Now that I’m sitting in the airport, waiting for my flight to Santiago, Chile, via Auckland, New Zealand and I’m slightly depressed about the fact that I have to leave this amazing and beautiful country that I have grown to absolutely love, I’ve started thinking about when we first arrived in Sydney and our massive circle adventure. We have actually travelled in a massive circle, arriving in Sydney, travelling up the east coast, flying down to Melbourne, then back round to Sydney (with a pit stop in the centre of the circle at Ayers Rock). The Australian culture is happy, friendly and eager to get everyone active and involved – hence why Juliet and I have done an unbelievable amount since being here. Apart from visiting the west coast (that will be for another trip) we really have done everything there is to do… Climbing Sydney harbour bridge, drinks at the Sydney opera house, surf lessons, fed a kangaroo, held a koala, trekked and flown round Fraser Island, sailed round the Whitsundays, sky dived, extreme white water rafted, bungee jumped, zip lined through the rainforest, scuba dived with sharks at the Great Barrier Reef and even climbed Ayers Rock, Uluru. The fact that the royals, Will and Kate, were right behind us on our trip basically following our every move demonstrates how incredible the places we visited and the things we did were.
Despite the fact that it was all incredible and I would happily do it all over, I do have a few favourites along the way.
First of all Sydney.

20140526-092641-34001158.jpg I got massive déjà vu while exploring this city as it reminded me so much of my favourite city in the world, Cape Town. It was such a buzzy open space to be in, filled with a beautiful city, iconic landmarks, impressive harbours, beautiful beaches and vast park land and Juliet and I knew we loved it the minute we arrived, simply because all of this is in one city and every different section felt like a new place but still a part of Sydney at the same time.
The next place on our journey that captured our attention and hearts as much as Sydney was Noosa.

20140526-092749-34069032.jpg Noosa is the complete opposite to Sydney and the only way to really describe it is a place where rich city makers have their holiday beach houses. It was absolutely stunning, the beaches were perfect and the chic bars and restaurants along the beach front were always packed and full of life. Juliet and I spent hours on the beach looking at all of the glass front beach houses built up the mountain but overlooking the sea front wishing we owned one! Out hostel here was also so cute, completely pink from head to toe with only four people per room and every two rooms had it’s own bathroom and kitchen – such a luxury for hostels! (And it was right on the beach which is a bonus)
My all time favourite place out of the whole of our Australia travels came soon after that when we went on a CoolDingo tour to Fraser Island.


20140526-092905-34145408.jpg With a 75mile long beach, the most incredible crystal clear fresh water lakes, incredible vast bright orange sand dunes, a huge merino shipwreck washed up on shore and the most hilariously bumpy off road dirt tracks that we had to drive over on our bus, Fraser Island is one of the most beautiful and mesmerising islands I have ever been to. It was also made even better (if that’s possible) by the fact that our tour was absolutely fab and we met some really lovely people there – including Katie and Emily who we ended up travelling with after that! The best part of the trip was when we took a scenic short flight over the island meaning we could actually see how ridiculously long the stretch of beach is, how clear and beautiful the lakes are as from the sky we could see them reflecting the sun light AND we could see their amazing shapes (one is shaped like a butterfly!) and while we dropped low and flew over the ocean we even saw some sea life. Amaaaaazing!
Finally, the best thing I did while travelling Australia for two months was without a doubt my sky dive!

20140526-093041-34241907.jpg It was the most exhilarating and amazing adrenaline rush I have ever experienced and something I would love to repeat a million times over. We were FOURTEEN THOUSAND FEET high, can you believe that, FOURTEEN THOUSAND and it was actually surreal, unreal, that we were jumping out of a plane from that height. I remember looking out the window and seeing the outlines of islands in the ocean below the clouds, no other detail whatsoever and thinking right we’re jumping soon then asking my tandem guy if we were. I remember because he showed me his watch that calculated our altitude and we were at six thousand feet… Not even half way up. When the sliding door opened the cold air blasted us and before we knew it we were free falling nine thousand feet and at five thousand feet the parachute was pulled and we were floating over Australia, the ocean and basically the whole world – and it was amazing.

Literally every moment of Australia was incredible and these are just my top few memories but I know that I’m going to remember these two months forever. Australia is one of the most incredible, diverse and friendly countries I have ever been to and I have done some crazy but incredible things while I’ve been here, visited the most beautiful places and met the nicest people. Safe to say I will definitely be coming back here in the future.

