Australia has been a time to push my boundaries, not only have I learned to be less scared of the ocean but I have also face my fears of the creatures in the ocean. I have had the opportunity to see numerous sharks and reefs as well as see the creatures of shallow water (sting rays). Ocean creatures have a majestic quality. Unlike the creatures on land, they are much less defensive and have a high level of curiosity. It has been amazing to see what life is like under the sea!
After Brisbane and the Australia Zoo I read a book on Steve Irwin by his wife Terri! If I learned anything it was to accept creatures for what they are in their natural habitats. They lived a crazy life promoting and conserving the well-being of animals. I now realize that 9 times out of 10, the reason why an animal like a snake gets defensive, is because you have freaked them out and are in their personal space. I have a new love for every creature (yes, even snakes). With this being said it allowed me to become more comfortable running into strange and foreign wildlife all together.
I ended up moving to Rainbow Beach after Brisbane. This is where the famous Fraser Island is. It is the largest sand island in Australia. Here was where I was warned about everything that can kill and hurt you. But as I said earlier everything is tame until it feels threatened. I didn’t do the overnight camping, but I did a day trip. I saw the famous McKenzie Lake which is a fresh water lake that is sealed by layers of leaves – this prevents the water from escaping through the sand. I then got to do a bush walk and saw crazy old ferns that were massive and crystal clear rivers from the sand filtering the water and the 2nd most poisonous spider in Australia.
(we drove in these old military vehicles as the roads were sand and super rough)
After Rainbow Beach I ended up in Noosa. Noosa is a cute little town that had great shopping, a good bar, and decent sushi! I really enjoyed Noosa. I did a little bit of drinking and just got to relax by the pool and read (ladies night was when I was there so of course)! A day without travel or having to worry about much is taken advantage of when you are in the go as much as I was.
Our next travel day consisted of a very long train ride to Rockhampton and then a short bus ride to Emu Park! The trains weren’t bad, there was enough leg space and basic but limited wifi. Emu Park had some of the best accommodation I had stayed in on my trip in Australia. It was clean and had real beds with decent pillows (rare to find when living in hostels). The following day we did a day trip to Treasure Island (the Keppel Islands). This is where I actually got to attempt to snorkel and try to find some turtles. Turns out I was a chicken shit that day and didn’t want to go that deep into the ocean. We also got to experience an indigenous ceremony allowing us to learn more about what the original people of Australia valued and respected. I always like experiencing and learning about the history in each place I go to. I found it surprising that not many people were super open when talking about Australia’s colonial past. I know the gist of what happened, but it’s always nice to know the full story as it makes you think and respect different aspects of your life and their country as well as its people.
That evening we ended up having a family supper as a group, enjoying a couple drinks, and then pray that the drinks would take the edge off so you could sleep through the night on the night train. We then ended up in Airlie Beach! That day was long….. we got there around 6am and then had to board our Whitsunday boat at 1pm. I was on the New Horizon while my travel mates Mia and Al were on the Atlantic Clipper (if you were on any of these cruises you would know what the Clippers nickname is; the Clapper). This was a two day boat cruise that allowed me to snorkel, see Whitsundays National Park, meet some amazing people I would meet up with again in the future, enjoy lots of Goon, and see lots of amazing marine life! Whitsundays National Park for those of you that don’t know, has the worlds most amazing beach that is 98% pure silica sand. The grains were so fine that it could mess up your electronics if it got anywhere near them (no exaggeration, Mia had to get a new go pro because the sand caused the seal to be defective and they are supposed to be pretty damn waterproof to 10m). This is also the beach that Pirates of the Caribbean filmed on so that was pretty neat. After another terrifying bush walk of fearing for snakes the entire time, we got to relax on the beach and go see the Stingrays as well as Lemon Sharks! The stingrays had no fear at all they just swam by you like nothing mattered. Their barb on their tail was massive though, I was definitely a little freaked out by them. I was being extra careful where I stepped as they like to burrow themselves into the sand. The lemon sharks were also cool as they just kind of hung out and swam around! They were small, so you knew they wouldn’t hurt you.
After that we then got to go snorkelling on a reef! This was my first time snorkelling in an area that was deep and with a real reef. I think I felt more comfortable there because there was like 50 of us snorkelling (the Clipper parked beside us). So I got to snorkel with Mia and Al! There were so many amazing fish that had incredible colours! There were schools of them swimming everywhere. Most of the corral was okay, but a ton of it was bleached. I’m not saying that global warming doesn’t have an impact on the bleaching of corral, but it’s important to be educated on that its part of a healthy corral growth lifecycle. This particular reef had been wiped out by a typhoon, so natural disasters also cause the bleaching! I also saw and giant eel which was what freaked me out and made me decide to go back to the boat. I have a phobia of eels after New Zealand as they were in ALL of the fresh water over there (yes, even in the caves). Once the daily activities were done, it was back to drinking goon and socializing! This cruise was a huge highlight of my whole trip.
