Guest post by my friend (and au pair extraordinaire) Stacey Lamore. I met Stacey while living in Australia, and she is currently working in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Canberra: The place I have called home for the past 12 months. Australia’s capital and largest inland city.. yup, thats right: inland. No beaches here. Not only that, but it even occasionally gets below zero degrees here. I know what you are thinking: “BUT ITS AUSTRALIA?!” ….and all I have to say is, “But it’s CANBERRA!” A lot of people don’t like Canberra – they say there’s nothing to do, there’s nothing to see, don’t waste your time. Many people asked, and continue to ask, “Why Canberra?”
Look on the bright side! When I say that, I mean literally. Without fail, Canberra skies light up EVERY night with incredible sunsets unlike any other place I’ve seen. Also, it’s not so deadly hot that all you want to do is.. well, nothing. You can actually go on a hike without dying from the heat, most of the time. Speaking of hikes… Living inland in a valley has its perks! SOO many different hikes to choose from – and I’d like to share a few with you!
*from June 17, 2015
You guys didn’t think I’d spend a year in Australia and not try surfing, did you? OK, maybe those of you who know how scared of sharks I am might have thought that, but I did it anyway! Katie had heard from a friend that Byron Bay was a really cool town, and since I hadn’t been yet, it was the perfect place to end the “road trip” portion of our East Coast adventure before flying to Sydney. Facing another poor weather forecast, we took our chances and booked a morning class with Byron Bay Surf School. Against the odds, we lucked out and had a cloudy morning with no rain. Our instructor’s name was Simon. He was from Victoria and had THE BEST Australian accent I’ve heard this entire year. We wiggled into our wetsuits and hit the beach.
While spending the night on a sailboat wasn’t on my bucket list before I came to Australia, I added it and checked it off anyway. After touring our way around Cairns and making a quick stop in Townsville for one rainy night and morning, Katie and I parked ourselves in Airlie Beach the day before our sailing adventure. Airlie was gorgeous – the hills rolled all the way down to the ocean and beautiful sailboats decorated the marina. We did most of our exploring on foot during an afternoon run to shake off the morning road trip and then hiked most of the way up Mount Whitsunday, an incline not for the faint of heart but with first class views.
This is a hard one to write. Today, I left Australia on a plane bound for Phuket, Thailand. Australia. The place I’d dreamed of since I was 8 years old. I still haven’t processed how amazing this year has been, much less that it’s come to a close. Katie and I spent our last three days in Sydney, exploring the city that never gets old to me. Seeing the Opera House for the last time (this time) was exactly like seeing it for the first time. I was in awe. More than anywhere, standing in Circular Quay reminds me how lucky I am to have had this experience and how everything happens for a reason.
In three weeks, I’ll be leaving Australia. I can hardly believe it. I feel like it was just last week that I wrote 21 Thoughts on 21 Days in Australia, three weeks after I arrived. It’s been a rollercoaster year – and it’s definitely been a ride I’d get in line for again. My last 21 days will be anything but boring. I’m heading down to Canberra to say my goodbyes there, stopping in Sydney for a quick overnight to see the Vivid Festival, and then heading to Cairns to become certified as a PADI Open Water Diver… and that’s all before Friday. On Friday, I’ll be joined in Cairns by Katie, a club swimming friend I’ve known for almost ten years. We’ll road trip down the East Coast of Oz before jetting off to Thailand and Cambodia for three weeks. After months of planning, our big adventure is just around the corner. But before all that, I wanted to give you 21 more reflections in light of my last 21 days in Australia (for now).
“You know more of a road by having traveled it than by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world.” – William Hazlitt
Let me kick this post off by saying Western Australia is a BIG place. Taking up about a third of Australia’s continental landmass, WA is one heck of a state for anyone to cover. That said, I only had two weeks to explore and could not cover so much land in so little time. I’ll definitely have to come back in the future to tackle the northwest and southwest regions of the state. I refrained from calling this post a “Top 5” because there is just so much to WA that I didn’t see – but I certainly made the most of my time and saw A LOT while I was there (which you can read about in my RealTime Roundup). The following five places stood out as particularly memorable on this trip (in order from the beginning of the trip to the end). Check ‘em out!
On May 6th, I flew to Perth to kick off two weeks in Western Australia. After my amazing tour experience in the Northern Territory, I decided to book an 8-day round trip tour between Perth and Exmouth. That journey began on May 11 after four days of exploring Perth and Fremantle. Throughout the trip, I posted (sort of) regular updates when I had cell service. As always, thank you for joining me on this adventure and I hope you enjoy following along! Additional posts and galleries coming soon!