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Photos of camping in Margaret River

5 Jan

Here’s some photo’s from before New Years of camping in Margaret River. 6 of us went down for a couple of nights after Christmas. The reason for the trip was to show Mandy’s sister Crystal around, who was over from the States for a couple of weeks over the Christmas New Year period.

I will do another post tomorrow of the New Years period, which saw us go to 3 music festivals/gigs in 4 days, great times, but I’m glad the silly season is over and I’m looking forward to getting some blood back in my alcohol system!

Enjoy the photos

frasers-new-spaceship-for-you-car-lovers-its-the-08-holden-club-sport

the-crew-with-camp-set-up

crystal-and-mandy-on-the-margaret-river-wine-tour

overlooking-hamelin-bay-in-margaret-river-region

chilling-hamelin-bay-just-another-beautiful-wa-beach

 

OK, will get a post done tomorrow of photos of the New Year music gigs/festivals.  Hope the New Year treating you all fine and dandy.

Nuthin but love Hap

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Perth City to Surf Half Marathon

6 Sep

Hello my good friends.

Aaahhhhhhh, what a beautiful day it is today! Today is one of those Perth blue skied days, its Tuesday morning, most people are at work, but I am not. But despite all this, the reason today is more beautiful than other days is because I don’t have to go for a run! Yep, no more running for me, no little voice in the back of your heading going ‘Hap you must go running now, if you don’t go now you have to go later, you have a 1/2 marathon coming up, no don’t sit down with your friends and relax, go for a run!‘. LEAVE ME ALONE ANNOYING LITTLE VOICE!

Yep Sunday signalled the beginning and end of my running career.  It was about 5 weeks ago that good friend and fitness fanatic Ngaire suggested we do the Perth City to Surf Half Marathon, which for those of you that don’t know involves 21km of running fun.

I have only done one other 1/2 marathon and that was over 5 years ago at Outward Bound, and I have always wanted to have another shot at doing one, so there was no better time than the present, since I have semi “settled down”.

The last 5 weeks I have been doing my best to train, but its usually pretty hard when your at the mines, doing 12 hour shifts doesn’t leave much time (or daylight) to go for a decent run, although I did my best and ended up getting pretty fit.  I also totally embraced the psychological form of preparation, (its just easier, and it doesn’t involve running). My goal was to get under 1hr30min, which was pretty ambitious, but I had a good feeling.

Anyway, race day came around, sickness and injuries had depleted our crew, Ngaire the ring leader guttingly for her had to pull out due to a virus.  But there were still myself, Mandy, Stu and Sam (the evening before when we were coming back from climbing and I suggested to Sam he take Ngaires race pack and do it, he couldn’t think of any good excuses why not, so he did it – that’s the spirit!) 

So where was I, oh yeah Race Day. Kick off, or what ever you call the start for a half marathon was at 7.15am.  By this time I had already done number 2’s 3 times. I must have been nervous, why? I don’t know. What makes you more nervous is using a public toilet early on a Sunday morning with no lock on the door and 37,000 City to Surf participants converging on central Perth!

Long story short, well actually its not that long.  I hated life for nearly an hour an a half, I crossed the line, continued to dry heave my guts up while concerned volunteers asked if I was OK “I”m OK……..I just need to find a place to die”.  Then over the loud speaker booms the commentators voice “and about to cross the line is the second placed female competitor with a time of 1 hour and 27 minutes”. My first thought was, ‘if I had had a had a sex change before the race I could of picked up the womans 2nd place prize’ and my second thought was ‘wooooohooooo I got under a 1hour 30minutes’ and then I continued trying to give oral birth to my insides.

As I was walking to the booth to collect my complimentary water I bumped into a couple of older competitors. He says to me in good natured banter “your the guy that past me on the last hill wearing jeans and dreadlocks” (I think he was just having a laugh that I didn’t really look like a runner). I had a bit of laugh, but it must be a little bit demoralising when you have the latest Nike running shoes, matching short shorts and singlet and spend your lunch breaks in on-line running chat rooms discussing your training program to have a dread-locked hippie run pass you in board-shorts and a t-shirt from his snowboard season in Canada a couple of years previous. Priceless. 

OK, so basically its taken me 800 words to tell you that I did a 1/2 marathon in the weekend.

Nuthing but love Hap

PS All the other competitors our little team totally dominated and reached all their goals aswell, high fives!

PPS Just got the official results back, I placed 56th with a time of 1:26:33.

