Monday, 29 June 2015

Australia: Month 6 recap

Today we have a 6 month recap post instead of my regular Monday post detailing my trip to Monkey Mia at the end of May. Can you believe it's been 6 months today since we landed at Perth Airport? Nope me neither.

*Just a heads up this is a loooong post*

In 6 months we have explored every nook and cranny of Perth and we are itching to get ourselves to Brisbane and start exploring somewhere completely new. We also have our dreaded regional work to look forward to once we are there - Can't wait! (Not).

Despite having seriously itchy feet, looking back Jody and I have both enjoyed our time in Perth and we have seem some beautiful, once in a lifetime kinda things - Our only regret is living with friends when we first arrived and not moving on from Perth a little bit sooner. BUT we can't go back in time so we are just going to enjoy our last few months here as much as possible!*

My god this feels like yonks ago. Everything was so new and fun and HOT. I celebrated my first Summer birthday and we had our first trip to Fremantle and met some locals at Caversham Wildlife Park. We also took full advantage of the beautiful WA coast line and spent a lot of time getting aquainted with the sunshine at the beach.

In February things got a bit more serious and we started looking for jobs. If you recall Jody got one straight away and I got a bit down 'cos I still didn't have one by the time March rolled around. In terms of what we saw, we explored the beautiful Kings Park for the first time and had a nice morning with all the wildlife at Perth Zoo

In mid-March I finally got employment and sighed a huge sigh of relief. We got up close and personal with the quokkas of Rottnest, checked out the Sculpture by the Sea art show at Cottesloe and had a swim up at Serpentine Falls.

April meant Jody's birthday and as he isn't particularly bothered about it we didn't do a right lot to celebrate. We were both working hard and were looking desperately for a new place to live. In between saving and house hunting we went to the Motor Museum of WA and HELD A KOALA BEAR JFSHKG;IWEGHWE. My personal highlight.

Exciting posts and days out were a little thin on the ground in May. We moved into our new flat and were just taking it easy and trying to save a bit harder. We decided to go to Brisbane to do our regional work and booked our flights for August 28th.

June has been fun. We are settled in our flat, we have had money and we have been up to allsorts. We went on a four day trip through Kalbarri up to Monkey Mia, went to Yanchep National Park and celebrated Midsummer Swedish style. Oh and did I mention we booked Bali?

The rest of 2016 is set to be interesting with a week in Bali and a move to Brisbane to *hopefully* find some regional work to get our second year visa's. A friend of ours comes over from our hometown and we have the whole of the East coast to explore!

*The photos used to head each section are my personal favourites from that month.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

How to celebrate Swedish Midsummer*

*When you're in Australia!

Midsummer is one of the biggest events in the Swedish calender - Apart from Christmas of course. Last weekend marked Midsummer there (And Mid-Winter here!) and three of our
lovely Swedish buddies invited us to their home for an evening of food, shots and celebrating.

You can see on the table the blue and yellow ribbon, a flute of Rose wine mixed with Fanta and a menu with the three courses of food printed on in both English and Swedish, There is also the words to the song 'Helen Gar', a Swedish drinking song, which we were to sing every time the Elderflower vodka shots were handed round.

Our friends really put their all into showing us part of their culture (There was even a mini maypole) and it was really fun to hear about all the traditions. Food is one of my favourite things ever so when we found out we were  also getting a three course meal we were pretty excited!

The Menu....

Toast med Skagenrora -Toast with Skagen-mess.
Oh my god this was so nice. I didn't really know what to expect so when I found out that it was shrimp in a creamy dill caviar sauce on toast I was a bit worried I wouldn't like it. I'm not huge on seafood but it turned out to be delicious and I want to make it myself.

Kottbuller med Dill Potatis Svampas och Lingonsylt - Swedish Meatballs with Dill Potatoes, Mushroom Sauce and Lingonberry Jam.
Who doesn't like meatballs? They were juicy and tender with so much flavour and that mushroom sauce! Man our friend should start selling the stuff. Jody HATES mushrooms but could eat that sauce by the bowlful. I wish I had some right now.

Prinsesstarta & Neger Boller - Princess cake and Chocolate Balls
A creamy sponge cake as light as air and chocolate balls rolled in coconut. I don't need to say anymore do I?

Overall it was an ace night - Just a shame it rained all day and night here!

Did any of you guys celebrate the Midsummer?


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Treat Yo Self

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you may have seen this picture already (followed by a series of fun and tropical emojis). For those of you that haven't, Jody and I are going to Bali!

