Although ‘The Asylum’ in Cairns had a strangulating effect upon our travels, eleven days following our arrival we broke free from its malevolent trance and continued our tour of Australia.
Aboard the Greyhound bus service again, we commuted towards Airlie Beach which provided a base for exploring the Whitsunday Islands. The journey there however provided a story of true human valour as Pepe, dehydrated, starving and exasperated, hitchhiked, ran, stumbled, fumbled and navigated his way to a supermarket within 35 minutes (in what would normally take twice as long), carrying not only his own stack of replenishing foods, but two bottles of water for Jakey, during a 40 minutes stop-over in Townsville. During this, Jakey was engaged in the noble task of watching our bags.
Triumphantly ebullient after the aforementioned facade, we visited the Whitsunday Islands the following day via an ‘Ocean Raft’ – an inflatable banana boat fully contained with seats and an engine. The pinnacle of this excursion was the ‘Whitsunday Island’ itself whose icy white, crystalised sand and rich blue surrounding sea was the idyllic epitome of a plush paradise. Paradise Found soon reverted back to Paradise Lost as we departed frmo the island back to Airlie Beach however, particularly because Pepe, in desperate need of emancipating his bladder, had to boldly ask the driver to stop the boat before his organs capitulated. To his surprise, Pepe was followed by a line of men queing up behind him, empathising with his toil and subsequently joining him in an intimate simultaneous urination.
One empty bladder and day later we departed Airlie Beach for Harvey Bay. Inauspiciously , the journey’s duration was elongated by five hours because our bus broke down at 2 a.m, resulting in it lasting 17 hours in total. Isolated in the pervasive abyss of Australia, another coach with limited seats came to offer a refuge to those who needed transporting immediately. This eventually left two seats available. Jakey, with his shrewd intuition, impulsively pounced on the opportunity to seize the coverted prize, but two women, one English, on Canadian, demanded them too.
The compromise: the flick of a coin to determine which party should obtain the only method of transport until the original moribund bus was fixed. Jakey picked heads, they retorted “tails”.
The result: We had to wait until the mechanic arrived.
Two days alter we were on a three-day-self-drive jeep safari of Fraser Island with nine other people. Unbeknown to us at the time, two women in our group, one who happened to be English, the other Canadian, named Hel and Mel respectively, were those who swindled us out of a premature evasion of the debilitating broken bus. Nevertheless, even after this revelation emerged, our relationships were destitute of animosity. During the tour itself we visited the emerald ‘Lake Wabbi’, the jovial ‘Airlie Creek’, the disappointing ‘Champagne Pools’ and the pristinely lucid waters of the renowned ‘Lake McKenzie’.
After Fraser Island we entered the ‘Sunshine Coast’. Our first destination, Rainbow Beach, was so intriguing and captivating that we left the following day for Noosa.
In Noosa, before we met up with the guru’s (the guru being Anthony Jacobs, of course) girlfriend, Gemma Basger, and her travelling partner Caroline, we visited Noosa’s National Park with Daniel Weintraub, which, in the stifling heat, was an assiduous experience. As an ensemble comprised of the two girls, Pepe and Jakey, the motley gang visited the prestigious world famous ‘Australia Zoo’, which is owned by Australia’s chief cultural icon; the erratically vivacious Steve Irwell who has devised more quintessentially Australian maxims than years they can boast independence. Unfortunately, not only was the zoo sparsely inhabited by animals, but the weather was as sullen as an old decadent Victorian edifice. Nevertheless, for only an extra $15AUD (6 pounds sterling) we managed to have a photograph with a koala which was so ineffably elated by the whole affair that it decided to shit all over Gemma.
Back in Noosa’s youth hostel Pepe also met a youthful American teacher from Chicago. Despite frivolously frightening him with nostalgic stories from our high school, Pepe also indulged (finally!) in several memorable stimulating book discussions ranging from Kafka to Salinger.
After departing the Sunshine Coast we arrived in Brisbane, the capital of the Gold Coast. Brisbane is most aptly described as a humble city; whilst possessing all the quintessential traits of a thriving, aspiring metropolis – complete with salient skyscrapers – it is bereft of the perpetual tumult found in even the smallest of integral cities. The Brisbane Bridge which dominated the landscape, acted in absolute synthesis with the adjacent river that salubriously shimmered the reflection of the lugubrious skyward towers located behind it. We saw the city, walked along the riverfront boardwalk and then soon left, visiting Surfers Paradise – a contemporary, clean and cordial Australian alternative to Blackpool – for a day before arriving in the esteemed Byron Bay.
A liberally lethargic atmosphere permeated throughout this bustlign town where your daily activites are essentially limited to to surfing, eating, surfing, drinking and sleeping. That we could not surf provided an intrinsic problem. Nevertheless, we still tried as Jakey overcame his crippling fear of Jaws, but to no avail.
Fatalistically, during our first complete day in Byron Bay, we saw Matt and Sabrina – two French-Canadians who we met in Koh Phag Ngah, Thailand – whom we spent the night (which happened to be ‘Australia Day’) with. Initially, when we sat by the beach-side, nonchalantly talking and drinking, a hippy-ensemble gratuitously played percussion instruments for the inebriated crowd to enjoy, which epitomised the Byron Bay lifestyle.
After we had grown wearisome of attempting and subsequently failing to surf, we indulged in other activites. One day we went on a three hour walk up the nearby hills surrounding Byron Bay, reaching, a lighthouse. This landmark however was the most Easterly point in Australia!
