Winter is Here

Sheep and Friends

I know that summer may not being going as you’d imagined, for better or for worse, but I didn’t think I’d be freezing to pieces in Australia. My internal calendar is officially upside down, as I’ve spent the last seven July’s in the hot sun of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and in addition to having Lair withdrawals, find myself having to buy warmer clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I fully understood that I would be experiencing winter in July, and that despite the rumors, it does get cold in ‘Straya. I just didn’t think it would be this cold. We’re talking a crisp bike ride in 1° C (34° F), which feels like -4°, at 5:30 in the morning. Alright, to be fair, that was only for a week, and before I bought gloves. But still, we’ve been sitting in the low 50s-60s here in Victoria, and I expect that to continue for the next couple of months.

But enough about the weather. Despite the cold, I’m still having a grand old time down here. I’m still working at the honey factory, which isn’t sunshine and daisies all the time, but it’s a job. At the moment, Australia’s borders are closed, including most of the interstate borders, meaning that even if I left to visit home, I wouldn’t be able to return. And I do want to go home, for a little bit, but I’m having too good of a time for that to be an option to the moment. As with the rest of the world, travel plans are up in the air, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it during my long days spent capping honey bottles.

Let’s talk about Australia first, because realistically that’s what I’ll be able to do first. My goal is to visit each of the eight states and territories before my time here is up (not quite sure when that will be yet). I’ve seen Tasmania, which I loved, and I’ve lived in the south and eastern parts of Victoria. I love living here, and am looking forward to continued exploration in the months to come. Victoria, and Melbourne in particular, has taken a turn for the worse with COVID, so even as some states start to open their borders, Victorians aren’t welcome. Five hours away is the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), and I’ve heard that Canberra would take a long weekend to see all of. It’s surrounded on all sides by New South Wales (NSW), whose highlights include Sydney, Byron Bay, and the Blue Mountains. There’s the entire east coast of beaches, plus the mountains and national parks. Depending on how quickly my visa is approved, and when borders open, I may take a couple of months to explore these two states.

I’m still most eager to visit Western Australia (WA). Often because of its distance, I think it’s overlooked by backpackers, but from what I’ve heard, the beaches and parks are even more beautiful on the west coast. My plan at some point is to drive from Melbourne to Adelaide in South Australia (SA), do a tour to Uluru and the Red Centre in the Northern Territory (NT) and then return to Adelaide to make my way west through the Nullarbor to Perth. From there I would continue north towards Broome, Darwin in the NT, around to Cairns in Queensland (QLD), and then back down the east coast to Melbourne.

Thats the plan, but who knows when it’s going to happen, and if it’s going to be one continuous trip, or if it’ll be broken up into different parts. Will I go it alone, or with a friend? Will I plan it myself or go with a tour company? I’m lucky that at the moment I have a job and a boyfriend (we really are living in unprecedented times…), so if I have to stay in Bairnsdale for the next few months, it won’t be the worst thing in the world. I still have the yearning to get out and explore, and I think we’re all struggling with the notion that there’s nowhere to go. I have faith that one day I’ll get to see all that Australia has to offer, we’ll just have to wait and see when that one day is.

There’s still plenty of other places that I want to explore besides the land down under. Geographically, New Zealand will probably be my next stop. I want to see both islands, and experience the beauty of the outdoors, as well as some of their extreme adventures (did someone say ‘world’s highest bungee jump?!’). I have the option to do a working holiday in NZ, but that’s not part of my agenda at the moment.

Moving east around the globe, South America is where I want to go next. That was part of my original scheme, visiting Australia and then South America before returning home. Ideally, I’d like to visit every country in the continent, if for no other reason than to say I had, but my top destinations are Peru, Argentina, and Chile. The salt flats of Bolivia to the beaches of Brazil, and everything in between. I want to actually practice and improve my Spanish (or Portuguese) by immersing myself in the culture. I think it will depend on how strapped for cash I am, but I would imagine spending about three months on the continent.

From there, I might work my way up through Panama and Central America, and then to Mexico and the Caribbean. I love the idea of exploring islands, whether around the Americas or between Australia and Asia, but realistically I won’t get to see all that many of them. Rounding out North America, I’ve never been to Canada, and the idea of road tripping from Vancouver to Nova Scotia sounds romantic. It also sounds like the sort of thing I could do later in life, so not sure when I’ll get around to that.

Over to Europe, Spain and Portugal are my top priorities, again to practice my Spanish, and explore my Portuguese’s heritage. From there I would head east, to Greece, Italy, Denmark. The Baltic countries have interested me since my dad bet me I couldn’t pick out Latvia on a map. He was mistaken. A couple of pit stops in Africa and Asia, plus a cruise to Antarctica, and there you have it. I know that makes it sound like I want to visit every country in the world, which I do think would be a neat accomplishment, but I think I just enjoy dreaming about future adventures. I know it’s not all going to happen, but it’s fun to day dream.

I thought about the idea of ‘30 under 30’, visiting thirty countries before I’m thirty. I’m seven countries in, with three years to go, so aside from being slightly unrealistic, I’d rather take time to appreciate destinations. Since I don’t know when I’ll be leaving Australia, I’d rather just focus on what I can see here. But it’s still nice to have something to think about to make the days go quicker. I probably won’t be able to visit home until mid 2021, the idea of which makes me feel more homesick. But while I’m here, I want to make the most of my time.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m optimistic. I recently did a photos purge, and uploaded some to Facebook, as well as my photos page on here.

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