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Miss Sheardown's Adventures!

Hi everyone! I'm really happy to be using this page to keep a blog and photo record of my travelling adventures! Below is a world map with each of the different countries I will be visiting highlighted. I'll be aiming to update my blog every couple of weeks or so - or as soon as I reach an area with WiFi! I'm so glad to be able to share this experience with you, and take a little piece of Navenby across the world with me... x

Bali - October 2016 (2 weeks)
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Post 1 - Beautiful Bali

Hi everybody! Hope you've had a fabulous first term back at school! I've certainly been keeping myself busy over here! Although I've only been away from home for just over two weeks now, so much has happened that it feels much longer.

The first stop along my journey was to an island called Bali, just less than half the size of England. It's an incredibly hot place; the average daily temperature was 31°C, so it was an instant change from the UK! I began my trip with 4 days in one of the main cities, an area known as Ubud, where a particular highlight was watching a traditional 'fire dance' - where the performers danced on top of flaming coconuts! I also visited the sacred monkey forest, where over 600 monkeys roam free around you - and they're really quite tame (see pictures below!)

I then met up with a group, who I would be spending the next week with to travel around the island, which included people from America, Switzerland and Germany. One of my biggest challenges so far has been climbing an active volcano! I set off at 3.30am at the base of the volcano, and climbed for just over 2 hours, reaching the summit ready for sunrise. The views from the top were breathtaking - check out the slideshow below to see! Also this week I got the opportunity to go snorkelling off a small island north-west of Bali. I saw such an array of species, fish of all colours, shapes and sizes, including some clownfish living in a sea anemone! I also got quite sunburnt - I'll try not to make that mistake again!

Next up I'm jetsetting off to Western Australia, where I'll be picking up a camper van and driving the coast road for 5 weeks - keep checking back for the next post! xx

 

 

 
Western Australia - October & November 2016 (6 weeks)
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The above photo shows my rough route down the West coast!

 

Post 2 - Into the wilderness...

Wow - what a change to Bali! Arriving here in the northern territory of Australia all I can see is red dust all around! Whilst even hotter than Bali, at around 35°C every day, it is a completely different landscape. Hardly any plants or animals around except for insects, and not many people either! On Thursday 20th October I collected my camper van from Darwin, in the top of Australia towards the middle, and began driving down, heading for Perth over the course of the next five weeks.

Over the last few weeks there has been A LOT of driving, over 3000 miles so far! I've driven through many National Parks along the way, in which temperatures get up to 50°C during the summer months of December and January, so have had some very short walks through those! My second stop on the journey south was at a place called Lake Argyle. This vast lake contains over 30,000 freshwater crocodiles - which I had a swim with! But don't worry, it's the saltwater variety that might be interested in having a little nibble on you, not the freshwater crocs! 

Some other highlights of the west coast so far have been visiting a crocodile rescue park (in which I was within reach of some 5 metre long saltwater crocodiles!), swimming the crystal clear waters of Turquoise Bay and visiting the Carnarvon Space and Technology museum, which played a role in the Apollo 11 mission to the moon!

A little further down the west I headed into Shark Bay, where I visited a place called Monkey Mia where the dolphins were swimming around my ankles! I've also seen a bright pink lagoon (naturally coloured due to some small vibrant creatures living within it), some sharks and turtles up close, and have visited an old convicts gaol and the Museum of Western Australia. 

Next up I'll be heading into the southern region where the Great White Sharks live!

Hopefully you're getting my postcards and I'll be in touch again soon. In the meantime check out the pictures below! xx

Post 3 - The Search for the City...

So after many more hours of driving I've finally reached the southern area of western Australia! Since my last blog post I've driven from Kalbarri to Albany, and then all the way back to Perth - hopefully you can see those on the map a little further up the page! I've seen some incredible things along the way, from the fantastic Museum of Western Australia, to a wonderful exhibition about Tutankhamen (not very Australian but still thoroughly interesting!) and many, many vineyards! A real highlight occurred last Thursday (10th November) when I visited Rottnest Island. This rugged, craggy island is home to quokkas, an adorable little smiley creature, and is one of the final places you will now find them in the wild. Check out the pictures below to see some! I've also visited an eagle sanctuary, and learnt some amazing facts about different birds of prey. Did you know a barn owl can hear a mouse having a scratch over 30 feet away? Amazing!

