Over the next two weeks it became clear to me why Australia is renowned for its beaches, as I travelled from Sydney, through Byron Bay and Surfer’s Paradise up to Brisbane.
I spent a week in Sydney and I absolutely loved it. On my first day, the sun was out and I joined my hostel in their beach walk from Coogee to Bondi, walking 6km along the cliff top passing by five beautiful Sydney beaches. It was the perfect first day in the city; seeing it at its absolute best.
Sydney has always been a city I wanted to visit. When exploring the CBD, naturally the first place to aim for was the iconic harbour bridge and opera house, walking there through the historic Old Rocks corner of town. Something that slightly ruined the scenery was a massive cruise ship parked between the bridge and opera house. Together with my friend- also called Emily- we walked across the harbour bridge and then booked ourselves onto a boat cruise, which was 100% the best way to see the harbour from every angle. We finished off the most perfect day sightseeing with the most Australian meal we could think of- a Kangaroo burger (actually surprisingly good!)
Throughout the rest of my week in Sydney, I went to a pool party at a house in Randwick, had a day on Coogee beach and a couple of nights out. I also had my first little travel heartbreak saying goodbye to Emily- travelling alone is so intense, when you find someone you have a connection with, it is so sad to leave them/ have them leave you. I found the highs and lows were so much more intense this time round!
My next destination up the coast was Byron Bay, famous for its beaches and hippy surfer vibe. I stayed on a hostel right on the beach which was really cute; it had very outdoorsy vibe, with wooden benches on the sand and long-haired surfers walking barefoot everywhere. My first night was very cliche ‘backpacker in oz’- I went to a BBQ, shared some goon and played cards with pals.
On my first day there I took part in a surfing lesson and absolutely loved it; I can see why its addictive! I have surfed previously in France and England but haven’t for years. I was doing really well and standing up on the board etc but as my body got tired, I got wiped out hard by a wave and managed to give myself whiplash. The top of my back and neck were so painful and tight that I couldn’t move and proceeded to spend the next few days sat up in bed with ice on my back, making occasional trips to the pharmacist. Great few days that. Luckily, I had friends with two lovely Welsh girls who bought me frozen veg and pillows! I did like Byron but I couldn’t spend a long time there- there isn’t enough happening, its a small town and I prefer cities.
Next, I took the bus to Surfers Paradise on Easter Sunday and just stayed there just the one night. The size of the place surprised me- I hadn’t expected it’s fancy buildings and wide roads; it reminded me of an American city. After arriving at my hostel, I sunbathed on a gorgeous long beach but it got cold quickly because of the huge skyscraper style buildings creating a huge shadow. Perhaps because it was Easter (perhaps because it was a Sunday or maybe its always there) there was a huuuge market, miles along the beachfront, selling just about everything you could imagine. After wandering through that, and then along the main Surfer’s Boulevard full of bars and restaurants, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the place. It has been built up from scratch over the last couple of decades so doesn’t have much character or any history to it, but it feels like the kind of place you could have a good time in- plus the beach is endless.
In Brisbane, I was again just staying there for one night. My bus arrived reasonably early, I checked in, picked up a map and got ready to explore. It is a riverside town, similarly laid out to London. Not being located on the coast as most big Aussie cities are, it has a huge impressive artificial beach with a swimming pool and lifeguards. Not quite as good as the real deal but a good attempt!! I spent my day on a free boat trip along the river and met an old uni friend in the evening who was living out there for a year.
This first section of this East Coast trip was just as good as I’d imagined- but I had heard the best is yet to come! I had definitely already made the decision to do my working holiday in Australia as soon as I could- and probably live in Sydney or Melbourne. The city life in Sydney reminds me so much of London- only with beaches and amazing weather! Fingers crossed…