The To Do List

After realizing that I’ve been here for almost 4 months now and that I only have 2 left I decided I should write what I have done and the things I have left to do while on exchange

The ‘Already Completed’ List:

  • East Coast of Australia (Sydney, Byron Bay, Noosa, Surfers Paradise, Rainbow Beach and Fraser Island, Airlie Beach and the Whitsundaes, Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef)
  • Snorkel
  • Scuba dive
  • Saw a wild koala
  • Melbourne Zoo
  • Great Ocean Road
  • Got a part time job
  • Saw wild kangaroos
  • Camped on Mt Alexander for a week and got familiar with Dug
  • Went surfing
  • Gone broke
  • Stared at the stars
  • Watched the sunrise
  • St. Kilda
  • Brighton Beach

The ‘To Do’ List:

  • Phillip Island
  • Hang out with a kangaroo (aka feed and pet it)
  • Hold a koala
  • Eureka sky deck
  • Melbourne Botanical Gardens
  • Eat kangaroo
  • Watch the sunset on the beach
  • Winery
  • THAILANDNJUNE (hopefully)
  • Go surfing in Torquay
  • Rent a car and drive down the great ocean road

The ‘I would love to do but am too broke slash running out of time’ List

  • Outback – Alice Springs and Uluru and then up to Darwin
  • Western Australia (Perth)
  • Tasmania
  • Adelaide
  • Kangaroo Island
  • New Zealand

I would obviously love to make that to do list longer and I am sure I easily could but I am attempting to be as realistic as possible considering I truly am running out of time and I am nearing broke (key word: near). But YOIAO (You’re Only in Australia Once!) – which hopefully isn’t true and that I do return one day 🙂

 

Only in Australia

Aussie Slang

I find it hilarious being here and listening to people talk. As is everything in Australia the way they talk is super laid back (as in they literally leave out words and shorten everything). Here are a few slang words and just general language I have noticed

  • Reckon = think e.g. I reckon I’ll go to the beach today
  • How ya goin’ = how are you
  • No drama = no worries/you’re welcome
  • You’re right = in response to sorry
  • Root = sex
  • Keen
  • Arvo = afternoon
  • Cunt is said commonly
  • Pissed or blind = drunk
  • Goon = cheap wine in a box
  • Mate = friend
  • Bogan = hick
  • Chemist = pharmacy
  • Macca’s = McDonalds
  • Ta = Thank you
  • Capsicum = pepper
  • Bloke =  a man
  • Rubbish = garbage
  • Toilet = bathroom/washroom
  • Cheeky pash = make out …. apparently (not sure about this one actually being a thing)

And there is obviously tons more that I can’t think of or I just don’t even notice anymore.

Differences

As I’ve been here for a few months now I am realizing that there are crazy differences that I don’t even notice anymore! Here is a list of all the different/weird things I have noticed in Australia

