Australia I Miss You…

Australia I miss you…

Birthday pondering

It’s been 5 months and 3 days since we last met. A family Christmas and a different country’s new year; exploring near and exploring far you still seem to have quite an effect on me. Without a doubt I think about you everyday.

I’ve eaten the timtams I brought home. They’re not quite the same when you’re not in Australia ;-). The TV has reminded. ‘Outback Truckers’, ‘Jimmy’s Australian food adventure’, Chris Tarrant’s ‘train journeys’ or ‘Nothing to declare’ all remind of a time that brings a smile to my face. The memories so clear, in my head it’s like I’m still there… Katherine’s stars, snakes and spiders, beautiful outback, driving tractors, ‘no worries’, to the awesomeness of Tasmania; changing hostel room companions; the variety of people, the so many awesome conversations that still make me smile.

Turns out that being home is really just not the same. Needs must but work is really just not as fun when your time off can’t be spent exploring far flung off lands. Getting used to the climate again the sun doesn’t seem to shine in quite the same way. Missing the warming tones of the sun helping your day as you head on your way. My ‘thongs’ on my feet as I walked to work in Broome, glorious sunshine overhead, music’s headphones in my ears… To wrapping up warm, staring out of the window, imagining far off warmer lands.

I suppose though perhaps what I miss more is that ‘travelling’ feeling I of course associate with your bounds. That newness of being in a new place. Of finding your own way around. Finding your favourite spot in a city, spending time there and finding your place. The peace that it brings and the contentedness of happiness of where you are or the clarity in how this might be found. The certainty of mind. The interactions with complete strangers, to friendships and connections found and of course of the association of these people with a place.

It certainly is a difficult thing coming home. They really are world’s apart. Only someone who has done it knows exactly how you feel. I understand why people don’t stay. I’m now not so sure if Edinburgh is even for me. My welcome perhaps overstayed. It certainly feels like the world is waiting for me… Stomping firmly on its feet. Saying hurry things up but yet patiently waiting for just the right time. These feet of mine are becoming ever so itchy. Where next? I suppose the big question, I’m looking forward to answering that soon.

Travel Theme: Possibility

With access to a computer, Ailsa’s new travel theme of possibility appeared in my reader. This is a well timed theme for me. Possibilities… 2013 for me held so many possibilities. Kangaroo Island or Kangaroo Valley last january; whether to stay in Adelaide or road trip the Great Ocean Road; Uluru or Tasmania from Melbourne; what farmwork to do; east, west or south in Katherine then what on earth to do in Perth. Some of these decisions were taken out of my hands. Various things were important at different times – cost, achievement, needing to work and wanting to be warm! I made the decision to be in Sydney exactly because of the possibilities it offered. The fact that it offered a window of possibility the same day a door shut…

Port Arthur's Windows

I love that travelling lets you have many possibilities. What you will find when you take those initial first steps… Finding a road to have a journey on and the directions and possibilities you will find along the way… North or south? East or West? Whether to stop a little longer than planned? The people who you meet that will inspire… Perhaps getting on a plane to another country… Perhaps a coin toss, the help of a map or the words of a friend to help you decide… Of course I wonder what could have happened with possibilities gone away, but having a choice is the best thing about travelling on your own. Sometimes they come back around :). Working out the best way can make it seem all the more rewarding when you eventually get there but if it doesn’t work you can just move on :-). I am lucky to have had so many possibilities. I have loved where my journey has taken me and what I’ve found along the way. I am already thinking of the possibilities 2014 offers me. There are so many possibilities everywhere around us. What will you choose?

88 Days Later

88 days… Does it sound long? Or does it sound short? Well the 88 days the Australian government required me to do farmwork in regional Australia is now complete. Five farms later (plus one extra for a couple of days), two in Northern Territory and three in Western Australia have certainly provided quite an experience for me! Some amazing people – Go, Clem, Shoko, Kimi, Jo, Lotti, Melissa, Steph, Ariel, Emma, Lauren, Greet and Peter have made it very fun along the way. Some awesome hosts have made me feel very welcome. Trying lots of new foods and recipes, learning many new things, I have been to some beautiful places (some that I may never have seen otherwise) and made lots of new memories :-).

Whilst completing these days, my goal was to see different places and practices and to learn as much as possible. To make it part of my journey here. Staying in one place did not appeal to me at all… Others goals and outputs maybe different, for me, I had paid for my wwoof membership, I figured I should make use of it :-). I liked the idea of exchange :-). Learning a lot about Australia and others countries and languages in this time, I hope that I have dispelled some stereotypes and put Scotland on some travel maps :-). Japan is now firmly on mine, as is a lot more of Asia.

