Thursday, November 29, 2012

Byron Bay

Well I'm out of Sydney now. Road trip to Byron Bay. Took it slowly, and hung out in places for a few days. 

The plan was to drive up the coast road, but I strayed inland a bit. Even so, had times like this:

House sitting a friends place now. Just hanging out and doing work on the van.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Spider Wasp?

While eating lunch at the Addison Road Community Garden, noticed this wasp dragging a spider along.

The wasp pulled the spider down the hole in the ground in the bottom photo. 

I tried to get a video, but was too slow.. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Jerrawangala State Forest/National Park

Haven't been totally idle hanging out in Sydney. Been running about sorting out the van to make it livable. While there are many layouts online for most van to camper van conversions, non applied to me. Yep, I'm different. I wanted the bike inside, rather than outside. This changes the layout options. In the end, basically I put a mounting for my bike, and a flat space to sleep on. I've still more space than in my tent. Then all the little things that need to happen - clothing, footwear, storage, cooking gear, etc. Have been using the bicycle camping gear a lot, in the cooking department, but decided I wanted to use LPG and have a good saucepan with a thick copper base with a handle rather than thin light camping pot. Using all the bicycle gear in the sleeping area. 

I decided to get some work on the van and needed to empty it. I don't have that much more than my cycle gear. More tools (heavy) and more clothes (bulky) were the main areas that grew the most. 

Had the work done in Woolongong. Yellow water was running off the rubber around the front windscreen. I was worried about rust under there. Was recommended Bears Auto Hospital. To fix it, the windscreen had to be removed and refitted and they would need the van for three or four days. I'd thought (perhaps naively) that "remove rust around the windscreen" meant the whole windscreen. Alas no. After taking off the windscreen, they fixed one corner and left the rest alone and refitted the windscreen. Not happy. When queried on this, I was told to do the whole window would have been a higher price. Arrrrrggghhh.. Not happy!!!  Will have to revisit this another time at another repair center. 

Anyway, while the van was in, not getting work done, I went off camping again. In true style, it was fine every day except the day I needed to pack up. But a good time was had.

I used Kennards Storage in Woolongong to store my gear. They were excellent. The Woolongong center had only been opened about three weeks earlier. Staff were very friendly and helpful. Totally enjoyed the experience there.  

While down south, went to the Jerrawangala State Forest/National Park for a short two hour walk. 

Love the big trees. Will have to do more walks. 

Also visited the Tianjara Falls in the Morton National Park.

There was very little water trickling over. Need more rain to have it really flowing. While I was in the area, it only drizzled.. Maybe another time...


Well I've been back in Sydney for a bit now. Glad to see that I
haven't succumbed to an addiction like I did in Perth.

In Perth, it started as we're often told it does : "just try it",
"only one go, it can't hurt", "here free for your first time".

What could it hurt - I wasn't that interested anyway...

Soon I was short of sleep and sneaking slyly about, seeking out
characters with odd sounding names. Searching desperately... Day,
night had no meaning. I just needed to score one more time...
I needed to increase my hit...
Make my hit stronger...
Make my hits hits last longer...
Get more hits...
There had to be a way...

Then as gradually as it started, it faded away. Sense returned. I gave
up playing World of Warcraft (WOW to people in the know), got more
sleep, and slipped out the door to cycle across the Great Central

WOW as an addiction was very minor - a few weeks hard at it.. My
other addiction, that I fully unleashed the moment I arrived in Perth:
junk food, I'd had many many years. More specifically anything with
lots of sugar in it. High fat also featured, but no as much as sugar.
Its fair to say that most of my travels were fueled by junk food:
cake, chocolate, lollies and my favorite; biscuits (scotch finger
biscuits, chocolate chip, orange creams and ginger nuts featured
heavily, but I wasn't too picky). I was the person who'd eat dessert
first, and sometimes, second if I didn't like the mains choices, and
still have dessert! A family block of chocolate or two. A whole cake.
Tub of icecream. Packets of biscuits for a main meal, no problem.
Yep, I ate a lot of sugar. A lot like cigarette addiction, I'd tried
in the past to cut back, gone cold turkey more than a few times, but
always fallen off the wagon. Looking back, my heart wasn't really in
it. One of the reasons that I'd failed in the past was that I figured
there was always lots of time left to cut back, so what's the harm in
having another cookie now! I can cut back later today, tomorrow, next
week, next month, next year... Any time but now!

Its no surprise that I left Perth more than 10kg heavier than I'd
arrived ; daily cookie consumption, ice cream, chocolate has that
effect. With WOW, junk food, and little exercise, the only surprise
was how I didn't gain more weight. And what did all that do to my

Somewhere about Mingenew (mid June) I decided the time had come reform
my eating habits, cut out the sugar and eat more unprocessed food.
Ideally, more fruit and vegetables, but as I discovered they are hard
to get in country Australia.

Of course I had to eat my last couple of packets of biscuits first,
just start this new eating regime with a clean plate so to speak.

I won't say it was easy. In fact the next two weeks were on and off
sugar cravings. Riding along thinking of tim tams, chocolate, scotch
finger biscuits, ice cream. I could just about taste them... One thing
great about cycling Western Australia - its a long way between places.
So cravings with no shops couldn't translate into buying, which would
then be followed by eating. I did put in considerable effort to resist
in the first few towns. I might have been about to cave in in one
small town, but was saved by a limited selection of biscuits. By that
time I was a biscuit snob. None of the limited selection would do. I'd
resisted so long, I wasn't going to break now just for any old

As time went on, saying "no" got easier and easier, til I didn't have
to say "no" any more: I didn't feel the need, so there was nothing to
say "no" too. I could look at all the biscuits, chocolate, lollies,
icecream and not feel the need to eat any of them. While at Laverton,
the whole dessert section of the all you can eat buffet didn't appeal.
It was truly novel experience for me: Megan in an all you can eat
dessert buffet and not eating any of it!

With this new awakening, come the realization just how pervasive junk
food is. Some roadhouses and information centers that didn't have any
healthy food options at all!

Not to say that I didn't eat anymore biscuits. I was given a snack
pack of two cookies one time. (The travelers insisted.) They tasted so
sweet. Like they were more than pure sugar. How'd I ever eat these by
the packet full? Yes I ate them, but I also refused chocolate,
snickers bars, tim tams and innumerable other biscuit, cake and
lollies offers. Now I do refuse and in some cases have thrown out
junk food forced upon me even after I've said "no thanks" too many
times. There is no joy in eating it, and its unhealthy. But there is
joy in all the other things I'm eating. Its like the amount of sugar
overrode all other tastes. Without it, other tastes have risen up to
replace it. There's a whole world of non sugar meals to explore for
taste now.

I'm glad I've broken my sugar addiction.