Saturday, July 28, 2007

Nei Ho from Hong Kong!

Errrr.... quick bleary eyed blog from HK airport.

We've flown about 10 hours so far. Thank goodness we are in business class, because I'm feeling vaguely ill, and at least business class is comfortable and spacious. The Sky Beds are awesome! Might be because I tried to stay up as late as possible and only gone in about 4 hours sleep. Might be because I have eaten too much. Might be because no matter how much I drink I still feel dehydrated. At least we get a short break here to just chill a bit.

Gideon enjoying the comfort at the Melbourne Qantas Club lounge.
The plane was almost 1.5hrs late to start.
Plenty of time to enjoy Command & Conquer Tiberium Wars!

Have watched one movie so far (plus 2 episodes of Top Gear - yet to be shown in Aust, and a couple of episodes of Extras). Critique on the run...

Blades of Glory: 2.5/5

Cast: Will Ferrell (Stranger than fiction), Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite)

In a Nutshell: Cross between the Cutting Edge and Zoolander, but not quite as good as either.

Brief Synopsis: Two male enemy iceskaters at the top of their game get suspended from the circuit, and finda loophole that allows them to compete in the pairs skating.

Stock standard sposh for Ferrell, silly slapstick humour that is sometimes hilarious, and sometimes just stupid. Your level of enjoyment will depend a lot on your mood at the time of viewing. I was watching this at about 2am EST, so perhaps my sense of humour was somewhat subdued. But lets face it, an all male pairs skating team... it's comedy gold, you can hardly go wrong. Ferrell does his usual thing, and Heder is not bad as the other main character (there's something about him that I just like). However it was Will Arnett, of Arrested Development fame, who was a standout for me as one of the members of the arch rival pairs team.

Any that's all for now.... signing off from HK. g xoxo

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Farewell Dear Darwin

This morning I was walking through Darwin town on my way to the bookshop to pickup my preordered copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and actually had a moment of teariness at the thought of leaving Darwin. While I'm a city girl, Darwin (even though, it technically is a city, it's not a big city) has been some fun, and not a bad way of life. I will miss Smith St Mall, Discovery, Throb, Mindil Beach Market, the bicycle ride to work, having almost everything within walking distance, dancing at the Strip Club Stoke Hill Wharf, the Esplanade, cheap Sushi Train, the dummies in the window of the adult shop that have extra big knockers, ...I'll even miss the local Woolies! Most of all I'll probably miss the kind people that I met, and of course the beautiful weather (especially while I'm freezing my arse of in an England winter).

Anyway, Goodbye Darwin, hopefully we will meet again.

Gayle xoxox



Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: 2.75/5

Cast: (Mostly the same as the previous episodes) Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton...etc.

In a nutshell: Below the high standard set by the previous two instalments.

Brief Synopsis: No one will believe Harry when he says You Know Who is back, and Dumbledore is ignoring him. To top it off, the Ministery of Magic is intefering with the running of Hogwarts. Will they all be ready for You Know Who's devastating return?

I recall that this was probably my least favourite of the six previously released Harry Potter books. There was a lot of talking, and not as much magic or action as the previous movies, with the exception of a few scenes. The movie is not much different, and in addition, the uninspired direction, almost average acting and only sometimes funny script all feels a little flat. There is too much of the book to try and fit into the movie, and yet it felt like there may have been a number scenes that are too long or unecessary. As a result, you barely get to see some of your favourite old characters eg. Malfoy, Professor McGonagall, Professor Lupin, hilarous one-lines from Ron Weasely, etc. Or of that matter, even the new characters are a bit wasted, eg. Helena Bonham Carter. Despite all of this, it is still a fun movie. Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge is a standout. It is just that Order of the Phoenix has the weight of so many Harry Potter fans on its still adolescent shoulders.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

See Below

Just a quick note. These blog entries are a little out of order, because I started the Broome Trip blog entry (All Roads to Kununurra, Part II) before the one complaining about packing, so the blogs are listed in that order even though I finished Part II afterwards. So please look below for all the photos and stories from the Broome Trip. : )

Also, update on the packing - it's all done! The removalists took away all of our boxes and paraphenalia this morning, and now I am sitting here in an airconditioned room, on a tiled floor, killing my back, typing this blog! Tomorrow the car gets taken away... My sister is going to have it for a bit until she can sell it (her car got stolen recently), or until someone says they are happy to borrow it for a year (at a substantially discounted amount of the lease)... Anyone interested??

or CAR ID 4340428.

