Hoping around in OZ
Australia has been a dream destination for me for several years now so last summer, I started planning my epic trip. I knew it wouldn’t be cheap like a budget travel to say South America but I was determined to make it as budget friendly as possible. Planning this trip was overwhelming for me because I got several feedback from people that have visited on what to do.
So in the end, you have to stay true to yourself and figure out what you actually enjoy doing or what activities you don’t mind trying. I planned what cities I was going to visit based on interest and ticket prices. I knew I wasn’t spending ‘enough’ time in some places, my philosophy in traveling is ‘You don’t have to visit all ‘MUST SEEs’ in one trip,’ you can always come back to said country.
Anyways, enjoy my itinerary in Australia.
Sydney: I arrived on June 1st from Jakarta, Indonesia. I had an incredibly horrible immigration experience at the Sydney airport. I was questioned for 2 hours, I answered the same questions AGAIN & AGAIN! They demanded to see my bank account details so I was given a computer to log into my online banking account. He demanded my phone password, went away with my phone, photocopied my driver’s license. I was later collected my the customs officer who seem like a genuinely good person. He asked me if I wanted to know why I was being questioned,I said yes. He said it was suspicious for a solo female traveler to travel like I do. SMH!!! Enough with the immigration experience.
I got to my hostel at around 12.30pm. I planned on relaxing my first day in Sydney but my morning experience pissed me off so I decided to explore. I went to the city center to join a Free Walking Tour. The tour was great, we hit all the major sights around the CBD area. The tour ended at Circula Quay where you could see the Sydney bridge and Opera House.
Day 2: I went on a tour to the Blue Mountains with Sightseeing Tours Australia. With this tour, we went to the Scenic world where you can ride world’s steepest scenic railway (that was fun by the way). We stopped at a beautiful small town – Leura – for lunch. We stopped at several other places as well including a waterfall. The tour guide tried very hard to take us to places where we could spot Kangaroos. We were lucky, we saw a few. Check out the video here or click the link at the end of the blog post. Note, the video is not the best but you can still get excited.
Day 3: I had intended on taking the ferry to Manly for the day, however, it rained non-stop. I stayed in bed most of the day, only getting up for lunch and dinner. Good day in bed it was :).
Day 4: Still raining all day. The local news reported the city was having historic flooding. In an attempt not to stay in bed like the previous day, I tried going to the city centre to catch up with another free walking tour. That didn’t happen y’all, I wasn’t feeling the combination of rain + cold so I decided to go to a nearby Café – Café Hernandez.
Day 5: Departed Sydney for warmer climate (Fiji)
I returned to Australia at the end of June (the 25th). I arrived to this pleasant town called Cairns. Weather was on point :). Immigration experience was a breeze :). I stayed in cool hostel here in Cairns – JJ Backpackers. It’s a small town, I was able to explore the whole downtown area the same day I arrived.
Day 2: I went on a day tour to the Taberlands (mountains) with the Wallaby tour. The tour was amazing mostly because we got to see two waterfalls :). With the tour, we visited the oldest tree in Australia (500 years) and a Volcanic Crater Lake formed by a volcanic eruption. There is also an amazing trail around the lake, beautiful 45 mins walk around the lake. Next we went to Millaa Millaa Waterfalls, Dinners Falls where we saw a tree kangaroo. Apparently they are very difficult to spot so we were extremely lucky to have seen one. How splendid!
Day 3: Slept in. Walked along the main street. Departed Cairns for Melbourne in the late evening
I arrived very late at night, had to wait 45mins for my shuttle to arrive. Got to my hostel a little after midnight. My hostel has a great name by the way – The Nunnery. On getting to my three bed-dorm room, I noticed I was the only girl, the other two were males. Heart skipped a bit (I lie, a lot). They were sleeping so maybe no problem. Went to bed.
Day 2: Asked the ‘Nuns’ to change my room because I wasn’t comfortable with my current. They were great about it, changed me to an all female dorm. I went to the downtown area to explore. Federation square and the Yarra river caught my attention. I later went to dinner with an American girl from my room.
Day 3: Slept in :). I booked a walking tour with Melbourne by Foot – so at noon, I strolled to the meet up point. The tour was great – 3 hours. He showed and schooled us on the history behind the city, we stopped at historic buildings, arcades, laneways, art alleys and the river. The laneways are beautiful – small alleys lined with cafes, bars and restaurants.
