Little did I know that this trip was to change my life forever, in ways I never even imagined. Australia. This is how it all started in 2009. I was that average teenager, pleased to follow the standard path, and had never left the country. So how did I get to travel Australia for 8 months, driving a total of 28000 km along the coast in a station wagon?
That is one thing that I remember as though it was yesterday. I was just halfway through my apprenticeship as an electrician and sat in vocational school, half-crazed with boredom. My class mate Michael was eating his Kinderwurstbrötchen and Daniel was teasing the chubby guy in front of him. In order to distract myself from the monotonous voice of my teacher and his boring lesson, I was reading an advertising magazine, spotting this kangaroo hopping across the sunset, apparently in Australia. By that point, I had never felt the desire to travel but I read a little further and I was hooked. Shortly after, I embarked on an adventure that would turn out to be much more than just a couple surf sessions, beatutiful sunsets, and sandy beaches.
As I had finished my apprenticeship, I was off. Off to the great unknown. When I arrived in Sydney after 21 hours on the plane with a stopover in Singapore, I was dead beat but I felt free. Free from any weight of the past or any anticipation of the future. I had only booked a bed for two nights in advance and I didn't have any great plans. Rather, I just wanted to take things as they came. I wasn't actually looking for a car, since my initial plan was not necessarily going all around the huge land. But I found an offer that was second to none and bought a Ford Falcon in which I left Sydney two weeks later. I made my way up the east coast with two other Germans to Byron Bay where we spent two weeks.
I've never been much of a sightseeing kind of guy. I don't bring a list of places when I travel, in order to then head from one sight to another taking pictures. For me it has always been about meeting people and getting to know their story. Plus you can find those pictures on Google in much better quality anyway. I think a shaky snapshot taken during a night out with people you've met is worth way more than a professional picture of, say, the Harbour Bridge. The more vivid the memory triggered by the picture is, the better the picture. That also works with shit resolution and without true-tone flash. You can rest assured that though I do indeed care about the appearance of this blog I enjoy the moment first, then take a picture second, and only share it when I think it adds value.
Everybody who's asking about money: Don't be limited by your current beliefs about it. I hear people complaining they couldn't afford such a trip, dismissing this as a lifestyle for the rich. It is not. In fact, the only thing you get for free is the precious time to spend on this planet. It is you who decides what to do with it. Have a look around yourself and realise how much stuff you have that you could trade in for a great time on the road, for experiences that no one's ever going to take away from you. Experiences that are going to feed your soul and make you grow as an individual.
Sure, I needed a few quid to go to Australia, so I sold my car and all that other crap that I possessed and worked on the weekends to save some money before I left. About half way up the east coast I found work on a show ground, so I travelled further up the coast with those travelling show guys for six weeks. Back at home I did forestry work, paving work, and all kinds of other shit work to earn a couple quid as a teenager but the work for the show was the shittiest I have ever done in my life. Even unloading bales of hay and straw from a trailer was better. In the end, the 3.20€/h were not worth it anymore, so I quit and settled down for four weeks in Cairns, where I shared a house with five other people.
In the meantime Daniel and Michael had arrived in Melbourne, where they were already tinkering emphatically with their camper van. Those two blokes who planted the idea of going to Australia in my head — Mike brought the advertisement magazine — eventually came over themselves to live down under for a couple months as well. They drove up the entire East coast in only two days time, eating and sleeping on the passenger seat. I was filled with great joy as I spotted both their faces and a box of beer at my place in Cairns.
We hung out on beaches near Cairns, eating melons and getting sunburnt. After two weeks we set out to see the outback and in Darwin we dragged up a hilarious Dutch guy, who had recently broken up with his girlfriend and was therefore always up for a cold beer or two. He turned 34 on our trip but was still so much fun and made our time an unforgettable one. The rest of this life-changing endeavour can be summarised as endless drives over dusty gravel roads, spirited conversations with Willy, which is how we called our dutch friend Jan-Willem, and a lot of sunset beers. Ah, and there was this skydive from Australia's highest altitude of 14,000 ft from above the Great Barrier Reef.
Sometimes I wonder where I would've ended up without this journey's huge impact on the further course of my life. In retrospect, I can say Australia replaced my motivation to make more money than god in my mid-twenties with an omnipresent need to get out and see the world and to fill in the experiential gaps I was becoming more and more aware of through this journey.