Anyway... on Saturday we head back to Melbourne! Can't wait!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I am soooo over packing

Either I am completely indecisive or I have way too many clothes.. I have a feeling both are true. Trying to decide what is going in storage, what is getting air freighted and what to put in my suitcase is proving more difficult and time consuming than I thought. Half the problem is that I am so used to Darwin weather now, it is hard to remember what Melbourne is like in winter. I am sure, however, that everyone down there will tell me it is bloody cold!

The weather forecasts show that Melbourne is on average colder than England at the moment... it is supposed to be summer there, but at the same time, by all reports I think it is a cold summer this year... so should I pack summer clothes or winter clothes? I'm used to just throwing on a singlet and shorts! It's all too difficult!

Anyway, better get back to it.

Love g xoxo

ps. for those not already on facebook, check it out! It's a bit of fun... I've been using the Tetris tournament to avoid doing packing!

pps. I promise that the Broome trip blog is coming your way soon. I am in the middle of writing it, and it is proving to be a bit of a saga... but not long now!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

All Roads Lead to Kununurra Part II

Back to the story...

Trip Map

Joel, the guide, picked us up from our house at 6.30am on a Sunday morning. Too early. Heading out towards Katherine, Joel asked us "locals" whether the cloudy sky was normal for Darwin at this time of year. In truth, no, but it had done the same thing the last couple of days and cleared to a blue sky in the afternoon.

By about 11am, we reached Nitmiluk National Park where we did a picturesque walk up to Edith Falls.

On the walk to the falls

Gideon: Yay - we are on holiday!

A splash around at Edith Falls

By the time we got to Katherine Hot Springs for a bit of a dip it had started to spit... the sky, that is. A few drops doesn't hurt though. We soon made our way to our camp site for that night, it was to be our only caravan park site. Despite getting lost on the way back from the toilets, it was a most pleasant evening. After a yummy dinner of green curry cooked over coals, we had a few drinks around the fire, then lay out our swags under the stars for a peaceful dry and snuggly sleep.

The sizzling camp fire at Victoria River

The next morning we headed back out on the road for a bit to Gregory National Park, where is did a bit of a walk to get a good view of the Victoria River and sandstone hills.

That's Victoria River in the background

Squinty Eyes

Some very determined trees

That night we were to be camping on an island in the middle of Lake Argyle, a man made lake and currently Australia's largest lake.

Ord River Dam holds the water into Lake Argyle
The rock used to build the dam comes from just down the road. We were told that a "million tonnes" of TNT were used to blow up a hill causing the largest non-nuclear explosion in the southern hemisphere.

On the boat on the way to the island

Fish feeding
Very cool - you hold the bread about a metre above the water, and the fish spit water at it to knock it out of your hand. Normally the fish do it to catch insects.

Dying trees covered in spiderwebs and big spiders!

Serene Lake Argyle

Starting to wish that I had brought a fleece or wind proof jacket!


On Remote island searching for zebra rock

Some zebra rock and some cool spotty rock
- looks like someone has dripped some paint!

-Time to get back to camp for a delicious barbeque and some swag action.

Snug as a bug in a swag.
Waking up on the island the next morning for the "amazing sunrise",
dry despite the spitting that kept waking us up during the night.

Gideon looking chipper despite the cloudy sky and very unexciting sunrise in the background.
What's going on with the weather??

I was excited that morning - we were headed towards the Bungle Bungles - this is what I had come for! Unfortunately the strange very atypical dry season weather was proving to be a bit of a dampener on our spirits.

First we stopped of at Kununnara, one of the bigger towns in the area, to stock up on groceries for the next few days. Quite a small quiet town it didn't even have a bakery, although it did have two diamond shops and a 'Target Country'. Then back on the road towards the Bungles. By the time we got to Turkey Creek, it was really raining. :( We stopped off at the roadhouse so that Joel could check out the situation.

