Microadventure:A wintervention

microadventures

Sick of spending my life trying to get warm, I instigated a wintervention this week.

Three days of tropical adventures in Cairns. And by tropical adventures I mean mostly drinking in a pool.

MOJITO: It looks like I'm casually sipping from a cup, but the 2L jug is actually just out of frame.

I won't go to deep into the evening adventures… they basically involved wandering around night markets after one too many margaritas, adopting fake tamagotchis and admiring cane toad leathers… which are apparently a thing in tropical North Queensland.

The highlight was a trip to the Barrier Reef.
How do you sum up thousands of kilometres of coral and wildlife? It's one of the natural wonders of the world for a damn good reason.
BUBBLES: Would you believe this actually wasn't a staged photo? This was me trying to free dive down to about 6 metres and getting stuck in a flurry of bubbles.

I couldn't help but sit back, on the bow of the boat, soaking in the winter sun, thinking about how lucky I am. Lucky to be here. Lucky to be alive. Lucky to be warm and happy. Lucky to be on an adventure of a lifetime.

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Microadventure: Budderoo National Park

microadventures
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Swinging bridges at Minnamurra Rainforest.

It’s easy to forget about what lies on your doorstep and yet sometimes these little forays into the wild turn out to be the best adventures.

Budderoo is a National Park I have rarely delved into in the past few years. It’s so close, and so utterly spectacular, yet I’ve been busy adventuring around the world and on the South Coast so it’s flown totally under the radar.

Saturday seemed like the perfect day for a quick adventure. The rainforest seemed a good place to hide from the summer heat so I jumped in the car and drove out to Minnamurra Rainforest to start with an easy walk to a waterfall.

With so little rain, there wasn’t much water flowing and the upper falls were closed, but its still so lush. Added bonus- they still have the swing bridges and lets be honest those are the best.

Managed to spot a lyrebird and a water dragon, and did a short hike just to get away from town and people. There were plenty of tourists out there but thankfully, the people were spread out enough for me to feel like it was just me and my adventure buddy who I had recruited for the trip.

My intention had been to head to Carrington Falls just for the views, but the rangers said it was closed and not to bother since there was no water anyway.

Instead, they suggested the Macquarie Cascades- which I had never heard of despite living 20 minutes away.

They are nestled in at the bottom of Macquarie Pass, and the walk to the bottom is an easy 2km loop- perfect for a quick mini adventure.

Of course- they were too spectacular to stay at the bottom so I tried to get to the top. It seemed like a reasonably easy scramble up the side of the cliff.

Just 20 minutes from my house, I was standing on mossy rocks, in the middle of a rainforest, with no one else around, watching cascading waterfalls.

Lesson: What’s on our doorstep is just as spectacular as what I’ve seen on the other side of the planet.

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A quiet moment at the bottom of the Macquarie Cascades before a scramble to the top.

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I didn’t even know these kind of climbers existed here in Australia- evidently they do.

 

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

America


At 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and a backdrop to one of the world most spectacular sunsets, it was easy to see why the Grand Canyon is known as one of the world’s greatest treasures. 

Our group was blindfolded as we walked to the edge of the canyon’s southern rim, and we all took them off tougher so we could take it in at the same time. This is what we all saw in a shared moment of breathlessness:


I was still feeling absolutely awful but in a place like this there is no time for that. I couldn’t not be in awe or be enjoying myself here. It was just so beautiful. 

I decided to fork out for the helicopter flight to get a better perspective on the scope of the canyon. 

If you ever visit the canyon I couldn’t recommend flying over it highly enough. Yes it’s expensive, but yes it’s worth every minute. Pictures do not do it justice but coming over the edge of the trees and into the Grand Canyon was a next level experience. 


Later, safely back on the ground, I ate pizza ( my first meal in two days) and watched the sunset with Kristy and my newfound friends. 


My one disappointment is that I was not up to a hike on our second day at the Canyon. As much as I wanted to push through, there were many scary signs about how going down into the canyon was optional but coming back up wasn’t, complete with pictures of vomiting children. There were also a few missing person signs so in the end, I decided to hike the rim instead which gave me the option of bailing at any stage if I started feeling sick again. 

As it turned out, despite a little breathlessness from the altitude, I was feeling good and made it from rim to rim easily, and managed to fit in a fossil walk and a talk about condors too. I don’t think anyone should miss out on a visit to the Grand Canyon if they are in the vicinity. 

It’s a bucket list tick that requires a little more exploration and adventure. I’m definitely coming back here one day soon.

I don’t think there are any words that could do Monument Valley justice.

America

Monument Valley was a definite highlight of my American adventures.

Monument Valley was undoubtably the highlight of my American adventures so far despite being ill with some sort of stabbing stomach pain that made me want to throw myself off a monument.
As we cruised through this untouched desert that belongs to the Navajo nation I quickly forgot about feeling sick. 

