Saturday, 4 August 2012

Hitchhiking In Bulahdelah

So it was day two of our ‘epic’ road trip and we were still less than three hours outside of Sydney and stranded in a layby in the middle of nowhere. On the up side, we were able to finally call a mechanic and get an opinion on our broken bus; that opinion was – it’s fucked!! We needed to replace a fanbelt or something and it’s a really old car so they need to get the parts, long story short it was going to take four days and $200 each to get our baby back on the road.  So Ryan and Kelly the two most responsible people on our trip, set of with the mechanic to a nearby town.

With the bus gone and only two, one man tents for shelter we came to the conclusion that some of us would have to set off and find civilisation, whilst the others stayed put to guard our stuff and fend for themselves in the middle of nowhere layby. So off set all of the girls plus Harry; our map said that there was a town called Bulahdelah around 10 miles away so we decided to see if we could make the journey by foot.

After about 15 minutes we decided that this was an impossible task and stuck out our thumbs, a creepy man with a handlebar moustache pulled up and asked if we wanted a ride, we asked him how far the nearest town was and he said that it was an hour away (lie) and that he didn’t have room for all of us so he would just take the girls!! Needless to say, there was no way any of us were getting in that car! Then an entirely less disturbing French man pulled up in a campervan and said that he would take us to town, but he also didn’t have room so we left team Canada behind; as they didn’t really want to jump in the back of a strangers van.

We arrived in Bulahdelah 10 mins later completely intact and thankfully not raped, we started trying to entertain ourselves, a task that in this town is utterly impossible as there is literally just a chip shop, a bank and a hardware store so we hung around by some public toilets waiting for the Canadians to come and save us from boredom.

We waited for hours, then when they came we got some food and found out that the boys had come up with a complete cock n bull story about that turkey, in actual fact they had – got lost, been picked up by the man who owns the fish and chip shop, been given a turkey and wine by him as well as the rotisserie and been dropped back by his wife!! This man has got to be the loveliest man on the planet, because he then started ringing round for favours, trying to find us somewhere to stay. He was unsuccessful but lovely none the less.

I saw a sign in the hardware store saying “ farm work needed – hiring two people in exchange for food and accommodation” so we rang them and asked if instead of two people would they mind eight, and they shockingly said yes but we had to stay in the shed!

Peter and Caroline the farmers picked us up in town and dropped Harry back to the side of the road as he was sick of being a girl, they then took us to their farm, fed us some delicious food and then set us to work picking weeds, we then made our own bed in the shed, where we would be sleeping. It was not the best of living situations as it was freezing cold and I had to keep throwing lemons at Hanna to get her to shut up and stop snoring! Then they had an outside radio system to keep the foxes away. It started blasting out creepy music that sounded like what they played in Schindlers List when they were rounding up the kids, I became scared that they might come and round me up – thankfully I made it through the night and although very tired and cold I had not been sent to a gas chamber!!

Friday, 13 July 2012

The Breakdown, P. Diddy and The Bush Turkey!

It is the first day on a road trip of a lifetime and we had set of in the evening, we drove through the night playing drinking games and creating ‘the list’ of utterly ridiculous tasks to complete on our journey:

1)      Everyone must be sick from a moving vehicle

2)      Pick up some hitchhikers

3)      Drink 100 boxes of wine

4)      Stage a kidnap

5)      Get a pet

6)      Create a bus song

7)      Put a hand in a kangaroos pouch

8)      Kill something

We had drove for a couple of hours north and made it to Lake Macquarie, were we settled by the shore for our first night’s sleep, if you could call it that; we had 11 people and 11 backpacks in a Toyota Hiace. Three in the front, Harry was on top of the bags (I think), Hanna and Jess in the first row, me in the gap between the seats, Adam on the next row, and three more in the back with 5 of us sharing one seat for a foot rest. This was truly the most cramped night’s sleep of my life, and then it starts, Kelly, Hanna, Ryan and Jere have got to be the most horrific snorers I have ever heard, it was constant. I sat on top of my backpack slowly rocking and crying waiting for the sun to rise.

