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On Wednesday, I packed my bags and was whisked unto the airport forthwith, although I'd tried to organise a transfer journey and then given up and resolved to take the train from Central. But it seems there was one organised anyway, so I piled in and off we went. then, sat around until 1:30pm because there was a problem with the aeroplane. Ah, technology, don't you love it? Finally we were underway and I arrived in Hong Kong that evening. I was knackered so went straight to bed after an hour's tour of the city and checking into the bewilderingly posh hotel, bell-boys and all. Nice.

Oh Thursday, the weather was warm and hazy. I decided not to do the tourist thang; I find that I see more on foot and I think it's a better way of exploring an unknown city. That's probably why I felt alienated by New York City a few years' back. Sightseeing doesn't really interest me; learning something about places from ground level is more my style. So off I went into Kowloon, walking a couple of miles to the touristy waterside area, then taking a Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour to Hong Kong Island. I must admit I cheated on lunch - the local MacDonalds filled a hole and was actually quite good as I had a grilled chicken burger. I was temted to eat local but my Cantonese and chopstick skills both leave a lot to be desired.

I spent a couple of hours walking around the island, not really getting any further than the Botanic Gardens and Zoo, a truly concrete jungle, then looping back to the ferry terminal, enjoying an impressive night-time view of the city. If there's one thing that Hong Kong does very well, it's night-time light shows.

To finish, I walked slowly back up Nathan Road and Waterloo Road, marvelling at the neon city; Hong Kong really comes alive after dark. All this for about 25p, wow!

Back at the hotel, I sank into the bed after my walking tour, watched a bit of telly, had some food at the hotel and readied my bags for departure. I didn't take any serious pictures there, but the 35mm came in very handy for happy snappies.

Friday morning, I had breakfast then prepared to leave. there was still quite a haze over the landscape, but the sun was warm and the bus journey to the airport was rather scenic; after leaving the city behind, we travelled through forested hillsides and over bridges connecting the islands, and water studded with more islands. there seem to be a lot of eucalyptus trees in Hong Kong for some reason. This is where I'd like to photograph if I had more time in Hong Kong, the mist-softened landscape is just gorgeous. But to the airport, and no delays this time; I boarded the plane and settled in for the 12 hour flight to London.


And so I'm back, but hoping it won';t be long before I return to Australia, hopefully for a longer time. But give me an English summer and I'll quite possibly want to stay here. I can still feel the sensation of flying, so I'm going to bed. Tomorrow's a new day, and I want to feel hopeful as my search for work starts on Monday. I know that I'll feel out-of-place for a while, but things will come good and I'll be back in no time...

Bed's calling - my own, old faithful bed. Take care all...
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Well it's my final day in Australia. I was thinking of getting the train out to Leura, but it's a little late for that now. So perhaps I'll take the ferry to Manly; it's a nice journey and it would be great to get my arse out of the city.

I'll be doing some shopping from those souvenir shops that clutter up the city, selling tatty junk that nobody really wants. But I'll be buying a DVD, some CDs and a couple of (hopefully tasteful) shot glasses, just to prove I'm not a totally heartless bastard.

Next stop Hong Kong. I'm not going to bother changing money because i'm only going to be there for a day. I can put it onto the credit card to save faffing about.

Ta ta, Sydney. See you in a few years, perhaps...
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Yesterday I met up with Karen and Steve in the city, we went to Darling Harbour via the markets, an area I haven't yet really walked around. We had a drink and some lunch at D.H., then back to the hotel for a drink. It was so good to catch up - I'm off to see Linda this afternoon. I guess the others are too busy to meet up, but that's life, i came into their city and I can't expect everything to stop for my benefit.

Then in the evening, i went to Newtown for to see The Waifs for the first time in about seven years. The Enmore Theatre is a lovely old Art Deco theatre, very period. The last time was in Birmingham when I missed my train home... I was standing at the back, behind the seated audience. I really should have pre-bought my ticket, Was miffed that people were talking through the set - when you go to a gig you don't go to talk, you go to listen to the music. You wanna talk? Go outside!

The gig was awesome, the support was pretty hot too, and it's great to see that they can still draw the crowds and do their stuff. I bought a CD, was gonna get a T-shirt but decided my wallet was thin enough :-) A very enjoyable evening.
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I went up to Katoomba yesterday, a little later than I wanted but got there eventually. Had a walk around the town enjoying the high quantity of antique shops, and found an excellent second-hand record shop that also sells playing equipment that I'll certainly use if I ever move my arse out here. The antique shops make antiques while-u-wait.

