Travel Notes Week by Week

Week by Week 9: The Times They Are A-Changin’

November 2, 2015

It’s been awhile, y’all.

When I last posted here, I told you I was going on a road trip. This was my big outback adventure: ten days away from Broome exploring the hot, dusty, croc-filled heart of Western Australia’s Kimberley region. It meant four-wheel drive and no cellular service, going almost entirely off the grid and taking, of course, a little break from this blog.

Our ten days on the road were nothing short of incredible. I visited some of the most mind-blowingly beautiful, surreal places I’ve ever seen, gorges and ranges and caves that were absolutely staggering to witness in reflecting upon the time and forces it took to create them. We took refuge from the searing sun in blissfully cool swimming holes, camped under clear, confetti-starred skies and passed hours entranced by the ever-more stunning scenery outside our car windows. At the end of the trip, I returned to Broome re-energized and inspired.

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Until, all of the sudden, I wasn’t.

In a way, the Broome I returned to was different than the Broome I had left. A week before the trip, I’d finally traded in my hostel life for a cheap, temporary sharehouse with friends from work; when I got back, that house was being sold, and most of those housemates were leaving town. Nearly all the remaining backpackers were moving on, and the staff at work was quickly shrinking.

It’s not that any of this was a surprise. I’d been saying good-bye to friends in Broome for months, more and more each week as the tourist season slowed down, giving way to the encroaching wet with all of its hot, heavy stickiness. It was a long time coming.

The problem was, in the midst of all this change, I found myself restless. I couldn’t wrap my head around staying when so many others were leaving. On the road, I’d felt deeply, rapturously alive; back in Broome, I simply felt stuck.

I thought about leaving. Instead of searching for a new sharehouse, I scoped out rideshares heading south. I distracted myself from Broome by reading books, planning post-Australia travels and talking with friends and family back home. I felt, for the first time in a long time, kind of homesick.

I knew, truly, that I was going to stay. My onward travel plans hinged on saving up in Broome for a little while longer, especially after our road trip ended up costing more than we’d initially anticipated. As much as I loved the idea of making a spontaneous break for it, I knew that in the end, I couldn’t justify the risk of not finding enough work elsewhere.

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If I sound like I’m complaining, I don’t mean to. I’m lucky to live in Broome — hell, to be in Australia in the first place! — and I know it. Still, no matter how many sunsets and palm trees and turquoise waves I share over Facebook and Instagram, the fact is that I’m not on a forever- holiday. Traveling, at least like this, isn’t synonymous with vacation. It can be hard, and it can be lonely. Just like life back home, it means working hard to budget and save. It means having good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks. Even more so than life back home, it means always saying good-bye, and always missing people and places. This lifestyle has its downsides like any other, but it’s the life I chose. I couldn’t be more grateful. Still, it would be disingenuous of me or any other travel blogger to pretend that travelling full-time is all euphoria and ease. It’s not. It’s often amazing, but it’s not perfect.

And so, here I am. A month after going off the grid for our road trip, at the start now of my last month in Broome, I’m back.

I’ve spent these last couple of weeks in limbo thinking a lot about where I am and why I’m traveling, what I’m looking for and where I want this blog to go. Now, I’m starting November afresh, recommitting in full to both being in Broome and prioritizing this blog. In the last two weeks, I’ve picked up a second job to compensate for the slower-paced wet season and moved into a beautiful new sharehouse with some friends remaining from the backpackers. I’ve also been outlining some new goals blog-wise. To start, I’ve decided to make these Week by Week posts biweekly; from now on, expect updates every other Friday. I also have heaps of content coming your way, from Broome, from way back in Melbourne and — most exciting of all! — from our big Kimberley road trip. Honestly, I can hardly wait to share it all. Until then, here’s to embracing fresh starts. Happy November, everyone!

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//THESE DAYS

Reading…

During our road trip, I got completely sucked into Bruce Chatwin’s Songlines, easily one of my favorite reads of the year and an absolute must for anyone interested in Australia. Written in 1987, the book takes place in and around the Kimberley region where I was travelling and explores, on its surface, the meanings and functions of the ancient songlines of Aboriginal Dreamtime ancestors. Beyond that, it’s about the gulf between white and Aboriginal heritage in Australia, the evolution of nomadic cultures and what compels us to move and travel. It’s an incredible book. I’ve since read Cheryl Strayed’s heartbreaking memoir Wild (it was so engrossing I finished it within a day) and moved onto Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Listening to…

Oh Wonder, over and over again. I’m obsessed with this band (the album is self-titled), and they’re definitely at the top of my list for must-see acts at the New Year’s music festival I’ll be attending in Tasmania.

& Feeling Inspired by…

Lonely Planet recently released its Best in Travel picks for 2016, and I’ve been having a lot of fun daydreaming about their destinations. Australia ranked as one of the top ten countries to visit next year, and Fremantle as one of the top cities. I was kind of excited — that’s one of my next stops! A few of my other destinations for the next year made the cut, too, but for now, I’ll keep those under wraps. Are any of your old favorites or must-see picks on the list?

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6 Comments

  • Reply Maddy November 2, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    You’re back!
    I can’t wait to hear more about your road trip! It sounds like you had an amazing time! 🙂
    Happy November!
    Maddy recently posted…The Best of Bali: The Balinese PeopleMy Profile

    • Reply Katie November 2, 2015 at 11:16 pm

      I am! Thanks, Maddy 🙂

  • Reply Jim Kenney November 2, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    Thanks for returning to share your world with us. Great final picture this issue. It kinda sums up all your time in Broome with one simple snap.

    • Reply Katie November 4, 2015 at 5:47 pm

      Thanks, Dad 🙂 The photo was actually taken in Cape Leveque — more on that soon!

  • Reply Alice Teacake November 3, 2015 at 7:56 am

    I love your honesty! Travel is tough. Travel is lonely. Travel is the best thing ever. Travel is something I will never ever give up. It’s a roller coaster for sure! Congratulations on committing to the blog and going for it! I’m looking forward to reading your content 😀
    Alice Teacake recently posted…Night time Bangkok Tuk Tuk Food TourMy Profile

    • Reply Katie November 3, 2015 at 3:04 pm

      Thanks so much, Alice! Everything you said: yes, yes, YES. I think it’s just as important to be mindful of the rough patches as it is the amazing ones, but no matter what I’m feeling, I know travel is something I’ll never give up.

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