…but seriously about the sand. I feel like it’s basically a part of me now, as we seem to be covered in it every day, lying on it in the afternoons, sleeping on it some nights, enjoying it between our toes and loathing it when it finds its way into our beds at night.
Melissa and I are now more than 2/3 done our little East Coast trip. We ‘enjoyed’ ( I say loosely, as Rainbow Beach is a bit of a sleeper town) our two days in Rainbow Beach before heading to Fraser Island with Dingos. The hostel itself is decent enough, but the bar is a bit lacking, and the kitchen is tiny. Still, that’s not what we came for. We woke up early the third day to meet our group for the tour. Mick was our guide, and what a great guy! You’re lucky if you get him. He was hilarious, drops an F-bomb every other sentence, but knows his stuff and wants you to have a good time. You go as a convoy of 4 Jeeps, but you mostly spend your time with one crew – your car. Group 1 was pretty great – Mel and I, Lauren and Taylor from Vancouver, Dale and Garry from Glasgow, Thomas from Ireland and Tim from Germany.
The first day was dreary but we made the most of it. We had lunch, wraps (you grow to hate these) at the first little town on Fraser and set off for Lake Mackenzie. This place is gorgeous on a sunny day, which was a shame, but about half of us set off for a refreshing swim anyway. The water is clear and the sand is white like in the Whitsundays. A few of us later sought shelter and Pringles in the Jeep once it started coming down harder. You need to have a manual license to drive, but thankfully we had a couple UKers in our Jeep who took really well to it. Mick kept having to radio over to the other Jeeps to actually follow intructions so the Jeeps wouldn’t break down… so don’t be that guy.
In the evening, they supply you with more than enough food, but you have to cook it yourself. Thomas is a chef so we gave him the task of organizing the food, and we had a pretty decent stir fry, with food leftover. The first night seems to be the big night when everyone gets to the goon and parties. Dale taught us a game that has you under the table quickly, so it was a messy night for most. The sleeping arrangements are tents and I froze both nights, so make sure to bring socks and warm clothing!
The second day passed in a whirl. You stop at Indian Head, the Champagne Pools, and head to Eli Creek which was probably my favourite. You can get an inner tube and take a roll down the lazy river until you arrive back at the beach, where we took a couple hours to hang out as a group. We had a makeshift volleyball net, people sat down in the inner tubes, and we hung out until the sun went down. Definitely a wonderful moment. Shout to to Dana and Yael who were two awesome souls we also met on this trip ❤
Day 3 comes early as you pack up camp and head home. Lots of beach driving, and you see so many hump backs from the shore! We stopped at Lake Wabbi which involved a 45 min walk through the forest and over a sand dune to a natural inland lake. You sit at the water’s edge and little fish come to nibble your toes- free spa treatment you could pay for elsewhere! The sun was out in full tilt so it heated up pretty quickly. We had a low-key lunch on the beach before making the final drive back to the ferry. Fraser definitely is a highlight for many people, and I think it’s beautiful. After two visits 3 years apart (to the day!) I think I’ve had my fill.
From Fraser island onto Noosa. We arrived to beautiful weather and couldn’t check in right away at Nomads so we went for a wander. The Main Beach in Noosa is actually pretty great, so we took some chill time there before signing in. We had friendly couples from Ireland and Wales in our room, and caught up with them for a bit. Melissa and I spent so much money on food at the beginning of this trip, but now we are being smarter. It doesn’t mean we don’t eat like kings! We had amazing tacos for two days, and we’ve been trying to get our greens in where we can 🙂 We grabbed some food at the Irish pub for dinner near our hostel, and caught up with a guy I met in Melbourne through Newbies a few years prior. It was then off to the hostel bar, which is okay if you want some dancing and don’t want to go far. The pub does 10$ for two burgers and pots of beer, so it’s good to take advantage of those deals sometimes.
Our night didn’t end too late, and we heard rain was in the forecast, so we were out early the next day to get our hike on. Noosa National park begins 15 min away from Nomads if you follow the boardwalk down to the main beach. We did the coastal track which follows the sea and you get some really nice views overlooking the bluff and nearby rock faces. As with Fraser, you can also catch the whales making their way down the coast. We didn’t get up to much the rest of the day as the weather was quite miserable. I knew someone coming back from a Fraser tour so I ended up hanging out with him, and we danced a bit with the Canadian girls before calling it another night. Onto the bus headed for Surfers the next day.
Surfers is a place where I could imagine someone wanting to live for its convenience, and the weather is always beautiful, but as a tourist, it wasn’t for me. The emphasis seems to be on the party, as there isn’t a ton else to do here. We made the mistake of paying 60$ for a bar crawl that turned out to be anything but an awesome time. We did meet a few people, but for me, the highlight was probably the Dominoes pizza we picked up later. If I have a suggestion to give, DO NOT let the guys who try to harrass you on the street into buying a ticket have their way. Having said that, the night before was ladies night at Sin City, so for 10$ we got free drinks from 9-12 and a Magic Mike show. That turned out alright. 🙂 We did enjoy the beach, hot as it was. I went for a dip one afternoon and ended up speaking with a few girls working at our hostel…when we all saw a massive creature swimming through the waves near us. We all yelled “Head to the beach!!!” and made a mad dash for it… only to realize it was a dolphin. We felt ridiculous, but how cool!
Our hostel, Bunk, will probably be amazing once it’s all renovated, but unfortunately we got to it at the point when they were undergoing massive construction. We were woken up both mornings to the lovely alarm of hammers and power drills. I ended up sending an email on our way out to Backpackers World, telling them about some of our bad experiences with hostels on the trip, and they have now gotten us two free Nights at Wake Up! Sydney. Everything works out in the end.
We are now about to leave Byron Bay. I really do love the place. It has a laid-back vibe that takes over you by the end of your stay. Locals here have perfected the art of the chill – on the beach, the parks, in hammocks, etc. You’ll find every kind of fashion here and many people don’t even wear shoes as they meander about town. I can’t say enough good things about our hostel Backpacker’s Inn. People are respectful about noise, sleep, the bathrooms and kitchens are clean, there’s an actual common room, computers… it’s miles ahead of many hostels we’ve been to. The highlights of Byron for me were the kayaking we did with Go Sea Kayak. We didn’t catch the dolphins, but we were fairly close to a number of humpback whales who breached and surfaced near us multiple times! It was a beautiful morning kayak and it made me so glad to be out on the water again. Melissa and I also did the Cape Byron Lighthouse walk which was very sweaty, but beautiful. We followed the beach from our hostel all the way up to the base, then made the climb up to the lighthouse. Impressive views for sure.
We relaxed for the afternoon at our hostel and wandered down to catch the sunset with our very own, backpacker-style sangria (goon, fruit juice, Aldi frozen berries – woop woop!)… we listened to music and chilled out as the sun faded to dark. A beautiful evening. We had a few shenanigans at the Northern Hotel in town before a slightly less impressive end to the night, but it’s onwards and upwards on a new day. We have a 14 hour bus ride ahead of us and the weather has been drizzly today. A good chance to look for apartments, apply for jobs (Melissa), catch up on the news and write this blog! I’m very thankful to have so many wonderful experiences on this trip, but I’m also looking forward to settling back into Melbourne life. I was fortunate enough to meet a few kind people before leaving the city, and I want to get to know them better. I hope the next few weeks mean steady work for both of us, new friends, a new place to call home and even more great memories to come. Thanks to those who read this, know that I am happy and I am thinking of you too!
With love from Byron Bay,