. the friendships we have made here are really special to us. Last night we had to see off Aurore as she left Hervey Bay to continue her travels in Australia, we all felt so sad to say goodbye to her and we hope to one day take her up on her offer to visit her in France. Thinking back on our time in Hervey Bay it feels like we have been in a timewarp... I know that we have done lots of things, I just can't remember what they are! Mostly we have stayed in bed until late and then spent our days reading, going for walks, watching films, chatting to people, writing, cooking, listening to music, cycling, having BBQs, going for coffee and eating pancakes.... and some days we would just sit by the beach and watch the world go by, it's a tough life! Aurore had made it her mission to teach Tom how to make perfect French pancakes and she must be a very good teacher because they were delicious and we have eaten stacks of them while we've been here. Tom also made a huge batch of cookies and we were all very happy to tuck in to them and watch the first two Lord of the Rings films... Aurore is a huge fan of the books and films so we always had plenty to talk about!
Being here for so long has meant that we have been able to experience the coming and goings of the hostel... people arrive, stay a night or two, and then they're gone again... and we are still here. In the space of three weeks we have had loads of people stay in our room with us, some of them have been lovely and others have been slightly more..
. 'interesting'. Some of the people who spring to mind include a really nice girl called Amanda who stayed with us for quite a few days and also came from Wales, a toned tanned German guy called Cesaur who hogged the mirror and took 45 minutes (yes, 45 minutes) just to gel his hair, an older Scouse guy who stank the room out and had a major wind problem and two girls who checked in a 3:30am and then promptly left the next day because they didn't like the fact it was raining. It has been really strange to see the movement of people in and out of the hostel.
Being here is Oz at this time of year has been very strange because we are both experiencing our first Christmas away from home and it is fair to say that an Australian xmas just isn't the same as at home. There is not the same build up as at home; people just don't seem as excited, there are no xmas songs on the radio, the supermarkets only have two or three shelves for xmas things, there are no decorations in the streets, shops or people's windows, no one wears Father Christmas hats and there are no lights in the windows or trees! Tom and I have been feeling quite sad that our Xmas here is going to be so small and un-Christmasy so we have decided that we probably won't celebrate it properly this year; we will treat ourselves to some nice wine and cheese for the day (and maybe get some mince pies) but we don't really feel like Christmas is happening this year
. We have tried to get in the Christmas spirit by watching xmas films with Aurore and Katrine and putting some xmas songs on in the hostel, but it hasn't really worked. Knowing that we all felt so un-Christmasy the owner of the hostel even bought us a big bag of xmas decorations so we could decorate the hostel and everyone was running around like kids stringing tinsel along the walls. However, even though it was great having the decorations, I got really teary-eyed and had a little cry when we were putting them up... it just didn't feel right. It is so sureal being in such a hot climate (it has been baking hot here for the last week or so) and having xmas decorations everywhere, it seems like someone is having a bit of a joke.
In all honesty I will be really relieved when xmas is over because it is constantly reminding me of how much I miss my family. We have both been feeling really homesick lately and I think that having a new taste of routine and familiarity at the hostel is making us think of our normal lives back home a lot more than we normally do. It is difficult to go about your day when you are constantly imagining everyone else at home doing their xmas shopping, putting their decorations up, writing their xmas cards, getting all the nice festive food for this time of year. Thinking about our families is really hard, especially when we recieve bad news from home or we hear that someone is sick or upset, because it reminds us of how helpless and far away we are..
. it seems like we are on a different planet to everyone that we care about. It is really silly because even though we are all the way around the other side of the world, when the four of us sit around the dinner table at night and eat our tea all we talk about are the things, people and food that we miss from home... Tom and Aurore can have endless conversations just about their favourite type of cheese. So after much deliberation here is a list of all the things Tom and I miss about Christmas back home: home-made mince pies, xmas scented candles, festive coffee from Starbucks, mulled wine, chestnuts, putting the lights on the xmas tree, watching xmas films, curling up with a blanket, wrapping presents, Father Christmas hats, cheesy xmas songs, the final of X-Factor and the cold (I know, I know, that's a controversial one)!
So after being here for three weeks it will be very difficult to say goodbye and move on. We will miss the freedom that we have here... every day here is free to do whatever we want, whether that be read, go for a bike ride or just sit around and be lazy. We will also miss the lovely warm beach here; because of Fraser Island protecting it, Hervey Bay doesn't get any waves and the water is always really warm. I even saw a baby shark and a puffer fish when I went paddling the other day! As we are getting closer and closer to the Great Barrier Reef we have found quite a lot of coral washed up on the beach- we don't know whether it is from the Great Barrier Reef but it is still very pretty
. One of the things that I will miss the most is quite strange... I will miss the huge colony of fruit bats here at Hervey Bay. When we first arrived someone told us that there were some bats in the trees down by the beach and I really didn't want to see them... I thought they would be horrible and would try to attack me. But on the second day we were here we went for a walk to the beach and without realising where we were, we walked right underneath the colony and saw hundreds of huge bats flying across the sky. They are so beautiful and graceful when they fly and now that I know they won't hurt me (they are vegetarians!!) I have fallen in love with them. On quite a few occasions we have been walking along the beach at dusk and seen thousands of bats wake up from their daytime sleep and go out flying... some evenings the sky is so full of them that it looks like the whole sky has turned black. They look like lovely black teardrops when they hang in the trees... the only thing I don't like about them is that they poo on your washing if you leave it out on the washing-line past 7pm and when they call to each other they sound like a cross between a cat screeching and a baby crying!
During our time here we have also finalised our plans for the rest of our time in Australia. We have had to change our plans for Christmas as we found out that the area we wanted to go to is experiencing an usually bad rainy season and all the hostels have been shut until next year due to flooding and the roads being damaged
. So we have had to rethink our plans for the coming weeks- that is one of the reasons we have had so much spare time to spend here at Hervey Bay. But now we have everything booked and organised for the remainder of our time here. Despite a very sweet offer from Katrine to spend Christmas with her and her sister, we are in a really nice hostel in Cairns for two weeks over Christmas and New Year and have got some fantastic activities planned for the next few weeks. We are getting really excited about everything that we will do here and it feels nice to have found our enthusiasm and drive again. We now have two days left until we leave Hervey Bay and I think that being here has had a huge impact on us both; it has reminded us of why we came on this trip and has given us the space and freedom which we both needed to start caring about our travels again. We were both having a pretty crappy day the other day when we realised that for the duration of our trip the only responsiblity that we have is to have fun... the only thing that we have to do is enjoy ourselves. Whilst that is sometimes easier said than done, especially when you miss your family, this trip might be the only time in our lives when we have no other responsibilities other than to be happy... hopefully we will be able to remember this and continue to make the most of everyday of our trip.
Isn't it funny how things turn out sometimes? When we originally arrived in Hervey Bay back in November we had only planned to stay here for three nights... however as I sit here typing this we have actually been here for almost three weeks! It's difficult to explain what is so lovely about Hervey Bay, to be honest there isn't much to do here, but it is fair to say that this town grows on you the longer you are here. Even though three weeks doesn't sound like much it feels like a lifetime to us and is the longest we have stayed in one place since we left home at the start of September. It feels really good to have put some roots down and to have gotten out of the routine of moving ourselves to a new town every three or four days. By staying in Hervey Bay for such a long time we have also struck up some really good friendships, especially with Katrine and Aurore; the four of us have become like a little family. It has been so good to know that even though we all go off and do our own things during the day, we will come back together at night and eat together or watch a movie together..