I’ve only told two thirds of our travel stories from 2015, but I wanted to pause here to mix it up a little bit. It’s no secret we’ve been calling Melbourne home for the last 6 months (my gosh where has the time gone?! Didn’t I land home only just yesterday?!) and I feel like I’ve gotten myself stuck in a blogging funk…. Here I am wanting to tell our travel stories in chronological order but having life, work, and fun getting in the way of finding time to write it all down. So much has happened since we’ve set up home again, and it’s killing me that I’m missing sharing the ordinary stories too. Just my simple photo diary stories that started this blog all those years ago.
So, I’ve decided from here on in things are going to get a little mixed up. I’m going to continue telling our stories from our travels last year, but mixed in with current day posts of everyday life here in Melbourne + posts from what I’ve been shooting lately. Don’t worry, I’ll date each posts so as to not confuse you too much! I’ve got six months of Melbourne life to catch up on, and four months of travels through Asia. Lets start by getting up to speed from landing home in the middle of January, to writing this post at the beginning of August.
So how does one record 6 months of life into one blogpost? I’ve got no idea but I’ll give it my best go!
At 10:00am on January 16th, 2016 we landed on Australian soil for the first time in one year. Groggy from the overnight flight and understandably misplaced, we found ourselves in the arrivals hall surrounded by familiar accents that no longer sounded familiar and a bizarre sense of being foreigners in our own home. Immediately I changed clothes in the bathrooms from my usual attire for the last four months (hippy pants, singlet and long-sleeve cardigan) into a above the knee, no sleeves jumpsuit and sandals! The first time my skin had directly felt cool air in months. In Asia I couldn’t wear bug repellent due to my eczema, so I had to resort to covering up like the locals to avoid bug bites. With my skin bare I now felt like a new girl! Albeit a very very pale one.
First things first we stopped by the Optus store in the arrivals halls to grab ourselves some Aussie sim cards. Umm we were really feeling like tourists now.. and the girl behind the counter seemed confused to be selling two Aussies a sim card, but we needed numbers ASAP! From the airport we caught a bus, two trains and walked directly to a house inspection in Spotswood for a rental property. The fresh air felt thin to breath compared to thick and heavy Asia humidity, and Australia seemed very very big and very very flat. We couldn’t believe how far your could see. Houses were so spread out and crossing the road felt so exposed! Everything was lovely pastel colours – light blue sky, soft yellow grass, pale green trees. We changed trains at North Melbourne and I started feeling really strange, not a bad kind of strange just a feeling of severe weirdness. The station was so familiar, but I felt life-times away from that girl back then. We had two nights booked to stay in Melbourne in a Yarraville airbnb for the sole purpose of viewing and applying for rental houses. We had no jobs, no home, no furniture or belongings and no plan. I was terrified to say the least.. With our last $3000 burning a hole in our pocket, I wanted my own home and I wanted it now.
Martin waited around the corner with our big backpacks while I went in to see the house. Delirious and exhausted, I found myself squished in this tiny house with 40 others, all ooooh-ing and ahhhh-ing over what I would describe as a shanty house. Cracks in the walls, discoloured floorboards and half eaten toast in the sink. I took one look and knew it wasn’t for us.
We headed to our airbnb apartment feeling a little defeated. Once inside I ran to the tap to fill a glass of water. By this point I was over-tired and in ridiculously ‘silly’ mode. I kept giggling and repeating “water is free here!”. The simple luxury seemed so incredible after four months of paying for water or boiling our own. I drank three glasses, raided the cupboards for food and within half an hour we both fell asleep.
Over those two short days we caught up with one of our best friends and his new girlfriend, explored Yarraville and fell totally in love with the suburb, and viewed one more house. It was at the top of my list, it looked exactly like the pictures (hallelujah) and we had a private viewing with the agent. I remember Martin was trying all the door knobs and excitedly telling me how they all worked! Honestly we just need the simple things. We spent our final day in Melbourne putting together an application for the house, packing our bags and then catching our night flight to Adelaide – where we would be spending the next two weeks visiting Martin’s family.
