Existing Member?

Goodbye New Jersey. Hello World! A record of my journey as I give up my job, my possessions, and life as I know it to go off and see the world!

Dumpster Diving in Katoomba

AUSTRALIA | Tuesday, 23 November 2010 | Views [3084] | Comments [1]

It’s almost midnight and I am shining a torch into a dumpster behind a Coles supermarket in Katoomba, Australia.  Katoomba is a small mountain town an hour train ride from Sydney.  I am accompanied by 3 people I have just met a few hours ago.  My company consists of two young women from France and Andrew, the man that we are couch surfing with.  Going through the dumpster was his idea after we visited a few pubs in town.  He calls it “dumpster diving” and apparently does it all the time.  The four of us are like kids in a candy store, seeing what goodies we can find.  In our hearts we are hoping for some Tim Tams to feed our post-alcohol munchies.  For those of you who don’t know - Tim Tams are these amazing chocolate coated, rectangular biscuits.  Dumpster number one is mostly empty, consisting only of cardboard boxes.  Dumpster number two is jackpot.  There is an abundance of red peppers that look to be in mint condition.  We find lettuce, blueberries, celery, strawberries, carrots, even an unopened packet of cucumbers.  We also find donuts still in the box and little apple pies.  We have intense conversations over what we find and whether we think it is good enough to eat.  For me it’s a hard call, I have never done anything like this in my life.  We even find a nice large plastic bag in the dumpster to bring home our booty.  I’ve read about groups of people that go through dumpsters but Andrew was the first person I’ve met in my life who actually did it.  After visiting a few other supermarkets we made the long trek home with our new found goods.

Couch Surfing, www.couchsurfing.org,  is an online organization where people offer their couches, beds, whatever in their homes to travelers.  Each person has a profile and you can leave reviews of people that you have stayed with.  You can also leave positive comments about people that you are friends with or have met through traveling.  In return for offering a place to stay, couch surfers usually offer to make dinner or perform some other nice gesture.  Couch surfing is a great idea because it gives you the chance to interact with people that actually live in the area that you are staying.  Couch surfers and hosts also get to exchange knowledge on what their different cultures are like.  I have had a couch surfing profile for ages but never took the plunge and attempted to try it.  I have been turned down by a few people in Australia but Andrew was gracious enough to let me into his home. 

It’s been quite the experience….besides the dumpster diving.  Andrew lives in the coziest home that overlooks the mountains.  He is a tree doctor (remover) for a living and as you walk in the door you can see a beautiful table that he made out of one of the trees from his work.  He has hundreds of books all over his home that cover every topic imaginable.  They range from travel books, to religion, to holistic living, to science, to plants, and amusingly enough to sex.  I wonder if he has actually read them all.  His kitchen is extremely interesting, full of reused glass bottles filled with mystery liquids, a compost container and heaps of bread that he gets for free from local bakers than are unable to sell it.  He has a few large receptacles that dispense real spring water that he collects.  This “old bread” is delicious.  There are occasional ants that walk along the counter, but they almost seem to fit in with the atmosphere.  The center of the living room has a wood burning stove that heats the house on cold nights.  The table top of one side table consists of a collection of shells, feathers, bones, insects, and even the preserved carcass of his old pet cane toad.  The walls are a light wood and as I type this I am looking out onto the mountains from the large windows that cover one whole wall of the house.  This place, this town, reminds me of my father and step-mother’s home in Virginia and I am comforted.  The mountains here even have the same name (Blue Mountains) as they do in Virginia.

Andrew is a firm believer in using what you have and not being wasteful.  He lives off of the things that other people don’t want.  And it works for him.  He was born in Sydney, raised in England, and came back here because he felt like Australia was “calling” to him. He’s tall, has long, crazy blondish hair and a beard.  I’m pretty sure he’s around my age but he looks older. He spends his days off building furniture and items with the wood he collects during his job.  He is extremely knowledgeable on all the plants and wildlife here and hikes and bikes often in the abundance of trails that this area has to offer. I think I am in love.  Perhaps not with him but with the idea of him.  He is living a life that I want, in a place that reminds me of happy times at home.  This is my first time in Australia where I feel comfort and at ease. 

And why can’t I have this life?  Because really with the right choices it could be me who is inviting random travelers to stay at my home and me who offers them bread that was going to be thrown away at the local bakeyr.  I have claimed before that this trip is about “finding myself”.  Well, I am definitely realizing that this is a life that I could live.  I could easily find some beautiful area to live in, teach, and have a cozy home to go to in which I only consume what I need.  A home where I can live in the moment and enjoy life for what it is.  I guess the question now is where this home could be. 

I’m in Andrew’s home alone tonight.  He went to a wedding and won’t be back until the morning.  His trust in strangers flabbergasts me, although I have had to trust him as well to stay here.  All he asked was for me to clean the produce we found from the dumpster which I have happily done.  Tomorrow we are going to make a meal out of all the peppers that we found.  I will light a fire again tonight and read, and be at peace. The whole idea of me being in a stranger’s home, by myself for the night doesn’t even seem wrong.  In fact, I can’t tell you the last time I felt more right.  The last person that made me feel this way was my former roommate Rachel and she inspired me to go outside my shell and see what I was capable in my life.  I can’t help but think of her now as well as I enjoy the peace here. 

To my traveling readers I say try couch surfing.  You never know who you might meet.  And to all my readers I say try to go outside the box and do something you never dreamed of.  You never know what you might find in a dumpster. 

Tags: australia, blue mountains, couchsurfing, katoomba



Hello dumpster girl!

Crazy people you meet along the way eh!
I am glad you're still having fun overthere in Down Under!
Definetely makes me want to travel again in the 'near' future (in about two or three years)!


xxx Chantal

  Chantal Nov 24, 2010 6:58 AM

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.



Travel Answers about Australia

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.