it really is far away…
Posted in australia, pia's photos February 9th, 2010 by pia


I woke up this morning in anticipation of the deafening screech of cockatoos but instead I heard the wind gently pulling at the thick ropes that hold my home to the shore. As I dozed off again I thought I heard the dawn call of a kookaburra, but it was a distant car alarm. And as for the sound of cicadas, there is now unnatural silence in its place.


I recall a strange conversation I had some time last year here in Amsterdam with a European who told me about how much they disliked Australia. I said “what is it about it that you don’t like?” They said they had visited for 2 weeks, traveled down the coast from Sydney to Melbourne, and just hated it. Even though this person was quite rude, I, uncharacteristically, shrugged it off. When I glanced over to french boy, he was very obviously irritated. He said, “Well, what about the nature?! It is full of incredible, wild, unspoiled nature!” and to that this person dismissively replied “Oh yeah sure, but how much can you have of nature?”


So anyway now, I have to unpack. Needless to say that some of the sand, sea treasure and dried foliage from my homeland made it into the suitcase. Unpacking can be so bittersweet…


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  1. Cath Conroy says

    Dear Pia,
    It seems time has got tangled up and I find myself where you are and you me. Oh my heart twinges for you unpacking!! It is so beautiful here indeed and it really creeps up on you how much a part of you it becomes. I hope the rain stops in queensland (go figure from one country to the next) for me to take some lovely pics to keep the memories just a little longer in your heart. I look forward to sharing a cuppa and a chat on our other home turf xx

    February 9th, 2010 | #

  2. Freshly Found says

    Welcome ‘home’!? It must be difficult splitting yourself over 2 countries that are so far apart. Yet it must enrich you too! I live in South Africa and do sometimes wish for the order, history and culture of Europe. Yet we in Africa have a beautiful texture in life and living. The best is to be able to visit and experience many cultures!
    Hope you soon settle back into your Dutch way of life!

    February 9th, 2010 | #

  3. jules @ the diversion project says

    Funny story! – personally i can’t ever get too much of our nature 🙂


    February 9th, 2010 | #

  4. Sarah says

    The differences between where we are and where we have been are hard to adjust to at first. I have never been as far as Australia but I find the same thing when returning from a trip.
    It is incredible how radically different peopls’s view of the world can be isn’t it? I just hope never to be stuck on a desert island with someone like the person you met. How much can you have of nature?! Hilarious.

    February 9th, 2010 | #

  5. pygmy says

    Lovely images! Hope you settle back into life in the ‘Dam easily enough!

    February 9th, 2010 | #

  6. liane says

    oh, the silliness. perhaps that person has thought twice about what they said. i grew up in a rural area and appreciate more when i spend time in the city. nature has a lot to teach.

    February 9th, 2010 | #

  7. my spatula says

    agreed. unpacking is always so bittersweet. i am in love with your blog and so happy i stumbled upon it. i love it, all of it.

    February 9th, 2010 | #

  8. Karen S. says

    You really captured the feeling of coming home. Your photos are gorgeous. I cry every time I have to leave Paris. But then I get back to New York, and all is well again. That said, you have to admit that nature in Australia is not for the faint of heart! (Unless, well, maybe I’ve been watching too much of the Discovery Channel…) 🙂

    February 9th, 2010 | #

  9. mlle paradis says

    i know so much what you mean. i feel like my connection to places: hawaii, france is almost molecular. it’s been one of the biggest mysteries of my life why my heart has to be split always and how it is possible that some people can live in a place forever as a matter of course whereas that life is somehow an impossibility for me on a very practical level. on the other hand, we are rich, rich to be able to have both if only for a little bit of time.

    February 9th, 2010 | #

  10. Angela Negro says

    Interesting – I’ve had that remark from numerous French people here. Although I know a lot of French people who do adventure racing and flee their own big cities…I know I need both countries for all they have to offer. With children – I wish I was back in Australia for the school system however…

    February 9th, 2010 | #

  11. josephine says

    welcome home!

    what a strange comment that person made about australia. i’ve encountered comments like that about japan and hong kong so often, and it used to irritate me, but now i just shrug it off like you. i think people forget that those places are considered home to a lot of people. all they have to say is, “it wasn’t for me” and leave it at that.

    February 9th, 2010 | #

  12. Krista says

    Exquisite photos. Australia is so dear to my heart, mostly, I think, because of the people I cherish who are there. I hope your day is beautiful as you remember.

    February 9th, 2010 | #

  13. Maria says

    What a breathtakingly beautiful, dreamy series of images. Thank you for these!

