17 – 23 April
17 April – Been here in Lethbridge for nearly a week now,
have one more to go. Will take time this
morning to write to Ron and Celia and Bridget and David and anyone else I have
stayed with along the way. Only been
three months but seems longer.
Have found everything very educational so far, I find all of
the cultures interesting. Sometimes I
will dive into a library to find out any information I need on a particular
subject. I have an address of a
magazine, ‘She Travels’, which I shall write to at some stage, they want
travellers to contribute to it, however I need a computer as you have to send a
disc with everything on.
Being treated to all kinds of different experiences by
Margaret. Weather is so mixed here, we
have had in the past week, gales, snow and temperatures up in the 20s, so not
sure what to put on in the morning.
Today and the coming week I have some touristy things to see in the
area. Margaret’s sister works in a jail
so having a tour of the jail on Tuesday evening, hope they don’t keep me
there. Going to a nature reserve this
afternoon and to a concert tonight. The
group are a young family called, ‘The Rankin Family’, can only imagine they are
like Clannad so should be good. Will buy
a tape if I like them.
19 April – Local prison in Lethbridge. Had to wander amongst
the inmates at some points, it was really quite enlightening. Some of Joan’s co-workers remarked at how
calm and collected I was, apparently some people that visit the place are
Current day thoughts
With so much to do in and around Lethbridge I am a bit
confused as to the chronological order of things in the second week but I have
tried to make some order via my photographs, (hopefully soon I can post some of
those for you to see).
There was a nature reserve, which I don’t remember anything
about, but it may have contained the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump,
which is an open plain area where the Native Indians used to drive the buffalo
over the cliff, which would kill them, and subsequently they could eat the meat
and use the hides.
The bridge, which Lethbridge is named after, is a railway
bridge which is the longest and tallest railway bridge of its type in
the world. It crosses the Oldman River
but I don’t recall whether I saw the river or not, just a really long bridge
covering lots of plain.
Nikka Yuko Japanese
Garden provided a peaceful sanctuary to wander around, not that Lethbridge is a
noisy place; in fact Canadian towns and cities are all quite laid back. Again I have vague memories of it.
We went to Fort
Whoop-Up to take in a bit of culture. A once
trading post in both legal and illegal goods, (whisky being one of them,
buffalo hides another).
Joan took me to the Waterton Lakes National Park close to the
Canada/USA border, which was so beautiful and took in the Rocky Mountains. We had a lovely day walking amongst the deer
and goats and taking in the fresh air and scenery. It was just coming into spring and I always
think the air is at its freshest in the spring.
It is my favourite season.
Margaret did get me to do some chores though. Apart from helping her to sell raffle tickets
in the shopping mall she got me to use a contraption which held week killer,
which I had to administer to all, and there were a lot, of the dandelions on
the lawn. I guess I had to earn my keep
I never did contact ‘She Travels’, but I still have a
burning ambition to be a travel writer.
Watch this space as they say.
How technology has progressed. Computers were not as common as they are now
and floppy discs were the thing back then.
The Rankin Family were really good, more like The Corrs than
Clannad and I did indeed purchase a tape of their music, a cassette tape, not a
CD. I remember being disappointed that
the music on it was not the same as they did at the concert, but I still
enjoyed listening to it.
The prison was a great place to visit. It was an open prison so security a bit more
relaxed. At one point a prisoner offered
for us to go through a door before him, but Joan made him go first and he
respected her authority. I can only
imagine the danger you can put yourself into if not careful. I wasn’t too happy with all the male
attention I got but I guess not too many young ladies happen their way. We sat in a secure office for a while, where
the prison officers could observe the prisoners around them in a communal
area. On an upper level there were
cubicles but I can’t remember whether they were toilets or showers, either way
a prisoner’s feet would always be showing, so not total privacy. The water fountain had a notice attached to
it asking that nobody should spit into fountain. I don’t know why I remember that, but it has
stayed with me and I am a bit wary of water fountains now. A female had been detained for disorderly behaviour;
I think she had been drinking. I was
allowed to look through a peep hole in the door to the room she was being held
and she was giving the prison officers some lip. I was glad not to have been on the other side
of the door. Each prison officer was allocated a pepper spray to use when
required but before they were allowed to have one the officer had to experience
the pepper spray in his or her eyes, so as they know the kind of reaction to
expect from another person.
I think the prison had quite an impact on me as I can
remember so much detail of the visit.
Not something you get to do every day is it, and it wouldn’t be the last
prison I encountered on my journey.
With Margaret and Joan’s help I pretty much squeezed everything out of Lethbridge. And to think I had never heard of the place, so thank you to my ex for suggesting I stay with Margaret.
23 January 2019
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the date I
set out on my first backpacking adventure and I thought it might be fun to
share with you some of my diary entries from then coupled with my current day thoughts. I’ll do this by creating a summary of each
week rather than giving a blow by blow daily account of what I got up to. I may even throw in a few photos on the
way. My journey was 10 months in total
and took me to Australia, Canada, United States of America, (London) and India,
in that order. It might seem strange to
have visited India last of all as my direction of travel would have taken in India
first, but believe me it was a good decision.
Having built up the confidence in the preceding months this allowed me
to cope with a country that was so different to any which I had experienced
before. 10 months that helped to shape
the person I am today.
23 January 1994 - 21:09hrs - London Heathrow.
Well, this is me, departure lounge at Heathrow. Can’t really believe I am here. Salisbury has been on flood alert all of this
past week, I never knew I had so much inside of me waiting to come out. I have a feeling of deja vu at the moment;
it has been with me for the past few days. I am on a journey with a goal in
mind, but as it gets closer I realise that I do not know why I am doing it at
all. I have been searching for myself forever and looking for love. I have love now, so I guess I am still
looking for me. I ride through a tunnel, it is dark and there is no atmosphere,
just blankness. My mind has disappeared, I simply have no thoughts about what
it is I am doing here, and then suddenly I come close to reaching my
destination and I come through the tunnel. I guess I am very apprehensive and
quite simply lonely. This is something I should be sharing.
The flight is ok so far and, yes, I knew they would do this,
a full meal, they call it supper, at 12:00 midnight, yeuk! I will eat it anyway
as I have paid for it. And so to bed, for a few hours at least.
Did not sleep well, may have had half an hour shut eye.
Breakfast at 6am (2pm Singapore time).
The first leg of the journey over. It is 7pm here in
Singapore, looks like it may rain. I looked out of the window on the plane, we
were floating on fluffy cotton buds, twixt earth and heaven. A bit like my life
at the moment, all up in the air. Flight from Singapore to Perth, smaller
plane, only 4 hrs trip, but did not enjoy so much. Fewer tourists on board,
mainly locals. Still more food. More calm now and looking forward to touch
down. Although having said that, I feel secure up in the air, once down I am on
my own for real, despite being met by Ron and Celia.
25 January - 0:30hrs
Arrived half an hour early.
A little rainy, but still warm. I recognised Ron and Celia straight
away, but they did not remember me, I looked a right mess anyway so I don’t
think they would have stood a chance. Celia
thought it was cold, but it isn’t, even with the wind blowing.
I feel strange being in another person's house. I think I
would prefer to be on my own in a hostel or something. It was suggested that I
ring home tonight (morning), but I will wait until the evening of the 25th as I
do not think I could cope with it right away. 2:45am, so signing off now, I shall sleep
Did not rise until 12 noon. House seems strange, more like a
holiday villa, will get used to it soon. Went around Armadale this afternoon,
everything seems so spread out. I guess because not much is built at two
storey, all on one level, there is certainly plenty of room to spread out here.
Not too big a place, shopping malls all
under cover, a few businesses dotted around. Mainly a residential area. Much the size of Wilton probably. I do not feel able to dash off and do my own
thing whilst here, feel obliged to wait until taken to places. It may be too
secure a start, home from home type thing.
26 January - Wednesday, Australia Day! A bank holiday.
The flag was flying in Herriard Road. They all go on about how proud they are to be
Australian. The Brits do take quite a battering, don’t know why. I would not
want to live here though, despite the laid back life-style. It is too hot and
the openness and extrovert nature of the younger generation would be too much
to handle. Maybe the east side is different. Tonight on the train back from
Perth, the carriages were packed with young people (teenagers) who all seemed
to be drunk, stoned, whatever, and they were loud mouthing it and dancing to
music. I thought I was on a par with
young people but this is a bit above me and so loud. I must be getting old.
Celia told me that a lot of kids don’t stand a chance of getting jobs now, so
they just blow their dole money on having a wild time and saying sod the rest
of the world, it’s going to end soon anyway. Around 6-8 years ago jobs were ok
and most 20/22 year olds bought their own houses and most have already finished
paying off their mortgages at 30yrs old, it’s unreal. They have two/3 cars,
everything. Even Ron and Celia have two houses. We are going down to the beach
house for the weekend. There is more opportunity to make something of yourself
through schooling. Because a lot of places (towns, cities) are so isolated or
1000's of miles from the next, like everywhere in Western Australia, (Perth is
the most isolated city in the world), they tend to have everything you can
think of on their doorstep. 3 universities for W.A. alone. If it is there and
you don’t have to travel far, you make the most of facilities and work hard. I
hate myself for not being more aware or more alive when younger. Almost forgot
to say that we went to the annual light show in Perth tonight, always held on
Australia Day. Quite a big fireworks display, had some really good ones go off.
All the city's traffic came to a standstill, it was like a mass protest
marching through. We stopped off for a coffee to let the masses die down. Still
catching up with myself and the time differences.
27 January - The earliest I have been up this morning, 09:00hrs.
Celia took me around Perth centre, for shopping and to see
some sights. Experienced a slice of Princess Cake, full of calories and messy,
but we enjoyed it. Walked around an art gallery, quite contrasting exhibits on
show. One sector was all Aboriginal paintings, they are quite samey to look at,
but very colourful and all tell a story. Wacky contemporary and modern art and
quite decent fine art by Ozzie artists. All buildings seem quite new in the
city centre, very big and modern and everything seems to link into another.
Shopping much the same as in England, except more food outlets. Actually did
the washing up at tea, which makes me feel pretty good. Have now got some times
and prices for coach travel between major cities, so will map out a route soon.
I will stay for another week and half or two.
Why is it a lot of countries dislike the original natives of
their lands. With Americans it was Indians, South Africans the blacks and
Australia the Aborigines. A little ancestry still showing through perhaps,
after all most Australians are immigrants themselves.
28 January - Up early today, 08:30hrs
Busied about getting ready for the weekend. Beach house not
too far away. Stopped off at a couple's house for refreshment. It would seem
that most of them think that the world looks down on Australians and try to
defend themselves constantly. They think that Britain should adopt the same way
of life as Oz, mainly on the economic side. Why should Britain have dollars and
cents, do the rest of Europe, no, but does that bother them, does it heck. Australia is a continent and Europe is a
continent, wouldn't it be boring if everyone was the same. I think UK is unique
and should stay that way. The beach house is much the same as their town house.
