So apart from finding my inner Aussie again while we were in Uluru I also had a lot of fun. When I wrote my list for 2016 there were lots of things I included knowing we were going to do/I really wanted to do in Europe, but I also snuck a view central Australia goodies in as well, knowing that we were also planning on coming here with Dave’s family. The good news is all of these got crossed off… The better news is I also got to cross off some surprise ones… And I really love an impromptu list crossing!
Just entering the Northern Territory crossed off no. 44 as it was the first time I had ever traveled there, which is a pretty impressive start to a trip. While we were up there Dave and I went on a 3 day camping trip with Dave’s sister Ness and her partner Hugh, where we spent our days getting up before sunrise to watch it rise in spectacular style and then go bush walking (no. 30) around Uluru, through Kata Tjuta and up and over the Kings Canyon rim, covering about 25km all up in 30+ degrees. At night we watched the sunset beautifully and then slept under the stars in our own swags (no. 25), and let me tell you there is nothing like the central Australian stars, they are truly mind blowing. At the top of Kings Canyon I also found my first geocache (no. 13) signed in and left behind my own gift and hid it again for the next geocacher (no. 14). This was not planned, I had no idea it was up there, but our tour guide asked if anyone wanted to see one and I was in.
While we were out in the bush, I also got to see my first wild dingo.. And a few of its mates, and as we traveled between sites, I saw an emu at Curtain Springs Station (no. 66) and took a little selfie with Nibbles the camel at Kings Creek Station (no. 81).
I love being out in the bush, but I have also really loved the time I have had to hang out with our family, dinners, swims, walks… Sharing, talking and experiencing this together. On our first night we went and experienced the ‘field of light’ an art installation only opened that week that has 50,000+ lights placed at the foot of Uluru, which was pretty incredible and last night, as our last night together, we enjoyed the sounds of silence, a four course meal out in the open watching the sunset over Uluru and Kata Tjuta and then being guided through the central Australian stars. It was the perfect way to finish a wonderful week. Great food, laughter and a perfect location… I sat with empty shoes off, feet covered in red sand and soaked it all in… I am so blessed to have had this week, in fact this incredible year but even more, to have wonderful family to share it with… And I’m already dreaming of when I can return to experience the outback again.
This time 8 years ago I was in Bourke, I was young, naive, and a long way from home. I was out there for a final year uni placement after expressing some interest in indigenous Australian health and closing the gap that exists between indigenous communities and non-indigenous ones. At the time I had no idea how life changing this trip to the outback would be. How much it would shape my life, ideas and opinions. How much I would appreciate the experience and insight I gained while I was there. Or how much the red dirt would get in my heart, and the hole that it would leave forever after that.
Fast forward to now, and as sad as it is to admit when I came home from Europe I was a little underwhelmed about being Australian, I was ashamed of my history and feeling a little lost, but this week, I have had my feet back in the red dirt and it feels like home.
Last week Dave and I spent our time exploring Uluru on a family holiday with Dave’s family, a trip unlike any we have been on before and my first trip to the Northern Territory. But this trip to heart of Australia has refreshed my soul. There is still a lot of my identity as a white Australian I am uncomfortable with, but I have been reminded of so much that we can be proud of.
The outback is magical and majestic and I have never experienced anything like it. The vastness of the desert, the size and scale of Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon, the simple beauty of our beautiful country and the incredible ability for life and culture to last even in the toughest and most extreme circumstances. I have found a new appreciation for our Aboriginal forefathers, and renewed my passion for bridging the gap between Australia’s two currently separated communities.
It is humbling to walk around the rim of Uluru and parts of Kata Tjuta, their overwhelming presence a reminder of how small man really is. It is incredible to think of the time they have stood and endured, almost as long as Australia has been Australia, these amazing structures have been here. As we walked through and along the rim of Kings Canyon it is impossible not to be impressed, where else in the desert can you find ferns and permanent waterhole? Or frogs and tadpoles who have waited for rain just for this chance to survive on the top of a desert rock. I was reminded that while Australia may not have the ‘white’ history of Europe, with buildings and statues from a long heritage that is familiar and , Australia’s history is rich in a completely different way. It has been around for a lot longer, as has its people.
