Thursday, September 29, 2011


Billy, the bestest heli pilot ever!

Loadmaster and Isf guy in the heli

Joe "master of jungle run" Jungle Run productions film crew.

Forward convoy leaving Laclubar heading to Beacu

Riders passing through village stage 2

every rider was their own repair man too.

Family stands on their roof watching riders go by.

The road looking back towards Laclubar

riders on the course.

Laclubar village from above.

amazing sight as the light hit the trickling river just outside of Beacu
Stage 2 winners. Search2Retain boys from Aust

my new friend, who was gettign kicks out of yelling 'Malae!' then hiding
we were given the desks from the school to use while editing. 

crowd building as we waited for the riders. how cute is this kid.

Tour De Timor Stage 2 Laclubar to Beacu

i realise this has been a while coming, so writing will be brief(ish) and images plentiful.

i had returned to Dili the first night of the tour so that i could catch the heli again for day 2. i found myself back at Apod at 7am for a 8am flight. while we were waiting for the flight we got notification that they had delayed the start due to one of the water trucks going off the road, and was blocking the forward convoy from going through. they had to fix the truck, get it moved out of the way and they pushed back the start till about 9am. our flight was due to leave at 8am which means that we wouldn't be able to shoot any of the riders on the stage as they wouldn't have started by the time we were heading over them.. just to add to that, day 2 was a bit different. we had to pick up a medical evac from Laclubar as well. so that had a certain time frame on it too. there had been a massive outbreak of gastro at camp the first night, effecting 30+ riders (from 400) and quite a few support staff. another reason I'm glad i wasn't at camp the first night. in the end we negotiated that we would do a flyover, stop in Laclubar to pick up the evac, flyover the riders towards Beacu then land there and drop us off and take the evac back to Dili.

The flight to Beacu was amazing. the landscape was breathtaking, Beacu sits on the south coast of Timor Leste, prone to crocs but still a beautiful place, like most of Timor. because we were out of a major city we were able to get in closer over the riders, at one point too close, we could then see him waving us off. we were making the course just a little harder than it needed to be. i was harnessed in and leaning out the window, nearly crapped myself when the pilot decided to bank really quickly to one side which meant i was looking straight down to the ground with nothing but air in between.. mini freak out haha. it was fun though. we again got some great shots and landed in Beacu to await the arrival of the forward convey and the riders.

i spent the morning sitting out the front of the media room. and made friends with a little girl who was having a great old time yelling out to me and hiding.. she was cute as.. Mat decided not to get back on the motorbike for stage 2, still a bit sore and uncertain from day 1,  so he was riding in the forward convoy, they arrived about 11.30, with riders due at 1pm. so we had time to work out a strategy for shooting them as they came over the line. i spent time editing the previous days images then got ready for the riders arrival.

we shot the riders coming in, the press conferences and interviews and the crowd, then i retired to edit, get images ready for the heli and because i was a bit over it at that stage. once the bulk of the riders are over the line everyone starts finishing for the day, the video guys start coming in and editing their bits and pieces then everyone just generally hangs out. the line for dinner was crazy and i had spent about an hour earlier in the day trying to hunt down a meal card. no luck but i got an all access wrist band from one of the TDT girls who was heading back to Dili, so i would be fed for the rest of the tour. i would have liked to have the meal card though, they were punching holes for each meal. i would have been interested to see how many meals i actually ate, i know it wasn't many. Beacu was really well organised compared to some of the camp sites, the toilets and showers well well built (as well as they can be, being make out of star pickets and black plastic). and they actually catered properly. they didn't run out of food like they did further down the track at other sites.

Mat and i pitched our tent while it was still light enough to see what we were doing. this was a new tent i hadn't seen until this point but had been assured by mat that it was a good tent and that we would both fit... he was lying.. it was the tiniest tent i had ever seen. it was so so squishy but we made it work.  i was feeling a bit off so i went to bed pretty early, everyone else went to the travelling bar and had (quite) a few drinks. most of them didn't go to bed till 2am. we were all to be up again at 4.30am for the next stage..

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Laclubar from above.

