Great Ocean Roading

Who doesn’t love a road trip? Imagine 243 kilometres of coastal road with the big blue on one side and the other dramatic cliff-side and green rain-forests while you drive one of the most popular drives in the world.

Stretching from Torquay in the East, Only 97 kms from Melbourne to Warrnambool in the West this drive is made of so famous thanks to the passing of the surfside resorts, and scenic landscapes along its stretch and the important history it plays for the Australians.

Built in memorial of those who fought and dies within the first world war, the servicemen who returned were given reemployment in building this roadway to help the coastal towns in their struggle with their isolation from the larger ports and cities.

Here’s my low down on the Great Ocean Road and my tips on where to stay and see along the way!

dsc00814

*Torquay

Heading only few hours drive from Melbourne this coastal town is one of the most famous along the route as it is home to the surfing mecca of Bells Beach. Home to the Rip Curl competitions every Easter this is the longest running surfing competition and means you are sure to be able to spend some time watching the pros do there best practising even outside of the summer season! We ended up spending three hours in the rain mesmerised by the swells of the water and the elegance of those riding.

There are tons of discount stores in Torquay should the surfer chic take hold and you are desperate for some new gear. For those looking for professional gear these outlet stores will offer better discounts than you can get in the larger cities.

If you are new to surfing personally I prefer Torquay to have your first experience rather than in Byron as everyone is keen to. The beaches in the area have taught Kelly Slater and that’s a good enough excuse as any, Lessons for beginners, intermediate and advance can be picked up locally and keep your eye in the store windows for local instructors rather than the larger group sessions!

If you are the sporty type or are pushed for time have wander at the Australian National Surfing Museum to learn more, or try your hand at some sunbathing and surf watching from the shore!

Looking for somewhere to stay? Try the Bells Beach Backpackers for an affordable and comfortable stop.

dsc00843

 

*Lorne

Heading further west Lorne is another cute seaside town, Although for us we used this as the gateway into the the Great Otway National Park. With hundreds of walks, hikes and sights we wanted to spend a couple of days away from the beaches discovering the more interesting in land area. With lush tropical plants and ferns its hard to remember you haven’t just entered Jurassic Park. Take in an evening tour with your torches looking for the elusive glow worms that live within the tropical fauna

For those wanting to learn more history surrounding the great ocean road head to the heritage centre in the visitor centre in town.

dsc00729

 

*Apollo Bay

Heading further south Apollo Bay is a popular stop way on the route, and a nice place to rest for a night or two. With a lovely long beach right on the roadside it is easy to spend a day or two soaking up the sun in the summer months and enjoy the small town charm.

We also used Apollo Bay for the Otway national park as we were again closer to some of the hikes in the area and took in a couple of waterfall hikes the hostel reception staff recommended.

We also headed out to the Otway National Park from here to Lake Elizabeth for canoeing at dusk to see if we could spot the magical platypus. Only a 50 min drive each way this was an amazing experience and can be booked before you arrive here. Advance booking is highly recommended and if you don’t spot a platypus then you will receive a 20% discount on your next trip. If you chose the dusk rather than the dawn you may also spot those glow worms I told you about!

Looking for somewhere to stay? Try the surfside Backpackers located just opposite the beach, this popular hostel has lots of common areas and chances to meet new people.

 

*Twelve Apostles 

Heading north again towards our final stop now, over 227 kms from Melbourne is the twelve apostles off the coast of port cambell national park. Formed from the erroision of the harsh southern sea there are now fewer than 10 remaining so no better excuse than to pull over before they completely disappear.

dsc00716As you can see from my picture even a day in the middle of summer doesn’t mean the weather will play nice!

These limestone stacks are the most famous structure along your trip and one of the busiest spots you will come to along your journey with day trippers desperate to get a selfie with the Apostles in the background.

There are tons of spots to pull over on your way to Warrnambool, including any of the beaches along the shipwrek coastline, the Loch Ard Gorge or the London Arch.

 

 

*Warrnambool

Saving the best for last (If travelling from Melbourne) Warrnambool was my favourite town on my journey along the great ocean road and my starting point as we drove from Adelaide.

As we were out of season it was unfortunate we couldn’t take advantage of the local whale watching tours, although we did head to the look out point over the waters to see if there was anything else we could spot!

Be sure to head back to the Tower Hill area for Kangaroo, Emu and Koala spotting as they are both native to the area, take in some of the short nature trails or complete some of the longer hikes. Be sure to enquire about the tours surrounding the local Aboriginal culture!

Dining at Cactus Jam was a highlight and having some flavoured margaritas to toast our journey was brilliant. The food was incredibly tasty and good value, a great find and I highly recommend it to anyone who makes it this far!

