Sunset in the Mary River Park, Kakadu Region, NT.
I was having a great conversation with my friend Emma about how it is typical of human nature to tend to define things, people, thoughts and ideologies, to comprehend and understand them. The never ending process of giving them shapes and boundaries, a name tag and a circumscribed territory. Once you have a set of categories, it is easier to feel where you belong, where your identity lies. You are part of this or that group, you have this kind of philosophy, you’re that kind of person. It can be an useful and easy approach, but also potentially harmful for the complexity and bittersweet impossibility of finding a complete definition, even if you are able to recognise it fully and clearly.
How to define identity? Is perceiving ourselves in harmony with the environment we are living in enough to consider ourselves belonging to it? Maybe not, but I think that sometimes it is enough to feel at home, and that’s really what is an ultimate need of any human being. From an expatriate’s point of view, divided between different worlds, what has mattered the most is finding my niche – possibly flexing but with never denying my nature. Scary perspective, when it comes to start from zero during that period of your life in which your grey areas are starting to become colourful.
After having been away for a year, it is funny to look back and realise how that went really quickly, how astonishing it is even if expected. I remember when I left from Venice, with watery eyes and so many hopes, excited about not knowing what would have happened. Being all tough at first, in front of everybody, just to admit to myself how difficult it was being once I sat down and fastened my seatbelt. I got on that flight being only confident that I would have been happy, no matter what. And, if anything, I got that one right.
I landed in Sydney and for the first weeks I could not keep my eyes off it. So beautiful, interesting, smart, refreshing, fearfully vast and unknown. I had never lived in a city so big and full of people, and if at first I was afraid to get lost in it, I soon found losing track of where I was one of the most exciting things to do. As when you meet someone for the first time, I explored its personality, together with my first very good friends with who I had some of the best and meaningful experiences of my life. They had an incredibly positive influence on me, and made my first months unique, easy and so much fun. I am missing them all a lot. Sydney often took us by surprise: it slapped us, it robbed us, and made us happy to have someone to count on. But I am so, so glad it did. I am so grateful to that city down under, where magic really can happen.
I have walked, driven, flown over more kilometres than ever, ran down hill and up hill, learned that ‘no worries’ is possibly one of the best ways to approach life. Knowing it more and more, Australia did start to change me. In my brain and in my eyes, after having experienced the harshness of a cyclone, counted sea turtles from the summit of Long Island with one of the best girls I have ever met, lifted my heart up with the laughter at the beer pongs of Australia Day, burned my bare feet with the boiling hot soil of the Northern Territory I felt like the walk had just started, I felt like Australia was finally looking at me directly, not saying anything, just taking me by the hand and guiding me. Even if I was always only passing by this continent, I managed to find myself happy here. I can say I did fall in love with it, and that leaving it did break my heart. I’ve learned a lot, I saw things that changed my point of view, and that I’ll never forget.
Faces, names and landscapes are buzzing in my mind, words that I won’t use again until the day I’ll be back. All I can write about now is thank you, thanks for creating that niche where I really felt like I belonged. Where I never had to deny my nature, never had to hide it, where I could define myself and understand that within the diversities we’re one.
Thanks to make it easier for me to call Sydney my home, and Australia my environment. I feel blessed as this doesn’t happen all the time, and for the lifestyle I’ve chosen this feeling is often not obvious and automatically granted.
I know I’ll meet you guys again.
I know I’ll come back home, eventually, maybe with different eyes but, I swear, with the same heart.
Farewell, Aussie family. I’ll see you soon.
