“count all the bees in the hive…chase all the clouds from the sky..”
for the 28 years i have been alive, i have had many adventures with my favourite human. he’s held many titles in his life…some people call him by his first name, others might call him a clever nickname, he’s been a son, a husband, a brother, a construction worker, project manager, salmon conservationist, scraped knee healer, pb & j chef extraordinaire, car sing-a-long buddy, a partner in minor crime, a guitarist, attempted pilot, cheerleader, bank account lender, sailor, singer, a hero, best friend and i am lucky enough to be one of only two humans on the planet that get to call him dad.
from camping in the sand dunes of oregon where my 4 year old social world grew to my first trip to mexico where my 18 year old cultural curiosities sparked, we have made some epic memories together. it’s been 11 years since i have spent a full 3 weeks with my father. the 21 days i got to spend with him in my beloved australia, are days that i will forever be grateful to have with him.
i had been exploring australia by myself, with some old mates from back home and new ones made here for 8 months by the time he got here. exploring australia with my dad was incredibly special. without blasting his current age, a full circle has come about from his visiting me in my time here. at age 18 he had the opportunity to backpack through australia and new zealand with some high school buddies and as life happens, didn’t end up going. so many bucket list boxes ticked for us both now. we had a tearful greeting at the melbourne airport, when i realized dad came here with a backpack…and a bad back and terrible knees from being a stupid boy when he was younger, i had to call the man a bloody idiot, but give him heaps of credit…gotta love the optimism! we spent some time in a cool rental flat experiencing west brunswick, the cbd, and surrounding areas. a 21 hour train ride was a bit rough on the old man, but he survived the cramped locomotive mode of traveling like the legend he is and we were in sydney. we had a minor setback with accommodation, however, my problem solver and credit card possessing dad bailed us out and i lapped up some much needed luxury in the ordeal. transported back to age 4 again, we visited the prehistoric beasts that have been my obsession and saw the tyrannosaurs exhibit at the australia museum, learned about the history of this place, it’s people and all the strange creatures that inhabit it. we took the ferry out to manly beach (one of my favourite places in oz) and swam with endangered grey nurse sharks, massive sting rays and ancient sea turtles to celebrate the 18th anniversary of dad’s 40th birthday. renting a car, we journeyed to the blue mountains where i almost killed him with 10km worth of bush walking and hiking, but again, he champed through and came out alive…breathing heavy…but alive.
photo credit: dear ol’ dad and myself
photo credit: scuba instructor whose name i can’t recall
it’s a bit hilarious that you’re instantly back at age 16 when you drive with a parent as a passenger in the car you’re driving. i did well, after 8 months of riding on the australian passenger side of a car and driving on the other side of the road, i was a master, but comments were still made and dad may have seen his life flash before his eyes a few times in dramatic fits, but we survived. returning from the blues, we took a detour and explored palm beach and whale beach outside sydney and enjoyed delicious bloody mary’s and calamari. another ridiculously too long train ride got us back to melbs to spend a quick night at a hotel before another rental car took us through the coonawarra into victoria wine country on our way to adelaide.
driving into the adelaide hills, approaching the sign to glenelg, dad noticed a calm happiness come over me…i was coming home. sharing my australia home with my dad was amazing. i subjected him to a sunday sesh on the eve of an aussie holiday, which never holds a dull moment, introduced him to my people, went to mclaren vale for some wine tasting and met the most adorable 70 year old winemaker ever, hosted my beautiful friends for a family dinner and then set off for our great ocean road trip…i know, i am incredibly spoiled to have done the trek twice this year.
playing tour guide was extremely fun. seeing the beauties along the road that i had seen before wasn’t any less incredible the second time around and maybe even a little more awesome with my dad. we quite possibly saw more dead kangaroos than alive ones, but dad was still impressed by the awkwardly cool animal and took home some good photos…while i managed to lose my memory card containing my entire australia life…over 1,000 photos of photographer pride…gone. amateur mistake and massive technological lesson learned. tears shed, strength gained, moved forward and started over.
photo credit: dad and yours truly
saying goodbye always sucks. saying goodbye to my dad was really hard. i had missed him terribly for 8 months. he was my last goodbye when i left the states last october…and saying goodbye in australia made the missing him even stronger. but after 3 weeks like we had, at least we know we won’t ever feel like we missed out on writing this chapter together.