Here’s a summary of where I went in 2018; although none of the 6 countries were new to me, the places I visited and experiences I had TOTALLY were! Enjoy.
I lived in Australia on and off for about a year and a half between 2008 and 2010.
I started out volunteering in trade for free accommodation about 1.5 hours NE of Melbourne, in a rural area between Marysville and Alexandra. As a wildlife sanctuary, I became intimately acquainted with Australian critters during that time; I even had a kangaroo that followed me everywhere I went! (It was cute, and also a bit creepy).
Then, my boyfriend (at the time) and I decided we'd stick around for a while longer, and rented a place. Shortly thereafter, we were hit by Australia's worst-ever natural disaster: The Victorian Bushfires in February 2009. My diary account of the event was archived by the National Library of Australia as a piece of history.
Although I had a home base near Melbourne, I covered a TON of territory in Australia, including all of the epic train rides like The Ghan and the Indian Pacific - which ended up forming a big part of my book about trains.
In 2018, I returned to Melbourne for a month, to stay with some friends of mine who were helping me with some physical ailments.
In this month’s vlog, I share a story about the huntsman in my car. It’s part comedy, part horror flick, and part metaphysical drama. Have a look!
Here are 18 of the world’s fastest, highest, longest, deepest, happiest, smelliest, most dangerous – and more – things I’ve done:
This is the last installment of my mammoth series about the Indian Pacific train, which is part of an 11,000km train journey I took across Australia – and back again. My mission: to see if spending eight days on a train could inspire boredom. So far, no luck. Let’s see what the last two days […]
Join me 2/3 of the way through my 11,000 km journey taking Indian Pacific train across Australia and back – all to see if I can get bored.
So far in my 11,000km journey by train across Australia and back, I’ve been aboard the Indian Pacific for three nights since getting on in Sydney. We’ve stopped in Broken Hill, Adelaide, Cook, and Kalgoorlie. Today, I arrive at my halfway point and destination of sorts: Perth. This post was originally published in 2011. It […]
I had but a mere 24 hours (26 to be exact) to enjoy Perth, between getting off the Indian Pacific train from Sydney, and getting right back on it the following day to return to my point of origin. “Why aren’t you staying in Perth for longer?” was a question I often fielded in describing […]
At this point in the Indian Pacific series, I’m four days into my epic 11,000 km journey across Australia (and back), and have spent the last two nights aboard the Indian Pacific, traveling from Sydney to Perth (and back). Today we’re checking out Cook and Kalgoorlie. Learn about my grand departure from Sydney and the […]
Thus far in this series, I’ve set the stage for my epic 11,000km train journey, boarded the Indian Pacific train in Sydney, explored my digs, and settled in for the night. I will wake up to Broken Hill. This post was originally published in 2011. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and […]
My reasons for taking the Indian Pacific train across Australia in the way that I did are not why most normal folk would have. In reflecting on my three-day adventure riding The Ghan from Darwin to Adelaide, I was surprised at how quickly the time passed. I had figured that, despite my love of long-distance […]
Almost 48 hours after boarding The Ghan on Day One in Darwin, stopping in Alice Springs on Day Two, and with only a few hours to go to Adelaide, I was surprised to wake up and discover that we were still very much in the Australian outback on this three-day journey from Darwin to Adelaide. This […]
On day two of my three-day epic journey on The Ghan, I awoke from my slumber and gazed out the window. One of my favourite things about overnight train travel is laying in bed and watching the sun rise over the moving landscape. And today was no exception. The earth was even redder than on […]
One of my motivations in returning to Australia for a few months has been to experience the world-class multi-day train journeys that venture through some of the most uninhabitable parts of this sunburned country. And The Ghan train is one of those world-class trains, also reputed to be one of the most luxurious. Lucky me: […]
“Watch out for crocs,” was the advice of a friend ringing in my ears as I slipped off the steps and onto the rocky beach in Darwin, Australia. I knew better than to swim in the ocean (rife with box jellyfish, salt-water crocodiles, and other lethal delights), but I figured the beach would be safe […]
While I was visiting Canberra, my friend (also a Nora) and I wandered by a derelict collection of tents and temporary-looking dwellings in front of the old parliament building. “This is an odd spot for a campground,” I commented. “It’s not a campground,” Nora said. “It’s the Australian Aboriginal Tent Embassy.” Huh? That’s some kind […]
