Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Australia: THE END

On the 28th my Australian visa officially expired and my year there was up. Ok so I left Oz a week and a half ago (Hi SE Asia) but it still felt like an occassion that needed to be marked.
I did more new things, explored more places and earned more money than I ever have done. I met some cool people and changed for the better (I actually eat certain vegetables now, go me!) and I finally no longer look like Casper the friendly ghost..
From having an awesome apartment in Perth to doing two weeks of farm work up in Queensland to finishing up with 3 months in a Sydney hostel, Australia has been pretty sweet. There was a couple of rough patches (falling out with friends, despising our hostel) but we got there in the end.
It was quite sad knowing that our year was up and for half a second I almost regretted not doing my farm work to get my second year but oh well.
Here are my favourite bits from the past year...
There's still a few places in Australia I need to return to - Darwin, Cairns and Melbourne - and we have already talked about the possibility of coming back and travelling around in a campervan (with a cheeky trip over to New Zealand aswell maybe?).
It's a beautiful country with a zillion things to see and do - If you are thinking of visiting then just do it.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Christmas in Kuta


Christmas in Bali, it doesn't get any more Aussie than that does it mate?

Let's face it, as I come from the land of rain, slush and occasionally snow, a warm Christmas sucked. No crazy family, no Christmas telly and no presents to give or receive. It's probably gunna be struck from the memory bank I won't lie.

Alleycats bar completely saved Christmas in my eyes: A full dinner with YORKSHIRE PUDDINGS for a grand total of £5.65. (They also do a mean chip butty with proper chips- They're on Poppies 2 tucked away behind Twice bar).

The Balinese made a lot of effort for the Westerners despite not actually celebrating Christmas and it was quite nice having a kind of Christmas tree outside our room door complete with tinsels, baubles and lights.

I'm in no rush to have a warm Christmas any time soon but now it's over I can look forward to 3 months of dicking around in SE Asia - Woo!

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and I wish you all the best for 2016!

Friday, 18 December 2015

Saying goodbye to Sydney.

Sydney Opera house

I'm currently sat in Adelaide airport waiting for our flight to Port Lincoln. For some stupid reason I thought a stopover of four hours sounded like a good idea. It wasn't. Luckily Adelaide airport has free, fairly decent wifi.

Yesterday I left my job at the National Breast Cancer foundation which was actually quite sad. In the three months I was there the guys made me feel really welcome and made my time working in Sydney pretty pleasant.

Aswell as leaving my job I also said goodbye to our hostel (which wasn't that sad as it's a pretty grim hostel) and Jody and I were waved off by a humongous flying cockroach who wouldn't leave our room, wonderful.

Sydney has been great. At first we missed home but soon we realised we were living in one of the coolest cities in the world. There's always something to do, something to see and apart from the constant rain (seriously, blazing sunshine Mon-Fri then rain Sat-Sun) we had a blast.

I really hope I get to see Sydney again some day but for now it's goodbye and onwards to Port Lincoln!


Sunday, 13 December 2015

Ten Things I actually want for Christmas as a traveller

christmas lights

1. Cash
Let's face it, who wouldn't like a whole heap of cash for Christmas? As a traveller cash is No.1 priority - You gotta pay the bills somehow.

2. A Bath
After months of living in hostels with dirty floors, poor water pressure and varying temperature my aching back would kill somebody for a bath right now. Bring on S.E Asia and the affordable hotels.

3. Socks
I'm one of those people who has to wear socks with trainers and due to numerous unpacking and re-packing my socks seem to be dwindling in numbers.

4. New Trainers
I wrecked my No.1 black Vans sweet potato picking (bellend) and my cute dog print ones are starting to get a bit worse for wear. K-Mart ones fall off your feet within a week so new trainers are definitely on my list.

5. A Hard Drive
I keep telling myself I should get a hard drive for numerous reasons but can't justify the cost. If someone were to get me one however...

6. A Roast Dinner
I so wish hostels had ovens and I so so wish there was some kind of teleportation device that could send one over like RIGHT NOW.

7. Someone to take my bag home
No matter how much stuff I bin, or send home, my bag is still stupidly heavy and I don't want to take it to Asia. If someone had told me we would have been going home via Asia I'd have just brought carry on and that's it.

