The first unavoidable comparison between that old trip and our new visit is the sheer amount of stuff I got to see back then. On my own, fit and in the mood for exploration, I managed to pack more into a single day of travel than we managed to fit a whole week this time around. Extrapolate that experience over the period of a month and it becomes clear that during that single month I spent in Australia ten years ago I probably got to see more than the majority of Australian born ever get to see of their country.
Then again, there are things I missed seeing back then. I did the tourist destinations, mostly the natural ones, but I failed to see much about the culture. To name but two examples, I didn't realize just how dominant alcohol and sports are in Aussie culture, and I failed to see the contradiction between the strict formality of office life and the extreme abandonment of going to the pub for afternoon drinks. Back then I just got to see Australia the way a naive Israeli would.
Looking at my own person, I can clearly see how my last ten years have changed me. At their beginning, before the bursting of the Internet bubble, I was this young and arrogant guy who thought the whole world is his for the taking; now I'm a tired father with much more of a social conscious, although still too lazy to do much about it. More importantly, back then I was on my own; now I'm travelling with the people I love the most, people without which my life would seem pointless and meaningless.
I may be ten years older now, but I think I'm much a much wiser, complete person than I was before. I am glad I did that big road trip around Australia: that journey was the catalyst without which I would never be where I am now. Journeys, it seems, have a special way of getting on to you, proving that it's not getting there that matters but rather how you get there. I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.