East Coast Backpacking Trip!

Sydney

After somewhat spontaneously planning the trip 2 days earlier Friday January 24th comes around and we pack out bags and head out on our first adventure! Kind of lacked space so I brought my big backpack (borrowed from Larkin), Dayna took my other backpack because it is quite big and I took her small one. With a mismatch of things (we packed super light) we left Canada house not quite sure what was ahead! We eventually found ourselves at the bus station and we boarded our first overnight bus for 18 hours all the way to Sydney. We survived… barely. The bus driver was a maniac and after talking forever (i swear he went on about the toilets for 10 minutes) it was literally 4am and we were going 200km/hr down these super windy roads in the middle of nowhere – it was terrifying. Did not get much sleep that night. We eventually arrived at Sydney Central Station completely zonked but with lots to do. First thing we do is search for wifi (as we did everywhere we went) and we took a train to Bondi Junction to meet Sam and get all our trip info! Classic us, we get lost, ask some people who are no help and eventually wandered in the right direction and found Peterpans! Next stop is to get to the hostel. So we jump on another train and head to Kings Cross (note: never stay here). Again classic Allison and Dayna we get off the train and walk approx. 30 min in the wrong direction. After asking a few people for directions, one very kind lady named Fiona offers to drive us there. Might sound sketchy but if you saw her and the state were in it wasn’t sketchy at all, she was an absolute gem. So we get to the hostel… Jolly Swagman’s – name speaks for itself, the place was so sketchy. Thankfully we ended up being upgraded from an 8 person dorm to a double room. We dithed our stuff here and quickly hit the road again to head to Bondi to meet with Sam! We go to her apartment which is literally on Bondi Beach. We then head to their other friends place, a house of all Canadians who went to Queens. Weirdest thing of my life happened here. I walk in and everyones introducing everyone and I’m like this girl looks so familiar. And she introduces herself as Melissa. Thank god for the liquid courage because I then went Bryant?! And so yes, ran into someone from home in Australia! Super weird, such a small world. We then all went out to Kings Cross Hotel – a bar with like 6 different floors and somehow did not get lost getting back to the hostel that night!

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Western love in Sydney!

Day 2 in Sydney – Australia Day!

We wake up someone early despite being out pretty late and having slept on a bus the night before. Obviously I’m gross and greasy but don’t shower because the hostel was dirtier and greasier. So then we head over to Bondi Beach again, snapped a few pics, then began the days festivities – all after we first purchased Australian flags for the day. The day basically reminded me of homecoming in the sense. We later headed to a party which was literally on the ocean! The view itself was incredible.  I couldn’t believe it. As per usual I was cheap and decided it would be a smart decision to try and walk home. I got myself half way to Bondi Junction and decided to take the $20 cab to the hostel.

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Australia Day at Bondi! … this was where the party was

January 27

Naturally we wake up feeling pretty gross but have to check out so we drag ourselves out of bed. We head back to Bondi to retrieve the bag we left (idiots) and then we bus to Sydney harbor. Meanwhile we’re practically dying the whole day and we have all of our bags with us, we still tried to see the sights. We see the bridge, and the Opera House, sat on the grass for a bit then to starbs to grab a drink and charge our phones while we waited to catch another overnight bus.

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Classic Syd pic

Sydney overall was not that impressive. Maybe its because we weren’t in the best of moods when we saw it but it was pretty overrated and the people were less friendly. Overall it was just another city, not nearly as nice as Melbourne. So ready to move onto Byron and enjoy some beautiful beaches!

Byron Bay

After another overnight bus, 14 hours this time, we arrived in Byron! Stayed at Backpackers Inn which was a great hostel! Literally a 2 min walk to the beach. After a quick swim in the ocean and a much needed shower we headed into the cute little town. Byron Bay is actually full of Canadians, we ran into them everywhere! After lying on the beach, eating some dinner (first time cooking in a hostel) and some necessary gelato we decided we would go out this night! We met some lovely people and went to Cheeky Monkey for the night! Instead of a dance floor they had picnic tables you were supposed to stand on to dance. I’m actually surprised I didn’t hurt myself from falling off one of them, many many many close calls.

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So much love for Byron and Gelato

Day 2 in Byron.

Nice walk to the nice part of the beach, which was absolutely amazing. First time really felling like I am in Australia! The water was full of surfers and the water was beautiful. We didn’t last there long because it soon started to rain so we walked back to the town and looked around in the shops. I had just finished my book and needed a new one to be able to get me through the long bus rides ahead. Thought it might be a good idea to buy the Lauren Conrad book LA Candy – stupidest book I have ever read. Kept me amused at least. Obviously we got some more gelato then early to bed! Byron is definitely a place I would move to and work for a while.

