Friday, October 14, 2011

I found the Australia I was looking for

When I arrived to the land of Oz nearly four years ago, I must admit that I was a wee bit disappointed. Where were the beautiful beaches? The Aussie twang? The kangaroos?

I admit that all my years of preconceived expectations of a land I had never set foot on, fed to me by movies and Fosters beer commercials was difficult to shed, and much like many Americans before me, I wanted to see all the stereotypes I had 'signed up to to experience' when we made the conscious decision to move to Australia. family and I saw no tin roofed outback huts like the ones in the kids claymation TV show Koala Brothers; no kangaroos crossed our path (until this year); no one even said "g'day" to me until i visited Queensland. Was I disappointed? Fer darn skippy I was!

As time passed, so too I began to notice Aussie jewels which I had been looking for. One by one I have been collecting and storing them in my memory banks and snapping pictures of the physical ones, so to almost document their existence. I sill haven't seen an outback tin roofed hut, but I'm sure eventually I will...but I have watched a documentary about beer in Australia (quite interesting) and found out that Fosters is only one brand of literally thousands of Aussie beers, but because of Paul Hogan's 80s TV commercials, it gained huge popularity in the UK and US, making it THE 'Australian beer'...I've yet to find it on the shelves here, by the way.

I could go on and on...but I'll focus on what I finally found last weekend, which has been truly Australian for me. The Great Ocean Road. Wow!

We decided to finally go and see the famous 12 Apostles (huge rocks along side of Victorian coastline by Port Campbell). I wasn't expecting much really. I had seen them in photos and thought..."yeah...they're rocks, no biggie."

We drove from Melbourne to Geelong by highway, then from there we took The Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay. The road is windy and made me very nauseous. Arriving to our hotel was an extremely welcome moment. I was dreading the second half of our journey. "I came to see rocks!?!" I thought to myself.

The next day (my birthday) we went on a marvelous four hour fishing trip. A life changing experience, one might even venture in declaring. It convinced me to never ever go on another boat in my life. EVER! I was violently ill the entire time, I was on that 'dingy' of a boat, and we only caught one youngest fished herself a flathead.

Again, the sight of our hotel was a welcome one.

Finally, with much trepidation and anxiety, we embarked on our journey to the freakin' rocks!

The road was as windy, if not more so, on the way to the Apostles (the hotel manager lied), and I was certain that I was going to lose my lunch once again.

Finally, in the hopes to catch some fresh air, I stopped at a little rest area. I noticed people snapping pictures, and heading down some steep steps. Much like lemmings heading to their doom, our little clan followed the others down the stairs, only focusing on NOT falling, and ignoring what was on the beach below.

Once at the bottom we were mesmerized, to say the least. The sand was a bright orange, the water a turquoise blue, the waves massive, and wayyyy on the right a majestic rock as large as a NY skyscraper standing...beckoning us.

The last time I experienced something like this was when I visited the Grand Canyon for the first time. Simply amazing. Spine chilling even. Yes! I'm not joking.

The air smelled sweet and the sea mist, though frizzing my hair out, was also lovely.

I was experiencing the Australia from the tourist brochures. That which 'they' promise you to see when you embark down under. Raw natural beauty unparalleled anywhere else on our blue marble.

In that moment, I could not stop smiling. I was happy to be in Australia.

That feeling was interrupted by: "mommy, I need to go to the bathroom," which we found just half a mile down the road, at the official tourist information, where the great big busses stop, and the hordes of tourists pile out to see the rest of the Apostles.

Those...though also majestic and beautiful; their impact was dimmed by the plethora of rude and pushy tourists who were climbing over one another in the quest of the 'perfect' picture of the natural wonders.

No worries...I choose to only remember my first glimpse.