God, where do I start. I wish I had started this from day one on the 3rd of December when all my travels first begun but I’m starting on the 17.01.15! I apologise now for the any spelling mistakes and bad grammar. I am extremely hungover from last nights bonfire at the beach with everyone from the hostel. Goon, guitars and marshmallows. Perfect.
So yes, first stop DUBAI!! I remember how excited I was to visit Dubai and to see one of my best friends (aka wifey) as I hadn’t seen her for ages and had always said how one day I would go and visit her.
I spent 5days in Dubai and it was mind blowing. Everything was completely over the top and eye catching but I loved it. My wife knew all the best places and things to do so my 5days were jam packed with cool and pretty exciting stuff that I’d never thought I’d see or do. Amazing nightclubs and crazy buildings, the best beaches, desert safari, bus tour of Dubai visiting all the markets, museums and sights, the stunning musical waterfalls and of course one of the highlights, DUBAI RUGBY 7s. I had such an amazing time and wanted to just stay awake the whole 24hours so I could see everything! Also managed to squeeze in a cheeky visit to see Gareth (my aunties brother) which was so nice. I would definitely love to go back to Dubai one day and learn even more about their crazy rules and culture as it was pretty epic.
It was time to say goodbye to my wifey on the 9th of December after what can only be described as a mind blowing experience. We hugged about a thousand times and then off I went to hit the road (and sky) again to head for Austraila!
I remember being filled with mixed emotions and just wanted to cry when I got to the airport, from speaking to my auntie, dad and mother on Skype whilst my plane was delayed and the fact that I had just left such an awesome place and friend, but then I was also excited and a tad nervous about going to Oz too. So I was pretty much a wreck LOL. Those emotions soon came out as I stepped on the plane when I basically had a panic attack in front of everyone, god only knows why, but I was so embarrassed afterwards. Thinking back to it now it is extremely funny. Only me aye!
Any who’s, walking out of the terminal I was greeted by my three cousins, Deb, Di and Lily. So it was hugs all round and we headed straight to their house in Rutherford, NSW. IN THE RAIN!!
I stayed with Di for about a week. She was fab and showed me all the local sights, told me all about the area, facts and interesting stories. During my stay me, Di and all of the kids visited Oakvale Farm where I got to feed and touch all of the Australian animal. Yes, including a kangaroo and koala. Amazing!!
All of my stuff quickly turned from two suitcases to this….
My backpacker trip had soon begun and my first stop was sydney. I was only there for 3days but my feet are still sore from how much walking I did in that time, I think I practically walked to every inch of the city. But totally worth it!
Sydney was not what I expected but not in a bad way, it had so much history in one city which was fascinating but there were wayyyyy to many tramps for my liking. It was also my first hostel experience, where I stayed at the BIG hostel on Elizabeth street. It was definitely a learning curve staying at a hostel and I will never use a plastic bag for anything ever again no matter what my mother says! If you don’t understand what I mean by this then go and sleep in a room with someone who has a everything wrapped in plastic bags. No sleep for you haha! I took in so many tips and tricks on how to travel best from other travellers.
To cut it short my time in Sydney included:
- Climbing the harbour bridge with my cousin (yes another cousin) and his girlfriend, or should I say Fiancé now 😉. They got engaged the night before the climb. How romantic!
- The domain candle light Christmas carols
- Walking around the opera house
- Martin place, experiencing the hair rising atmosphere and people sending their prays to the lives lost on that horrific day
- The botanic garden: beautiful
- Paddys market where you can buy anything and everything including a sword and fake any things.
- Had food in China town – delicious
- Darling harbour
- The rocks market, where there was hundreds of unique stalls with hand made gifts and fresh food
Another really awesome thing I noticed about Sydeny was the music. Buskers EVERYWHERE and they were all so different and unique, easpecially the catfish bottle man who was playing Christmas carols using empty beer bottles (the video is on my Facebook page). But my time in sdyney was pretty cool and I will definately be returning throughout the year.