  • Pretty obvious but they drive on the wrong (right) side of the road. Obvious yes but easy? not at all. Crossing the road is literally a mission every time, especially when J walking – I literally look both ways 5 times before I cross because i am now just so confused which way I should be looking
  • They don’t refrigerate their eggs always. Sometimes they’ll be in the fridge in the grocery store, but other times there are in the most random aisles just sitting on the shelf. Also they do not have any white eggs here they are all brown.
  • The mail delivery guy drives a mo-ped to deliver all the mail
  • All the cars are small cars. It is so rare to see a truck, SUV or a van! On the off chance you’ll see these mini trucks that are called ute’s
  • The main thing they sell at footy games and such is meat pies (not your regular pizza and hot dogs) – I have yet to try one, apparently I’m missing out. They also eat these meat pies in their hands and bite it like a burger which I find super weird.
  • Every single outlet has a switch to turn it on and off
  • Most restaurants, coffee shops and clothing stores are privately owned shops! Except for fast food I don’t think I’ve seen any real chain restaurants
  • No orange cheese here!
  • You don’t have to tip! And tax is already included in every price so the price you see is the price you pay!
  • Granola bars are called muesli bars
  • No crystaled or frozen juice
  • The garbage truck has a giant arm that comes out the side that bigs up your bin and flips the garbage into the back. Also did I mention garbage is rubbish here so sorry its the rubbish truck
  • Styles are definitely different. It seems to generally be fancier when out at bars, and a lot of places have strict dress codes. Apparently fuzzy sweaters are in as well as platform shoes
  • Cover at bars/clubs can be ridiculous! $20 to get in and drinks can be minimum like $10
  • It can be really hard for guys to get into bars – they apparently need to usually be wearing a collared shirt and with a lot of girls to get in
  • To get Starbucks wifi you need to buy a drink then get a code that only lasts 30min
  • You can’t just get coffee – its either cappuccino, latte, flat white, or long black (americano). Also chai lattes here are not nearly as good. And coffee is pretty expensive – I think the cheapest I’ve gotten is $3.50 although 7/11 sells it out of an automated machine for $1
  • For school, a course here is called a unit and the course is basically the program you are in – e.g. my course would be kinesiology and a unit would be anatomy
  • Profs also all give out their cell phone number and will use facebook and texting as modes of communication
  • Hate to say it but people are generally more friendly and more willing to go out of their way to help you out
  • Being from Canada people generally think you are American, just a fact you have to live with but obviously you always correct them. I’ve gotten some other weird nationalities though such as Swedish, English, Slovakian etc. Also apparently all of Canada is in Australia at the moment.
  • Fathers day is apparently in September not June!  – Learned this when trying to find a card to mail home but being unable to find anything followed by an awkward conversation with someone working at a store

I’m sure there are many more differences that I am either super used to by now or just can’t remember at the moment. So weird, after being here for 4 months it all feels normal! Definitely going to be weird going back home.

Adventure Race!

This week I participated in VU’s Adventure Race with my Adventure Programming class!

School here is so different. Im taking a university course called adventure programming, the class has 13 people in it and we just went on a 6 day camping trip where we participated in our own adventure race. Whaaaaa

Going into this trip I seriously was regretting not dropping the course when I had the chance. The trip cost $300 and being as broke as I am I felt as though my money could go towards other uses. But nope I was stuck so I sucked it up, paid the fee, packed my bag and prepared myself (mentally and physically) for a week of what I thought would be hell in the bush – I was very overdramatic

Day 1:

Good Friday! – yes this trip was over Easter weekend which is also the mid-semester break aka reading week here. We set off early in the morning for Mt Baw Baw where we would be spending our week. In partners we had to prepare ABL (Adventure Based Learning) lesson plans, hand them in and present our lesson to the class. I went first, having no idea what I was doing but hopefully managed to pull it off. It was literally torrential downpour at this point and I was seriously scared for the week ahead. We were warned that it might snow! After realizing the area we wanted to camp in was very busy due to the long weekend we eventually found somewhere to camp for the night. The adventure race began and we received our first envelope with plans for the next day.

Day 2:

Woke up, and packed out bags so we were ready to spend 3 days bushwalking. Yayyy. We completed an initiative activity (traffic jam) and then set off on the days bushwalk. We hiked up to mushroom rocks and from there went off track in an attempt to navigate ourselves to a unmarked hut in the middle of the forest. Thankfully we had some experienced navigators in our group who took the lead. We hiked off track in the thickest bush possible and I swear I thought I was never going to get out. After crossing a creek we found the hut! This was super exciting becuase we were only the second group in all time history to actually find it! From here we navigated ourselves through some even thicker bush (didnt think that was possible) to get to Alpine Meadows; which proved to be a beautiful spot to camp for the night.

