Wednesday, July 30, 2008

30th of July 2008

Who knew that I would find my slice of heaven in Kakadu off all places, people kept on telling me that Kakadu NP (Kakadon't) isn’t as good and special as people claim but I have to disagree. Kakadu has some of the most picture perfect scenery I ever seen, sadly it gets ruined by the large crowds of people and my shitty camera :(
Anyway, at the top of Gunlom falls I found a place like I never seen before, I felt so extremely at home there and felt such tranquility and peace within myself so instead of just staying there for 30 minutes as planned I stayed there the whole day (came around lunch time) and slept at the top despite your not allowed to. Just exploring, enjoying the views, going for swims and reading my book. Would have stayed even longer if it wasn’t for running out of food and hurting myself.
The falls have about a 70m free drop into this huge pool and you can do a hike to the top of it, up there you can go to the edge and look down at the pool under and at the beautiful surrounding landscape. Around you are a couple of rock pools you can swim in, then another small waterfall then another couple of rock pools and then a gorge you can swim in that ends with another waterfall. On top of that waterfall there is such a beautiful river that just keeps on changing the further up you go (talking about only 100-200m) from wide river with lots of shrubbery, beaches and trees on the side to a green river filled with rocks you can walk on, all in this beautiful valley.
But all is not well in paradise, I ended up scorching myself in the sun so bad (and I know how to burn myself bad!). I also slipped on a rock and ripped of the whole nail on one of my toes, owwww! Add all the cuts I have picked up the last 2 weeks plus the whole day at the top of the falls from walking around barefoot so much I now walk like a cripple, sucks because I was looking forward to doing a long hike in Bungle Bungles when I get there. Oh well, here’s a couple of pics from my slice of heaven!

Anyways, I couldn’t find a hostel the last night in Darwin so I ended up walking to the Mindil markets by Mindil beach to have a look around, and when they closed down I found out you can get a lot of free food from the Asians there. So had a proper feed and got enough for breakfast and ended up spending the night on the beach under the stars, good stuff.
Next day I started hitching towards Kakadu which proved to be really easy, 5 rides later I got picked up by a Swiss young fella named Kim that I rode around with the whole day and the next stopping at the places worth looking at in Kakadu including Mamukala, Ubirr, Nourlangie, Yellow Water and Maguk.
Kakadu is Australia’s biggest National Park covering an area of about 20.000 square kilometers (huuuge) and is on the World Heritage List, it also has one of the biggest collections of Rock Art in the world.
As I mentioned a couple of times before my new camera is really bad so couldn’t really capture the beauty of Kakadu very well, also there were people in the way much of the time!
Kim dropped me off in the afternoon in the second day by the Gunlom Falls turnoff and there I stood for 2.5 hours without getting a ride (think like 1 or 2 cars passed) so had to spend the night at the side of the road, but next day around 11 I got a ride into the falls and as I mentioned earlier in this entry I really loved it!
Next day I got a ride with a couple that had a Swedish son in law which meant lots of freebies for me ^^ they dropped me off in Katherine where I waited for over 4 hours without getting a ride and then the couple picked me up again and paid for me to stay at a caravan park. The next day they drove me back to the road to hitch after a big breakfast!
From Katherine I hitched west with one guy the long way into Western Australia and Kununurra through a beautiful road surrounded by cliffs in many places and lots of Boab trees.
So wohooo, I’m back in Western Australia! Almost back in Perth it feels like, only have another 3200 kilometers to go if I go the quickest way, it’s a big state! It is, after the Sakha Republic in Russia, the second largest subnational entity in the world.
Western Australia is about 7.5 times the size of Germany and have around 2.1 million (Germany has 82 million) people living here off which 1.55 million live in Perth. So far between places here, similar to the Northern Territory.
This is also the first time in 4.5 months I’m in a place I’ve been before (did some work here 2 nights in February) which was a weird feeling when I came here, also I’ve seen the stuff to see in town so just taking it easy trying to figure out what to do next while my laundry is drying (apparently it rained during the night so my laundry didn’t dry up). Staying at the hostel here at the moment anyway, want to do a Lower Ord River cruise but it’s so darn expensive so I think Ill skip it and keep going.

edit: Decided to go to Lake Argyle this morning to check it out and the Ord Dam. Got a quick ride there with a shire ranger which showed me around and drove me back to Kununurra. Thats one impressive lake! The southern Hemispheres biggest manmade lake and it can hold up to 10,763,000 megalitres of water! The estimate around 25000 freshwater crocs live in it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

