I’ll be honest, that was quite a hard goodbye. Goodbye to Australia, goodbye to family, and goodbye to this leg of our trip (well, almost). After an amazing three weeks on the East Coast of Australia, I am not ready to leave. But before I fully say these goodbyes, let me recap on some of the greatest experiences of my life that all took place in the last three weeks on my first truly solo venture.
George and I parted ways in Kaikoura, NZ in mid-October (this was always planned before people think we’ve had enough of each other already!) I was very excited to return to Australia; I had an East Coast tour booked as well as time with family afterwards. As soon as I landed, I was thrown into the busy schedule of my 10-day tour.
It was jam-packed with wonderful activities, kicked off with canoeing in the Noosa Everglades to our remote campsite where we hiked to a vast and beautiful sand dune. After canoeing two hours back the next day in the pouring rain, we then made our way to a farm stay where we attempted to sleep under the stars in a swag (the rain hindered our efforts and we ended up sleeping, crowded, in a hard-floored barn). For me, this was an awesome moment; joining everyone around the camp fire to eat meals in our cowboy hats! We then had two nights on a maxi-yacht, sailing the Whitsunday Islands. This was a great experience, having never sailed before. The best part of this trip, however, came right at the end, in Cairns. We took a snorkelling trip to the Great Barrier Reef and it was truly breathtaking. I spent the whole time in the water beaming from ear to ear with undiluted, pure joy. It was genuinely one of the greatest experiences of my life and something I will never forget.
However, this incredible trip also resulted in the absolute worst sunburn I have ever had and lead to me spending the next week or so either unable to walk properly or at the pharmacist/doctor’s getting them seen to! Luckily it was during this time that I was able to spend a week and a half with my family who made sure to look after me!
First, I flew to Hervey Bay to stay with my cousin, whom I hadn’t seen since she left for Australia over a year ago. This was awesome as we got to spend time together and talk for hours on a deeper level than we probably ever have. I love how close our vast family can be even when we live on other sides of the world!
I then took my very first Greyhound bus down to the Gold Coast to spend a relaxed week with more family. A chilled out week was exactly what I needed and Coolangatta, with its laid back atmosphere and early nights, was the perfect place to be for this. I spent every day with my family, enjoying meals together and days out and I just loved being in the company of people who know me well (especially after travelling for two months and getting to know people from scratch on a daily basis – which, in itself is fun and exciting but a break from this was also nice). I treated this week as a ‘holiday from travelling’ – enjoying nice meals and Prosecco most nights!
Even before we left the UK, once this period with my family was booked, I knew I would have trouble leaving. It would be like leaving home all over again and, in fact, I think I dealt with leaving home better than leaving Australia! So it was no shock that I felt homesick on leaving my family but that didn’t make it any easier. With the mix of leaving them, and knowing I was leaving Australia for the last time, as well as knowing that we only have about a week before leaving this part of the world, I was quite the picture of ‘homesick’ at Brisbane airport early on that Sunday morning. In fact, I’m not even sure it’s the missing home that got me. Of course I miss my family but I think what hit me more was the fear of leaving the places I have come to be familiar with over the last two months. I could easily spend longer in Australia and New Zealand and I am not quite sure that I am ready to leave! In no way does feeling homesick make me want to stop having any of these incredible experiences; it’s just that it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming being on your own on the other side of the world. All is expected and all will pass and I will go on to embrace and enjoy whatever comes my way next.
Whilst I am very excited for South America, I am also slightly apprehensive as I know it will be quite a culture shock in comparison to the easy, home-like fit of the last couple of months. But bring it on! A big part of me cannot wait – I just hope I get the opportunity to come back to this part of the world in the future – there is still so much to explore!!