 

Now I know there are some who are visiting with a short window to explore the area and with day trips from Melbourne on offer you have no excuse not to see the wonders along the route, However if you have the opportunity to spend longer make sure you do! Hire a camper/car and spend at least 3 nights travelling along the GOR, I’m positive you wont regret it… Hopefully after reading my post you’ll know there is so much more to see than the Twelve Apostles. 

 

Travel agent top tip, be very mindful of the ever changing speed limits if you are hiring a car… Thanks to this i received my first ever driving offence. Although there are no cameras in place there are plenty of speed traps and police waiting, drive with extreme caution around and during public holidays.  

Advertisements

Tropical Cairns

In my attempt to follow the sun during my travels I ended up spending 2 months living and working in Cairns.

Cairns is notorious for being a backpacker party town and the gateway for the Great Barrier Reef, but I think there is so much more to it than this. I had a long list of things I wanted to see while I was in Cairns and not all of them were about the reef and partying, so I’ve put together my own list of ideas to do whilst in Cairns….

Skyrail

Cable cars in the tropical mountain ranges overlooking Cairns. Departing from Smithfield station, 15 minutes away from Cairns you travel over the ranges to Kuranda village. You can travel in either direction or do a return trip, I only did a one way as I travelled on the Scenic Railway to Kuranda and returned via the cable cars. The scenery is beautiful especially if your travelling on a sunny day, you can see for miles. There are stops along the way where you can walk through the rainforest to discover Barron waterfalls and wander along boardwalks to learn about local flora and wildlife. I upgraded my cable car to a diamond view which meant the floor was also made of glass to get the most from the views!

Prices start from $49 per adult one way, and can be booked online here

Kuranda Scenic Railway

One of the most beautiful train journeys I’ve travelled on! The scenery is gorgeous, and the driver slows down during the most scenic points to allow you to take photos. The journey starts from Cairns and takes 2 hours to travel through the mountains climbing 327 meters. Working your way through 15 tunnels, 93 curves, dozens of bridges and 75 kilometres of track you will arrive in Kuranda.

Prices start from $69 per adult one way, and can be booked online here

Cairns Golf Club For Crazy Golf

Located about 10 minutes from Cairns on the Captain Cook Highway is the Cairns golf centre. You can travel here in any bus travelling to the northern beaches. For only $9 per person you get the first 13 holes along with a club, then as an offer they will give you the second round free. Had a really good afternoon out with a bunch of friends, and as it was quiet we had the place to ourselves.

For details check online here.

Crystal Cascades

Located 20km from Cairns, Crystal Cascades are a series of waterfalls and crocodile free swimming pools. Unfortunately they are hard to access with out a car, but luckily hiring a car in Cairns is typically easy and relatively cheap for a days hire. The swimming holes are very close to the car park, but you can follow the 1.2km pathway up to the top of the waterfalls and to view Lake Morris which is a steep rainforest trail, taking approx 3 hours return.

Perfect for a hot sunny day in tropical Cairns as something a little different to do!

Cairns Northern Beaches
You can’t come to the tropics and not visit the beaches! See my separate post for my tips on the northern beaches!

Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park

I was lucky enough to be invited to one of the famous evening shows on a beautiful sunny Cairns afternoon. I was picked up from my Hostel about 6:30pm and taken the 15 journey to Tjapukai. The night started with a welcome drink and traditional face painting by the staff who are dressed in the traditional dress wear and we were walked to the lake to join in singing and making noise with our clap sticks. Dinner was served straight after and unfortunately I was expecting the show to be during dinner which it wasn’t. The choice was brilliant though and plenty there! The entertainers work very hard to include everyone in the show and want everyone getting up and dancing along, and it’s always fun to have audience participation!

The centre is also open during the day, where they have demonstrations of local plant use and can learn how to throw a boomerang or learn to play the didgeridoo.

Book online here. Adult prices from $109, transfers an extra $25 per person.

White water rafting

This is my kind of adventurous day out. Cairns has easy access to Tully rivers located between half an hour and two hours drive away. Donning a life jacket and a paddle you’ll take to the waters for hours of fun.

AJ Hackett Bungy and Minjin

If your one of those crazy people who love the adrenaline rush then your in luck as Cairns is the only place in Australia where you can thrown yourself from the 50ft platform in the middle of the rainforest. Bungy jumping is a lot safer than it was when AJ first started with elastic bands strapped around his legs! For those more like me who don’t fancy the jump, they do have the Nimjin swing which rather than jumping, feels like your flying through the air superman style.

Sky Diving

Another activity for the adrenaline junkies, most tour operators will take you down to Mission beach to complete your jump two hours away from Cairns. Beware of ‘deals’ being advertised cheaply as prices of the Videos and photos will not be included and will bump the price up another $110 odd.

