Let’s not beat about the bush; working in the Australian countryside
By Jenny Dempster
I thought I knew what the sky looked like, I see it every day after all. However I never grasped just how big it truly is, until I moved out of the UK and into the Australian countryside. Arriving evening time at my host farm for the next five weeks in Goomeri, near Gympie, I expected not to be able to see anything until the morning. Except the harvest moon was high in the night sky illuminating the landscape, without a streetlight in sight. The sky was awash with countless stars. Without any tower blocks or other large buildings to break up the view, it seemed everlasting. I could even see the Milky Way, with its cluster of stars spiralling across the sky.
The next morning I woke to the sound of the birds cawing in the trees. A king parrot perching on a branch sat staring at me through the window, its emerald green wings and feathers a bright fire engine red glowing in the sunshine. It made a change from the dirty grey pigeons outside my home in England. The farm was a 500 hectare cattle property surrounded by rolling hills, grazing land and blue gum ridges. The main homestead, a large 100-year-old typical Queenslander bungalow, boasted plenty of character with its old beams, intricate wooden carvings and beautiful views onto the land beyond.
During the course of my stay I was given the opportunity to try new activities and learn relevant working skills. On property in the outback gathering animals in to the yards is too big a job by foot, so instead motorbikes, horses and on very large properties helicopters are also used for mustering. Regretfully the farm didn’t have its own helicopter free for me to use, but I was given a chance to ridie a motorbike. Within the first five seconds I’d performed a very unintended wheelie and fallen off. However once back on and my clutch control sorted, I was off whizzing through the trees, dodging pot holes and large rocks out on the dirt tracks.
The farm was home to 80 cattle that I helped work in the yards. This included a lot of huffing and puffing at the cows who mooed in reluctant response as we moved and separated them into manageable numbers. As I had never been this close to a cow before in my life, I was at first a little nervous. However with clear guidance and encouragement from the farm manager I soon began getting into the flow of separating, moving and numbering the herd.
One of my favourite activities during my time at the farm however was learning to horse ride. Nothing can quite beat the views that unlock for you once on top of a horse. My ride, ‘Bull’, was incredibly agile along the rocky verges and covered more ground in one hour then I could have in a day. We weaved our way through the trees and scrub until the acres of rolling pasture opened out in front of us and we cantered off (with me holding onto the saddle as tight as possible). But it wasn’t just the physical expectations I came to understand whilst working on a farm, it was also the mentality. On stations out in the real bush the nearest town can be hours away and the choice of food is sparse. You are expected to eat all of what is given to you and not waste – a concept that is so often forgotten out in the city. Politeness, cleanliness and a willingness to learn is also a key ethos of farm life.
During my time out in the countryside I experienced a taste of what real working life in the Australian outback can be like. It can be hard working in the midday heat and stressful when you’re in dangerous situations with stressed-out cattle, but it is an experience you’re not going to get anywhere else in the world. The bush truly is iconic to life down under and spending time in the outback will provide you with memories, good and bad, to take with you on the rest of your travels.
To see more Blogs from Jenny check out – www.ajdjourney.com
YHA New Zealand:
Everyone knows there is no place like home however, when traveling you would like your accommodations to be the next best thing. If you are a college student tracking every penny spent and earned like myself, you aren’t looking to stay at a five star hotel. Hostels are the perfect living arrangement for anyone looking to feel comfortable and safe without breaking the bank.
I spent my 2015 spring break exploring the beautiful New Zealand. I was so caught up in booking excursions that I completely forgot to reserve a place to stay. I was overwhelmed to say the least when I saw how many accommodation options there were to choose from. I finally decided to book my stay with a hostel called YHA, and I’m so glad I did.
While in NZ, I stayed at two different YHA hostels. The first was the standard YHA accommodation and the second was YHA Lakeside. Upon my arrival to YHA, a friendly face at the front desk greeted me. I was next provided with a room key and a lockout code. I expected to receive a key, but the lockout code was a pleasant surprise.
For those who are unfamiliar with the purpose of a lockout code, it is a five-digit code that you must enter on a pad outside of the YHA front door in order to get inside between the hours of 10PM and 6AM. Anyone who is not staying at YHA does not have access to this code. I had never stayed in a hostel prior to my spring break in New Zealand and was nervous about intruders. This security code allowed me to rest easy and know that I would be safe throughout the night.
