31 December 2014

Goodbye 2014!

2014 has been turbulent to say the least!

I suffered a major loss in January which made the first few months particularly difficult.

I lived away from my family and friends and worked in a job that just paid the bills (but also met some fantastic people who picked me up whenever I was down).

Then I finally plucked up the courage to pack it in, move back up North and embark upon the most amazing backpacking adventure for the last 3 months of the year.

I'm looking forward to another trip of a lifetime in 2015 and building a career where I live to work, not work to live.

To all my friends, old and new, whenever you are in the world: I wish you all a Happy New Year and I can't wait for us to make some more incredible memories together!


22 December 2014

Saturated Sydney and the End of our Aussie Adventure

The Travelling Series

We travelled down the east coast from Byron Bay on an overnight bus to get to Sydney. 

As our stay in Byron got cut short, we had over one week to spend in the famous Australian city. Therefore we just about had time to do all of the typical touristy things!

We went to Bondi Beach which was lovely, however I remember thinking that there were so many posers on it! People were parading around in skimpy swimwear thinking they were the best things since sliced bread and this was a little off-putting, if I'm honest. 

I absolutely loved the bridge, harbour and - of course - the Opera House. It was super impressive and exceeded all of my expectations.

Other backpackers recommended that we also visit Manly, a suburb in Sydney, with a nice beach. It was fun but the best thing about it is the ferry ride there and back as it has amazing views of the city.

Sydney itself was okay but I actually preferred Brisbane, which some people may be shocked at. I liked how Brisbane was a lot more compact and easier to get around, with all the shops on one street. Sydney is so spread out and the shopping areas are a little disjointed. Plus Brisbane seemed cleaner and less busy. Sydney reminded me a bit of London; there were crowds of people everywhere and a lot of rushing around.

I enjoyed Sydney but I wish we had the time and money to have been able to make it to Melbourne, as we have been told numerous times that this is the best city in Australia. But I'm happy that we managed to do what we did and make it home in one piece on 9th December.

All in all, our three month travelling trip has been incredible. I'm so glad I followed a dream and did it - it's opened my eyes a lot more and given me perspective on my life back home. 

I've realised how lucky I am to come from a wealthy country with prospects and a good quality of life. I appreciate the things I have a whole lot more now and will try not to take anything for granted in the future. 

I've also been so lucky to meet so many great people from all over the world. I'll forever be thankful to my international friends and I hope we see each other again soon!

People ask me if I've changed and I tend to say 'same same, but different'. (Anyone who's ever been to Bangkok will understand that!) I'm still the same person as I was before but it's my ideals that have altered quite significantly, as well as my outlook and reflection on life.

What's next for me? Well, I have some very exciting news: my travels aren't over yet.

To be continued... 


P.S - How amazing is this lego Christmas tree in the heart of Sydney?! A very Merry Christmas to you all! 

P.P.S - And a Happy New Year!

16 December 2014

Brisbane and the Beauty that is Byron Bay

The Travelling Series

Whilst travelling around, a lot of backpackers complained about Brisbane and how it's just another city and there isn't much to do. However, when we arrived, we found it a refreshing change to be back in a big city again with more going on than just a beach. 

Brisbane is quite clean and feels fairly modern. All the shops are in one place on Queens Street and there are also some super shiny malls which reminded me of Singapore. There's an arts and culture section across the river which was fun to explore, as well as a lagoon. 

My favourite thing that we did while we were there is take the thirty minute bus ride out of town to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. This is a bit like a mini zoo with a focus on koalas and other Australian wildlife, such as kangaroos and dingoes.

Whilst we were there we were able to get up close and personal with the animals, from stroking koalas to feeding the kangaroos. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a big kid at heart and I absolutely love the zoo, so this was an amazing day for me!

Another thing that I loved about Brisbane was the Christmas lights, decorations and music playing around the city. It's the first time I'd actually felt Christmassy since we'd been away - as it's difficult to get into the spirit in 30 degree heat - and I really enjoyed the festive atmosphere. 

After Brisbane we travelled to Byron Bay, another beach town famous for surfing. It's slightly bigger than Airlie and has a bit more going on. 

Main Beach is beautiful but the weather wasn't great while we were there - I think we managed a couple of half days sunbathing on the sand and that's about it. 

I really liked Byron but it was 'schoolies' week while we were there; this is when Australia's 18-year-olds break up from school/college and have a two week bender to celebrate. There were a lot of drunken idiots about and it actually cut our trip short because we wanted to stay for five nights but there was only accommodation available for three. 

I'm glad we got the chance to go though as we had a lot of fun there (when it wasn't raining)!

Then it was time to head to the place that we'd both been waiting for: Sydney. 



13 December 2014

The Irony of Rainbow Beach and the Overhyped Fraser Island

The Travelling Series

Anyone who's travelled along the east coast of Australia knows that there's a specific touristic route which everybody takes. This includes either Rainbow Beach or Hervey Bay in order to take the ferry trip across to Fraser Island. 

