Flying Solo Down Under

Alternate title:

How Leah Got Her Groove Back

Somewhere along the line, I lost my solo travel groove. Sure, I’ll go on road trips in Canada, but even those are genuinely on well-known routes with friends or relatives waiting at the other end. When did I lose the ability and interest, or worse, the confidence to travel by myself?

I have zero internal compass. Zero. I’m that person who will wander through a shopping mall, searching for the way out, and then not be able to find my car when I do get out! Basically, I could get lost in a paper bag.

The jury is out whether this is an innate lack of ability or whether I just don’t pay attention.

Oh, look! Something shiny!!

Sorry. What were we talking about?

For a couple of decades, all of my big trips have been with others, and it’s been far too easy to fall into the pattern of following others blindly.

Karen is like a human GPS. Is it her years as a police office, hyper aware of her surroundings, and always knowing how to ‘get out’? Is it something natural within her? Maybe a combination of the two. Whatever it is, I rely on it too often.

My sisters and I travel together and every one of them has far more experience living and travelling in cities than I do. It’s easy for me to follow along, happy to go where they lead, trusting that we’ll end up at the right shop, restaurant, or museum.


The Sisters Take Manhattan 2011

It is time for me to strike out on my own. As a reasonably intelligent woman, I can read a map (if the light is good and I have my glasses), can figure out a bus schedule, and failing all else, I’m really good at chatting with people to find what I need to know. I enjoy wandering aimlessly, making my own decisions, pausing to watch the waves, look at a building, or watch the world go by. I like spending far too much time deciding what to eat, and stopping to chat with anyone about anything (yes, this is a recurring theme).

Recently, I struck out on my own; I had a blast, gave Karen some much-appreciated alone time (you try being with your partner every waking moment for 5 months straight!). The big news is that I didn’t get one little bit lost!

On a recent Monday, while we were in Mt. Eliza, I jumped the bus south to Mornington, a town just over 2o minutes south by bus. My goal? The Mornington Peninsula Patchworkers. At home, Mondays and Fridays are quilting days. The members of the Matlock Sew & Sews and the Ponemah Beach TheraPiecers are integral to my social life. What’s one thing I miss while abroad for so long? My social life.

The Mornington Peninsula Patchworkers were every bit as welcoming as I’d hoped, introducing me, sitting me with one of the friendship groups, giving me the job of stitching a club label onto a comfort quilt, and even asking me to speak about my experience with quilting.

Social Butterfly Happiness!

Bonus: I found the bus stop, got off at the right stop, and made it home in one piece!

I’ll tell you, it’s tricky to find the bus stop when your instincts tell you to look on the wrong side of the road! Where is the bus coming from? Where is it going? Am I on the right (left) side of the road?

Building on my new found re-found strengths, it was time to go north to Sand Sculpting Frankston 2017, the 10th annual  extravaganza of freaking amazing sand sculptures!

Flying Solo sand 1.jpg

Land of Imagination – Endless Possibilities

From Alice in Wonderland to Santa’s Workshop, the works of 21 artists from around the world were thrilling! The detail in some of the pieces was unbelievable. It was hard to move from one piece to the next.

There’s something a little bit wrong with the North Pole being created from sand.

Now this is a sand castle! 


After winding my way through the maze-like display, I went back in the opposite direction and saw it all again from the other direction, not wanting to miss a single detail. I was on my own and I didn’t have to worry about boring anyone. I was free to dawdle as long as I wanted.

A walk along the foreshore boardwalk, up to Olivers Hill Lookout is flanked by massive beach houses on one side and gorgeous bay views on the other.



The waterfront was the perfect place to wander aimlessly, admiring the white sand beach and multi-coloured water, walking along the pier and talking to people as I went.

A walk to the train station took me through the Wells Street Market with food stalls, artisans’ booths, and live music. A perfect place to stop for lunch in the Australian summer sun.

If you were expecting this to be a story about a solo backpacking trip to the outback, I’m sorry to disappoint. A couple of outings in a new country have given me the push I needed to keep venturing on my own. No disappointment at this end.

We are now in New Zealand; I’ll get up to date once we’ve settled in at our next house sit. Thanks for reading and commenting.

– Leah


13 thoughts on “Flying Solo Down Under

  1. I have returned to Winnipeg from my three weeks on Vancouver Island. I have the same sense of direction (or lack of it) as you. I would have loved to rent a car and go exploring but like you I have depended on another for many years to find our way around and home again. My brothers always said that if they wanted to get rid of their sister all they had to do was walk me out into the field and turn me around three times. They were assured of never seeing me again. I love the humour in your opening paragraphs. I read them aloud to Chris.


  2. Oh Leah – priceless! I too, like you, consistently walk in the wrong direction when I exit a store in the mall. I’ve learned a trick over the years however—go in the opposite direction I think I should go in! It’s a terrible disability for a traveler to have. I’m so proud of you for venturing out, hitting the bus stop, making it around the sand castles and all the way back home. Love you. Love your blog. Travel on Sister!


  3. If you have truck loads of special Aussie sand, sure! They actually bring in special red sand for this event, remove it at the end, dry it, then bring it back the next year!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this post. I go places by myself often, but only because I have no partner in crime. I love that you ventured out on your own and had such incredible adventures. The sand sculptures were amazing! I do have a hint about finding your car at the mall……I always go in the same door every time I go, that way, I don’t have to think about it. I know which store to find. Now, if that store has more than one door….

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: New Zealand Ramblings |

  6. Heh. I’m usually the one navigating, and have a pretty good internal GPS myself, but it is just as easy for me to spend two or three hours wandering in an art gallery or museum without thought for what else we might want to do that day. The water in your beach view–what clarity!


  7. Beaches, canals, streams, lakes, waterfalls – I can’t seem to get enough of them!

    Museums, on the other hand, I’ve just recently hit saturation. I may need a week or so off!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: We’ve separated! | Travel Taste Create

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