In December 2010, in the midst of my soul searching and quarter life crisis, I traveler to Australia and spent a month backpacking across the country. I flew into Brisbane and after spending a few day on the Gold Coast, I fly up to Cairns and from there traveled down the Eastern Coast all the way down to Melbourne. There are 30 lessons and surprising moments that I captured in my travel diary and wrote home about during that trip.
1. 22 hour flight from Toronto to Brisbane was not as painful as it may seem, a few naps and movies and you’re on the other side of the world.
2. The weather on the Gold Coast is sunny 350 days of the year. It rains for about 15. I was there for 5 of them.
3. The weather forecast for Cairns always predicts showers. It rains once a day for about 5 mins and stays absolutely gorgeous for the other 23 hrs and 55 mins.
4. Cricket rules are impossible to understand, making a game that can last 5 days really difficult to watch. Australians are perfectly fine with spending all 5 days glued to the couch with a beer in hand.
5. Koalas make the weirdest noise that makes them sound like a giant dinosaur.
6. Licking a green ant tastes like a zing of citrus. Their “juice” is filled with vitamins and is a great hangover cure.
7. If you walk far enough into the rainforest you’re bound to find a gorgeous gorge with crystal clear water and awesome cliffs to jump off of. When you do jump off 30ft cliffs, going butt first is not the best idea and may result in some pain and bruising. Speaking from personal experience!
8. Cape Tribulation locals can start a bonfire on the beach in about 1 min. We spent 15 mins unsuccessfully attempting before the boys swallowed their pride, gave up and joined the local bonfire.
9. Beach, guitar, a few bottles of wine, sky filled with stars, a dog and a group of people from around the world make a great night!
10. Adventure beats sleep. 3am bedtime and 6am wake up calls are the norm for a backpacker in Australia.
11. Skydiving is the most incredible thing ever! It seems terrifying but it really isn’t, just breathtaking and completely unbelievable. I think I caught the skydiving bug. Can’t wait to jump next
12. You can never get tired of snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef. You can however get very tired of putting on and taking off the stinger suit- thin super tight full body suit that protects from very active and dangerous jelly fish
13. If you want to fall in love with Scuba Diving, take a dive in the Great Barrier Reef. It gets you hooked. Note to self: must get Scuba Diving certification!
14. Sailing is hard work. Takes about 6 people to get the sails up and another 15 to balance on the high side of the boat while it sails tilted 45 degrees.
15. Sleeping under the stars on a yacht is incredibly cool but deck floor is really hard so bruises and strained necks are unavoidable. Completely worth it though!
16. The sand in the incredible Whiteheaven beach is the whitest sand you’ll ever come across! Despite the serious lack of shade and constant exposure to really hot Australian sun, the sand always stays cool and has the most amazing silky feeling!!
17. Best way to get to go from acquaintances to best friends with a group of 20 ppl – playing “never have I ever” with 5 boxes of goon (cheap Aussie wine) on a yacht in the middle on the ocean.
18. Nemo (aka clown fish) is actually more commonly found in black/white or brown/white colours. Dori is not a very nice and friendly fish at all.
19. Childrens’ jungle-type playgrounds can be fun for adults too.
20. Overnight bussing is much more comfortable and convenient than flying! They even show movies on the bus and sometimes tell you a bit about the areas you’re driving by. Its kind of like being on a tour, only each trip costs a LOT less!
21. When you trek through the rainforest anywhere on Australia’s mainland you are bound to come across a beautiful gorge. When you are on Fraser Island, at the end of an hour hike, you find yourself in the middle of a desert! Sand dunes stretch for kilometers creating the most incredible contrast between the skies and the sand!
22. Fraser Island’s 75 mile beach is an official highway on the island, shared by 4WD vehicles, busses along with turtles, dingoes and fishermen.
23. If you’re a hippy, or ever wanted to be one, Byron Bay is a place for you! If you never wanted to be a hippy and visited Byron, you may just become one. Its a town with character to say the least
24. Dolphins are attracted to bright colours, so taking your best pedal powered kayaks through the ocean in red and yellow kayaks will result in 6 dolphins swimming a meter away from you for hours
25. All you can eat buffets are very dangerous. No matter how full you are, a backpacker’s mind always makes you get another serving. You do not say no to free food!
26. TimTams are in fact as good as the Aussies make them out to be. And I don’t even like chocolate!
27. Surfer’s life: sleep, eat, surf, eat, surf, sleep, eat, drink…repeat.
28. Catching a perfect wave, standing up on the surfboard and riding it all the way to shore makes 3 hours of complete beating by other, not so perfect, waves completely worth it!
29. Best way to wait for Greyhound bus is by stopping by the local pub in the tiny town of Woolgoolga. The staff are so used to backpackers they have a section in the back of the bar designated to storing backpacks so you don’t have to worry about them while having fun on the dance floor.
30. From what I could see during my bus station to airport taxi ride, Newcastle seems like a beautiful city. If you’re visiting Australia, make sure to add it to your itinerary
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