8. A Mosquito Genocide
This ones one for the big man if he's reading this. Mosquitos are pointless, annoying, buzzy little pricks who should vanish from the face of the planet. Why are tigers going extinct but not mozzies?

9. Flight Vouchers
Much like Cash, flight vouchers would come in handy, especially when it comes to getting the big, expensive flight home. Failing that, I can always save them for the next adventure...

10. Books
I've been using the Kindle App since I left and I don't care what other people say, it isn't the same. As soon as I get home I am back on to the real deal. Sure books are a pain to carry but just one wouldn't hurt would it?

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Why I haven't written about my time in The Whitsundays

Back in October I went to Airlie Beach: The gateway to the Whitsunday Islands.  In the pictures the Whitsundays looks a place that dreams are made of. Jody and I were told so many times how lucky we were to be going and after reading and hearing so many positive accounts of people's time there, we were expecting paradise and sadly it just didn't live up to our expectations.

We stayed at the Airlie Waterfront Backpackers which was awesome. It was right on the beach as the name suggests and it was a fairly reasonable price for three nights in a double room (We also got an upgrade for the first time ever - Woo!). Airlie Beach itself was wicked - good food, good shops, good people - and we loved the little seaside town vibe it had going on.

The first day we went on a half day kayak with Salty Dog Sea Kayaking which was amazing. I am super unsporty and super unfit so I was expecting to be really bad at it but turned out to be really, really good. I won't go into it as we still have an underwater camera waiting to be developed with all the pictures on it so the kayaking is a whole other blog post in itself!

So yeah the first day was good, beautiful weather, beautiful scenery - Just what we expected.
Proof that I really did kayak! Image from Salty Dog Sea Kayaking
On our second day we booked a day tour on a Cruise Whitsundays boat which would take us to three Whitsunday Islands - Daydream, Hamilton and Whitsunday. The cruise took us to a resort on Daydream with the biggest live man-made reef in the world. They also had a big old lemon shark called Bruce.

Next up was Hamilton Island which was beautiful but stank of money (the rich and holiday gravitate towards it due to it's privacy and up market hotels). We had a potter around and had an amazing lunch at the Marina Tavern before heading over to the main event - An afternoon at Whitsunday Island.

Hamilton Island Marina
Obviously when we were at Daydream & Hamilton the weather was beautiful - blue skies, warm with a light breeze but when we arrived at Whitehaven Beach the wind picked up and the clouds started to roll in. Just our luck.
Due to time constraints, everyone tended to stick to the end of the beach where we got dropped off as we didn't have much time there. This meant big crowds and if we went to find our own little slice of paradise we could have ended up spending an evening camped on the beach waiting for the next day's boat to pick us up.
Before the clouds came to say hello
I was a little bit let down by the Whitsundays.
It wasn't the cruise companies fault, it wasn't our fault, we just got unfortunate with the weather. I would definitely recommend others who want to go to the Whitsundays to allow time for a full day at Whitsunday Island thought so you can take your time and see the Hill Inlet (the generic Whitsunday photo you see when you google it...Blue ocean swirled with white sand).

So there you have it. Make sure you have enough time in the Whitsundays to see everything you want to see, don't rush it and check the weather forecast!


Friday, 4 December 2015

The Travel Link Up: December

This month's travel link up could obviously only be about one thing: CHRISTMAS. It's going to be quite weird spending the festive period without my family in a country that a) doesn't celebrate Christmas and b) is ridiculously hot. 

I've already mentioned how I feel about spending Christmas abroad but the more I think about it the less I'm dreading it. It's something completely new and aswell as that, it's Jody and I's first Christmas without any presents to buy, family to visit or friends to drink with - It's our first Christmas just the two of us, which I think will be quite nice in a way.

Just because I'm not completely dreading it though doesn't mean I'm not gunna miss some Christmassy things...

The Lead Up.
I love the Christmas lead up - the music, the films, the TV, the markets, the decorations, the lights...December is just magical and everyone just seems in a brilliant mood throughout December.

The Weather.
We are quite lucky in Yorkshire because at some point or another we tend to get snow. This means Woolly hats and scarves, thick jumpers and boots - my favourites. Failing that it's pretty nice to watch from out of the window with the heating turned up to the max.