Christmas Day on the beach. Enough said right?!?
This was my first ever Christmas away from home and it was certainly rather different!! I was lucky enough to still have family around me though and we all had breakfast together, went to the beach and then everyone went around to Ceris (my other cousin; there are so many of us) for the evening, with games including beer pong and sing star, which was never going to be a good mix, LOL, lots of food, happiness, laughter and plenty of Skype calls to wish my welsh family a very Merry Christmas who I was missing and still miss so much. But it truly was a beautiful Christmas. Thank you to everyone who made it extra special and for all the gifts I recieved, including the austrailan pandora charms which will always remind me of my Christmas in Oz.
Austrailan New Years
HAPPY NEW YEARSSSS TO ALL!!!!
For New Years I travelled North up the NSW Coast to Forster to stay in Debs holiday unit which was in a stunning location on the beach. This meant that I enjoyed my New Year’s Eve and day chilling out on the golden sand, with lily teaching me how to handle the Austrailan waves! Let’s just say the beach saw a few more sights than they probably were expecting that day, goodbye dignity, ha!
My time at Forster was pretty cool, lots of laughter, relaxing, swimming, cricket watching, card playing and bbq eating took place that week and I also got introduced to a christian group that we liked to call the “clappers”. One of the days we visited the big buzz which was an activities type centre, so I felt like a big kid for the day going on the go karts and slides etc. and I also managed to get up at 5.30am one morning to watch the beautiful austrailan sunrise on the beach which was immense and briefly followed by a cheeky beach circuit too!
But I have to say my favourite day was most definitely the boat trip on the river with deb and the family and also debs friends family too who were all so lovely. They all taught me how to fish for the first time, which I surprisingly really enjoying and even caught my very own flat head!! Go me, woohoo!!
This was a proud and exciting moment for me if you can’t tell enough from picture above.
Time to go it alone….Coffs Harbour and my first farm work experience
After being with the oz family for the majority of December I decided to then go it alone, travelling up the North Coast of NSW to a place called Coffs Harbour. With some help from Ceri we had organised for me to do some agricultural work, so I could get started on my 88days to help gain my second year visa. Therefore i completed some WWOOFing (world wide opportunities on organic farms) on a blueberry and garlic farm in the outback called Upper Orara with a lovely couple named Tessa and Julian and their two adventurous children Sam, 11 and Ben, aged 9. In return for 8 hours work a day I recieved free accommodation and food, which I thought would be ideal for me.
I first arrived at the farm around 7pm so it was nearly dark, I took a quick look around and I was not a happy bunny. It was a complete cultural shock. I had gone from being looked after and loved by my oz family for a month to feeling completely alone and uncomfortable with my surroundings in the middle of no where. No internet, no televisions, no phone signal, no microwave with ticks, fleas, spiders, frogs, nits, wasps, ants and god knows what other insects EVERYWHERE….I felt like screaming for help and I just couldn’t believe that people lived like this! I took a deep breath and tried not to cry and just thought ‘relax and give it a go, you will be ok’. So just went straight to bed and had an early night.
Woke up still feeling the same, but after two nights I got weirdly used to it all. Got ready for work at 8am where I walked down the beautiful scenic green route to the blueberry patches. In the peaceful setting I happily picked away for 3hours before stopped for organic morning tea at 11am, followed by 2 hours of sorting the blueberries into first, second and third condition punnets, whilst chatting away to Tessa. Lunch at 1pm then back down to he blueberry patch for the last 3hours of picking. It was bewildering to see how everything worked and how amazing it is seeing organic fruit grow so fresh like that.
I was always finished by 4pm and in the evenings we would have dinner together and do a small activity, like cricket. Being as sporty as I am I always enjoyed this. One evening we went down to the small lake at the bottom of their farm, where they have kayaks and similarly to the rest of their land, it was beautiful.
