Adventures in Australia

Written by Ella Cashman

 Photos taken by Ella Cashman, CLAgency student

Photos taken by Ella Cashman, CLAgency student


The day before my flight I went over my plans. The flight from California to Australia was a little over 14 hours. I don’t think I’ve ever done something for 14 hours straight before, so I felt a little nervous; would I be able to make it on such a long flight? It sounded like they would be the worst, most boring and cramped hours of my life. Then, adding in connecting flights, layover times, and inevitable delays, my estimated travel time from Minneapolis to Australia was 28 hours. As daunting as this was to me, I couldn’t think of a way I’d rather spend my winter break than in Australia.




There was no need for me to worry. You see, I have one, amazing and astounding skill, and that’s the ability to fall asleep at anytime and in any place. As it turns out, I slept through the whole international flight. I was only awake long enough to eat two inflight meals and watch ¾ of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It was probably the easiest flight of my life, or at least ranks second to my flight from Paris to London last year where I fell asleep so quickly that when I woke up I thought we hadn’t taken off yet, despite having actually already landed in London.




My reason for going to Australia was to visit some old friends and also my family. I am not Australian, but my Aunt Annette married an Aussie named Stewart and, even though they live on the other side of the world, we are very close. Another reason I decided to go is because I can’t stand how freaking cold Minnesota gets in the winter!  On one of my last days in Australia the temperature reached 107 degrees. I lost no time rubbing this in to my friends back home in Minneapolis where it was -10.


Australia is not so different from America. What I mean is, as an American, I experienced no culture shock. Probably the biggest difference between the two countries is the fact that Aussies drive on the left side of the road. But even after a few days I was used to that. My first time driving went smoothly enough, except for when the car died in the middle of nowhere.


Me, Annette, and Stewart were driving from Queensland, where we’d been camping and attending a music festival, to their home in Geelong, which is two states south in Victoria. The trip was a 4 day drive down the eastern coast. We took turns; one of us behind the wheel, one of us laying in the back seat, and the person in the passenger seat reading out Jeopardy questions. On my turn to drive, I was a little nervous, but once I’d gone a couple miles, I realized it wasn’t so bad. What tripped me up most what that the windshield wipers and turn signal knobs were switched, so every time I went to signal to turn, I would turn the wipers on. It was about an hour later that the car decided shut off; it just completely died in the middle of the highway going 110 kph. We were in the middle of nowhere, I’m talking a dry, cracked landscape as far as the eye can see. The three of us exchanged nervous glances. I was certain we’d be stranded. I envisioned us standing on the side of the road, trying to hitchhike back to the last town. The car stayed off for a while, but we eventually coxed it back to life, and good thing too, we would have been in big trouble if it hadn’t. We returned to playing Jeopardy and losing terribly. And that was the time I was (almost) stranded in the outback.




A brief observation on the animals of Australia. Australia seems to have this reputation for being dangerous due to all of the poisonous and deadly plants and animals that live there. Let me inform you right now this is entirely true. SO MANY THINGS COULD KILL YOU IN AUSTRALIA. Snakes, spiders, jellyfish, sting rays (RIP Steve Irwin), gum trees, even platypuses are both poisonous and electric. So, while I quickly learned that the stereotype is true and Australia has a surplus of things that can kill you, it is rather rare to encounter such dangers—like most animals, they keep to themselves, and if you want to see any wildlife, you have to go a bit out of your way. But, since everyone likes hearing about dangerous Australian animals, here are the *deadly* creatures I encountered: A redback spider eating another spider above my tent while camping, a huntsman spider on our car, a large group of stingrays (RIP Steve Irwin), jellyfish, and flying foxes (basically giant bats that, if they poop on you, can kill you). Some less dangerous animals I encountered: Koalas, kangaroos, emus, dolphins, sea turtles, and lorikeets.




Australia is so beautiful, especially where I was staying with my friends on the Sunshine Coast. If you google “Sunshine Coast” and then google “paradise” the pictures are indistinguishable. Everyday was warm and, being true to its name, sunny. I spent everyday at the beach, hiking national parks, and drinking vegan smoothies (my friends are devoted vegans, and I swear I’ve never eaten so healthy as I did in the week I was with them).




I spent time in Sydney and Melbourne, two very different cities, but both equally exciting to explore. Sydney is very classy and modern, from the landmark Sydney Opera House and the botanical gardens, to the tall skyscrapers and giant boats docked in the harbor. Melbourne was more artistic and cosmopolitan. It has alleyways of street art and tons of hole-in-the-wall restaurants and shops. Pace of life was much different in the city than it was up north along the Sunshine Coast, and it was great that I got to experience those two sides of Australian life.




I spent a total of three weeks in Australia, in which i did many things: I went to an Aussie barbeque and ate kangaroo. I tended to alpacas. I boogie boarded in the ocean. I kept a sharp eye out for sharks in the ocean. I did not see any sharks in the ocean. I attend the most hippy music festival I’ve ever been too. I was a vegan for a week. I went camping and learned how to avoid the spiders of the campsite. I celebrated Christmas and New Years on the beach, something that is completely impossible in Minnesota. I saw big cities, I saw small towns, I saw beach fronts, and I saw views from high cliffs. I saw a cane toad the size of my head but did not pick it up because, like many things in Australia, it’s skin in poisonous. I slept through my return international flight, despite the toddler who was throwing habitual and screeching tantrums. I drove on the left side of the road. I got sunburnt regularly. I spent time with friends who I haven’t seen in years. I became much closer with my Aunt and Uncle than I ever have been before. I fell in love with their cat, Rufus. I am planning to go back soon, partly because I want to see Rufus again, but mostly because I loved every minute I spent in Australia.