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Self-portrait at Sydney Opera House. One of my faves so far....

Firstly, apologies with no contact, some of you seem to have noticed! Internet access is a bit more rare here (well, in cafes at least).
This diary entry was written up without seeing previous entries so if it overlaps.......ooops......

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Welcome to the land of kangaroos, big deserts (not desserts mind you!), and the infamous Barbie (of the meat-eating kind :). You guessed it, we're in Australia.

For me, my fourth continent to visit, who'd have thought. Amazingly enough, in my boredom on the plane on my way over, I think this could be my 27th country to visit also which I'm pretty astounded at - that averages one a year for my life. I'm pretty lucky to have had the opportunities in my life to see first-hand so many different cultures. It's definitely something that defines my life so far!

So, how's it been so far? Well, as you can see, I've been a little quiet on the blog/diary front. This is in no way due to my dis-interest (thankfully, considering how many inquisitive emails I've received wondering about "their update" :), but due to one of those funny ironies. I'm after flying from Asia, and having been through some of the poorer countries of that region of the world. Here, internet access is EVERYWHERE, there's almost as many internet cafes as there is news-agents, it's pretty crazy. But now, after arriving back in a rich Western society, I'm surrounded by, well, cafés and not a whole lot else. I'm starting to wonder, does anyone actually work over here? as you can now guess, I'm struggling to find internet - who'd have thought, eh?

besides that boring waffle, we've been down to see the Sydney Opera House. It is as described, the first time you see it for sunset is spectacular. Amazing formations with it's three large arcs sillouhetted against a glorious orange sun is one of those memories that no-one really forgets. you don't even feel bad joining in with everyone else taking several dozen photos as it is one of those standard photos to keep in the collection!
Other than that, well, I've been joining in with Sydney's most popular activity (from initial observations): jogging! Yep, I dragged my sluggish self out to stroll/jog/run (depending on your opinion of fitness level) along the seashore alongside the dozens of other runners. I doubt there's many other places in the world where there can be over a hundred people out running at 7:30am on a Sunday morning?

Other than that, myself and Sean have been doing our typical city test (i.e. coffee shops) and having fun buying cars and equipment. The car was easy as it turned out - bought from some Brits in a rush to sell (they were flying out the evening we bought it from them). One of them was also pretty drunk which also helped the negotiations ;) Now, I'm in ownership of two cars (anyone want a Gti? ;), and 14-year-old Ford Falcon*. 4 litres of Detroit muscle stuck into a station wagon. I'm sure there's going to be some stories about this workhorse. We estimate it's been around Australia at least twice in it's life, but it's in great condition so we'll see how we get on......stay tuned!
The difficult part has been getting power for cameras/phones/etc. into the car. I know boring stuff, but since we'll be living out of this lump of metal for the next three months, this will be pretty important! Two weeks in, still no luck.......

After arranging some tents, stoves, however we were ready to roll after 4 days in the city. With no map in hand, our destination was the Blue Mountains, the 'local' crag for Sydney, and only three hours drive. Two hours after leaving our hostel, we were still in Sydney (we're three blokes, two manly to ask for directions ;), but still having fun. Sydney is so chilled out, I can't believe they've got so many complaints about traffic over here. Maybe they should all be sent to Ireland, that would sort them out!

Anyway, 4 hours later, arrival in Katoomba - the capital of sports climbing in Australia. My arms are already feeling weak......



* yes, my eco-friendly side is feeling very very guilty about driving a 4-litre automatic around Australia. Still though, for the money and the period of time (3 months) I'll have it, it'll be an experience, and you can't shy away from everything! It's the traditional backpackers car here also, so at least I'll be able to tick that off the list of things to do in my life :) On the note of cars, I'm amazed to see so many European-manufactured cars here also!

p.s. I'm writing Oz from now on. Australia is too big a word to write everytime ;)