Atherton Tablelands

Heading an hour west from Cairns will bring you to the tropical rainforests in the Tablelands, a maze of waterfalls, lakes and small towns. There are so many interesting places to visit within the area and different companies to see it all with. I liked Uncle Brian’s best, although all companies offer almost the same route I thought their guides were fantastic!

Be sure to take in the natural water slides at Josephine Falls, go turtle spotting in Lakes Etcham, and flick your hair at the waterfall made famous by herbal essence, Milla Milla.

Starry Night Cinema

Held in the beautiful Botanical Gardens on the last Wednesday of every month, from June to August. The movies show vary from family friendly to the older classics, the particular night I went they were showing the Croods an animated children’s movie. The idea is to take your own picnic blankets, and snacks and settle in front of the big screen. Byo alcohol is allowed permitting there is no glass.

Check the full showings here for dates and times.

Tasmania sights

I always find Tasmania is the least blogged about state of Australia, and while I was travelling I found it to be less appealing to others than South Australia?! I wanted to share my top sights to see after my month in Tasmania and see if I can change your opinion of Tasmania.

With most of the activities on the island surrounding the great outdoors I wanted to share my favourite spots on the island and where to capture those ista-worthy shots!

 

Wine Glass Bay

wineglass bay

Located within the Freycinet National Park Wineglass bay got its name from the change of colour in the waters during the Whale slaughters that happened during the 1800’s. Now with its protected national park status you can enjoy a guilt free wonder with a steep 45 minutes uphill from the main car park to wineglass lookout point for views like mine above, then if that’s not enough for you, you can take another walk a mile down to the beach to see the beautiful white sands, Take a dip and maybe spot a wallaby or two dancing along the shores.

(Unlike me try taking a walk in the afternoon while the sun is behind you to stop the darkness on the cliffs in front of!)

 

Bicheno 

bicheno

Spend a night at the seaside town of Bicheno, Located on the east coast visitors flock here in the summer months to catch the best surf on the island, it’s mild year round climate and for its local nature…. The Fairy penguins.

With nightly parades in the local town you can enjoy a more personal experience than that on Philip Island, VIC. Run by locals to protect the wildlife the tours run year round at dusk and give you the opportunity to watch the penguins come in from the waters after a long day and make their way home.  

Other things to do while staying in Bicheno is to head to the famous blowhole to see nature in its glory or head out to the local wineries and have a tasting or two.

 

Bay Of Fires

bay of fires

Located in the north east of Tasmania the Bay Of Fires is a 50km stretch of beach named after the fires made by the local aboriginals, by Captain Tobias Furneaux. With lots of different beaches you can visit I spent a couple of nights in the area trying to get out to a few different ones. My personal favourites are Cozy Corner, The Gardens & along Skeleton Bay.

If you love to walk, you have the opportunity to hike this trail over 4 days and see the whole stretch of beach, camping along the way you can join an organised trip or travel on your own!

 

Cradle Mountain National Park

Cradle Mt

Located in the North West of Taz this huge national park is filled to the brim with sights to see! I’ve chosen two walks at Cradle Mountain to tell you about, Dove Lake walk and Marion’s Lookout.

Marion’s Lookout is shown above in the picture as one of the points on your climb to the top! This is a steep and strenuous walk so is only advised for those with moderate fitness levels, and wanting a climb lasting about 3 hours return.

For those looking for something slower paced or travelling with a family a walk around the lovely Dove Lake is perfect. Taking 2 hours or so this walk takes you through lots of different landscapes which everyone will enjoy. The ballroom forest with it’s fairyland feel is enchanting and will leave you imagining who really lives in the forest! Passing Pencil Pine River you can spend some time trying to spot the elusive platypus and keep your eyes peeled for Wombats as you walk and enjoy the flat, boardwalks.

 

Lake St Clair

lake st clair

Also located with the Cradle Mountain National Park, the deepest lake in Australia is surrounded by lush greenery making a pretty picture! Although we were unable when we visited if your feeling brave enough to jump in the cold waters go for it! The lake does not have it’s own lifeguards so please be careful and watch over others.

 

Russell Falls

russell falls

You can’t come all the way to Tasmania and not see the two most famous waterfalls of the State! First up is Russell Falls located within the Mt Field national park, on an easy 20 min stroll you will find yourself passing through what could be mistaken as Jurassic Park! The pathway leading to the falls will leave you in awe as you gaze up to the skyline above you enclosed by trees and ferns, It certainly took me longer than the advise 20 minutes as I couldn’t stop taking photos.

