Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Vol 14 - The Last Edenhope Chronicles Ever

This is the last Edenhope Chronicles ever. This may be a relief for some. But don’t get too excited, it will be replaced with “The Cairns Capers”.

I’ve been back in Edenhope for over a month now. I’m not really sure what I’ve been doing this whole time but I’ll try to explain. As I said in the previous email I have been working on my website
www.travisyates.com.au and I watched most of the world cup. It’s been terribly cold and I’ve been sick 3 times now this month. It hasn’t been all bad news though as I’m back under the dreaded 100kg mark. It’s now raining as well which is good for the farm, it’s animals and crops. But not so good for my car. The birds like to stay indoors more which mean they shit all over it.

I’ve also been preparing for my move to Cairns. I’ve looked at a few flats and emailed a bunch of real estate agents. But they don’t want to know me. But I'm sure once they meet me in person they'll be happy to give me a place to live.

Other preparations include going to Melbourne to get a towbar and attaching it, buying a near new trailer (apparently it only carried a little old ladies purse to church on Sundays), and getting a tarp and ropes. Over the next few days, if there’s a break in the rain, I’ll be looking to put some stuff in it.

There’s an implied pressure from my parents, and society in general, to get a real job and socialise with people. So I also applied for a job at Travelex over the web. It’s a part-time job at the Cairns airport. I imagine I’d stand around and wait for people to come up and get some foreign exchange. I’m not sure why, possibly my lack of numeracy skills, but they didn’t even give me an interview. I guess I’ll have to stick to being a web guy. So far for the first 15 days of this financial year I made an operating profit of $2,000 USD. This is the most I’ve ever made but hopefully it will be consistent earnings. It doesn’t include expenses like electricity, web access, rent and FOXTEL but I still think it’s enough to survive on. I’m involved in a class action lawsuit against google
www.clicksettlement.com so if that comes in I could get another little bonus. Damn that google for making me all this money, lets sue them.

My other little project has been a Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) course. I just submitted the third assignment. It only cost about $250 USD to do the course and it’s all done over the web. I doubt it will qualify me for anything. But it could be handy if I score myself a Japanese girlfriend.

It was my birthday last week and I'm now 33. I've discovered that as you get older birthdays become less and less important. My parents must agree with me. All I got was this Delaware T-shirt. I'm not upset really, they actually gave me a discount off the money I owe them as well. Weird, it's as if they expect me to pay the money back or something.

In the next few days I’ll head up to Werrimull. Then a week or two after that I’m off to Cairns. Here’s to never cutting another load of firewood or wearing jeans ever again.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Vol 13 - Survivor - Fraser Island

Heading further south from Airlie Beach I found myself in Hervey Bay. There's not much to do in Hervey Bay except go to Fraser Island.... So I did.

Fraser Island is the world's biggest Island made purely of sand. It has several great beaches and pure fresh water lakes. It also has rainforest in the middle. No where else in the world has rainforest on sand. It is also inhabited by about 130 dingos. You can only travel around the island by 4WD.

After all my shenanigans I was feeling quite poor. So rather than taking a guided tour I chose the cheap backpacker option of a self-drive tour. They stick 10 random backpackers together, give them the keys to a 4WD and a bunch of camping gear. Then sit back and wait for the inevitable phone call saying the truck's been rolled, bogged or lost at sea.

It was a lot like a series of survivor. There were 20 of us split into two groups. Our group contained 4 Canadian girls all around 22 years old, a slightly older French Canadian couple, a 20 year old Northern Irish computer nerd, a large 29 year English woman, a quirky oddball Spanish guy called Kiko, and me. We were called team 2. I studied the group carefully, deciding who I should make an alliance with, who was likely to get immunity and who was going to get voted off first.

To our mutual disgust the English woman and I were dubbed mum and dad.

Our first task was to head to the supermarket and buy enough supplies for 3 days and 2 nights camping on a sandy island. Cultural differences soon became apparent. The french Canadians, despite 4 white loaves, 4 brown loaves and 4 buns were concerned we didn't have enough bread. In contrast the 4 younger Canadians despite 1 slab of beer, 1 goon sack (cask) of red and 1 goon of white were concerned they didn't have enough alcohol. I thought I'd be OK with 3 mixed vodka cans and a 700ml bottle of vodka.

