After my last blog update I spent 2 weeks in Newcastle where I worked 2 hours a day for accommodation. This involved cleaning the hostel (making beds, cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen) from 10am-12pm in a team of about 5 people. The work was really easy, the group was great and it was really nice to stay in one place for long enough to relax without feeling the need to rush around to see and do everything in a short space of time. I spent most of my afternoons reading either on the beach or balcony and visited the Ocean Baths a couple of times which is a free swimming pool filled with sea water. I decided to work in Newcastle so that I could save money and the hostel was great for that because they also offered 4 free meals a week. I was also given one day off so I took a bus to Nelsons Bay in Port Stephens which is a very small town but has some nice scenery. I was ready to leave by the end of the 2 weeks, looking forward to my next destination, but was a little sad to leave the people I had met and somewhere that I felt so comfortable!
I finally left Newcastle on Monday 26th April and took an 11 hour bus overnight to Byron Bay. It wasnt a very pleasant journey as I just couldnt get comfortable enough to sleep properly but I was able to check into my room and nap for a couple of hours when I arrived in Byron at 7am. Later that day, after wandering around the lovely little town full of cafes and shops, I took a long walk to Cape Byron Lighthouse which is the most easterly point of Australia. There were lovely views from up there and,had it not been quite so hot, the walk would have been lovely too! I really really liked Byron, probably one of my favourite places so far! It had such a chilled out atmosphere and it was so picturesque which surprised me because its such a popular tourist destination, I expected it to be quite commercialised.
I took a day trip from Byron Bay to Nimbin which is a hippy town nearby, famous for its Hemp Embassy which is the Headquarters for campaigns to legalise Cannabis in Australia. It was a very strange place, not a lot to do there, full of random shops centred around cannabis. It even had a museum which was definitely the strangest museum I have ever been to! It was so crowded with random artefacts yet I dont think I actually learnt anything while I was there! But it was an experience and probably the most colourful town I have ever been to...
Whilst in Byron Bay Lisa came to visit me for a night out which was really nice because I hadnt seen her since the weekend I left the farm in February. We caught up over a few drinks and sampled the famous backpacker club, Cheeky Monkeys.
The following day I travelled to Surfers Paradise where I spent two days. I get the impression that Surfers is Australia's answer to Las Vegas, its all about excessive shopping, eating and drinking which isnt great for a backpacker on a budget! Such a huge contrast from Byron Bay, but Im glad I tried it. I went on 'The Backpackers Big Night Out' which was a pub crawl reminiscent of 'Freshers' but a cool place to celebrate my birthday! I also met some lovely English girls, Nikki and Gemma, who bought me birthday cake. The next day, my actual birthday, I went further up the Coast, about 5 hours, to Noosa. There I met a lovely German girl, Marina, and we went for dinner and birthday cake. I spent the following 3 days in Noosa. Its a really beautiful place, with lovely beaches surrounded by a National Park. Unfortunately it rained a little while I was there and there really is nothing to do in the rain but I attempted a short walk in the National Park where I saw koalas and wandered around the small town full of hotels, expensive shops and restaurants. I also met up with Nikki and Gemma again and we took the bus to Eumundi to go to some markets. They were amazing, absolutely huge!! Had I not been on a budget and weight restricted I could have spent a fortune. I allowed myself a handbag which I defnitely needed....
From Noosa I took a bus to Hervey Bay where I spent one day. There isn't really anything there but it is used as a base to travel to Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world. Fraser Island is incredibly beautiful, like nowhere I have ever been before. The centre is all bush land and it is surrounded by beaches. I took a guided tour on a huge bus, the island is only accessible to 4WD's. Some of the tracks were a bit like being on a rollercoaster as there are no paved roads! I spent 3 days there, they have lots of lakes which are beautifully clear and lovely to swim in. We were given so much good food, I feel like I have doubled my body weight, and I was in a really great group so had a really good time. When I booked the trip I actually thought that 3 days would be too long but it was well worth it! I got back to Hervey Bay last night and took a 12 hour Greyhound bus overnight to Airlie Beach. Fortunately this time I was able to sleep and I had company as Clara, who I met on Fraser Island, was doing the same journey. I am waiting here for Laura who I will meet at midnight tonight and will hopefully spend most of the day with Clara. Its so nice to have company! And I am, of course, extremely excited to see Laura!
For pictures from the East Coast so far: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=108039&id=223101243&l=cab9aef4fa
Photos from Fraser Island to follow shortly.
Thanks to everyone who remembered my birthday and sent txts/called! x