I was a bit nervous about coming to Australia. Not because of any of the wild creatures it holds, but because that’s the furthest distance I’ve ever travelled.
You see, even though I love love love to travel and it’s my job and I do it a lot, I’m actually kind of scared of flying.
There, I said it.
It makes no sense; flying is such a normal thing and it really shouldn’t phase me, but I dread hopping on a plane. That’s why coming to Australia was such a big deal for me – I would have to take 4 consecutive flights if I chose to come, and it would involve two whole days of travel. I wasn’t sure I could do it.
When Queensland first invited Sam and me to come and experience the region, my first reaction was to suggest Sam go by himself.
“Oh, you know, I’ll just stay here in Europe and visit some of my friends…”
And he looked at me like, “What? Are you out of your mind?”
He talked some sense into me and I agreed to go, and that’s how last week I found myself flying from Frankfurt to Abu Dhabi, to Singapore, to Brisbane, to Townsville.
There may have been a mild breakdown on the plane, but I made it. I took the longest journey of my life and I arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, with a giant smile plastered on my face. I faced my fear and came to Australia.
Little did I know, that facing my fears would become an ongoing theme for the rest of my time in Queensland.
As it turns out, our itinerary held more than one activity that made me question how much bravery I had in me, but then I decided I would stop saying ‘no’ and instead try to handle these new experiences to the best of my ability.
Here’s a look at some of the things the past week held in store:
Holding a python around my neck
While I was staying on Magnetic Island, I got to experience a Bush Tucker Breakfast at the Bungalow Bay Koala Village. Bush tucker, or bushfood is the name given to food native to Australia which was consumed by the Australian Aborigines, and this morning’s breakfast came with the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Australia’s most beloved creatures.
There were White Cockatoos, sleepy koalas, and…snakes?!
While eating my breakfast of lamb loins, mackerel, and toad in a hole, I noticed that the ranger was making her way around with a long slithering creature in hand. And then she came towards me.
“It’s a python so it’s non-venemous.”
Did I want to hold a snake?
I took a deep breath. When in Australia…
“Ummm, okay, I think I can do it…. Or maybe I’ll just touch it first…. Aghhh, okay, no, that feels weird. Now I don’t know if I can do it…
I pointed to a stranger, “He can go first.”
He gladly took the snake, but then it was my turn again.
“I’ve been around a lot of pythons. I keep one at home, and this is the gentlest creature I have ever encountered,” the ranger reassured me. “Look,” she said as the put the snake’s head in her mouth, “it’s super gentle.”
I stared at her in mild horror, but I let her put the snake over one shoulder, and then the other, and then I was holding a snake around my neck.
“Smile for the camera!” Sam said, but all I could do was muster up the face you see in this picture.
Yup, that day I held a python! I doubt I would have done this anywhere else, but there’s something about Australia that mustered up my inner Crocodile Dundee.
Riding the Ocean Jet, a.k.a the Roller Coaster on the Sea
The Ocean Jet is a dream come true for adrenaline junkies. Picture a jet boat with 880 horsepower which can reach speeds of up to 90 kilometers an hour out on the water. The thing is built to race! Oh yeah, and their brochure says this is “not for wimps!” What was I getting myself in to? This is the girl who went to Disney World when she was 12 and was too chicken to go on most of the roller coasters.
Down at the marina we met our boat driver who talked us through the basics before we hopped into the jet boat. We climbed into sleek racing seats, strapped ourselves in, pumped up the music, and set out to the choppy Pacific for some action!
Oh my gosh, does that jet boat live up to it’s name! As we picked up speed, the boat started to bounce on the water and my stomach dropped every time we got some air. I felt like I was on a roller coaster. And then we started with the zig-zagging, the sharp turns, and the boat spins that flailed my legs from side to side while my body flew back against the seat. I was so nervous that all I could do was laugh as I stared over at Sam wide-eyed and with my mouth agape. It was terrifying, but a little fun, I have to admit!
In the end I lasted about 20 minutes out on the water… I had eaten a Mexican burrito for breakfast, which was totally a bad move on my part. (Don’t worry guys, I managed to hold it in!)
While I can’t say I’d want to do this again – leave me on solid ground please! – I am glad I went out there and tried it.
If you’re looking for speed on the Gold Coast, it doesn’t get any faster than this.
Catching some waves in the Pacific Ocean
The original plan was to take a surf board out on the water here in Broadbeach, but as it turns out I’m not a strong enough swimmer to quite tackle the Australian waves.
What can I say? You’re looking at a Canadian girl who spent her childhood in the Argentinean Sierras. I mastered the art of climbing trees, hopping on a horse bareback, and building traps in the forest. Water? That’s not something I was quite so familiar with, unless we’re talking about the stuff coming out of the tap.
While I have since spent quite a bit of time on beaches, this has usually involved the still turquoise waters of the Caribbean, or the baby waves you get on a windy day in the Mediterranean Sea.
For me, going out into the Pacific was scary. Especially when the waves were swirling up dark clouds of sand, and pounding the shoreline with barreling walls of white foam.
I knew my instructor had made right choice when he showed up with a boogie board instead of a surf board. Baby steps.
I took the board and held it over my head, and worked my way out into the water trying to hop over incoming waves while others crashed into me. I was totally out of my comfort zone but I went out into the surf.
Then, when I saw a wave that didn’t look too intimidating, I took it and I rode it all the way to the shoreline. Probably not very impressive to any of the surfers out there, but for me it was a pretty big deal.
I caught a few more waves on the boogie board after that, and even got completely pounded by another that came out of nowhere. I swallowed my fair share of salt water and got some sand burns in the process, but I also faced my fear of water; that to me meant more than learning to surf.
After our afternoon boogie boarding I turned to my instructor and asked, “Are the waters normally this rough here in the Gold Coast?”
He looked at me and answered, “Nah, this is considered a pretty calm day.”
Oh, Australia. You’re so badass!
Next week I bid this country farewell, but I’m leaving a little braver than I arrived.
Have you ever forced yourself to face your fears on a trip?