After about a month and a half of Animal Physiology and Cell Biology at USYD, and parties with old friends and new Med School students the favourite entertainment of which was going to the Pub and then straight to DingDongDang (asian-style karaoke, best place), mid-semester came. The destination chosen for this time around was Tasmania, small heart-shaped island South of the Australian mainland. Early in the morning Mike, Isaac (two housemates of mine) and I left the house to get a Jetstar flight down to Hobart. Highlight of the flight, a singing man who we promptly videoed and laughed about for the entire trip. Upon landing, we collected our lilac rental car and set off for Salamanca Markets, Hobart. Lovely markets, nice weather, had nice brekkie and really relaxed morning. In the afternoon, we drove the Tasman Peninsula and hiked until the Tassellated pavement, Pirate bay and the Waterfall Bluff (which was actually a bluff, as the waterfall was like 2 metres high and quite lame), enjoying a stunning view. Darkness welcomed us back in Hobart, where even though it was Saturday night, actually nobody was around. Apart from our hostel, which was actually really nice, Hobart was a cemetery where we struggled to find even something open to have some food. Fortunately, an (obviously) Asian place was still open to satisfy our empty stomachs.
In the morning our fourth friend as expected missed his flight, which wasn’t too bad as it gave us the opportunity to visit the MONA, museum of old and modern art just outside Hobart. It is a very interesting gallery, and both the building and the artworks inside were astonishing. Once Filippo joined the crew, bought some ‘dog wine’ we headed to the Mt Field National Park, where we climbed the RussellFalls and walked the Tall Trees trek.
At night, a very long but hilarious drive took us all the way to Bicheno, where a party of mainly Italian people there to pick grapes took a bit of the stress off our shoulders. We had almost run out of petrol in the middle of nowhere, with no reception around us and lots and lots of potentially suicidal possums crossing the road every 5 minutes. The following day the hike in the Frecynet National Park took most of the day, which ended with the death of Isaac’s phone dropped in the sea while we were (in the end, successfully) looking for penguins. On our last day a wombat, an incredible view from CradleMountain and finally a crazy woman charging us $20 for a coffee (and awesome scones) at a tea room near Launceston concluded our Tassie tour. The Tasmanian apples, weird people, suicidal animals and incredible views definitely made this little island a destination that I’m super happy to have visited. The nature is amazing, and it is such a quiet, refreshing place with an interesting story that would have been a real shame to have missed. After having handed the car back, a beer and a quick flight took us all the way back home in Glebe, Sydney.
Days went by, with assignments on cane toads, sea anemone toxins, the physics of eggshell pores, locust metabolism and so on. Something I really enjoyed preparing, even if in a bit of a rushed way (ehm, in like a night?), was my presentation on whale hearing and vocalising. Very interesting topic that got me really into whales, and even more excited that I would have been before when I finally saw my first humpbacks in Sydney harbour. They are so majestic!
In the meanwhile, thanks to my friend Nicola I got a job at a café. It is called Old Street, on Abercrombie St. The owners were lovely, they’d feed me all the time really nice food and coffee and made me love the job. Because of this new job I managed to put some money on the side, and since soon after my summer plans started getting shaped – oh my god if I needed to save some! The Philippines, Hawai’i and Vancouver were put down the list, making sure that my departure from Australia would have been a bit easier and less dramatic.
As time was getting me closer and closer to the day of departure, I had to make sure that I’d have done all the things that I wanted to do before leaving Sydney. The Absinthe bar, the oldest pub in Sydney (the Hero of Waterloo), check out the ChineseGardens, and finally saying good bye to all the amazing people I met in Australia, and who made my exchange an awesome experience. But the closure of my exchange deserves a post on its own.
Our destination was Agnes Waters, little surfers town with a really nice vibe. The Byron Bay of Queensland. As soon as we hit Rockhampton the news were not the ones we would have expected: fly out today, or you’ll be stuck here for a week. Apparently, the water that covered the mainland after the cyclone was rushing to the coast, which would have been flooded in the following few days. The river in Rockhampton was already several metres higher than normal (of the bus stops next to the banks you could only see the roofs), and it was going to soon overflow the city. So, after a night camping by the coast in Yeppoon, we caught the next Virgin flight to Brisbane. Seeing all the land flooded was very, very impressive. Arrived in Brisbane I started texting my mum, as accommodation in the Queensland capital was not only extremely expensive but also hard to find due to the situation, as everybody had been rushed there in the days following the cyclone. She remembered that one of her patients was born in Australia, and *lucky us!* her mum was still living in the city. Nonna Dina hosted us for almost a week, and she was the loveliest Italian granny you’d meet. She was feeding us, driving us around, taking us to the casino with her friends (and thanks to her VIP card we could eat and drink for free there too!). Best-deal-ever.
