My trip up north was all in all just 3 weeks: in Byron Bay I got some unwanted backpacker feelings, so I decided to return to beloved Melb even though the weather horrified me to the bone – this coming from a girl from Finland, goddamnit! Surely I can handle +12C in June, no biggie! I got my old job back in a blink of an eye, and it feels so good to be working again, its amazing. Since coming back a week ago, I have been trying to figure out where to live, since let’s face it, I’m homeless.
Ever since the start of my Aussie experience, I never wanted to consider myself as a backpacker. Maybe because of this I have managed to make friends with some amazing more or less local people who have been friendly enough to offer me a place to stay and listen to my crazy stories.
While trying to figure out where to set my home and belongings, I have had the opportunity to relax, sleep properly and hang out without the hostel environment. I have gone to 6 house inspections in the last few days, and there’s no end in sight. In all the hassle and carrying my bag around town I feel grateful for the things I do have: workplace and people there, friends, my warm winter scarf, sunny days. Everything will fall into place in time, even if it meant I stay in Melbourne for good and leave the rest of Australia as holiday destinations. All has been good, and it will be. There is still so much to do and so much to see.
Before even leaving to Oz, I knew I wanted to set my base in either Melbourne or Byron Bay, the Canggu of Australia where high vibes and high fives are aplenty, organic food abundant and surfers and hippies happy together. I made my way to Byron from Brissie (Brisbane), and am now experiencing the similar unbearable lightness of being that I experienced in Bali a bit over half year ago.
Byron Bay is located north from Sydney, 2 hours south from Brisbane and an hour away from Gold Coast, making it the perfect stop for backpackers traveling the east coast. Since the 1980’s the number of visitors has roamed year after year, and I have to admit that I consider myself lucky visiting during the quietest time of year; there’s still plenty of people around.
I have not surfed (yet), and to be honest it is a good question to think what the heck have I been doing with my time. I don’t have a good book to read, I have not got my tan on, and the only touristic thing I’ve done was kayaking with dolphins.
Kayaking in the sea was great itself, but seeing heaps of dolphins playing around made the experience even better. I learned a bit of the history of this region and some mythology of dolphins, and it was good to know we were not disturbing the animals in their home.
Besides dolphins, I’ve enjoyed the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen in a good while. I also saw a pretty damn good sunrise from the easternmost point of Australia.
Besides great scenery and good food (in theory, I mostly make cheap meals at the hostel), Byron has somewhat of a nightlife scene going on. Still need to explore that beyond bonfires at the beach tho.
I lived merrily in melbourne for good 3 months before I got the small itch in the back of my head, telling me to go see what else is there – if only just to realize that I was perfectly well off and happy the way I was living (despite the creeping cold that penetrated to the bones). Well, I’ve been on the road for a week now, first of which was pretty much constant rain in Sydney. Cozy and homey: I spent the week in Bondi beach, crashing on my cousin’s couch. It was weird to be amongst 4 Finns, in a house filled with Finnish crisp bread, candy, even coffee. I didn’t know there is Finnish ‘Temptation Island’, and I kinda wish I still didn’t know about that. Besides the rain, Sydney was nice. I liked the architecture and nature, but wasn’t such a big fan of the dozens and dozens of buses required to move around. I did find a place I wish melbourne had: About Life organic marketplace. That food, nommmmm!
On Tuesday morning-ish we left on the road, towards Port macquairie. After 4 hours in the car we decided to keep on driving to Coffs Harbour to stay overnight. Travel tip: In Australia most roadside eateries are either mcdonalds or Subway, possibly Red Rooster (chicken things), and gas stations selling chips and frozen coca cola. I had my health expo goodie bag to keep me satisfied, thank god. Unfortunately we didn’t really see much of Coffs Harbour besides the shopping center where we had breakfast and bought drinks for the road the next day. In the arvo aka afternoon we stopped in the happy hempy hippie town of Nimbin, which I found a tad creepy. In Australia even regular hemp is not allowed to be digested (they think it’s cannabis!), and the legalization or decriminalization of weed is especially a big thing in Nimbin.
We were around for just a few hours, plenty of time for me to get anxious of all the glassy eyes and smoking paraphernalia and other stuffs. Hippieoverload, I must admit.
