So this is slightly out of date but I really haven’t felt the ‘writing thing’ lately and I didn’t want to write a half assed post.
About 3 weeks ago we had a long weekend and I decided that enough was enough and I HAD to get out of Sydney. I had Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday off work so it was the perfect timing to go away somewhere for the weekend, the only problem was that no one wanted to go with me. Not that it is actually a problem to go somewhere by myself. I am used to it now. I figure, why regret not doing something that you really wanted to do just because you have to do it alone. I would never do anything if I just waited for other people to join me. But that is getting off topic.
So it was a long weekend and I decided that I wanted to go camping with or without other people. I spent about a week searching for places but it turns out that Australia is a lot like Canada in it’s hugeness and need-a-carness. It was virtually impossible to go real camping without a car, so I decided on going to Port Stephens, an area north-east (I think) of Newcastle, and ‘camp’ at a backpackers hostel. You might be asking, why didn’t I just stay in the actual backpackers, but where is the fun in that? I enjoyed having the fake sense of solitude.
Friday morning came and I went to Central Station to catch the bus up to Port Stephens and I immediately knew that it was going to be an interesting weekend when I saw the variety of people heading up for the weekend. There were the usual backpacker types but also a few pensioners and couples as well. I got on the bus an regretted my choice in seat when it seems that I picked the seat behind 2 people who had never been on a coach before, they couldn’t figure out how to work the reclining button of their seats and proceeded to move it back and forward for a good 30 minutes. I can tell you how much fun that was to sit behind. To be fair, I was actually more focused on picking my players for our Fantasy Hockey pool, I was potentially leaving the internet for 3 days and I needed to cement my picks before I went out of range. Looking back on it now, I am regretting having just rushed some of those picks.
After a 3 hour bus ride we reached Port Stephens, and one of the first things that you see when you leave the highway is these HUGE sand dunes. I mean HUGE!
But more on them later. I got dropped off at the Port Stephens bus depot and had to catch a smaller shuttle bus to take me to the hostel. There were two guys on the same bus so the traveler in me started talking to them and it turns out that they were also going to Melaleuca (www.melaleucabackpackers.com.au) for the weekend. We got checked into the hostel, the boys went to their dorm room and I went to go set up my tent. The hostel’s grounds have a lot of wildlife running around, including possums and a friendly kangaroo. The kangaroo apparently likes to nibble on tents, I learned the hard way.
The boys came to find me to see if I wanted to ride into town with them to pick up some supplies for the next few days. When we left the hostel at about 6pm it was still relatively light out but by the time we made it to Anna Bay and picked up food and booze it was pitch black and there is a surprising lack of street lights on the roads out there. After the most terrifying bike ride of my entire life we made it back to the hostel and began to prepare dinner. The boys decided to barbecue chicken (which turns out was a really dumb idea because it took forever to cook), where I opted for the safer and quicker option of pasta. It turns out that this was a good choice because while cooking I made friends with another girl who was at the hostel by herself and she became part of our little gang. Throughout the night more people came into the lounge/kitchen area where we were hanging out, including a group of guys wearing Seattle Mariners jackets and hats. I thought it was a little strange that a whole group of people were wearing merchandise from an American baseball team. Being a little bit tipsy I yelled out, “You guys aren’t from Seattle. What’s the deal with the caps and jackets?”, to which I received an answer of they were on a baseball team whose name was the Mariners and they were up in Port Stephens for a tournament.
Apparently baseball has a small following in Australia….who knew? They seemed to be impressed with my circa 1993 baseball knowledge and they joined the ever growing crew of drinkers on the back deck of the kitchen. There was a guy from Regina playing on the team so we started our whole “Canada” conversation and fielded many “Regina sounds like vagina” jokes from the others. In his infinite Canadianness, he pulled out a bottle of Crown Royal complete with the purple pouch. For any Canadians reading this you know what I mean and I mention it because it’s important later. The drinking continued until about 4 am when the ball guys remembered that they had about 12 hours of baseball to play the next day and should probably try and get some sleep.
The next day while fighting off a monster hangover, Amelie (the girl from the kitchen) and I decided to go sandboarding on the massive dunes outside town. Who can think of a better way to fight off a hangover than sliding up and down sandy hills under a scalding hot sun? The dehydration and the sunburn were totally worth it! It was so much fun. You sit on a snowboard shaped piece of plastic and slide down a sand dune, it’s not really the most involved activity but it’s a lot of fun. After a while of boarding a group of guys approached us, the guy in the lead came up to me and said, “You are Canadian?!” in a distinctly Canadian accent. I asked him how he knew because I had never spoken to him or seen him before for that matter. His answer is hilariously Canadian, he was in the hostel kitchen and recognised “the purple pouch” that the Crown Royal bottle is kept in. Canadians are wonderful….I might be biased.
After a few hours of sandboarding we had had enough of the sun and went back to the hostel for a chill out and dinner. I made myself a promise that I wasn’t going to drink that night which promptly went out the window when the ball team showed up with the BIGGEST bottle of Jack Daniels I have ever laid eyes on. Again this lead to another night of drinking until 4am.
We promised ourselves an actual chilled out at the beach the next day and in typical beachy fashion, the air was scorching but the water was f**king freezing. On Sunday night we had made plans to have a huge ‘family’ dinner before we all went our separate ways. Everyone was preparing a different course and the end result was a 4 course meal, complete with cheese, spaghetti carbonara, salad, and crepes. Then of course the baseball team returned and this lead to another 4am drinking session. What, I was on holiday. Don’t judge me.
This is one of the reasons I love hostels, you find that right group of people at the right time and you have a weekend to remember forever.