It’s January 2017, I’m working in a bar in Perth, having settled in with a group of incredible people as a long-term guest at City Perth Backpackers. We’ve had beautiful beach days, camping trips, days out and nights to be remembered (though I’m sure forgotten by some!). I was getting extremely comfortable exactly where I was, which as a traveller started to send warning signs running through me… After all this was still my first location this time in Australia and I knew I couldn’t stay living out this perfect little cruisy existence forever.
So I booked a flight to pastures new… The backpacker haven of Melbourne with the promise of excellent coffee, vibrant street art and a culture to match. I was sad knowing I was leaving some incredible friends behind but was full of excited anticipation of what was to come. Until disaster struck! One rainy day, a group of friends and I decided to visit the local indoor climbing wall. All was going well until I somehow managed to dislocate my shoudler! The pain was unlike anything I had experienced before and after some nausea and stress headed to the nearest hospital. In a stroke of luck I had applied for my Medicare card a mere three days prior to the incident *a note to others, please make sure you apply sooner, the panic is not worth it*. The staff were incredible and once they had supplied me with strong painkillers, reattached my momentarily estranged limb and stuck me in a sling, I was free to go.
Now aside from losing my job, having very real problems with the simplest of tasks (thanks to my hostel family for looking after me) and a rather worried mum back home, I had to face the reality that my flight in 10 days time was never going to happen. I somehow did the seemingly impossible and persuaded Tigerair to let me reschedule my ticket for a time when I would be able to once again carry my life on my back.
Over the next month I saw the true generosity, kindness and selflessness of people I had known a matter of weeks and the concern and well wishes of many near-strangers. Being in a foreign land and so vulnerable is a scary experience and I can honestly say I am beyond grateful to everyone who gave me a place to stay, cooked me meals, and generally brightened my spirts. I’ll never forget it and later in my journey had the very real chance to pay that kindness forward (but that’s a story for another time).
Otherwise missed opportunities also arose due to my extra unplanned time on the West coast including reuniting with a friend who had gone home to Europe for a month, meeting more great people and a pretty exceptional day out. I hopped on a to the Pinnacles desert via a trip to an animal sanctuary where I got up close with koalas, kangaroos, and a little too close for my liking to an emu! It was the perfect way to round off this part of my journey.
On an even one hundred days in WA I managed to fly to Melbourne after some very emotional goodbyes to my CP family and the best uber drive I ever had! Let’s just say loud music, party blowers, and a free trolley for my luggage were involved. I watched the beautiful west coast disappear from sight out of the plane window and the realisation of a new start hit me hard, with a promise to myself to return to Western Australia , the state that stole my heart.
My first few days in Melbourne were spent with a friend I made only two days previously in Perth who was going to be studying there for the next few months. We took in the sights, visited markets, were harrassed by birds and ate our way through the city. The time came for him to move to his new flat and after buying some more homely touches for his place, I decided to move on to another hostel. Now I know everyone says the world is a small place when you’re travelling but I was little prepared for running in to no less than 5 people I had shared a hostel with in Perth in as many days. It was truly amazing to have some great reunions over some beers in a new city, because how else do you celebrate that?! I was also lucky enough to be in the city for the famous ‘White Night’ where one night a year a stunning array of moving video projections are displayed on buildings throughout the city. The colours, images and sheer skill involved and the emotions they invoked upon everyone witnessing the event were truly spectacular. I really did feel like a child at Christmas joining in with the simultaneous oohs and aahs of the large crowds.
Due to the inevitable loss of earnings thanks to my shoulder, I had to get on the job hunt… The timing however was attrocious! Every man and his dog seemed to have descended upon Melbourne and with the influx of university students, I found myself just out of luck every time. So the spontaneous Laura came out and hopped on Gumtree with a mental note to accept the first job I was offered that seemed decent and to let the journey take me where it may. Wow, did that turn out to be one of the best decisions I had made!
I was soon off to Noosa with a voice in the back of my head “everything happens for a reason”…