Last year, when travelling was still allowed and possible, I spent 6 months in Australia. I was here for my internship for my bachelor. The internship itself was four months, which means I spend another 8 weeks travelling! I decided to spend these weeks travelling down the east coast, a popular choice for backpackers in Australia. I travelled all the way from Cairns to Melbourne, which meant I was travelling towards colder weather. Unfortunately, this also meant I was travelling in the opposite direction as all the other backpackers. But it was just not practical to do it the other way around, as I was already living in Cairns for several months.
If you are thinking about travelling up or down the east coast yourself. It is important to keep in mind the weather, as the seasons are opposite from the northern hemisphere. Where Cairns has its wet season from January to March and Melbourne has winter from June till August. Last time talked about the first part of my trip where I visited the Daintree Rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef, Magnetic Island, the Whitsunday’s and Fraser Island. And today I will dive into the second half of my trip down the east coast of Australia; where I visited the everglades in Noosa, the Blue Mountains, Byron Bay, Yamba, the Great Ocean Road and the main cities: Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
After my time on Fraser Island, I made the short bus trip to Noose. One of the other places I was extremely excited about. Noosa is very popular under backpackers for the restaurants and bars. But I wanted to go there for a different reason. Noose also has 1 of the 2 everglades that there are on this planet, the other one is in Florida. As well as a national park located right next to the little town! I spent several days here, partly to relax from the busy trip to Fraser Island and to be able to enjoy the walks in the national park over different hikes.
And to spend some hours kayaking in the everglade! I thought it was going to be a nice and relaxing day of peddling through the beautiful landscapes. But how was I mistaken? Our starting point was at a big lake at the edge of the Everglades. Which meant we had to cross that before entering the nice little rivers and creeks. The wind was strong that day and there were waves on the lake. It took me a lot of energy to cross that lake and I also got stuck on sandbank ones. But then I finally made it to the other side!
And from here it was the relaxing trip I had in mind. The trees made sure we were protected from the wind. All I could hear were the birds and after every turn, it was a surprise what you would see. We had a map where the route was showed on which also showed a place to take a break and stretch your legs. And halfway the time it was also time to head back to the place we started. And at the very end crossing the lake again, I thought the first time was heavy. But this time we also had the wind directly in front of us. I wanted to give up many times, but that was a bit complicated in the middle of a lake…
Noosa National Park
The days after this trip I had very sore arms and shoulders so I went hiking instead. I made several hikes through the Noose National Park. Which were all quite friendly, the height differences were minimal and the paths were on very good condition. At the lookout point, you can often spot dolphins but I was not that lucky, unfortunately. And you can make the hikes as long as you want. As several of the paths are connected at different points. And you can also spot koala’s if you are lucky!
After all these weeks of travelling it was time to visit a big city again. Arriving in Brisbane I was not planning on staying here long as I don’t really like cities. And not only is Brisbane a city, but also mainly businesses, not much to see or do here. But my laptop charger died and it took a few days for the shop to get a new one for me. Which meant I had to stay longer than expected. What I did like in Brisbane is the free boat ferry’s they run along the river. You can get in and out on any of the stops and explore the area. Or do like me and just sit the whole trip out and enjoy the scenery!
After I finally had my new laptop charger I hopped on the bus to the next destination; Byron Bay! Byron Bay is immensely popular under backpackers for the nightlife. I am everything but a party girl and therefore this place was not as much fun as expected for me. But there is always something beautiful to find. One of them is the hike to the most eastern point of Australia! Also, I got a tip from somebody about a tiny patch of swamp/rainforest that was left. Located at the edge of the village with a nice boardwalk. And of course the beaches.
One day I was having a relaxing day at the beach, napping under the warm sun. The high tied was coming up, so the beach was already getting smaller rapidly. But nobody expected the following the happen; At one point there was such a huge wave that came in that the whole beach just disappeared! As mentioned, I was napping, but I managed to get up and grab my stuff just on time. While many many others did not manage and had to gather their stuff fully soaked and coated in the sand… Never a boring day in Australia!
Originally I was planning to travel the east coast between Byron Bay and Sydney completely. But as it was not the most optimal time of the year. And most of these places were just popular for surfing. I decided to only visit Yamba and then go back to Byron Bay for the night bus to Sydney. As the distances are so big in Australia, taking the night bus saved me a night of accommodation. And gives me more time to explore
The choice for Yamba was made by the diversity this little place has to offer. The hostel I was staying in had a nice trip through Yamba and the surroundings which included some cliff jumping. And there were many places to make beautiful hikes. And like all the other places, beautiful beaches. Remember you can spot dolphins in Noosa? You can also spot them here! And this time I was much luckier, plenty of dolphins playing in the waves. All with a beautiful sunset as a background.
Now it was time to visit the famous Syndey and its attractions. But as mentioned before, I do not really like cities. So after seeing the opera house, visiting bondi beach and making a boattrip to other parts of the city I felt the need to leave the busy streets. I spend another day in the botinacal garden and then I decided it was time to buy a train ticket and go into the mountains.
And not just any mountains, I was going to the blue mountains! Another highlight of my trip down the east coast of Australia. It was so much more beautiful than I expected, but also so much colder! Lucky I bought an extra sweater just before I boarded the train. I first planned on being there for just 2 days, but already after my first hike, I realised I wanted to stay much longer. Every day I made another hike through the park. Many of them were advised by the owner of the hostel and very well explained.
Making long and tough hikes through the park every day was heavy and exhausting, but it was definitely worth it! The height differences are immense and the paths were often slippery and uneven. But the views were just extraordinary. My favourite hike, and also the most difficult, was the hike through the valley. First, you had do make a long and steep descent to get to the bottom. It was so beautiful, lush and moist and many little creek crossings. I could have stayed there for the whole day. But unfortunately, after about an hour, you also had to make the long and steep way up again.
After the many hikes and an extra day of relaxing again in Sydney it was time for the next city; Melbourne. I had about a week left before my flight back home. So I took it nice and slow. I took a guided tour through the city, spend a day in the free tram that goes through the city. But I also spend some days just relaxing at the hostel, all these fully packed weeks were exhausting. I wanted to visit the penguin population just south of the city, but I never got the energy and motivation for it. Something I do regret now!
Great ocean road
But the main reason why I came to Melbourne was the great ocean road! As well as the ticket home was cheaper than from Sydney… But it was definitely worth it! As you can see on the pictures the weather was not in my favour, it was windy and cold. The views were still beautiful! I only had a 1-day trip but our guide made sure we saw as much as possible. We have seen different parts of the great ocean road, as well as koalas and kangaroos and extra stops to see beautiful views. He even made us taste Vegemite ice cream. which I do not recommend to try…
If you have the opportunity I definitely advise you to do this at your own pace with a (rental) car. But if you do not have this possibility, like me, a day trip is still worth it! And there is so much more to see than just the 12 apostles. This day trip was the perfect ending of my 7 weeks of travelling down the east coast of Australia. I think about this trip often and I really hope that one day I can go back to Australia. Revisit my favourite places, and explore new areas.