After a few days of being stuck in Brissie, Margherita flew back to Sydney to flat hunt for both of us, whereas I flew to Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory, to enjoy the last bit of my summer adventures. Margherita was really lucky to find a place straight away, brilliant timing.
As soon as I landed in Darwin I got knocked down by the incredible heat. As soon as I landed I checked in the Youth Shack, a hostel in Mitchell St – one of the only two ‘big roads’ in Darwin. On the second day of my stay I went on a two day trip to Kakadu national park: incredible. So vast and much greener than I thought it would have been, the wet season made it so alive. Once back in Darwin I chilled with the guys of the hostel: the best short-term family I have ever had. Great people, party animals who for different reasons stranded in Darwin and are on their way to somewhere else. Great fun, I miss them all and the laughter that we had together in the little time I spent there. I really miss the vibe. Good luck guys, with everything you’re up to now, and thanks for making Darwin such a fantastic memory!
After some days my Tropical Wildlife course started. The University staff came and picked other students and me up and drove us to Mary River Park. A week of collecting, IDing and studying the ecology of tropical snakes, frogs, skinks, dragons, crocodiles (we didn’t collect these guys though), gekos and mammals living in that area of the Northern Territory. The course was so much fun, we got to play with the animals a lot and capture especially heaps of cane toads – the Pest of Australia. These toads are huge and poisonous, and since they are not natives many local species feed on them and die because not adapted to tolerate their venom. Much research is being carried out to understand more deeply their impact on Australian biodiversity. A funny fact about them: they always look very pissed of. Easy species to recognise. On the last day we travelled up to Lichtfield National Park, and after a day spent again submerged by nature, a last night spent at the airport concluded my Australian travelling summer.
Once back home I moved straight into my new house, in Glebe. Glebe is a very nice suburb near Blackwattle bay and about half an hour walk away from Sydney CBD. It is very artsy, hipsterish and cool, with many cafes, pubs and parks, and the live music from the market has been waking me up every Saturday morning ever since I moved here. It is a lovely suburb to live in, and the house has a perfect location, as it takes 10 minutes to walk to Uni.
After an intense week of classes 9 to 5 and an exam at the end of it, my Tropical Wildlife course came to an end. Which was beautiful, since because of this I only had to take 2 more courses throughout this second semester at Sydney Uni. Job hunting started, classes began and the ‘normal every day life’ kicked in with lots of energy.
On Magnetic Island we had the perfect day. Great sun, Margherita and Hannah went to a hands-on zoo where they hugged koalas and echidnas, Jonas and I went hiking, snorkelling and long boarding around the bays. That night, we camped on the beach. Bonfire, stared at a stunning sunset and woken up by the birds at dawn.
Sticky, dirty and full of sand, we caught the first ferry in the morning to go get our stuff left at the hostel in Townsville. With the memories of great survival skills in a breathtaking night, we hopped on a bus to Airlie Beach.
A friend from New Zealand, Alex, lives there with 4 other friends. Being extremely nice to us, they hosted us on their sofas for what originally had to be only a couple of days – but turned out to be about a week. For the last few days we had heard rumours about a cyclone coming. When travelling though, it is difficult to keep track of everything you hear, especially about the weather – in a few words, we didn’t really pay attention to these news. On the second day of our arrival in Airlie Beach Margherita, Jonas and I decided to go and hike Long Island, one of the Whitsundays islands. Hannah went scuba diving, since she hadn’t done it in Cairns, and then left a couple of days later back to New South Wales.
