2018 has been a pretty great year. In fact, it’s been one of the best years I’ve had in a long time.
Although the year kicked off with a sad event – losing my beloved dog Bentley – it steadily improved.
It was a year where I got to tick a lot of boring things off life’s to-do list, which definitely aren’t worth publicly announcing online, but brought satisfaction none the less.
However, there were a few standout things that happened throughout the year. I haven’t blogged about all of them and some I probably won’t have much more to say about.
I think it’s important to be grateful for what you have in life and in a moment of great self-indulgence, I’d like to tip my hat to 2018, by listing a few things that happened which I am immensely pleased about.
Finally ticking off every state and territory in Australia
This has long been a travel goal of mine and I finally completed it in March of 2018, when I touched down in Perth.
Australia is kinda big and very expensive to travel around in, which is why it’s taken so long to reach this goal (being out of the country for a few years also didn’t help).
That being said, I’ve only spent three days of my life in WA, which is our biggest state. I’m looking forward to heading back hopefully a couple of times next year and having more of a poke around Perth and surrounds.
And there are so many other places I’d love to explore… more of Victoria, a bit more time in Sydney this year would be nice and I’m stoked that a return trip to Tassie is already in the works.
…And visiting New Zealand!
I’m not sure why I put off NZ for so long (it’s close I guess and seemed less exciting to me when I was younger than say, travelling to Europe). Yet, I don’t think I’d have appreciated it as much in my youth as I do now.
Also, I think it was much more fun travelling there with a bit of disposable income, rather than as a cash strapped backpacker, as New Zealand ain’t cheap.
We road tripped around the North Island for twelve glorious days and I’m already planning several return trips… to the South of course, along with trips north of Auckland, along the West Coast, more time in Wellington and much more.
Better keep an eye out for those cheap Jetstar flights in the future.
Plus I still have about ten blog posts to write about this experience. So much mileage out of such a small country.
I will say here I was pleased to visit Thailand as well, but NZ seems like the most obvious place to venture to as an Aussie. Well. Besides Bali.
Posing naked outside, for art
Spencer Tunick is a photographer who’s famous for travelling around the world and photographing people in the nude, mostly outside monuments and landmarks. Pubic in public.
I’ve wanted to take part in one of his installations for years, but it’s never been the right place, or time.
When I heard he was heading to Melbourne, I signed up to the waitlist, along with thousands of other people. Not everyone got through and I was overjoyed to be selected.
It involved getting up before dawn in the middle of winter and travelling to Prahran in Melbourne’s east, to be photographed just off Chapel Street. I stood with a couple of hundred other Melburnians of all shapes, sizes and colours, holding a sheer strip of fabric over my head or around my body.
All this in 9°C temperatures. And it rained. Cheers, Melbourne.
I was a bit apprehensive about this before going, especially being by myself – as it turns out neither my boyfriend nor friends fancied standing around naked in the name of art on a dark, wintery morning.
However, I was hardly the only person there by myself and it really is quite empowering to literally strip yourself bare in the midst of strangers. It definitely made me feel quite differently about my body – less aggravated by things like weight gain and grateful to be whole, able-bodied and healthy.
Being around for special occasions
One of the suckiest things about living on the other side of the world was missing out on big occasions. Milestone birthdays, babies, weddings, even funerals.
My baby brother and father both had big birthdays this year and it was lovely to be able to fly a very short distance to celebrate with them.
It’s also been nice to be able to actually go to weddings, see almost all the new babies, celebrate other birthdays and spend time with friends from overseas when they return for visits.
Signing a two year lease
A small thing that’s a big deal. I’ve not lived anywhere longer than a year and a half since I was 19. That’s been a lot of moving around, in the last ten years.
Having found an area of Melbourne I really like, I was stoked to sign up for a second year at our place.
It’s a relief to know that I don’t need to house hunt, worry about transporting anything, storage or packing for at least another twelve months. I like my local community, love my flat and am very happy to be standing still for awhile longer.
