Done, but not dusted?

Hello, Australia!

Hello, Australia!

Well, not only am I back in Australia now, but I have been for two whole weeks, and I don’t even have any flights booked at any stage in the future!  After two years of always having at least one flight booked on the immediate horizon, this is quite the change.

It’s a good change, though.  I still love travel, but loving something doesn’t mean it has to be the constant focus of your every waking moment.  (“Dear teenager, Congratulations on your new boyfriend/girlfriend.  I’m sure he/she is wonderful.  However, before we start endlessly re-watching American Beauty for dating advice …”)

So it’s time to settle down again, and let my enjoyment of globe-trotting take its place as something to look forward to for some well-earned holidays – once they’re well-earned, obviously – not something to dominate my every day.

As I write this, I’m sitting on in my parents’ place, looking out over a truly South Australian landscape of sunny yellow grassy valleys near Victor Harbor.  I have my CV open in another window – the job hunt has started already.  (If you’re here because you found my name at the top of a CV in your inbox and Google brought you this way – hi, and welcome!  You won’t find any IT-related posts here, I’m afraid, but the ones about the Galápagos Islands and the Himalayas are some of my favourites, if those sorts of things pique your interest at all.)  I’m starting the morning with a nice cup of tea, appreciating for the fifteenth morning in a row how nice it is to have a kettle and a stocked pantry and a dishwasher I can put my cup in afterwards.  And, since Australia won the cricket already yesterday, I’m wondering what else I need to do with the day.  Getting used to the fact that I don’t have TripAdvisor or a Lonely Planet or yet another collection of new dorm friends to give me suggestions…

For regular readers still wondering about the rest of my trip, post South America, don’t worry – it’s still coming.  Job-hunting and apartment-finding, etc., obviously have my focus right now.  But memories of Rio, of the US, and of Central America are still fresh, and itchy fingers still have stories to tell.  All in good time.

Now, where’s that coffee machine?  Ah, still in the same spot it’s been the whole last two weeks.  Excellent!

Back ‘home’ in Adelaide

One of the benefits of being a shiftless unemployed travelling hobo is that I don’t have to deal with many of the day-to-day boredoms that inhabit you regular people’s lives.  In particular, I don’t have to fill out many forms.  But there’s a few occasions when I do, and every time, I come across this weird existential moment when I get to the bit marked ‘residential address’.  Because I’m on a longer-than-one-year trip around the world.  I don’t really have a ‘residential address’.  I just don’t have a home.  This is slightly irritating in the sense that I have to invent something for the purpose of filling out the form.

(It’s also somewhat amusing in many circumstances.  I had to apply for a replacement birth certificate recently, for example.  For reasons best known to the State of Victoria, that requires a document that proves my residential address – in this case, a certified copy of my driver’s licence.  I can’t help but wonder…  Am I supposed to be not entitled to a birth certificate if I don’t have a residential address?  Are travellers not supposed to be able to provide proof of the circumstances of their birth?  In a vaguely similar vein, if you work for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, you should know that your employer is a right royal pain in the arse, and that your ‘online specialists’ understanding of Australian tax law is wrong.  Despite what the idiots who specified your computer systems would have you think, it is indeed possible to be a non-resident of Australia for tax purposes, and yet not to have a permanent overseas residential address.  Oh, also your call centre staff lie to your customers.  Bastards.)

But anyway, my (somewhat belaboured) point is that I don’t really have a home.  But to the extent that I would call anywhere ‘home’, it would be South Australia.  More specifically, if I’m heading ‘home’, I’m heading to my parents’ place just out of Victor Harbor, a bit over an hour south of Adelaide.

And for most of December, I was back ‘home’.  After our months in South-East Asia, and a brief couple of days back in Singapore again, suddenly, it was time to get on a plane back to Australia.  To stop travelling for three weeks, and to spend my first Christmas back in Oz since I moved to London in the beginning of 2009.  And, to my surprise, to be greeted at the airport at stupid o’clock in the morning when my flight arrived by not just my parents, but also my sister and her fiancé – the two who were the reason for me coming back at all, to help celebrate their wedding in late December.  And, apparently, to help them move in to their new apartment that afternoon.

Now, I can’t imagine that reading about my time back in Adelaide will be of much interest to many readers here.  Either you know me, and if you’re interested in my day-to-day life, you’ll already know (via Facebook or in person or whatever), or you don’t, in which case you just won’t care.  And anyway, I spent most of my time catching up with friends and family and relaxing – none of which is (a) interesting to anyone other than me, nor (b) any of your business!

But there’s three things I do want to cover here.

First, I was back in Australia for my sister Hanika’s graduation and, more importantly, wedding.  Once again, congratulations Hanika and Seb, who had a beautiful ceremony up at Bird in Hand Winery on what couldn’t have been a more stunning evening in late December.

Hanika and Seb on a deservedly beautiful evening

Hanika and Seb on a deservedly beautiful evening


And, despite my presence in it, one of the cuter photos from the wedding night:  me and my cousin William

And, despite my presence in it, one of the cuter photos from the wedding night: me and my cousin William

Second, how nice are these sunset photos, taken on my parents’ farm down near Victor Harbor?

It wouldn’t be an Australia photo without a kangaroo (centre-left), would it?

It wouldn’t be an Australia photo without a kangaroo (centre-left), would it?

Sunset in Hindmarsh Valley

Sunset in Hindmarsh Valley

And third, for those of you who don’t care about me personally and are just reading here for the travel stuff, my one and only travel tip from this time I was down at Adelaide:  Adelaide Central Markets.  Go for a wander around, and especially go for breakfast.  I was dumb enough not to take any photos when I was there – I was too busy wolfing down my breakfast and enjoying Keith and Sarah’s company – but I won’t let that dampen the enthusiasm with which I urge you to expect that the markets will be the best random wandering-around experience you can find in Adelaide.  Better than most markets in most cities I’ve been to in the world.  He says with no hint of bias whatsoever…

(That’s probably the best way to end this post, but I can’t help add that there are actually other reasons to head to Adelaide if you’re travelling, too.  Most non-Australians don’t believe me when I tell them, but South Australia makes the best red wine in the world, and you’ll be richly rewarded if you take the time to head out to the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale for some food and drink while you’re in the area.  And if you’re heading through and I’m around, chances are I’ll be more than happy to help you find the best spots in either of those regions for some good food and a glass of great red!)