Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Oh Car...

By Fiz

We were supposed to leave Sydney today… but our car was having issues.  We found out yesterday that it had spilled a bit of transmission fluid after the drive from Melbourne.   With the help of our wonderful host Krisy, who is quite the car aficionado, we searched for a leak, and found oil leaking into our radiator.  We also discovered that the very fine dust of Tatura had caked every surface in our engine, everything.

So we went to her local auto shop, where she gets a decent discount, and bought 1.) coolant concentrate for 10 L 2.) 5 L of engine oil and 3.) a bottle of liquid that you pour into your radiator that stops leaks. 

    We got back to her place and spent the rest of the day flushing out our radiator, trying to keep the radiator water from boiling with the sealant, replacing the coolant, and topping up our oil.

After everything was said and done, Krisy asked her neighbor across the street to come have a look-see at our handy work.  He thought it was good that we cleaned out the radiator and fan belt, but he also told us that after long drives, if there is too much transmission fluid it bubbles out of the transmission when the vehicle cools down, hence the puddle that got us all stressed out in the first place. 

He also said that women are very sensitive to sounds, and that strange sounds make them anxious. But cars just make funny sounds, so ignore them. 

Personally I feel like that is poor advice. I mean, if a woman comes up to me and tells me it sounds like my car is going to explode, I’m gonna get the hell out of it and run.

Since being in Australia we have learned so much about cars.  It seems that any DIYO work on cars is common knowledge out in the outback.  They even have beginner car care classes for women.  Since being here we have picked up quite a bit of car know how. 

At any rate, we finished as the sun was going down, so we will depart along the coast for Melbourne tomorrow morning.

Friday, March 23, 2012

On The Road Again

By Kathleen

Waking up this morning to the sound of Australia’s beautiful birds was made all the more delightful by the fact that we aren’t in Tatura! We are in Moss Vale, heading up to Sydney this morning.

Saying goodbye to Tatura was not terribly hard, but it was a bit strange. We really have been living there, I realized not traveling and there’s a noticeable difference between those two states.

As we drove out of town we shouted goodbye to friends walking down the street, a strange piece of normality so far from home. I don’t know when I’ll next be so familiar with an area in a foreign country.

It was hard to stop driving as we got on the road and we covered most of the 800+ km in the day. It’s so liberating to be on the road again.

Tatura, for all that it was in the middle of nowhere and super boring, was wonderful in many ways. We made real friends, fantastic Nico and Nelly who we hope we will cross paths with again soon. Its great meeting new people but hard to say good-bye all the time.

Tatura was also a place of personal growth for other reasons. I have learned to drive a tractor and a jelosopeed ( cherry picker). I can tell the difference between apple, pear, peach, apricot, and plum trees when they don’t have any fruit on them. I know the way a ripe tomatoes bush smells. I have pushed myself to physical extremes, something I never do, and found that it’s actually very empowering to break through barriers. Most barriers we put up ourselves…. but some are real….like pouring rain, and cold and driving wind.

The weather made our last month in Tat quite a wash and now we find ourselves in difficult financial straits, straits that compromise our ability to continue to travel. For now we will take it one step at a time, but the beginning of the end of Australia is near. That will come with it’s own challenges. But first Sydney, and then Permaculture.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Permaculture Oppurtunities

So we may be stuck in Tatura but things are looking up in the next couple of weeks. We've been offered a spot in a Permaculture Design Certificate Course, something we have been trying to do since we've been traveling. Here's an ad that I wrote for them explaining a bit of what a PDC is. If you are reading from VIC consider joining us!

Contoured garden beds at Panya Project
Permaculture Design Certificate Course!

 Join us from April 1st-15th 2012 and in 14 days transform yourself as you learn to transform the Earth with Permaculture.

 What is Permaculture?

Permaculture (n.) A philosophy and approach to land use which weaves together microclimate, annual and perennial plants, animals, soil, water management and human needs into intrinsically connected, productive and sustainable human communities.

Sometimes called applied common sense Permaculture is a worldwide phenomena aimed at changing how relate to the land we live on. Whether you are rural or urban permaculture has something to offer you.

What is the Permaculture Design Certificate?

 The Permaculture Design Certificate Course (PDC) is a 72 hour course which follows the curriculum set by Bill Mollison of The Permaculture Institute.

What can I do with a PDC?

On completion of the PDC course you will become a fully qualified permaculture graduate, able to design your property and others, act as a permaculture consultant and teacher, and use the name permaculture in your business. You will receive a certificate and be able to work towards a Diploma of Permaculture. This PDC course is also a recognized module for Accredited Permaculture Training.

What will the course teach?

Topics ranging from organic gardening to bush food, energy efficient housing to sustainable communities, join three international tutors at the: Beautiful Freshwater Creek Steiner School on 12 acres outside of Geelong.

What else do I need to know?

Course runs April 1st-15th 2012
Geelong VIC

Vegetarian meals provided, Free Camping on-site

Cost $1350 per person

To book contact Monica at 0439 390 557
Hurry Space is Limited!
This is not Permaculture.
Final Payment due buy March 20th, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Debate: Research vs Wingin’ It

Kathleen Broadhurst

Mostly here on Travel Vicarious we post about things we are doing, but today I’ve got something a little different. This is a question directed at our traveling audience, assuming you’re out there. Shall we… debate?

There are two types of travelers, those who plan and those who don’t. Or something like that, run with it. It’s often a trifle more complicated than that but we can say that these are two distinct travel styles that a traveler may embody throughout their travel careers. The same traveler may change styles depending on their destination, their budget their interest, their age or travel experience. But of the travelers we’ve encountered people tend to favor one over the other.