I only spent one week at the farm instead of the 3weeks that was orginally planned. But it made me realise and reflex a lot. In a good way. Never judge things on first impressions and appearances because the passion, beauty and hard work behind it all soon takes over everything else. It was a fascinating experience!!
I stayed in my second hostel called Aussitel and it was fricking awesome. I was there for around 4 weeks and couldn’t of had a better time. In that time I experienced so many new things;
- Surfing for the first time and getting caught in a rip tide which lead to me being saved by a life guard. I was so shocked at how easy and dangerous it is to get caught out at sea, but hysterical afterwards of course.
- Meet some awesome Swedish people who taught me how to speak some basic Swedish and also allowed me to eat and actually enjoy Swedish meatballs (yes REAL meat. I know right!!)
- Paddle boarding and NOT falling off as huge sting rays were swimming directly underneath me
- Goon kayaking down the beautiful creek which lead to heaps of laughs everytime.
- Fishing and rope swinging on the creek
- Jumping of the jetty bridge, which took some balls as it’s pretty high. I literally had to take four very deep breaths and JUMMMPPPPP (the video is on Facebook and highly amusing)
- Wednesday night outs at the Coffs hotel. Karaoke, foam party’s and LOTS of dancing.
- Two words: HOUSEEEE KEEPINGGGGG!!! Good old life saving Canadian Coy.
- Experienced how it felt to be a slave for 1 day at a blueberry farm. Never again!
- Hired a car and drove in Australia, (tick!) – 4 cars of us from the hostel went on an adventure and visited the promised land and the dangar waterfall which was incredible. It surely was natural beauty at its best. Swam a lot and swung on trees swings, followed by a BBQ.
- Went to the dolphin marine magic were I got to feed, pet, kiss, play and have photos with the Dolphins, sea lions, penguins, turtles and fishes!! They were all such Incredible animals and I loved going to visit them ❤️
Other sights and activities I did in Coffs Harbour were mutting bird Island, seagul view point and the botanic gardens where I got lost wandering around all the stunning areas such as the rainforest, creeks walk and the green houses.
Two words…..AUSTRALIA DAY!!!! I spent this celebration at the hostel (26/1/15). My day consisted of getting up at 5am to watch the sunrise, with a surprise visit from a few large turtles and dolphins with Jo and Lucy. I then ran the assuie day 10k fun run with Jackson and achieved a PB – hell yeah – completed 10k in 49mins and 45 seconds being the 9th girl to cross the finish line out of 28 and 84 people. Sweeeettt!! It was such a different racing experience with the course being mainly on sand in the 30 degree heat and humidity. Let’s say I was rather red after I finished!! But it was worth it and I felt so happy and proud. After this I went to the botanic gardens for the saltwater festival which is all about the traditional aboriginal cultures and ways celebrating all things Australian through music and stalls. I took part in traditional emo dancing (hysterical) and looked at all the different handmade stalls. Even casually bumped into a red headed black venomous snake too, scary!! After this we all came back to the hostel and celebrated assuie style. BBQ, pool games, drinking games etc. it was hammering down with rain but we made the most of it. Highlight of the evening was everyone jumping fully clothed in the pool at 10pm. We were just having a good time with laughs and hugs flying around everywhere. Happy happy happy!! It’s a day I will always remember and will continue to celebrate for sure haha!