Day 3:

We got up right at the crack of dawn to pack up our bags, eat some quick breakfast and start the hike of the day. We had to head back the way we came and get back to Mushroom Rocks. So we headed back through the thick bush which seemed to be even thicker again! We took the most terrifying route and I thought I was going to slip and fall so many times but the view was spectacular! No thanks to my broken camera I have no way of documenting any of this :(. We eventually made it back to Mushroom Rocks where me being the monkey I am decided to climb up some of the rocks which was sweet! We completed another initiative activity “Toxic Waste” and kept on hiking. Thankfully we were back on the trail (The Australian Alps Walking Track). This hike was much longer than the day before and after making it to the road and walking down it for a bit we met back up with the track and heading downhill which seemed like for forever! I swear it was probably 4km of pure steep downhill with crazy heavy packs on our backs. There were times in this walk where I definitely did not think I would make it or at least that my back would and the entire time I just kept thinking of what my mother would say about how bad that was for my back and how awful my posture was. But we eventually made it to camp, where the other group was as well and we ad a lovely evening around a campfire and it was a clear night so we got to see some stars! I can now identify the southern cross star constellation.

Day 4:

This day was supposed to be spent mountain biking but (thankfully – I was so tired) the mountain biking was removed as it did not pass the safety check so we moved onto plan B for the day. This involved us going to the old mining town of Walhalla for the day. Some more people presented their ABL lesson plans and then in the afternoon we did an ‘Amazing Race’ style scavenger hunt around the town trying to answer all these questions in our individual teams. Our team won! And I discovered some of the weirdest facts about this weird town. There is only 22 permanent residents, they just recently got electricity, Charles Speets was Swedish, the general store is at the site of the old Bank and so many more absolutely useless random facts.

Day 5: RAFTING!!!

Wooo today was rafting day! I was pretty nervous as everyone was wearing wetsuits but of course I don;t have one here so I was wearing 2 pairs of thermals, over pants, and a fleece and praying that I wouldn’t flip or at least if I did that I would be warm enough! But nope – the instant I got in my boat (RK-2) which were 2 person inflatable rafts that were canoe/kayak shaped it flooded up with water and I was instantly soaked and remained that way for the rest of the day. Oh well! We rafted approximately 8km down the Thomson River and it was so much fun. Even though the water levels were very low so we were constantly getting stuck on rocks I had a fantastic time and would love the opportunity to do it again! Such a thrill and it required lots of thinking and strategy and trust and communication between you and your partner. It was an awesome day! In the end, I was the only person who didn’t fully fall in the water so I’d also call that a success. By the end of the day everyone was exhausted as we headed back to camp for the last night. It began to rain and didn’t really stop all night but thankfully we were headed home in the morning. Also saw and petted a crazy ass spider! It was apparently just a small huntsman but it was pretty big to me!

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Day 6:

Home time! The camp came to a conclusion. After packing up, loading the trailer and the bus and hitting the road we eventually made it home safe and sound. I hate to be wrong but I was definitely wrong about dreading this trip as much as I did. It ended up being quite a good week and I got to try some new things (such as rafting)! After having a good week in the bush I find it really hard to come back to real life. I am back at home and have assignments to do, stuff to plan, hopefully get some shifts at work this week and I have to get this all done in less than a week as I go on a canoe trip in a week! But  guess YOIAO (You’re Only In Australia Once) – new saying

Word of the week: Bogan = an Australian version of a hick

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Mt Alexander Bush Camp

I just spent the most amazing week in the Australian bush

It was a very successful 6 days, sleeping under a tarp, and meeting some awesome people.

Going into the camp I was fairly apprehensive about the style of camping it is. I mean I love to camp don’t get me wrong but I was pretty nervous about the whole no tent situation and the length of the trip.

Day 1: We arrived at Mt Alexander with all our gear and food for the week. No coolers allowed so only fresh food for the first few days! We played a lot of team building and such games to start the day off, then broke into our groups and set up camp! I quickly realized how truly cold it actually does get at night, quite a shocker!

