Journages

Journals of Voyages in Conscious Travel & Lifestyle

Author: Anna (page 1 of 5)

Sydney share bikes

All of a sudden over the last month or two, hundreds of dockless share bikes have appeared around Sydney. They’re super easy to use and a great way to do small trips as they tend to be free or very cheap. In fact we haven’t spent a cent on them so far cycling to the beach and back in Bondi. I’m all about the sharing economy so think it’s great share bikes have become so widespread and accessible.

Share bikes at Bondi Beach

Share bikes at Bondi Beach

I’d encourage anyone visiting Sydney to use them to explore where it’s not too hilly or busy. Cycling is a great speed to see things by, and all the bike brands have baskets on the front to chuck your bag in. I’m so excited about them it’s prompted me to blog for the first time in 2018 after ages of silence!!

The four key companies for share bikes in Sydney

Ofo

This is my favourite brand by far and they have the most bikes from what we’ve seen. They ride well, the seat height is adjustable (Bobby still finds them too small) Somehow we’ve never paid for a ride so far. The app is super simple to use with no deposit.

How to use Ofo

1. Download Ofo app
2. Find a bike on the map
3. Unlock & ride!

An Ofo bike on the streets of Bondi

An Ofo bike on the streets of Bondi

Reddy Go

These were the first we tried in Sydney. We cycled to the city from Bondi (not advisable!) and found them too slow and hard to ride for such a distance, with bad brakes.They’re also very small even with the seat raised. I’m 5.8” and Bobby is 6.3” and we both found them small. They also rarely have helmets, and the $69 deposit is off-putting.

Mobike

There aren’t so many of these around the eastern suburbs and I haven’t tried them yet.

OBike

I haven’t used these in Sydney but the ones in Melbourne worked fine. I rarely see them with helmets.

Ofo bikes collecting outside our house

Ofo bikes collecting outside our house in North Bondi

The fact the bikes don’t need docking allows so much freedom as you just leave them anywhere there’s space. Some hooligans have hurled bikes off cliffs but this is very rare, and most are parked sensibly. Melbourne has had O Bike for a while now, but when I lived there in 2014 they had to be docked in racks, like the share bikes in London. This was a bit limiting as you had to find a rack to return them. Not great if you don’t live near one.

Share bike helmets should be lockable, duh!

One issue with all the bike sharing companies is that the bikes are often missing the helmets. They need to find a way to make fixing the helmets mandatory, eg requiring the helmet to be re-attached to end the ride, using some sort of clip. The Ofo brand tend to have the most bikes with helmets.

One of the few things I don’t like about Sydney is it’s not very bike-friendly. This is partly due to the hills, and some driver’s attitude towards cyclists. So the share bikes are a step in the right direction making cycling easier in short trips, and taking pressure off the transport system.

Lady Musgrave Island

One of the highlights of sailing the East Coast of Australia was Lady Musgrave Island, a coral cay on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, about 2.5 hours out from Bundaberg, Queensland by boat. We reached the island towards the end of our trip.

I’d wangled a free month-long sailing trip via Gumtree after posting to see if anyone needed crew or to find other travellers to team up with to hire a boat.

Approaching the idyllic flat white sand of Lady Musgrave island and seeing the crystal clear blue water with turquoise patches was so exciting! Sea water always seems such an amazing colour on coral reefs. The variation in the different colours of the water is incredible with stripes of pure turquoise then every depth of blue you can imagine.

Rick had been telling me about this island very enthusiastically, and from someone who had done so much sailing to be so excited about somewhere made me think it must be pretty special.

We anchored quite far out so as not to damage the coral, and kayaked to the shore rather than taking the tender boat.

Lady Musgrave Beach

Wandering along the hot sand felt strange after rocking up in just a bikini with no bag, when everyone else was kitted out with backpacks and sandals etc. I’d only brought my camera in a waterproof bag. (check out Rick’s wonky photography skills below!)

Wandering through the middle of Lady Musgrave island it’s shaded by pisonia trees; unusual scrubby tangled trees. There were hundreds of pretty smooth-looking black and white birds I’d never seen before called ‘Noddies’ nesting in the branches.

Noddie Lady Musgrave Island

The ground was covered with bird shit there were so many of them! One of the signs said the poor birds sometimes get stuck in the sticky pisonia branches and die!!

Pisonia trees Lady Musgrave Beach

The island had a few people wandering around but not many. I always found it a strange feeling when sailing, after not seeing other people for days or weeks, to suddenly be in some sort of civilisation. I often felt like some kind of pirate invading the island.

Lady Musgrave Lighthouse

It didn’t take long to walk to the other side of the island where there was a lighthouse!

Climbing Lady Musgrave Lighthouse

After much persuasion from Rick and wobbliness from fear of heights I climbed to the top and the view was incredible!

Lady Musgrave Island Turtle

Turtle!

Looking out over the turquoise waters of Lady Musgrave beach we could see huge sea turtles and rays swimming through the crystal clear water below.

