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Australia: The Rest

16 Apr

After our camper van adventures we spent the holidays at my dad’s friend’s house in a southern suburb of Brisbane. It was weird celebrating Christmas while it was 30 degrees outside and we spent the better part of every day in the pool. For my birthday we went in to the city to Southbank to see the new Hobbit movie and have a yummy dinner. Just before New Years we switched locations and headed up North of Brisbane to stay with another one of my dad’s friends and his family for a few days. We had a lovely time with them and their dogs and had a fun time partying with everyone on NYE. After the holidays it was time to get down to business and we began our house hunting search back in downtown Brisbane.

We managed to find a place in Fortitude Valley, the heart of Brisbane’s entertainment district. It was great to have a home base again and regular internet but we couldn’t just settled down and relax for ever so it was time to find a job. Finding a job ended up being the hard part, Braden tried out a few jobs including telemarketing and moving which didn’t quite pan out and I had a long streak of nothing till a local Italian restaurant finally called me back in mid-February. Not long after I scored my job Braden switched up his resume tactics (going for more humour) and landed a job by the end of February at a small Mexican take away place. During February we did manage to hit up a water park, Seaworld, check out Surfers Paradise for a day, spend a few days down in Byron Bay catching waves (and sunburns), cuddle a koala and check out the wildlife at the Lone Pine’s Koala Sanctuary, as well as exploring more of Brisbane.

Once we started working we realized that our part time jobs just weren’t going to be enough to sustain us in the long term so we made the decision to start planning our route back to Canada a little earlier than we had planned. Australia is just quite an expensive place to live. March did consist of a lot of planning but we also managed to have some fun. We caught some awesome live performances by Macklemore, Deadmau5 and more at Future Music Festival. For our final big trip in Australia we decided to check out Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands since we had heard so much about it. Most people choose to see the islands by taking a multi-night sailing trip out to them but I am not the biggest fan of being on a boat for too long so we opted to take two day trips out from Airlie instead. The day we arrived in Airlie it was super hot and sunny out but that would be the last time we would see the sun during our time there. Our first day trip took us out to the tail end of the Great Barrier Reef (I figured Braden couldn’t leave Oz without seeing it) but due to the bad weather we encountered some pretty crazy waves out on the open ocean making me feel pretty sea sick for most of the day. After spending our whole second day hiding inside from the rain (well more like drinking inside the hostel’s bar) we were starting to feel less enthusiastic about spending another day out on the rain and wavy ocean. In the end our ocean rafting day trip out to see more of the islands, including the famous Whitehaven Beach, was rainy and a little chilly but we still managed to have a good time. Another unique Australian experience that we simply couldn’t leave without checking out was an AFL game and boy was it a lot of fun. During our last weekend in Brisbane we hopped down to the Gold Coast to attend Supernova (a mini comic convention) where Braden got to see a live LOL finals match and I got to see some of the unreleased Black Milk pieces (win win for both of us). Finally after some sad goodbyes to new friends we departed Brisbane for South East Asia to continue our adventures (in much cheaper countries).














The Promised Camper Van Post

15 Apr

I know it has been ages and ages since I last wrote a post and for that I’m sorry. As most of you know my boyfriend Braden met up with me in mid-December and we immediately set out on a week long camper-van road trip around the Sunshine Coast. Our first stop was in Mooloolaba for lunch and a brief stroll down the beach. We spent our first night in Noosa (I just had to go back) in a very cheap and unpowered camper site, which kind of sucked since all of our electronics happened to all die that day of course. For our first full day in Noosa we decided to hike through the same National Park that Grace and I previously hiked through only this time we went all the way down to the beach in Alexandria Bay. The beach ended up being a clothing optional beach so needless to say we saw a few naked grannies and grandpas wandering around (we however chose to remain clothed). After Noosa we drove further up the coast to Rainbow Beach, a sleepy little town that serves as the less busy gateway to Fraser Island. We stayed in a fantastic camper park right behind the main strip and directly across from the beach. Since our camper did not have 4 wheel drive we decided to book a day tour out to Fraser Island. On our day trip we saw a few dingos, tons of dead jellyfish, the shipwrecked S.S. Maheno, swam in Lake McKenzie, and wadded down Eli Creek.

