My apologies for not being able to update my blog. I was in Alice Springs without internet or cell phone service, and therefore unable to make any updates!

Before I begin to describe my wonderful adventures in the Outback, I would like to make a side note – I’M HOME! I arrived back in Canada Sunday May 29 at 1:00am. Most people have been saying, “Oh no! That sucks you had to come home so early!” So before you start thinking that, I would like to explain that it was MY choice to come home early, and for a variety of legit reasons.

Sunday May 22

This morning Ian and I flew to Alice Springs from Cairns at 11:35. With only 30 minutes of a time difference (Alice Springs is 30 minutes behind Cairns time), we landed at 1:00, Alice time.

Peeking out the window of the airplane as we were landing excited me. I have been so use to seeing “city” from an eagle-eye view, but now I was in the Outback, and the ground was red and orange.

Not much changed when we stepped off of the plane. Red and orange dirt covered the land. High mountains were towering over us, dark orange with tints of red and lush green (as the rainy season that just past in Alice was heavy this year).

After hopping on a bus to our hostel, we stopped at the famous landmark: the welcoming sign to Alice Springs!

It was a pleasant change of scenery, compared to all of the other cities I’ve visited in Australia thus far. Alice is somewhat sad, however. It’s full of aboriginal people who look less fortunate, with many being homeless in the city. “In town” consists of a few big stores, such as K-Mart and Coles. There’s not much to it here, but that’s why it’s so beautiful: the abandon, the simplicity of the town yet the complexity of nature, the people.

The weather was gorgeous too: 30 degrees with a nice breeze and a few white clouds in the sky. I spent the afternoon lounging by my hostels (Haven Backpackers Hostel & Resort) small pool, reading Cosmo and lathering on the sunscreen every half-hour. It felt like home in a sense. I was so very content.

Monday May 23
*(Please excuse the point-form blog from here on out)
– Ian and I were picked up at 6:10am by Adventure Tours for our exploration of The Outback!
– Stopped at a camel farm were we were able to go on a camel ride:
– …and play with domesticated Dingos:
– Continued on our way to Uluru/Ayers Rock and Kata Tjuta
– Hiked through Kata Tjuta (translates to “Many Heads”)
– Rocks go 6K deep
– Fly nets = best. invention. ever.
– Ended the day at Uluru/Ayers Rock and sipped champagne during sunset:

Tuesday May 24
– Woke up at 5:00am to watch the sunrise at Ayers Rock/Uluru
– Walked the base of Ayers Rock (almost 10K, a 2.5 hour walk) 

– Spent the rest of the day exploring more of the rock and visiting the Aboriginal Art Centre. Continued our adventure and drove to our campground at Kings Canyon.

Wednesday May 25
– Woke up at 6:30 (heard wild dingos howling in the early morning). Drove to Kings Canyon. Walked throughout the canyon for 3 hours.

– Drove to Glen Helen after lunch on the Marinee Loop where we would be staying for the night.

Thursday May 26
– Drove to Palm springs and explored
– headed back to Alice Springs at our Haven Backpacker Hostel & Resort
– Flew to Melbourne the next day (27) and spent the night with friends there. My Australia Tour was officially over 😦 I flew back to Canada on the 28 of May from Melbourne – LA – Dallas – Toronto.

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Surfing Photos have been FOUND!

I’m super stoked because my Surfing photo’s taken of me have finally been found! The pics of me Scuba Diving I’m afraid are forever lost, but at least I got these babies! Enjoy!

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A chill day in Cairns

Ever since I came to Cairns I’ve been doing some pretty crazy and adventurous things, so today I decided to take it easy and explore the city while the sun was shining.

Ian and I went to the local markets which sold heaps of things from fruits to veggies and clothes to jewelry.

We walked along the pier by the ocean. It was a gorgeous day! Taking advantage of the pier and the sun, I decided to head back to my hostel and change into my running gear. I jogged along the ocean with mountains in the distance and the sun beaming on my face. I passed a wedding, children playing, and lovers on the grass under the trees.

For dinner Ian and I decided to head back to our favourite restaurant, Pier Bar and Grill for the last time.

On a side note, I’m not sure how my internet will be for the next few days, as I’ll be in the OUTBACK! So, forgive me if I do not update my blog on a daily basis. I’m flying to Alice Springs tomorrow morning where I’ll be exploring Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, and Glen Helen.

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Under the Sea!

