The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot – Michael Altshuler.
It’s weird to think that my final night and day in Australia was me sitting in an airport waiting for my connecting flight to Bali, because that is what I was doing at 3am when writing this post. In a way, I felt like I had already said goodbye to Australia when I left for my surprise visit at the end of February. I’m glad I made the decision to go straight to Bali, followed by Singapore, to embark on a five week holiday – one last adventure.
Australia, for me, was one hell of a ride, with highs and lows that come with travelling; I certainly won’t be writing a worst moments post because who wants to read, or focus their energy, on that? Certainly not me. I learnt a lot during my travels about myself; people around me; travelling and different cultures; history and countries in general. A lot of this learning has come from my favourite moments of Australia, some of which can’t simply be put into a number, or one single moment. However, here are the ones that can…
1. Travelling the west coast with Adventure Tours.
There will definitely be a whole load of posts dedicated to this sometime in the future. Western Australia, for me, is the most stunning state due to its nature – the waterfalls, the gorges, the parks, the trees, even the sides of the roads. I loved it for so many reasons: one of them being I had the best group I could have possibly asked for with Adventure Tours, and another is I switched off from the outside world which was actually a welcome change, especially for me.
2. Living the city life in Melbourne.
Melbourne will always be my favourite city in Australia as well as my favourite city to settle in. It reminds me so much of Liverpool and London with its diversity in people and cultures, not to mention the constant music from its street performers. Although it is a city, there are beaches and the incredible Royal Botanic Gardens which add to the flair of the place. Plus, it has incredible cafes and restaurants with delicious food and the best hot chocolates in the world. Saving the best ’til last – and getting mushy at the same time – Melbourne was a highlight because of the wonderful friendships I made with my DJs colleagues and my flatmates (and travel bezzies – they can’t get rid of me even now) Dan and Alice; as well as fellow Roey, Ben.
3. Road-tripping Melbourne to Adelaide via The Great Ocean Road.
One of my things to check off the bucket list was going on a road trip and I did just that with Dan and Alice. It was amazing! So much fun. I drove which was definitely an experience, especially when completing the drive back to Melbourne on my own. South Australia is another place that I think isn’t marketed as much as other states; however it is well worth going to visit, especially the smaller towns. Plus the ocean views are some of the best I’ve seen in Australia.
4. Leaving Charters Towers.
After working in that small town for nearly four months, it was safe to say I was skipping out of the door, even if I was a tad emotional about it too, that was Tyson’s fault…
5. Meeting up with my friends in Cairns, and making new ones too.
Round Two of Cairns was a little two long for me in terms of the fortnight I stayed there, but it was my first stop after leaving Charters Towers and it was also the place I was reunited with Ben, Dan and Alice! I was extremely happy to be there, finally in good company. Plus, I met some other fantastic people too including Lucy, Carenza, Nia, Lizzie and two Dutch girls: Tine and Rikke.
6. Spontaneously getting a tattoo (my eleventh one!).
I did not see this coming on the day that it happened. I was in Cairns and new friend Carenza wanted a tattoo but was a little nervous so I said I’ll get one with you and off we went. It cost me $100 which was pretty steep for my little wave: that’s Aussie prices for you. There wasn’t much time to chicken out (at this point I was getting more and more poor) and all of a sudden, I was lying on my side with the familiar buzzing in my ears. No regrets.
7. Pretending to be a surfer chick for a week.
I am in no way going to be the next Rip Curl or Billabong star because I cannot surf to save my life. It was fun pretending though: carrying the boards, having salty hair, wearing cold wetsuits, being in the sea and getting a tan. Going to a surf camp is the best thing anybody can do if they want to learn because there are intense, fun classes with the pros and a sense of family as everybody eats together, drinks together and chills out together.
8. Spending New Year’s weekend in Sydney.
Is there really anywhere else to spend NYE in Australia during your working holiday visa? The fireworks are mesmerising, the atmosphere is electric, the sun is scorching and the memories are amazing. Yes, it was tiring and a very long weekend in terms of early morning ands late nights but it was all worth it for the fact that I have spent New Year’s weekend in Sydney. And Field Day is something that should not be missed. It was the best start to 2017.
9. Chilling and exploring in Magnetic Island.
Magnetic Island was a welcome bliss after a few weeks of partying pretty much non-stop. Base Hostel is the best hostel in Australia as it is set right on top of the beach, overlooking the ocean. We hired an infamous Barbie car that whizzed us around half the island, held a koala bear, walked up an old fort used during WW2 and shopped at Horseshoe Bay. It was definitely my favourite place along the east coast.
10. Skydiving over Mission Beach.
Probably the most exhilarating, mental thing I have ever done in my life. I fell out of a plane. All the way up, even in the plane, I wasn’t nervous: I was ready for it… right until the moment when the door opened. That’s when the fear kicked in. Then, I fell. It was a crazy, indescribable feeling that leaves you buzzing for quite a while afterwards. It makes you want to do it again and again because there’s nothing quite like falling through the sky.
11. Meeting Hannah and Erika during the first (daunting) fortnight.
The first week is probably the scariest for any solo traveller. I am so glad that I met Hannah on my second day in Australia and Erika on my tenth. We became a mini trio who travelled half of the the east coast together, which included Erika flying back to meet Hannah and I in Surfers Paradise. We laughed so much, about stupid things really; literally laughed until our sides killed us and we were on the verge of wetting ourselves. I can’t imagine the east coast without them.
12. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
I’ve already touched on these in my Best Melbourne Moments post but they definitely need to be the top fifteen of the whole of my Aussie travels. Spending the festive season in a hot country – away from home – is something that should be experienced, in my opinion. It not only makes you appreciate home a lot more, but it is all part of learning about other cultures and experiencing new things. Finishing the Christmas rush in retail at 6pm on Christmas Eve definitely made the entire holiday much better; I appreciated it a whole lot more.
13. Having a hilarious but not-so-great week in Darwin.
Darwin had been planned for months between Ben and I. It started off with being drunk/hungover on the plane so – in retrospect – that should have been the indication of the week to come. We screamed with laughter together, watched The Girl On The Train despite not having the funds to, shopped and cooked together, cried together and got lost together. Darwin itself wasn’t the best but we made the best of it in terms of generally having a good old giggle.
14. Uncle Brian’s Rainforest Tour.
This was probably one of the best tours I had in Australia. I got to do the Herbal Essence hair flick in Millaa Millaa Waterfall where Peter Andre shot his music video for Mysterious Girl; I slid down a natural water slide without getting bumps on my bum, I swam in natural freshwater pools and I got to learn about some aboriginal myths in the process. It helped that Cousin Jimbo was a right hoot and kept us going with jokes, games and chocolate for the entire thirteen hours.
15. Driving a 4×4 across the biggest sand island in the world.
Visiting Fraser Island is on everyone’s Aussie highlights. It is a stunning island surrounded by the beautiful teal green, bright blue ocean. It has lakes that are incredible and forests that are easy to get lost in. However, it is not all about the nature here as the mode of transport is at the top of the list with what attracts visitors: 4x4s that you can drive yourself, as long as you’re 21 and have a licence. It is an impactful feeling to have the ocean at the side of you and the sand in front of you and the wheel in your control, on the opposite side of the world.
I had so many incredible adventures! If you’ve gone on a gap year – or travelled abroad – recently, what are your favourite experiences?
Love, Faye x