A Travellerspoint blog

Helicopter Ride

sunny 28 °C

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Friday was a great end to the week. It was a beautiful, sunny, 5 knott day, and my last day of training on the Quicksilver VIII vessel.

Part of my job on board the vessel is to sell to passengers other packages and tours the Quicksilver company offers. In doing so, us hostees obviously have to experience the tours ourselves to give our educational and personal touch while selling the package. The Helicopter guys on board had told me that they would try and get me up in the air when there was an availability but I didn't think it would be within my first week of work! The actual tour costs about $125 for a 10 minute flight so being able to do this for free was a bonus!

So around lunch time friday I was asked if I wanted to go up with 2 other passengers during my lunch break. I was soooo excited! I'd never been on helicopter before so having the chance to go on one whilst flying over the Great Barrier Reef was a pretty rare opportunity.

The Quicksilver VIII vessel is a pretty big boat but not big enough to hold it's own helicopter pad. When we reach the pontoon out at Agincourt reef, the boat docks itself and the passengers then hop on to the pontoon to go snorkelling, scuba diving, eat lunch and go on the subs. To get to the helicopter pad (which is situated close by but still in the middle of the ocean) a small boat takes you from the pontoon out to the landing pad.

On the small boat trip there you get a little life jacket put on (which really is a bum bag clipped around you waist) and told what to do in the case of an emergency... which is something you really don't want to hear before getting on board. It is necessary of course but it did make me a little nervous!

I had to sit in the back as I wasn't a full paying customer but it didn't bother me at all. The view out my window was absolutely magnificent. The pictures i've uploaded are nothing compared to the real thing. The chopper ride before us saw a shark and some stingrays but by the time we got in the air it was gone. It was still pretty cool seeing the different colours of the ocean, all the different bits of coral plus the boats and snorkellers below. I had forgotten my camera that day (I kept meaning to take it with me all week) but luckily one of our divers on board called Dolphin lent me his camera and then burnt my pics to disk for me to take home, which was nice.

Although it was only a 10 minute ride it seemed to last for ages. There's just so much to look at while you're up in the air you forget about the time. It was definately the highlight of my week!

I've been off sick yesterday and today with the flu. I'm getting better but if you have any signs of sickness they send you home as you can't be handling food or beverages if you're all germy. I was supposed to be doing my training on the Wavedancer vessel which is a catamaran that is also a sailing boat. This vessel takes you out to Low Isle, a little island close to the coast of Port Douglas. Hopefully tomorrow I will be much better for work and can update you all on how that goes.

I've put the pics on the site - remember to click on Brian as the author, as all our pics up here will be in that folder.

Cheers

Posted by Jess_F 22:06 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

On set of "The Pacific"

sunny -17 °C

First day on Set – The previous day we had just finished boot camp, done our first beach landing and were told that we start shooting the next day at 0420. Luckily a few of us guys spent our first day doing nothing. We sat just off set, ready in all in our gear while waiting to be used, but we didn’t get called. It seems so unorganised on set but the work gets done. We always get told to 'hurry up, and wait.' We get told to be somewhere on set then we all run there then they tell us to wait, then the wait ends up to be 3 hours.

The last few weeks we’ve been having 0400 or 0530 starts which I don’t mind because we finish around 1800. I’ve been doing lots more on set such as sitting in boats, doing some unopposed beach landings and sitting in fox holes. I’m in ‘background’ at the moment because my squad hasn’t entered the script yet so I have to keep my face out of camera. I was called up by Captain Dye the other day to do a scene right in front of the camera which was cool. The director told me what to do, and I only did one rehearsal and one take which the Captain was pretty happy with.

Now that I have my body clock on morning shift, they have informed us that we will commence night shoots, starting today. Now my body clock is going to be all out of whack. We will finally be doing some combat scenes with the Japanese though.

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Posted by Brian_H 21:37 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Boot Camp!

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My 10 month movie journey begins.

