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Entries about beaches

Surfing (injury) in Byron Bay

The last stop of my East Coast adventure was the beautiful Byron Bay. It's pretty touristy, but like so many places I visited, it's easy to see why.

I had pre-booked a surf class for my first day so I spent my morning chilling on the beach, before heading to the bus stop to be picked up.

I was met by the mojo surf bus, already full of what turned out to be a group of Danish teenagers all on the same trip, most of whom had had a class the previous day. So whilst they were revising all they'd learnt the day before, I had a quick lesson with one other newbie.

On my first attempt here, I actually managed to stand. Yes! I got so excited that I was actually surfing that I did not jump off my surf board early enough and landed in extremely shallow water. I felt a pretty sharp pain in my left ankle, waited for a moment, wiggled it about and deemed myself fit enough to carry on.

I spent the next hour or so in the water, trying to correct with my repeatedly off balance surf technique. I did manage to stand a fair amount and by the end I was feeling so good about it all I decided I would probably book another session whilst I was in Byron Bay.

By that evening, my ankle was feeling a little tender, but not bad enough not to go out. I wandered about town, went for dinner and some drinks with new friends. Sadly after a few hours I was limping quite a bit so I sensibly decided to return back to my top bunk bed in the hostel.

Unsurprisingly, I didn't sleep well as my ankle was throbbing somewhat, and by morning I was unable to put any weight on my now very swollen ankle. The hostel owner kindly drove me to A and E so I could get a scan to check it wasn't too seriously damaged. The scans didn't show up anything more than sprain, which was great news really; the doctor strapped my ankle and sent me on my way.

Now of all the injuries I could have got this was pretty manageable, and of all the places, Byron Bay was pretty great. There are plenty of activities in Byron but actually, it's perfectly acceptable to sunbathe on a lush beach, sip a fresh lemonade and have the occasional dip when the sun just gets too much.

I also got to see Melina, my roommate from my tour in Peru, who lives near Byron Bay. It's pretty cool that I managed to see so many of my Aussie friends met whilst travelling in South America, and I'd love to think I'll see them again soon elsewhere in the world!

Posted by Rebecca Heller 02:25 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches surfing injury Comments (0)

The Whitsundays and Fraser Island

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The next couple of parts of my trip were on organised tours. I had been informed that I simply couldn't miss either the Whitsundays or Fraser Island.

For my Whitsundays trip I booked with Wings. A sociable boat with a knowledgable crew, without the clipper boat's intense party atmosphere. There's not a whole lot of space on these boats so it's fairly important to find one that is likely to attract your kind of people. I think I got mine right.

This trip consisted of a lot of sunbathing on deck, plenty of snorkel spots, and a visit to the paradise like Whitehaven beach. Throw in great company and some cheeky evening ciders, and you have the recipe for a good old time. I felt like I was living a glamorous lifestyle, without any of the actual glamour on our boat of course.

I knew I was on the right boat when we met another group's crew member who asked if we were having a good time and swiftly told us we couldn't be having that much fun if no one had had sex in the jacuzzi yet. Wrong crowd buddy.

Anyway, I'd say the Whitsundays are a must-see, providing you're not prone to sea sickness. It's beautiful, unspoilt and relaxed.

My next leg of the journey was to Rainbow Beach ahead of my Fraser Island tour. Rainbow Beach is a small and somewhat charmless town that really is a stop off for Fraser Island tours.

I stayed at Dingo's hostel where the rooms and reception area were nice, but I was seriously unimpressed with the kitchen. Not only was it small, but severely under-equipped for the number of guests, and a lack of washing up liquid (combined with lazy backpackers) meant what little they had was truly disgusting.

I was therefore quite excited to head off on my Fraser Island tag along tour. These consist of groups of jeeps, one of which has a tour guide, the others are driven by participants.

Fraser Island is a huge sand island with natural lakes, rock pools and such like, but not a lot else. The beaches are roads and subject to the same, if not stricter, road laws as everywhere else. This meant that some party animals missed out on driving opportunities, especially over the Easter Weekend, following some intense partying each night!

There are genuinely beautiful parts of Fraser Island, Lake Mackenzie for example, and it's an unspoiled spot, despite the number of visitors. The Dingo tours are big on their partying so this was my first and only real experience with goon (cheap, rubbish wine in a bag!). I had great people in my car, our Fraser Family as we liked to call ourselves, and I think that really added to the trip. As with so many things, it was as fun as the people I spent time with, so really very fun!

Posted by Rebecca Heller 02:21 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches islands snorkelling beach sailing tour Comments (0)

Taking the scenic route from Adelaide to Melbourne

The Great Ocean Road

all seasons in one day
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My Aussie adventure continued with a trip to Adelaide where I met my friend Carly at the airport. We hadn't seen each other since August so it was really great to catch up.

We spent our only full day there in the Barrossa Valley on a wine tour. Yes, another wine tour for me!

We went to just three wineries in the region. Our tour didn't include the Jacob's Creek winery, but we'd been told it's very touristy and not too authentic in there for the tour.

It's a pretty interesting combination, plenty of wine and no food but hey ho, that's the fun! I actually thought we didn't get too much information at the places we visited. We tried plenty of wines but didn't learn anything of the production processes, unlike the wineries I visited in Mendoza.

The following day, we found the car rental office to pick up the car for our road trip! I had said from the start that I wouldn't drive, since it's been a while since I've driven and I didn't want the first time I drive in years to be in a rental car with a passenger next to me, in Australia. Carly loves driving so it worked out well on that front, even still, it's a lot of driving for one person so I'm extremely grateful that she was happy to do it!