We left Rainbow beach early the next day to head to the small town of Tin Can Bay in order to feed some dolphins that come in every day for breakfast. We spent the rest of that day making our way first through the town of Gympie then down the highway and through the hills and valleys of the inner part of the Sunshine Coast on route to Monteville. My dad recommended we check out this little sleepy hill town that boasted tons of B&Bs, quirky gift shops and lots of little restaurants. We had a wander through the little town and grabbed some lunch there before continuing down to our next camper site for the night. The other town my dad suggested we check out was Maleny which was just a little ways up the road from our camper site and we decided to pop into a local winery for a tasting (and a little shopping) on the way. The town of Maleny itself is quite small and very eco-orientated, boasting lots of organic stores and vegan restaurants. Our final stop along the Sunshine coast was Caloundra for a late breakfast but we didn’t stay long because storm clouds began rolling in.

Our last night in the camper was spent in a small camper park off a back road in Yatala, just south of Brisbane. The reason we stayed at such a random place was because of its proximity to a drive-in movie theatre which I had never been to before. We saw Anchorman 2 and Hunger Games 2 all from the comfort of our camper van’s bed, such a perfect date night. Our final day was spent at the Warner Brothers Movie World theme park for a day full of rides.












A musical farewell

23 Dec

Our flight back to Brisbane despite the delays was a breeze and we managed to navigate back to the Brisbane City YHA without much trouble. Back at the hostel my dad met us for a quick drink before he had to rush home to pack for his Christmas vacation. That night we decided we were too tired to make our own dinner so we wandered down to a nearby Thai restuarant for a delicious feast.
The next morning we woke up bright and early to hit the shops to get some last minute stuff for Stereosonic. The route to the festival was pretty fast and easy and soon we found ourselves in a massive line slowly working our way into the RNA showgrounds ready for a full day of electronic music. I’ve been to a few festivals in the past few years but this was my biggest one yet, with 6 stages and a main stage set in a stadium. First up we caught the tail end of Will Sparks’ set who I had never previously heard of but was pretty sweet and I definitely plan on checking out some of his stuff. Zedd was up next and he played everything that you would expect him to. After Zedd we took a wander around the showgrounds to grab some food and catch parts of Nicky Romero and Sebastian Ingrosso. We rested up and I got my energy back with the help of a big red bull so that we could make it till the end of the night. After Ingrosso a lot of people left the main stage but we stuck around and actually got a good spot before Empire of the Sun hit the stage. Empire of the Sun was definitely something different with their live band, dancers and ridiculous costumes. Last up for us on the main stage for the day was Calvin Harris. This was my fourth time seeing Calvin Harris live and I must say this was my least favourite set that I have seen him play, his new music is just a bunch of bro-house music and less awesome old school Calvin. After the disappointment that was Calvin we switched stages to the Sonic stage for some Aussie drum&bass with Shockone. Even though I managed to only catch 20 minutes of Shockone’s set he was by far my favourite act of the day. We tried to stay to see Boys Noize but were so exhausted that we ended up leaving early and catching the free train back to the hostel to pass out.
The next morning I managed to catch the pancake breakfast at the hostel, which was actually super disapointing as I had one burnt pancake and one that was still uncooked. After my sad breakfast I decided to relax by the pool and rest up before another long day of dancing. We got ready pretty quick for day two and decided to head over to the festival with the two Americans staying in our room. Again we got to the festival early enough to catch another random act this time being the Stafford Brothers. The brothers definitely had a lot of energy along with a giant kangaroo but they only played on of their own songs. First up for people that we were there to see was the Bingo Players who I had seen once before and were just as mediocre the second time around, though they did play Cry (Just a Little) this time. After the Bingo Players we said bye to our American friends for the day and headed out to find some food and more red bull for me. Finally we were into the best acts of the weekend (in my opinion) starting with I Am Legion at the UFK bass stage. I Am Legion is the new drum&bass and rap combo of Noisia and Foreign Beggars and they were unbelievably awesome. We changed stages to the Sonic stage to catch The Bloody Beetroots live set compltely with full band, they were insane! Krewella then took the stage and yet again blew me away for the third time with their amazing singing. Finally headlining for the closing night we caught the opening and closing of Nero (with their full live performance) and the middle of Doctor P’s set (during which he played all of the songs I wanted to hear him play). Both headliners were everything I wanted to see and more. By the time we hit the train my body was just about ready to give out from too much dancing and headbanging. That night we pretty much crawled into bed and even managed to sleep in the next day.
When we finally managed to drag ourselves out of bed we were starved but the cafe downstairs in the hostel was no longer serving breakfast so we had to limp down the road to get food. We ended up stumbling upon this adorable little breakfast nook that served us the best breakfast of our entire trip. The food did its trick and we had enough energy to make a trek out to southbank for an afternoon swim at the Brisbane city lagoon. For our last dinner together we went to an indian restaurant on the southbank since Grace had never tried indian before. After dinner we went to a sangria bar for some yummy refreshments for dessert. Back at the hostel Grace had some serious packing to do so I went and caught most of X-Men First Class, such an awesome movie (with some pretty good eye candy in it). The next morning we woke up very early so that Grace could catch the train transfer to the airport. We said a quick goodbye since neither of us functions very well before 7am and I wished her a very safe trip home. So concludes the adventures with Grace but stay posted for more adventures coming soon ๐Ÿ™‚









