Around Australia – Part 1 Extended Mix

This is the original 30 page+ rough (un)edit of the first email from Australia. I edited it down a lot before I sent it but in true KT style I of course kept the original (well, I wasn’t going to write it all again, was I?).

It is rough, there is some repetition and unfinished material and it goes on forever, but at least you been warned…

About this email
Some pre-amble to get out of the way. First off, this is a group email. It
is going to many people. Sometimes I send these things out and I get the
impression from the reply that some people get it and say “Look! An email
for ME! Kevin spent 20 hours doing an email for ME! He shouldn’t have done
this for ME!”. I didn’t. You don’t think that Chris Martin warbles about
everything being yellow just for YOU, do you? God only knows why he does it.

I’m doing this in several versions. This is the full version for people that
know me and that I think can handle it. It is big. It contains lots of
swearing, and all sorts of personal analysis stuff. It’s also full self
indulgent nonsense, as well as the usual wit and flair. If you want another
version, just ask. If I like you, I’ll send it to you.

If you really don’t want to sit through it all, then just read ‘Contacting
me’ and ‘In a nutshell’ and ‘Highlights’. You’re missing out though…

The reason I’m putting those silly little stars into the swearing is because
some people’s email systems censor emails for some reason. Actually, it’s
the NTL mail sever, so a few of you know who I’m referring to here.

If Englitski isn’t your strong point, then I’m sorry if you find this hard
going – I know how you feel; keep a dictionary and patience handy. The other
option is to do what young Pavel does, which is shout and swear a lot and
hit the monitor, which apparently helps a lot.

Contacting me
Yes, I’m back and I’m contactable once again after two months of isolation.
I’ll be checking my email reasonably regularly, so please do email me with
all your stories of what I’m missing back home (quite a bit, it seems) and
make me feel all homesick which is a lovely feeling. If you’re feeling
particularly adventurous, you can txt me or call me; if you get a call card
then it actually might cost you less than making a mobile call back home,
believe it or not.

Oz: +61 40 499 6709

So, contact welcome, very much so. If you want to call landline to landline,
just txt me and I’ll let you know what the nearset number is.

Incidentally, I’m a little suspicious about the reliability of my email system, although it seems to be ok. I think it gets
filtered as spam by some people’s accounts, but then again that’s hardly
surprising, given my track record.

In a nutshell
Because I know what questions some people want the quick answers to, and in
fact might not even read the rest once they know this (but go on, do it

Where am I now?
I’m in Perth. It is apparently The Remotest City In The World. It’s not
particularly interesting.

What’s been the best thing so far?
Hmm, difficult choice. Possibly the Easyrider bus from Coral bay to
Kalbarri, but WWOOFing has been great too. And there was that other time,

Worst thing?
Aw man, that would have to be that Wednesday, hangover, Doctor says ear is
stuffed, threw up, and then… Aw man. F*cking fantastic.

Do I want to go home?
Sure. Australia has defined for me very nicely all the reasons for being
home. Yes, I would like to go home but it’s not time yet.

When am I coming back?
*sigh* Ok, if I f*ck up here, let’s say I kill someone or get fatally
injured while wrestling a koala or something, then January. If all goes
well, then between March and June. If it goes fantastically well, then

Did I get a root?
Read the bloody email.

Top 5 Best Stuff
Yes, the bestest things in this trip so far!

1 – Easyrider between Coral Bay and Kalbarri; mayhem, anarchy
and girls – this is what holidays are all about!

2 – Joint winners:
Kalbarri; which had lots of entertainment, bossy German girls,
WWOOFing and everything, and
Pelican Feeding; also in Kalbarri, which was fantastic fun and also
the best value activity in WA because it is free!

3 – WWOOFing; bloody brilliant idea, and gave me insights into
Australian life and all sorts of stuff, such as babies and tea!

4 – Broome; great place, you just go there and stay because
why not. It’s fantastic!

5 – Coral Bay; you too can pretend to stranded on an island,
just like Tom Hanks in Beached or whatever it was called!

Top 5 Worst Stuff
The worstest stuff ever! Poohole.

1 – Wednesday 8th October; a black day for mankind. Lest
we forget. The hangover cometh.

2 – Failed dive medical; another black day. Ear apparently not
good at all, at all. Practically a disabled person.

3 – A tie between:
Turquoise bay Snorkel; leaky mask, didn’t see much, poo.
Hollywood Homocides; for crying out loud, Harrison!

4 – Sunday 21st September; well, I don’t know. Just a career
low. All mopey.

5 – Sand in the camera; Bit stuck for low points here, but
anyhow. Camera covered in sand. Not end of the world.


What’s happening right now
I’m writing an email! Ha ha. Very clever. What I’m doing is tying up loose
ends, re-establishing contact with the civilised world, organising where I
go from here and all the rest of it. I got myself a mobile, I got a bank
account, and now I’ve more or less made my mind up at this stage as to what
I’m doing next (which is working, but not here).

There’s not very much to do here in Perth. It’s a generic modern city,
almost as if you could get one of these from a catalogue, which is to say it
has everything that you would expect to find from a checklist of some sort
for modern cities, but somehow lacking in charm or personality. It has a
great asian ‘Chinatown’ area with great takeout, and a huge shopping mall
area, but I don’t really have much money to spend so the less I see of that
the better. Going out here seems to consist of getting drunk, avoiding
getting into a fight with the locals who stagger around the bars with glazed
and slightly violent expressions, and trying to get a root. Well, it’s a
life I guess.

It’s very multicultural in so far as there are people from everywhere in the
world here. As well as Western Europeans, there are Asians, Indians, West
Africans and Native Australians. That makes it more interesting in some ways
but doesn’t take away from the temporary and disconcerting feel of
newly-made designer perfection. I think I would have to be here for a while
before I could establish if the shallowness is more than skin-deep.

I’ve been kind of hanging out with some groups of guys and girls, but not
really; more on me and groups later, I guess I just haven’t been making the

I haven’t been to neighbouring Fremantle yet, but I should really do that
before I leave. It’s apparently quite nice.

What people sent me
Two months, no email! For me, that’s quite a bit of abstinence, because as
you all know, I am rarely without my email. In fact, before I started taking
work particularly seriously and actually started doing some of the things
that Keith and Kenny asked me to do, I used to be a real email fiend,
checking and sending roughly every 50 seconds. So, I thought it good to give
it a rest. More on that later on.

I got some emails from people I met enroute, which was good. But of course,
they knew not to expect too much from me in reply.

I got a huge (and very welcome) shock in Broome after I’d been in Australia
for a couple of weeks, because I had to check for an email with an address
to send a card to. And I found a big set of emails from people I met on my
last trip, that to be honest I had no idea if I would ever hear from again.
So a big hand for Rommert, Adam, Annika, Jeremy, Rostislav, Ramona, Lukas,
Michal, Oana and Rik. Guys, that nearly brought a tear to my eye, especially
when I needed some encouragement. Thanks again.

Brendan is engaged, I believe, so congratulations Brendan! Sorry I missed
the drinks. Dylan got a new hairstyle, looks very fine. Neil is having lots
of sex, and I even have reason to believe that someone else is involved.
That reminds me that I once got Kris Kindle gift of an inflatable doll from
Denise, which I like to believe is now up in Coleraine, assisting in the
domination of the world via the Internet as a sort of hot-air Terminator, a
Kristanna Loken with a gasket if you will. Denise herself claims there’s not
much going on, though I think she might be lying. And Michaela of course,
reminding me how much everyone back home is missing me, just in case I got
the idea into my head of staying here any longer.

There was some more, though Daragh and Mary seem to have given up on
assaulting my inBox with jokes and attachments, probably because of my witty
auto-response message.

Thanks to all the people who responded to my ‘I’m going away and not
checking my email’ message – I even got some of those before I stopped
checking so thank you very much, and the various dictionary and phrasebook
emails were very entertaining, albeit somewhat useless ;-)

Top 5 Best Buys
The very bestest in holiday purchases!

1 – Penknife; after 5 months still in the top spot! It’s the bestest
thing in world ever!

2 – Shorts; My fantastic Alien Workshop shorts from Darwin!
Bloody brilliant shorts!

3 – Joint winners:
Banrock Station wine; nectar of the Gods!
Columbia walking shoes; walk up walls, survive nuclear fallout!

4 – iPod; ok, I didn’t exactly buy it. It’s from my sponsors at
Parallel. But, you know, all my music, ever, all in one place!

5 – Joint winners, again!:
Sunglasses by Polaroid; look like an extra from the Matrix, defy
the evil rays of the sun!
Sleeping bag; soft and yet rip-proof, tiny and yet huge, the
envy of dwarven-kind everywhere!

