After nearly four months in Cairns, it was time for me to hit the road and see the East Coast of Australia. One of my coworkers from the bar I worked at in Cairns, Jen, decided it was her time to do her East Coast trip as well, so for the time being I had a travel buddy. After saying our goodbyes to our Cairns friends, we were off bright and early for our first destination, Magnetic Island. It was a 6 hour bus ride to Townsville, and then a 30 minute ferry to the island. Funny story, on our bus they showed the movie San Andreas, which is about a massive earthquake in California, and then Townsville had an earthquake while we were there! We actually missed feeling it on land though as we were on the ferry when it happened. We spent the rest of the day enjoying our resort-style hostel before calling it an early night.
The next day we shared a 4×4 rental with two Irish backpackers and set out to explore the Island. We saw some beautiful beaches, fed wallabies, and did a short hike where we ran into koalas (even a baby!).
Our next stop was Airlie Beach, but I was only there for the night as I was going down to Fraser Island while my friend stayed in Airlie to do a Whitsundays tour. After a 14 hour bus ride I arrived in Rainbow Beach, where most tours to Fraser Island begin. I spent the day exploring the town, which consisted of walking to the Carlo Sand Blow Area and lying around at the beach. That night I met the 7 people who would be in my group for Fraser Island for the first time. Our tour in total had three groups of 8 (the trucks seated 8). Everyone says that if you have a good group the trip is a blast, so I was lucky to have a really great group. We consisted of an Aussie, a Brit, a Swiss German, a German, a Northern Irish, and two French, along with myself. It was a self-drive tour, so we drove our 4×4 around the island checking out crystal clear lakes, impressive views, and we even got to see a wild dingo. At night we would all cook dinner and drink around the campfire. The people in my group were absolutely hilarious, and always ready to have a good time. I also had a friend from Cairns that was working on the island, so I got to have a quick catch up with her which was a nice surprise!
Rainbow Beach and Carlo Sand Blows
The beautiful Fraser Island
Once the tour was over, Jen and I met back up in Noosa for two days. We wished we had spent an extra day in Noosa as it was such a beautiful spot. On the second day we did a coastal walk where we saw tons of whales and dolphins along the way. On one of the beaches there were a ton of blue bottle jellyfish washed on shore where surfers were happily going in the water, those crazy Aussies. We finished our walk and just so happened to run into a craft beer festival much to my delight.
The coastal walk in Noosa
After a pleasant stay in Noosa, it was off to Brisbane. This was the first real city (well, with a population of over 150,000) we were in for the past 4 months, so it was so odd to see skyscrapers and walk around in a CBD. We had both heard negative things about Brisbane, but actually had a nice time visiting some breweries and vegetarian restaurants in the hipster area of town. There were museums with free entry as well, with some really interesting modern art pieces.
Our next destination was Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. This was probably our least favorite place we visited on our trip. It’s known for the beach and clubs, but the beach was nothing special, nor were the “clubs”.
After Surfers we headed to Byron Bay, our last stop on the trip together. Byron is known for its hippie, surfer, chilled out vibe, which is right up my alley. We were a bit worried it would be a bit cliché but it was actually really nice. It made me sad to visit the town at the end of my visa, as I could have easily spent a few weeks working there. We did the famous lighthouse walk where we saw more whales (we saw whales nearly every place we went along the coast), went to the monthly market, sunbathed, and boogie boarded.
We had lucked out with the weather going down the coast, it was sunny nearly every day and relatively warm even though it was technically winter. Yesterday was our last day of the trip together, as I was off to Sydney while Jen stayed in Byron. We already have our plans to meet again in Europe, and a friend we had made along the coast happened to be on my bus, so it made saying goodbye a little bit easier. As I’ve already spent time in Sydney, I’ll be here for a short stay then it’s off to a road trip around Tasmania with my friend from Melbourne!