Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Blue







































I'm not the best at coming back from travelling, but I felt a sense of peace as I landed in Sydney this morning. The crisp winter air, the familiar eucalyptus smell, a welcome note from my mum and jasmine next to my bed, tea and funny stories with my brother. I feel (kind of) ready for what is bound to be the biggest semester of my studies yet and I'm looking forward to having some routine again. Post-travel blues will no doubt come soon but for now, it feels okay to be home.

By the way, the past 6 weeks have been amazing - many stories, so many beautiful places, countless wonderful people. I'll share some of it soon.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

South II

















































Hello, I'm back! It was a lovely semester until the last 2 weeks - which were mad - but that's all done now, had a wonderful exhibition of our designs for a Visualising Research subject on Wednesday night, and now I have just over a week to get organised before north America! So finally... part II of my cycling trip in Tasmania.

After we hiked down Cradle Mountain, we decided to head for a free campsite a few kilometres from the national park. I'd never done any off-road or mountain biking so it was a bit scary being introduced to it with a heavily loaded bike that would only change to the easy gear if you physically changed the chain. It was worth it though, I will never forget cycling down into that valley during that stunning sunset. This campsite was such a gem, there was only one German couple also camping there and in the evening we sat around a fire together. The guy, being a chef, offered us some ingredients upon seeing our very sad pasta & canned soup situation (I never said we ate well during this trip...). The next day my friend had the idea of making my bike seat lower which instantly made it a lot easier on my knee which by this point was almost unbearably painful when cycling or walking. I really loved this day of cycling, it was quite an easy 80km through beautiful forests and countryside. We had lunch at the tiny town of Tullah and nearly cried tears of joy at the sight of real food (burger with the lot) from the milkbar for lunch. That night we found another great place to camp (with taps and bathrooms, luxury!) in Rosebery, a small mining town not far from the west coast. That night was so good, we went to the Rosebery RSL (last photo) for a beer and started talking to the locals there who instantly bought us blue shots (...) and gave an interesting insight into life in the town and their experiences of working in the mines. The man in the last photo had been working in their mine for 45 years (!), from when it was 15 levels down to now,  60 levels down, 2km under the earth! Conversations with such genuine and honest people are so good and this night was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. The next day I got a bus with my bike to Launceston, explored the town and stayed with a family of a friend of a friend. They were so hospitable and lovely, trips like these restore my faith in humanity!
Tassie was so so good and a trip to Hobart and the east coast (hopefully by bike again) is definitely on the cards for next semester.

I'm leaving for the States/ Canada next Sunday! My trip will roughly be: NYC - Montreal - Toronto - Chicago - Seattle - Vancouver - Whistler - San Fran - LA. I would love any tips for those places, especially where to go for walks/ hikes/ bike rides in the vicinity of those cities.

ALSO, I made some zines for the exhibition I mentioned earlier and I've got a few copies left. It deals with a topic I've been researching in depth over the past few months; Australia's offshore detainment of asylum seekers. If you would like one, email me your postal address and I'll mail you one :) madeleine.mtn[@]gmail.com

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Cradle Mountain










I had been really missing - almost craving - the feeling of standing on top of a high place, being able to see mountains below me. Memories of hiking to mountain peaks and being at the top of a ski run were my go-to thoughts just before I fell asleep in the evenings. We set an alarm after the coldest night of the trip (also when a possum attacked on our couscous), quickly packed up our tents in the freezing morning and set off for the peak of Cradle Mountain. We were warned about how quickly weather conditions could change up there (it's almost as high as Kosciuszko but a much more challenging climb up) but we were quite lucky, because it's not uncommon for it to start snowing this time of the year. It was a really fun boulder-climb to the peak, feeling like we were really 'climbing' up the mountain. The way down was accompanied by amazing views of the various mountain lakes, we even think we saw a platypus in one! The nature is so unique there, very different to mainland Australia. The light was also so different - very bright, almost blue-ish light that added to the eerie atmosphere walking back along Dove Lake.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

South













































As always, I'd like to write something profound here that does justice to my experiences and it never seems to come out right (or at all) so I'll just go with a simple chronological retelling of my week in the west of Tasmania.

Leading up was a really busy and stressful week and I didn't think I'd get all my uni work, necessary catch-ups, packing and preparation for a bike trip done but don't we all always somehow manage? Not long after my last class last Thursday I was picking my brother up from fashion week to take me to the airport, accidentally pulling up in the taxi area where a well-dressed long queue were waiting, managed to 'sweet talk' the angry car ushers by saying I've got deliveries (pointing to my bike's box in the back) and finally just making it to the airport.
I met up with my friend, another Aussie I met at my university in Austria, who's also back now and currently cycling around Aus for a few months. We set off from Launceston on Friday (after a visit to the Country Women's Association store and a few lemon and coconut slices) and the plan was to head towards Cradle Mountain National Park - a place I'd never heard of but apparently is quite well known. I had a semi-conscious goal with this trip to gain (or rediscover) an appreciation for Australian nature. I think I somehow trained my brain to appreciate European beauty and I had grown to largely disregard the Australian wilderness unless there was an ocean in sight, something which I hated and really wanted to change.
The first night we camped at Mole Creek, a small town where we camped for free at the back of the local  pub/hotel and could use the hotel's hot showers for $2 - score! We used an amazing App called WikiCamps that shows you all campsites on a map, many of which are free in Tasmania. That night I got a rude shock that I packed much too lightly for the cold nights - my thin summer sleeping bag and few jumpers weren't quite sufficient for the very low temperatures. Every following night I'd put literally all my clothes on, wrap myself in an emergency space blanket (that I thankfully bought last-minute in Launceston), get into my 'thermal' sleeping bag liner then wiggle into my sleeping bag. Every time I moved it sounded like a thousand crinkly shopping bags.
The next day we visited amazing Marakoopa caves on the way (saw glow worms for the first time!) and started the long climb towards Cradle Mountain. Day 2 was one of the most mentally and physically challenging days of my life. My left knee had started to hurt a lot towards the end of the previous day (later discovered that it was probably due to my saddle being too high - derp) and by 20km into the second day it was almost unbearable. Very long story short; it had gotten dark, Wolfmother were screaming down my ears to no avail, we had still not finished the huge climb and morale was pretty low but we eventually came to an intersection with a B&B. The nice lady said we could pitch our tents out of sight behind one of the buildings, we filled our water bottles and ate the only food we had - oats with Tasmanian honey and tea. The next day the climb was relatively okay to the entrance of the Park and we decided to 'splurge' and pay for the paid campsite nearby for the warm showers and kitchen.

Will be continued soon