Updated: Escaping to the Land Down Under 2011

Australia Travel Blog

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Should I stay or should I go point

Well I have just come back from my 3rd visit to Australia in the last 5 years and I wanted to update my blog as many things have changed and there are a few different things I would suggest from my previous experiences. 

So I've been asked several times about my trip to Australia. Where I went, what I took, how I got there, who I was with, how did I survive. The questions were endless. Lucky for me I did have some help when I took off from a friend that was originally from Australia. She gave me tips and a $20 aussie bill and wished me luck! The rest was for me to explore! Now this was my first big trip away from home... I was going for a year, to another country where I knew noone, ALONE knowing very little! I remember my last writtings in my journal prior to departure from Canada was, "Maybe I shouldn't go. I'm the last one to board the plane and I could just go home...right now." And now every time I read that I have such a laugh! Because in turn getting on that plane was the best thing that ever happend to me! So with some of the friends that asked me about travels there I wrote them a blurb or two about things I took, places I went, estimated costs for travel, accomadation and food, how to get around and what not.

me and my ruck sack
So I hope this helps someone out... Please these are only suggestions and in someway just familiarizing yourself with places you might go or the "things you must do" when you are there. Make your trip your own! Branch out, get off the beaten path and have a blast!

Start with Packin! I hate packing. I've been doing it for 4 years and I still pack too much and don't wear half of the stuff!

I'm a girl... so this is girlie packing:

Only a couple pairs of socks unless you wear shoes� probably end up wearing thongs more.

3-5 tank tops/shirts

1-2 light sweaters/hoodies

1 spring jacket

2-3 dresses/skirts

1-2tops pair of pants + one black pair if you intend to work in a pub or office You'll live out of shorts or capris

 

And you'll also find you wear a lot of the clothes overal ¦but as you travel, noone ever notices.

Hmmm Bells Beach I think

 

Sandles and one pair of running shoes (good for hiking) Avoid lugging around heavy things you don'tt need.

 

Toilet stuff

 

Keep in mind all stuff there is quite a bit more expensive. I packed two deoterants, shampoo/condition. Toothpaste you can find over there for a dollar so one tube would be enough. Whatever makeup you wear. That is also very expensive. Mascara runs for$15 and up. So I packed a bit extra plus its small and doesn't take up much room.

Boxed wine!
One eyeshadow from home and I still have it, hardly wear coverup cause it was so hot and humid. Sunscreen is also pricey there so pack that. I also packed stuff for my period in a little pencil case type bag.. with that being said, I had little compartment bags for clothing. A small cube two sided for (one side tanktops and shirts and side 2 sox and undies) and then a bigger one for pants, shorts, skirts. And if you roll them that also takes up less space.

 

Things that I was glad I took was my ipod for listening to music on long bus rides. A good digital camera was awesome!!! 512mb card I could take up to 300photos on the one card and then you can burn them to a disc or copy them to your computer.  I wouldn't suggest taking any hair stuff (curling iron, straightner, blow drier) I took mine and used them with what I thought was a converter of electricity and they blew up! Get one over there if you really want one but don't bother taking good stuff like that.

waterfall in tassie
Plus you wear your hair up quite a bit anyways except when you go out then it;s fun to get girlied up. You will want to get a mobile phone when you get there as it's good way to communicate with all the randoms you meet over there and you can text home and receive calls from home for free. Can usually find some used ones in hostels for as litte as $35bucks aus. There are various phone sim cards you can find for free, as little as $2, and in our case we got one for $10 with $10 worth of credit. Be sure to find a provider that will have good coverage for those small towns you visit. Optus or Vodophone are probably your best ones. We had Labara and it didn't work if we weren't in the cities. Everyone texts cause itâ��s cheaper. Laptops are becoming more common with travelers just be careful, protect it and lock it up!

Lastly I reccomend buying groceries. Oz is going to be expensive with all the adventures, getting around and drinking. Get a Coles or Wooly's bag and try to buy the essentials. It's quite a bit cheaper if you are travelling with people and can share the costs. 

Places I LOVED to go! These are very general places with a few tips.

