Tête en bas

Down under wandering. Archipelagoes to islands; beaches to deserts; mountains to cities.

Archive for the ‘[Australia – Melbourne]’ Category

We all live in a Maui Campervan

  • English: We all live in a Maui Campervan
  • Français: We all live in a Maui Campervan

It’s the story of a canadian girl, an american guy, an indonesian girl, an australian girl, an australian guy and a french and canadian guy, who are in a campervan. Sounds like a joke, but it was not one. It was one of the most audacious sociologic experiment I ever tried. Gathering 6 peoples, who doesn’t know each other, and let them leave all together in the same van. Traveling 2,278 km in less than 5 days. Being sure that everybody is happy, and enjoy the trip. Yes, it was really audacious…

Once a year, my father organize an event called “les dragonneries”. This event gather thirtyish people during a long week end. Once, I heard him says that one of the reason he was proud of this event, was because it gathers peoples from all different kind of environment. People who would never meet if it was not of this event. It’s probably when I heard my father telling that that I start finding those “sociologic experiment” interesting. I tried some of those a few times, at a very small scale. It was one of the idea behind this trip. There was, of course, the wish to travel from Melbourne to Alice Springs keeping the cost as low as possible. But there was also a clear willing of getting to know others, in order to understand them.






And I.

Something in common? We all want to go to Alice Springs. We don’t want to spend to much cash. Nothing else. Randomness (or my subconscious, who knows!) wanted that we were three guys and three girls. Everybody seems to be happy about that, as if we were feeling that it will bring a kind of balance. And we will definitely need balance! As the organizer, my goal was simple: I wanted this small trip to be a good souvenir for everyone, and avoid as much tension as possible. No suspense at this time: this was clearly achieve, way over the expectations!

The meeting was on saturday morning, at 10 AM, at Totenham train station. Five minutes walk from the place were we had to pick up the van. To my surprise (there were couchsurfers involve!) no one was more than 10 minutes late. I knew everyone, a little bit. I met everyone quickly during the week. But it was the first time everybody gather at the same place at the same time. Knowing everybody a little, I was anticipating everyone roles. Planing how the tasks would be shared. Who would react how. We discovered, with Cassie and Rachel, that everyone respect the stereotype from his own country (countries for one of us).

Taking the van was an easy thing. The girl who take care of me was the same, one more time. She knows me quite well by now… it was the 3rd time after all.

He didn’t take long before the van was full with backpack and people. To my own pleasure, Rachel was the first one to take the copilot seat. In this trip, we were two with no plan for after the festival. Two who were thinking we might want to travel a little bit together after that. It was the perfect opportunity to get to know each other.

Rachel helped me to discover something about me I didn’t know, and definitely didn’t expect. I lived in Quebec for 10 years. During those 10 years, I’ve kept saying “Canada, I don’t know what it is. I’ve always been in contact with Quebec”. When I traveled to British Colombia (where Rachel come from), I realized that those people at the far hand of the country where not so much different than “us” in Quebec. A few months later, when I was driving across Canada, I realized that if British Colombia and Quebec where quite the same, all those between were definitely different. Strange feeling… that I discovered again with Rachel. As I did, she was trying to avoid tension, and make everybody happy. I felt that we were following the same stereotype. We were both… canadian. I was not french anymore. Neither was I quebecer. I discovered a citizenship I didn’t know I had. Rachel and Cassie both told me a couple of time that they never met any french like me. Maybe because from my french side, I just keep the passport. And some roots, really deep, and really localized.

He didn’t take me a long time to understand that there will be two different way of life in the van. The cabin, quiet and relaxing, and the van, in the back, more lively and on a party mood. In my previous relocation, I was alone with Iris, who didn’t really like to be in the back on the van when moving. As we were only two, it was quite easy to stop when one of us need something. With 6 people, it was definitely an idea to forget. Quickly, all passenger started to leave there seat, moving around. Moving, grabbing something to eat, watching from an other window, enjoying the back seat (transform to a bed for the first night, and until the end of the trip).

I liked this feeling. I liked to have those two difference feeling. Having people happy and partying in the back, and talking and relaxing in the front. When copilot started to change, I wondered if being in a front was a punishment (obliged to spend some time with the driver who doesn’t speak so much) or a reward (enjoy the landscape, relax, take it easy…). Links have been created quickly. And strongly. No one was has been forget in the process. The small family was doing well.

My role, I already knew it, was obvious. Anyone who know me knows that I always end up in this “position”. I was the father, the organizer, the driver. The one who has to think about everything, check that everything is okay, and that the van keep moving. All that was stressing me, a little. I know how slow a 6 persons group could be. I know how difficult it can be to move a group, even as small as this one. I was expecting to spend most of my energy doing that. I didn’t plan that I was going to be helped in my task. Cassie mothered all of us, checking that everyone was feeling okay. Rachel was definitely the older sister, who supervise everyone in the family, because parents are to busy. She took care of me, providing me with sandwich/water/music each time I had a special little query. Perfect copilot, available pour short little chat sometime, and sometime quiet, reading her book or writing. Ben was the teenager in crisis. Passionate by energy, electricity, battery and solar panel, he was giving as much information as anyone want to listen to. And disappear from time to time when someone disagreed with him. Josh, as a preteen, tried to take is room to. To show that he existed, and can tell interesting things to. Indri was the youngest one, quiet, trying (and managing!) to take her place in this crazy family.

