A friend recently asked me – “If your favorite thing is to go where you have never been, then why are you going back to Australia?” As I pondered my growing list of places I must see before I die, I did wonder – why do I have such a strong pull toward the land down under?
Is it the amazing Aussie friends I made that I miss dearly? Is it the heaps of fun memories from my first visit that make me want to make more? Did the beauty of the Sydney harbour spellbind me? Or maybe I am just a sucker for a sexy accent?
It is hard for me to explain the connection I feel to a country so far away, but I have often questioned if I should have stayed in Australia instead of returning to the states in November 2008. I made a logical choice to go at the time (a rarity) leaving with a heavy heart, uncertain if I was making the best decision. I wanted to continue traveling but I couldn’t afford to do so.
My plane touched down in the good ole U-S-of-A at the height of the “financial crisis.” Friends had warned me that times were bad, but the euphoria of the previous month spent relaxing on the idyllic beaches of Indonesia left me unable to accept life as anything but good. Besides, I had confidence in my marketability and was highly motivated to get a job due to my own personal financial crisis (a result of gallivanting the globe with no income for a year.)
While it was great to see my friends and family back home, I missed the freedom of being on the road. I decided that I would work hard, pay off bills, and be back traveling as soon as possible. In the meantime, I planned to check “Live Alone” off my bucket list realizing through my solo travels that I had deprived myself of much needed alone time my entire life, which I learned is essential to providing balance to my very social life. I found the perfect quintessential San Francisco studio apartment in a great neighborhood that came with all the solitude I could ever ask for, at a price I could not afford. Never the less, I was determined to live alone and was certain I would find a good paying job quickly that would more than cover my rent.
But for the first time in my life, the perfect job didn’t fall into my lap. Instead I was forced to serve waffle fries with gorgonzola cheese sauce much longer than I had anticipated. It didn’t take long to realize I would much prefer to be working back at the café on Coogee beach in Sydney if I was going to be forced to work in the service industry “in this economy.” At least in Australia I could get a suntan while I served food! Not to mention my tight budget was forcing me to continue living like a backpacker on ramen noodles and pb&j without the payoff of traveling to new and exciting places. I began to feel for the first time in my life a sense of regret and wondered how things would have been different if I had only stayed in Australia. It is not in my nature to have regrets and I had to remind myself daily to live in the present and find happiness wherever I may be – and I did.
Eight long months later I finally had the opportunity to go back to work in the marketing industry, with the same coworkers I had enjoyed working with years prior. I worked two jobs – seven days a week for three months until my aching back and feet insisted I stop. I happily traded in my apron for my weekends and social life. I enjoyed the stability of the 9-5 job, a paycheck that afforded disposable income (disposed straight to my credit card bill), and a sense of normalcy.
Almost two years after I left Australia, I have found my way back. As I roamed the familiar streets of Sydney, I realized why I have such a strong affection for this country … I felt an overwhelming sense of comfort as if I am at home despite being so far away. Aside from my beloved San Francisco, no other city has charmed me the way Sydney can. The beautiful city and people never cease to entertain me. I believe I could live happily in Australia for a long time, but I am not quite ready to live any where for a long time. There is so much I must see and do before I can “settle down.” My bucket list calls to me, my feet get itchy, and if you haven’t noticed I have a hard time staying put in one place for too long. I need to get this travel bug out of my system and there is only one way to do that – I must follow my wanderlust wherever it may lead!
So here I am, back down under! The first month of my trip has been all about relaxing and catching up with friends. I spent my first week hanging with my Sydney mates, then a week with friends in Brisbane and now I am hanging in Byron Bay with Stacy (my friend from San Francisco who has been living in Australia this past year.)
This trip down under will indeed allow me to go where I have never been!
I have explored the states of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, ACT, South Australia, Northern Territory, and Tasmania, but I never made it to Western Australia (WA). WA is said to be one of the most beautiful regions in all of Australia – the most rugged, wild, and least explored.
In less than two weeks, Stacy and I will be taking off on a big road trip through Western Australia! We are driving a 4WD from Darwin to Perth with no specific plans, we figure we have 2700 miles of road ahead of us and we will just see where our skirts take us!
Click below to see my photos from my first three weeks down under!