#the1001project – On Anxiety & Falling for Sydney on Day 1

The 1001 Project is my ongoing venture to finish items from various 1001 Before You Die lists. For other blog posts you can click here, or for a better description you can click here.

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First: A Prelude to Adventure

I used to love airports. There’s a great sense of anticipation, waiting in an airport, either knowing where you’re going, or not having a plan but considering your options, knowing there’s somewhere new or exciting just hours away, and you can go anywhere you want to if you set your mind to it. I was always someone who arrived at airports hours early to soak up the anticipation of a holiday or the buzz of adventure. I’ve travelled solo enough times to be completely comfortable waiting for a journey alone in a room packed with people coming and going, and never had I found anything to be anxious about with travel.

Until three years ago.

Four years ago I was experiencing anxiety in its most desperate and nervous state. It’s not the time to explain why, although it’s never really the time to explain why, but all roads lead somewhere and mine resulted in abandoning my sister on a flight to my grandmother’s funeral in 2013 because I was overwhelmed and claustrophobic. Until May 2016, I hadn’t flown in three years.

I wasn’t anxious about the funeral, I had never been claustrophobic before and with parents who lived on opposite sides of the country to each other, I was a perfectly seasoned traveller – I’d been flying alone with my sister since the age of six. But anxiety is anxiety and it manifested itself as a panic attack during boarding where I left my – granted, she is as well, or perhaps more well travelled – teenage sister to go on alone.

The process of overcoming these problems has taken years, but step by step and slowly but surely, the unconscious side-effects of this situation have been dealt with in time, until the final and most difficult was set for last – flying for fun. But as of December 2016, I can finally say that, with the aid of one or more anti-anxiety tools for backup, I can fly again.


Therefore: Sydney

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I had a blast.

Have you ever been to a new city before and straight away just “yep, this is my vibe” and all of a sudden things fall into place and you know you’re somewhere that’s for you. That was Sydney. Now, I will always love Perth and as I’ve said countless times before, I will always return to the SWAFR, it’s my home. But Sydney was just perfect. Maybe only needing to survive two days was the key, but I have a sneaking suspicion that that’s not it.

Sydney is also the second best Australian locality for #the1001project so here’s a run-down of my 56 hours of constant adventure.

Day One: ANZACs, Heights & So Much Walking

The first key to travel is understanding timezones, and though I crossed state lines five times in ten days during my holiday, I’m happy to report that I avoided jet lag completely. That first day though, waking up at 4:30am “my” time was not easy.

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Day One started with an early train to Hyde Park. Now I had travelled to Sydney once before, as a beret-wearing, book-loving thirteen year old – there are no photos of this phase, thankfully – and I have specific memories of grumpily heading to Hyde Park with my parents and my copy of the Goblet Of Fire in tow. In some ways my travel habits have not changed – if where we’re going is of no concern to the 1001 Project and does not have a museum of natural history or a petting zoo, then please leave me in my hotel room so I can read and watch Gilmore Girls. More importantly though, in many ways it has changed, and Hyde Park was the first tangible proof that I was no longer that inside kid.

While the Park itself is not on any of the relevant lists, there are two nearby attractions which are: The ANZAC War Memorial & The Hyde Park Barracks. Side note, there is also a museum of natural history, but unfortunately I didn’t have the time.

The photo above is a relatively terrible representation of the War Memorial, but a cute photo of me, and though the fellow I asked to be my Instagram husband for the moment had “just returned from an overseas trip where he became adept at portrait  photography” he did a remarkably poor job with a real photo – it’s in portrait orientation and anyone who follows me on Instagram knows that isn’t how I roll so this’ll do for now.

The ANZAC Memorial however, is fantastic. I’ll soon post a YouTube video of the days I spent in Sydney and if you haven’t been to the ANZAC Memorial in Sydney, please consider watching it because the artistic symbolism throughout the monument is wonderful, and it’s too difficult to portray in either text or photography. One item of particular note however, is the incorporation of nurses into the list of commemorated casualties of the collective war effort. They are memorialised among the important groups which also include the army, air force and navy leaders. To me this gesture to the underrepresented women, over 2000 of whom served overseas during the Great War is significant and in my experience, one of a kind.

