My obsession with Australia can be traced back to my college years: summers spent working in a photo lab, saving all my earnings for my year studying abroad in Sydney.
The first time I flew to Australia, in 2006, I went from Hartford to Chicago to Los Angeles to Sydney. This took about 2.5 days longer than it should have due to a delayed flight and a missed connection.
Holy moses! I’M MOVING TO AUSTRALIA TOMORROW!!
I can barely wrap my head around that fact. It seems so natural, but with these last few weeks just flying by it’s become REAL.
93.6% of all tourists in Australia come to see the Great Barrier Reef.
Ok I totally made that stat up. Surely there are people who only stop in Sydney or Melbourne on their Aussie trip, or head straight to the Outback to get their bushwalk on.
During my mid-year break at Sydney Uni in 2006, I traveled for 3+ weeks in Western Australia and the Kimberley. The most economical and safe way for a solo female traveler to take on the rugged backcountry in Australia is to join a tour group, so I threw a few G’s at Western Xposure to take me from Perth to Darwin during the Aussie winter.
One of the first things I did on my month-long trip through New Zealand was the Tongariro Crossing. Renowned as the best day hike in the country, it takes you on a 12-mile journey through volcanoes, lakes, and a very Mars-like terrain; past active volcano Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe, and – most gorgeous of all – the Emerald Lakes.
In April of 2006, I took one of those trips that leaves you with mental images and memories permanently etched in your mind. I traversed the Australian Outback, from Adelaide northward to Darwin, in 10 days.
I distinctly remember sitting in a shuttle bus outside Sydney Airport about to commence my semester abroad in Australia, gazing up at the palm trees lining the parking lot, when I made a decision: I would extend my stay and live in Sydney for a full year.
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