Having the most driving experience, on the left hand side, in a 4WD, off road, and overall I was elected head driver. Also at 32 I was the oldest, and the others mistook this to mean the most responsible. I drove us to the ferry and while waiting for it to head off the 4 Canadian girls shot gunned a can of beer each. It was then I figured this trip could be quite fun.

On the island I negotiated the bumps and lumps of a very dodgey sandy track. It was established in the minds of the others that I knew what I was doing and was going to get them safely about the place. I even received some cheers from the now quite drunk Canadians. It was then I decided to give the Northern Irish kid a go at driving, after all who wants to be the sensible one. I quickly drank three vodka mixed drinks to secure my position in the back.

The poor kid was cruising along the flat sandy beach at around 80km/h when he hit the foot deep creek. This was ideal to secure my position on the Island. No one was going to vote me off now, and I got to have a few drinks in the back. However I no longer got any cheers from the girls. When you've been pidgeon-holed as the sensible dad it's hard to change your role in the team.

That night we made our way to Waddy point. We weren't sure if we could camp there but the Canadian girls saw some boys going that way. Since they voted as a group they usually held the deciding vote. The ranger informed us we actually had to book to camp there but since it was a bit quiet we'd be OK. They also said we could ignore the 9pm curfew since we were far enough away from the others. The only thing they asked of us was not to use native wood to start a fire. This would destroy the habitat of bugs and stuff.

We set up the tents, our cooker didn't work properly but we got to eat eventually, and we had a few drinks. I was well into my Vodka when two Aussie and two English guys spotted our 4 Canadians. They turned up with half a tree and offered to start a fire. We couldn't really stop them if we tried. All was going well when an Aussie guy fell off a wire fence and cut his head open. He really needed stitches but on Fraser Island there's no doctors so we used a plaster. Luckily no anaesthetic was required.

It was then the fire was put out and everyone was sent home to their camps. I was sure I only drank half a bottle of vodka but in the morning it was empty.

We were woken by the rangers at about 7:30am who were furious that we'd burnt native timber. Our group dobbed the visitors in. Although the rangers couldn't pin the fire on the visitors, they were fined for leaving food out for the dingoes and making noise too late. Justice was done in the end.

I took control of the 4WD and took us to the Champagne pools which were really great. You bathe in a pool of sea water as fish swim around you, and the waves crash over the rocks. Wacky Spanish guy Kiko came running down wearing baggy silky shorts, swimming goggles and wearing a whistle around his neck. We all cracked up laughing and one Canadian girl said "That Kiko, he's full of surprises".

That night we tried to camp at central station but realised it too was only for people who booked. It was getting dark and the group was split. The Canadians and Irish nerd wanted to go to the beach, the rest just wanted to set up camp there and risk a fine. I had the deciding vote (well the keys to the 4WD) and took the decision to head to the beach. We were at our lowest morale so I gave a "let's go team 2, cheer" which was followed by some Canadian "woo hoos" and we headed off.

Large English woman, who'd had the most concerns so far on the trip and had admitted she had control issues, was a little freaked about the dash in the dark. But when we made it safely she hugged me and said she was glad I got her there safely. I was perplexed as to why she was so concerned about her safety, from my point of view I didn't think she had much to live for. If it was survivor I'm pretty sure she'd be voted off first.

We ran into team 1. The Canadians were very happy since they had some hot boys in their group. But they all just got stoned and said not much. So it was a fairly quiet early night.

The next day we went to the highlight of the island, Lake MacKenzie. It's a great place for a swim in pure fresh water with a sandy beach. As the Canadians found out the lake also made a great bucket for a bucket bong. Determined not to be the sensible Dad I joined them and handed the keys back to the young nerd.

We made it home safely.... just.

I then headed down to Sydney to meet, Lisa, Olivia and Lucy who I worked with at Proximity. But first I met up with Lisa's twin friend Tash. The plan was to meet up with Lucy and Olivia and to check out Olivia's boyfriend. Unfortunately Lucy had forgotten she'd booked a flight to the Gold Coast. The rest of us had a nice night out in Manly. Despite the onset of a cold I managed to drink a large amount of wine. As you can see from this very familiar looking drunken photo Lisa and Olivia haven't changed a bit.

