Hi everyone!

As part of my photography course, I have to track my development on a blog. The posts from September 2011 until January 2012 are part of a module called Project Management, for which I was required to work in a group of eight students to create an exhibition. The blog followed every step we took in order to create a successful gallery. The blog posts starting from September 2012 follow my final year on the course. I'll be documenting my research and analysis of my final year projects, as well as include notes of my Professional Practice unit - which prepares us for a range of post graduate options. Finally it also looks at a project called New Creatives, where I'll be working alongside an artists to help college students get more involved with art.

Friday, June 20, 2014

East Coast Travels - Great Barrier Reef

22nd of May

We were in Cairns from the 20th until the 24th of May and on the 22nd we had our Great Barrier Reef day trip. We got picked up from out hotel at 7.10am and went on the 1 Day Outer Barrier Reef Experience from Cairns tour. We booked through the company Reef Free and the tour company was called Reef Experience. It cost us $185 per person and it was one of the cheaper tours that saw more than one location.  It was a pretty large group, but it didn't feel busy as the boat was huge and there was a large crew.

When we first got on board we were told the water was going to be pretty "choppy"... great. I literally developed a fear of "choppy" water back at the Whitsundays and started panicking massively. The crew walked around with motion sickness tablets - just in case - and that made it even worse. We decided to get some since we didn't want to ruin our trip by being sick. It took us about an hour to reach the first reef and the water was pretty calm the whole way. There were definitely some waves, and I did get the "help I'm falling" feeling, but I freaked myself out more than I should have. It was NOTHING like at the Whitsundays. During the hour and a half we had a breakfast barbecue, a demonstration about snorkelling and diving, a photographer introduction and also a marine biology presentation.

We didn't realise this to start off with, but diving was included in our price! We thought we were only going snorkelling. We had a quick intro to diving and got in the water. I had never done any diving before and freaked out. The fact that I panicked about the "choppy" water and then going into the water wasn't the best.. I couldn't breathe! For some reason I found it incredibly difficult to breathe with the diving gear and after trying about 4 times, I really began to panic and decided it would be best to get out of the water, rather than push myself and freak out when I'm a few meters under water! Anyway, my boyfriend still went ahead and loved it! He studied Marine Environmental Science at university so he was right in his element. (photo taken by on board photographer)

Everyone was incredibly kind and helpful when I got out the water, I calmed down and decided to go snorkelling. The reef we were at, Norman Reef, is a favourite of all the crew, this is because it's a really shallow reef. Obviously the pro of diving is that you can get right up to everything, with snorkelling I got pretty close too, at some parts I really had to make sure I was completely horizontal or else I'd be kicking the reef! The photo to the left shows how shallow it was! (photo taken by on board photographer)

Some areas, however, were incredibly deep! Especially at the second reef we went to, you'd look down and all you see is blue! It was so incredible to see the coral reef, there was so much colour and so many different types of fish! We took the GoPro out with us, but unfortunately they really wash out any colour and make it blue, I think it's because the GoPro doesn't have a flash. In the photo to the right you can see a parrot fish, they are amazing rainbow coloured fish and they were everywhere.

I'm not sure how long we spent at each reef, but I think the first one was over an hour and the second one was 40 minutes? In between the first and second reef we had a delicious lunch. At our second reef we decided to take part in the Marine Biology tour. This cost $20 per person extra, but it was definitely worth it. We swam around with the marine biologist on board and she showed us the different types of species of fish and corals. She picked up a sea cucumber too and we each got to hold it. It's surprising how heavy they are when you hold them above water! The tour was about 20 minutes (I think) so we still had a bit of time to swim around.

You also had a chance to take a trip on a glass bottom boat, we skipped on that and decided to continue snorkelling instead. On our way back to Cairns we had some more snacks and had a chance to look at all the photos the photographer took. I bought three photos for $40 and received a CD full of photos of the reef which is really nice.

This was such an amazing trip, and 100% better than the one at the Whitsundays. The crew kept us entertained the whole time and at the reef we had a bit of freedom to swim around and do what we want. It was also great that we went to two different reefs rather than staying at the same one the whole time. Everything was very well organised, and even though it was a huge group of people, it didn't feel busy.

After the trip we were dropped off at our hotel at about 18.00.