Day 2: Mountain Biking

We woke up bright and early and set out for our first activity of the week, mountain biking! I was pretty stoked since thankfully mountain biking is familiar to me. We were taught some basic skills in the morning since most people had not mountain biked before and I had to get used to the brakes being backwards which was really weird! There ended up being some pretty sweet single tracks to go on and everyone learned really quick so the group of us were able to ride some sweet trails! It was so awesome being back on a bike and on the trails. Although these trails definitely did not compare to anything at Albion or in Palgrave unfortunately. Ended up back at camp for the evening. Enjoyed some lovely pesto pasta for dinner and had a night navigation activity. We were given bearings and had to follow a compass and find the checkpoints in the woods. My team sucked and we didn’t end up finding a single one a

Day 3: Canoeing

Woke up to a little bit of rain but thankfully I snagged a good spot under the tarp and stayed pretty dry! Set off to canoeing for the day where I was under the impression that we had to go swimming at some point and I was really dreading this. I love swimming but not when its cold out and the water is cold and I have limited clothes and no towel. Luckily I managed to stay dry! Learned some basic canoeing skills in the morning, played some games, one that got really aggressive and had people jumping out of their canoes. Learned some more skills like how to steer which is actually something I’ve always wanted to learn how to do! Definitely prefer being at the back of the boat steering than at the front I decided. Played some more games then packed it up for the day. It was nice to be on the water and it ended up being a nice and sunny day but I just wish we could’ve actually gone for a nice paddle at some point. Eventually made our way back to base where we completed 2 initiative tasks then had dinner (veggie stir fry with rice).

Day 4: Rock Climbing

Best. Day… I can’t say that enough. I am officially hooked on rock climbing. Started the morning off climbing where there was 4 climbs we could do. They were probably fairly easy climbs but I had no problem completing them at all! I was surprised at how easily I was able to pick it up. I think one of the main things I was able to do that helped a ton is that I wasn’t afraid at all about the height or about not being safe while doing it. In the afternoon we had the opportunity to abseil which was sweet! Hurt the hands a bit but super fun, I just wish it had been higher so I could’ve felt a little nervous! But nope I was not phased at all by it. We then did what they called a scramble where we had to free climb up a little ways then go through a narrow area in the rocks then had the option to climb through a crack in the rocks or up and around. Being first and being the daredevil I am I decided to give the crack a go. Successfully completed this then got to abseil down. Was then given the opportunity to do it again so I obviously did, and this time I climbed around then abseiled down the other side of the rock. I could’ve done it all probably 5 more times it was that much fun. I definitely want to get back out there and start rock climbing for real, it was the biggest thrill. The day then ended and it was time to eat dinner (gnocchi). We were then informed we had another night activity. I was really hoping it wasn’t similar to the other nights since it was pretty lame. Instead this night they were driving us out to a location where our group leaders then had a map and compass to find our way back to camp. Sounds alright right? But no they drove us out at 9pm (so dark) in the pouring rain. While trying to remain as optimistic as possible we started the trek back to camp. Our leaders screwed up a little bit and we travelled for a while in the wrong direction. We ended up on the other side of the mountain and then had to climb straight up to the peak in order to get back. Fun… not. We did eventually make it though which is pretty satisfying! At one point in the walk we stopped in the middle of the bush and had life chats in the dark, which was such a neat experience. At around 12:30 am we made the trek over to the road and took the road back so it would be quicker. It was pretty neat though, we walked down the road all linking arms in the pouring rain with all our torches off and basically just sang songs. We made it back to base around 1:30am then hit the hay attempting to stay as dry as possible throughout the night. Lets just say that was definitely an interesting experience.

