Video

To The West

Here it is as promised. The first film in a long time that I’ve put together! This was filmed over the course of 14 months on my last trip. Its from everywhere from Africa to New Zealand and Fiji. Its taken a little while to put together so I hope you enjoy. There will be more of this kind of thing in the future!

Music is by The Lummineers and Ben Howard

A few thank you’s for those involved and helped!;

Kiwi Experience
Feejee Experience
Down Under Dives
Mantaray Island Resort
Palace Adventures
Franz Josef Heli-Hikes
Nikon
GoPro
And of course my central protagonist Soph, for always allowing me to stick a camera in her face and thus providing endless entertainment!

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Published!

So as I previously mentioned I have the very exciting news that a Blue Skies Design piece has been published on an international travel website! My Destination is a travel website which is seen all across the world. My piece is a smaller version of the piece I wrote previously about my summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in 2012. It has gone down very well so far and I hear that it has already been viewed many times! This was fantastic news for me and I feel privileged to be asked to write for them. They have even asked for me to write more, so watch this space! Below is a link to the website

For Uhuru – My Destination

Published!!!

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Great news! I have recently been contacted by My Destination, a worldwide travel website. Turns out they really liked Blue Skies Design and have asked me to write a guest blog for the website! 

I have written the piece and I am told it will be published on their website on May 4th. As soon as I receive more details I will post it up and let you know where you can read it. I will leave the topic of the piece a surprise!

Live Fast, Die Old

Believe it or not, I’ve heard people say a lot why do you want to travel, why go to these random places? Would you not rather settle down with a steady pay check and the rest of it? These are all great things and at some point thats probably what I am going to want. At the same time however, why limit yourself to just that. There is so much more. I know for fact, as children we all dreamt of seeing the world. Going to places which ignite our imagination, creativity and belief that there is so much more. In just under 14 months I travelled thousands of miles, through dozens of different cultures. I’ve done things which I never thought I would do, through nothing more than pure perseverance and the belief that I know that anything is possible. Its possible for anyone to still go out and achieve something they have always wanted. I have always wanted to go to Africa, see the big 5, climb Kilimanjaro. I’ve done it because its possible. Moreover than urge, I challenge you. I dare you to pursue and live out just one of the dreams you had as a child. It doesn’t have to be something massive or even travel. You won’t regret it. Do something that scares you, challenges you. I firmly believe we are capable of anything. I may never be a wealthy man, but I can tell stories that many will only dream. I know you want to say the same. 

Theres a painting on the wall in a bar New South Wales. At the bottom of it, in white ink it reads “When you leave here, you are going no where”. The painting is of surfers, hippies, travellers and explorers. Take what you will from those words, I believe them to mean, the places and people you meet on your travels, will stay with you forever. 

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you. For the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who do not believe in magic, will never find it.” R. Dahl

To The West

On the banks of the Swan River, built upon the oldest land on the planet rests the most isolated city in the world. Perth is the state capital of Western Australia and is situated in the south west. It is so remote that Dili in East Timor and Jakarta in Indonesia are closer to Perth than any other Australian city, apart from Adelaide, which is still 2,104km away. Since Captain James Sterling founded the settlement in 1829 the city has grown to have a population of over 1.83 million people making it the forth largest city in Australia.

Our stop in Perth was to be our last destination on this amazing trip, so we had to make it a special one. We spent a few days exploring the city and the suburbs. The famous Kings Park being was a real highlight, probably one of the best inner city parks I have been to, its also one of the largest inner city parks in the world. Covering over 4 square kilometres, the park is perched high above the city and offers fantastic views over the Swan River and the CBD. In the extreme heat of Perth its the perfect place to relax in the city.

