Christmas 2001

>Hello everyone,

Apologies, yet again, for another long email. There are more travel tales for you and just a few Christmas wishes at the end so please bear with me.

Well, it certainly has been a while since my last travel update to you all. For the moment at least I am taking a rest. I’m back in Melbourne and looking forward to spending the festive season with my family and friends which wont really be a rest at all I suppose, but the familiar surroundings should be pleasant and relaxing.

When I last left you I think I had just arrived in Koh Tao (Thailand). That was pretty much the end of my trip right there. I spent a few days hoping for the weather to clear up so I could go diving but there was only one reasonably decent day and even then the visibility in the water was pretty poor. The second dive was just a little bit eventful as my dive buddy lost her regulator in the water and panicked. We were at about 10 metres depth when she started throwing her hands around everywhere and pointing. To me this meant a shark has come to gnaw my leg off (completely illogical when I think about it), but what she was really trying to say was that she wasn’t getting any air and she shot up to the surface way too quickly. I followed her up pretty quickly as well and was later rewarded with plenty of tingles in my joints (air bubbles). Anyway, I was disappointed with my effort as a buddy not noticing that the reg was missing from her mouth. I can only apologise for that and suggest that none of you go diving with me.

Shortly after this dismal effort I started my journey home. First off was a high speed boat from Koh Tao to Koh Samui with a glimpse of Koh Phan Gan in between. As far as I’m aware speedboats aren’t designed for swells such as those I experienced on that day. For the first hours of the journey I concentrated hard on the horizon then began singing songs to myself to take my mind off “seasickness”. See even though I travel well and only a few things bother me, seasickness just happens to be one of those things.

After that, nothing really to say. An easy flight home and before I knew it I was back in Melbourne. I was very apprehensive but it had to be done. Actually it was nice being home catching up with my family and friends but I got itchy feet again quicker than you could say Kakadu … so off I went again!

This time it was only a brief journey to Australia’s Northern Territory. In all of my years this was the first time I had ventured up north and what a great spot it is. I didn’t manage to see it all. If you didn’t already know it, Australia is damn big! We drove forever but on the map had really covered no distance at all. Basically the trip was a bit of a tourist triangle. From sleepy but cosmopolitan Darwin, south to Katherine and the beautiful Katherine gorge, then back north to Kakadu. I timed everything perfectly to coincide with the low tourist season but still good enough weather for a great time sightseeing. Took a scenic flight through parts of Kakadu as some of the roads were already flooded in the wet season. Small planes aren’t my thing either (hence the reason I like to jump out of them – with a parachute). This time I didn’t have a parachute though so I had to stick it out. I must admit I avoided all the billabongs and swimming holes in favour of the croc free pools. The signs saying there “probably” aren’t any crocs around just isn’t reassuring enough for me!

Back to Darwin and then onto Broome. Along the way stopping briefly in Turkey Creek … population about 10. One roadhouse, a dry Aboriginal community and a helicopter service. Spending 24 hours in a place like this was an interesting experience, the best part of it being a one hour helicopter flight through the Bungles Bungles. That was amazing! Doors off so there was plenty of fresh air circulating (no motion sickness), plenty of moves to allow maximum viewing opportunities (flying sideways to get a better view of the gorges) etc. This is definitely a trip I recommend, even though you do have to sit in Turkey Creek for 24 hours. Luckily I had a packet of cards, a friend and money to buy all sorts of food to entertain myself.

Then, eventually and finally Broome – Western Australia. Here there was plenty of time to do nothing which is an absolute must as it’s quite hot. The Kimberley Klub where I stayed was terrific but I do have one gripe about it … the kitchen is too damn good and it just makes people like me look bad! The two minute noodles took 15 minutes to cook, including trying to start the gas cooker. Matches don’t light themselves you know. My cooking was hopelessly overshadowed by everyone else’s cooking. They didn’t seem to understand this was real cooking for me. Needless to say I was embarrassed by my effort. Bloody communal kitchens are no good for my confidence.

Other things to do in Broome include a trip to beautiful Cable Beach. You can’t really swim there at this time of year though as there “might” be deadly box jellyfish in the water. Kind of like the crocodile thing for me, I’m not risking it when there’s a perfectly good pool nearby.

In Broome some things can be reached by the local bus and some can’t. So I hired a moped for a few hours and tried to get out to a place that I can’t spell. The moped idea was good in theory but then who knew the only way to get to some places was on dirt 4wd access roads only! So I tried anyway. Probably would have made it except for nearly running out of fuel as well which is definitely not the thing to do in the Australian outback!

Next effort was a microlight flight which I have to say is a much better was of seeing Broome than by moped! My flight was almost rescheduled due to high winds but I think he thought I was crazy and willing enough (and I was). I wasn’t quite so keen on low altitude near crocs and sharks we could see in the water!

That’s it. The end of my travel adventures for this year. I hope I haven’t bored you all too much and I hope you have found at least some of my tales interesting, funny and/or enjoyable to read.

For the meantime though, I would like to wish you all a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous Christmas and New Year.

I hope all your wishes and dreams came true in 2001 and if not, try again in 2002. I know I was lucky enough to have a sensational 2001 and many of you played a part in that so please accept my unconditional gratitude for your time and energy this year. It wouldn’t have been what it was without contributions from you all.

Best Wishes

Love Cheryl