This is my last East Coast blog post! Although I might still do a summery of all the places. We had such an amazing time on our East Coast travels, I'd say my favourite places were Sydney, Byron Bay, Brisbane, Fraser Island and the Great Barrier Reef. My least favourite was Port Macquarie, only because it was so small and it was really just a stop over. We travelled up the coast incredibly quick, doing it in 24 days wasn't difficult, but very very exhausting. The places we've seen were absolutely amazing and I loved everything. We tried out completely new and exciting things like a the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb and a helicopter ride around Brisbane. It was an amazing end to our stay in Australia.

We flew out of Cairns International Airport to Tokyo on the 24th of May at 13.20. We bought the tickets in the Jetstar Easter sale and only cost us $249 each. Incredibly cheap. We ended up flying over the Great Barrier Reef which was beautiful and so unexpected! What an amazing end to Australia.

East Coast Travels - Cairns

20th - 24th May

We left Townsville nice and early at 7 in the morning on our way to our final stop: Cairns. Townsville and Cairns are the only two placed we have breakfast included with our hotel, I probably had the best breakfast EVER in Townsville. It was a bittersweet moment getting on our last (ever?) Greyhound bus.

The whole journey has been so organised and easy and I definitely recommend checking out the Greyhound busses if you're thinking of going travelling. There was never any problems with luggage as they organise the bags in the bottom of the coach to where people get off. Everyone gets checked before getting on the bus, and there is a final head count at most stops to check if they're missing anyone. When we had our 4 hour stop over in Hervey Bay, the bus driver had a small space where everyone could put their luggage so they don't have to carry it around with them. The best thing about the greyhound was the free wifi. We didn't have wifi on all the buses, but when we did it was great. We didn't have wifi in many of the hotels, and if we did there was a ridiculous limit... Anyway, our last bus was really nice, a brand new 7 days old bus.

We arrived in Cairns at about 1, we had a lovely stopover somewhere along the way.  I forgot the name but it was a beautiful place. The bus driver told us to keep an eye on the time because you can easily go for a stroll and miss the bus... which has happened many times before. These were the signs for the toilets, how funny?!

We stayed in Cairns for 4 days and I didn't actually take any photos until our last evening.. oops! Cairns was a little different than we expected, for a place that has the Great Barrier Reef and the Rainforest, the town wasn't the greatest. It wasn't bad at all, but for some reason we were expecting a city so were a little disappointed when we saw how small it was.

We stayed at a place called Cairns Queens Court, it was the cheapest hotel out of everything and was less than $100 a night. It was about a 10-15 minute walk to the town centre. The hotel was nice, the room was a decent size, there was a swimming pool (which didn't look like it was really for using) laundry facilities, and breakfast was included. We honestly spent most of our time at the hotel to catch up on all our sleep and prepare for Tokyo. From our hotel we walked down to the waterfront and from there walked along the promenade towards the town centre. It's a really lovely walk especially in the evening with the sunset. The photo above is looking away from the centre and the photo to the left is towards it. Cairns is surrounded by mountains which is a beautiful sight. Especially because while we were there the clouds were so low and curved over the tops of the mountains. You can kind of see it in the photo above. Although everyday it was really cloudy, it was incredibly hot and humid. It was around 27 degrees every day and drizzled every now and then, making it super humid.

When you're reach the centre along the promenade you get to the lagoon. It's similar as in Brisbane where they've been an artificial beach. On one side it's more like a swimming pool, whereas the other side has the artificial beach. As you can see from the photo, it's right on the waterfront. There are tons of free things to do in this area, the lagoon is free to swim in, there as sports classes there is free wife, etc.

Around this area are tons of restaurants, and of course our favourite Grill'd. It's literally amazing and the thing I'll probably miss most... We had our third final Grill'd here. Our first final one was in Melbourne, our second in Brisbane and now our real final burger. The prices were a bit more expensive here than in Melbourne or Brisbane though, which was strange. If you want to go out to dinner, make sure you have an early or a late dinner, it's VERY busy at 7ish!

If you walk away from the water towards the restaurant and continue going up, you'll reach the shops. There are a couple shopping streets with random little tourist shops as well as well know brands. If you continue walking that way you'll eventually reach Cairn's Shopping Centre. It isn't massive but has a large range of shops, including a T2 store, the most amazing tea in Australia which has actually recently opened a store in London! Everybody going to Australia must stop in the T2 store since it's a very unique tea store, but also because they have tons of samples you can try. They're delicious.

Cairns also has a night market every night, it's located just off the promenade near the lagoon by the restaurants. It starts off with a food court and at the back of that is the entrance to the market. It's mainly souvenirs stalls selling everything kind of souvenir you can think of.

