Heading West and Meeting A New Friend Called R&R
The alarm went off at 4:20 a.m. and we dragged ourselves out of bed. Not speaking, we pulled on our clothes, zipped up our bags and took one last look around the room to make sure we did not forget anything.
At 4:40 a.m. we walked out the hotel doors and headed to the airport bus. We had a long travel day ahead of us – a four hour flight from Melbourne to Perth in Western Australia, followed by a three and a half hour drive to Margaret River, our final destination.
We didn’t make our Australia itinerary very easy or typical. We spent four weeks traveling between Melbourne and Adelaide, picking off wineries, taking day hikes, spending quality time with new friends and hanging out with locals on school holiday at campgrounds. People we met said most tourists do that trip in just a week or less as they try to hit all the Australian highlights on a two-week tour. After having spent weeks on the road in Australia, the sheer thought of attempting that type of vacation is mind-numbing.
As we boarded the plane for Western Australia, I was again reminded that we were bucking the Australia travel trend.
When Australia was added to our overall trip itinerary, both Dave and I separately came up with the idea to go to Western Australia. Something about the state was calling to us – it could have been the taste of home being situated on the West Coast with better weather and a booming microbrewery and wine industry – or it could have been the allure to do something different than what everyone else does when traveling here. Folks back home and ones we have met here have asked when we are going to Australia’s East Coast like most good Australian travelers (Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Sydney). When we tell them we aren’t going, we get mixed reactions. Most Aussies, when they learn we are going to Western Australia instead, raise their eyebrows and immediately say, “you will love it there.” They then go on to tell us about the one time they were there, what they did, how beautiful it was and how fantastic our trip will be. You can see the desire in their eyes to go back.
We don’t try to be different to be difficult or miss out on amazing places. I know Sydney would be a fantastic city to visit and we would find lots to love about Queensland. But, our trip, like any other trip, is full of choices. Our decision when we set out six months ago was to travel slowly. It means we don’t see everything in every country we go to. What it does mean is that we get to (a) see things a little differently by spending more time in places, (b) keep a little bit of our sanity as we avoid packing our bags and changing locations every other day and (c) peak our interest in a country and make plans to return for more.
We arrived in Margaret River almost 12 hours after we rolled out of bed in Melbourne. We briefly stopped in town for a few groceries and continued 10 minutes further west until we reached the beach town of Prevelly. As we wound around the curves, the huge waves of the turquoise Indian Ocean said hello and I felt my entire body relax. We were about to become the happy inhabitants of a beachside studio in this surfer town for two weeks.
Two days into our new digs and the woman at the local library already knows me by name, we have found our morning walking route along the beach and a small daily routine has developed that can really only come when you are in one place for a while. We plan to explore the area, but mostly focus on resting, writing our New Zealand e-book and beginning our fall plans for Europe.
This half year away has taught me that I don’t have to see it all. In fact, I don’t want to. In my former life, I had weekends to rest and regroup from the work week. While on the road, every day is either a weekday or a weekend depending on how you look at it. Time to rest is usually a second thought when there is so much to see in new environments. I am grateful for the foresight we had to build in this time to rest and recover. Sitting at our kitchen table, staring outside at the palms trees and the reflection of the sunrise in the clouds, I know this is where we were meant to be.