WORDS BY: Hannani Hasnan
As much as people talk about new cultures and experiences – all still very true – I feel like the part of studying in a different country that everyone actually looks forward to is the travelling bit, where you go on impromptu road trips and catch random, long bus rides to watch the sunset.
I feel like one year in Australia isn’t nearly enough time to explore every nook and cranny of the place, but it’s just enough to collect a handful of moments and anecdotes that would last me a couple of years’ worth of conversations.
It was a challenge narrowing it down to a short list, but upon a few hours of scrolling through my camera roll, I present to you my top 5 surprises in Australia over the course of 2022 (the good and the bad).
1. A Scooby Doo-Induced Scare
In retrospect, I’m not entirely sure if the Green Lantern Coaster at Warner Bros Movie World was the best option for someone who has never gone on a roller coaster before, especially when a tiny ferris wheel had made me cry when I was eight, but it did get the ‘first roller coaster’ experience out of the way. And call it peer pressure or FOMO, but I also somehow made it out of the DC Rivals Hypercoaster (alive!).
That was fine.
That’s when I thought I would cool down after the adrenaline with a fun, cute little ride at the Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster.
It was not cute, and I’ll let this expression speak for itself. 😵💫
2. Rain AND Shine in Noosa
We had a couple of weeks before semester started, so that meant finding any and every scenic place we could find within a 200 km radius. Naturally, that meant that Noosa and the Sunshine Coast were at the top of the list, right after Gold Coast.
I’d heard all about the unpredictable Queensland weather, but the skies decided to show me exactly what that looks like the minute I started my hike at Noosa National Park. Don’t worry – I brought an umbrella, which promptly flipped over the second I opened it in the coastal wind. It rained every five minutes and scorched me in between the showers…but the views? Worth it.
3. That Random 3 Hour Bus Ride to Wellington Point
It was in the middle of a bank appointment at 1 PM when my friend suggested – very plainly – that a Google search had yielded very Instagram-worthy sunset photos taken from Wellington Point.
I didn’t think we were the type to be so easily swayed, but moments later we were sitting in a 3 hour bus ride to the exact same spot.
Yes, they were very nice sunset photos. 🌅
4. An Impromptu Sydney Trip
The thing about not planning a trip properly means that things have a tendency to go south. We also did go south, physically, to Sydney after buying concert tickets on a sleep-deprived, post-assignment whim. I’d been to Sydney before, on a trip with an Excel sheet itinerary and pre-booked entry passes, so it gave me an idea of where to go before the concert started.
Important foodie highlights?
- Steaming hot cream puffs from Emperor’s Garden Cakes
- Chocolat Chaud from Manon Brasserie
- The seasonal truffle menu at IIKO Mazesoba
5. Melbourne Winter Encounters
Growing up in Southeast Asia, you get used to the four seasons being sun, rain, more sun, and more rain. I was super excited for my first time seeing snow, on a (planned!) trip to Melbourne with my friends, where I very poorly attempted to learn how to ski at Mt Buller.
I came back a little bruised and no better at skiing than I was before.
All in all…
Graduating soon means looking back at all these crazy times, and if there’s one thing I learned from my year here, it’s that planning (and not planning) trips in Australia doesn’t leave you any less vulnerable to the sometimes scary, sometimes funny, but ultimately remarkable surprises you’ll get here.
With any luck, I’ll find a couple more before the year ends…