View Lady Musgrave Lighthouse

We walked back to the other side of Lady Musgrave Island before the sun set. After swimming back to the boat, I rushed in to the water with a snorkel and fins to see the amazing coral and tropical coloured fish before it got too late. It was the second-best snorkelling I remember ever (after Minicoy on the Lakshadweep islands) with an abundance of coral and fish.

Lady Musgrave Beach

Something about the colours of the coral – mustard, mauve and coral pink (of course) – reminded me of a Bond film. The palette was very 1950s, reminiscent of the Bond films where they’re diving, and the enormous fish tank of Dr No on his underwater island. I made a mental note to make a painting of the colours, which I still must do!

Eagle Lady Musgrave

At dusk we saw jumping fish just off the island, which is apparently a sign of sharks, as the fish are trying to escape being eaten. A little worrying after I’d been snorkelling for hours. But apparently, they’d only be reef sharks which aren’t dangerous. I always felt fairly confident in Rick’s judgement of these things given he’d done so many years of diving and sailing.

This was the last island we visited before a very long stretch to our final stop of Fraser Island. It sounds ungrateful but by that stage I was over it. Sick of being on a boat with Rick, of long stretches with nothing to do but look out over the sea or lie on the deck. I was craving an art gallery, a frappe and some intellectual conversation with people who knew and understood me. So I pushed Rick to continue sailing so we’d get to Hervey Bay, and ultimately Brisbane where my friends were, sooner.

Lady Musgrave sunset

It turned out to be a bad move, as we were long beyond phone signal, and very, very far out at sea. There was a severe weather warning and we saw a dark threatening cloud rolling in on the horizon. I was scared and regretted rushing. After sundown, we ended up having to drop anchor out at sea. I would have continued steering while Rick went to sleep, but he wasn’t confident leaving me to navigate (god knows where we may have ended up!)

It was a different anchor with a long rope instead of a chain for this exposed situation. I hadn’t fully understood that once we set off we were very far from any land on this last stretch, so anchoring was different. I remember letting the anchor down and it just kept on going and going and going into the dark depths of the ocean. The thought of how far the seabed was below us was pretty sobering. I got very little sleep that night as there was a violent storm. By this point I’d given up fearing the boat would capsize, but being that far out at sea alone was daunting. The next morning, I was emotional and tired. I remember a pod of dolphins appeared and jumped in front of the boat for ages. In my emotional state, I thought they knew we were in danger and were guiding us to safety. More storms were forecast with severe weather warnings.

 

 

Worrowing Eco Hut Jervis Bay

Worrowing eco hut is a set amongst eucalyptus trees a five minute drive from Jervis Bay. It’s part of a collection of eco accommodation in partially cleared bush land.

Worrowing

I’ve been craving some time in nature for a while. I want to visit more eco accommodation near Sydney on weekends to get inspiration for my own future eco house and accommodation. I’m still not decided on the materials or location so I figured the more I visit the more I’ll get an idea of what I’d like. Bobby looked online for eco accommodation near Sydney and found Worrowing Eco Hut near Jervis Bay, which seemed like a good location for both beach and bush. We drove over from Sydney after work on Friday in about 3 hours.

Worrowing Eco Hut

It was so nice to be somewhere quiet surrounded by nature. Tame kangaroos hang out in groups all around the hut and seem super chilled out. We saw cute little birds outside while sitting in the spa bath.  The hut is surrounded by woods and we went for a walk through one afternoon and found some strange abandoned items among the trees including a creepy clown mask, a burned out car, an old washing machine, office chair and other obscure stuff!

One night in the hut we were cooking dinner and the windows got pretty steamed up, so I opened the sliding doors and a possum ran in from the deck! He’d obviously been waiting right outside the door as he’d smelled dinner cooking. He took a quick look around, saw my toe and thought it might be dinner then took a bite to see!! Luckily it wasn’t a hard bite.

Possum Worrowing

After dinner we lit a fire in the fire pit in front of the deck and sat and drank wine and listened to music with the sketchy wifi. The stars were amazing against the clear dark country sky. It was fairly chilly outside but inside the hut it stayed warm!

Worrowing Eco Hut View

I’m not sure what warrants the name ‘eco’ hut. There were no obvious eco features other than the reclaimed door. It’s certainly surrounded by nature though. The hut seemed fairly well insulated which was good given its getting chilly now. It’s odd that the eco hut has an electric heater while other huts had wood fires… Wood is renewable whereas electric generally isn’t.

Eco hut kitchen

The location is great being in the woods so close to the amazing blue waters of Jervis Bay, an ideal weekend getaway from Sydney. The website describes the hut as “Crafted from recycled and natural timbers, corrugated iron and fitted with full panel glass slide away doors, the Eco Hut blends into it’s surrounds. Listen for the Yellow Belly Gliders, Barking and rare Powerful Owls that often pay a visit from neighbouring Jervis Bay National Park and Booderee National Park.”