Went to the beach with Ron. My first dip in the Indian Ocean. The beach was
virtually deserted, just us and one other family to start with. The sand seemed
to go on for miles either side and the sea was beautiful. Bit choppy to swim,
but had fun dodging the waves. Had Celia told me about the sea snakes much
further up the coast, I may not have gone in. Have got a little sunburn and I
hardly stayed in the sun. Must make sure I use some lotion next time. By the
way, we are now at a place called Singleton. The sea breezes are quite strong
and almost constant, deceivingly so.
29 January –
I am coping with the heat quite well, wore my hat for the
first time today down to the beach. The breeze is refreshing but still very hot
in the sun. Slapped on the sun lotion today. Sea was much calmer. Ron came down
to do a rescue mission in case I had frazzled without realising it. He drove down
and it is only a five minute walk. I came back on foot, I am missing out so
much on exercise. Went around Mandurah this morning, very seasidey type of
place. Just off of the centre is a residential area built around man made
canals. All gardens go down to the water so that they can hop straight into
their boats. Very exclusive and very tasteful as well. Not as many swimming
pools as you might imagine in the suburb areas. Everything reminds me of holiday
villages with chalets. So peaceful strolling along the water front under a star
lit sky. We all sat and set the world to right before bed.
Current day thoughts
I’ve had to cut out quite a lot of my entries, some too
personal and some not very PC. We have
to be PC these days. Diaries can be a
dangerous thing in the wrong hands. Should mention that Ron and Celia Penny were
very good friends of my parents, dad grew up with Ron. They emigrated to Australia in 1969 with their
two children. I had seen them once in
that time when they came back to visit in UK some years later. Seems that employment issues are the same
worldwide and the young no different. We don’t always see it on others’
doorsteps. Three universities in Western
Australia, it seemed a lot. There are 5
now. I suppose not so surprising when
you consider the size of the area and the growing population. I
think more logically these days. There
appeared to be a lot of problems between the Aborigines and Australians, I am
sure there still it but I think in general indigenous cultures are given more
of a voice these days. I still wish I
had pushed myself harder when younger. Interesting
to know my thoughts on UK back then (I knew nothing about the EU and what they did). I don’t think that way now; I think we should
become more like Australia in that they use more of their own resources to keep
the economy stable. I know nothing about
the economy but it seems that way anyway.
I still don’t cope with heat well and I still burn in the sun.
30 January - It’s hot today.
Still very tired. I don’t want to get out of bed but I drag myself out
before 09:00hrs. Adrian and Shae rolled up mid-morning. Shea is 2½ years old and
she still looks like a baby, but she is a fun thing and lively. We all went down to the beach for an hour or
two. The sea seemed quite calm but the wind picked up and the waves rolled in.
I had quite a frightening experience at one point. A wave broke over me and
completely swept me off my feet. I thought I was going to drown. I think my
eyes were open, all I could see was swirling water all around me and I
somersaulted from the force. I couldn’t get out of the water quick enough. My
whole head was filled with water. I can’t imagine how surfers manage to survive
some of the big waves. After Adrian had
gone, in his 22 year old banger, we packed up and sped off home, stopping a Reg
and Elsie’s to say goodbye. Came home via the country roads. Every so often we
came across areas where bush fires had taken hold. They can happen at any time,
anywhere and if the wind is blowing you've had it. Most are kept under control
before spreading to houses. Even as we drove there was some in the distance,
probably Rockingham area. I think 20 years ago the whole area of W.A. was
mainly vegetation, now housing areas are going up everywhere. Overpopulation
will make its way to Oz sooner or later.
Tea on the veranda, I thought lunch was the main meal, oh
well, its only calories piling on. No
sea breezes in Armadale, the fan is a definite must this evening. Starting to
work out some routes now. With all that Ron and Celia have planned for me, it
will be a 3 weeks stay. I will never be able to thank them enough. Ron rang my
mum and dad tonight, I did not realise he was going to, we all had a little
31 January - One week nearly over already, certainly the
most mixed January I have ever had, weather wise. Kevin must have been sad
yesterday, I can imagine how sad and lonely he is, I hope he manages to occupy
his time ok. Have to admit that I have not been missing him as much as I
should. There has been so much to do and
see even in this short week and planning my next move as well.
Today was definitely the hottest it has been, but that
didn’t stop us going out. First the weekly shopping was done, there seems to be
much more choice available especially in the fruit and veg line. After lunch a
leisurely drive down to the Serpentine Dam. It is very pretty driving through
the vast woodland, so many shades of green with the odd touch of greyish blue.
Certainly a wildlife day. The Dam is massive and supplies most of the area with
water. However the water was very low, makes you realise how precious the stuff
is here. Stopped off at a Bar-B-Q area and fed the wild parrots with bread.
They come and land all over you, arms, legs, head, for a feed. Scratched my
arms to pieces and ruined what little hair style I had. They were so lovely and
tame. Saw my first Kookaburra, he wanted his share of the bread, only at a distance.
Also saw an electric blue coloured wren.
On the way home passed a dead kangaroo on the roadside. Nobody moves them, the
crows will have a picking or two and other small creatures. Can’t wait to see
one alive and kicking in the wild, love to see a koala too. Lots of Black Boy trees around, pictures do
not depict them very well, you have to see one to understand their given name.
Along the woodland areas you come across burnt patches, which is known as
controlled burning. If the trees are already burned the natural fires should
peter out at these points as there is no more in their path to burn. Golly I've
learned a lot today. Near to the Serpentine Dame is a garden of Aboriginal
design. It is of a snake weaving through areas of water in the hope that its
presence will bring much water. This comes from the Aboriginal period known as
'Dream Time', from which most of their art work drives. Met Celia's parents
later on. Dick is in his 80's and likes to wear loud clothes, he was all in
bright red today. Her mum makes you feel at home straight away. Nice down to
earth house with granny type furnishings. Supper outside again and a very
calming spout on the hammock.
1 February - Paid the price of sitting out last night,
covered in mossie bites. A stark contrast in the weather, 40's yesterday, only
25 today. Went to King Park in Perth had a fantastic view of the city, it
really is a massive place. Everywhere you turn in this state you will see a
barbecue, no need to go hungry or have to spend out a fortune. The barbecue is
a national pass-time. Next, to Freemantle, via Cottesloe, where we had a spot
of lunch. Freemantle is a seafaring town. The shipping docks are along this
part of the coast line. The next biggest place down from Perth I guess. The
older buildings have remained intact which gives the place more of an
atmosphere. Lots of good shopping, I will have to watch my step. Most people
would probably stick to the town centres, but there can be lots to see on the
outskirts. The Round House for instance, not a wonderful sight, but a piece of
Freemantle history nonetheless. It is an old prison where the naughty sailors
were banged up. Conditions looked extremely basic, probably only a foot square
window in the top left of cramped cells.
Some points to think about are rail crossings, it is so easy
to get carried away with everything around you that you do not concentrate on
the lines. The crossings are not well protected. Some lines run through the
middle of towns. Driving - would probably not cost a lot to buy an old banger
(cars last for years over here). Roads and freeways are very straight and long,
no banks to hide view. In Western Australia there is hardly any traffic on
roads so driving can be erratic, no stopping at junctions or when turning corners.
Again, rail crossings spring up from nowhere, no barriers or anything, maybe a
few flashing lights. It is only in the
cities that you get a build-up of traffic. On the whole people amble about and
do not look where they are going.
I can imagine some people had houses in very secluded parts
with nice settings. Now highways run close by and housing estates pop up
everywhere and the whole atmosphere is ruined. Seems every spare bit of land is
being built on. I know that there is
plenty of space here but it is a shame. And being mainly one storey the area of
land taken by one house is quite a lot.
Forgot to mention the pioneering village yesterday. A look
at Victorian life. There is a school, which we did not get to see, where the
children etc all dress up in authentic gear. Also gold panning and olde worlde
shoppes. A shame that they had to stick an amusement arcade in one of the
Something else I learned today, which annoyed me slightly.
Ex-Pats who have not taken Australian citizenship still get a British pension.
Mind you, the amount remains static from the time you leave the UK. Plus they
get full Ozzie pension as well. No wonder pensions in the future are
jeopardised. I know a lot of the people paid taxes etc. but that is not the
2 February - Thought to myself if the shower this morning,
could have used a shower gel that does for hair as well. Would have cut down on weight in the
rucksack. Glad I did not bring any dressy clothes, we haven’t gone out much in
the evenings and nobody dresses up here anyway. Casual all the way. Just one smart skirt that
folds up small will suffice. Started to
think about the format for my book. Got some good advice from Shirley Conran's
book, 'Down with superwoman'. Looking around I see a lot of second-hand
bookshops with plenty bargains. So, if it’s too hot and you fancy sitting
quietly in the shade somewhere, pick up a book and read, you may improve your
Taking a short interlude from diary type things to remark on
some useful hints. Do join the YHA, you can get a 10 per cent discount on
certain things, which is handy from travel tickets point of view. I gave bus
company two routes to work on and asked them to calculate the cheapest way to
get from A to B. Give the actual travel dates and days you wish to start at
each point. 7 day passes can be used for any 7 days (non-consecutive) in a one
month period. With YHA discount = $170.00. Before you start out, calculate and
average amount per day for travel, accommodation and food. You will find that
through searching out information you probably will not spend your total quota
each day, so do treat yourself to the odd excursion every so often. By the end of your stay you could buy a nice
souvenir for yourself. Souvenirs - the
most stupid tradition ever invented. A trip like this should be purely for your
self-indulgence. Unless you are a reckless youth who has just decided to
up-anchor, you will have spent months, even years, like me, saving every penny.
Travel light with a rucksack, that way you are restricted with space. Use the
YHA to stay in, they are cheap and are not that uncomfortable for a night’s
sleep. During the day you will be out. If you find that there is no room at a
hostel, YMCA, YWCA are in most cities. The hostel may tell you where a cheap
hotel is. Sometimes I wish I could head off and take things as they come, but
where travel and accommodation is concerned I like to be organised. If you can book all bus routes up and pay at
the start, you know how much money is left to spend and you don’t have to
worry. Forward booking accommodation means you have somewhere direct to head
for. Travel in Australia can take a day or two and at unsociable hours. If you
are a woman travelling on her own you do not want to be wandering around
bewildered once at your destination. There is danger all around. People will
also know to expect you. Every other aspect of your trip can then be taken at
leisure. Plan to spend the first day forward planning and finding your way
around a city. The rest of the time is yours.
