Thursday, 25 July 2013

Oz, Epicness along the way

Along our three months of trip in Australia, we've got the chance to walk, sleep and live in strange and sometimes exceptional places. As our spendings for accommodation show, we spend most of our nights out in the tent and this resulted in visiting un-habitual spots. Our walks brought us to see breathtaking landscapes that are otherwise not accessible by car.




In this post, I'll try to summarize some of the most epic moments we've lived.


On hikes


Some of the places we've been to where just extraordinary. We walked about 917km to discover Australia and we've tried both car and hikes. Even though things are easy by car, there is a second truth to it ... you become lazy and you definitely don't see as much.

Among the best hikes we've done, here are the ones that will stay in out heads for a long long time:

  • 7 miles beach - NSW: 30 km in two days
  • Wine Glass Bay - Tasmania: 10 km
  • Lorne - Great Ocean Road - VIC: 25 km
  • Port Augusta - South Australia: 60 km in 4 days
  • Uluru - NT: 19 km
  • Kata Tjuta - NT: 14 km
  • King's Canyon - NT: 14 km
  • West MacDonnell Ranges: 56 km in 3 days (Larapinta Trail)
  • Katherine Gorge - NT: 33 km in 2 days



Lanscapes


Then there are landscapes. Australia is all about landscapes and not matter if you travel by bus, train or car there are landscapes for every tastes. We will especially remember:

  • Caves and Scotland alike landscapes of Tasmania
  • The 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road
  • The l'Outback gateway with the Flinders Ranges and it's red sand (Port Augusta)
  • Cook and thé Nullabor Plain (flat, no trees, no water) and the longest straight train tracks in the world - 478 km long.
  • The South of Perth with it's turquoise water beaches and giant tree forests
  • The pinnacles, a scientific mystery
  • Uluru, Kata Tjuta and King's Canyon - the "must do" of Australia
  • West MacDonnel Ranges that were once as bug as the Himalayas - millions of years ago.
  • The giant thermite mouds of the Litchfield National Park
  • The many tropical forests, gorges and mountains all around Cairns that makes the place look like Taiwan
  • The Great Barrier Reef with tropical fishes and shells



Camping with a tent in Oz



With about 60 or so nights spent in the tent, it happen several times that we pitched it in some strange and fun places. This is clearly what made the adventure.
Early in the trip, we used to camp a lot on soccer fields (called ovals here). Ideally located, these field of fresh cut grass where ideal ... even though it happened that we needed to wait for the training to finish before setting up camp.

Then there was the parks. Australia invests huge amounts of money into their parks. Not just national parks but also city parks, botanical gardens etc. For example, the city of Adelaide is completely surround by parks.
Aside of Alice springs, where it is not "recommended" to sleep out in town, most of the city parks are safe to camp. We've pitched the tent for example directly in the Melbourne CBD - and one day we've been waken up by a strange noise ... the launch of balloons. Trust me, it's even more fun when you didn't noticed the launch pad on the evening!

Third there are the beaches. Being an Island, Australia is surrounded by water and there is a lot of beaches where you can camp without bothering anybody. We practiced camping on beaches in Tasmania, south of pert, Darwin and also Cairns. If you do this, make sure to check how high the ties comes in before getting to sleep!

Finally, the Outback. In the middle of nowhere with no living human kilometers around, the outback camping is a great experience. Sleeping in rocky mountains, forests, near lakes or within national parks - we kinda tried all of the possibilities. Be prepared to heard wild animal noises. Hoping kangaroos, howling dingos, possums and much more ...



 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Key numbers of the gig

Before starting this trip, we decided to log as much as possible data from our trip with in mind to pull together statistics from it when the end would have come.
As many of you know, I like to play with numbers - Check this out!

For those of you that are not big fans of math, no worries .. me neither. I tried to set things up to make it fun and interesting to read. Let me know if you have questions along the way.



Trip analytics


What did a "standard" day looked like for us? We recorded everyday of the trip how distances were made. Either by walk, or using various means of transportations - it is quite interresting to see how the most time consuming part of the trip was spent.
Also, we kept detailed records of the money spent. The idea is to share with you these numbers and help you budget and plan for your own trip.

Spendings


Spending wise,  we spent a total of 9,043AUD for this trip (which on todays rate accounts for 6,300Euros). 
As you can see, as we decided to camp, accomodation accounts for a ridicule part of the budget (only 1.7%). The biggest part is dedicated to transportation.

Australia being a large country, make sure to allocate sufficient founds for it!

Detailing our transportation spendings; On 40% total, 35% went into our train tickets, 32% for car rental (should be less if you are over 25yo, 17% goes in our plain tickets and finally 11% for public transportation within the cities.