The Food.
Yorkshire puddings, potatoes, carrots, meat, M&S mini rolls, OMG. *Insert Homer Simpson style drool here* I could go on and on about food all day but I won't.

The Family.
My family are completely crackers but in the best way possible. Christmas is fun and it's loud and it's full of games which is how Christmas should be in my opinion.

Hop on over to Emma, Kelly, Rebecca or Ayla's blogs to check out the other link ups and get yourself in the Christmas spirit!

Are any of you guys spending Christmas abroad this year? How do you feel about it?


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Ten things you should know before heading to Gili Trawangan

Since I got home from Indonesia in August all I've told people is that they HAVE to go to the Gili islands. A short boat ride from Bali, the island is full of life, adventure and fun and it's a must if you are in Indonesia.

1. You can barter down your boat fare.
We were having a few drinks at a restaurant in Seminyak when we got chatting with a waiter/travel agent. We mentioned Gili T and he said he would give us return transfers for 650,000 IDR each ($65 or 30 quid) instead of the usual 1,200,000 IDR fare. We saw people who paid more and people who paid less so you can always try your luck and haggle down.

We went with Semaya One cruise.

2. And the boat won't always be on time.
I was waiting on Gili Trawangan for two hours to catch the boat back to Bali - I won't complain thought, it wasn't exactly the worst two hours of my life!

3. Don't let the harbour fool you.
I thought the harbour was a bit messy and a bit of a let down but walk 10 minutes down the path and you are in Indonesian paradise.

4. Be very aware of Arak and mushie shakes.
Arak is an south east asian drink that comes from palm trees and tends to be really cheap. Don't be drawn to it by the price tag though as this stuff can be lethal due to uncontrolled amounts of alcohol. Also be aware of 'happy' shakes that are laced with magic mushrooms...No-one wants a medical emergency on a desert island.

5. There's a lot of sales people on the beach.
This can be annoying for some but Jody and I weren't really bothered. Just be polite and say no thanks and they tend to leave you alone. The guys we spoke too were really nice and loved trying out their cockney accents on us.

6. But in the proper shops they won't haggle
So on the mainland you can probably get those nice Ray Benz sunglasses for at $2-3 but they don't play that game on Gili T because where else are you gunna go? All the shops have the same kinda price so you can't try the whole 'it was cheaper next door' trick.

7. The island only takes 2-3 hours to walk around.
The island has 3 modes of transport: foot, bike or horse and cart. Unless you have loads of luggage, take a nice walk to your hotel because it really won't take long and that way you give a poor horse a break from taking you ten minutes down the road.

PS When you hear the horse and cart bells coming stand to the side because they don't stop for no-one.

8. There are locals on the island so be respectful. 
Although Gili Trawangan is a pretty commercial island now, there are still people who live there full time and have lived there for a while. Be respectful, don't be too loud around there homes and don't be a dick and make a mess on the roads and beaches.

9. The pharmacy is quite expensive.
Jody had to go to the pharmacy for some lip balm (he's obsessed and couldn't wait to get to the mainland) and ended up paying $25 bucks for a tub of Vaseline. He's crazy I know. Make sure you takes some bits and bobs with you to save you some money (Plasters, paracetamol, condoms, mosquito spray and the like).

10. You might not want to leave.
36 hours on Gili T wasn't enough for us and we found ourselves seriously considering staying another night despite the risk of missing our flight back to Perth. We heard some chicks saying they'd ended up staying there for two weeks instead of two nights so don't have too much of a fixed schedule.

Gili Trawangan truly is a beautiful place although the amount of young backpackers there may put some people off. If you can look past that you are bound to have a wicked time and go home with some pretty sweet memories.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Australia: Month 11 Recap

Well that's month eleven over and done with.

This month has been a blur of working and saving as usual. We've done a bit of exploring though: We went to the Blue Mountains (It was freezing) and on a pirate ship around Sydney Harbour (it rained). Sydney is gearing up for Christmas and to be honest it all just feels a bit weird. (You can read more about that here).

This month we've started booking things for our 2016 SE Asia trip. We have our overnight train to Chiang Mai sorted, our day at the Elephant Nature Park paid for and managed to get ourselves two nights in a swanky Phuket hotel that we would probably never have been able to afford under normal circumstances - Thank you Groupon!

