Lately I've been trying this thing where I look at my home with fresh eyes. I've been fortunate enough to grow up on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, and with the exception of a few years where I moved around the Northern Rivers, it's where I've always lived. But after spending a few weeks exploring the incredible South Coast of NSW recently, I came home discouraged and disillusioned with the Sunshine Coast. I felt like I'd seen all there was to see here, I'd surfed all the beaches, climbed all the mountains, been to all the cafes. The weekend would roll around and I was unmotivated to explore, I truly felt like I couldn't be surprised by anything I found here at home.
Not long after, I was speaking to a friend who told me he'd been free-diving a reef he'd just discovered off his home beach. It was a beach he'd been surfing, kayaking and diving off his whole life, but had only just discovered this incredible reef - and it got me thinking, I wonder what other gems I was missing? Since then, I've been dedicating my weekends to exploring and looking at my home with fresh eyes, and I've found that as exciting as it is to explore internationally and experience new cultures, places and foods, it can be just as fun to explore your own backyard.
A few weekends ago, a friend and I chose to "go on holiday" in our home. She came around early Saturday morning and we packed the van - we were only going to be a few minutes away from home, but once we drove out of the driveway we weren't allowed to come back until the following day. We bought our food (and our beer), we loaded the surfboards and camp chairs into the van and we set off with actual giddy excitement. It wasn't about where we were going, but the idea that we could embody that feeling of adventure, excitement, of being "away," right here at home. If you're going to give this a go, it's important to make sure you don't get sucked into your daily routine; wake up early that Saturday morning with the intention to explore, the mindset of being away. That means no grocery shopping, no email checking, no quick jobs around the house.
You don't need a whole weekend though, a couple of hours is all it takes to discover something new and refresh your relationship with your home. Are there waterfalls to invigorate you? Hikes to clear the mind? New breaks to surf? It may be something as soothingly simple as pulling up near the ocean at sunset for a dip at golden hour. A great way to discover new gems is to make no plan at all; have a few essentials in your car to cover all the bases (walking shoes, surfboard, snorkel, picnic rug) and see where you end up. Turn your maps off on your phone, take an exit, get out and walk. See where you end up.
I think my favourite part about this whole experience has been sharing it with others; seeing the excitement and the willingness to discover, explore and be surprised by our backyard reflected in my friends eyes. I've been able to find a little group of people up for the challenge and together we've been falling in love with the Coast all over again. I took a friend up a local, tucked-away mountain yesterday afternoon for sunset; we packed a bottle of champagne in our basket and sipped the sparkling as the equally sparkly sun began to touch the Glasshouse Mountains on the horizon. I think I enjoyed watching her face more than the beautiful sunset though; like me, she'd lived on the Coast for years and couldn't believe this absolute gem was just off a road she'd driven hundreds of times. Magic is there, if we want to find it.
Whatever your weekend holds, be sure to explore.