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.
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.
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 […]
Days of the week have lost all meaning on me. Although I generally know what day of the week it is, I sometimes struggle to remember, and shortly thereafter realize that it rarely matters. Sure, there are things I have to do on certain days. Wednesday nights are Rotary meetings, Thursdays are the days that […]
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. The Drive We had just spent the last two hours driving northeast from Melbourne to our own little paradise near a town you’ve probably never […]
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! Australia’s Great Ocean road meanders […]
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 are amazed that two countries so far apart geographically can share so many commonalities. One such common bond, and one neither country […]
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.
For once, this isn’t a story about Kelly needing medical assistance (as he did in Thailand and Hawaii)! No, instead, this is about an incredible tour we did of the Royal Flying Doctors Base in Broken Hill. Australia is big. Really big. And although Broken Hill is known as the “accessible outback”, most of the outback […]
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 eucalypt 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. Lightning Ridge and the surrounding areas are famous for its abundance of opals, and in particular the black opal, which can basically only be found here. For decades, people have visited, and […]
“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 mining town would exactly have a bustling theatre community, but there it is. And being an actor/singer/dancer, of course my interests are piqued. We […]
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. Ever since reading about it in the Lonely Planet, I wanted to go, and was prepared to travel out of our way to get there. Lonely Planet […]
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.In […]
Uralla – a very small town in the New England Tablelands (read: high altitude lands) was a painful shot to our tropical arms. If we thought we were cold in Springbrook, we didn’t know what cold meant. We knew we were in trouble when we started seeing our breath before the sun was even down. […]
Ballina and Beyond: 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 you get in a touristy town with tons of character. It was the small towns and people we met outside of Byron Bay […]
-Originally published in 2008, updated for accuracy of links- “I hope you don’t mind having a corpse in the back of the van,” Wendy said in her ever-cheerful demeanor. She was loading the body of a pademelon (a small kangaroo from the looks of it) wrapped in her raincoat onto the back seat. It had […]
Caravans (meaning trailers in Australian) and caravan parks are everywhere in Oz. 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 bellies poking out and LOTS of scratching. There are any number of negative connotations […]
Evans Head (about an hour south of Byron Bay) was a surprising treat and a little sample of absolute paradise. Knowing we would be kayaking the following morning, we pulled into the nearby caravan park. We were surprised to discover it was completely full, save for a handful of un-powered sites in less-than-optimal locations. Since […]
I’m always on the prowl for little differences and idiosyncrasies that add character to a place. And Australia is home to many such charming qualities. I remember reading a book that described Australia as being “almost home” (the author was American). They speak the same language, but with a smaller inset of vocabulary that is unique […]
(This post was originally published in 2008. It has been updated for accuracy of links) “Be careful of the crocs,” Sergio says as we steer our kayaks up a small creek deep in the mangroves. “Really? There are crocs here? Cool!” I say, feeling only a little nervous with scenes from Crocodile Dundee flashing through […]
Here’s how Lonely Planet primed us for the town of Nimbin: Landing in Nimbin can be like entering a social experiment, particularly at noon, when Byron day-trippers arrive en masse and find themselves hectored by dreadlocked, tie-dyed pot dealers on the main street. This is the stereotype, of course (not all pot dealers wear tie-dye), […]
While walking through a dense sub-tropical rainforest in Springbrook National Park: Nora: I wonder how many snakes are in this park. Kelly: Don’t be silly. It’s winter. They’re all hiding. Hibernating probably. Nora: Hibernating? Do snakes hibernate? Kelly: Not sure. But if they don’t hibernate, they certainly hide in holes somewhere. Nora: You know, Australia […]
“We have to what? Drive a what? Where? And how?” was along the lines of what I said as the reality sank in of having the World Nomads van in our possession for the next six weeks and driving on the other side of the road. I had spent the last few months in Asia […]
Our first week in Australia has been an amazing one, due in no small part to the kindness of others we have received. Cairns Through our Hospitality Club membership, we met Anne and family. Anne and her husband Kerry (who was sadly out of town while we were visiting) have four grown-and-growing-up kids, and a […]