My time in Australia is over. There’s no point beating around the bush (I was doing that for six months in the Kimberley). But it still hasn’t quite sunk in yet, and probably won’t until I’m sitting on the plane to Hong Kong.
I’ve had a great month in Sydney. I got to play in a massive ball pool, I fitted in a lot of beach time and the Bondi to Coogee walk (beautiful), I caught up with some old friends. I even tried surfing for the first time (didn’t stand but I managed to squat which is basically the same thing)!
I had a week-long pole dance camp with such an amazing community of people. Never have I been that sore in my life but it was so worth it. At its peak, I was aching so much that one morning one of my poor hostel roommates tentatively asked me if I was okay, because apparently throughout the night I’d groaned every time I moved!
I went on a three day trip to Canberra (with a population just shy of 360,000, it feels like someone built the capital city and then forgot to tell everyone it was there).
And I finished it all off with a party on a boat, fireworks over Sydney, losing my phone in an Uber (got it back), and losing my voice (haven’t got that back yet).
A month in Sydney was a great way to finish off almost a year of travelling. Of course, I’m looking forward to seeing friends and family back home, but right now I’m mostly just sad (cue violins).
So to make parting easier, I’ve decided to go through all the things, as a Londoner, which I won’t miss about Australia (because I’m such a positive person):
First of all, Australian weather. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the endless summer and I’m going to miss my tan when it inevitably fades, but Australia only deals in extremes. It should never be over 30°C at night. It should not be possible for it to be that hot when the sun’s not even out.
I also won’t miss the chore of putting on suncream almost every day. Sweaty, red-faced, and then sticky to boot. You’re not even safe when it’s cloudy. The extreme UV ratings mean getting burnt on an overcast day is a very real possibility! But I guess I hate skin cancer more than the inconvenience of suncream…
And don’t get me started on Melbourne’s weather. Changeable doesn’t even begin to explain.
And the price of books?! My heart almost stopped the first time I saw how much I was expected to pay for a standard paperback. $17.99 (about £11) for one that I could get for £4 back home. As someone who refuses to get a Kindle, I felt discriminated against for my old-fashioned ways. This didn’t stop me from buying books. Please, I’m still human. But it was an expensive habit. If you’re planning a trip to Australia, buy a Kindle, be rich, or bring a library with you. Those are your only options.
Wow, all of this ranting is making me kind of thirsty. And speaking of being thirsty, I cannot get over the overwhelming choice Australians have for soft drink sizes (pretty smooth segue, am I right?). Looking at Coke, for example, I have, no word of a lie, seen all of the following sizes: 250ml, 330ml, 375ml, 385ml, 450ml, 600ml, 1.25l, 2l.
Is this really necessary? Who are these Goldilockses who balk at the sight of a 385ml can, but see 375ml and thank their lucky stars?? I am overwhelmed by choice every time I walk into a supermarket.
I am not, however, overwhelmed by the supermarkets’ choice of sandwiches. Mainly because they rarely sell any. Which makes no sense.
I can buy all the ingredients for a sandwich, but not the sandwich itself. No quick trip to Coles to grab a cheap lunch, and, most importantly, no meal deals. Tragic, I know. How they manage is a mystery…
I’m sure other things will occur to me after I post this, but if you’re as riled as I am right now, you probably can’t deal with anything else.
If I’m being honest with you though, I can’t leave it there. These fleeting frustrations paled in comparison to how much I loved Australia.
I will miss its sheer beauty, the variation of the landscape (from desert, to lush waterholes, to rainforest. Flat, mountainous. Reds, greens, yellows, blues), beautiful beaches every five minutes. I will miss its people and its travellers. The friendship and support I have encountered at every turn has been overwhelming. I will miss the wildlife: waking up to sound of parrots and cockatoos in the morning (more romantic in hindsight); watching the sun set behind a mob of kangaroos; getting blasé about finding goannas, skinks, and water dragons round every corner; seeing dolphins, whales, sharks, kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, platypuses, crocodiles, dingoes, and echidnas in the wild.
I will miss having air conditioning on public transport, and Matso’s cider, and wearing flip flops almost every day. I will miss swagging it under the stars and the open air cinemas and all the ice cream I could ever dream of.
Funnily enough, I will miss the abbreviations and the slang. The servos and the op-shops, the bottle-os and stubby coolers. The abbreviations just bamboozled me a bit at first (‘afternoon’ to ‘arvo’. Is it really that difficult to say ‘afternoon’?), but I’ve grown to love them. Brissy, Tassie, wedgies, Freo, swimmers, freshies, salties, and Woolies. Gold star to anyone back home who can get all of those.
It seems appropriate that I’m actually finishing off this blog post on the plane. I managed to get a last look at the red pindan dirt from the air and I said goodbye as we flew over Darwin and out into the sea. I’d be more upset if I hadn’t just found the Tim Tam stash at the back of the plane – it’s helping me process all these emotions.
Travelling has been an adventure and Australia is full of people and places I will never forget. It all sounds so clichéd, I love it!
I’ll finish with a few nuggets of wisdom for any fellow travellers:
- Most hostels don’t have freezers so don’t get excited and buy a massive tub of ice cream without checking first (you will have to eat all of it in one sitting).
- Don’t forget there’s a feather on your hat when you need to get through customs. You will be having heart palpitations until you get through the other side.
- Ravioli in soup is cheap, delicious and will become your best friend.
- A travel washing line is the greatest thing you will ever buy (just ignore the inevitable haters).
Words to live by. Anyway, onwards to home and the next adventure!