We have booked one week at the Destiny Hotel in Seminyak as a little treat to ourselves before we head to Queensland to complete our second year regional work (Booooo!). Expect more posts on what we plan to see and do whilst we are there nearer the time...

In the meantime does anyone have any suggestions of where we should go, places to eat, that kinda thing?

Comment below!


Sunday, 21 June 2015

DAY TWO OF THE BIG TRIP PT 2: Sunset at Monkey Mia

It's Monday which means another instalment of my four day trip up to Monkey Mia! Monkey Mia is 10 hours North of Perth and a lot of the journey involves a long straight road, red sand and not a lot of anything else.
Monkey Mia is a beautiful beach side resort where a of dolphins live. The dolphins come right up close to the shore and on a morning they are fed by the Monkey Mia volunteers. As we got there on a night all the feeds were done for the day.
What we saw was even better than any scheduled dolphin feed.
After dinner we had a walk up the pier and heard some splashing. As it was pitch black we had no idea what was going on until we heard a splash right by where we were stood and saw a dark shape jump out of the water...Then another...Then another. We had walked out onto the pier in the middle of a dolphin hunt.
Seeing the dolphins twist and spin and dive was just incredible. It was one of those moments where even if I had had my camera I wouldn't have wanted to scare the dolphins off by taking pictures. So sadly, there is no evidence but I can share some photos of the AMAZING sunset we caught over the beach - Check out those colours!

Beautiful isn't it?

We stayed in a budget room (private but sharing a bathroom with the room next door) and as it is Winter they are currently ranging from $97-$118 a night during the week and $139 on a weekend. The dolphin feed is included in the cost and there are loads of other activities at an additional cost including sea kayaking, camel rides and an aboriginal trek.
Check out the Monkey Mia website for more.
You can read about Days One and Two of my West Coast adventure here and here.


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Yanchep National Park

42 kms North of Perth lies Yanchep National Park. Home to one of the few caves open for tourism, a Koala colony and an abundance of nature, Yanchep is great for a cheap day out - It's $12 per car, the koala viewing is free and like many of Australia's parks there are free to use BBQ facilities.

Follow me on Instagram to see more like this.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Day Two of the big Trip PT 1: Kalbarri National Park

After all the excitement of Day One (read all about it here), Day Two started with yet another early morning wake up call. Seriously the sun wasn't even up yet. This was because we were going to Kalbarri National Park where it gets *pretty* hot and the flies get pretty interested in anything with a pulse.
First up was a short trek to Nature's Window where we caught sight of the Murchison river from this view point - Pretty stunning right? It was one of the moments where you kinda stop and go 'Whoa'. What you can't see in this picture was the 3 inch spider to the left that was chowing down on some flies. We also saw some golden web which wasn't a result of Rasputin but from the Golden Orb Spider - And it was a pretty big web so hell knows how big the spider was. Didn't hang around long enough to find out.
The Golden Orb's web is stronger than steel too fact fans.

After a few pics of the river we went over to Nature's Window which is an all natural frame made out of limestone. The lighting wasn't great 'cos the sun was still coming up but you can see from the picture above it makes a pretty good photo op with or without the goofy models in the shot.

After Nature's Window we started trekking in the gorges - WHICH I LOVED - and good old adventurer Jody did the optional activity of abseiling. Obviously as the official couple photographer I took one from the team and didn't take part and was pretty impressed when Jodes was practically pro at it. Helps that he has daddy long leg legs and could bounce off the rock like a kangaroo but hey, he was still awesome at it.
Once the adrenaline junkies had finished pratting around we carried on down to the river which as you can see was uber clear and 100% drinkable. By this point though the flies had started to invade and everybody was starting to get pissed off and were grumbling about going back to the bus...Spoilsports.

Being down in the gorges was like being on another planet and the park itself was just so quiet and peaceful. We saw loads of kangaroos, birds and bugs and Jody and I both felt very lucky to have been to the park before we leave for QLD.

After a hike back up the gorge to the bus we were back on board and all ready for the four hour drive to Monkey Mia....Which is going to get it's own post because it was just so fantastic/amazing/breath taking!

Come back in a week for Day Two of the big trip: Monkey Mia pt.2!


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Moving to Australia: FAQ's

One of my buddies from home is coming to Australia in the next couple of months and the other day she was asking me some questions about what to expect. It got me thinking and I thought I'd share some of them here!

