August 22nd 2016 – New Zealand Day 2

Today I woke up at 6:00am. I decided to set an alarm clock because today was a fair amount of driving. I made myself a skillet of vegetables and eggs, and then hit the road. The first stop, only a few kilometres away, was Whangarei Falls. The view was absolutely spectacular! There was a 1.5km circular loop to view the falls from beneath, which I took. I tried to get some good photo’s from below, but the sun wasn’t angled properly and it was fairly misty.

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The next stop roughly an hour away was Pahia, where I parked my campervan and walked around for about an hour. There was a really pretty church called St. Paul’s Anglican Church.

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The next stop, which I came across by accident, was Haruru Falls. These falls were fairly short, but quite wide.

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After visiting Haruru Falls i put Cape Reinga in my GPS, and started heading towards there. It was going to take roughly about 2.5 hours, but I knew I would come across other things along the way. The first place I stopped at was Coopers Beach, where I made myself some coffee and Thai curry soup, which was absolutely delicious. I have quite the love for Thai food, so this hit the spot!

The next unscheduled stop was 90 mile beach. My sister had told me about this, and lets just say words can’t even describe this beach. The beach is spectacular! Each entrance to the beach is very different. The south is miles and miles of beautiful white sandy beach, and the north is lots of massive sand dunes.

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After visiting 90 mile beach I visited Houhora, and Rarawa Beach. Houhora had a nice view, and Rarawa Beach had some of the most beautiful white sand I have ever seen.

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The next stop, which I came across was the sand dunes on Te Paki stream road. I’m exceptionally glad that I visited this because I saw a beautiful bee hive collection along the way, and the sand dunes were even bigger than the ones I have seen in Nevada. The views from the top were spectacular. I even rode a sand board down a steep one! Sand boarding is a lot of fun, but a bit scary, because you have no control over the speed!

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The last and final stop of today was Cape Reinga to watch the sunset. The sunset was quite beautiful, and the pictures don’t quite do it justice. It was raining out at sea, so it was blocking a fair amount of the sun, but some was still shining through.

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It was 6:30 now so I had to find somewhere to stay for the night. The GPS in my campervan has all the camp sites in New Zealand listed, so I looked on the GPS and found one close by that was actually right on the beach near Cape Reinga for only $6. Tapotupotu camp site is on the honour system, but I was honest and paid (well I was 10 cents short…). I made myself a salad for dinner, and had some leftover pasta.

I figured out a few things about my campervan that didn’t quite make sense earlier on. I was wondering why my waste water tank wasn’t registering anything so I went outside and looked, and it appears that Britz forgot to close the waste water valve. Don’t worry because it is only grey water; the toilet is separate! I closed the valve and now everything is functioning properly. I also figured out why my hot water heater wasn’t working, and fixed that. I had an air bubble in the system. I had a nice hot shower, and then settled into bed.

Tomorrow I’m going to head back towards Auckland, and I will need to find somewhere to fill up with water as I’m down to less than 25 percent. Britz recommends every 2-3 days that I visit an actual full service camp site. These camp sites typically cost $15-20 so I will try and stretch to 3 days whenever possible.

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August 18th 2016 – Outback Tour Day 9 of 10

