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Beaches

I am currently sat on Monkey Mia beach in Western Australia and it got me thinking about New Zealand. I would generally say that I prefer New Zealand to Australia but there are certain things New Zealand just doesn’t have that Australia does and vice Versa.

One of those things most definitely being beaches, when I was younger I was never a big fan of beaches or summer in general being very self conscious and not liking the lack of clothes available to me in summer to cover up the body parts I didn’t like (that’s a story for another day). As I’ve got older however I’ve really started to love summer and beaches and have learnt to put aside my insecurities or at least bury them so that I can start to enjoy all the wonderful things involved with Summer.

I think the moment I fell in love with beaches was in November 2011 when I saw Santa Monica beach for  the first time, it grabbed a hold of my heart and has never let go. I came to have much appreciation for beaches whilst I was travelling there, I had a much smaller budget than I’ve had the last couple of years, looking back now I’m not how I managed to travel consistently for 4 months on almost no money.

This is where beaches came in, they’re free! They were the places I could go when I didn’t want to spend any money, but also didn’t want to sit around the hostel all day or if I didn’t like my hostel or room or roommates or I just felt like having some alone time. My time in the States happened when I’d just been through a massive emotional upheaval so I was a little fragile. I remember Sandra Barbara beach being my sanctuary for the few days I was there as all of the above reasons applied whilst I was there.

Coming to Australia made me fall in love with beaches even more, again they were free and as a solo traveller they’re a place you can go by yourself with out feeling too much like Billy no mates. Each Australian coast how ever does happen to be beautiful beach after beautiful beach which definitely endears them to you.

Whilst I’m sat here looking out to sea watching a pelican and seagull diving for fish, I can’t think of any place else I’d rather be and how very grateful I am that I haven’t let my insecurities ruin my love for a place where Mother Nature has really out done herself and how I will miss such beautiful beaches when I head back to New Zealand at the end of the month.

P.s. I have written this on my iPad so please excuse any typos or spelling mistakes.

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Working Holiday Visas: What I’ve learnt about life, love and literature

I will be heading back to the UK for a visit in about a months time, the visit coincides with my 30th Birthday, which has got me thinking about everything I’ve learnt about myself and doing a working holiday these past 19 months, closing the door on my 20s.

When people talk about travelling they talk about the way it changes you and yes it does change you, but for me at least it’s given me the freedom to explore and become the person I want to be.  As you’re constantly meeting new people and they don’t know who you were before so you can be whatever version of yourself around them you want to be.

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Some of the lovely people I’ve met in Wellington

I think for most us doing the WHVs for most of the time, we’re static in one place living and working in a new city or town. I’ve lived and worked in 2 different cities Sydney and Wellington.  I’ve been different in both.

Sydney Harbour the side you don’t normally see

In Sydney I was pretending it seems to me now, I was acting and behaving in ways that I thought I should be whilst living ‘the dream’ in Sydney.  My reality was very different to the ‘dream’ life I thought I’d have.  Looking back now I feel like Sydney was just a big old learning curve for me, I felt overwhelmed in it. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great city and I had some great times there, it just wasn’t the right fit for me.

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Wellington harbour at sunset

Wellington on the other hand, feels like home.  I feel like here I’ve become a person I like and a person I’d like to stay.  I’ve become a gym bunny, a party girl, hostel long termer, HR Coordinator and friend to a lot of awesome people. I am content here, and yeah life isn’t perfect a lot of things could be better but I have good friends, I like my gym, I don’t hate my job life could and has been a hell of a lot worse.

 

This is what I’ve learnt these past 19 months:

  • I needed to grow up a lot.
  • Life is what you make of it.
  • Nothing can live up to big expectations.
  • Reality is when it’s payday and you’re moneys already gone.
  • The cheaper hostels have the best people in.
  • Be that annoying person who talks to everyone that walks in their dorm room.
  • A bit of distance makes things clearer.
  • I can sit at home watching Netflix feeling sorry for myself or go out there and do something about life.
  • People can make a place, but a place can make people.
  • Being content is a great thing to be.
  • Being a heavy sleeper is a god send in Hostels.
  • Hostels are the best way to meet people while travelling. Embrace it.
  • Each new place you move to you’ll figure things out a bit more and get a step closer to what you want.
  • Wellington is the coolest little capital in the world I love it with all my heart.

 

 

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Last Night and Day in WA:

The next day was my last full day in Perth and was spent just sorting things out and packing as I had bought a 45 litre backpack I was desperately trying to get down to for New Zealand.

In the evening I met Becky, Stacy and Emily for dinner at this purely Vegetarian Indian restaurant called Annalakshmi which works purely on donations, you pay what you think the meal was worth.  It’s yummy a must when in Perth.  We got a table outside that looks over the Swan River where we saw the sun set over, we went out for a drink after that as well.

