We really love this category. You cannot imagine the inspiration we get from these personal stories. And especially now during the Holidays. We hope you get as inspired as we are.
So let us quickly introduce Matthijs en Nicole. They are traveling Australia since August 2014 and they almost circled the entire country. You can follow them via http://www.polarsteps.com/FacingDreams. Enjoy!
Why did you go and life in another country for a year?
It has been a longtime wish for the both of us to go and see more of this world and experience other things than everyday life in the Netherlands. Something different then spending time in a country as a tourist but really experience life in another culture, use another language and come in contact with new people who let you see new sides of yourself. Have a new adventure every day and challenge yourself outside your comfort zone. The world has so many things to show us and we want to enjoy them while we are healthy.
What does living in Australia brings you?
Australia has a living culture similar to the Netherlands. This means we can easily adapt to every day life, work and travel. And because they speak English we can easily travel across the country. It is also a safe country to travel in. The best about Australia is that it offers the opportunity to get a working-holiday visa pretty easy. So that is why we wanted to start here.
We also want to see more than only the pretty sceneries in a country. We want to experience what it means to spend a long time living and working in a country. This means we can get to know the local community. At this moment we have worked and lived in 8 different places in Australia. From a big city culture like Sydney to a farm in the middle of the Australian Outback. Australia is an enormous country with a wide variety in climates and landscapes which will offers you different views during your trip.
Wat do we need to see in Australia?
Oef, where to start! We started in Sydney and we are traveling with the clock around the island. You need to see the entire country. We still need to see the area between Cairns and Sydney but from what we have seen till now these are the must-sees:
- In New South Wales: Royal National Park; sandy white beaches at Jervis Bay. We took 1,5 months to travel from Sydney to Melbourne and it is absolutely worth it to stay a day or so in every town along the coast. This is practically what we did.
- In Victoria: View Koala’s by the Great Ocean Road, hiking in Genoa Peak, Body Boarding in Philip Island, climb Mount Oberon in Wilsons Promotory, more hiking and see loads of Kangaroos in the Grampians.
- In South Australia: See the abandoned Koonalda Roadhouse on Nullarbor Plain (the perfect camping place nobody knows), West Australia Tunnel Creek and the hot springs of El Questro.
- The Kimberley: See the Cristal clear waters in Turquoise Bay (Cape Range National Park), Purnululu NP (the Bungle Bungles), Lucky Bay, and the other beaches in Esperance, the gorges in Kalbarri and Karajini NP, beer tasting in Little Creatures in Freemantle, camping on Calbe Beach in Broome and watch the Milky Way in the outback of WA.
- Northern Territory: Explore the Wetlands of Kakadu NP, see the waterfalls in Litchfield NP and the Bittersprings in Mataranka.
- And in Queensland we can recommend the Daintree Rainforest.
There are a lot of beautiful place which are not on a map. Do not be afraid to take a turn to see where it goes!
What is the best city in Australia and what are its must-sees?
There is quite a debate going on in Australia if this is Melbourne of Sydney. People see Sydney as the blond sexy bimbo and Melbourne as the brunette hip sister. Sydney has gotten a special place in our hart because we have lived there for 4 months. There are so many beautiful beaches, a lot to do in the summer months and so many place to see a sunset. Manly and Watson’s Bay are our favorites. A nice place to spend the day is hipster suburb Newtown. You will see locals wearing no shoes, bra’s or cosmetics. The Coastal walk between Bondi and Coogee is a great walk.
This next tip is not really a backpackers budget tip but ‘the Grounds of Alexandria’, where we worked, is a very special place to have lunch or dinner! This place is a bar/restaurant/flower with a beautiful organic garden where they partly grow there own vegetables. There is even a house pig which they named Kevin Bacon. Sydney is our absolute favorite till now and this is because of its variety.
Who or what do you miss the most in the Netherlands?
Tricky question! Of course we miss our family and friends! But because communicating with home is much easier nowadays due tot Whatsapp, Face-time or Skype, everybody is just a phonecall away. And this makes missing them a little bit easier. We cannot even imagine writing letters home and travel like they did in the old days.
We also miss our team sports. The adrenaline during matches or supporting our FC in the Veste. Regarding Dutch food we are like children in a candy store when we come across a Dutch food stand where we can eat a ‘kroket’ or ‘frikanel speciaal’. But we do not have an addiction for licorice, sprinkles or ‘stroopwafels’. We can even buy ‘speculaas’ is the stores over here and you will need to get use to getting no sprinkles in the supermarket, Sander. In the end we miss our dear friends and family the most. We would like to call upon the stragglers back home to come over because you will not regret it.
What is the most difficult part about living or traveling abroad?
We unregistered out of the Netherlands when we left. Organizing stuff abroad is sometimes more difficult then before. For example, doing our taxes was terrible last year. Thank god we left this all behind. Second it is almost always hard to find cheap and healthy food of dinner. Vegetables and fruits are really expensive in Australia but you will learn to be creative and till now we both are still healthy! So I would say we are doing this right.
Where do you see yourself living in 5 years?
You meet a lot of people when traveling. For example, wanderlust nomads who have not seen their home country for years or people who left everything behind to live abroad with the love of their life. And when you are traveling you think a lot about where you would like to life or about what makes you happy? Nicky wants to gain more experience as a psychologist in the Netherlands so we will return to the Netherlands. We started traveling right after her graduating. But the travel bug has hit us hard and we both agree that we will not rule out living abroad and that we are both very happy near water. So perhaps you will find us living somewhere in a little shack on a beach?
What have you learned from your stay abroad?
A part of your behavior depends on your environment. Just look at the differences between cultures. When you leave your familiar surroundings, you will find out what your strengths and weaknesses are and which values you really find important. You will be on your own, without parents and friends who influence you. Even we learned new things about each other (even after being together for eleven years!). At home, we both find doing things on our own important. For example; having our own sports and activities. But also doing things together we find important. Now we are on each others lip 24/7 and then you cannot cool off in another room when you have an argument. Where will you go to then? Stand outside the car… No, you cannot do this. It took some efforts to acknowledge the fact that we are both stubborn. And by traveling together, we have learned what is worth discussing and what is not. We now understand each other better and what makes the other person tick.
Last but not least.. What do we need to keep in mind when we are traveling?
We expect that you are talking about traveling in Australia? In that case keep in mind that there are different seasons. Before we left for Australia we were a little aware of this fact but we never expected that we had to remove ice from our car windows, haha! And sometimes plans change along the way. We wanted to see Australia in one year but at this point we are here for 15 months already and we are working again during the hot ‘wet season’ so that we have money to see the rest of the East coast.
Roughly the best time to see the southern part of Australia is during Summer and Autumn and the northern half during Winter and Spring. Also avoid stinger season in Northern Queensland and if you want to snorkel with Whale Sharks in Exmouth you have to be there between April and September. So make sure what you want to see, study the climates but do not plan to much.
Furthermore keep in mind that the distances are in no way comparable with Europe. It is so easy to underestimate the distances! Villages and cities are, especially in Western Australia, hours apart.
Our final tips are: WikiCamps and PetrolSpy are your best friends along the way. They will save you a lot of money on expensive campsites and gasoline! Also never say no when people offer you something. You have no idea how many beautiful places we have seen and experiences we had because of an unexpected offer from a local. But always follow your feeling in these situations.
Wow, Matthijs and Nicole, now we cannot wait anymore! Thanks.
“Friends abroad” is inspired on “Bloggers on the road” of Hasta la Proxima.