When the sun finally rose I was grumpy as shit, and was then presented with a knob (processed chicken and ham flavoured tube of meat – that doesn’t contain any ham) and cheese sandwich, yummy. We got all of our stuff together and set off on our journey heading towards Port Macquarie. Around an hour into our trip the front of the bus makes a huge bang and the engine starts to cut out so we pull over, this seems relatively normal as we usually have to stop every 30-60 mins to let it cool down, but we couldn’t start the engine again. We made some signs on a towel, asking for a mechanic but no one would help us, we also tied someone to a tree, just for shits and giggles.

After an hour we admitted defeat, and thought that we were here for the day as it was a Sunday and no were was open, so we pushed our car into the nearest layby, this was our new home until that bus was fixed.

So this was it, we were stranded in the middle of nowhere, literally miles from civilisation in a layby. We had limited food, water and alcohol and it was beginning to look a bit bleak, so we formulated a rather silly plan of action. Jere and Harry would hitchhike to the nearest town for supplies, the girls would set up camp and Adam and Ryan would go for a drunken hunt in the forest to see what they could find. Jere and Harry left first, and then Adam and Ryan; dressed in stupid hats and armed with a pocket knife and a box of wine they headed out to the forest.  Me, Clare and Jess decided to collect some fire wood and ripped down a tree with our bare hands, which was more to pass the time than anything else.

After a couple of hours, Jere and Harry returned with some people who asked us to watch their budgie for them whilst they took the boys to town, which was apparently 12miles up the road. Task number 5 had been achieved; we had acquired a pet budgie named P. Diddy that we looked after in our bus for an hour or so, until they returned with no food or water but $60 worth of wine!

In that hour we had received a rather worrying text from the guys in the forest, Ryan wrote “we are lost, and I have been stabbed by Adam, but we are ok” he then turned off the phone! As the sun began to set we all began to worry about the guys in the woods, as it was a massive forest full of wild animals and they had promised to be back before now. I was especially worried, as I knew that Adam was terrified of being in a forest at night because of The Blair Witch Project, so a group of us headed into the woods after them. We walked for an hour screaming their names to no reply; they must have gone in deep. When it got dark the boys convinced us that we had to go back in case we got lost as well.

We were all panicking and discussing what to do next, should we call the rangers or wait till morning? Then we received another text “we are lost, but we have caught a bush turkey and have found a road we will be back soon” after the initial relief that they were ok we all thought “how the hell did they catch a freaking bush turkey”!!

 When they finally returned; they had apparently been picked up by some local Christian farmers who spoke to them about scripture and then took them to their farm, where they were having a party. They plucked, stuffed and half cooked the turkey, gave the boys a rotisserie and some booze patched up Ryan’s hand from were he had been stabbed and dropped them back at camp. I can honestly say that this day was genuinely the most bazar day of my life so far, and it was also the first time I realised that Oz is very different to the UK – in the UK this would not happen.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Last Nignt In Brado's

So; since my trip to The Blue Mountains, life had been relatively uneventful, just, life in The Cross, Selling light bulbs in the week and heading to Bondi and out on the lash on the weekend.  It was a great time but not much eventful to write home about. I became bored of this lifestyle; after all I am supposed to be traveling!  Around a month after the trip to the Blue Mountains some people were taking that bus on an epic road trip up the coast – so we decided to join them.

If you are following this blog regularly I will give you a quick rundown of the people going on this trip, as I will be mentioning them a lot:

There is Me and Adam:  the only couple on the trip.

Ryan: Is a small man, with a very large and eccentric personality.

Jere: A Finnish ‘manly man’ who is way too loud and loves to drink way to much – but in a good way.

Arwel / Harry: Is lovable – His real name is Arwel but someone said he looked like prince Harry – so he rolled with it and I never knew it wasn’t his name for months.

Hanna / Jess / Steph: Are team Canada, Hanna is the mother hen, Jess is just awesome and Steph can sing.