Back to today - a very overcast dull day, but pleasantly
warm. Spending most of the day deep in thought. Finished one roll of film
yesterday, good idea of Kevin's to use masking tape to record what is on the
roll for future developing. (Post cards - if a lot in one area send in one
envelope, mark 'card only', the rate is cheaper and you save on postage).
Apologise if I waffle, my mind is all a buzz at present.
Paid a visit to Daphne, one of Celia's yoga friends. She is
part Indian and lives up in the hills on the outskirts of Armadale.
(I have some James Galway classical music on in the
background. I can concentrate more with classical music in the
background, I have found that with writing poetry, it inspires me with feeling.)
Daphne and Celia gabbled on and Ron and I sat back and ate
cake. Delicious at that, banana buns and shortcake. Nothing really to write,
about the day. A reflective, organising day. Some of the houses in the hills
look very exclusive, it gets colder in that area due to the higher altitude.
Spoke to Bridget on the phone, wasn’t sure what to say, so didn’t hang around
long. I hate talking on phones.
3 February - Learnt a helpful tip today, always carry a
spare beer in your bag. You can easily bribe an Ozzie with a beer. Walked
around Armadale Museum this morning. Apparently Ron and Celia have never taken
a visitor there before, I am the only intelligent one that has stayed with
them. The oldest exhibits are aboriginal. It is interesting to see how
technology has come on, in the past 100 years, quite sad too. Next to the
History House Museum are two buildings: Armadale's first church and Primary
School. They originally stood in 'Third Road', but were moved to Minnawarra
Parks historic precinct. Not taken in pieces either, but as a whole, quite a
haul. There are an enormous amount of parks in each town/city, very shady, very
peaceful. Drove up into the hills again to Kalamunda. An orchard/horticultural
type area. Had a nice afternoon tea. Some
of these small towns are very nicely situated, but can be all shops and cafes.
I would like more to see. But as Ron pointed out, buildings are not the thing
here, wildlife is. Some of the larger cities have some fantastic modern
buildings. Made our way to Churchman's Brook reservoir, the water is out of
bounds but did look inviting. A nice picnic spot under shade, with a stream
trickling through. I could lose myself in places like that. Good old fish and
chips in paper for tea, no messy washing up tonight. Decided to test some of my
poetry out on Celia for an opinion.
4 February – Today’s tip, (for women only), one that I
poached. If washing a limited supply of undies is a pain every other day, wear
a panty shield. Dispose of at end of the day and your undies are fresh for
Managing to keep up my exercises before breakfast, all the
calorific food I am eating, I need to.
Into Perth to book my bus ticket, glad that is all sorted.
Took a detour through the Royal Perth Hospital. A massive 13 storey building.
It seems to me that a lot of countries have a similar code in the design of the
hospitals. Charity shops, refreshment area, cashier etc. Had lunch in one of
the malls. Shopped ‘til we dropped, (not really). Stayed around the house for
the rest of day. Walked under an amazing
fig tree in Perth. It grows on the sidewalk, or rather, the sidewalk grows
around it and it spans the entire road in a kind of umbrella shape.
5 February - It rained today, very hard, but only for 5
minutes, been a mixed day weather wise. Cold to an Oz, but pleasantly warm to
me. The chores were done this morning. Felt tired over lunch so rested before
we went to visit Celia's mum in Armadale hospital.
Popped to Wongan Dam. Quite spectacular piece of
architecture surrounded by forest. Afternoon tea was at the Elizabethan Village
pub, a home from home English pub. They have Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Shakespeare’s
house, his birth place.
Sat through a plate of hot chilli con carne, a Ron special. The ice cream went down well. Got lost in my music earlier on, like a dreamer in my late teens. Jean and Malcolm came round for the evening. From Coventry, moved here 9 years ago. She would prefer to go back and live Coronation Street style.
Current day thoughtsNot much editing this week. Staying with the natives is a very good way to see the best things and get to know how things really are. I really started to get into jotting down travel tips to make life easier so sorry for rambling on. Celia was a good source for these too. It really was lovely to be so immersed in the wildlife that I had only read about in books before and the kookaburra took me back to my Girl Guide days when we sang the song about the 'kookaburra sitting in the old gum tree...' I feel warm thinking about the weather which is great as it is cold in London today. Nothing this week to compare to now.
6 February - You can tell that I have had a dreary few days, I am writing a load of drivel, maybe it’s time to move on. Feels like a two week package holiday, you eventually have enough of the same kind of living and want a change. The coming week will be a refreshing break. Much cooler today, 24 degrees. It was a Shae day, picked her up at Adrian's. He has a nice house, but could do so much more inside. Adrian wanted to snooze so would not have been much fun hanging around the house. Spent the afternoon trying to keep Shae amused.
Tired today so glad for a rest. Finished the famous Chilli for tea. My music still makes me cry a little. I associate each record with different things. I really feel in the need of a cuddle tonight.
A tip for the bachelor pad. Keep one fridge by the bed so that you can stretch over for a beer and the other under the TV, so you don’t have to move far for beer whilst a movie is on.
7 February - It definitely rained today. We got up early and headed off for Albany, approx 545kms from home on the highway. Four hours going along a straight road, it did have the odd bend in it, but we did not have to turn off once. Stopped off at Kojonup for lunch. I could quite easily have nodded off, the scenery was so boring and samey. The weather turned nice once we arrived, however, the two olds donned trousers and sweat tops, it was fairly cool, yes, but cold, no way. Saw a bunch of pelicans by the shore. It would have been good to have seen just one, but ten, it was wonderful. Had a look at the Amity, replica of a ship landed in 1826, by Major Edmund Lockyer, really quite a small and flimsy, considering the strength of the sea, the Residency Museum, depicting sea life, wildlife and the history of the area and the Old Gasle Museum, again very nautical. Middleton beach - beautiful soft sand with calm waters to bathe in, a well-adapted seaside town. Would not get too hot in this part of WA. An old town on the whole unspoiled. Dog Rock - bit of a let-down tourist attraction. At one angle the rock resembles the shape of a dogs head. It just rests along the street side, if you did not know it was there you would miss it. Hoping for some spectacular scenery tomorrow. I remember likening the houses to holiday villas, well the place we are staying in is definitely how I remember some of the chalets we used to stay in, very 60's.
8 February - Two weeks, and a hectic two weeks at that. Seems like I have been away for ages, can’t imagine how the next 7½ months will go. Maybe once I am out on my own it will go quicker. R & C have crammed a lot in, although up to now distances travelled have been minimal. Feel very tired, I will never have the strength to work again, I must try to keep my mind active. Off to the rugged coast line to the tourist attractions. First, Mount Clarence, not too much of a trawl to the top. You have an all-round view of Albany town, the Southern Ocean, the highway leading to the town and the main of the coastline. Situated on the mount is a bronze statue of the Desert Corps Memorial, shipped from Port Said, Egypt. This is only a replica, the original can be found in one of Albany's museums. Commemorates the War 1916-18. The coast line forms part of a national park to protect its natural beauty. With the main of attractions you will never find them swamped with visitors, thus enabling you to have a leisurely look. The Gap, a massive recess in the cliff side. On a fierce day waves can thunder up over the sides. Spectacular rock formations, but also extremely dangerous. Safety barriers are there for protection. The Bridge, a horizontal column of rock that forms a bridge across one section of the cliffs. Again, a stupid thing to want to climb down too close, the waves swell up so far, one freak wash and you go into the water. Just as magnificent from a distance. Observe the rules and a happy holiday is had by all. Blow holes - was not sure quite what to expect. These are fissures in the rocks which form holes into the caves underneath. The sea rushes into the caves with such a force that the pressure forces a blast of air up through the cracks and equally sucks air back through by force. Occasionally the sea splashes up through, today we could only see some spray. The sea in this area is made up of the most pretty blues and dazzling surf. The Whale Station, now thankfully dormant, is a museum, $5 to look around, only worth looking around if you are interested in yet more nautical history. The whaling stopped here in the 1970's, not so long ago. Easy to imagine the boats bringing in their catch to be butchered for oil. A barbaric way to earn a living. Sharks used to swim the waters, for a tit bit or two, the blood drew them. The waters of Albany have seen many wars. The ships that carried soldiers to war set sail from the port. How peaceful they seem now. Albany is potentially a good spot for a large port, but has little in the way of industry, agricultural exports only, tourism is now the main source of income. So many beauty spots to stop and take in. We could drive the car along the sand to Emu Point, time for a nice rest watching the pelicans on the water. Pub grub for dinner, very nice, but I hate eating late. How pretty the lights of Albany look at night, set into the hillside. Am managing money ok so far, must remember to hold back $20 tax. Have to admit it was a little chilly tonight. Tip - Out on the town, hungry, can’t drive home. Go order a home delivery meal and ask the driver to take you home as well.
9 February - Mixed bag sort of day, rain, sun, chill. It is about 21 degrees and to see R & C you would think it was the middle of winter. Even now C has put the fan heater on. You can certainly pick out the tourists - shorts, t-shirts. Arrived in Pemberton mid-afternoon, via Denmark and Warpole. Stopped off at Williams Bay, a beautiful shoreline set in national park territory. A barrier of rock provides a tranquil area to bathe, the water is clearer than clear. We walked along the massive rock formations to some spectacular surf crashing in on them, did I spot Stonehenge on the horizon? A lot of shrub areas are out of bounds to replenish the foliage. Could have brought my cossie down and stayed for a while, but for C, who was freezing and doesn’t like sand anyway, or water come to think of it. The journey to Pemberton covered immense areas of forest, sections of which housed many dead trees, a bunch together look quite stunning. Some of the settlements we pass through are quite self- contained as they are miles from the next village/town. Easy to see how you can lose touch with reality. Our unit in Pemberton is a bit more upmarket than Albany. We have towels provided and soap. Went to see the Gloucester Tree, 200 feet high, used as a look out many years ago. It still is today and many more trees surround it. Pemberton has a timber industry that dates back years. Today members of the public can climb the tree to the watch tower at the top, where a little man waits for you. Wooden slats and metal rungs provide a spiral ladder up the tree side. If it were not for the metal rungs I would have gone up, possible to the top. The wooden slats were solid, but the metal was rounded and you could easily slip, with no safety net, I would not risk it, did the first ten for the camera’s sake. Ron climbed to the top six years ago, the view must be fantastic. Judging by the visitors’ book, only macho idiots have made the ascent. Bar meal again tonight, nowhere to go for an evening stroll so back to the shack. Have to admit, the Gloucester Tree is a challenge but I thought it would look more spectacular. A lot of the trees are very tall, but spindly. I thought I might see some humongously thick ones. Have to wait until Canada for that.