I spent 2 months in Perth when I was 18 and loved my time in the city. I stayed in the town of Fremantle just south of the city on the coast. Freo serves as the port to Fremantle and is a great little settlement right on the beaches. I remember my time well there and was really looking forward to seeing the town again. For the most part, Freo has stayed the the picturesque town it is, there are however some areas which seem to have just been left to weather. Run down parts of town which once heaved with people. The Coffee Strip however really does come to life during the evenings and at weekends, with lots of bars and restaurants over flowing. A perfect place to spend an evening.

The bars and restaurants which call the Coffee Strip home are all fantastic, there is one place however which for me, tops the lot. Fremantle is also home to the famous Little Creatures Brewery. Little Creatures is renown Western Australian Beer which has been brewed out of Fremantle since 2000. The Brewery itself is a huge complex resting right on the dockside and is a fantastic place to spend an evening with great food entertainment and of course brilliant beer.

There’s a big reason why Perth is so attractive to me, and thats what lies just beyond its Port, 18 kilometres across the sea. By the Wadjemup people its known as Noongar which means ‘across the water’. Across the water from Perth lies the small island of Rottnest. One of the most perfect islands in all of Australia. They say the best beaches in Australia are all found on the west coast, Rotto is the perfect example why. Research has shown that the 19 square kilometre island has been inhabited by aborigines for 50,000 years. In the 18th century the island was turned into an Aboriginal prison where nearly 3,700 aboriginals were held captive by the Europeans. Many buildings from the old prison still remain on the islands, as do over 300 graves of aboriginal prisoners.

Nowadays the islands is a popular holiday destinations for many Australians and tourists, nearly half a million each year in fact. This was my second time to the island, and it was just as beautiful as I remember it.

The best way to see the island is by bike, there are no cars permitted on the islands so the roads are safe and they take you to every part of the island. We hired bikes for our 3 day stay and immediately set out on the roads to discover the islands secrets. As always the Western Australian weather was perfect and burning hot for our entire stay. 

Thomson Bay is the main settlement on the island, it is here where we stayed for our time there. It only takes a couple of hours to cycle around the island so you are never too far from any of the inlets or beaches. We spent the 3 days trying to get to as many of the beaches as possible. Around every headland you pass you come across another stunning Rottnest Beach, each one better than the last. The waters are crystal clear blue and they lap against the stunning white sand of the dunes. The island is surround my amazing coral reefs which offer some great snorkelling and diving. It really was mind blowing how beautiful the island was. 

Rotto is also home to a curious little creature which isn’t found anywhere else in the world. All across the island we came across loads of a small animal called Quokkas. I remember these from my last trip 8 years ago and was really excited to see some more of them. Quokkas are marsupials and thus related to the kangaroo and wallaby although they are much smaller and much more used to humans. They are amazing little things and they even seem to be always smiling! We stopped my a small group at one point on a bike ride and they are came straight over to us, one was even rustling though my bag! They are great little things and really add to the unique feel of the island. 

The three days on the island were over all too soon and we were soon on our way back to Fremantle for our last few days of the entire trip, which hadn’t really sunk in yet. Before we headed back to Perth we spent a couple nights at Cottesloe Beach. Cottesloe is one of the most famous beaches in Western Australia. Its easy to see why, once again the beautiful colours of the water are matched by the green slopes of grass which form beyond the beach. Its the perfect place to spend a a few days. its also home to the Cottesloe Surf Life Saving Club. The clubs building is a beautifully designed building which rests right on the sands. It was the perfect beach to have my last swim in the ocean on this great trip.

So from Cottesloe we headed back to Perth for our final 3 days. Nearly 14 months traveling around the world was almost at an end. I genuinely can’t believe how fast it has gone. It only seems like yesterday we were traveling through east Africa and now here we were, the final chapter. 

We spent the last few days in the city getting things sorted for the flight home, buying some last minute souvenirs and a few last pints of Little Creatures. 

