When I was 18 years old I packed up a two door Ford hatchback to the absolute brim. I drove 5 days, 5,000km, 5 provinces, with only 5 things on my mind. Mountains, Skiing, Adventure, Independence, and Beautiful British Columbia. Let the journey begin.
Back in those days skiing was everything. I wanted to be a known skier, I wanted to rip big lines and jump cliffs. I wanted to push the limits and take the sport (and myself) further. Not that I really knew where ‘further’ was, I just knew that’s where I was going, and where better to start than in your own backyard. British Columbia is home to some of the best ski terrain in the entire world. For seven months a year the majority of the province is transformed into a winter wonderland. It is home to the Coastal Range, the Columbias, and of course the Rockies. These mountains support a wide array of ski resorts and are home to some pretty dedicated ski bums. A growing portion of which are Australian.
When I first moved to BC I lived in a small central town called Golden. It is a gem. A tightknit community with relatively easy access to some of the best adventure sport terrain Canada has to offer. You think this would naturally draw the crowds, however Golden is a long way from anywhere and to get there you have to pass other renowned Canadian tourism hotspots (Lake Louise, Banff), most likely getting stuck before actually making it to Golden. The town is surrounded by seven national parks and three provincial parks, and rests comfortably in the Columbia Valley on the brink of the powerful Columbia River. The wildlife is abundant and you could easily spot a deer, bald eagle, mountain goat, black bear, and possibly a brown bear all in a days hike. We even used to lock up our garbage in a cage at night, sadly the bears are so ‘curious’ they will wander into town following the scent of food. The fishing is world class and apparently even the hunting is good, when it is allowed. Golden is truly a gem of a location and more and more people are figuring this out, including the elusive Australian traveller looking to do a ski season in Western Canada. Keep your eyes open people these guys can be hard to spot. 🙂
If you didn’t catch my attempt at sarcasm, Australians doing a ski season in Western Canada are definitely not hard to spot. I think Whistler is a house hold name in almost every university residence in Aus. In fact a few of my best Aussie mates were met at the base of a mountain in the freezing cold crisp morning air. There is a connection between Australia and Canada and it is most evident in BC. We always laugh and say it’s because of our colonial history (inset British remark here), however I truly believe Canada and Australia are incredibly similar on many more in depth levels, for instance a few off the top of my head; similar government and social services, similar sense of humour, relatively good international standing as a nation, overall general kindness, good level of education, economic stability, and my personal favourite, the desire to travel to know the world. All of these similarities create a very comfortable atmosphere for Aussies in Canada and Canucks in Australia. Except for when you take the -20 winter conditions into play. Anyway you get the idea.
When I was 18, bright eyed and innocent, I made my way into the working world and started following a dream. Turns out there was a small handful of Internationals in Golden doing the exact same thing. One of this mishmash of travellers happened to be an Australian in her late 20’s making the most of a Canadian winter season, living in a small backcountry town, a long ways away from everything and anyone she knew. We quickly became friends and I still remember the big happy smile on Lesley’s face every morning. “G’Day Greg mate, how ya goin’?” Lesley is an absolute legend and her travels inspire. Here is a great old photo from our days spent skiing in Argentina.
Skiing in Argentina, is that possible? Yup… and it’s good! I remember days past in Golden sitting sipping a beer with my new found circle of friends, everyone tied together by the mountains and the common love for a simple sport. We were from all walks of life and all had stars in our eyes, anything is possible when you have the dreamer’s disease and desire to live life to its absolute fullest, every day. One afternoon like any other topic of conversation, Chile and Argentina came up in our circle, “Hey why not chase the winter and go skiing in the Andes” said Lesley, not really focused on anyone in particular. “Yeah, sure thing, why not?” I said. I then started thinking, I could do that. I’ll have a few months off this summer and could use an adventure. And as simple as that the pact was made and four of us decided to meet again in Chile (or Argentina) a couple of months later.
This is the quickest way I can sum up a decision that has shaped my life as I know it. I have been travelling for 9 years and have followed a road that has brought with it incredible experiences, awe inspiring wildlife encounters, endless photo opportunities, a ton of smiles from people on almost every continent (missing Antarctica and funny enough Australia), and best of all, the most important thing, friendships with characters that will redefine a lifetime.
I am truly lucky to say that the majority of my international lifelong friends are Australian. From those who I met skiing in BC and South America, to the ones I have met in Costa Rica, Aruba, Zanzibar, Ecuador and Argentina. You guys are the stuff of legend! Absolute rippas! As for Lesley, I miss her and her zest for life, and very much look forward to seeing her again one day, somewhere. Here is the link to her video in support of my Wildlife Caretaker application.
And here is the link to the 19 other Aussie videos sent in with their support for my Wildlife Caretaker – Best Jobs in the World application. Thank you does not do these videos justice. You guys rock!
Do you have any outstanding Aussieland vs. Canadia stories you could share? Ever been to Whistler…. meet any Aussies? I would love to hear you’re A.vs.C. travel tales and look forward to reading the (most likely funny) entries. Cheers for the read. Good on ya Cobba’!!