The Tasmanian cannibal

“Aaah the glamour girl from Belgium.”

He walked up to me from behind his truck with what only could be discribed as the grin of a male chauvinist pig around his mouth. I looked far from my glamourous self that day. I had just spent two hours on a bus on a Friday afternoon with a bunch of noisy school kids who were traveling home for the weekend. I had 20 kilos strapped to my back, another 7 around my left shoulder and another 5 cutting off the blood stream of my right wrist. My head was surrounded with bits of dry blonde locks, waving around in the wind like radiants around the sun. My face, however, must have looked like a sunny side down. I was knackered. My back broken. I just wanted to call it a night as soon as possible. And it was only 6pm.

“Glamour girl?” I molded my face in a cemented smile while walking up to him. Not giving away I was already kind of offended.

You see, before I got there I was already building myself up.  I was expecting this encounter to be a bit rough at the beginning. So I already prepared myself for some prejudice. I just couldn’t believe that a guy who’s had so man lessons in life, who is all about zen and spirituality, would just judge me that quickly. I mean, isn’t that the first thing they teach you? To NOT judge a book by its cover?

“You are full of judgement already, Helmut? That’s not a very good attitude”, I candidly smiled at him while -seemingly effortless- whipping the bag off my shoulders. It wasn’t effortless, my back was burning with pain!

“Ha-ha”, he laughed strongly. “I was expecting you to have a suitcase on wheels with a big iPad strapped on to it. How man pictures have you put online today? About 7?”

He was right. I had gone a little over my everyday 5 limit… So he looked at my online activities again… He already did this when I was in Melbourne, I discovered. That’s where I received an email from him, asking me to reconsider staying at his place. Since he reckoned it wouldn’t be something for me. I don’t know based on what he made that assumption, but it had something to do with my online presence, that’s a fact. He just thought I was another shallow girl, not worth of his time or effort.

It was about a 20 minute drive from the center of St Mary’s to his place. We drove up a narrow road, very steep and full of rocks. His 4×4 had its work cut out getting up there. It was a bumpy ride too.

“See that patch of stretched land there? That’s where I’m gonna bury you. I got all kinds of helpers burried there. Hahaha.”

I suddenly felt a weird feeling creeping up on me. Could it be that while he was doing a background check on me on the internet, he accidentally find my blog and read it?? The blog where I portrayed him as the cannibal of Tasmania, saying how much I feared he was going to eat my liver for dinner?? Bugger! Maybe I brought him to ideas. Maybe he is going to get really mad at me about the things I wrote and kill me very slowly in his slow cooker…

As we drove up his eternal driveway I realized there was no way in the world I would ever get away from this place by myself. Like if I really needed to, in an emergency situation. Since I was so tired, I accepted my faith there and then. I surrendered. I’ve had some nice views so far. I can go in peace.

Suddenly we climbed up to another piece of stretched land. There were wild wallabies having a picnic on the grass and I recognized the solar panels from the pictures, surrounding his house. Next to it was the caravan. My new home.

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“You will have to share it with an Iranian girl, alright. She’s a backpacker as well and has probably cooked us a nice dinner by now.”

I don’t know what I was more relieved about. That there was another backpacker, still very much alive, or that there was already dinner prepared for that night. Meaning I wouldn’t end up on a plate just yet.

I enteren the caravan to put my things in there first. There were two beds made, cute little colorful drapes on the windows and some cupboards to store my things. To my own surprise, this place looked lovely. And far better than the passenger seat of Pierre’s car I stayed in before. Even better than the hostels I was in. I quickly droppen off my things and followed Helmut to the main house up the hill. He built it himself with the hand of some handy helpers. The place is stunning. From the dinner table you have the most amazing view on the mountains and the ocean. With high windows stretching all the way along the kitchen. This is a million dollar view. And the place smelt amazing. Maryam was in the kitchen preparing chia chocolate cake and some Iranian dish for dinner. She came up to me all smiling. She just arrived 3 days ago and was already feeling very much at home. I don’t know if it’s because she’s Iranian but she very much looks like Kim Kardashian without the plastic surgery and all that. Big brown eyes, narrow nose, full lips. And a great personality to match. I wanted to hate her already. But I couldn’t. She was too sweet! I started asking her all about her travels. She left Iran to backpack through Australia by herself. She has been doing Helpx, crashing on people’s couches hitchhiking her way around,… traveling very low budget and VERY courageous. I mean, I couldn’t just ring up to someone’s house asking them to let me sleep on their couch without being rape that same day. At least not in these short shorts I’m wearing. Good thinking, Ev. Put some clothes on will ya!

She was telling me all about her travels and I was a little overwhelmed. Her aura filled up the room. She oozed confident and was very much in control of her journey, budget and further life goals. I felt like a complete clums compared to her. Turns out she became Instagram famous overnight in her country. Inspiring people to travel in a different way. There I was coming from a country that’s unimpressed with about everything. A country that has seen and done everything before and is not impressed until you travel to Mars or -even better- discover an entirely new planet. An Iranian  magazine even reached out to her to keep a travel diary. And here I am, Mrs Big Newspaper Reporter from Belgium, not even getting a centimeter of writing space in the paper I’ve been working for since 5 years. I mean GEE!

Yes Maryam was very much living my dream. But instead of feeling jealous or annoyed, I found a way to turn  that around. I just thought to myself, well that’s great for Maryam but I have a different approach and that’s what makes my journey unique. Or something like that. But I do like listening to her stories. She has experienced some great rides.

That night we had dinner together, enjoying the lovely view. Helmut started asking all about me and I tried my best to give him a good impression. But he was just…very German.

Me: “So Helmut, I had quite the convincing to do, why were you so hard on me?”