For three of the four days we just walked around Cairns and the shopping centre, buying any last souvenirs and enjoying our last couple days in Australia. On the 22nd we had our Great Barrier Reef trip which I'll blog about in the next post, it was incredible!

Friday, June 13, 2014

East Coast Travels - Townsville

18th - 20th May

We left Airlie Beach exactly 24 hours after arriving, on the 9.20 bus, and arrived in Townsville at half past two. We were really looking forward to Townsville as it’s got a lot of Marine Environmental things, which my boyfriend studied at Uni. However, when we arrived it was a bit different than we expected...

We arrived on Sunday afternoon and everything was dead. There was no one about, everything was closed, it all looked a bit run down... not really the best first impression. We checked into the Ibis Townsville hotel and decided to take a stroll around the town and see whether the aquarium was open. It was very strange to walk through Townsville. It looked completely abandoned! Luckily the aquarium, Reef HQ, was open - which probably had about 10 people there.

We bought two student tickets and were allowed to come back a second time for free if we wanted to. I forgot my camera so was really happy about that, the photos in this post are from our second trip! The aquarium is really nice, it has the world’s largest living coral reef inside and contains 2.5 million litres! 

We arrived at 15.15, and at 15.30 they had the Turtle Hospital talk. It was so exciting to go to the turtle hospital! They had two turtles there at the moment, usually they have more but turtles seem to be doing pretty well! They were both Green Turtles, which are the most common in Australia. The turtle we saw at the Whitsunday was a Green Turtle too! They were massive!! We were told that turtles usually stay underwater for about 45 minutes, but can stay under for up to 4 hours!

After the turtle hospital we went through the viewing tunnel. One one side the tunnel has a predator exhibit. This had another rescued turtle as well as a huge sawfish and some other sharks and fish. The other side had the coral reef exhibit. The difference between this aquarium and the one in London and Melbourne is that this was all on ground level, whereas the other were underground. This made it much easier to take photos but also looked completely different.

After the aquarium we had some dinner on Palmer Street, which is where our hotel is, but is also a great restaurant street!

The second day in Townsville we decided to go to Magnetic Island. We took the 8.45 ferry and a return cost £30. It was pretty overcast in Townsville, but on Magnetic Island it was actually really pretty! It isn't too far away on the ferry, probably about 15 minutes? We arrived in Nelly Bay and decided we wanted to walk from bay to bay... That didn't work out very well. Magnetic Island is great for walking and there are a number of amazing walks ranging from 15 minutes to 2.5 hours. However, there aren't any paths from the different bays if you want to walk along the beaches. We walked from Nelly Bay to Alma Bay and although there was a path to begin with, most of the time we had to walk alongside roads. I would definitely recommend taking the bus which I believe goes every hour. 

The beaches at Magnetic Island are very different from anything we've seen before going up the coast. It's actually a pebble beach! 

We didn't spend too long on Magnetic Island as we were a bit zombie-like. Our 12 journey followed by a day trip to Whitehaven beach and then back onto the bus to Townsville kind of caught up with us. We were exhausted. 

After a quick nap at our hotel we went back to the aquarium. The town was still pretty empty and strange to walk though, but since we were so exhausted it was nice to have a bit of peace and quiet! Overall we did quite like Townsville, we had the most amazing burrito's there, the aquarium was great and we got to see the Turtle Hospital, Magnetic Island was beautiful and we would have loved to see more of it. It was more of an in between place for us, catching up on some sleep before we head to Cairns!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

East Coast Travels - Airlie Beach & Whitsunday

17th - 18th May

We left Rainbow Beach at 15.30 and arrived in Hervey Bay at about 17.30. We had a really luxurious bus with leather seats, chargers and wifi! We only had about 4 hours in Hervey Bay before continuing on to our 12 hour journey to Airlie Beach. There is a huge amount of space between Hervey Bay and Airlie Beach, but it isn’t really a popular part of the East Coast, in fact our bus to Airlie was completely full! The bus departed at 21.10 and arrived at 9.00, and was another amazing bus with wifi and chargers! I actually did a cheeky bit of online shopping while on the bus.. oops! But that just goes to show how great the internet on board is. The bus stopped about every three hours, letting people off the stretch their legs, buy food and use the toilets. There is a toilet on board the bus, but not many people use that. Halfway through the drive, I think in Rockhampton, we changed drivers and he drove all the way to Airlie. The bus is pretty comfortable and I had no trouble sleeping. I do have a neck pillow though, without that I wouldn’t be able to sleep! The seats go really far down, but not so far that it’s annoying for the person behind you. I was very worried about sleeping through my stop, but the drivers clearly let you know where you are and while driving through the town point out where the hostels are. Nearly everyone got off the bus in Airlie Beach, I think about 3 people continued their journey.

