Ever thought of taking a gap year? So what stopped you from leaving work for inspirational time off or from taking a sabbatical year?
In 2009 I resigned from my job, sold most of my belongings and went to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa. For a whole year I carried all I had in a backpack and never planned ahead for more than a week or two. I just went with the flow and had some of the best times of my life!
I hope to encourage you with my pictures to take that step of evaluating your options and maybe even to be brave enough and to go out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be a whole year. Some people prefer a shorter time frame or go with an organisation as an Au Pair, volunteer or student.
Of course there was the excitement about the unknown and insecurity – you never know what it is really like until you’re there.
My idea at the time was to travel and spend time outdoors in nature and basically only do work I really enjoyed – in my case it was to work with horses. I had done a similar thing before as a student while working in a riding school in Ireland.
The first few months I spend in Sydney and Bowral in the Southern Highlands working in a riding school, racing stables and also helping out friends. It allowed me to get a feel and orientation for the new country, to “learn the ropes” and to see what I actually wanted to do in big OZ.
Bowral is rather posh, one of the neighbours travelled by helicopter to work in Sydney (no joke!). Here I met photographer Sam Haskins and his wife Alida and their friend Bryce Courtney – one of Australia’s best selling authors.
One of my colleagues was a cowboy from the Kimberley’s – a bit like Crocodile Dundee 😉 I guess his stories shaped lots of my travel ideas.
I got to spend a month in New Zealand over Christmas and New Year…
… and walked the Overland Track in Tasmania.
I discovered that I preferred Melbourne over Sydney 😉 before checking out the wine tasting near Adelaide and hiking the Grampians.
I fell in love with Alice Springs and its beautiful surroundings: the West MacDonnell Ranges. It has some of the most beautiful hikes I know, such as sections of the Larapinta Trail, which I definitely would like to do from start to finish some day.
I saw Perth on the west cost and spent a month near Kalbarri National Park until dry season started.
… I arranged for my crossing of the Kimberleys, another highlight of my trip.
The night I got to Darwin I knew right away this was my place to be and I found work as a Jillaroo near Kakadu National Park. I ended up staying with former rodeo and barrel racing champions, saw my first rodeo in Katherine and did my first barrel race 😉
With dry season coming to an end I made my way along the East coast to spend some time on the islands. I walked the Thorsborne Trail on tropical Hinchinbrook Island.
I spent a quiet week snorkelling on Hook Island, Whitsundays.
On Fraser Island I realized that after all that time in the outback, the East Coast’s mass tourism had become a bit of a culture shock.
So I escaped to Goondiwindi in Queensland helping to start young horses – another memorable highlight! This finally got me into natural horsemanship and country music 😉
Tell us, what was your gap year experience?