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Surfers Paradise

Jump on a short bus ride up to the Gold Coast! But what looked like to be a one hour bus ride turned out to be a 2 hour bus ride with the clocks turning back one hour which we didn’t realize until we had been on the bus for what we thought was too long. Get to our hostel called Budds in Surfers, ditched our bags and headed to town! Lots of shopping here and I managed to get $4 sunglasses! Eventually made our way back to the hostel to check in. Turns out the hostel screwed up and had to put me and Dayna in 2 different rooms. We were not pleased. Eventually it all worked out because a guy in Daynas room was leaving early so I took his spot. We had a little roomie night out and we all headed with the hostel to Melba’s. Lot’s of fun! Headed to another bar after called Sin City (….) but shortly left and obviously picked up myself a bag of salt and vinegar chips on the way home.

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Noosa

Friday January 31 –> Aka day of busing

Bus to Brisbane (~2 hours) and walk around for some food. Finally find a food court thing and get these great looking burrito’s. After a few hours we had to hop back on a bus for a 3 hour bus to Noosa. Stayed in Noosa at the Halse Lodge, which was probably the nicest hostel of the trip! It was sorta weird though, the hostel had a lot of familys staying there with kids. After getting some grocerys and eating a classic bagged caeser salad for dinner we headed to the beach area to look around. Turns out Noosa is actually very high end! So weird and unexpected but the beachfront is full of big resorts and the shops are very expensive. Reminded me a lot of Muskoka in this way. Headed to bed fairly early (and I mean like 9pm kinda early)

First day in Noosa was a blast! Headed to the National Park and went on a nice (although short because we were scared of unexpected animals) hike through the rainforest. Noosa was absolutely beautiful. Was able to also do some shopping and made my first Australian purchase and bought my first ever romper! Spent the rest of the day on the beach where there was also a open water swimming race going on. Had a nice chill night at the hostel and again early to bed!

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Beautiful Noosa!

Noosa National Park

Noosa National Park

Day 2 in Noosa was wayyyyyy too hot to handle. Pasty Canadian I am, I’m not that biggest fan of the heat especially humidity. So this day basically consisted of being lame and boring, getting nasty popsicles (rainbow is not a good flavour), and sitting at the hostel using the stolen wifi. Eventually made our way to the bus station to bus to Rainbow Beach and depart on our Fraser trip the following day!

Fraser Island

Most amazing experience ever. Met the crew, the 8 people we shared a car with for the 3 days we were on the island! It was a car of Canadians, Germans and Swedes. Eventually hit the road and made out way to the island, which we took a barge to get to. Honestly no words explain how incredible this trip was. Literally driving the entire time on the sand across this island was the best experience. First stop on the island was Lake Mackenzie, which is a perched lake so they call it that is basically just filled with rain water. The sand here was phenomenal, so pure they say you can wash your hair and brush your teeth with it. The drive through the rainforest was also incredible. Just the sounds and smells are out of this world. The best was while we were going through all of a sudden we were hit with this powerful delicious smell when I realized it was eucalyptus trees! Eventually made our way to the camp. The questionable things we did on this trip were endless. Got dishes to make dinner with. There was no dish soap and everything was covered in sand. So just made dinner after rinsing them. YOLO right? Dinner was a decent stir fry with a side of goon. Goon is amazingly cheap ($12 for 4L) boxed wine that people say tastes awful but I don’t find it that bad! Fruity Lexia is the best and tastes like fruit juice in my opinion. Slept in the pouring rain, in the smallest tent that was leaking all night. Thankfully the goon made it not so bad although I woke up at 5am and couldn’t sleep any longer.

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Lake Mackenzie

Lake Mackenzie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 on Fraser began pretty rough (thank you goon and nasty tents) but eggs for breakfast made things a little bit better. Headed out in our cars to the Maheno Shipwreck then to Eli Creek (aka Hungover creek) which was unreal. It was practically a lazy river through the rainforest with super refreshing water. Pretty sure we went through it a good 4 times. For the afternoon we drove further north on the island up to Champagne Pools. This is one of the only places on the island you can safely swim in the ocean! Dove right in there and truely enjoyed being cooled off after sitting in a car so much. We then hiked up to Indian Head, which was a crazy lookout point. Pictures seriously don’t do any of this justice. The view was absolutely incredible I actually couldn’t believe my eyes. Eventually headed back to camp for the night. Dinner was nasty- steak and potatoes. Had to use my ‘Canadian skills’ and make a fire because apparently no one else knows how to make a fire? Was being made fun of at one point so made a joke about making fire beside my igloo after riding on my moose all day…

