A Travellerspoint blog

Airlie Beach & The Whitsundays - Oz East Coast Adventure

Sailing Paradise

sunny 28 °C
View Our adventure on amiee1992's travel map.

Airlie beach is a beautifully small seaside town visited by many as the starting hub for trips to the famous Whitsunday coast in Queensland. A series of small shops and a handful of lively backpacker bars and hostels line the main street which backs onto a huge lagoon on the beachfront. Everything was in easy walking distance, perfect for our pre-sailing trip shopping (mainly goon, sickness tablets and suncream). This time on arrival to our backpacker digs, we were greeted by a group of Germans playing drinking games on the floor. Not ideal after a long bus journey.. so we headed for the hostel bar for a cheap dinner and got chatting to another lovely couple from Manchester.




We were booked onto a 2 day sailing trip around the Whitsundays onboard the famous 'Siska'. After another early get-up we arrived at the pier and met our group and crew for the next 2 days. It was a VERY windy morning, despite being hot and sunny, which proved for an interesting day ahead. After a short introduction and being shown to our bunks, we all headed up on deck to set sail towards the islands. A few of us pitched in to help hoist the sails before taking a seat for the journey. Along with the other dumb arses on board, we thought it would be a great idea to be at the front of the boat with our legs dangled over the edge and thought we were in for a few hours of 'hands in the air, whooping' behaviour with the wind in our hair as the boat picked up speed. Such dumb arses. Instead, picture this, a group of five morons huddled in hoodies and absolutely soaked through, close to tears every time a huge wave crashed over our heads! Let us tell you.. the glorious sunshine does nothing for you when your reaching such fast speeds in a rough sea!

Our miserable mugs were soon transformed when we arrived at the paradise which is Whitehaven. The Whitsundays are a selection of protected islands on the Great Barrier Reef. Whilst some of these islands have huge tourist resorts for the rich and famous, many of them are deserted national parks only visited by day trippers. After arriving at Whitsunday island, we began our climb up to the Hill Inlet lookout point. The morning's suffering obviously wasn't enough for Dan, as he then decided to split his toe kicking a rock. He bled out all over the viewing platform as we stood in awe of the view before us. The tidal shifts had created the most beautiful pattern of white silica sand and crystal clear turquoise water. The whole group were ecstatic as we ran onto the beach, the fine white sand squeezing under our bare feet. We paddled together in the water spotting sting ray and reef sharks before separating to capture the photo opportunities. The remaining hour or so was spent relaxing in the sun, where we all bonded through a group cat nap. The morning of shivering and being soaked through must have worn us out. We were in the most beautiful place most of us had ever visited, yet we CLOSED our eyes and fell asleep! TYPICAL BACKPACKER BEHAVIOUR.


We climbed back aboard Siska for more sailing to our destination for the night. Thank god the sea was calmer and we could all enjoy getting to know each other over red cups of goon as the sun set in the distance.


After a delicious dinner cooked by our chef Oyster, most of the group decided to play Uno, but us and our 'Fresh out of Essex' gal pal Dawn thought we were way too cool for that. Instead we chatted absolute waffle and laughed until our belly hurt. Theres something about brushing your teeth up on deck, surrounded by the dark pacific ocean, as you look up at the starry night sky..


Amiee rose bright an early, before even the crew were awake, and climbed up onto the deck. The sun was just rising over the horizon and there was nothing but the peaceful morning ocean in sight. Day two was snorkelling day. Our new favourite activity in Oz. We couldn't wait to throw a wetsuit on a jump into the warm sea. We literally could not move for tropical fish. There were hundreds, some so close to our goggles staring us in the eye just asking to be chased. Again, we spent as long as possible exploring the coral hand in hand, shocked faces, pointing at the weird and wonderful fish. After lunch we headed for another beautiful island. We chose to do some more snorkelling rather than lay on the beach, and we are so glad we did! A small group of us were on a mission to spot a turtle. After persevering for a while, there it was.. a huge turtle cruising casually along. We hoped he didn't mind being followed for almost half an hour by a few amazed travellers, who occasionally stroked his shell and grinned excitedly at him every time he came to the surface for a breather. When we reached the rest of our group on the beach, we all ran over to boast. The boys who were with us each went to their significant others to tell them what had just happened.. 'We followed a turtle for ages' was exaggerated to 'We followed a massive turtle for miles' and so on.. We all joked about the skilled storytellers of the group!


