Vinny's Vision

Trip Start Jun 01, 2006
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Flag of Australia  ,
Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Well well. Here I am, its been a long time.

We are currently in Brisbane, Which, for me, has remarkable similarities to Stoke on Trent and is in the midst of a horrendous drought. Very soon taps will be turned off for certain hours of the day. This is the location we have chosen to make our split with a long term travelling partner and friend, Lola. It is time for her to move on to more yellow van adventures with a new generation of talent. Rest assured though that we will be only looking for a buyer of the highest calibre. The interviewing will be strict, driving tested and references checked, that or by being within $1000 of our asking price.

The reason for the split a simple - Tom is leaving her. He flies home in a couple of weeks to be part of a Wood family venture, run by brother Ben and his good lady. The Wheel. A lovely old pub/farm house in Branston, the Vale 'O' Belvoir. Where all food and beverage requirements will be taken care of. And perhaps in time everyone will know your name.

So what have we been up to? Where have we been? These questions and not a lot more shall be answered but first. Mike has already mentioned our current split and the reasons for, mainly money and a lack of desire to spend too much time in Melbourne on my part.

Another issue for me, is not having a working Visa for Australia. I possessed one when last here in 2000 and, rules being rules, you can currently only have one in a lifetime. What this means is I'm only on a holiday Visa which is applied and paid for before entering the country. This lasts a year but only allows you to stay for a maximum of 3 months at a time, then you have to leave the country to return for another 3 etc etc. However in true money grabbing style you are allowed to extend your first 3 to 6 months for a healthy sum when it's due to run out.

So this has meant I can't work, technically, although...... anyway what effect this has on me and the long winded way I got round to it. IS, we have nearly been in the country 6 months and my Visa is up.

I'M GOING TO FLY!!!

Not quite in keeping with our way of doing things, I'm aware, but its not very easy to nip in and out from Oz on a boat. I could take on John Howard and his government and outstay my Visa, but this will only lead to being black listed on departure and frankly... I don't won't that. So I fly from Sydney to Cebu City in the Philippines on the 29th and back to Sydney out of Manila 3 weeks later. Why the Philippines???? Why not the Philippines? All reports are of a beautiful country and its people I have met, most recently on our cargo ship here, have been very genuine and with a smile.

But what have we been up? Basically we have hugged the coast since leaving Mr.Horner. Having already had a trip down to Phillip Island and marvelling at how much it costs to see the wild penguins. We headed straight to Lakes Entrance in East Victoria and took on the coast from there. Driving, sleeping, swimming and eating was the order of the day. Being really honest it was that long ago I can't remember. The pictures tell a story. Gerringong and Gerroa south of Wollongong particularly stand out. Gate crashing a Friday night out in Gerroa Boat club where it happened to be Shelley's(?) 60th birthday, a scene that seemed almost lifted straight from Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights. The daughter describing her mother as 'the ham in my sandwich' one of the many lines and kept us chuckling into our VB's.

We got lucky in Sydney where Dick, a friend of friends, needed his house sitting in Manly for three weeks whilst he went to Canada. We were the men for the job. All that was required was to look after his Cat, Dudley or Duds to his friends. Duds it turned out was an 18 year old Siamese with kidney problems and a dislike for anyone un-Dicklike. It took him a week before he ventured out from Dicks bed for anything other than his raw or cooked chicken diet, nature calls and us having to give him his medication, but we soon became his bestest new buddies. During this time I had met up with an old mate, Roger, who is now running a work agency that was relocating to a new undecorated office. I was up to the job and lent a hand. Then Dudley stopped eating, not uncommon for a day or two we were told, but on the third Tom had the trauma of taking him to Vets and having to leave him on a drip. Then make the call to Dick. Thankfully Duds survived and 4 days later the returning Dick and Tom picked him up. Clipped, washed and brushed he looked a new cat.

Speeding up, we left Sydney and took in the Blue Mountains, cloudy, The Entrance, sunny and slightly hick, through National Parks to Seal Rocks, beautiful and to Forsters. Where we met and were put up by Kate, an old school friend, and Darin, her hubby.

They lived just up the hill from a very lovely beach where, when floating around and catching some big waves we were joined by two Dolphins. At first we thought sharks and that death was close but they turned out to like waves also. A consortium of Kate and Darin's friends owned a horse that was running at Coffs Harbour on the sunday and a race day was on. Lone Shot was the horse, so called due to it being the only offspring its father managed, it finished just out the places in 4th but a good day had by all and two weeks of food budget blown.

A few more days in Coffs then to Byron Bay. Which is a little paradise but has a town which is a little Magaluf. Tom did finally have a shark/surf adventure where a dorsal fin surfaced a started circling not far from a group of them, but in true surf bum fashion they all just looked at each other, I imagine weighing up the odds, and carried on regardless. Byron saw Lola spending 5 nights in a car park each morning us waking at 6.30 just before the Ranger arrived. At 7 he would arrive, We would smile, he would tell us to get accommodation, we would tell him we would and that we hoped he had a nice day, he would leave. Day 5 he cracked though and Tom woke to a ticket under the wiper.

We are now here in Brisvegas having waved friends Ella and Charley off to the airport and this tale is done.

Good day.
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