Sun, Sand and Sydney

Sydney, Australia


Sadly my Australian journey has come to an end. It has taken me approximately 17555km of travelling to get back to Sydney. Most of it was on the road and I only cheated twice by flying from Perth to Cairns and then from the Gold Coast back down to Sydney – pretty good going hey? I have collected so many of my own stories and have had so many unique experiences yet I was still pretty excited to finally get to Sydney to see the city for myself. But first let me tell you about a few adventures along the way.

After Airlie beach I slotted right back on the typical tourist route with my next destination being Fraser Island – the largest sand island in the world. But to get there I first had to master the art of cracking a whip at the Kroombit cattle station before lassoing and catching goats. These sneaky little creatures obviously have had more practice in dodging the rope than I have had at throwing one so it took a little time before success. Filled with adrenaline I then climbed up sunset hill to get a good look at the outback. Stretching for miles and miles I could quite well understand how people could get lost here and think how amazing the story of the Rabbit Proof Fence was where three aboriginal children walked over 1500 miles through the outback to get back home.

Leaving the outback behind I headed back to the coast to explore the World Heritage Fraser Island. I explored Fraser Island the budget way by going the 4×4 route with a bunch of strangers – having a mixture of nationalities on board meant there were a few sticky moments generally caused by communication problems but all in all we had a good time. And we were a great team when it came to pushing our 4×4 out of the soft sand. Fraser island was a beautiful place where the beaches extended for miles and miles. The sea did look rather tempting from time to time but what with rips and sharks circling around it was best to stay away (actually warned to do so) and rather swim in one of the many freshwater lakes. The 75 mile beach was great to drive on, you just had to watch out for the dingoes and make sure there were no aeroplanes landing as we were effectively driving on their runway.

On my last day we had a long drive up to Indian Head which is a famous place to go and look down at the clear waters below to see sharks, turtles and if you lucky whales. Unfortunately the weather was not kind to us that day but it was still an exceptional view.

After spending three days on this island I was still not tired of beaches so when leaving Fraser Island I made my to Mooloolaba and Byron Bay to spend some more time relaxing on the beach and swimming in the sea. Both were beautiful places and it was nice to be out in the sunshine every day.

It was now onto my final city in Australia, the Harbour City, Sydney. What a great way to end my Australian part of my journey in such a vibrant and exciting place. The Sydney Opera House certainly stands out at the edge of the harbour and it is just one of those city sights that you just could not stop taking photos of – during the day, at night, at sunset… I think you get the picture. I did as much on my list as possible in the 5 days that I was there which included a ferry trip across to Manly and a bus trip out to Bondi Beach The water was much colder here than further up the coast. I found this out after making a dash for it between the waves – I think it took me about 2 hours to warm up again. Along with all the must see sights I was lucky to spend time with some friends who took me to the some cool eating places and bars.

I was sad to leave Australia but I am sure one day I will return – after all I left out the south west and Tasmania. Tactical? Maybe.

Backpackers Inn on the Beach at Byron Bay – 29 Shirley St, Byron Bay, Australia
Mooloolaba Beach Backpackers – 75 Brisbane Rd, Mooloolaba, Australia
Frasers On Rainbow Beach – 18 Spectrum Ave, Rainbow Beach, Australia

All things big and beautiful

Whitsunday Islands, Australia

Have you ever lain on the beach all alone looking at the clouds float above you, watching the monotony of the waves crashing on shore and yet feeling completely at ease because you are filled with an emotion which I would only call contentment?

Well my trip along the east coast was filled with many of these moments – no, I was not always on the beach by myself but I was happy and relaxed. Content to take in every moment as it presented itself too me whether it was to lie by the pool reading my book, riding sky high above the canopy of the rainforest watching for blue butterflies or holding little Erwin – my two year old Koala Bear friend.

Erwin was just as relaxed as me, quite happy to be handed along to be held and have his picture taken. If you ever wonder what it is like to hold a Koala then I can only tell you that their fur is soft, nails sharp, quite heavy to hold and thankfully they do not smell – well not Erwin anyway.

After this special and unique experience I jumped on the Oz Experience bus to move south along the coast to see the other wildlife of Australia along with the beautiful coastline of the East Coast. All this was intermingled with bizarre stops such as the Big Mango, the Big Snake, the Big directors chair, the Big Gumboot along with learning a bit of trivia about the Golden Gumboot award. Surely the coast has enough to offer without these weird Big things and awards but if you have time it is worth listening to some of these stories that I guess make Australians unique. Now whether you want to or not you have to hear about this Golden Gumboot award. It all started when two small towns (Tully and Binda) decided to compete every year for the town with the most rainfall. Not that they had much say over the matter but it has become a tradition and a very much cherished award, so much so that because Binda holds the record of the most rainfall, Tully decided to create their very own gumboot – you guessed it the Big Gumboot stands proudly in the middle of town. Now that is an icon on its own and certainly overshadows the small golden gumboot hidden in the Binda post office window!

Although this is all fascinating, my interests did not lie in the Big things or the tasting of a Green butt ant but in the days to follow – cruising the Whitsundays. The Whitsundays Islands are made out of 74 islands in the Coral Sea and the three days I spent sailing on the Classic Tall ship, Ron of Argyll, meant I only touched the surface. With 8 people on board we had some great days chilling on deck, occasionally working by helping pull up and take down sails, snorkeling along the Langford reef which fringes around the Great Barrier Reef and visiting the famous Whitehaven Beach. I am sure you have all seen the postcards of this famous beach and it is just like the photos – 7kms of pristine white silica sand and clear blue waters.

I will admit that Whitehaven beach for me was the highlight of the trip but as I saw so many wonderful things I do have trouble not mentioning some other experiences such as swimming with green back turtles, spotting dolphins right alongside the boat and being fortunate enough to see three humpback whales as they made their way north from Antarctica to breed in sheltered waters of the Whitsundays. What an amazing ‘wow’ filled days and I had not even left Queensland yet!

Magnums Backpackers – 366 Shute Harbour Rd, Airlie Beach, Australia