Then it was time to sail back to the Australian mainland again, where we had a fun night out with friends we had made previously and our new Siska family. After a hangover day at the lagoon, some stand up paddle boarding, and a big barbecue lunch, it was time to move on to play Bikers in the quiet town of Agnes Waters.

Posted by amiee1992 23:34 Archived in Australia Tagged snorkelling sailing whitsundays great_barrier_reef turtle whitehaven_beach airlie_beach Comments (1)

Magnetic Island - Oz East Coast Adventure

A quick stopover on beautiful Maggie Island

sunny 28 °C
View Our adventure on amiee1992's travel map.

Our overnight trip to Magnetic Island started off with a bit of a stutter due to our already long bus journey from Cairns to Townsville being delayed, making us miss the 2:15 ferry. This unfortunately meant we had even less time to spend on the island. Magnetic island is only 52km2 in size, has a population of just over 2000 people and apparently the name “magnetic island” is due to the “magnetic“ effect the islands had on the ships compass Captain James Cook sailed on his route up the east coast in the 1770’s.

Our ferry there was quick and peaceful with some beautifully scenic views of the small island on the way, and of course we had our eagle eyes out ready to spot a curious dolphin or a friendly turtle. Once arriving at our hostel, we were really surprised at how nice it was. We were bunked in a small wooded 6 bed mix cabin with ocean view and you could literally walk from your room a few steps to the beach, which was perfect. Due to how late in the day it was, we simply had a look around the hostel and ate a bag of crisps on the beach and watched the sun set across the calm sea.


In the morning we got up in time for the first bus, checked out and made our way to the Koala Sanctuary on the island. The bus journey was a good way to see the island as it was the only bus and so stopped at most of the main neighbourhoods and tourist stops. The surroundings were so idyllic. Cute 'Queenslander' styled houses, kids playing together in the streets, whilst the sun shone on the tropical trees and plants. And don't even get us started on the birds. The craziest of birds just chilling everywhere. While we have pigeons, these guys have white yellow crested cockatoos.




We nearly missed our stop because we weren't expecting it to take only 20 minutes to get to the complete opposite side of the island (and because we were too busy gawping). The tour of the koala sanctuary started off with an introduction from the small but eccentric tour guide. He started off by comically offending everyone on the tour then him self before letting us in on some information on the first animals, the turtles, and letting us hold them. The park is really small but with the number of animals, how friendly the tour guides and volunteers were and not having an oversized group made the experience feel personal. You get to interact with the animals a lot. Holding a wombat and getting molested by lizards was a highlight for us.The best thing about the tour by miles was getting the cuddle to hold Matilda the koala. It was a really cheap add on and it was amazing, apart from Amiee getting pooed on. You do get a professional photo and they let you use your own camera which was great. Overall the park was great and worth a visit.

Our next bus to Airlie Beach was later on that same day so we decided to spend lunch at Horseshoe bay and have fish and chips on the beach. The bay was amazing, one of the best we have seen along the east coast. It also has a line of palm trees leaning over the white sandy beach and Amiee couldn't resist a good photo opportunity.


There is still a lot to do on the small island such as walks, boat trips. snorkelling, and we would have loved to rent a topless barbie car and drive around the island. Our stay was short and sweet and we wished we had planned to spend more time there.


