I was bitten by the travel bug at an early age, my first ever holiday without my parents was at the tender age of ten when I went on my first trip with the Southend Girls’ Choir to Devon. From then on, every Summer for 10 years, I went travelling with the choir and during that time I’ve been lucky enough to lounge around in LA, meet Mickey in Florida, stroke a pink dolphin in Singapore, sing at the Statue of Liberty and all over Europe but one trip stands out to me as a truly unforgettable experience; a 2 week tour of Australia in July 2008, when I was 18.
|Photo taken by me. Pure skill.|
|Photo not taken by me. But I am in there. Somewhere.|
The sad thing about this is that I have relatively little documentation of my trip now as all my photos were uploaded to Myspace as was ‘the thing’ at the time and I have since broken my old laptop and forgotten my login details for said account so all my photos are gone along with it. Technology can be a cruel, cruel mistress. But, thankfully, memories don’t fade and hopefully words can paint a picture as vivid as any photograph.
The tour started in Sydney where we were lucky enough to be able to do a recital in the Sydney Opera House which was followed by a tour of the building. Having seen the sights of Sydney we moved on up to Brisbane where highlights included holding a koala and feeding a Kangaroo but my truly unforgettable moment happened on the final stage of our tour in Cairns, Queensland AKA the home of the Great Barrier Reef.
Moments after we hopped off the plane at Cairns Airport, my friend Catherine and I were introduced to our host family and their daughter, Alli. We were promptly told, to our horror, that we’d be staying in ‘a shack’ in the rainforest. Our first conversation with our host went a little like this, “Will there be spiders?”, “Yes.” “Will there be snakes?”, “Yes.” at which point we both looked at each other with tears in our eyes. Now when I say shack, I mean shack. It was made from corrugated iron and wood slats, had no running water or electricity and relatively few walls. Luckily I still have a picture of it so you don’t have to try and imagine it:
|Walls? Pah! Who needs 'em?|
Now I felt physically sick for some time due to the pure terror of letting my imagination run wild. I’ll be the first to admit that I am quite a pathetic person. I’m not one to camp at festivals… I’m not one to camp full stop. When I walk into a room in my house I check it for spiders before I commit to entering said room. True story. I’m also easily scared by horror films and, to me, a shack in the middle the outback was the perfect scenario for a front page-worthy murder:“Brit teens slaughtered in Australian Outback”.
The reality couldn’t have been more different, from the moment we arrived at the shack our host family went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable and I had one of the most magical evenings of my life. It was the first time I’d seen the stars. And I mean REALLY seen the stars. It’s a massive cliché to say they were like diamonds but it’s true, millions and millions of dazzling lights in a sky so clear that you could see satellites orbiting the earth. I’m not easily awestruck but I’ll never forget that view, it’s not something I’ve seen since but it’s something I’ll yearn to see again every day of my life.
|You don't see that every day.|
If there’s one thing that I’ve learnt about travelling over the years is that it’s as much about who you’re with as it is what you do. The things that truly stand out to me the most about Australia isn’t swimming with rainbow fish in the Great Barrier Reef, holding a Koala or even singing in the Sydney Opera House. It’s being tucked up in bed, in a shack with one of my best friends, just talking and laughing all night about how we were such townies and were both terrified to use the toilet in case a poisonous spider bit our behinds.
If I were to win the travel supermarket competition I have to say I’d put it towards going back to Australia with one of my besties, Emily AKA The Cosy Traveller. I’d also take a detour to New Zealand purely to experience the unparalleled beauty of the country (and visit hobbiton…) but this time I might invest in a hotel over a shack!
To end this post here's a selection of the very few photos I do have from this trip:
|At Sydney Harbour|
|Some of the greatest people I've ever met.|