The next adventure

I was on the plane heading to Christchurch and feeling semi tired but also excited to find out what New Zealand had in store for me.
I knew it would be pretty hard to top what I had experienced in Australia but one can only see.
After visiting every state and territory, I have seen and experienced many wonderful things and have crammed in a lot.
However, being on the go continuously over the past 9 1/2 weeks has left me feeling exhausted at times, nonetheless, I wouldn’t change anything for the world as I have had a real hoot along the way.

With my small amount of traveling experience (compared to some), I have learnt a few things I hope to apply to New Zealand in order to maximise my enjoyment and leave me feeling revitalised for when I return.

These are:

  • Don’t try to cram too much in- you might do it all but you will be left exhausted
  • Plan but not too much as things change
  • Don’t be rigid in your itinery- as per above- things change
  • Prepare to say no to things when you feel tired – you don’t have to do everything or go everywhere
  • Take time out – go for a run, a walk, massage, find a quiet spot – something that enables you to be silent and enables you to reflect and relax
  • Try to get as much sleep as possible – your body will thank you for it
  • Try not to have big nights out when you have to be up early the next morning
  • Drink more water
  • Exercise more often
  • Try to eat relatively healthily most of the time or take supplements – when on the go it’s easy to get run down quite quickly

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget some of these simple things but I will aim to at least try.

Right now, I’m in a place called Kaikoura. The sun is shining and the views of the mountains surrounding the sea are just beautiful.

I’ve already seen fur seals and will be taking some time out to be at one with nature here. I have a date with some whales over the next couple of days to see them swimming in the open ocean and I can’t wait!
New Zealand – I already think it’s going to be hard to stick to my list above – but although you are the adventure and adrenaline island, I must make sure I don’t run out of steam!

But with views of the sea surrounded by mountains, luscious yellows and greens and a wide range of marine life – how could I?
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Farewell Australia

I’ve just come back from an epic Roadtrip with a friend I met at Fraser Island (Zino you legend!). 

We travelled along the coast from Melbourne to Sydney stopping at Wilsons Promontory, 90-mile beach and Jervis Bay.

There has been laughter, amazing landscapes and lots of fun on route. 

We ended our time in Sydney in our good old fashioned style by visiting an Aussie Rules GWS Giants game and partying until the early morning.


With a heavy head, I reflect on my time here in Australia and one word cannot describe it. It has been one epic, amazing and beautiful journey full of wonderful experiences, indescribable landscapes and great people. 


I have learnt and laughed and I have seen and experienced an unbelievable amount of things – more than I could have ever possibly imagined. Once in a lifetime opportunities have tapped   me on my shoulder and I have embraced them fully with a heartfelt smile that will last forever.

It’s hard to describe what my time in Australia has been like into a small blog post or a few words. 

However, all I can say is it has been one of the most remarkable and unforgettable experiences I have ever had in my life. So many firsts and so many memories stored in the bank. 


I think back to some of the things I have done and moments I have shared and with that I know I have fully lived life to the max within this space of time.


On that note, I bid farewell to you Australia – the land of great things. I have loved every moment and one day I’ll be back for you my love. 

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Tasmanian Beauty

Wow is all I could say as I watched from the airplane cubby hole as the sun rose and reflected on the water below. The hills and the trees and the landscape from this small window had me mesmerised yet again.

I was twitching in my seat waiting for the plane doors to open so I could explore more of this beautiful place. Let me out, let me out is all I could think when the safe to remove seatbelt signs pinged off.

I shimmied my way along the Tarmac into the airport and eagerly awaited my luggage before hopping on the transfer bus to my hostel.

I was staying in the YHA in Hobart and on my arrival was greeted by a lovely and talkative American. He told me of the places to go and gave me a map and off I was. It was too early to check into my room so I made my way to the harbour to get some breakfast and wait for the ferry across to MONA.

The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is the largest privately funded art museum in Australia. On arrival you are handed headsets which enable you to interact with the pieces and listen to commentary or interviews with the artists.

Some of the pieces shocked me, some were disturbing, some fascinating and intriguing. I absolutely loved it.

With pieces such as “Cunts…..and other conversations” by Greg Tayler and friends, it’s no wonder that the museum is hated by some and loved by others.

I really liked Gregory Barsamian’s ‘Artifact’ – a colossal bronze human head which has small apertures which you look in to reveal rapidly spinning objects under strobe light.

Artifact

Artifact

Inside ‘Artifact’ little birds fly out of womb-like bladders, swoop up and land on books which then close shut on them, apples fall into hands and bald heads move up and down.

To me the piece resembled the complexity of our own brain deciphering

Inside Artifact

Inside Artifact

messages. We read and absorb information, we take in what a bird sees on flight, we have all these visions that are born and then sometimes they die. It was a great piece that had me thinking and kept me mesmerised.

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Daniel Crooks ‘On Perspective and Motion’

Another piece I became drawn to was Daniel Crooks ‘On Perspective and Motion’ – a video of bystanders, pedestrians and traffic appearing and disappearing and moving at different speeds.

 

It really made me think of life and how sometimes everything can be a bit alien, it’s like you are looking in on the world around you. Where everyone is busy heading to their destination, rushing but you seem to standstill. It was really thought provoking.

My ferry was booked for 12:30 so unfortunately the 2 1/2 hours to explore was not long enough and I bid farewell to the controversial museum.

Later that day I opted to go to Mt Wellington where I walked the tracks through the cool forested gullies.

I was pushed for time to get to the top so my hike was a rather fast paced affair. The steep steps and rock inclines had me panting away but I was a lady on a mission, a mission to get to the top of Mt Wellington before night fell.

I could feel the air changing as I clambered up, it was cooler, thinner, clearer. Apart from two other hikers coming down, I was the only one going up. Did I not know something that everybody else did? Or was it a bit too late to go trekking up this mountain? It was a bit unearthing but I powered through nonetheless.

I passed rocks splattered with white patches that resembled snow, green trees and plants with luscious red berries – all depicting a scene from a Christmas card. It brought back fond memories of being at home with the family. IMG_3886

I tried to savour the moment stopping for a picture before a deep breath in and onwards I continued. Carefully watching my steps, I moved in a regimental fashion – one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. I knew I was getting higher as my ears were starting to pop but I couldn’t see how far up I was due to the intense layer of fog that had crept in over the course of my walk.