Ps Juliet and I just queued for ages and tried to get on a flight before getting turned down as it was a flight to LA – hahaha idiots, now we’re right at the back of a very long queue, hopefully this one is for Santiago…

The waiting game

After being told numerous times that we had to be at the Ayers Rock airport two hours before our domestic flight, we arrived in good time to find the smallest airport on the planet. The departure area was one smallish room with a coffee shop… AND THAT WAS IT. And thanks to good old advice, we had two hours to kill here.
Thankfully Juliet and I are pros at killing time, playing cards, wandering round the small room and eventually it was time to get on the plane.
We said good bye to the big old rock…

And to the millions of flies, just as one landed on Nicole’s nose…

We then had a four hour flight which actually only took just over three hours and the whole plane was very happy to hear the news of our early arrival. (Juliet and I were more excited about the fact that we had five dollar vouchers to spend on plane food thanks to sta travel)
The nice couple that we stayed with at the beginning of our trip, Rachel and Fred, picked us up from the airport, welcoming Nicole to their busy home, and had roast lamb and rhubarb cake cooking when we arrived at their house. A nice home cooked meal was exactly what we wanted!

Tomorrow morning Juliet and I have a flight to Santiago. It leaves at 9.30am Sydney time and lands at 11.30am Santiago time on the same day, but we’re flying for 16hours. Basically this means that when we get on the flight at 9.30am it’s actually the evening in Santiago, so Juliet and I figured we should stay up all night then sleep as soon as we get on the plane and we will sleep straight through jetlag as we will be sleeping at Santiago night time. Our plan was going so well, waiting up, right until I nearly fell asleep so we swiftly moved rooms, changed environment and kept busy sorting through photos and reading up about Chile.
It’s now 2am and after all our waiting up, we’ve found out that actually we’re stopping off in New Zealand on the way to Santiago. Obviously if this is true, it’s going to interrupt mine and Juliet’s sleep (the one we were going to have through the Santiago night time). So basically our whole plan is ruined as we won’t have an uninterrupted sleep and we’ll be half jetlagged.
With three hours before we have to get up, Juliet and I have decided it’s sleep time (or nap time…) and are going to get a few hours sleep in before the flight, to make up for lost sleep while we stop in New Zealand!
Night night.

Sunset and snaps

This evening we did the reverse of this morning and headed into the desert to watch the sunset of Ayers Rock!
We made ourselves up the cutest picnic with sandwiches, crisps and biscuits, caught the Ayers
Rock Express
bus to the sunset view point and enjoyed!
At first we found a cute little opening with no one around and sat there to eat our picnic but soon realised no one was there because of the vile smell and the hundreds of flies buzzing around. (That’s one bad thing about Uluru, that there are SO many flies everywhere, it’s the most irritating thing ever!)
Anyways we swiftly found a more suitable bench, ate our picnic dinner and watched as the sun set and Ayers Rock changed from it’s luminous orange to a deep red, then purple, then grey then eventually a dull brown as the sun disappeared.




Here are some of my photos from all of today’s adventures…. (Including some photos using my new gopro!)

Uluru sunrise this morning:





The Water Hole:


The bench that was polished for Prince William and Kate to sit on:


The rock that looks like a smiling whale:


Our very steep climb up Ayers Rock:





Uluru is 2831ft high, we didn’t have time to get to the very top but we were so high:




And that concludes our very busy but absolutely incredible tour of Uluru (aka Ayers Rock)!

Journey to the big rock… (ULURU)

After a hideous twelve hour bus ride, where we all managed to bag ourselves double seats (I even had the seats opposite me clear so I lay across all four) and then a four hour plane journey, which was actually fab, we flew over the blue mountains and could see the desert and the huge rock formations from the sky, we arrived at Uluru! (Also known as Ayers Rock, this is the white name for it however the aboriginals want it’s former name to be restored.)
We made the most of the brilliant blue sky and and what was left of the sunshine until the evening where we super market shopped, made ourselves dinner and had an early night ready for our 5am start the next day.


5.15am – we’re up and getting ready for the day ahead.
6.00am – ready and waiting for our tour bus
6.15am – debating why we got up so early if the tour bus is late!
6.25am – tour bus arrives and we’re not on their list
6.30am – calls are made, their mistake not ours and we’re away! (Finally)

Our first stop was the Uluru sunrise lookout point, here we could see the whole of Ayers Rock and watch while the sun rose. As it did the sun light reflected off of the huge orange rock covering the whole of the desert in it’s beautiful orangey yellow haze and producing the most beautiful sunrise.


We then went on a scenic drive around the rock before getting out of the bus and exploring by foot.

