Sicilian Mountain Lessons

I’ve always been challenged by the mountainous landscape in Sicily.

The boundless slopes disorient me, I have problems finding my bearings and the horizon is blocked out by them.

When I go hiking down steep hillsides I am constantly holding on for dear life, grappling white-knuckled onto the flimsiest blade of grass. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve sprained my ankles or fallen ‘head over arse’ for a lack of balance.

My part of Australia (Perth) is very flat with a small range in the distance affectionately and condescendingly called the ‘Darling’ range (actually it’s named after someone rather important). So I am used to seeing more sky than land on the horizon, at times I feel a little stifled by all of these Sicilian peaks surrounding me.

The Darling little Darling Ranges outside of Perth Western Australia. ©Rochelle Del Borrello 2016

I’ve been here for more than a decade but I don’t think I will able to accept them. Locals barely notice their mountains, never see the danger of a steep drop, happily detour around landslides in winter, curiously enough Mt Etna is hardly mentioned in even the greatest Sicilian literature even if a novel is set in the foothills of the Volcano near Catania, it’s simply ‘Mongibello’, a minor character in a sea of personalities.

 

Mongibello ©Rochelle Del Borrello 2016

I agree with D.H Lawrence when he described Sicily’s landscape in his 1920’s travelogue Sea and Sardinia as a ‘peaky confinement,’ preferring the open landscape of the island of Sardinia. The mountains here are repressive and Lawrence is right to complain about the sense of suffocation. I too need ‘room for my spirit: and you can have all the toppling crags of romance.’ Take the mountains and give me some space!

Nebrodi Mountains ©Rochelle Del Borrello 2016

I’m convinced the landscape is evolving before my very eyes, every time I look up I see something different. Entire houses leap out at me, old country mansions suddenly show themselves and I’m constantly asking my husband: ‘Hey has that always been there?’

There is no way of appropriately describing or photographing the summits they are so immense and vary from day-to-day. The sunlight of every different season gives them endless idiosyncrasies.

Looking out at the Aeolian Islands in Messina Province ©Rochelle Del Borrello 2016

I really should be used to the ranges but I am still afraid of them and the one car width wide mountain roads, carved out of ribcage on their sides, with only a flimsy guard rail (sometimes not even that) separating you from a certain death plummeting down the rest of the precipice if you were you to swerve or be hit by an upcoming car.

My Sicilian man still asks me:

‘Why are you still so afraid and uncertain?’

‘What happens if you meet another car?’ I ask.

He nonchalantly answers: ‘Someone backs up and lets the other pass.’

Oh great that means reversing down a mountain road and plummeting to my death backwards, at least I won’t see death arriving.

Mountains outside of Milazzo (Messina) ©Rochelle Del Borrello 2016

An old friend of my husband did exactly that, well not backwards or to his death. But he swerved to avoid a truck along a curvy highland road near to where he lives, his car leapt over the railing and the driver door flung open (of course he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt as thick-headed Sicilians don’t do safety devices.)

He was thrown out of his four-wheel drive car falling through the branches of some chestnut trees and finally landing in the arms of some small hazelnut boughs while his car continued to roll down to the base of an abandoned gully way, way, way below the road.

Thank goodness he was stoic and tenacious enough to simply dust himself off and climb back up to the road as his cell phone was left resting with what was left of his car. With blood pouring down his face from a 30 stitches wide gash on his scalp he walked home and called an ambulance. The bits and pieces of his car were recovered and sold for spare parts ten days later.

And my fear of mountains was reinforced.

 

Gin Gin, Western Australia, so flat with no danger of falling, here speed is the killer.©Rochelle Del Borrello 2016

As if this wasn’t enough, my phobia of mountains was doubled this year thanks to another accident which hit closer to home. My sister-in-law took a tumble with her car this January while moving to the side to letting another vehicle go by, she was thrown out of the driver’s door while her car cartwheeled further down the mountain. She was conscious and managed to call for help, when I got to the scene I saw all of my worse nightmares.

After being airlifted to Messina and a month in the hospital and another month convalescing at home she has made a good recovery. Now I refuse to drive on these mountain roads and am constantly gasping when my husband gets a little too close to the edge.

Thanks, Sicily for the lesson.

