Can I describe my Australian experience in one word, probably not! The two months I spent in Oz were incredible to say the least, I experienced something new everyday and was constantly amazed not what only by what I achieved but the sites I saw and the people I meet along the way. The Oz Experience pass was a great way to see the sights and as I had no idea what many of the tours involved I was always surprised and pleased by what was offered. Picking an Australia highlight is very difficult, Uluru has long been a dream of mine, however Magnetic Island is definitely an underrated jem. The people I met made my Australian adventure all the better, and as they say you never really travel solo!
Uluru, one of the reasons I came to Australia. Another early start and another 500kms before finally glisping sight of the rock itself. Breathtaking. The first day of tour involved a visit to the Uluru aboriginal culture centre and exploring the rock. Our guide, Jake told us many aboriginal stories as we wandered around the base of the rock. Later that evening we headed to get a look and take many photos of Uluru in all its glory before watching the sunset and camping out in swags under the stars.
The following day started nice and early once again with an Uluru sunrise. Unfortunately the weather was not fully on our side, but it was still incredible. Following this we headed to Kata Tjuta for our first big hike of the trip. Surprisingly it actually started raining which was a nice change from the heat of the previous day and the views at the end of the walk were spectacular. That afternoon we headed out towards Kings Canyon via what the locals know as Fuluru which has fooled many a Japanese tourist.
As per norm the next morning started well before sunrise so we could tackle ‘heart attack’ hill while it was still dark. This marked the start of our 7km Kings Canyon walk. Once at the top of the Canyon we were treated to a spectacular sunrise to start the day. Following on from this we crossed through the Canyon to the Garden of Eden and along the other ridge, which of course had spectacular views. Following on from this we begun the journey back to Alice Springs, making sure to stop at a camel farm for a quick ride.
My experience on Wayoutback Safaris was incredible, both my guides Katherine and Jake were incredibly knowledgeable of the area and aboriginal history, great chefs and supportive during all the walks, no matter how much I moaned! I would recommend everyone visits Uluru at least once in their life – it truly is a breathtaking place and a fantastic one to end my Aussie adventure.
Follwing a night in a hotel (luxury!), I headed off bright and early to join a trip through Kakdu and Litchfield National Parks with Wayoutback Safaris on the first stage of my adventure to Uluru. The first stop was Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve. This was a side of Australia different to what I had seen before and a true example of what the wet season can do to an area. Following on from this we visited an aboriginal culture centre as well as a tour of some original aborigional rock art which indicates what life was like for those living in the area. Day one finished with a short hike up a rock for a view of the whole park.
Day two started bright and early, for a river trip to spot some crocs. We were very luckily that one crocodile decided to hang around our boat long enough to take plenty of snaps! This tour also provided an opportunity to see many other native birds. Following on from this we headed to another aboriginal culture centre and then to a swimming spot. Following on from this we left Kakadu National Park and headed to our evenings campsite via several small townships – one of which we were allowed to hold snakes!
The final day saw another early start as we ventured to Litchfield Narional Park. Our first stop was the Magnetic Termite mounds which are aligned with the sun and then yet anther waterfall (Australia is full of them!) before another hike to a river which was beautiful, and safe for swimming! Following this we headed back to Darwin, where I had a rest day before heading out on tour again!
My three days in Cairns were certainly action packed! Day one involved a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef. I’d already snorkelled on the Reef once before down at the Whitsundays, and on this trip there was almost no wind and as result the views in the water were incredible, it felt like you could see for miles. It was incredible just how close the fish would come up to you, it truly felt like being in an aquarium. Of course since it was Paddys Day a night out was in order!
The next day, very tired and slightly hungover I headed out to the Atherton Tablelands on a trip organised by Barefoot tours, the last inclusion in my Oz Experience package. The first stop on this trip was Devils Pools were a quick dip was in order to properly wake us up. The next stop was my favourite on the tour, Josephine Falls. Here were able to slide down a natural waterfall – which was a first for most of us on the tour. Following this we headed to Mila Mila Falls, were they film the Herbal Essensces adverts.
