The Secret to Thriving in Australia’s Outback

One of Coober Pedy's iconic mining vehicle is lit by the light of the rising desert sun. Sarah Healy

Written by  July 11, 2018

The sparse, apocalyptic desert landscape of Coober Pedy lies a very long way away from well, anywhere. 

One struggle with working and living in the remote outback is the sheer amount of time involved getting anywhere nearby. This would not be a problem if time was plentiful, but my time spent off work is a previous commodity. By the time I arrive at the nearest town, I would have to turn right back. 

Hordes of travellers pass through Coober Pedy in oversized heavy-duty vehicles, kitted out to face an imminent apocalypse. Caked with inches of thick red dust and dirt, they offer a glimpse of the rugged hardships that lie deep in the heart of the Australian Outback. Although amenities are sparse, the town has everything you need, including: a supermarket (I have learned what day of the week fresh food arrives transport by the renowned road trains); a post office (I now write letters from the desert to my friends); gas stations; restaurants and pubs; and a pharmacy. 

However, the limited amenities combined with the lack of proximity from any other large town creates an environment that can quickly become stagnant. 

How do I cope with living in a remote location? 

Whenever I undertake a job for an extended period of time, the initial novelty inevitably wears thin after a few months. I believe this happens everywhere, regardless of whether its the bustling city of Melbourne or a desert town like Coober Pedy. I gradually succumb to the slow rhythm of a familiar routine. Routine itself suggests actions that are quite mindless. Repeating the same routine presents a Groundhog Day scenario. When each day begins to look and feel the same a change is needed.

Routine has a way of making my world shrink. Each day I see and do the same things at the same time. The monotony can feel lethal.

"If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it's lethal," writes Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho. 

Routine has a way of making my world shrink. Each day I see and do the same things at the same time. The monotony can feel lethal.

For this reason, I implement "mini adventures" into my life. These have had a huge impact on my overall happiness, outlook on life and are excellent for jolting me out of a routine when it becomes all too familiar.

What is a "mini adventure?"

I define it as the decision to take action and embark on an adventure wherever I happen to be in the world. I try to combine a passion of mine with something interesting in my environment. 

For example, the Winch is a nearby tourist attraction, which—as you probably guessed—is a winch. It sits upon a hill and offers a panoramic view of the unique town and the perfect place to watch the sunrise. I chose to experience the sunrise running on foot as it is my favourite way to travel. (In the desert, the sunrises and sunsets are truly breathtaking. The sparse landscape lends itself well to their visual impact.)

Combining my love of running and "mini adventures" has been revolutionary in terms of creating a better life balance. I love to move through an unfamiliar landscape and explore. As a solo traveller, running has given me the courage to venture into the unknown and not be afraid of getting lost. Through running, I have witnessed many breathtaking sunrises all over Australia. I find it exhilarating and connect in a more meaningful way with my environment. It also enables me to explore places that would otherwise be inaccessible. (It is a very different experience to explore terrain by foot instead of by car. The experience is more authentic and I can move at my own pace.) 

My mini adventures have enabled me to level up in terms of gratitude. I feel lucky to experience life in the outback. They have also enabled me to adopt a traveller's mindset, even when I am not strictly traveling.

I strive to be open, curious and seek adventure in my everyday life.

My little adventures have redefined how I think about curiosity and explore the world around me. I now view curiosity as an important stepping stone to a great adventure.

It can be far too so easy to sink into a routine: a place where happiness will never be found.

I encourage you to go forth and be curious. It will make you a happier human.

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Sarah Healy

Sarah Healy is a freelance writer, designer and adventuress originally hailing from the green isle of Ireland. Currently traversing Australia, she’s running desert marathons and working in hospitality in the Opal Capital of the world, the unique outback town of Coober Pedy.

Website: sarahtheadventuress.com/

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