As an Australian, the ANZACs are kinda like our gladiators. Not in a glorified or overall sense, but we each have connections to a family member who was involved in World War I, and though far from exalting war in its many forms, the commemoration of the ANZACs is fuelled by a certain sense of pride and respect. Seeing this memorial for all of the soldiers and nurses who lost their lives was a sobering and pensive experience, which I’m glad I was able to experience in the relative silence and contemplation of the memorial.

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As of December 2016, the ANZAC War Memorial is actually receiving an upgrade. Though the initial building commemorates all 120,000 casualties from New South Wales, these men and women are represented by stars on the roof of the building. The upgrade will instead present soil samples from each suburb as a token of memory. In addition it will also expand the memorial and incorporate rooms with an emphasis on education and support.

Please click here for more information or donations!

Stop number two for the day was the Hyde Park Barracks, and where the Memorial made me pensive and reflective of our past, the memory of Australia being formed by convicts has always been humorous to me. I think there’s something telling in the fact that our entire society was based on a group of people who stole bread or killed people, and I’m not sure exactly what it is, but it’s definitely great that we are all related to people who were the scum of England.

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It’s really hard to take something seriously when you know there were probably people who were stuck there because they stole an apple, and your mum always taught you that eating grapes while you’re in Coles is fine.

To be honest, after the ANZAC War Memorial, the Hyde Park Barracks was a little less special. I’ve grown up with Fremantle Prison, so the Barracks seemed too similar to be particularly interesting, and it’s difficult to discuss properly an experience that isn’t new or educational. The stand-out parts of the exhibition were comedic ones, which I vlogged about and you can see in the video part of this blog post.

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As for the rest of this blog post, I have suddenly discovered that while exhaustive and detailed, 1300 words is entirely ridiculous, so I am going to split the rest of the information in further blog posts – including the much more interesting topics of the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and of course the Hunger Games exhibit, but honestly, that’s just good writing, making you come back a second time…

x Casey

Glee-son Two: Road to Nationals

This is the first of a new kind of blog post, where I recap the most reason tv series I’ve watched from 1001 TV Series to Watch Before You Die. As such, it’s still in the works and will likely fit into the YouTube schedule when I start that in a couple of weeks. 

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Glee on IMDB
2009-2015
Comedy/Drama/Musical – 44 minute episodes – TV-PG
Created By: Ian Brennan, Brad Falchuk & Ryan Murphy
Starring: Lea Michele (Rachel Berry), Matthew Morrison (Will Schuester), Jane Lynch (Sue Sylvester) Chris Colfer (Kurt Hummel) & Kevin McHale (Artie Abrams)


I remember being eighteen and hearing about a new television show with “Wendla” from Spring Awakening in it, knowing that it would be about a group of singing, dancing teenagers and being absolutely ecstatic. I also remember being 19 and specifically using my three hour uni break on a Thursday to sleep while torrenting the newest Glee episode, then watching the episode in snippets throughout the day. The combination of determination and what I thought were the absolute cutest outfits, made Rachel Berry and Glee my number one favourite show for its first three seasons.

A lot has changed in seven years however. I mean, these days my favourite show features a bubbly, loving brunette with bangs and optimism to spare, who has trouble with boys and likes to sing… a lot. Hmm, so maybe things aren’t that different, actually.

Glee has always been one of those shows, hated by a large percentage of the population, for its portrayal of high school dorky performers as well as “lessons” in every episode, from the dangers of teen drinking, the realities of teen pregnancy, and both the mundane and hyperbolised intricacies of teenage life. It’s soap opera style of incestuous relationship cycling, coupled with the idealised display of talent and competition makes it the perfect show for only a single, persistent demographic: teenage middle to high school girls.

But coming back to it five years later after not watching from season four onward… I don’t hate Glee.

I’m going to receive criticism from the fold, who will say “Casey, you run a podcast about New Girl, and you take a lot of selfies of you eating donuts”, and while you may be correct about my biases, I have several solid arguments for why Glee still remains high on the list of shows discussed by teenage girls on Tumblr blogs around the globe.

Glee‘s appeal to the aforementioned middle school girls is more than just Darren Criss dressed in a private school uniform, it appeals to the need for validation in a world where you’re constantly made to feel ordinary: because “being part of something special makes you special”. Glee‘s messages of acceptance are trite and overused, but the display and recognition of talent, even in various degrees or types can be a lifeboat in the constant reality of cut-throat competition among peers in high school. As a teenage girl you’re constantly being convinced to fit in while being required to have something that makes you stand out and for this, Glee is more than bubblegum television for young girls, in some places it is a strong reminder to dream big and stay true to what you believe in yourself.

