When we first got granted our Canadian Working Holiday visas and realised that it meant we would be leaving Australia after just 19 months (rather than the full 24), we were more excited than sad.
That being said, we’ve been in Canada for 2 months now and I can’t get Australia out of my head. I didn’t think I liked it as much as I did.
It leaves me with one question: was it the place I liked so much, or the lifestyle?
Australia gave us so many things. Warm temperatures, long stretches of beaches, some sunburn and a healthy routine. We would spend much of our free time outdoors – walking on the beach, swimming in the sea (or pool), hiking up a mountain or camping under the stars. I took the weather as normal. The temperature rarely got below 20 degrees – we felt cold at anything less! The odd day of rain would come and we would be bewildered.
Now we’re in Vancouver and it rains all the time. We have literally had our first day of sun after about two weeks of solid rain. Perhaps we started our Canadian adventure off at the wrong time of year. Perhaps we had unrealistic expectations about the beauty of the cold temperatures and the snow on the mountain tops in the distance. What I do know is that I am finding it harder to adjust than I imagined. This might be a problem with me adapting to the North American culture and trying to fit into a place deemed ‘No-Fun-City’ – more musings to follow on this at a later date.
Leo and I spent most of our time in Byron Bay, working and living on a Holiday park. We rented a ‘permanent’ cabin for two blocks of six months spread out over our Australian adventure. There was constant wildlife. A water dragon by the lake; a hoard of baby ducks passing our window, or the weird Ibis birds who scavenge on everything. There was the occasional python wrapped up in a tree, or a tawny frogmouth sleeping on a branch.
We had busy work schedules but in our free time, we would take a stroll to the beach. Byron Bay is known for its string of beaches. Sometimes I would take a book and read, feeling the sand between my toes. Other times I would take a quick dip in the sea and walk into town watching the surfers practise their moves on the waves. From late September onwards, we would see dolphins and whales just off the shore – so close that you could almost swim out to them. One day there was a couple of dolphins only a few metres out, and it was frantic. Tourists started jumping in the sea (appearing suddenly) trying to swim to them. It was like a fight over the last piece of cake.
When we weren’t in Byron Bay, we were camping – a tent and a car were our home. It was such a simple, sometimes stressful, task. There was something quite special about this period of our trip. Just driving, picking a place for the night, choosing the hike for the next day… It was exhilarating. I will never forget waking up on a cliffside strip of sand or Leo’s attempt at pegging in the tent when the ground was so hard it might as well have been made of rocks.
The most exciting part was that we were always forced to do things.
We would always be away from our laptops, our phones had little coverage for the most part and we rarely went to retail shops to pass the time. There was always something to see. Somewhere outside we had to be. We learnt to dive. We would quite happily take a 5-6 hour hike. We would swim in natural pools or under waterfalls. We would lay awake at night to the sound of dingoes in the National Parks. It was always about the natural environment. We learnt to deal with all the weather conditions and figured out what to do when problems arose.
What Australia offered us was a different perspective. In both sections of our Australia journey (the travelling and the working) one thing was always the same. We never ever wanted to stay inside. We always were searching for the next beach or waterfall or park. And there was always something new waiting to be discovered.
I think that is what I am missing. Perhaps it is not being in Canada that is the issue. The problem lies in the lack of accessibility to my natural surroundings. This is, perhaps, the consequence of living in a city in North America.
In Australia, whether you live in a city or a rural town, there is always a beach nearby. Or if you’re further inland – a waterfall. The weather is brilliant nearly all year round. These two factors make you live healthily day-to-day. You want to be outside, you choose to go for a run or a swim, you eat fresh fruit etc.