The three of us got a ferry early in the morning, arrived on Long Island and started hiking it from side to side. The view was just incredible. We could spot tens of turtles in the water, climb trees walking in the middle of the forest, enjoying the wilderness and the view of all the other islands around us covered in vegetation. Of the 74 tropical islands belonging to the archipelago, 66 are inhabited, and the wildlife is lively. In the afternoon we crashed at the resort on one of the bays, where we blended in pretending to be residents and played tennis and enjoyed free Jacuzzi and chips. Later in the evening, we started the final hike to Sandy Bay, where we were planning on camping and sleeping – we could not imagine what was waiting for us. After about 3km we reached the bay, just in time for it to start turning dark: the tide was coming up and clouds were gathering in the sky, making us feel very unsafe about the whole area. The bay was just down a hill: it would have gotten completely underwater if a storm would have hit the place. A quick an easy decision made us turn our backs to SandyBay and start walking back to an abandoned, very sketchy resort that we had walked through on our way there, hoping for shelter. Not even two minutes later, hell happened: in pitch black, in the middle of the forest, cyclone Oswald made its entry. The rain was so thick we were drenched in a few seconds, the only torchlight we had was my phone, which drowned in not even 5 minutes. Literally, our guides were the fireflies. Luckily enough, the storm didn’t last for a very long time, giving us a bit of hope to be able to get out of the forest, its mud and its carpet of cane toads. Walking slowly and trying to orientate, step by step we tried to remember the direction of the path. Thanks to the moonlight that was seeping through the branches of the tall trees, we managed somehow to get back to that ghost resort which meant (at least temporary) safety. We tried to camp outside by a gazebo in front of the sea, but the wind was blowing so strongly that the tent would just not stay up and protect us from the cold.
We didn’t last very long. At about 3am we were all so cold and uncomfortable (we were trying to sleep on a wooden surface, Margherita wearing a plastic bag and me covered only by a small jumper – see photo) that we decided to break into the reception area of the resort and crash on the sofas. We were a bit concerned about what would have happened if the owner had shown up in the morning, but even though he did show up he laughed about our whole adventure together with us, chatted and even offered us a job there. We kindly declined the offer and left, making sure we hid carefully the skins of the bananas we had stolen from the kitchen as cheeky breakfast.
We caught the ferry back at about 10am the following morning, and as soon as my face touched the pillow of the sofas at Alex’s I magically fell asleep finally comfortably. What an experience.
For a few days it rained all the time, so we chilled at home. Margherita and I planned to stay in Airlie until Australia Day, the 26th of January, travel to Whitehaven Beach on the following day and then leave to Agnes Waters. Jonas left us the day before Australia Day and kept on travelling southwards, ‘direction nowhere’.
Australia Day was really good fun, in all Australian tradition we started beerpong-ing at 9 in the morning, played cricked (with a guitar hero guitar as bat) and had a barbecue. Pool party in the afternoon and evening, which ended with another storm that we enjoyed as relief from the hot day. The boat trip to Whitehaven was very bumpy but great fun, too. Whitehaven is incredibly stunning: rated the 3rd most beautiful beach in the world, white and pure, the sand of which was used by NASA to build the Hubble Telescope. There, we could go snorkelling, saw a lemon shark and a few rays, too.
Thanks to gumtree.com we met Daniel, very friendly Israeli guy who was going in the same direction and offered us a ride down to Agnes Waters and Town of 1770. So, the night after our boat escape back to the Whitsundays, we hopped in his car and drove away from Airlie Beach.
Babinda is the rainiest town in Australia, but luckily on us it rained only a bit during the night. We got dropped literally on the side of the road at about 8 in the morning, and the only place open was a small Information Centre. A very friendly Canadian lady redirected us to a free-camping spot where we pitched our tent and got ready to go. The reason why Babinda is worth visiting is its vicinity to the Boulders. These are massive (HUGE!) rocks that nobody really knows how they got in the middle of this really cool creek, nice and refreshing to swim in and habitat of some platypi. 15 people, 14 of which were guys, died swimming at Babinda Boulders, in a spot called Devil’s pool. A very interesting aboriginal legend tells how the water started to flow because of the desperation of a beautiful married girl, Oolana, who fell in love with a young man of a different tribe. Realising the adulterous crime they were committing, the young lovers escaped their tribes and fled into the valleys. The elders captured them, but Oolana broke free from her captors and threw herself into the still waters of what is now known as Babinda Boulders. Since she threw herself in the water, she has been looking for her lover to dive in, too. The aboriginal legend says her spirit still guards the boulders and that her calls for her lost lover can still be heard. That’s apparently why only guys (maybe that one girl was quite manly..?) tend to die here: she’s taking them hoping they are her lost lover.
