Tag Archives: australia

Favorite Australia Photos

I’ve been home for a couple of weeks now and have had time to go through many of the pics and videos I took while on my trip abroad (over 1,000… 15GB worth!). What follows are some of my favorite pics from my brief stay in Australia. Stay tuned for more from New Zealand!

All of these pics were taken with a Canon S100 in P mode, usually with Vivid mode on. I adjusted exposure on the fly based on the scene.

– The sunrise pic has special meaning for me because it was taken on the flight toward Sydney. It kind of signifies a new chapter.

– The obligatory Sydney Opera House shot. Being a novice photographer, I learned a lot on this trip about how lighting can make or break a photo.

– The pic of the Joker was taken at the corner of Hosier Ln and Flinders St in Melbourne. I honestly thought I had posted a bunch of pics from the incredible graffiti in the area but I can’t find a post in my archives. Hmm, maybe I’ll have to fix that.



Aside from meeting lots of wonderful people, the wildlife was my favorite part about Australia. I’ve told friends that I didn’t realize how infatuated I was with wildlife until I found myself in a place where everything was foreign. I was very ADD… I’d hear a sound, drop what I was doing, and run toward it with my camera.

The sleepy koala pic was taken at the Taronga Zoo. The turtle, fish, and jellyfish were taken at the Melbourne Aquarium. Those little turtles move fast! I must’ve taken 20 shots before I got a decent one.

One of the coolest critters I saw was this wolf spider. At first I thought it was covered in hair, but when the hair moved and I realized this was a mamma with babies clinging to her! I’d encourage you to click for the full-size image but I take no responsibility for any nightmares that may result.

Wolf spider with babies

Dorrigo National Park

My awesome Bellingen HelpX host, Kevin, offered to take me on a hike to a nearby rainforest. I had no idea that rainforests existed in Australia, let alone 60 minutes from the coast. The hike was one of the highlights of my trip, but if you go be aware of leaches!

Oftentimes the things we appreciate most in life are experiences that were difficult or took some effort to achieve. The following photo of a simple little flower is an example of this and is probably my favorite of the entire trip. Kevin and I were walking along the trail and I happened to spot this flower, about the size of my pinky fingernail, dangling from a single spider web thread about five feet off the ground. The web was attached to a branch which was swaying with the wind, causing the flower to spin in circles but I was determined to get the shot. Thank God for digital cameras. If you check out the full-size version you can faintly see the single strand.

Flower suspended by spiderweb strand

And finally…

While hanging out at the Bondi hostel on my last day in Sydney these two gorgeous Rainbow Lorikeets decided to pay a visit to our picnic table. I’d only seen these guys in a zoo back home and here there were 10 of them in the trees nearby. I remembered from the zoo that lorikeets love nectar so I mixed up a bit of sugar water, which they happily lapped up from a tablespoon I was holding. 🙂

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Week 10 Costs

Week 10. The end of my wonderful adventure to Australia and New Zealand. I left Kentucky naïve and inexperienced, having never traveled outside of the US. I returned with more great memories than I can even recall, a bunch of new friends from all over the globe, and an underlying confidence that everything is possible.

Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Week 6 Costs

I’ve decided that these cost breakdown posts are a pain in the butt, as you can tell by how far behind I am. I think people find them useful though so I’ll try to keep it going.

Week 6 encompassed my last day in Melbourne and my first week in New Zealand and I knew it would be expensive since as it included an international flight and the Stray trip.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , ,

Hostels Aren’t So Hostile

Last night I had my first experience at a backpackers’ hostel. Unfortunately I didn’t meet two hot Slovak girls, but then again, I didn’t have my eyeballs gouged out or an arm hacked off. If you have no idea what I’m talking about there’s a very gory series of horror films called Hostel. I just summed up the plot for you in one sentence.

Backpackers’ hostels are popular pretty much everywhere outside of the US and are about the cheapest accommodation you can find without couch surfing (sleeping on a complete stranger’s couch for free… an idea I haven’t yet warmed up to). I stayed at a place called King Street Backpackers in Melbourne and paid $36 for a room that slept four in bunk beds. Female-only rooms are also available. At this particular hostel you can get the price down to the mid-20s but you have to sleep in a room with 15 others for the pleasure. Can you imagine that? Experiential travel is all the rage these days. Maybe they could sell it as an “Army Barrack Getaway”.

