Travelling the East Coast of Australia – part II

Back in 2019, I embarked on a remarkable 6-month travelling journey across the east coast of Australia. The initial four months were dedicated to my internship for my bachelor’s degree. While the subsequent 8 weeks were reserved for exploring the magnificent East Coast. I chose to travel from Cairns to Melbourne, a journey that led me from tropical warmth to the cooler south. While it might seem like I was going against the backpacker flow. Starting in Cairns was the most practical option since I had already been living there for several months.

Last time talked about the first part of my trip down the east coast of Australia. Where I visited the Daintree Rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef, Magnetic Island, the Whitsunday and Fraser Island. And today I will dive into the second half of my trip down the east coast of Australia; where I visited the Everglades in Noosa, the Blue Mountains, Byron Bay, Yamba, the Great Ocean Road and the main cities: Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Noosa: Where Nature Meets Culinary Delights

After my exhilarating time on Fraser Island, I hopped on a short bus ride to Noosa, a destination I had been eagerly anticipating. Noosa is renowned among backpackers for its vibrant restaurant and bar scene, but my reasons for visiting were slightly different. This charming town is home to one of only two Everglades on the planet (the other being in Florida) and a beautiful national park right on its doorstep. My stay here was partly a chance to unwind after the action-packed adventure on Fraser Island and to indulge in some leisurely hikes in the national park.

Exploring the Everglades: A Kayaking Adventure to Remember

One of the highlights of my Noosa visit was a kayaking adventure through the Everglades. I anticipated a relaxing day gliding through picturesque landscapes, but it turned out to be more challenging than expected. We began our journey on a large lake at the edge of the Everglades, which meant we had to navigate across it before entering the serene rivers and creeks. The wind was quite strong that day, creating waves on the lake. Crossing the lake was a physically demanding task, and I even got stuck on a sandbank at one point. However, once I reached the other side, the real magic began.

As we ventured deeper into the Everglades, the wind was blocked by the surrounding trees, creating a peaceful atmosphere. The only sounds were the songs of birds. And around every bend in the waterway, there was a new and delightful sight to behold. Our journey was guided by a map that outlined the route and marked a designated spot to take a break and stretch our legs. About halfway through, it was time to turn back to our starting point, which meant crossing the lake once more. I thought the first crossing was challenging, but this time we had to contend with a headwind. It was a gruelling paddle, and I was tempted to give up multiple times, but the middle of a lake was not the most convenient place for that.

Noosa National Park: Tranquil Hikes and Wildlife Encounters

In the days following my kayaking adventure, my arms and shoulders were understandably sore. To give them a break, I decided to explore the various hiking trails in Noosa National Park. These hikes were relatively gentle, with minimal elevation changes and well-maintained paths. The lookout points along the way often offer the chance to spot dolphins, though I wasn’t fortunate enough to witness this spectacle during my visit.

The great thing about the park’s trails is their flexibility; they connect at different points, allowing you to tailor the length of your hike to your preferences. If you’re lucky, keep your eyes peeled for koalas, which can occasionally be spotted in the treetops. Wildlife enthusiasts will find Noosa National Park to be a haven for animal sightings. To maximize your chances of spotting wildlife, such as koalas and dolphins, plan your visits to the park during the early morning or late afternoon. These times of day are when many animals are active and visible.

Noosa provided a unique blend of natural beauty and culinary delights. Making it a memorable stop on my East Coast journey. Whether you choose to challenge yourself with a kayaking adventure in the Everglades or opt for the tranquillity of the national park’s hiking trails, Noosa offers an array of experiences for travellers.

Brisbane: A Brief Stop in the Big City

Brisbane marked a transition in my journey as I ventured back into a bustling city. Generally, I’m not particularly fond of cities, and Brisbane, in particular, is known for its business-centric atmosphere with relatively fewer tourist attractions. However, my stay in Brisbane was unexpectedly extended when my laptop charger malfunctioned, and I had to wait for a replacement. While in the city, I discovered one aspect I genuinely enjoyed – the free boat ferries plying the river. These ferries offer a fantastic way to explore the city and its surroundings. You can hop on and off at various stops along the river to explore different areas or, like me, simply stay aboard for the entire journey, soaking in the scenic views along the way. It was a pleasant and leisurely way to experience a bit of Brisbane despite my brief and unplanned stay.

Byron Bay: Surf, Sunsets, and Serenity

Byron Bay was my next stop after Brisbane, and it had quite a reputation among backpackers for its vibrant nightlife. However, I’m not much of a party-goer, so I decided to explore the other aspects of this coastal town. One highlight was the hike to the most eastern point of Australia. It offered breathtaking views of the ocean meeting the land, and I highly recommend it for anyone visiting Byron Bay.

I also received a tip from a fellow traveller about a small patch of swampy rainforest on the outskirts of the village. It was a hidden gem with a lovely boardwalk, allowing me to immerse myself in the lush surroundings.

Of course, I couldn’t miss the beautiful beaches in Byron Bay. One sunny day, I was lazing on the beach, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the sound of the waves. As the high tide approached, the beach began to shrink rapidly. But what happened next surprised everyone—a massive wave suddenly swept in, devouring the entire beach! I had been napping but managed to grab my belongings just in time. Many others weren’t as fortunate and had to retrieve their soaked and sandy belongings. It was a reminder that you can never predict what will happen next in Australia.