Driving along the Great Ocean Road is one of those must do activities in Australia, but most people go on a round trip tour from Melbourne and don't make it to Adelaide. That's partly because it's a long drive from Adelaide to the first big place of interest, the Grampians national park. There is a pink lake close by, which was thankfully pink when we visited, I think the idea of the pink lake was keeping Carly motivated on the long first stint!

But get there we did and this is where we spent our first night, surrounded by mountains and trees, a stark contrast to my nights spent in the Outback! We even spotted some koalas just chilling in the trees.

We made a few stops the next day on the way to Apollo Bay, stopping at some lakes and waterfalls. It's amazing how peaceful you can feel outdoors amongst nature. It's something we easily forget living in a big city, just rushing through life.

We stopped at Warrnambool for some lunch before finding our way onto the actual Great Ocean Road! This day we saw all the good Great Ocean Road sites: The Grotto, London Bridge, The Arch, Loch Ard Gorge and the Twelve Apostles.

On the second night we stayed in Apollo Bay, a small surfing town with some interesting characters in our hostel. I'm referring specifically to the inebriated French man who told us that he was being deported, despite having a one year old son staying in Australia with his mother. Apart from everyone else seemed alright!

On day three we had wanted to visit the beach but sadly it was a tad drizzly in the morning so we made our way to Lorne, a small beach town perfectly placed for an afternoon sunbathe on the way to Torquay. Post sunbathe we stopped at the world's most disappointing waterfall. Ok that's probably a bit harsh, it's just that there was absolutely no water there. I do feel as though the trail should have come with some sort of disclaimer, you know: 'warning: there may be no water'.

It was then time to head back to Melbourne, this particular road trip was over.

Posted by Rebecca Heller 09:40 Archived in Australia Tagged mountains beaches friends roadtrip Comments (0)

Sydney, the first stop in Australia

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It's a 14 hour flight from Santiago to Sydney. It sounds like it could be horrendous but I felt like the time flew by (pun only partially intended), partly due to flying with Quantas.

I'm not sure whether my visit to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights the previous day had affected me, but I watched an excellent but pretty serious collection of films - Suffragette, Straight Outta Compton and Pitch Perfect 2. Each to their own struggle for justice, equality, and opportunity.

The flight to Sydney arrived later than planned but eventually I got to my hostel in Kings Cross. I had booked my hostel rather last minute so many of the most popular hostels were full. Some people on the shuttle bus cringed when I said where I was staying as apparently the area has a reputation, not unlike the reputation of old of Kings Cross in London. However, this was a reasonably priced hostel, near a station, with plenty of backpackers around. I really felt safe there.

It's amazing how many people asked me where I had stopped from Santiago to Sydney. I referred them all to google maps. If you just looked it up, you'll see that there isn't a whole lot between the two cities, and ocean doesn't often make a good stop off point.

Anyway, I made friends with some girls at breakfast and we ended up spending the next few days together. Two Canadians, an American and a fellow Brit just hanging around Sydney. We started with the free walking tour which is always a good way to get acquainted with a city. This was my first glimpse of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.

That afternoon, despite the fairly intense heat, I decided to wander through the Royal Botanic Gardens and back to the hostel. As I was in Sydney, being all shiny and modern and the most London like city I'd been in in 6 months, so it was an enjoyable refuge from the towering CBD.

The next day we visited Manly Beach, heading over on the ferry to a beautiful beach. Now I'm not normally one to ogle, but I must say Manly Beach contained the highest concentration of highly attractive human beings I have ever seen. Maybe it's because everyone was simply having a great day, happiness and beauty are fairly closely related I reckon.

That afternoon I tried to meet up with Sean and Lizzie from my Peru tour. I did not have an Australian SIM card at this point, which meant our meeting was not as smooth as it could've been. What do I mean by this? I mean I ended up sitting in McDonalds, buying a Coke I didn't want as I felt like I ought to get something in exchange for using their free wifi. Maybe the only free working wifi in Sydney.

I did eventually find them, although it looked unlikely, after a public Facebook plea for help! And it was lovely! Meeting people is one of the great things about travelling and it's a rare treat to be able to reconnect with those people, on the other side of the world, so soon after you've met them.

The next day, the girls from the hostel and I went to the famous Bondi beach. I was expecting a bigger beach...we didn't go on the nicest day, so it was pretty empty, but imagine it's beaut on s good day. We were going to do the Bondi to Coogee walk, but got distracted by some pretty badass waves and a rock pool. For some reason I wasn't up for getting right up amongst the waves, so I shivered from the side, but very much enjoyed the looks of surprise, horror, then joy on everyone's faces every single time a wave broke.

The next day, we bid adieu to our Canadian friends and so the three of us spent a delightful morning and afternoon wandering around Sydney markets, eating good food and listening to live music. Instead of doing the Climb over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which is extortionate, we went up one of the towers, and had amazing views from there.

On Sunday's, all travel maxes out at $2.50, including the train to the blue mountains. So two of us made our way, and purchased the hop on hop off bus ticket for the key sights.

I'd say Sydney grew on me as I got used to being in Australia. Travelling here is different, I met more Brits on my first day in Sydney than I had in 4 months in South America, that was a bit of a shock to the system! People were living in the hostel. As in they'd been there a month already. Now I know it's cheaper than a flat, which can also be tricky when you don't have job security, but really I do wish the hostel had separated those living there more long term from the short stayers. People had there stuff spread so widely I had to move their 'wardrobe' to access a locker. One lad was a little upset by this, you know as I was invading his space...in a public hostel.

Anyway, I met fun people, I liked the city, and I felt ready to move on to the next stop on my Aussie adventure in the Red Centre, which was absolutely nothing like Sydney.

Posted by Rebecca Heller 02:55 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches bridges sydney opera Comments (0)

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