Jervis Bay

How Tiny Houses Give Financial Freedom

So, you could put your savings into a mortgage and work the rest of your life to pay it off, or build a tiny house – a small cheap sustainable home – and have heaps of time to do what the hell you want, with very few living costs. Ummmm let me think…

According to a documentary I watched called ‘Small Is beautiful’, tiny houses tend to be under 300 sq feet, and they’re often on a trailer so they can move around. The tiny house ‘movement’ has become so big there are whole networks and communities based around it.

tiny house bed

 

An Aussie startup called Unyoked hooks people up with trendy tiny holiday homes (above). You know the kind – glamorous sheds (there’s an oxymoron!) with wood-panelled walls, a few scandy-lookin’ furniture items, a succulent plant, some nice art on the wall…they’re kind of glorified contemporary caravans or trailer homes. I love them!

“Tiny house living is about living in and out” according to one of the tiny house owners on the doco. In warm climates you can just expand your living area to include the space surrounding the house. The freedom to move around is a real draw…you could escape the winter and move north, or make use of land while it’s available….or do house sits.

Tiny Holiday House exterior

Life of freedom or lifetime of mortgage?

I suspect the real appeal beyond their cute size is in the financial freedom tiny houses represent. They’re a major life hack. One of the biggest financial burdens we have is the ongoing cost of living. Most of us only really work full time in order to pay our rent or mortgage. It feels like the odds are stacked against us in expensive cities like London and Sydney. We spend most of our lives working to save for, then pay off a mortgage.

The cost of a traditional bricks and mortar house including materials and labour is sky high, even if done independently. Tiny houses are part of a growing disruptive movement in construction and housing. Mod houses, kit houses, pre-fabricated and even self-‘printing’ houses built by robots are bringing quicker and cheaper options.

Tiny House Interior

 

Once you have a place to live which you own, you have a lot of freedom. Unless you have very expensive tastes or a big family, you probably don’t need to work full time. This is part of the reason I’m so interested in eco houses. Once you tick the major ‘need’ boxes – house, power generation, food, you hugely reduce the amount you need to earn. And hence the time you spend working. You therefore have a lot more freedom to spend time as you please. I’d use the time to create multiple revenue streams such as freelance digital marketing, painting and setting up eco accomodation to rent out.

If you think about what you need from a home, it’s actually the functionality and location that’s most important. Somewhere to sleep, cook and hang out that keeps you warm and dry. Tiny houses can be key to real freedom, both financial and time-wise.

Tiny houses are ideal for slow travel and digital nomadism

Imagine being able to travel around with all the comforts of staying in your own home! It makes slow travel a lot more achievable, staying in different places for long periods. If you have a location independent job it would be ideal. The tiny house movement is like a modern re-invention of being semi-nomadic…hipster gypsies! It’s fascinating sociologically and seems like the start of a real shift in how we live to more sustainable, affordable and adaptable means.

tiny house on wheels

Tiny designer houses

The beauty of tiny houses is that they can be nicely decorated with minimalist principles and a few quality items. Not many people would be tempted to live in a smelly old shed or skanky trailer. The increasing availability and exposure of cool aesthetically pleasing tiny houses is speeding up the movement. There are some great examples of beautifully kitted out tiny houses which make the whole idea far more aspirational.

KODA tiny house

 Building vs buying a tiny house

Imagine designing and building your own tiny home exactly as you want it. There would be so much satisfaction once it’s done. When it comes to building it would not be straightforward but obviously that’s part of the reward; designing your own living space and seeing the end result. I kind of like the idea of living in a small simple kit home or premade one just to try it first then I’d know what I want.

But the idea of a custom home that’s been lovingly crafted from wood isn’t comparable to a pre-fab chip-board jobby… I guess both have pros and cons. A happy sustainable medium is what’s needed. Perhaps a customisable pre-fab option.

One of the tiny home owners in the doco explains “Knowing they’ve built it they know how to fix it. Buying a second-hand RV it could go wrong” 

A master craftman in Japan built an amazing tiny home on wheels from wood. Explaining his choice of material he said “plastic and other man-made materials create unnecessary garbage. Garbage that can’t be returned to nature becomes an unnecessary burden on future generations.  “It’s important to me to use materials that don’t create unnecessary garbage for future generations.” Nicely put!

He designed it so it feels like the outside environment comes into the living space. The whole thing opens up so it doesn’t feel small.

Do tiny houses need to be so small?

The size makes the homes portable, cheaper and easier to manage. A tiny home owner from the ‘Small is beautiful’ doco explains how she likes knowing where stuff is. There’s also a freedom from owning less in line with minimalist principles.

tiny house
However, I wonder if living in a confined space would drive you (and whoever you lived with) crazy. Adapted versions of tiny house living seem more compelling than living solo in a tiny home. A community with different communal areas as well as private. For example perhaps a few communal kitchens and living areas like the open air kitchens in Bali….and separate outdoor bathrooms for each house.

I have always loved the idea of trying out living in a tiny home. I mean, I sort of did it when living in a basic hut in outback Australia for three months a while back, and loved it. I do wonder if other building methods could offer similar rewards but more space though. An ideal set-up for me would be to own some land with all the infrastructure, a few buildings and a garden, where I could keep a tiny home and up and leave when I feel like it, renting out the other spaces.

As one tiny home owner says “There’s a hook in there that attracts people… Frees them up for what they wanna do in life”

A friend of a friend of mine has built a tiny home on a trailer up in Canberra, and I’m super keen to go and check it out.

Watch this space…

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