I feel lost in the world I wished for. Waiting patiently in London for months and months, I was more than excited boarding that plane to Sydney. I was finally getting to go to Australia, the dream was coming true. I would work in a nice little café by the sea, have nice friends I could go out with. Live in an apartment where I could see the ocean from my bedroom window and run along the beach every day or surf. The thing is all that was just a dream and after 9 months of being in Australia I’m ready to move on from the dream that never came true.
No one tells you how expensive everything REALLY is, no one tells you that it isn’t that easy to find a job, no one tells you the bad image backpackers have. And least of all no one tells you that Australia does get winter because everyone plans for it and heads north before it starts.
Travelling Australia is everything it’s made out to be, with a huge price tag. You will meet awesome people along the way but you will also meet people who just want to get drunk. The Whitsundays really is that beautiful and the Great Barrier Reef is incredible. Driving on Fraser Island is worth it and you should leave enough time for more than one surf lesson. However when the East Coast is said and done, you realise that real life exists and keeping the dream alive is a lot harder than you first thought.
Landing in Melbourne for the first time was overwhelming, it wasn’t Cairns any more. It was expensive, it was dirty, and it was, well a CITY. Having spent one day out of the last six weeks in a city I had forgotten what it was like. And so we went orange picking in South Australia. The Murray River Land – pure Australia. It was beautiful, we saw sunrise every morning for 88 days and as tough as some days were it was one of the most liberating things I have ever done. I saw kangaroos in the wild, I lived on a boat and despite the tough times it never really seemed that long. And it meant I had achieved something I never imagined I could.
Now I’m back in Melbourne, winter has fully hit and I don’t want to be here anymore. This is far from the Australian dream I imagined. It’s cold and the sun doesn’t shine everyday any more. There’s no job by the sea or surf session every week. Instead I’m surrounded by this expensive city that is voted the most liveable place in the world, feeling very out of place. Four months I have been here now, and four months feels long enough of being in the same place, with the same job. Fighting the same issues, day in and day out. Despite what everyone tells you there aren’t a lot of jobs around unless you want to fundraise or have hospitality experience. You might get paid well for it but you have to work bloody hard for that money with a manager who thinks they are so far above you. If you want a job that might be a stepping stone in your career then it’s pretty much a no as soon as you tell them what visa you have. You could be the most suitable person in the world but due to the rule of only being able to work for one company for six months people just say no.
When I dreamed of coming to Australia I dreamed of living by the sea, working in a café on the beach front and being able to enjoy the sunshine every day. Instead I’m stuck in the middle of winter with a job I don’t really like feeling trapped in a life I wished for. Maybe I should have come here just to travel, but I would never have known what was on offer if I hadn’t have looked. Yes the wages are good, but the cost of living is high. Maybe Melbourne was the wrong choice of city but who wouldn’t want to experience the most liveable city in the world. Maybe if I wasn’t so stubborn at putting up with my job and had just gotten a new one when things first went wrong I might be happier now. There are so many maybes, but none of them are regrets. Travelling is all about finding yourself and understanding what you want from life. I have certainly learnt that I don’t want a job where I waste my day and work all night. I’ve learnt to appreciate sunrise and the hope it brings for the day. I’ve learnt that I love to take ‘trips’ not travelling full time. Be that a day trip or six weeks up the East Coast. I like doing something and not wanting it to end rather than spending too long doing the same thing and beginning to hate it. Most of all I’ve learnt that I like to be really financially secure. I like to know when my next pay cheque is coming and how much it will be. I hate knowing how many weeks’ worth of money I have left until I’m broke. It all makes me feel very stressed.
Australia is the land of dreams to any girl who loves the sea and wishes she could surf like the chicks in all the films. Unfortunately that isn’t the life that the majority live. Melbourne is certainly not the city of sun, sea and surf it is more food, drink and events. The East Coast is everything I dreamed of and more but had I have lived there would I be saying the same thing now? It’s easy to say all of this in hindsight but the one thing I do know is I should never try and stay somewhere for more than three months. It’s okay to get stuck in a rut and hate the UK from time to time but when I’ve chosen to travel and live half way around the world I don’t feel it’s okay to live somewhere and get stuck in a rut counting down the days till you leave. I wouldn’t change the way I have done things throughout my duration of being in Australia, if I hadn’t have done them I would never have known. But I would do things differently if I choose to come back to work in Australia or choose to work abroad in another country.
All in all I am looking for that perfect balance of life, work, travel and I’m yet to get it right but that’s okay I’m only 22.
What a great honest post – sucks that Melbourne wasn’t the dream you hoped for though.
I’ve quickly learnt on my travels that if I don’t like somewhere I leave very quickly – you’re on holiday after all!
I was super lucky to land a job AND work for accomodation in Byron Bay whilst in Oz and it was amazing.
