A Travellerspoint blog

Diving

sunny 29 °C

Thursday on my day off I went to the doctors to get my cv vaccination (which really really hurt by the way!) and also to get my ‘supposed’ asthma tested so I was able to go diving. I went to go diving AGES ago but I ticked that box to say that I had asthma (coz that it was the Dr told me 6 years ago) so the divers legally couldn’t take me out unless I got it all re-checked. To cut a long story short, I don’t have asthma and I went for my first dive last Friday during my lunch break.

I had to sit down and watch a video first and Matty ran through what to do if your reg gets knocked out of your mouth, you run out of air, and how to equalize your ears. I had Jules as my dive instructor (she’s cool) and once we suited up and got in the water she went through again what to do if your reg falls out and how to clear your mask if it fills up underwater.

After equalizing and slowly heading to the base below us, we all stopped and got to touch ‘Jake’ the Maori Wrasse. He is so awesome and feels really cool. He loves the divers and swims with them everyday, so of course he swam with us for most of our dive. I was in a group of about 5 and the majority of them were rude pushy Americans. Just after patting Jake we were headed to the sea floor but on my way down one of the divers pushed past and knocked the reg out of my mouth. Because we had run through it all on the video, on the boat and in the water on what to do if this happens, I didn’t panic too much coz I knew what I was doing. Jules and Gareth (crew diver who was filming us) grabbed me and helped me put my reg back in. I didn’t realise it was such a serious thing until I saw Jules’ face and how they immediately stopped everything and swam straight to me. I also found out that the dive master got in a fair bit of trouble for it.

Other than that my first dive was pretty cool. I got to touch a sea anemone and see lots if little Nemo’s swimming in it. The anemone feels cool and has quite a dry texture even though it is underwater. I also got to touch a giant clam and a giant sea cucumber which I wasn’t thrilled about doing. I find sea creatures a little too unusual to go around touching. It was still lots of fun and a very good memory to have.

Posted by Jess_F 16:47 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Warwick comes to town

sunny 30 °C

WARWICK COMES TO TOWN (17 Sep – 29 Sep)

It’s been awhile since Jess and I have written on the blog so there’s a lot to catch up on! I’ll start from about 2 weeks ago when my brother Warwick came up to work on the movie.

Warwick had been part of the movie production earlier on and helped out with interviews and cast selection so he was able to come up north and work on set for 2 weeks as part of the marine core. The first couple of days on set was pretty much stand-by and wait to be brought on set to do scenes, so it gave us both time to catch up and time for him to chat with guys he had worked with in past productions. We were lucky enough to do a couple of scenes together side by side. One scene was with us firing on the front line which in rehearsals I had to refresh his memory on firing a rifle as it had been 3 or 4 years since Warwick has used an M1 Grand. The scene was cool cause behind us a marine got his head blown up with brain splatter landing on us and an amputee got his leg blown off.

We talked about doing a scene together like in Saving Private Ryan with the brothers fighting in the war next to each other, so we were lucky enough to pull some strings and make this happen. The scene was with mass explosions with us landing on the beach. We ran from the beach edge up to the tree line with the camera following us from behind while running past guys firing around us, guys getting shot and us crawling and ducking for cover along the way. Warwick was next to me and pulled a stunt guy who had been shot into a bunker, while I was taking cover fire and reloading and then ran straight into a mortar explosion which blew me on to one leg. It was pretty forceful!

Days went by of us lying around as production did close-up shots on lead roles and shot script. The last day on set with my brother saw us laying on the beach firing at a peel-box (a big concrete slab the Japanese were in that has an opening for a machine gun to fire through while sweeping the beach to kill hundreds of marines). I was on the 30-cal machine gun while Warwick was laying a few metres away firing at the Japanese with his rifle. Once I opened up with the 30-cal everyone could hear the velocity of the 200 rounds I had fired within 30 seconds. After they had called “cut” my brother came over and said that his whole body was shaking from the vibrations of my machine gun. It was that powerful.

Throughout the time he was here we hit the pub a few times and went out for dinner plus watched some footy games.

Jess got us both on Quicksilver VIII on one of our days off. It was a pretty nice day, not the clearest of days but still nice and sunny, so the visibility under water was pretty good and we saw lots of fish.

When we hit the pontoon we went on the semi submersible (which is like a little submarine) that takes you on a tour to all the different bombies where they tell you about the coral and fish around the pontoon. After that we went for a snorkel and cause Jess was working that day she was able to join us and go snorkeling on her lunch break. The divers let her borrow an underwater camera which was pretty cool and they then burnt the pics to a disk for us (which we will be adding to the blog!).

We saw lots of colourful fish and were a bit surprised at the colours of the reef. We were expecting the bright colours like you see on TV, but it was explained to us on the sub tour that 90% of coral is brown, green and blue 10% is the more colourful stuff you see on TV. We also got to see some clams, and Jake who is a big Maori Rass that Jess always talks about. He is very large and playful and apparently lets you touch him. After our snorkel we had lunch and enjoyed some free beverages that Jess had organised for us and then headed back to Port Douglas.

