Are they called thongs or flip-flops? This is the kind of question I find myself asking as a Scottish person living in Australia; the land of abbreviations, nick-names and slang words. What use is the mouthful of an afternoon when you can have a simple arvo? Why bother with Christmas when you can roll-off Chrissy? What good is gorging on McDonald’s when you can be enjoying Maccas? (Now officially abbreviated across Australian branches). This laid-back lingo is an accurate reflection of your stereotypical “no worries” Aussie outlook, which continues to amaze me time after time. Not only have I found people to be extremely friendly here, whether it’s your local shopkeeper, the person on the other end of the line when you have trouble with your phone (great customer service by the way Telstra), or a complete stranger at the beach, I’ve also noticed the way Australians seem to operate on a totally different time schedule.
Let me tell you one thing: I am not an early riser. Or rather, I wasn’t until a few months ago. My daily routine is a far cry from this time last year at uni, when I was agonising over my dissertation until the early hours of the morning, while drinking from a flask of hot tea to keep warm in the sub-zero temperatures of the Glasgow Uni library. Flash-forward one year and here I am: sunbathing in the garden, reading an Australian book, surrounded by kangaroos (and kangaroo poo – or simply “roo poo”) after returning from a long morning’s work on the vineyard. It’s only 2.30 in the afternoon and I’ve already finished 8 hours of work for the day, having got up at 5.30 am to drive to a vineyard block down the road (I have to complete 88 days of regional work to apply for a second-year visa in Australia – 34 days down so far!)
It suddenly dawned on me, lying here in the blazing sun amongst all that poo, that this right here (not so much the poo but the whole laid-back thing) is what many people would define as the quintessentially “Aussie” lifestyle – and I’ve fallen into it headfirst. I’ve been living “down south” (everyone from Perth refers to the Margaret River area like this) for the past few months with my boyfriend, Phil, at his family’s beautiful holiday house in the bush. As my mum has reminded me several times, I’m not only “living the dream”, but I’m sort of living in a dream as well, because I’ve stepped off the plane and arrived to this perfect little set-up in one of the most gorgeous parts of Australia.
And so – another question arises: is the typical Aussie lifestyle just one big holiday? It certainly feels like it when you finish work mid-afternoon (arvo) and head straight to the beach for a swim in your bikini (bathers), or come home to read your book, or grab a coffee from the local general store. What’s not to love about a life filled with sunshine, books and caffeine? Is it too good to be true? I can almost feel a big bubble starting to form around me, and my mum’s words that tell me this “dream” can’t last forever. Well, of course not, because I can’t live in my boyfriend’s holiday house rent-free much longer. But everything else – like spending most of my days outdoors and using my free time to do the stuff I really want to do – these are things that I can get used to and implement in “real” life.
Luckily, this dream is just beginning, as we are embarking on an estimated 6-month road trip across Australia. Although we are both enjoying our life in Margaret River, it’s always good to leave a party at its best, right?
So, what’s next? Well, Christmas has been and gone, and it was filled with the usual festivities plus a sprinkling of summer, with volleyball and champagne on the beach. A lot of the day was taken up with various preparations for the road-trip, as we were scheduled to leave at 5.30 am on Boxing Day, but it was great to get a bit merry and enjoy one last home-cooked meal before we set off. I also had a little bit of home with me on Christmas day, as my lovely friend Erin has come over for the first leg of our journey to Sydney 🙂 Stay tuned to find out how we cope with 45 hours of driving with the 3 of us squished in the front of the car!
What to Expect
This blog has two purposes: firstly, to share my stories with friends, family, or anyone who is keen to follow our adventures; secondly, to provide me with a coping mechanism for surviving Australian outback life. Again, anyone who knows me will be aware that I am not the outdoorsy type by nature. However, I am more than willing to play the part for the next 6 months – what could possibly go wrong!?
I will also endeavour to update this blog as frequently as possible, with lots of rough and ready outback pictures for you to marvel over. In the meantime, here’s a picture of our smiling, innocent, pre-departure faces with our road-trip ready Troop Carrier: Troy (has to be a strong name for this vehicle!)
Wish us luck!