After spending nearly nine months in Australia, eight of which have been in the same three bedroom, one bathroom share house in Fremantle, Western Australia, I’m beginning to reflect on the contrast between the last two years of my life. Year one was a fantastic and often chaotic attempt to see as much of New Zealand as possible whereas year two has been a stationary exercise in starting a new life.
After a solid year as a nomad carrying all my possessions on my back, a move to Australia seemed like a welcome idea. I would miss the excitement of constantly exploring new places but to be honest, I was exhausted and needed some stability in my presently chaotic life.
It took me a month to find my feet but by the end of May I had moved into my new room and started a new job. I missed travelling but the day I unpacked my backpack and carefully placed my now clean belongings into the wardrobe, I forgot all about the excitement of the road. I was quickly seduced by the security of my new life. For the first time in months I had structure and a routine to follow. I got up every morning at 4:30am for work and came home to the same house every night. I soon found my favourite grocery store, coffee shop and beach and the comfort these places offered was surprising but fantastic. Best of all, the disorientation was long gone and I was no longer waking in the middle of the night unsure of where I was…in an instant smothered by panic…where was the light switch, the toilet…where was I?
I was thrilled. My focus had drastically shifted and I was now set on working, saving money and exploring my new backyard. I couldn’t have been happier to live and work in one of the most visited places in Australia and there was so much to see and do. I was only limited by two factors, the “winter” weather and money. I had arrived in autumn and while the weather was cold, at least the sun was shining. I was also on an incredibly tight budget but I soon discovered ways to spend my days exploring without having to spend much of my hard-earned money. I had spent a large sum travelling New Zealand and charged another large sum on my credit cards in able to keep going so I resorted myself to working and saving as much as possible; my penance, you could say, for the previous year of adventures.
My lazy budgeting had gotten me into some trouble but I was surprised at the incredible satisfaction I gained from setting a budget and sticking to it; my weekly savings wasn’t much but it was something. I had been raised to “pinch my pennies” but doing it for myself felt like a very grown up endeavour. It was a struggle at first but my head was above water and I had financial independence, something I could truly be proud of.
Eight months later, I’m still living in the same house in the same suburb and the thought of leaving my new, comfortable life is daunting. I have family and friends here and I’ve fallen in love with Perth and everything it has to offer. In short, I’ve built a life here. While I’ve always known my time here would be temporary, it’s not going to make it any easier to leave it all behind.
The clock is ticking. In five weeks I’ll pack my backpack with a few carefully chosen items and board a plane to Hobart, Tasmania. The comfort and familiarity I’ve acquired here will disappear and I’ll be plunged back into the unfamiliar. I always have doubts and insecurities before travelling to a new destination but routine, while comfortable, is also boring. Change is always difficult but the confidence I achieve through facing these trials is always well worth the anxiety along the way. Getting yourself from point A to point B doesn’t seem like much of an achievement but in a foreign place, I consider every success to be a personal victory.
So here I am, at home at 143 S Terrace in Fremantle, Western Australia waxing nostalgic about the last year of my life. I needed a period of stability but in all honesty, I can confidently say that I am now more than ready for another adventure.
Tasmania, here I come!