My Australian adventures – joining the dots

Toowoomba and Sunshine coast – September to December 2016

TREVISO, 12-06-2016 – I’ve spent these last three years in Italy working as an English teacher. I honestly do not enjoy being a teacher…I always find myself repeating the same things over and over again. I don’t want to be a teacher for the rest of my life, no way. I want to work in a much more dynamic environment, and I also want to be able to express my love for Australia, what this land means to me, not only teach its language. No wonder my thoughts (and my heart) keep taking me back there.

TREVISO, 30-08-2016 – I’ve booked my flight to Brisbane, nice! The Skilled Visa I was granted a few months ago allows me to live and work in Australia for four years and eventually get a permanent visa. I want to try to find a job as a teacher somewhere in Queensland. Who knows, I might even find a job as an Italian teacher so that I can keep a connection with my own country. I have to admit that something has changed and that I am approaching this new Australian adventure with a totally different attitude and a much deeper awareness compared to a few years ago. Because I am now able to appreciate Italy in its wholeness, and I can see it through different eyes. I have always run away from it, not able to grasp its endless beauty and its charm. What Italy offers cannot be found anywhere else in the world… history, culture, good food, passion, art, traditions…

TOOWOOMBA, 05-10-2016 – I’ve found a job as a tutor and a casual teacher in a boarding school in Toowomba, the Glennie School. It’s a great experience, a unique opportunity for me to see how an Australian boarding school is structured and how it works. It’s all a big surprise, we never finish to learn from our life experiences! However, I don’t think this is going to last that long because it’s not what I really want to do in my life. These days, more than ever before, I feel deeply rooted in my Italian origins. I am proud of them and I want to make Australians understand what my country represents for me and I also want to share my passion for “il Bel Paese” with them. But I’ve realised that there is only one way to do it: you have to go to Italy and live it, breathe it, experience it, taste it, admire it, smell it, feel it, hear it!

SUNSHINE COAST, 02.12.2016 – I’ve started to think of a project that can somehow link my love for both countries, Italy and Australia. A project that can make them closer, that can bring a little bit of Italy into Australia and viceversa. It’s just an idea for now, difficult to imagine and difficult to explain…maybe one day something will come out of it…

…and then that day finally arrived!

OzItaly is the outcome of this inspiring journey

My Australian adventure – episode 12

Darwin – February to December 2012

DARWIN, 04.03.2012 – I love it here, this place is so wild! I live in a beautiful house with a swimming pool (many houses in Darwin have one), with a lot of green lush tropical vegetation around. I have to say that Darwin’s weather is quite challenging. The wet season with its high temperatures and extremely high levels of humidity is really putting my body and my mind to the test. Moreover, the university course is so intense and so demanding. They rely a lot on the internet and I feel hopeless…everything is online and I am not used to all this. It’s going to be a tough year, but let’s not worry too much now, one thing at a time.

DARWIN, 20.04.2012 – Things are much more difficult than what I expected, I miss my family and my friends so much. Sometimes I feel so sad and I would love to get some support, someone who cooks for me, someone who listens to my worries, someone who makes me think of other things. Assignments to submit, books to read, deadlines…my mind is never relaxed!

Luckily, I spend my free time riding my bike in the bush or at the beach with Mala, my flatmates’ dog. When she swims in the ocean I always worry that a crocodile might get her! You cannot swim in the water here, it is not safe at all, especially in this season when the water levels rise and salties might reach the sea and be lurking in the water. Scary! See? I can never totally relax!

DARWIN, 10.06.2012 – I’ve just booked a flight to Italy, I need a break. And I also need money! So I’m going to be working in an English summer camp while I am there, moneywise it will be a relief. No holidays for me this year, I’m afraid!

DARWIN, 15.07.2012 – I’ve managed to find another place to stay. When I was in Italy my previous flatmates told me that I couldn’t stay there any longer, so I’ve been looking for another house since I came back to Australia. It’s been so stressful! By the end of the month I’ll start teaching at school and I’m a bit nervous. Apparently, this is one of the toughest schools in Darwin…

DARWIN, 04.09.2012 – At school I have to deal with children who come from a low socio-economical background, sometimes neglected by parents, sometimes difficult to handle. It’s not easy at all. Also, here children do not use textbooks and teachers have to plan their lessons from scratch, following a curriculum I am not familiar with. I keep being told “If you can teach at Millner, you can teach anywhere” by the other teachers…yes, right. Sometimes I feel so lonely and so worried, but I want to complete my studies at all costs.

