Monday, May 28, 2007

Moo, Canberra, Coast

Groovin' the Moo exceeded my expectations. Although we didn't arrive til it grew dark, we didn't miss much in my opinion. On arrival we listened to some great rapping by an all female DJ group at the King Street Hotel tent, then it was off to The Presets (very, very cool music), where the crowd was heaps hyped up. Heccas! It was all young people at the venue, almost everyone was under 25 and the energy was crazy. Sneaky Sound System played in the then extremely packed King Street Tent - I couldn't move, literally. And it was so hot, I felt I was almost going to faint. Luckily that didn't happen and again, a very outstanding performance, melding right into Silverchair playing on the stage outside. At that point I was very tired, covered in sweat, my clothes soaked, so I didn't mosh (not that I would've anyway), but it was so special to see this iconic Novocastrian band live and in person. About 7,000 attended the concert, which isn't heaps compared to some, and thus I was able to get close to the artists.

On Mother's Day I ventured up to Tea Gardens, near Nelson's Bay in the Port Stephens area, to visit my host-grandmother, and we did a bit of 4WDing on the sand dunes in Daisy Daihatsu, the little red Japanese late-1970s 4WD my host family keeps up on the coast. It was a very pleasant day indeed.

The weekend after my host parents took me to Canberra to see the Nationa's Capital, and it was a very cool weekend. The temperature change in Canberra was much like the autumn we get in the U.S. climate I live in there, with the leaves falling off the trees, and a little 'nip' of the wind - definitely described as COLD, at least by night. Although I had heard that Canberra is b-o-r-i-n-g, after spending a weekend there, I find quite the opposite. Sure, it doesn't have the vibe of Sydney, but then again Canberra is under 350,000 people large, and I think it does very well on the food, entertainment, city vibe spectrum. People are out on the weekends - a good thing, and there is of course a lot of money in the city, it being an international government centre of Australia. Its a planned city, literally, with symmetry in large amounts, great roads, and a neat collection of embassies near the new Parliament house, the icon of Canberra.

We took a tour of the new Parliament house, went to the Australian War Memorial (a very large and interesting centre), Telstra Tower, and the National Museum of Australia, cataloguing Australian culture (as well as indigenous culture) in a very impressive and large, somewhat interactive museum. If it was on America, I would have been horrendously bored and perhaps physically ill from the patriotism, but since it was very well presented, and I still am quite a keen learner on Australia, enjoyable it was.

Then on Tuesday I went to the Sydney CBD to do a bit of shopping - pretty unexciting. But my friend from the Phillipines who was on exchange in my district in the States is coming to Sydney tomorrow to visit her uncle for a few months, and I'm looking forward to catching up with her soon!

Finally, this weekend was spent at the holiday house in Hawk's Nest (near Tea Gardens, which is near Nelson's Bay). We were blessed with some gorgeous weather; not unbearably hot, not cold, with a nice refreshing breeze checking the cloud free sky and white hot sun. I can describe this so vividly because I spent the majority of the weekend on the beach fishing. And I caught....wait for fish. Uno. YER! About two seconds after I caught it I threw it back in the water and that was that. Luckily my host dad had way more luck, bringing in about 12 brim and one big flathead whilst he was spearfishing/snorkeling. With the batteries recharged, I am home today and trying to get my life together to tackle the finale of my Australian adventure. On Saturday the big trip begins, rise and shine 7:15 a.m. departure (!). Then my parents get here, do their thing, which I must help organise pretty much in the next 96 hours, they leave, I have like 6 days after that to say my goodbyes and cry. On 7/7/07, the LiveEarth concert is being held (check it out, and I'm out on the 9th. How incredibly sad it all is. This Thursday is my last day of school.

I need to get some warm clothes and walking shoes to take on the trip. Random.

This concludes my blog entry for today.


Monday, May 07, 2007

Easter Holidays, Hunting, and Two Months Left!

Easter Holidays were fairly quiet for me. My birthday turned out to be very mundane, but on Easter Sunday I went to visit my host auntie with my host mum in the Hunter Valley, and we went to Wollombi, a quaint, historic town nestled in a foggy valley - very green. So it turned out to be very relaxing and we had a few good laughs as well (as we always do).

