Once upon a time in Wollongong…

After my surprise visit to Melbourne, I boarded my return flight back to Sydney to start my east coast trip all the way up to Cairns. Except this time I wasn’t surprising anyone, I was en route to get a PLANNED cuddle from my gal I hadn’t seen since my exchange year in Sweden in 2016!! The first time I met Ebony we were at a pub quiz in one of the student nations in Uppsala. I was a wee bit drunk and knocked a whole jug of water round a paper table cloth, which she then proceeded to rip into little pieces and chuck in the bin before anybody noticed and shouted at me. I knew then and there that this girl would stay in my life forever. And when I bumped into her randomly in Croatia one summer hiking the steps of the town walls I knew it wasn’t a coincidence.

So when I was planning my round the world trip it was unthinkable to go to Sydney and not make the trip down to Wollongong to see her and finally meet her friends and family – who, btw are some of the kindest people I’ve ever met in my entire life. As soon as I arrived it felt like I was instantly part of the gang. Her parents (wassup Steve and Julie I know you’re reading this!) made me feel so comfortable and nothing was too much trouble for them. Between the pair of them they fed me, washed all of my clothes, sewed up my broken packing cubes and gave me the best travel advice EVER for the rest of my east coast trip. I can’t thank them enough for everything they did for me and I definitely couldn’t have picked a better way to start my AUS adventure than talking to them about their own experiences in Australia and around the world. It just made me SO excited for everything that was about to come my way…and I could barely wait to get started.

As for Ebony’s friends…I honestly couldn’t write a single bad thing about any of them. Aside from the fact that every single person I met was absolutely drop dead gorgeous (you included Blake). They were hilarious, welcoming and just plain FUN to be around. Even when Eb had something on for a couple hours one day, her cousin Courtney came and picked me up, took me sightseeing and on the way back home again she introduced me to Chickos (and my first food-induced coma since leaving the UK). Like I said in my last post, it was impossible for me to eat pretty much anything in Asia so I lost quite a lot of weight in quite a short amount of time…technically I had some catching up to do. Lauren and Alana also took me to see the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge then took me on a ferry to Manly beach where Ebony picked us up and drove us home. It was like having my own glam tour guides/ photographers showing me the best of what Sydney had to offer. I was in my element.

So between the 8th and the 20th March, every single day was absolutely jam packed full of activities, and it really is true when they say ‘time flies when you’re having fun’. We managed to pack more into those 12 days than what’s usually in a month long itinerary (Eb should really purse a career as a travel agent I swear she’s better than 90% of the ones I’ve dealt with so far…). She drove me down to Kiama to see the infamous blow hole (years and years of water pressure had formed a natural hole for water to BLOW up from the sea below). The next day she took me to meet my first ever Kangaroo (!) and drove home over the sea cliff bridge and took a pretty cute candid on top of Bald Hill (awwwww looook at us). We trekked down to the whitest sand beach in Australia and swore under our breath as we trudged up the treacherous ‘sublime’ hike – why we asked Lauren to come with us I’ll never know, she was like something off the cover of women’s fitness and put us both to shame, hardly breaking a sweat while we all but passed out at the top. The view was well worth the stairs – although I’m not so sure Ebony would agree with me…I lost count of the amount of times she told me she hated me the entire way up that goddamn mountain.

Fast forward to the next day when it was Laurens turn to keep me occupied. We walked along the boardwalk and I was actually having to periodically pinch myself that I was there, on Bondi Beach, in Australia – somewhere that you’ve seen on TV and heard about from people who’ve been but never actually imagined you’d get to yourself. The surprises kept coming when Laurens pal Alana came to join us. After a brief introduction and when I told her I was from Scotland she said, ‘aw my dad is from scotland, he’s from a little town I’m not sure you’ll know, Greenock?”. I lost my head. How crazy is it that you can be sitting on a beach in Australia with a friend of a friend of a girl you met on your year abroad in Sweden who’s dad comes from the same town you were born in. You couldn’t write it. And to top it all off she was actually heading there in the summer. So I was in her neck of the woods and she’ll soon be off to my home town. It’s a crazy, crazy world I’ll tell you that.

But not as crazy as what I’m about to write next…

No doubt you’ll have seen the photos of me plummeting to the earth at 200kmph but I’m going to write about it anyway. BECAUSE HOLY CRAP I JUMPED OUT OF A PLANE. Me. The girl who couldn’t get in a glass lift in a shopping centre less than 6 months ago lobbed herself out a plane at 15,000ft with 4 of my best pals. WHAT. Motorbikes, scuba-diving and now sky-diving…my poor mother will have a whole head of grey hair by the time I get home, or thats what she keeps telling me! But oh Jesus what an experience. I cant say I’ll be in any great hurry to do it again because as much as it was an adrenaline rush like no other it was also pretty terrifying considering I didn’t really do it…properly. In my video (that no one has seen yet…) you can actually see me holding onto the bar above the plane door for grim death…and you can also see my tandem instructor yank my arm off the bar and chuck me out the plane before I had a chance to say otherwise.

Instead of taking a minute to gather my breath, sort my legs and neck out, we sort of FELL towards the ground. Vertically. It was only mid air that my position was adjusted into the free falling shape…and you can imagine what my face looked like…I’ve never known a better feeling than when he pulled that parachute and we lurched upwards, revealing the beaches of the east coast of Australia as far as your eyes could see. It was spectacular. Those few minutes of swinging around doing twists and turns over the bright blue ocean are some of the quickest (but also longest) moments of your whole life as you try and force yourself to commit it all to memory so you never forget what it feels like to feel so…free. You’re also in complete awe that you just did what you did, and didn’t DIE so your head is absolute mush. I’m surprised I remember any of it to be honest – it all happened so bloody fast. But I do remember it, and I loved every second. Even though I was terrified, I didn’t let it impact my experience, and IM SO PROUD of myself because that’s exactly what this year is all about. Megs 3, Irrational Fear -10000.

And after all that excitement and adrenaline it was time to celebrate…and begin to say my goodbyes. On my second last day, we got all dolled up, got our booze and got the train to Coogee, a classy little place just south of Bondi Beach to have one last blowout before I had to be on my merry way. I’m so glad we got photos before I set eyes on that bottle of Little Fat Lamb, because what a STATE I was in by the time it was finished. Who knew that a litre bottle of 8% booze could turn you into a lemon incapable of standing, sitting or as it turns out, resembling anything remotely alive. I was an absolute shell of a human the next day. Thank god Eb didn’t have anything planned but chill because it’s the closest I’ve came to voluntarily knocking myself out to escape the little monkeys crashing symbols in my head. NEVER. AGAIN. Take it from me, little fat lamb should come with a warning label and a pack of aspirin.

Absolutely Kylie Fckn Jennered…

But as much as I was enjoying slotting myself into Ebony’s life in Tarrawanna, Wollongong it was time to get a move on and follow the sunny weather up the coast to Queensland. My flight to Gold Coast left Sydney airport at stupid o’clock in the morning on the 20th, and I walked through the airport doors, tears and snotters running down my chin, not knowing when my next cuddle from my little Aussie gal would be.

But its never goodbye, Eb.

It’s always see you later.

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