The rooms inside YHA were a pleasant surprise as well. My living accommodations included four bunked beds, clean sheets laying on the end of my bed, a dresser complete with a mirror, a flat screen TV, outlets sufficient for four people to charge their electronics, and a tidy bathroom with a sink, shower, and toilet. Down the hall from my room was a kitchen and lounge. This area was filled with people watching TV, chatting over a cold beer, or making dinner. Everyone I encountered while relaxing in this space was nothing but friendly and respectful.
Last but not least, YHA has free WiFi. I understand surfing the Internet or scrolling through social media isn’t first on anyone’s “to-do” list while abroad. However, this feature came in handy when I had to make plans to meet up with friends or notify my parents that I’m still having the time of my life.
The second YHA hostel I stayed in was YHA Lakeside. This accommodation spot is only a twenty-minute walk from the YHA. As you probably guessed, this hostel is positioned right on Lake Wakatipu. Before I had seen YHA Lakeside I concluded that the lakeside view accounted for the $2 increase in price per night compared to the YHA. Once I entered the building I discovered the small price increase was for much more than a lakeside view.
YHA Lakeside offers everything that YHA does and more. YHA Lakeside had beautiful rooms that included a bathroom and also offered a community bathroom on each floor. In this community bathroom, you had access to a hairdryer. If you are packing light but have long and thick hair like myself, this hairdryer seems heaven sent on chilly nights in NZ.
In addition to a lounge, YHA Lakeside offered an office space. This massive room had computers and desks that were ideal for business professionals and students that needed to complete work while on holiday. The computers could also be utilized to research and book exciting excursions while in NZ.
Traveling should always be a pleasant experience. To ensure you have the best possible memories of your trip, I suggest you stay in a YHA hostel. Let me assure you, you won’t find cleaner living spaces, better prices, or friendlier staff elsewhere. With that being said, travel now and thank me later!
By Hannah Davis
Most college spring breakers road trip to a local beach to spend their week of freedom, but mine however was spent quite differently. I resided in beautiful Queenstown, New Zealand for my break.
We departed Sydney and headed to this popular tourist destination early Friday morning. Queenstown is located in the South Island, it’s surrounded by breathtaking mountain ranges and overlooks Lake Wakatipu. You truly get the best of both worlds when visiting Queenstown.
After a quick three-hour flight, we had landed in a place so stunning it looked fake. The view was something I thought I would see only on a computer screensaver. The hundreds of pictures I snapped throughout the course of the trip cannot do the scenery justice. After we checked into our hostel the first thing on our Queenstown to-do list was the famous Fergburger.
I had never heard of the iconic burger joint, but everyone I was travelling with could not stop raving about the restaurant’s massive burgers. These gourmet burgers were well worth the hype and the long wait! I ordered the Tropical Swine burger complete with fries, of course. The delicacy included a single beef patty, American streaky bacon, cheddar cheese, pineapple, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli, and tomato relish. Talk about stuffed!
Saturday was my first full day spent in Queenstown and it was my favorite by far. I went canyoning! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the sport, the goal is to navigate your way through canyons filled with rushing rapids, scale down walls of weathered rock, and take leaps of faith off cliffs in order to make it to the end of the canyon in one piece. Anyone who has the opportunity to visit Queenstown, I highly suggest going canyoning. I would do it again in a heartbeat. When I return to NZ one day, it will be the first thing on my to-do list.
On Sunday, I hiked for almost three longs hours before finally making it to the top of Queenstown Hill (which should be called Queenstown Mountain)! However, the view from the top was nothing short of incredible. Later in the day, I rented a bike for a steal of $35 for a total of eight hours. Once my helmet was buckled, I headed straight for Lake Wakatipu. The perimeter of the massive lake stretches for miles so I barely made it a quarter of the way around. I cut my ride short to rest my legs by the lake. I became hypnotized by the beautiful scenery and ended up sitting there until sundown.
On Monday, I woke up early to ride the Shotover Jet! This jet boat ride unique to Queenstown has been thrilling millions of people for over 50 years. The sleek boat takes approximately 10 passengers through a narrow river at top speed. The driver weaved in and out of the rocks and did enough 360s to last me a lifetime!
On Tuesday, we drove about 3 hours to a town called Te Anau. Our trip to Te Anau began with a Glow Worm Cave Tour! These critters illuminate light green to attract flies. Once the flies fly toward the light, they get trapped in the glowworm’s web (similar to a spider). Te Anau is also home of what I decided is the official 8th wonder of the world: Milford Sound. On Wednesday morning, I excitedly boarded a cruise ship to get a two-hour tour of The Sound. As the ship cut through the crisp morning air, I stared at The Sound in amazement. The combination of crystal clear water, rocky cliffs that supported lazy seals, waterfalls, and rainbows was unreal. A two-hour tour was only a fraction of the time I needed to absorb The Sound’s beauty.
