Though a straight line appears to be the shortest distance between 2 points, life has a way of confounding geography. Often it is the dalliances and the detours that define us. There are no maps to guide our most important searches; we must rely on hope, chance, intuition and a willingness to be surprised.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Filling the gaps

(North Sydney - sunset)

Been so busy 'doing' 'stuff' in the last month that it took me forever to galvanise myself and update the website on Tasmania. That feels like ages ago now and I've been up to lots of other stuff...

Main news is that I have found somewhere to live... And it's not a youth hostel....

In fact it's really posh.

Sydney can be split into north, south, east and west regions. At least, that's the way Sydney Buses carve up the city for the purpose of organising their bus routes. East Sydney covers all the beaches and posh areas south of the harbour (eg Bondi, Bronte, Paddington etc). South Sydney covers everything from the central business district to the airport. West Sydney is best forgotten about and North Sydney is everything north of the harbour, including all the posh little bays that the ferries go to from the main ferry port. Through persistence and sheer luck I've managed to get myself a room in the poshest postcode in town.

(Surfer - Kiama beach)

I'm living on a little peninsula called Cremorne Point. Originally a park and gardens in the nineteenth century, most of the houses were built in the 1920s and 1930s and are designed in a fantastic artistic and ornate style with touches of art nouveau and classical architecture.
(Above - view out of the dining room window.)

The house I'm living in has been converted into five apartments and I am sharing one of these apartments with an Australian couple. The flat itself seems very comfortable and 'well presented'. More exciting is my commute to work, which consists of a one-minute walk through the trees to a tiny ferry pier, from where I catch a ferry for a 15 minute journey across the harbour between the Opera House and the Harbour and then have a 5 minute walk to work. To be honest, it's not the most practical location in town - especially when leaving the 24-hour bars in town - but it's a pretty special place to stay for a couple of months.
(Below - view from the ferry on the way to work.)
Another big development - for the blog at least - is an investment in a new camera. This was a bit of a birthday present for myself. I've become very keen on photography since starting this trip and wanted something a bit more professional that would give me better results. The camera arrived just in time for the Tasmania trip so hopefully you can tell the difference!

(Right - ok it's only a seagull! But it was pretty far away... Hopefully a sign of better wildlife photography to come.)

I've also since bought wide angle and telephoto lenses for the camera. The wide-angle will allow for panoramic shots, while I can now get 24x optical zoom which should be able to get some extreme close-ups and hopefully more effective wildlife pictures.

(Canon S3-IS. 6.0MP and 12x optical zoom. Right with telephoto lens.)
(Really pleased with results so far as the following shots hopefully show...)

(Above - wide angle gives a pretty satisfying panoramic shot. This is taken from the roof of the hostel I stayed in for a few days in Darlinghurst. The Sydney Tower - tallest building in Sydney - is in the centre of the shot, at a distance of about a mile)

(Above - at maximum zoom (24x) you get a pretty good close-up of the top of the Sydney Tower from the same position)

Work on Chris' house is going a great rate and he hopes to be in by Easter. That's largely due to professionals taking over the trickier work! Above shows the end of a long day back when the amateurs were running the show.

Lastly, it was good to catch up with fellow travellers from South America on email last week - and to catch up with Alison in person. Here's a great photo I just got sent to me from Christmas Day

Tasmania (Part Three - The Final Reckoning)

After many months of blogging on my own (on-and-on-and-onanism you could call it), it's time for a bit of balance on the Big Trip website.

It's with great pleasure that I welcome a guest contributor to the website. With his own perspective on the great Tasmanian adventure, here's a word from my fellow trekker, Chris...

Being in Australia , so far from home and on the far side of the world, its been really great to have an old friend to stay. It is great to follow Calum carrying out his charity work in Belize and I must admit his recent interest in philanthropy has certainly put me to shame. After a hard weeks charity work in Sydney he can now spend all weekend with a hangover on Bondi beach (dodgy Speedos by the way Calum!), totally guilt free!!

As this section of the Blog is ‘Tasmania Part 3’ i should give you some info on the trip. Despite Calum enthusiastically ticking the questionnaire at the end of the Overland Track – “it was just another bush walk really - I’ve heard there is absolutely amazing scenery in Patagonia” his judgment must have been dulled by the prospect of another meal of dried pasta and spending another sleepless night with huntsman spiders, tiger snakes, possums, and ‘Kevin the ipod wearing teenage backpacker’. I meanwhile was communing with nature and generally ticking – “one of the best things I’ve done in the last 12 months”.
(Before - Possums to the left of us, foodbags to the right, and a two-man (two-midget) tent in the middle.)

(After - with several measures of whisky, drunk straight from the (plastic) bottle, Calum eventually gets some much-needed shut-eye)

On reflection I think he felt he had sold it short. The crystal clear skies, really unusual rock formations, which reminded me of monument valley in the States, the amount of wildlife, pristine rivers,..etc! really amazed us from start to finish. Combined with the manly, physical pursuit of climbing mountains every day (yes – every day – most people climb one every year or so but we got so into climbing mountains towards the end we were springing out of bed at dawn, racing to our destination and quite frequently getting there before anybody else in the track – even young Kev!) I must say we were in our element. The photographs speak for themselves.

The long hours of walking also allowed us time to catch up and discuss some really big topics like..erm…erm..drinking, women and cars - as those of you who did some walking with Calum on the mammoth 500 mile fund raiser can probably testify to. It’s interesting how, despite the fact you have more space than you can shake a mammoth stick at, how small your world becomes when you are walking for days in the middle of nowhere. Literally the size of a tent or a hut and the people you are with or meet along the way become so interesting to you. Needless to say we had psychoanalyzed every single person walking on the track by Day 2 – poor Kevin!! - and it was amazing that even when we bumped into the same people in Hobart as few days later it was a though we had known them for years.

Really though – it was great to catch up with Calum over the miles after about 10 years of separation and it is going to be sad to see him leave Australia for the rest of his amazing trip. I must admit I am doing all I can to talk him into staying (or returning after the rest of his trip) - for at least a few more years.

A big hello to all our mutual friends who are following Calum’s progress.

(End of an adventure - the final Day.)