My battery was low but I had to save it for an emergency so every now and then I would turn it on to see the time and how long before it was to get dark.

It was 4:15pm and so I had roughly an hour before dusk. That gave me a maximum of 15 minutes to get to the top before I turned back. I knew I couldn’t be that far from the top and really didn’t want to come back down the same way. It was pretty hard going so the way down would have been quite risky especially in the thick fog.

I prayed that the end would be near and that there was another way down and not before too long I had no more rocks or steps to climb. Yay!

The fog was really intense, making it extremely hard to see what was in front of you.

It was very foggy indeed

It was very foggy indeed

I heard voices further afield and to my joy, there was a road which meant another way down.

As I got closer to the voices I made out figures and lights in the distance and approached the family to ask them if there was a path for me to walk down alongside the cars.

A pale Irish lady with mid length brown hair, brown eyes and lovely smile replied “you can, but it’s too foggy and it’s probably not very safe”.

Her Mediterranean Australian husband added “plus you are wearing black so no one will see you. We passed a couple of walkers on the way up and could hardly see them. We can give you a lift down if you like?”

“Yes that would be lovely – thank you” I eagerly replied. With that I bundled in with the kids and the Irish grandparents who were over visiting their daughter and grandsons. They had been out for Mother’s Day and had a lovely picnic before the weather started turning.

We chatted non-stop on the 25-minute journey down about my travels and people who run the Mt Wellington half marathon and all other things. They were such a welcoming and lovely family. The boys showed me a picture of what the top looks like on a clear day – it looked beautiful. It’s a shame I didn’t get to see the magnificent views but there was a sense of great accomplishment knowing I walked to the top and experienced some of it.

The family dropped me into town in the end and so I only had a five-minute walk to get to my hostel. I jumped out of the White 4×4 and frantically waved goodbye as if they were close friends I had known for ages.

Back at the hostel I started chin wagging with the lady at reception and then made my way to the kitchen to have my Cordon Bleu meal of pesto pasta.

The kitchen was buzzing and I soon began chatting to some of the other guests. Wine was being handed around and before I knew it I was up the bottle shop buying more. We laughed, we drank and we danced and before I knew it was 3am.

I then stumbled to my room and it was lights out as soon as my head hit he pillow.

The next day was a right off and I spent the majority of my day at the hostel catching up on things (very slowly) and nursing my hangover through fruit and nutritional smoothies.

The day after I felt back to normal although a little tired but it was up early to see Freyinet National Park and Wine Glass Bay.

We went to various lookouts and bays and beaches such as Friendly Beach, Sleepy Bay, Cape Tourville Lookout, Wine Glass Bay lookout, Honey Moon Bay. We also saw Mt Amos and Mt Hazard and eat fresh oysters from the Oyster Farm and hand-made chocolate from Kate Berry’s farm.


I left some of the tour group as I decided to do the extended walk all the way to Wine Glass Bay. It was a lovely walk and the pristine white sand and turquoise waters were a great reward for battling the climb.  IMG_3908

I touched the sand and wet my hands in the sea to connect with Mother Nature and then began my journey back up. I had set myself a mission of trying to get back up to catch the other guys before they left for the other lookouts. I wanted to see as much as possible so I wasn’t going to let an uphill slant defeat my viewing options. IMG_3911

Marching on I conquered the walk back to the car park in approximately 1:40 instead of the conservative suggested 2 1/2 to 3 hours return time the map stated.

I caught up with the rest of the group at Honey Moon bay who were surprised to see me so soon. I felt good as I made it and was still able to see everything else.

Honey Moon Bay

The day was lovely, I was surrounded by nature, felt her crisp fresh air and heard her whispers through the splashing of the waves against the orange rocks.

Close to our departure I sat and closed my eyes on the orange boulders and really wanted that moment of peace to last forever.

Sleepy Bay (Southern)

As I took one more look at the beautiful coastline with its lime dotted rocks, orange peninsula and white frothy sea – I bid my farewell to Tasmania.

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Roadtrip 

After our seven-day wonder trip it was soon time to head to Adelaide and experience some of the South.

We picked up our rental car in Adelaide and it was all actions go to Barossa Valley.

Driving is always a bit daunting when you are in a foreign place. However, with the sat nav poised and both of our eyes on the road (as two pairs are better than one) it was all aboard the Toyota Corolla train for some wine quaffing in BV.

With the wind flowing through our hair, tunage in the background and beautiful scenery around us – we felt like Thelma and Louise – two friends on a break from it all and looking forward to our adventure.

Soon we were in Barossa Valley and not knowing where we would sleep that night we asked around and was told about a backpackers dwelling round the corner.

Once we arrived, our priority wasn’t getting a bed for the night, it was all about checking out Chateau Tununda next door.

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Being a red wine lover, I was in my element. We parked up and began to explore the surrounding vineyard. Barossa Valley is one of Australia’s oldest and finest wine producing regions and Chateau Tununda is Australia’s largest chateau.

Being dubbed the ‘icon of Barossa Valley’ and established in 1890 – it was a real treat that we happened to stumble upon this little gem. It obviously was meant to be!

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I had my fair share of the red stuff, trying various Barossa favourites including the renowned Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.

After happily satisfying my palette it was a bottle of Pinot Noir for me, a quick stop off at the hostel to book our beds and onward to the local pub for some more wine and a seafood platter.

After a tiresome but really enjoyable day, it was time to hit our palace with its corridors full of cheesy feet smells and broken beds. Hey beggars can’t be choosers and we were lucky to find a bed for the night!

When morning had broken, we set off for our six-hour drive to the Grampians. The drive through the Grampians was breath-taking – these rugged unspoilt mountain ranges were just beautiful. I’m still amazed that every destination I go to, somehow, still manages to rouse me after all the out-of-this-world aesthetically pleasing, heart shuddering images I have seen thus far!

When we arrived at our destination, it was time for a little exploration and a short hike to see Chatauqua lookout. On route we saw parrots and kangaroos casually hanging about like they didn’t have a care in the world. A bit intrigued, they looked up and watched us approaching and when they knew we meant no harm, they carried on grazing.

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Sam and I chatted away and amidst pretending we were in the Blair Witch Project, we missed our turnoff and carried on walking and walking.

IMG_3593After some time, we came across a very friendly jogger whose wife was originally from Tottenham – very small world!

