I'm having a fabulous time over in should-be-sunny Australia, a country I am fast falling in love with after flying in to charismatic Melbourne in early February. I loved the quirky laneways between sweeping streets amid Victoria's notoriously unpredictable weather. I stayed with friends I made at summer camp in New York and on the Kiwi Experience bus, so my time in this glorious city was a much more personal affair then simply backpacking in the most popular central hostel. I was a little under the weather after a hectic few last days in Queenstown so movie nights, nice lunches and pool days kept me busy until I recovered. The (free-woo!) atmospheric St Kilda festival was great, driving along the Great Ocean Road was pretty (yet I've been spoilt by New Zealand's epic panoramas) and enjoying the sights and smells at the Victoria Night Market was saliva-inducing. I also enjoyed just exploring the city on foot between lunch dates, dog walks and dinners, especially bohemian Brunswick Street fuelled by T2 teas (dangerously addictive!)
|Adelaide- I love you|
From Adelaide I flew to Sydney to meet my friend Anna from back home. We enjoyed walking along Darling Harbour, checking out the Art Gallery of NSW, the bat-ridden Botanic Gardens, the art galleries of The Rocks, St Paddy's Market and of course the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We had a lot of fun doing the awe-inspiring Bridge Climb, which gave us amazing views of the city and actually taught me a lot about Sydney's history and that of the Bridge. We stayed in 790 on George which has a great location and befriended some of the long-term travellers in search of work. We hit the Mardi Gras parade in bright dresses, colourful make-up and ponchos (blasted Autumn weather) and I had a HOOT getting involved in the revelry of the parade and post-parade central city nightlife, which was far less seedy than the dodgy Kingscross area I had sampled earlier in the week!
A short train ride took us to a family friend's house in Matcham on the Central Coast, where we spend most of our time chilling by the pool, eating well, entertaining their cute kids and sunbathing on the beach- a well deserved rest period before we embarked on a camping weekend up the coast. Our first night was spent watching the sunset, heating beans in the fire and drinking goon in the southern hemisphere's largest sand dune network near Newcastle. This was unreal- I had what could have been the Sahara beneath my feet, the Amazon in the background, the unadulterated starry sky above me and the crashing surf just a life-threathening dune drive away.
Our cohort drove along the shore to Anna Bay and then Tomaree Head, where we hiked to the summit for a stunning view of the surrounding islands. That night was spent at Seal Rocks, where I tried my hand at surfing (I stood up a few times but was basically just pushed onto the wave by my friend-come-surf instructor so didn't do much of the hard work myself) and even did some morning yoga on the beach. After exploring the other beaches in the area we drove to Valla Beach where we walked along the shore trying our best to avoid stepping on the tiny sand crabs, went 'adventure rock climbing' and checked out the cool caves and rock formations too.
|Stunning view from Tomaree Head|
Next was Byron Bay where we stayed at the phenomenal Arts Factory Lodge hippy retreat. I did yoga and meditation with a singing chick from our 10-bed teepee, chilled out in hammocks by the water, made jewelery from trinkets we bought in town, visited Nimbin, learned poi and sang along to the hostel's wonderful talent show and post-show jam in the street. LOVED IT. We also enjoyed the $5 Mexican night at Cheeky Monkeys where we came joint 7th in the pub quiz, not too shabby, and mooched around the town eating gelato (I had 4 scoops in one day, cost me £12 but it was UNREAL).
Stay tuned for my re-cap of Surfers Paradise, Brisbane, Noosa, Hervey Bay, Fraser Island and beyond- woo so much still to look forward to! :D