Top 5 Worst Buys
The worst deals ever. Just for weiners.

1 – Radioshack clock; a winner because it is the clock of losers.

2 – Zippo lighter; looks great, doesn’t actually work. Poohole.

3 – Sandals; Once again, a persistent contender. Stretched. Too
big now. Noisy. Smelly. And expensive.

4 – iPod; ok, I didn’t exactly buy it. It’s from my sponsors at
Parallel. Needs babysitting. One charge lasts 5 minutes. Full of
fantastic music which reminds me of home. Everyone wants to
touch it. Entertains crowds. I’m jealous. Poohole.

5 – Camera; It’s big. It’s smart. It gets covered in sand. It does
spontaneous like Colin Farrel does delicate. I need small.


The Ramble
If you’re in a hurry, then skip this, but it’s probably the most interesting

So, what is there to say about the epic Kevin in Australia? Some of you have
gotten the ‘Out of Australia’ film review by now (if you haven’t, and you
want it, just ask) which really sums it all up very neatly, if bizarrely.

I actually have a new name out here. Now, as some of you are vaguely aware,
I instigated a campaign at the start of the year to encourage people to call
me Kevin, because that’s part of the new, more mature, more serious me (and
of course that is also why my online MSN Messenger name is “A swimming pool
for Bray”. It’s a serious issue in Bray, see?). I can however be provoked to
a hulk-like rage by calling me by a number of names which although I might
conceivably tolerate in the heat of passion, IF AND ONLY IF the woman
involved is astoundlingly attractive and I really incredibly love her
dearly, but are otherwise completely off-limits such as ‘Kevski’,
‘Kevster’, ‘Keverooni’, ‘Kevvo’, and even ‘Kevvi’ (which is popular with the
Czechs, for reasons that escape me). I mean, how many more ways are there to
desecrate someone’s soul? But the Australians came up with a new one. I’m
now Kivin Tilja. Think about it. It’s certainly novel.

The self-discovery aspect of the trip has come up trumps with a couple of
gems which were certainly worth the many millions I’ve spent on coming out
here, and they are these: Babies, and Turbo Kev (for want of a better term -
I like Kev Prime too). Babies was a big thing for me, and more on that
later. But it’s nice to realise I’ve come to a point where I’ve matured
enough to appreciate that maybe there are things coming my way in good time
which make it all worth it. Mom and Dad, fear not, you are not grandparents.
As for TurboKev, once again I will say more later – but it’s basically about
discovering another side to me, about the being the confident, forceful,
social force which I had hoped I might be able to be. That means of course
that I’ve had even more personality changes than after That Other Trip (I
think so, but it’s all relative). I’m still the same friendly bundle of fun


The ‘diary’, my little black book, not entirely unlike me, isn’t seeing a
lot of action at the moment. This is because I’m just not very interested in
recording everything, I just want to try and experience it all, and perhaps,
just maybe, a bit of laziness or procrastination. I was using it less to
actually record day to day stuff, more like thoughts, feelings and a set of
very bizarre short stories which I might unleash on some of you later on.
But feel bad because I should have the discipline to keep working at it
until it becomes second nature to record those thoughts and ideas.

The Blue Book, my infamous ‘second brain’, is seeing a lot of action. In
fact, maybe some of the stuff I was doing in the black book is now happening
there, and I’m getting people to write in it too which is having interesting
results. There’s also some maps of England and Germany, and an ‘Irish view
of Europe’ map which some of you will doubtless find very offensive. I think
it’s funny.

That brings me neatly to something else; It’s great out here. It really is.
But I’m realising more and more that I’m on the other side of the world in a
place where the most profound thing you can say about it is that is very
big, and very hot, and there are lots of nasty little animals here. It is,
however, nowhere near as interesting as for example, England. I’ve been
living Ireland for thirty years, and only occasionally visit this big and
interesting place that is only half an hour and maybe up to eu40 away from
Dublin, and now I’m here in Australia which has cost me thousands so far
(yeah, I was exaggerating about it costing me millions) and is a massive
time commitment and is still only a fraction as interesting as England with
all it’s cultures and history and people. Even Ireland! I’ve neglected the
country I live in; I’m meeting people here, Germans for example, who have
seen more of Ireland than I have!

So, basically I feel a bit stupid about being out here when there is so much
more closer to home that needs exploring, and that is Ireland, The
Netherlands, England, Spain, Germany, Moldova, India (because Connor reckons
that’s where I’ll really start to see stuff), and in case I missed it,
England. And perhaps Scotland, once I get a wetsuit. There is just a lot
that I’ve taken for granted out here. This is something that Caroline said
to me when she came back from her trip to Australia (and as usual I’m
probably hopelessly misquoting here) which was that she appreciated how much
there was to do for her back home. And then she took up canoeing and we
haven’t seen her since, but these things happen. Don’t worry, it won’t
happen to me, for I am strong, and possess no canoe.

I will be back here though, because I’ve made a promise to myself to come
out here in three to five years and explore the Western Australian Outback
the way I think it should be done, which is to say, off the beatten track in
a four wheel drive. I specifically want to get a Toyota Hilux because then
a) I can crush small cars, b) impress women, c) impress cars by crushing
small women and d) go offroad and chase kangaroos in the National parks.
Really. apparently I could be coming back here in ten years time too, but
that’s a little vague right now.

I miss having a steady office job. Or rather, I miss being in Parallel doing
what it is that I do best, and I think that’s probably not the same thing.
It’s kind of funny because when I was sitting in that office I would look
out of the window sometimes and ask myself why I was sitting inside in front
of a computer, building some completely abstract stuff which would result in
a website for someone who didn’t understand, let alone care, about what I
was actually doing when there was this whole beautiful world outside which
needed exploring, just to want to live my life and be free of this same
constrictive routine, day in day out. The upside of course was that I was
working with a great bunch of people, and I really enjoyed doing that thing
that I was doing. I may have bitched about it at the time, as we all do but
the truth is (as I was and still am quick to point out) that I wouldn’t want
to be doing anything else, with anyone else. I’d just like to… be able to
do it
outside, is all.

But I do miss having that regular office environment too, and of course I’m
worried about becoming obsolete in what I do, which for those of you who
don’t know is XSL/XHTML/CSS display layer system creation and customisation
for Content Management Systems with XML. Pay attention at the back!
Knowledge and skill redundancy is a real problem for Internet stuff because
it changes quickly and I’ve been out of the loop for 5 months now, and
that’s a very long time in technology terms. I used to be the guy that made
people who build websites obsolete, and I know that someone out there is
doing that to me, right now…

It would be nice to be able to telecommute, to have the office job
somewhere, and still be in Kenya every morning for Elephant wrestling.

Now this won’t really interest anyone at all, but it’s something I think
about (and something which ably demonstrates that I need to get out more) –
the Rough Guide versus Lonely Planet. Lonely Planet has the lion’s share of
the market with actual travellers, and while I like my Rough Guide, it’s
clearly a book that wants to sit on your shelf or coffee table, or you can
read it, hide it, and talk knowingly about stuff you’ve never seen. In other
words, it’s a great book for travelling around places you have no intention
of actually going to. Lonely Planet on the other hand is ugly and
functional, and exactly what you need on the road. It’s interesting, because
I had thought they were aimed at the same people. I should trade it for a
Rough Guide or something, but now I have it I’m quite happy to keep it.

My rucksack. I have a far bigger rucksack than on my last trip. It is full.
I only recently went through it and threw out a pile of stuff, and finally
discovered the lost art of packing Properly. It’s still a bit too big for
easy travelling but then again I brought enough stuff to survive for a whole
year in the field. Lesson learned.

Lastly, I have of course been tirelessly promoting Eastern Europe as being
The Most Incredible Place Ever, and I think I’ve talked at least one person
into looking up Slovakia on the map (interestingly, when you mention
Slovakia, they all nod knowingly, and say they passed through it when they
went to Croatia… ). But, you know, it is a great place to go for a trip!

Reasons for going
Once again, as for the last trip, there are Reasons for being out here. It’s
Australia, it’s the other side of the world, my career is sitting up on the
top shelf next to the dessicated coconut hairs, and I’m spending an awful
lot of money. There has to be a Reason. A bloody good one.

a) The Australia Working Holiday Visa. Let’s be straight about this. I’m not
getting any younger, and as a result of this incredible process my
eligibility for the Australia Working Holiday Visa expires once I hit thirty
one, a ridiculous event which happens next march. Since I was already
pooping my career for the previous trip, I decided to go for it. In for a
penny, in for a Euro.

b) I need to grow, to mature and explore myself before I head into my
thirties, to equip myself for whatever happens, you know like a career, or a
relationship, maybe even kids, stuff like that. Mature life. The stuff
people always do in Real Life. Australia is a great place to do that.

c) I need to see more of the world before I get stuck in a static lifestyle
somewhere, the wife, the 2.4 kids, the big house, the volvo, the whatever,
and then I can’t really just jack it in one morning and p*ss off just
because I feel like it. It’s just not on. Australia is a great place to do

d) I need a break from ‘everything’. Australia is a great place to do that.

e) I need to get a root. Australia is a great place to do that.