Camp at Fraser

Camp at Fraser

Fraser fam

Fraser fam

Eli Creek

Eli Creek

Champagne Pools

Champagne Pools

Indian Head lookout

Indian Head lookout

Day 3 on Fraser was pretty rough. Second sleep in that tent was worse that the first. Woke up and realized we basically had no food left for the day, great. Excursion of the day was Lake Wabby. 2.5 km hike in was the most brutal thing I have ever endured. We were told the walk was all sand so no need to wear shoes right? WRONG. Yes it was a sandy walk, but the sand was full of sticks and other crap that was super painful on the feet. After getting a few major cuts on the bottom of my feet we finally made it to the Lake. This lake was basically formed from the giant sand dunes that surrounded it on one side, with the rainforest on the other. Was so hot out I had to go for a swim. In this lake were those little fish they use at spas that eat the dead skin off your feet. The walk back to the cars was even worse than the walk there. By this time the sun had been heating up the sand and it was absolutely scorching! Me and Dayna were literally running from shady spot to shady spot, but the walk basically ended with both of our feet being burnt to a crisp, or so it felt. Finally made it back to the car and I finally asked our guid, Joel to teach me to drive standard! After a 2min lesson he trusted me to drive for a bit (probably a bad idea but he didn’t know that). The poor people in my car must have been terrified. Here’s me, having never driven standard before, in a car where everything is on the wrong side of the car, on the beach, attempting to drive. Surprisingly I was actually able to keep up (aside from one bad stall on the beach) and made it safely down the beach until we switched drivers (not sure if this was a hint or not…). Successfully made it back to our hostel Dingo’s for the night. Got to listen to some live music from our Fraser leader and talked to so many Canadians and met 3 who all went to Western! Such a small world.

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Lake Wabbe

Lake Wabbe

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Driving standard!

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Overall Fraser experience was excellent. Only weird part was this Dutch girl who started to try and talk to us saying that Canada was not a nationality…. That was weird.

After Fraser we had a full day in Rainbow Beach before our next bus ride. This day was pretty lame until we decided to make some amazing pancakes for diner. So Canadian of us but was actually amazing.

 Airlie Beach

Bus to Airlie Beach was the easiest one yet. Me and Dayna snagged our own seats and there was so much room to sleep! Arrived around 9am and ditched the bags at Nomads. Walked around town and got the most amazing breakfast at this restaurant on the water. Spent the day walking around Airlie then early to bed! As I said so many Canadians… In our room in the hostel there was 3 guys from Calgary, we’re everywhere! Made so much pasta for dinner since it was super cheap and we were looking to have leftovers. Very quickly got super tired of pasta haha.

Ocean Rafting

Weather was not looking too great for this day and we were super scared it might be cancelled! Woke up in the morning and it was nice and sunny, yayyy! Got in the boat and the weather quickly turned pretty sour and ended up being pretty rainy and gross all day long. Added character to the trip? It stopped raining for a bit and we got to do a snorkel. The sights underwater are indescribable. Hiked up to Hill Inlet lookout to look at the whitsundays. It was pouring rain so that was wonderful… Snapped a few pics looking like drowned rats then hiked back down. Got to the beach and had a fantastic lunch. The rain wasn’t letting up so we left early to go back to the mainland. Craziest experience of my life. The waves were out of this world. Even the tour guides were saying how wicked it was out. Obviously me and Dayna made the intelligent decision to sit at the front of the boat and were literally being thrown out of our seats the entire time. Eventually safely made it home and after nice hot showers we went out for dinner with Carleigh and Haley who got to Airlie that morning! Had the best veggie pizza that had pineapple on it! In trying to be spontaneous and live in the moment we ventured out in Airlie. Eventually went to this place called Mama Africa’s where we had a voucher for free entry and free drinks. Were able to use the free drink twice because the guy never took the voucher! #winning.

Drowned rats at the whitsunday

Drowned rats at the whitsunday’s

Craziest boat ride

Craziest boat ride

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cairns

This day of busing was the worst day of the entire trip. On the bus for 10 hours throughout the day. Roads were flooded so there was even fears we weren’t going to make it and would have to turn around. I truly do not know what we would have done had this been the case. Thanfully we made it all the way although I think I lost my sanity in the first hour. The bus was scorching hot, I actually don’t think I could have handled another minute of it.