Villians and Super Heros

4 Aug

On my last R&R back in Perth there was a bit of a Shin Dig, a fancy dress party with the theme being Villians and super hero’s, there were some weird and wacky costumes, here’s a few photos, no doubt some of you will recognise some familiar faces, quite a few ex Otago Uni crew here.

Enjoy

PS I did not spend $25 on buying a suede male G-string for the party, I did not lie when buying the g-string and saying it was for someone else, and the mustache is fake 😉

 

Sizzling Sun and F**king Flies!

5 May

Howdy folks,

The Ozzie Outback, it really is a harsh environment. Especially coming from little Ol New Zealand, where all the animals are friendly (and yes Ozzies, the sheep are scared – hahaha). Overhere everything wants to eat you or inject poison into you, even the bloody sun wants to kill you.

Although this time of year it really is quite beautiful, blue skies welcome you every morning, the flies and rain have gone on holiday, where I don’t know, but they have gone and thats all that is important.  But I wrote this post a couple of months back when the flies were abundant and never got around to posting it, so I will continue to moan about them.

So in the outback, the sun is not your friend, but rather your enemy, unless you are a solar panel.  In previous posts I have told you that where I am located in Woodie Woodie, the closest town is Marble Bar which is the hottest place in Australia with the record of having 161 consecutive days over 37.8 degrees celcius! From fellow work mates you hear of the days where the temperatures get up to mid 50’s! All I know is that, its bloody hot when you turn on your COLD water tap and you burn your bloody hand with the water thats been basking in the pipes! (you only do that once)

Luckily for me I am built for the heat, some would say skinny, but I prefer the word, athletic. Working in the outback, it is always paramount that you have communication with base camp, but most importantly water! You never go anywhere without water, and all the exploration vehicles are kitted out with 50 litre emergency water tanks. Drinking water becomes a full-time job, a litre an hour is the recommended minimum, so when working a 12 hour day, thats 12 litres of water! And let me tell you, if your not working up a sweat, that can mean a lot of urinating!

The harsh sun leaves the not only the parched workers baked, but also the land, making it look like that pizza you forgot about in the oven. Just checkout these photos, I got a little artistic and carried away with these but they give a good idea of how aggressive this sun is.

 Out here in the outback your patience is tested, if things aren’t trying to kill you, they are trying to annoy you. First there is Spinifex, a plant that I have talked about before. Spinifex and facial hair would have a lot in common (well not with my facial hair, the spnifex isn’t patchy). Girls love facial hair, makes a guy look more masculine, but when its there boyfriend that has it, they generally just complain about the itchyness. Same with spinifex, it looks great in a photo, but when you have to walk in it day in and day out, with it pricking you, it fast looses its appeal.

 

And probably the most annoying thing in the outback, Australians! hahaha, just having a go.  Flies, my god, just look at the flies in the photos. At first they didn’t bother me, I thought it was mind over matter. But I have crumbled like a recovered alcoholic swallowing his mouthwash instead of spitting it. They are annoying, if you do not wear a fly net they have a tendancy to crawl into your eyes. And check out the photo i have of the cut on my leg, yes those 30 odd flies are drinking the blood from my cut like horses at a trough! Dam vermon, maybe they are hatching fly eggs and I’m going to start farting flies!

But really, I’m just complaining to be complaining, I love the outback, even those flying little flies, its a unique and beautiful place. I work in a sauna, and some people pay money to go to the sauna or pay extra to exercise in the hot with such gimmicks as “hot” yoga.  All I know is that working in the outback is paradise compared to the finger freezing Canadain winters. But I will leave you with a little video to show you how the flies are and give you a little insight into the landscape of the beautiful Pilbara Outback. 

Where do I live?

2 Apr

When people ask me where I live and I reply “Cottesloe”, they are probably thinking to themselves, ‘How does a scruffy hippy fella like him live in Cottesloe, he must just park his combi on the street there and use the public toilet facilities’.

The Norfolk Pine Lined streets of Cottesloe 5 mins walk to thise!

Cottesloeis a pretty wealthy Suburb of Perth, due to its close proximity to beautiful gold sand beaches and Norfolk pine lined streets. The house down the road from us is going for $2,000,000 to give you an idea. When Heath Ledger (famous Aussie actor) had his funeral in Perth, all the superstars were seen swimming at Cottesloe beach. In saying all that, it is not a pretentious place, its still relaxed and attracts a mixed crowd of people, especially a young crowd at the beaches and the bars.

