I began my travels up the East Coast in Sydney and stopped off at Byron Bay, Surfer’s Paradise, Brisbane, Fraser Island, Airlie Beach and Magnetic Island before finishing in Cairns. I was travelling solo, something I have never done before but with the use of a Greyhound bus pass and a Base jump card (giving me 10 nights of prepaid accommodation at Base hostels) it couldn’t have been easier.
I couldn’t travel up the east coast of Australia without spending at least 3 days in Byron Bay, the backpacker capital of Australia. The best word to describe Byron Bay is cool – this place is seriously cool. Dreadlocks, guitars and tye-dyed clothes are the norm here and the chilled vibe is infectious; I spent many hours soaking it up at the popular surfers beach. But there are lots of other activities to do in Byron Bay except chill on the beach – surf lessons are popular (although I gave up after an hour of being battered about in the pouring rain), as are trips to the nearby hippy village of Nimbin. There are also good walks to do around Byron, including to the most Easterly part of the Australian mainland where we could see about 40 dolphins jumping in the sea just below us!
Probably my least favourite place in Australia, there isn’t much to say about Surfer’s Paradise except imagine a swankier version of Benidorm and that just about sums this place up.
Brisbane was the first place where I really felt the constraints of being a single traveller as I was placed in a hostel room with no other english speakers. My 3 days in Brisbane were therefore slightly lonely but it meant I got the time to finish my book and go to the cinema.
Fraser Island was one of my favourite places in Australia. It is the largest sand island in the world but there is still some incredibly diverse rainforest and wildlife there (including dingos!) There endless things to do here including driving the 4 wheel drives over the sandunes, going on hikes and treks, swimming in freshwater lakes and paddle-boarding. This place is an absolute must if you are travelling up the East Coast.
From Airlie Beach I went on a 2 day cruise of the Whitsundays – where there are some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Unfortunately when I visited it was pouring with rain, meaning we had to spend most of our time in the boat rather than sunbathing on the deck. We did manage to get out and see Whitehaven beach however, although to swim in the water required wearing a full body stinger suit (with a hood for your head and gloves for your hands!) to stop the jelly fish stinging you.
It is quite an effort to get to Magnetic Island, you have to stop at Townsville on the greyhound bus and then take a 20 minute ferry across to the island, followed by a taxi to your hostel. However it is absolutely worth it when you arrive at your hostel (most likely Base Hostel – it’s one of about two hostels on the island). This is a real party hostel and with fantastic sea views and an almost continual pool party it is a great place to spend a couple of nights. In the day time the koala sanctuary is the place to visit if you want to hold snakes, turtles, birds, wombats and of course koalas. There is also a fab place by the beach where you can buy some food for about $2 and go and feed all the rock wallabies – a really cool experience!
The most obvious thing to do in Cairns is to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, and whilst that was a fantastic experience – I saw a turtle! – it is not the only attraction of Cairns. Cape Tribulation is a bus ride away and there are a number of amazing waterfalls in the surrounding Tablelands, including where the Herbal Essences advert was shot and the Peter Andre Mysterious Girl music video (what a claim to fame!)
I absolutely loved my time travelling up the east coast of Australia, these are only a couple of my photos and memories but hopefully they give you an idea of just how beautiful and diverse Australia is!