When I decided to go away orginally, Australia was the big trip, and That
Other Trip was just a sort of warm-up for the main show. As I might have
told some of you, since of course I tell everyone everything, that has
changed entirely because I now see Europe as being something I want to spend
more time in, it’s something I’ve badly neglected and I find it very very
interesting. More on that later. So I was even talking about emmigrating to
Australia, but I don’t see that happening now because that reason has
evaporated now that I’ve seen that I really want to travel more (the
so-called Travel Bug), and Europe really is my home. I belong there.

Being offline
Yeah, I know – Kevin Offline!!! No way!??!! How did he do it, the guy
practically has the Interweb hanging out of his ass! It can not be! How did
he cope?

It was great. I mean, sure, I missed checking my emails and knowing what was
going on in the world, but I got used to it pretty quickly. There was a
freedom in it, but maybe it made the sense of homesickness a bit worse
because of the deeper sense of isolation and distance. It was what I wanted
though; not out of a sense of emotional masochism, but to really feel and
understand the distance. What is it like to be on the other side of the
world? To really be away? To not just be able to call your friends and
family whenever you need to talk to someone, to have to make friends and
trust people away from home? That was a great experience, and it yes, it
made me value what I have back home all the more. I feel more independent as
a result, more self-reliant which is something I needed, more confident as a
result of having to make decisions for myself. Not, incidentally, that it’s
much of an issue out here since everything is done for you, but even a small
amount of mental excercise can’t be a bad thing.

Some of you will remember (I doubt you’ve forgotten, judging by the
horrified expressions on your faces at the time) my phone-throwing episode
before I left on my first trip; for those that weren’t there for that, it
involved me occasionally throwing my phone over my shoulder against hard
surfaces to a) demonstrate that the phone meant nothing to me *as a thing* -
which is to say, I see the phone only as an object with no personal value -
because I think people hold their phones to be too precious. I can live
without mine. b) Man, you should have seen the look on their faces. It was
worth it. Sorry guys. Oh, and of course c) I believed the phone could take
it. It was a Nokia 6150, it’s big, it’s ugly and second only to the 5100 in
terms of taking a hiding. I was wrong.

So, life without a phone was great. It’s a real freedom, and I’ve done it
for periods back home to cut costs and it was good then too. But that said,
it’s good to have a phone again now and be in touch with people. And sadly,
a modern social life really does need a phone to stay current.

The interesting thing is that on the Eastern Europe trip, which the mere
mention of is doubtless sending people off to sleep even as I type this, I
was in touch at the very least every second day, as I tried desperately to
keep my email diary up to date. And I missed absolutely f*ck all. Nothing
happened. So what’s happened now? 11 weeks later, any change? Apparently,
very much so – there seems to have been all sorts of things happening back
home and elsewhere and I think my social environment will be very different
when I do get back home. This is probably good, because change is generally
a healthy thing.

The highlights are pretty easy to point out. Mindil Market at Mindil beach
in Darwin was great – Asian food from every possible country, anything you
could roast or blend made into food. Brilliant stuff. The Adventure Tours
safari through the Kimberly region was very good, I got to see the Outback
in all it’s wild glory from the safety of a 4WD truck. Broome was great fun,
and it was good to let off some steam and wear women’s clothes too. The
WWOOFing I did there was fantastic, it was a great experience and seeing
what life is like out in the Outback, and life with babies with two
interesting people who are the same age as me was a real eye-opener. That’s
one of those things that might have a far-reaching effect on my life…

Coral Bay was a great bit of relaxation, it was like being stranded on a
reasonably well catered desert island, and the Easyrider trip that followed
to Kalbarri was great – it resulted in the unveiling of the TurboKev to deal
with intransigent women and crowd control. Hmm… Maybe I’ll call this
RiotKev. Kalbarri was another great spot to just hang out in, and on top of
that there were lots of friendly girls – especially since TurboKev was still
in effect there. WWOOFing with Mick and Wendy was good and very interesting
although I was out of sorts for a couple of days there as TurboKev had to be
reigned in. Perth is highlight by virtue of marking my return to

Week 1
The first week was a quiet one. I arrived in Darwin after a long flight over
in the early hours of Sunday morning. The flight was good – I met a Gillian
on the way out of Ireland who is the biggest fan of the Rolling Stones ever;
she was a little rough from having been to their post gig party in Dublin
(she goes to all their concerts), but proudly had all their plectrums as
keepsakes. I spent what felt like weeks in both London Heathrow and
Singapore airports hanging around – it was enough time to get bored but not
long enough to go out and do stuff. Those 747s are something else though,
aren’t they? It’s like being in a huge flying shopping mall. Movies, lots of
food and drink, it’s all there – the exact opposite of Ryanair, but at those
prices that’s what you want. Also, I have a habit of falling asleep as soon
as I make myself even slightly comfortable on any kind of transport at all
so I slept for a lot of that 12 hours or so.

The first experience I had was actually that as soon as the customs guy had
established I was coming from Ireland he made my life much easier, and the
second was that walking out of the airport was like walking into a wall of
heat and humidity – I’d never experienced the likes of it. I went to the
hostel, Elke’s Backpackers with a bunch of Danish girls and it was really
something for me to know that in the darkness I was being driven around
AUSTRALIA! That was a hell of a feeling.

So, I spent the week in Elke’s in Darwin. I got to meet various people very
briefly, such as a German guy who is a brewery engineer! And I heard some
interesting things about the Guinness brewing operation… I had the
somewhat pokey but air-conditioned room to myself on the first night, and I
got to wander around Darwin a bit. It didn’t last long, Darwin is small, and
irritating well laid out – it got flattened by cyclones enough times that
they were able to redesign and rebuild it from scratch, especially after the
one in December 1974 which totalled the town. It was easy to find
everything, and I didn’t seem to have too much jetlag, though I was
emotionally a bit up and down for a few days emotionally and napping at some
odd hours.

On the second night Filip the Austrian moved in, and the night after Richard
the Englander moved in for a night. Filip was a quiet guy with good sense of
humour, and he was waiting for a lift to Broome and had been screwed around
enough times that he was getting fairly no nonsense about it. Richard was a
disgustingly focused and organised guy who, having that morning arrived from
New Zealand, organised all his tax numbers and Visa and everything else in a
couple of hours, and then joined myself, Filip and Mike, another Englishman
that we found sitting in the hostel for a few beers in the town. I made the
obligatory phone calls, and had a good recommendation from Martha (who was
actually in New Zealand) about the Mindil market – that said, she also
recommended fish and chips on the pier, which wasn’t quite as successful…
I organised my trip to Broome which was the next port of call after Darwin,
and decided that I would take an expensive tour there; I would have to see
some of the Outback and National Parks while I was up North so I just had it
all packaged and rolled into one unit. I got my Visa, and eventually my Tax
File Number, neccessary for working, and my WWOOF membership.

The Mindil market, on Thursday night, was really very good – I went with
Mike and we just ate everything in sight. And we got to watch the famed

Darwin sunset which was ok. Later that evening we headed into town,
accompanied by two Dutch girls – Ninke and Saskia – and an Irish girl,
Phoebe. That was fun, because Ninke and Saskia were quite happy to speak to
me in Dutch although I can see I’m getting rusty in my old age, there’s
stuff in there that I just don’t recognise anymore.

One of the things that really drove home that I was far away from home was
that the wildlife was visibly completely different to what I would find in
Ireland – from parrots and fruit bats, to possums and big lizards, to ants
and fiddler crabs. That’s the kind of stuff that I really notice and it was
very disorientating. Though, the possum tree in the middle of Darwin was
good fun; there was a whole family of possums that came down in the
expectation of handouts every night after dark, demanding banana and
anything else they could get off people. Like big fuzzy grey cats with

I went out with Ninke and Saskia again, to experience Saturday night out in
Darwin; apparently they do the same dj set, with the same people, same
everything, every Saturday. It’s exactly the same every week. And I saw a
lot of the people I had seen during the week in the shops and offices, so
obviously there’s not a lot of choice as to where to spend your Saturday
night. Anyway, it was bit of drunken fun. In the meantime, I also bought
good walking shoes, and some other bits and pieces; they cost a few bucks
but they are great shoes, you could walk up glass with them. And I put my
foot in it while trying to helpfully give Michelle and Fiona who run Elke’s
my leftover stuff that I was ditching. It included a lefty paper that for
some odd reason I bought at the Mindil market, and Fiona had a husband who
was out in Iraq, so she wasn’t best pleased about that. Ouch.