 

Montezuma Falls

montezuma falls

Located on the West Coast Montezuma Falls are the highest waterfalls in Tasmania at a staggering 104 meters. This easy walk on mostly flat path will take you to the base of the falls leading you through the rainforest of giant tree ferns following parts of the old bridge which you wouldn’t believe once was there. Part of the journey is along a one path metal bridge which is the best part of your walk right next to the falls but for those scared of heights this might be the point of your return!

 

Henty Dunes

Henty Sand Dunes

Located within driving distance of Strahan in the West coast of Tasmania the 30 meter high dunes are calling your name to race down or toboggan down! Created by high winds brought in from South America the dunes are always growing. Hiring a toboggan locally is the easy…. Climbing to the top to slide back down is the hard part!

If you aren’t sure you want to race down on the toboggans try your hand at dune running, just make sure you always run in a diagonal line!

 

Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary

Located half an hours drive away from Hobart this none for profit organisation is a fun afternoon out for all. With the elusive Tasmanian Devil in the park you can see how unlike it’s cartoon counterpart it really looks like! The park has free roaming Kangaroos you can purchase food for and feed, Look at the little joey I spotted in it’s mothers pouch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

Famous for it’s tiny penguins… And for where the Hemsworth brothers call home this little island is located only 90 mins south-east of Melbourne, The perfect distance for a road trip!

If you are wondering where you might recognise the name it might be because you have heard of the fairy penguins that call the island home, all 32,000 of them. Fairy penguins, or little penguins are called so for their lack of height only growing to 12 inches when adult and weighing a maximum of 3 pounds.

Over 60% of the island is farm land and the island itself is a nature park by Australian standards meaning there is plenty to see and something more rural to get you back to nature if you’ve been in the ‘big city’ to long!

We chose to stay 4 nights while we visited the attractions in the area and I’d like to share my tips and hints of what to see and do while on Phillip Island…

What to see…

The Penguin Parade 

Okay so you’ve probably noticed I’ve mentioned the penguins twice already but the most popular attraction and the main draw to the island is the chance to spot the little penguins waddle in after a day catching waves to burrow down for the night. Arriving before sunset you are seated and await the arrival of the stars, you are given the opportunity to learn more about these beautiful creatures with your guide whom will share facts with you while you wait and discuss the safety briefing of the evening, For example no photography, AT ALL. You may find this rule strict however there is a rule for a reason, as it can severely damage the eyes of the Penguins and as many of us know it is easy to forget (with automatic settings these days) to ensure your flash is off in the heat of the moment.

This non for profit company has invested a huge amount to ensure the conservation of the locals and have addressed the tourisms wants and the penguins safety. By allowing only a maximum number of guests onto the grandstands each day  and as I mentioned now allowing photography and having a no beach access policy.

*Pre book your tickets online today to ensure availability, Click the link for access

Rhyll Wetland Trail

With three colour coded trails ranging from board walk to waking trails there is something for all abilities and time frame. Taking you on an adventure to spot local wildlife and fauna expect to see interpretive sign-age along your chosen route to tell you a little more about the views and fauna around you.

The Nobbies

Located in the Summerlands along the west coast of the island this board walk tour takes you to the edge of the coast for a seal and whale spotting trip. Keep your eyes on the ocean while walking through the self guided walk and see if you can spot anything! Taking to you the tip of the island and the closet point to seal rock you are bound to see some sunning themselves on the soft sands below. With other interesting places to visit including the islands only blow hole, wait and watch it go.

nobbies

 

Find the hidden shipwreck

Located on the southern shores at Kitty Miller bay head down to the waters to discover the remains of the SS. Speke which dates back to 1905, during low tides a portion of the vessel is still visible. Tie this in with a walk to the most southerly point of the island and find yourself gazing at Pyramid Rock from the board-walk view points.

Koala Conservation Centre

Another part of the Islands National Park programme is the Koala conservation centre. With the unique feature of treetop board-walks, Wandering through the eucalypti woodlands you are raised to the height of the trees with the added chance of spotting these elusive animals. With handy informative sign-age for those looking to learn more and for the children to read along the way this is a firm family favourite whatever the weather!

Phillip Island Chocolate Factory

Located on the main through fare into Phillip island this place is not hard to miss! After spotting it on our way in we stopped off for a spot of lunch the factories cafe. With free samples and the opportunity to make your own chocolate this may be the perfect place to visit on a rainy afternoon.

Vineyards and Wineries 

There are four choices of wine farms which are open to the public year round, which offer cellar tours and wine tastings. Perfect for those looking to spend an afternoon exploring the other side of the island than the nature parks.

