October 31st, 2006

One of my favourite camping places ever is Seal Rocks. Thirteen of us ( yes, Thirteen ) went up there for the weekend. Boards and tents packed we were off at 05h30 on Saturday morning. Amy, Nancy, Simone, Esther, Rachael, Mike, Jon, Lunni, Dan, Chris, Marcus, Stu and myself.

Some of the crew went up the night before and as so managed to score a good spot right next to the sand dune. Here is a picture of Esther and Chris’ moving advertisement smart car –

Seal Rocks Dune

Not many waves going down at the Rocks, it was 6 foot message and blown out on Treachery Beach ( which it always is ) and non-existent on Seal Rocks beach, still went out anyway it was fun. The next day it was a bit bigger and I went out, caught a wave and got whiped out, the first proper whiped out proper with the full topsy-turvey underwater rolling. It was good to go back to that as it hasn’t been since the shoulder injury that I had that happen! Amy and some of the other gang had headed off to a festival in a nearby village whilst Marcus and I went out in the water.

The first night we had a nice few drinks and all made our own food on the bonfire which we converted into a BBQ after we ‘borrowed’ a caravans hot plate! It was musical instruments galore as well with guitars, drums, cow bells and shakers!

Just before we were about to set off for packing up the next day, Mike spotted a pod of Whales with their calves in the bay –

Whales at Seal Rocks!

To get an idea of the size, Dan’s mate Lunni did a mission paddle out in his Kayak to get a closer look at them –

Lunni and the Whales

It was a nice little weekend but a bit too short! The bad news is that Mike appears to have got ticks, I’ll say no more. Sunday was also the start of Australian Summer, with the clocks going forward its time to enjoy some late evenings, which means the possibility of after work surfing as well as nice walks down the beach with Amy.

Driving home at the start of Australian summer time

That’s it until next time!

October 22nd, 2006

It has been a while since a film review, there’s been nothing really outstanding to report on from the world of films. Until last night, where Amy and I, fresh from our trip to Fiji went to see Children of Men, directed by Alfonso Cuarón.

Opening Scene set on Cornhill, City of London

The film is set in South East England in 2027, England has been changed by immigration as you see rickshaws travelling down the roads of London. The rest of the world is apparently under immense terrorist attacks and major cities such as New York, Tokyo, Paris and Moscow have been wrecked by nuclear terrorism.

The main theme of the film is that no child has been born for eighteen years. Women have become infertile and to make matters worse the film opens on the day that the youngest person on Earth was stabbed to death for not signing an autograph. The main protagonist of the film of course ends up having to look after a refugee who is pregnant (the only pregnant women known to be alive) and help her escape to an underground group called “The Human Project”. The film has current day relevance with an interesting angle on what it might be like if a zero tolerance policy on immigrants existed also scenes that looked like recent pictures of torture by solidiers at Abu Ghraib as well as having throw backs to the nazi holocaust.

What really made the film stand out for me was the attention to detail of locations and the extremely long scenes without cuts; it seemed like 5 minutes had passed before camera angles changed.

Visit http://www.childrenofmen.net/ and watch the trailer.

October 22nd, 2006

Amy and I set off from Sydney on Saturday morning, it was a beautiful 31 degree sunny day in Manly and it felt like we were already on holiday! However, we got the boat to the train to the plane to Fiji for a relaxing island beach holiday that you see on those adverts on the London Underground ( but for a bit less of the price as its just around the corner from ‘stralia ).

Amy and I at the Train Station, ready for our holiday!

Where is Fiji?

On the plane over we made friends with the Fijian people in front of us, which was good and bad because there young son decided to play games with me and cover my TV screen every 5 minutes. We then played a game called “phone trip” where we had to pretend to ring each other and tell each other “have a good trip” but I kept answering the phone and just saying “have a good trip..bye” before he had a chance to speak so he got bored of that game. There was word of another game called “cow and bear” or “Camembert” ( couldn’t really understand what he was saying ) but it never got off the ground as it seemed to be far too complicated.

