It was my last full day in Australia, and I woke up with sinus pressure bothering me. I spent some time communicating with some painters, trying to arrange for them to go to the house I bought in Missouri so they could give me a quote for painting the inside.
I had the day to explore Hobart, the capital of Tasmania. First, I drove to Mount Wellington. It’s a huge mountain in the city. It took me 45 minutes to drive to the top because of the windy road snaking its way up.
The view was incredible! I could see for miles and miles! There was a large parking lot and several different viewing platforms. An elevated sidewalk stretched over the rocks to connect a few platforms.
I could see the city of Hobart, the ocean, smaller mountains, and the bay cutting into the land. It was a beautiful blue-sky day sprinkled with some clouds. It was warmer outside than it had been the last week, but the top of the mountain was probably ten degrees colder.
I walked around to different platforms, enjoying the weather and views. There was even a small building with glass on three sides so you could enjoy the view without the cold wind. I walked inside and took in the surrounding scenery as much as I could.
Once I finished, I started the drive down the mountain. I saw a small coffee truck and a park, so I pulled over. I bought a cup of coffee and walked along the trail through the trees. I arrived at another lookout, and I was the only person around!
Next, I drove to MONA, a unique museum. Even though it wasn’t that far away, it was on the other side of town, and Hobart traffic was awful. I pulled in and noticed that the museum was closed on Tuesdays, so that was a bust. Instead, I drove to Woolworth’s to buy some Tim Tams and Vegemite to take back home.
I walked through the grocery store feeling sad. It was my last time shopping there. It sounds strange, but doing things like grocery shopping made me feel like Australia was home. It was home for six months. I had become familiar with the store and the items they sold there. I was trying hard to soak up everything and remember what it felt like to be there.
I drove back to my Airbnb, and a woman stopped by to buy my cooler for $40. I had posted it on Facebook Marketplace. It was great – I bought the cooler from a backpacker; it was excellent quality and kept my food cool for months on the road and camping. I got my money back and knew it was going into good hands.
Next, my friend’s twin sister called me, and we talked for a couple of hours. She had been traveling in France for a few months with her husband and two kids. She wanted to know some details on long-term travel, and it was helpful to share ideas.
For dinner, I drove to the harbor. I found a nice restaurant that had views of the boats and city lights. I ordered a chicken schnitzel and wine from Tasmania (Tassie). Everything was delicious. It felt surreal to be sitting there eating my last dinner in Australia.
The next day, I talked with my dad on the phone because the painter hadn’t shown up at the house to give a quote. While I was sad to leave Australia, I was anxious to get back to the U.S. to deal with the new home I had purchased.
I packed up and loaded my car. I ran into the homeowner as I was leaving the small suite that I stayed in in the backyard. Belinda was in her late 50s and had been running her Airbnb for two years. We talked about guests, work, and how there is a lot more competition for Airbnb now.
I asked Belinda to take my picture so I could remember my last day in Australia. She took me over to a tree that had a small swing hanging. Belinda tried to coach me on taking great pictures and told me I looked like a model. Unfortunately, I am no model. I could never be a model because I don’t know how to pose, and I always feel so awkward when trying to take good pictures. Instead, most of the images looked strange, but I think I got a couple of good ones. It was fun laughing with Belinda, though.
By the time I finished my photoshoot, it was 12:30 pm, much later than I wanted to leave. I drove to the MONA museum and had an hour and a half to explore that massive place. There were vineyards on the grounds, and they had a wine bar there too.
Most of the museum is underground. There were so many unique rooms, structures, and art pieces. There was a waterfall with rocks that spelled out words as it fell. There was a pit full of engine oil. There was a room full of glass-blown art pieces on the ceilings and walls. There were tunnels, and it felt like a giant maze.
I walked outside and walked around some of the grounds. It was warmer outside (in the 70s), and I soaked up the sun. I was used to it being very cold the whole week I was in Tasmania, so the warmth was a pleasant change.
I stopped to get gas just before returning the car at the airport rental. It was always effortless to return vehicles in Australia. Next, I checked in at the Virgin Australia desk and checked two bags for free. They didn’t weigh my carry-on like the airlines did when I was in Asia.
As I waited for my flight to Sydney, I ate my last sausage roll. It reminded me of my first sausage roll when I first arrived in Australia. Tom, the homeowner I housesat for, took me to a place to try one before hiking.
I walked outside on the tarmac to board the plane. I sat in my window seat for the two-hour flight to Sydney. I was going to write for my blog, but I was feeling too many emotions. I needed to be still.
I thought about my time over the last eight months. When I left the U.S. on February 2nd, I had no idea that I would be gone for eight months or that I’d go to Australia. It was now October 2nd, and I spent one month in Thailand, one month in Vietnam, had a 24-hour layover in Singapore, and spent six months driving around Australia.