Then, a walk around the cliffs to see and photograph the views of the distant 'mountains' (not really mountains as such) and the Three Sisters, the photo that everyone takes. It's a beautiful place though. And I walked to Katoomba Falls, did some long exposure shots and walked back to the lookout for some dusk photography. I'm disappointed that the NPWS decide to floodlight everything, rather heavy-handed but that's obviously what the grockes want. Bloody grockles! :-)

No sooner had I logged on this morning than the fire alarms went off in the internet place, so after a leisurely breakfast at the YHA, it's back to the hotel to wait for Karen and Steve. then hopefully The Waifs gig tonight, though I think that's across the city so i need to plan that properly.
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I woke up too late for a morning dip, so I had a slow breakfast on the verandah after getting my bags packed and ready to go. I checked out and paid an owed $27.

Then, a walk around Bellingen town. I took the yashica and made some pictures on FP4 and bought a CD of local music from one of the groovy shops that make Bello what it is. I said goodbye to my hostel-mates, then Mat drove us (two English lads were leaving on the same train) to Urunga station, where we boarded the train for a nine hour trip to Sydney.

At least I had someone to chat to on the way. The lads are on their first visit to the city, I gave them a map and I hope they're finding their feet. I can be daunting at first, as can any new environment.

I'm disappointed I didn't get to Dorrigo this time, or Bundagen, but that's as good a reason as any to return in a few years. Oh, and I left a towel on the verandah...

The ride to Sydney was uneventful, passing through some beautiful landscapes and interesting-looking towns. The mostly sunny weather helped a lot, and I know I want to spend a year photographing this beautiful country that is mostly unknown to backpackers and tourists. There's a genuine spirit in Australia that, if one stills one's mind and appreciates what is around one, is revealed softly and slowly. the spirit of the land will speak to you and teach you, but on her terms, not yours. Those who travel will understand this, those whose minds are full of garbage won't. You know who you are.

And today, I wanna get some film developed and arrange to attend The Waifs' gig on saturday...
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As I was by the river yesterday I haerd a rumble of thunder. The storm broke last night, reaching its peak around 3am. To be honest it wasn't particularly dramatic, but today has been cloudy and cooler, although still with a warmth that an English summer would be proud of. The rain continued throught the day, showery and intermittent.

I booked a trip to Dorrigo Rainforest for today, but that's been postponed until tomorrow. So I had little to do except sit on the verandah and watch the rain. The Norwegian girls left us today, en route for Byron Bay. They were such fun to be around. I went for a walk along the Waterfall Way for a couple of miles, then to the park to watch the flying foxes set out for their nightly forage.

I've booked my train ride back to Sydney, arriving late on Wednesday evening after a nine hour trip. I really wish I could stay in Bello longer but it would be churlish to waste the hotel reservation in Sydney. Besides, I have people to catch up with.

Tomorrow I must do some washing; I thnk I have just about enough to justify using the hostel's laundry. Hopefully it won't rain so that I can dry it all.
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Yesterday was market day in Bellingen, the monthly market is an event rather than a shopping trip. The busy stalls were assembled around an arena in the local park, with a music stage and entertainments. Stalls were selling books, records, clothing, food produce and almost anything that's normally found in a marketplace. Bello markets have a wonderful, busy, vibrant atmosphere, and draw people from a wide area. I spent an hour or so looking around the stalls, then sat in front of the music stage enjoying a local female-vocal duo. A very enjoyable morning.

Later on, Matt the night manager took four of us to The Promised Land, a forested area where the Bellinger River flows through. There's a large pool of fairly still water and we took tyres or 'tubes'; since I don't swim I sat inside the tube and paddled out, managing to navigate my way fairly confidenlty to the other side. Then I allowed myself to drift with the current, which was a bit of a mistake as I was pulled over a 'rapid' and almost another. The women drifted down to the bridge and Got out there; I wasn't game so I just walked across the sharp pebbles to the mini-bus. That was fun though.

A few of us went to the Federal Hotel for some drinks; I'm amazed the changes that have been made to the place. It's been renovated and totally refitted since my last visit. Even Mike would approve!

Taday was a really humid, sticky day that just called for lots of verandah time. I went to the river early this morning, hoping there'd be a nice mist but it wasn't as thick as I'd hoped. But the other direction, towards Dorrigo, was misty along the ground but the mountain was clear, so I made a few pictures. Then I grabbed a morning dip, which was lovely and refreshing.

Sitting around the hostel isn't my idea of a great time, but there wasn't much else one could do in this heat. I found my old bathing spot at Bellingen Island, scrambled down a cliff to find a rocky foreshore, which was fine. But just along the river was a lovely sandbank which I reached with a little effort. It's like being on a beach, the sand gently sloping into the water. The cows didn't mind my prescence, so I'll definitely visit this spot again.
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Yesterday I walked to the lookout, or at least tried to, but I took the wrong road. There on the ground, just beside the road sat a nice, crisp, yellow $50 note! Yayness; that made my day -I must have done something right. :-) And I found some great views over the valley, but not over the town. Ah well, it was a nice walk anyway.