Granted not all plain sailing, it has been one heck of a personal journey. From the low of the worst day of my travels with my last day in Tasmania to being picked back up again with so many laughs and giggles in Batchelor, to finding my way in Katherine, WA has granted me space and time to reflect on the next steps on the journey. Batchelor and Nogerrup's chicken farm sharing the favourite farm accolade; they very much let me be myself :-). Lavender though, will always hold a special place in my heart. Thank god I didn't find work in Melbourne! What a path it has led me on. So much has happened since it began seven months ago.

Some particular favourite moments:

  • All the amazing dogs i've encountered – Miley, Mishka, Mr T, Ella, Bonnie, Ozzie, Cesar, Lupo, Evan and Lily, you have turned me into a dog person!
  • 'Do you want to die' being yelled by Emma at the chickens when they were swarming round the quad bike
  • Travelling with boys vs travelling with girls discussions whilst grafting grapevines
  • TimTam Cake Pops
  • Walking the rows in Katherine listening to the music of my unplayed list
  • Race Day in Batchelor – filled with 'what's', sore hands, nearly fainting spells, rainbows, missing dogs, pizza, pool, wine and Eurovision. Awesome. All you do need is good company and a pool table
  • Chatting to Markus in Katherine and hearing his hilarious tale about Coober Pedy involving stars, kangaroos and the police
  • Washing eggs with Ariel and Emma. I loved our chats. Some of their questions would make me drop eggs!!!! 🙂
  • Watching scrubs with Go in Batchelor
  • Friends for a season, reason and lifetime chat on the Lavender farm
  • Laying plastic in Batchelor
  • Stargazing, sunsets and moons in Katherine
  • Priscilla and pizza on the vineyard
  • The day of the lavender salt challenge!

Learning a lot about doing farmwork in Australia and the visa requirements, I will be carrying this knowledge and sharing it when required with fellow backpackers. My work clothes, now entirely dilapidated, have been thrown away. My work gloves, bought for me by my relatives in Brisbane will be sent home a little worn and tired. My work boots will be put to rest for a little while until required as walking boots. It's amazing how many reminders there are. I miss so many of these people so much. What a journey :-). So much inspiration :-). I have loved putting my experience into words for you. Thank you for sharing it with me :-).

Penguin Road Trips, Mona exploring and Venturing on

My tour finishing, I used my last couple of days to explore. Venturing to Hobart’s Mona, the museum of new and old art, it was an interesting visual experience. Handed an 'o' device, like a smart phone, it provided information about each piece giving you the option to 'love' or 'hate' it. Novel for galleries, allowing you to save your tour to email, it is a bloggers best friend. Loving James Newitt's '$1 for your story' the most, walking round the gallery twice, my perspective on some of the pieces changed. Definitely one to be seen to be believed, the view of Hobart from the cafe is one not to be missed.

On Thursday, with penguins on the brain and an Adelaide friend in Tasmania I decided to road trip to the north coast to see her and the town of Penguin. Upgraded to a bigger car, who I so named Jessie, handed a key that looked like an iPod dock handset, the car starting using a button saying start and with the mechanism for moving the seat making me feel like an elderly person on a chairlift, I thought 'this is going to be interesting.' With the radio providing some perfect road trip music, driving along the Great Lake Road, the first thing I encountered was some sheep! Winging a right I found the Beaumont memorial and an amazing view of the Great Lake. Past many a spectacular sight, I drove through plains, valleys, forests, Grand Canyon like mountains and English countryside towns. Just wow. The island totally blowing me away, picking up Maria, the sun setting over the highway, we got to penguin and found us some penguins!

Catching the view of Hobart from Mt William before I left, headed back to Melbourne on Friday, with good blogging intentions, I got on the plane, closed my eyes and managed to sleep for the entire journey… Somewhat of an epic fail with a lot to achieve, I was more than a little bit grateful for Melbourne friends, Hollie and Michelle picking me up from the airport. Putting me up for the weekend, very gratefully, enjoying their and Viv's company, it will be bye bye Melbourne for a while. Heading up to Northern Territory to see what it holds, perhaps with less of the communicative technologies available, I may not manage to publish quite as many blog posts… I'll still be blogging though, perhaps on mobile. Update to follow :-).


The Diary of a Tassie Adventure – Day 6 – Richmond, the Devil’s Kitchen and Port Arthur

After an amazing sleep, it was the day that me, Joyce, Emma and Markus hit Port Arthur. Crossing the Tasman Bridge heading south, the first stop along the way was Richmond. The true definition of a hamlet, it was quaint, quirky and peaceful. Walking with Emma, we were more than a little surprised to find a talking gaol in such a small town… Booming, it informed us that 'insanity was obviously commonplace' at Richmond Gaol… Obviously…

Passing through rolling hills, noting the presence of cows, sheep and little towns, we came across the little town of Doo. A quirky name in the first place, the houses were so named to reflect this. An eclectic mix including Sheil-doo, just doo it, Didgeri Doo, Much-A-Do, Doo-N-Time, my personal favourite was Doo-Little.

