Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Final Entry Hitch Around Oz

Sorry this took 2 weeks to get posted, I just become such a slacker once im back in the city and got internet again. Going to be quite a long entry.

Anywhere here is the statistics from the trip around Australia:

Number of Days: 147 Days
Number of Cars: 272 Vehicles
Number of Kilometers: 22800 km
Money Spent: 6204,5 AUS$
Money spent each day: 42,2 AUS$

I measured the distance on Google Earth, so it isnt very precise and probably quite shorter then I actually hitched considering all the turns and corners I cant measure.
My goal was to spend under 50$ a day, and looks like I did a pretty good job. And this does include buying a new computer, phone and camera! (A total of 770$) and two expensive tours (Whitsundays and diving Great Barrier Reef) adding up to another 725$.
Off the 272 Vehicles around 15 trucks in total I would guess, which of 3 were roadtrains. Nothing else unusual sadly (like bikes, trains, coppers and so on). But tons of locals driving Utes (pickups) before Cairns and mostly caravans after.
Longest I hitched in a 24 hour period is 1440km which I think is quite impressive, and that was on the first day of hitching! Highest number of cars in one day I think was 9.

I do like to split the whole trip in two different parts though, before Cairns and after Cairns. Why? Because if you look on a map Cairns is halfway around Australia from Perth. I also changed my whole way of thinking and hitching leaving Cairns. I adapted a true Australian No Worries attitude and thinking. Before Cairns I always tried to find a place to sleep for the night (preferable Hostel) and did proper cooking and spent alot of money (the eastcoast is expensive). Leaving Cairns I just didnt care anymore, I lived on beans, noodles and peanutbutter jelly sandwiches or whatever people I met on the road fed me (and I got fed alot!). I slept 6 out of 37 nights in a bed, alot of the time I just put up my tent just on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. If I was suspecting I was going to get stuck there for the night before the sun set I made sure I found a flat spot where I could set up my tent and started to collect some firewood so I could do some cooking. It did change my view on my journey, my life and my way of travelling alot. Anyway here is the statistics, and as you can see they are quite different in money spent and distance travelled each day.

Perth to Cairns
Number of Days: 110 Days
Number of Cars: 190 Vehickes
Number of Kilometers: 13500 km
Money Spent: 5433,5 AUS$
Money spent each day: 49,4 AUS$

Cairns to Perth
Number of Days: 37 Days
Number of Cars: 82 Vehicles
Number of Kilometers: 9300 km
Money Spent: 771 AUS$
Money spent each day: 20,8 AUS$

So did I suceed with all my goals and challenges and did I go everywhere I wanted to go?
Well, I far from went everywhere I wanted to go. Had to skip Tassie because it was to cold, had to skip York Penninsula because it was just to hard to hitch there (and didnt have the time) and had to skip the Red Centre because I ran out of time! This darn country (continent!) is just to freaking huge! Despite Ive been on the road for 5 months, hurrying alot, Ive seen such a small part of the country. I have seen most of the famous stuff though except the Red Centre with Ayers Rock. I could easily go on another hitching trip for another 5 months not going to a single place Ive been to before. I also stressed through WA, South Australia and Victoria (SA took me about a week and Victoria a little longer). I took it pretty easy in NSW and in Queensland all the way up to Cairns, then I got really stressed out again because I was running out of time on my visa and out of money! So hurried west to NT, saw everything I wanted to see there though except the centre then I saw quite alot on the way to Broome in WA. But leaving Broome I put in the highest gear on the way to Perth.
About my challenges, mentioned before I did it under 50$ a day. I also never ate at a single of the famous fastfood places going all around! The handstand and learning to ride a horse I learnt the basics of you could say, not as good as I wanted it but better then nothing I guess! I did never plan a pickup beforehand but I did ride with 2 people more then 2 days in a row, Trippie Trace and Luke (Luke only drove me about 25km the third day to get me to the Wolfe Creek Turnoff).