We landed in Cairns and were driven to our resort in Port Douglas. We then had a few minutes to drop our bags in our rooms before heading off to get our costumes fitted and given our armory cards. This is where a lot of us had a reality shock. We arrived at a location with a huge tent and 4 guys dressed in Marine uniforms standing there waiting for us. As soon as the first guy stepped off the bus the Marines started shouting, “get off the bus get off the bus, and get in line”. A lot of the guys thought they were joking around but some were freaking out. I myself didn’t know what to think at first but as soon as they said “don’t eye ball me turd,” I knew they weren’t kidding. We found out later on that 3 of the Marines had just came back from Iraq and were still in that mind set so there wasn’t going to be any laughing or smiling for the next 10 days.

We got our 1942 Marine uniforms and headed back to the resort with no talking and a few of the guys already given nicknames, “short round, mouth, queenly”. We were told boot camp was in the morning at 0630 which meant we really had to be out the front of the resort at 0600.

That morning everyone was out the front except for one guy who did a runner. In our Marine uniforms with a bag full of stuff we didn’t know how to use, we were ready to do a 10 day boot camp. Again we were yelled at and pushed onto buses with no talking, which is weird when your sitting next to someone that your going to work with for 10 months and your not allowed to get to know them.

Our boot camp location was an hour out of Port Douglas on a guy’s farm with everything we need to train as a Marine - a river, jungle, ticks, leeches, hills and mad Marines ready to rip into us. We carried our bags over a river and up a hill to where we were going to live for the next 10 days. We dropped our bags and were screamed at to get into formation around a flag pole where they raised the American flag. We were then greeted by Tom Hanks who cut the tension by letting us relax while he talked for 30mins about why we were there, his boot camp experiences with Captain Dye, how important our part in this movie is and the truth about the story we were going to be telling. He put meaning in why we needed to tell this story and why boot camp was so important.

We then were put in our platoons, given a tent buddy and shown quickly how to put up our very very small 2 man tents (hooch’s). While setting them up we had to make sure each hooch pole and peg were in line with every other hooch (still with no talking). Three platoons were assigned for us - Assault platoon, Mortar platoon and Machine Gun platoon, which I was in. Each platoon had about 20 guys and a staff sergeant and corporal. Captain Dye then showed us how to cook our rash-n packs (MRE’s) which left a lot of the guys shocked with what we were given for food. The first day of boot camp was coming to a close with a basic run down on the ranking system and how to answer to someone with a rank. A few guys in my platoon did push ups cause they said ‘Sir’ instead of ‘Staff Sergeant’ or ‘Corporal.’ End of day 1.
Day 2 started at 0530 with Captain Dye taking the whole company for stretches, push ups, sit ups and a 2-3km run while singing cadences. This happened every morning at boot camp and by the end of it a lot of the guys in my platoon started saying it was the best part of their day. We had about 10 to 15 minutes to go to the toilet, shower in a box (baby wipes) and shave.

Our first few days involved each platoon getting to know what their task was when going into situations in the field. We also had to know how to use the rifles they used back in WW2. The guys learnt quickly not to call the ‘Springfield’ and the ‘M1 rifle’ a gun because if they did they were doing push ups again. On top of that, the Assault platoon had to know how to use and break down their different weapons; Mortar platoon had to learn in depth how to fire Mortars; and my platoon had to learn when, where and which machine guns were used. The two different types we used were the ‘30 cal machine gun’, ‘water cool’ and ‘air cool’. We then learnt every little bit of information possible about the machine guns. Ie- how to break down the gun, how to carry it on patrol, how to sit it up in the jungle, loading, unloading, and firing the gun… which is AWESOME by the way!

Everyday was hot (around 30 degrees) and our uniform consisted of big boots, long pants a long shirt with our packs and rifles on us every minute of the day. If we were an arms length away from our rifles we would be screamed at and made to do push ups. We had to go everywhere with our rifles and even had to have them while we were sleeping. In the end it was drilled into us that ‘if you have no rifle how are you meant to defend yourself? Your rifle is your life saver.’

