Days 1,186-1,187: Mount Coo-tha

Sat 31.03.12 – Sun 01.04.12: Literally woke up in the gutter. Well, it was sort of half in the gutter half in a bush. Man that was a big night. Gathering up my belongings like a common vagrant, I headed over to the Brisbane library to finalise everything for my departure on board the Kota Juta on Monday. Only problem was that I got there at 6am and the library didn’t open until 9. I’m thinking this kind of things happen to tramps all the time. I lay back on a concrete plinth in the atrium and fell back asleep. You can do that kind of thing in Australia and not get your things stolen. Nice! Woke up again at 9.15 and sorted what needed to be sorted in order for the sorting to be sorted. This included writing to Hartmann Reederei, a German shipping company…

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Day 1,185: The Man From Del Monte Says…

Fri 30.03.12: The coach arrived in Brisbane’s miserable concrete Roma Street Transport Terminal around noon and I was off like Usian Bolt off the blocks to the library. Air conditioning, free internet and still clinging to the possibility of a ship getting me to Taiwan before April 15, I had work to do. After an hour of scouring the internet, I came across the Holy Grail: A ship. On Monday. Going straight to Keelung in Taiwan. Arriving April 13. And it was owned by – oh joy of joys – PIL. The same owners as the Southern Lily 2, the ship that had happily taken me from Fiji to New Zealand in January. The KOTA JUTA, you are my saviour! Emails went out to everybody I could find who worked for the charterers, an Aussie company called PAE. Within 20 mins I had a call back…

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Day 1,184: Feeding The Crocodile

Thu 29.03.12: Not wanting my trip up to Townsville to be a complete waste of time, Eagle, Sera and Robbie ensured that I at least had some most excellent experiences while up north. Last night I got to feed a freshly killed chicken to a python (called Leia) and today Sera to took me to the Billabong Animal Sanctuary where they all work so I could feed a crocodile Irwin-style. A giant (and I mean GIANT) salty – the biggest and most aggressive crocodiles in the world vs. me with a piece of meat on the end of a stick. Needless to say, the magnificent beast won the day, but not after a couple of minor skirmishes in which I was the victor – teasing the great reptilian with my prowess on the lifty-stick and the fact there was a nice high fence between the two…

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Day 1,183: Nein!

Wed 28.03.12: I can see why they call these coaches ‘luxury’, I mean – the seats recline a whole TWO inches! Amazing!! And the vibration of the window glass no doubt cures no end of ailments. They’re so lush they even give the driver a special pair of cast iron boots on which to gently thump on the brakes whenever he feels like (usually when you’re in the loo). All I can say is that it cost me $184 and it was worth every penny. If pennies were made of rat droppings. When it’s cheaper to drive somewhere on your own in a Hummer than to take ‘public’ transport, the word ‘public’ is nothing more than a shitty lie. The coach of all sorrow arrived in Townsville at around 1pm. I hurried to the internet café – but still no word from the owners of the…

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Day 1,182: North, Miss Tessmacher!

Tue 27.03.12: Crystal had to be up for work at 8am, so that meant I had to be up as well. After dropping me in Fortitude Valley (sounds like an area of Alton Towers) we arranged to meet up at 3pm before the bus left for Townsville. By now I was 95% sure that I’d be hopping on that bus whatever happens today. I slinked my way into a nearby McDonalds to abuse their internet. I had forgotten how painfully slow Aussie internet is. Seriously – it’s faster in Tuvalu. Hell, it’s faster in Nauru. Nevermind, I got to check my emails (I had been so panicky I had got Anna in the UK to check them overnight), but nothing from the ship owners in Germany. I decided to waste some time, so I began to walk from The Valley to the State Library. Had I…

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Day 1,181: How The South Pacific Was Won

26.03.12: The Pacific, south of the equator line, is now complete. Yes, there were a handful of territories – Niue, Tokelau, French Polynesia, Pitcairn & Easter Island – that I skipped, but if the purpose of this adventure is to have great stories to tell the grandkids, I need to finish this quest so I can work on spawning future generations of argumentative scouse dingbats to tell the aforementioned great stories to in the first place. Happily, I did get to visit the French territories of New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna (both of them!) and the US territory of American Samoa, bringing my ‘territory tally’ up to 9. Here’s a rough map I knocked together of the route I took, including ships and dates. Clicky for biggie. MASSIVE THANKS must go to the cargo kings of the Pacific Ocean - Swire, Neptune, PDL, PIL, Reef and…

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Days 1,175-1,180 Ships That Pass In The Night

Tue 20.03.12-Sun 25.03.12: We’ve got a new captain, Captain Bob, originally from North Liverpool. Old guy, smokes like a chimney. I’m three floors down and I can smell it through the air conditioning. For some reason, Captain Bob supports Man United. Well, to be fair he did leave Liverpool when he was five and back in his day Manchester United were about as successful as a rapper with a lisp, so at least you can’t accuse him of being a glory-hunter. With a flurry of activity that seemed almost impolite for somewhere as laid back as the South Pacific, the loading operation finished a day early, on the evening of the 20th. This means that there is a very good chance that I’ll be getting into Brisbane – you guessed it – just BEFORE the Cap Serrat is due to depart. I’ll probably see it in…

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Days 1,171-1,174: An Express Elevator to Hell!

Fri 16.03.12 - Mon 19.03.12 We left Nauru at around 7pm, and I was disappointed that customs didn’t come back on board before we set sail. I would have liked a Nauru stamp in my passport, but hey-ho. There’s a number of countries that I haven’t got entry or exit stamps for, including every country in the EU, so it’s not something that keeps me awake at night. As we drew our course west towards the setting sun I looked back over Nauru. There can be no doubt that this country, like so many others in the world, would have been better off if there were no natural resources for The West to plunder. 100 years of high-grade phosphate mining and nothing, NOTHING to show for it... except a ruined interior, periods of man-made drought and tons of scrap metal littering the countryside. This is the…

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Day 1,170: What Next?

Thu 15.03.12: With any luck and despite the lengthy delays here in Nauru and last week in Kiribati, the Scarlett Lucy should be back in Brisbane by Saturday March 24. Behind the scenes, my girlfriend/PA Mandy has been squirreling away trying to get me on board the Cap Serrat, a Hamburg Sud operated cargo ship that leaves Brissy on March 25. If successful, that ship will get me to Taiwan for April 4, giving me a few days before (hopefully) one of the Mariana Express ships heads off to Micronesia and Palau on April 8. At this stage of the journey, to knock two countries of the list – 33% of what remains – in one boat trip will be immense. There is then a PIL ship that leaves from Hong Kong on a regular basis that could possibly take me to Sri Lanka, via Singapore…

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Day 1,169: The Smallest Parliament in the World

Wed 14.03.12: Nauru has no natural harbour: its smooth potato-like shape does not offer the world any nooks or crannies to slip your vessel into. So like in Tarawa when some git has bagsied the only parking space, we have to park our craft out to sea. But unlike Tarawa, once you’re clear of the coastal shelf here in Nauru, it’s 300 metres straight down to the sea floor: so we can’t drop anchor. Instead there are set up a few mooring buoys. That’s pronounced ‘boys’, not ‘boo-ees’, America! These float on the surface like people who crossed the Don and have big long metal chains which fix them to the bottom of the ocean. There are two possible mooring positions in Nauru: one is for the phosphate ship that comes in very close to the coastal shelf and then has the phosphate poured into it…

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