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Coming back to Sicily: contrasting reflections

Coming back to Sicily

People love Italy, they fantasies about it, they want to live here but never realise how broken a place it is. It is slow in mentality, stubborn to change and frustrating for someone who is used to living in a younger faster moving, more efficient country. One day when the rest of the world is older perhaps they will understand the superficial awe surrounding Italy is all about magical lighting and idealistic dreams.

Above the Indian Ocean, I suddenly had flashbacks of how much I’d disappointed my family, how much my heart is filled with longing with regret, it makes me feel so lost, yet determined to not keep it in my heart. I resist the sensation of being sucked out through a vortex, under my seat.

Negotiating Rome airport is a nightmare. It’s a terrible scramble off the plane as if everyone simply has to claim their baggage and head to the exit. But often you need to catch that elusive final flight within Italy’s borders, so you need to prepare yourself for the obstacle course, which changes every couple of months, thanks to the constant evolution of Fiumicino Airport, helped along by the occasional spontaneous fire from a lack of maintenance.

First, to negotiate a conglomerate of sweaty, frustrated and simmering people, there are no orderly lines to follow, you have to push your way through onto the monorail and onto security check lines. Liquids in clear bags, tablets, cameras, portable computers, watches, belts, wallets and handbags in security trays. Dress yourselves and repack and head to passport control, if you are lucky you will be shoved into a bus heading towards the domestic terminal, dodging taxiing planes, freezing in winter and sweltering in summer, be sure to check your gate number frequently, as it will be changed at the last moment.

There will be delays in boarding, persistent confusion and you will be twiddling your thumbs on the plane as luggage is loaded and unloaded. Do not be alarmed if vapour comes out of the plane in the summer as it is the way the airline keeps passengers cool while they wait, all a part of Alitalia making travelling easier, (I wouldn’t be surprised if it has sedatives in it), so take a deep breath and grab an overpriced drink or gelato in the terminal.

Raccuja, Messina

Sicily is such a sad old place.

Italy is stylish and trendy but appearances are superficial, underneath the glitter, there are overindulged children who refuse to help themselves and their mothers in crowded airports.

Australia is so fresh and new in comparison to Italy, full of hope and too much traffic where everyone is busy, working and living lives filled with activities for their children and ambition in their hearts. This time I take with me the memory of the peppery smell after brief showers in Perth and the colours of a new crisp antipodean winter morn. Australia has changed so much I barely recognize it, forgetting how to navigate the new suburbs while Sicily barely holds back its decay. Sicilia is a contrast with the heavy smell of dust and tobacco smoke, along with the rich aroma of the coffee and the glorious July sunshine which bathes the island of the sun with a magical light.

I am a bridge between these two places, stretching myself out so thinly I nearly break.

Manago' Ceramics Taormina

I ask my dearly departed grandfather with a prayer, why did he choose to migrate to Australia from Sicily, why not Germany or France like so many of his cousins? Or America or Canada like my father’s Abruzzese family.

I suddenly realise my Nonna didn’t have a choice, where he went, he had cousins who were doing well and other friends and family who helped him as destiny pulled us to Australia. My mother and grandmother camping in the bush outside of Merredin near Kalgoorlie, W.A, sharing their tent with snakes and lizards, while Nonno cut wood for the hungry ovens of industry in 1950’s Australia. So were my family’s first steps in their adopted home and my idealized Eldorado.

Every migrant misses their birthplace, it is the irony that our origins become an elusive dream which can no longer exist. Like the fascinating poetry of Ibn Hamdis an Arab Sicilian poet from the eleventh century who was born at Syracuse and lived his first twenty-five years in Sicily, until being exiled from the island by the Normans, to never return. Hamdis lived into his eighties and wrote the most delicate, emotive poetry dedicated to what he considered his spiritual home, which can be universally addressed to anyone who has moved away from their birthplace:

la vedo a ogni ora nel ricordo

e a lei invio

le lacrime che verso

mi struggo di nostalgia

per la casa, i vicini e la virtu’

attraente delle ragazze

che partendo ha lasciato il cuore

in quella terra

con il corpo desidera tornare.

***

I see her [Sicily] in every moment of my memory

and send to her

the tears I cry

I yearn with melancholy

for the home, the neighbors and the attractive

virtues of the girls

who I left my heart to

in that land

where my body wishes to return.

