Australia

Gold Coast livin’ part two

Kia ora all! Sorry for the delay between parts one and two of my Australian adventure – I’m in full book mode and have been devoting the time I have to writing that. Nonetheless, here is part two.

So Kylie’s birthday was on the Wednesday – October 1 – and as a present to herself she got her hair did. We managed to score a free bus ride both ways by acting all touristy (asking how much it was, which coins had what value) until the bus drivers gave up in frustration and just said “it’s fine.”

That night, Mikayla took us out for a steak dinner at a nearby restaurant – one that happened to have deals on all mains on Wednesdays. I had a giant steak, but I didn’t take a picture of it because that’s silly.

Okay, it’s two weeks later now and I can’t remember what we did on each specific day. However, I believe it was the Friday where we went to see the coveted glow worm caves – again, no pictures, this time because it was pitch black.

We drove for like three hours to get to this place where we walked for another hour, down a steep hill, in the pitch black, with scary forest on all sides. Somehow, we avoided the drop bears and killer spiders and arrived at the glow worm caves, where we were greeted by a blue-greenish glow, which turned out was the worms’ butts. Some lady was yelling at people for even using a flashlight to avoid falling into the turbulent river a few feet away, so I’ll approximate a drawing of what the scene looked like.

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As you can tell, it was very exciting.

Saturday during the day we went to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, which was a total blast. It’s where we got to see basically every cliché you’d attribute to Australia.

We went with Mikayla and her brother, Noah, who showed us around.  Luckily, we arrived just in time for the feeding of a MASSIVE CROCODILE (possibly alligator?)!!!!!

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Afterwards, the croc wardens said we could HOLD THE ALLIGATOR (crocodile?) and I was like SHIT YEAH! They overplayed it a bit.

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The wildlife sanctuary was pretty sweet. It had a bunch of different habitats, so instead of me rambling, I’ll show you pictures and give the names of the animals, if I can remember them.

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This owl, who looked high as.

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This wombat, who is actually the size of a dog.

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Some koalas, socializing over some leaves from that tree I can’t spell the name of.

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A god-damn Tasmanian Devil (like from Bugs Bunny, sort of).

We arrived at a theatre of sorts, just in time for a birds of prey show. One of them got pretty close to me.

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There was also a giant pelican.

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Of COURSE there were others, but I was a bit busy watching them catch bits of dead rabbit out of the air to take pictures, okay?

Next, I fulfilled my lifelong dream of going in a giant enclosure filled with starving kangaroos, and paying four dollars to feed them. Kylie came too.

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Unfortunately, that was the end of my day pretty much, as shortly after I stumbled into a giant spider’s web and was swiftly mauled to death.

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Just kidding! Who did you think was writing this? Anyways, to cap off our day (actually, this time), we had to do the cliché tourist take-a-photo-with-a-koala.

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My head is lost in a halo of light – as it frequently is – but you can see Kylie and the little bear pretty well.

After that heartwarming moment, we tried to feed some birds but they didn’t show up, so Kylie held a giant snake instead.

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I took a photo from the side because we weren’t supposed to take photos but there was no way in hell I was paying 20 bucks for that picture.

The fun wasn’t over for the day, though. That night, Kylie, Mikayla, her friend Andrew, and I all went to a club and danced the night away. We got in with no cover and were allowed five-dollar drinks all night, and Kylie got free drinks to her heart’s content. We dragged her unconscious body out of the club around 10 p.m.

I’m pretty sure it was Sunday where we went shopping at a giant outdoor mall. Mikayla had some sort of appointment and Kylie tried on all the clothes in one store, so I wandered around looking uncouth with a two-litre jug of chocolate milk. I probably looked like a bogan. That night (possibly) we went to an opera in the park, which was pretty neat, if that’s your thing (it isn’t mine) – the food was good though.

Monday was an exciting day, as we tried stand-up paddle boarding. Basically, you get this thing that looks like a surfboard, and then you stand on it and paddle in some water. It was extremely difficult to find my balance on it, and being tall didn’t help, as the wind was trying to knock me into the water. Luckily the water was warm, because I spent a lot of time in it. OBVIOUSLY I didn’t bring my camera because that would have been stupid, but trust me, it was sweet as.

And finally, on Tuesday, Kylie and I took a train to Brisbane and spent the majority of the day at a lovely market/mall. Around dinner time, we met up with an old friend of mine – Franny – and she was nice enough to treat us to a delicious meal.

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And of course, Kylie and I got the glamour shot in front of the bridge.

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Sadly, after that it was time to catch the train back to Gold Coast – which we did, barely. It was an early night, as we had to be up at the crack of dawn to make our plane – which we did, barely. We landed in Auckland about four hours later, and our journey to Australia was complete.