My flight was at 11:50pm the next day, so I had just enough time to meet up with the girls again at Cottesloe before going back to the hostel and grabbing my stuff before heading to the airport.  It was very emotional saying goodbye to the girls, we’d all been around in Perth for a long time which is rare when you travel so I got a bit more attached to them.

I was really very sad to be leaving Perth as I had the best 2 months in WA and made some amazing friends but so excited for New Zealand such mixed emotions.  

As if I’d have gone to WA first then I would have definitely done my 88 days regional work to get my second year visa, I suppose everything happens for a reason.

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New Years Day 2016:

New Year’s Day we didn’t really do much apart from recover from the night before and from Christmas, it was also very hot high 30s, you don’t really feel like doing much in that weather. 

Becky, Stacy and I met at Cottesloe one of the nicest beaches in Perth to watch the sunset and have fish and chips – for them I had a veggie burger- it must be the thing to do on New Year’s Day in Australia as the beach was absolutely packed!!

It was fairly cloudy but the sunset was so beautiful, I couldn’t capture the beauty of it on camera one of the best sunsets I think I’ve ever seen. It was like the sun was putting on its first show of 2016, the clouds lit up all pinks and oranges and yellows beautiful against the white sand and turquoise water. 

As soon as the sunset though everyone was off to the chippie for their dinner. All in all it was a great way to start 2016.

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Lake Cave:

Since the last time I’d been in Maragret River I didn’t manage to get to see Lake Cave, it was something I really wanted to do whilst we were there over Christmas.  A couple of guys from the hostel were going so we tagged along with them. 

Lake Cave looked amazing in the pictures so I was really excited to go and have a look. It’s slightly different to Jewel Cave (which I saw last time I was in the area) in that it’s at the bottom of a massive cavern there are 500 steps up and down to Lake Cave. Once we were down there though it was amazing it had straws like Jewel Cave did but not as many and the main difference is that Lake Cave has water in it, it’s fed by an underground lake and it has a suspended table which was incredible to look at. It’s really difficult to describe but it is basically a mass of straws that over the centuries have come together to form one massive structure that hangs just above the water now, but once was attached to the cave floor. I’ve never seen anything like it before, really makes you think about how old the cave is and how many thousands of years it taken for the thing I’m seeing to have been created.

It’s much smaller than Jewel Cave and the 500 stairs back up were a bit of challenge, we made it without stopping! After that we headed to the beach for the rest of the afternoon to work on our tans, as Margaret River is home to some beautiful beaches.

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My Week in Freo Prison:

When I got back from the road trip South, I was fortunate enough to have some really lovely people in my room and we all got on brilliantly.  After a really funny week in Perth most of the guys had move on and there were two of us left.

We decided to head down to Fremantle (Freo) for a few days, which is a beach suburb of Perth about half an hours train journey from the CBD, (a little bit like St.Kilda for those of you that have been to Melbourne), it’s a beach suburb and has a real holiday vibe to it, there are people milling about everywhere and buskers.  Emily and I basically spent our week mooching around, from the beach to a little cafe back to the hostel.  Life was very hard in Freo.

The main reason Fremantle is famous though is the fact that it’s home to a former maximum security prison.  It only closed down in 1991, after a riot in 1988 and the public became aware of how bad conditions were there they had buckets for toilets right up until it closed. 

Being me and embracing my love of history I did 3 tours of the Prison one giving you a bit of back ground about the prison. On this you see the gallows where they hung people, there’s still a noose hanging up and everything! Not that many people were sentenced to death at Freo and only one woman, Martha Rendell whose story is notorious.  

She was accused of killing 2 of her 5 step children by brushing their throats with poison, many people thought she was innocent and kept claiming her innocence right up until her death.  Once she was sent to the gallows a ghostly apparition appeared in one of the windows of the chapel of her face but you can only see it at a certain angle.  There is definitely the outline of a face looking out the window and on other tours I looked for it from other angles you really can’t see it. Not sure what I make of that, the prison is very creepy and does have an air of something about it, the only thing I can compare it too is Alcatraz and I found it definitely has more of an eeriness about it than Alcatraz.  
I did that tour and the next one about escapes back to back, the escape one wasn’t nearly as good, our guide wasn’t as enthusiastic as Ben our previous guide and kept rolling his eyes.  There were a few interesting stories about attempted escapes, no one who tried to escape ever evaded recaptured.  My favourite story was about a guy who was transferred down to Perth from a country prison where he kept managing to escape by making holes in the wattle walls… So when he transferred to Freo they lined his solid lime stone cell with wooden panels, metal spikes and chained him to the cell at the ankles and neck, he last three days in the cell before a doctor came round and had a look at him he wasn’t doing so well in his current conditions, so he got moved to a maximum security cell and was given a job in the chain gang of breaking up lime stone and he had a pile of lime stone that was getting higher and higher each day until eventually the guards couldn’t see him but they could hear him chipping away… Until one day they couldn’t hear him any more he’d chipped his way out through the prisons outer wall!  What I found quite funny was there were a fair few stories of people escaping only to be caught again in the local pub, it’s so very Australian they went to all the trouble to escape just so they could have a pint!