Soo……on the 31st of Janurary 2015 I only went and did a freaking SKY DIVE!!! What an amazing experience it was with two other girls from the hostel, mel and Rebecca. No words can describe the experience, It completely took my breath away and my instructor Andre (what a portigese babe) even had to tell me to scream so I could get my breath back throughout the fall. Somehow I had to be thrown, literally, out of the plane first. Everything Andre told me before hand was wiped from my mind as soon as he opened the aeroplane door. It was freezing cold, with me being 14,000 feet in the sky and my excitement soon disappeared and was replaced by fear. I held on so tight to the aeroplane handles and didn’t want to let go. Andre screamed in my ear “let’s goooo” and off we dropped. A lot of swear words were word vomited out which soon turned into amazement and I couldn’t believe my eyes what I was seeing. The beautiful beachs, mountains, clouds and sea all from the sky. Incredible. We travelled 190mph for 60 seconds and it was truely mind blowing before Andre opened the parachute where I then begun to come back to life. I popped my ears and reassured Andre that I was ok, followed by lots of go pro pictures and hi fives. We then paraglided down towards the beach ready for the landing. Andre let me use the strings to steer us in the sky, which was more difficult than it looked. We went round and round picking up speeds, having an even cooler experience. I got ready for my landing, sticking my feet out in front, starring at the golden sand. Landed. I laughed, swore and felt all sorts of emotions in just 3 minutes. Andre helped me up off the floor and asked me how I felt and I honestly couldn’t put it into words for him. I had trusted this guy with my life and he took me through an unforgettable experience which I will cherish forever. Outstanding!
Amongst all of this excitement I actually did do some Cucumber farming too with Lucy which was yet another strange experience. I’m glad Lucy was with me as it made it go much quicker when laughing, chatting and basically making fun of each other questioning what on earth we were doing there in the first place. Picking, mulching, bagging saw dust, cutting ropes whilst balancing and skating on a wheelbarrow and carrying was what it mainly consisted off. Super duper boring work for just $10 an hour (£5) but bobby the farmer was a nicer guy than any other farmers Ive experienced or heard about from the guys at the hostel so I didn’t mind so much. Me and Lucy worked along side 4 hillbillies which was quite interesting, hearing their stories and seeing their way of life. The one guy has even been picking cucumbers for nearly 4 years. Insane!! During lunch time they wouldn’t eat but instead they would whip out their weed and smoke it out of a can of coke. So bizarre! Me and Lucy just couldn’t believe our eyes when they first did it. All we had to think about though was tallying up the days for our second year working visa! And that we did, after working just one week bobby signed us off for 17 days, sweeetttt!!
The weekend of the 6th of February Ceri and the family came up to Coffs Harbour as Harrison had a football tournament. They booked themselves into an amazing apartment which they let me stay at. It was luxury for me as I had a double bed, comfy pillows, an oven, freezer and washing machine…HEAVEN! It was amazing to see them all again and on the Saturday we went to watch Harrison play football in the sun and in the evening they took me out for an early birthday meal to a geogours Thai and Viennese near the beach. The food was unbelievable. Barring in mind that I hadn’t eaten out for over a month this was just the BOMB!! Ha. After food they surprised me with a caramel and chocolate cheesecake which was also insanely good. We then heading to the hoey moey pub over the road and boogied th night away. I couldn’t thank them enough for everything they had done for me that weekend, including bringing me a parcel and cards that had been sent from home ready for me to open on my birthday, sooo cute!! They are the best.
So after nearly 5 whole weeks in Coffs Harbour it was time to say goodbye. The people I have met at the hostel were just so cool from all over the world. It was sad to say goodbye to most of them but that’s all part of the journey aye and it’s one I will never forget. So many memories and new experiences took place in the small town that is Coffs Harbour!!
Photos in order are; danger falls, cake making fun, bonfire at the beach, paddle boarding etc on the creek, my two favourite Swedish people, hire car day trip fun , botanic gardens, Australia Day sun rise, 10k assuie fun run and number, saltwater festival, Sky diving, early birthday meal and the cheesecake, the dolphin marina fun.