Friday May 20

*NOTE: I haven’t been having much luck when it comes to receiving professional pictures during excursions. For example, I bought 5 photos for $20 at Spot X Surf Camp and I yet to still receive them (they are no where to be found on the website). And of course, the pictures snapped of my Scuba Diving group malfunctioned. I may be able to still buy my Scuba Diving photos if they turn out, but we’ll have to wait and see. My apologies for the lack of Scuba photos. 😦

Today, Ian and I were picked up by Tusa Dive (website here) at 7:25am. We drove for about 5 minutes to the pier where we hopped on a Snorkeling and Scuba Diving Boat!!!!!
 Tusa Dive really hooked us up – Ian and I were each given a snorkeling pass and a complimentary introductory scuba dive (gives those without a Scuba Diving License a chance to dive)! So, for a girl like me who is dying to go diving and doesn’t have her license – this was amazing!!!!
My small group of 3 was given basic instructions during the boat ride to The Great Barrier Reef by dive instructor, Jay. Jay was helpful, enthusiastic and created a comfortable atmosphere for us newbies. However, as I was sitting there listening to the basics, I started to feel a little bit nervous! I’ve done some pretty wild things before like skydiving and bungee jumping, and usually I’m not nervous at all… but all the rules about breathing and hand signals and oxygen and air pressure and ears popping and lungs expanding kind of freaked me out.

Before I knew it, we were at the part of the reef called Hastings and I was slipping on a wet wetsuit, shoes, a mask, weights on my back, an oxygen tank, and flippers. We jumped into the water and held on to the side of the boat to practice some of the steps one would need to take if they got water in their mask, or if there oxygen tube got knocked out of their mouth.

We swam over to a rope leading down to the bottom of the sea. It was covered in living moss, and we slowly (you have to de-pressurize your ears and lungs, so you have to go down slow… basically if you go down too fast you will explode, or something crazy) started to go deeper and deeper down. The girl above me in my group was having problems with her ears, so Jay had to tend to her for a few minutes while myself and my other fellow diver chilled and held onto the rope. Because I wasn’t being distracted by instructions, I started to think. I started to think about the “what ifs” and all these crazy thoughts started running through my head while being submerged in the cloudy water and breathing deeply through an oxygen mask. In my head, I started to panic. Then I realized what I was doing – I was thinking. I was totally freaking myself out. I quickly got out of that stage and started thinking positively (it was at this point in time where I gave kudos to anyone who has scuba dived before) – mind over matter!!!

Next thing I knew we were at the reef. Everything from here felt like a dream. It honestly didn’t feel like real life. I saw fish and plants I had only seen on the discovery channel, I saw coral that glowed neon blue. I felt like Alice in Alice in Wonderland. Clams that I would usually hold in the palm of my hand were the size of me; fish the size of my leg that I only saw in aquariums were right in front of me. Heaps of different kinds of fish were swimming around and interacting with each other. It was a whole new world.
After my first dive, I snorkeled for a bit (but it didn’t compare to diving), and then I decided to go on another dive! I knew that my second dive would be even better than my first because I would be more comfortable and know what to expect. Unfortunately, Ian fell a little sea sick and wasn’t allowed to dive due to his asthma, so I was able to go on two dives for free!

My prediction was true, and I was more comfortable and much more at ease during my second dive. I was able to see more diverse fish (a lionfish! – I really wanted to see one), however there were no sharks around, which I was actually disappointed about because I really wanted to see one!!!

By now it was noon, and a buffet-style lunch was served. For the rest of the afternoon I chilled out on the boat and enjoyed the gorgeous sunshine. We were so lucky today with the weather! The sea was a bit cloudy and rocky, but the sun was out for most of the day and it didn’t rain! Hooray!!!!!!!

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Awake my soul

Thursday May 19

This morning is was beautiful. The sun was shining and it seemed like most of the rain had come and gone through the night. I changed into my bathing suit and headed down to the beach. I was only out for about an hour when the dark sky started to roll in. I packed up my stuff and made it back just in time (once again) before the serious rain poured down (one of these days I’m not going to get as lucky!).

It rained on and off throughout lunchtime and then started to clear up. The weather is so on and off here! I decided to hit up the beach again and just walk around listening to my iPod while collecting seashells and writing messages of love in the sand.

Ian and I got picked up from PKs Jungle Village at 4pm and headed back to Gilligans Hostel & Resort in Cairns. The bus ride was during sunset, so it was absolutely gorgeous. Everything was lush because of the rainfall, and the sun gave life to the surrounding mountains.

And then it started to rain, and the sky turned dark, and the roads got super windy and turny, and I started to feel nauseous.

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In the jungle, the mighty jungle

Wednesday May 18

Today Ian and I were picked up at 7:15am by Jungle Tours. We took a bus up the coast along the Captain Hook Highway to Port Douglas. Our driver, Steve, stopped a few times on the way for some scenic views.

(The following beach is where the movie, Fools Gold was shot!)
 Our first stop was The Wildlife Habitat – home to animals such as the endangered Cassowary (only about 1000 left in Oz), crocodiles, koalas, and of course, wallabies and kangaroos!

I was pretty darn stoked to feed the wallabies and kangas again – I’m so in love with them!

