A fond farewell to a beloved country
03.08.2015 28 °C
There were tears - more than I expected - as I said goodbye to the place I have called home for the last year.
'Straya has been a real mix of tricks - each location has a different feel, a different story to tell and a different memory for me to treasure.
I've visited six of the seven states, seen all the main animals on the tick list and accomplished something many thought impossible - ditching the 9 to 5 to see more of the world.
I remember in April 2014 I handed in my notice at work and suddenly the realisation of what I was doing finally hit. Before that, the booking the planes and applying for visas hadn't seemed real. But actually telling my boss and "coming out" to my colleagues was a big deal - and it meant it was really happening.
But not a minute has passed where I haven't been reassured that that decision was the best one I'd ever made.
Many times I have put down my camera, stopped talking and just ENJOYED. I just stood there and mentally pinched myself to check it was all really happening.
There are so many memories I will treasure forever .This isn't a definitive list, but it gives you a good idea....
- seeing Sydney Opera House for the first time. (see pictures of the SOH during Vivid by clicking here)
- staying in my very first hostel in Newcastle. There were three other girls in the room and I remember thinking "this isn't so bad".
- going off the beaten track for the first time in Coffs Harbour. I met a local on the beach and he took me, Fay and his two dogs up to a lookout that wasn't really well-known by travellers. The views were amazing and I learned a lot about Australian kindness and humour from this man.
- scuba diving in Byron Bay and seeing sharks and turtles. I actually couldn't believe how much wildlife I'd seen in such a short space of time.
- cuddling a koala at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. 'Nuf said.
- totally letting my hair down in Brisbane. I had one of the best nights out here. So many giggles and I was totally carefree.
- seeing jumping crocs in the Northern Territory. And holding a snake. And standing next to giant termite mounds. And swimming in waterfalls. All of it, just all of it.
- scuba diving and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. And yes, I did find Nemo.
- swimming alongside a turtle and seeing the famous Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays. (click here to see Whitehaven Beach post)
- driving a 4x4 along the beach on Fraser Island. We also camped on the beach, saw shooting stars, tried walking a tightrope, swam in lakes and saw dingos. (click here to see Fraser Island post)
- touching and navigating all the way around Ayer's Rock aka Uluru. The red centre and the heart of Australia. Truly beautiful. We also rode camels here - ticking off another of the animals on our Australia list. (click here to read more)
- meeting kangaroos in Perth. Perth was truly amazing and I made friends for a lifetime there. I cannot describe how happy I was there. If I ever return to Australia, that's where I'll start.
- stroking a quokka on Rottnest Island. And sunbathing, and cycling and seeing lizards and pink lakes. One of my favourite days in Australia.
- seeing New Year in on a boat in the middle of Sydney Harbour. Champagne, fireworks and two of my best friends who flew across the world to see me. I was touched they journeyed so far for two weeks. It was one of the best fortnights we've spent together. (Sorry Danny, but this picture STILL makes me laugh)
- hiking the Blue Mountains and posing by the Three Sisters.
- travelling down the Great Ocean Road and seeing the 12 Apostles.
- meeting Dr Karl Kennedy and visiting the Neighbours' set. He also replied to one of the my Tweets of our picture together. FAME!
- watching penguins come out to play in St Kilda.
- paddleboarding at Collaroy. (see this post for pictures and more)
- swimming with sharks and having them come right up to me at Manly. (see Sharks and Chocolate post)
- Seeing a Tazzie Devil in his native land (ie- Tasmania) and driving to some of the most remote, yet stunning, places on the island. The waterfalls were amazing. (click here to read more about Tasmania)
Of course, I couldn't look back fondly on Australia without remembering my adopted Aussie family. For six months I was honored to live in a lovely part of Manly, look after two little cheeky monkeys and made one of my best travel friends and the most competent au pair I know, Micka.
It was a job I would never have pictured myself doing a few months beforehand, but it was the most rewarding and most varied role I've ever had.
If anyone is thinking of travelling, I'd strongly recommend this as a job. You get to live in a beautiful area, see Australia from an Aussie point of view and doing a rewarding job while still having plenty of time to explore your surroundings.
I've written 30 blogs about Australia. 31 if you include this. And even now, I know all my words and pictures don't even begin to scratch the surface of this magical, wonderful, welcoming place.
Yes there have been lows, and it wasn't all plain sailing, but I wouldn't have done it any different.
In my last weekend in Oz, I went back to where it all began and celebrated my time there the way I'd celebrated arriving - with a glass of pink fizz at the Sydney Opera House. It was my way of saying "cheers and thank you" to a place which will forever be in my heart.
I love you Australia. Goodbye xxxx