Today’s blog comes from David Broadley, a Travel Expert in our Sheffield store.
I’d had enough of the UK, didn’t fancy getting a job, had itchy feet, and I’d met a beautiful Australian girl (we’re all young and stupid at some point) – Down Under it was!
After a summer spent working at a camp in America, a brief stopover in Fiji and a rather memorable month in New Zealand, I arrived bright and breezy into Melbourne (in the rain, not part of the plan), met up with my friend and travel companion from uni and got ready to start my working holiday visa.
My feet in Sydney
Where real roads finish, and dirt roads begin
We were young, clueless and didn’t really know where to go (Australia’s quite big after all), so like 95% of people who visit Australia, we hit the east coast, and like 100%of people who hit the east coast – we loved it! From Melbourne up through sunny Sydney, past Byron Bay and on to Brisbane, we explored Fraser Island, sailed the Whitsundays and partied on Magnetic island. Koalas, Kangaroos and Kookaburras were old news to us by this point, but crocodiles were new, and we saw plenty of those on the Daintree River, north of Cairns, just before real roads finish, and dirt roads begin.
We’d hit the end, and headed as far north as our campervan could take us. After Christmas in Cairns, we flew to Sydney for New Years, which quite obviously, was bloody amazing. And then, I checked my bank balance, had a mild break down and decided to get a job.
The beautiful Whitsundays
“Even a flamin’ drongo couldn’t crash this!”
I’ve had a few jobs in my time, but definitely the most interesting was working on a small farm in a town called Childers, 8 hours north of Brisbane, Queensland. Here every stereotype of Australia is true. The dirt is red, the sky is blue, and the horizon stretches for miles over farmland. Kangaroos graze in the fields, spiders and snakes abound, and the locals sound exactly like you hoped they would. Bruce and Sheila live just round the corner, and you’re affectionately known as “the pommie”. And it’s hot – bloody hot.
Hanging with the locals
I look back on this time fondly, as a true adventure where I was off on my own on the other side of the world. My friend had departed for a dismal UK and I was eight hours north of a ‘real’ city. The local town had two pubs and a supermarket and my neighbours were the other backpackers in my hostel. An average day consisted of waking at dawn, watching the sun rise as we drove to the nearby farm, and then spending the day picking lemons. Not the most taxing work, and we got to work on cherry pickers too, (“Ah you’ll be fine ya pommie, even a flamin’ drongo couldn’t crash this!”).
It’s the people you meet
Evenings and days off were spent with new friends and a box of goon. The people I met whilst I worked on the farm are some of the most interesting people I’ve had the good fortune of meeting. My Korean room-mate told me tales of his time in the army and his dreams of travelling the world. A Dutch friend painted murals and later “found” himself in India. A shy Malaysian fellow had been away for a year and would continue for another 3 on his bike, crossing the world. I had an amazing time in Australia, but it’s not just the country that had an impact on me whilst I was down under. It was the people I met who, like me, were travelling and working their way through a world far from home.
The world after Childers
After 3 months of work, I’d saved up enough to wizz down the east coast again, and also pop into the red centre for a visit to Uluru. From here, after a final flying visit to Sydney, I jetted off home. My gap year was over, and ‘real life’ beckoned.
"Yo, there's a massive rock behind you..."
So here’s the bit where I throw in a few cheesy clichés about finding yourself, the road less travelled, and why it’s about the journey not the destination. But honestly, just do it. If you’re thinking about taking a year out get a flight, get 5 of them. Go to the other side of the world. Explore. Discover – discover yourself. You won’t regret it, and you’ll come back with a thousand tales of adventure and antipodean peculiarities. Go for it Bruce.