Backpacking in Oz

The great thing about doing your ‘gap year’ after university is that it doesn’t necessarily have to end.

When I left the UK in May 1992 I had no idea it would be for good. Quite possibly part of the appeal of a Gap Year was that I could put off figuring out what I was going to do with my life for another 12 months. I’m sure I had every intention of returning to England to carry on with a responsible adult life.  I don’t remember much about planning the overseas trip. I knew I wanted to go to Australia. It’s the other side of the world. Far Away. So I stuffed a few clothes, a towel, a couple of pairs of shoes, a guidebook and a camera into my backpack. My family and (then-ex) boyfriend waved me off from Heathrow Airport. I vividly remember the exhilaration I felt when the plane took off, transporting me to my far-away adventure. (And even further away from that sensible office job.)

Bungee jumping in Cairns. What a perfect swan-dive!

My route to Australia included a month-long stopover in Thailand (which turned into two months and also included Malaysia). Of course I did all the usual visits to temples, tuk-tuk rides, trekking, elephant riding, full-moon parties, etc. A couple of spots I loved were Phi Phi Island and Perhentian Kecil in Malaysia. I  was bitten by the Southeast Asia travel bug and knew I would be back for more.

Phi Phi Island

Hanging out on Perhentian Kecil, an idyllic island off peninsula Malaysia's east coast

Asia was so exotic that Australia felt like such a let down when I arrived. But it didn’t take long to get into the next adventure. I packed so much in to the 12 next months and it’s hard to believe that I only visited the Northern Territory and Queensland. (plus a few days in NSW) I camped in Kakadu and the Red Centre (which blew me away), I dived the Great Barrier Reef, I Bungee jumped over tropical rainforest, I worked for three months on banana plantations around Tully, I hitched a ride down the east coast on a yacht, I learned to sail and took my skipper’s ticket, then worked on yachts in the Whitsunday Islands.

Scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef

Uluru. It was then commonly known as Ayers Rock.


Skippering a yacht on charter in the Whitsunday Islands

Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island

Twelve months later and the time was ticking down on my air ticket…. but I was not ready to go home. I totally had the sailing bug and I was determined to continue to another country – but not by plane!

5 thoughts on “Backpacking in Oz

  1. That’s quite an adventure. I wish I did something like this after graduating from high school. I guess there’s always after university! Haha

    I’m looking forward to your future posts. Keep up the good work! 🙂

    • Hi Viv. thanks for checking out my first blog post. I love your blog too. Especially the posts on Malaysia. I’ve been there several times and will cover them in my blog in due course. I’ve been to the Cameroon Highlands years ago but sadly have no photos – so it was nice to see yours. Happy adventuring!

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