When we arrived at Nadi airport we got a bus to Outrigger, which is a resort on the Coral Coast which is 177.4° East of Greenwich, London ( 180° is the exact opposite side of the world obviously ). We didn’t get there until night time so we did not see much of it and we were out again at 6am to go to Musket Cove, on Molololaiai Island!

We caught the Mololo cat ferry over to Musket Cove which was a nice little journey, it went past the Island of Tavarua which is American owned resort that controls access to “Cloudbreak” a world famous surf break. I found that all a bit of a con to be honest. An American person “owns” the access to Cloudbreak in Fiji apparently, unless you are staying on Tavarua you don’t get to ride the waves!

When we arrived we were given nice little drinks to have and driven around in a little buggy to see the resort. Here is Amy with the drinks –

Amy with drinks on arrival!

We then got shown to our Garden Bure, it was very nice and basic. No TV distractions, just a little Radio. Actually by the end of the holiday it was starting to creep us out a little bit because it was so in the wilderness all night long you would hear what sounded like footsteps outside (normally frogs and birds) and things falling on the roof (coconuts and black pods) –

Our Bure

We had lunch at the little cafe (the food was all chips etc.. so was not very healthy) and then had a walk down to the beach –

Palm Beach Musket Cove

We had a bit of an error earlier in the day, we told the driver that we were going to Mololo island and not that we were staying at Musket Cove, so our bags went to Mololo Resort, so we had to wait for them before we could go for a swim!

Here is a photo of us sitting in the little hut in the water at dusk –

Amy and I at Sunset

That night we went to “Dicks Place” for dinner, which was the Islands foodery and had a lovely dinner, we met some people called Malcom and Brenda from New Zealand who were nice.

The next day our activity was golf. We walked over to the golf course and paid to get the buggy to take us around the nine whole course. It was really hot so we definetly needed transport between holes, plus my 350 yard swing really means a lot of walking between hits (I’m rubbish at golf).

Golf Action

Amy was beating me pretty badly and it was getting very hot, we managed to get to 4 and a half holes before we had to give up, so we just drove the buggy around the course for a while and returned it!

That night we had dinner again and became money savvy (the restaurant on Musket Cove turned out to be the most expensive one of all the islands we visited and not always the best food) so we had a salad starter and the buffet which we shared.

Amy and I having salads at Dick’s Place

The next day we hired bikes to explore the Island a little bit more. Although in reality you can’t go very far as going up hills was not possible (not allowed and too hot to even attempt) and the native Fijian people don’t allow you to just walk around the country without permission from the village chief that you might walk into.

Here’s Amy with the strange small hills that cover the Islands of Fiji which I imagine are a result of being a volcanic island –

Amy on Bike on Island near Volcanic Hills

That evening we walked down to the beach and got this photo of the sunset –

Another Beautiful Sunset in Fiji

The next day we took a boat trip to see some other islands, coincidentally it was the worse weather day, not raining but very very windy. It made the boat journey a real stomach turner, but we got to see some beautiful islands. We even saw a turtle (Amy missed it) swimming in the water, which was pretty amazing, it looked very pre-historic. Some of the Islands we visited were right in the wind so we didn’t stay for long, others were not wind facing and so were very beautiful. This was the view down one of them from the water (can’t remember the resort name)

Unknown Resort in Fiji

We also visited Cast Away resort which was also very nice resort and had lunch there. Here is a picture of Amy with the boat driver –

Amy with Fijian Boat Driver

The next day we got Kayaks and went for a little paddle out in the water, it was good to be right next to the reef and see all of the fish swimming around, there was even some star fish in the water!

Friday night was pig on a spit night which Amy was really looking forward to!

Cheshire Cat Happy Amy

The entertainment that night was some Fijian dancing by men and women. It was really funny to watch, it was a bit like organised chaos.

Fiji Warrior!

