On the road once again,
Heading back up the East Coast of Australia from Sydney to The Gold Coast.
“Let Her Go” cover by Jasmine Thompson is currently playing and softly soothing my soul. The unfamiliar road we are currently driving on is stringing us along; pushing us along the last six hours of our unforgettable adventure ... A time I will never ever forget!
I'm usually one who enjoys controlled solitude; I like being alone at home and have absolutely nothing against spending my Friday and Saturday nights snuggled in bed up at home with a “hug in a cup” (tea) and my trusty laptop. I like going for long wanders and losing myself before discovering a new route home. I love the calmness of mind being alone allows me to experience and I find my creativity, imagination and mind is limitless when it is just it and I alone.
And I often find being in other people’s presence for more than a few consecutive hours to be indescribably challenging - perhaps it's because I try so hard to be uplifting and positive that it is draining or perhaps I genuinely miss the silence and deep pondering ... Regardless, it is awfully rare for me to find another person whose soul beats synchronously with mine. Of course I have my very special friends from different times in my life that are scattered all over Australia now, and overseas. But in recent years, I have been recognising that this is what we do. We seek out and surround ourselves with more and more of those souls; for me that means allowing myself to indulge in positivity rather than being passively infected by other peoples negativity.
I don't believe in "removing" toxic people from our lives as I firmly understand that sometimes those people need US for strength and support. However I do think we should feel no guilt in surrounding ourselves with uplifting, supportive and positive people as much as we please ... Our emotions and attitudes can be contagious and sharing/spreading those vibes is something I hold valuable in my life. I love the idea of infecting others with happiness and the one legacy I wish to leave behind is to be "So incredibly happy, that anyone who comes within 20ft of me cannot help but feel the same way".
So spontaneously deciding to do a 10 day road trip with someone I had only ever met once before at a social event (Polo By The Sea)hosted by our model management one month earlier was certainly a risk and a half... Potentially a recipe for disaster and a week of endless frustration. Not sure she knew what she was taking on either.
But then again, what is life WITHOUT taking risks?
That 30 seconds of insane courage, unfamiliarity, jumping into the unknown or deciding to do something spontaneously is often how the best memories are ever made ... It will set your heart on fire, invigorate every sense in your body, make your limbs tingle with anticipation, your mind soar with imagination and excitement, your tummy flutter with enthusiasm and a little bit of healthy fear and fill you with a feeling of freedom! It's one way to LIVE not just survive..
Thankfully, our souls were compatible. And throughout the last week we barely spent any time apart and our friendship has certainly blossomed into a lifelong friendship. We've discovered we are scarily alike, we are both fragile, we have both been broken and been resilient; overcoming what life has thrown at us. Our families and up-bringing were very similar, we both love fudge far too much and the only thing where our souls are contradictory is her love for spicy food! We now finish each other’s sentences occasionally, have the same loud and overtly annoying laugh, and think for one another …
Have you ever met someone and feel instantaneously connected and safe? As if there was a definitive reason for the series of events which led up to you meeting this person? ...eternal soul mates.
Aquila and I set off on our road trip; hopes high and smiles even higher! We both knew whatever happened we were going to make our week unforgettable. And that's exactly what we did!
Within the first day, we only managed to drive an hour in the right direction. We spent the majority of the drizzly day up in the Gold Coast Hinterland; playing amongst nature and beside beautiful fresh-water waterfalls.
We ended up staying at a friend’s place in Byron Bay, where we did everything from indulging in gourmet pizza to listening to some amazingly talented street music artists on the main strip and watching an entirely spoken-in-spanish comedy movie ... Oh AND we almost got hit by a man who looked identical to Allan from "The Hangover" who was casually walking a goat on a leash ...
Day two commenced with avocado and tomato toast, then a full day of travelling. We drove eight hours from Byron Bay to my hometown of Newcastle where we stayed with my family for two nights. The car trip was FULL of two giggling girls, an overdose of lollies and NO silence. I don't think I have talked or laughed so much or so hard since I had my best friends sleepover and gossip about the boys we thought were cute whilst eating blocks of chocolate, years ago!
Newcastle was a blast! I love going home and involving myself in things that I never did when I lived there. Mostly because when I was still living at home was when I struggled with years of depression, social anxiety, suicidality and became entirely withdrawn from my family, friends and life ... so actually being out and about, and experiencing what I missed out on for years was really quite lovely; uplifting. And seeing my family and friends is always incredible! Only disappointment was not catching up with all the beautiful souls I would have liked to.
Adrenaline was the word of the day on Sunday; the morning started with breakfast and an insanely fun jet ski ride on the back of my brother’s and my Dad’s skis … We even found the cutest baby seal playing along Newcastle Foreshore near Nobby’s Breakwall.
Doors-Off Helicopter rides, whale-watching and hot dogs followed! By lunch time we were sky high, feet hanging out of a chopper and smiles all round! Despite the feel of bitterly numbing cold air circulating around our heads and visciously whipping our hair to and fro. It's overwhelming how powerful flying can be at times; such a surreal feeling! And the view was so amazing…
The rest of the time in Newcastle was spent on dates catching up with loved friends, devouring Snickers-flavoured Surfshakes (a thickshake so thick straws become "udderly" useless - #punintended) and scaling cliffsides at sunset!
Sydney was the next location on the itinerary.
