Coogee Bondi coastal walk

No one said a word.  The five of us stood there with our hands on our hips, there was nothing to be heard except for the heavy breathing, the light wind whipping across the top of the rock face, and the slow crashing of waves below.  The mutual feeling of serenity washed away the need for words.

Two-hours earlier

If there is ever a time in your life to take the “scenic route,” it is going from Bondi to Coogee.  Ask any native Australian and they will tell you that the walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee is one of the most beautiful walks you will ever experience.  Taking any other route would be a sin.

As you may or may not know, June, July, and August are Australia’s winter months.  Although it rarely gets below 40 degrees (Fahrenheit), and usually hovers between 50 and 60, there are some days when it is probably best not to go to the beach.  Nonetheless, we lucked out with the perfect Saturday for a walk.  “75 and sunny,” said the news anchor, and we were on the 480 (bus) to Bondi before he could make it to sports.

Truth be told, I was a bit skeptical about the walk and was worried that it wasn’t going to live up to all the hype.  I mean it’s just a walk, how cool could it be?  My inhibitions were quickly washed away as we began walking.  The six-kilometer walking trail traverses along a brown and orange sandstone coastline.  High above the ocean we were able to see for miles in all directions, the picturesque scenery was truly breathtaking.

We walked slowly in order to appreciate the vast blue ocean, perfect waves, and gentle giants of rock faces, and of course, took lots of pictures.  However, as we continued walking I began to take less and less pictures, even though the scenic views continued to become more and more beautiful.  I realized my desire to capture these moments through a screen was taking away from the actual experience.  So I put my camera away and engaged in an experience solely between nature and me.

Two-hours later we made it to Coogee.  We stopped at the top of an enormous cliff face, took our sweaty shirts off, put our hands on our hips, and breathed deep the sweet and salty ocean air.  There was a clear and tacit feeling of serenity there, but also a feeling of satisfaction.

Bondi coastal walk

As much as I hate to admit it, my first week here in Sydney I wasn’t sure if I had made the right decision.  I didn’t know anyone here and all my family and friends were back home.  There were plenty of people in my program, but I still felt a bit lonely in the absence of the strong relationships I have back home.

That got me to thinking, and more importantly accepting something.  It is not always about the people, what about your relationship with the place?  People are so afraid to be alone in today’s society.  No one ever wants to do anything on their own.  Heck, most people can’t even sit in one place by themselves without logging onto facebook, instagram, or twitter (myself included).

Standing with my hands on my hips, looking out at the overwhelming beauty, I realized that this is why I came here.  I came here to be in Sydney, Australia. Don’t get me wrong, relationships are important and I have already made some good friends here.  Despite our skepticism, going to new places naturally results in making friends.  That’s all well and good, but I came here to learn and grow in a completely new place, and my hope is that by learning more in and about a new place, I will learn more about myself.

Since this realization I have vowed to “get lost” at least once a week.  I will hop on a bus, train, or just start walking until I am lost.  And before I try to find my way back I explore for a while.  If I see something that is cool or inspiring I walk towards it.  I have seen and learned so much about Sydney and myself doing this.  It has made me a lot more comfortable with being alone.  There is something oddly tranquil about being on your own, completely immersed in a place that is unfamiliar but inspiring.  So put down your phone, you can call your friends later, there is so much to explore, experience, and learn.  Get out there and lose yourself, you never know what you might find.

Stetson Newman  is a student at the College of Charleston and a TEAN Featured Blogger. Stetson is currently interning abroad in Sydney, Australia through TEAN.