Bondi Beach is my blogging destination for today. The wind is a fierce awakening. It whispers rumors of a coming storm and weaves my hair into a knot so ornate, I’ll have to soak it in conditioner tonight.
To paint a picture of my surroundings, I’m seated at a picnic table nestled on the beach’s north shore. Surfers drift in the tide like pieces of driftwood, moving back-and-forth, up-and-down with each wave. The landscape is a vibrant blend of turquoise, emerald, sandstone tan, and white dots.
I have been in Australia for almost two months, interning with Hillsong Church, taking classes with Arcadia University, and managing the release of my latest young adult novel, The Vestige. A busy schedule is the main reason for my infrequent posts. However, I hope to provide insight into my Aussie travels over the next few weeks, even when I return to the States.
Topic of this article: Landscapes of Australia.
Exploring the land has been my favorite aspect of this adventure. I’ve fallen in love with the environment, the aboriginals’ preservative ways, every ray of sunlight that shimmers on the ocean, each strange bird that crosses my path. I have met a fair share of New South Wales’s and Queensland’s inhabitants. This article is meant to share some of those encounters and describe the breathtaking, inspiring world that is Australia.
A few weeks ago, I went on a weekend-long surfing retreat located at a secluded seven-mile stretch of beach. I stayed in a pastel blue shack, wore a wetsuit most of the time, and was cold and sandy for the duration of the trip.
It was perfect.
Barefoot and with a surfboard propped on my head, I followed a narrow footpath through dense, costal forest, over a dune and onto the isolated shore. I sunk my feet into the fine grain sand, gazed down at the distant cliffs, and held the crisp, salty air in my lungs.
That was the second time I fell in love.
What first stole my heart were the cliffs. I spent an entire day hiking along the coast with my roommates. The hike itself should have only taken us a few hours to complete, but we made it last an entire afternoon. We stopped at each beach, swam even though the water was frigid, and dried ourselves on the cliffs’ sunbaked peaks.
I realized as I was perched on one of those heads that I match the sand, the stone. I blend into it. My hair and skin are the same golden shade. My eyes are the color of the vegetation sprouting from the rocky slopes. In that moment, I felt a deep sense of belonging.
After those two, love struck experiences, I immediately began writing my next book.
Queensland was a fresh adventure. I went snorkeling and scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, then hiked through the rainforest and swam in waterfalls. Pillars of coral stood like monoliths on either side of me, swarmed by schools of tropical fish. I cruised through the bustle with a shark and barracuda—I lived to tell the tale. The rainforest offered new wonders, such as leeches all over my feet and colder-than-ice waterfalls. Perfect.
After the squeamishness of knocking bloodsuckers from my skin subsided, I snacked on tea and scones while sitting on a porch that overlooked Queensland pastures and sugarcane fields.
The Blue Mountains were the destination of last weekend’s excursion. I got to see my favorite birds: cockatoos, white ibises, rainbow lorikeets, and kookaburras. However, the trip’s main adrenaline adventure was abseiling. I lowered myself down the side of a 100 foot cliff using a harness and a single rope. Around me, cliffs melted to temperate rainforest valleys, then resumed their rise to a dusk-painted sky. Surrounding them were miles and miles of eucalyptus forest, filled with ash-colored trees and knotted limbs.
I don’t want to forget this place, which is why I’m writing from a picnic table. I’m hoping if I stare at the ocean long enough, the memory of it will be engraved in my mind.
My advice to you: Live fully wherever you are, whether at home, school, or in a foreign country. The world is a beautiful place. Don’t get callused to it. Find wonder in every small detail.