I drove back to Queenstown for my final two days of spring break. I spent my last day in New Zealand river surfing through grade four rapids! I just had to seize this opportunity because there are only 2 places in the entire world where you are able to river surf. One location is the Zambezi River in Africa and the other is in New Zealand. Half of the time I moved swiftly and silently on my board through the rocks and the other half was spent battling rough rapids! By sundown on Thursday I was absolutely exhausted, but wished my week in New Zealand would not have came and went so quickly.
My plane left New Zealand at 9:40AM on Friday morning and with the time difference, I was back in Australia by 11:00AM. Once I got back to my apartment I took a well-deserved nap. I am anxiously awaiting the time when I have saved up enough money to return to the beautiful land of New Zealand.
Traveled 6th-13th March 2015
Vast is an understatement, I peek out the window as we come into land and the view is just awesome. I am about to land in the very centre of Australia, at Yulara (Uluru) Airport. As my plane descends I begin to grasp the scale of the world’s largest monolith (rock).
I’ve been wanting to visit Uluru for many years and my excitement is almost tangible. Yulara will be the starting point of my very first ‘Aussie Outback Adventure’ and where better to experience the true outback but in Central Australia. I am also touring Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon and visiting Alice Springs.
After my airport pick up I meet my 18 travel companions and Nick, our Adventure Tours Australia guide for the next three days. Nick explains that Kata Tjuta, our first stop, is the lesser known cousin of Uluru but will be no less spectacular. On arrival my eyes are immediately drawn to the formation of the 36 individual domes. Tony, an Aussie in our group, tells us the highest point of Kata Tjuta is actually higher than Uluru. Mount Olga, is 546 metres, 200 metres higher than Uluru.
Kata Tjuta has a magnetic quality about it and draws you in. We walk around the formations for a couple of hours and are mesmerised by the beauty.
Later that day Nick takes us to a viewing area for the renowned Uluru sunset. After the sun goes down the outback surprises you. We are travelling in July (mid-winter) and while the days are warm (18-24’C) the evenings are bitterly cold (-2’C). So if you are travelling on a budget and sleeping in a tent or a swag (a waterproof sleeping bag cover) be prepared for a cold night. Some say the swags are warmer than the tents. I say not in the middle of the night when you’re getting up for a leak.
The benefits though far outweigh the night cold – sunsets, sunrises, campfires, starry nights, full moons in the outback – all truly spectacular!
We get up early, have a hot cooked breakfast and are back on the road to the platform for the sunrise over Uluru. Its just amazing how different the red colours are from the sunset the night before. The rock really changes colour and makes for the perfect picture.
Following sunrise we meet Vincent – our Mala walk guide. He is both Aboriginal and political. But I really think all he wants to do is impart something of the central Australian indigenous culture to tourists. Their stories are handed down Aboriginal generations, but interestingly from grandparent to grandchild, skipping a generation
We are asked not to photograph parts of the rock or climb it. Vincent explains that as he isn’t a part of the local tribe and therefore he hasn’t ‘climbed the rock’, so why should we. I respect the Aboriginal people and the local tribe so I won’t be climbing Uluru.
I could have gazed upon Uluru for days but then there is Kings Canyon. With its sheer cliffs, remote waterholes and bluffs it has to be see to be believed. We enter into our 5km hike, I am shocked by the rock walls. They looked to be painted and placed in a gallery instead of a desert. This is a place of remarkable beauty.
by Chris Harrison
• Adventure Tours Australia,
3 day Uluru Safari 1300 654 604 adventuretours.com.au
Today started with a short drive to Undoolya Cattle Station. Its still family owned and is currently home to the 6th generation of the Hayes family.
I’ve come to get an adrenalin high with some quad-biking around the oldest working cattle station in the Northern Territory. No licence necessary, just a quick safety briefing and I climb onboard a 400 horse power Polaris Quad Bike. Within minutes we are off down the nearest dry creek bed and kicking up dirt as we go. Details about mustering up the livestock, calving and waterholes are all included in the tour.
There is plenty to keep you busy in Alice – the free walking tour from the visitor centre on the mall is a good place to start. Also drop into the Reptile Park for an hour or two. See some of Australia’s deadliest snakes and listen an informative talk. The Kangaroo Sanctuary (kangaroosanctuary.com) is an excellent evening activity. Don’t miss Brolga (the owner) fighting with Roger the big male red kangaroo.
by Chris Harrison
• Outback Quad Adventures,
2 hour tour 08 8953 0697
• Reptile Centre, 08 8952 8900
• The Kangaroo Sanctuary,
08 8953 0127
Fly: Virgin Australia and Jetstar fly directly from Sydney to Uluru. Qantas fly to Alice Springs but check prices and book early.