When faced with the decision of where to stay in order to go to Fraser Island, we chose the place which sounded the nicest: Rainbow Beach. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake as Rainbow Beach is so small; there's a couple of shops/caf├ęs and a few crappy hostels but that's about it. The beach is the main attraction but we didn't get to make the most of it as it rained the whole time we were there. 

I didn't think Fraser Island was as amazing as everybody makes out either, but it's still worth a visit!

It's the largest sand island in the world and the only way to get around is by a four wheel drive. We took a day trip out there in a Fraser Island Explorer Tours bus and driving around was actually really fun. It's so bumpy driving on the sand - it feels like you're on a ride at a theme park!

I loved getting to paddle in Lake MacKenzie as it's made up of super clear fresh water which makes it very pretty. We also got to see the famous Pinnacle coloured sands and Maheno shipwreck, as well as wade through Eli Creek.

The best bit about the tour was getting to see some wild dingoes in their natural environment. We were driving along the beach when we spotted two and it was really exciting! 

There's a couple of other attractions that we didn't get to see as we only did the day trip. I'm glad I got to experience the island but I wouldn't feel the need to go again. 

Until next time!



12 December 2014

Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays

The Travelling Series

After Cairns, we took an overnight bus to the lovely little town of Airlie Beach.

It was from Airlie that we went cruising around the Whitsundays Islands.

First up was Daydream Island where we got to visit the largest outdoor living reef in Australia. The aquarium was complete with sharks, sting rays and Nemo fish, amongst other amazing sea life. We also got to feed some fish whilst paddling in the sea and have them swarm around us, which was a pretty cool experience!

We then headed to Hamilton Island where we had a picnic for lunch. The only way to get around this island is via golf buggy - I've never seen so many of them in one place! Unfortunately there wasn't time for us to rent one otherwise I'd be well up for that - they look so fun to drive! 

After Hamilton we headed to Whitsunday Island to visit the famous Whitehaven beach. It's now one of my favourite beaches due to the super soft sand which is ultra fine! It also never heats above 20 degrees which means you can walk on it at any time of the day without burning your feet, unlike most beaches. It's truly stunning and lives up to all the hype.

Airlie Beach was actually one of my favourite stops in Oz due to the Whitsundays trip, but also because the place itself is small, cute and charming. It has the biggest and best lagoon, as well as a really pretty harbour. Furthermore, all the shops, bars and restaurants are on one strip - it's an ideal place for a holiday. 

Coming up after the break: Rainbow Beach and Fraser Island. 



7 December 2014

G'Day from Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef

The Travelling Series

We flew from Auckland to Cairns via Brisbane in order to begin our Aussie adventure down the east coast. 

We had a bit of a culture shock when we arrived as Australia is quite different from New Zealand! Some things that I learned in a mere few hours after our arrival include: the tap water tastes disgusting, Red Hot Chilli Peppers are overplayed everywhere and people ask you 'how you going?' instead of 'how are you?' (I found this totally bizarre!) 

In addition, the weather is warmer, the people are more in your face and I have never seen so many beaches in my life! 

It's also quite common in the North for cities to have a 'lagoon' adjacent to the beach; this is basically a large outdoor pool for the public to swim in so that they don't get attacked by the marine stingers in the sea at this time of year.

In the few days that we were in Cairns, we visited a beach called Kewarra. We got the bus there and, as we hopped off, the driver remarked: 'have fun and watch out for the crocodiles!' We laughed along thinking it was a joke, but soon later realised that he was being deadly serious due to the posters plastered everywhere warning the public about the jellyfish and sharks in the water, as well as the crocodiles. It's crazy - we'd never have these kinds of problems in England! 

As well as visiting Kewarra Beach, we also went to Green Island off the coast of Cairns to see some inner parts of the Great Barrier Reef.

After my unfortunate diving experience in Thailand, I decided I wanted to stay dry for this one - so we got the ferry to Green Island and then sailed over the Great Barrier Reef in a glass bottom boat. We saw turtles, eagle rays and Dory from Finding Nemo, amongst plenty of other fish. 

When we hopped off the boat, we were absolutely buzzing! Then Kane spotted something colossal in the water. 'Katie, look! A wild dolphin.' No, Kane - that doesn't look like a dolphin. Try again. 'Katie, look! A shark!' 

That's right, we saw a shark - just casually swimming in the sea. I'd never seen a shark in it's natural environment before and the scary thing about it was that there were snorkelers ten feet away from it pleasantly minding their own business. I never thought I'd be in a situation where I legitimately had to shout 'SHARK' at people in the water! 

It hovered for a bit then luckily decided to swim in the opposite direction without hurting anybody. 

We found out afterwards that it was probably only a reef shark, which is pretty harmless. But still, a shark is a shark to me! 

After Cairns we headed down the east coast to a lovely little town called Airlie Beach.

To be continued...


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