Friday, 16 June 2017

Fraser Island via Rainbow Beach via Noosa via Surfers

You could say that our journey to Fraser Island started when we left Byron Bay. We caught a Greyhound to Noosa, not before going to Surfer's Paradise for a couple hours. It was a shame that we only had a couple hours here but that's just another reason to return to Aus right? From Surfer's we then headed to Noosa, again we only had a night here and that really didn't give us a great deal of time to explore. However, the morning before our Greyhound we did take a very quick wander down to the national park. This national park is famous for having numerous koala bears just chilling in the trees up above, unfortunately, we didn't spot any but it was fun regardless. The next Greyhound would take us to Rainbow Beach (we were both starting to feel as if we lived on the greyhound by this point). Rainbow Beach was nice but so quiet, it almost felt like a ghost town. It could have just been that it was winter so not peak season. We were only in Rainbow Beach for a night as we were being picked up for our Fraser Island the next day.

We would have done a tag along tour however as neither of us was twenty-one nor did I have a driving licence we opted for the Cool Dingo's 4X4 tour. We got picked up from our hostel early morning, hopped aboard the ferry and we were off to Fraser Island. It rightfully so is a heritage listed island so the land is all protected, it did feel quite out of this world. A beautiful place from the moment you arrive.

We started our trip with a visit to Lake McKenzie, I bloody loved Lake McKenzie and you can probably tell this from my Instagram and Facebook because oh boy it took over. The white sandy beaches with the crystal clear water just made for such a dreamy couple hours, if I could back now I would. A quick stop for lunch and we were off to Wanggoola Creek. Here we went on a little trek through the rainforest, going through Pile Valley and Central Station. This was so cool and interesting as it's the only place in the world where the rainforest grows in the sand! Keeping our eyes open for any snakes or spiders or even the rare dingo it really dawned on us how far from home we truly were! After this walk, we hopped back aboard our bright yellow cool dingo bus and Davey, our tour guide, drove us to the beach to watch the sunrise. Now, I feel like I need to express my love for Davey - he was the maddest/hilarious/crazy Australian in the entirety of Australia. Without him guiding us Fraser Island I don't think our trip would have been half as good. We'd worked up quite the appetite by now so headed back to the lodges for dinner and spent the rest of the night drinking with our new friends at The Dingo Bar.

We woke up bright and early ahead of another day exploring the island. We spent the morning driving along 75-mile beach, which is on the east coast of Fraser Island. The beach is actually a national highway as well as a landing strip for planes, so as you drive along planes could be landing there as well - mad ey! Our first stop was The Pinnacles Coloured Sand were we stopped for photographs as and for any fellow travellers who wanted to do the flight over Fraser Island. Moving on we went to Indian Head, where we climbed to the top of the headland. It's the most easterly point of the island and it gives amazing views over the beach. If you're lucky you can see some sharks, manta rays, dolphins and whales in the water below. Following this, we drove further up 75-mile beach to Champagne Pools, which are basically giant rock pools and the waves come over and it just creates like nature's very own jacuzzi. However saying that Champagne Pools are bloody cold! After we had warmed up during a picnic lunch on the beach we drove back down 75-mile beach to the Maheno Wreck. After months of researching travelling it was so incredibly bizarre seeing it in real life. The wreck was blown ashore in a cyclone during 1935 and it's been on the beach ever since! If you've read previous posts about my time in Australia you'll know that time was limited and Fraser Island was no exception as we, unfortunately, had to leave early so that we'd make our overnight Greyhound to Airlie Beach. This did annoyingly mean that we missed out on Eli Creek! We tried to not let this dampen our moods as we were off to Airlie for our Whitsunday's yacht trip!

Overall I loved Fraser Island and couldn't recommend it enough! If your time scale allows it then definitly go for longer than two days as there is so much that this island can offer you.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

36 Hours in Byron Bay

We arrived in Byron Bay at 9 am after our twelve-hour greyhound. We were absolutely shattered and the thought of walking to our hostel wasn't the most attractive thought. So, when we saw a lady holding a sign saying Art Factory Free Shuttle we were beyond happy. We weren't actually allowed to check in until 2 pm so we set up camp on the sofas for a few hours, the atmosphere at Art Factory is incredibly chilled out! Art Factory is actually the hostel that features in the Inbetweeners 2 Movie, it was bizarre being there.