DARWIN, 26.10.2012 – The build-up has arrived. It’s the season that precedes the wet season, when the humidity reaches its maximum levels and temperatures are constantly about 30°. I only have to resist another couple of months and then I will be back in Italy eating tortellini, pizza, gnocchi, lasagne, and panettone! This thought is what keeps me going.

DARWIN, 05.11.2012 – That’s it! I’ve managed to get a Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning. Yes, I am a primary school teacher now!

My Australian adventure – episode 11

Yass – December 2011 to February 2012

YASS, 13.12.2011 – I’m having the best time of my life! I spend all day looking after horses. I don’t get to ride as much as I would like as these are pretty wild horses, but still. It’s all day grooming them, feeding them, taking them for a swim in the pond, chasing them sometimes (they tend to be a bit rebellious when you are in their paddock and you try to get them!). There are also three big dogs here, and a cat. Susan, the woman who owns this place, lives here on her own and she always hosts volunteers to help her keep the place tidy and look after the animals. We always have meals alltogether and in the evening we all go to bed quite early. There aren’t any other houses around here, the nearest pub is in town and you need a car to get there. Mind you, I am enjoying these quiet nights sitting outside and simply watching the stars!

YASS, 26.12.2011 – It’s Christmas, and it’s summer. So weird! This is my third Christmas downunder. Yesterday we had a big lunch alltogether and everyone cooked something from their own country. There are volunteers from UK, from France, and from Sweden. It was a nice Christmas day although I kept thinking of all the delicious food that my family would be eating in Italy and all the gatherings that I was missing out. What’s Christmas without lasagne, arrosto di maiale, tortellini, panettone, pandoro, muset… (and looooong discussions about politics)?

By the way, there will be no big party for New Year’s Eve because nearly everybody is leaving to go to see the fireworks in Sydney. I saw them a couple of years ago so it’s going to be a quite “Welcome 2012!” for me.

YASS, 16.01.2012 – Today I spent the day riding a quad up and down the hills and it was so much fun. It’s not too difficult as you don’t need to worry about the traffic or driving on the wrong side of the road. Also, I’ve learned to drive a big four-wheel drive with a manual gearbox. I never thought I would be able to do it and now I feel very proud of myself. I sometimes go to town for some shopping which is not that complicated anyway as the town is not very big.

YASS, 21.01.2012 – This evening we took the ponies out. We’re trying to get them used to respond to long reins because Susan wants to put a harness on them eventually. I’ve learnt how to harness the ponies for driving, but I must admit that when we are out for some exercise, it all becomes quite difficult. My pony’s name is Pumpkin and he always stops because he wants to eat!!! The other pony is a mini stallion, and his name is Stunner. He is such a character! He’s always neighing and making sure that everybody knows that he’s coming. By the way, because there is still no harness, we have to run…I have found my way to keep fit!

YASS, 31.01.2012 – I’ve booked my flight to Darwin, just a few more days and I’ll be in the Tropics, with the wet season to its fullest. Initially I will be staying in a hostel, and then we’ll see. Hopefully I’ll find a sharehouse within a few days. I am a bit over hostels, I’ve had enough of sharing my room with people that I don’t know, sometimes noisy, sometimes stinky, sometimes messy. Now I want my own space, I need it.

My Australian adventure – episode 10

Sydney – August to December 2011

TREVISO, 03.07.2011 – That’s it, I’ve booked my flight to Sydney. I want to find a way to stay in Australia forever, I cannot see myself living here in Italy, no way. I want to live in the bush, with horses and wild nature around me. And I want to be able to wear summer clothes all year round…and go to the beach! No more cold grey Italian winters for me, thank you. I’ve planned to stay in Sydney for a few weeks until I find out a way to migrate to Australia permanently.

SYDNEY, 10.09.2011 – Sydney is a big city, and big cities are not really my cup of tea. It takes me so long to travel from one place to another one and the weather hasn’t been great lately as it’s always raining. I have to admit that my life is not super exciting at the moment. I always plan to go out at the weekends but in the end I’m too tired and lazy to do it. I share the flat with Francesca (another Italian girl), and a young couple (Monica from Italy and her boyfriend from Mexico). Luckily, sometimes they invite some friends over for dinner and it’s so nice to have a chat all together and share our experiences! We’re all a bit confused about our future, but at the same time we’re all ready to challenge ourselves and see what happens. Everyone should be given the chance to live and work in a foreign country for a period of their life, I believe it can only be extremely useful and enriching.