Here we went on a cultural walk and learnt about the aboriginals beliefs on the markings in the rock and what these different stories taught them. For example there’s only one small section of the whole of the rock where there is a mossy green line the whole way down. Right next to this there is a huge gash in the rock pointing into a part of the rock that sticks out and is oval shaped. The aboriginals believe that the gash going into an oval is the symbol of a spear into a lambs leg, and a greedy lizard stole this lamb from the people who hunted it. He then took it up to a high cave and hid it when they asked if he had it. The hunts men knew the greedy lizard had stolen the lamb even though he denied so and so smoked him out of the cave. The greedy lizard ate all of the lamb he had stolen then when he went to look at the fire that was smoking him, he tripped and fell down the side of the rock, leaving a path of his green skin behind (the moss). This story teaches the aboriginals to not steal and to be honest and there are many more stories similar based on other parts of the rock.
After our cultural walk which took about two hours we visited a cave with aboriginal paintings which are over 30,000 years old and also the local water hole. This is also the part of Ayers Rock that the Royals, Will and Kate, visited last month, so all the park benches are newly polished and the path is pristine.


We then went to the cultural centre to learn more about the locals and to see some of their paintings and craft work. There were also two aboriginal women there painting their own work.
Next we took the bus to the base of the Ayers Rock climb, although a lot of people don’t agree with climbing the rock as it is sacred, Nicole, Juliet and I were keen to and so as our group went on another walk, we started our ascent. The side of Ayers Rock was unbelievably steep and the (sortof) helpful chains only start half way up! It was so difficult climbing up, it took us so long to even reach the chains and it was boiling hot and actually very windy once we weren’t actually shaded by the rock but on top of it! Because of time limitations and also our less fit travelling bodies we couldn’t get all the way to the top as we only had twenty minutes to get up and down and re join our group before our bus left, and getting down took much longer than up! Walking down a very steep, very slippery rock face with chains that are less than helpful is more difficult than you’d think!



Obviously we made it back in time as we are now by the pool enjoying the sun! This evening we are heading back into the desert to watch the Ayers Rock sunset and to have a picnic!
The photos I took today on both my go pro and my camera I will upload in a separate special blog, as I’ll have some more of the sunset this evening… so something to look forward to!

Goodbye Melbourne!

After a lovely lunch and an emotional goodbye to Sylvie, we headed back to the house to shower and pack and are now waiting for the right time to get our massive backpacks on and get the train to the bus stop. Then we will get on a bus for twelve hours to Sydney domestic airport, and then a plane for four hours to Ayers Rock.

It has been so amazing staying in Melbourne in a beautiful house with a double bed, private bathroom, delicious meals and lovely people. It doesn’t even feel like we’re backpackers anymore but the minute we get on the greyhound bus I’m sure we’ll remember our backpacker status again!! Melbourne is a crazily arty town and we’ve been shown the locals backstreets full of buzzy coffee shops and tea houses and incredible graffiti (I never thought those two words would be in the same sentence). We heard before we came that Melbourne has delicious food and we’ve definitely tested that theory out, eating steak, chicken, casserole and huge big breakfasts at home, but also sushi, Chinese, pizza and burgers in cool local restaurants. We’ve also tested out two amazing frozen yoghurt shops and a Spanish churros cafe so I think we’re sorted when it comes to tasting the Melbourne variety! We’ve been to the beautiful Saint Kilda beach and also supported them in a Aussie rules football match, aaaand luckily for us, we’ve had the most amazing weather. It’s winter here and before we arrived, everyone warned of the cold Melbourne winds and rain. However ever day that we’ve been here has been sunny, we’ve even had a couple of blue skies and never needed more than two layers.

I’m so sad to leave Melbourne and my amazing friend Sylvie and her family, but Nicole, Juliet and I are so excited to explore Ayers Rock and the outback and to see some actual aboriginals and their culture!
Stay tuned…







Picnic in the Park

The other perks about being in a house is variety of food, in a hostel you’ve bought the food already (for us it’s whatever’s cheapest), so for breakfast it’s normally Cole’s own brand cereal and so when you wake up, that’s what you get… Cole’s own brand cereal. Whereas living in Sylvie’s house means I could wake up and have fruit, toast, cereal, yoghurt… You name it! And yesterday Sylv and I made the best breakfast ever.


We then went to the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne to have a picnic! The weather was surprisingly nice for a winter Melbourne day with bright blue sky and it was maybe 23plus degrees. The botanical gardens are beautiful with big stretches of greenery and amazing trees and water fountains. We found the bit of grass we wanted to picnic on, lay out our mat, eat loaaaaads of picnic food then laid in the sun, talking and eating.


Our whole day seemed to be revolved around food and that evening we went to The Tea Room for a Chinese. We came home feeling so full that we found it difficult to walk and then ofcourse all piled on the bed again for another movie night.


