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It is amazing who you meet in the travel blogging world. Annie and I met recently after she contacted me to tell me of a memorable experience she had traveling through my hometown Woy Woy. It is not often that travelers visit our beautiful town, bypassing it on their way from Sydney up North. I thought it was really cool, that a girl from small town Washington State had a memory from my small town that always lights her up when she thinks of it. Of course, I had to have her share her story…
There are many things about my student exchange in Sydney that stick out to me as shaping moments in my life. Those kind of moments that replay in slow motion in your mind, you can see them over again like favorite movies.
Most backpackers passing through Sydney for a couple of weeks or months probably don’t make it up the coast to some of the smaller towns, but one lazy April day, I did just that.
There were five of us sitting around the couch of one of our share house that afternoon, trying to walk the fine line between being on a budget and being bored. The pages of my Lonely Planet were creased from going over and over the options. No one could come to a conclusion. I had suggested wine tasting in Hunter Valley but as the clock struck four, we had no time to get there before the wineries would be closed for the night. I looked through the book again, and my gaze fell on an unusual suggestion. The Central Coast. I offered my idea to the group, I read that there was a famous camping beach there and mentioned it’s nearer vicinity to Hunter Valley. Heads were nodding in agreement.
The next hour was a whirl of K-Mart, searching for tents and sleeping bags, packing backpacks and the necessary stop at the bottle shop. We made a fateful decision that day. Five backpackers looked at the contents of their wallets and the price tags of the alcohol and decided on a box of white wine. Soon we would learn this was the white wine that defines Australian travel, something we had never known until this day. We bought our first box of Goon.
We hopped on an evening train and were set for Gosford. For the next three hours a recycled milk carton refilled through a secret, hidden source was passed between us as we revealed to each other who we really were. Never before this trip had I really taken into consideration how amazing it was that I was living with a group of people who grew up halfway around and all over the world from me yet somehow had the same hopes and dreams. We had language barriers, we had different life experiences, but there was some fateful element that put us all together in that train in that moment. It was amazing.
After we arrived at Gosford, the station was met by five inebriated travelers, asking ever taxi in site if he would take us to Putty Beach. No one seemed to know the place, but finally one agreed. Forty-five minutes in a taxi and we were looking around the campsite. We found an open spot and as soon as the tent was pitched we set off at a sprint toward to sound of the crashing waves. Just as in the train, the hours were spent talking, laughing, exploring. We were met with the hospitality of our Aussie tent neighbor as he hunted us down with a plateful of burgers and sausages. We learned from him that Putty Beach is one of the hardest places to get a reservation for camping, we sheepishly admitted that we had just hopped out of the taxi. He didn’t seem to mind, only that we were fed and taken care of.
The night was sleepless, it was spent as each of us took the time to talk about everything we never knew before. Twenty-something years of life, ideas and events shared by five people. Accents were deciphered and stereotypes demolished. We ended that night by squeezing five people into a two person tent with three hours of tossing and turning as the sun rose.
The next morning, feeling the full effects of Goon, a hangover that a few hamburgers couldn’t even fight, we were on our way to the nearest train out of there. We walked for what felt like hours, on roads that appeared to be paved through jungles. We stumbled upon a tiny town, later we learned this town was Woy Woy. Thanks to the hospitality of a friendly cafe owner, the comfort of a little dog called Copper and some breakfast, we were as good as new. Until we learned that there was no station in walking distance and buses didn’t run on Sunday. Second taxi ride of the trip and we were finally on the train back to Sydney. We were so weary that we spent the rest of the day sleeping but when we woke up we all smiled at each other and laughed at the pictures of the best camping trip any of us had ever taken.
Annie is a young nomad currently living in Florence, Italy and discovering the humor in living with a Florentine. She came to Italy to teach English but has truly discovered her passion for travel writing and all things travel. She has just launched her new travel blog Wayward Traveller and when she is not trying to communicate with the Italians she can be found reading inspiring posts and writing some posts of her own. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook