If there’s one thing I expected Australia not to be, it’d be wet. Ever since we left Melbourne airport Gold Coast-bound, the rain has been pretty relentless. But, as a true Brit, I’m soldiering on and trying not to let the soggy weather get in the way of things…too much!
The next stop on our itinerary was Byron Bay. I’d heard so many great things about this place and, despite being a little ‘beached out’ after southern Thailand, couldn’t wait to get there and see what all the fuss was about.
Unfortunately, a week or two before we arrived, Australia’s east coast was hit by a fierce cyclone which tore through its coastline. And the weather had made little improvement for our visit.
We ambled down to the beach and the recent storm damage was evident: its dunes had been stripped and its waters were more brown than turquoise. Nonetheless, it’s an incredibly scenic stretch of coastline and its thunderous waves make it a surfers’ paradise.
No wave-riding for us: we made the ascent to the Byron Bay national park and lighthouse, passing through coastal rainforest and stopping off every so often to admire the roaring ocean. That was until a tempestuous storm blew in from the Pacific, of which the battering wind and driving rain eventually drove us back downhill to the refuge of our hostel. We did, however, make the entirety of the track the following day, in glorious sunshine, and even caught a glimpse of a pod of dolphins breaching the waves up top.
Despite Australia being (apparently) overrun by them, the only ‘roos we’d seen hopping about down under had been at Melbourne Zoo. Determined to feed a joey and cuddle a koala, we made Brisbane’s Kangaroo and Koala Sanctuary our next destination. A wasted journey, in the end, because the all-day-long torrential downpour left us with no other option than to stay indoors and read. We may’ve sent our criminals there all that time ago, but I hadn’t realised we’d sent our windy and wet weather along too!
The next pin on the map was Noosa – on the Sunshine Coast – which, I’m delighted to say, stayed true to its name, and where we got to enjoy the company of the lovely Rani and Eug, who kindly put us up for a few days.
My god. If I ever win the lottery, I’ll be buying a little place of my own here. I can only describe it as a dreamland – because its perfection is surreal. And, I guess, striking those lucky numbers will always be nothing but a dream!
Rani and Eug managed to take a few days off work, so we booked a three-day camping trip to Fraser Island, just off the Sunshine Coast. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting here, but I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed and unfulfilled by what it had to offer. Good company was what made it for me, rather than the endless visits to creeks and freshwater lakes. Although I can now tick dingos off my seen-wildlife list.
Next? A gruelling 28-hour bus journey to Cairns to catch our flight to New Zealand. I’ll let you know how that one goes.