top of page
  • Abbee

AUSTRALIA

Hi, I’m Abbee, one of the co-founders here at So Social. I have travelled a lot over the past few years, so here are some of my 'stories'.


I initially followed a girl named Mollie, or more precisely, 'Where's Mollie'. She was always on the move – Cornwall, Ireland, Spain, etc. – but then she took a trip to Australia. I was so invested in her journey, constantly checking her Instagram and Facebook groups, that I wanted to be just like her – travelling freely and doing whatever I wanted. However, the catch was that I needed money for this adventure. So, I started saving, telling friends and family about my travel plans. I received a lot of sceptical responses, like "You won't last," "It's dangerous for a girl to travel alone," and even "Why would you want to do that?"

Despite the doubts, I continued to follow Mollie's journey. She had transformed into a travel influencer by then, exploring Australia, and I felt a sense of jealousy.

On a random Thursday afternoon, I made a bold move and booked a one-way flight to Australia for a year's time.


I joined Facebook groups, posting that I was going to arrive in September 2017. To my surprise, I actually made friends and arranged to meet up with them when I arrived. I did reach out to Mollie herself, and she was doing meetups in Australia for solo travellers that wanted to make friends, so I put these in my diary to try and plan my schedule around them to meet Mollie herself.


Even though I had a whole year to put together a plan and do some thorough research for this trip, I decided to go with the plan of ‘THE FLOW’ – basically, having no idea where to go or how anything works, but working it out and deciding when I am there.


I was very lucky to have family in Perth who welcomed me with open arms, making the transition much easier. Perth was beautiful, but I knew I needed to make friends. So I messaged my Facebook friend and met her in Perth City a few days after she arrived. After that, I made the next leap of moving from my auntie and uncle's house to Fremantle hostel with Paige – my first hostel experience, so I was very nervous, sceptical, and scared that all my stuff would be stolen. It ended up being a small hostel and everyone there became friends, drinking and eating together. I couldn’t have asked for a better first experience, to be honest. I was getting tired of doing the same things, so I moved on. The flight to Cairns was next.


Cairns was a bit scary; it had a completely different vibe and it was BOILING. You underestimate the difference in weather in all the places in Australia. I went into a travel shop as I needed help with the east coast trip. I knew everyone had done that, but where to go, how I would get to each place, and the best places to stay – I needed guidance. This guy planned the whole trip for me. A month of constant moving down the east coast, exploring and meeting new people. I could relax; the bus would take me everywhere I needed to go. Most travellers had done this route and I would be safe.


While in Cairns, I checked off a bucket-list item – scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef – IT WAS AMAZING. If you ever get the chance, do it! I had a meltdown after I got back to my hostel as all the photos and videos I took were not there – they disappeared, vanished. I cried and cried because no one would see these amazing photos of me living my best life, doing all these different things. But the lesson was, who cares? I was there. I experienced it. I had the time of my life.


Magnetic Island was my next stop. There were only two hostels on the island, one chill and the other a party hostel. Of course, I went for the party option. Magnetic Island was small, and I drove around on my little scooter with some friends, visiting different beaches and walks. Every evening our hostel was doing something – party games, quizzes, and a lot of socializing. Because it was so small and everyone in the hostel gathered together, I made a few friends. I even asked for a job there so I could stay longer and make some money. Someone who already worked there soon told me it was a bad idea unless I liked being a maid and cleaning up after the parties. So, I moved on.


The beautiful Airlie Beach. I felt like the further I went down the coast, the more parties were frequent and lengthy. I booked a boat tour of the Whitsundays for 3 days. I went for the medium party boat, as I couldn’t think of anything worse than 3 days of non-stop partying on a moving boat (I would be over the side more than enjoying). But it was a great experience as again, we were stuck with people for 3 days; luckily, I got along with them. The scenery was stunning, with the clearest water I had ever seen. Whitehaven Beach was like literal heaven. The sand was so white that if I took my sunglasses off, I thought I would be blinded, and the sea was like bath water. Being a ginger, I made sure I was covered up, as the burn I would have gotten would be deadly! The boat had great vibes; it was so nice meeting people in the same situation as me – some were travelling with friends, others alone like me.


Fraser Island was up next. I was looking forward to this part of the trip – driving a 4X4 on the beach, camping, etc. The reality didn’t live up to my expectations. The first night you stay at the hostel in Rainbow Beach – I got there with no booking, so I had to stay in the staff camping area. After being on a boat for a few nights, I just wanted a decent bed to sleep in, but no, I had the smallest mattress, a thin blanket, and a sticky, moist tent. Another disappointment was I couldn’t drive the 4x4 because I wasn’t 25. I was so upset, but also the feedback from everyone was that they were hard and dangerous to drive on the sand... still, I wanted the experience. I did try to convince our main driver to let me have a go, but it was a firm no. The actual experience of Fraser Island was great, with rock pools, dingos, and an overall laugh with our group, minus the day of rain we had. When you come back from a day on the island, you stay in Rainbow Beach again, and everyone has a BBQ and socializes. But I couldn’t wait to leave. I got back on the Greyhound bus for 3 hours to Noosa. It was pouring; the rain was so heavy, and in Noosa, I had planned kayaking, walks, and all outdoor activities for 4 days. I got back on the bus and went to Brisbane instead.