But other than that, with my host brother gone, things became a bit depressing. My grandmother passed away, which didn't help me dealing with a lot of other things at the same time, including my sudden inclination to plan what I'd like to do after exchange (university, working, and much thinking about the dirty phrase "going home").

Although it was very quiet for a while, the day Jade came back from JP we went to the Morisset Rodeo for a good time - I had the Akubra in tow.

I moved in with my new host family, the McCormacks, the next day, just to the next suburb, and things are going very well. We have a trip to Canberra (Australia's equiv of Washington, D.C.) planned, and we've been pretty busy.

The weekend of the 28 and 29 of April I did something I've been wanting to do for a very, very long time. Kill something. Okay, that sounds very morbid and actually quite scary in relation to the state of my mental health. So I'll put it this way - go hunting for animals. I went to Werris Creek, near Tamworth, northwest of Newcastle (about a 3-4 hour drive) and had an awesome time. I've never been more dirty in my life really. We couldn't go shooting on the Friday night because it was raining (heaps of good rain for the region, but bad for our little hunting holiday). Early the next morning we had a roo rather quickly, and the boys felt they needed to initiate me, so as the cut the animal open and the rear hind off, Mitch wiped the bloodied leg on my. Absolutely appalled, I just stood there staring at the warm blood and fur on my sleeve. And he chased me around with it, attempting to put it in my face when I ran to a tree, and just as I was about to hide I felt the leg, flesh side first, hit me in my lower back (Mitch had thrown it over his head) and I was knocked to the ground! Once something like that happens, you just give up on any hope of being "clean" and roll with it - which is exactly what I did.

Spotlighting that night I got myself a roo - I think. Mitch was by the 4WD and I had gone out into the bus about 100 yards away to get this roo, I lined up the shot, saw Mitch load his weapon, and we both fired at EXACTLY the same time, so it really is a mystery who hit it. Nonetheless, I claimed it, and it was added to the list totalling (and I'm just guessing here) 10+ roos for the weekend. Before anyone who loves animals reads this, the kangaroo is a pest in most of Australia, over-populated and very bad for farms like this. As are the rabbits. And I'm just going to say foxes as well because we shot some of those too. I don't take vast amounts of pleasure out of killing animals, especially little joeys we find in the pouches after we shoot the mum, it is purely sport and management of a pest.

This past weekend I went to Nelson Bay on Saturday to hang out with Nic and Kristian, and we were blessed with beautiful warm weather (which is still sticking around; I'll go to the beach tomorrow for sure!). The next morning was the Fernleigh Track Challenge at Whitebridge (very near my school), a Rotary of Charlestown event demonstrating small electric vehicles. It was great to see some of the efforts, and it was another beautiful day.

Dance lessons are going well, by the way.

That just about sums up the past few weeks. Of course, every day is special, and I learn to appreciate each as time goes on and I realise how little time I have left. 17 days of school left today, for instance. I have nearly all the rest of my weekend in Australia fully booked out. We're planning farewell parties. It angers everyone when the subject of going home is brought up; how yes, we can stay in contact, but no, it won't be the same, and will we really visit each other as often as we can, even though we live all over the world? Thoughts of regret, and 'what I could've done differently' have crossed my mind so many times. But these are not happy thoughts, so I must just stay positive.

There is heaps going on in the next two months to make my exit very exciting. This weekend is the much anticipated concert in Maitland, Groovin' the Moo, featuring arguably the two biggest bands in Australia, Newcastle's own SilverChair and the very catchy electronic Sneaky Sound System - which has became a definite favourite of mine. It should be awesome, and everyone and their mother seems to have tickets!

The next weekend is Canberra, and the weekend after that perhaps a holiday up the coast, then the big trip for the month of June, followed by a plethora of parties to drag out the whole good-bye thing (that's the best way to do it), and then I'm out on the 9th. Oh and my parents are flying in somewhere in that time and I must also entertain them whilst they're in Newie and Sydney, which should be very weird, because they fly back on the 3rd and I six days its a really BIG HELLO oh my God look how much you've changed from them, then a good-bye see you in a week, then a hello welcome home, we're still unpacking too from them. And then I battle depression.

Pictures laterz. Ciao.