However, by Sunday I was feeling very out of sorts for one reason or
another. I know I was feeling very disorientated (some sort of delayed
reaction to the jetlag perhaps?) and very low in confidence. It wasn’t
great. I rounded off the week with joining Mike and his new-found friends
(he had been on a tour for a few days) in the pub for a couple of cokes. I
figured drink really wasn’t going to help matters too well. I was also
thrown a bit by the fact that I hadn’t made more of an effort to establish
contact with Ninke and Saskia. I don’t know why it was important to me, but
somehow it became important and it bothered me. Altogether, I wasn’t in the
best form for the coming week of touring.

Week 2
Week two didn’t start on the most promising note. I was in bad form, and I
wasn’t in the mood for anything, let alone getting to know a bus load of
people and be jolly and all the rest of it. But a bad start is something
that often leads to a good outcome for this kind of thing, and the trip was
no exception.

I have to point out that my memory of this is all pretty sketchy because I
didn’t take a lot of notes for this, simply because I was more interested in
just living the experience (though you’ll see some photos at some point) but
it means that some of this is in the wrong order. It did happen though. Dan
was our driver (or Coach Captain) and he was ably assisted by Jo (also his
girlfriend). We were 9 passengers, which was Jeremy and Kate from England,
Jessica from Canadia, Hans en Saskia van Nederland, Gail from England, Roy
from England, AnneMarie from Australia and myself. Jeremy and Kate were a
couple, and they already knew Gail; all three were accountants who had been
working in Sydney if memory serves me correctly, and were from Oxford. Hans
and Saskia were also a couple, on their first big trip abroad together;
personally, I find most Dutch people to be very witty and have a great sense
of humour and Hans and Saskia didn’t disappoint. Jessica was a student,
studying in Perth, so in a way this was a bit of a field trip for her. Roy
was a policeman on leave for a bit, from London. After a few days we really
couldn’t believe that at all, because he just… couldn’t be a cop. It’s
hard to explain. Roy was a kind of guy you just couldn’t picture arresting
anyone without asking them if they wanted to get a pint with him and his
mates later on down at the pub. And of course AnneMarie who was on holiday
from Brisbane, very entertaining, and loud too as she’d be the first to
admit; a result perhaps of being an Australianised American.

There’s not a lot of point for me to try and describe the minute details, to
try and describe what I saw because I saw a lot, and I took photos and even
they don’t really get across what I saw and experienced. That’s not to say
it was a thoroughly mind-blowing experience (I thought Bosnia-Herzegovina
was more visually stunning, for example) but it was very much a personal
experience which is hard to relate. Anyhow, the first couple of days was
spent driving – it kind of drove home how vast the distances were; after
several hours of hard and fast driving we just weren’t getting very far on
Australian terms. We all got to introduce ourselves at the end of the first
day which was great, a real ice-breaker and I felt a lot better after that.
Sleeping was in swags – like sleeping mats with a fly net over it; it’s a
claustrophobic experience, and I know I was snoring and talking in my sleep
which can’t have been fun for other people. Well, I don’t think I was the
only one, but probably the worst.

Day two was more of the same, driving and just staring out of the window at
the vast, desolate and more than a little monotonous Outback. I came up with
a series of ideas for short stories inspired by the outback. We saw Lake
Argyle, the biggest man-made lake in the Southern hemisphere (this was a bit
of running theme – everything in Western Australia is the -est of something,
usually biggest. I wonder if there’s a chronic problem with small willies
out here?) and we even went for a swim in it. It’s fair to say that Roy and
AnneMarie had started to take a shine to each other over the course of the

Day three we got to see some really impressive chasm-stype stuff, with lots
of rock and sandstone. It was bloody hot.

Day four I have no idea about, though needless to say it involved chasms and
rocks. I’ll have to ask one of the others about this. I have photo evidence.
We stayed in a place called Parry farm in the evening, although we were
there for lunch and lounged around the pool for a while which was great and
saw a spectacular comic performance from AnneMarie as she hit on a young lad
and generally misbehaved for the audience.

Day five saw us terrorised at the poolside by a small and harmless snake. I
think we went to El Questro station today; which means that today was the
day we ran into Kimberly Adventure Tours at the waterfall. We rounded a
corner to find them in all their naked and loud glory perched on top of a
rock in the middle of the waterfall… It was quite a sight. Too much of a
sight. I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live, and it’ll be a while
before I feel comfortable about getting into a waterfall again.

Day six saw us tackle a river, with lots of swimming; and sun burn. Lots of
it. Heaps of it. But there was the fruit bat trees which was great. Sundown
saw us get attacked viciously by various hungry flies.

Day seven saw us tackle yet another gorge in anticipation of a swim, but
thanks to my falling behind (I got sunblock or sand in my eye) a few of us
ended up falling behind, and we set off in what we thought was the right
direction with Jo. It wasn’t. We eventually got back to where we came from,
and managed to located the very much less than impressed Dan, who didn’t say
much but was clearly very annoyed with us. He likes to be on top of the
situation, and of course this was amateurish (but great fun). However, we
got down to yet another waterfall and chilled out for a while before
tackling another one afterwards. I forgot my cap for which I rightly took
some stick; out there that’s a dangerous thing to do, especially with short
haired heads. You’ll see my solution in the photos – rather clever if I say
so myself. Later on we tackled a gorge with lots of (small) crocodiles, and
then just before the group photo session my camera battery mysteriously
failed completely. Hm.

Today I realised that Jeremy’s highly entertaining remarks were in fact not
intended as wit or humour. Personally I thought he was very funny indeed,
but I don’t think he saw it that way and probably thought I was laughing at,
instead of laughing with. Where as I thought I was doing the opposite. By
the time I realised this I think it was too late, and he’d already decided
how he felt about that.

Damn it, now I wish I had taken better notes. There was a lot there.

Week 3
Day 8 of our tour saw us tidying up our mess and cleaning swags and all that
before our last bit of exploring and the run into Broome. We got to see
Tunnel Gorge, which is a gorge that is a tunnel (ok, ok – it’s cave with
several openings in it, and a lot of fruit bats – nyak nyak nyak!) where
there was a lot of fighting between Aboriginals and Western authorities.
There’s a book about it, which I should get.

By Monday I was hanging out with Jess and Jenny and Sarah and intermittently
Ken as well.

Week 4
I really wasn’t getting up to much at all, but myself and Jess were roaming
around, chatting away about odd things and keeping ourselves amused. Jess
was trying hard to organise a lift to Darwin; she wanted to do the trip as
cheaply as possible, so anything was a possibility, including road-trains
and getting a lift with vehicle relocators. I had to act as supervisor while
she met a prospective vehicle relocator who wanted some company on the three
day journey up there, an ex-cop (with real ID!). What sank the deal was the
arrival of Paul the hostel owner. As he walked by and saw the guys sitting
at the hostel entrance he just quickly sized them up, and the coded
conversation was actually quite amusing, you could imagine the subtitles:
“Awright, guys” (Who the f*ck are you?) “Ah, listen, just let the guys at
reception know you’re here, ok?” (Get off my property) “It’s just for your
own safety or you’ll get molested by some girls or something, ha ha” (So
clear off now or I’ll call the cops). In the post-match analysis we decided
that if Paully disliked them so much then it couldn’t be a good thing at
all. So no free relocation for Jess. But we had a lot of fun hanging out

On Tuesday there was more of the same, and getting to know a big group of
English and Australians that were staying in the hostel too; Andy, Linette,
some girls from Newcastle and a bunch of Australian girls. And a Scottish
girl too. And a Dutch girl, Shoulke. Later on we were all coerced into
joining in with cross-dressing night, thanks to the efforts of Sean the
barman – so yes, after having confirmed that I’d be WWOOFing with Jason and
Tan, I was dragged off to be fitted into Shoulke’s clothes.

I think I looked pretty good in women’s clothes, actually.

So then we had lots of beer and fun in the hostel (and there are photos, if
there are any sceptics amongst you!) before heading off into the night to
dance and get really very drunk at Tokyo Joe’s. Something which I was about
to learn the hard way which I hadn’t really thought about (but should have)
was that in the heat in Australia you’re generally beating off dehydration
all day every day and your body adjusts to carry less water. Consequently,
it seems to take a lot less to get a lot more drunk out here (with the price
of those small bottles of beer it’s not a bad thing in some respects). I
drank quite a bit that night.

