant - all 7 of us went over the beach and also a Scots girl and a few Irish lads from the hostel. The cake was really sickly. We drank all the champagne threw around confetti and took loads of photo's but my camera got stuck which I was annoyed with. We had a whip and got another box of wine in. I phoned Peter and woke him up and I also phoned Marie and she was in the hairdressers so I phoned her later. Cath was around mums house so I had a long chat to her. IT was the girls turn to cook so we had a big spag bol - we then went to the Irish boys room for a sing song and a chat. A really good evening,  loads of drinking and on TV England were getting slaughtered in cricket. The party broke up by watching Black adder. From the hostel we went to a pub called the Hogs breath. Then onto a party. Pat was quite funny, after a week trying to get him to do his Belfast accent he started and we couldn't shut him up. The party went on to the early morning.
Sunday saw a very hungover party of 7 of us in Cfar to get to Shute harbour -we were about half hour late. We loaded sour gear onto a beautiful yacht called NARI - we were given a pineapple drink which went down the wrong way. It must have been the worst boat trip I have ever been on. Pat told the hangover joke about the bloke lying in bed - his wife came over and said I have bad news, Fred is dead. The bloke replied "The lucky bastard". I was so I'll I was throwing up all the way over and eventually I was heaving and nothing was coming up. I was at the most beautiful place in the worlds and I was dying. They all went snorkeling and I went for a sleep in the shade for a sleep. I couldn't face the smorgasbord salad but I recovered a bit and went for a Short snorkel. The coral is so gorgeous - just wetting my appetite for the diving course. We all went to a secluded beach called Joe's beach on Whitsunday Island. We set up our tents and cooked ourselves a spud supper. I was in charge of the fire. Just call me pyro. The tent was a bit of a squeeze - 4 of us in ours and 3 in the other one.
Monday was a very lazy day on the Island. Spent most of the day reading Howard Jacobson's In the land of Oz - I went snorkelling - brilliant saw Boy George fish and Shirley Bassey fish. I have yet to see Mackers Tartan fish. The coral was gorgeous. Food was fairly scarce - just sandwiches all day. We had a cracking fire in the evening and drank a case of beer. How I could even think of that after dying the day before I will never know. Ray wasn't in my good books. He brought some more people to the beach, even though he knew we wanted it for ourselves.