Yamba: Coastal Charm and Dolphin Encounters

Yamba, a quaint coastal town on Australia’s east coast, provided a unique and diverse experience during my travels. When planning your trip down the East Coast. It’s essential to consider the timing and the activities you’re interested in. Each destination offers different opportunities during specific seasons. For me, Yamba was an excellent choice due to its variety of attractions and natural beauty.

One logistical tip for your journey is to take advantage of night buses, such as the one from Yamba to Sydney. This not only saves you a night’s accommodation cost but also maximizes your exploration time in the places you want to visit.

Yamba boasts an array of guided trips and hiking opportunities that allow you to immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes of the area. Take the time to explore these options and discover the hidden gems that Yamba has to offer. I even had the thrilling experience of cliff jumping during one of the guided trips, adding an adventurous twist to my visit.

Like many places along the East Coast, Yamba is blessed with beautiful beaches. These pristine stretches of coastline provide a perfect backdrop for relaxation and adventure. Whether you’re into surfing or simply enjoying a leisurely beach day, Yamba has it all. One of Yamba’s unique features is its potential for dolphin sightings. Just as I had the opportunity to witness these incredible creatures playing in the waves, you too might be lucky enough to spot them during your visit. Keep your eyes peeled, especially during a breathtaking sunset, and you might have an unforgettable encounter with Yamba’s resident dolphins.

Blue Mountains: A Majestic Hiking Haven

Sydney, with its iconic landmarks like the Opera House and Bondi Beach, offered a taste of bustling city life during my journey. However, my preference for nature and tranquillity led me to explore beyond the city’s busy streets. After spending some time in the Royal Botanic Garden, I decided to purchase a train ticket and venture into the Blue Mountains.

The Blue Mountains turned out to be a remarkable surprise. The breathtaking beauty of this region exceeded my expectations, though it did come with a significant drop in temperature. Fortunately, I had the foresight to buy an extra sweater before boarding the train, which proved wise.

My initial plan was to spend just two days exploring the Blue Mountains. But after embarking on my first hike, I quickly realized that I wanted to extend my stay. Each day, I tackled a different hike in the park, often following recommendations from the hostel owner, who provided detailed guidance. The hikes in the Blue Mountains were both challenging and rewarding. The terrain was rugged, with steep ascents and descents, and the trails could be slippery and uneven. However, the effort was well worth it. The panoramic views were simply extraordinary.

Among all the hikes I undertook, my favourite and the most demanding was the trek through the valley. This journey began with a long and steep descent into the heart of the valley. Along the way, I encountered lush, moist vegetation and crossed many babbling creeks. The serene beauty of the valley made me want to linger there all day. However, after about an hour, the time came to make the equally challenging ascent back to the top. The Blue Mountains left a lasting impression on me. And the hikes through this rugged terrain were some of the most memorable moments of my journey down Australia’s east coast.

Great Ocean Road: Coastal Beauty and Natural Wonders

Melbourne marked the final destination of my 8-week journey down the east coast of Australia. After weeks filled with hikes and exploration, I decided to take it easy during my last week before my flight back home. Melbourne offers a variety of experiences, from guided city tours to leisurely days on the free tram that traverses the city. I also took some much-needed downtime at the hostel, as the preceding weeks had been quite exhausting. One thing I had hoped to do in Melbourne was visit the penguin population just south of the city. Unfortunately, I couldn’t muster the energy and motivation for it—an opportunity missed that I now regret.

However, the primary reason for my visit to Melbourne was to embark on the Great Ocean Road adventure. While the weather wasn’t ideal, with strong winds and chilly temperatures. The stunning views along the way made it an unforgettable experience. My trip was just for a day, but our guide ensured we saw as much as possible. We explored various segments of the Great Ocean Road, spotted koalas and kangaroos, and made extra stops to admire breathtaking views. To cap it off, our guide introduced us to Vegemite ice cream, a unique taste that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend!

If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend exploring the Great Ocean Road at your own pace, ideally with a rental car. However, even if you’re limited to a day trip like I was, it’s still well worth it. There’s so much more to see than just the famous 12 Apostles. This day trip served as the perfect conclusion to my adventure along Australia’s east coast. I often reminisce about this journey, and I hope that one day, I’ll have the opportunity to return to Australia. Revisit my favourite places, and discover new ones.

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In the end, my six-month odyssey through Australia’s east coast was more than just a journey; it was a transformative experience. From the lush rainforests of Daintree to the captivating underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef, the serene beaches of Magnetic Island, the pristine beauty of the Whitsundays, the rugged landscapes of Fraser Island, the everglades of Noosa, and the breathtaking Blue Mountains, each place left an indelible mark on my heart. Along the way, I encountered wildlife, embraced new adventures, and met fellow travellers from around the globe. Australia’s east coast is a treasure trove of natural wonders and unforgettable moments. As I reminisce about this extraordinary voyage, I’m filled with gratitude for the memories and hope for new adventures that await. Until then, the spirit of the East Coast lives on in my heart, a reminder of the beauty and wonder that our world has to offer.

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