Another day we participated in an interhostel five-a-side tornament where our team, ‘The Pommeys’ won the $100 bar tab, primarily due to Jakey’s consistently astute footwork and Pepe’s final, critical goal.
Our final day in Byron Bay was actually spent in the deranged nearby town of Nimbin. Here, although any act of soliciting drugs is illegal, it is widely accepted, and as soon as we stepped off our ‘Happy Coach’ tour bus, we were surrounded by masses of hopeful, determined, honest and geinal drug dealers, offering the lastest “hit” or “cookie”. The general inhabitants of this village were still embedded in their own archaic paradigm from the 70’s, with the conventional attire comprising of flared jeans and exuberant scarves and draping, multicoloured vests.
Following the regressive hippy experiences of Nimbin and Byron Bay we stopped off in Newcastle, primarily due to the novelty, which was dirty, decadent, grimy and repugnant. After Jakey was mercilessly confined to standing on the table when he saw a rummaging mouse navigating its way through the kitchen in our youth hostel, we both realised that the one day we spent in Newcastle was superfluous and therefore we soon left for a small unknown city named Sydney.
In Sydney we thoroughly explored the city centre, four suburbs, four beaches, the opera house and habour bridge. We could write a thesis on each one of these experiences, plus many more.
But we won’t.
Somewhat propitiously, we stayed in an apartment located near Darling Harbour with Sophie Statman; a girl Jakey knew from Leeds. This enabled us to experience what it is like living in Sydney, allowing us to inhale the uniquely dynamic atmosphere of the city.
To Jakey’s frolicsome glee we visited Palm Beach a.k.a Summer Bay, where ‘Home & Away’ is filmed. Being British we inevitably also spent a day on Bondi Beach which was glum, morose and sullen, yet it still contained its own disparate identity to the rest of Sydney due to its suburban ethos.
As for the rest of of Sydney, we will allow the photographs to exude the fundamentals of experience, while reserving our numerous interminiable stories, ranging from the Blue Mountains to the return of ‘The Asylum’ in Kings Cross to watching the sun gracefully drift behind the Opera House at sunset, for our return back home.
Two weeks following our arrival in Sydney we boarded the bus again which drove to Canberra. This adroitely crafted city where the streets interweaved to deftly supply a matrix of tangible viewpoints was destitute of the habitual enunciatory presence usually associated with a capital city. Nevertheless this disposition immediately recedes as you enter the ‘New Parliament Building’ where we watched a session of ‘Question Time’. The political pandemonium presented in this hour was rancorous and primitve as the elected officials sinisterly marked their perceived ideological territory, refuting all claims that the opposition made, even they were akin to their own.
From the South-East of Australia we accumulatively commuted for approximately 40 hours to reach ‘The Red Centre’. Here we saw Ayers Rock (Uluru) which is a capacious monolith staunchly standing alone. The sunsets in this region were transcendingly lascivious with the delicate, ethereal sky transforming its radiating spectrum of colours several times. ‘The rock’ itself was so self-imposing that we both had to invariably climb it, which was a prolonged requisite that that allowed us to view the varying array of excavations and contours which make it such an egregious sight, At night we slept under swag – a spacious sleeping bag, complete with matress – in the remote isolation of a desert where the efflorescent stars appeared like raindrops, saturating the whole sky. In the ‘Red Centre’ we also engaged on two treks – one of Kings Canyon which had a plethora of rippling totem-esque rock and ‘The Olgas’ which open up like the ‘Red Sea’.
Via the journey back to Melbourne in the South-East, we resided in Adelaide for three nights. Auspiciously, the day we arrived was the beginning of the ‘Adelaide Fringe Festival; a conspicuously subordinate Southern Hemisphere alternative to the Edinburgh Fringe. Despite this, the opening ceremony’s night parade was loud and flamboyant with an abundance of processions promoting their shows. Whilst Pepe watched two shows in Adelaide (a Chekhov and an Ionesco), Jakey visited Gleneld Beach which found mediocre.
Finally, we arrived in our last Australian destination – Melbourne. When juxtaposed against Sydney’s turbulent and spendthrift milieu, Melbourne has a distinctly European atmosphere with trams gliding through the city centre and a surplus of quaint independent cafes bespeckled across the streets.
Altruistically, Mel and Hel from Fraser Island, who were now residing in the city, allowed us to sleep in their apartment for the duration of our stay.
Jakey completed his indulgent Australian-Soap-Opera voyage by visiting Ramsay Street where filming was underway. To those of you who fervently watch this mundane and senseless sitcom – BOYD GETS MARRIED!!!11!
We also embarked on two organised trips – one to Phillip Island, the other to the Great Ocean Road. The former offered us a ‘penguin parade’ at night which was uninspiring and meagre. Jakey’s polemical refutation of the rules by taking a flash photograph of the fumbling creatures however, which consequently resulted in a pervasive gasph of shock and horror from the onlooking crowrd, did provide some light entertainment to the night. The latter trip ultimately took us to visit several protruding rock emerging from the ocean, which have recently been named ‘The Twelve Apostles’. Although the sun was submerged behind the grey, gloomy clouds, the contrast between the azure ocean and the milky pinnacles was unique and panoramic.
And now, we have abandoned the warm comforting climate of Australia for the brisk, windy plains of New Zealand…