Our Final Week's of Road Tripping the East Coast of Australia
So the final three weeks are up and I currently write this blog whilst sat (or squished) on a plane heading to Kuala Lumpa (India being the final destination). I just had to re-watch the last couple videos that I have created, in order to reminisce and refresh the absolutely incredible memories that have been made on this trip.
I can honestly say that I’ve had the best time of my life (and I feel as though I’ve already had so many best times of my life, but somehow each new memory manages to top the last). I can certainly say that I am a very lucky and blessed human being to have experienced all of the many great and wonderful things that I have... but enough of the emotional, enamoured rambling, let’s get started on the blog:
Airlie Beach & The Whitsundays:
I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed what Airlie Beach had to offer. It definitely had a Byron Bay vibe to it, with the strip of shops near the shore to ponder along by day and a lively atmosphere by night (not that we did any drinking though being the ‘boring’-healthy couple that we are-nevertheless I still appreciated the buzz of beaming backpackers wandering the streets care free). We also lucky managed to camp there for free for a few nights, (as Airlie Beach is renowned for expensive accommodationts) thanks to camping in a backpackers car park (not that they knew of this-shh).
So we (actually I) managed to find an awesome (cheap) day tour to sail and snorkel the Whitsunday islands, which I thankfully and successfully managed to convince Henrik that it was a good idea. (He tends to lean a bit more towards the refraining side to spending money-possibly a male thing-whereas I tend to be a bit more on the wreck-less side of the spectrum..memories are worth more than money right!?).
So anyway, we booked our tour with ZigZag tours on bookme.com (which shows you amazing cheap deals in the area) and were off to set sail the very next morning. When the morning came by we were pleasantly greeted by super friendly members of staff who were cracking jokes and remained very hospitable all day long. The tour itself was amazing and we got to see soo many beautiful islands (including Hamilton Island where we were pointed out Jackie Chan’s house).
The day trip was a snorkeling tour where we stopped off to snorkel in two locations among the Great Barrier Reef. It was Henrik’s first time snorkeling ever, which he absolutely loved (and went on to buy his own snorkel set a few days later to take it up as a new found hobby). After the snorkeling, we were taken to the infamous Whitehaven Beach, which boats something like 98% silica sand (which basically means the sand never gets hot to walk on in the sun which is a bonus) and crystal clear waters.
We got to chill out, beach snorkel and paddle board; however I was most delighted when it was lunch time and they provided me with VEGAN GLUTEN FREE options! I was over the moon to say the least. Of course I had pre-requested this as my dietary requirements but I was expecting nothing more than a few measly lettuce leaves. My expectations were definitely blown out of the crystal clear water when I was given not one, but TWO delicious gluten free wraps with hummus and a super yummy salad with VEGAN MAYO! (Not to mention the vegan and gluten free snack bars I was also provided with throughout the day-what a treat!).
After having a fun time on Whithaven beach, we were taken over to a private resort island whereby we relaxed in a salt water pool. The gang from ZigZag tours also brought over a delicious array of tropical fruits for us to enjoy which was definitely another bonus. I am pretty confident when I say that this has been my favourite tour of the whole trip (it even topped my time diving the Great Barrier Reef in cairns I think). So if can recommend you anything enough, it would absolutely be touring the Whitsundays with ZigZag tours. What a fun filled and adventurous day we had!
Bowen was super beautiful and although we didn’t stop there for long (just a day), we still enjoyed a lovely time at Horseshoe Bay-which is where Henrik bought his snorkel set. Little did we realise though, how many freakin jelly fish there are in Australia. I mean you always hear about the crocodiles, the sharks or the spiders that can kill you... why does no one mention the jelly fish!? Signs everywhere up north near the beaches “Warning stingers (Auzzie slang for jelly fish) present in waters”. Supposedly it wasn’t stinger season, however when we did go in the water, we both felt mysterious, subtle electric shocks and came out in small red rashes. One guy even sprinted out of the water itching his body all over.. welcome once again to Australia folks, where everything and anything can kill you. (This is a sort of inside joke that Henrik and I have as literally all of the signs they have in Australia state ‘warning: may cause injury or death’- even if it’s just an innocent hike on a nature trail or a playground-definitely an over careful country).
Townsville & Wallaman Falls-
For some reason Henrik was pretty fond of Townsville (I guess cause it represented more of a city and we were used to spending lots of time in secluded areas). I however wasn’t the biggest fan (I mean it wasn’t terrible but it probably wouldn’t be my first choice to visit again if given the option). I think I feel this way though towards cities because I just compare everything to Melbourne, and let’s be honest, nothing compares.
Despite this we still managed to have a great time. There’s the semi-famous hike that everyone likes to do up Castle Hill (even though there actually is no castle on the hill). But despite my initial enthusiasm for hiking, we ended up driving with it being the middle of the day and over 33 degrees of heat. It was worth the visit though as you get a beautiful 360 view of the city (which makes the perfect spot to eat lunch aka a can of beans-backpacker life).
