Diary Series #4 – What the hell was I thinking? 

A new chapter

When I was planning this whole adventure, I had marked out my first chapter. I made a rough plan of where I was going, kinda like connect the dots. I would fly into Adelaide, travel The Great Ocean Road, explore the hipster streets of Melbourne and tour the beautiful landscapes of Tasmania. Except arriving in Sydney, there were no more dots to connect. This was as far as I had planned and it was up to me to improvise my next chapter.

Pre-Departure Emotions 

As I sat in Hobart’s departure lounge awaiting my flight to Sydney, I was overcome with excitement, sadness and fear. Within a few hours not only would I see my sister and her fiancee for the first time in a year, but I would finally meet my then five week old nephew. To top it all off, my Mum had flown over from the UK the previous day to visit us all. However, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of guilt. I should be bouncing off the walls with excitement, instead my feelings were overshadowed by sadness and fear.

The sadness came from a few things, it was mainly the reality that my time in Tasmania was coming to an abrupt end and the fact that I’d had such an amazing time – how could any other experience possibly top it? The fear and anxiety of not knowing what’s next on my agenda had me dumbfounded. I had no plans after Sydney, what the hell was I thinking? I thought I’d become some sort of free-spirited hippie type traveller and be cool with not knowing what was coming next.

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Cruising up the Derwent River in Tasmania

The Family Reunion

Since my sister moved to Australia, she’d always hassle me to come and visit. I promised that I’d make the ten thousand mile voyage one day. Finally this day arrived. I’ll never forget how surreal it felt to press the No.22 buzzer for her flat. My heart was pumping and I was relieved to finally feel that excitement. As I stepped into the flat, I was taken back by how beautiful it was. They’d really made this place into a home.

My sister and her fiancee Sean had kindly offered up their sofa for as long I wanted. This was music to my ears, as we all know, free accommodation is the best thing in the world, not only that but I felt blessed to able to spend some quality time with my family from the other side of the world.

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The beautiful view from my sisters apartment

Meeting baby Max was indescribable. Usually I’m not really fussed about babies or children, in fact, I was never convinced about having children of my own. This time it was different, I was an uncle for the first time and it really meant something to me.
Without sounding broody, spending time with Max over the past month has really made me consider my opinion of having a child of my own one day.

Being reunited with my Mum was special too. Over the past month we explored Sydney together; seeing the sights, enjoying the weather and eating our weight in ice creams. Essentially I was travelling with my Mum, how weird is that? We’d never spent this much time together, and I honestly feel I’ll look back at this as a one of the best times of my life.

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Mum and I enjoying the harbor views

I’ve never had a Christmas like this! 

The Christmas period can be notoriously lonely for a backpacker, but I was fortunate enough to spend it with my Mum, my sister, Sean and his family (sorry for the mouthful)  Their house was huge, I’m talking three floors and a swimming pool. Being from a working class background I wasn’t used to this at all, but for the next few days I was living a life of luxury.

Christmas Day was great, I was definitely blessed with an authentic Australian Christmas. There must have been at least twelve of us around the table, it was absolute madness, completely different from the Christmas’ I’m used to. The sunshine was gleaming, prawns were on the barbie, the alcohol was flowing and sport was on the TV. The Aussies sure do know how to do Christmas. Boxing day was much the same, except after the feast it was time to play some backyard Cricket with the boys. I’m by no means a keen cricketer, the last time I played Cricket was back in Primary School! Excuses aside, I had to fly the flag for England. Turns out I’m terrible at bowling and all I’m capable of is batting the ball into the neighbors back yard three doors down. Anyone for a “6 and Out?”

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The Aussies know how to put on a good spread!

I worked … for a bit.

“I hadn’t quit my full-time job in the UK to then pick up another full time job 10,000 miles away”

I was quite fortunate to have a job offered to me through a family friend. It was strenuous warehouse picking and packing located near Sydney Airport, some fifty minute bus-ride from where I was staying. This family friend had gone through the trouble of organising this for me so I thought it was only polite to take the opportunity and see what it was all about. It involved picking and packing stainless steel wire and components used on yachts. The work was physically challenging but the employees were welcoming and there was a possible chance of sponsorship.

GREAT! EVERYTHING’S COMING UP MILHOUSE!

It wasn’t until the bus ride home that the penny dropped. Staring out the bus window, watching the world go by, I realised I wasn’t here to settle down into a job, I was here to travel. I hadn’t quit my full-time job in the UK to then pick up another full time job 10,000 miles away. Ok, so I may be contradicting myself a little here as working was always on the agenda but I envisioned that I’d be fruit picking or farming, besides, the warehouse work doesn’t count towards my 2nd year visa.

New Years

This New Years eve was completely different. Instead of bouncing around to Deep House overly intoxicated, I spent this New Years Eve with my new Travel Blog friend theholiad who I’d met through bacpackyack, her new Irish friend Tom and his sister Lorna.

I was lucky enough to be house sitting over the New Year period, so we had the whole house to ourselves. We cooked up a mean BBQ, had a few drinks and headed out to Balls Head Reserve to view the Sydney Fireworks. It was such a symbolic experience, somehow I’d miraculously landed on my feet. Here I was, 10,000 miles away from home, living out my dream, spending time with new friends in arguably the best city in the world. Watching the fireworks I couldn’t help but smile, I’d achieved everything I wanted in 2016.

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Tom loves his burgers.

So what’s next?

I’ll be going back to where it all began. Radelaide. I know, not extremely creative of myself, however there’s a reason behind it. In Adelaide’s YHA their Hot Chocolate machine was conveniently placed next to the classifieds. As I waited for the obnoxiously loud machine to make my Hot Chocolate, I caught a glimpse of a poster on the Classified Job Board.

“Sleep Study Participants Wanted”

Hmmm… I was intrigued, I’d always heard about these Medical Studies and for me it would be a relatively easy way to make a little money. This one didn’t involve taking strange medication, so why not? What could possibly go wrong? Whilst I was in Tasmania, I fired an email over them to see if I could take part in the next study.

ZING! I actually got a reply. I’m heading to Adelaide on the 10th to either make a little money or to suffer my impending death…

Make sure to follow my progress on this study, I’m hoping to Blog the whole experience and tell you guys a little more about it.

What about after this?

I’m not to sure… I’m leaving myself open to opportunity. This chapter of my trip will be completely different to the first. As I mentioned, I hadn’t planned anything after Sydney, so I guess I’ll just go with the flow and see what happens. I do need to start thinking about completing my Farm Work or Fruit Picking for my second year visa, maybe I’ll be lucky enough to find something in South Australia. For now I’m sticking my fingers in my ears and yelling “lalalalalalala”


I really hope you enjoyed reading my latest Diary Series.

As I’ve said before, the idea behind it is to give you a deeper insight into what’s going on in my head and In my life as I explore Australia as inexperienced solo – Backpacker.

If you like what you read, make sure to like and drop a comment below.

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Thanks!

Mark.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Kat says:

    This made me laugh… the Adelaide YHA vending machines are obnoxiously loud! Nice hostel though 🙂 Good luck with your sleep study… vaguely remember someone I met telling me they did orange picking in Renmark, South Australia for their 2nd year visa. It was a bit later in the season I think but might be a starting point for your search.

    Like

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