Oliver is…

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man

…done with 2011

About a year ago I made a list of goals for 2011, but as time went on I forgot more and more about them.

My life now is quite different to how it was at the start of 2011 and rather than focus on those goals (for those interested: yes, not enough, no, yes, no, no, probably, technically, possibly, not quite) I’m going to give a month-by-month account of my year, as best I remember it, in the manner of a long forgotten blogger. (If you’d rather just look at pictures and not read words, go here.)

I will try and post pictures where possible, but seeing as Flickr has taken my photos hostage, that might be harder than I hope.

January (Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart)

I saw in the new year in Perth at a rather unspectacular street party and got tricked out of a bar by a guy trying to hit on a girl. After a few days there I went back to ace Melbourne, stayed in a dorm full of Scots and got let down by a friend of a friend. After applying for a few jobs in Victoria I realised I should travel a bit more, so dyed my hair and booked a load of flights, firstly to Sydney, before Cairns (although that was cancelled because of a pesky hurricane) and then I flew to Hobart for the start of my Tasmanian adventure.

What made January special was friends. The ones I made travelling, the few I met up with again. The old friends who seemingly followed me everywhere and the one I deliberately met up with.

Even better, were my trips to Asquith, Sutherland and Warburton

Warburton rainforest

February (round Tasmania, round New Zealand’s south island)

Two islands and two countries. Tasmania was surprisingly beautiful and I could easily have spent more time there, hopefully I’ll go back at some point. I bumped into a guy I met in Sydney and met some great new people — including a Yahtzee wizard, a guy who’s now my best friend in Sydney and the most beautiful woman in the world. (I have no photos of her so she can’t win this month, sadly).

I then went to New Zealand and had some amazing experiences: I stayed in a converted jail, I went swimming with seals, I climbed a glacier, I jumped off a bridge and I saw the world’s largest jumper.

What I’ll remember most is the feeling after the Christchurch earthquake, which was all a bit mental and probably the closest I’ve come to dying in my life.

One of the last photos taken of the cathedral in Christchurch before the 'quake

March (leaving New Zealand, India [Chennai and Bangalore] and Thailand [Bangkok and Surat Thani])

The end of my New Zealand trip didn’t offer me much, although walking round Christchurch after the earthquake was a real shock. I didn’t like India much all told, although the cricket was awesome, but I’m glad I went for the experience. Thailand was totally brilliant, especially meeting up with Dave.

I saw the Surat Thani floods which was another shock, but playing with tigers was a great and totally unexpected thing that people can actually do.


April (Surat Thani, Chiang Mai, Melbourne)

Being evacuated by the army was a pretty interesting experience, and getting blessed certainly changed things, but my week with elephants is one of the best ever.

Ellie and Ollie

May (Melbourne, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Darwin)

My friend Martin decided to head back to the UK so we met up again in Melbourne and we made our way over to Adelaide. It was a good trip that I didn’t get round to writing about. Here’s a snippet from an e-mail I sent:

Since last having the internet properly, I’ve left Melbourne and I’ve probably given up on the thought of going back there — despite finding the best pizza place in the world and still having a library book from that city in my possession. There’s a road from Melbourne to Adelaide which is generally thought of as great and something every traveller should do. It goes along the ocean so there’s nice views and that. Using all their imaginative powers, the Australians have called this the Great Ocean Road. We (I did pretty much everything else in this e-mail with my friend Martin) were going to hire a car but it was too expensive. Then we were going to get public transport. Then we found out we could hike 90km of it so decided to do that, even though neither of us hikes or camps. It was good fun, if a little cold at night. And some of the trekking was ridiculous, but I did get to see my first wild koalas, snakes and eagles. And about 60 kangaroos hanging out together. It was definitely worth it.

After that we ended up in a town with a population of about five where the pub didn’t have a licence (new owners, come back in four weeks) and were finding it tricky to plan a route to Adelaide (too far to walk). We found out a tour bus was heading to Adelaide via a pretty, mountainous area that we were considering going to see and it was all a little bit too perfect. Life is much easier with a blessing than a curse.

After that we drove to Alice, taking in Uluru and King’s Canyon, and then got the bus to Darwin to see the natural parks around there.

This is a pretty hard month to choose from, but I think Kakadu in NT was my favourite. Or King’s Canyon. Or the giant rocking horse. The hiking was good. And the jumping crocs. What about all the kangaroos? Walking round Uluru was totally worth it. Kakadu.