Another of one of the main attractions that I managed to scope out (through also reading other blogs), was Wallaman Falls in Girringun National Park (the highest, permanent single drop waterfall in Australia). What I liked about these falls is that you could enjoy the view straight away at the lookout, without having to go on a hefty hike (about a 6km walk including return). However we do rather enjoy the hefty hike’s and so that we did, through the tropical rainforest. It was quite a tough hike as you had to wheedle your way down to the falls, but it was well worth it when we got there.
Cassowary Coast (Tully, Innisfail & Mission Beach)-
So Cassowary Coast covers the above regions where we made a few pit stops. In Innisfail Henrik found a waterfall hike on Wikicamps in Behana National Park (which turned out to be an absolute mission of a walk). It was really beautiful though and we enjoyed a swim in the dark depths of the water... only to soon spot a sneaky eel lurking in the waters! After seeing that bad boy I decided to keep out of the water from then on-wards, as I wasn’t too sure whether he would want to sink his teeth into me or not (fair call I would say).
We did manage to stop off to a few other of the small towns like Tully and Innisfail, but wow it is certainly like taking a trip back to the olden days. Yes the buildings were quite cute as they seemed relatively old (for Australia), however I found that a lot of the attitudes of the locals seemed to be rather stuck in their ways and small minded in terms of forward thinking. For example, I saw many posters with 'It's okay to vote no' (in reference to voting for the policy of allowing gay marriage to become legal) and also the only place that offered wifi was the town's (shitty) library which only allowed you a 100mb limit per day (barely enough to check and respond to your emails) not to mention they banned you from visiting sites like YouTube. They seemed to be proud of their old fashioned ways (boasting the only place with wifi in the whole town), however we found that a bit unusual. But anyway some of the people are kinda cooky, and we actually got car chased out of Tully by two psychopath's who were clearly on drugs (and looking for a fight) by shouting abuse at us from their car (probably didn't help the situation when I flipped them the middle one though-oops!).
So due to quite literally being chased away in the fear of serious harm or death (there should have been an auzzie sign warning about the locals there), we managed to find our way to Mission Beach which was absolutely stunning. We spent just a few hours enjoying the view and playing chess before deciding to hit up the gym and get the hell out of that area (the two crazy people car chasing us took our photos and we were worried they had some sort of gang members looking for us). So we made our way to Innisfail where we camped at the sweetest little free camp stop (with heaps of other backpackers camped there), next to a highway of bountiful, banana fields.
Our next stop was Cairns (which was only a relatively short drive from Innisfail) and was the end of the leg of our journey. Quite unfortunately for us though, Mother Nature decided she would like it to pour down with rain for a solid week. With the copious amount of rain being the main reason that I initially left the UK, it was fair to say I was not a happy bunny. I mean yes rain is great for the environment but it’s not so great when you’re stuck in a van (which leaks leaving everything damp). I was also kinda gutted as there were a few cool nature spots I wanted to check out, but not so much in the rain. So after a few days of mooching about in libraries and shopping centers, we decided to take a trip further up North to Port Douglas (where the weather was an incy bit better).
All I can say is wow. What a place. What a beautiful, beautiful place. Even the drive up was amazing as it was a coastal drive (about an hour up from Cairns) with beautiful scenery to pass the time by. We stopped at a little look our where we saw someone about to go paragliding which was pretty cool. The main strip itself is awesome and also reminds me a bit of Byron Bay (perhaps a more upper class version as everything in Port Douglas is expensive as shit!). Lucky for us we managed to find a cheeky lunch time deal at one of the Asian restaurants though.
I think that because it was so expensive and upmarket (with giant fancy houses everywhere), they weren’t exactly too backpacker friendly. There were no camping signs plastered everywhere, and even the actual camp sites were really pricey (making things tricky for the backpackers who don’t want to spend the little money that they do have). But low and behold, thanks to Wikicamps and a very kind local, we managed to find a couple sneaky spaces to camp. Also, if you are planning to visit, make sure you check out their Sunday market which is quite big and has awesome clothes, jewerly and food stores (I couldn’t resist some vegan gluten free Jaffa cakes-which were incredible by the way).
Althouh Port Douglas was stunning, in the rain it was still tricky to find activities to do (without getting completely soaked which isn’t fun for van living). But we did find (on bookme.com) a cheap deal for the Wildlife Habitat Sanctuary which was an absolute blast! It was such a fun day out and I like that it’s more of an open sanctuary, where the animals can mainly roam around free within their areas and interact with humans if they wish (humans have a path way they must walk on whereas the animals can go where they like-apart from the croc’s who i’m happy to say didn’t have the freedom of roaming around us).
