Sunday, 2 August 2009

I'm a Lumberjack and I'm okay.... oh and the beging of my New Zealand saga

Hello All from the not so sunny climbs of the Canterbury plains/ Christchurch and christ is it cold!

Well I guess I'd better tell you lot what I have been up to for the last couple of weeks in New South Wales.

After getting quite possible the worst night bus(worse than SE Asian night buses and that's saying something!) to Sydney from Byron Bay I spent the morning in a skanky Internet cafe. I arrived in Sydney at 6 but was not meeting Tom Jansen till 10 which meant that I spent a good hour freezing my arse off on a Central Station platform.

Right the bit before this was written ages ago, I know I am a tad behind on the whole updating the blog thing. I have a job now so you have to forgive me... plus I'd rather go to the pub!

SO lets continue:

Tom picked me up form Roseville station in northern Sydney before spending the afternoon running around Chatswoo/ Chatswong aka Chatswood on the family errands. It was a bit strange at first as I had never met Tom or any of his family before but after a while I felt at ease.

The drive out to Wisemans Ferry was quite stunning really, out along a ridge top looking across the Sydney basin to the Blue mountains in the distance (so named not because of the colour of the actual mountains but due to the blue haze that can be observed on some days arising from the huge number of eucalyptus trees, neat huh!).

Well Wisemans Ferry is gobsmackingly beautiful, Tom owns a plot of land right on the waters edge of the great Hawksbury river, "jazz club". I ended up staying just over a week with Tom, Amanda, Jacob, Emma and Jo and also ended up extending my time in Australia for a few days because I was having such a blast. Tom is by trade a tree lopper and I ended up becoming for a few days during my stay, fine for me as I was earning a few bob (which I quickly spent, oops). First days pay cheque 200 aussie dollars, whoooaaaa I like this job beats office work any day. It is hard work but its outdoors and manual which I prefer and its different everyday, like some days we're chipping a 2 ft diameter tree whilst on others we're pulling down a 60 ft-ter with ropes pulleys and a 4X4!

Days off were spent in a tinney on the river scouting for some fish running out of petrol and floating with the current, walking through the local park and in the Pub! I had some excellent evenings there drinking beer round some rather large bonfires, at the pub bench or on the veranda with Tom Amanda and a fair few of their friends. I also managed to get a job in New Zealand through one of Toms friends Bycie.

I enjoyed my time in Wisemans Ferry so much that if I have the chance and the money I'll get a flight back there for a week or so in November!

Sydney was spent on foot pretty much walking everywhere trying to see as much of the sights as possible. Boy does it live up to expectations though, it was great to see those iconic sights such as the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. I quite liked Sydney and would definitely go back again. Sydney was also the location of my first Aussie Rules match visit with a couple of dutch guys (Walter and .... the name escapes me?). Aussie Rules is 'alright' but it looks like a comple screw up on the field, players everywhere scrambling for the ball, its also rather long at 2 hours plus! Enjoyable none the less. The evenings rather unsurprisingly were spent sampling the nightlife that Sydney has to offer with the two Dutch chaps that I met. Its not to bad, expensive though!

New Zealand next woohoooo! After getting up at a ridiculous hour to get to the airport I boarded a rather full plane and spent the majority of my time chatting in a aussie bloke called Mark about NZ where to go and what not, I also got the full family story from his side, the camera was out and everything!

Flying over the Southern Alps is absolutely stunning if not a tad turbulent. The wings were flapping big time, along with many of the passengers! On terms of views think of completely forested hills capped in a beautiful carpet of white standing tall over the majestic Canterbury Plains dissected by the many braided streams, stunning.

First impressions of Christchurch... bloody FREEZING! The city itself is nice enough, very green, lovely cathedral, river, squares, very British in that sense but if size defines a city Christchurch (ChCh) certainly is not! Ayslesbury esque (ONLY in size, Aylesbury is dire!) Ther first few days were spent in the best hostel I have EVER stayed in, Dorset house, an absolutely stunning place crammed with character and style with tha added bonus of super comfy beds, electric blankets and super duper powerful showers! Steve and I also bought ourselves a car here. A 1.8 Subaru Legacy all time 4WD (Hi/Lo) quite a bargain at 1600 NZ dollars. After we were all Christchurched out, visiting the museums and art galleries (amazing) and what not we ventured north.

First stop Lake Sumner about 2 hours drive north west of ChCh along some excellent gravel track roads, super fun to dive extra sensibly on, no horse play in the slightest honest! We didn't actually make it to the lake as by the time we got there it was too late to make the three hour walk up there, instead we decided to pitch our tent next to the river and have a walk up one of the smaller hills in the area for some spectacular views across the valley.

Next day we made our way toward Hanmer Springs, a hot springs site another 2 or so hours north. On the way we passed a winery advertising free tasting and of course we just had to go in it'd be criminal not to! The wine was bad though! Hanmer itself does not have too much to offer apart from the hot spring which were nice enough (30 - 41 degrees C) but nothing on par with those found in Iceland. After an afternoon of relaxing in the hot pools we continued north before stopping for the night at a free campsite just south of Lewis Pass, Now this is where the trouble begins!

We woke to the heaviest frost I have ever seen only to find that the damn car would not start, bugger what do we do now? Well we tried bumping the car but the hill was not big enough to get it going, we then thought it would be a good idea to push it into the sun as the engine must be cold, still not starting. A bit of a panic now. We then decided to flag cars down on the road as there was no cell phone signal. After three hours of this we finally found a car full of Maori's with jump leads, excellent. The jump leads didn't work, crap! Luckily he had a tow rope so we got the car going eventually, phew! (it turned out to be a dodgy distributor which we had to get replaced in ChCh).

After we got the car going we drove north to meet Chloe at Picton, stopping along the way in a small campsite on the coast just outside of town. Picton itself has nothing going for it at all, its not ugly but its just plain boring! As such when I finally met with Chloe we spent most of our time outside of Piction, either driving along some excellent coastal roads around Queen Charlotte Sound or sampling some of the fine wines that the Marlborough region has to offer! Prior to starting our wine tour we went to visit Chloe's aunt out at their vineyard, an absolutely beautiful place with superb views. She also cooked us up some excellent muffins accompanied buy a cuppa. Wineries visited in the afternoon included Huja, Bouldervines and none the less Cloudy Bay! All had some very nice wines and some nasty wines, or not to my liking.

Whilst we were up in the region Steve and I enquired about jobs but unfortunately nothing was available until the summer. I did however give a chap called Robin Gormack a call, a flower farmer based in Redcliffs just outside of ChCh and he gave us a job woo hoo!

After dropping Chloe off at the ferry terminal I headed south back towards ChCh to go and start life as a flower farmer. We arrived at Gormack's farm on a rather sunny Wednesday afternoon and pretty much started work straight away! Flower farming I must admit is not the most thrilling of jobs as it rather repetitive but it pays none the less. Days off are spent either recovering from a hangover or driving around Banks Peninsula.

That's pretty much the story so far, in days to come I hope to get onto some of the slopes at one of the local ski fields, do some walking in the hills and save save save.

Hope all is well with every one and ill update a little sooner next time.