Travel tales

My greatest journey

Map of Australia

What was your greatest journey? I was challenged to answer this by Cathy of Mummy Travels in a new blog meme and it’s a tough question. Greatest can mean so many things – longest, furthest, most fun, most inspiring. And I’ve had a few journeys that could qualify. There’s the great journeys in terms of geography, like a 48-hour train trip across India or two days on the slow boat up the Mekong River from Laos to Thailand. Or the great personal journeys, like travelling around New Zealand for six weeks on my first solo trip or my first experience of the sights, sounds and smells of Asia on a university field trip to Thailand. But for me, my greatest journey had to be a magic combination of eventful, fun, inspiring, emotional and above all memorable, and one trip stuck out in my mind – my travels around Australia.

Uluru in Australia

An Australian icon – Uluru at sunset

My best friend and I arrived into Sydney the week of my 25th birthday, and spent almost a year in Australia on a working holiday visa (mostly travelling, not much working), exploring every corner of the mainland. It was definitely an epic trip in terms of distance as over the 11 months I travelled over 12,500 miles overland by train, car, bus and boat. But it was also epic in so many other ways, from the amazing places I saw, the adventurous experiences I never imagined I’d have, and the friends I made from all over the world. Friends I still have in many cases – I’m meeting up someone this weekend from a hostel I worked at in Brisbane who is over from Australia – even though this was pre-Facebook/Twitter and you actually had to write emails or call people to stay in touch!

Fraser Island in Australia

Driving around Fraser Island with a group of ouzo-swigging Germans

Not being the most outdoorsy or sporty type, I’d never have imagined I’d be climbing up a 50-metre-high tree held on only by willpower and some metal spikes in the trunk, diving on the Gold Coast, or doing a three-day canoeing trip down the Ord River and wild camping under the stars. Australia definitely brought out a new side of me. The colours and scenery of the country really blew me away – the bright white sand of the Whitsundays, the lush greens of the Daintree Rainforest, the turquoise sea of Coral Bay and the red of the rocks in the Olgas. I also owe my love of wine to Australia – tasting trips out to the Barossa Valley and Margaret River were my first visits to wine regions and I still get a kick from buying a bottle from one of the vineyards I visited out there. I did have to face a few fears too, the big one being spiders. After hearing so many horror stories about the creepy crawlies of Australia, they weren’t as bad as I expected (either that or I perfected my selective spider blindness). And the more cute and cuddly native animals made up for it.

Western Australia

Climbing the Gloucester Tree and sand dunes on Cape le Grand

Not everything went entirely to plan though. After celebrating my first night in Sydney I attempted an ambitious jump down some steps to the beach (a bit of wine-related overconfidence) and broke my ankle in two places. Hopping round Manly on crutches for eight weeks did wonders for my arm muscles, if not my bank balance after plans to work had to be abandoned for a while. I did try a few classic backpacker jobs though – the worst would be handing out dry cleaning leaflets and the oddest was working for a prop company, decorating giant shoes with glitter for a casino display. But mostly I took the chance to see and do as much as I could and put off thinking about the overdraft til I got home.

The Pinnacles in Nambung National Park, Australia

The strange rock formations of The Pinnacles in Western Australia

Over the trip I travelled with friends – old and new – my sister, on group tours and on my own. I went from being shy to being confident enough to start chatting to anyone, from a travel novice to a seasoned backpacker who could repack her whole backpack in the three minutes before checkout time. Just under a year after arriving we headed back to the UK, with tans, new friends, fantastic memories, and in my friend’s case a future husband picked up in a Cairns bar! Can’t get much greater than that.

So that was my greatest journey, but what was yours?

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My greatest journey – On the Luce travel blog

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26 Comments

  • Reply
    Arianwen
    May 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    This sounds like the trip of a lifetime! I’m very jealous of anyone whose been to Oz, let alone someone who’s spent a year driving round it! I don’t think I’d have enjoyed climbing that tree without a harness though!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      May 28, 2012 at 10:25 am

      My sister bailed after about 5 metres so I was determined to make it to the top of the tree – I was holding on so tight though and nearly had a heart attack when someone tried to pass me on the way down! It was a fantastic trip though and a great place to visit.

