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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
Dutch newspaper Spits

This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Monday, 25 March 2002
Murwillumbah --> Bilambil, Gold Coast, Australia

It was obvious that something was going on in the water, as the fishermen pulled up their anglers and were ready to go. There was a black spot of bait fish near the rocks and Mark and I could count at least a dozen of sharks, fast moving black spots in the water. And they looked hungry!

Around 8.30am Marion Brown woke me up to say goodbye as she had to go to a meeting in town. Syd let me sleep in and provided me with a healthy bacon and eggs breakfast.

“Do whatever you need to do, and we’ll see what else we can do today,” he said. I connected to the web and started writing. I must say that I am getting in a good rhythm with my reports. I write them in the morning as one of the most necessary things to do and when I am finished I am able to get going again.

When I was finished Syd proposed to take me over the border to Queensland state, to show me some of the beautiful nature around here. He took me to the bridge cave in a little national park annex rainforest. That was unbelievable. One hundred year old trees just grow like there has never been a human person around, it is green, it smells great and birds make more sounds than us.

A little creek ended in a waterfall, visible from a cave entrance where glow worms can be seen at night. This was a peaceful place, where anybody can get their rest if you need some.

Back home I had to pack my bags again as I would meet my next host in a town halfway my next destination. Syd offered to bring me there and so we drove through the Tweed Valley again, along the sugar cane fields, towards my meeting with Mark Newport.

I said thanks and goodbye to Syd and joined Mark in his car towards a little town called Bilambil. But before going there he wanted to show me the untouched beach of Fingal Head. And that was great. We were standing on a rocky point, near a lighthouse and I looked up a beautiful blue sea. Empty beaches stretch down south and up north.

It was obvious that something was going on in the water, as the fishermen pulled up their anglers and were ready to go. There was a black spot of bait fish near the rocks and Mark and I could count at least a dozen of sharks, fast moving black spots in the water. And they looked hungry!

We walked to a part of beach on one side and seeing this I just wanted to get in it. I mean, this is like in the travel brochures, I am not only going to take a photo of it! So, with care for the sharks Mark and I dove into the Pacific Ocean and did some body boarding on the waves. It would be too shallow for sharks to get here, so I basically forgot all about them. They are just after the little fish, aren’t they?

Mark is an mid-thirty personality that loves life and just sees what it will bring him. He has studied accountancy and decided to drop it and enjoy life much more than the accountants that go to their jobs with their suits on. “That wasn’t much for me,” he said. “I don’t have a job at the moment, but I can start anywhere with something if I want to.” From accountancy he went into farming and helped out on the well-known backpacker farms. “Meeting people is just so much more fun. So I have travelled around a lot too.”

I asked him his reason for inviting me. Openly he said: “I just wanted to see if you are a d***head or not,” and he laughed. It was obvious to me that I was going to stay with some real Australians that just say things as they think it and that is as honest as anybody can be. And I must say too, I could go along with Mark pretty much.

“So you what is it you are going to do when you are finished with travelling?” he asked me.
“I don’t know yet. I will definitely not be a real journalist,” I told him. “Journalists are always kicking their bosses and most times have to get their deadlines and fill those white spots in the paper as fast as possible. I like to write, but not under such kind of pressure. Then I might just end up as a writer of stories, life reports and I love screenplays. Next to that I am also too hyperactive in my head, that’s how I got the letmestayforaday-idea and that’s how I already have so many other ideas that can only work on the Internet.”
Mark was satisfied with my answer.
“I don’t like those bloody journalists.”
At least I was safe now, hahaha.

A little hour later Mark drove me to his home in Bilambil. I never saw much of Bilambil, as it is a wide spread town with houses on green hills and lots of land in between, but when Mark brought me to the home where he lives with his mum Del, I was happy.

They live in this magnificent wooden forest house, surrounded by the tropical beauty that I don’t see around pretty much. Little lizards avoided my feet as I walk on the path. Mangos grow across the street and the coffee comes from the local plant. The sun was shining bright.

“This should be a place for backpackers!” I immediately said. Because it is different than those commercial hostels that I have seen, which over videogame- and TV-rooms. This is a place in the middle of the nature, without a shopping centre around the corner. If you need to eat, you’ll have to grow or catch it yourself.

I met up with Mark’s mother Del and the German lady Eva. Eva is about to buy a house across the street and is a good friend of Del’s. She’s been staying at the house for almost a month now and with her jokes about the Germans and the Dutch she was a lady with humour between her ears.

For dinner Del had prepared a big bowl of shrimps, together with garden salad and garlic bread. Rhonda, a local friend of Del (and a poster on the messageboard), also joined for supper on the veranda. Scent was burning and we were covered in insect-repellent, the only way you can site outside here in the evening. This time when I told my hosts about Europe, it was pretty interesting, as Eva would back me up in some things. Yes, indeed, traffic is bad in Europe. And yes, the continent is pretty full. Compared with Australia, this sandpit is the emptiest spot on earth, haha.

With four people we weren’t able to eat the whole bowl of shrimps, it was really that much. I sat there, enjoying the friendly and open atmosphere and heard noises of nocturnal life in the trees. I kind of fell in love with this spot.

“Del, if you are ever going to move out from here, let me know and I’ll buy it when I am old.” But the sixty-something-year-old Del is sure not planning to move out here, so I’d probably just have to wait some fifty years, haha.

Slowly the whole bunch moved in to the house as we watched the Oscar Awards Ceremony on Australian television. Whoopi Goldberg was very amusing. Channel 9 said it was a live broadcast, but how could I then now the results in advance by the Dutch news on the Internet? It wasn’t live at all, dóh!

The show on TV took over three hours and I knew I wasn’t going to handle it all. Halfway, somewhere after midnight, I called it the night and said goodbye to Rhonda. Mark had offered me his bedroom and he was going to sleep on a couch, how generous!

Bats flew around the bedroom window and I thought about Irena. I miss her.

Ramon.