Exploring the beauty Down Under

Story and Photos By Aubrey Goforth  

Perhaps it is like riding a bike for the first time. Parents persuade you to get on the pear-shaped seat and encourage you to travel along the asphalt road. Shivering with fear, you play out all the horrors that could come with a failed attempt. What if you get on and don’t know how to steer, or worse, what if you hit the pavement with jagged force?

   It is not until you ride the bike and attempt to hold the wheels and drive when you realize the experience is not all that bad. Brought to the brink of fear only to be greeted by the exhilaration of success illuminates a desirable ambition. This is the point where we discover that all things are possible.

Three Ramonans—Kerry Walker, Jenna Anderson and Parker Hayes did just this. They got on a plane and moved to Sydney, Australia. No reason other than to experience what life on the other side of the world would bring. They traveled a distance of 7,507 miles, or 12,081 kilometers, and jumped into a time zone that is 17 hours ahead.   

   Two months after their grand entrance, I trekked alone into the Southern Hemisphere to see how they were doing.  The traveling experience of leaving what we know as familiar can feel like a scene from the Wizard of Oz.  Your sense of home magically changes into a world of color, not to mention minor jet lag.

   When San Diegans are sunbathing and playing volleyball in July, Australians are bundled up in scarves and carrying umbrellas. In May and June the weather is sweet, but the clouds are unpredictable. The air is breezy and there may be a chance of rain, so packing a rain jacket or a warm sweater would be advised.

   Luckily, after leaving San Diego Airport 13 hours earlier, blue skies and golden rays of sun greeted a successful landing at Sydney International Airport.  Feeling like a participant in the reality show Amazing Race, I got off the plane and scrambled my way through customs, baggage claim, the duty-free shopping center and a currency exchange kiosk. Luggage, blanket, pillow and a duty-free purchase in hand, I took a train from the International Airport to the Circular Quay Ferry Terminal. The train rate was $15.20 AUD (Australian currency, with the U.S. dollar equal to 1.22 AUD) and took about 20 minutes. Once at Circular Quay, I boarded Wharf 3 to get on the Manly Ferry, which cost $6.40 AUD.

As I took my seat on the ferry and looked out the window, I seized the impeccable beauty around me. The ferry drifted along the ocean currents as I gazed upon Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and the steep coastal cliffs of New South Wales.

   Once off the ferry and in Manly, I embraced my Ramona friends with smiles and hugs. We talked about the weather, the flight and the joy a new experience brings. After seeing where they lived and taking a quick shower, Kerry and I walked along the main part of Manly, called the Corso, and Shelly Beach.

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