SYDNEY, 14.11.2011 – I’ve decided to enrol in a course in Darwin and get a qualification as a teacher. It seems that a Grad Dip will help me get a permanent visa one day. Darwin is not a huge city and, more than anything else, it’s never cold! There are just two seasons, the dry season (from May until October), and the wet season (from November to April). I am looking forward to starting this new adventure. Darwin is still in my heart, it’s all so wild up there and I believe it suits me! However, university courses here in Australia don’t start until February and I therefore have a few months left before moving to Darwin. I am now looking for a job with horses, I absolutely need to detox from the city lifestyle.

SYDNEY, 03.12.2011 – It’s my last day here in Sydney, tomorrow I will travel to Yass and work and live in a ranch. They need someone to look after the horses and ride them, it’s going to be a lot of fun! I will have to say goodbye to my friends here and I feel a bit sorry, but the time has come for me to move on and take a step into the unknown again.

My Australian adventure – episode 9

Kimberley WA and Byron Bay – September 2008 to January 2009

EL QUESTRO STATION, 14.09.2008 – I’ve finished working in the Steakhouse (the campsite restaurant) and I’m now helping the girl who looks after the horses, Kate. I don’t get paid for it, but I can stay here for free. Last week they took here six thoroughbreads. They are all ex-race horses and get scared even when they see a butterfly. That’s why they can’t put visitors on them for now, it’s too dangerous. I get to ride them everyday, we take them into the bush and show them its spooky creatures (well, that’s how horses see them!). I love it. Sometimes I’m a bit scared too, like the other day. We went out for a ride with three horses, it was me, Kate and Tom, a cowboy who’s used to riding rodeo horses. We bumped into wild cattle. And there was this bull staring at us ready to charge us. We stopped and Tom said in the most relaxed manner: “Look at him, he’s a crazy bull, look at him. If he starts charging us, just go and gallop!”. Helloooooo?!?!?!? As if it was a normal thing to do for me…gallopping on an ex-race horse in the middle of the bush on an uneven ground full of trees and shrubs. Luckily nothing happened and I am still alive.

DIGGER’S REST, 05.10.2008 – I’m here visiting my friend Rita for a few days before heading back to Byron Bay. This morning we went mustering, what a great experience! We went out on very well trained horses and took the cattle in. I didn’t have much to do as my horse knew perfectly what he had to do and everytime he would see a cow moving away from the herd, he would start chasing it with me on his back wondering what was going on.

DIGGER’S REST, 08.10.20008 – This place is truly spectacular…land of cows, crocodiles, snakes, horses, kangaroos, birds, boab trees, red earth. I sleep in a swag , all alone with only the sky and its stars to keep me company. And what a sky…I guess this is one of the best places on earth where you can admire the sky in all its “unfiltered” natural beauty. I couldn’t ask for more, I feel blessed.

BYRON BAY, 10.11.2008 – That’s it, I’m back to the wild empty stunning beaches. I’ve found a job as a cleaner (a hotel right in front of the beach) so that in the morning I work and in the afternoon I can go to the beach. It’s the perfect life. The only but huge problem I have here are visitors at night. They all want to come and say “Hello!” but they aren’t welcome at all. Cockraoaches and huntsman spiders in particular seem to love me so much that they cannot stay more than one night without coming to see me. I am terrified by these insects, so terrified that I walk around the house constantly checking the walls. Fortunately, this time of the year there’s also a spectacular show on. Whales have arrived and everyday I walk to the lighthouse and enjoy their natural shows, the best shows I have ever seen in my life! It is nice to see them playing in the water. I sometimes wish I was a whale, they have no idea of how crazy life on the mainland can be!

My Australian adventure – episode 8

Kimberley WA – August to October 2008

EL QUESTRO STATION, 11.08.2008 – And finally here I am, at El Questro Station. I came here as a volunteer and the agreement was a few hours of work a day in exchange for full board and accommodation. However, that didn’t last long as they needed a kitchenhand at the Steakhouse (the campsite restaurant) and I asked if I could take the job. I enjoy working with the team, we laugh a lot. The only thing I don’t like is that I work until late at night and I often find myself alone washing pots and pans. My motivation is the strikingly beautiful night sky waiting for me…I’ve never seen so many stars and the Milky Way is clearly visible. We often sit all together to watch this natural wonder and chat about our days at the station.

