Eight months could be a long time to be anywhere but in Melbourne it feels like it has hardly been any time at all. Walking through the lanes of the CBD last night I realized how much I still have to see and do in this city I’ve come to call home. Unfortunately my time here has to come to an end if I’m ever to return for another stint of exploring and enjoying everything else that’s on offer.
It’s a new feeling, ending a trip without heading home. This time the end is just the next stage of something bigger. It dawned on me as I walked into work yesterday morning that it could be another 9 months before I step foot in another office to start a day of work. With a little bit of luck I’ll be starting work on a farm in the next week or two and then comes September and I’ll be off for the next adventure in South East Asia.
I’m not doing too much looking forward at the moment, I’ve spent a not insignificant amount of time reflecting on the last eight months. I can still remember getting off the Skybus at Southern Cross station on a miserable spring day. It was cold, grey and I was exhausted. I definitely wasn’t in the right frame of mind to start exploring but I ended up on a bench next to the Yarra and read for hours, waiting until I could check into Nomads and pass out.
I remember the first few weeks, ambling about the city not really knowing where to go or what to do in between a search for a job and a flat to share. It seemed that almost immediately I scored a position in a call centre where I would meet an unlikely mix of backpackers and locals. The following months were defined by $5 pints at the Vic on a Friday night, beers on the beach and chatter of how to extend our stay.
All of a sudden Christmas arrived and with it the promise of a change of scenery. Off I went, first to Brisbane and Bribie Island to stay with my wonderful hosts and old family friends; the Vosses. Beautiful weather, the chance to explore some more of the country and the long awaited stay in Sydney for New Year’s Eve. A return to hostels and one of the best crowds anyone could ask for meant that the return to Melbourne was one filled with post-travel blues.
A new job in document control, the six month mark and an unexpected feeling of contentment followed the new year. It sometimes felt like I’d been in Melbourne for years, other times I could have only been here for a couple of days. I settled into routine, took great pleasure in trips to the Queen Victoria Market and sampling many of the fine beers from the microbreweries across Victoria and Australia. I dreamed of going home and doing everything I could to get back to Melbourne as soon as possible. I wanted to be here, everything seemed to be just right.
Just like that, the end was drawing near and I knew that I’d have to begin the long put off search for regional work. The challenge was finding the motivation to leave Melbourne in order to make sure that I could come back. Eventually things fell in to place and I booked a room at a working hostel in Mildura and I began counting down the days until I had to leave. So here we are then, less than one day to go.
I’m so pleased that I’ve managed to do what I have, to build a life of my own, half way around the world and on my own. The thing is, that’s a fat stinking lie. I’ve not been on my own, not since day one. As always, the people I’ve met along the way have had the biggest influence on me. I’ll get on to those new faces in good time, but first a little ode to the face I’ve known the longest.
My experience in Melbourne would have been a very different affair were it not for my childhood best friend for life; Sarah. From helping me out with a phone and a bank account, to showing me around the city, giving me a place to stay, food on my plate, and bringing me along for nights out and adventures with her wonderful group of friends, I honestly could not have asked for more. Yet still there was more; the man in her life.
It still blows me away that I’ve only known Matt for eight months. He could easily have been a friend from as far back as college and our last evening together drinking whisky while discussing a very interesting and potentially profitable idea (wink wink, nudge nudge) only reinforces my endorsement of Matt as a champion guy. I’m sure all those who know them will attest to the fact that you’d be lucky to meet a nicer, more hospitable couple.
There have been plenty more new faces along the way. Emily and Margriet at Nomads; sharing goonbags before I was too good for goon and the most awkward “house party” anyone has ever turned up too late to. Then there’s the gang from the call centre; James, James, Chris and Rob get special mentions for the constant alcohol consumption be it at a bar or on the beach, there were plenty of good times to be had.
Of course, there is also the people I’ve lived in actual places of residence over the last few months. Brent and Chinny who live in Southbank, Kim and Cam in Richmond have all made interesting and excellent housemates and I’ve enjoyed being fortunate enough to live with them all, no matter how long or short the time we spent together may have been. In the end though, it’s been Elena who’s had the most significant impact on my time in Melbourne.
Taking me out to various bars and restaurants across the city gave me the opportunity to live in Melbourne with a significantly better understanding of the city from a local’s perspective. Adventures into outer suburbs have made me realize quite how vast the metropolitan area of Melbourne is. A weekend away to Mornington Peninsula showed me how diverse Victoria’s landscape is. Safe to say I’m going to miss her quite a lot in my time away from the city.
I’m in no way ready to leave the city, I’ve put off getting out for as long as I possibly can and the only reason I’m going is in order to ensure that I can come back. Melbourne, you’ve been beautiful. People of Melbourne, you’ve been beautiful. I hope that I can come back soon, but until then; goodbye for now!