It's easy to forget how big Australia actually is. I know, that sounds a bit odd - I'm Canadian, Canada's even bigger (and we have a song about that), but travelling in your home country is different than travelling someplace else. In Canada, I expect everything 'interesting' to be a long ways away, but here? Everything should be like the UK - a daytrip is always possible.
What really brought home for me how big Western Australia (just one state!) actually is wasn't that it took two days of driving to get out to Monkey Mia, but how different everything was by sunset of that second day.
On the first evening, everything was dark as pitch by the time we got to the hostel. We'd made a brief stop to look at some cliffs, but the sun was rapidly setting and there wasn't a lot of time to spend enjoying them. We hurried off to the hostel, leaving behind the crashing waves and looking forward to good food and a long sleep far away from the bus.
I sat down and looked out over the water, watching the breeze blow through the trees, fluttering the sails on the boats, and thought about how easy it would be to get used to this.
Later, when we got to Monkey Mia, I lay down on the beach and looked up at the stars, and wondered at how easy it is to be overwhelmed by natural beauty. There were dolphins in the water, but I couldn't see them, only hear them, and I couldn't imagine a more peaceful moment in my life.
In many ways, being in Australia has made me very eager to go back and look at Canada and see how differently I view it now. I loved Scotland for castles and crags and men in kilts, but mostly for the ruins and the history behind them. As I've said before, I love Australia because it's beautiful here - from the ocean and the sand to the desert and the wind, so much of Australia is beautiful and overwhelming because of where it is. I keep being caught off-guard for it.
People say to me all the time "Oh, Canada! It's very beautiful there!", and I've always just smiled and nodded. I've loved the Rocky Mountains, but I don't really think about the majority of my country and if it's actually a beautiful place to be. I lament that Canada has so little history, so few ruins that talk about what happened "before", without thinking about how lovely it is to walk through old growth forests or stand on the edge of a crystal clear river. These are, quite frankly, things I grew up with. Things I don't notice.
I've been gone a long time. I'll be in Canada for two weeks this summer, and I wonder how different Alberta will look, now that I've been here.