It must have been a godsend as we hadn’t passed anyone else on our journey and if he hadn’t asked us where we were heading for- we would have still been walking.

Apparently we had missed the turning some way back and we were told to head back as it would be getting dark and we didn’t want to be lost in the Grampians which can be easily done.

We headed back to the lovely YHA Grampians Hostel (the YHA’s have been really good so far but this one in particular was one of my favourites and highly recommended) where we enjoyed an evening of cheese and wine.

At the crack of dawn, we were up again and it was another long drive to Great Ocean road but not before we visited Barocca Lockout and McKenzie Falls.

McKenzie Falls

It was really foggy at the lookout but the mist across the land with the odd scatter of sunlight protruding through the clouds actually accentuated the beauty of moment.

It was also beautiful driving from the Grampians to Great Ocean Road – green trees, thin trunks, beautiful lookouts. IMG_3642

The colours of the trees changed as we progressed through our journey – it was like summer and autumn all in one. We were welcomed by thin trunks and fluffy coniferous looking trees surrounded by green fields and hills full of cows.

We eventually reached the 12 Apostles lookout with the great ocean beneath us and these huge limestone formations protruding out of the roaring sea.

Even though you see the pictures of these huge stacks plastered on Facebook from time to time – nothing quite compares to seeing them in reality. They truly are remarkable and despite battling the strong winds to get to the end of the lookout and almost having our phones snatched away from us by Mother Nature – it was well worth it.

Sam and I being blown by the wind at the 12 Apostles

After getting our shots, it was a race against time to get to our YHA hostel at Apollo Bay.

IMG_3665We were told by the car rental company that we were not covered by the insurance if we drive at dusk and it was soon approaching that time where the kangaroos come out to play.

Rather nervous we continued through the woodland studded roads and watched the night time creep up on us. Now was the time to be extremely vigilant and just pray that we made it through okay.

Thank goodness we did, panic over – it was time to check in, dump our stuff, and go and treat ourselves to another seafood slap up meal- again!

Another early start meant we could see and experience more things and although tired – this is what gets you pumped and ready to start the day. Our itinerary had a few things lined up for that day and we were both eager to start.

First stop was a drive to the Otway National Park for a small hike to see the Triplet Falls.

The drive was bendy, tight and hell raising at times. On one side you had the steep drop to contend with on the left and the oncoming cars with exceedingly tight tracks meant you had to be really careful as there was not much space on the right either.

However, the views and the Jurassic style trees meant it was well worth it. Especially at times when you wouldn’t see a car or a person for ages – it felt as if this jungle was ours and we just absorbed it all in. IMG_3673

After our jungle walk to the falls, we headed to the Koala filled town of Kennet River. We drove on tracks which were meant for 4x4s and all we could do was sit with gritted teeth hoping it wouldn’t do any damage to the car. These Koalas better be worth it – I thought to myself.

And they were! In fact, the whole drive was worth it, it was magical. At times the kangaroos would jump across the road to say hello and it felt like being in an enchanted forest where I was Snow White with an abundance of wildlife all around me. All I needed to do was break out into song!

Not before long, we soon found Kennet River and found a small crowd of people looking up and there they were – these cute little bundles of fluff way up high in the trees. I just wanted to squeeze them – they were so cute. IMG_3691

With our fair share of Koala spotting, we headed off to Lorne for a spot of lunch. We went to The Pavilion and treated ourselves (again) to a beautiful seafood linguine overlooking the beach.

After lunch it was a quick stop at Teddy’s lookout to get a snap of the sea, iconic Great Ocean Road and the beautiful limestone cliffs. Then it was onwards to hip Melbourne where we had to drop of the car.

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We arrived at Hertz CBD at 5:30pm after looking for a petrol station for ages, getting lost and getting honked at (when you are not used to driving in Melbourne it’s hard – especially getting used to the hook turns). All I wanted to do was get out the car but the lady advised us it was best to fill up outside as they would charge us three times the price.

Have you ever been driving before and got to the point where you felt like you just couldn’t carry on?

I begrudgingly got back in the car and followed her instructions to the petrol station to fill the car up by $15.

On our return, that’s where it all went wrong! The sat nav was sending us in all directions. It felt like we were going around in circles. After 35 minutes we eventually found Hertz again. That’s when Sam calmly stated “it’s closed”. I couldn’t believe it. The lady knew we were coming back, why did she lock the door? After looking around the side hoping there was another means of getting through to someone- I heard voices from around the corner.

Sam was chatting to the same lady who told us to fill up- explaining that we got lost and pleading with her to take back the car.

To which she replied “I gave you enough time as it was only round the corner”.

I wanted to strangle the lady and scream very loudly but I just stood there and when she said “sorry girls”, I replied “okay” through gritted teeth.

We had no choice but to hand the car back in the next morning.

I was fuming but Sam was really calming and was the best tonic as she adopted a “no worries” attitude. Which helped put things into perspective.

However, it took me a little bit longer to get over it but after a few vodka and cokes – I was in the land of calm.

We did plan to leave after our second drink but that never happened.

We were in a bar called Captain Melville, served by lovely bar tenders and were given free drinks. That, combined with the great music meant it was a recipe for disaster.

It was! We didn’t leave until 5am. We left the car in the free parking spot and ordered an Uber to our hostel.

I woke up to Sam’s melodic whispers “N-a-d-i-a……….W-a-k-e…..U-p” and so I asked her what the time was. “7:30” she casually replied.

With that I frantically jumped out of bed and quickly put my clothes on. The free parking ended at 7:30 so we needed to get to the car pronto.

I had to go to the loo quickly and I saw Sam in the bathroom when I came out. Feeling disgusting I asked her “have you brushed your teeth?” she replied “okay, have you?”. “No, I haven’t got time” I returned in disgust.

With our babbled talk over with, we waited outside for our Uber which turned up 3 mins later. I love Uber!

We both felt rotten inside and out but we were in this together and our main focus was on getting to the car before the traffic warden.

To our relieve we hadn’t got a ticket and so proceeded to drop the car off (which luckily enough was on the other side of the road).

I let Sam do the talking as I didn’t want them to smell the stench of last night’s booze on me.

Thankfully we didn’t get a penalty for dropping the car off a day late. Luck was definitely in our favour.

Our next stop was breakfast and then back to the hostel for some more sleep before our walking tour that afternoon.

The walking tour was really informative and we got to see the main sites of Melbourne.

