Keep the eyes on the river

Posted: March 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

Keep the eyes on the river.

After a year of doing the hedonists route around Australia and the obligatory backpacker trip to Asia I’ve finally semi-settled down, got a job and thought DANG I’d really like to give something back now (this thought had occurred to me lots before, but I was too busy doing things like drinking whiskey out of a shoe to actually be productive).

So I found a project called the River Guardians Dolphin Watch. This project in Perth WA is pretty amazing because it is so inclusive of the community.

Basically what I and the other members do is: whenever you happen to be hanging out by the river, just keep your eyes out for some of the river dolphins that call the Swan river home. If you see a dolphin you track for how long, what their behaviour is, what part of the river etc. then report your findings to Dolphin Watch via the magic of the internet.

By tracking this information the guys who are running this scheme are hoping to better understand the river dolphins, to monitor if they/when they are being affected by certain environmental factors and spread public awareness of maintaining the beautiful Swan Riverpark.

Here’s the link if you want to check it out

There are already 600 of us Dolphin Watchers in Perth. How cool is that? On the first training day, I went along thinking that perhaps there may be a group of 10, watching a slide show presentation on dolphins.

Well there was about 200 people at the actual event, with 3 different marine biologist who run the project giving very informative talk. That so many people in the community want to be involved, well I think that’s just great. And it shows that all that talk of ”no one caring about the environment and animals and blah blah blah” – well that’s not true.

If we are going to maintain our natural ecosystems then Dolphin Watch has got it right- make it personal. Remind everyone one of their powers to make the world around them that little bit better or that little bit worse.

And of my first dolphin watching experience? It was a Monday morning and I incorporate my dolphin watching patrol into my walks to and from work, the majority of which is spent beside the banks of the Swan.

As I stumbled bleary eyed to work, I saw two cyclists pull up to the water edge, then- a fin gliding through the water and – A DOLPHIN!!!!

The three of us stood there for minutes, silently watching this lone dolphin swimming about, diving and turning and being all dolphin-y. So my attempt to do some good has started out splendidly. And another benefit which cannot be underestimated- it certainly makes those Monday morning marches to work far more enjoyable.

Well, I’ve been backpacking for over year now. Or rather I had..

I have recently been offered a writing job, which is wonderful.. absolutely wonderful but at the same time, inside me is a bit of a growing panic..


And so on and so forth.

Now, I’m really not ungrateful I am living in Perth, WA which is a really beautiful city. It’s just that I wasn’t expecting it, this stroke of good luck, and now I have a real job and it’s just so sudden.

Isn’t it funny how life goe sometimes? One second I’m happily bouncing around Australia, living in tents and chasing rabbits in the outback (this is strangely true) and now, poof, I have a real job and I have to pretend to be a real person.

So my travels are postponed for the next few months but until then, I have time to explore a new city, which is exciting in itself. And it’s true, I think, that you don’t truly get to know a place unitl you settle there for a while and actually LIVE.

And the world has thrown this opportunity in my path (thank you world!) so let’s see what happens; I’m closing the window and opening the door.

Perth updates to come- I am in the process of getting involved in some different projects in Perth, ecological projects which involve looking after river dolphins and (get this I am very excited about this) river turtles!! HAH yes!

I am also going on a tour of the Swan River which tells the story of how the Swan River was created following the Aboriginal Dreaming stories. In fact in the Nyoongar Aboriginal language the Swan River is called “Derbal Yaragan”, which means “brackish place of the turtle”.

Lot’s to see, lot’s to do and a lot more to discover in my new home -from – home.. and in the meantime  I’ll be an undercover backpacker, waiting for the next opportunity to travel on.

And to any Perth people out there, any reccommendations?

Well I’ve been gone for while and just when I got started on here! You see I was forced into taking a trip to Asia for a month over Christmas ( I know, I know the things I suffer and in silence too!) So for 4 weeks my friend Dee and I took in a few islands and a couple of countries and had a bloody fantastic time doing it.

On a slightly less envy-inducing note however both me and Dee picked up some crazy Asian-style virus and spent a week calling on death to be mercfiful and deliver us from our sweaty, hallucinatory existences. But having fully recovered I can say with restored enthusiasm that I HEART ASIA. It was my first time visiting this continent and it wont be my last either.