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Going home: an expat’s internal conflict

Sydney Harbour 2012

Every time I go home for a visit I get terribly excited, start making lists of what I want to do, who I need to see and what I should buy so I can make the most of my three months in Australia (as my Italian husband travels on a short tourist visa- I’m sure there will be many more posts about my husband’s future odyssey on obtaining Australian citizenship!)

The long haul flight from Rome to Perth Western Australia is what really gets me down: the never-ending waits in airports, uncomfortable airline seats, insomnia, the drone of the plane engines (which is actually less thanks to the new generation of airbuses!), the drying out effect of recycled air conditioning,  swollen feet and the dreadful sensation the journey will never end (Rome-Perth is 13,330 km’s)

Landing in Perth W.A is like coming out of a dark tunnel, the harsh sunshine, the flatness of the terrain and the god awful feeling of isolation. Why is Australia so far away from the rest of the world?

Serpentine Jarradale W.A 2012

In the first few days, I always feel stoned as if I have fallen out of the sky or as if I have been on another planet until I slowly remember how life is in Australia. Every visit home is like recalling a long-lost memory gradually coming back to me, always slightly embarrassing and refreshing at the same time.

Australia for me is like seeing an old friend after many years, at first there is an awkward moment when you wonder if you will still connect and the joyful relief when you replenish your friendship. I think Australia and I will always be ‘mates.’ I love how free this country makes me feel, as if everything is new and possible, living in an old country takes this sensation away from me. I also cringe at the lack of style and history, it seems I have become a terrible snob spoilt by the abundance of culture in Europe. Every time I am home I am shocked at how uncomfortable English was on my tongue, it seems I have become more fluent in Italian than I could ever realise.

I love catching up and spending time with friends and family, for this the time is never enough. But I hate feeling like a tourist in my birthplace and try to shy away from sightseeing, I like to pretend I am living here full-time and do the things I always have done.

Gin Gin W.A 2012

I’m always in two minds while visiting home after being away for years at a time, it’s the dilemma of people with each separate foot in a different country, arriving is bliss while leaving is guilt and depression, for those you leave behind.

Each visit is incomplete as I never get to see everyone I love and as I leave there will be an older generation of relatives who will not be there next time.

Then there is the inevitable fate of losing your own parents, it is a thought which still fills me with dread. A few weeks ago I read Cheryl Strayed best seller ‘Wild’ and the part where she describes how she loses her mother to cancer, unlocked my deepest fears and left me weeping and wailing into my pillow.

Ferry on Sydney Harbour 2012

Coming home is pleasant but it opens up many fears and insecurities which are difficult to hold back. The way I resolve my mixed feelings is the same way I deal with anything bigger than myself, taking it in bite-sized pieces, thinking positive and living the moment, there is no sense in tearing myself in two over the eventualities of life, after all, we are made to survive them.

I have the privilege of experiencing two of the most unusual parts of the world and I love them both. My gratification is they are both a part of me. Letting go is always the hardest part of life but the freedom it offers gives us the best means to actually live life as it should.

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At the time this post was published I was visiting Australia and didn’t blog for a couple of months.

But I am back in Sicily and travelling around the island, so be sure to email me any questions or suggestions of places you’d like me to visit or write about.

Thanks so much for all the wonderful comments, enjoy the journey.

 

Not quite a Del Borrello: reflections on an overgrown family tree

Chieti mare.jpg
Chieti mare” by Original uploader was Idéfix at nl.wikipedia – Originally from nl.wikipedia; description page is/was here.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

 

I have my surname thanks to my father, who is the dearest Del Borrello in my life, he is the sweetest man I know, always happy, accepting and tolerant of what life has given him and with an almost stoic ability to overcome anything. My Dad loves to talk about his beloved home town of Vasto, memories of his Aunts and Uncles, mostly his mother’s family the Di Cicco’s who welcomed us with open arms on a pilgrimage back to Italy in the mid ninety’s.

We don’t talk much about our branch of the Del Borrello’s but I know my father’s great-grandfather Pietro Del Borrello was widowed and remarried with eight children from the first wife (Giovina Zinni) and seven from the second (Maria Nicola Chiola), so you can imagine how many Del Borrello’s there are dispersed around the world. Dad has cousins in Canada (Toronto), the States (Philadelphia), Australia (Perth) and Italy (Vasto).