Melbourne is a really cool city, the food is good, the bar scene eclectic and the vibe is nice and chilled.

We visited China Town and ordered way too much Chinese, submersed ourselves in culture at ACME and had beautiful tapas on the rooftop of Bar of Satan.

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Melbourne Skyline

We checked out some of the night scene in great bars such as State of Grace, Berlin Bar and the Croft and visited the Penguins of St Kilda.

For our short time there we did a lot and thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Some of Melbourne’s street art

I even did a run with the Melbourne New Moon Hash House Harriers. I was welcomed in like one of their own and had a blast. There were initiation rituals, beer guzzling, lots of singing and of course running the streets of Melbourne – which involved secret destinations and followings signs drawn on the street. It was a real hoot and a lovely way to explore the city and end my time in Melbourne.

There is so many things I would recommend people do if they ever visit Australia.

However, I must say that driving here is something everyone has to experience. The scenery is breath-taking – the trees, the wildlife, the change in colours, the sea, the limestone cliffs of the Great Ocean Road – the list is endless.

Sometimes being on a tour bus or catching a flight simply doesn’t cut it. To experience and appreciate some of the beauty, you really have to drive and take it all in as it really is out of this world.

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Seven day wonder 

Western Australia here we come! We left Perth airport and headed straight for Freo (Fremantle). It was here where we had a few really chilled days and treated ourselves to a pamper session (every girl needs one at some point to feel feminine again – especially after camping and roughing it).

Our seven-day tour to Exmouth was soon approaching and we bid the quaint town of Freo farewell whilst we made our way to Perth city where we were due to get picked up the next day.

I over indulged in a few vinos that night so was fairly tired when my alarm started going off at 6:45am. However the antics from the night before kept me amused.

I had hit up the gym and as my reward I decided to put everything I had worked off and more, back on, by having 4 glasses of red wine.

The landlord was nice enough – a very talkative stocky Londoner who loved his dog Pepper.

However, he was also quite a Charlie big bananas as well – the type of person who justifies their existence by letting you know they know celebrities and they are this or that or did this and that. Yep right turnoff!

Anyway before I digress, after the landlord went, I was talking with a couple of the other reprobates.

One of them was starting to get rather annoying and didn’t make much sense. Then the elderly heavily inebriated man in the corner started hissing and spitting words of insults to this other guy – basically telling him to shut the hell up (but not as polite as that).

It all got a bit heated and before I knew it this skinny, long silver bearded man was pummelling the younger one as if he had a deep vengeance towards him. His eyes were bloodshed but dark and he looked at Mr Annoying with pure hatred as if he was his former enemy in the war.

Euan, the French guy I was also talking to tried to break it up. The elderly man was as strong as an Ox because he was so determined to get Mr Annoying and he kept Euan struggling to hold him back.

He was kicking Mr Annoying from the floor and doing anything to try and get a hit in.

Eventually it stopped and we sat back down, eager to finish our drinks and call it a night. Before I knew it, the 70-year-old and the 40-year-old were back at it. I couldn’t believe my eyes! This was ridiculous – you had two mature men acting like kids rolling around. Euan and I left them to it this time but every time we looked at each other we burst out laughing. It was the laughter of complete astonishment and bewilderment.

Eventually they stopped and I said goodbye to Mr Annoying advising him that he should probably leave so as not to provoke the elderly guy even further.

Being my first night in Perth. I couldn’t believe that I was welcomed in this way, hence why I was slightly amused the morning after.

With a little chuckle to myself. I quickly got ready and soon we were boarding the bus for our seven-day trip to Exmouth.

Day One

Our first stop was to visit the Pinnacles in Cervantes which are strange limestone formations in the desert ranging from a few centimetres to several metres.

After the Pinnacles we had lunch on Jurian Bay with its white sand and sea green waters.

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Jurian Bay

We then had a drive of about four hours to camp and the sun was setting as we drove. On one side of the road there were oranges and yellows breaking through the clouds and then heavenly purples and pinks layering the sky on the other. It was unbelievably majestic.

Day Two

It was an early start today but it was worth it just to see the sun rise. Again I was transfixed by the beautiful colours layering the sky – oranges, reds, yellows and pinks. This country has the best sunrises and sunsets I’ve ever seen.

After sunrise, we abseiled down the Z Bend Gorge in Kalbarri which was scary but exhilarating at the same time.

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It was 25 metres high and once you got the hardest point over with (making the fist few steps down) the rest was a piece of cake and a real hoot.

We then went to look at the gorge and lookout and I was dying for the loo and so I told one of our guides (Flic) that I was heading to the ladies. I saw a sign for the toilets and thought I’d just continue going but I didn’t recognise anything so turned back and started following another path with footprints and car tracks. I pretended I was a ranger looking at markings to hunt someone down. Well my game had to end shortly as I didn’t have a clue where I was going which isn’t hard as I can get lost in a supermarket. Therefore I gave up playing.

Realising that I would not find the loos and not wanting to go further into the bush (it was a national park after all) I did what the locals did and had a wee in the bush.

What is happening to me? Am I becoming at one with nature?

Either way it was a lot better than the hole in the ground loos in the national park. However, I haven’t quite mastered how to wee without peeing all down my leg in the process. Is there an art to it? Maybe I’ll find out soon.

We drove on to another gorge and took in the views of the rugged rocks below which lined the valley. It was another beautiful spot.

After lunch we stopped off in Shark Bay – a world heritage site covering more than 2.2 million hectares. It’s one of the world’s greatest wilderness treasures.

We visited Hamelin Pool, which is home to the most diverse living stromatolites in the world. These rock-like ‘living fossils’ are monuments to life on Earth over 3500 million years ago. In fact they were the first life forms to appear on Earth!

I sat down and gazed into the sea looking at these fragments of history that made life. It was really peaceful and I wished I could have stayed a bit longer not speaking just staring and relaxing.

Next stop was Monkey Mia where we chilled for the night. Monkey Mia is famous for its dolphin interaction experience. Every day a small group of bottlenose dolphins come ashore to be fed a small amount of fish (not enough to interfere with their daily hunting ritual). Its one of the few places on earth where dolphins are 99% guaranteed to show up each day and I was psyched just thinking about it.