The final tour I did was a torch light tour, having found the prison creepie enough during the day not sure why I decided the torch light tour would be a good idea.  It actually turned out to be my favourite tour of them all, when you arrive you get told to pick out the smallest and least powerful torch from a bucket that shines a tiny amount of light just you make you even more nervous.  Our tour guide was brilliant and you could see despite the fact he did this day after day he absolutely loved what he did and peoples reactions, he told us at the start that if we felt anything brush against us and there was no one there to take a selfie because sometimes things show up on camera that the naked eye can’t see.  We went through some of the parts I’d been to before and some new bits, but in the main cell blocks there are three levels with a net going across the second level to stop people committing suicide or other prisoners throwing them over the balcony.  When our guide was telling us about this a dummy got chucked over and landed on the netting scaring the life out of us all as we weren’t expecting it.  After the main cell block we got taken over to the solitary confinement block, as our guide Simon  was explaining that there are two door made of very thick tough wood and there was no getting through there at this point he banged on the door and out jumped a ‘prisoner’ again scaring the life out of us and making us jump, the guy started explaining about how being in solitary he got time alone with his thoughts he came right up and spoke right in your face and you’re just stood there half laughing half trying to back away. 

From solitary we were taken to the gallows again, as each prisoner who was sentenced to death was held in cell one of solitary for the two hours before they were due to go to the gallows.  The gallows were a lot creepier at night than they were in the day.  The walls around the gallows are painted sky blue to help keep the prisoners calm although they were blindfolded on the way to the gallows so wouldn’t have been able to see the walls anyway… Maybe it was to keep the guards calm as well?

After the creepiness of the gallows we got taken down to where the morgue was, but before we got there Simon stopped us to tell us about another escape story one I hadn’t heard before, when suddenly out of nowhere this other ‘prisoner’ appears and carries on telling his escape story this one had the creepy leery scariness of a prisoner down pat he came right up to me first as I happened to be in front of him and my reaction was to take a step back from him, I was actually pretty freaked out! After that we were taken to the morgue which did have a very weird feeling to it. It was the last stop on the tour as well, just to add to the scariness.

The hostel we stayed in in Freo was the YHA which was once the Womens block of the prison, and you can stay in cells there.  We weren’t in a cell just a dorm, there are watch towers still around the place especially in the prison yard where they now have hammocks you can see into one of the guard towers, which still has it wheelie chair in making it seem like someone is in there watching you.

I really enjoyed my time in Freo and would recommend a trip to the prison as a must for anyone who visits, they also have amazing weekend markets in Freo full of locally grown fruit and veg also worth a visit.

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South West Australia Road Trip Day 4:

Cape LueewinLight House and Busselton:

We splitup and dropped Maclean at the beach to go surfing whilst Julia and I went to visit Cape Lueewin Lighthouse, which is the most south westerly point of main land Australia and the point where the Southern and the Indian Oceans meet.  The lighthouse was stunning, it’s on a very windy out crop with amazing views out to sea all around.  We had an audio tour included in the price of the lighthouse and it  made me feel a little bit sorry for the lighthouse keepers, there were three of them and they worked 4 hour shifts so only ever got 8 hours off at a time and they had to carry up the massive cans of kerosene up the lighthouse.  We had a guided tour of the lighthouse, and walked right up to the top which involved four flights of steep spiral staicases, even our tour guide was puffing by the time we reach the top, it was so worth reaching the top as the views were just stunning and you can see clearly where the two oceans meet.  Our guide pointed out there is a massive rock not too far our from shore and around it the waves are ‘messy’ that’s the point where the two oceans meet.

On our way back to pick up Maclean from the beach we had to stop and wait for a Lizard to cross the road, that is about the most traffic we encountered on the trip! Once we were all together again, we headed to Busselton which is home to the longest wooden pier in the Southern Hemisphere. We were a little disappointed when we got there, as you had to pay $3 to just walk along the pier, there is a train that goes down it which is $12.  We decided not to do either but headed to the restaurant instead for some lunch and a glass of wine, afterwards we got a bit of time on the beach as it was the first day we’d had that was actually warm.