But the show is also actually, genuinely funny in places.

While those places may be surrounded one hundred fold by lines that make me grimace and cringe, it’s tough to doubt that Jane Lynch is the comedic backbone of the show and Naya Rivera as Santana “[making out with another girl] is not cheating because the plumbing’s different” Lopez and Chris Colfer as Kurt Hummel with his perfect physical comedy moments give the show at least a good punch or two per episode.

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So I have to admit that 90% of the appeal for me is half the poppy upbeat bangers that aren’t really bangers but actually cheer me up and the similarities I see between myself and Rachel Berry. But if you’re a teenager who’s trying to navigate the tricky world of middle school and trying to figure yourself out, I have to stand by my assessment that I think Glee  might be for you.

Stay tuned for a more season-particular review of Glee Season 3 within the next couple of weeks.

Top Travel: Western Australia

This list and any other Top Travel lists are in conjunction with my side venture The 1001 Project and are not only ongoing, but extensive. This page will be continuously updated as I visit more of the top travel destinations in WA.

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Bluff Knoll
Mt Barker, Western Australia
1001 Natural Wonders & 1001 Walks

With stunning 360 degree views of the Stirling Ranges from its summit, Bluff Knoll is the highest peak within the Southwestern Australian Floristic Region. During the months of August to October, thousands of wildflowers in bloom make this the leading destination for botany enthusiasts and adventurers alike.

With a vertical height of 1095m, the third tallest mountain in Western Australia, the 3.1km return trip with a hiking classification of 4 (moderately difficult), requires approximately 3 to 4 hours return, but experienced hikers or fitness freaks can complete the trek in under 120 minutes.

While September is the ideal season to visit Bluff Knoll for wildflowers, any time between May and October is suitable, weather permitting. Climate can change instantaneously, and during winter it is uncommon, but not unheard of to experience frost and even snowfall during particularly cold days. Take adequate water and sun protective equipment at all times, but consider taking wet or cold weather gear even if it might seem gratuitous.

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Torndirrup Peninsula
Albany, Western Australia
1001 Natural Wonders

Located approximately 30 minutes drive from Albany central, Torndirrup National Park is one of several protected nature reserves in the town’s vicinity, and one of two specified as Natural Wonders. With several picturesque options, there are a range of attractions to visit within the park.

The Peninsula itself is the most frequently visited, featuring both the Gap and Natural Bridge formations. No exertion is necessary, with a large open car park after a short drive, however as of December 2015, restoration activities were occurring at Natural Bridge and access was prohibited.

If you’re feeling slightly more adventurous, Cable Beach (pictured above) is my personal favourite, requiring some dirt track driving, rock walking that can be dangerous in wet weather and descent of a wooden staircase. The “beach” is non-accessible by foot without steep climbs, and high wind or water pressure can produce large, dangerous swell, so please use your own discretion and judgement when visiting.

Torndirrup also features several steep and exhaustive trails including Isthmus Hill (10km, 6-8 hour return trip) and Peak Head (4.3km, 2 hour return trip with some rock climbing), as well as short trips to the Stony Hill car park and Heritage Trail (500m, 20 minute walk) and as I would highly recommend, the Salmon Holes (300m, 10 minute walk).

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Two Peoples Bay National Park
Albany, Western Australia
1001 Natural Wonders

Little Beach (pictured above) at Two Peoples Bay National Park is so far the most convincing argument yet against my prevailing dislike of beaches. Located 35km east of Albany, this spot is one of the more convenient secrets of the Albany area, and yet secluded enough to remain relatively unknown.

As with other national parks in the area, Two Peoples Bay features several options depending on the level or type of activity. For bush-walkers and flora/fauna enthusiasts, the Heritage Trail, a 4.6km Moderately Difficult hike takes you on a 2 hour return loop through woodland with strategic lookouts along the path to view the sheltered bay. For fishermen and swimmers, the Bay itself has open shallow water perfect for frolicking, or swimming with small children and a boat ramp allowing access by open water to Little Beach.