Once I dumped my stuff I walked along the beach to catch the sunset which was out of this world. Absolutely incredible. Again the sky with its cotton wool clouds teased my eyes. I didn’t want to blink in case I missed anything. The sunset was indescribable. It just keeps getting better and better.

Sunset at Monkey Mia

 

The evening was lots of fun, we had a BBQ, we drank, sat on the jetty and kept a lookout for Dolphins. I even learnt how to pee without getting it down my leg.

Apparently you have to stretch one leg out, almost as if you are doing a side lunge. I practiced my new skill that night in the beach bushes and I can honestly say it works! Thanks Flic!

At about 1am everyone who was left started to head back and I had dropped my baccy on the floor and had to find it as I didn’t want the plastic wrapper being washed up back into sea. At first I couldn’t find it and so I headed back dipping my feet in the sea.

I saw two shadows in the water and not before too long I realised that these belonged to the majestic dolphins.

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh. I can’t believe I saw the dolphins in their natural habitat.

One of them came right up to me and nudged me a few times looking for food. I was in complete awe as I watched her swim around my feet. It was one magical moment.

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I have wanted to see dolphins in the wild and be close to them for years and there I was having an intimate encounter with one. I was definitely one lucky girl.

My favourite animal and I was able to touch it! For years I’ve loved Dolphins – such intelligent creatures. I even have a dolphin ring. I just love them. It was one memory I’ll never forget.

I shouted to Ashwin who was further up the beach to come and look at these beautiful and magical creatures.

We decided to sleep on the beach that night to keep watch out and get first glimpse of the sun rise at 6:44am. We saw a few more sightings and then we hit the sand sack. Ashwin brought out two pillows and two blankets as it was fairly cold. I wrapped my blanket around me several times and laid down on my pillow falling asleep to the gentle sea waves.

Day Three

I could hear Ashwin’s alarm go off but I didn’t check for movement as I was wrapped up in my blanket and didn’t want to emerge just yet.

Five more minutes I thought. Then I was woken up by Ashwin screaming “we’ve missed the sunset”.

I quickly popped my head out from hibernation and saw the glorious sun in the sky. How can we sleep on the beach and miss the sunrise? Another Nadia moment!

A few hours later after getting freshened up,  I made my way down to the beach where they were feeding the Dolphins. Again I got a glimpse of these magnificent creatures. What a beautiful start to the day. I would definitely love to come back on a holiday here. It’s just absolutely amazing.


We soon said goodbye to Monkey Mia and my beloved Dolphins, and on the road it was again.

We did a couple of stops along the way including Eagles Bluff where we saw manta rays, turtles and sharks in the distance.

Then we visited Shell Beach – a beautiful white beach made up of millions of tiny shells up to 10 metres deep and stretching over 120km.

I think I was in need of a good nights sleep that night as I was absolutely shattered! Traveling takes its toll. Late nights, early mornings, constantly on the go – it all adds up. Therefore I was straight to bed as soon as I could and when my head hit the pillow at 10:30pm I was out like a like.

Day Four

Despite going to bed early,  I was still tired today but extra psyched for the day ahead. I was swimming with the whale sharks and couldn’t wait.

We set off in the boat around 8am and went through the briefing and grabbed our equipment before we set sail. Our first snorkel was a mandatory one to see how we go but we saw a tiger fish and turtle which was great.

The next couple of snorkels were the real big thing! We got to swim with the whale sharks – I was super excited. I looked down and there she was – this big creature around 7 metres long – the largest fish in the world and there I was swimming with her. I couldn’t believe it – it felt so surreal swimming next to this grey speckled and gracious fish. Have you ever been lost in the moment and it doesn’t seem real? It’s almost dreamlike and you feel that any time soon, you will wake up and be disappointed. Only it wasn’t a dream, it was reality and I was over the moon that I was able to do it.


That day we also saw reef sharks, turtles and dolphins from the boat as well as beautiful coral and all sorts of colourful fish. It was another magical day, another memory banked, another exciting experience.

The preceding days were spent watching beautiful sunsets, snorkelling, sun bathing and hiking.

It has been a fun packed, tiring but awesome trip overall where wishes have been granted, bucket lists ticked and tons of memories stored on film and also up there!

Australia is definitely the land of the giving as its nature, landscapes, views, experiences, wildlife and marine life are out of this world.

I’ve  experienced so much in such a short space of time but I am soon approaching the end. Which means I’ll be saying a sad goodbye. However I’m a very lucky girl to have experienced  what I have so far and for that I’m truly grateful.

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Sending out an SOS

 

So I’ve fallen in love with this country and the only way I will be able to come back and stay longer is if I find myself a nice honourable Australian. So I’m sending out an emergency call to all the eligible Australian bachelors out there as I am looking for a husband…….is there anyone out there??

(Mum, don’t panic. I’m only joking! I will be coming back as planned and no I won’t go off and do anything silly to extend my stay. I’ll be home before you know it for one of your lush roasts).

On a serious note, I do think Australia has to be the best country I have travelled to thus far. It’s a land of extreme diversity and the landscapes, colours, wildlife and marine life take my breath away. To put things into perspective. Australia is approximately 15 times the size of the UK and Ireland combined and it has three different time zones. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that you can be sunning yourself in one state and skiing in another. Mountains, crystal clear waters, all forms of aquatic life, luscious rainforests to tens of thousands of different types of flora can be found up and down the land.

Australia has extraordinarily high levels of biodiversity – more plants than 94% of countries on Earth and more mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians than 95% of the world’s countries! The sea is full of turtles, sharks, jelly fish – basically thousands of marine species. In many spots you can catch dolphins frolicking in the water and whale sharks and hump back whales make their migratory appearance at certain times of the year. In rivers, crocs and sharks are aplenty along with lots of other life. There is a whole ecosystem at play with everything playing its part in the food chain. Pigs eat baby crocs and crocs eat fully grown pigs, the Blue-Tongue Lizard eats the grasshoppers and the Brown Snakes eat the Blue Tongue Lizards and so on.

All the colours of the rainbow can be found across the land from deep orangey reds and illuminous greens to yellow sands and deep blue seas. The sky seduces you with the myriad of colours exploding through the fluffy clouds and orangey sunsets. Pinks, purples, oranges and reds layer the sky on some of best days and you can watch the colours of the surrounding landscape change as the sun bids the land good night. Then you have the big bright stars of the milky way that light up the black calming night.