The highlight of the day though was definitely being able to feed the wallabies and kangaroos, who were the absolute sweetest of beings! Who knew kangaroos loved belly scratches so much! (But as a side note I probably wouldn’t try that in the wild-unless you want to potentially get kicked or punched in the face). The wallabies I found though, were a lot more shy and reserved and only Henrik got to charm one of them into eating out of his hand. So yeah it was a great place and if you’re a bird fan, I think you would be in bird heaven as they had heaps of exotic and interesting birds (all native to Australia). Including the infamous Cassowary (an ancient bird which is believed to be linked back to the Dinosaw ages-but then again so are chickens). But it was still awesome to see one so up close, even though we did spot a wild one near the road on the way to Mission Beach.
Mossman & Daintree-
So if you had a little further up north (about a 20/30 minute drive or so), you’ll reach Mossman (a relatively small town which boasts heaps of cosy coffee shops and the start of the Daintree region). When we first drove up to Mossman, we were trapped in this giant storm which absolutely bucketed it down with rain. It was kind of scary as we were parked near by a creek (with crocodile warning signs) and next to this gigantic tree, which we thought would fall on us due to the lightening and crush us to death! We ended up moving about 2am due to these fears of being flooded and stuck with the crocs and Mushi (the van) being left in two pieces. However luckily, we survived safe, sound and soaking as the rain had got in and covered about 60% of my side of the bed (typical). Now I think I know why they call it the ‘wet tropics’ (crushing my misconception of up north being a constantly sunny place).
So whilst we were in the area I really, really wanted to visit the Daintree rainforest (the planet’s oldest rainforest of 180 million years-making it older than the amazon). However it was continuously tipping it down and Mushi would definitely not survive the drive. We did however (to satisfy my travel bug needs) manage to do a croc watching tour down the Daintree River where we finally got to see some wild crocs! Due to all of the rain, the crocs were all laying on the river banks (rather than lurking in the water) because the rain made the water too cold for them. Which I was half happy about as this significantly reduced our chances of being dragged or the boat and eaten alive, yet also half sad as I was hoping to see one up close.
Cairns (The Great Barrier Reef)-
We spent our final couple of days back in Cairns, as that’s where my flight to Melbourne was leaving from (as my visa was exspiring very soon and have therefore decided to go to India to do a yoga instructor course). When we arrived back in Cairns this time, finally the five day storm was over and there was no more rain-hallelujah! I had yet again managed to convince Henrik to do a snorkeling tour of the Great Barrier Reef (which I went on to convince him to dive instead as we had the option to on the boat).
It was Henrik’s first time ever diving and he absolutely loved it! I also had such a great time diving (although a little anxious at first as I hadn’t dived since when I started my travelling in June 2016 in the British Virgin Islands). Once I got over my first initial nerves, it was blissfully beautiful. The Great Barrier Reef really lived up to its name and I couldn’t even tell you how many beautiful and unique fish I saw. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to spot any sharks (as they’re apparently more likely to see on night dives), but I did see a huge turtle resting at the bottom of the ocean. So yeah, the tour was great and they even provided a cold buffet (which actually once again had numerous vegan and gluten free options-good work Australia!!).
We spent our last couple of evenings enjoying the night markets in Cairns, where we got take out and played chess next to the sea, which was quite romantic and beautiful. (I still haven’t actually managed to successfully win a game of chess yet, but came awfully close a few times). The thought of being apart from Henrik was really sad, especially as we have quite literally spent every single day together for the past six months (usually people would end up killing each other by now). But the thought of it wasn’t actually as sad as the reality of it. I definitely shed a few tears whilst going through security, and Henrik admits he may have shed a few whilst drinking his morning coffee in the van..alone (I hope he doesn’t read this haha). But anyway, I’m excited for my new journey in India and I look forward to when we reunite again (mid/late December).
I spent the next two nights enjoying the luxury of a comfy double bed, and a fridge filled with vegan delights at my aunties in Melbourne. Not to mention the long missed company of the cat, Lily and the old pooch, Cooper. It was quite surreal to be back after having previously lived there in Melbourne for 5.5 months, yet being away for 6.5 months. Nevertheless it still felt like home and I was trying to make the most of living in luxury for a couple days until I headed off to India (where luxury will be sparce).
To sum up my trip of these past several weeks (and the whole of my time in Australia really), it’s really been more than I could even begin to imagine, expect or hope for. I’ve met some incredible like minded people, taken part in meaningful events (completely my Reiki level 2, protesting against slaughter houses and attending a vegan advocacy course-all in Melbourne); fallen in love and have learned how to accept and love myself for who I am, with all of my many flaws). What a hell of a trip it’s been, I can’t wait to reminisce about these times when I’m old and grey (but for now I will continue to live life to the fullest, consciously choosing happiness each and every day).
(Keep your eyes out for my upcoming blogs which will be about my journey in India, where I’ll be travelling, completing a yoga instructor course and catching up with my mum who I haven’t seen since early June 2016)!
To help support this blog and get yourself a FREE 30 day trail with audible, click on the link below. If you want to be able to travel long-term too, then I would definitely recommend downloading the audio book 'Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel' by Rolf Potts (you won't regret it).