I’ve never had the desire to go back to Vasto, it would be strange without Dad with me to interpret my family tree and to be honest I’ve been quite distant from the Del Borrello’s anyway.

I have recently discovered some friendly Del Borrello cousins on Facebook who have rekindled my desire to know more about my family.

Since moving to Sicily I’m constantly being mistaken for a ‘Borrello,’ without the Spanish ‘Del‘ the name becomes one hundred percent Sicilian.

I like to think part of my heritage was Spanish and spoke that Vastese Abruzzese dialect which mixes Spanish and Croatian syntax.

The literary lover in me adores the idea I share part of my origins with the Victorian writers Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Christina Rossetti who moved from Vasto to London to become famous poets and writers.

Vasto0003.jpg
Vasto0003“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Thanks to my new family connection I’ve discovered how my Dad’s family came to Australia. Four Del Borrello brothers (offspring from the first marriage of my great-grandfather Pietro) Gaetano, Giuseppe, Domenico and Luigi migrated to Australia. Then Gaetano curiously renamed ‘Charlie’ by the systematic Anglo Saxonising of Italian names which were so common in 1950’s Australia sponsored my Dad’s eldest brother my Uncle Peter who then helped his other brothers Nicola and Giuseppe to come to Australia. Like many links in a family chain, they pulled one another into a new life. Uncle Peter moved my grandparents Domenico and Annunziata and the rest of the family, Alessandro, Maria,Antonio, Giovina and Michele to Australia in 1953, after selling off everything they owned in Vasto.

A large chunk of my Dad’s family, Uncles, Aunts, brothers and cousins migrated to Australia from the Abruzzo region of central Italy. I can only imagine the large gaping hole it left in the Italian family tree.

Since my father was the last to get married, my brother and I are the youngest of all the cousins and unfortunately are slightly ignored, for want of a better word, to a certain extent it is only natural to be thought of as ‘the little ones’ when you are the youngest in a family.

I have vague memories of my elder cousins weddings, Dad introducing me to my Aunts and Uncles and sitting at the table like an eaves-dropper and sometimes never being invited at all. I have never been a part of a large inclusive Italian family, despite the Del Borrello’s propensity to populate and migrate all around the world. For me, an extended family is a dispersed and distant one.

Four Del Borrello brothers
The four Del Borrello brothers from Vasto who ended up in Australia, my Nonno Domenico is the second on the right.

Nonetheless I love trying to sketch out the family tree, after all, it still pertains to me. Fragmented stories from my Dad tell me bis Nonno Pietro was a wealthy landowner and had property in the countryside. Dad has wonderful memories of scaling down the escarpment of old Vasto to swim and fish in the Adriatic sea. Today Vasto has become an extensive tourist town with endless ugly hotels along the coast and built up industrial areas.

As for my family recollections, they are quite sparse. I recall visiting my Nonno Domenico in his Perth nursing home, his gruff voice and chain-smoking, his was my first ever funeral. My Nonna Anunziata died the same year my parents got married. I never knew her, yet in photos, I am aware of the same sense of joy-de-vivre which is a part of my own father’s heart. Mother and son have the same smile. Oddly enough even if I never met her I dreamt of her when I was pregnant with my first child, who I even considered naming Anunziata until she decided to go directly into her Nonna’s arms in heaven, then giving my daughter the name of Estella, she who comes from the heavens, seemed more apt.

My Dad’s eldest brother, extravagant Uncle Peter died suddenly and I still smile at the memory of his larger than life warmth and those fun pool parties playing billiards were awesome for a girl like myself.

If I close my eyes I can still remember the last time I heard Zio Alessandro’s gravelly voice over the phone as I called him to wish him well before flying back to Italy,

‘Grazie, grazie bella, un bacio.’

I recall Uncle Nick’s positive energy as he was slowly worn down by cancer.

I don’t remember Zia Giovina who was the first of my father’s family to be taken away by an aggressive male as they say here in Sicily, which is our modern plague.

All I have is a handful of muddled yet poignant memories of an overgrown and complex family tree. It would be grand to fill in the missing parts of my family tree, not for vanity’s sake but rather for more tales from my history, as life is about stories.

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Dedicated to my Dad Antonio Del Borrello and his cousins Peter, Karen and Laura, who I hope to see sometime soon. And my own cousins who share the same monumental family background.