After we knew what our jobs were (when it came to what each platoon contributes when in combat), we had our first patrol and contact with Japanese in the jungle. We patrolled through the jungle carrying all our gear, our machine guns, mortars, anti-tank gear while going up and down hills, through rivers and getting hit by stinging plants. I was sweating like crazy, and after about 45mins into the patrol we had contact. When you’re in a patrol looking through the jungle for Japanese or for something moving in the distance, can be a pretty heart thumping feeling. Especially when you hear gun fire up the front of the patrol with people screaming “contact front, get machine guns up here,” and then see people diving to the ground. Running towards the front of the patrol with fire coming from the Japanese and your support fire, is a crazy feeling. Your heart is going 100 miles an hour, your sweating like crazy, and you literally feel like you’re at war. One wrong move and your dead so that’s why I think they were so hard on us when it came to knowing every small detail. We came out of the jungle with cuts, stinging plants all over us, ticks, leeches (I got two leeches on me) and dirt everywhere. Coming out of the jungle with Captain Dye telling us we won after only 3 or 4 days training was a great feeling.

Every night from day one we had to defend our camp so we had machine gun pits, mortar pits and fox holes for rifle men all over our camp. This was all ready just in case the Japanese tried to invade us at night. At 2100 we had campfire with Captain Dye while he gave us a detailed image of WW2 and told us some of his own war stories. This gave us respect to the Marine Core and made us realise that we were getting it easy on boot camp compared to what the real Marines went through. After an hour with the Captain we had to gear up and jump in our fox holes, having two men per hole with one man watching grade and the other man sleeping. This was rotated every hour. The first few nights we did this for 3 - 4 hours, and on the 4th night we had Japanese fire on us. Every man that was sleeping was now wide awake firing at the Japanese. The sky was alight with machine gun and rifle flashes.

The last 2 days of boot camp we were taught how to exit a boat on the beach, coming down a cargo net, perfecting our patrols and hand to hand combat. Hollywood then came to boot camp with a few camera crews taking shots of ‘behind the scenes’ stuff.

On our last night at boot camp we finally got to know each other a little better and talk about the movie (which we weren’t allowed to do the previous days). Captain Dye brought up some beer which opened up a lot of people and gave us all a chance to chat. We found out who was playing who and what the movie is going to cover. A lot of the actors are in my platoon but a lot of the American actors aren’t that well known in Australia. I was side by side with Gary Sweet in our beach landing and many of the combat patrols.

Our last day consisted of closing down camp and preparing for our very first beach landing in front of the crew. Everyone was pumped to show the producers what Captain Dye had taught us and also to see females, shops and normal stuff we hadn’t seen for ages. The beach landing was awesome, and looked just like the part from ‘Saving Private Ryan’ with us jumping out of the boats while getting fired on, diving on to the sand, setting up machine guns, and crawling up the beach while firing at the Japanese. All this made boot camp worth it. I seriously don’t think we could tell the truth of what happened without doing boot camp.

Posted by Brian_H 21:31 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

I got a job!

sunny 28 °C

This week started off with Brian and I being horribly hungover. Well, him not so much, he knows how to handle his alcohol. The night before we decided to head to the pub to watch the footy as we don't get cable in our hotel room. Alot of the boys he works with were out that night so they met up with us and had a few drinks. Cause for the hangover? Happy hour! As great as $4 spirits are, it's not so great when everyone wants to buy you one and expects you to drink it! Therefore Sunday was a nice lazy day and we decided to have a bbq down by the beach which was nice.

