Stepping off the flight from London to Melbourne was one of the scariest moments of my life.
Spending 24 hours on a plane is enough to tip anyone over the edge – even if they’d had the foresight not to indulge in six Singapore Slings courtesy of the on-board service.
I was exhausted but more alert than ever; my body clock was all over the place after being fed every couple of hours and I was walking through immigration like a disorientated zombie.
Day one of two years backpacking alone. I was terrified.
Why would anyone leave a beautiful home to camp out with a load of students in a dorm – in beds that look like they were issued by the prison service?
Who in their right mind quits a media career for the ‘opportunity’ to go fruit picking in the 30 degree heat and how on earth am I supposed to survive carrying a backpack that’s almost half my bodyweight? I’d already toppled once at Heathrow and was thrashing around on the floor like an up-turned beetle before someone came, laughing, to my aid.
I passed through customs in a blur, handing over my working holiday visa and half hoping they might pack me back off to the safety of where I came. They didn’t. They said “G’day”, called me “mate” and told me to “have a blast.” I felt like I’d arrived on Mars.
Looking back, I have no idea what possessed me to leave my life in little England and pack up for new beginnings in the land down under. I think I was bored, needed a change. Got tired of cups of tea and paying for a TV licence. I was reaching for a life of sunshine, barbecues and people in hats with swinging corks.
I took a cab from Tullamarine Airport to the city centre – not yet ready to concede to the public-transport ways that should be integral to my new-found backpacker life.
I couldn’t stomach a night in the hostel I’d reserved. The idea of waiting until 3pm to check-in before being handed scratchy sheets and packed off to make my own bed was really too much.
My cab pulled in at the Pensione Boutique Hotel on Spencer Street where a large bed greeted me after a warm shower and fluffy towels.
I started to watch Australian Masterchef and contemplated what would happen at 11am the next morning when I’d be turned out loose onto the streets of Melbourne with 729 days still to go…
No friends, no place to stay, no clue how to get anywhere and still trying to squash the burning desire to just get knocked down and repatriated courtesy of the rip-off insurance I’d had to stump up for.
The girl from Adelaide takes her glazed salmon dish up to the Masterchef judges and it slides off on to the floor losing her a place in the competition. It’s the last conscious image I have before falling asleep. I hope it’s not a sign.
Sincere thanks to The Guy for asking me to guest post on this site. I blog at SaraHardmanTravels.com.
You can find out what happened in those 729 days at my site. I’d love to see you there!
You can also follow me on twitter @SaraOrSarah