This location is about 6km away from the town, way that we luckily did not get to walk because of successful hitch-hiking. The hunt for the platypus went terribly – only heaps of ‘mossies’ (Australian for mosquitoes) – but the boulders were magical, as well as the people we met. A nice aboriginal lady told us Oolana’s story, a very friendly family that offered to give us a ride, and a German free-spirit who was hitch-hiking Queensland as well. After we went back to the free camping spot we had some dinner all together, Margherita, Hannah, Jonas and I. When the night came, Jonas and I approached some aboriginal people hanging out at the camping: they were having some beers, dancing and having fun, so we decided to join them. This night was one of the few experiences that really made me feel Australia. The people I met were extremely friendly, genuine, they opened to me as I did with them, we danced together their moves to our European/American music. They called me sister ‘Cloudy-Day’ (mis-pronouncing my name), and taught me how to dance as a cassowary (very large flightless bird, native of Papua New Guinea). Such an interesting night, revealing and unforgettable.
In the morning we caught the bus to Mission Beach, me rushing to not miss it after having been saying good bye to all the people I met the night before, still there on the same spot (photo below). Mission Beach is a famous very famous spot for skydiving. But, if you don’t skydive and it’s stingers season.. not so much fun. We hitched a ride to Woolworths, that’s about it 😛
Next destination: Townsville and Magnetic Island!
I am now writing from the Japanese restaurant I am currently working at. One hour break between two shifts, munching on awesome vegetarian Udon soup. I am now a master of the chopsticks and of EFTPOS payments. All thanks to my friend Emma, the manager, who took me from the streets of the unemployed, unskilled people and allowed the transformation into the hyperactive waitress that I am today.
Getting back to the story. Vida, Kerstin, Margherita, my sister Marta and I landed in Melbourne on the 4th of January. Due to a bit of shenanigans happened during Melbourne-part-1 (story already told, and of which some bits unfortunately can’t be made this public :P), we changed hostel last minute ending up in St. Kilda, the beachside of Melbourne. It was incredibly hot, but the cold, free red bull that was given to us on the way kept us going. Four beach days made of free rides, free breakfasts (turned into free lunches as well, very Italian and/or exchange student style), visits to the Art Gallery and Rooftop Bar were spent in a lovely atmosphere. I love Melbourne! So familiar, European, artsy, with a character of its own. I think I prefer it to Sydney, but maybe it’s just because I don’t live there 🙂
After this city break my sister, Kerstin and Vida left for good. Incredible people for unforgettable times (Coogee bikini fails, karaoke exploits, etc.), love you guys! After we waved goodbye I chilled a bit at the park under the Shrine of Remembrance, monument for the heroes of the war, thinking about where to go sleep. The airport was option number one, the streets option number two. Luckily Margherita’s sister, Isabella, offered me a place to stay for the night at the very last minute. That spared me a very sore back and likely lack of sleep, and sheltered my rest the night before the big trip. Margherita and I were indeed about to leave for Queensland – trip that was going to last for about a month, and Isabella was going to join for a few days. 7kg backpack, flip flops and heaps of coffee in the body, I took with them two an early morning flight that connected Melbourne to Cairns. The tropical Queensland capital. Mm about 4 roads wide?
Cairns is so tiny! Hot, humid, prohibited swimming because of the jellyfish. What a nice place, eh? I make it sound too bad. It was actually great. Our hostel was really nice, and the most spectacular thing was the amazing amount of flying foxes that filled up the sky just after the sunset. It was such a magnificent sight!! The sky would literally go black, and since these bats don’t echolocate they are so loud! Ah, in Cairns we also got to purchase a tent from a girl who was leaving, paying it $10, and one camping mattress that me and Margherita were going to share just to save a bit of cash.
