The Oz Blog: A Year Down Under

The Oz Blog: A Year Down Under

**fanfare**

Today marks my year in Oz anniversary. Holy shit that’s gone fast.

A year ago today I was in a strange bubble of everything just feeling very surreal. I’d rented out my flat, I’d quit my job, I had said goodbye to everyone and I’d failed at trying to pack 28 years of belongings into a small backpack.

Before I left home I was adamant I would only stay 6 months if Australia wasn’t for me. Those 6 months came and passed me by in a blink of an eye.

Life will never be the same once you’ve caught the travel bug. I’d devoured delicious tastes of it, whilst exploring America and Thailand and holidaying in wonderful places, but nothing can quite compare to that feeling of freedom when you’re travelling.

You can be you so easily, hell, you can be somebody else if you choose.

Stradbroke Island, Brisbane, Australia
Stradbroke Island, Brisbane, Australia

When Mum and Dad came to stay recently I shared how scared I am that one day I have to go back to ‘real life’. Mum reminded me (because she is wonderful and perfect) that I am living my real life and it can last as long as I want it to. Why end something that is so wonderful it feels like a fairy-tale adventure?

These last 12 months have been absolutely like no other. Filled with island hopping, some of the hardest work I’ve ever had to do, being unemployed for weeks in a city on the other side of the world, being so poor I want to cry (but still able to get pissed).

Beaches, bays, dogs, surfing, BBQ’s, dinners, boozy brunches, sunbathing, sunsets, dancing, bingo, techno music, movie days, soul searching, house parties, outings at the park, pub crawls, making friends and drinking wine in a box.

The Whitsundays, Queensland, Australia
Patria the Kangaroo

I’ve learnt more about myself in 365 days than my 28 years previous. Maybe I would have learnt all this stuff if I was back home, but I’m not sure.

Learning to accept myself has been pretty life changing, I still have a long way to go, but most days I’m pretty much there.

Each job I’ve done has taught me something, whether it is to be kinder, harvest bloody almond trees or to care a little bit less.

Every person I’ve met has taught me something. Whether it’s that we have to realise everyone is different, that everyone is fighting a battle, everyone is here because of their passion for exploring or just that some people are dicks. Maybe some people came into my life for a specific time for a specific reason or maybe some people are here for the long haul.

Lorikeets at Corrumbin
Skypoint, Q1, Surfers Paradise, Australia
Luna Park, Melbourne
Brighton Bathing Boxes, Melbourne
St Kilda Sunset, Melbourne

I would love to sit and give you a highlights reel, but you’ve seen it all, you’ve heard it all. I haven’t stopped going on about it and I won’t, because It’s kind of wonderful doing exactly what you want when you want. To say yes to Australia, yes to farm work, yes to Rick Astley and A-Ha because fuck me why the hell not. In 50 years I’m not sure I’ll be able to do these things so might as well tick them off now. Also, please do let me know if you want me to continue going on about it and I will happily chew your ear off for a few hours or send you some pics.

I will however touch on some of those moments that you just can’t make up:

  • Being fired and rehired within 20 minutes.
  • A bush turkey sneaking up on me and eating my whole burger.
  • Cleaning up some man’s cat shit for a cash in hand job and him making stay for a glass of wine and giving 2 fillets of salmon to take home with me.
  • Somehow blocking the hostel manager in his office by getting a sofa stuck in front of the door to said office.
  • “accidentally” inflating a life jacket whilst wearing it, before I’d even got on the boat.
  • Amber taking my shoe meaning I had to walk home from the laundrette (20 minute walk) in 2 different shoes.
  • Got given oranges in exchange for pictures with 2 Fijian men…. can confirm I was fully clothed.
  • Being embraced so hard and long by the insane hostel manager that I thought I may die.
  • Losing and being returned my purse, card, money 3 weekends in a row. Although weekend 3 I did lose it for life.
  • Katie getting evicted from Giffith races.
  • Working with some of the most weird and wonderful (and mongy) people I’ve ever met in my life.
  • Too many awkward moments including pulling a door clean off its hinges whilst cleaning it and getting stuck (right at the front) of a team meeting on my first day of a job, for a team I didn’t even work in.
  • Losing my 3 bras and finding them all hanging up behind the reception of the hostel.
  • Getting stuck between floor 43 & floor 44 of a highrise building, whilst blind drunk.
88 Days A Slave, Griffith, Farmwork
Farm Work, Griffith, Australia

But with a world of liberality, comes guilt. A tugging, pulling at your insides like the bloody number 11 tram. When I upped and left I carelessly left behind a flat, a mortgage a responsibility that I have just dumped on my parents shoulders to deal with. With that comes enormous guilt.

A big part of me wonders if I need to go back for that, to own up to my responsibilities and if I am not ready to do that, does that mean I should sell up? Pass over those responsibilities. A heart wrenching decision, that flat is my heart, my soul, my home. Some may scoff but I feel a connection to that place like no other. A teeny, tiny part of the UK that is all mine, an achievement packaged into a moodily romantic, gold encased, ornate space where every inch of me is seeped into the paint on the walls. To lose that place would be like losing a slice of me and I’m not sure I’m ready for that.

Not only that I left people I love so dearly and care about. The guilt of missing births and marriages and hen dos (lord knows how much I love a hen do) and the simple things like takeaway nights, Sunday lunch, Saturday morning brews, dance shows, boozy bingos and dancing in the kitchen. True friends get it, they tell you “you’re not really missing anything” and to “get it out of your system”. Their validation makes you feel slightly better, but it’s still hard because I want to be there, but the urge to the here is stronger and we all know being in 2 places at once isn’t physically possible.  

Gili T
Seminyak, Bali
Coles Bay, Tasmania
RV Life, Tasmania

However, this post isn’t about me dwelling on that side of things, because A) It makes me feel like shit and B) this is meant to be about the bloody amazing year I’ve had. I also wanted to be honest and promise you it’s not all sunshine, rooftop bars and bloody wonderfulness.

So what’s in store for the next few months? I don’t *really* like to make plans because they often go tits up, but I’ve got a few things up my sleeve and I want you to all come along for the adventure:

  • Mornington Peninsula and Philip Island
  • West Coast Road Trip
  • Sydney

With that, I will wipe away an emotional tear and raise a gin a tonic (joke, I can’t afford them anymore) to the next however many days because I’m sorry guys, I just not quite ready to come home yet, I’m having too much fun.

So please grant my visa, because I love you Australia…. even if people lied when they said it’s always sunny.

Surfing in Byron Bay
Great Ocean Road, Australia
Australia Day
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2 Comments

  1. Kirsty Blowers
    March 4, 2020 / 7:25 am

    Wonderful write up, you brought a tear to my eye. Weird, I don’t know you that well but feel I do thanks to my wonderful daughter in law and her hen doo. Keep your heart real and your spirit free my dear girl xx.

  2. Ashleigh
    Author
    March 24, 2020 / 4:32 am

    ahhh thanks so much Kirsty. You are so right, will always keep true to my heart.

    Lots of love

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