Wondering if I really know my country at all.

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I’ve just returned from a road trip with three girlfriends. We drove all the way across Australia, from one coast to the other, south to north.

On our first day of driving, as we left our city and drove through the countryside, I felt an almost umbilical connection to this land. My love for my country and my sense of pride in it runs deep. It’s what I know, it’s my home, and it’s been good to me.

By the end of my trip, however, I began to wonder how much I know my country at all.

The face of Australia is so multi-faceted, that I began to realize how vastly different my experience of ‘home’ is to other people’s. Outside the cities we drove through rural farmland; country towns that have a lifestyle and culture of their own.

Beyond that, things change even more. Decades of bush lifestyle have been carved out in remote regions, where a run down roadhouse is the central social hub and isolation is a way of life.

Further on we came to Aboriginal lands; where children roam the dusty streets with vicious looking dogs in the middle of the day.

And I wondered about school.

And I realized how much I don’t understand.

And we discussed and debated what should be done, and realized that we don’t have the answers.

And we wondered if anyone does.

And I thought of the bright lights of Sydney…

…and it felt like another world.

My Post-Adventure Bucket List

Towards the end of high school, I began composing a bucket-list of sorts. It had the usual things on it: skydiving, eating snails in Paris, seeing an aurora, getting a degree and writing a book. Most of them I’ve achieved, but as I look back, I’m not sure they’re actually the most radical things I’ve done.

Bucket-lists can be beneficial but they’re all about forward-planning and imagining. Sometimes they’re not realistic. Life may bring restrictions like health, finances, time or circumstances, and suddenly our dreams are out of reach.

As I reflect on my life, I realize that my BEST bucket-list is my POST adventure one; the things that I’ve already experienced that I’d never have imagined up myself.

Here are some of the things that I’ve done that weren’t on my bucket-list:

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I took this photo while paragliding near the Annapurna Ranges in Nepal.

Flying over Mt Everest

Walking across a Burning Ghat on the Ganges River

Paragliding with eagles in the Himalayas

Cliff jumping into the ocean

Being elbow deep inside a sheep, trying to deliver a lamb

Road-tripping through torrential rain in outback Australia

Living life to the full isn’t always about planning, but about making the most of every opportunity; appreciating what we have been given, rather than focusing on what we’d like.

I may never see an aurora, get a PhD or travel into space, but I have no doubt that I will have experiences that I never would have dreamed of. I’d hate to miss them because I was so focused on my own plans.