Helmut: “Well I wasn’t looking for a Helpx girl, I was looking for a strong man to help me with the fire wood.”

(…)

Me: “Uhu…And what about Maryam then?”

Helmut: “Well she was different, I reached out to her myself after reading her bio.”

Me: “You reached out to her? …B…b…but why didn’t you do that with me??” (FEELING REALLY SORRY FOR MYSELF HERE)

Helmut: “Because I looked you up on the internet and I usually don’t do this with my Helpx but somehow I did it with you. And I saw this picture of you with this cycling guy (THE Jens Voigt) and I just thought: no way she’s coming up here. She will drive me NUTS! I was trying to send you off with an excuse, that there wasn’t any room and this trip wasn’t for you anyway but you kept insisting coming over. You are very persistent, I got that from the first email you sent me. If I didn’t find out I was the only host you reached out to in Tasmania, then I wouldn’t have let you come over here. But I tracked down your ‘mail outs’ and discovered you only sent one email. To me. So I decided to give you the benefit of the doubt. But if I don’t like you, you can scram. I’ve sent other helpers walking before.”

(Long uncomfortable silence)

When I tugged myself in that night, I took a deep breath and went through the day. I said good night to Maryam, put my sleeping mask on, tightened my hoodie and thought to myself: these next days ought to be interesting.

And they were.

To be continued.

XO

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Wanderlost

I got to thinking the other day. I wonder how you people experience my travels… You probably think I’m doing only fun stuff, that every day is a Saturday and that I’m living in a dream bubble that will make me unable to ever fit into everyday society again.

Well I must disappoint you.

I’m not just traveling. I’m struggeling. Hurting. Pushing myself to my limits. Every day.

I’m not taking a gap year to run away from things. I’m taking a personal year to run right into things. Face challenges. Asking reality to punch me in the face.

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You raising your eyebrows: “Well if you’re hurting, then why do we only see happy travel pics on your Instagram Ev?”

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Well, first of all, Instagram is built for these kinds of pics. You just present things in the nicest way possible. It’s fun to play around with it. To build a network. Getting to know other travelers who are as wanderlust as you through breath taking pictures. It’s meant to inspire. It is meant to be liked. If I post a pic of myself, comment ‘bad day, FML, everybody go to hell’. Then who’s gonna paint that little heart in that loving shade of red? ❤

If you want to look behind ‘the scenes’ of colorful Instagram posts and perfect filters. Go check out the blog. That’s where I like to put the genuine emotions into words.

I’ve been clear from the beginning that this is an honest blog about traveling and finding a destination in life. Well, I can inform you that I had a first meltdown. In Melbourne. As you know, I’m traveling alone from now. And it’s not because I’m now flying solo I suddenly hit a low. It was just the first time, after being around a lot of people at the farm and all, I got a chance to realize some stuff. Since there is no one other than me, myself and I to distract me. I’ve realized I’m not only wanderlust. I’m pretty damn wanderlost. I wander this place not knowing where I’m going.

You raising your eyebrows again: “I thought that was kinda the point Evvy?”

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Well yeah, of course, but only now I realize: This is not the right way.

To be honest. I hate these hostels. I hate it has all these people in them. And I hate the posters on the walls promoting these stupid binge drinking cruises. ‘This is your ticket to party and travel!’ I hate this shallow lifestyle and I hate being part of it.

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You adding a sigh (and maybe some alcohol) to those highly raised eyebrows: “Well do you wanna go home??”

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Me: “Hell no!”

I’m glad I’m away. I’d rather feel ‘depressed’ (I’m trying to look for a less heavy loaded word) at the other side of the world, where it’s 40 degrees, rather than sit in that stupid country I call home. But I need to get of the beaten track ASAP! Once you’re in the backpacker scene you kind of get pushed into a direction that expects you to hop from one touristic hotspot to another. But actually, I don’t want this at all. I don’t want to spend heaps of money experiencing mind numbing tours and day trips that thousands, probably even millions of people have done before me just because travel agencies advise it as a ‘Must See’. Remember what happened on the Great Ocean Road? The Great Ocean Let Down is what it was to me. It just doesn’t fulfill me. And it is not the goal of my journey to begin with. I strive to look for meaningful experiences, here. The added value, you know? I see this trip as a way to explore, experience different things in order to find my destination in life. I want to be challenged and I am willing to suffer. I’m shaking so much while I’m typing this since I just traveled all the way to the airport with 30 kilo’s strapped around my body. I could have just taken the tram to the bus station before coming to the airport, but sometimes, I just prefer the hard way. I think it’s all part of the trip. Pushing limits, see how far your mind and body can go. Stepping out of the safe waters and taking a plunge into the unknown.

I’m browsing every street, every corner, looking for something. Anything to feed my soul. I’ve noticed I’ve started looking for schools and stuff. I just really feel the need to learn and develop myself. That’s why I did some martial arts training while in Melbourne. That’s why I reached out to this guy in Tasmania, the so called cannibal who’s going to eat me for dinner. He calls himself a traveler in life. He has had a long one so far -he’s 70 or something- with lots of different directions and he is very much into zen. I just know I can learn so much from this person but I must say I am having some difficulties trying to convince him. Once he found out I was in Melbourne, he sent me an email asking me to reconsider coming over. Since his place is super secluded. And there’s nothing there but trees, mountains and animals – yes, also brown snakes and redbacks. Well, I felt really sad after this email. I am one thousand, one million!, percent sure I want to go there. I am dying to find a place away from these hostels, this busy road, to finally experience something real, and here he is writing me off as some shallow backpacker, who is looking for shallow thrills and nightly hookups. Don’t tell me what’s good or not good for me, the only person who knows what’s good or not good for me is me. I have been living with ME for 27 years. And here you are thinking you only need 27 seconds to pin me down. I’m much more than what meets the eye, mister. I just want to pick your brain.

