Some would class this as some as a love letter. But I will class it as a letter of appreciation for the land I hold so dearly to my heart.
As my time in this country draws to an end, and I find myself saying more goodbyes than I would like to people and places that mean more to me than I ever expected them to. I came to Australia on a whim. I planned to stay for just under 3 months. But under the heat of the Australian sun and the easy breezy ways of the summer on the Northern Beaches of Sydney had me hooked and I’ve ended up working out how to stay for just 21months longer than originally planned.
But now the time comes to say goodbye. It’s a time for reflection and gratitude, but also a time to acknowledge not just the good times, also some of the downfalls of this great land.
Let me start by saying I am not interested in an Australia without beaches. The warm wash of turquoise waters, so clear you can see what lies beneath will always be one of the biggest lures to me. Australia, the land of sand, sun and sea. This association has been drummed into my English brain for the best part of 21 years, so it’s somewhat hard to shake. The fact I have no only surfed with dolphins, but whales in my vicinity only adds to the wonderment of this aquatic paradise. What I have learnt in my time here, is that there is actually more to Australia than sand, sun and sea.
There’s an awful lot of people who live on the inside of the country, thousands of kilometres from any coast line. And it’s tough out there. Yes there are still beautiful parts, but the infrastructure is not as well developed, so it’s more difficult to get around, thus ideas aren’t spread as readily or as quickly as they are on the coast lines. And unfortunately this leads to inland Australia, in my experience, to be rather stuck behind the times in terms of social norms. Sexism, chauvinism and racism is high and considered rather normal. This lessens somewhat as you get to the coast, although it is still prevalent, only not the extremes perhaps as it is on the inside of the country. Just look at Queensland, one of the larger states which covers a large amount of the interior of the country and still manages to support a large proportion of the population. They just elected Pauline Hanson to represent them in Parliament. They chose to have a woman who is openly racist and supports the “Stop the Boats” movement as their representation. For a developed, first world country this should be a worry. Although, unfortunately not as surprising as it should be, given the demographic of Queensland’s interior.
Despite this Australians are some of the most welcoming and chatty people I have ever had the pleasure to come across. When they ask “How you going?” they want an answer. They actually want to know about your day and what you’ve been doing. Whilst at first this was a bit of a shock to me coming from the north of England, now I don’t quite know how I will be coping without the normality of friendliness. Which is definitely a very sad thing to have to say! I reckon it’s because of the increased levels of vitamin D in their blood streams.
They are widely adventurous, outdoorsy and creative. The amount of small Australian bands I have loved, tiny boutiques I have frequented and entrepreneurs I have admired the ideas of, is surmountable to a small mountain. I am the proud owner of a keepcup (a barista standard coffee cup – reducing single use plastics one cup at a time), several independent musician albums and the most expensive lip balm I’ve ever purchased made by a woman who was frustrated with the lack of organic baby products and therefore created her own brand, so popular she expanded to products for grown ups. These kinds of people are not rare in Australia but were somehow missing from my English life. But now are somewhat cemented into my heart and soul, and their ideas into my brain.
The beauty of this land I’ve been privileged enough to call home for the past two years never fails to amaze me. Whether it’s the sunsets, or the beaches, or the expanse of bush land, and even the the beauty of Sydney it’s self which is all at your fingertips to explore.
I’m going to miss the normality of walking around with no shoes on and through the middle of town with my bikini on and carrying a surfboard. Whilst this is normal behaviour in my Australian home, it is most definitely not in the Lake District! More than that I’m going to miss the proximity of the ocean to my home. Being surrounded by water and what feels like ultimate freedom when I perch on top of a headland and look on forever.
Most of all though I’m going to miss my friends. The people who have watched and helped me go through some tough times whilst celebrating the good ones. People who have taught me more about myself and how who I want to be than I thought I would know at 21. I have the kind of friends who it feels like you’ve known forever here. I have networks and I’m by no means done making stories with these amazing people in my life. Fortunately for me, my friendships are often built on an adventurous nature, which means I will definitely be seeing my favourite people again. As we all explore this amazing planet we call home.
And I will be back. I’m by no means done. I never made it to Tasmania or Western Australia, so I’ve still got a lot to explore! I’ve fallen in love. And part of my heart will always be her, despite the faults of this bizarre the geographically diverse land.
Australia. I love you.
See you soon.