G’day mate! Or however you’d say that to a lady is Aussie slang. I’ve now been in Australia since June 2015 on a working holiday which makes it around 8 months since I arrived, and though I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs, it’s a pretty rad country. After my arrival, I went straight into work mode spending my days job hunting on foot or online. The last thing I wanted to do after embarking on another trip is to jump back into the “normal” grind, having only spent a depressingly short 4 months away from it.My normal cycle is travel from 6-9 months, return to the United States to work and save, and head out on another big trip. This time it was more short lived than previous years, and after spending a higher amount on the Rickshaw Run, I was left with an empty wallet. So, I followed some signs given by the universe and flew down unda’ to replenish the coffers.
This was the big fault in my trip to Australia.
I came here with the sole purpose to make money, and only days after arrival I let the urge to make fast money consume me. I need the money to keep traveling, but at the same time, I’m still in a different country. That’s not quite how I’ve treated it for the past 8 months, and as I close in to my next big adventure, I’m realizing just how little I’ve seen of Australia. I will be most likely departing Australia in May only to have seen Melbourne and parts of the state of Victoria.
To be blunt, I haven’t had much of a desire to see many other Australian cities. I’ve written about how countries like Australia and the even my home country the United States are beautiful, but I’m in love with ancient cities of countries such as Italy and Hungary. Modern cities shimmering with skyscrapers and bustling with business suits just don’t connect with my soul. That’s why the places I’ve seen in Australia that I’ve truly loved were the ones away from the city and in the wild. Places like the Grampians National Park and Wilsons Promontory fed my wild spirit. Driving the Great Ocean Road made me hungry again for the unfolding horizons. I really have no interest in visiting Sydney besides just the reason of saying I did. I can’t come to Australia and not go there, right?
Otherwise, there hasn’t been much that has called to me here. I find myself waiting tables and overly stressed and tiring of the city and the commute. I’ve been becoming more and more short fused, allowing myself to hold on to negative things from that day of work when I’m used to breathing frustrations away and never thinking about them again. That is with out a doubt connected to me doing a job I despise for money, waiting tables that is, but it’s also because I can’t help but dream of returning to Europe which is a part of my travel plans for 2016. I feel I grow more disconnected the longer I stay, where I’d rather hole up in my room than have a chat with a stranger or a beer with a friend. Sometimes I lay in bed and think, “am I living?” but when I’m hiking in the mountains here I know, “this is living”. I should just go off and travel around Australia’s amazing national parks then, right? This has been an idea tickling my brain ever since I arrived, and as much as I try to live without the “what if woes”, a trip like that would put me back to square one with savings and I wouldn’t be able to travel much around Europe.
After only being able to spend 2 months around Europe in 2014, I dream everyday of exploring it more. And Australia is so damn expensive. It pays well to work here, but a day out in the city dining and having a couple of drinks can cost you $100 or more. A rental car to explore for a couple of days paired with petrol is about $300. Buying a van to tour around the country with can run $2,000-$4,000 not including petrol, and though costs can be split between friends, it’s still a budget breaker and most need to work again after a big road trip here.
That’s the kicker. Most people I’ve met in Melbourne have told me about their crazy road trips around Australia, but most have either done one and gone to do farm work to save more after running out of money, or have road tripped after doing farm work or another job and after must get a job again. But all of those people, from the UK to Canada to Europe, have a second year visa to pad that timeframe with. Americans on the other hand have strictly 1 year with no extension, and coming here with no money and trying to do a road trip or travel extensively is unrealistic unless I was planning on returning right back to the US after to work.
That is something I don’t want to do.
Working in Melbourne and waiting tables has taken a big toll this time around, and it’s got to be the last time I ever do this again. So does that mean my trip to Australia has been a sack of kangaroo poo? No. Australia has had its rad moments, like those mentioned where I saw the jaw-dropping and diverse natural beauty that has me drooling over Mother Nature, or in the amazing people I have met here that have become close friends. Those are the things that have made working in a city in a job that doesn’t cater to my creativity bearable, and this trip worthwhile. And who knows, maybe some of the experiences I’ve had here led me to an upcoming amazing opportunity that I’ll be announcing soon. An opportunity which will hopefully pave the way for my escape from the world of waiting tables and waiting for the next adventure.
Australia, or Melbourne in my experience, is a great place to live and work in that is funky and creative and artistic. It is a place one can live in and pursue creative endeavors and make a good enough living. Problem for me is that Melbourne is a great place to settle down and do these things, to have a base here where one might swap time between bartending and painting ongoing out with friends, but I’m not ready to settle.
Here, it’s hard to do all of these things and save up for traveling abroad. Most people I meet that are the creative types have lived here for years and are pursuing their passions. They love it. I just don’t love Melbourne enough to think I’d rather spend my money on nights out and short road trips instead of 6 months around Europe. In Australia you pretty much have to choose to become a bit of a hermit and put your savings away, or be social and explore and break even. And that’s how it in in the United States for myself, so maybe that’s why I have such a disconnect.
So, as my time here approaches the end I have come to terms with the fact that I won’t be seeing much of Australia, and I’m okay with that. I don’t feel like it was a mistake coming here, and in ways has helped me grow. In these last couple of months, I will be focusing on taking some smaller 2 day trips on days off like one to Sydney just for the hell-of-it and hopefully to Tasmania. But that big road trip I’d truly love to do across the country will have to come at a later date where I save solely for that. Maybe in a year or two I’ll return and spend a few months exploring Australia. It’s just not going to happen this time around.
What are your thoughts?