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That particular meltdown day in Melbourne I sat on my bunk and stared into the big nothingness for a while. When I got up I looked in the mirror and told myself to give us a smile. After all I have nothing to not smile about. While my eyes looked down, they spotted a booklet on the chair. ‘The Answers are Blowing in The Wind’, the cover whispered to me. It belonged to the British girl I’m sharing the room with who wasn’t in at the moment. I thought it was an actual book, so I was triggered to open it, but soon I found out it was some kind of diary. I didn’t mean to read it, but my eye caught a couple of bullet points on what seemed a ‘to do list for 2016’.

* Go to therapy (…)

* Try living by yourself (…)

* Go on a date. Be convinced you are worth of meeting someone and deserve to be loved.

* Eat with your hands without being afraid of germs.

* …

It was only then I saw there were wet anti-bacterial wipes lying next to it…

And it suddenly became more clear to me why she popped pills in the middle of the night. Maybe she’s on some meds to fight against depression or something…

Then it dawned on me. Maybe I’m not the only one who feels a little out of place here. Maybe we are all pretty damn wanderlost. We all carry our backpack on a road that is mostly to be defined while walking it. Life is a journey and it is no shame to be honest about this to yourself. A booklet. Or a blog.

With these comforting thoughts I went outside. And booked myself a boxing class for the next morning. I figured I needed to punch some negativity out of my knuckles before my zen retreat in the Tasmanian mountains. I don’t know when I will meet up with Helmut. But if he doesn’t want me I will knock on his door either way, look him in the eye and convince him that I’m worth his time and effort.

(Please still remember to send a heli over St Mary’s if you don’t hear from me in more than a week. I am still a little worried I might end up on his plate with a nice side of homegrown veggies)

XO

‘The Gleat Ocean Load’

I am delighted to tell you: We’re on The Great Ocean Road !!

This is our route directly leading to Melbourne. So what is the Great Ocean Road exactly? Well, it’s a road….that leads along the ocean…AND IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE GREAT!

I dunno, you’re supposed to see a lot of nice sceneries on the way or something. And according to Cadel Evans, it is THE thing to see when around Melbourne. And who wants to disagree with Cuddles??

So, what do you need?

* A car, evidently;

* A solid play list with some nice road music;

* A camera;

* And maybe stop at a K-Mart for some basic necessities like… err, I dunno, … A SELFIE STICK!

I resisted the hype in Belgium, and now they’re totally uncool I decided to buy one. I just figured it might come in handy to take epic panorama pictures from a higher point of view since I’m not that tall to begin with. They should call it a ‘loner stick’, since it’s the best way to take pictures while traveling solo without constantly having to ask someone to take the picture for you.

So once you have all that, you’re good to hit THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD! (yes, people elevate their voice when they pronounce it, ’cause apparently it’s something to get very very excited about)

So we, my farm buddy Pierre and I, arrived on the GOR coming from Warrnambool. First scenery-stop was Bay of Islands. I stormed my way on the viewing platform, aggressively wielding my selfie stick, not knowing where to begin first. There were nice picture opportunities EVERYWHERE! I must have looked like a fat kid craving sugar, I was all over the place. Click, click, click, click … I LOVE THIS STICK!

After 20 minutes of ‘loner stick’ fun, we continued to The Grotto. Only a couple of hundred meters away. Then another couple of hundred to see the London Bridge, then another to see God knows what.

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The Great Ocean Grotto

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London Bridge

Rocks are nice. I mean, rocks rock! But seeing rocks is very much the same as visiting temples in Asia. At first you’re like :

“OH MY GOD THIS IS AMAZING, THIS HAS TO BE ONE OF THE COOLEST THINGS I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. Click click click click. LOOK! THERE! A REAL LIFE MONK! Click click click click. LOOK THERE! TEMPLE BIRDS!! LOOK! TEMPLE BIRDS SITTING ON REAL LIFE MONKS!

– Second one : This is flipping epic! I go could never get tired of this. Give me more, I want more! Click click click click…

– Third: This is so pretty I could dieee. Click click click click click….

-Fourth: So beautiful! Click click click!

-Fifht: Ahh yeah, this one is also nice! Click, click….click

– Sixth: Yeah…Sweet! Click. Cl… (no click)

– Seventh: Click….

– Eighth: (yawn) Yo, you wanna go grab a burger or something?

So yeah, after a while you’re just driving, pulling over, driving, pulling over, driving, pulling over, …. . I don’t know if it was just me, but I wasn’t feeling the rhythm. Mostly I was feeling car sickness.

It wasn’t really the authentic experience I was hoping for. I guess I forgot other people would be there as well. Mostly heaps of Chinese tourists. Once you reach the Twelve Apostles, the high point of the GOR, there are bus loads of them. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Chinese, I’m going there next but it wasn’t until I would go there I was expecting to be mobbed by them. Bombing every picture I take. They come running wrapped up in blankies, wielding their selfie sticks about even taking pictures with a random seagull (…).

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They even dress up for it…

I guess the Great Ocean Road is to them what the Chinese Wall is to Caucasians. Turns out the GOR really banks on the Asian tourists. With menu cards in Chinese, Chinese toilet instructions, Chinese sightseeing maps and welcoming boards. They even put on traffic signs to remind them that in Australia people drive on the left…

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To be honest, at the end of the day I was glad to be back in The Great Outdoors. Cooking our meal in the back of the car, camping in the wild. The day after we decided to take some alternative routes, do some random hikes and this lead us to some very nice places actually. It was much more fulfilling to me. And we end up seeing the most amazing sunset.

