Last week I decided it was time for my first real solo trip. This week I am back in Sydney with a new ear piercing (sorry Mom and Dad!), new postcards, and new memories from my first real solo trip!
The immediate desire I had to escape to a new city alone led me to Skyscanner where I found affordable flights to Adelaide. After more research, I learned that South Australia is home to Kangaroo Island- one of Australia’s top tourist attractions and a hot spot for viewing Aussie wildlife. Being that Adelaide is a small, quiet city, it seemed like the perfect place to venture to solo. Without much more thought, I bought my flights, picked a hostel, and booked a full-day Kangaroo Island tour… all in the matter of about five minutes.
I flew to Adelaide Thursday afternoon and spent the evening in Chinatown with new German friends. Friday morning I woke up at 6 am to catch a bus down to Cape Jervis. We drove two hours south, passing several kangaroos and vineyards along the way. South Australia is the driest state on the driest continent on earth, but its conditions are great for producing wine! I boarded the Sealink ferry at Cape Jervis and arrived on Kangaroo Island at about 10 am.
Our first stop on tour was Seal Bay. We were guided down to a beach to see Australia’s largest native seal colony basking in the sun and swimming in the surf. I learned that seals operate in three-day cycles: three days of nonstop swimming to catch fish and three days of rest on shore. I’ve never seen seals in the wild, so this was quite the experience for me!
Our next stop was a two-course lunch followed by a koala walk at Hanson Bay Koala Sanctuary. I learned that koalas eat A LOT of eucalyptus, so much so that years ago Kangaroo Island was planning on killing 10,000 of them to save their precious trees! This became known to the public, and after people around the world threatened to boycott Australian tourism, the koalas were de-sexed instead. Nonetheless there are still thousands of wild koalas on Kangaroo Island, and a few hundred in the sanctuary. I was able to see several of them in the trees during the koala walk, although most of them were sound asleep!
We spent the afternoon exploring Flinders Chase National Park on the west end of the island. We first drove to the Remarkable Rocks- a cluster of (remarkable) granite boulders sculpted by waves. Next, we saw Cape du Couedic lighthouse and Admirals Arch. The natural arch was formed from years of erosion and is now home to a colony of long-nosed fur seals!
After a quick stop at the park’s Visitors Center, we drove to the ferry port and began the long journey back to Adelaide. By the time I got to my hostel, it was 11 pm… what a day!
I spent Saturday sightseeing Adelaide on my own and REALLY enjoyed it. It was so freeing to craft my own schedule and move about the city as I pleased. I started by walking along the river, passing the Adelaide Oval (sporting ground) and visiting St. Peter’s Church. Adelaide is known as the city of churches, so I’m happy I had time to go inside. I walked back over the river to Parliament, the State Library (looks like Hogwarts!), and Rundle Street for lunch. I made my way through Rundle Street Mall, stopping to get a new cartilage piercing since I was already feeling spontaneous, and then revisited Chinatown to treat myself to 48 flavors gelato. Get this- they won an award for their pear, blue cheese, walnut, and fig GELATO!! So different, and so good!!
After gelato I found myself at a Fringe Festival information booth. The Fringe Festival is a month-long arts festival in Adelaide where discounted shows and events pop up throughout the city. Someone at the hostel told me to check out a performance, so I bought tickets to a cabaret comedy show near my hostel, and it was GREAT!
I’d like to end this post with a lesson I learned:
Although I was traveling solo, I never felt alone. Everywhere I went, I met new people to share the experience with. I wasn’t nervous to travel alone, however, the thought of taking myself out to dinner gave me anxiety. I mean… hello awkward. I was dreading the idea of people feeling sorry for me like I do when I see an old man eating alone in a restaurant and reading a newspaper. I faced my fear head on and took myself to a nearby pub for dinner Saturday night. I ordered a pizza, watched some Aussie footy, and ended up talking to a few locals! I am so proud for putting myself out there, and now realize that eating alone is NOT weird. I actually got a lot of kudos for traveling alone!
So, if any of you ever wake up one day and feel like taking a solo trip, JUST GO! It is such a great way to experience a new place and to learn more about yourself.
NEXT TRIP: SURF CAMP AUSTRALIA
Until next time!