Hello, it’s been a while!
As time has gone by I guess I’ve felt less and less connected to the person who last posted here. That’s not to say I’m not the same travel obsessed, globe trotter. I’m still at it, maybe just at a slower pace. But a lot has changed since my last post. I was starting a new chapter of my life, unexpectedly jumping into the world of solo travel and embarking on a whole new style of adventure. I made the conscious decision to experience as much as I possibly could, embrace every opportunity and make a number of personal changes.
~ Gibson steps, Great Ocean Road, Australia
The combination of the above and focusing on living life to the fullest meant taking some time away from the screen. Sadly this little old blog got a little bit neglected until it became harder and harder to return from the hiatus. When going to write something else always conveniently came up. Classic ‘If I don’t feel like I can do it properly, I just won’t do it at all’. But this is All That Happens, after all and I’ve finally decided it’s time to dust off the cobwebs. I’m beyond grateful for the last couple of years so it would be a shame not to pick it up from where I left and document and acknowledge it all here.
~ Brighton Beach, Melbourne
So where have I been?
When I published my last post, I was pretty lost and questioning everything. A whole 2 years ago now I arrived in Australia and honestly couldn’t wait to leave. Life in Sydney just wasn’t working out and then after a break up, I was ready to give up on Australia completely. However not one to quit so easily, something told me stick it out and give Melbourne a go. And I’m so thankful I did. Fast forward to when my visa was up and it was time to leave what had become one of my favourite cities in the world, I was incredibly sad. (But it’s ok New Zealand I was always coming for you).
~ Sydney, you’re pretty but maybe we weren’t meant to be?
~ There’s a reason Melbourne gets voted world’s most liveable city year after year
Work life down under
Melbourne introduced me to an enjoyable work life-balance I wasn’t sure could exist. Since being on this side of the world the work culture has been a pleasant surprise. Those attractive Aussie wages don’t hurt either 😉 Maybe it was the type of jobs I had, but the 9-5 in the UK played a big part in me wanting to leave. I found myself looking forward to going to both my jobs in Melbourne. I had the loveliest colleagues, was involved in some enjoyable work, and they came with amazing perks. I entered into some industries I never thought I would and for the first time in a while I wasn’t desperately itching to get away.
I’d been travelling fast and on quite a tight budget for 8 months in Asia. Then spent far too long living in Sydney hostels (nearly enough to put me off for life – Australia please up your hostel game!) so when I was finally able to settle in two incredible places in Melbourne, it felt like luxury. I got lucky and quickly found two awesome sublets and got a taste of living in two different suburbs. I spent almost 3 months in Brunswick with an Italian girl and Norwegian guy, then 6 months in Richmond with two Aussies guys, an American and an Aussie girl.
~ Walk from Richmond to the city along the Yarra river and enjoying some tapas in Brunswick
The Great Ocean Road
There were some places I hadn’t got to on my first visit to Australia so I knew they had to be done this time. As soon as I was in Melbourne I took my first solo trip to the Great Ocean Road. I’d just driven Sydney to Melbourne and knew barely anyone in the city so decided to take a group tour. I may have missed the original one due to sleeping in, (don’t update your iPhone overnight if you’re relying on the alarm!), but it was fate because I made some great trip mates and got a free upgrade with a more expensive company.
~ Loch Ard Gorge, The Great Ocean Road
Experiencing the outback
Thinking that this might be last chance to get some red soil experience I took the opportunity to go on a 4 day camping and hiking trip around Uluru – Ayres Rock. It was ‘heaps’ of fun and something I almost, but am really glad I didn’t skip on. And so began my obsession for hiking and nature… honestly no therapy like it.
~ Uluru from the sky and Kata Tjuta
Wine tasting in the Yarra Valley
I love wine, I love the sun, I love food and I love good company. So spending a sunny day in the beautiful Yarra Valley, wine tasting, (not so much) cheese tasting and chocolate overdosing was something I wasn’t going to miss. I was super lucky to have one of my best friends from home also living in Melbourne for a few of the months I was there and she’s also pretty fond of the above so we indulged togther.
The Grampians National Park
The same friend, some work mates and I also got together and took a big girls’ trip to the Grampians – spectacular mountain ranges and forests full of wildlife. We rented a cabin surrounded by bush and kangaroos and spent a long weekend cooking feasts, drinking more Aussie wine and hiking our way though this awesome national park.
~ The Grampians, 3 hours drive out of Melbourne
The Melbourne lifestyle
Melbourne offers such an enjoyable way of life thanks to its food and drink culture, regular festivals and events. It’s a foodie and coffee lover’s paradise, so there’s always a new market, festival, food truck event, restaurant or brunch spot to be checked out. If you ask me what I was up to every weekend it was pretty much trying out a new eatery or cocktails at a rooftop bar. Making the most of meeting new people and pushing myself to say yes to absolutely everything, led me to a group of friends who became my party partners in crime.
~ Annual Sydney Road Festival in Brunswick, Melbourne
~ Weird and wonderful brunches. (Matcha Mylkbar left, Pillar of Salt, right)
I even immersed myself into local culture and discovered footy (AFL / Aussie Rules). When you live 5 mins walk from the MCG stadium and your housemate offers unlimited use of his free season pass, you don’t say no!
~ Winter footy season at the MCG
Visits from friends
I can’t believe how lucky I am to have had not 1 but 4 of my best friends be in the same place at the same time as me during the last year and half of travelling. Coincidentally and quite spontaneously – my kinda people. Two more of my best friends came to visit whilst I was in Melbourne. I excitedly prepared us itineraries so we could spend the weekends playing local tourist and of course eating and drinking everything at all the best spots.
A new chapter
My Australian working holiday visa eventually came to an end I hadn’t done the 3 months farm work required to stay an extra year, because initially I hadn’t felt desperate enough to experience some of the scenarios I’d heard.
I was given not 1 but about 3 send offs by amazing work colleagues, who’d become like my little Melbourne family. A few insisted on taking me to some last places near Melbourne that I hadn’t got round to doing yet, like the Mornington Peninsula and the Dandenong Ranges.
~ Melbourne will always hold a special place in my heart
If you’d asked me back in 2014 when I was planning this full time adventure, if I’d ever go alone, the answer probably would have been no. But sometimes you find yourself on the other side of the world, doing the whole solo thing and releasing it’s one of the most enjoyable, eye opening and rewarding experiences you’ve ever had. If the circumstances had been different I would never have met all the amazing people I have over the last year and a half. Cheese alert – I’ve made countless positive and healthy changes to my travel life and can laugh at what a cliched journey of self discovery I’ve been on.
Moving to New Zealand
Even though I would have happily stayed in Melbourne longer if I could, New Zealand was always calling me. And with a new job, new friends and new adventures in place within 2 weeks of arriving, I knew it was going to be a winner.
~ Wellington, New Zealand
A month or so later, 2 of the besties I mentioned above also moved to New Zealand. We took an epic 2 week road trip together around the North Island. I spent 3 months working in Wellington before jetting back home to the U.K. for a few weeks over Christmas. It had been 2 years away, so it was incredibly nice to head back and catch up with friends and family. My parents then came back out to New Zealand with me for a 2 week holiday around the South Island. But in fear of this post never ending, I’ll leave those details for later!
~ Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand
After exploring New Zealand’s South Island I headed back to Wellington to find more work. It’s now been a whole entire year that I’ve been living here so it’s safe to say things have been going well. I’ve been living and working in Wellington for the longest I’ve stayed anywhere on my travels. Of course in addition to working and saving for more adventures, I’ve been making the most of every long weekend and exploring as much as I can so there’s a lot to cover on this beautiful country. I’ve also got some very exciting travel plans on the horizon as these feet get itchy again.
Maybe I’ll continue to keep things more personal on the blog, maybe I’ll continue to write guide style or perhaps mix it up with a bit of both. We will see, but I do know it feels good to hit publish again.