But first ... A flat battery and an hour of giggling at how unfortunate it was before help arrived! $185, a new battery and a new friend later and we were good to go! Stopping off at Taronga Zoo along the way for a private tour, where we got to experience both the koalas and the giraffes from a zookeeper perspective! I learnt a lot actually, especially that even the zookeepers are no longer allowed to touch the animals in any Australian State or Territory other than QLD! So unfortunately we weren't able to cuddle up to a cute koala but we were allowed to experience the sleeping beauties up close and hand feed giraffes!! I also discovered that one particular giraffe enjoyed the taste of the faux-fur edging of my jacket!! #loveagoodcoatnibble #tasty
Leaving the zoo as popsicles, we ventured into the heart of Sydney - Darling Harbour and found a ridiculously over-priced overnight carpark and emerged from the car absolutely freeezinggg!! We checked into the 1888 Hotel at Pyrmont. The 1888 Hotel is just minutes from Darling Harbour and the places we wanted to explore on foot for the next couple of days. It is an old heritage-listed building which has been done up to keep a bit of the past (exposed brick walls and vintage furniture) combined with modern chic and a little eclectic quirkiness. With all the modern comforts, technologies and necessities at our fingertips, we unpacked, warmed our souls with complimentary cups of T2 tea and warmed our toes up in hot showers, before heading out to dinner with my favourite foodie and creativity instagrammer, Tara (@taramilktea) and her best friend (@larrygrotter). Italian restaurant "Criniti’s" was the choice of eatery and the feast was unbelievably refreshing! Fresh, healthy food always awakens my body and rejuvinates my entire being! Bruschetta, lamb & avocado salad, a volcanic pizza (literally served flaming!) and a feta & pumpkin salad definitely hit the spot!
We then strolled around Darling Harbour with the girls, laughing uncontrollably! And to our luck, we came across the most incredible Fudge Shop!! There was unimaginable and countless flavours of oozingly delicious fudge! If you're ever wandering through the Darling Harbour mall, I genuinely recommend you at least taste the samples!
Consumption of our treats was done back in our hotel room where the four of us sat on the bed talking and laughing for the rest of the night!
The next morning proved chilly and windy yet again ... I decided to lace up and go for a walk around Sydney to find the Harbour Bridge and Opera House! I've been to Sydney countless times before - the majority of my sporting commitments had major competitions based in Sydney, so an awful lot of my childhood was spent in or around Sydney, but I rarely took the time to explore it slowly by foot! Making the effort, despite the cold felt like I was ticking a box!
Lunch was spent in the lovely company of Rob (@robdomjen). Two separate secret locations for juices and lunch - both equally as wonderful as each other! And a quick casual photostop on a famous rooftop in Palm Beach before a stroll to watch sunset at the top of a cliffside at a lighthouse; panoramic views!
However, I have a tendency for bad luck and general clumsiness. Combining those two with an incredible amount of “just in the wrong place at the wrong time” misfortune, meant I managed to cop an old, dried and dead palm frond spike to my mid shin ... through thick jeans ...
Excruciating is an understatement!
Instant pain and I could barely walk.
At the time I lightly brushed it off, put on a brave face, and stoically soldiered on. I'm not one to let a little splinter stand in the way of FUN. I tried walking to the top in chronic pain anyway and THOUGHT I had removed the rest of the spike ... Turns out I was terribly mistaken!
Thursday we explored Bondi beach in the morning, and then checked out of the hotel. My leg wasn't any better and was actually getting worse. It wouldn't bother me normally, I try to avoid doctors and medications as much as possible, but the thought of not being able to go to the Bahamas on Tuesday from the possibility of infection made us stop at the hospital in Newcastle ... An intended short stay turned out to be an overnight stay, cannulas and drips, x-rays, ultrasound and eventually a general anaesthetic and surgical removal of what they thought was a tiny piece of frond-spike. I wasn't allowed to keep the piece they removed, but it surprised even the surgeon upon removal ... a dead, black palm frond spike the size of a nail had lodged itself snug into the muscle of my calf. Thank goodness for agreeing to surgery - regardless of the scar and temporary ban from submersing myself in the ocean for the next ten days till stitches are removed.
Great Service at John Hunter Hotel…. sorry … Hospital
We left the hospital around midday on Friday and decided to drive to Gold Coast via Byron Bay in one go! Arrived at my place after a well deserved falafel kebab and fell asleep chatting away as always!
This morning I let Aquila sleep-in and started unpacking the car. .. The Burleigh sunrise was exquisite, yet the air felt a little eerie and unsettled as I knew this sunrise marked the end of our little adventure - and I wasn't sure if I was ready for that!
This past week has been something that I know I'll not ever forget. In fact; our little adventure is just the beginning of unimaginable travels and experiences, both individually and collectively …
And that realisation makes me more than excited!!
On Wednesday I leave for Miami, The Bahamas and LA… from where I know I will return home and never feel properly settled as a piece of me will more than likely be left there; attached - and that part of me will always think of that adventure as "home". I firmly believe that "home is where the heart is", and although Newcastle and/or Gold Coast is where I currently reside, I can clearly envisage myself finding countless "homes" throughout our incredible world.
I'm going to breathe in the world as one breathes oxygen …
I'm going to learn new ways of life
and fall madly, passionately in love with the incredible people,
places and culture that surround us.
I will conquer the anxiety of life by living in the moment
- living in the breath.
I will be thousands of miles from my comfort zone and know I am not alone. I will breathe the same air that was exhaled by many before me. The same air that gave them LIFE. I'll share the air they laughed in, cried in, triumphed in, thought in, existed in, loved in, and made memories in.
I believe EVERYONE we encounter has something to teach us and something to learn; I will serendipitously roam this entire planet learning, growing and developing from others, and hopefully provide them with the same blessing as they bestow upon me.
I will dance to the rhythm of the wind
I will move harmoniously with the sun
I will breathe in freedom, filling my lungs with excitement
I will flow to the beat my heart desires
and make the most of EVERY opportunity.
I will LIVE, not just survive
Love and light,
Doors-Off Helicpoter Rides:- http://www.heliservices.com.au
1888 Hotel:- http://www.1888hotel.com.au