So I've extended my stay until Monday, did a little shopping and booked the moonlight canoe tour. The moon was full, the night mostly clear and I decided I'd go. The canoeing was awesome, although I had a sharp learning curve in steering and keeping up with the others in the group. At one point we went into a very dark creek where lots of logs had recently been washed up; the leader didn't even know they were there. Lots of padelling to keep myself away from them failed, but eventually I managed to bypass them. We reached a natural amphitheatre where the moon shone brightly, although a little cloud covered the stars. It was pretty amazing though.

Then we returned to the base slowly, rowing out into the centre and letting the currant take me a little way, gazing up at the stars and the moon in the quiet dark, the sounds of the insects and other night creatures all around us. When we were back on dry land, a glass of champagne and a chat with the organiser, then back to Belfry Lodge, rather wet but very happy! I'd recommend this to anyone. :-)
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I went out to the coast at Port Macquarie again on Wednesday evening for some more night photography. Well I really wanted some sunset/early evening pics but I was a little late leaving the hostel, so that when I finally arrived it was dark. But the waxing moon was almost full and cast a bright, silvery glow upon the landscape. The sea was amazing, with breakers rolling in and smashing into the rocky cliffs and headlands. If there was only one coastline I could visit, this would be it. My exposures were 30 - 40 minutes at f11 (100 ASA, 21 DIN), which I hope will gove me the efects and detail that I want.

The next morning I packed my things, grabbed breakfast and was dropped in Port M. Caught the bus to Wauchope and arrived two hours before the train was due. Wauchope is a small country town and the station was almost empty. The staff invited me to leave my bags there and take a stroll around the town, which I did, and enjoyed a lovely long black coffee at a local groovy cafe. Then back for the train, took a few piccies on the Bronica from the platform. The train was delayed 35 minutes and finally arrived. I enjoyed the slow meandering trip through farmland and small towns into rainforest land, as we approached Urunga. There I was greeted by the YHA driver and was on my way to beautiful Bellingen.

Arriving here, I took a stroll out to sere the flying foxes (big bats) that roost in the trees around the river, then a nostalgia tour of the town. The hostel has changed somewhat since I was last here, but it's still the most chilled-out place in the YHA network I've visited. This morning I went to the river with the Bronnie for some photography, there was mist but I'd missed the dawn so will attempt that tomorrow. Tonight there's a full moon kayaking trip, that should be great fun, and tomorrow is market day, so I didn't miss out after all. Cameras at the ready, f11 at 1/60th abd be there! :-)
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So, I'm still in Port Macquarie today. I extended my stay for another night, leaving tomorrow and going straight to Bellingen, hopefully in time to catch the monthly markets. I booked myself on the train but forgot to book the pick-up from Port Macquarie, but I think a local bus service may be a better idea. But IDK, so I'll riong Countrylink in a whilst.

Yesterday, I visited the local beaches and found that Shelley Beach doesn't attract nearly as many visitors as those nearer the town centre. So I re-visited it last night after dark. The sky was pretty clear when I left the hostel, but as I arrived the clouds opened; thankfully the local trees offered me shelter until it passed. Then it cleared again, the growing moon lighting the landscape and providing just enough light for some night shots; 35 minutes at f11. I only managed one exposure so hopefully I haven't wasted my time.

Today is sunnier and quite warm, pleasant and not fiercely hot. So I might just grab a camera and do some more wanderings...
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The train ride from Newcastle to Wauchope was blissfully uneventful and comfortable; I just sat back and watched the scenery slip past. The train passed though towns, farmland and forest, with some misty hills for good measure. You could hardly accuse the train of being fast; I think XPT must mean something different out here. I wished at several points I could stop the train, jump out and set up my camera; the cloudy, rainy weather seems to accentuate the greens of the country.

I arrived in Wauchope and the bus ride to Port Macquarie was also uneventful, although I mised the hostel's free pick-up at the bus station. Totally lost, I asked at the pub next door and was directed to the correct place by the friendly barman. After stashing my stuff away, I walked around the town and back to the pub for a pint on Toohey's Old.

So, now to explore and consider my next move. I'm considering skipping out Coffs and goint straight to Bellingen.
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The weather here is cool, with a strong onshore breeze. Yesterday I walked part of the coastal footpath, discovering the wartime fortifications along the cliffs. There's a fantastic viewof the city of Newcastle from the King Edward Park, but the weather was decidedly un-photographic. Nice light for portraiture though. So I haven't done much photography on this trip yet; I'm hoping that will change soon.