Today we woke up at 5:30am. Breakfast was raisin toast and good coffee made from a French press. This was the best coffee I’ve had on this trip so far, because all the other days have been instant coffee. After breakfast I loaded my bag into the truck and climbed a large sand dune to watch the sun rise at Uluru. The sunrise occurred around 7:00am. After watching the absolutely stunning sunrise we all went back to the truck and left camp at around 7:50am.
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We drove the the Valley of the Winds (Katja Tjuta) for a walk. We did a complete loop around the valley, which took a few hours going at a fairly slow pace so that everyone could keep up. In the Valley of the Winds there are 36 domes, which were created when the inland sea from 450 million years ago disappeared. There was a large earth movement, the plates collided, and then the sandstone formation hardened.
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We learned about quite a few unique things about the vegetation in the area along our walk. We learned that Mulga Trees are used to make boomerangs. Boomerangs differ in shape and design depending where you live in Australia. On the coast boomerangs are designed to come back to you, so you don’t have to swim to get your boomerang once you’ve thrown it. In the centre of Australia boomerangs were typically used to take out kangaroos and wallabies so they didn’t need the boomerang to come back. We also learned that Kangaroo’s can’t walk backwards. One more thing we learned was that Mulla Mulla, a purple flower was used by the indigenous people to lay down their babies in because it was so soft; specifically the bulbs of the royal Mulla Mulla, which is about three or four times the standard Mulla Mulla. There is also a bush called a last chance bush that has medicine in it that can be used to get rid of a wart among other things.
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We finished our walk at around noon, then drove about two hours to Curtain Springs cattle station where we had hamburgers and beef sausages for lunch. I also purchased a few cans of beer for tonight’s dinner. The cattle station is owned by a gentleman named ash, and is comprised of over a million acres. When the property was first purchased they went through 9 years of drought. Underneath the property lies a huge artesian basin with water depths ranging from 30 to 260 metres. Water is pumped to the top where it can be used for agriculture as well as drinking water. Something unique we learned about cows is that they are willing to travel a fairly significant distance to obtain water. Out in the outback they use water to control cows. If a cow is needed in a certain area water is pumped to a watering station or watering hole, while all the others are turned off. At this particular cattle station they used to process all their own meat, but in the 1980’s the government changed the laws so they sent their meat down Adelaide for processing. There were lots of birds at this cattle station.
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After lunch we had a very long drive to Kings Canyon cattle station, where we were staying for the night. This cattle station was smaller, about half the size. We arrived at about 5:30pm. After we arrived we picked tents. The one I originally picked had a bunk bed with a queen bed on the bottom. I asked a French couple from New Caledonia if they wanted to switch tents with me so they could be together because I didn’t need a queen bed. His English was really bad so somehow he mistook me as wanting to sleep with his wife and he got upset. We all tried to explain to him and he eventually got it and we switched tents. We couldn’t stop laughing afterwards.
We prepared food for dinner and put it in the campfire. We climbed up a sand dune to watch the sunset at 7:30pm. We even flew a drone owned by one of the people in my group over the site to check the site out. I looks very beautiful from a birds eye perspective.
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We had dinner at 8:00pm. Dinner was Kangaroo, cooked vegetables, and pesto pasta served with red and white wine. I had a glass of red wine, and some of the beer I purchased earlier today.
We stayed around the campfire talking until about 9:30pm, when i decided I was too tired, so I went back to my tent to go to bed.

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August 15th 2016 – Outback Tour Day 6 of 10

Last night we slept in swags around the campfire. Over the last week or so I’ve been reading the book that Koop Kooper gave to me called Cocktail Nation: The Interviews 2. I finished it the previous evening by the campfire underneath the beautiful stars. You could even see the Milky Way. I’m blessed to have received this autographed book from Koop. I highly recommend it if you’re into classic retro music. Koop talks 19 different artists ranging from Jimmy Borges, to Irwin Chusid (fascinating read about Esquivel), and to Laurie Allyn. You can visit Koop’s website at https://cocktailnation.net/ and purchase his book from Amazon here:

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We woke up again at 5:30am, but someone’s phone was going off again at 5:00am. I ate some toast and cereal for breakfast, as well as had some coffee. I then washed up, packed my bags, and rolled up my swag. It’s very important to roll your swag nice and tight because if you don’t snakes could potentially get in. Simon ended up having to re-roll six swags because they were not rolled up tight enough.

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We left the camp site at 6:30am. We passed through Tennent Creek, which is the largest town in the area. The first telegraph station was built here, but the actual town site is about 8km from the telegraph station. The reason for this is that a truck with alcohol broke down about 8km from the telegraph station, and people congregated around it, and that’s where the actual town site was built.

The next stop, two hours away, was the Devil’s Marbles. Aboriginals felt a devilish creature lived in the rocks because sheep were eaten by dingo’s. Aboriginals also wore belts made of their wife’s hair. The Devil’s Marbles were formed from sedimentation from an inland sea. The marbles were originally underground, but due to erosion they have slowly shown up over time. It is said that there are more underneath and they will be exposed over the years. The marbles consist of sandstone.

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The boulders at Devil’s Marbles can crack and split completely perfectly. This occurs due to very fine secondary cracks, called joints, getting penetrated by rain water. The rain water reacts with some of the minerals in the rock, so that they decompose to clay. The weight of the two halves can cause them to split perfectly and fall apart.

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There are two species that live quite well in the desert like conditions at Devil’s Marbles; a desert frog and crab. The water-holding frog, Cyclorana australis, is known for its ability to bury itself alive in order to survive droughts. Before burrowing underground, this large frog bloats itself with water. While it is buried, the frog slowly absorbs the water through its stomach lining, thus avoiding dehydration. The drought surviving crab, Austrothelphusa transversa, grows up to 50 mm across and lives in deep burrows in the creek bank. During dry times, it blocks the entrance to its burrow and retreats to a small, moist chamber at the bottom where, like the frog, it patiently waits for rain.

