I never expected to fall in love with you. If you want to know the truth, I never even cared about visiting you. Whilst other backpackers dreamed of your golden beaches and red deserts, I dreamed of pine forests and snow capped mountains. There was always a reason not to visit you; the flights were too long and too expensive, I didn’t have the time, I don’t like spiders (or snakes, or lizards, or jellyfish, or sharks…), it’s too hot and there was always somewhere that seemed to make more sense.
But maybe that’s why I fell in love, despite all logic and reason. I still don’t like spiders or lizards or snakes or jellyfish, those 30 hours of flying home were… gross, and honestly having to wear so much suncream everyday is not my favourite thing. But something about your vast country, your pale sandy beaches and crystal waters, your sprawling, glittering cities and wildout outback… something about it stole my heart.
I’ll never forget the excitement I felt the first time I saw a tree filled with parrots, or even saw a water dragon creeping along the ground, and somehow the shock of seeing my first PROPER Australian spider is now ranked as cool.
There has never been a country I’ve wanted to leave more, with endless tear-filled conversations to my parents about changing flights, but when it came down to it there’s never been a country I wanted to leave less. You were the ultimate trial for me; being 10,000 miles away from home when I became ill, or alone on New Years Eve and every new dorm I entered thinking ‘this will be the one where I see a Huntsman Spider’; I failed to see why so many people rave about the experience of backpacking your vast lands.
You’re undeniably problematic, which I learnt time and time again from speaking to your people about ignorance of climate change and unstable politics, and particularly the lead up to and day of January 26th. And then there’s the unignorable fact that the entire country is a deathtrap. I’ve never been somewhere that there are so many ways to die or be killed by the environment or ecosystem. But this is somehow one of my favourite things about you: your relentless optimism and ‘get on with it’ attitude- who cares about the snakes when there’s incredible surf conditions?!
I still can’t understand why I love you so much aside from the obvious (sunshine, surf, good food, good people) but somehow I do, and it hurts to have left you already. You have somehow in six short weeks become the place I associate with peace, and happiness, and just pure enjoyment of life. But I know now as well as I knew on the bus to the airport that it wasn’t a goodbye, it was a ‘see you soon’.
I’ll be back, whether in 6 months or 6 years (or maybe even 6 weeks). This love affair isn’t over yet.