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Guess where I am.

Here’s a traveling tip for you: If there’s no Chinese in sight, you’re doing a good job.

Just remember to really take in the moment. And appreciate life.

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Taking in the moment.

But even do that with Chinese around. Life’s too short to let your panorama be ruined by a negative attitude. So if you want to elongate your stay on this globe and keep enjoying the views. Be positive.

… Or use a loner stick.

XO

BTW: Seeing all those Chinese tourists really made me crave Asian food. This pork belly with jasmine rice was TO DIE FOR. If you’re ever in Lorne, make sure to go to Chopstix. They even make their own fans out of chopsticks! You see how handy sticks can be??

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Drool.

No worries, mate.

Here in Oz people keep saying ‘No worries’, whenever I ask or do something. Like… am I supposed to be worried?? Seriously, is there something you’re not telling me?

Turns out I’m a complete paranoid at times. I guess this happens when you’re a little clueless about certain things. You turn a little sceptic against them. If you don’t know something, you think it’ll turn out a certain way and mostly your brain makes you believe it will turn out bad since -generally- it is programmed to protect you from ….

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And all things you don’t know are to be avoided…

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I think it’s from all the horror stories I hear in the news. On our way to the Grampians we stopped in Tintinara, a place not far from the Victoria border where I met this sweet little old lady owning a shop in the middle of nowhere. I was telling her where I was going.

Sweet little old lady: “Oh The Grampians. That’s a lovely place. You’ll like it. A bit dry for the moment.”

My face froze.

Me: “What do you mean dry? Like FIRE HAZARD?”

I started asking her all these questions about bush blazes. I think I maybe scared her a little… Then I felt bad and bought this ridiculous headband. Well, maybe it turns into a thing. ‘Tintiaras’.

Another horror story I discovered was the kidnapping of two young female backpackers in Salt Creek recently. Only 20K from the farm I stayed at! Apparently the girls hitched a ride from this 59 year old dude. They camped on the way to their destination and this is the part where he digs up a hammer, knocks them down and tries to rape them. One girl got away and ran out of the bushes all bloody. And naked. To be rescued by some fishermen. I mean GEE! Could you imagine?

And here I am going to Tasmania soon to live with a 70 year old guy in the woods for a week. I met him through Helpx, the website where you offer your help in exchange for food and accommodation. Amazing reviews and his place looks like a dream place as well. But if he decides to hammer me down then and there, there won’t be any fishermen out there to save me. Only Tasmanian devils, And I’m pretty sure they’re on his side.

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Am I crazy to go there? Or just crazy thinking he might have written his own reviews and is looking forward to eating my kidneys for dinner while drinking the bottle of Shiraz I brought him as a welcoming gift? I mean why would he point out in his bio he’s a vegetarian, anyway? To put me off track, that’s why!

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But what am I supposed to do? To be honest I’m dreading hostels even more. The last time I shared a room with more than 4 people was in grade school when we went on some forest class. A girl threw up on my brand new gym shoes right after dinner. She then accidentally used MY wash cloth to clean it up… Yeah, I didn’t get great memories from that trip. Later I found out two of my best friends made out with my love interest in the back of the bus. AT THE SAME TIME. We were like 10…

So hostels and bunks, not really a fan. But I did live in a shed for almost a month. And slept in a car for a week. Everything else should seem like an upgrade, right? But I do hear people just have sex while you’re lying in the same room with them. I just can’t be bothered. Make babies in your own god damn time. Or at least rent one of the single rooms. It’s worse enough I had to spend Valentine’s night in the passenger’s seat of a Skoda in a free camp called ‘The Sawpit’ -doesn’t really sound like a place you get out in one piece- with campers all resembling the profile of the famous rapist of Salt Creek…

So yeah, after Melbourne I’ll probably head further down under and go to Tassie (that’s slang for Tasmania). If you don’t hear from me in a week send a helicopter over St Mary’s and look for a vegetarian guy named Helmut having a blonde for dinner.

*** Users warning: Even though all blog posts are 100% true and non-fiction, I do tend to enlarge certain emotions. I have learnt that once you’re on a road, things don’t seem so scary and everything just happens really organically. So NO WORRIES

XO

FYI (since everyone is asking) : No, I’m not homesick yet. I’m just really happy.

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Hiking in the Grampians

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I was only adjusting my cap…

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Home

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Where we cook our road kill, err, road meal.

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About to saddle up for The Great Ocean Road

Camping the Grampians

 I’ve been getting some good comments on the blog, thank you for that. But I am wondering if it lives up to the expectations enough. I mean, maybe I should be putting some useful travel info in here. Places to have a stop, things to see, stuff to avoid, … some useful tips next to my everyday stories and quests. Since this is pretending to be a guide for people who desperately want to travel but don’t know where to start, right? Because they’re too lazy to look into things properly or they just don’t like to prepare too much cause it spoils all the fun. I mean when you watch your favorite tv show, do you want to know in advance how it ends? Then why would you do the same with traveling? Or life in general?

The way I travel is ‘on good fortune’.
I just hitchhike my way from one adventure to the other, basically. Not literally since it almost got two backpackers killed a few days ago in Salt Creek! I mean hitchhiking figuratively speaking. Like surfing someone’s wave for a while to roll from one adventure into the other. I always had the luck of meeting a person to take me on an exciting road, dropping me off at the next intersection where I continue from there.
I guess if you’re just clueless enough, the uni will give you an extra hand. I mean the universe not the university. And it saves you loads of research. Don’t worry you’re using people. You’re not. Lots of backpackies do it and put ads up on Gumtree (it’s a very famous and useful advert website) to find travel companions because a) their basic travel skills aren’t developed enough, b) they feel lonely, or c) because two heads think better than one. Two wallets definitely afford more than one too. Just make sure you don’t cling on to someone for too long, you still have to make your own journey. Not follow someone else’s.