In the small hours I staggered out of Tokyo Joe’s, and a cabbie offered to
take me back to the hostel – $4. I said no, because I could see the hostel
(almost) from outside the club, and I could walk there. The cabbie kept
trying, and he started getting a bit worried. Then he offered to take me
there for nothing, just as long as I didn’t try to walk there. I walked
anyway, after giving him $2 for making a good sell, and he just shook his
head sadly. It took what seemed like five minutes to get back to the hostel
but in that time everyone seemed to have mysteriously got back there ahead
of me and gotten into bed too, which was worrying…

The next morning I had a hangover. It was a winner. That was a
heartbreaking, thundering, wrath of God type suffering. I had to go and see
the doctor about my ear, which was a bit of a walk, definitely not good, and
on my second attempt (I forgot my money on the first) I had a good
inspection of my ear by the doctor during which he established that the
infection hadn’t been affected by the medication at all, and I’d have to go
out and buy a lot more antibiotics and visit a doctor again soon. Then, when
I was in the toilet there afterwards, I threw up. It was a low. When I came
out I realised that the receptionist had heard everything, and had to
explain that I was ok, and it was just all the drink I’d had the night
before – which in Australia is unheard of. Blokes drink and maybe get a
hangover, if they’re pussies. They don’t get sick. It also dawned on me that
the reason the cabbie offered me a free ride home the night before was not
in fact because I was very attractive in Shoulke’s clothes but because
Broome is very dangerous after dark. It’s a great place to get stabbed or
bitten or generally beatten up when the sun goes down.

The new medication cost a lot. I mean, very much a lot. Loads, in fact. Lots
of pills and ear-drops.

Tan collected me to bring me to the farm and it was like leaving a new-found
family, to go on to a whole new adventure. Jason and Tan live on a small
farm about 20k east of Broome town, on a farm block which they bought two
years ago. They have twin daughters, just a bit under two years old, Jas and
Indy. Chooks. A duck. And a lot of very small ants. It is the world of ants
out there – there’s these tiny ants, really incredibly small things, that
stage sort of hit and run raids on water and velcro wherever it is. They’ll
find it and sit on it, and as soon as there’s a disturbance of any kind one
of them shouts ‘Sketch!’ and they run for it, and they really are amazingly
good at clearing off when they’re caught in the act. They go to school in
Tallaght, apparently. But I digress.

There was a guy there the first night, apparently a distant relative, and if
memory serves me he was called Rob. Rob with a beard, who was gone early the
next morning. Because of this I was put in the room under the water tower,
almost open air sleeping in fact, instead of the caravan where I might have
been put otherwise and as it happens that worked out really well for me; I
prefer sleeping at a height.

The work was your all-purpose large-scale gardening-type work, something for
which I am suited (yes, I’m stealing from Lou Reed there) as some of you
know well because it’s how I paid the bills when I was in college. It all
came back to me which was great, and I really enjoyed getting stuck into it.
The heat was incredible, but the thing I realised after a few days was that
I adapted – at long last I could tolerate the heat! That was a big deal for
me because it’s something I’ve never had before, the ability to tolerate
high temperatures. The trick to it, by the way, is good use of the lungs
(and we know about me and lung capacity), keep moving, drink plenty, and
make strategic use of the shade. And never over-exert. So it was digging,
weeding, mulching, manuring, composting, cleaning, occasionally watering
(they have a good and growing irrigation system there) and roaming around
with a wheel-barrow, making myself useful.

What is WWOOFing? It is Willing Workers On Organic Farms.
How it works is this: you buy this book which costs $50, and this
your insurance for the scheme, and your listing of farms (though
they aren’t all actual farms). You go and stay on one of these
farms (by agreement with the host of course), where you’ll get
your food and lodgings in return for 4 – 6 hours work per day
and you might stay up to several months even, if things go well
and everyone is happy. There is more to it than that, of course.
You aren’t doing it purely for the cheapness and savings, you are
also doing it for the experience, the learning, the being outdoors
and above all the cultural exchange that comes with it.

That’s the theory. In practice for me that is exactly how it
worked out, though it’s not how it goes for everyone, hosts
and WWOOFers alike. It was for me a great way to see what
it’s like to actually live in Australia, to experience different
lifestyles and to be part of something that I’m not normally
part of. It was really good, and hopefully I’ll do it again in
Australia before I go back home. And they do it in Europe too,
so I’ll have to look into that; it would be a great way to travel
and learn there.


Jason and Tan grow mostly herbs, of the kind used with food, and fruit; it’s
a lot of gourmet stuff in fact which because it’s all certified organic and
entirely chemical free goes for a good price on the market, which for them
is Broome. It was interesting to see how they do it and made it work as a
business, which they also supplement with part-time jobs in town. It
requires a lot of hard work, organisation and discipline, because any kind
of dereliction could be very damaging and cost lots.

And there were Jas and Indy, the two babies. They were a handful. Tough,
self-reliant, resourceful, adventurous and willing to poo on or break
anything they couldn’t eat. And scream. Boy, could they howl if things
weren’t working out the way the wanted. Mind you, by and large they were
well behaved, and any kind of mayhem was the result of their various
experiments in the aerodynamics of food, or the physics of water and floor
interactions, or seeing how loud they could squeak before mum or dad decided
they’d had enough. I’ve got a note there about how I felt about the whole
living with babies experience, because it was a new one for me and the one
of the biggest educations on this trip so far.

One of the big revelations for me was babies. Babies!
Have you seen those things? They’re amazing! They’re just tiny
and crazy and they take up your entire life and eat and break
everything and burp and fart and throw shit around and then
scream and scream and run away and throw all the food on the
floor because it’s going to make you angry and then just when
you think you can’t take any more they’ll sit there and gurgle at
you… And then you smell what exactly has them so content
and it’s leaking out of a nappy all over the floor.

Previously, I would have said, I understand that this is
something I may have to do and persevere with for the
perpetuation of the species, that being one of the reasons we
exist and all that. It is a duty. Put it off for as long as possible.
It won’t be fun.

But I see it in a whole different light now, because suddenly I
see that it’s something I WANT to be part of! It’s something I
actually want to do, to be a father and have kids. Now, before
anyone gets worried (because it’s a sure way of killing off any
hope of a date with any girl under the age 27) it’s not
something I want to do tomorrow or something like that, but at
least it puts my travelling in perspective, because now I can see
that I do want to settle down someday and raise a family and
have those responsibilities which are the highest ones I can
imagine. This is what I have to mature and grow for. It’s one of
the biggest things anyone can do with their life, and I can really
understand now that once you’re part of that your life changes
completely and that’s the be all and end all for the next 10 to
15 years – all the money, the effort, the pain, the joy – that’s
the focus. So, any of the irresponsible stuff is what I have to
enjoy and get out of my system now, and grow up for the day
when the big change comes my way.

If it does.

For the sceptics among you, yes, I am very aware that the
babies don’t just happen by themselves (as much as it may
occasionally seem that way) but that’s part of the learning
curve for me too.


The routine was consistent enough – I set myself the objective of getting at
least 6 hours of work done every day, and I got to it usually between seven
and half eight every day, and aimed to get at least four hours done by lunch
time. It wasn’t a good idea to work during the middle of the day because it
was too hot then, and in fact too hot to do anything useful. I opted for a
read, a siesta, and lunch before getting back to it at about four for
another couple of hours. I’m not a hardened clock watcher, and I know there
were a couple of days at least where I hit seven to eight hours just because
I wanted to get the job done. Lunch was usually with Jason, Tan and the
girls. So was dinner, where either one of them would cook a new and
interesting dish every night, and damn it, I’d have to recommend a stay with
them just for the cooking. It also involved a fair bit of baby-wrestling as
either one of the two little rascals decided to liven up the proceedings by
either having a tantrum or throwing dinner around.

The evening would usually see a telling of anecdotes by Jason or Tan, or a
discussion of some sort; it was great to hear about life in Australia from
people the same age as me (for they were) who had seen quite a bit, and
travelled around a lot too (mostly in the vicinity of Australia and South
East Asia, though Tan had seen quite a bit of the rest of the world too).
They really had a lot to share, from the hilarious to the disturbing, from
personal history to generalities of the Australian Tax and Welfare system.

