People tended to look at me with a mixture of surprise and disbelief when I answered that I would only be in Australia for 2 weeks. When I explained that it was the most expensive country I was going to in a much longer overall trip it seemed to make more sense but even then they weren't sure how I was possibly going to fit everything in that Australia had to offer and they were right! I wasn't even going to have time to fit in everything to see on the East Coast! Having said that I do feel I managed to cram in as many good bits as I could in my time and am leaving Australia now wanting more... I'll definitely be back for some more of Oz in the future!
Sydney was just such a fantastic introduction to life down under and I could see from the start why people would want to move out here. The city certainly made a fantastic impression on me; from the spectacular harbour, to the beautiful botanical gardens, to the stunning beaches. My first day here I did the good old free walking tours and took in as much as I possibly could of what the city had to offer me during my stay. Then over the next few days I explored The Rocks - an area where the convicts had first settled when they set up the colony, and which now is the oldest part of town full of quirky pubs and museums, the Harbour Bridge (which I nearly got blown off walking along it was so windy!), and the Opera House from as many different angles as possible, the botanical gardens and of course the beaches!
We devoted an entire day to visiting Bondi beach but actually spent most of our time at Bronte beach a much more beautiful cove just a short walk down the cliffs from Bondi. My last day in Sydney I caught the ferry over the bay to Manly beach allowing me even more photo shots of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House from out on the water - stunning. The only bad thing was the awful news about the bush fires burning not far from where I was...we could even see the thick rancid smoke one day as it drifted over the city blocking out the normally bright blue sky.
From Sydney I headed north to Byron Bay and it was there that I got to expand on my new found daredevil streak. I launched myself into surfing most unsuccessfully it has to be said, though I did manage to stand on a board for all of about 5 seconds which I am counting! It was so fun and though I came out a bit bruised and achy at the end (surfboards are actually quite heavy!) I loved the experience! My second day in Byron carried on in much the same fashion as I jumped out of a plane at 1400ft. Still can't believe I actually did it and how weirdly calm I kept leading up to it! One of the best things I have ever done!
I was sad to leave Byron which was such a chilled out place with cute cafés and laid back backpacker vibe, and didn't particularly enjoy my next stop at Surfers Paradise. It is pretty much the Benidorm or Malia of Australia, a party town with high-rise hotels and fast food restaurants. To be fair I only had one night there and was on my own so perhaps if I had been in a group with friends I would have enjoyed the city more.
Noosa my next point of call, I much preferred and reminded me of Byron. I would have spent more time here exploring the actual town had I had more time but as it was I was off one day at Australia Zoo (Steve Irwin the crocodile hunter's zoo) and then on to Fraser Island with a group for the weekend. The zoo rendered me a kid again with all of the koalas to pat, kangaroos to feed, baby tiger cubs to coo at and then the most humongousest crocs you ever did see! Fraser island was such a fantastic weekend with new found friends, camping, swimming in creeks and stunning lakes and the hilarity of trying (and failing several times) to drive over sand in jeeps without getting stuck. One of the highlights of Oz for sure.
My time in Australia finished in Brisbane where I had time to relax a bit after a whirlwind 2 weeks. Brisbane was like a smaller version of London, on the river, with South Bank there the place to hang out, lie on the man-made beach and visit the cinema.
Australia you have been an absolute blast and I have no doubt that I will be back one day to pick up where I left off- so much still unseen- Melbourne, Perth, Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef!