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on the run, on my own: the end of the road

It doesn’t feel like all too long ago that I was sitting drafting the first of my Lip articles about travelling Australia on my own. When my travels were stretched out in front of me, it felt like forever, but now that it’s almost over it seems my endless days are numbered.

I can now think of the time I have left in Australia in days, not weeks or months.

For my last fortnight, I wanted to slip one more trip in Australia and I thought, what better way to do it than end where I began? Which is why I’m currently WWOOFing on a vineyard about an hour away from Melbourne.

Image: Jo Williams

Image: Jo Williams

Some of my fondest, and certainly most unique, memories of my time in Australia have been while I was WWOOFing. And this place hasn’t disappointed me. Back at home, I used to work in arts and heritage but for the past two days, I’ve been scrambling on my hands and knees, armed only with a pair of scissors, picking over eight tons of Chardonnay grapes.

Image: Jo Williams

Image: Jo Williams

Not on my own, of course, but I reckon I picked at least five of those tons.

I certainly feel like I can justify every glass of Chardonnay I ever drink in the future.

It was hard work but it was amazing and so fascinating. The family I’m staying with are gorgeous people and extremely open with sharing their knowledge of grapes and winemaking, and they are more than happy to answer my barrage of questions.

How do you determine the percentage of alcohol? Why do some vineyards have roses at the end if the rows? What’s the difference between mechanical picking and hand picking grapes? How many times should one swirl their glass of wine before supping?

I was also put to work doing odd jobs around the house – painting, oiling doors, digging holes, putting nets on the vines (using biodegradable bread clips – ingenious!) and driving the golf buggy to scare away the birds that have a taste for grapes!

Between these ten days and my Margaret River wine tour, I have a feeling I’ll be a wine expert before I know it!

The trouble is, because I’m so busy, the days are flying by and before I know it, I’ll be home. I have massively mixed feelings about going back. Of course I’m excited to see my friends and family (and meeting my new niece Erin!) but I’m also bone-shatteringly scared.

But then I stop myself worrying before I spiral out of control. I came travelling for a reason; the reason being to get out of routine, to see something different and to meet new people. And I am completely satisfied that I have accomplished that. This year has been the most challenging and amazing year of my life and I find it difficult to think that I will ever regret it, even if it’s hard to readjust back to “real: life. I feel proud of myself for seeing this through and for doing it exactly the way I wanted to, without being swayed by how others travel or how I think I should travel. I travelled how I wanted to travel and that changed weekly, but it was fine. I believe this trip was the best trip I could hope for and it was exactly what I wanted and what I needed.

I don’t regret a single thing and I know I’m very lucky to have that.

I don’t have any disillusions, and I know it will be hard to go home. But it will be different, and different isn’t always a bad thing.

My mentality has changed a lot while I’ve been here but when you spend a lot of time in your own company, that’s bound to happen. I don’t really believe that I “found” myself when I was travelling, but then again, I don’t feel like I was ever lost. That’s not to say that I haven’t learnt a lot about myself: my strengths (greater than I thought), my limitations (fewer than I thought) and that I can’t control everything that happens to me – but that’s OK.

Whereas I’m sad to be leaving Australia, I’m excited to go home because I truly believe it will be another part of the adventure. No one said that my adventure had to end when I went back home, did they?

Australia will always have a strong hold on my heart and, when I think of all the things I’ve seen, the things I’ve experienced and the beautiful people that I’ve met, I know I’ll be back. Hey, I still have Queensland and the ACT to explore!

But until then, Oz, goodbye, and I’ll see you soon…

Take a look back at Jo’s Aussie adventure here.

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