Tuesday. Went for a snorkel early in the morning but it wasn't good as the tide was in and you couldn't see the coral as it was too deep. It was a really cloudy day, we all sat around waiting for the NARI to appear. We were greeted by a crunchy and a can of coke and the girls dived into their fags. The boat trip was uneventful (thank god) sailing past all the Whitsunday Islands. The girls booked into the backpackers and me and Mackers went into the car.
Wednesday. Nightmare start. My new card was not in the Post Office so I phoned Sydney and had a row with the woman. I can now go to any Metways building society and get $ 500 advance until I get my card -now in Cairns post office. I need the money desperately. I owe Pat $200 and Paula $140. I also have to pay for my diving course. Everybody says bad things about the course in Cairns because they are so overcrowded so we will probably do the course in Townsville. I met Linda and Graham , so we spent all the day on the beach. Messed around with the frisbee and did some serious tanning. They said they met Nick and Mike and that they did the course in Townsville and they loved it. We packed the car to head North but the girls changed their mind and we stayed another night in Arlie Beach. Hit the Hogs Breath pub again. Pat had the car, I had the tent , the girls had moved it. Pat swapped an arsehole t shirt with this 40 year old "madam".
Thursday 17th August
Still in Arlie Beach. Wasted all morning really, while the girls were faffing around. We are leaving the girls in Bowen So we will have to get more people for the car - hopefully we will see some hitchhikers. The most important thing for me is to get to the building society and get some money. Weather is perfect. Good news is in Sydney it is really cloudy. World news is that unbelievably solidarity are about to take power in Poland. English cricketers are about to go to South Africa and also rugby boys may go as well.
Half 5. Lesson learned. Don't lose your cashcard when you are on the move. We stopped in Bowen for the girls to get out and I took the opportunity to get $500 out of the building Society. It took me an hour and a half. I had the apprentice doing it I think. Igor back and all the girls gear was still on the roof. No accommodation for them in Bowen so they decided to rejoin us on the trip up to Townsville which we should hit tonight.
hail o great one
May the road never ride up _probably see you tomorrow -Lorraine
Zeig Neil. You would be far to tough to eat Ber! Lots of love - Orla
Lots of love 17/8/89 sloppy kisses Caroline xxx See you whenever !
Enjoyed all the sharking Bern....Catch you again on your travels Love Bernie. Thanks for everything.
Our t shirts haven't been selling well. Mackers reckons he has been sharked. I will probably lip in the car again tonight. A bargain for free. The nights have become really warm as we have travelled North. One incident was a giggle in the car. Paula bought a jelly snake - blue, green and red. I put it on Pat's shoulder. He screamed and threw it on Orla's lap - she had a fit. Meanwhile the lights changed and all the cars were backed up behind us.
Friday 19th August 10am Townsville
Well sharked last night. Everybody booked into the backpackers. Mackers couldn't take another night in the car so eve he went in. Decided to kip in the car. It so happened that there was a spare bed in Pat's rooms I settled in until this woman came in with someone else who had obviously paid for the bed. She said that there should only be 3 in here and then went out. I did a Houdini and quickly dressed and sneaked out, so I ended up in the car after all. Early on in the evening we all went for a meal. Me and Paula ended up in A Chinese. At the backpackers some bloke bought a Lions shirt so it paid for the meal - very nice.
On the agenda for today - we are going to look at a diving course. I am very keen to do it. It costs $325 for a five day course - 3 days in the pool and 2 days out on the barrier reef. What a crack that would be. I would have to go to the building Soc again and suffer all the palaver of getting my money out again. A piece of wisdom from the weirdo sharing the girls room. "Who is the more foolish the drunk or the man who talks to the drunk." Weather is perfect, writing Thais sitting around the pool.
1pm. Me Pat and Paula went to the dive shop and we can't get on tomorrow but we are in for Monday. Our teacher, believe it or not is Jake Taverner from Lady Mary - another one to add to the list. Paula is astonished, I am not the least bit surprised. I got $500 out of the building society to pay for the course. We have to get a medical and our plans will change again. We might as well go to Magnetic Island and Geoff's Place for the weekend, rather than hang around Townsville. After the course we can then go to Cairns via Mission Beach.
Sunday 21st August- Geoff's Place Magnetic Island
Things keep changing, yesterday morning Paula decided she couldn't afford (time wise) to do the diving course - we decided to postpone it. Me and Mackers will do it on the way back down south through Townsville. Mackers has got to be able to equalise his ears anyway. We went in and talked to all the lackeys and then the Head Honcho himself Mike Ball. He wouldn't give us our money back which we wanted, but we compromised on Paula getting hers and me and Mackers holding a stand bye. - There is no possible way that I won't scuba dive the Barrier Reef - I have never been so determined t do anything so much in my life. Yesterday was another wasted day. Me and Mackers, bored by the pool chucking each other’s clothes in. Very mature.
We had some grub and then to a very to Magnetic island. We told the girls to take off their watches because of the magnetic field. They half believed us but little bit gullible - Lorraine when the captain announced it over the tannoy. ( we had had a word with him) She put away her watch. Bernie was in two minds as well. We got the courtesy bus to Geoff's Place which seems OK. Last night we hit the bar and I sold a t shirt to a Welsh bloke from Bridgend. We are camping for a few days. Our plan of attack is to stay here for a little while and then on to Mission beach and do white water rafting and then onto Cairns. The girls, I think intend on travelling up with us - will we ever get rid of them!!!. In the bar last night I got stick off Paula for semi semi ripping into this bloke. God, if I would have really got stuck in with Mackers and Jacko we would have crucified him. He was public school educated - Wellington - he told me it was one of the top public schools. I well impressed, also Cambridge followed by TA stint in Sandhurst including two tours of Northern Ireland as a little boy soldier when we has 20 + 21. Also his travels included visits to the much maligned republic
Monday 21st August Geoff's Place. Magnetic Island
Up at 9 to give the keys in and get my $5 deposit even though we have every intention of staying tonight. Yesterday we hired mikes and went to this beach. After a huge hike we went to this fantastic beach, it was gorgeous.. I had a bit of a snorkel and practiced equalizing. I saw this huge skate or stingray or something lying on the bottom. It was huge.
In London there was another tragedy. A disco boat on the Thames sank killing 30. In the evening we went to the bar at Geoff's place. I sold another t shirt so it was basically a free night. If I sold one a night I would be well happy. The highlight of the night was a really los girl Michelle diving on the quietest bloke in the world Andre .I was in tears laughing. Weather today a bit cloudy, but it was like that yesterday morning but it cleared up great.
Tuesday 22nd August. Ferry to Townsville
We are on our way to Mission Beach today, We had to pick up the tent etc. this morning so we were all up early. My back is really sore from yesterday - the reddest back in the world. I wanted to go fishing yesterday, I was going to go with 4 lads but we couldn't get a boat so we ended up going miles or k's to this quiet beach and did some snorkeling and had a laugh playing touch rugby with my hat. In the evening I had a steak meal and sold 3 t shirts. It was the ideal evening for having few beers.
This morning I phoned up mum and dad. The wedding was "just wonderful" and they have got the parcel I sent containing the videos and my sheet. Dad wound me up saying that mum had washed it. I have got to get some new shorts as mine are mank. I must have about 10 lions shirts and then iron so that I can sell them.