Kelly: Is our driver and the sensible one – unless she has a drink!

Clare: Is blonde Clare, I’m brown Claire – not to imaginative as it just corresponds to our hair colour.

Katy: very cool eccentric girl with awesome hair.

Our last night in the Hostel was pretty ridiculous, we were all very drunk and it was our last night so we ‘urmm’ let loose. I had acquired a master key at some point and could access every room in the hostel – this resulted in, me finding Adam cuddled up I my bed with Harry, me trying to raid every room in the Hostel to finally settle in some poor girls bed (who then just joined me at 5am, as though this was normal) and another girl who has a tendency to wet the bed, well, she peed her friends bed.

We wake up in the morning slightly bleary eyed and ready to start our adventure, but there is just one big problem. We are waiting for the car to be picked up in Bondi as it was being held there until the registration had been paid off. So at around 5pm, after we had completed the very complex task of figuring out how 11 people, 11 backpacks, 2 giant teddy bears, tents, cooking equipment, food and a kite board would fit into a Toyota Hiyace,  we were on our way; and so a road trip of a lifetime begins.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Meet The Locals

I just wanted to do a post dedicated to all of the fabulous locals that live in The Kings Cross area in Sydney, it most probably holds the largest population of colourful characters in a small area on earth; From the weird and wonderful to the slightly scary you can find them all here, this is my small rundown of the best and arguably the worst characters to see:

My favourite is the black transvestite, whose name is apparently Kelly Fabuloso!!! He / she can be seen on Darlinghurst Road form around 12pm until 12am, usually on the bench outside of the Sugar Loaf, sporting a spectacularly tacky dress but always looking fabulous - of course. This is my favourite person always happy and usually dancing he / she once proposed to my friend Harry as he looks kind of like prince harry, and apparently he / she was apparently the princess of Nairobi cast out from the family, as he / she fell in love, he / she was then abandoned at the altar and is now on the lookout to marry a prince!! On a separate occasion he / she also told me that he / she had been a runner up on Australia’s Next Top Model!!! Love it.

There is of course the old lady, who randomly joins peoples tables in bars and has a little rant - oh how I miss her, my favourite line from her was “F**k you lot, I’m going to be late for my taxi to Darwin” as she left the bar! That is one expensive taxi ride.

I cannot forget Animal – king of the pimps! One morning me and some friends popped out for some breakfast and found ourselves at a table full of pimps and a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, I was asked if I wanted to be a stripper and ride on his bike – I politely declined. You will recognise Animal if you are from Sydney he is the crazy looking dude on that Harley.

The crying girl – I have never met or seen this one, but I have heard her repeatedly outside of my window at night time just screaming “its night time, its night time” …. Yes we F*****g know it’s night time and we are trying to sleep.

Finally there are the classics who I will never forget: man with singing deer robot, man dressed as old pregnant lady, prostitutes, and junkies and of course Terry Tibbs. I love and miss seeing every one of these people every day – they are all just so god damn intriguing to watch. The Kings Cross locals are awesome.

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Blue Mountains

Whilst living in Sydney I made two visits to The Blue Mountains; the first visit was an innocent affair, me, Adam and Martjin caught a train from Sydney to Katoomba, and then walked down to the three sisters. The Blue Mountains do look incredible – not so much the three sisters which is essentially a rock formation, but the sheer vastness of it all; Bushland that stretches for miles on end. Walking down to the base level at the bottom can take hours but you will see some truly stunning scenery; cascading waterfalls, a possible koala and beautiful bushland. There is a train that takes you back to the top again and I would suggest that you take it, because I didn’t and the walk back to the top was arduous and, funny enough, not as enjoyable as the walk down.