Stay tuned! Posts coming up include our drive from Auckland to Christchurch (1,079km), our visit to the Shire, and a few questions for the creative ones among you reading this.

Thanks for reading, and give me a follow, won’t ya?

Twitter: @CamMParkes 
Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Australia, Blog, Early Saturday, Gold Coast, Holiday, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Livin’ it up at Gold Coast

Well, that was quite an adventure. We’re now safely back in New Zealand after a whirlwind trip to Gold Coast, and a long-ass drive back to Christchurch. The days have been so jam-packed that it was impossible to keep up with posting, so I’ll try to remember everything as well as I can for your entertainment.

I’ll deal with the next half of our trip to the land down unda’ in this post – we just did SOOOO much that it wouldn’t fit into one post, you know?

So Monday was our first full day in Gold Coast. Luckily for us, our guide and host Mikayla managed to get out of school relatively early so she could chaperone us around. Of course, we headed straight for the beach, because what else is there to do in Australia?

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For lunch, we went to a sushi restaurant that had a sushi train. I’d seen these in movies and whatnot, but never actually experienced one.

The food comes to you!

The food comes to you!

It’s a brilliant strategy. Basically different colour plates cost different amounts, and they send through a lot more pricey ones than cheap ones. So you’re sitting there waiting for a cheap plate of your favourite sushi to come by, getting hungrier and hungrier, until eventually you cave and grab the next plate. Cool!

When we returned, we saw to our – mostly Kylie’s – delight that the trees out front of Mikayla’s place were the favourite hangout for some lorikeets.

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We chillaxed for the rest of the day, and then spent three hours watching a movie – 1h45 for Who Framed Roger Rabbit after 1h15 of Kylie and Mikayla insisting they were strong independent women and didn’t need no man’s help to set up the DVD player.

Two strong, independent, DVD-less women.

Two strong, independent, DVD-less women.

Spoiler: they did.

On Tuesday Kylie and I wanted to check out the Niagara Falls of Queensland – Surfers’ Paradise. Although we were warned by literally two people that the walk was a long one, we decided to undertake it anyways.

I learned a lesson on Tuesday. When people say they “love long walks on the beach,” they are full of shit. Long walks on the beach are not pleasant. They hurt your legs and your butt, and make you really hungry and thirsty. We almost didn’t make it. But, after an hour and a half of Bear Grills-esque survival, we arrived in the tourist centre of Australia.

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And lo and behold, we had only been there five minutes or so when a long-lost friend found us!

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Karley. It's Karley.

Karley. It’s Karley.

We three hung out and explored Surfers’ for a while, checking out the shops, getting lunch, and playing at Timezone – one of those super-fun arcade places where you win tickets and can get little prizes. I won an Australian keychain, thinking that it would be the perfect gift for my loving landlord back in Auckland.

After that, Karley’s flatmates gave us a lift back to Mikayla’s. We had to hurry inside because it was time for the daily bat hunt.

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Bats come out during the day here. Yup.

After the bloodthirsty winged-mammals had disappeared (until that night) Kylie, Mikayla, her mom and I went to Q1, which is some sort of tower thing. We had a meal on the observation deck, which is the highest point in Gold Coast – about 72 floors up, I think.

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After dinner, we took a nice walk along the beach you can see on the right there, through a giant market. I didn’t buy anything.

The next post will detail our trip to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Kylie’s birthday celebrations, and the hardest sport you can do on water (not surfing). Follow me so you don’t miss out!

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Australia, Blog, Gold Coast, Holiday, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The land down unda’

G’day, mate!

It’s finally happened. After more than a decade of wanting to visit the land down under, I am finally in Australia.

And it is fantastic.

Let’s start from the beginning though.

Our flight was at seven o’clock Sunday morning. Since we had to drop off our rental car with enough time to be shuttled to the airport, that meant getting up at 4:30. We drove to the place, got shuttled over, and found our check-in line by 5:30 – and then the waiting began. Jetstar, which has been great and incredibly fast on our last couple flights with them, had two people working the desks – one of whom was clearly a new employee.

Our baggage area apparently closed at 6:15am, and we definitely would have been done before that, except we added some baggage we didn’t expect.

As we were waiting in line, a frantic mother and her child approached us, asking if we were going to Gold Coast. Apparently, the airline wouldn’t let her child fly unaccompanied, even though he was older than 15 and had a passport, because he didn’t have his school ID. She practically begged us to chaperone Kurtis onto the flight, and we, being great people, obliged. It took a bit longer to check us in because they had to move our seats so the three of us could sit together.

We eventually got checked in and through security, right as the last call for our flight was being broadcast. We took a little bus out to the plane and boarded, and were on our way by 7:15am.


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Thanks to the flight duration and time zone change, we landed at 7:15am in Australia. We saw Kurtis reunited with his father, who thanked us profusely. After they departed, I decided to withdraw some Aussie currency.

