Photos From Australia (2010-03-21)

So we haven’t been posting much lately, not because things haven’t been happening, but because our ability to connect to the internet in Indonesia was so limited. Not to mention we’ve been a little busy traveling, surfing, meeting new friends, and partying. But we’re back in San Francisco now, and I’ve finally been able to upload a bunch of our photos from Australia. So here they are:

Keep an eye out for more back dated posts & photos from our trip to Myanmar and Indonesia.

The Land of Oz (2010-03-21)

The Sydney Skyline Seen From the Rose Bay Ferry

Australia is a far more beautiful than I ever gave it credit for, or at least the coastal area of New South Whales is (but I’m told the rest is equally gorgeous). There are clear blue waters, white sandy beaches, striking sand stone formations, and the lush forests of the Blue Mountains framed by the massive cliffs of the Australian Grand Canyon. On top of this the summer weather is idyllic. I always thought Australia would be more like the United States: expansive stretches of blasé landscape and marshy or rocky coastline, punctuated occasionally by magnificent features, like our Grand Canyon, the Sierras, or the white sand beaches of western Florida. But if there is an area in Australia with nothing to see, we haven’t been there.

The Steps Down to 'The Three Sisters' in Katoomba Thanks to our gracious hosts and friends here, we’ve been able to survey a wide variety of the landscape. Simon drove us to the Blue Mountains about 2 hours drive west of Sydney.  We visited the town of Katoomba which sits perched atop a significant cliff, below which lush green foliage, reminiscent of that of the Olympic Peninsula, stretches to the foothills of distant ridges and mountain ranges. If one were to venture beyond the visitors center, massive staircases cut into the cliff, and well marked trails, to which we confined ourselves, they would find miles of pristine wilderness. After riding the breathtakingly steep cable car back to the top, we made our way to the North, just short of the town of Blackheath. There, at the end of a long, rough dirt road, we enjoyed a view of the expansive Australian Grand Canyon. The canyon is 600 meters from rim to floor, with a sheer cliff at its rim reaching 250 meters at its most extreme. It not a little resembles the American canyon of the same name, with it’s colorful sand stone faces, just save the arid slopes that line the base. We’ve resolved to return the region fully equipped for a multiday backcountry hike the next time we make our way to Sydney.

The Australian Grand Canyon, Taken From the South Rim

The following week, our "cousins" Shaun and Deborah drove us north of Sydney to do some beach driving and surfing at a remote beach called Birubi. The beach was nearly deserted, and the break completely devoid of other surfers. Jen, Heading Out to the Waves at Birubi The waves were okay at best, but we definitely got some good rides. I saw Jen get one of the best rides of the day on a seemingly endless left hander, which she deftly caught backside. Unfortunately we missed the photo op. After an hour or two of surfing we continued North to Nelson’s Bay, a pristine boating spot, lined with beautiful beaches sporting warm clear blue water, but little in terms of surfing waves, although apparently on big swells the region features some of the better spots thanks to its sheltered nature. We had BBQ for lunch before making our way to one of the ocean side beaches where I did some body surfing while Jen took a long walk looking for shells.

Paul Catches a Wave at Birubi

Shaun Lets Some More Air Out of the Tires For the Drive Back Down the Beach And lest my meager descriptions here fail to persuade, let me say that throughout all of our drives through the skipped over and unexplored landscape we have been repeatedly stunned by its beauty. What we’ve seen is merely a smattering of places within a short distance from Sydney. There is so much to see here, that surely one could spend a lifetime exploring this continent and not begin to scratch the surface, nor cease to be in awe of it. If you don’t believe me, I guess you just have to visit yourself. Just remember, you can’t allot too much time to explore and experience Oz.

VagaBondi (2010-03-09)


It’s good to be homeless when you have good weather and great friends. We’ve been thoroughly enjoying ourselves for the past week here in Bondi, New South Whales, Australia. We were a bit over prepared for a moderate climate and an approaching fall, with wet suits and a few long sleeved shirts. But they have proven to be utterly superfluous as we endure day after day of sunny, high 70s (I still can’t handle Celsius), and board short appropriate water temps. And despite my sarcasm I’m by no meanings complaining.

IMG_6100 On top of the wonderful weather our hosts, the Browners (Jen’s Father’s Father’s Brother’s Son & Family, no joke) have been spoiling us rotten, with meal after delicious meal, tours of the city and local neighborhood, rides to the beach, and so on. Even their dogs, Bella and Mitzy, are friendly. Bondi, where they live, sports a famous surf spot, a great beach, miles of walking paths, and blocks of restaurants and shops. We really couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay. Bondi also plays host to numerous backpackers and vacationers (hence the title of this post) some of whom we’ve rubbed elbows with in the local German beer house.

Boredom is nowhere to be found, and three weeks now seems much too short a time for a visit, as our days fill up with plans for trips to the Blue Mountains, beaches north of Sydney, visits with other relatives in the area, fishing, surfing, and trips to the zoo. And on top of that I’ve been filling every spare moment practicing playing the guitar I was happy to find lying around the house (my fingers have the calluses to prove it).

Speaking of surfing, I can’t write a first post from Bondi without a report. The beach is quite a bit better than I expected, although theIMG_6037 line-up is at least as crowded as people warned, and the manners of the surfers (if you’d call some of the amateurs out there surfers) are appalling.  Despite this, the surf is clean, chop minimal (when you get out on early on a light wind day), lines are long enough to take a moment and enjoy the ride, and the waves have enough power to keep it thrilling. It’s the best beach/sandbar break I’ve surfed, although this is only the third (Bolinas and Pacifica being the other two). It’s probably comparable to some of the similarly crowded Southern California breaks.

The Cost of Letting Go (2010-03-06)

When going through major life changes it often feels like something is pulling me in a new direction as much as I am moving there myself. The adventure we have just embarked on is no different. When I think to myself “you know what I’d like to do right now…” my next thought is I should stop wishing I was doing that thing, and I should just go do it. Once I’ve made this mental commitment the rest just follows irresistibly, like gravity throttling a base jumper earthward once he’s finally made the leap.

The ride isn’t free however, and along the way there are obstacles, intense stress, hesitancy, and worry along the way. That is the cost of the adrenaline rush that is plunging head long in a new direction, rather than coasting along in the rut one occasionally finds oneself in. For me that rut was a job I wasn’t excited about, at a company I didn’t choose, with people who weren’t challenging me (my co-conspirators excepted, you know who you are). And my life change was abandoning my career, relinquishing many of my possessions and my home (rented, as it was), and embarking on an adventure, the likes of which is only a fantasy for many. And boy has it been a ride so far.

IMG_0119 As with all things, it was impossible to get the work done soon enough. Jobs always seem to fill all the available time, don’t they. I waited far to long to put things on craigslist, to sort through old boxes, and to weed out old clothes, electronics, and books that could be given away. And so the days leading up to our departure turned into a maddeningly stressful blur of sleep deprived days and nights packing, selling, moving, and giving away. Until finally, a day after we were supposed to be out of our old apartment, and the day of our departure for Australia, we were done. Our possession were sold, given away, or stored. Our bags were packed. We’d received our final vaccinations and visas. We’d made it through the seemingly interminable free fall, and our shoot had opened. What a rush, and a relief.