1653716_10153726686260134_1158916901_n

 

Whale Watching

The location of Phillip island it lies right in the path of the Humpback Whales and southern right whales annual migration to the warmer waters in Queensland meaning there is fantastic opportunity for whale watching during the months of May – August. There are two different boats which operate on the island both of whom come highly recommended. If you are travelling during the autumn/winter season I highly advise joining onto a tour to see if you can find a whale or two.

https://www.penguins.org.au/attractions/ecoboat-tours/

http://www.wildlifecoastcruises.com.au/

Where to stay…

Phillip Island YHA - Exterior 600 x 400
Photo taken from YHA.com

The Island Hostel is the perfect location for those looking to stop over after a late night viewing the Penguin parade with free parking and easy access to the rest of the island. As a YHA card-holder (find out more here) you will receive the same discounted rates you will have come to expect and are able to book rooms from a double to an 8 bed dorm. With free WIFI and a tour desk onsite there is nothing more you could ask for to be able to arrange your activities while visiting. The hostel has a super large kitchen and rooftop terrace there is plenty of opportunity to meet other travellers!

(Also while we stayed I spotted a notice board which had advertisements for employment at the penguin parade, I must admit I didn’t take much notice of the requirements but if it is something you are interested speak to the guys at reception, arriving before the peak season will give you an advantage… I stayed at the hostel in Dec)

The Twin Towns Of 1770 & Agnes Waters

Located 5.5 hours north of Brisbane this little gem is a blissful break away from the tourist drag. As it is located off the main route (A1) along the east coast this hideaway has kept it’s seaside feel by not being overran with backpackers and holiday makers looking for the big sights. I hadn’t heard much about 1770 or Agnes before but as we had 2 months to travel along the coast I was in no rush to spend all of it in the larger cities and favoured the smaller towns with their cheaper long term accommodation and sleepy feel.

Just in case I wasn’t the only one who thought the towns might be the same thing.. they are separate towns, With Agnes Waters being located only 8km south of the town of 1770 Hope that cleared things up for you! 😉

After spending 10 days in the town of 1770/Agnes water I thought I would share my top things to see and do…

Turtle Spotting

During the summer months in Australia 1770/Agnes water’s beaches play an important part to the native Loggerhead turtles. Come November to March the town’s beaches are protected reserves for the turtles to nest. They do offer informative tours which allow groups to travel to the beaches in the dark of the night to watch this natural wonder ensuring they are not disturbed and to educate tourists in the area the importance of leaving the nests untouched and the turtles alone to go about natures miracle.

IMG_6582

Lady Musgrave Island

I had so much to say about my time on the island I had to write a separate post! You can read all about my trip here on my previous blog post!

IMG_6554

Bicycle Hire

Make your way to the discover 1770, located at the caltrex petrol station and hire a bike for $30 for a full day! This also includes snorkel gear for the day which you can use at all the beaches in the area. Cycle to Agnes water for the water or cycle along one of the many routes on offer. Ask in branch for your free map and route ideas!

Scooter Roo Tours

In this little seaside town the roar of the motorcycle passing is a regular occurrence. With daily tours from only $85 per person you able picked up from your accomodation and given a tour with a difference! Something a little quirky for those who enjoy something other than the standard this trip was a great laugh with most of us never even having ride a bike before! They give you plenty of time to practise and luckily as the roads are quiet you have the opportunity to learn quickly. On the tour you can expect to see local wildlife and spectacular sea views on the ride of your life!

Where the surf meets the reef

Travelling from Sydney to Cairns this is the last stop on your journey where you are able to surf in the warm waters of the Coral Sea, or travelling from Cairns to Sydney this is your first port to try your hand at surfing!

It is the cheapest place to learn to surf in Australia where a 3 hour lesson will set you back $17 in comparison to the charges in Byron Bay where a 3.5 hour lesson can cost from $60. Also meaning you get your monies worth the group sizes are smaller in 1770/Agnes water thanks to the lack of tourists in the area, whereas my group in Byron had up to 20 people?!

With calmer waters for newbies it is the perfect place to start your surfing experience and build confidence before hitting some of the larger waves in the area. Your instructors have more time to spend with individuals who might need the extra help and those who catch on straight away have the space to be able to put the new skills to the test! Most schools will guarantee you stand in your first lesson or your money back/a free second lesson!

IMG_6939

Watch the sunset over the waters

Grab an esky (coolbox) and head down to the beaches in the late afternoon and wait for the show to start! One of the few places along the east coast you are actually able to feel the sand between your toes watching the day end. With some beautiful views to catch it certainly was my favourite way to enjoy a sundowner beverage!

Horizons Kangaroo Sanctuary 

This privately run Kangaroo sanctuary is a drop in by appointment only, As it is run by a couple local to the area in their own home and grounds they may not always want visitors. By calling before hand you are more than welcome to arrange a time to go and visit! For those staying in 1770/Agnes Waters for a longer period may be interested in staying on the sanctuary and volunteering. Working for 5 hours a day helping Gary and Denise with the daily on-goings of the project you are able to live onsite (for a fee, agreed with the owners before arrival) what more could you ask for on an Australian adventure!