Later that day we managed to pull ourselves together and took a wander down to the beach to watch the sunset. Every sunset there is a drum circle which was really awesome and attracted loads of spectators. We got comfy with rice cakes, drummers in the background and watched the surfers as the sun set. A quick diversion to Woolworths to grab some food for dinner made for a rather wild first night in Bryon...right?

The next day we treated ourselves to a layin and oh boy did it feel good! That afternoon we decided to hike up to the lighthouse and head to the most easterly point. Packed lunch in hand and we were off. We were absolutely spoilt with the weather and views, I couldn't recommend it enough! It was a great thing to do on such a beautiful day. We both felt so at ease with life at that point!

Our time in Bryon Bay was incredibly short but sweet. It has such a cool and relaxed vibe around it that it's practically impossible to be stressed there. We had to leave at 6am the next day to catch our next Greyhound up to Noosa, with a four hour stopover in Surfer's Paradise.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Getting Down and Cultural in Sydney

I won't lie our trip to Sydney started off quite stressfully. We arrived at Phuket airport with good time and actually were an hour early for check in, so good so far! Well, it all went a bit tits up when the lady at the check in desk told us that Floss didn't actually have a visa for Australia and therefore couldn't board the flight to Sydney (via Kuala Lumpur). It turns out the visa I had applied for through what was thought to be a rather dodgy website was actually legitimate whereas the one through STA was not. To this day, neither Floss or I know what we paid for. The next stressful element was the fact that I had a ticket to Sydney and my bag had been to Sydney, but Flo could only get as far as Kuala Lumpur (where we had our stopover). When we landed in KL we were separated as Floss had to leave the airport, quickly apply for an Australian visa and then recheck in her bag. After three hours and many many stressful calls back home we were finally reunited and were both on the same flight to Sydney. All I can is, thank the Lord for the amazing wifi at Kuala Lumpur airport.

After our slightly hellish journey, we were very excited to tough Australian ground. We were staying at Mad Monkey in Kings Cross. It was five-minute walk from the train station so worked out quite well as it meant that we didn't have to carry the dreaded rucksack very far. It was quite basic but just an average hostel. We only had a few days in Sydney so after a quick check in we headed out into the city. I had heard great things about the area called The Rocks so decided that we would make this our starting point.

We marvelled at the Sydney Harbour Bridge, walked the steps up to the Opera House and soaked up the Aussie sun. The atmosphere was so chilled out and just what we needed after our manic travels. By this point it was late afternoon and we were yet to eat so we decided to get some food from the harbour bar, it might have cost us an arm and a leg but they were so worth it! 

Fed and watered we carried on exploring the city and I dragged Floss along to the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. The exhibitions were amazing and its diversity was immense. I loved it incredibly, and it's well worth a visit! They also have a great cafe with views over the harbour plus a waiter that looks just like Tom Hardy - so what's there more to want ey! 

The next day we went to the Gallery of New South Wales. At this gallery, they had an exhibition all about Andy Warhol called Warhol before Pop. It was so so good, and the art boffin within me was incredibly happy. As well as the Warhol exhibition there was a display called #ArtExpress2017, this featured work from students in the NSW area. The work was of such an amazing quality and even Floss mentioned how good it was. After this, we headed to Mrs Macquarie's Point to watch the sunset. This point has great views of the Sydney Habour and it looks magnificent when the sun is setting.

As well as the two galleries we managed to go to the Australian Museum where we got to learn some more about the history of the country.

On our final day in Sydney, we decided to take a visit to The Blue Mountains before our overnight bus to Bryon Bay. I won't lie our visit to The Blue Mountains was a bit of a fail as we ended up taking the wrong train, however, we did make it in the end! We might have only had about two hours to explore but we got to see the bits we wanted, including the three sisters. So really it was worth the six or so hour trek! Once we got back to Sydney it was time for us to go to the bus stop so we could catch the bus to Bryon Bay.