Backyard backpacking

We often think of holidays with an excitement that’s measured in distance, the further away the destination the more captivating and inviting. When we think about the joy, the breath of fresh air and the revitalisation that a holiday can bring, maybe we don’t have to go so far. That doesn’t mean glamping it up by sleeping outdoors on a hot night and then running inside to make a cold coffee and blow-drying your hair, but it could make for a wonderful and liberating experience to dust off the shackles of domestic humdrum and do what so many people come to your hometown to do every year; take a holiday.

Whenever you frequent a tourist hotspot, like Sydney’s Opera House, for example, you’re surrounded by a sea of eager hop-on-hop-off travellers. There’s a melodious mix of languages singing in the air, worn out flip-flops and backpacks gathering sand and salty spray and the thoughts of a job or any sort of routine quickly evaporate. We’re all surrounded by places that are dream destinations to others and it makes both us gals laugh to think of all of the times (no matter where you are in the world) visiting tourists see more of your city than most people do who live there a lifetime. Granted, it may feel that where you live doesn’t offer the same air of mystery or exotic charm and it’s easy to overlook the charisma and attraction of your own backyard. So, can we spend a day, or a weekend discovering the charms that others find irresistible? Absolutely!

We all take weekends away, but maybe to revive our spirits, our escape can be a little closer to home. It could be just a day (preferably a weekday) spent sightseeing and soaking in the vibrancy of a favourite suburb or beach or even an undiscovered corner of your city. I did it one day; picked up a book I’d struggled to find the time to read, grabbed a hat and comfy walking shoes and headed by train for Newtown. As a city of villages, Sydney is connected by a network of suburbs with their own lively identities that emanate charm and cool. Newtown, like many inner city neighbourhoods, is effectively one long street alive with an eclectic mix of street-side cafes, hipster op-shops, bakeries, Japanese homewares and hand-made jewellery stores. The shops topple over each other in terrace style and there’s no shortage of sidewalk entertainment to keep the mood peppy. Browsing through shops selling trinkets, eating in cafes with a book for company or stopping to watch an impromptu pan flute quartet, really you could be anywhere in the world.

Maybe you’ll take a walk through the grounds of an ancient monument, or a temple packed with history and presence, spontaneously exploring the soul of a sacred site. For years I had driven down the same road in Delhi and it was only one day when we decided to spend a day taking a heritage walk through an Archaeological park that I recognised I’d driven past the nondescript entrance countless times. When we walked around the winding pathway we found ourselves in a landscape of weathered stone tombs, carved archways leading to deserted prayer halls and a skyline of timeless, silent minarets. These are the treasures that we easily overlook, yet others will travels miles to wander.

And there are a few more pro’s to add to the list; no connecting red-eye flights, hire cars and tours to organise and with this kind of 24 hour getaway, going solo can add to the flexibility, indulging your curiosity a little more. It’s not for everyone, but it can be a wonderful time out and a spontaneous quick-fix to rebalance life. The trick is to let go of everything else, which is usually what we do on holidays so well. We allow our minds to rest and our spirits to breathe. We park all the responsibility and routine and simply live in the moment.

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