The last day that Warwick was here he organised for everyone to get together for dinner at the Hogs Breath Café on the marina. It was a good night with a few drinks had and then we headed to the Courthouse for a few more drinks while watching the All Blacks play Romainia. He then headed back to Sydney the next day to get back to work but we will catch up with him again in Melbourne for the Marine Ball and also in Sydney for Christmas.

Posted by Brian_H 16:40 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Palm Cove

sunny 28 °C

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Yesterday was my ‘Saturday’ and also another day off for Brian, so we got to spend another ‘non-weekend’ day together. Brian’s friend Shaw (who is on the movie and is also a Kiwi) has his girlfriend Tori staying with him now so the 4 of us decided to head to Palm Cove and spend the day there. Tori only arrived on Sunday and Shaw had never been to Palm Cove so it was good to take them there on such a beautiful day.

Brian “borrowed” a sheet off the house keeping trolley on the way to the car to use as a giant towel for the both of us to lie on once we got to the beach. Our towels aren’t very big and it was quite nice lying there without worrying about sand getting everywhere. We also bought some snacks and drinks to occupy us with whilst we lay there soaking up the sun.

The boys hired a Catamaran for an hour and seemed to have a bit of fun trying to get it to sail. It took them a little while which was funny to watch but once they got the hang of it they cruised up and down the beach quite easily. I then went on the Catamaran with Brian for a little bit and got to hold the rope to the sail. Yeah, it’s not a very important job…especially when I did it lying down, but it was still lots of fun. It’s a nice view looking back at Palm Cove from the water. If only I could have taken my camera out with me.

After that we had some lunch (quite a late lunch actually) at a little café on the main street. Brian had the “Giant Hamburger” which wasn’t as giant as I had hoped it to be, and I ate some delicious Garlic Prawns and chips. After lunch we decided to head home to Port Douglas.

Today I decided to do a bit of wandering around the place and thought I would take some photos and show you all what Port Douglas actually looks like. We are blessed with yet another warm and sunny day and fingers crossed it stays like this! Warm sunny days usually means less wind, therefore are calmer trip out to the reef for me when I’m working on the boats! Lately it’s been around 10-15 knots, which is pretty smooth. I don’t have to take any travelcalm on days like that, unless I’m working on the sailing boat. 10-15 knots is still a smooth day for Wavedancer but it rolls differently to the bigger boats.

I went to the hair dresser this morning and got some highlights put in my hair. It’s been long and brown for so long I felt like a bit of a change. I only got caramel coloured streaks put in so it’s nothing too drastic. I guess I’ll find out whether it stands out or not when Brian gets home. It’s always good to test “change” on boys coz if they notice straight away then you know it may have been a little too extreme!

After that I went and had some garlic panini at one of the local pubs, and then walked down to the park and took some photos of boats and trees and things. I also had a nice walk on the beach before deciding to head home and see if housekeeping is done with cleaning the room. Oh yeah, I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned before but we get our room cleaned every Thursday, which a lot of the boys on set bitch about because they want it cleaned everyday. I always clean the room before the cleaner comes in so she doesn’t think we’re messy so I definitely don’t have time to do that EVERY morning before work. I’m happy with the once a week clean!

Ok well I’m off to do some grocery shopping now. Brian has to work Saturday but he has Sunday off so he might update the blog then. Go the Cowboys!!

Posted by Jess_F 23:18 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day at Hartley's Crocodile Farm

sunny 24 °C

Monday started with the usual 7:15am alarm ringing, forcing me to wake up, get out of bed and get ready for work. Brian got to have a sleep-in that morning as he didn’t have to go to work that day… long weekend for him! I only had the Thursday prior off work as they are changing my roster around to make my 2 days off to be a permanent Wednesday & Thursday.

Lately we haven’t had as many passengers on the boats as we do in peak season so every employee will be rostered on that day but some will have to “stand-down” (go home) if they aren’t needed. I would have been working 6 days this week so putting my name down for a stand-down wasn’t a problem with me. I was however on Wavedancer (the sailing boat) that day which had 73 passengers on board – 2 people too many to send me home. Kristy the senior on Quickie VIII said that if their boat doesn’t get up to 250 passengers than they will send their ‘stand-down’ employee across to Wavedancer so I can stand-down for them. At 3 minutes to 10am, Bex showed up on Wavedancer and I was able to go home. Yay!

Brian and I had been talking about going out one day and seeing some crocodiles so we decided for the remainder of Monday to go to Hartley’s Crocodile Farm which is about half an hour away from Port Douglas.

We got there at 11am, just in time for a crocodile feeding show. Neither of us have been to Australia Zoo, so I’m not sure how this Croc Farm compares to Steve Irwin’s but we were both impressed with the amount of crocs they have, what their habitats look like and also how close you can get to a crocodile. Pretty much when you walk in the gate you walk straight past a 4.7m crocodile in a gated enclosure that leaves you half a metre away from it. I am fairly certain that if some kid wanted to stick their arm through the fence they could have touched it…and also gotten their arm ripped off!

