Australia Part 2 – Cairns & Melbourne

I’m sorry that I’ve been terrible at blogging recently – I have been quite busy, as you can imagine and now I have so much to catch you up on… We’re currently in New Zealand and preparing to leave soon for America! It’s safe to say we’re tired! 

We have also had some wifi issues recently as New Zealand don’t tend to give it away easily! (Shout out to Urban Retreat Hostel in Taupo for being one of the first places to offer completely free wifi!)

I’m throwing this post all the way back to the 3rd April when we arrived into a rainy Cairns. After some terrible weather in the camper van we thought we might be heading for somewhere warmer and dryer, but no such luck! 

We stayed in a quirky place called Travellers Oasis, where we met some lovely staff and some other friendly travellers. 

While in Cairns we had to make a trip to the Great Barrier Reef. We had a rainy start to the day but the weather did perk up and we had a nice sunny day in the end! 

The sea was very choppy in Cyclone Debbie’s aftermath, which meant it was a rough ride out to the Reef! We were actually quite lucky that we could go as in the days before our trip some boats had to turn around before even reaching the Reef as weather and sea conditions were too dangerous!

It’s clear that recent news stories are true and that the Reef is dying. The coral there now isn’t bursting with colour, and while there were lots of sea life, there isn’t as much as there would have been years ago. To help the Reef survive, make sure you choose one of the more environmentally friendly boats, and listen to the staff on-board about what you can do to make sure you aren’t polluting the area. 

The boat tour we went with stopped twice in the middle section of the Reef. During this time, people would head out on their scuba dives or spend time snorkelling. 

Before leaving the UK, I had a conversation with my CF team about the activities I could take part in while travelling and it was decided that one thing I couldn’t do was go scuba diving. I didn’t mind too much as I’m not a hugely confident swimmer, especially when underwater, and as it turned out, I got to see a lot by snorkelling anyway! 

As you may know, Cystic Fibrosis means I have limited breathing capacity anyway, so breathing through a snorkel was going to make it even more of a challenge! I actually managed to snorkel just fine – I snorkelled and swam the whole time and always managed to keep up with my friends and other boat passengers! I was quite proud of myself at the end of the day and I’m very glad that I am healthy enough to do something like that! 

As we had only a few days in Cairns, we didn’t make it to Whitsundays or Fraser Island, but we were unsure how affected these places were after Cycone Debbie anyway! I’ll just add them to my list of reasons why I should return to Australia one day! 

On one of our rainy days in Cairns there we visited Kuranda, a rainforest town at the top of a mountain and I finally got to feed some kangaroos, meet a koala and a complete that Australian dream! 

From Cairns we flew down South for a much needed week of relaxing in Melbourne! We booked an Air BnB for our time there, as a treat after all the hostel stays and flights! It was such a luxury! The flat was in one of the tall towers in the city, giving us amazing views of  Melbourne and the city sunsets. 

Some of the things we did in Melbourne included trips to; St Kilda’s, Brighton Beach (with their colourful beach huts pictured below), and a day trip along the Great Ocean Road. 

We were initially planning to hire a car and do the Great Ocean Road ourselves but booking onto a trip was so much easier! With a guide to tell you where to look and when to stop, you got to see all the good bits and take more notice of the scenic drive along the way! 

The rest of our time in Melbourne was spent having a well earned rest! We ate lots, shopped and experienced into that affluent Australian coffee culture by drinking lattes! It was a really nice week and we fell in love with the vibrant city. The free trams certainly made it easy to explore and with all the quirky little cafes, street art on Hosier Lane and entertainment in Federation Square, we were never bored!

We wished we could have stayed longer, but as our ininerary demanded, we had to move on to New Zealand where we joined the Kiwi Experience and toured the South Island – I’ll post about this experience at a later date! 

For now, it’s time to relax in Taupo!

Kia Ora!

// Beth

(For more photos of the trip, visit my Instagram page here!)


Aussie Aussie Aussie!

This post comes to you from Brisbane airport – waiting for our flight to Cairns. We’re finally in Australia, the country which inspired this whole trip in the first place! I’ve wanted to come here forever and it feels surreal that I’m now actually here. 

We flew here from Singapore so the flight was only about 7 hours. We arrived into Sydney but after that short flight it was hard to think this was actually Australia. We spent a short week in the city where we saw the landmarks; Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Sydney wasn’t how I expected. It could have been London if it weren’t for the temperature. 

We also took a trip up to the Blue Mountains. This was a 2 hour train ride but unlike English trains these were double deckers and more spacious! The Blue Mountains were a vast space of impressive scenery, coloured green from the plants and blue from the eucalyptus trees. 

From Sydney we headed to Brisbane… in a bright green and purple camper van! Driving the oversized vehicle on foreign roads promised to be an experience in itself, but add in road closures and extreme weather left over from Cyclone Debbie and you’ve got our week! 

We made the journey over 5 days with a stop in a different town each night. Our first stops were Port Stephens and Port Macquarie. These a nice little towns but we didn’t find a lot to do in them. Then we got to Coffs Harbour. I’m sure there were things to do and see here but thanks to Cyclone Debbie we were stuck in torrential rain all day and didn’t manage to venture out of the camp site… Thankfully, she cleared up the following day and we headed further north to Byron Bay. 

If you’re thinking of a stereotypical surfer town, complete with barefoot, long blonde-haired, tanned skinned young guys then you’d be right. That is Byron Bay in a nutshell and it’s the most chilled out place I’ve been. It was a really nice place to spend some time on our trip, although it would have been nice to have a little more time there to join in with their fanatical beach culture. 

We already had more time there than we planned – thanks to that cheeky Debbie (yes she was very problematic for us!) our main route out of Byron Bay and up to Gold Coast was cut off. The cyclone led to extreme weather and flooding which then covered the Pacific Highway – which goes all up the East Coast. Both ways were closed and alternative routes were also unavailable as the smaller roads were also flooded. So we had a couple of extra hours in Byron Bay while we waited for the road to open again. Luckily for us it did and it wasn’t even a long wait to get past the flooded area! We made it to Gold Coast where we knew a local lady who showed us around. 

This was our last stop on our journey before arriving in Brisbane and we finally got to explore a place properly! We stopped off at Burleigh Hill, the nicest lookout over the sea and city. We had dinner at the Miami Marketta – a warehouse full of food stands and live music. It was such a cool place where I’d go every week if I was a local! We also experienced the strong Australian coffee culture at a cafe owned by the children of the creators of Ugg boots! We loved the Gold Coast and again, wish we could have stayed for longer! 

But we had to head to Brisbane and hand back the keys to our camper van home. It was a crazy, complicated, wet and windy week, but it was an experience! 

// Beth