I know it’s easy to daydream about leaving the nine to five behind and going travelling, but reality is slightly different. I planned and saved for six months before I set off for Australia. What I will say is this: Make sure you get the correct visa. If you’re unsure of what’s available, you can find it all here www.immi.gov.au. If you’re short on cash I recommend getting a 12-month working visa which will allow you to work out there and finance your trip. Thinking about flights is also important; obviously you’ll want to get a flight as cheaply as possible, so think about when you want to go. Peak seasons are from June to July and December to January, but a handy little tip is to embrace your spontaneity; you can often pick up a cheap last minute flight.
There is a reason why the east coast of Australia is so popular with backpackers. It’s amazing. Starting in Sydney, I’m treated to all the city perks I could want – great nightlife in Kings Cross (remembering to call it The Cross to disguise my tourist roots) in the form of bars packed with live bands, clubs heaving with the kind of ridiculously good looking people you see in those Australian soaps, and an inexhaustible supply of Aussie faves Victoria Bitter (ask for a VB) and Bundaberg rum.
While I’d be pretty concerned if you didn’t know Sydney is home to the Opera House, you might not know the best way to appreciate the crazy structure in all its grandeur. The ferry from the harbour over to Manly is the way to go. After skirting round the iconic scenery, I end up just a few minutes’ walk from a stunning, sandy and super-cool beach where I find it difficult not to spend my whole trip.
As stunning scenery is definitely my thing, I took a trip up to the Blue Mountains. Climbing down the very aptly named Giant Stairway, cut into the mountains, life really comes into perspective. You get this amazing feeling of following the footsteps of thousands of people, all leading very different lives, all feeling the same sense of wonder at the beauty of the landscape. All very deep, but I’ll admit I needed this philosophical distraction when I got around half way down and the old knees started to ache!
For the sake of not filling the whole internet with reasons to love Australia, I’ll skip up the coast a bit, and out to Fraser Island. This place is awesome. It’s the largest sand island in the world and it’s covered in lush rainforests with some of the weirdest plants ever. There are beautiful lakes – Lake McKenzie will become your favourite place in the world for sure – and you’ll also see the odd dingo running around!
Although by this point they were running low, I hadn’t quite exhausted my funds (no idea how) so I decided to head up to holiday spot of choice for the rich and famous; Port Douglas. Yes, great logic I know, but I wanted to see if the place had much to offer a traveller sans-riches.
I tracked down a pretty nice hostel with a pool then headed for the beach. Wow, what a beach. It is four miles of golden sand and peaceful waters; un-crowded and superbly tranquil. I try yoga there in the mornings with the clearly loaded guests of the local apartments; I float about in the warm – seriously, it was warm – sea; I hang out in the friendly bar of the Central Hotel; I love every minute of my stay there.
My money finally runs dry and in a flash it’s time to go home, head filled with dreams of moving out to Aus for good.