Little Beach itself is the headline act for Two Peoples Bay. With deep, clear water for 50-100m and clean white sand, surrounded by dense natural flora (unfortunately pictured above post-burning in December 2015) and granite rock, this is a perfect, secluded location for a summer swim, with the only downfall being the unfortunately low temperatures in Albany year-round. The area is large, with plenty of room, affording everyone the luxury of desolation even if you’re sharing the beach with several other groups.

Introducing: The Roosevelt Readers Club

The Roosevelt Readers Club was created as a component of The 1001 Project, and is therefore the junction between loving reading and the outdoors, just as Teddy Roosevelt himself was a fan of both. We meet once a month to discuss a book from the list of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die, and we pick a new location in Perth to do so and eat food.

This month, just as a rookie would do, the book I chose was The Children’s Book by AS Byatt and we visited Aliment in West Leederville.


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The Novel: The Children’s Book, by AS Byatt

A spellbinding novel, at once sweeping and intimate, from the Booker Prize–winning author of Possession, that spans the Victorian era through the World War I years, and centres around a famous children’s book author and the passions, betrayals, and secrets that tear apart the people she loves.

When Olive Wellwood’s oldest son discovers a runaway named Philip sketching in the basement of the new Victoria and Albert Museum—a talented working-class boy who could be a character out of one of Olive’s magical tales—she takes him into the storybook world of her family and friends.

But the joyful bacchanals Olive hosts at her rambling country house—and the separate, private books she writes for each of her seven children—conceal more treachery and darkness than Philip has ever imagined. As these lives—of adults and children alike—unfold, lies are revealed, hearts are broken, and the damaging truth about the Wellwoods slowly emerges. But their personal struggles, their hidden desires, will soon be eclipsed by far greater forces, as the tides turn across Europe and a golden era comes to an end.

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At a substantial 617 pages, The Children’s Book was a mistake to choose for a book club. After initially planning to meet three weeks ago, our meetup date was changed twice to accommodate the length and difficulty of the novel. Even then only one attendee had read the entire book, and I still had 60 pages to go. It’s not the easiest novel to digest either – with large blocks of historical context and almost as many characters as Game of Thrones, it’s not an ideal choice if you’re interested in light reading and many of the book club members were feeling the struggle by the opening scenes.

That said, in my opinion (because I run this blog and the book club), the novel is wonderful. It’s clearly a novel about artists, by an artist. With heady descriptions, thoroughly researched background and literary allusions, it’s a very difficult but rewarding read that unlike many novels succeeds in absorbing you completely in the story. It’s not fluffy, and many of the themes are confronting – sexual coercion, incest, suicide and mental illness to name a few – which is unsettling, but the story is immersive and kept me constantly interested and invested.

Don’t take my word for it though: while several members of the group agreed it was difficult to continue after Part I, those who continued reading expressed the same sentiments about characters and descriptive text, and most agreed to needing to know how the story ended.


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The Cafe: Aliment Cafe, West Leederville

Aliment Cafe on Instagram
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Location: 170 Railway Parade, West Leederville
Cuisine: Cafe; Breakfast Bar; Locally Produced Beverages
Price Range: $18 – $30

Having extra people with you to try a cafe is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand you can steal Clinton’s brownie stuffed pancakes to photograph (see above), but on the other hand Clinton has brownie stuffed pancakes when you chose the mushroom hash because yesterday you sugar crashed after an Iced Chocolate, but now you have food envy.

Aliment is a small but cosy restaurant along the main street in West Leederville, that was made pleasantly quite by roadworks along Railway Parade. With a wide range of foods and local artisan beverages, the only things missing were options for vegans, which was a condition for my choice when consulting The Urban List, and was therefore a little disappointing.

Option I Chose: Mushroom Hash with Eggs Benedict and Spinach – a hearty and tasty vegetarian option.
Notable Alternative: The Brownie Filled Pancakes special! Pictured above, this sweet treat breakfast was coveted by the whole table.


The Club: A Success

“One of the better outcomes of The 1001 Project” is quite a statement as this project has brought me nothing but joy and positive experiences, but this first meeting of the Roosevelt Readers Group was better than most. What was going to be a discussion of the book, devolved into a few hours spent discussing reading, literature and life in general with a really great bunch of people, and something I’m really looking forward to continuing in future.

However, we continue to welcome new members! If you’d like to be part of a group that loves reading, meeting new people and trying new food places in Perth, send us a message on Facebook or email the1001project@gmail.com!

x Casey