Monday was my first day at work. Yes I got the job with Quicksilver, yay! I am now part of the cabin crew for all 3 boats and my job consists of pretty much being an air hostee... but on water. The pros? I get to go out to the reef every work day and sunbake or snorkel in my lunch break. Cons? Sea sickness! :( Now I have never been sea sick before and I've been on the quickii boats before plus stayed on a house boat AND taken a week cruise, but nothing could prepare me for this! Monday was a cloudy, cold and choppy day with the wind blowing at 30 knotts (which means it's pretty rough). Stupid me thinking "nah I don't get sea sick", didn't take any medication and was throwing up out back within the first hour of the trip out. Not so great trying to vomit into a bag while the wind is blowing it back in your face. I think the crew must have placed bets to see when the 'new girl first hurls' as when I walked inside pretty much everyone asked "so, how you feeling?"

Yesterday wasn't AS bad. It was a 25 knott day so a bit calmer than the day before but still cloudy and choppy. I didn't vomit this time but I did need to go outside to get air on the trip there and back. Alot of the girls assured me that they all vomited their first day too and it takes about a week to get used to it. I've been advised to keep taking the travelcalm medication until I eventually ween myself off it.

Today was a great day though! The sun was out and the wind was at about 15 knotts so it was ALOT calmer than the first 2 days. I didn't feel sick at all! :) In my lunch break I went on one of the subs, which basically is a boat with a glass bottom, which allows you to see the reef. All the crew are really nice and lots of fun so one of the guys came on board with me and spotted out all the fish and cool things that the narrator doesn't always include. There also talking about taking me on the helicopter so I can see what the reef looks like from above. That will be heaps of fun so fingers crossed that ends up happening!

Brian's at work at the moment and probably won't get home till about 10pm. He starts night work soon too so we probably won't get much of a chance to see eachother except for on the weekend. With my job I get 2 days off but they can't gaurantee it will be weekends for me. Brian so far has had weekends off too but that's not guaranteed for him either. We've both got this weekend off though so we might drive up to the Daintree on Saturday.

He'll probably get to sleep-in tomorrow morning so hopefully he'll get a chance to write about what he's been up to on the set which i'm sure is far more interesting to read about than my sea sickness! :P

Well I'm gonna go cook my dinner in front of the window now so I don't set off the fire alarms. It's a pain not having a kitchen but we're getting very creative with meals we can cook in the wok. Oh, I'll also take my camera with me tomorrow (if it's a nice day) so you can all see what I do at work hehehe.

Take care

Jess

Posted by Jess_F 01:41 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

New Blog

19 °C

Well the USA Trip is over and it's time to move on to new adventures and of course a new blog. So by popular demand you can continue to be updated on what Brian and I are doing whilst we are away!

For those who don't know, Brian got an extras role on the Band of Brothers series called 'The Pacific' which is being filmed up at Port Douglas. Steven Speilberg and Tom Hanks are the producers so it's a pretty big deal!

I spoke with Brian on the phone before and he just came back today from 8 gruelling days at boot camp. He survived of course and has a few cuts and bruises but other than that he's ok :) He's already met Tom Hanks and said he's a pretty cool guy, but I'll let him fill you in about all that in a week or so when I go up to meet him (and he's got access to the net).

My sister and I are driving up to Port Douglas leaving this Sunday. We won't be doing the whole trip at once so we are taking 4 days to get up there. Leesh will then fly back home and I will stay up there with Brian living it up in a 5 star resort for 4 months. Yay :)

I currently have a job interview set up with the cruising company Quicksilver, which takes tour boats out to the Great Barrier Reef. I'm not sure on what exactly the job entales but I may be on the boat greeting people and helping serve food? Or I could even be working in the office back at the Marina? Who knows. I'll find out more when I get there I guess so fingers crossed.

Well that's it for awhile now so stay tuned! Not meaning to brag or anything, but this is where we will be calling home for the next few months!! :) Also, because this site is linked with our USA trip, the photos for this new blog will be put under Brian's authors link. So under "Authors" in the right hand side menu, click on Brian's name and then select more photos.

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Jess

Posted by Brian_H 23:17 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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