Even though it’s surely not necessary to state it again, let me be a captain obvious for a second: I. COMPLETELY. DEEPLY. ABSODOODLY. LOVED. AUSTRALIA!
(Voila! It is said again. Block letters. Bold. You can’t miss it)
When you think that until 3 years ago, this country didn’t even make the top ten (do I dare say twenty?) of my traveling bucket list, this relationship could have been doomed from the start. How could Australia not be on my bucket list, you wonder?
First of all, I blamed it on the size of this country. All my wish countries had to somehow fit my (way too short but has to do) 2 to 3-week holiday allowance and Australia clearly didn’t fit this profile, I thought. Second of all, I blamed it on my own ignorance. Why travel (read ‘waste’) 24 hours when there was not much to see, nothing exciting over there, I thought. And last but not least, I blamed the well-known financial fact: I could not afford a trip to Australia, this country was expensive, I thought.
I could not have been more wrong!
Visiting Australia became important to me when I met beautiful Aussie souls who made me want to swing by their corner of the Earth. I started to do some (not to say “a lot”) research, discovering fantastic places, day dreaming about this new project and well, the rest is history. During this Australian adventure, I realized that Australia did not have to be very expensive (thanks to camping and cooking our own meals), there are heaps of things to do (hiking, road trips, city trips, watching cricket games…) and the 24-hours + journey is more than worth it. With its landscapes, fantastic hikes, wild animals (though some of them are not wild enough!) and friendy people, not only Australia stole my heart but also made me long for more!
You however might be wondering why there was no mention at all of Arboriginals in my 6 posts on my Australian adventure… There is unfortunately no easy way to say this but my encounters with some Aboriginals in Cairns and Darwin were not very positive. I witnessed drunk fights and aggressive behaviors. It was unpleasant and as it was (is) a sensitive topic, I did not want to talk about it at first. This was of course silly. Problems need to be addressed. Where there is a problem, there is a solution, I am aware that it might take time, it will not happen tomorrow, nor the day after tomorrow but some communities have already started working on their present and future, not letting their (sad and painful) past define who they are but letting their past give them the strength they need to remember who they are.
My time in Australia was limited and since our plan to meet natives in Kakadu National Park was cancelled (many roads were closed due to the wet season), I did not get the chance to meet any Arboriginal communities. This was definitely my biggest regret in Oz (damn you, tight schedule!) but I know that I will be back one day and take time to meet natives is on my to-do-list! Thankfully, my friend Greg Snell, with his brilliant documentary serie Travel Global Think Local, allowed me to virtually meet the Bama community and to comprehend with the first episode (to a certain extent) the problems the Arboriginals are facing and how they work on overcoming them. I am grateful for people like Greg Snell to locally care and globally share with the rest of the world. Check him out! He is making a difference, will you?
Australia, I’ll be back!