A bit more than a year ago I decided to pack my bags to live the dream in the Land Down Under. As a Belgian it was easy enough to get an Australian working holiday visa and before I knew it I had arrived in Melbourne, the World`s Most Liveable City (according to the Economist for seven years running).
I quickly got a job and spent the next six months drinking at stylish rooftop bars and soaking up the sun in the city’s parks. To keep my working visa I ended up doing regional work in Mildura, where I made fast friends with other working holidaymakers. Together we travelled the East Coast and made the most of our time in this incredible country. But something was missing.
I decided it would be very special to invite my mum, Ann, over from Belgium. She’s the person who has always supported me in following my dreams and the one I can always count on, even when I’m on the other side of the world. What could be better than bringing her here to see the city I call home? Fast forward a few weeks and we were both standing in Adelaide, ready to start our road trip from Kangaroo Island to Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road.
We got picked up by our Adventure Tours Australia guide and met our group. Our guide enthusiastically started telling us about our first stop in South Australia: Rob’s Sheep Shearing and Sheepdogs. My mum and I both raised our eyebrows. Mum screamed out loud: ‘I just flew two days to come to Australia. Sheep are in the field next to my house! I thought we were going to see kangaroos here?’.
It was embarrassing but I have to admit, I thought the same thing. I always pictured Australia to be filled with kangaroos bouncing around everywhere, not full of sheep. Even at Kangaroo Island, the place I expected to see them in droves, there was little more than a few stray ‘roos here and there. But I think I hopped to conclusions too quickly. Instead, I was blown away by Australia`s other wildlife and stunning coastal views.
We landed in Seal Bay, where we met wild sea lions up close. We watched pups frolicking in the water, big fat sea lions sunbathing on sandy beaches, and a mother calling to her pup by waving her fin in the air. I thought it couldn’t get any cuter than this! I was wrong. Later, when searching for lazy koalas at Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, the unbelievable happened. A little baby koala climbed out of the tree right in front of me. Our guide had told us we would be really lucky to see them moving, now here was this little teddy bear creature blinking up at me like `who are you?’ All I could think was `wow, did this just happen?’
On the bus I realised I had managed to tick a few things off my bucket list – meeting sea lions, seeing a koala and learning how the famous UGG boots were made. Tick, tick and tick. My dream of seeing wild kangaroos finally did come true in Victoria at the Grampians National Park. There was a magical moment where my mum and I were literally surrounded by these creatures at dusk. Another tick off the bucket list.
This wasn’t the first time we had travelled together, but travelling in Australia was a completely different experience to what we were used to. This trip was all about getting back to nature and there were a few challenging moments that brought us closer together. Shouting encouragements at my mum as she tackled the hiking trails of the Grampians, sandboarding down Little Sahara and falling over together, and standing in the refreshing spray of Mackenzie Falls. There were so many perfect places to take some beautiful mother-daughter photos and every time I look back at these photos I can`t help but start laughing out loud.
This trip changed so much of what I expected from Australia – it turned out so much better. It was the kind of thing I thought you only saw in brochures and TV commercials. We just relaxed, enjoyed the scenery together and discovered some hidden spots. Not driving meant we got to avoid learning how to drive on the opposite side of the road too.
Thanks for sharing this unforgettable adventure with me mum, I can’t wait for our next trip together!
Ready for adventure? You betcha! Jump on an Aussie roadtrip with Adventure Tours Australia now.
All photos C/O Isabelle Liekens.