THE SUNSHINE STATE

Firstly, sorry for my lack of posts recently… We have been crazy busy since we began our travels up the east coast!! We have just completed the last leg of our journey North, having arrived in Cairns yesterday evening, and I have so much to tell you about what we’ve been up to along the way!

Byron Bay was our next stop after Sydney, which was a pretty big change from what we had become used to! It’s a quirky little town with a beautiful beach and the people were all really ‘hippy’. We spent our first day just chilling at the beach and looking around the town. We also managed to squeeze in a workout (traveller tip: pack a skipping rope if you want an easy, cheap, and space-saving way to exercise)! As well as exploring our immediate surroundings, we decided to hire a car and venture further afield to some waterfalls! It was so nice to be able to drive again and we had such a good day, spent mostly at Killen Waterfalls where we were able to have a swim and walk right behind the waterfall!

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After Byron Bay we headed on up to the Gold Coast, which I loved. Although I’ve never been, it is what I would imagine Miami to be like. They don’t call it Surfers Paradise for nothing… The beach was absolutely stunning, with perfectly white sand and the water was a lovely temperature. The waves were also incredible which made me want to try surfing again after having done it in Bali! Unfortunately, we only had a couple of nights here before moving on to Brisbane.

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Whilst in Brisbane we decided to hire a car again and drive to the Steve Irwin Zoo. We had the best day and were able to see some of Australia’s finest animals, including crocodiles, kangaroos and koalas. The staff at the zoo put on a croc show in which they got up close and personal with a huge crocodile, which was amazing but also pretty nerve wracking! Although I didn’t get to hug a koala (which you might remember was one of the things on my bucket list), I did manage to snap a selfie with a kangaroo. They also had animals from all over the world, so we got to see giraffes, rhinos, and zebras as well. My favourite was definitely the tiger though!!

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet but I’ll be back very soon as I have so much to tell you about what I got up to on Fraser Island, the Whitsundays, and Magnetic Island!!

Bye for now!

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SYD-NYE

First things first, Happy New Year to you all!! I can hardly believe that it is now 2017 and I am already over a month into my trip!

Hannah and I had a fantastic New Year’s Eve in Sydney. We decided to treat ourselves to a dinner out at a Japanese restaurant called Sak√© in the Rocks in Sydney. The meal was some of the best sushi we’d ever had, including popcorn tempura prawns with spicy mayo and selections of sashimi, nigiri, and sushi rolls! We were in heaven!!

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After the meal we went to a nightclub called The Argyle, also in The Rocks – very near the Sydney harbour. We enjoyed a few drinks there before walking over to the harbour bridge to catch a glimpse of the famous Sydney fireworks! Safe to say they did not disappoint – I would even have to admit that they are better than London’s!

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Since New Year’s Eve we decided to explore some of the other beaches in Sydney, including Manly beach and Palm beach. One of the best things about our trip to Manly was the journey there. You have to catch a ferry from Sydney harbour, which goes right past the harbour bridge and opera house and gave us stunning views of the Sydney coastline.

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My favourite beach we visited was definitely Palm Beach, which you might know from the tv program Home & Away. We had to get a 2 hour bus ride there, but it was definitely worth it! After grabbing a bite to eat we spent a couple of hours relaxing on the beach. The highlight of the day was doing the lighthouse walk up Barrenjoey headland. It was only about a 20 minute walk up there but it was very steep so quite a challenge in flip flops! Once we reached the top the views were absolutely breathtaking!

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Sometimes when you’re travelling for an extended time and are without home comforts it’s good to do things that you would do at home to make you feel normal! We decided to go to the cinema and it actually made me temporarily forget that I was in Australia. We saw Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard’s new film Allied and I cannot stress enough that it is a MUST SEE – definitely one of the best films I’ve seen in a while! It was one of those films where with only five minutes left you still don’t know how it’s going to end. Set during World War II, it tells the story of a Canadian intelligence officer and a French resistance fighter who meet on an assassination mission in Casablanca and fall in love. In a world plagued by suspicion and unrest, Pitt’s character is ultimately forced to grapple with his undying love and trust for his wife and the British government’s suspicions of her true identity. I won’t give too much away, all I will say is that it perfectly balances romance and drama and won’t leave a dry eye in the house.

Now, taking my analytical English lit graduate hat off…. On the walk back to the hostel after the film we decided to stop off in a lovely little chocolate shop on Bondi road that we’ve been eyeing up for days. We each bought a few of their freshly made choccies, which were to die for! My personal favourite was the salted caramel chocolate heart!

Continuing along the theme of food, we visited some wonderful bars and cafes while in Sydney. Three words: wine, cheese & hiphop. If I told you that it’s possible to visit a bar that combines all three you’d probably think I was crazy. But such a place does exist and it’s amazing!! It’s called Big Poppa’s on Oxford Street and if you’re a fan of these three things, like I am, then I urge you to visit it if you’re ever in Sydney.

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Also, Preach cafe on bondi beach serves the most yummy (and healthy!) food! It wasn’t until the waiter had visited our table 3 times that we finally decided what we wanted to eat as there were far too many amazing things to choose from. We even took a picture of the menu so that later that evening we could make our own version of their zucchini noodles, with chicken, pesto, tomatoes, avocado, and pine nuts!

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Before leaving Sydney we were determined to visit the Blue Mountains. We decided to do it through a tour company advertised through our hostel called Oz Tours. Unfortunately, the tour itself was quite disappointing, as they made a number of mistakes with our booking and the actual tour itself was poor, unless you were willing to pay extra for the activities offered at each stop. Thankfully, being able to see the beautiful blue mountains and specifically the Three Sisters made up for it!

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As I write we are currently on our way to Byron Bay, where temperatures are being reported at 47 degrees Celsius – wish me luck!!!

Bye for now,

Jess