Hopefully at Mission Beach I will be able to go whitewater rafting. I am quite confident that me and Pat will fill the car when we go inland. The weather is so perfect it's untrue. I am glad we are in the car today because there is no way I could hit the beach anyway because of my back.

9pm Mission Beach Backpackers
We got here about 6. It was a three hour drive. Unfortunately we haven't seen any Cassowaries which are fairly common around here. I did the washing but not all the stains on the t shirts came out. Me and Paula paid $74 to go Whitewater rafting tomorrow, I can't wait. We are being picked up at 8.40 so it should be a full day. On the way up we stopped to have our photo's taken next to all the sugar cane. I have yet to see photo's from the camera, I hope they are all Ok. The weather continues to be glorious. Paula booked her flight to Sydney for Monday. At the moment there is an airline dispute affecting internal flights. Hopefully she will be alright.

Whitewater Rafting

Wednesday 23rd August 6.45 Mission Beach Backpackers
Up at half 7 this morning - got very little sleep last night because the bloke in the bunk above me was snoring like no tomorrow. I showered and had breakfast - there were 4 other girls from our backpackers on our trip and we ended up in the same boat - they were a good crack. There must have been 7 boats on the river. We got drenched - totally exhilarating and great fun. The bloke in charge of us said "Is anyone confident" Me and Paula Said we were so we had the best seats of the boat right at the front. We were instructed of where to go if we had to go left or right and the down position. Obviously the rapids were the best - the longer and steeper the more exciting . Dinner was a BBQ followed by a rope swing. I thought that the bloke who ran it was a div head. Our bloke was quite amusing - I liked his definition of monster sperm to describe the foamy water.
One of the other boats tipped and was stuck against a rock . We weren't strong enough because of the water pressure so more people were needed before we dragged it off. Going over the biggest fall me and Paula became "The offering to the water gods" We had to put our feet over the front and cling on to the ropes. As we hit the water the impact threw us both back in the boat with Paula landing on top of my head. The River Tully ran through fantastic sub tropical rainforest - just like the textbook. It would be fantastic teaching material. The rainforest was so thick with creeper and trees growing out of The V s of other trees. The gulleys were really deep and it would have been interesting to see the River in the wet season.
At the end we carried the boat to the truck and went to a town and country club for some food. We were a bit late and most had gone. I had a fairly good feed but Paula wasn't happy.
In the news the air traffic dispute is still on which could affect Paula on Monday .
We viewed the vid and will probably get some photo's. When we got bad we found that Pat and the girls had another eventful day as well. They had to get 2 new tyres because of a blowout and they had to be realigned = $$$$$. On a more serious note Bernie came up a cropped when she slipped on rocks into a pool. Bernie is not the strongest of swimmers and Pat reckoned she could have been a gonner. Lorraine pinned her against a rock and Pat helped them out. We  could do with less drama's like that on this trip.
I am fairly shattered - we will get to Cairns on Friday so that I can pick up my card. I will be sleeping in the car again tonight - save $10 and hopefully be able to use the hostel facilities again. Weather was fairly cloudy- just seen on the news that. Sydney's weather is 10-16 and Cairns is 19-25.
Thinking again of T Shirts last night . I may try and get a "Keep New Zealand clean - throw your litter in Australia shirt with. a Gren Welsh scene on it and also a Commonwealth games shirt on the streets for the Christmas market