Captain Cook Monument

IMG_6584.JPG

Blue Mountain Must See’s, Sydney Australia

Located only 2 hours by light train from Sydney this this famous national park is a must to while in Australia and the New South Wales region. (Found out how you can get to Katoomba for only $2.50 here)

Using Katoomba as a base for your stay in the Blue Mountains you will be able to access the main sights within the area without the need of a car or public transportation as the town is built virtually on top of the sights.

Here are my top tips on how to make the most of your time in Katoomba and the Blue Mountains!

 

Echo Point 

Only a short walk from the train station on an easy pathed route with signage will take you to the hub of the national park. From here you will have the best vantage point of the three sisters rock formation which has a a very interesting Aboriginal history. You can also access the popular walks from here, More of which I’ll talk about below!

61256_10150263351725103_497775_n

 

Afternoon Tea With A View

Being British I do love an afternoon tea, and when I heard that the lovely Lilianfels the 5* resort in Katoomba offered high tea I knew it was something I would like to try. Being a backpacker this certainly was not within my budget at $49 at the time but knowing how much we pay at home for this I decided to go for it, as was my sister luckily. It was so lovely getting dressed up for something other than a night out and we are able to stay in and look round the gardens of the resort. A treat none the less and something special for those looking to celebrate! The high tea can book up very quickly often with spaces only being left for resort guests my advice is to book online with plenty of time… Click the link provided Lilianfels  to book online today.

 

Giants Stairway

Located just below the three sisters this famous staircase will take you down into the bush of Jamison valley, taking you down over 800 steps to the base of the mountains. Luckily it is also the best place to visit Scenic World (more on this later) so for those not feeling up for the trek back up the 800 steps you can catch the cable car!

61256_10150263351755103_2743764_n

 

Katoomba Scenic World

At the base of the Jamison Valley with nature lovers wonderland. A dedicated museum of sorts to the Blue Mountains flora and history. By purchasing a day ticket you are welcome to use all the facilities they have to offer. This includes the skyway, the cable-way, the rainforest walkways and the railway. There is so much to do here I wouldn’t plan anything less than half a day at the centre. For only $39 a person for unlimited rides on all I’ve listed you can easily use it to your advantage by taking in the rainforest walks along with the giants stairway to see lots of the Blue Mountains has to offer. Visit the website and pre book your tickets here. http://www.scenicworld.com.au/

Adventure Kicks

Now bare with me on this as there are so many activities you can class as adventurous but what I have in mind are…. Hiking, Abseiling, Climbing, Canyoning. I had never done anything like this before and when travel buddies saw this advertised on groupon.com.au ( A money savings deals website) I knew I couldn’t be the only one that didn’t join in! Personally I think this was the most fun I had while we were in Katoomba and I had not been looking forward to it! Doning our wetsuits and waterproof bags we were off on a mission to find the falls which we were to climb abseil back down…. We booked our trip through Groupon but if you can’t find anything in time for your own trip give the guys at Blue Mountains Adventure Company a call and they will help you get the best out of your chosen experience!

Hop On Hop Off Buses

If you haven’t the energy or unable to tackle Katoomba on foot there is a city sightseeing hop on hop off bus that travels through the main attractions and gateways into the Valley below. From only $44 a day for unlimited travel it is the most convenient way of travel with young children or those less mobile. Pre book your pass on-line and save with a combined pass with Scenic World here.

Wentworth Falls

Located in a village with the same name you are able to walk between the two towns quite easily, With plenty of walking trails and a small street with shops and restaurants there is enough to justify a day trip over… And if you have had enough or fancy an evening somewhere different you are able to catch the 10 minute train that runs between the two towns.

Japanese Bathhouse

Located only 30 minutes from Katoomba this blissful Japanese spa and tea house is the most tranquil place I have visited, Located above Lake Lyell there are picture perfect views of the mountainous backdrop and crisp fresh air . This hotel offers day passes for guests looking to indulge in a little me time after all the scrambling around in the Blue Mountains. for $60 each you are able to relax in the indoor and outdoor hot springs and let the unique herbal steam work its magic! Visitors must pre book online before visiting the spa and can be done on the link provided here

 

How To Use Public Transport In Sydney, Australia

Having lived in Sydney for 5 months and now visiting every year to visit my extended family I have learnt a thing or two about the public transport in Sydney and I’m always asked about how best to travel within the city.

Using the free green city bus has it’s limitations with a non flexible schedule and the amount of passengers trying to cram on-board not everyone is looking to get something for free.