The day following our landing we joined a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef. Protected from the box and the irukandji by a stingers-suit I went about 18m under water and enjoyed the breathtaking colours of the fish living on the Reef. I was so gutted, as soon as I left to go back to the boat my diving partner saw a shark!! But I didn’t get to see it. Oh wella. At night we went out with some of the guys of the crew, but the night was not too crazy as the morning after we planned to catch a bus to Cape Tribulation, probably the most longed destination of the entire trip.
Cape Tribulation has an unfortunate name, because in fact it is a wild Paradise. Empty beach, palm trees, sugar bananas, massive spiders and roomers about crocodiles. Isabella, Margherita, Hannah and I were travelling together at the time. One of our favourite experiences is definitely having gone exotic fruit tasting and tried so many different fruits I hadn’t even heard of! Black Sapote, Rollinia, Jackfruit, Dragon fruit, Star fruit, Miracle fruit.. Hmmm 😀 we also climbed Mount Sorrow, playing who’d get most leeches. I came second, with three (creepy!) leeches sucking the blood in my ankles.
Cape Trib is such an isolated place that not many people live there. Everybody kind of knows everybody, and after only two days that we were there we had met so many locals! They were extremely nice to us, very friendly and very ‘authentic Australian’, at least that was our impression. With this I mean running around bear feet, driving huts at crazy speeds on tiny dirt roads, going for night walks careless about the crocodiles warnings, always cheery, helpful and ready for adventure. Dan, one of the guys whose description is exactly like the one above, took us to water holes only known by the local inhabitants of the area, and escorted Isabella and I through the jungle at night – walk during which one of the guys got bitten by a python, we went ghost crabs hunting, and we saw the lowest tide ever. The water had literally retreated at least 500 metres!
Left Cape Tribulation, already a bit nostalgic but excited for the next destination, we left driving through Mosman Gorge and Port Douglas directed back to Cairns, where a bus the following morning would have taken us to Babinda. Unfortunately Isabella had to go back to work in Melbourne, so at this point the crew was only made by Margherita, Hannah and me.
I apologise for the incredible amount of posts I have written recently, but there’s so much to say! So.. We are still in New Zealand.
After a sleepless night at Christchurch airport, my friends and I returned to New South Wales. Just in time to rest and get my stuff together (and get robbed.. ha!), before leaving for the Gold Coast. Campervan relocation, $1 a day, a hectic drive to Byron Bay with The Friday Night Boys keeping us awake. Or waking me up, right Daniel? 😛
Byron Bay is probably my favourite beach town in Australia. Located at the far north-eastern corner of the state of New South Wales, the headland of Cape Byron is the easternmost point of mainland Australia. As information for whoever was wondering, Captain Cook named Cape Byron after John Byron, circumnavigator of the world and grandfather of the poet.
Why do I (and everyone, really) like it so much? Well, Byron Bay it is definitely one of those places in which you can feel streams of positive energy pervading the air all around you. Everybody there is happy and cheerful, and I believe it is not only because of the vicinity to Nimbin (the Amsterdam of Australia). Talking to some local environmentalists in the park, I discovered that the town is part of the erosion caldera of an ancient volcano. They reckoned that the energy of the ground inspired the creativity and liveliness of the inhabitants of the beachside, a cosmopolitan community that filled it with cafes, boutiques, galleries, bars, all very bohemian-style. And finally, plenty of hippies that welcomed my friends Kerstin, Daniel, Stefan and me to their Arts Factory.
Three friends of mine and I spent there about three days, living in the campervan and/or to the expenses of unaware hostels that we never paid for (free jacuzzi, hooray!). Byron Bay will always own a special corner of my heart also because there I could stand on a surf board for the first time in my life. Impossible to express how happy I was (disregarding the bikini failure), and how cool I felt carrying a surfboard.