The road out to the Bungle Bungles and the Gibb River Road (another major section of our tour) are both unsealed and can get dangerously gnarly when wet. In particular, if you manage to get to the Bungles camp site, and then the roads get closed, you end up being stuck at the site, not being able to see anything until the road opens up again. If this road gets very wet, then driven on and damaged, once the rain stops and the road starts to harden again, it has to be regraded, and this could take many days.

A wet and soggy Turkey Creek

I'm cold dammit... at least there are some rainbows around

Many phone calls later, there was no conclusive answer. It had been raining pretty heavily, but the roads were still open. Rather than driving into the park and getting stuck, Joel decided it would be best to camp as close as possible to the dirt road leading to the Bungles, and then reassess the situation the next day.

Given the very low probability of rain in the dry season, the KAT tours don't really plan for wet weather. Luckily Joel was carrying one massive tarpaulin that we were able to fashion into an a-line tent sort of thing. That night we were relatively dry despite the heavy rain, thanks to the boys' ingenious digging of trenches around our 'tent' in order to stop the water running through. It was, however, freezing. I was wearing almost everything I brought, plus a couple of towels! The disappointment though, was that with such heavy rain all night, it was very unlikely that the road to the Bungles would be open the next day.

The next morning, it was still raining, and it was confirmed. The road to the Bungles was shut, but there was no confirmation of the Gibb River Road. The plan was to salvage at least the second half of the tour and hit all of the gorges and 4wd'ing on the Gibb River Road. So that day we headed back to the-somewhat-boring-Kununurra to stock up on groceries, and make a fine purchase of a fleece (it took a lot of searching, and even then all I could find was a red fleece in the boys section of Target Country). Then we headed towards the Gibb River Road.

Back on the Road
Sam, Esthi and Miia in high spirits despite the bad news and the lack of sight seeing.

The things we do to amuse ourselves when trapped in the back of a Landcruiser.

That night we ended up driving back and forth, and getting bogged at one stage, to find a flat and suitable campsite close to the start of the Gibb River Road. We ended up setting up camp in the dark at the information stand at the start of the road! It gave us lots of space!

Cleaning up on Taco Night!
The next morning, the local park ranges drove buy and let us know the road was definitely shut.

Yep, it's closed.


So, plan B.. or are we up to C? Sticking to tarmac was the only way left to go. We would spend the morning visiting the Grotto - a cute little gorge oasis and then go and have a look at what Wyndham had to offer (not much at all), then we would continue on to Broome along the Great Northern Highway. Not quite as exciting as the Gibb River Road, but there would get to see Wolf Creek Crater and if the weather improved, we might get to do the end of the Gibb River Road.

A nippy morning swim in the Grotto
Feels good after 4 days of no showers

That night we found a lovely campsite at March Fly Creek, and it barely rained! Things were definitely looking up. Finally! Best of all, wanting to cheer us up, Joel did a roast lamb in the camp oven... who would have thought.

The next morning we headed out to see what Wyndham had to offer, before hitting the highway to Broome. As it turned out, not much. A weird sort of tourist/second hand store with a strange old lady with very triangular groomed white hair.

There we found out that Anu, one of the Finnish girls had decided to get off the tour and wait for the next KAT tour coming from Darwin to come through so that she would still get to see the Bungles and the Gibb River Road. Smart thinking if you ask me. The only catch was that she would have to stay in Kununurra (the place of no bakery) for 10 days, and we would have to go back to Kununurra AGAIN (double doh!)... to drop her off.

Our next stop was Hall's Creek for lunch. I tiny little town, where nothing was happening, except for the bombardment of tourists who should have been seeing the Bungles or the Gibb River Road, but had otherwise been deterred. Setting up outside the Shell Servo, which was a brick building with security bars all over the windows, we had lunch while Joel did some investigation as to what we could go and see.

It wasn't good news (there's a surprise). Even though the skies were now blue, the road out to Wolf Creek Crater was in no condition to be driven on, and the same applied to most of the sights near by. There was nothing left to do, the tour was to shortened by two days, and we would drive directly to Broome over the next day and a half.

The Great Northern Highway (well, not all of it)

For something to cheer us up a bit and to stretch the legs, we all ran to the top of this hilly thing... you can see me coming down, the little speck close to the middle of the picture.