So this national park -The Grampians- where I’m currently at is apparently the mekka for climbers. Didn’t even know that until someone pointed this out on my FB after I checked in..  Errrr I just ended up here on my way to Melbourne. Me and Pierre (my French buddy from the farm) were looking for a free camp (they’re free camping spots for backpackers and they’re awesome!) At least this one is awesome. We arrived and saw two wallabies having a picknick right at our spot. You don’t have to make reservations. You can come and go whenever you feel. And if you’re lucky there are even showers and toilets.
We just came here to get our hikes up and found it through an app called Wikicamp. Gee, Gumtree and Wikicamp you basically know the two tools to make you a real backpacker. Is this a great guide or what??

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We’re not pro campers or anything. We just sleep in the car. I’m writing this while the handbrake is sticking into my spine. I’ve just watched the stars fade out through the windshield and felt inspired to write this while little bugs are flying into my screen, trying to eat all the letters. Yes, I’m typing all this on my phone. It’s bugs galore over here.
There are definitely some snakes out here too.

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And spiders. And the shingleback lizard.

oh my!

This is the one. Funny looking creature. With his stumpy tail, it looks like it has two heads.

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(This is what happens when I can’t sleep…)

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You’ve read a few of my inserts. You’ve seen how my brain works and likes to link certain happenings to certain familiarities. Mostly movie scenes or quotes.

Well in real life my brain also likes to look for connections to make. I believe some things in life don’t just randomly happen. I see connections flying all over the place. Maybe they’re not always there. But I like to believe they are. For instance what are the chances you travel all the way to the other side of the globe to arrive on a farm to find there not only an organizer with all your favorite DVD’s. But also an iPod belting out all of your favorite songs. Songs that defined some serious moments in your life. It almost felt like I had arrived in an alternate universe where I don’t just take a walk Down Under, trying to define my future, but am actually being forced to a trip down memory lane as well. Some of the songs I heard on the farm couldn’t have possibly been there… And yet they were coming out of an iTunes play list. Vomiting them out. Catapulting me back to some defining moments in a not so far away history.

Why did I want to come to Australia, actually? I can think of a couple of reasons, but I only made those up right after Oz crossed my mind. Was it a subconscious thing? To send me to a place where I would look at things from a different perspective? I mean, Australia, the land Down Under, a land of antipodes, … Sounds like THE destination for it…

Sometimes I feel like the universe is playing a trick on me. On all of us, actually. To see if we really see. I think it is constantly putting things in front of our nose. Making things clear to us, making us see connections. Only it’s mostly what happens when you hold a carrot in front of a rabbit’s nose. His eyes won’t see it cause he is too focussed on the surroundings instead of seeing what’s in front of him.

Woow, I got a bit spiritual there, didn’t I?

These forest scents most have gotten to me.

Or probably it’s from all the thinking while hiking. The hikes here sure are beautiful. The Grampians is definitely a must see. Make sure you go all the way up The Pinnacle. It’s quite challenging and for the energetic hikers among us but the top view is spectacular. Also on the way up there you’ll encounter some pretty amazing backgrounds to feed your Instagram…well ahm… feed. Also make sure you see The Canyons and The MacKenzie falls. They’re a beaut.

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En route to the Grampians

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MacKenzie Falls

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Grand Canyon

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The Pinnacle

The day after Pierre and I felt like hiking some more and we went to Cape Bridgewater. It was a 11K hike (return) along the cliffs and coastline eventually leading to a lookout where you can spot a colony of 650 Australian and New Zealand fur seals. You have to take some binoculars with you. Or a big camera lens. And water. And sunscreen. And a rain coat. And a towel. We had all kinds of weather going there, including some harsh showers on the way back. It felt like a mini hail storm. But the walk is very pretty and mostly flat. You can even do it on thongs.

bridgewater

“Where are the seals, I CAN’T SEE ANY!”

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Cape Bridgewater

flowergirl

So to answer my initial question: Is this a even a guide? Damn right this is a guide! A guide to show you you don’t need a guide at all. A guide to send you on your way to explore yourself, eventually leaving you with a bit more of a clue of what life is about. What YOUR life is about. Just follow your nose and go with the flow. You’ll be fine. And if you’re not, you will be eventually. Not all things go well or as smooth as you would have hoped.  Just remember something good (or even better) will come along soon. Just keep those beady little eyes open and make sure you don’t miss it.

Always remember to write your own story. Don’t follow chapters others lay out for you. Make it a beautiful story to tell, guys!

XO

PS: Follow my daily adventures on instagram.com/evarielien
Peace!

Farewell farm. Farewell SA.

So I came into this farm, absolutely clueless of what the Australian farm life would be like. And I have to say, the first days I was having some trouble finding my place.

“Okay Ev, your chores today are to: feed the chooks, fill up the horse basins, check the ram’s water in the ram paddock, cut the lawn, feed the sheep using the tractor do some washing of clothes, hang up and bring back in again. And if you have some time left: sweep the stables, tidy up the common room and do some dishes.”

I already told you the first day I found a dead cockatoo in the horse basins. And that the only seemingly fun thing on the list -feeding little woolly chooks- turned into a nightmare because of that rooster attacking me and flying up against my legs and even high up to my face. Well, I didn’t know how to use the lawn mower, forgot the instructions for driving the tractor and spent one full hour trying to figure out how washing machines work Down Under. Apparently you just lift the lid, pour laundry powder in there, put all your clothes randomly in there together and then add some fabric softener. There is no separate thing to put the soap in which would really upset my mom since she works in the quality laundry machine business… Any who. My first two days were disaster and I had to constantly bother Sammy at work asking her how the funk things worked. How do I recognize a ram out of the other sheep anyway? And what in a name is a ram paddock?