So am I happy I did it? Hell yeah., it was the trip of my life and it just made my craving to travel the world even bigger!
Would I do it again? No, sadly not. Not around Australia anyway. Oz is just to big and it gets to lonely after a while just meeting new people every day, if I did have a partner though I dont think there would be anything stopping me from travelling nonstop for a couple of years just picking up random work every now and then. If I do stay in Australia though I do have a couple of trips planned, one to the red centre, one to Tassie and another one up the westcoast. These are all shorter trips though and shouldnt take more then a month each.
Any regrets? Well, I like to say that I cant ever regret getting a ride because if I didnt get into one car the following events, days and people I meet would never have happened so I cant really regret any rides. I havent had any bad rides though. I have met and rode with some amazing interesting people and I also have been riding and met some weird, freaky and strong opinionated people but nothing to bad and they have all added to the complete experience. I do have two regrets on this trip though. First not buying the coolest sunglasses ever that I saw in Melbourne at the Victoria Markets, but Mette convinced me not to buy and when I came back the next day they were gone  Secondly not getting into that car in Ingham when a really cute girl came up to me and asked if I needed a ride, im just such a dumbass.. but we all knew that already didnt we?
Would I do anything different if I did another lap? Yeah I would, pack less stuff. Might not even bring my tent and probably just 2-3 changes of clothes. Everything to carry as little as possible enabling me to walk and do proper hikes bringing all my stuff. I would sleep much more outdoors where it doesnt cost me anything. I would also keep altogether away from the eastcoast because I cant really say im a big fan of the eastcoast, just to expensive, crowded and touristy.
Theme song: The Passenger – Iggy Pop :D
Also One Love – Bob Marley among others has cheered me up so many times while Ive been sitting on the side of the road thinking about the world and the punity of our existence.

So what happens next? Well Im currently sleeping on the floor (literally) at Sannas and Marks apartment. My visa expires in 25 days, Im broke and I dont have a flight ticket back to Sweden. I am trying to find a way to stay longer in Australia, because I really love it here, but the situation is starting to look really bad. I did make alot of plans when I was out on the road what I would do when I got back to Perth but havent been able to do anything yet because I dont have any money and dont know if I can stay or not.
If I have to go home I guess Ill live with my parents and stay there for a while and save up money so I can travel more. Want to hitch over to Ireland and drink some Guiness :D Want to go over to Canada on a Working Holiday and last but not least I have my next big challenge set up for me, hitch all around Sweden and Norway seeing all the ”sights” and not spending more then 25SEK a day! (2.5Euro, 5$). Alot of people probably wouldnt call it a life but I see it as a great challenge and it would be fun to see if its actually possible.

I have taken over 1800 (after deleting quite a few) photos on the trip around and its impossible to show them all without boring people, but for anyone who has facebook check out the album I just put up with Sunsets/sunrises hitching around Oz. Also thinking about putting up a beaches album and one with roads of Oz.

I feel that I have forgotten quite alot of stuff that I was planning to write here, but better to put it up now then waiting to long.

So last but not least, thanks to everyone that supported me on this trip, had the patience to read my blog and everyone that picked me up on my way around Australia! Hope someone actually enjoyed reading it, just wish I was a better and more interesting writer (need to find myself a journalist GF!)

Until the next time, live life to the fullest and seize the day!

Edit: stupid spellcheck not working..