Km counter

  • Transportation (train, car, bus, plane, boat): 28 272 km
  • Time spend on the road: 366 hours (15 days)
  • Distance made by walk: 917 km

Arid Botanical Garden - Port Augusta - South Australia

Key numbers

  • Longest distance walked: 25,7km in Lorne (Great Ocean Road) on Avril 30th 2013
  • Longest distance made in one leg: 4 352 km from Sydney to Perth from July 10th to 13th.
  • Longest leg: 67 hours on the Indian Pacific train from Sydney to Perth.

Hike in Lorne - VIC


On an average day


Overall, in 90 days, we made 314 km in 4 hours by transport (train, plane, boat, car) each day. We walked, (in towns or hikes) for 10 km and spent 50 $ each (35 Euros).



Monday, 22 July 2013

Our adventure in Oz step by step

Three months - that's the time it took us to accomplish this trip around Oz.
Three months - that's the right amount of time anyone should dedicate to visit Australia. Actually that's the minimum time you should allocate for it.

In this post, a quick overview of where we've been! Hopefully this will give you the taste of traveling in this great country!




The map


To start, find below a summary map of our track across Australia. As you can see, we passed several times through Perth - no wonder we ended up there as a conclusion of our trip.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The end ... almost!

It is true that we haven't seen as much as we could have from the east coast. The first reason is that after having seen so many things already in three months, most of the east coast are just more beaches, more of the same thing.

The second reason is also that we've had while a Brisbane a phone call with Jon. Jon is a friend from Perth. He offered us to sit his house while he's on vacation in Japan and get us some work once his back.

He lives in Perth, which, if you remember is on the other side of Australia. It is 4000km west of Sydney. Our unlimited train pass expiring in less than two weeks, we decided to jump on the opportunity. Especially since the train allows us to travel for free with a luggage allowance of over 40kg each! Ideal for moving all our stuff.


Byron Bay


Brief stay in Sydney


Before starting our trip, we left a few things in Sydney at Dino and Frank's - both good friends of Tim and Adeline. We plan to stay three days in Sydney, gather our things and hop on the train for another three day towards Perth.

We arrived in Sydney around 6am. I can tell you the temperature there was cold! Nothing like Sweden of course, but cold enough to require a bit of thermal protection.  We spent most of the day hanging around the Sydney harbor / Opera house. We also visited the modern Art gallery which we didn't had the chance to check out earlier.

Luckily we had great weather, we've been told that it was pouring for two weeks prior our arrival!




For the evening, we stopped by our old flat to visit our ex-flatmate Balaji. Invited for dinner, we spend the evening there with him, sharing the story of our trip and of course eating the traditional curries.

We spent this first night back in Sydney not far in the nearby park, while the two following days we slept at Frank's place. Adeline enjoyed to hop back at her old workplace and see that she hadn't forgotten any of the old reflexes - she still makes great coffee!




Operation - Get the luggage back!


It's hard to imagine how much things you have before you actually do have to carry all of them from one place to another. We had one huge luggage, a smaller one + our two backpacks and some more bags with shoes etc in it.
In total we might have close to 90kg. Way too much stuff if you ask me.

We will definitely need to sort things out and get rid of a few things before moving again. (especially some computer stuff ... yeah >< way to heavy).


Arrival in Perth...


On Wednesday morning, we picked-up all our stuff and went to the train station. This is the third time that we are taking the Indian Pacific. In the train we meet again the same crew members, it's kinda fun. The trip is 67hours long and for 4352km. The train being somehow a touristic train, it stops several times along the way: Broken Hill, Adelaide, Cook, Kalgoorlie and Perth.


Broken Hill, Outback NSW


This is the only city we didn't had the chance to visit yet. This small town in the middle of no-where is famous for it's mines of silver, copper and steel. Today most of the mines are closed.


Old mine shaft in Broken Hill



Perth, our new home


We left Sydney on Wednesday and arrived in Perth on Saturday morning. Out of luck, the train station that acts as a main hub in town is closed due to construction works. So to get to our destination we need to walk, take the train, take a bus and walk again ... all this with our 90kg remember?

But we did it! Finally we are arrived and now it's time to relax, unpack our luggage and work on finalizing the last blog posts before going back to work.

Plenty of cooking and geek-ing is on the menu - of course!







More Picutres








Brisbane, capital of Queensland

Brisbane! This is the last big stop of our trip. Compared to the other Australian cities we've been to, Brisbane is the third largest city with over 2 million inhabitants - right after Sydney and Melbourne.
 
During our stay in Brisbane, we will stay at Seiji's place, a mexican friend that Tim knew from Sweden. Seiji is in Brisbane since January and undertakes there master studies.