Whilst in a place near Denmark (still Australia, not Europe!) I also had the opportunity to visit the 'Valley of the Giants'. This is a 40-metre high platform suspended in the treetops where you walk above the forest. The pictures below really don't do it justice; it was an unforgettable experience. After all of these adventures I have finished off Western Australia in Perth, the capital city. It feels slightly strange to be in a bustling city after over a month of wilderness and small towns, but a welcome change nonetheless. My camper van has now unfortunately been returned and I'm back to relying on buses and my own two feet, but I'm ready for the next adventure which awaits in eastern Australia and Tasmania. Catch up again soon! xx

Tasmania - December 2016 (2 weeks)

Post 4 - Watch out for the Tasmanian Devil!

Well I've made it to Tasmania! It's vastly different from western Australia, it's like a little England - but warmer! It's green, hilly and full of winding country roads! Around 11% (which doesn't seem much, but really is quite a lot) is covered in rainforest, meaning you get some beautiful animals living here! My highlights from these past two weeks have been visiting a seahorse sanctuary, seeing Wineglass Bay (voted as one of the world's best beaches) and seeing some spectacular caves, waterfalls and lakes. 

Whilst I've been here I have also of course visited a Tasmanian Devil centre. I didn't really know much about these creatures at all before visiting here, but they're certainly not as scary as you might imagine! Named 'devils' because of a horrible screeching sound they sometimes make, they can be quite vicious - especially at feeding time - but really they look quite sweet! Unfortunately I don't have any pictures to show you at the moment as my external hard drive has broken. I'm hoping to get it fixed to get my photos back, but that was going to cost me over £500 over here so maybe I'll wait until I get home! 

It's almost Christmas time now, I hope you're all getting excited! Speak soon! xx

Eastern Australia - December 2016 to February 2017 (10 weeks)

Post 5 - Marvellous Melbourne!

Hi again everybody! It's mid-December now, but it certainly doesn't feel like that for me; it's about 30°C every day! I've had a wonderful last few days as I've spent some time with one of my closest friends from back home! She is Australian but had been living in England, and has now returned here. We've had 3 great days visiting the Eureka Skydeck 88 (where you shoot up a whopping 88 floors in 30 seconds in a lift to look out over the city), visited some local markets and explored lots of the city's shopping malls! 

In my own time I've also visited the spectacular Shrine of Remembrance, taken a long riverside walk all through the city and admired some of the city's most beautiful Christmas decorations! From here I'll be travelling to Canberra, the capital of Australia, where I'm hoping to visit the Australian War Museum, voted Australia's most spectacular building - even over the Sydney Opera House! I'll post some pictures and you can see what you think! Hope you're all well, not many more sleeps until Santa comes! xx

Post 6 - The Great Ocean Road...

Just before leaving Melbourne I decided to take a trip along The Great Ocean Road. This stretch of road heads west out of Melbourne along the south of Australia. My journey would take me about 200 miles west to see all manner of things - all in one day! One wonderful sight I saw was some wild koalas, I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities for me to see koalas in zoos and sanctuaries as I continue to travel, but seeing them in the wild was even more special. They are incredibly lazy creatures, sleeping up to 20 hours per day! So I did well to catch one whilst it was awake for a picture! The main highlight of this day tour was to visit a place in Australia called The 12 Apostles. This is a very famous tourist hotspot in Australia where you can see 12 stacks off the coast. The stacks have been formed over thousands upon thousands of years of the sea crashing against the land, forming caves which have turned into archways and then land formations called stacks. There's a little diagram in the photos section below which might make it a bit clearer! These stacks ('The 12 Apostles') are so famous for their age, but also because of the beautiful turquoise waters which surround them. Take a look at the photos below, this has been one of my most tiring and yet best days so far! xx

Post 7 - Canberra, Australia's Capital

Hello everyone! I've spent the last couple of days here in Canberra exploring the capital city before I leave for Sydney tomorrow. It's a place that a lot of people who travel Australia miss, but I'm so glad I stopped off here!