Friday, August 15, 2008

13th of August 2008

Leaving Broome went pretty smooth and I even got offered an IT job and sponsorship visa with the first ride, in Halls Creek though and anyone that ever been there probably can understand why I didn’t say yes at the moment he offered it.
Next I got picked up by a lovely family (parents and two kids, 8 and 10 years old) driving in a rebuilt bus. They eventually dropped me at the turnoff to Marble Bar (650km from Broome) but just as they started to drive away I realized my battery charger was still in the car with all my batteries! Tried to get their attention but didn’t succeed. So I stood there for 10-15 mins just thinking if I should try to catch up with them because I knew they were heading for Port Hedland and maybe were staying a night there at a caravan park or if I should just forget about it and keep going to Marble Bar. But I came to the conclusion that I really needed my batteries and caught a ride to Port Hedland, once I got there I went through all the caravan parks (3 of them spread out) and couldn’t find them anywhere! But the couple I was riding with suggested we should look in the town centre. On the way there I finally saw them filling up fuel at a servo! Lucky me :)
Got talking to them again and found out they were skipping Port Hedland and heading directly for Karininji National Park. Deciding Marble Bar wasn’t really worth the effort going to (not that warm at the moment anyway) I chose to go with them south, getting free dinner and beers that night sleeping at a rest stop and then going into Karinjini NP the next day doing one hike in Dale Gorge and checking out all the outlooks with the family. They were heading to Tom Price that evening though after dinner and I was getting very stressed out with my visa expiring soon so I rode to the T junction heading west towards Tom Price and got dropped off there putting up my tent for the night. I would love going back to Karininji one day if I can though, another amazing National Park with so much to see that I missed. Next day I got a ride with a few cars and a truckie to Newman, wanted to see the Mt Whaleback mine which is the biggest open cut iron-ore mine in the world. But sadly I missed the last tour for the day by an hour and didn’t want to stay a whole day just waiting there so I kept hitching south catching my second ride on the whole trip with a roadtrain, so I got all the way to Cue that night. I could have gotten almost all the way to Perth but wanted to check out Walga Rock because I missed out on both the Whaleback and Marble Bar.
Interesting note from Cue, talked to a grey nomad there (that’s what people living in their caravans travelling around Oz are called, usually retired people) and most of them were prospecting there! (Looking for gold). They guy I talked had found 7 ounces the last 4 months just walking around the outback with a metal detector. And at 1000$ and ounce that’s a pretty nice addition to your super (retirement fund). It really shows how much Western Australia is the land of opportunities! There is so incredible much work here with all the mines where you can make so much money. And Perth is booming so much at the moment so they are looking for staff everywhere! Can’t understand why not more people from back home come over here and work, such a great place to live in with all the work around, the nice weather and friendly people!
Next day I got a ride 11km out west of Cue and then I sat 4 hours at the road towards Walga Rock without a single car going that way! So still being stressed I decided to skip Walga Rock to and hitched a ride back to Cue and then got another ride with a Roadtrain (shitloads of roadtrains heading up and down the Great Western Highway because of all the mines). This guy ended driving me all the way to Perth! Got there around midnight and he said I could sleep at his place down in Fremantle and gave me dinner and breakfast.
So I’m back!! :D Didn’t take me many days to get the long way between Broome and Perth, but I really stressed it all through. But if I’m allowed to stay longer Ill go back up there next year around March/April.
Headed over to Sannas place in the city today and going to stay here a couple of nights, looking for work so I can get me some money because I’m pretty broke at the moment. Trying to get myself a extended visa so I can stay here another year but don’t know if Ill get it so cant get a full time job or apartment yet, and I really hope I get one because my current visa is expiring in a month and I don’t have a return ticket and cant afford one either! :S
Anyway, I will make one more entry in the blog in a few days with statistics, comments and afterthoughts so keep looking here.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