Our time in Adelaide back in February is foggy in my mind. We were feeling really displaced, but there wasn’t a single part of me that wanted to return to the road (yet). Although it did feel strange to return to the place I was born and spent most of the first 18 years of my life, especially now that I was more changed than I ever could have imagined. Mostly we just spent our time with family and caught up with our closest friends. Martin tried on his suit for our friend Tim’s wedding which was coming up at the end of the month. He was to be a groomsman in the bridal party and I their photographer.
One evening we set out for a camping trip at a lake two hours drive away. We were with a bunch of our friends (both old and new), we floated on the lake in blow-up boats, swam in the setting sun, played music, drank beers and set off into town for dinner at the local fish and chip shop. When we got back to our camp that night the full moon was rising over the lake and I’d never seen it look so beautiful. I’ve always felt a weird connection with the moon (not in any mystical way) I’m just completely in awe of her mystery and beauty. I woke at sunrise just to watch her slip below the horizon as the sun rose into the sky.
Back in Adelaide after the trip my phone rang. I answered it with shaky hands and crossed fingers, it was the realestate agent from that house we fell in love with in Melbourne. I first saw the house for rent on the internet while we were in Bali, one whole month before we had planned to come home. I knew it would be impossible to have it, because it would be snatched up before we could get home and have a chance to see it. But sure enough it was still on the market when we landed in Melbourne in January. The rental market in Melbourne is fiercely competitive. I didn’t let myself have high hopes, it was the only house we had applied for. Martin didn’t have a job and I could only prove income through my wedding bookings over the next couple of months. But I believe some things happen for a reason, and I believe we were meant to live in this house. We got it. It was ours. We signed the papers via post and we set our move in date to the end of Feb. I felt a huge weight of stress be lifted from my shoulders. We had a home.
Our next stop on our mini Australia tour was Narooma, NSW to visit my Mum and Step Dad Simon. It was here that we spent two weeks entirely off the grid in their country home. Days spent swimming and catching waves in the ocean, warming our bodies on towels in the sunshine, gardening with my Mama, cooking good food after finally feeling like I can let loose in a kitchen again (we didn’t cook for three months in Asia!). We trekked through the rainforest and were attacked by leeches (terrifying and hilarious!), I felt super girly at my excitement to be reunited with the clothes I kept from my old life after spending a year wearing basically the same outfit every day. I packed a suitcase when it was time to leave with a handful of my favourite things, I wouldn’t be seeing the rest of my belongings again for months until we had settled in a new home and I could come back to get my car.
Next stop? Whyalla to visit my Dad. One week in the red earth in the heart of Australia, the outback. Where we went bush bashing (you drive through the dirt roads in the outback just to admire it’s beauty), we drove to country towns to explore antique shops (I definitely get my obsession from my Dad!), fishing adventures, late evening swims, afternoons hiding from the heat. Immense nostalgia from my childhood.
In the last few days of February we returned to Adelaide for two of our closest friends wedding day. It was so much fun and I felt very comfortable getting to photograph their love with all of my friends celebrating together. In the evening I sent my camera home with Martin’s parents and let loose on the dance floor. It was one of my favourite weddings I’ve ever been to and the perfect ending to our month of visiting all our loved ones around Australia.
We packed Martin’s car, woke up at dawn and set off to pick up the keys to our new home.
We arrived in Melbourne at 3pm. After nine hours of driving we were both delirious and couldn’t wait to get to our new home. We stopped by the realestate agent and picked up the keys. By the time we pulled up out the front of our new cottage my tummy was full of butterflies. I had been imagining this moment for almost a year, picking up the keys to a new place to make home again.
I won’t lie, those first two weeks were hard. Really hard. Our gas wasn’t connected (even though we had lodged an online application), meaning we didn’t have any hot water.. to make matters even worse the shower taps weren’t working (which we assumed was due to the gas not being on) so we had to have cold baths to get clean (ha! imagine that for a second.. thank god it was Summer). No gas mean’t no working stove, so we bought a mini camp cooker from Coles. The only items we had to our names were: 2 blow up single mattresses, a hand me down blanket, our old TV and Martin’s clothes. No cooking utensils, cups or sheets.. no fridge, washing machine, no anything basically! We spent each night sitting on our blow-up mattresses watching our TV that was sitting on the floor… We didn’t have any money to furnish the house yet. I found an old school desk in the back shed which we used as a coffee table and a chest of draws for a tv stand. We ‘borrowed’ some crates from out the back of a cafe. The one beautiful gift the house gave us was an over-flowing garden filled to the brim with wild tomatoes, herbs and potatoes (which was the staples of our diet those first few weeks.)
