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Published: November 2nd 2018
Well, it's been a while, friends! Apologies for the long break between posts, but we've shifted gears and the past few months have been a slower, more subdued and industrious part of the trip. The Working Holiday Visa gives the bearer permission to work in the country. After our exciting (and expensive) journey to the Red Centre, we were ready to take some time hunkering down and making money to fund the rest of our trip. We had arranged two house sits stretching over 5 months, both within driving distance of Brisbane. The first 10 weeks in the beautiful Scenic Rim region on a rural property with two beautiful, massive dogs and an affectionate Ragdoll cat. Then, we would spend 8 weeks in an Brisbane suburb on a housesit taking care of a sweet husky-shepherd mix before Kevin's parents would join us for the rest of our Australia adventure.
This was a funny, interesting and sometimes challenging portion of our trip. Our first housesit was fantastic, in a large acreage in some of the most gorgeous county we've seen out here. The Scenic Rim is about an hour's drive from Brisbane and is renowned for its expansive pastures, pockets of
Near Purling Brook Falls, Springbrook National Park, Queensland
wild rainforest, quaint country towns and wild kangaroos. The homeowners generously let us use their car in order to explore the region. But first things first, get a job.
We had spent almost two years saving up for this trip, and while we had financial reserves, we had been feeling some anxiety about money as we approached the next house sit. Before we arrived we both were browsing job boards to see what the market was like for job seekers in Brisbane. It's a big city with a few major industries, so we were sure we'd find something we were qualified for.
Within two weeks Kevin found a job in a warehouse, packing and shipping clothing from a wholesaler in Brisbane Monday to Friday. It was close to the airport and easily accessible from the highway, though it would be an hour and change drive at minimum. We didn't realize at first, but because of how isolated we were, Kevin would be the only person to be able to get a job since I'm not able to drive. With the nature of the housesit and the care required, I became de facto housekeeper. How positively old-fashioned of us!
The Great Valley
Springbrook National Park, Queensland
We developed a routine. The dogs would wake us up at the crack of dawn, Kevin would get on the highway and commute to work, I would feed the dogs and mind the house. On weekends, we would explore the surrounding countryside. It was a bit of a grind, but with an eye to saving money this system helped us keep our expenses down greatly.
The first weekend we headed to the Canungra Rodeo, which was a lot of fun. Canungra is a tiny, but heavily touristed country town. It is located at the gateway to Tambourine Mountain, a winding hill top of lush rainforests, with plenty of wineries, antique stores and cafes for visitors to enjoy. The rodeo was small, but well attended, and reminded me of events I used to attend as kid living in the Albertan countryside. Lots of families in attendance, little girls on horses barrel racing, a long row of food stalls (with excellent pizzas!) and good beer. It was a great way to spend a day.
This area of Queensland is renowned for its natural beauty, so we spent most of our explorations hiking and bushwalking. It saved us lots of
Bae and Beaches
Broadbeach, Gold Coast
money and enabled us to get lots of fresh air. We went to Tambourine Mountain itself a few times, as it was the closest major tourist destination and came heavily recommended. One of the advantages about housesitting is you get to spend time in places you might never have thought to visit normally. If we had traveled more conventionally we would most likely be living in a hostel in the city itself, and we would never get the chance to explore Tambourine Mountain at all. It isn't a real mountain, it's actually a volcanic plateau, but it's rich in forest, wildlife and waterfalls. We explored the Curtis Falls track, clambering up rocks and admiring the massive eucalyptus trees. We were definitely in the tropics, now! There was the requisite groups of kids running past on field trips, and I was instantly envious of how exciting it would be to grow up in this wilderness.
We went on a three hour hike in Purling Brook Falls, where we stood and looked out at breathtaking vistas. It was where we almost had our first "snake" encounter as well. Walking up the dense trail, Kevin jumped when we looked through the crack
in a log strewn across the path. "Snake!" he shouted. We both took a close, tentative look inside the log and saw the slither of long, brown scales. This was it, this was how we would die in Australia. Just then an Australian man and his son were approaching and investigated what we were looking at. With a chuckle the man informed us it was only a Blue Tongue, a harmless forest lizard. We laughed at our Canadian paranoia and continued on. It was a long hike. When we reached the bottom of the falls we looked up 100 m at the thin spray evaporating into mist before it reached the bottom, we realized how far we had walked. I had heard that there was a swimming hole about 20 minutes down the trail, so we decided to go on and find it. What we found was a lagoon all to ourselves. It didn't take long to find out why, as the water was way too cold to swim in. But we gave it our best try. I only dipped my feet in, but Kevin managed to walk in waist-deep before he wised up. But it was great to sit
there all by ourselves and revel in the quiet noises of nature. It wasn't hard to imagine these pools full of swimmers during the summer.
Gold Coast was the closest city to us, the Las Vegas of Australia, we've been told. Lined along miles of white, sandy beaches it is home to theme parks, wax museums, and rooftop bars. We visited a few times, so far sticking to the beaches. It is still winter here, so too cold to swim, dammit! All we want to do is plunge into the water, but alas, Australia does have four seasons just like everywhere else. Kevin' been doing his best, but he comes out of the ocean shivering most of the time. We make our best effort as we are so tempted by the blue water. Huge condos and skyscrapers are just meters from the ocean and the whole place has a very Cali-vibe, like perpetual summer vacation. We went for my favourite for lunch, a sushi restaurant where you pick your plates as they tantalizingly pass by on a conveyor belt.
Every morning and every night, the sunrise and sunsets in this part of the country are surreal. Purple dominates the sky and then there are stars for ages. So far away from the city lights you can see the layers of the Milky Way.
As wonderful as this housesit was, this was the first time we both began to feel homesickness. We had been three months on the road, and in a way, this was the first time we really stopped in one place for any length of time. The Monday to Friday commute for Kevin would sometimes feel too much like the daily grind of home, which we had specifically come to avoid. The isolation of the country and my inability to go anywhere independently (the closest town would be over an hour's walk) began a cabin-fever infection that sometimes caused me great frustration. This was only in our weakest moments, and we constantly reminded ourselves of what this time and effort would enable us to do, how lucky we were to be in the situation we were in, and that is was all temporary. In a way, we had space to contemplate what this trip meant to us and how far we were willing to go. We had only bought a one-way ticket, with no knowledge of how long we would stay, and now we were beginning to realize the reality of what living abroad meant, both the positive and the negative. Leaving everything behind you, our life in Toronto, our apartment, our possessions, our friends and family, does have an emotional toll and I believe it was here that we felt it most keenly.
In November, on our second housesit, Kevin's parents will join us. From Brisbane, we will travel up the East Coast on a epic road trip for the ages, then fly to the Top End in Darwin, and then spend the holidays in Perth and finally, the wine region of Margaret River. It was during this housesit that we decided that we would be going back home to Canada in January with the parents. We decided this based on a variety of factors, budget being foremost. We both realized that we didn't want to stop and work again like this and Australia is an expensive country. Better to fully enjoy the short time filled with adventure and not constantly worry about money, saving and figuring out what to do next. We have a blank slate waiting for us at home and we are both ready to build a live for ourselves there. This brought us a lot of relief, and we began to enjoy ourselves again.
Next time, we will talk more in depth about our next housesit and our time in Brisbane, the place we would move to if we lived here 😊
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