I’ve only been out of Oz two days, but I miss it already. Mostly I miss the hodgepodge of funky travelers I met there.
I started my month-and-a-half stint in Oz in Sydney. I was there a week, at the bars every night, and having the time of my life every minute. Nowadays, it’s hard to meet a foreigner in Australia NOT traveling for a year and looking for a job - whether it be picking fruit, waitressing at a stripclub, or cleaning toilets in a hostel. And to tell you the truth, I envy them. My year is quickly coming to a close, and I’m looking for any excuse/plan to keep it going. These Oz dwellers seem to have the best of both worlds: a year to meet new people, enjoy new adventures, party like they’re on vacation from reality (which they are), AND work some sort of job they might not want in their motherland and yet love abroad since it feels unreal and still manages to pay the bar tabs.
I must admit that Aussies know how to party, although after 1 am the bar turns into a frightening nightmare of sloppy women and starving men. There is always something happening in Sydney, and I made sure to check my “Cheap Guide” every night to avoid paying the average $10 for a beer. After a week of non-stop partying with a group of English folk and my Canadian pool partner Matt, it was high time I took a break and headed “home” to the other side of Oz, in Jillie’s sweet embrace.
Ever since I met Jill at 2 am in the Warren Towers bathroom, brushing our teeth, we’ve been linked at the hip, so you can understand my heartache when she fell in love with Irishman Ronan and moved to Dublin. Now the economy is shite, there are no jobs, and they moved Perth. It was so nice to go to a piece of home and have an Irish good time on the other side of the world. We went camping in Margaret River, where we stalked kangaroos hopping about our site after dark - probably not the wisest of decisions - and sipped on Oz’s finest wines. During Jill’s work week (I don’t have such a thing), we’d meet up for lunch, catch up, and enjoy the comfort of our years of history. She’s my sister from another mister. Yes, it’s true she tried to convince me to move to Oz, and, yes, it’s true, I am easily convinced to try anything at least once. Oz 2012?! After two weeks in the best of company, including Jill and Ronan’s Irish expat clan, I was sad to go but eager to catch a glimpse of Australia’s infamous Great Barrier Reef.
I flew out to Cairns and moved into my dorm room at 5 am in a room full of booze-seeping blokes, landmines of clothing, and a howling snorchestra. Thankfully by morning, these monsters were replaced by Mark and Kasper, a couple of Danish guys on a long holiday. We had a great time sharing a glass of goon or two, free meals at The Woolshed, and the daily mayhem at Gilligan’s. I took a tour of nearby waterfalls on Captain Matty’s Barefoot Tour, where I met Canadian Raylyn who could hold her own as well as I could in the bar. And on one of the only sunny days I got in Cairns, I took a daytrip to the Great Barrier Reef, where I was left free to roam the underwater realm at my ease and to my immense satisfaction. There is nothing I love more than breathing underwater (and any girl who used to pretend to be a mermaid in the pool will empathize).
The place I’ll miss the most in Oz was my last stop, Melbourne. When meeting Australians, you’ll notice a clear rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne. Sydney is crowded and very cosmopolitan, and Melbourne is a little more spread out geographically and has quaint cafes and more of a hipster vibe, as far as I can tell. It’s like the difference between Sex and the City and How I Met Your Mother. My hostel had a bar that I frequented daily, beer being the international ice breaker, as well as pool. Shout out to my boys Graham, Dominic, Rich, and Timmy. These fellows took great care of me, making sure to drag me to the bars until 5 am, luring me into a happy hour at 4 pm, and schooling me on the pool table. If I could take them with me, I would. Again, I’ve learned that it’s not really the place that matters but the people you meet. When you feel genuine excitement about seeing your crew, you know you’ve got it made.
Moving to Oz next year is a tempting idea. It’s hard to decide what it is I should do when I return, my end date creeping up behind me. I know that I’ve never been as happy as I’ve been this year, on the road, meeting the funnest and most diverse of people from across the world, sharing tales, nights, dancefloors, and dorm rooms. I find it hard to believe that there isn’t a way I can make this feeling last forever, that I can’t make my life out of this. It could all just be a dream, but if it is I don’t want to wake up.