So as I set up my little laptop in the patio area of Nomads Backpackers in Noosa, Frida flask to one side, multi-coloured “om” bag purchase in a manic frenzy from Brunswick Heads to the other (“$5 guys… $5!!!!”), I could not feel like more of a traveller cliché.
My hair has matted beyond all repair (note: a huge chunk of it literally fell out but two days ago… my reaction was to parade it around like a child who had just won a prize), my ear stretcher has tripled in size in the past week and I’ve forgotten what makeup feels like. My wardrobe consists of whatever is closest to the top of my backpack (“The Beast” that has become smaller and smaller with every stop; the epic bruise in the middle of my bag hinted that perhaps I had packed SLIGHTLY too vivaciously) and my Australian lingo has absolutely catapulted to the point of no return.
And you know what? I absolutely adore it. My inner hippy… well, she’s on cloud nine.
I had intended to continue with my weekly Monday blogging. Truly, I had looked forward to it… a regular log of this undeniably epic adventure.
But (and this might come as a surprise to you), that promise has been kind of hard to keep. Somewhere in between the dismal hostels’ Wi-Fi access and the days just slipping by in a heady mix of sun, exploring and back to back day trips… well, the time has slipped through my fingertips like the sand tip-toeing against the shoreline.
Yet alas, here I am, desperately scrabbling for the few flecks of internet as I wait for my pickup to canoe the Everglades (did I just write that?).
And since one post couldn’t come close to capturing my first fortnight, I have decided the best option is running through the journey location by location in any spare moment I can.
I suppose no one really tells you about the unglamorous side of travelling. You know, the hours and hours spent passing from point A to B in a humid Greyhound bus, the Wi-Fi you paid extra for non-existent and the numbing sensation in your derrière quickly bringing tears of longing to your tired eyes (remember how comfy that sofa back home was?).
It’s part and parcel of the backpacker life, but believe me… it always brings a shiver to your spine whenever you think of the next leg.
My first of these gruesome journeys was from Sydney to SpotX (Woolgoolga) for my Surf Camp. As the coach pulled up to the lay by and I hauled “The Beast” onto my weary frame, I came face to face with the most decrepit van I have ever seen in my life. A sense of foreboding ran through my veins… something that swiftly transformed into “Fuck it, this will be hilarious!”
Needless to say, I was so right.
SpotX reminded me of my year 9 water sports trip to the Ardeche: aka, benches lined with grubby looking people all sporting some sort of camp merchandise, the occasional Godly instructor and school dinner type meals that best belonged in your deepest darkest nightmares.
All in all? Excellent.
The rooms, however, were slightly different. As in, they weren’t rooms. They were storage units placed at the mouth of a beautiful winding river, the lapping waves of the ocean to the left and the gentle trees on the right dipping ever so slightly into the waters’ surface. One step out of our unit, and that was all ours. It was peace personified.
As fate would have it, I was bunked up with two hilarious British girls. Because I’d be lying if I said this hadn’t been the part of travelling alone I was most scared for: the actually “connecting” with people part. Finding the people on your wave length. The ones you will always associate with that part of your adventure.
Two weeks in I can tell you: not a problem. In fact, it’s been one of the most wonderful parts of the trip so far.
10am arrives with an almighty bang and it’s time for our first surf lesson. My opportunity to prove that the Poms can ride those waves just as good as the Aussies. That and to secure my role in Blue Crush 2, of course.
But first, I should introduce the classroom. A secluded, private beach with golden sand as soft as silk stretching into what felt like infinity. The waves, the lightest of blues, tumbling like dominoes. The sky, a dazzling canvas of emeralds.
And that first glimpse of a beautiful, new beach? It’s a sensation I’m not sure I’ll ever tire of.
To sum up my first surf lesson is near enough impossible. I’m the type of person who adores learning something new. Who gets the biggest buzz from exercise endorphins and falls head over heels in love with endless stretches of natural beauty.
Now, combine that all and you’ve got a recipe for a very happy Amber.
I went in thinking I would absolutely not stand up on a wave (I say wave, the first lesson mostly consisted of a medium wave swiftly descending into white wash). Over and over again I told the instructors “I have absolutely NO upper body strength. NONE I tell you!”
Yeah, just call me Kate.
All joking aside (I mean seriously, have you ever seen someone squat so low on a board in your life?), the exhilaration those few hours filled me with is beyond comparison.
In those two days I had three more lessons. Each went pretty much the same way (starting off strong before getting far too over excited, nose diving every wave and then spending the next 15 minutes singing any song that mentions the word “water” “freedom” or “sun” at the top of my lungs #RadioAmber). And each I couldn’t get enough of.
But aside from the surfing, our days virtually never stopped. Whether it was playing golf in a Kangaroo hotspot…
… Or kayaking through the natural splendour around the camp…
… Or just hanging out on the beach…
… There was always something exciting going on. Couple that with Aussie weather at its best, and you’ve got the perfect start to my trip.
But perhaps my greatest achievement of all was not spent in the waves. Nor was it spent outdoors at all.
No, my dear friends. It was spent absolutely wiping the floor at the pub quiz.
Because when the first round is all about animated characters? Hell, you know Amber is going to come up top.
A rather subdued affair soon turned into me standing on the bar stool shrieking “DISTURBIAAAAA” (music round, Rihanna, duh) at the top of my lungs as I held my hands towards the heavens. Sober as a lord, might I add. Round after round we slayed, eventually finishing 100 points ahead of all 16 teams.
And who says I’m competitive?
I’m not sure I could have had a more fitting entrance into my East Coast Adventure. Brilliant company, hilarious memories, epic activities and glorious views… I guess you could say it had it all.
And it damn well set me up for my next stop: the one and only Byron Bay.
Until next time, adventure seekers.