My dad studied in Italy during the 70’s, a golden decade for the pizza nation, an economic boom, a lot of culture and people with a joy to live. All the stores that he tells about those days sound incredible, and he tells them with a mixture of happiness and melancholy that are enviable, they make you wish you were there and that those are your eyes shining at remembering with such delight.
I wanted to be the one telling my stories one day with the same energy, passion and sentimentalism.
Australia had always been a place that caught my eye. There it is, in the bottom right corner of the map, far away, isolated, but huge, vast, attractive, with its exotic animals, its beaches, deserts and the chilled out lifestyle.
I hopped on a plane and went there. Thirty-five hours later I landed early in the morning, when I left the airport I looked like a zombie, it was cold and I had no idea where to go. But a few hours later I was another person. I had walked around Sydney for a bit, seen the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens, impressed myself with the Opera House, but it was the backpackers I met, with my same ambition, that excited me, the ambition to live something unforgettable.
A year and a half later I think back to that day and even laugh about it, because everything marveled me, I felt like a kid discovering new cool things, but little did I know that what was awaiting for me was going to be two, three, four, a thousand times better, more exciting and fucking crazy.
Being A Backpacker In Australia: A Good Decision?
And so I sit down to think why Australia? Why did I choose it? And why did I stay for so long?
The answer is all the memories and adventures I had. I can’t imagine any other place in the world where such memories can be built.
The long, infinite drives through the deserted roads, where you wouldn’t see other cars for hours, where you had to stop to put petrol in the dodgiest towns in the middle of the enormity. Sleeping in the van that became a house for weeks while you were exploring the beauties of the West Coast. Waking up looking like shit without knowing if you were going to be able to shower that day, but little did it matter to be honest, since you would end up in some spectacular beach with light blue water, but at the same time completely transparent, with the whitest sand to ever dazzle your eyes and the sun burning on your shoulders. If you were lucky you would be able to have a kangaroo sunbathing next to you, and if you were even luckier you would find other people at the beach.
At night sit down to cook under thousands of stars, and know nothing about stars, but all you know is that you were amazed of seeing so many, and so bright, and of seeing these sort of light blue clouds surrounding the stars and not knowing what they were but knowing it was something special.
Drive through the Great Ocean Road and stay paralyzed in front of the 12 Apostles because they’re big, huge, enormous, and colossal. Look at them like petrified, almost without blinking, while hundreds of Asians shot their flashes next to you, and normally that would stress you out, but in front of such magnificence it didn’t matter.
Arrive in Sydney and take the ferry to Manly. There are no words to describe how incredible that trip is. The view always hypnotizes you; it’s like impossible to stop looking at the Opera House with the sun shining on its windows and the sea, with the skyscrapers behind it and the superb Harbour Bridge to one side.
Then going up the East Coast and partying in a different place every night, because everyday new backpackers arrive ready to drink a box of goon and party all night. Some leave the next day, they keep going, but maybe you stay a few more days because you loved the chilled out vibe in Byron Bay, or you want to keep discovering the beaches around Noosa, or you just want to keep partying in Surfers. Then, when you decide to keep going, you hop on the Greyhound bus only to meet by pure luck another backpacker that you met a few weeks ago in Newcastle, or Brisbane, and by chance both, or the three or four of you are going to Airlie Beach and so you end up booking the same hostel, booking the same Whitsundays Tour and now you have a nice group to continue your adventures.
Then you’re running out of money and you decide to stop in some remote town to do some farmwork, and why not do the three months for a second year. You’ve just graduated Uni, or quit your comfortable office job to travel, and suddenly you’re carrying 60 kg banana bunches on your shoulders, under the strongest heat ever, in a sort of jungle with snakes and spiders and a farmer yelling at you to “fucking hurry up!” And all of this happens while you’re eyesight is blurring because you’re tired and you want to quit every five seconds, but you hold up. Then you’re back at the hostel and there’s other forty backpackers in the same conditions and when you seat down with them to have a few and complain about how shitty your day was, everything goes away, and again you get that sensation of calmness and happiness, and you feel part of a new family that is the reason why you won’t quit today or tomorrow. Why quit such an absurd but beautiful life situation?
The mornings waking up hangover in an extremely uncomfortable hostel bed with other nine backpackers in the same deplorable condition, and start laughing at how good, random and stupid the night before had been, and one of them complaining because it was a Tuesday and he had to go to work soon.
Becoming best friend with someone who speaks a different language, from a country you’ve never been to but now you have a reason to. Or having an intense and passionate relationship that eventually must come to an end because both take different paths.
Australia is the country where you find incentives in every corner; there’s happiness, energy and positive emotions in all towns and cities. It doesn’t matter where you end up, if Perth or Darwin, Melbourne or Cairns, you’ll always find other backpackers excited about life, willing to do, experience, live. And so you inject yourself with the same thrills, and in case you start to lose them, you can just move somewhere else and you’ll find them. Australia luckily enables you to easily start from scratch in any city, because there’s work, hostels, backpackers in the same situation as you, Australians are friendly and it’s easy to feel at home.
That’s how you end up a hundred percent convinced you took the right decision of choosing Oz, and instead you end up asking yourself why do I have to leave? Why leave from such an absurd but beautiful life situation?