    February 9th, 2010 | #

  14. Diana says

    I loved Australia. Six weeks is a silly little time for a whole continent, but it planted a seed. It also was our first far away destination as a family, after all the travelling we used to do as a couple, and I hope we could give our girls a taste for this fascinating, beautiful part of our planet full of character and welcoming people.

    I know will always smile when I hear a kookaburra, and I swear I could live on banana bread!

    February 9th, 2010 | #

  15. Amanda {Mocking Bird} says

    You just made me extremely homesick.
    And that guy sounds like a jerk.

    February 9th, 2010 | #

  16. Eva says

    Beautiful, evocative words and photos. Having two home countries is hard sometimes. Welcome back to Europe!

    February 9th, 2010 | #

  17. Laura [What I Like] says

    This reminds me of a response from Ronald Reagan when he was asked about preserving the gian sequoias in California…”you’ve seen one tree, you’ve seen them all”. It takes all kinds I suppose.

    February 9th, 2010 | #

  18. Jen Jafarzadeh says

    it must be hard to say goodbye to a place as beautiful as I imagine australia to be (who can tire of nature — what a weirdo!)

    February 10th, 2010 | #

  19. a-m says

    Oh Pia, I feel for you. I have a kookaburra making an awful racket outside my window as I type. You’re so blessed to have 2 homes that make your heart ache. A-M xx

    February 10th, 2010 | #

  20. ash says

    the kookaburra songs at dusk and dawn, the buzz of cicadas, the warmth on your skin… that and more combine to create a feeling that’s so uniquely Australia. I fall in love more every day, and I’ve lived here forever.

    hope you get to come home again soon. xo

    February 10th, 2010 | #

  21. Brigitta Ryan {duo} says

    too much nature?!?! is he serious?

    February 10th, 2010 | #

  22. Tracey Cove says

    Australia is sadder without you Pia. Isn’t is wonderful to look at your own country through different eyes? Whilst living in London I often came across dim views of Australia (and often from people who had never even been here!). Every country has its charms – only the narrow minded can’t find them.
    I hope you settle back in nicely : )

    February 10th, 2010 | #

  23. Ann Marie says

    how beautiful! my dad lived in australia for two years before he married my mom. i’ve always wanted to visit. thank you for these photos!

    February 10th, 2010 | #

  24. Maia says

    I love your take on Australia and your love for its wild nature in its every smallest detail. I loved Australia when I was there, and had wanted to go for years. Thanks for transporting us, and for seeing with such loving eyes.

    February 10th, 2010 | #

  25. happy moments says

    I admire your work, I’ve recently bought your book “paris made by hand” and read it over and over. It’s fantastic,parisian aroma comes through it. keep up the good work.

    February 10th, 2010 | #

  26. Tara Bradford says

    Always bittersweet leaving a place you love. In San Francisco, I met a girl who spent 20 minutes telling me how much she hated Paris. Now she’s leading tours here (I pity those on tour)! Some people just can’t be satisfied, no matter how much beauty and opportunity is right there for them to enjoy. Sigh. Hope to see you in Amsterdam later this spring. xo

    February 10th, 2010 | #

  27. Sara says

    I love love love these photos! It makes me crave Europe

    February 10th, 2010 | #

  28. heather roberts says

    dear pia,

    so love these photos and personal narrative to go with it! i have been loving your blog and books for some time and have a question (that i hope you see amidst all these lovely comments!)–your photos have such great quality to them: what kind of camera do you use?

    thanks in advance for answering. and thanks, always, for sharing beauty! 🙂

    heather roberts, slc, ut, usa

    February 11th, 2010 | #

  29. pia says

    Thanks for all your welcome home wishes – I’m glad a few of you found the humour too! I had a good chuckle at the time, when this person said “but how much can you get of nature”, french boy saw the comical expression on my face – this person obviously had no idea how much nature inspires my life and work! Pretty funny.

    heather – canon 400D is what I use, it’s pretty old fashioned as far as digital cameras go these days but I love it all the same. I don’t use the digital settings though, I have no idea how to use them actually – i bought that camera because it mimics an analogue when using the manual setting. I’m not really a digital gal. If you are interested in photography, I highly recommend you take a course in learning photography ‘the old fashioned way’! It will help you get an understanding of what photography is all about.

    tara – hilarious! I would love love to see you in late spring – my amsterdam book launch will be in june – if you could come along it would be wonderful! Perhaps we could do one of the little wanders together?

    Thanks again guys! It’s nice to be back.


    February 11th, 2010 | #

  30. theaxx says

    aw!! it’s interesting… that nature has more noise, or more ‘sound’ than city… I guess in being in both places to get it all really… could be worse/ but i completely understand where you’re coming from. Cause well, there’s no place like home, and when you have two, really, half of your heart is always with the other… isn’t it?



    February 16th, 2010 | #

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