It's been awhile since my last visit down under. It was 2000 and I was a newly minted teenager. My parents took me on our first family vacation. You might be shocked that our first family vacation was when I was a ripe 13 years of age, but I'm not counting 22 hours in a car to visit the most boring grandparents in the world (sorry, guys!) as a family vacation.
This was our vacation - the 3 Musketeers off on a whirlwind, global adventure. My folks did their fair share of traveling before, but I had never been west of the Mississippi. This trip was such big news in my small North Carolina town that it was written up in the paper, “Donahoe Down Under” and in the school paper. The second piece of the trip was the kicker because we also attended the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Australia, The Land Down Under
Upon arriving in Oz, I soaked up the culture. I so desperately wanted Australia to be my new home. In vain, I hoped maybe I could convince my parents to never return to North Carolina. I loved my home, but Australia was different enough to be a challenge, but still comfortable enough to make the challenge worth it. We met my parents' friends, held koalas, and fed kangaroos. Australia quickly became part of my soul.
About 2 days before we left, we watched a recap of the day’s Olympic events, some of which we saw live, and a commercial aired that is still with me. The imagery was iconic Australia: Uluru, beach landscapes, the Sydney Opera House & Sydney Harbor Bridge, and native Australian wildlife. While the images were shown, a choir sang about Australia. While I don’t remember the song in its entirety, I remember the main point.
“No matter how far or how wide I roam… I still call Australia home.”
Though I was born in the States and I am proud to be here, Australia is the home for my soul. If you have the chance to go, I recommend it. It gets in your blood, your heart, your mind, and forever shapes who you are.