I have now been back in Australia for three weeks since my visit home. It’s much warmer than when I left, but I don’t even mind. I acclimatized much quicker than I thought I would have. My brother and cousin, who came to Australia with me this time, are having a much more difficult time dealing with the heat. Within a week of being here they had already experienced days as hot as thirty-eight degrees. It was a bit of a shock to the system, coming from the eighteen degree days we were having in Canada!
My visit home was lovely, it was great to see everyone again- once my flights FINALLY landed. It was a bit of a hassle getting home. My flight from Brisbane was turned around after forty minutes as someone was too ill to fly. We departed Brisbane for the second time more than two hours past out planned departure.
Unfortunately, because of this delay, I missed my connecting flight from Auckland to San Francisco. Many other travellers had also missed connecting flights to different locations so it was a bit of a wild show upon arrival in Auckland. The Air New Zealand agents worked hard to find other flights and spare seats to check the different travellers into. Some people were more distraught than others. One poor girl missed her fathers funeral because on her missed connection. I was not too stressed over the situation, however I was hoping I wouldn’t have to spend a night at the Auckland Airport.
Luckily, I was placed on a flight to Los Angeles departing shortly after I received my new boarding pass. I headed down and caught my flight. Once on board, I could not complain at all that I had missed my flight so San Francisco, as I had been places in a seat by the emergency exit. I may not be very tall, but I still loved the extra leg room! I couldn’t stretch my legs enough on that flight.
I had a couple hours to kill after arriving in L.A., so I messaged a former hostel mate from Sydney. I knew he was currently in the city, but it’s a huge city so I didn’t expect to see him. It turned out Andy was living just a short way off from the airport! he drove straight down to see me, leaving the house in such a rush he even forgot his wallet! I didn’t have long to chat before heading to catch my flight, but it certainly was great to see him again. A Canadian and an Irishman, who lives in Australia together, reunited in America. That’s the cool thing about travelling.
After our lovely visit I rushed back through security, hoping I wouldn’t be late for my flight. It ended up being delayed, so I could have drawn out our catch-up. I guess the airlines just didn’t want to take my home just yet. I believe the weather was working with them too, to keep me away.
I finally boarded my flight to Vancouver, an hour late. It was only supposed to be a short flight, but due to a lightening storm over Vancouver, we were unable to land. We circled Vancouver for close to an hour. I continuously watched the little screen telling me my distance from home; 14kms, 9kms, 4kms, 11kms, 21kms, 17kms, 8kms, 12kms… Around and around we went.
The storm eventually cleared enough for the plane to land, but we then had to sit on the runway for another half hour or so, waiting for the ground crew to be approved to head out on the tarmac. After much delay, we pulled into the gate.
It was a relief to have finally made it to home. Too bad I still had to go through customs.
I had filled out my customs form as a Canadian citizen and taken it to the customs officer. He then bombed me with question after question about my travels and my return to the country. I was then made to change my details on the customs form to that of a visitor. Apparently Canada doesn’t want me as a citizen any more.
After having my customs form returned I then proceed to the inspection area to have the contents of my bag checked. I was bringing Kangaroo, Alligator, and Emu jerky back into Canada and it just had to be looked over. Thankfully, it was fine to bring in with me, my family all tried it. The Alligator was the best, the emu made me sad as it reminded me of my poor baby emu, Edward, that didn’t survive, and well the kangaroo, was just fun to say you were eating.
I got the final okay and headed off down the hallway to the arrivals area where my parents were there to surprise me. It was after one in the morning and I was exhausted. I stayed at the airport a few minutes to chat with one of my good friends who had come to the airport to meet me as well. It was a nice way to come home, to people I love.
I had a good nights rest at the hotel before catching the ferry to the island. The fist thing I did in the morning was have my parents pull up at Tim Hortons, a Canadian favourite. They even had a “Welcome Home” sticker in the window (I like to believe it was meant for me). For breakfast I had a bagel B.E.L.T. on an everything bagel, a hot chocolate, and a dozen donuts.
My fist day back was a little overwhelming. Especially driving back on the right side of the road. I went around town, visiting friends at their various jobs, surprising them. A lot had changed in the town while I had been gone, but I was more bothered by how much the same so many things were. It was hard to believe that I had left for two years, seen so many amazing things, gone on so many wild adventures, and really learned more than I had in my thirteen years of school, yet the town really was not that different. It almost felt as though I had stepped through a time warp, I had been out living life and the rest of the world had just stopped while I had been gone.
My fist day at the mall with a friend was a lot to handle. We had planned to grab lunch from the food court but there were so many people, so much noise, and so many decisions I was on the verge of a meltdown. There were more people in the food court than at largest event I had attended in the previous six months!