10 February - We found paradise today. Followed the coast back up the west to Bussleton, much warmer day, via, Nannup, Augusta, Cape Leeuwin and Margaret River. Never seem to stay long in these places. I could quite easily have stayed in some of the places all afternoon, sitting in the sun and watching the waves roll in. If I hadn’t known different I would have said we were driving through English countryside. Walked up to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. At this point the Southern and Indian Oceans meet, how cold one side seems to the other. Some high rollers coming in today. This is timber trade country, small towns who survive on trade and tourism. You need hotels in these little places because it is such a long drive to reach anywhere. We drove for miles without seeing another vehicle. New highways being constructed everywhere, seems that roads and small towns have really expanded over the last 24 years. Real estate is big business. The Jewel Cave - Ron and I went on a tour of the cave, I am glad that we did. I have never seen such wonderful stalactites and stalagmites before, doubt I shall again. Some of the formations resembled clumps of trees, in certain light you can see a whole forest. A lot of formations were 1000's of years old and no one was allowed to touch anything, so as not to disturb any progress the tites and mites might be at. The cave has a natural skylight, which is covered with a door now, so that dust etc from outside does not spoil inside. Even people breathing and particles from the clothes we wear can affect the colour, formation etc, of the calcite columns. A very worthwhile tour that I shall never forget with stalactites, mites, straws, corals, cauliflower formations, calcite flow rocks. Margaret River for lunch, a very tranquil spot in the sun. Saw the Blackwood River, which is big news at the moment. An Algae bloom is forming and polluting the river. An awful lot of wine is produced around the Margaret River area. At the mouth of the river, at Margaret River, is a fantastic bay, a spot where championship surfing is done. I doubt the wind ever stops blowing here, the surf is an amazing sight. Today the water was full of windsurfers, very skilled ones. I could have watched them for hours, it was quite fascinating. Nothing else but sand and sea, no tea rooms, souvenirs, nothing. The Ozzies don’t seem to need any accessories to enjoy themselves. And so the Bussleton, quite a big town, and very seasidey. Walked along to the 700m pier, part of which was blown away a few years ago by a cyclone, now rebuilt with conrete and reinforced all along. A section right at the end is still to be treated, it looked very wonky, makes a nice stroll on a summer day. Very breezy today, wouldn’t trust it on a gale force day, it is not very wide and only has a safety rail on one side. Dirty stop outs that we are, stayed out until eight o’clock, nice dinner though. If it is warm first thing tomorrow, I might take a dip in the motel pool. By the way it is the 'Paradise Motel'.
11 February - Back on the trail home today and never gladder, it has been so hot, and in a car, just couldn’t handle it. Came via Bunbury, Harvey and Mandurah. No time for a dip anywhere except Singleton, too tired and drawn by then. Too late to see the dolphins in the bay at Bunbury, they come in at certain times each day, those who are fortunate enough to see them, feed them. The Greenpeace people are up in arms about it as they say that the dolphins will get too used to it and could damage their survival in the ocean. A complex is being built, so soon the place will simply become a money making venture, as per usual. Next stop was a large construction area at Dawesville. A massive estuary is being dug through from the sea to the Harvey Estuary. There has been a massive growth of Algae in the existing estuary and it is felt that a rush from the sea may clear the area and solve the problem. However, there is one problem that I can see. The surrounding area is being developed into housing, hotel, golf course, quite a complex. Don’t they realise that by clearing one sort of pollution another strain is being created......by human greed.
Australia is a relatively undeveloped country (well W.A. at least) and there has been a sudden rush to build everywhere. Soon overpopulation will come. And it isn’t just Australia, it is all over the world. Anywhere that we head for on vacation suddenly booms and the whole culture of a country is swamped. Not that white Australians have any real culture of their own, it is all imported and thus the same as any other western developed country. The Aborigines have culture, but the white man has made sure that he has taken the best parts for himself and left the natives to struggle. Celia said to me, after I tried to defend the Aborigines, by saying, that this was originally their land that has been taken from them, -
"but before them the land belonged to the animals." I found that comment very sad, not a very strong argument at all. There is plenty of land here, but the only real habitable areas are around the edges and before long there will be no natural vegetation left, because of the people who wave 1000's of dollars in the air and say, "I want this so I'm going to have it", regardless. The Aborigines have more respect for the land than any race I know. They build their lives around nature and understand it, unlike today’s white man who simply expect nature to live around them. The Aborigines are expected to abide by government rules and fit into the community, but how can they when the racists don’t want them and why should they when they know what is best. I was told that I would return home a different person and already my attitude has changed over a lot of things.
Visited a National Trust house in Wannerup, 150 years old. The Layman family lived here. A lovely house built of wood with a veranda all around. Made to last and not in a perfect way, the erraticness of the veranda was quite charming. Two buildings in all, one for general living/eating/sleeping and one for domestic purposes, cooking/laundry etc. Blacksmith, stables, barn. A self contained family life. Implements that were used as recently as 1940/50, just around the corner. Furnishings were beautifully made and made to last. Oh, to live again! how cruel time can be, and how sad for our children. The lady who works there was very interesting and a clever historian. I had a chuckle at one point. On one of the walls in the house was a picture of Salisbury Cathedral.
I am a day behind with writing this so may miss a few details. Went to Sizzlers for evening meal, it’s an American import. We spent too long travelling and I just wanted to flake out.
12 February - Hot, hot day, went to Toodjay to see some people. My patience with these ex pat, WA's has hit boiling point today. I want to move on and meet some real Ozzies. I am never impressed with people who try to impress, whilst at the same time try to degrade all that it is I am. I never came away to see how well ex pats have managed, I came to see the sights, to see some culture and in WA, unless you travel northwards, you will not get it. The majority of immigrants were given W.A. to live in, it the forgotten state. I wonder why! They get around it by saying that it is the best kept secret in the world, well I don’t want to share your secret and I certainly will not spread it. What a difference my opinion has taken on since the start of my trip. Judy and Allan have bought a small holding and it is quite a project to take on, however, Allan does not know the land, his veggies, fruit trees etc never came to be. They have moved around a lot and have now possibly settled for good. Tried to spot some kangaroos in the hills, there were two or three, but could only see through binoculars. Still, my first sighting of live ones.
Desperately wanted to catch up with my writing last night, but Celia interrupted and it was eleven o’clock before we knew it.
Current day thoughts
If I never mentioned it before, Adrian is Ron and Celia’s son and Shae is his daughter, she was 2 at the time.
I guess we are all hypocrites to a certain point. Life evolves and becomes about the survival of the fittest, it always has been that way. Plant life evolved to animals, animals to humans and everything on this earth was given so as to adapt and survive. We all live in homes that were once fields or woodland. We are all concerned about the future of wildlife but to what cost to humankind, we have to survive too, but the more we are given the more we take without any thought as to how it came to be. When I visit a country for the first time I always have a romantic picture of that country in my head of how I want it to be, derived from movies or historical cultural reference, but when I get there I find a mismatch of culture that doesn’t quite hit the mark, and the reason is partly because of the likes of me visiting the country in the first place. Every country tries to accommodate the tourists and once they do that the whole beauty of the place is destroyed. Old cultural practices are found either in museums, or specially laid on shows because the natives don’t really live that way anymore, they live in the society that has evolved around them in order to survive. Greed is everywhere. Greed is creating a world that one day may destroy us.
13 February - Sunday - day of rest. I have calmed down a bit now. Was up at 9am
but didn’t show my face until 12 noon. Finished off yesterday’s diary in peace
and quiet. Managed to pack most of my stuff into the rucksack, think I have it
well balanced out. Just want to be left alone today. Had breakfast for lunch.
It is cooler today, but I feel restless. Walked into Armadale this afternoon,
thought I would never reach it. I wanted to check out opening times for banks
in case I couldn’t get any change for tomorrow. Bought an Ice cream and drink
and settled in the park. Hardly anyone around except this weird looking guy
with a bull terrier. He parked himself quite near to me so I walked back home.
Adrian and Shae were there so that was the end of my quiet day. They stayed for
tea an soon went, Shae was getting moody. I will probably never see her again.
An evening of sitting in front of the TV, which, of course,
the Ozzies never do, but which everyone seems to be doing tonight. Ask anyone
outside of this continent to name an entertainer, or even better, a handful of
Ozzie entertainers and I bet only a couple will come out. Why, because the
Ozzies want to keep what they have and not share with the rest of the world. They
are getting a bit paranoid about losing anything of their own, they could
freeze themselves out. Somebody wrote in to a TV station and said, 'I came out
to Australia 30 yrs ago and returned to Britain in 1980 and was shocked to know
that it was not the same England’ that she once knew. ‘If Australia was not
careful it could be heading the same way by letting foreigners in.' Was she not
a foreigner herself? Where do these people come from. Enough whinging, I want
to enjoy my last day.
14 February - A day for getting sorted. I knew R & C
would not want any money for my stay, swines, will have to buy something extra
to put with the frame. Went into Perth
to sort some things out. Booked into the hostel in Adelaide, paid on credit
card. Wandered and wandered around the arcades, I find them all a bit too much
and I couldn’t find what I wanted. Did have a rest for lunch. Finally found
what I wanted in a shop that I had passed a thousand times and didn’t think to
go in. Glad that it wasn’t too hot. Felt bad about not going around to see
Celia's mum and dad, I did want to but the time just went. She did phone me
tonight though, what a nice lady, she can’t see any wrong in anyone. Not
feeling sad about moving on, not sure how I really feel, a touch excited,
nervous, who knows. I feel more confident after going into town on my own. Try to blend in that’s the trick, you will
not get noticed. Popped over to Muriel and Colin’s to say goodbye. Had a trial
run with the rucksack, hanging a bit on the bum but guess I'll get used to it.
I will have to do some more exercises to keep my strength up. The presents can
wait until tomorrow. To bed early tonight.
15 February - On the road for real now, can’t believe it. I
didn’t sleep too well, maybe a little anxious. Up at 04:45hrs, stocked up with
a good breakfast. Nearly cried at the thought of having to say goodbye again,
feels like leaving family. After a little confusion and a less traumatic
farewell than I imagined, the coach was away.
Travelled the early part of the morning through Northam to
Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. The small settlements seem like ghost towns, but
always with a hotel to rest the weary traveller before Nullabor. We put down
ourselves to water, much of the journey takes us through scrub land until we
reach Kalgoorlie, for miles it seems. A film kills a couple of hours. My
companion on this journey is a pleasant lady from Holland. She decided in her
retirement to make the most of her time left, and travel. She always travels
alone. I guess her husband has passed on or something. She has children back
home. It seems that her travels have taken her far - Thailand, Malaysia,
Indonesia, Venezuela, Australia, (her brother lives here), and Europe. Two or
so months at a time. It goes to show that you are never too young to travel.