My second trip to The Blue Mountains was not nearly as innocent a little visit.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


After a few days of living in the hostel we were told that we were going to be moving into a smaller room, as our room was having its door fixed. We were going to be moving into that room with our new long term roommate Dee, and our on again, off again roommate Martjin.  I just thought that I would post about these two people as I would be living with them for a considerable amount of time, and they will inevitably become a part of my travels. Soo how do I describe Martjin and Dee - well I think that I will start with Martjin.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Anything But Clothes

On my second day living in Brado’s “the party hostel” I felt slightly embarrassed about the night before, I mean I did get really really drunk and have to get carried home – and my boyfriend did, kind of throw up all over the hostel. I tell myself that “Today is a new day, and I will not embarrass myself”. The next thing I know the cleaners come into the room to find me huddled in a blanket, looking like death asking me what I plan to do about Adams sick – and now I’m embarrassed already!

Other than the sick issue my day goes without a hitch, I spend another day being all touristy and doing touristy things around Sydney. Upon return to the Hostel Tom and Liam tell us that everyone is going out and that we can’t wear clothes!!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Selling Lightbulbs

When a potential employer asks me “what is it you were doing whilst you were in Australia?” I like to reply I was an Energy Consultant advising CEO’s of mega corporations on energy efficiency, or I was part of a direct marketing team focusing on energy efficiency within the B2B market or maybe I was simply a lighting specialist. From any of these “job descriptions” you may think that I was doing something clever, important and high paid – you would be wrong. Although each description is technically correct it in no way describes the job at hand. Let me take you back to my first day:


Saturday, 2 June 2012

Kings Cross – Brado’s Backpackers and Goon!!

So after we checked out of the Hostel with the no alcohol policy and out of his uncle’s house with a compulsory alcohol policy we had dwindling funds. At this point you might say that we were hobo’s with around $100 each, Adam with no job and me with one but not getting paid for over a week. So I got onto the internet and found us the cheapest hostel in Sydney – Brado’s Backpackers.

Brado’s was situated in The Kings Cross witch from what I heard was the red light district of Sydney – and if you ask a local the most dangerous, disgusting place around. Sounded awesome so that’s where we went. Coming out of the train station at Kings Cross I can see why the locals might think the place horrible, streets lined with night clubs, strip joints and fast food restaurants, heroin addicts and Sydney’s local crazies pouring out of every brothel; there was transvestites in fluoro pink tutus and a prostitute singing “let’s talk about sex baby, let’s talk about you and me” either very sad or a genius PR stunt – not sure which.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Charity Collection

So when we landed in Sydney we had approximately $500 between us – for a year- this is very bad times.  So we joined TAW (Travellers At Work) and applied for every job under the sun I heard back from the first job within the hour and then from another later in the day. So off I popped to the tacky Chinese shop to buy an interview outfit; a black dress – blazer and shoes. We are now down to $450 this had better be worth it!!

So interview number 1 The Green Guys Group – it’s my first meeting with Ben, he asks me some sales questions – I give good answers – I get the job. I hot foot it across town to Zest Marketing. Now I was really excited about this job as I studied Marketing and they were asking for an Account Exec. This was an extremely miss leading job title to say the least. There is me and another girl in the interview room – both in high heels. We get chatting and find out that we are both backpackers – her name is Hope.

In comes a man in shirt and tie – he has the crazy eyes, but I let this go. He starts asking us if we drink and what are strong points are, not two questions that usually go together but OK! 

He then asks us to walk with him down to Central Station with him as that is where his team is working. This is not sounding too much like an interview for an Account Exec. So I and Hope follow this man with the crazy eyes down to Central Station – a 15 min walk in heels. On the way my concerns that this may be a crazy man are confirmed when he is laughing wildly at his own jokes and making some odd noises in general. Then I realise what this is.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Pubs - Pubs & Other Drugs!!

So in a bid to escape from the terribleness that was a hostel with a no wine policy we head to a relative of my boyfriends that can remain nameless, alright for the purpose of this post I will call him Steve. So Steve’s house was the very opposite of a Hostel with a no wine policy in fact when around Steve, it very much compulsory that you drink wine; for Steve you see is an alcoholic.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Sydney - Crap Hostels - And a Dirty Abbo Man

So after an awesome time in New Zealand we touch down in Sydney – and to get me in the mood I watched Reef on the plain (it’s a film about people being eaten by sharks in Oz) bad idea! Anyway we land and get in a shuttle bus to the hostel that we had booked. We are spending our first few days in Sydney in the YHA on Glebe Point Road in Glebe.

