Backpacking Australia

Fact: It only takes two words to make a backpacker’s eyes light up: “free sample.”

Fact: It only takes two more words to turn that backpacker into a your buddy for life: “free dinner.”

Going backpacking really does make one realize how much it takes to surviveLiving out of a backpack really does make one realize how little you really need. With the obvious exception of my cd, I’ve actually missed very few of my things since I’ve been backpacking. It’s a bit of a worry to think that all I need to survive day to day can be stored on my backin one decent-sized backpack. I was especially shocked to realize that I hadn’t had Burger King for over a week and was no worse for the wear. And with only two pairs of shorts  and limited tops, it’s a good feeling to not have to deliberate over what to wear each day. It quite simplifies the process of getting ready in the morning.

The backpacker’s struggle is this: You have to carry everything. Too many bags, and you won’t get too far. Too heavy a bag, and you’ll end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Therefore, you give yourself a pre determined amount of space and weight, and you adhere to it. It’s like physics – if you buy an article, something else of equal or greater size and weight must be let go. It certainly makes you think twice about unplanned purchases. Personally, I think it’s easier this way – I think I’ll make an experiment of it next time I make a purchase at home. One thing bought, one thing tossed. It would certainly remove the clutter, don’t you think?

Some hazards of the travellers life:

My expensive joggers now look like I’ve worn them every day for ten years. Australia’s Ayers Rock with all the clingy red dust is mainly to blame.

I managed to get so sunburnt scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef , that I had to postpone my Kuranda Skyrail trip

I’ve lost either my shampoo or my conditioner I think a total of a million times by forgetting it in the bathroom long enough for another backpacker to claim it. Doh.

Constant company is good but can be a pain at times. I imagine long term backpackers must fantasize about just one night in a single room.Towels never dry fully. Damp towels = mouldy. Smelly towels + dirty tennis shoes = musty smelling clothes. I have learned quickly that backpacking is not a way to impress people with your high sense of fashion. The true (female) backpacker wears no makeup, hair tied haphazardly into a ponytail-ish bun, unironed clothes…and a huge grin on her face because she’s more thrilled about the free food at her hostel than the shopping center down the street. (She couldn’t fit new stuff into her backpack, anyway.)

And on to the primary joys of the backpacker life:

Flexibility! Halfway through my travels from Adelaide to Cairns, I decided I wanted to experience in Melbourne with some of my new friends. So I did. Simple as that. I love it!

I’ve seen a Swiss and Belgian debate the worlds best of chocolate…and the same Belgian debate the worlds best beer with a German.

While in Cairns, I made new friends every night, even convincing a few of them to join me for dinner & the movies.

While snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, I made friends with a Italian who invited me to visit him in Rome. I think I’ll pass on that one, but it was fun to be asked to meet someone there, all the same. I’ll always be able to say that now.

I’ve met friends in one part of the country, only to meet them again somewhere totally different! Case in point, I met Maike first in my Jillaroo class in Newcastle, again two months later in Cairns, and again several weeks later in Melbourne!I helped a Japanese

All in all, I’d say that I rather enjoyed my experience of at backpacking Australia!

This blog entry is dedicated to my lovely brother in law, John, for giving me the inspiration for my trip.

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