So, after months of laying low in Melbourne trying to save up for my next adventure, I am finally back on the road again. I just finished a 2.5 week road trip up the east coast of Australia and now I am waiting in a crowded airport in Darwin for my connecting flight to Bali. They have basically quarantined anyone with an international connecting flight into this tiny waiting area, even though some of us have layovers of over 5 hours. Some lady next to me has been pacing around screaming at her husband/partner/man friend for the last hour because he obviously should have known that this particular airport has now closed its smoking balcony due to new laws and in her nicotine deprived haze he is the source of all evil in the world and her failure overall in life. You can immediately see the toll this cage has taken on everyone in here as the place looks more like a brewery than a check-in gate, with empty bottles of beer and glasses of wine overflowing off tables. It doesn’t help that they don’t seem to have the a/c on and we are in the tropics. If this post ends randomly its probably because my computer has shorted due to all of the sweat dripping on it while I type. From the fat guy next to me of course, obviously not from me, I’m a lady…
So I have no idea what I’m going to do once I get to Bali, but I’m thinking serious amounts of sleep will be required. The last 16 days have been full on, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I first met my friend Lanie in Brisbane where we picked up our camper van for the first leg of the trip. She’s a kiwi chick that I worked with at a ski resort in Wanaka. We went with the cheapest rental company, Wicked Campers, who are famous for their fleet of colorfully painted vans with sometimes insightful, oft offensive sayings/life mantras written all over them. Even knowing this, ours still managed to surprise us.
It said “Never trust a smiling cat” and had a picture of Garfield on the side.
<pause for effect>
Now, while I wholeheartedly agree with this advice, I would not particularly say it is the mantra that I wanted to spread throughout the streets of Australia as we drove up the coast. We found that as we would pull up to some tourist destination, we’d be looking out the window and start to point at something, and realize about 5 people on the road or in cafes were already pointing at us. That’s one way to travel in style. I mean nothing sayings “I’m a free-spirited hippie traveler” like Garfield giving a thumbs up right?
So we first headed down to Byron Bay, where we planned to then make our way back up the east coast of Australia, ending our trip in Cairns where we’d go our separate ways. Byron has made its name as a hippie surf town with a relaxed atmosphere and good people, and it lived up to its reputation.
(SIDENOTE: OK seriously everyone around me is drinking; old men, women, children. Well, maybe not the children but you can never be sure what’s in their sippie cups. Judging some of the parents around I wouldn’t be surprised. I may need to get myself a beer. Hey, if all the toddlers are doing it…)
Sitting on our back porch (the patch of grass behind our camper) having some wines before what we had intended to be a big night out in town our second night in Byron, we got convinced by a crazy man with flyers that we should do a surf trip with him the next day. Instead of going to bed, we proceeded to stay up til 5 am talking absolute shite (a favorite pastime of mine) with our neighbors (i.e. the van parked across from us) before having to wake up at 8 for a full on day of surfing. Lucky for us, the water was less “gnarly waves bro” and more “splish splash I was taking a bath” so we managed to pull up alrite.
That is until I looked out of the corner of my eye and saw a large gray fin emerge from the water about 15 feet away from me. Calm, cool, collected woman of the water that I am I immediately began flailing about, squealing incoherently and doing a mixture of simultaneous swimming, surfing, and body boarding that got me all of two inches closer to the shore than when I began. When I finally got to the shore, I ran up to the waters edge, winded and panicked, only to find my instructor doubled over with laughter as my close encounter with a shark attack actually was just a dolphin coming over to see what we were up to. The instructor tried to tell me the difference between when you see a dolphin fin emerge versus a shark fin, but I’m sorry, I see a fin pop up when I’m in the water and I’m not stopping to analyze the swim patterns, I’m getting the hell out of the water.
Next up, Brisbane, Noosa, Fraser Island, and the Whitsunday Islands…