BACKPACKING DAYS -Part 1

AUSTRALIA-From Nov.04-June 05/August 05-Sep.05

This where it all began...my LOVE of travelling started here and if i'm being honest i would never have carried it on if my time in Oz had'nt been so significant & influential on me! The term ''went away a boy & came back a man'' is maybe a bit too OTT as i was 28 when i went to Oz but i know myself & from what other people have said it changed me for the better !!

From the time i landed in Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport & made my way to my very first backpacker hostel(Base Wanderers on Kent St.)i was pretty much buzzing with excitement,though in the run up to the date of my departure despite all of the questions & comments from friends & family it never really hit me...the magnitude of what i was doing,until that morning when i woke up knowing that this would be the last time in a whole YEAR i would wake up in my own bed !!!

Sydney was a total eye-opener to begin with...coming from a small town in the Welsh Valleys to such a big cosmopoiltan city in Oz with it's huge high-rises & neon lights ...24 hours a day/7 days a week ! I spent the first 6 weeks there in Base partying before moving on to a shared backpacker house in Ultimo..& partied there instead...EXCELLANT times & i made some great friends from that time.....a few of which i'v managed to meet up with since we've all got back home !!!

After 3 months of destroying my liver by night & my camera by day i knew it was time to move on.So headed down to Melbourne looking for work,via the capitol Canberra.After doing all the tourist stuff in Melbourne,which i loved as it's such a cool city,i headed to Shepparton to do some fruit-picking...highlights of Melbourne for me though were visiting the gaol where Ned Kelly was held & subsequently hung !!,eating out on Lygon St,which is reminiscent of Mediterranean Europe with its gourmet pavement restaurants & sunny laid-back atmosphere,going to the world-famous MCC,catching the bus to Pin Oak Court...famous for it's alter-ego Ramsey Street,Erinsborough !!! & attending the Aussie Grand Prix at Albert Park...i also loved the beachside suberb of St. Kilda..which reminded me of Bondi/Coogee/Manly back in Sydney !! Cue forward 6 weeks of tedious boring hard-graft picking the indigenous Nashy Pear in the hot Victoria sun & it was back to Melbourne for a few days before getting the plane down to Launceston,Tasmania where i met up with Dan,a mate from the hostel in Sydney !! We travelled arround a bit & worked in Taz & also enjoyed a day out at Cradle Mountain,a huge National Park where we seen the Tasmanian Devils,climbed mountains & i discovered my fear of heights...much to the amusement of Dan & Tom,an Aussie guy from the hostel in Launceston !!!

We got the overnight ferry back to the North Island,as the Tasmanians like to call the Mainland !!,had a week in another Melbourne hostel then ineveitably(as you do while backpacking!)went our seperate ways as Dan went back to Sydney & i went West to Adelaide on an overnight bus for a day,then further West again on the Indian Pacific for 3 days & 2 nights across the Nullabor Plain to Perth.WHAT AN EXPERIENCE !!!!!...hardly anything but red sandy desert & the odd shrub for all that time,well untill we reached the towns of Cook & Kalgoorlie...the former with a population of just 2 !!!! & the latter full of hairy-arsed horny Gold miners,who in age old tradition pile into the town after their shift ready for some fun,as prostitution & brothels are totally legal !!!

When we finally arrived in Perth it was a welcome relief...the thought of a bed & shower was on my mind for a while & such a joy when i finally got to enjoy it..but not at your usual bog-standard backpacker hostel..i was stepping up a notch for a few days,staying with ''relo's'' on my Mothers side who i had only met twice before !!! It was excellant enjoying home-cooked food & the privacy of my own room but alas i needed to move on & make some $$'s so i found work,apple picking in the town of Donnybrook,a few hours to the South of Perth via an agency.

Before i was able to start i had a 5 day window so got in touch with some guys 'n gals from the train journey across & we done a road trip arround the South East of WA.Six of us in a hired people carrier seeing some cool places such as Margaret River,Albany,Freemantle etc...enjoying the open road & the wonderfull backpackers life !!! Unfortunately to do that you need money of course so off i went down to Donnybrook.. another hostel,more new people to meet !! Everyone there was there for one thing..and that was to pick apples.A bit mad that all these young people from all over the world gathered there to do that & make some money ...but come the weekend there was allways some great parties going on !!! Mix a hostel full of young people,a guitar & numerous boxes of ''goon''(cheap Aussie boxed wine) & wicked times are to be had !!!

Six weeks later all the apples in Donnybrooks orchards had been picked & it was time to move on again,so i headed back to Perth for a few days,then flew back to Sydney,then on to Christchurch,NZ(see Backpacking Days Part 3).After a great 5 weeks in NZ i was back in Oz & rather predictably skint again so headed North to Brisbane.

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