8th of August 2008

The rangers weren’t too happy with me in the morning after sleeping in Geikie Gorge, apparently they knew I was there but couldn’t find me, haha! Not much they can do about it though.
Took a short boat cruise into the gorge in the morning learning more about the old reef walls and spotting quite a lot of freshwater crocs.
After that I headed a bit west of Fitzroy Crossing then north on a dirt track until I got to Tunnel Creek which is also part of the Devonian Reef (as is Windjana Gorge where I went next).
Tunnel Creek is this carved out tunnel through the mountain stretching about 750m, from 3m to 16m in height and about 20m wide I would say. No lights or paths or anything in there, you are just recommended to bring a torch and shoes. I went barefoot with my extremely small torch and I was lucky because there was almost no one else when I was there (three busloads came in just when I crawled out though). Its quite exiting because you cant see anything at all except where your torch is shining and the creek goes up to your knees it some points. You also know the place is full of bats and small crayfish and a few freshwater crocodile babies. I had a good time anyway.
After that I had to spend a few hours before I got the next ride and god the heat is really starting to get to me! It isn’t always you can find some cover from trees and it’s between 30-35 degrees up here during the days in the shadow because winter is starting to come to an end. Anyway when I was sitting there it was close to 35, I had cover from a tree but I still noticed every time I got up on my feet because a car was passing everything just went black for a few seconds. But as long as I have water and can get that little shade I should be ok, starting to head south now anyways so I’m getting away from the heat, or.. hmm. My next planned stop is Marble Bar, Australia’s hottest town. Also claimed to be the hottest town in the world!
After Tunnel Creek I got a ride to Windjana Gorge as I mentioned and I slept the night there in my tent, the next morning I went for a hike and saw tons of freshies, Windjana is probably the best spot in Australia to see them.
Then I headed towards Broome, it took me most of the day but I got there in the afternoon making a stop at the boab prison tree which is this huge hollowed out Boab tree which they used to keep Aboriginal prisoners (slaves is a better name..) during the nights when bringing them north to Derby so they could work in the pearling industry.
I’ve been to Broome once before, in February. But I didn’t like it very much that time because of the unbearable heat and you couldn’t go for a swim in the ocean because of the highly deadly jellyfish they have here. But I do love it this time! The weather is awesome, no jellyfish at this time of year and Cable Beach is one of the most awesome beaches in Australia in my opinion. Being 22km long, having an 8m tide (which create a huuuge cleaned beach every day) and having a perfect sunset every evening just makes it such a nice place.
I slept my first night in Broome at the beach under the stars and I just have to mention (maybe said this before?) how extremely well I sleep on my 5mm foam mattress in my small tent! It was a bit rough in the beginning but the more I sleep in it the more used I get to it and enjoy it. I have so many dreams (really good ones to, most of the time!) every night that I remember and I wake up every morning to the sun rising and all the birds singing to me. I sleep horrible in the hostels and I wonder how I ever will be able to sleep in a normal bed again!
But once again, you are not allowed to sleep on the beach so the ranger got a bit pissy with me in the morning, but it’s my own fault because I slept so close to the stairs and showers. If I just slept another 200m away she would never have seen me, but at least I didn’t get fined. So checked into a hostel now instead staying two nights, wasn’t planning to stay that long here but really want to see the Olympics Opening Ceremony tonight, and that’s kind of hard to do in the middle of the bush!
Yesterday I went to the Crocodile Farm here, now that’s some wicked animals! Been around the last 200 million years and developed to become the ultimate predators. I did have a lot of respect for them before, but it has increased so much after learning more about them and seeing the 5-6 meters beasts and how they can hide in such a small pond and strike so fast not giving you any chance to defend yourself.
I wonder who would win a fight between a white pointer, a polar bear, a tiger and a saltie! Ahh, one of life great questions! My money goes on the saltie though.. But I do guess it depends on where the fight would take place.
In the evening last night I went to the outdoor cinema to watch Hancock. The cinema here is the world’s oldest outdoor cinema, quite nice! And Hancock was actually way over my expectations (had very low though).
Have restocked everything, had a shower and shave and tried to get my shoes a bit cleaner and less smelly (only have one pair, and a pair of thongs) although it seems impossible. So tomorrow morning I’m off again about 750km to Marble Bar, my next stop.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