Laclubar from above

goodbye heli!

volunteers trying to hand out all the treats for the kids
and just getting attacked with the boxes!

leaving Laclubar

Auturo island

Monday, September 12, 2011

Stage 1 Dili to Lacluba.

just as we were taking off.

on saturday we confirmed our designated roles. Mat on motorbike, covering the ride, me in the heli covering from above and Sara with the President. after finally working out what was happening and being given our times and places to be, we got about 4 hours sleep and were up at 4.30 to be ready to be on the road or air in my case.

i was pretty excited about getting to hang out in the chopper, mum wasn't happy when i told her, but i understand why, the week i left for Timor, i think it was 3 helicopters had gone down in 1 week.  though so far so good.

i had to be at the heliport at 7am for a 8am flight, we got there, were briefed, and jumped in. we got to go a bit early as we wanted to catch the start of the race, which was to start at 8am from the front of the Presidents Palace.  Joe the camera guy filmed last years TDT also, so he jumped in and grabbed the headset so he could direct the pilot, we ended up getting some great shots so everyone was happy. we got the start which is all joe wanted today. haha. he is this loud crazy old californian guy, he makes me thing of the turtles in finding nemo. he frequently uses, dude, wicked, woah man, etc. you get the idea.. awesome guy though. the heli ride was AWESOME. i had never been on one before so it was pretty cool. but im going to get to have plenty more rides by the end of the week!

we had to fly reasonably quickly over the riders on this flight as the next flight was for the Pres so there is no room to be late on that one.  we arrived in Laclubar at about 8.40am, first rider isnt due in until 12 so i had a bit of time to kill.  it was market day in Laclubar today so i went for a wander, much to the delight of almost everyone in the market. Get stared at omg its crazy. it still happens in Dili but no where near to the same extent as it does in the more remote districts. i was stopping traffic haha, never been able to say that before. basically as long as you smile and say Bondia, (good morning) everyone is happy, especially the little kids, i had an entourage at one point. i was pretty happy with myself, i had an entire conversation in Tetun with a lady at the market, by full conversation i mean i said. "good morning, 5 bread please, thankyou, and then shook my head and smiled when she tried to give me change." anyway i thought i was cool.
i really just wandered around for most of the morning, once the President arrived i helped Sara out a bit with some shots. then just waited for the riders to start coming in. the projected time for this stage was about 4 hours, so the first rider should have been in around 12. it was closer to 12.40 when the first guy came in. they all looked wrecked. though they had just riden 115kms or so 40 of which were straight uphil so i guess they were allowed to be. i continued taking photos of the riders coming over the line and the crowd till about 1pm. we had to have a selection of 15 images between the 3 of us to send back to Dili with me on the chopper at 2.30pm, so we began editing and selections.
i was sitting up in the media tent talking to Jackie, she is a flim maker from melbourne who we met a couple weeks ago, she was out on a motorbike doing film. i asked her if she had seen mat, and she goes "you know he came off right?" um no, WTF... freakout. apparently he was ok, so everyone kept saying, kept freaking out on the low down until i had spoken to him. largely he was ok, scrapes, bruises and the like but no broken bones. and yes the cameras were ok too, but he would take the fall before he let the cameras. found out a bit later that i had actually seen his crash from the air, it happened about 10mins into the race. we were too far away too see who it was, it just looked like a rider had come off and everyone was going around. anyway i still havent seen him but he says he's ok, more than anything i think he is pissed off at his driver. he has a timorese guy riding the bike with him on the back, so communication isnt the best, and he is experienced and trying to keep up with the really experienced motorbike riders. Mat doesnt really want to get back his bike tomorrow but doesnt have much choice, and tomorrows stage is supposed to be the most dangerous. he is going to give his girlfriend a heart attack, im just glad his mum doesnt know. iv told him though, i refuse to bring his body home to his mum, so if he dies he will have to organise his own transport..
could feel myself getting a bit burnt while i was down shooting on the finish line, but i couldnt find the sunscreen i had packed. i took the 'it'l be right attitude' and paid for that.. i didnt think about the fact that we were on top of a mountain and out of the smokey smog of Dili so the sun is really bad there.. i got super burnt on my arms, neck and and face, i look like an idiot,  have a massive sunnies tan, my nose is so so red! sad face..
it was getting on towards 2pm and Mat still hadnt come in off the race yet (which only added to my anxiety), so the 15 images had to come from what Sara and i had shot for the day. we selected, edited and had them on the harddrive by 2.30pm on the dot, then i had to run down to the helicopter to head back to Dili. tonight is to be the coldest night on the road, and i hate camping when its cold so im kinda glad im back in Dili with a real bed but its no fun being on your own. 
im going to post this, then head to bed, another 5am wake up and heli ride is in order.

smoke over Dili as the sun rises.
Race start, in front of the Presidents Palace (white building, blue roof)

racing through the streets of Dili.

