I don’t have spiritual experiences often. As a fellow without a religion and not much spirituality (in contrast to my devout Catholic wife- and no, we’ve never quarrelled about faith), this comes as no surprise. So imagine my shock when my tour bus rounds the corner, and there is a massive rock sitting in the middle of nowhere, and I feel this definite stirring. Profound is closest I can come to describing it, and people who are religious with whom I have discussed the experience agree it sounds like a spiritual one. OK, fine. My first trip to Australia.
Since then, I have returned three times- twice with my now-wife. The word pilgrimage comes to mind to describe my journeys to Oz, as they do hold a significant meaning in my heart, but my trips are not exactly spiritual in nature (are they? Maybe one of you with more spirit can help me on this one). Once Susan and I had been dating for a while, and I thought she was pretty cool, I decided she needed to see the big rock in the middle of the desert (Uluru, which means gathering place in a local Aboriginal dialect) before I could propose to her. When we came back from our first trip together- most of which was spent in Tasmania- I felt like this.
Of course everyone wants to know “Why Australia?” I could list all its qualities, but it doesn’t capture the essence of why, and fundamentally many places in the world (like New Zealand) offer similar qualities without all native fauna wanting to kill you. Imagine the first car you loved (not the crappy one you had to drive when you were a teenager)- how fun it was to zip around in, how many memories you had in it, how many great trips you took with it. But of course you put miles on it, and eventually had to sell it (or maybe you crashed it). So you get your next car, which is pretty sweet, but it’s not like the first one. Now imagine if I told you you could have your first car, again and again. That’s what going back to Australia is like for me.
We will be leaving for Tasmania and the Great Ocean Road this week. This trip will be our first one back to Oz since we discovered alcohol tourism, and I expect the experience to be even better. The craft beer revolution has happened relatively recently in Australia, and there are wineries in Tassie which we love, most of which we hope to see again (mmmm, elderflower wine). We’re both excited, looking forward to revisiting some of our old haunts, discovering new ones, and trying out many delicious drinks along the way. I hope you join us as we post from Oz!
-Erik & Susan