Quirky questions about life in Italy

Today I want to tackle your questions about living in Italy full-time. To be honest I haven’t been asked many questions so I got my virtual and real Facebook friends to send me some random ones, which I’ll answer below.

 

Life in Italy

Maryann asks: How is the plumbing and the water?

Well, the average Italian bathroom is made up of a strange contraption called a bidet, which is parked beside the toilet, not it’s not an alternative place to do your business but rather a spot to sit and wash your intimate bits. You can also close the bidet’s plug to wash your smelly feet after a day of sightseeing or do a rinse of dirty socks or underwear, quite versatile really!

In private homes the hot water system is usually manually turned off and on as required. This is a money-saving device as electricity is so expensive in Italy (which is also partly the reason for the lack of air conditioning along with the fact Italians think cold air can make them sick, but this is a whole other topic to explore!) So you need to think at least twenty minutes to half an hour ahead before you want a shower, unless you don’t mind cold water.

You will find the water pressure totally piss weak compared to the U.S or Australian standards, so try to do one thing at a time, either wash your hair or give yourself a shower as you won’t be able to rinse well.

The drinking water here is awesome and there is plenty of it! Water restrictions and filters don’t need to exist here and in most major cities there are public water fountains overflowing with mountain spring water which are regularly controlled by the local authorities. Yes, you can even drink from a tap at the Trevi fountain, obviously it doesn’t come from where all the coins are thrown but it is from the clean source which comes from the original roman aqueduct.

It is an excellent sign when you see locals waiting in line with their water bottles in hand, it’s like drinking Evian, but it’s free!

Sharon asks me: Do you think in English or Italian?

Well, I obstinately think in English, simply because I read it and write it so much.

I quickly translate into Italian in my own head, I’ve been doing it for so long that it’s pretty much instantaneous.

I sometimes dream 50/50 Italian and English.

When my brain isn’t working I’ll accidentally slip in an English word or do something silly like pronounce an Italian word with a particularly heavy Australian accent which gets me some puzzled looks.

Why not check out our expat blogging group C.O.S.I’s last post about what it’s really like to learn Italian in Italy. See Tongue tied in Italy for more insights.

Michelle asks: Do you have pasta for lunch and dinner?

It’s true Italians love pasta and I think Sicilians would love to have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner if they could. I have overdosed on pasta and try to avoid it but the locals usually do have pasta at least once a day.

They are also big on bread. As if the pasta doesn’t make you gain weight, the bread will! After a plate of pasta there is usually a second course of either meat or salad in the summer and don’t get me started on their roasted vegetables usually conserved in extra virgin olive oil, their predilection for all things fried and cold cut meats!

Yes, my waistline has been gradually let out through the years.

Jason asks: Do all Italian men exude romantic charm?

Well, what a surprising question, coming from a guy too!?!?

I’m sure the majority of Italian men believe they are romantic and charming. But girls keep in mind Italian men are extremely sleazy, their ‘romantic charm’ is all an act to try and charm your pants off. Now there’s nothing wrong with that if that’s all you want, just don’t think you’ve found the love of your life or expect to be taken home to meet the family. If you want an Italian husband be prepared and expect a long hard road to be excepted into the family!

My Sicilian husband is quite shy and reserved and he doesn’t have a romantic bone in his body (we have a rule, if he wants to buy me a gift I have to be there to choose it or else he will get something I don’t like!) I guess I got ripped off with the whole ‘romantic charm’ quota, but at least I can trust him and he stands out from all those other Italian peacocks!

Aron asks: What are the biggest differences between here (Australia) and Italy?

Wow! Now that’s a huge question and I’m constantly making comparisons between my native Australia and Italy. It’s kind of tricky as over the past decade the Australia I fondly remember has changed a lot, it isn’t as relaxed as I recall it, Oz too is going through the same economic crisis as Europe and it has become a terribly expensive place to live amongst other things (which is yet another topic to explore!)

The biggest difference comes from the very distinct cultures, a general topic which trickles down to form the many bumps and pot holes in the road of expat adventures in Italy. The constant culture shock between Italy and Anglo-Saxon expats makes everyone around you think differently, behave bizarrely and confuse the hell out of you constantly.