How did I book my flights?
First I used Skyscanner to see what date would be cheapest to fly - You can check the whole month that you want to leave on there - and then I checked airline reviews to decide which company we wanted to fly with. Then I booked our tickets through the airline. EASY.

How did I survive said flight?
I nearly didn't. Especially sitting next to a six foot four dude who has no leg room cos the five foot Nana has put her seat back. I flew with Etihad and they made sure we were well fed and watered and we had TV's in the headrests. I also bought some inflight wifi so I could use my laptop and bought a couple of books to keep me occupied. It was a tough twenty hours, I won't lie.

How did I get a job?
Aww man it took me ages to get work. Without an Aussie employer on your CV no one wants to take you on (Unless you get lucky!). In the end I signed up to a couple of recruitment agencies and found my current job that way (For the WA government by the way!)

How much does it cost to live here for a month?
I pay $130 a week in rent, $50-70 a week on food and $40 on my train pass...But if I lived nearer the city my rent would be up and my train pass cost would be down. We looked at moving into a hostel and it worked out around the same as just getting a house share. So core expenses cost around $880 a month. Sounds a lot but remember the wages are higher!

Optional extras?
A beer on average will cost you between $6-$12 in a pub/bar and it's $50 for a crate in the bottleo.
A vodka and orange costs between $7-$13 and a bottle of vodka costs around $40.
A McDonalds for two will cost $25 and a Crust Pizza will set you back $22.
The cinema is $24 each and a meal in an average restaurant will cost around $50.

Do I miss home?
Some times I do, some times I don't. It's really weird. Obviously I miss my family and my dogs (sob!) but England itself? Not so much. I'm much better off financially here and the sunshine is a bonus.

What do I miss the most?
Like I said I miss my family and my dogs. You tend to miss the little things. I really miss central heating (it gets cold on a night in Winter!), the green of Yorkshire, certain biscuit brands and Tesco's/Sainsburys. Yes I miss the supermarket - the supermarkets here are pants and you have to go to separate shops for your food, your alcohol and your homeware. GET WITH THE TIMES AUSTRALIA!

And finally have I seen loads of spiders?
No. Jody is TERRIFIED of spiders and he hasn't seen that many or been that scared*. In the suburban/city areas you really don't see that many. Especially not big ones. I saw some when I was on my trip but that was in the outback so there you go.

*It might be different on the East coast though so don't take my word for it just yet!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Seven films to trigger Wanderlust

1. The Hobbit + The LOTR Trilogies - New Zealand
Okay this one crops up a lot in these kinds of lists and do you know why? Cos they are visually amazing. Watching these films makes me want to jack in Aussie life and go set up camp in a hobbit hole (Although I don't think my 6'4 fiancee would be too happy with the cramped living conditions!)

2. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - Iceland
The idea of going against everything you know and setting off on the journey of a life time is something we all dream of but not all people do. Combine that with some awesome Icelandic backgrounds and you have an perfect travel film. (This is actually the film that got us off our butts and made us apply for our Australian visas!)

3. Elf - New York
I should probably be more specific here - New York at Christmas. I have been begging and whining to go to NY for Christmas for the whole 5 years Jody and I have been together. Ice skating at the Rockerfeller, OTT window displays and the AMAZING Christmas shopping to be had..And the magic of Elf just makes it seem even more fantastic (We will forget the bit with all the gum thought).

4. Eurotrip - Europe (obviously)
It's stupid and it's ridiculous but if definitely makes you want to pack up your bag and go on a ridiculous adventure with you buddies. And everyone secretly loves Scotty doesn't now right?

5. The Beach - Thailand
This is one of those that is always mentioned and for good reason (And no not cos Leo DiCaprio is in it!). It showcases the beauty of Thailand and leaves people dreaming of secluded island life. Well for the first half of the film anway. Despite it shedding a huge spotlight on the Thai islands you can still find some beauty spots away from the tourists if you are prepared to look.

6. Couples Retreat - The French Polynesia
Hands up if your dream destination is Bora Bora? *Puts hands up*. This film has some good giggles in despite not doing very well at the box office and it's one of Jody and I's favourites. I imagine it was pretty easy to get the cast on board when they mentioned where filming would be - A dream-like island paradise. Shame it's pretty expensive to go. One day. Sigh.

7. Up - South America
Yes it's CGI and yes it's supposedly for kids (yeah right!) but the message in Up is clear. You are never to old to go out and live your dream. 'Adventure is out there' is one of the quotes used in the film and it's one that me and the mister have started to live by.