Thursday 24th August Mission Beach Backpackers
At the moment II am writing this in hiding by the side of the car - last night we went over the pub - it closed at 10. We decided to get in a couple of cases but we couldn't find any anywhere. It was a good laugh anyway as this Irish lad Sean led a sing song - he had a brilliant voice and it went on for ages. Me and Mackers sneaked in for a free night - hence the reason to be in hiding at the moment. It looks like we will be on the way to Cairns tonight. I will be at last able to get my card tomorrow. Bernie was in favour of tonight. Orla wasn't too happy about it at all. Weather today gorgeous - I will have to be careful about the sun.

Friday 25th August Cairns. 4pm
Not very impressed with Cairns at all. Weather is very cloudy and very humid. The beach is like mud and the hostel is the worst I have been in. The rooms are a mess, it is really crowded and the beds are really uncomfy. I have spent the afternoon running about quite a bit. My card was not in The Post Office !! I honestly could not believe it. At the Post Office was my new pin number - big use that is and a statement , I have got $2075. I wanted $1000 to go to NZ with so that leaves me with about $1000 to keep me going. I have still got a few T Shirts left to sell which will hopefully boost my income.
The pilots dispute is far from settled. Paula could be in trouble on Monday if it is not settled. I went to the immigration office and paid $50 to extend my visa for 2 months, I have got to collect it next Friday.
Last night we stayed in Mission Beach in a luxury apartment. Orla and Paula met this girl Ann who we had met in KoHuna and Arlie Beach. - Mackers got a shine for her. We went for a coffee, had a few beers and stayed the night despite the fact that the landlord phoning them saying we weren't welcome. We saw Good Morning Vietnam on the vid. The girls were looking after a quadriplegic Andy - 29 who had been in a car accident - I honestly don't know how he copes. We went swimming in the sea and it was amazing to see all these phosphorous dots in the sea. Everyone got a bit burnt today.
6.30 Recent news on the airline strike is not good - all the airline pilots walked out. and Paula's flight has been cancelled from Cairns to Sydney. This puts her in a really bad position - she has got her money back but her options are now severely limited. She can't get a train because it doesn't get in till Wednesday and even the bus which takes 48 hours (AAAAARGH) only gets in 2 hours before her international flight takes off. This will obviously put a real downer on her holiday.

Saturday 26th August
A very hot humid day which I have just fostered around in. I didn't get up till half 12 because last night we were drinking tequila spammers. I haven't got a clue how many we had but it was loads. First we went to a backpackers restaurant - $5 for all you can eat - a real bargain. We then went to a pub full of Aboriginals before going to this other place. Last night we moved to a new hostel - Tracks because the other one was a hole. I have put up notices all over the place to fill the car around Oz - we had a reply from a kiwi bloke II will have to get in touch with. Next week II hope to go to Cape Tribulation. I am thinking of doing a few days of fruit picking first.
Paula is off tomorrow on her horrific bus journey so she has been shopping for pressies all afternoon- I messed up on the rafting photo's- ordered the wrong ones but we can pick up the right ones tomorrow. We also saw the video we have bought

