Jun. 27th, 2008

tania: (Cats - Sawyer: OMGYEY!)
Between leaving work yesterday and getting to the 'Kung Fu Panda' session in Garden City to meet Graham, John, Tegan & co, some unexpected things happened. For instance, at one point Hammond and I found ourselves skipping through Toowong Cemetary. Joe was there too, but he wasn't skipping.

Now, this is the sort of thing that always happens when the three of us are left to our own devices. We jump in a car with no clear plan of where we're going (we had a couple of hours to kill last night) and we follow our noses until something piques our interest. This has led us to some fascinating places.

Anyway. The graveyard was fun (if a little chilly) and Joe got minor heebie-jeebies from a stone angel.

Prior to the graveyard, hanging out at Indooroopilly Shopping Centre, I started out alone and managed to pick up (one by one, Katamari style, hee) Hammond, Joe, Simon, Vicki and (sort of) Jason. When I arrived at the shopping centre I was only aware that Joe was going to be there. Hammond texted me with a hangout request and the others were pure coincidence, though their presence made more sense when Simon explained that he, Vix, Jason and co were there to see (guess what) 'Kung Fu Panda'. :D Vicki and co were confused by Hammond's switch from blond to brunet. Luckily Adders, who has made the reverse switch, wasn't there... apparently that has been blowing everyone's mind, our favourite couple switching heads and all.

I also managed to get additional items for Vicki's Present Bundle - I couldn't decide on just one thing this year. That reminds me, I'm finally going to use the gift card she gave me back in April for my birthday and get myself a free facial, woo! I kind of need one, I've had this worrying little rash just under my nose for a couple of months now. At first I thought it was just a breakout but it won't go away, and my skin is usually very good, so I really ought to do something about that. A doctor is probably better than a facial, but... I'm working up to it? ^_^

After the graveyard (this entry is a chronological mess, sorry), Joey, Hammond and I ended up in the almighty tea shop of awesome: Batavia, at Southbank, where we consumed beverages with enormous enthusiasm, and played dominos (we're pretty sure we're doing it wrong.) And as I do every time I go to Batavia, I lusted over the MahJohngg sets and their accompanying wooden boxes. I've wanted a MahJohngg set all my life! But it's hardly up there with necessary purchases, and from now until late August I need to save to cover the cave tour fees for Jenolan.

Oh! Jenolan... I must make a seperate entry on that, because I've now done my trip research and the results are MADE OF AWESOME.

Anyway, messing with the chronology once again: Later that night, hanging out in Garden City with Graham & co was great - they share our sense of humor. I love people who aren't afraid to be silly, goofy and geeky. We promised to hold a Doctor Who marathon when we get the big TV back from Joe's dad. I'm hoping to convert a couple of this mob into Tuesday nighters too, but this will probably necessitate a neutral location such as Southbank for the venue, as they all live on the south/east side.

The movie was good too. ;)
tania: (Default)
For those who've been listening to me go on about the Jenolan Caves and are thinking, "Whu?" (I like to tell myself that at least a few of you have managed that level of interest), check out the official website: http://www.jenolancaves.org.au. They're a grand network of limestone caves located in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, New South Wales. To date they haven't been mapped completely; some areas are inaccessible, some dangerous, and you can bet your buttons that there are quite a few that haven't even been discovered yet.

I started researching Jenolan Caves last year for the book I'm writing... well, "writing" is a misnomer. I'm still planning, me and a hundred little index cards colluding on the couch for a stolen hour or two every weekend, or a few hurried minutes on the bus in the morning. The point is this: If I'm writing a book that features the Jenolan Caves as a primary setting, I'm going to have to do my research. There's nothing worse than reading a fantasy book with a cave setting (and you see a lot of them) where the caves are depicted unrealistically; dry and smooth and tidy. Real caves are rocky, rubble-y, damp and dank and full of bats. It's the feel for the real Jenolan I want to take away from my four-point-five day trip.

So the other day, using the website's cave tours timetable as a guide, I drew up an itinery that allows me to experience every currently-operating cave tour at Jenolan. There are two exceptions: one of the Adventure Tours which only operates at a time of the month when I simply won't be around, the Ribbon Cave tour, which overlaps the Aladdin Cave adventure tour on Sunday (and neither of those can be done on any other day, so I had to choose), and the Jubilee Cave tour, for which there are no available times on the website. I have to call ahead about that one, hopefully there'll be a tour planned at a time I can squeeze in.

I'm also going to miss out on the Wyburds Cave tour, which is a six-hour bushwalk that encompasses three caves, but is available for group bookings only.

The following are the caves I will be exploring. Starred entries are the 'adventure' caves. 'Adventure' translates to 'crawling around in the muck in overalls, knee pads and a hard hat and doing a lot of rope-assisted climbing and abseiling' which will - and I say this without the slightest trace of irony - make me happier than a pig in mud. It will also make me muddier than a pig in mud.

Tuesday night: Arrive in the mountains, crash with the generous [livejournal.com profile] rhianimated.

Wednesday: Bus to Jenolan, check in to backpacker's. Chifley Cave, Lucas Cave, Nettle Cave, Devil's Coach House, plus exploring the surrounding area alone.

Thursday: Orient Cave, Plughole descent*.

Friday: Explore more of the surrounding area alone, River Cave, Temple of Baal.

Saturday: Pool of Cerberus, Imperial Cave, Diamond Cave, night-time "Myths, Legends & Ghosts" tour.

Sunday: Aladdin tour*, fly home.

Some of those days look a bit unbalanced, but the adventure tours run for two to three hours each, whereas the ordinary cave tours only run for one to two hours. I've got all the start and end times in here, and have left time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I've also identified where I am to stay and where I can get food at different times of the day, which transport to take from the Sydney city to the mountains and back again, and how much the tours / accomodation / transport will cost. The upshot is that I need to save a minimum of $650 and a maximum (safer) of $800 by August 27th, so in just under two months. The good news is that I have no less than FIVE paydays between now and then, and I've been managing to set aside $200 per pay easily to take off my credit card, so saving the amount won't be a problem.

I shudder to think how much more expensive it'd be if I had to pay for my flights. Bless you, work... blerk. ;)

I'll be staying alone at the backpacker's hostel at Jenolan, as this proved less expensive than staying with a nearby friend and taking the tour bus in daily. The website states that Telstra mobiles get reception at Jenolan, so I assume that my Optus mobile will not. I'll be out of touch for those few days, but that'll help me focus.

The countdown begins!

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Tania Walker

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