The last page dedicated to my trip in Australia. After mid semester break there was about two months left, however I also had exams during this period, and I figured I should study a little for them. I still managed to go surfing, celebrate Thanksgiving, and go to Alice Springs.
If you go to Australia, there is an expectation for you to go surfing at least once. As much as I dislike watersports and sand, I went with George, Kamil, and Gerhard on Halloween. Which made it an awesome Halloween, as the Americans showed the Europeans how silly the holiday is, and I was warm on the beach instead of cold as I remember from previous years.
2009-10-31 We went to Manly, as we had never gone before, largely because it involves switching busses. photo credit - Kamil
2009-10-31 Here is us walking to our destination with the surf board we borrowed from Rachel (lives upstairs). photo credit - Kamil
2009-10-31 I am posing with the surfboard here. I don't know what to do with it. Also, you may notice some dangerous pipes in the background, that is where we surfed. photo credit - Kamil
2009-10-31 George was the first one in the water, and the first one out. photo credit - Kamil
2009-10-31 I totally know what I am doing. photo credit - Kamil
2009-10-31 I was not successful with surfing and quickly back on the beach. photo credit - Kamil
2009-10-31 We were too cheap to buy a surf lesson, however we weren't too cheap to eavesdrop on this one. I don't think it would have helped much, and it was funny to watch. photo credit - Kamil
2009-10-31 Just as we were leaving we saw someone dressed as Santa march into the water and get handed a waiting surfboard. Unfortunately, he never managed to stand (for a great boost to our egos), and his costume slowly fell apart. photo credit - Kamil
It was brought to my attention that there was art being presented on the same walk at Bondi which I had walked earlier in the year. Leaping at the opportunity to become more cultured, I forced Gerhard, Natasha, and Zdiska to join me. I forgot I had my camera in my bag for half the walk, so I only have two pictures from it.
2009-11-07 It was cloudy all day, and about halfway through it started raining hard. So we tried to wait it out under a bush, and I took this photo of the people still getting wet.
2009-11-07 There was no rabbits or mirrors involved, yet I still was powerless to stop the giant dominoes.
For some reason Australians don't celebrate Thanksgiving. I had an exam on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday, so I was lazy and did not cook a dish. It is always fun to explain American stuff to foreigners.
2009-11-26 We actually had too much food, which is impressive as we are all students. However, we weren't able to finish dinner before the sunset, but here is a picture of half of what we made. It was fun explain casseroles to people, especially the French who use the word casserole for something different.
2009-11-26 Luckily I gave my camera to Natasha (from my building, not the one who I travelled with). She took a lot of photos, including this one. From left to right, we have Marie, Jenna, Hannah, and Ann.
2009-11-26 Just as we were finishing dinner (candlelit, so not too many photos), it started to rain, so all the food was rushed into the first floor, where my flat is. Consequently, I cleaned up most of the dinner. Featured here is our excellent photographer Natasha.
2009-11-26 Unfortunately my flatmates were not at dinner with us due to conflicting schedules. However, I did get to show them how delicious everything is when there is butter involved. Ryu, Natasha, and Allen.
2009-11-26 Ryu wears a hat when it is sunny out, and he wanted a picture with me because of the similarities. I don't know who looks more silly wearing a hat.
After exams I had some time before I could meet up with Jeff in New Zealand. I wanted to see the classic Australian Outback, as my trip so far mostly involved beaches or forests. So I decided to go to Alice Springs and see the big rocks they have there, as Uluru is supposed to be one of the major attractions in Australia. After completing the trip, I would say the tour of the rock formations is interesting if you are passing through Alice Springs. However, this is very remote and expensive to access, so for the same airfare you could go somewhere such as Fiji or New Zealand.
2009-11-30 As I furiously packed (sorry roomies for anything I left not clean), I realized I did not have enough space to pack all the stuff I had accumulated. Because all stores except Woolworths is closed Sunday night, I constructed a bag out of my pillowcase and some cord. I took this photo before sending it to be checked, suspecting it may get destroyed. The bag survived beautifully and I took it camping with me too, allowing it to resume its original function of a pillowcase along with my overnight bag.
2009-12-01 Alice Springs is actually a pretty boring town, as I did not want to visit the reptile exhibit. This is a picture of ANZAC hill, with the moon in the background, as I walk up it.
2009-12-01 Alice Springs.
2009-12-01 I watched quite a few sunsets and sunrises on this holiday.
2009-12-02 The next day I joined a tour bus early morning, and the first stop was a camel farm where you could ride a camel for five dollars. Naturally I was much more interested in trying a camel burger. I want to say the meat is somewhere between lamb and beef, however the burger was mediocre. I need to save final judgement for a better prepared sample with more trimmings.
2009-12-02 We stopped to look at a guana crossing the road. You don't want to be bit by these guys, because they have enough bacteria in their mouth to make anything sick, and they follow you until you die. A car of Aborigines pulled up shortly after us, and this guy knocked the lizard out by throwing a stone at it. They then took the lizard with them. Our bus's vegetarian asked them to kill it so it wouldn't suffer, but instead the Aborigine broke its legs, which horrified her. This practice stems from not having refrigeration, so breaking its legs stops the lizard from running away and the meat stays fresh.
2009-12-02 Here is the Wedge Tailed Eagle which flew away as soon as anyone got remotely close to it. It used to hunt medium size animals in the desert, however now it dines mostly on roadkill.
2009-12-02 Here is Uluru from the first campsite.
2009-12-02 We were lucky as it was not too hot (mid 30s) during the holiday. This let us hike through Kata Tjuta, with the Valley of the Winds walk.
2009-12-02 On our walk to the valley we saw some kangaroos. Can you see it in this picture?