Airlie Beach is such a nice place and I wish we stayed longer! We made a bit of a mistake when booking our hotels and didn’t realise we’d spend one night on the bus! So we only have one night in Airlie... We arrived at 9, got checked into our hotel by 9.30 and left for our Whitsunday tour at 11. Thankfully I got enough sleep on the bus! We stayed at the Whitsunday Terraces Resort in a studio apartment. It was very close to the bus station and right in the town. The room was a decent size and comfortable. The only bad thing were the ants, but they were literally the smallest ants I’d ever seen so I wasn’t too bothered. The panorama above is was the view from our room.

We managed to find a half day Whitehaven Beach tour for $99 per person. We were picked up from our hotel at 11 in a small tour bus with about 8 people. A great size for a tour! We then, however, were dropped off at a boat terminal. We started to realise that we weren’t actually going on a tour like we had in Fraser Island, but just the normal transportation between the Whitsunday Islands. When the boat arrived TONS of people got on. We first stopped at Daydream Island where we had to switch to a different boat. We didn’t have any time to see Daydream Island, but it isn’t as daydreamy as it sounds. It was a huge spa resort. We then took the boat to Hamilton Island, which is where the airport is. It also had tons of really horrible looking hotels and houses along the side of the island. The photo to the left shows a part of Hamilton Island, another part of the island had huge skyscraper hotels. We then finally made our way to Whitehaven Beach which is considered one of the jewels of the Whitsundays.

We only arrived at Whitehaven Beach at 2.15, that’s 3 hours and 15 minutes after we were picked up. The stretch between Hamiton Island and Whitehaven Beach was absolutely terrifying. The waves were so rough that it made the boat bounce up and down on the waves giving you that falling feeling. Like when you’re at the top of a roller coaster about to go down, or turbulence in an airplane, but then 1000x worse. I’m probably the least adrenaline junky in the world so I hated the feeling and was literally close to tears.

Anyway, after the 3+ hours of traveling we had just under 2 hours to relax on the beach. As we were getting off the boat I saw a wild sea turtle! It was incredible and the highlight of the trip. It looked exactly like the ones in finding nemo!!

Whitehaven Beach was nice, but I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about it. It was beautiful with super soft white sand and beautiful blue water. Something I noticed all the way back in Airlie is that the water is this stunning deep turquoise green colour. The water wasn’t too cold and was an AMAZING scrub for our feet we found out later. Unfortunately, our huge boat wasn’t the only boat visiting the beach. It was packed with tourists and didn’t seem like much of a jewel really. If we wanted to swim in the water we also had to wear stinger suits because of the jelly fish in the area, you don’t see that in the stunning photos online!

After spending less than 2 hours on the packed beach, we had another 3 hour journey back to our hotel. Instead of going around to the top of the island, we went back below the island, where the sea was even rougher. We did get a warning that the water would be “choppy” for about 8 minutes and then it would be smooth sailing. Those 8 minutes were probably the worst 8 minutes of our entire east coast travels. The boat bounced so high and the waves were even higher. I, again, was close to tears. It was horrible. Those 2 hours on Whitehaven beach were not worth it! The turtle was worth it though... Kind of.

We arrived back at our hotel after 6 and had a stroll through the town. It’s such a cute town and I wish we had another day to just spend in Airlie Beach! We left the next morning at 9.20. We had exactly 24 hours in Airlie Beach.

I think the reason I didn’t like the Whitsunday Islands and tour is because everything was different than I expected. Everything we saw was commercialised, full of tourists, and just seemed a bit like a money making machine, rather than beautiful calm nature and stunning beaches etc. Sometimes seeing photos of places online ruins the actual experience. My photos show that perfectly, I'm complaining about all the tourists and there is no one to be seen in these photos! That's just good photography... I know that the majority of the Whitsunday islands are uninhabited and there are hidden gems everywhere, but unfortunately we didn’t get to see any of that. The tour we had wasn’t much of a tour either. The boats we took seemed to be the local way of commuting between the islands, it wasn’t a specific tour. It was just all a bit disappointing, but if we hadn’t gone we would have regretted it.

Friday, June 6, 2014

East Coast Travels - Rainbow Beach & Fraser Island

14th - 16th May

We left Noosa at 13.00 on the 14th of May and arrived in Rainbow Beach at 15.30. It was a nice short bus ride with the Greyhound. We still haven’t been on any wifi busses, but at one of the stops another Greyhound with wifi stood next to us so I quickly logged onto their wifi.

