Sunday, 9 February 2014

Being a traveller, as opposed to a tourist

We've all seen tourists, and, to be fair, we've all been tourists, at least to a degree.  But I prefer to be, and will be, a traveller.  To my mind, there are several key differences:

A tourist has a specific list of places to go, attractions to see, and misses everything on the way.  A traveller takes it all in.  A classic example is the Great Ocean Road, in Victoria.  We came back along there late in 2012, took over a week to do it, but repeatedly saw people who were doing the whole shebang in 1 day (it's a 500 km round trip from Melbourne), flying around terrifying corners at 130kmh+, just to make sure they got it all done.

Tourists like places like Lorne, full of shops, overpriced accommodation, and bustle.  There's never any quiet, it's go, go, go.  Travellers prefer the quieter spots, like Johanna Beach (picture below).  I hated Lorne, too many people, too much noise.  And it wasn't even 'the season'.

Tourists treat wherever they are as if it was their own home, leaving their rubbish laying about, carrying on like yahoos, and generally being obnoxious (and noxious).  Travellers try to leave as few footprints as they can.

Travellers are not averse to tourist attractions, like the birdlife at Kennett River (which is basically a tiny shop & a holiday park).  The picture is me, with said birds.  Travellers will go to the attractions, then look beyond them.

Tourists are all about comfort, the traveller will make do.  We travelled 4 weeks, sleeping on bus seats, and had the time of our lives.  By the end, I at least looked like I hadn't slept for a month (I have photos to prove it), but we had a great time, and even when we broke down, 24 hours out of collection, we made the best of it.  Props to the tiny South Australian town of Keith.  Great community, wonderfully helpful and understanding.  Will go back for sure.

Now, all this is not to say I will never be a tourist again, or do tourist-y things, I do the 'tourist-y' thing here, if I see a plant, flower, building I find interesting, I have to examine it more closely, or take a picture.  I have, and no doubt will again, driven through places where I could happily spend time looking around.   But I also demanded a stop for things I really wanted to see (didn't always get it), even if it was just a random roadside object, like the settler house in a paddock on the highway near Padthaway.

The figure near the sign is not an actual person, but a straw figure in colonial getup.  Padthaway is also on my list of places to go back to.  Most of the places on my 'Must Return' list are out-of-the-way towns, although I must go back to Mount Gambier for the Blue Lake....

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