To the Port and Beyond

18 Dec

First off, sorry that I haven’t been updating this blog in the past little bit, things have been pretty crazy here down under so I haven’t had as much free internet time. Last time that I left off Grace and I were headed northward to Port Douglas from Cairns. Our lovely hostel Dougies Backpackers provided us with a free coach up the coast which made getting to the Port a breeze. After settling in to our quiet (finally) private room we decided to check out the 4 Mile Beach and walk up to town to do a bit of window shopping. That night we decided to splurge on a nice dinner at a local italian restaurant, my seafood pizza was delicious! We were pretty beat from another travel day so we headed back to the room fairly early that night and took advantage of the tv with cable in our room. The next morning we wandered back in to town for breakfast and to check out the amazing viewpoint of the beach since the sun had been hiding from us the previous day. Upon returning to our hostel we sorted out our tours for the next two days and hit the hay pretty early to rest up for our big adventures. Our first day tour was up to the Daintree rainforest beginning with a river cruise up the Daintree River during which we were supposed to see some crocodiles but we had no such luck since it was high tide, oh well. Next we journeyed up into the heart of the jungle for a mini jungle trek lead by our awesome tour guide who we chatted to for most of the walk. Up at Cape Tribulation we stopped for a quick peak at the beautiful sparkly beach (no really the sand is actually sparkles, see photo below) and for a quick provided lunch. On the way back down we stopped at a jungle ice cream shop which sold soooo many different flavour combinations, but of course I ended up with triple chocolate. We did a brief stop at the gorgeous Alexandra Mountain lookout before hopping back across the Daintree River and down to Mossman Gorge. At the Gorge we met with an Australian aboriginal who taught us about his culture and how his people makes use of the rainforest and its resources. After the talk we were bussed up to the swimming hole for a quick dip, I however did not get in as the water was far too cold (I know I make a terrible Canadian). Our bus then dropped us off at home and we went pretty much straight to bed since we had an even earlier start to make the following day. Our second day trip included a visit to the Wildlife Habitat for a breakfast buffet with the birds, basically the birds just kind of hung out around the dinning area which was kind of neat. We had some time to explore the rest of the mini zoo after breakfast and we got to feed some happy wallabies and kangaroos and check out tons of cool birds, crocs and koalas. We had just enough time to squeeze in some pictures of us holding a koala named Samson. Our real tour then started with Brett’s Kuranda Half Day Tour which picked us up right at the entrance to the habitat. Our tour was super small, just Brett an older married couple and us, score. We drove back down the very scenic highway and then hopped on the Kuranda skyrail over the jungle. The skyrail was just as awesome as I remember it being from when I was little. Up in Kuranda we were given some free time to wander through the hippy markets and shops and grab a bite for lunch. We had a yummy little lunch at this adorable little Crepe cafe. After lunch we dropped the couple off at the Kuranda Scenic Train (which us poor people couldn’t afford) and we were instead deposited at the sad mall at the bottom of the mountain for about an hour of mindless wandering. We then picked up the couple and headed over to Palm Cove for a drink on the waterfront, quite lovely. After being dropped off back at home and me promising the couple that I would definitely check out Tasmania we collapsed in to our bed only to realize that we had no way of getting to the airport in the morning, whoops. We woke up nice and early the next morning to talk to the lovely ladies at reception and managed to even score a free upgrade to a private airport limo, win!!! Our flight back down to Brisbane ended up being delayed so we spent a bunch of extra time in the Cairns airport but oh well what can you do. I promise to have the last chapter of me and Grace’s adventures soon!!!



