Week 5
I got into a steady routine this week and gradually got the hang of what
worked best for me: earlier lunch, no nap in the afternoon, and I read a
lot. Before I away on both trip I got the gift of reading from more than a
few people, and the result was a large pile of books to take with me. Now,
on That Other Trip I had barely enough space in my rucksack for my
underpants let alone anything else, so the books were out. As some of you
heard (I’m pretty repetitive, actually, so I think all of you have heard it
at least twice) I even ditched most of my phrasebooks and half of my Lonely
Planet guide to save weight and space. But on this trip I now have ahuge
rucksack, where I can keep all the underpants I want, as well as having
spare room for headshavers and carcasses and stuff like that, so I brought a
few of these books with me on the off-chance I felt like discovering
reading. These are the ‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel and ‘The Joke’ by Milan
Kundera, and they were both great books. If you’re going to read them, you
probably better skip ahead. I’d better warn you, it’s a couple of little
in-jokes that’ll be lost on the majority of you…

Extract from ‘The Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel, Chapter 296

Well readers it’s another beautiful day and once again I woke up with my
usual fearless optimism because every day is a new day even though I had my
usual scream of mindless terror when I realised as I do every morning that I
couldn’t get my morning hot double cafe latte because there’s no coffee shop
with cute attendants across the road in the middle of the sea! I’m going to
have a to write a stern letter to someone about that, let me tell you! So I
popped a few Aspirin and a Panadol for that early morning buzz to get me
going and help me figure out what I was going to wear today on this little
boat thingy – I think today’s a pink day with yellow highlights. Good thing
I rescued the five cases of clothes instead of all those helpless survivors!
I know what you’re going to say but you can’t wear survivors which is what I
always say and it’s not like they’re going to give you any kind of useful
advice when you’re picking out which pair of shoes to go with that lovely
pink chiffon skirt and kashmir wool top for a night out with the girls. Now,
you’re all probably wondering what our faithful correspondant is doing to
pass her time out here marooned on a boat, and I can tell you readers, I
have been very busy! There was a big stripy cat thingy in the boat, all big
and smelly and making noises at me, and I you know what I thought to myself?
Well, I’ll tell you! I thought matching three piece handbag, scarf and boots
with triple 5 way stitching, and what do you know, there was just enough to
make all of them – good thing they had everything I needed in the emergency
box (well, apart from a good supply of Stolly Bollies, and someone’s going
to know all about that when I get home!).

And guess what!? I saw that lovely boy from cabin 756 again just last night,
when he came floating past on a log or something and he’s even skinnier than
last time, how cute is that? He really wanted to talk to me and get on the
boat but you know me readers, I played it cool and shy and I didn’t let him
in, if he really wants me he can call me NEXT WEEK, that’s the rule!

God, I’m so hungry I could eat a whole pack of Courtney Courtney Taylor
Taylors, with a Neurofen on top!

Extract from ‘The Joke’ by Milan Kundera, Horakovic, part 5, section 3

I got off the train, and thought about where I could stay – it was many
years since I had been there and I had no desire for the friend see me here.
It’s not good idea, jeebus christ.

I am here because I have the purpose in be here which is –>> get the chick,
and –>> get beer because it’s point of life. It’s long time from be here
before but still same city which is Brno and Brno = bestest city ever in
world, it’s the true! If you make for end point you see it is Brno. Not like
Praha which is big sh*t place full of Boosheets. Brno ->> bestest beer and
->> bestest chicks ever, it’s the high point. No, I am wrong! Bestest beer
is high point of life, some chicks are just the boosheets and they are only
interested for the money, you can ask them and they will say it is the true.
So, purpose ->> ** get beer ** < <-- because I put my position in the high point! I said to some chick about it ::-- The end point of life is reach for high point in your position, and know the true --:: So, it's good. I was here >> Brno >> the long time ago before and there was the trouble
with boosheets from the Communists, they try to take away all the beer,
fok’s sake! And they send me away to stop with –>> shouting –>> so I go
–>> nightlink and stay away, do other stuff for a bit, check out some web
sites and drink the beer. And play the fokking football, jeebus. So I say to
guys, fok’s sake, to hell with boosheets and chicks, lets just go for pint
guys it’s –>> best way for Czech guys. Just check it out ::> ::> it’s pictures of some motofoko
fighting the boosheets in some place.

Fok it, I think I go for pint with guys and spray something about the
booshits in town square with the guys ->> it’s point of life!!


Err… Yeah. Great books actually, and those of you responsible for them,
thank you very much. It was a case of first come served I’m afraid, and the
other books will be sent to me before long, when I send these ones back to
home. Then I will eagerly read the others, and I might even give ‘em the
same treatment…

This week went very much like the last one, though of course I got to know
the routine much better, and Jason, Tan and the girls too. Jason and Tan did
have the habit of having the odd heated argument about, well, anything
really – I pulled them up on it because they’d do it for example while I was
planting seeds, one having told me how to do it, the other disagreeing and
saying it had to be done another way, and I’d get the feeling that maybe I’d
been wasting my time or something, and I really didn’t want to feel like I
was 10 and Mom and Pop were fighting over what movie to watch or something
stupid like that. I’m the same age as them, and it was important that I
respected that and asserted it. And yes, they did fight over who got to
drive which car. It was good for me in the sense that I don’t like being
near confrontation, so it was a good learning experience for me.

Most things are.

On Saturday I was given a day off thanks to my hard work and diligence, and
I went to the beach with Jason and the girls and it was just beautiful. I
can’t adequately describe it, and I took a small shell back with me so I’d
know that it was real, and I really did see all of that…

During the week we had more visits from Alex, their German neighbour (who
really reminded me very much of Petr, in a way) who would come over every
now and again and discuss the mango situation. He bought the farm a year or
two ago with the intention of getting into farming and, like Jason and Tan,
has mango trees which can be big money. However, Jason and Tan know lots
about the mango farming business, whilst Alex does not, and he was panicking
over every aspect of the operation which was obviously exasperating them a
bit but they were patient enough to put up with it. The moment that summed
it up was when one morning we were all working in the garden quite early,
Jason and Tan were harvesting herbs for sale that day, and he came over to
the fence and was asking about some aspect of the mango picking operation.
After a few minutes of conversation there was a pause, and he asked “What
are you doing?”. “Ehh… Working”. “Oh!” I think it hadn’t really occurred
to him that farms don’t run themselves.

Petr, incidentally, knows more than a little about farming, and also about
how to work, in case there’s any suggestion that I meant that he didn’t.

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

What’s next
That’s a very very good question, and one I’ve been wondering about how to
avoid answering for a long time now. First off, in the short term, there is
Earning Money. I have to eat. I have to pay for all of this stuff that I
have been doing. So it’s almost certainly a done deal that I’ll be doing
fruit-picking and that kind of stuff down south of Perth for a few weeks
before I head on to the East where I’m going to terrorise an old friend of
mine in Adelaide – he doesn’t know I’m in Australia, so I’m going call over
and play a prank on him, tee hee! If the truth be told I’m a bit nervous
because although we have reasonably regular contact these days after I
tracked him down over the Internet a few years ago, I haven’t actually seen
Sean Donaghy in over 15 years so even recognising him is a bit of an unkown
quantity. He’ll certainly recognise me, after last year’s 140 Photos
Christmas website that I made, but I think with my lightning reactions I’ll
be able to deck him before he gets me.

Then, on to Melbourne, where I can hopefully get work, maybe an IT job, and
then after 3 to 6 months it’s on to Sydney and then up a bit of the East
Coast to Brisbane. I really don’t know after Melbourne, though I’d like to
visit Sydney and Brisbane. I might pay Canberra a visit out of due respect,
since it is the capital of Australia. as I said, I’d like to be out of
Australia by the middle of next year, and have to be out by September, and
right now I can’t see big reasons for sticking around.

After that, who knows. South-East Asia, the US? New Zealand is something
I’ve earmarked for a later trip, because I want to be able to give it the
time it undoubtedly deserves. Home, earn more money, maybe move to England
or The Netherlands for a while (6 months or more), and then set about
tackling more of Europe, since yes, yawn, I want to visit Eastern Europe
again, as well as Spain and Germany.

I’m almost certainly going to come back to Australia within 3 to 5 years and
tackle some of the Outback with my own transport and hopefully, very
hopefully, not by myself. I’m going to buy a four wheel drive, probably a
Toyota Hilux because then I can a) crush small cars b) impress women
c)impress cars by crushing small women and d) travel off the beatten track
which is what’s best about Australia. But that’s way off in the future, and
we can’t know what that will bring, which is a good thing.

Top 5 Women
Ah shit. I don’t have the bottle. Where’s me bottle. I can’t do
it. They are there. They know who they are. I love them.
I also can’t marry more than one of them, at least not in the
same country.

No, it’s not about the boffing. It’s about the sharing.


Holiday Romance
Something that the girls back home ask me without fail is “So,
Kev, any Holiday Romance” which is one of those wonderful female
euphemisms for did I get a root, as they so charmingly say it out
here, or did I shag, or ride, or bone or screw or f*ck or ‘lash one
into’ some girl?