After a pit stop at the Devil's kitchen, we headed on to Port Arthur – a convict settlement on the Tasman peninsula. Chosen due to its location on the peninsula, surrounded by water and guarded by dogs at the isthmus, it has a rich history in both punishment and ship building. Given a playing card on arrival, it represented an inmate whose story we were to find. Picking up the early morning walking tour, guided by Geoffrey Rush lookalike John, masquerading as a pirate, we learned the history, including a story about Colonel Booth, Edward Howard and 10 minute unsedated amputations. The site colourful with so much green against the blue sea and skies, the autumnal colours really stood out. Very much an english countryside feel within the site, viewing the properties, it was kind of like you were in Beatrix Potter's house!

Cruising the harbour, taking in the impressive scenery, past the isle of the dead we also learned the stories of the children sent to the juvenile prison. Some sent for stealing food and handkerchief's, it was definitely a hard time to be a child in poverty. Dropping into the church, the gardens and the prison, I found an interesting window. Finding my inmate in the visitor centre we then headed off for some more sightseeing. Diving into remarkable cave which ultimately wasn't that remarkable, Maingon bay and Pirates Bay, whilst impressive, a bit maxed out on landscapes, I would have preferred to have gotten lost in Port Arthur's stories for a bit longer.

Dropping Emma at the airport, the tour officially over, it was truly an amazing week. Not usually my favourite thing, in contrast, this week, loving it, I have become a walker. I hope to meet someone to hike to the southernmost point of Australia at Wilsons Prom with me. Deliberately avoiding knowing anything about the tour, with no expectations at all, I have truly been blown away by both the island and the people I met this week. Not having had time to look at or sort my pictures properly, I have taken over 1000 frames in a week. Whilst i'm sure that number will be halved by the time i'm finished, the words of a friend I met in Brisbane rang true in my ears – the number of pictures you take is indicative of the amount of fun you are having. Certainly having fun, it is perhaps the most fun and laughs I have had in a 6 day window ever.

The Diary of a Tassie Adventure – Day 5 – Wineglass Bay, Cape Tourville & Bonorong

After laughing ourselves silly the night before, we got up early to catch the sunrise. Some novelty pictures taken with Markus's Thai hat, we were then on our way via Great Oyster Bay.

Arriving early into the car park for Wineglass Bay at 8.04, red gloves on, the sun out shining, we started the second climb of the week. Spying the bay round the corner, turning professional photographer for 5 minutes, I hope I got a good shot of the nice German couple we met. Trundling through the trees, stumbling onto wineglass bay, alone on the beach, it was beautiful. So peaceful, the sun out, with the crashing of the waves and the birds in the trees, it kind of felt a little bit like paradise. A different walk from cradle, and a different final destination, it certainly lets you reflect on the 9-5 equivalent. Diving off alone for 10 mins, I climbed atop some rocks in search of a good foot picture. Successfully attained, and perhaps my favourite yet, we relaxed and ate some timtams.

Venturing back, the walk up was much harder than the way down! Enough steps to make many an escalator, our persistence eventually rewarded us. Looking the other way at Coles Bay, over the crest of the hill, Tassie showed what it has to offer. Walking down with Markus, with my body warmer on, walking boots fastened firmly on my feet with the sun in the sky it was just the vision I had imagined my tassie adventuring would entail. Reaching the bottom, back in the van, Emily wishing she had brought a wineglass, I concurred. That would definitely have made for some interesting photos…!

Onwards down the east coast, our guide took us to Cape Tourville. So amazing and the sea so blue, I have fair had an adventure this week. After some fish measurement banter, I was told by my guide to get myself onto the other side of the fence and put my chin on the post. After a whaaaat, without much time to think about it, I was picked up and hoisted over!

With three cameras pointed at me, laughing a lot, I climbed up on the rocks and posed away! Kirsten with my camera, she got an awesome shot of me literally on top of the world. Back in the van, the waifs playing, all chilled out, driving along, it was perfect road trip music.

A flying trip to Swansea (that would be swan sea and not swan zee) for lunch, we then had an afternoon visit to Bonorong wildlife park. With a very informative guide, telling us about their residents, I was apparently the only one who noticed her weird compulsion to tell every animal that they had been 'naughty' using baby talk…! As you do. Learning about Tasmanian devils, which are apparently no bigger than a grain of rice when born, seeing some massive koalas in comparison to the mainland, on Tassie, by law, only trained handlers can get koala hugs. Seeing my first joey, I was able to catch some kangaroo shilouettes in the setting sun.

With some evening banter of a very tasty free dinner, Dirty Granny's, Moo Brew and colouring in, we said goodbye to another 2 tour members. Another awesome day had, I wonder what tomorrow holds.

With so many giggles again today it would be criminal not to note them down!

Laughter List part 2

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