Days M146-149: The Road To Nauru

Mon 20.02.12 – Thursday 23.02.12: Monday morning and I arrived in Sydney bright and early. After picking up a $1 coffee from 7/11 (I live off this stuff when I’m in Oz) I headed over to Summer Hill to see Benython (my agent) and talk shop. I’ve been a bit cagey about talking about the prospect of a second series of Graham’s World on this blog as there’s been a load of not very interesting behind-the-scenes shenanigans going on, chief amongst which is the closure of Lonely Planet TV in Australia (they what produced Series 1) and its relocation to San Francisco. The upshot of which is that we’re now dealing with a whole new bunch of people, all of whom need persuading that another series of my drunken misadventures in countries nobody has ever heard of is exactly what The Doctor ordered. Tomorrow we should…

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Days M138-145: The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time

Sun 12.02.12 – Sun 19.02.12: After a spot of brekkie at Mandy’s mum’s gaff in Ballarat, Mand and I returned to Melbourne and caught up on the BBC’s Sherlock (more about that in a moment). Monday morning chores included taking my video camera to the fix-it shop to get the screen sorted and then going to Bunnings Warehouse (Australia’s B&Q) to buy stuff to decorate Mand’s old office, a job I’ve been roped into do in return for all the awesome stuff Mand sorted out for me over the last few days. That took up most of Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by the Peacock Pub Quiz with our old friend Hayden. We came third (as always) but then my team is banned (by me) from cheating. Thursday involved wrapping up at Mand’s old office and finding somewhere that could do a date recovery job on my…

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Days M134-137: Taking Over The Asylum

Wed 08.02.12 – Sat 11.02.12: The bus arrived in Melbourne at 6.30am, so I got to surprise Mandy before work with my presence. For Mandy’s sake I tried not to go on too much about how awesome the cruise was, but it was pretty goddamn awesome. What’s even more awesome is that as a surprise for my birthday at the end of the month, Mand has bought us both tickets to go see Tim Minchin vs. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra tonight. My timing couldn’t have been better. After watching the show I was inspired to write to Tim asking him to write me a song. I (typically) got no response, but here’s the gist of what I wrote… Dear Tim, How’s it going? I’m Graham Hughes, professional adventurer, TV presenter, Guinness World Record holder and general pain in the arse. I’m this fella >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Hughes and, as…

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Days M132-133: Under The Bridge

Mon 06.02.12 – Tue 07.02.12: As dawn broke over the eastern horizon, the Sea Princess eased herself under the Sydney Harbour bridge, bringing to a close the mini adventure I’ve been on since I last passed under the bridge on P&O’s Pacific Pearl. I had stayed up all night with Joseph, Joey, Richard, Sarah, Jacinta, Rachael, Niki, Andrea and Angiee and my fatigue was starting to show. I did the customs thing and then returned to my cabin, only then remembering that I hadn’t even started packing. I was met off the ship by David Jones, the head honcho at Carnival here in Sydney, as well as a Channel 7 news team. After a quick bleary-eyed interview David took me to the Carnival head office where I was scheduled to conduct a short talk with the staff about my travels. Condensing three years of travel into…

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Days M129-131: Three Sheets To The Wind

Fri 03.02.12 – Sun 05.02.12: Friday took us around the Southern Cape of South Island and along the majestic Fjords of the incorrectly-spelt Fiordland National Park. As part of the deal for the free cruise, I had offered to do a talk about my travels for the delight of my fellow passengers. The talk went down quite well, and I was buoyed by the presence of my new buddies onboard, the Young Guns. You see, there were not many 32 year olds on board the Sea Princess. In fact there was only one. I know that cos I met him. So the options consisted of hanging out with people old enough to be my grandparents or with people barely old enough to buy cigarettes. Of course, I balanced this out rather well, managing to get myself adopted by the grannies during the day and being the…

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Days M127-128: The Auld Alliance

Wed 01.02.12-Thu 02.02.12: Christchurch is not somewhere for holidaying at the moment, and since the major earthquake last year, cruise ships have been calling at the place down the road, Akaroa. What’s interesting about Akaroa is that it was intended to be the beginning of a full-on French colony that was to encompass the whole of the South island. Could you imagine? Two New Zealands: a British north one and a French south one. Eek! Luckily for New Zealand, before the first French colonists arrived, the British had signed the Treaty of Waitangi with the Maori tribes, giving them power of attorney (or something) over both islands. Yeah, I know you think that’s a bit mean saying they were lucky not to be colonised by the French, but ten of the richest countries in the world were British colonies and ten of the poorest were French…

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Days M124-126: Taumata-whakatangihangakoauauo-tamateaturipukakapikimaunga-horonukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu

Sun 29.01.12 - Tue 31.01.12: Sunday morning and The Sea Princess arrived in the rather lovely port of Tauranga (pronounced Toe-ronga). I had a bit of a mooch, watched some watersports that were going on down on the beach and thought about climbing up the volcano, then thought better of it. The next day we ship pulled into Napier, allowing me to waste even more photons taking piccys of the rather awesome architecture. I also got to meet Bertie, Napier’s unofficial art deco ambassador and his awesome 1930s motor. That night we would be sailing past Mount Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, one of the longest place names in the world. I managed to get the Maori barmaid of the local Irish boozer to read it out for me, but I wouldn’t stand a chance. It means... “The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the…

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Day M123: The Sea Princess

Sat 28.01.12: So let’s go. The ship leaves today for Australia in a roundabout kinda way. Why the hell am I going back to Australia? I hear you cry. Simple really, the only ship that goes to Nauru leaves from Brisbane next month. After the P&O cruise last November, I made a few friends in Carnival, the guys who look after Princess, P&O, Costa, Cunard and all that lot in this neck of the wood, and asked them (nicely!) if they’d let me stowaway on one of their ships to Oz from NZ. To my delight (and surprise) they said yes, so long as I did some publicity for them along the way. I HEARTILY ENDORSE THIS PRODUCT AND/OR SERVICE. As the Scarlett Lucy only goes to Nauru once a month and I had already missed the January sailing, why the hell not eh? For that…

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Days M120-122: All Good Things

Wed 25.01.12 - Fri 27.01.12: Mand was supposed to be joining me on my FREE cruise back to Australia, but she couldn’t get the time off work (I would have resigned, but hey) and so she had to fly back to Oz and leave me on my own to enjoy the luxury five-star treatment that the good folk at Carnival and Princess Cruises had lined up for me. And so, with a heavy heart, I drove Mand back to Auckland airport. We hugged. We kissed. We said goodbye, a word that we use far too often. I’m as amazed as you are that Mandy puts up with me gallivanting around the world, but the farewell was made moderately sweeter by the fact I would be seeing her again in just two weeks time. I dropped the car off and headed back to the Queen Street Backpackers…

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Day M119: Architecture’s Last Hurrah

Tue 24.01.12: Up early and it was ta-ta Wellington (I’d be returning next week sans Mandy) and yey off to Napier! Napier is a seaside town on the east coast and was rather fortunate to be destroyed by an Earthquake in 1931. When I say fortunate, I don’t mean that earthquakes are a good thing, I just mean that if it had been destroyed in 1971 they would have re-built the city using disgusting blocks of concrete that wouldn’t look out of place on a WWII battlefield. Happily, the thirties were the decade of the last great hurrah of architecture (before they decided to embarrass and frustrate the hell out of future generations by not building anything beautiful ever again), Art Deco. And so Napier is adorned with some of the finest examples of the movement this side of Miami. Yeah, I know it’s just dolled…

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