Its so relaxed, that when I ‘m home on my week of R&R, I get out of bed, put on my boardies, walk down to the corner deli for a coffee, I don’t even bother to put on a shirt or jandals – thats how it should be. I love it, it reminds me of being in a Mexican beach town, the only difference being that I have control of my bowels, its first world, people generally understand me, I have money and they sell more than taco’s.

The postcard shot of Cottesloe Surf life saving club Main Cott Beach

So how did I end up living in Cottesloe.  I was very lucky, or unlucky, depending on how you look at it.  The mining boom has attracted thousands of people, putting extreme pressure on accommodation that has seen rent/house prices sky rocket due to the competition. 

When going to look at open home rental properties, there would be groups of people waiting outside. So the competition was steep, especially when 6 young people are competing with families. The only time I went along for an open home, I had to wait around the corner (in a 1970’s leaking Holden Kingswood), like a stinky dog being locked in the cupboard while the dinner party guests arrive – it was in the best interests of our group, as we sent our 2 most respectable members posing as a couple.

So after 2 months in Perth, we had been accepted for 2 places. Our dream house that was 2 storied, close to the beach and subway with a swimming pool that had a bar in the middle, only to have it taken from under us a couple of days before move-in due to a “family emergency”-we were even paying $650 a week rent (straight off the bat we had offered $50 more a week than they were asking).

Our palace on Kathleen St Poker in the Outside zone

But as things tend to do, it all fell into place like waking up in your own bed after a big night out. The mates place where Bugz and I had been crashing since in Perth had 2 flatmates move out, so we officially moved in last week. And it just happened to be in Cottesloe (Their parents had originally signed the lease, but have since moved up north)

Sunset at the end of the road Watching sunset with some of the crew

Its a great location, 5 mins walk to the train station that takes 15/20 mins to get to downtown Perth, or head the other direction to Fremantle. Our house is 5 mins walk to amazing golden sand beaches that see great sunsets. I can not say enough good things about the WA beaches. Its great to live in Perth, a big city, but yet have access to uncrowded beaches that rival the best in the world (for cities).

Having a Sunday afternoon coffee in Cott watching the girls………i mean day pass us by. Oz day spent beside the pool

As well as the primo location, its a primo house. It has 5 bedrooms, a pool, outside relaxing area and is big. Also for once I don’t have the gimp room, infact I would call it the pimp room. I have the 2nd storey (consists of only my room) to myself, with red carpet and even the pimping (tacky)fake zebra duvet cover that I picked up half priced (I wonder why). 

Dinners is served at Kathleen St  The zebra duvet cover adding the last touch to the room

 Oh, and also, the most important factor to any great house, is great people. No doubt a few people reading this blog will recognise a few familiar faces, made up of Waimea College and Otago Uni faces. 

Fingers cross that when the lease comes up in May, all goes well.

Why did I get out of bed today?

19 Mar

Do you ever have those days when you ask yourself that question?

 Well today was one of those days, and for that matter yesterday was as well.  Currently I’m up working, coming to the end of my 2 week swing (fly out today). For those of you that don’t know, I’m a exploration field assistant. You can see what my job involves in my next blog posting next week that will detail what I do. But anyway, back to my day. 

My “greeness” (people new to the mining game get the label as being “green”, fresh I suppose its meant to mean) has clearly come out to shine the last couple of days.  But the best way to learn is from your mistakes, ideally I would like to learn from other peoples mistakes, but I apparently haven’t cottoned onto that yet.

So why was my day “a bit of a mare”. It started yesterday with a warm-up shocker. Every morning we have a alcohol breath test, and you have to be able to blow zero’s. If you don’t blow zero’s, you can’t work that day, and 3 strikes and your out. So when I rock up to work at 5am, and “blow numbers”, I was rather shocked. Especially considering I hadn’t even had a beer the night before, but that’s a likely story. So I had to blow again in 30 minutes time. Thankfully I blew zero’s, and then it dawns on me that, I had used mouthwash and spat it out on my walk to work. Lesson learnt, gaggle at night, not in the morning before breatho’s.

