Oi Oi Oi!
The end of the semester has come, which means exams are quickly approaching. This past weekend I decided to join the La Trobe Surf Club on a weekend surf trip. I had only signed up for it because a few of my girlfriends were going and I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet some new people and try surfing for the first time. The surf club did not give us any information regarding the trip so we didn’t know where we were going, how far it was, where we were staying, nor did we know where we were surfing. I really don’t think they knew either!
In total there was around 20 of us on the trip. This includes 14 (mostly international) students and 6 members of the surf club. The people who organised the trip are very easy going and have the attitude to go with the flow. I’m not used to this, as I usually like to have some sort of structure and organisation when travelling. We got on the bus Friday evening and our first stop was the bottle shop. Next, we drove for a couple hours until we got into the town of Torquay. This is a small town along the Great Ocean Road that is known for iconic surf brands Quicksilver and Rip Curl. We only arrived when it had gotten dark so we decided to walk towards the beach to find somewhere for dinner (because there was no plan). We ended up finding one restaurant that was open and I had the pleasure of trying Thai food for the first time.
For our first night, we stayed in a backpacker hostel and had a few drinks while chatting and getting to know each other. As the night got later, we got told we had to quiet it down. So we decided to relocate to our bus to listen to music, dance, and be as loud as we wanted to. Because our bus was parked on the side of the highway and was shaking, we had a few locals stop and try to join the party.
After our late night bus party, we woke up in excitement for a full day of surfing. We drove along the Great Ocean Road and got the chance to see the famous Bell’s Beach. This beach is one of Australia’s most famous surfing beaches, attracting professionals every easter for the Rip Curl Pro Surfing competition. This was super cool, as there were heaps of surfers in the water, and tons of tourists taking photos from the car park.
However, this wasn’t where were going to be surfing so we carried on down the Great Ocean Road. This is one of the major attractions that are right outside Melbourne. The entire drive takes approximately 6.5 hours to get to the end, with many surf towns along the way. The road runs along the ocean, winding up and through mountains and through national parks. The views of blue water were like nothing i’ve ever seen before.
We ended up surfing at a place called Anglesea beach. As a first-time surfer, I thought it was going to be super challenging to get up and stand on the board as the wave crashed over you. However, this was not the case. The surf club members taught us the steps on how to get up properly, and then left us to try on our own in the water. In the beginning, I was too afraid to try and stand up but after forcing myself to do it, I managed to stand up successfully. It was such a good feeling to fail but then continue to succeed. It was very similar to learning how snowboard.
After a long day of surfing, we travelled onwards towards Apollo Bay. We spent some time throwing the ball around on the beach during sunset.
Afterwards, we headed back to the hostel to enjoy home cooked meal. This was great – everyone contributed to dinner in some sort and it all went smoothly. The hostel we were staying in was similar to a house and because there were so many of us, we took over the majority of the rooms within it. We finished the night off with some drinks, sitting outside, chatting, and meeting new backpackers. Throughout the night, we met a pair of Belgian backpackers who had only been in Australia for two nights. They were looking for jobs and had ended up in Apollo Bay. We invited them to come surfing with us the following day, as we had room for two more! We were initially supposed to surf in Apollo Bay, but the waves weren’t working out for us so we decided to drive back in the direction of Melbourne, driving the same route again in search for waves.
After a few hours of jamming to good music, fuelling up, and stopping to see koalas… we ended up at the same beach we surfed at on Saturday.
After surfing, we took the belgians back with us to Melbourne. Their initial plan was to find a job and live in Melbourne for a couple of months until travelling around. When we ended up back at campus, I had invited them to stay with me for a few nights while they figure out accommodation and employment. So a week later I still have room mates and have enjoyed some great belgian food.
Overall, it was a great weekend with some great people and I didn’t want it to end. Every time I go away for a week or weekend, I discover something new and begin to plan future trips and travels. This week I just planned another visit to my home stay family and also booked a flight to Tasmania, the island state of Australia. There are some great national parks and beaches there so I couldn’t be more excited to see a new state. As of right now I have visited the Northern Territory, New South Wales, and Victoria. By the end of this journey in Australia I hope to be able to say I have visited at least 5 of the 7 states in the country. With classes finished and my last week of work approaching, I have lots of planning to do. My brother is coming in 23 days to see the land of down under so we are going to visit New Zealand and the whole East Coast of Australia over the span of 5 weeks. I’m extremely excited to have my brother visit so he can meet my friends here and get to see a completely different lifestyle that Australia has to offer.
While abroad during the tragic incident that has occurred in Ottawa this week, I have never felt so proud to be a Canadian. The front page newspapers here in Australia have represented my home country as a strong and close-knit community and it is so comforting to know that this is true. By being across the globe and still noticing how so many Canadians have come together to pay their respects during the highway of heroes, and how fellow Canadians have displayed protection and initiative through this sad and scary time, I can continue to confidentially identify as a proud Canadian even overseas.