I spent my days visiting friends, spending time with family, and relaxing. It was a strange feeling to be able to sprawl out across the couch and not have to worry about finding a job, going to work, being the hostel couch hog, or being too comfortable in someone else’s home. It was my home, and I could relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. It was only then that I realized how full on and non-stop the past two years have been.
I didn’t relax the whole time though. I took my open water dive course, spent my twentieth birthday diving with my family, attempted paddle boarding my best friend, went mini putting with another close friend, had a large barbecue for a chance to catch up with friends, went to a Zac Brown Band concert, and of course, had the infamous Canadian birthday shot (I was in N.Z. for my nineteenth birthday, so we were making up for that).
When my three weeks were up, it was time to catch another long flight back to Australia. I was sad to say goodbye to everyone again, but I was excited to get back to my adventures, this time, with family in tow. My cousin, Ethan, and younger brother, Jared, joined me this time.
We flew into Brisbane without a problem, where we caught the train into the city. Our hostel was just across the road from the train station. I had stayed at the same hostel before I had flown home, so I knew it was a great location. Sadly, Ina, a German backpacker who I had lived with in Sydney was no longer at the hostel. Luckily, I had gotten to see her the first time I had stayed there.
The three of us Canadians spent a couple days wandering Brisbane before catching a flight to Gladstone, where we would pick up and pay for our new car. My boss at the cattle station had arranged the whole thing, as it was her brother who was selling us the vehicle. It is an old Toyota Sahara Landcruiser, a top notch four wheel drive vehicle. The car just passed a road inspection and we put a brand new registration on it. We are all happy with our purchase!
When the final paper work was settles, and the final fixes on the wagon complete, we packed up and headed back to Clermont. It was drawing close to the Twin Hills rodeo and races weekend, and I didn’t want to miss it!
It was a great few days spent in the bush, camped up with a lot of friends. I introduced Jared and Ethan to everyone I knew then disappeared to co catch up with people I hadn’t seen in a bit. I didn’t end up watching many of the actual events as I was so busy socializing, but I still had a wonderful time! The boys, who found the whole situations a little wild, enjoyed themselves too.
We spent a day in the Gemfields where we fossicked for sapphires. The three of us each came out with a nice little bag of gems. I had been there with Darcy in August and we had a wonderful time. When I had gone with Darcy we had taken the tour through the mine at Miner’s Heritage. It was a neat little tour, but the two boys decided not to do it, so we just sifted through dirt in search of gems.
Before we left Darcy’s house, where we had been staying, he took us out to look for pigs. He had seen one while working earlier that day, so we just went for a look to see what we could find. It took us two tries.
Unfortunately Darcy’s ute broke down as we were heading up hill in a paddock. We tried to get the vehicle going again, but had no luck. It was just a short three kilometre walk back to pick up the other ute.
The sun was just setting when the dogs perked up. We pulled up to see if they would jump and have a look. That’s when Jared spotted a small mob of pigs in the distance. We all jumped up and went running, the dogs taking the lead. Pigs are a bit of a nuisance in the area, and hunting them is legal, so it’s a good way to get your adrenalin pumping. We all raced up over a hill, then down the other side. The dogs had caught a pig by that time and we were all stumbling down the hill to catch up to time. Darcy got there first and grabbed the pig. He knew I had been out a few times but had never stuck a pig, and it was something I wanted to have a go at. he handed me the knife and I jumped right into it. She was only a small sow, but I was still proud of my first pig.
We all had a bit of a workout with the sprint. Our hearts were all racing and the sun had set by the time we made it back to the ute. With that, we headed home for dinner. Just another adventure for the books.
Jared, Ethan, and I, are now back out on the cattle property. My bosses offered us a few days work, painting a building that had just been redone as accommodation. We have been painting for three days now and have a day and a half left. I think I ended up with more paint on myself than the walls though. That’s what I call coordination!
The day after tomorrow we will head back into Clermont for the night. Jared and Ethan will head north to Cairns on Sunday, and I will head south to Emerald. My trip home cost me a little more than I had hoped, so I need to work again. I found a neat job though, working as a drover.
If you have seen the movie “Australia”, you may know what I am talking about here. No, I didn’t misspell “driver”. A drover is someone who drives a herd, in this case, of cattle. Because it has been so dry this year, many farmers are struggling to keep cattle alive as there is not much for water or grass. There is a stock route where cattle can be walked along the side of the road in hopes of fresher feed.
We will be walking the cattle around 10 kilometres a day, letting them eat as they go. the plan is to start out on four wheelers, and possibly switching to horseback if the country becomes to rough. Droving has not been common in Australia for years now, but because of the lack of rain, more and more people are resorting to this. I am looking forward to this work, a new day, a new adventure!