Made it to our hostel, Gilligans. Throughout the trip we had heard crazy things about this hostel. It has its own club attached to it and I have to say I was pretty nervous about staying there! From the lobby the place seemed fairly newly renovated and high end! All a lie though because our room was gross. There was this aussie guy who had been living in there for a month and he was gross, the room smelled absolutely awful. Thankfully he left the next day, although the smell didn’t go with him. We went to bed early because we had our day on the reef the next day. At 1am the gross guy came into the room searching for his phone which we noticed he had left on the counter before we went to bed. He comes in and created such a scene over not being able to find his phone. He was literally questioning all of us almost accusing us of taking it or letting someone in the room who then took it. 10mins after going back and forth over this he finally finds his phone… literally exactly where we had saw it.

 Passions of Paradise

Another absolutely amazing day. Day on the great barrier reef. Left the hostel in our rain coats and expected it to rain the entire day. Not even 30min out on the boat when it cleared up and became a beautiful day! To make things even better the boat had wifi the entire time. Who knew! The wifi in my house in Newport wont even reach my bedroom but in the middle of the ocean at the great barrier reef there was perfect connection. Gotta love being spontaneous. Was not planning on doing a dive and had initially taken it out of the trip to save some money. Obviously I get on the boat and am quickly convinced to do a dive. Thank you Larkin for the Christmas gift! Best decision I have made in a long time though. Officially hooked on scuba diving. Had my little panic right before we actually dove down when I was only about one foot under the water but I quickly overcame it and was perfectly fine the entire time! Did not bring my camera with me because it was slowly breaking but saw some sea turtles! They were incredible. There is something to be said about being deep under the water and being able to look up to the surface. Also it is such a different experience being total immersed in the reef vs. being on top of it as you are when you snorkel. Was also able to snorkel the rest of the day at two different locations. The reef was incredible, definitely a must do when in Australia. The boat sailed home and we were able to get a little sun. That night we ended up going to the Gilligans bar for a little while and had some fun.

The Reef

The Reef

First dive complete!

First dive complete!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snorkel superstars

Snorkel superstars

 

 

 

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Uncle Brian’s 

AKA weirdest day of my life. We went on this rainforest tour called Uncle Brian’s. I had heard good things about this tour so was pretty excited! Nope it was just weird and totally not my scene. Was a bus full of about 20 people with this crazy weird chick as our guide. All we wanted to do on the bus was sleep but we were forced to play weird games and they continually had singalongs all day long. Definitely not my scene. Was able to see lots of the rainforest, though it was raining the entire day as well. Went to Babinda Creek, Josephine Falls where the water was too high for us to go rock sliding, Millaa Millaa falls where we got the classic pic of us flipping our hair but since my camera broke the other girls took our pictures that we have yet to get from them…, also went to Lake Eacham and Crater Lake. The only thing that made the day was the lunch we had. It was at this random restaurant in the middle of the rainforest and was included with the tour. Amazing chicken and homemade bread and brownies for dessert yum!

Babinda Creek

Babinda Creek

Millaa Millaa Falls

Millaa Millaa Falls

Lets just say we were pretty happy when the day was finally over and we were back at Gilligans. Definitely needed a drink (or 20) after this day.

Other weird things that happened this day…

–       The bus had a name… its name was Gus. The tour guide crazy lady literally talked to the bus and about the bus the entire day. We would go around roundabouts a million times because Gus liked roundabout. At one point the bus was ‘crying’… she had the windshield wipers going with the wiper fluid. I actually couldn’t handle it.

–       So on the bus, all of a sudden the guide starts talking about these two girls on the bus being musical stars and they won this trip by winning nationals or something for TAMBOURINE. Um what? So she turns on Brown Eyed Girl and they play the tambourine. It was so weird. They weren’t even that good it just sounded like they were shaking the thing.

And the trip is officially over! Amazing experience, you learn so much so quickly. The trip started off with us getting completely lost too many times to us being able to get to the next stop and quickly find the hostel, get to the bank, a grocery store and steal some wifi. Was so quick but that’s why it was so great. As soon as we got familiar with one place we were on our way to the next. Totalled to 65 hours of busing which was probably the worst part of the trip but I survived it! Even went with the cheaper company and gave up having wifi on the greyhound. Premier4lyfe, except it wasn’t actually thatttt bad. In the end a bus is a bus. Can’t say I could’ve been happier with flying home though, especially since we were upgraded to the emergency exit seats with the extra leg room. Over the course of the trip I managed to crack my Iphone screen in Byron, broke my camera in Cairns and lost numerous articles of clothing along the way. So other that all of that I would definitely call this trip a success! So happy I did all of this when I did and now finally ready to start school!