Continue reading

Tagged , ,

Week 5 Costs

This’ll be an easy one. So easy, in fact, that I’m posting over free WiFi outside a Hungry Jack’s (Burger King).

Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Week 4 Costs

Week 4 comin’ atcha! A few days in Melbourne with a host found on Airbnb followed by a short HelpX stay.

Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Week 3 Costs

I’ve gotten a bit behind on these weekly cost breakdowns. I gotta step up my game.

Week 3 will be a bit different than the previous weeks because I spent half of it with a HelpX host and the other half being a tourist. I also threw in an ER visit just for fun.

Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Good People, Good Wine, and Kids With Lots of Energy

It feels like forever since I’ve updated this blog. A lot has been going on and internet access isn’t quite as easy to come by as back home. Where I am, in the eastern part of the state of Victoria, it seems that a lot of people rely on 3G cellphone service for internet access. It works fine, but caps out at 8GB per month, which gets used up pretty quickly. I try to be respectful and not overdo it.

So this week I’m staying with a family of five who run a vineyard called Blue Gables. But before I get to that, let me wrap up my time in Melbourne. I had about four days to fill between the end my Airbnb stay and coming to the vineyard and was lucky enough to find a very cool couple named Simon and Haley on HelpX. They run a native plant nursery about an hour south of where I am now. Simon and Haley were going to be in Melbourne on my last day so it worked out perfectly for me to hitch a ride with them and avoid a $25 train fare. A French traveler named Doris was staying with them so they brought her into the city and she and I explored for most of Wednesday. I really enjoyed having someone else to bum around with, since I’ve been traveling alone this entire time.

I’ve already mentioned a bit about the nursery and Simon’s racetrack. I did get behind the wheel! I was waaaaay slower than Simon but it was still a blast. Shifting a manual transmission with your opposite hand wasn’t bad at all, but I had a few other things (like avoiding trees and ponds) on my mind. I took some cool cockpit videos of Simon driving which I’ll share with you guys when I get back home.

I stayed with Simon and Haley for four days, two of which were on the weekend, so I only worked two days. The work wasn’t exciting but was what needed to get done. Doris and I mainly weeded some “pods” (little tubes of dirt that hold one plant each) and transferred soil from dead plants to a garden bed. The real benefit of staying with HelpX families is being integrated into their lives and meeting friends and family. These experiences, to me, are the reason why you travel. I was fortunate enough to meet wonderful friends of Simon and Haley, Robert and Tony, who are incredibly well-traveled and have great stories to tell. I also met Simon’s parents, who were warm and welcoming and made me feel like part of the family. All of this from complete strangers I found on an internet work exchange website who just ask for a bit of help.

Sunday I got a free ride from Simon and Haley up to Blue Gables vineyard. I knew from the start that this would be a very different experience from the others. For starters, they have three very polite, but very energetic, children; two girls and boy. The kitchen will be spotless before dinner and afterwards it looks like a plague of locusts just came through. It’s quite different than my bachelor life at home! Did you know that some people run the dishwasher every single night? God bless the mom, Catherine.

My hosts at the vineyard require six hours per day, six days per week, which is a fair bit more than I’m used to. My first day consisted of using a benchtop labeling machine to apply labels to wine that was recently bottled. In six hours I labeled 35 cases of wine. That’s 420 bottles. I have achieved expert status at wine bottle labeling.

My view for most of Monday:


Today my work consisted of tinkering with the Blue Gables website, which is more my speed. I spent almost 14 years working in IT but haven’t thought much about my old life in the past six weeks or so. It felt good to sit behind a computer again. You can have a look at their website here. I hope to do some more web work this week and may add a gallery to the site. It’s looking like we’ll harvest grapes early tomorrow to beat the rain so that’ll be an interesting side of things that I’ve never seen. Alistair mentioned that on picking days they recruit up to 10 paid helpers from the local backpackers hostel, which could be a way to meet some cool people from all over the world.

Ok, well the kids are dying for me to play Wii so I’m off!