I remember sitting at the airport waiting for our flight to be called, thinking about all the places we had been, people we had met and experiences we had. It has been a trip that I will remember for the rest of my life and it has sure given me some enthusiasm to visit the parts of the world I am still to see. They say while you are travelling you tick off the places on the list that you want to see. It seems however that this trip, has only made my list grow longer. Thank you so much to everyone we met on the way, its you who made this trip something special, far too many to mention all by name. To everyone who kindly offered us their fantastic hospitality, it was hugely appreciated. 

Thank you also to everyone who read the blog while we have been away. I have received some brilliant feedback and comments on it along the way, I really appreciate it. Since I have been writing Blue Skies Design has taken off in a way, its been read now in over 50 countries around the world and theres a few more special things to come from it in the near future. I never really expected so many people to read and enjoy it and I look forward to expanding it even more in the future. This will not be the end of it, there will be much more to come, so please keep checking the site and Twitter to keep track of updates. I will also be putting up a short film I made of the trip very soon, so make sure you check back and have a watch.

Like I say, this is not the end, I actually think its more of a starting point. I have more trips planned in the future and have even more planned for Blue Skies Design.

“Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the romance of the unusual.”  E. Hemingway 

The Greatest of Ocean Roads

The colours of the pacific were gone all to soon and we were on our way to our next stop in Australia. Melbourne is the state capital of Victoria, its also known as the sporting capital of Australia. The city plays host to many international sporting events, including The Australian Open Tennis Tournament, the Australian Grand Prix and the worlds longest running surf competition, the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach. Its also home to the world famous Melbourne Cricket Ground, one of the largest stadiums anywhere in the world. Unfortunately I had timed my visit right in between the Grand Prix and the Rip Curl Pro, so didn’t see either!

Melbourne is a fantastic cultural city with so much to offer and like most Australian cities, always has things and events going on. We were staying just out of the CBD right near the amazing Victoria Street Markets. Every Wednesday during the summer the Market puts on the Suzuki Night Markets which were incredible! The huge market is alive with people, arts, music, brilliant food and an electric buzz. We spend a good few hours just wandering around the market stalls and sampling some of the great food. The live music around the market was put on by mostly amateurs and semi-professional musicians, who by most accounts I would pay to watch! In fact one of the bands I stayed and watched for ages, I even ended up buying their CD. If you ever get the chance, check out The Pierce Brothers, they are going to be huge!

Any time you go to Melbourne there is sure to be some sort of event going on. While we were there the Melbourne White Night Festival had just begun. The festival runs for just one night at the city is transformed into a massive festival site. Buildings all over town are lit up in a fashion which totally changes their appearance, it is like a totally different city. Over 80 free events are put on celebrating music, food art and light. Many of the main streets in the city are pedestrianised and thousands come out to see the art and live music. The famous Flinders Street Station was transformed into a beautiful live music venue, with lights being beamed up onto the outside of the building depicting a scene from a stunning theatre. It is a fantastic, very different event which really took the city by storm. The White Night event is actually a phenomenon which began in Paris and has since spread around the world, Melbourne being the latest venue. 

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The rest of our time in Melbourne was spent walking around the city, taking in many of the sites, including the docklands and also a day trip down to the beach at St. Kilda. Probably my favourite day in Melbourne however came on a day tour to Philip Island which is an hour or so south of the city. The small island which is connected to the mainland via a bridge is famous for two things; the original Australian Grand Prix site and more importantly, penguins! Much of the island is a wildlife reserve, where many different types of birds and also koala’s are found. However the most famous of all the islands inhabitants are the the worlds smallest penguin. At the islands Penguin Parade centre, you get the chance to get up close and personal to these adorable little guys. For years every single night huge numbers of penguins will appear out of the sea water, walk up the beach and home again to their partners. It happens like clockwork and you can almost set you watch by them. 