The next stop, 20 minutes away, was Wycliffe Well. Wycliffe Well is the UFO capital of Australia. There is a secret army base in Alice springs called Pine Gap, and people in the area claim to have been abducted by aliens. This would be equivalent to Australia’s version of Area 51.

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After our brief stop in Wycliffe Well we continued on to Barrow Creek Pub. One the way to Barrow Creek we did a quiz. I got 11 out of 19 questions correct. Simon said the questions were a bit biased because they were more about Australian things. Luckily some of the questions were the same ones from Alex’s set of questions so I remembered what the answer’s were.

We arrived in Barrow Creek. Barrow Creek is an isolated and tiny outpost that became a piece of famous history when on July 14th 2001 it became a vital part of one of the Australian outback’s most famous horrific and mysterious crimes. On the night of July 14th, Bradley John Murdoch stopped a Volkswagen van driven by an English traveller, Peter Falconio, and persuaded Falconio to leave his vehicle. Falconio was shot, and Falconio’s girlfriend Joanne Lees was tied up. She managed to escape and hide in the bushes along the side of the highway and was eventually picked up by a road train truck driver, who took her 13 km south to the Barrow Creek Pub where the police were alerted. There is a movie based on this called Wolf Creek. I was told I should watch this movie, but it is really scary. He said be glad that you didn’t watch the movie before traveling through the area.

At the pub we ate sandwiches for lunch in a back room. One of the people on our group ate most of the tomatoes, which was fairly disrespectful. He’s done quite a few disrespectful things over the last six days and is starting to get on some of our nerves. Luckily he will not be on the last part of my tour. Simon had to dig into tomorrow’s food because of this. At the pub there is memorabilia everywhere dating back many decades. If you tell the pub owner where you are from he will point you to a section for your country and tell you facts about each piece. You can also write your name on the wall too if you would like. I didn’t write my name on the wall, but I wish I had now that I’m sitting here writing the blog.

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The next stop was Ti Tree for coffee and more fuel. We passed a man who is dying of a rare form leukemia. I was told that this is his third time traveling across the country to raise money. I couldn’t find any information by doing a Google search so if you know who this man is please let me know so I can post a link to his web page.

The next stop was Aileron to see a very odd Kangaroo, who’s name is too vulgar to repeat but we will call him “FN”, and his girlfriend pig called Apples. “FN” the kangaroo was introduced to Apples when his girlfriend passed away because he became depressed. I’m not entirely sure why, or how, but they definitely have an odd relationship. I will let you put the picture together for yourself. Aileron also has a beautiful tall statue on top of a hill.

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We learned some more interesting history as we continued another two hours towards Alice Springs. The word “selfie” is a word invented by an Australian man. The dingo isn’t native to Australia; it came from Asia. The Stewart Highway was one of the most dangerous highway in Australia until it was paved and upgraded in 1987 at a cost of approximately $200 million, as part of Australia’s bicentenary roadwork’s program. There are no police patrolling the majority of the highway, and until the end of 2006 there was no speed limit outside towns and other built-up areas on the Northern Territory part.

We arrived in Alice Springs at 5:30pm and were dropped off at our hostels. The majority of us are staying at a hostel called the Haven Backpackers Resort. I checked into my private room and was greeted by a slightly obnoxious smell of sewer gas. Other than that the room was great, spacious and roomy. I figured the smell would dissipate, but it hasn’t. Other people complained about the same smell in their room too. I did some investigating and even though that we are in the city we are still on a septic system, and it doesn’t handle it very well.

We all did our own things until about 7:00pm, when 16 of 19 people in our group walked over to The Rock Bar, which is on the main road in the city. Simon, our tour guide, even showed up which was fun. I ordered a kangaroo steak, and a pitcher of beer for dinner. Others ordered steaks, burgers, schnitzel, and salads. I had the only kangaroo steak that was left. It was pretty delicious, and didn’t have as much of a “game” taste as I thought it would. I was told it would taste similar to elk, but I wouldn’t agree. We all hung out until about 10:30pm, when we all walked back to the hostel together. This city is known to be extremely unsafe, so we were advised strongly by Simon to walk together in a group, or take a taxi. I went to sleep at about midnight, since tomorrow is a day off from traveling.

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August 14th 2016 – Outback Tour Day 5 of 10

Today we woke up at 530. Someone’s alarm was going off at 5. Nobody turned it off for over a half hour so I went and turned it off. I had toast and coffee for breakfast. We packed up and left at 6:30pm. We stopped in Katherine to fuel up, and I purchased Simon and I a coffee.

