So, a small update before I begin which my Christmas Special blog post!
In 2009, at just 21 years old (ten years ago!), I went to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa. With my ex-boyfriend. It was both an exciting trip and a nightmare!
Looking at the above photo of me (yes, this was on Christmas day!), you would think I was a happy person, but Christmas back in 2009 was horrendous.
It hadn’t even been a month into my Australian Working Holiday Visa yet I already had lost a lot of money, had a nasty break up with my boyfriend (I talk about this in my previous post), my relationship with my family in Australia was on edge and was now starting to question what to do with my life.
My ex and I had a small plan to build a new life in Australia, my Aunt and her husband had done just this, so we questioned whether we could too. But after finally realising the person he was, I knew that new and relatively young plan we had was crushed.
Now what do I do?
Over the Christmas period my mood was low, not only had I broken up with my boyfriend, I didn’t know what to do with my life, I was unknowingly suffering with depression and I was away from my close friends and my parents, whom I had never spent a christmas apart.
Christmas day 2009 was spent at the house of my Aunt and Uncle’s friends’, along with my step-cousin and a friend of his. It was a very hot day, as unlike the northern hemisphere where we hope for a white Christmas, Australia is in the peak of their summer. It was that warm that a couple of people took a dip in the pool.
(c) All photos are my own. Copyrighted to myself, Penny Hooper. Photo above: A selection of prawns freshly caught for Christmas.
Christmas dinner was a BBQ, mainly focusing on freshly caught seafood, including some rather large prawns and playing a few silly games like this fun spin on Russian roulette which involved a plastic gun which would fire a pin into a water balloon
I remember having a phone call with the other side of the world with my parents at one point. I went off into the dark garden to take the private call and at the time feeling a little upset at the thought of what had previously happened, but then my parents opened the flood gates when they rang.
Luckily the day wasn’t a complete waste with my low mood and homesickness, I do remember a few laughs and good times. I remember my step-cousin’s friend disappearing and someone found him in a bedroom asleep. I took photos as my step-cousin and one other person started drawing something obscene on the side of his face, I remember him waking up and sitting down in the garden again, with a few people making puns, all the while he had no idea what was on the side of his face.
(c) All photos are my own. Copyrighted to myself, Penny Hooper. Photo above: Secret santa present from my step-cousin.
I remember my step-cousin had me as a secret santa and had bought me a remote controlled lamborghini and I was extremely happy with it, not just having a cool gadget and a cool car, but the fact he knew me well enough to know I’d like it.
(c) All photos are my own. Copyrighted to myself, Penny Hooper. Photo above: Side-show Penny.
I remember someone had the bright idea to stand underneath a hanging plant and looked like Sideshow Bob from the Simpsons, and a few others, including myself took part in this ridiculous photo opportunity.
I also remember someone bringing out their pet rat and I instantly fell in love.
So, although it wasn’t the best Christmas I’ve ever had, it certainly was one to remember.
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~Penny (Aka The Girl Who Whispered).
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Back in 2009, when I had only just turned 21, I decided to do something big. Something I had never done before… I went to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa. Sun, sea and surfing (well, I probably won’t be doing the surfing bit!)
But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows… I went with an ex boyfriend, who made my life hell, had a falling out with my family out there and suffered with mental health issues.
The journey there was awful, 25 hours flying, leaving on the 4th of December 2009. I was lucky that the flights were cheap, even though it was a few weeks before Christmas, it was too early for people to be flying out to see family for the holidays. I had a layover at Singapore, but not long enough to escape the airport, and a connecting flight from Melbourne to Brisbane, where I will be staying with family in Burpengary.
I stayed with an Aunt and her husband, and for a little bit of my stay I was in the company of my step-cousin and a couple of his friends. And of course, my ex, but that quickly turned nasty just before Christmas. In fact, I had a falling out with my Aunt and her husband and ended up moving in with a Australian family.
My Aunt lived in a town called Burpengary, just North of Brisbane City, in the state of Queensland. It wasn’t a bad place to live, quiet, local amenities, a train station to get into Brisbane. Although it got boring pretty quickly.
Day three (7th Dec) into to the year (hopefully) spending in Australia, my ex decided he was going to spend a good chunk of his money on a bike. Now, my ex was a bike enthusiast, although I didn’t share his enthusiasm, but I do like my cars, so I appreciated his enthusiasm and supported his dream to buy a bike.
Even if it was day three.
And the majority of his money was going on this bike.
And I had to spend my own money helping him out with other things, like new clothes for work (we’ll get to that).
Day Five (9th Dec). My ex got a job (well, he at least went for a job interview). We hadn’t even been in Australia a week and he was getting work! I mean, it was good that he was proactive at getting a job, but this became un-fun very quickly. I was hoping to explore and experience Australia for at least a little bit first. He had other ideas. And it was equally painful when I had to help my ex buy clothes for his new job! New shirts, trousers, even new shoes. The little bit of money I had saved up before getting to Australia was getting smaller.
