50 People #7: Sofia na Australia

50 People #8: Sofia na Australia

At only six weeks old, Sofia’s parents could already tell that she would have an adventurous spirit. They weren’t wrong. At sixteen she was gallivanting around islands by herself. A few years later she moved to Australia to be with the man she loved. Now she’s just had her own baby. But that hasn’t slowed her down. She still lives an incredibly active lifestyle, exploring Australia like you wouldn’t believe.

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Name: Sofia | Currently in: Kingscliffe, Australia

When I think about travel, my mind immediately jumps to exotic overseas destinations. I spent the last year and half traipsing across Europe, visiting small cities I’d never heard of. It didn’t really occur to me that there was still so much I hadn’t seen in my own back yard.

Australia is a vast country and I’ve lived here for 21 years but I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’ve been to Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, and a handful of smaller towns, but in no way have I “been there, done that” when it comes to Australia.

Unlike Sofia, who will probably see more of Australia this year alone than I have in the past two decades. Originally from Portugal, she’s busy making plans to travel east to west across the Nullarbour Plain, lead a tour group through the Daintree and pay a visit to Uluru before the year is out.

Whilst I often tend to perceive life in Australia as boring or mundane, there’s not a more idyllic destination for a passionate traveller, who loves the outdoors, as far as Sofia’s concerned. Curious to learn more, I asked Sofia to enlighten me on the very place I call home. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh perspective…

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Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m originally from Lisbon, Portugal. I guess my adventurous spirit comes from my parents. I was camping at 6 weeks old, and have been exploring new spots on weekends and holidays ever since.

I made my first solo trip to the Azores Islands at 16, hitchhiking to get from island to island with fishermen or cars making the trip along the coastline. This was when I realised how much I love life outdoors.

So where are you currently?

I have been living in a small beach side town called Kingscliff since 2010. It is in the north of the state, New South Wales. Here the turquoise clear water defines the place – both from the beach or the creek. Even though it’s a sleepy town, there is always something going on. Early in the mornings you will see the many coffee shops run-ragged by cyclists, walkers and surfers calling in for a shot of caffeine. During the school holidays, the town fills up as people from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane flock to Kingscliff for their holidays. For the most part of the year though, it is quiet, which is nice. I love being able to head to the beach and not see a soul.

What was your motivation behind moving to Australia?

I didn’t choose Australia for its geographical location or quality of life (although both good things)… I came for love! On a trip one summer, I met an Australian named Paul. After spending some time together in Europe, we decided we wanted to live together. Paul missed the ocean and the space of his country and asked if I would like to try living there for a bit. So I packed my life into my trusty backpack, quit my job and moved to the other side of the world Of course, I was also a little nervous. Its one thing to travel, and know that you are coming home. It’s another to move somewhere permanently, especially so far away from home…

Was Australia different to what you expected? Did you have any preconceptions?

I try not to place too many expectations on new places so I don’t get disappointed! It also helps to understand cultures are always going to be different, and Australia has a very different culture to Portugal. People are much more laid back, especially in the small town where we live. This was strange for me. People were happy to catch up and just look out over the beautiful view and chat (one person at a time…very different to Portugal) I had to be patient and slow down my usual rhythm!

Australia turned out to be a great fit for us and our lifestyle. Australians are passionate about life outdoors, which has encouraged me to maintain this much-desired lifestyle. Here I can satisfy my curiosity to discover new places daily and be fully in contact with nature.

Whats your favourite thing about Australia?

You hear Australia is beautiful and it is so true. The beaches and interior of this country are breathtaking and so well preserved. There are amazing things to be found in any location whether you are near or far from a city. I feel blessed that my eyes get to see this beauty and so many other interesting things, sharing it with happy and relaxed people.

How do you spend your days here?

While doing this interview I’m on the road exploring… I have recently become a first-time mum so my days are now driven mostly by baby routines. However he is 6 months old and already an experienced traveller with a passport and trips to Germany, Portugal and many cities in Australia. He is so easy to travel with thankfully!

Being on the road means one very special thing for me- every day is different! As a travel blogger I try my best to have internet at least once a day but its not always possible. I try to do this early in the morning. I check emails, social media accounts and try to upload new content. I have always treated this as something that is included in my day rather than “work” as I want to share the fun. I try to limit Internet time so I can concentrate on the exploring.

What’s the hardest thing about travelling?

I love it so much that I struggle to point out something bad about it. Probably the hardest thing is when you get sick. Let’s just get that fact settled first.  Being sick is no fun.  But being sick when you are off in some foreign place really sucks. You want your bed and someone to bring you a tea while you sit on the couch. Making a fire to boil water is not fun when you have a headache…

So what’s next? What are your plans for 2016?

There’s an endless list of places i want to go, and so many others that I will find along the way… So 2016 has been and is going to be a busy year. Still not 100% confirmed but towards the end of the year we will be crossing the Nullabor plain, travelling from the east to west coast of Australia. I really want to explore Western Australia. I get super excited just with the thought of that! I think it will be a minimum adventure of 6 weeks and it’s a totally different landscape and wildlife to the east coast.

In October I will be as a tour leader with a group of travellers from The Wanderlust exploring Australia. I will be showing the best places to go in Sydney, Great Barrier Reef, the Red centre, the Daintree and so many other great Australian places. I will make sure that we still get some time in there to find our own unique places along the way…

Until then I have planned some trips to explore a couple of Australian National parks. The camp sites and walks are too good to be true.. and there’s always the short gateways that I do usually on a weekly basis chasing the sun and a magic stretch of sand.

Hopefully we will squeeze in a trip to Europe. If not, I will definitely need to get to one of the Pacific islands…

One travel tip for everyone out there?

I hear from so many friends and people I meet that say to me, “I can’t afford it”; “I don’t have time”; “I don’t have anyone to come with me”; “I have children”…

There’s always a way. Nothing is impossible. There is always a solution to these problems. Travelling light and on a budget gives you freedom- it doesn’t mean you will miss out on an experience or should not even go. Take the plunge and do the trip, you almost always will have the time of your life and at least a great story!

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Get your daily dose of travel inspiration on Sofia’s blog here.

50 People #8: Sofia na Australia

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Want more like this?

Loved this story? Read more interesting accounts about how and why people travel around the world in the #50people50places series here



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