I made it to the Eureka Skytower in time to watch the sunset – simply beautiful. The Skydesk is the tallest building in Melbourne. On the 88th floor, you get a 360 view of the city. Don’t miss it. While enjoying the view, I met a sister from Zimbabwe. She didn’t believe I was Nigerian because my name – Kunbi – is a Zimbabwean name. She was visiting with her family from the Uk where they currently leave. We exchanged contact info but I most likely will not keep in touch because she is a world venture person. I call them the Jehovah Witness of Travel.
Day 4: I left for my Great Ocean Road tour at 6.45am with Bunyip tours. Tres early! Sadly, the weather sucked really bad this day. The great ocean road is a curvy road with coastal view – beautiful on a great weather day but misty on rainy days. I slept for the first hour of the ride :). We stopped at a bird place where colorful local bird are plentiful. I admired them from the café in front of the tree. Too cold and raining to be playing with birds. Afterwards we went to a lighthouse where we had lunch. The lighthouse wasn’t really a tall one so climbing the stairs was not stressful. However, once you get to the top, it was VERY windy. Great view though.
We stopped at the 12 apostles. Thankfully, it stopped raining. I opted for the helicopher scenic flight based on recommendation from my friend Colleen. You can read her post here. I was nervous because me and height aren’t great friends. The pilot was super professional and eased my fears. That was my highlight for the day.
We went to Locd Ard George next, it’s 5 minutes drive from the 12 apostles. I was only able to see two out of the three lookout before it started raining HARD. We left and decided not to go to the last stop on the tour because the rain was impossible. We got back to Melbourne around 7.15pm after a 2.5hour drive.
I went straight to bed.
Day 5: Slept in. Decided to join the 2.30pm Free Walking Tour. Glad I did. It was very different from the walking tour I did two days before. Different perspective, different places. I felt I had a better overview of Melbourne after participating on the two walking tours. It was on this tour I was made aware of the different ethnic communities for example, we went to Chinatown and the guide told us there was little Africa, little Italy and so on. I would have loved to visit those neighborhood.
Late evening, I went to Brunswick Street in the Frizroy area – the street is lined up with restaurants and bars. Great nightlife spot. I met up with an old friend and his girlfriend. See, the beautiful part of traveling is meeting up with folks you met while traveling. I met this friend in Panama in December 2009. Amazing, right?
Day 6: Departed Melbourne at 8am which meant early morning :(.
Arrived in Darwin at 12 noon and got to my Airbnb an hour later. It felt glad to be in a private room in a real house. Getting tired of hostels. Walked around. Darwin is a small town. Oh, did I forget, the weather is amazing. A break from the cold Melbourne.
I attempted to book a tour but their website was giving me an error message. Decided that was a sign to just chill in Darwin. No activities.
Day 2: Slept in. Went to the laundry mat to do my laundry. Went to the Waterfront area, read and people watched. Had dinner at a Mexican place – decent.
Day 3: last day in Darwin and Australia. Mixed feelings. Flight is late in the afternoon so I had the morning to visit the waterfront area.
There are several things to do in Darwin such as the croc cove, duckexploring, hop on hop off, walking tour and so on. I choose to do nothing but eat, eat and eat. I still enjoyed my stay.
Overall, glad I made this trip to Australia.
7 Tips for your Trip to Australia
- Melbourne is definitely my favorite city. I love the vibe and I hope to get an opportunity to live in Melbourne in the future. I’ll be working on that.
- Australia is not cheap so you have to plan accordingly. If you are traveling in groups, maybe renting a car will save you some money. I hate driving so renting a car on vacation is never an option for me.
- Taxis from the airport is not cheap in most cities. Use the airport shuttle, they drop you off at your destination.
- The Hop on Hop off bus might be a great way to explore the visit.
- Solo traveler? Don’t be afraid to join organized tours.
- Australia is BLESSED with numerous Asian restaurants. What type of Asian food are you craving? Oz got it all. They taste better than those in the USA or Caribbean.
- Visit an Aboriginal cultural center or go on organized cultural tour to Aboriginal place.