Canberra (pronounced more like “Can-bra” with the emphasis on the “can”), gets a bad rap. “Why would you want to go to Canberra?” was a question I had to answer more than once about visiting Australia’s capital city. Most of the people asking this question were Aussies themselves. For many tourists, Canberra doesn’t even make […]
My visit to Sydney and the nearby Blue Mountains was beautifully rounded out by staying with some friends just outside of the city. And aside from a chance encounter – or rather encounters (37 in total) – with some nasty spiders, all was beautiful. First, we took advantage of a gorgeous day (the first that wasn’t […]
While enjoying Sydney, I decided to explore the 10km coastal Manly Scenic Walkway. And no…the walk isn’t particularly masculine in nature…Manly is the name of the Sydney suburb where the walk begins. This article was originally published in 2010 and has since been updated for accuracy of content and links Manly Scenic Walkway Stats Length […]
If you want a comprehensive guide to seeing Sydney Australia, this post is not going to be very fulfilling. But if you would like to enjoy some random observations from Sydney and tips I have from roaming the streets of Sydney for almost a week, then please, feel free to continue reading. (I’m pretty sure […]
Walkabout Woes in Australia: We’re barely into 2010, and I can already see that it will be an interesting year. Coming into the year, I’ve had a few reservations – not the least of which is an agenda that entails us basing ourselves in Australia for another year; one that my itchy feet are objecting […]
Kelly stumbled on to some words to live by the other day, and I think they’re worth sharing. Both poignant and even humourous, these Ten Rules for Being Human are good ones. See also: 12 Life Lessons Learned From 12 Years of Travel This post was originally published in 2010. It has since been updated […]
As I sit in the remaining days of 2009, reflecting upon days past and planning for days to come, I realize that this year has seen quite a few adventures! It all started roughly a year ago, when we decided to give the gift of pumpkin pies to as many Australians as we could. We […]
Merry Christmas everybody! While people back home in Canada are playing in the snow, I’m playing with snakes here in Australia. Go figure. I’m dreaming of a brown Christmas…because it certainly isn’t white here. This post was originally published in 2009. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. This year, Kelly […]
I was recently contacted by a high school teacher in Western Australia, who said her year nine class was doing a project on the 2009 Victorian Bushfires, and having found my own diary entries on the ordeal, asked if I would be kind enough to read and respond to their reflections, as somebody who was […]
When a fellow travel blogger recently wrote about fire spinning in Thailand, I realized in reading it that I have been amiss with you, dear readers. You see, I have blatantly (and unintentionally) kept you in the dark about a new part of my own life; a hobby that is both relaxing and actively playful….Fire […]
Enjoying a piece of the world famous Great Ocean Walk at Cape Otway, I happen to find myself camping on night two in a little spot that wasn’t idyllic. As a former paddock, cows had trampled through not so long ago, as was evidenced by the dried out cow patties that consequently drenched the site […]
This is a review of Imagine: A Vagabond Story, by Grant Lingel. While his backpacker antics weren’t my cuppa tea, the vicarious debauchery was fun.
When I was recently overseas in North America visiting family and friends, things were eerily quiet. Sure – there were sounds of traffic, laughter, and the hum of the city, but there was something inexplicable missing. When I returned to Australia, I realized what was missing: the extraordinary lives and sounds of Australian birds. This […]
A clip of conversation with the postmaster at Woods Point: Nora: “We just rolled into town here on the recommendation of a friend of ours. And what a lovely place it is! It’s absolutely charming – I love it. What is the population?” Postmaster: “The population of Woods Point? 37. But if you include the […]
In a philosophical conversation with an acquaintance the other day, I was informed that he doesn’t like the way I travel. Not only does he not like it for himself, but he doesn’t like it for me; he feels that full-time travel is an act of withdrawal from the world. This post was originally published […]
Here is a conversation I had with an Aussie mate the other day: Me: “Do you have a nickel?” Aussie Mate: “A what?” Me: “A nickel”. Aussie Mate: “A what?” Me: “Oh for god’s sake. A nickel! You know – a five-cent piece!” Aussie Mate: “OH! You mean a five-cent piece!” (hands over said currency) […]
In my series of posts on Australian expressions and idiosyncrasies, I realize that I have left you, dear readers, sadly in the dark. You see, I have just now unlocked one of the secrets to speaking like an Aussie in no time. In a way it is so simple that I adopted it without realizing […]
The winter fog rolling through the Australian countryside in Victoria is epic. Check out these pictures of this magical (if not slightly hazardous) wonder.
