Australia

Can I just say,  that despite being half determined not to, I seriously like Australia. I can say with 99% certainty I will at some point in my life come back here. It’s not that ridiculous kind of ‘love/lust’ for a place like Fiji – where deep down it’s an amazing fling but you know it’s not forever. It’s a slow burner, where you’re happy and content in a place, and you know you guys have a future together.  Insert love heart here.

Let this be lesson to my much naive self. Only 6 weeks ago Andreas, Thea and I sat on Mana Beach Fiji, BITCHING away about Australia. She’d lived here, and Andi and I just presumed it would be like NZ. Yuk. I vividly remember Thea flinging a $50p piece into the ocean in a joking rage, just to get it out of her purse. We all laughed. We all changed our flights to get out of here sooner. Oh ye of little faith. Some of my all time best memories have been here, travel and otherwise.

Maybe it’s moving at supersonic speed through the big wild world, or hitting the 6 month mark (15th Sept, woop/sob) but my short term memory is starting to blur. I feel like Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates (watched it on the 12h Rainbow to Cairns bus this week). Where you have so many amazing memories you can’t cling onto them all. (I know this wasn’t the premise of the film, but it’s kind of the same.)

I’m being strict with myself and sticking with the formula. Having just clicked back to South America I see I narrowed it down to five ‘loves/hates’ so painful as it is:

Loved:

1)      The kindness of strangers –  From chicks in bars being super chatty, to randoms on trams helping you the second you get a map out, to Ebony/Tim/Brett’s hospitality and opening up their beautiful homes. (And Joe/Dan & Dana but technically you two aren’t Ozzy.) So many people here are genuinely super friendly, and in such a chilled way it’s not too keen or loaded, it’s just, you know, nice?! Ozzy’s love to show off their country.

2)      Tattoos & general eye candy  – My theory on tattoos it really suits some people, and Ozzies are those people. It helps when you parade round in singlets and wetsuits pulled down to the waist I guess, or surf, sail, generally strut around looking fit. I challenge you to find any single oz (girl or guy) anywhere in the world that doesn’t have a tattoo. There’s no prize. It’s merely for fun.

3)      Clothes – Oh my god the clothes. Never have there been so many gorgeous shops filled with exactly my taste. It’s like a fantasy world in which I would look this good, if only I had money to burn, and not living out of a backpack.  I can’t even talk about Sydney’s Glebe vintage markets again. I can’t, it’s just too painful.

4)      This is an odd one, as in it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to like, but it’s not the most obviously place for an epiphany, (I’ve had a few here). Sydney Fish Markets. What can I say, I visited Leeds markets almost every week for a year, yet it didn’t do much for me. However strolling through this place with my one Oyster in the mid-day sunshine, made me completely visualise coming shopping for dinner on a weekend and living here. In that moment I fell a little bit in love.

5)      (Ok, I’m going to cheat.) I fell a little in love in all of these places; Brunswick Street Melbourne, Walking over Ebony’s bridge in the twinkly 4am Melbourne lights, star gazing on The Great Ocean Road Yanapay road trip, sharing seafood & red wine on a warm Bondi evening, Sydney’s Hyde Park fountain, Sydney Botanical Gardens, Sydney Opera house (so basically every last inch of Sydney. I’ll move on, you get it.)That day kite surfing and chilling on the beach in Surfers, cruising Frasers wild coasts, diving on the Reef.

6)      (Ok, I’m breaking my own rules completely, there are 6 ‘likes’) But as most of the above are all place related, I just want to add a few that are people related too; Sky’s touching soliloquy on love in the crazy Melbourne play, Jen& Emma’s friendship waiting 90 mins in the dark/cold with me for a bus they weren’t even catching . Matt/Mark/Emily’s continuing love, and what’s bound to be a highlight of my life; the fact if we can’t all stay in Surfers Paradise forever we can sure as hell can take Surfers to Thailand. Full Moon Party Oct 12thpeople!