I'm now back in Edenhope and I've been sick for the last few days. Damn these southern states and their cold weather. Jon will be pleased to know I have to stop writing this volume of the Chronicles so I can run to the toilet and do a poo.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Vol 12 - Airlie is fairly cold

Well my last night in Port Douglas was the start of the Port Douglas festival. The biggest night in Port Douglas, there was a parade and everything. I hooked up with my cousins and watched the parade from the comfort of an incomplete accountant’s office.

They retired early but I continued on to the only night club still open. I decided that rather than appearing to be a pathetic loser standing by myself at the edge of the dance floor I might as well talk to the guy next to me. Thus reducing our total patheticness. Turns out he was a German Gigilo (although he didn’t like the term gigilo). He said he goes to functions with older rich women and pretends to be their date. He also works in a manual labouring job just to keep his body in shape. But he’s not a gigilo because he doesn’t always sleep with the women. I’m still not sure whether I met a guy with a strange job or a strange guy without a job. After all, his head was more boxy than a Volvo.

It was then back to Cairns to look at a few rental properties and soak up the sun. One night at Gilligans who should I spot but none other than Steven Bradbury. Australia’s greatest sportsman. You know the guy who won a gold medal in speed skating because everyone else fell over. I couldn’t think of anything funny to say, that hadn’t already been said. I just said, “I know you’re just trying to relax and have a beer so I won’t take too much of your time. Can I just get a photo?” So here it is. Goofy looking fella isn’t he.

Wednesday night was my last night in Cairns. I’d been to the sleazy pick up joint, called the Woolshed, just about every night. So why not go on my last night. After all they had a wet T-shirt competition. It was the first one I’d been to and I have to say I was quite impressed. First prize is $150. Just thought you should know..., Maria. :-)

After the competition I met and kissed a Japanese Volleyball player called Yoshimi. I had a bit of a “dig”. There was no need to “spike” her drink, since she wasn’t “blocking” any of my attempts. But just when I was all “set” it was “game over” and she went home. I’m hoping for a rematch.

Well I’m now in Airlie beach. Though the beach is more of a swamp and most people hang around the lagoon. But like Cairns is not all about the beach.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Vol 11 - Port Douglas is not a mirage

OK so by now I’d racked up many nights drinking in a row. It was definitely time for a break. But it was impossible to sleep in that dorm, and if you can’t beat them join them. After all it was Friday so it was back to the sleazy old Woolshed for another night of shenanigans. Two of the hot barmaids from the bikini night were in amongst the normal crowd. Not one to be intimidated (after a dozen beers) I started chatting to the best looking one. She was from the Netherlands. But part way through the conversation her friend (the other barmaid) cut in and said, "Excuse me do you realise she’s my girlfriend". I said "You’ll have to do better than that, that’s the oldest trick in the book. Some dodgey guy chats to you so you pretend to be lesbians". But she was adament "She really is my girlfriend and I’m getting jealous". Again I was perplexed "Of me?!?" I said. But she was quite convincing so I said, "You’re a very lucky woman" and left it at that.

Later on I was talking to some ladies from Northern Ireland. I told them about the time I drove the BMW with GB plates down Falls Road. For those unfamiliar with the Northern Ireland "situation" Falls Road is a staunch Catholic area and they hate the poms. She said, "Oh noo. You don’t wanna go duwn Falls rowd. I’m Catalic and I would ne goo duwn Falls rowd."

The next night was FA Cup final night. So we decided to have a night in at the TV. But the game didn’t start until midnight over here. So when some English guy from Birmingham pulled out his set of cards and poker chips and announced a game of Texas Hold em Poker, I said I’ll be in that. Hannah the gogo dancer was kind enough to be our dealer (and to give us a quick flash). Now I know what you’re thinking, "But Travis you said you’d given up gambling for good". Well this wasn’t gambling. About 5 of us played for $5 each the winner gets $20 second gets his money back. I’d say we played about 6 games and I either won, or came second in every game.

One guy said he’d played for 6 months online but didn’t know that 5 of the same suit was known as a flush. He called them 5 of a kind. Another guy went all in on a 4 and 7 off suit. His name was Stirling and in my mind now a 4 and 7 off suit is known as a Stirling.

