The Red Centre, and The Hatching of a Plan

For our first proper holiday since we started working in Oz, we flew to Alice Springs and went on a road trip to Ayers Rock (Uluru to the politically correct) and Kings Canyon.

This country is big. Like, really really big. We’ve covered around 1500 kilometres in a week – more than enough to get you from London to Italy. Covering this distance in Europe would be a nightmare, full of turnings, roundabouts and suicidal Gallic teenagers on mopeds. In the outback it can actually be relaxing. The directions from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock are literally “Head south, take the first major right turn in 200 kilometres, continue another 250 kilometres, and be sure to wave if you see any cars”. You mostly have the road to yourself – just hours of gunbarrel-straight highways, music from the iPod and gradually changing geology. And roadkill. And bushfires.

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Lingua Australia

Australia is a sparsely populated country far, far away from other English speaking nations* which means they’ve developed some enchantingly idiosyncratic turns of phrase.

* Even New Zealand isn’t that close – it’s as far away from Australia as Russia is from the UK.

Of course some Aussie lingo is internationally famous:

“No worries” is a two word embodiment of the Australian outlook on life; Male Australians do address everybody as “Mate”; And I knew I’d really arrived in Oz the first time a stranger said “G’day” to me in the lift.

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Rock clambering

So Jude and I have a new hobby. We’re going to the climbing gym twice a week, hoping to get good enough over the winter that we can go climbing in the Blue Mountains when Spring comes (It still feels strange that Spring is going to start around September). Here are some photos and a video from a session with Aaron.

The function of this first picture is largely to prevent this post from being a gallery of photos of arses:
Rock clambering

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We’re here at last.

OK, so we’ve really been here for a month already, but we’ve been busy attending weddings, house hunting and coding. Well I was coding, Jude was being sociable and stuff. We have now found a cute little place to live in Rushcutters Bay, just a few minutes walk from the centre. We’re in a studio flat on the 6th floor of a building perched on a hill running down to the harbour. Except that we’re on the hill-facing side, and have a view of other people’s flats and the maintenance shed. No worries: we have a balcony, a bathroom, a boudoir, a brasserie and a bench, and that’s all we need. Home sweet home.

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Goodbye Africa; Australia, here we come!

So we’re sitting in a tacky airport bar in Johannesburg, drinking our last Windhoek Bier and thinking about the 6 months of travel that ends today. We’re off to live in Sydney for a year. We’re pretty excited, and thoughts are racing through our heads about the new life we’re heading for and the old one we’re leaving behind.

Being something of a geek (had you heard?) I have catalogued these thoughts and sorted them into 4 categories:

Things we will miss about travelling

  • The demented humour of long term travelling buddies. New species are formed by a process of genetic drift when two populations are separated for so long that they become very different from each other, and no longer interbreed when the populations merge. When you spend practically 24 hours a day with your wife for 6 months, a new species of humor emerges.
  • Awesome night skies. We’ve been travelling mainly in rural places, with clear black night skies covered in stars. The stars are so many and so thick that it’s hard to recognise the famous constellations because there are so many stars in them that you can’t normally see.
  • Friendliness of rural folk. Africans seem to be both surprised and delighted that you’d want to spend time in their village, rather than the capital city.
  • Trying the local specialities in each new region. Each country has its traditional carbohydrate. Kushari (Egypt) is our favourite, followed by Ugali (Tanzania).
  • African music. From traditional Tanzanian Sana Sana to South African township rap, it’s always a good move to be playing the local stuff when you stop at a police checkpoint.
  • South African KFC. It’s just a little bit better than the already insanely addictive British version.

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A tale of two videos

These two videos are about as different as two travel videos can be. I added the qualifier “as two travel videos can be” so that I’m not open to the accusation of exaggeration, since a video of a white blood cell engulfing a bacterium would clearly be more different from a cartoon of a narwhal jousting with a unicorn than these two videos are from each other. Where was I? Ah yes, extreme sports:

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A not so stormy river

We had a fun day out on Storms River. Apparently it’s the “elemental face of the Garden Route” (© the Rough Guide). We found it fairly tame but maybe we were there on the wrong day…

We got kitted out in daft outfits and floated down the (really not stormy) river on inflatable rubber rings. As you can see the water was pretty shallow:

Storms River, Tsitsikamma

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The Winelands

Good wine in Tanzania is about as common as chastity in Essex so we’ve been looking forward to the South African winelands for some time. They did not disappoint.

The first choice was between cycling plus quaffing and driving plus spitting, which isn’t really a choice at all:

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Assorted mates of Cape Town

We’ve recently had the pleasure of catching up with Vanessa, Simon and Eden Lunn. They just happened to be on holiday in Cape Town the week after we met up with the Sumption’s, convenient eh?

We went out to Cape Point and discovered it was very windy:

Cape Town

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As those of you who have been following our travels know, Jude and I have been away from home for a long time now, and have missed our families and friends back in Blighty. While being on a 5 month, 12,000 kilometre holiday is something of a consolation for our loss, we were looking forward to seeing my mother and big sister when they flew out to meet us in Cape Town. Imagine my surprise when we turned up at the gate to find a father with his nose buried in a history book waiting for the same flight to arrive, and a little sister on board said flight. We had a full compliment of Sumptions!

Sumptions on Safari

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