Don’t think I’m saying what I didn’t say. I had great time with everyone. I would not have swap anyone for someone else. The result was not perfect, but was really inspiring. But there was still a question remaining. What was going to happen in Alice Springs? When a group form, a dynamic starts. And usually stop at the end. Everyone was it’s own plan at the end of the adventure. I had to find an other couchsurfer, Cassie was going to a friend. So was Ben. Josh had already booked a hostel. Rachel was a little bit lost, thinking that we were going to have the van for the festival. And Indri had no idea what she was going to do next. We could have stop at Alice Springs, everyone going on his own after that. That’s what I was feeling. When Cassie said that we could have a debrief dinner, I was sure. Once everyone settled down, I was not sure if it was a good idea to see us again so soon. I was thinking that everyone might need to breath alone for a little while…

It’s not really easy to sum up 5 days of interaction between 6 people without writing pages. It’s not really easy to describe the trip either. But it’s coming… soon.

I think I know you

  • English: I think I know you
  • Français: I think I know you

I met this girl a little while ago, in an other neighborhood. She was dancing with birds. I met her again tonight. Not far from where I’m staying. I usually turn just before the corner, in order to take a shortcut. I have no idea how long she has been here, as I have been taking this shortcut for the last four weeks. It probably saves me 12 seconds of walking. Those who knows me know that I like routines. For the pleasure of breaking them. Today, I decided not to turn right. I decided to continue. And because of that, I saw her again. “Be Free”. How can I disagree with that !

Little Creatures Brewery

  • English: Little Creatures Brewery
  • Français: Little Creatures Brewery

So… you have a well known brewery, and your next beer will be ready soon. As you’re one of the trendiest place in town, with an amazing decoration in an old warehouse, you could just put a little poster “Quiet American no available”. Yes, that would be simple.

Or you can advertise “Quiet American is coming. First kegs will be on us. Free beers from 4:30 to 6 PM. So, now it’s completely different. Then, if you have couchsurfers spreading the information, you’ll have this gathering of 30 peoples, from everywhere on earth, sharing… hum… a few beers.

When I first so the date of the event, I decided that I was going to drink to celebrate. Or to forget. Sometime, when a shop advertise something free, they have a long waiting list, or they’ll find other way to reduce there cost as much as they can. At the Little Creatures Brewery, they do thing the good way. The good thing about having two hands is that you can hold two beers. I quickly forget that I was suppose to forget something, and just start having fun, talking with people. New peoples, new meeting… I like Melbourne couchsurfing community.

And as if free beer was not enough, they decide to add some free food to!

I wanted to discover the Little Creature drinking hall for a little while. The place is amazing, atmosphere is really nice, and the staff is great. I would be more than happy to go back there!

This evening was also an opportunity to meet Cassie, Rachel, Josh and Indri. We talked about the upcoming road trip. Everything was well, and I do have the feeling that it’s going to be a great experience !

And hey… I suppose I had to try at least once to walk back home because it was to late for the last tram?

Oh… and if you’re wondering if the beer was good… yes, it was. A great one. But I should have write my feeling after the first glass, to have a good description!

Desert is coming

  • English: Desert is coming
  • Français: Desert is coming

Richmond results are now official. The dream will have to stop here. Another one. As usual, I suppose it’s for the best… I’ll see… the good news for all the readers is that this blog will stay bilingual. I like it this way.

So… what’s next?

Plan B is already on the rail. Next saturday, I’m leaving Melbourne. I booked a relocation van a little while ago, heading to Alice Springs. 5 days to drive 2,200 kms. But I won’t be alone. The campervan is a huge one, with room for 6 persons. And it is full. Cassie, Josh, Indri and Rachel, 4 couchsurfers, and Ben, the guy I met a few days ago at the prom. 5 days with 5 almost complete strangers. This is going to be a really interesting experience.

Desert has been calling me for a little while now. After the first time I drove through an amazing never ending emptiness in New Mexico, I discover that desert could be such an awesome place… so quiet… just perfect, sometime, to be alone. To much dreams had fall apart on the last few months. Keeping quiet for a little while, just relaxing, just by myself sounds the thing to do at the moment. Putting my ideas back together.

I might not be that much alone… I have a friend, Mara, in Alice Springs. We first met in Melbourne, for christmas. It will be nice to see her again. And there’s also Fan Fan. I met her in Hobart. She’s somewhere on the north west coast. Could be nice to visit friends… there’s also one or two other possibilities… who knows?

And there’s also the Wide Open Space festival. Starting on the 4th of may.