Brisbane City center and Riverside

As for most large Australian cities, Brisbane is a city build on/near water. Located at about 20km from the ocean, the main source of water in Brisbane is this huge river that flows towards the ocean,
On our arrival in Brisbane we were not lucky and got some rain. But it didn't stayed long, and we could quickly hop on bikes to cycle along the riverside.



On the following days, we walked several times from Seiji's place to the city centre. Along these 5km, we discovered most of the cities museums, the botanical garden and the city centre itself with its shopping mall and boutiques.

We also discovered that Brisbane has a strong link with Taiwan. A plate commemorates the link established between Brisbane and the city of Koashiung in Taiwan. Maintainging friendly relationships, there are a lot of Taiwanese tourists coming to Brisbane as well as young students.




With Seiji we also went to the Mount Coot-tha, Brisbane's highest peak and major attraction. From their, you have a 360 degree panoramic view of the city. Then, we slowly hiked out way down and discovered along the walk traditional aboriginal arts dating from the 90s.




For our last day in town, we improvised with Seiji a picnic on the Riverside (near Kangaroo point). Then the day concluded by a ride back on the city cat, the cities' ferry. 





More pictures



Thursday, 18 July 2013

Bundaberg and the Rum!

Bundaberg is a small township in the Australian state of Queensland. It is about 24h train from Cairns hosts about 70,000 inhabitants.

Bundaberg? Famous in Australia, you, outside might also have heard this name. Especially if you often take the plane and shop around airport duty free shops. The brand is famous for one thing: Rum, and such since 1888.


Sugar Cane plantations


In our previous posts about Cairns,  you might have noticed a picture from a sugar cane field. We've been quite surprised by the sight of it when we first arrived in Cairns, and most of the landscapes there are covered with it.

Once the sugar has been extracted from the cane, there is only a viscous by-product left called Molasses. This is the first ingredient used to produce Rum!


Tour of the distillery


If we hop off the train here in Bundaberg it is just and only for the Run; nothing else! The tour offers a quick process introduction to the making of Rum as well as a guided tour of the whole facilities. 

Before entering the first building, we pass first in front of a huge building. That building generates lots of smoke and is the place where the sugar is first extracted from the cane before the Rum process takes over.



The first building holds a huge open tank of molasses. It is quite smelly and looks like sticky mud. That molasses is later on mixed with water, washed and prepared for fermentation in order to create alcohol!

After that step, the alcohol level isn't sufficient yet to call it Rum, so we switch to distillation. At this step, the mix is boiled and condensed to retain as much alcohol as possible within the smallest concentration.




That strong alcohol is  then placed into huge 75,000 liter casks to rest for a few years. It is within these maturation years that the Rum (similarly for the Whiskey) is getting its flavors and colors.
The wood used to build the cask is important as this is what gives to the each Rums their respective tastes and colors. Bundaberg import used Bourbon casks from the US (as all scotch Whisky's).

Once matured, the Rum is pumped into bottles, labeled and shipped. You can find a bit of Bundaberg Rum outside Australia but it remains a fairly small quantity as Australia consumes 96% of the production, 3% goes to New-Zealand and the rest to international export.

More pictures


Monday, 1 July 2013

Cairns and around - Part2

This is already a week that we are in Cairns. Impressions? - Awesome landscapes!
Cairns looks a bit like we are sitting on an island - well, we do, - but more like a small Island. Beaches are always nearby and behind big mountains covered with dense rain forest jungle.
The place reminds us a lot of Taiwan or even Tioman Island in Malaysia.

Many Australians come here to retire or simply to make a break in their life - and we know why. This is the perfect place to relax and just enjoy great weather!

3 days by car


To fully enjoy the surounding landscapes and get to see all the spots that we had marked on our map, we rented a car for three days. Three days are enough to see most of the things. This times, we didn't got as lucky with the rental as in the other times, and out car is yellow ... I call it Ugly Yellow ... anyway...

Since I want to keep my reputation, I let Adeline drive for these three days :)




On the first day, we head south to check out a place filled with waterfalls. The most impressive of all is the Josephine Falls (picture below).





On the second day, waterfalls again! This time we saw the Milla Milla Falls. Also on the way we get to travel on top of the Table lands. There the landscapes remind us a lot of what can be seen in the mountains in France for example.




On the third day, we visited the Mossman Gorge and drove up all the way North to Cape Tribulation - Place where Captain Cook arrived first in Australia. This is also the place where the normal roads stops. There is no other way to go further north without a 4WD.





Overclocking event


Even on holiday, we do not forget our job and our geek roots. Through Overclocking-TV we got invited to attend the Australian annual meet hold in Cairns. Every year, the Australian overclockers meet for one week of extreme computer fun. Read more in this news on OverClocking-TV to learn more about it.



Since after a few hours Overclocking can be boring, Adeline decided to take car of the food part and cooked for the guys some delicious meals - Pizzas and Lasagne.




More Pictures