Australian expressions of pleasure: I love traveling through different English-speaking countries. Although we all speak the same language in that we can (usually) order a burger and fries without much ado, at the same time we really don’t speak the same language. I’ve been baffled by heavily-accented fast-talking Outbackers, confused by sayings about drinking, and […]
This photo of Snow in Australia was taken yesterday from our backyard…literally. Although I’m a Canadian on a permanent mission to avoid winter, I’ve done a pretty crappy job of it. This post was originally published in 2009. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. After summer in western Canada, I […]
Two cool things happened this week. Winter started, which means we are celebrating one year in Australia. This post was originally published in 2009. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. A year ago when we arrived in Australia, winter had begun but we were none the wiser: we enjoyed a […]
We’re fast approaching the 1-year anniversary of our arrival in Australia. And in the course of our Aussie adventures, some of the local customs, slang, and other characteristics are slowly permeating my daily way of life that’s finding me turning into an Aussie. Here are a few: This post was originally published in 2009. It has […]
As I was inhaling another of many Australian hamburgers the other day, I realized I was eating a burger that nobody in North America (and other places for that matter) had ever seen the likes of. In explaining to some folks at home in Canada how Australians prefer to eat their burgers, the awed silence […]
Having recently experienced Easter Down Under here in Australia, I continue to marvel at the little differences that exist between two strikingly similar countries – Canada and Australia. This post was originally published in 2009. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. Although traveling in countries where the native language is […]
“Okay, ready to rappel – I mean abseil,” I say as I prepare to descend a small cliff near the summit of Mt Kosciuszko – Australia’s highest mountain. “That’s okay, say rappel. It’s nice to talk to somebody who actually knows what rappelling is and doesn’t call me a Yank for it,” says Chris, our […]
The mission: To climb Australia’s highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko (pronounced kahz-ee-ahz-koh) at 2,228 meters above sea level. The highest peak on the continent. A feat for anybody aiming to climb the highest peaks on each continent. A real notch for the climbing belt, if you ask me. (Sshhh….don’t tell anybody that there’s a chairlift that […]
After being home for a few days in the wake of a month-long evacuation due to the Victorian bush fires, we hear/smell/feel/see something that makes our hearts sing: rain. It pours overnight, and drizzles through the next few days. Although naysayers worry about erosion and the negative long-term restorative effects of too much rain, we […]
Anthony Bourdain has long been my hero. So imagine my distress when I learned that he was in the very same small town in Australia as I – and I didn’t know.
In this final entry of my Australian bushfire diary, I return home…to a place I’d only moved into 2 days before the fires.
Two weeks into the Victoria Bush Fires of 2009, I need to get away. Thankfully that chance comes, and I reflect on living in the present moment.
In this busy fire diary, I am heading back into the thick smoke after a brief break in Melbourne. Going back is very difficult.
In this fire diary: The roads are finally open and I take a drive through charred landscapes to visit some friends in Melbourne.
On the 11th day of my Victoria bush fire diary, I start to wonder how long this will last. We are all feeling the effects of fatigue.
We’re still on high alert, but 10 days in, the Victoria bush fire is becoming a norm of sorts. Also a great news story involving goldfish.
In day 9 of my Australian Bush Fire Diary, I check in on the home I’ve been evacuated from. But it’s still not safe to stay there.
We are over a week into the epic Australian bushfire of 2009, and things are unfortunately getting political at the relief warehouse. Also, a dramatic juxtaposition of photos.
On Day 7 of the victorian bushfires, on february 13th, the warehouse we started is filling up with donations from around Australia.
On Day 6 of the Victorian Bushfire of 2009, I stay up all night writing an article for the Toronto Star on a tight deadline, and I’m a mess.
On day five of the 2009 victorian bush fires diary, the warehouse is filling up with donations for fire survivors. It’s heart-warming.
We’re trying to spread some love to the traumatized survivors of the Victorian bush fires. This is Day 4 of my history-making diary.
On day 3 of the Australian bush fire diary, I find myself face to face with the Prime Minister of Australia! I also sleep on a pub floor.
Victorian Bush Fire Diary: Sunday, February 10 th, 2009. Day 2 of a month-long chronicle of living amid the fires whilst evacuated.
On Feb 7th 2009, Australia saw it’s worst natural disaster. I was in the middle of it. Read on for the historic Victorian Bush Fire Diary.