Day 4: Bushwalking

Woke up throughout the night to some torrential downpours. Thank god I actually stayed very dry! Aside from my clothes from the night before everything was pretty dry. Got ready in the still pouring rain and prepared for a day of bushwalking. Thankfully due to the long walk the night before and the rain we were getting the leaders of the walk decided to shorten our walk. In and out of rain all day we hiked up Mt Alexander. We had lunch at the peak and played a ton of games. On the hike back down I was finally able to realize that wow I am in Australia on a camping trip for school in the middle of a forest. Like how crazy is that! We eventually wandered back to base and enjoyed some dinner. We were supposed to have pizza on english muffins and pitas. After eating the english muffins we realized the pitas had gone mouldy so we made the decision to make the backup bag of pasta we brought. Thank god for thinking ahead! We had a nice big group campfire in the evening eventually went to bed and I fell right asleep. I think I had some of the best sleeps since coming to Australia this week.

Day 6:

We woke up bright and early and enjoyed a nice sunrise. Me and the other Canadians then had to miss out on todays activities as it was worked out for us to be driven to the train station so we could take the train home, shower and make it back to Footscray for a exchange luncheon with other Sport and Exercise Science exchange students and all the students going on exchange next semester. We were able to meet the group of Aussies coming to Western which is pretty neat! Talking to them about Western though made me miss home a little bit and made me realize how fortunate I am to be where I am at home and to have this opportunity to be across the world on exchange at the moment. We then got to go to tour the Aegis Oval; home of the North Melbourne Kangaroos AFL team. This was pretty neat but I ended up leaving early since I couldn’t stay awake and was very unprepared to have a footy lesson in the afternoon.

Overall, this trip has been an incredible experience and I cannot wait until the next one! I truly realized how fortunate I am to be where I am and doing all of the things I am doing right now. I have probably done and seen more in the past 2 months then I have in my whole life. This week I think I was finally able to relax about life and appreciate the laid back nature of the Aussie lifestyle. At home everything is such high stress, school especially and I think it is very much common belief that you finish high school, start uni, graduate, get a job or go to grad school then get a job. But where does life fit in with this? Yes, I most definitely want to continue on with school and my studies but what route I am going to take is still very much unknown for me. Whether I will know in a year or so when it is time to decide what I do post undergrad I don’t know if I will know at that point. That used to be a scary thought to me but I now realize that that doesn’t need to be scary at all. It means there are just so many possibilities out there and I do not need to be in a rush to decide what path is for me. Maybe I take a year off and travel and see more of the world, work for a year etc. The options are endless and nothing needs to be decided now. Crazy how spending some days in the middle of nowhere can make you realize things like this! Right now I am just going to continue to live in the moment and take in all that I can while I am away for the time being.

 

A few weeks in

Time flies when down under! Its been a crazy few weeks. Classes started a few weeks ago and they have been interesting to say the least. Week 1 of class was a nightmare and a half. For starters, my first class on Monday was moved to a whole other campus last minute. I had a class get cancelled, got kicked out of one because it was over enrolled, and 2 of them moved to a different campus. After switching 4/5 classes and 3 add/drop forms later I finally had a useable timetable. I can’t really complain too much about my classes now though, except the fact that I have class everyday of the week which is apparently unheard of at VU! I’m taking Social Dimensions of Sport and Exercise, Research Methods, Adapted Coaching, Outdoor Education and Adventure Programming. So yes, my classes are pretty sweet! Thankfully I’m getting research out of the way and will no longer have to do it back at Western. Adapted Coaching is pretty awesome as we get to work at a school for deaf children and teach them tennis. Unfortunately I’m pretty hopeless at Tennis but the girl I am teaching, Chloe, is super sweet and it is proving to be an awesome experience! Outdoor ed is unfortunately on Fridays from 1-5, which is wayyyy too long but it is a pretty awesome class! We get to go on 3 trips throughout the semester. The first is next week and it is a 6 day multi adventure trip to Mt Alexander. We also get to go on a 4 day canoe trip down the Murray River and a 6 day bushwalking trip in the Grampians. This literally gives sports for marks a new definition. Adventure Programming is also really similar! We get one trip with this class which is kind of kept top secret. They are calling it an adventure race and we don’t get to find out what it is all about until we are in the middle of it, kind of nerve racking but should be great!