Many friends can be met on the way and it would appear that the female will no
longer be trodden on. However, one can still never be too careful. I notice
that the youth hostels check to see if you are travelling alone and at what
time you intend to reach the hostel. With so many on the same journey it makes
you feel reassured. Kalgoorlie, a much larger town....(stop press - I have just
seen my first live kangaroo hopping over the road).....than I imagined. Twinned
with a once fending town, it is now called Kalgoorlie Boulder. Together with
Coolgardie, the region is known as the Eastern Goldfields of W.A. There is
still a lot of gold lost in them thar hills (or flats) of Australia. Mining is
still the employer of this town. Many fabulous buildings built around the turn
of the century. First pioneered in the 1890's, the town thrives and many mining
attractions would make this a worthwhile stopover. Alas, we only dropped a few
off and we were on our way.
I almost forgot to mention just out of Perth we made an
unscheduled stop, at the police' request. An undesirable character was
frog-marched off the bus, donned in his disguise and whisked away. Seems he
decided to take a break instead of attending his own court appearance.
If this is the start of the Nullabor, then I can’t
understand why people say that there is nothing to see. The erratic wooded area
is one of the most beautiful I have seen. Small Red Gums with floret tops and
shrubs and bushes of all proportions mingle together in a festival of greens.
The slightest of blue grey hints every so often. This long and winding road is
the only vulgar thing passing through. Aside from the Aboriginals this is one
of the only natural things left in Oz. A film is put on to distract. Next is
Norseman, at 16:30hrs, had a most disgusting meal that I am sure I shall
regret. Also on our coach are a few would be hippies who literally love to feel
the earth beneath their feet. Judging from their attire I guess they are the
sort who are out to experience a non-claustrophobic environment, one where
freedom can conquer the system for just a little while. I may have a back pack
but I realise that I am not a true backpacker of today’s standards. Maybe it is
my age catching me out, I like comfort, not slumming and sitting on the ground.
Nightfall came quickly, it is only 20:20hrs now and seems like midnight. We are
embarking on the longest stretch of road in Australia, 90 miles of Nullabor. I
can barely see the surrounding area but make out that it is roughly still the
same. Next stop is probably breakfast at Ceduna.
16 February - I lied, we did stop briefly for drinks before
bed. Not sure if I slept last night or not, couldn’t get comfy and there was
hardly any room. I think we must have travelled across the barren areas during
the night although not as sparse as I thought it would be. Breakfast in Ceduna.
Had some foul muesli. There are hardly any residents in these villages or
whatever they are called. Sat with a couple of girls at brekkie, one an Oz and
the other English. The Oz was working in Perth but got homesick and is going
home to Melbourne. She is known as the 'Bad Bird', she complains about
everything. Hates people who spend their lives whinging, she could probably
look after herself though. The girl from England lives in Sussex (west) and has
been travelling around Oz on her own. She has to go back home for a wedding,
otherwise she was going on to New Zealand. She sussed me out because of my
espadrilles, which are very scarce over here and expensive. I think the older
people are much more interesting to talk to, they have a lot to contribute. The
younger travellers, who are nice to meet, seem to walk around with heads down,
there is little eye contact and conversations are a bit samey. Where you from?
Where you been/going to? What do you think of? There are a lot of lonely people
wandering around the place with a purpose of their own. I am glad I stayed in
someone’s home, I got more of political incite of how Australia is becoming. If
I stayed on my own I would have looked at the sights, and be none the wiser,
just awe struck. 10 hours to Adelaide. I haven’t used the coach loo today, it
is dangerous place. You need strapping down for safety. If I were to do this
journey again I would stop off overnight, despite the cost, I hate not sleeping
at night. The public loos along the way provide good facilities to freshen up
after a long stretch, makes you feel better and ready to face another long
drive. Still scrub land, not so much now, a little more sparse but not how it
was described to me. I see the odd farmstead here and there, the land must be
useable, but so isolated. I am still very tired so not taking much in. Following
the long, long road to Port Augusta for a 20 min break, had lunch 2 hrs before
at Southern Cross. Areas of mining at various points. Thought we might stay a
while at Port Augusta, quite disappointed. And so the final leg to Adelaide, we
are all feeling a little irritable and some have to travel further. Braved the
loo, even worse today, splash city. Got to Adelaide 8pm, a little early, it
seems older in character than Perth and
bigger. The City of Churches.
I put my sweatshirt on, but it was warmer than I thought. A
guy pointed me in the right direction to the hostel and I started the 1/2 mile
trudge. Checked in ok although did not take much in. The room was full. One
quite sweet Japanese student who has been studying English in Brisbane for 15
weeks, she checks out tomorrow. An English lady below me who I do not know much
about, 2 Germans I think, they check out tomorrow, and 3 others who I know
nothing about. Feeling a bit disorientated so maybe sort myself out tomorrow
and get some kip.
17 February - Bed was amazingly comfortable, well anything
would be compared to the coach. The showers etc are quite clean, not bad for a
2 star hostel. A new recruit has just walked in, she sounds a bit butch. The
sleeping sheets they give are a bit hit and miss, like mummified shrouds.
Got myself together by 09:30 hrs (ish) and decided to get
breakfast on the way in to town. Had toast and a banana for only 70/80p, not
bad. Why do they always put hostels so far out of town. Eventually found my way
to the tourist bureau after stopping off at the post office and post card shop.
Glad all of these things run down the central street. Spent a while sifting
through the various tours on offer and whittled it down to a few possibles, so
came away with a fistful of leaflets and unfortunately had to come back to the
hostel. Must remember to take everything I need out with me during the day. It
does take it out of you having to walk so far, it wastes time too. I did notice
today how much my left hip hurts when I walk. In fact I ache all over
tonight. Was tempted to look around the
shops, but determined to get my bearings and my itinerary sorted first. Once I
have done that I can see about enjoying myself. I have been to so many places
and wasted time looking around shops I am determined to devote a short time to
look. Having said that the shopping malls are quite something here, you need at
least a day to get around them.
Decided on the excursion I want to go on after a lot of
humming and haaing. I know I am on budget but feel that I can treat myself. It
is never a good idea to continually keep a tally of all that you spend. A
mental note each day will suffice. You end up saving here and there anyway so
there is always a little left over.
Off to find lunch. Wanted something substantial as I do not
intend eating again today. There are a lot of reasonable places to eat if you
look, most can be found just off of the city centre. Stopped at Freddie's Bar
in Pultney Street, they had some Chinese specials for $4.00. Only one choice
left though, Chicken Curry. Oh what the hell, it’s cheap and you always get
plenty with Chinese.
Donned some leggings for the rest of the day, so it turned
warm again. Have to find the bus station to book my trip, the day is going by
so quick. Because I have my bus pass I got the trip at a discount, not bad eh!
Now do I have time to walk to the Cathedral. I am in no hurry so what the hell.
I could have planned my days so much better. Glad I went, despite my lack of
religion, it was worth it just for the statue of Mary in the Lady Chapel. Wandered
back through Elder Park via the Adelaide Oval. Never seen an international
cricket ground before, an all-seater stadium . The outfield looks small. Think
the tennis courts are along the top of the park, this must be the sporting
area, lots of activity on the water. Walked through the festival building
grounds, a very modern style building, with colourful sculptures surrounding
it. This looks like the business area of town. Came back to the hostel via the
Rundle Mall, this is a pedestrian shopping area, sorry had to have a peek. I
will tackle the shops tomorrow. Carried on past the mall down the rest of
Rundle Street, lots more shops and eating places. Quite a buzz going on in this part of town, a lot of young
people staying here. Nearly walked off the map in my excitement, lucky the
streets are on a grid pattern, soon found myself back on track.
Spent part of the evening writing cards and letters, got
tired early so went to bed 21:15hrs.
18 February - Slept really
well again. Still tired this morning, planning on a more easy going day.
Got the mail off. Hit the shopping centre to get it over
with, the Myer Centre was by far the best.
Seven levels in all. Because of the festival starting soon, there are a
lot of street performers and a show was put on in the Myer Centre, not for long
though. All of the security, you’d have thought someone special was
coming. Made my way to the top level and glad I did, this was the fun level.
Watched as a train rode the roller coaster and before you knew it I was on the
thing. You could see everyone shopping in the mall, this was my excitement for
the day. The food level was amazing as they always are. There is no going
hungry, whatever your nationality.
Promised myself I would be done looking by 14:00hrs, so found lunch. I
always look to see what servings are dished up before buying, I know when I am
getting a bargain. Made the mistake of
doing some grocery shopping, have to carry it for rest of day.
Found the Botanical Gardens, they would not look after my
bags whilst I wandered. It was hot today. I am not one for noting what plants
are, but the pleasure of just seeing them will do me. Palms, giant water
lilies, orchids, rare exotics, you name it, it was there. My leg was playing up
a bit today but I had a most pleasurable afternoon. Could have rested a bit more, but just kept
going, I don’t know why. Missed out on
the Bicentennial Conservatory , I think I may be being a bit tight with my
money. I might treat myself again with an excursion, perhaps the beach.
One of the women is here for the festival. She said a lot of
people were going to see the parade of arty farty's tonight, but think I will
give it a miss. Some of the girls looked
really tarted up, I don’t know what they are here for, but could do with some
packing advice. Just about to get started on this and this guy sat down with
his tea. He was interesting, likes to travel and often cycles around places.
Comes from London and is away for a few months like me, covering Oz, New
Zealand, Hawaii, Canada, and has already done Thailand and Hong Kong, but not
for any great length of time. He shares a lot of my views of Australia. We
talked for ages about all sorts of things, he liked my poetry very much. Got
out whilst the going was good so I could write my diary. A few chores to do
tomorrow before going out, I am looking forward to it. Almost forgot, I did my
good deed for the day, gave the sweatshirt to charity.
19 February - Started the day off well, did a
couple of chores after breakfast. My duty to hoover the stairs, quite an easy
one. Got the washing in. Will book for Alice today. Mooched around most of the morning forward
planning and checking time tables out. Thought I had better eat a snack before
Took my picnic to the south parklands, this is more of a
local sports area, quite pleasant though. Saw movement in the bushes so walked
back. I hate waiting around for things. I notice that the Melbourne hostel offers
a courtesy bus to pick you up. Backpacking doesn’t have to be so bad, the
hostels do like to take care of you. I would recommend anyone to join, you are
assured that it is a legit organisation. The bus was late, plenty of space,
only a 20 seater. I was the first on and hoped I would not be the only one.
Eight more got on at various points, a
mixed bunch to say the least, Barbara Cartland down to muck and brass. Got an
informative tour through town, so many areas I shall miss. Drove along part of
the Grand Prix circuit, passed the race course. Takes 3 months to set the G.