My top tip for everyone is… Buy An Opal Card!

You may not have heard of the Opal before but you may have something similar in your home city. Like London’s Oyster card this pre loaded travel card allows you to use all public transportation within the New South Wales state. You are able to purchase the cards from almost all newsagents/ 7-Eleven’s/ Paper Shops or at any transport customer services counter. An Opal card must be purchased per person looking to travel and you arent able to buy a group travel pass with the savings.

So now you have your Opal Card, What do you do?

This card will not have anything loaded onto the card at the time of purchase and this is up to you how much you might like to add to the card. The minimum top up in the branches is $10 however you can top up online from as little as $5. Now if you are arriving into Sydney airport and are planning on travelling into the city using the rail service be aware this journey will cost approx $18.20 so ensure you top up at least $20 on each card.

Now what?

Now you are able to use all ferries, Rail, Light Rail and Buses within the New South Wales region. Using the Opal card you are able to travel daily tapping on and tapping off each form of transportation and only charged accord to the journey taken!

There are plenty more benefits to the card, which I will explain!

  • Using your Opal card to travel you are given discounted travel on the rail services
  • A travel cap of $60 for the week, Meaning if you are sightseeing and would like to see Manley, The Blue Mountains, Bondi, Newcastle and many more destinations tapping on and off with your Opal pass will ensure you won’t pay more than $60 for the week!
  • Travel using your Opal card on more than 8 paid journeys and your travel for the rest of the week is free of charge (Monday to Sunday) Great for those using the NSW transports for work or getting in and out of the city twice a day as it means your weekend travel (Friday to Sunday is free of charge!)
  • A $2.50 travel cap on a Sunday

Now this Sunday rule is my favourite! I would always wait until Sunday to make my most expensive journey’s, Working full time meant I would use my pass more than enough to qualify for free travel! A ferry over to Manley and back? Free! A train to the Blue Mountains? Free! If you haven’t tallied up enough within the week for the free travel $2.50 over to Manley is a bargain in comparison to it’s usual costing of $15 return!

The only rule on the above advantages? The airport links!

Unfortunately as the airline charge a levy for the arrivals and departures from the airports (Domestic and International) the NSW transportation are not able to discount this on the trips, Meaning you will never pay less than the $18.20 per trip.

My Top 6 Things To Do While In Noosa, Queensland Australia

Located 136 Km north, a tow hour drive from Brisbane this little coastal town is a popular stop off along the East coast route of Australia. What was once a sleepy little town is now home to tons of surfers and upmarket holiday makers alike! When we arrived we knew straight away we needed more than our planned 3 nights, and extended to stay for 7!

Spilt into three different areas; Noosa National Park, Noosaville and Noosa Heads I’m here to share my top tips of what to see and do while staying in the area!

 

Kayaking Noosa Everglades

Being one of the only two Everglades in the world (the second being in Florida) the best way to explore the area is by kayak! We we through a company called Kayak Noosa and chose to do their sunset tour which had great reviews. We arrived on a cloudy afternoon worried we wouldnt catch much of a sunset, however our guide advised it was to our advantage as clouds will always help a sunset become it’s most photogenic which I’d never known before!

He took us out onto the water and took us through the waterways spotting sting rays in the water and Jelly fish along the way. Taking us along the Noosa river past some of the most extravagant houses with their own dock.

Tours start from $60 per person and travel without a minimum/maximum number so we were lucky enough to have a private tour without paying anything extra.

 

Australia Zoo (Steve Irwin Zoo)

Only located less than an hour away from the infamous Steve Irwin Zoo, Noosa is the gateway to the park. You are able to get a coach service which runs daily to the park should you not have your own vehicle, which you can purchase with a entry ticket from most hostels/hotels and tourist informations. Open every day (other than Christmas day) between 9am to 5pm and has a day filled with shows and educational programmes. Using the link included there is a whole section on how to best plan your day with the show times listed.

A stroll on Hastings Street

Hastings Street in the main throughfare in Noosa Heads, Here is where you will find the beach, and more restaurants than you can shake a stick at! With boutique style shops the area is a perfect way to spend an afternoon ducking in and out of all the shops! Lots of independent shops and restaurants there’ll be something for everyone down here!

Noosa National Park

With a range of hikes and trails for those looking for something a little more changelling or those on a family walk there is something to suit everyone. The national park is the largest part of Noosa and takes you on a lovely walk through the coast round to the main beach and Noosa life saving club (Hastings Street) where a cold drink should be ordered in reward. The shortest trail which we chose was an hour and a half’s walk through the bush, where after being advised our eyes were towards the sky looking for a koala or two! We took the walk on early morning to ensure the heat didnt get to us, luckily for us the Ozzies are hot on… well hot and have places along most routes for you to refill your water bottle. (Britain take note!)