The real attraction of coming here was the Australian War Museum and Memorial. As you may have seen in a previous blog post this building has been voted Australia's most impressive landmark, which most people probably consider to be the Sydney Opera House! I thought I might just spend an hour or so here, but it ended up being about 3 hours! I went on a free guided tour for an hour and a half, learning all about Australia's role in WW1, WW2 and more recent conflicts. I also saw the magnificent shrine area (one of the world's largest mosaics) and the Roll of Honour, which lists the names of all Australians who have given their lives in service for their country. Over 60,000 names - very moving to see. After my tour I also stayed behind for The Last Post Service. This is something you will have experienced in our fab Remembrance Day assemblies led by Mrs Woolsey and Forces Club, but it is done daily here. Each day they tell the story of one of the 60,000 men or women, lay a wreath and The Last Post is played. It was a very touching service. I would recommend anyone who has the chance to visit Canberra to come here! xx

Post 8 - A Very Curious Christmas!

I arrived in Sydney on Wednesday 21st December, one of my main stops along the east coast, and I've been here for the last few days over the festive period. Christmas over here is very different to Christmas back home! It certainly didn't feel the same. For starters it's been around 30°C every day! The streets and shopping malls still have Christmas decorations, and people still buy each other presents, but it's certainly not as much of an occasion as in England. 

My Christmas day was a little different too! No presents to open, no Christmas tree, no family and friends to celebrate with! However, I did have a go at making a Christmas dinner and watched a Christmas movie on Netflix! I've had a great time exploring the city, heading out on 2 free walking tours (5 hours in total!), doing a little shopping and visiting The Blue Mountains which had some incredible views!

I will be spending New Years Eve here, which is a huge celebration, and Josh and I will be meeting up with some friends who we will be travelling with for the next 2 months! Very exciting! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends, and have had a peaceful school holiday. Love Miss Sheardown xx 

Post 9 - Welcome to 2017!

This year I celebrated New Years Eve amongst 1.5 million other people! I went to a special event for the evening called the Sydney Harbour Hoopla which had an amazing view of the fireworks, as I was nestled just next to the Sydney Opera House, overlooking the famous Harbour Bridge. The evening began about 6pm and had a circus theme, so there was lots to keep occupied with! There were circus skills workshops, wacky photo booths and lots of live performers to watch. There were 2 sets of fireworks, firstly at 9pm for families with young children, and the main firework show at midnight to ring in the new year. The atmosphere was unbelievable, and the firework display has to be the best I've ever seen. If anyone's interested, I've added the link to the firework show below so you can have a look for yourselves!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2tZcSNnNLY

 

I hope everyone had a wonderful time, whether you stayed up all night or slept soundly as the clocks changed! Happy New Year everyone! xx

Post 10 - Town Hopping...

After the hustle and bustle of Sydney, I decided to stop off at 3 smaller towns before heading to the next major tourist hotspot of Byron Bay. The first of these was Newcastle, for which I had one specific purpose - to visit Irukandji. Irukandji is a type of jellyfish, but in this case it is the name of a sealife centre where you can swim with sharks and stingrays! 

I have to admit I was a little nervous before entering the water, but once I was in there it was a wonderful experience! I got to stroke and hand-feed the animals which was incredible. I also learnt lots of facts about conservation in and around Australia, and some quite shocking facts about how many sharks are being lost each year and the devastating effects this is having on the ocean - in effect, jellyfish are taking over! 

After Newcastle I headed to the two small towns of Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour, where my highlights where watching some local people performing parkour stunts into the ocean from a pier, visiting a Koala Hospital (check out the adorable photos below!) and visiting a Clog Barn, where I watched a bizarre demonstration about how to make these traditional wooden Dutch shoes! Weird yet wonderful! My next stop will be Byron Bay, a medium-sized town famous for it's beaches where I'll be trying my hand at surfing! Wish me luck! xx

 

Post 11 - Byron Bay & Surfer's Paradise

These last 10 days or so have been very relaxed! In Byron Bay I had my first ever surf lesson, which was hard work! It was 3 hours long, and about half way through I was getting very tired! The sea was quite rough, but I did manage to stand up and ride a wave which was the ultimate aim! It was great fun, but I think I'm more cut out for bodyboarding really! Most of the time here I've spent on the beach, either swimming or bodyboarding - but watching out for the jellyfish! 