For me I prefer to not plan a trip, half the fun of it is seeing where you end up and how. Now certainly there have been times where I wished I had read a few more books about a place before getting there, as a result of not planning I have on occasion been very close to very famous places and missed them (cough, cough, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, cough),but I’ve brushed it off figuring if I didn’t know enough to go, than more for next time. However that being said, I do feel that understanding the history of a country is really important to understanding what you are seeing and the countries that I have felt most connected to I knew the most about. Also countries that I have known quite a lot about before a trip usually are more anticipated.

I have found though that having no knowledge, other than rudimentary, about a location has allowed me in some cases to have truly amazing personal experiences unaffected by my desire or need to ‘see something’.

So here’s the question, beyond “which one are you”, when do you plan a trip? When do you wing it? Why? What influences you to research a destination or to just show up? How has either way worked for you in the past?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Fire and Water

Yeah, I had no idea what they were doing either.

By Kathleen

The trouble with chasing summer is that you’re always inadvertently bumping up against winter. The week of rain seems to have ushered in fall with a bit more haste then we were expecting. It seems March Down-Under is in like a lamb and out like a lion.

We’ve been finding ourselves no longer just shivering in bed at night but well into the morning and long sleeves are becoming more necessary than optional. ( Which considering our wardrobes is a little limiting). The sun still shines down on us but now it is softer and less like its destroying your skin cells mitochondria or what-not.

With the end of summer comes those types of things that I’m used to seeing back home around this season, namely country fairs.

We were feeling more confined than usual yesterday and decided that only going for a drive would cure our boredom so we headed to Mooroopna, the next town over. There seemed to be a lot of excitement, fire trucks and people and white stalls set up. Realizing that once again we’d left our camera at home we swung back. Grabbing our friends Nico and Nelly and the camera we returned to investigate.

What lay before us was a strange scene, like no other I have previously encountered. From what we could garner from watching it seemed that team of men and women, who were all volunteer fire-fighters, were involve din some sort of competition whereby they raced 20 meters of so down a road with a fire hose on wheels and a metal pipe. Part of the team was in charge of unrolling and manning the hose, the other part when they reached the appropriate place, stuck the pipe in the ground and, water spurting everywhere, connected the hose. Then they sprayed a big target. Whoever sprayed the target first won. It seemed vaguely sexual to me.

We all know what this is really about.

After much discussion we were all still confused about the nature of the event. Do volunteer fire brigades us the hose on the wheel now? Is this something historic? What was going on?

It is true that in Australia because there’s so much space and so few people that there are many volunteer firefighter teams to help combat local and bush fires which during the dry months can rage uncontrollably, sometimes damaging vast areas.

Just another little something exciting.

Fiz and Nico practicing

Mini Plug

Just want to make a moment to plug our friend's blog Escape With Us. It's written by two very sweet and awesome French backpackers who have been traveling with us since December. It's in French so for all you francophones and multi-linguals out there.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Possum, Pastries, Visa

A big thanks to everyone who told us about the crazy possum in Canberra that immobilized itself with pastries last week. I guess pastries were the answer. Next time we're fiending for Vanilla Slices at the Tat Bakery we'll have to grab an extra and see if our little friend enjoys them as much as we do.For those of you who haven't seen the picture yet, here it is.

( Thanks Ann S. for sending this over!)

This week has been full tilt work to try and make up for last week's torrential rains. Not fun. Everything is muddy and smells like stale manure water. Worse, the fruit has all begun to rot. See when ripe fruit is still on the tree and you can't pick it off because of rain it starts to spoil. This week has been picking peaches and the brown rot has gotten to them. Its rather sad actually the fruit is otherwise beautiful, nice big orange peaches.

Even one spot of the rot and we have to chuck it out of the bin. One little spot will, within a day, consume and infect the whole fruit. Within three days its turned into a shriveled corpse of a peach, and if you don't take it out of the bin, it will take the rest down with it.

We've been picking  steady 6 bins a day which has won us back the right to pick apples ( wages again yay!) but I can only dream of how many bins we would be making if it wasn't for the rain.

Tatura usually gets 40mm of rain this time of year, so far this season they've had 220mm. Climate change is a bitch. It amazes me that it even continues to generate political discussion at home. It's clearly an international phenomena, beyond politics.

All you've got to do is ask people and all around the world they will say the same thing, " The weather isn't usually like this…"

In other news we have some bad news.

When we first arrived in Australia the idea was to make some money stay for a few months and then go elsewhere to spend said money. We would do our 88 days of farm work to get our second visa and then come back next January for the season again.

This as proven to be a failed experiment. For one earning money out here is easy but so is spending it. Its slips through your fingers so that even though you're earning over 1,000 dollars a week, you somehow are still living paycheck to paycheck. Downer, 'cause this is no easy work.

Second, we had heard a rumor back when we were still innocent and hopeful, in Melbourne before we had even found our car. That rumor said " Americans can't get second year visas." We laughed at the poor fool, how under- informed. "Of course American's can get second year visas…."

He was right.

He also just left the country totally broke…. he had to fly home using his frequent flier miles…

We don't have any frequent flier miles.

So, now the question looms, "what are we going to do?". With the money that we spent getting here, getting set up and living here, we could have stayed on in Asia for another 5 months. Not that I regret having come here, seeing another piece of this beautiful Earth but damn.

If we want to leave we still have to work, but with how long it takes to save, that seriously limits not only our travel around the country here, but our prospects of going anywhere else. Damn.