Our next stop was the Daintree River Cruise, where we took a small boat out into the river in the hunt to shoot crocodiles (by shoot I mean shoot pictures), birds, and other wildlife as we cruised through the mangroves.
 When I was about three years old, my parents took me to Disney Land. Although I have absolutely no memory of the vacation, my Dad took a numerous amount of family videos while we were there. While on the boat in the river on the look out for crocodiles and surrounded by jungle, my memory shot back to the footage my Dad took while riding one of those fake “jungle rides” in Disney Land (where you take a “boat” along a “jungle” and spot the “crocodiles” that come out of the river snapping and such). It was exactly like that ride – except real life! Our guide turned off the motor on the boat and we just sat there in silence, listening to natures lullabies. I closed my eyes and listened to the wind and the birds and the water. It sounded like a track playing at yoga studio or a massage parlor – except, yet again, it was real life!

After a picnic lunch, we took a cable ferry and crossed the river to Daintree National Park, where we walked through the jungle (Daintree Cape Tribulation World Heritage Rainforest of Australia) and then stay over night at PK’s Jungle Village (www.pksjunglevillage.com.au), in the heart of Cape Tribulation. The jungle was so untouched – it was nice to witness something so real, so living. Our guide informed us that this rainforest was actually more ancient and unharmed (by humans) than the Amazon Rainforest.
 After getting dropped of at the backpackers hostel, I decided to head down to the beach (minutes away from the hostel) and go for a run. It was cloudy and the sky would drizzle rain on and off, so I couldn’t exactly lay out on the beach and work on my tan today. I stretched along the boardwalk in the jungle leading towards the beach. Once I got there, its beauty and abandon struck me. There was about 5 people including myself on the beach, all who were walking in the distance on either side. I started running, loving the crashing waves and the shifting dark sky. I stopped in the middle of my run and walked towards the water. With Mumford and Sons blasting in my ears, I looked out at the ocean and the mountains and reached my hands up. My body was pumping with adrenaline and I let the wind refresh me. The feeling I was experiencing is so indescribable… everything was so beautiful. A feeling of “existing” came over me… like “hey, I’m alive… I’m living, and it’s wild.” I couldn’t stop grinning. Another stop and think moment rushed through me. I was so ecstatic, so alive.

I walked over to some rocks by the water that held tons of little seashells. I crunched over and watched as the tiny shells would slightly move. The still rock was full of life, and I just sat there peeking at whatever living thing was in the shells. I spotted a few small fish in the puddles, and the tiniest crab crawling around – so camouflage and inexistent to any walker bys.

 I got back to my room just in time for yet another short downpour of rain (I was lucky during my run because the dark clouds were slowly blowing away from the beach). After eating a tasty Greek salad for dinner at the hostels restaurant and chatting it up with fellow backpackers, I took a long, hot shower, wrote this blog, and curled up into bed.

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“Everyday, you should do something that scares you. It reminds you you’re still alive.”

Tuesday May 17

This morning I woke up in a foul mood. I was upset because I was hoping to finally get my iPhone back (that I had lost over a week ago) last night when arriving at the hostel, but no luck. This morning I had checked again, and they said the same thing – they had no idea what I was talking about. I felt sick this morning too, and the weather was crappy.

It was my first morning in Cairns. I was able to sleep in and stay in a beautiful hostel (Gilligans – www.gilligans.com.au) with my own, gorgeous, private room. However my mood was taking over. Ian and I decided to go do something around noon, and that’s when things started to look up.

A lady in marketing named Vanessa that works at the hostel greeted me with my iPhone. I smothered her (the iPhone) in kisses and told her that “Mama would never loose her again”. One minute later, I booked a bungee jumping excursion that I would leave for in 5 minutes. The sun was breaking through the sky. Everything suddenly shifted.

I was happy again. I was happy and STOKED. I was going bungee jumping. I was about to jump off of a platform 164 feet in the air into a small pond-type thing. I was about to cross yet another thing off of my bucket list. I was in Cairns! I felt like a little girl.

We hopped on the bus that provided free transportation to AJ Hackett. After a scenic 20-minute drive, our group of about 8 arrived! We signed in, weighed in, and psyched ourselves up for the crazy jump. We had to walk up a few flights of stairs, and then there we were… at the top of the tower! The weather wasn’t GREAT, but it wasn’t horrible either. It was drizzle-raining and cloudy, but not too cold, and luckily the rain stopped at my turn to jump.
Two friendly Aussies tied a cloth-like material around my ankles and buckled me up with harnesses and ropes. I shimmied over to the edge (I felt like I was a pirate walking the plank), looked up at the beautiful trees, mountains, and ocean in the distance, and…….
I felt like a bird. A free bird just soaring into the air – and then I dropped. The drop felt so fast, and just when your about the hit the water, you get sling-shotted back up from the bungee rope. The blood rushed to my head and face, but it was all good because I couldn’t stop laughing (and screaming & swearing).

A fellow on a paddleboat paddled out to grab me, I reached for a stick and was gently laid onto the little boat.
We took the bus back just in time for dinner, where Ian and I stopped at a Pier Bar & Grill – $10 dinner meals (a meal being a steak, salad, and fries) that included a beverage (even beer or wine!).

Unbelievable! Cheap and so yummy – and it was just across from the ocean!  I chopped on my delicious salad and flat bread with pesto dip while wearing my new fedora– life is beautiful.


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