23 March 2014

Australia: interrupted

Blue mountains - just two hours from Sydney
I knew before arriving in Australia, that I wouldn't be able to see a significant part of this country. I knew I had to limit myself to a first glimpse. But that's alright, as my return to the land down under is quite probable. So this time, I limited myself to the most accessible parts of Australia: the bigger urban areas along the south and east coast.
I figure everybody who comes to Australia wants to go to Sydney. There's nothing wrong with that. Sydney is a nice city in itself with distinct neighborhoods and the very accessible beaches and coastal parks make it very easy to escape the hustle and bustle of the CBD. I was happy to stay a few days and could very well imagine to live there for a couple of months. Though this might be a costly venture, as the rents are higher than the waves breaking on the many city beaches.



Tallow beach, Byron Bay
Between Sydney and Brisbane I spent a night in Port Macquarie, a very pleasant small town I'll make sure to include in a future trip, be it only to meet the friends again I made and shared drinks with. World famous Byron Bay, on the other hand, will probably be skipped during my next visit. The beaches were nice, especially less visited Tallow Beach in a nearby national park. But Byron Bay in general and the backpackers where I stayed made me feel old. The average age was under 20 and regardless of how hard I tried, I wasn't able to have any decent conversation beyond the topics of alcohol or smoking weed. Call me a snob, but I think at least one conversation in four days wouldn't be asking too much. Or maybe I just didn't find the right locations and people.

On the beach with friends from Brisbane
Originally, I didn't plan to move north from Sydney at all. But as a friend I met in Perú five years ago recently moved to Brisbane, I had a good reason to change my travel plans. Change is probably the only constant thing in travelling (more about that later). Well, Brisbane is definitely a very livable city and has a climate I like. Summers are hot, spring and autumn pleasantly warm (usually 25+), freezing temperatures virtually unheard of. Within four days, I didn't manage to grasp the vibe of Brisbane fully, which makes a return very likely.

After a hot weekend spent on beaches and swimming, I flew to a city whose charms have often been appraised to me: Melbourne. And indeed the city is very welcoming. It's easily the most European city in Australasia and as Sydney, has a lot of very distinct neighborhoods. There's a place for everybody: bankers, lawyers, hippies, surfers, hipsters, retirees and families. Melbourne was supposed to be the starting point of a road trip that would take me along the Great Ocean Road, through some National Parks like the Grampians up to the Murray river and the beginning of the outback and finally to Adelaide. I found nice travel mates, booked a car. But then, my plans changed abruptly within a day. 

Melbourne-Jakarta, 7 hours
Lisa had a motorbike accident two weeks earlier in Indonesia (no, she wasn't driving herself) and was slowly reaching the point where she was - because of cultural differences, a constantly hurting back and neck, strong painkillers and a lack of sleep - reaching the point where she wasn't able to deal with her local supports (family, university, etc.) and the doctors alone anymore. She struggled hard with getting the appropriate treatment (X-ray, MRI, physiotherapy, etc.). So she called for help. I didn't hesitate a moment. Once we discussed the issue and she expressed the wish that I come back to Indonesia, I booked a flight for the next day and cancelled all my travelling plans in Australia. Yes, I lost some money with that, but this doesn't matter as I followed the emergency call of someone that is very dear to me. And this is not the end of my adventures in Australia. I will return to discover more - especially the North and the West - within the next couple of years. As soon as my other travel plans permit.

A hidden beach close to Manly, Sydney area

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