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Connecting Gippsland through positive storytelling.


Near and far.

Following nearly two years of significantly altered freedoms, a renewed appreciation for the beauty found in our local surroundings was unearthed.

Jan 2, 2023

Words: Andrew Northover

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As I stood at the edge of the archipelago, gazing out at the endless expanse of Lofoten’s Arctic Sea, I couldn't help but feel a sense of peace. The small Norwegian fishing village beneath me was quiet and serene: the only sounds emanating from the gentle lapping of the waves against the shore.

It was 2019, and I had come to this remote corner of the world seeking solitude, a respite from the hustle and chaos of everyday life. I had always been drawn to the idea of travelling to far-flung corners of the Earth. To places where the crowds are thin and the landscapes are wild. And here, 300km north of the Arctic Circle, I had found exactly what I was looking for.

The days passed slowly as I explored the seemingly endless islands, hiking through the rugged mountains through the season’s perpetual daylight. I revelled in the sense of isolation, relishing the time I had to myself to think, reflect and focus entirely on enjoying each single moment.

But as the weeks went by, I started to feel a sense of disconnection. Despite the beauty of my surroundings, I found myself missing the connections and interactions that came with something we rarely attribute to home – society. I longed to share my experiences with others, to have someone to talk to and explore the islands with.

And then, the world changed. The pandemic hit. Lockdowns struck cities all over the planet, and suddenly the idea of being alone in a remote location was less of a romanticised decision to escape reality, and instead a government mandate. Travel became restricted and confined to our own properties.

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After almost two years of drastically altered freedoms, travel culture had been resculpted in a way we’d have never anticipated prior. Instead of feeling trapped and isolated by the conditions laid out before me, I found myself rediscovering the beauty and wonder of my own backyard – Gippsland. I explored the hiking trails, mountain ranges, seascapes and national parks that I had always taken for granted, and found a renewed sense of appreciation for the world immediately around me.

As the restrictions started to ease and travel opened again, I found myself drawn to new places, but with a different perspective. Instead of seeking out isolated corners of the world, I wanted to explore and connect with the people and places around me, while discovering the little hints of what we call home, 16,000km away.
Sometimes, when the world is your oyster, you tend to forget the sheer beauty and excellence that is available right in front of you. You forget intentional isolation is mere minutes from our doorsteps. Perfect, star-studded skies are within walking distance of our major towns, and gourmet food and wine are available year round with completely unique scents and flavour.

I’ve travelled to new and old places alike, but with a newfound sense of curiosity and openness. I’ve listened to the stories and experiences of those I met, and shared my own. And, in doing so, I found a sense of connection and belonging that I had long been missing since my solo journey to the Norwegian Archipelago.

As I continue to travel and explore new places, I have come to understand the true value of connection and belonging. While the allure of isolated corners of the world once drew me in, I now find myself drawn to places where I can discover the unique-ness of each location through the community I meet there. And now, whether I am travelling to distant lands or exploring the wonders of my own backyard, I am constantly reminded of the importance of finding what we each consider our own sense of home.

Gippslandia - Issue No. 25

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