And before anyone defends it and mentions ‘relationship’ – hey,
we’re backpacking here… ;-) It’s the ultimate transient social

No. Come on, I didn’t come all this way out here just to… I did.
That is one of the reasons I came out here (amongst other
good ones, I hastily add). But there’s more to it than just intent
and even with the new TurboKev total ultra hyper positive
energy, I’m still not at that stage yet so we’ll see how it goes
from here. I have met some truly lovely women that I have to
say… Well, if I wasn’t wibbling my wonderful way around the
West coast of Australia then who knows, as usual I’ve fallen in
love about 10 times so far. And then someone has to get on
or get off a bus or a plane or join the Liberation Army or
something stupid like that. :-p

The new TurboKev could change all that, but it’s still a new thing
for me, this new personality and I’m not entirely clear about what
gets it to kick in, but any kind of development in this area is going
to be connected to this new me, there is no doubt about that
whatsoever. We all need to be a bit ruthless to get our lives
to change.

I’m still too bloody nice. Where’s my inner asshole when I need
him most?


Many of you have been here. Some of you ARE here. But for those of you who
haven’t been here and maybe you’d like to know what it’s like, here you go.

It is big. Very very big. I mean, when you think of big, it’s sort of hard
to get an idea of a notion of what really very very big means, you look at a
map for example, and you think ‘Well, that’s alright, not too bad then’ and
you’ll be easily satisfied that you’ve just experienced ‘Big’ as a concept.
You haven’t. Imagine a map of Australia, and then imagine that it’s the
biggest thing in the whole world ever, as big as the world. That big. really
incredibly huge. Imagine it wasn’t just flat but covered in sand and rocks
and teeth and spiky stuff and was really, really incredibly hot, so you
couldn’t even walk on it, which would be difficult already because of all
the spikes and sh*t. Australia is bigger than that even, and much, much

Seriously, the distances are mind boggling in Western Australia. You can
drive for hours and see nothing – there’s a Roadhouse every three to four
hours where you get screwed for the price of just about anything you need.
Your nearest neighbour is at least several hundred metres away, more usually
several kilometres away. And a quick trip down to the shops is something you
plan days ahead because it is going to take you an hour to get there. It
defies belief, and plays games with the mind. In the Northern Territory,
incidentally, there are no speed limits on the open roads and you really can
go as fast as you damn well please. It’s not like you’re going to meet
anyone else out there.

The heat is astonishing, and up North which in Europe traditionally is
synonymous with cold and windy means very hot and humid out here. They don’t
have winter and summer up there, they have Wet and Dry. And uh! It’s a bit
cold in the dry up there, it plummets to a low of 25C! How people survive
the wet is mystery to me, because by February it’s an environmental
madhouse, all the wildlife is out in force and it’s hitting close to 50C
every day. You are assaulted by flies all the time. My personal favourite is
the Mousefly, which you can read about in the Wildlife section. It’s a
winner. And then apparently the Wet Season ends overnight sometime at the
end of March. Just like that, it’s gone. It starts like that too,
incidentally, because the morning I finished WWOOFing with Jason and Tan I
woke up covered in bites and the climate had changed noticeably. Luckily
that was when I was going to start heading down South, which was good
timing. People go ‘Troppo’ during the Wet, which is they go insane, lose the
plot and kill themselves or someone else because the heat and humidity gets
too much for them – Western Europeans just aren’t physically or mentally
designed for this kind of meteorological abuse, it’s pretty tough.

And yes, the UV is very dangerous out here. Up North you are actually
physically closer to the sun and you can feel it. If you have the same
ambient temperature as in Europe, it’s still actually hotter and more
damaging to be in the sun out here. 40C here is not the same as 40C in, for
example, Croatia. I can get away with no block there for even a day. Here,
20 minutes and after that I’m going to need medical treatment. It’s not an
exaggeration. And it gets worse down South, because although it’s not as
hot, and in fact is drier, there is that hole in the Ozone layer.

With all that, why do people come here?

Politically Australia is composed of Federal system like the USA with a
number of semi-autonomous States, each with it’s own capital and
Governement. They can be quite tribal about it; businesses in the Northern
Territory generally give discounts to ‘Territorians’ as they call
themselves, for example. Products in shops in Western Australia will proudly
display ‘Made in WA’ stickers.


We all know where they came from. They’re convicts from England. They drink
beer a lot and have the social skills of baboons. ;-)

The truth is actually a lot more complicated than that; and I won’t get into
the detailed history of it at this point. They’re generally a friendly bunch
- very informal, laid back and easy going. And yet still organised and hard
working. You can see that here; Perth, for all my comments about pre-fab
city, is still a modern, organised, well-run city which has been made and
run by Australians, and Australian services are well-run and funded. They
can stretch the concept of ‘in a timely manner’ a bit sometimes, but when
they say they’ll do something they’ll generally get to it eventually and do
it well. There’s a bit of a service industry culture of informal
friendliness here (as opposed to, say, politeness), and I like it, though it
was very disconcerting at first in Darwin when I arrived.

They don’t like authority. Someone telling an Austrialian what to do is
asking for trouble. They don’t like it. I have no idea how it is that they
manage to run businesses here because they have a disturbing habit of
leaving their jobs any time they’re unhappy about anything, and generally
their mates leave with them.

And yes, the men can be incredibly sexist here, it’s part of the culture.
That means the women are a bit tougher to get ahead too, I reckon, but I
haven’t been here long enough – either way, it’s not a great country in
which to be a woman.

The same ‘small town’ effect comes into play here as anywhere else in the
world, which is that you’ll get a small number of people, small gene-pool,
and they’ll amuse themselves by getting drunk, trying to root each other’s
women, and then fighting over the results. And do it all with the social
flair and aplomb of retarded baboons. That’s fairly universal the world

They are very Euro-centric in some respects, and US-centric in other ways
which makes for an interesting but somewhat derivative mix, and I’m not sure
how much they’re absorbing the Asian, Polynesian and other nearby cultures.
There’s an odd kind of xenophobia at work here (and of course it’s a bit
hypocritical). Western European Australians are as native here as the cat or
rabbit, but the common or garden white Western European can still manage to
be extraordinarily racist, and even when they’re not there can still be a
sort of denial about it. It’s interesting. But, before you think I’m
generalising, it’s different for many people, and there’s many different
views and opinions here. That’s a good thing, I reckon.

Incidentally, they love the Irish here. An Irish accent is worth a lot here,
and everyone is proud to have an Irishman around. You could set fire to
someone’s car here and as long as you said sorry in genuine Irish accent
they’d buy you a drink after and claim it was their own fault. It’s crazy.
Any positive attributes they see in themselves here they immediately claim
that they inherited from the Irish – positive attitude, fighting spirit,
etc. The English on the other hand, or Pommies as they’re known, are really
looked down on. It’s amazing, that they’ll ‘bag on’ the English, but never
manage to give any good personal examples of where they got the idea from.
In fact, they might even have plenty of examples that are the opposite, but
nonetheless in the Australian national conciousness the English just drink
and fight and are messy, lazy, good for nothing freeloaders that come ovber
to wreck their country. And many ‘Australians’ are really English if you go
back one or two generations.


(There’ll be some who know more about this subject – this is a subjective,
simplified overview)

I saw them first in Darwin; and naturally the first place I saw them was
roaming around the local park. It was kind of intimidating, too; they were
talking to each other all the time about pretty mundane stuff which is ok
but they have these conversations across several hundred metres. So when
Clarrie wants to ask Lorra about something, he just shouts it at her from as
far away as possible – “Hoi, Lorra yur garn dan t d fackin shap?” And she
she screams back “Narr, Arm nat garn d fackin shap!” and so on. By and
large they keep to themselves, but you can hear them a long way away. At
first I thought they were spoiling for a fight or something but it’s just
the way they communicate, they can’t be arsed walking over so they just
shout where they’re from. And there’s some drinking too, and police

I learned early on that these people are basically dispossed – Abo culture
is complex and pretty harsh – if you piss off someone, you get kicked out,
and then you’ve got nowhere to go. Before white fella got to Australia they
would have died by themselves most likely, but now they can hang around in
parks and get social welfare. I also heard about the effect of some of
Western culture; psychologically and culturally a lot have been dispossed
and don’t have a ‘centre’, and physically they aren’t able to handle
alcohol, addictive substances or complex processed carbohydrates. You can
see the effect a western lifestyle might have there.

The Aboriginal society that is operating and coping is something that people
like me simply don’t see because they don’t want it. They just want to be
left alone to do their own thing, and so of course Westerners like me just
see the guys screaming at each other in the park and drinking and sometimes
fighting, and not how most of them actually live.

There’s much more to this subject which I’ll leave to some other time, both
good and bad – it’s a very complicated subject and I doubt that I’ll ever
understand it. But I have learned it’s very dangerous to take a stance
without getting a clearer picture.