Prix up, one month to dismantle. The Adelaide Hills provide a most scenic
route. First stop, Mount Lofty, the highest point. Spectacular views across
Adelaide city. The whole city is massive, with suburbs sprawling each way as
far as the eye can see. There are walks to take through the hills at this point
if you have the time, sadly ours was a short stop. Next to Cleland Wildlife
Park in the conservation area. The guide lied, it said 2 1/2 hrs but we only
had 2 hrs. Saw my first Tasmanian Devil, cute little thing would not keep still
for a photo. Wasted time at the Dingo's. Now for my treat, the Koalas, they have
a lot here to share around, just had to have my photo taken with one. As one
gets tired of the camera another replaces it. My pleasure was Keegan, a 3 year
old girl koala, I could cuddle her forever, such soft contented animals. Could
be something to do with the eucalyptus leaves being fed. It is a shame that the
camera lights left a shadow, would have been nicer to have some scenery behind
us. This photo is definitely a good
memory. Would really like to see some in the real wild. The animals are fenced
in here but have acres of natural ground to live in. It was wonderful to be able
to walk amongst the geese and other wild fowl, kangaroos, wallabies, emus etc
and feed them from the hand. Rod Hull does justice to his emu, a lovely bird,
but a greedy one, glad to still have a hand. Dear kangaroos, you need glasses,
they cannot focus that well, so the food you feed them has to be right under
their noses. How gently the animals and birds (except emus), eat from your
hand. One kangaroo did not like the choice in my hand, so decided to take a
look in the bag, sorry mate it’s all the same. He turned his nose up a hopped
away. Sadly ran out of time and made it back to the coach with seconds to
spare. Came back through more scenic routes, via Piccadilly Valley and the
orchard areas, some breath-taking views.
Got dropped off outside my hostel, nice man.
Ate out tonight, a rare treat, again Pultney Street, Italian
Linguine Marinara, not bad, very filling with complementary bread - only $3.00.
Would like to walk along the coast tomorrow, I will see how it goes.
Quite boring tonight, no one to talk to, put my contribution
in the visitors’ book, wish I could read Japanese. Some people never look
further than the city centre and night life, they never see any simplistic
beauty in anything. Settled down to
crosswords and Daniel came along, so didn’t get to bed until after 23:00hrs.
Current day thoughts
I now understand the self-centred, self-sufficient nature of
Australia. Apart from Australia growing
as a country and the fact they have the climate and space to produce so much
more for themselves than smaller countries such as the UK, if you rely less on
other countries you prosper and sustain a standard of living.
It may have seemed a crazy idea to travel across Australia
via coach, and it truly was a bean can of a coach, but I feel I saw so much
more than if I had whizzed across on a train and would certainly have missed it
all on a plane. I would still recommend
travelling alone as it encourages you to talk to other people, and you get to
make your own decisions about things. True
freedom. I inspired at least one person to travel alone
to Australia, a colleague who I worked with in a GP surgery in Cornwall, she
said she would never have done anything like that, but hearing my tales gave
her the courage to go. She visited the
Gloucester Tree in Pemberton that I talked about previously,
and she climbed to the top too. If you
can make a positive change to at least one person’s life then it makes life
20 February - A still, warm day, the city seems quiet.
Decided to go to the beach, have no idea what sort of place I am going to, pot
luck I guess. Adelaide has a slightly different ticket system to Perth.
Getting the ticket from the machine is
the same, but as you get on the train the ticket has to go through a machine to
validate it. Didn’t realise it until half way through the journey, luckily the
inspector didn’t get on. Ended up at the end of the line in a place called
Grange, a quiet seaside town, very select in parts. Found the beach and walked
for a while hoping for the loos, there never are any loos by the beaches, so
downed tools put the cossie on and had a swim in the sea, so clear and calm.
Lots more people on the beaches in this part of Oz, but the beach goes on for
miles so all quite spread out. Laid in
the sun for half an hour, put the lotion on a best as I could. Set off for
another walk along the beach to see if I could reach the harbour. After an hour
I got a bit hot and bothered and it was still nowhere in sight. Had to pop back
in water during that hour for another pee, still no loos. Found some when it was too late. Sat for a
while to take in the view, lots of boats out today, not a cloud in the sky.
Went back to the loos to change, I was almost dry, no doors on the loos or
paper. Took a chance, good job too, I am getting worried about my urination
habits. Must have walked miles, took ages to get back to the train stop. Had no
idea what time it would come along, luckily only 10 minutes to wait. Back in
the city, seems it doesn’t sleep on Sundays, shops open all day, maybe because
of the festival, lots of street shows on. Had the chefs special for lunch,
followed by a hot fudge sundae, Mmmmmmmm!
Found out back at the hostel that I burned in places on my back, will
hold back on the sunning for a while. Quiet evening writing and listening to
music. The regular gang have gone. Got myself ready for tomorrow.
21 February - This has been a long day, had to
give my bed up first thing, so have just been playing for time. Managed to do
all of the important bits in good time, the exchange rate is up slightly, but
still poor. Got the souvenirs thank god. There are a lack of good souvenir
shops in Adelaide.
Walked around the S.A. Museum this afternoon and also the
Art Gallery. The good thing about Australia is the fact that most things are
free, and I could drop my bags at the reception to save lugging them around.
One or two good modern paintings in the gallery, rest were quite boring,
although some very well done. A lot of British/Ozzie artists around. The museum
was not what I expected, more worldwide things, animals, culture and stuff. One
of the better parts was a working bee hive they have set up inside. The bees
have an exit to outside, they looked very busy today, my sun burn is playing
Spent the last part of the afternoon in the Youth Hostel, my
things are safe in storage. Chatted with a couple of women, seems the Grimsby
lass is concerned about going home to no job. She was made redundant a while
ago. I think like me she has come away to muse over her future, as well as
having a good time. The last thing on my mind is what will happen when I get
home. I feel free and more confident about life now. Turns out that she leaves
today, may be on the same coach, one of the guys to. Can’t even imagine how hot
it will be at Alice.
The coach is late leaving. More comfy than the last one,
just. Tried to sleep to Port Augusta as had done the journey before.
22 February - It was a beautiful star lit night, makes me
think of the Aboriginals 'Dream Time'. I learned a bit more yesterday, how
rocks and river and stars etc became their myths and legends. It is 06:00hrs
now and we are dropping people off at Coober Peedy, looks like I have a seat to
myself now. Glad for the seat to myself now.
Didn’t plan my trip stay in Alice Springs that well, because
it was an overnight trip (17 hours), I would get there on the Tuesday and leave
on the Wednesday, so arranged an extra night in Alice Springs, thus leaving on
the Thursday. However, I decided on the
way up that I just had to go and see Ayres Rock as I was so close (just 6 hours
from Alice). I could not find a tour
that would fit in with my times up there, so left it in the hands of my bus
operators. I had one day left to use on
my Aussie Pass, so after one afternoon/evening in Alice (not that good a
place), I left Alice the following morning for Ayres Rock.
23 February - The afternoon we went to see the Olgas, a
mountain range nearby and in the evening stood and watched the sun go down on
Ayres Rock, however a cloud got in the way so it was not very good. I was just amazed that I was standing there looking
at the rock, it is quite spectacular, more impressive from a distance.
24 February - Spent the night at the Ayres Rock resort and
got up for 7am the next day to climb the rock.
I got so far and lost my bottle, my shoes did not have enough grip and
the surface is quite smooth, so sat with many others to wait for those heroes
to come back down. Takes approximately 1
hour up, 1 hour down. So many have died
from accidents. The climb was followed
by a tour around the base of the rock.
At 2pm the same day I caught my bus back to Adelaide. I am so glad that I saw Ayres Rock, never
forget it as long as I live.
25 February - Did some washing today, so hope it dries in
time for my trip to Melbourne tomorrow (7.30am). Quite enjoying travelling around, you meet
people in one place and catch them up again in another. By the way, I did not have to pay any extra
for the Ayres Rock tour, only overnight accommodation. I have some leaflets and things that I may
send home to save space. The weather up
north was unbearable, it was pointless showering because the sweat would not go
away. Much cooler here today, only 24
centigrade, bliss. Will not bother going
anywhere, I will stay at the hostel and rearrange my rucksack for
tomorrow. Australia is not a bad place,
feel quite at ease here and everyone is very protective of tourists. Am looking forward to Canada more I think. I do not get much time to really relax from
dashing around seeing it all. By the
time I have written up my diary it is bedtime.
Having a good time but do get lonely sometimes and doing a lot of
thinking. Feels like time is flying by
but it is only five weeks.
February - Trip to Melbourne approximately 12 hours, so would have arrived in
Melbourne around 7.00pm. Because of time
difference, Melbourne is 30 minutes ahead of Adelaide. Don’t remember a lot about the journey but
was much hillier than other journeys.
I reached the YHA on Finders Street ok and looked forward to a good night’s sleep.
same ticket system on public transport is adopted worldwide now. Coming from the wilds of Wiltshire I can’t
say we were that advanced, but who knows what went on then in the big cities of
the UK. Was Australia ahead ahead of
time. I used the phrase Oz or Ozzie a
lot, suppose it should be Aussie, either way, I don’t really like the term any
more. I think my bladder habits have
improved quite a lot, although the menopausal years have been a challenge. I remember developing a system on the beaches
for when toilets were not available. I
would don a large t-shirt, did a hole in the sand, kneel over it with my
t-shirt covering everything, go and then fill the hole in. Will never learn when it comes to the sun,
but have learnt that a tan is not an essential part of life. I was blown away by the art that I found in
Australia. My trip cured me of buying
souvenirs for other people forever more.
Back then the hostels were really good for storing luggage if you were
going on a trip for a couple of nights.
I’m not sure of the facilities now especially when it comes to security.
I lost some of my diaries, covering the period from 22 February to 4 June. I posted a lot of leaflets with the diaries
back to the UK when I was in USA, just to save carrying them around. The envelope I posted them in made it back to
the UK minus the information I had put inside, replaced by some correspondence
addressed to a person in Wales, which I assume the arsehole who destroyed my
material wanted me to pass on. I won’t
go into the details of what the letter contained but it was not nice and I
destroyed it. So, the above entry, from 22 February to 25, as
will be the next few entries, is taken from letters/postcards that I wrote to people whilst I was away.
main attraction for Alice Springs is the springs themselves. I walked out to the site around 5pm, as it is
less hot then, by myself, which in hindsight was a really stupid thing to do as
unfortunately a lot of the Aborigines there get very drunk and who knows who is
watching you. I took an off-beat track
out in the wilds. Thankfully I arrived
safely but there was nobody else around.
The springs were very tranquil and beautiful and I was glad to have
gone. I read all the information
available and made my way back before dark.
