I’ve been in a reflective mood recently. For fun, I decided back in January that I’d start posting a “Throwback Thursday” image on Instagram every week of my travels back in 2007/2008 in Australia. This mini project has finally given me the kick I need to share the images and stories I took at that time. If you happen to follow my Flickr account you’ll see I’ve been uploading like mad over the past few weeks and months. The intention is to now also run with a flurry of posts here – 2 a month – until I’m up to date.
Each picture tells a story though and viewing them brings back memories and feelings, some of which I had long forgotten. In November it’ll be 10 years since I left England. 10 whole years. A decade. I’m so aware of time slipping through my fingertips … and beginning to feel my age.
When I left the hometown village I didn’t realise that it would never be quite the same again. My friends are now mostly married with children, the people I met on my travels are very much the same. As for me, I’m just stuttering along not knowing quite where I’m going or what to do next.
I guess that’s what has made me so reflective. I genuinely believed that going away would change me for the better, that somehow I would have an epiphany and life would be mapped out and straightforward ever more. How wrong I was.
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Sydney November 2007
After a whirlwind stop in Bangkok we touched down in Sydney airport. We’d heard tales of people being stuck at passport control for hours, but for us immigration was a breeze and we waltzed through. The first few days were spent adjusting to the time difference and acclimatising ourselves in the city. Days consisted of exploration and nights of beer drinking. We had a jet boat tour of Sydney harbour and I took a course in hospitality skills so that I’d be qualified to do bar work there (this didn’t come in helpful , once!). This was an exciting time. I still remember my first sight of Sydney Opera House. I was seeing something with my own eyes I’d previously only dreamed of. For a small time country boy this was some occasion. The first week was over before I knew it.
Fractures were beginning to appear however and I wasn’t feeling as happy in myself as I should have been. I felt increasingly lonely and was struggling to form a bond with the people I’d travelled over with.
We then (still as a group) headed to The Hunter Valley for a wine tasting tour and few days out of the city. I realised at this point that as much as I liked the people I’d flown over with, that I was going to have to find my own way from here on. We were too different and this eventually culminated in a bit of an alcohol fuelled argument with one of the others. Nevertheless, in those few days I met a couple of new people who I got on with brilliantly and who lifted my spirits considerably (Mark and Alice). Though sadly I would only see Alice again once more when back in Sydney, Mark and I remained close and I even got to visit him in Melbourne nearly a year later.
When we returned from The Hunter Valley I knew my future wasn’t in Sydney itself. I needed to get out and find some blue juice therapy. I didn’t go far though. I found what I needed just over the water in Manly. That’s where I will pick up in the next blog post.
People often ask if you’re a Sydney or Melbourne person; I will always pick Sydney, I did love it, but it’s a city of contrast for me. Of excitement and discovery, yet of loneliness and unhappiness entwined.