Sydney CBD
I did get off the beaten path which I highly recomended. Those tiny little towns you pass through, see on the map, where people tell you they are originally from... are great place to hit! Wonderful place to meet locals, see culture, history, hear the accent, and a far better opportunity to maybe get to do stuff you wouldn't normally get to do if you hadn't gone there!

 

Sydney

Two main streets with hostels is George and Pitt street. There is also different areas in Sydney with hostels. Bondi beach, Manly beach and the sketchy King Cross¦go there with trusted friends.. Hostels all over these areas. good bus transportation and trains. As soon as you get there, get the $40 train, ferry and bus pass. It is so worth it, expecially if you will be there for 3 days-week. 

 

You'll want to check out the opera house, botanical gardens, the rocks at circular Quay which is pronounced key check out bondi and manly beach which you can either take by bus or ferry it to manly.

Me and Davies surfing in Rainbow beach
Toronga zoo is pretty cool, as it the aquarium in Darling Harbour. Darling Harbour is also a nice place to walk through. Also check out paddy's market. Cheap clothes and souvenigers. We actually visited and stayed in Kings Cross this time, and it wasn't too bad, although you still want to be careful. There is a great Free City Tour so ask your hostel for details. Also be sure to check out the Blue Mountains. Using your metro pass, you can goto Croydon, then you have to pay to get to Katoomba if you go via train. From Katoomba, it's really easy to get to Echo point and start your hiking. We spent a day there and were satisfied. On your way back, consider getting off the train at Parammatta and take the ferry down the channel to Darling Harbour. I would suggest staying in Bondi Beach or Manly.
me and a good friend Davies snorkling on the Whit Sundays
Just nice to be out of the city!

 

Heading up the east coast.

 

Byron Bay I small but a nice chilled out place. Can find backpacker hostels pretty much anywhere

 

Gold Coast Surfers Paradise. Basically another party city and beach. Fun nightlife although I didn't spend much time there. Oh ya, all the theme parks are here too.

our whitsundays boat
Dreamworld (Disneyland version but I thought it wasn't that good), sea world was pretty cool. They put on some neat shows and they have added some fun rides in the last few years. Movie world was also pretty good and Wet n' wild is fun, but go on a sunny day. This year 2011, you can buy passes for Sea World, Wet n' Wild and Dream World for $100 and it gives you unlimited entry to the 3 theme parks for a year. Alone they are worth $50-$90

 

Brisbane is about an hour by train north of surfers. South Bank Lagoon is nice. There isn't a beach there but there is a man made pool outside that everyone goes to for free. Nice walking path over there as well. I loved brissie even if there wasn't as much to do there. If you can get a car then there are lots of nice drives and hikes outside of brissie. Can also go to Moerton Island beautiful sand island. Go 4x4ing and sand toboganning.

Sky diving in Mission Beach
Shopping was pretty good as was the nightlife.

 

Sunshine Coast Again if u have  car there are some nice drives inland. Steve Irwins Australia Zoo is in Beerwah. Since I was there in 2006, they have improved the grounds. Alot more signs about the animals, they have opened up Africa. Be sure to hit up your hostel or Peter Pan for a discount. $46 instead of $60

 

I went to Fraser Island from Rainbow beach that has the 3day 4x4 tour you can go on with up to 12 ppl. Largest sand island in the world and is a blast.

overlooking a ledge at Kings Canyon
Such a gong show! Be sure to do this

 

Airlie Beach is where you go on the Whit Sundays where you sail around for 3days/2night. Again a lot of fun. Go snorkeling and usually you can get package deals for fraser island and the whitsundays which may be cheaper

 

Bundaberg is home of Bundy Rum, the national drink they drink it like we do our whiskey. Small town. Did the bundy rum tour

 

Townsville Only reason you would go through there is to go to magnetic island the only island that has free roaming koalas.

Sunset in Broom. My postcard pic
Id only stay there for 2days and 1 night. They also have the full moon parties every month. Oh ya if you are old enough then you can hire out these motes. You can drive around the island. Dive the SS Yongalla wreck was great, although I recommend diving with a shop our of Ayr.

 

Mission Beach and Tully. Did my sky diving in mission and did white water rafting in tully. mission beach nice hostels and chilled out. Skydiving is cheaper around Sydney and Melbourne, but you don't see the Great Barrier Reef

 

Cairns great place to do snorkeling or diving.