Desert is coming…

Sunday afternoon, in Melbourne

Wandering photographic workshop in Richmond

  • English: Wandering photographic workshop in Richmond
  • Français: Wandering photographic workshop in Richmond

Back in Montreal, when I was organizing guided tours, I discovered that walking in a city was a great way for people to get to know each other. When you are in a bar, sharing beers, or in a restaurant, sharing food, or even in a show, listening to music, you’ll stay almost always at the same place. with the same people on your side. You might be in an event with 15 persons, but you’ll probably end up talking to only 4 or 5 of them. Because the other are just to far, and because it’s hard to talk to someone who is behind someone else. But when walking in a city, the shape of the group is always morphing. A red light, and everybody is back together. You can walk at your own speed, and have a one to one conversation for a little while. And then, start talking with someone else.

I love watching people interacting with each other. I love to see how a group react. How everything goes. Others passion me, and I was really exited to organize my first event in Melbourne. The idea was to walk randomly in a neighborhood, in order to discover it, and to take picture. One more time, the choice was quite obvious. I like Richmond. 16 peoples subscribe to the event. 10 come. That’s the way it works with couchsurfing.

And everything was just nice. I had a couple of really nice chat, and definitely meet interesting people. I was also happy to answer to a couple of questions. There will be a second one next week. This time, it will be about light painting and fire photography. Lots of fun coming on !

Alice or Richmond?

  • English: Alice or Richmond?
  • Français: Alice or Richmond?

Things are going slower on one side, faster on the other. I was supposed to leave this morning for Wilson Promontory, but when I woke up, Richmond had posted on its Facebook wall that there will be more details tomorrow for “Richmond 365”. Sounds like a good reason to stay one more day here, in order to know what it is about. Keeping my fingers crossed, of course !

In all case, I’ve decided to interrupt my Melbourne experience. It was quite a hard decision to take. I met so many great people. Tammy, Drew, Nick, Ned, Rosie, Paul, Pamela, Heather, Hripsime… and I like being with Tao and Megan. Like it even more as I’m having fun with there two daughters. It took me a while to create this little friends network. People I don’t see often, but I’m just happy to know they are not to far. So… why leaving? Because my legs have been resting for to long. As I don’t have a job, days are some time a little bit to long. And I’ve been saying that for a little while now… I’m missing the desert. And the dust. Strange feeling…

What’s coming next? I really hope the next step will be a plane ticket to Vancouver. I really want 2012 to be a 367 days year. But if unfortunately Richmond doesn’t keep my profile, my next step will be Alice Spring. I let you check on the map. A cue? “In the middle of nowhere”. Not very far (500kms) from the famous Uluru. That I’ll definitely visit. If you remember well, I wasn’t sure between Perth and Brisbane. Being me as usual, between two choices, I take the 3rd one. I have a friend in Alice Spring at the moment, and she told me a lot of good thing about it. But she got me when she told me about the “Wide Open Space festival”. A festival in the middle of nowhere… Really appealing, don’t you think so? Departure saturday next week… if I’m not in a place!

For the next three days, I’ll forget gastronomy. Forget the hours spend in the kitchen. I have lot of fun cooking those last days, I’ll do a stop for a few days. Mode hiking, alone, with my backpack and my mini gaze stove!

And then, the wind starts blowing again.

  • English: And then, the wind starts blowing again.
  • Français: And then, the wind starts blowing again.

 At first, it was just a little breeze. A very quiet one, without any consequence. We did not really know where it was blowing. Light swirls start to form soon after, bringing with them what seems to be a salty smell. He ignored all that, before realizing that he won’t be able to fight against the wind. Instead, he decided to let it goes. To let the wind carry him one step further. He sees, far away, an amazing peninsula. Trees, mountains, beaches… but he knows that there will be other steps. This was just for a couple of days… there was a rumor running. Winter was coming… further, way further, there was something else. Dust. Lot of dust. He remembered. No dust. Only happiness.

A flute starts playing. Will he start playing back?

Chicken drumsticks in a white wine and nuts sauce

  • English: Chicken drumsticks in a white wine and nuts sauce
  • Français: Chicken drumsticks in a white wine and nuts sauce

I like it a lot when I’m staying at a place where the people are happy to let me cook. It’s a nice opportunity to experiment, and try new random recipe, improvised from what I can find in the fridge.

I’m really happy with the result of this one. Chicken drumsticks in a white wine and nuts (peanut, cashew, almond) sauce. Served with tomatoes “à la provençale” and Quinoa. And I just discovered that the hazel nut taste you have in Quinoa just fits very well with the nuts sauce. I’ll definitely have to look at that from closer!

Fry some garlic with some ginger, in olive oil and butter. Add grounded almonds and onions. Then, add some maple sirup, to help the onions to caramelize, and some peanut butter. As I didn’t have enough peanut butter, I just add some cashew butter to. Complete with some white wine, add the chicken, salt, paprika and cumin seed. Cover with a lead. Wait. Eat.

Just an other day in Richmond

  • English: Just an other day in Richmond
  • Français: Just an other day in Richmond

I find the challenge really interesting. I took my camera with me, and decided to spend a whole day in Richmond, one of Melbourne suburb. Took 13000 pictures, used 3 camera batteries and 18 gigs of memory card. All in one day. Hope you’ll like the result.