I can vividly recall the moment my plane landed on Australian soil. I’d been gone for seven months, studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland and backpacking for two months after I’d submitted my last exam paper. I looked out across the familiar city skyline and felt the perfect “wintery” sun warm my body (I know, right?), and all that I could hear was a deflated voice utter inside my head, “Great I’m home.”
Australia’s the worst – amIright? (Please note the heavy sarcasm)
It’s not as if I don’t love my home city. In fact, I adore it. I love the fact that it’s sunny 360 days of the year. I love that you can go out for a night and always bump into someone you know. And although I won’t be living in my home town for the next few years, I know deep within myself that it’s definitely going to be somewhere I return to one day.
It’s not as if Australia is rubbish either. In fact, I can honestly say that it’s the most beautiful country that I’ve ever seen (because I’m totally not biased). I actually made a pact with myself at 17 that I would take a conscious effort to travel within my own vast country, after sitting in a German woman’s living room and hearing her talk about places within my own country that I’d never laid eyes on. If a woman living in the heart of Europe had laid in a sleeping bag in the heart of the Australian Outback listening to the sounds of native wildlife, why shouldn’t I experience the most incredible parts of my own country too?
Somewhere in the Australian Outback: where skies burn
I think the reason for my deflation was the return to the ordinary. Within a week I had gotten myself two jobs, started my honours thesis, and signed up for two university courses. There was the feeling of constantly having to rush somewhere, the guilt of always having one more thing I needed to do. I knew what my day would entail before I even got out of bed… which is why I worked as hard as I did. I wanted to travel again. I wanted to wake up every morning not knowing what I was going to see, what I was going to eat, who I was going to meet. I desired places that would shock me out of my daydreams and reveal to me things that would itch my fingers to take photos.
Which is why, in the depths of my thesis, less than six months after I’d stepped off that plane, I booked a trip to the subcontinent, to countries that I knew would be different to anything I’d ever experienced. Mountains, monkeys, and masala chai – those are the things that occupied my thoughts and kept me going throughout the last semester of my undergraduate degree. And although several things happened before I left that made it harder to leave than usual (more on that later), as John Muir once put it, “The mountains are calling, and I must go.”
The mountain I stared at for two months whilst camping in the rainforest for my thesis: potentially the reason I decided to try Everest Base Camp? I’ll never know.
The way I see it is, I love having a base and a home, but there’s also nothing wrong with going for a wander from time to time.