Then the FA Cup started and although I no longer gamble I had some money riding on the game from 6 months ago. I won $60. I was drunk and offensive and rang and texted Jon (West Ham United fan) and Bal (Liverpool fan) back in England. I think my prouded moment was when I sent a text to Jon "You’d better get the washing up detergent and bend an old coat hanger because you’ll be blowing bubbles again tonight". This only makes sense if you know West Ham’s theme song involves the line "forever blowing bubbles, like our hopes they fade and die". Or some such nonsense.

But this is just me bragging and not particularly funny so back to my adventures.

We had a BBQ complete with Sparklers on the last night in Cairns. Here’s a picture of me and Mohawk guy. It’s pretty cool in Cairns, the BBQs are free and you’re right by the swamp. But at night the tides in and the swamp’s full of water and pelicans.

I left Cairns Monday morning for Port Douglas. After all the drinking and poker I was so tired that when I got to Port I slept for 14 hours straight. Tuesday night I caught up with my cousin Lloyd who informed me that it had rained in Port Douglas for 40 days straight. That record looks set to continue.

Yesterday I decided to check out Cape Tribulation. So named because when Captain Cook set out on his imperialistic journey of conquest he had some troubles (or tribulation) there. Obviously not as much tribulation as when he reached that island where they took his head. Was it the Cook islands? I’m not sure.

To get to Cape Tribulation you need to take a Ferry across some crocodile infested waters. For this reason I think they don’t allow you to leave the car. Anyway a bit further down the road I met a hitchhiker, his name of course was Mick. He was a 46 year old Tree Surgeon and quite the character. He lives 50 km north of Cape Trib on some kind of fruit farm. He was a really helpful guide and told me about all the trees, the history of Cape Trib, whether you can get further north without a 4WD, what town he was born in, the name of that tree over there, why the vine wait-a-while is called wait-a-while, his favourite fruit. The only thing he didn’t tell me is about the drugs he must have taken to get to the state he was in now.

But generally he was cool. He showed me a place where some lady brought up 4 kids in the jungle. After that the road was 4WD only. I was trekking through the jungle when I understood the full meaning of wait-a-while. The vine just grabs you and you can’t go anywhere you have to literally wait a while. Especially when it cops you in the forehead.

He was also kind enough to point out that I shouldn’t head downstream as there are crocodiles down there. Why they stay one side of the river and not the other I’m not too sure. But I didn’t see any so it must have been OK.

On the way back I stopped off at Mossman Gorge. Very scenic, very nice and a good place for a swim. At least it would be if you remember your togs.

I’m back in Port Douglas now and I’ll be having dinner at cousin Lloyd’s tonight. Tomorrow night is the street parade. His daughter and fiancé who live in Cairns will be there so it will be good to catch up and have some contacts there. It looks more and more likely I’ll be moving to Cairns.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Vol 10 - There's more to Cairns than the beach

Well well well what a time I’m having. I’m afraid this is a long one so go get yourself a coffee first.

The trip from Townsville was a fairly short one so I had time to check things out along the way. Apparently they had a bit of wind up here, or a cyclone if you want to be technical. I vaguely remember seeing something about it on the yahoo news items. I’d forgotten what they’d called it until I saw this van. So they are sending a message to a natural phenomenon saying we’re not intimidated by you, even though you took my roof and destroyed my bananas.

I guess it’s wrong to make light of the situation though. It’s destroyed people’s lives. You just know it’s serious when poor old Ronald has to fix up his sign. But that was Innisfail. It’s largely unaffected here in Cairns.

Just past Innisfail is the Josephine falls. I have it on good authority that they did a lifesavers ad there. Surprisingly there was no mention of it at the falls. Maybe they think there’s a whole lot more to life than lifesaver commercials.

I finally got to Cairns Monday and after all that driving I was keen to not do much for a while. So I went to check out the beach. Unfortunately the “beach” in Cairns looks like this.

Luckily it’s not so much about the beach here as I will now explain in the next few paragraphs.