The savings did take a bit of a hit though as we decided to invest in the new TomTom Bandit action camera. We thought it would be ideal for our shark cage dive and the adventures that follow it in Asia. The biggest draw was definitely the shake to edit mobile app as we are a little bit technophobic - So expect some ridiculous videos in 2016!

I hope everyone had a lovely November and that you're all getting ready for the big C word!


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Spending Christmas in another country.

Jingle Bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way! Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh, HEY!

With less than a month to go until Christmas it's started to sink in that I'm not going to be in Yorkshire or with my family for the festive period for the first time in 23 years. Christmas trees have started sprouting up in Sydney, Christmas songs are on the radio and the shops are chocka with Christmas foods and gifts and it doesn't feel real.

Normally I've already planned and bought most of my Christmas gifts, I've eaten my way through at least 7 chocolate oranges because they were on offer at Morrisons and I've already watched Elf and Home Alone at least once.

I haven't done any of these things this year - I haven't even got an advent calendar yet (partly cos my Mum usually gets me one and partly cos the chocolate in Australia SUCKS).

Even though our visas expire on the 28th we've decided to spend Christmas in Bali due to extortionate flight prices between Christmas and New Year. It will probably be a million degrees despite it being the wet season but maybe the rain will remind us of home?

Instead of moping around, we have big plans to spend Christmas Eve getting drunk and watching Christmas movies (If I can bear to watch them) before possibly going the Waterbom water park on Christmas day to take our minds off the whole being thousands of miles away from home thing.

So I ask you fellow travellers this: How do you deal with spending Christmas away from home, away from your family, in a climate totally different to what you are used too??


Saturday, 21 November 2015

Why Fremantle should be on your list of places to go to in 2016.

When the Lonely Planet's Best of 2016 list was released and we saw Fremantle was on the list we both thought 'Well duh'. Our only qualm with the list was that it was only at No.7.

When we lived in Perth, Fremantle was our go to day trip. We would load up the car and spend the day wandering around, finding something new every time we went. A lot of people make the mistake of missing the West coast when they come to Australia and Fremantle is just one of the many reasons you should make WA a priority.

The Breweries and Bars.
Fancy a drink? Then Fremantle is the perfect place. Crammed with bars and breweries Fremantle leaves you spoilt for choice. Most notable is the Little Creatures brewery which is seriously popular any day of the week and when we used to go I was partial to a drink at the Ball and Chain or the Sail and Anchor.

The Restaurants and Cafes.
I could go on all day about the various eateries in Fremantle but I will stick to just three. The Bather's beach house is located right by the beach and does THE BEST beef short ribs (althought the service isn't amazing). There is also Wassup Dog in amongst the market serving up amazing gourmet beef hot dogs and the monk brewery which does a cracking steak sandwich (My apologies to any vegetarians!)

Fremantle Prison.
If you're into a bit of British/Australian history this is a good place to go. Naughty brits were sent here in the 1850's and built the place from the ground up. It offers some really interesting tours - the normal prison tour, the great escapes tour and even an underground canoe tour.

The Markets.
Fremantle market is great. It has loads of different food options, stalls that sell all sorts and even a place where you can go get a head, neck and shoulder massage. It also has street performers. I don't think I need to go on.

The Shops.
Aswell as the market, Fremantle is stuffed full of cool shopping opportunities. From shops like City Beach that sell premium brands like Ripcurl, Billabong, etc to shops like Cheep, that sell vintage and kitsch clothing at low low prices. There's also Krazy Tees where I picked up a sweet Fight Club t-shirt.

The Beach.
Fremantle beach is nice. Like really nice. Soft, white sand and beautiful blue colours. It gets a pretty nice breeze aswell making it the perfect place to sunbathe and swim.

The Vibe.
Fremantle has that laid back, easy going seaside town kinda feel, You can easily spend a day here and not actually do anything apart from lie around, potter around stalls and eat.

So there you have it. Fremantle. Quite possibly my favourite place in Australia. Try not too miss it!


Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Five awesome and unique Australian getaways

Everyone loves a quirky and unique place to stay right? Somewhere different, that not many people can say they've been? Well this list showcases 5 awesome places that Australia has to offer ranging from Budget to Luxury. 
blue mountains cave
The Enchanted Cave, The Blue Mountains, NSW
Price range: $$$

Lionel Buckett stumbled across this cave whilst bush walking on his family land and fell in love with the view. With 25 years of building experience he decided to turn this little cliff top into an amazing space made out of concrete and steel.

With a background in eco friendly buildings, this little pad was built facing North so it would be warm in the Winter and cooler in the Summer. The area is steeped in aboriginal history so in keeping with this, there are carvings telling stories throughout the cave.

Sadly though, one night in this badboy will set you back $1100 a night...One for the bucket list/lottery win right?

Find it on AirBnB here.

fremantle prison yha

Fremantle Prison YHA, Fremantle, WA
Price Range: $

When I arrived in Perth, Fremantle prison was one of the first places I went to. I remember hearing that the women's section was a hostel but never thought to go there. The prison itself was built in the 1850's and the whole prison was only decommissioned in 1991 - so not that long ago really.

The prison has been converted and you can now stay in a 10 bed dormitory for $26 a night or a double for $112 a night. But for those wanting the true prison experience you can stay in a double cell for $68. It's also got 5 stars on TripAdvisor which is always a good sign!

Book on the YHA website here.

taronga zoo roar and snore

Roar and Snore, Taronga Zoo, NSW
Price Range: $$$

The idea of Roar and Snore is simple. Sleep under the stars and be lulled to sleep and then rudely awoken by the roar and trumpet and chirps of the various animals that inhabit Taronga zoo. Sounds totally romantic and awesome and fun for all ages right?

Roar and Snore starts in the evening with a buffet dinner, snacks, desserts and some photo opportunities with some of the zoo's cutest and cuddliest residents. You then get an early night as it's a 6am start for breakfast and two behind the scenes tours before your spending the rest of the day at the zoo or heading home.

This sells out quickly though so if you want to go you have to be fast. Prices start at $525 for an adult and a child and $640 for two adults.

Book tickets here.
undara experience railway sleeper

Undara Experience, Undara Lava Tubes, QLD
Price Range: $$

Fancy a night in the outback? This might be the one for you. The Undara Volcanic national park is just over 300km's Southwest of Cairns and is famous for it's lava tubes and gems. The lava tubes are considered some of the largest and longest on the planet.

The Undara experience offers huts, tents and a caravan park but my personal favourite option is the converted train carriages. They look super cosy and just add something a bit extra to your trip.
A railway carriage doesn't come cheap as it will set you back $170 a night for a double room but it definitely makes for interesting story telling.

Currently closed until February for Green Season, you can make a booking using the details found here.
desert cave hotel

Desert Cave Hotel, Coober Pedy, SA
Price Range: $$
Located 8 hours Northwest of Adelaide people were drawn to Coober Pedy as it is a fantastic place for mining opals and is known as the opal capital of the world. It's also super well known due to the fact most of it's residents live underground to escape the scorching heat.

This unique way of living draws tourists into Coober Pedy which brings us nicely on to the Desert Cave hotel. The 4 star hotel was completed in the 80's and offers both underground and overground rooms - but why would you stay in a room above the ground when you can experience a night in the quiet and cool darkness of the underground for only $10 more?

It's $149 to stay above ground and $159 to stay underground and you can book a stay here.

Have any of you guys stayed in any unique and wonderful places like these that you care to share?

All images are sourced from Google.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

A couple of days in Byron Bay

On my way to Sydney from Bundaberg I stopped at Australia Zoo and Surfers Paradise - which I've already told you about - But I also made a pit stop in Byron Bay. It was over a month ago now and I'm  only just writing about 3 days in the must go place for any East Coast backpacker. Oops!

byron bay kookaburra

Byron Bay - Known for it's laid back hippy vibe and loved by pretty much every backpacker (and human) to ever pass through it. It's a small place known for it's awesome surf, chilled out lifestyle and all round awesomeness.

We rocked up on the Greyhound bus after a disastrous 3 days in Surfers Paradise and really hoped that everything we had heard about Byron Bay was true. And guess what? We pulled into grey clouds and a threat of rain. Just our luck.

