Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kokoda Track- PNG

Welcome to PNG!!
Hey hey hey...
Flying into Port Moresby
So we're back and we survived- to be honest it wasn't as full on as I was expecting, which, believe it or not is a bit disappointing considering all the bad press the Kokoda Track gets! People who die up there must so incredibly unfit, because although there were a few tough climbs that seemed to go on and on, the way we went (from owers to kokoda) got easier and easier!!  Most people tend to do it from the opposite direction... Anyway, so would I recommend it? Yes, maybe and no....  Yes if you love Australian war history, and don't mind guided tours and can handle camping for 10 days.... maybe if you say yes to any of the above... and NO if you are unfit/never bushwalked/can't handle pit toilets etc etc etc.  If you are looking for the ultimate PNG experience, I would say you're better off maybe taking a bus ride from Port Moresby and going on an overnight trip to Sogeri National park, where you can stop past the Owers corner monument to the war, and then heading off to Paradise, ie New Ireland Province/ East New Britain (yes I'm biased!) or Maybe the Sepik/Milne Bay (although I haven't been to the latter two, these are reportedly very beautiful and tourist friendly).  Anyway, here are some Kokoda pictures, and I hope you enjoy xoxox

Owers Corner, where we started the track
This Owers Corner, where we began our adventure.  We started later than the rest of the group, and the sun set quickly after I took this photo.  We ended up walking in the dark for about 2 hours before we got to the campsite on our first night, in the rain and through a river!!

Here is a map of the trek- we started from the left and kept going up and up and up...!!

Muddy boots @#$%@#$
This is a typical sort of picture, (with my lover is the foreground) where you walk down through thick jungle to a village and then make your way back up the next mountain.  The track climbs quite high, at the peak, we reached approx 2660m, which is higher than Mt Kosciusko! So while it can be quite hot and humid, due to being in the tropics, the temperature can also drop quite low, especially if it is raining or at night.  So there is a lot of huddling around fires at night time... of course this space is shared with damp/stinky boots/clothes/poles and other paraphenalia, so wasn't always the greatest space to hang out@!

Looking from Hoi village over to Kokoda airstrip- that's a cocoa tree in the foreground :)
And, YES! the jungle really is that thick in places.... so full on!
Apparently this house has sat empty for 4 years can you believe it? What a beautiful spot...! Apparently it was meant for tourists but no one has got around to completing it... ah ... that's known as PNG time for the uninitiated!!!
In this village we met an actual Fuzzy Wuzzy (an original carrier from WWII) who was apparently 105 years old!!!

Here's a picture of Ovoru Indiki Naduri, (taken from Charlie Lynn's Flickr site http://www.flickr.com/photos/adventurekokoda/3100583308/sizes/m/in/photostream/ )


Nice bridge huh : ) It was actually fun going across the rivers on these bridges, it was the end of the dry season so there wasn't really huge water flows, but I imagine at another time of year they could be quite scary with the great engineering of slippery logs and tenous rope handles that the boys put up to help the whitepela folk across...
The whole gang after the dawn service at Isurava Memorial. The Adventure Kokoda boys sang a couple of tunes and put us to shame.  It was actually really embarrassing that we mumbled along to our national anthem (with the words just in case we didn't know them) while the boys harmonised and sang with passion.  Just goes to show that a good national anthem can be inspiring whereas one that is antiqued and irrelevant like ours  does not inspire national pride!!!
Here's a psuedo family snap (Dad/Mum/Sam/So/Me/Simon) aren't we stylin!!!
Here's a gorgeous picture of my guide Winsor, and his two boys.  He lives 2 hours walk from kokoda, and got his wife and boys to walk all the way there just to meet me.  He made his younger son roll down his trousers for this photo, but I accidently cut their legs off anyway hahaha.
Here's our plane back to Port Moresby.  It was sooo random, but we actually knew the pilot from when we lived in New Ireland, what can you say it's a small world!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Matupit Volcanic Eruptions in Rabaul 1994 - a narrative

So since I'm going back to PNG in about 10 days time, I thought I'd share a story about when I lived there between 1994-1996.  So when I was 9 my parents moved me and my 3 sisters to a little town in new Ireland Province called Namatanai.  It was an amazing place to grow up and I would recommend it to anyone... we used to run wild in the jungle making proper cubby houses cos we had bush knives (like a machete or a pirate's sword I guess...I google image searched but it came up with a million pictures of george bush and swiss army knives grrr...) and could hack away at bamboo and make awesome hideouts... this is when we weren't swimming in water holes or playing soccer or volleyball with kids that lived near us...