Tagged , , ,

“I’m not dead” post

The wifi connection with my current HelpX host seems a bit flaky and I only have 100 MB left on my cellphone data plan so I probably won’t be updating much in the next few days.

I spent four days in Melbourne being a tourist and punching bag and am now way out in the middle of nowhere at a native plant nursery in Victoria, about two hours east of Melbourne. I’m only here until Sunday, when I’m supposed to join a family who run a winery about an hour north.

I don’t know why anyone would make their living in this area based on a product that needs a lot of water because everything is dry and brown. Apparently they recently came out of a 10-year drought. This house is completely off the grid with solar for electricity and a 55,000 liter container of water for all bathing, cooking, etc., which is 100% rainwater (filtered, I guess?).

It has me thinking about how feasible some of these ideas might be in the states but I don’t think the financial benefit is enough to drive it. Simon, my current host, told me that he and his wife used to pay $1000 for three months of electricity, and his solar setup cost $7000. In the states my electric bill would be $450 over three months in the hottest part of summer. Electricity is generated from coal here and there’s tons of it, but the power companies just gouge their customers.

Simon has 50 acres and I get the impression that he’s kind of a big kid. He has a winding, one-car-width dirt road all around his property that’s intended to help with fire control in the bush but mainly gets used as his personal racetrack. He took me for a lap in his 1981 Toyota Celica, which he flogged the hell out of. I’m hoping to get a chance behind the wheel before I leave!

I have lots of pictures to share from the end of my stay in Bellingen and some from downtown Melbourne but those will have to wait until I get a speedier connection. For now, text will have to do!

A little edit to my original post… This is a Google maps aerial view of where I’m staying. Most of the path that you can see is the “racetrack”. 🙂



Welcome to Melbourne?

You take the good,
You take the bad,
You take ’em both and there you have…
…a trip to Australia.

Saturday was, by far, the worst day of my trip. I left the company of my wonderful hosts in Fernmount and got a free ride to the Urunga airport. It was raining like cats and dogs, which didn’t bother me because it makes the area so lush (contrasted to Melbourne, which appeared entirely brown from above). My flight was scheduled to arrive in Melbs around 4:15 PM and I was excited to check out a free outdoor music concert in the city at 7:00. The airport in Urunga was the smallest I have ever seen, yet Virgin and Qantas fly out of it so it’s great for the locals. You could literally stand in one spot, do a 360 panorama, and see the entire place, including both terminals. Easiest airport experience I’ve ever had, except for the 3-hour flight delay, which put me in Melbs after 7:00 so no concert.

After getting settled in with my Airbnb host I decided around 9:00 to head out, explore the area, and find a bite to eat. It’s not a shady neighborhood and there were plenty of people milling about on what seemed to be a popular street lined with shops and cafes. As I came to a T intersection a guy who I assumed to be homeless asked me for change. After replying “Sorry, I don’t have any change” and continuing on my way he asked, in a normal, conversational tone, “Hey, where are you from?” Since I’ve had lots of chats with strangers on this trip I stopped, faced him, and said “I’m from America.” I noticed he was approaching me in a non-threatening way so I continued “I’ve been in Australia for about three weeks…”. The next thing I remember is lying on my back, realizing that I had just been sucker-punched. No provocation, no shouting, no shoving, just a fist to my jaw.

Immediately after experiencing the worst of Australia I experienced the best of Australia. A group of 20-somethings nearby scared the guy off, attended to me, helped me get cleaned up, hailed a cab, and even paid the fare for my trip to the ER. They repeatedly said things like “Please don’t let that wanker ruin your impression of Australians. We’re not all like that.” Three hours and $415 later, with three stitches in my lower lip, I was on my way back to where I was staying.

So I had an unfortunate run-in with an asshole in Australia, but I guess that happens sometimes. The sore jaw, stitches, scraped up elbow, 400 bucks, and blood-stained clothes bother me, but the worst part is the hyper-aware feelings I now have of my surroundings. I’m a pretty happy-go-lucky guy who takes things in stride and keeps a pretty positive attitude. I hate to admit that this experience has taken away a bit of my “spark”. I hope that continuing to meet good people and having great experiences will restore the old Scott.

Note: I have disabled comments on this post because I want it to be the last word on the subject.

This was one of my favorite t-shirts…


Tagged , ,