Wallabies and kangaroos grace your presence at the sides of the road and you can’t believe that you are up close and personal with these creatures as the closest you ever got was when you visited a zoo or via the television screen watching episodes of Skippy. Yet in Australia, Kangaroos can be deemed as pests so will be shot to keep off of private land and if cooked right they taste bloody good! I know poor Skippy L. I felt bad for a little bit but then I also eat meat so it’s exactly the same right?

I’ve been travelling for about four months now and I have definitely seen a change in my ways. I went away a complete sissy when it came to insects and whilst I’m no Bear Grylls or Steve Irwin (RIP) I have definitely come back a man. Well not quite, but I am less of a pansy then when I started out.

I have stood inches away watching in awe as a mahoosive spider carefully wrapped her next victim neatly up ready to be slaughtered, I have licked a Green Ant and handled several snakes. All thanks to the great tour guides on my Whitsundays Ride to Paradise trip.

If you had told me I would be licking ants at the start of my trip – I would have politely told you to go jump but there I was not so long ago taking part in this bush tucker trial with no financial reward!!

Whitsundays was a great destination. We travelled to our millionaire’s pad by speedboat – yes a millionaire owns the resort and rents it out as part of the ‘Ride to Paradise’ trip. Boy was it lush, tennis courts, a Jacuzzi, swimming pool, pool table, paddle boards, hammocks, amazing views. The list goes on. We had everything prepared and cooked for us and lived like Royalty for a few days.

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Whitsundays – Whitehaven Beach

 

What a difference it makes when you have been used to roughing it in basic dorms. The only trouble is you miss the luxury when you leave.

We travelled to beautiful Whitehaven Beach and various spots for snorkelling by day and in the evenings we chilled over dinner before we started on the wine pong and various other drinking games. The tunes were blasting and the nights were filled with laughter and drunken antics including swimming races, streaking and falling into bushes – there’s always one and no this was not me by the way!

I met some great people on that trip and hope to meet up with them over the rest of my travels. Ride to Paradise was pure luxury but what made it even better was the amazing people and the great tour guides.

A few days after our Whitsundays trip, we were all set for diving and snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef. I saw four sea turtles throughout the day. They must be my lucky animal as I keep on seeing them- such gracious things. I love watching them swim and glide through the water. It’s just magical.

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Outer Great Barier Reef

Although the sea scares me, I have a love for its waters and abundant marine life. The colours of the coral and the different types of fish darting about just have me transfixed. Originally I said I wouldn’t dive in Australia as I was scared of the sharks but I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to dive the Great Barrier Reef. I’m so glad I changed my mind.

Our trips keep popping up like a popcorn vending machine- one after the other. Although it’s quite tiring, I also love it, as this means we can fit in all the bits we want to. The only downside is it makes it quite hard to find the right time to catch up with my loved ones back home. The time difference is hard enough and with constant moving around, there never seems to be a prime time to speak to them. However, Facebook is great for letting everyone know what I’m getting up to and that I haven’t been savaged by dingos’ or bitten by spiders or snakes. So thankyou Mr Zuckerberg

We also went on a Cape Tribulation tour with Active Tropics explorer which involved a crocodile cruise, a smoke ceremony by the aboriginal land owners, a dip and drink from the pure waters of Mossman Gorge and a walk through Daintree Forest with a beach lunch.

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Daintree Rainforest boardwalk

The Daintree Rainforest is located in Queensland and is the oldest continuously surviving tropical rainforest in the world, thought to be 165 million years old. Mossman Gorge, located in the southern part of Daintree has clear, pure waters that cascade down over granite blocks. I filled my water bottle up with this pure natural water and I savoured the sweet taste. It can’t get much better than that! Our tour guide Casey was fantastic and really knew his stuff. He shared his knowledge with us on the plants and surrounding area and was a real charm to listen to.

After our taste of Cairns and Queensland, we took a flight to Darwin where we were soon jolting away in the back of a 4×4 all the way to Kakadu. Kakadu – almost half the size of Switzerland, is the largest national park in Australia. More than half the park is Aboriginal land – Aboriginal people have lived in Kakadu for more than 50,000 years! It is home to 2000 different plants and one third of all the bird species in Australia as well as over 10,000 crocodiles.

We had the pleasure of being led by Darren of Kakadu 4WD Safaris. It was an honour to be on Aboriginal land and see the rock paintings, swim in natural waterfalls and view the beautiful surrounding land with its flourishing green trees and stunning rock formations from the Ubirr lookout.

What wasn’t nice was the constant buzzing of flies around me trying to nosedive into any crevice available – my ears, my eyes, my nose, my mouth. What is it with these little critters getting all up in my grill?? Jeez. However, you know what they say – flies are attracted to s*t. So maybe I need to change my deodorant or shampoo!

I looked around and everyone else didn’t seem to be having as much trouble as me. I looked like I was doing some funky dance move as I darted around swatting the flies from my face. What is the point of them seriously? I want to get a hat and replace the corks with Venus fly traps so I can seek revenge on the repulsive pests!

Anyway, besides the flying irritants, the tour was really great. We had a great group –cheeky Charlie, the lovely Lucy and Luke and the crazy but cool fast talking Svelna to name but a few.

Darren – was a great tour guide and really looked after us. We had many discussions about the stolen generation and the treatment of the Aborigines. It’s so sad that their land was taken from them and children were taken out of their homes because the white man thought they were doing them a favour. Families have been ripped apart and a lack of identity is apparently a common occurrence amongst those who were taken to lead a so called better life!

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Jumping Crocodile Cruise – On route to Kakadu National Park

 

We learnt a bit more about the Aboriginal culture on our three-day visit to Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon. We did the trip with Mulgas and were picked up at 7am from Alice Springs to make the 5-hour trip to our campsite.

Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and we chatted the whole way discussing many subjects. We got dropped off at the campsite and then the tour guide had to pick up the other 19 passengers from the airport while we made lunch for them. Everyone mucked in and started cutting up salad and prepping the food. It was all a bit rushed but we didn’t mind as everyone was in good spirits. Shortly after the others arrived and there was hardly any time so we had to quickly eat, wash up and then go.

Our first stop was Uluru where we visited the cultural centre and learnt a bit more about Tjukurpa (Aboriginal law). Then we walked around the base, listening to the stories told by the guide.