Anyway, so New Ireland Province is next to East New Britain Province, and Rabaul was like the "big smoke" with huge markets and proper shops and actual busy roads etc... and we went for a family holiday on the September Independence weekend (when Australia decolonised PNG in 1975) and just happened to be there when the Volcanoes decided to erupt!!

So here is a totally styling picture of my family before we rowed across to climb the volcano hahahaha. I'm the ratbag in the green t-shirt.  That hat i'm wearing blew off my head down into the pit of the volcano, I was really upset my mum wouldn't let me climb down this chain thing to get it, but she wouldn't let  me because I was wearing thongs... in hindsight probably lucky we didn't go down or we could have burned our feet off or got blown away!!!

So we climed the volcano, and i remember being seriously underwhelmed, there was a little bit of stinky sulfur but other than that not very exciting at all!! Our claim to fame is that we were the last people to climb it before it erupted- how do i know this for a fact? Because we paddled across on the Sunday 18th morning from Matapit village and on the way back over the harbour, you could actually feel earthquakes in the water, and the boys who rowed the out-rigger canoes for us said they were cancelling the afternoon ones as they were worried about climibing the volcanoes when there were regular tremours.  I was really scared about the earthquakes, as they got worse all afternoon, but people who live in Rabaul are so used to them happening they just joked about it being like San Fransisco or something... Anyway there was a really really big earthquake around 1am or something on the 19th, and then around 5am in the morning, we heard all these planes fly out from Rabaul airport (EMPTY PLANES BTW), and then the volcano actually erupted around 7am in the morning.

This is a typical photo of Simpson's harbour in Rabaul, it really was a beautiful town before the eruption.
Pretty freaky huh.

 I will never ever forget the mushroom cloud that rose up above the volcano.  Anyway so we were staying with this Aussie vet and we all piled into his car and drove to some people's place that he knew I guess an hour or so out of Rabaul (can't really remember).  It was so weird though, because most people in PNG don't own cars, adn there isn't exactly public transport systems in place, so on the road out of town, there were people walking along the side of the rpad, carrying everything they could save and just walking in this long straight line.  It was a weird feeling thinking that these people might get covered in volcano ash or die there, but my parents convinced us that everyone would be ok, and i guess we believed them a bit.  Enough to not freak out anyway.  So then it rained volcanic ask for a couple of days and there were 17 of us staying in these people's house.  My Dad is a doctor, and he got called out to help people, and amazingly no one was killed from the volcano, but this old guy had a heart attack, and my dad had to pronounce him dead 3 times lol.  So here are some pictures stolen from the internet, because, of course we'd used up all our film the day we went out to climb the volcano, because we thought we were going home the next day!!!

This is a village house. notice how the ground is just ash.  Immediately after the eruption the palmtrees looked like upsidedown umbrellas because the ash was so heavy the fronds couldn't go the right way :(

Just another day in Paradise!

I didn't take this photo, this one and a couple of the others are from
I have a heap of photos that look a lot like this, but they were all taken on film, when I went back in January 2002.  I used black and white photography and colour prints for the basis of my Year 12 major work for art.  I am still sllightly obsessed with volcanoes, and i don't think that's ever going to change!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Margaret River, Western Australia

This was my first visit to Western Australia...it started off really well, because QANTAS had JAMES SQUIRE GOLDEN ALE on the plane!!!! Awesome because its my favourite beer :)  Anyway we spent a couple of weeks over on the other side of Australia, and it really does feel like being in another country (a lovely country)... it's no wonder they didn't want to become part of the federation back in the day!!