I signed the book to say I was going, so someone would have known if I
hadn’t come back as you have to sign back in on return.
is fun but you still have chores to do – washing, grocery shopping – it’s not
all play. I still remember washing some
clothes out at Ayres Rock. The soil at
Ayres Rock is red, all red, and the clothes I washed were full of red
dust. They didn’t take long to dry but
as soon as you put them on again the red dust returned – a losing battle. It was very cold at night though. As I
mentioned I didn’t go well prepared, mainly because I didn’t know what to
expect or that I would be going to Ayres Rock.
I didn’t have a sleeping bag and managed to not end up with a sleeping
sack like everyone else, so covered myself with whatever clothing, towels I had
with me whilst in my bunk. It may have
been a massive temperature drop or the air-conditioning that was on but either
way I was freezing all night. I still
loved the experience.
27 February – 5 March
Was getting fed up with cities by the time I got to Melbourne.
Did not like Melbourne much – too crowded and I had to scrape the smog from my face at the end of each day.
I went to Philip Island on one of the days to see the Fairy Penguins parade in the evening. The penguins are only a foot tall and hundreds of them come out of the sea at night and waddle up across the beach to their burrows.
4 March – Left Melbourne – 12 hours overnight trip.
5 March – Arrived in Sydney. Unfortunately due to a little confusion David and I missed each other at the coach station, but we eventually met up at the house. Crows Nest is a nice area to live and their house is very nice too. They are renovating right through and hope to finish next year.
Current day thoughts
I don’t remember disliking Melbourne that much, I did quite a lot whilst there and had a good time. The city has a tram system which I used on occasion to get to places. I visited Philip Island as I mentioned in a letter home above. As well as seeing the penguins, which we had to wait until dark to see, I saw koalas in the wild just chilling in the trees, zonked out from all the eucalyptus leaves. Back on mainland I took a boat along the Yarra River in Melbourne to get a different perspective of the city and to learn a bit more about it. I always find it peaceful out on the water. I went on a trip out to the suburbs to the Dandenong Ranges, driving past the street where Neighbours is filmed and stopping for a spot of afternoon tea with eucalyptus tea, which the guide brewed himself, and vegemite on crackers. I visited the botanical gardens to immerse myself amongst more nature. Melbourne really wasn’t that bad. I remember it did rain very hard on one day, which gave me an excuse to try out my wet weather gear. Think I may have been the only person outside but my cagoule and waterproof trousers, together with my hiking boots, kept me dry.
David is married to Bridget, who is Celia and
Ron’s daughter. They moved to Sydney
from Western Australia to pursue their careers.
I don’t remember specifically asking to be picked up from the coach
station, just casually mentioned the time I would arrive, so didn’t expect
there to be someone to be waiting. I
waited for a while and then decided to get a taxi out to their house and then
had to wait on the doorstep until David returned. He did go out the coach station but arrived
too late to see me. Of course we had no
mobile phones then to keep in contact. I
feel a bit bad that he made a wasted journey but he’s a laid back guy and was ok about it.
6 to 12 March
7 March – Had a tour of the opera house.
10 March – Went to see an opera, ‘The Pearl Fishers’, was brilliant so will be making more of an effort to go from now on, it is more accessible to the common man nowadays.
11 March – Got in contact with a friend I used to work with as Friends Provident, he works for the same company here and has lived in Australia for about four years now. We had lunch to catch up on the gossip.
12 March – Sydney does not seem so crowded, may be because it is so big. The harbour areas are really beautiful, especially on a sunny day, I could spend all day just sitting and watching the boats to by. Weather is mixed but not stopping me from going anywhere.
Off to the Blue Mountains today, really nice, lots of waterfalls and stuff. Stopped off at Wentworth Falls for lunch, travelled onto Katoomba shortly after.
Will hopefully get to Bondi Beach and Botany Bay later in the week, the weather is supposed to pick up by Tuesday. The clocks went back last Saturday so winter is now on its way.
It is a shame Bridget and David are working all of the time, it would be nice to spend more time with them. They get home late in the evening so we don’t eat until 8.30 most nights, the day is gone by then. I’m not missing home too much, I am so busy rushing around everywhere. I do not get to hear much news of what is happening in the UK. I am meeting all sorts of people as I go about, very difficult to actually find an Australian though. Sometimes you can meet up with people at hostels that you met somewhere else, everyone has their own routes worked out.
Current day thoughts
So not much to go on for this week, but I can remember more and more as I read back on the letters I sent home. The internet is a brilliant tool for jogging my memory too, so many things I had forgotten I had done and seen.
I loved the first time I travelled across Sydney Harbour Bridge and I never stopped enjoying trip back and forth each day, it was just so stunningly beautiful. I would pick an area to visit each day and endeavour to spend the whole day in that area, getting as much as I could out of the visit.
Darling Harbour as a hive of activity, so much going on. I walked around the Chinese Garden of Friendship, a beautiful, peaceful garden which shuts out so much of the city. I feel sure I took a cruise of the harbour and would have taken it from Darling Harbour, though may be not on the same day that I first visited the area.
The Opera House was quite a source of entertainment throughout my stay in Sydney. I booked onto a tour of the Opera House, which was very interesting, it is quite a building. Often there were free lunchtime concerts by musicians, outside of the building, which I took advantage of. A nice way to fill an hour or two. On one evening I booked to see an opera. I’m not sure if this is still the case, but back then on the final night of an opera you can queue up early on the morning of the final night and get ‘standing tickets’ at a knockdown price. I got mine for $20, which I thought was pretty good. You have to wait until everyone is seated for the performance and then once the doors are closed you can either stay standing at the back or sit yourself in any vacant seats you see. I chose a seat, which was a couple of rows back from where Michael Parkinson and his wife were sitting. He didn’t recognise me though.
The Blue Mountains provided an opportunity to get out into the wilds for a day. I took the train out. I don’t remember Wentworth Falls or Katoomba but I do remember going out to Echo Point where we could see the Three Sisters rock formation. It was around this are that walked down to the base of the rain forest, so not for the faint hearted, of course it meant we had to walk back out again, but I remember how much darker it was in the rain forest with all of the vegetation blocking out the light. I didn’t think about any poisonous creatures that I may come across down there but I guess they must have been around.
exciting week really.
13 to 19 March
14 March – Lunched with my friend again
15 March - Went to Bondi Beach today and yes my nose did go red, but it has calmed down now.
17 March – I had a walk around the famous King’s Cross area today being informed that it is an ok place to go during the day, (it is the red light district). Don’t you believe I a word of it, I was propositioned from a doorway of a naughty establishment, must have been the stilettos that did it.
Can’t believe I am nearly leaving Australia. One minute I couldn’t wait and now I think I shall miss it a bit. Sydney is a very lively place.
Money is going pretty well, although I have just been very extravagant. I am treating Bridget and David to a meal tomorrow night. They have expensive tastes so shall probably spend a fortune. Will work out how well I have done tonight.
Weather is mixed here, not so warm now as winter has set in. You can’t compare the weather this side to Western Australia, this is an entire continent so regions do vary a lot.
Current day thoughts
Bondi Beach, the only beach in Australia I had ever heard of, so had to go there. It wasn’t as big as I imagined but the sand was very deep, almost as if some had been shipped in to build it up a bit. There were few people on the beach and not much activity around. Was nice to just sit for a while to say I had been there.
Botany Bay was a very peaceful place, with a simple memorial marking the spot where James Cook first landed, surrounded by parkland away from built up areas. A visitor centre provided historical information.
One thing I can say about Australia, back then at least, is that the historical sites away from the hub of town and city are not dressed up. The landmarks speak for themselves, set in beautiful natural surroundings.
There is something quite pacifying in listening to the lap of water against the shore and looking out to sea.
As I only had two days left in Australia and Bridget and David had been brilliant in putting up with me, a relative stranger, for two weeks I wanted to treat them to a meal out. We went to a Thai restaurant and then to a different place for pudding. I got to see the Sydney skyline at night which was beautiful.
Other places I visited in Sydney included The Rocks area near to the harbour bridge, which was a mix of markets and street entertainment. I think it may have been here that I visited The Museum of Contemporary Art, which featured lots of artwork from students in Sydney, a magnificent array of colour and talent, art that I have never seen before, the botanical gardens, as I love to escape to a garden when I get the opportunity and I also caught a ferry across from Sydney Harbour to Manly, which I don’t remember being too interesting. I had lunch and came back quite quickly.
Weeks 9 and 10
20 March to 2 April
20 March – Flew to Canada
Vancouver - 20 to 26 March
Had some lovely weather in Vancouver, the cherry blossoms and daffodils were all out and it was very spring like.
26 March – Went up a mountain, ticket was good value, it included a film show and a horse drawn sleigh ride. It was really pretty amongst the snow, plenty of skiing going on too.
27 – 28 March - I came to Vancouver Island, which is as big as England. I will never think twice about travel in Britain again. I would do Scotland in a day and back again no sweat. Stayed in Nanaimo for a couple of nights, small hostel and a s**!t place. One of the guys there, a South African, took me out to a coffee bar one evening, which was fun and made a nice change from staying in. A lot of people I meet think I am Australian. I didn’t think that much of the country rubbed off on me.
29 March – After Nanaimo I went down to Victoria and stayed one night. Victoria is the capital of British Columbia. I dived into a library and read up on how the Indians accepted the Europeans into the country. It is very interesting finding out how different people look towards the natives nowadays, not a lot different to the Aborigines.
30 March – I got a lift up from Victoria to a place called Chemainus froma guy at the hostel. He does relief work at the hostel. He was taking two other girls to a ferry as well. We had a good tour around with him. Chemainus is a beautiful town. Had a chocolate bunnie bought for me for Easter, but had to eat it cause it was melting. Travelling to Banff on Sunday so will buy a huge egg for myself to pig on. From there I caught a bus to Duncan. I phoned my friend Anne from Victoria and stayed at her home in Duncan. I wish I had stayed there the whole time, the area is really nice. They are having a new house built a few miles away, so we went to clamber over the timbers.
31 March – Today I went with Anne to an Indian heritage centre and had a private guided tour, it was very interesting. Unfortunately had to leave for my ferry and she had to go for a hair appointment, but it was nice to see her and to get a good night’s sleep. The ferry is running late due to the Easter weekend, but moving off now, a 1½ hour trip to the mainland. From the ferry we are passing close to islands that are in the States. Saw an orca swimming in the sea. A lot of Canadians travel to Seattle for a holiday.
I think this time travel is starting to catch up with me. I have been so tired this week, rushing to here and there, going to bed later than normal and getting up early. I have been to a lot of places but have done little in the way of touristy things. The weather has also been hot but I am told the further inland I go it will get colder. Have talked to a lot of actual Canadians lately, even been offered a job later in the year. I think Canada will provide a lot of places to simply rest and refuel myself and just look at the scenery. I am told the hostel in Edmonton is not so nice, full of wino’s or something, so may check in for a night to see if I like it and move to a hotel if not. Some of the hostels on route will be closed or have shut down so alternate means will have to be found. Would have loved to have gone whale watching but it is mainly a seasonal thing and you have to travel along way to get to the main areas.