One real shock for expats and visitors from outside of Europe is the discovery that Italy is a living breathing museum. Like the rest of Europe, Italy is a place where people have lived since prehistoric times and where history and people have left behind their junk. If you dig a deep hole in Sicily you will probably find pieces of Greek ceramics, Roman coins and Etruscan tombs. There are many stories of construction workers or farmers digging around who have discovered complete Roman villas and valuable archeological sites by mistake. The Roman villa filled with the best preserved mosaics from the late roman empire in the whole world at Piazza Armerina near Enna, Sicily was buried under twenty meters of earth, local farmers had been cultivating crops on top of it for generations without knowing anything about its existence.

Cultural differences

Those are the end of the questions I received but here are ten more funny and infuriating cultural differences off the top of my head which I’d like to dedicate to anyone thinking about moving to Italy:

1) Italian’s don’t walk around without shoes, they take it as a sign of poverty/barbarism and if gals take off their shoes in the front of a guy it will be taken as a sign you want to have sex!

2) Italian’s are superficial, appearance is vital to them. They never do their shopping in a track suit and sneakers with morning hair. I’ve seen women do their grocery shopping in high heels, sequins and freshly dressed hair!

3) Food is a religion in Italy. Don’t you dare overcook the pasta or else you will be ostracized. It’s ‘al dente’ or die of shame. Stick to the cooking time on the pack!

4) Italy can be as dirty as a teenagers bedroom floor, recycling is a new concept and many Italian’s are used to other people cleaning up after them, which is never the case in the real world.

5) Italian hospitals are scary places, avoid them if you can.

6) Customer service is a foreign concept in Italy, as is politeness along with the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. You will be pushed aside on trains, others will jump the queue in front of you, doors will be slammed in your face and bank tellers will pretend you don’t exist and close as you reach the teller.

7) It is still fashionable and socially normal to smoke in Italy so you will have to put up with smokers puffing in pubs, restaurants, bars and people polluting your house and car.

8) Italian’s aren’t into sport as a pass time (of course there are always exceptions to this, especially when it comes to soccer or cycling.) So you won’t see many sports activities or clubs happening on the weekends.

9) Italian bureaucracy features heavily in Dante’s Inferno.

10) As of 2020 the act of breathing will be taxed in Italy.

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W​hat to do With 10 Days in Western Australia

Today we have a lovely guest post by Jessica from The Turquoise Compass

 

Western Australia
Conto Beach

After spending 6 weeks on Australia’s East Coast, I couldn’t leave without getting a taste of the West Coast as well. With only 3 months in Australia (relatively speaking), I can’t do it all (even though I want to), so I had to pick and choose. Australia is a gigantic country with so many exquisite destinations. I decided that I would spend most of my time on the East Coast, since most of my dream bucket list destinations are on the East including the Great Barrier Reef, Whitsundays, Fraser Island, Magnetic Island, Noosa Everglades, Sydney, and beyond. Although Eastern Australia is my focus on this first trip (I am hoping for more future trips), I decided to see other regions as well. Although I won’t have the same amount of time to explore the West Coast and South Eastern Australia I thought I should still get a taste.

 

Perth
Perth

Ten days in Western Australia doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but if planned correctly you can see quite a bit. As a hyperactive traveler I like to stay busy throughout most of my journey. Planning things to do in each destination that I visit is exciting for me. The more I can squeeze in the more excited I get to go and explore. I still try to make sure that I have some time to relax every few days, but generally speaking I stay quite busy bopping around each place of venture.

 

Sculptures by the Sea
Sculptures by the Sea

 

Cottesole
Cottesole

I didn’t know what to expect when I flew from Cairns to Perth. After spending so much time in Eastern Australia I think I was expecting to see a similar landscape. How much different can the West really be? The beaches can’t be that different can they? Boy was I in for a pleasant surprise when I landed in Perth. Western Australia has an entirely different look and feel. It’s refreshing to be able to travel within one country, yet get different experiences in each region of the country.

 

Rugged Coast
Desert Like Terrain

 

Sunset Coast
Sunset Coast

The dryer, Mediterranean-like temperature was a gift from heaven. The cities are slightly more spread out with more natural unspoiled views in between. Very few hotels line the sunset and turquoise coast as many do in Eastern Australia. The rough coast rests along the surprisingly crystal clear turquoise waters. The desert-like terrain greets the sand dunes along the beach with welcoming arms. A change of scenery was exactly what I needed to recharge my vagabond heart.