I could take or leave (Ok just leave):

1)      Yes it’s expensive if you aren’t earning Ozzy wages. Although, TBF it’s nowhere near as bad as everyone makes out. People try and put the fear of god into you, banging on about how bananas cost $17 a kilo. This is true, but only because of the droughts/bush fires that shortened stock supplies this summer. Just live without bananas then, you silly whingeing backpackers. Go crazy, eat an apple or something. Here’s the deal. Lots of stuff is exactly England’s prices. Pub grub is £8-10, trains/buses the same, sushi is actually probably cheaper. Win. The thing is that unless you hunt out bargains at superhuman effort (which for me lasted about a day) then it’s kind of easy to spend a fortune. You can’t/shouldn’t put a price on fun though can you.

2)      Working holiday visas and such talk. This goes for New Zealand too. (Poor NZ, I’m still hating on it 2 months later.) God the hostel kids are all over this here. No I am not planning to work. (They look at you like you are the Sultan of Brunei when you reveal this and then presume you are super-loaded.) I have no desire to stand in a field and pick fruit for 10p a week, so please stop trying to brainwash me into the idea. Misc Essex 18-30 holiday types keep bragging how they earned a few grand picking peas (not sure how many years it took um.) Then they blew the lot partying up the East Coast? It’s exactly like people that live in Ibiza handing out club flyers in exchange for a free shot every fortnight. You are being had mate. They all do it of course as it’s a requirement of your second year visa. I get it. And I should have pre-empted this rant by saying I haven’t turned into an elitist job-snob. I’m lucky enough to have saved enough to not have to work, I know. But GOD do they like talking about it. A girl actually spent an hour explaining the crisis of bruised grapes and their journey to our supermarket shelves. Step away from the production line lady. Someone give this chick a day off.

3)      Boganism – So the TV is completely dumbed down and catered for the lowest common denominator. But it’s no wonder. Pretty much anyone over the age of 30 here is a bit like one of  the characters from ‘The Castle.’ (NZ film that rips into chavy backwards Australians) Most bus drivers or anyone in customer services have an attitude that make you eternally grateful for being English and from a (slightly) more liberal/culturally evolved society. You do have to actually question whether it’s really 2011 most days with some Ozzy’s moronic attitudes towards race/sexuality/women/immigration/politics, I could do on. And this was in the cities, I didn’t even venture into the outback. A huge downside, but perhaps in 50 years or so they might have caught up to the political correctness bandwagon. Here’s hoping.

4)      Box jellyfish, dingoes, blue bottle jellyfish, sharks, snakes, spiders and generally anything/everything else out to kill you (red goon?) in this bad land. God, what’s your problem Australia. Why so hostile.

5)      The fact that I had to rush up the coast so fast that I had to bump off Magnetic Island (Wildlife Mecca) from my plans. I really wanted to go there and cuddle a Koala. Where else am I going to be able to go that? China – I thought to myself before realising I’m stupid and that they were in fact Panda’s. Upps. Although I wonder which hugs better? Either way, both are going straight on my new ever evolving to do list.

6)      So finally, if there’s one thing I hate about Australia, it’s myself for changing my flights to leave earlier L However I can’t take it back. I have myself a Singapore Grand Prix to get to!

Where I stayed:

Ches Motley, Melbourne (aka Joe’s house)
Ches Thomas summer house (aka MTV cribs) Great Ocean Road
Noah Hostel, Bondi Beach (Accidently, mid-key gate)
Ches Dan and Dana, Bondi Beach
Aquarius Backpackers, Byron Bay
Couple O’Days, Surfers Paradise (Heart it)
Brisbane City Backpackers
Mooloolaba Beach Backpackers
Pippies Backpackers, Rainbow Beach
Magnum Backpackers, Airlie Beach
Globetrotter Backpackers, Cairns

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An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

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