24th of July 2008

Alrighty, this is going to be a long entry covering more then 20 days with lots of photos,! so bear with me
Haven’t had any contact at all with the outside world for the last 15 days (no phone coverage, no internet, sleeping in my tent every night and not even a single supermarket) because I’ve been hitching through the real Australia
But considering only 2 people tried to contact me during this time (my mom and Tracey and no one rarely ever comments). my entries I don’t really care anymore! I decided to stay in Cairns a couple of more days going partying some and went on a 2day/1 night diving trip on the Great Barrier Reef which was awesome (did 5 dives, 4 day and 1 night + snorkeling). But I still reckon that Ningaloo Reef (Northwest Western Australia) is better despite I only snorkeled there, just saw so much more awesome, stuff there!
Then on the Sunday Anne and Phil came over from Perth so I met up with them and had a chat, so nice to see a recognizable face for once! =)
Still think Cairns is a way to touristy spot, but at least I started liking it a little better after a few days.

On the Monday I left with Anne and Phil going north and they dropping me of at the Port Douglas turnoff because they were going there to meet Phil’s family.
Now this is where the real hitching challenge starts!

Still got more then 10000km (Cairns is halfway) to go. I will be riding on very remote roads (quite some dirt roads even) in the outback only passing 3 towns with over 5000 citizens on the whole way! (Katherine, Darwin and Broome). I got about 2 months to get back to Perth and had 1200$ left leaving Cairns (started out with almost 7000$).

First goal was Lawn Hill NP in Northwestern Queensland, but I also made a 3 hour stop at Undara Lave Tubes. It took me a whole week of almost nonstop hitching to get to Lawn Hill (so hard to get a ride because there are no locals on these roads!) And I got a ride with my first roadtrain which was quite impressive
(see pic). I also met my first hitcher on the road here, a German guy which I set up my tent next to that night and we were given some sausages to bbq by some nice holidaymakers. We had a bubbly lava rock around there fire though which I really cant recommend (and that I was told the next day at Undara that you never should use in a fire, wish they told me that a bit earlier!) because it started exploding after 1.5 hour makes 2 holes in my tent and one in my jacket! Dangerous
stuff. The next day I hitched a ride with Sebastian (the German hitcher) to but I got off before him because I wanted to check out the Undara Lava Tubes which were really interesting but expensive to get into. It’s these huge underground tunnels that has been carved up by the lava flow about 190 000 years ago.
Had to camp out twice at the side of the road with no one around, the other nights at least there was some other people camping to and was at some beautiful spots full with birds! Did get to see my first Salty on my own to there, was about 2.5m long. Extremely cunning beasts though! Tried to sneak up on him while basking in the sun but without me noticing he slipped into the water and the hunter suddenly became the hunted.

See the pics of the landscape I’ve been riding through these weeks, now that’s the real Australia! So remote and nothing in between except small roadhouses every 200km or maybe a town with 100-300 people.
Lawn Hill is an oasis in the middle of this landscape with beautiful gorges and creeks and landscapes. So you can take a cooling swim in the water or go canoeing up a gorge or go for a nice hike. Saw my first
wild Freshwater Crocs here! Freshies aren’t dangerous though, can get up to 3 meters but won’t attack you unless you step on them or if they feel threatened.

Leaving Lawn Hill I got a ride with 2 German backpackers in a wicked van, almost no backpackers out here so that was surprising. They dropped me off at probably the worst spot I ever been though. Was 70km away from the closest roadhouse, no houses or water around anywhere and a millions of flies trying to eat me! Stood there for 2 hours without a single car passing then I put up my tent and slept the night with cows grazing just next to my tent twice that night. The next day I did get a ride though after 3-4 hours of waiting.
Got down on the highway going west and from here it got a lot easier getting rides and I started covering some proper distances heading into the Northern Territory.

Once in NT I got to the threeways, the Stuart Highway going north to Darwin, south to Alice Spring and South Australia and East towards the east coast where I came from. Realized I wouldn’t have the money or time to go to the Red Centre (so much to see there) I decided I would hitch about 130km to the south and camp out the night at Devils Marbles then head north.
Devils Marbles are these amazing huge red granite marbles lying spread out in this area and on top each other. No water around and riddle in the middle of nowhere, still quite a lot of people camping out there though but tried to ignore them! Got close to Dingoes here to, they were walking outside my tent during the night howling at the moon and in the morning I ran into them scaring them off but managed to find them again and could get like 1.5m from one of them before they ran off again.