That day I had to rehabilitate previous drill holes, this involves locating drill holes using GPS, then trying to make it look like no one was there.  I spent 4 hours driving around getting frustrated not being able to find the holes. I would be standing on the correct co-ordinates where there’s suppose to be a drill hole, but there would be nothing!  This gets rather frustrating after doing 25 times. I was positive there was something wrong with the GPS. As per usual the machine is never wrong, its the dickhead on the end of it! Getting back to the office I explained to the Geo’s how non of the holes existed, much to their amusement.  This is where I learnt the lesson that all the 2007 holes use a different GPS grid setting, making it 100-200 metre difference from the 2008 setting! (two pushes of a button solves the problem)  I won’t do that again – well I shouldn’t do that again.

The land that feels like no man has walked

Then today, I bounced out of bed at 4.20am when my alarm went off. Today I was going gridding which involves 4WD into the middle of the outback, where you feel so isolated that you feel like jumping around naked – except the suns so harsh that your moon would give off a Shepperd’s delight by the end of the day.

On my way out there as the sun was rising I saw a couple of camels wandering around, and I’m thinking, “this is going to be a wonderful day”. But that was short lived when I heard a hissing sound, thankfully it wasn’t a large venomous snake, but my old friend the flat tyre had come back to say “good morning Hap”. I got out the high lift jack, but 30 mins later gave up on it as it couldn’t jack the truck high enough, and in the process I managed to graze and bruise my leg as I was breaking wood to try and build the jack higher (why is it when your already frustrated, you attract more frustrating happenings).

After nearly knocking myself out and having the high jack give way, I resorted to the trusty old bottle jack. Why didn’t I use this as my first option you ask? One word, Spinifex. I was parked in spinifex as far as the eye could see. What is Spinifex? It is a plant that is everywhere up here. Imagine if gorse and an annorexit flax plant had sex, you would get spinifex. So I cursingly lay down on the spinifex to push the jack under the axle, whilst I got an Aboriginal acupuncture!

Finally I arrive at the co-ordinates where I was to start my gridding, which involves walking a couple of Kilometres in one direction, marking out spots every 100 metres.  You have to understand that the terrain is great snake terrain and the area is home to quite a few deadly snakes. Although people say, “don’t worry about snakes, they know your there before you see them, they will be long gone”. Well I’m not worried about those snakes, I’m worried about the snake that’s had a big night on the blood and is feeling a bit hungover, is having a sleep in, and then wakes up real angry and ready to inject venom into the innocent kiwi fella who has just woken him up. That’s what I’m worried about!

Gridding, playing Hansel and Grettel

Anyone that has spent time around me or worked with me, will know that I have inherited my mothers jumpiness. As per usual, my workmates have taken full advantage of this to keep themselves amused and pass the long days. They have even gone to the trouble of bringing up a rubber snake, and not too mention that on a daily basis bugs are caught and strategically placed under objects on my desk that I will pick up.  So you can imagine what my nerves are like.

 So when walking by myself in the middle of the outback on land that feels like no man has ever walked on before, and knowing that this area is home to deadly snakes, and that last week someone was bitten by a snake, and the fact that you have a limited time frame if bitten and venom injected and I’m over 40 mins from the camp, and up to 3 km away from my vehicle, anyway (I have SAT phones, GPS etc). So I’m on pretty high alert, so much so that I jump when I fart!

So picture me walking through the outback, minding my own business, concentrating on the handheld computer screen. Then out of nowhere, the bushy tree 5 metres from me erupts in bashing snapping explosion of sticks! A bloody Kangaroo! I don’t know who jumped higher, me or the Kangaroo. We both took off in opposite directions.

10 mins later, the glaring sun comes out. I reach to get my sun glasses out of my pocket, but no sunglasses. They must have fallen out when I had the jumping competition with the Kangaroo. Trying to find something that small in this vast expanse of nothing is like trying to find romance in a brothel, so I just keep walking.

Dam Skippy

As I go to start the next 2.2km line of grids back to the direction of the ute, the batteries die on the GPS (and yes they were fully charged)! Wicked, no GPS. Talk about frustrating, that means I have to walk all the way back to the ute, along the line I would of been gridding if I had had GPS. So tomorrow I’m going to have to walk the same line and grid it. People that know my sense of direction realise that I was probably born feet first. So it was lucky for me that unlike Hansen and Grettel I used marker ribbon and not bread to mark my trail so I know the direction I came from – yes something worked in my favor.

 As I start my trek back, I go to take a sip from my camelback, but its empty! It appears that what I mistook for me having a “heavy” sweat day, appears to be my camel back leaking. Great. This may not sound too bad, but considering its so hot (in the 40’s), and we have to drink a litre an hour (that’s 12 litres a day – hydrating becomes a full-time job), and I have over 2 km to walk back to the car, makes it all the more annoying.

