Australia: Take 2

As usual, it’s been ages since I posted anything on here, but I’ve been pretty busy over the past few months. I do still plan to fill in the gaps in my last year of blogging about travelling round Australia – i.e. finishing off Tasmania, Cairns and Perth – and maybe writing about my time in Singapore and Hong Kong too, but for now I want to make a fresh start and hopefully keep the updates a bit more current.

If I pretend my last blog entry was about the end of my last year of travelling in August, then I can start by saying that a lot’s been going on since then. I’ve had two great months back at home in Scotland, taking the chance to live the life of relative luxury, travelling round Britain to catch up with family and friends after my year out. I did as much travelling in Britain in August and September as I did in the 2 months in Australia before, covering Glasgow, Edinburgh, the Isle of Arran, Manchester, Dublin, Moray, Perthshire and the Scottish Highlands, going as far as Sandwood Bay. It wasn’t all travelling away from home that took up my time though: I tried in vain to catch up with all my friends at home, as well as still trying to fit in some time at home, and all the while I was making new plans that would take me far away from Scotland again.

Having done the obligatory 3 months farm work in Australia on my last year out, it didn’t take me long to find myself cashing in on my eligibility for a second year visa, and before August was finished I was the proud owner of the chance to spend a second year working and travelling in Australia. None of this was really very surprising though: as soon as I’d learned to paraglide in Bright back in February, I was already weighing up the viability of coming back to the South-East Australian high country against trying to get a serious career-based job back in Scotland, or at least Britain, or maybe even Europe. The allure of another Australian summer, as well as the overwhelming envy of everyone who heard I could be going back down under, won over, so within a month of arriving home I’d booked my planes, trains and buses from Oyne, Scotland to Bright, Australia.

I’ve had a lot quiet time to mull over my choice to come back to Australia, and inevitably, in my indecisive manner, let doubts creep in. The nature of the trip probably didn’t help either: 3 flights gave me plenty time to think, and 33 hours travelling between Aberdeen and Melbourne didn’t induce much optimism in me. While I’m talking about flying I’d like to say I was fairly underwhelmed by Singapore Airlines. Many folks told me that they were by far the best airline to fly with, especially for the quality of the food in-flight. Well, the food was no better than any of the BA or Qantas flights I flew on last time I went to Australia and, although the service was good, the staff felt a bit rushed and just weren’t as attentive to us (at least in economy) as I’d seen on flights with the other big carriers.

Arriving in Melbourne initially didn’t give me any reason to be optimistic, as the half-hour queue to get through border security gave way to another half-hour waiting in vain for my luggage to appear. A quick chat at the service desk confirmed that there was no record of my rucksack having been processed at any of the airports it should have passed through en-route to Australia, so my possessions for my first few days in the country were limited to the clothes I was wearing, a camera and laptop. I’m still surprised at my ability to coast through a crappy situation with almost complete indifference to the effect it may have on me: I’d just lost all my clothes and a fair amount of camera gear, but as I stepped out into the mild Melbourne morning it was nice to think I didn’t have to lug a 20 kilo rucksack around as I searched for a hostel.

Only now that I’m sitting on the verandah of the Bright Hikers hostel, looking over a typically docile morning in the town, can I finally say I feel settled, fairly content and happy to be starting another summer in Australia…