  • Reply
    D.J. - The World of Deej
    May 27, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    What an awesome adventure…can’t believe I haven’t made it to Australia yet… PS…Really like your header!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      May 28, 2012 at 10:35 am

      It was fantastic – hope you get to make it out there sometime soon!

  • Reply
    mummytravels
    May 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Thanks for joining in the meme – love the post and your Aussie trip sounds fantastic. Somewhere that’s definitely on my must-visit list!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      May 28, 2012 at 10:23 am

      Thanks for nominating me, it’s always good to have an excuse to relive past trips!

  • Reply
    Bridget Pigott
    May 27, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    makes me want to go too. Don’t want broken ankle, though.

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      May 28, 2012 at 10:22 am

      It’s a fantastic country – as long as you keep away from those Manly Beach steps!

  • Reply
    restlessjo
    May 27, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    It must’ve been really exciting but a bit scarey too, setting off Luce? I loved your post and wanted to read more. What a life you’ve made for yourself! Long may it continue.

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      May 28, 2012 at 10:21 am

      Thanks Jo, we’d already been in Asia for 5 months by the time we arrived in Australia so I think we’d gotten used to being on the move by then! I have diaries from the whole trip and lots of negatives needing scanning so should do something with them all one day.

  • Reply
    Gerald Englebretsen
    May 28, 2012 at 1:33 am

    That is such an amazing and full recollection of the trip to Oz. I still say it is a pity that you didn’t get down to Tassie whilst you were here … but there is always next time. An enjoyable read as usual.

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      May 28, 2012 at 10:19 am

      Thank you – yes I’ve heard so many great things about Tasmania that I’d love to go back and see it sometime, it’ll be my first stop on my next trip to Australia, and hopefully that’ll be in the next few years.

  • Reply
    Lucy Dodsworth
    May 28, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Thanks for reblogging!

  • Reply
    Rachael
    May 28, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this as it took me back to my own walkabout back in 1989. Happy memories of experiences almost identical to your own!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      May 28, 2012 at 7:52 pm

      Glad to bring back some good memories. I really enjoyed looking through all my old photo albums and reliving some of the adventures!

  • Reply
    Anita Mac
    May 28, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    What an amazing trip! Sounds like you guys did some really cool stuff! I originally went to Australia to backpack, but ended up with a real job and career – lived there for 7 years. Sounds like you experienced more in your one year than I did in 7!! Looks like I have a few cool things to add to my list on the next trip!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      May 28, 2012 at 7:49 pm

      Wow, I’m jealous of you getting to spend seven years in Australia! We did pack in a lot, but I’d still love to go back and see all the things I missed out and revisit a few favourites (and a few more wine regions!).

  • Reply
    maudlin
    May 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    I miss my backpacking travels through Australia so much it physically hurts sometimes!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      May 28, 2012 at 7:50 pm

      I know that feeling! That trip really gave me the travel bug and I have been constantly planning the next trip ever since, but Australia will always have a special place in my heart!

  • Reply
    Lucy Dodsworth
    May 28, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Thanks – and thanks for stopping by my site!

  • Reply
    Shandrea Lawrence
    May 30, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    This sounds amazing!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      May 30, 2012 at 3:46 pm

      Thanks, it was a great trip and an amazing country.

  • Reply
    AtlasAdrift
    March 19, 2014 at 2:25 am

    I am so excited to travel to Australia, your post made me that much more anxious!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      March 19, 2014 at 10:55 pm

      It’s such a fantastic country – hope you have a great time!

  • Reply
    Lorian Bartle
    May 11, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    What a wonderful way to see Australia. So many people don’t make it beyond the East coast.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      May 18, 2018 at 8:23 pm

      Thanks, yes there’s so much to see in the west too, it’s such an underrated area!

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