Map of Rottnest Island, WA
This is where I learned to dive and 5 years later I still believe it was great diving. When I returned this year I was greatly disappointed. Marine life is lacking, coral life is dieing. If you are a brand new diver or haven't dived much I'm sure you will enjoy it either way. If you are experienced and have dived in amazing places like SEA, Egypt, Carribbean, then skip the GBR! West of cairns you can go on tours into the Atherton tablelands which is beautiful rainforests. I thought it was better than Cape Tribulation which is north of Carins. You can go on a tour or hire a car which we found cheaper and go up there for 3 days 2nights and hike and swim. Also bungy jumping, sky diving, ect up in cairns. Alright nightlife.Gilligans Hostel - very nice set up, own pool and night club. bit more pricey  though. Shopping available. 


Heading inland Alice springs in the center is quite the shithole so get in and get out as quick as possible.

The care I hired for the tour around Tassie
The Rock or ayres rock is

500km south and you would probably go on a tour to get down there and you see ayres rock, kings canyon (my fav) and the olgas.extend the three day tour and you can see some other neat ranges and hikes. Also learn about the aboriginal experience. I hit up Boulia which is outback queensland. Worked in the pub there. amazing people, working on a cattle station, went quadding, horseback riding...all with the locals. Look for community events, camel races, horse races ect. Also lots of cattle stations to work on for new and cool experience.

 

North of that and at the top end is Darwin the very hot city with not much up there really except kakadu national park.

didn't say I worked hard all the time ;)
Some nice waterfalls and interesting culture. Further west down the coast is the kimberleys which I loved and recommend over and over going on the Adventure tours trip down to Broome. Absolutly amazing gorge hikes and plunge pools. Sleep in swags at night and its awesome! Broome is a small place, home to the amazing Cable Beach and just cruizy little town. The rest of the coast down to Perth I would suggest doing a bus or hiring a car as it would be cheaper cause there isn't much between the two and tours are fairly expensive. But must hit Karijini National Park! WICKED as well as other beaches, and hikes along the way!

 

Perth is awesome! I loved it. Small city, quite but friendly.

Good night life, shopping. Beaches to the south that you can get to by train. Rottnest island had some of the nicest beaches. Biked around the island cause you can't drive there. Swan valley  is south as well and you can do wine tours around there. Monkey mia (dolphin feedin) is to the north as it the Pinnicals.

 

Never made it to Adelaide and don't know that there is much there to check out.

Melbourne is supposed to be better than Sydney. Each local will give you their argument. Actually I think I like Melbourne better now after visiting there twice. I find it's a city, but there are several parks and places you can go where you can feel like your not in a city.

My favourite Premier Bus Driver. I had him twice. Hallarious
The fashion is awesome. The stores sales staff are amazing at putting you in clothes that you will look fantastic in. St Kilda is a really nice area to stay and play in. Also a DFO for shopping which was pretty good. Pricey shopping in other stores, botanical gardens, footy games and the Victorian markets there as well. Nice locals, good city transport but be sure to buy tickets as metro police frequent the trams. You should also do the great oceans road tour. Hired a car out there for 5 days and it was awesome, fun to drive but also found breaks here and there to stop and chill or go for a hike! To the north are the Grampians and again, drive around and stop for hikes. Pretty awesome! Great hostels along the way in Port Campbell. Don't get speeding on those highways! I got nailed!

 

Tasmania: also awesome,Landed in Hobart from Melbourne, hired a car around the island for 4 days.

Our West Coast Adventure Tours Group
Reminded me a lot of Canada with pretty lakes and awesome hiking. Nice hostels down there as well. One of my fav. States! Beautiful in May with fall colors!

When you book things you can book directly and or go with a travel agent. We found it wierd this year that travel agents were giving us better deals than the actual company could offer us. We booked through Peter Pans Travel Adventuer. They also give you free wifi in any of their shops throughout the country. The other major travel planner was Tribal Travel. They both offer deals with all your east coast travel experiences.

 

Working Now to work in Australia, most places will require a work permit. Coming from a common wealth country I was able to get a one year working holiday visa that allowed me to work for any one employer for up to 3 months I believe this limitation of 3 months as changed to maybe 6 or no limit at all.