Riders passing through Dili.

amazing reefs around Dili, from the heli.

Trickling river.

Lacluba, everyone milling around the markets waiting for the riders.

Arrival of the Pres.

BYO grandstand, there is a truck under all those people somewhere.

Pushing to the finish.

more people out supporting the race.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Let The Crazy Begin

The aussie guys took the national riders on a 3 day workshop/training camp.

Getting to Dili earlier a few days before the race i thought (incorrectly) that we would have some time to hit the beach, shop and hang out but everyone was already in full Tour De Timor mode. Sara, Mat and i took every opportunity to leave the Timor lodge compound so we didnt get tasked with stupid things, Sara got stuck sorting and resorting bikes one day, which meant she had to sit inside a sweltering container moving them around over and over again.. she wasnt happy.. Sara is here to be a kind of PR role for the creative activities unit, which is the team that Mick heads up under the President. the last few years they have had a good event but no one has really known about it, so her role was supposed to be to basically get it out there, but like i said we have been doing shit that they could be getting other people to do, especially when there was volunteers sitting around with nothing to do.

i think i may have already mentioned that Sara studied photography for a year ar PSC, she has a canon 7D but she was quite rusty on how to work it, so since i got here tuesday we have been giving her little photography classes when we have the time. after a lot of convincing on Mats part, we made the media guys add Sara to our team, we needed another photographer desperately, as i was to be in the chopper back and forth every day and Mat was to be on a motorbike down with the riders, there was no way that we could do it all ourselves,  we got what we wanted in a way and lost out in others. They decided that instead of giving us another photographer on the ground, she was to be embedded with the President, so she could capture everyone he spoke to, shook hands with and all that sort of thing. i guess its a cool angle but we really could have used a extra pair of hands on ground.

we somehow wrangled ourselves a car so that made life heaps easier to get around etc. we spent most of the 4 days in Dili, pre race, helping to organize, get supplies,  and everything else. there was a few little events, press conferences, and pre race stuff we needed to shoot, which was good as it kept us occupied. mid week we were getting stuffed around so much, Mat was ready to go home, he was (and within reason to be) really pissed about how badly some things have been organised. we would be told off for not being somewhere we hadn't been told to be, then having people bitch at us for missing shots etc.  we were all hanging for the race to start hoping that would mean things would improve. we tried to get out of the compound as much as we could, so we could explore, but a lot of time was spent waiting to find out what we needed to do. so so painful.. wednesday and thursday night we went out. we went down to the malay bars, had some beers, played some pool and just hung out, it was so good to be away from the compound and to be doing something outside of worrying about TDT. thursday everyone was going to 'castys' so Mat and i decided to go out for dinner and catch up with everyone later on.  we went to OceanView seafood restaurant, supposed to be the best seafood in dili. everyone had been raving about it, Mat had been before and said it was great, this night, not so much. i got fish, it was baked in sweet chili, the sauce was really good, it was just the fish that was shit... im not sure if it was the type of fish or what but it was gross. the texture was all wrong, it had a strange taste and was just generally bad.. Mat got a 1kg crab. looked so good when it came out, but we both left feeling like we were going to throw up, must have ben a bad day. we met up with the others and had a few drinks to wash it down.

saturday was the ride for peace, its run in conjunction with TDT, Rich organised it. the idea stems from peace in sport. for the ride they got as many kids as possible to ride a short course, along with some of the riders who are part of TDT. the idea is to get kis to turn away from alcohol, cigarettes and violence and to get involved in sport. they did the same thing for the marathon earlier in the year. it was a really good little event and was really successful for what they are trying to achieve. Mat had his first experience riding backwards on a motorbike and taking photos, he had a few issues with the driver im worried about when he is doing it for real on the race.

saturday night we spent packing and organising, and trying to wok out what the fuck was happening for the start of the race. so far i didn't know what time i was getting on the chopper, Mat and Sara didn't know what time to be at the Presidents Palace for the start, everything and everyone was chaotic, no one could tell us anything. really we wanted to know 3 things, where each of us had to be in the morning , what time, and what to do with our bags, as we couldn't leave any at the compound. we ended up working all this out at about midnight, and probably then made it to bed at 12.30..

some images from the past week or so.