We were then taken to the point where many people climb Uluru. It has a big sign asking people not to climb from the Aboriginal people as it is sacred to them, and yet there were people climbing it. I think it’s really disrespectful – you come to someone’s home and you are asked not to do something because it is a sacred site yet people do. It’s very sad but because the Aborigines lease the land to the federal parks service, they can’t stop people doing this completely. All they can do is encourage people not to. I don’t understand why people can’t respect their wishes!!

Perplexed at people’s decision’s, we soon left and drove to the viewpoint to watch the sunset overlooking Uluru with a champagne, cheese and biscuit selection set out on a little table. It was really lovely and a great end to the day.

Before long it was back to the campsite where we set up our swags. I opted not to have a sleeping bag and just sleep in the swag with my little Air Asia blanket. I was warned that it would be cold but I thought I’d rough it as I didn’t want to sleep in a sleeping bag that had hundreds of other people’s dead skin in it. Urrrggghh.

I was informed that they were washed after each trip but I wondered whether this was really the case. I still opted to sleep without one and after a few glasses of vino, I hit my bed for the night under the stars.

Well I should’ve definitely got a sleeping bag as I woke up in the middle of the night freezing. Damn it – why did I not listen! However, I wrapped my blanket around my shoulders and head and then soon warmed up. A couple of hours later, I was awake again as I really needed the loo but there was no way I was going to make a move in the pitch black until it was time to get up. I felt two things drop on my head and thought they must have been flying cockroaches and immediately squirmed underneath the blanket. I just wanted to get up for the day as I wasn’t really keen on having insects as neighbours.

At 4:45 (15 mins before we were due to get up) I got out of the swag and made my way to the showers where I prepped for the day ahead. Breakfast was a grab and guzzle or wharf down as again it was a fight against time to get to our destination on time. We were heading to watch sunrise over Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

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Sunrise over Uluru

 

Again it was really nice but there were lots of tourists and you had to try and squeeze through to get the money shot. The clouds were fluffy pink odd shapes and looked like candyfloss in the sky whilst the bright sun shone from behind the massive monolith and its size magnified with the light and dark contrasts.

Later we did a few hours’ hike around Kata Tjuta. I really needed a pee and so marched on as I had a mission and I also wanted a bit of exercise so a speed walk solved both problems.

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Kata Tjuta

At one point I was on my own and it was lovely. Not a human being in sight. Just the orange/red colours of Kata Tjuta and the green grass surrounded me. It was lovely. All I could hear were the birds and it felt nice to have peace and quiet for a while.

After our walk it was time for lunch and then our drive to the next camp site where we would be staying the night. After about an hour in, it was time to stop for firewood. It was here when I first noticed how the tour guide was a bit patronising. He got us to all pick up Mulga wood advising us that we shouldn’t get splinters as it can become infected as the Mulga wood is quite poisonous. Why would you have complete novices doing this?

However, none of us questioned it and we all tried to find bits of wood. He told us to put it all in a pile and so we did, then he told us that certain pieces of wood were too big so we had to break it up and then we had to untangle the bits of branches we had put in a pile. At this point people were getting scratched by the wood. It didn’t make sense; I mean bearing in mind none of us had ever started a fire before. If you know what size we need, then tell us and get us to break it up before putting it all in a pile – only for us to unravel it again. Then you make sarcastic comments such as “do you really think it’s going to fit on this trailer” and “why is one person breaking it up there’s 19 here” – probably because we can’t get to the wood until they’ve pulled their bit out mate!

Everyone in the group was lovely and trying to help but they were just confused about what to do. Anyway, soon all was forgotten and we were back at camp (which was a lot nicer than the first) and we were cooked a really nice meal by the guide who gave us some free time. It seemed like we were on the go constantly, constantly doing this and that – prepping, moving, cooking, cleaning and so it was nice that we had a bit of time to chill out before doing anything that night and it was nice that he allowed us a bit of time while he prepped. After dinner it was Didgeridoo time by the fire and lots of mugs (no glasses) of the ‘Fucking Good Port’ that I bought from Curtin Springs. This stuff is lurvelly!!! 13010753_10154868572758065_2403989543711470412_n

Before long we laid our heads to sleep underneath the stars and the burning embers of the fire. It was cosy and relaxing and not before too long, I was in the land of nod.

Forget your alarm clocks as the next morning we were awoken by the beautiful sounds of the Didgeridoo and warmed up by a few logs thrown on the fire. Despite me finding it really hard to open my eyes, it was a lovely way to wake up in the morning.

Again it was another rush to get sorted and out for the day. We headed to Kings Canyon for a walk and talk as the sun was rising. This glorious ancient sandstone canyon was probably my favourite part of the 3-day tour. The ancient formation of tall red rock faces with its crevices and Garden of Eden was just beautiful. We walked and talked and at each point there were sighs of amazement.IMG_3340

People were busy clicking away trying to savour the moment with their lenses so as to not forget. I don’t really take that long taking pictures but sometimes you have to wait for others to finish or not move so they can get the shot as well. As I was being courteous to others behind – we ended up being a bit behind the tour guide and the other group. When I finally caught up, he was waiting at the bottom with a few others beckoning me to hurry up. “If he thinks I’m running down this rock, he’s got another thing coming” I muttered as I walked down. He had been grinding my goat since yesterday and then he proceeded to bellow at the others “Hurry up”. I shut my mouth and I stood there for ten minutes while he did his talk, trying to not think about how rude he had just been.

Being a very polite group, everyone waited patiently and listened to his talk and only when he had finished they proceeded to take pictures of the beautiful overhang of the canyon which overlooked the valley.

Once again he proceeded to bark at us saying we must hurry up as we needed to move on. To which I replied sticking up for the others – “we’re taking photos”. Then the condescending phallus asked whether I wanted to lead the tour and then said if I wanted to take more time that I shouldn’t have booked a tour? Was this guy for real? All I can liken him to was thrush because he was an irritating – er well you know what I mean 😉

He had obviously forgot the meaning of being a tourist? Just because he visits the same place every few days doesn’t mean that us tourists who have paid good money for this tour want to skim over everything. Of course we want photos – we’re bloody TOURISTS!

Anyway, he then tried to turn it around on me and had the audacity to say I was being really disrespectful!! How? I merely pointed out we were taking pictures and that if there was a better view he should have told us as then people would obviously hurry up. At this point Sam got involved and told him flat out that he was being rude and he shouldn’t be treating us like school kids and to not speak to us both. He then advised it was hard to manage 20 people to which I sympathised and told him “I can appreciate that but…” and then the condescending twat interrupted with “I don’t think you can”. “You know what I can’t even be bothered with you” I replied.