 There was something incredibly special about being in the open air four wheel drive and rolling through dunes, dangling my feet off the edge of sandstone that’s millions of years old and eating traditional food under a blanket of stars so vast there is no end or beginning. 
Time sort of just stops and you can imagine the people living here at the very beginning of time would have been looking basically at what we were looking at. I feel like in this world, that is such a rare sight to see. Original perspectives are hard to come by and in the western world I think this is one of the few places where it is possible to have that experience. 
I could have stayed here forever and in so many ways I wanted to. A life without complications sounds amazing. 

I wish we had been camping here rather than being back in a motel. It was the one night of the trip where I would have enjoyed being out under the stars all night. I would take eating Navajo tacos and dancing around a fire over everything any day and every day.
Perfection. 

Exploring the nooks and crannies of the valley.

Over the bridge 

America, travel

To me the Brooklyn Bridge is a symbol of every New York based movie and show I have ever seen.

A dream of mine has always been to reenact the beautiful moment from Sex and the City when Miranda and Steve meet halfway along the  Brooklyn Bridge to reconcile their marriage. 

Obviously I am not married, nor do I live in New York, and I’m on good speaking terms with all my friends… So there was no need to be all dramatic about the moment. I just walked from one side to the other. And it was… A footbridge.

Actually, Kristy and I walked from Brooklyn back to midtown. Solid all day walk. 

There were thousands of people on th bridge to negotiate, and once safely back in Manhattan we made our first foray into Soho where I remained true to myself and did not buy a single thing that wouldn’t fit in my suitcase. 

We had lunch in the Chobani Yoghurt Cafe which was cool since I didn’t know there even was one of those. 

Walking through Washington square where all the NYU students were was probably my highlight for the day. There was a lot of hype surrounding the election and I felt the buzz of student life drawing me into its clutches. Definitly thought about just rocking up to some literary studies classes and just enrolling at the university here. I am always missing the challenge of study and the intricacies of knowledge you only get to explore in depth as a student. 

I think when you start working full time your energy for knowledge is overtaken by a desire to perfect and succeed. Knowledge takes a back seat. New York is good for breaking that mound. 

We finished the day with a reading break in the park and an outrageous meal at Bubba Gump Shrimp. I obviously took my life into my own hands with my seafood allergy here. 

My Fitbit tells me we did more than 30 000 steps today as we walked from one end of New York to the other.

Tackling American history one monument at a time

America, travel

When people think about New York, I think the majority associate the Statue of Liberty with it immediately. It is what earlier immigrants saw as they pulled into the harbour, and it’s featured in every movie based in New York. 

It has been on my bucket list of things to do since I was a child. 

I’m not exactly sure why France decided to celebrate America’s 100 years of independence with a green statue of a woman holding a torch. Maybe if I had bothered with the audio tour that would have been revealed. 

Instead I raced up a few hundred stairs into her crown so I could be higher than everyone else for a few minutes and go through the special crown access line. 

Seeing New York from the crown of the statue was a surreal experience and definitely worth the 300 stairs and chlostrophobia battle.

  
On the way back our boat stopped at Ellis Island and we had a look through the immigration museum. It put our detention centres in perspective for me. The unceetainties faced by immigrants is something that upsets me at home. People put their whole life savings into trying to reach a better life only to be turned around at the last hurdle. And it is the same here, although they are no longer processed on Ellis island. 

Later in the afternoon we took the time to visit ground zero and reflect on th horror of September 11. The memorial is fantastic although I understand why it is a little controversial. The water features are grand, but it’s a confrontational reminder. 

 

The 9/11 memorial in downtown New York.

 
After so much reflection on the world’s and America’s problems, we lightened the  day with a late lunch in Chinatown at a restaurant on the back streets that had lots of people in it. Perfection.
 

Brace yourselves, I am heading to America and it’s going to be epic

America, Uncategorized

 

Kristy is my American adventure buddy and will be putting up with me for five and a half weeks of road tripping goodness from one end of America to the other.

Well, a year later than I had initially planned, I am eight weeks out from another adventure.

My friend Kristy and I will be heading across America on a five and a half week road trip that will start in New York and finish in LA, before we fly to Hawaii for a relaxing break before heading home.

We will stay in hotels, hostels, camp sites, and do a lot of sleeping on the bus.

As with any of my trips, the most frustrating part is the lack of time. There will be a lot of quick stops in many cities and only five days to explore New York.

We will take a tour to the Statue of Liberty crown, re-enact a proposal on the top of the Empire State Building, pretend to be our favourite Sex in the City characters as we cosmo sip our way around the New York nightlife and spend a night on broadway.

We both suffer severely from a condition called The Hangries. It’s when you get so hungry, the hunger channels to anger and… well… it’s unpleasant. So we have come up with an eating schedule that incorporates bagels, supersized fries, single pizza pieces and a lot of coffee in order to preserve our friendship.

