It is a funny feeling to be gutted and stoked about the exact same event. While I am off my rocker excited about getting to Indonesia, I must admit that I am feeling rather low about leaving Australia.
On the one hand it's hard to believe that I have spent the last eight months making Australia my home -- on the other hand I've started saying things like, "she'll be 'right, mate" and other Aussie phrases that help me to fit in quite nicely. Alas it is time to leave this great country, but I must expound on my mixed feelings before doing so.
I have grown to love this country. Although I have only explored the east coast and Northern Territory, I have explored it thoroughly and truly enjoyed it. You might ask me, "what is your favorite part of Australia?" This is a tricky and rather unfair question, but an answer might look something like this: my favorite part about Australia might be the people -- or perhaps a certain few. Many of the Aussies I encountered were quick to go out of their way to help me, give me advice or open their homes to me.
Another favorite part of Australia is the surf and the surf culture. With tens of thousands of miles of coastline, you can bet that there are some world class waves. Hundreds of them. Some of the best are packed with some of the best surfers in the world, but hey, it comes with the territory. Nobody gives you a dirty look when you go on a crowded bus with your surfboard; nobody scowls at boardies and thongs (flip-flops) unless you are trying to get into a fancy bar. Surfing is a part of life in Oz and surfers are generally respected.
Along with thousands of miles of empty beachbreaks, the metropolises of the east coast are pretty awesome as well. I loved making Sydney my home for three months -- I even almost felt like a Sydney-sider once I stopped getting so hopelessly lost. The short time I spent in Melbourne left me with an impression that it is worth a few months exploration. Brisbane is another cool spot and a city I never felt I had enough time in.
And now it is time to say goodbye to Australia, goodbye to the western world, goodbye to massive supermarkets with familiar foods, a mild climate and air conditioning. And I am stoked. I am excited. Adventure awaits! I must admit it was quite nice not to be a spectacle in every port we entered, to understand the cultural norms and speak English (albeit the convoluted Aussie type) with everybody, but enough. Time to push out of the comfort zone once again and take the path less traveled. Saumlaki, Indonesia here we come!
A few stats on Australia:
Favorite place visited: Noosa Heads, QLD
Biggest wave surfed: Manly Beach, Sydney
Miles traveled in Australia: over 5,000
Favorite hostel: Mooloolaba Beach Backpackers
Best snorkeling: Lizard Island, GBR
Best party town: Cairns, QLD
States visited: QLD, NSW, VIC, NT
Best music scene: Melbourne
Best radio station: Triple J
Worst part of Oz: cost of living/beer/everything and leaving
However, there have been a few changes aboard S/V Rutea, the most major one being that we acquired a fourth crew member. My buddy from UCSC Kyle has joined us for a few months as we sail through Indonesia, and I am pretty stoked to have a partner in crime. His presence will also make it a little easier to leave Australia.
The plan is to leave Fannie Bay in a few hours and sail the 36 hours to Saumlaki. It is funny that we sailed for months on end and thousands of miles within Australia, and now a little 300 mile jump will get us to Indo. I am quite stoked on this. The winds and seas look decent, so it should be an easy ride. I seriously can't WAIT to report on crystal clear water, psychedelic fish and insane coral formations. Should be about... 37 hours after we leave.