I’m a very nice person but I also don’t put up with crap so I will take things to a certain point and then will say something when it gets too much. I had been nothing but nice, helpful and thoughtful on the whole trip (so have the other group members) yet when someone thinks they can treat me like a child, talk down to me or be rude – I’m not having it. If you want respect, then give it – simples!

I don’t know whether he was having a bad morning or was just one of those power tripping indviduals, but either way – this was our tour that we paid good money for! Don’t try and ruin it by being an arsehole and if you don’t like it – don’t be a tour guide!

Looking back, it is quite funny how some people behave but I don’t let people like that ruin my experience. He was a very knowledgeable guide and I learnt from him which was good. I thought it was a great experience to see these sacred sites up close and personal and for that I’m really grateful. The people were great and the food was good. I also showed that I was the bigger person and that there were no hard feelings by saying goodbye to him at the end. However, one thing I know is that I will never do another tour with Mulgas – not after this.

With my time in the Northern and Central Territory, I have learnt quite a bit. It appears that the Aborigines seem to have had and continue to have a hard time and I feel really sorry for them. A lot of people sit and judge the groups that congregate around areas in the street thinking that all Aborigines do is get drunk and cause a nuisance.

However, has anybody stopped to wonder why this happens? Could it be related to the lack of acceptance by some? Are there deeper issues at force that is causing many to turn to drink? Is it any different to the hordes of people who congregate in pubs getting drunk and being offensive? Why is one different to the other? Or is it yet another taboo subject that no one really wants to get to the bottom off?

Why isn’t the government doing more to help the traditional land owners and work together with them? Why can’t more be done to help those who need a little bit of help such as introducing government backed projects or funding the existing independent ones?

Why isn’t Aboriginal culture and history mandatory in all schools to help change views and encourage the next generations to work together? I do understand that you get conflicts between race and class everywhere but the level of segregation that seems to occur just doesn’t feel right. Being a London lass, I’m used to living in a multicultural society where all different races and cultures share good times and interact together. But over here you don’t really see that. Everyone sticks to their own more or less. But why? I don’t have the answer to what the solution is but I think the first step is acknowledging it!

 

 

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K’gari – the paradise island

I’ve just come back from K’gari (Fraser Island) and I am still buzzing! What an amazing weekend of camping, drinking, driving 4x4s and swimming in beautiful lakes. This blog or the pictures and videos below will not do this trip any justice and all I can say is that you have to do it yourself to fully appreciate and experience every moment.

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With an area of 184,000 hectares, it is the largest sand island in the world and the only place in the world tall rainforests are found growing on the sand

We arranged our tour through Happy Travels who placed us with the tour group Dingos. When we first arrived at the hostel in Rainbow Beach, it was as if we were walking into a rave. The music was blaring and everyone was getting drunk. I half expected there to be a line of young kids vomiting and fights breaking out after another hour or two. I took one look at Sam and immediately thought – what the hell! We were surrounded by teeny boppers and loud voices and for the first time, I felt a little bit out of place.

After checking in and heading for some food, we bumped into two other girls who looked like they were born in the same decade as us and started talking about how out of place we felt.

We decided that if you can’t beat em, then you need to join em. So we opted to go back to the bar but this time, unsurprisingly, it seemed a little more chilled. There was live music being played instead of grime and the bar didn’t seem as crowded – result!

Not after too long, we soon got through four bottles of wine and had a great time speaking to lots of different people and enjoying the music playing within the bar. In fact, we were the last ones left and had outdone the younger party lot. Funny how we were the last ones standing. In fact, we were probably worse than the younger lot we walked in on initially!

The day soon came and it was time for our big tour. We were split into groups and we all helped set up the cars and then it was time for our big camping adventure.

We boarded the barge and crossed the water to K’Gari and then it was miles of driving across the beach. It was quite hard to drive at first and I was a bit apprehensive but after a while, I soon got the hang of it.  With the music playing in the background and the wind blowing through my hair, I felt completely free.

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Ship Wreck on Fraser Island

 

We took it in turn to drive through various terrain to get to our camp, however Barry (one of our group members) did the most of it and for that I was grateful, especially as I was very hungover most of the weekend from what the backpackers drink and call goon. Its cheap white wine but gets you drunk quite quick. We thought one box would be enough for us but that was gone on the first night!

Once at camp, we had dinner then watched a traditional dance by one of the Butchella people –  the original natives of the land. Gemma who kindly welcomed us into her home sung and told the story behind each song whilst her daughter and niece acted out the dance. It was absolutely beautiful to watch and I for one felt extremely grateful for being accepted into their community and learning a bit about their way of life and beliefs. Just watching and listening got me teary eyed as I gazed on over the barely smouldering fire.

After the introduction to some of the Butchella legends, we made our way to Winkies where the Dingos’ own resident DJ – Anthony played a good set and kept us back packers entertained. It was camping but with those extra touches that made all the difference to our trip.

After hours of dancing and when the make shift club was turning us out – it was down to the beach for a little stroll.

We had to go to the beach in groups as it was not safe to go alone as dingo attacks had previously occurred when drunk and stupid people ventured off on their own. No one wanted another casualty or to ruin their night so this was a rule everyone seemed to adhere to. It was lovely to be on the beach at night. The waves crashed in the distance and the stars shone brightly above us. I have never seen stars as big or bright in my life. It was magical to see.

This weekend in Fraser Island has been one of the best weekends of my life – I have had a taste of culture, driven a 4×4 on the beach, been on a plane ride around the island, played drinking games, met amazing people, laughed, swam in crystal clear lakes, tea tree lakes and natural creeks. I have been at one with nature, camping, star gazing and in complete awe of my experience.

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Lake McKenzie

Our lead driver Jonesy (who led our convoy) was great, the food was great including a fantastic steak cooked by Marco (cheers mate), our group was fantastic fun and the landscape was incredible.

We’ve got Whitsundays tomorrow so I’m really looking forward to what’s ahead. However, I am also savouring every moment of what I have experienced so far and feel incredibly lucky. This decision has been one of the best decisions I have made and I recommend that if you ever have that itch to travel – do it! It probably will be one of the best experiences of your life too.

 

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