I think this was in one of the Crocodile Dundee films

June (Sydney)

I flew to Sydney at the start of the month, had a phony job interview, had a real job interview, met a girl, got a flat. I’m not going to be sappy enough to actually say it, so here’s a picture of the view from my office instead.

What I look at when I'm ignoring your e-mails at work

July (Sydney, Canberra)

This is where the blog sort of died, seeing as I’d settled back into working life and had fewer adventures to document. I did manage to tick off the last of the Australian states/territories to visit (which is what travelling’s all about, right?)

What? You wanted parliament?

August (Sydney, Melbourne, Dubbo)

This game is so much harder without everything handily written down, but at least it means these last few months are brief. I’ve found an e-mail sent in August and there seem to be three amazing things to consider in this month: watching The Beards, watching the world tree climbing finals and feeding giraffes.

Beards and giraffes, what could be better?

September (Sydney, Townsville)

It seems that every month I’ve been in Australia I’ve at least gone to some new town/city (in July I flew to Sydney on the first, so I at least had a few hours in NT that month).

September saw me go north to Townsville (not to see the Powerpuff Girls, before you become the first person ever to make that joke) and Magnetic Island (how could a boy resist a pull like that?). I also learned that you can fly domestically in Australia without anyone knowing who you are and that you can take bottles of opened booze on the plane with you.

The dark patches, presumably, are the magnets

October (Sydney, Port Stephens)

I’d never heard of the area, but Port Stephens was beautiful — the surprise whale watching tour I went on was incredible. I wish I had a photo of the baby breaching the water, but I don’t. I do have some of mummy waving, so here you go.


November (Fiji, Sydney, Newcastle)

Although Fiji was a lovely overall experience, there isn’t one stand out moment. Something in Sydney wins: watching Cate Blanchett in theatre was great (although I have no idea of the storyline), but my best day in Sydney was going to see the Australian poetry slam final. Here’s my favourite. I have no photos of that event, so here’s a picture of my resort in Fiji.

Not too shabby

December (Sydney, Bristol, London, Copenhagen)

Back in Europe for a few weeks, caught up with a few friends from various stages of life and had a great new year in Copenhagen (more on that soon).

Hogmanay celebrations or a riot?

What did I learn? 2011 was awesome (and about seven hours longer than your typical year). I have no idea what I’m going to do in 2012, I’m not setting goals, but I better do something good or I’ll be back to 2010.

Filed under: life

9 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    Waaaiiit… I was thinking you lost hours by ending up wester than where you started. No, that does mean you gain hours, doesn’t it. I never fail to be impressed with how terrible I am with basic Maths, now I can’t just copy off Chris Bailey like I did in my GCSEs.

    I started at GMT +8 and now I’m at GMT +9, but to be honest there was a lot of back and forth. To even things out, I’ve asked them for an extra day at the end of February this year so I can make sure I’m not being cheated.

    Because I’m interested, I’m going to analyse those yeses and nos now.

    • Oliver says:

      I was sad because I thought 2012 was going to be shorter than the average year for me, but it too will be slightly longer thanks to your incredible negotiating.

  2. Jemma says:

    Oh my god, you’re censoring me! :-/
    How mean 😦

    • Jemma says:

      Did I mention that not only am i not forgotten, but I’m getting 3000 hits a month and am #2 food blogger in Edinburgh? Walkers even sent me some free crisps.

      • Dave says:

        I’m getting nearly 7000 per month now, which is entirely down to some of my posts featuring stolen softcore images of models pretending to be teachers, dressed in attire that would be inappropriate for a real educational establishment.

        My actual travel photos account for 10% of traffic at most. Though obviously no one looks at the ones I actually think are impressive – one of my biggest search hits this month is for ‘horse shit.’

        So there’s a tip if you want to artificially boost your stats and alienate your audience – fetishes and poo. I’m getting sick of it. Once the main offending post exceeds 5000 views this month I’m taking them all down and will enjoy watching my blog fade back into obscurity where it belongs.

  3. Jemma says:

    Dave, I can’t reply directly to your post for some reason (I blame Oliver) but how comes you aren’t getting free press trips and squeezing travel companies for all they’re worth like all of the other travel bloggers out there? I’m not going to name names. Also your travel blog is my FAVOURITE travel blog ever.

    • Dave says:

      It’s not really a travel blog, that’s just what I write about because I’m doing it… if that makes sense. I’m not interested in making it advertiser-friendly either, because I’d probably have to try to write useful content or something – it’s mainly a release valve from all the corporate rubbish I churn out for money, and if anyone does like reading it I don’t want their experience to be ruined by annoying adverts.

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