Sunday 27th August
Paula leaves in about an hour’s time - she has got a horrific journey to do. 2 days on the coach and 2 days in the air. Rather her than me. I have booked a trip to Cape Tribulation tomorrow - looking forward to it. Yesterday some bastard nicked my bag containing about 5 shirts. I was doing well as I sold about 6 last night. We went to Magnums again. I spent a long time talking to the Geordie couple Pippa and Steve. We were also drinking with a crowd of Jocks - good laugh. One of them - Johnny is coming to Cape Trib with us. We have had a good response to fill CFAR to Darwin it looks like a Kiwi bloke will be with us, a girl called Minnie and two girls Catherine and Julie. I have met the girls - they seem ok but I have yet to meet the Kiwi.
10.30 We just dropped Paula off at the bus stop- sad to see her go as she has been really good company. It was great to see her over here. I would not be surprised at all if she applies for a working visa in the next 3 years. Weather is so humid. I phoned Mike Ball and we are to do the diving course a week Monday. Up tomorrow at 7 am for the bus to Cape Trib. Very quiet evening playing cards. We did chinny chin on Johnny the Scot - worked brilliantly on him. I sold a couple of Lions t shirts - being an optimist I will take a few up to Cape Trib. Really funny talking to Pat about the arsehole t shirts as they are obviously a flop and he blames me 100% for conning him into it. - Pat says he is basically fed up with it all. The girls aren't coming up with us so I probably won't see them again, which is a pity as they are a good crack even if we did have our ups and downs. I did some swimming teaching with Bernie this morning. in the swimming pool.
I am quite happy with my tan but I have to lose some weight off my stomach as it's a disgrace. Having said that Cape Trib will probably be a very heavy sesh.

Monday 28th August 8.58
Sitting on the bus to Cape Trib, fantastic scenery of the coast. Bus is air conditioned. When I got out for a stop there was a "wall" of humidity. Seen lots of cane fields on the way up.

Cape Tribulation 1pm God this is beautiful - the bus journey was a real treat - the driver for a change was very informative and we stopped at some really interesting places. A tarmac road took us to the Daintree river. Notices about crocodiles were worth a photo. We crossed the Daintree on a car ferry then it was on a dirt road through the rainforest proper. We stopped at couple of viewing points and a strangled fig which me and Pat did a "Tarzan" on for photo's. We also saw these amazing little plants called sensitive plants. If you touch them they immediately curl up. We are staying for 2 nights in a place called "The village" in Cape Tribulation. I have only been here for an hour and I would like to stay for another day. Cairns holds no pull for me at all now. We are staying in very clean wooden shacks. My bed overlooks a really scenic rock pool which we had a mess around with, with a ball. I have yet to make it to the beach, but I have had a game of volleyball. The social life is rumoured to be excellent but also rumoured to be expensive.
I was thinking of doing a couple of days fruit picking but what I may do is be more aggressive in my t shirt selling. As II see it I can never ever lose now on the Lions ones as the ones I brought with me were profit anyway. I would have got about $60 fruit picking so if I spend a couple of hours visiting all the youth hostels I will be very happy if I sell 6. Pat is still concerned about the arsehole t shirts - we will probably start dumping them for $10 - we paid $8.70 for them. My Lions shirts still remain sell able at $20.
The weather is very cloudy very warm and very humid.

7.15. In this village two people have got on my Lions shirts and I have already been asked for one by three people. Very promising. I spent all afternoon down the beach. Very difficult to describe the path that leads through the rainforest to the beach. - It is a wooden raised platform - below is mud with dense branches - apparently it is fraught with danger if there is a beach party. People often fall off and the way to get along the path is on your hands and knees. It is now raining very light and it's warm. It is so humid as I write this and there is a permanent noise of frogs cloaking and crickets. I have come back to stick on Jeans on because of all the nasties. I really want to do a nighttime jungle tour tomorrow = What a fantastic place this is. My heart bleed for Paula - she is still on the bus and will be on it before 2 days on the plane.

