After traveling the world, Emma Jackson has realised the importance of exploring her own country; Australia. Read on to find out why you should travel local.
Every summer for the past 3 years, I have packed up all my necessities (AKA: overpacked, shamefully), gathered up the majority of my savings (AKA: not a lot) and squeezed myself into a sweaty economy class seat of an overseas flight.
I’ve spent months away from home in places like India, Mexico and the US, all in an effort to do something radical and take myself as far out of my comfort zone as I possibly could. And apologies in advance if you find this kind of talk self-righteous, but I really do find myself lost for words when I try to summarise what these trips meant for me. I “can’t even”, I guess.
However, there has always been one thought that keeps nagging at me before, during and after these trips and that, is how little of Australia I’ve experienced.
I’ve managed to hit up some of the major Aussie cities and tourist hotspots in my 22 years, as many of us have, but I certainly haven’t traveled around the country enough to gloat about it.
But lately, I’ve come to the realisation that I haven’t experienced nearly as many places that international tourists have. Being raised in Sydney means the only place I can sort of gloat about knowing well is the Royal National Park – but even that is so vast I haven’t been able to fully explore it yet.
Australia is vast as hell…
I know we all joke about how there’s a whole lot of nothing as we go inland, but there’s a whole lot of something, too. The Kimberley region, the Whitsunday Islands, the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru – even Tasmania, you guys!
These are all incredible travel destinations on the hit list of international tourists, but they’ve somehow evaded mine?! It’s outrageous. I am literally writing this as I lay on the rocks, beside the ocean, at a quiet cove beach in Cronulla. The water is fucking aqua, it is fucking beautiful. Yet I’ve spent thousands of dollars, and months of my time running away from here every year. What an asshole!!
I guess maybe I should go easy on myself. This is familiar, this is home – it’s my comfort zone. But what I’ve failed to realise until now is that adventure and exploration can be found at home too. Airports, hostels, language barriers and cultural shock aren’t the only recipe for adventure.
“Whether you Instagram it or not – who really cares. Just make the most out of your spare time the way you would if you were a tourist. Grab dinner in a different area, take a different route to work, swim at different beaches, hike in different parks, try wild camping… the list is goddamn endless.”
Lately I’ve been trying to encapsulate that feeling of being a tourist or a foreigner, even in my own city.
When you first arrive in a foreign place, you sit there in the back of a cab, or rickshaw – or maybe it’s an Uber these days – with eyes wide open, fresh like a kid’s, absorbing everything you see.
Assessing it all, making observations without bias, maybe even romanticising it a little too much. The romanticising might be what makes everyone stuck at home hate your travel posts on social media, but try having that same attitude towards your own home! Romanticise the shit out of it!
Whether you Instagram it or not – who really cares. Just make the most out of your spare time the way you would if you were a tourist. Grab dinner in a different area, take a different route to work, swim at different beaches, hike in different parks, try wild camping… the list is goddamn endless.
(I feel like all the seniors trekking it around the country with caravans attached to the back of their Toyota Prado’s might be on to something…)
Choose Your Own (Australian) Adventure
So whether you feel like following suit and opting for a long haul trip across the outback, or just embarking on some smaller scale microadventure’s with the help of We Are Explorers, know that you’re making a rad decision by prioritising local travel over the more exotic (and expensive) options.
And anyway, with the threat of future President Trump looming over the free world*, putting in some effort to come to understand, know and respect the place we call home might not be such a bad idea at the moment.
Not finished musing about the Australian wilderness? Try these pieces…