Following the riders through Dili as they practiced.
this is true Dili, i love how no one minds,
its ok we will just weave through all the crazy traffic..

TiBar. there is amazing mangroves and beach, great for diving..

at Tibar, where i spent my afternoon one day.

early morning start for Race For Peace.

The Aussie boys showing off their skills at the finish of Ride For Peace.

Kids enjoying the ride

more riding children.

"Women Can Too, I Can Too" UN Women tent at the finish of
Ride For Peace, they are helping to get more women to race in TDT.

Very happy kid finishing the ride.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Melb - Darwin - Darwin - Dili

Got on the plane to darwin, and as we were walking on I saw that there was no one in the premium seats. So I asked the flight attendant and moved! Free upgrade, perks of traveling alone.

Pretty uneventful flight, apart from the guy behind me snoring like a freight train. Landed in darwin, picked up my bag, rechecked, then to wait for 3 hours.

I grabbed some breakfast, sat and read my book for a bit, then tried to go to gate, they had closed passport control so I couldn't go through immigration and passport control to the international terminal. I waited another hour before being able to go through.

I was waiting to board and realized that Steve Bracks was on my flight to Dili. I found out later that he is the ambassador to Timor Leste so that makes sense. I happened to have a look in the inflight mag and there was an article on Timor, it mentioned the marathon and the tour de Timor (TDT) and there was one of Mat's photos from the marathon. Pretty cool.. We got warm scones and tea, then arrived in Dili.

When you fly to Dili, you fly over the country for about half an hour before you land, it is such an amazing and beautiful country from the air.

First day back in Timor, it's a bit strange being back here. But the people are just a nice and the weather just as hot and sticky so it feels the same.

Spent the day trying to work out what we were doing, there is so many people working on this event but its almost like it's too much, everyone is running around like mad, and no one tells us anything.. We are staying at Timor Lodge, which is the race headquarters instead of at Mick's as there is just too many people there, and we don't want to be in the way.

We went and had lunch, and then showed the city to one of the volunteers who had made friends with us, after that Mat took me to the massage place he keeps going on about.. Genuine massage place not a "massage" place haha..

I get a bit weirded out by people touching me like that so I wasn't super keen, but the massage was pretty good.. It was a 60 min full body massage, and I mean full body.. After she did my back and legs etc, I was asked to turn over then she did the front.. Including my boobs.. Well that got SUPER AWKWARD! anyway..

After that we headed back to Timor Lodge. Because it's kinda the headquarters everyone comes and goes, it's great to just hang around and you chat to everyone as the come past.

I also met Sara today, another volunteer, she actually did a year at PSC, so she has been helping us shoot among other things. She is a really lovely girl, we get on well.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

One Trip Down, One To Go..

I had been home a few days and then started preparations for going away again!

Mat left for Timor last week, and I'm heading tonight, spent a few days trying to sort out a camera, mine was being a bit shit since i got back from the US, and i didn't have time to get it fixed. i tried calling my insurance company, both my normal one and my travel insurance, neither offer hire gear for damaged items.. Then had to make one of my friends lend me their camera for 2 weeks.. not an easy feat. Thanks to Josh for saving my ass and with such a nice camera...

This trip is going to be different to any i have done previously so I was really unsure what to pack. because for one week we will be out on the road with the tour so i have to bring a tent and camping gear, but then the other week im basically living in 5 star accom on the beach, at Mick's place, and he has virtually everything, so thats all good. iv been camping before but this is different and i feel so unprepared, i have no idea what to take!

Finally finished packing about 7pm tonight, then to keep myself amused until midnight when ash so awesomely obliged to take me to the airport, she did get sausage dog shaped cookies for her trouble.

Now just sitting waiting at the gate, should be boarding momentarily.