10423670_10154775226860103_8611296287568910747_n

 

Eumundi Markets

Another attraction only an hour away from the city these premier artisan markets are a great way to pass a day away! Although do be warned, you will want everything… With all produce hand made the markets are filled with jewellery, Arts and Crafts, Food and natural health and beauty products. There is more than 300 stalls for you to wander freely through and with free entry you can window shop to your hearts content! The markets run every Wednesday from 8am to 1pm and again on Saturdays from 6:30am to 2pm. Personally I think the Saturday markets are better, and I found there was more there than the Wednesday.

Located on 80 Memorial Drive, Eumundi, Queensland. There is ample parking however this is pay and display parking with hourly rates.

1381325_10154775227150103_6366046980098278634_n

 

Laguna Lookout Point

Located at the end of Viewland Drive at the top of Noosa Hill is a popular walk/drive to head for one of the prettiest look out points in the area. From the lookout you are able to see across the whole town of Noosa over to the Glasshouse Mountains in the distance. There has been a sundial introduced to advise what you are looking at in each direction.

 

1010121_10154775227415103_6994620496555589442_n

 

While staying in Noosa we were booked into the Dolphins Beach House Backpackers located near Sunshine Beach and Noosa National Park. With it’s easy location to the beach and the hikes we were content for a weeks stay exploring the local area! With it’s simple laid-back attitude the hostel was a great base, However I didn’t find there was much of a ‘welcoming environment’ so I’m not sure how I would of felt stopping here alone?

Bruny Island. Hobart, Tasmania

Another Island located off the south coast of Tasmania this little eco-haven is a holiday favourite for visiting sea lions, whales and dolphins! Only an hour and a half from Hobart this fantastic day trip is a great way to see a different side of Tasmania and experience the wonderful wildlife the island has.

After some thorough research into my trip to Hobart I came across  Bruny Island Cruises, who offer day trips from Hobart including your bus and ferry over to Bruny.

Arriving at the office on the morning of my tour was not difficult to find, Located just up from the Mona ferry on the harbour we had to check in from 07:45 for a 8am bus to head towards Kettering to catch the ferry.

The bus journey was fairly quiet with most people dozing and with plenty of opportunity for day dreaming and watching the scenery go by. We arrived at the ferry by 9:30am and our final destination at 10:30am. We had time for a mid morning tea and cake before our briefing on the day ahead. Included within the price is a 3 hour cruise around the south of the two islands that make up Bruny.

10262213_10154005517785103_2787917079107614131_n

We were given waterproof ponchos to protect us from the sea spray and bad weather (which we were so lucky and had beautiful sunshine all day) and headed out.

The tour has live commentary with three guides aboard who are more than happy to share their knowledge of the Islands. The sailing was at a leisurely pace and full of photo opportunities, they took us all the way over to the home of the sea lions which was my favourite part! Being one of my favourite water animals I couldn’t believe how many of them called the Island home there few thousands of them, sunning on the rocks or playing in the water below they gave us plenty of time to watch them from a safe distance (for their sake, although it was for our noses as well I suspect)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Heading back to Adventure bay for lunch I couldn’t believe how quickly the day passed. Another part of the package was a two course lunch at the beach side cafe, and was a pumpkin soup with a bread roll and a ham and salad sandwich, although they do cater for a vegetarian or gluten free menu also.

Heading back home I was so pleased with my experience it certainly for me was the best $225 dollars I’d spent in Tasmania!

What Do You Mean You’ve Never Heard Of K’Gari? Fraser Island, Queensland

Located along Australia’s famous East Coast, approximately 200 kms north of Brisbane Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, world heritage listed and the only place where the rainforest grows on sand!

Having been home to the Butchulla people for over 5000 years I was there for a very important day in 2014 when an important battle in the campaign to re name the island back to its original name formally restored.

K’gari – Literally, “paradise”

Almost everyone you are likely to speak to won’t of even heard of this word, Unfortunately it will be a slow process for the Butchulla community before this becomes the common name. Quite like Uluru (the more commonly know Ayers Rock) has been dealing with since it was granted duel name status to recognise the importance to the Aboriginal people back in 1993.

The name ‘Fraser Island’ came about after a Scottish woman, Eliza Fraser shipwrecked upon the island and consequently told “tales of captivity” by the Butchulla’s in the 1830’s which due to the nature of the claims led to the massacre of the islands inhabitants and tribes.

So you can see why this is very important for the Butchulla’s and Aborigines of Fraser Island and Australia for this name to be brought back into the common use. So for this reason I ask when posting blog’s about the island and pictures to use the #K’gari let help get the word out there.