Posted by amiee1992 03:37 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches lizards koala bays stopover magnetic_island tropical_birds Comments (0)

Cairns - Oz East Coast Adventure

Atherton Tablelands, The Great Barrier Reef, and a whole load of GOON!

sunny 28 °C
View Our adventure on amiee1992's travel map.

After a very long journey from Bali via Melbourne (due to our last minute decision to travel the east coast) we were exhausted as we touched down in Cairns! The view of the reef soon woke us up as our plane made a turn over the ocean to land. Upon leaving the plane, the heat hit us. Now this was more like the Australia we had in mind! We took a taxi to our hostel in the city centre and gawped out the windows the whole way. There were lots of small neighbourhoods where every house was different. Some were raised from the ground due to Cairns tropical climate. There were brightly coloured birds and butterflies everywhere and the streets looked so clean and quiet. After checking in we went for a walk around town and to the beach. The contrast to Melbourne was unbelievable. Hot weather. Quiet streets. Not a high rise building in sight. The beachfront had a huge lagoon, where it seemed like the whole population of Cairns congregated to relax in the sun, have a barbecue for lunch and cool off in the water. Our hostel was great value for money, with a free evening meal every night, and it wasn't too much of a party hostel, which was a bonus after the long journey. Nevertheless, we still decided to take part in the quiz night and had a great laugh with another couple from Manchester (little did we know it that Mills and Jonny would follow us everywhere for the next few weeks!) ;)



A night of goon, beer pong, and karate chops to the neck (don't ask!) sealed our friendship and also made us way too hungover to do our day trip planned for the next day. All worked out well as we managed to join their group the following day and we all visited the Atherton Tablelands together. The Atherton Tablelands is a a tropical rainforest area which ranges from 500m to 1200m above sea level. We travelled in a small group in our mini van, driven by tour guide Josh, to our first stop of the day - Babinda Creek. The tablelands experience much cooler temperatures than at ground level due to the difference in altitude. It was still the start of a sunny day and after our hour long journey we were all up for a refreshing dip in the lake. Amiee went running in first, only to realise that the water was ice cold! And so the day began. We had morning tea and a short walk to warm us up and dry us off before the next stop - Josephine Falls. At each stop throughout the day, the water seemed to get colder and colder (although it didn't seem possible!). Nevertheless, we had so much fun at this stop, sliding down the natural rock water slide into the crystal clear water. The rest of the day was spent getting freezing cold wet and stopping at the next swimming place just as we had dried off, but we had a blast and the views were breathtaking! We also had the chance to stop off at Milla Milla falls, famous for Peter Andre's Mysterious Girl video and the Herbal Essences advert (the boys impersonations beat the girls' hands down!) We loved the tour, our guide was brill, and we learnt a lot about Queensland and Aussie culture.


As if our trip to the Atherton Tablelands wasn't enough fun, the very next day was Great Barrier Reef day! We were up bright and early to hop on our boat at the Reef Fleet Terminal. Unfortunately we were about the only passengers on board who weren't part of a huge group of American exchange students, and my God were they annoying! Nevertheless, and despite a touch of sea sickness, we still had a truly amazing day. It took around an hour from shore to reach the reef and each boat had their own sites allocated, which was great as there was plenty of space to explore. Our first stop was next to a small sand island called Michaelmas Cay. We took the small glass bottom boat to the island, kitted out with our wet suits, flippers, snorkel equipment and underwater camera, and decided to snorkel from shallow to deep making our way back to the boat. We couldn't believe our eyes. Every time we would see a weird fish or coral we would both try and point it out to each other and stupidly shout like the snorkel in our mouth wasn’t there. There were loads of brightly coloured parrot fish munching away at the coral. We could actually hear the sound of them eating and then a puff of sand would appear from the other end. After around two hours of snorkelling, which flew by, we had a buffet lunch on the way to the next stop - Paradise Reef. This time there was no nearby islands and so we jumped in straight from the back of the boat. The water was a lot deeper and quite choppy, making snorkelling tiring work but this place was worth it. There were huge funny looking fish which we later learned are called Maori Wrasse, and we even spotted some clownfish and their anenome! We were a little disappointed when the day was over and we hadn’t spotted any turtles or reef sharks but we were still amazed at the huge range of fish we had seen and their bright colours. It was a day we will never forget.