The next stop, an hour away, was bitter springs. Bitter springs is a naturally occurring hot spring, with a temperature of around 32-33 degrees. It’s cooler than the hot springs I’m used to back in Canada. The hot springs had almost no sulphur smell. We originally were supposed to stop in Mataranka Hot Springs, but decided to stop at Bitter Springs instead because it’s less commercialized. Mataranka is busier and the springs are enclosed in concrete instead of being naturally occurring. Bitter Springs is located in Never Never Land, which revived its name from a train that was always late, which ran from Darwin to Alice Springs.

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We then drove about two hours to Daly’s Water’s Pub, where we had hot dogs and salad for lunch. It’s a very historic pub and the small town is literally located in the middle of nowhere. 

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We then drove to Dunmarra, about a half hour away. We got to hold and touch a few snakes. Dunmarra got its name from a telegraph lineman named Dan O’Mara. He vanished without a trace in this area, and his skeleton was found in the 1930’s with the help of the local Jingili Aboriginal people. Their attempts to say his name sounded like Dunmarra.

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We then had a two hour drive to Banka Banka, where we were staying tonight. Banka Banka is an old cattle station that was used during the Second World War. There was a baby cow there named Fugly. The poor guy had one of his ears bitten off by a dingo. There was also some cute family of three frogs that lived in the back of the toilet in the building that the kitchen was located in. We had delicious pasta and white sauce with chicken for dinner. After dinner we all sat around the fire and played some games and were told some scary stories from the area. The site at Banka Banka that we were staying at was a school that had a mass murder occur at it. A teacher and three students were killed. It’s been said that some people can hear and see children at night occasionally. I don’t believe in any of that stuff, but that’s what we were told.

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Today we also learned a few more interesting facts. Australia has 254 different “countries” or language areas of indigenous people. Their history dates back over 60000 years, virtually unchanged. They still live virtually the same lifestyle as they did back in the days, some with a few modern luxuries. Ayers Rock is also known as Uluru. It is considered highly offensive to climb on Uluru and it’s said to cause bad luck if you do. People would climb it in the past and pee and poop at the top, which would run off into the water holes and make the animals sick in the area. In fact only about 10 percent of the local animals to the area are still left because of this. Another fact we learned was that it’s highly frowned upon to take rocks from the area. If you do they are called sorry rocks because they typically cause bad luck to the point where some people who have taken them have actually sent them back in the mail to the park. The last thing we learned was that Eucalyptus trees need smoke to germinate their seeds. 

We went to bed at about 10:00pm. Today we drove about 650km. Tomorrow we get to see the Devil’s Marbles!

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August 13th 2016 – Outback Tour Day 4 of 10

August 13th 2016

Today I started the next part of my outback tour. The tour is a three day trek to Alice Springs called the Cicada Tour. Our tour guide, Simon, picked us up from the Youth Shack hostel at 6:30am. The Youth Shack was pretty bad. It felt like it was a University dorm room with a bunch of party animals. I’m very glad that I had my own private room, because one of my tour mates showed me how disgusting their shared room was. Despite having my own private room I still was woken up plenty of times by yelling and screaming. 

For this part of the journey we had 19 people. 11 of them are carryovers from the last three days. We drove about an hour and a half to Adelaide River for a coffee and a rest. We had been here before on the previous tour. The next stop, Pine Creek, was an hour and a half away as well. We stopped here for fuel and a rest.

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After that we headed towards Katherine Gorge where we had sandwiches for lunch. Four of the 19 of us went on a kayak tour, while the rest of us (myself included) went on a 4.8km walk to a viewpoint overlooking the Katherine River. The view was great!

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This tour is called the Cicada Tour, which is named after a moth, which is the size of a human hand. Cicada’s can live in a tree or underground for up to 13 years, then they come out and have sex and then die. Not the most spectacular life, but maybe it’s not that bad? The Katherine River, also known as the Cicada River, is located in Nitmaluk National Park 

At 5:15pm we left Katherine Gorge and stopped in Katherine to pickup liquor for the next two days. We arrived at our camp site at around 6:30pm. Our camp site is located in Spring Vow, which is only about ten minutes outside of Katherine. The camp site was a fairly substantial RV park about four years ago, but was closed to the public due to sewage problems. The site couldn’t handle the amount of sewage that people produced so the decision was made to shut it down. Way Outback tour group has a special agreement with the owner of the land so we essentially get private access to this huge facility. 

