One of the weirdest things about traveling alone is going on awkward adult friend meetups. Unless you meet someone serendipitously in a cafe, sometimes you end up making friends in a less traditional way. For example, my mother just met an older Aussie couple in a pub in Dublin and they want to meet for drinks in Melbourne… Often times you’re just meeting up with complete strangers who have some type of connection to home or someone you know. Much like a platonic overseas Tinder date, you cross your fingers, try not to be super awkward and hope that you end up liking each other’s company. Sometimes it’s awful and you never speak again and sometimes you hit it off amazingly and become BFFs.
I met Jordan off of a backpackers group on Facebook. He, essentially, was a total and complete internet stranger. I posted a question about my Visa and we began chatting and turns out he was also a nurse from America. He even helped me get a job with his company before I even got to Oz. I know one could be skeptical of an internet friend but after a thorough background check and some deep internet trolling, I determined that he seemed legit. I had bought a bus pass with unlimited stops up to Cairns and it turned out that the first stop from Sydney was in a town called Newcastle, where Jordan lived with his lovely Aussie housemates Lily, Mikey and Sam.
This could be really fun or really awkward I thought to myself as I fumbled with my maps application trying to find their house and alas there it was on the corner with doors wide open. As soon as I met Jordan I knew I had made an awful decision. (JK!!!)As soon as I met Jordan I was super glad I made the decision. Along with our career choices and general bad life decisions it had almost seemed like he was my twin brother, separated at birth.
I happened to arrive on Jordan’s birthday and that was wonderful timing on my part because I got to experience my first solid dinner party. Not to mention Mikey, one of the residents here, is a chef and a damn good one at that. Him and his friends were all extremely musically talented and as I tried to drunkenly join in their jam sessions with a metal flute, I thought it best to just sit back and enjoy the music. I just loved these people so much. While hostel life is nice to meet other internationals, it was nice to hang out with actual Australians. One of these being the most Australian man I’ve ever met, Mikey’s father Bill. He joined us into the late night with stories and Jolly Australian songs that he played on his accordian (including the very heavy tune Waltzing Matilda) As we all drank too much wine and passed around a bag of Clinkers, I was very much enthralled by the experience, and the potato bake.
Newcastle is such a strange town because it feels like midwest America to me. There are little mom and pop antique shops and it’s really small with saloon-looking bars. People drive dirt bikes and there’s a ford car dealership, but then suddenly, as expected is an absolutely astonishing beach. We went out to the local bar “The Lass” which felt a lot like my favorite bar back home. It was a real pisser of a time *literally*
Some other highlights from Newcastle include:
I was able to see my first Koala and it actually had a tiny baby koala nuzzled inside of its furry body (ommmmmmmmggggggggggggg)
I had my first actual Vegemite the proper way (on toast w avocado and butter) and it’s actually really good (im not just saying that.)
I have a very special place in my heart for Newcastle and the lovely people that I met here. Somehow after all the shenanigans I’ve pulled, I’ve managed to always have a couch here to stay in the future, and for that I am ever so surprised. Tonight I’m off to Coffs Harbour where Kangaroos are wild on the beach and there’s a giant banana statue. Until we meet again Newy <3