I lost my combination lock somewhere between Sydney and Vancouver, thought I had just not put it on properly but if you look at the zipper bits on the end it looks like somebody has cut them to remove the padlock. There was nothing in there to take but that is not the point. Failing that all I can think is that the rucksack got handled roughly at the airport – (I did have three planes to board).
Being tired like I am now doesn’t make me wish I was home, but I wish I had someone to cuddle for a while. When you have loads of things see you don’t have time to think about things like that.
It is already 1st April in England, few more hours to go for us. I wonder how may jokes will be played at the hostel. I will occupy my time with hot cross buns, had some at Anne’s last night, really yummy.
May be go to Stanley Park tomorrow. Sunday my bus leaves at 6pm so I will leave the rucksack at the hostel and go to a museum close by. It is cheaper to travel by night, you save a night’s accommodation, but you miss all of the scenery. I will get to Banff at 7.30am on Monday, may have to buy some gloves and a scarf there. Hope there is snow.
1 April – Managed to buy some hot cross buns and get an Easter egg.
2 April – Stanley Park
Current day thoughts
Bridget and David took me to the airport on the 20 March to wave me off to Canada. It saddened me that Bridget really didn’t remember me or her time in the UK. She was only 5 when she left I suppose, whereas I remember her and I distinctly remember the day she left for Australia, 24 December 1969 and exchanging Christmas presents and the kiss goodbye. My best friend gone. Somebody did say to me that whilst my life carried on the same, Bridget’s changed significantly, so many new things for her to explore, so perhaps she wouldn’t remember things in the UK so much. A bit like my travelling in a way, so I understand now.
It was a bit odd going from autumn in Australia (still warm) to the spring in Canada. I crossed the International Date Line, leaving Australia at sometime late afternoon on the 20th and arriving in Canada early in the morning on the same day, so effectively I got to do real time travel and live the same day twice.
I got a taxi to my hostel, which was at Jericho Beach. It was a little ways out of town, the air just felt fresh and mountains provide the backdrop. The hostel was a little older than ones I had been used to in Australia but it was comfortable with all the facilities required.
I covered two weeks this time as I was a little short on information for week 9. Thank goodness we have the internet now to remind me of some of the things I got up to, which included:
Gastown, one of the oldest parts of Vancouver and has a steam clock, which I don't remember steaming at the time, the Capilano Suspension Bridge, out in the beautiful wilds, which can only be crossed by people and really only safely with one person at a time as it is narrow and wobbles all over the place if too many people at one time. There were some native indian totem poles and other exhibits and trails. Horseshoe Bay is where I caught the ferry to Vancouver Island, but I did spend a bit of time looking around. It really is a beautiful little town in an amazing setting. Seeing the orca in the wild was truly a sight to see. I know there is wildlife in the UK but it really isn't as spectacular as Canadian wildlife. Perhaps we just don't see enough of it or appreciate it. Grouse Mountain is where I had my sleigh ride, the closest I have gotten to Santa so far, and apart from checking downtown Vancouver out for shopping etc I escaped to Stanley Park with its beautiful gardens and nature trails. Whilst on one of my treks downtown I happened upon Leslie Neilsen doing a photo shoot in a shiny red sports car
3 April to 9 April
3 April to 8 April - I moved on to Lake Louise in the Rockies and was up to my neck in snow, which was great fun. Stayed there for five days and had a nice rest. I do not ski so apart from gong on walks there was little else to do, Lake Louise village is very small. The lake itself was covered in ice and snow, so I walked part of the way across, some were cross country skiing.
9 April – Went to Banff for three days after Lake Louise,
the scenery in this part of Canada is so beautiful, nice to have some fresh
mountain air in my lungs. The hostel in
Banff if about a mile or so out of town so had to lug my backpack up the steep
mountain road. Stopped halfway to catch my breath. The accommodation in this area is really
quite luxurious, even the hostels.
Current day thoughts
Don’t know why I put in a letter home that I would be going
to Banff after Vancouver. Maybe I
changed my mind or something, but I definitely stopped off a Lake Louise before
Banff as it followed the more logical route.
On Easter Sunday a kind person went around all of the beds
in our hostel room and placed a small chocolate egg on each pillow. A lovely gesture I thought, but nobody was
going to get their hands on my big egg, which I reserved for my onward
What a difference travelling from Vancouver to Lake Louise,
I went from beautiful spring back to winter in one day. There was thick snow on the ground. It was still ski season in these parts and
most of the people staying in the hostel were there for just that, I was the
odd one out. I have never fancied the
experience of skiing and still don’t.
My hostel was Swiss chalet style with a warm log fire, quite
fancy for a hostel really, set amongst fir trees and the mountains, just like
the movies. It was nice every so often
just to chill for a while as backpacking involves propelling yourself forwards
all the time.
Each evening every guest would congregate in the kitchen to
cook and so many people asked me how my day had gone on the slopes. It was a conversation stopper to say I wasn’t
skiing and I think some thought it odd for me to be there for anything
else. It didn’t stop me talking to
people though. I remember having a
conversation with one man who had been to the UK and found it amusing how fast
people drive cars in the UK. He said,
‘where have they got to get to in such a hurry’, in reference to there only
being very short distances between everywhere when compared to distances in
I rarely ate out and bought provisions to cook each day, it was cheaper that way. I have a vague recollection of the store in Lake Louise being very small with basic provisions.
The lake is the main attraction but, as I said previously, it
was iced over. I was a bit apprehensive
to walk on the ice, but did it anyway for the experience. The Chateau Lake Louise was the place to stay
if you could afford it, looking very impressive from the outside. I did go and have a nosey inside and used the
toilets. I don’t think I looked out of
place in my casual clothing as people were wearing all sorts of things; they
didn’t kick me out anyway. I became quite good at sneaking into posh
hotels to use the toilets.
Five days seems quite a long time to have spent at Lake Louise but I must have filled them, as I did most places I went to.
10 – 16 April
Dedicated to the memory of Margaret Spicer
10 – 11 April - Banff
11 April - Had to get to Lethbridge via Calgary, but did not
stay long; it just looked like another city to me. Went past the Calgary army base on the coach,
so guess that is where Stephen would have stayed. Alberta, (the south anyway) is ranching land,
so very flat and full of wheat fields. A
lot of different religious communities in the area, Mormons, Hederites,
Menonites, all kinds.
Most of the things in Margaret’s house are years old, she
has some modern equipment but doesn’t bother much about things. If it still works it is good enough. She is retired from work; she was a nursing
aide in a psychiatric unit. Her sister
lives nearby and they now have the house in East Knoyle that their brother
lived in before he died. The most
interesting piece of machinery is the washing machine, which I have to use to
do my clothes, must date back to the 1950s.
It is one of those agitator contraptions with the wringing section over
the top. I have a photo to prove it. It does the job but I did find it amusing.
We had a women’s luncheon to go to (very religious
ladies). I won a prize; the theme of the
evening was travel.
12 April – Went golfing with a couple of ladies, I was the
caddy. There was a pot luck supper at
the club house, every lady bakes a dish and brings it along. We had tons of food.
13 April – Five pin bowling and a tour of the hospital which
14 April – Fairly quiet, although we went over to Margaret’s
sister’s for supper. Their maiden name
was Chubb, the Mayor of Salisbury is related, he is, or was if not mayor now, a
15 April – Shopping day. I did manage to get out in the
afternoon for a walk to a local lake.
16 April – We went to a flea market and watched some
dressage competitions; Margaret used to be a keen horsewoman.
We sat is a shopping mall and sold raffle tickets for the
Diabetic Association; Margaret is a diabetic herself.
We watched a local amateur dramatic play, so have not been a
tourist yet, more of a community participant.
Current day thoughts
I would have lumped 2x weeks together again as lacking any
material for Banff, but I have quite a lot for Lethbridge so decided to just
stick to the week.
Banff was just beautiful in its mountainous setting. Again, they had a luxurious hotel, the Banff
Springs Hotel. I just happened to be desperate
for a wee as I was going by so had to pop in to use the facilities. I may have looked a little out of place here
but who cares, clearly the desk staff did not.
I remember specifically two places I visited in Banff, one
was the library where I went into archive section to read up on the Native
American Indian treaties, and the second was a mouth-watering chocolate shop
that I visited a few times to stock up on one of their delicious
offerings. From my photographs I can
see I visited the Banff hot springs themselves and there was a lot of
historical information and displays on the Native Canadian Indian tribes of the
Another place I visited was the Bow River Falls. Not spectacular in themselves but on showing
my photographs to family when I got home, Stephen produced a photograph that he
had taken of the Bow Falls a few years before stood in the exact same spot that
I had been standing in when I took mine.
Must have been a popular tourist spot for photo opportunity.
Who is Margaret I hear you asking. Margaret was a good friend from childhood to
the mother of my then boyfriend. She
emigrated to Canada; I’m not sure when, and so did her sister, Joan. I had never Margaret before so it was very
generous of her to let me stay in her home, and for so long. Sadly Margaret has since passed away. Her ashes were returned to the UK to be
scattered at a spot in East Knoyle where she grew up.
Lethbridge was quite a busy town; it has everything as it is
so far from the next big city of Calgary, which is about 140 miles away. Not a place a tourist would necessarily visit
unless there was something specific to see, so it had a very close community
spirit, or it seemed to, may be because Margaret was a part of so much going
on, and she immersed me into so much as well.
It made a nice change from my usual routine when visiting a place. Margaret and Joan had put together quite an
itinerary for me.
The day of golfing was the windiest day I have experienced,
not the best weather for playing golf, but the ladies persevered anyway. I did notice at the pot luck supper that one
or two had cheated by buying dishes to bring – KFC being one of them.
The visit to the hospital where Margaret used to work was
fascinating. It was a secure psychiatric
unit, for people with both physical and mental health disabilities, but
Margaret just breezed in with me as easy as anything. I don’t remember being signed in or
anything. The patients we stopped off to see were
happy to see Margaret. There were quite a
mix of disabilities from dementia type illness to those who have suffered brain
trauma and need 24 hour care. I can
still see the face of one patient who had tried to take her life but was found
before it was too late, however she had been starved of oxygen for too long and
now is unable to walk or do anything for herself. She could have limited conversation with people and did recognise
Margaret, but I do wonder at what she must have thought of
life then, it
certainly wasn't better
for her. I hope
she is at peace now.
Escaping from the house to discover more of Lethbridge by myself was a much needed thing to do, I went to places that Margaret wouldn't have taken me to and was able to gage the town a lot easier. You wouldn't believe there could be so much to see in this out of the way place and I still had more days to fill.