4th of August 2008

I’m lying here in my tent between some big ancient rocks that used to be part of a reef million years ago. I’m in Geikie National Park just north of Fitzroy Crossing which is in the south part of the Kimberley’s in the north part of Western Australia. I am not really allowed to camp in the NP, that’s why I found this odd spot away from the car park and tourist information.
Just had my dinner, baked beans and 2 minutes noodles and some bread, not exactly a five star meal but at least it fills me up and it’s really cheap. Yesterday I got a free nice meal from some holiday makers from Perth and they fed me some cereals and milk this morning which is a nice change from the boring peanut butter jelly sandwiches I usually eat (and I don’t even like peanut butter! but its cheap and contains a lot of energy and proteins). And the night before I had some sausages with Luke (will tell ya more later) so I am getting kind of a mixed diet which is good.
I’m really starting to get good at getting freebies, but I do think I give something in return to people. They all find it very interesting when I tell them about Sweden, my journey through Australia and all the things I’ve learnt about the country that they had no idea about.
My adventure is approaching its end though, it’s still a long way to go (think about 30hours nonstop driving at least the way I’m planning to take) and there is a few things I’m still planning to see, but I'm hoping to be back in Perth in about 2-3 weeks, for good and for bad.
I do miss having friends around and a place to call home (my backpack is my home!) but I will also miss being on the road meeting so many interesting people and seeing all these places. I think if I had a partner to travel with I could be on the road for years just stopping every now and then at random places doing some work,
I have so many things planned to do when I get back to Perth! Sitting on the side of the road gives you so much time to think about your life and what I miss and what I want to do when I get back and so forth, but all these plans will come crashing down if I don’t get a extended visa which I haven’t even applied for yet (why do I always wait until the very last moment with everything?!). And if I don’t get it I’m in a tight spot, because I don’t have a return ticket and I can’t afford one either at the moment!
Oh well, it will solve itself in the end. Things always seem to do for me :)

I stayed two nights in Kununurra, getting on the piss the second night with some backpackers which was good fun but its something I shouldn’t do because of the money situation, but lucky me got 45$ in change back the next day at Coles when I gave the clerk 5$!
After Kununurra I caught a ride to Wyndham to the North and checked out the 5 rivers lookout and after that I got a ride back with the same guy to the turnoff going south from Kununurra seeing both a whirly (small tornado) and a bushfire up close on the way back, good fun!
Took me a while to get from the next spot despite I had two police officers about 50m away from me breathalyzing people so you would think people wouldn’t be scared of me. But just before dusk a car full with aboriginals picked me up and drove me all the way to Warmun.
Next day I got picked up by the guy that had been sleeping in the tent next to me, Luke.
He was 25 years and from Coffs Harbour on the east coast and as Australian as you can get. Having the surfer look, driving a Ute, having a real strong Aussie accent and wearing a singlet with the Southern Cross on! But I got along with him really well and went to Bungle Bungle first with him for the rest of the day and most of the next then we slept one night in Old Halls Creek Lodge which has to be the weirdest place I’ve been to on this trip, it was like directly taken from some horror movie with a real creepy kid and all. The next day Luke dropped me off at the Wolfe Creek turnoff, hope to catch up with him again in Perth if he eventually gets there.
The Bungle Bungles or Purnunulu National Park wasn’t discovered by the public until the 80s, it consist of these striped bee hive looking cliffs stretching 200m into the air and a couple of amazing gorges. It’s another really amazing place that everyone traveling around Australia really should visit, its also one of those places that its just impossible to get a photo that shows the majesty of the whole place.
Next I went to Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater (watch the movie Wolf Creek if you haven’t, an Aussie horror movie). The Crater is 800m wide and is the second biggest in the world (The one in Arizona is bigger, wanted to go there when I was in the neighborhood but it isn’t always easy traveling with other people..), it got formed 300 000 years ago when a meteorite came crashing down, today its only 20 meters deep but apparently it was once 120m, Walking inside it almost feels like your in Jurrasic Park, just ancient with all the parrot noise echoing through the crater. The whole thing is surrounded by the start of Tanami desert, just flat landscape going on forever with very few trees and lots of razor sharp Spinifex grass. It was way easier then I expected to both get in and out of there considering its a 140km dirt road and away from everything just to get there with very little traffic. But I arrived already early in the afternoon and a couple there squeezed me into their car and got me to the highway next day because they didn’t want to leave me in the middle of nowhere, some nice people out there!
From there it took me the rest of the day to get where I am now, Geikie Gorge, which is a gorge surrounded by the 350 million years old Devonian Reef walls.