I put together a map of all of the places I stopped at for the night, and it was wild to see how much ground I covered in Australia. It’s about the size of the continental U.S., but it only has 25 million people compared to 330 million people in the U.S. More people live in California than live in Australia. The vast majority of the land in Australia is uninhabitable due to the desert conditions. Even though I saw so much of the country, there were still areas I would like to see one day.
During my time in Australia, I kept a list of things that could kill me (or seriously injure me) because it was comical how often someone warned me of a creature (or a person) waiting to attack me. I looked at the list and laughed:
- Blue-ringed octopus
- Large red kangaroos
- Wild boars
- Feral cats
- Box jellyfish
- Stinging nettles plant
- Cone snail
- Sea snake
- Serial killers in the outback
I also kept a list on my phone’s notepad about different things in Australia compared to the U.S. When I first arrived, I couldn’t believe how much slang they used! I could usually figure out what they meant based on the context of the rest of the sentence, but sometimes, I had to ask, “What does that mean?” Here are the ones that I wrote down.
- Fries = chips
- Napkins = serviettes
- A hike = bush walk
- Cilantro = coriander
- A car trunk = boot
- Field = paddock
- Gas station = petrol
- Parking lot = car park
- Papaya = paw paw
- Comforter = doona
- McDonald’s = Macca’s
- Sweater = jumper
- Handkerchief = ca-chief
- Cheap wine = plonk
- Flashlights = torches
- The afternoon = Arvo
- Flip Flops = thongs
- Slot machines = pokies
- Happy hour = Mates Rates
- Tires = tyres
- Sunscreen = suncream
- Sunglasses = sunnies
- Avocado = avo
- Vegetables = veg
- Pick-up truck = yute
- Z is pronounced like zed, and h is pronounced like haych
- Freshwater crocodiles are called Freshies, and saltwater crocodiles are Salties
- A liquor store is called a bottle shop (and they have drive-through available)
- Some things are plural like “Maths” while others are singular like “sport.”
- They do say “mate” and “I reckon” a lot
- They call their mothers, mum
- They call men blokes and women sheilas
- They don’t say “shrimp on the barbie,” and they get annoyed knowing it’s a stereotype. They call shrimp prawns.
- They use the term “fortnight.”
In addition to the different words that they use, Australia does many things differently than the U.S. Here are a few that I wrote down.
- You often won’t see a dryer, and they’ll tell you, “A dryer will ruin your clothes.”
- They often don’t have an escalator, but instead, they have a “travelator,” which is like an escalator, but it’s flat and doesn’t have stairs.
- They don’t have coffee creamer or half and half. They just use milk.
- Their bacon is more like fried ham, and if you want American-style bacon, you have to find “streaky bacon,” which isn’t easy to find.
- They don’t really ask what you do for a living.
- Hotels and Airbnb’s have early check-outs (10:00 am) and early check-ins (2:00 pm).
- They think it’s strange that our pumpkin is sweet because they eat pumpkin as a vegetable and never add sugar to it like all of our pumpkin spice desserts.
- My credit card often asked for my signature, which they thought was strange, and they often didn’t have a pen around.
- They had these weird infomercials on news talk shows.
- Most places have all-day breakfast.
- There are usually public toilets around.
- The food and coffee are really delicious and much better quality than the U.S.
- They have this spread called Vegemite. They seem to love it. It looks like car grease and is extremely salty. They put it on toast, make sandwiches, or eat it with crackers and butter.
- Most restaurants won’t split the bill.
- They go north for warmth, not south.
As I sat on the airplane to Sydney, I thought about all of the things that make Australia so special – the people most of all. I met so many friendly and hospitable people, and I’m still in touch with them today. The oceans are clear at the shore, with incredible turquoise shades as you look out to the sea. The bright red dirt and rocks are stunning against the bright blue skies. I watched countless colorful sunsets. I loved all of their unique trees. They have a ton of animals that are only found on that continent. I also like their accent.
When people ask me what my favorite places have been in all my travels, I always tell them that Whistler, Canada, and Western Australia are my two favorites. There is a unique energy and vibe that gives those areas special places in my heart.
I arrived at the Sydney airport a little late and took the shuttle to the International gates. I ate a salmon poke bowl for dinner and washed it down with some wine. I boarded my Hawaiian Airlines flight and sat down in my aisle seat. I was part of a section of four seats in the middle, but I was happy to have an aisle seat. The kids behind me banged on my seat as they tried to watch movies.
I was able to sleep for four hours of the nine-and-a-half-hour overnight flight to Honolulu, but I ended up watching the LEGO movie (part 2) and part of The Hustle when I couldn’t sleep. I had a ten-hour daytime layover in Hawaii, so I planned on exploring before getting on my final flight back to Los Angeles. I just needed to make sure I wouldn’t be so jetlagged and sleep-deprived to enjoy any of it. The next place that I’d step foot would be back on American soil.
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