I booked my onward journey, decided to skip Port Step[hens and go further up the coast to Port Macquarie. The train 13:55 goes to Wauchope (pron. 'war-hope') then there's a coach to Port Macquarie. I have to take the local train to Broadmeadow. I booked it by 'phone using the hostel payphone I fed it 75c, ended the call and about $3 came out. How's that for a win? I love Telstra payphones... ;-)

So it's farewell Newcastle, I'd like to have stayed longer but time's a wastin'. Gotta keep movin on...
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Well I made it to Newcastle, had a slow-ish train ride up from Sydney. I spoke to an English lad from Bolton whose been travelling around the world for a year and taking off to South America soon. When I was twenty I hardly even left Northampton, so there you go.

The town is quite interesting, and there's a bit of landscape too, so I'll be out with the camera later. I walked around the beaches yesterday, then into the town centre a little. I'll explore a little further today.

The hostel is pretty cool, but the place is full of surfies so there's not much common ground there.
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I'm off to Newcastle today, with no solid plans beyond the two days I've booked there. Hopefully I'll be going onwards to Port Stephens, but that depends upon transport being available. I think there's a train service, so i'll see...

The public transport system in Sydney is so much better that that in the UK, especially in Northampton, that I wonder why we can't have the level of service in England. I suppose it's because there's been constant investment in the infrastructure and rolling stock, whilst in the UK we see penny-pinching and grumbling about the cost. What a contrast - the directors of First and Stagecoach should spend a few weeks out here and learn a few things!

So I'm off now, be good everyone. And if you can't be good, be careful. :-)
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I spent most of yesterday arvo at Cronulla, had a walk around the coastline. I was struck by the way the elements have eroded the sandstone cliffs into some impressive shapes. I loaded my TLR with FP4+ and made a few pictures which I'm hoping won't show the litter strewn around the place by lazy wankers. That really spoils a very interesting place and saddens me. Why can't people have more respect?

So, it's my last full day in Sydney, and what shall I do? Think I'll bomb over to Bondi Beach for a while and hang out with the trendies. I'll also try and pop in to see Uncle Norm and Auntie Jean for a while, then I need to sort out my stuff for travelling. I really wish I hadn't bought so much stuff, wish i could leave it in Sydney. My winter coat is quite heavy and isn't exactly required here; I'll have to lug it around NSW for no particular reason. Oh well...

My plan is: Newcastle, Port Stephens, Coffs Harbour, Bellingen then back to Sydney on the 23rd. Then I have seven days and it's back to England.
raspberryfool: (The wind changed...)
...saw my long-awaited return to Oxford. I caught the train to Milton Keynes Central, where I scurried outside to find I'd just missed the bus, so I waited half an hour, paid a ridiculous £10:90 and sat back, enjoyed the scenery and some Sheryl Crow on the iPod. The countryside was typically 'rolling' South Midlands fare; not particularly interesting but pleasant nonetheless. I say 'rolling', but it was more like 'stretching and yawning', being just too lazy to roll. The fields looked quite parched, which is hardly surprising because we haven't had any decen rain since May.

As I left the bus station at Gloucester Green, I discovered I couldn't find my mobile telephone, so I rushed back the the stop where the bus was still taking on passengers for its return journey. I jumped back on, returned to the seat I'd occupied and looked along the floor and in between the seats but to no avail. 'Oh bugger', I thought as I thanked the driver. Then I searched my pockets again, and the bag in which i was carrying my waterproofs (it was threatening rain all day!) to find it nestling there in the botton. A sigh of relief and I went for my usual stroll about the city. Camera bag slung over my shoulder, I looked a typical tourist, but then so does everyone in Oxford in the summertime.

I took along two cameras, one my Chinon S.L.R. loaded with my last roll of soon-to-be-gone-forever Kodachrome and my Dad's 1938 Zeiss Ikonta loaded with Ilford FP4 +. It was the Ikonta I wanted to test out; the Chinon was only along for the ride, but passers-by didn't blink an eyelid as I opened its bellows and raised it to my eye. Try that in Northampton and you'd get 'Oooooh, that's an old camera. can you still get film for it?'. Something tells me the Oxfordians have seen it all before!

I took a stroll by the Thames (or 'Isis' as the Oxrodians call it!) and through the parkland, and fortunately when the rain did fall i was next to the various University boat sheds, which provided convenient shelter until it passed. So that was lucky!

In all, I enjoyed the afternoon; it was good not to have to rush and worry about getting back for the last bus to Northampton, but rather expensive on transport costs. But I'd certainly make that journey again, maybe in a few month's time.

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