Jade from Derby tells us about her amazing trip down the East Coast of Oz and her adventures along the way!
So after an amazing 3 day stopover in Hong Kong getting to know my fellow Work Australia BUNACer’s, we landed in Sydney, still in a dream-like state, with the reality of actually being in Australia yet to sink in. With a week booked in Sydney we were now faced with.... What next?!? At the BUNAC Work Australia induction presentation, it was decided by 17 out of the 19 of us, that we were to spend the following week at Surf Camp... May as well jump right into the Aussie life hey! Although this was our first 2 weeks sorted, a few of us were still anxious to get on the road and see the iconic East Coast. So 4 other BUNAC girls and myself began to plan our East Coast Adventure.
We decided to go for an East Coast Discovery Rail Pass.... A pretty unconventional way to travel in Aus, as we were soon to find out, but it was slightly cheaper than a bus pass, and much more comfortable! We booked a flight from Sydney to Cairns for the day after our return from surf camp, purchased the hop-on hop-off train pass from Cairns to Melbourne, and that was that!
As I'm sure travelling the East Coast is on everyone's "Must Do" list for Australia, (and rightfully so), I thought I would offer a few tips, and tell you about my highlights from the trip...
First up, some pieces of advice I would have appreciated before undertaking this acclaimed trip...
Take the Greyhound: Although I don't really regret taking the train down the East Coast, I think if I was to do it again, I would take the Greyhound. It is a tough one. Although the train was comfy, had a cafe and restaurant, space to walk up and down, and half decent toilets, it did have some draw backs. In Queensland, trains run very rarely, once a day, every other day. Yes, really. So planning the first part of our trip was restricted by when we could actually travel. The trains are also pretty old and not very reliable. For instance, half way through one train ride, it was getting very hot and stuffy. We came to a stop and the heat was unbearable. Turns out, the generators had broken, which meant no air-con, in 30+ degree heat! So we were stranded at a train station for a couple of hours until coaches came and picked us up!
Stop everywhere you want to and do everything you want to do: You're probably only going to do this trip once, so it's worth spending the money to do everything you want to do. It will only cost you twice as much, if not more, to go back and do it at a later date.
DO IT!!! If the East Coast is something you think you want to do... DO IT! From my experience, I'm so glad I did it straight away. I saved up and came to Australia to travel, and got a Working Holiday Visa to fund more travel! Doing the East Coast first meant that I actually achieved a chunk of the travelling I wanted to do. It can be easy to get stuck in a city and start looking for a job straight away without exploring further afield.
So my full East Coast itinerary was this: Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, Mission Beach, Magnetic Island, Airlie Beach for The Whitsundays, Hervey Bay for Fraser Island, Brisbane, Surfers Paradise, Byron Bay, Sydney for a quick overnight stopover, and finally Melbourne. Although the whole trip was amazing, I had 3 major highlights... The Great Barrier Reef, The Whitsundays, and Fraser Island, the latter being my all time favourite. As well as Byron Bay, where I could have happily stayed for months if I was able to find a job there, but it's rather small.
The Whitsundays: There are so many boat trips that take you out to The Whitsundays. From day trips to 3 day overnight trips. From chilled out tall ships, to party boats. We chose a 2 day 2 night trip on a racing boat which was brilliant. Although the claustrophobic cabins and camp style beds were not ideal, watching the sunset out at sea, visiting Whitehaven Beach, snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, seeing sea turtles, and seeing a family of dolphins, two adults and a baby, frolicking in the lights of the boat at night made it all more than worthwhile.
Fraser Island: There are also tons of tours that will take you out to Fraser Island from various locations, ranging from camping on the beach to cabin resorts, 4WD tag along or guided 4WD bus tours. We chose a company that did 2 day/1 night and 3 day/2 night tours and decided on the 2 day/1 night trip.
Jade, sailing the Whit Sundays at sunset.
After the first day we instantly regretted our decision and wished we'd done 2 nights... We would have stayed a week if we'd have been able to! Our accommodation was at a lovely resort with little lodges, fenced off from the dingos, and we toured the island with a brilliant tour guide (who baked us gorgeous chocolate cookies as an afternoon snack), in a 4WD bus which was so much fun. We visited the lakes, champagne pools, Maheno ship wreck, Indian head and so much more! Each place as breathtaking as the last. All in all an unforgettable experience, one I actually intend to do again, next time hopefully camping on the beach though!
I'm now settled down in my favourite city, Melbourne, which is a place you must visit, (if not stay), with a flat in the city and a lovely little job at a cafe in St. Kilda saving up for more travelling to come...
Want your own BUNAC Work Australia Adventure? Book with BUNAC today and start your own adventure down under!
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