(These ladies provided endless laughs and fun the rest of my trip in Aus)
After the cruise Mia, Al and I ended up staying in Airlie beach for a couple nights. It was super quiet and not much else was happening unless you wanted to drink or hangout by the man made lagoon. You couldn’t swim in the ocean this high up because of the Salties (salt-water crocodiles) and because of the jellyfish unless you wore a sting suit. At the end of the day, it’s best just to avoid putting yourself in that position if there is any risk of croc being around. After Airlie beach, we took another train to Townsville which is where we ended up taking another ferry 😷 to Magnetic Island.
Magnetic Island was very small with only a handful of main roads on it. Al, Mia and I ended up renting a Barbie car and drove it all around the island numerous times to find the perfect picturesque spots. It was a neat Island that allowed us to feed Rock wallabies and find Koalas. Rock wallabies are these cute little animals that kind of look like Kangaroos! We also got to feed Rainbow Lorikeets which look like miniature parrots that were super colourful! We were given a mixture with soggy stale bread and you just had to hold your handout! They all came flying down and were super noisy. This was when I realized I really don’t like birds touching me or being anywhere near them. They kinda freaked me out… All I wanted to do was get out of there before they all starting pooping on us from the trees above. I also got to touch a snake here! Although I’m terrified of them, this one was very tame and was just kind of hanging around one of the sanctuary’s staffs neck.
Magnetic Island is also where I had the eventful night where someone took a piss on my stuff…. I remember waking up looking above my head and seeing someone hovering over my things. That’s when I heard a tinkling noise and confronted him. He tried to tell me that all my stuff was his (he was waisted, and couldn’t comprehend anything). He was literally lifting up my bikinis and my shoes saying that it was all his…. 🙄. He was a loser and got in my face and very defensive to the point I was to freaked out to sleep. I ended up talking to management who cleaned it up and the next day giving me a refund for that night and my other nights. I ended up moving to a new hostel after that where I stayed with Al and Mia. This is one of the worst things that can happen when you travel as you have to find a way to wash all your stuff and disinfect your bag. It was disgusting and one of the hostel horror stories no one wants to deal with. The new hostel I stayed in was the same one that the animal sanctuary was at and it was super nice (minus the outdoor shower with the frogies), so I can’t complain to much.
After a ferry back to Townsville we ended up catching another train to Cairns – the last stop up the east coast! Cairns was a nice town! But the further up north you got the more racism you saw towards the indigenous people which really hurt me to see. People suck sometimes. Other than that, I ended up meeting with my friends from my Whitsundays Cruise and staying with Al and Mia again. We stayed at a hostel called Gilligan’s Backpacker Resort. It truly was a party hostel. A lot happened and I had a ton of fun there! The hostel was actually super nice and clean and there was always something going on in the evenings! It was a good place to stay my last 5 days in Australia. There was a lot of beer and free champagne drank here (ladies night happened a lot)….. The amount of people I ran into here after a month of traveling up the East Coast was amazing, you end up recognizing a ton of people!
Up in Cairns I got to see the famous Millaa Millaa Falls which is where the Herbal Essence shampoo commercial was filmed and a few other things! It’s a hug waterfall that looks like it got carved but it’s all natural. Nature never ceases to amaze me especially after being to so many unique places. I also got to go scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef! This was amazing and a huge accomplishment for me. I used to be terrified of the ocean but Australia really taught me to love it. I learned what to watch which helped me feel more confident and safe on the oceans. Aus really helped me understand that all creatures are amazing and bring something unique to our ecosystems. Not that I didn’t think all animals were before, it just reinforced so many things I believed in. I’m super excited to continue to learn about the environment in the fall at the University Of Saskatchewan. There was a storm recently when I went scuba diving so the water clarify wasn’t great but I got to see clown fish in an anemone and swim around. Scuba diving is very neat, I want to get my scuba certification at some point now. It feels like your floating and your in a totally different world. The dive I did only lasted about 30mins and I had a guide with me helping me see and telling me what I could and could not touch. I learned how to pressurize my ears and work my way down slowly too. I also got to snorkel around the reef which was very cool. The colours were amazing and there was so much there to see! A reef shark ended up hanging out beside us which was super cool! Again, the reef sharks are smaller than we are so there was no chance of it harming us. I wish I got over my fear of scuba diving sooner as it was so cool to do in the Great Barrier Reef!
As the days ended in Australia the more sad I became that I was leaving as I had made so many amazing friends over there! Al and Mia had to go back to Brisbane to work and finish up their working holiday visa which was a super sad day for me! They were around for so much of my time in Australia and were awesome to have around. Mia said she was going to get a working visa to Canada at some point so I’m looking foreword to that! After they left I met up with Anna who was one of their friends as well! I had only hung out with her a couple times but she was always nice and when your traveling you just click with some people and they become part of the adventure! Millie, Charlie, Cash, Ellen, Kirstie, and Phoebe were all people on my Whitsundays Cruise, I got to see all of them except for Phoebe again. I did my best to try and promote Canada as the next travel destination, so hopefully I’ll see them soon! Some of them are still traveling which is awesome to see! I know Millie did the New Zealand thing like I did and it looks like she’s having just a good a time as I did! Travel friends are very unique as they become family and a support system for you when your a solo traveler! I miss all of them and hope to see them in the near future!
Australia, you were amazingly different, very warm, and full of surprises. I learned lots about myself there and overcame a couple fears, you were great for me! But time to go see where most of my friends came from; England, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland!