This week we welcome yet another friend to our blog. We first met the lovely Liz Violin fresh off a flight from Australia in January 2009. Being friendly Canadians, and hearing that Liz had just moved here from Down Under, we asked how she was enjoying our winters, only to discover that Liz was a Northern Ontario gal… with an Aussie heart…
What should I pack in my carry-on luggage? That was the first thing that came to mind when I was planning my most recent trip to Australia. My husband was travelling over on business and I was flying out to meet him…by myself…without children. In the end I decided to carry a good book, my journal, my ipod, a toothbrush and of course my passport.
Please don’t get me wrong. I love my children dearly, all five of them, but a chance to travel on my own to the land I love, to rendezvous with my hubby, never comes along. This would be my sixth trip Downunder and I was very excited. Sometimes just travelling alone is like a vacation in itself. I was looking forward to all that ‘me’ time on the airplane where the only questions I pictured myself answering were “Anything to drink ma’am” or “Will it be the chicken or beef”?
Travelling to Australia can be an exhausting experience because it’s so very far away, but the minute you arrive, the long trip seems all worth it. Flying into Sydney is such a treat. If the sun is shining and you can peek out the airplane window you’ll be treated to views like you’ve never seen. The sky is the most beautiful blue and so is the ocean! The harbour looks magnificent dotted with all kinds of watercraft and the famous Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House are almost too much to take in for your average land-locked Canadian.
The first time I set eyes on that scene I was only 23 years old and I was travelling with my best friend. We had been planning that trip since highschool and as soon as we could save enough money after graduating from university we set off. We travelled for five months and we broke the trip up in both directions making stops in San Francisco, Hawaii and Fiji on the way over and then in Tahiti on the way home. While we were there we even did a side trip to New Zealand for a couple of weeks. It was a trip of a life time and we’re still talking about it twenty-six years later! I don’t remember putting too much thought into packing my carry-on for that trip, but I do remember I made sure to sew a Canadian flag on it and on my backpack!
Fast forward several years and another wonderful opportunity to travel to Australia arose, but this time it was for our family. My husband was offered a temporary work transfer to a city just south of Sydney and right on the ocean. We packed up the house and the kids and moved there to a beach-house for three fantastic years. My carry-on luggage was bursting at the seams on that trip! It was jammed with diapers and wipes and treats and crayons and toys and everything imaginable to keep five children amused and happy during a thirty hour trip! What an adventure.
Australia is very family friendly so it is a great place to be with kids. The lifestyle is extremely laid back and very casual. They are a bit sport obsessed too, so if you do crave action there’s always a game to play somewhere. As a family we spent a lot of time outside at the beach, on picnics, out bushwalking, and just exploring the countryside. We’re so lucky to be able to say we took our kids to the outback to trek around Uluru (Ayers Rock) and up to the Great Barrier Reef to do some snorkeling. We even took them downhill skiing at the Snowy Mountains one July (I never did get quite used to having the seasons switched around). The physical beauty of Australia is enough to take your breath away!
On the most recent trip to Oz last month my husband and I were able to revisit some of our old haunts and catch up with a lot of good friends. There are so many fabulous restaurants to try and the food is so fresh. The wine is equally fantastic. We did a nice trip west of Sydney up into the Blue Mountains to do some bushwalking. We visited Echo Point and the famous Three Sisters rock formation which is part of the great sandstone cliffs which surround the very beautiful Jamison Valley. Bushwalking along those cliffs is simply amazing.
I know I’ve just returned from the land I love, but I’m already planning my next trip. I really think I’m a Canadian girl with an Australian soul so I just can’t help myself it seems. My best friend and I are both having a special birthday this year (it rhymes with nifty) so we’re making plans to revisit all the special places we toured those many years ago. What will be pack this time? I can guarantee you we won’t be carrying a youth hostel map!
Photos by Liz Violin
To learn more about Liz visit our Guest Chicks page.