We’re staying at a place called Debbie’s Place. It had an excellent rating on Booking.com and was in our budget so it was an easy choice! As soon as we came in we met Debbie and her little dog, who wears a nappy, and she was so friendly! She made us feel right at home. She walked us to our room and told us we got a bit of an upgrade.... We walked in and had a 3 bedroom place and a huge lounge! At first we thought we were sharing the place or something because our bedroom was a Kingsize room which was already an upgrade, but we noticed the bedroom door didn’t have a lock so we asked Debbie about it and it was all ours! Crazy!

The first evening in Rainbow Beach wasn’t what we expected. It was absolutely pouring, I haven’t seen this much rain the whole time we were in Australia, it sounded like you’re standing under a shower! We stayed in that evening and had a bit of a rest before our Fraser Island day trip!

We booked a nature tour of Fraser Island, which cost $165 per person. It was one of the cheaper tours I could find that sees the most. We got picked up from our hotel nice and early at 7.30 and drove to Inskip Point Ferry. There were about 7 people on the bus with us so it was a nice group size. The ferry was very quick and on the way we saw some dolphins in the distance! We arrived at the 75 Mile Beach. The photo to the right perfectly shows off the drive. We were driving right along the edge of the rough water. The 4 wheel drive bus started off driving over the sand before going deeper into the forest on Fraser Island. There aren’t any roads on the island so it’s a VERY bumpy ride.

After a lot of driving we stopped at a Forest Track where we had some drinks and biscuits and a quick 5-10 minute walk through the forest. It was a really nice walk through the trees and the blue skies made it even more impressive.

We continued driving for another half hour and arrived and the beautiful Lake McKenzie. This was probably my most anticipated part of our travels, I’d seen tons of photos of it - the white sand, the crystal clear water, the blue skies etc. It was just as amazing as I thought it would be. We had about an hour to spend on the lake and we swam for the whole hour. It was amazing.

We then had lunch surrounded by very hungry Kookaburra's. They actually flew down to the table and stole food off of people’s plates! We continued our drive back along the 75 Mile Beach towards the Maheno Shipwreck. 

On the way to the wreck we drove past quite a few Dingo’s! We had seen Dingo’s before in a wildlife sanctuary along the Great Ocean Road, but never seen them in the wild. They looked much more fox-like and skinnier in real life. The Dingo’s would sit right next to fishermen as though they were guard dogs. 

At this point is started raining again. Luckily by the time we arrived at the shipwreck the rain had stopped and a beautiful full rainbow appeared behind the wreck. 

From the Maheno Shipwreck we drove to the Pinnacle Coloured Sands, where we had a quick stop to walk around, and then drove back along the 75 Mile beach to Eli Creek and the ferry.

I’m really happy we got to see Fraser Island and we were very lucky with the weather, it was supposed to rain heavily all day! There really wouldn’t be any other way of discovering the Island than taking a tour since there aren’t any roads. I thought the tour was ok. We got to see a lot of the island, but we didn’t really experience much. The majority of the time we were on the bus. Our first stop was about 10 minutes at the forest track where we walked 5 minutes into the forest and 5 minutes back down, the second stop at Lake McKenzie was an hour, the shipwreck stop was about 10 minutes, I thought we’d go on a walk around the Pinnacle Coloured sands but it was all fenced off so you walked up to it and walked back down. At Eli Creek we had about 10 minutes again. It would have been nicer if there was a bit more exploring and really getting to walk around and seeing more.

We arrived back at Debbie’s Place at 4 in the afternoon and half an hour later Debbie dropped a few of us off at a HUGE sand dune. It was incredible and we watched the sunset from there. As we walked towards the beach we spotted a whale in the far distance.

The final day in Rainbow Beach we spent actually on Rainbow Beach. Rainbow Beach is known for it’s colourful cliffs so that’s were we decided to go. We until 15.30 before the Greyhound picked us up so we took it nice and slow. The black rocks in the photo are called Coffee Rocks and they aren’t proper rocks. They’re actually formed from the vegetation so they’re very soft.

I found it really strange that cars were allowed to drive on the beach, there was actually a speed limit!! I thought it was a bit dangerous...

Here are a few photos of the different coloured sand. It started off as a beautiful bright white sand and then changed into a bright orange colour. 

We finished the day off with a beautiful rainbow over Rainbow Beach and took the bus to Hervey Bay.