Car: Adelaide to Alice Springs is over 1,500kms and takes over 16 hours.
Train: The Ghan has been travelling Adelaide to Darwin and back for over 80 years.
When you study abroad it is natural to miss home. There will be things that will remind you of your country and culture but one of the things you miss most is your sports team.
I am from The United States living in Sydney, Australia. Things are similar here to the US but one of the big differences is Football.
We call it soccer in the states but that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to play. The FIFA World Cup is just one thing you can’t miss experiencing even if you are abroad.
The game started out as if Portugal nor us wanted to make the first move on 23 June. That all changed in minute 5 when the US let the excitement hit and let themselves become overwhelmed and then Nani (#17) score.
Even though it was Portugal who scored it seemed to light a fire under the US more than Portugal. We dominated the field keeping Ronaldo under control and made many attempts for a goal with no luck.
After the half, the US still had the fire and were ready to show the world that even if they are “underdogs” they deserve to be here. The crowd had been chanting, “U-S-A, U-S-A,” and Jermaine Jones (#13) gave them just what they wanted in minute 64, a goal.
As the game was now tied 1-1 and even the people not cheering for the US was excited. The atmosphere changed. I wasn’t sure if that was because they were happy it was a good game? Happy the underdogs were making a run for it? Or that Cristiano Ronaldo still hadn’t scored?
Portugal was not giving up so easily, we should had remember that later on in the game, and they started to speed up game but the US hung right with them.
Attempt after attempt on both sides seemed the game was going to end 1-1 until the US Captain, Dempsey, was given the green light. As the US was near Portugal’s goal and doing their best trying to score they didn’t want any plenties to get in their way. Dempsey (#8) saw his chance and so he took the ball off his chest and scored in minute 81.
As everyone in the stadium and around the world watched in shock couldn’t help but be excited for a team that no one thought was going to make it to the next round but actually might beat Portugal and help send the Iberian Peninsula packing.
But when you are playing Cristiano Ronaldo you shouldn’t take things lightly even if he is having an off game. One of Ronaldo’s off games is still better than some players best.
The US started to take some of the starters out and give the substitutes a chance to play and even took out Captain Dempsey. A mistake they would soon regret because Portugal still had enough time.
All in the last 30 seconds the win over Portugal was taken away with an assist from Ronaldo (#7) to Varela (#18) to score with a head butt. Turning the game into a draw, 2-2 and leaving Americans feeling like if you don’t win you lose. Which is definitely the culture we have.
Regardless of how the game turned out I’m pleased that this is the most watch national sporting event by Americans ever bringing in nearly 25 million viewers. Although we didn’t win, we always support our USA’s teams playing, even if they are far away from home or we are.
By Sierra Lynn Glasscock
Imagine the experience you could have to see the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge illuminated in lights during Vivid Sydney as you enjoy the breeze from the ocean while on a harbour cruise.
The horn sounds signalling the start of my adventure. I claim a place outside on the front of the boat for my hour and half ride. As the Fantasea boat leaves King Street Wharf 8, Darling Harbour and heads toward the Sydney Harbour Bridge I feel the excitement that is Vivid Sydney.
Everyone is getting their cameras ready to capture this annual event. I see Sydney Harbour Bridge and it is lit with an array of neon lights. I can’t help but be mesmerised by the changing colours and the backdrop of the city skyline.
I feel surrounded by the show as the boats highlight the ocean. Then, my eyes are torn away to see the main attraction in my eyes – the Sydney Opera House.
Vivid Sydney makes the Opera House a masterpiece with each changing image of artwork and colour. The music is the perfect punctuation to the images projected on the sails of the Opera House.
I felt like I could look at the Opera House for days and be completely happy. Sadly all good times come to an end and we turned around and I went to the back of the ferry for a final view. We went under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and I lingered at the neon lights a few moments as we near Darling Harbour.
As we docked and I exit this Fantasea cruise I feel a sense of completeness, to see Vivid Sydney should be on everyone’s bucket list and I can now tick the box.
I cruised with Fantasea Adventure Cruises, you could also see the passing Whales on the Famous Bondi Boat. Or Sydney Seven Wonders Coastal Adventure, see fantasea.com.au for more details.
By Sierra Lynn Glasscock
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