Australia: A Retrospective

For the past three months I’ve been meaning to sit down and write about my experiences in Australia. Those who have seen and spoken to me since, know I just wasn’t able to do it at the time (who knew that wi-fi was so inaccessible in Australia!).

As I’m soon about to go off on another trip, I thought I’d share a few memories and photos of the rest of my time in Australia.

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Coffs Harbour

After Sydney, we travelled up the coast to Coffs Harbour, stopping off at Port Macquarie on the way for a bite to eat. My friend Floyd, as pictured in Sydney Love Part One, is from there so it was nice to see his hometown.

Coffs Harbour was definitely a place I didn’t enjoy staying in! Staying at a surf camp for the night, the rooms were converted shipping containers located just off of the beach, which were okay enough to survive in, but I didn’t appreciate waking up to cockroaches walking over me. In the morning we had a surf lesson where I had a bit of a tantrum. I’m not a fan of water, well, not a fan is an understatement. It’s more of a fear, so doing an extreme sport in water was definitely out of my comfort zone.

Life is about trying new experiences so putting my hesitations aside, I got out there. The water was too choppy for beginners, and my instructor was too busy trying to pull the fit girls to actually teach me anything. It wasn’t surprising that I bruised and cut my knees open after falling off the board and being dragged along the sand. When a wave hit, I kept on being dragged completely submerged underwater, which really made me uncomfortable.

What was the final straw, is when a wave hit, flipped my board up, smacked into my wrist where I bruised and sprained my right hand. Trying my best not to cry, and being relieved that I hadn’t broken my wrist, a friend called another instructor over who helped me up on the board so I could say I stood up at least once.

At the time I said never again, but I probably would! Maybe surfing in Cornwall next time.

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Byron Bay

We headed up to Byron Bay and the weather was terrible! I did not expect it to rain as heavily as it did, for as long as it did. A group of us went for a very wet stroll along a coastal walk, where we saw a lighthouse and also a sign highlighting we were at the most easterly point of Australia mainland. Tired, sore, achey and frankly looking incredibly ugly, I posed for a stupid photo. Check out that breeze!

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Stocking up on a bandage to protect my very sore wrist and some painkillers, Byron Bay was quite a quiet affair for me. I tried going out, but every drunk person falling on me just made me want to cry, so I spent a night in watching a movie in bed eating Tim Tams. Not a bad substitute.

Surfers Paradise

On the way to Surfers Paradise, we stopped off at Currumbin Wildlife park. Where I cuddled a koala and spooned a kangaroo. I’m not one for boring photos, and the kangaroos were so tame, it would’ve been rude not to pose for silly photos.

It was fun wandering around, but you get to the point where the novelty of seeing sleeping koalas wears off.

Next stop, Surfers Paradise, and that’s where lifelong memories were really made.

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First off, we went to the most amazing rock, horror themed cabaret show…

It was rude, fun and just such a laugh. We had stage seats and really felt part of the action. I’m sure the actors feed off the vibe of audience, so a big group of 18-35 year-olds at the front would’ve really got them pumping.

And I went skydiving!

It was the most amazing experience of my life. First off, the tandem guy I was with was such a laugh, and more importantly, knew what he was doing.

Going up to the jump point, I touched a cloud at 5,000 feet (yes it was moist), and had views of the sea and the mountains. I was second to jump out of the plane, which was at 12,000 feet. I didn’t feel nervous at all, just insane excitement. We landed on the beach, and my landing was perfect!

Skydives are all about the view surrounding you. I would love to do it again, but I think I would be a tad nervous next time. You’d think I wouldn’t be!

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Noosa

On the way to Noosa, we stopped off at Brisbane. Really disappointingly, we were only in Brisbane for about three hours! Just about enough time to pose for a photo, visit a few museums, and grab some lunch. I’m in the A-hole. Just saying.

The day after arriving in Noosa, we went to Fraser Island, which was pretty cool. The photo below is a highway, yes it’s a beach! I also got my ankle sucked by a leech while walking through the rainforest. Tasty. It didn’t hurt, but was very tickly.

Cattle Station

After leaving Noosa, we stayed at a cattle station that night. I was really poorly on this night, so I slept through the night’s karaoke fun. I had developed a tooth infection, and my body completely crashed (I later had to buy some antibiotics 😦 ). However, I did wake up at sunrise and took a very pretty picture. When we were leaving, I saw a dingo and some wild kangaroos.

Whitsundays

The Whitsunday Islands were stunning. It’s famous and it’s clear to see why.

Our resort was on Daydream Island, with a beautiful sea view from the balcony room. Bats flew around the palm trees in the evening, whilst the sun set. I felt very chilled and calm.

And then we went to Whitehaven Beach on a day tour, voted the best beach in the world. It was rather enjoyable, frolicking around in the sun. BUT the sand was so squeaky!!! Imagine a little mouse making a noise with every step, well that’s what it sounded like. To say I’ve ran along the best beach in the world, is just another, **** yes moment I’ve added to the list of lifelong memories.

Even at night, the sky was something else. I took this photo walking back along the coastal path from the restaurant to the hotel. It was so stunning, and silent. Just beautiful.