During this time I had weddings to photograph every weekend. At one point I even had three weddings in one week. I was tired and sore from sleeping on the floor on a blow-up. I was frustrated by not having a fridge and only being able to buy food for that day. It wasn’t easy, but we were together and we knew this was just temporary. We enjoyed exploring our new neighbourhood and getting to know all the secrets within.
In the middle of March I travelled back to Adelaide for a wedding. Secretly super excited to be getting out of our gas-less, fridge-less, shower-less house and into Martin’s parents apartment full of comforts. It was a short work trip but I remember finally feeling really accomplished. Like I couldn’t believe we had only landed home a month earlier but I was already working full-time at my business and travelling interstate for work. During that trip I received a very exciting call about a potential job in Melbourne for a new start-up company. We arranged a date to get coffee and discuss the project together. Coming home to our bare house didn’t feel so hard when life was full to the brim with work.
In April life started getting back to a new kind of normal. For one, the gas was connected!! And after learning that the taps still weren’t working… the agent sent a plumber over to fix them all right away. We learnt that our home had been sitting empty for two years before we moved in, and our elderly landlord had spent those years painting the walls and cleaning her up. We forgave the house for any small quirks that needed ironing out. We also quickly discovered we live in a community neighbourhood, something I’ve never experienced before. We’ve made friends with both our neighbours, Martin even exchanged freshly baked cookies for homemade hot cross buns with Jane and Norm next door (and had a cuppa with them for an hour!), it was really new for us but we love it.
Now that I had completed several weddings and our account wasn’t looking too bare anymore, we took several trips to buy items for the house. Kmart to find rugs, a coffee table, electronic essential. eBay for a bed base and other bits and bobs. Ikea to spoil Martin with kitchen furniture (what every chef needs right?!). Harris Scarfe for a big linen deliver and the opshops for kitchenware. I even spoiled myself by purchasing a NutriBullet (I’ve been dreaming of one forever!). We stocked the cupboards with dry goods and fresh veggies from the markets. The best delivery of all though was the courier that brought a bunch of second-hand things from my parents home in Narooma. They had a spare unused fridge, second washing machine in storage and a new untouched dryer. I also had stored our old mattress there. Best $600 we’ve ever spent having those items shipped the 700km. We finally started feeling like we had a home.
This month the biggest achievement of all was when I started working as the Chief of Photography at Travelshoot. After my introductory coffee date with founder Sarah, we immediately hit it off and I felt immense passion for the idea behind her business. Travelshoot connects travellers with local photographers all over the world – meaning customers can have incredible + beautiful memories from their travels and we help photographers by providing them with more work without the customer acquisition efforts. I hadn’t been looking for a part-time job, it sort of just fell into perfect place as these things sometimes do. I now was spending three days a week in office with two awesome ladies getting to do a job I love. My particular job is to find photographers (all over the world) who create beautiful images that fit with the Travelshoot style and ask them if they would like to work with us. So, basically I spend my days being inspired by beautiful images and chatting/hanging out with photographers via skype. Does it get much better than that? Also working for a startup means I get to help and watch a new business grow – from implementing new processes to group brainstorming sessions. It’s a constant source of girl-boss inspiration. I also did an interview on their blog which you can read here.
April also brought another trip to Adelaide to shoot Eleanor’s wedding, photograph a beautiful engagement session and meet up with my Mama (she was in Adelaide visiting family that weekend too!)
In between all this craziness I met new friends for pancakes + coffee, I photographed a campaign for bridal label wishbone & Ivy, I spent warm afternoons drinking tea in my garden, my Mama came to visit my house and we went crazy buying indoor plants. Life started slowing down a little and I was ready to completely embrace it.