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Well two weeks later I’m running over these lands like a pro farmer. Joy riding the tractor, mowing the lawn for hours laughing away like a little toddler on a little machine kart, and not minding that rooster anymore. The moment I walked into that shed fearless, he just stopped attacking me. He must have gotten the memo.

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Also the spiders don’t scare me anymore. Or not as much as they used to. These nasty eight legged buggers aren’t my favorite companions either. But I do regret how I handled some of them. The first few nights in my shed I was feeling all confident with my little can of highly effective bug spray. Spraying every spider, every web, every bug I encountered. Die, fuckers, DIE! One night there was this black spider surfing over my carpet. Apparently it had hitched a ride on the back of a moth navigating it straight into its web through a hole in the carpet. I was spectacularly convinced I had just discovered the flying black spider, a breed not yet to have been discovered in the stretched lands of the South Australian terrains. And since I must have looked like I had seen a ghost -all pale and with my black hoodie tightened firmly around my face- I thought of nothing better than to spray the hell out of that hole hosing the black spider down with heaps of white toxic goo, watching him slowly die… So far for scientists naming the spider after you, Ev!

It wasn’t until the next day I discovered that some spiders are really good at keeping the bad ones out. Then I learnt I must have killed quite a few good ones and it just made me feel sad a little…

I guess not all of them are bad. There is this big ass spider called the huntsman. He is brown, fugly and has these incredibly long hairy legs but apparently he just wants to cuddle and be your friend. I mean, how cute is that? Might not wanna befriend a funnel web spider though. This is the deadliest spider ALIVE. And here I am fearing redbacks and white tails. This funnel web will mess you up pretty badly and guess where it’s at? In Sydney. One of the places I’m going next…

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The huntsman ❤

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The funnel web!!!

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So it’s farewell to the farm life after almost three weeks. And farewell to South Australia in general. Me and backpacker Pierre are gearing up the car as we speak, to head to Melbourne, Victoria. I was already planning to go from Adelaide to Melbourne before I arrived on the farm. When I got here, I shook the hand of a tall French guy with an ever darkening tan, to find out he is going to Melbourne in a few weeks. And he has his own car! We hadn’t only known each other for 1.30 minutes or I already invited myself to tag along. I figured I had another 2 weeks to get to know him and find out if he was a serial killer or not. Turns out he’s -would you ever have guessed?- NOT. And I also learnt he cooks up an amazing chocolate cake. Not that this would be of any use on the road, since we don’t have an oven to take with us, but any guy who enjoys making chocolate cake like he does cannot possibly be a bad apple. So yeah, me and Pierre are off on our little road trip. Leading us past … ahm… some national park which name I keep forgetting and The Great Ocean Road! Woowie! Once we arrive in Melbourne we will go our own separate ways since he’s going to New Zealand and Hawaii and I’m, … well… , still deciding on that actually (big toothy smiley). I must say I have some catching up to do. Only a little over a month left and I still have loads to see here in Australia. It will be a little bit of a rat race with 20 kilos attached to my back. I hope I easily find places to sleep, since I’m not booking any hostels in advance, since I don’t know when I will arrive where, SINCE THE ONLY PREPARATION I HAD WAS WATCHING ‘THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER’ IN THE PLANE.

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So yeah, pretty exciting! (big toothy smileys all over)

Will miss the farm. Sammy’s great food. Nick’s passionate talks about bees and beer. Bread day (on Thursdays Sam would bring heaps of free bread from the bakery), My Kitchen Rules. And the hot butcher next door. Maybe I’ll come back for him when he’s matured -he’s only 23! Can’t say when he has grown a beard since he has a magnificent one growing on his gorgeous face already.

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“What’s that Pierre? You’re ready to hit the Great Ocean Road? I hear ya buddy!”

Good bye everyone, take care! And Sammy, every time I look at my toe nails I will think of you. I promise!

XO

Here’s a little photo album:

*That time Sammy and I went to pet some hairy pigs…

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That look you give the owner when you ask him if they have sharp teeth. TURNS OUT THEY DO!!!1455238252130

  • Sam and I used to text. Even if we were only 10 meters away.

(Funny how she completely ignored this final text where I got myself electrocuted and bumped my head against the stable door. Farm life as usual! )

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The chooks …And the fugly rooster.

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Boys stuff (FYI this is not a meth lab)

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Girls stuff

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Nightly visits

I like to drink as much water as I can here on the ‘station’. (It’s not really a station, were not in the outback and we don’t have black fleshy Angus dotting the fields stretching thousands of square kilometers in area) and every time before I go to bed I make sure I empty my bladder. You better make sure you do since the nearest toilet is 50 meters away. I lied, the nearest toilet is 25 meters away but that’s the outside shitter and unless you want to get bitten by god knows what you don’t go there at night time. Sammy did it once. She was sitting on the outside toilet when all of a sudden a black snake decided to wring herself in between her feet to come say hi. They’re drama seekers.

So every time before I go to bed I make sure I go. But every night between 2 and 3 I wake up desperately needing to pee. At first I just lie there for five minutes trying to decide if I could hold it in. In my brain it’s like my mind and bladder are flipping coins. If the mind wins, I stay in bed until the clicking sound of this not further specified little insect that’s eating the carpet cradles me back to sleep. If the bladder wins, I collect all my courage and my flash light to face the night. A good 14 nights have I spent here and only one time has the mind won. So practically every bloody time I have to collect all my courage to get up at night and empty my bladder. Tonight was another night like this. I had woken up between two and three and heard the carpet eater was at it again. Feasting on the rug with his tiny but microscopically enlarged undoubtedly grose grinder mouth with like a million little teeth. Only milliseconds later to discover I had to pee really bad. At first I sighed. Then I knocked over every bloody thing on my night stand because I was searching for the light switch with my big flat uncoordinated hand. Once I had found it, I switched it on and immediately scared away because of the light hitting the corrugated wall, projecting insecty shadows on it that were mostly just part of my imagination.

