After Sydney I decided I would set off on a mission up the East Coast aiming to get to Noosa (where my American scuba buddy was currently), and I would travel via greyhound. Originally, I had a deadline to get to Noosa as Alyssa had found a Fraser Island tour we wanted to do. After months of only having booked my flight and 2 nights accommodation, I was happy to finally have some sort of structure to my plans finally. I am the kind of person who needs things organised so I know what I am doing, however I wasn’t worried. Everyone I spoke to in the UK thought I was crazy for not organising anything, but I knew that you can’t plan too much in Australia in case your travel plans change with who you meet!
Sydney – Newcastle – Port Macquarie – Coffs Harbour – Byron Bay – Surfers Paradise – Brisbane – Noosa.
I left Sydney in the evening and arrived at Newcastle a few hours later. After setting my bags down, some people were heading out to the pub and invited me to go with them. Listening to live music and getting to know the new hostel stayers, then we headed back, grabbed some warmer clothes and headed to the beach. There’s something mesmerising about watching the sea at night time with the stars and the moon.
The following day I went and ate my breakfast at the Bogey hole and then went and explored, first to Darby Street – where all the cafe’s were – and grabbed some lunch. I then carried on walking to a nearby town called Merewether to check out the beach and walk the Anzac memorial walk on the way back!
That evening I went and got a famous Harry’s Cafe De Wheels hotdog – because apparently that was the thing I needed to eat whilst in Newcastle!
I left Newcastle around 10pm and arrived at Port Macquarie just after midnight. So I made my way to the hostel and had some instructions on how to find the envelope with a map and a room key inside. I felt like I was on some kind of mission. Successfully I found my bed.
Fully rested and ready to explore, I met some people who wanted to walk around the creek too. It wasn’t a long walk but we were told to watch out for the Koala’s (no luck there though) but we saw hundreds of Flying Fox Bats! It was so amusing watching them fight over branches and then suddenly a tree of them would fly away.
In the afternoon we explored the farmers market and the breakwater where all the rocks along the walk have been painted by various people over the years! Then later we went to the Koala Hospital and saw all the Koala’s which were getting treatment. However, we could only see the ones which weren’t getting re-released into the wild so they all were either blind, or missing a limb, or both. Poor Koalas.
After spending the evening playing card games and learning new ones, with a few Dutch guys we hired bikes and set off to find the lighthouse. The bike ride was intense. So many steep hills, sweating sooo much. But we made it – after a few wrong turns, and me having to get off and walk up some steep hills… and the view was definitely worth it!
After biking off into the sunset to view the rocks at the Breakwater again, I had to wait up until 12.30am for my next Greyhound leg. Again we played card games, me and Yasmin tried to go play pool to escape the retired ‘local’ who would bring beers to the hostel to drink but was kind of creepy… that failed, he followed us in to play pool. But it wasn’t so bad to stay up late as people decided to stay up and keep me company. Fab day.
Coffs Harbour – Disaster Strikes
After arriving at around 3/4am, someone at the hostel had made my bed for me so I didn’t have to disturb the other people sleeping. I woke up and saw there was a kayak trip happening so I quickly got ready to go explore. Down the creek towards the sea you could see the sting rays and fish swimming around. We kayaked to a little beach just before the sea, said hello to a friendly dog and then kayaked back. We came to a rope swing by the side, and naturally you cannot just ignore it so in we jumped.
After changing out of wet clothes I decided to explore Coffs Harbour further and walked down the pier where there was a beach. Of course after travelling in the night I was tired, and I fell asleep for a mere 10 minutes when I realised my bag had been stolen. Brilliant. Sheer panic I ran around trying to see if anyone had seen anyone take it, but everyone was oblivious. 😦
Sad times. I lost my purse, all my cards, my gopro and its accessories etc… Fml. Honestly, I am most gutted about losing my GoPro and all the memories I had captured from my first few weeks and all the memories I was yet to capture. I was without my cards for another month or so because of the ridiculous post and mailing issues but ah well!
I tried to have a look around the bushes and see if they had ditched my bag somewhere, but no luck. So I headed back to the hostel where the owners and staff were very helpful and tried to help me out as best they could. Instead of moping around the hostel, I decided the best thing I could do is carry on… A trip was about to head out to a national park nearby where hundreds of Kangaroos and Wallabies hung out – I couldn’t miss out on the real Aussie experience after a sh*t mishappening!
The next day a guy at the hostel, Jamie, was taking a course to be able to take people on kayaks out to the sea and needed some volunteers to be his dummies. So we went out on two people kayaks and learnt the different strokes and how to ride the waves. The instructor kept making us capsize at random times in order to test Jamie’s reactions, which was funny to see the confusion on his face. Then we rode in the waves and due to how intense they were we kept capsizing – not on purpose this time. It was tiring but it was so fun to get the adrenaline trying to catch the waves in. Because let’s face it, I can’t surf so this is maybe the closest in a while I will be able to ride the waves. Best experience ever.
I decided the next day it as time to move onto the next place. I didn’t want to leave Coffs Harbour on a sour note and I definitely didn’t as my experiences were intense and fun, but of course having a place that reminds me of the loses of my personal items was not the best thing either. So onwards to Bryon Bay!
After managing to get to Byron at a more appropriate time this time, I found my way to a hostel that I’d double checked would have room for a walk in (since I didn’t have any Aussie/international cards anymore) and landed at Cape Byron YHA.
