On my 18th birthday, I made my first two decisions as a legal adult:
- I turned down my university acceptance, and
- I applied for an Australian visa.
The most supportive member of my family offered me counselling, and when that didn't dissuade me, a self-defence course. Unfortunately for my parents, there weren't many positive news stories about solo female backpackers to convince them that I would be all right.
And it turns out that they had every right to worry.
I remember waiting for the bus that would take me to my hostel in Alice Springs: I was in the middle of the Australian desert with the most recent copy of The Lonely Planet guide to Australia, but I didn't bring a bottle of water. To say that I was unprepared is an understatement.
I romanticized that I was going to be a mysterious foreign waitress in Australia who would make a few lifelong pen pals, and get some necessary (and I mean necessary) enlightenment before returning to Canada and starting a degree. But jobs are hard to come by when half of Australia is underwater, and the other half is on fire.
The floods that devastated the state of Queensland in 2010 dictated that I work on a dairy farm, pulling tits to afford my stay. As it turns out, farm life is hardly romantic when you’re combing cow shit out of your hair before bed.
But that’s not to say that my nine-month stint in Australia was uneventful. Far from it. Whether it was food safety, encounters with poisonous critters, tractor driving, or swimming with sharks—I learned everything the hard way.
So if you’re wondering how a young Canadian woman with no life skills, an allergy to sunscreen, and no water bottle made it out of the Australian desert alive—stay tuned.
Cara enjoys long romantic walks down the makeup aisle, and what hasn't killed her has made her chilopodophobic. Once she was a backpacker, but now she prefers her morning shower to be cockroach-free. An aspiring novelist and comedian, she can often be found making bad puns on social media.