Heading north from Devils MarblesI got a ride with a nice couple camping there riding almost 600km to Mataranka Thermal Pools which is this pool and river keeping a temperature off about 30 degrees Celsius because the water gets heated up slowly going through the sandstone while the sun is scorching it. Very nice spot but the water smelled of eggs and it was very touristy, went for a nice walk in the morning though not seeing many people.

Next day I got a ride with a couple
from Melbourne driving a wicked and we first went to Katherine Gorge in Nimiltuk NP. Katherine Gorge is the most amazing system of gorges that you can go on boat cruises on or canoe or hike up. It was extreme amounts of people there though especially doing the tours, because everyone in Australia goes up to the north now when its winter because its the dry season here and warmer weather (Hell it was 33 degrees in the shadow the other day when I got picked up and they call this winter?!?).
So I went on a hike where I didn’t see many people when the couple I went there with went on a cruise and when wewere both finished we continued up north and tried to find Douglas Hot Springs to camp out for the night which we did in the end driving in the dark seeing snakes and owls and much more wildlife on the road! Camped out next to 2 couples that night that told me there were going to have a small bush doof the next day by Robin Falls.
Early in the morning I checked out the hot springs which were just awesome! Kinda like the Innot Hot Springs just a much bigger area with clear water! So you could lie there in the water covering your whole body being hotter then spa water (almost burning on it if you got into the wrong place, such a beautiful spot with almost no people around! And if you got to warm you could just walk a few meters and cool off in the cold areas of the creek or go freshie or python hunting!

That day I decided to go to the Robin Fallsbut first hitched a ride to Adelaide River to get some goon (bag in box wine) then south again towards the Falls. The Falls were amazing and you could go under them or just chill in the rockpool just below them, on the way back from there the next day I got my first proper photo of a snake, wohoo! Not a poisonous one though, a Golden Tree Snake (see photo!). The doof was small (just about 20 ppl) but they had all the proper equipment, great people and an awesome spot where we made a large bonfire and could go take a dip in the creek whenever we got to warm.

Next day I got a ride with one of the doofers to the turnoff to Litchfield NP where I got another ride going into later. Camped out the night by Florence Falls and Buley Rockpools where I could go take a swim whenever I wanted and saw some new wildlife there, some weird sounding birds, flying foxes all around and what I think was a Quoll hopping by.

The day after I checked out Tumlin Falls and Wangi Falls. Wangi Falls where f#cking wicked but a huge pool under them, sadly it was so overcrowded with hundreds of people so didn’t stay there very long. Next I got picked up by 3 uni students from Melbourne and a real funny thing happened here.
I got into the car and about 5 minutes in I was telling this scary hitchhiker story and we suddenly got stopped by rangers and police!
And guess what? They were looking for a hitchhiker! Thankfully it wasn’t me they were looking for though, apparently they already were aware of my presence and had me registered but they didn’t want to tell why they were looking for this other guy/guys. I bet I gave the people in the car quite a scare though.
I rode with them up to Walker Creek (still in Litchfield NP) where we hiked up about 1km and found a lonely beautiful camping spot by a big rockpool and a waterfall. We had 2 nice Water Monitors hanging around the area all the time to. Never got a photo from this place though because I accidently dropped my camera in the pool which isn’t too good of an idea, think it’s still going to work though!

The day after camping they drove all the way to Darwin making a stop at a wildlife park, and in the evening I went with them to the Deckchair Cinema (outdoor cinema) in Darwin and watched Cactus, an Australian thriller road movie. Kind of low budget and wasn’t that good though but still nice thing to do.
Did some restocking yesterday, got a new pair of thongs (broke mine in Lawn Hill NP while doing a hike and got so many cuts on my feet right now from walking around barefoot!) and some other stuff, and in the evening I went to the movies to watch The Dark Knight. A must see movie! Think it’s the movie of the year and Heath Ledger just plays the best villain ever, watch it!!
I like Darwin, its backpackerish on the main strip but once you get away from there I actually found it quite a likeable town. It’s not very big though, about 100 000 people. Speaking of that by the way, Northern Territory has about 200 000 people and is about the size of Germany and France together if I remember correctly, pretty remote ey? Also have the biggest aboriginal population of all the states.

Going from Cairns to Darwin has been a great experience and I think the rest of the way to Perth will be kind of the same. Been very different from the east coast, instead of mainly riding with locals I’ve been riding with holidaymakers in their caravans and a couple of backpackers vans. Just aren’t any locals out here, to long distances! So has been harder to get a ride but been getting so many freebies! In 15 days I got 7 free dinners, 5 breakfast, a bunch of beers and uncountable cups of tea + other stuff. It’s also been very cheap. Spent about 200$ in two week, but now I’ve been in Darwin 2 days and already spent 200$ more, really need to keep away from the cities! Just way to expensive.

So today I’m hoping to get into Kakadu NP, just need to hurry up and finish this entry and post it so I can get going, so sorry if it’s a bit sloppy.

Edit: Funny thing, gotten so used to my 5mm foam matress and tent that I sleep so much better in the tent then I slept the two nights here in Darwin!
Also im forced to stay here another night =/ This entry has just taken all day to do.

Edit2: Hmm, all hostels are full.. thats no good!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

2nd of July 2008

After leaving Trace and Sal I tried to get a ride on the Bloomfield track, a 4WD track going north through Daintree NP almost all the way to Cooktown.
I didn’t get very far that day though, about 2km or something with a Dutch dude (that really loved walking!) driving a Wicked Camper van. And with a wicked you can’t get very far on a 4WD track.. So I ended up pitching my tent next to a river (with croc signs!) for the night and Pete (the Dutch) stayed the night there to and shared his dinner with me.
Next day I got a ride with some people on their way to the top, Cape York. Went through the first pure Aboriginal Community I’ve seen and stopped at the famous pub The Lions Den.
Right after the Lions Den I finally saw my first really poisonous snake, a Brown Snake which is the second most toxic snake in the world. Sadly I only saw it alive for about half a second before we split it in half with the car, trying to break and avoid hitting it :(
I got off at the Black Mountains NP next which are these eerie mountains covered in black boulders. Really unique place with a few animals that lives nowhere else in the world. Went rock hopping there for 30-45 mins (And saw a whole bunch of Black Mountain Skinks) before it came to me that no one could see me and no one knew I was there so if I slipped I would be in a really bad situation. Love to go back there one day though and try to get all the way to the top.
After Black Mountain I was supposed to head back to Kuranda to meet up with Trace again for a reggae festival but I decided to keep heading north instead to Cooktown because I so badly needed a shower and shave and do some laundry because I haven’t had any clean clothes the 10 days.
From Cooktown I decided to head west into Lakefield NP which turned out to be the hardest part in my whole hitching career! I left about 11 in the morning and got about 50km in 3 hours to Isabella Waterfalls far away from any civilization. There I had to spend 21 hours before I got my next ride which only took me another 20km to a river crossing. Took me another 24 hours before I got picked up next!! Longest wait I ever done. But doing these long waits didn’t bother me at all; both spots were really beautiful with flowing drinkable water and plenty of trees for cover and firewood so I could make myself a fire next to my tent when it got dark. Actually I think this experience + Tracey invigorated me giving me motivation back to be on the road. There is such a freedom to it being in the middle of nowhere on your own, only thing that had me worried was that I was going to run out of food but people passing by were really nice and some bikers on their way to the top gave me a couple of cans of peaches and tuna :)
It did dawn on me though that I had to give up the idea to get to the top and go Woofing, there just isn’t enough time and that detour would have taken me over a month to do.
The next place I got stuck after the river for about 3 hours were far from as comfortable as the previous ones though, almost no cover, 30 degrees outside and so much dust in the air whenever a car passed! But I did eventually get a ride, twice actually with the same guy (he dropped me off in a small town he was going to and picked me up another 100km down the road) and we ended up going all the way back to Cairns that night!
So leaving Cooktown to Lakefield I didn’t get to see much at all (shouldn’t have gone to Lakefield to start with, impossible to get around unless you got your own 4WD). But it was another good and interesting experience for me.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

27th of June 2008

Sorry for keeping this and other entries so intense, see so much stuff that I want to tell about but I don’t want to bore you all too much which I already think I do.