 

Rugged Coast
Rugged Coast

 

Wild Animals
Wild Animals

Although I don’t have to worry about deadly jelly fish in the ocean like I do on the East Coast. I now have to worry about encounters with deadly sharks (yes, that would include the Great White Shark among others) and snakes. While swimming at Conto beach outside of Margaret River, just shortly after my friend and I got out of the water all of the surfers were quickly swimming to shore and flagging down other surfers to get out of the water. I asked one of them if there was a shark and he responded casually with “yes, a big one“. Oh my goodness, and I was just in the water with a shark! To be in a beautiful destination means that there are risks to be taken to enjoy the environment. Knowing these risks I continually tempt fate by exploring more and more in Australia. Am I crazy?

 

 

Redgate Winery
Redgate Winery

 

Margaret River Landscape
Margaret River Landscape

10 Busy Days on the West Coast:
Fly into Perth
Kings Park
Perth CBD
East Perth
Northbridge
Fremantle
Cottesole
Sculptures by the Sea Art Display
Scarborough
Sunset Coast (beaches South of Perth)- Scarborough Beach, Brighton Beach
Turquoise Coast (beaches North of Perth)-Mullaloo Beach
Margaret River
Winery Tour
Gnarabub Beach
Surfers Point & Southside
Rivermouth
Eagle Bay
Meelup Bay
Conto Beach (we had to get out of the water because of the shark in the area)
Fly to South East Australia: Melbourne

Bucket List Adventures on the West-
See wild kangaroos for the first time
Bodyboarding at Redgate Beach
Spelunking in Giant’s Cave
Indian Ocean Beaches
Drink Australian wine at an Australian winery
Hamelin Bay to see the wild dolphins

Redgate Beach
Redgate Beach

Have you been to Western Australia or recently started planning your Western Ozzie adventure? I’d love to hear from you to know what you have done and plan to do!

About our most pleasant guest blogger:

Jessica from Turquoise Compass is a teacher at heart, but her true passion is traveling (especially to turquoise beaches), adventure, and trying new things. She has been to 17 countries and she is ready to see more. She has completed over a hundred items on her bucket and encourages others to live life to the fullest, while taking advantage of every opportunity that comes. As you can tell, this hyperactive traveler loves visiting beautiful turquoise destinations.

Thanks so much to Jess for this delightful guest post and her great ideas for visiting my home Australian state of  W.A. It makes me feel a little closer to home and some of the places she mentioned, I still haven’t visited yet!

Be sure to check out Jessica’s fab Travel Blog and also link up with her here on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

 

Jess from Turquoise Compass
Happy travelling to Jess from Turquoise Compass!

 

I still call Australia home

(My little piece of home in the Swan Valley outside of Perth, Western Australia)

Moving overseas away from home is without a doubt the most challenging thing you can do in your life, especially if it involves going to a place with a completely different culture and language. Don’t think that because I’ve moved to Italy and I have Italian parents it means I automatically took to living here.

I am very much a free spirited Ozzie chick who still finds it difficult to adjust to living life in small minded- small town Sicily.

(The towering gum trees back in Perth, W.A (Houghten’s winery out in the Swan Valley to be precise)

 

I miss my friends and family to death and I defiantly consider Australia my true home. Everyday is a challenge, I’m often puzzled at the way people think but it’s one hell of a journey!

It’s a little cliché but I really still call Australia home!

 

 

 

 

What’s your idea of home?

I’m Italo-Australian and proud of it

 (Rome the eternal city)

 

I have the honour of being both Italian and Australian. Thanks to the strength of character of my maternal grandparents who had the determined idea to migrate to Perth, Western Australia from Sicily. It is a privilege to have a foot in both of these intriguing countries.

I now live in Italy but my first 25 years were spent in the care-free sunshine of the youthful culture of Australia. This gave me a wonderful sense of liberty, multiculturalism and a positive outlook on life.

(My home town Perth, Western Australia, which is in a constant state of change)

 

Living in Italy for nearly a decade now has allowed me to immerse myself into some family history and see the realities of this complex, chaotic but all the same extravagant country.

I’m lucky to be a part of two fascinating countries.