So I have just finished four weeks ‘backpacking’ the East Coast of Australia (I set out on my adventures with a backpack, 2 weeks in I packed it in and bought a suitcase, the greatest decision ever!!!!) and I was blessed enough to visit all the major spots such as Fraser Island, The Whitsundays and The Great Barrier Reef, as well as various other amazing destinations along the way. It was EPIC! I had such a fantastic time and I wanted to share my experience in case anyone else is considering visiting Australia’s East Coast.
When I first decided I wanted to visit Down Under, I thought four weeks was plenty! I thought I would be able to see East, West, South, North and everywhere in between. What I failed to realise is that Australia is actually GINORMOUS and the four weeks to get from Melbourne to Cairns, whilst stopping along all the great destinations in between, was actually going to be a tight squeeze. Thankfully, because we had booked a Cruiser Pass with Oz Experience via STA Travel, we were able to go into an STA shop in Melbourne and they very diligently helped us plan out our entire trip, from booking accommodation, to finalising our excursions and even booking our Greyhound buses for us. Some people love doing all of those things themselves, the thrill of not knowing where they are sleeping that night excites them! However, we were over the moon at having all of this done for us, especially because this was our first time traveling in this way.
In terms of accommodation, not trying to sound like a snob (but I’m sure it will come off that way), I was used to staying in a certain level of luxury, so the thought of hostelling it up for 4 weeks was a little daunting to me. I had stayed in a hostel once l before in Amsterdam, but that was only for 3 nights and the other 3 girls in my room I knew. This was going to be me and my cousin, in up to an 8 bed dorm with strangers! Thankfully, staying in a hostel ended up being very sociable and fun, and Australia’s standard of hostels, I found on the whole, were quite decent (I had been traumatised by my secondary school friend’s story about how she was bitten by bed bugs in a hostel, and thanked my lucky starts this didn’t happen to me!)
As I said earlier, I stopped in all the major destinations and I’ll tell you a little about each place. To go into everything I did in detail would take a thesis! Our first stop was Melbourne and we stayed in the centre for the first 3 nights in a hostel, before staying for 3 nights with my cousin’s friend. We booked a tour of the Great Ocean Road, which is one of Australia’s most famous stretches of beaches with scenic views of the coastline, and we also went to Eureka Skydeck where you can see 360-degree view of Melbourne from the highest public vantage point in the Southern Hemisphere. We also visited Queen Victoria Market, The Royal Botanic Gardens and Melbourne Zoo which were all great in their own way. My absolute favourite part of Melbourne was visiting Phillip Island which is home to the Penguin Parade! At sunset, you get to see Little Penguins returning to shore after a day of fishing. They were literally the cutest animals I had ever seen in my life, and I even got a bit emotional watching them in awe.
After a 90 minute flight, we arrived in Sydney for 3 nights. Of course in our time here, we saw The Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Bondi Beach (it would have been a crime not to!), but we also saw other spectacular sights. We had dinner one night in Darling Harbour which was bustling with cafes, restaurants and bars, and it also meant we had a beautiful view while we dined. On our second day in Sydney, we did the Coogee to Bondi Beach walk, stopping at various different stunning beaches along the way. It was a glorious day, which meant I got extremely sweaty during the walk but it was well worth it. I am not much of a ‘walker’ at all, preferring to drive down the road to the Post Office, so for me to love it, says a lot!
If you find yourself in Sydney, you absolutely HAVE to see The Blue Mountains! It’s a World Heritage Area and has spectacular views, especially of the Three Sisters at Echo Point. One place I didn’t get to see in Sydney which I would have loved to see is Manly Beach! I was told it’s a great way to explore The City via boat. When I’m next in Australia, which could quite possibly be another decade because the flight is looong, I would definitely visit Manly Beach.
Usually people head from Sydney to Byron Bay, but as it was Easter weekend, all of the hostels were booked up in Byron Bay because it is such a popular destination, so we took a sixteen-hour bus ride from Sydney to Surfer’s Paradise, then planned to go back on ourselves to Byron Bay. This stop ended up being one of my favourites, quite possibly because we were upgraded to a hotel because all of the hostels there were also fully booked, and let me tell you, after hostel bathrooms, I couldn’t describe to you the JOY of having our own room with our own shower and TOWELS given to us! (As you can see, this experience has made me appreciate the simple things in life). Surfer’s Paradise looked like how I imagined Miami to look with its high rise buildings, beautiful stretch of beach and buzzing nightlife which we thoroughly took advantage of 😉
My next blog post will be about the second part of my adventures Down Under but I didn’t want to ramble on which is so easy to do when trying to condense four weeks into a few paragraphs. Until then, take care lovelies!!
- WHY I TRAVELLED WITHOUT MY HUSBAND
- MY FIRST EXPERIENCE ‘BACKPACKING’ AUSTRALIA PART 2