I am sleeping in a tent, but I was told I will be moved into a “donga” as soon as there’s one available as temperatures are increasing and it is going to be too hot in the tent. I like sleeping ia a tent, though, it makes you feel deeply connected with this wild and poweful Aboriginal land.

EL QUESTRO STATION, 27.08.2008 – In my free time I explore waterfalls and gorges. It is a magic atmosphere. Some of them can be reached walking, others can only be reached by helicopter, or “chopper” as they call it over here. This morning I had my first flight, such a weird feeling. The helicopter was so small and there were no doors! I mean, no doors! Just a plain seatbelt to keep you “safe”. And it’s not like flying by plane at all, because the helicopter is not stable and moves a lot. Anyway, I’ve survived and I can now say that it was worth the experience! One of my favourite places is definitely Zebedee springs, a series of warm waterholes…I love going there at sunset. We also went there at night once, it was soooo dark that we nearly got lost.

Oh, they also have horses here! I often go for a ride, I reckon that exploring the area on a horseback is probably one of the best ways. No noise, just you, your horse, and the nature around you. We ride in the middle of the bush and sometimes I’m worried about snakes. Yet I was told that snakes can feel the vibrations in the ground from far away and they keep off. I want to believe that.

My Australian adventure – episode 7

Byron Bay – February to July 2008

TREVISO, 20.01.2008 – Yaaaaaay! I’ve been granted a second working holiday visa so off we go, Australia I’m coming! My dream has come true…

BYRON BAY, 22.02.2008 – I cannot believe that I am here in Australia again, and in Byron Bay! This place is absolutely enchanting. I missed the ocean and its waves, the peaceful long walks on the beach, the squeaky sand, and the kookabarra laugh! It’s my first day here and I feel overwhelmed by emotions! Now I need to make some plans…I don’t want to travel, I’ve already been almost everywhere in Australia therefore I think I will stay here for a while. But we’ll see.

BYRON BAY, 03.04.2008 – I’ve found a room in a beautiful share house on top of a hill not far from Tallow Beach. At night I can hear the ocean from my bedroom…priceless! And I’ve also found a job as a cleaner at a caravan park. I get to clean the bungalows that are right at the beach so I can admire the ocean even while I’m working! I work in the morning, and go to the beach in the afternoon. I like spending time with myself and just chilling out. But at the week-end I always go to concerts and gigs at the Beach Hotel or the Railway. There is such a joyful atmosphere, everybody dances and has fun. This is something I will always admire about Australians, their social life is always so rich and entertaining!

BYRON BAY, 26.06.2008 – It’s getting a bit chilly down here and maybe the time has come for me to take a break from Byron Bay (this sounds non sense, I know!). The thing is…I want to be in the wilderness, I want to see more of the untouched Australia. Last week I contacted El Questro station in the Kimberley and apparently they are always looking for volunteers…very very interesting indeed.

My Australian adventure – episode 6

East Coast, Brisbane to Sydney – December 2006 to January 2007

NELSON BAY, 14.12.2006 – When I flew back to Brisbane from Perth, I put an ad on the notice board of the hostel where I was staying because I needed a lift to Sydney. I met a German guy who had a van and decided to travel with him. I still hadn’t experienced a trip on a van, awesome! We stopped at Gold Coast, and also in Byron Bay where I saw dolphins for the first time. That vision really touched my heart…wild and free playing in the water, how wonderful. Then we continued travelling South, it was all about waking up every morning, getting off the van and enjoying the view of those spectacular wild pristine beaches. Nelson Bay with its sand dunes is the last stop before I get to Sydney. The hostel here is very nice, we have koalas in the garden! At night it’s all a busy coming and going and we can hear them making their calls…I didn’t even know that koalas could emit a sound!

GREAT OCEAN ROAD, 07.01.2007 – After a super crowded New Year’s Eve in Sydney I travelled to Melbourne. I didn’t stay long there, I have become a bit allergic to big cities recently. Anyway, now I am travelling along The Great Ocean Road, I couldn’t possibly fly back to Italy without ticking it off my list. The ocean, the views, the powerful nature…what a trip! These are the last few days for me in Australia and I feel so sad. I don’t want to leave Australia, my heart is totally broken. I’ll be back to the European winter and it’s going to be dark, cold, grey. The only thought that makes me feel better is that I know that I’ll find a way to come back, I’m sure I will!