Time to hit the tropics

3 Dec

Our trip to the Brisbane airport was super quick and easy with my dad giving us a lift in. We check in easily and after a quick drink at the airport with dad we hoped on our quick two hour flight north to Cairns. My dad arranged for us to be met at the airport by one of his contacts and friends who drove us in to town and gave us a quick tour of the town. We then checked in to our hostel Giligan’s, our party hostel for the trip as it has a massive club attached to it. The girls in our room ended up being lovely so we all decided to grab dinner together that night at the hostel. Our meals were not the most impressive but ten dollars for dinner and a drink is pretty hard to pass up in this country. Thursday night at Giligan’s happened to be ladies’ night which meant we all got five free glasses of champagne served to us by shirtless waiters in bow ties, hilarious. After the champagne service there was a volunteer pole dance competition aka 18 year old backpacker girls trying their hardest to shake it in front of a pretty big crowd, also hilarious and our favourite actually ended up winning. We tried to keep dancing for as long as we could but exhaustion finally won out so we hit the hay still fairly early. Friday morning we decided to take our local guide’s breakfast suggestion and checked out The Lilypad cafe for one of the best breakfasts on our trip to date (pancakes, ice cream, hashbrowns and bacon yuuum). The rest of the day was pretty chill, we just napped and caught up on the internet. That evening some of the girls from our room came with us to check out the nearby night market. That night we called it an early night despite the thumping bass from the club downstairs. We woke up bright an early the next day to hop on our boat headed out to the great barrier reef with Down Under Cruise and Dive. We checked out two different sites and got to snorkel at both of them, Grace’s first time ever trying it! We son tons of funky coloured fish and even managed to spot a great big sea turtle! At the second location we hopped on a glass bottom boat tour and found nemo ๐Ÿ™‚ On the way home one of the hilarious crew members preformed some songs and improve with a bit of musical trivia thrown in (I even got a question right and one a drink score!). Even though we were super tired and sunburnt we got dressed for a big night on the town with the Ultimate Party bus bar crawl. We hit up four different bars and were ferried between them on a massive double decker bus. At each stop there were some scandalous games which were super funny to watch. It was a pretty fun night and we had a great time dancing with two fellow Canadian girls. The next morning we got off to a pretty slow start but eventually made our way down to the Cairns swimming lagoon with our new friends for a relaxing afternoon in the lovely water and sun. Since we were leaving the next morning we had another quiet night and hit up the local movie theatre to check out Thor 2 which was just as great as the first Thor (plus lots of yummy Chris Hemsworth and sassy Kat Dennings my faves). Next morning we were up nice and early to head to our last new destination and the most northern location of our trip, Port Douglas.













Skipping up the coast

29 Nov

So the night of my last post in Byron Bay ended with a massive thunderstorm that raged for two hours and gave us a pretty dramatic light show. We were supposed to go out that night but when the power went out because of the storm we changed our minds, that didn’t stop the schoolies kids though (basically australian grade 12 grad trip). The next morning we packed our bags and said a tearful goodbye to byron’s lovely beach and hopped on the Greyhound to Brisbane. The 4 hour bus ride wasn’t too bad and provided some cool views of the gold coast. Upon arrival in Brisbane we were greeted at the bus terminal by my dad which was really really awesome, so good to see him again after all this years. We quickly checked in to our room at the Brisbane City YHA and then my dad whisked us off to the best meal we have had in Australia! The next morning we made ghetto pancakes in a shake bottle at the hostel which turned out ok (despite some interesting cooking equipment). We spent the day road tripping around Brisbane with my dad who took us to the biggest mall in Australia (pretty sure yorkdale and sherway could fit inside), for a sushi lunch, and a few drinks at his favourite spots. We also stopped for a visit with my nana who is still up and moving at 98 (!!), it was so lovely to see her again. That night Grace and I went for a walk around the neighbourhood of our hostel and made a yummy pasta dinner (cause we are old ladies and never party lol). Next morning after epically failing at making pancakes we discovered that the cafe in the hostel makes amazing breakfast (we will be going back for the waffles next time!). Dad then picked us up and drove us up the Sunshine coast towards Noosa, stopping at a cool pub that has a car on its roof!! Upon arriving in Noosa we discovered that our hostel had lied to us and was actually in the middle of nowhere so luckly my father came to the rescue and switch us into a hotel right in the centre of town and two minutes walk to the beach. We had a delicious lunch at the beach club overlooking the ocean where I bought my dad his first drink from me. That night we took advantage of the tv in our room and curled up watching The Great Gatsby. We spent our full day in Noosa checking out the nearby shops and then hitting the beach and hotel pool, such a perfectly relaxing day. That evening we decided to hike out to a view point in the nearby national park to get some amazing sunset views. After reaching Hell’s Gates and taking a billion photos we started to head back towards town when Grace realized that she might have lost her passport. With the sun rapidly setting we ran back out to the viewpoint to look but found nothing. We walked back through the very dark park arm in arm with my phone out as a flashlight terrified that we were in some horror movie. Returning to the room we discovered that Grace’s brain was smart and left her passport safely in the room, phew! That night we pigged out on pizza hut and had an early night before heading to the airport in the am for our flights to Cairns (where we are now but I will update later with a full post about that).