Day Seven (11th Dec). My ex was sending the bike off to get repaired. Yeah, he bought a new bike… which needs repairs. Even more money being spent.
Now, this is where it gets interesting…
I don’t know what day it was exactly, but it was between Day 13 (17th Dec) and Day 20 (24th Dec – Christmas Eve!) that I decided to throw my ex’s things on the front lawn. I’ve told this story to a few people, and it’s still a really interesting story to tell. But basically, I had been feeling low for a while, I felt like no one cared and no one really understood me, not even the boyfriend. On top of it (which I now realised as I didn’t at the time) he was gaslighting me, making me feel like I was the paranoid one, when he clearly was seeing other women.
He wasn’t really being secretive about it either, he was obviously talking to other women, on this dating site “Plenty of fish”, but he made me think he was only looking for ‘friends’. The website had the option to look for friendships, to tell other people you were in a relationship. I had seen his profile, it did say he was just looking for friends, but no where did it say he was in a relationship.
I joined him on it, as I was naive (yet suspicious, I wasn’t completely stupid) and I did meet a few people on there, it was through this website that I met the friend I eventually went to stay with after an issue with my Aunt and Uncle. But, the general feel of the website was for relationships and hookups.
But one day, when it got to the point that I had to look through his history on his laptop (I know, cliche psycho girlfriend thing to do! But I needed a reason!) and I found exactly what he was doing, and decided I had enough. Long story short, I tried to contact him at work and he refused to talk to me, so I decided that if he wasn’t going to talk to me, I was going to put his things outside.
I did. But he didn’t make it easy for me. He literally got so angry that he threatened mine and my Aunt’s life. It was just us two at the time, my Uncle was out at work and my step-cousin and his friends had gone off on an adventure somewhere.
Needless to say I was scared. My aunt and I locked doors and windows, closed curtains, all after shoving his things onto the lawn. We threatened him with the police, after he was being abusive, and the funniest thing was, when he came round with a truck to get his things, moments before, a police traffic patrol car came and sat right outside the house as if karma was on our side. He had no idea that we never called them, and he parked up and walked straight up to them. I wonder sometimes how things would have gone if the police weren’t there.
That wasn’t the last time I heard from him. The break had a huge affect on me, I was still quite young, having only had my 21st birthday (which was pretty shit, but that’s another story), so I was still in touch with him. I can’t remember the order, but I remember a few things happening around Christmas with him. One thing I remember was that I had his friend (who I knew too) ask me why I was being a bitch and bribing him, holding his passport and refusing to give it back to him until I got the money he owed me – I had no idea I still had his passport, all of this was made up, it’s scary how easy it was for him to lie to people, not just me. Although I was asking him for the money he owed me, not only the money from which I paid for his clothes, but I also paid for our travel insurance, he owed me for that too. I also remember him messaging me on New Years drunk and sending some really creepy messages, and I think it was from then on that I decided to cut all contant.
But, moving on, I still managed to see a few places while I was there, throughout my whole stay I saw Brisbane City Centre, Gold Coast / Surfer’s Paradise, Australia Zoo, Glasshouse Mountains, Stradbroke Island, Noosa, Moranbah and even took a trip to Sydney.
Brisbane City Centre
I visisted Brisbane City Centre in the first week I was in Australia, my Aunt and Uncle had taken us in to show me about. It was a pretty interesting city, a bubbly business district mainly, but it had a few interesting things for torists to do. From the man-made beach, the markets and a casino (I heard it called Bris-vegas once, but thought it was funny as there was apparently only one casino at the time).
Although I wasn’t hugely impressed with it as a tourist destination. At the end of the day, it is just a business city. Large buildings, a river running through it. There wasn’t much to see once you’d seen the River, the few Museums (there was a Natural History Museum if I remember rightly), the beach and the casino. It was a place you’d go for just a day out. It was just like any other city, large buildings that people work in, shops that you get in other cities like Starbucks and H&M and yes as it’s a city you get the big brands like Chanel and Gucci. It didn’t really have anything different to other cities.
Although, I do remember going to a Dessert Restaurant with a friend once, a restaurant specifically for desserts. That was one thing that I liked about the place; if you wanted to go out for a decent night out, something different to the usual pub-grub meal, to a decent bar or restaurant maybe (I’m not a clubber myself), then yeah, Brisbane was a little up there.
I will admit, I didn’t really get the chance to explore Brisbane City. My view of the city was a quick stop tour, a hop on the CityCat across the river, walk through the markets and a few pubs/bars stops. I’d be interested to go back to actually see more of the place, do a bit more research, be a bit more adventurous, have a bit more money to spend in unique bars and restaurants.
But I know I wouldn’t be upset if I never went back, there are other places I’d be more interested in seeing first. And that includes places inside Australia.
If you liked this post, please do press that like button and follow! I’ll be writing a few more travel blogs in the future! More adventures in Australia, Scotland, England, Egypt and hopefully other places when I get travelling again!