Melbourne Markets and Movie Nights

There’s something about being in a very homely home, having double beds and not having roommates disturbing you, that is allowing us to sleep in until practically lunch time every day. After another amazing lie in, we headed into Melbourne to visit Victoria Market, a very famous market that they have on Victoria Street, and to explore.
We took the wrong train in by accident and so ended up quite far away from Victoria, and had to power walk all the way there in fear of arriving after the market had closed down for the day. When we arrived we were immediately struck by the strong fish and cheese smell coming from the fresh food stalls with men shouting about their amazing produce. We found the most incredible pasta stall with every different kind of pasta you can think of, made by every different kind of vegetable, in so many varieties of shapes, sizes and designs.

Our second favourite stall was the Macaroon Stall, where there were beautiful looking macaroons, all homemade and smelling amazing! The best looking was the bubblegum one, with a swirly multicoloured exterior.

Juliet and I then took Nicole to ‘Grilled’ a healthy burger restaurant which they only have in Australia but it’s so fab so we told her she had to go before we left! And ofcourse she loved it! Lunch was very late and we sat chatting in the restaurant for ages before catching the train back to the house and watching a film with Sylvie.
We had a delicious steak dinner (seriously, we are being spoilt here!) then the plan was that we would all go out to a club. However… We all got so comfy watching films that we decided we’d rather spend money on ice cream so we went to the shop, bought some Ben and Jerry’s then had a girlie movie night in bed and it was so cute!
This morning I set my alarm so that I could FaceTime the whole fam at home (hey fam), minus Henny, and as the sky is bright blue, I am so ready to see what today has to offer! Sitting in the lounge on a big comfy sofa, with the family dog running up and sitting on my lap, helping myself to fresh fruit and orange juice, sleeping in a big double bed…. I’m beginning to forget what being a backpacker is like!

The real St Kilda

This morning after the most amazing lie ins we’ve ever had, honestly till about 12pm, we had a massive breakfast/brunch and waited for Sylvie to get home from uni – in half an hour… (We really did oversleep)
The we all piled into the car (Louis, Sylvie’s dog, aswell) and headed to St Kilda, which is about a ten minute drive, for a walk on the beach.

St Kilda really is a beautiful place, with glass modern houses overlooking the vast beach and sea and small docks of sailing boats waiting to be taken out. Even though the clouds were in the sky, the sun was shining through and it was a beautiful day and walk.






We also ended up at Luna Park, a massive amusement park which they also have in Sydney! (Ofcourse the people from Melbourne say there’s is better)


After a good two hour walk along the beach and through the streets of St Kilda, we went to meet some of Sylvie’s friends who live there, then headed back home to get ready to go to a bar in the city with her group of friends.






Getting to know Melbourne (AND AUSTRALIAN FOOTY!)

This morning we were up early, ready to explore Melbourne city centre with our own personal tour guide, who lives here! (Sylvie)

We mastered the Melbourne trains and their touch card ticket system then headed down Melbourne’s main high street.


Sylvie took us down fashion ally ways, art streets, to tea houses, quirky shops and we even saw a flash mob! Basically everything and everywhere that you would never think to do or see if you didn’t live in the city! We had a real insiders look at the quirkiness and artyness of the city.



For lunch we found a cute coffee shop in the back arty streets of Melbourne, crammed with cakes, wraps, scrambled eggs and a whole lot of locals – and it was delicious!
When Sylvie left for work, Nicole, Juliet and I headed off to browse the shops, gets some frozen yoghurt (we’re obsessed) and hunt down some face paint for tonight…

The reason being that we were going to an Aussie Rules Football Match! The game was St Kildas (a Melbourne team that we were supporting) again The Gold Coast.



We got the train there (as we knew what we were doing now) and arrived at a beautifully lit up stadium (the Etihad) overlooking the water.


Aussie Rules is a bizarre game but we immediately got so into it, screaming and whooping and booing and cheering! The game itself was created by the aboriginals but it’s basically a mix between rugby and football with a bit of basketball and netball thrown in. The pitch is oval shaped and so is the ball and the players can’t run more than two steps with the ball but they can tackle whoever, bounce it, kick it and if they catch a kick they get a free kick without being tackled themselves. The goal posts are similar to rugby and the ball has to be kicked through to score a goal but there is also two more outer posts and if the ball is kicked through these they get a point, then a certain amount of points (we couldn’t work out how many) creates a goal. It sounds complicated (which it is) but it was easy enough to follow and we seriously enjoyed it! It was so much fun watching them falling over trying to chase the oval ball and pushing each other while sprinting around on the oval pitch! What a great experience watching an Aussie rules Australia football match in Australia, with Australians!