2017 is going to be the year. I believe this with more conviction now as an email arrives saying my Working Holiday Visa for Spain has been issued – the last step in my road to Barcelona!
Australian days ended sooner than expected as two disillusioned travellers decided to search for opportunities further abroad. In doing so they made sure that they spent the last moments in Australia in the best possible way.
We packed up our things, said goodbye to Adelaide, and hit the road again. We were ready for our last VanLife journey with Rocky. Destination: Melbourne. Road to lead us there: The Great Ocean Road.
We spent the next week visiting picturesque scenes. Starting the the Blue Lake. We were quietly gazing down into the marvel of the turquoise lake below surrounded by volcanic cliff, when we were interrupted by someone asking to take a photo. I thought they wanted us to take the photo for them – but no, they just wanted us to move so they could stand where we were for their photo.
We realised now we were back on the tourist road, we had made a detour for the last 5 months but were back on track amongst everyone else wanting to see the best of Australia.
Our highlights of the week were definitely moments spent in the ocean. Each day we swam at a new location, crystal clear water, with a refreshing chill to keep us alert. Our first swim was at Lake Ferry, as the rain began to pitter patter and the children continued to play we decided it was perfect conditions for a swim. As the water fell from the sky and opened up in front of us, we dove in with extreme excitement and happiness.
We are free, free as we’ll ever be!
The following days were filled with walks to waterfalls, photos taken of dramatic coastal cliffs, and looking for last chance to capture Australian wildlife. Each night we returned to the van for a feast, a wine and to plan our next step.
In Lorne, a small costal town with great coffee and a calm beach, we found a free camping spot in the bush only 10 minute drive from the town centre. It was filled to the brim with cars, vans, tents and happy campers. We parked in the driveway and enjoyed an early night surrounded by tall gum trees and wildlife.
Here we went in search of some waves. We found some. Mismatched but constant breaks onto the shore created the perfect conditions for us as beginners. We used all our reserves to continue moving out past the waves, riding the white wash in and laughing at our lack of competence. You need to start somewhere!
We moved on the Torquay, the surf capital and the birthplace of Rip Curl. On the way we decided to stop into a chocolate factory which signs gave us enough warning to consider, slow down, and take short road to chocolate heaven. Mountains of chocolate bits welcomed us and glass windows opened up to hard workers, preparing chocolate bunnies and delights. The creativity in marketing the chocolate was a real journey through the history and different ways to consume chocolate.
We managed to drag ourselves away from the sweet land we had entered and got back on the road. Torquay was crowded with people as a beautiful summers day attracted people from near and far, and surfers filled the waters. We ate delicious wood-fired pizza, and drank beer while overlooking the kite surfers fly through the air.
Now the moment had arrived to sell our van, Rocky, and return to a life with everything we owned fits in a backpack. After a few stressful days, a bit of money spent and some fingers crossed, we found a good home for our dear Rocky. An Australian who wanted it for work during the week, and for trips with his partner in the weekend.
All of a sudden everything happened at once, and we were preparing for our final days in Melbourne. A perfect ending filled with brilliant food, coffee, markets – and a chance to say goodbye. With the happiness of future plans and a new life in Europe came an inevitable separation. A Kiwi to her home land to sort visas, and a Gaucho to start his new job.
Travel is about experience. It is about the people you meet. It is about the way you are treated, even when you are living in a van on the crumbs of society. We saw some nice places and meet some nice people, but we did not find our place in this land down under.
At the end of the day life is too short, there are too many opportunities and experiences to be had. Therefore, we said farewell to Australia.
We faced a few challenges there, but the times of struggle always led me to the same conclusion: move out of your comfort zone. It is not easy, sometimes it is terrifying – but sometimes your life can lead you to places that you couldn’t make possible without taking that step, or leap, outside of the norm. Outside of the daily drive.
Every moment, good or bad, in our Aussie days lead to this moment. A life awaiting us on the other side of the world. Where a Gaucho will spend his days in a job he wants, and a Kiwi will spend her days in a job she wants. The time had come for A Kiwi and A Gaucho to take on Barcelona. And the travel adventures will continue!