Tag: (5 posts)
Fraser Island
Fraser Island... The World's Largest Sand Island!  

Stretching over 120km long, its a popular camping destination with panoramic viewpoints and freshwater pools and lakes like Lake McKenzie.  

Quite a roadtrip down from Airlie Beach, I spent 1 day travelling down to Rockhampton and then the following day down to Hervey Bay.  As a solo traveller and being restricted with my hire car to take across to Fraser Island, I booked my 2 night trip at Kingfisher Bay Resort.  

The 4* eco-friendly resort includes hotel rooms, island villas or lodges, 4 swimming pools, 3 restaurants and more importantly a full programme of activities.  Just a 50 minute ferry trip across from Hervey Bay, the resort caters for everyone.

As part of the Adventure package I booked this full day ranger-guided trip was included.  An 8am start onboard the air conditioned, four-wheel-drive coach the first stop was Lake McKenzie.  A perched lake; the sands around the lake are composed of pure, white silica and the water so clear - its unsuitable for many animals.  Unfortunately we had rain and a cloudy start to the day so my photo's do not reflect the true beauty of this lake - but it was fantastic for a dip!  The rest of the day we visited the following:

  • Central station & Wanggoolba Creek
  • 75 Mile Beach's famous highway
  • The Maheno shipwreck & the coloured sands of The Pinnacles 
  • Eli Creek
Central station was a moment I will not forget!  After the torrential rain stopped I have never seen so many mosquitos!  (Take insect repellent!).  The drive along 75 mile beach was just incredible, with stops at Maheno shipwreck and then paddling up Eli Creek (with eels!).  

A big highlight of this trip was the scenic flight avilable in the afternoon as the sun arrived!  A 15 minute unique flight taking off and landing on the beach, priced at $100pp - the views were incredible!   A special thank you to Andy and Stephen who kept me company for the day! x

* If you have chance book onto the ranger-guided night walk!  A chance to take in the unique sights and sounds of the nocturnal wildlife.  We spotted squid, rays, a scorpion, and 2 bandicoots! 

Keep an eye out for dingoes too!  A dingo is a wild dog and one of Australia's must-see animals!

W h i t s u n d a y s
The Whitsunday Islands.... WOW!!!

A collection of 74 tropical islands off the coast of Queensland, Australia.  The heart of the Great Barrier reef, you can relax on the white sands of Whitehaven beach, swim with sea turtles or take an amazing scenic helicopter trip.

I had always seen pictures and watched documentaries about these beautiful islands and you think it could never look like that in person.... It really does!  I spent 4 nights at The Pinnacles Resort in Airlie beach as a base which was fantastic and I would highly recommend.  Luxury apartments with stunning sea views, gymnasium, sauna and its iconic 20m infinity pool - I really did not want to leave!!!

From Airlie beach you then have so many options of day trips out to the various islands.  Cruise Whitsundays offered some of the main excursions and deals.  One of my most memorable days of my trip was on the Great Barrier Reef Full Day Adventure.  From $279pp, departing from Airlie beach, it was a 2 hr scenic cruise out to Reefworld where we saw dolphins!  Arriving out onto the pontoons, you then have the options to take part in any of the below:

* semi-submarine guided tour - a chance to stay dry but witness the beautiful fish and turtles of the great barrier reef.
* access to the underwater observatory.
* snorkelling - all gear provided including stinger suits and wetsuits.
* own expense activities:  scuba diving, guided snorkelling safari's & heli-scenic flights.

Morning tea, full buffet lunch and afternoon tea was included.

I have always wanted to go on a helicopter trip and what better place to do this?!  I booked onto the Heli-scenic flight which was an iconic 15 minute trip over the reef and Heart reef in particular.  A short boat trip off Reefworld across to the helipad, I witnessed a beautiful turtle, coral, so many fish and the crystal clear waters.  €150pp, it was worth every dollar... an experience of a lifetime!  (MUST-DO!)

Keen to make the most of the day, I then booked onto another scuba-diving experience!  Perfect for beginner divers, all equipment is provided with staff on hand to help.  You then learn the basics in waist-deep water at the Dive Station in preparation for your fully supervised dive.  I was much more relaxed scuba-diving this time round, so it was great to really take in all of the bright tropical fish and different species of coral.

The second trip I booked up was the Thundercat Whitsundays 1 day tour, priced at $189pp.  A fast catamaran, this is a good option for people worried about sea sickness and again is a fully-inclusive trip.  First stop was Tongue Bay for a once in a lifetime experience on Whitehaven Beach and the walk up to Hill Inlet Lookout.  The view really is spectacular!  

The second part of the trip was 2 snorkelling opportunities at Peter's Bay (which can only be accessed with a permit) and Mantaray Bay home to 'George' a Maori Wrasse fish in particular!  Be sure to take your Go Pro on this trip - I absolutely loved snorkelling these bays and swimming around 'George'!