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As the sun was setting, we all descended down onto what looked like a small amphitheatre cut into the dunes on the beach, eagerly anticipating the arrival of the first penguin. In the main centre there is a screen which states the estimated time of arrival of the first group of penguins, it said 8:28pm. As we were sitting on the beach in the cold, searching the waters edge for shadows to appear a few little bumps came into view. At about 8:27pm the smallest head popped up out of the water and had a look round. He then stood up walked to the sand and then suddenly a group of about 10 did the same and followed him. The all waited in a group until each had got out of the water, they they in a group walked all the way up the beach right past us and into the sand dunes. As they made their way across the sand, another group, larger than the first appeared, then another and another. Soon hundreds of tiny penguins were marching across the sands and up the hills making their way home. It was a fantastic sight, as a huge lover of penguins myself it couldn’t have been a better evening.

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The following day we left Melbourne and began to make our way across the state heading towards Adelaide in South Australia. Although this is a huge distance, to fly this section would be a huge mistake as what lies in between is not worth missing. We began a tour which would take us along one of the most famous stretches of highway in the world and without a doubt one the best drives I’ve ever been on. The Great Ocean Road runs 243km from Torquay and Warnambool. The road was build between 1919 and 1932 by Australian soldiers who had returned from the war. It winds its way around the coast, through forests and past some of Australia’s greatest attractions. 

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The first big attraction we stopped at was the famous Bells Beach. Bells is where surfing in Australia began, its also home to the worlds longest running surf competition which started back in 1961. Every year the event has run and is a crucial stop on the World Championship Tour. The Rip Curl Pro runs each easter and pulls in the top surfers in the world to compete for the chance to ring the famous Bell. Unfortunately when I was there, the water was like a lake so I didn’t get to see Bells at its best. It was still great to get the chance to go there and see where a lot of surfing history has been made. 

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The next big stop along the road was the Twelve Apostles, one of the most photographed sights in Australia. The Apostles are a series of limestone towers which lay just of the coast of Port Campbell National Park. They were formed by erosion of the cliffs to form caves. Eventually those cliffs were eroded to become arches, when the arches eventually fell the remaining stacks were still standing and are now what are as the Twelve Apostles. Despite their name, there only has ever actually been 9 limestone stacks. They are a beautiful site, the colour of the limestone glows in the morning and evening light to create some incredible pictures which have been seen around the world. The limestone formations can  be seen for quite a way down this section of coast, including one formation called London Bridge. Funnily enough the arch of London Bridge did actually fall down a few years ago, leaving a small island now just out to sea. 

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After traveling the extent of the Great Ocean Road, our next stop were to be the beautiful Grampian Mountains which lie just before the boarder to South Australia. These beautiful mountains were named after their Scottish counterpart and attract hundreds of visitors each year. We had a day of amazing walks around some areas of he mountains which had some incredible views down the valleys and hills of the national park. The park is also home to hundreds of Kangaroos which cover the hills and slopes of the mountains. We even got to see a couple of kangaroos literally boxing which was an incredible sight! I have of course heard the stereotype of the boxing kangaroo but didn’t realise how real that phrase actually was. They really went for with with fists and kicks, I would not want to get on the wrong side of an angry kangaroo!

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We stayed the night in the mountains before making are way across the boarder, into South Australia and eventually made it to Adelaide by the evening. Luckily some friends we had met while traveling through Africa a year before had offered to let us stay at their place just outside the city. Staying at Chantelle and Erin’s house was a welcome break from the hostels again! We were only in town for one full day and unfortunately the weather wasn’t great. However, luckily for us, Adelaide happens to have some superb rainy day activities, in the form of wine tasting and the world famous Barossa Wine Valley. The Barossa is home to some of the worlds best known wines including Wolf Bass and Jacobs Creek. It was the perfect way to spend the day. Chantelle took us to about 4 or 5 wineries in the valley where much to my surprise you can do wine tasting for free. I didn’t spend a cent and had far more wine than I care to write about. For the sake of my reputation, lets just say that myself and the Barossa became very well acquainted.

It was the perfect way to end our trip along the Great Ocean Road, Chantelle and Erin’s hospitality was fantastic and despite having to take a flight after far too much wine I was looking forward to the next and final stop on this incredible journey. 

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