That evening was our last night in Cairns and we were sad to be leaving the great bunch of friends we had made already. So it was time for a big night out to say our goodbyes. We got together with friends from our hostel and those we had met on the Atherton Tablelands tour and played drinking games at the hostel. When it was noise curfew time we took the rest of our goon to the lagoon area and got rowdy like in our younger teenage years. The nightlife in Cairns wasn’t the best but we made the most of it drunkenly dancing until it was time to get a few hours kip in until our 6am bus journey to Townsville.


We could have easily spent more time in Cairns but we only have so much time to travel the east coast before we should really be looking for jobs to save money for a short stint in South East Asia en route home. TIME IS FLYING WAY TOO QUICKLY!


Posted by amiee1992 02:32 Archived in Australia Tagged sun backpacking cairns great_barrier_reef east_coast atherton_tablelands Comments (1)

Bintangs in Bali

A family reunion in Indonesia

sunny 32 °C
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After packing up our Melbourne apartment and waving goodbye to our jobs, it was time to journey to Bali for two weeks in the sun with Amiee's family. It meant a change in our plans and we had no idea what we would now do on our return to Oz, but we could think of nothing better than being reunited with some family exactly 6 months into our trip!

Two years ago, when we first began planning our year of globetrotting and after Amiee discovered her new favourite film "Eat, Pray, Love", we put the pin in the map over Indonesia. Getting closer and closer to the departure date the plans changed a million times and the pin was taken out again to spend more time in India and Nepal.

Over numerous Skype sessions we joked with the family about coming to meet us, but as Oz was out of their budget we never expected to be seeing them. Then talks turned to meeting in Bali. Return of the Pin.

After working in the gloomy, cold weather of Melbourne we were so excited to spend some time relaxing in the sun, and even MORE excited to see family. Needless to say, when we burst through the villa doors to greet them, it was very very very emotional.

We spent the first week of our holiday in a private villa in Seminyak. It was beautiful with our own pool and a short walk away from the beach. Seminyak is full of fancy restaurants and boutiques, and was always extremely busy with tourists (those kind of places we now hate after travelling remote places). We spent a lot of time on the beach, where the boys enjoyed surf lessons and body boarding on the giant waves. Other days were spent touring the island with a private driver. We were keen to get away from the tourist areas and see some traditional Balinese culture. We visited the bird and reptile park before a trip through rural Balinese villages to a spectacular viewpoint over volcano Mount Batur. We learnt about the beautiful rice terraces and our driver, Samy, answered all of our questions about Balinese culture and traditions. A trip to Bali wouldn't be complete without visiting the famous Monkey Temple in Ubud. We bought a few bunches of bananas which were gone in seconds after we were jumped by a mob of hungry monkeys!











We also had some fun water rafting through the rivers which ran through Ubud's valleys. We had a six man raft and had to manoeuvre our way through the rapids, getting soaking wet and jumping in along the way. An afternoon spent at the elephant safari park was amazing. We fed the elephants and watched the show before going on a safari around grounds.




We moved to a villa complex in the Legian area for our second week, where we were a lot closer to the beach, bars and restaurants. We ate out at lots of nice sunset spots and had many Bintangs. We also taught the family how to play Yaniv, an Israeli card game we learnt on the farm in Nepal, and it wasn't long before everyone was hooked. We explored the quieter beaches of the south coast as well as Turtle Island, a turtle conservation project where we got to hold the sea turtles and some other animals. Uluwatu temple was another beautiful visit. The temple building was perched on the edge of a coastal cliff and the views were amazing. The monkeys here were particularly vicious! One of our last days was spent visiting the Waterbom water park, where we had a blast on all the different slides and chilled in the lazy river.