I’m staying at Gilligans. Presumably a reference to the ever popular Gilligans Island, I wonder if I can pass at the Professor. It’s the best backpackers I’ve ever stayed in. It’s more like a resort than a backpackers. Though not many resorts are full of 20 year old Swedish girls. I chatted to the guys in my dorm. 4 of them were young German lads and one was a young English twat. It’s hard not to form a bad first impression when he has a 2 metre English flag hung up in the doorway, wears an English football strip and has a mohawk.

I was keen to have a quiet one since it was Monday. But the Germans offered me some of their 4 litre cask of Fruity Lexia. So I went out with the Germans and met up with some Swedes. One of the Swedes had a very strange accent. He looked Arabic but was born in Sweden. It took me a while to realise he was doing Borat (from Ali G) impressions. He was a funny guy, but a little offensive. He told his English roommate she was a minger. She took it surprisingly well. We were out until about 3am.

I got up quite late Tuesday and hung out by the pool. An Englishman wearing a football Strip started chatting to me. This immediately raised a red flag. Because;

1. He was wearing a English football Strip

2. We were surrounded by hot Swedish girls in bikinis, but he was chatting to ME

But he was closer to my age (29) so I thought I’d give him a fair go. I invited him up to the Swedes (or Eurotrash as he referred to them) room for a drink. Unfortunately he got more and more drunk, more and more offensive and more and more full of shit. He spilled his drink, sleazed on to a 19 year old English girl by licking her ear. This despite the fact that he told me he had an Australian girlfriend in Sydney where he’s living. Of course in the eyes of the Swedes I was guilty by association. I’ve had to make it clear that he’s just some guy I met at the pool and I’m sorry I brought him up here. I’ve now spent the last 3 days trying to avoid the guy.

But the night got better, the Swedes and I went out, and one guy brought along his girlfriend. She’d worked in a stripclub before as a drink waiter, but had been trained as a pole dancer. Luckily she was only too keen to practise this pole dancing on every no parking sign from Gilligans to the Irish pub. So to recap I spent a night out on the town with a hot young Swedish pole dancer. Yes there is more to Cairns than the beach. Oh and here’s a picture.

Wednesday night my friend and old housemate Andrew Middleweek and a few of his friends dropped by. I was picking them up from the airport at 10:25pm so I had to kill some time. The night market had traditional Chinese massage for only $20. I should sue them for false advertising. Not only was there no happy ending the guy giving the massage was Korean. I then went and watched Ice Age 2 at the cinema.

Andrew came to Cairns on his way to Bourketown where, a few months earlier his mates 4WD had to be abandoned due to flooding. I still haven’t heard if they managed to get it out. One of his friends knew a local police woman. She showed us some places on the town. She seemed quite nice and I thought she was attractive so of course I made fun of her. I think the first thing I asked was if she could get any drugs. Then when she went into a shop to buy cigarettes, I said “I thought you were getting a donut”. Yes I’ve still got it. She took us to the Irish pub which had Coyote girls dancing on the bar. I thought this was great until I got to the other major club in town and found out I’d missed the wet t-shirt competition. The guys had to go to bed early (about 2am) as they had a 8am flight. So I hooked up with the English twat from my dorm. Turns out he’s not a bad guy just a bit young, and northern. It’s really not his fault.

Thursday it was pouring rain. I managed to get my ass up to the gym. All this drinking is taking its toll I need to get some exercise. I was on the treadmill for half an hour. That’s the most exercise I’ve done in 6 months. I also planned to not drink but Andrew and his mates couldn’t get alcohol on their plane, so 6 cans and a bottle of red were left for me at the airport. Also they had gogo dancers in the bar downstairs. The Mohawk guy and I have another guy dossing in our dorm. He doesn’t have enough money to pay the $27 a night. So he’s in here until just before the cleaners come, then he folds up the sheets and sneaks into the TV room. He’s a bit of a metro sexual pretty boy and had a set of hair straighteners. I said I wonder what I would look like with straight hair. So they roped a friend of theirs Hannah Banana in to do the job.

Later on we get downstairs to watch the gogo dancers and it turns out Hannah is a professional gogo dancer herself, and better than the girls on the podiams. So to recap, I got my hair straightened by a sexy young gogo dancer. There’s really is more to Cairns than just the beach.