Wanderlost: A Travel Diary Through Australia
At the beginning of this year, I had the opportunity to go to Australia for three weeks. It was a country that I’d wanted to visit since I was a child but never one that I had a particular reason to actually go to. That was, until a strange mixture of finding the right amount of time off work, having the right sponsors’ support and knowing the right person happened.
This is where I need to introduce my partner-in-crime, Jenna Russo. Jenna and I met back in 2013 during the filming of Longboard Girls Crews’ feature film, OPEN, in Israel. I was from Toronto, Canada, and she was from Melbourne, Australia. We hit it off instantly kept in regular touch in the years following OPEN, and through the power of the internet, we watched each other grow, graduate university, start bands, and everything in between. In particular, we’d daydream about traveling and doing more trips together. We’d say ‘ONE DAY, WE’LL MAKE THIS HAPPEN’. And so, when the possibility of not only having the time, but also the money to go to Australia came around, I messaged Jenna immediately, and somehow, we made it happen.
One of the things we knew we wanted to do, was to document our trip and produce a short film that would inspire others to get out in the world and get lost in their passions. That’s where the title, ‘Wanderlost’ emerged from, a play off of the word, wanderlust – a desire to travel, and the concept of getting lost in the things you love. Jenna and I certainly did that through those 3 weeks. We skated, surfed, danced, sang, and shared gut-busting laughter. In short, it was a magical trip, but there was no way that a video could capture it all. So for those of you who’d like a more detailed account of the trip, read on!
Day 1 – December 21st
Thanks to the 17 hour time difference, I woke up bright and early at 6:30 AM. I had just arrived the night before after traveling for 40 hours (with a 20 hour layover in Honolulu). Unfortunately, my luggage had been misplaced by the airlines, but thankfully, I had brought all my essentials as carry-on including my longboard gear, camera and phone. The first day brought a taste of what was to come. We headed out to Philip Island, professed our love of Justin Bieber, ate ice cream, cruised the town, swam in the ocean, and ate facefuls of homemade pizza. I also met a slew of amazing new people including Aussie shredder Zak Mills-Goodwin and Jenna’s family who lived in Pakenham.
Day 2 – December 22nd
This day was all about skating and exploring. While Jenna had band practice, Zak was able to show me around his local freeride runs near Belgrave, introduce me to meat pie, and share some insights into Australia’s longboard scene. By mid-afternoon, Jenna was able to rendezvous with us, go feed cockatoos, and skate a forest path. From there, we headed further southeast to Mt. Martha where there were unreal neighbourhood freeride runs as well as some of Australia’s finest downhill runs. We ended the day climbing rocks, eating more pizza, and singing loudly in the car to Haim.
Day 3, 4, 5 – December 23rd – 25th
These 3 days were probably the most visually breathtaking out of the whole trip. The first day was highlighted by meeting Monty the caravan, surfing at Wilson’s Promenade – potentially the most magical place on earth, choreographing an amazing dance to ‘Sorry’ and my first kangaroo sightings! The second day was highlighted by hanging out at Jenna’s beach house, meeting her incredible family, and eating the most delicious Christmas Eve feast. Christmas itself was extremely chill. We relaxed, sorted footage, went swimming, and began the final packing and planning for the road trip!
Day 6, 7, 8 – December 26th – 28th
Boxing day gave Jenna and I an extra day to finalize packing, routing and booking caravan parks for our road trip. With everything in order, we set off for Sydney at 9 A.M on the 27th. Our first leg would be a 3 hour drive from Pakenham to Holbrook with stops for gas and Maccas. Upon arrival, we set up camp at the local caravan park, played some Boggle and headed to the local skate park. Coincidentally, the skate park was right next to the town’s biggest landmark, a historic submarine, which we also decided to skate and shoot photos at.
The next morning, we woke up early, ate breakfast, repacked Monty and were out of Holbrook by 9:30 AM. This second day would have us go from Holbrook all the way to Sydney. Along the way, we stopped at key Australian tourist destinations including the Dog on the Tucker Box’ and the Big Merino, and by the time we actually made it to our destination and settled in, it was nearing night. It had been quite the ordeal finding our home – we had somehow lost GPS capabilities, lost SIM cards, and lost our minds from being deliriously tired. So, instead of spending a night out on the town, we decided to stay in and cruise the nearby boardwalk.
Day 9, 10, 11 – December 29th – December 31st
These three days were spent exploring all the ins and outs Sydney. We did typical tourist things like see the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, as well as visit Bondi Beach, Manly Beach and Hyde Park. We also made time to visit Sydney’s local skate shop Basement Skate and hang with Maga McWhinnie, as well as catch up with some old friends from the US who were coincidentally in Sydney as well. For New Year’s Eve, we ended up watching the infamous firework show over the Sydney Harbour Bridge while eating pizza and sipping ginger beer – perfection.
Day 12, 13, 14, 15 – January 1st – January 4th
The New Year meant that we were back on the road towards Melbourne. This time, we’d be going along the coast and stopping at some of Jenna’s favourite coastal towns. Our first stop of this leg of the trip was in Bendalong. According to Jenna, Bendalong had some of the best hidden surf spots in the country. And so, for the two days we were in Bendalong, we’d wake up, eat breakfast, go surfing, cruise the town for potential skate spots, and spend the night Monty. On the third day, we made our way another 3 hours south to a town called Eden. Unfortunately, halfway through our drive, it began pouring rain. This became an issue because Monty hadn’t fully been waterproofed and wasn’t well equipped to handle the endless rain that ensued during our time in Eden. After waking up in a damp Caravan, and seeing that the weather called for another 48 hours of rain, we decided it would be best to cut the road trip a day short, and make our way all the way back to Sandy Point, where Jenna’s beach house was. There we surfed some more!
Day 16, 17, 18 – January 5th – January 7th
These next three days were primarily spent exploring the city of Melbourne. We started the first day with a morning surf at Picnic Bay and by the end of the day, we found ourselves at an Oh Wonder concert and dancing the night away celebrating a friend’s 21st birthday. We spent our first night in city and woke up to early to tour the ins and outs of Melbourne including the Collingwood area, Fed Square, Flinders station, and a slew of parks. That night would bring yet another concert; this time Borns and Halsey performing live. The third day was spent capturing footage of downtown skating including a couple of garages and general city cruising. It was also the day I was able to go visit the adidas headquarters in Australia and meet some of my co-workers from down under.
Day 19, 20, 21 – January 8th – 10th
The last days of the trip were spent skating, relaxing and tying up loose ends. We skated all of Jenna’s local runs, discovered some new downhill rip-and-grip runs, and made sure to have all our footage sorted. We also revisited some of our favorite local spots, savored our last few homemade meals, and hung out with friends. When all was said and done, we fully cleaned out Monty, found missing items, and packed for my return to Portland.
THE END. Or at least until the next adventure.
Thank you Loaded Boards, Orangatang Wheels, Paris Trucks, G-Form, XS Helmets, and Skate Slate for helping make this trip possible.