A year ago I boarded a plane. The start of a journey with no end in sight. Long term travel has been something I had always dreamed of, but knew I wasn’t the kind of person that could hack it. I was a homebody. I was shy and introverted and was content with my few good friends. You need to be a loud, partying, chat to everyone type to be a traveller, right? That’s what I thought anyway. For years I settled with short trips, no more than three weeks at a time. Don’t get me wrong, I loved those trips. I loved that I could travel to anywhere in Europe for ridiculously cheap with each country vastly different to the next. But I knew I wanted to go and just keep going.
I’m not going to write again about how Australia has been my travel end game since I was like 12 years old cause you are probably all sick to death of hearing about it, but the fact that I even made it to Australia is incredible. And 12 months later I’m still here. I did not see that one coming. As much as I wanted to stick it out, I thought I would get too homesick after a while a need to go back to my lovely, cold country. I mean I miss home like crazy, but in the sense that I know it’s always going to be there, so there is no mad rush to get back to it. There’s so much more I want to see before I even think about that.
I didn’t start my trip on my own
I was originally here with two friends and we all lived in Melbourne together for 5 months. They both shortly headed home while I decided to stay and go it alone in Sydney. My first solo weekend there was bad. My mood was so low. I was so overwhelmed at the thought of having to make new friends, I remember I even started looking for cabins in the middle of the forest to live in on my own (a bit dramatic, I know) However, lucky for me my dorm mate was a lovely, incredibly chatty Canadian girl, Emma, who instantly invited me out to a pub quiz. It was through her that I met an amazing group of people at the hostel. So amazing, in fact, that I decided to extend my stay from one week to two months!
Going it alone
While I absolutely loved my time in Melbourne and the friends that I met there, Sydney is a bit special to me as that was my first stop on my own. I learned to much about myself in Sydney and my confidence grew leaps and bounds. It was still a struggle at times to eat on my own at restaurants or go sightseeing with no one to share it with, but I got over that pretty quickly. People still give you a bit of a weird look when you ask for one ticket, or a table for one. But where that used to embarrass me, it now makes me laugh.
This probably won’t surprise anyone, but Sydney is EXPENSIVE! Australia in general is expensive but holy moses! I lived there for two months and almost completely ran out of money. The rush to try to find a job with the effort of someone who really doesn’t want a job did not quite pan out for me, so I bit the bullet and moved on again. I was in Brisbane for three weeks which honestly felt like absolutely nothing as I spent those three weeks in the library applying for literally every job I could find. I was yet again surprised to find that when you half-heartedly fill out application forms you dont’ get asked for an interview. Who knew?
I lucked out with a month long dogsitting gig on the Gold Coast where I spent my whole time eating chocolate and catching up on Netflix. It was an incredible month with two beautiful dogs that I wish could have lasted longer.
East Coast Extravaganza
After accepting a job back down in Victoria, flying all the way down there, realising that it was 100% not as advertised and promptly leaving the next morning. I finally decided to throw caution to the wind. After finding another job up in the Queensland outback somewhere I had about 2 weeks to kill before I had to arrive. I hopped a plane to Hervey Bay and began travelling up the east coast of Australia. After spending sooo long trying to find a well-paid, city office job (which I absolutely did not want) I had stopped enjoying myself at all. I was so stressed about money and how long I would be even able to stay in Australia, that I wasn’t actually seeing Australia.
That east coast trip was amazing. It was only two weeks, but it was two weeks of no plans and no rules. I transferred money from my savings back home and saw it all. Booking my hostels and buses as I go, I got to do and see so many incredible things. Whale watching in Hervey Bay and a day trip to Fraser Island. Sailing around the Whitsundays on a Pirate Ship. Though arguably most importantly, finally getting to see Mama Mia: Here We Go Again in the cinema in Townsville (twice).
Any fear or trepidation I once had about going to live in the outback was gone. It was just another stop on my adventure. I was well and truly out of money now but I didn’t care. It finally felt like I was travelling around Australia!
Into the Outback
The job in the outback doesn’t sound amazing on paper. Cleaning motel rooms, washing the dishes after dinner and helping with any general chores the need doing. Pretty mundane, right? But the benefits were my own home (shed) to live in rent free and basically anything I would need provided by the owners. I have to spend precisely zero dollars here. Which is ideal seeing as my bank account was sitting at $16 when I arrived ha!
So basically I spend my day with the owners and their family in their home. I eat all my meals with them. And when I go home, it’s about a 30 second walk to next door (their shed, have I mentioned that bit yet?) I’m joking, I don’t live in a shack, it’s a fairly big shed. It’s actually pretty awesome.
Living in Julia Creek is exactly the pace I was looking for. When I work, I have shit to do and can’t mess about. But when I’m not working, I can nap (which I do often) watch Netflix (again, and common occurrence) and just chill out in this beautiful little town. The owners also own some cattle and they’ve taken me out mustering a couple of times which has been awesome.
Cutting about the outback of Australia on a quadbike chasing cows is not how I ever thought I would spend my time. However, now I’m wondering why I haven’t always been doing that?! Did everyone else but me know that cows are really cute? Am I late to the party on that one?
Will I Ever Leave?
I have pushed back my leaving date here four times now. I didn’t expect to love this quiet little town quite as much as I do. Or maybe the fact that my bosses have become my friends and it’ll be sad to say goodbye. With my second year visa just recently granted(which I applied for last minute on a whim) at least I know I have an extra year to explore this beautiful country if I want to.
Either way, I’m still here in Australia, still loving it, and still undecided about what happens next.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.