I've also seen a beautiful sunrise from the Cape Byron lighthouse, Australia's most easterly point. I'm now moving on to Brisbane, which takes me about half way up the east coast of Australia. I'll be here for a week, and hope to meet up with an old friend from home! The temperature is rising the higher I go too...thank goodness for air conditioning! xx

Post 12 - Brisbane Bound!

This week I've been living a little bit more like back home! Rather than staying in a hostel with lots of other travellers, I've been renting an apartment which has been lovely! I've spent the last 7 days in Brisbane, one of eastern Australia's major cities. Upon arriving I headed straight for the swimming pool, and was joined for a dip by a water dragon! 

Some other highlights from my week have been a 3 hour walking tour of the city (a little bit warm in 35°C heat!), visiting the Brisbane museum and Gallery of Modern Art. 

I've had two stand-out experiences whilst I've been here though, firstly meeting up with an old friend from England who has been living here for a year, and secondly visiting Australia Zoo! The zoo was one of the best I've been to - I saw:

giant tortoises, otters, koalas, alpacas, a komodo dragon, cassowaries, dingoes, all manner of snakes, lemurs, birds, kangaroos, wallabies, wetland birds, echidnas, rhinos, giraffes, snapping turtles, red pandas and lots and lots of crocodiles! 

The real highlight though was watching a play session of some tiger cubs that they had at the zoo. Despite being 10 months old and looking fully grown, they were still as playful as puppies! Check out the photos below to see some of the animals (don't worry, the leopard isn't chained up, he was on a lead going for a walk!). Hope you're all doing well, catch up again soon :) xx

Post 13 - Spotting Wildlife & Exploring Fraser Island

Over the last week or so I've been staying in Noosa - a place which really reminds me of Byron Boy (just a few posts back). Whilst most of my time has been spent on the beach, I also did a fantastic coastal walk during which I spotted some Australian marine life. There were dolphins (who were a bit too quick for the camera!), sea turtles (check out the picture below!) as well as lots of fish, jellyfish and a couple of huge manta rays! 

More recently, I just finished up a trip on Fraser Island, a huge sand island off Australia's coast at Hervey Bay. Here I spent 3 days finding hidden lakes, hiking and trying my hand at paddle boarding! It's been an incredibly busy time and I've met loads of new people from all over the world! I imagine you're all getting ready for half term now - I hope you've all got some exciting plans, and maybe you're visiting new places too! Catch up soon! xx

Post 14 - The Whitsunday Islands

Wow - what can I say about my last 3 days here Down Under! I've been on a sailing trip around The Whitsunday Islands, a cluster of 74 islands, of which only 5 are home to holiday resorts (and very expensive ones at that!). During my 3 days aboard the vessel 'Boomerang', I've visited the world-famous Whitehaven Beach, renowned for it's pure white sands, been to two fantastic snorkelling spots, and watched an incredibly sunset from the middle of the ocean. On my snorkelling trips I was lucky enough to see a trigger fish, some puffer fish and parrotfish - all of which were beautiful colourful! Next week I'll be heading off to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, so I'm interested to see how it compares to here! xx

Post 15 - Magnetic Island, Cairns & Cape Tribulation

Hi everybody! My final 2 weeks in Australia have been incredibly busy, and looking through the class pages it seems that yours have been too! Since my last post, my next main stop was Magnetic Island. This island off the coast from the city of Townsville is a hotspot for travellers thanks to it's Koala Village & Sanctuary, and beautiful beaches and bays. The real highlight for me was indeed visiting the Koala Village, where not only did I learn a lot about koalas, but they're also treating some of the other island residents there too, check out the pictures below to meet the adorable snake I met named Darwin!

Next up I visited Cairns for a few days, the northernmost city on the east coast, and where most travellers finish up. Whilst here, I got to carry out an amazing snorkelling day trip of the Great Barrier Reef, which are there are lots of pictures of below! I saw a stingray and a trumpet fish on this trip which were firsts for me, along with loads of other beautiful species of fish and coral reef. I've also visited the Atherton Tablelands, a region of waterfalls slightly inland. I even got to swim into some of the pools gathered at the base - and let me tell you, that water is cold! 