Are there any films that inspired you to go travelling? Comment below!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

DAY ONE OF THE BIG TRIP: Some introductions and some big rocks

I may have mentioned that last week I went on a four day trip up to Monkey Mia (and if you follow me on instagram you have probably seen quite a few photos!) and if you have read this post you probably know that I had a lot of fun exploring a bit more of WA.
So what did I get up to on Day one?
After getting up at the crack of dawn to meet the group (which consisted of a Canadian couple, four German girls, Two French chicks, a Filipino lady and an EIGHTY TWO year old Aussie fella) THIS pulled up and out popped a ballroom dancing, drumming, tour guide/chef (otherwise known as Paul). With his super long pony tail and his bad ass four wheel drive there was only one thing going through our minds - This is gunna be fun.
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After a few introductions we were on the road to our first stop, The Pinnacles Desert in Cervantes. Que our first group photo (I'm second from the left and that's Jody next to me...Just incase you were curious).

Anyways, the Pinnacles a two and a half hour drive North of Perth and they are these weird limestone formations that just kinda happened. They were only discovered in 1960 and they are pretty cool. You can read more about what they actually are here - Cos I have no idea.
The best way would to describe them would be that if someone was making a film about Mars this would be the perfect film set for some desolate first landing kinda scene. Very ET.

Obviously Jody and I had to find the naughtiest looking one and take a picture of it cos well, we are children. #Mature.

Afterwards was lunch at Hangover Bay (which as you can see had crystal clear water - seriously this pic has no filters or edits whatsoever) where we all got to know each other a little bit more. Then it was back in the bus for another FOUR hours to get to our next destination - Kalbarri.

Paul was racing to try and get us to this spot he loves to watch the sunset and honestly, we thought 'why the hell is he risking our lives, it can't be that good!'.. But then we pulled up to Pink Lake (named after the algae that turns it pink - durrr) and shut up pretty fast. The sunset was unreal and I've never seen colours like it. It made the long, Mad Max style drive worth it.

An hour later we pulled up to the Big River Ranch in Kalbarri where I ate ALL MY VEGETABLES for the first time in my 23 year old life, experienced sharing a room with four other people and got an excellent night's sleep before Day Two of the big trip - Kalbarri and the trek to Monkey Mia.


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The Pros and Cons to doing a group tour

I've never been on a group tour before, Jody and I have always done our own thing. As the drives in Australia tend to be long, boring and not completely safe (petrol stations are few and far between and you know THE OUTBACK). Sooo instead of possibly getting lost in the bush, we booked on to a group tour...And loved it. But is it for everybody?
Let's start with the Con's...Because who wants to end things on a negative?
  • Group tours can be pricier than if you did by yourself.
  • You never know if you might clash with people on the tour
  • Chances are you are gunna be cramped on the bus for a while
  • Little flexibility/freedom
  • Some are make your own food
  • There are usually optional extras that bump up the cost
And the Pro's?
  • It could be pricier OR it could work out a lot more cost effective
  • You will meet a HUGE variety of people
  • You will see more of the country via road than you would via air.
  • ESPECIALLY if you have an experience guide (like I did!)
  • You can sample hostel life and see if it is for you
  • There is no stress involved
  • You can't get lost!
  • Zero driving involved (Most of my stress stems from driving)
  • You can experience tonnes of new things
  • It will force you to step out of your comfort zone and do things you never thought you could.
It's pretty obvious that the Pro's outweight the Con's and on my tour that was definitely the case.  Personally I think they are great for short trips or to start off a longer trip and get you used to a new country.
I made some amazing memories and met some wonderful new people. We are already looking into booking another tour in South East Asia so let's see what happens.
Have you had any experiences of a group tour? What did you think?


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Australia: Month Five Recap

 I should have written this post on Friday but I went swanning off up North at the crack of dawn instead...Sorry. Anyways Friday was the end of month five in Australia and what a month.
We moved into a swanky new pad, decided we were moving to Brisbane (and booked ROBBIE WILLIAMS tickets) before rounding it off with a four day trip to Monkey Mia. To be honest, I really need to start on my trip posts but I have so many photos to fiddle with and I'm not sure if my blog posts will do the trip any justice - COS IT WAS AWESOME.
We met some wonderful people ranging from an 18 year old German Au Pair to an 82 year old Truck Driver from Brisbane (More on him later). I experienced some amazing, beautiful things and can honestly say I felt kinda blessed to see some of the things I got to see - I promise the posts will evolve eventually, but I'm currently in mourning.
Today was my first day back at work and I just could not be arsed. Can I be a full time adventurer please?