I got what I asked for, in spades. Heat, heat, and even more…heat. Not just heat; I got the 100 year heat wave. This post was originally published in 2009. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. Typically the Legendary Hot Days of more than 40 degrees that plague Australian summers […]
A question asked of me recently by a reader, and possibly especially pertinent now that we are looking at staying in Australia after a year here already, may be: “Are you still a traveler if you’re not actually…traveling?” You may wonder how I can satisfy the title of The Professional Hobo if I am in […]
I would say that our time in Australia is coming to an end and that it is time to move on. But that would be a lie. In fact, quite the opposite: our time in Australia is not coming to an end. But it is still time to move on. Let me explain. This post […]
The meaning of “Fair Dinkum” in Australia is elusive at best. Here is what I learned, along with a whole collection of input from readers.
Today is a total fire bans day. The air is heavy (but not humid) as I step outside from the cool respite of our practically-air-conditioned-it’s-so-cold cottage. I walk into the sunshine, and even at 3pm I immediately feel its rays burning through the first few layers of my skin. Even a breeze on this calm […]
Australians aren’t familiar with Pumpkin Pie. I baked one for everybody I knew; though people were skeptical, it was a hit. Here’s the recipe!
Having grown up with white Christmases in Canada, I wasn’t been feeling Christmas spirit here in Australia. But my first Christmas in Australia turned out pretty well! See also: I’m Dreaming of a Brown Christmas (new lyrics to an old song)And: My Christmas Present to Australia: Pumpkin Pie! (with recipe) This post was originally published […]
“You must have a little veggie patch at your place, don’t you? Everybody does,” said one Aussie fellow to me when speaking about the Australian agriculture industry. “Chuck just about anything in the ground, it grows here,” were his wise words to me that day about gardening down under. This post was originally published in […]
First off, who the heck is Wilson, why am I at his prom, what on earth is a rosella, and why is it on my freaking head?! Never fear, it will all make sense.
After meeting Bracken our horny and insatiable kangaroo, and feeding the beautiful king parrots here at Kingbilli, we knew we were in the perfect place to become acquainted with native Australian wildlife in ways that most people – even Australians – don’t have a chance to. Such are the benefits of living on a property […]
Your dog just died. “She’ll be right mate,” is the sympathetic response of your Australian friend. Climate change is upon us. The whole country, and in particular the state of Victoria has endured over a decade of drought. “She’ll be right mate,” replies an Aussie as they seem to shrug off an evident problem. You […]
When I initially came to Australia, I thought the rhetoric that Melbourne has four seasons in a day was precisely that: rhetoric. Turns out it’s not that big an exaggeration. This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. For more about my 2 years of Aussie […]
When there’s a redback in your kitchen, it’s something to note. Australians and arachnophobes alike will know what I’m talking about here. This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. Despite learning the hard way the punch a centipede bite can pack, seeing snakes slither […]
There are two specific sports in Australia, the culmination of which grind many places to a total halt, in some cases warranting an all out public holiday: the Melbourne Cup (a horse race, yes a horse race), and the recently held AFL Grand Final. This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been […]
Local Australians tend to view the copious King Parrots with varying degrees of enthusiasm or converse nonchalance. Some people are quite interested to observe them when they land on a stair banister close by. Others don’t even bother to give them a second glance. This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been […]
With a giant hole in the ozone layer above Australia, there is an entirely different approach to spending time in the great outdoors here. One in three people suffers a bout with skin cancer, and evidence of it is common; I see many a reconstructed nose, bits of ears missing, or grafted skin on various […]
Eek! The Australian Huntsman. This post was originally published in 2008, toward the beginning of my 18 time in Australia. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. For a subsequent entertaining incident where I shared my car with an Australian Huntsman for quite some time, check out this post and this […]
Can’t decide if you’re a city person or a country person? Here’s an unbiased analysis of the pros and cons of city live vs country life, after having lived extensively in both. Enjoy!
Our first koala rescue comes as a surprise. At 5:30pm, Georgie (the young and beautiful owner of Kingbilli) knocks on our door. “Any chance you guys would like to help me wrestle a koala out of a tree in Alexandra?” No sooner than the words are out of her mouth are our dinner plans put […]
Spring has sprung in Victoria, Australia, and it’s a grand and beautiful thing. Enjoy these observations (and pics) of the black swans and their chicks!