We plan to make stops in Washington, Memphis, New Orleans, Santa Fe, Las Vegas and a bunch of other mega cool places that I can’t wait to explore.

A lot of people have told me I am crazy for spending all my money on travels and I have a couple of comebacks.

One, I hardly make any money, so saving for any grown up stuff like a house is off the table.

Two, bon voyage bitches.

 

 

 

 

 

Microadventure: Wagga Wagga Wedding

Australia, microadventures

Another month, another adventure.
This month, I drove out west, along tiny back roads at dusk to go to Wagga Wagga for a wedding.
This adventure was a sort of two tiered adventure, because firstly, back roads in Australia on dusk can be exciting.*
Secondly, weddings are often an adventure in a totally different league.
There was nothing out of the ordinary about the road trip.
I sang the entire Lion King soundtrack, cast myself as Cosette in Les Mis and later, when it got dark and I was on the Hume highway, 4 hours into the drive, I turned my car into a nightclub while I ate a strawberry thick shake from South Gundagai McDonalds.
On the way home, in an effort to avoid snow, I left early, got a coffee and croissant, which I proceeded to spill all over myself at the traffic lights 100 metres from the coffee store, and brooded about it for three quarters of the drive home.

The wedding was a lot of fun, and we managed to stretch the celebrations across an entire day.
I often find the ceremonial side of weddings difficult to swallow, particularly when they have a godly focus, but luckily, I do not find wine difficult to swallow, and there was a lot of that later on to compensate.

Wedding faces.

At the end of the night, my shoes were ruined from mud, my skirt split was a lot bigger than I remembered, I was dancing with a random and I was manically snapping selfies with one of my best friends.
Then, we rang my friends parents to come and get us, because under the age of 25, that is still okay as far as we were concerned.
It was exactly how wedding receptions should be.

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#MannionWedding2015

* For any of my international/city based readers, by exciting, I mean that there is a shitload of wildlife, which requires precision driving to avoid. It is not uncommon to be picking bits of roo out of your engine and wiping down the windscreen at your dinner stop.

2 Weeks in Rwanda

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Mammoth film crew spent 2 weeks in Rwanda filming for their tourism department. Although this isn’t the video that is now playing in airports and tourist centres, it contains all the out takes and extra footage. This might help you understand why I need to go to Africa next year.

How can you live your life, and not want to visit this beautiful country? Or indeed, the African continent in general.

Today I want to talk about New Zealand.

I went there once on a family holiday just after I finished high school. I think it was the one holiday that I didn’t keep a blog or journal. I did however, take a lot of photos. I made a very conscious effort to photograph everything we did and everywhere we went. It was a place that words can really do no justice for. You have to see it to believe it.

I initially was skeptical. a driving holiday with two teenage children and their parents, in my eyes was a recipe for disaster. And don’t get me wrong, there were some disaster moments. Like when I accidentally deleted all the photos of Milford Sound off Dad’s camera. And when we got mum into a wetsuit to go black water rafting. In general though, some of my best memories are from that holiday.

In the dead centre of New Zealand.

In the dead centre of New Zealand.

New Zealand is one of the worlds adventure capitals. Bungee jumping, glacier climbing, black water rafting, paragliding and cruising fjords are a few that I did. New Zealand is more than just adventure though. It is absolutely stunning landscape. I always just assumed that it would be much like Australia but I was so far off! It was very unique. The culture was similar, and the Maori culture reminded me a little of Australian Indigenous culture, in the sense that connection to land and kinship are such a key part of their life.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Somewhere in the Franz Josef glacier

Somewhere in the Franz Josef glacier

 

The highlights for me, were Queenstown and the Franz Josef glacier. Queenstown just for it’s fun vibes, incredible cable car and adventures activities. The glacier, was just a once in a lifetime opportunity to see something rare and spectacular up close. I never thought I would be climbing a frozen river, and perhaps in years to come, it won’t even be an option. I will be forever grateful for having that experience when I did.

Paragliding over Queenstown

Paragliding over Queenstown

I should also give mention to the North island. Black water rafting through the Waitomo caves was beautiful, and the Bay of Plenty was also a highlight up there.

At the top of Mt Maunganui, looking back over the Bay of Plenty on the North Island

At the top of Mt Maunganui with Dad, looking back over the Bay of Plenty on the North Island

It was quite amazing how different the two islands were. The North island actually was a lot more like Australia as I know it. The South island was more wintery and scenically spectacular. Both had their charms and I would love to go back in the future to see some of the things that we couldn’t fit into our last trip over there. In particular, I hear that the snow gets pumping in winter, and I wouldn’t mind a snowboard atop their mountains.

This is only the tip of what New Zealand has to offer, but I wanted to write about it, and tell you all that you should go there one day. It might not be the most popular tourist destination in the world, but I think that is also part of it’s appeal. Little old New Zealand, and it’s little old hidden treasures.

More sheep than humans. True story.

More sheep than humans. True story.

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