If driving from Port Douglas to Cairns a good stop-off is Palm Cove.  The upmarket, more intimate destination has a jetty great for fishing, boutiques, cafes and palm tree lined paths for cycling, jogging or walking.  We stopped off here at Coffee Haven for a cold drink and was enticed by some sweet potato chips with a “secret sauce” ... the best I have ever had!

One of Cairns most popular day trips is to the Kuranda rainforest.  Take a ride on Australia’s longest Skyrail cableway soaring over treetops to reach the Kuranda village.  A chance to really experience the aboriginal culture with the locals playing their didgeridoos, and venture into an arty, alternative hippie world.  Kuranda Koala Gardens, Birdworld and the Australian Butterfly Santuary are all located in the market.  I loved the souvenir shops and local produce available here!  

At 2pm and 3.30pm every day the Kuranda Scenic Railway then makes the descent out of the rainforest over bridges, through tunnels back to Cairns.  I would allow a full day for this whole adventure, as the cableway and railway both take 1½ hours each way. 

Back along the main esplanade in Cairns its great to cool down in the lagoon.  The 4800sqm salt water swimming facility is open all year round for you to enjoy without stingers or crocodiles!  Come evening there are a huge range of restaurants, many offering fresh seafood - The Prawn Star being one of the most popular!  A boat restaurant lit with beautiful fairy lights in the marina.  Waterbar & Grill Steakhouse overlooking the Marlin marina was one of my favourite dinners.  Succulent meat, a buzzing atmosphere and professional service - I would recommend making a booking!  

Sydney... actually my least favourite place visited but the weather definitely influenced this!  Unfortunately the cyclone hit for the last few days and made for a very eventful ‘Blue Mountains’ trip!

Key tourist attractions are around Circular Quay and the Rocks; Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge. This whole area is easy to wander round, grab a coffee/lunch and browse the shops!

Take a ferry from Circular Quay across to Manly Wharf to enjoy a day on Manly beach.  Ferries depart every 30 minutes and cost just $4.80 each way.  Bondi beach is Sydney's other iconic landmark with its graffiti walls, rescue tower and 'Bondi Baths'.  Buzzing from dusk until dawn the beach is patrolled by professional lifeguards 365 days of the year - just remember to swim between the yellow and red flags!

Not a beach person?  There is a scenic coastal walk from Bondi right along to Coogee beach linking 4 beaches together and 6km long.  We stopped off and took a dip in Bronte baths along the way as the waves out to sea were a bit too rough! There are a number of man-made ocean pools to take advantage of, most of them free.

An Instagram picture perfect location!  The grounds include landmark cafes, restaurants/bars, an animal farm, florist and markets etc.  I met a friend back from the UK in The Potting Shed for lunch and was really impressed! It was buzzing with groups of friends, the food was delicious and the decor of hanging baskets and flowers arches was outstanding!  Definitely recommend this to anyone wanting to venture a little further out of the city! 
Aka “Tassie”...

Home to the Tasmanian devil, the pink robin, platypus and some of the most spectacular wilderness landscapes.

Just 1 hour and 15 mins from Melbourne to Tasmania’s capital city of Hobart, it was a unique getaway. Famous for its ‘Salamanca Market’ held every Saturday from 8.30-3pm and located amongst the sandstone buildings the nearly 300 stalls offer a variety of hand-made gifts, fashion, jewellery and fresh food. I got some great gifts!

For nature lovers and hikers there are various National Parks offering a huge range of opportunities; a chance to spot local wildlife, various trails and the many waterfalls.  Mount Field was the first of our stops where I spotted my first wallaby sighting and the breathtaking Russell Falls.  Accommodation wise - a particular mention to Duffy's Country Accommodation in Westerway that was my favourite place to stay!  A real chance to experience Tasmania's country lifestyle in either a self contained cabin or cottage. Beautiful gardens, an "outback" vibe and so peaceful, plus a chance to spot the wallabies at night! 

Taking a step back in time we spent 4 days on the west coast in a town called Strahan. Must-do tours over this side of Tassie are the Gordon River Cruise and the West Coast Wilderness Railway. Just a short drive north is also Cradle Mountain national park with lakes, river gorges, plenty of wildlife-watching opportunities such as wombats, wallabies, devils and platypuses and Tasmania’s highest peak Mt Ossa (1617m).

Lastly I have to mention a trip up to Mt Wellington!  Journey up Pinnacle Rd by car (12km) with lookout points on the way to reach the top at 1271m. It was the most amazing view I have ever seen!

Top sights I visited:

Salamanca Market
Mount Field National Park (Russell Falls!)
Cradle Mountain
Mount Wellington
Wineglass Bay
Gordon River Cruise
Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
West Coast Wilderness Railway

Bergen 'Mint' Backpack - Kapten & Son