My final day in Cairns was spent up at Cape Tribualtaion and the Daintree were in true rainforest fashion it bucketed it down! Nevertheless we had a great day, travelling independently this time in a hire car through the rainforest and seeing our first Cassowary!
Following on from Magnetic Island I made a quick stopover in Misson Beach before heading up to Cairns the following day. The hostel I was staying at was located up amongst the trees in a beautiful location. Along with a couple of others staying at my hostel we headed out to Lacey Creek for a swim following a jungle walk. The river was beautifully refreshing following the hot walk. – and there were no crocs! Although my time in Mission Beach was short and sweet I can definitely recommend it as a place to stop and soak in the atmosphere!
Following on from Airlie Beach what should have been a short hop to Townsville was stretched out due to a broken air con on the Greyhound. When we finally made to Townsville the Greyhound convienently dropped us right outside the ferry terminal for Magnetic Island, an underrated spot in Australia. The first day was spent lounging around the pool and chilling at the hostel which had a perfect location right on the beach!
Many people come to Magnetic Island to hire a 4 wheel drive and explore the island. And this is exactly what we did on day two! Our first stop was Alma Bay for some snorkelling and spoting some rock wallabies! Following on from this we headed to Horsehoe Bay for lunch and a stinger suit free swim! Following this we did our first spot of off-roading as we headed down to one of the most beautiful spots on the island – Radical Bay. The journey was full of potholes and we were careful not to scratch the car! Radical Bay was one of the most perfect spots on a beautiful island. One of the reasons many people hire a 4WD on Magnetic Isalnd is so they can head down to West Point and watch the stunning sunset, and that’s what we did. Following on from this we headed out for dinner as after travelling together for a week (that’s a long time in traveller terms) it was our last night together!
The next morning we returned the car before chilling out by the pool and then saying goodbye to this island Paradise and heading back to the mainland.
As part of my Oz Experience package I was booked onto the Cool Dingo Fraser Island tour including a pre-nights accommodation on the island. I was picked up mid-morning for the ferry ride over to Fraser Island were I first meet some of my fellow tour buddies. That afternoon we were free to explore the island and the resort ourselves and my fellow pre-nighters undertook a short walk out to a lookout and along the beach to watch the sunset and enjoy a few cocktails beachside.
We were up bright and early the next morning to meet our fellow travellers before heading out to one of the most famous sites on Fraser Island – Lake McKenzie. The freshwater lane is almost crystal clear and beautiful to swim in and relax next too. Following lunch the next stop was a walk out to Central Station through the Wanggoolva Creek, a previous hub of the island, where in true wet season style we were all soaked by a passing shower. Following the walk, we had afternoon tea and the Fraser Island cookie tradition was born, it became so that cookies were consumed before and after any activity or bus ride. Fraser evenings were mainly spent chilling out in our lodge, playing drinking games and having emotional sing-a-longs thanks to one of our group who’d brought his guitar.
The second day on Fraser stated with a drive along the sand highway, out to the Chamange Pools stopping at the Maheno shipwreck along the way – of course more cookie were consumed! In the afternoon we walked out to Indian Head, the highest point on Fraser Island, for spectacular views of the island. Our final stop was Eli creek for more swimming, and tubing down the river – of course I was the one who fell out the stationary rubber ring! It was here that the intense volleyball completions begun as we tried to get 10 hits in a row!
The final day of the tour started with stand-up paddle boarding, or sit down in my case at Lake Birrabben before an all you can eat lunch, not made the most of as we were all stuffed from the cookies! After lunch we trekked over the Hammerstone Sandblow to our final lake of the trip, Lake Wabby. The final part of the trip involved the ferry back to Hervey Bay from where I caught the night bus to a Airlie Beach.