So we did a roadtrip down from Perth to Margaret River, and it was really fun, check out this amazing pier- it goes out for 2km, and there's a restaurant at the end (but we couldn't be arsed to go all the way out there so just took a photo...) How cute are seagulls until they try and eat your chips?! Pretty much all we did for the whole trip was spend all day and some of the night on the beaches around where we stayed which was the cutest old beach house ever, called the beach barnacle awwwww (http://www.beachbarnacle.com/ ) play cards, and drink copious amounts of beer.  It was my first proper holiday in ages so it was well earnt and mostly awesome (family christmas dramas aside...lol)      So now I'm just going to post all the beautiful beach photos me and Sammy took while we were there, ENJOY! x

Monday, August 9, 2010

Northern Vietnam

This was my first real foray into Asia and it is an awesome awesome crazy place!!! My sister Lulu was living in Hanoi and this was super cool because she took us to the best places while we were there- without her it may possibly have been the worst 'last' family holiday ever... and I mean EVER!

So, a bit of background- Hanoi, city of bikes, motorbikes and millions of people going around and around in circles eating really random food and trying to sell me and my other sister Soso pineapple all day long.  There are so may fun things to do there.  

Anyway, so places to go in Vietnam...

- stay in the Old Quarter- that is, if you can manage to get there! When you get off the plane, expect to be inundated with taxi drivers promising the earth... As soon as they see a sucker with a phrasebook and a map, you're pretty much fair game.  Lonely Planet advises negotiating a fee beforehand which is what we tried to do, but they took us to the wrong place on purpose anyway... I think what you may be better off doing, is booking somewhere to stay in walking distance from the lake, and asked to be dropped off at the big Westpac bank and walk from there... Anyway when you make it to hanoi city- do not stay on the outskirts, you have to stay in the Old Quarter, or close to it otherwise you'll be negotiating transport for the whole trip...there's heaps of cool bars and restaurants, also check out the war memorials and monuments to Ho Chi Minh, but don't piss off the guards because those guns are real lol.... 


- aaaaaaah see this was fun in principle, the old Junks were amazing, the islands are cool, the monkeys are creepy little mofos, you may experience rats onboard, and cycling around Catba Island is sort of fun, but to be honest I think Thailand probably does this better.... and maybe sunnier weather as well?


(I admit I didn't take the photo above, i just googled Sapa, but I wanted to show rice paddies because it was so misty mine didn't turn out properly!)

You have to go here, it is amazing.  There are traditional Vietnamese hilltribes that live around this town in villages.  We went in january, which is winter and very very cold up in the mountains, but the town itself has some gorgeous old buildings, and the mist sitting on the mountains, looking out over rice paddies to the Chinese border is something you really really have to see to believe.  Although my poor friend Carls got the runs for 3 days straight and lived on plain rice
when they stayed there, so be CAREFUL, take hand steriliser and never ever drink the water!!!! EVER!!

Monkeys are evil.  So are buffolos.  But Monkeys are WORSE. and some probably have rabies. so stay away from them!

They do eat dog in some areas of Vietnam, so if you go to a market, be prepared to see animal allsorts in pieces.  Lulu SWEARS she walked past a puppy store where you choose your dog and they cut it up fresh for you to take home and cook.  Although she did try the Snake wine so take this story with a grain of salt!

Which brings me to the next warning- don't drink Snake wine- ESPECIALLY when it is mixed with a scorpian- seriously you're just asking for trouble.  

Finally you HAVE to drink beer (only AUD50c or something crazy for a longneck) with every meal, as water isn't the cleanest, and no one wants the runs on holidays...  Also Vietnam seems to have the cheapest cocktails I've ever encountered- they work out to be AUD$3-4 or something crazy and the mojitos are to die for...

New Zealand

These photos were taken when  I went to South Island of NZ a couple of years ago.  It is seriously as beautiful as you imagine it will be... When we went it wasn't long after the Lord of the Rings had been out, and everywhere you went it was like being in the films, you seriously expect elves to be spying on you and Tom Bombadil to be popping out of his forest... I loved loved loved this holiday, and would recommend it to anyone, particularly if you don't mind hiking in the mountains. If you get the chance, go to Arthurs Pass for a hike, it is beyond anything, the mountains are so beautiful and isolated, and you can even see glaciers nestled between the ridges.  Also the Fox glacier was incredible, as was Wanaka, Queenstown and the Hollyford Track (near Milford Sound).  The only place I would say don't bother with, due to everyone I met there, because they are a bunch of inbred small town hicks,  is Grey Mouth on the westcoast it was AWFUL!!!!