I was a little bit worried that Byron Bay would be overran by backpackers trying to live the backpackers dream in this cute little town - And there was a hell of a lot of them (us included) but with the beautiful beaches and the quirky shops you couldn't help but fall in love with the place...Even when it was wrapped in gloom. 

aquarius backpackers

Image from Aquarius backpackers website.

Anyway, we stayed at Aquarius backpackers in a private room within a dorm. It was $79 each a night totaling £237 for 3 nights ($118.50 each). It was a bit of a splurge but after spending the last few weeks in dorms we needed space from other travelers.

Aquarius was really nice and clean, with a great bar and food menu (Try the pulled pork sliders!). The dorms all had private CLEAN bathrooms which was a major bonus after the dingy, smelly toilets of our Bundaberg backpackers. Located outside is the pretty kick-ass mural of a kookaburra and surf which I had seen on Instagram many a times but have now seen IRL.

byron bay cliffs

For 2 days we didn't really have a lot to do thanks to the odd torrential downpour and bank accounts that were slowly getting emptier and emptier. Our dreams of sea-kayaking with dolphins seemed impossible thanks to a pretty gloomy forecast.

Then low and behold, on the morning of our final day, the sun peeked out to say hi.

As sea-kayaking requires you to pre-book we were devastated that we hadn't just taken the risk and booked the kayaking regardless of what the weatherman says but you may or may not know, we Brits are obsessed by the weather and what the weatherman says, goes.

Instead of being upset over missing out, we got ourselves outside and tackled the Cape Byron walking trail - Four kms of ocean views, coastal cliffs and a great viewing point for dolphins and whales.

There are loads of opportunities to lay on the beach or take a dip in the ocean along the track but our goal was to get to the Cape Byron lighthouse.

byron bay lighthouse
The walk itself was pretty sweet but I definitely wouldn't recommend it to the seriously unfit or people with pushchairs/wheelchairs. Neither do the NSW parks department! BUT we did see people of all ages doing the walk so I guess it just depends on how fit you are.

I'm not gunna lie, on parts of the walk I thought I was going to die. It was Bluff Knoll all over again. Super steep steps! If you're fitter than me (which isn't hard) you will be okay, just take it easy and make sure you take water aswell as it can get pretty hot on a nice day. There are vans selling juices and a cafe near the lighthouse though if you do forget.

For those with pushchairs or people who aren't as mobile as others, there is a car park by the light house and a road leading up to it so fear not!

easterly point of byron bay

Part of the Cape Byron track is the most Easterly point of the Australian mainland which I was pretty chuffed about. It's hard getting a picture of the sign without some random tourist in because of course everyone wants a photo at the end of Australia.

On route we saw a load of dolphins playing and doing tricks which was really cool. Seeing dolphins in the wild is one thing that will never grow old! We also saw the sea kayaking expedition that we would have been part of getting pretty close to some dolphins - it's something I try not to think about.

 cape byron lighthouse
Eventually we got to the light house despite the heat and a bit of moaning (by me obviously). The lighthouse has been there since 1901 and has a huge light inside which is one of Australia's most powerful.
Just as we got up a tour guide was due to start a tour and had two free, extra tickets that he was trying to give people before he started and who did he see looking at the light house wondering if they could go up?
Jody and I of course.
detail of byron bay lighthouse

We learned about the lighthouses history - none of which I can remember now - and the guide (who was a volunteer) was really informative and managed to make a boring, old light house sound pretty interesting.

We went up to the top of a lighthouse and were allowed out of a little door to see the 360 degree view that it offered.

Byron By Lighthouse view

Pretty sweet right?

From our viewing point we could make out a momma whale and her calf as well meaning we had had a very successful whale watching season without having to step foot on a boat (we saw some in Bremer Bay and Fitzgerald River Park in Western Australia the month before).

If you are into combining good views with a bit of exercise and fresh air then I can't recommend the Cape Byron Walking track more. We spent a good few hours out of the hostel catching tans and best of all, it was all free!

But don't worry, even if you aren't into pretty but long coastal walks there's a viewing platform near the start of the walk where you can see dolphins playing before relaxing on the golden sand.

We may have been rained on in Byron Bay but our last day made up for that. Byron Bay is catered nearly completely for backpackers but it still has an underlying charm to it that will be hard to shake no matter how many hostels open up.

