Melbourne was beautiful, amazing, and full of wonderful people. So I started looking for a room to rent- I even visited one and tried to picture myself waking up there, having breakfast, waiting for the quickly-familiar tram home…

 

Waiting for the 112 tram in Melbourne.

 

But with rent comes needing a job, and I suddenly dreaded working retail in order to pay to stay and committing to anything, really. And I realised that Melbourne, as vibrant as it is, felt quite familiar- a beautiful mix of San Francisco, Montreal, and London.

So I took the brash decision to take a live-in job at a resort/hotel/restaurant in the middle of nowhere. There. Easy. I now have a job and room and board all wrapped into one.

It was tough saying goodbye to friends and the city, but I hopped on a plane and a couple of trains and got off at a dark little station. You know you’re in an out-of-the-way place when you have to ask the train to stop to let you (and you alone) get off.

My home for the next two months.

I have now been in Barrington Tops for two weeks. The smallest place I’ve ever lived had a population of 150,000 people (but usually I’m surrounded by about 4 million) and here I am, 40km from the nearest town. This means I am confronted with silence (and new bird songs) much of the time.  I am cleaning cabins and serving in the restaurant, and although I sometimes catch myself wondering how I got here and what I’m doing with my life, I get to drive a car with no plates on the left side of the dirt roads on the property. (Although I will not confirm this, I may have reversed over and onto a big rock, gotten stuck, and had to have Ben, the maintenance guy, rescue it. Seems there isn’t any major damage, except to my driving confidence and ego.)

A tree in my own rainforest.

On my day off this week, I took the school bus to Gloucester, where there were cafes to lounge in and a few shops (most of which sold mugs, none of which sold a yoga mat). See, I’m in a place where the only way to get into town without a car is to hop onto the school bus…

It was a relief to be around people, mail postcards, have real coffee and even be able to pick up a brochure for tours in Asia at the local travel agency/bookshop.  I am already dreaming of the next thing, using the extremely slow internet connection here to look up flights and figure out what to see in Australia once I start moving again. It may not be as big a country as Canada, but it feels huge- maybe because it’s not my own backyard and I feel like I have to see everything. I will not see everything. I’m choosing four places.

So far, it’s been quiet and a bit lonely here, but there have only been one or two moments of wondering how I ended up mopping this random cabin in this random place at my age.

On my bad day, I realised I hadn’t even been here a week, had committed to staying for 9 more weeks (and I don’t want to let anyone down or travel during the expensive Christmas holidays), was hot, sweaty, tired, cursing hospital corners (what’s wrong with a nice fitted sheet, I wonder?). Then it was suggested that I wasn’t working fast enough and I nearly lost it.

Wallaby!

Luckily, I got a pep talk over Skype chat (thanks, Shelley!), went for a walk in the rainforest, and felt a million times better. Until I discovered a tick behind my ear. I spent the rest of the night freaking out and looking up the symptoms of lyme disease and tick paralysis. So far I’m fine (I got the sucker in time).

I’ve seen amazing animals- parrots of all colours and sizes, beautiful swarms of red-bellied finches, lyrebirds with long tails that look like a Dali version of a violin head, kangaroos, kookaburras, pademelons (look them up! I tried to take a photo and they move so fast all I have is a picture of a path), lizards, wallabies, and snakes (I’ve only seen one, but I keep dreaming about them). And I have to keep remembering to not lose that sense of amazement. This is why I am here: lyrebirds on your balcony, wallabies in your backyard.

Yellow flower.

It’s an exercise in patience and chilling out and I think I’ll get the hang of it especially once I transform this place into my own private writing retreat. But being here makes me realise how lucky I am to normally be surrounded by my wonderful family and friends.

Better photos next time!

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