As I sit here munching on pretzels and sipping away on my vodka lemonade bound for LAX, I can't help but to think of how blessed I am to be able to travel around the world, let alone Australia, my own 'backyard'. As we flew from Melbourne to Sydney on our connecting flight, I watched the scenery beneath me ever-changing from immaculately set out farmland to coastal cliffs and beaches in a matter of minutes. I love Australia, I've never met a person who doesn't. Lucky for me, I was born and bred in Melbourne, which was just voted the most liveable city for the 6th year straight this past week!
What makes it so liveable and gives Melbournians such a laid back vibe you ask? Is it the education, or the health system, or the public transport? Oh no, let me assure you we have it pretty good, but I'll tell you what it is that really makes it the greatest place to live in the world? If you drive an hour in any direction out of Melbourne, you will reach something different and exciting in every which way! The city itself is amazing, but I think what keeps Melbournians chugging along and sane is that escape from the hustle-and-bustle of city life is never difficult or far away... it's pretty much day-trip paradise! In what other corner of the world could you go from the capital city, to lush rainforests, to secluded beaches, to cliff-faces, or to arid country-land all in a day? I mean realistically, you probably wouldn't do this because you wouldn't have the time to enjoy each destination to its full potential, but you could. We get to enjoy all of these varying rural and coastal sanctuaries, then come back to our inner-city apartments and still take advantage of all that the city has to offer for a night out, or a blissful brunch the morning after our adventures.
Just last week, my boyfriend Harley and I, mutually tired of our 9-5 jobs threw a sicky, jumped in his brand spanking-new ute and hitched it up to Echuca for the sunniest day we have had in yonks!
(I have just realised, for any non-Aussie folk who may've stumbled across my humble blog, that sentence probably made absolutely no sense to you, so let me dissect it for you a bit:
"to throw a sicky" - ditch/skip/wag i.e to call your boss with an excuse of a one-off sickness which would explain your absence for only 24 hours e.g. food poisoning, a head cold, or migraine - so as to not go to work for simply no other reason than you can't be fucked!
Ute = pick-up truck
Yonks = a long time - could refer to any period in time relative to the point at hand, ranging from years to days. In this case yonks refers to the last few months of winter, however if I were to say 'I haven't been for a Maccas run in yonks' I probably really mean since last Tuesday.
Dammit I just keep getting myself into more trouble here: Maccas = McDonald's)
Anyways, back on track. Echuca is a regional Victorian town, a 3-hour drive from Melbourne. 2-hours along the way, a stop through Bendigo is absolutely necessary! A central country-hub, it is a cultural goldmine, with cafes, famously established restaurants, beautiful gardens and really cool old buildings and churches and stuff (that's as far as my architectural knowledge goes, just a head's up!). We stopped in Bendigo at midday for a walk through the gardens and up to the lookout tower, with a jaw-dropping view of the town. The real motive for our stop though was for Bendigo's world famous hotdogs by the lake, the most AMAZING hotdogs you will ever encounter in your life! This hotdog stand is an institution and it's not hard to see why, when the toppings include delectables such as bacon, relish, cream cheese and crushed up chippies (crisps)! For any of you adventurous lady travellers out there, you must order the '.....' and just demolish that bad-boy! You will make a mess. You will have cream cheese all over your face, and chips making a tickly trail down your cleavage, but that's okay. Throw your manners out the window and just enjoy it, seriously!
All wannabe food-critique aside, Bendigo truly is a beautiful day trip in itself... to be honest it could keep you occupied for well over a week, if you had the time.
However, on from there, we headed up the backroads and switched the ute into four-wheel drive to skid through some mud and puddles left-over from the buckets of rain the previous weeks. Past Mittiamo, and into Terrick Terrick National Park, where we discovered some new tracks, constantly stopping for perfect photo-ops and to climb up giant rocks, where views of the gullies and valleys in the distance literally stopped me in my tracks. I sat and reflected ontop of the rocks for a few moments, at what a beautiful country I live in... I couldn't believe that after being so excited for my upcoming overseas travels to America and Africa, I had one of the most memorable and fun days I've had in YONKS in my own backyard. As we drove between the Gum trees and the rocks, with the path getting narrower and narrower, kangaroos leaped and bounded infront of us, up the hill and then swivelled their heads back to watch us. There's nothing quite like it.
We then continued on to Echuca past the copious sheep farms, music blasting, windows down, mud flicking up from the tyres, bugs hitting the windscreen and the sun's rays shining down onto our cheeks, until it was time to turn around and head back home to the city. All in a day's work, and back in time to do the laundry!
The point is traveller's, it's all well and good to book the trip of a lifetime, then sit at work for days...weeks...months marking down the calendar each day and staring at the screen dreaming of that moment that you wake before the alarm like it's Christmas morning so that you can head to the airport. However, I'd encourage you to spend your weekends, or spare days hopping in the car and going for a drive to nowhere, or jump on a train and get off at a stop you've never been to before; You never know where you might end up, or what you might find.