What do you guys think of Byron? Beautiful haven or backpacker playground?


Monday, 2 November 2015

A few of my favourite (travel) things

This month I decided to be a part of the November Travel link up! This month's link up is on the subject of our favourite things.

Flying over lit up cities at night.
When your luggage comes out first at the baggage carousel.
White sand that feels like powder between your toes.
Fresh lemon juice on a melting hot day.
Collecting pin badges from each destination I go to.

What are your favourite things about travel?


Saturday, 31 October 2015

Australia: Month 10 recap

This month has been hard.
Don't get me wrong there's been some highlights - Seeing Robbie Williams and John Bishop, going to the Whitsundays and learning to kayak - but in other ways its been tough.
As much as we love travelling and exploring new places we are ready to go home. Living in a hostel is getting us down, all our money goes into our Asia fund and we are missing our families and friends...So yeah, we are definitely ready.
Sydney and the Aussie lifestyle are pretty cool and we get paid more here but it just isn't the same. 7 more weeks of working and saving then 3 months travelling Asia before going back to our favourite place in the world.
Hope everyone is having an awesome day and Happy Halloween!


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

10 things I've learned in 10 months away

Always lower your expectations.
What a morbid note to start on hey? Well it's the truth. Chances are if you go into something thinking it's gunna be the best thing ever, you're probably going to be disappointed by it. The less I've expected of a place, the more I've loved it.

Don't listen to other people's travel recommendations.
You know that saying 'One man's trash is another man's treasure'? Well that can be applied to travelling. Just 'cos someone in your hostel didn't like it, doesn't mean you won't. Do what you want to do and have a good time doing it. Which leads me too...

You should do the touristy things.
Don't miss out just 'cos you think it's not the 'traveller's way'. People try so hard to get off the beaten path these days that they forget just to enjoy where they are. There's a reason that the top 10 things to do on Trip Advisor are the top 10 things to do.

The Brits are a little bit ignorant.
So this doesn't apply to all Brits but it does apply to the majority. I have met a lot of different people, from a lot of different places and they all speak amazing English. I took GCSE French but that's as far as my knowledge of another language goes.

Plan but don't plan too much.
Book you flights in advance, have a hostel booked for the first few days but don't try too hard to squeeze everything in. Plans change.

Talking to people isn't as scary as I used to think.
I'm not half as shy as I thought I was and I can hold a conversation with someone by myself, without Jody there to make it less awkward.

You can't judge a book by it's cover. Seriously.
We met a chavvy looking lad in Queensland who looked like a complete nutter but actually spoke fluent French and turned out to be one of the nicest guys we've met in Australia. Lesson? Don't judge someone on first impressions.

Travelling is different for everybody.
One person's idea of travel might be two weeks in Spain every year, another person's might be 6 months exploring South America - And who are we to say that either of them are wrong? Whatever makes you happy.

It might not change your life, but it will give you a new perspective on it.
I've learned that 1) Yorkshire will always be home, no matter where I go and 2) that living out of a rucksack and sharing a room with 6 other people is NOT for me. I am definitely more of a flash packer. I love exploring new countries but from a base consisting of a nice hotel that has wifi, a pool and room service. Sorry guys.

The world isn't as scary as the news makes out.
The world can be dangerous, but it can also be incredible. Don't be daft, have a plan B and have your wits about you and you will be okay. Probably.


Saturday, 24 October 2015

5 Awesome Western Australian National Parks

National Parks in Australia aren't like the national parks in England. That's probably because Oz get's a hell of a lot more sunshine than us so a day at a national park is pretty sweet. In Western Australia I went to quite a few and all of these are no more than 6 hours* drive away from the Perth CBD - Enjoy!

Fitzgerald River National Park

How far from Perth? 5 hours 39 minutes away or 495kms South East.
 Why should I go here? Aswell as being home to some gorgeous coast line, during the Winter months whales use this sheltered bay as a nursery for their young. Listen carefully and you will hear them chuffing and spraying water. Don’t be put off by the uneven road surfaces, a 2wd can make it just take it steady.