He is our watch-kangaroo. Our sentinel. And our unrequited lover. This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. I wake up bright and early, eager to get some writing done. I poke my head into the kitchen on the way to the living room, peering […]
Small town life is a creature that lives and breathes; it is a way of life very different (and sometimes challenging) for the urban warrior. Here’s how.
As I mentioned in a previous article, the Llama can be quite stand-offish, and we had a heck of a time getting close to these dears for the longest time. They would eye us wearily as we sidled towards them cooing and clucking in as friendly a way as we could muster, only to look […]
Bless all the creatures at Kingbilli! From wild to rescued to rehabilitated to domestic, we are not alone. Here are a few of the animals we’ve met so far.
Gotta love Australia. As much as we feel completely at home in this foreign land, every once in a while something happens – somebody says something odd, or we see a strange sign – to remind us that we are still oh so far away from our home country. Although we initially had a number […]
“We’ve died and gone to Kingbilli,” I said to Kelly, as we gazed in awe at the place we are to call home for the next six to ten months while we volunteer in trade for free accommodation. This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and […]
Having come through sub-tropical rainforests, learned to drive on the other side of the road, squished squeaky sand between our toes at beach towns, slept in the chilly high-altitude tablelands, fossicked for treasure in opal mining towns, driven through the great outback, and hiked through yet more national parks, before seeing the ocean again along […]
As the road south from the climbing and trekking Mecca of Grampians National Park spilled out onto the ocean a few hours later, we knew our World Nomads Ambassador adventure was coming to an end. But it wasn’t a sad moment, because we plan to go out with a bang, on Great Ocean Road. This […]
This post about Brambuk Cultural Centre was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. Being from Canada, we feel right at home in Oz. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Everywhere we turn, we see more and more similarities between Australia and Canada, and […]
Here’s what we’ve learned about Australian caravan parks while on the epic World Nomads Ambassador trip, spending six weeks in a campervan.
A long blare of a not-too-distant horn echoed throughout Broken Hill around 6:30pm, while we were preparing dinner. Read on to see what this was.
While a title like Royal Flying Doctors might evoke images of yet another hospital trip for Kelly (as happened in Thailand and Hawaii), this story has a much happier ending. This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. No, instead, this is about an incredible tour […]
When people told us about the colours of the outback – the stark contrast between the red of the dirt with the blue of the sky, and the silvery green of the eucalyptus trees that dot the landscape – we were somewhat blasé about it. We knew it would be beautiful, but really. And when […]
“When I close my eyes, I see opals,” said Kelly, shaking his head.It seems he has a touch of opal fever. This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. Lightning Ridge and the surrounding areas are famous for its abundance of opals, and in particular […]
“Outback theatre with a twist,” says the flyer for Black Queen, with a picture of an oil lamp and a woman with a mysterious look. I didn’t really anticipate that this opal mining town would exactly have a bustling theatre community, but there it is. This post was originally published in 2008. It has since […]
When we rolled into Lightning Ridge, after a series of unfortunate and displeasing coincidences, we were ready to roll right back out the following day. I was crushed. Luckily things changed, very quickly. This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. Ever since reading about […]
Upon first blush in Lightning Ridge, you may find an opal-mining town with very little to keep you here for more than a day or so. It reeks of an environment trying a touch too hard to be attractive to tourists. The one and only road to leading into and out of town is lined […]
“I’m sure I’ll eventually get tired of seeing all these kangaroos, but for now I just can’t get enough of them,” I said, as I apologetically snapped off a few more pictures at one of my many kangaroo photo sessions. It seems that we’ve happened upon a mecca for wildlife here in Warrumbungle National Park. […]
This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. Uralla – a very small town in the New England Tablelands (read: high altitude lands) was a painful shot to our tropical arms whilst traveling around Australia in a campervan for 6 weeks. If we thought we […]
This post about deep sea fishing with Ballina and Beyond was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. Byron Bay is lovely. It is a surf town full of surf shops, surf food places, surf cafes, and more surf-y stuff. Everything is horribly over-priced, but that’s what […]
This post about Vision Walks was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. “I hope you don’t mind having a corpse in the back of the van,” Wendy said in her ever-cheerful demeanour. She was loading the body of a pademelon (a small kangaroo from the looks […]
Caravans (meaning trailers in Australian) and caravan parks are everywhere in Oz. Caravan culture is a whole thing, and something entirely new to my Canadian sensibilities. Trailer Parks. Tornado Bait. Trailer Trash. Drunks on welfare raising families of six kids born from three different fathers (or mothers). Lots of stained white tank tops with beer […]