Wednesday 30th August The village Cape Tribulation 11am
I am sitting here by the rock pool - weather is very hot. Last night me and Pat went on a night walk in the tropical forest. It was really different I am so glad I did it. There was a bit of a party on in the hostel, but my attitude was that you can get drunk at any time but this might be my only chance to see/experience the rainforest in the dark so you have to jump at it. There were about 10 of us with our guide in a 4 wheel drive. Went over really rocky roads that CFAR couldn't handle. We went along a path which was walkable but all along were vines you had to climb over. The guide had set traps using banana as bait and they were all full. There were cane rats in two of the traps - one he reset and caught a bandicoot - a marsupial that looks like a large rat. We saw a huge strangled fig which is formed by seeds germinating at the top of a host tree in bird droppings. The roots then climb down the host and embed themselves in the ground. They then strangle the original tree. They are huge. At one stage we all stood in an enclosed area and turned off our torches. We then listened to the noise of the wildlife - fairly deafening really: Birds, insects and all the nasties. The guide was saying that the human imagination makes things much bigger. We were told about logging and the damage that the cane toads and wild pigs can do. WE saw two wild pigs at the dump. Really huge. I would not want to mess with one. We went looking for crocs which was a laugh but we didn't see one. Up to my ankles in mud. We got back and my 4x was nicked from the fridge - had a chat to a couple of girls from Brecon, had a few beers and went to bed. The whole camp seemed to be messing around in the rock pool which was very noisy.
Today has been fairly quiet - bitten all over my ankles. I wrote some postcards and done nothing. I have booked in for another day and will be sad to be leaving this place - but really looking forward to doing the diving course in Townsville.
6.15 Spent all day lazing around a swimming / water hole - very cool which is a relief as it is very hot and humid. I had a disaster in that my flip flop bust - I only bought it on Friday so I got sparked. I had to hobble all the way home. A quick change of footwear and we went on a tropical fruit tasting session which cost $4 but I avoided paying by sneaking out at the end. There were star fruit (nice) custard fruit and chocolate chip cookie fruit. The smelly fruit (durian) the killer fruit - if you drink after eating it you die. The queen, Jack and king of fruits, boy George Fruit and Shirley Bassey fruit. Squishy black nice fruits and red dry citrus fruits. To end it all was miracle fruit which could be described as pewk fruit.

Thursday 31st August Cape Tribulation 1 pm
Unfortunately we have got to leave this gorgeous place. I spent all morning swimming around and lazing around the rock pool - weather absolutely fantastic. I sold 3 t shirts so it was a little bit more pocket money. Last night we had a few beers and went for a swim in the pool at 1 O 'Clock. I don't want to go to Cairns at all - probably end up sleeping in the car tonight and Friday and hopefully sharing the back packers by using their facilities. I will have to do a stock take on how many Lions shirts I have left - I am all in for going around the Cairns hostels tomorrow.

11pm Tracks Backpackers Cairns
Booked in for tonight, maybe spend tomorrow in the car. Me and Pat went to Backpackers for food - a bargain for $5 for as much as you can eat. We then did some serious running around to fill the car from Townsville to Darwin. - I have yet to contact Minnie - she wasn't in but she is is right through. Also a girl called Josie from here to Townsville. A cockney lad Tommie might come as well. From Townsville is Minnie, Julie and Catherine, also Lindsey from London who is very loud and her kiwi mate - should keep the costs down. I phoned Paula and she is now in Cardiff - I have got to send her a shirt for Hungry. It looks like we will be off to Mission Beach on Saturday morning.

Friday 1st September. Cairns
Woke up in Tracks hostel and booked out. We will spend the night in the car today and save $10. Same old story - budgeting on essentials and spending it all on booze. I got all I wanted to do except get a pair of flip flops. I posted a shed full of postcards and a shirt to Mike Radburn also my tax form. I posted a shirt to Paula for Hungry. and the white water rafting photo's. I also AT LAST got my cashpoint card and went to the immigration office to get my passport back. I have extended it to November as a holiday visa, but I won't need it that much. Pat was saying that he wants to go to Melbourne from Ayers Rock. I thought we were going straight from the rock to Sydney but that looks impossible. From Ayers Rock you have to continue South, there is no other way. We will have to go through Cooler Pedy, Port Agustus, Adelaide and then Melbourne where I can hopefully get a cheap flight to NZ. The size of this country is huge.

Time wise - it looks like a week to stay in Townsville to do the dive course, Sat 9. A week to get to Darwin - 16th: A few days around Darwin/ Kakadu/ Katherine Gorge - 21st: 3 or 4 days to Alice - 24th: A couple of days at Ayers Rock/ Olga - 26th: Then about a week to get to Melbourne - Oct 4th and then flying out as soon as possible - 7th !! Money is obviously going to be scarce. I have got $1500 in the bank and $300 in cash BUT - I have to get to NZ. If I spend all the money I have I am on $48 a day. I did plan though to leave for NZ with $1000 that would put me on $21.50 a day.

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