Overall life isin’t too bad, can’t complain! Went to an international event which was a lot of fun. So weird over here, they provide you with free alcohol at these events. That would never happen at home! Canada House also hosted its first party of the semester to celebrate St Patricks Day the Western way. I’ve also half got a job so time to start planning my Asia trip in June! (hopefully… or New Zealand).

CANADA HAU5 ST PATTY'S

CANADA HAU5 ST PATTY’S

Great Ocean Road Orientation Trip

Friday February 21 I left for the VU orientation trip down the great ocean road! We arrived to the campus in Footscray (which is so sketchy) early in the morning and set off. First stop was Bell’s Beach, which is where a lot of major surfing competitions take place. The weather gods were not on our side and it ended up being a super chilly weekend. It was only 11 degrees on Friday morning. We were able to walk around Bells beach for a while which is where a lot of the big surfing competitions take place. We then set off to get to Lorne. We began driving down the Great Ocean Road which words cannot even begin to describe. It’s exactly how it sounds… a road that travels along side the ocean and its great! Probably the most scenic drive I’ve ever been on. We eventually arrived in Lorne and got to our accommodation. We stayed at The Great Ocean Road Cottages and we got the cutest little cottage. It was a cottage for 4 people so ended up being me, Dayna, Carleigh and Haley. We even had our own little kitchen and there was free coffee and tea! After dropping our stuff off we headed down to the beach for a surfing lesson! This is now definitely added to the top of my list of things I need to do. The lesson we got was a little hectic but I was able to stand up! There was literally 55 international students in the water with about 5 instructors so you were pretty much just running into people and being run into. Thank god for wetsuits because the water was nippy but luckily the sun made a special appearance! After surfing, we headed back to the room to get ready for dinner. We had dinner (which was included in the trip) at the Lorne Hotel which wasn’t bad, then we went out that night! Ended up being a pretty funny night.

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Bell’s Beach

Surf's up!

Surf’s up!

Day 2 on the trip started off pretty rough. We were supposed to go on an 8 km hike that literally took us 3.5 hours because the tour guide we had talked forever about every little thing. We eventually also all got starving because the breakfast they provided sucked. We were literally ranting the entire hike, which in the end was actually pretty nice through the forest and then ended with some neat ocean views. I was even able to finally see my first kangaroo! Even though it was pretty far in the distance I can finally say I saw one… only took long enough. We finally arrived back in the town with 30min to grab lunch before we met the group (the other groups had 1.5 hours, which just goes to show how much she really was talking). After devouring some aussie burgers, with egg, and bacon on top we went to learn how to play some aussie rules football. This game is actually really neat and extremely vicious and dangerous. The guy who was teaching us had a finger that was fully perpendicular to the rest of the finger at his knuckle, it was crazy! I was able to learn how to kick the footy and how to handball it. I also managed to get 2 balls stuck in a tree, woops. I really am not lying when I say I have no hand eye coordination. Footy ended up being really cool! Definitely going to check out a game or two when the season starts. Went back and had the most amazing nap of my life. Went to dinner, then out for the night!

Footy!

Footy!

The 3rd day was spent driving along the great ocean road. We drove about 3 hours then made it to The Twelve Apostles, even though there is actually only 8. It was absolutely beautiful, never in my life have I seen a view like that. We also went to Loche Ard Gorge and the London Bridge before heading back to Melbourne. I definitely want to do another trip down there sometime! Hopefully rent a car or something and drive ourselves (or once I convince my Dad to come and visit…)

Koala!

12 Apostles

12 Apostles

Loch Ad Gorge

Loche Ard Gorge

Orientation group at London Bridge

Orientation group at London Bridge

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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