… Ahm no… They’re not. There are two cockroaches sitting right there. *SPRAY!*

I grab my flash light, wiggle my foot in some thongs while wearing socks, give the surrounding area an inspection and then open the door that leads to the common room. I’m always more at ease when Trina, Jessie’s dog, is lying at my doorstep. But tonight she must have been sleeping in Jessie’s room. I walk towards the outside door, lighting up the floor to see where I’m going, take a deep breath and open the door. I must emphasize this is an every night routine. Before I leave the common room I make sure I use my flash light to glide over the ground and surrounding landscapes first before putting one foot out there. The coast seems clear. I walk my way down the path that leads to Sammy and Nick’s house. I try not to walk on the grass, since you never know what’s hiding in there and ready to jump at you. I’m hugging shadows at this point. My flash light is this small pocket version that doesn’t light up very much. It’s more something to reassure me on my way down there because otherwise I would be as blind as a mole. What I fear most on my way to the toilet is the brown snake. From what I remember from the wildlife park they are fast, aggressive and fatal. And Noah had it happen to him already that he encountered one right on this path during a nightly visit to the toilet. Apparently it was still a baby one so it got scared and rushed off into the grass. But this was 2 years ago so it’s probably a pretty mature snake by now. Not that they get like colossal or anything. They probably end up getting not longer than 6 foot. And they’re quite slender as well. You can easily mistake them for a long twig or hose lying around. Until it jumps on you and latches onto you with its fangs. Apparently a (superficial) graze of one fang is enough to inject a lethal dose of poison into you. A lady had it happened to her, this was in the news recently: she was sitting outside when a brownie came up to her to bite her in the ankle. She didn’t really feel it (she must have had really thick ankles) But she started to feel rather iffy after she had felt ‘something’ sting her foot. When she went to the doctor’s they were looking for a prominent vampire bite mark but they didn’t find any on her so she couldn’t have possibly been bitten by a brown snake. They thought… They sent her back home (!) stating she had just suffered a little heart problem, NOT giving her the antivenom. A couple of hours later the venom had spread through her body, leaving her hands and face all black. The venom messes with your lymph nodes.  

She survived but she won’t return to her usual self for years to come. These thoughts flash through my head whenever my precious body parts leave the shed to go to the bathroom. I had reached the backdoor and quickly went inside. Thank god, we survived the first round; half way there. I lift the seat to make sure there aren’t redbacks hiding underneath before I plant my white bikini bottom defined bum on there to do my thing. I pull my pants up, wash my hands, look in the mirror (note to self: never look in the mirror, every night you look the same with your face all red from a) the hoodie that is strapped too tight around your head and b) for getting sunburn on top of sunburn.) I grab my flash light, navigate myself to the outside door, take a deep breath, open it and step outside. I haven’t had set one foot outside or I am startled by this hissing sound. At first I just want to pretend I didn’t hear it but it’s too present to ignore. Fuck, this must be the matured brown snake. I must have woken it up!! Noah said it has been hiding out in the compost hoop and brown snakes get very territorial. I must have been trespassing on his turf! Stirring him up! I seek for a moving hose or twig with my ever so small flash light, desperately needing some reference point on where this snake is since the hissing is becoming more apparent and close by. I shine irregularly when all of a sudden I see these big piercing eyes gazing at me. AAH! …. I jump up one meter. Cheshire! That bloody cat from Jessie’s was just sitting there, not hissing, but having a laugh at me the entire time. She jumps away in the darkness, blissfully unaware of what death lurks in there. God damnit. I quickly tip toe back to the common room, sticking to the path, and get in as quickly as possible. My heart pounding like crazy. Already now my heart is racing, I can’t believe how I would ever keep calm after suffering a poisonous snake bite. Since an elevated heart rate spreads the poison faster through your blood. Making you die even quicker. Mother Nature is brutal Down Under.

I run in my room and quickly jump on the bed, wrapping myself in my safe covers -well right after checking no other animal got in there with me- to switch off the light and cover my eyes with my hands. My heart rate slows down. The clicking sound of the carpet eater cradles me to sleep. I feel myself slip away into a soft buttery sleep when I hear a thunder roll in my stomach, echoing in the room. Sammy’s pumpkin risotto apparently didn’t fill me up like it should have and suddenly I start craving one of the cookies in the big white box on top of the kitchen cabinet in the common room. Sigh. Same routine again. Ruining night stand, switching on light, wiggling toes in thongs and inspecting surroundings with my flash light. 2 minutes, one cookie and a glass of milk later I’m back rolled up in my bed cover. Feeling courageous and content. All my needs fulfilled. All… (yawn!)…my needs… fulfilled… .

(I wrote this last night between 2.30 and 4 am)

XO

Home (-sick)

Homesickness is the distress or impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home.[1] Its cognitive hallmark is preoccupying thoughts of home and attachment objects.[2] Sufferers typically report a combination of depressive andanxious symptoms, withdrawn behavior and difficulty focusing on topics unrelated to home.[3][4][5]

I have thought about home. About my brother, who’s having his first baby soon, my mother who is worried sick about me, my father who is far too active on Facebook and my best friend who now has to go to parties without me…. I have thought about them a lot. But I don’t miss a single one of them…

Ouch Evelien, that’s a pretty harsh thing to say innit?