After the Hot Springs me and Trace started to make our way towards Cairns but taking it rather easy checking out Millstream Falls then having our first proper feed in 5 days in Ravenshoe before heading on across the amazing Atherton Tablelands trying to spot Cassowaries (A rainforest bird similar to Emus and Ostriches but very weird looking and dangerous) and stopping by Dinner Falls and the amazing Crater which was this huge hole in the middle of a rainforest mountain. Round about 50 diameter going down 60 meter before there was water and then another 80 meters before bending in under us, weird. Although impossible to get a good picture of.
We spent that night at a hill lookout in Atherton munching cheese and crackers and drinking more wine continuing our party!
Next day we stopped at a huge Curtain Fig and a Crater Lake before driving the winding road down the Dividing Range almost going over the edge looking too much at the beautiful views instead of the road. Then we got to Cairns where we had some lunch and then picked up Sal, a friend of Tracey.
We headed northwest to a place outside Kuranda where Sal's friend had a pretty wicked house without walls where we stayed the night, just the three of us once again hitting the Chardonnay.
Next day we checked out Barren Falls by Kuranda then we spent some time browsing the markets in town before heading north towards Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation.
Up there we went into the Mossman Gorge which was beautiful, still no Cassowaries though (I’ve looked in so many places now but they just don’t want to show themselves to me).
After Mossman we went to Daintree Village to camp out the night with yet more Chardonnay on the menu, my last night though. But this was also my 100th day and night since I left Perth, Horray! Hopefully Ill make it back to Perth before my visa expires in 85 days (I think I travelled about halfway now, maybe less but getting there!) and before I run out of money.
So it ended up being a 7 days nonstop (except for the 3 days driving) Midsummer Party, not to bad :D
The next morning we went on a small river cruise in the Daintree River so we could spot us some wild crocodiles, Green Tree Snakes and a few birds. The Crocs were not that big (Can get up to 6-7 meters which is one freakish scary man eating machine!!) though but at least I’ve seen them in the wild now!
After that we drove to Cape Tribulation to check the beaches and yet more amazing Rainforests. Then it was finally time to say goodbye to Sal and Trace because I wanted to go further north and check out this Black Mountain I had heard of while Sal and Trace was heading back to Cairns for another party.
Had an amazing week with you Trace, thanks! You’re the best :)

Edit: Can you believe it, a few minutes after Trace and Sal left me they saw a Cassowary! How unfair is that?
Also, my camera really sucks :(

Edit2: Anyone noticed that I dont really like taking pictures of people? Always just landscape views it seems.. most of the time anyway

24th of June 2008

You all suck, so disappointed that almost no one commented my Midsummer entry =( (except Nick and Sara and Treesong, props on you!)

I stayed a second night in Mission Beach just chilling and playing Table Tennis.
The next day I hitched to Cairns and spent the night there, main reason for going there was to catch up with Luca, an Italian dude I met in Sydney. Didn’t really fancy Cairns much (touristy, Surfers Paradise alike). But I will give it another chance when I come back.
Next day was Midsummer back home and I wanted to do something special because this was the first time ever I wasn’t back home to celebrate. So I remembered the Winter Solstice party that Tracey, the girl I hitched to Bundaberg with told me about.
So I txt messaged some with Tracey and the next day I hitched south again towards a town called Innisfail because I knew she was going there before turning inland, and it so just happened that we timed each other perfectly and just missed each other in Coles (Big supermarket chain in Oz) by a few minutes (Tracey having no idea I was heading south and I having no idea how far up she actually was).
So we drove inland atop the tablelands meeting up with Trace's friend Laura on the way there. Made a short picnic stop at probably the most picture piquresque(how the hell do you spell that?) waterfall I ever seen, Milla Milla, before heading for the party which was in the middle of the bush with about 50km to the closest town.
Winter Solstice 2008, Cairns, is a BushDoof.
So basically what that means is that a bunch of people (think it was about 1000-1500) drive into the bush and put up there tents and vans and everything and they have a couple of stages there playing nonstop trance 24 hours a day featuring a whole bunch of different DJs, international and local.
Me and Trace (or better known as the extremely fitting names Hippie Trace or Trippie Trace :D) ended up staying 5 days and 4 nights just going wild partying and dancing and getting general freaky, I had the best time ever! Forgetting to eat all the time, waking up 3 in the night going dancing and jumping in the bouncy castle or 10 in the morning just heading over to the stage to chill looking at people dancing or getting in there yourself and last but not least drinking cupious amounts of wine and other stuff.
And have to say that Trace is one of the most amazing people I ever met and I am so glad I did, she is just one of those people that everyone likes talking to and just spreads general happiness by being so nice and giving to everyone.
The solstice party had 3 stages; main stage only played 24 hours though (during the Solstice). And it was the most diverse crowd I’ve seen at a festival, from hippies to ravers to city boys from kids to seniors! And the most amazing thing is how extremely well everyone got along with each other despite such a different crowd and the amounts of drugs going around. Everyone was just in a really happy party mood, got to love it.
Leaving the BushDuff Tuesday afternoon we went to Innot Hot Springs to get rid of some of the dust and to be able to relax some, which quite a few people from the party seemed to think to. Nice being able to clean yourself up after not having a shower since last Thursday and just having dirt, dust and sweat everywhere wearing the same clothes.. And even if the water wasn’t clean it was steaming hot so it still did the trick. Think that’s the first hot springs I ever been to?

Edit: Will put up a photo from the springs when I get one from Trace