Keep searching…everything happens for a reason and you’ll find what you’re looking for if you want it bad enough 🙂
Hi Jodie, sorry to hear that you’re not enjoying Melbourne as much as you thought you would. If you were after sun and surf, then definitely the NSW or QLD coast would have been much better suited for the dream. I live by the water here in Sydney after being in London and I honestly really love it, though I still miss Londontown of course! It’s a different lifestyle altogether and maybe you’ll give Australia another chance to find that dream again? 🙂
Wow, thanks for sharing where you are at. I have never done long term travel but I can appreciate how tough it must be when you are trying to earn an income as you travel. I have always taken the option of working full time and doing both local travel and an occasional bigger trip as I can afford the time and money. Best of luck for the rest of your visit to Australia, it is expensive but it is worth it. If you haven’t been to an AFL match on a windy cold Melbourne night then now is the time to do it!
Sorry to hear that your experience in Melbourne has not been on par with what you thought it would be. The dream of surf and sun in Australia really only holds true on the coasts – NSW, QLD or even WA. I hope you give Australia another chance one day – it’s hard to find proper work on a WHV, but in the future, maybe try to come on a work transfer from the UK. That would be a whole new, different experience altogether! Good luck, Jodie!
Upon my recent trip home (Gold Coast) I did some math and concluded it is actually cheaper to travel (through most countries) than it is to just live in Australia and do nothing. Its scary and Melbourne is the most expensive city of all here in Aus. Good on you for doing it though, and I am stoked you are proud that you did too. As you know, it is too easy to stay in one place back in your home town (in the UK) forever, oh yea and its insanely boring! As they say “If you never go you will never know”
Hi Jodi – thank you for this incredibly honest post. Know that your writing here really touched me as I’m going through a similar phase in my life (:
So many things you said here resonated with me – the feeling of “hating the life you wished for”, of dreaming eternally about something only to finally have it and find it so different from what you imagined it to be, the restlessness of staying in one place too long & feeling like you shoulda, coulda woulda been better off taking a different path & making different choices.
The need to feel financially secure is something I feel too – I would love to travel long-term but I want a secure (passive) income when I do so & I would hate living paycheck to paycheck & scrimping all the time!
All I can say is keep your chin up, know that you’re very brave for even having gone out there to try and create the dream life for yourself! You’ll never know what you want if you don’t realise what you don’t want along the way right? I know its tough but hang in there & I’m sure you’ll go on to find the right balance for you & write the rest of your travel story!
Please also know that you’re not alone – I’m 23 this year and on the cusp of starting my legal career. Literally just finished day 1 of the bar exam prep course and whilst I know the corporate life ahead of me is the trajectory I’ve always wanted & a privileged one, my heart feels so heavy because it’s just not what I want anymore. Four years ago, this would have been a dream come true but now I want to renounce it all and travel the world. But the need for financial security is important to me & I think I’ll stick it out abit more before I can find a sustainable way to do so (:
Sorry for this sprawling comment – key point: You’re not alone! You’re brave for going down under! And I wish you all the best of luck! I’m sure you’ll figure it out 😀
Love, Sarah from Singapore!
Wow rare I read a blog post ont he actual day it’s posted..
Anyways, thanks for this. It felt very personal and honest, as I’m sure it was. I’ll be heading to Melbourne October 15th and am lucky enough to have friends to stay with for a few months. Not all too sure what our plan will be other than to find work for a while so we can survive in the city. While I too dream of sun, sand, and fun I at times worry that I will find myself in a similar predicament (longing for the sea, hating my job) just as I kind of am here in the States. Especially since, as you mentioned, Melbourne is not the city for the fun in the sun/beach dream. None the less, I’m excited to experience this all for myself so I can figure out, or at least get a better idea, of what I want out of travel, myself, and from Australia.
I must say though it’s great that you can look at these situations in a pretty positive light and not think to much about the “what-ifs” and regrets. Good luck to you on the rest of your journey and I hope Melbourne treats you well!
I completely understand where you’re coming from. I am road tripping across Canada, my home country which I’d never properly seen, at the moment, my boyfriend and I have been on the road for just over two months. It added up quick, too. As much as I had planned to avoid it, we ended up in Ontario for what will be 7 weeks. Even though we’ve left regularly to explore surrounding areas, we keep ending up back in Ontario for commitments (such as weddings, and house sitting) and we both agree we are not city people. I looked forward to the stationary life of 2 weeks house sitting, but now I’m not making the most of it doing all the things I thought I would be. And it’s all in my head, I know it. I like financial security – not knowing how long what we have will last is unnerving (especially when we’ve had to replace things like a window due to some idiot smashing ours to break in).
No regrets though, it is all worth it.
I totally understand where you are coming from. I am totally going through a similar situation with my life in China and i’m coming to terms with the idea that i’m not totally happy here and that I need to do something about it.
I hope you have fun planning your next adventures – mini adventures seem to be more exciting!
Jodie this is such an honest post. I really hope life in Melbourne looks up for you. xx
Love the honesty. There’s a lot of truth in that. I live in Oz, and I love it, but it does totally get glorified. At the end of the day, there is no such thing as an endless holiday!
no surf in Melbourne! If you are a beach chick you should have chosen an East Coast city. I hope you’ll give Sydney a go sometime xxx