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We made a campfire, and prepared a dinner of steaks, sausages, potatoes and onions with cheese cooked over the fire, and salad. 

We learned about a few interesting facts about Australia. There was a secret war in Laos around the same time of the Vietnam war. The United States dropped so much Napalm and so many Cluster Bombs in Laos that their soil was so polluted and destroyed that nothing was able to grow there, until eucalyptus trees from Australia were planted in the land. Eucalyptus trees are very hearty and can withstand some pretty harsh conditions. This plan worked and over time the trees actually made the soil good enough to actually be able to grow vegetation and food again. The other fact we learned was that Australia invented the boxed wine about 51 years ago. 

We went to bed at about 10:30pm. I slept in a swag, which is essentially a bag that you zip up all around you and has a pillow and a thin mattress to sleep on. It was surprisingly comfortable! Throughout the night wallabies were walking around everywhere. Today we drove 350km. 

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August 10th 2016 – Outback Tour Day 1 of 10

Today I was picked up for my tour at 6:40am by my guide named Alex. She’s been in the tourism industry for nearly a decade now. The day started with a 1.5 hour drive to our first stop in Corroboree where we get a ham and cheese sandwich for breakfast as well as a coffee, as well as some fuel.


The second stop, which was another 1.5 hours drive, was rockhole billabong along the Mary River. We went on a 1.5 hour river cruise, which was absolutely fantastic. Billabongs are similar to what we know as a swamp. They are only 3-4 meters deep on average, with a maximum depth of 8 metres. I saw a Darter bird, Lotus Lillies, Snowflake Lillies, Melaleuca trees, Jacanas (a small bird that can run on top of water lillies, rainbow bee eaters (a small beautiful colourful bird), whistling tree ducks, and a Jabiro (a large bird with a 1.5 metre wing span).


The third stop, a half hour away, was the south Alligator River where we had delicious burgers, and salad. I helped cook and clean dishes. There are a few areas that were not named correctly because they were named Alligator Instead of Crocodile. There are no alligators in Australia, and quite a few rivers and places have been named incorrectly.


On the way to our fourth stop we saw a bunch of old Citroen 2CV’s in a pack doing a road trip. It was interesting to see.

The fourth stop was another 40 minutes away. We stopped at the Ubirr art sites. This is an area belonging to the indigenous people. There was a ton of old paintings dating back as far as 4000 years ago and as early as 180 years ago, when the white man set foot in Australia. I learned a few neat things at this site. When an indigenous person dies they get wrapped in paper bark (Melaleuca tree bark) and taken somewhere high to decompose and then they take the bones and wrap it in more paper bark and bury. The famous paintings all have a story behind them such as sickness, or beware of the white man, beware of the dingos, beware of thieves, etc. There was on that was a health warning about moving the rocks because they will make you sick. Turns out the rocks were making them sick because they contained high amounts of uranium, and we have modern science to back that up, but they only knew something wasn’t right because they were getting sick. This prompted them to paint a painting on the rock to warn the others. All the paintings on the rocks are done with a paste made from a mixture of ochre and water. We also got a chance to overlook the beautiful area all around us, and all I can say is it was absolutely stunning. Take a look for yourself.


The fifth spot, 40 minutes away, was Jabiru where we refilled the truck again, and got some ice cream. We have to refuel the truck a lot because it only has a 100 litre tank and the truck is massive and heavy.

The sixth and final spot today was the camp. It took us about an hour to get to but along the way we saw a tragic accident involving one of the 2CV’s we saw earlier where the vehicle got ripped to shreds and the people died on impact. It shook us all up so Alex said we could all get some beers from the liquor store at the camp ground we were staying at.

I helped Alex unhook our trailer and park the truck, and then starter to cook dinner because she needed to setup camp for the others. Dinner was a delicious chicken stir fry. After dinner a few of us helped do the dishes. We then heard a loud bang, and went outside the kitchen tent to take a look. A family was trying to park their RV but was failing miserably because they hit a tree. I took over for them and successfully parked it and they thanked me. Alex told me her boyfriend, who is also a tour guide, was staying elsewhere in the camp, so I could have her posh tent because she was just going to bunk with him. My even more upgrades tent had a nice mattress, a fan, and a place to charge my phones. I gladly accepted it and couldn’t be any happier.

Tomorrow we’re off to The Jim Jim River. I may or may not have service to update my blog but check back later for the next step in my adventure!

These photos are just taken with my iPhone but I will upload a blog at the end of this tour with all of my good SLR photos.

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