Checking into a hostel for the first time since I landed in Oz was a bit of a weird one. I got here just before Christmas and have mostly been taken in by friends, a few nights in a hotel, a cottage and a few weeks of living in a campervan. I looked around at all the fresh faced travellers, the dorm beds and the soulless communal area and took a deep breath.
Within a few hours I’d met up with the G Adventures gang I was travelling up with and realised I was going to be in hysterics all the way to Cairns. We watched the Australia Day fireworks at Darling Harbour. I’m reserving my judgement about Australia Day (well trying to) but there’s been a bit on the news about graffiti that’s popped up stating Australia is Aboriginal land and I’ve heard quite a bit of chat about the horrors of what’s been done to the Aboriginal people. I’ve been told so I’m telling you, check out a film called ‘Utopia’, I can’t do a sales spiel as I haven’t yet seen it but it’s supposed to be a brutally honest portrayal of how the integration of the Aboriginal people isn’t as progressive as the Government and the media would have everyone believe.
I didn’t count on seeing a great deal till reaching Byron Bay, about 10 hours up the coast but I’ve had the most amazing journey so far. Monday morning kicked off with a little wine tasting at Tyrell’s in Hunter Valley. Then up to Tamworth, literally one day after the massive country music festival, strangely gutted to have missed that. But even though the festival had come to an end we had our own intimate performance by country star Rod Dowsett. It was one of those evenings I’ll remember forever. Sat on a porch of a sheep sheering station called The Dag, with a load of locals (including a few bogans) listening to the moving story telling, melodic guitar playing and emotional lyrics. The stars that night were like nothing I’d seen before. The entire sky was lit up, spotting the Southern Cross, the Milky Way in all its glory and Jupiter shining brightly.I had no idea that you could see different constellations over here, let alone the visibility without any light pollution at all and no clouds. I didn’t even bother trying to take photos, they’d never have done it justice. Breath-taking and very levelling, my little life on earth suddenly became very insignificant, but in a good way. A similar feeling to standing at the edge of, surfing on top of, or diving beneath the ocean. The natural world is so overwhelmingly powerful.
Waking up the next day in the middle of the countryside, feeding a young wallaby with a baby bottle (it was found in the pouch of its dead mother after a road accident), chucking the leftovers out to Charlotte the pig and inhaling as much of the air as I could was a pretty magical start. We headed out to Bingara gold mine. Learning to find crystals and sift for gold was a skill I’d never thought I’d need but I guess it may come in handy. Luckily I didn’t find a huge nugget as there’s literally no space in my rucksack – that would have created a massive first world problem for me!
The day ended with a 2 hour horse ride through the countryside and a few rivers. I’ve never been on a horse before and to be honest it’s never really appealed to me. Trotting round a rain soaked field in the UK wasn’t on the list. However trotting through the vast Australian landscape, with free living horses was an experience I won’t forget.