The croc feeding show was very informative and pretty cool. It was no ‘Steve Irwin jump inside their enclosure and have them chase you for food’ but it was still exciting to see the male crocs fight each other to guard their territory and eat the food intended for them.
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After that we hopped on the river cruise which showed us more crocs in their natural habitat which gave us a better opportunity to take pics of the crocs jumping for food and swimming after the boat.

They have a ‘croc farming tour’ which starts off with a very interesting spiel on how back in the 50s and 60s it was legal to shoot crocodiles and once one couple killed up to 10,000 crocs in this time. Crocodiles are now, however, a protected species and it is therefore illegal to shoot them…but not at Hartley’s.

The tour takes you to the other side of the park where they tell you about how they take crocodiles eggs, incubate the eggs and determine the sex of the crocs they want to breed. Once the eggs have hatched they put the babies into large tanks with no sunlight as crocs grow quicker without the stress of seeing their surroundings. Once they have reached a certain size they are then placed into outdoor pens and fed a lot so they continue to grow bigger. Once they reach the ultimate size, a keeper will go into their enclosure and stun a few of the crocs with a stun-gun and check to see whether their skin is in good condition. Once a croc gets the “ok” on size and skin condition it is then shot and sent off to a company that skins it for leather and also packages the meat. It was really really sad looking at the amount of crocs in the pens and knowing that one day they would be turned into a purse or handbag. We got to touch a little baby croc which was cool, but for the purpose of feeling how soft the skin was which was not so cool.
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It was pretty unbelievable going to a park where on one side they educate you and show you how cool crocs are and what great environments they have these animals living in, to then walk to the other side where they show you how they breed these animals to be shot and sold for their skin and meat. Did I mention that you can also buy crocodile meat to have in your burger at the restaurant? One family turned up to a crocodile show actually eating crocodile meat!

We left the ‘farming tour’ early to go and see the snake show and then the Croc attack show. The guy in the croc attack show is mad! He’s a south African guy who is very educational of course, but definitely not scared to hand feed a 4.3m croc and splash about in the water with it. He showed us how easy it is for a croc to disguise itself in the water and then attack its prey so quickly. It was very cool to watch!
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After the show Brian and I left the park and headed to Cairns (another half hour away) to go and see ‘Bourne Ultimatum.’ It was a great movie and a great way to end the day that we usually would have spent at work!

Posted by Jess_F 23:15 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Fun times on set

sunny 28 °C

After doing night shifts all last week we ended up changing back to day shifts this week. This was a little hard on most of our bodies, but we still kept up the PT on set which makes some of the crew stop and stare when we do our run with cadences. Some of the actors come over and join in which is cool but some don’t as they think they did enough of that stuff on boot camp.

This week on set we were covering the aftermath of our night in contour with 800 Japanese, which in the end the Marines killed all 800 of them. So we did a lot of scenes where we had to walk around kicking dead Japanese soldiers (most of them were fake), with missing arms, legs and heads. A lot of them were freaky looking because it looked so real.

Friday was our last day to shoot the first episode so Thursday and Friday we had to re-shoot some scenes they weren’t happy with. It takes about 24 days to shoot an episode and every episode we’ve been told we’d get a different director. Hopefully Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks will direct an episode. Some of the scenes we had to re-do were our river scenes which took awhile and were very cold!

The first episode follows the journey of a Marine called Leckie, and the men around him. The second episode (which we start on next week) follows another Marine who comes into the war to join Leckie. The second episode is where I come into the story and follow along side the Marines already at war. This means more background stuff for me, a lot more action on set and around camera. The following weeks to come will see us doing a lot more beach landings, but this time with Japanese firing on us. These are bigger scenes than usual and cost about $30,000 for every take!

Jess has been doing her training on 2 other Quicksilver vessels recently which move a lot differently to the boat she is used to. This takes some more adjusting for her stomach so the sea sickness isn’t gone for good just yet. She said she’s been fine the past 3 days on Quicksilver VIII and doesn’t need to take the tablets anymore because the days have been sunny and calm. She also saw a humpback whale breaching the other day so she was pretty excited to see that.

Posted by Brian_H 23:12 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Night Shoots

sunny 27 °C

We had our first week of night shooting, starting from 4pm and finishing around most mornings at 4 or 5am. I was pretty used to night shoots as I did a lot of night work when I was a bartender. Monday through to Thursday we sat on set doing nothing at all for the 12 hours we were there, but that left a lot of time for playing cards, PSP games, gameboy games, and to read books and magazines. One of our trainers was getting a bit sick of us just lying around sleeping or playing cards all night so we were up doing PT (Personal Training sessions) at 1am everyday of the week. In the end we enjoyed it as it kept us awake and it kept Captain Dye happy, as he thinks we’re all to fat for our roles as skinny Marines. Doing nothing for 4 days on set wasn’t fun but then Friday came around and we finally got to jump in our fox holes and let a few rounds off at the Japanese. The scene was awesome as all machine guns were in use, all rifle men were firing in a line firing at 800 Japanese soldiers, so we let a lot of ammo off. I was happy because I was on the 30 cal machine gun which I let off 200 rounds in a 30 second take.

Posted by Brian_H 23:04 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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