Buying a set of wheels
Another positive was finally buying a car. I’ve never lived in Australia without one before and having to rely on public transport has been a challenge, to say the least. I feel proud of lasting a year and a half before caving, although I’m not entirely sure I have been left with my sanity intact.
I still have to catch the train in for work and whenever I want to go into the city, but having the car has made a world of difference… I feel like I have so much more time now, which is a precious commodity.
It’s opened up possibilities for plenty of day trips and mini-breaks, as well!
Meeting a childhood hero
There’s a lot of cool stuff constantly happening in Melbourne, but one of my favourite events is the annual Writers Festival.
I enjoyed every talk I attended this year, but the standout highlight was going to see the Australian writer John Marsden speak about his career.
John Marsden wrote “Tomorrow When the War Began” and was one of my favourite writers growing up… still is, to be honest. I spent many hours reading his books in the library at school (I was an incredibly popular and cool kid). His books are quite emotional and reduced me to a blubbering mess on many occasions.
I also remember them as being quite graphic – the second “Tomorrow” book had a pretty full-on teenage sex scene. Fun fact, if you balanced the library copy on its spine, it would automatically open to that page.
ANYWAY, he was signing books after his talk and I lined up to meet him and have him sign my books. I discovered that my favourite of his books (“Checkers”, in case you’re interested) is also his favourite, got overemotional and ended up almost crying with joy and god knows what other emotions in the toilets. Still that cool kid from high school, after all.
Reading over 150 books
Reading is my favourite hobby and my library is an enabler. I read over 150 books this year and SO MANY OF THEM WERE GOOD.
Melbourne was actually the second city in the world to be named as a “Literary City” (after Edinburgh, of course) and it takes this very seriously. There are so many good bookstores here, along with plenty of literary events in the city and surrounding towns.
I’ve been making an effort to read more non-fiction, as well as continuing on my goal of reading books by Australian authors. Here are my favourites for 2018.
Dining at Attica in Melbourne
A very expensive highlight of the year! Attica let out bookings for May on my birthday at the beginning of the year. I took it as a sign and managed to grab a table for my fella and myself.
It was something I fully expected to blog about and never got around to – maybe I will in the future. It was a great night – there were around 17 courses and so many delightful and varied dishes. The wine was good and so were the cocktails, plus the general vibe enjoyable – we were the last to leave after having a conversation with the staff!
Australia has a very underrated food scene and I’m yet to have a disappointing meal in Melbourne, but this was something else. I’m hoping to attend Victoria’s other venerated restaurant Brae at some point in the future.
Another food related highlight was fine dining with insects in every course in Bangkok. It was such a delicious meal and I wouldn’t hesitate to munch upon cricket-flavoured nachos again.
Attending a wedding in India
The most recent highlight was travelling to India for the nuptials of two old friends. I didn’t think it was an event that could be missed and certainly had a great time.
There was so much colour and dancing, the food was fantastic and it was great to see many familiar faces from University, almost ten years ago now!
Favourite blog posts of 2018
2018 was also the year I’ve blogged the least since this blog’s inception in 2014. Oh well. JUST IN CASE YOU MISSED THEM, here are three of my favourite posts of last year:
What I do and don’t miss about living in London – two years after leaving London, it was nice to reflect upon the good and bad aspects of life there. Ultimately, I do miss London but I don’t miss living there.
The best neighbourhoods to stay in Melbourne – this took hours to research and put together, but I’m happy with the result. Plus, it made me want to explore more of my new(ish) city!
A 4am visit to Volcano National Park in Hawai’i – a travel story about visiting a volcano up close in the middle of the night. Hardly anyone else was there, but there was a hecktonne of stars. This happened in 2017, but eh. Who cares?
So, all in all, a very good year indeed and I’m sad to see the tail end of it. I’m not quite sure 2019 can match it, but here’s hoping!
How has your 2018 been? What have been the highlights for you?