I think working in australia is a great place to try something you would never do at home... or try your job in another country. It is also an excellent place to make some cash for the next bus, train, plane or tour adventure to the next place or country. I had a lot of fun working with fellow aussies. I choose to do jobs i would never do at home: I travelled with a rodeo crew and played music at the rodeo as well as PR and setting up the arena. Through this I got to go to really tiny communities, see alot of culture, and experience a true outback experience. I also worked in an Outback Pub which was a highlight of my trip! 250 people in this one small village. Took such great care of me, very friendly, built up my experience with horseback riding, quadding, mustering cattle in a helecopter, pub experience and just had a riot! I also worked on a dive boat as a cook for 32 passengers and 6 crew. WOW! time management was key! That's alot of food prep for 3 day/2night trips. But I walked away with dive tickets from my open water - divemaster! Incredible! And made just such great friends along the way! So my advice is to try something new, spend your money wisely... and make sure you have fun while you are working!

 

Ways of getting around.

Sydney Opera House

 

If you arrive in Sydney, DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT take a cab unless you want to pay $40 plus. It's really not worth it when the train can get you there and or buses for $14-$20. If you are in Melbourne, they Sky Bus will taking you for a wapping $16 and it's a 20min ride. They offer you a free shuttle from the Southern Cross Station to your hostel or your hotel. In Carins, there is a shuttle and I believe it is $12/person or if there is two of you $18 together. Also check our your hostels, sometimes they do free pick up/dropp offs. Tours are easy and you are guaranteed to get real information and meet lots of people. Although expensive and some things you will find you easily could have done another way. Shop around! Prices change as well from one agent to another. Booking directly may cut costs. There will be message boards in all hostels with ppl looking for rides or offering lifts from one place to another. I'm not suggesting you jump into a car with just anyone but if you can meet up with a bunch of people and u think they are smart enough and that you could trust them, then it might be a really neat experience and a great way to build a friendship.

Departing for the Land Downunder
Stuff like cape tribulation, maybe some people wanna go up there for a day and wanna split the cost of a hiring a car and fuel.just makes it heaps cheaper. Greyhound and Premiere are the two buses going up the coast and they offer cheap travel packs with so many stops with in a time period. Premier is cheaper but they usually only offer your trips once a day versus Greyhound that offers multiple trips throughout the day. There is the oz experience and one other ¦but I think they are a waste of money.  Virgin Blue, Quantas and Jet Star are the  major airlines Virgin Blue is usually cheaper and if you check out their happy hour deals. We used Jet Star the most as they had the cheapest flights when we booked in advance. Also found it was cheaper to fly rather than take the bus. And the price you see is the price you pay. Taxes are included in all the prices you see wherever you buy things.  Another way I would suggest getting around is hitchhiking. My boyfriend and a hitch hiked from Townsville to Airlie Beach no problem.
First Hostel in Sydney
The most we waited around was 45mins. Despite what locals say, people will pick you up. I would suggest doing it with someone though and not alone.

 

Hostels are usually between 12-30dollars a night. Sydney will be the most expensive place you stay. Never sign bonds for a flat, just be the renter and pay by the week or bi weekly if that is the agreement. I had bought a Nomads card for $35 and that got me discounts on tours, hostels and car hire, food and heaps more. There is also YHA but I think that one sucks and YHA hostels are real expensive. Holidays like Xmas in New years, try to book ahead. Everyone wants to be in Sydney! so Plan ahead and make some bookings.

 

Trying to think of what else you might want or need to know.

Visiting Rottnest Island
Hope this helps. Like I said you'll read all of this and you'll get there and you'll hear a bunch more. Anymore questions just give me a shout! Your gonna have a blast and the most important thing is that you make the trip yours. Get lost, take the wrong bus, and just get out and explore. This trip will build you in so many ways so just go there and go wherever the road leads you.

 

Don't want to plant too many ideas in your head, but get a map and check out where some of the places are that I listed off. Give you an idea of the places you'll be coming across.

 

HAVE FUN MY FELLOW TRAVEL MATES! I hope this helped you out! Best of Luck and post me to let me know what great adventures you found along the way!