One of my last trips in Australia however has to be one of the best. North of Cairns lies the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest rainforest in the world. This area is over 180 million years old, compared to the Amazon which is just 10 million years old! So it's fair to say there are some very unusual and interesting sights to behold up there! My greatest experience though was going crocodile spotting. For this I went out on a boat on the Daintree River, which snakes its way through the forest. It's a tricky time of year for spotting crocs as the water is so warm so they don't need to come onto the banks to bask and heat up (did you know they can hold their breath for up to 7 hours?),  but I was very fortunate and found some. Check out the snaps (!) below! 

The next leg of my journey will take me to Fiji, a group of over 300 islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and will be a brand new experience again. I'm sad to be leaving Australia, it's been a bit of a home from home for the last 4 and a half months, but I'm ready for what lies ahead! xx

Fiji - March 2017 (2 weeks)

Post 16 - Island Hopping Around Fiji

Hi everyone! It's been a couple of weeks since my last blog post, and lots has happened in that time! I hope you've been getting my postcards and that everything's going well for all of you. I've been busy hopping around some of the Fijian Islands, and it has certainly been different to Australia! At many of the places I've stayed there has only been electricity for certain hours every day, no phone signal or wifi, and not a lot going on other than sun, sea and sand! I have however been snorkelling a few times, which has given me some memories to last a lifetime! On my first snorkelling trip, there were some huge manta rays in the water with us, around 2.5 - 3 metres wide! They were beautiful! So graceful and gentle considering their size! Later on on a different island I also got to swim with reef sharks! They weren't shy either, coming right up to me! There are some pictures below for you to check out.

Whilst here I've also visited a Fijian village community to see how the local people live. They don't have electricity, one tank of drinkable water for the whole village and spend their time catching their dinner from the ocean, cooking it over a fire and making traditional shell jewellery. It was a very humbling place to visit, and really reminded me of how blessed we are to have so many luxuries back in England. I'm sure you'll feel the same if you have a look through the pictures below.

My time here has flown by, and on March 14th I'll be flying over to New Zealand for lots of beautiful scenery and a slightly cooler climate! The adventure continues! Thinking of you all, Miss Sheardown xx

Post 17 - New Zealand's North Island!

Hi everyone! Sorry it's been a little while since my last blog post, the wifi here hasn't been the best! It's now the end of March and I'm just finishing up my 15 days on the wonderful north island of New Zealand. Where to begin! Well, I started off in Auckland, a city very much like London with just over a million people living there - a quarter of New Zealand's total population! This gave me time to stock up on some warmer clothes before heading off exploring - it's much cooler here. 

My first stop was a place called Cape Reinga, the most northerly point of New Zealand where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean; you could even see the dividing line! Already the scenery here is absolutely breathtaking. As I continued down, I stopped off at a fascinating place called Waitomo. Here I went 'black water rafting'. This involved wearing a thick wetsuit and rafting down the waters in a series of underground caves! Have a look for some pictures below. It was pitch black, eerily quiet and freezing cold in those caves, but thankfully I was kept company by the thousands of glow worms that live in these caves and light up the roof like the night sky!

My next stop was at an unusual place called Hot Water Beach. Here, there are some natural volcanic hot springs sitting just underneath the surface, meaning if you dig a hole in the beach you can create your own hot bath to sit in! It was a very strange experience! 

There is a lot of geothermal activity in the north island of New Zealand. This means that there are lots of cracks and gaps in the ground where hot steam coming from inside the earth escapes. Sometimes this steam or hot flowing water gently flows out, whereas in other places it shoots from the ground in what is known as a 'geyser'. Have a look at some photos below! They certainly are beautiful to look at, but a lot of them contain something called sulphur, meaning they smell like rotten eggs! 

Last week I decided to do something more adventurous, and signed up to do some white water rafting! This was very nerve-wracking, slipping and sliding all over rocks and waterfalls and some very fast flowing water! Have a look at the pictures - I'm sure you can tell how I was feeling from my facial expression! It was great fun though.

Lastly for the last couple of days I've been in the capital city of Wellington where I've been visiting some of the filming locations for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I even got to go to the workshop where they make all of the prosthetics and movie props, you might see a few things you recognise in the photos below! 

I'm now heading over to the south island on a ferry where I'm hoping to do lots more adventurous activities - keep your eyes out for the next post! :) xx


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