Sunday, 17 February 2013

Logistics And The Confusion Of Solitude

I think it's the default for Australians that when you say 'travel' they think 'overseas'.

You say "I'm thinking of going travelling again" no-one is going to think you mean anywhere on our own continent.
We don't talk about it like that.

It isn't that Australia isn't freaking huge and that going from one side to the other isn't a pretty impressive undertaking but the language we use tend to downplay it a bit.

It might partly be because when we travel our own country there are a LOT of bits that most people skip unless they're feeling particularly intrepid and enjoy off-roading.

You go for a 10 hour drive in Europe and you will cross several countries, each with their own languages, sights to see, cuisines and places to stay.

You go for a 10 hour drive in Australia and unless you're going around the coast odds are you better have some spare tanks of fuel, a good supply of water, a tent, and possibly an EPIRB.

There are whole chunks of the country that are either too much trouble, too dangerous, or too barren to be of much interest to anyone except scientists and prospectors*.

But wide stretches of sun-baked desert aside, when I think 'I haven't been travelling for a while' what I mean is 'I haven't been overseas for a while'.

I do want to see more of my own country but it has never been a pressing thing.

It'd be a lot easier to do regularly than getting the money together to fly around the globe but it just doesn't pop up as an automatic option.

Unless you're heading to the coast or the slopes, people tend to be a little bit surprised if you say you're heading somewhere on the mainland without a particular reason.

You live in Melbourne and you're heading over to Perth?
You got family over there?
You don't?
There some kind of event you're attending?
There isn't? You're just interested?
And it isn't school/summer holidays?
Oh... OK, fair enough...?

I'm probably overplaying it a bit but if I told my family I was going on a month's trip in Europe by myself, hiring a car and tooling about a bit they'd wish me good luck, tell me to be careful and to bring them back some souvenirs.

If I told them I was going to take my car and go on a roadtrip up the coast by myself they'd be a bit baffled.

Travelling to another continent by yourself = makes perfect sense.

Travelling around our own own country by yourself = a bit odd?

It's something people are supposed to save up until they retire, buy a caravan and become a grey nomad.

The thing that kicked off this train of thought is my wanting to follow through on my camping obsession a bit more regularly and realising that if I actually want to get it done I'll probably have to do it by myself.
My friends and family all have jobs, financial commitments or restrictions, and/or children and pets to wrangle.

Getting them to come camping would involve a lot of forewarning and planning, could by necessity only take place during particular times of the year if I wanted certain people to be able to come and could end up with me banging my head against a wall because argh complicated!

I could probably arrange a few short trips with different people but anything longer would involve a bit of fiddling about.

Same with if I wanted to go and see a bit of Tasmania or Queensland.

People either might not have the money or the freedom to get away.

So if I don't want to hang around and put it off that means I have to look at whether I want to do it by myself.

And the answer to that is... kind of?

There are parts of the country I could quite happily go and see by myself.
Go and spend a week on the beach up on the sunshine coast, go on some nature walks in the rainforests and national parks in New South Wales and Queensland, go camping and checking out various towns in Tasmania.
But there are other parts of the country I'd like to see with other people, some of the cities and certain landmarks or areas.

There are some things that you really want someone to be standing with you for, just so you can turn to them and say 'hey, look at that, isn't it amazing?'

There are other things you can enjoy quite easily by yourself.

There might be a bit of 'how you think things will go' vs 'reality', in that depending on what kind of person you are spending that amount of time by yourself could either be freeing or make you feel a bit anxious.
And the driving involved in a long roadtrip by yourself could either be meditative or brain-meltingly boring.

It's hard to say.

So I've got two tasks in front of me:
  • having a proper think about which parts of my own country I want to explore; and
  • explaining to people that I'm going on a trip by myself and no I've not gone crazy, got depressed, or decided to 'find myself'.
This could take a while.

*Apparently this is becoming a thing again!

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