As soon as this quick drive about the Gold Coast ended, the time came to chill a bit in the big City. I wanted to do all the typical ‘Sydney touristy stuff’ that I hadn’t done before – you know, when you live somewhere you procrastinate the local visits for the sake of reaching the exotic very-far-away places. Australia museum, Botanical Gardens, Royal National Park, Opera House, and of course beachbeachbeach. In two weeks Christmas arrived and my sister together with it, and a Christmas dinner in tank top was one of the highlights of my holiday. Hoping to make my sister get a good taste of what is like to live in Australia, in the next few days we went together to do some wine & beer tasting, sand boarding, kangaroo feeding and getting lost partying at King’s Cross. For New Years, Sydney was a riot. The day spent at Blues Point with great friends (photo below) and the amazing sight of the worldwide famous Sydney fireworks do not pay the walk on the Harbour Bridge and through George St on the way home, where we enjoyed scenes worthy of movies like Escape from New York or 28 days later. Priceless.
As soon as we caught up with our sleep, a taxi arrived just in time for us to get onto the next plane. Melbourne part two was about to begin..
Well, there is a hell of a lot to catch up with. I am disgusted with myself at how much I managed to procrastinate this! I am also a bit hungry right now, so I’ll try to keep shorter the oldest stuff and maybe get a bit more into detail writing about the latest happenings. To start with making especially my Italian friends hate me, my last exam was on the 19th of November last year. Since then, I have been trying to be as free as I could, more spiritually than actually with-nothing-to-do. After a bit of post-semester celebrations, and other celebrations that didn’t really have any reason but the fact that they are lots of fun, the travelling started. A return ticket to New Zealand made me recall the time of my life, and how happy I was back then in 2008. A visit to my wonderful host-family, a walk down Browns Bay, remembering it all with an enormous smile. Finally freed from those ghost memories, and able to move on, I crossed the Cook Strait. I had studied that during its long isolation, New Zealand developed a distinctive and unique biodiversity of animal and plant life. But I could not imagine what was waiting for me on the other side. Landscapes changing every half an hour, breath-taking drives and walks, a contact with such a wild Nature that marks you more than a tattoo. Every sight of logging site, especially in the North, was a stab wound. From Somes/Matiu Island, down to Nelson, Westport, Wanaka, Queenstown, the Fiordland, Christchurch.. The Country and the people really inspired me. So many just met on the road, hitching rides up and down, for the sake of adventure and discovery. Travelling there is so easy. The air is so fresh and the laughing so genuine. It is great meeting people so proud about where they live and happy to help you getting to know their lands. In Italy, we mostly hate tourists. In New Zealand, even the birds come and say hi. One of my favourite days was spent chatting with a good friend of mine on a tiny, little, inhabited island. Eating leaves and grains, everything was so instructive and liberalizing. Sometimes people say ‘we only realise what we had after we lost it’. Well, over there I could see it all, and after 4 months living in the busy Sydney that simplicity was almost regenerative.
Not once I stopped thinking how stunning that corner of world was, a small niche that I promised myself never ever to forget. It gave me energy, and new enthusiasm to make the conservation of the wonders I saw and I am studying my life-goal.
It is true, I believe, that the best te
acher is experience.
Here it is where it all starts. Finally, after weeks of zero updates and not one moment to sit down and properly write my stories, I have a blog! I will keep it in english, as translating all the time can be quite time consuming – I apologise in advance if some expressions won’t be clear, I’ll try and switch as little as possible. Sometimes italian is much better, sometimes english can be absolutely fantastic. So, hard choice.
The reason why I am doing this is because I am learning so much, seeing so many things, discovering myself and new worlds all the time, I really feel the need to share what I am experiencing and going through. Anyone who has met me probably noticed that I like talking lots and loud – and with many of my closest friends I haven’t had the chance to do it as often as I wanted and needed. Please, feel free to leave comments, I’d love this to be a two-way sharing as much as it can be. Finally, I hope that writing this blog will make up for my absolute inefficiency at updating my friends on what’s going on down here. Australia is a-ma-zing!! So, let’s get on it.
Sun, wind, water. These are the keywords of my past summer, the warmest winter I have ever lived. Three months chasing freedom, running up and down the biggest island on Earth. 6000km. Bus, free rides, planes, trains, feet. A $10 tent under the Southern Cross. I don’t even know where to begin! This is my intro, the story will follow.
Sunset in the Mary River Park, Kakadu Region, NT.