Mid-semester break

“The best day of your life is the one where you decide your life is your own. No apologizes or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours. It is an amazing journey, and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day our life really begins.” – Bob Moawad.

This quote caught my attention particularly because I can personally relate to this with the experiences I have had in Australia so far. My trip during my mid-semester break was absolutely incredible and I did things that most people do not even get to experience in their lifetime.

About a month before this trip, I was really wanting to go to the Great Barrier Reef during our 10 day break of this semester. Mandy and I were casually looking at flights and events to book and within one week we were able to get Laura, Chris, and Ava to join us on our 2,000km trip up the coast of Queensland.

Gold Coast:

We were greeted at the airport by Uncle Will and Aunt Maxine after our one hour plane ride. Chris and I picked up our car that we were renting for the week, while Ava, Mandy, and Laura got some beach time at Broadbeach. After unloading our things, Maxine made us a lunch and we quickly made it to Tullebudgera Creek. It felt nice to tell my friends about the different spots in Gold Coast as we were driving around and it was comforting to be back at a familiar place. After our afternoon swimming in Tullebudgera we were treated like royalty and had a fantastic dinner at Maxine’s (with some wine as well). It was a great first night to the trip. And, Maxine and Will were amazing hosts and am still so grateful for that night (:

Brisbane:

Since, I spent some time earlier in my trip here, I planned out free things to do during our day trip to Brisbane (being on a uni student budget). We explored Southbank and had lunch there, walked around the city, and went on the free ferry ride around the river. But, we were eager to continue on our journey up the coast.

Hervey Bay/Fraser Island:

We came to Hervey Bay for our first night and booked our hostel last minute and very quickly. We soon found out minutes in that our room had bugs crawling around everywhere. We embraced the gross hostel and learned our lesson to not quickly book a hostel last minute and to check how clean they were. We quickly got out of that bug infested hostel and made our lunches for our Fraser Island day. We did not have anything planned in particular for this trip, so we just took the ferry ride over to the Island. The water was so clear and the island was absolutely beautiful. We went for a swim and lunch at the beach right by where the ferry dropped us off. We had a great walk around parts of the Island and the views were spectacular. I wish we did planned more things to do in Fraser Island but, I guess I will just have to make my way back there in the future. We spent our second night in a much much cleaner hostel and we were all looking forward to the remaining of the trip.

Utopia Rock Pools

After talking to some locals on Fraser Island, we were told to break up the 14 hour drive from Hervey Bay to Airlie Beach by stopping at these natural rock pools. We already planned on staying at Rockhampton that night, so we decided to take the day trip out to Utopia. Driving on dirt roads to the middle of nowhere Queensland, we saw many mountains and lots of wild cattle (probably more cows than people in this area). The rock pools were a part of a whole National Park called Mount Walsh. After a hike into the woods of these mountains, we found the rock pools they were absolutely stunning, and I was the first one to jump into the clear waters of these natural pools. We spent a couple of hours jumping off the cliffs into the pools, sliding down rock slides, and getting footage with my gopro. We were all so glad by the end of the day that we explored there. Then, we celebrated by splurging on a box of goon (gross cheap boxed wine) for the night.

Airlie Beach/Whitsundays

We were so eager to make it to Airlie Beach. I was already looking forward to the next two nights because the town of Airlie Beach was filled with young backpackers and fun night life spots. After eating dinner, we met the two other people staying in our hostel with us for that night and they invited us to go out with them that night. We had our two friends Annabelle and Lovisa come out with us, and we soon grew to a huge group having a party in our hostel.

The next day was one of my favorite days of the whole trip. We booked a catamaran day trip through the Whitsunday Islands before we left Sydney. We got on the boat at 8 AM and began our cruise for the day. It was absolutely gorgeous sailing through the islands, we got to snorkel, stop at Whitehaven Beach (which is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world), and got free drinks and an awesome lunch. The snorkeling was just a preview of what the Great Barrier Reef was going to be like and I was really excited and happy about it. We ended our day at about 5PM and had another night out at Airlie Beach where we met up with some of our other uni friends.

Cairns

Since we had a nine hour drive we decided to break up the drive again. Ava found another rock pool area that we could check out called Crystal Creek. We cooled ourselves down for the day and we able to see a waterfall (: We were all pretty beat after a long day of driving so we all crashed when we got to Cairns.

We booked another boat trip for the day. We went on a much bigger boat to the outer part of the Great Barrier Reef. This cruise included more snorkeling and an introductory dive. Originally, Mandy and Ava were going to join me for the intro dive, but they felt sea sick like Chris and Laura and skipped out on it. We made it out to the snorkeling area after a very rocky ride and had our first snorkel. The water was so choppy that it made it difficult to swim around in the water but the snorkeling was even better than it was in the Whitsundays. Then, I began my introductory dive which was my favorite thing that I have done so far in Australia. I had a one on one lesson with an instructor and I was able to see many parts of the reef, stingrays, sharks, nemo, and got to pet & feed a sea turtle. I was absolutely amazed by the scuba diving that I was convinced to do a second dive (where I actually could bring my gopro), but to my demise I did not see as many cool things as the first dive. But, I will always remember the experience of it.

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The next day Mandy, Ava, Chris, and I booked a sky diving trip. I have always wanted to go skydiving and I was so excited when I finally booked it. We all jumped into this tiny plane about 14,000 feet high overlooking the Great Barrier Reef and the mountains surrounding Cairns. I was freaking out when our instructor opened up the door, and when I saw Mandy jump out of the plane. Then my turn was up, and I barely had time to process that I was jumping out of a plane. The first ten seconds of the dive was the most exhilarating thing I have ever experienced (I thought I was going to die at one point). But, then it became so much more relaxing and I was able to see all of the land below me. We were all full of adrenaline after the dive but then decided to spend the remaining day at the pool at our hostel.

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Our hostel Gilligans was the nicest hostel we stayed at the whole trip and it felt more like a resort than a hostel. We had a great last night out at Gilligan’s bar and met up with more friends from uni. Then, we finally dropped our car off at its designated location and flew back to Sydney.

The amazing experiences of sailing through the Whitsundays, scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, and skydiving was incredible – but I thought that driving through the country side Australia and having the independence of doing what we wanted made the trip. This was the first vacation I ever solely booked on my own. I had never stayed in hostels before this trip and I went with four people that I have not known for long and that were all from different parts of the world. I met so many amazing people along the way and it was great getting to know the people who were on the trip with me.  I am also just so blow away by the things I saw and I am very sad knowing that the reef is slowly dying.

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This trip itself was something I will always remember and it has sparked my traveling bug and I am looking forward to more journeys in the future. Also, there will be a video footage of this trip soon (;

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