Byron Bay – 9.2.15-11.2.15
The 9th of February came around and the adventure had to be continued, next stop BYRON BAY! My expectations were so high as I had heard so much about how everyone loved Byron. Kay was kind enough to drive us from Coffs to Byron and we all sang the whole way (myself, Lucy and Kay) which was hysterical as always. We checked in at the Backpackers inn hostel on Shirley drive. It was all very different to good old Aussitel but soon dropped our stuff off and headed down to all the different beaches and view points, even went up to see the lighthouse which was beautiful. We stopped for a bit of lunch and then chilled out on the beach. Kay then had to leave to head back to Aussitel (she works there) so it was hugs all round and me and Lucy then spent the rest of the evening planning out our next stops along the Gold Coast.
Tuesday the 10th. I went for an early morning jog to see a bit more of byron quickly as we only had two nights there. Afterwards we met up with an old university friend of mine, Laura, who is also travelling Oz alone. It was soooooo good to see her as we had loads to catch up on. Me Lucy and Laura all walked up to the lighthouse again, as there isn’t much to do in byron, just mainly beaches and surfing are the activities, but we went in side it this time which was cool, then walked to the most easterly point in austraila! The rest of the day consisted of window shopping and planning our next travelling stop. In the evening however we did go to a bar which was abit like the Welsh Walkabout in Cardiff called the Cheeky Monkeys. Me and Lucy went and had a drink, put on some face paint, had a glow stick in hand and danced on the tables, so it was a fun night in the end for sure!! At this point we had already bumped into other travellers who we had seen along the way, so always a happy surprise to see them again.
Overall byron bay was beautiful but it wasn’t as hyped as we wanted it to be so didn’t really get the best experience as we had hoped for there. It’s a more relaxed, chilled out place whereas us three wanted to go do things and be adventurous travellers.
Superb Surfers Paradise: 11.02.15-14.02.15
Next stop Surfers Paradise!! Went knowing nothing about the place but ended up falling in love with it. Completely different experience to byron bay. There was sooooo much to do and such a creative community. Me, Lucy and Laura all went together and stayed in a hostel called surf n sun, which was an upgrade to our byron hostel too! Had cool roommates and our own shower (amen). As soon as we got there we put our walking shoes on and headed out. The sun was shining and I remember us all feeling amazing and so happy to be there. We wanted things to do so we were out on a mission to find some activities, after eating a full English breakfast of course down the local surfers club. yum! After some thought we decided that we all wanted to go to the theme parks as they wasn’t far, so we went and booked a 3 day pass for Dreamworld, Water world and the Q1 sky point. To do this we had to sort out transport so we rented a lush red mini for the 2 days and off we went like big kids, we were ridiculously excited.
The first night though we went on the surfers big pub crawl with all the other hostels in the city. Hopped around 4 different big clubs in surfers which was insane! It wasn’t that busy but we made our own fun and had a proper girls night out! Just what the doctor ordered 😛
The next day we headed to Waterworld (yes on a hangover and about 4 hours sleep but totally worth it). It was so cool and I loved all the different slides they had. We hopped over then to dream world and had a look about. Everything was so colourful and bright which made us feel just the same 🙂 We all loved the theme parks and would definately go back!
During the other evenings we walked around the surfers town as it was always busy. They had Disney sand sculptures everywhere along the beach front which was so imaginative and clever how they were able to make them out of just sand. On the Friday there were also outdoor markets which were probably the best markets I’ve seen so far in Oz. I just love surfers paradise, the city was always alive, vibrant and clean and I also got introduced to the chocolate shop ‘Max Brenna’ there too, uh oh, dangerous for a chocoholic!!
Saturday morning soon came around quick and it was time for us to leave the beautiful surfers paradise. We quickly had to do an early morning trip to the Q1 sky point as it was the only time we had left to do it (7am, yuck) before our bus arrived, but I’m glad we did as it was beautiful to see the whole of the Gold Coast from the tallest building in surfers with lots of interesting facts attached.