I stayed in Brisbane for 2 days, went out for two nights, and met up with some friends that I had met along the way. But one of my friends from home, Menna, was in Sydney and was telling me amazing things, so I had to go. Menna kindly let me stay at her uni accommodation for a few days while I sorted myself out.


Sydney


When I got to Sydney, I could feel good vibes even before seeing anything. I just knew I was going to love it. I was lucky enough to have a place to stay for the first few days to settle in and get familiar with my surroundings, and with a familiar face. I decided to book myself into Coogee Backpackers after my stay with Menna. I was very nervous to be on the move again, and making new friends constantly is exhausting. As soon as I walked into the hostel, I made friends with two lads from Birmingham and a girl from Ireland. We quickly became a small little family, looking after each other and helping when needed. I thought it was a good idea to get a job in the hostel for free accommodation to help me save some money, as going out every night was quickly depleting my savings. IT WAS THE WORST IDEA. The owner had me clean the stairs to the hostel with bleach, and no gloves, and he wanted these grey steps white. I was young and naive and did what he said, an impossible task. If you've ever stayed in a hostel, you’ll know how messy some people can be, so when I went around cleaning rooms, 1. The smell, 2. What you end up cleaning up, 3. It's not fun and not worth free accommodation. I soon packed that in; I still did not have a lot of money in the bank, but I made do with $1 noodles most of the time. It was so nice to have friends who were sticking around in Sydney for a while. Me and my friend Jen got a job working for Transport for Sydney, doing marketing around Manly, letting people know the buses had changed routes. Among the random jobs we applied for, this was one of the most boring but it paid well. We moved to Manly for 2 weeks, and it was so good; we loved Manly. It was small, but it had everything you needed and cheaper hostels than the eastern suburbs.


I soon levelled up by bagging myself a job at Billabong. I was so happy to be working back in retail like I did back home. I knew I was good at it, and I loved Billabong.

Christmas was fast approaching, and me and the girls had nowhere to go. Hostels doubled in price, so that wasn’t an option for us. Luckily, Facebook came through, and we ended up subletting a room from this guy who would be away for a month over the festive period. 3 girls sharing a small room in Bondi, but we couldn't care less. We had jobs, a place to stay, and we were close to the beach. We didn't need anything else – not even bed sheets and duvet covers. We used a big towel to cover ourselves while sleeping. It did get cramped when we ended up having two friends stay with us on and off, plus all the cockroaches flying around – this is where I found out that cockroaches would fly. This apartment ended up being a hazard. Jen broke her arm from a balance board, and Jodie had a traumatic toenail injury. Laughs were had, but we did also look after each other when needed, and I spent Christmas and my birthday with amazing people. After an amazing Christmas and New Year on the beach, we all started to make new plans. The girls ended up going to Melbourne, but I stayed in Sydney. My friend Menna let me stay with her again, this time for a bit longer, as she had moved to a flat now. Not us sharing a single bed in the uni dorm room, which I am forever grateful for.


As I was on a working holiday visa in Australia, you can only stay with one employer for 6 months at a time. So, it was coming up that I needed to change my job. I loved working at Billabong; everyone was so lovely, but it was time to say goodbye. I decided to go back to beauty therapy and make use of my qualifications. I moved to Manly for 4 months, as I got a job in a small beauty clinic, and I loved it! My boss was great, and I soon became her right-hand, going from a beauty therapist to a manager, so she could come and go as she pleased. There was even a sponsorship opportunity on the horizon, but at the time, it wasn't a requirement for beauty therapists – only massage therapists. I could have gone through with it, but I really didn’t want to be doing massages day in and day out.


A few months later, I was missing my friends in Bondi, so I decided to move back, as a room was becoming available with some friends of friends. I commuted to Manly for a while, but an hour-long trip one way over the water was exhausting after a while. I was missing events and stuff my friends were doing because I worked weekends. We had become a little dysfunctional family. I received some great advice from Ashley, who I called Mama Ash. ‘Fake it till you make it.’ So, she coached me in everything, from being a personal/executive assistant. I went from working all shifts in beauty to Monday to Friday in a corporate job. I started off easy at reception and worked my way up to Executive Assistant for a high manager at British American Tobacco. I loved every minute of it, and I was actually really good at it. So, I didn’t really fake it; I just unlocked potential and skills I didn’t know I had. Ashley was great at persuading people and helping everyone get to where they needed to be. Even when we moved flats, the landlord gave it to us because we were quiet girls – no parties, we liked to have small dinner parties and read books. Yeah, that wasn't true; we had some big parties in that flat, and even some neighbours wanted us out – oops. We loved our flat! Even though I went back to a shared room, we were all so close at this point that it didn't matter.


I was so happy that I found such good friends, had an amazing well-paid job, and was in Australia thriving! All good things come to an end, they say. I couldn’t get sponsored as an Executive Assistant, and most of our group's time was up – the 2 years had passed. It was sad saying goodbye to everyone. I knew that I had made friends for life on this trip, but it was time for another adventure and nervous about what the next step would be. So, I made plans to set sail; I knew I needed to come home. As much as I didn’t want to, it was time. But before that, I did a two-week trip to Thailand.

27 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page