That day our Musket Cove island holiday came to a close, which was very sad as we were enjoying it so much! Fiji has a high Indo-Fijian people descended from work force brought to the Island during Britains colonial rule (the coins and notes have the Queen on them) and it was Diwali eve so all Indo-Fijian women were dressed in traditional India clothes. Here is Nadi down town as we headed back to Outrigger resort –

Nadi Downtown on Diwali Eve

It is amazing to think of the changes that Fiji must have gone through in recent times with the start of long distance holidays and the ability for ordinary people to sail to remote places.

When we arrived at Outrigger we were just in time for sunset, which was beautiful –

Sunset at Outrigger

The next morning it was a 5am start off to the airport for the flight back to Sydney, where we arrived to cold weather and gloomy skies, it is very sad to be back from our paradise holiday!

October 8th, 2006

Coolendel is a tiny little camping place in the middle of nowhere, which is about 20 km inland from Nowra, which is about 3 hours south of Sydney on the Shoalhaven river down a dirt track road which would destroy the suspension of any normal road car.

Rach and Mike; the inventors of camping, invited Amy and I down to this very special camp site on the long weekend. We left at 06h30 on Saturday morning ( that only happened because Amy thought it was 07h30 ). It was a lovely drive down in beautiful sun, in fact we were blessed with great weather all weekend long.

The place is beautiful and has a lot of wildlife running around. This peacock was on the roof of the camp site office –

Peacock on the Roof

We setup the new tent which was a dream as you can stand up in it, a tent requirement that I’ve introduced to any form of camping that will be going down in the future.

Later that day we spotted this little character hiding in the tree right near our camp, it is a creator of the Australian continent –

Creature of the Australian Continent

We went down to the water for a swim and to jump off a rock, it was pretty scary but had to be down for the initiation process. The water was pretty cold I must admit and I saw an eel / snake in the water the next day so it wasn’t that nice to be in it.

Amy and I went for a nice walk to sandy beach, which looks over the shoalhaven river and the beautiful setting on the way back we went down “Wombat Trail”, here is Amy on the little bridge through it –

Amy on Wombat Trail

It was funny because of it’s name but one night when we were walking down it we had to stop to let a Wombat walk across in-front of us!

Gemma and Dan arrived later on that evening and they bought some lovely food for a lovely meat / vegetarian dinner. Gemma also cooked banana bread on the fire which was also very nice.

Cooking on the Fire

The next day was kayak day. We were told by the Kayaking people to go up stream as opposed to down, which turned out to be good fun but also very difficult as we did not have the right foot wear. The shoalhaven river has little rapids which are too shallow to paddle up so you have to walk up them. My feet did not hurt that much because I have a really good pair of flip flops but everyone else was having issues with their havianas! When we finally did get up the rapids it was really good fun going down them!

We were given the full apparatus of life jackets and helmets, Mike and I wore them religiously, everyone else laughed them off as ridiculous because the was no dangerous rapids to go over. However, the “I told you so” came true when Gemma and Dan cap-sized their supposedly in-capsizeable kayak coming down one of the rapids. Here is Mike (in full protection gear) and Rach looking for their things –

Kayaking Accident Scene


Happier Times on the Kayaks

The cool thing about Coolendel was the amount of Wombats that just walk around! From not seeing a Wombat ever to seeing about 15 of them was pretty amazing! They are cute little creatures that eat grass and only come out at night. They have stumpy little feet are can be pretty scatty,with open sores on them and hair missing. The ones in this photo are pretty nice though –

Wombat Feeding

It wasn’t just Wombat’s though, it was these pre-historic looking Goannas –

Goanna Go!

Also managed to capture this fire confronting, axe welding, oven glove wearing mad man onto digital film –

Guardian of Hell, Mike

A great weekend in the wilderness, a little bit closer to nature, which we should all try to do now and then. To quote Ben Lincoln who said of Coolendel – “Animals at every turn, a live menagerie, the river breeze through the trees, reminds me that I’m free.”