Stirling Ranges National Park

How far from Perth? 3 hours 39 minutes or 343kms South East.
Why should I go here? The Stirling Range is super dramatic and makes for some awesome photography but it’s main draw is Bluff Knoll, the highest peak it WA. It’s a 3-4km hike but the catch is that it has a lot of steep steps. I loved it but it isn't for everyone - read about my experience here.

John Forrest National Park 
How far from Perth? 40 minutes or 30kms North East.
Why should I go here? John Forrest National Park isn’t that far out of Perth (Bonus!) but as soon as you get out of your car you are transported into the bush. Great for hiking or just an afternoon picnic, it’s easy to spend a whole day here. It's got heaps of history aswell.

Kalbarri National Park
How far from Perth? 5 hours 39 or 530(ish) kms North.

Why should I go here? Kalbarri is best experienced in the colder months or early in the morning before 1) the sun gets out and 2) the flies wake up. Catch the sun rising over the river through Nature’s Window then have a climb in the gorges. For the braver crew members check out Kalbarri Abseil (Jody approved!).

Yanchep National Park

How far from Perth? 45 minutes or 55kms North.
Why should I go here? Yanchep is great because it's so close to Perth! Aswell as having a variety of bushwalks (Do you dare to try the ghost walk?), there's aboriginal experiences, caves, koalas and a tonne of kangaroos! Awesome for families, couples or solo explorers, there is something for everyone.

Things to Remember:

- Most parks have a $12 fee per car but for the full day you get to spend there this is nothing really.

- A lot of the land in the national parks is sacred ground for the indigenous people of Australia so be respectful!

 -The main aim of the National parks is to preserve and protect the native flora and fauna there so take your rubbish home with you and tread carefully.

*Sadly I didn't make it to the far North so none from that area are included.

Any nice national parks I should go to in NSW? Comment below!

Friday, 23 October 2015

Happy Saturday!

Hi all!
Jody and I are back in Sydney after four days in Brisbane and three days in the Whitsunday region of Queensland. We've come back to clear blue skies and two bottom bunks in our hostel. Hope everyone is having a nice weekend!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Robbie Williams in Brisbane

Howdy from Brisbane!
On Saturday night Jody and I went to see the legend that is Robbie Williams at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. After being a fan for many, many years now it was awesome to see him on his greatest hits tour, especially while we are in Oz.
Robbie was a great entertainer and I didn't think he would be as good live as he is on the radio but he was actually better.
Next up, John Bishop.
Such fun!


Friday, 16 October 2015

The Cloud 9 Chocolate Cafe.

Cloud 9 Chocolate Café, Newtown - 199 King Street, Newtown, 2042.
A 15 minute drive from the Sydney CBD and easily accessed by public transport lies Newtown: A fun and quirky suburb with a lot of awesome places to eat and drink. On the main road is Cloud 9 chocolate café which sells a variety of cakes, ice cream, waffles, cookies and drinks.

Perhaps most intriguing of all is their $7 gelato slider - Your choice of ice cream sandwiched between 2 cookies (again of your choosing) and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Yes it's as good as it sounds.

I went for a a classic not overly exciting but definitely amazing mix of chocolate ice cream, vanilla and chocolate chip cookies and milk chocolate sauce - As you can see from the picture, it was pretty epic.

The ice cream is rich, the cookies are soft and together they make an awesome combo that will have you itching to go back. It's a pretty messy affair though so definitely don't wear white!


Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Australia Zoo Pt 1 - Photo Diary

Have you ever been somewhere that made you feel ridiculously excited but kinda sad and nostalgic at the same time? Well that's how I felt about Australia Zoo.
Growing up I was animal mad and watching Steve Irwin's various shows were always on my Saturday to do list. Going to Australia Zoo was one of those places we both wanted to go to purely because we had seen it on TV as kids and cos we obvs LOVED Steve Irwin.
The zoo is a beautiful tribute to him with loads of different creatures living in pretty sweet enclosures. The main aim of the zoo is to educate and to conserve and I think they do just that.
Below are some of the pictures I took of the various tributes to Steve Irwin aswell as pictures of the Wildlife Warriors show featuring one of his beloved crocs.
steve irwin
australia zoo
australia zoo
australia zoo
australia zoo crocodile
australia zoo crocodile
australia zoo crocodile

australia zoo crocodile
australia zoo