So while there is still a lot to be done to reconcile all that is Australian, I am proud of this land, it’s people and to be Australian.
So tomorrow I turn 29… and just like every other birthday for at least the last 10years I don’t feel ready for it… but I thought it might be nice to take a moment before it happens to reflect on the year that was 28 before it is gone altogether. A couple of years ago I saw on Instagram… or maybe Facebook, I can’t remember… but it doesn’t really matter, I saw someone post x number of things they learned/loved/lived from the year of x… that might not make sense, right now, but hopefully it will in a minute. The point is, I really liked it, and even though I can’t find it again now to say thank you to whoever it was, I have decided this is a good way to reflect… So here are 28 things that I have learned, loved and lived in the past year that have helped me prepare for 29… oh and if this idea was yours, please accept my thanks and let me know so I can say thanks properly.
- Hot Chocolate is better with sprinkles… and yes that is a thing… you can add sprinkles to a Hot Chocolate.
- I am still enjoying writing my list each year. I hope this is something that I can keep doing, only as long as I still love it though.
- 28 has been a year of travel, little trips, big trips, some close and some far away, but all wonderful. I have seen more, been further and done some pretty incredible things.
- I am stronger and more capable then I think… I should remember this more often.
- The internet is wonderful for keeping those who move far away, just a little bit closer.
- I have been able to expand my skills at work and try some new things and found myself in the IT department for a little while.
- It turns out I really like using some power tools… not the ones with saws or blades, but the drill with lots of attachments, that works.
- Making small changes at home has made it feel even more like home than ever before.
- Choosing Dave as my best friend and partner in crime is still the best decision I have ever made, he makes me a better person and in the next 12months I should appreciate him more. He is strong, clever, loyal, funny, incredibly hard working and ridiculously good-looking at all times.
- Camping isn’t a phase… I really do love it, I love being outside, I love sleeping under the stars and I love toasting marshmallows.
- I am getting better at looking after myself, but I still have a long way to go… but I am more determined than ever to get there.
- I have learned that life is full of unjust things, some of which affect me and lots which I contribute to, often without me knowing. I need to pay more attention to my impact on the world around me. I can make it better, even if it’s only a little bit.
- Being deliberate about my actions also applies to lost of other things… work, books, learning, devotions and faith… this year I have learnt that it is time to be deliberate about focusing on what I want/need/would like and making it happen.
- Parkrun is always worth it, I will always feel better if I get up and exercise, even if it takes 4.5kms of the 5kms to feel that way.
- Michael Bolton is totally underrated.
- I love having the right gear to do things… especially my ‘adventure gear’ great jackets, pants, shorts, beanies, gloves, torches, shoes, bags… everything you need for adventures… I just need more adventures to use it.
- It turns out I know less about a lot more than I thought… this is good news… I have lots to learn and I love learning. Most recently I have loved learning about WWII, soviet occupation and Australian History.
- My spatial awareness is still as terrible as ever… I don’t think this will ever change.
- I am a sucker for a competition… this has been good for my exercise in the last 12months… I will do more kms even if it kills me.
- I am learning to be satisfied with who I am and where I fit into the world, although this year, while I have found my place in some parts of my life, I have become completely unstuck in others.
- For a while now I have thought I didn’t have the time/mental capacity to expand my friend network, but over the past 12months I have met a lot of new people and made some really amazing new friends… it turns out I do have the capacity and the time… I hope that 29 keeps bringing people into my life.
- Skiing and bush walking are actually things I enjoy… that is a sentence I ever thought I would type.
- There is nothing like the red dirt of the outback.
- Sunrise and Sunset are always magical.
- I can get up early if I really want to… and I should practice it more often.
- Even though my family is complicated at times, it is wonderful, caring, loving and supportive.
- I like being in a book club, it makes me read books I wouldn’t usually choose, but usually enjoy.
- I can’t make happiness, or just choose to be happy, but I can choose to fill my life with people, things and places that make me happy, I can choose to see the good and I can choose to seek better… I think that is what I have done this year… or at least tried to do.
Thanks 28, you have been a winner… here is to 29. May 29 be even better… I hope that I learn more, love more and live more.