 

Carissa

 

jethanad says:
This is sooo good to know, thanks
Posted on: Aug 24, 2014
theresjeanette says:
thank you for this!!! i'm leaving in october by myself and i'm so scared!
Posted on: Jun 28, 2013
NeedaBreak says:
Good info.. thanks. Will definitely be useful on my trip. Must remember to bring mascara ;)
Posted on: Mar 28, 2011
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Should I stay or should I go point
Should I stay or should I go point
me and my ruck sack
me and my ruck sack
Hmmm Bells Beach I think
Hmmm Bells Beach I think
Boxed wine!
Boxed wine!
waterfall in tassie
waterfall in tassie
Sydney CBD
Sydney CBD
Me and Davies surfing in Rainbow b…
Me and Davies surfing in Rainbow …
me and a good friend Davies snorkl…
me and a good friend Davies snork…
our whitsundays boat
our whitsundays boat
Sky diving in Mission Beach
Sky diving in Mission Beach
overlooking a ledge at Kings Canyon
overlooking a ledge at Kings Canyon
Sunset in Broom. My postcard pic
Sunset in Broom. My postcard pic
Map of Rottnest Island, WA
Map of Rottnest Island, WA
The care I hired for the tour arou…
The care I hired for the tour aro…
didnt say I worked hard all the t…
didn't say I worked hard all the …
My favourite Premier Bus Driver. I…
My favourite Premier Bus Driver. …
Our West Coast Adventure Tours Gro…
Our West Coast Adventure Tours Gr…
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House
Departing for the Land Downunder
Departing for the Land Downunder
First Hostel in Sydney
First Hostel in Sydney
Visiting Rottnest Island
Visiting Rottnest Island
Helicopter ride over the Bungle Bu…
Helicopter ride over the Bungle B…
Bungle Bungles, WA
Bungle Bungles, WA
Annie our tour guide Broome-Darwin
Annie our tour guide Broome-Darwin
Frenchy I found at the hostel to h…
Frenchy I found at the hostel to …
Camels in Broome WA
Camels in Broome WA
Sleeping in a swag
Sleeping in a swag
Pinnacles, WA
Pinnacles, WA
Sunset 80mile Beach WA
Sunset 80mile Beach WA
Great Oceans Road
Great Oceans Road
Beautiful Waterfall in WA
Beautiful Waterfall in WA
Boab Tree
Boab Tree
bus games
bus games
Making lunch with everyone
Making lunch with everyone
Biking around Rottnest on a One Sp…
Biking around Rottnest on a One S…
Snorkeling in Coral Bay, WA
Snorkeling in Coral Bay, WA
Termite Mound in the outback
Termite Mound in the outback
Dolphins and Monkey Mia
Dolphins and Monkey Mia
This is us before going on a great…
This is us before going on a grea…
meeting some locals on Fraser Isla…
meeting some locals on Fraser Isl…
Our Fraser Island Gang
Our Fraser Island Gang
Hislips Shark Show
Hislips Shark Show
4x4ing
4x4'ing
our White Water Rafting group in T…
our White Water Rafting group in …
ready to ride the rapids
ready to ride the rapids
Ready to roll...home. I went away …
Ready to roll...home. I went away…
Chicken Feet
Chicken Feet
Roady around Tasmania 2007
Roady around Tasmania 2007
Fall Tasmania 2007
Fall Tasmania 2007
Hiking in Tasmania
Hiking in Tasmania
In Cradle Mountains
In Cradle Mountains
Rodeo in Melbourne
Rodeo in Melbourne
Lake in Cradle Mountains, Tasmania
Lake in Cradle Mountains, Tasmania
Melbourne Rodeo 2007
Melbourne Rodeo 2007
Melbourne Rodeo 2007
Melbourne Rodeo 2007
Melbourne Rodeo 2007
Melbourne Rodeo 2007
Beach in St. Kilda Melbourne
Beach in St. Kilda Melbourne
Sunset in Melbourne
Sunset in Melbourne
Tasmania 2007
Tasmania 2007
Tasmania 2007
Tasmania 2007
Great Oceans Road
Great Oceans Road
Great Oceans Road
Great Oceans Road
Great Oceans Road
Great Oceans Road
Grampians
Grampians
Sydney
Sydney
Sydney
Sydney