Kat: Los Angeles: a bright shining ray of California goodness. Over the past week we stayed in Hollywood, and while everyone we talked to told us it was awful we actually enjoyed the area. We visited Graumann’s Chinese theatre and put our hands in the concrete. I have the same hands as Bing Crosby (believe me he had small hands!) and Justin shares the same size palm as the great Michael Caine. Better put on a right proper accent for that one.
Recent Travel Adventures
The You Yangs Regional Park rises starkly out of flat farmland. It’s a massive rock formation, Flinders Peak appearing in the distance on the way from Melbourne to Geelong. The You Yangs offers some of the best peak views in Melbourne, and the hike to the top is not difficult for people with a good […]Read More ›
1000 steps and I’m at the bottom of them, along with women clad in fluorescent active wear, hikers hauling weighted training packs and dads carrying kids. The Kokoda Track Memorial Walk, popularly called the 1000 Steps, is a short but steep walk in the Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne.Read More ›
After every convention I go to, I try to put some meandering brain thoughts into words, so that everyone can partake of the wonder that is a speculative fiction convention. This year Continuum 13 was the Australian National Science Fiction Convention. Last year I’d been on the committee for Continuum, so this year was an entirely […]Read More ›
When you have to carry all your own gear, it can be really hard to figure out what camera to take on a multi-day hike. That 70-300mm lens sounded like a great idea at the time, but after four days of trekking the extra weight really adds up. I’ve just got back from a six […]Read More ›
Ever got photo envy? Why are their photos so much better than mine? Chances are, a few little tweaks could take your photos from average to amazing.Read More ›
Justin: We’re in the Grand Canyon, our last leg of the American national park circuit and it’s been an adventure for sure. This past week has thrown up some memorable moments, vistas, people, places and toilets.
The southwest USA is known for incredible rock formations made all the more interesting by variety of colours due to oxidization. Monument Valley and Grand Canyon as opposed to other national parks have a certain air of eternal stillness that captivates you deeply. You just really feel and touch the sands of time here.
Justin: Growing up I had difficulty getting to sleep, with memories of Australia’s most wanted drifting into my subconscious, playing dancing devil on my shoulder at night and keeping me up long into many nights: rigid, vigilant, the constant watchman (which also went with being the elder brother, the protector), both alert AND alarmed.
Justin: I really was taken aback at the sheer majesty of Yosemite National Park straight away, there were so many vantage points along the twisty roads that lead into Yosemite, that persuades you to pull over and snap, snap, snap photos for ages; mouth agape in wonder and awe.
Kat: In the past week we’ve been driving from LA to San Francisco. A classic route well-known among beatniks and hippies, searching for sun along the rocky cliffs of Big Sur. The roads wind around the cliffs for hours upon hours, until they disappear into the grey Californian fog, the dramatic coastline imitating the highlands of Scotland at times. Authors such as Henry Miller and John Steinbeck called this area their home. It is a writer’s paradise; the lone silver rocks forming out of the ocean, the crazed cliffs and mind-bending bridges.
Going into a camping shop is almost like going into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. There are so many gadgets it’s hard to know if you really need the James Bond belt that has a grappling hook hidden inside the buckle. Here are what I believe to be the 15 top travel accessories for backpackers, in no particular order.
There’s a common travel saying “Take half the luggage and twice the money”. Unfortunately we’re not all blessed with trust funds and mummy’s fortune. Here’s how we did it on two moderate salaries. Hopefully this will help you learn how to save money for a world trip.
With not long to go I can’t stop thinking about this amazing trip. I resigned from my job last week much to the shock of my colleagues. I’ve been around my job for a while so it seems weird that they’re going to have to hire someone else to do my job. Of course I’m irreplaceable!
Well it’s coming up on two months to go and I’ve been going mad trying to organise all the loose ends. It seems surreal that our trip is almost upon us. We’ve been planning for two years; saving 1/3 of our salaries every month in order to afford to travel for two years. The consistent feeling of brokeness is going to be replaced by the joy of flying off to Honolulu.
There are the harried umbrella characters, narrowly missing an eyeball here and a head there, walking without care towards a direction unknown. Struggling against the wind, they fight as their brollies are pulled back and they are showered with water. The remains of these broken brollies are left to die in rubbish bins, searching for a new home, a new life.
I had a post apocalyptic weekend, finishing Fallout: New Vegas and watching Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior in the space of 24 hours.
It’s obvious that the developers have drawn on Mad Max, in both the detail of the world and the relentless storylines of survival. But having played Fallout: New Vegas on hardcore mode, I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t harder. When I tell my friends I played hardcore, I want it to be an actual achievement, rather than eating a packet of Yum Yum Devilled Eggs every 20 minutes.
I visited Thailand last November on a scholarship to teach English in Thailand. With one night in Bangkok, I decided to make the most of the following morning to take some photos before travelling up to Phitsanulok. I love getting up in the early morning to walk around cities.
My church recently celebrated 150 years of being on King St, Newtown. As the resident photographer/filmmaker I was called on to do a couple of things for the day. The first was to make a video of interviews of the members, telling stories about their favourite memories of Newtown.
Lately I decided to read Ursula K Le Guin’s Earthsea series, consisting of A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore and Tehanu. I’d tried to read the books while a young teenager, but never really got into them. Now as an adult, I’m really enjoying the style of writing. I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes these books special. Certainly, they’re very well written and the world is fascinating (Earthsea is a series of islands in an archipelago).
For many years game developers have tried to create narrative driven games with multiple outcomes on a limited scale. The 1997 Blade Runner game had a possible 13 endings depending on your interactions with characters and Final Fantasy X-2’s had three alternate endings, one for perfect completion of the game. With the release of Heavy Rain, finally a company has succeeded where others have failed. With a possible 18 endings (and counting!), this is a game about the consequences of choice.
I’ve been hiding under a shell lately, trying to finish my novel The Memory of Blood. It’s currently at 68, 000 words and counting. I’ve been asked by a few people of late what my process is, how I write and put together something so big. I’m by no means an expert, as this is my first novel, but many writers find it helpful to hear from other people working on big projects. So here’s my friendly, amateur advice on novel writing.
Being my third time in NZ, I was keen to see parts of it I had not seen before. I did Milford Sound and the Routeburn tracks about nine years ago, straight out of high school (it makes me cringe to say that – almost time for a school reunion). We joined a tour group with Hiking New Zealand. One of our first walks was a short part of the Routeburn track, the hike up to Key Summit, and I was glad to see it still looked exactly the same as in 2001.
On the weekend I attended a draft swap meeting run by a dear friend of mine, Jan Cornall. Jan’s a great facilitator, she’s led a number of wonderful authors from first concept to publication, one of them being the award-winning fantasy author Margo Lanagan.
I have a problem. Every time I go to buy a fun, distracting book, I come home with a handful of depressing, literarti treatises on the misery of life. When it comes to holiday reading, I really have to stop myself and think. Do I really want to read In Cold Blood relaxing in summery Japan?
‘It is a truth universally accepted that a zombie in possession of brains, must be in want of more brains.’
So begins the immoral, the blasphemous, and enormously entertaining Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Seth Graheme-Smith (and of course, Jane Austen). If the original story wasn’t enough for you, throw in a dojo of ninjas, a couple of beheadings, and hoards of zombie undead, and you have a book worthy of the shelves of Pemberley. Or not.
I’d been meaning to read the book for a while, but the impending movie gave me an extra incentive. So, in about two days, I sliced through Watchmen. I was looking forward to my bus trips and lunch breaks more than ever, because it gave me a chance to slip into a parallel 1985, where superheroes are real, with all the problems that come with being human.