It deserves a mention. Provincial Australian advertising is very, very
special. It is crude, in low budget kind of way. It is primitive. It is
f*cking funny. Watching the inarticulate boss of some small chain of
building supplies stores justify a name change over 3 agonising minutes is

The other thing about Australian advertising is breasts. It seems that in
Australia the way to differentiate your product from that of your
competitors is to have bigger breasts beside your product, which will help
the Australian buyer make HIS mind up. Alcohol in particular is quite
amazing because they really make a run for it – the more sexist and
tasteless the better. I couldn’t imagine any of this stuff getting past the
drawing board in Ireland or England, where ads get derailed on the most
minor offences.

Breasts. Brilliant.


Other travellers
Oddly enough I’m not the only person travelling out here. There
are others. Out here (on the West Coast) you’ll find English,
Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Germans, Japanese, Swiss, Danish, Dutch,
Germans, Austrians, Canadians, Americans, a very few Italians,
Dutch, French, Spanish, the odd Swede and New Zealander
and of course Australians and Germans.

>From everything I’ve heard the average age here is higher than
on the East Coast, by maybe as much as 5 years or more. Most
people here are at least in their mid-twenties, and that does
mean it has a reasonably mature, laid back atmosphere. People
aren’t out here to get drunk and get a root, they’re by and
large a bit more contemplative, which is great. More than a few
are here on a second trip, or more, and taking their time to see
the West Coast, and I’m glad it’s what I’m doing because by
all accounts I really wouldn’t enjoy the East Coast. I won’t
know until I see it I guess.

Even the terminally inobservant will have noticed my
heavy-handed references to the sheer number of Germans
out here. There are millions of them here. There are a lot
of Dutch here too, and in fact Northern Europeans of every
description. I finally got a handle on it in Geraldton; it’s
because Western Australia, with it’s vast rugged, desolate
landscape, it’s casual disorganisation, it’s remoteness, the
heat – it is the antithesis of Northern Europe in every way.
There are 20 million people in the Netherlands which is the
population of the whole of Australia, packed into a small
highly organised space you could actually lose in a small
corner of Western Australia. I can see why they like it here.

There are quite a few Canadians too – you can’t mistake
them for Americans because they have a different attitude,
and they wear t-shirts to let everyone know where
they’re from.

Those Northern Europeans do tend to stick together though;
Germans and Swiss Germans and Austrians of course can yap away
in their own language of course, but they’ll stick together with
Danes and Dutch too – it’s funny that it’s doubles and triples of
girls from any combination of those nationalities. I’m amazed at
how many Swiss there are here. There really are loads of them
here, and I’ve never met so many in my whole life. They’re very
amusing – a little bit nuts with a great sense of humour, by
and large.

There are much fewer French, Spanish and Italians travelling
here. I’m curious as to why that is. And for those who care,
the Czechs are coming…


Australian is not English. It’s not disimilar, but they’ve added words,
shortened words, and repurposed words all over the place so even though
you’re hearing familiar words they actually mean something completely

Kenny does a very passable Australian accent, and his favourite phrase
(because it’s easy to get right) is “Aww, yihh!” said with enthusiasm. They
like that here, you hear it often. It means ‘yes, I agree’ or ‘Very much
so’. There is ‘Getting a root’, as in ‘I was rooting her last night’ – to
have sex. And ‘going off’ which caught me out a few times. It’s a positive,
and it means ‘going well’, ‘very much/well/fast/hard etc’. For example, the
second time I was WWOOFing, Mick pointed to some mint and proudly declared
‘Awwr, that mint’s really going off!’ which I misunderstood to mean that it
was ‘stuffed’ – which is another one; ‘stuffed’, it means broken or damaged.
Declaring yourself to be stuffed after a good meal can offend the chef.

The other regulars are ‘Narrr!’ – No. ‘Moyt’ – Mate (friend, companion,
buddy, hey you). ‘Well, yihhh… ‘ – No. ‘Fack’ – swearing, use liberally
but use it offend.

Because there are so many Germans here, it’s good to have a good grasp of
German in Australia. German speakers frequently use German to speak to each
other regardless of who else is around or how rude it is. It’s almost like
‘Hey, you f*ckarses, you are speaking the German and I don’t understand
you!’ to which the response is something like ‘Yes, we are knowing this.
Why?’. So, the way to play them at their own game is to make up a whole new
language that they don’t understand and use that whenever they start
speaking German. The thing is that it’s not just Germans, it’s Austrians and
Swiss Germans too, because they’re all in on the act too.

Incidentally, my accent has flattened considerably, and I get pegged as from
being from just about anywhere, though Canadia is popular right now as a
possible place for me to be from. Even Irish people have accused me of
having a ‘fake Irish accent’.


The Wildlife
Yeah, the dangerous lethal venomous aggressive wildlife which has me in
mortal danger day and night. I saw crocodiles. I saw the Redback. I saw
centipedes. I saw a scorpion. I saw snakes. I saw lethal deadly killer fish.
I saw jellyfish.

I don’t know, but I didn’t feel in any kind of danger. None of that stuff
picks a fight with you unless you go out of your way to provoke it or set
yourself up for it. apart from the crocodile which you can avoid using your
brain by not getting into the water where they are known to be.

There are the mosquitos, the midges, the sandflies, and the mouseflies.

I mentioned the Mousefly, which is this huge grey flying slab of evil, an
airborne Volvo of a fly. It lands on you (and you feel it hit, it’s a big
b*stard). It positions itself for best effect, which takes a few seconds.
And if you for some insane reason have decided to leave best alone then the
fly bites you. Dear God. Don’t let him do that. He just takes anything he
can in that mouthful, it’s a savaging and you’ll bleed.

According to most Australians you meet, one of the above (pick any random
one) doesn’t bite, it urinates on you and that is what causes the bite mark.

To be honest, the most dangerous thing out here is with you every day. It’s
not a mammal, it’s not a reptile, it’s not an insect. It is in the sky every
bloody day. It is the Sun. It is the killer, and does more damage and kills
more people than any of the other stuff out here. And you can’t escape it,
your only defense is a bit of common sense.


Getting around
There is Easyrider. There is Greyhound. There is lift. There is plane. There
is train. There is walking.

I had to make difficult choices here with all of these options available to
me. Let’s start with walking. I might have mentioned how huge and
inhospitable Australia is. Walking anywhere in Australia is arduous, because
it is like walking in a cooker. It can be done, but I think Broome to Perth
would take about 400 years at a brisk pace. I had a couple of months, with
lots of sitting involved.

There is no train from Broome to Perth. There probably never will be. That’s
not the sort of thing that normally stops me doing something foolish, but
those are the facts. No train.

The plane is fast, and cheaper than going by land. However, then I would
have gotten to see the beautiful coast from a great height and not met all
those fantastic people (of course, in some situations that might have been
better). Thelma and Louise would have been no fun if they’d just gotten a
flight, would it?

I ruled out a lift because I didn’t want to be possibly stuck with Thelma
and Louise if it turned out that they were sociopaths on the run from the
law, or at least some obnoxious control freak determined to irritate his or
her passengers. And I wanted to get off and on where ever I liked.

Greyhound is fast, Greyhound is cheap. It is possible to get the hop-on
hop-off option, and see it all. But, you don’t really get to know your
fellow passengers, and you’ll be unceremoniously dumped at the your
destination at all hours of the day or night. Catching it isn’t much better

Which leaves Easyrider, which is a hop-on hop-off bus service for the
younger more adventurous traveller. Drink, sex and wheels. It costs somewhat
more than Greyhound, but you are dropped off to your hostel of choice at a
reasonable hour, leave at a somewhat reasonable hour, and you get a great
social life – take my word for it. As it happens, in real life this is
Thelma and Louise’s favoured option for travelling. You also get running
commentary by deranged drivers, see the sites, get somewhat questionable
advice on what you can do and where to stay, and have a hell of a lot of


The Problem with Australia
The problem with Australia is that there is continual emmigration. I was
toying with this theory a bit but Mick and Wendy explained and articulated
it very well. It is that every wave of emmigrants to Australia takes a few
(hundred) years to get to grips with being in Australia, it’s heritage, it’s
environment, it’s society and it’s problems. And no sooner do they do that
then there’s another wave crashing in and they too have to learn, and
meanwhile cause destabilisation and damage.

Personally, I see a huge problem in the Eurocentric view of white Western
Europeans, where wildlife still means foxes and rabbits, and a cat is pet
instead of an ecological timebomb. Just as an example. They also expect
things to work as they do in Europe, and try to bend the environment to the
same as what they’re used to, living in air conditioned bubbles. It’s pretty
depressing actually.


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