VIDEO: Graham and Mandy Down Under (2002)

Back in the heady halcyon days of 2002, I travelled to Australia to meet up with Mandy, an Aussie girl I had met 3 years earlier while backpacking around Egypt. We teamed up and took a beaten-up 1982 Holden panel van called MONTY on an epic drive across the red heart of AUSTRALIA. From MELBOURNE we drove along the GREAT OCEAN ROAD, popped into ADELAIDE to feed the koalas, visited LAKE EYRE and COOBER PEDY on the way up to ULURU (AYRE'S ROCK), THE OLGAS and KING'S CANYON. After a little, erm, car trouble we found ourselves in ALICE SPRINGS, went UFO hunting at the DEVIL'S MARBLES and swimming in the crystal clear waters of KATHERINE. Up to DARWIN to search for the mangroves and then across to KAKADU NATIONAL PARK in search of crocodiles and cave paintings. After a near-fatal collision on the way to…

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Days 988-989: WOO HOO!!!

15.09.11-16.09.11: I’ve just heard back from Martin at China Navigation (the subsidiary of Swire Shipping involved with PNG) and the good news is that there is a ship willing and able to take me from Lae in Papua New Guinea to Honiara in The Solomon Islands and back to Australia so I can FINALLY officially tick this great big silly continent off my list. The ship is called the Papuan Chief (cool name eh?) and it’ll be departing Lae around the 10th of October. Major thanks to Swire Shipping, China Navigation, Ray and Sebastian in PNG, Paul in Melbourne, Ross in Sydney and Martin in Singapore as well as kudos and kisses for Lorna and Mandy who helped out with the deal. Lorna especially so: she’s in the UK and the time difference meant she either had to stay up very late or get up very early in…

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Days 943-948: Ain’t No Fat Lady Singin’

01.08.11-06.08.11: So I’ve come to the fine city of Sydney in pursuit of a yacht captain who is looking for ADVENTURE, EXCITEMENT and REALLY WILD THINGS on the high seas. It’s also given me the opportunity to meet the most excellent Team Odyssey members Alex Zelenjak and Damian Pallett in real life instead of in electric dreams. While I’m here, I’m going to be trying to get as much exposure for my quest as possible. I’m also having meetings with publishers – a nice little advance for my forthcoming best-seller “The World Is Slightly Pear Shaped (A Drunken Stumble Through Every Country On Earth)” would seriously help me finish this crazy backpack extravaganza sometime this decade. This morning I was on Channel Nine’s Today show, which is Australia’s equivalent of GMTV – I only had five minutes, so I just blurted out everything I could think…

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Days 941-942: It’s Not Your Fault

30.07.11-31.07.11: Just enjoyed an awesome weekend volunteering for the Melbourne Open House festival. Seventy-five buildings around the city had their doors flung open to the general public... and you know I’ve got a thing for large erections.  It was great stuff (there was over 100,000 visits in just two days) and has also given me the opportunity to write yet another blog entry about architecture! YIPPEE!! I am firmly of the opinion that some kind of secret meeting took place in 1958.  Present at this meeting were representatives of every single architecture firm in the world.  Under hoods and bearing blood-dipped swords, they swore a dark oath in the flickering candlelight: to never design anything beautiful, anywhere in the world, ever again. Some of those present at that first meeting have since died, but the legacy of their macabre pact lives on in the hearts and…

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Day 724: Mandy’s Pressie from PNG

Xmas Day 2010: After a couple of hours kip I was up an’ at ’em, ready to TAKE ON THE WORLD!!! My only problem was that I had spend the few remaining dollars I had on beer last night (you WOULD NOT BELIEVE how expensive Australia has suddenly just become: we’re talking a UK fiver for HALF a pint… seriously!!). I scraped together what I had and hoped it would be enough for a taxi to the airport. I would be taking the 11.30am flight from Cairns to Melbourne. I didn’t quite have enough to pay the full fare, but my lovely taxi driver (from my fav Indian state of Kerala) let me off a couple of dollars – hell, it was Christmas day and I did spend the entire journey telling him how cool I thought his hometown was! So in the airport I changed…

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