Here are some of my highlight from the trip:


Oh you sweet beautiful paradise islands! The Gilis are a collection of 3 islands off the coast of Bali and a large island called Lombok in Indonesia. These island are pretty tiny, Gili Trawangan where I stayed is the biggest but its only about 3kms long and 2 kms wide! Now thats what I call easy to get around.

When we got off the boat, we went straight into a local restaurant and took it all in. All along the beach there are these cool little chilled out restaurants with bamboo cabanna style seating, or squashy sunloungers where you can chill out and enjoy a fab fruit shake, a beer. or some delicious fresh food

The island is one big beach all around, white sands it was just like how I imagined it to be. There are no cars on the islands too which is pretty cool, so if you need transport there are horse and carts or else you can hire a bike.



The highlight of my stay there was definitely on the snorkelling trip, where I saw three beautful giant turtles swimming about as graceful as you can imagaine, a truly unforgettable expereince! I also saw a Sea Snake, Angelfish, Blue line Snapper and the brilliantly named Harlequins Sweetlips. The islands have corals offshore which make it great for fish-spotting.

Unfortunately the corals in the shallower waters of the beach have been destroyed, due apparently to a particularly warm El Niño, increased pollution, and some unsustainable fishing practices (apparently they used to fish with DYNAMITE. Yep.)  However the Gili Eco Trust was set up in 2000 between the dive schools and the locals (although locals had acitvely been trying to protect the coral before this). There are a lot of different projects now ongoing on Gili Trawangan to protect their reefs, and its a woman called Delphine Robbe who came there herself as a backpacker (go backpackers!) who is really the driving force behind change on the Gili’s. Here’s an interview with her what a trooper!

These guys are also working on animal rights, to do with stopping the mistreatment of the Gili horses. These poor animals apparently have very short life expectancy because of the poor quality of the well water on the island. Delphine provides free heatlh clinics for the horses, what an amazing contibution she is making to a truly amazing place.

So, at the grand-old age of twenty six (in Australian backpacker terms) I’ve become a fully fledged backpacker, creeping around snail-like carrying my home on my back… because snails carry their homes on their backs and so do backpackers…  *ahem*

Carrying on-

Over the last nine months I’ve found myself in the middle of the sweaty madness of hostels, surrounded by bags of goon (cheap Aussie wine that comes in convenient and liver damaging 5 litre boxes), to the quiet emptiness of the Australian outback. And I’ve loved it all, sometimes retrospectively, but it has all been a real experience.

This has shown me a few things that I’ll share-

  • In the course of your travels if you find yourself unhappy somewhere, with something etc. then CHANGE IT. Don’t stay stuck somewhere you don’t like, doing something you don’t like. It is a waste of the precious time you have taken to go travelling. It may take a little time to change your situation but it can be done.
  • Don’t Panic Don’t Panic! Things and plans wont turn out like you had them in your head. Don’t panic, just try to roll with it.
  • Money- you need it, I need it, we all need it. Damn money. But, unless you are a very lucky eccentric-millionaire backpacker, chances are money will be tight. I know this sounds stupidly obvious but BUDGET. It took me far too long to do this, and ended up stuck in some places longer than I would have liked. Which leads nicely onto-
  • Prioritizing- So you cant really have a rigid plan when your backpacking, but having  a good idea of what you really want to do and see will help you manage your time and money. Think about it rationally- I have X amount of time left and I want to do this this and this- I really do believe with going with the flow and keeping an open mind, but if you really want to do something then have a loose plan of how your going to do it.
  • Use contacts- if you are going somewhere, ask around if anyone you know has a contact. It can be great when looking for jobs, or even just to hear of good places to go out, eat, hostels etc. This website (link supplied here) is fantastic for finding cool little farms, projects to work on around Australia, it’s unpaid but accommodation and food are supplied, and it’s a great chance to have a completely different type of tourist experience.  offers free accommodation all over Australia and can be handy for getting to know people too.
  • And finally like this brilliant quote goes- “Keep an open mind –
    but not so open that your brain falls out”

So for all you guys out there who love to travel- what other words of wisdom would you have to share?

Jar full of Jellyfish

Posted: November 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

I love these amazing creatures, they’re almost hypnotic to look at. Especially as there are some extremely venomous ones here in Australia they hold a bit of a fascination for me!