2009-12-02 Here is the valley of the wind. I could not find Nausicaä.
2009-12-02 As we drive away, you can see the valley in the centre of Kata Tjuta.
2009-12-02 A wild dromedary.
2009-12-02 My tour guide (Doc) said this overlook is supposed to look like Africa. According to my research with the documentary "The Lion King", I must agree with Doc.
2009-12-02 It's me! And I haven't shaved!
2009-12-02 I did not know it but the sun setting at Urulu is famous for producing a colour change on the rock. Here is the crowd of people waiting for their picture.
2009-12-02 Here is the rock before sunset. I was more concerned with my future dinner.
2009-12-02 A panorama after the sunset. I fail to see the awe-inspiring change of colour.
Day two of my trip was mostly Uluru, followed by an hour at the pool.
2009-12-03 On our way to the sunrise observation, we stopped at the sunset observation area to get a silhouette photograph. I would have preferred to have watched the sunrise from here, I already saw it change colour yesterday and it was boring!
2009-12-03 Before and after again, but reversed! Sorta. Yet from the other side.
2009-12-03 After the sunrise. The only thing I was thinking was "we could do the base walk now, as it is light enough to see and 15 degrees cooler than the afternoon".
2009-12-03 I walked around the big rock in the ground. Not much to photograph besides rocks and trees. There are areas of Uluru which people aren't supposed to take photographs of because Aborigine culture designates certain areas forbidden for men or women to view. National Geographic accidentally got a guy in trouble for seeing a rock he wasn't supposed to, so now the park says not to photograph certain sections. However, to me it all looks like a big rock.
2009-12-03 The actual colour of Uluru is supposed to be white, however the red dirt of the outback colours it rust red.
2009-12-03 Formations are smooth because the formation is sandstone. We received an informative lecture on the creation of all the rock formations, with the valley of the winds formed from rocks deposited from glacier movements, and Uluru as a sedimentation deposit. There used to be a big sea in the middle of Australia, so I figure if we warm the planet and raise the sea level a hundred metres or two, we'll have TWICE as much beachfront property in Australia. Flawless.
2009-12-03 A bunch of drawings are under these rocks. Almost all caves had drawings. The people who live in this area would reuse a rock for new drawings, so most are relatively simple and recent. There was one picture of a plane even.
2009-12-03 As I did not bring a razor with me on this trip, I am looking more scruffy. However, water is always a fantastic thing to photograph, especially in the Outback.
2009-12-03 Me in the green area provided by the watering hole. I think (not sure) that this is the area that the Aborigines of the area wouldn't harvest from. That way they would exhaust the resources in the nearby region, then leave for six months, allowing plants to regrow.
2009-12-03 This is the waiting cave. After doing a walkabout, the young men would wait here until the elders called them to initiate them into manhood. The story is that some boys were waiting here while the rest of their people were attacked and forced to leave. So the boys waited until they grew beards, and they melded with the cave.
2009-12-03 Driving to Kings Canyon, we stopped at a dune which looks at Mount Conner, also known as Attila.
2009-12-03 Opposite Mount Conner is this salt plane, and I have never seen one before, so I am interested in it more than the rest of my bus.
2009-12-03 This is at the campsite we stayed for the night. As uneventful as this picture looks, I was thrilled by all the telephone poles being made of steel! Also, we passed a bank of solar panels which probably powers these lines. I am still under impressed by the solar adoption in Australia, even in Alice Springs it seems like solar water heaters are on maybe one out of three buildings, and photovoltaic cells are one in ten.
2009-12-03 There was two Dutch sisters who wanted to have a silent disco - everyone listens to their iPod and dances to whatever they are listening to. While the sisters danced next foundation over, the Koreans and Taiwan couple started doing organized dances, with arm movements and everything. Jay in the middle here was superb at it. I now want to go to a Korean disco, it must be awesome to see.
Day three took us for a hike through King's Canyon. I really enjoyed this hike, as the terrain was the hardest we saw (still very reasonable), and the scenes changed.
2009-12-04 Here is the canyon which we hiked around the outside of. Even though there is no water currently, you can tell riverbeds in the outback by the gum trees which line the riverbed.
2009-12-04 This is to the left of the above picture (west?). Really, I just like the tree on the right-hand side, it reminds me of the beginning of LOOM.
2009-12-04 This is taken in "the amphitheatre", which is a name made buy travel agents. Still looked cool.
2009-12-04 Looking back at my tour group. If you look closely, you can see some overhangs on the cliff edge, so we were supposed to stay well clear of the edge. However, I feel that there is a fatter tourist who already went on the overhang before me, so I'm fine.
2009-12-04 A bird. It has the same name as the grass next to it, and I can't remember either.
2009-12-04 Here is the canyon again.
2009-12-04 These domes are cool looking. They are all over the place at the top of the canyon, with one area being called the lost city. Which is a real disappointment if you are looking for a building to hide from the sun in.
2009-12-04 This is the "Garden of Eden". When it rains, this area is damned up, and fills a couple metres high with water. So these plants live underwater for a couple of days a year. However, it lets these ferns survive, as they are normally native to rainforests near Cairns.
2009-12-04 The two major sheared faces.
2009-12-04 Ignoring the overhang warning, I got a little close to an edge. Luckily, Doc (pictured here), leaped to my rescue.
2009-12-04 My shoes bit the dust during this trip. It was interesting to find the source of rocks in my shoe was a gash in my heel. It was more interesting when I tripped on the other shoe as bits of the tread tore away.
2009-12-04 At the pub Alice's Place with my tour group. I had a flight first thing in the morning and drank away the last few of my Australian dollars that night. I was not happy the next morning when I discovered the bus to the airport needed five dollars and I would need to stop at an ATM.