And I got bitten by a stingray! Only me! *cries with laughter* I went to a feeding session, where I placed a squid in my hand and the stingray is supposed to glide over the flat of my palm to eat. Instead of the squid, my fingers went into its rather large mouth. It hurt initially, and I’ve got a tiny little scar on my finger, which I am oddly proud of.

Cairns

Cairns is where I celebrated my 29th birthday, on the Great Barrier Reef!

I had to start the day with something slightly amusing… a smiley face breakfast!

And then I posed on the sea.

I was serenaded on the way home by the Contiki boyband!

And then we hit the clubs. So much love.

Alice Springs

Fourteen of us from the existing 50-odd flew from Cairns to Alice Springs, where we were going to meet a new group of Contiki travellers!

Our first stop after meeting the new gang, was a reptile centre where we were taught the “do’s and dont’s” of outback wildlife. We held a few lizards, as well as a python!

The keeper put the python around my neck and had to walk out of the room to talk to someone; as it wrapped itself around my neck I tried my best not to get too tense. Of course it was fine – the python was well trained.

Meeting Australia’s indigenous people

The lady in this photo with me is Peggy White, an aboriginal artist sharing stories of her “dreamtime”; a family story passed down through the generations. Each dreamtime is different. I’m posing with the artwork I bought. It’s quite child-ish in its pastel colours, but I felt it was important to buy something as special as this, and supporting the communities.

Kings Creek Station

I am not an outdoorsy person, so the idea of open air camping did not appeal to me in the slightest. It was an overcast day too, so I wasn’t even able to get any sunbathing in. We couldn’t have any food out either because of dingoes, and I didn’t want to lose my backpack over a bag of crisps. Apparently they snuck around us during the night, but that could well me tales from the other travellers.

What was worse, it rained during the night! Aussie swags and sleeping bags were soaked through, and I felt drained by the morning. It was an experience, and of course a story I won’t forget, but I’d rather it didn’t rain.

Something that must be pretty dull for drivers in Northern Territory are the long, straight roads. Boring as hell no doubt, but great when you want a photo! Sometimes it took hours until we saw another car on the road.

Our next stop after the fail that was our night of camping, was Uluru and Kata Tjuṯa National Park. It’s massive, and full of flies! The $7 I spent on this fly net covers one’s face, and it was worth it. No inhaling flies. It was also at our Uluru resort that I saw a spider that was bigger than my palm! Crazy.

The sunrise view of Uluru was spectacular. Some minor adjusting on Instagram, really brought out the colours of the sky. Magical.

The helicopter ride I had in the afternoon was very special too! Earlier on that day, I hiked around the entire base summit of this. It took maybe 2 and a half hours :-/

As was the sunset. I was totally Uluru’ed out.

Alice Springs, Take 2

Back in Alice Springs, I booked myself on to a sunrise hot air balloon trip. Having not been on a hot air balloon before (the Bournemouth Eye doesn’t count), the views were incredible. Admittedly after about 20 minutes the novelty wore off but it was still exciting nonetheless. Upon landing we had a champagne breakfast and got totally trashed. I think I had a bottle to myself!

And being the drunken party goers we were, we climbed on the “Welcome to Alice Springs sign”… bearing in mind this was only 8:30am, at the latest! I love this photo, I really do.

Tennant Creek

We made our way further north, through Northern Territory. We stayed at one place where it looked like a murderous motel. With cockroaches coming up through the drains, we had to cover the sink and keep the toilet lid shut. Tennant Creek is such a horror movie old town sort of name too. Surprisingly I don’t have any photos.

Kakadu National Park

My last expensive splurge was a trip on a scenic flight over Kakadu National Park. The contrasting scenery was breathtakingly stunning, to say the least. I was lucky that I got a seat at the front with the pilot, where I was able to see so much. I hadn’t been on such a small plane before either.

The hotel rooms were a bit special too. The doors became absolutely covered in bugs after sunset. By covered, I mean every square inch of the door was littered. Spraying the doors with insect repellent helped, a bit, but whenever we opened the door, tens of bugs flew in. I found a cricket about 4 inches long in my bed, and also showered with a frog. It sounds a bit gross, but they are only bugs, and my fear of spiders is pretty non-existent now.

The next day we explored Kakadu by foot.

But I should’ve stuck to the plane…

I fell over on a flat bit of pavement, and sprained my ankle. It ballooned. And bruised pretty badly. I had a few near misses a few times that past week, where my ankle was giving way so I wasn’t surprised when I actually did sprain it. Not gonna lie, when everyone was splashing around and having fun in the pool, I was sat in the shade trying not to cry from the throbbing pain. I felt horrendous and it put a real dampener onto the trip. At this point I couldn’t wait to get home, but up until that point, I never wanted it to end.

I ended my Aussie trip by flying to Perth to see one of my besties, Teagan. She lives a few hours south of Perth, in a town called Bunbury. Due to the sprained ankle, our day trips were limited. But that didn’t stop me having this epic milkshake. Massive sugar coma ensued.

The End 🙂

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