Spring is here and with it comes my departure out of Aus for colder climates. Much colder in fact with Japan apparently going to be as low as -30 when it hits the depths of winter. First though I have the British Autumn to face, with just the two thin jumpers I have remaining in my over-packed bag, even with the reassurance that the temperature is still a warm 18 degrees in the UK, I feel a Primark trip will be necessary for a cheap jacket.

The end of the snow was a lot of fun. T-shirt wearing work days and riding days continued into the spring slushy riding, and nights out drinking seemed to become more prevalent as every person departing had a leaving thing on. The highlight had to be our staff party, held at some slightly fancy hotel and on a day that I wasn’t working so day, so day drinking, (with a few skis run in-between to justify it), commenced before borrowing a someone else’s clothes in an attempt to meet the ‘formal Prom’ dress code. I suffered from the standard ‘knowing woman as tall as you so when they put on heels you look like a dwarf issue’, but enjoyed enough free wine to not be able to tell you what food was served and forget about any height differences. Safe to say I was slumped on a friends couch the following day receiving very little sympathy– although they did cook me a fry up!

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When the snow started properly melting and the resort started emptying there was a bit of a sad vibe to Perisher. Without the people and the snow it lost a bit of its soul when we set off I felt the time was right, especially as the next part of the adventure was road trip time!

Road Trip Baby

This has been my first time properly road tripping, having previously relied on public transport around various countries, I now just relied on other people letting me squish in their car and maybe occasionally help out with the driving. Having our own vehicles was great, allowing us to set off when we want and explore off of the beaten track.

Our convoy started off small just Sam and I leaving from Perisher to go meet up with Granny down in Wollongong to chill there for a night before heading up through Sydney to pick up Laura and go spend a week relaxing at Laura’s lake house on Lake Macquarie. It was here that we met up with the rest of the Willow people to take our fine old party up to 11.

From the lake house we slowly made our way up to Brisbane with many a stop in between. We stopped off in Port Macquarie followed by meeting up with Sara for a bit of lazer tag followed by a forest campsite overlooking Coffs Harbour. The group then split on various occasions as people had different priorities, some wanting to be in bigger towns/cities and others wanting to delve more into the national parks. I was definitely for the National Parks and the highlights involved camping in Yuraygir National Park atop wave battered cliffs and staying up in the Border Ranges National park in a deserted campsite with just us, the forest and a fire late into the night.

The final car I ended up was self-titled the ‘Adventure Car’ – with the use of satnav discouraged, random dirt tracks explored and death wobbles occurring fairly often – especially if the luggage hadn’t been crammed in properly to try and balance out the broken suspension. The 75km down dirt national park roads certainly put it to the test but as far as I’m aware the cars still running smoothly.Starred Photos

Brisbane

The end of the road trip for me was Brisbane, I didn’t want to go much further as I had to fly back down Sydney and I had a few people I wanted to catch up with in the city once my home.

We the adventure crew we set off around Brisbane, shooting down to the Gold Coast for some trippy lights, sounds, mirrors and laser maze thing, Kayaked through mangroves and (apparently) shark infested waters – mentioned kindly to us by a local fisherman as we were all swimming back to shore after jumping off a bridge; and a drive down to the picturesque Mount Tamborine to see their annual scarecrow competition.

From here I was dropped off to catch up with a couple of my favourite Brisbanities to be completely spoilt for a weekend of boat partying, wakeboarding, VIP clubbing, fine dining, copious Gin and an exploration of Springbrook national park. It was fantastic to catch up with people I didn’t think I’d see in a fair old while and I think the pictures can sum it up a lot better than I can write.

Following my long weekend was the final day with adventure car where we had booked a no expenses spared blowout trip to Moreton Island, 35km off Brisbane, to do all sorts of exciting activities. Low and behold this was also the first day in QLD that it decided to be overcast and rainy, although we did get the odd splash of sunshine. I haven’t got any pics from the day as we took the waterproof cameras, but despite the weather we managed to get out on quad bikes, nearly die in a tiny tin boat at sea, snorkel the wrecks off the coast – something extremely cool once I’d got past the terror of the strong current trying to push me the wrong way – and finally get up on some paddleboards. We made the most of the day and straight after I jumped on my freely upgraded Quantas flight (from Jetstar – free wine!) and flew down to Sydney.

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Sydney

My final stopover in Sydney meant final goodbyes to one of the remaining Brits, Kirstie, whilst staying at her lovely new flat. We checked out the noodle markets that have popped up in Hyde Park –  although only just managed to get food as we got distracted by the Tanqueray tent and didn’t realise everything shut at 10.. The coastal sculpture walk opened on my final day, so we wandered along from Coogee past Bronte and Tamara finishing up at Bondi. The sculptures were ok, apparently more impressive last year, but the weather was glorious, the ocean baths carved into the cliff-faces, (even if a bit chilly compared to QLD ocean two days prior), and the pop up cafe at the end serving great coffee.

On my last morning we walked down to the very fancy Double Bay area of Sydney, where one wouldn’t step outside the house unless they’ve got on a new designer outfit and going for coffee means deciding whether you’re driving the Range or the Porsche. We headed down to check out Kirstie’s favourite brunch spot – which serves fantastic giant portions of the standard Sydney-side brunch affair  – and considering it was rammed on a Friday mid-morning was evidently pretty popular with the locals.

I’ve spent my final weekend out here hanging out with my family in Newcastle – mountain bike riding, watching Jack play cricket, lazing by the pool in their new house, going down to the bike festival and trying out a bit of bike polo and trying to sort out all my moving admin. Still haven’t quite figured out how I’m fitting everything into my bag, which I should do fairly soon as my train down to the airport is in three hours..
Australia is seeing me off with another typically hot day and the forecast for mid 30s for the next week will definitely be something that I’m thinking of as I shiver my way into London. I’m sad to leave and be so far away from all the great people that I have met these past ten months, but as everyone is still young and moving around I’m sure they’ll pop up somewhere in the world (come visit me in Japan!)

England I’ll see you on Wednesday morning.

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