I just spent the most amazing week in the Australian bush
It was a very successful 6 days, sleeping under a tarp, and meeting some awesome people.
Going into the camp I was fairly apprehensive about the style of camping it is. I mean I love to camp don’t get me wrong but I was pretty nervous about the whole no tent situation and the length of the trip.
Day 1: We arrived at Mt Alexander with all our gear and food for the week. No coolers allowed so only fresh food for the first few days! We played a lot of team building and such games to start the day off, then broke into our groups and set up camp! I quickly realized how truly cold it actually does get at night, quite a shocker!
Day 2: Mountain Biking
We woke up bright and early and set out for our first activity of the week, mountain biking! I was pretty stoked since thankfully mountain biking is familiar to me. We were taught some basic skills in the morning since most people had not mountain biked before and I had to get used to the brakes being backwards which was really weird! There ended up being some pretty sweet single tracks to go on and everyone learned really quick so the group of us were able to ride some sweet trails! It was so awesome being back on a bike and on the trails. Although these trails definitely did not compare to anything at Albion or in Palgrave unfortunately. Ended up back at camp for the evening. Enjoyed some lovely pesto pasta for dinner and had a night navigation activity. We were given bearings and had to follow a compass and find the checkpoints in the woods. My team sucked and we didn’t end up finding a single one a
Day 3: Canoeing
Woke up to a little bit of rain but thankfully I snagged a good spot under the tarp and stayed pretty dry! Set off to canoeing for the day where I was under the impression that we had to go swimming at some point and I was really dreading this. I love swimming but not when its cold out and the water is cold and I have limited clothes and no towel. Luckily I managed to stay dry! Learned some basic canoeing skills in the morning, played some games, one that got really aggressive and had people jumping out of their canoes. Learned some more skills like how to steer which is actually something I’ve always wanted to learn how to do! Definitely prefer being at the back of the boat steering than at the front I decided. Played some more games then packed it up for the day. It was nice to be on the water and it ended up being a nice and sunny day but I just wish we could’ve actually gone for a nice paddle at some point. Eventually made our way back to base where we completed 2 initiative tasks then had dinner (veggie stir fry with rice).
Day 4: Rock Climbing
Best. Day… I can’t say that enough. I am officially hooked on rock climbing. Started the morning off climbing where there was 4 climbs we could do. They were probably fairly easy climbs but I had no problem completing them at all! I was surprised at how easily I was able to pick it up. I think one of the main things I was able to do that helped a ton is that I wasn’t afraid at all about the height or about not being safe while doing it. In the afternoon we had the opportunity to abseil which was sweet! Hurt the hands a bit but super fun, I just wish it had been higher so I could’ve felt a little nervous! But nope I was not phased at all by it. We then did what they called a scramble where we had to free climb up a little ways then go through a narrow area in the rocks then had the option to climb through a crack in the rocks or up and around. Being first and being the daredevil I am I decided to give the crack a go. Successfully completed this then got to abseil down. Was then given the opportunity to do it again so I obviously did, and this time I climbed around then abseiled down the other side of the rock. I could’ve done it all probably 5 more times it was that much fun. I definitely want to get back out there and start rock climbing for real, it was the biggest thrill. The day then ended and it was time to eat dinner (gnocchi). We were then informed we had another night activity. I was really hoping it wasn’t similar to the other nights since it was pretty lame. Instead this night they were driving us out to a location where our group leaders then had a map and compass to find our way back to camp. Sounds alright right? But no they drove us out at 9pm (so dark) in the pouring rain. While trying to remain as optimistic as possible we started the trek back to camp. Our leaders screwed up a little bit and we travelled for a while in the wrong direction. We ended up on the other side of the mountain and then had to climb straight up to the peak in order to get back. Fun… not. We did eventually make it though which is pretty satisfying! At one point in the walk we stopped in the middle of the bush and had life chats in the dark, which was such a neat experience. At around 12:30 am we made the trek over to the road and took the road back so it would be quicker. It was pretty neat though, we walked down the road all linking arms in the pouring rain with all our torches off and basically just sang songs. We made it back to base around 1:30am then hit the hay attempting to stay as dry as possible throughout the night. Lets just say that was definitely an interesting experience.
Day 4: Bushwalking
Woke up throughout the night to some torrential downpours. Thank god I actually stayed very dry! Aside from my clothes from the night before everything was pretty dry. Got ready in the still pouring rain and prepared for a day of bushwalking. Thankfully due to the long walk the night before and the rain we were getting the leaders of the walk decided to shorten our walk. In and out of rain all day we hiked up Mt Alexander. We had lunch at the peak and played a ton of games. On the hike back down I was finally able to realize that wow I am in Australia on a camping trip for school in the middle of a forest. Like how crazy is that! We eventually wandered back to base and enjoyed some dinner. We were supposed to have pizza on english muffins and pitas. After eating the english muffins we realized the pitas had gone mouldy so we made the decision to make the backup bag of pasta we brought. Thank god for thinking ahead! We had a nice big group campfire in the evening eventually went to bed and I fell right asleep. I think I had some of the best sleeps since coming to Australia this week.
We woke up bright and early and enjoyed a nice sunrise. Me and the other Canadians then had to miss out on todays activities as it was worked out for us to be driven to the train station so we could take the train home, shower and make it back to Footscray for a exchange luncheon with other Sport and Exercise Science exchange students and all the students going on exchange next semester. We were able to meet the group of Aussies coming to Western which is pretty neat! Talking to them about Western though made me miss home a little bit and made me realize how fortunate I am to be where I am at home and to have this opportunity to be across the world on exchange at the moment. We then got to go to tour the Aegis Oval; home of the North Melbourne Kangaroos AFL team. This was pretty neat but I ended up leaving early since I couldn’t stay awake and was very unprepared to have a footy lesson in the afternoon.
Overall, this trip has been an incredible experience and I cannot wait until the next one! I truly realized how fortunate I am to be where I am and doing all of the things I am doing right now. I have probably done and seen more in the past 2 months then I have in my whole life. This week I think I was finally able to relax about life and appreciate the laid back nature of the Aussie lifestyle. At home everything is such high stress, school especially and I think it is very much common belief that you finish high school, start uni, graduate, get a job or go to grad school then get a job. But where does life fit in with this? Yes, I most definitely want to continue on with school and my studies but what route I am going to take is still very much unknown for me. Whether I will know in a year or so when it is time to decide what I do post undergrad I don’t know if I will know at that point. That used to be a scary thought to me but I now realize that that doesn’t need to be scary at all. It means there are just so many possibilities out there and I do not need to be in a rush to decide what path is for me. Maybe I take a year off and travel and see more of the world, work for a year etc. The options are endless and nothing needs to be decided now. Crazy how spending some days in the middle of nowhere can make you realize things like this! Right now I am just going to continue to live in the moment and take in all that I can while I am away for the time being.