From Cambridge to Numurkah

By Madeleine Byron

Once a champion shot put and javelin athlete, England’s Alice Galloway has spent the past six months roughing it in Australia.

Growing up in the city of Cambridge and regularly visiting family in Italy, Ms Galloway said she had always wanted to travel.

So when her friend suggested a year-long stay in Australia she jumped at the chance to experience the ‘red country.’

Boarding a plane in December 2018 the duo set out to spend seven nights in a hostel and continue to plan as the holiday progressed.

Ms Galloway said her first thrill was short-lived when they tracked to the beach for a warm birthday in Australia.

‘‘My birthday is in December so I went from having it in the cold and wet to here. So I wanted to go to the beach, and then it rained. I remember thinking, ‘great, I’ve come all this way for a nice hot birthday and its raining’,’’ she said.

Teaming up with fellow backpackers, the group toured the Great Ocean Road before returning to Airbnb accommodation in Melbourne.

‘‘It was way fancier then we thought it was going to be and I remember we had spent the last couple of days before sleeping in a teepee, we all smelt like bonfire and we had sea sticky hair,’’ Ms Galloway said.

‘‘We just looked rough and rocked up at this building a mile high — you could tell 100 per cent that we were travellers, we just stood out like sore thumbs,’’ she said.

Finding her first Christmas hard without family, Ms Galloway said she threw herself into the Australian spirit and attended the Boxing Day Test at the the MCG.

‘‘I’ve never been so bored in my whole life,’’ she said.

‘‘Twenty minutes in we were all sitting there like, ‘right, now what do we do?’’’

Ms Galloway said she had a better experience attending the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks.

‘‘I actually bumped into one of the girls I used to work with in London, she was also staying in Sydney so we ended up spending New Year’s Eve together which was amazing because it was my number one thing to do on my Australian bucket list,’’ she said.

Learning from her MCG experience, Ms Galloway said she was hesitant to attend the Australian Open back in Melbourne.

‘‘That was a whole other weird experience,’’ she said.

‘‘We ended up going into one of the other courts because they said, with the tickets we bought, if you got there at the right time you could watch the game on the big screen.’’

Watching the entire game on the screen, Ms Galloway said she nearly fell off her chair when Novak Djokovic walked onto the court in front of them.

‘‘He just walked in with this trophy and we were left standing in absolute awe,’’ she said.

Following the conditions of her visa, Ms Galloway applied to become an au pair.

‘‘I love working with kids and it was a good way to see more of the country,’’ she said.

Receiving an application from a family in Melbourne the same day she applied, Ms Galloway said she was intrigued by an application from a family in Numurkah.

She accepted, and moving into her new role and residency in February, Ms Galloway said she was greeted with a change of lifestyle.

‘‘I have always lived in a town or a city, and now I look out the windows and I see nothing — except the occasional cow — and you just think ‘oh my life has changed’,’’ she said.

Experiencing the farm life Ms Galloway said she had developed a new respect for country people.

‘‘So, so much respect for farmers — before I took it all for granted, I’d just turn the tap on and there’d be water in there — I never had to worry about how much rain we got or be weather dependant because I just never had to think about it,’’ she said.

Enjoying her time in Numurkah, Ms Galloway said she would never go back to living the city life.

‘‘I really don’t want to leave, we had lunch at the Big Strawberry the other day, we’ve had lunch on a river boat in Echuca — I’ve pierced cows’ ears and given them their identification tags, driven the tractor and ridden the motorbike,’’ she said.

‘‘I’ve had experiences here that I would never get anywhere else,’’ she said.

Moving forward, Ms Galloway said her next step was to find full-time farm work and extend her visa.

‘‘The plan is to do more farm work and then get a campervan and drive up the east coast of Australia and then stay for another year,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m quite content to go with the flow, but I know I’ve got an open invitation in Numurkah which is nice,’’ she said.