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We had a quick airport breakfast, and then Kylie’s friend Mikayla picked us up. Thankfully, she offered us the spare room in her house, saving us probably THOUSANDS (???) of dollars in possible rent.

Her home is absolutely beautiful. The whole concept of it is based on a constant barrage of nice weather – open rooms, light sea-breeze blowing through – and is perfect for the part of town it’s in.

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The best part is, it’s only a two-minute walk to the beach. We basically got here, dropped our bags and changed, and headed out to check out the beach. We didn’t stay long this first time.

It happened to be Celebrate Gold Coast Day, so we took off to a big event with lots of different tents and activities and whatnot. After exploring that for a bit, we returned home and went to the beach for real. But not before stopping at the store to get some Aussie swag.

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We built sandcastles and swam in the ocean and enjoyed the sun before heading back to shower and hit up the town – and by that, I mean buy some beer. Which we enjoyed while watching Brave which is actually a pretty good movie okay?

I didn’t have too much opportunity to take pictures (clearly) as my camera was stowed and my phone was running out of juice. Plenty more to come over the next nine days, though!

Follow along on Twitter and Instagram!

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Australia, Blog, Gold Coast, Holiday, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First impressions of Auckland

Hey all!

So I’ve been in Auckland for just over a week now, and I have to say: my original impression that it was similar to Toronto was pretty off base.

The first Saturday we were here, Kylie and I went out to experience the night life – only, there was none. Everything closes at around five o’clock, even on weekends. Luckily exceptions include grocery stores and McDonald’s, but I was pretty disappointed. There aren’t very many bars, either! I’m looking closer into that, though.

So far, despite the tame nightlife, Auckland is so much better than Christchurch. It’s much warmer – in fact, most mornings I eat my breakfast outside on our patio in a t-shirt. Considering it’s the dead of winter here, this is amazing.

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The scenery is beautiful and lush. It makes you feel like you’re on a tropic island somewhere – which technically we are I suppose. Our house is at the bottom of a huge hill, so my leg muscles have been getting quite a workout as well.

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The bus system took a little longer to figure out, and is a bit more expensive, but after using the buses and trains for the last week we’ve pretty much got it sorted.

I went into Background Talent and signed up for that again, so hopefully I’ll be getting some more work with them, so I can see my face for ~1 second on a television. They were super friendly and took a bunch of photos of me, so that’s cool too.

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I’ve pretty much realized that around the beginning of September, I’m going to have to rent a car. I’m psyching myself up to drive on the wrong side of the road, especially since, after our trip to Australia, we’re going to drive from Auckland back to Christchurch for Kylie’s last term. It’s about 15 hours so it’ll definitely be a test.

Other than that, I have the house of eight flatmates to myself during weekdays, since I’m the only one here who is on holiday and not working. I pass the day by reading, writing, and doing 15 second covers of songs for Instagram.

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I’m happy to announce I’ve reached the 100-page mark in my attempt at a novel, and still have plenty more to go on! My soft deadline of the end of November to finish seems as if it may be in reach. If any of you consider yourself editors, let me know if you’d be down to peruse the draft!

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I’m finally getting around to sending postcards, about four months after getting here. Again, if you’d like one, let me know via some sort of social media before the end of the week.

Other than that, keep it real and follow along with the adventures! They’re going to get exciting, as there is plenty to do in Auckland on the weekend.

Twitter: @CamMParkes               

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Auckland, Australia, Blog, Holiday, Music, New Zealand, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heading down unda’

Good news, everyone!

 

 

So back in April, I was able to cross coming to New Zealand off my bucket list – something that’s been there since I first learned that the setting for the Lord of the Rings was here. While I haven’t seen the Shire yet, I’ll be doing so in the next little while as we’re moving to the North Island, where it’s situated (yeah, New Zealand is actually two islands. Who knew?).

Now, I’ll officially be able to cross visiting the land down under off that list, too. Kylie and I booked our flights yesterday – we’ll be in Australia from September 28 to October 8. Needless to say, I’m super psyched to get warm, visit some beaches, scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef, surf on some waves, ride some kangaroos etc.

Back to the moving thing, I’ve given notice to my employer and landlady, so it’s really happening. On Thursday we head up for the weekend, then one more week of work and shitty 6:50 a.m. wakeups, and off to Auckland for eight weeks. Definitely pumped to be done with stacking wood.

In other news, I broke 60 pages into my attempt at a novel, hovering at about 19,000 words currently – I’m thinking I’m about 1/5th done, probably. So that’s cool – the goal is to be done by the end of November, currently.

The next update will be nice and long, as I’ll have a bunch of Auckland stuff to talk about!

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Auckland, Australia, Blog, Holiday, New Zealand, Travel, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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