– Well, … Is it?

I mean, why would I travel all the way to the other side of the world, where everything turns backwards, the seasons are upside down, people drive on the left and the midland looks like Mars? To be pretty damn far away from everything and everyone, I reckon*.

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I have been in South-Australia for almost three weeks now. One week of holiday, two weeks on the farm. And I’m enjoying myself every day.

Why would anyone wanna stay in the South that long? Fact: the rest of the continent considers the southern folks to be a bunch of bacon loving bogans. But the truth is: if it wouldn’t be nice down here, I wouldn’t have stayed this long. And by the look of the Crocs and white socks on my feet, maybe I am just a big bogan too.

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So you know I’m physically doing well. You’ve seen my updates pop up on Instagram and Facebook. But how’s the inner Eve doing? I hear you wonder. As you can read in my bio, I was kinda worn out when I left Belgium. I had reached a ceiling and needed some time to clear my mind. Well, I have had plenty of time to reflect on my life here. I have just spent four hours scrubbing a stove and an oven to absolute polished perfection, just because I found it therapeutic. As I scrub I see my life roll in front of my eyes like a movie. How far I’ve come -literally 15.975,96 km- but also the turns and directions I’ve taken in my life. Some dead ends. But mostly exciting roads that lead to amazing experiences. This farm life definitely puts into perspective how crazy hectic my life was before. The media, the rat race, the constant tap dancing between success and failure.

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But it made me the adventurer I am today, I guess. It’s crazy to see that ME, the girl who used to have such a big fear of being abandoned when she was a kid, became so independent. I used to be scared of everything. I was raised by a bunch of pessimists. Basically everyone in my dad’s family missed out on brilliant careers as safety inspectors. They would always warn me for the dangers in life, all the things that could go wrong.

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Well it didn’t help I grew up in a time where Belgium’s major export product were pedophiles and child molesters. I am still aware of the dangers, I’m not THAT clueless. I keep my eyes open while traveling alone, but I also keep them open to see the good parts. My fear of abandonment has been reduced to minus 1.000.000.000.000. … . I hear some backpackers have their parents over to stay with them for a couple of weeks. I just couldn’t imagine my parents on a 20 hour flight. My mom wouldn’t understand any of the in flight entertainment since the movies -including the menu- are all in English, my father would snore the entire way people would freak out thinking one of the engines fell out.

I’m such a loner, sometimes this worries me. When I imagine my future I think I will live somewhere on a mountain top with my future husband, two kids and two dogs. Somewhere far away from the outside world. Not having to deal with a lot of other people. Just living a very natural way of life. That sounds like bliss.

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I do blame my job for my over independentness… independence… inde… ah whatever! In a good way. It taught me to be inventive, to do deal with problems on the spot, …
I remember my first day as a journo. I had to go to this press event with loads of celebrities attending. I didn’t have any time to prepare. I just jumped in my car and drove with both hands wrapped tightly around the steering wheel since I had just gotten my temporary driver’s license. When I arrived I noticed I had no pen or paper on me (a journo’s basic attire). I had to use my diary and an eye pencil to make notes…

But most of all I blame Disney for making me spend all my life savings on traveling and seeing the world. That company made a hard headed dreamer out of me. Portraying girls who are a little left of center, and want to be part of something bigger. They got me completely brainwashed.

So yeah, I’ve been thinking about life a lot. I still don’t know what I will do when I return to Europe in five months from now. But … -I RECKON- that doesn’t matter. I don’t know what I will be doing next week either, besides going to Melbourne. What I will do there? Where I will sleep? Where I will have a stop on the Great Ocean Road to take my next selfie? Don’t know, don’t care. I just follow my nose. I have done this the past few weeks and it hasn’t let me down so far. In fact: the best plan I ever had was to have no plan at all.

However, I doubt I will just pick up my life where I left it. I left it for a reason, so some things will definitely change. Things will probably simplify more. Other than that I leave all my options open. I’m planning to live life to my full potential. I’m not super confident or anything but I do have a strong belief people can achieve more than they think and let themselves be limited by others too much.

You read my bio, and how much I like to live life to the fullest. I strongly believe in reincarnation. Only I don’t believe you have to die first in order to experience this. If I choose to live a bunch of different lives, acquire a bunch of different trades, I can. It’s not because I don’t speak Japanese, I can’t be speaking it two years from now. It’s not because I am not a triathlete, I can’t be a few months from now. What if I want to become a martial arts expert, who’s gonna stop me? Me? Because I’m a journalist and locked myself into that box till eternity? Ahm… don’t think so.

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You: “So I can become anything I want, ay? Okay Evvy, I wanna become a millionaire.”
– Well why not? It’s not something you just wish for, though. But if you work hard, sure you can be the next Jordan Belfort. Why wouldn’t you?

Just look up some old David Beckham pics and you’ll see ANYTHING is possible in life.

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(#Dafuq?!)

You: “Uhu, and what if I wanna become a Jedi?”
– Well there are lightsaber schools you can attend, so yeah, this is possible. I’m sure you can work something out with your fellow class mates to re-enact some cool Jedi story lines and perform some (staged) mind tricks.

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I know a guy in New York who puts on a super hero costume every day to help authorities fight small criminals. Just don’t get yourself deliberately bitten by a poisonous spider. I’m pretty sure you won’t turn into Spiderman. And if you do, just remember: with great power, comes great responsibility.

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XO

Bank stats: I have been in Australia for almost one month and I have hardly spent a nickel. People don’t need much when you come to think of it. We just like to think we do. I haven’t been wearing much make up either. Only 10 % of what I usually smear on my face every day. Maybe this is why I save up so much money.

* Famous Aussie stop word. They just put it in every sentence possible.