When May rolled around life had truly settled. I now had a job (both my own wedding business and working with Travelshoot) and Martin had started working as a Chef at our friends cafe in West Melbourne. We spent our evenings strolling into Yarraville to get tea + coffee at our new favourite cafe (we’ve become true Melbournian’s now!) and enjoying the comforts of our home. The weather was starting to get colder and I wasn’t ready for it. I slipped into my homebody ways – placing a huge book order I had been dreaming of forever, cooking homey dinners each night. I received a gift of the most beautiful handcrafted watch from Jord Watches as a collaboration to create content for their platforms.
I photographed my first test shoot since landing home, styled with my wardrobe and for no other reason than to have fun and create something. We snuck into buildings and onto rooftops. I felt that creative burst again.
Near the end of the month I few to Narooma to pack the rest of my belongings into my car and drive the 10 hour drive back to Melbourne again. Weddings had quietened down a little and I took the first free weekend I had to make the trek. I spent the weekend in the country-side with my Mama. Enjoying the warmth we were missing in Melbourne, long walks on the beach, country op-shopping, stocking up on my favourite candles. And before I knew it I was driving my little beast out of their driveway and out onto the open road. It was dawn and I was driving alongside a sleepy moon, through foggy mountains and lush rainforests. I stopped to pick up Martin from the airport 1 hour out of town. He had flown just to keep me company on the 10 hour drive. I had made us sandwiches for lunch which he devoured in about three seconds into the trip! Haha. On the tourney we passed country towns, baby cows and new born lambs, into grassy fields and pastures. And as the sun set we were home again, this time with my favourite possessions I had kept all this time. Namely some vintage clothes and my sewing machine.
June was routine. Work, coffee dates, visits from family, weddings, taking time to rest and reflect. Buying fresh blooms for the house, shooting for Travelshoot, running constant errands, Bride meetings each weekend on Degraves street. On our quiet days we cooked pasta and I went to local markets by myself to rummage and be inspired.
We travelled to Adelaide together this time. I photographed an engagement session + artist portraits and went antique shop exploring with my Papa. Martin spent a quiet weekend with family.
And towards the end of the month I met two lovely ladies, Claire and Felicity for chai tea in Fitzroy. We talked for hours but it felt like minutes and I finally felt like I had found a little girl tribe.
July was beautiful and hard. Beautiful in that I had more quiet time this month to work on my own projects and blogging. Hard in that I felt a loneliness creep up on me that was hard to shake and I think it was due to the lull in work after working so hard for so many months. Life is slow now, and I need to learn to slow down too. I spent time reflecting on myself. I’m an introverted person but that doesn’t mean I always like to be alone, so I started putting steps in motion to spend more time with others. I visited my naturopath again to improve my health both mentally and physically. She spoke of how changed I am compared to who I was a year ago. How strong I am and how incredibly well I know myself. I took time out from life just for me, with long baths eating chocolate and reading my favourite magazine. We went to football games and drank more coffee (I’m finally getting a taste for it but I still hate the caffeine hit!). Finders Keepers market came to Melbourne and I spent a morning marvelling at the incredible stalls. I went on a road trip adventure with the girl-tribe to Hanging Rock where the fresh air was just what I needed.
Basically now I’m just living a relatively normal life and loving it. Last year people told me I’d be addicted to the adventure, and that going home would leave me miserable. And I sort of believed them! But in my gut I knew myself. As much as I love being on the road and in a new country every week with a train ticket in my pocket… I also love having a home, burning my favourite candle and listening to the rain from the comfort of my couch. I love having a local community, spending time at the dog park just to pat all the dogs, getting coffee at the same place every Thursday. Living simply.
You don’t have to be one or the other. I’ve learnt now that we’re complex creatures that can be both nomads and homebodies. Things get messed up when we care more about what others think about us than what truely makes us happy. Trying to live a life we think others will approve can never bring us happiness. Right now I’m just doing me, and that’s fairly boring in the eyes of the internet! But I’ve honestly never been happier or seen the world more clearly. It’s definitely not the end of our adventures, we’re already planning the next! But this time I think we’ll keep out house and our belongings 😉 I’m listening to my gut and heart, building a life that works for us.