Add to this array of misfortunes, a shit load of flies. Now usually flies I can handle, and the sunblock I use has insect repellent on it that keeps them from landing on your face, or you can wear a fly net. Well today I didn’t have a fly net, and today the flies seemed to find my sunblock a delicacy. And when I say flies, I mean not a couple, but literally hundreds (check out the photo below of me looking down my arm, thats only one arm and you can count 90 flies, the backs even worse). I feel like one of those little African kids off the Red Cross commercials “sponsor poor little malnourished Happa for just a dollar a day”, god knows I’m skinny enough – note to self, look into the getting a dollar a day sponsor for myself.

Looking down my arm at my little friends that are keeping me company.

So as I walk back in the mid 40’s heat with the sun blazing in my naked eyes, no water, no GPS, flies keeping me company, jumping at the movement of a grasshopper (they are bloody big grasshoppers out here), looking back over the misHAPs of the morning I think to myself, “Why did I get out of bed today?“.

Once again, to the amusement of my co-workers I fill them in on my morning. Then after lunch with the morning in the past, I set out with my new found knowledge of yesterday to rehab the holes that I had used the wrong setting for. My first GPS co-ordinate points me in the direction of one of the mine pits. I do my call up on the radio before entering, following all the correct procedures and then proceed into the mining area following the arrow of my GPS.

Next thing I know, there’s a car flying towards me. I stop as this person looks like they have an emergency. The car pulls up beside me, the guy barks “what are you doing?”, “Hey mate, I’m trying to find a hole to rehab”, “Isn’t your radio working?”, “yeah mate, volumes up, right channel”, “Well you need to check it, as we’re just about to blow this area up, we’re blasting it in a couple of minutes!”. I can imagine all the blast crew standing around waiting for the blast, and this truck pulls in driving around on the blast site oblivious to the fact in a couple of minutes its getting blown up!

So having to wait 20 minutes for the blasting to take place, I thought I would go over to the rig where they are drilling and see if they need a hand sampling.  I approach  the drill rig, and after nearly being blown up, I’m on full safety alert, and go to give the drill rig a wide berth (we have stay clear by 25 metres), so I follow some fresh tracks going off the road through some bush going around the rig.

As I approach the Geo, he’s pointing down at my tyre and laughing. I don’t take him seriously, as he is the practical jokes man (I am a god send for him), he’s the one that brought the rubber snake up especially for me.  I just think he’s having me on as I had told him about my morning. He’s laughing and saying “you’ve got another flat, hahahaha”. “what ever”. As he comes around to the drivers side, he erupts into further fits of laughter, bordering on an asthmatic attack, “you have two flatties!”. Yep, sure enough, I get out, and I have two flat tyres! 

So I have to borrow his spare tyre, as I only had one left. As I’m changing the tyre -I had learnt from my mornings mistakes, stayed clear of spinifex, and used the bottle jack straight away- the driller comes over. He says “you followed those tracks there didn’t you, hahaha. I made those last night in the rig truck and got a flat tyre as well, haha, yeah those burnt brittle little twiggy trees look weak, but have real strong sharp roots”. Lesson learnt again, don’t judge a tree by its cover, or maybe its ‘sticks and stones will break my bones, and puncture the hell out of my tyres’!

I get back to camp, 5pm signals the end of my 12 hour ordeal (day of work). I don’t even contemplate going to the gym or going for a swim in fear of dropping a weight on myself or drowning. I go straight to the wet mess (bar). And guess whose shouting the beers, the guy that got 3 flat tyres in one day!

And I sit there with a smile on my face having a laugh, thinking ‘Why did I get out of bed today?’

Where am I working?

27 Feb

So where am I now? I’m currently working at Woodie Woodie Manganese Mine as an Exploration Field Assistant. Woodie Woodie is located in the middle of bloody nowhere! Its located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, 400km South East of Port Hedland. The closest town is Marble Bar (check out map below), with a population of roughly 300 and is famous for being the hottest recorded place in Australia, with 161 consecutive days over 37.6 degrees Celsius! 

I’m on a 2:1 roster meaning I spend 2 weeks out at Woodie Woodie, and 1 week of R&R in Perth, and guess what today is. The day I fly back for my week of R&R, woop woop. So catch you’ll later and stay posted here and I will go into more detail of what I’m doing here, where I’m living, camp life etc.

Map of Western Australia