Leaving the rain behind

23 Nov

When I last left off we had been stuck in the rain for three days in Sydney but held out hope for a sunny last day, which didn’t happen. Monday was just as rainy as the rest of the weekend had been so we hit the shops instead for some window shopping in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. So after an afternoon of doing what grace and I do best we met up with our tour guide from the weekend for so goodbye beverages at Scubar, the greasy club in the basement of our hostel. The club was packed with super drunk backpackers all crowding around to watch mini crabs race, so strange. After the races were over they actually played some good music so we hit the dance floor to bust a few moves. Tuesday morning was a rush to get packed and organize for our flights out to Byron Bay. Of course the sun was out just in time for us to chill inside the airport, gotta love mother nature. Virgin airways was fantastic and our flight only took an hour, win! Upon arriving in Byron the first thing we did after checking into the Cape Byron YHA was to hit the beach fiiiiiiiinally. Being super exhausted that day from traveling all we had the energy to do was to hit up the local cinema and check out the film About Time (which was suuuuper cute). Wednesday morning we had a very yummy breakfast at the hotel cafe around the corner where we met George the local celebrity lizard. The rest of the day was spent on the beach and at the hostel’s lovely pool just relaxing. Thursday was a pretty chill day as well but in the evening we decided we were ready for a hike. The best hike in town takes you along the coast to a couple amazing view points including the most Eastern point in Australia and ends at a very picturesque lighthouse. Friday we ventured out into the country side on the Happy Bus to a little hippy town called Nimbin. The town had a few cute shops and a very interesting museum about the town’s history. After a yummy lunch made by our fantastically eccentric guide we headed back to Byron. We decided that night to check out the local sleazy bar Cheeky Monkey’s, which had no dance floor but instead has tables that are meant to be danced on. We did some dancing but eventually decided to hit the hay fairly early. Today so far has been a pretty chill day with the highlight being getting laundry done (so thrilling). Tomorrow we head off for two days in Brisbane before we start the real trek northwards.











We’ve Come to the Land Down Under

17 Nov

After so many months of dreaming and planning I have finally made it to Australia. All three flights to Sydney were relatively uneventful (minus the window seat mix up in San Francisco, eastern USA why do you not like me?) and both us and our luggage made it across the world in one piece. The airport in San Francisco was pretty crap, we ate bad sushi and overpaid for crap hot chocolate plus there was just not that much around in general. On the other hand I must say that I was quite impressed with the Auckland airport, lots of shopping and pretty good food options plus I got to share my breakfast with a pretty cute bird. Arriving in Sydney was a breeze thanks to my father’s associate who met us at the arrivals gate and drove us into the city to our hostel. It was so nice to see the sun and be warm but unfortunately that was not to last. After checking in and getting settled at the Sydney Central YHA we were supposed to meet up with our tour guide for the weekend (grace’s cousin’s bf) for what we thought was to be a casual pizza dinner. So we get to this place Frankies and it turns out to be a really hip bar/club/pizza place complete with a bouncer. Pretty cool place all in all but our stamina was just not keeping up so after being awake since 4am we gave in and went home and to bed pathetically before ten pm, fail. Saturday morning we got up and moving to have breakfast at a very trendy hipster breakfast place with our tour guide. After breakfast we wandered up through Hyde Park, stopping through the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and ending up at the best view point of the Sydney Harbour and bridge. After getting a closer look at the botanical gardens and the Sydney Opera House we hopped in the ferry with some beverages and jettied out to Watson’s Bay for a picturesque view of downtown and some yummy fish and chips. Saturday night we were invited over to grace’s cousin’s for a lovely home cooked meal. Sunday so far had been suuuper rainy and cold so we have just sought refuge indoors and booked the rest of our vacation yay! Now if the sun could just come out tomorrow!!