After Nimbin we headed to the outskirts of Brisbane, to a place my cousin and her friend had previously stayed. Nice and peaceful, warm and sunny. On the way to Ormiston we randomly met some friends who had left the day after us, in the parking lot of a random mcdonalds. Weird things happen.
Tomorrow morning I am off to Brisbane city, where I am not going to see Alt-J because I didn’t manage to get a ticket (Not bitter). On Saturday I’ll be flying solo again and Greyhound my way to Byron Bay, which has been my destination all along. No return ticket yet, nothing certain about anything. This qypsy life can be a bit rough every now and again, but it’s easier to endure in the sunshine.
So-called health foods are an ever rising term that is used to describe basically anything that is made from somewhat natural ingredients, with perhaps a Certified Organic label, and usually a host of free-from claims such as “dairy free wheat free fructose free” and many others. With the rising trend of gluten free diet, even some milk cartons now tout they don’t contain gluten (if they did, we should be worried). Sometimes it can be rather confusing trying to figure out what is good for you and what not so much, and I suppose it is better to eat an all natural bar rather than a mars bar, even though it contains 3 different sugars in addition to the sugars from the dried fruit it includes.
I’ve frequented countless health food stores since coming to Australia. This weekend I visited the largest natural and organic products trade show in the Southern hemisphere, Naturally Good Expo, to see what’s up in the field in Down Under, and if they’d come up with something new and interesting. What I found out was that Aussies, too, like their coconut water and all things “paleo”. I don’t think a snack bar that is based on dried fruit is what they ate in the paleolithic area, but who am I to judge. If you sell it as paleo, it sells. Talking about snack bars, I encountered a company who uses indigenous Australian wild herbs in their snack bars. Yes, the base is the usual date and almonds, but at least they are trying to make something new. Kudos for that! Another interesting exhibitor was a company making cricket flour, which I think should become a big thing in the next few years. The crickets don’t even taste that bad, to be honest.
I got upgraded as a VIP guest at the expo, so I got to much on some donuts in the lounge while sipping on a gel-like juice with chia seeds (chia still going strong!). Noshu donuts were actually a pleasant clean eat treat: baked, all natural gluten-free and sugar free donuts that are low carb, have 150 kcals each, have a decent texture and also taste pretty delicious. Some might wonder how this equation can possibly equal good taste and texture, but one must not except a Dunkin’ Donuts kind of mouthfeel with these babies. Omnom.
Besides the regular date bars and other treats (Aussies love their granolas!), protein powders were well represented. In addition to the regular whey and “vegan” protein (usually combo of pea and rice), the combo of protein and greens is popular. Naturally Good was definitely an interesting expo to visit, and even though it was way smaller than the trade shows I’ve previously visited, it had some interesting lectures and it was easy to talk to people. One highlight of the show was definitely lazertag game at the networking cocktail event. Best networking activity possible, specially for the wellness industry!
Exactly 6 months ago I was packing my life in boxes, laughing at the Helsinki rain that was almost constant, waiting eagerly to get to Bali. I said countless goodbyes and “see you next year”, thinking I’d quickly visit California and be back home in February. Little did I now, half year later friends are asking me if I am coming back. I am in Sydney, packing my (hand)back to go on a road trip! These past 4 days in Sydney have been as gloomy (weather-wise) as I would’ve expected maybe in Finland, but not in Bondi beach! Life is weird; I definitely would not have expected half of the things I’ve experienced, seen, opportunities and people who have just come up. This definitely happen for a reason, and going with the flow is the best way of making sure you get the most out of things.
Bali: surfing, scooter driving, farm visits, scuba diving, fresh fruits.
Vietnam: People and hassle, cacao, river trip, fresh spring rolls.
Cambodia: Scuba diving, meditation and yoga, poor people and begging children.
Australia: Work, people, culture, conversations, future. Things just keep on coming up, there’s no way I’d go work in a farm for 3 months because there is so much happening right here, right now.
I still have one protein bar in my backpack that I brought with me from Finland. I think I’ll keep it, as a memory of my trip; when I left Helsinki, I think I had like 10 of those bars with me. Let’s see if one makes it back to where it left from.