An audio and video podcast of my trip hitchhiking around the world by sea.
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Ride or Reef

Aussie Word of the Day:
The Dunnie (n.):  Australian for toilet.  Unless referring to a porta-potty, in which case you would use the term Drop-Dunnie or Long Drop.

I woke up to the pittering of rain off the tin awning of my hostel. Generally the sound of rain falling is a nice ingredient for sleep, but when accompanied by squawking parrots it becomes less soothing and more, say… annoying. That is until you realize you are waking up in Australia, Cairns to be exact.

Cairns is one of the most northerly towns on the east coast of Australia. It’s is known for things like the saltwater croc, or the cassowary (an ostrich-like rainforest bird with a colorful scalp and a massive block on it’s head), but mostly it’s known for the Great Barrier Reef. You’ve maybe heard of it—that little World Heritage Site stretching almost 350,000 square kilometers and home to 2,900 reefs, 918 islands, 2,800 kinds of fish, 215 kinds of sea snake and 6 kinds of turtle… Yeah that’s the one.

You’d think a place known to be one of the seven natural wonders of the world might have some pull on a guy with basically no plans. But I’ve always been kind of a sucker for cheap transportation. So when, the first morning in Cairns, I noticed a paper dangling from the hostel bulletin board my wheels started turning. It read something like this:

I am a 22-year German guy. I will be driving to from Cairns to Melbourne on Thursday morning. Have space for 1-3 people looking to go to Brisbane, Sydney or anywhere along the way.

Now look, before you start judging, let me defend my logic. Traveling around the world for 18 months can get expensive, even after you’ve sold your house and lived as frugally as possible. Second, although the US dollar is worth more than the Aussie dollar, it doesn’t go as far down here. Finally, the Great Barrier Reef is always going to be there, but this ride-this ride was leaving in two days! See what I mean? Makes sense, right?

Well it made sense to me; however, I wasn’t traveling alone at the moment. Mandi is a good friend, and a flight attendant. She also has a big heart and the superpower of discounted tickets—except not in Australia. It has always been a dream of hers to see Australia, and she was taking some vacation time to start my trip with me. I showed her the flyer, bat my puppy eyes, and agreed to spend the day exploring our options.

I looked at flights—expensive. I looked at car rentals—expensive. I looked into bus, train, even into buying a junker car which I would sell (hopefully) at the end of my trip—all expensive. All day I looked but just as the rain fell from the sky, so did our options for cheap transport. I mean yes, it is the Great Barrier Reef. But this… This is opportunity. This is a free ride down the coast of Australia!!

That night I called Henning. We would leave the following morning.


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