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Could not love life more

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First Arriving

Left home on Wednesday January 15th to head to the Airport to catch 1:30am flight on the 16th. Met up with Dayna, Carleigh and Haley at the airport! Got the cutest gift from Emily and the family of a build a bear with an adorable voice recorded message from them all. Endured a painful 15 our flight to Hong Kong, where I took a sleeping pill and was actually able to sleep most of the way! So weird when its 3am and the airline comes around and tries to feed everyone dinner. Nasty dinner might I add, all the food was absolutely disgusting. Best part of the entire flying experience was the Haagen Dazs we were given! Hung out in Hong Kong airport for a little while, but wasn’t too exciting. Boarded the 9 hour flight to Melbourne! This flight was painful. Legs were getting swollen, couldn’t and didn’t really want to fall asleep and kept getting a bit of a bloody nose. Finally we arrived in Melbourne. Arrived in Melbounre at 10:30pm on January 17 (basically time travelled) and experienced the nicest lady ever at customs! She told me I was going to love Australia and that Australians and Canadians have very similar sense of humours. Such a change from American and Canadian customs! Unfortunate part of the journey was the amount of trail mix I had to throw out. Before leaving I made an amazing mix and accidentaly brought both the bag I planned to bring and the one I was leaving for the fam. Because of Australias quarantine laws I had to throw it all out upon arriving in the country. Obviously the worst part would be the food I had to throw out…

Airport shuttle provided by the University was super easy to find and took up right to Canada House in Newport. Canada House is a house owned by Richard Baka of Victoria University that is used by the Western exchange students every year. Its pretty neat how inside there are pictures of all the past groups of western students as well as a Canadian flag everyone has signed. I ended up getting a pretty decent bedroom so no complaints there! Air conditioning is broken but thankfully we came the day after the huge heat wave they had and the fans are able to do a pretty decent job.

Week 1 in Melbourne

Day 1: So for the first day Richard came and picked us up from Canada house. After going through house info he took us for a driving tour around the Newport/Williamstown area. This was a neat way to hear all about where we are living and where everything is located (although none of us could remember any of the directions after and ended up getting lost far to many times). It also felt like a pretty crazy car ride because it was on the left side of the street and there are roundabouts literally every turn. Eventually ended up at a grocery store, which was so overwhelming. They don’t have a lot of things in their grocery stores like we do and the prices are much higher on many things. For example bananas are like $4 or more a kg. No baby carrots, eggs are not refrigerated, only instant coffee or espresso, no powdered or frozen juice (made a foul out of ourselves asking that one) and peppers are called capsicums.

Canada House

Canada House

The rest of week 1 we kind of just spent the time exploring Melbourne. Spent lots of time walking around the city (which is super neat by the way), spent a day trying to get to Williamstown which is like a 20 min walk that took us over an hour because we went the wrong way (woops).

Australian Open:

Coming to Melbourne at the time that we did we all knew the Aussie Open was definitely a thing we had to go to! So we checked the weather and bought tickets for a day it was going to be nice out! Just bought a ground pass which was like $30 and didn’t get us acess to the big arenas but oh well! Throughout the first week we often found ourselves at Federation Square where they broadcasted the Aus Open on the big TV. The square was full of people just watching the matches and tons of promotors were around. Tennis is quite a big event here! Going to the open we all knew we wanted to buy hats. But not just any hat, we all wanted the blue one we saw people wearing all over town. When we first arrived at the grounds we went on a mission to find the hats. After going to several shops that were all sold out we had almost lost hope but one last shop and we found a couple left! Success. The grounds for the grand slam tournament were really neat and there was tons to do. We watched a few matches, watched Rafa Nadal practice and kinda just hung out! The Canadian Eugenie Bouchard was playing this day but we were unable to get into the big stadium she was in.

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So now its Wednesday, its been a week since we left home and me and Dayna were itching to go and see the real Australia we envisioned. Being in Melbourne is fantastic and I cannot wait to spend the semester living here but I really wanted to see the Australia I envisioned and the beaches etc you see photographed everywhere. So after contacting Sam Clarke, a fellow Western student who did the same exchange as us and now lives in Sydney as a travel agent we had our east coast trip booked! (wasn’t as easy as that because our budget was so strict it took us hours to cut it down to a reasonable price where we could still do everything we wanted). After getting approval (and borrowing the credit card since my limit is so small) of my parents we were set and planned to leave 2 days later just in time for Australia day!

BTW the coffee here is amazing. Actually in heaven with the cappuccinos, lattes, flat whites and long blacks (americanos) they have to offer – although super expensive