I set down my stuff, went to explore and went to the beach but it was hella windy so I didn’t stay too long and decided to have a wander around all the little cute shops and boutiques to see what I could have a look at. Byron was a cute little town, and seemed to have quite a lot happening during the day and all in a small location.
I got back to the hostel and there was an event happening in the evening to see some live bands playing at a pub nearby. They were all really good, then a local ‘celebrity’ came on – a guy who ‘busks’ around the town singing about avocados and mangoes and such bizarre stuff.. But everyone got up to dance and it was hilarious but the weirdest yet classic small town thing to happen ever.
In the morning, I joined a few others and went to a spot to try out slack-lining and turned out it was definitely as hard as I anticipated. Then I got asked if I wanted to go on a hike to a nearby national park with someone I met the night before, so I headed with Eleana another girl from the hostel and we went in search of some waterfalls.
The following day I tried surfing… Hired some boards from the hostel and headed with Jason – both completely clueless as to how the thing worked. I tried getting someone who knew how to surf to show me how, but that didn’t work. Since there were very few decent waves to catch and a lot of hopeful surfers, as soon as one came, someone claimed the wave. And the odd time I would get taken by the wave, see someone approaching and next thing I knew I was underwater trying to find which way was up.
Let’s just say I cannot surf for the life of me. Covered in bruises, and lovely tan burn lines I retired back to the hostel. Later a few people from the hostel went to watch the sunset at the most Easterly point of Australia. Watching the dolphins playing in the waves, and the redness of the sky setting was stunning.
Of course another beach day was in order – then as I was heading back I heard my name being called and turned round to see Yasmin from Port Macquarie running over to me! What a lovely surprise! We had a little catch up of each others adventures, and then I had a final night drinking at the hostel, singing to guitars and ukuleles and enjoying each others company as a Byron backpacker family.
Surfers (not so) Paradise
The next day Eleana, Youri, Max and I headed on the greyhound to the Gold Coast. After being told not to go there, as it was just a party place – being a city just next to an average beach. But me and the Dutchies didn’t want to miss out a spot even if it wasn’t everyone else’s cup of tea – we had to see it for ourselves.
But after going round hostels to find one to accommodate us all, we found one that was a 20 bed dorm and looked like an army camp room. So we headed to see the beach, and had a look at the market on the beach front. Nothing much else to do so we went and relaxed at the hostel then explored the beach at night to see how it looks with the city lit up then we headed back ready to be up early and set off again in the morning.
The final stop before my final destination Noosa. We arrived and managed to get put into a 4 bed room without paying extra. Instead of exploring the city first we decided to rent a car and go in search of some national parks and waterfalls again.
After sorting out the hire car and then being told at the very end we had to pick it up from near the airport (thanks lady) and getting an uber driver who was too busy talking about how he is an uber X and so much better than the normal uber, and would not take customers the long way around for more money – he missed the exit and took us on a detour. Classic. But he told us before his mistake how to get back money in the case this does happen (thanks dude).
We headed to south to Tambourine National Park and explored a few different areas making use of the car, walking through the rain forests and trees, finding the waterfalls and then found a spot on the side of hill which was a perfect spot to watch sunset. Though it was quite misty and soon got cold – still good though who can complain.
We went out for tea, and met up with some local Brissys who I had met through a friend on my American study abroad year ever so briefly. We had a local tour guide to take us for a drink and have a catch up with was great.
The next day we got up and went to the top of a lookout point near the Botanical gardens and looked over the city of Brisbane.
Then we dropped off Eleana at the bus station as she left us to carry on to Noosa. Then after Youri had finally seen the doctor about his injured leg with the advice not to go on hikes… We went on hike. This time we headed North from Brisbane and went to the Glass House Mountains. This hike was a lot more intense and so we took it steady but we got to the top and the views of all the mountains in the area was stunning.
Again after driving around and stopping at a few different lookout points, we went to Wild Horse Mountain and climbed to the top to watch the sunset. Began talking to a photographer who was there to capture some amazing pictures we drove back to Bris.
Since the guys were not bothered about looking around the city, they also headed onto Noosa and I stayed in Brisbane to explore and stayed with Nat getting more local advice on where to go. Brisbane was a beautiful city, and Southbank which was really busy but great to explore.
Then I headed back with Nat went and grabbed some lunch then we went out for drinks in the evening with his housemates. Found a place where it had all retro games – playing pinball whilst having a beer is always a good way to spend the night – followed by drinking games back at the guys’ place.
The following day, since they were all busy with their studies, I set off again around Brisbane and went to explore the Botanical Gardens which were beaut with all the reptiles and wildlife!
Then spent the evening just relaxing. And since I didn’t want to over stay my welcome I left the next day, not before having a catch up with Alex who I met in Byron and then I headed on the last greyhound to Noosa.
Overall, my greyhound experience up half of the East coast was an amazing way to start my year in Australia and I am so glad I was able to do this before I settled in one place. And what an great time I had!
Apologies about the late post – life got in the way and this one was a long one to write about even if it is boring for you guys to read, I just wanted to fill you in on my adventure so far and hopefully some more interesting posts will be on their way shortly!
If you have taken the greyhound up the coast let me know what you thought of the places you stopped at and where you had your favourite moment!