I can’t believe after nine months spent in the most eye opening, soul awakening place – it’s official, I’m leaving Coral Bay. I arrived with plans to stay a week, fairly solid plans with money spent on coaches, flights and accommodation for the next step, yet still we kept ourselves open for change. Since then I’ve shared some of the most unique, wild and life affirming experiences with a true friend and soul mate. We uprooted our lives for this time in Australia and braced ourselves for the change, as for most travelers it’s a genuine step into the unknown and so far we’ve taken almost every step in synchronicity and I do mean literally every step, but more so, we’ve taken just one step at a time.
The beauty of travel is its unbelievable ability to open you up to new experiences, people and perspectives, you open-up to far more than you could have imagined and become more tolerant than ever (especially when it comes to hostels – or is that me being unbelievably British?) This place has been everything I didn’t realise I needed, taking me from my comfort zone and into great adventures, unforgettable experiences and wonderful people.
That being said, it’s a rare occurrence to meet a person who imprints themselves onto you for life, especially as you get past your early twenties and can’t be bothered with making best friends at every turn, far too much bloody effort. But I was lucky enough to meet one on my way through; this one caught me unaware. Now the third wheel in our tricycle, who I can only imagine couldn’t help but be attracted to the mischief Rach and I were up to on our last day and night in Coral Bay, in fact, he was so bewildered by how upset we were about leaving he suggested we chuck out everything we had planned. Well we all know how that turned out, a few ciders on the beach later and Aaron became the reason we actually changed our tickets, cancelled our flights and let fate decide if we should stay a little longer. Arguably he’s also the cause of copious amounts of mayhem; the lyrics, “red, red wine, makes me forget” have never been so poignant.
So we stayed for an undecided amount of time and over the past nine months I’ve worked for four different companies, had ten different job roles within them and moved home six and a half times. I found new friends at every turn, some of whom I would call family and a special lady Rachel and I care enough to call our wife, the youngest and arguably the most energetic of the three of us this trip wouldn’t have been the same without her and her missions, family dinners and 4WD.
The bay has a way of making extraordinary things happen on a daily basis. We started as umpa lumpas(that’s the name for those who work for accommodation at the backies), we were then adopted by Bayview for six months and rescued from having to leave the bay once more by Ningaloo Reef Resort. To top it off, I’ve spent the last two months working for Ningaloo Reef Dive, which means I’ve been lucky enough to embrace the Ningaloo Reef in its entirety as a snorkel guide. Yep, I’ve come full circle in the Coral Bay circle of life, from a tourist to a crew member welcoming new tourists to the Ningaloo Reef, the beauty of showing them everything I still find so magical has made the final weeks here more wonderful and exciting than I could’ve hoped for.
When you make any big life decision with someone who knows you inside out it undoubtedly makes it easier, in this case easier to say goodbye to family and friends and pack up your life, career and extended wardrobe (goodbye beautiful shoes!) It’s priceless, the gift of travelling with someone who knows you to your core; and for me that’s Rach. We both stepped into Australia with no plans, no expectations and if I’m honest – no clue! Yet, I can’t imagine it working out any more perfectly, we’ve jumped fearlessly into the ocean and emerged more awake and alive than ever. Grabbing personal fears by the balls, though perhaps a little reluctantly at first, we got the hang of unemployment, regaining the ability the embrace even the most awful situations with enthusiasm as per a nineteen year old and having no set plan for any day. The only problem now is that going back to anything less than this will be, in the long run, unsatisfactory and a waste of effort, you can’t come all this way and discover that life can work on this basic, wonderful and engaging level and then be at all happy to then return to the 9-5 you used to dread.
So, here comes the next challenge and one I owe to myself to grab by the balls. I am so sad to leave, but I’m happy I stayed whilst I could, this place is magical. If living here has proven anything thing to me, it is that you are as young, as capable and as happy as you choose to be. Adventure really does await, you just need to find it.
I arrived with my long standing, soul mate whom I stumbled upon one fateful day in Camden and I leave with a new soul mate who stumbled into me with his fins once or twice (definitely thrice) one day on a whale shark boat, that’s the beauty of life… it never turns out how you planned, but you should, at the very least, plan to surprise yourself.
To quote Robert Browning, ‘Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?’