27th July 2015: Nine months to the date since I first set foot on Australian soil and began this unpredictable year of adventure.
I honestly never believed I’d be able to say this, but I’ve been travelling and living in Australia for nine whole months! I could have carried a baby in that time! I haven’t, thankfully! Instead I’ve surfed, I’ve skydived, I’ve kayaked, I’ve snorkelled, I’ve picked blueberries, I’ve swum in waterfalls, I’ve milked goats, I’ve hiked, I’ve pulled schooners and I’ve even changed dirty nappies all in the space of three quarters of a year. I’ve done things I wouldn’t have done in a month of Sundays this time a year ago – my life out here could not be more different to the predictable and comfortable (read: boring!) life I left back in England.
And it feels so great to be able to say that!
As with all of my milestone posts I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. I’m naturally a very reflective person anyway so this isn’t really that much of a surprise! However there’s something about travel and being in a country in the opposite side of the world to your nearest and dearest that makes reflection all the more poignant – the person who will return to them in October will not be the same person they said goodbye to last year after all. I can tell I’m a different person these days to who I was in 2014, and as much as all those aforementioned new and exciting experiences have played their part I feel my most dramatic changes can be attributed I all the amazing people I have met so far throughout this adventure.
Every step of the way and every big decision I have made whilst here in Australia I have relied upon my instincts. You know that feeling in my gut I keep referring to? The one where I just know if something is right for me or not? I’ve been relying on that to tell me where to go and what to do next, and it’s basically the silliest thing to go off ever because seriously how can you live your life depending on such a leap of faith?! Especially for someone like me who 12 months ago couldn’t do anything without a plan, and who once made a New Years resolution to be spontaneous! Yes, you read that right, I actually planned to be spontaneous…!
But you know what? Relying on my gut has bloody well worked because throughout I have been surrounded by the right sorts of people for the life experiences that have been thrown my way. I arrived, bright eyed and bushy tailed with about 25 others who had also booked through BUNAC, and it was great to have each other around for the first few weeks while we all found our feet and provided some much needed moral support to one another. I then made my way to Coffs Harbour where I made the best friends – some of whom I hope will be friends for life, and if not then at least future travel buddies at some other point! I was lucky enough to see in 2015 and enjoy my time in Melbourne with them, creating some of the best memories so far.
I then became an au pair – one of my best decisions to date. Not because it was the best job going (although it totally was!) but because I got to work for the loveliest family in Sydney, look after the two greatest kids and make some proper Australian friends in the surrounding area. I remember other backpackers asking why I wanted to do something that involved looking after others as well as myself, but it turned out that a family unit was exactly what I needed at that time. For one thing it was nice to settle for a bit after the instability of three months travel with no work. Then, as many of you will know, my Grandad died whilst I was living and working with them. Who doesn’t need family during a time like that? ❤
And now here I am in Tullamore, NSW! I’m in the middle of nowhere doing regional work in order to obtain my second year working holiday visa because that’s what my gut instincts told me was the right thing to do! It’s an intense situation to be in as it’s impossible to get anywhere without a car, so on our day off each week Michaela and I take complete advantage and attempt to get out of town for a few hours in order to not go too stir crazy! But it’s the right situation for me currently. I mentioned in my last post how much of a community feeling there is to this place, and I’m a sucker for a good community! There have been some changes in my personal life as of late and all I’ve really wanted is a hug from The Mothership, a good cup of tea and some proper Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Sadly good quality chocolate and The Mothership are a million miles away, but the copious amounts of tea alongside the love and support from the locals are doing just as good a job!
It’s not obvious at the time, but each and every single person I’ve met out here has had an impact upon me and who I am as a person. I’m being made to question things, challenge my own opinions and learn about other ways of life I am not familiar with. As a big lover of musicals and an even bigger lover of quotes this realisation reminded me of a line from the song ‘For Good’ from the musical Wicked:
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But, because I knew you,
I have been changed for good.
I couldn’t have said it any better myself. I can’t promise I’ll be returning home to England in three months time as a better person, although I sure hope so because I quite like the person I’m turning out to be! But I do know that the experiences and the people I have encountered have had such an impact that there no going back now – I will never be the person that I was before.
It really feels now like I’m on the home stretch of this adventure. I’m here in Tullamore until the end of September, after that I have a trip up the east coast planned and then I’ll be heading home! Where there will be tea and biscuits and Christmas decorations up too early and my own bed and fairy lights and too many TV series to catch up on and bonfire night and all sorts of other things that help to epitomise the word ‘home’ to me. Bring on the next few months 🙂