Oliver is…

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man

…done with Australia again

To the east, to the east, the road beneath my feet,
To the west, to the west, well I haven’t got there yet,
To the north, to the north, never to be caught,
To the south, to the south, my time is running out.
– Frank Turner, The Road.

It seems fitting that the last gig I saw in Australia was Frank Turner’s, a man who was instrumental in stirring me from my comatose state in Edinburgh to get up and do something. When he started The Road I couldn’t help but feel that at least two of those lines were perfect for my situation. Why he keeps writing songs specifically for me I have no idea, I’ve never even met the man.

Ideally I would’ve written this post before I left Australia, but a combination of last minute things to get sorted and general laziness prevented that. So without further ado (it’s now exactly a month since I left), here’s that post.

After about two and a half years in Australia, my time there [in the south, in the south] has run out. What happened in that time?

I arrived in Melbourne on a rainy 30 October (where I would win a prestigious award) and travelled round the country for a while, originally following the Ashes where they went. First impressions were generally positive, although I did notice a distinct lack of good beers and cheeses (and not a Fosters to be seen). Over time that seemed to change, but I’m not sure if that was down to good finds or just me lowering expectations — my first beer on American soil seemed to indicate that I’d forgotten what a flavourful beer was like. (For all the criticisms American beers get, there is a big craft beer industry that doesn’t seem to travel as well as their bland peers.)

Of course, I was responsible for hundreds of deaths in Australia, New Zealand and Thailand (India thankfully remained untouched by my curse). Blessings in Thailand and, later, India seemed to put a halt on my killing spree, and hopefully that’ll continue for the next few months.

Surat Thani floods

Returning to Australia with the blessing of a number of different Thai monks, elders and magical bells, things generally took a positive turn. Not long after ticking off all but one of the remaining states and territories, I met a girl who was happy to put up with me and I got a job that allowed me a freedom to carry out my duties without micromanagement or much stress, and also allowed me to keep in touch with many of my friends and co-workers while also developing my professional network, hopefully one that’ll help to keep me in freelance work and on the road for the next wee while.

During my time overseas I got to expand my horizons, see some great sights and meet some amazing animals in the wild, including my quokka-block Christmas and my elephantastic week in Thailand which is still up there as one of my favourite weeks of my life. I’m still no closer to finding a direction for my life or anything, but maybe that’s not important. (Is that important?)

Ellie and Ollie

So what’s next? I’ve just been on a cruise that I’ll probably tell you about soon. That took me from Sydney to Vancouver and after a few weeks in Canada (to the west, to the west, I hadn’t got there yet) I’m planning on visiting a country that has recently been the subject of nuclear threats from a crackpot dictator, that has recently had widespread coverage because of a public bombing and where everyone carries guns. Should be safe there, right?

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