Uluwatu Temple

We loved Bali, especially our trips into the rural areas, where we would love to spend more time if we return in the future. We had an amazing two weeks in the sun and can't thank the family enough for their journey to the other side of the world to see us! Get ready for our adventures on the East Coast of Oz!

Posted by amiee1992 16:44 Archived in Indonesia Tagged beaches turtles temples monkeys bali ubud seminyak bintang Comments (2)

Home from Home

The ups and downs of our first 3 months living and working in Australia

all seasons in one day
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Its been a whole three months since we last blogged so forgive us if our writing is a bit rusty!

Our time living and working in Melbourne is about to come to an end, and there's a hell of a lot of emotions right now! We are RIDICULOUSLY excited (the 'bouncing off the walls and pulling the ugliest of stupid faces' kind of excited) for the next two weeks.... but we are SERIOUSLY going to miss where we now call home.

We were off to a rocky start when we first touched down in Australia. Believe it or not, we had major culture shock after landing in a first world country again! The warm weather and cheap living costs were a given for our travels so far and we were suddenly in the thick of extortionate price tags and winter weather (YES - they do have a winter in OZ, despite what the travel agent back home tells ya!). So picture us little ones stood in the freezing cold in the airport bus park wearing ali baba trousers and flip flops.. and then our faces when we were charged $30 for 2 Rekorderlig's! Our first week or so were spent at XBase backpacker hostel. An 8 bed dorm in a non-stop party hostel - when we were in dyer need of jobs, and fast! It was.. difficult. Then there was the dreaded feeling of reapplying for those awful jobs we did back home and came travelling to forget about!

Nevertheless, we made it through a few weeks of stress and panic and both managed to get jobs, as well as moving into a shared apartment with a beautiful view of Melbourne's Docklands. And that was that. Three whole months of working hard had began. We loved city living and soon fell in love with Melbourne's quirky venues and the easiness of getting around. We made lots of new friends, both Aussies and British, many who we are sure we will keep in touch with.

View of our apartment building from the other side of the harbour

Some of our lovely flatmates

Chilling in our of Melbourne's many coffee shops

One of many catch ups with the one and only Harry Saunders (A uni friend of ours)

Nothing like a home cooked Sunday roast


When Amiee got a bit too drunk for an Ellie Goulding gig

A trip to Queen Victoria market

The cute penguins at Melbourne Aquarium


Although we had a fallen in love with Melbourne, working life was particularly tough. Amiee worked 70 hour weeks and often late nights which meant we didn't really see each other at all. Perhaps a whole month passed without a single day off together, but we were doing what we were there to do.. earn. The faster we made enough dollars to move on, the sooner we could hit the road again. God help us when we have to return home and get real life, permanent jobs!

So a lot of you who haven't been are probably wanting some more low down on this huge country that everyone who visits doesn't want to leave.. Why is Australia so amazing and is it really that different to the UK?

We have only seen a tiny piece of a very large puzzle, having only visited Melbourne so far, but to have enjoyed it so much considering it was winter, we can definitely understand the fascination. The city is small but more than sufficient, filled with shops, bars, cafes and amazing restaurants. It is a 20 minute tram ride to the nearest beachside town of St Kilda. There is live music everywhere, from buskers on every street (who, by the way, have to pass an audition for a space), to the funky rooftop bars. So what is different to home? When we first arrived in Melbourne it felt very much like home. At a first glance, and particularly because of what seemed like the typical British weather, it didn't seem much different at all. As time passed we realised how much safer we felt, how no one is afraid (or simply can't be bothered) to say hello, and how much more chilled out everyone is. But don't worry guys.. we will still be coming home!

Watching the fireworks from our balcony on our last night in Melbourne

Posted by amiee1992 03:21 Archived in Australia Tagged melbourne australia working_holiday city_life Comments (0)

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