My Australian adventure – episode 5

Coral Bay to Esperance – October to December 2006

KALBARRI, 21.10.2006 – Last week I arrived in Kalbarri and visited the Kalbarri National Park. Nature here is incredibly beautiful, wild, inspiring. Australians do not understand how lucky they are to be living in such an amazing place. The only thing I hated were flies, there were thousands of them and they would not leave me alone! I was then supposed to continue my trip down to Perth, but I actually ended up staying here a bit longer. There was a notice on the board of the hostel which said: We are looking for experienced riders who can look after the horses and can take visitors out for a ride. I couldn’t resist, I rang them straight away. So here I am, in this peaceful lovely ranch sharing my life with horses, cockatoos, kangaroos, emus, a cat (Wingy is her name) that sleeps in my bedroom, and a small funny dog. In the morning I go out in the bush and I call the horses in to feed them. In the afternoon I saddle them up and off we go for a ride. There are about 30 of them, and there is a male “boss”, Beau, and a female “boss”, Millie. She is my favourite because she has a strong personality, just like me!

KALBARRY, 25.10.2006 – This morning I found such a strange creature just outside my bedroom door. It was a mixture between a lizard and a snake, but without a tail. It was so weird. I couldn’t understand if it was a deformed reptile or a proper creature itself. Later in the day, the ranch owner told me that they are called blue-tongue lizards and that they aren’t dangerous. New discoveries. Also, I’ve learned that I always have to check my boots before putting them on…I got really scared the other day because, as I put my foot into the boot, I felt someting soft and cold. I shouted and took out my foot immediately. It was just frog, but I was told to be careful as it could have been a spider or, even worse, a snake!

PERTH, 14.11.2006 – Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever and, after litres and litres of teardrops, I finally left Kalbarri, heading South. On my way to Perth I stopped at a beautiful beach which wasn’t made of sand but shells! And I also stopped at the Pinnacles, amazing natural limestone structures that were formed thousands of years ago, after the sea receded and left deposits of sea shells.

ESPERANCE, 25.11.2006 – The South West coast of Australia is impressively beautiful. Margaret River, Augusta, Albany, all great spots. But when I arrived here I thought : “My Gosh, Australia never finishes to surprise me!”. The crystal-clear water of these strikingly white, squeaky, sandy beaches was better than a swimming pool! And the sand, it’s like flour!

My Australian adventure – episode 4

Darwin to Coral Bay – September to October 2006

80 MILE BEACH, 03.10.2006 – When I was in Darwin I realised that I just couldn’t stop travelling and opted for the big lap of Australia. So off I went to explore the West Coast. I celebrated my 28th birthday on the bus, travelling from Darwin to Kununurra. What a night! I got woken up a few times by a big bang. At the beginning I couldn’t understand what it was, but I soon realised that each bang meant that a kangaroo had been hit…it was like being in a video game, “hit the kangaroo!”. I actually felt so sorry for them…but apparently this is something that happens regularly on these roads.

80 mile beach is a wild beach that, as the name indicates, stretches for 80 miles. The West Coast seems to be much wilder than the East coast, not a lot of tourists around and not a lot of towns along the coast either. I was told that, besides crocodiles, these waters also are infested by fish stones. If you accidentally step on one of them, they will inject their venom deep inside your foot and this will cause severe pain, heart failure and even death if left untreated. I had never heard of it before, as if the list of Australian deadly animals hadn’t been long enough!

KARIJINI NATIONAL PARK, 05.10.2006 – Yesterday I visited Karijkini National Park, undoubtedly one of the highlights of Western Australia so far, with its waterfalls, its waterholes, its canyons, and its red rocks. Again, I could feel the power of this land, being inhabited by Aboriginal people for centuries. And while hiking I could just hear the sound of water and the birds singing…their concerts are something that cannot go unnoticed when you are in Australia!

CORAL BAY, 09.10.2006 – This morning I went on a boat trip. We went to see manta rays near the reef. I didn’t resist long in the water when I saw them…they were swimming too fast and I couldn’t keep up with them! Also, the snorkel didn’t help because I couldn’t breathe properly and the water was chilly, way too chilly for me! It was only when they took us to more tranquil waters and I met turtles that I started feeling at ease. Swimming with them was so much fun! The beaches here are wild and you can ride a quad for kilom etres without bumping into any sort of civilization. It makes you feel like you are the only human being left on earth!