Glebe is an awesome area not exactly central but only a 30 min walk to the centre and with constant buses. The area has a cool artsy hippy vibe – with vegetarian restaurants and cool cafes – bookstores and boutiques line this street. The locals would not look out of place at a festival.

Goodbye Memoirs Of A Backpacker

Ok so I am not finishing this blog however I have decided to change the name of it. Two reasons number one Memoirs is difficult to spell and number two – and probably the main one as reason one is lame – is that I want to make this blog a bit more personable and to do that I need a personal name. For now it is goodbye to Memoirs Of A Backpacker and hello to Backpacking Claire!

Let me know which name you prefer?

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Bucket List

After reading Adventurous Kate’s – Problem with the bucket list I became inspired to make my own. After taking Kate’s advice I have eliminated all of the stuff that I should want to do and am only keeping what is the most important to me. I have an aim to complete all of his in the next 8 years.

Drive route 66 – America. I have not been to the states yet and this is high on my list. I want to have a real, All American road trip from LA to Chicago. I just need to learn how to drive.

See Christ The Redeemer – Brazil. I want to chill out in the Rio sunshine and see a true Carnival; I always imagine this city to have the most amazing atmosphere.

See The Northern Lights – everyone thinks that I’m nuts but Iceland is sounding incredible to me, gorgeous scenery, volcanic geezers and the world’s most beautiful nights sky – it doesn’t sound so crazy to me.  

See The Great Wall Of China – it’s not so much seeing the wall but that I loved Asia so much the first time around that heading to China seems only natural.

Tokyo – This city intrigues me, a mixture of old Eastern Asia and the Modern West all set amongst the backdrop of Mt. Fuji – sounds amazing.

Dive The Great Barrier Reef – I don’t know how I managed to spend 9 months in Oz and not do this – but what can I say I spent all my money on Goon. I will be heading back to Oz later this year so hopefully I can cross this one off soon.

Travel The UK – you may think this odd; but why take the time to see the rest of the world but not explore what is in your own back garden.  

If you like this list please let me know if you have anything on your own list:

Monday, 14 May 2012

Coromandel and Hot Water Beach

So after a couple of lack lustre days back in Rotorua we decided to head to up to the Coromandel it is a cluster of beaches on the north with amazing sights such as Cathedral Cove and Hot Water beach. The only problem was that the weather was horrific rain, wind and was bitterly cold – but sights have got to be seen no matter what the weather, and hopefully Hot Water Beach lives up to its name!

Thursday, 10 May 2012


So after an amazing time chilling in Taupo’s hot pools we head up beck up to Rotorua to go Zorbing. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and you just have to do it when in New Zealand – right – wrong.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Hot Water Falls

So after the amazing day at Franz Joseph scaling the glaciers we had to start the arduous task of hotfooting it back up to Auckland to catch a flight because we didn’t really think of flying out of Christchurch. If you are going to be traveling NZ - fly into one airport and out of the other!

Monday, 30 April 2012

Glacier Walking

We wake-up in the morning, tired and aching from the day before but are excited and ready for another action packed day. Today we are climbing a huge ice glacier up a mountain.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

White Water Rafting And UFO Sightings

So we arrive in Queenstown – New Zealand the adrenalin junkie’s paradise. The whole place is picture perfect, an awesomely cool town with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. I don’t know why but the whole town reminded me of something from a Tony Hawk game, it just had some sort of cool Americana skater town vibe.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Day I Climbed A Mountain And Lost My Pride

We arrive in Wanaka buying our Easter Eggs on the way I got a Crunchy, Adam got a cream egg. Anyway we arrive and are all set and excited for skiing – except there is one tiny little problem! There’s no snow : (

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Crazy Man

So during our many swaps of the campervans we decide to stay at this random farm just outside of Christchurch to wash all of our stuff – just in case!