Two weeks ago, I’d just arrived at my long weekend destination. My family were off on their annual Dads’ and kids’ camping weekend with long term friends and, this year, I decided, unlike previous years, I’d also go away – by myself.
Other times, I’ve used these weekends without the family to complete actions on my ‘jobs to do’ lists, volunteering because I had more time (and, yes, for worthwhile causes and, so, important to do) – or even taking time out for some socialising or relaxation / me time activities around town. This time I thought I’d try something different.
I decided to get out of town and explore. And, even though it was short – three days – it was so worthwhile. Here are my top three reasons why I highly recommend it!
It’s energising to explore new surroundings
I flew up to Sydney and drove back to Melbourne via Canberra. On the way, I visited a range of small towns and beach destinations south of Wollongong. And I feel like my mind is a little expanded – seeing new places can do that to you.
I’d earmarked locations based on recommendations, and these proved spot on, especially as the weather could not have been better. I enjoyed the warmth of the sun and the feeling of sand as I tramped across a number of different beaches, occasionally wandering part way into the water before deciding that, beautiful as the days were, they weren’t quite warm enough to swim. It was enough – more than enough – to soak in the scenery, most particularly around the Jervis Bay region. If you haven’t been there, I’d so highly recommend it. I’ll be back, probably with the family in tow next time, and for a longer time period.
I then drove through a range of towns and hamlets within the Southern Highlands heading to Canberra, getting out to look around and admire the aesthetics of the buildings and townscapes, proudly displaying their settler origins from the late 1800s through to mid 20th century. Yes, they were a little touristy – but hey, so was I. And autumn is a beautiful time to experience these locations, with its mixture of European and native landscaping creating a rich, changing colour scheme. It helps that the weather was still glorious!
Given the limited time I had, I could only sneak views of some of the natural delights – a quick stop to see Fitzroy Falls, for instance – as well as taking constant note of what I could see from the car window. Nor did I gain any insight (or little) into pre-settler context, which I do like to do (not for a ‘worthy’ reason, particularly, but because it’s a real consideration which is easily missed with a superficial glance). It gave me a sample, enough to know it will be well worth a subsequent visit, again, at a slower pace. I’ve scoped it though – I have a feel for where else to visit.
You have an excuse to visit friends (because, let’s face it, sometimes we need a jolt)
Life fills up if you let it, and as close friends move for work or other reasons, it’s easy to feel there’s not enough time to meaningfully see each other, and, you know, actually connect. If you were wondering about the Canberra part of the trip, this was in order to visit dear friends who have been living there for the past few years.
Due to my overly optimistic ambitions of where to cover, plus a little bit of getting lost, I probably cut into this time a little, however I really cherished the time together, within their home, where we could actually talk, experience a snapshot of life, and, you know, share together. That was a really lovely aspect of the trip.
There’s a freedom to just be yourself
This was a biggie for me. I’d been wanting to visit this part of NSW for a long time, but I knew my approach – to wander without actually a goal, through a place, gaining a sense of it – doesn’t always appeal to my family (actually, it rarely does).
It’s something in my make-up (or maybe, my career) but I love just observing, exploring, pulling together the threads from what I can see, hear, experience, to gain an impression or identity of what somewhere is like. I had the space to do this, as well as indulge my love of exploring shops and out of the way places (which fall into the same category for the family) without feeling irritated by nagging or rushed to try and alleviate their boredom, which, even if I try and ignore it, does detract from the experience.
I also rediscovered the joy of having the radio to myself! I don’t often bother at home, because a) I don’t tend to drive far, on my own, b) I’m concentrating on traffic, and c) it ends up in an argument, none of which make it particularly enjoyable. This was different – lots of driving, so lots of time.
I wasn’t particularly organised with podcasts, or downloaded music, or the like. That was partly intentional – I wasn’t sure how my phone would last, given I was using it also as a GPS (answer – it just lasted each day, but only just). And I knew there would be some good things to listen to, if I searched. And there was.
I listened, sang along to, and thought about the lyrics of songs. I don’t often think – any maybe this time I’ve overthought, but what a joy to have the headspace to do so! I listened to reviews of books, and performances, and heard topics teased out, over a period of time, so they were more fully explored. And the absolutely boredom that is the drive down the Hume Highway was relieved, to some degree, by another solid Richmond Tigers victory (for you AFL fans there, it looks as though it’s going to be another Yellow and Black year – here’s hoping!)
Having space for this was an unexpected benefit – I knew I’d enjoy it, but I didn’t realise how much. I felt a little more myself again – I’d had time to rediscover me.
And a final thought
Having some space once in a while is wonderful. For the reasons listed above, and probably more. But what’s also lovely is knowing who you are coming back to, having had some space to appreciate them, and then returning.
Arriving home is also wonderful.*
Are you someone who makes time for yourself? What do you love to do? Please share!
*Except traffic. Traffic is never lovely.