Near the top

We camped at Fitzroy Crossing that Night. We did some adventurous driving (I had visions of crashing or getting stuck), got stuck once, and then finally set up camp in the dark, avoiding the huge cow pats, next to a crocodile infested river.. Fantastic. Actually, it wasn't as bad as it sounds - we were safe, sound and dry! The last meal was a camp oven vegetable lasagne - who would have thought it possible!

Breakfast at the campsite next to the crocodile infested waters.

Joel, contemplating whether to leave us behind.

On the last morning of our "4WD tour", we managed to actually go out and do a sight seeing walk!!

Some of the magnificent limestone walls at Geike Gorge

Joel and Gideon racing ahead along the waters edge

Beautiful! The orange colour is caused by iron deposits in the rock, and the white colour is caused by the water washing the rock during wet season. And hence, by simple deduction, the line between the two is how high the water level gets during wet season!

How to sleep sitting up in the back of a Landcruiser

My favourite bit of travelling through the Kimberley's...
The Boab (or Boabab) Trees
They are just the most amazing looking specimens of fauna!

Joel and the Transport

2,500 kms later, we finally arrived in Broome. Sadly, we had not seen much of what we had come to see, but at least Cable Beach was looking sunny and cloudless. : )

Cable Beach at sunset

Having arrived in Broome two days early, we decided to try and make use of our time to do something a little active as well as spend some time laying around on the beach. The Turtle Beach sunset paddle sounded like a good idea. I don't think we really did go to Turtle beach, or see any turtles for that matter, but it was a fun afternoon.

Padawan Gayle on the high seas

Some place we landed at to look at blow holes and fossils
plus eat dips and drink cordial

And that was pretty much our trip to Broome. We ended up flying home a day early to get some rest before returning to work. It had been a somewhat relaxing holiday, but a little disappointing in places. Not much you can do when it decides to rain in dry season.

Looking on the bright side, at least we didn't decide to do the Broome to Darwin trip that KAT runs concurrently. Those poor suckers who did that trip started on the Gibb River Road on their first or second day, and as a result got stuck there once it started to rain. The road was in such bad condition they couldn't drive anywhere. To top that off, they did not have a large tarpaulin for shade, nor did they have any tents. Then they ran out of food. I think we were very lucky by comparison!

And that concludes my little story of woe and adventure.

Gayle xoxo

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Happy NT Day!

It's Territory Day today, and it's crazy here. It's the one day of the year when fireworks are legal, and every second shop (literally) has a big banner outside advertising sale of fireworks (sales seem to be allowed on both Sat and Sun this weekend). We just came back from the Asian Grocery store and there were queues of people inside purchasing boxes of fireworks. Yesterday some people a couple of houses away had already started letting them off, so I can only assume that tonight there is going to be lots of banging going on!

More than meets the eye

Just got back from the cinema and had to get my excitement down on paper.

But just before I get to that, trivial fact (This one's for you Milo)... Alien Vs Predator 2 is due out this year. Heheeh

Transformers: 4/5

Cast: Shia LeBeouf (Disturbia), Jon Voigt (Zoolander), Jon Turturro (O Brother, Where Art Thou?), Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas - tv show)

In a Nutshell: Deliciously AWESOME!!!

Brief Synopsis: Advanced robotic aliens, good and evil, fight it out on planet Earth.

Before I begin, I have to confess to being a keen Transformer fan in my younger years - woke up ridiculously early on Saturday mornings to watch the cartoon and owned some too. Therefore I sit right in the pocket of the audience to where this movie is aimed. Admittedly it is not a masterpiece and it will not win any awards for most original or best made movie. However, it is damn entertaining. Most people would probably rate it around the 3 star mark. There are some cheesy moments (did you expect any less) of course, but mostly it is surprisingly funny and full of whizz bang special affects and kick arse action. The Transformers themselves look amazing, and their transformations and the action is fast paced and exciting. LeBeouf is very good as the main character, and the supporting cast don't have big roles, but do well in support. My main two gripes are 1. the editing and "camera" work during action scenes is sometimes too close up or overly edited and it is sometimes difficult to see what is going on, 2. the original theme song is missing (unless they played it at the end of the credits) - small things in the grand scheme of things. I want to watch it again!