Weekend in Bathurst
Easy, simple update for these past couple of days :)
Yes! I saw snow in August!!!
(Also yes - seasons are flipped in Australia :)
My abroad program took a group of us away to the country this past weekend for some TLC and relaxation. We traveled four hours west of Sydney to Bathurst NSW, where our homestay families were waiting for us.
I didn’t quite understand IFSA when they explained to us how comforting this “country life” weekend would be when we had to sign up for it just a couple of days after our arrival into Sydney. I am use to having to take care of myself, cook my food, (you know…live) and I couldn’t grasp what they meant about taking time to “get away” from the city. Hello?! Sydney is incredible!
But (you can guess it), now I understand.
Mick and Elaine were my host. Mick - the true country Australian with glasses and a warm smile with Elaine - Scottish, grandmother of six and one hell of a cook. They graciously opened up their arms to us - strangers - with no hesitation.
We arrived Friday night with our first home cooked meal of the weekend. At the dinner table, Elaine, Mick and Michelle (IFSA leader) shared more places and activities to add to bucket list in Australia, making me even more excited about my time here abroad. I learned about the beauty of Bali and the sightseeing around Sydney beaches, and how climbing the harbor bridge is a must. With a full tummy and content heart, I snuggled into flannel sheets as the wind grew stronger (it was very chilly out in the country side), happy as a clam and passed out.
I woke up to a dusting of snow on the ground, and a cup of coffee waiting for me. (I can’t remember this being a thing??). Elaine made us breakfast and I had corn flakes. CORN FLAKES. (Gluten free), but the memories of my mom sprinkling sugar on top of the corn flakes and coming back from school to eat three bowls of the cereal rushed back. The power of food! I was in awe looking outside the window from my seat and soaked in the calm, quiet morning on the beautiful farm. Mick then took us to a mineral and fossil museum where I was able to nerd out about dinosaurs walking on Earth. (Did you know T-Rex roamed in North America??). Natural history museums are a guilty pleasure of mine, so I was very easily entertained for the next hour.
Lunch with the big group was scheduled at a homestay family’s farm, where we were able to interact with the cattle and sheep frolicking around. To be frank, it was FREEZING outside, and cattle don’t really phase me. However, it was very interesting to see how farming differed in Australia than in the States, and I loved experiencing the different atmosphere of (now) Perthville. The farmers are proud of their work - as they should be - and listening to them talk about their careers is always a valuable conversation to absorb - with anyone.
Elaine took us on a drive around after lunch where we got to see the University and race track of the famous Mount Panorama motor racing circuit. She made me write down in my phone when the big race is - October 13th everyone! I was still cold at this point, with numb toes, so thankfully, we got to go back to the house and relax again before dinner at another family’s home. They sure do love to feed us here!
Elaine was so considerate of my dietary needs, and made sure I had my version of everything that was being served. Seriously - I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten so much delicious food in one sitting! And in all honesty, it was so nice to be taken care of. I truly have forgotten what it feels like to not have to worry about taking care of myself. I guess that is what happens when you’re forced to say goodbye to your Mom so early.
Crawling into those flannel sheets one last time was probably the highlight of my day (okay maybe not entirely true…but close) and waking up to more coffee waiting for me and more food already cooked for me felt like I was in heaven. We had to pack up fairly early, so we weren’t able to have as slow of a morning, but I soaked in every second. Who knows when I will get something like this again! After breakfast, Mick took us out in the car and drove us around the farm to show us all the animals and land. We saw kangaroos all weekend, hopping around, baby lambs that were just born (like umbilical cord and all) - staying close to their mother’s side, and cattle roaming the fields. Out on our drive, the snow started to come down hard in giant flakes. It was so peaceful and so beautiful.
Our last hurrah was at Elaine and Mick’s, so we didn’t have to leave - everyone else came to us! Mick built their house, and with that put in a pizza oven. You know what that means? Homemade pizza!!! Anddddddd I had my own GF version!!! It was absolutely beautiful. Thank god for home cooked food!
Our bus took a bit longer to arrive due to the snow, but far too soon, we had to say goodbye to the country side. I wasn’t ready to leave the calmness but unfortunately, everything must come to an end. However, I am so glad we were given the opportunity to experience this part of the world. And the best part? I made friends with the sweetest couple and hope to stay in contact with them as the years pass :)