The big city of Brisbane: 14.02.15-18.02.15
It’s Valentine’s Day and we caught the greyhound to Brisbane. It was time to say goodbye to Laura as she headed to a different hostel to me and Lucy, but it was so nice to see her again and have the chance to share part of my Aussie experience with her. We arrived at our Base central hostel and it was a complete shit hole! (Pardon my French but it was). It stunk of damp and it was like a run down Adams family building and don’t get me started on the lift! Me and Lucy went straight into panic mode and dropped our bags off to look for a different hostel in the city. We managed to find a good one called Brisbane City backpackers which we moved into the next day. But our one night in Base ended up being pretty class in the end. We had amazing room mates and soon all got chatting, resulting in playing an hysterical drinking game called ring of fire followed by going out to the down under back packers bar until 3am. Fantastic night! We laughed all night with stupid dance off’s and drinking games. It wasn’t your typical romantic valentines evening but it was a freaking awesome anti valentines one!
Woke up early to check out and check in to our new hostel up the road on Upper Roma Street then headed out to be top tourists and explore what the city had to offer. My first impression on brisbane wasn’t the best but it soon changed the longer I was there for sure. There was so much free stuff to do (Bonus) such as the museum, clock tower, ferry across the river, the man made lagoon in South bank, botanic gardens and free internet everywhere!! It was great and me and Lucy made sure we did it all. I loved the man made lagoon on the river side, even thought it was man made it was still cool to see and surprisingly relaxing and peaceful, no screaming kids thank God! I even bumped into someone that I worked with at Royal Mail at the lagoon,what are the chances of that???? Small world.
The evening of the 16th I decided to go out and celebrate my birthday and couldn’t of asked for a better evening! The amazing people who I was closest to in Coffs Harbour (Aussitel hostel) all either came or were already in Brisbane to celebrate with me so this made it more than special. It was so good to see them all again (Coy,D, Jo, Antonio and their boyfriends). They all met me and Lucy at our hostel along with our roommates who we made friends with, as there was an Irish bar attached to it called the fiddlers elbow where we pre drank and caught up with one another. We then left to head to the same down under bar as we did on Valentine’s Day and it was still just as awesome! We danced, drank and laughed all night and it’s a birthday night out I will always remember!!
The 17th of February……it’s my 24 birthdayyyyy andddd pancake day!! I soon woke the whole room up at 8am as I was so excited to open my parcel and cards that I had been carrying around for 3 weeks which my amazing mother had sent from home! (Love you mam). It was full of surprises and lots of chocolate. She knows me too well. I was so happy to have received things from home and reading all the cards brought a tear to my eye as it did make me miss home a bit. Me an Lucy got dressed and met with coy and D to explore some more of Brisbane. We then relaxed on the lagoon and napped in the sun, followed by a Mexican meal out and a Max Brennan (the chocolate shop) which I had been dying to try for weeks! My birthday was perfect.
Australia zoo and Noosa: 18.02.15-20.02.15
Left super early from brisbane to head to the legend that is Steve Irwins Austraila Zoo! As soon as me and Lucy arrived you could feel the love and passion of the place. We absolutely loved the 7 hour stop off at the zoo. Every inch of the zoo was immaculately maintained with incredible animals everywhere. From otters, birds, snakes, tigers, giraffes, zebras, tortoises, koalas and of course CROCODILES and all sorts of strange Australian animals with all the facts about the animals dotted everywhere so it quickly became very interesting. We watched the animal show at midday and it was so impressive with the animals being so clever and the music blasting. The atmosphere was eletric. Throughout the day we walked around the 120 Acer land viewing the different sections of the zoo, which included the tree house, Africa, Asia and Australia parts. I would highly recommend this zoo to anyone and it’s a day I will remember, even more so it highlighted how inspirational and incredible Steve Irwin actually was and how he has changed the way people see and respect animals.
4pm quickly arrived and it was time to head back on the bus for Noosa! We stayed in this very beautiful and very PINK hostel called the dolphin beach resort right by the Sunshine Coast beach. It was quite hippyish with inscent sticks and budda men everywhere with lots and lots of colour, especially pink but I liked it!